On Tuesday, Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers TD published the legislative programme for the Autumn 2021 session of the Oireachtas. Contained within the programme are 46 bills for priority drafting and publication by Ministers for the coming Autumn period. There are also 19 bills currently on the Dáil and Seanad Order papers.
The Cabinet approved the legislative programme following consultation and engagement in recent weeks with government departments, officials, and the Attorney General.
Speaking in relation to the programme, Minister Chambers noted that as Ireland emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government “will prioritise the measures needed to ensure the country can continue to recover while also tackling the many challenges faced now and into the future so our society can prosper once more”.
Housing and Health will be key priorities, according to Minister Chambers. With regards to housing, of particular importance is the Housing & Residential Tenancies Bill aimed at protecting tenants, and the Planning & Development Bill that will serve to replace the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) with a “more streamlined system”. For health, the Government is aiming to make progress in drafting five bills, including the Health Insurance Amendment Bill and new legislation that seeks to ensure safe access to termination of pregnancy services.
Also on the Government’s agenda is the Circular Economy Bill and the Consumer Rights Bill. The former of which aims to provide a legislative basis for certain actions under the 2020 Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, and to introduce measures to support the Circular Economy. The latter aims to give effect to EU Directive 770/2019 on consumer contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services, and EU Directive 771/2019 on consumer contracts for the sale of goods, and to update and consolidate the statutory provisions on consumer rights and remedies in relation to contracts for the supply of non-digital services, unfair contract terms, and information and cancellation rights.
In relation to transport, the long-awaited Road Traffic Bill which aims to regulate e-scooters is on the agenda for publication. Also Included in the legislation programme are 89 other pieces of legislation not characterised as priority legislation. Included in this list are Bills relating to the right to request remote work and gambling regulation.It is evident that the success of the Autumn Oireachtas session will be pivotal as Ireland grapples to tackle major issues relating to housing, health, and climate. This term will also see the passage of Budget 2022, which will have a significant impact on how Ireland emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, for better or for worse.