Ireland

President Higgins signs Mother and Baby Homes Bill into law

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has signed the Mother and Baby Homes Bill into law after he “considered all the options available to him”.

The controversial bill, passed last week in the Dáil the Seanad, allows for the transfer of a database of 60,000 records created by Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

Many survivors and legal experts have expressed anger at the Bill and there had been calls for the President to refuse to sign the bill into law.

Under the Constitution, the President may, after consultation with the Council of State, refer any bill to the Supreme Court if it raises a constitutional issue under Article 26.1.1 of the Constitution.

In a statement last night, President Higgins said he had given careful consideration to all constitutional and other aspects of the legislation and “considered all the options available to him”. He said he had listened carefully to the debate and issues raised as to the rights of access to information submitted to a Commission.

“While noting that important concerns were raised in the discussion on this bill which are serious and must be addressed, the bill itself did not directly raise a constitutional issue suitable for an Art 26.1.1 referral,” the statement said. The President confirmed he had signed the bill into law.

The statement also noted that when considering any piece of legislation, the President must also be cognisant of the fact that no court can question the validity of any legislation following a referral by the President for the Supreme Court.

“The President’s decision to sign this legislation leaves it open to any citizen to challenge the provisions of the Bill in the future.”

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