The Irish Government Legislation Programme for the remainder of 2018 is ambitious. While the Programme contains 39 priority pieces of legislation (Bills), experience tells us that there is no guarantee that all the promised Bills will be published.

The Government Chief Whip, Joe McHugh, in unveiling the programme said that it is to help “make a real difference to people’s lives”.

The full programme is available here

Housing

Unsurprisingly, this is a continuing feature of the Government’s legislative programme. Granting additional tenant’s rights, providing a home building financial lender and keeping people in their homes are among the key items.

Four Bills relate to housing. The Home Building Finance Ireland Bill 2018 will establish a new lending institution, the “Home Building Finance Ireland” to lend to residential property developers on favourable terms. The aim is to accelerate house building. This Bill was proposed in the summer programme and has now advanced to Committee Stage.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill will provide further protection for tenants to prevent unlawful rent increases in rent pressure zones. The Courts & Land Conveyancing (Amendment) Bill, also dubbed as the “Keeping People in their Homes Bill”, will enable people who are in mortgage arrears to remain in their homes.

The Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Bill aims to improve the regulation of over 500 existing Approved Housing Bodies across the country through the establishment of an independent regulator. However, this legislation has been promised for some time now, with the Heads approved in 2015.

Healthcare

Legislation to allow for abortion is a priority following the passing of the referendum in May 2018 which removed the equal right to life of the unborn from the Irish Constitution. This new legislation is the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill which has been approved by the Government. The next stage in the process is for the Minister for Health to bring the Bill to the Oireachtas.

Miscellaneous

Some other areas which will be afforded legislative attention include:

  • A bill to be welcomed by consumers which will deem gift vouchers valid for a minimum period of five years
  • The Microbeads Bill will ban the manufacture and sale of products that contain plastic microbeads
  • A constitutional amendment to remove the reference to blasphemy is proposed
  • New equality legislation with the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill to force companies to report pay differences
  • The Finance Bill, which will implement most provisions of the 2019 Budget, is due to be announced on 9 October

Conclusion

Whilst the programme has been hailed as ambitious, many of the measures identified as a priority have featured in previous legislative programmes. It remains to be seen how much of the Programme is finalised or initiated before the end of the year.