Inclusion Ireland welcomes today’s report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice & Equality on Wards of Court and in particular the recommendations by the Committee that an independent audit be held into both handling of wards' funds and the interaction of the Courts Service with wards and their families.
Together with the Justice for Wards group, which was formed by family members of Wards of Court, Inclusion Ireland is calling on the Minister for Justice to implement the Committee's recommendations as a matter of urgency and to meet with the families involved.
Sarah Lennon, Communications and Information Manager of Inclusion Ireland, said, "The Committee has recognised the need for a culture change in the Courts Service to ensure that families are more involved and informed in relation to the affairs of Wards of Court. We hope that the recommendations contained in this report can help families of wards get the answers they are looking for."
"Inclusion Ireland and Justice for Wards also calls for the Minister for Justice to amend the relevant legislation to allow the Comptroller & Auditor General to audit the Wards' Funds. This change in law has been recommended many times and requires a simple legislative amendment."
"The Ward of Court system is provided for by the Lunacy Act 1871, which is an out of date, Victorian-era law that is no longer fit for purpose. Today’s report and the experience of many individuals and families affected by Wardship tell us that it is imperative that we fully commence the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015."
Mary Farrell, Justice for Wards representative, said, "At the hearing with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice & Equality meeting on 11 October last, we called for an inquiry into the overall operation of the Wards of Court System and particularly in relation to transparency and accountability regarding investments made on behalf of Wards. Justice for Wards wishes to express our appreciation of the efforts and work done by the Committee on behalf of Wards and their families."
The Committee also recommended that the Government ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and while the Lunacy Act 1871 remains on the Irish Statute book there is a major legislative barrier in the way of Ireland complying with the Convention.
Inclusion Ireland is a national rights-based advocacy organisation that works to promote the rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families. The advocacy organisation provides a central forum to identify priorities and formulate nationally agreed policies to present to government, statutory bodies, other relevant groups as well as the general public. Inclusion Ireland campaigns for changes in services and legislation that will improve the quality of life and participation of people with an intellectual disability in Irish society in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Justice for Wards
Justice for Wards Group was established by families to support Wards and their families in relation to problems they were experiencing with the Wards of Court System and particularly issues that came to light following the financial crisis.
Nyle Lennon, Communications Officer, 086 837 3394
Justice for Wards, firstname.lastname@example.org