Coronavirus: Call to put time limit on new emergency law

Government is rushing legislation through Dáil that would give power to order regions into lockdown

The Dáil has reconvened with a reduced numbers of TDs as politicians practice social distancing measures as part of the effort to tackle coronavirus. Video: Oireachtas TV


The Government has been urged to include a “sunset clause” that would put a time limit on a Covid-19 emergency law with drastic powers it is rushing through the Dáil on Thursday.

The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2020 will be introduced at a special three-hour sitting of the Dáil today with a similar quick passage through the Seanad tomorrow.

There is a possibility it could be enacted into law over the weekend, if no issue over its constitutionality is raised by the President.

The Covid-19 Bill gives the Minister for Health extensive power to order entire regions into lockdown with severe restrictions on travel to and from the area, and even orders requiring people to remain in their own homes or places of work.

It will provide new powers to detain individuals who refuse to self-isolate when there is a risk they may transmit the disease.

Irish Council of Civil Liberties director Liam Herrick says it supports the Government’s efforts but said the legislation should be time-limited and include a “sunset clause”.