Apologies have been received from Deputy Whitmore and Senator Ruane. We will have two sessions today. The first session will consider the issue of protecting the right of the child to his or her history and identity, including his or her genetic, gestational and social origins, and ensuring that existing children born through international surrogacy arrangements can exercise their right to their history and identity, including their genetic, gestational and social origins. On behalf of the committee, I welcome the Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon, and his colleagues, Ms Sarah Groarke and Dr. Karen McAuley. I also welcome clinical child psychologist Ms Caoimhe Nic Dhomhnaill, who is attending online.
Before we begin, I will read a note on privilege and some housekeeping matters. 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 relating to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction.
There are some limitations to parliamentary privilege for witnesses attending remotely from outside the Leinster House campus and as such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as witnesses physically present do. Witnesses participating in this committee session from a jurisdiction outside the State are advised that they should also be mindful of their domestic law and how it may apply to evidence they give.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to him or her identifiable. I remind members of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present within the confines of the Leinster House complex in order to participate in public meetings. I will not permit a member to participate where they are not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate from outside the precincts of Leinster House will be asked to leave the meeting. In this regard, I ask any member participating via Microsoft Teams to confirm that he or she is on the grounds of the Leinster House campus prior to making his or her contribution to the meeting. I remind those present to wear masks where possible throughout the meeting.