Business of Joint Committee

I remind members to turn off their mobile phones completely as they interfere with the recording equipment. Are there matters that members wish to discuss in private session? I wish to raise one matter. I propose we go into private session. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The joint committee went into private session at 1.39 p.m. and resumed in public session at 1.59 p.m.

I wish to turn to some housekeeping matters. The minutes of the meeting of 15 May have been circulated.

As there are no matters arising, are they agreed? Agreed.

We will now deal with correspondence. No. 2019/465 is from Deputy Munster.

I wish to confirm that we have agreed to include Irish athletes in the work programme. An invitation had been sent out and there seems to have been some confusion subsequently. I want to confirm that they will appear before the committee and agree a date.

Is the Deputy proposing that?

That is agreed unanimously.

No. 2019/466a is an email from Jennifer Cullen, Minister’s office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, attaching No. 2019/466b, a briefing document on State funding to the FAI. It is proposed to note the correspondence. Is that agreed? Agreed.

No. 2019/467 is an email from Chris Smith, Minister’s office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, declining the invitation for the Minister to appear before the committee on 29 May 2019 to report on accessibility of public transport for people with disabilities and indicating that he would not be available to update the committee until the end of June at the earliest.

I am concerned regarding the Minister's correspondence. The committee did excellent work compiling a report on what needs to be done to make the public transport system more accessible to people with disabilities and mobility issues. The Minister gave a clear commitment when he came to the launch of that report that in order to ensure the recommendations were implemented in an efficient and timely manner that we would set in stone dates for when he would appear before the committee and answer questions on the implementation of the recommendations. He agreed to that and now the only reason he is not accepting the invitation to be here today is because there is no progress and he has nothing to update us on. He is seeking an extra month in order to buy himself time. Great credit is due to all the committee members who played a full part in producing that report and also all the stakeholders who took time out and the advocates for people with disabilities who appeared before the committee and participated in this process. It is very wrong for the Minister not to have accepted the invitation to appear today. We should write back to him outlining my concern over his non-appearance today.

I agree with Deputy Troy that we should write to the Minister. After all the work that had been put in reaching out to and liaising with the various groups, we published a very detailed report. When we expressed the importance of continuous follow-up, the Minister gave a commitment to examine the progress made. It sends the wrong signal when the Minister does not prioritise giving this committee a progress update on accessibility in our public transport system for persons with disabilities. The committee needs to make clear to him that it is the wrong signal. Given the commitment he gave, we should ask him if possible to rearrange his diary and give this matter priority.

The bush telegraph must be working because I have been informed by the clerk that the Minister has just emailed to say he is available to attend here on 26 June. We have dealt with that issue.

No. 2019/468a is an email from Colm McGinty, Sport Ireland, dated 29 April 2019, attaching two additional information documents requested by the committee: No. 2019/468b FAI governance review group approved terms of reference; and No. 2019/468c additional information as requested by committee. This was circulated to members for the meeting on 15 May and is being recirculated as some people may not have received it. Is that agreed? Agreed.

No. 2019/469 is an email received Josie Briody, clerk to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, forwarding an email received from Shane Corr on procurement of Coast Guard services. It is proposed to note the correspondence. Is that agreed? Agreed.

No. 2019/470 is an email from Senator Ó Céidigh, dated 16 May 2019, suggesting that the joint committee invite both the FAI and Sport Ireland on separate dates to attend the joint committee before the summer recess. Senator Ó Céidigh has left the room. I stated that I was in contact with Sport Ireland just before the meeting. I asked for an update on its forensic audit proposals. It has been circulated. We just got it today. Every member will have it. I appreciate that people may not yet have had the time to read it properly because it runs to three or four pages. In the absence of Senator Ó Céidigh what proposals do we have?

There are concerns. We should try to prioritise and agree a date for representatives of Sport Ireland and the FAI to appear before the committee.

They need to update us as soon as possible. The Minister is also holding a conference on the issue in the Mansion House on Friday. We do not seem to have received any invitation to attend.

We received individual invitations.

Fair enough. That is good. If members wish to attend, they should.

No. 2019/471a is an email from Shane Conneely, Chambers Ireland, attaching No. 2019/471b the Chambers Ireland local government manifesto. It is proposed to note the correspondence. Is that agreed? Agreed.