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Remote working, Garda body-cams, vape laws: Some of the Govt priorities for the coming months

Hate crime law, remote working and mental health reforms – just some of the priorities for the summer.

Image: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

WITH THE PANDEMIC hopefully in the rearview mirror, the Government has a number of priority laws it wants to progress before the summer recess.

A total of 34 pieces of priority legislation, in fact, as well as a number of other Bills the Government want to finalise in the coming months. 

So, what stands out?

After two years of Covid, many people’s lives and workplaces have changed.

The Cabinet approved the Work-life Balance Bill recently which aims to ensure there is flexibility around family-related leave if children are sick, as well as the right to seek flexible working arrangements.

It will also have provisions for domestic violence leave. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is also keen to get his Right to Request Remote Work Bill over the line before the summer. This will give employees the right to request remote work and employers will have to offer valid reasons why they might refuse such a request. 

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has also confirmed that she is prioritising the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill which will provide for new, aggravated forms of certain criminal offences where they are motivated by prejudice.

This Bill will repeal and replace the offences in the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act.

Something that has been talked about for years – body cameras worn by gardaí – could also be step closer.

The Garda Síochána (Digital Recording) Bill is also on the list which seeks to ensure body worn cameras are rolled out across the force.

Banning of Conversion Therapy Bill which seeks to ban conversion therapy against LGBTI+ persons is also a priority. 

After many, many years, Minister of State Mary Butler is expected to be finalising the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill which will amend the Mental Health Act 2001

It update Ireland’s mental health legislation and has been significantly delayed. 

This will give effect to recommendations of an expert group review on mental health legislation which were made seven years ago.

Another Bill that has been talked about for a number of years is also a priority – the Human Tissue (Transplantation, PostMortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill which deals with organ donation and transplantation.

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This Bill seeks to establish an opt-out system of consent for deceased organ donation, rather than the current opt-in system. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly also seeks to get the Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill over the line this year. This law aims to ensure safe access to premises at which termination of pregnancy services may be provided. 

A licensing system for the sale of vape products and e-cigarettes is also on the list of summer legislation. Pre-legislative scrutiny is currently ongoing

A Bill that will pave the way for a Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick is also on the way.

Due to the the justice minister highlighting the lack of provisions for women in politics that want to take maternity leave, the Taoiseach promised the system would be reformed.

Work on the Local Government (Maternity protection for Local Authority Elected members) Bill which will provide for maternity leave for local authority elected members is currently underway.

The Justice Department is also working on the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which will increase in the penalty for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life imprisonment.

The long talked about Gambling Regulation Bill may become a reality. It seeks to establish a regulator for the sector and modernise the licencing of gambling activities. 

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