Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Informal Adoptions (Regularisation) Bill 2019: First Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Amendment of Orders of Reference of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion
 Header Item Proposed Approval by Dáil Éireann of the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury: Referral to Select Committee
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions
 Header Item Legislative Programme

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 978 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton] It is important to note that a birth certificate is not an identity document, nor does a birth certificate amount to proof of the family relationship that it asserts that is admissible in court. The Bill seeks to address this uncertain status. It defines the process of informal adoption as involving the placing of a child into the care of a married couple, neither of whom was the parent of the child concerned, with a view to the child being held out and considered for all purposes to be the child of that couple, born to them in wedlock, or to be their adopted child, without any regard to the need for an adoption order; and the furnishing of information in connection with registering the child's birth purporting to show the couple to be the natural parents of the child.

  Under this legislation, where documentation is available and an individual desires a valid adoption, a person who was informally adopted could apply to the Circuit Court for a declaration of adoption. If satisfied with the evidence presented, the court may make a declaration that the applicant is deemed to have been validly adopted on a particular date. The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths will then cancel the false birth certificate while the Adoption Authority of Ireland will issue a valid adoption certificate.

  The second remedy deals with individuals who may have been told and had believed that they were indeed the natural children of those who reared them as their parents. They had no reason to believe they were adopted, regularly or irregularly. There may be no surviving records to enable them to trace the original parties to this informal arrangement. The Bill will change the rules of evidence to protect those who wish to preserve what they had considered to be the status quo. It incorporates into civil law a rule that has been applied in criminal law since 1992, namely, that a document purporting to be a birth certificate is evidence, admissible in court, of the family relationship that it indicates. Evidence contradicting a birth certificate proffered in court will be inadmissible where the person whose birth certificate it is has consistently been treated, with regard to the rights and duties of parents and children in relation to each other, as the child of the persons named on the certificate as his or her parents. This new rule would not apply where someone fraudulently procured their own birth certificate. The purpose of this is to allow people who have now been thrown into no man's land to have this very irregular situation addressed.

  The Minister is offering social workers to people in their 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s so that they can pursue the issue. These people do not need social workers. They need a fairly simple court process to regularise their status. It is the children of today who are homeless who need the attention and support of social workers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Bill opposed?

Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Amendment of Orders of Reference of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I move:

That the Order of the Dáil of 3rd July, 2018, relating to the Special Joint Committee on Climate Action, be amended in paragraph (g) by the deletion of ‘31st January, 2019’ and the substitution therefor of ‘28th February, 2019’.

  Question put and agreed to.

Proposed Approval by Dáil Éireann of the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury: Referral to Select Committee

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I move:

That the proposal that Dáil Éireann approves the terms of the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, done at Kumamoto, Japan on 10th October, 2013, a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 23rd January, 2019, be referred to the Select Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, in accordance with Standing Order 84A(3)(b), which, not later than 12th February, 2019, shall send a message to the Dáil in the manner prescribed in Standing Order 90, and Standing Order 89(2) shall accordingly apply.

  Question put and agreed to.

Ceisteanna - Questions

Legislative Programme

 1. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his officials have outlined to him the necessary legislative changes required to prepare for Brexit. [1428/19]

 2. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his legislative priorities for 2019; and his plans for emergency Brexit legislation. [1547/19]

 3. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his legislative priorities for 2019; and his plans for emergency Brexit legislation. [2489/19]

 4. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his legislative priorities for 2019. [2757/19]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.

The Government legislation programme was published on 15 January and sets out our legislative priorities until March 2019. There are six Bills on the priority list for publication this session. Three are Brexit-related; the miscellaneous provisions (withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill, which is the primary legislation for the spring programme; the regulated professions (health and social care) (amendment) Bill; and the European Parliament elections (amendment) Bill to enable the number of MEPs for Ireland to increase. The remaining three Bills on the priority list consist of the constitutional amendment Bills necessary to facilitate the referendums on extending the right to vote in Presidential elections to Irish citizens abroad and to change the law regarding divorce, as well as enabling legislation to establish a tribunal to deal with issues regarding cervical cancer screening.

The programme reflects the need for the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to prioritise work on Brexit-related legislation to ensure that the necessary primary and secondary legislation can be enacted and commenced by 29 March 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit. As part of the Government’s contingency action plan, the miscellaneous provisions (withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill comprises vital legislation that will need to be enacted prior to 29 March in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The general scheme of the proposed primary legislative actions was published by Government on 24 January. The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Simon Coveney, is the lead Minister for the overall Bill and will lead the Second Stage debate on it in the Dáil, assisted by the Minister of State for European Affairs, Deputy Helen McEntee. The draft Bill focuses on the broad themes of protecting our citizens and assisting the economy, enterprise and jobs. Amendments to the Interpretation Act 2005, which would be required in the event of an orderly Brexit with a transition period, are also included. As set out in the Government’s contingency action plan and in the update provided on 15 January 2019, work is progressing in parallel on the required secondary legislation. On 15 January, the Government approved the drafting of statutory instruments covering a wide range of issues where secondary legislation is needed, from recognition of driver licences to recognition of some qualifications.

As timelines are tight, the Government will work very closely with all Opposition parties in the Oireachtas and all Members of the Dáil and Seanad in ensuring that the necessary no-deal Brexit-related legislation will be in place before 29 March. This Bill will complement the steps currently under way at EU level to prepare for the UK's withdrawal, notably as regards the implementation of the European Commission's contingency action plan and the associated legislative provisions. The draft omnibus Bill may need to be adjusted in light of ongoing developments.

Aside from the legislative priorities, the spring programme also includes 32 Bills that are expected to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny and work is under way on a further 91 Bills. Work is also continuing on other legislation across all Departments and several Bills that are at an advanced stage will be introduced in the coming weeks to be progressed alongside those currently on the Dáil Order Paper. Those on the Order Paper include the National Surplus (Reserve Fund for Exceptional Contingencies) Bill 2018, the Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2018, and the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018. It is intended to prepare and publish a further legislative programme towards the end of March.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Last Friday, only after significant pressure from the Opposition, the heads of the Brexit legislation were finally published by the Government. Even though Ireland is the country which would be worst hit by a no-deal Brexit, we are near the back of the pack when it comes to legislative preparations. In fact, we are by some distance the least prepared of the economies that would be significantly exposed to a no-deal Brexit. For example, the Dutch published their draft legislation early last November. It was sent to the parliament where it was discussed and suspended until this week, when the government negotiated amendments with the opposition. Because legislation was published two months ago, it has been scrutinised and the opposition has been given full access to Ministers, officials and background work.

Now that we have draft legislation we need the background material relevant to the various sectors covered by the overarching Bill to be published. There are as many as 11 different sectoral impacts. We need to see the analysis that lies behind the proposals and whether the measures proposed address the issues that have been raised over the past two years in different fora and studies. Can the Taoiseach give us an assurance that he will immediately publish this background work? In regard to the drafting of statutory amendments, there might be a need for a more comprehensive presentation to the House on the detail of all of those statutory instruments.

Given that today the Taoiseach has finally published the Government's assumptions on the fiscal impact of a no-deal Brexit, can he explain why he refused to provide this information on the many occasions we have asked for it in the past two months? Interestingly, the projections published today show a significantly lower impact than that projected by the Central Bank study only a few days ago. As the Taoiseach knows, the Central Bank is headed by an eminent economist who is the favourite to hold Europe's most important economic post. Can the Taoiseach explain the basis on which the Government has decided that the impact of a no-deal scenario will be lower than that projected by the Central Bank of Ireland?

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I wish to speak about the omnibus Brexit legislation, the heads of which were published last Friday.


Last Updated: 09/06/2020 11:46:12 First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page