Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Dundalk Institute of Technology and SOLAS: Chairpersons Designate

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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I remind members and witnesses to turn off their mobile phones because they interfere with the sound system and make it difficult for the parliamentary reporters to report the meeting. They also impact on television coverage and web streaming. The second item on our agenda is engagement with Mr. Paddy Malone, chairperson designate of the governing body of Dundalk Institute of Technology, and Mr. Sean Aylward, chairperson designate of SOLAS. I also welcome Ms Nikki Gallagher, who is accompanying Mr. Aylward. All the witnesses are very welcome.

The purpose of this part of the meeting is to have an engagement and to allow members of the committee to discuss with Mr. Malone and Mr. Aylward their visions and priorities for the short to medium term and any challenges facing their respective bodies and the people whom they represent. On behalf of the committee, it is my pleasure to welcome Mr. Malone and Mr. Aylward. The format of this part of the meeting is that I will invite the witnesses to make brief opening statements of three minutes each. These will be followed by engagement with members of the committee. The witnesses will then have the opportunity to respond.

Before we begin, I draw the witnesses' attention to the fact that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by the Chair to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a 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 they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

I advise the witnesses that any opening statement they have made to the committee will be published on the committee website after the meeting.

I remind members 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.

This is an opportunity for us to engage with both of our witnesses in public session. I call on Mr. Malone to make his opening statement.