Control of Importation, Sale and Manufacture of Contraceptives Bill, 1974: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

When the debate adjourned, I was referring to the choices—notionally, at least—open to the Government as a result of the Supreme Court decision. I want now to refer to the general running through the judgments of the Supreme Court. The position emerges quite clearly from those judgments and this position is equally clearly not understood, even by some of those who would oppose this Bill for the wrong reasons. I shall quote now from the judgement of Mr. Justice Walsh; it is as yet an unreported judgement, but it is a vital statement of the law.

There is no law in force in the State which prohibits the use of contraceptives either in or outside of marriage——

—that does not surprise any of us since there could never be such a law—

——or the manufacture or distribution of contraceptives within the State.

That was the position prior to the Supreme Court judgement and it is the position at present. It is important that Deputies, who would oppose this Bill for the wrong reasons, and the public, who may be misinformed, should recognise that there is now no law in this State prohibiting the manufacture of contraceptives within the State or, for that matter, prohibiting in any way the distribution of contraceptives within this State. I would like all Deputies who may, for some reason, think this Bill—this has sometimes been represented to us—is aimed at liberalising contraceptives to take that into account.

As a result of the McGee decision, not only is there no law affecting the restriction of manufacture or distribution of contraceptives but there is now no law regulating or restricting the importation of contraceptives. Frankly, I agree with the Government that they were right in not leaving the position as it is at present and I strongly disagree with those who oppose this Bill simply because they think that, by doing nothing, we retain whatever it is they believe we have up to the moment, though their belief is, in fact, mistaken.

I would say to Deputies who will speak later and possibly suggest that, for conscientious reasons, they are opposing this Bill, to consider what I have said as a factual statement and not just an opinion, which some people seem to imagine was what the Supreme Court gave in the McGee case. When the Supreme Court make a statement on the law that is, in fact, the law. They are not giving statements as individuals but as the chief element in the Judiciary, the Supreme Court, which has an important function in our whole democratic structure, as important a function as we have in this Legislature. They decide whether or not the laws that we pass are in conformity with the Constitution.

I want to refer now to the Act itself. Section 17 (3) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1935, was found unconstitutional. Here I want to refer to a common theme running through the judgment of the Supreme Court. The Long Title of the Act is: "An Act to make further and better provision for the protection of young girls and the supression of brothels and prostitution and for those and other purposes to amend the law relating to sexual offences". The Supreme Court quite rightly pointed out that the Act was intended at the time to deal with what was regarded as sexual vice or promiscuity, that and no more. There is no evidence that that Act was in any way intended to be an Act which would regulate population or be an instrument of population control. The evidence is, in fact, all to the contrary.

When dealing with section 17 (3) Judge Henchy had this to say:

It is significant that this section, which deals with the prohibition of sale and importation of contraceptives comes between sections 16 and 18.

Section 16 deals with the supression of prostitution:

Every common prostitute who is found loitering in any street, thoroughfare, or other place and importuning or soliciting passers-by for purposes of prostitution or being otherwise offensive to passers-by shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall on summary conviction thereof be liable, in the case of a first such offence, to a fine not exceeding two pounds or, in the case of a second or any subsequent such offence, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months.

That section is exclusively concerned with prostitution.

Section 18, which follows naturally section 17, portion of which was held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court deals with public indecency. It provides:

Every person who shall commit, at or near and in sight of any place along which the public habitually pass as of right or by permission, any act in such a way as to offend modesty or cause scandal or injure the morals of the community shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall on summary conviction thereof be liable to a fine not exceeding two pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding one month.

It is relevant to point out here that section 17, which deals with the prohibition of sale and importation of contraceptives, comes between these two sections which are obviously exclusively concerned with what one might describe as public vice or indecency and have little or nothing to do with private behaviour and less to do with anything in the nature of the rights of married couples to behave as they wish in the privacy of their own homes and their right to decide what they should do in the matter of family planning.

As Judge Walsh said, and very few of us can disagree with this, it is a matter exclusively for husband and wife to decide how many children they wish to have. Of course, they are not the final judges of how many children they will have. It is outside the competence of the State to decide for them. None of us as legislators, Executive or otherwise, can attempt to decide for the public at large how many children they should have or what restrictions there should be on them in their decision as to how many children they wish to have. The judge went on to say that the individual has natural and human rights over which the State has no authority and the family is the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society as established in our Constitution and has rights which the State cannot control. And I would add, rights with which the State has no right to interfere. Indeed, if it had such a right would have no competence to do so.

It is clearly established that the State must decide what it can do and has a right to do before introducing legislation in this area. It is significant that the judges say there is nothing in the law or in their judgments which should be taken as an indication that the control, of the importation of contraceptives, or the sale of contraceptives is per se unconstitutional. They made no judgment on the control and regulation of either the sale or importation of contraceptives. It is important to note that neither did any of the judges indicate that they were offering any view as to the constitutionality or otherwise of the availability or unavailability of contraceptives for unmarried people.

Judge Walsh said also that he had given no consideration whatsoever to the question of the constitutionality or otherwise of laws which would withhold or restrict the availability of contraceptives for use outside of marriage and "nothing in his judgment is intended to offer any opinions on that matter". Therefore, I am sure everybody will agree that a change in the law is necessary.

Before I come to what we think are the desirable ways of effecting that change in accordance with what we recognise to be the right standards in society, while protecting the rights of the individual as enshrined in our Constitution to freedom of conscience and private behaviour, might I correct a misinterpretation which appeared on page 1 of The Irish Times in a Dáil sketch of the debate on 4th July, 1974? I am represented in that sketch as saying—I cannot think of the exact words—something along these lines: “Thanks be to God there will be chemists in this country who will have nothing to do with this illicit or offensive trade.” A further interpretation is put on that: “That's a nice message for the filthy Prods in Northern Ireland.” I find this personally very hurtful but that does not matter. I agree that it would be hurtful to the Protestants in Northern Ireland or anywhere for that matter. That is the most important aspect. If it were to appear that any spokesman for any party in this House expressed a view of that nature it could have serious consequences. As it happens, that was not my view. Nothing I said could have justified that. As I said, I have been embarrassed by this but that does not matter. I was referring to the possible reactions of some people and I was not expressing my own view. As reported at column 374, Volume 274 of the Official Report of 4th July, 1974, I said:

It is good to have chemists who will not be used by any liberals to supply contraceptives to those who wish to have them. Does the Minister think that that reaction is possible in rural Ireland?

I was simply presenting a reaction that would be possible in rural Ireland and not my own personal impression, and would be quite inconsistent with anything I said on that day, to-day or any other occasion. Unfortunately what I said is not on the record in inverted commas; it never is. Maybe I did not have the right cadence in my voice to indicate this but I said:

It is good to have chemists who will not be used by any liberals to supply contraceptives to those who wish to have them.

I went on to say, and this is the important part:

Does the Minister think that that reaction is possible in rural Ireland?

Perhaps there could be some doubt but I want to make it clear now that I was referring to a reaction I thought might be possible in rural Ireland or any other part of the country. I was not presenting that as being my own view. I do not feel qualified to offer a moral judgment on anyone who decides to take any course of action in this case. If I were to offer a judgement, it would not be on the basis of that misrepresentation of my intention.

There will be many towns in Ireland where no chemist will apply for a licence to sell contraceptives. Without making very many inquiries I know of some cases. They may decide not to apply for a licence, not for any principles of morality but for reasons of good, sound, commercial practice. A chemist engaged in the lucrative business of cosmetics or photography may have to decide when going into another area of business if it will increase or interfere in any way with his existing trade. It is his right to decide whether the sale of contraceptives would benefit or lead to the detriment of his business. Of course there may be some chemists who do not apply for a licence for reasons of morality. If that is so, the Minister will recognise the imbalance in the law.

In some areas there will be a freer availability than in others. As I mentioned on the last occasion, if one chemist in a small town applies for a licence and others do not, does the Minister not think it is possible this may give rise to a reaction within the community, unjustified and unwarranted though it may be? There may be the attitude: "So-and-so handles the quare things but the others who are nice, decent people will not". I am not trying to justify this attitude; I am simply asking the Minister does he think it desirable that this possibility exists as a result of this Bill.

What about the situation where there is no chemist, where it will be left to traders? It is my opinion that if a trader applies for a licence it will cause certain reactions, perhaps undesirable reactions and ones we could not and do not commend. Do we think that where the State has a responsibility this can be discharged in such a haphazard arrangement, where certain individuals in small towns and villages may decide to apply for licences? Are we going to depend on that possibility to discharge our duties? In doing so, are we satisfied if these reactions develop?

I do not think we can do this. I do not think it is right for us to do it and, while I recognise that what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach said on the last occasion, that the law is simply an attempt by us to frame the conditions for society and there will always be loopholes we cannot foresee—he mentioned the loopholes in the Intoxicating Liquor Act— may be true, I do not think we can contemplate supporting any Bill in the knowledge of all the gaps that exist, even before practice will prove that many others exist also. We could not justify supporting a Bill of this nature in the light of the strong opinions and impressions we have of its unworkability.

Section 5 states:

(1) A person who is unmarried and who is not the holder of a licence granted under section 2 shall not purchase a contraceptive.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100.

How does the Minister think such an offence can be proved? Through what channels does he think it can be prosecuted? Who will supply the evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions or whoever will have the responsibility of bringing such a charge, and on what basis? If it is an offence for the would-be purchaser who may be a young person under 21 years to purchase contraceptives and be liable to a fine, can the Minister explain why it is not an offence for the licensed seller who knowingly sells a contraceptive to such a person? I am merely posing the question. I am not suggesting it should be an offence. If it is an offence for the purchaser, should it not be an offence for the person who knowingly sells the contraceptive? Should we set up in this, or in any other legislation, inconsistencies of this nature? Should we introduce offences that we know before we start cannot and should not be offences in any event in that sense? If so, can we be blamed on this side of the House for saying we find this Bill inoperable and one we cannot support?

Why not amend it?

I shall refer to our proposals if the Minister wishes to accept them. I have said today that it is our responsibility to deal with this matter. We cannot leave it to licensed chemists or traders to take that responsibility. In so far as it is the responsibility of the State to deal with the matter, we consider it can best be discharged through the State agencies established by this Legislature and the Executive. In this instance the most obvious ones are the health boards. I know there will be practical difficulties but I shall express some view on it and point out how we envisage the health boards would operate in this area.

First, we must recognise that the Supreme Court has clearly said it is the right of married couples to be allowed to import and to use contraceptives. Therefore, if we want to act in accordance with that and in accordance with the principles of private behaviour, we should recognise that a married couple have the right to use contraceptives in the course of their private behaviour for family planning. They do not have to justify to anyone outside their own home why they want to use contraceptives. On the last occasion the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach spoke about people using contraceptives for selfish or unselfish reasons. Who is to judge whether a married couple will use contraceptives for selfish or unselfish reasons? In our proposals or suggestions to the Government—it is they who will have to decide whether our suggestions——

Are they proposals or suggestions? There is a difference.

I am well aware of the Minister's capacity for distinction in these areas. Would the Minister point out how significant is the distinction between proposals and suggestions in this connection?

If you have proposals you should be prepared to allow the Bill to survive to Committee Stage and then amend it. If you have suggestions and then defeat the Second Reading there would be no chance to do that.

Who has the majority in the House?

The Minister is entitled to his interpretation as to the consequences of making "proposals" and "suggestions". I thought I had given fairly clear, consistent and cogent reasons why this Bill as presented is unacceptable to us. It is a Bill we find that simply does not act in accordance with our obligations or one that we can support. For that reason I suggest to the Government that they withdraw it and consider instead "suggestions" or "proposals"—whichever the Minister wants— which would, first of all, use the agencies of the State I have mentioned—the health boards—and, in doing so, would ensure simply that these agencies would be channels of distribution to married couples who would apply for contraceptives; that nobody there would have the right to decide—there would be no question of medical prescriptions or otherwise —nobody in these health boards would have the right to accept or reject application from married couples whether or not a married couple who wished to have these for their own private use, in their own homes, for their own purposes——

Does the Deputy mean the health boards should set up family planning clinics?

Yes. I am suggesting this to the Minister. I can appreciate that there may be some matters to be worked out in detail but this is what I am suggesting to the Minister. I am suggesting that, from the point of view of availability, it may mean what the Minister says but it means more. It means simply that they would be a channel of distribution for those who would apply for them, those need not seek advice from the health boards. But, in conjunction with that, you must take our other suggestion which Deputy O'Malley indicated here. In conformity, and consistent with the judgement of the Supreme Court, we think also there should be the right to import, subject to regulation, that the individual would have the right to import contraceptives, subject to restrictions and regulations which would confine them broadly for personal use and, not for commercial purposes.

I appreciate that there may be areas here which will require a lot of study in order to introduce practical regulations in that connection. Nonetheless, if you take those two aspects of it together—the right of the individual to import for his own personal use and distribution through the health boards—on balance at least it would seem to be approaching it in a more orderly, responsible and, in my view, more satisfactory manner than the manner in which it is presented in the Bill.

There may be people who, listening to the debate, may express some frustration that we have not taken certain things into account so far; that we have not considered medical, or socio-medical aspects of the question. Of course, they are probably right. Certainly, I do not profess to be qualified any more than any other adult in this country to offer views in any informed way on what will be the social or medical consequences of this Bill or of our proposals. I do it merely as an ordinary citizen going on the impressions I get of the people with whom I come into contact and doing the best I can to implement their wishes in the interests of the orderly regulation of society. At the same time—as I said today and indeed on the last time we debated this matter—I recognise that our Constitution specifically, first of all, recognises the right to freedom to practise religion, and, in my view, inherent in that is the right to abide by the doctrines and tenets of each denomination. We have to recognise that there are denominations here who do not have the same view of this as others. The majority denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, may have a very clear view on it.

Finally, may I say that I have simply offered my view as a legislator for the time being. I happen to be a Roman Catholic and my view on this matter as to whether or not I would use contraceptives is in no way relevant. Those of us who are concerned for our religion, or the doctrines of any religion in this case, can prove that concern only by adhering in our normal lives to the tenets of that doctrine. We do not prove it by coming here to impose the principles of that religion on another denomination or on other codes that may find those principles unacceptable. I would hope that people would recognise that the legislation that must now be introduced will not in any way change their right to behave as they always have done and will not in any way change the environment in which they want to live or the traditions which they may respect. It may go a long way in enriching them and acknowledging that there are others who feel that, in their private behaviour and private lives, they are entitled to act in accordance with their consciences and that nothing in the attitudes of a majority should prevent them from so doing. That is simply what we are intending to do here; what any individual amongst us may do subsequently is of no consequence. But I think it vitally important that we have no responsibility; it is not our function here to give effect to the teachings of any Church. It is our function to look at the standard of society and to ensure that the rights of the individual, as enshrined in our Constitution, will not only be protected but promoted. The Bill may intend to do that. I think it fails to do so. It is for that reason that we are opposing it. But, if the Minister would indicate that he would be concerned to give effect to our alternatives, then I think he would find that, from this side of the House, we are not merely going to oppose it for the sake of so doing. If he wants to give effect to what we are suggesting I think he would find that all of us could work together to do so.

I have listened to the whole of this debate so far. I have heard the contributions of the Opposition speakers with some depression, some confusion, with occasional rays of hope. There were rays of hope this morning in the earlier part of what Deputy O'Kennedy said. Many of the expressions he used were liberal and generous. I know from my knowledge of the Deputy that he is sincere when he uses them and that there are a number of people over there who are also sincere in that direction. But I heard with sadness the concluding part of Deputy O'Kennedy's statement in which he announced that, nonetheless, he was going to oppose this Bill, allegedly, on the ground that it was unworkable, and so on. I say "allegedly" because I think he is bound; his party appear to have taken a position as a bloc on this and I do not think they have taken it because they think that health clinics are preferable to chemist shops and so on.

I am afraid I do not believe that of them, as a party, and I can appreciate that people who are quite sincere in their own professions—in what they want to say on this—have, at times, to be controlled by a collective decision. How binding that collective decision is I do not know. I would think that, if their objections are what they say they are, they can let this Bill survive into Committee and they can there seek to amend it. It does not look as if they are going to do that, but I might be wrong. I am sometimes wrong about the gentlemen opposite. They may be preparing to let it through. I hope so. At the moment their position is that they are not offering to amend. They speak as if they intend to vote against the Bill on the Second Reading and perhaps to defeat it.

Their alternative suggestion is that the Government should withdraw their own Bill, the Bill which the Minister for Justice on behalf of the Government came here to put in, and put in later another Bill which would be based not on proposals which they have made from over there—though Deputy O'Kennedy inadvertently, hopefully, used that phrase—but on very vague suggestions.

All right, suppose we were to withdraw this Bill and then come back and say, "Here is our new Bill based on your suggestions"; and suppose then —these are very vague suggestions— we were to be told, "No, it does not meet our suggestions, it is not really workable and we will not have it", we could become involved in a process which would mean no legislation at all. That is what I might describe as the majority of the Opposition view. They say that legislation is needed when in fact they do not want it. They say they agree there is a need for legislation but they flatly oppose the only legislation that is before the House and they offer no real alternative to it. I do not count these different tentative, half-hearted throw-away suggestions they have made which are not proposals at all.

The objections they have formulated to the Bill are all of a kind which could be covered by amendments on Committee Stage. The obvious policy for a party who see the need for legislation is to criticise the Bill on Second Reading, to vote for or at least not to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill and then seek to remedy its deficiencies by amendments in Committee.

If they reject this course, if they vote as a body against the Second Reading, surely it will be obvious that their objection to the Bill as a party is not based on the objections they have formulated here, since they are in a strong position to correct any of the deficiencies they have referred to by amendments which many of us on this side would be prepared to consider sympathetically.

For example, Opposition speakers have indicated that they consider the section confining the sale of contraceptives to married people to be impracticable or unworkable. Are they prepared to put down an amendment for the deletion of that section and would they be prepared to vote for the Bill so amended? If the answer to both these questions should be "yes"— I do not think it is—then some support, including mine, would be forthcoming from this side for such an amendment. They may ask, and it would be a reasonable question, why we—I refer to the few of us: I am not speaking for everybody over here —who agree with their criticism—the Deputy laughs; I do not think this is funny; I think it is anything but funny; I do not think that the situation we are dealing with here or our attitude to it is funny——

Mr. Kitt

I was not laughing at the situation. I was laughing at the impression——

All right. They may ask why we who agree with their criticisms to a considerable extent do not ourselves put down an amendment. The answer is simple: if such an amendment were put down and if it were carried, with the Opposition abstaining, as they might abstain —I do not know whether they would or not—and if the Opposition then voted against the Bill as a whole, the Bill as a whole would be defeated since there are a number of Deputies who will support the Bill as it stands but could not support a Bill so amended.

I regard the Bill as it stands, with all its defects—it has a good many defects—as preferable to no legislation at all but I think it could be greatly improved in Committee if the Opposition are prepared to discharge their responsibilities as Members of the Oireachtas in trying to see to it that the legislation that we pass is the best that can be achieved in the interests of the people. If Fianna Fáil vote against the Second Reading of this Bill in sufficient strength to defeat it, then I think it will be clear what they as a party are up to—against the inclinations, I know, of some of their number. Despite their formal acknowledgement of the major social and national issues involved, it will be clear that as a party what they are doing is using the issue purely for what they hope to be political gain for their party. They have very much in mind the statement of the Catholic Hierarchy on this subject, although they did not make much reference to that in the debate, certainly not as much reference as the bulk it occupies in relation to this debate.

I think their organisers, their master minds, believe they may be able to drum up support, particularly among the older voters in the more thinly populated areas, by opposing this Bill. But they are in a political difficulty. They do not want to alienate support among the younger voters and in the more densely populated areas by opposing the Bill on principle and saying flatly in this House that contraception is wrong and should be prohibited by law. None of their speakers in this debate has said that.

Mr. Kitt

I will say it when I get the chance.

All right, I think the Deputy is honest in that. Their leading speakers, and if I may say so without offence to the Deputy, their front bench speakers, have not said that. They have adopted the strategy, if it is a strategy, of giving formal reasons rather than reasons of principle for opposing the Bill. This procedure gives their Deputies in different parts of the country the opportunity of interpreting their party's position in different ways. In the thinly populated areas they will be likely to emphasise the mere fact of their having opposed the Bill and allow it to be understood that they did so on moral and religious grounds and in deference to the position of the Catholic Hierarchy. In the cities, on the other hand, they can allow it to be understood that they are not against legislation on contraception but simply against the Government's allegedly unworkable Bill which they can even suggest was unduly restrictive. Their speakers who take that line will certainly be able to quote Deputy O'Kennedy's speech today.

This is an extremely convenient position electorally, but hardly an admirable one. Let us be clear about this. We are not pleading with the Opposition to help us out of some kind of difficulty. As far as we are concerned this is a free vote. If the Opposition wish to vote as a bloc in order to defeat any legislation on this subject while claiming to regard legislation as necessary, that is the Opposition's responsibility. I make no plea to them on behalf of the Government. It is not the Government who need their help.

However, I do ask them, particularly those of them whom I know to be personally concerned about the serious issues involved—I would certainly include the last speaker and Deputy Brugha—to think about their own responsibility to the people which requires of them that they take a hand in helping to provide legislation which they themselves recognise to be necessary. I put it to them that it is their duty to do so. That is not an appeal on behalf of the Government.

I should now like to turn to the fundamental issues involved and I should like to begin by explaining why I consider this Bill to be inadequate; to go on to explain why, nevertheless, I intend to vote for it and to conclude by discussing some of the objections raised against it.

The main defect of this Bill is that it does not provide family planning advice and assistance in accordance with the conscience of the mother which would be regarded as an essential part of preventive medicine in the same way as protection against smallpox and TB is now so regarded. It does, however, make possible the beginning of progress in that direction. The suggestions made by Deputy O'Malley and by the last speaker about the use of health clinics might perhaps be taken as pointing in this desirable direction. If these gentlemen later put down amendments which satisfy me that this is the direction in which they are intended to work I will be prepared to support such amendments.

Perhaps this Bill will reach Committee Stage. Perhaps it will. I am almost beginning to believe it will, and if it does we will then see how much substance there was in these suggestions which are not quite proposals. If we look at the analysis of the fertility of marriage contained in the 1961 census we find, taking marriages of 20-24 years duration where the wife was aged 20-24 at marriage, very interesting and striking social contrast. Wives married to unskilled manual workers have: 11 per cent more children than the wives of semi-skilled manual workers; 16 per cent more children than the wives of skilled manual workers; 35 per cent more children than the wives of intermediate non-manual workers; 44 per cent more children than the wives of salaried employees and 58 per cent more children than the wives of employers and managers.

These figures tell a painful story. This very strict class hierarchy shows clearly that the burden is being borne by those least able to bear it. It is this stark fact which points up most clearly the inadequacy of our response to this problem. I am speaking here of the whole Oireachtas, when I say "our". But there are other costs of our inaction which have also borne most heavily on the poorest of our society. The methods of population control which Irish society has used since the last century have been late marriages, permanent bachelorhood and emigration.

And much more.

I agree that the list could be extended. These methods—or most of them—are happily coming to an end, and part of our present problem is that we refuse to recognise the extent to which they have already been replaced by other methods. We are all aware of the evils of emigration and of the toll which it took. What has not been chronicled so fully, except perhaps in a light-hearted way, is the serious burden which permanent bachelorhood has been, and the extent to which this burden has been most unevenly shared between the various classes of society.

If we take the percentage of males aged 45-54 who were recorded as single in the 1961 census in the different social groups, we get the following results:

Agricultural labourers

43%

Farmers

40%

Unskilled manual workers

25%

Skilled manual workers

17%

Salaried employees

11%

Employers and managers

9%

Again the same story. I can sum up the class aspect of family planning by quoting from Paper No. 42 of the Economic and Social Research Institute "Some Irish Population Problems Re-considered" where the author, Mr. Brendan Walsh, says on page 13:

The burdens of large family size and permanent celibacy appear to fall most heavily on those who are least adequately equipped to deal with the resultant economic and psychological stresses.

The word "psychological" is important. There is no point bemoaning our internationally high levels of mental illness unless we are prepared to tackle the problems of harassed mothers and those caused by indefinitely postponed marriages. These two problems are related.

That is why I regard the Bill as inadequate. There are those in the family planning movement and, for all I know, on the benches opposite, who agree with this view and who say that therefore this Bill should be opposed because it is even more restrictive than the existing legislation as amended by the recent Supreme Court decision.

I am supporting the Bill because it represents a general consensus of the parties making up the National Coalition, because I believe it to be right and timely that the Oireachtas should legislate in this area, and because the Bill does take the important and necessary step of legalising the sale of contraceptives in the Republic.

The country is, as is well known, sharply divided on this issue with a clear majority of the electorate, according to all public opinion surveys, in favour of the legislation of contraception with suitable safeguards.

This division is not along party lines and I expect to find this reflected in the voting in this House. The division is a much more serious one in our society and this is why I value consensus. It is more than anything a division between generations. This can be illustrated by the results of an opinion poll conducted by Irish Marketing Surveys Ltd., in February of this year, the results of which were published in Hibernia Review of April 12th.

The question put was as follows:

People have different views on the use of contraceptives. Irrespective of your opinion on the use of contraceptives, I would like you to give me your opinion on the sale of contraceptives in Ireland. Would you tell me which of these statements comes closest to your view?

The two alternatives were:

(a) The sale of contraceptives should be permitted by law through chemists.

——that is basically what the present Bill intends to do and——

(b) The sale of contraceptives should be forbidden by law.

——which reflects the previous position, which was ruled out by the Supreme Court.

The split in the generations is illustrated by the following analysis of the percentage of each age group who wished to permit the sale of contraceptives, that is to say, broadly those who would favour this Bill:

Ages16—24

70%

25—34

74%

35—44

62%

45—54

43%

55 and over

30%

Total of all adults

54%

In regard to the distinction in relation to age, the point is most poignantly made when we compare the views of married women of childbearing age with those of older married women:

68%

of married women aged under 44 are in favour of permitting the sale of contraceptives while only

35%

of married women over 44 are in favour

——making a grand total of 51% of married women who would favour this Bill.

I feel there is a heavy responsibility on all Deputies, since we tend to be elected for our seniority and experience, to bear in mind the views of the younger married couples who are most directly affected by this legislation and who are about 70 per cent in favour of this.

This may also well be a question of electoral prudence, since many of us tend to take political soundings within our own age group. This could lead many Deputies astray on a question like this, where age as we see from that survey is a vital factor.

I have said that it is important to seek consensus in this matter, but I feel it is very important also to enact into legislation the consensus of 1974 rather than to leave the consensus of 1935 to be gradually and ignominiously shot to pieces by the Supreme Court. Many things have changed since 1935 and it is the duty of the Legislature to take these changes into account.

I am sorry to inflict more statistics on Deputies but the statistics in this area are of extreme interest. In the second volume of the 1971 census we see how many more married people we have in 1971 compared with the number of married people in 1936, particularly in the younger, fertile, age groups.

Between 1936 and 1971 the number of married women rose by: 128 per cent in the 15-19 age group; 102 per cent in the 20-25 age group; 55 per cent in the 25-29 age group; 23 per cent in the 30-35 age group; It decreased by 2 per cent in the 35-39 age group for some reason and rose by 18 per cent in the 40-44 age group.

Altogether there has been an increase of 26 per cent in the number of married women aged under 44 since the time the Dáil last legislated on this issue. During the same time our total population rose by a mere 0.3 per cent. This change is a welcome one and shows that we live in very different times from the times in which our present law was enacted. However, since it shows that we have abandoned late marriages and the emigration of our young people as checks on population, we must recognise that other methods have been adopted already, whether we like it or not.

Unless we register our present consensus now as a Legislature in terms that are relevant to the present situation, we are merely running away from the problem. While this might result in a superficially more liberal legal position, because of the Supreme Court judgment, it would serve to bring this House into disrepute. Those who criticise the Bill as unworkable or as not going far enough have a clear remedy. They cannot avoid this and I offer no apology for repeating this point. It is essential to bring it home. They can bring in amendments and, in the free vote situation, on this side, such amendments have a fair chance of being incorporated into the law.

I would like to turn now to some of the objections which have been raised against this Bill, the more general objections. It has been said, for instance, that this question is of no relevance to the situation in Northern Ireland because Protestants are not really in favour of contraception. We shall see how much truth there is in that.

It is, of course, true that the passage of this Bill will not alter the very deep-rooted opposition of Northern Unionists to a united Ireland. Indeed, its terms will no doubt be castigated as excessively restrictive. However, nothing is more certain than that a failure to have the courage to tackle this question in any way will show clearly that we have no intention of ever creating the pluralist society, without which the oft-repeated aspiration to unity is a hollow sham.

To emphasise this point, I would like to place on the record of this House the most authoritative collective views of the main Protestant Churches on this issue.

The General Synod of the Church of Ireland passed a resolution in 1971 and I quote:

welcoming the efforts being made to amend the legislation concerning contraception in the Republic.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has a Synod of Dublin, representative of their members living in the Republic, which passed a resolution in June, 1961 — a long time ago — and I quote:

The Synod of Dublin calls upon the Government of the Republic of Ireland to amend the law with regard to the importation and sale of contraceptives, and the law which forbids advocating their use.

The Methodist Church, in the June, 1971, report of their Council on Social Welfare said:

It is our judgement that prevention of conception is necessary in most normal families. Every marriage should if possible be fruitful. This does not mean, however, that there should be an unlimited amount of children.

On 15th February of this year, I received a letter saying that—and I quote:

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Dublin welcomes the decision of the Government to introduce a Family Planning Bill in the current session of the Dáil.

I think that these quotations show that there can be little doubt about the position of the Protestant Churches in this matter and anyone who suggests there is a doubt merely reveals that he is not listening to what they are saying. It is said that the Catholic Church has the right also to offer its advice on this matter. That is quite true. But there is an important difference. Whether this Bill is passed or not, those who wish to follow the teaching of the Hierarchy on this matter remain perfectly free to do so. On the other hand, if the existing legislation stands, Protestants who follow the dictates of their conscience on this matter, with the approval and sanction of their Church, are branded as criminals.

It would be wrong of course to overemphasise the difference between the Churches.

Pope Paul in his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae said clearly and I quote:

Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today rightly enough is much insisted on, but which, at the same time should be rightly understood.

He went on to explain that:

The Church nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches as absolutely required that in any use whatever of marriage there must be no impairment of its natural capacity to produce life.

That quotation is from the Catholic Truth Society edition, pages 12-13.

Thus it is clear that we are not faced with any religious disagreement about the need for family planning as such. The disagreement comes when the theological acceptability of various methods is considered. Fortunately we, as a House, are not called upon to go into these theological questions.

The Irish Hierarchy said in their statement of the 26th November and I quote:

There are many things which the Catholic Church holds to be morally wrong and no one has ever suggested, least of all the Church herself, that they should be prohibited by the State.

The Hierarchy went on to question the effect that the increased availability of contraceptives might have on the quality of life in the Republic of Ireland. Their analysis was entirely devoted to the effect of family planning as such, while ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church regards some methods as licit and other methods as illicit, from a theological point of view.

Secondly, in their discussion of the quality of life, they do not recognise explicitly the very considerable positive contribution which family planning in accordance with the parents' conscience can make to the quality of life and particularly, as we have seen, among the poorer and least protected classes. Thirdly, by implying that the legislative position should be left as it is, they may have encouraged those who indulge in a self-deception which is damaging to the quality of public life in this State.

We all know that some 40,000 women are at present using the anovulant pill as a contraceptive. That is against the law as it stands, but we pretend to believe or are asked to pretend to believe that these pills are being sold for other purposes. This self-deception imposed an unfair risk on those women for whom the pill was contraindicated but for whom it was the only legal contraceptive. Now, following the Supreme Court's decision we have the additional self-deception that what is all right for mail order is wrong when purchased through an Irish chemist.

This atmosphere of self-deceit, and unfortunately it is very real, saps the respect for law and the rule of law in our community. To diminish this respect for the rule of law is to threaten not only the quality of life, but a considerable number of actual lives, in present circumstances. In any event, the case which the Hierarchy sought to make for a positive correlation between such things as the illegitimate birth rate and the availability of contraceptives does not seem to be well-founded.

In conclusion of this part I would like to refer to a report of the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, 1969, where The Irish Times of the 30th January, 1969, reported Deputy Lynch as saying, on the subject of contraception:

This was a matter of conscience, and a matter in which the State had no right to intervene.

Hear, hear.

I would agree with the Deputy, but the State intervened, in 1935, and it appears must continue to intervene. This Bill does, however, give married people back their consciences and I should have thought that in the light of what Deputy Lynch said that we would have a right to his help in changing the law in that direction.

Deputies opposite have attacked me for not being prepared to say that I was working for unity in present circumstances. Those who reproached me for that are now themselves actively working against unity, if they bring about the defeat of this Bill.

Rubbish.

Perhaps the Deputy would have the courtesy to listen to my argument in support of that statement. This is my argument: by doing so they will, among other things, be treating with contempt the pleas for freedom of conscience from the Protestant denominations, thus offering a deliberate and calculated affront to those without whose free consent the unity of the people of this island will never be attainable. If Deputy Moore thinks that is rubbish, I would ask him to show that by reasoned argument in his contribution in this debate instead of answering it by interruption.

I certainly shall.

I know at least that nothing I have said has been of a nature to damage relations between Irish people of different persuasions in this island. I would even claim that the things I have said have had a small but not quite insignificant effect in improving those relations. Whether that is so or not, that is certainly what I have been working for and what I regard as of the greatest importance at the present time and what I have been prepared to run some political risks for over the years. Consider what the effect of a defeat of this Bill would be on those relations between Catholics and Protestants, and on any prospects of achieving that unity which we are all agreed—whether we may think it near or remote—can only be attained by the consent of those who now strongly reject it, and who would see in the defeat of this Bill the plainest and most obvious justification of that rejection. If there is an answer to that argument I would like to hear it in the course of this debate.

It may be true that if this Bill is passed that event will be little noted in Northern Ireland and have little impact on the situation there. I am not quite sure even about that, that it should have little impact. The subject is a highly emotionally charged one, with very important social and demographic connotations and it bulks large among the motives given in the North for aversion from the Republic. The fact that we shall have proved, after all, to be able to legislate this matter and to legalise contraception, even in the rather restricted manner which this Bill proposes, would tend, in a significant degree, to have a benign effect on the psychological climate of the North. Even for those who may regard the idea of such a benign effect with scepticism, surely the malign effects of a defeat of the Bill must be absolutely clear to all who have seriously thought about this matter at all. If this Bill is defeated I fear the repercussions in the North will be serious.

We will never hear the end of it.

I think that is so. It will be claimed that the Catholic Hierarchy, guided by a Papal encyclical—I am now referring to a claim that will be made—instructed the Dáil to pass no such legislation and that the Dáil carried out this instruction, ignoring and over-riding the claims for freedom of conscience in this area made on behalf of all the Protestant Churches in the Republic and also ignoring and over-riding the ascertained wishes of the majority of the citizens. That is how it will be interpreted there. They will not say: "Oh, the Opposition thought it was unworkable and that health clinics were better than chemists and that is why they voted against the Second Reading and did not give themselves the opportunity to amend the Bill in the sense they said they wanted to." There must be many people on the opposite benches who in their hearts do not want such a message as that to go out or even appear to go out from this Dáil.

I would appeal to those who feel like that—I do not know if any of them are listening to me now— to support the Second Reading of this Bill or, at the very least, not to oppose it by their votes. If the real objection of Deputies opposite to this Bill is that parts of it are impractical they have their remedy for that, as I have said, on Committee Stage. If they prevent it reaching Committee Stage—and I hope they will not—it will then be terribly clear that the real objection is something other than what they declare it to be.

Mr. Kitt

My contribution to this debate will be brief. I have no notes. I have no brief with me. I have one little quotation which I should like to make before I conclude.

When I was elected to this House in 1948 I did not think I would ever see the day when the House would discuss a contraception Bill. The last speaker spoke about the quality of life. I abhor this Bill because in my opinion it would ruin the quality of life in this country.

What is the alternative?

Mr. Kitt

I have not the habit of interrupting Deputies. I listened carefully——

The Deputy interrupted me just now.

Mr. Kitt

I know. The Minister said there was no Deputy who would come out and say that he was against contraception and I said that I was. The Minister asked me to give my opinion and I gave it.

The House is waiting for an alternative.

Mr. Kitt

I will listen to the Deputy when he gets up.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Kitt, without interruption.

Mr. Kitt

I have one supporter over there, thanks be to God. I never thought I would see the day when such legislation would be brought into the House. This National Coalition have no mandate. They put up 14 points. They came together. We had two scourges of Coalition before but we have a right curse of one now. The last two got in without any mandate. They came together after the election. This time they came together before the election and produced 14 points. We thought they would stick to those 14 points. This is only a red herring brought in now to cloud the issue because they know the farmers are suffering, that the people in the towns are suffering. If the Government took off their coats and pulled up their socks and stuck to their 14 points there would be some respect for them. Here they are bringing in a contraception Bill that will ruin the quality of life to which the Irish people were used throughout the centuries and for which generations fought and died and there was no talk of contraception.

I voted for the new Constitution in 1937. There were two issues before the people on the same day. There was a general election and there was a referendum on the new Constitution. In the controversy that went on before that Constitution was introduced there was no talk about contraception being introduced.

Even the learned Supreme Court judges were not unanimous. There were five different opinions. If there were five more to decide the issue tomorrow there could be another five different opinions.

If anybody is to change the law on contraception it should be the people who brought in the new Constitution. Why are the Government afraid of a referendum on this subject? I am not afraid of one because I know the answer the people will give. That is why the Government are afraid to go back to the people and put the question before them. If the people agree to do what this Bill is trying to do, namely, change the quality of life and introduce a change from the old, traditional way of life, I will agree with that decision but not until I see it.

I know perfectly well in my conscience that this is morally wrong. We all know that murder is morally wrong. How can you make that legally right? If you bring in a Bill to make murder legal you will not get Deputy Kitt to vote for it. You will get no vote on any side of the House. If you bring in another Bill to make a thing that is morally wrong legally right I do not see how anybody on either side of the House could pass it.

Then we have the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs who, if we want to have our language or our culture, calls us bogmen, or whatever he called us down in Waterford; the Minister for Education who wants us to forget Irish history was ever written and the Minister for Justice bringing in his contraception Bill. This is an attempt to drag a red herring across the trail. For the previous speaker to say that it is going to ruin the unity of Ireland if we do not give contraceptives is only the thin end of the wedge. We had a Minister saying on the last day this Bill was discussed that not alone would he like to provide these for married people but he would like to provide them for everybody. As soon as we have contraception in there will be abortion, divorce, euthanasia, all the other evils of venereal disease and everything that will follow when this legislation is passed.

There is not one Deputy in this House who would vote for abortion and the Deputy should be ashamed of an argument like that. Not one Deputy here would vote for abortion.

Mr. Kitt

I am making my own speech in my own way.

The Deputy is the authentic voice of 1937.

Mr. Kitt

The last speaker on the Government side said that if this Bill was defeated it would ruin the cause of Irish unity. The founder of our party, the party which I have the honour to represent, Éamonn de Valera, who thanks be to God is still with us, a former President of this country—is still alive and is the last surviving commandant of Easter Week. Such a man ought to know what Connolly, Pearse and Clarke fought for and the kind of an Ireland they would like to have, the kind of Ireland they fought and died for.

No wonder we are a divided nation.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Kitt

Éamonn de Valera, speaking as Taoiseach of this country, on St. Patrick's Day, 1943, to the people of Ireland at home and abroad said:

The Ireland which we have dreamed of would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as the basis of a right living, of a people who were satisfied with frugal comfort and devoted their leisure to things of the spirit; a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages——

And Kilburn.

Mr. Kitt

Mr. de Valera went on:

——would be joyous with the sound of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths, the laughter of comely maidens whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of old age.

(Cavan): The Deputy should quote the reference.

Mr. Kitt

Mr. de Valera concluded:

It would, in a word, be the home of a people living the life that God desires men should live.

Deputies on the other side would not even allow me to quote a former President of Ireland, the founder of Fianna Fáil without interruption but his statement is on the record of this House.

It was he who wrote the Constitution.

Mr. Kitt

Yes. Contraception and all that comes in its way is not going to have our people living the life that God desires that men should live. I abhor this legislation. What is morally wrong cannot be made legally right and I hope, and pray, that this House will throw it out. I hope my vote will see that it will not go on the Statute Books.

Deputy O.J. Flanagan rose.

Urbi et Orbi.

It is most regrettable that a very important and serious Bill of this kind should be treated with interruptions from one side or the other. It is equally important and regrettable that there is clear and ample evidence that there are Deputies in this House who are not taking their responsibilities seriously. I do not know whether they are being carried away by the political waverings of their own party affiliations but this is a most serious piece of legislation. Yesterday I remarked that I am one of the longest serving Members in this House having served for 32 years. In those 32 years I read, studied and contributed to most of the Bills presented by various Governments. In that period I have not had the experience of reading or studying a Bill with such serious consequences for the present generation and for generations to come.

It is true to say that we are living in very strange times, times which are rapidly changing. People throughout the world are becoming more materialistic and are being wound up in materialism but many seem to forget the real purpose of life. In this country there was never more need for a sound public opinion, one based on Christian conscience, one based on truth. In recent years the climate of change has been advocated by journalists and people on television and radio. We seldom see the headlines advocating any good news but if the journalistic world can rake up any piece of filth or dirt that will disturb the true sincere Christian conscience they seem to flourish on it. If an attack can be made with inch-and-a half headlines in black type against the teaching of truth and justice it will be done.

Whether we like it or not we are now living in a society in which there seems to be a growing anti-church climate. There are established pressure groups, sponsored by the journalists of a miscellaneous type, whose educational qualifications are questionable and whose backgrounds are likewise questionable. These people have set themselves up as the champions of small pressure groups established for the purpose of infiltrating the moral standards of decent people in this country. The pressure groups which are backed up by very substantial sums of money from abroad get little support or sympathy except from those who do not understand. There is little of it coming from the sincerity which prevails today and always prevailed in rural Ireland. However, the pressure groups, backed by radio, television and Press, are anxious to attack everything for which the Church stands, are anxious to remove, if possible, the name and the expression of the Almighty Creator and to have it blacked and blotted out from everything which past generations of the Irish people have cherished.

All this is being sponsored by intellectuals, intellectuals who find themselves in high places unexpectedly and who feel that they can push over their false, unchristian, anti-Godly and disastrous self-made theology. I have often thought, and I have often heard old country people say, that there is nothing more dangerous than a little education and those self-syled theologians, who profess to know all about all things and who then find themselves steeped in their own ignorance, very often can lead a community unconsciously to disaster.

I have heard the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs speak on this. I appreciate his views. I have little doubt that he is speaking what he firmly believes. It is most regrettable that a man of his talents did not secure a sound Christian education because if he had I believe he would have a lot to contribute in this country. I listened to the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce last week. He is a man of exceptionally high qualities, extraordinary talents, outstanding personality, friendly, charitable, understanding and let no man say that he is not extremely well educated but he seemed to display an unforgiveable ignorance of the real essentials of life.

We have intellectuals who have qualified in various fields of technology and science, who can plan for the future, for a generation or two to come. What a terrible misplacement of the talents and the gifts that God gave them and blessed them with. The first education that is necessary and essential is the purpose of life and the purpose for which God created us and the main essential is to understand that we are in this world for a very short time and that we have a duty to contribute, with the best of our talents, bearing in mind that we are created not to end in the grave but for eternity. How many men in public life, with their responsibilities, close their eyes to the fact that one day they will not be Members of this House? I have seen men come and go here. I have had the experience of seeing the intellectuals of the forties and fifties, those who were going to transform Irish society, None of them is here today. And so it is with those who, by this Bill, are now sowing the seeds of poison for the real Christian way of life. How regrettable it is, whether it is a part of God's plan or not—we accept that it is—that those brillant people could not apply their talents to the application of true Christian principles of life.

We in this country have not escaped the changes that have taken place throughout the world. Whether we like it or not we must admit, no matter which side of the House we are on, that today, no matter who has been responsible or who has not been responsible, we live in a very sick Irish society. When we know we are living in a sick Irish society the responsibility is greater on us as legislators than it is on the citizen outside this House because the citizen outside has not been entrusted with the responsibility that we as legislators have been entrusted with. Therefore, our measure of responsibility is far greater. We are expected to be leaders of the community. We are expected to preach truth. We are expected to safeguard the moral standards of society. We are expected to give a lead. We can lead forward or lead backward but the worst of all would be to do nothing. We must bear in mind that the sickness of our Irish society has been brought upon us by the failure of people in high places, both in Church and State, to speak up and act. The pressure groups have been sponsored by materialistic and atheistic modern journalism, which has given importance and prominence to those small evilly-disposed pressure groups. Because of this we find Irish society in the deplorable position in which it is today.

We have one of the highest records for admissions to mental hospitals in the whole world in relation to our population. Is that something of which Irish society can be proud? Is it not extraordinary that in comparison with every country in the world we in the Republic have the highest record of admissions to mental hospitals? We have an all-time record of alcoholics—nothing to be proud of but plenty to be ashamed of. We have an increasing drug problem on a par with the United States in comparison with our population. Very few people speak of legislation to outlaw drugs and provide suitable premises to save our young people, our students, our teenagers from the horrid social cancer which many in this State are closing their eyes to, deliberately or otherwise, I am sorry to say both in the Church and otherwise. The serious drug problem, coupled with a record number of alcoholics and the world's greatest number of admissions to mental hospitals is menacing the main arteries of our society.

We have an increasing number of deserted wives and deserted husbands, broken up families and the consequent heartbreak of the little children God blessed them with. Nobody realised until the deserted wives' allowance was given that there were so many broken up homes in Ireland. Did anybody realise that every Deputy in this House has a constant flow of correspondence relating to broken up homes, broken up families, deserted wives and deserted husbands? Is that a credit to Irish society? Is it a credit to Irish society that permissiveness has grown to such an extent that in every part of Ireland there is the growing practice of wife swopping? It is not the very poor who participate. Is this something to be proud of? Should we be proud of seeing so many of our little children finding themselves in the appalling position of being neglected by their parents because of the growing permissiveness in our society?

Is it not true to say that in addition to all this we have lost respect for human life in this country and by acts of revenge, jealousy, greed and power human life is thought very little of? That is a very sad commentary on the society in which we live but it is very true. Coupled with all this is the fact that our jails are full to the very doors and there is hardly a vacant cell in any of them. All these evils bring serious consequences which must fall back on families.

The family as a unit has never been in greater danger of being demolished completely to its very foundations because in any society the family is the central unit on which society is built. If the family is attacked, if there is disunity, disrespect and breaking-up of family life that is the end of society. Society is only as good as the family life and the home permit. Many people scoff at the family as a unit but we hear people from the intelligentsia who speak of the community without finding out where the community commences. It springs from the marriage, from the home and from the children who bless that marriage. That is the family as a unit which is the principal hub on which community and society are built.

This Bill is an attack on the family. It is an attack on society. It means to smash the family to its very foundation. It is an evilly-disposed Bill. It is a Bill in my opinion that no matter how politically motivated people can be they really cannot speak of conscience in relation to it. We hear talk about freedom of conscience. It is now becoming a common expression but how free can our conscience be? Is it not true to say, as has been laid down in Vatican II, that the conscience must be a well-informed one and that we must seek the truth. If we do not, we are blinding ourselves and deceiving ourselves and we are not using our conscience. We cannot have freedom of conscience unless we seek the truth.

It is the same as a computer. If the computer is not fed with true facts it cannot reveal truth at the end. So it is with all those people who speak of freedom of conscience. In order to satisfy their conscience they say what readily comes into their mouths and try to convince themselves that what they are saying is true. There are many Deputies who will be voting for this Bill, who know, as sure as I do, that it is wrong. Pride will make them walk into the division lobbies. Pride gave the responsibility to Michael to drive Satan from his high place. Pride and power and greed will drive many Deputies into supporting what they know is morally wrong in relation to this Bill. What about their conscience?

Have they sought the truth? Is it not true to say that contraception is unnatural? It is wrong morally. It is contrary to God's law and yet many men in public life under the guise of freedom of conscience will deliberately walk into the division lobbies. They may be in this House for five, ten or 20 years more but, believe me, it is only on the approach of the midnight of life that one realises how one has abused one's responsibilities. As sure as every one of us is elected to this House, our responsibility is greater than the responsibility of those outside it. We cannot abuse it in the face of God. We will answer to Him because He is just in His judgments. We will answer for our deeds and our actions as Members of Parliament as surely as we have taken our seats here.

I have referred to the family as a unit. The family is in grave danger. This Bill is an attack on the family under the guise of rights of citizens, civil rights, constitutional requirements. It is an attack on the family which will reflect seriously on the future of our Irish society.

Having dealt with the society in which we live, there is something else which we must face. We must bear in mind that, if this Bill is passed, there will be an addition to those evils. We have more teenage drinking than is good for our society. With teenage drinking and contraceptives available the situation will get worse. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said that, if he had his way, contraceptives would be available for all single people. How sad to hear an expression of that nature from a man God blessed with such great talents.

On a point of order, is it not a fact that the Bill states that it deprives teenagers of contraceptives?

Acting Chairman

That is not a point of order.

The Deputy knows it is not a point of order.

It is a point of conscience.

We should be in order when we are speaking.

I assure Deputy Coogan that I will not interrupt him. The least I expect is the courtesy from my own party colleagues of being allowed to make my case. I would ask the Taoiseach, through the Parliamentary Secretary, if I, as a Fine Gael Deputy, cannot seek the protection of the Fine Gael Party to make my own speech when this is a free vote.

The Deputy knows that I asserted and defended his right and the right of anyone else who may feel like him.

I appreciate that.

Let us not go astray.

I hope that is a warning to the Deputy. I have a right to make my own speech and when I want assistance I know the right source to go to.

Acting Chairman

I would ask Deputies to address the Chair and maintain order in the House.

I was referring to the fact that, coupled with the chaotic teenage drinking in the singing bars, the lounge bars, and side shows and the all night shows, the availability of contraceptives will have serious consequences. You do not quench a fire by sprinkling it with petrol, and that is what this Bill is doing. The teenage drinking and the all-night carousing we have in every part of Ireland today will have serious repercussions on the homes of Ireland in the future on which the families must be established and built. If the Irish families are to be built on the foundation of the teenage drinking we have in Ireland today, God help the establishment of the homes for which they will be responsible.

Added to that in our Irish society is the extraordinary evil of the alarming increase in the incidence of VD. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that, no matter what reports are published, there is a steady increase in the incidence of that disease. Will the making available of contraceptives improve that position or will it bring it to the stage it has reached in European countries where there are statistics to prove what the situation is? Those are not records of which we can boast but we cannot close our eyes to them. They are here in our midst and they have resulted in a grave lack of respect for authority whether it be State, parental or church. Authority is being challenged from every quarter. Respect for authority is gone whether it is the State, the Parliament, the Church, the teacher, the guardian or the parent. Something must be wrong because there is this inclination to rebel against authority. Such a record is not a sign of a good, healthy Irish society.

Despite all that, we have in our midst some very excellent young people on whom the future of this country depends. They are standing up well to everything which surrounds them in Irish society. They are standing up well to the Godless and false propaganda. They are standing up well to the example of their parents and those who went before them. These are young people who in many parts of Ireland have banded themselves together to help others in the community and who have endeavoured to influence their colleagues by their example. Many excellent young people are finding it extremely difficult to be good in the surroundings I have outlined and with temptation as never before falling in on them from four corners. Will this Bill help to reinforce them or will it help to undermine them? This legislation is an intrusion on their goodness and their modesty. It is a temptation which will be very difficult for them to resist. It is unwanted and disastrous. Further and greater temptations will not influence these people in the right direction.

This Bill will provide contraceptive devices for all married couples whether they want them or not. What justification is there for that? It will not improve the quality of life in this country. This will lead to abuses. It is unworkable. This Bill has lost the race before it starts to implement the intention of the Minister. The serious part of this Bill is that the people need not prove that they are married. I want to salute the integrity and the foresight of the medical profession and the chemists in Ireland who have blankly refused to work this Bill. I have received letters from doctors and chemists from all over Ireland, every one of them in the same strain, deploring legislation of this kind. From their medical experience they have outlined the serious consequences. Thank God that the majority of our chemists have pledged themselves to refuse to handle or to sell these devices. The vast majority of the conscientious medical men in Ireland today have also refused to co-operate with the Minister for Justice or any other Minister in this matter. They have pointed out the growing incidence of VD and all the other serious consequences that will flow from what will be the free availability of contraceptives to all, we may say, because the married people who are seeking them are under no obligation to prove they are married.

I cannot understand the mentality of the Government who bring in a Bill of this kind. I do not know what kind of conscience there is within that Government. Maybe my conscience has not been informed to the same degree as theirs, but knowing the temptations of the society in which we live and the responsibility we all have to protect moral standards, I am bewildered at the Government introducing this legislation. Perhaps I am old fashioned but, having regard to the record in Italy, France and Britain which is there for us to read and study, I cannot understand the conscience of the Government who impose such a Bill on the people. I know most of these men—not all of them—intimately for many long years and I am still bewildered at their action.

The Minister for Justice goes on to tell the House that the Government believe there is a great flow of contraceptives into this country at present. Is it not true to say that that was always the case? We always had the smuggler and he will be everywhere to the end of time. But this is to legalise the smuggler. I do not believe for one minute that the Minister for Justice can produce evidence here to convince the House that there is wholesale blackmarketing going on with regard to contraceptives. That is being used as a sop to try to salve the consciences of those who have doubts about this Bill but I, for one, do not accept it. No evidence has been produced that there is this wholesale blackmarket.

There is something very wrong in a Bill designed to permit the use of contraceptives by married women without regard to some kind of medical evidence or some form of medical certificate. Because a certain decision was given, based on medical evidence, in Mrs. McGee's case every other married woman is to have made readily available to her contraceptive devices without any medical evidence at all, such as had to be presented in order to get a decision for Mrs. McGee. Does any Deputy think that is either right or fair? If there were special circumstances and a special case to be made in regard to the health of the person who brought the action and there was medical evidence to support that case, evidence which convinced a majority of laymen with no medical qualifications or medical experience of any kind, does that justify our bringing in legislation here to make contraceptives available to every married woman in the country, and single women, should they so wish, without any stipulation in regard to a medical prescription?

I deplore this Bill. It is morally wrong. As I said, the cure will be worse than the disease. If contraceptives are made readily available, people who would never have thought of using them may be tempted into doing so. This Bill is a violation of the laws of God and His Church. That may cause some to be amused, but there are still some of us who retain some kind of conscience and there are many of us who still believe that that which was taught 2,000 years ago is still right. An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. That is as true to-day as it was when it was first spoken 2,000 years ago.

This is an evil Bill and it cannot bring forth good results. I believe it will be unworkable. The power given to the Minister for Justice under the Bill is unreal because he will have power to grant licences for the sale of contraceptives and that is a dangerous power to vest in any Minister for Justice. The present Minister is a young man with a very high standard of integrity. But a future Minister for Justice could be someone like Deputy Keating, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who wants contraceptives made available for single people. Is that the kind of man we want in charge of Justice? Is it to that kind of man those of you who are parents with teenage children want to give this power? We have no guarantee that the next Minister for Justice will have the same high standards of integrity as the present Minister has, with due regard for the public and common good. That is why I say I fear the provisions in this Bill because giving a Minister for Justice the right, the power and the authority to give a licence to someone to deal in or manufacture contraceptives is the most dangerous responsibility that could be vested in any Minister of State. If this should be abused and, having heard the speeches already made we have no guarantee that it will not be abused, our whole social fabric could collapse around us like a pack of cards. This is a dangerous power to give to any Minister.

I am bewildered and I am puzzled as to why the Government should bring in a Bill to give such authority to any Minister for Justice. Even more serious still, if chemists decline to handle contraceptives the Minister will have power to nominate anyone he likes to sell contraceptives. I will not degrade country shopkeepers in the same way as they were degraded by an earlier speaker. Country shopkeepers do the best they can to make a living in difficult and competitive times. What better way could they have of improving their incomes than to solicit the support of Deputies in order to obtain from the Minister for Justice, whoever he may be, a licence to sell contraceptives? Remember, the law will not compel such a person to sell these to married people only. He must supply them on request. There is no need for a certificate or a prescription. The dealer who gets a licence must sell contraceptives. What will happen in the case of a dealer who becomes a sex speculator as a result of this section of the Bill? We have already heard of the amount of money coming here to keep sex propaganda alive and before the public mind.

The dealer who gets his licence to deal in contraceptives must, and will, be politically inspired. The granting of a licence to a dealer will provide an added income to the successful applicant, irrespective of the type of small country business he runs. There is nothing in the Bill to say who must get a licence, a retail grocer, a supermarket or a hardware merchant. As a matter of fact, he need not be in any kind of trade. A private citizen can be licensed under this Bill to sell contraceptives. Whoever thought that out, whether it was the legal experts who recommended this section to the Minister, should have their credentials examined. To me, a layman with extremely limited intelligence and no legal training, that is daft.

The addition of this trade to a man's business will yield a very fruitful income. As I said this Bill will add to the number of sex speculators here. Vast sums of money come from abroad to keep this business going. Let us look at the Fertility Guidance Company. I am sure every Deputy has heard of that firm because I know that no Deputy will vote for this Bill without first having all his facts. This company in the year 1970 received £2,000 and in 1971 £3,000 from International Planned Parenthood. In both years the auditors, Craig, Gardner & Company, the most reputable company in Ireland today, were unable to guarantee the income of the company as correct due to internal control over income received. This is a most serious situation. Vast sums of money from abroad are keeping this company going. In addition, the company applied for non-payment of tax to the Revenue Commissioners. Up to the end of 1971 not one penny was paid in tax. This is just one group of sex speculators of which we know.

I understood the Minister for Industry and Commerce to say that he would be most flaithiúlach in issuing these licences if he were Minister for Justice. That is a dangerous power to invest in any Minister. It is a power which this House should be slow to give, that is, if we have sufficient Deputies left to value moral standards. That authority is bad, it is evil and it is wrong. This Bill is the result of a decision of the Supreme Court. That decision was prompted by an action taken by a pressure group. This Bill is a yielding to a pressure group and a sacrifice of everything decent, right, proper and natural.

The Deputy might, perhaps, qualify that sentence.

This Bill is the result of a pressure group or groups. Those groups brought a case to the Supreme Court, won and continued to pressurise until a Bill of this kind was introduced. People in high places yielded readily and gladly to their influence.

Acting Chairman

Is the Deputy inferring that the Supreme Court yielded to pressure groups? The Deputy must be more clear. This is a matter for objective discourse.

I will repeat what I said. A pressure group brought a case to the Supreme Court and won.

Mrs. McGee brought the case.

Organised pressure has been used here for some years past. Certain pressure groups were advocating the availability of contraceptives for everybody as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court, which had nothing whatever to do with pressure. Pressure groups again go to work—and they are working today—in an attempt to get this Bill passed. If the Chair would like to relax for a few moments during lunch time and take a walk down Kildare Street he will see some of these pressure groups.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy must deal with the Bill. I was only asking him to qualify his statement.

I hope the Chair is satisfied.

Acting Chairman

The Chair accepts the Deputy's last qualification but not with directing individuals where they may go to find out something about this matter.

This was a pressure group who wanted free availability of contraceptives and, as a result of their pressure they have got to the top. Some legislators are yielding to the pressure groups but not all. I put it to the Chair that if the new entrant into Irish society, the streaker, decides he has a constitutional right to appear naked in public, if he brings his case before the Supreme Court and if he points out that in Africa and in many uncivilised countries it is right and proper to appear naked——

Acting Chairman

I must point out to the Deputy that streakers are not mentioned in the Bill and they may not be brought in as an aside to cause laughter in the House. It is not a laughing matter and I would ask the Deputy to remain on the Bill. We are not dealing in mythology or in matters outside the Bill. We are dealing with the hard core of the Bill and I should like the House to appreciate this.

I hope the Chair will bear in mind that there is no mention of contraception in the Constitution. I wanted to make the comparison that when one pressure group can get their aims brought as far as this House, there is nothing to stop similar groups from doing the same. For example, there are those who want to legalise brothels in this country and they may consider they have a constitutional right to do this. Will this House pass a Bill to legalise the activity carried out by the person the Chair does not want mentioned, or to legalise any other aim of a pressure group——

Acting Chairman

It is not a matter of what the Chair wants or the personality who may be occupying the Chair for the moment. It is a matter of objectivity and I would ask the Deputy to refrain from setting out hypothetical arguments and then trying to base his case on them. I wish the Deputy to refer to the Bill and to stay with what is contained in the Bill. I hope I shall not have to refer to the matter again.

I do not think I have departed very much from the Bill. However, I shall return to it, distasteful though it may be. The Chair knows from his contacts in his own constituency that this is a Bill that stinks in the nostrils of every decent person in the country. The free availability of contraceptives will be detrimental to the common good. It will play a major part in destroying our sense of Christian values. In making reference to our Christian values, I do so as a Catholic. The Catholic faith commands the obedience of the vast majority of the people of Ireland. The Catholic Church has clearly spoken on the evil character of contraception. One of the main reasons the Church in this country has done so is that Ireland is still one of the most underpopulated countries in Europe.

We know that where the course of nature is interfered with there will be a reaction that will cause considerable damage to life. The whole balance of nature will be completely upset. The Minister for Justice does not have evidence in regard to the side effects of the use of contraceptives both from the physical and mental point of view. This has been referred to in very clear terms by the Church to which the vast majority of the people have obedience.

Anything that is unnatural damages our society. The Church has the wisdom of ages as well as the authority of God behind all its teachings but what have the other side to show? They have nothing to show only the evil and disastrous consequences that follow from the wrecking of family life and the complete disorganisation of the family as a unit. Any law that threatens family life— it is already under tremendous pressures from many sides—is a betrayal of the trust the people have reposed in the Government.

One of the arguments made in favour of the availability of contraceptives is that they are available in all the European countries. Would we not be described as good Europeans if contraceptives were not freely available here? Are we to change our Christian way of life, our confidence, belief, trust and faith in the family as a unit, simply because a few crackpots want us to get the title of good Europeans? Why should we have to change our laws, to adopt laws that have proved disastrous in other countries in regard to this matter? This is a question of public morality and, because it is a question of public morality, not private morality, many people in this House have strong religious convictions about it.

I want to express my appreciation of the Fine Gael Party for their wisdom in having a free vote on this issue. It enables us freely to speak and vote on the Bill in accordance with our religious beliefs and our Christian teaching. It would be quite wrong to whip Deputies into a division lobby against their religious beliefs. For that reason, I think the party have adopted the proper procedure because our consciences must be our guide. For that reason also legislators have a very grave responsibility.

Reference was made here this morning to the Bill in relation to the unity of Ireland. Does anybody mean to tell me for one moment that the making available of contraceptive devices in the Republic is going to have the slightest bearing on whether or not the Loyalists of the North want to consider seriously the question of a united Ireland? I speak from my own experience: there are fine Protestant and Catholic people in Northern Ireland who resent being linked with the question of contraception in the South. In my opinion it is an insult to the Protestant people in the North of Ireland to link them, as a part of barter for a united Ireland, with the making available of contraceptives in the Republic. I never read that Doctor Paisley ever advocated that. I never read that William Craig ever wanted it. I never read that Mr. Faulkner ever sought it. This is a concoction by the intellectual politicians of the South to try to hoodwink certain people— that all the Protestants in the North of Ireland wanted us to be buying and selling contraceptives and, when we would do that, they would say we were great people and that they wanted a united Ireland. There may be people in this House who would fall for that kind of claptrap but there are very few intelligent people in the country who would fall for it because all of us know that what these intellectual politicians mean is a gesture to the North, that we should all be using contraceptives because they can use them, that we should all be buying and selling contraceptives because they are on the market in the North of Ireland.

The removal of Article 44 of the Constitution was a gesture and did not improve the situation very much so far as North-South relations were concerned. There have been numerous other gestures. What I cannot understand is the intelligent politician, interested in Irish unity, who uses the stupid argument that changing our laws on contraception is going to change the opinion, or help to change the opinion, of the vast majority of our countrymen in the North into saying: "That is exactly what we wanted, now we are with you one hundred per cent". I feel this is an insult to the many thousand good Catholic and Protestant people of Northern Ireland. In my opinion, it is offensive and the less it is repeated the better because I give the Northern Protestant and Catholic people credit for more common sense and intelligence than that they would be swayed by the availability of contraceptives in the South as a step towards a united Ireland.

Perhaps the Minister for Justice could explain to us, in his reply, why there was not an explanatory memorandum issued with this Bill. This is one of the first Bills I have noticed with which there was not issued some form of explanatory memorandum. The position is probably that there was no explanation to give and that the terms of the Bill were so unworkable they could not be explained. There may have been many good reasons for not wishing to spell out clearly to people the full provisions of the Bill. We have no guarantee that if this Bill is passed there will not be widespread and reckless abuse of its provisions. This is an occasion on which many of us because of our religious convictions—however distasteful it may be—must stand up and be counted. I remember having to make a big decision in this House in 1944 on the Transport Bill—I was an Independent at the time—as to whether or not I would vote for the Bill. I voted against it in the knowledge that I was doing what was correct despite the fact that the vote I cast on that occasion was the means of defeating the Government. I always believed in doing what I felt was right. For that reason, I would be prepared to sacrifice my entire political life in an effort to beat this Bill. The argument cannot be used that I am voting with Fianna Fáil. I am voting against the Bill. It is bad, wrong and dangerous. There may be a number of Deputies here who may yet today have the courage to stand up and be counted because this is a Bill which must strike at their consciences. It is going through this House in the disguise of civil rights.

If there is to be a referendum on this issue, I have little doubt that the people will give a loud and clear rejection of its provisions. Every legislator who values the true Christian way of life has a major part to play here and because of our Irish heritage must make an effort to put this Bill where it deserves to be, on the shelves in the lumber rooms of history. I can see no reason whatever to justify this. The Minister for Justice may argue in regard to the Constitution. This is being freely done throughout the country. It is said action must be taken because of the Supreme Court decision. I have pointed out that the Constitution does not in any way mention contraceptives. Therefore, how does one interpret the Constitution as saying that a certain law violates a citizen's constitutional rights? Article 40 states:

The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen.

The Supreme Court accepted that the rights claimed by Mrs. McGee would fall under Article 41, the article in regard to family rights. These points were accepted by the judges in the majority as the basis for their decision.

There is a point I want to raise particularly in this regard because if the Supreme Court is to rule on personal rights in so far as the Constitution is concerned, we as legislators for the common good of the majority of our citizens must remember that the Constitution has not listed personal rights beyond, in Article 40, the rights to life, personal good name and property rights. There was the 1965 case on fluoridation when the court held that the guaranteed personal rights extended beyond those mentioned in Article 40 and that it is for the courts to discover and to determine what these rights are in any case.

Now, I want to ask if the Minister for Justice has in relation to this Bill examined the rights conferred by Article 40—life, good name and the rights to property—and whether he has decided if this Bill will deprive the right to life. There is ample evidence that the majority of contraceptive devices, not all of them, are also abortion—they are responsible for abortion—and Deputies who try to divorce abortion from contraception cannot do so because it is backed up by the best medical opinion that certain contraceptive devices are and have been responsible for the taking as well as the prevention of human life.

If we are to enact legislation which will deprive life, a guaranteed right under article 20 of the Constitution, where do we stand? The purpose of contraception is to deny life, to deprive life, to take life. Where is our guaranteed right to life? To me it does not make sense but, perhaps, I am not reading the Constitution as a person would having a legally trained mind.

As I pointed out, if this Bill is passed it will deny life which is guaranteed under the Constitution. Is there, therefore, not a conflict? The Minister for Justice pointed out that he had to bring in some form of legislation because of the Supreme Court ruling and in this respect I want to direct attention to and to place on record the views of Mr. John M. Kelly in his document Fundamental Rights in the Irish Law and the Constitution, second edition. He referred to documents examined by him and stated that in 1937 Mr. de Valera, then Taoiseach, had misgivings about entrusting the task of constitutional interpretation to the courts but that he had to confess he could find no better medium than the Supreme Court. It was the Legislature that Mr. de Valera saw as the judge of the common good—this House. I agree that it is this House which should be the judge of the common good. Interpretation of the law is the duty of the Supreme Court. It was believed and intended that the Legislature should be able by its own judgment to decide —not the courts. The courts are there to interpret the laws but have not the responsibility this House carries. The Legislature have the responsibility of working in the public interest and of seeing in the fashioning of laws that the rights of the individual, as an individual, and the rights of the community do not conflict and are properly co-ordinated. That is the legal position.

At no time did this House ever hand over to the Supreme Court the right to legislate. It was clearly the intention of the then Taoiseach in 1937 that such power and authority could never and would never be vested in the Supreme Court. It is, therefore, the duty of the Legislature to legislate. We do not want to see the Legislature so restricted that it will be unable to function properly. That is exactly the position. We cannot function properly as a Parliament because there is a conflict seemingly on this issue of the common good and the individual's rights. We legislate for the common good and that is our duty and we do not want to see the Legislature in any way restricted in that regard.

I cherish the right of Parliament to rule but I deplore a gun being put to my head by anybody from outside as to the type of laws that should be passed in this Parliament. That is what is happening here. To interpret the law is one thing but to tell us what to do is another. That is exactly what Mr. de Valera had misgivings about in 1937. It was never intended and is not now intended, and it never happened in the years since then, that the rights of Parliament were in any way challenged in regard to legislation.

As regards the Supreme Court, it could be that the honourable men who sat on the bench might not, under other circumstances, have given the same decision. It is no harm to mention that the American Supreme Court have also unwrapped the box of privacy in regard to the rights of citizens. This has not come overnight. They found that within it was the right of contraception for the unmarried, the right of pornography and also the right of abortion. These were all approved by the US Supreme Court. If the right of abortion and pornography is given by any three or four men by means of interpreting the law, does it mean that in 12 months' time we come here again and legalise pornography and abortion as we are being driven to do in the case of contraception? We have yet to find out what the Supreme Court may rule in regard to abortion, pornography and other features objectionable to the common good of the majority of our people.

I put it to the Minister that if a case comes to the Supreme Court that a citizen has the right to have an abortion as a private right, does this mean the Minister will come here and legalise abortion? That is what he is doing as a result of the opinion of men outside this House on the interpretation of the law, contrary to what was intended in 1937. The same applies to numerous other rights to which citizens may think themselves entitled. It is farcical; if this procedure is to be adopted we may well have a position here where the citizen may feel that as in Britain, the North and elsewhere he is entitled to have all the legal requirements tied up so that he may be free to have abortion. If the Supreme Court so rules must this House act, knowing that it is contrary to God's law, contrary to the Catholic faith professed by the majority of citizens and contrary to the natural law? Assuming a citizen claims the right to set up a brothel and have it legalised and if the Supreme Court rules that that is a right to which the citizen is entitled, do we come in with a Bill to legalise brothels? This, in my opinion, is the principle that is at stake at present in regard to the issue being debated here.

Humanae Vitae is a document that is more spoken of than read and it is amazing to note the number of Deputies in this House who, without ever having read that encyclical, make scant reference to it. Therefore, I consider it incumbent on me to place on record some excerpts from Humanae Vitae. For example, it contains a passage that is directed to rulers of nations and in which they are told that to them is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. The Holy Father reminds them that they can contribute much to the preservation of morals and he begs them never to allow the morals of young people to be undermined. He reminds them, too, that the family is the primary unit in the State and that they should not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the law of God because, as the Holy Father says, there are other ways by which a Government can and should solve the population problem and he tells them they can do this by enacting laws which will assist families and by educating people wisely so that the moral law and the freedom of citizens are both safeguarded.

I wonder whether Humanae Vitae was examined by the Government when this Bill was being drafted. I know that there are some members of the Government who would be only too eager to examine the encyclical carefully but that there are other members who would merely throw it out the window and describe it as tommy-rot and nonsense. This encyclical was issued by the Holy Father as the Supreme Head of the Catholic Church, that Church in which the majority of our people profess to believe. The Holy Father goes on to refer to the grave responsibility of the Legislature. Are we standing by that responsibility? Are we not reneging on it and running away from it?

Will this Bill not be the means of withdrawing forever any contribution we might make to the preservation of morals in our society? The majority of our young people are doing their best in so far as moral standards are concerned but there are great temptations in their paths. By this Bill we are allowing the moral standards of our people to be undermined. Does this outstanding, intellectual and common sense pronouncement by the Head of the Catholic Church mean anything to Catholic legislators in Ireland today? Is the Holy Father's encyclical to be ignored as if he had not been addressing the rulers of the world which, of course, included the rulers of this country? This Bill is an attack on the family as a unit. It is evil in its conception and design and is an attempt to wreck the family at its foundations.

In that part of the encyclical addressed to rulers of nations the Holy Father advised them not to tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family these practices which are opposed to the law of God. Are we not doing that? Are we not ignoring the advice of the Head of that Church to which belong the vast majority of the people of the Republic?

It is well for our Catholic legislators to realise that they are kicking in the teeth the teaching of their own Church. It has been stated that the citizen has a right to control his family or to have no family if he so wishes and in this context we hear much of bad housing conditions but the Holy Father has reminded Governments that there are other means of dealing with the population problem. We all know that there are families living in accommodation that is not adequate for their needs but we must help to house these people in suitable accommodation. Humanae Vitae does not give us the right to take a short cut to the solution of our population problem by accepting what is unnatural and wrong.

Should this Bill be passed it will be responsible for undue interference with the natural law and with the high moral standard that should prevail in the interest of the common good.

There is a vast difference between private and public morality. This House deals with public morality. Legislators have the responsibility of dealing with the population problem but we have no such problem in this country because ours is one of the most under-populated countries in Europe. What laws have we passed in accordance with the wishes of the Church with a view to educating the people wisely and to ensure that the freedom of citizens and the moral law are both safeguarded? We have not done that. One would imagine that Humanae Vitae would have been the Christian charter which would be a guide to legislators in matters of this kind.

It is right and proper that the quotation which I have given should be on the record because of its truth, its wisdom and its value to legislators. There are none so blind as those who do not want to see. I have often wondered why so many references have been made to Humanae Vitae, why it has been spoken of so freely, discussed so much but read and studied so little. This morning the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs made reference to the views and opinions of a variety of Churches which he quoted from in relation to this Bill. He made very little reference to the statement issued by the Irish Hierarchy last November. Why, I do not know. We can all use our own judgment as to why that statement did not get as much prominence from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs as the other documents from which he quoted.

I want to tell the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and every other Minister that the Irish Hierarchy are all busy men who do not dabble in politics. In the numbers of years that I have been a Member of this House I have had no knowledge of the Irish Hierarchy ever telling legislators what should be done or what should not be done. Occasionally they issue statements as to what the true moral law is in relation to certain aspects of legislation. So it was in November when the statement was issued on behalf of the Irish hierarchy by Dr. McCormack, Bishop of Meath. I quote from the statement:

The question at issue is whether artificial contraception is morally right or wrong. The clear teaching of the Catholic Church is that it is morally wrong. No change in the State law can make the use of contraceptives morally right since what is wrong in itself remains wrong regardless of what the State law says.

Could the bishops put the facts any clearer before legislators in this regard? I quote again from the statement:

The real question facing the legislators is what effect would the increased availability of contraceptives have on the quality of life in the Republic.

That is exactly what we are being asked. Some Deputies say none and they are quite satisfied if their conscience tells them so after full examination of all the facts but in other countries the position has not been satisfactory in so far as public morality is concerned. What effect would the increased availability of contraceptives have on the quality of life in the Republic of Ireland? Some say none. I say disastrous. That is the question that every Member of this House must ask himself when making up his mind to vote on this Bill. That is a question of public, not private morality. What the legislators have to decide is whether a change in the law would on balance do more harm than good by damaging the character of the society for which we are responsible. I readily answer that question by saying that in my opinion this Bill will do far more harm than good and will immensely damage the character of the society for which we are responsible.

There is one other section of their lordships' statement which is very relevant but which Members of this House may not want to hear. It is this:

The link between legislation on contraception and abortion is also significant. Increasingly abortion is being seen as the ultimate method of birth control. There seems to be a chain reaction on these matters by which the first piece of legislation tends to set in motion a process of change which no one can control.

There is the advice of the Catholic Hierarchy in this country, given freely, independently, as a guide to legislators. I have seen it mocked and scoffed and laughed at by Catholic Members of the Dáil, endeavouring to belittle truth coming from men who are charged with the responsibility before God of speaking the truth by word and expressed opinion. I want to warn this House finally that if this Bill is passed it is the thin end of the wedge to complete moral disaster in so far as Irish society is concerned. The Irish Hierarchy are quite right because no matter what the Minister for Justice, or any other Minister, may say one cannot divorce contraception from abortion. The link is there. Medical science has proven that the link is there. It is readily and freely admitted that that link exists. There is ample and clear evidence that increasingly abortion is seen as the ultimate method of birth control.

The bishops are quite correct and any of us who have studied the problem seriously know that that is and has been the position in every country which started off with the free availability of contraceptives. That is the thin end of the wedge and as sure as this Bill becomes law what has been forecast by the Irish bishops will most certainly materialise in the not too distant future. For example, in Britain they had the contraceptives first, followed by the free availability of contraceptives which was followed by the provision of contraceptives under the health services. They now have abortion. The position has become so appalling there that there is a vast lobby in the House of Commons of members of all parties in an effort to change the law in relation to abortion. This lobby built up after these members saw so many dead bodies of children being dumped out in dustbins on corporation dumps every day of the week.

Any member of the British House of Commons will clearly explain the reports being made to him. We have seen photographs and pictures of certain dustbins in Birmingham which contained the tiny bodies of the baby that Almighty God gave life to but which the law of the land took away. These bodies were destined, not for a proper Christian burial, but to take their place with the scrap out of dustbins on the corporation dump. That is a most terrible and horrifying thought for Christian, not alone Catholic, legislators to be paving the way and planning for in our own country. There is no point in thinking it will not come because five years ago who could see this Bill coming before Parliament. Three years ago, or even 12 months ago, no one could see such a Bill being presented to this House.

As sure as this Bill goes on the Statute Books it will be the raising of the latch of the sluice gates of every kind of immorality with the ultimate result of abortion and everything that abortion stands for. Therefore, what the bishops have advised in relation to this matter is worthy of serious thought and expression of opinion. The last paragraph of the statement issued by the Irish Hierarchy last November contains a warning to Members of this Parliament:

The issue before legislators and the people is therefore a grave one. People must try to weigh up all the issues fairly in their own minds, asking themselves what kind of society do they want for themselves and their children.

That final paragraph of the document issued by the bishops is addressed to the Members of this House and to the people who sent us here.

I should like to ask the Members of this House if, when they were seeking votes at the last election, they stood outside the church gates and told the people that if they were elected they would make contraceptives available for all married people, or did they re-echo the sentiment of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Keating, when he said that he would like to see contraceptives made available to all single people. Was that clearly put before the people for a verdict at the last general election.

I respectfully agree with those people who have clearly indicated that the Supreme Court ruling is being used to drive this legislation through. I have already referred to the right to life under section 40 of the Constitution and this is a serious and grave matter in so far as Members of this Parliament are concerned. Because it is so grave Members should pause and ponder before they vote when the Irish bishops have clearly indicated the link between contraception and abortion and, particularly, the fact that the ultimate development of birth control will be abortion.

I hope the Members of this House will weigh this Bill up seriously. It is not a matter of the individual. We are not passing the Bill to provide Mrs. McGee with contraceptives. We are passing the Bill to provide everybody else with them even those who do not want them. We are dealing with public morality, not private morality, and when we are dealing with public morality it is a serious problem on which will rest the responsibility of legislators in this regard.

I accept Humanae Vitae in all its form, because I accept the advice so readily and freely given by the Holy Father, in relation to the granting and giving of God's greatest gift, the gift of life. Legislators so eagerly anxious to prevent the creation of life should bear in mind that after all had our parents used contraceptives none of us would be here today. Life comes from God and God alone. He has the right to create and since He has that right anything which is morally wrong cannot become right by the passage of a Bill through this House. I am voting against this Bill. I would vote against this Bill in any circumstances. I must ask myself whether it is for the good of the majority and I must immediately conscientiously answer that it is not in the interests of the good of the majority of the people in the country. Because I have made such a thorough study of the whole situation I am satisfied that this Bill is the first step towards disaster so far as Irish society is concerned. I hope there will be enough Members of the Dáil to reject this Bill. I think it is bad, immoral, evilly-designed, evilly-disposed, with intent to corrupt the innocent who do not yet realise what the provisions of the Bill mean. Even those who are as yet unborn will fall victims of the legislation which is at present before the House.

Many of us in this country have fought seriously and energetically to keep the country clean. We have had to fight to keep this country clean against the advocacy of every kind of filth published in Irish and imported journals and by the Press, radio and television. It may be modern, it may be what the man of today wants, it may be in the disguise of civil rights but one thing is certain, every Member of this Parliament has a duty, a bounden duty, to protect the morals of the community and the public in general. What is private morality is none of our business but to legislate for the good of the majority is most certainly our business. I conscientiously, honestly, within my heart, sincerely believe that I would be reneging on everything I ever believed in and on the traditions of my own people who went before me if I supported a Bill of this kind that sells out our true Christian values that have been cherished by so many and attacked without effect by so few until recent times when the few who attack true Christian values appear to be led by the intellectuals in the guise of the defenders of freedom of conscience, civil rights and civil liberties. These people are a danger in public life. They may be a danger to themselves in private life but that is no concern of ours. Each man gets his reward according to the labour he renders, but when it comes to sowing the seeds of complete disruption of the family as a unit that is the time when there is a duty on all of us to stand up and be counted.

I oppose this Bill and all its provisions. It is badly drafted, unworkable, ill-conceived, improperly designed and has an evil intention. If I was never a Member of this House, as a member of the Catholic Church with allegiance to Rome, I could not support it. I could not conscientiously say I accept the teachings of the Church of which I am a member if I supported this Bill. Because of the strong conviction of conscience I have in relation to it, I could not contribute in any way towards the implementation of a Bill which is designed to make legal what is unnatural according to the laws of God Who created all of us and Who, at the ultimate end, will be the supreme legislator Who will judge all legislators and their code of conduct. Let us not give scandal because of all sins scandal is, perhaps, the worst and the greatest. Those of us who believe this Bill is wrong will most certainly be guilty of scandal if we support a Bill which we know will not be in the best interests of and for the good of the majority of the people.

I hope this Bill will be beaten. I would ask the legislators to reply to the one question addressed to them by the Irish Hierarchy and that is whether this legislation, weighing up all circumstances, will do more harm than good to the society in which we live. If they calmly study it, they must conscientiously answer that a Bill of this kind is not in the best interests of our present day Irish society and will not be in the interests of the common good but will be a means of planting the seeds of immorality and will also be encouraging and giving State recognition to what is unnatural. They will be recognising as right what the Church in its wisdom through the ages, has taught to be wrong. That is the responsibility of legislators. That is the responsibility which I, as one Member, will undoubtedly exercise here tonight if God spares me until the division bells ring.

When I vote I can set off on the road home with a clear conscience that I have done my job in Parliament, the place to speak, that I have defended the teaching of the Supreme Being Who made me and gave me all the talents that I possess and thank Him for a million times over. Perhaps I did not get very far in the public life of this country but I got as far as He wanted me to go. While I am here in this House, I will be on the list of speakers in regard to what I believe is right and just where public morality is concerned. If the Bill is beaten, I can readily say I contributed my share to its defeat. If it wins, I will go home with a very clear conscience in the full knowledge that I have done my part in advising my colleagues in this House and I will have given the example of the courage of standing up to be counted in the defence of what I believe is a right over a wrong.

I hope my contribution will be accepted in that spirit. I have made it with great respect to the views of all Deputies. There are many Deputies who do not share my views and there are those who will laugh at the views I have been expressing for the past few hours. They are entitled to their views and to their laugh. That is one of the privileges associated with a democratic parliament. I am glad some of the Deputies who have spoken are not in responsible positions where they can implement their views. I hope for Ireland's sake, and for the sake of future generations, they never are.

I believe that the future of this country depends on the creation of a sound public opinion. Before I resume my seat I will make a final appeal to those who can contribute so generously towards the creation of a clean and new climate of public opinion in this country, that is, the Press, radio and television. We need a good climate of public opinion and we need Christian representatives to stand up and be counted in their rejection of any legislation which comes before us which is in conflict with the law of God and the law of man. I hope this Bill will be beaten. It is a bad Bill, ill conceived and evilly disposed.

I should like to preface my brief remarks on this Bill by a reference to the statement this morning of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs when he implied that the lack of contraceptives or the short supply of them in this part of the country was a bar to Irish unity. I recall his statement last week that he was not working for Irish unity so his statement this morning is a contradiction of that. I think he is working towards unity, even if he does not know it, because he certainly has given me an insight into the mind of at least one Government Minister who is charged with the grave duty of bringing about ultimate unity. One may disagree with the Ulster militants, the Ulster Workers' Council or any of the other organisations up there but I suggest their principles are much higher than those put forward by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. They would not sell out one iota of their stand for any sop like a supply of contraceptives. The Minister would be well advised to stop referring to the North because in every speech he makes he is causing more harm and driving us further apart.

I desire that the Deputy would relate his remarks to the Bill.

I will but the Minister made this rather confused statement this morning. In relation to the Bill I believe there are much more serious problems facing the country than a Bill on contraceptives. I appreciate the fact that the Government felt, after the Supreme Court decision, they had to do something and, perhaps, by that very act they have given the Supreme Court an eminence it hardly deserves in the context of this Bill. I can say that in another time, and with different personnel, the Supreme Court might make a different decision. I have no intention of suggesting that the Supreme Court is infallible in its judgment. The judgment it gave could be very wrong but as it is the final arbiter on these matters at the present time we accept it. The Supreme Court made its decision, even though it was not a unanimous one, and the Government felt they had to do something so they brought in this Bill.

I feel the Bill is not workable but the Government probably did their best to meet the position they faced. The atmosphere of the present time has influence on that. For the past few years we have had great publicising of this issue. One wonders how much big business there is behind the whole move? Is the name of the game profits in this case? Have the manufacturers who stand to gain so much played their part in creating this atmosphere and implied that the people want this type of legislation? We had one case which went before the court and the court ruled in its favour.

I do not intend to spend very long speaking on the Bill. I think it is wrong and that the concessions given in it will not make any contribution towards a better society. The Bill will not help to bring about a good common to all. At the same time, I recognise this great temptation there must be for young couples, perhaps whose housing is not all that it should be, or people with different types of problems. We all have problems of different types in different spheres of life, and we have to deal with them as best we can, and do what we think right. This Bill makes no contribution towards a better society. Therefore I intend to vote against it. There has been a campaign on this matter for a number of years. I am afraid that the young people who support this Bill are looking at it as if it will be a panacea for all their ills.

Debate adjourned.