I attended a very informative talk recently held by Inclusion Ireland on the current Bill that is making its way through the Oireachtas. The seminar was based around the new Assisted Decision Making (capacity) Bill 2013 and how this would change the way people with disabilities can make decisions about their own life.

At present the current law that is enforced is the Lunacy Regulations (Ireland) Act of 1871. To say this Act is outdated is a dramatic understatement. This Act is based around people having full capacity or no capacity! As we all are very familiar with our own loved one who has a disability we know that there is no such thing as “no capacity” and certainly a sliding scale towards “full capacity”.

As the law stands at the moment – when any person turns 18 then they automatically become an adult. The parents/carers who assisted their children in life decision from birth to 17 are then cut from the picture in the eyes of the law, regardless of the disability.

The current Bill will not make any amendments to

  • Voting rights

  • Marriage & Civil Partnership

  • Adoption

  • Jury duty

  • Mental health treatment

  • Consent to a sexual relationship.

But what the new Bill will change, is the presumption that everyone has the capacity to make decisions,  with the right support, a person with a disability will be able to make decision on important aspects of their lives such as

  • Managing money

  • Medical treatment

  • Where a person wants to live

  • Who a person wants to live with

  • Make their own travel arrangements

If the bill is passed then there will be 3-main avenues going forward;

  1. Assistance Decision – a representative will present the information in a clear and understandable manner so a person with a disability can make an informed choice.

  2. Co-Decision – Supports a person with a disability to come to a decision.

  3. Decision Representative – A court appointed representative will make decision on behalf of a person with a disability.

This was my grasp of the seminar, and the reason I wrote about this area is to bring greater awareness to what I believe to be a very important Bill that will impact everyone with a disability.

I would urge all parents to do their own research and attend any seminars on this subject. Contact Inclusion Ireland for further guidance and speak to your solicitor for personalised legal advice on you, your child and family legal rights going forward.