Apologies have been received from Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Senator Annie Hoey, Chris Hazzard MP, Paul Maskey MP, and Francie Molloy MP. Senator Emer Currie will be late as she has a Commencement matter in the Seanad.
I request members to sit only in the permitted seats and in front of the available microphones to ensure that they are heard. This is important as not doing so causes serious problems for broadcasting, editorial and sound staff. I remind them to please maintain social distancing at all time during and following the meeting. Members are requested to use the wipes and hand sanitizers provided to clean seats and desks to supplement regular sanitation in the breaks between meetings. Members are requested to turn off their mobile phones completely or switch them to flight mode.
As this time slot is limited to an hour and a half, I will call each group for a maximum of eight minutes. Is the rota for questioning agreed? Agreed.
On behalf of the committee I particularly welcome Professor John FitzGerald, adjunct professor at the department of economics, UCD, and Professor Edgar Morgenroth, professor of economics, DCU business school. I thank them for attending in the short notice we had to give for this meeting. We look forward to their address and the subsequent questioning.
The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected pursuant to both the Constitution and statute by absolute privilege. However, witnesses and participants who are to give evidence from a location outside the parliamentary precincts are asked to note that they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts and may consider it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter.
Witnesses are also asked to note that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they should respect directions given by the Chair and 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 or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the person's or entity's good name. I invite Professor FitzGerald to make his opening statement.