Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 24 October 2019
Public Accounts Committee
2018 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 30 - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Chapter 10 - Forestry Grants
This morning we are meeting officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to discuss the 2018 Appropriation Accounts for Vote 30 - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. We will also be dealing with chapter 10 of the Comptroller and Auditor General report for 2018 in respect of forestry grants.
We are joined this morning by the following officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: Mr. Brendan Gleeson, Secretary General; Dr. Kevin Smyth, assistant secretary; Mr. Colm Hayes, assistant secretary; Mr. Cecil Beamish, assistant secretary; Mr. Martin Crowley, principal officer; Ms Rebecca Chapman, principal officer; and Ms Patricia Heeney, accountant. We are also joined by Ms Georgina Hughes Elders, principal officer, and Mr. Donal Lynch, assistant principal, from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
I wish to advise witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. If you are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and you continue to so do, you are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of your evidence. You are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and you are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, you should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
Members of the committee are reminded of the provisions of Standing Order 186 to the effect that they shall refrain from inquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of the Government or a Minister of the Government or the merits of the objectives of such policy. While we expect witnesses to answer questions asked by the committee clearly and with candour, witnesses can and should expect to be treated fairly and with respect and consideration at all times in accordance with the witness protocol.
We will start by asking the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, to make his opening statement.