Today in Leinster House: December 8, 2011

While the Dáil’s day is broken up into simple chunks, three committee meetings will see three ministerial visits – while the Seanad keeps the legislative fires burning.

Here’s Thursday’s schedule.

10:00am – Public Accounts Committee – Thursday’s sittings begin with the usual Room 1 convening of the Public Accounts Committee, who will – unusually – have a minister in their midst. Brendan Howlin sits in to guide members through the plans for Public Service Reform, before his secretary-general Robert Watt guides members through public pay and pensions expenditure.

10:00am – Health & Children – In Room 2, James Reilly and HSE chief executive Cathal Magee resume last week’s meeting where they brief members on the issues currently facing Ireland’s health services.

10:00am – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – In Room 4, meanwhile, Leo Varadkar makes his first visit to the transport committee to brief them on the agenda for next week’s meeting of EU transport ministers.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – Eamon Gilmore takes his usual weekly batch of leaders’ questions, no doubt with yet more needle from the opposition side about the Budget’s nitty gritty.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad’s business, though hefty, gets back to beginning with its usual 75-minute free-for-all.

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs rubber-stamp the day’s proceedings – which, given the blocky nature of the schedule, should be fine; of course, from recent experience, we know this isn’t usually the case.

11:11am – Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] – The tri-weekly batch of opposition time this week falls to the independent technical group. Their motion is put down by Shane Ross, and reads as follows:

That Dáil Éireann demands that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., resist all efforts to force Ireland into a fiscal union at the European Summit in Brussels, and that he refuse to sign up to any treaty changes that hand over our economic sovereignty to a European body.


11:45am – Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 (all stages) – Upstairs, meanwhile, members will spend just under four hours ratifying the Health Insurance Bill, which has already made it through the Dáil. The bill imposes a ‘cost subsidy’ on health insurance policies and allows tax rebates for older customers.

12:00pm – Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement – Today’s topic is how sport can help to overcome sectarian and racial divides, with an all-star cast of people in attendance to brief members. Among them are Libyan international – and Derry City star – Eamon Zayed, former Ireland rugby international Trevor Ringland MBE, Ryan Feeney from the GAA’s Ulster Council, Robin Wilson of Democratic Dialogue and Garrett Mullan from the anti-racist Show Racism the Red Card group. Room 4.

2:41pm – Social Welfare Bill 2011 (second stage) – The main item of the Dáil’s day sees Joan Burton step up with legislation putting the Budget’s social welfare provisions into effect. Though it may be removed by an amendment on Friday, it currently contains (in Section 8) the plans to cut domiciliary care allowance for people aged 16 and over.

3:30pm – Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Bill 2010 (second stage) – Another piece that cleared the Dáil last week, Alan Shatter pops upstairs to guide senators through legislation which clarifies the precise extent to which a resident can defend their home from an intruder without themselves becoming a criminal.

5:30pm – Local Government (Household Charge) Bill 2011 (to conclude) – Once that is done, Senators then move to the controversial Budget legislation which puts a €100 ‘property-and-water’ charge on every household in the State.

7:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – The Seanad wraps up its busy legislative day with matters on the adjournment…

8:42pm – Topical Issues – …while after spending six hours debating the Budget’s social welfare provisions, four TDs discuss topica issues of their own before the day is brought to a close.

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