Subscriber OnlyPolitics

The Dail is back and protests signal some of the pressing issues

Inside politics: Pro-lifers vied for space with pro-choicers outside the Dail

The Dail returned yesterday after the summer break, and the political world quickly reset itself into the familiar rhythms of the parliamentary week, with TDs scurrying from committee meetings in the morning to the Dail chamber in the afternoon, constantly interrupted by their mobile phones.

The protests outside the Dail signalled some of the pressing issues that will occupy the House and the Government during the coming political term. Pro-lifers vied for space with pro-choicers, with homeless campaigners stuck in the middle between them.

Mary Minihan's report on the eighth amendment committee is here

Miriam Lord's take on day one is here


Inside the chamber public services dominated the early exchanges of the first session of leaders’ questions since July. The Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin asked about housing and homelessness and then Gerry Adams raised services for people with disabilities. Labour’s Brendan Howlin asked whether the Government was preparing for tax cuts while public services were crying out for investment. The Taoiseach retorted with a firm defence of his plans for tax cuts - though they’ll hardly be McCreevy-esque - in a back-and-forth that you’ll hear many times over the coming weeks.

You'll find reports of yesterday's proceedings in the chamber here, here and here.

But so is Brexit

This morning, Brexit will be centre-stage when Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief pukka wallah on the impending departure of our British cousins from the bosom of the European Union, addresses TDs in the chamber. The European Parliament, of course, must approve any final Brexit deal, and it’s always keen to stress its power in these matters.

Mr Verhofstadt, who has a reputation as an arch-federalist (as the Brits say), spent yesterday in Stormont meeting the Northern parties and then went for a mooch around the border in South Armagh and Monaghan. He suggested Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union and single market post-Brexit as a possible solution to the problems posed by Brexit. Reports here

It would certainly solve the problem of the border, but is an idea yet to find favour with both the British Government and the unionist parties. Of course, there is no government in Stormont to have a view on this. More from Mr Verhofstadt in the chamber at 10.30 this morning.

Ploughing their own furrow

Of course while politicians are required to be in Leinster House, they absolutely have to show their faces at the Ploughing Championships. The Taoiseach will be in Screggan Co Offaly today for the obligatory pictures in wellies, selfies with farmers and potentially dangerous interactions with livestock, beasts of burden and grassroots Fine Gael members.

Apparently, the Fine Gael stand at the ploughing flooded yesterday. They will have to break out the mops for the Taoiseach’s visit – a prospect which caused one backbencher to hail the Republic of Mopportunity. Sorry.

Other engagements today for the Taoiseach include leaders questions in the Dail – though he might hand that one over to Frances Fitzgerald, it being a Thursday – a private meeting with aforementioned Mr Verhofstadt, and the annual black-tie Ibec dinner at the RDS. Never a dull moment, eh?

Best reads

Conor Lally has the important story that broke last night. Sure to come up in the Dail today.

Stephen Collins endorses Micheal Martin's refusal to do business with Sinn Fein – but warns it could cost him the Taoiseach's office

Newton Emerson on the DUP's refusal to concede an Irish language act to Sinn Fein in the North

And there are four pieces in the paper today by four of our correspondents on important stories happening in Europe at the moment – on Merkel and Macron by Lara Marlowe, by Derek Scally on the German election, by Guy Hedgecoe on the Catalan independence referendum, and by Paddy Smyth  on how the EU is closing the door to migrants in the Mediterranean.

And David McNeill in Tokyo write about how the US "totally destroyed" North Korea before.

This is really good – a summary of the British Government's internal differences on Brexit

Explainer on the latest developments in the Robert Mueller investigation into the Trump White House relations with Russia – which many people in Washington believe will take him down.


The day starts in the Dail chamber with Mr Verhofstadt, though this is technically a joint meeting of several committees that is taking place in the Dail chamber, since you ask.

Leader’s Questions are at 2pm (probably to the Tanaiste) featuring questions from Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Labour and Solidarity-People before Profit.

Questions on promised legislation to follow, after which TDs will debate the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017

This is a sort of omnibus Bill which contains several elements –including a provision which allows the names of social welfare fraudsters to be published. There are also sections relating to that silly season favourite, the public services card.

According to the explanatory memorandum, the relevant section will allow the cardholder

“on a voluntary basis, to confirm their identity in certain circumstances.”

Eh, what?

“Currently, a body that is not explicitly specified in the Act is prohibited from accepting the PSC as proof of identity even in circumstances where the cardholder voluntarily tenders their PSC for this purpose. This amendment will permit a customer to use the PSC at his/her own discretion without causing the person or entity accepting the PSC to be guilty of an offence.”

Make of that what you will.

Oral parliamentary questions are on Foreign Affairs, though the Minister is in New York, at 330. After topical issues debates at 5pm, there’s private members business until ten to eight – a Sinn Fein bill restricting wind turbines.

At the Finance committee at 930 members will discuss an EU legislative proposal which involves the sharing of tax information between countries about schemes employed by multinationals to avoid tax. You can imagine that this is the sort of thing that causes concerns all over Dublin, from the multinationals, to the Department of Finance to the big accountancy firms. It’s followed by exchanges with Liam McLaughlin from Bank of Ireland.

At 2pm, the Jobs Committee will speak to a wide array of representative organisations and state bodies on the conditions for foreign – ie, non-EU – crew on Irish trawlers. There have previously been reports of illegal immigrants used as cheap labour on some boats, so the hearing will be worth looking in on.

Have a simply splendid day.