Nearly 22,000 obsolete laws repealed


CENTURIES-OLD divorce laws remaining on the statute books since the 1700s were among thousands of obsolete pieces of legislation repealed in the Dáil yesterday.

Minister of State for Public Expenditure and Reform Brian Hayes introduced the Statute Law Revision Bill, which deletes nearly 22,000 pieces of legislation. He described the move as “the largest and most extensive repealing measure not only in the history of the State, but also the most extensive single statute law revisions measure ever introduced in any jurisdiction”.

The 21,936 pieces of legislation deleted included about 250 Acts providing for specific divorces dating from a time “when an Act of parliament was the only way in which to gain a divorce”.

Mr Hayes said this practice was continued in the Free State parliament and about 70 Irish divorce Acts passed through parliament between 1857 and 1922, “the majority of which were passed in the two decades prior to independence”.

Work on revising the legislation from 1751 to 1922 has been ongoing since 2003 and 23,000 Acts were individually assessed.

The Minister said the Bill signalled a “profound change” and meant that all pre-independence primary legislation would not automatically be carried forward.

Pre-independence legislation that remained in force “will have been specifically assessed and a deliberate decision will have been made by a sovereign Irish parliament to retain the Acts in question”.