Preparing for Brexit is the central feature of the Spring Legislation Programme, unveiled today by Government Chief Whip, Seán Kyne. Reflecting the exceptional circumstances brought about by Brexit, the legislation programme is for spring only and covers the period January to March.
The Priority List contains six bills with a Brexit omnibus bill, the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill, the primary item for the Spring Programme.
Other legislation includes the constitutional amendment bills necessary to facilitate referenda including a referendum on extending the right to vote in Presidential elections to Irish citizens abroad and the referendum to change the law regarding divorce. An Electoral Amendment Bill is included to enable the number of MEPs for Ireland to increase. Also included is enabling legislation to establish a tribunal to address issues regarding cervical cancer screening.
Minister Kyne commented:
The legislative programme published today reflects the Government’s careful and considerate planning for Brexit. The omnibus bill for Brexit is, I believe, one of the most extensive bills to be considered by the Oireachtas and comprises vital legislation across 17 elements that will need to be enacted prior to Brexit in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
While the possibility of introducing a number of Brexit-related bills was considered we believe a single, standalone bill, that contains a number of parts, is the most efficient and effective way of preparing for Brexit.
The Bill will focus on areas including healthcare, transport, social welfare and employment as well as specific all island issues such as public transport and energy. It represents months of work by officials from across Government and, in particular, from the Department of Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In addition, many of the provisions will be provided for through statutory instruments that will be ready for signing should they be required in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
As Government Chief Whip I’m conscious of the need to schedule Dáil time appropriately for the Brexit-related legislation and it is likely that the Dáil will be required to hold additional sittings in March. Senior officials from the Department of Taoiseach and I will work with the Dáil Business Committee and with the various parties and groups in the Dáil to ensure the passage of this substantial legislation ahead of Brexit.
While Brexit is the priority, work is continuing on other legislation across all Government departments and a number of bills that are at an advanced stage will be introduced in the coming weeks to be progressed alongside those currently on the Dáil Order Paper. The bills on the Order Paper include the National Surplus Bill (Rainy Day Fund), the Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill, and the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill.
It is intended to prepare and publish a further legislative programme towards the end of March.
Download the Spring Legislation Programme here.