Claire & Donna

Silenced, alone, powerless: my life as a Ward of Court in Ireland

My story is about my experience of being made a Ward of Court after my mother’s death and how my life changed dramatically overnight. Being made a Ward means that you are not allowed to make any decisions for yourself, you have no right to decide where you want to live and you cannot even buy a pair of shoes without asking for permission. You have no control or voice – you are a prisoner in your own life.I was one of the first people to leave Wardship since then, I could finally buy my own house, get a qualification in childcare and do a job that I love. I’m supported by my aunt and my cousin who have always supported me. Now that I’m free, I can make my own decisions for myself but I know that my family are there to support me when I need it.

Claire’s story illustrates the impact that substitute decision-making and guardianship can have on a person’s life. Her transition from Wardship to independent living is an example of how Article 12 can work in practice and how everyone can exercise their right to legal capacity with supports in place.

You can watch Claire and Donna present here. Their presentation starts at 1:20:51.


My name is Claire Hendrick

I am from Ireland

7 words about me: I’m friendly, northsider, who loves animals, life, and helping people.

My name is Donna McNamara

I am from Ireland

My 7 word autobiography is ‘Graduate student, teacher, loves animals and chocolate!’