Today in Leinster House: February 7, 2012

The Dáil’s agenda for the day is relatively straightforward but there is interesting business elsewhere – especially in the Seanad where there’s a high-profile Q&A and some high-profile legislation.

1:30pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – The day begins in Room 3 with members examining a new range of European legislative proposals, before meeting with the Irish Postmasters’ Union to hold a dialogue session blandly titled ‘Post Office: Open for Business’.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Justice and Equality) – The curious circumstances of Alan Shatter, who has two separate ministerial briefs, mean he will have two separate batches of ministerial questions this week. Today he answers questions on his Justice brief, on matters including Garda retirements, all-island crime fighting, the merger of the IHRA and the Equality Authority, and a complaints mechanism for asylum seekers to air grievances.

2:15pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – Over in Room 4, wearing its environment hat, the committee will look at EU legislative plans before discussing the clamping industry with the Irish Parking Association (2:30pm) and the Independent Parking Appeals Officer (3:15pm).

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad begins its week with its daily 75-minute session discussing anything and everything.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – Enda Kenny stands up to answer his first questions of the week from the opposition benches, with Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and Joe Higgins providing the ammunition.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – This week’s more scripted matters for Enda Kenny to discuss include probes on appointments to state boards, a financial transaction tax, progress in investigating the Dublin-Monaghan bombings
and involving Northern Irish people in the constitutional review.

3:45pm – Statements and Q&A on the EU ‘Fiscal Compact’ Treaty – In what could be the day’s most interesting exchanges, EU Affairs minister Lucinda Creighton heads upstairs to answer questions and listen to statements on the European ‘fiscal compact’ deal. We may get an update on whether the Attorney General thinks a referendum could be needed to approve it.

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

4:45pm – Education (Amendment) Bill 2011 (to conclude) – The Seanad takes its final look at new legislation from Ruairí Quinn which limits the circumstances under which schools can hire unqualified teachers. Quinn says the legislation strikes a balance between allowing flexibility for schools in urgent circumstances, and ensuring that qualified teachers get the first dibs at any available teaching jobs.

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.

5:45pm – Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 (second stage resumed) – Senators resume discussing the landmark legislation introduced by Phil Hogan last week, which will deduct funding from political parties if they don’t offer equal numbers of male and female candidates at election.

5:54pm – Agreement between Ireland and the USA on Enhancing Cooperation in Preventing and Combating Serious Crime – TDs have a quick discussion on a matter which went through committees last week, which sees Ireland and the US agree to co-operate closer in fighting transatlantic crime.

6:14pm – Bretton Woods Agreement (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2011 (to conclude); Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage resumed) – The legislative business of the day in the Dáil is to approve a Bill which increases Ireland’s contribution to the IMF. That might seem like an odd idea, but by doing so Ireland will be entitled to cheaper IMF loans in future. If it gets that done before 7:30pm, it’ll discuss another Bill which disbands the aptly-titled Dormant Accounts Board and merges its functions with the Department of Finance.

6:45pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Senators get a chance to discuss personal matters before wrapping up for the day.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Motion re Community Employment Schemes – This week’s private time falls to Sinn Féin, who use it to table a motion condemning the government’s proposals which they argue would hamper and diminish the work of Community Employment schemes around the country. Debate will wrap up at 9pm and resume tomorrow.

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