The purpose of this engagement is to meet the new Garda Commissioner, Mr. Drew Harris, to discuss matters related to An Garda Síochána and its future direction. The Commissioner is joined by the deputy commissioner, Mr. John Twomey, who is welcome back, and the chief administrative officer, Mr. Joseph Nugent, who is also welcome. The Commissioner is also joined by Mr. Andrew McLindon, director of communications, and Ms Marie Broderick, superintendent in the office of the Commissioner. We are joined in the Visitors Gallery by Mr. Liam Geraghty from the Garda press and public relations office. I extend a warm welcome to the Commissioner and congratulate him on his recent appointment. I ask all those in attendance to ensure their mobile phones are switched off or left in flight mode as they interfere with the recording and broadcasting equipment.
Witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the joint 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 entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
Members of the committee 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 invite the Commissioner to make his opening statement.