Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence

Returning Irish Emigrants: Discussion

By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the joint committee. If they are directed by the Chair to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, 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. I welcome the witnesses, Ms Danielle McLaughlin of Crosscare, Ms Karen McHugh and Ms Orlagh McHugh of Safe Home Ireland, and Ms Ciara Kirrane of the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas. The purpose of the meeting is to examine and hear witness testimony on the many and varying barriers and challenges to those wishing to return to Ireland from overseas. While the matters under consideration concern a wide range of Departments and agencies, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade commissioned a report from Indecon research economists on the challenges facing returning Irish emigrants, with the intention of identifying measures to alleviate those challenges. Along with the Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, who is chair of the cross-departmental group examining these issues, the committee looks forward to hearing the witnesses' presentations on the progress made to date and on what is still required to deal with these important issues. I invite Ms McLaughlin to make her opening statement.