Today in Leinster House: March 29, 2012

10:00am – Public Accounts Committee – In Room 1 the PAC gets the day underway, discussing spending at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (as it was so called in 2010) and state funding for county and city enterprise boards.

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 – TDs will again spend 20 minutes asking where other promised legislation is, before returning to the Mahon Tribunal.

11:11am – Motion re Deferred Surrender to the Central Fund Order 2012 – Before the Mahon discussion continues, there’ll be a quick debate (of no more than an hour) on the delayed release of some funds to the government’s ‘main’ bank account. There may not, in fact, be any debate at all.

11:30am – Health and Children – A very topical issue in Room 2: the chief executive of the Irish Medicines Board, Dr Pat O’Mahony, discusses the use of PIP breast implants and other medical issues relating to the use of non-medical grade silicone in bodily implants. Given the recent scandal about the French-made implants, this could be very timely indeed.

11:41am – Statements re Final Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments – Whenever the extra reallocation of budget funds has been dealt with, focus will return to the debate on the final report of the Mahon Tribunal into corruption in the planning process.

11:45am – Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill 2011 (committee stage) – The Seanad’s single item of the day is dealing with amendments to legislation which cleared the Dáil without difficulty: a bill consolidating HETAC, FETAC and the NQAI into a new national Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority, presumable to be known as the QQAA.

12:00pm – Education and Skills (sub-committee) – In Room 4, a sub-panel of the education committee will be discussing the Education (Amendment) Bill 2012, a general housekeeping bill which – among other things – reforms some of the ways in which people with learning disabilities are treating by ‘the system’.

2:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – With the qualifications bill taken care of, senators raise a couple of general topical issues before heading off for the weekend.

3:45pm (approx) – Construction Contracts Bill 2010 (Seanad) [PMB] (second stage) – There’ll be some time at the end of the day to consider legislation which successfully made it through the Seanad through the perseverance of Feargal Quinn. It’s best explained in his own words:

The main purpose of this Bill is to provide for a mechanism whereby prior notice of an intention to withhold sums from payments otherwise due must be given. Otherwise, payments must be made in full and/or the payee may suspend the provision of works and/or services under the construction contract until payment is made in full. This provision is proposed in ease of persons along the chain in the construction sector who may suffer unduly where an entity under a superior contract would find itself withholding payment unilaterally without cause. This would bear unfairly upon the payee or others dependent upon the payee.

In short, then, people in the construction sector would be legally entitled to expect payment for the performance of their duties, unless the client gives formal notice in advance of their intention to act otherwise.

4:30pm – Questions (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) – Eamon Gilmore’s parliamentary questions wrap up the week; the ones he’ll answer orally include missives on the dual use of the Italian embassy (for the Holy See), Israeli rights violations, Chinese human right abuses, and the fiscal compact.

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