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Government breaking commitments again on mental health - Ó Snodaigh

12 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has accused the government of reneging on it’s commitments under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 and called on it to establish mental health treatment centres without delay. He was responding to revelations in the High Court yesterday that a man who was found to be mentally unfit for trial, has spent the last three months in prison due to the absence of a suitable mental health treatment centre


The Dublin South-Central TD said: “Sinn Féin tabled a successful amendment to the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill before it became an Act earlier this year. The purpose of our amendment was to stop offenders with mental health disorders and mental disabilities from being held in prisons where appropriate treatments are not available by preventing the Minister from designating prisons as suitable sites. The Minister was perfectly happy to continue locking-up the mentally ill in prisons and I had to argue at length, right through Committee and Report stages of the Bill, before he finally acquiesced.


“Our amendment sought to enhance the statutory obligation on the government to provide appropriate mental health treatment and care to all those in need of it and also to prevent avoidable tragedies as such took place last July when Gary Douche was brutally beaten to death in a Mountjoy cell by a man with acute mental problems. 


“Unfortunately the reluctance displayed by the Minister up until his final acceptance of our amendment is clearly visible in his reluctance to implement it. It is no surprise that his government is reneging on the commitments he claimed would have effect from the 1st of June.


“I am calling on the government, and the PD Ministers for Justice and Health in particular, to establish and resource a range of mental health treatment centres with various levels of security without delay.”



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