Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht
National Cultural Institutions (National Concert Hall) Bill 2014: Discussion
We will consider the general scheme of the national cultural institutions (National Concert Hall) Bill 2014 with officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and representatives of the National Concert Hall. Is that agreed? Agreed. I welcome Mr. Niall Ó Donnchú, assistant secretary, Mr. Kevin Lonergan, principal officer and Ms Orlaith Gleeson, assistant principal officer, of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Mr. Gerry Kearney, chairman and Mr. Simon Taylor, chief executive of the National Concert Hall. I thank them for their attendance. I propose we take the opening statement of the Department first, followed by that of the National Concert Hall.
By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and they continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. I advise witnesses that the opening statements and any other documents they have submitted to the committee may be published on the committee's website after the meeting. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or any official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
The purpose of the Bill we are considering is to give statutory status to the National Concert Hall in line with the governance and accountability regime that applies to other national cultural institutions. Accordingly, we will scrutinise the general scheme of the Bill today with the assistance of officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and representatives from the National Concert Hall, and, again, on 2 October 2014 with the assistance of representatives of RTE. We will then prepare a report on the general scheme of the Bill and present this report to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys.