Health and Safety (Funfair) (Amendment) Bill 2017: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to provide for improved health and safety standards in funfairs and for related matters.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing this opportunity to introduce the Health and Safety (Funfair) (Amendment) Bill. Many people are aware that at this time of the year, particularly as we head into the holiday season and the season of long evenings, people will attend the theme parks and funfairs that operate throughout the country during the holiday period. A very informative and detailed RTE "Prime Time" programme screened recently brought this issue to my attention. The degree of regulation and oversight for members of the public in our theme parks and funfairs is pretty much negligible. The only oversight we have at present of parks and funfairs is that when they are being established they must apply for a safety certificate from the local authority.

The problem has to do with public safety. We have an issue with public safety, as was detailed in at least one case outlined in the RTE programme. If a member of the public is hurt, or has a concern about his or her own safety or the safety of any member of the public, in a theme park or funfair there is nowhere to go to ask for an issue to be investigated. The Bill sets out to amend the enabling legislation of the Health and Safety Authority to give it an oversight role in receiving and investigating complaints by users of funfairs and theme parks. It will be a new departure for the Health and Safety Authority. It will broaden its remit and give it the authority to receive such complaints and investigate them. With regard to it being a public safety initiative, it is something which will go a long way towards addressing some of the issues and concerns which have been brought to us.

We met the showmen's guild, which is the umbrella group and representative association of the operators of funfairs and theme parks, and we received very constructive input from it. My colleague, Deputy Mary Butler, was instrumental in arranging the briefing session we had with it. The guild was quite happy with what we have set out in the legislation and with what we are trying to achieve.

The legislation is to broaden the remit of the Health and Safety Authority on a public safety initiative and I am offering it to the House on this basis.

Is the Bill opposed?

The Bill is not opposed. I commend Deputy Niall Collins on introducing it. As he is aware, the programme was about a young girl in my constituency who suffered a very serious injury. Her mother has been at pains for a number of months to try to find an accountable body. I am very grateful to the Deputy for introducing the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.