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14th Apr 2018

Bill to allow Irish workers time off in extreme weather to go before Dáil next week

Dave Hanratty

The bill would also impose penalties on those “who would put lives in danger through reckless behaviour when an extreme weather warning has been called.”

Sinn Féin will step up efforts to introduce a bill that will allow employees time off during periods of severe weather at a meeting in the Dáil next week.

The Extreme Weather (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018 will be discussed on Thursday 19 April during Private Members Time.

Drafted by Sinn Féin TDs Gerry Adams, Imelda Munster and David Cullinane, the proposed bill will provide for the safety of employees during certain severe weather warnings.

According to an official party press release, the bill will enhance public safety and ensure the safety of rescue service personnel during such weather warnings.

The bill would also move to impose penalties on those “who would put lives in danger through reckless behaviour when an extreme weather warning has been called,” seeking to give enhanced powers to An Garda Síochána in such scenarios.

If passed, the bill will ensure that employees are not penalised when staying away from their place of work in the event of a Status Red severe weather warning.

“Three people tragically lost their lives as a direct result of Storm Ophelia,” noted Sinn Féin TD for Louth Imelda Munster when addressing the bill on Saturday.

“As legislators we must now take measures to guide employers, protect workers and strengthen the powers of emergency services in the case of future warnings.

“I believe that this legislation will help prevent tragedies during future extreme weather events, and so I ask that this legislation be supported,” Munster concluded.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for workers rights David Cullinane, meanwhile, challenged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ahead of the bill’s hearing.

“It is utterly incredible that the Taoiseach believes the decision to open or close a business during a national weather emergency is a personal matter,” said Cullinane.

“We are talking about people’s lives here. Despite this, Leo Varadkar refuses to provide government leadership and direction. He has essentially outsourced the government’s role to the private sector.

“This is the way he thinks. This is the way he sees the world. Sinn Féin has stepped up to the mark and produced a bill that would do exactly that,” added Cullinane, before calling on all parties to support the new proposed legislation.