Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Seanad Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union

Update on Withdrawal Agreement, Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and Trade and Co-operation Agreement: Minister for Foreign Affairs

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Fianna Fail)
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The agenda for today's meeting is an update on the withdrawal agreement, the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, TCA. Our witnesses today are Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Simon Coveney, and officials from his Department. I welcome the Minister to the committee and thank him for his time.

Bear with me as I run through the note on privilege that is required at the start of the meeting. Witnesses giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts are protected by absolute privilege in respect of evidence that they give to this committee. This means they have a full defence in any defamation action for anything said at the committee meeting. However, they 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. I remind them of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that, as is reasonable, no adverse commentary should be made against an identifiable third party or entity.

I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on 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. I also remind members that they are only allowed to participate in this meeting if they are physically located on the Leinster House complex. I ask all members, prior to making their contribution to the meeting, to confirm that they are on the Leinster House complex. If they are directed to cease giving evidence by the Chair in relation to a particular matter, please respect that direction.

The Minister, Deputy Coveney, is accompanied by Mr. Karl Gardner, director of Brexit preparedness at the Department of Foreign Affairs; and by Ms Maeve Collins, director general of EU division at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Minister and his officials are most welcome. I invite the Minister to make his opening statement.