An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1971: An Dara Céim. Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Second Stage.


Go léifear an Bille an Dara hUair.

I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

This Bill is the first major step in the process by which the people of this country will be asked to decide on the question of Ireland's membership of the European Communities and on the amendment of the Constitution which membership of the Communities will require. I do not think that there will be any disagreement in this House or in the country in so far as putting the issue to the people in concerned. Indeed, there cannot really be any disagreement on this since the Constitution requires a favourable vote of the people for any Constitutional amendment.

What we shall be dealing with in debating this Bill is the nature of the Constitutional amendment which will be necessary in order to enable the State to undertake the obligations of membership of the Communities and, arising from this, the form of the question to be put to the people in the proposed referendum. The Constitutional amendment which the Government are proposing in the Bill is related and related solely to the question of membership of the three European Communities, that is, the European Coal and Steel Community established by the Treaty of Paris, the European Economic Community established by the Treaty of Rome and the European Atomic Energy Community established by the second Treaty of Rome. The purpose of the proposed Constitutional amendment is to enable us to assume all of the obligations which membership of these three Communities, specifically, will entail. These obligations arise from our acceptance of the Treaties of Rome and Paris and the legislation enacted by the Communities in implementation of the Treaties.

As a member of the Communities it will be necessary for us to implement the provisions of the Treaties and the legislation enacted by the Communities in implementation of the Treaties. In the case of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community this implementing legislation takes three forms, namely:

Regulations — which are of general application and are directly applicable in each member State.

Directives — which must be implemented by each member State. It is up to the Government of each member State to enact whatever legislation is necessary in order to achieve the result prescribed in any directive.

Decisions — must be carried out by those to whom they are addressed. Again, it is up to the Government of the member State to which a decision may be addressed to enact whatever legislation may be necessary in order to give effect to such a decision.

In the case of the European Coal and Steel Community, decisions must be implemented while recommendations are binding as to objectives but not as to the means to attain them.

Some of the provisions of the Treaties are directly applicable in national law. Furthermore, as I have mentioned, Regulations of the European Economic Community and of the European Atomic Energy Community and Decisions of the European Coal and Steel Community are also directly applicable in each member State. It is quite clear, therefore, that membership of the European Communities involves the exercise by institutions of the Communities of certain legislative powers in limited spheres in respect of each member State. The proposed Constitutional amendment will provide for this, Article 6.2 and Article 15.2 of the Constitution notwithstanding.

I might mention that Article 6.2 reads:

These powers of government are exercisable only by or on the authority of the organs of State established by this Constitution.

Article 15.2 reads:

The sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is hereby vested in the Oireachtas: no other legislative authority has power to make laws for the State.

The European Court of Justice ensures uniformity in the interpretation and implementation of the Treaties of Rome and Paris and anyone may have recourse to the court in respect of Regulations and Decisions of the Communities which affect him. Furthermore, under Article 177 of the Treaty of Rome establishing the EEC, a court of a member State must refer certain cases, for example, the question of interpretation of provisions of the Treaties, to the Court of Justice of the Communities. The proposed Constitutional amendment would ensure that the authority and functions of the European Court of Justice could be discharged in the case of Ireland, any provisions of Article 34 of the Constitution notwithstanding, Article 34 being the Article setting up our Courts of Justice.

In the sphere of international relations, the EEC Treaty provides for Council decisions to be taken to conclude international agreements between the Communities and other countries, these agreements to be binding on member States. These provisions could be held to be incompatible with Article 29 of the Constitution which prescribes, inter alia, that we shall not be bound by any international agreement involving a charge upon public funds unless the terms of the agreement shall have been approved by the Dáil and that no international agreement shall be part of the domestic law of the State save as may be determined by the Oireachtas. The proposed Constitutional amendment would cover any such incompatibility.

Having given the fullest consideration to the matter, the Government have decided that the form of Constitutional amendment as set out in the Schedule to the Bill would be the most desirable and most effective form of amendment. In the first place, it is sufficiently comprehensive in that it covers whatever obligations we shall be assuming as a member of the three Communities which might be considered incompatible with provisions of the Constitution. Secondly, the proposed amendment is clearly specifically limited, and is thus formulated, to obligations arising from membership of the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. It is not intended, nor can it be interpreted as going beyond, the obligations which membership of these three Communities, as provided for in the respective Treaties, and in legislation enacted in their implementation will entail.

There is a third and very important advantage in having the Constitutional amendment in the form proposed. The Bill envisages putting a question to the people which they can answer by a simple "yes" or "no". This will enable the Irish people to pronounce in a clear-cut way and on the specific issue of membership for Ireland of the European Communities. This, the Government feel, is fully in accordance with the wishes of the people on this issue of major importance to the country.

Some Deputies may ask why the Government did not propose an amendment which would deal, by reference to specific articles, with the incompatibilities which exist between the provisions of the Constitution and obligations of membership of the Communities. The answer is that the Government consider that it would not be practicable to do so because the extent to which the Constitution would need to be amended is in the final analysis a matter for decision by the appropriate courts. The Government, accordingly, decided that the most appropriate approach would be to achieve the desired result by means of an amendment which would remove the incompatibilities in a general way while ensuring at the same time that the amendment was confined to the specific obligations arising from membership of the Communities.

There is a vital point on which it is most important that there should be the clearest understanding in the debate in this House on the Bill before us. The three Treaties, with which we are concerned in the proposed Constitutional amendment, and the legislation enacted by the three Communities in implementation of the Treaties deal only with matters covered by the Treaties, that is, with economic and commercial and related social matters. The scope of the Treaties, i.e. the areas within which the Communities can operate, are contained in the purposes and aims of the Communities as set out clearly in the Treaties.

I think it important also to mention a further point on which it is essential that we be quite clear. The proposed Constitutional amendment is concerned, as I have said, only with the three European Communities at present in existence and with the obligations which we shall assume as members of these Communities. The text of the proposed amendment has been so drafted. It is not the Government's intention, nor is the proposed Constitutional amendment designed to cover, any possible incompatibility with the present Constitution which might arise as a result of obligations which it might be necessary to assume if we wished to become a member of any political community in Europe which may eventually be created and evolving from the present Communities. Such a political community would certainly have to be based on an original and separate treaty as between the countries concerned. The question of Ireland's adherence to such a treaty would, of course, be subject to the approval of the Dáil and, depending on the form and nature of the political community proposed, might well require a separate Constitutional amendment. This, of course, would also have to be put to the people for approval.

I commend the Bill to the House.

Tairgim leasú a 1:

Go scríosfar na focail go léir i ndiaidh "Go" agus go gcuirfear ina n-ionad:—

"ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille ar an bhforas go bhféachann sé le leasú a dhéanamh ar an mBunreacht gan trácht ar na hAirteagail lena mbaineann agus ar shlí atá contrártha dó sin atá ceaptha in Airteagal 46.1 den Bhunreacht."

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after "That" and substitute:—

"Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that it seeks to amend the Constitution without enumerating the Articles so affected and in a manner contrary to that intended in Article 46.1 of the Constitution."

Perhaps the one matter on which we could all agree here is the importance of the Bill now before the House. Because of the statement of April, 1970, contained in the Government's paper on membership of the European Communities and since we know that an inter-departmental committee under the chairmanship of the Attorney General were already sitting then and had at that time considered what would be necessary in the way of Constitutional amendments, we must assume, therefore, that the form of words presented to us in this Bill is not the result of hasty decision and that serious thought and care have been given to the actual phrasing of the Bill.

I might say at this stage that the Bill is even more horrifying in view of the certain knowledge that it was not something that was cooked up late at night or in a rush. From these benches, through our Leader, Deputy Corish, we offered a mechanism to the Taoiseach and to the Government whereby, recognising that this would be a complex and possibly difficult issue, a simple question could be asked of the people in a simple, direct and straightforward way. This was the mechanism that is contained in Article 27 of the Constitution whereby not a Constitutional amendment but simply a question could be put to the people in the form of a referendum. Deputy Corish gave an undertaking then that if a clear and unequivocal answer was contained in that referendum we, for our part, would facilitate, in so far as lay in our power, the passage of Constitutional amendments and the legislation that would be conditional on that decision. We argued then that the Constitutional amendments were necessarily complex and that they ought not be mixed up with the basic decision as to whether it was the national will to join the three Communities. However, that course, which seemed to us to be a reasonable, fair, just and possible one, was not even considered and, instead, we have been presented with this Bill.

Of course there is some necessary preamble to the Bill but we have the extraordinary situation whereby something that is absolutely fundamental not only to our Constitution but to the whole direction of our nation is being decided by the essential kernel of the Bill which consists of 11 lines and two sentences. The first of these sentences is entirely unexceptional and one that no one could disagree with. We are being asked to scrap our Constitution. We are changing the whole direction of national evolution in one sentence the implications of which are unclear. I find that profoundly shocking and I am bound to say that also I find it dishonest for the reason that, indeed, a nation is entitled to change direction and is entitled to abandon a Constitution but it is not entitled to do so by stealth. It is obligatory that the real issues be put forward for discussion.

Let us look at this Bill that we are now seeking to amend. The essential part of it, Part II, consists of 11 lines and of those, the first seven say that the State may become a member of the three Communities. We are anxious that the people should be consulted on this. It should be in the form of a matter for decision. In fact, that is the kernel of it and that question could have been asked alone under the mechanism of Article 27 of the Constitution. Then, from line seven to line 11, in one sentence, we have this incredible and extraordinarily comprehensive sweeping aside of very large parts of our Constitution on the one hand while on the other hand there is an extraordinary and comprehensive acceptance of laws, of rules and of actions taken by Communities which were not responsible to any democratic organisation. We are rubber-stamping undemocratic and bureaucratic decisions. I find the fact that this major change, the most fundamental change in national policy and direction since the foundation of the State, should be wrapped up in four vague lines profoundly scandalous and shocking, but it is entirely in line with the determination to settle things by preventing the real issues coming before the people. This is a bundling up of a whole number of Articles into four lines which look completely innocuous, which in my view were designed to be completely innocuous. The tactics of the Government on this have been quite simple—to have no discussion for as long as possible and once the British decision was taken on 28th October to pretend then that there is no alternative. First no discussion, which would have teased out alternatives, and then the pretence that we have no choice.

Let us look at what this one scandalous sentence means. It is divided into two parts. It is so concise that it requires many words to tease out these seemingly brief and innocuous phrases. The first part says:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State consequent on membership of the Communities....

Let us look at it in different ways. What does "consequent on" mean? What does it mean in law? What does it mean in ordinary common sense? To my mind it means that any act done or any measure adopted or any law enacted which can be argued to be taken in good faith, consequent on membership of the Communities, can stand up in the face of any protection which is enshrined in our Constitution and that no appeal to the Supreme Court or to Constitutional protection will be good against any law or act or measure if it is simply shown that that law or act or measure was consequent upon our joining the Communities or consequent upon our membership of the Communities.

We could spend hours looking at what has happened since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957 and since it started to be implemented at the beginning of 1958. All sorts of actions have been taken in the Community in regard, for example, to harmonisation of trade, harmonisation of investment, in regard to free movement of labour, free movement of capital, free movement of goods, in regard to quality controls, transport, social services, social welfare and all sorts of things. Decisions have been taken, events have evolved and positions have been taken up. It is a basic principle of the Treaty of Rome that we must have harmonisation between the constituent members. Any action relevant to all of the evolutions in decision-making and in the physical development of the Community for 14 years, that can be related in good faith to this 14 years of evolution, will be legally valid and recourse to the defence of the Constitution will be swept away.

We have two powers, which are quite different, enshrined in this, to me, offending and offensive sentence. First, if we claim that actions are consequent on membership we can carry them out even if they are in violation of the Constitution as it currently exists and is currently interpreted. Then in another seemingly innocuous 2¼ lines we find that anything that the Community have done in these 14 years by way of law or act or measure shall have the force of law in the State notwithstanding the fact that it is in violation of the Constitution. First, we give ourselves permission to carry out a very wide range of actions which would at present be unconstitutional and, secondly, we give ourselves the right to implement a very wide range of actions taken over 14 years, most of them without any recourse to democratic validation. We give ourselves the right to give them the force of law in this State even if they are contrary to the Constitution as it currently exists.

To put this into one sentence and to present it in the innocuous way that the Taoiseach has now done seems to me profoundly insulting and to indicate a profound wish to make real problems go away by pretending they are not there.

The Taoiseach's speech is rather brief and I do not think it takes up any of the real issues. The Taoiseach says in the opening paragraph:

I do not think there will be any disagreement in this House or in the country in so far as putting the issue to the people is concerned.

There will be no disagreement that the issue ought to be put to the people but there will be and is now profound disagreement as to whether or not this is the appropriate mechanism. This is a nice example of the use of words to conceal thoughts, of the bundling up of incompatible things together. Of course the question should be put to the people but the abandoning of our Constitution and the changing of our national direction should not be smuggled into four lines. This is not something that anybody outside the ranks of the loyal rubber stamp Fianna Fáil Party will agree to.

One has to read the Taoiseach's words very carefully always. He has at least one talent that I am prepared to admit is a great talent. That is a talent for seeming to say one thing when he means another thing. At the time you think he means such-and-such, and so does everybody else, but when you read the small print afterwards, possessing perhaps the knowledge that he possessed at the time he made the statement which his audience did not possess, you find he did not mean that at all, that he meant something else. Of this one peculiar talent the Taoiseach is a great practitioner. This makes us extremely cautious about everything he says. He also said:

Having given the fullest consideration to the matter, the Government have decided that the form of Constitutional amendment as set out in the Schedule to the Bill would be the most desirable and most effective form of amendment.

Certainly the most effective for scrambling something through without anybody knowing that it is happening, certainly the most desirable for abandoning the Constitution while pretending to uphold it.

"In the first place, it is sufficiently comprehensive." I like the use of the word "sufficiently" there because it is so vastly comprehensive, as I will argue presently when I look at the text of the Constitution, that it means, in fact, burying the Constitution in all its significant aspects, and that is sufficiently comprehensive for most people, but the term "sufficiently comprehensive" there, of course, is another piece of the bland, innocuous use of the English language that conceals a very savage reality.

"Certainly, the proposed amendment is clearly and specifically limited." That seems to me not using words to conceal thought but using words to convey something which is the exact opposite of the intention because I will argue presently, and not only I, but also people with legal qualifications, that it is neither clearly nor specifically limited, that, in fact, the exact opposite is true, that it is not clear and not specific and not clearly limited and not specifically limited but deliberately extremely wide and extremely vague.

At least, on page 4, in the third paragraph, we get some sort of indication of the extent. The Taoiseach says:

It would not be practicable to have reference to specific Articles because the extent to which the Constitution would need to be amended is in the final analysis a matter for decision by the appropriate courts.

One of the great objections to this Bill is that, if it is passed, then a whole series of matters will not, in fact, be capable of being referred to our courts at all. It may be that when the Taoiseach says "the appropriate courts" he means the European Court of Justice but what this Bill does, as I will indicate presently, is to take extremely large areas of legal decision out of the power of the Supreme Court and though the Supreme Court has had many defects I think it has by and large functioned as an upholder of people's liberties. Its power would be vastly undermined by this Bill.

Finally, we have the argument about a political community. That is in the last paragraph. The suggestion here is that we would have a choice in regard to this political community if we adhere to the existing three Communities, the Euratom and the Coal and Steel and the Economic Communities but if, in fact, we participate in them in an open-ended way, and if we merge our economies with no possibility of getting out, the reality of choice in regard to adhering to a political community will not exist in a few years, as the Taoiseach well knows, and, therefore, on the day when a political community comes, we will not have discussed the fundamental national implications now because the thing has been treated in this way and when it comes to a political community, if it does, we will have no choice because we will already be participating in the other three Communities and what will be the choice is whether we go on participating in them without any political influence or whether we go along and have political influence but by separating the political from the economic at this moment the Taoiseach is trying to bundle us along, again without discussion, to a moment where the possibility of alternative choices will have ceased to exist.

I do not propose to treat further with what the Taoiseach has said because, in fact, in a way that we have come to expect, he has said very little, indeed, of either his real intention or the fundamental reasons why he is doing what he is doing.

Let us think for a moment about this Constitution that we are asked to abandon. The Constitution has been criticised by all parties. It has some very serious defects. It is in some ways a barrier to national unity. Of course, it needs to be amended and, indeed, there is a good deal of common opinion among all three parties and other interests in the State about the ways in which it needs to be amended. This is all true. But, when that is said, I think one can read it in some sections with a good deal of pride. Are we not all profoundly glad, for example, that it is a Republican Constitution and that we are not brainwashed and degraded by the remnants of monarchical traditions such as other countries possess? Is this not an admirable thing? Are not we pleased that in many ways it is a democratic Constitution? Are not we pleased that it gives certain specific guarantees to women? I think we can be pleased about all these things. Its defects, if one looks at them, are fairly minor and could readily be removed had we the political will to do so. I mean the will as distinct from the words expressing a will to do so. We have the words expressing that will but we do not have the action. By and large, considering its time, the Constitution was an admirable document in its day and, looking at some of the Constitutions that exist around the world, in fact, it is a good Constitution. It has enshrined a good deal of liberties and, as interpreted by the Supreme Court from time to time, and, indeed, as defended by the people in referenda, it has continued to enshrine a good deal of liberty. In fact, its defects are as meaningful as its strengths because it summed up a good deal of the thinking and the atmosphere, even to its bits of vocationalism and the rest of it, of the thirties, when it was produced. Of course, the world has gone on from there. But the essential thing to do with our Constitution is to modernise it and to remove the offending bits and not to scrap it.

What are the general objections? There are general and specific objections that have moved us to put down the amendment that I am now introducing. There are two general objections. The first is that a formulation as wide as "consequent upon" is, in fact, bad law. I am not a lawyer. There was a time when lawyers were much more available to other parties than to our party but with the evolution of time we have as good legal advice as any other party at present, I am pleased to say, and it is seriously argued by people of profound expertise that when something is as vague, as indefinite, as imprecise in its application and interpretation as this Bill is, in fact, it is an invitation to litigation and it is, as the lawyers have put it to me, simply bad law.

I understand, for example, that in the United States the Supreme Court has struck down legislation on the basis of what they term "legal vagueness". I understand also that at a certain level lawyers in all countries try to converge in their methods, in their standards and in their attitudes and that what is a good argument in an evolved and in some ways democratic nation like the United States, while not automatically applicable here, would at least have some force with lawyers in this country. It is proper that that should be so.

The suggestion is that because you cannot with any precision look to just what bits of the basic Constitution of the State would be invalidated, that is so vague as to constitute bad law. The second general objection is that, in fact, in the Constitution itself a mechanism is envisaged for the changing of the Constitution. I refer to that section of the Constitution headed "Amendment of the Constitution". It is Article 46. The first clause states:

Any provision of this Constitution may be amended, whether by way of variation, addition, or repeal, in the manner provided by this Article.

I take these words to have been carefully thought out and to mean what they say. Again, I am not a lawyer, but when one listens to and sees constitutional lawyers analysing sentences, the analysis turns on meaning and on the intention of the people who put the words on paper and, having put them on paper, looked at them, scratched out, added bits and tried to express exactly what they meant. Article 46 says "Any provision of this Constitution"; it does not say a whole lot of specified blanket provisions of the Constitution may be so changed. It says that any one may be amended and the mechanism of amendment is the variation of the Article, or an addition to the Article, or a repeal of the Article. That is what it says. I take Clause 1 of Article 46 to mean clearly and absolutely that you may not change the Constitution in what I might describe as a buckshot way; you fire off some destructive legislation in the general direction of the Constitution and you destroy whatever particular Articles of it that you happen to hit.

That is what this Bill says. It does not say what Articles it happens to hit. It does not say what Articles, or bits of Articles, it happens to knock out. It just says that anything consequent on membership of these three Communities will be followed notwithstanding what is in the Constitution. In other words, anything the Communities have done will have the force of law here notwithstanding the Constitution. Now, I am urging this not as a lawyer, but I have talked to lawyers about it, and this does seem to me absolutely at variance with the intention of Clause 1 of Article 46. It is not just bad law on the basis of legal vagueness, on the basis of the imprecision, on the basis of lack of clarity; it is bad law on the basis that it violates, in my view, Clause 1 of Article 46. It is, in fact, much too general. I think that this to some extent may have been in the Taoiseach's mind when he uttered some of the words he did because at page 3 of the supplied script when he says the proposed amendment is clearly and specifically limited, he is saying the exact opposite of what is true. He is trying to isolate precisely what the core of the technical objection to the Bill is and to make that objection to go away by denying it is there. There is no stretch of thought, or manipulation of words and no reversal of the meaning of words, by which the proposed amendment can be seen to be clearly and specifically limited. The opposite is the case. It would be an extraordinarily messy situation if we were to go through this whole rigmarole of debating this Bill here and then finding. that someone promptly took it to the Supreme Court. There is, as the Taoiseach must know, being himself a member of the legal profession, good legal opinion in good professional standing which considers this so vague, so imprecise and such bad law, and such a formulating of legislation with a political motive and not with a clearcut legal one, that it is not possible to guarantee the outcome of an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Taoiseach can get himself certainly a legal opinion which will tell him that such an appeal to the Supreme Court will be well-merited and a well worth while undertaking.

I was rather hoping, clearly without a valid foundation, that, even at the last minute, the Government might think: "Let us have some other mechanism by which we can get a nice clearcut question asked of the people." Then the Government could remind us of the promise we made, when they got a clearcut answer under the mechanism we suggested, Article 27, that this was clearly the will of the people and the consequential changes in the Constitution would be facilitated. I thought there would be an abandonment of large lumps of this section because of the objections, not of people like myself, who have fundamental objections to our full membership of the Community certainly on the present terms, but because of the objections of legal people who have indicated that this is a careless, foolish, confused, politically motivated and generally extremely unsatisfactory piece of legislation, if it ever gets through this House. I would have thought that in the light of these arguments we might see a last-minute change of mind because the Taoiseach must know, with his own feed back in the legal profession, that these are cogent arguments widely held by lawyers whose professional expertise is not in doubt.

We have now envisaged a mechanism, if one goes on about the general objections to it, that could alter the fundamental rights of citizens, that could alter the position of Parliament, that could alter the rights, the functions and even the mechanism of appointing judges, that could tamper with habeas corpus, that could alter the system of election, that could alter control of ownership of natural resources, and all sorts of things like that, without recourse to this Oireachtas. We propose a mechanism that could alter so many things so fundamentally without recourse to this Oireachtas or to any direct democratic institution that one might well postulate all sorts of Acts being introduced here and, if they were consequent upon EEC membership, and, notwithstanding anything in the Constitution, they would have to have the force of law if it were argued they were done bona fide consequent on EEC membership.

This, of course, may be the way the Taoiseach is thinking, or his advisers, to get around a whole number of Articles in the Constitution they do not particularly like but in regard to which they do not want to face the battle in doing away with them. They do not want to face the crunch so they consign them to oblivion in this block sort of way without ever having to argue anything out or introduce legislation to repeal them.

Before going on to look at the particular objections in the Articles the Government themselves spelled out in the White Paper in April, 1970, I want to say a word about the concept of sovereignty and about the concept of a nation. This is not simply for the purpose of discussing these concepts but because they are central in any discussion of the Constitution. They are essential because in Article 1 of the Constitution, the whole of the first section is called "The Nation". The third word in the Constitution is "nation". It says, "The Irish nation hereby affirms". The word "sovereign" occurs in the second line. The concept of sovereignty is fundamental to the whole of the thinking and the whole of the struggle that culminated in the promulgation of this Constitution in 1937.

It has been argued that sovereignty in any agreement is to some extent abated, abrogated or diminished and we are therefore doing nothing different here when, as the Taoiseach rightly said, we take the first step in adhering to the three Communities. When we seek to adhere to these Communities we are doing nothing essentially different from what we do if we have a trade agreement with somebody. It must be clear, and again one is using words not to confuse or obscure the truth but to try to clarify things, that when you have two events so vastly different in magnitude and kind, that you can only honestly talk about them as being different in kind. It could be argued that the thing which comes literally in a matchbox, called a matchbox and shaped like a motor car is the same sort of thing as the car parked out in the parking lot. It could be argued that the rockets which children light at Hallowe'en are the same sort of rockets that take people to the moon but the scale, the intent, the investment, the significance and the power of these two things which are described by the same word, is so different that in fact it is specious and dishonest to say they are the same thing.

Any relationship between nations as between persons involves some diminution of freedom and in that abstract, total sense it involves a diminution of sovereignty if we are referring to nations. To argue that a trade agreement or any sort of pact between sovereign nations, which is capable of being reversed, is really no different from the joining of the-Communities, which is open-ended, which once we have done it for a few years even if we wanted legally to reverse it, would not be economically reversible in real terms, is the same thing and that since sovereignty is diminished by having any sort of relations with any other sovereign nation we are used to the idea of diminishing sovereignty and we may therefore go into the EEC without any worries because it is the same sort of diminution of sovereignty, seems to me as bogus an argument as to equate children's rockets with moon rockets because they are so different in scale and significance.

We in Ireland are apt to make our politics into theology. We are inclined to elevate sovereignty to a principle which has some abstract value for us. I am not arguing for the defence of Irish sovereignty in abstract terms. The reason people want sovereignty and want to defend it is because it enables them to do things for themselves which they consider to be good for themselves. It is dressed up in extremely flowery and, often indeed, in our circumstances, in mystical language but at the core of this verbal wrapping there is the reality of the power to make decisions concerning oneself and that is the sovereignty one is concerned about.

The fact that the opening section of the Constitution is called "The Nation" indicates the significance of the idea of nation to Irish people. This again is something that has often been wrapped up in vague and mystical terms. People have fought and died for it without being too sure what it was. This again, for us, is a clearcut conception, it is a conception not abstract, not mystical, not having any validity for theoretical reasons, only having validity if it enables people to live together and evolve a community and a culture together and evolve all the things which are collectively known as a way of life together.

The reason it is important to define this is because hundreds of years ago people envisaged the existence of a nation as a goal long before there was one and they moved towards it with great persistence, great courage and great dedication. It can be argued that the full attainment of this, which is put in its significance in national life correctly by being put as the first section of the Constitution, has not been completed. We have, however, to say that it is important as a goal to the Irish people, that it is something we have moved a long way towards, that it is something we have not finally attained and it is something we care about profoundly. If those things are true, and I believe they are true and I believe on that we might have consensus here, then we have to talk about the idea of a nation in the context of this first effort to get us into these three Communities.

Let us look at which parts of the Constitution would have to go if we were to pass this Bill, let us try to tease out the thing which it is reckoned to be too complex to be done in public and too complex to be embodied in referenda and so complex that the Taoiseach suggests, "the extent to which the Constitution would need to be amended is, in the final analysis, a matter for decision by the appropriate courts". When working properly the courts are the guardians of many things, but that does not mean Parliament should give up the task of trying to tease these things out and look at them.

In April, 1970, the White Paper "Membership of the European Communities, Implications for Ireland" was published. April, 1970, seems like a different world now. The sky had not fallen at that time and the exigencies of the political situation were not such that the Government had to try and scramble something as complex and as delicate as this through this Parliament and past the gaze of the Irish people without really explaining to them what was involved. At that time, after the deliberations of the inter-departmental committee under the chairmanship of the Attorney General, we were told a certain amount, although in my view nothing like enough even then about the Constitutional implications. If we are asked now to sweep away the various sections, we might look at what from the Government's side we were told then. I am referring to page 2 of the 1970 White Paper and again this was considered sufficiently significant to be put as chapter 1 of that White Paper, which is entitled, "Constitutional and Legal Implications". I am quoting from page 2, 1.5, which states:

Among the provisions of the Constitution which have to be considered in this regard are:

(i) Article 5, which states that Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic State;

By the Government's own admission, Article 5 is at least in doubt in the context of its being retained in the Constitution if we adhere to the Communities. My reason for talking about sovereignty a minute ago was that I was coming on to refer to Article 5. This Article, which is a very central one and one which I must say I am very proud of, clearly could not be retained. I am proud that it says that Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic State, but it could not retain sovereignty in the way I have defined it. One might have an argument about the amount of sovereignty and it could be argued on the other side that we would participate in a larger sovereignty, but that participation would be proportional to the power of each of the participating nations in the ten. There are veto mechanisms and other mechanisms which are of doubtful duration; one might visualise a time in which this kind of unanimity protection will diminish and perhaps the great nations, the Germans, the French and the British will retain sovereignty.

With one-sixth of the voting power which any one country will have?

The Deputy is making it a matter of voting, when I think it really relates not even to population but to GNP and if you want to relate it to GNP, it is then one two-hundredth of the GNP.

And the biggest any country would have is one-fifth.

We are talking, I think, if we are to be realistic, about a situation in which the separate entities of decision-making will disappear and you will tend to merge into a general decision-making mechanism and then power will depend on relative economic size. I recognise that there are voting strengths at this moment and veto mechanisms, but I am talking about the direction of evolution. I do not see any way, particularly as the smallest, poorest, weakest, slowest-growing and most under-developed nation of the ten with one two-hundredth of the GNP of the ten, that we can talk about sovereignty or equally of independence, because they are the two sides of the same medal.

I accept that there are arguments that may be so valid that perhaps they sweep away other arguments, which would say in the 1970s for three million people with the economic weakness I have described to talk about sovereignty and independence is cloud-cuckoo land; be realistic about it: merge yourself in a greater entity. That is an argument that conceivably might convince the majority of the Irish people. What I object to in this context is the pretence that sovereignty or independence is not diminished. Even more, I object to the sweeping aside of that Article which is absolutely central to the whole direction of evolution and aspiration of this nation without mentioning it or naming it. It is just delicately and quietly swept away.

The Constitution says we are democratic, but those who have looked at the decision-making mechanisms of the Community at present do not see democratic decision-making mechanisms. I think the word democratic is an umbrella—or put it this way—a bucket into which you put whatever you want to put. I think democracy means vastly more than elected national parliaments or elected supranational bodies or elected local authorities. I think it means vastly more than that. It is seen to mean more than that in this decade. But we are moving away from the democracy that is enshrined in the Constitution of which I am very proud by adhering to a Community which has promises about democracy and has indeed a bit of genuflection in the direction of democracy in terms of a European Parliament. But it is window-dressing. To call this thing in Strasbourg a parliament is less than honest, because it does not have the powers of a parliament. It would be honest to call it a consultative assembly, but there is a diminution of democracy in adhering to these Communities as at present constituted.

It is clear that Article 6 (2), even according to the Government's own pre-crisis statement, would have to go. One could spend time on this, but there is no point in doing so: there is general acceptance on all sides that it could not be retained. It is quite central because it relates to the derivation of powers of government from the people. Article 15 (2) vests in the Oireachtas the sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State et cetera. It is clear and we have it from all sides that this would have to go. In sweeping aside Article 15 (2), we would be emasculating ourselves in this institution. Defective as it is in many ways, at least it has certain decision-making powers.

Again, according to the Government's document of April, 1970 the question arises of the powers of the Supreme Court under Article 34 (4) 6º of the Constitution, which provides that the decision of the Supreme Court shall in all cases be final and conclusive. In fact, just as we would be downgrading ourselves as a parliament, the Supreme Court would find itself subservient to the European Court and whatever decision it handed down would be capable of being taken to the European Court. There is the question of the power of this Parliament to establish agreements with other nations and those agreements, when entered into, having validity in relation to the decisions of this Oireachtas. We know that even at its present level of evolution, the Community enters into international relationships which are binding on the participant States and therefore, again on the Government's own analysis, Article 29 (5) 2º and Article 29 (6) would both have to go.

Those are very large holes in the Constitution even on the Government's analysis of it, when you look at the Constitution as a whole. It has articles to the number of 50 but many of them, if you examine the table of contents, are concerned with the detailed mechanisms of doing precise and special things. When you take out of that Constitution the sovereignty and independence of the country which it affirmed, the power of this Oireachtas, the power of the Supreme Court and the power to enter into international agreements, you are left with many other sections but they are sections consisting of small-printed, technical details. When those sections are gone, the guts of the Constitution are gone. This is not in fact amending or modifying the Constitution. In a real sense if you look at it—I am not doing it by counting sentences or commas or pages —the real decisions, the real rights and powers enshrined in that Constitution, if you look at them, all of them are gone in this neat, anodyne, innocuous, bland 11 lines that the Taoiseach has so gently and quietly and shyly introduced. It is very neat, but I ask myself is it very honest and when I look at it, I answer myself that it is not. This is the effort to evade discussion, to evade national decision.

The document was written by the Government in April, 1970—in precrisis times when there was not the acute problem of the party managers and of the Government—but even they would have been concerned to dress the thing up as blandly as possible. That being so, I looked at the Constitution to see if other parts of it would have to go in addition to what the Government have set out themselves.

Oddly enough, the first Article that will have to go is Article No. 1—which, one would have thought, would be where the central thought would be enshrined. Article 1 states that the Irish nation affirms its inalienable right to determine its relations with other nations. There are other inalienable rights enshrined in this section, but that right, according to the Constitution, cannot be taken away. It was considered important enough to be described as "inalienable, indefeasible and sovereign". Article 1 states that the Irish nation affirms its right to determine its relations with other nations and states that this right cannot be taken away.

If the reality is that the institutions of the Community may form relationships with other groupings, which are binding on us, if those decisions are taken by the Council of Ministers, how can we say we are retaining the right to determine our relations with other nations? There is no way out of this. It is not just a quibble, it is an inescapable fact. In the last few years I have grown accustomed to the fact that although we put up serious arguments, they are not answered. I have noticed the way trivia are picked out for the sake of conducting a debate which goes on for half an hour and sounds like a serious debate but, in fact, is nothing of the kind. I have no doubt that any important points raised will be ignored as usual. There will not be any effort made to have a serious meeting of minds. The matter we are discussing is serious. We are being asked to alienate a right which the Constitution says is inalienable.

Article 3 is interesting because it starts by saying: "Pending the reintegration of the national territory...." Our Constitution makes a claim to enact laws which have jurisdiction in Saorstát Éireann, but it says that the doing of this is without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory. The territory has been defined in Article 2.

We can argue whether this is right or wrong. If we decide collectively that it is wrong, we can change it. There are many good arguments to suggest that we should change it, but it is a pity to change it by default. What about the mechanism where the United Kingdom takes our claim to the European Court of Justice? What if the European Court of Justice says that we have not exercised that right in the life of the State, that we cannot go on claiming it forever and that it has no validity, that if we want to go on asserting its validity we will be in breach of a decision of the European Court of Justice? The British must surely be thinking of ending this anomalous situation by that legal device if their legal advisers are using their heads.

Is the Deputy suggesting that this would be the interpretation taken if the matter were submitted to the European Courts of Justice?

I think there exists sufficient basis for the British to take it to the Court of Justice. I would not presume to say what they would decide to do. The regulation of disputes between member States is part of that responsibility——

Only in relation to the interpretation of treaties.

The Deputy knows quite well that this is a course of action which may be possible. I am not saying it is possible.

I do not see how it could be done and I should like the Deputy to tell me.

I have not said that it is possible, but if it is possible we will be sweeping away Article 3—without discussion.

We have referred to Article 5 already. We have been thinking in terms of the EEC but we are asked to adhere to three Communities at present, one of which is the Coal and Steel Community. That Community take supra-national decisions about the coal and steel industries. We do not have coal or steel at the moment, but we have a large continental shelf and we know about the developments that have taken place throughout the world in this regard.

In Article 10, claims are made in regard to all natural resources and section 2 of that Article refers to all land, moneys, minerals and waters belonging to Saorstát Éireann. Those claims could not be upheld if we adhere to the second of the three treaties we are being asked to approve —the treaty that set up the Coal and Steel Community. On the face of it, this is not important at the moment because we have no significant coal or steel industries but we have an enormous continental shelf. The technology of obtaining resources from the continental shelf is advancing almost monthly and the question of our sovereignty over all our natural resources is important. It has been made more important by the way in which our mines and other resources are being developed at this moment. The claims in Article 10 with regard to our natural resources could not be sustained, part of them would have to go, if we adhere to the treaty setting up the Coal and Steel Community. Article 15, section 6 is rather ludicrous in the light of present events. Section 6.1º states that the right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas. Would that it were so at present.

Hear, hear.

We would be the only nation in the Community which is not a member of NATO. One is aware that the Americans are entering an isolationist phase and are withdrawing their forces and important American periodicals are talking about further withdrawals from Europe. One also takes note of the Heath/Pompidou joint arms discussions. It is inconceivable that there will not be a European Army and that we will not be required to contribute to that Army, whether money, personnel or both.

I believe that we will be required, but not immediately. We are talking about the probable development of evolution.

Who was it who said that a Europe worth joining is a Europe worth defending?

The word "required".

The Article says that the right to raise and maintain military armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas. Everybody agrees that we have to look on the Communities as being evolving. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has approved the Treaty of Rome without reservation. I met nobody in Europe, including the Commissioners, who approved of the Treaty of Rome without reservation. Apparently we are the only people who do, on the Government side.

The direction of evolution is such that we have to discuss the question of whether we will be required to contribute both personnel and money to an army over which this Oireachtas will not have control. Article 28 is about making war and about our traditional neutrality. I do not think we would have the right as a member of the Community to decide on neutrality. I do not know who said it, but I certainly heard it said that a Europe worth joining is a Europe worth defending. An argument can be made for saying: "Let us accept a responsibility towards a European army and towards the defence of Europe." If the majority of people accept that argument well and good, that is fine.

What I object to is the effort to settle all these things together and to bundle another central piece of Irish policy, which I admire and applaud and approve of very much, the policy of neutrality, out of the way without talking about it. This solves a lot of problems. You are encumbered with myths that you live with and win elections with. You take them out and parade them solemnly at crossroads during elections. You are really secretly rather ashamed of them but you do not know how to get rid of them. You have not got the political courage to face them and argue them through. You use this mechanism to sweep out of the way a whole lot of things, some of which are myths that ought to be argued through and disposed of, and some of which are extremely precious to the people and, in my view, rightly so.

I could go on through the Constitution but I do not propose to spend more time doing so. I have taken this much time to indicate how misleading and how inaccurate is the claim which the Taoiseach made, that the proposed amendment is clearly and specifically limited, and also to indicate that what we are doing—and we might as well be plain and blunt about it—is abandoning every significant provision in the Constitution of 1937. If the argument were put that times change and that situations evolve that would be different. I think the Constitution has defects, although it also contains some good provisions. I do not think it is as good as our first Constitution. The 1937 Constitution was a retrograde step but, if you compare it with the Constitutions in Europe at that time, you will find that it was very good, indeed, and we could be proud of the vast majority of its provisions. The argument that it should be made a little better is valid. There is a consensus of agreement about it but not that it should be ditched in this absolutely fundamental way, and not by abandoning pretty well every significant provision by stealth.

I said before that I found it a little depressing here that trivia are picked on for reply from the Government side and that there is a studied policy of evading the essence of criticism. Therefore, we go through the motions of debate without ever having a meeting of minds and without ever trying to talk to each other and listen to each other. This is depressing in a national Parliament. It is particularly depressing when the task before the national Parliament is a debate on a request that it should abolish its own power and position, that it should abolish the power and position of the Supreme Court, and that it should abolish the sovereignty of the nation which sends us here.

We have this seemingly innocuous Bill which, in fact, proposes a fundamental change in the direction of our national life and in the thinking about every aspect of our national life, and which involves abandonment of our Constitution. We had a brief and anodyne introduction to it which studiously avoided raising any of the real issues. Therefore I have the feeling that there is not much use in talking to the Government. I do not think they are listening. I do not think they are arguing with the Opposition. I do not think they are explaining what they are doing. Their tactic is the opposite —to avoid argument, to avoid discussion, to go their merry way and to use the majority they have at this moment to get their decisions carried into law. I do not think there is much point in talking to them.

There are some other sections of the community and one might use the national Parliament to talk to them. In urging this amendment on the House, perhaps the first section one might talk to is the other part of the Opposition, the Fine Gael Party. If one were to ask: "Is not the abolition of the competition between nation States in Europe and the abolition of old animosities a good thing?"—who in any party would disagree? Of course it is a good thing. If one were to say: "We ought to look beyond our national boundaries and think and plan and act as Europeans" there would be agreement. Where there is disagreement—and I suspect it is a disagreement which would be found in all three parties if the debate were to be held openly—is about the actual terms under which we are currently urged to join the three Communities which, though they call themselves European, are not indeed the whole of Europe. At that level there is disagreement.

I believe that at a higher level there is agreement in all three parties in regard to the idea of a drawing together of separate European nation States provided there are certain safeguards. There would be a very great measure of agreement in the House on that. What we are disagreeing about is the mechanism, the safeguards, the terms and, indeed, the current structure and the likely direction of evolution of the three Communities who slightly misappropriate the word "European" in their titles. If they were to call themselves the Mid-European Economic Community, the Mid-European Coal and Steel Community and the Mid-European Atomic Energy Community, that might be more accurate.

There will be a good deal of disagreement on long-term objectives, inevitably, in all three parties. This is not confined to Ireland. We have seen political parties in every country in Europe, inside their own boundaries and inside their own ranks, divided on this issue. Some of them expressed their disagreements more clearly than others and, in some, the disagreements are more profound than in others. Relationship to Europe, if I may use that word in inverted commas and with a capital letter, is a matter of disagreement among people of goodwill in all parties in Europe and in all countries.

Here we have a Bill which is totally unacceptable in my view and which ignores the mechanism of asking a simple question which we in this party offered, the Article 27 mechanism, a Bill which seeks to make the most profound and fundamental changes by stealth, by the denial of democracy, the denial of debate, the denial of the presentation of the real issues, the denial of argument on those issues. Surely we can agree that this is completely unacceptable and that the Bill does not deserve to be given a Second Reading in this House.

At present the Taoiseach and his Government, regardless of whether they like the phraseology, are maintained in power by a coalition of votes. That coalition is not one that consists of the Taoiseach's own monolithic, homogeneous party and some others but a coalition that consists of some of his party who are of one point of view, some who are of another point of view and of some people outside who would agree with the minority inside. None the less, it is a coalition. I would like to say to the people who are known by the imprecise term of "dissidents" that so far as I can see, apart from personalities, intrigues and so on, the kernel of the divisions relates to the question of independence, of sovereignty and of nationhood. Differences of points of view on those subjects would express themselves as differences in attitudes towards the North and what decision should be taken in that regard. These people have presented themselves and, I think, at times with accuracy, as being more determined to uphold what one might call the traditional Fianna Fáil conception of sovereignty, of independence and of nationhood such as are enshrined in the Constitution. By and large, they have been more inclined to oppose those traditions than have the vast majority who are led currently by the Taoiseach.

It may be said that there is no division and that it is a question of personalities that is involved, but I do not think that is true. Some of these people have suffered a number of credibility shocks in recent times, but if they want an opportunity to assert their difference and to assert that the Constitution of 1937, with its imperfections, ought to be perfected and improved but not abolished, they have an issue on this amendment. They have an issue that is as near to being a clear-cut one as they are ever likely to get, because the issue is really related to defence of the Constitution, which is another phrase for defence of the nation. If these people want to indicate that their difference is a valid one and if they want to uphold by a vote in Parliament all those things they say outside with such vehemence, this is their opportunity.

Finally, one might address, with respect, a thought and a request to the person who is accepted generally as being the author of the Constitution or who, if not the author, was to a great extent the inspirer of it. I refer to the person who is now our President. We know that Article 13, 7, 1º provides that:

The President may, after consultation with the Council of State, communicate with the Houses of the Oireachtas by message or address on any matter of national or public importance.

This is a matter of national and public importance. Never has there been one that was more so but we know, too, that this right of the President is hedged around by 3º of that Article, which says:

Every such message or address must, however, have received the approval of the Government.

That is interesting. What does it mean? Must it have received the approval of the Government regarding its content, or must it have received their approval in regard to the right of the President to express his opinions here? Do the Government have to rubber stamp its content, or could they ask him to express his opinions? I believe they could ask him to express his opinion and they could give him this right to address the Oireachtas, without asking to write the text of what he says. More than any other he is the person who, by reason of his office, symbolises this nation. That is beyond argument but this is not only by reason of his office, but because of the role he has played in Irish history since before 1916 and because of the various decisions he took, the correctness of which one might either agree or disagree with—very often I would disagree with the correctness of some of those decisions. However, nobody reading Irish history since before 1916 can question the central role played by the President at every step of the way. More than any other man, he has put his stamp on this State in regard both to the defects as well as the good things. Nobody more than he has put his stamp on the Constitution. While this document is not formally the authorship of any one individual, it is understood that it was significantly, with the exception, possibly, of some legal advice and minor amendments, the work of his mind and his hand.

The Constitution is a document that was drawn up carefully. It contains a great deal of thought in all its sections. One can make a mistake by elevating an eminent person to the point where he is completely without the right to express his opinion. Nobody more than the President has the right to express his opinion on the abandonment of the Constitution and, indeed, on the larger question of the abandonment of our sovereignty and our entry into the Community. All the evidence at our disposal indicates that he respects the laws of the State and the Constitution. Therefore, we have no reason to think that he would take an initiative that could be construed as being contrary to Article 13, section (7), 3º of the Constitution, but if the Government wanted genuinely to have his opinion, they could request him to communicate by message or address with the Houses of the Oireachtas and they could indicate to him that what they wanted was not a reflection of their own policy, which is known already but, rather, his personal thought on the matter. The subject we are discussing is the most central issue to be discussed since the foundation of the State and the reason for raising these matters on the Bill is that in his opening sentence, the Taoiseach described the Bill as the first major step in the process by which the people of this country would be asked to decide on Irish membership of the EEC. This is the first step in what is the most important process in the history of the State and, in terms of the direction in which the nation is going, it is more important than the foundation of the State itself because the foundation of the State marked an important milestone in the evolution towards a fully developed, sovereign and independent nation.

It did not mark a change of direction in the general impetus and evolution of Irish national consciousness and thinking which had been going on for well over 100 years before that. What we are being asked to do now, does mark a major change of direction. I am not, for a moment, denying the right of people to change direction if they believe, in their wisdom, they ought to change direction but they must be clear as to what they are doing. This is profoundly important, quite genuinely, and not in terms of chitchat. We have so debased in this House, certainly in my time here, argument with each other, into scoring trivial political points, that when there is an effort to say something serious the inclination is to say: "That is just playing politics." This is fundamentally serious. I hope that on that, at least, we can agree. It is a change of direction which the people of the nation are entitled to make but only in the full knowledge of what they are doing. I believe the Government ought to ask the President for his opinion of this Bill and make that meaningful by saying that what they want to hear is the contents of his mind and not relay to this Parliament a statement which they themselves produce.

In commending this amendment to the House, and in urging both the Opposition and the dissidents to support it, I want to say that there may not be too many opportunities on clear-cut issues like this to vote the Government out of office in the near future. This is such an opportunity if they want to take it. It is a situation of principle, of fundamental importance, a situation in which the most significant decision facing the Irish nation in this country, even more than the foundation of the State, is being taken by stealth, by deceit, by fraud, by an effort to conceal the true nature and the true content of what we are deliberating on. It is also a piece of legislation that is incompetent and that good professional people believe to be bad law, to be itself a source of litigation, confusion and appeal to the Supreme Court.

I urge on those who are serious about really wanting to consult the nation on this—and we have given the undertaking that we will accept the nation's decision when given, on condition that there is real consultation— those who want to put an end to this Government by deceit, Government by pretending that there is no problem, no crisis and no real issue at stake when fundamental questions are at stake, those who want to put an end to that both in the Opposition and among the dissidents, that they have an opportunity now to produce a major improvement in the national situation, to produce the general election we wish for by voting in support of this amendment and by refusing to give this totally inadequate and ill-conceived Bill a Second Reading.

I second the amendment.

The Deputy, if he wishes, may reserve his right to speak.

I should prefer, with your permission, to speak at this moment. I have relatively little to add to what Deputy Keating has said. It is a measure of the seriousness with which the Labour Party view this extraordinary Bill that they have utilised the provision of Standing Order No. 90, section 2, to oppose the Bill in this manner on Second Reading. This is a device which has not been adopted for very many years in this House and it demonstrates our total opposition to this measure.

This is not the time or place to discuss the issue of membership of the EEC as such, or the terms upon which the Government recommend entry. I hold strong views on these subjects. but it would be inappropriate to voice them in the context of this Bill. What the Labour Party specifically object to, more than anything else, is the provision made in the final sentence of this Bill. Nobody challenges the right of any Government to seek constitutional amendment although I would respectfully suggest to the Taoiseach that the record of lack of success by the Fianna Fáil Party in endeavouring to amend the Constitution is scarcely encouraging in this case. What we object to most specifically is the looseness of language in the last sentence. It reads:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State consequent on membership of the Communities or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof from having the force of law in this State.

I find this sentence absolutely shocking and outrageous. Sitting there with the text of the Bill before me and then the text of the Taoiseach's speech, I do not know which I found more extraordinary—the Bill or the almost frivolous manner in which the Taoiseach introduced it. To say in his first sentence:

Indeed, there cannot really be any disagreement on this since the Constitution requires a favourable vote of the people for any constitutional amendment.

—and then to go on to propose a Bill which effectively abrogates many sections of the Constitution without the necessity of recourse to the people, is a classic example of the manner in which the liberties of the citizens of this nation have been progressively eroded over the past few years.

The process of referendum to change a written, strict Constitution is one which is common to almost every democratic country of the western world. England is almost unique in the absence of a written Constitution. Some would argue that the long parliamentary tradition of that country renders such a Constitution unnecessary but it has been widely remarked by many people in England, in the context of this specific issue of membership of the EEC, that it is a very unhappy situation in that country where the passage of an Act of Parliament and subsequent consequent enabling Acts is sufficient, without a general election, to take so major a decision affecting the future of that country. How much more so in our case is it regrettable that this Bill should propose not merely a simple constitutional amendment, as could have been done under Article 46 of the Constitution, but rather the sort of covert, enabling measure which, in effect, gives a blank cheque to the Government of the day to ratify acts taken in the past by the States of the Community and implicitly acts taken very possibly in the future? I am open to correction on that point but I want reassurance on it. I do not think I will get it. As Deputy Keating said, you rarely get straight answers to straight questions in this House. I should like it made clear to me whether future amendments, for example, of the Treaty of Rome will be automatically applicable to this country irrespective of whether or not they clash with the Constitution.

I should like to say a word in praise of our Constitution. It has its defects. Some of them have been brought home forcibly to the Taoiseach by the Rev. Mr. Paisley and Mr. Desmond Boal in recent days and received to my mind the rather evasive and, if I may use an unpleasant expression, hypocritical rejoinder from the Taoiseach on "7 Days" the other night that amendments of that kind can be viewed in the context of unity. In other words, if the North joined us we would then consider whether we would amend our Constitution to render it a truly pluralist one and acceptable to the North. This is the sort of amendment which in some ways would be better occupying the attention of the Taoiseach and the Government than the kind of amendment he is placing before us here. I am not suggesting that such amendment should be taken in conjunction with this particular amendment. I, too, am grateful that at least the relatively straight question in the first Part of the Bill is being put to the people, that we are not this time having the lunatic attempts made in previous Constitutional amendments to tie this proposal in with a local election, a Presidential election, and, let us hope, we are not going to be asked to tie it in with a general election but, of course, the Taoiseach reserves that right and is quite capable of exercising it if the condition of his party is anything to go by.

Personally, I have serious doubts whether this Bill as it stands will, in fact, be deemed to be constitutional and I would hope that the Supreme Court in one of its last exercises in power before this thing goes through, if it does go through, will, in fact, challenge its constitutionality. I concur with Deputy Keating in the opinion that the President should be invited in here and I would remind the House that a late President, Dr. Douglas Hyde, on at least one occasion referred an Act of this Dáil to the courts for their considered judgment and I should hope the same would be done in this case.

The Constitution has been the guardian of our liberties for many years. In a celebrated case, in 1961, initiated by my colleague, Deputy John O'Donovan, an attempt by the Government, effectively speaking, to gerrymander the constituency boundaries even more than they normally do, and they do it enough, was foiled. The Government were defeated on that issue. That was an historic decision and an important one and is an example, given the standards in Government these tragic days, of how vital the Constitution is as a residual protection to our people.

To me, this Bill is part and parcel of the cynicism that has crept into political judgment and political values since May, 1970. Throughout that time it has been to me as a relatively young and new Member of the Dáil a progressively more depressing experience to witness the manner in which this House is bulldozed cynically by the use of a Parliamentary majority of an unstable, shaky and even, in some respects, dishonest kind. In an interview with The Sunday Press recently I used the phrase about this Dáil that it was the most debauched Dáil in the history of the State and I maintain that opinion without reservation. The things done in this Dáil since May, 1970, the shifts, equivocations and votes in this House have brought the whole practice of politics and the whole image of this entire Assembly into the greatest degree of disrepute. Unfortunately, although the architects of this calamitous change in the standard of the Dáil sit on those benches, to the public the entire image of politics and politicians is debased and degraded and this is a terrible guilt and responsibility on the Government and on the Taoiseach. This process of debasement is carried still further by this Bill. It is carried further in what is one of the most important pieces of legislation ever to be brought before the House if not in some respects the most important.

Much has been made of the influence that we would have in respect of the changes which might be consequent upon our membership of the European Economic Community in the future. Deputy FitzGerald has referred to our potential voting strength. Deputy FitzGerald is a Deputy I greatly admire and I am proud to acknowledge as a friend but I must say that in his starry-eyed attitude to the European Economic Community he demonstrates one of the least intelligent facets of his character in my view.

The Treaty of Rome is far from being a definitive document. It is subject to wide criticisms and it may, in fact, be amended. It may be amended to introduce direct elections, for example. This is certainly something which the Germans, in particular, are pressing for very greatly. It may be amended to introduce declarations in respect of social policy, something which I personally would welcome because the guarantees of social policy in our own Constitution, being the only part of the Constitution which are not enforcible under law, are really not worth the paper they are written on.

Recently I had the privilege of attending a conference of 100 Parliamentarians in Bonn with colleagues from both the other parties. I was struck very much by the emphasis which was laid on the potential of social policy but I was struck even more by the overpowering determination of the Germans in particular and to a less extent the French delegates, to press on regardless of the entry of four further States to major restructuring of the Community to provide for a much greater degree of political as opposed to economic unity. That is something that we have to recognise. This is to some extent a political community and potentially it is to a great extent a political community. As Dr. Halstein said some years ago, "We are not in business, we are in politics". What strength, what influence and what power to resist changes foreign to our country, to our standards, will we have in this situation if this Bill is passed? I respectfully suggest that we will have almost none at all. I was struck in Bonn and I am struck reading, for example, the present negotiations on fisheries by how exclusively the battles vital to this country are, in fact, being fought for us by the British. Dr. Johnson once wrote of fleas having other fleas upon them. It is a fact of political life that we are a flea on the back of Great Britain as far as influence in the Community is concerned.

Our existence was almost unacknowledged at that conference. The determination and the sophistication, particularly, as I say, of the Germans, was remarkable and impressive, their fluency, their command of a subject. We met the German Foreign Minister, Herr Scheel. It was noticeable that when questions in either French or English were asked he discarded the instantaneous translation service and replied fluently in either of these tongues. How many diplomats have we, how many Ministers, who would be competent to argue on the same intellectual terms with a person of that character?

Furthermore, one of the greatest stresses laid, by the German delegation, in particular, was on the principle of mobility of establishment and the principle of mobility of labour, mobility of establishment meaning, of course, the right of foreign industry to establish itself in a position of ownership on the terrain of another country; mobility of labour meaning ability of labour to emigrate in pursuit of capital rather than vice versa. I could not help remarking in my one contribution to this conference that in the hotel where we were staying there was an Italian barman with fluent German and I asked the question of Herr Scheel, does mobility of labour mean that in future the Irish will contribute to the supply of your barmen? In fact, the situation would be substantially worse than this since our education structure is so appalling they would not have the fluency to speak German and they would just provide the builders' labourers.

In this sort of fluid context, where the whole position of this country may be changed, to give to the Government the kind of blank cheque set out in the last section of this Bill is, in my view, an act of lunatic folly and I would appeal to the Fine Gael Party to support us on the principle of this unusual and almost unique amendment which we are putting here.

Reference has been made by Deputy Keating to the President. To him is due the credit for the Constitution that we have, a fine Constitution in many respects and one which resisted the pressures of the time, pressures which could have made it even more specifically Catholic than it is. But it resisted these pressures and resisted them honourably. If Éamon de Valera were now sitting in the seat at present occupied by the Taoiseach, I do not believe such a blanket and sweeping change in our sovereignty would be suggested to this House for its approval. The blanket nature of this specific sentence reflects to me more than ever before the patent change that has taken place in the complexion, outlook, standard and values of the once great party that was Fianna Fáil. It was not, perhaps, the socialist party I would have wished it to be, but it was always the republican party and a populous party, in the best sense of that term, to the extent that it rooted its will and its force upon the ordinary people, the small farmers and the workers. It was a party which was proud not to call itself a party, but to insist that it was a movement embodying national aspirations rather than a purely political party.

This party has changed progressively. The shift in emphasis towards the eastern seaboard, the shift in emphasis towards big business rather than towards the small farmer, the small man, the man of no property, has occurred openly and patently and the abject manner in which the Government now embrace EEC membership and sign this blank cheque to impose upon us any measures which have been or will be adopted by the Communities is a classic instance of how the Fianna Fáil Party is now the party of big business, which seeks to profit from entry to the Community, at the expense of our traditional ways of life and of the job location, employment, and social traditions of so many of our people.

Many years ago President de Valera made a speech in which he embodied his view of the future of Ireland, a speech which has been laughed at by a great many people; he spoke, in that speech, of people living in moderate comfort on small farms around the country, indulging in simple pastimes and enjoying the fruits of rural tradition. As I say, that speech was laughed at by some people, but it was an extremely moving evocation of President de Valera's view of the integrity, the independence and the uniqueness of this country. I wonder what he and those who stood around him when he made that speech must think of the abject way in which the people are being asked to underwrite in advance measures which abrogate the Constitution, the symbol of their independence, the crowning achievement of the set of constitutional rules produced by the Government of the then Deputy de Valera in the years between 1932 and 1937.

I do not wish to be personally offen-sive to the people who constitute this present much altered Government, but I must say that not merely would I object to a piece of legislation of this kind, enabling changes to be made, in effect, without recourse to the people, not merely would I object to this power being awarded to any government, but I have to confess I would specifically object to its being placed in the hands of the men who constitute this ram-shackle and derided Cabinet, which dictates our destinies for the moment.

I have very little more to say. The force of the argument put forward by Deputy Keating and by the Labour Party is so outstandingly plain to me that, on this vital issue, I really do not see how anyone, other than the most abject political cynic, could fail to agree with us and, agreeing with us, fail to support this proposed amendment. I consider the last sentence of this section a disgrace upon Parliament. If it is passed and subsequently endorsed by the people, the people who are at the moment being battered and brain-washed with pro-EEC propaganda produced at the expense of the taxpayer and circulated at the expense of the taxpayer—some of it arrived at my own door this morning—saying every-thing will be lovely in the EEC, if, by any chance, the people endorse the decision to go into the EEC, which they have a perfect right to do, if they endorse this extraordinarly ill-con-ceived and dangerous final sentence, then I believe historians may yet look back on the year, 1972, the year in which the referendum will be taken, as the year in which the process that Fianna Fáil progressively has adopted towards standards of public life, towards integrity and towards the prin-ciples of democracy, towards the rule of law and the rule of the Constitution, reached its apotheosis. Historians may yet see this year, 1972, as the year in which this process was finally completed and the words of Pearse, Connolly and other heroes embossed around these walls were successfully undone.

At the outset I want it to be clearly understood that we favour a referendum. We have consistently expressed the view that the people must decide the issue. Consequently, we approve the task of putting clearly before the electorate in simple language a single question as to whether or not this country adheres to the European Economic Community. In general, we are in favour of the aims and objectives of the European Economic Community. We have, of course, a number of reservations and we reserve the right to decide, in the light of the ultimate treaty of accession which is negotiated, whether or not we are satisfied with the terms of that treaty. Having made it clear that we are in favour of the right of the people to decide this issue, and in favour of the general objectives of the European Economic Community, I want to make it quite clear that the form of the proposed amendment before the Dáil is, in our view, far too wide and, as at present drafted, unacceptable to us.

We do not propose to oppose the Second Stage. We propose to move amendments on Committee Stage to limit the amendment in such fashion that it will specifically deal with the changes necessitated by the obligations of membership of the EEC.

As the Bill is drafted the operative part is the Schedule, which states:

3º The State may become a member of the European Coal and Steel Community (established by Treaty signed at Paris on the 18th day of April, 1951), the European Economic Community (established by Treaty signed at Rome on the 25th day of March, 1957) and the European Atomic Energy Community (established by Treaty signed at Rome on the 25th day of March, 1957). No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State consequent on membership ...

We regard the words, "consequent on membership" as unnecessarily wide and in fact dangerous. It is conceivable as can be shown by reference to a number of articles that the adoption of this amendment in its present form goes far beyond anything that is necessary and would in fact enable the European Commission and the European Community as a whole to make effective changes in our law here and our laws not necessitated by membership and of a consequential character that at present we are unaware of and for a number of reasons might not wish to adopt or implement.

At the Committee Stage we propose to table an amendment designed to limit the changes in the measures adopted by the State by rephrasing the schedule which would then read, "necessitated by the obligations of membership" and in line 11 to add the words "in pursuance of the above Treaties" after the words "or institutions thereof". In addition there are a number of other risks inherent in the proposed amendment because of the effect on articles in the Constitution that must be regarded as of importance to the nation.

I should also make it clear at this stage that this proposed amendment cannot be carried in the country without our support. Fianna Fáil have had the experience of two referenda recently in which they were defeated. So far as this amendment, or the amendment ultimately approved by the House in the subsequent stages of this Bill is concerned when the question is finally put to the people it can only succeed if this Party is behind it. That is a fact of political life which cannot be denied by anyone. It is recognised as important in this matter. This amendment and the decision to adhere to the EEC depends of course on the will of the people but in order to make the will of the people effective in this instance it depends on the attitude of this party. For that reason more than any other, it is important to have our co-operation, our good will and our assent to the proposed constitutional amendments.

There has been a great deal of talk recently about the Constitution. I am not one of those who imagine it is the heaven-sent document that some Fianna Fáil people in the past used to think it was. I remember a time when Fianna Fáil advocates of the Constitution were so enthusiastic that they thought it superseded the Ten Commandments. There is no doubt that situation has changed. The late Seán Lemass said there was far too much ballyhoo and nonsense about the Constitution. He set up a committee to investigate it but when the committee reported he and his colleagues dealt with only one thing and left the others.

There are a number of things in the Constitution which are good and as Deputy Keating rightly said most of them were taken from the 1922 Constitution which was drafted by constitutional experts under the chairmanship of Michael Collins. There are other things in the Constitution that are so imprecise that the Supreme Court has said they cannot be implemented. There are certain things in it which in the context of a united Ireland would prove difficult and everyone recognises they would have to be amended. Leaving all that aside there are certain fundamental things referred to in the Constitution which the people are anxious to maintain and which are not in dispute. As this amendment is at present drafted there is even a certain initial risk in the fact that it may not be constitutional. This is a possible interpretation of the wording of Article 46 which states:

Any provision of this Constitution may be amended, whether by way of variation, addition, or repeal, in the manner provided by this Article.

It appears that this proposed amendment purports to be partially a variation and partially an addition. It is a variation to the extent that the terms of the European Economic Community, the terms of the European Atomic Energy Community, which were established on the same day, and the terms of the European Coal and Steel Community which was established on 18th April, 1951, and signed in Paris become, if this amendment is passed, operative here.

There are inherent in this proposed amendment very grave dangers because of the fact that so wide a number of sections or articles of the Constitution would be set aside. It is right at this stage that we should be quite clear what the obligations are. It is a fact that there are at present no defence commitments involved in the Treaty of Rome. It is a fact that there are no military obligations involved in membership of the EEC but it is equally a fact that at different stages during discussions and meetings on the enlargement of the Community the question of possible defence matters arose. A reference was made to this in the White Paper entitled, "Membership of the European Communities, Implications for Ireland" laid before the Oireachtas in April, 1970. At page 7 it states:

Consequently, in order to avoid the Community's achievements being threatened by the effects of enlargement, the Commission urged the strengthening of the Community Institutions and also stressed "that the cohesion and the dynamism which are indispensable for the Community depend in part on the convergence of the national policies of the member States, in particular, but not exclusively, of their foreign and defence policies".

At an earlier stage in the discussions the Fouchet plan did involve the question of defence but that plan was not adopted. We would be less than frank if we did not recognise and admit that defence and foreign policy have at different times loomed on the horizon of further possible expansion and possible commitments involved in it. I mention that now for the reason that Article 28.3.1º states:

War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dáil Éireann.

An absolute assurance should be given to the House and the country that no military or defence commitments of any character are involved. It is not in the Rome Treaty—the fact that it was referred to is undoubtedly true—and it is not involved in either of the other treaties it is proposed to adopt if this amendment is passed. But because of the talk and propaganda and a good deal of ill-informed discussion, there is need to reassure the country that involved in this there is no commitment of any kind. I mention that because the second part of the proposals which we shall include in suggested amendments is to specifically mention particular Articles of the Constitution that in no way should be abridged or amended by the adoption of the Rome Treaty, the European Coal and Steel Community or the European Atomic Energy Community. The importance of naming and specifically excluding these Articles is to ensure that no changes subsequently will commit this country in any respect by reason of the fact that an amendment has been accepted or passed with such wide phraseology as this amendment. But there is probably an even more important section involved in Article 28.3º where it says:

Nothing in this Constitution shall be invoked to invalidate any law enacted by the Oireachtas which is expressed to be for the purpose of securing the public safety and the preservation of the State in time of war or armed rebellion or to nullify any act done or purporting to be done in time of war or armed rebellion in pursuance of any such law. In this sub-section "time of war" includes a time when there is taking place an armed conflict in which the State is not a participant but in respect of which each of the Houses of the Oireachtas shall have resolved that, arising out of such armed conflict, a national emergency exists affecting the vital interests of the State and "time of war or armed rebellion" includes such time after the termination of any war, or of any such armed conflict as aforesaid, or of an armed rebellion as may elapse until each of the Houses of the Oireachtas shall have resolved that the national emergency occasioned by such war, armed conflict, or armed rebellion has ceased to exist.

In addition to that on the question of defence there are the provisions in Article 15.6.1º and Article 15.6.2º which state:

The right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas.

No military or armed force, other than a military or armed force raised and maintained by the Oireachtas, shall be raised or maintained for any purpose whatsoever.

These articles can in no sense and should in no sense be abridged or put at risk by an amendment as wide as is proposed here.

There are also other articles dealing with fundamental rights and freedoms. I think it is correct to say that under Article 29—and I think this was referred to in some way by the Taoiseach in his introductory speech—it would be possible for this country without a referendum, without a constitutional amendment to adhere to the Coal and Steel Community, the Rome Treaty and the European Atomic Energy Community. This is the Article under which we have become members of numerous international bodies including the United Nations. The procedure laid down there could apply in these cases but a difficulty arises— and this among others is one of the reasons for the proposed referendum and amendment, leaving aside the crucial question of the people having the right to decide whether we go in or not. The fact is that because of the terms of the Rome Treaty, a number of its laws and directives and decisions in order to be implemented here would require either subsequent amendments of the Constitution or would require to be implemented in our own legislation which would involve consequential constitutional amendments. It is for that reason that this amendment seeks to be and must be adopted to give the terms of the Treaty the force of law in the State.

In so far as many international agreements to which we have become parties are concerned, they were signed and ratified in some cases and laid before the Dáil in most cases and in certain instances have to be the subject of a formal resolution because of a charge on public funds, but in all these cases the obligation to make constitutional amendments in order to adapt or modify our law to conform with and coincide with the precise terminology of the treaties or bodies in question does not arise. It does arise specifically because of the terms of the Rome Treaty.

In addition to the very serious questions involved in Article 28 and also Article 15 there are the Articles dealing with human rights. It is our view that there should be no abridgement of and no doubt about the position of the constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights or rights to personal freedom and so on that are included in a number of articles principally those beginning with Article 40 and going on to Article 44. It is not necessary to read all these now but they deal with a number of matters relating to personal rights and freedoms and in our view should in no sense be abridged or modified by the terms of this amendment if it is passed in its present wide form to allow the adoption and implementing of the Rome Treaty here.

I want to refer particularly to Article 43 and the question of private property because this is one of the matters that has given rise to some concern. There is no conflict either present or past in a political sense on the struggle that was made and implemented in our own time by a number of Lands Acts to secure determination and right of the people to have possession and maintain possession of their own land and property. A leaflet has been prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs which I think is an example of some of the characteristics of an inept approach by the Government in getting this whole matter considered by the people. This leaflet says: "Has the article in the Treaty for full right of establishment in agricultural land been implemented?" and the answer is: "No, a draft directive only giving full rights to non-nationals to buy land was submitted to the Council in January, 1969 and it is not possible at this stage to predict when this draft might be adopted."

It goes on to say what our law is, what progress was made and, finally it finishes up with a quotation from the Minister for Foreign Affairs in which he stated that the Government attached the utmost importance to this question of land purchase. He stated that he raised the matter at the outset of the negotiations and in the statement which he made at his first meeting with the Community in September of last year. The Minister said that he drew attention to Ireland's present controls on the purchase of land by non-nationals and explained that these controls were necessary. Finally, the Minister stated that in order to enable us to pursue policies to deal with such structural problems that exist it was proposed to pursue the matter at an appropriate stage of the negotiations.

There is no question that if the directive, as drafted, were implemented —and we must accept it as likely that it may be implemented—it would interfere with the right to private property guaranteed in Article 43. We should face these difficulties frankly. The worst thing for this country would be to adopt the terms of the European Community and their directives and accept them willy-nilly because the Community have adopted them. This is a matter which is causing concern here and it would be a mistake for us to adopt the directive without question.

We regard the proposed form of this amendment as being too wide. So many things could be implemented and become operative here because of the adoption of a wide amendment— things that are unnecessary and, because of the phraseology, are regarded as consequent on membership but, in fact, are not necessitated by the obligations of membership. These specific arguments with regard to fundamental rights and private property are matters that should be named in a subsequent extension of this amendment to make it clear that the proposed changes do not infringe on fundamental rights or the rights of this House and the country to deal with the security of the State, the raising of an Army or questions of defence or nutrality because of the terms of Article 28.3.1º.

The changes necessary in legislation with regard to taxation have been referred to several times and the Dáil at present is considering the introduction of VAT. It shows a lack of political skill to try to proceed with the introduction of this tax at a time when we expect the country to decide on the simple issue of whether we should join the EEC. The complications with regard to this tax, the difficulties for trade, and the time factor involved in trying to get this taxation in operation, are enormous. The turnover and wholesale tax systems are difficult enough but to sweep them aside and introduce VAT in the early months of next year is putting at risk and complicating the whole approach to entry into the EEC.

We regard the concept of a united Europe as desirable. We have had numerous debates on this and when the White Paper is introduced I pre-sume there will be a further debate on the matter. We need not go into it at length now except to state that a united Europe is a desirable aim. Membership of the EEC will give small countries the right to participate in decision-making, to share in a community of States. It will enable us to make our voice and influence heard and felt among the member States. Similarly, other small countries will be able to promote the welfare of the small nations. It will enable Ireland to get away from the almost total dependence on Britain.

I do not suggest that things will change overnight, that the going will be very easy. It will not be any easier than it has been on the British market. The position of Britain is crucial to our situation. If for any reason they did not become a member we would find great difficulty in getting into Europe because of our traditional trading links with Britain. However, we are going into the EEC with the other applicant countries in the belief and conviction that it affords us a chance to develop and play our part as members of a European Community as a European country with all that this involves and the prospects it offers for the future.

Some people have genuine fears about entry. Some of the fears have been drummed up by people who have a vested interest in opposing entry. Some of the opposition comes from people who are opposed to the concept of a united Europe, an opposition that originally developed because of the belief that it was one way to combat the spread of communism. It was believed it was one way of preventing Europe being overwhelmed by the domination of a Soviet communist system. Countries that were anxious to develop their economic and social wellbeing came together; they were inspired by the ideal by getting the people of Europe, with their ancient Christian civilisation, united to expand, develop and protect the things they regarded as of value.

This concept has developed and progressed since then. It would be wrong for anyone in this country to imagine that we will go into a Utopia overnight if we join the EEC. One of the most damaging aspects in a discussion of this matter is the over-enthusiastic European on the one hand and the people who cry out that it is an interference with sovereignty and that there is a risk of our being swept from our moorings because we are associated with the European movement. The people will make this decision. Our obligation, our duty, is to see that the facts are presented fairly, fully and frankly so that the people will recognise the advantages and be aware of the obligations. If there are limitations and difficulties we must not seek to minimise them.

I suppose it is true to say that it will not be the end of the world if, for any reason, we do not become a member of the European Economic Community. The important question of fisheries and epizootic diseases, and other matters of that sort, has yet to be resolved. There is also the very important question of ensuring that, in the transitional period, employment will be maintained, that there will be no diminution of employment and that the savings that will result from the changes in the agricultural price arrangements will be devoted to improving social welfare benefits. We must ensure that the weaker sections of the community will be compensated for the rise that will occur in the cost of living, and that the savings which will accrue in respect of agricultural subsidies will be devoted, and known to be devoted, to alleviating the problems of the weaker sections of the community, particularly pensioners.

Subject to these fundamental matters being properly decided and effectively dealt with, we believe it is right for us to go into the European Economic Community. We are absolutely convinced that the terms of this Bill are far too wide, that they are unnecessary and go beyond what is necessitated by the obligations of membership. In addition certain fundamental matters which have already been referred to should be clearly spelled out in the Constitutional amendment that will be put to the people, such as Article 28 and fundamental rights in respect of the commitment or possible commitment of this country in any arms conflict, or defence arrangement. These matters must be put beyond question. They must be specifically reserved and seen to be reserved in the proposed changes to be made in the Constitution.

Subject to these safeguards we believe it is in the national interest, and in the interest of the part this country has to play in Europe, to join this Community. On Committee Stage we propose to move amendments designed to resist the terms of this Bill to the phraseology to which I have referred. We propose to insert in line 9 after the word "State" the words "necessitated by the obligations of membership". I am giving the phraseology in broad terms because the precise wording may need to be revised after further examination. In line 11 after the word "thereof" we propose to insert the word "in pursuance of the above Treaty", so that there will be no consequential changes as there would be under the Bill as at present phrased and that we will make only the changes that are necessitated by the obligations of membership. We want to reserve the provisions that exist in Article 28, Article 15, and the articles dealing with fundamental rights in order to safeguard the provisions in the Constitution dealing with fundamental rights.

We believe it is desirable that an amendment should be made to the Constitution and we recommend to the people that they should accept it. I believe there will be a difficult task in getting it accepted by the country. Towards the end of his speech Deputy Keating said that, if the Labour Party amendment to refuse the Bill a Second Reading was supported by Fine Gael, those he described as dissidents and the Labour Party, it could result in a defeat for the Government. I yield to no man in this House or in the country in my desire to have a general election. If I had the choice I would have an election before anything else to get this Government out of office.


Hear, hear.

It has ever been the traditional approach of this Party that, on an issue of this type, we are concerned first with the nation, with the people's interest. Irrespective of what happens at an election, this issue must be decided by the people. We have consistently argued that whether or not Ireland should join the EEC was a matter for decision by the people. We want to put all the facts before them. We want the amendment to the Constitution limited to the necessary changes. We want safeguarded the fundamental rights of the nation and the fundamental rights of the individual.

We do not care whether the general election comes before or after the Referendum. The sooner the better, but there is no advantage in trying to confuse the issue by saying that a general election would prevent this question being put, or change it in some way or another. At some stage before or after the general election it must be put before the people. We accept that. We have consistently advocated the view that it should be complicated by nothing else such as, for example, the inept manner in which the Value Added Tax has been thrown into this and the inept manner in which this has been brought forward. The lack of effective, purposeful, meaningful consultation with the Opposition is another example of the political defects and political infirmities that now characterise the approach of the Government to many questions.

Because of its nature this constitutional amendment transcends political party differences or conflicts. The people will decide whether this country will or will not join. The whole matter has been handled ineptly taking into consideration the excessively wide terms of the Bill. It has been handled ineptly by the introduction at this stage of the Value Added Tax. We had another example yesterday. We advocated an all-party committee over two years ago to deal with the North and it was rejected until a week or two ago. Because the Leader of the British Opposition suggested in the British House of Commons that this should be done, and because it was accepted over there, the Government changed their front and said that circumstances had changed. That is the wrong way to do it. If there is a wrong way to approach this matter the Government appear to have taken that wrong way.

We are prepared to co-operate. This constitutional amendment cannot be made without our goodwill and support. It depends on the will of the people, upon their decision. Without the active support, goodwill and co-operation of this party and our organisation in the country, it has not got a snowball's chance in Hell. We will offer reasonable, constructive, valuable amendments. We will put them down on Committee Stage. We regard them as absolutely essential. In the conviction that they are in the national interest we recommend them to the House. We will recommend the Bill, as amended, to the people for their endorsement. We believe that because of our long traditions with Europe the Irish people want to play a constructive part in preserving Christian values and Christian belief, and also in preserving the cultural heritage that has characterised Europe, and Ireland as a part of Europe, for centuries.

I will yield to a Government speaker if they can find one.

The Deputy has always got a twist. We do not have to be directed by Deputy Desmond as to what speakers we will put in. We will decide in our own time.

I was making the point——

The Deputy is making the point for his own political good.

——that there have been three Opposition speakers. The Parliamentary Secretary should not lose his cool.

The Deputy is not even remotely interested.

Deputy Desmond.

I believe there is general agreement among all parties that Constitutional amendments should be clear and unambiguous but I accept that such is our Constitution that this would be a difficult exercise. I do not know how many versions of proposed amendments the Government have had. Obviously, there have been a number for consideration at Cabinet level but finally, they have agreed on the particular form of amendment circulated now. Our Constitution is an extensive one which contains more than 50 Articles. It is a Constitution which in many respects is so detailed that only specialists in Constitutional law can claim to have first-hand knowledge of it. Most Members of this House would not be so presumptuous as to assert any such knowledge. However, it is our contention that the people should know what exactly they are doing when they are asked to amend that Constitution. On that fundamental principle I submit it is unlikely that if the Constitutional amendment is put to the people in its present form, it would be understood precisely by them and I say that with great respect to the electorate.

In 1968 when the Government attempted to incorporate two questions into one Constitutional amendment, there was considerable opposition. The House will recall the attempt to combine the issues of electoral areas and PR. So great was the opposition that the Government were obliged to drop their proposal. It is a matter of serious disappointment to the Labour Party and, as we know now from Deputy Cosgrave's speech, to Fine Gael also, that the Taoiseach's statement should have been so inadequate and so lacking in depth in spelling out the precise implications of this issue particularly in relation to the four sections of the Constitution to which he referred. Because of the manner in which the implications of the Bill have been glossed over, nobody could say that the matter has been given more than scant treatment by the Taoiseach this morning. His treatment of the Bill is not to be accepted by the House.

If the amendment were to be adopted, it could have the effect of altering several distinct Articles of the Constitution while the people would not be aware of what these Articles are. This is the issue in the Bill. In effect the electorate are being asked to sign what can be described only as a Constitutional blank cheque. The character of the proposed amendment is open to question in that it is contrary to the expressed intentions of the Constitutional provisions governing amendments and the Constitutional means by which we go about this process. The Taoiseach owes us an explanation in relation to Article 46 which says that:

Any provision of this Constitution may be amended, whether by way of variation, addition or repeal, in the manner provided by this Article.

The question we are asking is whether Constitutional amendments will be in the form of amendments to specific Articles or whether they will be, as the Government propose, in the form of a global insertion, in the form of an unlimited provision and in the form of a sweeping second clause which amends several different Articles of the Constitution simultaneously even though these are not stated specifically within the Bill. The Government must be asked, too, to what extent they are happy with the way in which this Bill is being introduced. No doubt we will have the classical Fianna Fáil reaction to these questions—no contribution and no explanation and the Taoiseach will wind up and complain that he has not enough time to deal with them or that he did not understand something or other, with the result that we shall be as wise as we were before in terms of the Government's intention in this matter. We are aware that there has been a great amount of Cabinet discussion on the proposals but we know, also, that there has not been unanimity within the Cabinet on the Bill, a Bill that one might say has been the source of heartbreaking interpretions by the Parliamentary draftsman and the Attorney General's office. Admittedly, many of the courses open to the Government have had their specific advantages and disadvantages discussed but in a matter with such profound long term effects on the whole future of this country, the issues must be put clearly before the people. I do not think the Government have anything to lose by such exercise.

Neither do I think that the Opposition, in particular the Labour Party, are so perverse, so negative or so obscurantist in our thinking that we would not be prepared to consider the whole problem as faced by the Government in adapting an Irish Constitution to the requirements of the Treaties.

I hope that the choice will be between the Constitution and Senator Mary Robinson and not between Christ and Mary Robinson as was suggested rather offensively in one of last Sunday's papers, the Senator who has pointed out that the proposed amendment is extremely specific in its first part and unacceptably broad in its second part and that the permissive section is related specifically to the Communities established by the Treaties of Paris and Rome. This implies that a further Constitutional change would be required if, in the future, the Community were to adopt a new Treaty basis for the furtherance of their political aims or of economic union.

In the final part of his short statement the Taoiseach said:

It is not the Government's intention nor is the proposed Constitutional amendment designed to cover any possible incompatibility with the present Constitution which might arise as a result of obligations which it might be necessary to assume if we wished to become a member of any political community in Europe which may eventually be created and evolving from the present Communities.

Fair enough. It is desirable that there should be provision for a clear basis for a political platform upon which a future Irish Government could make a stand if any negotiations for political development of the community were to evolve. Thus acceptance of the new situation, for example, the extending of the powers of the European Parliament or the transference of some powers in respect of monetary policy, would depend on the approval of the Irish people in a referendum. This would be entirely proper.

However, it is important that there should be clarification of the position in regard to future amendents, or, indeed, the complete re-writing of the Irish Constitution. Many sections of our Constitution do need urgent amendment—votes at 18, the special position of the Catholic Church, realignment in relation to political unity in the country as a whole. We are in need of a new Constitution. Is it the case that the Constitution may, after accession to the Communities, only be amended in accordance with the Treaties themselves? Would it be necessary to have amendments of our own Constitution approved by the Court of Justice in Luxembourg or even by the executive institutions in Brussels? This has not been answered to my satisfaction. It is of particular importance to the Labour Party since there will probably be Labour amendments to the Constitution in respect of civil and socio-economic matters and these could involve a degree of conflict with the apparent spirit or tone of the Treaties. Any alteration, for example, of the constitutional position in relation to private property, in relation to land tenure, in relation to national and economic policy, could be a source of considerable conflict with the Treaty of Rome. The question, therefore, arises of defining to the satisfaction of the Irish people the future procedures for constitutional reform in this country. That question should now be faced in this debate. As far as we are concerned, it cannot be accepted that a major alteration on a constitutional basis should go through without such implications being thoroughly and honestly explored by Dáil Éireann.

If this amendment is accepted, does the Constitution remain the full property of the Irish people and, if not, to what extent is their right to retain the Constitution diminished? That question has not been answered in the mealy-mouthed contribution by the Taoiseach this morning. I do not know what got into him, whether it was sheer lethargy, but the implications are not spelled out and obviously the Government do not intend to throw any other speakers into this debate in the hope of having a comfortable passing through of Second Stage.

There is another point which has not been referred to by the Taoiseach. It is that accession may involve some element of change in respect of the Northern Ireland position. This question must be faced by our people. While I personally do not believe that the Treaties contain any definition of the territorial boundaries of member States as such, it is still desirable that the Government should make the position in this respect absolutely clear. As things stand, I am not aware that membership of the Communities imposes any restrictions, in law, on the member States on territorial claims that may be made. Federal Germany has recently made concessions in respect of these claims. This issue involves non-member States such as Poland. This is an area where we would need to be very careful. We should not walk into constitutional changes without putting before the people the clear implications of this Bill in regard to our relations with Northern Ireland. The assurance that Irish people seek should have been contained in the Taoiseach's speech.

Another important issue which arises from the text of the Bill is that related to the words "consequent on membership of the Communities". I share the misgivings of Deputies Keating and Cosgrave in this regard. Unfortunately, and to my personal shame, I cannot presume to interpret, as I would wish to, the Irish language text of the Bill but, with my limited competence, I would interpret it as: "arising from membership of the Communities". The Taoiseach might comment on the compatibility of the Irish and English texts.

Who is to decide that a law, an act or a measure is being enacted, done or adopted consequent on membership of the Communities? Is it the Oireachtas? Is it the Government? That is absolutely unacceptable and fraught with serious danger? Is it the Supreme Court? This is what we should require. This should not be allowed to slip away by default in this debate. Is it the Brussels authorities who will decide? This may tend to be the case due to the fact that so many regulations, directives, decisions and opinions on a multitude of issues emanate directly from Brussels and will provide a major framework, usually legitimate, I think, in the future for Government action here. Yet, I do not think we can allow this occasion to pass without voicing our serious misgivings about the lack of democratic control within the EEC system. This is entirely germane to the Bill itself. It is all very well saying that we will accept the terms consequent on membership of the Communities and accept the decisions arising therefrom but there is considerable evidence of a lack of democratic control within the EEC legislative system itself.

It must be stressed that many of the complexities in the Brussels decision-making process are not fully grasped as yet by the Government or by the public service and they are almost totally unknown to the Members of this House. To a considerable extent Members of the House do not give a damn and even if they did many of them would not use their imagination to try to understand the problems. That is a legitimate criticism bearing in mind that the Taoiseach this morning had three or four Deputies sitting next to him. That showed the concern of that party about a Bill about a Constitution which has divided this country, divided families, caused political uproar, which was the major subject in election campaigns, a Constitution which has been held as sacrosanct by the Fianna Fáil Party. Here we are this morning in such a casual manner debating the matter on such a casual introduction by the Taoiseach.

I would ask, are the Government satisfied that there are enough civil servants who have first-hand contact with the processes in Brussels and with the thinking of the Eurocrats to the degree that they would accept the full implications of the section of the Bill which says that no provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State in consequence of membership of the Communities? Perhaps the Attorney General is happy enough; he knows what the implications are; but I do not think our Government are fully conscious of the import of that section.

The Bill inevitably raises problems associated with the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. We in the Labour Party are entitled to demand that the Government make a clear and specific statement about the role of this body in relation to the Irish judicial and legal system. We might even ask at what point in various types of situation is the focus directly on Luxembourg. What are the powers of that court in Luxembourg? What sanctions does it possess? Most important, what has been done, what has been its record in practice to date? I get the impression that there is total and absymal ignorance in the Cabinet as to even what the court in Luxembourg is about. This is the reason why the Labour Party legitimately express concern. We say: let us have a referendum but let us have it on the basis that the Irish people will be fully and completely aware of all the implications.

Another point that requires to be made is that the effect of removing the constitutional sanction from a whole broad area of possible future Irish legislation is rather dangerous and must give rise to genuine misgivings. By this development the whole environment of legislative thought will be changed and the values and priorities and safeguards which we now regard as important in the Irish legislative and judicial system may be removed. We are entitled as a political party to demand more explicit statements and assurances from the Government in order that those legitimate fears may be allayed.

While it is desirable at an early stage to exhibit flexibility and open-mindedness towards an entirely new situation, I do not think we can accept so fundamental a change being brought about without the fullest explanation being offered. I would, therefore, suggest that there is need for elaboration. There is need for a paper of White Paper status to explain in depth the issues of constitutional importance in connection with this Bill. If this were done honestly and openly and issued to every household, it would not be too bad an idea. As least it would assume that the electorate had the right to know and to be given information. I do not have in mind the dreadful documents on which we have spent £2,500 so far or those issued on Ireland, agriculture, the land, on industry, on employment, the Common Market. I have enough respect for the Department of Foreign Affairs to think that it is capable of something better than these. If we want to spend £34,000, let us get value for money. This Bill will be the key to the referendum and there should be a special document of White Paper status to explain the problems.

If in the future Irish Governments draw up laws ignoring the spirit and letter of our own Constitution simply because they can find some tenuous basis in the Community regulations which permit of a "consequent on membership" interpretation, apart from a Government being defeated in the ballot box, where will sanctions lie?

Deputy Ryan has raised matters of this consequence. He raised them over 18 months ago. On 16th June, 1970, the Minister was asked by Deputy Ryan whether any Member States of the Communities had made amendments to their Constitutions to make them conform with the Treaties and in the autumn of that year I asked a similar question. The Minister replied to Deputy Ryan as follows—Volume 247, column 1082 of the Official Report—

This is a complex subject which cannot be readily answered within the context of a Parliamentary question. Our information is that Luxembourg and the Netherlands amended their Constitutions for the purpose of EEC membership. The Belgian State approved a proposal for an Article amending the Constitution for this purpose as recently as last month—May, 1970. In the case of France and the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy an amendment does not appear to have been considered necessary.

In reply to the question I asked in the autumn, the Minister pointed out that the Belgian amendment had been promulgated but that the position of the other States remained the same as at 16th June.

That brings us to the question: to what extent are the Government railroading themselves, to what extent are they bending over backwards, to what extent are they indulging in indecent haste in their anxiety to have such a sweeping amendment adopted by this House?

The White Paper issued in 1970 on the implications of EEC membership clearly envisaged that at least four distinct Articles of the Constitution would require amendment if the State were to assume the obligations of EEC membership. The Government may well think that such procedure, which is the only correct constitutional procedure, would cause political difficulties. The people might very well baulk at amending several different Articles of the Constitution for the purpose of undertaking the obligations of the European Economic Community. The people might also find the situation very confusing. The simplistic approach of the Taoiseach just will not do. This approach actually tends to make confusion worse confounded. The Fine Gael amendments will, no doubt, seek to remedy all the defects there are in this. The Government are seeking to avoid proper procedure here and I think they recognise themselves that it is a blanket amendment that is now proposed. Opposition Parties have the right to oppose this course and I hope to see a situation evolve, if the Government refuse to accept legitimate and proper amendments to this Bill, in which the Opposition Parties will combine and say: "No, we will not have it put to the people in this dishonest fashion. We want a proper referendum. The people have the right finally to decide." The political parties here have pledged themselves to accept the decision of the people. There is no other option in a democracy.

This Bill is not acceptable in its present form. If it were to be accepted as it stands, it would effectively bring Ireland under the rule of a new constitution, namely, under the laws enacted by the Communities at any time in the future. We would finish up with a new constitution. This should be clearly stated by the Taoiseach because it is the overriding impact of the Taoiseach's statement this morning. We have been told that, if contradictions were to occur, the provisions of the Third Amendment would have precedence. This is the exact contradiction with which we are faced. Deputy Cosgrave pointed out that, under Article 15, the sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is vested in the Oireachtas and no other legislature has power to make laws for the State. Yet, this Third Amendment says that laws enacted and measures adopted shall have the force of law within the State itself. That is the kind of blank cheque to which we legitimately object and to which we are opposed. We will oppose it if for no other reason than that the Government have been peculiarly vague about the whole thing.

The question of sovereignty has been raised. Under this Third Amendment we would effectively abandon our sovereignty directly to the Communities and to their institutions. This should have been stated by the Taoiseach. The Government should have faced the issue honestly. None of the Community institutions which would have these powers is at present elected. This should be emphasised. Neither will they be collectively responsible as our Government is collectively responsible to the Dáil and to the Irish people who elect them. Sovereignty in a number of areas, areas the Taoiseach has not stated, will be surrendered to the Commission and to the institutions of the Community. Sovereignty envisages our own Legislature as the only body with the right and authority to make laws binding on our citizens. That is clearly stated in Article 15. The implications of the annulment of that Article should have been as clearly stated by the Taoiseach this morning.

Again, any international treaty involving a charge on public funds must be approved by the Oireachtas. That is clearly laid down in Article 29. It has been quite falsely argued that we limit the sovereignty of the country whenever we sign treaties with other countries or with the UN. Fianna Fáil spokesmen have said that joining the Community is no different. The fact is we can leave the United Nations at any time. In regard to other treaties, such as the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement, we agree voluntarily to limit our freedom of action, but we do not surrender it, and we can always resume it by abrogating the treaty in question. The surrender of sovereignty here is uniquely different from that voluntary limitation of independence entailed in signing treaties with other countries. This should have been clearly pointed out by the Taoiseach. In a normal treaty, freedom of action is renounced to a limited extent and that is clearly set out and recognised. The Taoiseach should have stated that there is no provision in the Treaty of Rome whereby member States may leave and that the Treaty is concluded, as indicated in the documents, for an indefinite period. I notice that many countries have understandably and rightly hedged on that particular point.

If the Third Amendment is adopted the Oireachtas which up till now has been the supreme law-making body in the country and is directly responsible to the electorate will be handing over to the EEC and its institutions the power to legislate in future in ways which will not even be known at the time of adoption. Such a surrender of sovereignty has to be guarded against and has to be legitimately circumscribed within such a Bill. One may point out to those who speak so passionately and so frequently about the Proclamation—the statements come more frequently from the Fianna Fáil benches than from anywhere else— that the indefeasible rights of that Proclamation cannot be forfeited or given away without full debate on the implications of the Bill. This has not been faced up to by the Taoiseach.

The Government should examine how other countries have approached the problem in relation to their constitutions. We are joining a community of Six and the way they have changed their constitutions is of major concern to us. The Treaties establishing the Communities were not mere arrangements for international collaboration, they involve provisions for the integration of economic, social and political life of the member States and as such they involve some surrender of sovereignty. It should be pointed out that the Treaties have caused a blurring of the normally definable lines between a nation's internal and external affairs. This has become apparent during the course of the negotiations. Many of the EEC regulations have been circumvented or deliberately avoided in order to avoid a confrontation between the constitutions of the nations and the Treaties themselves.

A well-known authority called Wall recently commented in relation to Belgium that the possibility of disapproval may be deemed an important safeguard of basic freedom in Belgium, though from the Community point of view it would seem to be potentially a drag on the harmonious application in all member States of Community law. He went on to say that though the Community Treaties indicate, either directly or by implication, an intention that Community law should be treated as paramount over the ordinary law in each member State, they contain no express provision to that effect.

A number of important points arise out of the statements contained in the Treaty. It must be determined whether Community law takes precedence not only over internal law as it stands at the moment but whether it does so in such a way that no subsequent internal law can have any effect contrary to the Community law itself. There appear to have been considerable misgivings in Belgium in relation to the application of the Treaties, vis-à-vis the longstanding written Constitution of that country.

The same could be said to exist generally in France, Article 3 of the 1958 Constitution states:

National sovereignty belongs to the people ... no section of the people, nor any individual, may attribute to themselves or himself the exercise thereof ....

Article 55 states:

Treaties or agreements duly ratified or approved shall, upon their publication, have an authority superior to that of ordinary legislation subject, for each agreement or treaty, to its application by the other party.

In France subsequent Community legislation is adopted and accepted into the domestic system through the use of special provisions vested directly in the President or the Prime Minister. From an examination of Wall's work it can be said that the French have not let the reins go too much. Our basic objection to the Third Amendment is that it proposes to let the reins go under our Constitution to an excessive degree. There are sufficient instances in Italy and Germany, which have been well documented, to show that these Governments have jealously and carefully questioned the degree to which Community laws, regulations and directives have in practice a total impact on their own states. Substantial amendments to this Bill would leave us in a more normal and a more conventional European position.

There emerges a picture of a very uncertain attempt at building up a single constitutional and legal system within the Community such as seems to be presupposed by the Taoiseach this morning. It has not proved possible to arrive at a single approach to the nationalisation, one might say, of Community laws because six separate historic constitutions exist and each is regarded by the State as a vital element of their nationality. We should not try and run helter skelter into that structure. The Third Amendment is unacceptable to the Labour Party because of its lack of definition and so on and a very vigorous attempt will be made by the Labour Party and I suppose by the Fine Gael Party also to amend it.

It will be very interesting to see the reaction when the true implications of this Bill begin to dawn on the Fianna Fáil Party. After all, this was what was hawked around the country by a former leader of the party and by every true blue Republican. It will be very interesting to hear the views of Deputy Haughey and of Deputy Sherwin and to see whether they will vote to accept or reject this Bill. It would also be interesting to hear Deputy Blaney's views. He has given frank and blunt expression to views on a whole range of matters and particularly in regard to the Constitution. These are the men who have made the Constitution their private property in recent years and put their own interpretations on it in regard to Northern Ireland. Therefore, they should come here and give us their opinion on the joining of this country to EEC. I should honestly hope that on the Committee Stage, if the Taoiseach has the nerve to stand up to it— I seriously doubt that now; I think he has become punch drunk in regard to legislation going through the House— we could have a hard, grafting session on the proposals in this Bill and a frank and open exchange of views.

Even the Irish Press is very unhappy about the situation. The Labour Party have been very critical of that paper in recent months in regard to some of its editorial policies and somersaults in relation to Northern Ireland but I think it is to the credit of the Irish Press—and I strongly commend it— that on the 25th or 26th November its editorial was hypercritical of the muddle which appeared to be emerging on this Bill. It was open in its hostility to the Bill. When that happens there is serious cause for second thoughts by the Government on the Bill. For example, it was suggested that there might be sideways consultation with the Supreme Court on a judicial basis. I think the views of the Chief Justice, Mr. Ó Dálaigh, and other eminent members of the profession on the appropriateness of the drafting of this Bill would be welcome. We are supposed to live in an open political democracy and the views of the Supreme Court, in view of the fact that we cannot refer it to them directly, would certainly be welcome.

The Bill as circulated is inadequate and an example, as Deputy Corish rightly said last night, of questionable draftsmanship, sweeping draftsmanship. The suspicions we had of it and the reservations we publicly expressed this morning have been reinforced by the non-case put up by the Taoiseach in advocating its acceptance by the House. As Deputy Cosgrave rightly pointed out, it is desirable that there should be some entrenched provision regarding fundamental human rights and their protection and retention within the Constitution. The dilemma is apparent in member States, such as Germany, in authorising the transfer of sovereign power to international institutions and it is uncertain, I think, whether her citizens' constitutional rights are directly affected. While our submission as a member, to the court of the Community and its regulations, would extend over the economic sector, it is conceded by the majority of eminent modern political theorists, such as Hallstein, that economic matters may all too readily merge into the direct sphere of politics. I think therefore that as of now while defence, foreign policy, education, internal security and culture are left intact from Treaty obligations, many areas which could directly involve the rights of citizens could become seriously infringed.

Since the entire area covered by this global phrase "consequent on membership" would be entirely removed from the constitutional system of checks and balances that we now have and since EEC organs could make decisions which would add to or take from or amend constitutional rights without parliamentary ratification, it is essential there should be a formal amendment devised which would protect fundamental rights bearing in mind our relatively low international standing in this regard and also the ultimate lack of sanctions of such international bodies as the Convention and Court of Human Rights and that we would, therefore, be obliged as a nation to have full recourse to our own Constitution to provide effective protection of individual citizen's rights.

The Government have opted for the piecemeal approach and a general suspension of the Constitution. I do not think this is good enough. We have rightly indicated our opposition to this approach and we have welcomed the indication from Fine Gael that they intend to table amendments. We shall make up our minds on these when we see them. They have not yet been circulated. Meanwhile, the Labour Party could not in conscience or political honesty accept that the Bill as introduced is adequate and meets the aspirations of the Irish people and provides essential safeguards within our Constitution which the House has a duty to provide.

This debate is proceeding in a spirit of reality which conflicts with the unreality of the situation that occurred in 1937 when the original Constitution Bill was being discussed.

Article 25.4.6º provides as follows:

In case of conflict between the texts of a law enrolled under this section in both the official languages, the text in the national language shall prevail.

The national language is defined in the Constitution as the Irish language. We have had discussions this morning, and there have been discussions in the mass media in the last few days, about the significance of the words in the English text "in consequence of". It is thought by many people that they are too wide. I believe that the words are careless and sloppy and do not provide the degree of certainty which is a fundamental requisite of a fundamental law such as the Constitution. If we go to the Irish text—which is the one that takes precedence under our Constitution—we find that the words used are:

... gníomhartha do rinne nó bearta le n-ar ghlac an Stát de dhroim do bheith ina chomhalta de na Comhphobail ...

The meaning of "de dhroim" is not "in consequence of" but "because of", which one can say is tighter than the phraseology "in consequence of". The words "because of" involve that element of necessity, of unavoidable consequence, of obligation arising out of membership, which does not arise in the English text. I do not think that there are people in Brussels who have sufficient expertise in the Irish language to know that the Irish text is one which is nearer what Fine Gael will be proposing for the English text of this Constitution Amendment Bill.

The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, like practically everything else the present Government have done, is a case of the wrong way being used to do the right thing. If there are two ways of doing anything, the Government invariably choose the wrong one. Fine Gael support the application of Ireland for membership of the EEC, believing it is in Ireland's best interest. We believe it is the best way to achieve a worthwhile nation in cultural values, in intellectual and moral disciplines and in material benefits. We are very annoyed that the Government have introduced such a sloppy, vague and confusing measure to achieve what we regard as a desirable objective, namely membership of the EEC.

The Constitution of 1937 is being attacked from all quarters now. It is interesting to note that it is not often defended by the party which imposed it on the Irish people in 1937 for partisan purposes. It is worthwhile reflecting that as we are involved now in a passionate debate to preserve certain sections of the Constitution, only 26 per cent of the Irish people voted in 1937 for the Constitution; 20 per cent voted against it; 32 per cent of the people of Ireland were unable to vote for it because they were outside the jurisdiction of the State; and the balance of the people did not think it worth while voting on it. This fundamental law of our nation, which should be respected by all as being valuable and unchangeable and the instrument to govern our mode of behaviour received the support of only 26 per cent of the electorate. It has achieved a certain degree of respectability and acceptance during the years which it did not have in 1937 but in some respects it is a miserable and mischievous Constitution.

Our Constitution has been described by Mr. Patrick McGilligan, a former Minister and Attorney General, a Professor of Law and one of our most distinguished statesmen since we achieved freedom, as an instrument which was full of wind and sail and no anchor. That was an accurate description because when we come to the sections of the Constitution that are presumed to guarantee fundamental rights, the moment the guarantee is offered it is snatched back by reservations that the fundamental rights may be qualified by law. It is full of what a distinguished member of the High Court described as "lilies of speech, the meaning and application of which can vary from generation to generation".

With all these inadequacies and limitations, to some extent it has served a useful purpose in limiting the power of the Executive in interfering with the fundamental rights of people. It is worthwhile observing that where the courts have rapped the knuckles of Governments for offending against the Constitution, it was the knuckles of Fianna Fáil Governments that were rapped. These Governments told the Dáil and Seanad that the proposals they were making were legitimate and acceptable and were being offered on the advice of their Attorneys General. I suspect we will be asked to accept this Bill without modification because the Government have received what is presumed to be the best legal advice— the advice of the Attorney General— and we will be told that it is the only form which will be acceptable to the European institutions and that it achieves the objectives of the institutions without interfering with the fundamental rights of our people.

What is proposed in this Bill is to repeal the Constitution in all respects in the entire 45 Articles in respect of anything which may be done "in consequence of membership of the Community". That is a repeal of the Constitution in relation to all matters which come within the ambit of the Treaty of Rome and the treaties governing the other Communities and their ultimate development towards political union as well as economic union. If the political developments come, they will be in consequence of those treaties, in consequence of membership and, therefore, in effect we are asking the people to repeal the Constitution and do away with whatever safeguards there may be.

Debate adjourned.