Today in Leinster House: February 21, 2012

The Dáil’s day is free of legislation, while the Seanad will itself be grappling with some headline-grabbing procedures.

12:00pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – Beginning slightly earlier than usual, members assemble at noon in Room 3 to hear from the International Expert Commission on its report into the underground Meath-Tyrone electricity interconnector. Also present will be reps from EirGrid, ESB, the North-East Pylon Pressure campaign, the Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee, and Ratheniska Action Group.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) – Eamon Gilmore takes his regular batch of ministerial questions, this time dealing with matters including the Holy See embassy, the use of Shannon Airport for renditions, and Ireland’s stance on the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

2:15pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – Assembling in Room 4, members resume their longstanding examination of the clamping industry with representatives from Association of County and City Councils, the Association of Municipal Authorities in Ireland and the Local Authorities Members Association. Later, they’ll have officials from the Department of Transport in to discuss how the input can be taken on board.

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad begins its day with the usual 75-minute open forum on anything and everything.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – The marquee event of the Dáil’s day will see Enda Kenny stand up to swing at the usual arguments put across by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the technical group.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – The more routine weekly questions for Kenny’s ministerial portfolio will contend with relations with other EU leaders and youth unemployment.

3:45pm – Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2011 (second stage) – Having been put off to allow for the extra period of committee stage on the Electoral Amendment Bill, the Seanad only today gets to have a go at the Veterinary Practice Bill which relaxes some restrictions on which vets can carry out certain services. Simon Coveney will be on hand to shepherd the Bill through.

4:36pm – Order of Business – TDs ratify the evening’s agenda and query the status of electoral promises which have yet to materialise.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Four burning issues are discussed for 12 minutes apiece.

5:54pm – Statements re Inter-country Adoption (resumed) – TDs resume a discussion which began last Thursday on the process of other countries signing up to the Hague Convention and allowing Ireland to adopt children from those countries.

6:00pm – Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (committee stage resumed) – With so much debate on some amendments last week, the Seanad has created some additional time to deal with amendments to the legislation imposing Gender Quotas. This evening, members will consider amendments which will increase from 30% to 40% the number of female candidates which parties must put forward.

6:30pm – Statements re Development of the National Disability Strategy – There’s just about time for an hour-long discussion on Ireland’s national disability strategy before the agenda moves on.

7:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Senators raise a few matters of political prudence before wrapping up.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – Motion re Health Services – Fianna Fáil takes its tri-weekly session and puts down a comprehensive motion condemning government cuts to community hospitals and A&E wards, and rejecting James Reilly’s plans for a universal health insurance. Debate will continue until 9pm.

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