Today in Leinster House: January 18, 2012 [updated]

(Updated: 11.39am)

There’s the odd prospect of an 11-hour committee meeting to provide shape to the day, while the legislative business is more mundane in both houses.

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – The day begins in Room 3, where officials from the Department of Social Protection will brief members on social assistance payments for the unemployed of working age.

10:00am – Environment, Community and Local Government (sub-committee) – In Room 4, meanwhile, members get their teeth into an all-day session dissecting the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 – the one behind the infamous mandatory inspections on septic tanks. The day is scheduled to break into three sessions (the first until 1:15pm, then 2:30pm to 5:30pm, then 6pm to 9pm) but will be preceded by a motion from Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins who is demanding that all discussion of the bill be put on ice until the committee hears from the Environmental Protection Agency, An Taisce, Friends of the Irish Environment, Rural Dweller’s Association, Irish Rural Link, the members and managers of Ireland’s local authorities, and Engineers Ireland.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The flagship event of the day in the Dáil will see Enda Kenny step up to bat against the curveballs from the opposition benches.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad kicks off its day with the usual 75-minute open forum allowing members to discuss whatever they please.

10:51am – Order of Business – After fending off the questions from the opposition sides, the fate gets worse: Enda Kenny then has to handle questions from the rest of the house. Multiple TDs from each party are entitled to query the status of legislation which had been promised by the government but yet to materialise.

11:21am – Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 (to conclude); Health (Provision of General Practitioners Services) Bill 2011 (to conclude); Industrial Relations (Amendment) (No.3) Bill 2011 (second stage resumed) – The main legislative business of the day is three bills, each more important than the last. The first is a housekeeping bill ensuring that workers leaving ESB for Eirgrid do not lose their pension entitlements; the second allows a larger number of GPs to offer medical card services; the third is a continued discussion on the reform of the JLC system.

11:45am – Patents (Amendment) Bill 2011 (second stage) – The Seanad’s business is much more sedate – it gets its first look at a housekeeping bill which makes Ireland a party to the latest international treaties recognising patents on a broader scale.

2:00pm – Statements on the Irish Language – Gaeltacht minister Dinny McGinley moves upstairs for two hours to lead a general discussion on the future of An Gaeilge.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) – Pat Rabbitte takes his first batch of Dáil questions for the new year; he will face missives on a national fracking policy, the maintenance of the Bord Gáis grid, EU aid for refit schemes, and fuel poverty.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – TDs get to hold ministers to account on four of the day’s burning issues. Each topic gets 12 minutes’ discussion.

4:00pm – Private Members’ Business [Labour] – Motion on rural transport – Because the Seanad does not recognise party memberships, Labour gets a chance to break free from the coalition leash. Its motion notes that 40% of the population lives rurally, and calls on the government to extend the integrated ticketing scheme to people in rural communities – with special note for the needs of the rural elderly.

4:33pm – as 11:21am – Renewed discussion on the bills originally labelled earlier.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business – The second 90-minute session of statements on Fianna Fáil’s motion dealing with the provision of guidance counsellors in second-level schools. That provision has essentially been scrapped under the Budget and FF’s motion would reverse the cut. A government amendment changes the motion to a more pro-government one, and a vote on that will be taken at 9pm.

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