If any members or witnesses participating remotely are experiencing any sound or technical issues, could you let us know through the chat function? Otherwise, we will proceed.
Deputy Jennifer Whitmore is substituting for Deputy Holly Cairns. We have received apologies from Deputy Sean Sherlock.
I remind members who are participating remotely to keep their devices on mute until they are invited to speak. While they are speaking I ask that, where possible, they have their cameras switched on and be mindful that we are in public session.
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 or the convention centre, 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 at the meeting from outside the precincts will be refused.
Our business today is consideration of the National Action Plan for Childminding 2021-2028. I welcome all our witnesses. Everybody is joining us virtually and will address the committee via Microsoft Teams. The following witnesses will address the committee: Ms Marian Quinn, chairperson, and Ms Ida Lane, Association of Childhood Professionals; Ms Bernadette Orbinski Burke, chief executive, and Ms Mary Walsh, chairperson, Childminding Ireland; and Ms Teresa Heeney, chief executive officer, and Ms Frances Byrne, director of policy and advocacy, Early Childhood Ireland. Ms Heeney is attending another meeting with the Minister and will join us once she can get to this meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to engage with the witnesses on the action plan, the aim of which is to provide greater recognition of childminding and to support childminders in their work of providing high-quality early learning care and school-age childcare, thus supporting child development and learning outcomes and helping families. It is envisaged that the action plan will involve change and significant benefits for childminders, children and the families using childminding services. Members wish to hear the opinions of stakeholders working in the industry on the provisions of the action plan.
Before I invite witnesses to give their opening statements, I need to remind them about parliamentary privilege when addressing a parliamentary committee. As all the witnesses are appearing before the committee virtually, I need to point out that there is uncertainty as to whether parliamentary privilege will apply to their evidence if given from a location outside of the parliamentary precincts of Leinster House. Therefore, if I direct witnesses to cease giving evidence relating to a particular matter, it is imperative that they comply with any such direction.
I will call on the witnesses in the order in which they are to deliver their opening statements. We will go first to Ms Ida Lane, then Ms Orbinski Burke and, finally, Ms Frances Byrne. We will have questions and answers when all the witnesses are finished.