Thursday, 15 September 2022
Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill 2022: Second Stage
I welcome the Minister, and the observers in the Gallery, to the House. I am responding on behalf of my colleague, Senator McGreehan, who is unfortunately held up but hopes to be here before the end of the debate on the Bill.
I will put on the record of the House that Fianna Fáil supports this Bill, which provides the necessary amendments allowing for the commencement of the remaining parts of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 that was signed into law in December 2015. A number of sections of the 2015 Act have not yet been commenced, including assisted decision-making, co-decision-making, enduring power of attorney, advanced healthcare directives and detention matters. Commencement of the Act is a key programme for Government commitment and a clear obligation under the UNCRPD. The 2015 Act strengthened the rights of all individuals but will have particular relevance for people with intellectual disabilities, older people with diminished capacity or dementia, and people whose capacity has been affected by a traumatic injury. It recognises that all people have equal legal rights and respects the right of everyone to make choices for themselves and at all times to be treated with dignity and respect.
The legislation also ensures that people can plan ahead and record their decisions in the event they lose capacity to make decisions in the future. The Act supports the implementation of an expanded decision support service. I understand the DSS will ensure that this modern human rights-focused and person-centred legal architecture can support and vindicate decision-making for the estimated 200,000 people in Ireland with an issue related to capacity. The Bill also enshrines in law a requirement for the gradual doubling of the minimum statutory target for the employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector to reach, as the Minister outlined, 6% by 2025.
We very much welcome this legislation. I again apologise for my colleague, who hopes to be here before the end of the debate to give her major contribution. I thank the Minister for his comprehensive introductory speech.