The next matter on the agenda is engagement with SOLAS and Ireland's representatives at the WorldSkills competition in Russia. The purpose of this part of the meeting is to welcome Mr. Andrew Brownlee, the new chief executive officer of SOLAS, who will talk to us about the success of the team that represented Ireland in Russia earlier this year. We take this opportunity to wish Mr. Brownlee well in his new role. The Irish team has again done us proud by winning four gold medals, one bronze medal and seven medallions for excellence at the WorldSkills Competition. This is an excellent achievement and I have no doubt all of the competitors are proud. We are interested in hearing about their experiences at the competition.
On behalf of the committee, I welcome Mr. Brownlee, CEO; Mr. Ray English, chair of WorldSkills Ireland; Mr. Luke O'Keeffe; Mr. Ryan Dempsey; Mr. Ryan McLoughlin; Ms Megan Yeates; Ms Hanna Mathe; Mr. Pat Twomey; Mr. Chris Kehoe; Mr. Adam Flynn; Mr. Jack Lynch and; Mr. Mark Wasson, who all represented Ireland. I also welcome a number of people in the Gallery. Every team needs to have a good and supportive team beside them. I welcome Ms Shauna Dunlop and Mr. David Tracey, who were official observers; Mr. Michael Hourihan, who was an official delegate; Ms. Nikki Gallagher, director of communications and secretariat of SOLAS; Ms Emma Kelly, communications officer with SOLAS; and Ms Vivienne Patterson and Ms Louise Sherry from the Higher Education Authority.
The format of this part of the meeting is that I will invite Mr. Brownlee to make a brief opening statement. Mr. English will then contribute, after which we will have an engagement with members. If any of the other witnesses would like to contribute thereafter at any point, I ask them to indicate and I will be more than happy to allow them to do so.
Before we begin, I draw attention to the fact that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. However, if they are directed by myself, as Chair, to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in relation to their evidence. They are directed by myself that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity, by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I also wish to advise witnesses that any submission or opening statements that they make to the committee will be published on the committee website after this meeting. Members are also reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice members to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses, or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
I now invite Mr. Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, to make his opening statement.