We voted overwhelmingly recently for a yes Vote for Equality for LGBT in the Civil Marriage Referendum but we still have much inequality in our Great country. People with Disability are among the most disadvantaged and marginalized citizens in our country. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international agreement directed at changing attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. Ireland was one of the first EU member states to sign the Convention when it was opened for signature on March 30th, 2007.However, almost eight years have passed and persons with disabilities and their families are still waiting for Ireland to make the CRPD a part of Irish law. A big barrier to Ireland ratifying the CRPD is the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871.

The Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 referred to people in such awful terms as ‘idiot’, ‘lunatic’ and ‘unsound mind’ and there are currently over two and a half thousand people in Ireland who are Wards of Court on account of age, intellectual disability, mental illness or brain injury.

As we approach the eight-year anniversary of Ireland signing the CRPD, we need to repeal the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 and it is only fitting that we at last introduce the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill.

People with a disability have being waiting 144 years for equality and there time has come we need to change the Law now. It is vital that as we approach the centenary of 1916 that all our children are treated equally. A nationwide discussion is needed on how we treat people with a disability and a system of direct payments must be introduced so every person has a individual choice over their own lives.

Factsheet on the Assisted Decision Making Bill; October 2015

What is Assisted Decision Making?

This means that a person whose Decision-Making capacity is in question can appoint a person to assist, co-decide or represent them for the purpose of making a decision.

Why might my capacity be ‘in question’?

The Bill does not limit the provisions to a person with a disability or impairment. It sets out a functional test that outlines a person’s capacity. Everyone is to be presumed to be able to make all decisions unless the contrary is shown.

What is the definition of capacity?

It is the ability to understand, at the time that a decision is to be made, the nature and consequences of the decision to be made by him or her in the context of the available choices at that time.

How is capacity decided?

A person can be said to lack capacity to make a decision if they are not able to

 understand the information relevant to the decision,

 retain that information long enough to make a voluntary choice,

 use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision,

 to communicate his or her decision in whatever way they communicate (not only verbally)

If I lack capacity, what does that mean?

A person cannot lack capacity as a decision maker but may lack capacity to make a particular decision at a particular time. This capacity may be regained at a different time and for a different decision.

What is the Decision Support Service (DSS)?

The DSS is a part of the court service established to deal with assistant decision making. A Director will be named to promote public awareness of the law, information and guidance, develop codes of practice, advise state bodies, make investigations and keep a record of assistance agreements and reports from representatives.

What about ‘informal decision-making’

There is no scope for ‘informal decision-making’ to be made. If an individual is not making their own decisions or requires support then one of the structures outlined below will need to be utilised. Page2

This table outlines the structures in the Bill and the main elements
Who is the ‘appointer’? A person over 18 whose capacity is in question
Structure Assistance Co-Decision Making Decision-making representative
What is it? Appointer chooses an assistant to assist with decisions on personal welfare or property andaffairs, or both Appointer chooses a co-decision maker to jointly make one or more decision on personal welfare or property and affairs. A applies to court to be made a decision-making representative and be given decision making powers.
Who can the person be? A person chosen by the appointer.Appointer can have more than one assistant but only one per particular decision A person chosen by the appointer.A relative or friend of the appointer who has had such personal contact over such period of time that a relationship of trust exists between them. Any person who is 18 years or older and who has a bona fide interest in the welfare of a relevant person.The court will consider the will and preferences of the individual and family structures.
What’s the role? Role of the assistant is to Get the information needed to make a decision

 advise on the decision by explaining the information

 get the will and preferences of the appointer

 assist the appointer to make and express a decision,

 Try to ensure that the appointer’s decisions are carried out

The role of the co-decision-maker is to Get the information needed to make a decision

 advise on decisions

 Make decisions together with the appointer

 Find out the will and preferences of the appointer

 Help the person express a decision,

 ensure that the appointer’s relevant decisions are implemented.

The role of the decision-making representative is to take decisions on personal welfare or property and affairs, or both

 Report into the Director of the DSS

 Keep accounts and records.