New Bill promises to deal with judicial misbehaviour

Government’s legislation programme also promises Bill to establish court of civil appeal

The Dáil chamber. Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe has unveiled the new programme of legislation which promises to publish some 42 Bills between now and July when the Dáil breaks for the Summer recess.

The Dáil chamber. Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe has unveiled the new programme of legislation which promises to publish some 42 Bills between now and July when the Dáil breaks for the Summer recess.

 

The Government’s latest legislation programme promises Bills to establish a court of civil appeal; a judicial council to deal with the misbehaviour of judges; and provide GP care for under fives

It also undertakes to provide restorative justice to former residents of Magdalene Homes; and legislate for complicated questions surrounding parentage including assisted reproduction and surrogacy.

Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe has unveiled the new programme of legislation which promises to publish some 42 Bills between now and July when the Dáil breaks for the Summer recess.

The new programme departs from tradition in that it covers both the Spring and Summer sessions of the Oireachtas rather than the Spring session until Easter as has been the practice until now.

The Chief Whip’s office said the longer period of the programme would give scope for more planning and tracking of Bills and would ensure that the rate of successful publication was higher.

An examination of the Programme for the winter of 2013 shows that less than half the 30 Bills on the ‘A’ list (priority publication) were actually published.

Indeed, some 16 of the Bills on this A list are carried over from previous terms. Some of the Bills, including Children First; Bill Children (Amendment) Bill; and the Consumer and Competition Bill have been hanging around for a few terms. The latter also proposes to deal with the politically sensitive issue of media mergers.

Such experiences are not uncommon, according to the whip’s office, especially if legal questions arise.

The Bill to establish a Court of Appeal will give effect to last October’s referendum result. The long-awaited Judicial Council Bill (which was first mooted well over a decade ago) is also a priority. It proposes to “provide effective remedies for complaints about judicial misbehaviour including lay participation in the investigation of complaints.”

A Bill with potential for controversy is the Family Relationship an Children Bill which deals with reform of the law relating to guardianship, custody of and access to children. It will also address issues of parentage including assisted reproduction and surrogacy. The Bill will also “make express provision for the use of DNA tests to determine parentage and to provide for connected matters.”

The Bill to give the go-ahead for plain packaging for tobacco products - which has already been subject to sustained lobbying - is also on the priority lists and signals the Government is determined to go ahead with this change notwithstanding strong opposition from tobacco companies.

Another of the major Bills from Justice will essentially enable former residents of Magdalene Homes avail of restorative justice and recompense.

There is a technical Bill from the Department of Finance directed specifically at the Irish Financial Services Centre (the IFSC). The Irish Collective Asset Management Vehicle Bill is described as a Bill to allow a “bespoke corporate structure for collective investment schemes in accordance with the commitment set out in the IFSC strategy.” Its purpose and effect will only become evident when the Bill is published.

Two key proposed legislation remain on the C List where the Heads of Bill (draft legislation) have yet to be agreed. They are the climate change Bill (known as the Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Bill) and also the Seanad Electoral Bill, which will extend the franchise for the six Seanad university seats to graduates who did not attend TCD or the NUI. Both have provisional publication dates of 2014 but the earliest they will be published is in the second half of the year.