In our first session we examined the Comptroller and Auditor General's special report No. 96 on the cost of the child abuse inquiry and redress scheme. In this session we will examine the financial statements of Caranua for 2014 and 2015. As I mentioned earlier, Caranua is an independent State body which was set up to help people who had experienced abuse in residential institutions in Ireland and received settlement redress board or court awards. From Caranua, we are joined by Ms Mary Higgins, chief executive officer; Mr. David O'Callaghan, chairman; and Mr. David Yeomans, director of finance and corporate affairs. From the Department of Education and Skills, we are still joined by Mr. Seán Ó Foghlú, Mr. Dalton Tatten, Mr. Martin Hanevy, Ms Catherine Hynes and Ms Mary Cregg.
By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person or an entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
I call on the Comptroller and Auditor General to make a brief opening statement. For this session he is joined by Ms Ruth Foley, deputy director of audit.