Today in Leinster House: September 21, 2011

It’s a busy one – with plenty of committee meetings and some major bills going through both houses. Let’s get to it:

9:30am - Jobs, Social Protection and Education: Straight out of the blocks comes a big one. The committee has a discussion about what can be done to make people take jobs, when doing so would mean a pay cheque lower than their previous social welfare allowances. Some interesting comments expected from Room 3 (stream link below).

9:30am - Justice, Defence and Equality: This committee is meeting twice today, with each session hearing input from different people with thoughts on the proposed creation of a National Vetting Bureau. The first hour-long session includes thoughts from the ISPCC, Berbardos, Swim Ireland and the GAA. Room 2.

10:30am – Leaders Questions’ and Order of Business: The two houses of the Oireachtas have their morning’s free rein, with the main weekly session of leaders’ questions in the Dáil while the Seanad has a slightly less-structured free-for-all.

10:51am – Order of Business: The Dáil lays out its own plan of action for the day.

11:21am - European Financial Stability Facility (Amendment) Bill and Euro Area Loan Facility (Amendment) Bill 2011 (to conclude): The week’s main legislative activity continues, with the first of three Dáil sessions on the bill approving Ireland’s participation in the second Greek bailout, and contributing an extra €5bn to the general bailout pot. Barring a few interruptions mentioned below, this is what’ll take up the Dáil’s entire day.

11:30pm – Justice, Defence and Equality: The second session of input on the proposed National Vetting Bureau includes reps from the Teaching Council, Irish Universities Association, INTO, the Arts Council, Poetry Ireland, Create Ireland, the Rape Crisis Network and St Vincent de Paul. Again, Room 2.

11:45pm – Statements and Q&A on the Arts – Jimmy Deenihan’s first appearance of the new term sees him upstairs to supervise a 150-minute discussion about Ireland’s artistic scene.

2:00pm – Public Expenditure and Reform sub-committee – The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform didn’t exist when the last Budget was unveiled. To make sure there’s enough money for the department to… well, you know, run itself, the committee needs to get together and rubberstamp an amendment to the Budget. Brendan Howlin will be on hand to vouch for the fact that his Department is worth funding. Room 4.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Defence): Alan Shatter faces his second batch of ministerial questions in as many days. Among the topics: how the Defence Forces will cope with a spate of retirements, the number of fishing seizures carried out by the Defence Forces, and whether he’ll be visiting Irish soldiers in Lebanon soon (and take the chance to support the Palestinian people while he does it).

3:00pm – Private Members’ Business: Prof John Crown has tabled a private members’ bill for the Seanad; it’s a relatively straightforward bill which would require any member of the Oireachtas to inform the Minister for Justice about any lobbying of the judiciary. It’s based as a response to the David Norris/Ezra Nawi furore.

3:45pm – Topical Issues: Four burning issues of the day are discussed for a raucous 12 minutes apiece.

4:00pm – Investigations, Oversight and Petitions: Continuing its series of meetings figuring out exactly how public petitions should be sought, the committee hears input from David Lowe, who leads the secretariat at the European Parliament’s similar committee. Room 3.

4:33pm – as 11.21am: More discussion on the Bailout Bill.

5:00pm – Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Bill 2011 (all stages) – The Seanad gets a mere two hours to rubberstamp the government’s bill calling a referendum on judges’ pay. There’s no need for a motion for early signature, as it’s passed in enough time for President McAleese to sign it next Monday and call a referendum for October 27.

5:00pm – Procedures and Privileges (Dáil Éireann): This meeting is private, so there’s no point in reporting it – other than to say that it’s at this meeting where the Ceann Comhairle and other TDs will hammer out how the Topical Issues thing is meant to work.

7:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment: The Seanad wraps up its day with some matters of subjective importance.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business (SF): Debate continues on Sinn Féin’s motion opposing the sale of the ESB – or, indeed, any other state asset. A vote will be called on the government’s amendment at 9pm, with a vote on the amended motion at 9:15pm or so.

9:15pm (approx) – as 11.21am: The Dáil’s final discussions on the Bailout Bill. A vote will be called at 10pm, after which everyone goes home.

As always, all of the day’s business can be viewed on the streams: