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Irish government publishes no-deal Brexit plans for transport, healthcare and consumer protection

The laws apply to a wide number of areas of Irish society.

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THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has published a list of some of the laws that will need to be changed here to ensure continuity of various services and rights between Ireland and the UK in the case of a no-deal Brexit. 

In a statement released this afternoon, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that it has published the general scheme of the proposed primary laws that will need to be introduced in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

The General Scheme of the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill is what’s known as an Omnibus Bill.

It is made up of 17 different parts and is prepared by nine ministers across different government departments.

The government said that the plans are part of its Brexit Contingency Action Plan, which will be brought into effect in the case of the UK crashing out of the EU on 29 March if no deal is reached and approved by all sides involved in negotiations. 

The proposed laws deal with many different areas of Irish society and how it connects with Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, including citizens’ rights, transport, taxation and security cooperation, among others.

Ireland is distinct from the other EU countries in terms of its relationship with Britain. 

The two share the Common Travel Area, which allows for the free movement of people across countries and affords rights to Irish and UK citizens separate from broader EU rights.

As well as this, both Ireland and the UK are committed to ensuring  the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Peace Process are fully maintained no matter what the outcome of Brexit is. 

The proposed laws

The legislation being brought forward relates to many areas of Irish life. 

Healthcare

The proposed laws will allow for the provision of healthcare between Ireland the UK to continue as it has before.  

This means that the HSE will be able to cover the cost of healthcare provided in the UK under the same conditions as currently, meaning where treatments are not provided under Ireland’s own healthcare system or for an Irish person who becomes ill while on a visit to the UK and needs immediate health care there.

It will also cover people from the UK living or visiting here as before. 

Education 

Under the proposed new laws the Susi student maintenance grant will still be payable to eligible Irish students going to study in the UK and visa versa. 

Social Protection 

The laws will allow for the continued payment of 21 social protection benefits, including payments such as old age pensions, illness benefits and child benefit. Workers whose UK-based employer becomes insolvent will also be protected under this legislation.

Consumer Protection

The DFA said that the laws would be to ensure an adequate degree of consumer protection would be in place for consumers who have already bought financial service products before the date of Brexit. 

Other sectors 

In terms of the other sectors of Irish society, the legislation covers Transport, Energy, Taxation and Justice and Security.

Transport 

The bill will provide a statutory basis for cross border rail services (the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise) and bus services, in order to ensure continued service provision for passengers and commuters on the island of Ireland. 

Energy 

The proposals are designed to allow for the continued operation of the all-island Single Electricity Market in the context of a no-deal Brexit, pending longer term provisions in this area.

Justice and Security 

The Bbll will allow for measures to ensure that effective extradition arrangements are maintained between Ireland and the UK and to facilitate ongoing immigration cooperation arrangements when the UK leaves the EU.

Timeline

The government has said that it hopes to have the Bill passed through the Oireachtas before 29 March – the date on which the UK would crash out of the EU in the case of a no-deal outcome.

The bill is not due to be introduced into the Dáil until February and will be debated on the floor there.

The DFA said that instead of proceeding to Committee Stage after the first round of debates in the Dáil, the bill may be debated on the floor of the House instead of a t committee level. This is due to the sizable scope and nature of the legislation. 

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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