Today in Leinster House: November 21, 2012

ALL EYES WILL be on the big Dáil vote at 9pm – on whether to accept Sinn Féin’s demand that Ireland immediately legislate for the X Case – but there are plenty of other items on today’s agenda which should also merit attention (though not nearly to the same degree).

9:30am – Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality – The day begins in Room 2, where the Justice committee holds the first of two meetings today. The first one will see the Garda commissioner Martin Callinan discuss gangland crime and the potential forthcoming closure of more Garda stations.

9:30am – Committee on Transport and Communications – In Room 4, meanwhile, officials from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Commission for Energy Regulation will discuss developments in sustainable energy provision and its impact on the gas and electricity provision sectors.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The main event of the morning will see Enda Kenny face off against Gerry Adams, Micheál Martin and the technical group.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad’s day gets underway with the usual 75-minute discussion on anything and everything, after which members will agree to the day’s agenda.

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs only get 30 minutes to agree likewise, so their conversation on the day’s agenda will be much more constrained.

11:21am – Statements pre European Council – It’s easily forgotten, with all of the domestic focus on the Savita fallout, but there’s a summit of European leaders taking place in Brussels tomorrow and Friday. The focus is really on Greece, and the Troika’s internal bickering about whether to give it more time and money – though Ireland will no doubt will be pressing its own case, with the Budget now only a fortnight away. Here, members get 85 minutes to make comments on what they expect to see this week.

11:45am – Transport (Córas Iompair Éireann and Subsidiary Companies Borrowings) Bill 2012 (second stage) – In the Seanad, meanwhile, it’s the first outing for legislation which aims to fix CIE’s financial problems… by letting it borrow more money. Currently there’s a legal limit of €103 million on non-capital borrowing for CIE, and this bill hopes to raise it to €300 million. Leo Varadkar will be on hand to steer.

12:46pm – Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012 [Seanad] (second stage); Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2012 (second stage resumed) – The legislative day has two items on its agenda: the first is a housekeeping bill to make the Oireachtas (and not the Department of Arts) responsible for the translation of laws; the second widens the powers of the Private Residential Tenancies Board – the body which regulates and records private lettings – and gives it more power to enforce its powers.

1:45pm – Committee on Finance (sub-committee) – A sub-committee of the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform meets in Room 4 to debate proposed amendments to the Credit Union Bill 2012, which will totally overhaul the system to regulate (and, where needed, backstop) credit unions.

2:00pm – Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 (second stage) – On a related note, at the same time the Seanad will be holding its first debates on the personal insolvency legislation which would allow indebted people to write off some of their debts (as long as the creditor is okay with it).

2:00pm – Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence – The justice committee’s second stint in Room 2 is devoted to analysing no fewer than 12 EU legislative proposals – which are so numerous that the Oireachtas’ preliminary agenda doesn’t even name them.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform) – Brendan Howlin kicks off the afternoon session in the Dáil; he will offer responses on questions on the auction of the National Lottery licence, public service outsourcing, ‘equality-proofing’ the 2013 Budget, and how its €2.25 billion in cuts will be split across departments.

3:00pm – Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade – Like the Justice committee, the Foreign Affairs grouping has two meetings today. The first, in room 1, will see Peadar King – the host of TV’s ‘What in the World?’ – give a presentation on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four of the day’s newsworthy items are debated for 12 minutes apiece by ministers, backbenchers and opposition.

4:00pm – Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions – in Room 3, Peadar Toibín’s scrutiny committee will leaf through the latest petitions submitted by members of the public asking for Oireachtas investigation into various items.

4:33pm – as 12:46pm – More debate on translating laws into Irish, and on regulating private tenancies.

5:00pm – Private Members’ Business [Mary White, FF] – Employment Equality (Amendment) Bill 2012 – The big ticket item of the day won’t be voted on for a couple of hours – but there’s an intriguing debate to be had in the Seanad in the meantime. Fianna Fáil’s onetime presidential hopeful, Mary White, is a champion of positive ageing – and has proposed legislation which would make it illegal to enforce a mandatory retirement at age 65. Her idea is that there is inequality between public, private and self-employed staff, some of whom have mandatory retirement ages – so she wants rid. With the pensions crisis as it is, it could help staff build up a bigger savings pot – but it could also worsen the problem of youth unemployment, as there would be fewer jobs for them to move into. A vote is due at 7pm.

7:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Once that’s done, three matters of newsworthiness will be raised by members before the night is drawn to a close and attentions move to the Dáil.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Motion re Supreme Court ruling in the X Case – The biggest item of the day, by far, is the vote on Sinn Féin’s private motion demanding immediate legislation for X and the publication of the report of the Expert Group on the A, B and C ruling.

Demonstrations are planned for outside Leinster House this evening in advance of the vote, which will be due at 9pm. Conveniently, Dáil procedures mean a vote on the government’s amendment is required first – so members will never actually get a chance to vote on Sinn Féin’s motion. Instead, they’ll vote on whether to replace it with a government counter-motion – and then on the government’s motion itself.

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