For Written Answer on : 09/02/2023
Question Number(s): 205 Question Reference(s): 6208/23
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth when he expects the Decision Support Service (DSS) to be fully operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (the 2015 Act) is an important piece of legislation that represents significant legal reform. It changes the existing law on capacity from the status approach of the wardship system to a flexible functional approach, whereby capacity is assessed on an issue and time-specific basis.
The Act will abolish the wards of court system for adults by repealing the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871. Adults currently in wardship will transition to the new decision-making support arrangements on a phased basis over 3 years from the date of commencement.
The Decision Support Service (DSS), which is the organisation that will operate the provisions of the 2015 Act, will respond to the complex decision-making needs of people with capacity difficulties. To date, the Decision Support Service has made considerable progress in preparing to operate the 2015 Act.
Amendments were required to the 2015 Act prior to commencement, in order to streamline processes in the interests of those using its provisions, and to strengthen the safeguards contained in the Act. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Act 2022 is the vehicle for these amendments and was signed into law on 17 December last.
The Government remains committed to commencing the 2015 Act, as amended, as soon as possible. Work is currently underway to draft the necessary Statutory Instruments that are required as part of the commencement process, including the drafting of commencement orders and of regulations that the new system of tiered decision supports will need to function. There are a number of such instruments that will need to be finalised before the 2015 Act, as amended, can be operationalised, and my officials are working closely with the Office of the Attorney General to progress this work in early course. The passage of the 2022 Amendment Act was required in order to provide the legal basis to progress these final preparations.
I expect to be in a position to commence the 2015 Act, as amended, in early 2023.