Seanad debates

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers) (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages

 

10:30 am

Photo of Alice-Mary HigginsAlice-Mary Higgins (Independent)

I am a co-signer and initiator of this amendment. That was a very useful intervention from Senator Ward. One of the problems is that there is not great clarity on it and concerns have been raised. We know that across Ireland, and particularly in rural Ireland, many family members live on the same premises. The language used in the Bill refers to a premises on which intoxicating liquor might be served. There are situations, for example, where it is regarded that a building or a pub is licensed but there is a separate dwelling space within it. I am not necessarily keen to press this amendment but I want to flag it as an issue.

It is important that clarity is reinforced in the regulations because there is a sense that this is an emergency power so we need to be crystal clear on the measure and not rely on, for example, the question of another relative who might live in an apartment above a premises so forth. People are very reluctant to say that a warrant is needed to go into a building in case they be perceived, because they want to co-operate, as blocking access to the premises. I am looking to those who will want to co-operate but who are very clear that there is a distinction between that part of a building which is used for the selling of intoxicating liquor and their residence as a specified person.I am proposing the amendment because of the circumstances in which the Bill is being taken. It is being rushed through the House with all Stages being taken today. We have not had the normal process of a Second Stage debate to tease out this issue. I hope the Minister of State can confirm that the regulations and the guidance to An Garda Síochána will include clear specifications as to what this law does and does not entitle gardaí to do with regard to premises. That would give reassurance and clarity to many people.

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