Members attending remotely should do so from within the Leinster House campus to fully benefit from privilege and the usual rules apply in respect of it. Unfortunately, remote participation from outside Leinster House is not possible for members. Thankfully, we are beginning to emerge from under the dark shadow of Covid-19. However, there are still risks and members and all in attendance are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of Covid-19. They are strongly advised to practise good hand hygiene and every second seat has been removed or is spaced to facilitate social distancing. I ask members to note that, to observe those positions, to try to maintain social distancing when entering and leaving the meeting and to use masks at all times, except when speaking. I ask for full co-operation, which I am sure we will have. We are all aware of how it works.
We have a rota. Going by the apologies we have received and the attendance at the meeting, we will allow 15 minutes per group. We will go round the table in the usual fashion. We will start with Fine Gael and then move to Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, SDLP, Alliance, Independents, Sinn Féin again, Labour and the Green Party, in that order. Some parties or groups may or may not be represented at the meeting. That is fine. We will move on if they are not. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The witnesses are welcome. It is a pleasure to have them with us and I thank them for joining us. We have an engagement with the Ad-Hoc Group for North-South and East-West Cooperation. We are pleased to welcome: Dr. Anthony Soares, convener, Ad-Hoc Group for North-South and East-West Cooperation; Ms Tara Farrell, CEO, Longford Women's Link; Ms Aoife Ní Lochlainn, Brexit policy officer, Irish Environmental Network; and Mr. Chris Quinn, director, Northern Ireland Youth Forum. Mr. Quinn is under time pressure. We will try to take any questions for him at the start. I ask members to be conscious of that. I am delighted to welcome our guests on behalf of the committee.
Those who are accustomed to presenting at Oireachtas committees will be aware of the note on privilege, but I will recap. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts of the Leinster House campus is protected, pursuant to both the Constitution and statute, by absolute privilege. However, witnesses and participants who are to give evidence from a location outside of the parliamentary precincts are asked to note that they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts. The witnesses may consider it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter, should they wish, for further guidance. Witnesses are also asked to note that only evidence connected with the subject matter of the proceedings should be given. If I need to give directions to any member or witness on parliamentary practice, I ask that they abide by that direction. They should neither criticise nor 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 the person or entity.
The group will open with Dr. Soares, whom I invite to make his opening statement. After we have heard from all the witnesses, we will take questions from the members in the agreed order.
I call on Dr. Soares to make his opening statement. He is welcome and I thank him for being with us today.