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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 22 November, 2019

No other Bills to be published as Brexit legislation to clog up Dáil until March

The Brexit omnibus Bill is to be discussed at Cabinet today.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

NO OTHER LEGISLATION will be able to be published before March due to Brexit legislation dominating the Dáil and Seanad, warned the government chief whip, Sean Kyne.

Fine Gael parliamentary party members were told yesterday that the legislative programme for the first part of 2019 will be predominantly Brexit-related laws.

The only other items on the agenda are legislation relating to Constitutional changes scheduled for referendums this year, such as changes to the divorce wait time and also extending the right to vote in the presidential election to those outside Ireland.

Kyne said Brexit legislation will be the “top priority” of the Attorney General and the Office of Parliamentary Council, adding that it will not be possible to publish other legislation.

The only other legislation that might get the green light are laws that were in the final stages of drafting before Christmas.

Omnibus Bill

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that a Brexit “omnibus Bill” will go before both Houses of the Oireachtas. It will have 17 pieces of legislation and statutory instruments relating to changes in the laws that will need to be in place post-Brexit.

It is anticipated the omnibus Bill will be published at the end of February, and a debate will follow. It is envisaged the Bill will be passed in the middle of March ahead of the Withdrawal Agreement deadline of 29 March.

The chief whip said the Dáil will be “quite happy” to sit extra days and hours to “ensure the legislation passes in the national interest”.

The Brexit Bill is due to be discussed today at Cabinet today, as are a number of additional contingency plans for areas such as transport, medicines and the common travel area.

The Taoiseach said yesterday that he still believes a no-deal Brexit is unlikely, but added that Ireland needs to prepare for it nonetheless. 

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