#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 21 October 2020
Advertisement

Cabinet approves plans to scrap up to 3,000 old and obsolete laws

A Bill being prepared by Brendan Howlin will repeal thousands of obsolete laws which were passed before Irish independence.

The Fusilier's Arch at St Stephen's Green. An Act from 1877, opening the Green to the public, is one of the few to survive the chop.
The Fusilier's Arch at St Stephen's Green. An Act from 1877, opening the Green to the public, is one of the few to survive the chop.
Image: irishjaunt via Flickr

THE GOVERNMENT has approved plans to scrap up to 3,000 obsolete laws which were passed before Ireland gained independence.

The laws – many of which were approved by the parliament of the United Kingdom and Ireland after 1801, though some will date from the parliament of the previous Kingdom of Ireland which existed from 1542 – will be removed in a Statute Law Revision Bill.

The bill forms the latest stage as part of a major government programme to remove all ancient laws which, although obsolete, remain in force.

When Ireland gained independence in 1922, it passed an act to inherit all laws that had previously applied to the jurisdiction – meaning many ancient laws, including those passed in Westminster while Ireland was part of the UK, still apply today unless they have been repealed in some way.

The government’s programme of repealing old acts kicked off in 2003, and around 5,000 obsolete Acts have been eliminated since then.

Among the sort of acts being repealed are private divorce Acts, which were used to dissolve marriages in the days before there was an option for judicial divorce in this jurisdiction.

Others include Acts conferring citizenship on non-nationals, which were used to give citizenship to people in the days before that power had been conferred to Ministers.

The Bill being prepared will also specify around 780 pieces of old legislation which were to remain in effect, however.

Among those Acts include the Saint Stephen’s Green (Dublin) Act 1877, which formally opened the Green to regulated public use, and which gives the ‘Chief Secretary or Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant’ – now the Minister for Finance – the authority to issue bye-laws relating to its use.

Other Acts being retained are the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act, passed in the same year, which formally established the entities now known as the National Museum and National Library.

One similar previous law, passed in 2005, removed the 700-year obligation for every citizen of Ireland to own a bow and arrow, and to practice archery – but also withdrew the law which abolished pillory, the act of locking someone into stocks so that they could be pelted with tomatoes.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

Read next:

COMMENTS (32)