Fianna Fáil TD for Laois Sean Fleming says he is disappointed to learn that the Government is yet to commence The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act despite the legislation being signed into law in December 2015.

The Act overhauls legislation governing mental capacity in Ireland. The previous legislation dates back to 1871 and is regarded as outdated and unsuitable for dealing with people whose ability to make decisions is affected through illness, injury or another cause. The purpose of this legislation is to help the most vulnerable people in society make their own decisions and avoid the over bureaucratic Wards of Court system where possible.

Deputy Fleming said, “The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 is an important piece of legislation as it allows a transition from substitute to supported decision making. It empowers individuals to make their own decisions wherever possible.

“The provisions of the legislation replace the Wards of Court system with a legal framework to support people in exercising their decision making capacity. The underlying aim is to allow individuals to better manage their personal welfare, property and financial affairs. It provides a range of supports such as decision making assistance, co-decision making and decision making representation to support people in maximising their own decision making capability.

“The legislation also sets out that in circumstances where it is not possible for a person to exercise capacity even with support then another person can be appointed by the Court to act as their representative. The legislation also clarifies the law for carers who take on responsibility for persons who need help in making decisions. It also provides for the establishment of an Office of Public Guardian within the Courts Service tasked with supervisory powers to protect vulnerable persons.

“This legislation was debated extensively in the Dáil between 2013 and 2015. It was signed into law by the president on the 30th December 2015. Despite this the HSE has confirmed to me that the Government is yet to actually commence the legislation. This means that while it technically is now part of Irish law, the provisions contained within it are yet to be exercised. This is deeply disappointing considering the fact that human rights and advocacy groups have pointed out that the current Wards of Court system is no longer fit for purpose.

“I will continue to pursue this with the Government until this legislation is implemented. It’s unacceptable that such an important piece of legislation has not yet been brought into operation,” concluded Deputy Fleming.