Today in Leinster House: September 27, 2011

Although the government side has outlined its plans for the weekly schedule, it’s still abiding largely by the previous model – so though this is the second week with a ‘full’ schedule of Dáil, Seanad and committee business, it’s still a three-day week with a relatively light workload for the Seanad.

Anyway, all of that aside, here’s what’s going on this week:

12pm – European Union Affairs – Neven Mimica, the chairman of the Croatian parliament’s committee on European Integration, briefs TDs and Senators on the country’s progress in seeking membership of the European Union. Room 2.

2pm – Questions (Minister for Children & Youth Affairs) – For only the second time since her appointment (though largely because her Department didn’t officially exist until early June), Frances Fitzgerald is up to take ministerial questions. Among those tabled are questions on the number of social workers, the implementation of the Children First legislation, and the mandatory reporting of child abuse.

2:30pm – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – The committee meets to discuss ways of ensuring businesses have better access to credit, and also hears about plans for the creation of a strategic investment fund for Irish SMEs. Room 2.

2:30pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – Meanwhile, over in Room 4, TDs and Senators meet reps from some of Ireland’s city and county councils, to discuss the state of Ireland’s municipal water supplies.

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad gets together for 75 minutes of topical chatter.

3pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – In Room 3, officials from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources discuss a very topical issue: how Ireland can encourage exploration companies to seek licences for offshore exploration.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – The main theatre of the day, as Enda Kenny fends off some topical barbs from the opposition benches.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – Having fended off the unscripted stuff, Enda Kenny sits down to some more advance-notice questions – which this week include questions on the use of the government jet, the meeting of cabinet sub-committees, relations with other EU/ECB leaders, and promoting inter-faith dialogue.

3:45pm – Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2011 (second stage) – The Seanad’s main item of the day will see it discuss a recently-published bill which will reduce the permitted blood-alcohol level for drivers. There’s two hours of time set aside for it.

4:36pm – Order of Business – The Dáil discusses exactly what it says on the tin.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – The Dáil’s new marquee signing sees TDs spend 12 minutes discussing four issues deemed to be of major daily importance.

5:45pm – Matters on the Adjournment – The Seanad’s equivalent of Topical Issues, senators are given a chance to discuss three or four issues they deem significant/politically prudent.

5:54pm – Motion re Irish Participation in European Defence Agency Programmes – Justice minister Alan Shatter puts a motion relating to Ireland’s participation in EU-wide defence programmes. (The exact text hadn’t been published at the time of writing.)

6:19pm – Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage) – The Dáil gets its first look at a bill originally put through the Seanad, which – controversially – places a 2% levy on private insurance premiums, in order to ensure that Quinn Insurance does not become so insolvent as to leave its own customers without cover.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Technical group] – Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, backed by the other independents, tables a motion on the government’s jobs policies and its National Internship Scheme; essentially the motion condemns the government for continuing to fund the banking sector instead of prioritising the creation of jobs, and calls on it to ‘Get Ireland Working’. Tonight’s discussions are the first of two sessions of debates, and bring the Dáil up to 9pm when it breaks for the day.

As always, all of the day’s business can be viewed on the streams: