Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Northern Ireland Situation.

1.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he intends to bring the question of Northern Ireland before the Security Council of the United Nations in the foreseeable future; and, if not, why.

2.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will comment on his recent meeting in Brussels with the Foreign Ministers of Denmark, Norway and Luxembourg; and if he will indicate what was discussed.

3.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of any discreet and informal pressures being brought to bear on Britain to change its policy in Northern Ireland; and if he would welcome such pressures.

4.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will indicate whether this country's ambassadors abroad inform foreign Governments on a regular basis of the views of the Irish Government with regard to Northern Ireland; and if he will state how often these briefings take place.

5.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has considered asking the United States Government to try to influence the British Government in an informal and unofficial manner, with regard to the establishment of talks on Northern Ireland; and, if not, why.

6.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of the statement made by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs to the effect that no suggestions regarding any useful role the United States might afford with regard to using its good offices in connection with the Northern Ireland problem were forthcoming from the Irish Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

7.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he had any recent discussions with the United States State Department relevant to any testimony given before the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Northern Ireland; and if he will indicate the nature of any such discussions.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 together.

I have made known the Government's views about the Northern Ireland situation to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to my colleagues in the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg and Norway, as well as to a number of US Senators and Congressmen. In each case I urged that the British Government be encouraged to seek a political rather than a military solution to the problem.

I was much heartened by the sympathetic reaction I received generally. My action is supplemented by our ambassadors abroad who keep in touch with their Governments of accredition on a regular basis.

I wonder, Sir, could we be allowed to ask a number of supplementary questions at this point? The Minister has taken seven questions together and his reply has not been very comprehensive. I asked the Minister if he brought the matter to the attention of the UN Security Council or has he exhausted all aspects of the UN in an attempt to bring this question to them? Has he seen the suggestion made that Ireland should engage the services of an international constitutional lawyer to investigate this, particularly having regard to the success of this method in the Algerian problem?

I explained to the House either last week or the week before that the decision taken by the Government was to approach other Governments which are friendly to Britain and to ask those Governments to encourage Britain to stop military solutions in the North of Ireland. We have no reason to believe that this has not been a success and until we have evidence of the need for a new policy line we would not make another decision. The questions asked by the Deputy about what we would or would not do would be in conflict with allowing this policy to implement itself. We do not exclude new decisions, but we have not taken other decisions yet.

I have here a transcript of a statement made by the US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. He said that the Minister told the US Secretary, Mr. Rodgers, that he was not requesting US intervention in the Northern Ireland situation. Is that correct?

It is quite clear that we asked the US Government and other Governments to speak to Britain and to encourage Britain to seek a political rather than a military solution in the North.

This document states that the Minister did not——

We cannot have an argument on this.

From page 2 of this document it is clear that the Minister did not request——

The word "intervention" in the circumstances was in response to a call for intervention by people in the US and "intervention" implies the American Government getting into the situation in a manner which would be resented and rejected by Britain, and it was made quite clear that America did not intend to get involved in that way. What we asked was not to intervene in a hostile way but as a friendly nation to Britain to encourage Britain and to ask Britain to change from a military policy. Not using the word "intervention" might give the impression we did not ask for action by the US. We certainly did.

Did the US Government assure the Minister that they would take such action?

Deputy O'Connell has it in one of his questions. He used the word "discreet". The very essence of the mission was to ask Governments to do this. Some Governments expressed immediate opinions to me but I do not think it would be discreet or proper to state these publicly. As a Government, we asked them to do this and we are awaiting the result of that.

Is it not true that the American Secretary of State said that as far as his Government were concerned they intended to remain neutral?

It is quite true that in a public statement he said they would not take sides unless requested to do so by the British Government and us. Therefore the technicality of the word "intervention" does not arise.

So the Minister's representation was rejected by the American Government.

I have reason to believe it was not.

According to the Minister's statement now, Mr. Rodgers was telling a public lie. We must have it one way or the other. The Minister was sent home like a little boy by the Americans.

Is the Minister aware of the appalling feeling in this country as he traipsed around the world that he had not done his homework, that he had made no preparations for this jaunt and that neither had the Government?

As the Deputy is aware, there was no way of preparing for the catastrophe that took place. I went immediately and did a job on behalf of the Government and I think I did it very well.

That is not the feeling in the country.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I intend to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

My reply will be as unsatisfactory on the Adjournment.

I have some more supplementaries.

The Deputy may not have more supplementaries. He will not monopolise Question Time.

I had seven questions——

That does not permit the Deputy to monopolise Question Time.