Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announces the repeal of almost 300 obsolete Acts enacted from 1922 to 1950

Issued 19 January 2016

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Brendan Howlin T.D., today (19 January 2016) approved the publication of the Statute Law Revision Bill 2016. This Bill is the culmination of the first comprehensive review of Acts enacted by the Oireachtas and will repeal almost 300 Public General Acts enacted between 1922 and 1950 which are now spent or obsolete.

The Minister said:

Statute law revision is the process by which spent or obsolete legislation is removed from the statute book. The legislation of this period shows a nation in its infancy developing its own legislative framework. It is appropriate that we are removing some of the earliest legislation of the Oireachtas that has long since served its purpose, and in doing so we pave the way for future legislative growth”. 

The obsolete Acts listed for repeal include:

  • The Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Act 1923, enacted during the Irish Civil War, granted far reaching powers and additional offences and penalties aimed at ensuring public safety. It included the imposition of a death penalty or penal servitude for anyone found guilty of an armed revolt against the Government of Saorstát Eireann or certain associated offences.
  • The Emergency Powers Act 1939, which granted wide ranging powers at the outbreak of World War II including the power to suspend the operation of any law.
  •  Griffith Settlement Act 1923, which granted pensions to members of Arthur Griffith's immediate family following his death. 
  •  A number of Acts which amended the 1922 Constitution.
  • The Telephone Capital Acts 1924 to 1938 which authorised the expenditure of funds to develop the telephonic system of Saorstát Éireann. 

Note to the Editor:

This Bill follows on from the Statute Law Revision Acts of 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2015 which completed the review of all pre-independence primary legislation and secondary legislation up to and including 1820.

In total 1,124 Acts were examined during the preparation of this Bill and of the 707 identified as remaining in force in whole or in part, 294 were identified as suitable for repeal and have been listed for repeal in this Bill. 

Further examples of Acts for repeal:

  •  Constitution (Removal of Oath) Act 1933 which repealed Article 22 of the Free State Constitution which required members of the Oireachtas to take an oath declaring their faithfulness to His Majesty King George V and his heirs and successors. 
  •  Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act 1937 which carries into execution the international obligations of Saorstát Éireann in relation to the civil war waged in Spain, and to prohibit citizens of Saorstát Éireann from participating in that war.
  • ·Public Servants (Continuity of Service) Act 1938 which provided for the continuity, notwithstanding the coming into operation of the Constitution, of the service of public servants and the conditions of their employment.