Today in Leinster House: January 31, 2012

After yesterday’s hi-jinks in Brussels, it’s a relatively sedate day for the Oireachtas, as members ease their ways back into the week.

There is, however, one routine item of business which should attract an unusual amount of public attention, given recent events…

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) – The Dáil’s week kicks off with Jimmy Deenihan standing up to take questions relating to his ministerial brief, including the protection of heritage sites, safeguarding the native music industry, and progress on the acquisition of the Bank of Ireland on College Green.

2:00pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – The committee circuit begins in Room 3 where representatives from the telecoms regulator ComReg brief members on their current working priorities.

2:15pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – It’s a strangely all-over-the-shop meeting over in Room 4. There are eight European legislative proposals to consider – some relating to radiation emissions, and others on the management of groundhandling services at airports. Once they’re done, county and city managers will brief members on the regulation of private clamping. Among the attendees will be reps from Cork City Council, which has already abandoned its own clamping operations.

2:30pm – Order of Business – Just in time for the change of the month, the Seanad gets back to action with its daily 75-minute discussion on anything and everything.

2:30pm – Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform – The finance committee convenes in room 2 to hear the thoughts of the retail industry on the impact of tobacco smuggling.

3:00pm – Justice, Equality and Defence – In Room 1, members get together to quickly elect their new vice-chair. Joanna Tuffy has been discharged from the committee as part of a Labour re-shuffle.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – After yesterday’s events in Brussels, the questions posed to Enda Kenny ought to be worth keeping a close ear to.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – Thereafter, Kenny will deal with scripted questions dealing with dialogue with the social partners, meetings of the cabinet sub-committee on economic recovery, and recent bilateral discussions with David Cameron.

3:45pm – Education (Amendment) Bill 2011 (second stage) – The Seanad’s afternoon is occupied with its first look at Ruairí Quinn’s latest legislation. This bill limits the circumstances under which schools can hire non-qualified teachers.

4:00pm – Justice, Equality and Defence – Having elected their new vice-chair, members then get down to two juicy motions: one ratifying, on Ireland’s behalf, a memorandum of understanding for a EU-wide battlegroup, to be made available in the second half of 2012; the second approving an agreement between Ireland and the United States on fighting serious organised crime.

4:36pm – Order of Business – TDs sign off on the day’s agenda, and query the location of other promised legislation.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Four of the day’s topical issues are discussed by backbenchers and opposition, with ministers held to account. Each matter gets 12 minutes’ discussion.

5:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Having finished their day, Senators get a chance to discuss personal matters before retiring.

5:54pm – Statements re Proposed Amendment to Section 40 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 – The big (online) event of the day. The last week has seen plenty of focus on innovation minister Seán Sherlock’s proposed legislation, restoring the legal right of copyright holders to get injunctions blocking the sharing of copyrighted material. Opponents of the plan – and whose who are concerned about its draft wording – call it the ‘Irish SOPA’, referring to a controversial US counterpart. By public demand, 50 minutes has been set aside for a public debate on the proposal.

6:44pm – Legal Services Regulation Bill, 2011 (second stage, resumed) – TDs spend 45 minutes reviving their debate on the Legal Services Regulation Bill, Alan Shatter’s bill which overhauls the oversight and regulation of the solicitors’ and barristers’ trades.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – Motion re Small Primary Schools – This week’s private time falls to Fianna Fáil, who have tabled a motion focussing on the Budget’s impacts on small schools. Their motion calls on the government to protect schools with 1, 2, 3 and 4 teachers, and recognise the disproportionate impact that Budget cutbacks will have on smaller schools. Debate will continue until 9pm.

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