Brexit dominating Irish Government’s legislative plan for spring

Preparing for Brexit has dominated the Irish Government’s legislative plan for the spring.

Chief Whip Sean Kyne said the legislative programme covers only the period from January to March due to “the exceptional circumstances brought about by Brexit”.

An additional plan will be unveiled in March, the same month when the United Kingdom is expected to leave the European Union.

The spring programme includes a Brexit omnibus bill, which Mr Kyne described as “one of the most extensive bills to be considered by the Oireachtas”.

He said it comprises “vital legislation across 17 elements that will need to be enacted prior to Brexit in the event of a no-deal Brexit”.

Strasbourg incident
The European Parliament site in Strasbourg, France (PA)

“While the possibility of introducing a number of Brexit-related bills was considered, we believe a single, standalone bill – that contains a number of parts – is the most efficient and effective way of preparing for Brexit,” he said.

“The bill will focus on areas including healthcare, transport, social welfare and employment – as well as specific all island issues such as public transport and energy.

“It represents months of work by officials from across Government and, in particular, from the Department of Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“In addition, many of the provisions will be provided for through statutory instruments that will be ready for signing should they be required in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”

Mr Kyne also revealed that he believes it is likely that the Dail will be required to hold additional sittings in March.

“Senior officials from the Department of Taoiseach and I will work with the Dail Business Committee and with the various parties and groups in the Dail to ensure the passage of this substantial legislation ahead of Brexit,” he said.

While Brexit is dominating the spring programme, Mr Kyne said work will continue on other legislation, including constitutional amendment bills to facilitate referenda including a referendum on extending the right to vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens abroad and the referendum to change the law regarding divorce.

There is also an Electoral Amendment Bill to enable the number of MEPs for Ireland to increase.

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