Business of Joint Committee

Apologies have been received from Deputies Jennifer Murnane O'Connor and John Paul Phelan.

It is a singular honour to be elected Chairman of the committee. I welcome the new Members of the Dáil and the Seanad, and Members of the previous Dáil and Seanad. I hope the committee will make a difference to people who live with disabilities, and their families. I intend to try to push it to the extreme and be as effective as humanly possible. We can only be effective with members' guidance and co-operation. I know that each and every member has an interest in it and will be able to drive it as far as possible. We need to use the committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas to advance the cause of people with disabilities, in conjunction with all other stakeholders. That I intend to do. I am really looking forward to the challenge.

Everything has been affected by Covid, which could not have been envisaged a short time ago. The challenges presented will also require a different approach to how Oireachtas committees conduct their business. I trust that all members will work with me to ensure that this committee works as effectively and safely as possible during these challenging times.

This is my third Oireachtas committee to chair. I have always acted impartially and fairly, and that I intend to do. I look forward to working with the committee members. When we have witnesses in front of the committee, I ask that we treat them with the utmost respect. The strength of our committee will be to get as much information as possible from our witnesses to empower us. Making sure the witnesses are treated with the utmost respect while in front of us will generate the best result.