Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice Martin Kenny has hit back at the refusal of government to withdraw sections of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020.
These sections had not been subject to the usual pre-legislative scrutiny and were said in the Dáil on Thursday night to have nothing to do with Covid-19.
Deputy Kenny said: “That should be the last time that Sinn Féin co-operates with the government on this basis. Their action was deceptive and treacherous in deed and in intent.
“Last week, the Minister for Justice sought a waiver for the requirement for pre-legislative scrutiny for the General Scheme of the Civil and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020. It would mean the law would pass through the Oireachtas without the usual scrutiny.
“This was sought on the grounds that the legislation provided for Covid-19 measures and needed to be progressed quickly.
“While parts of the bill dealt with necessary Covid-19 measures, Sections 13 and 14 specifically introduced measures which will make it easier for vulture funds to function in Irish courts, where they mainly go to repossess the homes of people, whose mortgages have been sold to them by Irish banks.
“These provisions, particularly Section 14, appear to solve a difficulty felt by vulture funds, whereby they cannot avail of the provisions of the Bankers’ Book Evidence Act.
“But this is not a Covid-related measure – it has nothing to do with addressing difficulties arising from the pandemic. In reality, it is a legislative leg-up for vulture funds in the courts.
“It is outrageous to bury provisions such as these in legislation mainly about Covid-19 emergency measures. Sinn Féin should not be willing, in future, to trust any minister in this government and should insist on full pre-legislative scrutiny on all bills.
“On this occasion, by request of Minister McEntee, who assured us that the bill was about Covid measures and whose written request for a waiver omitted any mention of the banking provisions in the bill, we tried to be co-operative.
“But we were deceived and when we asked in the debate for the minister to withdraw the offending sections of the bill, she refused.”