We are now back in public session. This morning we will examine the 2015 appropriation accounts of An Garda Síochána. I welcome back the Garda Commissioner, Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan, who is accompanied today by some familiar faces, Mr. Joseph Nugent, chief administrative officer, Mr. Michael Culhane, executive director of finance and services, Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, governance and strategy, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, roads policy and major events-emergency management. We are also joined by Ken Ruane, Inspector Netta Browne and Superintendent Marie Broderick, and by John Burke from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
I remind members, witnesses and those in the Gallery to switch off their mobile phones completely. Putting them on silent is not adequate. They have to be on airplane mode as otherwise it will interfere with the recording system.
I advise witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. If they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
Members of the committee are reminded of the provisions of Standing Order 186 that the committee shall refrain from inquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of the Government or a Minister of the Government or the merits of the objectives of such policies. Members are reminded of the long-standing ruling of the Chair to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the House or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
Before I call on the Comptroller and Auditor General, I will refer briefly to something. This morning, we received a letter from Mr. Joseph Nugent to the committee dated 13 July inquiring about the publication of the report. The arrangements are that we will finish our discussion here with the Garda Síochána and the Courts Service before the voting block in the afternoon. For the rest of the evening, the committee, in private session, will finalise our report on Templemore training college with a view to the report being launched next Tuesday at 2 o'clock. As is normal in the Oireachtas, draft reports are not circulated. It will go through the normal Oireachtas procedure. That procedure does not involve issuing a draft report for comment. The report will be issued in the same way as the education report two days ago. We did not send a copy to the Higher Education Authority or the colleges concerned. We issued the report on the day. That is the normal procedure.
There is a reference in the letter this morning which states: "The recent media coverage also refers to additional material received by the Committee, extracts of which appear to have been published." It may not have been by us. We do not know the source of the publication. It continues: "The Commissioner would be grateful if the Committee would provide a copy of all such material received by it in order that it may be appropriately considered by the Commissioner and any other Garda colleagues in conjunction with the Committee's [draft] report." If there is something we have received that has not come directly through Joseph Nugent or the Commissioner's office, we will of course arrange to send a copy of it in the event she does not have it already. We will do that straight away. I am just putting that on the record. The report is expected to be launched next Tuesday at 2 o'clock.
I call on the Comptroller and Auditor General to make an opening statement.