Today in Leinster House: March 15, 2012

There’ll be a certain feeling of ‘last day of school’ today, as the Dáil gives itself a half-day to mark the onset of the long weekend.

Nonetheless, work to be done first…

9:30am – Education and Skills (sub-committee) – The National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education and the Council for Education of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference offer their thoughts on the Education (Amendment) Bill 2012, which abolishes the Educational Disadvantage Committee and allows for the employment of unregistered teachers in limited circumstances. Room 3.

10:00am – Public Accounts Committee – The PAC, over in Room 1, discusses the central exchequer’s funding for local authorities, specifically for housing finance and water services. The Secretary-General at the Department of the Environment will be on hand for those. There’ll also be a high-octane discussion on the costs of the Mahon Tribunal – with chairman John McGuinness likely to raise concerns about whether the legal costs for witnesses have been accounted for by the government.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The Thursday Dáil sitting begins with Eamon Gilmore taking barbs from the deputy leaders on the opposition sides on all things political.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad begins its last day with a 75-minute session to arrange a single-item agenda.

10:51am – Order of Business – The Dáil gets 20 minutes to wrap up on its daily agenda, with TDs taking the chance to probe the standing of legislation coming after the long weekend break.

11:00am – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – Chiefs from the Committee for Energy Regulation pop into Room 4 to brief members on their current work priorities, including the Draft Decision Paper on the High Level Design of the Petroleum Safety Framework for Ireland.

11:11am – Clotting Factor Concentrates and Other Biological Products Bill 2012 (all stages); Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (to conclude) – Debate resumes on the two leftover pieces of legislation from yesterday: the first formally legalising certain clotting agents (including recombinant protein preparations) for use in treating patients; the second making a formal criminal offence of Female Genital Mutilation.

11:30am – Health and Children – Drugs minister Roisin Shortall pops into Room 2 to discuss the report of the steering group into a National Substance Misuse Strategy.

11:30am – European Union Affairs – In Room 3, reps from Teagasc, the National Youth Council of Ireland, SIPTU and Social Justice Ireland will offer their thoughts on the Fiscal Compact treaty and the forthcoming referendum campaign.

11:45am – Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Bill 2011 (report and final stages) – The Seanad’s sole item of the day is to discuss the final proposed amendments to the gender quotas legislation. Fianna Fáil want to raise the requirement of candidates from 30% to 40%; the technical group of nominees wants to take the opportunity to overhaul political funding. Either way, they’ve only got until 2pm.

12:00pm – Statements on Symphysiotomy – The final item on the Dáil agenda this term is a 90-minute discussion on symphysiotomies – the practice used in some hospitals (most infamously in Drogheda) where a woman’s pelvis would be sawn open, on the premise that it aided childbirth. The practice, which ordinarily left women incontinent and unable to walk, was often unnecessary and carried out as a medical convenience. Discussion will conclude at 1:30pm.

2:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – With the Gender Quotas Bill taken care of, members discuss a couple of leftover news items before joining the TDs in the bar and looking forward to a few days off.

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