Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
General Scheme of the Water Services Separation Bill 2021: Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage
The purpose of this meeting is pre-legislative scrutiny of the water services separation Bill 2021. We are joined by Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh, assistant secretary, water division, Ms Shirley Groarke, principal officer and Ms Karen Flynn, assistant principal of water services governance, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Members have been circulated with the briefing, opening statement and heads of the general scheme. I will first ask Mr. Ó Coigligh to make his opening statement, following which members will be invited to address their questions. If everyone can keep to five minutes for questions and answers, that would be helpful.
Members attending remotely from within the Leinster House complex are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the presentations they make to the committee. This means that they have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything they say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse this privilege. It is my duty as Chair to ensure this privilege is not abused. Therefore if their statements are potentially defamatory in relation to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative they comply with any such direction. I remind members of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present within the confines of Leinster House to participate in public meetings. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against persons outside the House or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
The opening statements submitted to the committee will be published on the committee website following the meeting. I now invite Mr. Ó Coigligh to make his opening statement on behalf of the Department.