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15.31 13 Jul 2015


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Single Irish women who’ve harboured a secret desire to open pubs serving artisan porridge and toasting the demise of Anne Boleyn can finally do so, safe in the knowledge that the law is finally on their side. These are just some of the near 6,000 obsolete laws that will now officially be wiped from the books by the passing of the Statute Law Revision Bill, 2015.

The legislation, designed to clear some of the most obscure and old-fashioned laws from the Irish legal system in an effort to ensure it is simple and clearly comprehensible, was carried through the Dáil and the Seanad late last week.

Spearheaded by Simon Harris, the Fine Gael Minister of State for Public Expenditure & Reform, the bill now goes to Áras an Uachtaráin, where President Higgins will sign it into law.

“As legislators and custodians of the statute book,” Deputy Harris said, “We should see our obligations as extending beyond the creation of new legislation to also include the review and removal of that which is no longer necessary.”

Among the laws ruled as no longer necessary are the following:

  • A Proclamation of 1693 prohibiting all trade with France.
  • A Proclamation of 1612 which included the prohibition of single women keeping taverns
  • A Proclamation of 1533 warning anybody who criticises the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn.
  • A Proclamation of 1678 providing that taverns, tippling houses and tobacco shops be removed from the vaults and cellars of Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin.
  • A Proclamation of 1712 for the apprehension of nuns settled in Dublin
  • A proclamation in 1817 that the consumption of potatoes and oatmeal should be kept for the “lower orders”.
  • A reward for the capture or death of the Hugh ‘Arch Traitor’ O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone.

This is the fifth such law revision bill to have been passed, which have seen more than 60,000 obsolete laws scrapped from the Irish legal system. On this evening’s The Right Hook, George will talk to Eunan O’Halpin,, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College, Dublin, about how these laws were once not considered obsolete and how they came to be.

Tune in live at 5.20pm or listen back to the show’s podcasts here


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