Missed Opportunity For Free Public Transport

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Bríd Smith TD says legal opinion makes clear Government have no justification in placing Money Message on bill to ban oil and gas exploration

People Before Profit TDs are seeking to overturn a Government move that has blocked progress of their Climate Emergency Measures Bill.

The Bill seeks to ban future exploration of oil and gas.

The Government stopped the Select Committee stage of the Bill by placing a “Money Message” on the Bill. Minister Canney claimed that the bill would force the Government to repay application and rental fees paid by companies engaged in exploration. He also claimed the state could be sued for loss of earnings and would need to take legal advice. Both would constitute an appropriation of public monies and therefore make a money message necessary for the bill to progress. The Government had previously made clear they would not give the bill such a message.

The Bill has twice won Dáil votes by large majorities.

Bríd Smith TD said that they disputed the Government case and sought legal opinion on the case. Today she said the opinion was unambiguous. There is no threat of a legal case by operators and fees do not have to be repaid.

She said: “The opinion is clear, the current terms of the licencing regime do not allow for any automatic right for a licence to progress. The Minister has misled the Ceann and I’m calling on them to stop the attempt to block the bills progress.”

Richard Boyd Barrett TD, who represents People Before Profit on the Dáil Business Committee, said that he would be sharing the opinion with other TDs and the Ceann Comhairle, but that it is now “beyond doubt that the Minister and Department have at best mistaken the current licence regime and at worst deliberately misled the Ceann Comhairle and the Business Committee on the grounds for seeking a moiety message. We will be asking other parties for their support in getting this message removed and having it at Select Committee stage as soon as possible.”