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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 8 July, 2020
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Oireachtas agenda: Alcohol sponsorship, court reporting and animal welfare

Representatives from three of the country’s most prominent sports bodies will discuss banning alcohol sponsorship today.

Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

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, Seanad and various Oireachtas committees today.

DÁIL

The all-guns-blazing oratorical drama of Leaders’ Questions kicks off at 10:30am, with 30 minutes set aside afterwards to agree to the day’s agenda.

Just before 11:30am there’ll be a session of statements to discuss the last European Council, which adopted a series of conclusions on strengthening the EU’s campaign for job creation, and on ‘deepening’ the economic and monetary union between Eurozone members.

At 12:35pm (or thereabouts) members kick off their last discussion on legislation to enforce permanent changes to the motor taxation system, in line with the Budget. This is likely to wrap up just in time for lunch at 1:30pm.

Leo Varadkar is in to take Questions to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport after lunch at 2:30pm, and discussion of four topical issues at 3:45pm.

At 4:33pm there’ll be more discussion on motor tax (if needed) before moving on to the final stages of the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which aims to introduce new standards for animal safety, and on which a vote will be taken at 7:30pm.

The last matter of the day comes up at 7:30pm, when debate resumes on Fianna Fáil’s motion calling for the creation of an independent authority – as part of the new insolvency regime – that can make binding orders on how to deal with mortgages. A vote, at 9pm, will end the day.

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

SEANAD

The Seanad’s day kicks off at 10:30am with the usual 75-minute plenary debate on the day’s agenda, but then breaks until 2pm when there is two hours of debate on changing the eligibility criteria for medical cards for the over-70s.

At 4pm there’ll be discussion on a motion from Fiach Mac Conghail and the independent Taoiseach’s nominees, which deals with the absence of a central register for non-profits and seeks an update on government plans to enforce financial reporting standards for them.

When that’s done at 6pm, there’ll be discussion on the new Courts Bill 2013 – which liberalises the court reporting regime and removes restrictions on the coverage of some family law cases. Currently there is a near-blanket ban on reporting such cases; this bill proposes to relax them.

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

COMMITTEES

Five different committees hold public sessions today:

  • The Transport and Communications deals with one of the many issues that caused friction within the government while Roisin Shortall was at the Department of Health: alcoholic sponsorship of sporting events. (See ‘One to watch’ below; watch here.)
  • At 11:30am the Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence will discuss the proposed introduction of a European standard to change the rules governing exactly which country someone can declare bankruptcy in, if they have liabilities in more than one state. (Watch here.)
  • The Education and Social Protection discusses bullying at 1pm when it discusses the development of ‘whole school’ approaches to tackling it, with Departmental officials and figures from Amnesty’s Children’s Mental Health Coalition. After that, it hears from Arthritis Ireland about how to address the costs of absenteeism as a result of arthritis and other muscoskeletal diseases. (Watch here.)
  • Brendan Howlin visits the sub-committee on Public Expenditure and Reform at 2pm to discuss amendments to the National Lottery Bill, which creates a new lottery regulator ahead of the planned sale of the lottery licence to a private bidder later this year. (watch here.)
  • Finally,  the committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions gets together at 5pm to consider the latest petitions submitted by members of the public. (Watch here.)

TheJournal.ie‘s One to Watch

As mentioned above, one of the main splits in the early days of the Fine Gael and Labour government was Roisin Shortall’s plan to ban the sponsorship of sporting events by alcoholic companies. Leo Varadkar, whose department covers sport, was against the idea as it could lower the overall investment in sport.

This morning, representatives from the IRFU, the GAA and the FAI all attend to offer their thoughts on how banning alcohol sponsorship would affect them.

Each naturally has a lot at stake: the IRFU’s four provinces all consider the Heineken Cup as a chief target, while the GAA could argue that it would be difficult to substitute Guinness’s sponsorship of the All-Ireland Hurling Championships.

The FAI would be less apparently effected at top level (though the only silverware ever won by the national senior team was the Carling Nations Cup…) – but the moves could have effects on the game at grassroots level, if individual clubs are forced to drop longstanding sponsorship.

Each, meanwhile, will no doubt face questions on how they can claim to encourage athleticism and bodily integrity while their main competitions all carry the logos of alcohol companies. It should make for an interesting morning.

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Gavan Reilly

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