Friday, 20 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
I raised on Second Stage the concern that we need to see adequate safeguards in place for the exercise of the detention powers under section 11. I am conscious that one particular safeguard would be to provide for right of information about the right to be able to trigger a review on request. I felt that this could be done through regulation rather than by amending section 11 of the Bill. That would be an important safeguard. I am referring to the right of information not only for the detained person but, if he or she is a child, for the parent or guardian.
The second point I raised, to reiterate it, is that there needs to be a standard form order for authorising detention. The concern would be that otherwise, medical officers could be drafting their own individual orders. Clearly that would not be appropriate or ideal and could lead to challenges to the detention of such persons in the High Court if we are seeing inconsistency across the terms of orders. I am grateful to my colleague in the Law Library, Mr. Tony McGillicuddy, who has drafted up an order which I can give the Minister. The point is that it could have been in the Schedule to the Bill. I know the legislation was being drafted with immense time pressure. We are all conscious of that and that it is extraordinary legislation. I accept the need for a 14-day period, given that it is the incubation period of this virus and I understand that is why it is the period specified, but I do think we need to see an assurance on safeguards.