Wednesday 21 March 2018

Forget the fluff- Five things in the Programme for Government you may have missed

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Reuters
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Reuters
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

It spans 156 pages and was thrashed out following hundreds of hours of negotiations between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Independents.

But amid all the noise and fanfare, here are five parts of the Programme for Government that you may have overlooked.

1) Crackdown on bogus asylum seekers

With the issue of migrants dominating the political agenda across the EU, the Programme for Government vows to get tougher on so-called "bogus asylum seekers"

2) Your former local garda station may reopening

A very significant element of the programme is a pledge to examine the reopening of garda stations.

A raft of barracks were closed by the Fine Gael/Labour Government in a move that caused deep anger in the communities affected.

But only six will be revived - and those chosen will be announced following a review by the Garda Inspectorate due to take place over the eight weeks.

3) Will our hospitals be privatised?

One element of the Programme for Government that has caused surprise rates to our health system.

The document states that the management of "under-performing" hospitals at  be taken over by "private companies" on a temporary basis.  Opposition TDs fear this could spark a cycle of privatisation in our health system.

4) Citizens' Assembly to consider the Eighth Amendment

It's been one of the most divisive issues for many years - but we may soon to be going to the polls to vote on the issue of abortion.

The Programme for Government commits that the issue will be examined by a Citizens Assembly, which is expected to issue it's first report next year.

The assembly, which will be made up of health experts, legal professionals and ordinary citizens, will be tasked with examining how to approach the issue of the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal status to the rights of the mother and the unborn.

5) And... We could be going to the polls on four further occasions

There are four different referendums promised in the 156 document - which means we could be back to the polling stations sooner than you think.

We will be voting on:

- a clause in the constitution which refers to a “woman’s life within the home”

- The removal of blasphemy as an offence

- The country's role in the Universal Patent Court, which proponents say is important in reducing the cost for businesses and innovators

- Giving the office of the Ceann Comhairle, ie the chairperson in the Dail, a grounding in the constitution

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