Launch of Public Consultation on Largest Repeal of Legal Instruments and Orders in Irish History

Issued 22 September 2014

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Brendan Howlin T.D. has announced his intention to revoke approximately 4,500 pre-independence Government regulations and orders, the largest repealing measure ever announced in the history of the State.

The Minister said:

“Statute law revision is the process by which spent or obsolete legislation is removed from the statute book. The removal leads to a more accessible statute book and will pave the way for further simplification and modernisation measures.

The process and work of the Statute Law Revision Programme to date, has been strongly supported by outside observers such as the OECD, and is included in the Programme for Government and the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016.”

Today Minister Howlin launches a public consultation process in relation to the removal of government orders, proclamations and similar secondary instruments which pre-date Irish independence. The initial phase of the review deals with instruments up to and including 1820.

The obsolete orders listed for removal include:

  • Declarations of war against Denmark in 1666 and against France in 1744,
  • An Order from January 1801 setting out the styles, titles and arms of the United Kingdom,
  • A Proclamation of 1817 reserving oatmeal and potatoes for consumption by the “lower orders of people”,
  • A Proclamation of 1690 prohibiting officers and soldiers from engaging in duels
  • A Proclamation of 1661 prohibiting drunkenness, cursing, swearing and profaning on the Lords’ Day,
  • A Proclamation of 1676 which concerned the hearing of claim of persons transplanted to Connaught and Clare,
  • A Proclamation of 1668 offering a pardon and reward for taking dead or alive named rebels who fail to surrender by a designated date,
  • A Proclamation of 1819 directing that all shipping from Boston, New York and Baltimore should be subject to quarantine
  • An Order of 1801 providing for a general fast and thanksgiving in England and Ireland,
  • An Order of 1815 providing that a prayer of thanksgiving be offered for the victory at the Battle of Waterloo,
  • A Proclamation of 1820 declaring the death of George III.
  • Proclamation of 1665 appointing the first Wednesday of every month as a day of fasting & humiliation on account of the bubonic plague in London.

In addition, a number of instruments imposing restrictions on Catholics are listed for revocation, for example, a Proclamation of 1679 promising a reward for the apprehension of “any Popish Dignitary or Jesuit” and an Order of the same date “for the suppression of mass-houses”.

The purpose of the current review, which has been carried out by the Statute Law Revision Programme within the Department, is to enable the preparation of a Statute Law Revision Bill later this year to revoke those instruments that are obsolete and to list and retain those that remain relevant to our law.

A schedule is published on the Department’s website with a list of approximately 4,500 instruments from the pre-1820 period that Minister Howlin proposes to revoke and 38 instruments from that period which are scheduled to be retained, subject to any views expressed during the consultation process.

Any person with views on the revocation or retention of any such instruments dating from pre-1820, including any secondary instruments not included in the published lists, may contact the Department at the or the address listed on the website. Submissions are requested on or before 15 October 2014.




Notes for Editors

This current Bill follows on from the Statute Law Revision Acts of 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2012 which completed the review of all pre-independence primary legislation.

In total, 60,000 Acts were examined by that review and some 95% of the laws which had not already been repealed were removed from the statute book – a total of around 7,800 Acts expressly repealed and 40,000 Acts impliedly repealed.

It is intended that following this Bill, there will be further revision bills dealing with later regulations and legislation extending to and beyond independence.