Today in Leinster House: October 24, 2012

THE DAIL formally starts talking about last week’s events in Brussels today, and (perhaps by design, perhaps by coincidence) spends the rest of the next two days discussing the state of the Irish economy. Still loads elsewhere, though…

10:00am – Committee on Education and Social Protection – In Room 3 the TUI and other teaching bodies are on hand to discuss legislation to merge Ireland’s VECs, before members meet John Manahan, who is the incoming head of the Grangegorman Development Authority who are charged with building a new campus for DIT.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – Enda, Gerry, Micheál, the technical group, and a live (all digital!) TV audience. What could go wrong?

10:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad’s day is so open-ended – and, indeed, reasonably long – that it gets a whole 75 minutes to discuss its own agenda.

10:51am – Order of Business – The Dáil’s agenda, which is much more simple, only offers 30 minutes for TDs to discuss similar measures.

11:00am – Public Accounts Committee – Back in Room 1, the week-long review of various allowances will take in the allowances paid to staff of the Department of Education and Skills.

11:00am – Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality – In Room 2, meanwhile, there’s a discussion between members on the current role of the Civil Defence Board and how that role could change in the future.

11:00am – Committee on Transport and Communications – Room 4 discusses two matters of recent topical importance, though. First up are the proposals to change the limits on the hours pilots can work without rest; the second is the suspension of the licence of the Pilot Training Centre of Ireland. IAA chief executive Eamonn Brennan is on hand. Once that’s done, various expert types will be around to talk about a recent value-for-money audit at the Irish Coast Guard.

11:21am – Statements after the European Council meeting – Last week in Brussels the EU’s heads of government affirmed their decision to split the link between bank and sovereign debt, and said they would put the legal framework in place to set up a new pan-European banking supervisor. This would allow for the ESM, the Eurozone’s permanent new bailout fund, to help in the recapitalisation of struggling European banks. Then – then! – Angela Merkel said it couldn’t be applied retrospectively, upset the whole apple cart, prompting a weekend flurry diplomacy. Here, the Taoiseach and other TDs will spend 85 minutes discussing just what the hell is happening.

11:45am – Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2012 (report stage) – The Seanad’s day is long, and this is most of the reason why. There are bucketloads of amendments proposed to James Reilly’s legislation which would abolish the board of the HSE, and members have until 4:3opm to talk about them.

12:46pm – Statements on the economy – The Dáil’s spending all of today and tomorrow using its free time to talk about how we are where we are, economy-wise.

2:00pm – Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform – After last week’s meeting saw all three finance ministers in, the action doesn’t let up in Room 4: NAMA chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh will be in to update members on the operations and functioning of NAMA, a week after reporting a net profit of €222 million for the first six months, but warning that only a fifth of its loans are being repaid. Should be fun.

2:00pm – Penal Reform (Justice sub-committee) – A sub-committee of the Justice committee heads to room 2 to go through submissions on proposals to change Ireland’s penal remedy system.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Justice and Equality) – It’s a shame Alan Shatter can’t watch, but he’s busy: he’s in the Dáil answering questions on tackling gangland crime; political influence in judicial appointment; conflicts of interest in solicitors; and plans to expand community restorative justice programmes.

2:30pm – Foreign Affairs and Trade – In Room 3 there’s a discussion on the weighty subject of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in international development. On hand to offer their redoubtable expertise will be Saraswathi Menon of UN Women; Lilian Looloitai of Christian Outreach for Relief & Development, a UK-based NGO, and Oxfam chief executive Jim Clarken.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four topical issues are debated for 12 minutes apiece.

4:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Labour] – Mortgage on National Dementia Strategy – The Seanad doesn’t recognise an official ‘government’ status, meaning Labour get a free roll of the dice and an opportunity to propose their own motion. Their motion deals with the National Dementia Strategy, complements those who are currently working on it, and asks the party’s newly-anointed junior health minister Alex White to include its provisions at all levels of primary care.

4:33pm – Statements on the economy (resumed) – More chat about how we are where we are.

6:30pm – Motion on the Smithwick Tribunal – Last week the sole member of the Smithwick Tribunal, the eponymous Peter Smithwick, asked the Oireachtas for more time to complete his inquiry into alleged Garda collusion in the paramilitary murder of two RUC officers in 1989. Alan Shatter has indicated that the government will approve the request, which has been sought so as to allow a key witness to undergo medical treatment. Here there’ll be a 25-minute chat on ratifying that request.

7:00pm – Statements on Social Protection (resumed) – The last item on the Seanad agenda for the day is the return of Joan Burton to oversee an hour’s discussion on social protection and how it might change in the Budget.

7:05pm – Motion on the Smithwick Tribunal – The Dáil votes on an identical motion to that debated in the Seanad…

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – Motion re Statutory Sick Pay – …before returning to Fianna Fáil motion which calls on the government to drop its plans which would see employers (rather than the government) responsible for the payment of some sick pay to injured or ill employees. The government has a counter-motion in, meaning members will vote on that instead of the original opposition formula. The voting will begin shortly after 9pm.

8:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment

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