Emergency mental health measures must have time limit – Naughten

Emergency legislation which makes amendments to mental health legislation should not be in operation for more than 30 days without a further resolution of Dáil Eireann or consent from party leaders, Denis Naughten TD has stated.

  The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020 seeks to introduce a number of provisions and amendments to the Mental Health Acts to protect the rights of patients and facilitate the ongoing operation of the Mental Health Tribunals through the crisis.

  “I welcome the measures included in this emergency legislation to support the national response to the COVID-19 crisis such as a temporary wage subsidy, the prevention of rent increases, redundancies and registration of retired health sector staff. However, I have grave reservations regarding the measures relating to the Mental Health Acts and we must ensure that any such powers, if justified in an emergency, are not used beyond this current situation,” stated Denis Naughten.

  “This is the second week in a row we have seen a proposal to introduce far-reaching powers to detain people against their will. While I’m open to hear the justification for such draconian amendments to deal with the current exceptional threat to human life and public health from the spread of COVID-19, these are powerful legal provisions which must only be used to specifically deal with the current national health crisis and must not be in place for one day longer than is necessary”. 

  Denis Naughten added that he has proposed that the measures in relation to the Mental Health Act will not come into force until the Minister gets prior agreement of all party and group leaders in Dáil Eireann.

  In addition, he is seeking that the measures will only continue in operation for no more than 30 days without the further consent of all party and group leaders in Dáil Eireann.