Today in Leinster House: March 28, 2012

There’s plenty of weighty meat in the committee rooms to keep us busy – and a genuinely intriguing Bill being brought forward by the independents in the Seanad – while the Dáil spends its day holding further discussion on the Mahon Tribunal’s final report.

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – The day begins in Room 3, where members will discuss the European Union’s plans for ‘Erasmus for All’, an extension of the programme allowing third-level students to spend some time studying abroad, before having officials from the Departments of Children and Education to discuss community and youth projects which provide both formal and informal education services.

10:00am – European Union Affairs – In Room 1, the EU Affairs committee will follow up on January’s hearing with Paddy Ashdown by having the EU’s special rep to the Balkans, Peter Sorensen, brief them on issues facing the region.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The Dáil day begins with Eamon Gilmore, still filling in for Enda Kenny, taking questions from the leaders of FF, SF and the technical group.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad kicks off an unusually busy day by spending 75 minutes allowing members to raise matters of daily prominence. 

10:51am – Order of Business – The Dáil will spend at maximum 30 minutes discussing its own agenda, and given how matters are being occupied by Mahon TDs will take their chance to ask about the status of other promised legislation.

11:21am – Statements re Final Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments – The resumption of three days of statements on the Mahon Tribunal’s final report.

11:45am – Private Members’ Business [David Norris]: Privacy Bill 2012 – There are two sessions of private members’ time in the Seanad today; the first falls to the university senators, where three of them – Messrs Norris, Barrett and Quinn – are bringing a new privacy bill which would create a tort of a ‘breach of privacy’. The law is largely based on caselaw in Ireland and Europe, but could have some interesting implications on surveillance and the freedom of the press.

1:45pm – Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (Dáil amendments) – Once that’s done, there’ll be a quick moment to consider the Dáil’s amendments to the anti-FGM bill before breaking for lunch.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport) – Leo Varadkar takes ministerial questions today, with probes on the future of the airport at Cork and Shannon, sports capital funding, licensing for road hauliers and the effects of the jobs budget in tourism.

2:30pm – Statements and Q&A on Housing – Jan O’Sullivan pops upstairs, meanwhile, to lead a two-hour discussion on housing – with no doubt the difficulties of Priory Hall once again being brought up.

2:30pm – Justice, Equality and Defence – In Room 2, Gardaí and representatives from missing persons’ outreach groups brief members on the difficulties surrounding the disappearance of missing persons.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four topical issues are discussed for 12 minutes each.

4:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Labour] – Motion on assisting small business – The second motion of the day is from Labour, with senators tabling a bundle of suggestions which would help small enterprises to flourish.

4:33pm – as 11:21am – Even more debate on the Mahon Tribunal! Aren’t we lucky. Three more hours of statements on the Tribunal’s final report will bring us up to 7:30pm.

6:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – The Seanad wraps up its day with the usual daily session of miscellaneous matters of general interest.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2011 – The Dáil’s day ends with further debate on Michael McGrath’s legislation which would see the Financial Services Ombudsman publish public reports on his findings, in the same way that the Broadcasting Authority can publish its outcomes. FF’s idea is that institutions could be named and shamed into improving services. If the government opts to oppose it (which it may, as it could raise HR difficulties) there’ll be a vote taken at 9pm.

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