We are joined by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, who is a permanent witness to the committee. He is joined by Mr. Ciaran Wright, senior auditor.
Apologies have been received from Deputies Shane Cassells and Pat Deering.
Last week we did not approve the minutes of the meeting of 8 November as there was one slight change to be made to the wording. Are the minutes of that meeting agreed to? Agreed.
Are the minutes of 29 November and 6 December agreed? Agreed. The next item is matters arising out of the minutes. There is not anything specific because the correspondence will cover most items.
The first item of correspondence in category A, briefing documents and opening statements, is Nos. 1788 A and 1791 A, from Mr. Seán Ó Foghlú, Secretary General, Department of Education and Skills, dated 6 December 2018 and 11 December, respectively, providing a briefing note and opening statement for today's meeting on the provision of school transport. We will note and publish these. Is that agreed? Agreed. The next item, No. 1790 A, is an opening statement from Bus Éireann. We will note and publish it. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The next item is correspondence from Accounting Officers or Ministers or both, as well as follow-up to Committee of Public Accounts meetings and other items for publication. We held over three items from last week's meeting for further review. The first item was from Ms Mary Lawlor, public affairs manager, NAMA, dated 29 November 2018, providing further information requested by the committee on Project Nantes with a breakdown of the €24 billion in asset sales categorised by the jurisdiction of purchaser. We requested a note from the parliamentary legal adviser on section 172. We will deal with that, not today but as soon as possible. We will consider that letter from NAMA as part of the briefing we will get from the parliamentary legal adviser. We note and publish this.
The next item is No. 1767 B from the clerk to the committee of the Committee on Procedure, dated 30 November 2018, forwarding a complaint on matters raised by the committee in advance of the recent presidential election. The complainant believes the committee raised the matter of presidential expenses in order that it would become an issue in the election campaign. We agreed to note and publish a redacted form of the correspondence last week so as not to identify the person involved.
However, I propose that the committee draft a letter to the Committee on Procedure and a similar one to the individual who raised the matter stating that the committee's consideration of the Comptroller and Auditor General's appropriation accounts 2016, Vote 1 - President's Establishment, was within the remit of the committee and that the committee's work highlighted important issues regarding transparency in the funding of the Office of the President. Is that agreed?