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Thursday, 23 Nov 2017

Business of Committee

We are joined by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, who is a permanent witness to the committee. Today he is accompanied by Ms Mary Henry, deputy director of audit. The first session today deals with the reopening of Garda stations. The next item will be Chapter 12 of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report, which is on the management of ancillary services at the Garda training college. We are dealing with these matters first and we will defer our normal consideration of correspondence, our work programme and accounts received until the afternoon, as the witnesses from the Garda Síochána must attend a Policing Authority meeting later on today. They have to be long gone from here before 1 p.m. We will come back to our normal business in the afternoon.

As I mentioned, two matters are to be considered today. However, we also requested and received a note last week from the acting Garda Commissioner, Dónall Ó Cualáin, on the recruitment process and a breakdown of costs associated with the Charleton tribunal. This had been raised in previous correspondence with the acting Garda Commissioner. We received a letter from him yesterday evening on this particular item. I will read it into the public record. It has not yet been circulated but it will be published now. It is addressed to the committee and is dated yesterday. It states:

I refer to your email of 16th November 2017 and note the Committee's intention to set aside a small amount of time at the PAC to questions on the setting up of the Tribunal Co-Ordination Office.

Please note that this matter has been the subject of correspondence between ... An Garda Síochána and the Committee [since] August 2017.

Beyond the delivery of the public funding information furnished in that correspondence, and having taken Counsel's advice on the matter, I am concerned that discussions in the Public Accounts Committee concerning the Tribunal Coordination Office might easily trespass on the work of the Tribunal. The Coordination Office are fully cooperating with the Tribunal on behalf of An Garda Síochána and I wish to ensure that there is no potential for any trespass on it's [sic] important work.

In the circumstances, I would be grateful if the Committee could postpone discussions on this particular matter.

We will confine this matter to the very tight issue of costs, and there will be no straying into discussions that are taking place in the Chamber every day and the matters before the tribunal. I have not spoken to the acting Commissioner because I have just received this letter, but can we deal with that one small item without straying any further? I am saying to both the witnesses and the members that they are not to stray any further. It is not within the remit of this committee to discuss what it happening at the tribunal, but we can talk briefly on the costs issue in terms of that unit. I am not sure if such a comment is in the acting Commissioner's opening statement.

I have been asked to read the normal welcome. I skipped that.

Why was this information sought?

This committee sought it.

When did it seek it?

We sought it before the summer, and there has been correspondence between the Garda and this committee since August 2017, after the issue arose in July. We are thorough in following through on previous commitments. At this stage we will allow a few minutes for this topic. There is general agreement not to stray into the work of the Charleton tribunal or matters that are not within the remit of the committee.

I would like to welcome the acting Garda Commissioner, Dónall Ó Cualáin, Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy, Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, chief administrative officer, Mr. Joe Nugent, Mr. John Barrett, executive director of human resources and people development, Mr. Seán Murphy, head of estate management and Assistant Commissioner Eugene Corcoran. From the Department of Justice and Equality we are joined by Mr. Noel Waters, Secretary General, and Mr. John O’Callaghan, assistant secretary. Mr. George Trimble also joins us.

I remind members, witnesses and those in the Public Gallery that all mobile phones must be switched off. That means putting them on to flight mode.

I wish to advise the witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. If they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a 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 are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity, by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

Members are reminded of the provisions of Standing Order 186 that the committee shall also refrain from inquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of the Government or a Minister of the Government or the merits of the objectives of such policies.

So, in relation to the recruitment process and costs associated with the Charleton Tribunal, members are invited to make a quick comment on it. If there are no questions we will move on straight away, but if there are questions they are to be limited, very tight and very short.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Does the Chair want me to read my opening statement?

Only in relation to the Charleton tribunal issue. I want to get this issue disposed of before we get into the body of the meeting.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

In relation to the disclosures tribunal established by the Houses of the Oireachtas and under the chair of Supreme Court justice, Mr. Justice Charleton, I am very conscious of the need for I and members of my team here today not to say anything that could be seen to undermine the work of the tribunal. I am sure that the Chairman understands that.

As with all tribunals of inquiry, it is vital that An Garda Síochána ensures it provides all assistance it can to the tribunal so that the truth and facts can be established. This requires extensive and considerable resources to be devoted to the task. At all times our objective is to provide the tribunal with the information it requires as quickly as possible. So far, tens of thousands of pages of material have been provided to the tribunal. As per material provided to the committee, additional, dedicated staff with expertise and experience in this area were required to assist with this task to meet the timelines of the tribunal. This approach received written sanction from the Department of Justice and Equality and we have provided you with the costs involved. I also wrote to the committee yesterday evening.

Apart from repeating what we have already provided in correspondence I am not in a position to answer any questions on this matter.

Can we just note the matter and move on?

I want to ask about the process and the costs. I am not going to ask anything about the Charleton inquiry.

I believe we previously received correspondence on the costs. It is going up on the screen now.

I have deep concern about this liaison unit and how it was formulated, how sanction was given for it and how it was funded. For the benefit of the Chair, I asked parliamentary questions on 20 June, 26 July and on 14 November on the process by which this unit came into place, how authority was given for it to be put in place, how it was funded and how its members were sourced. I am completely dissatisfied with the answers I have been given. I believe I have been fobbed off. I believe that, given that this is taxpayers' money, we need full transparency about how it was created and how the decision was made to exercise public money on this. Who is using it? Are all gardaí using it or only a few?

I have a question for the acting Commissioner, Mr. Ó Cualáin, and the head of HR, Mr. Barrett. When were the people in this unit approached to go into the unit? When was sanction given to spend this money on this unit? The witnesses might identify the timelines involved.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Oral sanction was received on 21 February 2017. That was followed by written sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which was obtained on 5 May.

When were the people approached to enter the unit?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

It was after the oral sanction was obtained.

Who gave the oral sanction?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

It was obtained from the Department of Justice and Equality.

Who in the Department of Justice gave oral sanction?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

I believe it was the Secretary General.

Written sanction was given on 5 May. How were people hired before written sanction?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

They were recruited on the basis of the oral sanction given on 21 February. It was clear that could happen.

Did the Secretary General give oral sanction for these people to be hired?

Mr. Noel Waters


What documentation was that sanction based on?

Mr. Noel Waters

My recollection is that the Commissioner phoned me and said that she was anxious to ensure that the Garda would comply fully and speedily in all respects with the tribunal that was about to start. She said that it was going to have a big impact on the force and the senior management team. At the time the Garda was dealing with gangland crime and international terrorism. She was concerned about the capacity of the Garda to ensure that the tribunal would be serviced quickly. To me it was a compelling case.

On that basis, I indicated to her that I would support that if she should go ahead and do that.

Was anything sent to Mr. Waters in writing by An Garda Síochána?

Mr. Noel Waters

Subsequently, a letter was sent to me, I think, on 27 or 28 February.

Sorry, I could not hear what was said.

Mr. Noel Waters

Subsequently, a letter was sent to me on 27 or 28 February. Is that right? Yes.

Mr. John O'Callaghan

On the 27th.

Mr. Noel Waters

On 27 February, I am advised. Yes.

The Commissioner rang Mr. Waters, he gave oral sanction on 21 May. On 27 May-----

Mr. Noel Waters

It was 27 February.

Sorry, on 27 February-----

Mr. Noel Waters


-----she wrote to Mr. Waters.

Mr. Noel Waters


Approval was only given by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 5 May. In the interim a whole pile of people were hired before the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform gave sanction. Is that correct?

Mr. Noel Waters

I had given her oral sanction to go ahead and do this because she had made a compelling case to me as to why this should be done.

Is it normal for Mr. Waters to give oral sanction like that before getting approval?

Mr. Noel Waters

That would have happened on occasion, yes.

On how many occasions?

Mr. Noel Waters

I cannot say but I would be aware of it, throughout my career.

Give me an example of a precedent by which this would have been done.

Mr. Noel Waters

Off the top of my head I cannot remember. Throughout my career this would be normal, yes.

Can Mr. Waters think of a precedent when he did this for something similar?

Mr. Noel Waters

Off the top of my head I cannot think of one but I am sure there are many.

Mr. Barrett, I presume as the head of HR, and given the issues that the Secretary General has outlined here and given the timelines that the Acting Commissioner has outlined, I am sure he was fully consulted on all of this given the HR implications and is fully happy with all of this process.

Mr. John Barrett

No. The process followed was, an instruction came from the Commissioner's office to draw up some contracts for two named individuals, and we did that. Then there was a transfer of a number of other people into this office, after it has been created. That was the-----

On what dates were the contracts drawn up?

Mr. John Barrett

They would have been in February-early March. I have not got the documents with me, Deputy.

I appreciate that Mr. Barrett would not have thought he would be asked about this matter.

Mr. John Barrett

I learned of this yesterday, by the way, as a topic so I am not really prepared.

That is fair enough. Did the contracts and transfers happen in or around February?

Mr. John Barrett

The transfers would have happened pretty instantaneously, about 21 February, of existing Garda staff into the office.

Was it 21 February, which is the same day the phone call happened?

Mr. John Barrett

Pretty much immediately. There was a very immediate response.

Mr. John Barrett

I think AC Corcoran wrote to the entire organisation on 21 February.

Next question. Is Mr. Barrett 100% happy with the manner in which this unit was created, and the manner in which it functions?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Chair, I have to intercede here. I think we are getting into space now where it would be inappropriate to be answering questions of this type.

I will shorten short my question because it is about-----

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Chair, I have to insist that there will be no questions answered on this.

One second now, I am asking a question.

Through the Chair.

My question is about the creation of the unit, not about its work on the Charleton commission. Is Mr. Ó Cualáin absolutely happy about the manner in which this was created, not the functioning of it? I mean the manner in which this was created.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Chair, I have to intervene again. I think this is starting to stray.

I do not accept that.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

This is starting to stray.

Through the Chair, I will let the question be put but the witness can give a direct answer.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Chair, I am not going to answer that question.

That is unacceptable.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

I do not accept that it should be.

I do not want the Commissioner to answer anything. I am asking Mr. Barrett. Is he, on the record, fully happy with the manner in which this was created? My question has nothing to do with the Charleton commission at all just the way in which, using public moneys, the unit was created. That is it.

I think we should go by the line of command and first put the question to the Secretary General. What was the question, Deputy?

My question is not really for the Secretary General.

We will come to that.

My question is not really for the Commissioner either. I asked Mr. Barrett the following. Given the fact that we now know that public moneys was spent on this, as the director of HR, is he 100% happy with the manner in which this unit was created? My question does not relate to the running of it or how it is operating in the tribunal. My question has nothing to do with that. I just want to know how the unit was created, the hiring for the unit, etc. and the resource implications.

Is an operational matter decided by a Commissioner? I refer to the creation of the unit.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Getting it was an issue for the Commissioner of the day, having had to respond to the setting up of a tribunal of inquiry-----

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

On behalf of An Garda Síochána, there was a duty on the Commissioner of the day to set up a liaison office which would service that tribunal.

Mr. Ó Cualáin is happy with that and the Garda Síochána spoke to the Department of Justice and Equality. Is the Secretary General happy that happened and with the manner in which that happened?

Mr. Noel Waters

Yes, thank you.

I will repeat my question.

The Deputy can now put his question.

Again, I shall repeat my question for the benefit of the HR director, Mr. Barrett. I have a very simple question. Is he absolutely and 100% fully happy with the manner in which this liaison unit was created? I have tabled in excess of 20 parliamentary questions on this matter on three if not four different occasions and I have got all of the answers that I have received here. Was he happy with how the unit was created, resourced, populated, etc?

Mr. John Barrett

I wrote a number of letters, Deputy, on this topic, setting out my views. My views go beyond the issue of resourcing. I accept that this-----

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Chair, I think we are straying into dangerous territory. I would ask that we desist.

There is no reason these questions cannot be answered. The Committee of Public Accounts analyses how public moneys are spent. My question is about the creation of a unit.

Mr. John Barrett

That is correct, Chair.

My question has nothing to do with the operational issues at the Charleton commission. I have intention today-----

What Mr. Barrett said was talking about other issues. He just referred to some of them.

Mr. John Barrett

Just to come-----

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Sorry, Chair, I must insist that we do not pursue this line of questioning any further.

I must insist as a public representative, as a Deputy elected by the people-----

-----asking questions, as Vice Chair of this committee, in relation to public moneys that are being used, that this question is answered. I am referring to just the creation of the unit. My questions have nothing to do with operational issues or the Charleton tribunal, which I will not be straying into at all.

The questions are on the creation of the unit.

The creation of the unit has led to the spending of taxpayers' money. Taxpayers are paying for the unit, Chair.

I understand that. The Secretary General has given sanction and is satisfied. The Acting Commissioner is satisfied.

We now know that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform gave sanction in May.

The Department is satisfied but we can ask the Department.

The Deputy can ask Mr. Barrett a quick question but I urge him not to stray beyond the creation of the unit.

On the creation of the unit..

Mr. John Barrett

I am not even sure I know what the question is at this point, Chairman. Let me just try to be helpful. I have a direction from the Commissioner.

Mr. John Barrett

I followed the direction. I raised certain concerns and that was done in writing. That is the simple situation.

Does Mr. Barrett have anything further to add in public today?

Mr. John Barrett


Is that Mr. Barrett's answer?

Mr. John Barrett

That is my answer.

Mr. John Barrett

I think your record is clear.

We have got the answer.

The answer that I am hearing is that the head of HR-----

Got a direction.

-----has raised serious issues with the Commissioner. Was that on more than one occasion or just one occasion?

Mr. John Barrett

I wrote to the head of legal affairs.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Chair, we are straying into the area that we should not be in.

We are getting a bit-----

I disagree, Chair. I do not see why this committee is being prevented by commentary by the acting Garda Commissioner from asking questions about the expenditure of public moneys on the creation of a unit. That is it. My question has nothing to do with the operation of the tribunal, its findings or anything like that.

The Accounting Officer is here today, who is the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, as well as the Acting Garda Commissioner. No other Accounting Officers are involved. It is the role of the Accounting Officer to give an answer to the particular question that has been asked. The two Accounting Officers have answered. The only Accounting Officer who has not answered the question is the one for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform because the official is not here. The Department gave written sanction.

We are here today specifically to discuss the one issue of finances. We are only dealing with the 2016 audited expenditure to date. We have had an answer from the Accounting Officer of the Department of Justice and Equality. We have had an answer from the acting Garda Commissioner. As Chairman, I can say that we have got answers from the two people who are accountable to this committee here today, and I have to rule on that.

For the record, through the Chair-----

Yes. There may be other mechanisms other than here to pursue this matter.

I am deeply alarmed that this committee is not allowed, given that we have given notice, to ask questions about the creation of a unit, which does not stray into anything to do with the tribunal. I have asked well over 20 parliamentary questions on this matter but I have not received answers. The Secretary General is aware of this because I have had to go back to him seeking answers to my questions. Here today my questions has been knocked down again and the Garda Commissioner has said that he does not want them to be answered. We have also got a situation where the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform did not give sanction until May. Now, we note on the record, that the head of HR has expressed, on a number of occasions, his concerns about this issue. Those are the facts. I want it put on the record that I am deeply unhappy that my questions have not been answered in any forum.

They have been answered by the Accounting Officers.

I take note that these questions as to how this unit was created using taxpayers' money are not being answered in any forum.

We said we would only spend 15 minutes on this. That 15 minutes is now up but Deputy Cullinane has indicated to speak.

I will be brief. I welcome the fact that this unit has been established and had it not been, we might be having a different conversation here. My question, however, concerns why it was that two retired officers were chosen. Did they have to be retired? Was there a reason for this?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

There was no reason they had to be retired; this was just a matter of capacity in the organisation. With all that is happening at this time and with so many vital vacancies at this critical juncture it would be the norm to go for people with past experience who could be brought back in at short notice.

Mr. Barrett mentioned that, apart from these two officers, others were seconded into the unit. Is that correct?

Mr. John Barrett

That would be entirely normal.

How many then are working in the unit?

Mr. John Barrett

I cannot tell the Deputy off the top of my head. I apologise for that. As I only learned yesterday that this matter was to come before this committee, I am rather ill-prepared. There are a number working in the unit, however. Assistant Commissioner Corcoran is working closely with the unit so he is better positioned to talk about current strength.

I call on Deputy MacSharry.

Did Deputy Connolly indicate before me?

My question has already been asked by Deputy Cullinane. I would also like to ask, however, what the figures are for the total complement of the unit I appreciate what the witnesses are saying and I will not stray in any way. I also have a question for the Secretary General. Is he happy that the normal process for recruiting people was complied with in the Department of Justice and Equality?

Mr. Noel Waters

I beg the Deputy's pardon?

Were normal procedures complied with?

Mr. Noel Waters

My role in this was on foot of the conversation with the Commissioner. I was satisfied that she had made a compelling case for this and after that, it was a matter for the Commissioner-----

That is okay. And with regard to the total complement of the unit?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

That amounts to two full-time staff along with a liaison contact in each Garda region to service the office. These staff are all from Garda-----

The criteria on which they were chosen and the issue of conflicts of interest and so forth would all be a matter of discussion for us at some stage.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

As I outlined in my letter to the committee, I asked that this particular discussion be postponed.

I accept that for today. I have no problem with that.

I call on Deputy MacSharry.

I apologise for being late. These people were employed in February and this was sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in May. I have a problem with efforts to take refuge in the fact that this is a tribunal. We are not asking about any of the evidence, liaisons, contents or about anything that has been put forward. I do not understand why the acting Garda Commissioner cannot just answer the question.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

What is the Deputy's question? Has he asked a question?

The question has already been put to the acting Garda Commissioner. It concerns the taxpayer and why this unit was set up.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

We have given all of the detail on cost.

Why was it set up?


I thank the Chairman but I am not finished.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

The tribunal needs to be serviced. A huge amount of documentation has to be provided and this has to be done in a professional and efficient way, which is why we need a co-ordination office.

On the surface that seems fine. Why, however, is An Garda Síochána employing retired officers?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

I just explained that in the context of our capacity issues and the fact that all of our people are already double and treble-jobbing on different tasks. This is an additional layer of work that has to be dealt with.

I am nearly finished; this is just a short thread. How were the staff involved selected? Deputy Connolly just touched on the selection process. Was it a question of who was available and who was around?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

I do not have that exact detail but yes, it would have been a matter of selecting people with experience-----

Is there a mechanism in place for advertising among retired member of the force or were these people hand-picked?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

This is the normal way of doing business when a piece of work of this nature has to be completed in a very short time. This office needed to be set up immediately in order to start servicing the tribunal's demands for information and documentation.

Mr. Barrett mentioned that he had an issue that he potentially wanted to raise with the Commissioner. He got a direction and registered whatever concern it was in writing. Was this in the form of one letter? Was it two letters, was it five letters?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

I think we are starting to stray here.

With the greatest of respect, Deputy Fleming is chairing the meeting here. We have heard the acting Garda Commissioner's objection to talking about any of these matters, even though these are procedures backing a tribunal as opposed to the detail informing it. The Chairman has given his view on that and in the meantime, I am within the law to ask whatever I want. How many times did Mr. Barrett register his issues?

Mr. John Barrett

I wrote a number of times to the head of legal affairs because I had a broad set of concerns quite apart from this issue. I take direction from-----

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

We are starting to stray.

Mr. Barrett has said twice now that he wrote to register this broad set of concerns. We are not here, however, to discuss a broad set of issues.

Mr. John Barrett

I accept that.

Mr. Barrett has gone down that road of other issues twice now. We are here only to discuss this one unit.

With regard to that unit, then, can Mr. Barrett be specific?

Mr. John Barrett

The financial consideration was one.

I am anxious that the acting Garda Commissioner seems-----

Can I just ask-----

Through the Chair-----

The Chair is in possession.

It is a salient point and I was in the middle of a question.

I think the Chairman and the Deputy are asking the same question.

I am, with respect, in the middle of the question. I have to put on record here that the demeanour of the acting Garda Commissioner is such that he does not want Mr. Barrett to say anything at all. We are asking a question and yet every few seconds the acting Garda Commissioner interrupts to say that we are straying. I ask the Chairman to instruct the acting Garda Commissioner to be quiet while we are addressing another question, and then to give us some specific detail on what the issues were beyond the financial.

The Deputy has made a request.

I thank the Chairman.

I will not instruct the acting Garda Commissioner to be quiet. He is the Accounting Officer here today and as Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts I decide-----

If that is the case then we could all interrupt everybody. We are either going to ask somebody a question and get an answer or we are going to have what would appear to me to be vexatious intrusions when somebody else is trying to answer because of what that person might potentially say. That is how it looks to me as I sit here.

I ask Mr. Barrett for a very precise answer. Twice he has been asked a question and he has strayed beyond it immediately.

Mr. John Barrett

I apologise for being unhelpful. If the Chairman could phrase the question, I will endeavour to answer it specifically.

I am not asking Mr. Barrett any question.

Mr. John Barrett


The issue is very simple here-----

Okay then, I am going to ask the question-----

In fairness, I started this process. Mr. Barrett did in fact take the Chairman's guidance when he said a moment ago that his issues concerned financial reports.

Mr. Barrett said finance.

And resources.

Did Mr. Barrett have any further concerns that might be relevant to the attention of the Committee for Public Accounts?

Mr. John Barrett

The financial issue was one.

I am ruling as Chairman that we are now moving on. With regard to the financial issue, I want to draw the attention of everybody here and everybody watching to the fact that we have the Accounting Officer of the Department of Justice and Equality here. He is responsible to the Oireachtas for the Vote and he gave verbal sanction to this matter. A letter subsequently arrived. We also have the Accounting Officer of An Garda Síochána here, who is satisfied that he got his sanction and did the job he was required to do. We have information that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform subsequently gave written sanction but that the matter had proceeded on the basis of the original verbal sanction because the job needed to be done. We have two sanctions from two Accounting Officers here in person and we have notification of a third sanction from somebody else. We can come back to look at this when we come to examine 2017 expenditure as part of next year's audit. In the meantime I am ruling that we have statements from two Accounting Officers here, who are satisfied with the process. They are the people who are answerable to the committee so this topic is now closed. We had agreed to only give this matter 15 minutes and we have done-----

We started at ten past.

We have spent 40 minutes on this and we have other business to address. We are now moving on to look at the matter of the re-opening of Garda stations. At this point I will ask acting Garda Commissioner Ó Cualáin to deliver the rest of his opening statement.

Could we have time for this issue please?

On the Garda station-----

We have three topics to deal with.

Until 10.30 a.m., and then we can move on to the main business after that.

Is this not the main business?

The main business is-----

The main business is chapter 12. I am flexible on the time but the main business is chapter 12 of the Comptroller and Auditor General's annual report and the management of ancillary services at the Garda Síochána College. In view of the fact that we invited people in on that, we said we would allow a specific time at the beginning of the session to address what we just discussed and the reopening of Garda stations. The main business for today is chapter 12 of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report. Can we agree a time to address the Garda stations issue? We will then move on to the main business. Is going to 10.30 a.m. sufficient?

That is fine.

If that is the main business and we are prepared for it, can we stick to that time of 10.30 a.m.?

Will we agree to go to 10.30 a.m.?

Approximately, yes.

We will move on to the main chapter at 10.30 a.m.

There is no "approximately".

I am entitled to my view as well.