The purpose of this part of the meeting is to hear from a number of those who made a written submission on the heads of the Gambling Control Bill 2013. In light of the large number of participants, I request that the following procedures be adopted. Members and witnesses should wait to be called upon by the Chair to make their contributions. This is to allow the sound operators to activate the correct microphone and for the parliamentary reporters to attribute each contribution to the correct person. All contributions should be made through the Chair, so therefore it is not necessary to respond directly to a member who may be behind the speaker.
This is the twelfth time we have such a large number of people so it is not unusual that people co-operate. To ensure proper engagement, I ask members not to make a speech but to ask direct questions and get a response. If members wish to make a speech they can do so in either the Dáil or Seanad.
We are joined by Mr. Madis Jääger and Mr. Geoff Taylor from the Olympic Entertainment Group. The representatives from the Licensed Gaming Association of Ireland are Mr. Brian Freney, Mr. Barry Galvin, and Mr. Aubrey McCarthy. Mr. Paul Mullins is from Aiséirí. From the Rehab Group we have Ms Angela Kerins, Mr. Frank Flannery and Ms Sonya Felton. Mr. Kevin Murphy is from Bet Beware Limited. The representatives from the Irish Amusement Trades Association are Mr. Jim Rickard and Mr. John Roche. From O'Connell Mahon Architects we are joined by Mr. Brian O'Connell and Ms Yvonne McNamara. Also in attendance are officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, Mr. Hugh Boyle and Mr. Barry Quinn.
I welcome all the witnesses and thank them for their written submissions. There is significant interest in this important legislation. We in the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality have also engaged in pre-legislative scrutiny of other Bills, in which we look at the Bills before they are published so that we are an aid to the Minister and his officials in the Department in getting the best possible legislation.
I welcome the visitors in the Gallery and thank them for their presence.
I remind members to ensure mobile telephones are switched off as they cause interference with the sound recording system, even when left in silent mode.
Before we commence, I will advise of the position regarding privilege. Witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect parliamentary practice to the effect that where possible they should not criticise or make charges against any 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 format of the meeting is that each group will be invited to make an opening statement, which should be of about five minutes. That will be followed by a question and answer session with members.
I now invite the Olympic Entertainment Group to make their opening statements.