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03/11/2021 12:00:00 AM


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Pringle, Thomas

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Bills

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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021

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Report and Final Stages

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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021\Report and Final Stages
Bills\Criminal Procedure Bill 2021\Report and Final Stages

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Amendment No

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2

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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021

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Report and Final Stages

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Senator


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Deputy Thomas Pringle

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Deputy Thomas Pringle

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Thomas Pringle

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03/18/2021 03:01:14 PM

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Snippet Contents:

I move amendment No. 2: This amendment is self explanatory. We had a discussion about it on Committee Stage. It states: "The Minister shall, not later than three years after the commencement of this Act, carry out a review of the operation of this Act" and that a report be laid before the House or whatever so that we could see how the legislation is performing.
On Committee Stage, the Minister said there is already a procedure in the Oireachtas whereby within a year of it being passed an Act is open to be reviewed. That is true. I had not received documentation at that time. I asked the Oireachtas how many Acts had been reviewed and what the procedure is. Interestingly, the Oireachtas was not able to give me a breakdown of the number of Acts that have been submitted for review. Either the information was not ready or was not in a format in which that analysis could be done.
A document was submitted to me. It was a report that was carried out for a presentation in London on post-legislative scrutiny of Bills and so on, which was very interesting. It makes a mockery of the 12-month review and is interesting for a number of reasons. It stated that while overall the post-legislative scrutiny process has been implemented in an ad hoc and unreflective way by Government Departments, which is damning in itself, some of the information that has been given in the reviews and documents is the type of information that could be readily obtained by Members of the Houses of Oireachtas through parliamentary questions. One could argue that is the way it should be, but the purpose of the review process is to get information about how an Act is working. The parliamentary question process may not be the appropriate way to tease out such issues.
Recommendations were made on the changes that might be useful and important. In one of the main recommendations it stated that while information about commencement and why certain sections have not been commenced is useful at the one-year point, overall the timeframe of the Government's post-enactment report should be extended from one year to three years, with the option that for certain Acts, agreed between the committee and the Minister, the timeframe should be five years.
My amendment recommends that after three years a review would take place, which is what the library service recommended for legislative review. The Minister said this is already provided for, and this Bill will come under that timeframe. From that point of view, this is an important amendment. As the Minister outlined in her response to amendment No. 1, a lot of the information will make a real difference. This is an important Bill in terms of how sexual offences are dealt with. The review of how the Bill is working will be important. It should be open to scrutiny and fully scrutinised. I would be very concerned that one year is not long enough and we will not be able to examine what has happened.
I may be wrong, but the tone from the Minister and all Government Departments seems to imply that if a Bill is passed today and the one-year timeframe is all we have that is all we are going to get. In her response to amendment No. 1, the Minister said a three-year period before a review would be too long and could not happen.
We cannot underestimate what the Department is trying to achieve, and it is important that things are done right. We need a system to ensure that things are being done right, and if changes are needed the legislation can be tweaked and things can be flagged in order that change can take place. That is why I have put forward the amendment and will press it.