Today in Leinster House: January 26, 2012

The contentious passage of the legislation requiring mandatory inspection of Septic Tanks comes to a head today, while there are also some other interesting contributions ahead of next week’s business.

10:00am – Public Accounts Committee – It’s a varied programme in Room 1 for the PAC; among the four items it will discuss is the State’s management of its property portfolio, the provision of primary care centers, and the costs of nursing home care.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The Thursday morning session will see Ruairí Quinn deputise for Eamon Gilmore, who is abroad, facing off against Éamon Ó Cuív and Mary Lou McDonald – the deputy leaders from their respective parties.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad will begin with its usual 75-minute debate on anything and everything.

10:51am – Order of Business – The opposition will no doubt complain about how debate on the septic tank motion will be curtailed, and are likely to call a vote in protest at the government’s 1:30pm limit for debate. That debate is likely to take up the whole 20 minutes allocated.

11:11am – Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 (to conclude) – And so it is: the final debates on one of the most controversial pieces to come out of the Oireachtas in a while. This Bill brings Ireland in line with an EU directive, requiring the one-off mandatory inspections of septic tanks – with the government claiming that any delay past February 3 would see Ireland face major fines from the European Court of Justice. The opposition not only contest this claim, but believe the bill is ‘anti-rural’ – and complain that urban centres received massive government investment in the provision of water services, while rural dwellers were left to fend for themselves, and are now being victimised as a result. A vote will be called at 1:30pm.

11:30am – European Union Affairs – Next Monday the EU’s heads of government descend on Brussels, intending to sign off on the final version of the Eurozone’s ‘fiscal compact’ deal. In this committee meeting, EU affairs minister Lucinda Creighton gives members a quick run-down of that, and the other matters up for discussion.

11:45am – Statements and Q&A on Agricultures and Fisheries – Agriculture minister Simon Coveney heads upstairs for two hours to brief the Seanad on his plans for his ministry, and to take input from members on same.

1:30pm – Statements on inter-country adoptions – Having last week reopened adoption channels between Ireland and Vietnam, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald leads a two-and-a-bit-hour discussion on Ireland’s progress in allowing adoptions from other countries.

3:00pm – Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 (Dáil amendments) – Assuming its clears the Dáil in the vote at 1:30pm, Senators will be asked to rubberstamp amendments to the septic tank legislation at 3pm in the Seanad. The amendments are almost all procedural and were agreed on at committee stage in the Dáil last week. Whenever it’s done, the Seanad will have Matters on the Adjournment where members discuss matters they deem appropriate and worthwhile.

3:42pm – Topical Issues – Four of the day’s topical issues – disbarring the septic tanks, naturally – are aired for 12 minutes apiece.

4:30pm – Questions (Minister for Social Protection) – The Dáil’s week concludes with Joan Burton stepping up to take questions on matters yet to be disclosed.

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