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Ceann Comhairle takes action to ease President Higgins’s disquiet over Bills logjam 

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Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl. Photo: Tom Burke

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl. Photo: Tom Burke

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl. Photo: Tom Burke

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is to contact the Taoiseach to discuss concerns surrounding scrutiny of legislation and the number of bills the President has to consider .

At an emergency meeting of the two Oireachtas committees tasked with organising the legislative agenda, it was agreed to address concerns raised by President Michael D Higgins about the volume of legislation he is asked to look at in short periods of time.

The meeting was organised after the President wrote to the Ceann Comhairle about the “overwhelming number of bills” he had been asked to consider before the Dáil’s summer and Christmas recesses.

Around 14 TDs and Senators attended the virtual meeting, at which it was agreed the President had raised valid concerns about the lack of scrutiny of some pieces of legislation that have been voted through the Dáil and Seanad.

Members of the Dáil Business Committee and their counterparts in the Seanad agreed to respond to the President, setting out their plans to address the issues he raised.

The Ceann Comhairle will write to each government department and highlight the need for a more regulated timetable of legislation to ensure there is time for scrutiny by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl, along with Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Mark Daly, will also seek a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Attorney General Paul Gallagher to discuss how to better manage the legislative agenda.

The Dáil Reform Committee had already been preparing to discuss the guillotining of legislative debates and the bypassing of pre-legislative scrutiny by the Government.

In his letter to the Oireachtas, the President said that many bills arriving on his desk had “not been considered in detail”.

“Amendments put down by members are often not discussed and government amendments are carried without an opportunity for scrutiny or debate,” Mr Higgins added.

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