We have two sessions today. This afternoon, we will meet representatives of the HSE to discuss primary care centres and other matters. This morning, we are dealing with 2018 financial statements of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. As we last met representatives of the board on 16 May 2019, it is timely that we are engaging with them again on the management of the children's hospital project and the associated costs of this key capital project for the State. In the committee's sixth periodic report, we made a number of recommendations relating to and arising from our previous meetings on the 2017 accounts. Today's meeting gives us an opportunity to review the progress that has been made in addressing these issues.
We are joined this morning by Mr. David Gunning, who is the chief executive officer of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. I think this is the first time he has attended a meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts. He is welcome. Mr. Gunning is accompanied by Mr. Fred Barry, who is the chairperson of the board; Mr. Jim Farragher, who is the board's finance officer; Mr. Phelim Devine, who is the board's project director; and Dr. Emma Curtis, who is the board's medical director. We are also joined this morning by Mr. Jim Breslin, who is the Secretary General of the Department of Health. He is accompanied by Mr. Barry McGreal, who is a principal officer in the new children's hospital unit of the Department, and Mr. Liam Morris of the Department's acute hospitals division. Ms Pamela Carter, who is a principal officer in the Department, and Ms Anna Wallace, who is an assistant principal in the Department, are also in attendance. We are also joined this morning by Mr. Dean Sullivan of the HSE chief strategy office and by Mr. Jim Curran, who is the head of estates with the HSE. Mr. Paul de Freine, who is the HSE's chief architectural adviser, is also in attendance. We are also joined this morning by Ms Eilísh Hardiman, who is the chief executive of Children's Health Ireland. All of the witnesses are very welcome.
I remind members, witnesses and those in the Gallery to turn all mobile phones off. That means putting them into airplane mode. Merely putting them on silent can still interfere with the recording system. I wish to advise all witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. If they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given. They are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members of the committee are reminded of the provisions within Standing Order 186 that the committee shall also 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 policies. While we expect witnesses to answer questions asked by the committee clearly and with candour, witnesses can and should expect to be treated fairly and with respect and consideration at all times, in accordance with the witness protocol.
I invite the Comptroller and Auditor General to make his opening statement.