I propose, a Cheann Comhairle, with your permission, to take Questions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together.
My attention has been drawn to the reports mentioned. Advice about public reaction in Ireland to contraception was not supplied by a university department in Scotland to the Government. The facts underlying the reports are as follows. I learned that the Economic and Social Research Institute carried out last year a survey of family patterns in Ireland as part of a research project by a Scottish university department, and that a questionnaire issued in the course of it to a large random sample of married women included questions as to their views on (a) whether the Government should repeal the ban on contraceptives and (b) to what extent contraceptives should be made available, if the ban were repealed. I instructed an officer in my Department who has experience of, and contacts in, the field of opinion research to ascertain informally from the university department where the results were being tabulated, what the responses were to these two questions. It appeared to me as a member of the Government having to consider such issues that the information might be a useful indication of public opinion. The university department gave the information readily, and, subsequently, on a suggestion which originated from me, released it to the Press.
As regards the statements attributed in one newspaper report to the officer who contacted the Scottish university department, it is obvious that they are extracts from a personal letter, the publication of which was neither intended nor authorised. In the circumstances I do not propose to comment on them, except to say that the officer acted throughout in accordance with my instructions.