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1,250 new wards of court despite warnings that system is not fit for purpose
Pic: Ireland's Content Pool

22 Nov 2019 / courts Print

1,250 new wards of court despite warnings that system is not fit for purpose

Over 1,250 people have been made wards of court despite overhauled legislation.

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 is a statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties, but it remains unclear when the law will be commenced.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly criticised the number of people who have been made wards of court “since the Oireachtas decided that this was not the right way to proceed”.

A total of 290 wards of court were declared in 2016, 325 in 2017 and 327 in 2018, and 316 so far in 2019.

Outdated

Catherine Connolly told the Dáil this week that an Oireachtas committee had issued reports “putting us on notice that the system is not fit for purpose, it is outdated and that it is not in keeping with our obligations”.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was conscious of the points raised.

“I am very keen to see progress on the implementation of the legislation as enacted,” he said.

Flexible functional definition

“When the Act is fully commenced, the law will be changed from the current all or nothing status approach to a flexible functional definition, whereby capacity is assessed only in relation to the matter in question and only at the time in question.”

The minister said preparations are being put in place to allow for further commencement orders for the provisions of the 2015 Act when the director of the new Decision Support Service (DSS) within the Mental Health Commission is ready.

Solicitor Áine Flynn was appointed as the inaugural director of the DSS two years ago and is a member of the Law Society Human Rights Committee.

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