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 proposed amendment relates to section 1(2)(a) of the Bill, which is the commencement provision for Part 3 of the Bill and relates to planning and building control matters. The amendment seeks to control the Bill so that rather than the emergency provision being commenced by order of the Minister at an appropriate and effective time when it is needed, the emergency planning provision would instead lose this flexibility and it would automatically commence this Monday, 30 March 2020. I ask the Senator to consider that this proposal and this date could be premature as our building and planning control systems are still functioning and carrying out their statutory duties, as they will be on Monday.This is because our building and planning control systems are still functioning and carrying out their statutory duties, as they will be on Monday. This is despite Covid-19-related work practices, including social distancing, naturally having an effect on local authority working arrangements. The proposed amendments would have the unintended effect of undermining the currently functioning operations of planning and building control authorities throughout the country by activating an emergency provision before it is necessary.
While I thank Senator Clifford-Lee for putting forward the amendment and I entirely understand her reason for putting it forward, I am appealing to her to defer the amendment and not to press it because while it is conceivable that at a point in time this provision will need to be triggered and we will need to change the operation of how our building and housing control services work, at this point it is not necessary to do so on Monday. The flexibility included in the current draft gives the Government the ability to make the decision at an appropriate time. Our current judgment is that time will not be on Monday.