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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 24 April, 2014

Oireachtas agenda: Will the Seanad put the brakes on the Budget?

While the Seanad votes on welfare cuts and PRSI hikes, the Dáil holds its final debates on the new property tax.

The very future of the Seanad could be skewed if the chamber today votes to put a roadblock on the Social Welfare Bill.
The very future of the Seanad could be skewed if the chamber today votes to put a roadblock on the Social Welfare Bill.

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

Frances Fitzgerald gets the ball rolling at 2pm with Questions to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs at 2pm, followed by Leaders’ Questions at 3:15pm and ministerial Questions to the Taoiseach at about 3:40pm.

At 6pm debate continues on the legislation behind the Property Tax, where opposition amendments will be discussed until 11pm when a final vote on passing the legislation will be held.

There’s a 90-minute interruption at 7:30pm to debate a motion from Waterford independent John Halligan, backed by the technical group, calling for free GP coverage for carers, the reversal of the cut to the Respite Care Grant, and to afford statutory cover like minimum wages to carers.

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

SEANAD

The Seanad gets going with general discussion on the Order of Business – which gives members a chance to raise pretty much anything they want- at 12:30pm, before wrapping up their consideration of new rules for professional medical bodies at 1:45pm, and an expanded Europol at 2:30pm.

Debate on the Social Welfare Bill begins at 3pm – in what is likely to be one of the most closely-watched Seanad debates in years. Four Labour senators are thought to be uneasy about voting for the Bill (or at least for the cut to respite care grants), and are set to meet Joan Burton today to discuss their reservations.

The Government’s majority in the Seanad, assuming all non-party members side with the opposition, is only 31-28 – so the defection of two senators could defeat the Bill and put a 90-day roadblock on the Budget. The vote, at 5:30pm, will make for interesting viewing.

Once that’s done, members will debate the extension of the emergency powers under the Credit Institutions Stabilisation Act 2010, giving extra powers to the Minister for Finance until 2014, with a vote at 6:30pm.

Seanad proceedings can be watched here.

COMMITTEES

There are four public committee meetings today:

  • At 2pm the Agriculture committee resumes its lengthy discussions on reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy, with reps from the Environmental Pillar, but before that there’ll be a discussion on how to promote healthy eating and lifestyles. Watch here.
  • The Environment committee will scrutinise proposals for new EU laws on when environmental assessment impact studies are required before a development can go ahead. Watch here.
  • At 2:15pm the Turkish minister for European affairs, Egemen Bagis, will meet the EU Affairs committee to discuss the status of Turkey’s bid for EU membership and to exchange views with the committee. Watch here.
  • The Jobs committee meets at 1:30pm to scrutinise new European auditing and accounting standards, with input from the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority, before having a general meet-and-greet with that body’s incoming chairman, Brendan Walsh. Watch here.

TheJournal.ie‘s one to watch

The Seanad discussion on the Social Welfare Bill will be the first we hear from some of the disaffected Labour senators who have issues with the legislation – of the four senators with difficulties, only James Heffernan has spoken out thus far.

The big vote at 5:30pm could be a tipping point for the very future of the Seanad – the Government wants rid of the second House of the Oireachtas, but public feeling about saving it could be rescued if the Seanad manages to put a 90-day hold on some of the Budget’s most controversial and unpopular measures.

Read: Seanad vote could delay Budget’s welfare cuts by three months

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