Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Common Market Negotiations.


asked the Taoiseach if relative to his statement on 31st May, 1961, to the effect that this country's positionvis-à-vis the Common Market is much the same as that of Denmark and Norway, he has seen reports of (a) a visit by the Danish Prime Minister to Bonn last month to discuss Denmark's relations with the Common Market should Britain decide to join, (b) a statement by the Norwegian Foreign Minister that the members of E.F.T.A. should open negotiations with a view to further European co-operation even if the results proved different, and (c) a statement by the chairman of the Norwegian Foreign Policy Committee that by joining the Common Market now Norway might well have a better chance of securing her rights than if she were forced into membership later; and if he will initiate discussions with the Common Market countries to establish the position of this country in the event of Britain deciding to join or not to join the European Economic Community.

I have seen reports of the visit and the two statements to which the Deputy refers.

As I have stated on a number of occasions in recent weeks, the Government have been following very closely developments in relation to the European Economic Community, with particular reference to the possibility of Britain's joining it. The Government have under consideration the question of exploring informally with the members of the Community and the Commission our position in the event of our deciding, in the light of later developments, to establish a link with the community.

Was it not time you woke up?

In view of the recent statement of the British Prime Minister which seemed to indicate that the British Government's approach to the Common Market may be delayed, would the Taoiseach not consider that the time is opportune to open discussions shortly with the Common Market countries in order to clarify this country's position?

It would seem to me to be the other way around.

Is the Taoiseach aware that one Irish newspaper this morning, commenting on Mr. Macmillan's statement, said that it meant there would be a period of delay and that another newspaper said it meant they were going into the Common Market more quickly?

That could well happen.

I am not going to comment as to which is accurate.

While appreciating the fact that the Taoiseach would be within his rights in delaying if the British Government cannot make an early decision, surely there would be a strong case for making our own contacts if the British Government's decision is likely to be delayed?

I do not follow the logic of the Deputy's suggestion.

In view of our very close alliance with the Commonwealth has the Taoiseach been given any assurance by the British Prime Minister that he will be consulted, as are other members of the Commonwealth, about these proposals?

As the Deputy's premises are wrong, the rest of the question does not arise.

The Deputy's premises are all right.

The Deputy should have a tittle of sense.

A tittle of sense, when you are fiddling while Rome burns. You have as much independence as Stormont.

The Deputy takes himself too seriously.

I wish the Taoiseach took some of his problems seriously.