We begin with the minutes of the meeting of 10 March 2021, which were previously agreed in private session. Are they agreed? Agreed.
This meeting has been convened with representatives from the Licensed Vintners Association, the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation and the Restaurants Association of Ireland for a round-table discussion on the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality sector. The witnesses will be joining the meeting remotely via Microsoft Teams. I welcome: Mr. Donall O’Keeffe, CEO, and Mr. Noel Anderson, vice chair, of the Licensed Vintners Association; Mr. Padraig Cribben, chief executive, and Mr. Padraic McGann, national president, of the Vintners Federation of Ireland; Mr. Tim Fenn, CEO, and Ms Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, president, of the Irish Hotels Federation; and Mr. Adrian Cummins, CEO, and Mr. Mark McGowan of the Restaurants Association of Ireland.
The format of the meeting is such that I will invite witnesses to make opening statements. These will be followed by questions from committee members. Witnesses are probably aware that the committee will publish the opening statements on its website following the meeting. I will call on each organisation to deliver their opening statements in the following order: first, the Licensed Vintners Association, second, the Vintners Federation of Ireland, third, the Irish Hotels Federation, and, finally, the Restaurants Association of Ireland.
Before I invite the witnesses to deliver their opening statements, I want to advise them of the following in regard to parliamentary privilege. I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against any person or entity either 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 that person or entity. If witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory in the context of the identification of a person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that witnesses comply with any such direction. As our witnesses today are attending from outside the precincts of the Leinster House campus, they should please note that there are some limitations on parliamentary privilege and, as such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness physically present does.
I remind members again of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present within the confines of Leinster House in order to participate in this public meeting. I will not permit a member to participate where he or she is not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Any member who attempts to participate from outside the precincts will be asked to leave the meeting.
I would also like to ask members and witnesses to mute their microphones when not contributing in order to reduce background noise and feedback. I ask that they use their raise hand buttons when they wish to make a contribution. I also remind them to ensure that their mobile phones are on silent mode or switched off.
With all that housekeeping out of the way, I am delighted to welcome our guests to this very important meeting. As we know, they represent a sector that has been wiped out by Covid-19. There is no other way to put it. We are delighted to have them here today to give their statements and witness accounts of the deep crisis the sector finds itself in. I call on the Licensed Vintners Association to make its opening statement and comments to the committee.