Government accused of using Brexit to delay laws

The Government has been accused of using the Brexit crisis and cost fears as an excuse to stall vital law changes after it emerged 146 opposition bills have been delayed despite being backed by the Dáil and Seanad.

Opposition parties have demanded key new laws on housing, education, social welfare, and other areas are passed immediately after being sidelined for months and in some cases years.

Oireachtas figures revealed in today’s Irish Examiner show that, despite claims the ‘new politics’ era would make it easier for opposition parties to change laws, bills backed by TDs and senators are being quietly blocked later at legal stages.

  • 159 bills are currently at second stage scrutiny after being backed by TDs and senators;
  • 146 are from opposition TDs and senators;
  • 54 of the opposition bills are facing lengthy financial “money message” checks compared to none from Government;
  • 69 have also been sent to committee stage compared to 11 Government bills, among other delays;
  • 10 bills from individual Fine Gael and Independent Alliance TDs and senators are facing second stage delays. This compares to 63 from Fianna Fáil, 42 from Sinn Féin, 11 from the Social Democrats-Greens technical group, nine from Solidarity-PBP, and seven from Labour.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Government is deliberately delaying opposition bills to limit rivals election chances.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government is trying to “pull the wool over the eyes of the people” by stalling the bills at later stages, while Labour leader Brendan Howlin claimed officials are “terrified” of “laws they can’t control”.

However, Government chief whip Sean Kyne rejected the claims, saying some bills have legal and cost issues, and that the Brexit omnibus bill took priority in recent months.

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