I welcome the witnesses to our meeting this morning. They are joining us by video link from their respective offices to discuss strategic options for implementing the recently published resilience and recovery plan and for dealing with Covid-19 more generally.
I welcome Dr. Johan Giesecke, who is now a member of the strategic and technical advisory group for infectious hazards with the World Health Organization, a former chief epidemiologist of Sweden and former chief scientist with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. I welcome Professor Sam McConkey, head of the department of international health and tropical medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and a consultant in general medicine and tropical diseases at Beaumont Hospital. I welcome Professor Tomás Ryan, associate professor of biochemistry at the Trinity College Institute of Neurosciences. Finally, I welcome Professor Kirsten Schaffer, professor of the UCD school of medicine, president of Irish Society of Clinical Microbiologists and a consultant in St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.
Before we continue the proceedings, I wish to advise the witnesses giving evidence from a location outside of the parliamentary precincts that the constitutional protections afforded to witnesses attending to give evidence before committees may not extend to them. No clear guidance can be given on whether, or the extent to which, such evidence given is covered by absolute privilege, as this has not been tested before the courts. Persons giving evidence from another jurisdiction should also be mindful of their domestic statutory regime. If a witness is directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter, the witness must respect that direction. The statements of the witnesses have been circulated to colleagues in advance. Please confine the opening statements to five minutes so that we can allow for as much time as possible for questions and answers. I call on Dr. Giesecke to make an opening statement.