That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the following additional Standing Orders be adopted as Standing Orders of Seanad Éireann relative to Public Business:
Absence for witness evidence
82B. (1) Subject to Standing Order 82C, in the event of any member of a Committee which is conducting a Part 2 inquiry (where the inquiry has the power to make findings of fact) being absent for any witness evidence at a meeting of the Committee, a member nominated by the Committee shall table a motion for a Resolution of Seanad Éireann to remove the member from the Committee in accordance with section 20(4) of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013 and Standing Order 89 shall not apply.
(2) For the purpose of this Standing Order and Standing Order 82C, a witness is any person giving oral evidence to the Committee save for employees of, and any person with technical knowledge or expertise engaged by, the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.
Absence for witness evidence due to exceptional circumstances
82C. Where a member of a Committee which is conducting a Part 2 inquiry (where the inquiry has the power to make findings of fact) is or will be absent for any witness evidence at a meeting of the Committee, and the Committee agrees that the absence is due to exceptional circumstances:
(1) it may decide not to proceed with the witness evidence or to postpone the commencement of the witness evidence; or
(2) where the Committee is of the view that it is necessary to proceed with the witness evidence, it may, following the consideration of legal advice, proceed with the meeting where:
(a) the witness consents to having their evidence heard without the member; and
(b) the witness agrees to any other measures that, according to the legal advice given to the Committee, is necessary and/or appropriate,
and the member nominated by the Committee will not table a motion (under Standing Order 82B) for a Resolution to remove the member from the Committee.'."
This motion was discussed at length by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges yesterday evening. It was also taken without debate in the other House. I am sure there will not be much debate on it in this House. While what is proposed is fairly straightforward Members now have an opportunity to speak on it if they wish.