An Bille um an Deichiú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1987: Dara Céim. Tenth Amendment of the constitution Bill, 1987: Second Stage.

Tairgim go léifear an Bille don Dara Uair.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

The decision of the Supreme Court that it is not permissible for the Government to ratify the Single European Act without further reference to the people has required a clear response from the Government. We decided therefore to resolve the problem which has arisen in regard to our position in the European Communities by taking the following measures: first, we informed our partners in the Community of what had taken place and how we intended to proceed. Secondly, we are asking the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency to enact the necessary legislation to enable the people to decide by way of referendum to authorise the Government to deposit the instrument of ratification with the Italian Government as stipulated in the Act. Thirdly, we propose to deposit alongside the Instrument of Ratification a Declaration by Ireland recalling the special consideration given to Ireland's need for industrialisation and economic development at the time of accession and set out in Protocol 30 and our understanding that our policy of military neutrality is not affected and fourthly. I wish to invite the Leaders of the other parties in Dáil Éireann after the referendum has taken place to discuss the wider implications of the judgment on the ability of the Government of the day to conduct foreign policy and to consider what further action, if any, might be undertaken.

The House will be aware of the immediate background to this Bill. On Thursday, 9 April, the judgments of the Supreme Court in the appeal by Mr. Raymond Crotty against the judgment of the High Court in the case he had taken in regard to ratification by Ireland of the Single European Act, were made known. The court upheld the constitutionality of the European Communities (Amendment) Act, 1986—which now forms part of our domestic law — and, in doing so, upheld all but Title III of the Single European Act. However, the court declared, by a separate majority decision, that ratification of the Single Act, in so far as it contains Title III, is impermissible under the Constitution and that it could only be ratified if an appropriate constitutional amendment were made.

The result is that Ireland is not now in a position to deposit the instrument of ratification of the Single Act. This gives rise to a serious situation in the Communities because Article 33 (2) of the Single Act provides that it will enter into force on the first day of the month following that in which the instrument of ratification of the last signatory state is deposited. The entry into force of the Single Act for the Communities cannot therefore take place at present. Because Ireland cannot ratify, the other member states cannot proceed to operate the provisions of the Act even though they have all ratified and wish to proceed with its implementation.

I told the House on Thursday week last, in replying to Special Notice Questions about the court judgments that the Government's proposals in regard to ratification would be put forward as soon as we had had an opportunity of considering the terms of the judgments and that, in the meantime, in view of the gravity of the issue, I proposed to invite the leaders of all the political parties in the House to meet me individually to discuss the implications of the decision of the court. Those consultations duly took place and I wish to place on record here my thanks to the other party leaders for the constructive manner in which they approached those discussions. The Government, taking account of the consultations with party leaders and of legal advice, have considered the matter as expeditiously as possible consistent with the need for care. We have decided to proceed in the way I have outlined.

In the course of supplementary exchanges here on 9 April, I acknowledged that we had a responsibility to our partners in the Community to take expeditious steps to enable the Single Act to come into force. We were also conscious of the possible reactions to the further delay. We, therefore, informed our partners of the court judgments and the implications and gave them an indication of the Government's intentions. My reply to the questions here on 9 April was communicated by our Ambassadors the same day to the Foreign Ministry in each Community capital and, on the following day, Community Ambassadors in Dublin were given a briefing in the Department of Foreign Affairs on the basis of preliminary decisions by the Government. Immediately the court judgments were delivered, I explained the situation to the current President of the European Council, Mr. Wilfried Martens, the Belgian Prime Minister. I expressed to him our disappointment over the delay and my appreciation of the situation of the Belgian Presidency. Over the following two days I spoke personally or communicated with the Presidents of the European Commission and of the European Parliament, President Mitterrand of France and the Heads of Government of each of our partners. I may say that the general reaction of all those to whom I spoke was one of sympathy and understanding. I wish to avail of this opportunity to express, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Government, our appreciation of this attitude by our partners.

I believe the Dáil will accept that the Government have acted with expedition. If the previous administration had proceeded with the necessary steps as soon as the Single Act was signed in February 1986 things would have been more satisfactory all round. It is not simply the fact of our membership that is important: we must be concerned with the quality of our membership. It is vital that we be seen to be a country that honours and delivers on any commitments it enters into.

I and other Deputies pointed to the dangers that were involved during the debate on the ratification of the Single Act. On 9 December 1986, I drew attention to the danger of constitutional challenge and to the serious consequences which could result. I queried whether it was wise for the Government to proceed with the Bill then before the House and with ratification without putting the matter beyond doubt by way of referendum. I pointed out that the Government were taking a casual attitude to a matter of very great importance and significance. I said that "a far better and wiser course would have been to have held a referendum earlier this year and put the matter beyond doubt or challenge".

The former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Peter Barry, however, said in opening the debate on that occasion at column 1904 of Volume 370 No. 9 of the Official Report for 9 December last:

The Government are also satisfied that ratification by this country of the Single Act does not require an amendment of the Constitution.

This was in line with the view expressed in the Explanatory Guide published by that Government. Paragraph 4.15 of that publication stated:

It is not considered that the provisions of Title III give rise to any constitutional difficulty.

Fianna Fáil have adopted an entirely consistent approach to the overall development of the EC in recent years and to the Single European Act. As I said in the Dáil on 9 December: "Both in Opposition and in Government Fianna Fáil have been totally committed to and active in developing Ireland's membership". We were critical of some aspects of the way our EC negotiations were conducted in recent years, which seemed to be based on the assumption that we were not entitled to press our case within the EC and that we had to accept passively and uncritically what others wanted or decided. Each member state has its own special characteristics. Ireland no less than other nations. All member states bring such points to bear in EC negotiations, and are fully entitled to do so. Facile phrases have been used to denounce any vigorous assertion of Ireland's interests, but a balanced development of the Community, which is what we consistently and legitimately seek, is in the interests of and absolutely vital to the progress of the Community itself.

Fianna Fáil were critical of some aspects of the way the negotiations on the Single European Act were conducted. Even at the time when our predecessors brought the Act forward for ratification, we were already presented with an unwelcome choice. As I said at column 1914 volume 370 of the Official Report:

It is not possible, now that we have arrived at the ratification stage, to reverse what was agreed during the negotiations. What we must try and do now is preserve what we can in the new situation.

What was true then is, five months later, even more true today. Throughout the rest of the Community, the constitutional procedures for ratification have been completed; the Act has been approved of by the Parliaments of all the member states. We cannot now reopen an agreement negotiated, signed in good faith, and passed by this House without causing disruption in the Communities and doing damage both to our reputation and to our vital interests. We would be in breach of a solemn undertaking on a major matter of policy given by an Irish Government. That is not the way for Irish Governments to act in international affairs. Over 12 months ago the Danish Parliament voted to have the Single Act renegotiated. The other member states categorically refused re-negotiation and the matter was then put to the Danish people in a referendum, and the Act was approved. It would be seriously detrimental to Ireland's interests now to go through the motions of fruitlessly seeking renegotiation or alternatively to opt out from the further development of the European process. Likewise, after we have held up the rest of the Community for several months, it would be unacceptable for us to adopt a dilatory approach. It is, however, perfectly legitimate for us in clearing the constitutional obstacle to the ratification of the Single European Act to make clear to our partners the spirit and understanding in which we do so without in any way cutting across the Act itself.

The Oireachtas joint committee, in paragraph 75 of their 1985 Report No. 14 on the European Parliament's Draft Treaty of European Union, said that they "would see a two-speed Europe as vitiating the essential cohesion of the Union". In paragraph 84 of the same report, the joint committee stressed the disadvantages of Ireland's exclusion from an eventual union and how enlargement of the Community to include Spain and Portugal would make any such exclusion even more anomalous. They said:

The Joint Committee considers that of all the vital interests that must be defended within the Community none is more vital than Ireland's continued membership itself.

The committee were referring to the evolution of the Community towards a form of European union much fuller and more integrated than what was subsequently incorporated in the Single Act. Their conclusion, nevertheless, is clearly applicable to our position in regard to the Single Act. The Act represents a further step in the evolution of the Community. It is the outcome of a process in which the political leaderships of the member states have made a major political investment. There is no going back at this stage; no question of re-negotiation. The only realistic course open to us is to ratify and on that there is agreement by parties in the House representing in total about 95 per cent of the electorate.

Even though the Supreme Court found the Single European Act in so far as it deals with economic development and matters other than political co-operation in conformity with the Constitution. I would, nevertheless, like to make a few remarks about those economic aspects of the Act. Our concern about the economic aspects of the Single European Act was that in the process of completing the internal market adequate attention should be paid to the problems of the less developed regions away from the centre, and that without such attention some of the steps envisaged would be impossible for us to implement. We welcome the broad principles behind the Commission document "Making a Success of the Single Act" and the emphasis placed in it on bringing about the growth and adjustment of the less favoured regions, and we agree with the view of the Commission President that the success of the Single European Act will depend on bringing in substantial measures designed to produce greater cohesion.

It is important to reiterate to our partners that Ireland does face special problems and that it is a common Community interest that we attain the objectives of our industrialisation and economic development policies in order to align the standards of living in Ireland with those of the rest of Europe.

We are fully conscious of the benefits that can flow to Europe as a whole from the realisation of an internal market of 320 million people — one of the richest and largest in the world — and from the capacity to narrow the technological gap between the Community and its major international competitors, namely, the US and Japan. However, we must make every effort to ensure that these benefits are spread right across the member states and do not accrue disproportionately to the more central regions of the Community.

This emphasises the need to ensure that the provisions on economic and social cohesion in the Single Act are translated into practice and that action by the Community in this area is on a scale and of such a nature to ensure significant progress being made towards realising the objective set down in the Act of reducing regional disparities in the Community.

This is a matter of vital concern for the Government. It will be a central objective of our policy in the Community. The declaration on economic and social cohesion to be deposited with our Instrument of Ratification will serve to remind our partners of their commitment, under Protocol 30, which was agreed at the time of our accession, to support Ireland's policy of industrialisation and economic development. The Government's approach in this matter has been endorsed by the all-party Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the Communities.

I have on a number of occasions spoken about the need for all our representatives in Community negotiations and discussions to have adequate data and information on which to base their case. We need a detailed, factual and objective assessment of how we have fared since joining the Community and particularly since the onset of the recent recession. This would involve not only comparisons of the development ofper capita income, across the Community, but trends in employment, investment, industry and in agricultural production and incomes. The NESC carried out a very worthwhile study of this kind back in 1981 entitled “The Socio-Economic Position of Ireland within the European Community”.

I propose to ask NESC, when I meet them shortly, to carry out an in-depth study of Ireland's comparative performance in the EC and to relate it to some of the problems and opportunities that we will face in realising the internal market. In order to be able to argue our case in the Councils of the Communities effectively we need to know exactly what our experience has been, and how it has paralleled or diverged from the experience in other countries. If a particular policy has had an especially adverse effect on us, then that is a legitimate basis for seeking special measures to mitigate its effects.

Community membership has given an enormous impetus to development in Ireland over the past 14 years. Our agriculture was modernized; we have had an influx of new high-technology industry; parts of our infrastructure, especially energy, telecommunications and to some extent transport have been brought up to date; our social welfare system has been upgraded. I would equally accept that compared with the high hopes of the early seventies our experience has in many respects been disappointing, even though we cannot simply blame the EC for that. But the basic reality is that we cannot contemplate a satisfactory economic future isolated from the countries that surround us, who are all members of the European Community. We could not maintain present standards, never mind prosper, in such isolation. That does not, of course, mean the Community will solve all our problems for us, or that we should not develop our trade with countries outside the EC, in America, Europe, the Middle East and Japan and the developing world. The present living standards of our people, however, and our hopes for significant improvement in them depend basically on active participation in the European Community.

Let no one be under any illusions that we have any real alternative options. We are at present in an extremely difficult economic and financial position. This Government are not prepared to put at risk the welfare and the livelihood of our people by allowing a situation to develop which would endanger our full participation in the development of the Communities.

It would be inappropriate for me to question the wisdom of the Supreme Court decision. It must be accepted, however, that the judgments in so far as they affect the boundaries between executive and judicial areas of responsibility have caused widespread surprise. Eamon de Valera when he was moving the second reading of the draft Bunreacht na hÉireann in the Dáil on 11 May 1937 said in regard to Article 29:

The idea of this Constitution is to put this matter of our external relations in its proper position relatively to the Constitution, and that is outside it, as a matter of foreign policy, to be determined from time to time, according as the people's interests suggest to them that they should put this Government or that Government into office with powers to implement their will. That is what is done here. It is done by giving to the executive authority, namely, the Government, which is the fundamental executive authority, power to use any organ, instrument or method of procedure which may be used for similar purposes by other nations with whom we may be associated, no matter what it is.

This is in reference to Article 29.4.2º. Further on he said:

Consequently, dealing with our external relations, it enables the Executive Government of the day to make use of it, provided that there is a law passed by the national Parliament which would make that possible. Now, the law can exactly prescribe the conditions. In our case the law has already been passed, and this Constitution takes over that law. Therefore, when this Constitution is passed, as far as our external relations are concerned, no change is made, but the external relations are kept in a position in which they can be dealt with and handled as a matter of public policy, without bringing them across the fundamental rights which govern the working of our institutions.

It is clear from these quotations that Eamon de Valera knew exactly where the power to conduct the external relations of the nation should reside and where under the Constitution he intended it to reside.

I indicated recently in the House that if there was a widespread wish to do so, I was open to the idea of reviewing between the parties, in some suitable forum, whether changes should be made in the Constitution in the light of our experience. It would certainly arise for consideration, in any such process of review, whether changes should be made in the light of the Supreme Court decision so as to give greater clarity to the power of the Executive in the formation and execution of foreign policy.

The text of this Bill to amend the Constitution is limited to enabling the State to ratify the Single Act. The Government decided on this course of action after very detailed and careful examination, bearing in mind in particular the urgency of the situation and the need, with the least possible further delay, to respect commitments given to our partners. Alone of the 12 member states Ireland was unable to respect the deadline of 1 January 1987 set by the European Council for the deposit of instruments of ratification. Even proceeding as rapidly as we can to restore the situation, the entry into force of the Single Act will have been delayed by six months. That is the principal reason why we have decided to confine the scope of the amendment and why we have not sought authority for an amendment designed to avoid any recurrence of the situation where important elements of foreign relations and policy can be held up by legal actions.

I have stressed the urgency of ratifying the Single Act and the tight timetable imposed by that political necessity would clearly not afford the opportunity for the considered examination required. I am prepared, however, when the urgent and immediate question of ratifying the Single Act has been disposed of, to have discussions with the leaders of the political parties represented in the House, on these wider issues either in the context of wider constitutional reform or otherwise. I believe this is a better way to proceed in the difficult situation in which we find ourselves. To deal solely with the immediate issue the Single European Act will enable the House to give almost unanimous guidance to the people. To seek now to extend the amendment proposed by the Government to take in these wider questions would be to open up a debate not only in this House but in the country at large. Such a debate would of necessity have to extend over a much wider timescale than is available to us as the rest of Europe awaits our ratification to enable them to proceed with the implementation of the Act on which all 12 member states have agreed.

The important thing now is to resolve the dilemma of ratification and our holding up the development of the Community. To widen the debate to include other major national issues would give rise to a measure of divisiveness which is far from what we need in present economic circumstances. Our membership of the Community and the development of the Community along the lines proposed in the Single European Act is a single clear-cut issue. It should be put to the people as such.

Let us clear away the cloud of uncertainty. Let the people decide as soon as possible on our membership of the Community as one straightforward question.

This party sought last December to obtain the endorsement of the Dáil for making, and depositing alongside the Instrument of Ratification, a declaration which would seek, first, to preserve our original entitlement to the recognition of our special economic needs which was an integral element of our accession and membership of the Community from the outset and remains so, and secondly, to have our policy of military neutrality reiterated. We were, and are, satisfied that had the then Government sought to do so it would have been possible, before the Single Act was finalised and signed, to secure our partners' acceptance that the Inter-governmental Conference would have noted an Irish declaration of the kind we proposed last December, as they noted declarations by Greece, Portugal, Denmark, the Presidency and the Commission.

What is still open to us now is to make the declaration, on the deposit of our instrument of ratification, on the two matters we proposed last December and this we intend to do.

The text of this declaration has been placed in the Dáil Library. We are indicating to our partners that, as the wording of the introductory sentence covering the declaration makes clear, the declaration does not involve any action on the part of our partners, all of whom have, by now, completed their constitutional procedures for ratification.

The Community has no competence to discuss matters of military policy or to embark on a policy of military procurement. This is generally acknowledged and is not seriously contested in the Councils of the Community.

There is no support in any of the Supreme Court judgments for the notion that Ireland's neutrality is incompatible with the Single European Act, indeed the opposite is the case. But our declaration will put beyond all doubt the Government's position on this. It notes that the provisions of Title III do not affect Ireland's long established policy of military neutrality and that co-ordination of positions on the political and economic aspects of security does not include the military aspects of security. Our partners for the most part understand and accept our policy of military neutrality and that the Irish people would not wish to change that policy.

The Government understand the concern of our partners with security issues. We are conscious also of the debate now taking place in Europe on issues of disarmament and security and on their implications for the European countries and for the organisations of which they are members. It is only to be expected that with the prospects of major changes in the military and armaments situation that these developments would be commented upon in the member states. That is something about which we need not be concerned as long as it is clear that we are not involved.

As I indicated in my speech in this House on 11 March 1981 in moving a motion asking the Dáil to confirm the principles that had guided the policy of that Government and their predecessors, our policy of military neutrality has very considerable advantages, not only for ourselves but, in a number of respects, for our friends and partners in the Western world. On that occasion, I made it clear that this country stands for the values enshrined in the Constitution; that our place is with the Western democracies with whom we share common concepts of human rights, freedom under the law, individual liberty and freedom of conscience, that our economic interests are also tied in with the Western industrialised world; and that we are part of that world.

At this time when there are more hopeful prospects than for some time past that significant agreements can be reached in the realm of arms control and disarmament it would hardly be appropriate for us to move away from our position of military neutrality. It is surely preferable to build on a policy to which our people are deeply attached and to avail of the opportunities which our neutral status affords to play a distinctive role in promoting the cause of peace and a reduction in armaments and in participating in the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations, a role which is welcomed by our friends and partners.

We, of course, understand the desire of many of our European partners to intensify military co-operation in a specifically European framework. It is accepted by them that there are other frameworks for this purpose which exist and which can be extended or adapted if necessary. We accept that there can be discussion on the political and economic aspects of security. This has been the position before the Single European Act came into existence and is something which developed over a period of years in the political co-operation arena. The Single European Act does not provide for the co-ordination of positions on the military aspects of security and our understanding that that is the position is made clear in our declaration. This Government are fully committed to the policy of military neutrality and that policy will be adhered to.

A moment's comparison with the treaty setting up the NATO military alliance will convince anyone that there is nothing in the Single European Act which requires or provides for the setting up of any new European military alliance. There are many in the trade union movement and in other organisations committed to peace and disarmament, whose views and attitudes I respect, who have, I know, misgivings about the Single European Act. I would ask them to put those misgivings in perspective. We should not create an artificial and unnecessary opposition between the economic benefits of the Community and the maintenance of our neutrality. We have so far ensured and are resolved to continue to ensure that they remain compatible. We must not have our membership of the Community diminished by fears that have no firm basis in reality. We need a national consensus behind our policy of full commitment to Community membership while adhering to our policy of military neutrality. The compatibility of the two must be clearly and positively enunciated. Those who value our military neutrality must not allow a situation to develop where a vote giving expression of our commitment to Europe could be wrongly interpreted as a vote against neutrality. It would be nothing of the kind and the issue should not be put on that artificial basis.

Now that we have to have this referendum and even if it is nearly five months after the deadline for ratification let us seize it as an opportunity for our people to renew the commitment to Europe that was so strikingly demonstrated by the massive majority in the 1972 referendum.

Since then we have made our contribution to the development of the Community and we have, of course, derived great benefits from our membership. There is, in fact, a substantial degree of convergence between Ireland's interests and the interests of the Community. Membership has enabled our people to resume their European heritage and to re-enter the mainstream of European life.

I wish to reaffirm my personal commitment and that of my party to a sovereign Irish nation encompassing the whole island of Ireland. The sovereignty of the Irish people as enshrined in our Constitution is to us fundamental. I believe that our joining the Community has in fact enhanced the meaning and the purposes of that sovereignty. Membership has enabled us to participate in one of the most significant developments in the evolution of parliamentary democracy in modern times; an experiment in international political relations unique in world history. I was never enamoured with the prospect of a modern Ireland remaining in the economic shadow of one powerful neighbour. Accession to the Communities enabled us to move out into a wider arena where as a sovereign State we could pursue our interests much more effectively. We did, of course, concede some element of our sovereignty when we joined this great Community of European nations but so did all the other member states. Nations which had exercised full uninhibited national sovereignty for centuries were prepared to concede some of that sovereignty so that they could work together for the greater benefit of their people.

In the economic sphere, as is evidenced by the attitude being taken by the farming organisations, our agriculture is supported to an extent which would be impossible outside the Community. A comparison of world prices with prices obtaining in the Community, for many of the products we produce here — even allowing for the recent changes in CAP — will show just the extent of the benefit that our membership brings to farmers. Had we been obliged, in the absence of the CAP to market all our agricultural exports at world prices in 1985, the return from these would have been less by about £660 million: expressed another way returns would have been 40 per cent below what they actually were. In addition the direct cash flows annually to Ireland through the Community budget, now exceed one thousand million pounds. Similarly, industry benefits and can benefit more from access to a market of 320 million people. Within a market of that size, it is possible for industry to specialise and to develop exports in a way which would be inconceivable in a home market of 3.5 million people. In fact, overall three-quarters of all our exports now go to the Community countries completely free of duty or other fiscal restrictions. Without this duty free access to the larger market, the investment we urgently need here just will not take place.

It must be emphasised that these benefits come to us as a result of the operation of Community policies. Nevertheless, our failure to ratify would create an impossible situation. This is because the benefits we receive involve a great deal more than what our legal entitlements are at any given moment. For one thing, many provisions expire or fall to be reviewed after certain intervals so that one is involved in a constant process of negotiation and adaptation where the sympathy for our concerns will inevitably be affected by our partners' perception of the quality of our commitment to European integration. Even more important, it is necessary to stress that in quite a number of areas, special arrangements have been made to give particularly favourable treatment to Ireland or to accommodate specific matters of concern to us. This reflects a degree of respect which successive Governments have worked hard to merit.

In conclusion, while there are certain elements in the Single Act which will call for firmness and vigilance on the part of the Government, there are also positive advantages in other provisions, if given the proper follow-up. These coupled with the declaration which we propose to make, are such that the Government strongly recommend approval of the constitutional amendment now before the House.

Our future is crucially linked and dependent on a Community which is growing and developing and is committed to ensuring that the benefits of further progress are shared by all the Community's regions. I am convinced that the great majority of the Irish people want Ireland to continue as an active, committed member of that Community and I accordingly commend the Bill to the House.

It is gratifying for us on this side of the House to see another Damascus like conversion after the carping and criticism of last December about the Single European Act, its unconstitutionality and its affect on neutrality. That has all gone in this worthy speech by the Taoiseach this afternoon. As a supporter of the Single Act I could hardly have written a better speech expressing what I hope will be realised for the country. I am glad the Taoiseach acknowledged that the Supreme Court had not found anything in Title III that is anathema to our neutrality. However, having reiterated that Title III does not in any way affect our neutrality the Taoiseach went on to say that he intends lodging a declaration by the Government of Ireland on neutrality when he is lodging the instrument of ratification. The Taoiseach is free to do that and last December I said I was willing to do that but I must point out that it has no bearing, it is a piece of paper that will have no legal binding. In my view it will amount to nothing more than a declaration by the Government of Ireland. I suggest that what the last Government did in the lead up to the introduction of the Single European Act was a more effective defence of Ireland's position than the lodging by the Government of a piece of paper.

I am sure that I am not alone in this House in regretting the fact that we are, once again, back to the business of fighting paper tigers. I welcome the opportunity to debate the general issues which arise under the terms of the matter before us, but I must also enter my disquiet at the way in which the terms of the debate have suffered an attempted hijacking by certain groups, who would cast the Single European Act in the role of Trojan Horse designed by wicked foreigners to destroy our State, our valuable cultural traditions and our nationhood.

An example was contained in a newspaper headline over a report of a meeting of those opposed to the Single European Act. It was to the effect that those present resented the meddling by Commissioner Sutherland in the debate here on that Act. In my view that amounts to the very worst in isolationism. The Commissioner was appointed by an Irish Government to the European Community, is a former Attorney General and a citizen of this State. He is entitled to give his views about the benefits to Ireland of the Single European Act. What was said at that meeting is an indication of the type of debate some people want, a totally one-sided debate without any acknowledgment to those of us who will wish to point out the positive aspects of our membership of the Community and the benefits of the Single European Act. We joined the European Economic Community as a result of a referendum held in May 1972, a referendum in which the vote in favour was over 80 per cent. What we are now debating is whether we wish to stay in that Community as full contributors to it and full beneficiaries from it. There should be no doubt about this. A "No" vote on 26 May would be the first step backwards from that Community. Of course it would not be immediate — we would still technically be members but members different from the other eleven, all of whom have ratified the Single European Act.

There will be no Single European Act because for it to be brought into effect it needs all 12 member states to ratify. What we will lose — the Taoiseach referred to this — will be the understanding, the support and the benefits we have derived from membership over the last 14 years, not just the material benefits which are considerable and which I will refer to later, but also our role in contributing to building "a closer union between the peoples of Europe".

That quotation is contained in the preamble to the treaties and it was highlighted during the referendum debate 15 years ago. The Irish people were in no doubt that one of the objectives in joining the Community was to contribute to building "a closer union between the peoples of Europe".

For the sake of clearing the muddy waters, and speed a positive result to the referendum on 26 May, the Fine Gael Party, and my parliamentary colleagues, will take an active role in setting out the true and acceptable nature of the provisions contained in the Single European Act and the vital long-term contribution it makes towards creating a dynamic and constructive future for the Irish State and its citizens. Fine Gael will, as they did in 1972, play a leading role to ensure that there will be as big a "yes" vote in favour of the Single European Act as there was in favour of the original referendum in 1972.

The Supreme Court's decision on the Single European Act has to be set in context, containing as it did two different elements. The first part of the judgment referred to the amendments to the treaties setting up the European Community here, the Court ruled that the European Communities (Amendment) Act passed by the Oireachtas just before Christmas last year did not contain anything which could be said to exceed the authorities vested in the State as a result of the 1972 referendum.

The European Communities (Amendment) Act which gives force of law in this country to these amendments is not, according to the Supreme Court decision, unconstitutional. It is important that we recognise this because all the references to the possible unconstitutionality of the Single European Act made by Members of the Dáil and Seanad in December last were to the Act that was passed by the Oireachtas and not to Title III which the Supreme Court found did not conform with the Constitution. The Court has found, as the Government of the day said, that the Act was constitutional.

The second element of the Supreme Court decision, and the one which has given rise to the controversy which has us in the House debating the matter, refers to one section of the single European Act, Title III, which deals with formalising procedures which facilitate the development of common foreign policy for the Community. Here, the Court — not by a unanimous decision, but by a three to two majority decision — rules that under the Irish Constitution as it now stands the Government are not immune from judicial control if they act in a matter or for a purpose which is inconsistent with the Constitution and must first consult the people as to whether or not they are prepared to authorise the State to give that commitment. The Taoiseach skirted around that problem, but I will come back to it later.

The commitment in question, let it be well noted, is to the formalising of procedures which are already in place, and in which Ireland has been participating informally during successive Governments over the duration of our full membership of the European Community. The Supreme Court decision has, in effect, focused attention on two separate but inter-related questions; firstly, the question of whether or not the Constitution as it now stands permits us to enter fully into the terms of the Single European Act and, secondly, whether by ratifying the Act our sovereign capacity as a State to formulate independent lines on foreign policy is diminished.

The first question, the constitutional aspect, is a technical one, and the Government have decided to address it directly by means of a referendum, allowing the people to express their will through the ballot box, although severely limiting the scope of their ability to express that will by offering a limited and defective formulation to the proposed constitutional amendment, a matter to which I will return shortly.

The second question, while technical, has political implications of a fundamental nature. The issue of neutrality goes right to the heart of political consciousness in this country. Any threat to this neutrality, whether real or imagined, challenges the stability of dialogue and progress, both within the institutions of the State and throughout the whole network of international fora and institutions, which has been built up through the work and achievements of generations of men and women who have participated in the political system of this State since its founding.

I do not believe that we can, or should, jeopardise this heritage by failing to adopt the Single European Act — and failure to secure the Act will be the inevitable consequence of a failure of Members of this House to deal decisively and courageously with the issue of Irish neutrality, and safeguarding this neutrality from supposed or possible threats, either from the Single European Act itself, or any other treaties or accords into which the State may enter now or in the future.

I deliberately choose the phrase "supposed or possible threats" because I do not believe or accept that the Single European Act poses any threat whatsoever to the ability of this State to formulate and pursue its own independent lines on issues of foreign policy where consensus on such lines is not to be found in European fora. As Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time I could not and would not have given consent on behalf of the Government to any proposed treaty which adversely affected the military neutrality of this country.

The minority decision of the Supreme Court bears out the decision arrived at by the Government to pursue ratification of the Single European Act, only after the very long and painstaking process of constructing and formulating the Act in a manner acceptable to all members of the Community had taken place within the institutions of the Community. Any examination of this process will show that the diminution of neutrality claim is, indeed, a paper tiger.

Let me give an example of my experience during the past 12 months in this regard. This country adopted a range of sanctions against South Africa last year which included the prohibition of the importation of fruit and vegetables from that country. We proposed, with the support of other member countries of the EEC, that the Community should also adopt these sanctions. Other member countries were unwilling to do so and therefore the imposition of these sanctions did not become Community policy, though we remained free to act on our own in this regard. We were not bound by the Community decision but remained free "to do our own thing".

In dealing with the claim that the Single European Act has been foisted upon the people at great speed and with little time for discussion and debate, we need to appreciate that the process leading to the formulation of the Act has, in fact, been in train for a number of years.

Dissatisfaction with a range of inadequacies in the functioning and operation of many structures within the Community has been the focus of political attention and debate — certainly for the greater part of the duration of this country's membership of the European Community. There have been numerous occasions when the areas of concern have been examined in the Parliament and other institutions of the Community, through publicly reported debates and working groups, published reports, media analysis and statements by public leaders. The Spinelli report produced a comprehensive and very complex analysis of failures in the structural mechanisms of the Community and argued for far greater democratisation of these mechanisms and institutions in order to promote a genuine European Union. In effect, the Spinelli report gave substance, really for the first time, to a principle that has been for the majority of members of the Community aspirational rather than actual.

The report received much attention at the time of its publication and provided the impetus for the setting up of the ad hoc Committee for Institutional Affairs, chaired by our own colleague Professor Jim Dooge. The report produced by the ad hoc committee gave detailed consideration to a wide range of institutional reforms necessary to rejuvenate and strengthen the Community and its workings, bringing it into line with individual and collective requirements of community members for sustained growth and development across a broad spectrum of issues. The Dooge report, as it became known, was the subject of considerable discussion and debate in Europe, and set the agenda for the European Council meeting, held in Milan on 28 and 29 June 1985.

The then Taoiseach, Deputy Garret FitzGerald, reported to this House on 2 July 1985 on the results of the Milan Summit, noting that despite unanimity amongst members on the main issues of concern at Milan — improvement of the institutional arrangements of the Community, completion of the internal market and joint co-operation in the development of science and technology — it was not possible to secure support from all members on a series of positive proposals to achieve these ends. The Taoiseach also informed the House at the time that, as a result of this failure to achieve agreement, the Presidency would take steps to convene an Inter-Governmental Conference to examine the areas of difficulty and propose a series of resolutions to overcome areas of discord to be presented to the next European Council meeting which was scheduled for December of that year in Luxembourg.

The results of that Inter-Governmental Conference were given full consideration during the Luxembourg Council meeting, and finally agreement was reached on a broad range of reforms. It is these reforms which have been brought together to form the Single European Act. In reporting to this House on 4 December 1985 on the results of the meeting in Luxembourg, Deputy Garret FitzGerald spoke at length on the reforms and their implications for this country and for the Community itself. The 27th report on Developments in the European Communities, published by the Government in June 1986, presented and analysed the Act and its likely effects. In June of 1985 the European Commission published a White Paper on the completion of the internal market, a concern central to the Single European Act.

In June of 1986, the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities published an extremely useful study of the Commission White Paper, giving a detailed analysis of the implications for different sectors of the economic community. The Oireachtas committee discussed the Act, and their assessment was published in the later half of last year. In December of last year, the Government published an explanatory booklet on the Single European Act, prior to the ratification debate which took place in this House on 10 and 11 of December last year.

It is also interesting to note that the present Taoiseach and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party complained last December that the Government were rushing this important piece of legislation through the House without adequate discussion. There are two points to be made here. First, the then Opposition, Fianna Fáil, were offered, but turned down, an extra day's debate, preferring at that time to use the extra day to talk about the Extradition Act. If they were so concerned about the Single European Act they could have used that extra day. Secondly, when speaking here on 9 December, Deputy Haughey, now Taoiseach, said that they signalled their concerns about the Single European Act in the summer of 1985. Yet in the intervening 18 months I can find not one single speech — outside the Debate on the Estimate for the Department of Foreign Affairs in the spring of last year — or any attempt by that party to alert the public to what Fianna Fáil concerns were. Surely if they were that concerned they had a duty, as the main Opposition party, between summer 1985 and December 1986 to express their concern publicly and not wait until the debate started in Dáil Éireann.

The point of detailing this catalogue of activities related to the Act is to counteract the scurrilous suggestion that the Single European Act has been rushed forward, and that there has been an attempt to streamroll the legislation past the House and the people of this country, without giving adequate time for consideration of the detailed implications of all sections of the Act. In reality, the Single European Act is in itself the culmination of more than three years of debate, discussion, negotiation, analysis, media attention and I believe public reflection. The need for greater European integration across a wide range of activities and fields of endeavour has occupied a great deal of space in newspapers and journals during that time. It is widely agreed that the Single European Act makes a significant contribution to the process of integration and that it marks one of the most positive developments in the history of the Community since our accession in 1973. In the face of such agreement, it is regrettable indeed that at this late stage the old fears and old ghosts rise to haunt us again unfortunately. They are rising to haunt us again from some of the same mouths.

The major economic benefits which have accrued to Ireland over 14 years of full membership of the Community are evidence of the enormous potential scope for further economic intregration between this country — with its vulnerable and export-dependent economy — and the collective economic strength of all the Community members. As one of the smallest and least developed of the member states, we have traditionally supported greater integration between the States, subject always to the provision that sectional interests of the richer States should not adversely affect the more vulnerable members.

Across a broad range of issues relating to economic development, the completion of the internal market — already long overdue in the evolution of the European Community — is significantly advanced by the Single European Act. According to the Albert and Ball report, commissioned by the European Parliament in 1982, technical, fiscal and bureaucratic barriers are costing an estimated £8 billion per year. That figure constitutes 2 per cent of the Community Gross National Product. Since this country exports 66 per cent of its manufacturing industry — and over 80 per cent of that to the Community — the benefits of freeing trade and completing the internal market to this country are very obvious. It would give us access to a market of 320 million people, which is a vital step towards securing an acceptable level of economic growth in our economy.

At present, over 400 companies operating in this country have parent companies based in the European Community. Removing barriers to trade opens up a very wide potential for increased investment by these companies and gives Irish-owned companies access to production, technical, research and marketing facilities throughout Europe. The possibilities for increasing economic activity, and thereby initiating real and sustainable job creation in this country, are immeasurably better within full and active membership of the Community than outside that structure.

Another important benefit to Ireland under the Single European Act is the inclusion of a new Title in the EC Treaties of Economic and Social Cohesion with the objective of reducing the disparities between the various regions in the Community and helping the least favoured regions, including Ireland. There is now a commitment to reducing the differences in economic development and standards of living between the various regions of the Community. In all future negotiations aimed at the completion of the internal market, or indeed towards the strengthening of existing policy or bringing forward new policies, Ireland's hand will be immeasurably strengthened because the cohesive objective will have to be taken into account.

Now it has been argued that, if we fail to ratify the Act, it is of little consequence since we are not obliged to withdraw from the Community in such an event. This is true, but only in the very narrowest sense of being technically correct. I would ask, however: how are we to maintain any meaningful role for this country within the Community if isolationism of the most negative kind is to inform any contribution we might make, any proposed participation we might seek, any material benefit for which we might argue?

Indeed, what possible justification would we offer for retaining membership of the Community under such circumstances except, possibly, the remote chance of attracting the occasional philanthropic gesture from the Regional or Social Fund. That is the kind of cynicism which lies at the centre of this way of thinking — it is the begging-bowl-in-one-hand-and-the-veto-in-the-other school of economics.

Every Irish Government since 1973 while rightly pursuing our economic interests have also sought to play a constructive, positive and forward looking role in Europe. We clearly saw our long term interests as being in an integrated community whose membership was open to all the democratic countries of Europe who subscribed to its aims. I think it is fair to say that this role has won for us goodwill and respect from other member states. Substantial economic benefits flowed from membership but we did not join for exclusively economic reasons — there were also political reasons. Membership gave us the opportunity to join with other democratic countries in the movement towards European unity.

However, the real problem we have to face in dealing with opposition to the Single European Act lies not so much in the economic sphere as in the political arena — and it is the suggestion that the most sensitive and cherished element of our political framework, our military neutrality, is jeopardised by the contents of Title III of the Act. What the then Taoiseach did to underline our neutrality and have it built into the Single European Act was far more effective than the lodging by this Government of this piece of paper in Rome.

In his report to this House on 2 July 1985, Deputy Garret FitzGerald dealt directly with this specific issue drawing attention to the great awareness amongst our European partners of Ireland's special position in regard to military neutrality. He said:

I should like to express my appreciation of the manner in which the French and German Governments, conscious of our special position of neutrality, worded Articles 8.1 and 8.2 of their draft treaty so as to place security matters ... with possible defence implications — firmly outside the framework of the proposed political co-operation arrangements, as they are at present and within the Western European Union framework, and of the manner in which the British Prime Minister accepted this significant change by reference to the equivalent paragraph 8 of the British draft treaty, on the basis that the Franco-German version met the needs of the Irish situation more effectively and clearly.

These passages of the Franco-German draft treaty are:

Article 8.1: The signatory States... reaffirm their readiness increasingly to co-ordinate their positions on the political and economic aspects of security.

Article 8.2: Those among the signatory States who wish to co-operate more closely in the field of security will do so within the framework of the Western European Union while respecting the role which falls to the Alliance, and their specific situation and strategy within the latter.

On this point at the conclusion of the discussions, I entered on the records a formal declaration, referring to the Conclusion on Institutional Affairs to the effect that:

Without prejudice to its position on other points, Ireland accepts the wording of the first indent of the fourth paragraph viz. that dealing with Political Co-operation on the basis of paragraph 8.1 second sentence, and paragraph 8.2 of the Draft Franco-German Treaty.

This is a far more effective defence of Ireland's military neutral position than the lodging of a piece of paper purely for cosmetic reasons. It has absolutely no bearing as far as Europe is concerned. It may satisfy some members of the Fianna Fáil Party. What has a bearing is the wording of Article 8.1 which the then Taoiseach put on the record. Even as early as June 1985, as the quotation shows, we were concerned to ensure that Ireland's special position outside military alliances was taken into account, a position appreciated by and catered for by our partners. This, I believe, to be also the position under the Single European Act, Article 30.6(b) which speaks of the political and economic aspects of security and Article 30.6(c) which provides that: "Nothing in this Title shall impede closer co-operation in the field of security between certain of the High Contraction Parties within the framework of the Western European Union or the Atlantic Alliance."

Clearly, to my mind, the meaning there is that they cannot be discussed in the framework of European political co-operation but can be discussed in the Atlantic Alliance to which the other 11 member states belong, or in the Western European Union.

I want to come back to the Supreme Court ruling which has necessitated this debate and the referendum on 26 May. The first thing we should note is that the decision is a majority decision, not an unanimous one. Secondly, the High Court found no aspect of the Single European Act in contravention of the Constitution. Therefore, five of the eight highest ranking judges in the State did not find the Single European Act unconstitutional. I must say that I agree with those five eminent judges. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court decision stands and necessitates a referendum so that the Government may ratify the Single European Act, but that decision for the first time in our history tells the Government that they "may or may not do" in their conduct of foreign relations. Deputy Haughey slid past this when he said:

It would be inappropriate for me to question the wisdom of the Supreme Court decision. It must be accepted, however, that the judgments in so far as they affect the boundaries between executive and judicial areas of responsibility have caused widespread surprise.

Certainly that is true, and I would have thought that it was the responsibility of the Government to take an immediate opportunity to clarify the position by a much broader referendum than they put before this House now.

As I said, for the first time the decision has provided that the Government "may or may not do" in their conduct of foreign affairs. The logic of that is that in the future any agreement or treaty entered into by the Government could be subject to scrutiny by the courts. Already such agreements or treaties, because they involve a charge on public funds, come before the Dáil, and this is as it should be. Parliament is the correct place and correct forum to debate such issues. If in the future that role should also be adopted by the courts it is possible that we will have referenda extremely frequently.

I must admit here that I am now going on a newspaper report. I did not hear the Minister for Foreign Affairs who I understand was on a radio programme the day before yesterday but according to one newspaper yesterday he seemed to say that the Government recognise this and that there would have to be more referenda in the future. If that is so and if I am not misinterpreting what he said, it was an extremely casual approach by the Government not to do something more than they are doing in this very narrow amendment. If the Minister for Foreign Affairs was reflecting the view of the Government, the amendment being proposed is inadequate. It deals only with the Single European Act and does not deal with existing treaties such as our membership of the UNO and GATT, nor does it deal with any future agreements that may be entered into. I want to quote from the judgment to bear out that point. Mr. Justice Walsh says on page 19 of his judgment: "Equally clearly they"— the framers of the Constitution —"refrained from granting to the Government the power to bind the State by agreement with such groups and nations as to the manner under what conditions that executive function of the State shall be exercised." Mr. Justice Henchy said: "To be bound by solemn international treaty or to act thus to take full account of the common position of the other member states is, in my opinion, inconsistent with the obligation of the Government to conduct its foreign relations in accordance with the common good of the Irish people." Mr. Justice Hederman said: "The State's organs cannot contract to exercise in a particular way or by a particular procedure their policy making roles or in any way to fetter powers bestowed unfettered by the Constitution."

These extracts show the risks posed for any international agreement we have already entered into. The UN charter is the clearest example. Under Article 2 of the Charter it is provided that the members agree to settle their disputes by peaceful means and agree — this is in the future — to refrain from the threat or use of force. They also bound themselves to fulfil in good faith the obligations under the Charter including the obligation to submit to peaceful enforcement functions by the Security Council. I am advised that as a result of those judgments our membership of the UNO could also be called into question. I do not have to spell out to this House the damage that would be done by calling to question our membership of the UNO nor do I have to underline the disappointment that would be felt if we could no longer have that platform available to us to put forward our views and suggest solutions to the many problems that now confront the world. In his speech here today the Taoiseach referred to that role which we undertake. There is also the question of the pride we all take in contributing to the peace-keeping forces, a contribution which the Irish people believe to be a real, practical help towards achieving peace in many parts of the world. We have been making that contribution now for about 30 years.

I mention these factors in the firm belief that the Government must also have come to that conclusion and have been advised of the wider implications the Supreme Court decision could have and not just for the SEA. Why then did they decide on the limited amendment? The only indication we have of that is in the Taoiseach's speech when he said: "The Government decided on this course of action after very detailed and careful examination, bearing in mind in particular the urgency of the situation and the need, with the least possible further delay, to respect commitments given to our partners."

It does not seem to us on this side of the House that having an expanded amendment to cater for existing treaties would cause a great problem in drafting, and the Taoiseach said here today that he wishes, after the referendum has been disposed of, to enter into discussions with the leaders of other parties to see what changes in the Constitution would be necessary. We all know how long that is going to take. It will take a minimum of two years to establish the committee and to let them come to agreement, because they will not be confined to just this one aspect. Once you start to open up the Constitution every Article in it will have to be gone through, and they will get agreement to——

The Deputy is making our case.

——have it debated in this House and put to the people. I am not making the Government's case. Let the Taoiseach listen to me for a second. In the meantime what damage is going to be done to the existing treaties the Government have entered into in that two year period? Are we to be faced with monthly or three-monthly referenda to cater for every decision that may be appealed to the Supreme Court? It would be far simpler if the Government had proposed not the narrow amendment now before us but a much broader amendment to which we could all subscribe.

The last thing that I want to say is that I appeal to the Government to look at this amendment between now and the end of Second Stage. We are willing to enter into discussions with them on that or make suggestions that will safeguard treaties we have already entered into as well as allowing us to ratify the SEA. Either way we want the Single European Act to be ratified by referendum on 26 May. I repeat this party's commitment to seeing the process of signing the Single European Act in total. We will be giving the lead in the fight for the ratification of this Act and the passing of this amendment as we did in 1972. I implore the Taoiseach to look again between now and tomorrow night at the defects in the Government's amendment. We will be willing to talk to him about how we believe—we have advice on this — that it can be expanded to cater for the agreements we have already entered into. He is on a very dangerous path if he is talking about a narrow amendment, a referendum, inter-party talks, Dáil debate, a new Constitution and further referenda maybe in two years' time. A great deal of damage can be done in the intervening two years. Therefore, I implore him to think again in the next 24 hours, to withdraw his current amendment and substitute a much broader one.

Reflecting on the consequences of Mr. Crotty's case, which are extremely far-reaching, one is struck by the extent to which the application of the law is a sheer lottery. The decision arrived at has enormous implications for not alone the 3½ million people in this State but indeed for the 320 million people in the European Community. Eight judges of the superior courts here considered the issues arising from the Single European Act. A clear majority of them, five out of eight, as Deputy Barry has just said, found in its favour. Some of them did so very trenchantly. All eight of them found in favour of the Act passed here last December, which incorporated most of the Single European Act. Of the six Supreme Court judges involved in the case, including the President of the High Court, three decided one way and three the other and still we are in this dreadful mess, meeting here today is a specially recalled session of the Oireachtas to consider the Bill now before us as the Government's response to the problem which has been created for us and for all of our Community partners.

It makes one apprehensive that matters of such gravity should fall to be decided in a fortuitous way, by such a narrow margin and by a minority of judicial opinion. Four of the judges sitting in the Supreme Court expressed very definite views on where they stood and how they felt. The fifth decided to adopt the views of two of them. If he had done otherwise the difference would have been enormous. The responsibility is vast.

There are six judges of the Supreme Court, apart from the President of the High Court who isex officio and ranks immediately after the Chief Justice. Five of them sit together in a case like this. One can easily speculate that a different decision might have been arrived at if, for example, one of the five who sat had been ill at the beginning of the case. Such speculation may be fruitless so far as the result of a particular case is concerned, but in general terms it underlines the element of uncertainty in the law and the significance of the human factor, even in matters as important as this. Like economics, law is an imprecise social science. One can never be certain what will happen. But this does not stop lawyers, like economists, being dogmatic about what is doubtful.

It is against this background that we must consider the difficulties posed by the complex decision in Crotty's case. We must consider the practical problems that we and our Community partners face in the short term. We must consider the longer term attitudes of this country to the European Community and its growth and development, and to the general evolution of greater unity among the nation states of Western Europe. We must remember that if we want to develop as a Community of nations it is an inevitable consequence that we must at some time in this country face up to that Community's internal political dynamic and to its own external relations. We seem to be unwilling to do that now.

Some of the judgments in Crotty's case should also cause us to ponder on our own constitutional division of powers. Do these need amendment or do they need re-statement or re-assertion? Are some of the judgments seeking to amend the division of powers by purporting to give the courts a function in policy making or in policy review? If this is so, is it in part at least due to a reluctance in this House to make or review policy as we should? Are we as a legislature so fearful of innovation or change that we retard normal development and force it to be brought about by other institutions and by means other than legislation? If this in turn is so, is there not a danger that these non-legislative instruments of change will not always be as benign as the Superior Courts of Ireland?

To take our immediate short term problem first, I now turn to the actual terms of this Bill. Needless to say the Progressive Democrats heartily welcome the opportunity to undo some of the harm done, as we see it, by part of the Supreme Court decision. We are glad that the people will be given the opportunity to vote in a referendum to authorise the Government to ratify the Single European Act. We will of course be urging them to do so by voting "Yes". But to do this alone is completely inadequate, because it deals only with the most proximate of the problems.

The necessary amendment to the Constitution, and therefore the terms of the Bill, must be much more widely drawn. It should give the people the opportunity to head off all, or, at the very least, most of the problems identified in some of the Supreme Court judgments. This Bill, as introduced, patently fails to do so. It deals with one of the problems only. If the Government cannot indicate in the course of the Second Stage debate that they are willing to accept amendments to this effect at a later stage, the Progressive Democrats can, in reason and commonsense, have no option but to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill. I believe that should be the general view in the House. If it is not, we are assuredly storing up considerable trouble for ourselves, for the governments, parliaments and peoples of 11 other countries, and for the institutions of the European Community. We are condemning the European Community to a type of paralysis which will stultify it and make it irrelevant.

To take a simple analogy, let us assume someone is badly hurt in a road accident. He has four separate serious injuries. One of them is potentially fatal in the short term. The other three are also very serious but may not individually be fatal in the immediate future. The surgeons decide they will treat the most serious wound that is imminently fatal but that they do not want the hassle of treating the other injuries as well, until they also become potentially fatal. The patient lives but by no means does he thrive or even recover. Anyone would conclude that the surgeons were most unreasonable if they acted thus. But will this House be acting any more reasonably if it does not insist on availing of this opportunity to rectify the serious damage done to our general ability to conduct our foreign relations in what we and others regard as a normal manner?

Up to the 9th of this month, when the six judgments in the Supreme Court were delivered in this case, it was widely assumed, both here and abroad, that the Government of Ireland had power to enter into, and to conclude by ratification, binding international treaties touching on matters of foreign affairs, subject to the proviso that if such a treaty involved a charge on public funds here it had to have the approval of the Dáil before it became binding on this State. Nobody seriously suggested that the presumed powers of Government in this respect were in any way unreasonable. They mirrored the powers of government and parliaments in other western democracies.

To find this normal power now called into question, together with many of the treaties and agreements that we have entered into in the past and are likely in the course of usual developments to enter into in the future, creates an uncertainty that can only be described as intolerable.

If this uncertainty is allowed to remain for everything other than the specific Single European Act, then the normal conduct of international affairs by us, which is in itself an exercise of our sovereignty, will become increasingly difficult. Other countries will be understandably reluctant to deal with us if they feel that our Government and Parliament has not the constitutional capacity to enter into normal international treaties, without recourse to the specific approval of the people to each such treaty in a referendum.

A perusal of the six judgments delivered in the Supreme Court in Crotty's case leads me to believe there is no certainty that several of the five amending Treaties to the Treaty of Rome, which we signed and ratified since we joined the Community in 1973, will stand up to constitutional challenge now, if the Supreme Court were to apply the same reasoning to them as they did to the Single European Act in Crotty's case. The most obvious of these is the 1973 Amendment allowing Community directives to be implemented by ministerial order rather than by legislation, but there are others also. Therefore, we need an amendment to the Constitution that covers other normal treaties, actual or potential, past or future.

Furthermore, it is inevitable in the ordinary course of events and developments within any community that is dynamic rather than static that there will be further treaties amending the Treaty of Rome in the years to come. It would be quite wrong if there were not such developments in the future. It seems most unwise for us, even for our own sakes, to place on ourselves the uncertainty as well as the cost and burden of a referendum on every such change that is made. It is grossly unfair to our Community partners to ask them to have to deal with us in matters where unanimity is essential when we voluntarily chose to labour under the constitutional infirmities that have come to light in Crotty's case.

If we refuse to broaden the scope of this proposed amendment in the way the Progressive Democrats suggest, we will be voluntarily choosing to labour under these constitutional infirmities. There must be a limit to the courtesy, patience and understanding that have been shown to us so far by 11 European nations. They may not always display an amused tolerance. We cannot express surprise if their frustration begins to exhibit itself in legitimate anger if, as a result of this debate in this House this week, we refuse to take the necessary steps to cure these constitutional infirmities that the Supreme Court has thrust upon us as a result of its unexpected interpretation of the Constitution.

The problem and the issues are clear. The solution is equally clear and lies in a broader amendment on the lines indicated by us in our published proposals last week or in some alternative amendment that has a similar effect. It will not be sufficient to say that we will think about it and perhaps do something in a few years' time. This might be sufficient if we were only concerned about future treaties. What is much more urgent, however, is the question of past treaties and the doubt that now hovers over their validity. I am not speaking just of the five Community treaties amending the Treaty of Rome and the other founding treaties of the Coal and Steel and Atomic Energy Communities. I am equally concerned about some of our non-Community bilateral agreements which could be claimed, on the basis of the Crotty decision reasoning, to have entailed a diminution of our sovereignty.

An international agreement which immediately springs to mind as being of crucial importance to the future of this island and to the future of Anglo-Irish relations is the Anglo-Irish Agreement signed at Hillsborough in November, 1985. I am advised that on the basis of the Crotty reasoning there is a distinct danger that it could be held that the ratification of that agreement by the Government, notwithstanding its approval by Dáil Éireann, may be invalid. If that were to prove the case, it would be of enormous benefit to extremists and to nobody else.

I can think of nothing more vital than the necessity to put beyond question the validity of that agreement and its ratification. But, whether we like it or not, that doubt now exists in large measure. Failure to overcome the doubt by not putting forward a constitutional amendment on this occasion to encompass this agreement and others that are vital to our national welfare would be gravely irresponsible. This House would share in the irresponsibility of the Government if it were to fail to insist on this potential question mark hanging over the Anglo-Irish Agreement being set aside finally and for all time.

There are other such international agreements which are not of the same fundamental importance and value as the Anglo-Irish Agreement but, nonetheless, are important. An extensive list could be given, but I shall confine myself to one or two examples. Last year, this House passed an Act that was of benefit to this country and that authorised the US Federal Customs Authorities to conduct customs clearance at Shannon Airport for the United States. These foreign agents were allowed to conduct the business of their Government on our soil. We granted them,inter alia, immunity from Irish law and from civil and criminal liability for acts done in the course of their duties here. This was, as was pointed out in the House at the time, a diminution of our sovereignty. Is that agreement between the United States and ourselves now to be set aside? Is the equally valuable possibility of clearance by US immigration agents to be rendered impossible in the future, notwithstanding the benefits such an arrangement would bring to our country? Even the possibility of such relatively minor day to day arrangements of this kind being rendered invalid is an intolerable and ridiculous situation for us. Does our ratification of the European Patent Convention with its inevitable ceding of some miniscule part of our sovereignty have now to suffer the same doubts? If, as the Supreme Court suggests, only the people as a whole in a referendum can now authorise any ceding of our sovereignty, no matter how slight, how can we as a modern nation engaged in global business and political affairs allow our Constitution to remain unchanged? Is it in any way unreasonable to ask that in one amendment we would restore the position to what all of us believed it to be prior to 9 April last?

Turning to European political co-operation as set out in Article 30 of the Single European Act, the actual position is quite different from what is often popularly suggested. As Dr. Finbar Murphy of University College, Dublin points out in an interesting and valuable article inThe Irish Times of 15 April, this country has already refused to follow the advice of its fellow member states in, for us and for them, an important aspect of foreign policy that was the question of the imposition of sanctions against Argentina during the Falklands War in 1982. We were free so to refuse. We are still equally free. The writing down of the rules of European political co-operation in a treaty did not change the rules. As Mr. Justice Griffin points out, in his judgment and I quote:

The language used in Article 30 would appear to have been chosen with extreme care to ensure that the obligations of the Parties under the Treaty would permit the utmost freedom of action to each of the Parties in the sphere of foreign policy and is in stark contrast to that used in Title II.

Paragraph 6 (c) of Title III makes it perfectly clear that the question of closer co-operation in the field of security will be open to — and I quote:

certain of the High Contracting Parties within the framework of the WEU or the Atlantic Alliance."

This is drawn in this way specifically to exclude Ireland. How then can it truthfully be alleged that we can be forced into NATO or into any other form of military alliance against our will? As Dr. Murphy puts it:

The emergence of a common view in EPC depends entirely on consensus. No member State is obliged to pursue a policy determined by other member States.

It seems perfectly clear that the loss or diminution of sovereignty in the way envisaged by Mr. Justice Walsh and Mr. Justice Henchy does not, in fact, arise and cannot arise in this instance. Chief Justice Finlay sums up his view of Article 30's provisions in three sentences on page 5 of his judgment. He says:

They do not impose any obligations to cede any national interest in the sphere of foreign policy. They do not give to other High Contracting Parties any right to override or veto the ultimate decision of the State on any issue of foreign policy. They impose an obligation to listen and consult and grant a right to be heard and to be consulted.

Perhaps the most compelling argument of all against the majority view of the Supreme Court on the effect of Article 30 is the fact that Article 31 of the Single European Act, which we adopted as part of our domestic law last December, specifically excludes EPC from the judicial review powers of the Court of Justice of the Communities. As Dr. Murphy says in the same article:

Strange indeed is the binding contractual obligation in which the parties have excluded all means of adjudication on conflicts concerning its meaning or effect!

When Mr. Justice Henchy argues that to partake in EPC as formalised in a treaty we would have to give up part of our sovereignty, he seems to miss the point that we have no greater or no less an obligation than we already had before EPC was written down formally.

He also seems to think that ceding part of our sovereignty in foreign affairs is somehow contrary to an amalgam of Articles 1, 5 and 6 of the Constitution. If it is, it therefore affects and invalidates several of the post-accession Community Treaties and several other international agreements we have entered into in all good faith. He seems to think that the common good of the Irish people can never he in co-operation or sharing with others. The majority reasoning, as he expresses it, reflects an unfortunate insularity and an anachronistic isolationism that we would be well rid of. If he is right in his interpretation of our Constitution, we need not just a broad amendment now — we may well need a new Constitution that reflects and expresses universally accepted fundamental rights and duties, rather than specialised and detailed rights and duties representative mainly of social, political and economic thinking prevalent in some quarters in the thirties.

Ask any Irish farmer if the common good lies in co-operation with other nations or in specifically national aids and policies. What sane person wants to fight another economic war? Do we want an unfettered market of 3½ million or of 320 million people? Has the giving up of the concepts of protectionism and nationalistic sovereignty not brought us in return benefits beyond the wildest dreams of our forefathers?

The three judges forming the majority in the Supreme Court in this case might reflect that the vast power which they have now exercised to halt, for the time being at least, the development of the European Community as agreed between the 12 member states, would not reside in an Irish Court but for the ceding of sovereignty in some degree to us by 11 other European nations. Is that not significant for us? Were we ever before more powerful? That power, exercised on our behalf by the Supreme Court in this instance, did not arise from our inherent might. It arose from the generosity and trust of others more powerful and less self-centred than us.

Have we any right to be less generous and less trusting than they? We have the right to be different, as we are in our view of military alliances. But have we the right to abuse that difference when our partners specifically recognise and respect our uniqueness among them by imposing no obligations on us in this regard against our will? The Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Griffin restate the division of powers under our Constitution as they have been long understood and as I, among many others, understood them.

The extent to which the decisions of the Government, with the approval of the Dáil, in relation to the conduct of foreign relations may now be examined or questioned by the Courts, as held in the three other judgments, is a possible new factor in the division of powers. Articles 28 and 29 of the Constitution vest the exercise of these functions in the Government, with the proviso that the approval of the Dáil is necessary in certain circumstances.

The Government are answerable to the Dáil. The Dáil, in particular the majority thereof for the time being, is answerable to the people. No other institution is so answerable. The Dáil must therefore be the sole constitutional institution concerned with policy. The Courts' power of review must concern itself with ensuring compliance with fundamental rights and with specific entitlements of review given them in the Constitution itself. If the Dáil and the Government decide it is in the common good to cede limited sovereignty in the way we have, it is, I respectfully suggest, primarily for the people in a general election to tell them they are wrong. The Superior Courts can do so within certain specifically defined limits as I have said, but they can hardly strain the Constitution's interpretation to extend these limits. Personal or collective judicial approval or disapproval of policy is entirely irrelevant.

If a conflict of this kind were to arise it would be unpleasant and perhaps disruptive. But in the resolution of the conflict the elected institution would have to prevail. If it did not the people would not prevail. A court is not answerable to them. Let us hope no such problems arise. The best way to ensure that, in this instance, lies in the framing of an amendment to the Constitution that will restore the position to what it was understood to be up to two weeks ago. That is hardly revolutionary.

To allow the post-Crotty situation to be retained for everything except the Single European Act itself might well be quite revolutionary in constitutional terms. It would be a breeding ground for all kinds of conflict and potential conflict. We would have in the future a plethora of useless and pointless litigation by obstructionists. It would reduce our Constitution to a nit-picker's charter rather than retain it as a bastion of liberty. It would become a vehicle for examining technicalities rather than for vindicating fundamental and personal rights and liberties.

It is undoubtedly easier for the Dáil and the Government to sidestep difficulties and possible embarrassments in the short term by adopting the minimal and extremely narrow amendment before us. By avoiding legislative and political difficulties in the past we forced the Supreme Court to legislate for us. Then we often complained when they did. Are we now as a House going to funk yet another issue of importance? Are we once more going to fail to play our proper role? Are we so terrified of leadership and what it entails that we will once again let expediency and purely short term considerations rule our judgment? Do we care about the huge problems we will create for ourselves and 11 other States if we fail to grasp this relatively minor nettle?

There is a maxim in the interpretation of our law which says“Expressio unius, exclusio alterius”. This means that, if several things are of a kind broadly speaking and if one only of them is included in a legislative provision, it will be concluded that there was a deliberate intention to exclude the others. That is why the phrase “without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing...” is often used in legislation. Therefore if, this week, we include only the Single European Act in the proposed constitutional amendment there will be a presumption that we did not wish to cure the constitutional infirmities that seem to affect the ratification of so many other treaties and agreements, including the Anglo-Irish Agreement. If that is what the Government want, the Progressive Democrats will fight every inch of the way.

A refusal to do what is reasonable both for us and for Europe — by broadening the amendment to encompass what is normal — will be seen here and abroad as a rebuff by this House to Europe. I totally repudiate such a rebuff and do not want to be any part of it. Our future is in Europe. Our commitment must be there. Outside of Europe we will not prosper materially or spiritually. Introspective isolationalism will cause us to wither. That is the reality of our choice.

Since the people of this country voted overwhelmingly to join the EC in 1972 the Labour Party have committed themselves to working to secure the maximum benefit for our people from that decision. Our party have always seen the potential in Europe for dealing with many of the social and economic problems that confront us. Indeed we have argued that the question of unemployment, for instance, can be addressed only within a Europe-wide context. We have argued also that the benefits flowing from a Europe which is committed to the development of disadvantaged regions, especially those on the periphery of Europe, can be enormous, not just for us but for the whole of the Community. A Europe which is forward-looking, devoted to the ideal of removing the many inequities that exist between its richest and its poorest people, would have within it potential to enhance the lives of all its people.

Thus when I rise to speak on this debate I do so as the Leader of a party who are pro-Europe in its best sense. There will be those who, in the course of this debate, will wish to categorise anyone who has reservations about the course being followed as anti-Europe or as motivated by some kind of begrudgery. Such a categorisation would be inaccurate in our case and, I believe, in the case of the vast majority of people who have expressed anxiety about the proposal before us.

I speak also as one who has supported the Single European Act. I supported it when it was last before this House and also in internal debate and discussion within my party. I did so for two main reasons. First, I was satisfied that the provisions of Title II of the Act had within them important benefits not only for Europe but also for this country. Lest it be forgotten, let me remind the House that one of the major provisions of the Act is the strengthening of Europe's commitment to the very ideal of ending disparities between regions I mentioned earlier. Second, I was satisfied, and said so publicly, that the provisions of Title III which were much debated did not contain any threat to this country's ability to conduct an independent foreign policy and, hence, there was no possibility that our neutrality would be compromised.

The Supreme Court has now challenged that view. The reason we are here today is to debate the Government's response to that challenge. I would have to begin my contribution to this debate by making two points I believe are of major importance. First, we are being asked to take a decision here which might have fundamental and far-reaching consequences. The time being allotted for debate is woefully inadequate. We shall be lucky if 16 Members are afforded an opportunity to speak on Second Stage. Any amendments that arise on Committee Stage will be capable of being dealt with only in a railroading way. This is a very poor reflection on our capacity to take all the issues raised seriously: perhaps even worse, we are asked to embark on this debate without the benefit of any reaction or commentary by the Government on the meaning and implications of the Supreme Court judgment. That judgment ranged wider than one might believe by looking at the form of words the Government are asking us to adopt. I believe there is a wide consensus which agree with the view first expressed by me almost a fortnight ago, that the Supreme Court has raised a number of questions which must be answered. To take just one example for the moment — I shall be returning to others shortly — Mr. Justice Walsh in his judgment says that Title III impinges,inter alia, on this country's defence policies. Surely the Government must accept the obligation, before a debate such as this begins, to comment on this assertion? I believe the Members of this House and the people are entitled to know if the Government accept that that assertion is true. If so, what assurance will the Government provide this House that our defence policies will be dictated by our defence needs and by nothing else?

When I spoke to the Taoiseach on this matter I gave it as my view that I believe the first step he should have taken in the process of discussions he had begun with party Leaders should have been an analysis of the full legal implications of the Supreme Court judgment. In the event we have each been left to our own devices and have each arrived at our own conclusions. It is interesting to note that, in that process, there has been a good deal of changing of minds. Deputy Desmond O'Malley exemplified this process perfectly today when he protested about the amount of time being made available. This is the same Deputy whose immediate reaction to the judgment was to call on the Government to introduce an amendment to the Constitution in 24 hours and have it through the House by that weekend. In the process of analysis that has gone on, some of us have found ourselves agreeing about the implications of the judgment even though not about the nature and extent of the amendments to the Constitution that are required.

The Government have arrived at their very limited proposal for an amendment. As it is set out in this Bill it is entirely inadequate to deal with the far-reaching effects of the Supreme Court decision. Those effects were acknowledged by the Taoiseach in his remarks at the opening of the debate when he extended an invitation to the Leaders of the other parties in the House to meet him — after this amendment has been dealt with by the people — to discuss the implications of the judgment for the conduct of foreign policy and for our neutrality. This is the first time, to my knowledge, we have had an acknowledgment by the Government that such implications exist. Speaking on television on the evening the judgment was delivered, the Minister for Foreign Affairs denied these implications. I can only say I am surprised that if the Government are prepared to say now that there are serious implications, they are, at the same time, prepared to put on the long finger the task of dealing with them.

I believe the Taoiseach knows that the issues which arise can be dealt with only by further constitutional amendments. Why then is he pursuing a course which must lead to a series of amendments? The opportunity exists now to deal with all of these issues. It would be irresponsible to admit that there are serious issues which need to be dealt with and to delay unnecessarily the process of dealing with them.

In its consideration of the measures necessary to deal with the judgment the Labour Parliamentary party have concluded that it is necessary now — and not at some indeterminate date in the future — to amend the Constitution in two ways additional to the sentence proposed here by the Government. First, it is necessary to take this opportunity to assert in the Constitution our adherence, as a State, to an independent foreign policy outside of military alliances. A declaration to this effect, not enshrined in the Constitution, no matter how well meaning, is worth no more than the paper on which it is written especially in the face of this judgment. Second, it is necessary now to ensure that all of those treaties and agreements already in force and which have been ratified by this House in the past are fully protected.

My party intend to place amendments before the House to cover those two points. I would urge the Government to consider them very seriously. They represent our desire to approach this issue constructively and to endeavour to assist the Government and the House in preparing a real and worthwhile response to the situation now obtaining.

In the way in which he has addressed this issue so far the Taoiseach has demonstrated that he is prepared to have an open mind in relation to developing the best response. I believe he should now go one step further and seek to afford the amendments we are developing the urgency they deserve.

What are the implications of the judgment? I believe they fall to be considered under a number of headings: implications for Title III itself; for the Government's execution of foreign policy generally; for our neutrality; for the Anglo-Irish Agreement; and for the Constitution generally.

To turn first to Title III, it appears that theratio decidendi of the judgments of the court in relation to Title III are: (1) that the ratification of Title III would bind the State to surrender part of its sovereignty in the conduct of foreign relations; (2) under Title III the freedom of action of each member state is to be curtailed in the interests of the common good of the member states as a whole, whereas under our Constitution a point of reference for the determination of a final position on an issue of foreign relations is the common good of the Irish people; (3) it would be incompatible with the freedom of action conferred on the Government by the Constitution for the Government to qualify that freedom or to inhibit it in any way; (4) the restrictions on freedom of action contemplated by Title III are not within the power of the Government under Article 29.4.1 of the Constitution; (5) for the Government to acquire the power to ratify Title III would require a recourse to the people for their decision on this question of national policy, according to the requirements of their common good.

It would be an academic exercise for me to debate the question here whether in fact the State will be bound to surrender part of its sovereignty under Title III. It would be academic because the Supreme Court has decided that it does involve a surrender of sovereignty and it is the decision of the Supreme Court which must guide me now. My earlier view that sovereignty was not infringed must be and has been affected by the decision of the Supreme Court and although I believe Title III, if ratified, will allow us in the last analysis to say yes or no in the process of European political co-operation I must now proceed on the basis that European political co-operation involves a curtailment of the State's freedom of action in its foreign policy.

The upshot of the Supreme Court's decision is that we must have a referendum upon an amendment of the Constitution. This is the only course now open to us if we are intent on pursuing ratification of the Single European Act. This is because the court has found that the Government do not have the constitutional competence to ratify the Single European Act without an amendment of the Constitution. The Government must take this power and they propose to do so by way of the amendment suggested in this Bill to Article 29.4.3 of the Constitution. The Government ask us to ask the people to insert in Article 29.4.3 the following sentence before the last sentence in that provision:

The State may ratify the Single European Act (signed on behalf of the Member States of the Communities at Luxembourg on the 17th day of February, 1986 and at the Hague on the 28th day of February, 1986).

I find this proposal extraordinarily narrow. I am not speaking now in terms of the Constitution generally or about the extent of the Government's competence in foreign relations. I am speaking of the narrowness of this proposal in terms of the Single European Act and all it entails in terms of a commitment to further integration of our foreign policy with that of our European partners. The inspiration and direction of Title III is to a European political union at least in the sphere of foreign policy. If the people adopt this proposal the Constitution is amended in the manner proposed by the Government and the people will not have voted for European political union and if such a union evolves, participation in European political co-operation, then a further amendment to the Constitution will be necessary. If our partners in Europe do not know this what would they say if they did know it? Would they not be entitled to raise a real question about the extent of our commitment by asking: "How much are you Irish really committed to Europe and its aspirations when you will not give to your Government the power to work towards and negotiate for a European union in foreign policy?"

Quite apart from the sensitivities of our partners in Europe, is the narrowness of this provision not a reflection of our own lack of confidence in the European political co-operation process. If we were serious about being "true Europeans" we would surely have before us today a form of words which would reflect a full commitment to that process and which would not tie our Government to the inevitable restraints in foreign policy matters that arise from the judgment of the Supreme Court in Crotty's case. Then at least we would know where the Government stands. As a result of the Supreme Court judgment, restraints on the conduct of foreign policy are real and considerable. There is no use in ignoring the implications of the Supreme Court judgments for the execution by the Government of their foreign policy. The assertion of a foreign policy is a mark of statehood. This is all the more so if the policy asserted is truly independent. A short look at our foreign policy institutions and the general development of our place in international relations is essential to what I propose to say about this constraint that has been imposed on the Government in international relations.

The Department of Foreign Affairs were set up by Dáil Éireann in January 1919. This was followed by the Department of External Affairs of the Provisional Government. One of the first steps taken by the Dáil in its international affairs was the appointment of an Ambassador to Washington and it is noteworthy that this was balanced by the dispatch of a diplomatic mission to the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic.

The Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, defined the functions of the Department of External Affairs—as it was then known — as the administration of the public services in connection with communications and transactions with other Governments, diplomatic and consular representatives abroad, international amenities and the grant of passports and visas. The place of our independent foreign relations as a vital factor in the establishment of the new State, Saorstát Éireann is given clear proof by the establishment of the Department. In fact, it can be argued that the inclusion of the Department of External Affairs is the best example of the revolution that had occurred in our political status.

In 1923 the State had become a member of the League of Nations. The Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Desmond FitzGerald, put forward the State's candidature for the Council of the League in 1926 but he was not successful and the Irish Free State had to wait until 1930 when it succeeded Canada as a non-permanent member of the Council. In 1926, the same year, the Minister for External Affairs attended the Imperial Conference which resulted in the Balfour Declaration to the effect that members of the Commonwealth were "autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs ..."

Our membership of the Imperial Conference of 1930 allowed us to negotiate and secure resolutions of the conference which were to be given statutory effect in Westminister by way of the Statute of Westminster, 1931, the most important provisions of which were that no law of our new State should be void and inoperative on the ground that it was repugnant to the law of England and that no future Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom should extend to the new State unless it was expressly declared in the enactment that we had requested and consented to its enactment.

These provisions had the effect of loosening what restraints there were on the State's maturing to full independence. An example of the reality of our full independence in foreign policy was the participation by Mr. de Valera in the proceedings of the Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva in September 1935 when he made a striking speech stating that the State stood by its obligations under the covenant of the League. The war arising from the invasion by Italy of Abyssinia led the League to decide on the imposition of sanctions against Italy. This was agreed to by the Government as represented by Mr. de Valera and is a testament to his commitment that we should not "withhold the aid we should give as loyal members of the League in order to make the League successful".

Subsequently, in September 1938 Mr. de Valera became President of the League of Nations at a most difficult time in international relations and at a time when one would have expected that by reason of the maturity of the State we might have had a more defined position and policy in the evolving crises. The reality is that at that time we did not have a clearly stated or defined policy on what stance we might take in the event of war. When Mr. de Valera spoke on the issue on 13 July 1939 he was unable to give a clear statement of his policy on defence except that the Government had not commitments in the event of war and would avoid being involved if they could. On that occasion our neutrality appears to have been determined as much by pragmatism as by principle.

What is clear from this short résumé of the development of our independent foreign policy and of its institutions is that, apart from the decrees of Dáil Éireann in 1919 establishing diplomatic missions abroad, the pursuit of the State's foreign policy has been a matter at all times exclusively for the Government. Article 29.4.1º of the Constitution appears on its face to make that abundantly clear. It provides that:

The executive power of the State in or in connection with its external relations shall in accordance with Article 28 of this Constitution be exercised by or on the authority of the Government.

In a moment of thought nothing could be more clear but I believe that the judgments of the majority of the Supreme Court in the Crotty case have exploded our traditional understanding of that provision. I will refer to page 19 of the typescript of the judgment of Mr. Justice Walsh wherein he states—

In enacting the Constitution the People conferred full freedom of action upon the Government to decide matters of foreign policy and to act as it thinks fit on any particular issue or issues so far as policy is concerned and as, in the opinion of the Government, the occasion requires. In my view, this freedom does not carry with it the power to abdicate that freedom or to enter into binding agreements with other States to exercise that power in a particular way or to refrain from exercising it save by particular procedures, and so to bind the State in its freedom of action in its foreign policy. The freedom to formulate foreign policy is just as much a mark of sovereignty as the freedom to form economic policy and the freedom to legislate. The latter two have now been curtailed by this consent of the People to the amendment of the Constitution which is contained in Article 29, s. 4, subs. 3 of the Constitution. If it is now desired to qualify, curtail or inhibit the existing sovereign power to formulate and to pursue such foreign policies as from time to time to the Government may seem proper, it is not within the power of the Government itself to do so. The foreign policy organ of the State cannot, within the terms of the Constitution, agree to impose upon itself, the State or upon the People the contemplated restrictions upon freedom of action. To acquire the power to do so would, in my opinion, require a recourse to the People "whose right it is in the words of Article 6, ... in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good". In the last analysis it is the People themselves who are the guardians of the Constitution. In my view, the assent of the People is a necessary prerequisite to the ratification of so much of the Single European Act as consists of Title III thereof. On these grounds I would allow this appeal.

What I call the traditional interpretation of the Government's role and powers under Article 29 can be expressed best by quoting briefly from the Chief Justice's analysis of Article 29 and the other relevant provisions of the Constitution and where he says:

From these constitutional provisions, it seems reasonable to infer a scheme under the Constitution whereby by virtue of Article 29.5.1 Dáil Éireann should have a primary control over the exercise by the Government of its Executive power in relation to entering into international agreements, and whereby under Article 29.5.2. no international agreement of major importance being one that involved a charge upon public funds could even bind the State without the approval of Dáil Éireann as to its terms.

Later in his judgment he said:

It appears probable that under modern conditions a State seeking co-operation with other States in the sphere of foreign policy must be prepared to enter into, not merely vague promises but actual arrangements for consultation and discussion. I can find no warrant in the Constitution for suggesting that this activity would be inconsistent with the Constitution and would, as is suggested, presumably in each individual instance, require a specific amendment of the Constitution.

These two judgments bring into stark relief the true meaning and all the implications of this recent decision of the Supreme Court. Essentially the decision means that since December 1937 our Governments have not had the competence or power to enter into binding agreements with other States as to the manner they would exercise the executive power of the State in or in connection with external relations. If the State has entered into binding agreements which constrain its freedom of action in its foreign policies, those agreements are void unless there has been a recourse to the people whose right it is "in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good". I should say by way of comment that there is no provision in the Constitution for such a recourse to the people other than a referendum to amend the Constitution or a general election. In the case of a decision as to whether the State should be bound by treaty or agreement which is proposed by the Government, the appropriate form of constitutional amendment would be one such as that proposed by the Government Bill.

But in this instance we must ask whether the Government's Bill is enough? What is the status of international agreements and treaties which we have for so long considered bind us in our international relations? I think there is only one answer to these questions, and it is most disturbing having regard to the limited nature of the amendment to the Constitution which is proposed by the Government. I will take by way of example the Charter of the United Nations which entered into force on 24 October 1945. In Article 1 the principal purposes of the United Nations are set out as being:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

In Article 2 it is provided,inter alia, that:

2. All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

Article 2.3 provides:

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

The provisions of Article 1 set out in a general way the purposes and objectives which are to guide the United Nations and its members. The provisions of Article 2 just quoted are designed to direct the members to fulfilment of their obligations under the Charter.

Under the Charter the Security Council has "the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security" and in discharging this function it is obliged to act in accordance with the purposes and principles set out in Article 1 of the Charter. The members of the United Nations agreed that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility for international peace and security the Security Council acts on their behalf. Then in a crucial provision in Article 25 "The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter".

We are a member of the United Nations and we are bound in international law by Article 25 of its Charter. Our obligations under that article have the effect in international law of binding this State in its freedom of action, in its foreign policy, and it is quite clear that having regard to the judgments of the majority in the Supreme Court in the Crotty case a ratification of the United Nations Charter was not a matter within the competence of the then Government. Thus such ratification is void. In my opinion it would be entirely inconsistent of the courts to hold otherwise having regard to the decision of the majority in Crotty's case.

Similar considerations apply to the Statute of the International Court of Justice which entered into force in October 1945. This State has not submitted to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice so that so far as we are concerned the jurisdiction of the court only comprises those cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treatys and conventions in force, that is in Article 36 of the Statute. Let us assume for a moment that the State were to refer or submit the dispute concerning Rockall or the delineation of the Continental Shelf to the court. By virtue of Article 59 of the Statute the decision of the court on such issue will be binding in international law on this State. This is so notwithstanding the apparent constitutional incompetence of the Government to agree with the other party to submit the dispute to the court-any such agreement would be void for being unconstitutional as being a purported agreement by the Government to exercise their executive power in a particular way or, to quote the words of Mr. Justice Walsh, "to refrain from exercising it save by particular procedures, and so to bind the State in its freedom of action in its foreign policy".

It cannot be seriously suggested that, subject to such controls as may be deemed necessary, the Government do not have or are not to be given, without reference to the people by way of a constitutional amendment, the power to refer such a question as a dispute concerning Rockall or the Continental Shelf for determination by a tribunal of such repute as the International Court of Justice?

The proposal put before us is tantamount to a proposal that in every such case the question will have to be submitted to the people seeking their approval for the inclusion in the Constitution of an amendment to the effect that "the State may enter into an agreement between this State and State X for the resolution of such dispute". Is this realistic? Could any Government conduct sensitive and difficult international discussions and negotiations aimed at the resolution of common problems in such circumstances? The answer must be "no", the Government have failed entirely to recognise the depth and seriousness of the problem that now pervades the management of our international relations.

As a result a worrying question prevails over existing and future binding treaties and agreements that have been or might be made by the Government. The result is that a fundamental prejudice has been done to our relations with foreign states and international institutions. How can states be asked to deal with us when it is plain for all the world to see that more probable than not we are not bound under our domestic or constitutional law by the provisions of a number of agreements which are binding on us in international law and that, I emphasise this — we have failed to take any steps whatsoever to give validity to such agreements under our domestic arrangements? The truth is that States will not deal with us and they will have considerable difficulty taking us seriously in international affairs.

The scale of this problem is such that the number of treaties and agreements that might be affected by the recent decision would be too numerous to set out in a contribution such as this. Besides the Charter and the Statute there are other instruments and agreements which immediately spring to mind such as agreements on extradition, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Anglo-Irish Agreement. In these circumstances I had expected the Government to bring forward a proposal which would ensure such agreements could not be voided in terms of our domestic and constitutional law by virtue of the decision in the Crotty case. Since this has not happened the Labour Party will be publishing such an amendment.

I propose to turn now to the implications of the Crotty decision for our neutrality. It is nowhere expressly stated in that judgment that the Single European Act would impinge upon our neutrality. However, as is clear in the case of all international agreements of significance, the Single European Act does involve a derogation from our sovereignty. Even in this country we have traditionally associated neutrality with sovereignty — it was the first mark of our sovereignty. On the first day of the Anglo-Irish negotiations in October 1921 in a general discussion on foreign policy Arthur Griffith put it in terms of Ireland wanting to be "free to be neutral" in the event of a war declared by Britain. At that time neutrality was seen here as something immediately and intimately bound up with freedom from British rule. It may be for that reason that it is often wrongly perceived as an essentially anti-British stance.

Obviously the most unambiguous manifestation of our neutrality was the stand taken during the Second World War. As I said earlier it was the then Government's position in 1939 that in the event of war they would avoid being involved if they could. There are those who said and who continue to say that this approach was a negative one dictated by self interest. There probably was an element of this in it but it should never be forgotten that it is the moral code contrived by the self interest of great powers that justifies belligerency; and, whatever the moral arguments that may be advanced about our position in the last war, we should be vigorous in resisting every effort to force us into an alliance or alliances where security is determined by force or by the deterrents of naked military power.

I take this position for two reasons: First, in practical terms it is clear that the only alliance we could join at this time is the Western Alliance or NATO. There is no independent European alliance which is unassociated with one of the super-powers so if we are to join an alliance it would either have to be NATO or the Warsaw Pact. In view of our place in the world and in all our historical associations it is unlikely we could align ourselves with the latter. In any event it is my firm opinion that to join any alliance which is dominated by one or other of the super-powers is to lend a hand to the intensification of the arms race. Neither of these blocks should be encouraged. Second, being neutral and outside any alliance leaves us free to adopt an entirely independent stance in our foreign policy. This does not need elaboration.

For the reasons I have given our policy of neutrality should have constitutional recognition. This would be an explicit manifestation of our devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation among nations as expressed in Article 29 of the Constitution. Again, my party will be putting down an amendment to achieve this objective.

My remarks in relation to the implications of the Crotty decision for the execution of foreign policy generally have particular relevance to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I need not say where I stand in relation to the agreement and that I believe my position is representative of a great volume of opinion in the country. There can be no doubt the agreement brought a new dynamic into the equation of Northern Irish politics and Anglo Irish affairs generally. There is a general recognition among Northern Nationalists that the institutions established by the Agreement, particularly the Conference and the Secretariat, have a relevance for and a vital influence in accommodating the rights and identities of those of the Nationalist tradition with the rights and identities of those of the Unionist tradition and in establishing peace, stability and prosperity throughout the island, particularly in Northern Ireland.

If there is any risk at all of this agreement being successfully impugned before our courts on the basis of theratio decidendi of the Crotty case — that it is not open to the Government to inhibit their freedom of action in any manner by formal agreement with other states without recourse to the people — then there is an onerous responsibility on the Government to put the matter beyond doubt straight away by having the agreement affirmed by the people.

I said I would make some remarks about the implications of the Crotty case for the Constitution. Nobody here will deny that that decision establishes a new summit in the range of judicial activism. The majority opinion of the court was that the courts have power to intervene and to inhibit the exercise by the Government of their executive power in external relations when that power is being exercised in a manner which fetters or binds a Government or future Governments to act in a particular manner or in accordance with a particular procedure. This decision does not derive from any particular provision of the Constitution but from a general appraisal of the constitutional provisions which are referred to in the judgments. This is the business of constitutional science. This majority decision was surprising because of its novelty. The traditional view of the Constitution whereby external relations were a matter for the Government subject to the supervision of the Dáil can no longer pass muster.

It is essential that we take stock of this situation immediately with a view to reconciling the majority opinion of the Supreme Court with the practical needs of the management of our foreign policy. Essentially, this is a matter of separation of powers involving the entitlement of the courts to intervene so as to prevent the Government from ratifying a treaty in circumstances where there is no actual or threatened invasion of the constitutional rights of an individual. The Chief Justice described this as an issue of a "fundamental nature", the importance of which transcended the significance of the provisions of the Single European Act itself. He said that the separation of powers involved for each of the three constitutional organs, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary involved not only rights but duties also; not only areas of activity and function, "but boundaries to them as well". It is abundantly clear from the judgment of the Chief Justice that it was his opinion that it was not possible "to imply any right in the courts in general to interfere in the field or area of external relations with the exercise of an Executive Power".

It is our responsibility to ensure that the Constitution remains a working and workable framework for the affairs of our State. We cannot do that by adopting the piecemeal andad hoc approach that is now being advocated by the Government. If it is clear — and it is so clear that the Taoiseach has accepted it — that the Bill before the House only deals with one of the fundamental issues raised by the Supreme Court, we are being asked to take a very unwise course of action in ignoring the other issues. For that reason I urge the Government to reconsider the position and, in particular, to remain open to consideration of further amendments which would enhance the future. I reiterate that it is absolutely vital that the Government make it clear that they are prepared to consider amendments which will effectively deal with the implications of this judgement. In the event that they do so, I believe it is possible that they will find a great deal of support in the House and in the community at large.

As Leader of the Labour Party I would like to hear a response from the Government on the points I have raised particularly in relation to the amendments we will be putting down and the reasons I have outlined for putting down those amendments. I will be asking, through the Taoiseach who is present in the House, for a response from the Government before the conclusion of the Second Stage debate. I will expect the Taoiseach to give a response to this vital issue which could have very long lasting effects on this Government and future Governments in the carrying out of their foreign relations. In the absence of any response, I must inform the House that the Labour Party will be voting against the Bill on Second Stage.

The purpose of this Bill is to arrange in a very straightforward and clearcut way for the holding of a referendum to amend the Constitution in order to enable Ireland to ratify the Single European Act. The amendment and the referendum are made necessary by the Supreme Court decision which challenged the constitutionality of Title III of the Single European Act. The Government have decided to put the matter beyond doubt by giving the people the opportunity to decide in favour of ratifying the Single European Act by referendum.

I listened carefully to the opening speeches by the spokesmen on foreign affairs and the Leaders of the parties. It is important to remind the House that on the last day of the session it was decided that, if necessary, we should come back to debate and clarify what was going to happen following the Supreme Court decision. The Government have acted quickly in relation to this Act. It was not of the Government's making to get into this position. It must be said that the last Government had the Act on their tables for a considerable length of time. Some of the people who have spoken here today did not bother to speak on the issue last December and some who did speak did not bother to raise any of the constitutional matters.

It is only fair to point out that Deputy O'Malley did not speak then and that when Deputy Keating spoke on behalf of the Progressive Democrats he did not mention the constitutional position. The then Government had all the legal advice necessary available to them and when the people on this side of the House argued in favour of a constitutional amendment, the Government side said they did not think it was necessary to have any amendment, never mind the stronger one which they have today and which they are now arguing for.

I am sure the amendments which the Leader of the Labour Party will put down will be debated and will be responded to from this side of the House.

The Taoiseach has made it quite clear that at this stage he is not in favour of changes. Many of the arguments which were made, particularly by Deputy O'Malley, would, if conceded, widen the debate. That is the reason the Government went for a straight amendment so that people could vote on the issue of our position within the Common Market and on the Single European Act and not bring in all the other issues which have arisen or which may arise during the course of this debate. This was fully considered and it was on the basis that all other issues would be brought in and not the central issue of our position with the other member states that we opted for this straight amendment.

The amendment to our Constitution which this Bill proposes to put before the people gives them the opportunity to show their willingness — and, it seems, the willingness of this House — to have Ireland play a full and active role in the development of the European Community. The arguments for this have been made by everybody who has spoken here today and, in particular, by the Taoiseach. I do not intend going back on all of those arguments because I want to touch on some other ones.

Ireland's application for membership of the European Community was originally made in full awareness of the political ideals and aims of the Rome Treaty. The challenge of participation in shaping the political development of the Community was clearly seen in 1973 when the Irish people approved our becoming a member by an overwhelming majority vote. The necessity for closer European integration among the member states of the Community is now even more clearly seen to be in our longer term interests.

The Government, acting fully in accordance with their constitutional obligations, have therefore decided to enable the people to approve the ratification of the Single European Act by referendum. The Government have also decided to present, in conjunction with our instrument of ratification, a declaration which will spell out clearly Ireland's position on neutrality and on the need for substantial measures to bring about economic and social cohesion.

The experience of our membership of the Community and the main implications of the Single European Act are often seen in exclusively economic or political terms. The impression is probably strengthened when the figures are given for the high level of receipts which Ireland has received from the Community. People are likely to be happier about areas of Community policy which they know are likely to be of immediate concern to them. That is why I want to look at different aspects of the social policy of the Community. The social dimension of the Community was after all given real "heart" for the first time when an t-Uachtarán, Patrick Hillery, then our first EC Commissioner, devised the social action programme.

This Government have no illusions about the shortcomings in the workings of the European Community. Unfortunately the Community has been unable so far to tackle effectively the continuing and growing problem of unemployment or to reduce the gap in living standards between the richer and the poorer member states. As the Community expanded to take on new members, it became more and more difficult to keep the decision-making process ticking over, to harness the potential of a larger market and to tap the great scope for research and technological development.

The Single European Act has brought together the outcome of negotiations between the member states on the reforms to the Rome Treaty which are necessary to enable the Community to break out of its paralysis and to relaunch its policies for economic growth and greater social cohesion.

Let us be very clear about one thing. The ratification of the Single European Act will not in itself redress all the shortcomings of the European Community or make it suddenly more meaningful to the people of Europe in terms of employment, social dignity and justice.

Getting the Single European Act to work successfully in the interests of increased integration within the Community depends on the commitment among member states to give practical effect to its provisions. That is why it is so very important that we use this referendum opportunity to show our support for the relaunching of the Community.

The Government are fully alert to the need to make the most of the provisions of the Single European Act in our efforts to tackle the immediate and serious problems we face as a member of the Community. These problems include the provision of adequate financial resources to enable Community policies to be fully implemented and its obligations met; the adaption of the CAP and the reform of the structural funds. How we proceed to make use of the Single European Act will have very significant consequences in these key policy areas.

In 1985 the European Commission took the initiative in putting forward what is called a Co-operative Growth Strategy. This plan was prepared because the Commission recognised correctly that we cannot continue to rely on the prospect of some spontaneous improvement in economic performance. The Commission's proposals for economic growth and job creation reflected the emphasis which the Taoiseach had placed in the 1981-82 period on the need for a concerted policy approach to the problem of unemployment on the part of our partners in Europe.

Present levels of economic performance and investment are not likely to bring about substantial reductions in unemployment. The co-operative growth strategy — despite the support it has received from European trade unions and employer bodies — has not yet been actively pursued. The more powerful economies have been prepared up to now to let it wither on the vine.

The fate of the co-operative growth strategy leaves no room for complacency. This Government take the view that the stronger European States must commit themselves to the application of macroeconomic policies designed to increase demand and boost employment. The tendency instead up to now has been to take refuge in modest economic growth, low inflation and the fact that high unemployment has ceased to get worse. We need to turn the focus more upon those who continue to suffer as a direct consequence of these conditions. We must ensure that the material and other resources of the Community are channelled to help those without work.

The Government's programme for growth and economic recovery is wholly consistent with this kind of balanced approach to economic and social policies aimed at structural improvements and the generation of employment. We have also demonstrated our commitment to involving the social partners directly in this exercise at national level.

The implementation of the Single European Act will require action by the European Community on six major policy areas: the establishment of a single large market without barriers at national frontiers; the achievement of economic and social cohesion, which for us means reducing the disparities between the richer and the poorer regions of the Community; a common policy for scientific and technological development; the strengthening of the European Monetary System; the development of a European social dimension; and action on the environment.

In the achievement of economic and social cohesion it is recognised that a key role will be played by the Community Structural Funds. These are the European Regional Development Fund the European Social Fund and the Agricultural Fund, FEOGA Guidance. The President of the Commission has stated that the Structural Funds should be reformed and given more resources so that they can give greater help to the less developed regions and thereby enable them to catch up with the more prosperous parts of the Community.

The Taoiseach has already stated this afternoon that we agree with the view of the Commission President that the success of the Single European Act will depend on making real progress towards greater cohesion. The declaration on economic and social cohesion to be deposited with out Instrument of Ratification will serve to remind our partners of their commitment when we joined the EC in 1973 to support our policies for industrialisation and economic development.

The arrival into the Community of Spain and Portugal has given greater urgency to the problem of regional disparities. Before those two countries joined the Community one citizen in eight in the EC had an annual income which was 30 per cent below the Community average. The incidence of persons on such low incomes now is one in five.

The Commission is proposing that the budgetary resources of the Structural Funds be doubled in real terms by 1992. If this were to come about, and if the funds themselves were suitably modified, there would be a reasonable prospect of reducing and redressing the problem of regional imbalances in the EC.

The task of building cohesion will not stop even when the target of doubling the resources of the funds is achieved. We will have to continue to work for closer economic integration. We will also have to ensure that some mechanisms for reviewing progress towards that goal are established.

From what we know at this stage of the Commission's proposals for the reform of the Structural Funds they contain a number of very positive elements. There is also the proposal, for instance, to concentrate Community budget funds on the least favoured regions, including the whole of Ireland. There is a further proposal to double the funds by 1992. In the Social Fund the intention is to concentrate on helping the long term unemployed and providing employment for young people — especially in their first jobs. These are objectives which we in Ireland can endorse. Long term unemployment is a major problem for us, as also is youth unemployment. When the Commission's detailed proposals for the individual funds are announced by the Commission in the Council of Ministers, this Government will ensure that the overall package of proposals to promote economic and social cohesion will provide positive benefits for Ireland.

With the European Social Fund, which comes directly under my Department, Ireland has enjoyed particular success down the years. The assistance received from the fund has enabled Ireland to develop its vocational training facilities and job creation abilities to a level which would not have been possible otherwise.

The Social Fund provides assistance to AnCO, the Department of Education, the Department of Labour, CERT, the IDA, ACOT and several other bodies concerned with training. It also provides generous assistance for those organisations dealing with the training of the handicapped.

This year alone the total amount of European Social Fund assistance approved for Ireland will exceed £162 million. During the past few years, and expecially since the accession of the new member states, the demands on the budget of the Social Fund have increased considerably, making it more difficult for us to retain our favourable position in the fund. I am hopeful that the proposal to double the fund's resources will lead to an easing in the competition between countries for the available moneys.

Under the present rules of the European Social Fund, eligible training schemes are assisted at a level of 55 per cent of the cost. Employment schemes, such as the social employment scheme, are assisted at a lower level. In the forthcoming review of the Social Fund. I intend to press for a higher rate of assistance for all programmes. A higher rate of assistance would enable the Government to do much more with the same level of Exchequer expenditure and would make a significant contribution to the achievement of economic and social cohesion which is one of the principal aims of the Single European Act. I am hopeful that the other member states will see that a higher rate of assistance for the less developed regions would be the best way of helping those regions.

In my contribution last month at the Informal Council of Social Affairs Ministers, I emphasised the need to take special steps to ensure that the increased recources go where they are needed most. This is the one issue on which the Community has to show its solidarity with those regions which suffer unemployment and low gross national product.

These regions at present have great difficulty in finding the necessary matching funds from their own resources. This has proved a barrier to mounting essential programmes even when these qualify for a higher rate of Social Fund support. The problem arises from the fact that those countries in most need of assistance from the European Social Fund in order to achieve the goal of social cohesion are, by definition, least able to provide matching funds.

The negotiations for the reform of the Social Fund cannot be divorced from the discussions on the other proposals in the Commission's package. The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will have a greater impact on Ireland's prosperity than anything which might emerge on the Structural Funds. The proposals for the reform of the European Regional Development Fund are also crucial.

Here the Commission's proposals are quite interesting. They envisage a greater role for the European Regional Development Fund and a greater concentration of its increased resources on the least developed regions, which would include all of this country.

They also envisage a more integrated approach towards development and a closer working relationship between the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and Community Financial Instruments, such as the European Investment Bank.

This move towards an integrated appoach to development requires careful study and we shall have to see whether it suits our system and whether it is to our advantage in terms of attracting more funds from Brussels before we commit ourselves to it.

Some people have begun to argue recently that the passing of the referendum, in conjunction with the Third Amendment which opened the way to EC membership, could have the effect of undermining the fundamental rights of citizens under our Constitution. There are several examples of issues in the field of social policy where our membership of the European Community has provided added strength and clarify to the expression of these rights.

Ireland's membership of the European Community has, for instance, provided a significant impetus for the achievement of equality at work. Article 119 of the Rome Treaty and the various equality directives which sprang from the Social Action Programme of 1974 have provided a guarantee of equal rights between the sexes in the workplace and ensured that the elimination of discrimination in employment based on sex now forms part of the fundamental personal human rights which our courts have a duty to ensure.

This is an important example because the principle of equality between men and women is one of those rules of law which has not yet been derived from commonly accepted practice. Instead the achievement of equality at work often means challenging and changing what is commonly practised.

Our membership of the EC resulted in the development in Ireland during the seventies of a detailed framework for securing the legal rights and entitlements of individual workers. As part of my responsibility as Minister for Labour I intend to examine the equality Acts which have been in operation for nearly a decade now particularly in the light of some significant rulings in equality cases by the European Court of Justice. I will consider whether changes are necessary to strengthen these Acts and make them a more decisive instrument in furthering equality in the labour market.

We should be clear about the scope of the social policy of the Community. The main purpose of the EC was to create a common market. Rules were devised to ensure that competition within the market would not be distorted. That objective has led gradually to an acceptance of the need to consider the social consequences of economic rules. The social provisions which have to be adopted by member states within the framework of Community Social Policy will not override any of the fundamental values which are upheld in our Constitution.

The scope of the Community's concern in the social policy field is very limited. Article 119 which deals with equal pay is the only clause in the social policy section of the Rome Treaty which puts an obligation on member states. The only specific provisions in the Single European Act in the social policy area related to improvements in the working environment in the interests of the health and safety of workers. The Act also provides in this section for the Commission to continue to promote dialogue between the social partners at European level. These are goals which we fully support.

It is being suggested in some quarters that our neutrality policy is being eroded through our participation in European Political Co-operation and that our ratification of the Single European Act entailing approval of Title III of the Act which deals with European Co-operation in the Sphere of Foreign Policy will erode it further. While I understand this concern I do not think that it is justified. The portion of the Single European Act which has given rise to this difficulty was not incorporated in the European Communities (Amendment) Act, 1986, and was approved by the Dáil by means of a motion.

When we were in Opposition we consistently raised the issue of neutrality in order to ensure that our position outside military alliances, which has the support of the vast majority of the Irish people, would not be endangered. The Single European Act clearly distinguishes between the kind of political and foreign policy co-operation which is envisaged by the Act and the military co-operation between states which are parties to military alliances like NATO.

The provisions of the Single European Act give Ireland the opportunity to further develop our role as a neutral country. It does not impede us in any way from continuing to seek through peaceful means to bring about harmony between Europe and Third World states and to pursue the goal of nuclear disarmament. The Declaration which the Government propose to submit together with our Instrument of Ratification will put our neutral status internationally beyond all doubt.

European Political Co-operation is the process by which member states of the Community, operating on the basis of consensus, exchange information, consult together and, where possible, seek to adopt common positions and to take joint action on the main foreign policy issues of concern to them. Of course this involves consultation and co-operation in foreign policy but the emergence of a common position depends entirely on the achievement of consensus. No member state is obliged to pursue a policy determined by other member states. We have been involved in that process since 1973 and it has always been clearly understood by our partners that defence and military matters were excluded from discussion because of Ireland's neutral position.

We have demonstrated in the past that the fact that our partners are NATO members and may be willing to go along together with certain measures does not mean that we are under pressure to discuss matters or to adopt positions that are not to our liking. Everybody recognises and accepts the limitations on the scope of European Political Co-operation. The terms of Title III itself have been drafted to permit the utmost freedom of action to member states in the sphere of foreign policy. Let me make it very clear: the Single European Act does not affect our ability to continue to pursue a policy of neutrality.

We in Ireland are justifiably proud of the role which we have been able to play in international affairs, especially by sponsoring and promoting disarmament measures and by involvement in UN peace-keeping efforts. Neither ratification of the Single European Act nor further participation in European Political Co-operation will diminish our continuing ability to pursue these or other objectives which are important to us. We can be confident that our policy of neutrality remains intact for as long as we want it to and that the Single European Act does not provide leverage for inducing us to give it up.

The Single European Act provides both a challenge and an opportunity for us. Europe is developing and changing and we must move with it. We have the opportunity to contribute to the more efficient working of the Community, we also have the opportunity to reshape the various European Structural Funds in order to reduce unemployment and improve living conditions in the peripheral regions. I hope that we will take those opportunities.

Let me again emphasise that the Government have given very careful consideration to this matter following the Supreme Court judgment. The Government decided to recommend approval of the constitutional amendment before the House after satisfying themselves that they could do so in a manner consistent with our commitment to the sovereignty of the Irish people and to upholding the fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution. The Government's support for the constitutional amendment is based on their confidence that ratification of the Single European Act will not in any way impair Ireland's international status of military neutrality and will, in fact, strengthen our hand in pressing for Community measures designed to produce greater social and economic cohesion. The Declaration which the Government propose to deposit alongside the Instrument of Ratification will serve as a signal of our commitment to both our neutral status and of our entitlement to the recognition by our partners of our special economic needs.

I am calling Deputy Proinsias De Rossa.

On a point of order, I should like on behalf of my Party, to raise a question as to the order of speakers. It appears to be the intention of the Chair to call Deputy De Rossa but that will mean that three speakers will have come from groups representing 30 Members and only one from the major Opposition Party which has 51 Members. I wonder whether it is intended to pursue this procedure which seems to me somewhat invidious.

The Deputy will appreciate that it is not obligatory on the Chair to explain the way Deputies are called but I should like to indicate to the Deputy that for the last few weeks a pattern has developed whereby the leading spokespersons for the three official Opposition parties that have numbers in excess of seven have been called in that order. Because The Workers' Party do not qualify for the first round they have been called immediately after the second Government spokesperson. That is what I intend doing now but I should like to tell the Deputy that it is my intention having called Deputy De Rossa to revert to the Opposition side and call the Deputy.

I take the Chair's point as finally enunciated but had he not added that I would have had difficulty in understanding the Chair's distinction between parties with more than seven Members and those with fewer than seven Members.

That is specified in Standing Orders.

That is why I was puzzled that having decided that parties with more than seven Members could speak — the indication being that if they had fewer than seven they would not get the same treatment — that a party with fewer than seven should get the same treatment. However, I note the Chair's intention to come to the Opposition following Deputy De Rossa.

A party with fewer than seven Members has not been called in the first round.

This is the first round.

It is not. We have had the Taoiseach, spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrats and the Labour Party followed by a spokesperson for the Government. Now I am calling a spokesperson for a party which has not yet contributed. This is the beginning of the second round.

I understood differently.

I do not propose to delay the House very long. I spoke at great length on 10 December on the Single European Act and I do not propose to go over that ground again.

I move the following amendment:

To delete all words after "that", and substitute the following:

Dáil Éireann, noting with concern the implications of the Single European Act for this country's ability to operate an independent foreign policy, which were highlighted in the recent judgment of the Supreme Court, and conscious of the other serious political and economic implications of the Single European Act for the Irish people, declines to give a Second Reading to the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, and calls on the Government to seek to renegotiate the Act to ensure that its provisions conform with the requirements of the Irish Constitution, and do not threaten the economic or political welfare of the Irish people.

The Workers' Party position on the Single European Act from the very beginning has been that the Act as agreed to and signed by the previous Government, had enormous political and economic risks for the Irish people. We have maintained all along that the Act could and should have been renegotiated to provide the amendments necessary to defend our political and economic interests. The mistakes were made when the Single European Act was being negotiated and when it was signed by the previous Government without reference to the Dáil or the people. This Bill and the subsequent referendum will be our last chance to undo these mistakes and prevent possibly irreparable damage to Irish interests.

In February 1986, shortly before the then Minister for Foreign Affairs was due to sign the Single European Act, the leader of The Workers' Party, Tomás Mac Giolla, wrote to the then Taoiseach, Dr. Fitzgerald, asking him not to allow the Minister to sign the Act until such time as there had been a proper national debate on its implications for this country. That did not happen, and the Act, which represents the most significant change in the terms of our membership since we joined in 1973, was signed by the then Government, although only a tiny percentage of the population at that stage were even aware of the existence of the Single European Act, and fewer still were aware of its possible consequences. There was no national debate on the pros and cons of the Act, and although it was debated and its terms approved by the Dáil in December last, there was little opportunity for a thorough public debate on it, and little attempt by the former Government to acquaint the public with the terms of the Act.

This is despite the fact that the process of developing the Single European Act took place over a period of three years. The former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Peter Barry, reiterated that point today. There is no denying that this is the case, but the reality is that no debate took place in the county at large on the implications of the Single European Act. Statements were made in this House at various times in relation to agreements and protocols between Governments within the EC, but the method of statements did not permit a detailed debate on the issues involved. The general public were not aware and are still not aware of the very serious implications of this Act and the major changes which are taking place in our membership of the EC. Most people in this House will agree that the Single European Act does represent a very major change in the terms of our membership of the Community.

In the light of what I have said, we should thank Mr. Raymond Crotty for his public spirit. He put himself at considerable financial risk by bringing a case through the courts of the land to test the constitutionality of the Single European Act. The Supreme Court has made a decision and that is why we are debating the matter yet again. Various speakers today have questioned the basis of that decision, but they have not denied the right of the court to make the decision. I wonder to what extent it would have been questioned if the Supreme Court had given the reverse decision and found by the same margin, the Single European Act to be constitutional. I have no doubt that people who are now criticising the basis of that decision would not be critical at all if the decision had been in their favour.

The current administration have, in their short life, already established some sort of record for U-turns but surely their shift of position on the Single European Act is one of the most astonishing so far. From the position where, in December last, Fianna Fáil not only voted against the Second and Committee Stages of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, which provided the legislative basis for implementing the Single European Act, in this country, but also sought substantially to amend the terms of the motion ratifying the Act itself, Deputy Haughey and his party have now turned full circle and have become such supporters of the Act that they have organised the emergency recall of the Dáil, have proposed a constitutional amendment seeking to ratify the Act without qualification, and will presumably campaign for the amendment in the referendum campaign.

It is worth rereading the Dáil debates of 9, 10 and 11 December last year. It is interesting to compare what was said then by Deputy Haughey with what he said today as Taoiseach. In column after column of the Official Report Deputy Haughey pointed to the political and economic dangers of the Single European Act for this country. He is now in a position to demand renegotiation to remove or qualify the objectionable sections but he has chosen not to do so. For instance, in the course of the debate on 9 December last Deputy Haughey said:

The Government's claim that the Single European Act protects and recognises Irish neutrality for the first time cannot be sustained. On the contrary, it commits us to a position of closer co-operation ... in the field of security within WEU and NATO. It seems likely that there will be increased pressure on us in the future to co-ordinate on all aspects of security including the military ones.

Deputy Haughey went on to say:

We have reached, perhaps gone beyond, what is strictly compatible with Irish neutrality.

Speaking on our relations with other countries, Deputy Haughey said:

The question that must be asked is whether our international status in this regard can be maintained and made consistent with our membership of the new Community that will emerge if and when the Single European Act is ratified by all the member states. There is very good reason to doubt it.

They are explicit and clear statements of concern by Deputy Haughey when leader of Fianna Fáil in opposition. I find it extremely difficult to reconcile that position with the position of the Fianna Fáil Party under Deputy Haughey as Taoiseach in relation to the Single European Act. I recognise of course that any person can have a change of mind but there has been a total reversal of position in such a short time that there must be some doubt as to how far the Taoiseach believes in what he is doing today or believed in what he did last December.

Shortly after the general election we had the first indication that the Taoiseach had changed his position. During a visit to Brussels in early March, before he was elected Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey had changed his position significantly. He was reported in the media as saying that Fianna Fáil would have no difficulty with the foreign policy part of the Single European Act. Of course, the Single European Act has not changed. What has changed is the Fianna Fáil position. The change from Opposition to Government has produced the usual transformation. From being vigorous defenders of Irish sovereignty and neurality last December, they have now become so-called good Europeans, anxious to do the bidding of the leaders of the major member states. They are apparently unable to say no.

I was particularly struck by a remark made by Deputy O'Malley in relation to this whole question when he referred to what he believed was the attitude of the leaders of the other member states as being amused tolerance of our position. That strikes me as a display of inferiority by Deputy O'Malley. On the basis of that remark Deputy O'Malley seems to be anxious to please the leaders of the major member states at any cost. He appears to be embarrassed by the idea that the Irish Constitution should in any way interfere with what the other states want, and that we should have to have an annoying referendum to rectify the situation.

Following the decision of the Supreme Court, The Workers' Party publicly urged the Government to seek the agreement of the other members of the EC to whatever changes might be necessary in the Act to ensure that it conformed with the requirements of the Irish Constitution, rather than rushing to insert a constitutional amendment which might have serious but unforeseen long term implications. As far as we are aware, there has never been an approach to other EC member states to seek agreement on possible changes and both the Government and the other parties in the Dáil seem to have thrown in the towel on the question of renegotiation.

There is no obligation to take the major step proposed today to further amend our Constitution simply to meet the requirements of other member states. The people agreed to the limits of our obligations to the EC in 1972 when our Constitution was changed to facilitate entry. If the political will is there, there is nothing to prevent us seeking to renegotiate the Single European Act, particularly in the light of the Supreme Court decision. There has been a change of Government. In Opposition they expressed the views I referred to in my quotations. As Deputy Haughey pointed out in the December debate, the United Kingdom renegotiated the terms of her membership of the European Community twice, and Greece did so once. If other countries can renegotiate the whole basis of their membership of the Community, surely we can seek to renegotiate an agreement which fundamentally alters the basis on which we agreed to enter the Community in the first place.

When the European Communities (Amendment) Bill and the motion of ratification were before the Dáil last December, there were all sorts of dire warnings about the consequences if we did not ratify the Act by 1 January. These warnings have been resurrected and intensified, with predictions of disastrous consequences if the proposed constitutional amendment is not passed. As I said last December, these threats raise serious questions about the nature of our relationship with the other members of the Community. In 1972 we were told by advocates of EC membership that the changes which were then made in the Constitution, and the extent to which we were required to surrender part of our sovereignty and independence, were all that we would be asked to agree to.

Now we are told that if we do not amend our Constitution yet again, immediate and terrible things will happen to us. If we surrender to this kind of moral blackmail on this occasion, if the people agree to the constitutional amendment and the Single European Act is ratified without change, we will be creating, in my view, a very dangerous precedent. If we ratify the Act under this pressure, what is to stop the other EC members coming back to us in six months or in six years time and saying: "You must agree to change the terms of your membership yet again; you must agree to military matters being discussed by the EC; you must agree to an even closer relationship between the EC and NATO, and if you do not your membership will be put in jeopardy, or your financial aid from the Community will be cut."

A "no" vote against the amendment will not put us out of the EC or endanger our entitlements to EC funds or benefits. The Single European Act is put under Article 236 of the Treaty of Rome. This requires ratification by all EC member states before the Act can be enforced. A "no" vote in Ireland would simply leave us with the original unamended EC Treaty. We will still be members and still be entitled to CAP and structural fund benefits. We will still be obliged to fulfil any obligations we have under the original EC Treaty. Nor can the rest of the Community proceed with the Single European Act without Irish agreement. It would be able to implement only some of the proposals in a piecemeal fashion under present procedures. A "no" vote in our view would force renegotiation of the Single European Act and help build a better Europe in the process. In my view it would be a better Europe if the EC were to show a capacity to take into account the concerns of one of the weakest of the member states.

While the judgment of the Supreme Court related only to the implications of the Single European Act for our foreign policy, specifically Title III and the amendment of the Constitution before us seeks to ratify the Act, this House and the people in a referendum must consider all aspects of the Act, both political and economic.

Last August at a time when there was little public or media interest in the Single European Act, The Workers' Party outlined the main reasons why we should oppose the Single European Act in its present form. As far as we are concerned the amendment to the Single European Act which are needed are to ensure the maintenance of Irish neutrality and non-alignment by removal of any reference to NATO and by inclusion of a clause recognising the right of any member to pursue a policy of non-alignment for itself and to promote such a policy for Europe, the right to promote denuclearisation and the right to promote the ending of military alliances, both NATO and Warsaw. In relation to that Article 31 (6) (c) specifically states:

Nothing in this Title shall impede closer co-operation in the field of security between certain of the High Contracting Parties within the framework of the Western European Union or the Atlantic Alliance.

Obviously those who favour the Single European Act argue that this specifically defends Irish neutrality. In my view the wording is ambiguous. It specifically excludes Ireland or any other country from pursuing any policy other than one which supports the development of the NATO military policy or the political policies of the Western European Union.

In our view, a further amendment which is needed is the maintenance of Ireland's equal voting status on the EC Council through retention of unanimity to ensure that market integration is completed at a pace compatible with Irish economic capabilities. Furthermore, a derogation is needed for Ireland and, indeed, for any other country with high unemployment and underdevelopment, from the December 1992 deadline for the completion of the internal market, for so long as this country requests it and while those disparities that exist between us and the rest of Europe continue to exist. The possibility that the Commission may propose temporary derogations from Article 8 (c) of the relevant section of the Single European Act is not adequate protection for us. There is also a need for a specific integrated regional programme to be negotiated prior to the ratification of the Single European Act.

It is significant that the Single European Act proposess the implementation of over 300 directives for the completion of the internal market and that is to be done by 1992; yet in relation to regional funding and development of regional aid and a regional programme the Single European Act simply says that a meeting must be held within a year of the ratification of the Single European Act which will decide on a programme but there is no specific commitment to funding. Again, although the Commission indicated recently that they hoped to double the regional funding, there is no specific commitment as to how that funding will be operated and how it will relate to Ireland's needs. We are, in effect, buying a pig in a poke by failing to negotiate a regional package for Ireland before the Single European Act is ratified.

I might add that that is the point which the European movement in Ireland have made in their own publicity material about the Single European Act where they said clearly that unless there is adequate funding of the regional programmes the section on the completion of the internal market and the proposal in relation to assisting the weaker economies are not worth the paper they are written on. There is also a need for a derogation from the timescale for harmonisation of indirect taxes and protection for Ireland and other underdeveloped regions from full application of the competition rules and the measures proposed against State supports.

I do not propose to go into any further detail on these aspects other than to say that I dealt with them in great detail on 10 December. All of these are important areas of concern and all should receive careful consideration by the people before deciding how to vote in this referendum.

The judgment of the Supreme Court, although it relates only to Title III, has justified the position taken by The Workers' Party and some other critics of the Act. If we amend the Constitution as the Government are requesting, it will not avoid the damage that the Supreme Court pointed out would be done to our ability to operate an independent foreign policy. Justice Henchy, in his judgment, stated quite clearly that a "purely national approach to foreign policy is incompatible with accession to the Treaty". He further states that each ratifying member "will be bound to surrender part of his sovereignty in the conduct of foreign relations". Later in his judgment, he warned that if Ireland were to ratify this Treaty, "it would be bound in international law to engage actively in a programme which would infringe or entrench progressively on Ireland's independence and sovereignty in the conduct of foreign relations". Amending the Constitution will not alter the reality of this: it will simply make it legal for a Government to do so. Is it what the Irish people want? I for one will be arguing that they should not support it and that they should vote "no" in the referendum.

I would like to make a few final points before I conclude in order to clarify The Workers' Party positionvis-à-vis the EC in general. The Workers' Party support the principle of European political co-operation and Ireland's continued membership of the EC. We reject national isolationism and oldfashioned protectionism in political, economic, social and cultural spheres. The question is not whether Ireland should adopt the Single European Act as it stands or pull out of Europe. The question is: what type of Europe should we seek to build?

The Irish working class has specific interests in Europe to fight for. We should seek common cause with other European workers, socialist, communist and left progressive groups in European struggles, which would lead to a democratic socialist Europe. We also have a need for jobs and industries at home and, therefore, we must fight a battle for a greater balance in Community development and the removal of disparities. We must seek a peaceful, non-aligned Europe, without nuclear weapons, a Europe free of cold war militarism, which would seek peace, justice and equality in world affairs. The Single European Act is built upon the opposite. It is built upon the view of the past. It seeks a Europe of free market capitalism allied, through political co-operation, to the views of NATO and the cold war mentality. The Workers' Party are pressing to remove, though re-negotiation of the Single European Act, those areas which hinder and act as barriers to the development of a modern, democratic, socialist Europe we wish to build.

Let me say at the outset that I welcome on my own behalf and that of my party the change of tone, to put it mildly, of the Government since last December. Wishing to refresh my memory of precisely what had been said in that debate, I went to the Dáil Library to get copies of the Official Report of the Taoiseach's remarks on my return from the European Council, only to find to my surprise that there has been such a demand by Members of the House for it that no copies remained in the Library and they had to send for more which have not yet reached me. Whether this reflects a passionate interest by the Opposition in what the Taoiseach was then saying — perhaps understandable for various reasons, some of them even political — or whether the Fianna Fáil Party sought to withdraw the copies so that they would not be available to us I do not know, but I am left with having to quote fromThe Irish Times, a paper that, no doubt for good reasons, was handed to me by the Library official in the absence of the Official Report, the kind of things that were being said by the Taoiseach at that time.

He told the House that many people were deeply concerned about the implications of this Act for the protection of fundamental rights recognised in the Irish Constitution including personal rights, the family, education, property and religion. That is a fair mouthful. It seems that the Preamble to the Act referred to the first time to the fundamental rights recognised in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundadamental Freedoms under the auspices of the Council of Europe. There was an argument that the fundamental rights set out in the Convention, when they were in conflict with the fundamental rights laid down in our Constitution, might well prevail. This would mean, in theory at least, that the European Court of Justice could overturn fundamental rights as enshrined in our Constitution in favour of principles set out in the Convention.

One seems to hear the authentic voice of Family Solidarity coming through. That was before election time when the Fianna Fáil Party seemed to think that there was a lobby there to be won over by making speeches of that kind. The election showed us all that there was not. Now we hear no more about these threats to all our human rights. The Taoiseach seems to feel today that our fundamental rights, personal rights, family, education, property and religion are all secure, whatever may have happened since last December to bring about this remarkable result. However, we are glad of the change of tone. There seem to be two Fianna Fáil Parties, Fianna Fáil in Opposition and Fianna Fáil in Government and any resemblance between them has become totally coincidental; in fact, not only coincidental but almost unfindable at this stage. Even in the Taoiseach's speech itself elements of this schizophrenia still exist. Traces of "Opposition Fianna Fáil" are to be found in the earlier part of the text, although towards the end "Government Fianna Fáil" comes out strong and clear. Thus he said early in his speech that:

... some aspects of the way our EC negotiations were conducted in recent years...seemed to be based on the assumption that we were not entitled to press our case within the EC and that we had to accept passively and uncritically what others wanted or decided. Facile phrases have been used to denounce any vigorous assertion of Ireland's interests...

That seems to hark back to the Fianna Fáil Opposition in December.

Later on he is back in Government again firmly and he tells us:

Even more importantly, it is necessary to stress that in quite a number of areas, special arrangements have been made to give particularly favourable treatment to Ireland or to accommodate specific matters of concern to us. This reflects a degree of respect which sucessive Governments have worked hard to merit.

This, Sir, is not one speech but two. There seems to be more than one hand at work in the drafting of it but no doubt as time passes we will see less and less opposition to the Act by Fianna Fáil. We will see less opposition in the utterances of the Taoiseach and members of the Fianna Fáil Party and a more clear cut line will be maintained as we proceed in the months ahead.

Before dealing with the judgement of the Supreme Court and the action to be taken, I should like to say a few words on the question of neutrality about which there seems to be in all our minds a good deal of confusion. None of us, I think, is totally exempt from that confusion. We all readily accept that it is perfectly permissible, in terms of our neutrality, to make speeches and to participate in discussion and even in negotiations on matters to do with disarmament in fora, like the United Nations or the CSCE — the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. It is all right in the United Nations because it is relatively ineffective. It is all right in the CSCE because its impact is marginal. It deals with matters such as the notification of manoeuvres. To participate in a discussion that might actually influence the outcome in any way in a group where decisions might be taken which might actually lead to disarmament is regarded as totally improper.

I am not saying this as a criticism of the party opposite but I think the moment has come — and it has come very rapidly in the last few weeks — to review this area with the process of disarmament unfolding in a way that should give us all pause. As Leader of our Government I had occasion to listen to after dinner discussions after European Council meetings at which such matters had been discussed. By a convention, which we have all established together in this House. I remained silent during these discussions though I have taken careful note of what has been said; I suspect that sometimes I have taken more notice than anybody else because I was listening while others were talking and I had therefore more opportunity to do so. No doubt in 30 years' time history will benefit from the extensive notes I made of the discussions, some of which were not recorded by anybody else present so far as I could see from looking around the table. I could not say anything; I could have, but the feeling in this House on the subject of neutrality in Ireland seemed to require this silence.

When I have heard points of view put forward which seemed to me ones deeply distasteful to most people in this country — perhaps that is putting it too strongly — and with which most people here would disagree strongly, I have not felt it appropriate or possible to intervene to suggest another point of view and when I heard words of good sense, as I felt and believed Members of this House would feel shaken by other Heads of Government, I felt it incumbent on me to remain silent and to offer no support to such people.

Yet in that particular forum when that kind of informal discussion takes place there is a chance to influence what happens, because within Eleven of the Twelve, who are members of NATO, a deep debate is now going on, one on which the future of nuclear armaments in Europe depends. Some countries remain very concerned that their security requires that nuclear weapons be maintained, not merely battlefield nuclear weapons about which negotiations have not yet commenced, and which do not seem to be yet the subject of discussion but other short-distance and medium-distance missiles. But there are other countries that are now inclined to contest this view, for example Denmark, which has always resolutely refused any participation in the nuclear weapons business, and what does not allow the stationing of nuclear weapons on its territory.

I understand from newspaper reports that countries like Denmark and Spain are arguing strongly at present in favour of the maximum degree of denuclearisation. I am sure they are also arguing in favour of exploring further the suggestions by Mr. Karpov that the process of disarmament could extend to the conventional area where the imbalance between the two sides is, of course, the rationale for the maintenance of, and the desire on the part of some western countries to maintain, some part of their nuclear arsenal in the face of a situation where America and the Soviet Union might be reducing their capacity to use nuclear weapons or battlefield weapons in the European theatre.

Is it in fact necessitated by our military neutrality that we should not utter on such ocasions? Are we living up to our own principles? If we believe in nuclear disarmament, as I think most people in this House do, why is it that we feel, as I felt, and as the Taoiseach seems to feel, that it is necessary to stay silent on these occasions? We need to reconsider that because this great debate which is taking place is one on which an enormous amount depends and as many voices as possible should be raised in every possible arena in favour of moving as far as possible towards the removal of nuclear weapons from Europe and the equalisation of conventional forces by a process of a reduction by the Eastern Bloc rather than an increase on the part of the Western bloc which is what Mr. Karpov has appeared to be hinting at.

I think the Taoiseach is hesitant about changing our practice in this regard if I am to judge from what he said on pages 26 and 25 reading them in that order. I am not sure that I can see the logic of what he says. He says:

It is surely preferable to build on a policy to which our people are deeply attached—

That is military neutrality—

—and to avail of the opportunities which our neutral status affords to play a distinctive role in promoting the cause of peace and a reduction in armaments...

Could anyone disagree with that? Even Deputy De Rossa could hardly disagree with that. I can get better continuity from the speech by reading it backwards:

It is only to be expected that with the prospects of major changes in the military and armaments situation that these developments would be commented upon in the member states.

—that is a curious phraseology. That is something about which we surely need not be concerned but I think he meant something different:

As long as it is clear that we are not involved.

Ireland's vital role in the disarmament debate is not to be involved in it where we could join our voice with others, where we could influence other countries to move their position.

On three major policy issues these countries have moved in the past 15 years from where they stood 15 years ago to where they now stand today. First in the Middle East between 1973 and 1980. There was a major shift in European foreign policy which eventually secured the assent of all the member states although at the start of that period only three countries, France, Italy and Ireland. held the position of seeing the Palestinian problem as one of fundamental importance requiring action to provide the Palestinians with a homeland and a State of their own whereas the majority of States saw it still as a refugee problem. From that position these countries have shifted towards the position which we then held.

There has been a similar shift, though less dramatic but nonetheless clear, in policy in regard to Central America. The position which we held in the late seventies and in the early eighties was one which was contested by some member states about which there were differences and divergences, but member countries have come much closer together and have since enunciated the principle that the problems of Central America should be settled by peaceful means and without recourse to military means. That is a considerable advance on the position which existed in the late seventies.

In the third case, South Africa, although no one in this House would be happy with the extent to which there has been movement in regard to sanctions — or at least relatively few would be happy with that — there has been movement towards our position. In each case I do not suggest that one small country's voice raised, in this forum has a powerful influence. Of course it does not, but it has some influence at the margins and each extra voice raised begins to swing the balance as it has done on those three foreign policy issues.

Yet the Taoiseach feels, as I felt, I must say, right up to the last meeting of the European Council, that the best thing to do is not to be involved, not to say anything. I urge him to think again about that and to see our role as a neutral nation within the EC in a positive light, and as an opportunity to put forward a viewpoint shared by some of the members but arrived at from a different position, reinforcing them rather than regarding our neutrality as requiring us to remain silent and not wishing to enter into any discussion at all. I want to make that point. It is time it was made. What is now happening about disarmament may involve extremely significant shifts in the whole balance in Europe which could turn out to be extremely positive worldwide, if handled right. I do not like to feel that we can play no part in that because we silenced ourselves. Perhaps the House might have some other opportunity to discuss that and we might encourage the Taoiseach to modify the position which he and all of us have traditionally taken.

Of course, the idea of neutrality is often propounded in Ireland in a way which is misconceived. I am very glad that in his speech the Taoiseach repeatedly referred to military neutrality and the declaration he proposes to make on questions of military neutrality. He made it perfectly clear there that we share the ideals of other member countries and of western Europe as a whole and have a common interest with them. That is so. Our security is their security or rather, perhaps, their security is what secures us, at no cost to us. It is nonsense to say that we are neutral between east and west in any ordinary meaning of the word although, of course, we are neutral in the military sense. We do not belong to any alliance and there is no particular anxiety among our people, or in this House, to join any alliance.

Our people are content with our present position but that does not mean that we are neutral, any more than The Workers' Party are neutral. When they send Mr. Seán Garland to Moscow to various meetings, the nature of which is somewhat less publicised than the meetings which the rest of us attend in western Europe and he is sitting there with his colleagues discussing these matters, I doubt if he is any more neutral than we are. It would be helpful at some point if The Workers' Party would enlighten us on their policy on neutrality. They keep talking about our policy on neutrality and that of the other parties but they do not tell us theirs. What does Mr. Garland say in Moscow? Is it the case, as has been rumoured recently, that he is no longer an associate member of whatever party he attends, but is a full member? What does Mr. Michael O'Riordan of the CPI say about that? Is Mr. Garland actually propounding neutrality there in the same tone of voice as it is propounded by the members of The Workers' Party in this House? I wonder.

In this area a lot of nonsense is talked and we should be clear what we are talking about and defend our position on solid grounds. I do not think we help ourselves in any sense by putting forward our position on military neutrality on moral grounds. I have seen reports that the Conference of Major Religious Superiors on several occasions in the last week or two has written on this subject. They are implying — stating, I think — that neutrality is in some way more moral than not being neutral. I suggest that we base our neutrality on our interests, on the will and the desire of our people to remain, as of now and for the foreseeable future, outside alliances, if that is what it is based on, but not on questions of morality which become very arguable indeed.

The concept of neutrality being moral has no visible theological or ethical basis. If one happened to be a Dane, for example, in the NATO Alliance making one's stand against nuclear weapons and at the same time engaging in the process of securing sufficient protection for western Europe over 40 years to remove the temptation that would always exist and if a vacuum were there, to fill that vacuum the Dane, looking at Irish neutrality might look at it in various ways but he or she would not be terribly impressed by the claim that the Irish are more moral than the Danes. The Danes spend money on defending themselves. They are part of an alliance and are anti-nuclear. The Irish are anti-nuclear but are not part of an alliance and do not spend money on defending themselves. That is a policy which can well be justified. It is in our interests and corresponds to the will of our people but it does mean that we are somewhat inhibited from arguing the case against nuclear weapons on various fora because the logic of arguing against nuclear weapons and, as we should be doing, arguing the immorality of the concept of first-strike nuclear weapons to compensate for a deficiency in conventional strength, depending on what may now be about to happen and the willingness on the part of the Soviet Union to reduce its conventional strength has been that we should be doing something about increasing the conventional strength of the West. Because we are not prepared to do that and do not want to do it because it is not our policy and not the will of our people, we are not free to argue that case on moral grounds. Therefore, we should leave morality out of it and settle for the fact that our people by a very large majority wish to remain outside the military alliances, that it is in our interest to do so.

What that imposes on us, as the Taoiseach has indicated, is an obligation to pursue a positive and progressive policy in the European Community so as to balance whatever degree of irritation, or whatever word one might like to use, which may be created among some people in the Community by virtue of our neutral position. That has been the policy of successive Governments from the moment we joined the EC. It seemed then of vital importance to this country that we should pursue our interests by adopting a most positive approach to the further development of the European Community, in contrast at that time and since, to the United Kingdom and Denmark who joined at the same time, a policy which culminated in our decision in Milan to support the holding of a Conference to bring about the Single European Act, voting with the original Six against the Danes and the British and the Greeks who had then joined. It is the fact that we have received such a positive policy in regard to European integration that has ensured that we have been able to sustain our position of military neutrality without any significant adverse effects on our relations with these countries. If we start talking about ourselves being more moral than the people who are, in fact, a barrier between us and the Soviet Union and have been so for 40 years, we will not hold our friends for very long. They do understand national interests; they do understand politics; they do understand that 84 per cent of a public opinion poll favoured neutrality. These are things that politicians understand and with which they sympathise. They do not like being lectured on morality, particularly in circumstances where they may feel that their case is at least as strong as that which we are putting forward. With all due deference to the Conference of Major Religious Superiors, and, no doubt, others, I suggest that we leave the morality argument on one side.

I turn now to the judgments and the action that we have to take following those judgments of the Supreme Court. The point has been made that of eight judges who have given their views on the subject five have found both the Single European Act and the Act we passed here to be constitutional. Deputy O'Malley made the point, if I understood him right, that of those entitled to sit in the Supreme Court, who gave judgments, three out of six gave judgment in favour of the constitutionality of the Act. It may be helpful to quote from the judgment of the Chief Justice which is very clear and cogent. We should have no inhibitions about saying that we agree with one judge rather than another. There is nothing sacred about the three votes to two in the Supreme Court which would prevent one from saying that one agreed with the Chief Justice. That does not interfere with the separation of powers and will not cause any great offence. The Chief Justice says of the terms and the provisions of the Single European Act that:

They do not impose any obligations to cede any national interest in the sphere of foreign policy. They do not give to other High Contracting Parties any right to override or veto the ultimate decision of the State on any issue of foreign policy.

They impose an obligation to listen and consult and grant a right to be heard and to be consulted.

He goes on later to say:

The overall provisions concerning the exercise of Executive power in external relations do not contain any express provision for intervention by the Courts. There is nothing in the provisions of Articles 28 and 29 of the Constitution, in my opinion, from which it would be possible to imply any right in the Courts in general to interfere in the field or area of external relations with the exercise of an Executive power ....

It was submitted that whereas .... the Courts had no function to intervene with the Executive in the formation or statement of policy, either in external relations or any other part of Government activity that a difference arose where the declaration of policy involved as it is stated in Article 30 of the Single European Act involves a commitment to other States for consultation, discussion and an endeavour to coincide policies.

I cannot accept this distinction. It appears probable that under modern conditions a State seeking co-operation with other States in the sphere of foreign policy must be prepared to enter into, not merely vague promises but actual arrangements for consultation and discussion. I can find no warrant in the Constitution for suggesting that this activity would be inconsistent with the Constitution and would, as is suggested, presumably in each individual instance, require a specific amendment of the Constitution.

The Chief Justice also quoted the view expressed originally in the Buckley case in 1950 and reiterated by the Chief Justice Fitzgerald in Boland v. Taoiseach, 1975 that:

Consequently, in my opinion the courts have no power either express or implied to supervise or interfere with the exercise by the Government of its executive functions, unless the circumstances are such as to amount to a clear disregard by the Government of the powers and duties conferred on it by the Constitution.

Indeed Mr. Justice Griffin also referred to the Buckley decision.

I find the judgments of Mr. Justice Walsh and Mr. Justice Henchey and the brief comment added by Mr. Justice Hederman unconvincing. They seem to overstrain any possible interpretation of the Constitution. There is a general principle in constitutional law that the Judiciary should not intervene in matters involving the Executive or the Legislature save to the extent that there is a specific and clear constitutional requirement to do so.

The Constitution lays down certain requirements in relation to foreign policy including a requirement that any treaty entered into which may impose a charge on the Exchequer must be brought before the Dáil. Not long ago it transpired that we had failed to do that and the Supreme Court, quite rightly, upholding that provision, required that action be taken to put that right. Where there is not a specific and express restraint upon the right of the Executive to act in the sphere of foreign policy the Judiciary, under our Constitution, should not intervene. In that I concur with the judgments of the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Griffin. I find their argument compelling and the consequences of the judgment that has now been given are so abnormal, complex, dangerous and damaging that we are now faced with a very real problem in seeking to put the matter right.

Before coming to how we do that, I would refer to the quotation which the Taoiseach made from Mr. de Valera. The first part of the Taoiseach's quotation was very compelling, indeed, and indicated clearly the thinking of Mr. de Valera with regard to the Constitution. The second part is less clear, taken by itself, and the reason is the omission of the intervening couple of sentences. I can understand why the Taoiseach omitted them. They dealt in a suitably de Valera fashion with the role of the King who was never mentioned by name. That is probably why they were omitted and that is why the second quotation does not make a lot of sense by itself. If one reads the intervening words one can clearly see Mr. de Valera's thinking, and he was the author of the Constitution. It is reasonable to look to his intentions in that regard. Mr. de Valera started off by turning from another subject altogether to the question of the Constitution in regard to international relations and said that with regard to international relations generally it does not make a change. He meant that it did not remove the King or his role at that time, in international affairs as the internationally recognised head of the State and that his functions in regard to the presentation of ambassadors to him and by him remained. Of course Mr. de Valera did not actually mention the King. Mr. de Valera said at column 60 of the official report of 11 May, 1937:

It is not intended to make a change, except this change, that it puts the question of our international relations in their proper place — and that is outside the Constitution.

That is worth quoting. It comes before the piece quoted by the Taoiseach and it strengthens the point.

It is clearly to the interests of our people that there should be in regard to the fundamental law the greatest possible amount of unaminity, the greatest possible amount of agreement. These are the rules under which all our institutions are to work. We shall have advanced a great distance indeed if we can get the rules under which we are to work, the things that prescribe all our institutions and the manner of their operation. If we can get substantial agreement on these, a great deal will have been done.

He was talking about trying to end the divisions that had arisen at the time of the Civil War by bringing the Constitution back home from where it had started, which was a cross Channel process. This was his great work. His great achievement was that he did that and that he went very far towards removing the gun from politics in the State by so doing. It is an aspect of his work to which sufficient tribute has not been paid. I rather regret that on the occasion of his Centenary when I spoke about him at some length in the US to make this point in particular, for some curious reason my observations on Mr. de Valera proved to be of no interest whatever to the Irish media and nothing ever appeared here. I am glad of the opportunity here to pay tribute to that aspect of his role in which he was engaged at that time. Again I quote:

The idea of this Constitution is to put this matter of our external relations in its proper position relatively to the Constitution, and that is outside it, as a matter of foreign policy, to be determined from time to time, according as the people's interests suggest to them that they should put this Government or that Government into office with powers to implement their will. That is what is done here.

So he thought, until this judgment of the Supreme Court which certainly bears no relationship to his intentions. To continue the quotation:

It is done by giving to the Executive authority, namely, the Government, which is the fundamental Executive authority, power to use any organ, instrument or method of procedure which may be used for similar purposes by other nations with whom we may be associated, no matter what it is.

That is the point at which the Taoiseach lapsed, and left a bit out. I will read the pieces because it is necessary to an understanding of what lay behind this whole process of introducing these references to international relations in the Constitution:

Although it is giving a power which has been clearly and obviously suggested by the exact circumstances in which we find ourselves at the moment ...

——that is, we are doing it because we cannot get rid of the King because, if we did, nobody would recognise our State, so we have to leave him there and have this provision that he be internally treated as an agent of the Government but be externally recognised as the Head of the State. That is what he is saying there:

Although it is giving a power which has been clearly and obviously suggested by the exact circumstances in which we find ourselves at the moment, nevertheless if we were a completely isolated State in the world, looking around us,

——that is not part of the British Commonwealth——

and if we thought there was going to be instituted a league which was going to hold itself together by an agreement amongst its members to operate in a certain way, we should have power, if we wanted to, to join such a league.

I think he showed considerable prescience. He was not talking of the League of Nations, of which we were a member, he was talking of some other kind of league. Obviously he was not talking of the Commonwealth of which we were a member, membership of which we could have dispensed with under the Constitution and it was in fact removed by us in 1949. He was talking of some other kind of league of countries and I think must really have been looking towards some kind of league of European countries. He continued to say:

I am not saying that that idea — although I think it is a perfect one in the Constitution, and ought to be there — would have been suggested to me or anybody else except in the context of the existing situation.

——which meant having to accommodate the King

——but there is nothing in it that is derogatory to the powers of the people, of the people's Parliament, of the Government, to do that. Consequently, dealing with our external relations,

——and one carries on with the rest of the quotation.

It is necessary to get that insert to understand what actually happened. It was necessary to insert this provision in the Constitution in order to accommodate the position of the King and to remain within the Commonwealth for the time being without being active in it. But that gave the idea that if you had to make provision for that — to give the Government power to use any organ, instrument or method of procedure and that referred to the role of the King — if it was necessary to do so to retain international recognition of our State at that time, that gave the idea that this could be used for quite different purposes, and the wording was carefully chosen to enable it to be so used, so that we could join a league, the phrase more commonly used at that time being the League of Nations rather than the United Nations.

In the Constitution this was specifically inserted with the conscious knowledge that, by taking that action for that particular reason at that particular moment, it would enable us to act in this way and take foreign policy out of the Constitution so that it could not be interfered with. That was the clear intent; the reasons were specific to the time. Nonetheless Mr. de Valera had the prescience to see that the possibilities that could emanate from that were of a quite different shape, in the form of a grouping of countries together that we could join using this mechanism necessary at the time for a purpose which is 50 years in the past, and irrelevant to us today. It is important for us to understand that. It makes the judgment seem very far removed at any rate from the intention when the Constitution was drawn up.

We have a duty in this House to go back to the spirit of the Constitution, because its letter seems to have let us down in some curious way, and to take the necessary action to ensure not merely that we put right this particular and immediate problem of the Single European Act, the one that has tripped us up, but that we get back to the position Mr. de Valera wishes us to have where the executive could have power to deal with foreign policy, subject to the authority of the Dáil being required where there is a financial element and certain other constitutional requirements. But, subject to that, it should be a matter for the Executive; the courts should not be involved, and it should not be a constitutional issue. We have a duty to get back to that.

Otherwise many agreements we have signed of fundamental importance to us may be at risk. I want to mention one only here today. To say it is at risk is to understate the case. I do not see how anybody could argue, after that judgment, that we are now a member of the United Nations. If ratifying the Single European Act, which simply involves agreeing to try to agree on things together if we can, is unconstitutional, what then is membership of the United Nations? It binds us absolutely to accept all kinds of actions imposed on us by the Security Council, the nature of which we cannot foresee, and by which we have been bound and have acted on. How could that be constitutional if the Single European Act is unconstitutional?

Let us be clear about the United Nations Charter. Article 41 of that Charter binds us to take measures, short of force, decided on by the Security Council in relation to a threat to international peace and security anywhere in the world. Twice we have done so, twice when the Security Council took a decision. They do not take that many decisions because of the right to veto of the five large powers, but on occasion they have taken them — it has involved action by us, one with regard to sanctions in relation to Rhodesia and the other the arms embargo in regard to South Africa. We were bound by international law to implement these whether or not we agreed with them. It happened that we did but we might not have. Had we not agreed with it and implemented it, it is not clear what the sanctions are but it would certainly have put at risk our membership of the United Nations and would have left us in breach of and in defiance of international law. There is there an absolute binding obligation.

Moreover, under Article 42 of the United Nations Charter the Security Council, where it determines that there is a threat to international peace and security, has the right with a view to maintaining and restoring it, to use such force by land, sea and air as may be necessary, including force against this country if we were, ourselves, to take any action that would, in the view of the Security Council, have threatened international peace and security. We have so bound ourselves that, by international law, we have given to this body the right to attack us by land, sea and air if we — as we would never do, of course — breached international peace and security.

If the Single European Act, which merely requires us to try to seek agreement on foreign policy if we can — if we cannot, that is too bad — is unconstitutional, what on earth is membership of the United Nations? It is obvious now that constitutionally we are not a member of the United Nations. It is obvious that our peacekeeping force is in a very anomalous position in Lebanon by virtue of the fact that this constitutional decision can have no other meaning that I can see — I should love to hear the Taoiseach or other members of the Government argue to the contrary to see what kind of case they could make to disprove that our membership of the United Nations has been found to be invalid. I will not go back over the circumstances in which we join the United Nations and other problems that arise from that because they are not germane to the present situation. I do not want to make things worse than they are but it is clear that there is here a very fundamental problem.

We cannot sit here in this House and simply mend our hand about the Single European Act and leave other matters. I have not referred to anything else except our membership of the United Nations. Others have mentioned other matters; I have not. I do not want to stir up any unnecessary problems elsewhere. But in a position in which our troops are in the Lebanon, under the auspices of the United Nations, and our membership of the United Nations is now, to put it mildly, in question and, to put it sensibly, seems to be defunct, we have a duty to them, to our country, a duty under international law perhaps, to put that right.

I do not think that the Government's action in introducing this limited amendment — though I understand the reasons for doing so — is the right course of action. I wonder how much thought was given by them to the position of the United Nations when they took that decision? I can understand that, in the emergency situation in which they found themselves ten days ago, they saw the immediate requirement as to secure ratification of the Single European Act, and that the simplest way to do it was to just take that, by name, put it in the Constitution, and deal with it, just as was done some years ago with an adoption case. Then we had to come back to it a second time because we had dealt only with thead hoc case instead of dealing with the fundamental problem.

As has been said by the Leader of my party, I believe it would and should have been possible to devise a simple form of words which would simply do what Mr. de Valera thought he had done, that is, to take foreign policy out of the Constitution, subject to Dáil approval where there is a financial element involved. That is the course of action this Dáil must now pursue. It would be wrong to leave our UN membership in doubt. It would be wrong to leave the position of our troops in the Lebanon in doubt merely because we are afraid to tackle a given form of words.

I do not understand the Taoiseach's remarks where he seems to say that there is some great difficulty about this in terms of time and divisiveness. He stated: "To seek now to extend the amendment proposed by the Government to take in these wider questions would be to open up a debate not only in this House but in the country at large". We are going to open up a debate in the country at large in the next month anyway. He stated: "Such a debate would of necessity have to extend over a much wider time scale than is available to us." What does that mean? If the Government came in here with a carefully drafted phrase, that would take foreign policy out of the Constitution, using Mr. de Valera's language which was not a lawyer's language in order to deal with the problems, we would have the same length of debate and the same length of referendum campaign. The result would be that it would solve all our problems and not leave our UN membership in doubt and raise other possible difficulties for us. It would not take any wider time scale to do that than to do what is being done. It would require a little more thought being given to the drafting rather than taking the easy way out as has been done.

I do not know what the Taoiseach means by saying, "to widen the debate to include other major national issues. I do not think UN membership is a major national issue or that it will "give rise to a measure of divisiveness which is far from what we need in present economic circumstances. What the economic circumstances have to do with it I do not know nor do I know where the divisiveness comes from. Everybody in this House wants to put this matter right and wants us to arrive at a situation where the Executive can carry on foreign policy and sign treaties without the risk of having them overturned or found to be invalid. We do not want a situation where our whole foreign relations are not in doubt, where every other country in the world that deals with us is not uncertain as to where we stand and are not wondering whether we are members of the UN, or if this or that treaty is valid. There is much more divisiveness being created by not dealing with this than would be created by dealing with it properly.

For those reasons I urge the Taoiseach to reconsider his decision. I recognise that is a difficult thing to ask. When a Government decide something like this, it is difficult for them to go back on it but Governments frequently adjust their position on Committee Stage of a debate. They learn from the debate and make changes. We did so frequently in our term of office and Fianna Fáil Governments have done likewise. Here we are talking about something more than that. It is not just an amendment of a word here and there; it is a fundamental amendment. For the reasons I have stated, I hope the Taoiseach will find it possible, as he hears the Second Stage debate, to consider giving instructions for the drafting of a very different kind of amendment that would deal with the fundamental problems raised by this surprising judgment, to use the adjective derived from the noun which the Taoiseach used. I hope that if he reconsiders the position, no-one in this House will turn to him and say "another U-turn". There have been many U-turns.

I am a bit long in the tooth for that.

Before the Taoiseach came into the House, I was referring to his attitude to the Single European Act. That is a U-turn. But in regard to the question of modifying the position of how to handle a tricky situation like this, I do not think it would be in any way proper for a member of the Opposition, if the Taoiseach decided to take into account what we are saying and to adjust the amendment or to agree to a different form of amendment that would be wider and would cover the other problems involved — to say "U-turn" at that stage. We would applaud the flexibility and openness involved in facing up to a difficult issue. The Government must have had great difficulty in deciding in a short space of time what to do. Their decision was a most understandable one but the wrong one for the reasons I have mentioned and for others which I will not go into. I could not drag in a lot of other treaties and suggest there are problems with them. I am just taking the one example of the United Nations which is so compelling that it leaves us with no alternative but to take the more fundamental course of action that I have been advocating.

Having listened quite attentively to Deputy FitzGerald I wonder why we are here because all I have heard from him and from Deputy Barry is how five judges out of eight were in favour of the amendment. Deputy FitzGerald spoke about the "two" Fianna Fáil Parties. He said there is one in Opposition and one in Government. Fianna Fáil have been quite consistent in their view of Ireland's role in Europe and their view on our position of military neutrality. Perhaps if the Government of which Deputy FitzGerald was Taoiseach had taken the advice of Fianna Fáil before Christmas we would not now have to pick up the pieces of the former Government's inadequacy. Deputy FitzGerald spoke about solving all our problems. The most pressing problem at the moment in relation to the position in which we find ourselvesvis-àvis our European partners is to put right the specific matter on which the Supreme Court gave its decision. Other things can come at a later date.

The Single European Act is a lengthy and complex legal document. The issue before the House today and which will soon be put to the people is, however, a simple and straightforward one.

The Irish people decided to join the European Community in 1973, a Community which had been evolving and continued to evolve in an ongoing process of economic and political integration. Ireland has since then benefited enormously from membership and has played a consistently positive and constructive role in that process of integration. The Single European Act, prepared and negotiated over several years, represents one further small and, in the view of many, inadequate step in the evolution of the Community to which the Irish people committed themselves in the referendum in 1972.

The Single European Act signed on behalf of all the member states of the Community in February 1986 contains two main elements — amendments to the European Community Treaties and Treaty provisions on Co-operation in the Sphere of Foreign Policy. Although a Fianna Fáil Government would have negotiated forcefully to obtain terms which were more satisfactory from Ireland's point of view, the terms were broadly acceptable to Ireland and approved by Dáil Éireann in December. However, whereas all of our partners proceeded to ratify the Act before the end of 1986 as had been envisaged, Ireland was unable to do so because of an injunction granted by the High Court on Christmas eve and until a challenge before the courts to both elements of the Single European Act had been completed. That judicial process was completed with the delivery by the Supreme Court of its decision in the case on 9 April. The challenge to the amendments to the Community Treaties contained in the Single European Act which had formed the bulk of the case and to which most of the court proceedings were devoted was rejected by the Supreme Court.

However, the challenge to the foreign policy provisions of the Single European Act was upheld by three of the five Supreme Court judges who ruled that the State could not ratify the Single European Act without an appropriate constitutional amendment. The Government have proposed precisely such a constitutional amendment — in straightforward and simple terms — in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill which is before the House today.

Ireland must either ratify the Single European Act and maintain its position as a full, equal and committed member of the Community which we joined in 1973, or it must reject the Single European Act and accept the consequences. That is the issue. Those are the alternatives. There is no third way. Calls for renegotiation of the Single European Act which has been approved by all Twelve Parliaments, including this one and ratified by eleven of the member states, with Ireland the only exception, are unrealistic and misleading. One has only to cite the example of Denmark who sought renegotiation but was refused. It would be a grave disservice to the people to foster the belief that what is involved here is an optional extra, that we can reject it or seek to renegotiate it and that Community business will continue as usual. What is involved is nothing less than the nature of our membership of the Community.

It is clear where the fundamental interests of Irish people lie in the present debate. Notwithstanding the limited nature of the Single European Act and while eschewing the somewhat naive enthusiasm of the previous Government for all of its provisions, it is certain that our interests lie in ratification of the Single European Act, in our continued full and equal membership of the European Community and in the rapid reestablishment of our standing as committed Europeans in the aftermath of this unfortunate affair. To leave the Community, although a course of action which has always appealed to a minority, would be economic suicide. To vote against ratification of the Single European Act and to seek at the same time to remain within the Community would represent a contradiction in our aspirations and only ensure that the suicide would be slow and lingering. Such ongoing membership, if we prevented even the limited advance for the Community as a whole represented by the Single European Act, would be as second rate, second division, second gear participants in the construction of Europe. Such relegation would result, not from the ill will of our partners, but from the consequences of our free and sovereign choice.

I indicated at the outset that although the issue in the forthcoming referendum is a simple one, the Single European Act itself is a complex legal document. That is not to say that it is in any way obscure or contains hidden snares. It is rather to acknowledge that it is not possible to give a comprehensive summary of its provisions and implications in a few sentences. The original Community treaties which cover a wide number of areas and establish complex institutional structures are longer and at least equally complex documents. The Single European Act, in so far as it tidies up and updates those treaties, inevitably reflects that complexity.

As Deputies know, a question which is being asked repeatedly throughout the country today is simply, "what is the Single European Act?" That that question should still be on people's lips is a reflection not only of the complexity of the Act itself but on the tardiness of the former Government in bringing legislation before the Dáil and in providing a detailed explanation of the Single European Act. The Explanatory Guide eventually produced by the former Government last November, and then only at the instigation of Fianna Fáil, did provide an explanation of the terms of the Single Act although its explanation of the implications of those terms was in some respects inadequate.

It is essential that in the referendum campaign the people understand not only the wider implications for Community membership of the question which is to be put before them but that they also understand the essential elements of the Single European Act itself.

The amendments to the Community Treaties contained in the Single European Act are quite separate from the provisions on foreign policy co-operation and are not an issue in this referendum. The Supreme Court which examined them in detail considered that they all fell within the scope and objectives of the original treaties and ruled nothing in them to be unconstitutional. In summary, the treaty changes are designed to improve the way in which the Community functions and reaches its decisions, to provide an impetus towards removing the remaining barriers to trade and towards reducing regional disparities within the Community, and to provide a specific basis in the treaty for developing policies in areas such as research and technology which have until now been developed only in a piecemeal way. Essentially the amendments to the Community treaties fall into nine categories.

First, the Single European Act provides for a slightly enhanced role for the European Parliament — now directly elected for the second time — in the Community's decision-making process. The Parliament's opinions will inevitably be accorded greater weight but the Council of Ministers will retain the final say.

Secondly, the powers which the Council already confers on the Commission to implement the Acts which the Council adopts will in future be conferred on a more systematic basis. The way the Community functions is that, once Community policies are decided by the Council, they usually fail to be implemented in detail by the Commission. Essentially, the existing practice is to be streamlined by the Single European Act with a view to a more efficient execution of Community business.

Thirdly, provision is made for increased recourse to voting by qualified or weighted majority in the Council in certain clearly defined areas. Under the existing treaties most Council decisions already fall to be taken by majority vote in the Council. Other decisions require unanimity. With a view to reaching decisions which will enable the removal of the remaining non-tariff barriers to trade in the Community, the Single European Act provides that in certain limited areas, in which until now unanimity has been required, decisions can in future be taken by qualified majority. However, the unanimity requirement is still retained in respect of several matters. For example, although harmonisation of indirect and direct taxation is one of the objectives of the Community's internal market, decisions in regard to taxation will continue to require unanimity. The provision for more voting by qualified majority is, of course, without any prejudice whatsoever to the continued existence of the "Luxembourg Compromise" or "veto" which is a political arrangement not covered by the treaty provisions. It applies to all decisions which can be taken by qualified majority and will continue to so apply.

Forthly, the Single European Act contains provisions to ease the workload and improve the functioning of the European Court of Justice.

Fifthly, there are to be new provisions on economic and social cohesion which represent a greater Community commitment to reducing regional disparities in the Community. In themselves they represent a means rather than an end as far as this country is concerned. Unless these provisions are vigorously pressed and fully implemented, they will be of no practical benefit to this country or indeed to the other less prosperous regions of the Community. The Community's existing regional policies although they have provided extensive benefits to this country, have proved themselves clearly inadequate in terms of meeting their own objectives. Especially in view of the impetus which is to be given towards completing the internal market in the Community which will be of greatest benefit to the already prosperous central regions, this Government will attach the utmost importance to ensuring that the cohesion provisions are treated as a solemn commitment rather than a vague aspiration.

Sixthly, the Single Act will incorporate specific provisions into the EC Treaty on Research and Technological Development. These will provide an important and overdue boost to Community activity in this important and highly competitive area. The Community cannot take action for which there is no treaty basis. Article 235, a sort of catch-all article in the present treaty, has enabled the Community to develop policies within the scope of the objectives of the Community for which there is no other provision in the treaties. However, the provision of a specific treaty basis for a particular area of action clearly provides a firmer basis and a stronger impetus for action.

The seventh and eight EC Treaty amendments similarly provide explicit treaty bases, where formerly the basis was implicit, for Community action in relation to the natural environment and the working environment. The ninth and last treaty change contained in the Single European Act is that reference is made for the first time to the monetary capacity of the Community.

Co-operation in the field of foreign policy is covered by the treaty provisions of Title III of the Single European Act.

There is quite a lot of ill-informed misinterpretation and even misrepresentation surrounding the significance of those provisions which I, on behalf of the Government, would like to dispel.

European Political Co-operation, or EPC, is simply a process by which the foreign ministers of the Twelve keep in contact with each other to exchange views and to try to establish areas of common ground on the main international issues affecting them. This co-operation on foreign policy has existed since 1970 and Ireland has been a full participant in it since our accession to the EC. We have experienced EPC in operation over the years. It is a process which, while not obligatory, can add to the resonance of the foreign policy views of individual member states, including Ireland. There is no reason whatever for that not continuing to be the case. All that the Single European Act does is to put into legal form the practices and procedures which have always applied in EPC.

The concern of some people about our involvement in EPC springs from their lack of information, and hence their inadequate understanding, of what it entails. Most of it comprises unspectacular discussions of possibilities for adopting joint positions or taking joint actions regarding particular issues on the basis of consensus. The process often gives rise to public declarations, as, for instance, the Venice Declaration on the Middle East of June 1980. On the other hand, it is often not possible to reach a consensus. The Twelve also frequently make quiet approaches to other Governments regarding humanitarian or human rights issues. It is in the nature of these diplomatic activities that they are handled confidentially. The six month reports to the Houses of the Oireachtas on developments within the European Communities also contain details of activities in the field of foreign policy co-operation.

Our partners in EPC share our own values and aspirations. In a world that appears to grow even smaller it is in our interests as well as in those of our neighbours that we pool our resources and talents so that we all take advantage of the benefits of pooling our forces where this is possible, in the political as in the economic field. The views of the Twelve are heeded and we are in a position to influence those views.

In joining the European Community we realised and accepted that it had political as well as economic and social dimensions, that it was but one step on the road to the unification of Europe one day. Nobody can say at this stage what form European Union will ultimately take and it is not a matter for discussion at this stage. What is at issue, however, is whether Ireland is to keep pace with our partners in taking the further modest step on the road which the Single European Act represents. The Government regard it as inconceivable that the Irish people, who in the seventies so eagerly sought EC membership, in the knowledge that we were thereby casting our lot with our European neighbours, would now opt to change direction. The risks involved in reversing course at this stage are incalculable and it would be as senseless as it is unnecessary to take those risks.

This House has reassembled early to consider the implications of the Supreme Court decision in the Crotty case. Our task requires of us a complete understanding of the implications of that decision; if we misunderstand the decision or underestimate its effects we are likely to commit a major error here today.

A careful reading of the Supreme Court decision on the Act and on the Treaty, part of which the court found incompatible with our Constitution, shows that the decision has profound consequences for this country, the way in which we are governed and the way in which we conduct our foreign affairs. There is no evidence that the radical consequences of this decision have been taken on board by the Government and I will point out a few of the principal features of the judgment to demonstrate the inadequacy of the wording proposed in the Government's Bill.

The unanimous judgment of the court on the Act which was contested before it decided that the Single European Act does not come within the category of actions necessitated by our obligations of membership of the European Community. This finding not only meant that the Single European Act became open to constitutional challenge, it also means that any measure now adopted in consequence of our adherence to the Single European Act does not enjoy constitutional immunity. Put simply, any directive made in the future and which is based in whole or in part on the provisions of Title I or Title II of the Single European Act cannot be implemented in this country in the same way as other directives of the Community made under the Treaty. Every such directive will be open to constitutional challenge if implemented here and in every such case the State may find itself obliged to have a separate referendum on the directives in order to abide by our obligations under the Single European Act.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has already conceded that the narrowness of the Government Bill may oblige us to have further referenda from time to time. I challenge the Government to deny that every directive which flows from the provision of the Single European Act is open to constitutional challenge and to admit that our adherence to Titles I and II of the Single European Act in the future may require referenda. Quite apart from the expense and inconvenience of such referenda, we have become parties to a fraud because we have passed ourselves off as a country with full capacity to be a party to the Single European Act. It is now clear that we do not have full capacity in that our Constitution may well, in the future, prohibit us from abiding by Community directives based on Title I and II of the Single European Act. If I may use an analogy, we have passed ourselves off as a constitutional person of full capacity and it now transpires that we did not have full contractual capacity to become a party to the Single European Act in the way in which the other parties to that Act understood our position. We are, in international law terms, similar to a person in our own domestic law who is under age or of weak mind. We lack the normal contractual capacity to conduct our international affairs and to deal on a par with other member states of the Community.

On this basis alone it is high time that we collectively came of age and rid our minds of the infirmity that the Crotty decision has exposed. However, the unanimous decision of the court did not stop there, it went on to hold that the Treaties could be amended and still retain their status for Article 29.4.3º but only in so far as any such amendment does not alter the essential scope or objectives of the Community.

The effect of this judgment is that every amendment of the Treaty and everything done under such amendments is open to challenge under the Constitution on the basis that it goes further than the essential scope of the Community Treaties as they stood in 1972.

I must take issue with the Taoiseach in regard to certain remarks he made in his speech this morning. He said that the court upheld the constitutionality of the Act which is considered, the Act which dealt with Titles I and II of the Single European Act.

The court most emphatically did not hold that Titles I and II of the Single European Act were consistent with the Constitution. It merely held that Mr. Crotty had in his evidence and submissions failed on this occasion to rebut the presumption of constitutionality. It has not, repeat not, been held by any court that Titles I and II of the Single European Act are constitutional; it has only been held that Raymond Crotty could not on this occasion demonstrate the contrary. It is also worth noting that the court specifically decided that the further relaxation of the unanimity rule in Council decisions could not be agreed to without a danger of further constitutional challenge and the need for another referendum.

In short, the court's unanimous judgment on the constitutionality of the Bill does not find it constitutional; it merely fails to find to the contrary. The decision opens the door to widespread, sustained and repeated challenge to the Single European Act in its entirety and, more important, the court has effectively denied constitutional immunity for any measures taken to implement the Single European Act. The consequences now are that this country adheres to the Single European Act on a day to day basis only. We always live in the shadow of easily foreseen constitutional challenge and our adherence to the Act is always conditional on the outcome of what will doubtless turn out to be a succession of individual referenda.

If that position was clearly understood by the other member states who are party to the Single European Act there is no doubt that they would demand — and demand with justification — that the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill should be drawn sufficiently widely to give the same constitutional status to the Single European Act as we accord to the original founding treaties of the European Communities.

The Government Bill is too narrow. Its narrowness is, in effect, a fraud on the other member states. It gives the appearance that Ireland is adhering to the Single European Act without tackling for one minute our constitutional incapacity to fully implement all the directives which will flow from our adherence to that Act. These consequences seem to flow from the unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court. They have not made any impact on the collective intelligence of the Cabinet nor have we in this House, composed as it is, the benefit of the Attorney General's presence as a person who could respond and defend what I consider to be the folly and inadequacy of the legal thinking which is implicit in the wording of the amendment now put before the House.

The phrase "necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities" where it appears in Article 29.4.3 is in any event highly restrictive and is already stunting our capacity to develop as a full member of the Community. In particular, the European Communities (Amendment) Act, 1973, which is our principal means for introducing community measures into our domestic law is also probably unconstitutional. That Act which purports to give legislative powers to Ministers by empowering them to make regulations with legislative effect is clearly in conflict with Article 15.2 of the Constitution which gives the Oireachtas the sole power of legislation. Since the Treaties did not oblige us to provide any particular mode of implementation of Community directives but left it to our own discretion what method we would choose, it follows that the procedures under the 1973 Act cannot be fairly described as "necessitated" by our membership of the Community.

It seems equally certain that the purported delegation of legislative functions to Ministers under the 1973 Act is invalid because it conflicts with Article 15.2 of the Constitution and because it is not a necessitated provision. Put succinctly, because we had an option as to how we would enact European directives as part of our domestic law, because we exercise that option in a particular way and because it is one which falls foul of Article 15.2 of the Constitution, it follows that many of our regulations made under the 1973 Act are constitutionally infirm as things stand. In this regard I refer the Minister to the legal textbook which at present is the most up to date and authoritative source of law in this area called "Administrative Law" by Hogan and Morgan, published by Sweet and Maxwell, where this entire issue is debated at pages 16 to 18.

There is also a problem with regard to the European Patent Convention, signed by Ireland in December 1975, but which has not yet been ratified by legislation. It is not necessitated by our membership of the Communities and it is, therefore, open to constitutional challenge and is not saved by the present wording of Article 29.4.3. In so far as that convention provides for enforceable and binding jurisdiction within this State in matters to do with European patents to be exercised by the courts of West Germany, it is also clearly in conflict with the Constitution which, as we all know, confines the administration of justice in this State to the courts established under our Constitution in accordance with laws enacted by our Oireachtas.

When Deputy Bruton was Minister for Industry and Commerce I think he was aware of this difficulty and identified it publicly as a problem which prevented us ratifying the European Patents Convention. We are now faced with the absurd situation that we cannot ratify that convention unless we have a special referendum to enable us to do so. This is yet another instance of the inadequacy of the wording which is now put before us by the Government. Here is a convention which is part and parcel of the unifying process envisaged by the founding fathers of the European Community but we cannot constitutionally ratify that treaty as our Constitution now stands and because the Government are bringing in narrow wording to deal with the Single European Act alone. We cannot ratify that convention without a special referendum on some other day on the European Patents Convention. The thought that the people of Ireland might have to go to the polls to allow us to ratify a convention to do with patents sounds absolutely absurd when articulated but this is the inexorable logic of the confined wording which the Government have chosen here.

I am not saying that every convention or amendment to our laws is now suspect. On a brief review of the various Acts and measures done in consequence of our membership of the Community it seems that most of the amending Acts are constitutional, with the exception of the 1973 Act which appears to be definitely unconstitutional. I reiterate that the necessitated obligations formula now used in Article 29.4.3 of the Constitution is already actively impeding our developing membership of the European Community and will cause more and more problems in making Single European Act directives and regulations constitutionally vulnerable and in general terms as the original Treaties are amended and developed and as new conventions are used as vehicles for European integration.

I am challenging the Government to say that I am wrong on these issues and if nobody on the Government benches will say I am wrong and abide by the consequences of proceeding on the basis that I am wrong, it follows that we are in the hands of a Government who are determined only on one matter which is to fumble and stumble their way from one crisis to another and to stagger between a succession of legal setbacks and consequent referenda. If, for instance, the 1973 Act is, as I suggest it will be, struck down on the basis that it conflicts with Article 15.2 of the Constitution and because it is not necessitated by our membership of the Community, who of those who should be on the Government benches tonight — and there is only one person there — will accept responsibility for that? If all the regulations under the 1973 Act made by various Ministers over the years fall, who over there will take responsibility? Will anybody's head roll? One thing which is clear beyond demonstration is that this proposed amendment of the Constitution does nothing to copperfasten or safeguard that Act. If it is unconstitutional for the reasons I have mentioned, its being struck down will cause massive embarrassment to this Government. It is apparently becoming the style in this House to warn people that they may have referenda but I am warning the Government now that they are facing a referendum on that issue or else they will have to amend the law and that they face the invalidation of many regulations made under the 1973 Act on the basis set out in the passage in the textbook to which I earlier referred.

It will not suffice for any member of the Government to attempt to distance himself from this Bill as the Minister for Foreign Affairs has done by broadcasting his doubts on the issue. This is his Bill introduced under his name and it is just as much his as it is the Taoiseach's who spoke at the beginning of this debate. If a legal and constitutional blunder is being committed today the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he disagrees with the Government's narrow wording and if he shares the widespread view that the narrow wording is a major error he should dissociate himself by resigning his position as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

I have no doubt that even if he hinted that was the choice he was left with, either resignation or getting a wider-worded amendment, his Cabinet colleagues would review their blundered, reckless and ill-thought out course of action. They might then seek competent legal advice and they might then take a medium and long term view of the situation which Crotty has created and choose a different course. But I am afraid, with all due respect to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, that this is yet another case where single-minded pursuit of office and its retention will come before the principled exercise of individual judgment.

I ask what issue would the Minister consider worthy of resignation if not this on which he has so publicly expressed his disagreement with Government policy? What else will the Minister swallow if he will accept collective responsibility for a course of action which seems to copperfasten the wider implications of the Crotty decision for foreign policy and which effectively emasculates the Department of Foreign Affairs? I challenge the Minister to indicate to the House in his subsequent contribution to this debate, which doubtless he will make at some point, whether he wholeheartedly supports the ambit, tenor and wording and reasonably foreseeable consequences of this Bill or else to indicate the contrary and resign his position.

I know it is frequently the case that Opposition Deputies call on Ministers to resign and it is normally a rather tired rhetorical cliché and an unwarranted call which has no foundation in fact or constitutional convention but my call to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on this issue is not intended as a reprimand or as a slight or as a criticism of him personally. It is because I believe that he shares my view that I ask him to take this step. It is because I know that he cares about the conduct of our international affairs that I raise the issue of his continued position as a Minister in the Cabinet and it is because I hope he will take a stand on an issue of fundamental and central importance to his office and to the Department that he is in charge of that I raise his continued membership in the Government.

Turning to the majority judgments in the Crotty case, it seems that these too as distinguished from the unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court on the Act have other profound implications for the carrying out of our international role and the carrying on of our foreign policy. Theratio decidendi or reasoning of the majority can simply be put as follows: that it is not competent for the Government to enter into a binding treaty which governs or restricts the manner in which the executive power of the State shall be exercised in relation to its external affairs other than in accordance with the restrictions and principles laid down in the Constitution itself.

The Government who exercise that executive power in foreign policy matters have always had certain restrictions on the manner in which they acted in that sphere. As has been stated earlier the treaties involving a charge on public moneys or the business of declaring war require the assent of this body before these steps can be carried out. Prior to Crotty it was assumed that subject to express constitutional restrictions the Government of the day had, as Mr. de Valera put it, an "Unfettered hand" in the exercise of their foreign policy. Now we are told differently. Now we are told that the Government may not by international agreement pre-empt their sovereign power which they exercise in the foreign domain by agreeing in advance to its exercise in any particular way or by laying down consultative or co-ordinative preconditions to its exercise. This state of affairs is of general effect and not merely confined to the European Communities.

The former Taoiseach, Deputy FitzGerald, mentioned the United Nations but it is a problem which the Government's wording wholly fails to tackle. It means that in international affairs the Government have no longer the full capacity that everyone thought they had. Worse still, it means that the Government and the Dáil who can commit the State to war and commit the State by international agreement to huge financial obligations curiously cannot commit the State to obligations set out in treaties which, as between other countries, would be regarded as commonplace and which would provide for co-ordination and co-operation in foreign policy matters. That the Government and the Dáil can commit the State to war without reference to the public but are told that every treaty they make to co-ordinate foreign policy in the interests of peace must be approved by the people is surely an irony but more than that it is an imbalance which this House needs to redress and to redress tonight and during the course of this debate rather than at some unspecified future time.

The former Taoiseach, Deputy FitzGerald, clearly trod a careful path not to mention the Anglo-Irish Agreement but in a sense publicity given by other Members of this House to the exact same issue makes that a rather unnecessarily sensitive approach by the former Taoiseach. The decision has clear implications for the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Whether or not there was a simple conflict between Article 3 of the Constitution and Article 1 (a) of the Hillsborough Agreement it is now clear that the Crotty judgment poses a very real threat on the basis that the Government are incompetent to agree with the Government of the United Kingdom not to exercise their sovereign power, viz. the right of the Irish Parliament and Government to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of its territory until the happening of a certain condition precedent which is the condition precedent as stated in Article 1 (a) of the Hillsborough Agreement, the emergence of a consenting majority among the people of Northern Ireland.

The Anglo-Irish Agreement seems on its face to be more than an expression of policy. Remember, that in the Supreme Court decision in which the former Deputy Boland sought to challenge the Sunningdale Agreement a very firm distinction of a legal kind was drawn between statements of policy and binding agreements. I am saying that in this particular case it is simply not arguable that the Hillsborough Agreement in Article 1(a) is mere statement of policy. Article 1(a) reads as follows:

The two Governments affirm that any change in the status of Northern Ireland would only come about with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

Even if the word "would" does not mean "can" I doubt if any Government meant that Article as a mere prediction or a statement of political opinion. The Article was commonly understood as a binding acknowledgement. Its only value to the British Government and to the Unionist community was as a binding acknowledgement. If counsel for an Irish Government had to plead before an Irish Supreme Court that Article 1(a) was a mere opinion or aspiration but not a binding acknowledgement the agreement itself would be discredited beyond repair. Certainly the Unionists would not regard as of very much value at all what was offered to them as a safeguard but now justified by counsel for the Irish State before an Irish Supreme Court as an empty political "guesstimate".

I believe that a Supreme Court would quite likely reject such a construction of the Agreement and, if it did, then being true to theratio decidendi of the Crotty decision, the court would have little choice but to strike down the Anglo-Irish Agreement concluded at Hillsborough. That poses one question, and it is one which I should like to put to the Taoiseach. Allowing for his stated reservations about the constitutionality of the Agreement, confronted, as he is now, with the opportunity to copperfasten its constitutionality, does he wish to take that opportunity? Or, does he for private reasons, maybe secret reasons, including, perhaps, the ephemeral pleasure of being proven technically right on the issue, want to expose the Anglo-Irish Agreement on which so many people here place so much hope, to the risk of being struck down in the court? These are questions which the narrow wording proposed by the Government totally fail to confront let alone answer and they are issues we should resolve today if we can.

To those who rather natively say, "keep the issue simple; keep the wording narrow", our reply is that the issue is not a simple one and is not capable of simplistic reduction such as is implicit in the wording being put forward by the Government to amend the Constitution. The process envisaged, for instance, by the European Treaties, and the Single European Act, is a complex process of unification. There will be many more treaties and many more conventions but the real issue the House faces is whether Ireland is to be a foot-dragging, reluctant and backward looking European which has to go through a political and constitutional convulsion by referendum every time there is a different stage arrived at in the European process or, on the other hand, whether the Dáil is given a clear and unequivocal mandate to move forward the European ideal with the interests of the Irish people at heart.

We cannot afford to perpetuate the uncertainty and incapacity implicit in the Crotty decision. We cannot continue to partake in the European process at a permanent and debilitating disadvantage. The choice we are making today is not the choice the Government see or wish to see. The issue is greater than the Bill admits. The consequences of our actions are wider than the Bill suggests. The Government would be well advised to withdraw the Bill and bring forward adequate proposals designed not merely to safeguard our adherence to the Single European Act but to put beyond doubt the capacity of the Government and the Dáil to make international treaties, which of necessity and by virtue of their binding nature, will, where the agreements are of any substantial kind involve as a consequence a certain compromise of the sovereignties of the parties to such agreements.

It should also be noted that the Supreme Court's analysis seemed to overlook the inexorable logic that Title III of the Single European Act involves a diminution of sovereignty on the part of all the member states. If each loses a bit of sovereignty, each other gains a little joint sovereignty and there is accordingly a compensating exchange of national sovereignty for enhanced Community sovereignty.

The very concept of treaties being made between sovereign states implies a binding agreement which reduces the freedom of action of the parties to the treaty in order to advance a joint interest. The binding process gives each party something it did not have and something which presumably it wanted. The concept of unfettered sovereignty as embraced by the majority decisions in the Supreme Court is wholly artificial. There can be no world peace and no world order if sovereign nations are unwilling or unable to voluntarily commit themselves to confine their exercise of sovereignty in pursuit of their joint ambitions. The distinction drawn by the majority of the Supreme Court utterly ignored the political fact that sovereignty in the realm of foreign affairs is never a unilateral thing.

The Taoiseach's remarks on sovereignty suggest that somehow he is of the view that the process of European integration could move forward now on the basis of the limited cession of sovereignty made in 1972. With respect, that view is naive. It is wrong because, any major advances in the integration of the European Communities will require more and more agreements between the member states which would impugn the static view of sovereignty expounded by the majority judgments in the Crotty case.

The attempt by the Taoiseach to defer facing the wider implications of the Crotty decision until an all-party review of the Constitution is embarked on and resolved is a classic example of unwillingness to face the real issues now when it matters most. We cannot afford to conduct our foreign affairs in the shadow of this judgment if the price turns out to be a creeping process of invalidation of our treaties and our Acts and obstruction of international agreements. We can least afford to place the validity of the Anglo-Irish Agreement to one side to await the outcome of an all-party constitutional review.

The Taoiseach is seeking by his attitude today to abdicate responsibility to govern the country and to keep the instruments of Government in working and serviceable order. Under a slight smokescreen of, "I told you so's", he hopes to sail away from the real issues. With a vague gesture of intent to look at necessary constitutional reform, he is averting his gaze from the obvious and undesirable challenge to our system of government and foreign relations.

Far from clearing away a "cloud of uncertainty", to use the Taoiseach's words, the Government appear to be hell bent on venturing into a dense mist of doubts because they are afraid to put matters right now, they are reckless as to the consequences and, one suspects, that they do not care a whit if the Anglo-Irish Agreement falls early victim to a constitutional challenge. Whatever value the Government place on it, our view is unequivocal in support. We favour doing whatever is necessary to conserve and sustain the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

I again pose the question to the Taoiseach: if the neutrality issue is of such importance as to justify immediate action by depositing an accompanying Instrument with our Instrument of Ratification, why is the safeguarding of the Anglo-Irish Agreement not equally important? Why does it not merit instant action to safeguard it? Why not act now to save the Anglo-Irish Agreement? Why are we apparently indifferent to its fate?

I want lastly to deal with the issue, or what I consider in some senses to be the non-issue, of neutrality. Neutrality is a term that is often used here but rarely analysed. Military neutrality is understood by most people as avoiding becoming a member of a formal military alliance, or being sucked into armed conflicts in which we are not interested. Military neutrality also implies keeping our territory free from foreign military bases, installations and personnel. Article 15.6.1º of the Constitution vests the sole power of raising or maintaining armed forces within the State in the Oireachtas. The Article prohibits any person or body, be they Irish or foreign, other than the Oireachtas, from maintaining armed forces in the State. There is, accordingly, a constitutional prohibition on the maintenance of foreign forces or bases in the State.

Article 28.3.1º deals with the issue as to whether the State can go to war, or participate in a war and the consent of Dáil Éireann is required before any such decision can be made. Combining that article with the reasoning in the Crotty decision underlines the fact that the State cannot bind itself to become party to an armed conflict or war by way of a formal military alliance. Any international agreement which purported to bind Ireland to participate in a war, be it offensive or defensive in any prescribed circumstances in advance, would amount to an unlawful usurpation of an absolute right vested in Dáil Éireann, a right which cannot be pledged away in advance. Accordingly, Ireland cannot become a member of any international alliance which requires us to undertake to participate in any war, offensive or defensive. Those constitutional safeguards are written into our Constitution and putting the question of neutrality further by any more amendments to the Constitution seems to me to be entirely superfluous.

The Dáil adjourned at 8.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 23 April 1987.