Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Nitrates Derogation and Nitrates Action Programme: Discussion

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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The purpose of today's meeting is to examine the nitrates derogation and nitrates action programme. The committee will hear from a number of expert witnesses and officials from the relevant Departments.

Before we do so, I remind members, witnesses and those in the Public Gallery that they must, for the duration of the meeting, switch off their mobile phones completely or switch them to airplane or flight mode depending on the device. On 28 February, the legal requirement for mask-wearing in all settings was removed. However, it is still good practice to continue to use face coverings, particularly in crowded areas. The service encourages all members of the parliamentary community to wear face masks when moving around the campus or in close proximity to others.

Witnesses giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they give to the committee. This means that witnesses have full defence in any defamation action for anything said at a committee meeting. However, witnesses 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 and are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that, as is reasonable, no adverse commentary should be made against an identifiable third person or entity.

Witnesses who are giving evidence from a location outside the parliamentary precincts are asked to note they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as witnesses giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts. They may, therefore, consider it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter. Privilege against defamation does not apply to the publication by witnesses, outside the proceedings held by the committee, of any matter arising from the proceedings.

Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against any person outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. Parliamentary privilege is considered to apply to utterances of members participating online in this committee meeting when their participation is from within the parliamentary precincts. There can be no assurance in relation to participation online from outside the parliamentary precincts.

Members should be mindful of this when they are contributing.

This will be our first session on the nitrates derogation and nitrates action programme. In the first session today, the committee will hear from representatives from the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association, ICMSA, Mr. Pat McCormack, president; Mr. Denis Drennan, deputy president and chairperson of the farm and rural affairs committee; Mr. John Enright, general secretary; and Ms Alisha Ryan, the policy advisor. I will now call on the witnesses to make their opening statement.