Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Autism
Business of Joint Committee
I welcome everyone to the meeting of the committee. Apologies have been received from Deputies Buckley and Ó Cathasaigh and Senator Pauline O'Reilly, who may be late. They are attending other committee meetings, but will attend at some stage.
Before we start our business, I will read some formal notices and the Covid-19 code of conduct. All of those present in the committee room are asked to exercise personal responsibility to protect themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19.
On privilege, I remind members of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present within the confines of the place where Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House, to participate in public meetings. I will not permit a member to participate where he or she is not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate from outside the parliamentary precincts will be asked to leave the meeting.
For the information of the witnesses, I wish to explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the Houses as regards references they may make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected, pursuant to the Constitution and statute, by absolute privilege. Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of that person or entity. Therefore, if witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory of an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction.
We will begin with signing off on the minutes of our previous meetings. We will then consider the committee's adoption of the Report on the Summer Programme 2023. There will two sessions today. In the first, session A, which will run from now until just before 1 p.m., we will consider autism and access to higher education and training. Session B will run from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m, during which we will continue our discussion with the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Deputy Harris.
At the request of the Working Group of Committee Cathaoirligh, we will endeavour to finish the meeting at 2 p.m.. I propose that the usual arrangements will apply. Our witnesses will make statements for five minutes each, after which we will have questions and answers with members. Each member will have five minutes for questions and answers. If we have sufficient time afterwards members may be able to come back in and ask more questions. Is that agreed? Agreed. Members will be called as per the circulated list. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The first item on our agenda is the minutes of our previous meetings. The question is that we approve the minutes of the public meetings held on 27 October 2022 and 8 November 2022. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The next item is the draft report of the committee entitled Report on the Summer Programme 2023.
We have already considered this report in our private session and we must now formally adopt the report in public session. Is it agreed to adopt the report? Agreed. Is it agreed to lay the report before both Houses of the Oireachtas? Agreed. Is it agreed to request a debate on the report in the Dáil and the Seanad? Agreed. Is it agreed to arrange a formal launch for this report? Agreed. We will now arrange to have the report laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and printed. We will arrange, provisionally, to hold a formal launch on Thursday, 1 December 2022, but we will be in contact with regard to that date. We will also contact the Minister for Education, Deputy Foley, about the report.