Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has said he has serious reservations about the approach the Government is taking this week with regard to the Children and Family Relationships Bill. The latest information available to the party suggests it will be Thursday before the opposition sees the legislation in its entirety, having been put to Cabinet on Wednesday, and the Dáil is then expected to have a detailed debate on the Bill on Friday.
Deputy Collins said: “We are very supportive of the principle of the Children and Family Relationships Bill. It represents one of the most important reforms of child and family law since the Adoption Act passed in 2010. However the government needs to adhere to reasonable parliamentary procedures. The timeline the government is working on to debate and pass this legislation is already a challenge.
“This Bill will address serious deficiencies in how family law operates in Ireland but it is a complex and significant piece of legislation and should be given appropriate respect in the parliamentary process.
“Given the scale and impact this legislation I do not believe that a Bill of this importance should only be published a day in advance of the second stage debate being taken in the Dáil. It is not reasonable to expect members to have gone through the detailed legislation, stretching into hundreds of pages, in a matter of hours before debate.
“While we were willing to accept the unfortunate delay in the Bill’s publication, it is very disappointing that we are now being asked to accept it being published one day before it’s to be debated in the Dáil. After all it has 156 sections and will need very careful consideration and debate.
“Fianna Fáil will fully participate in the debate on this legislation at all stages but it is important that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is conscious not to stretch the goodwill and cooperation she has enjoyed from the opposition on this Bill to date.”