Private Members' Business. - North-South Joint Operational Programme: Motion (Resumed).

The following motion was moved by Deputy John Bruton on 9 June 1992:
That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to enter into immediate discussions with the relevant Northern Ireland authorities to agree on the preparation of a joint operational programme for the entire island of Ireland, for submission to the European Community to avail of the EC Structural Funds for the period 1993-97, with a view to promoting much more intensive trade between both parts of the island.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "That" and substitute the following:
Dáil Éireann supports the Government's policy of incorporating a strong co-operative approach with the Northern Ireland Authorities into its planning process for the post-1983 EC Structural Funds, both in the preparation of the respective Development Plans to be submitted to the EC Commission by the Authorities North and South and in the preparation of a new INTERREG Programme to succeed the existing Joint Programme, with the overall aim of encouraging greater co-operation in the economic development of the whole island of Ireland including the promotion of more intensive trade between both parts.
—(Deputy O'Rourke.)

Last night I said that I would like to see some consensus here in relation to the motion on Northern Ireland. I am not sure if discussions have taken place between Fine Gael, who proposed this motion, and the Government who have tabled an amendment. There is not a great difference in fact although there is some difference in emphasis between the motion and the amendment. It is extremely important, between now and 8.30 p.m., to make some effort to ensure that the consensus which has been fought for and which has been hard won by the Members of this House since the New Ireland Forum examined Northern Ireland, is retained, because the problems in Northern Ireland have such an adverse bearing on so many aspects of life here. I would like to think we can keep the bi-partisan approach we have developed over the last number of years.

I commented on the scope for co-operation between the North and the South. There are many areas where this co-operation can manifest itself — in tourism, education, research, transport, roads, communications, energy policy and so on. There are many areas where there is room for co-operation. The Government and political parties here and the administration in Northern Ireland should take a positive approach where there is room for co-operation so that opportunities which could benefit both North and South are not lost.

Obviously the Maastricht debate can also have a bearing on the relationship between North and South and on the economies in both parts of the island. If we could develop a European focus, North and South, that would be very important. We should not exaggerate the impact of European union on the link between North and South. It is quite simplistic to think that it is the panacea for all the ills or lack of co-operation which affects the economies of North and South. Nevertheless it would be a step in the right direction if we could start thinking European. It might help to break down some of the barriers if we can direct our energies towards building a European consensus, towards contributing to the European economic area to enhance the economies of the North and South.

One aspect that worries me in relation to the aspiration of this motion towards the development of better economic relations between North and South to avail of EC Structural Funds, is the size of the cultural gap between the North and the South at present. Whereas some enlightened thinking has taken place in relation to the problems of Northern Ireland and some tremendous work is being done and has been done over a number of years by organisations such as Co-operation North and the Ireland Fund, there is still a significant cultural gap between the North and the South at a time when we are trying to build relationships with other countries, when we are trying to extend cultural relations far and wide. We would need to focus nearer home in relation to ensuring that the community in the South have reason to want to get to know the communities in the North and to have an exchange of views, which has not been happening to any great degree in recent years.

Much good work has been done in this area by the British-Irish Parliamentary tier. It is regrettable that politicians of the Unionist camp have not yet seen fit to take part in that. The British-Irish Parliamentary tier holds out another opportunity for politicians in this island and in Britain to break down the barriers and the misconceptions which exist between the islands and on this island. I hope that the Unionist politicians will in due course co-operate with the politicians from the South, our British counterparts and the SDLP who are participating in the British-Irish Parliamentary tier.

There is a serious fundamental difficulty which pervades political and economic life here and this is the unending violence we see on a daily basis in Northern Ireland and in the UK as recently as this week. In any discussion we have in this House, or in any other parliament, we must do everything possible to try to bring those who feel that there is some meaning in destruction and violence to see that absolutely nothing will be achieved by violence. Violence begets violence and the turmoil, havoc and hardship and the disruption of families which is caused by the violence only develops and magnifies the hurt, the despair and the intolerence existing on this island already. Everybody in political life on this island should make every effort to highlight the necessity for pursuing campaigns for peace to end the violence.

In relation to developing economic and political links it is extremely important that tolerance is taught. We may not totally respect or understand the views of those on other sides but as we face into the 21st century we must respect the traditions of both sides and have tolerance for the different points of view which manifest themselves in various debates that take place in this island. We should approach the talks which we are attempting to have on this island with a new degree of tolerance, leave behind the old historical wounds and try to convince the men of violence that their ways are not in the best interests of those whom they claim to represent and do not represent the best interests of this island. The violence also has a cost in human and in money terms. If we can move beyond the violence, if we can sit down with respect and tolerance and try to tease out how to live on this island together, we can then move on to look at the economic side. Economic steps can be taken to benefit the people, North and South. I reiterate that if we can find unity within this House we should strive to do so before the debate concludes.

I wish to share my time with Deputies Tunney and Leonard and the Minister for Energy.

Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

A Europe without frontiers is now accepted as a commonplace idea. When a Minister for Finance speaks of achieving such an objective it is often in the context of removing physical barriers such as tariffs and customs posts. The EC has long recognised that many of the invisible barriers to trade are a greater stumbling block: hence the adoption of the Single Market programme. Alongside the progress already made in these areas we must recognise that more fundamental obstacles often exist to full co-operation across borders, whether these be cultural, administrative and language differences or difficulties of a more political nature. A basic tenet underlying recent developments in the EC is that closer co-operation and integration produce a synergy with benefits greater than those arising in a zero sum game. Everyone can benefit from closer co-operation and integration. Nowhere is this more true than on the island of Ireland where our similarities far out-weigh our differences.

We are both at similar stages of development in terms of GDP per head. Both our economies are very open reflecting the limited size of our respective home markets, our resources base and our long trading traditions, particularly with Britain.

Natural resource based industries of agriculture, fishing and forestry account for a significant proportion of employment in both parts of this island. These industries make a sizeable contribution, by way of external revenues and inducement effects, to total economic activity.

Both areas have relatively high natural population and labour force growth by EC and British standards, relatively low population density, and high dependency rates. Each has, furthermore, experienced significant migration flows, varying with prevailing economic circumstances. Because of this rapid natural labour force growth we are both faced with exceptional job-creation requirements. While both our labour markets are integrated with those of Britain, our unemployment rates are well in excess of those in Britain or the EC as a whole, and have traditionally been higher.

The peripherality, in a European context, of both North and South poses common difficulties: for access to markets, notably in continental Europe, for the development of industry and international services, or innovation and transfers of technology.

Each region is affected, in its capacity to compete, by infrastructural limitations, reflecting location, low population density and dispersal of population.

With the completion of the Single Market the integration of Community markets and economies should lead to closer economic and commercial relations between the economies of the North and South. In time, we are likely to see more all-Ireland firms, with operations conducted across both regions, and more cross-Border mergers and acquisitions. Because economies of scale in marketing and product development will be of crucial importance, joint approaches by firms North and South may be necessary if they are to survive and compete successfully in the enlarged European Market.

In her address to this House yesterday my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Industry and Commerce, Deputy O'Rourke, outlined the wide range of measures already underway to develop strong cross-Border co-operation in the area of trade and industry.

A joint North-South approach to the issues arising in the context of European integration has several possible dimensions. The imminent arrival of a Single European Market, the approaching economic and monetary union, and the pressures and opportunities these will create, emphasise the logic of exploiting to the full the available scope, in certain fields of activity, for practical co-operation on a bilateral basis. In the present context of accelerated progress towards integration on a broad front, there is a particular need to ensure that joint concerns are adequately reflected in the policies of the European Community.

From the standpoint of two regions of the European Community, North and South have shared interests in the development and application of Community policies. Because of their structural characteristics, North and South face particular challenges in an integrated Europe. They have a mutual interest in the development of appropriate common policies, and the extension of Community responsibilities, with consequential enlargement of its budgetary resources. Each has a vital stake in a strong European Regional Policy, to enhance their prospects of catching-up with more favoured regions of the Community, in terms of both productivity and employment opportunity. The provisions of Article 130B of the European Union Treaty, whereby all Community policies must take into account the objective of Economic and Social Cohesion, can assist both North and South.

Geographical proximity, affinities in legal infrastructure, similarities in business organisation, and shared historical, cultural and commercial experiences, provide powerful arguments for working together. There are valuable examples of co-operation in place and these can become the foundation for closer links in the future. As both parts of the island become subsumed, in the economic sense, in an integrated Europe, the cost of the current one-island/two-economy basis of operation in many areas will become a greater drag on economic progress.

The EC Structural Funds, which substantially benefit both parts of the island, provide an opportunity for Ireland and Northern Ireland to work together cooperatively to our mutual advantage. As Deputies will be aware, I have just returned from a Council of Ministers' meeting where we had some very difficult discussions on the Delors II Package. I, along with my colleagues from other less developed member states, am strongly arguing the need for substantial increases in the Structural Funds in addition to the proposed new Cohesion Fund, in order to meet the new provisions on economic and social cohesion enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty. General increases targeted at Objective 1 regions obviously benefit Northern Ireland as well as Ireland. Similarly we have supported the idea of flexibility in the determination of the threshold at which a region ceases to hold Objective 1 status. This is of particular concern to Northern Ireland where GDP per head is very close to the limit of the 75 per cent of the Community average. This is just a small example of the co-operative approach which can be adopted at EC level in relation to the Structural Funds.

Deputy Bruton's motion and the Government's amendment are concerned more with the domestic planning and implementation aspects of the Structural Funds. The negotiations on the Delors II Package are at a very early stage and proposals on the detailed administrative structures for the next round of Structural Funds have not been put forward as yet. It seems likely that there will be a high degree of continuity with the present arrangements. Thus Objective 1 regions, such as Ireland and Northern Ireland, will be preparing development plans for submission to the EC Commission as the first stage in the elaboration of the detailed Structural Funds programmes.

As the current Structural Funds arrangements will expire at the end of 1933 it will be necessary to have all the new arrangements in place at that stage if a smooth transition is to be assured. Deputies will appreciate that the work involved is substantial. If the planning process is to be thoroughly carried out we cannot afford to wait until negotiations are concluded on the Delors II Package. Accordingly, the Government have already commenced the preparation of a new national development plan. Work is under way in all relevant Government Departments. Submissions have been requested from the social partners and from the sub-regional review committees.

The national development plan will set out the Government's strategy for the optimal use of Structural Funds resources in contributing to our development goals. It provides an unrivalled opportunity for the advancement of North-South co-operation in economic development. It is for this reason that I specifically asked Government Departments in preparing proposals for the development plan to examine their individual programmes and proposals with a view to identifying those elements lending themselves to cross-Border co-operation. Senior officials of my Department have discussed with their counterparts in Nothern Ireland the desirability of enhancing the cross-Border element in both our plans. I will be asking my officials to continue their contacts with their Northern Ireland colleagues with a view to ensuring complementarity and synergy in the development strategies to underpin our respective plans.

While Deputy Bruton's motion refers to an operational programme with the objective of intensifying trade between both parts of Ireland, I gather from Deputy Bruton's speech yesterday that he has in mind that the two parts of Ireland would submit a joint development plan covering all Structural Funds programmes and sectors which would in turn lead to a joint Community support framework and joint operational programmes. While this is a laudable objective it is not easily achieved in the short term.

The main difficulty lies not in Community regulations which would not currently permit such an arrangement but more fundamentally in the different programmes and priorities North and South. The development plans will set out the economic development strategy to be pursued and the utilisation of the Structural Funds to assist this strategy. Though our problems North and South are similar, the economic development strategies to be pursued will obviously reflect the differing policies and views of two different Governments. I am not saying that this is desirable. I am saying that it is the reality and we must deal with the reality.

If we were to pursue the course suggested there is a real risk that we would end up with a cobbled together development plan effectively comprising two different development strategies and two separate strategies and programmes for each sector covered. Each Department or agency North and South would pursue their own policies and programmes and the two would be added together for reporting arrangements to Brussels. There is no reason to believe that the problem with the Dublin-Belfast road instanced yesterday would be any more easily resolved in the context of the work being part financed by the EC under one joint community support framework with the North and South providing matching finance for their elements than in the context of the EC part-financing it under two different community support frameworks.

It is easy to refer, as did speakers yesterday, to a partitionist mentality or to the public service pursuing the familiar and following precedent. I do not want to put bureaucratic structures in place just for the sake of being able to present something as a joint plan or joint CSF or joint programme. I am seeking to create genuine co-operation in the economic sphere leading to genuine added value achieved from co-operative measures between North and South.

The National Development Plan, Community Support Framework and operational programmes cannot create or impose co-operation. They must reflect co-operation already underway or be used as the occasion to foster the growth of co-operation. Rome was not built in a day: neither can a two economy island be turned into a fully integrated single economy by a wave of an EC Structural Funds wand.

It is for this reason that the Government wish to progress steadily but surely, putting one building block in place after another in identifying areas of fruitful co-operation within our respective development plans and aligning our plans as closely as is possible given the real practical and political constraints.

Contacts to develop co-operation in Structural Funds programmes are facilitated by the close contacts already in place for the joint Ireland-Northern Ireland INTERREG Programme under one of the initiatives.

The programme involves approximately £58 million of EC aid from the three Structural Funds. Matching domestic finance is being provided by the Government and local authorities on both sides of the Border as well as by the private sector, bringing total expenditure under the programme to just over £100 million.

This programme, though not covering the full island of Ireland, is a joint operational programme. It is administered jointly by the authorities in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The various levels of implementation such as the working groups assessing applications under each sub-programme are established on a joint basis with representatives from the relevant Departments and agencies North and South. Many of the sectors referred to in Deputy Bruton's speech are covered in the programme.

There is a concensus among the member states and the Commission that INTERREG has been a success and that this type of action needs to be continued. I am confident therefore that there will be a successor to the present INTERREG Programme which runs to the end of 1993.

INTERREG, however, can only be one aspect to what should be done in the area of cross-Border co-operation. An important limitation to INTERREG is that its application is confined to the eligible Border counties. It does not, for example, cover actions which might be undertaken on an island-wide basis.

An INTERREG initiative extended to cover actions which could most efficiently be carried out on an all-island basis might meet some of the concerns expressed by Opposition speakers. We would favour such a development. However as the INTERREG initiative is targeted at Border areas, it may be difficult to achieve agreement at EC level on a wider definition of the areas which may be covered. In that case, we would cover these matters in our respective Community Support Frameworks.

We on the Government side are in full accord with Deputy Bruton on what we want to see achieved. It is in all our interests that a coherent economic development strategy for the whole of the island get under way and that Structural Funds are used in a complementary and co-operative fashion to achieve this aspiration. I would like to assure Deputy Bruton and other Opposition speakers that we are already on the road towards this goal. We may differ from Deputy Bruton on the tactics or methodology to adopt or on the pace at which we can advance but these are minor differences when one considers the stakes involved.

I would urge Deputies to support the Government amendment which recognises that a co-operative policy is already under way and which deals with the broader thrust of cross Border co-operation across all Structural Funds plans.

As with other Deputies I am happy to have the opportunity, albeit so short, to address myself to the spirit of the motion and the amendment. It is both heartening and timely that this House is applying itself to the spirit of both measures. The tragedy of Northern Ireland has, no doubt, embedded itself in the minds and hearts of all right minded people. It represents the most urgent and pressing need for social, economic and political considerations, both on this island and on the adjoining island. The unfortunate episode of the past 20 years has not been of our making, thank God, but rather of the men, and presumably in some cases women who would presume to impose their Utopian views on, people, however reluctant they may be. It is unfortunate, notwithstanding all the tragedy, the injustice and lack of freedom that has emerged from the appalling deliberations of those responsible that as yet they have not come to accepting that nothing worthwhile can ever be imposed by might. You must follow painstakingly what you are convinced is appropriate in justice and equity. Having done that you can be assured that at least the results will remain.

History shows what is achieved by might and by force is of its very nature ephemeral. In the light of that I want to address myself, however briefly, to the spirit that has motivated the British-Irish parliamentary body. I am happy to see sitting opposite me, Deputy Peter Barry. We talk in this House of people being for or against. In all my years in politics the most heartening exercise for me has been membership of the British-Irish Parliamentary body where, as a team of 25 we have demonstrated that, first, we are aware of the situation and, second, that we are prepared to leave aside all other considerations so that we can arrive at a formula that would help to understand the people on this island; people of different traditions, origins and religions. Such differences are immaterial as long as one's attitude is based on what is proper, good and just.

It has been a most enlightening experience for me to sit beside, for instance, Deputies Peter Barry, Garret Fitz-Gerald, Rory O'Hanlon, Jimmy Leonard, Tomás MacGiolla and Dick Spring, each with the same objective — to bring about relief, greater prosperity and happiness for all the people who live on this island.

I should say in passing, notwithstanding the benign neutrality which has been given to the body by our good Unionist friends, that I regret that as yet they have not joined us in making what would be an invaluable contribution as a result of which we could move towards the realisation of what is embodied in the motion and in the amendment. It should be said that even though we were established only in 1990, already we had a committee that had applied itself to discovering ways and means by which EC funds — whether Structural or otherwise — could be best utilised, and to tourism as affecting the whole island or, indeed, the situation as between ourselves and the adjoining island, and had produced very exciting and helpful documents on that aspect.

I cannot understand how, when I can meet that great man, Martin Smith, MP, at venues in other countries where he and I consider that we have a contribution to make towards the resolution of problems that exist elsewhere, for whatever reasons — some of which I do understand — as yet we have not combined to attempt to bring a solution to the problems here. It is only by such co-operation that the problems can be resolved. I said earlier you cannot impose anything that is good. We have to discover, to come closer to, to meet more frequently our friends from the North. We have to indulge in this exercise of discovering what is in our hearts and minds. We have to court each other and build friendships but we cannot do that from afar. We can do it only in association with each other, understanding our respective problems.

From my association with a former chairman of the Fine Gael Party, Kieran Crotty, I realised, as did he, as far back as 1983, that we could no longer perpetuate the situation existing between the peoples on both parts of this island so we made this move towards better understanding. Bearing in mind the co-operation that exists at the British-Irish Parliamentary body it would be regrettable if, notwithstanding the unanimity that exists where we all share the one view, we should have to divide on a motion or amendment. What difference does it make to the people who are so dependent on our assistance?

I know that traditionally and characteristically there is a motion from the Opposition and an amendment from the Government party. Here I appeal to Deputy John Bruton, Leader of the Fine Gael Party, and through him, to Deputy Peter Barry. In the name of sanity and demonstrating our sincerity on this matter and having accepted the motivation of Deputy Bruton's motion and accepting in all the circumstances that at any given time it is presumed that any Government has a slight edge over the Opposition, let Deputy Bruton do, as I know he and every member of his party would wish to do, that which would best serve all interests.

I thank him for placing this motion before the House and giving us an opportunity of addressing ourselves to it, but let us show that we can demonstrate, particularly on this matter, that there is unanimity, a sense of purpose and let him withdraw his motion and not ask me to divide with him on a matter on which both of us are at one.

I am glad of the opportunity to comment on this. I support the amendment, especially the latter part of it. The INTERREG Programme, 1991-1993, is drawing to a close and it is important that we look at the era post-1993. In doing that we must look at our progress from 1991 to 1993 and the lack of progress in some areas. While there were many good projects, much more could have been done.

I travelled down to Derry to meet Commissioner Bruce Millan during the initial stages of this programme. I suggested a number of things to him, including the setting up of a structure to administer the programme in Border areas. We should have involved voluntary organisations as well as the State Departments and agencies but unfortunately that was not done.

Many other schemes could have been initiated. As far back as 1975 I initiated cross-Border development. We have been very disappointed. The atrocities committed along the Border were not conducive to co-operation. Irrespective of that we continued our efforts. I believe that at present the climate is much more favourable. There is a programme for cross-Border co-operation between south Tyrone and north Monaghan. It is part of the Ulster Way and it is part of the north-west passage recently proposed by the tourism body in the North. There is a fund of goodwill and a realisation that the people in that area have much more in common than that which divides them. An application was put in and I thought it was an ideal project for that area where so many atrocities have been committed. Unfortunately, it was not successful.

I hope that in the next tranche from 1993 to 1996 we will get a further opportunity. I hope that prior to that there will be a greater co-ordinated effort by Government Departments and agencies North and South and I hope that we will make better use of the Leader and INTERREG programmes.

The Progressive Democrats believe in giving all the regions, including the different regions within the Republic, a greater say in the allocation and use of Community Structural Funds, and we believe that not all the decisions should be made centrally by Government in Dublin. We believe that such a policy should be adopted in allocating the next tranche of Ireland's Structural Funds allocation. We oppose the exclusion of the regions having a direct input into the formulation of this country's programmes for the 1989-1993 allocation from these funds. We believe that only by providing the lower tiers of Government with a real say in the use of such funds can we expect that they will be used to maximum advantage in the interests of local communities. It seems clear to us that adopting such a policy now in the allocation process would allow local communities to respond more effectively to the real needs of their regions and it would enable local communities in Border areas to co-operate in the use of funds to their mutual advantage.

That there is need to co-operate in the use of these funds on a North-South basis, as this debate specifically proposes, is immediately obvious. There are many projects where this island as a whole would benefit more through joint action than through going separate ways. Perhaps the most obvious example of an area for improving North-South co-operation arises in my own area of responsibility, which is energy. It is clear that enormous economic benefit would flow from the restoration, for instance, of the cross-Border electricity inter-connector. It is an absolute tragedy that the terrorism of the IRA has disrupted this vital energy link and I would clearly like to see it being restored at the earliest possible opportunity. The fact that we are now in the process of building a gas inter-connector between this country and Scotland underlines the scandal of terrorist campaigns to prevent the development of closer economic links between the two parts of this island.

Another area where cross Border co-operation is appropriate is in the upgrading of the rail line between Belfast and Dublin. It is clear that this project, which is supported by the Community, could not have been undertaken without a joint approach in the use of the Community funds. Similarly, restoring the navigation link between the Erne and the Shannon through the Ballyconnell canal demonstrates again the economic benefits to communities on both sides of the Border co-operating in using community funds.

That there is real scope for increased trade between the North and South is self-evident. As Europe completes the Single Market, we in Ireland must give effect to building and achieving our own geographical single market. The Confederation of Irish Industry estimate that trade between the North and South could be trebled from its current level of £1.5 billion to £4.5 billion and the confederation goes on to suggest that this could result in the creation of 30,000 additional manufacturing jobs or a total of 75,000 in all on this island.

It is also true that such co-operation is one of the most practical ways to advance the cause of peace in the North. We can show that through the development of trade and through a co-operative approach to the use of Structural Funds all the people on this island can not only live peacefully together but can prosper economically together as well.

The Progressive Democrats, therefore, endorse the policy of promoting a strong co-operative approach with the Northern Ireland authorities to the use of these funds. We are also convinced that this spirit of co-operation must extend to the various regions within the Republic. Their input also must be welcomed in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity which is written into the Maastricht Treaty and which must be given substance in our own country.

Let me thank the Fine Gael Party for the opportunity to speak in this debate and indicate to the Chair that the time available is being shared between myself, Deputy Barry and Deputy Boylan.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the debate generally in relation to co-operation between North and South of this island. Too often we engage in rhetorical statements of good wishes in relation to Northern Ireland but rarely if ever do we debate the substance of what we might do to establish the kind of co-operation we seek.

It is unfortunate that there seems to be a conflict between the Fine Gael motion and the Government amendment; there is not a million miles between either approach. It would be unfortunate if at the end of this debate we had to divide on what is generally a proposal that all of us would support. Falling out over the detail would be a mistake. If that has to be so be it, but I hope the Whips of the Government parties and the Whip of the Fine Gael Party might arrive at some arrangement whereby we do not have to divide on this issue.

The debate is welcome. I was particularly pleased that Deputy Bruton when speaking last night talked about the need to approach the issue of co-operation between the North and the South without a hidden agenda. There is always the fear in Northern Ireland that overtures from the Republic represent some kind of Trojan horse. We need to do everything we can to allay those fears which are not unreasonable, particularly given the appalling campaign of slaughter in which the Provisional IRA have been engaged over the years against one particular section of the community in Northern Ireland and also their appalling campaign of attacks on commercial targets in Northern Ireland, a campaign deliberately aimed at destroying the economic infrastructure there. It is important that we try to allay those fears and for that reason we cannot engage in this kind of debate without addressing, even if only in a passing way, Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution. It seems to me that so long as we maintain hard-nosed attitudes in relation to Articles 2 and 3 it will be difficult to convince the people of Northern Ireland that there is no hidden agenda. I recognise fully that there is no hidden agenda in the Fine Gael motion. I know that the Fine Gael intentions are entirely to do with developing the economy of both North and South and trying to ensure that there is work for the people of both North and South. People in Northern Ireland who on a daily basis come under attack from the Provisional IRA, who claim to be operating on behalf of a united Ireland, quite rightly fear that Articles 2 and 3 of our Constitution claim jurisdiction in relation to Northern Ireland. That issue has to be addressed seriously before we will be able to make substantial progress on cross-Border co-operation.

It is obvious that there are areas in which cross-Border co-operation can take place. The Minister for Energy referred to the cross-Border inter-connector. I have raised that matter in the Dáil on several occasions and I spoke about it again in recent months. I fail to understand the reason the British Government and the Irish Government have not taken steps to re-establish that interconnector. The argument is that it could be a target for the Provisional IRA.

There is no doubt that it would be, like the peace train and the train link between the North and the South was a target. The people North and South, effectively took that weapon out of the hands of the Provisional IRA by demonstrating that they were prepared to travel up and down that line, at risk to their lives if need be, in order to show that the people of this island want to live at peace with each other. An opportunity will be missed by both Governments if they do not proceed at all possible speed to re-establish that interconnector, which, in my view, would be not only a political gesture but would also have beneficial economic effects on both the domestic bills of the people North and South and the cost of energy to industry in Northern Ireland and in the Republic.

The other point I want to make arises from the Maastricht Treaty and the UK opt-out on the Social Charter. Perhaps, in concluding the debate we might address the question of the way that might affect the economic relations between North and South, given that it would seem that the British Government sought that opt-out in order to maintain some kind of cheap labour approach to economic development. That would be an appalling approach to the economy of Northern Ireland, which is virtually on its knees. Apart from the input by the British Government in terms of the public services, the economic infrastructure and the industrial infrastructure are weak and shrinking. The UK Government need to take a greater interventionist approach to the Northern Ireland economy.

That brings me to another point I wish to make in relation to Northern Ireland, which is somewhat linked to Articles 2 and 3. I am referring to the talks that are with some difficulty trying to get under way in Northern Ireland. I welcome those talks and I hope amodus operandi can be found to get the talks under way seriously. In wishing those involved well, I urge them to address issues other than the constitutional issues in Northern Ireland. There is little doubt that the alienation of a significant section of the population in Northern Ireland in relation to the State there derives from the economic deprivation from which they suffer. That is obviously true for that section of the population that is Nationalist but it is equally true for a significant proportion of the section of the population that regards itself as Unionist.

Whatever marginal advantage the Unionist working class may have had in Northern Ireland because of the position of Unionism there, it has been virtually wiped out because of the near collapse of indigenous industry. Recent reports bear out my opinion. Unemployment, and the sense of alienation are fairly widespread amongst the working class people on the Unionist side of the divide in Northern Ireland.

The talks must address such questions as the economy and the social services in Northern Ireland and establish a support for any devolved governmental structures that may be established. Unless that support comes from both sides on the ground, then such structures cannot survive. The weapon of the Provisional IRA and the UDA will not be struck from their hands if we leave the sore of unemployment and deprivation, from which those groups draw most of their personnel, to fester.

I hope it will not be necessary to divide on this issue. All Members want co-operation to develop. I welcome the Government statement that they have proposals for the development of co-operation with regard to European funding and I do not recognise any great distinction between that and the motion. Perhaps the Fine Gael motion is a little narrowly focused but it is nevertheless a valid contribution to the debate.

I thank the contributors to the debate this evening and last night. Fine Gael Deputies were a little surprised that a Government amendment was tabled because we thought our motion was one that the House could support. If there can be agreement between the Whips between now and 8.30 p.m. on the motion and the amendment, my party would be very happy not to divide the House on what we consider to be an important topic that needs an all-party approach.

The Fine Gael Party believe that cross-Border co-operation and a new approach to regional policy can benefit the island of Ireland and promote constructive development. The development and evolution of the European Community has demonstrated the benefit of co-operation across geographical boundaries and the success of policies based on common interest. The European Community has provided a positive model of political co-operation where former adversaries have learned to work together for peace and prosperity.

This part of Ireland benefited substantially from the Structural Funds; over the 1989 to 1993 period the European Community will have contributed some £3,000 million in Structural Funds to Ireland. The funds contributed so far have been used in a variety of areas including industrial development, education and training, tourism and agricultural development. The funds have also made a major contribution to the development of our infrastructure — roads, by passes, bridges, passenger and airline facilities, to mention just some of them.

These funds could be put to even more effective use if they were harnessed to promote more intensive trade between the whole island and to promote policies common to both areas. Transfers from the Community to Ireland have been central to improving our economy, our employment prospects and our quality of life. Transfers from the Common Agricultural Policy and the Structural Funds account for 6 per cent of our national income and this proportion of funds is planned to increase as a result of funding to implement the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty which will come into effect in 1993.

Because Northern Ireland is linked to Britain, which is a consumer society and a net contributor to the European Community, it does not benefit as much as the rest of Ireland and yet it shares many of the same problems. That is a key point. It is unlikely, for instance, that Northern Ireland will benefit from the new Cohesion Fund which will be set up in the Maastricht Treaty to honour the commitment in the Treaty of Rome to economic and social cohesion between the member states. That point has not been finally decided, but four countries — Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland — have been mentioned in that regard. I do not know whether the British Government will make a case for the inclusion of Northern Ireland, and one can see the political difficulties for them in relation to other regions in Great Britain. Economically, Northern Ireland certainly qualifies to be included in the Cohesion Fund. For many years I have talked to people about the problems in Northern Ireland, and when I spoke to Unionists, a recurring theme was how much better our farmers and local authorities are served by our Government in obtaining funds from the European Community compared to the British Government's support for the Northern Ireland economy.

The Cohesion Fund has two objectives, one of which is to promote and finance projects that protect the environment. The fact is — as we know only too well when we look across the Irish sea — that environmental degradation, water and air pollution do not respect national boundaries, much less the boundary between the two parts of this island. Co-operation in this area is vital and represents a positive opportunity to benefit both parts of the island. The fund's other objective is to develop transport infrastructure, particularly for peripheral and island regions. This is an area where all-island co-operation could be of enormous economic and social benefit. Last night Deputy John Bruton listed a number of areas where that could be done and which would benefit both parts of the island. The Minister said tonight that there is still a lot of co-operation — and I am sure that is correct — but if a plan was put forward for the whole island for Structural Funds which was endorsed by the authorities, North and South, it would be very acceptable to the EC and they would show a great willingness to overcome whatever kind of legal or bureaucratic difficulties might arise in supplying funds.

Fine Gael believe that a regional approach to policy formation would be much more beneficial to Ireland, North and South. The development of integrated regional plans would harness local initiative, facilities, different policies and practice. There has been far too much attention paid to policies which expect initiatives to come from the centre. In Government Departments or State agencies regional diversity is needed to reflect the often very difficult regional weaknesses. Fine Gael believe that the power to take initiative should be devolved to the regions. In particular, we suggest in our policy documentThe Jobs Economy that a network of regional authorities should be set up, each with a small board selected for executive ability, whose primary task shall be to develop their regional economy. This authority would have direct control over a portion of Structural Funds from Brussels without coming through Dublin and they would be under the scrutiny of members of their constituent local authorities. In my area, the most likely region would be Cork, Cork city, Cork county and south Kerry; under our plan each one of those would be entitled to nominate to the controlling body members of local authorities.

The aim of this approach is to promote strategic thinking about economic opportunities and to support real job creation initiatives coming from the regions and communities rather than having policies and projects imposed by the centre. Fine Gael believe that chambers of commerce and industrial associations have great potential; such associations should adopt a development role instead of the present emphasis on lobbying. They could evolve schemes for business plans in their area in training, marketing, data exchange and guaranteeing customer standards. This is very much a continental Europe idea where the chambers of commerce play a completely different role from the one they play in Great Britain and Ireland.

A regional approach would benefit the whole island and allow local communities to take the initiative in the development of their regions. In the South there is an attitude that decisions are taken to suit the centre, that the "shower" in Dublin get everything because of our lack of regional policy. This problem will be exacerbated in a more integrated European Community as more decisions and policies will be initiated on a European basis. I made the point earlier that people in the regions are becoming more dependent and apathetic, which could have serious repercussions for European Union. Any Member who has been canvassing for the referendum on 18 June has found that people are disturbed about the number of decisions taken in Dublin in relation to their own areas. They now fear that such decisions may be taken in Brussels.

Political commentators and academics are already suggesting that the "No" vote in the Danish referendum indicates that this process has already begun. The suggestion is that the drive for European integration has been largely led by the politicians and the bureaucrats and that the people have been left behind. They also feel that the Government have not done enough to inform, debate, explain and engage people in the process towards a more integrated and unified European Community. That attitude was prevalent when I was canvassing last week and it is certainly one of the elements in the "No" campaign which is eliciting a response from the people. Our Government were initially complacent and would not debate the central issues in the Dáil. They did not produce a White Paper until eight weeks before the referendum. Now we are all under pressure to have complicated and complex issues debated and discussed in a very short period. This is not good enough. The Danish vote should have taught us that we need to rethink our whole approach to Europe, to our domestic policies and, in particular, our approach to regional policy. We must inform people on a continuous basis well in advance of decisions they are likely to have to make about Europe in future.

The Fine Gael motion represents an opportunity to begin the process of regionalisation and the recognition that an all-island approach would benefit all our people. The European Community is the first super-national body which sets out a common objective with member states, that is the achievement of peace and prosperity. That is the objective of the European Community and those of us who argue for a "Yes" vote should remember that. It is a mechanism through which former adversaries have learned to work together. One of our objectives as a member of the European Community is to work with the people and leaders in Northern Ireland to achieve peace and stability.

The New Ireland Forum, of which both the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and I were members, in their report of 1984 outlined the enormous cost in terms of human life and economic hardship exacted by the continuing violence and instability. Paragraph 21 of chapter 3 is worth reading even though at this stage, eight years on, the figures are very much out-of-date. The cost to the British and Irish Exchequers, in terms of security, were estimated, for the 15 years between 1969 and 1984, at £5,000 million for the British Exchequer and £1,100 million for the Irish Exchequer. The figure has increased considerably in the meantime.

The report also underlines the fact that the violence had destroyed opportunities for productive employment, severely depressed investment that could have led to new jobs and greater economic wellbeing and greatly damaged the potential for tourism. Co-operation between both parts of this island makes sense, both socially and economically. It also makes sense in terms of securing the future peace and prosperity of our people. This motion marks a further step towards securing that peace and co-operation between both parts of the island.

I call Deputy Boylan. The Deputy has seven minutes.

I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the debate on this motion on Northern Ireland which was proposed by my party Leader, Deputy John Bruton, yesterday evening. I should say in passing that I regret so little time has been made available for a debate on a motion which has attracted much interest and aroused such passion and that there is no flexibility to extend the time available so that we can have a full debate on this matter. I hope, however, that we will not stop here and that, having put forward various proposals we will take a further step. I also hope that we will not divide on this issue tonight as that would send the wrong signal from this House to the people who are listening to us and hoping that we are sincere. I have no doubt, having listened to the speeches that have been made, that Members are sincere.

I am convinced that there is a ground swell of opinion that people in Northern Ireland and both North and South should come together because the people have had enough. There has been some great detective work done and I compliment both the Garda Síochána and the RUC in relation to the recent major arms finds. I believe that information is now being made available because those who supported the men of violence now see that what they are doing is wrong and are prepared to provide information to ensure that these deadly arms, ammunition and bomb-making equipment are confiscated. This should be welcomed and we must build on it.

It should be put on the record of the Houses that the present spate of violence has got nothing to do with the aim of a united Ireland or religious beliefs. It amounts to nothing more than gangsterism. They are a Mafia-type organisation who play on the fears of the people, both North and South, and live off the proceeds of bank robberies, protection rackets and so on. I would not be surprised if following this debate there was an upsurge in violence. They will not go away but they are being and can be beaten.

Like my colleagues in my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan, and in other constituencies along the Border I compliment my colleague, Deputy McGahon, for making a fine speech last night. I know of families who have suffered at the hands of these terrorists and gangsters. Some of these families have been driven from their homes. What right do these people have to go into a farmyard and brutalise the family with iron bars, to tie both the mother and father to the farmyard gate, to break their son's legs and place him in a van loaded with explosives and tell him to drive to the nearest Border post? They have no right and have been given no mandate to do this. This sickened many honest and decent people but I have to say that, unfortunately, it took incidents like this one to make them realise that these people were depraved.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Deputy Tunney, referred to the British-Irish Parliamentary group. He has the great honour, along with members of Fine Gael and other parties in the House, of taking part in that group along with members of the British Parliament. Last Monday, I had the great honour as chairman of Cavan County Council of hosting a civic reception for a sub-committee of the British-Irish Parliamentary group when they visited the border region. I can assure Members of the House that 25 years ago such a reception would not have been held. This is an indication that there has been a change in thinking. People in the area accepted invitations to attend and came to greet the members of the sub-committee. We had a wonderful evening and a great discussion. We hope that good will flow from it.

The purpose of their visit was to see how cross-Border tourism could be promoted. In this regard I was given some interesting figures which were the source of some alarm. Twenty-five years ago the concept of cross-Border co-operation in relation to the promotion of tourism was actively examined. However, the Troubles put an end to that process. In 1990, 19 per cent of visitors to Northern Ireland were tourists. The remainder were made up by those visiting their families or on business trips. On the other hand, in the same year, 38 per cent of visitors to the Republic were holidaymakers. I was surprised to learn that 17 per cent of visitors to Northern Ireland were from the Republic. I did not realise that the number was so high — I do not have a breakdown to show the number who travelled on shopping excursions and so on — but as against this only 8 per cent of visitors to the Republic were from Northern Ireland.

Both parts of the island are actively promoting tourism and have so much to offer. Reference has been made to the need for co-operation in the Louth-Down area, which includes the Mourne Mountains, the Donegal-Derry area and the Cavan-Fermanagh area which includes the lakeland districts. I think it was a mistake to include my area which had been included in the midlands region in the north-west region. The opportunity should have been taken to combine the Cavan, Monaghan and Leitrim regions with Fermanagh as this forms a natural hinterland where one could promote fishing, sailing, boating and other water activities.

In addition, the Ballinamore-Ballyconnel canal which is a major waterway and which links the Shannon and the Erne to one of the greatest lake districts in the country and in Europe for that matter, has been opened-up. Much play has been made of the fact that one can travel from Enniskillen to Limerick; there has to be two-way traffic. I fail to understand why, following the war which took place in the Middle East, when money was spent in America to attract Americans to this country we did not encourage our neighbours in Northern Ireland to visit this country. We have many things in common and should be able to work together. If the will was there it should be possible to find common ground not only in the tourism industry but also in agriculture and industry so that we could work together. However, that is the one question mark that hangs over this matter.

In relation to tourism, it should be possible to adopt common trading standards and qualifications in the industry to ensure standardisation of the hotel classification system and twinning arrangements between hotels of similar standard on a cross-Border basis. As I have said in relation to the Shannon and the Erne, a special development programme encompasses measures to improve angling, cruising, water sports and other facilities on the two river systems. This is unprecedented. Opportunities are available if we are prepared to grasp them.

There is no businessman more hard-headed than the Northern Ireland businessman who knows how to get value for money. Indeed, I welcome the news this evening that people are now coming across the Border to our petrol pumps. Up to now it was all one way traffic. As I said, I regret that we have not had more time to debate this matter. However, I welcome the statements which have been made in the House tonight. This marks a step forward and I hope we will not have to divide on the issue at 8.30 p.m. We should accept each other's point of view and reach an agreement.

It is appropriate that we should hold this debate on inter-regional co-operation at this time when the nation is debating the Treaty on European Union. I accept the point which has been made by a number of Deputies that it will be unfortunate if we have to divide on this issue. I appeal to the Fine Gael Party who have tabled the motion to accept the amendment in the name of the Minister. It would not be a question of one side gaining a victory over the other. The Minister clearly outlined the reasons his amendment should be accepted, particularly as it deals with the reality of the situation as it obtains. We could all accept the Minister's amendment.

The difficulty I perceive with Deputy Bruton's proposal is that it would create another layer of bureaucracy while having the present structures in place for drawing up various programmes.

Every Member recognises the benefit of co-operation with Northern Ireland in any effort to develop the economy of the whole island. We are all aware there are significant opportunities obtaining for further development in industry, trade, agriculture, natural resources, financial services, tourism, transport, environment, energy, human resources and health.

I am glad that, during my time as Minister for Health, very substantial progress was made by way of co-operation with our Northern colleagues in many areas. I met about twice a year my counterpart in Northern Ireland, Mr. Richard Needham, Lord Schlensdale and Jeremy Hanly, MP, during their time as Minister for Health. We were agreed that, in both parts of the island where there is a population of 5 million people, it was appropriate there be co-operation not only to combat disease and promote good health but also to ensure that the money available on both sides of the border was spent to the maximum benefit of the people who needed medical attention and in the general interests of health promotion. That co-operation is reflected in a very positive manner in a number of areas. For example, at national level, we provide, in the Meath Hospital, the Lithotripsy procedure, the crushing of kidney stones, for the whole island. In return, at Belvoir Park Hospital in Belfast the United Kingdom Department of Health and Social Security provide the total body irradiation for children awaiting bone marrow transplants for leukaemia. Formerly they had to go to Glasgow.

Such co-operation obtains in other areas such as examining the price of drugs on both sides of the Border and a joint campaign for the eradication of infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and German measles. When we were purchasing a magnetic resonance machine which cost £1.5 million they were purchasing one in Northern Ireland and included in the tender documents issued was the question: what reduction would be available if a similar machine was purchased on the other side of the Border?

Those are examples of the co-operation that obtains. Of course, there are other opportunities not alone at central level. For example, also along the Border the North Eastern Health Board and their counterpart, the North Western Health Board, co-operate in the provision of services at local level. Opportunities for further development operate at two levels; at the central level and at local level. It is important that the Minister continues to take account of the local level. A number of Deputies suggested, and the Minister says he would like to see the INTERREG programme extended to the whole country. It is interesting that Deputies Leonard, Boylan, McGahon or myself do not subscribe to that proposal if it is at the expense of the border regions because the INTERREG programme has been a particularly useful one for them. In drawing up of new INTERREG programme I ask the Minister to take account of the recommendations of the very worthwhile cross-Border bodies that exist, for example cross-Border economic groups, who represent elected repesentatives and officials of local authorities on both sides of the Border. It is very frustrating for them to serve on such bodies for years and not have their views taken into account.

I compliment the Fine Gael Party on tabling the motion but I ask them to accept the Minister's amendment. We all recognise the importance of the preparation of complemetary economic development strategies to underpin the proposed development plans North and South. It is also important to identify areas of possible co-operation within our development plans and maintain contact with the Northern Ireland authorities, in the preparation of our respective plans, in order to maximise the benefit from the Structural Funds in both parts of this island.

Deputy Barry, our deputy Leader, said that if agreement can be reached among the Whips, we would be happy not to divide the House on this issue. I understand that some efforts are being made to reach that happy solution, something I would like very much. Most Members will know that, throughout my political career, I have been a very strong advocate of cross-party agreement in this House in relation to Northern Ireland, an attitude I have long followed. Certainly I would very much regret if it was necessary to force this motion to a vote.

I listened to Deputy Barry with great interest on the subject. I listened to the plea of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle in relation to the subject and his appeal not to divide the House on a motion on which we were in basic agreement. I hope his hope and mine will be fulfilled. I wish to pay a personal tribute to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the interest he has shown, the great sympathy he has for the Northern Ireland problem, and the hard work in which he has been involved over a number of years, north and south of the border, to find a solution to this problem. Indeed, his position in the British/Irish Interparliamentary group has been a culmination of many years of effort. I shall have some comments to make on that at a later stage but it would be my hope that, through the deliberations of that group, we will find ourselves nearer to a solution to these problems.

I thank the Deputy. He will appreciate that, at some future date when I am not acting as Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I will acknowledge his kind comments.

I should like to thank all of the participants in this debate. Everybody would agree that it has been useful, constructive and has ranged widely over many subjects not mentioned in the motion or in the amendment. Indeed, on occasions, I thought I was listening to a continuation of another debate which took place yesterday. That was not necessarily a bad thing because it was a timely reminder — that Northern Ireland, as an issue is extremely important and is very central to many people's thinking in relation to the Maastricht Treaty. If, in the course of this debate, we have established in the minds of a small number of people that there ought to be an attitude of thinking about Northern Ireland, an examination of each issue as it arises in our parliamentary life in relation to Northern Ireland, asking ourselves what effect will decisions have on the Northern Ireland problem, on the people of Northern Ireland, on relationships North and South then this debate will have been extremely useful.

Deputy Spring told us to think European. I agree with him but it is more than that. We should think Irish as well as European; have a European mentality; have an Irish mentality but, for God's sake, do not have a partitionist mentality. As I have said on a number of occasions, I have had to recognise that, unfortunately, over the 70 years of our divided country, a partitionist mentality has grown up. It has grown up on this side of the Border, in some respects, even more than it has developed on the other side of the Border. There is a partitionist mentality among people, although they do not recognise it as such. It has become so ingrained it is almost a natural reflex with them. On occasions they become very annoyed when told they have a partitionist mentality, but if some of those people are made to question their attitudes as a result of this debate that will be beneficial.

Dr. George Quigley has been much quoted in the debate, and no better man to quote. I do not know him very well as Chairman of the Ulster Bank but certainly in my previous political existence on the other side of the Border I knew him as a much esteemed, respected, extremely capable civil servant at a time when there were not too many of them about, and a man for whom I have the highest respect on all aspects of his career. He was the one who said we should build an island economy. Both North and South would have signally failed to give substance to the 1992 concept if, occupying a small island on the periphery of the EC, they neglected or were unable to function as a single market. That could be the theme of this debate and of our endeavours.

It is common ground among all the political parties in Northern Ireland that the British administration performed extremely badly when allocations from the increased Structural Funds were last made in 1989. Northern Ireland received an increase of only 9 per cent compared with an increase of 78 per cent for the Republic, 109 per cent for Portugal, 171 per cent for Greece and 147 per cent for Spain. To make matters worse, because qualification for the Cohesion Fund is based on countries rather than regions, Northern Ireland does not qualify for any assistance from that fund. It can, therefore, be taken for granted that, irrespective of the knee-jerk reaction of certain politicians, any development which had promise of additional EC funding would be welcomed on a cross-community basis in Northern Ireland; a joint approach by both Governments which would maximise our funding potential would also be to our advantage here in the South.

Inevitably there will be those who will search for a hidden agenda and will be grievously disappointed if they cannot find one. I listened to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Ahern, saying Rome was not built in a day. That is not the hidden agenda, I would say, to our Unionist friends in Northern Ireland. I would not like to disappoint those who look for a hidden agenda. Let me provide one for them. The only hidden agenda in this debate is provided in the words of Deputy John Bruton, Leader of the Opposition, speaking in the House last Wednesday when he said that the European Single Market, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Funds gave the two parts of Ireland a unique chance to build a structure of peace on this island based on more trade between us, not on the supremacy of one tradition over the other. Surely that is an agenda worth pursuing.

Increased opportunities to build the structure of peace also represent the most cogent of all arguments for a vote in favour of the Maastricht Treaty. Whatever disagreement there may be over the effects of a "No" vote, one thing is clear: the British have already decided to ratify the Treaty on European unity, and if we vote against it, then Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be in different categories of membership of the Community. If that disaster were to befall us, then the whole process of what appeared to be the inevitable dismantling of barriers, North and South, will be reversed. That cannot be allowed to happen.

There are, Sir, as you well know, a number of organisations working away quietly, doing tremendous work for reconciliation, some doing it for years, without looking for any praise for it. In this category Co-operation North has to be mentioned. Brainchild of Dr. Brendan O'Regan, he and they have shown great sensitivity, great dexterity, to overcome what would have appeared to many to be insurmountable problems. I would like to place on record my thanks and my admiration for the practical and sensitive job they have done.

There is also the International Fund for Ireland which, as Members will know, is an international organisation established by the British and Irish Governments in 1986 with the objectives of promoting economic and social advance and encouraging contact, dialogue and reconciliation between Nationalists and Unionists throughout Ireland. Contributors to the funds are the US, Canada, New Zealand and the EC. The international fund is doing tremendous work. I would like to have the time and the opportunity to put on record some of the work that has been done through that fund in the North and in those parts of the Republic which are close to the Border. On another occasion maybe we should seek a debate in this House on the International Fund because in the US and elsewhere malicious people have tried to deride the fund. I am an extremely strong supporter of it, and all of us in this House ought to be so. Indeed, there may be a lesson to be learned from the activities under the International Fund in Northern Ireland that extend to the Border areas of the Republic. There may be a job for a similar organisation in other areas of the Republic to do what the fund is currently doing in Northern Ireland, which is focusing scarce resources on particular problems and particular areas, coordinating those funds with other funds that are available from all State, semi-State and private interests.

Then there is the Ireland Fund — not to be confused with the International Fund for Ireland — the Ireland Fund of the US, of Canada, of Britain, of Australia and of New Zealand, which over many years has been doing tremendous work. Many organisations in Northern Ireland, cross-community and in disadvantaged areas, owe their existence and progress to the Ireland Fund. Also it has the great advantage that it takes away funds that in the ordinary course of events might go to Noraid and other extremist organisations, and I commend it to the House.

Pleas have been made for the Unionists to join the British-Irish Inter-parliamentary Body, and I join in those pleas. In doing so I join not only with members of this House but with honourable Members of the British House of Commons and the British House of Lords who are Unionist in sympathy. There are two or three reasons for joining that organisation without loss of face to themselves. It pre-dates the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It has nothing to do with the Anglo-Irish Agreementper se, so that should not discourage them from joining. It was set up not by the British Government, not by the Irish Government but by these Houses of the Oireachtas and the Parliament at Westminister. I urge Unionists to participate; their friends already urge them to do so.

While I was preparing for this debate I took time to examine the report which the British-Irish Inter-parliamentary Body, Committee B, prepared in October 1980, headed "Co-ordination Within the European Community in the Context of Regional Aid and Associated Areas". In that report we will find most of the ideas which have been mentioned here in this House this evening and yesterday evening and the common problems we have between the two islands and in Europe, the priorities, the need for infrastructural development, the Structural Funds, energy, agriculture and fisheries. I quote the draft resolution at the end:

"That this Assembly considers that Ireland and the United Kingdom's joint membership of the European Community provides an excellent opportunity for further developing the strong economic ties between the two countries; believes that it is in the interests of the people of the whole of Ireland, for the governments in Dublin and London, to deal with the European Community in a spirit of co-operation rather than competition, and calls for a strong commitment by both governments to cross-border initiatives which meet the objectives of the EC Structural Funds".

That is what we have been saying in this House. I hope the House will be able to agree to this proposal. Supporting this motion and the thought which lies behind it is in line with the concept of living and working for Ireland but not shedding blood for Ireland. That is the way forward.

I am glad to inform the House that the Government are withdrawing their amendment. I am delighted at that decision. The motion is being agreed with some amendment. This debate has produced a worthwhile response, which is what Deputy Bruton sought when he introduced the motion. May it be the first of many occasions on which I am on the winning side — one could not be on a better winning side — in this House. All of us are on the winning side this evening.

Following discussion on the part of various people, including the Minister for Finance, I move that, by leave, "the Government amendment be withdrawn".

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:

That Dáil Éireann while recognising the co-operative approach that has existed to date calls on the Government to enter into immediate discussions with the relevant Northern Ireland authorities to a co-ordination of approach for submission to the European Community to avail of the EC Structural Funds for the period 1993-1997 with a view to promoting much more intensive trade between both parts of the island.

Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.