The purpose of the first part of our meeting is to have a discussion with the Irish Deaf Society on the formal recognition of Irish Sign Language, ISL. I welcome Dr. John Bosco Conama and Ms Wendy Murray, directors of the Irish Deaf Society, and Mr. Brian Crean, deaf adult literacy services manager with the Irish Deaf Society. I thank the delegates for their attendance this morning to discuss this most important issue. I also wish to extend a very warm welcome to Mr. Darren Byrne, who will be interpreting for us all this morning. The format of the meeting is that the delegates will be invited to make a brief opening statement and this will be followed by a question-and-answer session. I welcome members of the committee and extend a warm personal welcome to Senator Mark Daly who has a very special interest in this area.
Before we begin, I must draw our guests' attention to the situation regarding privilege. The witnesses should note that they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, 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 should be aware that under the salient rulings of the Chair, they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the House or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
I now invite Dr. Conama to make his opening statement.