This week in Leinster House: June 7-9, 2011

We’re told that there’ll finally be some news on the committees front this week – at least, that’s what the official sources have said – so we could be looking at a slightly more chocker schedule in the coming weeks. Until then, welcome to the first week of full sittings in both the Dáil and Seanad.

(Apologies for the absence of a post last week – your host was moving house and some things had to be allowed to slip!)


Both the Dáil and Seanad kick off at 2:30pm, with the Dáil beginning with Questions to the Taoiseach – and a batch of questions largely dominated by Gerry Adams who is tabling questions relating to the personal items of the court marshalled 1916 leaders and the handover of other Irish administrative documents from before partition. (The Seanad, meanwhile, will be going through its own Order of Business – which given some of the developments of the last week, most notably involving David Norris, should provide some theatre.)

Back downstairs, Questions to the Minister for Finance at 3:30pm will see Michael Noonan offer guidance on when Ireland expects to go back to the bond markets – and its progress on reducing that bailout interest rate – before Leaders’ Questions at 4:15pm will see almost precisely the same points being raised in a far more theatrical manner. Thereafter the Dáil will pass a motion changing the rota of ministerial questions – finally getting rid of the sessions assigned to ministers who no longer exist – before discussing the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill. That bill, despite its relatively grand title, is more a housekeeping measure extending the provisions of earlier acts.

The Seanad, during this time, will be discussing the Fourth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection – which seems particularly timely, given the renewed furore over David Norris’s 2002 Magill interview, but is portrayed in a far less timely manner when one realises the report was published in December. That’ll take until 6pm, at which point matters on the adjournment wrap up the 24th Seanad’s first Tuesday sitting.

Downstairs, the real politics begins at 7pm when Fianna Fáil uses its private members’ time to table a Spent Convictions Bill. This bill, in essence, expunges a person’s criminal record if their offences led to jail terms under a specific time, and if no other similar offences have been committed in the meantime. And why is this interesting? Because the Government has promised to publish 20 bills by the end of the summer session, and one of them is a Spent Convictions Bill. After the government voted down a Political Donations Bill and then introduced its own with less rigid provisions, opposing another opposition bill simply because it’s an opposition bill may throw some cats among the pigeons. Adjournment matters at 8:30pm wrap up an interesting day.


The main – and more theatrical – weekly stint of Leaders’ Questions kicks off Dáil business at 10:30am, followed by the Order of Business, more Questions to the Taoiseach (Alert! Micheál Martin wants to know whether Enda ran his College Green speech past Barack Obama!) and then more discussion on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill.

The Seanad, meanwhile, kicks off at 10:30am with 75 minutes of Order of Business, before Statements on the Jobs Initiative bring the house to 1:30pm and lunch.

Downstairs, after lunch it’s time for Questions to the Minister for Education and Skills, where Ruairí Quinn will no doubt face some criticism over his insistence to follow the path of Nick Clegg: promise no hike in college fees, and then be forced into doing it anyway. At least, that’s what you’d think – but instead most of the questions on the agenda relate to personal cases, meaning the potential for sneaking in some jibes could be limited. Once that’s done, it’s back to the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill until 7pm.

The Seanad, during this time, will be holding a 150-minute debate on the Biological Weapons Bill 2010, a procedural piece making Ireland a party to a convention from 1972, before private members’ time sees Fianna Fáil go on the offensive over water charges, and then adjournment matters at 7pm.

Fianna Fáil’s private members’ bill on spent convictions will keep things going in the Dáil before it, too, discusses matters on the adjournment at 8:30pm.


Eamon Gilmore stands in to take Order of Business at 10:30pm, before a quick motion on the Report on Services of the Defence Forces on UN Missions. Business then goes back to the Finance (No 2) Bill 2011 – the Bill giving legal effect to the Jobs Budget – with, potentially, some time left for the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011, which proposes to regulate greyhound breeding establishments.

In the Seanad, meanwhile, the Order of Business will precede Statements on the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language which kicks off at 11:45am. At 2pm it’s adjournment matters, before the part-timers clock off early.

Questions to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at 3:30pm will be largely fragmented – with no overarching theme, and little common ground between the questions to Richard Bruton- before adjournment matters at 4:45pm wrap up the week.

As always, all of the week’s business can be viewed on our live Dáil and live Seanad streams.