Monday, 15 February 2021
Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2020: Report and Final Stages
-----who are covered. Joking aside, this is clearly a serious matter as regards political organisation, democracy and attracting people to become involved in political parties. That is why I very much welcome these amendments. I also welcome the Minister of State's positive comments on the previous Stages regarding the Magnitsky Act that Deputy Howlin and I, and others in Labour and other parties, have been proposing. It is a long-overdue reform, so I thank the Minister of State for that.
I ask the Minister of State to bring similar common sense to bear in respect of another aspect of this Bill to which my attention was, unfortunately, drawn too late for me to table amendments on it. I was contacted over the weekend by the Union of Students in Ireland, USI. The latter has legal advice on this and is concerned that because of later provisions in the Bill, namely, section 26 and related sections, every students' union which has a board of trustees will have to register every student as a beneficiary, and when any student drops out, it will have to update the register accordingly. Clearly, this has massive implications for students' unions. They are very concerned. They have had legal advice on the matter. I myself looked at section 26, which inserts a new section 106ZD into the 2010 Act. Subsection (5) of that new section provides an exemption for bodies established for the purpose of promoting amateur games or sports so, clearly, the GAA had similar concerns but at an earlier stage was provided with an exemption - not just the GAA, but any amateur sports bodies. It seems that there is a similar exemption for charitable trusts.
I know it is too late in the day to amend this if, indeed, it is a problem. It is too late in the day to amend it in the Seanad, but given that our amendments are now due to go back to the Dáil, I ask that an amendment be made in the Dáil to address this issue, if indeed it is an issue. As I said, I have not had time to look into this in more detail because it came to my attention so late. However, I am conveying, on behalf of the USI, a serious concern that this will create a major logistical and operational problem for students' unions. I know from Trinity College Dublin Students' Union that many unions have boards of trustees now. I am on the board of Trinity College Dublin Students' Union so I should declare an interest. These were set up with a view to ensuring good governance for students' unions. Many of us, me included, came into politics through student union activism. It is really important that common sense prevails and that we do not see unforeseen consequences for bodies such as students' unions as a result of this Bill, in particular section 26 and the related sections related to trusts and trustees. I ask again that this be looked at by the Minister of State and his Department. The USI, I am sure, will make contact as well, but I ask that a sensible approach be taken similar to that which was taken in response to the concern Senator McDowell, I and others had raised about the PEP provisions.