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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019
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Oireachtas agenda: Horse burgers, promissory notes and music rights

Simon Coveney will take questions on the horse DNA scandal as the Dáil debates whether to bin the promissory notes.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

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 and various Oireachtas committees today.

DÁIL

The day begins at 2pm with Phil Hogan taking Dáil Questions to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government as a prelude to Leaders’ Questions at 3:15pm and written Questions to the Taoiseach at 3:36pm.

Following the usual discussion of the day’s agenda (4:36pm) and an examination of four of the day’s Topical Issues (5:06pm), it’s back to more debate on the National Lottery Bill – which creates a new independent Lottery regulator ahead of the proposed sale of the National Lottery licence (partly to fund the construction of the National Children’s Hospital).

The final business of the day, at 7:30pm, is a Technical Group motion on the promissory note – and, specifically, demanding that the government not repay it. More details on that can be read here. Debate on the motion will wrap up at 9pm and resume tomorrow evening.

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

SEANAD

There’s two major items on the agenda today, after the preliminary discussion on the day’s agenda (Order of Business, 2:30pm).

The first is debate on opposition amendments to the Spent Convictions Bill - legislation which would allow people to have minor offences wiped off their criminal record if they don’t re-offend within a certain period of time. That’ll kick off at 3:45pm and should only take an hour at maximum.

At 4:45pm, then, there’s an usual bit of housekeeping. Often, attendance for the Seanad Order of Business can be pretty low – regularly because of the fact that it regularly clashes with meetings of Oireachtas committees, forcing some members to choose between one or the other.

Four of the university senators – David Norris and Seán Barrett from TCD, and Feargal Quinn and Rónán Mullen from NUI – have proposed a change to Seanad rules declaring that Order of Business should take priority in a member’s diary over any committee business. No guillotine will be enforced – the debate will take as long as it takes.

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

COMMITTEES

There are three public meetings today:

  • At 1:30pm the Jobs committee hears from Richard Bruton on recent changes to the various business support structures for small business, and also debates four new proposals for European laws – one of which relates to music licensing, and which therefore could attract worthy attention. (Watch here.)
  • It’s a big moment for the Agriculture committee at 2pm, which will meet to hear from Simon Coveney and the Food Safety Authority on the latest developments in the ‘horse burgers’ scandal, including yesterday’s disclosure of 75% horse meat in another Polish beef product. See ‘one to watch’ below. (Watch here.)
  • At 5pm, meanwhile, the Health committee hears from James Reilly to discuss amendments to the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill – which brings Ireland into line with ECJ rulings on minimum cigarette pricing, as well as giving the Minister for Health the power to issue new rules on tobacco marketing and advertising. (Watch here.)

TheJournal.ie‘s one to watch

Though the Dáil discussion of promissory notes will naturally attract attention, the important business – an actual vote – won’t take place until tomorrow. Therefore, it’s the Agriculture committee’s hearing on the horse DNA scandal (2pm, watch here) that will attract the most attention.

This is the first time that the Agriculture committee will have had the chance to discuss the scandal of horse DNA being found in beef burgers, and the meeting comes only hours after Coveney called for Garda help after a Polish beef product was found to have 75 per cent horsemeat.

Undoubtedly there’ll be a lot of focus on the ongoing tests in Poland too. Five out of six Polish plants who export to Ireland have tested negative; the sixth set of results is due today, and all eyes will be on whether the test is positive – identifying the plant involved – or negative, raising further questions.

There’s also another subplot to the meeting: the committee’s chairman Andrew Doyle is the man considered most likely to be appointed to the junior ministry in the Department of Agriculture left as a result of the untimely death of Shane McEntee. If Doyle has ambitions on the job, he’ll need to ensure that the committee gets the answers it needs – but not come across as unfairly inquisitive on Coveney either, lest he burn his bridges with his boss-to-be.

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Gavan Reilly

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