The purpose of this meeting is to resume our engagement on the general scheme of the judicial appointments commission Bill 2020. We are engaging with stakeholders who made written submissions on the general scheme. This is the second instalment of our engagement on this matter. We had a previous engagement about four weeks ago with a number of other witnesses. I thank Deputy Carroll MacNeill for chairing that session in my absence. She is our in-house expert on the topics involved and I thank her for stepping into the breach. She is also the Vice Chairman of the committee and has a particular expertise and interest in the matter.
Today's witnesses are appearing virtually before the committee from outside the Leinster House precincts. As per the current fashion, we are holding remote sessions and that is working well on a practical level but there are some limitations. I welcome the witnesses to the meeting. We are joined by Mr. Liam Herrick of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. ICCL. Mr. Herrick is welcome. His organisation is becoming familiar to the committee and I thank him for his continued input. We are also joined by Ms Gemma McLoughlin-Burke, also from the ICCL. I thank Ms McLoughlin-Burke for attending. She is a procedural rights fellow at the ICCL. We are also joined by Mr. Kevin Condon, a principal officer from the civil legislation unit in the Department of Justice. The Department's representatives regularly attend and participate in our meetings. I thank all involved for being here.
I invite witnesses and members to make sure they unmute their devices when they are addressing the committee so that we can capture the sound. 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.
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 in the committee room would, and I ask them to be mindful of that.
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 Houses 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 offer the usual advice about keeping their devices on mute until they speak. They might have their cameras switched on unless they need to turn them off and be mindful that we are in public session. There is the procedural privilege requirement that because of the constitutional requirement as interpreted by the Houses of the Oireachtas that members must be physically present within the confines of the place, namely, Leinster House, a member cannot participate from outside Leinster House in this session or, indeed, any similar sessions.
Finally, I remind members that the clock is as always against us. We have two hours for the session. That is a decent period but if we run up against the clock, we have a strict cut-off point because of Covid limitations. I ask members and witnesses to adhere to the subject matter because I will not be able to let the meeting stray too far off the agenda.
The format of the meeting is that each witness and or organisation will be invited to make an opening statement of approximately five minutes. Once the opening statements have been delivered, I will call on members of the committee to put their questions or comments to the witnesses and the meeting. Depending on the time, there may be an opportunity for a second such round. Effectively, we will have opening statements from the witnesses, we will have questions and comments from members, and we might do one or two rounds depending on time. As I said, the duration of the meeting is limited.
I will move on to the witnesses. I will begin with Mr. Herrick, who has been with us before and who is very welcome back. I am delighted to have him with us again. Mr. Herrick has five minutes in which to make his opening comments.