Today in Leinster House: October 25, 2011

[updated, 10.59am]

This week is a pretty demure one in the Oireachtas – what with those little matters of the Presidential election, a Dáil by-election and two referenda up for decision on Tuesday – so the business is relatively straightforward in all aspects.

Here’s what’s kicking off that downtempo week.

11:30am - Health and Children - The week begins in Committee Room 1, where representatives from the Cork-based Tabor Lodge and Fellowship House brief members on the youth perspective of how alcohol is advertised in Ireland.

1:30pm - Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture - In its usual haunt of Room 3, members will scrutinise a new batch of EU legislative proposals, before the Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – that’s Tom Moran to his friends – briefs members on priority issues for his department.

2pm - Questions (Minister for Justice and Equality) - This week is only a two-day week in the Dáil, which gives Alan Shatter the odd distinction of being the only minister to take parliamentary questions this week – he has his stint as Minister for Defence tomorrow. Today, his questions relate to any overrun in spending because of the Royal visit, the timing of the decisions on closing Garda stations, the recommendations on bankruptcy in the Keane report, and Garda retirements.

2pm - Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht - Over in Room 4, continuing its theme from last week, members hear from the Department of the Environment’s Mark Griffin, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dara Lynott, and Dr Paul Johnston from TCD’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environment Engineering. All three will discuss the status of Ireland’s water supply.

2:30pm – Order of Business – With the Dáil taking a low-profile week, the Seanad could take its chance to grab some of the public attention. This first 75-minute window of parliamentary time will give us an indication of how high-octane (or otherwise) the week might be.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – The main Dáil event of the day sees Enda Kenny bat away some barbs from the three opposition head honchoes.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – Having gotten over the unscripted questions, Enda Kenny takes pre-submitted questions on the pay of his special advisors, dialogue with trade unions, and if he will consider some kind of national award on a similar scale to an OBE or a Congressional Gold Medal.

3:45pm - Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011 (second stage) - It seems like this bill, which is to “regulate the operation of greyhound breeding establishments and establish a register of greyhound breeding establishments”, has been kicking around forever – in fact, it was initiated in the Dáil in late May – but it’s finally gotten upstairs for members to have their say.

4pm - Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht - Members hit Room 2 for what will likely be a quick meeting on a motion which would approve the terms of the United Nations Convention against corruption.

4:36pm – Order of Business – The Dáil arranges its plan of action for the week, in which eyebrows are unlikely to be raised given the attention people will want to pay to stuff happening elsewhere.

5pm - Report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Mortgage Arrears – Suggestions from Seanad Éireann - Having kicked around the Dáil for a few weeks, Senators get their first chance to have their say on the Keane Report, which advocated against a blanket debt forgiveness programme.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Four prominent topics are discussed for 12 minutes apiece in the Dáil.

5:54pm - Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011 (second stage); Health (Provision of General Practitioner Service) Bill 2011 (second stage) - These two bills will be occupying every spare moment the Dáil has this week. The former – a miscellaneous bill helping the authorities wield the powers they already have, while protecting financial whistleblowers – will probably occupy all of the spare time this evening. The latter bill is a requirement under the EU-IMF programme, relaxing restrictions on GPs who want to win contracts to treat public patients under the General Medical Services scheme.

6:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment - Three Senators get a chance to raise issues of importance to them before the lights are turned out for the night.

7:30pm - Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] – It’s the Technical Group which gets the baton for this week’s private time; they are led by the United Left Alliance TDs in tabling a motion which systematically lists some of the hospital cuts being implemented under the current government, and calling on healthcare to be left alone in the 2012 Budget. Discussion continues until 9pm, when the day wraps up.

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