The message returned to the Seanad from the Dáil is to the effect that while the Dáil accepted a number of amendments made to this important Bill on Report Stage in the Seanad, it did not agree to the amendment proposed by Sinn Féin Senators to section 15 of the Mental Health Act 2001.
As Senators will be aware from the debate in this House on Report Stage, this amendment was proposed following a judgment by the Court of Appeal delivered on 4 May 2018. This judgment declared that renewal orders by mental health tribunals under section 15(3) of the Mental Health Act 2001, which include both six and 12 month orders, breach Article 40.4.1° of the Constitution. I acknowledge that the amendment was well intentioned and I fully agree that section 15(3) of the Mental Health Act 2001 needs to be changed sooner rather than later. My officials, along with the Office of the Attorney General, are actively working on this matter. I particularly want to thank Deputy Pat Buckley, who confirmed on behalf of Sinn Féin that its Deputies would not agree with the amendment in the Dáil as he accepted my explanation that the amendment, as proposed, would also be unconstitutional in light of the court judgment. He also accepted that we need to carefully examine existing six and 12 month renewal orders and how we legally deal with these in the amendment to the 2001 Act currently being examined.
While it is important to confirm that the court's declaration of unconstitutionality stands suspended until 8 November 2018, I assure Senators that the obligation on government to present an appropriate and legally proofed amendment to the Oireachtas is one that will be met in a timely manner. Once again, I express my appreciation to Members of the House for their important contribution to this Bill and I thank Sinn Féin Deputies and others in the Dáil for agreeing to leave the amendment in my hands and the hands of my officials for the moment.