TDs return to Dáil to debate mental health laws

New rules also mean deputies could be punished if they refuse to stand for the daily prayer

The Dáil is set to debate our Mental Health laws today, as TDs return to work after the Easter break.

A new Bill sponsored by Fianna Fáil aims to strengthen the rights of people and children when they're undergoing psychiatric care in hospital, including measures which would give patients a voice about their own care.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health is James Browne said:

"90% of people who go into psychiatric units are there voluntarily, but there's no assessment as to whether or not those people actually have the capacity to make an informed decision and that is wholly unacceptable," he said.

"What we're trying to do is empower a situation where those people have their rights assessed and enforced."

Today marks the beginning of an annual Green Ribbon campaign for mental health.

An underground war

Some new rules also being brought in include a 30-second silence after the daily prayer - and deputies could be punished if they refuse to stand for that prayer.

The minimum number of TDs required for some Dail sittings is also being cut from 20 to 10.

For Fine Gael, the closing stages of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's leadership will be high on the agenda. Group Political Editor with Independent News and Media Kevin Doyle told Newstalk Breakfast the front-runners will be watching closely.

"Certainly within the next two to three weeks, he will come out and give us a timeline for departure," he said. 

"There's been an underground war going on for the last number of months, and I think once Enda Kenny gives some sort of timeline, it will probably allow a new leader to be in place before the summer."

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can get more information here - or call The Samaritans on 116 123