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
Richard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
Whatever about technical definitions of "draconian", these are very serious powers to give to the State. They are powers that could potentially be abused. They certainly must be reviewed. In other circumstances we would not accept giving a Government these powers. We are dealing with an extraordinary situation so extraordinary measures are necessary. People would wish to see anything done that would prevent the transmission of the virus, and they are right to do that. However, I do not understand why the Minister is afraid of this House giving him the power to extend those powers in May, the date they are due to lapse. What is the problem? Does he not trust the House to give him the right to extend those powers? In addition, when there are serious problems with the definition of the "authorised medical officer" who can make the decision to detain people, why will he not entertain amendments which provide that it should be a specialist, a practising doctor? It should be a practising doctor, not just an official, who makes these decisions.
We want it to be health-led and it should be but the wording does not indicate it will be health-led. People who may not necessarily be practising doctors could have the power to detain people.