Estimates, 1992. - Vote 39: International Co-Operation (Revised Estimate).

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £25,910,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1992, for contributions to International Organisations and for certain Official Development Assistance, including certain grants-in-aid.

If I speak a little speedily it is because I have only 20 minutes and I want to get through as much of my speech as I can. I apologise in advance if I appear to be hasty.

Will the Minister be circulating his speech?

Yes. My officials have been taken by surprise because we were due to start at 1.30 p.m. but I am starting in advance of that.

I propose that the Vote for Foreign Affairs and the Vote for International Co-operation be debated together, as is customary.

Most of the sum proposed for the Vote for Foreign Affairs is required for the Department's administrative budget. This covers the salaries of staff at headquarters and at missions abroad as well as travel, accommodation, communications, equipment and supplies. Provision is also made for repatriation and maintenance of Irish citizens who find themselves in difficulties abroad, for services to emigrants, for cultural and information services and for North-South and Anglo-Irish Co-operation.

The debate on the Estimates is one of the relatively few occasions when Members of the Dáil have an opportunity to address the full range of foreign policy issues facing this country. I am very conscious of the fact that our present arrangements do not permit Members of the House to have as full an input in the Foreign Affairs area as I would consider desirable. The proposed Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs will provide a valuable and welcome opportunity for more detailed discussion and debate; I hope that when I come before the House to present next year's Estimates we will have a flourishing and productive committee in operation.

At this time of rapid change and readjustment in the international environment, the range and complexity of issues we must confront in the foreign policy area has rarely been greater. As I said, time constraints do not permit me to address the full range of issues in the detail I would wish. I propose, therefore, to focus in particular today on three areas of critical importance: the achievement of lasting peace in Northern Ireland; the development of the European Community; and the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide.

The search for a lasting peace settlement in Northern Ireland is a matter of the highest priority on the Government's agenda. After 23 years of unrest and suffering, the need for a political accommodation between the two traditions which would isolate the men of violence on both sides is greater than ever. The people of Northern Ireland desperately want to see progress made towards a settlement. We owe it to them, and to the cause of constitutional poitics in these islands, that a sustained effort should be made in this direction.

For the past two-and-a-half years, the Government have worked tirelessly to create conditions which would enable a process of dialogue to take place between the political parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish and British Governments. These efforts bore fruit with the opening of substantive political talks on an agreed basis several weeks ago.

We are now embarked upon a negotiation process of extraordinary complexity, whose outcome cannot yet be predicted. Major obstacles have already been encountered and the Government have no illusions about further difficulties which may lie ahead. But we are aware that these talks offer an historic opportunity for lasting political progress to be made in relation to Northern Ireland.

All of the participants — the Irish and British Governments and the constitutional parties in Northern Ireland — have pledged themselves to the goal of achieving "a new beginning for relationships within Northern Ireland, within the island of Ireland and between the peoples of these islands". This is perhaps the greatest challenge which will ever face the politicians gathered around the conference table. If it is to be met, traditional and inward-looking approaches will not suffice. If we are genuinely to achieve a new beginning, we must each address the fundamental issues involved with imagination, vision and, above all, courage.

This is the hallmark of the Irish Government's approach. We will work steadily to achieve new political structures which will involve, not the domination of one tradition by another, but rather a fair and honourable accommodation between both traditions on this island. We will do all in our power to ensure that the process, which carries with it the hopes of the vast majority of people on both islands, is brought to an early and successful conclusion.

In parallel with our efforts on the political front, we will seek to ensure that progress continues to be made in other areas which are of major concern to the Government, including the promotion of confidence on the part of the Nationalist community in the security forces and in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland. We will also continue to pay particular attention to the special problems confronting those communities living close to the Border and we will pursue every opportunity for the enhancement of cross-Border co-operation in the economic and social sectors.

The second major challenge facing us is our relationship with the European Community. On 18 June, the people of Ireland will make a fundamental choice about our future in Europe when they vote in the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. I am conscious that the great majority of Deputies share the government's conviction that the people should be encouraged to vote "yes", and have demonstrated this by actively campaigning for this result.

The Government naturally shared in the very widespread disappointment at the outcome of the Danish referendum earlier this week. Yesterday I attended a meeting of Community Foreign Ministers in Oslo to consider the various problems resulting from the Danish vote. The unanimous conclusion of that meeting was that the other 11 member states should proceed with the ratification of the Treaty despite the Danish decision. The other member states saw no need to deprive their electorates, in the case of Ireland and France, or their legislatures of the opportunity to consider the new Treaty.

While showing full understanding of the democratic decision of the Danish people, the Eleven are determined to adhere to the ratification process as scheduled. The Government have concluded that we must press ahead with our arrangements for the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in our referendum on 18 June. I am fully confident that the Irish people will approve this further important stage in European integration and vote "yes" in our referendum by a large majority, undeterred by the experience of another member state for which the circumstances and the issues are of an entirely different order to ours.

Nearly 20 years ago, the people of Ireland by an overwhelming majority chose to become members of a European Community committed to creating a more prosperous future for all the people of Europe in a framework of ever-closer integration. Successive Governments have done their best to see that Ireland brought its own contribution, informed by our particular history and culture, to the process of European construction. While the process of adjustment to membership has not been painless, there is little doubt that the Irish people have benefited enormously from Community membership.

Over the past 20 years, Ireland has changed from having a closed, protectionist economy to an extremely open one. The principal engine driving this has been our membership of the European Community. Membership has allowed Ireland to attract industry to establish itself here. It has also created the conditions whereby we have developed a substantial export-based industry with the benefits this brings. The Common Agricultural Policy has brought huge benefits to Irish farmers and the major reform package recently adopted means that it will continue to provide a suitable framework for the future development of our agriculture and food industry.

The Community provides a vital market for our exports; it also provides crucial support for our economic development programmes. The cohesion proposals in the Delors package envisage a very considerable increase in the Structural Funds, in particular for the Objective 1 regions, which includes the whole of Ireland. In addition, a new Cohesion Fund was agreed at Maastricht for the benefit of environment and transport infrastructure measures in the four least prosperous member states, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece. Apart from the actual amounts involved, Maastricht saw agreement on the more flexible operation of these funds which is of great importance to us.

Membership of the European Community has also given us an opportunity to participate with our partners in the formulation of common policies on important international issues, through the process of European political co-operation. Under the terms of the Maastricht Treaty, the Common Foreign and Security Policy will become one of the three pillars of the European Union.

The purpose of the Common Foreign and Security Policy is to strengthen the ability of the European Union to co-operate and act on international issues. Events in recent years such as the changes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the crisis in Yugoslavia and the Middle East peace negotiations have shown the need for the European Community to play a fuller and more coherent part in international affairs. Other countries are looking to the Community for assistance on such matters as the promotion of peace, human rights and development. The provisions of foreign and security policy will enable the union to do this.

The provisions of the Maastricht Treaty on the Common Foreign and Security policy do not establish a common defence policy or a common defence for the union. Neither do they establish a military alliance or require Ireland to join one. The Treaty specifically recognises that the policy of the union will not prejudice the specific character of Ireland's security and defence policies.

The Treaty provisions foresee future negotiations on the eventual framing of a common defence policy. But discussions and decisions on the scope and content of a common defence policy are left to that future negotiation and to another Intergovernmental Conference in 1996. The outsome of any future negotiations would require unanimous agreement of all member states including Ireland. Moreover, the Irish people will be consulted and will have an opportunity to say "yes" or "no" to any future treaty establishing a common defence policy or common defence for the union —vide the decision in the Crotty case.

When matters having defence implications arise, these may be referred by unanimity to the Western European Union for elaboration and implementation. Because the Western European Union can be so requested by the European Union to elaborate and implement issues with defence implications, the Government believe that there would be advantages in Ireland's attending meetings of the Western European Union as an observer, as we did last year in relation to the crisis in Yugoslavia. Attendance as an observer would not require Ireland to join the Western European Union, to take up an obligations under the Western European Union, or to subscribe to Western European Union policies.

I believe that, far from being any way hesitant, we should look at the CFSP as giving Ireland a rich and valuable opportunity to play a full and constructive part in the formulation of EC policies which, more than ever, have a significant impact on the international stage. It will allow us to promote values, concerns and priorities which are important for us in Ireland.

One of the most heartening results of the end of cold-war rivalries has been the impetus given to the work of the United Nations. Ireland's long standing commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN remains firm. We welcome the renewed vigour and effectiveness of the organisation, which stems from greater international recognition of their full potential. Global action is needed to preserve international peace, maintain the rule of international law, promote respect for fundamental human rights, protect the environment and combat hunger and disease in the world. The United Nations provides an irreplacable framework for the common efforts of mankind in these and other areas.

The UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlight the importance of fundamental human rights and the dignity of each human being. We will continue to work within the Commission on Human Rights to highlight violations and to encourage wider acceptance and implementation of fundamental instruments designed to promote universal human rights. We are participating actively in the current preparations for the World Conference on Human Rights to take place in mid-1993 — the first occasion since 1968 on which Governments will gather at ministerial level to discuss human rights issues. We consider that the conference should reaffirm the universality and indivisability of fundamental human rights, should suggest improvements in the mechanisms to promote these rights and should examine the link between human rights, responsible government and sustainable development.

At the European level, Ireland and our partners in the Community keep under close and regular scrutiny the human rights situation in specific countries and regions. There is a growing understanding and appreciation of the active role of the Community and its member states in monitoring observance of human rights, in condemning gross violations wherever and whenever they occur and in promoting universal adherence to these basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. In the context of the Conference on Security and Co-operation (CSCS), the development of effective mechanisms to ensure greater recognition of the human dimension is under way.

With the ending of the Cold War era, the protection and promotion of human rights, often inhibited in the past by the ideological divide, is rapidly assuming its pre-eminent place on the international political agenda. Ireland has a long tradition, in the United Nations and in its bilateral relations, of concern for the dignity and worth of the individual. We will continue to treat human rights issues as a central part of our foreign policy and I will make that a major plank in my platform as long as I remain Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The creation of peace-keeping and observer forces is another of the critically important activities undertaken by the United Nations. Ireland has a long and proud record of involvement in UN peace-keeping. The men and women of the Defence Forces and of the Garda Síochána have made an outstanding contribution to peace-keeping operations over many years. In the past year, we have contributed personnel to two new missions, those in Yugoslavia and Cambodia, and for the first time to the United Nations mission in Angola.

Much of the resources of the Department of Foreign Affairs at home and abroad are devoted to our participation in the European Community and in international organisations. However, there remain significant areas of activity which will have a primarily bilateral focus for the foreseeable future. Protection of the welfare of our citizens abroad, especially of our recent emigrants, remains a key concern of my Department and of our missions abroad. I have charged the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs specifically with responsibility for the cause and care of emigrants wherever they are. In the United States and Britain in particular our missions play a major role in helping to co-ordinate the activities of the various voluntary bodies and in offering practical assistance, especially to newly arrived Irish emigrants.

I cannot express my appreciation in deeper terms than to say that since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs I have met with many emigrant organisations in the United States and particularly in the United Kingdom. All these organisations are based on the voluntary ideal. The people in those organisations cannot be thanked deeply enough and long enough on behalf of this nation. I place on record my deep appreciation of all those voluntary organisations who in one way or other assist our emigrants, whether in the United States, the United Kingdom or else where. They are the unsung heroes of this country who do not receive sufficient praise from us.

I have already mentioned the vital importance of exports to our national economy. I would like to emphasise my strong commitment to further strengthening the role of the Department in the foreign earnings area in order to more effectively contribute to the Government's economic policy, including in the area of job creation. I am particularly anxious that all our diplomats should play the fullest possible role in promoting trade and investment and I would like to encourage a greater awareness of the Department and our missions abroad as a resource to be used by Irish exporters.

The plight of the many in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world who are the helpless victims of drought and civil strife evokes a deep response from the Irish people. Their generous contributions to organisations involved in assisting the Third World are evidence of this. It is the Government's duty to reflect this public concern, both directly through their ODA programme and indirectly through the stance they adopt in the EC and other fora when the interests of developing countries are in question.

This year, total ODA will amount to almost £43 million or 0.17 per cent of GNP — £22.48 million will come from the Vote for International Co-operation, the balance from other departmental Votes and from the central fund. As in past years, the bulk of our bilateral aid will go to our four priority countries: Lesotho, Tanzania, Zambia and Sudan. Multilateral aid amounting to over £27 million will be channelled through the European Community and other international agencies.

Our programme of assistance to developing countries is an important part of the Department's activities. Through it, we give official recognition to our duty of solidarity with countries that are struggling to provide for the most basic needs of their peoples. I know that there is widespread support in the House for this effort and for the Government's commitment to undertake a planned programme of increases in our official development assistance leading to a higher ODA/GNP ratio by the end of 1944.

There are major challenges facing us on this island and in our relations with Europe. Without underestimating the difficulties, we must pursue the opportunities that exist for bringing reconciliation to all the people of this island and for providing a secure and prosperous future for them. We must also contribute towards a world order in which the cries of the weak for basic justice and human rights are heeded and the resources of the planet are used wisely for the benefit of all mankind and for future generations.

I would like to start by apologising to the Minister for the unavoidable absence of Deputy Jim O'Keeffe, our senior spokesman on Foreign Affairs, who is ill. I trust that he will be adequately served in this House by me as deputy spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.

The Deputy very kindly apologised for his absence. I have no doubt that he will be adequately served by Deputy Owen.

I welcome the reference in the Minister's speech to the formation of the Foreign Affairs Committee which is long overdue. I know that the Minister's interest in this matter has eventually unlodged the log-jam that existed in the formation of this committee. We hope that it will be operating effectively very soon. Like the Minister, I will concentrate my remarks on a couple of areas because time is short. The eyes of Europe will be on Ireland on 18 June next. It will be an historic day for this country and, indeed, for the whole of Europe. The people will then have an opportunity to give a clear lead to the rest of Europe on the Maastricht Treaty. We will also have the opportunity to lead the rescue from the confusion following the result of the Danish referendum and to provide a sense of renewed direction towards European Union. Ireland should and will be able to restore the impetus which has been lost since Wednesday because of the Danish result. By showing that we are proud to be Irish in Europe we will be able to play a leading role in the welding of the Europe of tomorrow. I offer the Minister my good wishes for his continuing courage when he goes to represent Ireland in the discussions that will take place.

I have the greatest respect for the intelligence of the Irish electorate. The people will not be side-tracked by either hysterical or well-meaning but emotional and often inaccurate interpretations of what is in the Treaty. They will make a calm and balanced judgement on the merits and demerits of the Treaty and European Union. As one speaker said at a meeting I attended recently, it may not be the Treaty each individual might have negotiated for himself but it is the Treaty that has come out from long and careful negotiations. On the balance of advantage people will vote for it.

In 1972, 83 per cent of our people recognised that our place was in Europe. This decision was further endorsed in 1987 by the vote on the SEA by a margin of over two to one. The evergreen opponents of Europe were heard in 1972 and again in 1987 and they are now attempting to seize on the Danish referendum decision as a reason to reinforce their cause against Europe. Triumphalism does not have any place in the debate and no matter how well-meaning people are they should not engage in triumphalism. To use the Danish decision to reinforce the "no" vote argument would be like using the example of a man walking across O'Connell Bridge and seeing somebody jump into the Liffey and therefore concluding that the next person should do the same. We must carefully re-evaluate where Ireland stands and vote for the Treaty.

Effectively, Denmark has decided to separate itself from the other 11 member states who signed the Maastricht Treaty. They have also decided to separate themselves from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland and the other countries that are queueing up to join the European Community and European Union. All sane voices will counsel that we follow the lead given by Deputy John Bruton on Wednesday night after the Danish result and renew our commitment to Europe. I am glad that the Government, following some initial indecision and uncertainty, followed the lead given by Deputy John Bruton and resoundingly recommitted Ireland to the Treaty. We now have the opportunity to say "yes" in the referendum and to give European Union the kind of endorsement that will reverberate throughout Europe and give the kiss of life that has been slightly shattered by the vote in Denmark, to European Union.

In 1986 the Danes had problems with the SEA. In that case in the parliament it was initially rejected. Following a request for renegotiation which was refused, the Act was subsequently passed by the parliament and two-thirds of the people. I have, perhaps vague hopes, that something similar will happen in this case. If there is political will in Europe we can assist the Danes in overcoming their problems with the Treaty. Undoubtedly, we have feelings of friendship and solidarity with the Danes and we would not like to see them in a political or economic backwater, while at the same time it must be made clear to the people of Denmark that they will not be allowed to halt the progression of European integration.

Our Government must be absolutely clear on where we stand on this issue in Europe. I am disappointed that so far the Taoiseach has not taken up the suggestion of Deputy John Bruton with regard to convening a summit meeting as quickly as possible. Let Ireland show its stength on this issue and let us take some lead. A summit meeting would provide the stabilising influence for a clear political direction which is needed in Europe. In the absence of such a summit meeting the stabilising influence and clear political direction will have to be provided by the people of Ireland on June 18.

The real issue facing Iraland is whether we want to keep pace with and continue as part of the development of European Union or to isolate our country in a European limbo where we can self-righteously proclaim our independent position while at the same time continuing to look for financial aids and other benefits of membership. Self-respect alone should preclude us from doing this, but this seems to be what the people urging a "no" vote are in effect asking the country to do — to continue to take what we can from Europe without taking our full place there. We now have the opportunity to wrap the European mantle around us in a way that was not dreamt of prior to the Danish result.

Some would argue that a "no" vote would result in the loss of some of our sovereighty. It would be better to say that we would pool our sovereignty. Some legislation will be imposed by European Laws, but that may not be any harm. If we want to be part of Europe we must play our part there and obey the rules which the Twelve together negotiate. We will not lose our sovereignty. I know we are an intensly independent country, having fought for 800 years to get our independence, but it is not correct to say that we will lose that independent voice if we continue with European Union.

Through the EC we have a voice in decisions at international level. The best example is the GATT negotiations which are of huge importance to us, especially to our farmers. I support the GATT process and hope that the Uruguay round can be brought to a successful conclusion. We have special concerns particularly on the agricultural chapter because here, 14 per cent of our population live on farms as opposed to 3 per cent in Europe as a whole and a mere 1 per cent in America. Similarly, our effective economic sovereignty will be enhanced through economic and monetary union which is one of the central parts of the new Treaty. European Monetary Union offers the prospect of economic growth and increased employment for Europe and Ireland. Since we export 75 per cent of what we produce to the EC, the economic growth of the Community is of vital importance to us. Our membership of the EC has helped to decrease our dependency on the UK. Before we joined, 65 per cent of our trade was with the UK. Now only about 30 per cent is there. We are not now as hidebound by what happens in the UK.

The goal of European Monetary Union is increased growth, lower inflation and interest rates. Given our large national debt, lower interest rates will assist us in reducing that debt which is a milestone around the neck of the economy preventing the release of resources for job creation.

At the end of the day, in considering our decision on the Maastricht Treaty the effect on jobs and job creation must be a primary consideration. While Europe will not solve our jobs crisis in the context of Europe and in the context of guaranteed access to the largest market in the world and supports available to us as a member, we have some hopes of coming to terms with the jobs crisis.

If there is a temptation to follow the Danish decision we should realise that this would leave Ireland in a worse political and economic situation than Denmark is now facing, because the economy in Denmark is stronger than ours. If we follow that course we will have utterly failed those who are without jobs and will leave them in a hopeless situation. Many of those who have jobs will risk losing them because of the transfer of production facilities and investment, perhaps to Europe. Many investors are now coming into Europe and opening factories as a door into the mainland and the markets of the 320 million people in Europe. If Ireland puts itself on the outside of that investment many jobs will be lost to this country.

Clinging to an outdated version of our sovereignty will bring cold comfort to those without jobs. Those urging a "no" vote have not addressed this. A "no" vote would be failing our many thousands of young people who would see no future for themselves here.

A common complaint I have heard is that people are confused about the content of the Maastricht Treaty. I am not surprised. I lay the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of the Government. It is ridiculous that this negotiation was conducted for over a year and a half without any detailed debates in this House. During that time our requests for a foreign affairs committee were rejected and there was no White Paper, which should have been issued last year.

The Irish Protocol which has led to so many problems was afait accompli even before Deputies knew of its existence. The preoccupation of the debate with this Protocol and the issue of abortion — an issue which we must resolve ourselves — has diverted public attention from the many significant issues in the Treaty. I have attended many public meetings around Dublin and I have been amazed at the standard of the debate and the thirst for knowledge about this Treaty. The pity is that these meetings were not going on six months ago in order to give people a chance to understand and tease out what is going on. We are now in the final run up to the vote on 18 June. Those of us who are committed to the European ideal must work even harder to ensure that the referendum is successful.

If European Union comes to fruition both parts of Ireland will ultimately be contiguous regions in a united Europe. This opens up many possibilities for a solution to our historical problems in this island. My party Leader, Deputy Bruton, spoke warmly and courageously about this yesterday. A key to progress in the past decade has been the realisation that the problem of Northern Ireland has to be viewed in the context of three sets of relationships — those within Northern Ireland, North-South and between the Irish and British Governments. This was recognised in the Anglo-Irish Agreement and is currently recognised in the talks process.

For the coming years we will see in the Maastricht Treaty a further key to progress. European Union introduces a fourth relationship which is an important addition to the other three. Because of European Union internal borders are tumbling. European Union will bring all the people of this island together in a shared European citizenship. An integral part of European Union involves diversity of culture and identify being not just tolerated but actively valued and encouraged. In relation to Northern Ireland, this is a most open and fertile scenario which can over time help to develop the tolerance and respect which are the integral components of a Northern Ireland solution.

The completion of the Single Market will confirm the recent study on North-South economic development. It will open up enormous possibilities for manufacturers North and South, with the potential for £3 billion worth of extra business and, perhaps, 75,000 extra jobs on the island as a whole. On the other hand, assuming the Maastricht Treaty were approved by the House of Commons in London and rejected in Ireland, it would mean that the two parts of Ireland would be in different categories of EC membership and this would turn the Border once again into a major political and economic frontier.

Irish history is the history of all people who have lived on this island. Our future involves the reconciliation of all our people, leading to a union of people rather than of territory.

In this situation, our best approach is to give total support to the current talks. Everything we can do of a positive nature to encourage the success of these talks must be done. I appreciate the confidential nature of these talks and I will not comment in any detail other than to make a point which I consider to be of major relevance. The burden of responsibility on those involved in the present negotiations is very heavy indeed. I genuinely and sincerely hope that all those involved will have the courage to succeed.

If we learn anything from history, it is that there can be no solution without compromise. More importantly, we can also learn from history that the really courageous are those who are prepared to engage in realistic negotiations in a genuine effort to find a solution rather than those who remain imprisoned in an ideological straitjacket.

I am disappointed that the Minister did not use the opportunity in the preparation of his first Estimates to give a commitment to increase overseas aid budget. In the European Union there is a philosophy which is not selfish or inward looking. Europe is prepared to play its part in the search for peace. This Government's approach is not good enough. The Minister stated that we are at one in trying to help the millions suffering in Africa and elsewhere, but not enough is being done. Is the Minister aware that over 25 million people are threatened with imminent starvation? We cannot sit back and allow that to continue. Part of the reason is the huge debt burden on many of the poorest countries in Africa. The total debt of the 23 low income countries in Africa is 106 per cent of the total value of the goods and services produced by them in 1989, the latest year for which figures are available to me. This was by far the hightest debt to GNP ratio of any major grouping of debtor nations. This burden of debt is stopping those countries from developing their resources and feeding their people. We cannot let that continue. I hope the Minister is playing a vital role in mobilising food and other resources for these countries.

The Minister might examine the reasons Ireland has not completed the process to ratify the UN Convention on Children. The former Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, went to the UN in 1990, with great fanfare and publicity, to sign the indication that Ireland would ratify this Convention. To date it has not been ratified. The real sufferers in the Third World are children, 40,000 of whom die every day from diseases such as whooping cough, measles and diarrhoea. I know the Minister is deeply concerned about this. I hope he will use the opportunity given to him in his "new manifestation" to put his fine words into practice and that he will give the Minister of State every opportunity to increase the overseas aid budget in coming years so that we can hold our heads high on the European stage in seeking the necessary resources for the development of the Third World. It is notable that many side meetings at the Rio Conference are attempting to get world leaders to recognise that talk will not feed many millions.

Our spokesman on Foreign Affairs is unavoidably absent and sends his apologies. The Labour Party are anxious to see the establishment of a Foreign Affairs Committee as soon as possible. Recent events have illustrated the urgent need for a proper system of debate and consultation in Dáil Éireann. The Maastricht Treaty was developed in secret. There has been no proper debate in this House or in the country in relation to it. When States are moving towards such momentous decisions as the Maastricht Treaty contains, if we are serious about the principle of subsidiarity, consensus should be developed in a way that provides for the widest possible consultation and involvement. I would go as far as to say that any future treaties in the Community should involve referenda in all member states so that the people of Europe build the union rather than the politicians and officials of the day.

The Protocol which relates to Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution was inserted without the knowledge of this House and the people. We are all aware of the continuing problems, which will not be solved before November.

My colleague, Deputy Michael D. Higgins, was the original campaigner for the establishment of a foreign affairs committee. He has been very encouraged by the Government's favourable response and welcomes the proposal by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to establish such a committee. Deputy Higgins has highlighted over many years the very valuable contributions a committee of this kind can make to our foreign policy. It will involve all the Members of the Oireachtas in foreign policy-making, engage the public interest and enhance the accountability of Irish foreign policy. The establishment of this committee will also bring Ireland in line with its European partners, who already have a highly developed foreign policy committee process in their national parliaments.

It is important to remember that the Foreign Affairs Committee will be able to continue their work even when the Dáil is not in session, thereby ensuring that an Irish viewpoint will evolve in these times of rapid international developments. The committee will engage themselves in such international issues as the needed task of shifting resources from disarmament to the neglected policy of development aid, regional conflict, and issues before the United Nations. It will give Ireland the opportunity to develop and stamp its very individual foreign policy on international affairs.

It is imperative that this committee must be totally separate from the Joint Committee on Secondary Legislation of the European Communities which itself should become a European Affairs Committee. In order for both committees to operate effectively, it is imperative that they receive adequate staff, strong terms of reference, and proper research and back-up facilities. The Labour Party maintain that this committee's terms of reference should allow for the involvement and participation of non-governmental organisations and other interested parties.

This Government have continued to renege on their commitment to Official Development Aid to Third World countries. What are we, as a nation, doing to get on course with the UN target of 0.70 per cent of GNP? Earlier, the Minister informed us that we will provide 0.17 per cent of GNP in the current year.

It is clear from the Estimates before the House today that the Government have no intention of even attempting to reach the UN target. The Estimates appear to contradict the promise made in the revised Programme for Government of planned increases in ODA, 1992 to 1994, so as to achieve a higher ODA-GNP contribution by the end of that period. The Estimates today will do nothing to lift Ireland from the bottom of the league of official aid donors.

As I have already said, the Government have made a commitment to undertake a planned programme of increases in Ireland's official development aid in the next two years so as to achieve a higher ODA-GNP contribution by the end of 1994. This commitment appears to be another Government aspiration rather than Government policy.

The present Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, spoke of wanting to see Ireland pay its way towards alleviating poverty, famine and disease in the Third World, stating that "as a Government, we have not been giving as much as we might have been ... our own problems at home do not absolve us from contributing to the betterment of humanity as a whole". The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, has had ample opportunity to demonstrate his commitment towards the poor of the Third World, particularly in the face of the new and worsening famine facing Africa.

The worst drought in 50 years is threatening 23 million people with starvation in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa. The situation is critical in a host of African countries. It is imperative that the world community responds immediately to the crisis with substantial food aid. There is every likelihood that millions of people will die of starvation in the coming months in the affected countries. Ireland must respond to this cry for help — by restoring our ODA to at least its 1986 level of 0.25 per cent, with subsequent annual increases every year thereafter, sufficient to attain the 0.70 per cent GNP, the UN target by the year 2000.

The Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat Coalition was responsible for the shameful abolition of the Advisory Council on Development Co-operation late last year. This organisation played an important role in advising the Government on aid to developing countries, and kept vital contact with aid workers in the field. This organisation consisted of 19 members who were all volunteers. They had the services of an executive secretary who doubled as an administrator and researcher; the total cost of the council was £84,000 a year.

The advice which the council offered was the only independent advice as to why and how the State's contribution should be spent. They were also among the most informed critics of the increasing meanness of this Government's contribution which has never reached even half of the UN target. This is a record which flies in the face of official posturing and the public's generous responses to the appeals of voluntary or non-governmental agencies. Political leaders often claim affinity with other post-colonial states; Ministers and officials are constantly reminding the European Community's most powerful states of their obligations to the EC's less prosperous members; our former Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, was among the world's leaders who endorsed the UN pledge on children: "to build a world that will guard the precious resources of the human race".

If we examine the balance sheet on human development in the developing countries the scale of the problem faced by the world community becomes very clear. Some 10 million children and young adults and 14 million others die each year, most from preventable diseases; 1.5 billion people still lack basic health care; over 1.5 million people do not have safe water and over 2 billion lack safe sanitation; one-fifth of the population still go hungry every day; over 1 billion adults are still illiterate, and 300 million children are not in primary or secondary schools. More than a billion people still live in absolute poverty. Income per head has declined over the last decade in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 14 million children die each year before reaching their fifth birthday, 180 million children under the age of five years suffer from serious malnutrition. Half of rural women over the age of 15 years are illiterate. Women are often denied the right to decide whether or when to have children. Half a million women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Women are often effectively denied the right to own, inherit or control property. Only 44 per cent of the rural population have access to basic health care. There are 2.4 people per habitable room, three times the average in the north or in the southern part of the world. One in five urban dwellers live in the nation's largest cities. The problem is huge and expansive. There is no time to wait. The time for our contribution is now. As our spokesman has always said in this House, we need to move down the road of reaching the UN target by making a worthwhile contribution to the terrible problems which face this planet rather than paying lip service and making a meagre contribution.

President Robinson, during her tour of the US last year, spoke of the world's poor as invisible people whose fate is in the hands of others — leaders of the developed world. Ireland is among the developed States; its income per head is 34 times that of other countries — the invisible people — to whom it gives aid as a priority. These four countries were mentioned by the Minister. It is a contrast to which the advisory council has occasionally drawn attention.

The Government, when pushed in this House on the reasons for the Council's abolition, stated that the decision to abolish the council was taken in the context of the need to find savings in all areas of public expenditure. In the face of the list of deprivation which I have presented to the House this seems an extraordinary and mean-minded decision. Ireland should play a greater role in world affairs. Issues such as security must be defined and broadened to include not only European interests but global interests. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the North-South contrast will dominate world politics over the next several decades. The Western world cannot continue to ignore the deprivation that exists in Third World countries. The whole area of aid, trade and debt have to be reconstructed to let the population of the planet live.

At the conference in Rio on Environment and Development, Ireland should distance itself from the US position that has blocked conventions on carbon dioxide emissions, the ozone layer, deforestation, indigenous people and, above all, controlling the polluting multinationals.

Ireland can play a unique role in ensuring a more equitable role for developing nations. However, this can only come about with the right will and commitment from the Government, and the Government appear to be devoid of that will.

In the week that is in it, Maastricht obviously dominates the foreign affairs agenda. There is great confusion this week because of the decision of the Danish people to reject the Maastricht Treaty. There has been a great deal of emphasis on the differences between Ireland and Denmark. However, I believe we should emphasise the similarities that exist. We are both small countries on the periphery of Europe and we are both independent and democratic states. It should not be forgotten that Denmark has proved to be an important ally to Ireland in the past during contentious European debates. We may not agree with their decision but it is a decision that was democratically arrived at. If roles were reversed and Ireland had opted not to ratify the Maastricht Treaty we would have looked to countries such as Denmark to help find a way of accommodating us in the position we found ourselves in.

The Labour Party remain committed to the principle of European Union. We realise that European Union provides potential and we see our role are as working to ensure that jobs and rights are brought to the top of the European agenda. We see European Union and integration as a means to bring about greater prosperity. However, greater prosperity is, in itself, not enough. It must go hand in hand with fairer distribution particularly in relation to the regions and communities of Europe. Europe must bring employment to the top of its agenda. That is the position the Labour Party will continue to pursue.

The Government's refusal to postpone the referendum, which is to take place on 18 June amid the basic lack of clarity and confusion of the moment, has put the people of Ireland in an extremely difficult position. We must ask ourselves whether a "yes" vote on 18 June will have much more real effect than simply stating our commitment to European Union and ratifying the Treaty on another day. Can the Maastricht Treaty come into full effect on 1 January 1993? Can the Cohesion Fund, and the increased Structural Funds, be guaranteed? I believe we have no choice other than to vote "yes" on 18 June. A "no" vote by Ireland will only add to what is already a major crisis.

In conclusion, let me refer to neutrality which is of great concern to the Labour Party. The Labour Party look to increased union in the years ahead and certainly post-1996 when the next Intergovernmental Conference is to take place. We look to the countries that wish to join the European Union such as Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland which are all neutral countries. We see it as in the interests of Ireland that a neutral bloc would develop inside the Community and our vision of neutrality would become part of a more influential development inside the Community. We take the point that the veto which exists will protect us and that we may or may not be voting post-1996 for a common defence policy.

The Confusion about the Maastricht Treaty has been caused by the Government's decision to go ahead on 18 June when there is the possibility of postponing the referendum until such time as the whole position will have become clear. Now that we are faced with the holding of the referendum we cannot do other than support a "yes" vote. Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated greatly in recent days and we await clarification from the Minister on what is the exact status of the Treaty and how and when it can be finally ratified.

On a point of order, is it possible, if there are not sufficient speakers, to extend the time of any speaker by about five minutes, with the agreement of the Members in the House?

Could it be done with the agreement of the Members present?

Acting Chairman

That will be clarified later.

Not too much later, I hope.

If the information comes while the next Member is speaking will you indicate it?

Acting Chairman

I am obliged now, as there is no Government speaker present, to call on Deputy Garret FitzGerald.

On a point of order, in relation to that the normal procedure is that after the next Government speaker a Democratic Left speaker would be called, but I am quite happy to give way.

Acting Chairman

I must correct the Deputy. The recent amendment of Standing Order 89 means that only Fine Gael and Labour enjoy the standing of a group. According to the Standing Order all Opposition speakers have the status of independent Deputies who, in accordance with precedent, are not called on in the initial round of party spokespersons. The Chair endeavours to give fair representation to all. I have a sequence of speakers which I do not want to go through. I am obliged now to call Deputy Garret FitzGerald.

In relation to that, the normal practice, as I have experienced it for some time, is that after the Government, Fine Gael and Labour speakers, a speaker from my party is called after the first subsequent Government speaker. In other words, a spokesman from my party is the fifth to be called.

Acting Chairman

I notice now the situation has changed because a Government speaker has offered.

I was called.

Deputy FitzGerald was called. The Chair must allow him in.

(Interruptions.)

But the Deputy was not here when Deputy FitzGerald was called.

We were when Deputies opposite were arguing about it.

No, Deputy FitzGerald had already been called by the Chair.

I had been called at that time.

Acting Chairman

At the time Deputy O'Shea sat down there was no Government speaker present. I want to be fair. I called Deputy FitzGerald.

Thank you very much. I am glad there are speakers on the other side of the House in this debate. I am very happy to be facing the Minister on this subject. He may recall that more than 20 years ago when he was Government Chief Whip he approached me to ask me whether I would speak in an Adjournment Debate in this House before Christmas on the European Community and our approaching membership. I said that I would have a lot to say against the Government of the time but that perhaps at the end of my contribution I would be able to say something. With some assistance from him, I was able to continue on that occasion and to speak about the EC. I hope that the Minister has the same happy memories of that close collaboration on the question of joining the Community as I have.

I regret that this is a restricted debate. There are many issues related to foreign affairs that I should like to raise, including, of course, Northern Ireland. I shall confine myself to one issue, the presentation in the next fortnight of the case for continued membership of the Community. There are arguments that need to be made but have not been made. I appeal to the Minister and his party to address the subject from a broader base than they have done heretofore.

I shall leave aside the damage done by the introduction of the totally irrelevant abortion issue into the debate by the Protocol, which has created two fresh "anti" lobbies in the debate on membership.

On the issue of neutrality, the Government are being absolutely defensive. The Minister's speech was itself utterly defensive. The crucial fact is that if the Treaty is ratified we will have the opportunity in the next couple of years to make an input into the future evolution of a possible defence policy, which we can decide upon — for or against — in due course. We could not make that input without ratification of the Treaty. There are like-minded countries within the Community and there are other countries seeking to join the Community that will also make an input into that debate. If we are allowed by our people by way of referendum, I should hope that between us we could help to transform and modify fundamentally the present approaches of some European states to defence issues and work towards the reshaping of the European defence concept into something to be carried out as a regional function of the United Nations, something devoted to peacemaking, peacekeeping, non-proliferation and disarmament. Agreement in the referendum would give us an opportunity to make that input together with others who share similar views. This is the positive issue — the chance for the first time to be able to make such a contribution without committing ourselves until we know the result of that debate. The point that has been missed in the discussion to date is that there is no commitment in the Treaty to defence but rather an opportunity is provided to contribute positively to the debate on defence. I should like the Minister and others to present the case to the people in those terms.

In this contribution I wish to concentrate mainly on the economic side of the debate on ratification. I hope that in the next fortnight we will not waste too much time talking about the hoped-for £6 billion in Structural Funds. At the meetings I have attended that aspect has emerged as a very negative factor — a kind of bribe to the Irish people, and one that does not convince people. That is a negative approach and it is a great mistake. I am not denouncing or decrying those funds, they are important. At present Ireland gets £3 billion over five years. There is a possibility of increasing that funding by a further £3 billion but realistically, we should not pretend that a doubling of the funds is certain, because it is not. It may not happen because the Commission request may not be fully met by member governments, and even if it were, the exceptionally highper capita grants we now get may not be maintained in the second £3 billion. We cannot therefore assume that a full doubling of the funds to Ireland will take place. The only completely new element is the Cohesion Fund, which is no more than £500,000 to £750,000.

We should not exaggerate the issue of funding because by exaggerating the case one would only hand ammunition to those who oppose ratification. Funding is not the crucial issue. It is helpful; for example, if Ireland were to get £2 billion extra that could, as extrapolation from the calculations of the Economic and Social Research Institute shows, add some 1.8 per cent to our GNP by the year 2000. That is not to be sneezed at and I am all for it. However, it is not the crucial issue.

Today I should like to put the real case, which has not yet been put and which we have less than two weeks left to put. The real issue is the impact — positive if we join and negative if we say "No"— on Irish economic development arising from the opportunity provided by ratification of the Treaty to release a capacity for growth that this country has and about which nothing has been said in this House so far, for reasons I cannot fathom. That capacity for growth is held up at present by virtue of our artificially high level of interest rates. I think the Minister would not disagree with me in my suggestion at Irish interest rates today are some 3 per cent higher than they need to be by virtue of the fact that, in the absense of Economic and Monetary Union, we are tied to following German policy, policy paying for reunification without raising taxes that has pushed up interest rates in Germany and also dragged them up in Ireland. A 3 per cent higher than necessary rate of interest rates is very negative indeed for a country with Ireland's level of unemployment.

There is no single element in the economic scene more vital to economic growth than that of interest rates. The ESRI report on the role of the Structural Funds predicts what would happen if domestic real interest rates fell by between 1 per cent and 2 per cent due to European Monetary Union. At this stage, I believe that European Monetary Union could result in a decrease of twice that amount, and I do not think the Minister would contradict me on that. It is predicted that the biggest impact would be in public finances; a reduction in borrowing and debt would allow for a substantial reduction in taxation or an increase in spending in the medium term. By sharing the benefits of the reduction in the public finance constraint with the private sector in that way a major increase of 10 to 15 per cent in industrial output would result in the long run. With the current 3 per cent margin, the result could well be double that.

That opportunity is available to Ireland at present if we go through with European Monetary Union and get the right policies operating; not policies that are operated by one country for its benefit but policies followed in the interests of Europe as a whole. Our interests rates would not then be held up artificially because of the natural self-interest attitudes of particular countries. The Treaty came about because of the idea of European Monetary Union and the possible benefits that it would bring. Everything else in the Treaty is contingent on that objective and derives from it. However, that case has not yet been made.

What is the other side of the argument? In the few moments remaining to me I should like to consider what might happen if the Treaty is not ratified. I should like the Government to come clean and tell people what is contained in the Central Bank bulletin, that every penny of the £4 billion borrowed by this Government since 1987 in domestic borrowings has come from outside this State, and almost all of it from Germany. That borrowing does not involve foreign loans for fixed periods that we repay at our pace and when the time is up; it involves foreign contributions to our domestic debt. Nothing has come from this country; over that period we have subscribed nothing in net terms to the increase in domestic debt — anything that we have subscribed has been sold off again. The sum of £4 billion to which I have referred could be taken away tomorrow because at any moment those lenders, if they lost confidence in this country, in our commitment to Europe, the Maastricht Treaty and European Monetary Union, could withdraw their money.The Irish Times of today summarises Mr. Paul Tansey's study on European Monetary Union. It states:

Rejecting the treaty would make Ireland less attractive as a location for overseas investment, the study says, and would put upward pressure on interest rates. Foreign holders of Irish Government debt would reassess their portfolios. "A sharp, immediate rise in Irish interest rates might be sufficient to stem the outflow; equally it might not." This could cause severe dislocation to the economy, it says.

The report, when talking about Irish Government debt, does not mention the £4 billion, which is the figure involved. A withdrawal of £4 billion would certainly cause severe dislocation to the economy. Where would we get that kind of money? What interest rates would we have to pay in this country to get hold of that money? And on the other hand, what would we have to pay abroad in foreign borrowings to get any significant part of that money overnight? That is the kind of consequences we should be considering in relation to non-ratification of the Maastricht Treaty.

The reverse side of the coin is that if we do ratify the Treaty we will have the opportunity to get away from an artificial level of interest rates that is holding up the development of this country. That is what ratification is about. Why do the Government not say that? In all of the speeches made the hoped-for £6 billion is trotted out: that is a phoney figure; at most, the funding would be £2 billion extra. There is no mention of the real issues.

I am sorry to interrupt Deputy Dr. FitzGerald. I take the opportunity to remind him that he has one minute remaining.

In that one minute, and whatever injury time I may be allowed, I wish to draw the attention of the House to the recent ESRI report — which most of us have not received because of the postal dispute — that points out that 6 per cent growth over four to five years is now possible for this country and that the only thing holding up that growth is the level of interest rates. Growth of 6 per cent would enable the creation of an extra 30,000 jobs a year. There is hardly a mention of those extra jobs in any of the newspapers; a matter that should be headline news everywhere because of the possibilities open to this country is accorded only a tiny paragraph. That possibility exists because our balance of payments surplus is the largest in the industrialised world in relation to GDP, we have no constraints on growth and we could expand our domestic economy. If the Government had not made a mess of their budget we could do that fiscally, but that cannot be done because the past few budgets have been so badly mismanaged that there is no leeway by which taxes may be reduced.

The Deputy does it so well.

And we cannot reduce interest rates because we are tied to German interest rates. If we could get out from under the shadow and release the dynamic forces, we would enjoy the possibility of growth. It is about time the Government started to talk about the possibilities of growth, and the real issues of the Maastricht Treaty which are before this country. They should forget all of the rubbish that has been talked about so far.

I am very glad to have the opportunity of contributing to the debate on this Estimate. It is significant that I speak after my immediate predecessor as Minister for Foreign Affairs on an Estimate in regard to which he probably had a more challenging role than any previous Minister had to face. It is challenging in view of the complexities and, indeed, the opportunities; a Minister or Department can only give a direction on the basis of the commitment and feeling of the Irish people. A Government can signal to Governments in Europe and elsewhere their political will, the rest of us who have a responsibility as representatives or citizens must give our Government the opportunity of doing just that, particularly at this complex and difficult time for Europe.

As a former Minister I should like to say that the opportunity which has arisen for us in terms of the political signal to Europe and its people on 18 June is unique. Of course there is a critical situation in Europe now as a consequence of the constitutional and legal complexities arising from the Danish referendum which will not be resolved overnight. Clearly, the focus is on Ireland and it is an opportunity to signal what was rarely, if ever, in doubt — that our commitment as a proud, independent nation to cohesion among other proud, independent nations is now stronger. That is why it is very important that the signals we give on 18 June will strengthen our role in Europe. I suppose that never before did Europe look to Ireland for a reinvigoration and renewal of commitment; we all had our responsibilities at various stages in the seventies. I have been at meetings of Council of Ministers in various roles; I think I served on five councils since 1972. This is an opportunity which places a unique obligation on us and that is why — regardless of the legal, constitutional issues — we must signal to our partners in Europe that our commitment is total. Why? I agree with some of the views expressed by Deputy Garret FitzGerald; indeed I expressed them some months ago. The case is so strong for our continued involvement and even greater commitment that we should not weaken it by overstating what we do not need to overstate.

I also said that in overstating our case we would not put impossible pressure on the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I hope that the Commission will approve a significant increase in Structural Funds, approval which, incidentally, is not part of the Maastricht Treaty. It is part of the ongoing development of the Community which, of course, would be further enhanced in the European Union. However, we are dealing with 11 other member states with whom we will have to compete for a share of the funds. We should not give hostages to fortune as we can have a common cause on that issue. It would be unreasonable to expect any Minister for Foreign Affairs to deliver £6 billion from the Community within a prescribed time-scale.

The Minister has had a very constant interest in and commitment to Ireland in Europe and it is significant that he has focused on the benign and positive influence which we can have in Europe in bringing about a resolution of the problems facing us in regard to our island. I am glad the Minister is maintaining this focus. I served as Minister for Agriculture and as Minister for Finance and I always found that what we had in common at European Councils was so self-evident that the advancement of our common interests, without any political overtone or overstatements, was probably the strongest bridge we could build on this island. Nobody could object to advancing a common cause for Irish farmers, North and South, not even if they were of the deepest Unionist hue of the Ulster Farmers' Union. How could they object to advancing a common cause for regional structural developments, North and South? How could they tell their people that they did not want an increase in the social funds for people, North or South? They cannot and that kind of common purpose will be the bridge which will achieve a number of our fundamental aims at the same time; among those aims is the reconciliation and unification of our people in a European context. The risk of losing that is too awful to contemplate.

Difficulties must be faced in regard to common European currency, notably in Germany. We must acknowledge that there is a certain amount of rethinking in this regard in Germany because of their political priorities; we should not pretend that is not happening. The same applies to France. I was not enthusiastic about President Mitterrand's suggestion that they should have a referendum when they are not constitutionally required to do so. We should all act on our own constitutional obligations. However, nothing is ever fixed and immutable in regard to any political position, never mind on one island. If we are constant in our commitment, our position will be strong and respected. I accept that the legal and constitutional position as a consequence of the Danish referendum is very different now from the one which pertained one week ago and anyone who says otherwise is ignoring constitutional reality, European and otherwise. I acknowledge that if we have to take a second legal step later, not because of our lack of will but because of what has happened in Europe, we must be prepared to do so. Of course the European Union Treaty is not as binding as it would have been if the Danish referendum had gone the other way. In any event it would not have come into effect until — at the earliest — 1 January 1993. We must remember that the Treaty was built on existing treaties agreed by 12 member states and, therefore, we cannot say that we should kick the Danes out. They are part of the foundation of Europe under the existing Community and we must find a political way of accommodating them. No doubt, the Minister for Foreign Affairs was trying yesterday to find a political consensus which will enable us at a later stage to put firmly in place a treaty which the European people want.

We are not talking about economists or enterprise. The Treaty will mean nothing unless it positively enhances the lives and opportunities of individuals in all members states who are having difficulties. Mobile people who do not have a permanent place to live have a right to settle, those who do not have permanent jobs — we know about that — have a right to employment. The opportunities for Ireland in a European Union will be considerable. I am glad to say that our young people, who have unique qualifications, have adopted a European attitude and are no longer caught in a narrow Anglo-American tunnel. Like our youngsters, we are truly European. I have a 15-year old daughter in European at present and she does not consider herself to be anything other than an Irish person in Europe. Our young people will have immense opportunities in a European Union and the contribution they will make, provided we renew our commitment, could be enormous. That is the reason I am glad to have this opportunity to support the policies the Government have been pursuing during the past few critical weeks.

As this is my first opportunity to do so in the House, I would like to extend my good wishes to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on his appointment. I am particularly glad to do this given that he is a constituency colleague of mine. However, I regret that I have to be somewhat critical of him on this my first opportunity to contribute to a foreign affairs debate.

We are both professionals, Deputy, but I accept your best wishes and have no problem with what you are going to say. I am too long in the business for that.

The Minister does not know what I am about to say. I wish to refer to the position taken by the Minister yesterday at the meeting of EC Foreign Ministers in Oslo. He said the unanimous conclusion was that the other 11 member states should proceed with the ratification of the Treaty despite the decision of the Danish people. It seems since the Danish people made their decision that there is a conspiracy, involving the EC Foreign mission and the other member states, to frustrate the democratic decision of the people of Denmark. The strategy adopted by the meeting yesterday, which clearly has been endorsed by the Minister, is to ignore the legal reality that the Treaty signed at Maastricht on 7 February is now null and void. The strategy is to press ahead as if nothing had happened, to go through a phoney form of ratification in the other member states, including Ireland, and to then go back and put a political and economic gun to the heads of the Danish people and say that they should ratify or else.

Where did the Minister get his mandate from to side with President Mitterrand, Chancellor Kohl and Commission President Delors in their attempts to frustrate the democratic decision of the Danish people? Surely, the proper thing for the Minister to do, as a Minister of another small state, was to express sympathy and understanding for the position of Denmark and urge the Community to address the issues and concern behind the Danish "no" vote, especially since this State has not yet made a decision to ratify the Treaty.

It is clear that Denmark is considered to be a soft target because it is a small country. Does anyone seriously believe that if the French vote "no" in their referendum the Council of Foreign Ministers will meet two days later and decide to proceed regardless? Does anyone believe that if the French vote "no" EC diplomats will say that France will be left in a slow lane and that the others will move to the EC fast track? The Minister knows as well as I that if this were to happen all the energies of the Community would be put into an effort to find a solution to the French problems.

Following the Danish experience, I believe that many Irish people are rethinking their positions and now realise that the fundamental question involved in the Maastricht Treaty is a democratic one. If there is such little respect for the democratic expression of the view of the Danish people what hope can we have that the many new powers provided under the Maastricht Treaty for Community institutions and which are not subject to any element of democratic accountability will not be abused?

If the member states decide to go ahead with the Maastricht Treaty without Denmark it will be the end of the European ideal and raise serious questions about the rights of the smaller member states within the European Community. From the very beginning, from the signing of the Treaty of Rome, a fundamental principle of the Community was that it could only move on to the next stage of development if and when all member states agreed to the proposal. This applied equally to all states, big and small, and was an important safeguard for the interests of the smaller states.

If, as it now seems from the response to the Danish vote, this principle has been discarded then the implications for the smaller states, such as Ireland, are frightening. I am appalled at the response of the Commission and the member states to the democratic decision of the Danish people. Instead of making an attempt to address the legitimate concerns felt by the Danish people the response has been arrogant and threatening. The larger member states, especially Germany and France, have responded like imperial powers of old rather than what are supposed to be partners in a family of states. I am ashamed that our Government should be siding with the Euro-bullies rather than with the people of Denmark.

The commentators have been busy trying to convince the public that there are no similarities between the Danish situation and the Irish referendum. While there are many factors in the Danish referendum which are not issues in Ireland there are areas of common concern. The drift towards the militarisation of the Community was a major factor in the Danish vote as was the lack of any element of democratic accountability over many of the new powers provided for in the Maastricht Treaty. These will be major factors in determining the way in which Irish people will vote but there is an even greater commonality of interests between the two countries. We are both smaller member states and we should stand together to prevent the larger countries from being able to dictate the course of events in Europe.

There is an important lesson to be learned from the Danish experience. We have been told by the Taoiseach that the Irish people will be consulted again in 1996 before the Community enters into any definite defence agreement but let us suppose that Ireland ratifies the Maastricht Treaty and votes "no" to any defence arrangements in 1996 would we then face threats and intimidation similar to those now being directed at Denmark? Would we be threatened with virtual exclusion and left behind? The Danish experience would seem to suggest that we would.

The Danish experience, and its aftermath, raises serious questions about the way decisions will be made in a European Union and the contempt being shown for the opinions of ordinary citizens in the European Community. It is interesting to note that the Danish people, the only country in which a referendum has been held to date, are almost being treated as if they were wayward children for taking this decision.

Many forces are now coming together to pressurise the Irish people to vote "yes". However, it is encouraging that the Danish referendum has produced a response from citizens throughout Europe — this has been reflected in the opinion poll in Holland — in that they are now demanding that they be given a say with regard to the European Union that is to be constructed. If there is a lesson to be learned from the disintegration of super powers and the difficulties which have arisen during the past few years it is that one cannot impose political and economic structures on people without first letting them know what they will be and without giving them a say in how they will be developed.

In that context, I agree with what Deputy O'Shea said in relation to the formation of the proposed foreign affairs committee. It would be a mistake to have one committee to deal with the entire range of foreign affairs and European issues. There is a need to have two separate committees, a foreign affairs committee that will deal with the generality of foreign affairs issues and a European affairs committee.

In the limited time available I would like to make a brief comment on overseas development aid and on what the Minister had to say in regard to it. This is the second or third time there has been reference here to some kind of general commitment to increasing our level of overseas development aid by the end of 1994 but, so far, we have not seen any specifics spelled out in that respect. It is interesting to note that the level of ODA provided for in this Estimate, at 0.17 per cent of GNP, is the lowest for over ten years. For example, in 1981 it was slightly higher at 0.18 per cent, eventually rising to 0.25 per cent in 1986, and has been decreasing ever since. That is most regrettable, particularly in a week in which Heads of State meet in Rio de Janeiro in an effort to address the critical issues of development, the environment, the North-South divide. This country should be in a position now to spell out in some greater detail what exactly and how exactly it is proposed to increase the level of overseas development aid, something for which I predict there would be widespread support nationwide.

I should like to pick up where Deputy Gilmore left off in relation to overseas development aid. I might point out that this year we are giving £43 million. While that may represent only 0.17 per cent of our GNP nevertheless it is £43 million we can ill spare bearing in mind our own problems. Nonetheless we are giving it. Indeed I might point out that that does not take into account the millions of pounds Irish citizens donate out of their pockets annually to foreign aid and charities, I have often said here that probably we are one of the most generous nations on earth when it comes to giving to charitable causes. I make no apology for so saying. Of course we would all love to see the figures for overseas development aid doubled. It would be our hope that we will see the day we can afford to do so.

With all due respect to Deputy Gilmore and his party, I have to say that he is a member of a party which for years supported all the totalitarian states in Eastern Europe, all those totalitarian regimes such as the Stasi in East Germany——

Has the Deputy nothing better to do?

The fact is that they did support these regimes——

That is not the case.

The Deputy can deny it if he likes but people know it to be the truth. We know exactly where their support came from, from Stalinist regimes wherever, countries in which there was no free speech, no rights to referenda and so on.

I should first like to congratulate the Minister on his appointment. I have no doubt but that he will fill that office with distinction as have so many of his predecessors and wish him well in the difficult days ahead.

I want to congratulate the Taoiseach in particular on having maintained a cool head when all about him were losing theirs in the immediate aftermath of the Danish referendum. As he told the House, there is plenty of time for debate; there will be a day to debate it next week, after the Foreign Ministers will have met, when there will be something about which to talk. The wisdom of that approach will be seen.

I should also like to place on record that I have the utmost confidence in our electorate doing the right thing in the referendum on 18 June by voting "Yes". I am certain that the Taoiseach's chest will swell with pride at this nation when he faces the other Heads of State in Europe, showing the massive "Yes" vote by our electorate, and not merely because of the benefits to be derived, as has been said by many people. Of course, we are entitled to inform the people of the benefits of the Treaty on European Union but there is also our commitment to Europe. Throughout the history of this little nation we have made a huge contribution to Europe to which we are always very proud to refer whenever we address others worldwide. I am confident that we will continue that tradition.

As I said to somebody recently, were our electorate to vote "no" by a majority in the referendum on 18 June, it would be like all of the anti-Irish jokes ever made coming true; we would be the laughing stock of Europe. One cannot compare Denmark with Ireland. For example, by next year Denmark will have been a net contributor to the EC, whereas we are a six-to-one beneficiary of the European Community. Does anybody think for a moment that the remainder of Europe would cry tears if we said "No, we will not join you"? As I said to some university students not so long ago, the matter might remain on the table for a minute or two but then the remaining ten member states should begin discussing the Treaty that was, drawing up a new one on the same terms as the previous one, and excluding Ireland and Denmark. Denmark have taken their decision, a sad one, particularly when it was only a matter of some 50,000 votes or so.

The Labour Party in particular disappointed me in this debate. Since I became a Member of this House in 1965 I have yet to see a Leader of the Labour Party who is more cowardly than Deputy Spring in the manner in which he has treated this debate. The Labour Party purport to represent the workers of Ireland. In fact Fianna Fáil do and always have done so. However, here is a Member of this House who is aware that there are over 1,000 companies manufacturing products for export to European and other markets. Does he think for a moment that those 1,000 companies, employing in excess of 100,000 of our people will remain here? If the electorate were to vote "no" on 18 June the IDA could close their doors and go into recess, certainly after the end of this year. Who will dicuss establishing industries here if we vote "no"? While I might have expected such an attitude on the part of the new Democratic Left, as they call themselves, I should have expected more of the Labour Party and particularly of their Leader, Deputy Spring, all the more so since all of the trade unions here support a "yes" vote. I am thoroughly disappointed. While we may argue various policies and points of politics, this is something which will be absolutely fundamental to the future lives of our people.

I see nothing wrong with a union of European States. We can see what is threatening in East Europe, with wars here and there over the next ten or 15 years. God knows how many tragedies there will be in the homes of so many people. We are already witnessing the development of a huge refugee problem which will have to be dealt with by Europe.

I believe Ireland is capable of contributing to security matters affecting us all. When I say "security matters" I am thinking of matters such as drug trafficking, terrorists crossing country boundaries, racketeering or whatever, which is what the security aspect of this Treaty on European Union is about; the defence part will come later. Members of this House know that. In 1996, if we are to enter into a defence arrangement, there will be a referendum held here when I have no doubt that the same people who now scream "no", who screamed against us joining the EC in 1972, will be doing the same thing. I call them the "flat earth society".

We will be saying "Yes" in 1996.

I see nothing wrong with Ireland playing its part in a defence arrangement — that is my personal view — in that we are a sovereign nation and can decide what we want to do, which alliances we want to join; it is not being done for us; we are no longer tied to Britain. Somebody referred to the time when our ties with Britain were greater, when our currency was tied to sterling. Britain operated a cheap food policy which did not benefit this country very much. I contend the day we broke the link with sterling was one of the finest for us. We are a proud nation and can afford to be proud. From speaking to other members of the European Parliament, I know they envy the manner in which we run our country, the welfare provisions for our people, in many instances our schemes being much better than those in many other European countries. Therefore, we have nothing for which to apologise.

The question will arise continuously about defence within the European context. That matter will be put to the people when the time comes and they will decide. We have nothing of which to be afraid. As far as I am aware, Fianna Fáil have never misguided our people whether in relation to Europe or any other matter. It is my belief that the advice now being given is correct. I estimate that at least 150 of the 166 members of this House fully support a "Yes" vote on 18 June. In Denmark, although in excess of 75 per cent of the elected representatives were in favour of a "yes" vote, the people decided to vote otherwise even though they did not have access to all the information which the parliamentarians and members of Government had. I felt sorry for the Danish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister as I can appreciate how this decision will affect them. Indeed, if we made a similar decision an economic depression, like we have never seen before, would hit us. That is not a threat, it is a fact and we have a responsibility to state the facts.

I wish to stress the importance of ratifying the Maastricht Treaty. I may not have the opportunity to contribute to the debate next Tuesday so I take this opportunity to ask the people to trust me and vote "yes". I have been a Member of this House for the past 27 years and I know it is the right thing to do. The Fine Gael Party and some members of the Labour Party agree with us on the benefits that we can gain in an integrated Europe.

Since one of my constituents has indicated his anxiety to vote "yes" he will be delighted to hear that I will be voting "yes" on 18 June. I very much appreciate the support he will be giving us.

We are inclined to romanticise the importance of our role in foreign affairs. When we, a small nation, were living under the shadow of our very powerful neighbour we were inclined to have a romantic view of our own importance. By virtue of our geographic location we were dependent on our nearest neighbour and luckily they were prepared to trade with us, but they did some other things. Later, on the basis of the available information, we took a decision to join the European Community but, unfortunately, many people, including some Members of this House, still see Ireland as an outcrop on the European shelf and as a peripheral region on the continent shelf. It is fine to make the case that we need moneys from the Structural Funds because of our peripheral location but that should not become a way of life. We need to be more positive and think of ourselves as Europeans. We should demand to be given the same opportunities as other people in Europe. While we have been successful in getting moneys from the Structural Funds to develop our infrastructure we have been far too ready to accept the pay off as the next best thing to bring our standard of living up to the European average. Unfortunately this has become a way of life. We are accepted as Europeans even though this is at some considerable expense to some EC member states. We have been accepted as full Europeans capable of playing a meaningful role in Europe, a point the Minister dwelt on in his speech.

I do not wish to do anything to jeopardise the "yes" vote on 18 June and I do not wish to engage in scaremongering but from my experience over the past 11 years as a member of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the EC, and from talking to the people associated with that committee whom I had the pleasure of meeting at home and in Europe it would appear that a "no" vote would slow down the progress towards European Union. The ideals of Monet, Schuman and Adenauer would be dimmed for a period and the consequences would be worse if any other member state decided on a similar course of action because our greatest fear would be realised, the development of a two speed Europe in which we could easily find ourselves in the slow lane. That would be to the advantage of countries who have applied or wish to apply for membership of the Community and to our detriment.

I noted what the Minister said and I congratulate him on his remarks. I ask him to ensure that, in co-operation with the other parties in the House, the positive elements of our continued relationship with the European Community are stressed. I respect the views of those who have reservations; indeed, I have reservations about one aspect which I will deal with later but it is not neutrality.

I am greatly worried about the amount of misinformation on the Maastricht Treaty that has been published.

There was no foundation for it. There are claims that our sons and daughters will be conscripted and die on battlefields in Europe but this has nothing to do with the Treaty. Indeed, it is severely damaging to the referendum on 18 June. I cannot understand why massive amounts of money are being spent on publishing information that has no basis in fact. We need to look at this, but I am not suggesting that we should have a public inquiry into it. I recently saw a leaflet issued by Youth Against Maastricht which contains six or seven misleading statements which are severely damaging to the prospects for a "yes" vote. The information in this leaflet is clearly calculated to confuse young people who may not have had the opportunity to fully brief themselves on the Treaty.

I am not as optimistic as other people inside and outside this House that the "yes" vote will be carried. The reason is that diverse groups in our society are totally opposed to the Treaty for different reasons. Some reasons are genuine, others are groundless but for whatever reason they are combined in their opposition to the Treaty. However, I hope that between now and 18 June those who are committed to a "yes" vote will succeed in getting their message across a little better.

It is true to say that our unemployment level has increased because of various other changes. This is the one area where we are at variance with our European colleagues, in having the highest unemployment level. I ask the Minister to address this issue at the intergovernmental conferences. As I said, we need equal opportunities. Every man, woman and child in this country has the same right to employment as people in Germany, Holland and elsewhere. It is up to us to put the necessary machinery in place — this can be done if we use the Structural Funds properly — to bring us closer to the centre of Europe, thereby getting the benefits which are rightly ours.

I wish to take up a point made by Deputy Durkan. I am mystified at the amount of misinformation which is being given out about the Maastricht Treaty. The morning after the Danish Referendum I listened to a radio programme on 2FM presented by a man previously known as "Lambo". The amount of distortion and confusion which can be created by people who work for a public service broadcasting station amazes me. However, I did not come into the House to speak about RTE and their odd way of operating.

I wish to deal with two issues, the first of which is outside the Maastricht Treaty. I sought to raise this on the Order of Business this morning but I did not succeed in doing so. I am always conscious of the Chair's admonitions for Deputies to be in order. I am in order now because this issue comes under the Foreign Affairs portfolio. I believe all of us were happy last evening when Judith Ward walked out of Court 5 of the London Appeal Court into the sunlight on the arm of Annie Maguire, another friend of some of us here, with whom she had served a long number of years in Durham Prison. After 18 long years Miss Ward's name had at last been cleared. The judgment in the Ward case delivered by Justices Glidewell, Nolan and Steyn was forthright. I have been critical of judgments previously delivered by Appeal Courts in England but I wish to make the point that this was a fine judgment, commendable in every way. It brings to an end an unfortunate and important part of the relations between this country and our nearest neighbour — the horrific series of miscarriages of justice which marred our relationships for a number of years. While the judgment is welcome and commendable in every respect it does not bring to an end the injustice suffered by all of those involved in the Birmingham Six, Maguire Seven, Guilford Four and Ward cases. The 18 people involved, most of them Irish men and women, are now free. However, I question whether they are really free.

The Minister will recall an evening he and I spent in the company of members of the Birmingham Six in Longlartin Prison many years ago. Their case was coming to a conclusion at the time. It was obvious, given the decision which had been made in the Guilford Four case, that they would be freed. On that occassion one of the Birmingham Six spoke of the sense of estrangement he had from the world outside. Today I listened to a radio broadcast during which they made the same point — they have had problems fitting back into society and relating to their families since they had been freed. During the interview one of them spoke about how he was a stranger to his children and grandchildren. As Members of the House know, two of the marriages of the Birmingham Six which had lasted during the long time they were in prison have now ended. The saddest part of the programme was when one of them spoke of the feeling he sometimes has of wishing to withdraw and simply close the doors behind him.

After the judgment was delivered yesterday in Miss Ward's case, Miss Gareth Pierce, who has been a pillar of strength in all of these cases, called on the British authorities to make available to the 18 prisoners and their families the facilities at RAF Lynham which had been used to help British hostages and kidnap victims to readjust to freedom after years of incarceration. I should like to repeat that call here and to suggest to the Minister, who has been such a champion of victims of injustice not just in Britain but also in this country, to use his good offices with the British authorities to ensure that these facilities are made available at the earliest possible date.

Most Members of this House share a common respect for Miss Pierce for the extraordinary work she has done and the extraordinary relationship she has established with these people. She believes — she was speaking on behalf of the families — that these facilities would be of help to these people. We should try to ensure that these facilities are made available. I should make the point that while these facilities may be made available I can foresee a situation where some if not all of these former prisoners in question and their families may not wish to avail of treatment and assistance in institutions in Britain for a variety of understandable reasons. If this is the case it will be incumbent on the Irish Government, together with the British Government, to see what can be done to assist these people.

Another issue which arises from these cases deserves some attention. I am referring to the service we as a nation provide to Irish people living in Scotland, Wales and, in particular, England. At present the support we give Irish citizens and citizens of Irish extraction living in the UK who are picked up under, for example, the PTA, an odious piece of legislation, comes from the Irish Embassy in London. From time to time the small number of staff in the embassy have been criticised undeservedly. They have given excellent service and their personal commitment has not always been recognised. I recall one evening when the Minister and I drove around the north-west of England in the company of one of the staff of the embassy at a time when it was important for him to be in London with his family, but he gave his time freely. He had been abused for not being available the previous week.

I have long felt that the only way in which we can address the problems which arise from time to time is by creating or establishing some form of additional consular representation in some of the larger British cities, for example, Birmingham, Liverpool or Glasgow, where large numbers of Irish people live. The Minister has always been a champion of the Irish in the UK. I am confident that as Minister for Foreign Affairs he will do all that can be done in this regard.

The issue which has exercised most minds during this debate is our Referendum and the result of the Danish Referendum. I am absolutely mystified at the response of some opinion leaders in this country right across the board to the decision made by the Danish people. The Danish people made their democratic decision to reject the Maastricht Treaty on the basis of what they believed was the right thing for them. This is a tragedy for Europe, and I believe it will be ultimately regarded as a tragedy for Denmark. However, that is their business, not ours.

People who last week would not have considered Danish attitudes as an example we should follow in any one of a whole range of social issues, least of all the Maastricht Referendum, are now trotting out their decision as a precedent. As I said, it was the entitlement of the Danes to make their decision in their own way. I doubt very much if the Danes were conscious of what was being said in the Irish papers. Therefore, I do not see why we should be so conscious of what was said in their papers. I received a bizarre phone call from a person who I think would hold views which are far from the Danish viewpoint on many issues of social legislation arguing that we should follow the Danish precedent. When I asked him if we should follow the Danish precedent in all matters he was silent and hung up.

The reality is that we must make our decision on the basis of what is best for the Irish people. Deputy Durkan, Deputy FitzGerald and several other Members have made the point that we should at long last have the self-confidence as a nation to face questions like this on the basis of what we believe is the right thing to do, first, for Ireland and, second, for Europe. I ask those people who have conjured up bogeymen over the past few weeks and months, where will we go if, as Deputy Durkan said, we are relegated to the secondary track? We should not delude ourselves that we are in any way significant or important in the context of the decisions to be made in regard to the European Union Treaty. If we vote: "no" we will be left behind; that is the reality. As has already been said, there are upwards of 1,000 multinational companies in this country. They did not come here because of our sunshine or smiles but because we have good labour relations, many advantages as an industrial location and, above all, are within Europe. What kind of message will we give these companies if we decide to go in the wrong direction on 18 June? What will we be saying to the young people of this country?

Deputy O'Kennedy said he has a young child who is Irish and European. I have four young children who see themselves as Irish and European. One of the greatest joys of the young generation of Irish people is that they see themselves as European. They understand what it means to be European and understand something of the dream of the people who founded the EC. That dream was not based simply on economic advantage but on a Europe whose people would be at peace, where the extraordinary culture would combine and, in strength, would assist to create a new world order in which there would be peace.

It is important that we get away from the pounds, shillings and pence of Europe. It is important that we talk about what the principles mean in Europe. It is worth reminding ourselves that we were the first nation after the Six to apply to join. We made an application before the British, the Norwegians and the Danes. We made an application at a time when it was hard for us to make that decision but we did so because we were exercising a degree of self-confidence which we had not previously felt sufficiently strong to exercise. I suggest that we exercise that same self-confidence yet again on 18 June.

When we joined the EC we were aware that the Treaty of Rome did not stop at some form of trading bloc, at a customs union — it went beyond that. The dream in the Treaty of Rome was that we would move towards economic and monetary union and, ultimately, towards political union. That is the direction Europe will take irrespective of the decision we make on 18 June. It is important that the Irish people hear clear and unambiguous statements on the two sides of the argument — I have always made that point — but many of the arguments that have been conjured up in recent days against a "yes" vote in the referendum are, to say the least, disingenuous.

While I do not wish to pre-empt Tuesday's debate on the ill-fated Maastricht referendum in Denmark, I feel that I must respond to points the Minister made in his speech. Unlike the Minister, I am extremely pleased with the result of the Danish referendum. It is a prime example of people power — the triumph of the Danish people against the vast range of political opinion arrayed against them.

The Minister was shedding crocodile tears when he said, "while showing full understanding of the democratic decision of the Danish people, the 11 are determined to adhere to the ratification process". We are, therefore, aligning ourselves with the other countries in an effort to pressurise Denmark into changing their mind. I appeal to the people of Ireland to vote "no" on 18 June and to ensure that we retain the independence of decision-making which the Danish people have decided to keep.

I would now like to turn to other aspects of foreign affairs which should not be over-shadowed by the Maastricht debate. The Green Party — Comhaontas Glas — are concerned with the survival of our planet for future generations, as well as protecting inhabitants. The need for world peace overrides national and commercial interests, and many of the present problems are caused by exploitation of people and physical resources. Ireland has become so closely tied to the western power bloc that it has lost some of its former good standing in the Third World, and has, therefore, been unable to fulfil its potential role as a conciliator between the developed and the non-developed countries. A more independent foreign policy must be pursued in order to help achieve world peace.

Ireland's traditional neutrality has been merely military, and strong political ties with the West have led to increasing pressure to join a military alliance. Ireland can maintain neutrality only when supported by a policy of political neutrality. Ireland's foreign policy should be based instead on the principle of constructive non-interference which will encourage co-operation between peoples for peaceful purposes. It may be necessary at certain times to make exceptions to the above principles, but this shall only be done through the United Nations.

The UN is intended to help resolve disputes by diplomacy rather than conflict. It is geographically centred upon developed countries and is funded primarily by the USA. It should be physically dispersed and should be funded from a wider base. The western nations have a stranglehold on the Security Council, which must be broken. If a veto is to be permitted, it should be available to all countries. The UN must assume a more positive role in the field of human rights, where surveillance work has, to date, been left almost entirely to voluntary bodies, such as Amnesty International.

The EC is at present functioning inefficiently, at great cost to the environment, through the Common Agricultural Policy and a general preoccupation with trade, and to the Third World through tariff barriers. Present policies have been concerned with economic growth at all costs, and have done much to damage the self-reliance of small countries which are unable to compete on the open market. The future for European co-operation lies not in the present obsession with standardisation and increased trade, but in the improvement of intercultural communication, the promotion of a common response, where appropriate, to environmental problems, and the surveillance of human rights in member countries.

The world consists of people with differing aims and ideals, but all depend on the same resources and share the same environment. The challenge of conserving resources can be met only by international co-operation, including a large reduction in their consumption by the countries in the northern hemisphere.

It is relevant at this stage to mention the Rio conference, the so-called World Summit, which is ill-fated to be a damp squib due to the failure of the United States, Japan and the EC to face up to the ecological consequences of this mad race for growth in which they are all engaged. It is very sad to see this conference degenerate into yet another talking shop, with no real cutting edge and no real pressure to achieve anything in the way of international controls on COS emissions, CFCs and so on.

International co-operation on intermediate level scientific and technical research, such as alternative energy sources and anti-pollution measures, must be stepped up and funding must be diverted from large projects such as space travel. The Green Party aim to make Ireland self-sufficient, but in so far as this is not achieved, trade should be conducted on a non-exploitative and ecological basis, with due regard to economic sanctions agreed by the UN. The present domination of international communications by the industrialised nations must be ended as a prerequisite to the elimination of cultural imperialism. Esperanto should be promoted as the language of international communication. The activities of multinational corporations must be controlled and forced to be more open with information.

Once again, I am disappointed with the Minister when he speaks about overseas development aid, which still amounts to only 0.17 per cent of GNP instead of the UN target of 0.7 per cent, in other words less than one quarter of the UN target. While we have our economic problems, there is still no excuse for our failure to increase the paltry sum available for ODA. I know the Minister is constrained by budgetary considerations imposed by the Department of Finance, but I wonder how hard he has fought to increase this miserable pittance of 0.17 per cent.

Forty three million pounds is not bad.

It is very small.

I accept that it is not enough but the Deputy can be certain that I am trying very hard on it.

I hope so.

The Deputy can be sure of it.

This time next year we will be having another look at it.

That is, if we are still in the House.

We will be, of course.

I will be.

I will be too. The Green Movement's aim is for a world of sustainable and decentralised societies which satisfy the basic needs of all. That this has not been achieved in the Third World is due largely to colonialism and the economic exploitation which it started and has perpetuated, and the destruction of previous living patterns. This aim could be more easily achieved if the peoples of the Northern hemisphere set an example by reforming their own economies, by lower consumption of resources and so forth, and were thus able to encourage other countries not to follow in the path of mass industrialisation.

Aid should be given only when asked for, and then directly to the communities involved, or for relevant research. It should support sustainable intermediatelevel technology based on the principle of mutual co-operation rather than disguised exploitation. I appeal to the Minister to see what he can do to ensure that indigenous cultures are protected and their rights to avoid development are respected.

In calling Deputy Seán Barrett I advise the House that the Order requires that at 3.45 p.m. we enter into the experimental state of presenting specific questions to the Minister and at 3.50 p.m. the Minister will be called upon to conclude.

I totally support the Maastricht Treaty and I will ask those who elected me to vote "yes" with me. This is not a time for playing party politics. The matter is too serious. The consequences of not ratifying this treaty are too disastrous to contemplate.

Through various Governments we have managed from time to time to attract a great deal of investment to this country, and we have used our membership of the EC to that end. Foreign investment is here because Ireland is a wonderful place in which to locate business. We are proud that Irish people are among the best qualified in the world to handle any type of business. We have the personnel, the workforce and access to the market places. I shudder to think what would happen if we decided to shut off access to those European markets, through European Union and economic and monetary union; what would happen to our interest rates that are currently very high and which have a detrimental effect on employment and in which there is no indication of a substantial drop in the forseeable future because of uncertainty in the market place and among the various members of the Community.

Lower interest rates bring jobs and higher interest rates are detrimental to employment. If we vote "No" there will be a lack of investment, a loss of investment, a possibility of higher interest rates, a lack of a market place and a lack of opportunities for the people on whom we are spending vast sums in education. I shudder to think what would happen if, through lack of proper information, through a failure on our part to accept our responsibility, the people voted "no". I am delighted with the leadership of Fine Gael who have left aside the opportunity to play party politics to join with the Government in trying to answer very difficult questions in a fair and equitable way. Those who agree that "yes" is the right vote should unite and clearly spell out the answer to questions. We should not be afraid to answer questions. We should not promise £6 billion or £5 billion when we do not know. We should sell the European ideal, the opportunity to be European citizens. We have a lot to be proud of here and we can give a lot to Europe and get a lot from Europe.

Some people fear that we may be dragged into a defence or a security policy that may not suit us. However, Ireland, a small country with a tremendous record in peace-keeping will have a vote that will be as important as the German vote or the French vote when it comes to deciding on a common security and foreign policy. We will have a tremendous opportunity to play an important role in a peace-keeping pattern in a Europe which is free from war and conflict. Our vote is as important as the German vote. Unanimity is required in the area of foreign and security policy. It is vitally important to stress that.

I wish the Minister well in his appointment. Up to this I did not have an opportunity to participate in a debate in which Deputy Andrews was Minister for Foreign Affairs. I served with Deputy Andrews for a number of years in Dún Laoghaire and I have always found him to be a thorough gentleman. I wish him well in his office.

Thank you very much.

During the next five minute period Deputies are at liberty to put questions to the Minister and invite him to answer when making his full reply. I would advise the House that the longer any Deputy takes in presenting his question the less time there will be for the other Deputies.

I have three questions. Would the Minister agree that current security arrangements on the Border are unsatisfactory? Unilateral decisions on the British side determine the pattern of security, and the Irish security forces are required to co-operate with them by protecting this side of the Border, even if the operations in question seem to be counter-productive. Would he accept that joint planning of security policy is desirable; and, if so, could some steps be taken towards that end? Could the Minister tell us what prospect he sees for the achievement, in the reasonably near future, of the commitment to accompaniment of the Army and the UDR in Northern Ireland by the RUC, in accordance with the commitment entered into six and half years ago and which has only been fulfilled in perhaps 60 per cent of cases so far. What steps does the Minister propose to take in that respect? With regard to ODA, can the Minister offer us any assurance that the shortfall of £25 million, by comparison to the amount that would be payable if we had even held the figure for 1986, will be made up in the next year or two years?

Will the Minister say whether a majority "yes" vote in the referendum in June will have any more real effect than to state the country's commitment to European Union? In view of the result of the Danish referendum can the Maastricht Treaty be ratified on 1 January 1993 whatever the result of the referendum in Ireland on 18 June?

Did the Minister express a view at the meeting in Oslo yesterday that the other 11 member states should proceed to ratify the Maastricht Treaty despite the Danish decision? If so, what was his authority for expressing that view since this country has not had its referendum or decided to ratify?

Could the Minister elaborate on the reference in his speech in regard to consultation with the Irish people before any further developments take place in relation to European Union or the defence of the Union?

Regarding the questions posed by Deputy FitzGerald, there is ongoing co-operation between the two Governments on the question of security within the context of the Anglo-Irish Conference. That will continue apace. It is fair to say that the cost to Government on an annual basis is massive in terms of the development of troops and members of the Garda Síochána in the Border area. The country would be in a better position if they could be deployed elsewhere. Co-operation continues.

What about joint security planning rather than unilateral decisions by the British requiring us to co-operate?

These matters are raised on a continuing basis with the British. It is very important that security policies adopted by the Government in co-operation with the British authorities should continue. In relation to accompaniment, I have stressed on the occassions I have been at the Anglo-Irish Conference that this policy must continue and I have received assurances from the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Brooke, and from his successor, Sir Patrick Mayhew, that this policy will continue. I have stressed it seriously and deliberately.

I agree that ODA at 0.17 per cent of GDP is not a true reflection of the wish of the nation. The generally accepted figure is 0.7 per cent and I will do my best to reach it, although not this year or next year. I would hope, however, that the figure would be greater than 0.17 per cent next time.

Deputy Gilmore queried my participation in the Oslo meeting. I contributed to the meeting as a matter of stated Government policy. That was my charge and my instruction and I make no apology for it. It is Government policy to continue to seek a "yes" vote in the referendum on 18 June.

I am not sure what Deputy O'Shea was adverting to. I would indicate to him that the ratification process continues. The legal services of the Commission and the Council will address the legal issues on the basis that it is only in the recent past that the Danes said "no" to the Treaty. When those legal opinions become available I have no doubt they will be made public.

I am grateful to all Deputies who participated in the debate and I am heartened by the serious and considered contributions from all sides. I am aware that Deputy Jim O'Keeffe is ill and could not be here. I agree with Deputy Owen that the eyes of Europe will be on Ireland on 18 June and that it is very important to stress the need for a strong "yes" vote to reflect the continued commitment of Ireland to the European idea. Deputies Owen and FitzGerald raised the matter of ODA and I have indicated that I will do my best to secure an improvement. I will consider Deputy Owen's question about the ratification of the UN Convention on Children and I will report to her in due course.

Deputy O'Shea mentioned that Deputy Michael D. Higgins had made a considerable input on the matter of a Foreign Affairs Committee over the years. I accept that and I assure Deputy O'Shea that as far as I am concerned the committee will be brought to fruition as quickly as possible. I understand the reason for Deputy Higgins's absence. Deputy O'Shea stood in very well for him. There will be a difficulty in relation to the structure of the Foreign Affairs Committee. My view is that we should have one Foreign Affairs Committee to subsume the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. There is a conflict on this point between the parties and it will probably have to be resolved between the Whips. Instead of having two committees we should have one, namely the Foreign Affairs Committee. That is a point of view but it is arguable.

Perhaps a sub-committee would deal with the work of secondary legislation.

That is a matter that can be looked at. I have not ruled anything out and there are matters for discussion. The important thing is to have a committee.

I indicated to Deputy O'Shea that Denmark and Ireland are good friends. Yesterday I expressed genuine regret on behalf of this country that Denmark did not ratify the European Treaty, but at the same time I said that the people of Denmark were entitled to take that view. The people here who want to vote "no" on 18 June are entitled to do so but we are entitled to put the case for "yes" as strongly as we can.

Dr. FitzGerald properly makes the point that we may have been over-stressing the bonanza of £6 billion. That is a fair point. I agree that in the event of rejection of the Treaty there will be a huge outflow of money and that investment from outside may become a thing of the past.

Deputy O'Kennedy, another former Minister for Foreign Affairs, indicated that it is very important to give a signal to our European partners by way of a strong "yes" vote that we wish to be part of Europe and to continue to pursue the European ideal. We should make a strong case but not overstate it.

Deputy Garland made a number of points to which a response would take a considerable time. He suggested that in some way we are shedding crocodile tears over the failure of the Danes to ratify the Treaty. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have the greatest sympathy for them but we recognise their entitlement to say "no". He also suggested that we are not pursuing the question of human rights. Amnesty International do an extremely good job but other voluntary organisations have a tremendous commitment to this area.

Deputy Roche spoke about the self-confidence of the nation. I agree that we are equal partners in Europe. Like him, I welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Judith Ward case. I have been part of the search for justice in the case of the Birmingham Six, the Guild-for Four and the Maguire family and to a lesser degree in the case of Judith Ward.

I congratulate Deputy Durkan on a very helpful contribution. He asks that we approach this matter positively.

Because of the specific terms of the order, I must seek the agreement of the House to give the Minister whatever extra time he requires to reply. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Durkan feels we should be thinking positively as Europeans and should see ourselves as having the same opportunities as other countries, without adopting the posture of the begging bowl. That is the last thing I would do in my participation in the Council of Ministers. The point is well made.

Deputy Briscoe referred to the ODA and the amount of money — £43 million — which is available. In the stringent circumstances that is not bad, although I agree it is not good enough. At the same time he praises those voluntary organisations who give so much by way of acts of charity to other countries to top up those moneys to the ODA.

Deputy Gilmore asked about the mandate to go to Oslo yesterday. I have explained to him that the mandate was based on Government policy. We are the Government and if we go to Oslo we go there representing the Irish people until such time as the Irish people decide we should not govern the country. He suggested that in some way we do not have sympathy with the Danish position; we have the utmost sympathy with the Danish position. We are not Euro bullies, or Euro terrorists. We recognise the rights of other people to say "no". I want to make that position very clear.

Deputy Barrett concluded on a very positive note. He shudders to think what will happen if we say "no" on 18 June. It would be very unfortunate if the result of the referendum was negative. I agree that Deputy John Bruton has played a very positive role in urging both his own party and the country generally to support the referendum on 18 June by way of a "yes" vote. Basically, in a rather haphazard fashion, that is the best manner in which I can contribute by way of answers to the various questions raised. I agree the depth of answers may not be adequate but if Deputies wish to raise anything further by way of Parliamentary Question, or privately, they should not hesitate to do so.

Votes put and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 4.05 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 9 June 1992.