We are here to discuss the proposed referendum on the right to housing. We are joined, in person, by Mr. Wayne Stanley, chair, Home for Good Coalition, and Ms Rebecca Keatinge, Mercy Law Research Centre. We are joined, via video link, by Professor Gerry Whyte, Trinity College Dublin, and Ms Rosemary Hennigan, Focus Ireland. I thank them for their attendance and for the submissions they made in advance.
Members have been furnished with the opening statement as well as a more detailed briefing note. I shall first ask the representative of the Home for Good Coalition to make an opening statement and members will then be invited to address their questions. I urge people to limit their questions and answers to five minutes so that we can get around the room for a second round of questions, and follow-up questions.
The witnesses attending in the committee room are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the presentation that they make to the committee. This means that they have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything they say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse this privilege. It is my duty, as Chair, to ensure that such privilege is not abused and, therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory regarding an identifiable person or entity they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction.
For witnesses attending remotely, there are some limitations to parliamentary privilege and, as such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as enjoyed by a witness who is physically present. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. The opening statements submitted to the committee will be published on the committee's website after the meeting.
I invite Mr. Stanley or Ms Keatinge to make an opening statement on behalf of the Home for Good Coalition. On conclusion we will proceed to questions.