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Business committee to discuss Higgins concern over volume of legislation

PA Media logoPA Media 29/07/2021 By Cate McCurry, PA
Michael D. Higgins wearing a suit and tie: Michael D Higgins (Niall Carson/PA) © Niall Carson Michael D Higgins (Niall Carson/PA)

An emergency meeting of Oireachtas committees is be held after President Michael D Higgins raised concerns about the amount of legislation sent to his office.

In a letter to the Oireachtas, Mr Higgins referenced the large volume of complex legislation he has had to consider in recent weeks.

A joint meeting of the Dail Business Committee and Seanad Parliamentary Procedures Committee is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the issue.

Mr Higgins specifically referred to legislation he had to consider in the weeks leading up to Christmas as well as in recent weeks.

He said nine pieces of legislation were sent to his office in one day.


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As set out in the constitution, the president must consider new legislation before signing it into law.

Under Article 26 of the constitution, Mr Higgins can refer legislation to the Supreme Court within seven days of receiving it, to determine whether the Bill conflicts with the constitution.

The president must convene with the Council of State when doing so.

If the Supreme Court holds that the Bill is unconstitutional, the president cannot sign it.

If the court rules it is constitutional, the president signs the Bill and it becomes law and it cannot be challenged at a later date.

Among the legislation was the Health (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2021, which allowed for the reopening of indoor hospitality.

Mr Higgins said the Bills were “complex” and required detailed analysis, particularly around the constitutional implications.

Labour TD Duncan Smith said: “I welcome the president’s intervention and look forward to discussing this in detail tomorrow.”

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan said: “It really shouldn’t take an intervention from the president for the Government to realise that ramming through legislation at the last minute, using the guillotine, not allowing time for debate, scrutiny and amendments is no way to treat the democratic process.”

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