Director welcomes comments by Minister O’Gorman
18 Jun, 2021
The Director of the Decision Support Service, Áine Flynn, has warmly welcomed comments in the Dáil this week by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, that amendments to the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will be enacted by year end.
The Minister confirmed that work is actively taking place on an Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill, and that he will shortly seek Government approval for the General Scheme of the Bill.
“The amendments will address certain matters, some of a technical nature and others more substantive and it is hoped that these will ensure the better functioning of the 2015 Act,” said Ms Flynn. “In particular, it is proposed to improve the position of current wards of court, each of whom will have their cases reviewed by the wardship court when the Act commences. The amendments will secure for current wards better access to the court, to representation, and to ongoing periodic review.”
Ms Flynn also welcomed the Minister’s acknowledgement that the DSS has made considerable progress in putting in place the administrative and IT systems needed to operate the 2015 Act, and his recognition that the successful operation of the Act will involve multiple stakeholders.
“While the Minister correctly acknowledged that the DSS must become operational for the 2015 Act to be fully commenced, we are keen that all our stakeholders appreciate and understand that the DSS team has continued to work diligently towards opening our doors next summer,” added Ms Flynn. “Currently, the establishment project comprises six workstreams with 28 subprojects and progress has continued without interruption during the period of remote working over the last 14 months. The uplift in our funding allocation for 2021 has allowed us to work to the time-bound, costed plan agreed with our former parent department, the Department of Justice, early in 2020.
“It is important to state once again, however, that the readiness of the DSS is not the only precondition to commencement of the Act. This Act will have impacts on stakeholders to include the Courts Service; the Legal Aid Board; legal and financial service providers and their regulators; An Garda Siochana; disability services; and generally across health and social care. There is much preparatory work to be done in these sectors.
“It is also our strongly-held view that the appointment of a mandated single point of contact in the Department of Health to co-ordinate preparations for which it is responsible is now a matter of some urgency.”
Ms Flynn welcomed the support of Minister O’Gorman’s department, adding that the level of engagement with the Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, and her officials has been very positive.