Today in Leinster House: May 24, 2012

SOME OVERSEAS dignitaries in the committees today while ministers continue their tours to get extra cash for their departments; there’s also some legislation put through both houses and interesting other bits and pieces.

9:30am – Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (sub-committee) – Pat Rabbitte continues the ministerial tour of the LH2000 wing, visiting Committee Room 3 to get some more cash for his Department.

10:00am – Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht – In Room 2, members consider some miscellaneous plans for new EU laws, including proposals for the imports of Brazilian poultry, safety assessments for foreign aircraft, ship recycling, and more.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – It’s Thursday, so Eamon Gilmore will be taking the leaders’ questions against the deputy leaders of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the technical group.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad’s day begins with the usual 75-minute free-for-all on anything and everything.

10:51am – Order of Business – TDs get 20 minutes to check up on the status of some of the government’s promised measures.

11:00am – Transport, Tourism and Sport (sub-committee) – Leo Varadkar heads for Room 4 to seek extra departmental funding.

11:11am – Motion re Comptroller and Auditor General – The government wants to appoint Seamus McCarthy, who is currently responsible from the reporting section in the Comptroller & Auditor General’s office, to replace the retired John Buckley at the top of the tree. There’ll be a 20-minute discussion on whether to do so.

11:30am – Health and Children – Paddy Burke, the HSE’s Assistant National Director, visits room 2 to discuss a matter which is regularly raised at constituency level and on the doorsteps: the delays in processing medical card applications.

11:30am – European Union Affairs – Aside from yesterday’s summit in Brussels, there’s some other stuff going on: Lucinda Creighton pops in to brief members on the outcomes of April’s general affairs EU council, and to offer a preview of the June meeting.

11:36am – Motion re Transfer of Passenger Name Records Between Ireland and the U.S.A. – The justice committee last week debated (and approved) plans to exchange the names of air passengers between security forces in the US and Ireland, which is falling into line with the broader EU in doing so. TDs discuss the plans for 20 minutes before signing off on it themselves.

11:45am – Statements and Questions and Answers on the 2012 Sports Capital Programme – It’s a light day in the Seanad until later, so Michael Ring will pop in for a few hours to take questions on sports spending for the year.

11:56am – Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2012 (to conclude) – Debate resumes on Phil Hogan’s legislation which, by and large, gives legal security to the standing of local government off-shoot authorities.

12:00pm – Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement – This week’s hearing in Room 4 has two legs to it: the first session at noon will see the Human Rights Consortium brief members on the practical difficulties of introducing a citizens’ bill of rights for people living in Northern Ireland, while at 12:45pm Fiona Gilligan from Safefood Ireland will give members an overview of the general work of cross-border bodies.

12:30pm – Electricity Regulation (Carbon Revenue Levy) (Amendment) Bill 2012 (all stages) – There’s a housekeeping piece of legislation from Pat Rabbitte to conclude the day, which by its enactment will almost complete the process of energy deregulation. The bill provides for the removal of the carbon tax from electricity by December 2012, removing an artificial ceiling on electricity prices so that it’s easier for companies to compete against each other. The legislation will be totally wrapped up by 3:42pm, and sent to the Seanad later today.

2:15pm – Foreign Affairs and Trade – Today’s Africa Day, so Room 1 will play host to six African ambassadors, namely those from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Lesotho, South Africa, Morocco and Kenya, the latter also being the Dean of the African Ambassadors.

3:42pm – Topical Issues – Four burning issues get 12 minutes’ airing in the Dáil…

4:30pm – Questions (Minister for Education and Skills) – …before Ruairí Quinn ends the lower house’s week with questions on making school uniforms cheaper, the fall in literacy standards, the status of the FÁS-Solas changeover and internal reviews to save money

5:00pm – Electricity Regulation (Carbon Revenue Levy) (Amendment) Bill 2012 (all stages) – The legislation to cut the carbon levy is put through the Seanad, with two hours at maximum to discuss it…

7:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – …when at 7pm, if not earlier, three daily issues are discussed to bring an end to the week.

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