Dáil debates

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2008 [Seanad]: Second Stage


7:05 pm

Photo of Colm KeaveneyColm Keaveney (Galway East, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Fianna Fáil welcomes this Bill and will support it. We believe the wishes of involuntary patients in psychiatric hospitals who have the capacity to refuse electro-convulsive therapy, ECT - to say "No" - should be respected. The expert group on the Mental Health Act 2001 published strong recommendations in this regard earlier this year. The law currently provides for two consultant psychiatrists to authorise the application of ECT. The Minister of State will recall that I asked a question on this issue last March. I was alarmed by the parliamentary response I received. The Minister of State and I agreed that something needed to be done in this area. According to figures released to me on foot of a parliamentary question, some 42 patients with mental ill-health were subject to ECT throughout 2014. That figure continues to increase. It is appalling in this day that service users are exposed to ECT. I suppose we have assumed for some time that the practice of ECT has had a positive consequence. There is no doubt that ECT can be an extremely traumatic treatment. The Minister of State and I will agree that this is a human rights issue. People have the right to say "No" to a particular treatment. A couple of years ago, the UN special rapporteur on torture urged this country to ban the practice of ECT in its entirety. We have spent too many decades on this issue. I am delighted to have an opportunity to speak in support of the Minister of State. I am limiting my speaking time to encourage as much participation as possible in this debate. We will support all of the Minister of State's amendments on Committee Stage to facilitate the successful and immediate expedition of this legislation through the House.


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