There is a great lack of understanding among the general public on the need for and the effects of the Single European Act. This has been compounded by the conflicting views of various organisations, individuals and recognised expert bodies on the possible effects and ramifications of the Act. We are being asked to ratify a new treaty, a new change in the rules and regulations by which the Community will be governed henceforth. There has always been a commitment by Fianna Fáil to Community membership and we recognise many of the benefits that have flowed from our membership, but we also are not prepared to follow slavishly every dictate that comes from the other states. It has to be recognised that there has been a down side to our membership of the Community and now the danger is that the down side is increasing while the benefit side is slipping away. Anybody watching the evolving situation as far as the Common Agricultural Policy is concerned can easily recognise this. It can also be seen in the percentage benefit flow we are getting from the other fronts, such as the regional fund and the social fund. There is widespread concern over the Government's lack of commitment to protect our vital interests at the formulation stage of the Single European Act.
This is the last chance that the Government get to mend their hand and this can be achieved without losing face by the Government, by the simple acceptance of the Fianna Fáil declaration which goes some way to protect our interests and to guarantee the survival of our economy and the continuation of our independent neutral status. There is resentment at the threatening tones that have been taken by the Taoiseach and some of his Ministers to the principal Fianna Fáil position which sees as its goal the questioning in the minutest detail what is proposed in the Single European Act. It is a nonsense to suggest that our position would be undermined if we do not bend the Oireachtas needs to the demands of the other contracting parties. Some exception has also been taken to the wheeling out of named personages from selected organisations and also the involvement of the EC commissioner in trying to generate a public relations exercise to sell the package to the Irish people. Legislation of such fundamental importance should not be treated in this fashion and in fact the closest scrutiny of the legislation is the only satisfactory way of giving the people an opportunity of assessing precisely what the Government have committed us to.
Clearing the legislative hurdle here in Dáil Eireann, with the Government's ramshackle majority, is hardly a true test of the democratic will of the people and their attitude towards the legislation. The Government should have sought unanimity in this fundamental change in law. This would have been in conformity with the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee, which shared the expression of concern that has been uttered by Fianna Fáil in the matter. Surely if the concerns as expressed by the all-party committee had any substance, and if the Government are stable in their belief that there is no need for fear on any count, then it is no burden for the Government to accept the Fianna Fáil declaration. If the Government see it as unnecessary, then its inclusion will be harmless and cause no difficulty in future negotiations.
If the declaration has substance, then it will secure our economic and political position and will be the bulwark against erosion of our neutral status. All sides have a vested interest in protecting our status position in Europe and it would seem a reasonable request by the major Opposition party in the Dáil to ask the Government to take on board a declaration which will allow the legislation to pass into law unchallenged. The major reservations that the Fianna Fáil Party have to the Single European Act can be summarised as follows: we have a reservation concerning the constitutional implications of this legislation; concerning the danger to our economic interests of the widespread adoption of qualified majority voting on the EC Council of Ministers where Ireland will have three out of the 76 votes and where a qualified majority is 54. We have reservations on the outright liberalisation in economic matters based on the abolition of non tariff barriers which need not be taken as guaranteeing prosperity or greater employment prospects here. The effect that the Single European Act will have on the Common Agricultural Policy is also a matter of major reservation for Fianna Fáil. The Commission is already seen to be dismantling the Common Agricultural Policy and majority voting will increase the pressure of the food importing EC countries on the food exporting countries. This can work to the severe disadvantage of our agricultural exports. There is no doubt that large consumer export countries like Britain and Germany will seek to dominate the majority voting in so far as food production and imports are concerned, in their own interests.
We have reservations as well in that there is no stated intention to improve the EC regional policy, which might go some way to cushion the losses that we are bound to suffer through widespread liberalisation and completion of the European market.
The inevitability of the harmonisation of taxes which must lead to increased food costs and reduced revenue potential to the Irish Exchequer is a matter of reservation.
We also have reservations as to the effect on our military neutrality and foreign policy independence. In relation to constitutional implications the Minister for Foreign Affairs displays a remarkable naivete, when he assures the House that there are no hidden snares in the Single European Act, that we have nothing to fear from it and that it represents no diminution of our sovereignty. Among the inherent dangers in the ratification of the Act is the real possibility that it will lead to a conflict with the fundamental rights recognised in Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution. These rights, notably the right to life of unborn children and the rights of the family based on marriage, are not generally recognised in European law and we have a grave duty to ensure that they are not undermined by the ratification of this Act.
Article 29.4.3 was added to the Constitution in 1972 to permit Ireland's accession to the European Communities, on the basis of Treaties which were limited in scope to the economic sphere and which provided a veto on most important issues. This Article states that no provision of the Constitution invalidates laws enacted or acts done by the State, which are necessitated by the obligations of membership, or prevents laws enacted or acts done by the Community from, having the force of law in the State. The effect of this Article is to givecarte blanche to the European Communities, without any restriction by our Constitution and subject only to the limitations imposed by the Treaties, as interpreted by the Communities themselves.
In the absence of any constitutional safeguard, it is vital that we examine very closely the proposed extension of the powers of the Community institutions. The Irish people would not forgive the Members of the Oireachtas if, through an irresponsible haste to ratify this Act, we handed over their constitutional rights to the European Communities without any safeguards.
The primary aim of Title 2 of the Single European Act is to achieve a harmonisation of laws in the member states on a range of economic and social matters. The possibility that this harmonisation would include an obligation to introduce abortion services into this country is specifically referred to in paragraph 2.32 of the Explanatory Guide to the Single European Act, produced by the Government.
The Government believe that this possibility is removed by the inclusion of a particular provision in Article 18 of the Act which allows a member state to apply national provisions on grounds of major needs on the grounds referred to in Article 36 of the EC Treaty. Following a detailed examination of this provision the Fianna Fáil Party are not satisfied that the proposed remedy is at all adequate for the purpose stated by the Government. We also believe that the Irish people would be horrified to realise that the Government would have us rely on a dubious provision in the Single European Act to prevent the introduction of abortion into this country. The people have voted by a large majority on two occasions in the lifetime of this Government to protect such fundamental rights by constitutional provisions. We must respect that wish by ensuring that the Single European Act could never interfere with these rights.
There are several important reasons why we cannot accept the adequacy of the provision in Article 18. First, the permission to apply national provisions would only apply to measures adopted by the Council by qualified majority under Articles 100A and 100B of the EC Treaty as amended. It would not be available to counteract measures enacted under other social policy articles, measures adopted by unanimous decision of the Council or judgments of the European Court of Justice. The national provisions would have to be justified on the grounds referred to in Article 36 of the EC Treaty. This requirement makes the entire provision ambiguous because Article 36 refers only to movement of goods and does not contain the phrase "major needs". Article 13 of the Single European Act specifies that the new provisions are without prejudice to the original Treaties.
There are no restrictions on the free movement of services in Articles 59 to 66 of the EC Treaty. It is highly unlikely that the new provisions would be interpreted as permitting new restrictions on the movement of services when the whole purpose of the Single European Act is to liberalise the movement of services, capital, persons and goods. This provision could certainly not be relied on to restrict medical services in the way the Government suggest.
The specific grounds cited by the Government as a defence to the introduction of abortion services is public morality. While that might seem reasonable in this country we must remember that it is the European Court that will ultimately interpret this provision. It is very doubtful whether it would accept the proposition that abortion permitted in the other EC countries on health grounds is of itself immoral and contrary to the common good. Any national provisions invoked under Article 18 of the Single European Act would be subject to the judgment of the Commission as to whether they constituted an arbitrary discrimination. Once again, from the perspective of European law the prohibition of abortion could well be regarded as an arbitrary discrimination against women since it does not recognise any right to life of the unborn child. We cannot allow such a vital matter to be subject to the decision of a non-elected executive body such as the Commission.
A further problem with the remedy proposed by the Government is that the application of such national provisions which are in effect derogations would be subject to the rule in Article 13 of the Single European Act which says that all such derogations must be of a temporary nature. The declaration in Article 100B of the EC Treaty which is attached to the Single European Act makes it clear that this rule is of general application. On the question of derogation we should not be foolish in our expectations as to what the EC might allow. We have the recent decision of the Court of Justice which struck down our national restrictions on the insurance business in the interests of free movement of services. The fact that these national provisions were there to protect the interests of the consumer or that the Government had attached a platitudinous declaration to the Single European Act were of no avail.
Another major cause of concern in the Single European Act is the inclusion of a statement endorsing the European Convention on Human Rights in the common preamble to the Act. The original treaties contain no references to fundamental rights as such. Since then however the institutions of the European Communities have adopted a policy of regarding the protection of fundamental rights as an essential part of the affairs of the Communities. They have also seen the European Convention on Human Rights as an appropriate standard for such rights. The Commission and the Parliament are promoting the idea of the formal accession of the Communities to the convention. The Commission is on record as opposing the idea of a member state reviewing any Act of the Communities by the standards of the fundamental rights in its own Constitution. Once again, the uniformity of Community law is seen as the only absolute principle.
Our objection to the inclusion of this reference to the European Convention is that it appears to authorise the Court of Justice to apply the terms of the convention as the law of the Community in regard to fundamental rights. This would certainly lead to conflict with the Irish Constitution as there are important differences in the rights recognised in our Constitution from those of the convention. The principal examples would be the natural rights of the family based on marriage with all that that implies and most importantly the right to life of the unborn child. Under Community law the decisions of the Court of Justice take precedence over the national courts in the interpretation of the law. We must make sure that our Supreme Court is given a proper basis on which to hold that the fundamental rights in our Constitution cannot be superseded by any act of the Communities.
It is ironic that the Preamble to the Single European Act refers to a determination "to promote democracy on the basis of the fundamental rights recognised in the Constitutions and laws of member states". In the Irish context it would have precisely the opposite effect. For these reasons we will be proposing on Committee Stage an amendment to section 1 of the Bill to incorporate a provision that nothing in the Single European Act shall authorise in the State any laws or acts which would be repugnant to the fundamental rights of the Irish Constitution. We see this not merely as a defence measure but as a positive contribution to a true European union.
We believe that the values which are inherent in our Constitution are valid for the whole of Europe and that we would be doing a disservice to the Community in the long run if we allowed these values to be eroded. On the grounds for respect for the Constitution and for the basic principles of democracy we call on all Members of the House to support the amendment on Committee Stage of the Bill. The 1972 constitutional amendment unlocked the door to actions of the Communities which can contravene our Constitution. Now, the Single European Act opens that door by giving the Communities the power to interfere in matters affecting our fundamental rights.
The defence mechanism proposed by the Government as they see it in Article 18 is simply not adequate to protect us against this infringement because of the precedence of decisions of the Community over our Constitution. The Single European Act extends the scope of the original Treaties and it also gives the Community new powers, particularly because of the qualified majority now agreed to enforce the powers of the Community. The endorsement of the Convention on Human Rights gives the Communities a basis for applying the standards of the convention to this country and many of those standards are in direct opposition and contrary to the provisions of our Constitution.
The Fianna Fáil amendment in this matter will give a historic opportunity to Dáil Éireann to protect the provisions of the Constitution which had the support of a vast majority of the Irish people and which had been so infatigably endorsed on two occasions in 1983 and 1986. Not to support the amendment would be an action of gross political omission and a direct affront to the Constitution of our country. It is our duty as public representatives to ensure that this measure is examined in an open and objective fashion, with due regard for its economic, social and political implications for this country.
Our adherence to the goal of working towards greater European integration which we signalled in signing the Treaty of Rome in 1972, was based on the enlightened principles of the Treaty of Rome — regional solidarity and balanced expansion of economic growth in the Community.
In the 14 years which have elapsed since our accession to the Community, many benefits have accrued to this country. Membership has contributed to the modernisation of our agriculture, our infrastructure and the development of modern industry.
From the perspective of developing our trade, it was recognised that the creation of a unified market throughout the EC for the production and distribution of goods was potentially a most significant development for this country.
The goal of economic and monetary union, the goal of free trade in goods within a common customs union, and the ending of all technical barriers to trade — all were highly desirable from the perspective of the Irish economy which depends to such an enormous extent on international trade. Some 80 per cent of our industrial output is exported. Our dependence on the imports and exports of goods and services — at 120 per of GNP — is twice the Community average.
Many foreign firms have located here as Ireland is a very desirable location, being part of a customs free common market. Some 850 foreign enterprises employ about 80,000 Irish people. Some 90 per cent of the production of these firms is exported to the member states. For these firms and for indigenous Irish enterprise, the development of a single European market is highly significant for the expansion of output, sales and jobs.
Indeed, while the establishment of a common customs unions was a most important development, we must bemoan the fact that the recession led to the proliferation of protectionist barriers. Effectively, this has retarded moves towards the development of a truly unified market and a common industrial and commercial policy for the Community.
The continuing existence of different national standards and product regulations, delays at frontiers and the plethora of obstacles to the free movement of goods, all contribute to increased costs for Irish exporters, who have to cross two seas to get to markets.
At the European level, no unified home market with a single legal, administrative and regulatory regime exists. We are, therefore, failing to take advantage of a vast market of 320 million people. Unlike the US and the Japanese, who fully exploit the advantages of their huge home markets, resulting in impressive economic performances, Europe's industrial performance has been sluggish. The Community is lethargic, as reflected in its appalling unemployment stastistics.
These trends are reflected even more forcefully in Ireland. Due to the structural weaknesses in the economy, which include the huge expansion in the labour market, the low capitalisation of Irish enterprise, a low level of R and D, and the relatively under-developed marketing capacity of many firms, certain sectors of the economy over the past decade have been, it must be stated clearly and unambiguously, unprepared for competition. The dilemma this poses for Irish policy makers is heightened by the absence of clear cut policies designed to bridge the gap between the affluent centre and the less-developed periphery of the Community.
For too many firms accustomed for so long to operating in a sheltered environment, exposure to the cold winds of competition in a free trade environment was too rapid. I am not, let me state at once, denying the role of Irish industry to set its house in order, but it would be flying in the face of reality to attempt to deny that the structural disadvantages facing the economy in a highly competitive trading climate have seriously retarded the indigenous industrial and commercial sector. For this sector, conditions have been exacerbated by the failure to respect the principle of regional solidarity in the Treaty of Rome, which calls for a harmonious development of economic activities throughout the member states.
Economic results since our accession, it must be stated bluntly, have been quite disappointing. Production in our manufacturing industry actually grew by roughly half the rate forecast in the 1972 White Paper which was drawn up prior to entry. Growth in industrial production actually failed to match the levels achieved in the sixties. Manufacturing industry in the following decade also failed to achieve the employment targets set in the White Paper. The native sector recorded massive job losses — 40 per cent of jobs in the textile/footwear sector were lost in the decade after we joined the Community; even bigger enterprises suffered with a 30 per cent drop in employment in native firms with over 200 workers, in the metals and engineering, and wood furniture sectors.
It is cruelly clear from our massive unemployment and the steady exodus of people from this country in recent times that Irish industry has not been performing at a level which is sufficient to deal with our grave economic problems.
Economic commentators have pointed to the increased penetration of the Irish markets by manufactured imports. They have repeatedly pointed to the need for job-creating, export-oriented initiatives by native Irish firms, if we are to tackle the problems of high unemployment and the public debt. The need for such initiatives — and the urgency of Government and policy backing for them — is underlined by the fact that foreign investment, while crucial to jobs and exports, has relatively limited spin-off effects for the native economy.
As we discuss the Single European Act, we must be mindful that the development of indigenous industry has been adversely affected by the failure to temper the Community's free market policies with genuine measures aimed at economic convergence between the member states.
It is a bald fact that we in this sovereign Parliament must retain our powers to manage the Irish economy. We have a duty to point out to our partners that, rather than reducing the imbalances between the Community's different regions, the present drift of Community policies is tending to exacerbate regional disparities.
While one welcomes the acknowledgement in the Single European Act of the importance of regional policy, one must point to the views of independent experts who maintain that the revised orientation of the European Regional Development Fund does not amount to a realistic policy for dealing with the economic problems of peripheral areas in the Community, including Ireland.
This is an unpalatable fact which has to be faced. There is a growing imbalance between the less-developed regions and the rest of the Community, which is not addressed adequately in either the Single European Act or in current Community policies. Even the Irish Council for the European Movement which has been enthusiastically lobbying for the Act, bemoans the lack of commitment of resources to fund a realistic policy aimed at economic convergence.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Agriculture seem to have closed their eyes to this situation. Have we reached the stage where being "Good Europeans" is tantamount to blind, uncritical acceptance of Community proposals?
We are elected here to represent the interests of the Irish electorate. It is our duty to point to the implications of the Act, politically, economically and socially.
It is deplorable how certain quarters of the Government, intent on railroading this measure through the Dáil, have represented the soundly based reservations of many people, including Fianna Fáil, as being anti-European.
Let us remember also that the present thrust of Community policies, especially in the vital agri-sector, have moved away from recognising Ireland's special position and that we are faced with trends in relation to the Common Agricultural Policy which pose the danger of a rationalisation of the Community's farm policy. This has implications both for our exports and for the development of the food industry.
Government spokesmen have endorsed the Single European Act, with more enthusiasm than prudence. It is imcomprehensible that they have not sought precise clarification on a number of points in relation to the Act. It is absolutely mystifying that our partners in Europe have not been persuaded by the Coalition to acknowledge the very real difficulties facing the Irish economy, in the spirit of Protocol 30 of the Act of Accession. Problems associated with the liberalisation of exchange controls, such as a possible increased flow of funds from the country and higher interest rates, would also need to be assessed for their possible impact on the economy.
In relation to the financial services industry, it is clear that we in Ireland must safeguard and develop our potential in this area. In relation to the insurance industry, the Government must ensure a derogation for Ireland in respect of the draft services directive for non-life insurance, in line with the recommendation of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the EC. This will provide the industry with the necessary breathing space to strengthen its capacity to cope with increased competition which it will inevitably face.
Considerable comment has been made on the necessity for the completion of the internal market and the possible advantages it might have on the economic situation for Ireland. It has to be borne in mind that some 300 new EC laws or directives will come into force between now and 1992 if the Single European Act is ratified. These new laws deal with every area of our economy and much of our social life as well and they will be adopted by the EC Council of Ministers by means of qualified majority voting. While some of these laws will be of advantage to Ireland, one has to be suspicious that some of them might not be to our advantage. The unfortunate aspect of it is that, irrespective of what the Irish people's attitude towards any of these laws might be and irrespective of what the Government's or the Dáil's attitude might be, we will have no say in the matter as, following the passing of the Single European Act, these directives will be automatically and legally binding on Ireland and the people of Ireland. There will, in effect, be an end to the greatest protection that Ireland has had up to this, namely the veto, which, in fact, made it mandatory for many of the EC policy decisions to be unanimous. This is now brought to an end.
There is no reference in the Government's explanatory booklet to the 300 new EC directives and proposals for directives and regulations as they are set out in the Commission's White Paper on the Internal Market, popularly known as the Cockfield report. There has been no consultation with the Irish interests that will be affected by all these new directives. Perhaps there is good reason for no consultation because if the information were available to the interested parties as to how they would be affected by these directives then there is no doubt that there would be very serious objections raised to the conclusion of this Single European Act.
It will be stated, of course, that each of the 300 new laws will have to come up before the Council of Ministers over the next five or six years and each will have to be decided upon individually, but we have to remember that with majority voting and with certain States pushing for their implementation for their own interests it can be clearly seen that many of these directives will be pushed through much more quickly than if each has to be cleared unanimously as heretofore.
The completion of the internal market directives will impinge on every single aspect of the economic life of the country and will deal with such matters as the common broadcasting area, with controls in advertising and the opening up of new information services. This area might have a very serious impact on the standards applied to Irish advertising at this time. There will, of course, be a new EC trade mark which will phase out all our national trade marks and will bring to an end any support that exists for our now national products in our own retail outlets. There will also be a directive on non-Irish building societies and financial institutions which can result in an increased flow of money out of the country. We will also be denied the right to support Irish industry and there will certainly be a phasing out of state aids for industry and national industrial development grants. It is to be clearly understood that public resources will no longer be used to confer "artificial advantage on some firms over others", to quote from the Cockfield report, page 39. The disadvantage to Irish indigenous industry can be clearly seen from the attitude expressed in the Cockfield report.
There will, of course, be many directives dealing with agriculture and food and related matters and also controls on our public transport system and many new directives as well dealing with standards and specifications of goods and services which might not be to our advantage. The decisions that will be taken by majority vote will certainly be influenced by the larger member states and the big multinational firms will be able to press their demands for standards suited to their manufacturing and economic conditions. The result for small indigenous industries unable to keep up could be catastrophic in the area of job losses and company failures.
One of the very disturbing aspects of the Single European Act must be the question of the harmonising of indirect taxes and the obligation that will be placed on member states once they ratify the Single European Act. Lord Cockfield when he visited Dublin in November of this year made it quite clear that all states would have to move towards a common coverage of goods by VAT and excise duties and that this would lead on finally to common rates of indirect tax. Because of the funding arrangements of the EC it is obvious that the high contracting parties would want the VAT situation to cover the same range of goods everywhere throughout the EC.
Ireland has more zero-rated items for VAT than any country. There is no doubt that with the intention of completing the internal market under the Single European Act inevitably and eventually there would be compulsory extension of VAT on food, clothing, energy and transport costs. This would all have to take place before 1992. One can only speculate on the disadvantage this would be to the Irish State and would lead to very serious price increases in sensitive areas.
Another consequence is the reduction of excise duties on Irish goods to the lower average levels of the EC. According to the Minister for Finance this could lose the Irish Government up to £600 million in revenue alone and how the Minister could even contemplate this type of attitude is difficult to understand. The Minister is understood to have said that he "will continue to support such harmonisation as is necessary to establish and operate the internal market of the EC". Unless the declaration as framed by Fianna Fáil is taken on board, then we can expect no favourable treatment or compensation from the other member states. It is absolutely essential that our special position is recognised in a formal way.
The Single European Act must have serious effects on our military neutrality and foreign policy independence. Title III of the new treaty commits us to develop a common foreign policy with States that are all members of NATO. The statement of the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Toole, in recent times on this matter must be of grave concern to many people, but it is only following similar type statements from his colleagues, Deputy John Kelly and the Minister for Education, Deputy Cooney. The Coalition attitude to neutrality is obviously clear now and is stated as being purely a matter of expediency rather than of principle. That position cannot be accepted by Fianna Fáil. Government Ministers who are prepared to make anti-neutrality statements obviously find no difficulty in accepting the new arrangements of the Single European Act. However, it has to be stated that a common policy with other States by which we are bound by treaty cannot be an independent foreign policy. Article 30 (2) of the Treaty requires us to consult with other EC states and to seek a consensus before deciding our final positions on security matters.
Our wish to further policies on disarmament, our peace initiatives taken alone or in conjunction with other independent neutral states, could be easily frustrated by requirements to consult with States whose interest or initiatives might be seen to oppose. We had a very good example of this in 1982 during the Malvinas war and certainly it is a clear indication that occasions can arise when Ireland would wish to pursue a different foreign policy from that being supported by the rest of the Community states.
Article 30 (6) (a) commits Ireland to the principle that "closer co-operation on questions of European security would contribute in an essential way to the development of a European identity in external policy matters". The word "security" as stated in the Act is without any qualification and must be interpreted to include military as well as political and economic aspects of security. The Act continues "they are ready to co-ordinate their positions more closely on the political and economic aspects of security". This is the presentde facto position of the Irish Government. Following the acceptance of the principle of the desirability of closer co-operation on security without qualification as is stated in the first sentence of Article 30 (6) (a), the second statement can plausibly read to imply that Ireland is not ready, or at least not yet ready to co-ordinate positions on military aspects. However, they will probably be ready sometime in the future. This is accommodated in Article 30 (12) when the foreign policy section will be examined by the EC states in five years' time to see “whether any revision is required”. It may be by that time we will be in a position to undertake the military obligations they would like to place upon us.
Chapter 3 of the Government's explanatory booklet does not mention that the foreign policy section is up for review in five years and that it maybe added to then. Unless the Fianna Fáil declaration is in place there is no way that further involvement in military obligations can be avoided. The Government might choose to give a different interpretation to the particular words of the Act. This is one of the weaknesses of the legislation in that it is full of ambiguity but one thing is sure, that new pressures will be placed on Irish neutrality and on the independence of Irish policy.
Article 30 (6) (b) goes on to commit the State to maintaining "the technological and the industrial conditions necessary for their security". Once again the word "security" is without qualification and must be taken to imply military security. This commits Ireland in effect to be involved, no matter in how small a way in the nuclear military industry as many of the EC States regard the nuclear industry as necessary for their security. Is it any wonder that the nuclear disarmament lobby is extremely concerned about our involvement in this legislation?
It has to be seriously questioned that if the Irish Government in their negotiating processes for the Single European Act really wanted to maintain our strictly neutral status then they could have easily insisted on the inclusion of an essential statement such as "This agreement shall not govern military matters" or "Security for the purpose of Title III shall be taken to mean the political and economic aspects of security only". There would have been no ambiguity in such terminology and indeed that kind of language would have been clearly understood and could not be misinterpreted by any of the high contracting parties or by the institutions of the Community. Quite clearly that would not be pleasing to some of the member States as, for example, the position of United Kingdom thinking in so far as our neutrality is concerned. It was very adequately expressed by the former British Defence Minister, Michael Heseltine, when some years ago he lashed out at Irish neutrality when he was on a visit to Northern Ireland. He stated that the Republic was letting others carry its defence responsibilities and taking advantage of the NATO umbrella. He also stated that there was no way the Irish would be allowed to opt out of involvement in a situation of threat to the United Kingdom or the Community". He went on to say: "They would be invaded if necessary".