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Oireachtas agenda: Dáil to debate social welfare 'amnesty'

Sinn Féin wants to make it legally possible for someone to declare a welfare overpayment without penalty.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh has tabled legislation allowing a 'social welfare amnesty' where people can admit an overpayment without penalty.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh has tabled legislation allowing a 'social welfare amnesty' where people can admit an overpayment without penalty.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/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.

Today’s the first Friday of the parliamentary month – and that means the day is devoted to discussing two pieces of legislation submitted by government backbenchers or by members of the opposition parties.

Because there was no chance to debate any opposition legislation in December (with the first week of the month also being Budget week) there are two opposition pieces being discussed today.

At 10:30am, the first is the Social Welfare (Amnesty) Bill 2012, tabled by Sinn Féin’s social protection spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh. This legislation aims to encourage people who may have been beneficiaries of a welfare overpayment to come forward and declare it.

Anyone who has received an irregular payment – presumbly through no fault of their own – would be able to have that payment corrected without any sanction or penalisation that could result in a repayment bigger than the amount they incorrectly got.

The second bill, debated at 1:30pm, is the Education (Resource Allocation) Bill 2012 from Fianna Fáil’s Charlie McConalogue. That bill echoes the contents of the party’s defeated motion yesterday, and would require the Minister for Education to publish an annual study detailing the impact that any educational cutbacks will have.

This would specifically include details of the names of schools affected, and an explicit statement of the impact that each change might have on a named school.

The proposals would also set up an appeals mechanism where a school principal is entitled to appeal a decision to cut resources.

If the government opposes either Bill, it will demand a vote at the conclusion of second stage (at 1:30pm in the first case and at 4:30pm in the second case). In either case, however, a vote won’t actually take place until Tuesday afternoon.

Explainer: How does a Bill become a law?

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Gavan Reilly

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