The committee is meeting today to deal with pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the affordable housing Bill 2020. We are joined remotely by the following witnesses from the County and City Management Association, CCMA: Mr. Frank Curran, chair of the housing, building and land use committee; Mr. Eddie Taaffe, programme co-ordinator, housing delivery and co-ordination office, and Ms Catherine Keenan, director of services, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. We are also joined from the Housing Alliance by Ms Sharon Cosgrove, chief executive, Oaklee Housing, Mr. Declan Dunne, chief executive, Respond, and Mr. Brian O’Gorman, chief executive, Clúid.
The opening statements have been circulated to members. I will first ask the witnesses to make their opening statements and then members will be invited to address their questions.
Members attending from their Oireachtas offices are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their participation at this meeting. This means they have an absolute defence against defamation action for anything they say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse this privilege and it is my duty, as Chair, to ensure this privilege is not abused. Therefore, if statements are potentially defamatory to an identifiable person or entity, a member will be directed to discontinue their remarks.
There are some limitations to parliamentary privilege for witnesses attending remotely. As such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a person who is physically present.
I remind members of the requirement to be physically present in the confines of the place in which Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House and-or the Convention Centre Dublin, in order to participate in public meetings. 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 or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable, 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.
The opening statements submitted to the committee by the organisations will be published on the committee website after this meeting.
I invite Mr. Curran from CCMA to make his opening statement.