Friday, February 10, 2023

Peer Assessment - Conference Presentation

In 2021, I delivered this conference presentation: 

(with Maria Dempsey, Robert King and Bláthín Power, School of Applied Psychology, University College, Cork):

 'Establishing Precedent? Peer assessment in interdisciplinary collaboration between Schools of Law and Applied Psychology', 

Irish Association of Law Teachers annual conference, Cork, November 2021 

This project was funded by

  • UCC Learning, Teaching & Assessment Enhancement Fund and 
  • UCC Head of Law Strategic Fund   

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Mental Health Act Toolkit


The School of Law, University College Cork, has developed a Mental Health Act, 2001 Toolkit in partnership with Mental Health Reform.

When people with mental health difficulties are admitted to mental health units, either on a voluntary or involuntary basis, it is vital that user-friendly, accessible, information is available regarding human rights. Access to this information is essential for people with mental health difficulties, their family members, advocates, supporters and carers. The Mental Health Act, 2001 Toolkit will be published on Mental Health Reform’s website and will include information on topics such as the following:

  • What are the main human rights in Mental Health law?
  • What is the Mental Health Act?
  • Can I make an Advance Healthcare Directive?
  • The Role and Rights of my Supporters / Family / Carers
  • Approved Centres and What to Expect
  • My Rights as a ‘Voluntary Patient’
  • My Rights as an ‘Involuntary Patient’
  • Mental Health Tribunals Explained
  • Complaints, Advocacy and Activism

The Toolkit will be a vital means of empowerment, enabling people to become educated about their rights, so that they can exercise and claim those rights.  This aids fuller realisation of rights provided by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Irish Constitution, and other human rights documents.

The Toolkit was drafted in consultation with Mental Health Reform’s member organisations, through a series of online and in-person consultation meetings. The meetings were attended by a wide variety of people, including people with lived experience of mental health difficulties, family members, staff and supporters of organisations.

This project was funded by the Irish Research Council.  The researcher was Darius Whelan and the Research Assistant was Claire Carroll. The co-ordinator from Mental Health Reform was Ber Grogan.

Read the Mental Health Act, 2001 Toolkit Here

Read the Mental Health Act, 2001 Toolkit Brochure Here

Download a PDF Version of the Mental Health Act, 2001 Toolkit Here

View the video of the Toolkit launch

View the launch slides 


Friday, January 27, 2023

I published this article with Patrick Daly in 2021: 

Patrick Daly & Darius Whelan, ‘Disability in employment equality law: A reappraisal of the reasonable accommodation duty and issues arising in its implementation’ (2021) 28 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 744.

Here is the abstract:


This article re-considers the special features of the disability ground in EU equality law and raises questions as to whether the EU’s Framework Equality Directive (Directive 2000/78) may be in need of fundamental reform. It argues that the ‘Competence Defence’ in the Directive could have been more strongly drafted, to prescribe more precisely the circumstances in which an individual may be found not to be competent to perform the post’s essential functions. In the absence of a unified EU approach regarding the activation of the reasonable accommodation duty and an employer’s knowledge as to disability or the need for reasonable accommodation, national positions are compared. A model whereby the provision for individuals with disabilities is carried out in a proactive as opposed to a reactive manner could reduce the need for the reasonable accommodation system. The possibility of increased state involvement in the provision of reasonable accommodation to employees has strong potential. It is proposed that the principle of Universal Design, as expressed in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, could be used to ensure that work environments are developed from the outset to be conducive to the needs of those with physical or psychosocial disabilities. The implications of such a major change are assessed.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Book Review of Mental Health Homicide and Society: Understanding Health Care Governance by David Horton

I published a book review of Mental Health Homicide and Society: Understanding Health Care Governance by David Horton in 2021.

The review is in (2021) 60 Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 607. See 

Extract from the review:

"This is a fascinating book, providing rich insights into mental health homicide investigations. The author has undertaken a challenging task in applying Luhmann's systems theory to this field. The empirical work, in the form of the interviews, provides extra depth and a very high level of originality."


Friday, January 13, 2023

Application of the Paternalism Principle to Constitutional Rights

In 2021, I published this article: 

Darius Whelan, ‘Application of the Paternalism Principle to Constitutional Rights: Mental Health Case-Law in Ireland’ (2021) 28 European Journal of Health Law 223    

It's available in this Open Access version.

Here is the abstract:


In adjudicating on matters relating to fundamental constitutional or human rights, courts make important statements about the principles which apply. The principles articulated will have a profound impact on the outcomes of such cases, and on the development of case-law in the relevant field. In the fields of medical law and mental health law, various courts have moved away from deference to medical decision-making and paternalism to a person-centred rights-based approach. However, courts in Ireland have continued to interpret mental health law in a paternalistic fashion, praising paternalism as if it is particularly suitable for mental health law. This raises profound questions about judicial attitudes to people with mental health conditions and judicial reluctance to confer full personhood on people with disabilities. This article outlines case-law in Ireland regarding paternalism in mental health law and discusses the consequences for constitutional rights in Ireland.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Hunger Strikes in Prison: The Legal Issues


I contributed a paper on "Hunger Strikes in Prison: the Legal Issues" to a University College Cork conference this week.

The conference was "Terence MacSwiney, Cork Men’s Gaol, and the Political Hunger Strike, 1920-2020" and it was organised by the School of History.

My paper draws on themes discussed in this paper: Gautam Gulati, Darius Whelan, Eimear Spain, David Meagher & Colum Dunne, ‘Hunger Strikes in Prison: a Legal Perspective for Psychiatrists’ (2019) 36 Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine 55.  

My slides for the paper are available here.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Copyright Law for Digital Learning

I last wrote here about Copyright Law for Digital Teaching and Learning in 2015.  Since then, new legislation has been enacted - the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019.  

The new Act implements some of the recommendations of the Copyright Review Committee in 2013, and is particularly strong in implementing the education provisions.  The Committee's members were Eoin O'Dell, Patricia McGovern and Steve Hedley.  

I was asked to give a talk at a seminar today for the Irish Universities Association Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning in Irish Universities #IUADigEd.  I've made the slides available here.  I've also produced an updated version of some of the relevant sections of copyright legislation.  

There's a lot to take account of in making decisions about what is permissible copyright-wise for digital learning.  If the work you wish to use is a literary work (broadly defined) or an image which is an integral part of a literary work, then a college needs to abide by the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency licence, but bear in mind that a new licence will be produced for the next academic year.  

[Update:  the new ICLA licence is now available:  see here and here.]  

However, if the work is, for example, a video (referred to as a "film" in copyright law), then one can rely on the new broad exceptions in section 57A and section 57B.  Section 57A on 'distance learning' applies to all students in a  college, not just those taking online courses.  It allows the video to be communicated "as part of a lesson" to a  student by telecommunication.  

In the slides, I refer to the very useful work in this field by Jane Secker and Chris Morrison in the UK (here and here) and by Teresa Nobre for COMMUNIA (here and here).  See also Eoin O'Dell's recent post on Coronavirus and copyright – or, the copyright concerns of the widespread move to online instruction

At European level, we are watching closely the implementation of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, in particular Article 5 on "Use of works and other subject matter in digital and cross-border teaching activities."   In Ireland, the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation is dealing with the national implementation of the Directive.  This Department will shortly be renamed as the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.  It is possible that responsibility for Intellectual Property might be transferred to one of the other renamed Departments.  

Catherine Cronin also spoke at the same seminar, discussing OER and OEP: Open licenses for digital Teaching & Learning.  She emphasised why Open Education is so valuable (under Access, Equity and Pedagogy headings).  Her slides are here

A video recording of the seminar is available here.  

We have a list of resources related to the seminar here.