Parties seek legal advice on legality of government's blocking of proposed offshore drilling ban

Unrelated oil rig at work

The Green Party and People Before Profit are seeking legal advice over measures the Government has taken to effectively block legislation targeting a ban on oil and gas drilling in Irish waters.

The Government last month enacted bureaucratic procedure - via a so-called 'money message' - to halt the progress of People Before Profit's Climate Emergency Measures Bill upon reaching select committee stage, where it had widespread support from TDs.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Ceann Comhairle has indicated to him that his party can bring in legal support to tomorrow's sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Business Committee. He said the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisers, or OPLA, will - at the Committee - give its view on the Government's methods.

"There will be some legal discussion. On the basis of that we will have to look as to whether there could be a legal challenege," Mr Boyd Barrett said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment that legal advice over the Government's actions is needed and that a "root and branch" investigation is warranted. He said the Government had exceeded its powers in how it dealt with the bill and blocked further debate on the matter.

The Green's deputy leader Catherine Martin said the Government had misleaded the nation on its climate change message and was guilty of an "abdication of responsibility" over its attempts to block the drilling ban bill.

Junior Environment Minister Seán Canney said a "fair and measured" transition to renewable energy is needed, but that Ireland will require a high level of fossil fuel-generated energy beyond 2050.

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