Today in Leinster House: September 25, 2012

IT’S A FOUR-DAY week in the Dáil this week, as the children’s rights referendum dominates proceedings – but there’s still other bits and pieces worthy of attention.

1:30pm – Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation – Getting the ball rolling, Committee Room 2 plays host to a debate on proposed EU rules to simplify the management of losses when investments go belly-up, before discussing the Irish export sector – and particularly how other sectors could follow the lead of the booming drinks industry.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine) – The Dáil’s week might be dominated by the referendum, but it begins with the more routine matters of parliamentary questions. Simon Coveney is up first, to discuss new entrants to the Agri Environment Options Scheme, the impact of adverse weather on grain yields, and the position on licensing hay for use in agriculture.

2:15pm – Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht – Given the extreme weather in some parts of Ireland today, the topic in Room 4 is an important one: Michael Kemp, CEO of the Irish Insurance Federation, will discuss the difficulties that some people have in getting home insurance, simply because they live in areas prone to extreme weather.

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad’s week, albeit much shorter, also begins with the usual mundanities of the 75-minute free-for-all discussion.

2:15pm – Committee on European Union Affairs – European Commission vice-president Viviane Reading is the highest-profile guest of the day; she’ll be in Committee Room 1 to discuss the Future of Europe.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – Tuesdays mean Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and the technical group lob the usual unscripted grenades at Enda Kenny…

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – …before dealing with slightly more sedate questioning on meetings with leaders in Northern Ireland, and meetings of the cabinet sub-committees on health and mortgage arrears.

3:45pm – Statements on Homophobic Bullying – Kathleen Lynch gets the Seanad’s week underway with a debate on bullying against non-heterosexuals, and how it can be tackled.

4:00pm – Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence – Members of the panel who are selecting the members of the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Authority pop into Room 3 to brief members on their progress.

4:36pm – Order of Business – TDs are allotted 30 minutes to decide on their day’s agenda, which ought not to take very long given the singular nature of the agenda…

5:06pm – Topical Issues – …before allotting 12 minutes to each of four newsworthy issues which will be discussed by ministers.

5:54pm – 31st Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2012 (second stage) – And so begins the biggest item of the week: the debate on the fourth (!) ’31st Amendment’ Bill, which would insert a constitutional guarantee of the rights of the child.

6:00pm – Statements on the Humanitarian Crisis Arising from the Conflict in Syria – Having debated homophobic bullying, attention turns to another grave issue: the humanitarian crisis developing as a result of the basically-a-civil-war in Syria. Joe Costello, the minister responsible for foreign aid, will lead matters.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Motion re Magdalene Laundries – From one child-sensitive matter to another. Sinn Féin get the private time this week and – barred from questioning James Reilly by the six-month window on identical motions – devote their motion to the difficult subject of child abuse at the Magdalene Laundries. SF’s motion – which comes with the backing of the independents and technical group – would call the State to offer immediate funding for a victims’ helpline, enter a debate about how best to offer justice to the victims, and – most importantly – to offer a formal national apology. Debate continues until 9pm.

7:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – With the Syrian situation discussed, three other topical matters are mentioned before the lights are turned out in the Seanad for the night.

9:00pm – as 5:54pm – Debate resumes on the children’s rights referendum until a halt is called at 10pm.

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