Today in Leinster House: January 19, 2012 [updated]

In what’s becoming a regular theme – particularly on Thursdays – the day’s best business is probably to be found in the committee rooms, as there are some celebrity guests and thorny issues to be raised…

9:30am – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – It’s the time again when the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is up for renegotiation, and that means a hectic lobbying season for farmers trying to have Ireland’s needs and strengths given a disproportionate sway. Dacian Ciolos, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, will be in Room 3 to hear the thoughts of TDs and Senators.

10:00am – Public Accounts Committee – In its weekly Room 1 get-together, the PAC discusses another matter which has been traditionally thorny for the last few years: financial management in the Irish Red Cross, a matter so thorny for some that it was even the subject of a High Court case asking Google to identify a blogger. Donal Forde, the current Secretary General at the Irish Red Cross Society, and the Secretary-General at the Department of Defence, Martin Howard, will be on hand to answer questions.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – It’s a Thursday morning, and because Eamon Gilmore was away chairing an international conference last week it will be his first stint taking leaders’ questions this year. Also featuring Eamon O Cuiv and Mary Lou McDonald.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad gets its day off to the usual start with its open forum discussions for 75 minutes.

10:51am – Order of Business – The Dáil’s order of business on Thursdays is only 20 minutes, down from the usual 30, so business will be crammed as TDs try to see just where in the pipeline their favoured legislation is.

11:11am – Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (to conclude); Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Bill 2011 (second stage resumed); Industrial Relations (Amendment) (No.3) Bill 2011 (second stage resumed) – The Dáíl’s legislative business is relatively routine. The first bill allows more vets to carry out certain treatments; the second one gives agency workers the same workplace rights as permanent colleagues (backdated to December); and the third is the continuation of debate on legislation reforming the JLC system.

11:30am – European Union Affairs; Foreign Affairs & Trade (joint sitting) – Room 3 ought to be particularly crowded as Lord Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK and a former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, briefs members on the security, economic, political and other issues facing the Western Balkan region.

11:30am – Health & Children – In Room 2, staff from HIQA brief members on general quality issues in hospital services.

11:30am – Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement – In Room 4, meanwhile, former prisoners from both the loyalist and republican traditions – including Raymond McCartney, Rosy McCorley, Jackie McDonald and Colin Halliday – will brief TDs, Senators and MLAs on issues concerning former prisoners.

11:45am – Statements on the Report of the Advisory Group on Small Business (resumed) – Resuming the previous week’s discussion, small business minister John Perry attends to hear another two hours of discussion on how Ireland can nurture small businesses.

2:00pm – Ideas on Job Creation from Seanad Members – On a similar theme, from 2pm there’s an odd three-hour session which could either be wonderful, hilarious, or terribly distressing: members of the Seanad brainstorm on various ideas that could be harnessed to create jobs for Ireland. We will watch very closely.

3:42pm – Topical Issues – Four of the day’s topical issues are raised by backbenchers and opposition, and discussed for 12 minutes each.

4:30pm – Questions (Minister for Education and Skills) – Rounding off the Dáil week, Ruairí Quinn steps up to answer scripted questions on the Budget’s cut to DEIS teacher numbers, SNA positions, school guidance counsellors, and increasing the pupil-teacher ratio for younger classes.

5:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – The Seanad week wraps up with the opportunity for members to raise matters of topical and local importance.

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