I have received apologies from Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile and I welcome Senator Lynn Boylan who is substituting for him. Our agenda is a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Deputy Simon Coveney, on the appointment of special envoys. We meet again this morning with the Minister, Deputy Coveney, as a follow up to last week's meeting in respect of the appointment of special envoys. He is very welcome here today. I also want to welcome officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, namely, Mr. Niall Burgess, Mr Joe. Hackett, Secretary General, Ms Alma Ní Choigligh and Mr. Chris Donoghue. I wish to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs for the comprehensive file of documents received before this meeting.
As we all know, there has been much comment in the weekend press and otherwise and about this committee. Indeed, there has been some comment about my role as Cathaoirleach. I wish to state that I take my responsibilities seriously as Chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence. Indeed, I know that all of the members of this committee take their responsibilities in a most serious manner. The committee carries out its functions in a careful, considered and impartial manner. This committee is very conscious of the fact that this month Ireland holds the chair of the United Nations Security Council. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ireland's permanent representative at the United Nations, Geraldine Byrne Nason, and her team have the full support of this committee in their work. This work is most important for Ireland and the United Nations. Ireland can take pride in the fact that we have diplomats of the highest calibre working for Ireland and international organisations such as the United Nations.
The Minister, Deputy Coveney, is here today at his request to provide further information and clarification on the sequence of events surrounding the proposed nomination of Katherine Zappone as a UN special envoy. I intend to ensure that the Minister is given a fair hearing and that members of the committee will have adequate opportunity to question the Minister on matters relating to the sequence of events leading to the appointment. I expect these proceedings to be carried out in a dignified and respectful manner.
The format of the meeting is that following the opening comments of the Minister I will open the floor to questions from members. Each member has an eight-minute slot today to ask questions and for the Minister to respond. There will be no grouping of members. I will take members in order by party and group. Should time permit, members will be called on again and allocated one minute for questions and the Minister will be allocated one minute to respond. I remind the Minister and 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 to make him or her identifiable. I also wish to remind members that they are only allowed to participate in this meeting if they are physically based and located within the Leinster House complex. I now call on the Minister, Deputy Coveney, to make his opening comments.