This week in Leinster House: May 24-26, 2011

It’s finally happening: this week we’re getting our second House of the Oireachtas, when the 24th Seanad (complete with the 11 Taoiseach’s nominees) meets for the first time.

That could well mean we have committees convening and meeting soon.


Questions to the Taoiseach at 2:30pm is largely based on the Taoiseach’s meetings with Queen Elizabeth and David Cameron, and his semi-recent trip to New York, before Questions to the Minister for Defence at 3:15pm – a session deferred from last Thursday’s sittings, which were adjourned to mark the death of Dr Garret FitzGerald. Minister Alan Shatter, having largely exhausted his stash of questions in earlier sessions last week, might not have much to answer.

Leaders’ Questions at 4:15pm will no doubt make extensive reference to the visits of the Queen, Cameron, Obama and everyone else, with the Order of Business thereafter showcasing a little more theatre in that regard.

The rest of Tuesday’s business is then occupied with the Finance (No.2) Bill 2011, which puts into effect some of the measures from the new Jobs Initiative like the cut to VAT in tourism industries, while at 7pm it’s time for Fianna Fáil’s private members time – and a motion on agriculture and the implementation of Food Harvest 2020. (If you know what that is, consider the Comments field below your plaything).


The main – and more theatrical – weekly stint of Leaders’ Questions kicks off business at 10:30am (the agenda of which will be dictated by whatever’s in that morning’s papers), followed by the Order of Business, more Questions to the Taoiseach and then more discussion on the Finance (No.2) Bill.

Discussion on that will take us up to 7pm, unless there’s time for the Patents (Amendment) Bill 2011, a procedural piece of legislation allowing Ireland to ratify a European agreement streamlining the process of getting a single patent that applies to all of Europe.

The only thing interrupting that is Simon Coveney’s 75 minutes of Questions to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which is dominated by questions to individual cases and with no overarching theme. So while that’s going on, therefore, the aforementioned First meeting of the 24th Seanad will undoubtedly make for more interesting viewing.

The 7pm barrier in the Dáil means the resumption of business on the Fianna Fáil private members’ bill which will bring us up to 8:30pm and a vote, followed then by matters on the adjournment.


Eamon Gilmore stands in to take Order of Business at 10:30pm, before a day-long debate on the status of the Irish Language, being overseen (in title, at least) by tourism minister Leo Varadkar – though Dinny McGinley, as Gaeltacht minister, is more likely to take command of it.

Questions to the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs at 3:30pm will be a strange beast (that Minister’s Department last week became the Department for Children, and the other three briefs have been split between other ministerial briefs) and there’s only one question currently on the list, asking precisely who’s in charge of rural development. Thereafter, adjournment matters at 4:45pm wrap up the week.

As always, all of the week’s business can be viewed on our live Dáil stream – or, for the Seanad meeting on Wednesday, at our Seanad stream.


Agriculture, Fisheries and Food