Wednesday 21 August 2019

New laws put on ice as Brexit takes over Dáil agenda

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured speaking to the media at the Fine Gael Think in at the Alex Hotel, Dublin. Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured speaking to the media at the Fine Gael Think in at the Alex Hotel, Dublin. Frank McGrath
John Downing

John Downing

It's all about Brexit, Brexit and Brexit as TDs land back in Leinster House today after the Christmas break.

But new laws to cover the risk of a “no-deal” EU-UK divorce has pushed important draft laws off the agenda.

The Government today discussed at the biggest piece of legislation in many years. It’s all about preparing for Brexit – and the continued risk of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit. 

A so-called “omnibus bill” – comprising 17 separate draft laws – is being readied to be speeded through the Dáil and Seanad if needs be.

Just a handful of other measures, which are close to being fully drafted, will be shoehorned on to the law-making agenda.

These include new laws necessary for referendums on divorce and presidential voting rights for emigrants due later this year, and a law setting up compensation tribunals for women stricken in the cervical cancer test debacle.

But here’s a flavour of important promised laws which have effectively been bumped off the list:

  • Transport Minister Shane Ross’s promised law which would penalise drivers caught speeding pro-rata with the rate to which they exceeded the speed limit.  Sought by road safety campaigners but feared as unduly penal by motorists, this one will take quite some time.
    11 NEWS nt shane ross DE 12.jpg
    Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Damien Eagers
  • A new law to regulate the internet and control fake news ahead of important European Parliament and local council votes in May.  It is being championed by lawyer and computer scientists, James Lawless, of  Fianna Fáil.
  • Another Fianna Fáil project seeking to curb employers, especially in the building sector, obliging workers to become “bogus self-employed” contractors.  It’s championed by welfare campaigner, Willie O’Dea, who argues workers are losing rights and the State is losing revenue.
  • A law controlling evictions for people with debt problems championed by Independent Alliance minister, Kevin Boxer Moran. The so-called Land Conveyancing (Amendment) Bill was approved by Cabinet last summer and gone nowhere since.
  • A proposed law to enforce “exclusion zones” for protesters close to health centres offering abortions.  The Government put this one on hold before Christmas to see whether there would be flashpoint incidents.  Many will hope this law is still not needed.
  • Measures to simplify and update the Fair Deal scheme whereby elderly people’s property is levied in return for nursing home care.  There have been many promises here and work is advancing.  It is an especially big issue in rural Ireland. 

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