Call for reform of 'lunacy' Act
A disability group has called for the reform of a 151 year-old law that refers to those with intellectual and mental health difficulties as "lunatics".
Inclusion Ireland, an umbrella body that represents people with intellectual disabilities, has criticised the Government for failing on its 2011 Programme for Government promise to reform the 1871 Lunacy Regulations Act.
Affecting those with intellectual disability, serious mental health problems, dementia and acquired brain injury, the body says every week it receives calls from people whose right to make medical, financial, travel and marriage decisions for themselves is impacted by the Act's 'Ward of the Court' provision.
Speaking today, which is International Day for People with Disabilities, Inclusion Ireland chief executive Paddy Connolly said Ireland's legislation lagged behind the rest of Europe.
“While other countries allow for people to be supported to make decisions, Ireland takes all rights away from the person and the Court imposes a decision on them”, Mr Connolly said.
He said we needed to move away from “the paternalistic stance of looking after what we decide are people's 'best interests,'” and support them to make their own decisions.
Without modernising Ireland's capacity laws, he said the Government could not ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which it signed up to six years ago.
He said though reform was promised in 2008 by the previous government, and again in the 2011 Programme for Government of the current administration, a Bill had yet to be brought before the Oireachtas.
“A 'Mental Capacity' Bill is currently on the 'A' list of legislation, but it was also on the 'A' list for the spring session and yet no Bill was published”, Mr Connolly said.
“On today, International Day for People with Disabilities, this Government must do the right thing and finally take the word 'Lunatic' out of Irish law.”