Emergency Powers Act 1939

Emergency Powers Act 1939

The Emergency Powers Act 1939 is an act of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) enacted on 3 September 1939 after an official state of emergency had been declared on 2 September 1939. [cite journal | date = 1939-09-02 | title = Existence of National Emergency | journal = Dáil debates | volume = 77 | pages = pp. 19–20 | publisher = Government of Ireland | url = http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0077/D.0077.193909020007.html | accessdate = 2008-07-19 ] The act allowed the government to:

:"make provisions for securing the public safety and the preservation of the state in time of war and, in particular, to make provision for the maintenance of public order and for the provision and control of supplies and services essential to the life of the community, and to provide for divers and other matters (including the charging of fees on certain licences and other documents) connected with the matters aforesaid."

The act gave the government the ability to maintain Irish neutrality during the "The Emergency" by providing sweeping new powers to the government for the duration of the emergency, such as internment, censorship of the media and mail by postal censorship, and the government control of the economy.

During the Dáil debate on the act, Fine Gael TD, John A. Costello was highly critical of the delegation of powers, stating that,

Preparation for the emergency were well in hand a year before it was needed, because by way of the 1938 Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement, access had been acquired to the British government's second world war legal emergency preparations. The Sudetenland crisis prompted the adapting of the British "war book" for Ireland's purposes with draft legislation already finished by September 18 1938.cite book | last = Ó Longaigh | first = Seosamh | coauthors = edited by; Keogh, Dermot & O'Driscoll, Mervyn | title = Preparing Law for an Emergency (Ireland in World War II: Diplomacy and Survival) | publisher = Mercier Press | date = 2004 | location = Cork | pages = p. 38 | isbn = 1-85635-445-8]

The "Emergency Powers Orders", EPOs, that were made under the Act were so draconian that they effectively abolished democracy for the period, and most aspects of the life of the country were controlled by the the dictatorial powers the government acquired. [cite book | last = Gray | first = Tony | title = The Lost Years: The Emergency in Ireland 1939–45 | publisher = Little Brown & Co. | date = 1997 | location = London | pages = p. 5 | url = | isbn = 0-7515-2333-X ] The Garda Síochána got extended power of search and arrest. Compulsory cultivation of land and compulsory queuing for buses, were a few topics for which orders were made. A total of 7,864 orders were made. One aspect of the EPOs was that once they were laid before the Oireachtas, TDs could only annul an EPO, but could not scrutinise, or amend them like they could with legislation.

Media censorship of radio broadcasts was effected by having news bulletins read to the head of the Government Information Bureau for approval before being broadcast by Radio Éireann and weather forecasts were forbidden which inconvenienced both farmers and fishermen. [cite web | title = Radio Éireann during the Emergency : 1939-45 | work = History of RTÉ | publisher = RTÉ | url = http://www.rte.ie/laweb/brc/brc_1940s.html | accessdate = 2008-07-19 ] The "Emergency Powers Act" finally lapsed on 2 September 1946. [cite web | date = 1945-07-29 | title = Emergency Powers (Continuance and Amendment) Act, 1945 | pages = §4(1) | publisher = Government of Ireland | url = http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1945/en/act/pub/0026/print.html | accessdate = 2008-07-19 | quote = The Principal Act shall, unless previously terminated under subsection (2) of this section, continue in force until the 2nd day of September, 1946, and shall then expire unless the Oireachtas otherwise determines. ] However the state of emergency itself was not rescinded until 1 September 1976. [cite journal | date = 1976-09-01 | title = National Emergency: Motion (Resumed) | journal = Dáil debates | volume = 292 | pages = pp. 119–256 | publisher = Government of Ireland | url = http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0292/D.0292.197609010003.html | accessdate = 2008-07-19 ]

ee also

* Irish neutrality during World War II
* List of Acts of the Oireachtas


External links

* [http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1939/en/act/pub/0028/print.html Emergency Powers Act 1939] Irish Statute Book

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