asked the Taoiseach if a formal protest on behalf of the Government has yet been made to the British Government concerning the methods of interrogation revealed in the Compton Report; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Compton Report.
We have for some time been in communication with the British authorities on this matter and the Government announced yesterday their decision that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on their behalf, should refer to the European Commission on Human Rights an application concerning recent breaches in the Six Counties, by the British Government, of the Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Can the Taoiseach say if, apart from the reference of this very serious matter to the Commission and Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, it is proposed to male a formal protest to the British Government about the extraordinary disclosures that emerged in the Compton Report and the very serious reaction that is felt here at the results of that inquiry and if it is proposed in the circumstances to raise it specifically with the British Government?
The subject matter of the Compton Report — the ill treatment — has been raised several times with the British Government.
As distinct from raising the matter, has any formal protest been made at the manner in which interrogation was conducted and, even accepting — which I think very few do —the manner in which the Compton Commission investigated and the terms of its findings, does the Taoiseach not consider that there is in the report of the Compton Inquiry sufficient serious evidence of individual cases which should be the subject of protest to the British Government?
These matters have been raised and protested.
Is the Taoiseach aware that on the radio today a British journalist said that the decision to submit the case to Strasbourg was made without any notice to the British Government and that, as far as the EEC was concerned, we seemed to be fighting in our own backyard? Would the Taoiseach like to comment on this statement?
I happened to hear that statement and I want to say that as far back as August we first raised this matter with the British Government and have done so continually since then. We pointed out the need for a form of inquiry that would be acceptable to the complainants and that would be seen to be independent and we pointed out also that the Compton Inquiry, in its form and in its terms of reference, was inadequate. We warned of the possibility of our bringing the matter before the European Commission on Human Rights. We made repeated representations and suggestions to the British Government. We thought that it was best, as between neighbouring Governments, to attempt to find redress in regard to these allegations and an ending of such alleged violence by private diplomacy. I am sorry to say that we failed to persuade the British Government to respond fairly and adequately to our views. The suggestion that the British Government was in any way taken by surprise is completely without foundation because we told them of the possibility of our going to Strasbourg repeatedly. With regard to the suggestion that as far as our entry to the EEC is concerned, we and the British would appear to be fighting in our own backyard, it was not we who picked the fight.
Does it not follow from what the Taoiseach has said and his own description of the Compton Inquiry, that it justifies the strongest possible protest to the British Government at the whole manner of interrogation in the North of Ireland and the fact that methods have been adopted there that have only been exceeded under Communist or Nazi regimes?
I have made protests personally.
Would the Taoiseach not agree that in diplomatic circles the degree of protest and the seriousness with which a protest is received would depend on whether it was informal or formal and that the highest form of protest one can make is a formal protest through the proper channels? Would the Taoiseach not agree that the fact that no formal protest has been made with regard to these tortures and brutalities means, naturally, that the British Government would not take a protest as seriously as they should and as they might have done had the proper formula been used?
I do not know what "formal" is in diplomatic terms.
You are the Taoiseach. So you should know.
We have made protests and representations repeatedly. Our Ambassador has attended personally at the British Foreign Office. As I said, I myself made protests. If that is not formal, I do not know what is. Certainly, there were forceful protests.
Could I take it that, when the Taoiseach says he personally has made them, they were made at cocktail parties or tea parties; or were the proper channels used to make formal protest on behalf of this Government against the torture inflicted on people?
Did the Taoiseach formally request the British Government to end this form of interrogation and did he get a formal refusal?
I made formal requests.
What answers did you get?
How could you, when you do not know what formal is, according to yourself?
We have taken the extreme step now. Are the Deputies not satisfied with what we have done?
You are great. After four months you have taken action now.
Did the Taoiseach get any reply from the British Government?