Monday, 29 March 2021
Residential Tenancies Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages
To respond to the points just made, some people, albeit not in this House, have suggested that the Government should ignore the Attorney General and allow this to be tested in the courts. The Government must ensure that any legislation which passes is proportionate, legal, constitutional and not open to challenge. The Attorney General has been quite clear in his advice to the Government that this legislation is okay in the context of Covid-19 but because we do not know what the position will be after July, the Bill's provisions can only apply for a limited period. As I have stated, the Minister and Minister of State have indicated that if we are, unfortunately, in circumstances where Covid-19 is still with us at that point, they will not hesitate to come back before both Houses of the Oireachtas in order to extend the provisions of the legislation.
I thank the Acting Chairman for the latitude. Before concluding, I appeal, as I did last Friday, for the Opposition not to make a political football out of this as some people have done outside the Chamber. They have posted screenshots of votes of the Oireachtas to support an argument that in some way the Government is against tenant rights and this legislation is removing protections for tenants. This legislation is enhancing protection for a further three months. That is a fact and anything stated to the contrary is inaccurate. It is very important to put that on the record. This is about extending protections for a further three months for a cohort of people who have been the most negatively affected from a financial point of view by Covid-19. It is right and proper action and I commend the Government on it.