Written answers

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Proposed Legislation

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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62. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government when the electoral reform Bill will be introduced in Dáil Éireann; the timeline for its implementation; if he will provide an overview of the aspects that will be covered in the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [60718/21]

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
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The Programme for Government - Our Shared Futurecommits to the establishment of a statutory, independent Electoral Commission. The legislative provisions for the Electoral Commission are being progressed as part of an Electoral Reform Bill, which also provides for the modernisation of the electoral registration process, the regulation of online political advertising during election periods and provisions which are aimed at assisting with the holding of electoral events where Covid-19 restrictions are in place.

Following Government approval of the drafting of an Electoral Reform Bill, the Bill's General Scheme was circulated to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage in January for pre-legislative consideration. The General Scheme is available on my Department's website at www.gov.ie/en/publication/34cf6-general-scheme-of-the-electoral-reform-bill-2020. The Joint Oireachtas Committee carried out a thorough pre-legislative scrutiny process, taking in the views of a wide range of stakeholders and policy experts over seven sessions between January and August of this year. The committee's pre-legislative scrutiny report was published in August and is available from the Oireachtas website at www.oireachtas.ie/en/committees/33/housing-local-government-and-heritage/. The recommendations in the report are currently being considered by my Department. My Department is continuing to work with the Attorney General's Office on the drafting of the Electoral Reform Bill and good progress is being made. The Bill is included on the list of priority legislation in the Government's current legislation programme and I expect that it will be published and will commence its progress through the Oireachtas in the new year.

In addition to the legislative work that is being advanced, progress is also being made in respect of the practicalities of the Commission's establishment. In this regard, a team was put in place earlier in the year and is working on the preparatory institutional and administrative arrangements for the Electoral Commission, pending its formal establishment.


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