HSE reliance on institutions results in deprivation of liberty by Courts

Inclusion Ireland, the National Association for People with an Intellectual Disability, has called on the Government to end its practice of depriving disabled people of their liberty via the Ward of Court system and State run institutions.

The advocacy organisation made its call following a court case in which a man was made a Ward of Court under the basis of conflicting medical evidence that left uncertainty around whether the person was able to make their own decisions or not.

The system in Ireland currently allows a court to step in and act as an agent when a person is deemed to lack the ability to make their own decisions. There are almost 3,000 people in wardship in Ireland with assets controlled by the Courts Service in excess of €1 billion.

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, said: “Inclusion Ireland understands that it is likely to be 2020 by the time the Decision Support Service is fully established and the Government fully enacts the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act.”

“The current preference of the State is to deprive people of their liberty by relying on the broken Ward of Court system rather than by providing citizens with supports to stay in a home of their own in the community. Even in a case where a person’s ability to make some decisions is in question, they should have the right to remain at home with supports.”

“The continued use of often abusive institutions or congregated settings, where around 2,500 people live without having given their consent, is another example of the State’s preference for institutionalisation rather than investing in homecare and community supports.”

“The failure to support people at home, close to their family and community, displays the Government’s indifference towards the liberty of disabled people. This recent wardship case showcases a broken system that denies thousands of citizens of their liberty.”

“The Government should prioritise home supports and community based interventions over institutionalisation. Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath needs to ensure that this Government commits the necessary resources to establish the Decision Support Service properly and quickly, and provide the funding required to end the practice of institutionalisation of people with disabilities.”