Today in Leinster House: March 22, 2012

The committee schedule for Thursday is a little less hectic than yesterday’s, but the Dáil still has some important legislation to take care off while the Seanad and other committees keep themselves busy too.

10:00am – Public Accounts Committee – After last week’s marathon session to discuss spending at the Mahon Tribunal, this week the meeting in Room 1 is a little less high-octane – with a discussion on progress in implementing the government’s Public Service Agreement 2010-2014. PJ Fitzpatrick, the chairman of the implementation body, will be on hand to answer questions.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – Eamon Gilmore will take the usual batch of Thursday questions against the rostered deputy leaders of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad has only one item on its agenda for today, but will nonetheless spend 75 minutes deciding how to spend its day, making a very circuitous route from A to B.

10:51am – Order of Business – The Dáil’s agenda is similarly straightforward, but TDs will still get 20 minutes to discuss the status of other legislation while they agree to it.

11:11am – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Motion re European Stability Mechanism – As is customary in a shortened week, the government gives over some time so that the opposition can get the full three hours of debate on its business. Sinn Féin’s motion would demand that the government look to remove the link between the fiscal compact and the European Stability Mechanism (the rules of the latter require countries to ratify the former before they can get bailout funds). A vote on the government’s amendment will be taken at 12:41pm.

11:30am – Health and Children – The day’s most high-profile business could well be in Room 2, where James Reilly and the HSE chief executive Cathal Magee hold a general briefing on what the agenda simply calls ‘health issues’.

11:30am – European Union Affairs – In Room 3, meanwhile, Lucinda Creighton will brief members of the EU affairs committee on next week’s General Affairs meeting of the European Council in Brussels, at which she will represent Ireland.

11:45am – Finance Bill 2012 (remaining stages) – The Seanad’s single item of business is to conclude its consideration of the Finance Bill, the last legal leg of the Budget. A vote will be taken at 2pm.

12:41pm – Motor Vehicle (Duties and Licences) Bill 2012 (to conclude); Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage resumed) – The Dáil’s day has two items of business; the first is to quickly wrap up debate on the Budget’s changes to the motor tax regime, the second is introductory speeches on the legislation enforcing gender quotas for general elections. Between the two of them, debate will be wrapped up by 3:42pm.

2:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Once the Seanad has polished off the Budget, members get to raise a few matters of individual importance before putting an end to the day.

2:00pm – European Scrutiny – Finance and Public Expenditure (sub-committee) – A subset of the Finance committee meets for only the second time to discuss European legislative plans, which amount to a rewriting of the Eurozone’s procedures for dealing with countries with excessive budget deficits. Their deliberations will be in Room 4.

3:42pm – Topical Issues – Four ministers are held to account by opposition TDs and backbenchers for 12 minutes apiece.

4:30pm – Questions (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) – Frances Fitzgerald rounds off the week with her occasional batch of ministerial questions, handling inquiries on the children’s rights referendum, HSE retirements, adoption rights, and the national child audit review.

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