The committee is meeting in public session after a short suspension to allow the witnesses to take their seats. Apologies have been received from Deputy Jim O'Callaghan and Senator Eileen Flynn. I remind members of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present in the confines of the place where Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House. I will not allow committee members to participate in public meetings where they are not adhering to the constitutional requirement that they have to be in Leinster House. I remind members to ensure their mobile phones are switched off for the duration of the meeting as they interfere with broadcasting equipment even on silent mode. Are the minutes of the meeting of 2 November 2021 agreed? Agreed.
This is a meeting with organisations regarding leaving certificate reform. On behalf of the committee, I welcome Dr. Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, Ms Suzanne Connolly, CEO of Barnardos, Ms Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance, Ms Beatrice Dooley, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, Ms Mai Fanning, president of the National Parents Council Post Primary, and Mr. Daire Hennessy, chairman of the youth steering committee of Citywise Education.
Our witnesses are here to discuss leaving certificate reform with references to assessment options, key subject areas and digital learning, access, equality and well-being supports, Irish language and Irish medium education. The format of the meeting is that I will invite Dr. Muldoon to make an opening statement followed by Ms Connolly, Ms Ward, Ms Dooley, Ms Fanning and Mr. Hennessy. This will be followed by questions from members of the committee. Each member has an eight-minute slot to ask questions and for the witnesses to respond. I ask members to direct their questions to specific witnesses.
As the witnesses are probably aware, the committee will publish the opening statements on its website following the meeting. Before beginning I remind members of the long-standing practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable, or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of a person or entity. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory about an identifiable person they will be directed by the Chair to discontinue their remarks and it is imperative that they comply with this direction.
I invite Dr. Muldoon to make his opening statement, followed by the other witnesses as I outlined earlier. Each witness will have four minutes and I ask them to stick to this time.