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Question

410. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will repeal the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49652/14]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The primary aim of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill, awaiting Committee Stage, which is currently before the Dail, is to abolish the current court wardship system and to replace it with a new decision-making framework that is compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Bill provides for the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 to cease to have effect. Once the Bill is enacted, the 1871 Act will no longer provide a legal basis for assessment of a person’s decision-making capacity. Instead, the Bill provides for any person who has been made a ward of court under the 1871 legislation to have her or his case reviewed by the court. Following review, the person will be discharged from wardship. Where the person is found by the court to lack decision-making capacity, the possibility will be available of having a decision-making representative appointed to take decisions on the person's behalf but who will have to take account of the person's will and preferences, where possible.
The Department has been advised that providing for the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 to cease to have effect will achieve the aim of ensuring that wardship is abolished for existing wards and for the future. However, as I finalise the necessary amendments for Committee Stage of the Bill, due shortly, I will also consider, in conjunction with the Attorney General's Office, whether particular provision can be made for unequivocal repeal of the 1871 Act.