I am sorry for rushing everybody but because of Covid-19 restrictions we try to limit the meetings to one hour. I welcome Mr. Don O'Leary, director, Ms Caoimhe Cotter, current student, and Mr. Rhys Wooten, former student, of the Cork Life Centre. The witnesses are here to discuss early school-leavers and the goal of alternative education with reference to the resourcing and recognition of alternative education settings. I will invite the witnesses to make a brief opening statement, which will be followed by questions from members of the committee. The committee will publish the opening statement on its website following today's meeting.
I remind members of the longstanding parliamentary practice, which they all know. I remind the witnesses that they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the presentations that they make to the committee today. This means that they have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything that they may say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse the privilege and it is my duty as Chairman to ensure that this privilege is not abused. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory in respect of an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed by me to discontinue their remarks and it is imperative that they comply with any such direction.
I invite Mr. O'Leary to make his opening statement for three minutes, followed by Ms Cotter for one minute and she will be followed by Mr. Wooten for another minute. The witnesses have five minutes in total and then members will have four minutes each to ask questions and for the witnesses to reply. I will call on speakers to conclude their remarks after four minutes.