Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Membership of United Nations.

asked the Minister for External Affairs if he will state if the Government propose to apply on behalf of Éire for membership to the United Nations; and, if so, when.

The Government do not propose to apply for membership of the United Nations' Organisation before Deputies and the people generally have had ample opportunity to consider and appraise the significance of such a step. There is no date fixed for applying for membership, and, as the Deputy is, no doubt, aware, the Organisation has still to hold its first formal meeting and is unlikely to enter into full operation for some months. Before that occurs, Deputies will be able to study the Charter of the Organisation, the text of which will be in their hands within a few days.

Arising out of the Minister's reply, would he say whether he has considered the desirability of securing that there shall be present, on the earliest possible opportunity at the meetings of the United Nations, representatives of at least one Catholic country which is free to propound solutions consistent with Catholic philosophy for the problems that beset the world at the present time? Is he aware that if Ireland be absent on that occasion, there is no Catholic voice left in the world which is in a position to speak with authority and detachment as a civil government on such occasion?

I am aware of the desirability, if we are entering at all, of being, at the earliest possible moment, at these meetings, but before we enter into an organisation of this sort we want to see our way clearly and make sure of what we are committing ourselves to.

Perfectly. Am I to understand then that the preliminary step of having the matter considered and debated in Dáil Éireann, with a view to informing public opinion generally in the country of the various facets of the problem, will be taken at an early date?

I hope so.

The Taoiseach is not in a position to give an approximate date?

No, but I can say that we have the Charter ready for distribution to put in the hands of Deputies. That is the first step, and then if any Deputy wishes to bring the matter to a head sooner than the Government wishes he can do so.

Arising out of that, while I have no doubt that no Deputy of the House would desire to attempt to force the Government's hands in so important a matter as this, it would be of assistance to Deputies if, at the Taoiseach's convenience, he would indicate to the House the probable date when he proposes to initiate any discussion of that kind himself.

I would not like to state definitely when. This is a matter that the Government will have formally to dispose of at some particular stage in the very near future, and I expect that will be in a month or so.