Today in Leinster House: October 4, 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:

2pm – Questions (Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade) – Eamon Gilmore takes his first batch of ministerial questions of the new term; having just returned from the United Nations general assembly, the questions have a heavy focus on the Middle East, while also mentioning the Horn of Africa and Ireland’s role in Libyan peacekeeping.

2pm – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – The committee kicks off the week by resuming last week’s chat about matching graduates with the needs of businesses, before hearing from the Irish Internet Association and the Interactive Games Association of Ireland about what skills they need from ne√w graduates. Room 2.

2pm – Agriculture, Food and Marine (sub-committee) – Over in Room 3 at the same time, junior minister Shane McEntee guides TDs through the committee stage of the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill.

2:30pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – In Room 4, TDs and Senators have a packed afternoon – first dealing with various EU legislative proposals, then hearing from the PRTB on its Dispute Resolution Service, and then having a packed house – including Threshold, USI, the Irish Property Owners’ Association and the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers – to discuss proposals for a Rent Deposit Protection Scheme.

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad gets together for 75 minutes of a free-for-all discussion on the matters of the day.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – The main Dáil event of the day, Enda Kenny fends off topical barbs from three opposition sides.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – Enda Kenny then gets to sit down to some more sedate advance-notice inquiries, on matters including inter-faith dialogue (and the Cloyne report), plans to meet political leaders in Northern Ireland, and any official overseas visits he has planned.

3:45pm – Statements on Sport – The Seanad’s schedule this week is largely taken up with the visits of ministers and junior ministers to offer statements on their respective briefs. Today it’s the turn of junior minister Michael Ring to lead a two-hour round of statements.

4:36pm – Order of Business – The Dáil arranges its plan of action for the week – though with its prospective agenda being pretty straightforward, it shouldn’t take the full half-hour.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Four prominent topics are discussed for 12 minutes apiece in the Dáil…

5:45pm – Matters on the Adjournment – …while upstairs, Senators do the same thing – discussing four matters deemed important enough to talk about.

5:54pm – Dublin West by-election – The writ for the by-election to fill the seat of Brian Lenihan is formally put through the Dáil; there’s an hour set aside for discussion on it, but it’s not likely to be needed.

6:54pm – Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage) – The main item of business for the Dáíl this week is the passage of Leo Varadkar’s Road Traffic bill, which reduces the permitted blood-alcohol levels in drivers. It’ll be on the agenda until Thursday, but this will be the first major slot of discussion, with Varadkar himself doing the main introduction.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – The main opposition party gets its slot this week, and devotes it to a motion condemning the rumoured closures of army barracks in Mullingar and Clonmel. As per usual, this evening’s slot is the first of two; the second will be at the same time tomorrow. Debate wraps up at 9pm.

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