Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Committee on Budgetary Oversight

Pre-Budget 2022 Scrutiny: Irish Fiscal Advisory Council

Photo of Neasa HouriganNeasa Hourigan (Dublin Central, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

Today the committee will engage with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council to discuss pre-budget 2022 scrutiny. Members and all in attendance are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19. Members are strongly advised to practice good hand hygiene and leave at least one vacant seat between themselves and other attendees. They should also always maintain an appropriate level of social distancing during and after the meeting. Masks, preferably of medical grade, should be worn at all times during the meeting, except when speaking. I ask for members' full co-operation in this.

I welcome from the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, IFAC, Mr. Sebastian Barnes, chairperson; Dr. Adele Bergin, Mr. Alessandro Giustiniani, Professor Michael McMahon, and Ms Dawn Holland, council members; and Dr. Eddie Casey, chief economist and head of secretariat.

Before we begin, I will read out a note on privilege to witnesses. I wish to explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the Houses as regards references they may make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present, or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precinct is protected, pursuant to both the Constitution and statute by absolute privilege. However, those giving evidence remotely and from a place outside the parliamentary precincts may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness who is physically present does. They are again reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable, or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory in regard to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction from me.

Members of the committee 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 an official either by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. I remind members of the constitutional requirements that they must physically present within the confines of the place which Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House or the Convention Centre Dublin in order to participate in public meetings. I will not permit a member to participate where they are not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate from outside the precincts will be asked to leave the meeting.

I call on Mr. Barnes to make his opening statement.


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