Seanad debates

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


12:00 pm

Photo of Lynn RuaneLynn Ruane (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I ask the Minister to bear with me, as I want to make sure I understand correctly what is proposed.We talk about having the provisions in for public health and that they are the only provisions we can use at this time for balancing this out against property rights over a period. I am struggling to understand when a matter is public health and when it is not. If we are to look at what public health means, it goes beyond just the spread of this specific disease. Public health is a much wider point and feeds so much more into the common good that is being defined within this legislation. It is a misuse of the term “public health”. It is not only public health when every social class of society is being impacted. After this, there will still be a public health crisis but it will be among those who are more vulnerable and who have not been able to bounce back after a period of economic collapse, poor health and evictions.

How does the Attorney General define public health in this instance? It is only being used regarding a pandemic and in terms of balancing this off against property rights and how long we can actually ban evictions for. Is the common good and public health only a thing when it is impacting every single person? Is it then of lesser value when it is impacting large communities, minorities and marginalised groups because their public health and the common good for them also should matter post what is laid out in the legislation?


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