There was an unmistakable freshness around Leinster House today. It was inescapable.

The Taoiseach swiftly took to his feet just after 2pm with the enthusiastic words that there was much work to do.

In the background the overhaul of the building was largely completed, pictures were hung again on the corridor walls, and the facade of the old house glistened in the autumn sunshine.

But some old political problems looked far more ominous as the Dáil returned from the summer break.

Chief among them are health and housing which have proved to be perpetually hazardous for this Government.

Getting those spending figures wrong on the National Children's Hospital coupled with the fact that more than 10,000 people are homeless, illustrates the ongoing difficulties facing the Government.

Beef has now emerged as another crisis. It’s one that fuels opposition questions about the Government’s commitment to rural Ireland.

For the Government and those watching the stakes are high for two reasons.

One is the seemingly indisputable fact that the 32nd Dáil is facing its eventual end point relatively soon.

The budget on 8 October is expected to be the last one under the Confidence and Supply Agreement that has keep the minority Government afloat since May 2016.

The Taoiseach has spoken about an election ideally taking place next May, while the Fianna Fáil Leader is hinting at early spring.

In that context any misstep in the weeks ahead could have profound consequences.

Then there is Brexit, something that has the potential to drastically change this country in six weeks’ time.

Fuse these tensions together and what emerges is a Dáil term that looks set to be a defining one for both the political parties and indeed the country.