Thursday, 19 March 2020
An Bille Sláinte (Caomhnú agus Cosaint agus Bearta Éigeandála Eile Ar Mhaithe Le Leas an Phobail), 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
Paul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein)
My understanding from you, a Cheann Comhairle, is that we can speak to the Minister's amendment as well. It has been included in this group. The Minister's amendment probably strikes the right balance. I acknowledge that. The Minister took issue with Deputy Boyd Barrett for using the word "draconian", perhaps on a technical interpretation of the word. However, the measures here are extraordinary. They allow a Minister to shut down parts of the country, shut down events, shut down business premises and give powers to medical health officers to detain people in their homes. There is little in the Bill that allows for review or appeal. The reality is that in terms of democratic accountability, the combination of a caretaker Government and it being difficult for the Dáil to assemble because of the virus means that there is not the normal level of parliamentary scrutiny, so it is essential to have a sunset clause. I welcome the fact that this automatically terminates all these powers unless there is a vote from both Houses of the Oireachtas.