Michael Brennan: All eyes on Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and John Halligan as Dail resumes – Comment, Opinion – Independent.ie
THE Dail returns today after its eight week summer break – and it won’t be boring.
They had been told by the Leinster House authorities to apologise for their part in a confrontation with Mr Barrett at the end of the last Dail term.
They have vowed not to apologise – so all TDs will be watching to see what happens if Mr Flanagan or Mr Halligan seek Mr Barrett’s permission to speak in the chamber.
But that will be just a side issue compared to the live political controversies that are going to cause plenty of early headaches for the Government.
The opposition already had the property tax and the motion of no confidence in Health Minister Dr James Reilly to keep them busy.
Then they were given an unexpected bonus when one of the Government’s own junior ministers put the spotlight on “well off” pensioners.
So Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have even more briefing material than usual in his folder when he stands up for Leader’s Questions in the Dail at 3.15pm.
The motion of no confidence in Dr Reilly will be easily defeated by the Government, given its massive majority. But what will be interesting to see is how much public support he gets from Government backbenchers.
Dr Reilly will be hoping that the Seanad quickly passes a vital piece of legislation this week to require pharmacists to offer patients lower priced generic drugs instead of the more expensive branded drugs. He is due in the Seanad tomorrow as the Health Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods Bill goes through its final stages.
The Dail also has to deal with a bill this week to improve the vetting procedures for teachers, sports coaches, youth workers and other people in contact with children. Expect plenty of debate about the measures in the bill to allow state bodies share “soft information” – where someone has been investigated for suspected child abuse but not convicted.
If you are to believe the Leinster House authorities, the public are now watching the Dail in greater numbers than ever.We don’t have any audience figures but Cable TV operator UPC has now moved its Dail TV service to channel 207. It used to be was less visible on the TV guide on Channel 801.
But it won’t be just the public who are watching today – the European Commission and the IMF will also be keeping a keen eye on the Dail make sure that the conditions of the bailout are met.