Apologies have been received from Deputy Sean Sherlock and Senator Gerard Craughwell. I welcome everyone to the meeting today. We will be discussing issues facing former prisoners. We will hear from representatives from Coiste na n-Iarchimí. Unfortunately, representatives from EPIC, the Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre, were not in a position to attend this session due to other commitments but we hope to have them appear before us soon.
As we are all aware, since we last met an important anniversary was marked. Last week, on 10 April many members of this committee participated in important events that took place in Belfast to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Those events were timely and important and remind us of the huge gains that have been made as a result of the Good Friday Agreement, but also the challenges that remain as we all at political, community and individual level work towards the full implementation of the Agreement in all its parts. This committee will continue to play its part in that endeavour.
Before we commence, on behalf of the committee I would also like to take a moment to extend heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Frank Murray who passed away over Easter. He appeared before the committee in late January to discuss the very important work of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains, for which he was a commissioner since 2006. His commitment to the hugely important work of the commission was apparent at that meeting. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
We will now bring in the witnesses. I formally welcome to our meeting Mr. Michael Culbert, director of Coiste n-Iarchimí and Mr. Kevin Mulgrew, its chairman. We will invite them to make their opening statements and that will be followed by some questions from committee members. I am sure they know the format at this stage.
First, I must refer to the required notices. I remind members, guests and those in the Public Gallery to please ensure their mobile phones, tablets and other such devices are switched off completely for the duration of the meeting as they cause interference, even on silent mode, with the recording equipment in the committee rooms.
I also remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person or body outside the House, or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the committee. If, however, they are directed 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 and they 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. I invite Mr. Culbert to make his opening statement. The usual format is that we will then take questions from the floor.