Today in Leinster House: October 23, 2012

ASIDE FROM THE inevitable fallout from Frau Merkel’s comments last Friday lunchtime in Brussels, this week will be unusually dominated by the Public Accounts Committee – the toothsome Dáil committee which is meeting no fewer than three times this week. It’s keeping an eye on allowances paid at various levels (including, today, to politicians. Ho hum!).

1:30pm – Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation – The day begins as Tuesdays do, though – in Room 2. The committee is meeting Enterprise Ireland to discuss the impact of its micro-enterprise schemes, and the ways in which it might supplant the roles of local authorities and county enterprise boards. EI will be themselves joined by the SFA and ISME to discuss the impact.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government) – Phil Hogan begins the Dáil week by answering oral questions on council reforms, the ability of councils to set their own property tax rates, the future of the RAPID scheme, and the merger of Waterford’s city and county councils.

2:00pm – Public Accounts Committee – The first of the PAC meetings (all of which are in committee room 1, by the way) will see the matter that may have most TDs squirming most. The PAC’s focus this week is on the recent review of public service allowances – but the first of today’s two sessions is a review of something else: political allowances. Figures from the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and the Dept of Public Expenditure and Reform, which funds the allowances, will be on hand.

2:00pm – Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine – There’s no fewer than nine EU legislative proposals to be discussed in Room 3, after which representatives from Teagasc and the cattle breeders’ federation discuss the role of farm management IT systems.

2:15pm – Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht – Ensuring that all four committee rooms are in use at once, the environment committee takes to room 4 to discuss an interim report of the NESC secretariat on Ireland’s move towards a new national climate policy. After that, there’s a comprehensive discussion of last week’s proposals to splice and dice the country’s local councils.

2:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad’s day begins with a 75-minute debate on… everything.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – Enda Kenny steps up for the main event of the day, taking whatever questions the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the technical group have to offer. No doubt last week’s events in Brussels will be high on the agenda.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – After the oral barbs have been thrown, there’s written questions on subjects including appointments to state boards (and gender balance), and the application of FOI requests in his department.

3:45pm – Statements and Q&A on Junior Cert Reform and the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy – The sole item on the Seanad’s agenda for the day is the visit of Ruairí Quinn to discuss two of his major policy planks since coming into office: his national literacy and numeracy plans, and the reform of the Junior Cert. He’ll be there for two hours of statements and inquiries.

4:00pm – Public Accounts Committee – The second part of the PAC’s meeting (still in Room 1) will discuss civil service allowances. Again, there’ll be officials from Brendan Howlin’s Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to offer their thoughts.

4:36pm – Order of Business – TDs agree to the day’s agenda.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Four topical issues are discussed for four minutes apiece…

5:45pm – Matters on the Adjournment – …while three daily matters are mentioned in the Seanad before the day ends there.

5:54pm – Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2008 (Seanad amendments); Europol Bill 2012 (second stage) – There’s not a whole lot of time left over to discuss any legislation, but there’s two little bits to be taken care of: firstly, a couple of small Seanad amendments to a bill which expands the role of the Ombudsman. Once that’s done, there’ll be some open-ended discussion on legislation which would sign Ireland up to a new expanded European association of police forces. Europol already exists, but this bill would allow the Gardaí to be part of a more reinforced, broader services.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil] – Motion re Statutory Sick Pay – The last item of the day is a Fianna Fáil motion which, put simply, calls on the government to drop its plans which would see employers (rather than the government) responsible for the payment of some sick pay to injured or ill employees. The debate will continue until 9pm and pick up again tomorrow.

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