Paul Kehoe, TD, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, announced the Government’s Legislative Programme on 22nd September, 2015:
A – Bills expected to be published from the start of the Dáil Session to the beginning of the next Session
Technological Universities Bill, to provide for the establishment of Technological Universities and the amendment of IOT/DIT, HEA and other Acts
Universities (Amendment) Bill, to give the Minister the power to require universities to comply with government guidelines on remuneration, allowances, pensions and staffing numbers in the University sector
Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Amendment) Bill, to repeal previous FEMPI Acts in line with provisions agreed in the Lansdowne Road Agreement
Public Sector Standards Bill, to reform the existing legislative framework in relation to ethics regulation for those in public office
C – Bills in respect of which heads have yet to be approved by Government
Higher Education (Reform) Bill, to modernise the legislative framework underpinning the governance and functions of the Higher Education Authority and the governance structures of the universities – publication expected 2016
Seanad Electoral (University Members) (Amendment) Bill, to implement the 1979 amendment to the Constitution on the Seanad university franchise – publication expected 2016
For more general comment on the legislative programme, and in particular its snail-like pace, see Harry McGee, ‘Government struggling to meet new legislation targets‘, Irish Times 23 September.
The government’s current stance on new universities – that it will allow the creation of technological universities only so long as certain precise (and to some minds arbitrary) criteria are satisfied – will have little credibility if it cannot pass legislation to bring this about – for that reason the TU Bill may be regarded as a priority.
The U(A) Bill, by contrast, serves its purpose of disciplining universities best if it is merely held in reserve, and so may not be so urgent.
Other projects have been put on the back-burner – disgracefully so in the case of the Seanad Bill, which even after 37 years has apparently not yet managed to rise to the top of the pile.