Right to housing referendum to be discussed by Cabinet tomorrow

ireland
Right To Housing Referendum To Be Discussed By Cabinet Tomorrow Right To Housing Referendum To Be Discussed By Cabinet Tomorrow
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will also seek Government approval tomorrow to develop a new Bill to reform Ireland's defamation laws. © PA Wire/PA Images
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Digital Desk Staff

Cabinet will tomorrow discuss proposals around a referendum on the right to housing.

The Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is to brief his cabinet colleagues that the Housing Commission will establish a Referendum Subcommittee to consider the constitutional issues and propose the appropriate wording for an amendment to the Constitution.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the Housing Commission was previously established to fulfil a core commitment in the Programme for Government to examine issues such as tenure, standards, sustainability and quality-of-life issues in the provision of housing and will consider long-term housing policy post-2030.

The Housing Commission was also tasked with bringing forward proposals for a referendum on housing.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will also seek Government approval tomorrow to develop a new Bill to reform Ireland's defamation laws.

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Cabinet is set to approve the publication of the Report of the Review of the Defamation Act 2009 and the General Scheme of a Defamation (Amendment Bill) will be drafted on foot of the report.

Among the report's recommendations are: The abolition of juries in High Court defamation cases, to be heard by a judge alone, without a jury who will decide the nature and level of redress, including the amount of any damages, as well as whether defamation has occurred.

Legal costs

This is expected to very significantly reduce the incidence of "excessive or disproportionate" awards, according to the report, and significantly reduce delays and legal costs for all parties.

It would also introduce a new 'anti-SLAPP' ( Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) mechanism, to allow a person to apply to court for summary dismissal of defamation proceedings that he/she believes are a SLAPP.

This refers to the strategic and abusive use by a powerful entity of vexatious litigation, to weaken and deter public interest discussion and investigative journalism.

Another recommendation due to go before Cabinet is that a judge would be asked to consider any participation by a party in "alternative dispute relation processes", such as mediation when assessing the redress to be awarded in defamation proceedings.

It could also reduce the damages paid out if a judge finds that the defendant made significant efforts to resolve the dispute before it reached court.

While the report being brought forward by Ms McEntee will not place a cap on damages, it will recommend that defendants can make a lodgement of money in court as a reasonable compensation offer when parties cannot agree on a settlement.

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