The Government has approved the drafting of legislation that will bring an end to the system of wardship in Ireland.
Under the system, an adult was taken into wardship if the courts were satisfied, on the basis of the medical evidence available, that the person was incapable of managing his or her own affairs.
Roderic O’Gorman (Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, pictured) and Anne Rabbitte (Minister of State with special responsibility for disabilities) will be responsible for drafting the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill 2021.
The new legislation will amend the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, in an effort to improve the processes and safeguards for those who will make use of the new decision-making supports.
The Government says that the change means a move away from the “status approach” of the wardship system to a “flexible, functional approach, where capacity is assessed on an issue- and time-specific basis”.
Minister O’Gorman said that the Government recognised the importance of the “much-needed and long-awaited" reform that the act represented, and had committed to implementing it by June 2022.
The Decision Support Service (DSS), the organisation that will operate the 2015 legislation, is due to become fully operational by July 2022 – a delay from the initial target of 2018.
The proposed bill also includes measures related to the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Ireland – including legislating for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s position as the national monitoring body for the convention.
The new law will also increase the public sector's obligations for employing people with disabilities. from 3% to 6%.