Today's meeting is on the cross-border healthcare directive. The witnesses for today's meeting are from the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive, Kingsbridge Private Hospital and the Defence Forces' representative association, PDFORRA.
I remind witnesses that 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 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 witnesses 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 the proceedings should be given. They should respect directions given by the Chair and the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should neither criticise nor 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 person or entity's good name.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not commit or make charges against a person outside the Houses, or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I remind members that they are only allowed to participate in this meeting if they are physically located on the Leinster House campus. In this regard, I ask all members, prior to making their initial contributions, to confirm that they are on the grounds of Leinster House. Participants in the committee meeting from a location outside the parliamentary precincts are asked to note that the constitutional protection afforded to those participating within the parliamentary precincts does not extend to them.
No clear guidance can be given on whether or to what extent their participation is covered by absolute privilege of a statutory nature. Therefore, if they are directed by the Chair to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter, they must respect that direction. There are ongoing Teams and ICT issues that are being worked on so I ask participants to bear with us if we encounter any glitches during the meeting. It is just one of the facts of life when doing things remotely.
Our witnesses from the Department of Health are Mr. Muiris O'Connor, assistant secretary, research and development and health analytics division, Mr. Jonathan Patchell, principal officer, international unit, and Ms Emma-Jane Morgan, principal officer, eligibility policy unit. We are also joined by Ms Catherine Donohoe, general manager, commercial unit, acute hospital services at the HSE.
I understand there will be one opening statement on behalf of the group. I thank all four witnesses for attending and invite them to make their opening statement.