Press Release

Ministers Harris and McGrath announce opening of a Public Consultation on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD, and Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, TD, today announced the opening of a public consultation on draft legislation relating to deprivation of liberty. The draft legislative provisions outline proposed safeguards for older people, persons with a disability and certain categories of people with mental health issues to ensure that they are not unlawfully deprived of their liberty in residential facilities.

This public consultation is being carried out in order to help inform the next draft of the legislation which will be submitted to Government for approval to proceed with the legislative process.

Minister Harris said “Publication of these legislative proposals for public consultation represents a very significant milestone in Ireland’s process for ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is a positive development and shows that genuine progress on meeting the needs and rights of people with disabilities is being made”.

Announcing the public consultation, Minister McGrath said “Deprivation of liberty is a sensitive and important matter which goes to the heart of fundamental freedoms and human rights. Legislative proposals in this area will have significant implications for families, the operation of the health services and the courts. For that reason, I am today inviting submissions from stakeholders and the general public”.

The draft Heads of Bill and associated consultation paper are available online at and the closing date for submissions is 9 March, 2018.



Legislative clarity on the issue of deprivation of liberty in residential facilities for older people, those with a disability or mental health issues is required in order to meet our obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Existing legislation does not provide a procedure for admitting persons without capacity to relevant facilities in which they will be under continuous supervision and control and will not be free to leave. In addition, existing legislation does not provide procedural safeguards to ensure that such persons are not unlawfully deprived of their liberty. The new provisions seek to address this gap.

It is intended that the provisions will apply to residential centres for persons with disabilities, nursing homes and some mental health facilities.

The deprivation of liberty proposals will apply in circumstances in which it is proposed that a relevant person is to live in, or is already living in, a relevant facility and

(a) he or she is or will be under continuous supervision and control; and
(b) is not, or will not, be free to leave; and
(c) there is reason to believe that the person lacks capacity to make a decision to live in the relevant facility.

The submissions received through this public consultation will be analysed and will be considered by the Department in developing the final General Scheme and Heads of Bill which will be submitted to Government for approval to proceed with the legislative process.

The findings of the consultation process will be published on the Department of Health’s website.