Apologies have been received from Deputies Declan Breathnach, Brendan Smith and Sean Sherlock, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile and Ms Elisha McCallion, MP. Before we begin, I wish to acknowledge that today marks the 44th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Those attacks marked the highest number of deaths in a single day during the Troubles. Our thoughts are with the families, the survivors and all of those affected by that dark day. I know that members will join me in reiterating the all-party Dáil motion calling on the British Government to allow an independent judicial figure access to all original documents relating to the bombings. Many people present were at that ceremony earlier.
We will now continue our discussion on the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement, GFA. I welcome Dr. Katy Hayward and Professor David Phinnemore from Queen's University, Belfast. They are renowned authorities on this topic and have produced several publications, including co-authoring a report for the European Parliament constitutional affairs committee. Last June, this committee published its report on the implications of Brexit for the Good Friday Agreement. We agreed to focus on Brexit and the implications for the Good Friday Agreement as part of the committee's work programme for 2018. The next EU summit is due to take place on 28 and 29 June and there is still no clarity in sight on the avoidance of a hard border. It is appropriate, therefore, that we return to consideration of this issue. I thank Dr. Hayward and Professor Phinnemore for agreeing to update us on their work on Brexit and the impact on the Good Friday Agreement, the Border and the peace process.
I remind members, guests and those in the Public Gallery to ensure that their mobile phones, tablets etc. are switched off completely for the duration of the meeting as they cause interference, even in silent mode, with the recording equipment in the committee rooms. I did hear a little squeak down the back earlier while we were in private session. I do not know who it was but it would be appreciated if it was turned off. 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, her or it identifiable.
By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the joint committee. However, if they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. 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 or an entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. I invite the witnesses to make their opening statements, which will be followed by questions.