Apologies have been received from Senator Eileen Flynn and Senator Fiona O'Loughlin, who is being substituted by Senator Malcolm Byrne.
I remind members to ensure that their mobile phones are switched off for the duration of the meeting as they interfere with the broadcasting equipment of the House even when on silent mode.
The minutes of the meeting of 28 September 2021 have been circulated among members. Are the minutes agreed to? Agreed.
I ask people to remain on mute until I call on them to speak.
On behalf of the committee, I welcome Mr. Eamon Dennehy, president, the Association of Secondary School Teachers Ireland, ASTI; Mr. Frank Jones, general secretary, the Irish Federation of University Teachers, and representing the education sector group of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Ms Máirín Ní Chéileachair, assistant general secretary, Irish National Teachers Organisation; Ms Emer Neville, uachtarán, Irish Second Level Students Union; Mr. Michael Gillespie, general secretary, the Teachers Union of Ireland, TUI; and Ms Clare Austick, president, the Union of Students in Ireland.
The witnesses are here for a round-table discussion on the leaving certificate reform, with reference to the assessment options, key subject areas and digital learning, access, equality and well-being supports, and the Irish language and Irish-medium education. The format of the meeting is that I will invite Mr. Dennehy to make an opening statement, followed by Mr. Jones, Ms Ní Chéileachair, Ms Neville, Mr. Gillespie and, finally, Ms Austick. The statements will be followed by questions from members of the committee. Each member has an eight-minute slot to ask questions and for the witnesses to respond, and I will be strict on the eight minutes as we have normally had six-minute slots. As the witnesses are probably aware, the committee will publish their opening statements on its website following this meeting.
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 or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. 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 as a witness physically present does. They have already been advised of this matter. They are reminded also of the long-standing parliamentary practice that witnesses should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable or engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of a person or entity. If they do so and their statements are potentially defamatory in respect of an identifiable person or entity, I will direct them to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction from the Chair.
I now call on Mr. Dennehy to make his opening statement, followed by the other witnesses, as I outlined a few minutes ago. I will not call on each individual witness. I will let them follow on one from the other. Mr. Dennehy has four minutes. Is Mr. Dennehy there? Mr. Dennehy is not there. Mr. Frank Jones, can you hear me? Ms Ní Chéileachair, can you hear me? None of the witnesses can hear me. We will suspend the sitting.