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 thank the Minister of State for his speech and congratulate him on his appointment to his role. It is still not clear what exactly is meant by the phrase "or otherwise". If there is a specific intent in legislation, it is always better to state it.

The Minister of State mentioned amendment No. 4, concerning provisions under section 31A of the Act of 1947. He said it would potentially expand the intentions. That is certainly not my intention. What I sought to do was to set some limit. I would like to be clear about the Minister of State's interpretation of the phrase "or otherwise". The relevant premises is the subject of the first check, so we know already that it is only going to be relevant premises. My amendment would not change that; it would relate only to relevant premises. The Minister of State indicated that his interpretation of "or otherwise" is that it would relate to other public health regulations that have been made. Presumably such public health regulations would have been made under section 31A of the 1947 Act. My amendment, such as it was, sought simply to codify what seemed to be the intent, which I presumed was the Government's desire to be able to take action on other provisions under section 31A in circumstances where it is seen that the wider health guidelines might be in breach. That is what my amendment would allow for and what the Minister of State describes the phrase "or otherwise" as doing. What does "or otherwise" achieve that is either encompassed by the general provisions under section 31A of the 1947 Act or that goes beyond them? It would be good to be really clear on what exactly "or otherwise" encompasses. Could the Minister of State clarify whether it encompasses something less or more than what the section encompasses? That would be useful to me in determining whether I should press the amendment. I will be supporting Senator Bacik's amendment. On the issue I raised, I would really appreciate clarification.


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