Friday, 6 September 2019
Department of Justice and Equality
Commencement of Legislation
528. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the reason for the four year delay in commencing the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 with the exception of Part 8; the planned date of commencement for the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35301/19]
529. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 with the exception of Part 8 will be commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35154/19]
665. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when the decision support service within the Mental Health Commission will become operational; the reason it has taken so long; the impact this is having on the commencement of large parts of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and the operation of the wards of court system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36386/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 528, 529 and 665 together.
The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health).
The commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act is expected to take place next year.
A number of the provisions of the 2015 Act have already commenced including Part 1 (excluding sections 3, 4 and 7 and Part 9 (excluding sections 96 and 102 and Chapter 3). These provisions were commenced to progress the establishment of the Decision Support Service and the recruitment of its Director, Ms. Áine Flynn. Ms. Flynn was appointed in October 2017.
The Decision Support Service is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act next year. As I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, there are many complex strands to this preparatory work, including the involvement of multiple organisations. I am advised that this lead in time is required to ensure the following will be in place to ensure the Decision Support Service is established effectively: staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations.
A high-level Steering Group of senior officials is overseeing this on-going work. Membership is drawn from my department, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the Decision Support Service.
The 2015 Act will also abolish the current Wards of Court system, by repealing the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871. Section 54 of the 2015 Act provides for the review by the wardship court of the capacity of all current adult wards within three years of the commencement of Part 6 of the Act.
Part 6 of the 2015 Act will be commenced when the Decision Support Service is open for business and ready to commence the new decision-making support options. The adults currently in wardship will transition to the new decision-making support arrangements provided for in the 2015 Act on a phased basis over 3 years from the commencement of Part 6.
Certain provisions of Part 8 of the Act related to advanced healthcare directives have also been commenced by my colleague, the Minister for Health.