Thursday, 10 September 2020
Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers) (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
James Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail)
Garda are concerned that once they step into the licensed premises they may be prevented from giving a direction to comply with any penal Covid-19 regulations, if not prescribe specifically other than for the licensed premises. It is an attempt to give clarification but, as Senator Ward pointed out, one of the issues we have in this House is that so much of our legislation is not codified and we are constantly trying to jump from one Act to another and interpret one Act in another. That can cause unnecessary difficulties.
Any regulations made by the Minister for Health prescribing Covid-19 penal regulations for the purposes of the Bill must be laid before the Houses. Either House has, within 21 days, the power to challenge those regulations if it so wishes. There is still parliamentary oversight. I am aware that it is an act of the Houses that is not used too often but it is allowed under section 5 of the Health Act to allow the Houses the power to raise issue within 21 days.
I appreciate that all Senators are attempting to be constructive. I understand the concerns of Senators around the term, "otherwise". The term taken completely without the Bill has a very general application, but when taken within the context of the Bill and within the powers being given to An Garda Síochána it has a specific meaning and a specific application to the regulations. Yes, it will potentially apply to regulations that have not been made if they are to be made but in the circumstances that probably applies to any regulations given to a Minister, where the Minister has the power to make regulations, because he or she could always make future regulations. As I have already said, there is a power for either House to challenge those regulations within 21 days as they must be laid before the Houses.