The Dáil has started its first full term with a new schedule, including sittings on first Fridays. Legislation required under the EU-IMF deal continues to progress through the Oireachtas.
The Dáil is currently in its first session under the new reforms, devised by the Government. Among the changes are Leaders’ Questions now occurring three days a week, first Fridays sittings, longer sittings and a revamped adjournment debate format (now called topical issues). In the last innovation, a relevant Minister debates a topic chosen by a deputy. Both speakers have two slots.
On 7 October the first ‘first Friday’ sitting occurred. Fridays are being devoted to private member’s bills (in addition to the regular private member’s slot) but no votes take place. That day, Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín introduced a Bill to reform the joint labour committee system, which was not opposed by the Government at second stage. Twenty-six TDs contributed during the three-hour debate: 14 opposition members and 12 from the Government side.
October saw the enactment of legislation relating to the EU-IMF deal and the euro zone crisis. The second Road Traffic Bill to be enacted this year legislates for the use of mandatory alcohol testing at lower drink driving limits. The Insurance Act 2011 will extend the scope of the insurance compensation fund from covering the risks of policyholders of Irish insurance companies to all insured risk in the State (except for specific risks).
An 11-member Seanad Public Consultation Committee was launched by the Seanad (under its standing orders) on 5 October with the aim of opening access to the upper chamber and its work. It will specify the legislative powers of the Seanad and invite submissions from the public about them.
Among the committee meetings in October was one by the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee about changing the culture of Irish banking, attended by members of the Irish Bank Officials Association.
With daylight saving time being prepared for hibernation, Fine Gael’s David Stanton raised the practice of Ireland adjusting the clocks twice a year during a topical debate on 26 October. In his speech, the Cork East TD explained that the benefits to Ireland extending summer time would be increased road safety, less energy consumption and carbon emissions and the alignment of business hours with the rest of the EU.
In response, Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who is responsible for the Winter Time Order 2001, said his department was monitoring developments in the UK, where a private member’s Bill (on examining the costs and benefits of advancing time by an hour for all or part of the year) is progressing through the House of Commons.
Shatter said Ireland would have to be mindful of the UK’s decision (he said it was in Ireland’s interest to have the same time zone as Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK) and EU attitudes to any proposal. The Minister had no plans to change the current time zone arrangements.
|20 October||Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) Act 2011|
|20 October||Road Traffic (No. 2) Act 2011|
|30 September||Insurance (Amendment) Act 2011|
|23 September||European Financial Stability Facility and Euro Area Loan Facility (Amendment) Act 2011|
|Bills before the Oireachtas|
|Dáil||Access to Central Treasury Funds (Commission for Energy
Regulation) Bill 2011
|Dáil||Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Bill 2011||Second|
|Dáil||Construction Contracts Bill 2010||Second|
|Dáil||Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2008||Second|
|Dáil||Health (Provision of General Practitioner Services) Bill 2011||Second (resumed)|
|Dáil||Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011||Second (resumed)|
|Dáil||Central Bank (Supervisions and Enforcement) Bill 2011||Committee|
|Dáil||Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) and Remuneration Bill
|Dáil||Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2011||Committee|
|Dáil||National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2011||Committee|
|Dáil||Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill 2011||Committee|
|Dáil||Criminal Law (Defence and Dwelling) Bill 2010||Committee|
|Dáil||Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2010||Committee|
|Dáil||Patents (Amendment) Bill 2011||Order for Report|
|Dáil||Tribunal of Inquiry Bill 2005||Order for Report|
|Dáil||Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009||Order for Report|
|Seanad||Nurses and Midwives Bill 2011||Second|
|Seanad||Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2008||Second|
|Seanad||Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011||Committee|
|Seanad||Coroners Bill 2007||Committee|
|Seanad||Qualification and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill 2011||Committee|
|Dáil private member’s motions|
|Date||Private member’s motions||Outcome|
|4-5 October||Against any further closures of army barracks
|7 October||Industrial relations (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2011
|Not opposed at 2nd stage|
|Reverse cuts to funding of community and voluntary
sector (Sinn Féin)
|Debt Settlement and Mortgage Resolution Office Bill
2011 (Fianna Fáil)
|Not opposed at 2nd stage|
|Reverse hospital cuts and don’t cut health budget in
2012 (Technical Group)
|Maintain current social welfare rates and insure self-employed people against unemployment (Fianna Fáil)||Defeated: 79-36|
|12 October||Introduce plan to make the 116 000 hotline for missing children operational (Fine Gael)||Accepted|
|12 October||Criminalise the purchase of sex to curb exploitation (Katharine Zappone, Ind)||Defeated: 29-13|
|18 October||Against further closures of army barracks (Fianna Fáil)||Defeated: 32-16|
|26 October||Greater international pressure against gendercide (Rónán Mullen, Ind)||Defeated: 28-9|