Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Public Accounts Committee

Financial Statement 2020 and Related Matters: HSE (Resumed)

9:30 am

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

We are resuming our examination of the financial statements of the HSE for 2020. The HSE has been advised that the areas of interest to the committee include oversight and governance arrangements concerning grants to section 38 and section 39 organisations and the service arrangement between the HSE and SouthDoc. We are joined remotely from within the precincts of Leinster House by the following officials from the HSE: Mr. Paul Reid, CEO; Ms Anne O’Connor, chief operations officer; Mr. Stephen Mulvany, chief financial officer; Mr. Joe Ryan, national director of operational performance and Integration; and Ms Mairéad Dolan, assistant chief financial officer. We are also joined remotely from outside the precincts of Leinster House by Mr. Kevin Colman, principal officer at the Department of Health. They are all very welcome.

When we begin to engage, I ask members and witnesses to mute their microphones while not contributing so that they do not pick up any background noise or feedback. As usual, I remind all those in attendance to ensure their mobile phones are on silent. We have a hybrid meeting this morning, with some members in the room and others joining remotely. I ask for everyone's co-operation with these arrangements.

Before we start, I wish to explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the House, as regards references that witnesses may make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected, pursuant to both the Constitution and by statute, by absolute privilege. However, one of today's witnesses, a Department official, is giving evidence remotely from a place outside parliamentary precincts and, as such, may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness who is physically present does. The witness has already been advised of this and may have thought it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter. Members are reminded of the provisions of Standing Order 218, which states that the committee shall refrain from inquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of Government, or Minister of the Government, or the merits or objectives of such policies.

Members are also reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not comment on, criticise, or make charges against a person outside the House, or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. To assist our broadcast services and the staff of the Debates Office, I ask members to direct their questions to specific witnesses. If the question has not been directed to a specific witness, I ask each witness to state his or her name the first time that he or she contributes.

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, delivered his opening statement on the board's financial statements at our meeting of 16 September and it was recirculated to the committee before this meeting. Unless the Comptroller and Auditor General wishes to address this matter again, we will move straight to Mr. Reid for his opening statement. Is Mr. McCarthy happy for us to proceed?


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