Judge calls for change in mental health laws

No facility in Ireland to care for woman

Judge calls for change in mental health laws

A woman with a personality disorder who has committed over 80 violent incidents in care has been sentenced to two months in jail, with Judge Catherine Staines saying Irish mental health laws need to be changed in order for the woman to receive proper treatment for her condition.

A psychiatric report on Eileen Mullin, previously residing at The Bungalow, Nua Healthcare, Athgarvan, Newbridge, has indicated that there is no facility in Ireland that could meet the accused’s needs.

“The problem here is that the barrier to treating her is a legal one,” said Judge Catherine Staines, going on to say that the accused’s personality disorder is not recognised in Ireland as a mental illness, as it is in the UK.

The report concluded that what is required is a change in the law, a remark that Judge Staines agreed with.

“There’s a clear need for a change in the law,” she said, adding that the accused needs to be transferred back to the UK where she can be dealt with.

Saying that it was a matter of urgency that a suitable place be found for the accused, Judge Staines declared: “There clearly is a responsibility on the HSE to find that place.”

The HSE was not represented in court at last week’s proceedings.

When the case previously came before the court on November 3, Doctor Lorcan Martin of the HSE said that the HSE could not provide care for the accused as her condition, personality disorder, does not fall under the Irish Mental Health Act.

Last week’s court heard that solicitor for the defence, Ms Caroline Egan will be bringing the matter to the High Court to invoke vulnerable persons jurisdiction.

In relation to charges against the accused, Judge Staines said these were serious charges which included an assault on the court clerk.

Mullin faced a number of charges, including assault at Portlaoise Courthouse on July 10; breach of the peace at the Midlands Hospital, on October 19; and threatening or abusive behaviour, and failure to comply with the direction of the gardaí, at Portlaoise Main Street, on October 20.

Judge Staines imposed two months in prison, backdated to October 27.

The judge said hopefully Ms Egan will have the matter before the High Court before the accused is released, so as to secure a place for her.

Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.