Fianna Fáil warmly welcomes the publication of the Joint Framework Document and supports its final content. The Framework Document is the next major step in the peace process following the Downing Street Declaration, the two ceasefires and the establishment of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. During negotiations for a new agreement we wish to see it amplified in certain directions. We intend to participate fully in the broader political debate and discussions on it. We will judge on its merits any new agreement which emerges from negotiations.We have always maintained that any new agreement, if is to be achieved or to work, must be balanced and even-handed and respond to the ideals and interests of both communities in the North, both traditions on this island and both countries on these islands.
The talks processs which the Framework Document is designed to assist was originally based on the three strand concept laid down by Mr. Peter Brooke when Secretary of State in consultation with the Irish Government in March 1991. It would deal with three sets of relationships, strand one within Northern Ireland, strand two between North and South and strand three between Britain and Ireland. It was a basic principle of the talks that nothing would be agreed until everything was agreed. Northern Nationalists are not prepared to proceed with internal institutions without assurances about the institutions which will reflect the North-South relationship. The Unionists say they are not prepared to proceed with North-South co-operation without constitutional change or the establishment of an assembly. All three strands therefore are interlocking. The Framework Document recognises this reality. Unionists and Nationalists will want to consider together as a balanced whole the Framework Document covering strands two and three in conjunction with the other internal framework published by the British Prime Minister this morning.
The Joint Framework Document in its final form contains no important or substantial variations from the document as we left it. The compromises reached are reasonable and sensible. We may not have achieved everything we sought but the final outcome represents all that we could reasonably expect to achieve at this stage.
There are one or two phrases I would have preferred to be stronger. For instance, I am not sure why paragraph 17 does not read as it did in November: "New arrangements should therefore build on [rather than just be in accordance with] commitments in the Anglo-Irish Agreement and in the Joint Declaration".I regret that the broad category outlining areas for executive action described as "marketing and promotion activities abroad" does not specifically include tourism, the most obvious area for joint endeavour, but its inclusion is meant to be understood. I also regret, as I shall set out in more detail later, that the understanding on constitutional change was not tied up fully. The Tánaiste and Sir Patrick Mayhew at their meeting in mid-November, prior to the break-up of the last Government, intended to refer the matter for final decision to the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister.
Fianna Fáil is proud of the part it played in Government in the formulation of the Framework Document and in elaborating certain of the key concepts within it. We have always held that the two Governments have a duty to lead the way towards a new agreement by setting out for the Northern parties and the people parameters for discussion and negotiation and by providing them with a clear focus on the key points to be addressed and resolved.
The Framework Document represents the considered view of both Governments and, to a large extent, both parliaments on where agreement needs to be found if real potitical progress is to be made. The aim and purpose of the document is to help the parties and the two Governments to arrive at a balanced overall settlement that will underpin and consolidate the peace process and can be endorsed by the people, North and South, in a new act of self-determination, the first on an all-island basis since 1918, although this time concurrently.
This is more than a discussion document and less than a rigid blueprint. Both Governments have put enormous effort into identifying the main issues and realities that require resolution. These will not go away by rejecting a document; they will promptly resurface in any future discussions or negotiations.While the position papers of individual parties will add to the basis for discussion and should be regarded as welcome contributions, I doubt if any individual party would be able to produce such a balanced framework on its own. The two Governments have put forward a coherent view which takes all the necessary elements into consideration in a balanced way. The parties in Northern Ireland should be ready to address all aspects of the problem and not be tempted to try to turn their backs on the realities. A one-sided approach will lead up a blind alley and go nowhere. We have been up that road many times before, for example, with the 1975 Constitutional Convention and the 1982 Prior Assembly. I therefore urge the parties to adopt a positive and constructive approach. Let them take the Framework Document as a basis for discussion and add to or subtract from it or put their own position papers alongside it but there is no point in rejecting it.
Great credit is due to the Irish negotiating team. The Framework Document has been negotiated by the liaison group under the political direction of the Tánaiste and the Secretary of State. When Fianna Fáil was in Government a constitutional working group was established following a bilateral meeting between the then Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister at the European Council in Corfu, answering directly to the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister. It was chaired on the Irish side by the special adviser to the Taoiseach and covered sensitive sections of the Framework Document dealing with the principles of a balanced constitutional accommodation as well as the underlying specifics of change. That work stands, in the latter case, as we left it.
Great credit is due to my predecessor, Deputy Albert Reynolds, in setting out from his first day as Leader of Fianna Fáil the argument for constitutional balance as between Articles 2 and 3 of our Constitution and section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. This was an argument that met with some scepticism at first but it was eventually accepted as a valid basis of discussion by both the British Government and all parties in this House. He also made most of the running in the argument for North-South bodies with executive powers, with the main emphasis being on the mutual economic benefit for North and South. While the Framework Document was 90 per cent complete by the time Fianna Fáil left office on 15 December and required a few weeks intensive work I compliment the Taoiseach, Deputy Bruton, and the Tánaiste for bringing the document to a successful conclusion within a reasonably short period. I also congratulate those dedicated officials who worked with him through all that time.
We all appreciate the difficult political position of the British Prime Minister, John Major. He made a tremendous commitment to the peace process and did not back off the Framework Document following the recent inevitable leaks, despite great political pressure on him from many sides to do so. Mr. Major will enjoy an honoured place in Irish history books for his part in the Downing Street Joint Declaration and the Framework Document. Whatever specific complaints we have from time to time regarding particular actions — or lack of action — by his Government, we in Fianna Fáil acknowledge his statesmanlike contribution to peace in Ireland. He has, on many occasions, risen conspicuously above selfish but nonetheless vital party political interests. We hope he will maintain his Government's commitment to the basic understandings in the Framework Document and that both Governments will continue to work together in partnership to reach the urgently needed agreement that is discernible within its parameters.
The just and lasting peace of which all sides have spoken will transform peoples' lives in Northern Ireland and throughout the island. Progress, even this far, with the peace process is a real achievement for both communities. It is not correct for Government Ministers or spokespersons to downplay what we have at the moment and describe it as a truce or a ceasefire, as if it were merely provisional and contingent. The paramilitaries on both sides and the organisations associated with them made a definitive commitment last autumn to the success of the democratic process. Sinn Féin said this will hold in all circumstances and it would be wrong to suggest that a gun is being held to any-body's head in the process.
The return to normality means it is safe for people to go out in the evenings, to mix more and to open the door to neighbours. It means more economic opportunities and investment in jobs. It promises, over time, an end to the ghetto existence, the removal of the army and army installations and the gradual phased release of prisoners. In a personal sense, it is a promise of freedom.For the community as a whole it is an immense opportunity to transcend the fears and deeply entrenched divisions of the past. Whatever the temporary setbacks, the disagreements, the frustrations and provocations, peace is far too valuable to contemplate going back to the dead-end and destructive violence which cost over 3,000 lives and which created such misery and hopelessness.The democratic path, however difficult, slow and frustrating it may be, offers far greater rewards to all in the long term.
All the parties have a conscientious obligation to contribute to the building of peace. That is why I hope there will be a measured reaction to the Framework Document, in deeds, if not in words. When the people of the North listen in the coming weeks, as they probably will, to negative and warmongering language from any politician, they should ask how much the speaker has personally contributed to the peace process over the past 18 months or indeed to efforts for peace over the past 25 years, and ask if they, the citizens of Northern Ireland, care as little about peace, as the speaker seems to, even if appearances are misleading? Are their political rights and beliefs, despite being fully democratically respected, worth pursuing to the point of resuming the carnage? No side can be comprehensively dismissive of the concerns of the other community. The benefits of peace should not be lightly ignored but the peace cannot be complete, until it is secured by a political settlement.
Unionists should recognise that in the past two years the two Governments have gone a fundamentally different route from the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The Anglo-Irish Agreement imposed institutions and arrangements on the people of Northern Ireland, without their representatives being consulted or involved. The agreement was not open to negotiation. In contrast, in the run-up to the Joint Declaration, the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party, as well as the Loyalist organisations, were informed by a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach in broad terms about the initiative and the views of both were, as far as possible, substantially incorporated and taken into account in the Joint Declaration. With regard to the Framework Document, it represents the joint position of both Governments, but their understanding will not be implemented unless it is incorporated by broad democratic agreement into a new settlement. This time, there is nofait accompli.
There is, therefore, an opportunity for unionists to participate actively in shaping a new agreement. In their absence and without their participation, there can be no new agreement, as recognised by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Reynolds, John Hume and Gerry Adams, when they met in Government buildings last September.
Similarly, the approach today is quite differentvis-à-vis Republicans. The intention of the authors of the Anglo-Irish Agreement was to isolate and defeat them. The Joint Declaration, in contrast, was intended to encourage them in from the cold to the democratic political process, by addressing their core political ideological concerns. The Framework Document, and the wider peace process of which it is part, is intended to provide the basis for a far better life in the most deprived urban areas of Northern Ireland in particular, and it will fail if it does not do that.
We must look at the fundamental issues we face. Why did the troubles arise in the first place? It was because the previous settlement of 1920-21 allowed the nationalist community to be treated systematically like second class citizens for over 50 years and denied, in many cases, their full civil rights. James Connolly predicted, as far back as 1913, that the majority would have scant regard for the rights of the minority left to their mercy, and that partition or exclusion was, for this reason, a proposal that should never have been made. However, if we want to be honest, the troubles equally arose, because all demands for reform were systematically brushed aside as a challenge to the constitutional security of unionists. The lessons that Northern nationalists have drawn from their experience is a determination to claim and enjoy equal citizenship within the North, and never again to allow themselves to be largely isolated from the rest of the people in the island of Ireland. Unionists, on the other hand, have sought removal of the constitutional threat that they believe they face behind every reasonable nationalist demand.
Twenty one years ago the principle of power-sharing was bitterly contested, when Sunningdale was brought down by the Loyalist workers' strike. There has been a considerable evolution in unionist and Loyalist thinking on the internal Government of Northern Ireland in the intervening period. There is a general acceptance that any institutions will have to be based on partnership rather than majority rule. Partnership, equality and parity of esteem are the three main concepts that need to underlie any new Northern Ireland institutions. Peace will not be founded on the restoration of any hegemony.
Partnership and equality can only be built on parity of esteem. At the New Ireland Forum, two weeks ago, a former President of the European Parliament and Dutch Minister, Piet Dankert, spoke of the need for a triple equality in a divided community; equal rights, equal opportunity and equal treatment. Fianna Fáil would like to see all three principles as a concrete expression of parity of esteem contained in any new agreement to be negotiated.
The talks in 1991 and 1992 made considerable progress in the Strand I discussion, which is broadly reflected in the British internal framework document. Our attitude as politicians is that internal arrangements are mainly a matter for the Northern Ireland parties and the British Government, even though under Article 4 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement we have the right to put forward views and proposals. I am sure the nationalists parties in the North will analyse the British Government document closely and ensure that adequate safeguards against a return to majority rule are provided in any new agreement. They will have our full support in that regard.
While not fleshed out in the Framework Document, reform of the police, the courts and of emergency legislation are bound to become an important part of the negotiations from now on.
Many unionists have difficulty recognising that the logic of equality and partnership within the North also extends to relationships outside the North. While their right to maintain constitutional links to Britain is recognised as long as a majority so wish, there is an extreme reluctance to accept formal institutional links between North and South, even where the case for greater North-South economic co-operation is acknowledged. This is the main reason for the so far somewhat negative attitude of some Unionists to the Framework Document.
They seem to forget that North-South institutions were an integral part of the deal that established partition. I would like to quote from the third volume of Ian Colvin's "Life of Lord Carson" which describes what it calls the Carsonian plan:
The exclusion of the Six Counties ...was to be accompanied by a Council of Ireland to be composed of two delegations, consisting on the one hand, of all the Members returned to Westminster from the excluded area, and on the other, of a delegation equal in numbers from the Irish Parliament.
By a majority of votes in each area, the Council would exercise legislative power affecting both areas, or extend to the Six Counties by agreement any Act of the Irish Parliament, and "even agree to the inclusion, under the Home Rule Act, of the whole of Ireland subject to the consent of the majority of the voters in the excluded area". Carson's idea was to tell the Ulstermen they could stand out, until they should see it was to their advantage to go in "and at the same time create a general Council which would bring all Irishmen together for Ireland's good". This scheme was subsequently incorporated in the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 and carried over into the Treaty, but it was stillborn.It was later revived as part of the Sunningdale arrangements. The idea of concurrent self-determination contained in the Downing Street Declaration and the structure of the new joint body corresponds closely to his idea of how the Council of Ireland would operate.
The statue of Sir Edward Carson, arms outstretched, lies before the Stormont Parliament, as the founding father of Northern Ireland. Can we not all on this island find inspiration in one of the most constructive suggestions to emanate from the fount of 20th-century unionism?
Was there not always an interest, North as well as South, in maintaining islandwide economic links? Belfast never again enjoyed after partition its status and reputation as the industrial capital of Ireland, which it enjoyed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The question of North-South economic co-operation will not go away. Back in 1959 the Minister for Commerce in the North, Lord Glentoran, proposed to his cabinet colleagues a North-South common market. Captain O'Neill and Seán Lemass explored the possibilities of co-operation in the 1960s. It was an important part of Sunningdale in the 1970s. Since then, such co-operation has been conducted under the auspices of the various Anglo-Irish committees and conferences. Indeed, the Anglo-Irish Agreement conducts such necessary co-operation, in the absence of a willingness by Unionists to participate in it. Both parts of the small island suffer from the relative lack of institutionalised co-operation and inhibitions about it on both sides. The Governments, or better still the Dáil and the Assembly, have to give a lead. Unionists object to the initial bodies being established under Westminster legislation. Their own policy documentA Practical Approach to Problem-Solving in Northern Ireland, from which the Taoiseach has quoted many times, explains why such establishment under Westminster legislation is necessary where strand two North-South institutions are long-fingered and only hinted at vaguely.
If nationalists are expected to accept and participate fully in Northern Ireland institutions, then there has to be some corresponding commitment on the part of unionists to North-South institutions. Nor could it be the position that all co-operation would have to collapse if institutions in the North collapsed. That is not the position at present, nor was it the position in 1972, when the Lough Foyle Fisheries Commission established by the Stormont Parliament and the Dáil 20 years previously continued with its work, as it does to the present. Obviously, if co-operation is to be effective, a number of sectoral bodies will need to be set up to deal with specific areas, and this is provided for in the Framework Document.
Naturally, Fianna Fáil would have preferred a bolder and more definite approach by the two Governments to the subjects to be covered initially by North-South institutions, the scope and extent of which had not been fully settled at the time we left office.
I attach great importance, as I have said in recent speeches, to the European dimension. My last action as Minister for Finance was to attend the Council which agreed the European Union support package for the peace process for Northern Ireland and the Border counties.The body will be responsible for the implementation of joint European Union programmes. I would like to see the development of flexible arrangements for representation of joint interests by the Irish Government in the European Union, with of course the support and understanding of the British Government. If the Germans and the French have proposals to appoint a person to each other's cabinets, then it is surely no derogation of sovereignty to attach an Irish delegate from the North on occasion to the Irish delegation, and perhaps an Irish delegate from the South on occasion to the British one, to represent specific joint interests. This requires more discussion and more flexibility, which is very much in the character of the modern European Union. We value our sovereignty as much as anyone else, but we are not so hung up on it that we would allow it to impede fruitful co-operation. We have never had other than a positive attitude to the European Union.
Decisions on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland are vested in the people of Northern Ireland. But what is being discussed on foot of the Framework Document has as its core an agreement covering relations within Ireland. It is what the Joint Declaration endorses approvingly as "any measure of agreement on future relationships in Ireland which the people living in Ireland may themselves freely so determine without external impediment". The challenge posed by the Joint Declaration, which Ulster unionists in principle accepted, was "to see peace, stability and reconciliation established by agreement among all the people who inhabit the island", such agreement to enhance the totality of relationships.
We recognise that unionist fear of the nationalist majority on the island as a whole runs deep, the fear that unionists could be coerced into a united Ireland against their will. The Downing Street Declaration has helped bring about the situation, where attempted violent coercion has ceased and where political coercion is equally repudiated. Unionists should now accept that for the first time the threat of coercion has been removed, provided that the rights of nationalists are fully respected in future. We need no longer claim that a nationalist majority on the island represented by this State still has or should have an admittedly theoretical claim of right to exercise jurisdiction over the people of Northern Ireland, whether they consent or not. If we are to reflect that in our Constitution, it can only be as part of what the late John Kelly called "a new dispensation", which has the agreement and consent of Northern nationalists.
Self-determination and consent are linked concepts that balance each other. Consent is a two way process. The Irish people could not endorse partition in 1920, exceptde facto. They could not be reasonably asked to accept the practice of discrimination under majority rule. Nor could the crown colony style of direct rule from Britain over the past 20 years be regarded as something the Irish people could be reasonably asked to legitimise fully. But in the Joint Declaration, the Taoiseach confirmed that: “in the event of an overall settlement, the Irish Government will, as part of a balanced constitutional accommodation, put forward and support proposals for change in the Irish Constitution which would fully reflect the principle of consent in Northern Ireland”. Fianna Fáil is prepared to support the honouring of that commitment, assuming the other conditions are satisfied. It is our contribution to facilitating the achievement of a new agreement and to overcoming unionist fears.
Acceptance of the principle of consent is not a new one. It was implicit at least in the rejection of coercion by most of the leaders of the independence struggle. As the Supreme Court pointed out in 1990, consent is consistent with Article 29 of the Constitution with its commitment to the peaceful settlement of international disputes. The consent principle, contained in the Sunningdale Agreement, was accepted in the communiques of the Anglo-Irish framework in the 1980 summits between Charles Haughey and Margaret Thatcher, which 11 years before the three stranded talks, were built around the totality of relationships. Consent was formally incorporated in the Anglo-Irish Agreement.As a new development, self-determination and consent were the twin pillars of the Downing Street Declaration.In other words, successive Governments and all parties in the Dáil have long ago renounced the idea that their will, representing the majority on the island, could be imposed on the people of Northern Ireland against their consent. It is reasonable, as part of an overall settlement, that the understanding should be incorporated in our Constitution.
As I have stated, the solution to our problems lies in the context of resolving three sets of relationships between our traditions, within Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between Great Britain and Ireland.
The three stranded process is the agreed method of resolving these difficulties, and the guarantee of both Governments that there will be inclusive talks is adherence to the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
It is in that context, and for the purpose of achieving an overall and comprehensive settlement that will underpin the peace process, that Fianna Fáil would be prepared to recommend certain balanced constitutional amendments on the clear understanding of substantive and reciprocal change in British constitutional law.
The Constitution, as it stands, draws a distinction between the nation and the State. Other partitioned countries, notably Germany, China and Korea, have adopted, as a means of easing tensions and facilitating co-operation, a doctrine of one nation, two States or, in our case, two jurisdictions. The Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt was a constructive and very productive policy.
Maintaining the integrity of the nation as set out in Article 2 is vital. We were not prepared to accept a 26 county based definition of the Irish nation which would exclude Northern nationalists.Anyone born on this island or of Irish parentage is entitled to be regarded as a member of the Irish nation, regardless of borders. Equally, we are committed to the idea of one nation, in Tone's words: "a substituting for Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter the common name of Irishman". That is our ideal, even if not everyone accepts it.
When we were in Government we proposed that there should be a more pluralist definition of the nation, that explicitly recognised the existence of different identities and traditions. At the same time, our citizenship laws do not force anyone in the North who does not want it to accept Irish citizenship. Equally, we could not ask any Nationalist, North or South, to accept the proposition that Armagh, Antrim or Down or the other counties are no longer Irish as far as we are concerned. It is another matter to claim that the whole island is or should be under the jurisdiction of 26 county State institutions. It is universally accepted now that the people of the North cannot be coerced into a united Ireland. There is a good argument for saying that our Constitution should not appear to say otherwise.
Northern republicans refer constantly to the "Dublin Government". Even they do not recognise it as the Irish Government of a 32 county Republic. In Northern parlance, the Dublin Government is the Government of the Free State, not of the island as a whole. The basis to which we strongly held in discussions with the British Government was that Article 2 defining the national territory would be maintained, with an addendum making it clear that it "is the shared inheritance of all the people of Ireland in their diverse identities and traditions", in other words that our definition of the nation was a pluralist one.
We considered it reasonable in the context of an overall settlement and a balanced constitutional accommodation to incorporate the principles of self-determination and consent into our Constitution, and to accept that a united Ireland, which remains a primary legitimate national objective, can only be brought about in a spirit of concord, reconciliation by agreement and consent, achieved concurrently.
If our Constitution were no longer to contain what is described in the Framework Document as "a territorial claim of right by the State to jurisdiction over Northern Ireland contrary to the will of a majority of its people", it was reasonable that we should ask the British to do the same. Prime Minister John Major suggested at a bilateral meeting in Brussels last year that both countries should give up their territorial claims to sovereignty over Northern Ireland. It was also agreed that constitutional law on both sides should reflect the up to date agreements and international commitments entered into by both countries.
Section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 which established partition, now reads:
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the supreme authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters and things in Ireland and every part thereof.
Given that under the 1949 Act this State had ceased to be part of "his Majesty's Dominions", the survival on the Statute Book of language of supremacy over all of Ireland may sound strange, but then the Act of Union was not repealed until a few years ago. The 1973 Northern Ireland Constitution Act, Article 1, which some claim is the more up to date legal position, contains both a territorial claim and a negative consent clause. It states:
It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland remains part of Her Majesty's Dominions and of the United Kingdom, and it is hereby affirmed that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part of it cease to be part of Her Majesty's Dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland....
To say that Northern Ireland will not cease to be part of her Majesty's Dominions without the consent of a majority of the people is not quite the same as a clear commitment, that it will so cease with the consent of a majority, which is nearer to the commitment in Article 1 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Joint Declaration to legislate for Irish unity, if a majority so wish. So the 1973 Act also needs to be updated. We had an understanding with the British negotiators that the 1920 Act would be amended or repealed and that the new legislation would be introduced making it clear that the people of Northern Ireland had the freedom, unhampered by any selfish British strategic or economic interest, to determine Northern Ireland's future constitutional status, whether to continue in the Union or concurrently with the people of the South to become eventually part of a united Ireland.
In our Constitution, the Irish people, not the State, are sovereign. Pádraig Pearse wrote a famous pamphlet entitled "The Sovereign People". As a result of balanced constitutional change, ultimate sovereignty on whether to remain in the Union or join a united Ireland will also be vested in the people of the North. I was very glad to hear the British Prime Minister this morning say that the future of Northern Ireland was irrevocably vested in the wishes of a majority of its people. Provided that is translated clearly and unambiguously into British constitutional law, following an overall agreement, we will have no complaint. British territorial sovereignty over Northern Ireland will be gone. We will have helped to place sovereignty unequivocally in the hands of the people. Concurrent self-determination, by the people of Ireland, North and South, or, in other words, simultaneous referenda, will provide popular ratification of any new agreement governing relations in Ireland, establish a new dispensation and, perhaps some time in the future, bring into being a united Ireland by agreement and consent. The decision to remain under United Kingdom jurisdiction is a matter for the people in the North to decide.
In indicating or preparedness to take these steps, if they would help consolidate a new dispensation that would have the consent of all sections of the community in the North, Fianna Fáil have shown political vision and courage. It would resolve any preceived problems created by the Supreme Court judgment in 1990 and do away with the suggestion that there is some Constitutional imperative to absorb the North into our State, albeit by peaceful means. We wish to retain in our Constitution a strong commitment to the ideal of a united Ireland brought about by agreement and consent but that will not prevent us in the meantime from seeking an agreed Ireland between unionists and nationalists, republicans and loyalists.We will insist on retaining in our Constitution the ideals of a modern, democratic, Irish republicanism that have meaning but which threaten no one. Irredentist claims will be gone. Fianna Fáil prospered politically down the decades by being principled yet pragmatic. Our very foundation as a democratic party came about, because we refused to confine ourselves to and continue with a sterile doctrinaire approach that was harmful to our fledgling democracy.
Constitutional change on either side may or may not be strictly necessary from a legal point of view but we can accept the argument that it is very desirable from a political point of view, as a means of building confidence. As regards the right of the Irish Government to intervene on behalf of nationalists in the North as enshrined in the Anglo-Irish agreement, that right under international law derives from the extent of the nation also defined in the Constitution, not from the contested claim to jurisdiction by the State.
No doubt, there are unionists who would wish us to go further but we are entitled to express our ideals in our Constitution and if it is not legitimate for nationalists to wish to see Ireland reunited or to regard every county in Ireland as Irish, then the nationalist identity itself is illegitimate. We are prepared to recognise that this island belongs to people of diverse identities and traditions, to unionist as well as nationalist and to place no compulsion on them to live in the same State or under the same jurisdiction without the consent of a majority in the North.
The Framework Document, as published, is fully consistent with the advanced state of our understanding with the British Government when we left office. We do not believe the people need or should be asked to go further. I want to make it absolutely clear to the House today that nobody outside, or anybody participating in the future in this debate will get it wrong — Fianna Fáil do not intend to ask them to go any further now or in the foreseeable future.