Bill legislating for abortion to be published in October

‘Rainy day fund’ among 39 pieces of legislation planned for before end of the year

Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh published the legislative programme for the autumn. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh published the legislative programme for the autumn. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Government plans to publish a Bill to set up the €8 billion “rainy day fund” in October as well as legislation to allow abortion up to 12 weeks.

Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh on Tuesday published the legislative programme for the autumn with an ambitious plan to prioritise 39 Bills between now and the new year.

More than half the Bills were included in the legislative programme from last January and have been carried over as they have yet to be published.

At least one Bill from January has been downgraded from the priority list, legislation on amending the Constitution to remove the reference to the role of women in the home.

The relegation occurred after Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan failed to garner the support of the Opposition for a quick passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas, which would have allowed a referendum on the issue to be held on the same day as the presidential election on October 26th.

The National Surplus (Reserve Fund for Exceptional Contingencies) Bill will provide for setting up the rainy day fund, which will be a central part of Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe’s strategy in the budget.

The Health (Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy) Bill is expected to be published within a week to facilitate a quick passage in the Dáil and Seanad. The Bill is expected to be debated in early October.

Validity

Another Bill which will be popular with consumers is one that will guarantee that all vouchers will have a minimum validity span of five years.

There is also a Microbeads Bill which will prohibit the manufacture, sale, supply, import or export of certain products containing plastic microbeads, which have been found to be harmful to marine life.

Already, the Bill has attracted criticism from Labour’s Seán Sherlock, who said it has yet to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny or to be published in draft form. He said a Bill he had prepared was approved by committee, save for one or two small amendments, and he argued that his Bill should be used.

Another surprising omission is the Land Development Agency Bill which relates to the new body announced by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy last week along with a promise to build 150,000 houses over 20 years.

Speaking of the programme, Mr McHugh said: “The reality is that we are a minority Government and we require the support of other members of the Dáil in order to progress legislation.

“The record of this Government is testament to its ability to achieve consensus and to get the job done.”

Since coming to power in June 2016 some 81 Acts have been passed, including seven which started off life as Private Members’ Bills.

Among the Bills unpublished since last January are the National Broadband Plan (Access) Bill; the Official Language Acts; the Gender Pay Bill; and the Child Care (Amendment) Bill.