I wish to raise some formal notices regarding privilege and members. I remind members of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present within the confines of the place in which Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House, to participate in public meetings. I will not permit a member to participate where he or she is not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate from outside the precincts will be asked to leave the meeting.
I wish to explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the Houses regarding references witnesses may make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected pursuant to both the Constitution and the State by absolute privilege. However, our witness today is to give his evidence remotely from a place outside the parliamentary precincts and as such may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness physically present does. He may think it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter. He is reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that witnesses should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if a witness's statements are potentially defamatory in respect of any identifiable person or entity, he or she will be directed to discontinue his or her remarks. It is imperative that witnesses comply with any such direction.
I am delighted to extend a very warm welcome to Mr. Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman. Mr. Tyndall is joined by Ms Jennifer Hanrahan, who is a principal in his office. Mr. Tyndall will retire next month, and we wish him all the best of luck. He has served as Ombudsman for 14 years, six in Wales and eight in Ireland. Mr. Tyndall is the fourth Ombudsman in Ireland following Michael Mills from 1984 to 1994, Kevin Murphy from 1994 to 2003 and Emily O'Reilly from 2003 to 2013. Mr. Tyndall has served from 2013 to 2021.
The Ombudsman has two main roles: to examine complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated by providers of public services, including complaints under the Disability Act 2005, and to act as the champion of good administrative practice. The Ombudsman has a close relationship with the Committee on Public Petitions and Mr. Tyndall has appeared before the committee many times. It would be a good idea to set up a memorandum of understanding between the committee and his office.
I have a few notes here because Mr. Tyndall has covered so many things over the years that it would not be fair if we were to let any of them go. Mr. Tyndall was appointed Ombudsman and Information Commissioner by the President in December 2013. Mr. Tyndall is also commissioner for environmental information and an ex officio member of the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Referendum Commission and the Constituency Commission. Mr. Tyndall was reappointed in 2019 for a second term.
One of Mr. Tyndall's key investigations was the Opportunity Lost investigation in 2017, which found that women who had worked in the Magdalen laundries had been wrongly refused access to the Magdalen restorative justice scheme. Mr. Tyndall was also involved in Wasted Lives: Time for a Better Future for Younger People in Nursing Homes and, in 2015, Learning to Get Better, an investigation into how public hospitals handle complaints. A Good Death, published in 2014, described some of the issues raised in complaints about end-of-life care in hospitals.
Mr. Tyndall has called for the extension of the Ombudsman's remit to investigate complaints from all sectors in receipt of significant public funding. During his term in this office, the following came under his jurisdiction: private nursing homes, direct provision accommodation services and more than 200 regulatory and other public bodies. Mr. Tyndall has also been involved in internal developments and international contributions. He has ensured complainants can easily avail of his office services and that the office can deliver effective and efficient services by overseeing the development of the latest ICT and case management systems and user-friendly, award-winning websites. Mr. Tyndall is highly regarded among the international ombudsman community and was elected president of the International Ombudsman Institute, IOI, in 2016, having previously served as its European regional president. His office also hosted the IOI world conference in 2021. Mr. Tyndall is also a key member and former chair of the Ombudsman Association, sharing his knowledge and experience as both Irish and a former Welsh ombudsman.
I could spend another hour and a half speaking about Mr. Tyndall and praising him. I do not know where he has got the time to go through all that. We look forward to his opening statement. Before we hear from the Ombudsman, I propose that we publish his opening statement on the committee's website. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I suggest that Mr. Tyndall make his opening statement for about five or ten minutes and that we will then have questions and comments from the members. Each member will have about five minutes and members may speak more than once. It is my pleasure and my honour to invite Mr. Tyndall, Ombudsman, to make his opening statement.