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Question

507. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 95 of 22 March 2018, the reforms needed for Ireland to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the roadmap to achieve same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15102/18]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): It is intended that the final legislative amendments needed to enable Ireland to comply with the Convention will be contained in the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 and in a standalone Bill on Deprivation of Liberty.
The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 is currently awaiting Committee Stage in Dáil Éireann.
At its meeting on 5 December 2017, the Government approved the publication of draft legislative provisions on deprivation of liberty safeguards for public consultation. This public consultation formally closed on 9 March 2018. However, at the request of a number of organisations, submissions are being accepted up to mid-April.
The Government has approved both Bills to receive priority drafting within the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.
The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 also needs to be commenced and this requires the establishment of a Decision Support Service (DSS) under the Mental Health Commission.
The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015.
New administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the auspices of the Department of Health), must be put in place before the substantive provisions of the Act can be commenced. A high-level Steering Group comprised of senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the Decision Support Service, is overseeing the establishment and commissioning of the Decision Support Service (DSS) and this work is ongoing.
The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 515 of 2016), brought some provisions of Part 1 (Preliminary and General) and Part 9 (Director of the Decision Support Service) of the Act into operation on 17 October 2016. These provisions were brought into operation in order to progress the setting up of the DSS and to enable the process of recruitment of the Director of the DSS to begin. The recruitment and appointment of the Director of the DSS, and the appointment of DSS staff, is a matter for the Mental Health Commission with the approval of the Minister for Health. Ms Áine Flynn was appointed Director of the Decision Support Service on 2 October 2017.
Preparations are being made,  by the Steering Group, to allow for further commencement orders for the provisions of the 2015 Act to be made when the DSS is ready to roll out the new decision-making support options. The Director is also working in a very determined way to get the necessary staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations in place in order that the Decision Support Service can be up and running as quickly as possible. However, it is not possible at the moment to provide an exact time line for the full implementation of the 2015 Act, as there are many complex strands to this work, including involvement of multiple organisations, and the prevailing view is that the Decision Support Service will not be ready to become operational until 2019.
The 2018 Budget provides for an allocation of €3 million in the Justice and Equality Vote for the establishment of the Decision Support Service.
The commencement of Part 8 of the Act, which provides for a legislative framework for advance healthcare directives, is a matter for the Minister for Health.
Finally, I fully recognise the utility of the Optional Protocol to the Convention in providing a high degree of accountability. My intention is that the Optional Protocol will be ratified once we have completed the tasks outlined above.