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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 14 May 1970

Vol. 246 No. 9

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Statements on North.


asked the Taoiseach whether future statements on the north will be made by one official spokesman on behalf of the Government; or whether the various Ministers of the Cabinet will speak on this issue.

The Government's policy in relation to the north was stated by me on several occasions, notably on the 20th September, and the 17th January last and as recently as last Saturday. Members of the Government are fully entitled to express the Government's policy on appropriate occasions.

From memory I think this is almost an exact replica of a reply the Taoiseach made to me to a similar question earlier this year and I think it was just after Deputy Blaney had made one of his outbursts. The Taoiseach then gave the very same reply to cheers and applause from these benches. There are no cheers today. Is the Taoiseach still standing over the idea that free rein will be given to the various theories in his party at present on how unification will be achieved? There will be these voices continuing—Deputy Blaney, Deputy Boland and others, all subscribing to this fictitious policy of yours on unity.


The Deputy is not in the Mansion House now.

I said that Government Ministers are free to express Government policy on appropriate occasions and Government policy is well known not only to the members of the Government but to all members of the party.

Will the Taoiseach not agree that there has been, understandably and properly, an evolution of Government policy in this matter over the past year and that, indeed, in last Saturday's speech there were elements not contained in any previous statement in regard to the possible attitude of this Government if trouble occurred in Northern Ireland? Would he not agree, in view of the fact that it is an evolving policy of which there is no complete statement in any one place, that there is a case for a complete restatement of Government policy up to date as it now stands?

I consider my statements have been absolutely adequate and comprehensive.

Would the Taoiseach not agree that the fact that he added such important matter to his previous policy statement last Saturday shows that his previous statements have not been adequate?

What does the Deputy mean?

Dr. Fitzgerald

The Taoiseach's statement in regard to the whole question of action his Government might take or, indeed, this country might or should take in relation to further trouble in Northern Ireland. This was a completely new statement, and a very important one, including a statement that this was a matter for the Dáil and not for the Government. That had not previously been stated. Would the Taoiseach not agree that there should be now a full statement of Government policy including these vitally important conditional points?

I do not think there is any necessity to tell the Dáil what the Dáil's functions are in matters of this nature. I simply said last week that the Dáil had certain functions over and above what the Government have in certain circumstances. I also stated very fully in my Ard-Fheis speech everything I mentioned in my speech here last Saturday night. I do not think there was any change, any variation last Saturday night from what I said in my Ard-Fheis speech and in what I had said previously.

A final supplementary from Deputy Cruise-O'Brien.

Would the Taoiseach agree that a periodical, which is generally regarded in the north as having been founded for the expression of ministerial views—whether this is correct or not—has now become an organ for the expression of the views of Deputy Boland, Deputy Blaney and others, which are in opposition to Government policy and this is a very dangerous thing?

Identical; authentic Government policy; no difference whatever.

The journal to which the Deputy refers has nothing whatever to do with Government or Government policy.


It is authentic Government policy, Deputy Boland says.

Yes, no difference.

I do not accept that as right at all.

Where do we look?