Emergency coronavirus law clears Dáil without vote

Emergency coronavirus law clears Dáil without vote

The Irish Government’s emergency coronavirus bill cleared the Dáil last night without a vote.

The Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020 will provide for “exceptional measures, being introduced in the interest of public health and support in a time of crisis”, Health Minister Simon Harris told TDs.

Barrister Andrew McKeown summarised the provisions of the bill, which include new powers to detain people and ban mass gatherings in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in a piece for Irish Legal News earlier this week.

Following calls from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and opposition TDs, Mr Harris committed to a “sunset clause” providing for a review of the measures in November 2020.

Mr Harris said: “Let us be clear. We cannot wish this virus away. It is going to be with us for many months and none of us knows exactly how long.

“It seems prudent to me that we would put in a date in November to ensure, if there is a point in time when this House cannot meet or other gatherings cannot take place, that we still have the powers we need.

“These are powers we do not ever wish to use, but they are powers that should be there.

“Let us not forget why we are doing this. The only reason we are doing this is to support our public health experts in saving lives and keeping people well. That is the only purpose of these measures, measures we hope we will never need to use.”

The bill will be considered by the Seanad today.

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