Today's meeting will be split into two sections. The first is on the cross-border healthcare directive and the second will be on medicine supplies in Ireland post Brexit. There will be approximately one hour per session.
Witnesses giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence that they give to the committee. This means a witness has a full defence in any defamation action for anything said at a committee meeting. However witnesses are expected not to abuse this privilege and may be directed to cease giving evidence on an issue at the Chair's direction. Witnesses should follow the direction of the Chair in this regard. They are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that, as is reasonable, no adverse commentary should be made against an identifiable third party or entity.
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 a witness given evidence from within the parliamentary precincts and may consider it appropriate to take legal advice on the matter. Privilege against defamation does not apply to the publication by witnesses outside the proceedings held by the committee of any matter arising from the proceedings.
I remind members they are only allowed to participate in the meeting if they are physically located on the Leinster House complex. In this regard I ask all members prior to making their initial contribution to the meeting to confirm they are on the grounds of the Leinster House complex. Therefore, if they directed by the Chair to cease giving evidence on a particular matter, please follow that direction.
With regard to Covid guidance to members and witnesses, members and all in attendance are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of Covid-19. They are strongly advised to practise good hand hygiene and they will notice that every second seat has been removed to facilitate social distancing. I urge people not to remove any chair from its current position. Masks, preferably of a medical grade, should be worn at all times during the meeting except when speaking. I ask for co-operation on this.
I welcome our witnesses for the first session. I welcome from the Department of Health Mr. Muiris O'Connor, assistant secretary general at the research and development and health analytics division, Mr. Jonathan Patchell, principal officer at the international unit and Ms Emma-Jane Morgan, principal officer at the eligibility policy unit. I also welcome Ms Catherine Donohoe, general manager of the commercial unit in the acute hospital services section of the HSE.
I invite the witnesses to make their opening comments, after which we will then go to a question and answer session with members. I thank the witnesses for giving of their time and we look forward to engaging with them.
As we are having technical difficulties we will go into private session.