Business of Special Committee

As with the previous session I am loath to go into private session because it eats into the time we have available for witnesses. We will stay in public session unless members force me into private session. There are a couple of housekeeping matters that need to be agreed and they can be done quickly.

I proposed to meet this evening via Microsoft Teams but it is not logistically possible, so we will put that back to tomorrow if nobody disagrees with that. However, we must do it tomorrow because our recommendations have to go to the Business Committee. Is that agreed?

Do we have it arranged for tomorrow?

Will the Microsoft Teams technology be in place?

Yes, Teams is in place. Anybody who has a Microsoft device that is provided by the Houses or is compatible with it, and that the Houses accept as being compatible, will be able to access it, but some people have iPads, which creates a difficulty.

Are we in public session now?

Yes. We also need to agree about next week's sitting, which is on congregated settings, focusing on nursing homes. Do we also wish to cover direct provision next week or will we consider it separately at a future date?

I think we should consider it with the other congregated settings. I think it would be better if we could do that.

I am inclined to agree with that, unless somebody else disagrees.

May I just ask one question in that regard in light of today? If we bundle the two together, will it be two hours or four hours? Will we have the same witness issues? Will it be two separate sessions?

Given what we have learned from this morning, we will always have different sessions rather than double sessions. I do not see how we could accommodate double sessions.

Could we focus on the nursing homes in the first session next week and deal with direct provision and congregated settings in the second session?

Yes. We would deal with that in the second session. We have the facility to hold three sessions.

We agreed last Tuesday that we would give two sessions to the issue of nursing homes because it has been so significant. Some 62% of all deaths have occurred in residential settings. We agreed last Tuesday that we would have two sessions.

We can have two sessions on nursing homes and one on direct provision if the committee agrees to that. Rather than eating into our time now I would like to discuss it tomorrow. Perhaps we should push this discussion back until tomorrow. Is that agreed? Agreed. We will have to agree that tomorrow. There is another issue with regard to access to Microsoft Teams for parliamentary assistants and so on. We can discuss that tomorrow. Is there anything further?

In light of the end of the last session, how corrective will we be with timing in this afternoon's session? There was a discrepancy of more than five minutes between the time given to our party grouping and that given to another grouping. We have to have balance. That was very unfortunate.

I acknowledge there was a discrepancy, albeit of five minutes rather than of more than five minutes. Sinn Féin had 17 minutes, Fianna Fáil had 15 minutes and Fine Gael had only 12 minutes. I will seek to remedy that this afternoon.