15 organisations call for human rights based capacity law

1 May 2012

Today 15 civil society organisations have issued a joint letter welcoming today’s publication of the Oireachtas Justice Committee’s report on Ireland’s new capacity law.

The joint letter also calls for the Government to ensure the new capacity law is in line with Essential Principles: Irish Legal Capacity Law, which calls for the proposed law to have human rights at its core. This document was drawn up by NGOs in consultation with Irish experts and represents the areas of intellectual disability, mental health, older people, neurological difficulties and brain injuries.

Our letter calls for the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and the Minister for State Kathleen Lynch, to take on board the recommendations of the Oireachtas Justice Committee and the Essential Principles.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, one of the signatories, said: “Legal capacity is about making decisions and having such decisions respected in all areas of life (for example decisions about your medical treatment, how you spend your money, where you live, etc.). Ireland currently has the most outdated capacity law of its kind in Europe. The law currently governing capacity is more than 140 years old - the Regulation of Lunacy (Ireland) Act 1871.

“This new law will apply to all of us, but has particular and profound implications for tens of thousands of people experiencing mental health problems, intellectual disabilities, dementia, neurological difficulties and acquired brain injuries, their families and friends.

“Ireland has the chance to really lead and produce effective new law that protects people’s rights. The Essential Principles and the Oireachtas Justice Committee report should guide and inform this important new law. Putting these principles in law would enable the Government to honour its Programme for Government commitment to introduce capacity legislation in line with the UN Convention.”

Read the letter in today's Irish Times.

Read Essential Principles: Irish Legal Capacity Law.

Read the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality's statement on the proposed Mental Capacity Legislation.