Why is the Dáil taking a summer recess of almost 10 weeks?

The Dáil chamber is about to have a €690,000 upgrade...

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Image: RollingNews.ie

The Dáil adjourns for the summer next Thursday, July 21st - and they’re not scheduled to sit again until September 27th.

TDs are taking an extra long summer recess this year to facilitate the installation of new sound and voting systems in the Dáil chamber.

The upgrades are expected to cost around €690,000.

It follows a review of the technology in the chamber, which found that "the age and obsolescence of the equipment supporting the Chambers represents a critical risk and presents difficulties in respect of quality of output, support and scarcity of spare parts." 

The break may not be quite as long as the full three month recess that was initially proposed, and indeed some committee activity will resume at Leinster House before the 27th.

Oireachtas committees - including the one that is helping to prepare October's budget - have been told to return to work by September 3rd.

Ceann Comhairle Seán O'Fearghail, meanwhile, has called a special informal joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad for the Mansion House on September 22nd - five days before full Dáil business is due to resume.

"That symposium will focus on Ireland's future in Europe," he told deputies, and it will examine issues such as the future of the union and the 'democratic deficit' for EU citizens.

While there will still be plenty happening on a constituency, committee and cabinet level, politicians can’t close up shop without taking care of a few bits of business.

The inquiry into the sale of SiteServ by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) has been a subject of renewed debate in the Dáil in recent weeks - and there was finally some progress today.

TDs passed the Commission of Investigation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) Bill 2016 which gives the inquiry extra powers.

However, due to the commission's revised terms of reference it is will be the end of next year before it issues its first report on the matter.

The legislation allowing for suspension of water charges for nine months has been another of the most pressing concerns for the new Government - and indeed the opposition as well.

The Water Services Bill yesterday passed through the final stage without a vote and will now go to the Seanad.

Senators are due to discuss the bill tomorrow. It's expected to pass through quickly as the suspension of billing has applied since July 1st.

The Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill 2016, meanwhile, is also up for debate in the upper house tomorrow.

Paid paternity leave - which will see fathers paid a benefit of €230 per week for the two weeks of leave - is expected to come into effect from September 1st.

Senators will also be discussing the establishment of the Citizens Assembly on the 8th Amendment and other issues. The assembly is expected to get underway in the autumn.

Once all those and a few other pieces of business have been signed off on over the next fortnight, it will mostly be the sounds of construction heard in Leinster House for the rest of the summer.

While there's certainly a nice break ahead for TDs - even allowing for constituency work - they might need the break way from Dublin: the autumn will see the first Budget under the so-called 'new politics', and that will certainly be interesting...

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