Today in Leinster House: April 24, 2012

The Dáil is back on duty today in an intensive three-day blitz to wrap up its consideration of the Budget’s Social Welfare provisions, while there’s some interesting other bits and pieces in the houses.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad begins its day with its standard 75-minute free-for-all allowing members to raise matters of varying prominence. 

11:45am – Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution (Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union) Bill 2012 (committee and remaining stages) – The Tuesday sitting will see the #Seanad totally wrap up its consideration of the Fiscal Compact referendum by 3pm, with a little over three hours of debate to consider any amendments.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform) – The Dáil’s week is the usual three-day one (though there will be a late sitting on Thursday). It begins with Brendan Howlin taking his rostered questions on the sale of state assets and the water supply, the review of premium payments to public sector workers, a possible ’emergency’ programme of public works, and the sale of the Lotto licence.

2:00pm – Education and Skills (sub-committee) – It’s estimates season at the committees, with ministers having to go to each of their individual committees to secure enough funding to keep operating for the rest of the year. Ruairi Quinn will be in Room 2 to secure his department’s cash.

2:15pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – Continuing its marathon discussions of how the arts can be used to combat social disadvantage, members hear from officials at the Departments of the Environment and of the Arts. Before that, however, there’ll be some discussions on EU plans to enforce traceability of all foods which are borne from animals and which can carry diseases.

3:00pm – Statements on the Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments – Having wrapped up its consideration of the Fiscal Compact and needing to give the Dáil some time before it can send any other legislation its way, the Seanad will finally get its first chance to discuss the findings of the Mahon Tribunal report. With the political heat now slightly off Fianna Fáil thanks to the resignation of six implicated members including Bertie Ahern and Padraig Flynn, discussion may consider the fate of Olivia Mitchell, a Fine Gael TD implicated in it who at the weekend said she would quit politics if FG moved to discipline her.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – The usual marquee event of the day will see Enda Kenny trade barbs with Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and whichever of Messrs Pringle, Boyd-Barrett and Ross feels up to it.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – Having finished those ones, the Taoiseach then deals with more rudimentary written questions, today including matters like inter-faith dialogue, his meeting with Xi Jinping and his return visit to China, and meetings with other EU leaders in pursuing economic growth.

4:36pm – Order of Business – 30 minutes is spent discussing the rest of the day’s business…

5:06pm – Topical Issues – …before four newsworthy items are discussed by backbenchers, opposition and ministers for 12 minutes apiece.

5:54pm – Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012 (second stage) – The Dáil’s week is largely eaten up by ensuring that the Social Welfare Bill is out of the door before TDs get to go home and face constituents next weekend. This evening will see the conclusion of general speeches for the second stage, with a vote being called at 6:45pm. After that, the Dáil will spend no more than 45 minutes discussing a procedural motion on how it will handle Committee Stage (probably with the end effect being that amendments are discussed by the Dáil as a whole).

6:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – With the Mahon Tribunal all talked out, the Seanad discusses topical issues of its own before calling it a night.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – Motorist Emergency Relief Bill 2012 (second stage) – Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesman Timmy Dooley manoeuvres a piece of legislation which will force the government into a straightforward vote on a very hot topic. With world oil markets driving the price of petrol up and up, it’s becoming dearer to fill a tank with petrol – a fact not lost on many struggling motorists. Put simply, FF’s bill would reduce the excise on motor fuel for a specified time, in order to minimise these effects. Because it’s legislation and not a bill, the government can’t put forward a basic amendment – meaning that when a vote comes tomorrow, it’ll have to vote directly on whether or not to permit a tax cut. Debate begins this evening at 7:30pm and suspends at 9pm.

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