An Bille um an Aonú Leasú Déag ar an mBunreacht, 1992: An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1992: Second Stage (Resumed).

Atairgeadh an cheist: "Go léifear an Bille don Dara Uair."
Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I thank my colleague who gave me some time in this very important debate. I commend the mover of the Bill and the Labour Party for bringing it forward. It is the first time we have had a substantive debate on these issues. When this controversy started it was my sincere objective to work for a consensus on this issue to try to ensure we did not have the kind of division and bitterness we saw in 1983 on this issue. Looking through some newspapers today before coming to the Dáil I noted a cartoon in a February issue ofThe Irish Times which showed a Supreme Court judge bring a basket with a baby in it to be left at Dáil Éireann. This was telling us to legislate on the issues which surround the recent Supreme Court judgement and that is what we are doing now. We are attempting to legislate for important matters that have arisen as a consequence of the 1983 constitutional amendment.

This Bill deals with the issues and the demand for change. I question why the Government cannot accept this Bill given the indication of public concern and support in the recent opinion poll. As I listended to the Tánaiste last night, I was interested in the rather coy way he dealt with the issues. The Tánaiste agreed that the Bill was good, that it had many elements they would like and that they might bring in a Bill like it. In effect, the Tánaiste said the Bill was what they wanted but we should not ask them to accept it now, that they would like to introduce one later.

It is regrettable that the Labour Party were asked to withdraw this Bill when it is so timely and necessary. I regret also that we were told last night by Government speakers that we must wait for the Government sub-committee to report, a group who are, in effect, the Taoiseach's fig leaf. The sub-committee are giving him the kind of cover and protection he feels he needs. In reality, the Taoiseach does not need that cover. There is nothing to be afraid of. We are talking about two simple measures, the right to travel and access to information.

It is significant, when we are discussing an issue of personal and urgent need for women, that their point of view on this issue is under-represented in this House due to the small number of women Members. As a result there is an obligation on the Government, and on Ministers, to canvas the views of women's organisations who have clear opinions on these issues. The opinions and views of people such as Miss Justice Mella Carroll, of the Commission on the Status of Women and of representations of the Council for the Status of Women should be acted upon. The Government should listen to the opinions of women because their representation in this House is only a pale shadow of what it should be.

The issue relating to freedom to travel is not the most controversial issue. We all accept that is a basic fundamental right that there is a difficulty with regard to information on abortion. The alarm bells rang for me when I read the White Paper on the Treaty which states that as regards the freedom to obtain and provide information, the member states declare that Ireland remains entitled by legislation to impose conditions on the exercise of this freedom, thus the right of the Oireachtas to subject the provision on information to conditions in the public interest is expressly recognised by member states. That worried me because it matched what the Tánaiste said last night when talking about the right to information.

The Tánaiste said that information cannot be alien to the values of his country. What on earth was he talking about? How can information be alien to the values of the country. We are talking about information which is facts, statistics, details. Are we looking towards another Irish solution to an Irish problem? Are we looking towards some kind of extraordinary legal gymnastics, under which we will only have information for women who are pregnant and are likely to commit suicide? Will that information only be handed over after a psychiatrist's certificate is produced and so on? I hope we will not go down that road and that women will not be subject to this kind of nonsense which will see entitlement to information being based on specific conditions laid down by the Supreme Court judgement. That would be nonsense, If the Government are considering such a convoluted provision it will lead to uproar and reaction from women's groups and any right thinking people.

Hear, hear.

It is vital that information be made available. Those who talk to groups such as the Well Woman Centre or family planning clinics know how much they are hampered by not being able to give proper information to women who come to them. Withholding comprehensive information from women who seek counselling means that women who may be thinking of an abortion as an option will not seek advice. Not being able to approach skilled counsellors, who often dissuade women from going for abortions, means that women will be pushed towards unskilled people, to perhaps the father of the child who often puts considerable pressure on the woman to have an abortion, or to friends or workmates or other family members who might feel from a distance, that an abortion is right for the woman, and advise it. This is not right and it is a direct by-product of not having proper information available. As a gesture of the Government's goodwill and an indication that they understand what has happened since the Supreme Court judgement, and the injunction debate in the X case, will they consider withdrawing the injunction against family planning clinics about a year ago and allow information to be made freely available? Why not do that, stop this circus that is happening in Europe, indicate that we have gone beyond that and permit information to be made freely available?

On the main issue, which is the need to legislate on the abortion issue, there are many areas encompassed other than the expressed, apparent ones such as the case of ectopic pregnancies or cancer of the uterus. Therefore discussion is called for and indeed, some doctors have expressed concern to me that we need to examine this question much more broadly and engage in wide consultation on it.

With the permission of the House, I wish to share my time, with the Minister for Energy and the Minister of State at the Department of Industry and Commerce, Deputy O'Rourke.

Is the House agreeable? Agreed.

I appreciate that this Bill seeks to amend the Constitution to deal with certain perceived consequences of the Supreme Court in the case of the Attorney Generalv. X and, therefore, is set in a context of domestic Irish law, which is, of course, the context within which these matters must be dealt. However, as we are in the period leading up to the Referendum on the Treaty on European Union, I want — under my that as Minister of State for European Affairs — to deal with certain European aspects of the matters at issue, that is, travel and information. In doing so, I will be largely reiterating points previously made by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and myself. But there are one or two new points I want to get firmly on the record.

Naturally, I understand and can empathise with the strong concern, indignation and anger that many women would have felt about being, as it is sometimes put, locked up in their own country. But, as Deputy Howlin and his party appear to recognise, in their sponsorship of this Bill, these concerns do not stem from the Maastricht-Treaty.

The Protocol does not take away rights to travel and information under European law which, of course, is applicable in Ireland. All member states, in the Solemn Declaration, have confirmed that this is the proper legal interpretation which the Protocol will have when the Treaty to which it is annexed comes into force.

That is not true.

I think Deputy Howlin should hear me out. Some commentators have queried the force of this. It can be taken as certain that all member states consulted their top legal advisers before agreeing the Declaration. While member states are not the ultimate judicial arbiter, in these circumstances, the Declaration must have tremendous force.

Last Thursday we had a declaration from the legal services and from legal counsel that the declaration means nothing.

Deputy Howlin will have an opportunity of making concluding comments. I would ask him to wait until then. The Minister of State without interruption.

In regard to the force of the Solemn Declaration I would point out that the recent second and favourable Opinion of the European Court of Justice on the legality of the EEA agreement pivoted not on the Solemn Declaration but on a mere entry in the minutes. Thus the concern of some in the Labour Party about the Protocol making Irish women second-class citizens — which appears to relate to the rights to travel and information available under European law — is also misplaced. These rights are available now and will continue to be available after ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, even with the Protocol in its present form.

As I have already indicated, the Protocol, even in its present form, does not take away rights to travel and information under European law. I have no doubt that recourse to the European Court of Justice very probably, even now, would vindicate the rights in any particular case, but it is through action in Ireland in regard to our Constitution and public policy that the availability of these rights can be directly and generally guaranteed.

The Government have indicated that this will be done in a further constitutional amendment next November. As Deputies will be aware, there is a Cabinet sub-committee working and making progress on this matter. I am sure the House collectively would wish them well in that work.

That takes me to the Bill before the House. I sympathise with the intentions behind it and would not quarrel with the principle of what it seeks to achieve, quite the contrary. However, I strongly suggest to the Labour Party that our experience over the past decade has shown that issues of this type are best dealt with on the basis of all-party consensus. Indeed we have seen consensus within the term of this Government already. Here I might refer Members to the establishment of an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Employment and to our collective efforts to amend the Protocol. I might refer also to the measures of Dáil reform introduced and another committee established that Deputy Howlin, I and others had been seeking for some time, that is the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and, only this week, a Special Committee on the Finance Bill. Therefore I ask the Opposition to accept that there have been major improvements wrought in regard to Dáil reform in a spirit of consensus. I do not see why the same should not apply here. This being such a sensitive matter it must be addressed by Members across party lines in a considered manner, and it is within our capacity to do so. Indeed I would say that the electorate will not thank us if we do not respond collectively to this challenge.

As the Taoiseach indicated in his response to Deputy Howlin's approach to the Bill, the best way to foster this is to wait until the Government are in a position to consult the other parties on proposals that will deal comprehensively with the issues. It is simply logical and common sense to deal comprehensively, at one time, with all the issues arising from the Supreme Court and not pursue merely partial solutions.

The Government firmly believe that the logical course is to deal with all aspects together. As soon as the Cabinet sub-committee have completed their work and the Government concluded their deliberations, the Dáil, the parties and the public will be fully informed of their conclusions. I wish to reaffirm what the Taoiseach has said on this matter: if a wording can be made available before 18 June, that will be done. A Referendum will be held in November next, to deal with the travel and information issues which arise and with any other questions which, on completion of the Government's consideration of the issues raised by the Supreme Court decisions, emerge as necessary and are feasible to deal with by consitutional amendment: of course, it may be that any such issues will fall to be dealt with by legislation or by a combination of legislation and constitutional amendment.

In the context of the Protocol and of the Solemn Declaration, any such amendment would have to respect the rights to travel and information, as they exist under European law.

I want to assure Deputy Howlin, and anybody else in need of such assurance, that the rights and welfare of the women of Ireland are in safe hands with this Government.

The Minister of State fills us with confidence.

We can be depended on to deal with the questions of travel and information on which the Government have been unequivocal since these issues first came before us. It needs to be reiterated that, in endeavouring to amend the Protocol and in formulating the Solemn Declaration, the Government's thinking and intentions are very clear in relation to travel and information. That point has to be made in order to make the position absolutely clear. I have known Deputy Howlin for some time. I respect his sincerity and bona fides in introducing this Private Members' Bill. In fact we soldiered together on many humanitarian issues in the past. I would ask him to reflect on the Tánaiste's contribution last evening, a sincere position put by him. I would support the Tánaiste's call that Deputy Howlin consider the option of withdrawing his Bill without prejudice to his right to move it at a later date. There are great benefits to be had from a cross-party approach, particularly on this issue. We should all avoid any step which would dissipate such benefits.

The Labour Party's Private Members' Bill is an indication that there is cross-party consensus in Dáil Éireann that every necessary step should be taken to ensure that the courts of this country never again become the venue for proceedings against any Irish woman seeking to deprive her of her rights as a citizen of Ireland, and as a citizen of Europe, to travel out of this country on the grounds that she may, or probably will have an abortion. Likewise there exists in this House a cross-party consensus that if Irish women can travel abroad for that purpose, there is no sound or logical basis for depriving them of access to non-directive counselling.

The Progressive Democrats' view is that every necessary constitutional and statutory change must be adopted to ensure that there are no more "X" cases, and to ensure that people in the position of the defendant in the "X" case can avail of non-directive counselling. To that end the Government have decided that there will be a constitutional referendum this autumn to guarantee the right to travel and information. We in the Progressive Democrats make no secret of our view that the issues of Maastricht and abortion should never have been entwined. Ideally we would have preferred to deal with the travel and information rights before the people voted on the Maastricht Treaty on European Union on 18 June next so that there could be no doubts whatsoever concerning the effect of the Maastricht Protocol. However, the important point is that the Maastricht Protocol will not be legally effective until next January, whatever its meaning in the light of the Solemn Declaration, and that prior to that date the travel and information referendum will have been held.

For that reason alone the Progressive Democrats believe that people, especially women, concerned about the 18 June vote can vote "Yes" to European Union knowing that the travel and information issue will be resolved before the Treaty comes into force on 1 January next. Moreover, the Progressive Democrats are of the view that the referendum on European Union must now be the singular focus of public attention, and every effort must be made to explain fully to the public the positive benefits of a resounding "Yes" vote on 18 June next.

We had argued publicly, and privately within Government, for the travel and information issue to be dealt with (a) separately from the Maastricht issues, and (b) before the Maastricht issues. We were in a minority in Government on that issue but, if opinion polls are to be believed, we belong to a vast majority of Irish people who believe that the Government's wording on the proposed travel and information referendum should be known to the electorate before 18 June.

The Progressive Democrats will, if necessary, indicate there position before 18 June by issuing a formal policy paper on the matter, including the wording appropriate to the issue for incorporation into our Constitution as Article 40.3.4º. However, we would prefer if the Government as a whole could clarify their position by that date instead.

Members of this House may recently have received a communication from the Pro-Life Campaign, based in Dublin, but not signed by anyone, which sought to insinuate that the Progressive Democrats were preventing the Fianna Fáil Party from aligning themselves with the so-called Pro-Life Campaign in seeking a referendum to re-write the 1983 Amendment, following its interpretation by the Supreme Court in the "X" case.

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 1983, conferred equal rights to life on the unborn and on the mother. In relation to the equal right to life of the unborn, it declared that the State should "by its laws" defend and vindicate that right "as far as practicable". Clearly this inferred, and was acknowledged to be the case during the public debate surrounding the 1983 referendum, that there would be very exceptional circumstances where a conflict could arise between the right to life of the mother and her unborn, and that in those very limited circumstances, the right of the mother would have to prevail.

That was the question which fell to be adjudicated on by the High Court, and subsequently the Supreme Court, in the recent "X" case. The Supreme Court judgments concluded that where there was "a real and substantial risk" to the life of the mother, then her rights had to be given priority.

The Progressive Democrats favour legislation as the means of resolving the situation now prevailing in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment, with a view to defining what would constitute "a real and substantial risk" to a mother and to decide who are the people who would evaluate those circumstances. We do not believe, on the basis of the expert opinion available to us, that a further amendment to the Constitution on this matter is feasible. We are not ruling out this possibility; we merely think it is a non-runner.

The Progressive Democrats could not accept a re-wording of the 1983 Amendment, Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution, which would have the effect of ensuring that in all and every circumstance, and with no medical exceptions whatsoever, the right to life of the unborn would be paramount. We believe that this would be unacceptable to women in Ireland and that it would be wrong to have an absolute ban on any medical intervention to save the mother's life in circumstances where she faced "a real and substantial risk" to her life. Furthermore, it would appear that our viewpoint is shared by the vast majority of the Irish people, as reflected in the two recent opinion polls on Maastricht. There is no question of the Progressive Democrats standing between Fianna Fáil and their supporters' views on this matter. Their supporters are clearly part of the great majority of people who, along with the Progressive Democrats, do not want to lessen the rights of pregnant women.

We accept the principle of this Bill. However, we are bound by a Government decision to a different order of things. We are convinced that the Irish people do not regard the order in which the referenda on European Union and on travel and information as an issue on which the Government should split and precipitate a general election. In these circumstances, we would ask the House to regard the votes cast this evening by our party as being confined to the issue of timing alone, and not the principle of the Bill, which we fully endorse. We believe that the priority now is to put the Maastricht referendum on European Union beyond dispute and to turn separately to resolving the legal implications of the "X" case in the autumn, including the travel and information referendum. That will enable the Members of this House to address the issue then with greater objectivity than would be possible in close proximity to the Maastricht referendum.

In this way, the Progressive Democrats' duty to sustain good government in the interests of people, and our clear position on the travel and information issue will be reconciled. I thank the Labour Party for putting this matter before the House and giving me this opportunity to set out clearly the position of the Progressive Democrats.

While I may not have the luxury of engaging in a wider debate on these issues I intend to be very forthright in my remarks. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill.

There is a wealth of information before the House to indicate the position of the Government on the issues of travel and information — the Taoiseach has spoken at length in reply to parliamentary questions and the White Paper on the Maastricht Treaty, copies of which have been laid before the House, spells out on pages 13 to 17, 15 sub-paragraphs in all, the background to the Protocol to the Treaty, the implications of the Supreme Court's decision in the Attorney Generalv. X case and the effect of the Solemn Declaration which has been agreed by all the EC partners.

The issues of travel and information were dealt with in the course of debate in the House on the Government's Bill to amend the Constitution to enable the State to ratify the Maastricht Treaty. In that debate it was claimed that the Government should amend their Bill to provide for the travel and information issues or, alternatively, support the Private Member's Bill now before the House. The clear message from the Government has been that a referendum on the right to travel and information, and any other issues which may be necessary to be dealt with as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court in the Attorney Generalv. X case will be held in November next and that the complexity of the issues arising from the court's decision are such that the Government have decided to deal with all aspects together.

The Tánaiste has indicated that the Government's opposition to the Bill is not based on any rejection in principle of what it seeks to achieve, rather the approach of the Government is, to address fully all the issues raised by the court's decision in the Attorney Generalv. X case in the most comprehensive way possible.

It is the Government's intention to introduce not only legislation to enable the Constitution to be amended to provide freedom of travel to and from the State and freedom to give and receive information, as may be regulated by law, about services lawfully available in other States, but also legislation to deal with issues arising from the interpretation by the Supreme Court of Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution or legislation to enable Article 40.3.3º to be amended. The details of what might be included in the Government's proposals are being examined by a Government sub-committee.

I am aware that these issues have been referred to in detail by previous speakers, but I wish to put my views on the record. I have already made my views on these issues very clear. Very early in this debate I spoke clearly and unequivocally about the right and need for women to receive information on abortion. I said this in the knowledge that there is something very wrong in either politicians or bureaucrats deciding to withhold information from anybody and that there is something particularly galling in either politicians or bureaucrats seeking to withhold information from women as if in some way women were not receptive to such information as they could not comprehend it or may be tainted in any way by it. That is utter nonsense. I remember clearly that Deputy Howlin agreed with my remarks in an article in a Sunday newspaper.

I have also made it clear that Maastricht must be separated from all other issues. All parties agree that it is an issue of great importance to the country. It is also an issue on which we need to have a very widespread debate. We are about to enter into such a debate. The other issues — the right to travel, the right to full and comprehensive information on abortion and the Supreme Court decision — are inter-linked and bound up with one another. I notice Deputy Howlin did not dwell at length on the information issue.

The Minister was not present in the House.

I listened carefully to what the Deputy said. While I am not saying there was no depth in his thinking, there was no great depth in what he said about the type of information which should be made available, how freely available it should be made and what it should contain. Perhaps the Deputy will elucidate further on these issues later. If so, I will listen as keenly as I listened to his contribution last night. It is obvious that those issues are inter-related. To seek to deal with one or two of them and to leave the main issue until later would distort the full picture of what we want to achieve through this debate. We wish we could all have the luxury of saying: "We agree, but we must vote". That option is not open to us. I do not agree with the timing, as regards the two issues but I assure the women and men of the country — and there are men who are interested in this matter as well as women — that my voice, which has been very clear on this issue, will continue to be as clear and concise on it as the debate develops in the autumn.

My mind is very clearly fixed on the issues, on what should be contained in them and what should be the final outcome, and I shall not be modest about making that known as the debate develops throughout the late summer and early autumn. It is then that we will need to arrive at a consensus because it is then that all the issues which appear to have quietened a little in regard to the European union debate will emerge in ever more strident form. It is then that women and men of courage and of clear sighted vision and logic, politicians as well as people outside the Dáil, will build upon what we have already said and done and will voice our views accordingly.

I turn now to the question of information and counselling which will, no doubt, form the basis of considerable debate in the coming months. It is an issue which will require a great deal of consensus and I would hope that the debate will be reasoned and balanced. At present, of course, there is not a constitutional right to information about the availability of a service of abortion outside the State unless the information relates to an abortion of the kind covered by Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution. The proposed referendum on information will inevitably bring about changes in our laws on information about abortion and this will have serious implications for those who operate in the area of counselling and information. It is they who will work under the new laws, and that is why their view will be of importance in coming to decisions on these matters.

I know that Deputy Howlin's instincts are right and that he has put forward this Bill on the basis of those instincts. I do not agree with my colleague, Deputy Molloy, who seems to have a very deep faith in the polls and who quoted them frequently in his speech tonight. If we were to go by them we would be up today and down tomorrow, as would our tempers. I submit to Deputy Howlin that many people in this House share his viewpoint, but there should not be haste about this matter because we would find ourselves enacting a law which had been hastily put together without the necessary services being made available. As we debate this matter in the early autumn the full implications of what we are doing will become apparent and will be spoken about very freely by many people, including myself. At that stage the professional services and training necessary will be available. It is important that they are in place because we do not want a measure which will leave people traumatised and in difficult circumstances with which they cannot cope.

The question of information and counselling in its widest context is being examined by the Government and I see the merit of taking all the issues together, including travel, information, counselling and the legal and medical aspects of Article 40.3.3º. Any other approach would not be comprehensive. It might lead toad hoc measures, and that, I am afraid, could be the position following on this Bill. As I have said, the Bill has been brought forward without consideration of the wider issues and on the basis that the people should vote on travel and information and forget about what should be done about Article 40.3.3º and what legislation is required to deal with the implications of the Attorney General v. X. I hope the Labour Party will have a rethink on their approach and that there might be a basis for consensus when the Government are in a position to bring forward their proposals on all the elements, including travel and information.

I now call Deputy Proinsias De Rossa. I understand that there is an arrangement regarding the division of time.

I understand that I have 15 minutes.

Ordinarily speakers are entitled to 30 minutes. I am asking the Deputy to indicate whether he is sharing his time with some other party.

If another party wishes to share my time I will be happy to oblige. The Democratic Left support this Bill. We commend the Labour Party for bringing it before the House thus giving us the opportunity to address an issue which, to a significant extent, the Government, including the Progressive Democrats, despite the speech of Deputy Molloy tonight, have been reluctant to have debated before this House. The amendment to the Constitution proposed in the Bill would effectively ensure the right of Irish women to freedom of travel and to access to information regarding pregnancy termination services available in other EC countries. It is ludicrous to suggest that the Government have not been able, in the ten weeks since the Supreme Court judgment in the X case, to come up with their own formula of words on these two issues.

If, despite all of the expertise available to them in the Attorney General's office, the Government could not have come up with a wording of their own they had the option of supporting this Bill, but they refuse to do so. There would have been no obligation on this House to process this Bill to its conclusion. It would have been possible to pass Second Stage of the Bill tonight and let it go to a committee of the House where it would be dealt with at the pleasure of the House. The Government have not offered any substantive criticism of the wording proposed in the Bill. All the Tánaiste could offer last night by way of excuse was to express the view that it would be better to deal with the issues of travel and information by all-party consensus.

The Government did not show much concern for all-party consensus when they announced unilaterally that they were going ahead with the Maastricht referendum on 18 June in advance of the legislative and constitutional changes needed arising from the X case. The Government talk about all-party consensus but they have ignored the fact that the consensus among four of the five parties in this House — Fine Gael, Labour, Democratic Left and Progressive Democrats — representing the majority of Deputies, is that the wording for any proposed amendment from the Government to Article 40.3.3º should be available in advance of 18 June. The Government's plea for all-party consensus — Deputy O'Rourke re-echoed that appeal tonight — is simply a smoke-screen. The Government's strategy from early april when they announced that the Maastricht referendum would be held on 18 June was that the wording of any subsequent amendment would not be made available before then. I strongly suspect that the Government, or certainly the Fianna Fáil members of the Government, have a very good idea of what the wording will be, but they are refusing to disclose it to avoid the risk of further upsetting Senator Hanafin and his intolerant friends. For a clue to the Taoiseach's long term strategy we need look no further than to the Taoiseach's reference in his weekly briefing for political correspondents on Thursday last to a package of measures on the abortion controversy.

I believe that what the Government are planning is a composite amendment to the Constitution which may provide some, probably restricted, right to freedom of travel and information but which would also attempt to overturn the decision of the Supreme Court that abortion is permissible within this country where there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother. Thus the Taoiseach would be able to say to the ultra-conservative element in his own party. "Look, we have had to concede a little on the rights to travel and information, but in this amendment we are also closing the door for all time on any possibility of the introduction of abortion in any form in Ireland. You have to take it or leave it." Such an amendment would be a very serious development. It is difficult to see how any amendment to the Constitution aimed at overturning the Supreme Court decision would not tilt the balance in favour of the foetus and consequently create a totally unacceptable risk to the lives and health of mothers.

An omnibus amendment to the Constitution along these lines would be dishonest and totally unfair to the electorate. It would, for instance, place in an impossible position those who want to see the right to freedom of travel and information unequivocally established but who support the decision of the Supreme Court. It would be equally unfair to those who want to see the Supreme Court decision overturned but who may in the generosity of their hearts want to grant the right to travel and information to women.

If the promised referendum is to be conducted in a truly democratic manner then the electorate must be allowed to make separate decisions in regard to travel, information and any proposed substantive changes to Article 40.3.3º arising from the Supreme Court decision. Anything else would be a deplorable return to stroke politics on what everyone acknowledges is an extremely important issue for the vast majority of people.

There is also a need for the political parties in the Dáil to look beyond the issues of travel and information and to face up to the issue of abortion itself. There have been a series of opinion polls which have indicated a remarkable shift in political opinion on abortion. Gone is the simplistic approach which was dominant in 1983 of "No abortion ever, in any circumstances in Ireland". The MRBI poll published inThe Irish times on Monday last indicated that 80 per cent of people believed that abortion should be allowed in certain circumstances in this country.

People have learned a lot in the past nine years. They appreciate that issues can be a lot more complex than the simple way in which they are depicted by organisations like SPUC. The "X" case came as a great shock to many people. The fact that a young girl, already the victim of a despicable crime, could be subjected to further humiliation and degradation by our legal system caused widespread outrage.

In fact the polls show that the positions of most of the political parties in the Dáil have not kept pace with changing opinion. There is now a climate for change, and politicians must face up to it. The position of the Democratic Left, as decided at our founding conference is that there should be a right to abortion in Ireland where the life or health of the mother is threatened. The other political parties should now get off the fence and state clearly what their positions are. We can no longer keep shipping this problem off to Britain; legislators must face up to their responsibilities.

Neither can abortion — or the right to travel and information — be considered in isolation from the broader problems facing women. Virtually every significant advance achieved by Irish women in the past 20 years had been forced on the Legislature either by the courts or by the EC. The right to serve on juries, the introduction of limited family planning facilities, and now freedom of travel and information on abortion have all come from court decisions. Equal treatment in social welfare, maternity leave and equal pay have all been introduced as a result of our obligations as members of the EC. There has been no coherent programme for the advancement of women put forward by any Irish Government.

The significance of the original Protocol to the Maastricht Agreement, agreed in virtual secrecy last year, takes on a particular significance when considered against the background of the positive role the EC has played in advancing the rights of Irish women. The Protocol was clearly designed to prevent Irish women from seeking recourse to the European Court of Justice to establish their entitlement to equal rights as European citizens. That was the purpose of the Protocol, and that remains its effect, and the solemn declaration has no legal or constitutional impact on this position.

I agree with many of the points made by the chairperson of the Council for the Status of Women, Frances Fitzgerald, at their recent conference and I particularly endorse the criticism of many of the male politicians who have been vocal in the past few weeks on the abortion issue but, have shown little concern for the other concerns of women's lives. These politicians are being very naive if they hope that the passage of a minimalist amendment to the Constitution and further restrictive legislation will allow this issue to disappear.

During the debate on the 1983 referendum many crocodile tears were shed for the plight of single mothers and much emphasis was placed on the need to improve their position so that fewer might take the option of abortion. Yet ten years on a single mother is still asked to live on an income well below the level recommended by the Commission on the Status of Women — and, of course, she losses even this pittance if she does a day's work.

We still have no national comprehensive family planning service. The Minister for Health is required under the 1979 Family Planning Act to provide a natural family planning service, but there is no obligation on him to provide any other type of family planning service. The result of this is that the health boards play little or no role in the provision of a service which is of such vital importance to women's health. A simple Bill to provide for the wider availability of condoms, published last August, still has not seen the light of day in the Dáil.

Proper legislative and constitutional changes arising from the Supreme Court decision would be a step forward, but it will not be the end of the process. What we need now is a more comprehensive programme of reform to deal with the medical, social and economic issues which arise directly from the unique biological function of women. This must include legislation specifying the circumstances in which abortion will be permissable; a comprehensive national family planning service; a wider programme of education on sex in our schools; a community-based childcare service; longer maternity leave and the introduction of paternity leave; and a reform of the social welfare system to provide an adequate independent income for all women not in paid employment.

We also need to examine the possibility of a constitutional amendment which would remove ambiguities about the status of women and provide a clear and general prohibition on all forms of discrimination, direct or indirect, which are based on sex, marital status, sexual orientation or family circumstances.

I thank the Labour Party for bringing this Bill before the House and for the opportunity to speak on it. I propose to share my time with Deputy Michael Higgins.

I thank Deputy De Rossa for giving me an opportunity to speak on this Bill. On behalf of the Labour Party I thank him for his generous response and support for our attempt to bring a little sanity into this whole issue of rights of women in relation to travel and information.

Standing behind the discussion on this Bill, like some menancing ghost, is the whole issue of the Protocol to the Maastricht Treaty. We have had many opportunities for a Government spokesperson to stand up and say who asked for the Protocol, who initiated it and what it was meant to achieve. The answer can be given technically outside the Dáil, to bring article 40.3.3º into the Treaty. Here is the issue that the public have in their minds.

The Tánaiste last evening said we should wait for a package but we want to know whether it is the Government's intention to overturn the Supreme Court decision; to move beyond it or to establish once and for all clear rights in relation to options that are available to women in Europe as citizens of Europe. I had the opportunity of putting some of these questions to members of the Commission dealing with legal affairs. When I raised the question of the value of the Solemn Declaration, one of their most learned people said they can make a solemn declaration, but asked what was the public policy on these issues in Ireland. The Government run away all the time from expressing public policy on this matter. Our intelligence was insulted by a sentence in the speech of Deputy Tom Kitt, Minister of State, where he has the audacity to say:

The Protocol does not take away rights to travel and information under European law which, of course, is applicable in Ireland.

When I was on a television programme earlier this week, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, said he wanted to ensure that European law did not parachute into Ireland. I find it distasteful that so often when it comes to rights issues there seems to be a reluctance to accept the basic reality that women have as many rights as men and that there is nothing in their biological or gender makeup which should stop them having the right of every citizen in Europe. The reality, of course, is that in the Costello judgment the interaction of Irish rights and European law was commented on in such a way as to leave it an issue that travel rights did not exist in an absolute sense. It is very clear that the Supreme Court, while resolving some aspects of the decision in the X case, left other matters on which it did not comment. They know that in Europe and it is an insult to our intelligence to suggest, therefore, that the Protocol is not important.

There is the suggestion that the matter will be fixed up before the Treaty comes into operation in January. I ask Irish women, and the Irish public, to make their own estimation of the extent to which they can trust the Government and Fianna Fáil in areas of social legislation. I remember the glib, side-of-the-mouth description of the 1979 legislation on family planning and contraception as, an Irish solution to an Irish problem. It was an evasive running away from a basic right and it was an insult to us and the public.

As we move towards the beginning of a new century I find it extraordinary that a woman by being a woman capable of becoming pregnant has somehow disqualified herself from the information available through scientific advance, medicine and the caring sciences of psychology and so forth. The Government criticised the Labour Party for not saying more about information but why are the Government prosecuting through the courts those who would provide information, counselling services and would be of assistance to women? The truth of the matter is that the Government gave the game away on themselves by saying that in European law by way of final recourse, having exhausted the mechanisms of law available in this jurisdiction, one might find the right to travel vindicated in some sense. It is easy to give away that which will be taken from you in the final vindication but the Government are silent on the issue of information.

This Bill stops short of making excessive demands. There are people who want to disentangle the Protocol from the Maastricht Treaty. Were these people, as yet unnamed and who came forward and asked for this form of words in the Protocol, told by the unnamed people who met them that they were putting £6 billion at risk, or were they told that this would be slipped in for them? If it is so important that we cannot talk about it lest we risk the major economic benefits of the Treaty, was it not important then?

What I find offensive is the suggestion that one should have to balance economic benefits against fundamental rights. The Labour Party's Bill gave the Government the opportunity with the consensus of this House to take out of the realm of debate the issues of travel and information. Why do the Government not respond by saying they would vote for the Labour Party's Bill on Second Stage but discuss the detailed wording later? Instead they said that the timing was not right. Why is that the case? It is because there is a higher moral authority than this House, the Fianna Fáil Cabinet sub-committee. When people canvassed at the doors ask questions about the rights to travel and information I hope they will be enormously carried away when the canvassers say: "that is being looked after by a Government sub-committee." We should know, and the public should know, what proposals the Government intend putting forward.

I wish to express the greatest reservations about the speeches that have been made so far and the talk of a package. The dilemma is whether the Government will limit the issue of right to travel and to information in their package. Are the Government suggesting that our partners in Europe have solemnly declared they will seek to help us vindicate whatever we may like to ascribe to Article 40.3.3º? It is one thing for the Government to look for a blank cheque from the public but it is another thing for them to assume that our partners in Europe are that daft. The question being put to us again and again in Europe is, "what is your public policy on this issue?"

The Labour Party's Bill gives the Government the opportunity to say on the dimensions of travel and information that there is consensus in the Irish Parliament. This consensus is being squandered and the opportunity is being missed. It is always very sad that on issues like this, upon which the public have advanced their thinking in compassionate ways, we lose opportunities of legislating to catch the generosity and compassion of public opinion. It is very sad that we are left with such an unwholesome situation in that we cannot discuss a treaty that deals with monetary, economic and political union because, somehow or another, we have decided to put a limitation on the rights of women.

Why were the people responsible for Article 40.3.3º in our Constitution and who went on to use their influence to have it included as Ireland's Protocol to the Treaty on European Union? If we check the 17 Protocols we can judge the interests diplomatically of the different members of the Community by the items mentioned in the different Protocols such as ownership of homes in Denmark and land in Holland but someone decided that what Ireland wanted by way of Protocol to the Treaty was Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution.

It is scandalous that in this Chamber on 28 November when the Taosieach of the day stood up to make a major speech on Maastricht there was not one line in that speech dealing with a Protocol. What this Bill is about and what this Bill sought was simply to say: there will be legislation enabling a referendum to equal up rights of women in relation to travel and information. That is being deferred and instead of having a referendum soon that would result in these rights being provided they are asked to trust that it will be fixed up by Christmas. Who knows what will come out of the woodwork between now and December? If people accepted this offer of acting on trust, what would happen if this act was betrayed? There is an opportunity in our Bill to say, once and for all, "We want you to know we will not betray your trust because we are going to vote this evening in favour of a referendum for travel and for information". That is what is being rejected. It is an extraordinary arrogance and it is asking Irish women to take a risk. I think Irish women have a right to be concerned.

As another speaker said earlier, this is not what one would call a woman's issue, it is a democratic issue. It is not just women who are concerned, it is anybody who believes in the democratic rights in the fullness of citizenship and in the fullness of European citizenship. It is regrettable that this Bill is not being accepted in the spirit in which it is offered. It is unfair because of what it will do to the public debate on the other and other more substantive issues.

I am calling the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Daly. I wish to advise the Minister of State that I am obliged to call a spokesperson from the Labour Party at 7.15 p.m.

I wish to share some of my time with Deputy Briscoe, if that is agreed.

Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

The points made by Deputy Higgins help to underline in a very positive way the desirability of having the complex issues involved, and which are of paramount importance, the subject of the Government's considered view. We do not take issue with the principle involved. It is the view of the Government that as a sub-committee are at present dealing with this issue — with all the services of the State at their disposal and with a number of Ministers involved — it is desirable that their considered views be on the table before we take a decision on this Bill. That point was made clear not only by speakers tonight but also by a number of speakers last night.

In the short time available to me it would be very difficult to address all the issues raised in this debate. I wish to state clearly that I, as well as many others, commend Deputy Howlin for the time and effort he has put into preparing this Bill concerning travel and information. The Taoiseach and a number of Government Ministers have already pointed out that the complexities of the question involved are such that a Cabinet sub-committee is necessary to deal with them.

The matters raised by the Attorney Generalv. X case are complex and far-reaching. These issues are being fully examined at present. The Taoiseach indicated on a number of occasions in this House that he intends that the issues arising from the Supreme Court ruling in that case will require either a referendum or legislation or both. The Government have given a commitment in this area. Once the Cabinet sub-committee have completed their work then the Government will be in a position to decide on specific ways to proceed. At the moment our efforts are concentrated on elaborating on the implications for Ireland of the Treaty on European Union and the need for a “Yes” vote on 18 June.

I should remind Deputies that soon to be included in the new editions of the Treaty is the Solemn Declaration agreed between Ireland and all the other member states of the European Community. This Solemn Declaration was negotiated with our European partners after it became clear that our partners were unwilling to hold an inter-governmental conference for the purpose of amending the Protocol to address the issues raised in the Supreme Court case.

Our partners' unwillingness to hold another inter-governmental conference had nothing to do with their views on the substance of the issue of the right to life. Indeed, they were sympathetic to our concerns and willing to help us in every way possible. However, it became clear that either an amendment to the Treaty or the deletion of Protocol 17 of the Treaty would have involved a new inter-governmental conference and this they were not prepared to undertake.

Any such inter-governmental conference would have led to demands in other member states for negotiations on other issues of concern to them. In the memorable words of one Foreign Minister, it would have opened up a "Pandora's Box", and this they were not prepared to do. In the event, the Government proposed and won a Solemn Declaration which was agreed between Ireland and the other European States of the European Community.

The Solemn Declaration includes an undertaking by all member states that they will be favourably disposed to amending Protocol 17, if Ireland so requests, in order to extend its protection to any further constitutional amendment concerning Article 40.3.3º. The text of any such amendment of our Constitution would be for Ireland to decide in the context of the outcome of the considerations of the Cabinet sub-committee. The Solemn Declaration was formally adopted by all the member states of the Community on 2 May. It will form part of the documents sent by each member state to its Legislature in order to complete ratification procedures. The new edition of the Treaty on European Union, to be published shortly by the Council and the Commission of the European Communities, will include the text of the Solemn Declaration as adopted.

There has been some questioning of the status of the Solemn Declaration and I would like to address these issues briefly. Firstly, the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which came into force in 1980, provides that in interpreting any Treaty any later agreement on the interpretation of that Treaty must be taken into account. The European Court of Justice has accepted the provisions of the Vienna Convention. Ireland also gives effect to its provisions and many of our partners are parties to this convention.

Secondly, the text of the Solemn Declaration was examined by the legal services of our eleven partners in the European Community as well as the legal services of the Commission. As legal advisers to their respective governments the Solemn Declaration was analysed by these legal services. On the basis of the advice received no government had any difficulty in agreeing to the terms of the Solemn Declaration.

The Government are satisfied they have done everything that can be done to allay the justifiable concerns which have arisen out of the Supreme Court judgment, prior to the referendum on the Treaty of European Union which will be held on 18 June. The Government are committed to addressing these issues with specific proposals for either a referendum or legislation or both, later in the year. The point was made by Deputy Higgins of the need to disentangle the vote on the Treaty from the other issues that have been raised. The Government's approach has been to endeavour to disentangle the right to life issue from the ratification of the Treaty on European Union. We need to approach both issues in a considered and dispassionate manner. The people will have the opportunity on 18 June to give what I expect to be a positive verdict on the Treaty; and at a later stage this year will be in a position to give their views on the important issues which have been raised by Deputy Howlin in this Bill. That is a sensible way to deal with this.

We are all fully aware of the complications. There is a desire on the part of everybody here that the fullest consideration should be given first by the Cabinet subcommittee, the key people in this whole area, who will put proposals on the table. In the absence of those it would be unwise to proceed further with this legislation.

If the Treaty on European Union had not occurred in this year the issues of abortion and the right to travel would still have to be dealt with as a result of the judgment given by the Supreme Court. It is most mischievous to try to entwine the abortion issue and the right to travel issue with the Treaty.

A Deputy

Gerry Collins did that.

It is abundantly clear, and the Labour Party know it.

Look to your own Front Bench.

The Labour Party are talking out of both sides of their mouths. They know full well that these are separate issues and that the Protocol could not be changed until such time as the Maastricht Treaty was ratified.

That is not true.

If the Heads of Government agreed to change the Protocol inserted by the Irish Government they might have to agree to changes that other Heads of Government suggested and the whole Treaty would have to be renegotiated.

Why did you have it included?

Those are the facts.

The Deputy has only five minutes.

I do not mind the interruptions.

You are encouraging interruptions.

I do not need the interruptions, but as far as I am concerned the Deputy can interrupt all he likes, the people who shout loudest do so in an effort to defend their own position.

We did not put the Protocol in the Treaty.

There is a deliberate attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the people of this country by entwining these issues.

You did it.

No, indeed not. The benefits to this country which will arise from the ratification of this Treaty will be massivevis-à-vis anything that would be lost by way of it and the Opposition know that. The Government have stated clearly that they will not legislate piece-meal, that they will introduce a referendum on the right to travel which is a basic human right. God knows I have had enough petitions in this House signed by people about the right of other people in other parts of the world to travel to see it denied to the people of this country. That right will not be denied to the people of this country and the Government have stated that quite clearly.

What did the courts say?

The job of the Government is to govern. I would like to compliment the Taoiseach on the wonderful manner in which he retained a cool demeanour in all the bluster that has been going on over this issue. He has maintained all along that we must get the Treaty on European Union through first.

When all those people talked about the abortion issue not one was able to come up with a form of words that would confer equal right to life as between the unborn child and the mother. That is the difficulty facing the Government and anybody else trying to define equality of right to life whether of the unborn or the mother. The superior right of the mother is recognised by most people. There are few who do not recognise that right. The only way equality can be conferred in such a situation is when both the mother and the unborn child die and nobody wants that. There is no form of words to confer equality where one must die and the other lives and everybody knows that. The only thing we can do is legislate and that will come about later.

I can understand the enthusiasm to get on to something that is very popular with the people. Everybody in this House agrees on the right to travel.

The time has come to call the other speaker——

The Deputy did not say whether he was in favour of the Protocol? Does he know who had the Protocol included?

Are you in favour of the Treaty?

Deputy Dick Spring to conclude the debate.

In the interest of remaining calm I will ignore the remarks made in the last five minutes. This House and the country are surrounded by a blanket of confusion in relation to the content of the European Treaty which is to be voted on by the electorate on 18 June. We in the Labour Party have applied ourselves to trying to lessen that confusion at the very least and trying to separate the issues that are tied up inextricably in the Maastricht Treaty. Unfortunately the Government response has not been particularly generous. Quite frankly I am not sure that the Government have taken the issues in this Bill as seriously as they should have been taken over the last number of weeks.

It is customary in concluding on Private Members' Business to thank the Deputies who contributed to the debate over the last number of days. However, there is only one thing that matters at this stage, and that is the vote that will take place here this evening. As I understand it of now, more than 30 members of this House will not be here this evening to vote; they have other things to do. I find that regrettable. Half of those Deputies are from the Government side and half from the Opposition. I find it extremely hard to understand how so many members can take their leave of this House and show their disinterest in an issue that the people of this country are talking about, are worried about and are confused about. I hope the absence of so many Members of this House during the discussion of such a serious issue will be noticed. Is it a reflection of how seriously these issues are being taken by Government and by Opposition?

There is another committee at which Members have to attend. Do not try to misrepresent the situation.

There are eight Members on the committee.

Many people inside and outside of this House have spoken in recent weeks looking for trust on one side and looking to establish how crucial this issue is, and yet they will not be here when it actually counts and we can do something about it.

The Leader of the Progressive Democrats has made a career of espousing liberal issues, at least verbally, and one of their Deputies has been on radio on many occasions in recent weeks congratulating herself for her courage in relation to women's issues. I have to ask yet again where is she this evening and what will she be doing when it comes to voting on an issue that she has given her total commitment to? I notice with interest that the heading on the press release of the contribution of the Minister for Energy this evening proudly heralds a "call for travel and information referendum before June 18." I find that quite incredible and hard to take. I wonder if the Progressive Democrats are being serious. In a short contribution, sharing the time of the Minister of State with responsibility for Women's Affairs, one of their Ministers agreed word for word with everything that has been said by the Labour Party and by Fine Gael speakers in this debate, Deputies Fennell and Shatter and with the contribution made by Deputy De Rossa, but at the last minute explained yet again that for various reasons they will not support the principles of this Bill.

Perhaps it is a reflection on the way we conduct our democracy, but I can see no danger to the stability of Government in relation to supporting this Bill, and I am surprised that the Government party themselves could not accept the Bill in principle on Second Stage. The Taoiseach is on record as saying that he has no wish to preside over a police state and that he has no intention of ever bringing in legislation that would weaken the rights of women. Can it really be the case that the Taoiseach is going to lead his troops, men and women, through the division lobbies to vote down the principle which is up for discussion in the House?

I do not think we should make any mistakes about what is being done here this evening. We have not asked the Government to hold a referendum on these issues immediately; we have not even said that the formula of words we have put forward is the only acceptable formula. All that we have asked is that the Government come clean now, when it matters, on the principles of the Bill which in fairness most Members of the house seem to accept.

Last night in this debate Deputy Howlin, the spokesperson for the Labour Party presented to the House a careful, rigorous and detailed analysis of all the issues that have arisen since the Supreme Court decision in the X case. As far as I am concerned it was the most carefully argued presentation of these issues that I have heard in this House.

He outlined all the options that are available, if we want to do two things: first, if we want to protect in law the rights of travel and information that Irish women are entitled to enjoy as European citizens and second, if we want to address the substantive issue arising from the X case, and the constitutional balance of rights that is involved, in such a way as to protect and preserve the rights of every woman in this country. I do not believe it is possible for anyone to argue that there is a different way of proceeding than the way outlined in this House last night by Deputy Howlin. I believe the injunction in our own Constitution that it is our solemn duty "to promote the common good with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured".

I also believe that if we are to take that injunction seriously, then we, as legislators, have to take our courage in our hands and face up to all the issues with compassion, justice and, most importantly, equality. For ten years we have had a clause in our Constitution which was put there because the people were persuaded that the Members of this House should not be trusted. If we needed any reason for not putting it there we should have established at that time that Members of this House could be trusted and not caved in when the first wave came in during election campaigns. The situation that we are now in, which threatens women and which also — we should be clear about this — threatens the unborn, arises directly from the insertion of that clause in the first place. That was a very serious mistake.

The problem does not arise from Europe. Our problem is not that Europe wants to force abortion on Ireland. Our real problem now is that the Maastricht Protocol, standing alone, can prevent Europe from protecting Irish women. That is the reason in this House last night Deputy Howlin described the Maastricht Protocol as profoundly European and I agreed with him, but as and when this Bill is defeated those of us who believe in the potential of Europe will have to rely on the vague and bland promises of Fianna Fáil in regard to all these issues.

The Tánaiste last night had an excellent opportunity to provide the kind of assurances that we have been seeking Sadly, he failed to take that opportunity Instead he made it abundantly clear, by what he did not say as much as by what he said, that the Government had no real intention of clarifying their future intentions before 18 June and of clarifying them in such a way that there could be no fudge subsequently. Unfortunately, that still exists despite the attempt by the Minister of State with responsibility for women's affairs to say that some work is going on and it might be possible to do this. I find it hard to believe that the change has taken place overnight in that respect.

What this means at the end of the day is that many Irish citizens — especially, though not exclusively, women — will find themselves in ballot boxes around the country on 18 June and they will have questions to answer before they cast their votes. These questions are fundamental: can we trust Fianna Fáil if we vote "yes" to the Maastricht Treaty, and do we believe at the end of the day that they care as much about women's rights as they care about the potential financial benefits of the Maastricht Treaty for this country?

The Minister of State with responsibility for women's affairs in tonight's debate once again relied heavily on the so-called Solemn Declaration as his only form of assurance to the women whose rights he is charged with protecting and developing. I find naivety, innocence or a total lack of political determination in that attitude because he knows, as indeed does every Member of this House and people throughout this country with any degree of intelligence, that the Solemn Declaration has no legal force and cannot ever be used to over-rule an article or a Protocol of a treaty.

I wish there was more honesty in relation to this matter as it has been lackingin toto in the debate on the Treaty. We should at least be honest with the people in relation to the options before them. Sadly, this seems to be the only serious analysis that we can expect. Quite frankly, I think it leaves many Members of this House with serious difficulties in that they are unable to put their hands on their hearts and tell the women of this country that they can trust Fianna Fáil on this serious issue.

On a clear analysis of the Government's record on these and related issues, from family planning to social policy, it does not stand up to the critical test. While many things have been done by Fianna Fáil down through the years which indeed could be described as progressive, the Protocol was the first major flaw and we cannot escape from that. It was undemocratic and it had no mandate from either this House or the people of the country. Like the 1983 debate, it should never have happened or have been inserted by the previous Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Perhaps it would not have been inserted if they had consulted with this House and the views of this House had been made known prior to the signing of the original Treaty.

The response of the Government to the crisis caused by the X case has been confused, muddled, weak and has lacked conviction from day one. That is quite evident, given the attempt by the Government to go in different directions in relation to consulting our European partners. They failed to grasp the issue and they have been in disarray from day one of the X case.

In relation to the bona fides of the Fianna Fáil Party on these issues, there is one glaring example on the Order Paper of the House which has been there since early 1991 after a speech made by the former Taoiseach at the Ard Fheis which seemed to herald a new attitude on the part of the Fianna Fáil Party to social issues — he is gone and the attitude seems to have gone with him — and that is the amendment to the family planning Bill. I think we have had three Ministers for Health since that Bill was published and they do not have the ability, the conviction or the courage to bring that Bill before the House. Since the Fianna Fáil Party cannot bring before the House that simple measure, which is long overdue and which sadly has been neglected, to update family planning regulations, I wonder can they be trusted.

They would have given some assurance to the people, in particular to the women of the country, if they had come before the House; accepted the principle of the Bill. They could have said that, as the Labour Party were not forcing the pace in relation to the completion of the Bill, that they had no problem with it; and that, given the democratic and considered manner it had been presented, they would take it in that spirit and would not oppose it on Second Stage. By so doing they would have given ample evidence to the people that Fianna Fáil can be trusted in relation to their proposals and promises for the autumn but there is a serious worry that they cannot be trusted. I am genuinely worried, despite the slight assurance given by the Taoiseach that he does not want to roll back the rights of mothers, that when the debate opens in the autumn Fianna Fáil will have their own hidden agenda on the subject.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 67.

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, Patrick J.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Yates, Ivan.

Níl

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J.
  • (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Howlin and Ferris; Níl, Deputies Dempsey and Briscoe.
Question declared lost.