We are dealing with the 2001 financial statements for Teagasc and Moorepark Technology Limited. I welcome members and witnesses. Witnesses should be aware that they do not enjoy absolute privilege and should be apprised as follows. As and from 2 August 1998, section 10 of the Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act 1997 grants certain rights to persons identified in the course of the committee's proceedings. These include the right to give evidence; the right to produce or send documents to the committee; the right to appear before the committee, either in person or through a representative; the right to make a written and oral submission; the right to request the committee to direct the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and the right to cross-examine witnesses. For the most part, these rights may only be exercised with the consent of the committee. Persons invited to appear before the committee are made aware of these rights, and any persons identified in the course of proceedings who are not present may have to be made aware of these rights and provided with the transcript of the relevant part of the proceedings that the committee considers appropriate in the interests of justice.
Notwithstanding this provision in legislation, I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the House, or an official, either by name, or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. Members are also reminded that under Standing Order 156, the committee should refrain from inquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of the Government, or a Minister of the Government, or the merits of the objectives of such policy or policies.
I welcome Mr. Flanagan, director of Teagasc, and ask him to introduce his officials.