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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 29 Apr 1969

Vol. 240 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Minister's Visit to UN.


asked the Minister for External Affairs the number of times partition was raised on a formal basis in the UN during the last 20 years; and if he will give details of each such occasion.


asked the Minister for External Affairs whether any decision has been reached on an early visit to Dublin by U Thant following his visit to New York.


asked the Minister for External Affairs if he will make a statement on his visit to the Secretary General of the United Nations; and if such visit related only to the disturbances within the Six Counties or if the wider question of the root cause of these troubles was fully discussed at the meeting.


asked the Minister for External Affairs if he will give a full statement on his urgent meeting with U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations; his reasons for such an urgent meeting; and whether any useful purpose was served by this meeting.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose taking Questions Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 together.

The Secretary General of the United Nations is well aware of the reasons why, in the 1920 Act, the British Parliament partitioned Ireland. During my interview with him on last Wednesday therefore, I concentrated upon advising him of the extreme gravity of the present situation in the Six Counties and the possibility of further deterioration.

It was only in December, 1955—not 20 years ago—that Ireland's application for membership was accepted. No resolution on the partition of Ireland has been tabled in the United Nations for the very good reason that none of our Governments was convinced that during its period of office the adoption of a United Nations resolution would contribute to the restoration of Irish unity. However, as the Deputy should be aware all our delegations since 1955 raised the question of partition whenever it appeared relevant and useful to do so.

I have placed in the Oireachtas Library extracts of 11 speeches in the United Nations, two by my predecessor, Deputy Cosgrave, one by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, and eight by myself in which we dealt with the partition of Ireland, its injustices and dangers and warned against the imposition of partition on other countries.

Furthermore, on Ministerial instructions, officials of the Irish delegation raised the question formally in Committees of the United Nations on eight occasions and informally with members of other delegations whenever the occasion offered.

As regards a visit by the Secretary General, he has already paid two official visits to Dublin during his term of office and no further visit is at present contemplated.

Did the Minister make it clear to the Secretary General of the United Nations that Northern Ireland, or the Six Counties, whichever one likes to call it, may become a cock-pit of international politics and, as such, it must become an urgent matter within the jurisdiction of the United Nations? Further, was the Secretary General prepared to take any action, if such was necessary, to see that that undesirable state of affairs did not come about?

I warned the Secretary General of the danger of deterioration.

Could the Minister say——

Am I in possession or is the Leader of the Labour Party?

Deputy Esmonde.

Thank you. Did the Minister further find out from the Secretary General if he was prepared to take any action or not because heretofore it has always been maintained by the British Government who are directly responsible for the partition of Ireland that it is a domestic affair? Did the Secretary General indicate whether he was or was not prepared to accept it as now being of international importance?

I did not request the Secretary General to take any action.

The Minister just told him about the situation. Is that so?

Does the Minister intend to raise the matter at the United Nations in the near future?

There have been many Governments in office here since 1955 in one of which the Leader of the Labour Party was a member. I think if any of those Governments felt that a resolution passed by the United Nations would settle the partition question they would have raised it.

In other words, the Tánaiste just mentioned this incidentally in some of his speeches. Is the matter going to be brought officially before the United Nations? I just want a simple answer to that.

At present we are not in course of tabling it at the United Nations.

Is consideration being given to it? Have you made up your mind you are not going to do it?

Consideration has, of course, been given to all aspects of the partition question and what would help to cure it.

In other words, the Minister is going to do nothing.

The Minister could have had a chat with U Thant in London without going to the expense of travelling to the United Nations.