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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 20 December, 2014

Oireachtas agenda: Welfare cuts, HSE bailout and the Seanad’s birthday

James Reilly formally asks for a €360 million HSE bailout today, as the Dáil also debates Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence.

Seanad Éireann first met on December 11, 1922 - 90 years ago today.
Seanad Éireann first met on December 11, 1922 - 90 years ago today.

WHAT ARE OUR politicians doing in the halls of Leinster House?

TheJournal.ie lets you know with our guide to what’s coming up to the Dáil, the Seanad and in the various Oireachtas committees today.

DÁIL

The day kicks off earlier than is customary on a Tuesday, with TDs convening at 11am to formally ratify the spin-off of Shannon Airport from the DAA as of January 1. There’s a maximum two hours allocated for that.

After lunch Alan Shatter takes Questions to the Minister for Justice and Defence, before Leaders’ Questions at 3:15pm and Questions to the Taoiseach shortly after 4:30pm.

The evening is spent discussing two major topics, with the opening debates on the Social Welfare Bill – which gives legal effects to the Budget changes, including the cut to the respite care grant – beginning at 6pm and running right through until 10pm, with a 90-minute break at 7:30pm to debate Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the government. (There’ll be no votes on either until tomorrow, however.)

The day’s Dáil business can all be viewed here.

SEANAD

Today marks the Seanad’s 90th birthday; the upper house of the new Irish Free State met for the first time on December 11, 1922 – only five days after the Irish Free State had come into existence. 30 minutes of statements to mark the anniversary will commence at 1:15pm.

When that’s done, there’ll be general debate on new legislation to tweak the setup of professional bodies for health and social workers (1:45pm), debate on amendments to new laws underpinning the regulation of credit unions (3pm), and a final once-over of the Personal Insolvency Bill (5:30pm).

Seanad proceedings can be watched here.

COMMITTEES

Five committee meetings to tell you about today:

  • The Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine meets at 2:30pm to continue its marathon debates on proposed amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill. (Watch here.)
  • The Environment sub-committee will meet at 2:15pm for a procedural meeting: Phil Hogan will be asking for the princely sum of €1,000 to be added to his Department’s Budget for 2012. The exercise is a technical one, and is merely intended to allow the Department move funds from one area to another to tie things over for the rest of the year. (Watch here.)
  • The EU Affairs Committee will hear from European Movement Ireland on its accountability report for 2011, Ireland’s forthcoming presidency of the Council of the EU, and a general discussion on the European Year of the Citizen 2013.  (Watch here.)
  • The Health sub-committee will get a chance to quiz James Reilly on the HSE’s spending troubles tonight. Reilly formally goes to the committee at 6pm to seek an extra €360 million in Budget funding for 2012 at 6pm. Without the funding, the HSE will have to cut services. (Watch here.)
  • Finally, the Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will meet at 1:30pm, with the Office of Public Works on hand to discuss the difficulties that small firms can have in trying to win contracts for public capital programmes. (Watch here.)

TheJournal.ie‘s one to watch

The evening’s Dáil proceedings are likely to be telling – though it’ll only be after 9pm when we get to hear from government backbenchers on the Social Welfare Bill and the problems they have with it.

Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the Government will be roundly defeated – and in fact could be counter-constructive, as such motions tend to reinforce the allegiance of disaffected backbenchers. (On the other hand, this could be exactly the point: the motion could stop backbenchers from flaking off on the controversial welfare cuts.)

With all of that, therefore, it’ll be interesting to watch the Health sub-committee at 6pm – and hear James Reilly’s take on the HSE spending overrun, and to see how he responds to questions on why the 2012 target couldn’t be met (and how the 2013 target will be even harder).

Read: Irish Free State came into being 90 years ago this week

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