I welcome members to the first meeting of the new committee. I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed Chairman. I welcome all members of the third Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Petitions. The committee's first task is to review its terms of reference and report to the Dáil and Seanad within three months. The committee has three main roles. First, all petitions submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas stand referred to the committee. Second, the committee may decide to examine matters of general public concern or interest or issues of public policy and, third, the committee may consider reports of the Ombudsman.
The petitions committee has a unique role in the Parliament. People have direct access to the Parliament using an informal process, people have a right to reply and petitions can act as a safety valve or fire alarm when reviewing public policy. I look forward to working with all members in the genuine spirit of partnership and co-operation as we review the terms of reference and consider petitions. We all have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in our lives, and how we conduct the business of the Houses of the Oireachtas has been altered in ways we could not have envisaged when the year began. I trust that all members will work with me and will ensure that the committee works effectively and safely during these testing times.
The next item on the agenda is the election of a Vice Chairman but the protocol to date has been to fix a date for the election at the second meeting. Is that agreed?