Today in Leinster House: November 23, 2011

Legislative business in the Houses is fairly routine but there are certainly some other events that could be worth keeping an eye on.

Here’s what’s in store:

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – As per usual, Room 3 is where the day begins, where members will hear Ciaran Cannon give a briefing on the forthcoming meeting of European education ministers, and from Richard Bruton on a similar meeting of ministers responsible for Competitiveness. Members will also discuss new plans for European legislation.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The main event of the day n in the Dáil will see Enda Kenny perform his usual act of deflecting grenades being lobbed from three opponents on the other side of the chamber.

10:30am – Order of Business – Upstairs in the Seanad, meanwhile, members will begin their slightly more sedate 75 minutes of daily discussion on whatever items they deem worthy.

10:30am – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – In Room 4, members will hold an audience with Prof William Reville, the outgoing Chairman – and apparently also the Chairman-Designate – of the National Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. That’s the body in charge of examining any atmospheric radiation, among other things.

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs agree the agenda for the day – in what will, once again, be a session peppered with politically-loaded suggestions.

11:21am – Statements re Fisheries Sustainable Impact Assessment – While reform of Europe’s agriculture policy is a ‘big thing’ at the moment, there’s also been a series of reports about the impact of bringing in a sustainable fisheries policy – which would include ending the practice of having to abandon fish which exceed quotas. Here, TDs will get 80 minutes to debate the potential impact.

12pm – Jobs, Education and Innovation (sub-committee) – A subcommittee of the group which met at 9:30pm, TDs get together to approve an amendment to last year’s Budget offering a slightly larger funding for the Jobs, Education and Innovation area.

12pm – Nurses and Midwives Bill 2010 (to conclude) – A bill which has been kicking around for some time, it’s the last stand for the Nurses and Midwives Bill – which formally merges the two professional bodies which govern each of the respective vocations, and creates a new Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

12:41pm – Road Transport Bill 2011 (all stages) – The Dáil’s day is eaten up with one single piece of legislation – a catch-all housekeeping bill being brought forward by Leo Varadkar. Basically, the new law would replace a series of secondary regulations, which would otherwise be affected by new EU regulations coming into force next month. It also allows for the online publication of a national register of licensed road transport operators, and makes a few other minor housekeeping amendments. It should be put through the Dáil in all stages today.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Social Protection) – In comparison to yesterday’s low-stakes session of Q&A with Richard Bruton, Joan Burton is most certainly in the firing line, after weekend confirmation that child benefit was likely to be cut by €10 per child per week. The prepared missives will be on the Department’s bill for covering sick leave, the monitoring of JobBridge jobs, problems encountered by returning emigrants in seeking welfare,

2:30pm – Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (committee stage) – You may recall that last week, the Seanad gave initial clearance to a bill which brought Ireland into line with European directives about septic tank management. This was following an ECJ ruling a few months ago which fined Ireland for its continued failure to follow the directive. Here, the Seanad will look at a few amendments to the new bill, though none of them are likely to be controversial, carers allowances, and humanitarian assistance packages for the victims of the recent floods.

3:15pm – Foreign Affairs and Trade – In Room 1, members chat about Ireland’s priorities for a forthcoming international conference on aid (it’s in South Korea – someone, probably Jan O’Sullivan, is getting a nice gig) and the ongoing concerns about the welfare of Irish-trained doctors who are being caught up in the political unrest in Bhutan.

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

4:33pm - as 11:21am – …when debate returns to the Road Transport Bill, which should pass without much hassle.

5pm – Private Members’ Business [independent senators] – Motion re Physical Education – Former Olympian Eamonn Coghlan leads independent senators in proposing a motion calling for a cross-Departmental programme of Physical Education in schools “and regular corresponding health checks to lessen the burden on our health service in the future and improve quality of life”. The government has an amendment on the table.

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

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – At 7:30pm the debate concludes with the Fianna Fáil private motion, which seeks a freeze on local authority commercial rates for this year, and asks the Government to commit to a full review of them next year. If there are government amendments (and there almost certainly will be) a vote will be called at 9pm.

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