Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Compliance with the Nitrates Directive and Implications for Ireland: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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Before we begin, I remind members to switch off their mobile phones. Witnesses giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts are protected by absolute privilege in respect of evidence they give to the committee. This means that a witness has a full defence against 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 Cathaoirleach's direction. Witnesses should follow the direction of the Cathaoirleach 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 give evidence from outside the parliamentary precincts are asked to note that they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness giving evidence from within the parliamentary precincts and may consider it appropriate to take legal advice on this. Privilege against defamation does not apply to publication by witnesses outside proceedings held by the committee of any matters 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 a 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 the committee from within the parliamentary precincts. Members may not participate online in public meetings from outside the parliamentary precincts and any attempt to do so will result in the member having his or her online access removed.

The purpose of the meeting is the continued examination of compliance with the nitrates directive and its implications for Ireland. The committee will hear from the following representatives of the Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society, the Agricultural Consultants Association and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association. I welcome Mr. Edward Carr, president; Mr. Niall Matthews, dairy committee chairman, and Mr. Eamonn Farrell, dairy policy executive,Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society; Mr. Noel Feeney, president, Mr. Breian Carroll, general secretary, and Mr. Tom Canning, national council for nitrates regulation, Agricultural Consultants Association; and Mr. Sean McNamara, president, Mr. Eddie Punch, general secretary, and Mr. Dan Lynam, representative on the agricultural sustainability support and advisory programme, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association. The opening statements have been circulated to members. I will allow five minutes for opening statements and we will then proceed to a question and answer session. I now invite Mr. Carr to make his opening statement.