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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Oireachtas agenda: Abortion Bill, EU presidency, extra funding

Two Government departments, and two state bodies, are seeking extra funding in today’s business at Leinster House.

Clare Daly's Bill to allow abortions under the terms of the X Case ruling will be debated this evening.
Clare Daly's Bill to allow abortions under the terms of the X Case ruling will be debated this evening.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

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, the Seanad and in the various Oireachtas committees today.

DÁIL

Leo Varadkar will fill the daily slot for ministerial questions at 2pm.

Enda Kenny will take questions directly relating to the Taoiseach‘s brief at 3:36pm, right after the more improvised Leaders’ Questions at 3:15pm.

Four Topical Issues will be discussed at 5:06pm, after which TDs will debate legislation to reform the Dáil constituencies – so you can expect a few of them to support the bill while cribbing about changes to their own home turf.

The day ends with 90 minutes of debate on Clare Daly’s Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) (No. 2) Bill 2012 – an amended version of the legislation first presented in April, changed to incorporate some of James Reilly’s feedback. That’ll be debated from 7.30pm to 9pm, with a similar debate tomorrow before a vote is called at 9pm tomorrow night.

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

SEANAD

There’s two substantive matters up for discussion in the upper house: a motion condemning the use of sexual violence in conflict, which will be debated at 3.45pm, and legislation to set up a new National Vetting Bureau (replacing Garda vetting for those working with children) for two hours from 5pm. Seanad proceedings can be watched here.

COMMITTEES

In a busy day, there’s also seven committee meetings taking place:

  • At 2:30pm, the Agriculture, Food and Marine committee will continue debating amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which aims to curb animal abuses but which is seen by some as being impotent. (Watch here.)
  • At 4:15pm, the committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht will meet the incoming chair of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Anna Ní Ghallchóir, and Paddy McGuinness who is the incoming chair of the Western Development Commission (and, according to weekend reports, one of Enda Kenny’s closest friends). (Watch here.)
  • At 2pm, EU affairs minister Lucinda Creighton will update the EU Affairs Committee on the planning and priorities for Ireland’s presidency of the Council of the EU, which begins five weeks from today. (Watch here.)
  • At 6pm, James Reilly will appear before the Health sub-committee to debate proposed amendments to the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2012, which gives legal effect to a ‘risk equalisation’ system for health insurance. This will see a levy applied to all health insurance policies, which will be collected by the Health Insurance Authority and distributed to insurers to help them cover the higher costs of covering older and more vulnerable clients. The scheme hopes to keep costs at a general flat-rate for clients of all ages. (Watch here.)
  • The Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will meet in two sessions. The first, at 1:30pm, will see ministers Ruairí Quinn and Richard Bruton talk about the ‘skills mismatch’ between the skills employers want to see from Irish graduates and those they get in colleges. Richard Bruton will be back at 4pm to seek ‘supplementary estimates’ (i.e. extra Budget funding) for his Department. (Watch here.)
  • The Committee on Justice, Equality and Reform is also meeting twice: first at 2pm where Alan Shatter will seek ‘supplementary estimates’ for the Garda and courts budgets; and at 3pm when he’ll brief members on next week’s monthly meeting of EU Justice ministers in Brussels. (Watch here.)
  • Finally, the Transport, Tourism and Sport sub-committee will meet at 4:45pm where junior transport Alan Kelly, filling in for Varadkar, will present a request for ‘supplementary estimates’ for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. (Watch here.)

TheJournal.ie’s One to watch:

This evening’s Dáil debate on Clare Daly’s revised Bill – which aims to legislate for abortions within the scope of the X Case ruling – will almost certainly be the most emotive issue discussed today. With a junior minister having yesterday called for a ‘free vote’ on any abortion laws, we may see government TDs – emboldened by today’s publication of the Expert Group report – expressing frustration with the speed of the government’s response.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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