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No honeymoon period for new government as Dáil set to sit throughout July

There could be four or five day Dáil weeks on the cards for some politicians.

The new government will work through July in order to pass legislation and produce the July stimulus package.
The new government will work through July in order to pass legislation and produce the July stimulus package.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

THE DÁIL USUALLY rises for the summer in mid-July, but this year will be different.

There will be no honeymoon period for the new government, with the Dáil expected to sit for most of July in order to continue dealing with the public health emergency as well as producing the government’s jobs stimulus plan.

The Dáil Business Committee met last week to discuss arrangements, and there was consensus that the House would have to meet throughout July. Politicians will get August off, but should be back at their desks after the first week of September.

The cutting short of the summer break was first floated in May by former Taoiseach, now Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar.

He told TheJournal.ie: 

“I think everyone in the country is going to want to take their annual leave at some point, including politicians, notwithstanding the very strange political scenario we have seen for the last four months.”

“I can guarantee you that TDs and senators from government and opposition have been working very hard. 

“I certainly don’t think it would be possible to have the summer recess in mid-July which would be the norm. If we can form a new government by the end of June that new government will have some work to do in July, not least dealing with Covid, but also some legislation that needs to be passed,” he said.

Not only will politicians be working through the summer, but the working week is set to be extended for some. 

The Dáil is set to meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Meanwhile the Dáil Special Covid-19 Committee is set to meet every Tuesday morning and all-day Friday for all of July.

If the schedule fills up, it has been suggested that the Dáil may have to also sit on Mondays.

It is understood that while there has been suggestions that the majority of committees will not be up and running until September, moves are afoot to get the Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Budget Scrutiny up and running before August.

This week is the first sitting in which Leaders Questions will be held, so expect some barbs between Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Taoiseach Micheál Martin who will be going up against each other for the first time.

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The Dáil is due to sit on Leinster House on Tuesday, with sittings to be held in the Convention Centre on Wednesday and Thursday so that social distancing rules can be adhered to when votes are held.

Such sittings in the Convention Centre cost €25,000 each day, though the initial fit out cost over €100,000.

There will be no questions for ministers this week, but they will take place the following week.

Legislation to support SMEs is before the Dáil this week, as are more supplementary estimates for a number of departments. Sinn Féin has private members’ time where they will raise the issue of affordable housing.

The Special Covid-19 Committee has a busy schedule, and is set to hear from the Central Bank, the NTMA, as well as continuing its work on the reopening of schools by hearing from school principals.

On Friday, the committee will focus on the meat industry and the outbreaks of the virus at processing plants.

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