Today in Leinster House: October 26, 2011

Continuing the theme from yesterday, the Dáil is largely eaten up with legislation meaning the more interesting items of the day could well be popping up elsewhere.

Here’s what the day has in store:

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – The weekly meeting sees the committee put on its Jobs hat, as innovation minister Sean Sherlock, and reps from Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, join discussions on helping to support indigenous enterprises. Room 3.

9:30am – Justice, Equality and Defence – In its first meeting of the day – there’s another one at 2:30pm – TDs and Senators head for Room 2 to discuss European proposals on allowing the cross-border pursuit of debts in both civil and commercial matters.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The Dáil’s marquee event sees Enda Kenny respond to barbs from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the rostered leader from the Technical Group.

10:30am – Order of Business – Upstairs in the Seanad, meanwhile, members will begin their daily chatter on whatever items they deem worthy of parliamentary attention.

10:51am – Order of Business – The Order of Business – which, as is custom, likely won’t begin until around 11 – will see opposition TDs lob in some cursory questions about how the Dáil week might be curtailed given the forthcoming bank holiday weekend.

11:21am – Statements re European Council Statements – At the time of writing it hadn’t yet been confirmed whether there was an emergency summit of European leaders set for Wednesday, to follow last Sunday’s meeting. Nonetheless, here TDs will be given 85 minutes to discuss the weekend’s goings-on and the developments since then.

12:46pm – Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011 (second stage); Health (Provision of General Practitioner Service) Bill 2011 (second stage) – The two bills which occupy the Dáil’s entire week, meanwhile, return to the main schedule. The former bill amplifies the powers already afforded to the financial authorities; the second relaxes restrictions on the number of GPs who can participate in the General Medical Scheme.

1:45pm – Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (sub-committee) – A sub-section of the Jobs, Social Protection and Education committee sits down to be briefed by the junior minister for innovation, Seán Sherlock, on the Patents (Amendment) Bill 2011, which signs Ireland up to the latest international treaties on patent recognition. Room 3.

2pm – Access to Central Treasury Funds (Commission for Energy Regulation) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (all stages) – A pretty last-gasp addition to the Seanad schedule, Senators will pass all sections (to be fair, there are only two) of a procedural bill which will add the Commission for Energy Regulation to a list of agencies which can seek low-interest loans from the National Treasury Management Agency. There are two hours assigned but they probably won’t be needed.

2pm – Justice, Defence and Equality – While the minister is busy in the Dáil (see 2:30pm), the members of the committee overseeing his two roles sits down in Room 2 to discuss the latest European legislative proposals.

2pm – Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform/span> – John Fitzgerald from the ESRI – who has authored a number of mixed-bag economic reports on Ireland, and whose father Garret happened to know a thing or two about running the country – briefs members of the committee on the debt dynamic facing the Irish state. It will either be lifting or depressing. All eyes on Room 4 to find out.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Defence) – As we mentioned yesterday, the shortened two-day Dáil week and the odd rota means that Alan Shatter takes both sessions of ministerial questions this week. Today, dealing with the Defence brief, he’ll be asked about the plans to close rural barracks; plans to cut defence staff in Budget 2012; the requirements of the Defence Forces to participate in common European defence projects; and the recruitment of new medical staff to the Defence Forces.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four issues, 12 minutes, and one minister for each – all in all, bringing the Dáil up to 4:33pm.

4pm – Private Members’ Business [University Senators] – Two of the three NUI senators, Rónán Mullen and Feargal Quinn, table a motion on Gendercide, which is the systematic killing of people from certain genders – almost always women – in order to achieve some sort of cultural norm. In some countries, female babies are killed because some local cultures think it better to concentrate resources on nurturing male offspring. The two senators’ motion calls on Ireland to bring diplomatic pressure on India and China for their tolerance of the practice, to raise the issue at UN and EU levels, and to ensure that countries receiving Irish foreign aid do not permit the practice.

4:33pm – as 11:21am – The Dáil gets back to its main legislative business as outlined earlier – likely by now having finished with the former Bill and gotten onto the latter.

6pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Three daily topical issues are discussed before the Seanad calls it a night (but, happily, doesn’t wrap up for the week).

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] – The United Left Alliance’s motion – backed by a majority of other members of the technical group – condemns some of the hospital cuts being implemented under the current government, and calls on healthcare to be left alone in the 2012 Budget. The government, inevitably, will have proposed an amendment which is much more favourable to it. Discussion continues until 9pm, when the vote on the amendment will be called; irrespective of whether that is passed or not, another vote on the motion is called shortly after 9:10pm.

9pm or later – Statements re Report by Interdepartmental Working Group on Mortgage Arrears (resumed) – With the Dáil taking tomorrow off, in order to allow TDs to get home and cast their votes in the various ballots, members squeeze in one last session of discussion on the Keane report from last week. Irrespective of its starting time, this will continue until 10pm, at which point the lights are turned out for the week.

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