Today in Leinster House: November 16, 2011

It’s another high-profile day, with some interesting nuggets all over the houses and some tense sessions of ministerial questions.

Here’s how the day will map out:

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – As per usual, Room 3 is where the day begins, where reps from the ‘Fasttrack to Information Technology’ group will offer feedback on the ‘20,000 into employment by 2020’ programme.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The marquee event of the week will see the usual grenades tossed at Enda Kenny from the opposition benches. He is likely to face particularly heavy critique given the high-profile USI march taking place in Dublin this afternoon.

10:30am – Order of Business – Upstairs in the Seanad, meanwhile, members will begin their slightly more sedate daily discussion of whatever items they deem worthy.

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs get another chance to query the government’s legislative intentions in certain fields, no doubt with many political suggestions to irk the Ceann Comhairle.

11:21am – Statements re Report on Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016 – The main item of political business last week was the government’s report on which infrastructure projects it was intending to continue with in the next five years. Here, TDs get 85 minutes to make statements on their thoughts about the programme.

11:45am – Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage) A few months ago the European Court of Justice fined Ireland for its continued failure to deal with septic tanks and wastewater in accordance with EU directives. Here, Phil Hogan will introduce a new piece of legislation which brings Ireland into line with that requirement. The provisions will likely require one-off inspections of hundreds of thousands of private septic tanks around Ireland – likely at a fee.

12:46pm – Motion re Smithwick Tribunal – Judge Peter Smithwick’s tribunal into alleged Garda collusion in the murder of two RUC officers in 1989 is currently required to finish its business by the end of November. A month ago Smithwick wrote to the Dáil asking it to extend this deadline, and here TDs will spend 25 minutes debating whether to do so.

1:11pm – Irish Film Board (Amendment) Bill 2011 (second stage) – Jimmy Deenihan’s first Bill since becoming minister is a relatively procedural one. The Irish Film Board has a legal limit as to how much it can invest in the Irish film industry. That limit currently stands at €200m – this bill will raise that ceiling to €300m. (This doesn’t necessarily mean that the funding will be provided in the immediate future – merely that the Board can spend more money if it’s given the cash to do so.) There’ll be 19 minutes of discussion before lunch; if more time is needed, it’ll happen later in the afternoon.

2:15pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – Putting on its agriculture hat in Room 2, members discuss four separate EU legislative proposals – including one for a reform of its Common Fisheries Policy. Minister Simon Coveney will be on hand to contribute to discussions.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Education) – It’s been a high-profile few weeks for Ruairí Quinn, after a bruising appearance on The Week in Politics, Sunday newspaper reports that the Cabinet was set to scrap grants for Postgrad students, and renewed fervour about the prospect of the reintroduction of college fees. Today, while a USI-led demonstration crowds outside Government Buildings, Quinn will take questions on topics including third-level funding, transport for special needs pupils, reports on plans to cut teacher numbers, increasing class sizes, and the resources needed in reforming the Junior Cert.

3pm – Statements and Q&A on Housing Policy – In a comparatively low-profile session upstairs, meanwhile, Willie Penrose gives statements and listens to questions and answers on housing policy.

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

4:33pm – Irish Film Board (Amendment) Bill 2011 (second stage resumed); Statements re Report by the Interdepartmental Group on Mortgage Arrears (resumed) – The Dáil resumes discussion on raising the Irish Film Board’s funding limit, before setting aside a few more hours to allow TDs make further comments on the Keane Report on mortgage arrears.

5pm – Private Members’ Business [Fine Gael]: Motion on alcohol sales – As with last week, Private Members’ Time unusually falls to a government party. Here, the FG senators – led by Leader Maurice Cummins – table a motion which accepts the need to impose a minimum price on alcohol – and, in doing so, soften the ground for a minimum price on alcohol to be brought in next month’s Budget.

7pm – Matters on the adjournment – A relatively lengthy day in the Seanad draws to a close with the discussion of three matters deemed significant to certain members.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] (resumed) – The final item of the day is the resumption of debate on Maureen O’Sullivan’s motion on mental health policy, which calls for the banning of non-voluntary electro-shock therapy; the ring-fencing of mental health funding in the budget; and the recognition of mental health treatment for asylum seekers and prisoners. The government may have a few amendments to make. If they do, a vote will be called at 9pm; if not, the motion should be passed unopposed. Debate continues until 9pm.

All of the day’s business can be viewed on the streams: