Maternity leave for local politicians one of 34 new laws on Cabinet agenda

Raft of new legislation includes establishment of gambling regulator and PIAB reform

The Government is to pass legislation this year allowing maternity leave for local politicians, as part of its summer legislative programme.

Legislation to abolish hospital inpatient fees for the under-16s will also form part of 34 Bills on the schedule, which will be presented to Cabinet by Government chief whip Jack Chambers on Tuesday.

There will also be new laws to enhance and reform the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), and establish a gambling regulator.

Also at Cabinet on Tuesday, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath will tell colleagues that Government spending is €600 million below expectations and 3.2 per cent below the same period last year, reflecting reduced outgoings on Covid-19 measures and favourable economic tailwinds.

Nonetheless, the entirety of the €1.5 billion Covid reserve fund is expected to be drawn down to meet the economic impact as pandemic supports are wound down, to fund spending on the Ukrainian refugee crisis, and to provide a backstop to pandemic challenges that may arise in the winter.

Mr McGrath will also inform Ministers on Ireland’s €1.1 billion allocation under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund, updating them on plans to ask officials to ensure it is all used and projects are identified that could account for other countries’ unspent funds, or additional money that becomes available.

Cabinet will also discuss air navigation and transport Bills, and spending reports to the end of March from some of the larger spending departments. It will approve the appointment of two special advisers, one each to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste's offices, to replace staff who are leaving or on maternity leave. It is also set to consider annual accounts from Coillte.