I am delighted to have our very important guests with us today. We are meeting with representatives from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, Unite the Union, SIPTU and Dr. Deirdre Curran of the National University of Ireland Galway, NUIG, to discuss working conditions and skills shortages in the tourism and hospitality sector. This could not come at a better time, as things begin to reopen slowly but surely.
I would like to welcome from ICTU, Mr. Liam Berney, industrial officer; from Unite the Union, Ms Julia Marciniak, hospitality and tourism co-ordinator, and Ms Rhona McCord, research, communications and community officer; from the Services Industry Professional and Technical Union, SIPTU, Mr. Denis Hynes, hospitality organiser; and Dr. Deirdre Curran, lecturer in NUIG.
The format of the meeting is such that I invite witnesses to make their opening statements which will be followed by questions from members of the committee. The committee may publish the opening statements on the website following today's meeting. Before I invite witnesses to deliver their opening statements, which are limited to three minutes, I must advise you of the parliamentary privilege rules. Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person 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 good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory in relation to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. As some of our witnesses today are attending remotely from outside the Leinster House campus, please note there are some limitations to parliamentary privilege and, as such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness physically present here does.
I will call on our guests to make their opening statements. I call Mr. Berney, representing the ICTU.