Today in Leinster House: March 6, 2012

Perhaps a sign of the planets aligning in this new pre-referendum era, the Dáil’s week is tied up with legislation offering procedural ratification of Ireland’s participation in the second Greek bailout (though Ireland won’t itself be contributing any new cash to it). There are still some interesting bits and pieces around the Houses elsewhere.

1:30pm – Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture – The week begins in committee room 3, where members will discuss EU proposals for an integrated common fisheries area and the non-sustainable fishing of some waters, before hosting officials from Teagasc who will brief them on the agency’s work priorities.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht) – Jimmy Deenihan kicks off the Dáil week with his usual batch of parliamentary questions, this time including inquiries on the Creative Capital report on industrial relations in the audiovisual industry, the status of The Gathering event planned for next year, the regions being considered for new Gaeltachta, and plans to tackle the growing number of wild feral mink.

2:15pm – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – In committee room 4, members put on their ‘culture’ hat to discuss the role of the arts in combatting disadvantage among the young, the old and socially disadvantaged. On hand to offer their thoughts will be representatives from the Luisne Art Project and the county councils of Mayo and Offaly.

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad will kick off its Tuesday sitting with the usual open forum for members to raise issues close to their hearts.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – The marquee event of the day will see Enda Kenny step up to the usual inquiries from Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and the rostered leader from the Technical Group.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – After those questions will come inquiries based on the activities of Kenny’s department itself, with probes on the impact of the public service retirements, further inquiries about the government press office (which Kenny famously derided while in opposition), and his recent visits to the United States.

3:45pm – Action Plan for Jobs – Statements and Q&A/span> – In the Seanad’s main event of the day, Richard Bruton holds a two-hour questions and answers session on the 270-point plan for job creation announced by his department two weeks ago.

4:36pm – Order of Business – TDs sign off on the day’s business, which ought not to take long given that it is broadly straightforward. The discussion will be followed by a vote on Mattie McGrath’s Bill from last Friday which demands that all trades of scrap and precious metals be logged. The government has shot the Bill down, arguing that many of its provisions are already taken care of.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – (Not likely to begin before 5:20pm due to delayed vote) Four burning issues are discussed for 12 minutes apiece.

5:45pm – Matters on the Adjournment – With the Seanad having wrapped up its only item of the day, members get to raise four matters of particular interest before heading home.

5:54pm – Euro Area Loan Facility (Amendment) Bill 2012 (second stage) – The main item in the Dáil this week is a procedural bill which ratifies Ireland’s participation in the Greek bailout. The legislation is needed to give effect to the second bailout, though Ireland will not be participating in the second loan as it’s already been bailed out. The second loan, from a management point of view, is being merged with the first – meaning that Ireland, as one of the lenders in the original €80bn, needs to sign off on the second one. This means opposition TDs will have 90 minutes tonight, and all of tomorrow, to attack the austerity policies that led Greece to where it is.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Technical Group] – Motion re Turf Cutting – Debate on the Greek bailout halts at 7:30pm to allow a motion which the opposition technical group has been plotting for some time. Tabled by Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, who has an obvious interest in the matter, the motion demands that the government acknowledge the Habitats Directive and its impact on the rights of people to cut turf on their lands. Given the proponent, there should well be some fireworks. The debate wraps up at 9pm and will resume tomorrow.

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