Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 20 March 2024

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Compliance with the Nitrates Directive and Implications for Ireland: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Before we begin, I remind members and witnesses to turn off their mobile phones.

I wish to bring to the witnesses' attention that witnesses giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they give to the committee. This means that a witness has a full defence against any defamation action for anything said at a committee meeting. However, witnesses are expected not to abuse this privilege and may be directed to cease giving evidence on an issue at the Chair's direction. Witnesses should follow the direction of the Chair in this regard and are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that, as is reasonable, no adverse commentary should be made against an identifiable third person or entity. Witnesses who are to give evidence from a location outside the parliamentary precincts are asked to note that they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts and may consider it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter. Privilege against defamation does not apply to publication by witnesses outside the proceedings held by the committee of any matters arising from the proceedings.

Members 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 or her identifiable. Parliamentary privilege is considered to apply to the utterances of members participating online in committee meetings from within the parliamentary precincts. Members may not participate online in a public meeting from outside the parliamentary precincts, and any attempt to do so will result in the member having his or her online access removed.

The purpose of today's meeting is a resumed examination of compliance with the nitrates directive and the implications for Ireland. The committee will hear from representatives of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Uisce Éireann, the Local Authority Waters Programme, LAWPRO, and Inland Fisheries Ireland. From the Department, I welcome Mr. Fintan Towey, assistant secretary at the water division, Dr. Colin Byrne, principal adviser on water, and Dr. Marie Archbold, water policy adviser. From Uisce Éireann, I welcome Mr. Niall Horgan, wastewater compliance senior manager, and Ms Lorraine Gaston, asset strategy technical lead. From LAWPRO, I welcome Mr. Anthony Coleman, director of services, Ms Margaret Keegan, regional co-ordinator for the midlands and east, and Ms Ruth Hennessy, catchments manager in the south-east region. From Inland Fisheries Ireland, I welcome Mr. Barry Fox, head of operations, Dr. Fiona Kelly, senior research officer, and Mr. Brian Beckett, director of sustainability and climate action. The witnesses' opening statements have been circulated to members. I will now allow the groups five minutes each to read their statements, starting with the Department, followed by Uisce Éireann, LAWPRO and IFI. We will then proceed to a questions and answers session.


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