This week in Leinster House: July 5-8, 2011

It’s a four-day week in Leinster House this week – the Seanad is being made to convene on Friday so that it can give its imprimatur to some emergency legislation.

The committees make this week difficult to give a proper chart of, but here’s my attempt anyway.


The Dáil kicks off at 2:30pm with Questions to the Taoiseach but before that the week starts at 2pm, when a communications sub-committee meets to give its consideration to the Postal Services Bill – the one with the postcodes.

While the Taoiseach’s Questions are going on (most of the questions are to do with a Programme for Government update), there are a few other committee meetings going on: in room 2, the environment committee discusses the transfer of functions from the Dundalk Port Company; in room 3, an education sub-committee will discuss increasing some budget allocations for education; and in room 4, the foreign affairs committee discuss Ireland’s foreign aid budget.

The Seanad also kicks off at 2:30pm with the Order of Business, before it gets to committee stage on the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011, a general housekeeping piece of legislation which brings in Good Samaritan laws and reforms bankruptcy law. That kicks off at 3:45pm.

Back downstairs, the Dáil has Questions to the Minister for Finance at 3:15pm where Michael Noonan will be pressed on exactly which parts of the bailout deal we’re looking to renegotiate. Leaders’ Questions kicks off at 4:15pm, with the Order of Business at 4:36pm and then second stage of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2011. That instructs the constituency commission to reduce the number of seats in the Dáil at the next election, and also imposes new spending limits on presidential elections.

The Seanad kicks off a two-hour session of Statements on Food Safety on 5:45pm, after which it gets to its adjournment matters, while in the Dáil 7pm brings Sinn Féin’s private members time and a motion on safeguarding hospital services. In an usually extended week, the Dáil sits late – so at 8:30pm discussion will resume on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill and adjournment matters are thereafter sent back to 10pm.


The day begins at 9:30am, but the meeting of the Jobs and Social Protection committee is private, so realistically the day begins at 10:30am when the Dáil does Leaders’ Questions and the Seanad talks Order of Business. The Dáil gets its own Order of Business at 10:51am and further Questions to the Taoiseach (meetings of the the British-Irish and European Councils) at 11:21am. At 11am, meanwhile, the communications subcommittee resumes its talk of postcodes and the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht sub-committee gets down to revising its own bit of the budget.

The Seanad moves on at 11:45am with all stages of the Foreshore (Amendment) Bill 2011 – a housekeeping bill being pushed by the Leader, Maurice Cummins, to ease the workload downstairs. It’s a bill to transfer some marine responsibilities from the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

At noon the Dáil gets back to more talk on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2011, while over in room 4 Alan Shatter will guide the justice committee through the Criminal Justice Bill. At 2pm the Investigations and Oversight Committee will pick its chair, while the finance committee meets in private session to get its teeth into its brief, and at 3:30pm the last of seven committee meetings will see the Committee on Health and Children finds its way through some matters on the latter subject. This is noteworthy, as it’s the first time that Children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald will face any kind of quizzing on her policy brief – her department was only founded last month and she hasn’t gotten to any kind of Leader

While all of that is going on, at 2:30pm it’s Questions to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. For Leo Varadkar this week: water-sharing between Louth and Down, appeals on penalty points, and the taxi review commission. In the Seanad at 3pm it’s the second stage of the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2011, more upper-house housekeeping related to military tribunals – which ties in nicely with Dáil business at 3:45pm, when it’s the second stage of the Foreshore (Amendment) Bill the Seanad will have passed the day before.

At 5pm it’s the Seanad’s private members’ business, which this week falls to Fianna Fáil and a Registration of Wills Bill 2011, a largely housekeeping piece from Terry Leyden which will inevitably be voted down regardless. Adjournment matters in the Seanad at 7pm coincide with the Dáil’s own PMB, and the conclusion of the Sinn Féin motion, before 8:30pm sees the Dáil put the final stages to the Finance (No. 3) Bill 2011 giving tax equality to same-sex couples. Adjournment matters wrap up the day at 10pm.


The Public Accounts Committee starts the day at 10am with an appearance from HSE chief executive Cathal Magee, who will discuss the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report into spending in emergency departments. While that’s going on, the Order of Business in both the Dáil and Seanad at 10:30am will be far less interesting.

This is where some emergency legislation starts showing up. The Dáil will spend its day getting through all stages of the Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2011 – a bill so last-minute in nature that it hasn’t even been published yet, as of Monday evening. (Calls to the Department of Health for your author’s day job had not yet been responded to either.)

Elsewhere, a sub-committee on Environment, Community and Local Government will consider budget revisions at 11am, while at noon a committee on European Union Affairs will talk about Ireland’s policy priorities in Europe. At the same time, the Dáil’s committee on Procedure and Privileges meets in private.

All of this is ongoing while the Seanad, beginning at 11:45am, gets through the Public Health (Tobacco Amendment) Bill 2011 – a housekeeping piece bringing Ireland into compliance with a few EU directives. At 2:45pm the Seanad gets to the remaining stages of the aforementioned Defence (Amendment) Bill 2011, while downstairs the Dáil hears Questions to the Minister for Education at 3:30pm. Among those for Ruairí Quinn this week are school transport links, Springboard schemes, and payments to religious orders.

At 4:45pm the Dáil gets to its adjournment matters, while the Seanad finishes up on the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 before discussing its own adjournment matters at 6:15pm.


A straight-forward day – the Seanad meets in isolation at 10:30am to get through all stages of the mysterious Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2011. That’ll take five hours apparently, before Matters on the Adjournment at 3:30pm will give a final platform to anything not already discussed in the previous six carte blanche sessions of the week.

As always, all of the week’s business can be viewed on our live Dáil and live Seanad streams. Links to the live streams of each committee meeting can be found by clicking into the details of that meeting on our interactive Committees calendar.