Government won’t oppose bill creating elder abuse offences

Government won't oppose bill creating elder abuse offences

The Government of Ireland has said it will not oppose the Vulnerable Persons Bill introduced to Dáil Éireann yesterday by an independent TD.

The proposed legislation is designed to “protect, on reasonable grounds, the financial autonomy of vulnerable persons, specifically elderly people, who lack reasonable mental and physical capacity, to guard against financial abuse”.

Mattie McGrath, the bill’s sponsor, told The Irish Times it would create “suitable legal sanctions depending on the severity of each case”.

The law would create new offences of using an elderly person’s confidential financial information for unauthorised self-gain and unlawfully accessing and using the assets of an elderly person, which would lead to a fine of at least €600.

A fine of at least €1,500 would also apply to those who “intentionally cause bodily harm and emotional distress” or fail “to provide physical support due to not purchasing the required disability support equipment”.

The most serious offence created by the bill would see a fine of at least €3,000 or imprisonment for at least three years for forcing changes to a will or other legal document, denying an elderly person the right to their personal funds, or authorising the payment of money or delivery of property for self-gain.

The bill is to be heard in private members’ time.

Mr McGrath said he hoped it would “re-ignite a national conversation on how we treat elderly people and the measures we can put in place to offer them greater security and peace of mind”.

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