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, Seanad and various Oireachtas committees today.
Wednesdays usually begin with Leaders’ Questions at 10:30am – but at the time of writing we weren’t sure if Enda Kenny was going to make it, given that the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is down for the morning and the pair are holding a press conference just after 11am.
That means that even if Kenny himself is around for Leaders’ Questions, someone else will be in the hotseat for the discussion on the rest of the day’s agenda in Order of Business from 11am onwards.
The rest of the day is almost entirely gobbled up by continued debate on the referendum to abolish the Seanad – though no votes on the bill are scheduled for any point over the day.
There’ll be interruptions for lunch at 1:30pm, a batch of questions from Simon Coveney at 2:30pm, debate on four topical issues at 3:45pm, and 90 minutes of discussion on workers’ rights (and whether Labour is protecting them) at 7:30pm, with a vote on that at 9pm.
The day’s Dáil business can all be viewed here.
The usual 75-minute free-for-all Order of Business kicks off the day at 10:30am, with the rest of the morning spent discussing amendments to the Social Welfare Bill, which passed through the Dáil without any such amendment.
At 2:30pm it’s the first outing for the Health (Amendment) Bill, the controversial legislation from the government which changes how private insurers are charged for public beds. Under the new system, private patients will ‘waive’ their right to a public bed – meaning their insurer can be charged up to €1,122 a night.
At 5pm it’s time for some opposition legislation – and another bill from the prolific Feargal Quinn, the Public Health (Availability of Defibrillators) Bill. It requires the owners of particular types of premises or venues to have defibrillators on site, and to have staff trained to use them.
The day wraps up at 7pm with two separate 45-minute debates - the annual act of extending the provisions of the Offences against the State Act and Criminal Justice Amendment Act for another 12 months. They deal with non-jury trials and other things necessary to counter organised crime and dissident republicanism.
The day’s Seanad business can all be viewed here.
Despite the fairly heavy schedule elsewhere in the houses, there are five committees holding public session:
- The Transport and Communications committee begins the day at 9:30- to examine some new EU laws on integration with Moldova, before what could be the day’s most high-profile visit: the Olympic Council and Sports Council pop in to discuss the high-performance review of the Irish performance at last year’s Olympics. (Watch here.)
- The Justice committee also meets at 9:30am when Alan Shatter seeks approval for revised Budget estimates for his own Department, the Gardaí, the prisons and courts services, and the property and regulation authority. (Watch here.)
- At 1pm, the Education committee will discuss plans for the Church of Ireland teacher education school, and receive officials from SUSI to discuss last year’s grants debacle and what might be done to avert next year’s crisis. (Watch here.)
- At 4:30pm the Finance committee hears from Brendan Howlin about the latest update on the planned sale of state assets, and an update on Ireland’s actual spending for the first quarter of 2013 and how it compares to the original plans. (Watch here.)
- Finally, the Public Service Oversight and Petitions committee meets at 4pm in a first – when it brings in a member of the public to discuss a petition they’ve submitted. Thomas Walshe will meet officials from the Dept of Social Protection and the INOU to discuss his petition on the Back to Education Allowance Scheme. (Watch here.)
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