Today in Leinster House: May 2, 2012

The Dáil’s day is tied up with relatively routine government business, but in the Seanad there’s a very LGBT-heavy day.

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Innovation – An early start in Room 3: Ruairi Quinn drops in to discuss next week’s meeting of EU education ministers, while officials from his Department will discuss concerns raised by the Children’s Ombudsman in a recent audit of public administration in Ireland.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – Enda Kenny takes the usual televised attacks from Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and the technical group.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad begins its day with its standard 75-minute free-for-all allowing members to raise matters of varying prominence. 

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs get 30 minutes to check up on the status of some of the government’s promised measures.

11:21am – Education (Amendment) Bill 2012 [Seanad] (to conclude); Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Bill 2012 (Seanad) (second stage) – Two main legislative items for the government in the Dáil today: the first will finally put an end to the use of unregistered teachers in schools; the second updates the standards that commercial vehicles must meet in order to use the country’s roads. 

11:45am – Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] [PMB] (committee and remaining stages) – Ivana Bacik’s legislation allowing humanists to oversee the registration of civil partnerships gets another airing, when the Seanad will consider any last amendments and wrap up the legislation entirely.

2:00pm – Public Expenditure and Reform (sub-committee) – Another relatively routine housekeeping meeting in Room 3, where Brian Hayes explains the OPW budget for the year, while Brendan Howlin offers his thoughts on the Budgets for his department as well as other services like the Ombudsman and the (dun dun dunnnn) Secret Service.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) – Pat Rabbitte is the minister on duty to take questions today; he will face missives on legislation covering media mergers, offshore gas and oil exploration, the idea of giving Norway a 50% share in our resources (in exchange for Norway taking management of them), the privatisation of Irish Water and the awarding of state contracts to overseas firms.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four newsworthy items are discussed for 12 minutes apiece, with ministers on hand to respond.

4:00pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – Employment Equality (Amendment) Bill 2012 [Seanad] [PMB] – A relatively major piece of legislation, which Ruairí Quinn has already says he backs. There are nine areas defined in Irish law under which employers and public bodies cannot discriminate – one of them is sexual orientation. That law allows exemptions for religious institutions and orders, however, on the basis that they may need to claim exemptions in order to maintain the ethos of their institutions. This amendment, from FF’s Averil Power would remove that, thereby meaning that gay teachers cannot be discriminated against if being considered for employment in religious schools. Should a vote be called – though it is unlikely – it will be taken at 6pm.

4:33pm – as 11:21am – Debate continues on the two pieces of government legislation.

6:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Whenever Averil Power’s legislation is taken care of, the Seanad wraps up its day with the usual daily session of miscellaneous matters of general interest.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Protection of Employees (Amendment) Bill 2012 (second stage) – Sinn Féin’s time is devoted to legislation from enterprise spokesman Peadar Toibín: his legislation would increase the minimum notice period which employers would have to observe if they want to lay off a significant number of people within a certain period. The government may oppose the bill on the basis that it could make Ireland a less attractive place to employ people in the first place; if it does decide to block the bill, it’ll do so through a vote called at 9pm.

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