President had to work Christmas Day to keep up with Government

Legislation signed includes Bills on tax appeals and bankruptcy system

The Government’s haste in passing legislation before the general election is called meant President Michael D Higgins had to work on Christmas Day.

President Higgins signed five Bills into law on December 25th to meet the constitutional requirement that this must be done on the 5th, 6th or 7th day after he receives the legislation from the Oireachtas.

The Coalition has speeded up the passing of a variety of Bills, paving the way for a general election which is expected in late February.

“A variety of legislation has been sent to the President in recent times, and he would understand the requirement for that,’’ said a Government source.

“The President is a very hard worker and signing Bills on Christmas Day would not be a challenge to him, although we would prefer if he did not have any work at all on that day.’’

The Bills included the Finance (Tax Appeals) Bill, which sets up the Tax Appeals Commission and the Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill, reducing the duration of bankruptcy from three years to one year.

The other Bills were the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill, introducing a range of measures, including risk-equalisation credits, the Harbours Bill, providing the necessary legal basis for the transfer of ports in Drogheda, Dun Laoghaire, Galway, New Ross and Wicklow, to local authorities.

The Prisons Bill, which was piloted through the Dail in its final stages by Minister of State Ann Phelan, with no other Government or Opposition TD present, was also signed into law.

President Higgins has a more challenging task in the legislative area when he convenes a meeting of the Council of State on Tuesday to examine whether three sections of the International Protection Bill are repugnant to the Constitution. The Bill reforms the asylum application system.