Friday, 4 June 2021
Health and Criminal Justice (Covid-19) (Amendment) Bill 2021: [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil] Report and Final Stages
Michael McDowell (Independent)
I welcome the Minister to the House and welcome the fact that the Government did examine the points made in this House on the last occasion and realised that it was not simply asking for a six-month extension followed by a three-month extension; it was asking this House to agree that there should be a six-month extension followed by an open-ended series of three-month extensions, virtually forever. When that point was made in this House, the Minister began to see the strength of it. The health committee had made points about it but we still voted the legislation through as it stood because we were guillotined.The Minister made the very reasonable complaint that he was not able to say some of the things he said today in this House because of time constraints in Dáil Éireann. However, who imposed that guillotine? The answer is that he did. Government Whips imposed that deadline on Dáil Éireann. It was the Minister and his party. I will not get overly excited about it, but I am saying that those Members who found themselves forced into voting against the entire Bill because they could not move their amendments and have them individually voted on were the victims of a decision made by the Government to shove this thing through regardless because of the timeframe the Government itself had created.
I know that Monday was to be the cut-off date and that we had to legislate before Monday. However, there was no reason this legislation could not have been introduced two months ago with plenty of time to debate it. That date was clearly there. Everybody knew that date was coming. The Minister created this emergency by not legislating to extend until it gets very urgent. He then turns around and claims he could not contribute to a debate because of what the Whips had put down on the Order of Business in Dáil Éireann. It is a bit much. I am not going to get in any sense ratty with the Minister.