I begin by urging everybody, including those in the Gallery, to please switch off all mobile phones immediately as they interfere with the sound recording equipment. As the members of the press are taking their seats, I reiterate that they should please ensure mobile phones are switched off. No apologies have been received this morning. Today's public session is a discussion with the Garda Commissioner on issues of public concern that have been the subject of media coverage in recent days, including fixed charge notices and how it is that 14,700 wrongful convictions were secured as a result of Garda error; and breath test data that revealed 937,000 breath tests were falsely recorded on the PULSE system.
I welcome the Garda Commissioner, Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan, who is joined by Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn and Mr. Joe Nugent, who is chief administrative officer with An Garda Síochána. They are joined in the Gallery by Mr. Andrew McLindon, director of communications; Superintendent Marie Broderick from the Garda Commissioner's office; and Superintendent Paul Murray, the press officer. On behalf of the committee I thank them for their attendance today and accepting our invitation in order to discuss these important matters.
The format of the meeting is that the witnesses will be invited to make a brief opening statement and this will be followed by a question and answer session. Before inviting the Garda Commissioner to begin, I must provide the normal caution relating to privilege. I draw the attention of all witnesses to the fact that they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to 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 asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person or an 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 Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I ask all members to conduct their questioning without recourse to inappropriate language or charge.
I remind members the committee does not have the power to make findings of fact or expressions of opinion adverse to the good name or reputation of a citizen not a Member of these Houses. I also remind members to confine questioning to the matters directly before us for address today. The Garda Commissioner will address those now in her opening statement.