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#YFG15 Resolution - Enactment of the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill 2013 - Young Fine Gael

#YFG15 Resolution - Enactment of the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill 2013

Resolution
Enactment of the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill 2013 before the end of this government term
Presented at the Young Fine Gael National Conference in Limerick Saturday March 7th 2015
Proposed by Wexford YFG, Dublin Regional Council, UCD YFG, Maynooth YFG, UL YFG, DCU YFG

Recognising/ Background

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was signed by the Irish government of 2006, and ratification of same requires changes to Irish laws particularly the Lunacy Regulation Act 1871. Publication of the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill 2013 represents a major step in this process towards ratification of UN 2006.
  • The Lunacy regulation Act (1871) has functioned to deny basic civil rights to those with reduced decision making capacity – intellectual disability and dementia- for over 150 years.
  • Within the criminal justice system, The Lunacy Regulation Act (1871) embodies a status based approach to capacity where, regardless of severity or demonstrated competency – witnesses can be deemed "unreliable" based on a diagnosis of eg: Down Syndrome. As a result cases involving a witness and/or victim with disabilities are easily dismissed despite their particular vulnerability to violent crime.
  • There is a clear disjuncture between the Lunacy Regulation Act 1871 and more recent laws such as Criminal Evidence Act 1992, Disability Act 2005 and Health Act 2007, resulting in a lack of consistency in how court personnel respond to victims of crime with disabilities.
  • The rigidity associated with procedures for evidence provision, including the emphasis on verbal testimony acts to the detriment of witnesses with disabilities that affect cognition and communication
  • There is a lack of obligation upon court personnel to communicate with witnesses in line with the recommendations provided by a relevant expert witness: psychologist/speech and language therapist or family member
  • Enacting the Capacity Bill means abolition of the Lunacy Regulation Act (1871) and the Marriage of Lunatics Act (1811).The Capacity Bill is currently at committee stage in the Dail, and is at a heightened risk of not being enacted within the term of this government.
  • Capacity2Change is a member lead campaign, created in October 2014 by Rachel Kidd Trinity YFG Equality Officer and Patricia Kenny UCD YFG Equality Officer. In Capacity2Change has successfully generated awareness about the Capacity Bill and on February 2nd 2015, a panel discussion organised by Capacity2Change, attracted 87 attendants (YFG and non-YFG members).

Acknowledging

  • That this Bill will greatly improve the quality of life of those with reduced decision making capacity by allowing them greater autonomy and self-determination. It will allow people with intellectual disabilities or cognitive disorders to be subjects with will and preferences, not objects in need of regulation.
  • That this is a human rights issue, which challenges society to be more inclusive and to respect the rights of vulnerable individuals. This bill will have a direct impact on the lives of those with intellectual disabiliites, severe brain trauma, mental disorders and cognitive disorders.
  • That one in ten of us has a sibling/close relative with an intellectual disability. Also, dementia is increasing in prevalence. Therefore we need to zoom out, look beyond ourselves and challenge society to be more inclusive and more accommodating when conceptualising those deemed entitled to be in a relationship own a home, own property, give consent get married
  • That the Irish constitution calls for equal treatment of all of its citizens, and that this bill would bring our law into compliance with the constitution, EU Convention on Human Rights, and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
  • That politics is a vehicle for social change, not just economic growth. Young Fine Gael,as a youth wing, needs to represent the needs of all youths, not just members.
  • That this campaign requires support from a larger organisation in order to reach a wider audience. It has been led so far by two YFG members, and this work needs to be built upon.
  • That documents published by both the Health Service Executive and the Law Reform Commission have called for reform of this law and indicated a readiness to adopt the bill. These documents include the Health Service Executive Consent Policy (2014) and The Law Reform Commission 2010 Vulnerable Adults and The Law.
  • That the current government and previous governments have been working on this bill since 2007 and the time has come for its enactment. Fine Gael has been involved in drafting this legislation since the beginning; however, we run the risk of not enacting the bill within this term of government.

YFG calls upon

  • The enactment of the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill (2013) before the end of term for this current government.
  • A subcommittee to be established with the sole priority of promoting awareness and enactment of the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill (2013).
  • The subcommittee to be comprised of members and one National Executive member.
  • The subcommittee to take advice, where necessary from politicians, health professionals and relevant experts.
  • Leadership of this committee (chair and secretary) to be based on a vote taken by committee members only.
  • All campaigning by the subcommittee to be carried out under the name "Capacity2Cange" – the established working title as established by the original campaign leaders
  • Promotion of best practice guidelines from the UK, where the equivalent Mental Capacity Bill was published in 2008, (the Essex Autonomy Report)
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