Today in Leinster House: January 25, 2012

Today’s Business is dominated by Dáil debates on that most contentious piece of legislation – the mandatory inspection of septic tanks – but otherwise there’s some interesting bits and pieces around the houses.

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – The day begins in Room 3, as it often does, where members will compile their report on the draft Heads of Bill (that is, the ‘here’s what we plan to include’ model proposed by the government) of the Education and Training Bill, 2011, which seeks to “ensure better delivery and coordination of education and training at local level” and also provides a path for the merger of VECs.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The Dáil’s main prelude is Eamon Gilmore taking questions from Éamon Ó Cuív, Gerry Adams and the independent benches. Enda Kenny is an absentee, spending his day in Davos.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad returns from its five-day weekend to resume with its usual 75-minute session of raising miscellaneous issues.

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs hold discussions on the day’s agenda, which is not likely to take long considering how straightforward it should be, but the complaints about the ‘guillotining’ of debates on the Septic Tank legislation is likely to mean some delays.

11:21am – Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (to conclude) – The next day and a half in the Dáil are mostly tied up with the passage of this contentious legislation, which will see all private septic tanks undergo mandatory inspections to bring them up to EU standard. The opposition parties – who contest the government’s claim that Ireland faces fines from next month unless it’s rushed into place, and who believe the bill to be ‘anti-rural’ – are likely to cause some fireworks.

11:45am – Statements on Irish Water and Related Reforms – On a similar note, NewERA minister Fergus O’Dowd heads upstairs to lead a discussion on Irish Water – which we’re assuming is the new semi-state in charge of overseeing the rollout of metered water charges – and on related reforms.

12:00pm – Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (sub-committee) – In Room 3 – convening barely after the other meeting has concluded – members will hear from IBEC, ICTU and the National Recruitment Federation on the impact of new legislation giving equal employment rights to agency workers.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation) – Richard Bruton is today’s rostered minister taking questions, including missives on job creation, an ‘emergency enterprise taskforce’, export schemes to BRICS targets and microenterprise funds.

3:00pm – Education (Amendment) Bill 2012 – The Seanad shows its use by helping the government push through another piece of legislation. This bill, tabled by Ruairí Quinn, is aimed at offering a formal code of practice as to the circumstances under which a school can hire a non-qualified teacher, and the efforts it must go through in its search for a qualified teacher before it looks elsewhere. The legislation hopes to strike a balance between ensuring that qualified teachers get the first dibs on any teaching work that might become available, while also giving schools some leeway to hire other non-qualified persons at short notice.

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.

4:33pm – as 11:21am – Debate resumes on the Septic Tank bill, wrapping up at 7:30pm. There’ll be no vote, though: that”ll be tomorrow after another few hours’ discussions.

5:00pm – Private Members’ Business [Independent group] – Motion on social welfare for those with disabilities – The Taoiseach’s independent nominees in the Seanad table a motion urging the government to build a social welfare system that takes account of the unique needs of those who have disabilities, whether physical or otherwise. It does not mandate the government to take any specific action, and is therefore likely to go unopposed.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] – Motion on Anglo Irish Bank bond repayment - This week it’s the Technical Group’s turn to bring forward a motion or legislation of its own; its motion is a last-ditch attempt to force the government not to repay the bond maturing today for Anglo Irish Bank. Its €1.25bn bond is unsecured, but is being repaid anyway – with the State footing the bill. The debate probably comes too late, as the bond will have been repaid at some point today, but will be stirring nonetheless. A vote will be held at 9pm.

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