Apologies have been received from Senator Gallagher. Senator Horkan is attending in substitution for him. The Senator is very welcome. The purpose of the meeting is to have an engagement with a number of stakeholders who have made written submissions on the general scheme of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2020. All witnesses are appearing virtually before the committee this afternoon from a location outside the Leinster House precincts. I welcome the witnesses to our meeting.
We are joined from the Law Society of Ireland by Mr. James Cahill, president, and Ms Mary Keane, director general; from the Council of the Bar of Ireland, Ms Maura McNally, chair, and Ms Mema Byrne, member; Dr. Patrick O'Brien, from Oxford Brookes University; Dr. Laura Cahillane, University of Limerick; Dr. Tom Hickey, Dublin City University; and Dr. David Kenny, Trinity College Dublin. I congratulate Ms Keane on her recent appointment.
I ask members and witnesses to mute their devices while not contributing to avoid picking up background noise or feedback. I also ask that they use the "raise hand" function when they wish to contribute. As usual, I remind all those in attendance to ensure their mobile phones are on silent mode.
Before I invite the witnesses to deliver their opening statements, I advise them of the following regarding parliamentary 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 a person or entity. Therefore, if 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 any such direction.
For witnesses attending remotely outside of 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 committee session from a jurisdiction outside of the State are advised that they should also be mindful of their domestic law and how it may apply to any evidence they may 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 of the House or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. For members who are participating remotely, I ask them to keep their devices on mute until they are invited to speak. When speaking, where possible I ask that they should have their camera switched on and be mindful that we are in public session.
In addition, I remind members of the constitutional requirements that they must be physically present within the confines of the place in which the Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House, in order to participate in public meetings. I will not permit a member to participate where he or she is not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate in the meeting from outside of the precinct will be refused.
I remind members and witnesses that they are expected to strictly adhere to the subject matter scheduled for discussion today. Any deviation from these matters will be addressed through the Chair.
I will invite each organisation in turn to make an opening statement for a maximum of five minutes. Once all the opening statements have been delivered, I will call on members of the committee in the order that they indicate to me, to put their questions. In the remaining time there will be an opportunity for supplementary questions. The duration of the meeting is limited. Therefore, we must strictly adhere to the time allocated. All speakers should focus on that in their contributions. I invite Mr. Cahill to make his opening statement.