This week in Leinster House: June 21-23, 2011

This week sees the first meetings of most of the Oireachtas committees, who will ceremonially come together to decide on who will take their chairmanships. (This is likely more meaningful for those involved than for the public – a committee chair gets a cool €9,500 a year for their fortnightly input.)

Other than that, the week doesn’t have much of significants, but here’s what’s on its way:


Both Dáil and Seanad kick off at 2:30pm – the Dáil with the usual Questions to the Taoiseach and the Seanad with its Order of Business – contained to a mere 75 minutes this time – with Enda Kenny facing questions on special advisors (and whether any conflicts of interest have been considered in their appointment), as well as offering an update on appointing a new Secretary General at his department to fill the vacancy being left by Dermot McCarthy. Also kicking off at 2:30pm is the first meeting of the Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – which will elect Labour’s Ciarán Lynch as chair.

At 3:15pm the Dáil moves onto Questions to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, with Pat Rabbitte facing more questions on the rollout of broadband to specific rural areas, while at 3:30pm the Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence will convene to put Fine Gael’s David Stanton in the chair. The Seanad, at 3:45pm, will rubberstamp a motion on the powers of the Dundalk Port Authority before getting on to Private Members’ Time from the independent group – which will continue to discuss the motion on Seanad reform tabled last week.

Leaders’ Questions kicks off in the Dáil at 4:15pm before the Order of Business at 4:36pm (yep, 4:36pm) sees it get through some quick housekeeping: the same motion on Dundalk Port, a quick amendment to the rota for ministerial questions, and a motion on the membership of Dáil Committees. At 5pm there are two 45-minute sessions on the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 and the Offences Against the State Act 1998 – two motions which extend some anti-terrorism laws introduced in the aftermath of the Omagh bombings.

While the Seanad takes care of its adjournment matters at 5:45pm, the Dáil will be getting in a 30-minute debate on the Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) (No 2) Bill 2011 – a mouthful of a title, but a relatively minor bill, bringing in some FG-sponsored housekeeping to FF’s credit institutions bill passed earlier this year.

7pm brings Private Members’ Time – with some members of the technical group bringing a motion barring the jobs minister from reducing wages at Joint Labour Committees and the likes – before wrapping up with adjournment matters at 8:30pm.


The Seanad gets going on the Order of Business at 10:30am (again, 75 minutes) while the Dáil starts off with the weekly showpiece of Leaders’ Questions, the Order of Business at 10:51am, and Questions to the Taoiseach at 11:21am – with Kenny facing questions on North-South bodies and the application of the Freedom of Information Act in his department.

The Seanad, still being stuck for legislative business, will have a 75-minute session for Statements on the Jobs Initiative and Competitiveness at 11:45am, while at noon the Dáil kicks off its own session of statements on the European Council Meeting set for next weekend. At 12:45pm the Dáil gets to the Finance (No 3) Bill 2011 – the bill that gives tax parity to couples in civil partnerships – a bill which will continue for the rest of the day, though it will break for lunch at 1:30pm and put Questions to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, at 2:30pm. The only question currently on the rota for him is on whether you can get an EU grant for grouse farming.

The first of four committee meetings begins at 1pm when the Joint Administration Committee makes Tom Hayes (FG) its chair, while the Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture (yep – communications and agriculture in one committee… such is Irish political oversight) will stick Andrew Doyle (FG) in its own hot seat at 2pm. The Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade meets at 3:00pm to stick another Fine Gael TD in its chair – the lucky man this time is Pat Breen. (A fourth committee meeting, of Justice, Defence and Equality, begins at 2:30pm, but that committee will have picked its chair on Tuesday – that meeting will instead be ratifying a report on Ireland’s role in UN Peacekeeping.)

Back in the chambers, the Seanad spends two hours giving Statements on European Affairs at 2:30pm, before a session of Private Members’ Time sees Labour put forward on a motion on negative equity. That’ll bring it to 6:30pm, when it discusses its adjournment matters. The Dáil resumes on its own private members’ time at 7pm – again, it’s the technical group’s motion on joint labour commitees, and completes its day with its own adjournment matters at 8:30pm.


Both Houses begin with the Order of Business at 10:30am; the Public Accounts Committee will have already begun at 10am, but it’s taking a private briefing meeting so its session is private for this week. The Dáil will spend its day discussing the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2011 – the legislation which will formally create a Department of Public Expenditure – until 5pm, on a specially extended day of sittings.

The Seanad, meanwhile, will spend half a day discussing the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011; at 2:30pm it gets to its adjournment matters on a relatively simple day.

The Committee on Health and Children meets for the first time at 11am to put Denis Naughten (yes, Fine Gael) in its chair, while Labour get a rare spot in a chair when Joe Costello takes the helm of the Committee on European Union Affairs at 11:30am. Later, the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform kicks off at 2:30pm with Labour’s Alex White taking the chair.

At 5pm, the Dáil gets to Questions for the Minister for Justice and Equality, when Alan Shatter is asked about the numbers of Garda cars, the economic opportunities of getting Colombian students to study in Ireland, and appointments to State Boards. At 6:15pm the Dáil gets to adjournment matters and that, my friends, is the week.

As always, all of the week’s business can be viewed on our live Dáil and live Seanad streams. Links to the live streams of each committee meeting can be found by clicking into the details of that meeting on our interactive Committees calendar.