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Legislative Measures

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 10 December 2020

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions (453)

Pauline Tully


453. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42533/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Department of Health is currently finalising heads of bill to significantly amend and update mental health legislation, taking into account the 165 recommendations of the Expert Group Review of the 2001 Act, which was informed in part by a public consultation, a comprehensive submission by the Mental Health Commission, and Ireland’s domestic and international commitments, such as the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The provisions of the Mental Health (Amendment) Act 2018 are also being incorporated into the draft heads of bill.

There are over one hundred sections in the draft heads. The Department has included detailed information under each head to allow for expert input from the Mental Health Commission and the HSE to be provided prior to publication, to allow the Department the opportunity to address any concerns as early as possible in the process. The draft heads of bill propose to extensively amend and update existing mental health legislation, moving from what has been described as a paternalistic approach in existing statute, to a more person-centred, human rights-based approach. The Department is currently awaiting further input from the HSE, which is expected in early December and plans to finalise the draft heads prior to submission for internal legal advice, and to the office of the Attorney General, as required, in early 2021.

A new Part of the Act related to children is being advanced separately, and the Department has approached the HSE, the Mental Health Commission, the Ombudsman for Children and the College of Psychiatrists for their expert opinions on the draft heads. The Department received the Mental Health Commission’s initial input in June 2020, and further observations in November. The Department expects to receive submissions from the other stakeholders in December 2020, and will then finalise the draft heads related to children at the same time as the rest of the heads.