Saturday 24 March 2018

The new Dail is sitting today - here's what to expect

Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Arthur Carron
Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Arthur Carron

Barry Lennon

The post-election trading has been sorted out and the Dáil will sit properly for the first time today with a government in-place.

But it will be far from business as usual.

Here are five reasons why today's sitting will be different from what you might be used to.


1) The Taoiseach is a key he plants a tree in Washington

Enda Kenny had a short Cabinet meeting at 9am before jetting off to the airport to head to Washington.

The Fine Gael leader is due to plant a tree in honour of Irish-Americans' involvement in 1916.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald will deputise in the Dáil, taking the first Leaders' Questions.

The issue of the garda controversy is set to dominate.


2) A new Dáil - a new set of politics

It’s effectively day one of the new Dáil and the minority Government is already conceding defeat in relation to mortgages.

This relates to a Fianna Fáil bill which proposes handing stronger monitoring powers to the Central Bank in relation to mortgage rates.

The vote on the bill will take place tomorrow. With Sinn Féin set to back Fianna Fáil, the Government was set for a defeat.

But at today’s Cabinet meeting, the Government put forward a compromise deal that would see the issue kicked to touch for further consideration. If Fianna Fáil refuses the olive branch, the matter will go to a vote tomorrow night.


3) The Opposition are keeping the government in power.

Fianna Fáil will lead the opposition's interrogation of the new Government at Leaders’ Question today.

However, the party is in the odd situation where it is also keeping the minority executive in power via its ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with Fine Gael.  

Another exchange worth watching will be between the Tanaiste and her predecessor. Joan Burton often took ‘Leaders’ Questions’ on behalf of the Government. But the Labour Party leader will now ask the questions of her successor Frances Fitzgerald from Opposition.


4)  The Gardaí are protesting

Gardaí from the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) are to march on Kildare Street against pay cuts to the force.

Officers have decided to wear blue instead of their uniforms which will lessen the visual impact.


5) Seanad hopefuls keep flooding in

Enda Kenny will have at least 70 expressions of interest to consider when picking his final 11 nominations for the Upper House. He will announce his decision at the end of the week, and will also choose his junior ministers.

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