Today in Leinster House: December 13, 2011

The week after the Budget – and the Dáil’s week is dominated by a single piece of legislation, as committees and the Seanad continue to go about some significant business.

So – let’s get to it.

12:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad gets the show on the road with its now customary early sitting, as Senators ease themselves into the week with a 75-minute open forum on whatever’s grinding their gears.

1:30pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – In Room 3, members get to discussing the latest EU legislative proposals – regulating banana trading between the EU and the Americas – before hearing from two fishermen’s associations on the forthcoming review of the European Common Fisheries Policy.

1:45pm – Social Welfare Bill (second stage) – The first legislative business of the week sees Senators have a look at the Social Welfare Bill, which gives lefal effect to the Budget’s social welfare provisions. Having already taken a casualty in the Dáil, in the form of Labour’s Patrick Nulty, it may be worth looking at whether any more Labourites dissent and lose the party whip.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Defence) – The Dáil week gets underway with the first batch of oral ministerial questions for 11 days. Alan Shatter takes questions on the savings incurred by barrack closures, the motive for reducing the number of Army brigades (from three to two), money we’re owed by the UN for peacekeeping, and whether the Army could be deployed to fill in for firefighters in Roscommon. 

2:15pm – Environment, Community and Local Government (sub-committee) – In Room 4, a helping of TDs and Senators meet with Phil Hogan to be guided through the controversial Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 – the legislation which brings Ireland into line with an EU directive, and requires the €50 mandatory inspection of septic tanks. Sadly, opponent-in-chief Mattie McGrath is not a member of the committee.

2:30pm – Foreign Affairs and Trade – In Room 1, meanwhile, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs brief members on Ireland’s priorities for its stint as chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UN’s semi-official human rights and justice inspectorate. Ireland will hold the chairmanship of the organisation – the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisation – for 2012.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – Enda Kenny makes his first appearance of the week to take off-the-cuff questioning from Messes Martin, Adams and Ross.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – Having dealt with those, Enda Kenny takes more scripted probes on matters such as the Economic Management Council, the state owned banks refusing to pass on the cut in the ECB interest rate, Freedom of Information requests and progress implementing the Programme for Government.

4:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Having dealt with the Social Welfare Bill, the Seanad calls a halt to proceedings – but not before members get a chance to discuss up to three matters of topical importance.

4:36pm – Order of Business – The government officially proposes the Dáil agenda for the day, as opposition TDs query the status of promised legislation (and squeeze in a few political nips while they’re at it).

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Ministers are held to account and forced to discuss four issues of daily importance for 12 minutes apiece.

5:54pm – Local Government (Household Charges) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage) – The single item that will take up most of the government’s week, TDs finally get their chance to speak on the controversial plan to levy a €100 (‘interim’) household charge on each home in the country, as is required under the EU-IMF deal. The legislation was due to be discussed in the Dáil two weeks ago but was momentarily delayed as a result of legal concerns, and is thus only now being put to the Dáil before enactment in the New Year.

8:00pm – Private Members’ BusinessMotion re Budgetary Measures – Fianna Fáil’s tri-weekly session of opposition time sees the party put down a motion condemning the government’s “anti-rural bias”, as it believes was put across in the Budget, including cuts to Farm Assist, septic tank fees, and the closure of rural schools and rural Garda stations. Debate continues until 9:30pm and resumes tomorrow.

9:30pm – as 5:54pm – After PMB, TDs get back to one more hour of debating on the €100 household charge before calling a halt to the night’s proceedings.

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