Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Business of Joint Committee

Photo of Steven MatthewsSteven Matthews (Wicklow, Green Party)
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We have a quorum. I welcome members to the first meeting of the committee. Some members served in the previous Oireachtas and others are new. I am a new Oireachtas Member and also, therefore, new to the committee. In fact, this is only my second time in a committee room.

This committee has a broad-ranging remit that covers a lot of areas. From speaking to former members, it has a reputation as being very a hard-working, productive and collegiate committee. I hope and intend that we will continue in the same vein. I know that is the intention of the members to whom I have spoken. I only got to speak to the members who are Deputies and I apologise for not getting to the Senators. The membership list came to me quite late in the week.

As we all know, housing is a massive issue and it will be a primary focus of the committee. We will also cover heritage, water services, local government and planning. As I said, it is a wide-ranging brief. The Covid restrictions regarding distancing are going to impact on our work. In fact, one of the items on the agenda today concerns the restrictions under which we will be operating. We will just have to get used to them and accept there will be teething problems at the start. I am sure we can all work together to come up with a formula and way of working that keeps us within the health guidelines but allows us to work productively.

As Chairman, I will be as fair and impartial as I can to all members of the committee and to witnesses who attend meetings and assist us in our work. If we are united in an approach of mutual respect for all members, witnesses and views, everybody will have an opportunity to contribute and that will yield the best results. I look forward to working with members and with the officials who will guide and assist us in our work. The documents relating to today's meeting were circulated via Microsoft Teams. I do not know how people got on when they went to access them. I found it a little tricky but I am sure we will get used to it.