In late 2004, the Taoiseach outlined an ambitious project to repeal all the legislation which remains on the statute book which was enacted prior to Irish independence in 1922. The Taoiseach's objective is to ensure that Ireland has a coherent statute book made up only of legislation enacted by the democratically elected Oireachtas.
As an element of that project, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of the Taoiseach are engaged in a wide-ranging analysis of all legislation of the various Irish, English, British and United Kingdom parliaments which exercised authority over Ireland prior to Ireland achieving independence.
The project entails an examination of all legislation enacted by these various parliaments. Statutes are divided into three broad categories:
Those statutes which have not been repealed can be further divided into two categories:
An important distinction is between "public general statutes" (which are statutes with general application) and "local, personal or private statutes" which have more limited application.
The first phase of this project requested consultation on public general statutes enacted prior to the coming into effect of the Act of Union in 1801. The second phase was to invite observations on public general statutes from the period between the coming into effect of the Act of Union on 1st January 1801 and the coming into effect of the Constitution of the Irish Free State on 6th December 1922.
The Office of the Attorney General and the Department of the Taoiseach are very grateful for the large volume of representations and requests for information which have been received from members of the public and interested bodies to date.
This process led to the publication and enactment of the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 ("the 2007 Act"). The Act provided a list of public general 1,364 statutes which were to remain in force after the enactment of the Bill. Apart from these 1,364 statutes, all other pre-independence public general statutes are now repealed. The effect of this was that more than 3,200 statutes were repealed by the Act, making it the largest statute law revision measure ever to apply to Ireland.
The statutes in the following lists were the statutes which remained in force (to at least some extent) on the date on which the 2007 Act came into force.
A significant number of the statutes which were preserved by the 2007 Act are scheduled to be repealed in new legislation in the near future. The most important such new law is the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2006 which is currently before the Oireachtas. This will repeal more than 130 Acts which pre-date Irish independence.
The 2007 Act specifically preserved the position of all local, personal and private statutes, as well as charters of a local, personal or private nature. A number of institutions - including charities and schools - were founded by way of such statutes. These were not be affected by the 2007 Act in any way.
This category comprises more than 33,000 statutes, which will be assessed in a later phase of the project. To facilitate that assessment, the Office of the Attorney General would welcome any observations on any of the local, personal and private statutes. In particular, if any individual or body is in possession of the text of any private statute, the Office of the Attorney General would be grateful to receive a copy of same. The original copies of many of these statutes are no longer available, so privately held duplicates will be an important source of information.
The statutes which have been identified for analysis are as follows:
Observations on this project may be submitted in any of the following ways.