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Here are just some of the government's priorities for the months ahead

Affordable housing, scramblers, e-scooters and speedy trials – just some of the issues the government plan to tackle.

The government has published is priority legislation for the Spring.
The government has published is priority legislation for the Spring.
Image: Sam Boal

WHILE COVID-19 AND the roll out of the vaccine are likely to dominate much of Dáil time this year, the government also has other priorities - 32 pieces of legislation, in fact. 

“Key legislation will be progressed in this term across a broad range of sectors including climate action, housing, health and transport,” said Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers this week, adding that Brexit will also be key. 

So, what stands out on that priority list, published at the start of term? 

A new Affordable Housing Bill, as promised in the Programme for Government, is a little delayed, but is being prioritised this Spring.

The Parents’ Leave and Benefit (Amendment) Bill will also be prioritised this session. This will extend leave entitlements and also provide adoptive leave and benefits for same sex couples.

The Human Tissue Bill, which has been debated for some time now, will introduce an opt-out system of consent for organ donation. The Nursing Home Support Bill will also be put on the important list, and will place a cap on how much farmers and business owners have to contribute towards nursing-home costs.

The much talked about Assisted Human Reproduction Bill – which has been put on the long finger in recent years – is also on the list. 

There has long been criticism that there is no legislative framework for the regulation of assisted human reproduction such as IVF, fertility practices and associated research, and this Bill aims to remedy that.

The Animal Health & Welfare (Prohibition on Fur Farming) Bill is also on the priority list, as is the the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which government say will deliver a raft of reforms in the sector including a new motor insurance database.

There has been much debate about legalising e-scooters over the years, with this government now planning on regulating their use.

New laws will also be introduced to deal with the issue of scrambler bikes being operated in a dangerous manner in communities across the country.

The Competition (Amendment) Bill aims to reform competition enforcement by giving powers to the competition authorities so they can impose civil sanctions. The topic was recently raised at an Oireachtas committee when the issue of Eir and its treatment of customers was being discussed. 

Everyone is hopeful for a return of concerts and entertainment event this year, so the Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill and its prioritisation will be welcomed.

This proposed legislation aims to stop ticket touting by prohibiting the resale of tickets for events in designated venues for a price exceeding their original sale price.

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Limerick could be in line for a directly elected mayor if the government gets to the Local Government (Directly Elected Mayor – Limerick) Bill over the line, which will give this person executive functions.

There are a number of justice bills on the list, such as the Criminal Procedure Bill. Ireland has been criticised by Europe for our long delays in either charging people or bringing them to trial, leaving many people and their families in limbo for many years.

The Department of Justice promised to expedite this Bill last year, which provides for measures to reduce delay and improve efficiency in procedural aspects of criminal trials, including by introducing preliminary trial hearings.

There’s also former Transport Minister Shane Ross’ Bill, which has been modified, but has been much talked about in recent months due to the controversy surrounding the appointment of Supreme Court judge, and former Attorney General, Seamus Woulfe: the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. 

This will amend the law in relation to judicial appointments and establish a Judicial
Appointments Commission to make recommendations with regard to such appointments.

Since the government came to office in June, it has published 29 Bills and enacted 30 Bills.

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