The committee is meeting virtually through Microsoft Teams and in committee room 2 in Leinster House. Apologies have been received from Senator Flynn. I remind members to please ensure that their mobile phones are switched off for the duration of the meeting because they interfere with the broadcasting equipment even when in silent mode. I remind those who are located outside the precincts of Leinster House that they will not be marked as in attendance. The minutes of the meeting of 27 April 2021 have been circulated to all members. Are they agreed to? Agreed.
On behalf of the committee, I welcome Dr. Colman Noctor, board member of Mental Health Ireland, Ms Mary Briody, psychotherapist, and Dr. Claire Hayes, consultant clinical psychologist, Ms Stella O'Malley, psychotherapist, and Dr. Niall Muldoon, the Ombudsman for Children. The witnesses are here to brief the committee on school bullying and the impact on mental health. This is a special day for the committee as we commence our examination of a topic that can have a detrimental effect for many years on the lives of many people. The committee began looking at the issue in November last, when representatives of the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at Dublin City University, DCU, came before the committee on the first UN Day against Violence and Bullying at School including Cyberbullying. The meeting had a great impact on committee members and they agreed the issue warranted further consideration.
The format of the meeting is as follows. I will invite Dr. Noctor, Ms Briody, Dr. Hayes, Ms O'Malley and Dr. Muldoon, respectively, to make individual opening statements. The statements will be followed by questions from members of the committee, each of whom will have a six-minute slot to include the witnesses' responses. I will interrupt either the witness or the member after six minutes has passed.
Before we begin, I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses of the Oireachtas or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. As the witnesses are giving evidence remotely from a place outside the parliamentary precincts, and as such may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings that a witness physically present does, they have been advised that they may think it appropriate to take legal advice on the matter. They are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they 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 a person or entity. If, therefore, their statements are potentially defamatory to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed by me to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction.
I invite Dr. Noctor to make his opening statement.