Business of Special Committee

We have been notified that Deputies Durkan, Daly, Andrews, Munster and Ó Murchú will substitute for their party colleagues today.

Regarding upcoming meetings, we held a working group meeting and agreed to invite, for Wednesday's meeting if they can make it, the HSE, the National Public Health Emergency Team, NPHET, and the Department of Health. We had a long discussion as to whether we would have a fourth session if possible. I have confirmed the availability, although their appearance will be subject to the approval of the committee, of Dr. Johan Giesecke, who is a former chief epidemiologist in Sweden, a former chief scientist at the European Centre for Disease Control and a current adviser to the World Health Organization, WHO, to talk about lockdowns in an international context; Professor Tomás Ryan of Trinity College, Dublin, who is also available to talk about testing, which is his specialty; and from University College Dublin, Professor Kirsten Schaffer, who is also a consultant at St. Vincent's Hospital. Professor Schaffer is a German national but is very well acquainted with our health system. It would be good to put what is happening in Ireland in perspective. I propose that fourth session for the approval of the committee.

Has the Chairman been informed of when the Joint Committee on Health will convene? The reason I ask is that circumstances in Dublin are changing and I would not like there to be a hiatus between this committee concluding and the health committee convening.

I have not been informed but there is to be a working group. We are not proposing to extend the number of meetings. It has been agreed by the Dáil that the Covid-19 committee will no longer exist at the end of September. I had hoped all along that the idea was we would cease to exist in order that the sectoral committees could start looking into this, such as the Joint Committee on Health, the Joint Committee on Education and Skills and all the others. Unfortunately, I can tell members just what is happening with regard to this committee, not the others. My understanding was-----

Perhaps the clerk to the committee will get some clarification on that for us before we conclude our work. I too am anxious to conclude it, but I think that when the lockdowns in Kildare, Laois and Offaly occurred, this forum provided a valuable platform for us to discuss that. As we head into more restrictions in Dublin, I would not like to see us not have that same type of forum.

I agree, and that is part of the reason we are inviting in the people I mentioned, given that announcements are anticipated and measures will almost certainly have been announced by next week.

The clerk might confirm that for the committee before we conclude.