Continuing on from the legislative programme last year, the Government focus is again on addressing the day-to-day challenges of people and society generally. Some 34 priority pieces of draft legislation (Bills) are planned for this term, which Chief Whip Jack Chambers TD said will “deliver on the commitments in the Programme for Government, ensure Ireland is well placed to respond to domestic and international challenges, and improve quality of life for all people”.
The full programme is available here
We take a closer look at some of these areas:
The Work-life Balance Bill is being introduced to increase the participation of women in the labour market and the take-up of family related leave and flexible working arrangements. The Right to Request Remote Work Bill will introduce the right to request remote work. However, it should be noted that this does not provide for an automatic right to work remotely, merely to ask for it. Employees cannot be penalised for making a request to work remotely.
Justice – court reform
The long-awaited Communications (Data, Retention and Disclosure) Bill has been introduced in light of the issues arising from the Graham Dwyer case and the recent CJEU decision stemming from this.
There are several bills aimed at streamlining and reducing delays in the courts such as:
- The Family Court Bill will formally establish a separate Family Court division.
- The Review of the Administration of Civil Justice Bill provides for the codification of Judicial Review proceedings for efficiency.
The Court Proceedings (Delays) Bill will provide a scheme for statutory compensation when Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights is breached. Article 6 guarantees the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time. The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill is designed to reform further the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) to increase the number of cases which can be settled by PIAB without recourse to litigation.
In addition, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill provides for an increase in the penalty for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life imprisonment. And, the Gambling Regulation Bill will establish a gambling regulator for the sector.
The Garda Síochána (Digital Recording) Bill aims to legislate for the increased need for technology in policing, by providing for the use of Body Worn Cameras and Automatic Number Plate Recognition by the Gardaí. The Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill will seek to increase cooperation between An Garda Siochána and other public service bodies, so as to improve community safety. In a similar vein, the Garda Siochána (Powers) Bill will codify police powers of search, arrest and detention.
Three bills relating to health are of particular note:
- The Health (Amendment) Bill is aimed at improving support for children or adults with a disability, allowing them to temporarily be placed in emergency care where their life, health or welfare is at serious risk.
- The Health Bill amends the Health Act 2004 to provide for changes to corporate and service planning processes.
- The Health Information Bill underpins attempts to modernise health information systems by providing a robust legislative infrastructure for the processing of data.
The Charities (Amendment) Bill aims to increase the accountability of charities. The Aarhus Convention Bill will consolidate and further implement the access to justice provisions under the Aarhus Convention. The Regulation of Lobbying (Amendment) Bill will amend and strengthen the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, while also improving the Lobbying Register and altering enforcement powers under the Act.
And last but not least, the much sought-after Defamation (Amendment) Bill, has been prepared following a recent statutory review of the Defamation Act 2009. This will undoubtedly be controversial and much debated.
The summer legislative programme is again ambitious. Whether Minister Chambers’ remarks that these Bills ensure Ireland is well placed to respond to domestic and international challenges, remains to be seen.
For more information on the Government Legislation Programme, contact a member of our Public, Regulatory & Investigations team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.