Today in Leinster House: September 26, 2012

THE DÁIL’S agenda for the rest of the week is fairly single-minded, with the Children’s Rights referendum dominating its timetable. With that, the legislative programme – containing quite a few important bits of stuff – heads to the blue carpets of the Seanad instead.

9:30am – Committee on Transport and Communications – The day starts in Room 4, though, where the chief concern will be the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, which has been the source of some chagrin among Ireland’s rural population. Some of Pat Rabbitte’s Departmental officials will be present, as will be Conal Henry, chief executive of e|net which manages a fibre-optic network.

10:00am – Committee on Education and Social Protection – Joan Burton is in Room 3, meanwhile, to brief members on next week’s meeting of EU social protection ministers, as well as to offer an update on the Department’s Budget plans.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – Wednesday morning gets the usual, live-on-TV barbs among Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and the Technical Group’s rostered spokesman.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad’s day begins with the usual hour-and-a-bit where the day’s agenda is agreed by way of contributions from all and sundry.

10:51am – Order of Business – When Leaders’ Questions is done, there’ll be a 30-minute discussion about what is – or, more likely, what isn’t – on the Dáil’s agenda for the day…

11:21am – 31st Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2012 (second stage resumed) – …before getting back to the referendum on inserting a constitutional clause safeguarding children’s rights. Debate on that wil bring the Dáil up to its lunchtime break at 1:30pm.

11:45am – Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2008 (second stage) – Brendan Howlin gets the day’s true business underway in the Seanad; he’s there to relaunch legislation originally tabled in the early days of Brian Cowen’s government in 2008. It will formally add a new list of government bodies to the ones which can be investigated by the Ombudsman in the case of public wrongdoing, and offers extra powers to the office so that the job can be done properly.

2:00pm – Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2012 (second stage) – After the Seanad’s lunch break comes a man who by his own admission would say the last few weeks have been tricky. James Reilly’s programme to reform the health sector takes another step forward with his legislation to abolish the Board of the HSE, ahead of the body being disbanded entirely (or, at least, that’s the plan) in future years. Reilly will be around himself to govern the debate.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) – Frances Fitzgerald, who will likely be spending most of the day in the Dáil to hear opposition thoughts on the referendum, will be on her feet again for another 75 minutes – answering pre-submitted questions on the Child and Family Support Agency, the children seeking aftercare, the cost of childcare, and the number of Irish children in care overseas.

2:30pm – Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade – Members meet in Room 1 to discuss the developing humanitarian crisis in war-torn South Sudan, with representatives of Trócaire and the doctors’ body Medicins sans Frontieres on hand to offer their thoughts.

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

4:30pm – Statements on School Transport – There’s 90 minutes spare in the day, so junior education minister Ciarán Cannon wanders across the corridor to the Seanad to lead a discussion on how our kids get to school.

4:33pm – as 11:21am – Discussion continues on the children’s rights amendment.

6:00pm – Private Members’ Business [Taoiseach’s nominees] – Motion on Child Nursing Care – The group of non-party Taoiseach’s nominees, today led by Mary Ann O’Brien, gets this week’s private time. Their motion – available to read in full here – deals with the fact that that there are 1,400 children in Ireland with life limiting conditions. Though such children are cared for by the likes of the Jack & Jill Foundation, which offers nurses to deliver home care to such kids, there is no national home nursing care programme. This motion, simply, calls on the government to create one. Should there be an amendment, it’ll be voted upon at 8pm.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Motion re Magdalene Laundries – It’s all about the kids this week. With the Seanad’s debate continuing, the Dáil takes a break from discussing the referendum to return to Sinn Féin’s motion calling for a formal state apology and outreach programme for the victims of abuse at Magdalene Laundries. A vote, should one be demanded, will be called at 9pm.

8:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – If a vote is called on the nominees’ motion, the day-ending discussion of three miscellaneous matters will begin about 15 minutes later than the 8pm window. If not, expect it to be right on tie.

9:00pm – as 5:54pm – Debate resumes on the children’s rights referendum until a halt is called at 10pm.

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