Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Control of Exports Bill 2021: Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
I thank the members for participating in today's committee meeting, in line with the exceptional circumstances and measures we have to take due to Covid-19. I hope this will be the last meeting during which we are restricted to two hours and will have longer periods during which we can discuss our topics from next week. All members attending a meeting are required to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of Covid-19. Members are required to practice good hand hygiene and leave at least one vacant seat between themselves and others when attending. They should also maintain an appropriate level of social distancing during and after the meeting. Masks should be worn at all times during the meeting, if members are physically present, except when speaking. I ask for their full and continuing co-operation in this matter. Any member participating in the meeting remotely is required to participate from within the Leinster House complex only. Apologies have been received Deputy Matt Shanahan and Senator Marie Sherlock.
Tody we will consider the pre-legislative scrutiny of the control of exports Bill 2021. The EU operates a system of export controls that form part of a multilateral framework to support global security by preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting regional stability, preventing terrorism and protecting human rights. EU controls apply to military equipment and dual-use items. While EU instruments apply, trade and military equipment is a national competence and, therefore, export controls must be provided for in national legislation. The proposed legislation is designed to ensure there are adequate powers of enforcement in Ireland and international obligations are respected. To explain the provisions of the general scheme of the control of exports Bill in detail, I welcome, from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Dr. Eamonn Cahill, Ms Carol Toolan and Mr. Matthew Geoghegan, who are participating remotely. They are very welcome.
Before we start, I will explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the Houses as regards references 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 statute by absolute privilege. However, today's witnesses are giving their evidence remotely from a place outside the parliamentary precincts and, as such, may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as witnesses who are physically present. Witnesses have already been advised that they may think it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter.
Witnesses are again reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice 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 may be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory regarding an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative they comply with any such direction.