The purpose of this section of the meeting is to discuss the issue of domestic and sexual violence with a number of stakeholders. Members will recall that the committee invited written submissions on this topic. Each group will be invited to make an opening statement of approximately five minutes. This will be followed by a question and answer session. I ask everybody to turn off their mobile phones. Silent or flight mode is not sufficient because it will interfere with the recording equipment. If anybody says something interesting during such interference, it will not be broadcast in the media or anywhere else. All phones should be turned off.
On behalf of the committee, I am pleased to welcome Ms Caroline Counihan of Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Ms Sarah Benson of Ruhama, Ms Laura Pohjolainen of the Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, Ms Maire Mulcahy of the women's committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Ms Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Dr. Teresa Whitaker of Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, Ms Lucy Smith of Ugly Mugs, Ms Felicity Kennedy of the Women's Therapy Centre, Ms Siobhan Barron of the National Disability Authority, Ms Fiona Hurley of Nasc and Ms Rita Harling of the Do or Die Foundation. They are all very welcome.
Before we begin, I want to draw the attention of all witnesses to the situation in relation to privilege. I ask them to note that they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the committee. If they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they 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. They are asked to respect the parliamentary practice that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any 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.
The purpose of this meeting is to assist the committee in bringing recommendations to the Government with respect to sexual and domestic violence. We are not going beyond that remit. If people talk about something else, I will bring them back to the subject of this meeting. I want to keep it focused. I invite the witnesses to speak for five minutes each. We will be as tight as we can on the time. I ask witnesses to bring up any salient points they want to make about sexual and domestic violence in Ireland. We want to focus on remedies. We know the problems. We know there are issues. We want to hear any ideas the witnesses might have about what the Government, the committee and the Oireachtas can do to remedy and address these issues. We need to prevent this from happening in the first place, if we can at all. I ask witnesses to focus on that.
After the opening statements, we will have a question and answer session. I will explain how that will work. The first person who arrived in will be invited to spend five minutes asking questions and getting answers. That is how we work it. The next person who came in will then have five minutes to ask questions and get answers. I do not want speeches from members. We can have speeches in the Houses. I want questions. Members should be trying to get information from the witnesses. That is what we are looking for because time is very tight. I ask Ms Caroline Counihan of Rape Crisis Network Ireland to make the first presentation. She has five minutes.