Archive for the ‘Mental Health Law and Disability Law’ Category

Job Opportunity with CBM Ireland

CBM Ireland is currently recruiting an Advocacy Coordinator to assist their CEO in the ongoing work and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in Irish Overseas development and humanitarian action.  The closing date is April 28, 2010.

The main duties include:

  1. Development of an Advocacy strategy
  2. Awareness raising and communications
  3. Networking and representation of CBM
  4. Research

Professional and Personal profile:

  • Relevant academic background (social studies, public affairs, legal studies, public health, disability studies)
  • Professional experience in the field of disability; either domestic disability issues or disability and international development.
  • Professional experience in the field of advocacy policy and/or public campaigning
  • Etc.

For more information on this opportunity and on how to apply see here.

Employment Law Conference and Global Colloquium on Disability Law and Policy

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway will host two major events this month.

International and Comparative Perspectives on Employment and Disability Law: 24 April 2010

This conference will take place  Saturday 24 April 2010 in Aras Moyola MY129, North Campus, NUI Galway.  The conference programme is available here and information on registration is available here.  The conference is aimed at legal practitioners, academics, NGOs, and those involved in disability issues and practice.  The Conference will examine issues concerning disability and employment from a national and international perspective with speakers who are all key experts in the area.  The Conference will examine issues such as genetic testing, disability and employment, genuine occupational requirements and disability, UK and EU developments in the area of employment and disability and key issues in this jurisdiction. Case law from relevant jurisdictions will be highlighted and discussed. It will also focus on lessons from disability employment law in developing countries.

Global PhD & Researchers Colloquium on Disability Law & Policy: 26 -27 April 2010

This is a two-day Colloquium on disability law and policy, which will take place 26-27 April 2010 at the Carlton Hotel Galway.  A full Colloquium programme is available here and a booklet of abstracts is available here.  A limited number of places to attend the Colloquium are available – for information on registration see here.

The Colloquium is organised in conjunction with the Burton Blatt Institute (Syracuse University, New York) and the University of Haifa (Israel).  The Colloquium will run on an annual basis rotating between the different Universities.

This is the first event of its kind bringing together disability researchers from all around the world, who will deliver over 60 papers.  This is a very timely event as research on disability law and policy reform has never been more urgent given the imperative of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  This two-day event will play a significant part in bringing together an emerging community of scholars in the disability field whose ideas will shape the reform agenda for years to come.  The themes of the Colloquium include:

  1. The Right to Legal Capacity
  2. The Right to Independent Living
  3. Towards Effective National Strategies for the Implementation of the UNCRPD
  4. Definitions of Disability
  5. Civil Society – Nothing About Us Without Us
  6. Intersectionality of Disability: Gender, Indigenous Peoples, Age
  7. Employment Law & Policy
  8. Mental Health Law & Disability
  9. The Right to Inclusive Education
  10. Regional & Comparative Disability Law
  11. Development Aid, Humanitarian Intervention & Disability
  12. The Right to Accessibility

MDAC announces project on effective monitoring of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

April 1, 2010 2 comments

The Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC) today announces  a yearlong project that seeks to provide direction to governments and civil society on the effective implementation of Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Article 33 deals with domestic implementation of the Convention.  Practical guidelines and checklists will be developed that will assist governments and NGOs in understanding the obligations of States Parties under Article 33.  The project will also apply these guidelines in order to determine whether State Parties to the Convention are meeting their obligations under Article 33.  A summary report will be submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to assist the Committee in holding States Parties to account.

The UNCRPD is one of only two international human rights treaties to contain a specific provision on the role and structure of domestic implementation and monitoring mechanisms of the Convention (Article 33).  (The only other similar provision is the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture).  The outcomes of this project will be hugely useful to civil society groups, policy makers and researchers here in Ireland.  It will also be very useful in benchmarking the implementation of the Convention here.

Capacity to Undertake Jury Service

March 31, 2010 2 comments

The Law Reform Commission’s Consultation Paper on Jury Service launched by the DPP earlier this week recommends removal of the discriminatory provisions in the Juries Act 1976 (as amended) which exclude persons with disabilities from jury service.  The DPP was supportive of the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission in this regard.  The general outline of the Consultation Paper and provisional recommendations are set out in this earlier HRiL blog post. Read more…

Combating Hate Crimes Perpetrated Against LGBT Persons and Persons with Disabilities

March 31, 2010 6 comments

The Commencement Order for the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 was issued last week bringing the Act into force.  The legislation creates new statutory offences that protect victims who are attacked on the basis of their disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity in Scotland.   Specifically section 1 of the Act makes provision for offences aggravated by prejudice relating to disability (or presumed disability).  Section 2 of the Act makes provision for offences aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) or transgender (or presumed transgender) identity.  Under the Act where it is proven that an offence was motivated by malice or ill will towards a victim on the basis of their identity the court is required to take that motivation into consideration when determining the sentence to be imposed.   This legislation builds upon Scottish law on hate crimes carried out on the basis of race and religion or belief under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003.  Similar legislation is in force in England and Wales.

Read more…

IHRC Report on John Paul Centre, Galway

March 30, 2010 1 comment

The Irish Human Rights Commission today released a lengthy report on an enquiry into conditions, services and care provided in the John Paul Centre in Galway. This is a residential centre for adults with severe to profound learning disabilities and the enquiry was conducted following a representation to the IHRC from concerned parents of residents. The report is very detailed and we hope in the following days to bring you some specialist commentary on it here at HRinI. Readers might also be interested in two previous posts on HRinI on standards of care in residential centres for people with disability: this post from Mary Keogh & Charles O’Mahony and this separate post from Charles.

In the course of the enquiry the IHRC found that there had been breaches of the residents’ human rights in respect of the failure to provide adequate services and care to the residents of the centre. In many ways, these failures are bound up with the lack of accountability mechanisms and the fact that such centres are unregulated and uninspected in spite of being state-funded. However, it seems clear from the report’s recommendations of which there are many) that the problems are envisaged by the IHRC as being more multi-disciplinary and multi-layered than ‘simple’ lack of inspection/regulation. From recommending the immediate ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the formation of tailored service agreements taking the needs of residents into account, the recommendations are wide-ranging. They are also important inasmuch as they highlight the various different stakeholders—the Departments of Health, Justice and Education, the HSE, the residents, the Brothers of Charity (who run the centre), the parents—whose input is required to provide a service that is truly fit for purpose and respectful of the rights and liberties of the residents.

The report is certainly welcome and there can be little doubt that its findings are replicated in similar centres throughout the country. The sooner the state moves on ensuring effective, properly resourced, respectful, appropriate, adequate and accountable levels of health and support service provision to people with disabilities in Ireland the better.

Modernising Jury Selection: Law Reform Commission’s Consultation Paper on Jury Selection

March 29, 2010 2 comments


The Director of Public Prosecutions will launch the Law Reform Commission’s Consultation Paper on Jury Service this evening.   The Consultation Paper will be available here this afternoon.  The Commission is examining jury service as part of its Third Programme of Law Reform 2008-2014.  It received a large number of submissions as part of its consultation on its work programme in 2007 calling for a review and modernisation of the law regulating juries.   This is the first substantive review of jury service in Ireland since the introduction of the Juries Act 1976 (which was based largely on recommendations contained in Reports of the Committee on Court Practice and Procedure, 1965)

Read more…

Bye Bye Justice, Equality & Law Reform; Hello Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs?

March 23, 2010 14 comments

The  Irish cabinet reshuffle (see here, here, here and here) has resulted in the  Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform , being divested of issues relating to equality, disability, integration and human rights. These important areas will be subsumed into the new Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. The comments below are some initial reactions to this news.

Justice, Equality and Human Rights-Why?

I do not believe in making structural changes for their own sake. Too often, changes in structures can be pursued to disguise a lack of clear priorities or the determination to implement them. This Government has a clear agenda which I am determined will be driven forward with energy and commitment. There is no time to be wasted on extensive restructuring at the expense of action to implement our policies.

An Taoiseach Brian Cowen T.D.  23 March 2010

From 1992 until 1997, there was Minister for Equality and Law Reform, however post the 1997 general election, this was subsumed into the Department of Justice (to become the Dept. of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (DJELR).This was a time of enormous economic growth within the Republic of Ireland and a number of months before the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The thrust of today’s speech by An Taoiseach’s recognised the need for a re-invigorated economy based on job creation and innovation. For reasons highlighted by the statement of An Taoiseach above, structural changes were made to a number of departments.

Read more…

Changes needed to Mental Health Act 2001

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Mental Health Law conferenceThe Mental Health Commission has started work on developing a Code of Practice on the Mental Health Act 2001.  The Commission seeks views on which parts of the Act, if any, further guidance should be provided on and the closing date for receipt of feedback is Wednesday 28th April.  For further information, see this page.

Meanwhile, papers and videos from the recent Mental Health Law conference at University College Cork are available here.  The conference was jointly organised by UCC Faculty of Law and the Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association.  Speakers included Mary Forde of Amnesty International Ireland, Patricia Rickard-Clarke of the Law Reform Commission, Michael Lynn, B.L., Diarmaid Ring, Mental Health Service User and Activist, Dr Mary Donnelly of UCC, Áine Hynes, Solicitor, Hugh Kane, CEO of the Mental Health Commission, Mark Felton, Solicitor, and myself.  Dr Mary Henry, former independent Senator, spoke at the book launch which followed the conference.  Each session was lively and informative, with plenty of genuine engagement between the 120 members of the audience and the speakers.  One of the many interesting slides was one from Hugh Kane about the need for reforms of mental health law, which included the following items: 

  • Urgent need for Capacity Legislation
  • Review of Section 59(1), Mental Health Act 2001 [This concerns Electro-Convulsive Therapy]
  • Section 23/24, Mental Health Act 2001 [Re-grading of patients from voluntary to involuntary status] 
  • Measurement of performance, overall impact of mental health tribunals, Section 49, Mental Health Act 2001 
  • Need for automatic independent legal representative for children admitted to approved centres, Section 25(14), Mental Health Act 2001. 
  • Definition of ‘best interests’, Section 4, Mental Health Act 2001

Standards of care: vital to safeguarding the rights of disabled people

February 2, 2010 7 comments

(* This article is co-authored with Charles O’Mahony, PhD fellow, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway)

According to an article in the Irish Times today, more than 500 official complaints (approx three a week) over the past two and a half years have been made regarding abuse and mistreatment of disabled people in residential settings.  The most serious incidents included allegations of abuse or physical assault by a staff member at a number of residential centres.

Currently Ireland has no mandatory standards or independent inspections for assessing care provided by residential services to disabled people.  Health Research Board statistics for 2008 show that there are more than 8,000 adults with an intellectual disability in receipt of full-time residential services. The majority of these services are provided through voluntary service providers at an approximate cost of €1.5bn to the Irish government.  Despite this volume of state funding, these services remain uninspected and unregulated.

Read more…