Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Farm Safety: Discussion

Photo of Tim LombardTim Lombard (Fine Gael)
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The Chairman, Deputy Jackie Cahill, sends his apologies. He will be joining us later. Members now have the option to be physically present in the committee room or they may join by Microsoft Teams, with the proviso that for meetings in public session, they must be in the Leinster House complex. If joining via Microsoft Teams, please mute microphones when not making a contribution and please use the raise hand function to indicate. Please note that messages sent to the chat are visible to all. Speaking slots will be prioritised for members of the committee.

Members and all attendees are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19. They are strongly advised to participate in good hand hygiene. You will note that seats have been removed in order to accommodate social distancing. I urge you not to move any chair from its current position and maintain appropriate levels of social distancing during and after the meeting.

Masks, preferably of a medical grade, should be worn at all times during the meeting, except when speaking. I ask for your full co-operation on these issues.

At today's meeting we are discussing the issue of farm safety. In the first session, we are joined by the Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety, new market development and research development, Deputy Martin Heydon. I also welcome officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Michael Moloney and Dr. Robert Leonard. There will be ten minutes for the opening statement before we go into a question and answers session.

Before we begin, I have an important notice on parliamentary privilege. Witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected to the subject matter in these proceedings is to be given. They are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

Participants in the meeting who are outside the parliamentary precincts are asked to note that the constitutional protections afforded to those participants within the parliamentary precincts may not extend to them. There are no clear guidelines on whether or the extent to which absolute privilege covers such participation.

I call on the Minister of State, Deputy Martin Heydon, to make his opening statement.