Today in Leinster House: May 9, 2012

The Seanad’s back from its long weekend, while the Dáil takes care of some overdue business and the committees get on with the usual nitty-gritty.

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Innovation – The day begins in Room 3 where officials from the Department of Social Protection will offer their thoughts on the practicalities of changing the child benefit system.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – Enda Kenny takes the usual high-profile grenades from Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and Shane Ross.

10:30am – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – Some unusual circumstances mean two ministers sitting in at the same meeting: Jimmy Deenihan and Michael Ring both offer their thoughts on the upcoming European Council meeting dealing with Education, Youth, Culture and Sports.

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs sign off on the day’s agenda…

11:21am – Statements re ‘Looking forward to Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union; January to June 2013′ – …and then sink their teeth into 95 minutes of discussion on Ireland’s presidency of the European Council in the first half of next year.

12:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad begins its day with its standard 75-minute free-for-all allowing members to raise matters of varying prominence – which is then followed by a sos of 45 minutes…

12:56pm – Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Bill 2011 (Seanad amendments) – There’s a little over 30 minutes left before lunch, so the Dáil will wrap up its final considerations of the legislation giving equal rights to agency workers, before sending it on its way to President Higgins.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport) – Leo Varadkar is the minister on duty to take questions today; he will face inquiries on the future of Shannon Airport, the reintroduction of the ‘nine year rule’ on taxi ages, whether reforms to urban transport licences will have an impact on Bus Eireann, proposals to raise clamping charges, and updates to the rural transport systems.

2:30pm – Review of the White Paper on Irish Aid – Statements and Questions and Answers – Joe Costello leads a two-hour Seanad discussion on Ireland’s overseas aid programme, and takes questions from senators on how Ireland’s funding programmes abroad.

2:30pm – Foreign Affairs and Trade – Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade wander into Room 1 to give an update on Ireland’s financial input into the EU External Action Programme, and the European Development Fund.

2:30pm – Justice, Defence and Equality – It’s a crowded house over in Room 2, meanwhile, with a wide range of bodies in to give their thoughts on the forthcoming Mediation Bill. Among those in attendance: CEDR Ireland; Family Mediation Ireland; the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association; Irish Commercial Mediation Association; Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; and Mediate Ireland.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four newsworthy items are discussed for 12 minutes apiece, with ministers on hand to respond.

4:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Prof John Crown] – Protection of Children’s Health from Tobacco Smoke Bill 2012 (second stage) – Opposition legislation this week is one of those questions which will either prompt accusations of a nanny state, or be seen as heralding a new advance in healthcare. Prof John Crown brings forward legislation, backed by Jillian van Turnhout and FF’s Mark Daly, which would make it illegal to smoke in a car wherever children are present.

4:33pm – Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage resumed) – The afternoon is devoted to the resumption of debate on the bill which requires political parties to ensure that at least 30 per cent of their candidates in the next general election are female.

6:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – The Seanad will debate a few matters of topical importance at the conclusion of the day.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] – Motion on Domiciliary Care Allowance – The usual slot of time falls to the Technical Group, which resumes debate on a matter which was a hot topic shortly after the Budget. The Domiciliary Care Allowance is the allowance paid to disabled people under the age of 18, which under the last Budget was due to be rolled back to 16 (though this change was ‘paused’ pending review). Rather than make piecemeal changes, the technical group – led by Catherine Murphy – tables a motion outlining a much more comprehensive review. A vote on the government’s amendment will follow at 9pm.

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