Friday, 27 March 2020
An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
The Seanad is asked that the Bill stay as it is because of the speed at which it may be necessary to change public health guidance. It is entirely feasible that a decision could be taken in a morning, for example, that needs to be implemented that afternoon. This is why authority in this resides within the Executive. I emphasise again to Senator Clifford-Lee that I believe it is incredibly unlikely that this would set any kind of a precedent for use in legislation at a normal time. Even during our economic crisis all emergency legislation in that period required either consultation with the Dáil and the Seanad, or required engagement with both Houses. An example is the FEMPI legislation, whereby there was a requirement each year to lay a formal report with regard to where we stood, and if any change needed to be made with that legislation it had to be done through the Houses of the Oireachtas. If legislation crafted during an economic emergency required the role of the Oireachtas, the only reason it is different here is because this is a public health emergency in which a decision could be taken that requires action within hours. That is the only reason the legislation is drafted as it is.