Ar son a choiste ba mhaith liom fáilte a ghabháil roimh an Dr. Anthony Soares, an Dr. Aoife Ní Lochlainn, an Uasal Tara Farrell, agus an Uasal Stephen Douds go dtí an coiste inniu. Beimid ag dúil go mór leis an díospóireacht iontach tábhachtach ar na ceisteanna agus na cúrsaí trasteorann.
Before beginning there are some housekeeping matters and the privilege notice. I apologise in advance as it is a long note on privilege. All witnesses 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 the person or entity. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory with regard to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction. For witnesses attending remotely outside the Leinster House campus, there are some limitations to parliamentary privilege and, as such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness who is physically present does. Witnesses participating in this meeting from a jurisdiction outside the State are advised that they should also be mindful of their domestic law and how it may apply to the evidence they give.
Members are reminded 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.
For people watching this meeting, Members of the Oireachtas and witnesses now have the option of being physically present in the committee room or of joining the meeting remotely via Microsoft Teams. I remind members of the constitutional requirement that members must be physically present within the confines of the Leinster House complex in order to participate in public meetings. I will not permit members to participate where they are not adhering to the constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate from outside the precincts will be asked to leave the meeting. In this regard, I ask any members participating via Microsoft Teams that, prior to making a contribution to the meeting, they confirm that they are on the grounds of the Leinster House campus. If members are attending in the committee room, they are asked to exercise personal responsibility to protect themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19. They are strongly advised to practise good hand hygiene and leave at least one seat vacant between themselves and others attending the meeting. Attendees should also maintain an appropriate level of social distancing during and after the meeting. Masks should be worn at all times during the meeting, except when speaking.
After all that, I invite Dr. Anthony Soares to make his opening statement. He is very welcome.