Today in Leinster House: May 1, 2012

THIS WEEK is a relatively quiet one in the Oireachtas – with only a smattering of committee meetings as members prepare for a long weekend.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) – Jimmy Deenihan gets things going in the Dáil, beginning the week with his usual rota of parliamentary questions. Among the ones up for discussion are inquiries on the role of Udaras na Gaeltachta, the site at Moore Street. the 1000-year celebrations of the Battle of Clontarf, and the status of protected bogs.

2:00pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture - It’s a big week for the agriculture committee, which today begins the first of two weighty meetings on the proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Before that is discussed, members will talk about EU plans to legislate for the transition of house pets between countries. Room 3.

2:00pm – Health and Children - An unusual Tuesday sitting for the health committee in room 1, as it hears the thoughts of Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay, the ISPCC’s Caroline O’Sullivan, and Tanya Ward of the Children’s Rights Alliance to offer their thoughts on the draft Children First Bill, which was published last week.

2:15pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – In Room 4, it’s a housekeeping meeting: members will be given two six-monthly progress updates, presented by the chief civil servants at the Departments of the Environment and Transport.

2:30pm – Order of Business – Notwithstanding that there is only one item of business in the Seanad agenda for the day, members will still spend 75 minutes signing off on their agenda and discussing what else they may talk about in the future.

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 the ‘Blue Star’ programme in primary schools, European matters, his meeting with Angela Merkel in February, and the restructuring of bank debt.

3:45pm – Statements on the Report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector – The sole item on the Seanad’s agenda is a two-hour chat, led by Ruairí Quinn, on the findings of the forum into patornage and pluralism, which recommended that the State gradually seek to divest primary schools from Church patronage and ownership.

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.

5:45pm – Matters on the Adjournment – With the Mahon Tribunal all talked out, the Seanad discusses topical issues of its own before calling it a night.

5:54pm – Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Bill 2012 [Seanad] (second stage) – The Dáil’s week is largely occupied with dealing with piecemeal parts of other legislation; this piece, which will fill up the gap between topical issues and Sinn Féin’s private time, is a housekeeping piece from Leo Varadkar updating the criteria for commercial vehicles. It passed the Seanad without much hassle last week.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Protection of Employees (Amendment) Bill 2012 (second stage) - Sinn Féin’s time is devoted to legislation from enterprise spokesman Peadar Toibín: his legislation would increase the minimum notice period which employers would have to observe if they want to lay off a significant number of people within a certain period. There’ll be a debate until 9pm, before it pauses and resumes tomorrow.

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