Today in Leinster House: February 14, 2012

It’s not a very soppy Valentine’s Day in the Dáil this week, with plenty of verbal daggers to be tossed across the chamber as the Finance Bill 2012 puts the final parts of the Budget into law. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other landmines waiting for others across the Houses.

[Apologies to email readers – by the time of publication, details of the parliamentary questions had not yet been published.]

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Children & Youth Affairs) – In what is only her fourth batch of ministerial questions since taking office (her department took some time to create), Frances Fitzgerald answers questions on the number of social workers who quit during 2011 and who will be retiring this month, the report of the Garda Inspectorate into investigations of sexual offences, and plans to provide guardians to all unaccompanied children.

2:00pm – Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (sub-committee) – In Room 2, interest groups such as IBEC, ICTU, trade union UNITE and the Local Jobs Alliance offer their thoughts on new legislation which is designed to lubricate and facilitate workplace relations.

2:00pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – In Room 3, agriculture minister Simon Coveney briefs members on his plans for developing the forestry industry. This may include indications on the potential future of Coillte, which has previously been earmarked for sale.

2:15pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – In a busy meeting in Room 4, members examine European proposals on dealing with hazardous waste, discuss retail clamping with the AA and the retail industry, and meets Sean Benton, the incoming chairman of the National Sports Campus Development Authority.

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad’s week kicks off, as it usually does, with a 75-minute free-for-all allowing members to discuss matters close to their hearts and those of their constituents.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – Enda Kenny returns from New York for the main event of the day, facing off against Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and the technical group’s rostered leader.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – The more sedate questions on procedural matters in the Department of the Taoiseach this week deal with Northern Irish involvement in the constitutional review, plans for referendums this year, spending on photography in his department, and what documents he provided for consideration at last month’s European Council meeting which agreed the fiscal compact deal.

3:45pm – Statements and Q&A on the HSE National Service Plan – James Reilly pops up to the Seanad to take a few hours of questions on the HSE’s new plans for reducing waiting lists in hospitals and waiting times in A&E wards.

4:36pm – Order of Business – TDs rubberstamp the day’s agenda, which should be quick given how straightforward it is.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Backbenchers and opposition TDs get a chance to bring up matters of concern, for 12 minutes apiece.

5:54pm – Finance Bill 2012 (second stage) – The Dáil’s agenda for the week is utterly dominated by the Finance Bill 2012, which gives legal effect to the non-social welfare matters provided for in last December’s Budget. Chief among the talking points is a tax break for visiting bajillionaires, and reviewing VAT on certain items like the Waterford Blaa (yes, really). This opening stretch of debates will continue until 7:30pm and continue tomorrow.

7:30pm – Bretton Woods Agreement (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2011 (second stage) – The Seanad’s legislative day continues with its first look at more procedural legislation. This bill will give Ireland a lower rate of interest on any loans from the IMF – naturally a good thing – though it comes at a cost: Ireland must lodge more cash with the fund in the first place.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] – Motion re Stroke in Ireland – The triweekly rotation of opposition time falls to the technical group, who back a motion put forward by Maureen O’Sullivan calling for greater awareness of the risk of strokes, and urging the government to bring forward new plans on assisting post-stroke rehabilitation. Debate will continue until 9pm before matters wrap up.

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