Apologies have been received from Deputy Carroll MacNeill, Senators Hoey and Black, Mr. John Finucane MP and Mr. Colum Eastwood MP.
Oireachtas Members attending the meeting remotely should do so from within the Leinster House campus. Remote participation from outside the campus is not possible by ruling of the House.
I must read the following document out now. Members and all in attendance are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves. I know with the august guests that we have here with us today that they would know more about this than anybody. All present are strongly advised to practice good hand hygiene and every second seat has been removed to facilitate social distancing. Those in attendance are asked not to move their chair and they should also maintain an appropriate level of social distance during and after the meeting. Masks, preferably of medical grade, should be worn at all times except when speaking. I know that all in attendance will co-operate with these instructions.
As to the rota for questions, I am proposing to call members in the following rotation order and time limits, repeating as time allows. We change the rotation at every meeting in the interests of fairness to all members. We will try 15 minute slots and we will try to keep proceedings moving in that way. Fianna Fáil will be followed by Fine Gael, and Sinn Féin, followed then by the SDLP and the Alliance Party, including all Independents, Aontú representative Deputy Tóibín, Deputy McNamara, and Senators Mullen and Black and then back around to Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and the Green Party. Are these rota and times for questioning arrangements agreed by members? They are agreed.
Before we start I wish to say that we are in public session and at the end of our meeting we will have a short private discussion about our trip to Belfast, what we are doing there, and I will probably bring members up to date on that then.
Our engagement today is with Professor William Gallagher, Professor Mark Lawler, Professor Maeve Lowery, Mr. Ciaran Briscoe and Ms Eibhlín Mulroe. This is the core working group for the proposed all-island cancer research institute, which is of great importance for everybody's health, North and South. It is great to have our guest witnesses here and it is very important that we have an opportunity to hear what they have to say and, hopefully, as Members of the Oireachtas, to act as we can to assist. We are not a health committee but we are the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. We will do all that we can to further this group's aims and will universally support it in every respect. I welcome all of our guests to today's meeting.
I will now read the standard privilege piece. 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 does 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 the proceedings should be given and should respect directions given by the Chairperson of the committee to the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should neither criticise nor 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 which might be regarded as damaging to the person's or entity's good name. We read this document before every meeting and it is a standard procedure. I now call on Professor William Gallagher to make his opening statement, please?