I welcome everybody to the meeting. We are joined by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, as a permanent witness to the Committee. Apologies have been received from Deputy Neasa Hourigan.
Before we move on to the other items of business I want to make a statement. I want to address the issue surrounding the tweet that I published over the weekend marking the 100th anniversary of the Kilmichael ambush in County Cork. I am very conscious, as the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, that the controversy has placed all the members in a difficult and totally unnecessary situation, particularly when this committee has such important work to carry out. What I was attempting to do was to highlight that following the disastrous decision to partition the country almost 100 years ago, in the wake of events such as Kilmichael we still had conflict that went on for a long time during which a lot of suffering took place. I deleted the tweet and apologised for posting it.
As we work to advance reconciliation on our island, we need to be able to talk about the past in a way that is honest to all of us and our beliefs but that does not deepen division or cause hurt. As an Irish republican and someone who is in a position of political leadership, I have to be more aware of my responsibility to ensure that I do not do anything that is disrespectful to others. Since the mid-1980s, when A Scenario for Peace was published, right through the Hume-Adams dialogue, and, finally, to the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, I have actively supported initiatives to bring about peace on the island. On Sunday, I apologised for any offence that I caused due to the insensitive nature of the tweet and I want to repeat that apology to the members today. I also want to apologise to all my colleagues for the position in which I put them. My tweet fell below not just the standard we expect of each other but the standard I expect of myself as a Member of the Dáil, and for that I am genuinely sorry.