The committee is meeting this morning to discuss the issue of homelessness. I wish to remind members that, since they are attending remotely, the Debates Office has asked that each speaker be clearly identified by name to help ensure the accuracy of the Official Report. If members clearly identify themselves and state that they are within the confines of Leinster House, it would be helpful for the committee.
We are joined remotely by Ms Mary Flynn, acting director, and Mr. Brendan Kenny, deputy chief executive, from the Dublin Regional Housing Executive, DRHE. We are also joined by Dr. Una Burns, head of policy and communications with Novas, Professor Eoin O'Sullivan, who is a professor of social policy at Trinity College Dublin, and Ms Alice Leahy, director of the Alice Leahy Trust.
A number of opening statements and briefing material have been circulated to members. I realise that we did not get all the opening statements. We will try to get those statements and put them up on the Oireachtas website. I will ask the witnesses to make their opening statements presently. Members will then be invited to address their questions. Members should confine their questioning to five minutes, and that includes time for the witnesses to respond. If we stick to that, we should be able to get in a second round of questions.
Members attending within the Leinster House complex are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their contributions.
This means that they have have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything that they say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse this privilege. It is my duty, as Chair, to ensure that this privilege is not abused. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory in relation to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with such direction.
For witnesses and members attending remotely, there are some limitations to parliamentary privilege. As such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a person who is physically present. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given. They are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to that effect. Where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
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.
I invite Mr. Kenny to make an opening statement on behalf of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.