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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 6 Nov 1974

Vol. 275 No. 7

Vote 46: Foreign Affairs (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £2,354,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the period commencing on the 1st day of April, 1974, and ending on the 31st day of December, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and of certain services administered by that Office, including certain grants-in-aid.
—(Minister for Foreign Affairs.)

Reading the Minister's speech one gets the impression that a lot of work went into it. Nevertheless, one wonders if in all aspects the work was well directed towards trying to achieve our aims. I compliment the Minister on his expansionist policy in regard to the creation of more diplomatic missions and offices in various parts of the world. This is a good policy. The previous Government always had it as a basic item of policy to expand as much as possible. At the same time, we should be more selective and we should establish diplomatic relations with countries with which we have something in common, such as the former victims of colonial abuse. We should try to have some kind of rapport with the smaller countries rather than the bigger ones. It may be the "in" thing to have relations with the USSR but I wonder how well this will serve this country? Will it mean we will be a more prosperous country or that we can influence Russia towards coming around to a more democratic way of life? I doubt it very much. When USSR staffs came in here I felt we were adding further to our present troubles.

The British are not noted for their lack of cunning in regard to espionage work. In the circumstances it may be necessary for us to employ more police to watch for possible espionage not against ourselves, perhaps, but against some of our neighbours. It is a disturbing thought that we should be drawn into the web of international espionage but that is the situation we may be faced with.

I agree that is may have served a useful purpose to establish a new relationship with the USSR. It will be of mutual benefit to both countries, but having regard to past activities of that country in the international field, we may well be faced with the task of countering moves by the secret services of other countries. We may be drawn into this game of international espionage and I would deplore that situation. I am pointing out to the Minister that when he is opening relations with other countries he should be more selective.

I agree with the move to open relations with Middle East countries. We have a certain affinity with them from the point of view that they, too, were occupied by colonial powers. It is good also that we should open cultural relations with them. The Minister has been criticised for going all over Europe and the US but my opinion is that the more contacts we make in this way the better for us. We cannot be insular. We cannot cotton-wool ourselves against movements and changes taking place abroad and therefore nobody would question the amount of money we spend on international co-operation and the development of our diplomatic service.

At this point I should like to express appreciation of our efforts in regard to the Third World. Our people have never failed to make sacrifices to help those who are less well-off than ourselves. We must remember that two-thirds of the world population are at or below starvation level. We must therefore express appreciation of the efforts of young and not so young people from this country who have gone out to work in Ethiopia and Bangladesh. These efforts should inspire the Government to increase our contributions to the Third World.

That is my contribution in regard to our efforts abroad. It behoves me, as it does every other Deputy speaking on this Estimate, to devote some time to what is happening in our own country. Every morning one hears and reads news of people being killed and maimed and surely one must ask one's self in what way we can bring peace to the six north-eastern counties. It may be true that the British want to leave the North. I believe they do because if the Northern ports meant something in imperial defence plans, those days are gone. There may still be the remnants of the colonial forces among the wealthier ruling class in the North who still exploit the people in the Shankill Road and other such areas. I see some glimmer of hope that the men and women in Shankill Road as well as the majority in the North will begin to see through his exploitation.

Most of us here, when we hear of a man being shot or blown to bits, do not ask what faith he was. We ask rather why these things happen, with fellow Irish men and women continuing to suffer in the North day in and day out without any let-up. There are the same harrowing stories day after day and we have to ask ourselves what can the Government do in this part of the country to bring an end to this frightful situation. It would be unfair to suggest that the Minister is less interested in the situation than I am. I believe he and the whole Government are deeply interested in the North. However, as far as policy is concerned it seems to be a matter of what we are not doing.

Last year I suggested there should be a special Department concentrating solely on the North and on what we can do to help. I believe that in many a good Protestant heart in the North there is a genuine fear that we want to take over. Nothing could be further from the truth but we are convinced that, until we have a United Ireland, we will not have a peace. In the last 300 years there were constant outbreaks of violence followed by periods of peace and then fresh outbreaks of violence.

Any attempt at patching up would only result in putting off the real solution to the problem for another few years, at the end of which time we would again find ourselves back to square one and violence. I commend Deputy O'Kennedy's remarks yesterday to the Minister. He mentioned a possible phasing out with the British offering financial help. There is a distinction to be drawn between the wealthy few and the bulk of the people who work for their living. The wealthy few play on the fear of the others, manufacturing bogies which do not exist, with the intention of preventing unity because they believe that, if there was unity, they would lose their power. They are the élite of the North.

It should be brought home to the majority they have nothing to fear in being brought into a United Ireland and they should be assured that we are prepared to do all we can to enable them to continue enjoying whatever standard of living they now enjoy. Of course, the standard of living would not deteriorate in a United Ireland, with the 32 counties working together. We would share in the expertise of the North and our workers in our much more diversified economy would have something to give to the North. Working hand in hand, without coercion, we could certainly build a better nation, guaranteeing to each individual in that nation a better standard of living and complete freedom of worship.

As far as I can see from the Minister's brief, he did not mention internment. This is a great pity. This is a subject on which there is tremendous unity. The majority in the North abhor internment just as much as we do and abhor events like those which occurred last night in the prison there and a few weeks back. Some women belonging to the majority occupied a building yesterday to protest against internment.

The time has come when the Government must use all their powers of persuasion on the Government of the United Kingdom to show how foolish that Government are in not ending internment. Is there anything which will convince the minority or the majority in the North that there is another future for them beyond that of brother fighting brother, an exercise which only brings misery to themselves and to the country as a whole? The Minister could well canalise all the efforts of the people and those of our fellow-members in the EEC to bring home to them the fact that what is happening in the North is not something peculiar to this island and not something which could not have repercussions outside. The situation is sufficiently serious to engage the attention of the nine nations together in the EEC. The possibility is that Europe may not be healthy while this festering sore exists in part of our country. Some of those interned without trial may be completely innocent of any crime. Most right-thinking people everywhere believe internment without trial is wrong.

The Government should make an effort to bring home to the British Government that they should end internment. It is wrong. It is causing frightful suffering. The vast majority of the people North and South will back the Government if they are successful in bringing the British Government to their senses and making them realise that the first step towards reconciliation between the people in the North is the ending of internment.

I realise that the Government may have a difficult task in getting the British Government to see the light, but this is nothing new. A tragedy of the history of ourselves and our neighbours across the water is the terrible difficulty in getting them to see the light until it is too late. Last week the Taoiseach spoke in Oxford on the theme that British efforts towards Ireland have been too little and too late. As we approach the end of the 20th century, should we not be able to hope for new thinking and a realisation that the relationship between the two countries is different in the 20th century from what it was in the 17th century?

There is an onus on each of us to say how we think we should work towards total unity. I suggested last year, and I suggest again, that there are men and women in the North who belong to the majority who feel that they will find their common salvation in uniting the people who have suffered. In the North they suffered from unemployment and bad housing just as we did down here. These are the things on which the workers North and South can unite. These are the things that really matter. We must build up the economy so that the man in Belfast, Armagh and Portadown, like his counterpart in Galway, Limerick and Dublin, can look forward to peace and prosperity on this island, an island where their children will be able to play as children are meant to play without any fear that, when a child picks up an old tin can, it will be a bomb which will blow him into eternity. We must realise that the families in Belfast or Portadown or anywhere else feel for their children and for their people just as we feel for ours.

When one reads in the papers or hears on radio or television of another man being shot and one is told that he was a Protestant, one knows that the next day one will hear of a Catholic being shot. I suppose in some people's minds they are meant to cancel each other out. That is not civilisation. People who act in that way are acting out of fear. I believe that 99 per cent of people everywhere are against violence. It is repugnant to us to think of a man, or a child, or an old person being shot or blown to pieces. There are other forms of violence which are practised by the "haves" in most countries who want to maintain a system which gives them the best things of life. They are quite prepared to exploit people who cannot get jobs and housing. If there are not enough jobs to go around they say that "our people", as they call them, will get the jobs.

Through a great educated publicity drive we should try to get it over to the people in the North that they are being exploited and that we have no intention of trying to coerce them into doing something they do not want to do. We should point out to them that at the moment they are being coerced by forces using them to satisfy their own ends and using the economic situation to stir up trouble. They suggest that we have got an ulterior motive in seeking unity. We can say in all honesty that we seek the prosperity of this nation. This can only be achieved when the nation is united as one country.

I do not rule out the possibility of the North, because of 300 years of history, being given some recognition for the conditions which have grown up there. If the majority think back on their history they will realise that their forebears preached to us that Republicanism was a good form of government. Through the Department, the Government should set out to prove to the majority in the North that we simply seek the prosperity of the country and that we believe this can only be achieved in a united country. If we were to tear up the Constitution tomorrow this would not impress the majority in the North. I do not know how many people in the North have read our Constitution. Some very good ideals are expressed in it. If they read it they would find in it guarantees which they lack at present.

There is an onus on us to act quickly, not by trying to persecute the people in the North, and not by trying to coerce them, but by trying to show them what we really mean. The Government have been maintaining a low profile on the North, not saying too much in the hope that things would quieten down. This is like suggesting that if a person is ill their must be silence in the house. Unless you get a doctor to try to cure the cause of the man's illness, you are wasting your time.

The Government have a tremendous opportunity to tackle the question of the North. Up to five years ago what happened in the North did not evoke great interest throughout Europe. I am convinced it does now. With the media giving such great coverage to the happenings there, and with Europe shrinking because of the expansion in travel, people in Europe realise that the Northern Ireland problem, the whole Irish problem, is something to which they will have to give more attention. We cannot have a united Europe with the present happenings in the North. With such a great problem there can be no hope of uniting Europe. Some people think this problem is only confined to a small portion of the country but it should be remembered that a world war resulted from an incident in Sarajevo. Then followed the great holocaust of that world war. I am not suggesting that a world war would follow but I believe that European unity cannot be achieved while this frightful suffering continues in the North.

If I am to blame the British I blame them for not being sufficiently conscious of the happenings in the North. I often regret the fact that Britain did not produce a figure of the ability of General de Gaulle who handled the Algerian situation admirably. The British should study his solution to the Algerian crises to see if there is a lesson to be learned from that.

Is the Deputy suggesting that a million Protestants in the North should be sent back to Britain as the French in Algeria were sent back to France?

They were not sent back.

They went back. Is the Deputy suggesting that solution here?

I am not suggesting what the Minister has stated and I am surprised that he is being so petty about this.


On a point of order, Deputy Moore was making his contribution in an orderly fashion until the Minister interrupted and, for that reason, I feel we should have a House to hear these interruptions.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

In the last few minutes the House got a jolt when the Minister interrupted and showed such a colossal ignorance of the Algerian settlement. He tried to suggest that General de Gaulle forced the French people back to the mainland of France from Algeria. Of course, the French did no such thing. If the Minister is so insensitive to such a happening then one despairs at what blunder he may make nearer home. I should like to put it on record that General de Gaulle never did as was suggested by the Minister, force the French people back from Algeria into metropolitan France.

It does not matter very much one way or the other.

The Minister seems to think that it does. The Minister cannot slander a great country like France. For the Education of the Minister, the general brought forward a very fine financial settlement to help the Algerians after the changeover. That is all he did.

What happened to the French in Algeria?

They were not forced out by the French Government. Most of them did go back to France.

That is the point.

But they were not forced back and the Minister should retract his statement.

Does the Deputy wish the same thing to happen in Northern Ireland?

It was the Minister who said so.

Because we have had more interruptions from the Minister we should have a House to hear them.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

On a point of order, I should like to draw the attention of the Chair to the tactical fact that there is not, in my estimation, 20 Members in the House at present.

We have a quorum now.

Is that the Deputy's contribution to the by-election campaign?

We must disabuse the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the attitude of the French towards the Algerians. That may not appear relevant to this debate but the Minister has interrupted me by making this reference. If he must interrupt, let what he says be the truth. I do not wish to be as petty as the Minister but I want to make sure that his unreasonable outbursts are on the record. At the beginning of my speech I praised the Minister. It is easy for one to doubt his ability when one realises that his knowledge of recent European history is so limited. Perhaps he might take time off from his journeys around the world to study this very recent history.

One should not use levity, as he has done, when speaking of the suffering in the North. When I suggested what might be done in order to ease the suffering of the people there, he made a silly remark about Algeria. He then went further and tried to suggest that the French did something they should not have done. I hope the next time he goes to France he will have brushed up on his history and will know more than he does this evening.

There should be a specialised Department to deal with all aspects of the Northern problem. Its prime function would be to set out the problems in the North and show that our aims are for the common good. It would also emphasise that we realise the people of the North have suffered through unemployment, bad housing and other ills similar to those suffered by some of our people here. We should unite to remove these common ills. If we can convince the people of the North that these goals are worth attaining, then half the battle will be over.

The Minister should do his utmost to ensure that the British end internment in the North. The majority, as well as the minority want internment ended. I hope I have made some suggestions which the Minister will consider when dealing with those problems and towards ending the violence which has afflicted the North over the past five years.

Before I deal with the Estimate, has the Minister made any protest about the shooting of the escaped prisoner from Long Kesh last night or does he propose to do so?

No, I have not. I will reply more fully when replying to the debate.

Then I take it that there has not been a protest and there will not be one.

I will deal with that matter when I reply to the debate.

If the Minister does not want to answer at the moment, that is fair enough. I thought I might have been able to avoid going into this matter in greater detail if the Minister had given an answer. I would have gone into less detail if I had known that the Minister and the Government were aware of any particular reason why they should not protest. The conditions in Long Kesh——

The facts are obscured at this point, as the Deputy will understand.

I am sure the findings of the politicians who visited Long Kesh no later than yesterday will be accepted as fact and that the conditions under which the internees are now existing are also accepted as fact. The conditions there are unbelievable and nothing approaching or paralleling the treatment of these internees has been experienced in any part of the world since the concentration camps in Germany.

Except the treatment meted out by the Provisional IRA to the people of Northern Ireland, which is even more lethal than what was done in the internment camps.

The Minister has an obsession about the IRA.

No, only about the murder of Irish people.

He does not seem to recall that the IRA were not in existence when the trouble started. They came into existence in order to defend the people of the Six Counties, and in the minority areas in particular. The Minister and the Government should never forget this. Nobody else should forget it either. When they start talking about violence, they give the impression that violence is coming only from the IRA. We have the sorry spectacle of the UDA—whose offshoots have claimed responsibility for some of the bombings which killed some of our people on this side of the Border—being received by some of the Ministers and the Taoiseach while at the same time not only the Government but the Opposition have refused to take part in a weekend debate in Galway. Their refusal was based on the premise that there would be people there with whom they would not wish to talk.

Do the Government appreciate where they are leading the people? Do they appreciate the manner in which they are blindfolding the people by the suppression of RTE, radio and television, in order to ensure that we do not know what is going on in the Six Counties? Yet, we go around the world, as the Minister has done, settling the problems of other lands while our own people are being treated as no other people have been treated since the last war. There are sow hutches littered over the Six Counties which are far in advance of what the internees are living and sleeping in at the moment in Long Kesh. We will probably hear Mr. Rees this evening telling the House of Commons the difficulties he has had trying to replace the burned down concentration camp which was Long Kesh and, because of all sorts of strikes which are holding up supplies of materials, they have been unable to rebuild as fast as they might. I say now that the sow hutches for which grants are available in the Six Counties— scattered over the fields of that territory—are better than the huts in which our people are lying who were never condemned, tried or convicted of any crime. Likewise, with the people who made their escape last night; they were fired on and one of them shot down like a mad dog.

I have no doubt that the Minister, from his interjection here which I provoked by asking a very obvious question as to whether this Government had made any protest or intended to do so in regard to that shooting, has exposed to me, and I am sure the House in general, his attitude that if these are IRA people that is good enough for them. They are not only IRA people now in Long Kesh and their sympathisers who are protesting about the conditions in Long Kesh. We have the Loyalist people protesting and there was a protest yesterday in the takeover of the BBC building in Belfast. I am sure the Minister must have been educated and edified to some degree if he saw on TV last night even the little we are allowed to see. Some of these women said what they thought about the conditions there and the manner in which their Loyalist family friends were being treated in that hell hole that is Long Kesh.

We have a Government in Dublin not taking the slightest notice of what is going on in this country. Any condemnation is immediately coloured by the obsession that all of this violence would cease, would never have existed and that there would be peace here for ever after if only the IRA would stop their violence. The first thing the Minister for Foreign Affairs must learn is that it is not the IRA who started it and it is not the IRA, by a cessation of their activities, who will end it. He must come to realise what has been accepted down the ages—that Ireland divided, Ireland unfree, will never be at peace. This is something which has been accepted and, unless the Minister and his Government, and apparently those others who have come to believe differently, can show us that that belief has been totally wrong, then there is no reason why their attitude, as a Government, should be as now displayed—that of crawling on their bellies to the British, of apologising for our existence, of attempting to make peace offers to the Loyalists of the Six Counties by changing our Constitution in a way we think they will like. Those Loyalists are as they have always been on the wagon—that there is not an inch, there is no surrender, and there cannot be—in fairness to them—while Britain retains her grip on this country and occupies it, as she does.

The Minister and the Government are doing a great disservice to the prospects of peace in this island by refusing to face up to the reality that while we are divided, while Britain occupies this country, or anybody else occupies it, there will not be any lasting peace, no lasting peace can possibly emerge, no lasting peace can be achieved in any way, no matter how it is connived at, no matter how we may try to sell ourselves out, no matter if we make the offerings to those in the Six Counties in a manner in which we feel would make them like us better. It is like Article 44. It is like the Contraception Bill in this House. More recently it has been Articles 2 and 3. These are of no use whatever. If every Article in our Constitution were changed, if it were scrapped entirely in the morning, it would make no difference. It will not make any difference so long as Britain continues to guarantee her presence and her support financially and militarily to the Six County majority.

In my estimation the Taoiseach has no right, he has no mandate to stand up—nor has anybody else in this House—and say that no putting together of this country will take place without the consent of the majority, because clearly the corollary of that is that so long as Britain wishes, and so long as the majority in the Six Counties wishes Britain to stay, then so long must the minority in the Six Counties be committed to the lack of rights and discrimination from which they have suffered for generations past. When the Taoiseach, or anybody else, says that the majority have the right to decide in the Six Counties, then they are saying that the minority do not have any right and they are immediately on to the very weak ground that any majority in any given area—in this or in any other country —have the right to opt out and stay out regardless of the benefit or lack of benefit to the overall people of that entity. This is, in fact, what the Taoiseach is saying when he talks about the right of the majority and only by their consent. It sounds very good and it is great to say it across in Oxford. It is great to say it so that the people in Belfast may hear it but it does not make any sense without putting beside it the corollary, which is, that the minority who have suffered down the years are to continue to suffer down the years at the whim of the majority of part of the people in this country.

You just cannot get away with it and there is no point in trying to move along in this fashion. Is this bi-partisan policy? Is this what we hear about or is that a myth that has been exploded by the Leader of the Opposition's criticism of the Government in recent days? I should like to know from the Government what is this policy, if they have one. I am at a loss to know what it is. I am certainly at a loss to know what is the bi-partisan policy when I find the Government and the Leader of the Opposition at odds in a particular way in relation to the Six Counties. Yet we seem to have this continued belief that there is this bi-partisan policy. We do not know what is the policy. We do not know what it was and we do not know if it exists now judging by recent happenings and speeches. I say to the Taoiseach and to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that they have no right, no mandate, to condemn the minority in the Six Counties forever to the degradation and discrimination from which they have suffered since the country was partitioned over 50 years ago.

Have the IRA a mandate to speak for them?

They have more mandate than have the people in this House. That is a certainty and do not have any illusions about it.

More than have the SDLP?

For God's sake, they are like the Government. They are prepared to sell out as well.


If the minority fall for it.

Because they have no alternative, just as they have none here at present. They had no alternative and, if the Minister knows his Six Counties history and the background to the Six Counties politics, he must realise that the situation is that no matter how much you may detest the Nationalist who goes up for election, if you are a Nationalist, when it comes near closing time on election day you will go out and vote for him rather than allow the Unionist to get in and the Unionist will do likewise in similar circumstances.

No split votes in the Assembly elections. That alibi went at the Assembly elections.

The Minister should allow Deputy Blaney to continue.

Is not that the fact of the matter or does the Minister really appreciate the circumstances up there? Does he now, by his interjection, indicate that their right, as a Government, and the right of the Taoiseach to speak, as he has spoken, must be paralleled by the question as to whether the IRA have a right. Whether or not they have a right. I say that this Government have not the right, never had the right, never had the mandate to sell out and say that the Six Counties will remain in British occupation so long as the majority, who are enjoying the fruits of that union to the disadvantage of the minority, and some of their own majority, so long as that majority agree that it should be so. Then so long will the minority, and the deprived persons of the majority, be deprived should that be forever. And it will be forever judging by the antics, activities and the lack of foresight or any clear-sightedness on the part of the Government as to what it is all about.

No, we can have our people shot down, shot escaping from the hell hole of Long Kesh and we cannot have the semblance of a protest made from this House, from the Government and, particularly, from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. We just look on with complete equanimity, we regard it as another of these things when the British Army open up and have target practice at fleeing prisoners. We are conditioning public opinion to accept these things as nothing more than daily regrettable happenings of no great consequence. If some of those who are condoning these happenings by their silence, as the Government are doing at the moment, were asked what they thought of the concentration camps in Germany and the extermination of the Jews they would tax eloquent. However, these things are happening in our own land, being perpetrated by a Government who have exercised control over the Six Counties since 1922.

Far from protesting, we on this side of the Border through the agency of our Government are assisting the occupation visibly and clearly, day in and day out. I will give one instance of why I say this. If one goes across the Donegal border at Lifford from Tyrone or Strabane, one is not checked going into Donegal; however, when one leaves Donegal to return to Strabane a check is made by our own gardaí, not by their wishes nor I am sure the wishes of the commissioner, but on the instructions of the Minister for Justice at the behest of the Government.

Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs tell the House why there must be this silly, crazy situation, that our gardaí are used on the frontier post at Lifford to check those going into the Six Counties but are not required to check people who come out of the Six Counties and enter Donegal? I would point out that only 300 or 400 yards across the Border there is a built-in installation with road blocks, traffic lights, sandbags, barriers and the British Army who check people entering the Six Counties to ensure they are not dangerous. They do not check people at Strabane because the British Army could not care less if there was one ton or 100 tons of explosives crossing the Border to blow up some place in Donegal. Apparently the gardaí at Lifford do not have any instructions on this matter. Their instructions appear to be to make sure that nothing of any danger goes into the Six Counties but it does not matter a damn about what goes into Donegal or any other part of the country.

If one goes to Aughnacloy one sees the provocative searching and delaying tactics carried out by the British Army for the last year. Why is it only this route which connects the most isolated county in the Twenty-six Counties that is getting this special treatment? Why has there been no protest from the Minister for Transport and Power who is responsible for tourism, the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Taoiseach regarding the maltreatment given to people in this region who must travel to Dublin or any other southern point? They are subjected to this blackguardly treatment day in and day out. There is no transport other than public transport but that allegedly express service is now getting a very drastic screening. Last week the passengers were put out on the road in the midst of a downpour and were left there for one and a half hours but there has not been a squeak out of the Government or the Ministers concerned.

However, the Government are very concerned to give aid to the occupying forces to down those who do not agree with their occupation and to take every step at their disposal to aid and abet the bully boys of the occupation forces. The latter are specifically assigned to duty on the two points at Strabane and Aughnacloy in order to make life difficult and to dissuade those of us who are in the habit of travelling on this route not to do so. This is what the two hour delay is all about. It is not due to the fact that the traffic is so heavy they cannot deal with it. The point is we have to suffer in silence for anything up to two hours in order to cross from Monaghan to Tyrone on the main route from Dublin to Donegal. It is necessary to carry out a similar exercise, but not to the same degree, when one is leaving Donegal at Strabane; then one will be checked by the gardaí at Lifford Bridge.

This is the nonsense that is going on. This is what the Government are concerned about now rather than exploding into life, telling the British just what they think of them and where they can get off so far as this treatment by their army is concerned. The people being subjected to this treatment are trying to go about their daily business, with no semblance of their being violent people or being associated with violent people. There is not this kind of approach by the Government.

The speeches of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Posts and Telegraphs, not to mention the Minister for Justice who carried the can in Cork for his little contribution, indicate that it is evident the Government are imbued with the idea that we sell out our aspirations to unity, to abolishing Partition and the occupation of our country. It is obvious the Government will do anything they can to help the British Government. We will make offerings of various kinds, will make noises to try to assure the extreme loyalist in the Six Counties that we do not mean him any harm. We might as well whistle jigs on a tombstone so long as Britain continues to guarantee she will stay in the Six Counties; they need Britain so long as she is prepared to dip into her pocket and to send in the army to quell the rows that extremist element will have started.

We have joined this peace brigade, the so-called effort to bring peace to the Six Counties, by giving in to the very people who from the outset by their violence and their exercise of a bluff in the last 60 years have brought about a situation where this Government and the British Government are prepared to concede that the bullying tactics and the discrimination that have been practised must and will continue, aided and abetted by any forces at the disposal of the two Governments. That is what is happening. I can scarcely credit the Government have so blinded themselves to the realities of life that they missed the point, that they are participating in a continuation of all that is worst about Partition and discrimination in the Six Counties. Their whole outlook and their antics indicate that they are prepared to settle for a continuing of that situation so long as they can prevent any of the trouble crossing the Border into the Twenty-six Counties.

We hear a great deal about coercion. I am sick and tired listening to those of Church and State who say that we cannot bomb a million Protestants into a united Ireland. Who asked to bomb them into a united Ireland? The people who pose that question have not the slightest regard for the 500,000 Catholics who, literally, have been bombed into the conditions of the Six Counties and kept there or for the other 500,000 people who are living in the counties adjacent to the Border and who, apart from the discrimination factor, are affected as much by partition as are the Catholics who are inside the Border area. I would be prepared to agree with the sort of outpouring of goodwill which says that it is not possible to bomb a million Protestants into a united Ireland were it not for the fact that by so saying we are concluding that it is all right to have bombed the other million people into circumstances which keep them in subjection, divided and deprived because of the unnatural division of our country. That is the other side of the coin and there is no point in looking at it as if it were a two-headed penny. The Government are prepared to leave in a state of siege the one million people who make up the Catholic population inside the Border and in the adjoining counties. All of us who live near the Border know the effects of Partition. Apparently, the Government's attitude is that it is all right to leave the situation as it is because it has been that way for the past 50 years. The minority in the North are not prepared to remain that way and that is what the trouble is all about. The eruption in 1969 was the result of long suffering. Time and again there had been eruptions but these had fizzled out. However, the trouble is not fizzling out on this occasion and even if supressed will re-emerge in a very short time with much greater and much more severe consequences than we have witnessed up to now.

Let us realise what is the situation. Let us consider what the children who are now 10 or 11 years old have gone through in the past five years. We must realise how they have become hardened during that time and, then, remember that we, as a Government, are prepared to condone a continuance of the circumstances that brought about the troubles that have been experienced since 1969. It should be clear that we are sitting on a massive powder keg in so far as the future in the Six Counties is concerned. It will explode as it has never exploded before unless our Government can get the ear of the British Government who, no doubt, have their ears wide open but are hearing nothing from here by way of advising them that, down through the years, having tried so many different ways of dealing with the problem of the North, they try the one and only way which, ultimately, can bring about the beginning of the end of the violence, ultimate peace and eventual unity. That is, that they get to hell out of this country. They must be told that but it is my opinion that for some time past they have been flabbergasted in so far as our Government are concerned, a Government whose role traditionally would have been to demand Britain's withdrawal. Any semblance of a suggestion that the British might withdraw gets from Dublin the first whimpering as to why they should not go.

I agree that the problem is a horrible one for any Minister or any Government but I suggest that what the Government are doing and what they are failing to do is adding to the dangers that exist in the North, that it will add to the possibility of the trouble escalating in the future and acquiescing in the occupation of our country is not the answer. The answer must come ultimately from Britain but we are being far from helpful in bringing her to the conclusion that she must go.

We have, too, the low profile attitude of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. What is meant by that? To me and to those who know a little more about what goes on in the North and, perhaps, who hear a little more because, obviously, our sources of information are not the sources that are available to the Government, the low profile attitude really means that you keep from the people of the South in so far as possible all information in regard to the dreadful happenings in the Six Counties and that if, occasionally, as may happen, some brave or some stupid spirit, may move our media to leak a little information as to what is happening, that spirit is rapped.

We witnessed this in relation to the "7 Days" programme televised a short while ago and in which an effort was made to give our people a little of the background to what is happening in the North and to let them see how the mothers, wives and children of those interned in Long Kesh are being affected. On the morning after that programme was shown there was commanded a reshowing for the benefit of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs who saw fit to order a special inquiry into the showing of the programme which resulted, I understand, in people being fired for their temerity in endeavouring to show a little of what is going on in the North. I would not mind if the goings on up there were none of our business. They are very much our concern and we should not depend on what is handed out from the army propaganda machine in Lisburn but should be made aware through our own media of what is happening. Surely the least we might expect to see are programmes that would balance what is issued from the propaganda machine in Lisburn, an office that is working overtime on behalf of the British Army and the British commander of the forces in the North. Apparently, however, such a balance is not on and anybody who attempts to unfold as much as the slightest bit of information is knocked on the head as a warning to others not to attempt anything of the kind in future.

At the same time, we have the liberal minded Minister for Posts and Telegraphs continuing to pursue his ambition of another channel so that we might be better informed as to how our neighbours live across the water and elsewhere. He is negotiating with the BBC to link up one of their channels with ours. I wonder whether, two days after the "7 Days" programme was shown, the Minister who, in the meantime, had ordered an inquiry to be carried out, saw an Ulster Television programme on internment. If he did I imagine that he must have felt very badly because the subject on that occasion had been probed much more deeply than was the case of the "7 Days" programme. This programme was shown on the BBC, on the channel with which our good liberal minded Minister is attempting to link us.

How can the Minister for Foreign Affairs deal with the problem of having a Minister for Posts and Telegraphs who raps the home station for showing anything concerning internment or any other happenings in the Six Counties but at the same time proceeds to make a deal with the BBC regarding a linking up of channels? If that deal is completed, it will be irrevocable and the Minister will be in an awful fix since he will not be able to censor what is shown by the BBC. If he is in any way consistent, he must declare either that he was wrong for having knocked RTE or that he is totally wrong in being so liberal as to link us up with the BBC the only people in the TV world now who are showing us anything. We know what we get from the BBC. When they are concerned themselves they will not show us in the best light; they will not show themselves in a bad light but nevertheless it is regrettable to say that we get more on their screens of an insight into what is going on in the Six Counties than we get from our own television service. That is not through any lack or wish on the part of those working in RTE but as a direct result of the direction, suppression and censorship that has been imposed severely on this organisation by the present Minister—there is no point in blaming him alone—with the complete agreement of the entire Government. While we may castigate the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, who is responsible in a direct way, all of the Government undoubtedly agreed to this suppression of what is happening in the Six Counties. They agreed to it and no doubt have given him the OK to go ahead and "wallop" away in his own way.

Another matter I would particularly like to emphasise is that I sincerely hope the Government will not proceed blindly and stupidly with their often talked about common law enforcement area. This would be the greatest sellout of all time for the reason that if there is to be a common law enforcement area we could only consider such an eventuality if such were to be proposed between two equal partners so far as the enforcement of that law is concerned. We could not touch the Six Counties on such a basis while their law courts and their method of handing out justice is so blatantly unjust and unfair, as has been displayed over the years.

Surely the Government cannot contemplate a common law enforcement area wherein, by whatever device may be used, people are tried by the courts of the Six Counties and expect to get justice particularly in so far as offences connected with political outlook are concerned, when we know justice is not to be had there. This has been commonly accepted and yet we still hear rumblings that the common law enforcement area is something that should be proceeded with. I ask the Government not to do this, not to agree to it. People cannot expect a fair trial from the courts of alleged justice in the Six Counties. This will not happen while we still have occupation and all that goes with it. I hope the Government will keep that in mind and not let themselves run away with the idea of wiping Articles out of the Constitution, or setting up new types of machinery to deal with cross-Border offences and so forth. They should not run away with this idea of common law enforcement, with courts trying people in the Six Counties for crimes committed there, or people from down here; they should not expect that this could work or that justice would be done. The Government must realise that justice would not be done and that any such common law enforcement area would be another pandering to the extremists who have suppressed the minority, degraded them and discriminated against them down the years.

I would like to ask the Minister and the Government why they did not come to Galway to meet these people who are of no different ilk to some of those the Ministers and the Taoiseach met? Why were the "7 Days" team and the "Féach" programme team warned off at the last moment and told to drop all their arrangements?

The Deputy will appreciate that that matter is for the administration of another Department.

Yes, this is true but the members of the various organisations from the Six Counties—which is regarded for the purposes of this debate as coming under Foreign Affairs, were in Galway to talk with anybody who would talk with them. There was nobody from the Government to talk to them and they were not allowed to get any coverage from the national service of RTE despite the fact that much time and money was spent in setting up full coverage for that weekend.

On a point of information, the Deputy is perhaps under a misapprehension. Northern Ireland is not regarded as coming under Foreign Affairs. What is under this Vote is our relations with the United Kingdom Government. The Deputy may, perhaps, think that this is a debate on Northern Ireland. He, like myself, would naturally want to refer to our relations with the UK as they relate to Northern Ireland.

I get the subtle difference.

It is what I am responsible for that this Vote is about.

Of course, the Minister is responsible for so much else outside this Vote that if we were to talk about all those matters we would need several debates to cover them.


Deputy Blaney in possession.

The Minister should not be so touchy about this matter. If it has turned into a debate on the Six Counties—it is a contradiction, of course, because I do not regard the Six Counties as a foreign country; I never have and never will—the circumstances of the time are such that it is the one platform in this House available to anybody who is concerned about the matter to discuss it. There is no more opportune or appropriate time to discuss it than today, the day on which some of our people were shot down by the British Army. They were no doubt shot in the back as happened before. There is not even a whimper from the Government by way of protest as to what was the cause of this; no question asked why conditions in Long Kesh are as they are, or if they are to continue as they are when even pigs in the Six Counties have better housing than the prisoners in Long Kesh or in some parts of Magilligan Camp. According to the most recent information I got today, the priest who went to give the Last Rites to the man who was dead before the priest got there, saw eight or ten men stretched against the wire who obviously were badly bleeding and had been beaten sick. We do not mind about that. They are behind the wire in Long Kesh and the British Army are taking care of them so they are out of our hair. So long as they are kept inside the wire up there they are not likely to bother us down here.

This is something we should be concerned about. Our Minister for Foreign Affairs should be knocking at Mr. Rees's door and should be talking with the people in Westminster, telling them we cannot stomach this any longer, that we are not prepared to go on collaborating and helping the occupation of the Six Counties that is producing this sort of violence in our midst to our own people. He should also be talking about an ex-Member of this House. What has the Minister done in regard to the incarceration in Long Kesh concentration camp of an ex-Member of this House, John Joe McGirl? Has he any information on him? Is it not a scandal that a man who is obviously regarded as quite clean by the authorities here goes across the Border for a peaceful meeting at which he is to speak, that he is picked up, that nothing in his speech could be regarded as a case against him, that no case was made against him and that since then he has been flung into Long Kesh like other interness? Surely the Minister must draw the line somewhere as to the extent to which he can ignore such happenings? Surely this is a typical case in point, an ex-Member of the House crosses the Border——

Was the Deputy not responsible——


Deputy Blaney, please.

For the Deputy's information, he was not interned in 1957. He was interned in 1940.

What Government was there at that time?

Let us not go into what party did what——

The only party that ever interned over the last five years was the Deputy's.

This old chestnut is pulled out every time the Government Ministers' backs are to the wall and they have not an answer to what is being asked. They then point to somebody else having done this or that.


Pontius Pilate.

The Government are interning people today just as truly as they were ever interned except they put the gloss on it that the present Minister helped to push through on the night on which the UDA's associates bombed Dublin and bombed the Minister's party into supporting the then Government to put through the special powers that are now being operated by the Special Courts. They are the interners on this side of the Border—have no doubt about it.

Deputy Blaney spoke——

Deputies will have an opportunity of making a contribution.


I did not say the UDA. I said the UDA's associates and I do not take that back and it is not necessarily inconsistent with it being the SAS. The Minister may not sit there smilingly washing his hands in public and proclaiming himself as having never interned anybody. Of course, people are being interned here at the moment just as truly as they are being interned in Long Kesh. The Minister is merely being childish or facetious in this public washing of hands, saying that he never did any such thing. He is doing it at the moment. He is doing it through his Government and the agencies set up under that iniquitous system which was passed by virtue of Fine Gael being bombed into the division lobbies to support the then Fianna Fáil Government in putting through this law.

On the same night you will recall that the man who is now the instrument, the Minister for Justice, then Deputy Cooney, was one of the people who would not under any circumstances support the measure then. It is amazing what a job and what the eye for power can do to a man that he can change so much.

It is amazing how the Deputy has changed his attitude to internment.

Deputy Blaney should keep to the Estimate before the House.

I can speak for myself. I was just wondering how this change comes about, that the very man who was opposed——

The Deputy should keep to the Estimate.

——is now the instrument for internment here.

That does not arise.

I suppose it does not and I suppose the rules of the House are the skirts behind which the Government at present can hide themselves from any real criticism of their misdeeds regarding their lack of concern about the tragedy that is the Six Counties today.

Did the Deputy not share a platform with a communist?

The Deputy should allow Deputy Blaney to speak.


As the first citizen of Galway, and a man for whom I have the greatest respect as first citizen——

I refused to accept the invitation.

The Deputy was all too happy to come to this gathering until he was dictated to from Dublin and told to stay back.

I was not and never accepted that invitation.


If there are further interruptions, Deputies interrupting will have to leave the House.

I was merely making an explanation, not interrupting.

The Deputy will have an opportunity to speak if he wishes. The Chair will protect the rights of all Deputies to speak. Deputy Blaney, without interruption. The Deputy has ten minutes left.

That is more than enough. I do not want to rile these people any further. They are sufficiently ruffled for this evening. Out of that condition I hope some little spark of common sense will emerge——

By having nothing to do with you.

The Deputy must allow the Deputy in possession to speak without interruption.

The Deputy is being provocative.

The Deputy should obey the Chair and take no notice of any other Deputy.

I shall not broaden my contribution to include anything but what is our immediate concern. I do that deliberately to focus, to the best of my ability, the eyes of this House and I hope the eyes of the public on the sorry and sad plight of our Six Counties and the abysmal performance of our Government in the face of the troubles and difficulties there. Through this House I would ask the public not to be deterred or persuaded by any glib talk of the Minister's no matter how ably he may put it across and not to believe that we can continue to turn our back on the Six Counties, ignore them and try to believe that they do not exist, that their troubles are not our troubles, that the people there are not our people, that they are far removed from us, that we can devote our time and energy to looking after the downtrodden, the depressed and the hungry in the other corners of the earth but under no circumstances do we look to see what is going on up there.

I hope the public are beginning to shed the scales from their eyes and wake up to the fact that the Government will not do anything other than what they have been doing which is not seeing or hearing what is going on there. The public will have to try to find their own means of helping to change the situation by bringing pressure on their representatives in the Government—or out of it—to impress on them that the public are not being properly represented in that they are concerned about that part of our country and its people. We can at least hope that this is something that will emerge and that the horrible happenings of this morning and the horrible situation that is Long Kesh concentration camp will get through to our people and that they, who have always been generous in helping lame ducks of whatever origin, will clear their minds of the propaganda pumped into them in recent years about not concerning themselves with the Six Counties, that it is a bad thing, something remote from us and that our one concern is to ensure that none of it overspills to this side of the Border and that so long as that happens we should be quite happy and have achieved something. While the Border is the cause of the trouble, there can really be no Border inasmuch as these people are Irish. They are our people and our responsibility. Therefore, we should not ignore the situation and any Government that would lead the people into the belief that it can be ignored are building up a hell of a kick-back for themselves in the not too distant future.

Are we to take it that the Government will awake from their slumbers by virtue of the bloody murder of this young man this morning, by virtue of the shock it must be to them, having forgotten the massacre on Bloody Sunday in Derry? We must be conscious of the facts now emerging from Long Kesh, of the brutality that has been used on other prisoners today, left hanging on a wire, as it were, beaten half to death and bleeding, while we do nothing.

What a marvellous job the Government have done in averting the people's minds from happenings in the Six Counties? The people have been largely brainwashed into the belief: "All right. It is happening, but it is not on our doorstep." We do not associate the happenings in Belfast with happenings in our land. This turning away of people's minds from the North is a cruel thing and must be undone. If the Government are not prepared to do it, the happenings of today will do it and undoubtedly will also undo the Government. They cannot ignore the long-held belief that Ireland unfree will never be at peace. By their policy of ignoring the Six Counties, with the idea that it is all right as long as the trouble does not overspill into the Twenty-Six Counties, the Government are perpetuating the festering sore that is the Six Counties, the dividing of our people. Until they get wise to the idea that this is a wrong role they are playing, then I humbly put it to the Government that there cannot possibly be any hope of a change in the circumstances of the Six Counties.

Until the Government get a change of mind and go after the British to do what they must do eventually, to declare their intention to go in advance of their actual going, there is no hope of our beginning to discuss our future North and South both as a people and as a country, whereby we can look forward to some peace and, I would say, eventual unity. There is no prospect for peace on this island unless the Government tell Westminster where they belong, back in their own country, with their Army, that this is our country and our people. Then we can begin solving the problem after they have decided they are going. This is absolutely essential and no headway can be made while they remain in Ireland.

When the last speaker started I expected that he would produce something constructive in the matter of Foreign Affairs. I have rarely listened to a more depressing speech, a speech with such lack of hope, a speech which does nothing to deal with the frightful difficulties concerning the North. I do not like to be personal, but were I to summarise his speech I would say it was rather like "Little Jack Horner". This has become almost a monthly occurrence in this House, and instead of negative speeches in matters about the North one would hope for a little bit more positive thinking. Deputy Blaney has persisted in his line and has given nothing new to the House. If I were a complete stranger, not having heard Deputy Blaney another time, I would believe he came into this House to advocate violence, though in his last few sentences he somewhat redeemed himself.

On the same issue—and I want to depart from it as soon as possible— a statement was made, I believe, by the spokesman for the Opposition to the effect that England wants to get out of the North. I am speaking personally on this matter and I must say that in any meetings I have had with British politicians—and they have been informal—I never got that impression. Indeed, I got the impression that there is no difference between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party in England in their wish to stay on and keep the North as part of the United Kingdom.

Debate adjourned.