I welcome everyone to this public virtual meeting using Microsoft Teams. Apologies have been received from Senator Fintan Warfield.
The Ceann Comhairle, Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl, and the Cathaoirleach, Senator Mark Daly, have appealed to everybody in the parliamentary community to continue to follow public health advice, wear masks and maintain social distancing. The Ceann Comhairle has asked that only committee members, the Chairman and required service staff should be present in the committee room. All members should, therefore, attend committee meetings remotely from their offices within the Leinster House campus unless required to attend in person for voting in committee.
Witnesses should not be requested to attend the committee room and should be facilitated in giving evidence remotely from within the precincts or from outside Leinster House, subject to being advised that privilege may not apply to evidence given from outside the precincts. This will help to reduce the risk of Covid-19, including the Delta and Omicron variants, spreading among the parliamentary community. Masks, preferably of medical grade, should always be worn during the meeting, except when speaking. I ask for full co-operation on this.
I propose that we approve the minutes of the private and public meetings held on 8 and 9 December 2021, which have already been approved at a virtual meeting. We must do this for procedural reasons. Is that agreed? Agreed.