Fianna Fáil Mental Health Spokesperson James Browne TD says that the Government must act swiftly in responding to the Court of Appeal’s judgement that section 15.2 of the 2001 Mental Health Act is unconstitutional.

“It is welcome that the Court has suspended its findings for six months in order to give the Government time to bring forward a solution on this matter. We now need to see a sense of urgency in this regard.

“The record of the Government to date in relation to changes to the 2001 Act does not inspire confidence. It’s more than three years since the report of the Expert Group on the Review of the Act was published. Then Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said she had instructed officials to draw up a new Bill but we are still waiting for that Bill.

“All Government has done since then was a very short Bill in late 2015 on the administration of Electro-convulsive Therapy (ECT) to patients involuntarily admitted to psychiatric hospitals.

“The spring summer 2018 legislative programme says that ‘draft heads are in preparation’. Indeed the first mention of a Mental Health amendment act to deal with the 2015 recommendations in a legislative programme did not come until autumn 2017. This was after the Dáil had passed a Fianna Fáil Bill which sought to implement a number of the recommendations of the 2015 Expert Group report.

“The Court of Appeal judgement wants an ‘immediate and imperative response’ as it findings will have will have very serious implications when it comes into effect in six months. Ministers Harris and Daly need to get a move on now.”