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Oireachtas agenda: Mobility grant, Seanad reform and social media abuse

The Communications committee this morning begins debate on how to respond to the abuse of social media.

Image: Social media photo via Shutterstock

WHAT ARE OUR politicians doing in the halls of Leinster House? lets you know with our guide to what’s coming up to the Dáil, Seanad and various Oireachtas committees today.


The marquee event of Leaders’ Questions kicks off at 10:30am, with 30 minutes devoted to agreeing the day’s agenda afterward before the rest of the day begins at about 11:30am.

The day’s timetable is in relative flux, but the following three Bills are slated to be discussed:

They’re discussed until 1:30pm (the lunch break) and resume discussion between 4:33pm and 7:30pm. In that period, there’ll be Questions to the Minister for Justice at 2:30pm and debate on four topical issues at 3:45pm.

At 7:30pm debate resumes on Fianna Fáil’s motion which calls on the government to use its VHI shareholding to renegotiate consultants’ fees. A vote will be taken at 9pm.

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


The Seanad’s day also begins at 10:30am, with 75 minutes of debate on the day’s agenda. At 11:45am members will set aside three hours to debate (and presumably approve) the changes to the property tax system.

Frances Fitzgerald pops over at 3pm to discuss the economic benefits of early intervention in children, while at 5pm there’ll be two hours of discussion on John Crown’s proposals to reform Seanad elections (which the government oppose, as it plans to abolish the chamber anyway).

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

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Five committees hold public sessions today. Here they are in the order they take place:

  • The Transport and Communications committee starts at 9:30am to discuss the challenges through the irresponsible use of social media. It’s going to be a long-running theme; Pat Rabbitte and officials from the Office of Internet Safety will be present. (See ‘one to watch’ below; watch here.)
  • The Finance sub-committee will begin a lengthy few days’ work at 10am: it’s discussing the Finance Bill, which gives legal effect to the Budget, and has to approve every individual section of the Bill. (Watch here.)
  • The Education and Social Protection committee meets at 1:30pm to discuss poverty with the European Anti-Poverty Network, and again at 2:30pm when Ruairí Quinn visits to discuss the relationship between the education agenda and Budget 2013. (Watch here.)
  • At 2:30pm the Foreign Affairs committee hears from officials in the ‘Irish Abroad’ unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs, to discuss the second Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh and the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States. (Watch here.)
  • Finally, at 4pm, the Public Service Oversight and Petitions committee revisits the controversial topic of the mobility allowance. The chief civil servant at the Department of Health, Ambrose McLoughlin, will discuss the rationale behind the decision to scrap the allowance last week. The CEO and chairman of the Centre for Independent Living will later give evidence. (Watch here.)‘s one to watch

The discussions on social media that begin at 9:30am will be an interesting few days of viewing. Today’s first session with Pat Rabbitte could flesh out the minister’s earlier pledges to introduce legislation to clamp down on the misuse of social media.

Of particular interest will be how legislation could be applied on such a global medium as the internet, and also whether Ireland could be better served by doing a better job of enforcing the legislation that already exists around malicious communications.

Spokespersons from Twitter and Facebook will join the meetings tomorrow.

Explainer: How does a Bill become a law?

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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