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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 2 May 2001

Vol. 535 No. 2

An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú is Fiche ar an mBunreacht, 2001: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha. Twenty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 2001: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Before Committee Stage commences I wish to deal with a procedural matter relating to Bills to amend the Constitution. The substance of the debate on Committee Stage relates to the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment contained in the Schedule to the Bill. The sections of the Bill are merely technical. Therefore, in accordance with long standing practice the sections are postponed until consideration of the Schedule has been completed. I understand there is general agreement to this proposal. In accordance with Standing Order 114 consideration of sections 1 and 2 of the Bill will be postponed until the Schedule has been disposed of. Is that agreed? Agreed.



Tairgim leasú a 1:

I gCuid 1, leathanach 7, líne 6, i ndiaidh "a dhaingniú", an méid seo a leanas a chur isteach:

", faoi réir teacht ar chomhaontú, a bheidh ina cheangal dlí agus lena mbeidh éifeacht láithreach, le cinn Stáit agus Rialtais AE, ina sonrófar mar a leanas:

‘Ní bhíonn Éire rannpháirteach i ndréachtú agus cur chun feidhme cinntí agus gníomhaíochtaí de chuid an Aontais a bhfuil impleachtaí cosanta acu, ach ní choiscfidh sí forbairt ar chomhar níos dlúithe idir Ballstáit sa réimse sin. Dá bhrí sin, ní bheidh Éire rannpháirteach i nglacadh na mbeart sin. Ní dhéanfaidh Éire rannchuidiú le maoiniú an chaiteachais oibríochtúil a thig ó na bearta sin.',

agus faoi réir Prótacal chuige sin a chur ag gabháil leis an gcéad Chonradh AE eile,",


i gCuid 2, leathanach 7, líne 16, i ndiaidh "2001", an méid seo a leanas a cur isteach:

", subject to a legally binding agreement, with immediate effect, being reached with the EU heads of State and Government, stating that:

‘Ireland does not participate in the elaboration and implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications, but will not prevent the development of closer co-operation between member states in this area. Therefore, Ireland shall not participate in their adoption. Ireland shall not contribute to the financing of the operational expenditure arising from such measures.',

and a Protocol to that effect being attached to the next EU Treaty.

I move amendment No. 1:

In Part 1, page 6, line 6, after "a dhaingniú" to insert the following:

", faoi réir teacht ar chomhaontú, a bheidh ina cheangal dlí agus lena mbeidh éifeacht láithreach, le cinn Stáit agus Rialtais AE, ina sonrófar mar a leanas:

‘Ní bhíonn Éire rannpháirteach i ndréachtú agus cur chun feidhme cinntí agus gníomhaíochtaí de chuid an Aontais a bhfuil impleachtaí cosanta acu, ach ní choiscfidh sí forbairt ar chomhar níos dlúithe idir Ballstáit sa réimse sin. Dá bhrí sin, ní bheidh Éire rannpháirteach i nglacadh na mbeart sin. Ní dhéanfaidh Éire rannchuidiú le maoiniú an chaiteachais oibríochtúil a thig ó na bearta sin.',

agus faoi réir Prótacal chuige sin a chur ag gabháil leis an gcéad Chonradh AE eile,",


in Part 2, page 6, line 16, after "2001" to insert the following:

", subject to a legally binding agreement, with immediate effect, being reached with the EU heads of State and Government, stating that:

‘Ireland does not participate in the elaboration and implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications, but will not prevent the development of closer co-operation between member states in this area. Therefore, Ireland shall not participate in their adoption. Ireland shall not contribute to the financing of the operational expenditure arising from such measures.',

and a Protocol to that effect being attached to the next EU Treaty.

I am well aware this is a cumbersome article to insert in the Constitution. I am also aware it deals only with one issue and the Nice Treaty involves many different issues to which I alluded in my Second Stage contribution. It is a parliamentary device to encourage debate and, above all else, I am anxious that there be debate in this House. It is important that we engage the public because Nice means nothing for many of them. I would hazard a guess that if one were to ask people which they had more interest in, the Leeds United match or a debate on the Nice Treaty, many would opt for the former. I dread to think of what the turnout will be in the referendum on 7 June. A turnout of less than 30% will mean we have a serious problem.

I believe the direction in which the EU is heading is wrong and that it is alienating people. Fewer people will participate in EU referenda or take an interest in the development of the EU. In effect, the European Union is now based on the twin pillars of bureaucracy and industrialism. That leaves ordinary people far behind. Unfortunately, we will see the manifestation of this in the rise of the political right and in the alienation of certain sectors. We have already seen it in the May Day demonstrations where people give vent to their powerlessness and anger against what they see as corporate greed. They see the corporations taking over the European Union.

Some of the Minister's officials might recognise a degree of plagiarism in this amendment. They would be correct because I borrowed heavily from the Danish protocol. Members will remember that the Danes, in 1992, had the temerity to reject the Maastricht Treaty. I recall watching the ashen faced Tommy Gorman report it on RTE; he could not understand how the Danes could do such a thing. I was asked at the meeting the other day what would happen if there were a "No" vote on 7 June. I believe there would be another referendum and further referenda until the result was the right one. One must ask if that is real democracy as well. To what extent do the people have a say?

The Danes achieved a concession. There was a negotiated settlement among the Heads of State which resulted in the attachment of a protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty. The Minister might argue, correctly, that the Danes are members of NATO. However, this raises another interesting debate within the EU, the tension between those who wish to take the NATO route and the traditional leftists who envisage the EU developing in a different way in that they wish it to move away from NATO and develop a strictly EU identity in terms of defence.

I sought to intervene during the Minister's reply on Second Stage earlier today. The question I wished to ask the Minister – it is a question I asked during my contribution on Second Stage which I had hoped he would answer – is why the Finns and the Swedes no longer describe themselves as neutral. Why does NATO refer to the Finns, Swedes, Irish and Austrians as the former neutrals? Why does it refer to us as simply non-aligned? The Minister and every Member of this House knows the answers to these fundamental questions.

Our neutrality has become a sham. It is something that is regularly trotted out, to the extent that it has become a mantra. It is part of the so-called neutral White Paper, which claims there will be no infringement of our neutral status. This is down to the Fianna Fáil Party, which appears to be infinitely flexible and adaptable when adopting these positions. I recall the Minister being asked, on the "Questions and Answers" programme, to describe the ideology of the Fianna Fáil Party. He said—

The Deputy is wandering away from the substance of the amendment.

He is making a Second Stage speech.

I remind the Deputy that this is Committee Stage, not Second Stage. The Deputy should be brief.

I am well aware of that. This is a fundamental point. The Minister said Fianna Fáil was a pragmatic party of the centre. One could travel the length and breadth of Europe or through the applicant countries but one would not find another political party which would describe itself as a pragmatic party of the centre.

That is not in any way related to the amendment.

It is. I am trying to convey the message that for too long this Government has put forward the line that Ireland is a neutral country. Fianna Fáil has put forward its credentials as a party that is defending Irish neutrality but that does not stand up to scrutiny.

Earlier the Minister described me as half hysterical. During the debate on Partnership for Peace the Members on the Government benches said, when they were in Opposition, that they wished to defend Irish neutrality. However, they adopted a different line when they got into Government. When they refer to me being half hysterical they should consider the person who wrote the Taoiseach's speech on Partnership for Peace which the Taoiseach delivered when he was on the Opposition benches. He said the French would be in Killala, the Spanish would be in Bantry Bay, the Germans would be on Banna Strand and the British would be in the Curragh. I have never descended to those histrionics.

I will quote Roger in a minute.

We can all quote scripture for our own purposes. There was one line from the Fianna Fáil Party when it was in Opposition but it was quickly dispensed with when that party got into Government. It is a sham.

I want the Minister to answer my questions on Partnership for Peace. Recently Deputy Gregory and I were invited to NATO headquarters in Brussels. We asked a number of questions about Partnership for Peace. We asked if it was a stepping stone towards NATO. The answer was clear: "Of course it is". They also said that Partnership for Peace was the saviour of NATO. However, I can recall the denials in this Chamber and the accusations that we were being over the top and hysterical. As the Minister might recall, we were told that as Ireland had signed the Amsterdam Treaty and embraced the Petersberg Tasks, signing up to Partnership for Peace was inevitable. We are getting the same type of answers today from this Minister.

The Minister also speaks about the requirement for a UN mandate. Perhaps he would clear up another confusion in this regard. He claims that Irish legislation demands that there be a UN mandate. However, Deputy Michael Higgins will recall a recent newspaper article of his in which he clearly pointed out that the European rapid reaction force was not established under the UN. Therefore, a UN mandate is not required. Is the Minister seriously telling the House that he would go to Herr Fischler and say: "Sorry, we cannot go there because the Russians are objecting"? It is a ludicrous position. I do not believe the Minister can go to the Irish people with a straight face and claim a UN mandate will be required. This is also alluded to in the White Paper.

If people reflect on the debate on the Amsterdam Treaty, they will recall that arguments in relation to European defence commitments which alluded to the fact that we would be sucked into greater militarisation were also dismissed.

Yet there was no mention by those on the opposite benches that this would involve a 60,000 strong European rapid reaction force operating up to 4,000 km from EU borders. There was no mention of that yet here we are, involved in it. It is worth looking at the military implications of the annexes, which are seldom quoted.

Article 1.5 of the Nice Treaty establishes a new EU institution referred to as the political and security committee which will exercise "political control and strategic direction of crisis management operations" and will direct military interventions during a crisis, including the waging of war. It is to be supported by an elaborate military-bureaucratic euro-Pentagon structure set out in the annexes to the Presidency report, which is referred to in the first declaration attached to the Nice Treaty.

These run to 33 pages with seven annexes detailing the new EU military capabilities, the working of the political and security committee, the EU military committee and military staff organisation. Annex 7 contains details of "standing arrangements for consultation and co-operation between the EU and NATO". This includes the possibility of command of an EU operation being put in the hands of NATO.

The vast majority of Deputies, I suspect, have never seen these annexes, which show clearly the relationship between the EU and NATO. It is worth quoting from them to show what is involved and to show those who are interested in this debate the clear involvement of NATO. It states that in order to avoid unnecessary duplication it will, for the member states concerned, rely on technical data emanating from existing NATO mechanisms such as the defence planning process and the planning review process, or PARP. Recourse to these resources would be had with the support of the EU military staff, EUMS, via consultations between experts in a working group set up on the same model as that which operated for the drawing up of the HDF capabilities catalogue.

The annex goes on to state that in addition, exchange of information and transparency would be appropriately ensured between the Union and NATO by the working group on capabilities set up between the two organisations, which would take steps to ensure the coherent development of EU and NATO capabilities where they overlap.

That is very clear. Again, to quote—

While the Deputy's remarks may be relevant to the debate—

I certainly think they are.

—he should address them to the text of his amendment.

This is a Second Stage speech.

These are very relevant because we are becoming involved in deeper military integration. That is very clear and my amendment states that I do not want that to happen to this country. I hope the Chair understands that.

The Deputy said something similar in the debate on the Amsterdam Treaty.

His forebears said the same in 1972.

That is a valid point and I am glad we are engaged in debate. The Deputy should trace this back to the Maastricht Treaty, where we had the eventual framing of a common defence and security policy and from there to the Amsterdam Treaty, which involved the progressive framing of a common defence and security policy. Now what do we have? We have the full integration of the Western European Union into the EU. I thank the Deputies for raising that matter.

Regarding relations with NATO, the arrangements concerning transparency, co-operation and dialogue between the Union and NATO should be set out in the document on permanent arrangements between the Union and NATO. The evaluation mechanism is to take account of the following additional principles – the need for the countries concerned to ensure the compellability of the commitments taken on in the EU framework with the force goals accepted in the framework of the NATO defence planning process or PARP as well as the need for mutual reinforcement of the Union's capability goals and those arising for the countries concerned from the defence capabilities initiative.

Again I ask the Deputy to refer to the text of his amendment. I am ruling that the Deputy is making a Second Stage speech.

I will not quote further from that but I could quote from those 33 pages all night. It is abundantly clear to any fair-minded person or objective viewer that there is a link there. For people to deny that this involves the militarisation of the EU is misleading. Those on the Government benches are trying to dupe the Irish public and tell them not to worry and that everything is all right. My amendment seeks to ensure that does not happen.

If we adopt this amendment we can go a different route. The route I suggest is one in which we have a very proud history, the area of peacekeeping. Our stint in the Lebanon is coming to an end. If we adopt this—

On a point of order, a number of Deputies, myself included, have questions we wish to raise on aspects of the Schedule. Deputy Gormley has taken more time now than was available on Second Stage for individual Deputies. He has been speaking for almost 20 minutes on the amendment.

That is not really a point of order but I have ruled that Deputy Gormley has been making a Second Stage speech rather than addressing his remarks to the amendment.

He is getting more time than individual Deputies got on Second Stage. We want to raise points on the Schedule.

I am quite entitled to speak and I am quite within my rights and within Standing Orders. I can continue to speak.

It is the managed democracy where 2% occupy 50% of the time.

Do you mind—

I remind the Deputy—

—I am the Member in possession.

I want to make a point to the Deputy. He is not the one who decides order in the House. The Chair decides order.

Absolutely. That is right. I appreciate that.

Managed democracy.

The point I am trying to get across is that we have a proud record in relation to UN peacekeeping.

And peace enforcement.

Hold on—

Irish soldiers shed their blood in the Congo.

Deputy Gormley, without interruption.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I hope I get the protection of the Chair.

The Deputy is misleading the House and the Irish people.

Unfortunately, we are withdrawing our troops from the Lebanon and transferring that commitment to the EU rapid reaction force instead. Ireland is also committed to the UN standby arrangement system to provide up to 850 personnel on overseas service at any given time. However, this is the same 850 we have also committed to the EU rapid reaction force. The Government's White Paper on defence indicated that it intended to maintain the UNSAS, the UN standby arrangement system, "for the present". It appears that our rapid reaction commitments will win out. I have no doubt about that and it is worrying that Ireland may now be rowing in behind the trend away from UN service. The UN Brahimi report, published last August, is very relevant to my amendment. It states that many member states are saying "no" to deploying formed military units to UN-led peacekeeping operations far more often than they are saying "yes". In contrast to the long tradition of developed countries providing the bulk of the troops for UN peacekeeping operations during the organisation's first 50 years, in the recent years 77% of the troops in formed military units deployed on UN peacekeeping operations as of end June 2000 were contributed by developing countries. Deputy Higgins has referred to this on many occasions.

The report, while acknowledging the stability work carried out by NATO-led operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo – what I would term a shotgun wedding between the UN and NATO, a most unsuitable match – states it is still the case that in many proposed UN operations, "developed States tend not to see strategic national interest at stake".

I again draw Deputy Gormley's attention to the fact that he is making a Second Stage speech which is not addressing the wording of his motion.

The Chair has ruled that it is not, and I ask the Deputy to address his remarks to the text of his amendment, or else resume his seat.

That would be regrettable, a Leas Cheann Comhairle, as I believe I have a right to speak as an elected representative.

Every one of us has been elected.

The Deputy has a right to speak but he does not have the right to make a Second Stage speech at the moment.

My amendment says that Ireland does not participate in the elaboration and implementation of decisions and actions of the Union. I suggest that we use this opportunity to promote UN peacekeeping, which is a proud tradition of this country. We should not spend taxpayers' money to strengthen the EU's defence capability. If one follows the line of Jacques Delors and Jacques Chirac, tax revenue from this country will be spent on defence once a fully fledged European defence union is in place. Is that what Irish taxpayers want? It is another reason I have tabled this amendment.

The Brahimi report from which I quoted is very relevant to my amendment as it emphasises that the failures of the UN are far outweighed by its successes and that most of its failures can be attributed to the Security Council. I anticipate that many people will say that the UN has failed but I wish to clearly state that the UN has not failed when one takes finance and resources into account. Quoting from the Brahimi report once more: "few of the basic building blocks are in place for the United Nations to rapidly acquire and deploy the human and material resources required to mount any complex peace operation in the future". A dependable supply of resources is not available, so I believe that we must channel our resources and energies in that direction.

I am quite aware that within Fianna Fáil, over the years, there has been a debate between the Seán Lemass and Frank Aiken wings of the party. Mr. Lemass did not have much time for Mr. Aiken, which was a pity, but I am firmly on the side of the Aikenites, if they can be so called. I would like to speak on this at greater length, but the Chair seems to be quite severe tonight. Perhaps I will get another opportunity to speak and I would like to hear from other Deputies.

Deputy Gormley has spoken for half an hour, as if he was making an initial Second Stage speech. He has forgotten that there are other Members waiting to speak who are not from the Green Party.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle has intervened on a number of occasions so I will conclude, although there are a number of other issues that I would like to address. I have confined myself to this amendment, but there are other aspects of the Treaty I could have spoken about.

I am glad to have the opportunity to say a few words on this amendment, which I do not support. I agree with some of Deputy Gormley's remarks, if not with the length of time it took him to make them. I am delighted we have only a brief period for Committee Stage. Deputy Gormley was quite right when he said it is important to engage the public and I agree with him fully, but how best to engage the public should be further discussed. There is no time for a detailed debate on the issue of neutrality although the topic is raised from time to time by those who are anti-Europe.

That is ridiculous as I am not anti-Europe.

That makes a change.

Good. Let me pin my colours to the mast by saying that I am of the Lemass school on this issue. Thirty years ago he said that a Europe that is worth joining is worth defending and I agree with him, although that is not the issue. I do not believe that our neutrality, such as it is, is affected by developments in the European Union. Let us be blunt and admit that our neutrality is based on the fact that we did not join NATO and I do not believe we should join NATO now. Anything we do in the European Union will not propel us into joining NATO anyway, so where is the beef? Fine Gael has advocated joining the Partnership for Peace from the beginning, as it is in no way a stepping stone to NATO.

That is what they said in NATO headquarters.

Deputy Gormley has had a long innings and a number of Members are waiting to speak.

I wish to make clear that the basis on which Fine Gael originally advocated joining the Partnership for Peace was that every other country in Europe had done so, other than Tajikistan or Kazakhstan or a country in that region. We did not advocate joining the Partnership for Peace because we were interested in Ireland becoming a member of NATO, nor did most of the other non-NATO countries who have signed up to the Partnership for Peace. In the context of the debate that is necessary on the Treaty of Nice, it is important we ensure that peripheral issues which are not connected to the Treaty are not cited as a reason to encourage people to vote against it.

I respect Deputy Gormley's position of advocating a vote against this treaty and I imagine he voted against previous treaties as well. His position is a little odd, however, in light of the position of the European Green Party but he is entitled to his view and I respect that. The debate must centre on the facts and we must not introduce issues which have nothing to do with the Treaty of Nice. My concern is to implore everybody to debate the issues as they are, including whether or not we are interested in enlargement, whether we want the treaty and whether we want to put institutions in place to facilitate enlargement. The central issue is whether we want to be the member state that blocks enlargement.

The Treaty of Nice is essentially a housekeeping exercise to allow enlargement; it has nothing to do with NATO, neutrality or militarism.

That is crazy.

My concern is that it would be wrong to mislead the public and as elected representatives, we have a duty to ensure that the debate centres on the facts and not fiction.

I have given the facts.

My concluding plea is that we debate the facts of this case as they are.

I am concerned about this amendment as I fear it is a harbinger of how Deputy Gormley and his political associates will approach the public debate on this matter when it is submitted to the judgment of the people. It is quite clear from a careful analysis of the treaty that Ireland is not entering a single additional international security obligation that had not been entered into following the Amsterdam Treaty. That is clear to anyone who examines the treaty but it seems a scare campaign regarding Irish neutrality is to be mounted once again. Such a campaign was undertaken upon our entry to the EEC in 1972, during the debate on the Single European Act in the late 1980s, the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 and is surfacing once more.

We now have a European rapid reaction force.

Deputy Gormley must allow Deputy Brian Lenihan to conclude without interruption.

Deputy Gormley spoke for half an hour, so fair is fair.

This latest scare campaign will be mounted by Deputy Gormley and his associates who have no interest in the well-being of this country or the well-being of the people of European countries who wish to accede to the EU. The Deputy is interested solely in finding an argument to peddle a little publicity mileage for himself—

It is disgraceful.

—by making a spurious case against a treaty to appear to be political odd man out and thereby attract a few votes. His case is devoid of rational argument. I must deal with the reference that was made to the ideology of Fianna Fáil, in particular the alleged existence of wings within the party postulated by various former members. The fundamental doctrine of my party is that its members act in the best interests of the country.

The Deputy is wandering a little from the substance of the amendment.

He should keep his remarks on the plain of reality.

Deputy Gormley was allowed to wander a great deal.

I stuck rigidly to the amendment.

Fianna Fáil acted in the best interests of the country and was not afraid of collective security arrangements in the 1930s. The party was not afraid of neutrality during the war years, and always acts in the best interests of the country in its international engagements. This amendment attempts to fetter the Government by putting a clause into the Constitution to prevent it from acting in our best interests.

In relation to this amendment, the Government has made it clear that any operations we engage in under our European Treaty arrangements will be done under a United Nations mandate.

He should give us all a break.

We had to listen to Deputy Gormley. That remains the stated policy of the Government. I am also concerned at the disrespect shown to deceased members of the Defence Forces by the Green Party in this debate.

I would ask Deputy Gormley to resume his seat.

He is showing disrespect. The Deputy should never accuse me of anything like that.

If you will allow me to develop the point, I will explain.

Deputy Lenihan, I would ask you to address your remarks through the Chair.

In this debate reference is constantly made to our honourable tradition in peacekeeping.

Absolutely. I respect that also.

We also have an honourable tradition in peace-enforcement under the United Nations mandate. We engaged in a peace-enforcement mission under the United Nations mandate. That is not referred to in the propaganda peddled by those who oppose this Treaty, that there was a peace-enforcement mission carried out under United Nations—

Under the UN, yes.

—and nothing will be done by the Government under this Treaty which does not have that full UN cover. That is what I am talking about because Deputy Gormley consistently conceals from the Irish public the fact that we did engage in peace-enforcement.

No. We supported peace-enforcement in this House when they went off to East Timor.

Deputy Gormley, allow Deputy Lenihan to continue without interruption.

This amendment does not protect our people or give the Government the powers it must have to protect our international position in the varying circumstances of the age.

I hope that the debate which takes place publicly will be informative, that it will elicit information and different ideas, and that it will be less characterised by heat. I welcome the issues which have been raised by Deputy Gormley as a contribution to a debate which is vitally necessary.

There is no point in slotting parties into particular positions or stating that they are governed by periods of time in so far as the circumstances to which the Nice Treaty is directed – we are not speaking about the Treaty in totality here but this amendment – are ones which have new characteristics. For example, it is accepted by most thoughtful people that there is a crisis of governance in Europe and that parallel to that crisis, which would include the involvement of citizens, is a crisis of economic accountability. This raises the issue of the difference, which people who debate the Nice Treaty speak about, between a vastly increased integrated economic block and a Europe which will be increased by the arrival of the accession countries.

However, there is one point on which agreement has emerged in the debate on this amendment, that is, that we should never again be in a position of concluding the legislative process which will facilitate a referendum about Europe in such a state of unpreparedness. Most of the issues which have been thrown up by Deputy Gormley will remain issues until 2003/2004. I would repeat the proposal by the leader of the Labour Party on Second Stage of the need for some forum in which all these different dimensions of Europe, which are not simply, can be teased out and debated.

Deputy Gormley made reference to an article I wrote. I still hold those views. Of course my decision regarding the Treaty is one taken on balance. Following the exchange in the newspapers between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and myself regarding the UN mandate, which arises out of this and to which Deputy Gormley has referred, my view still holds. I do not believe that the Defence (Amendment) Act, 1960, for example, facilitates the involvement of Irish troops in tasks of the rapid reaction force in the way that the Minister stated on that occasion. The 1960 Act clearly states that more than 12 Irish soldiers can be committed to initiatives which have been established by the United Nations. Unfortunately this does not fit the Minister's argument where, regarding tasks which might be undertaken, he made the point that they would secure UN approval. There is a huge difference between securing a mandate ex post facto and actually conforming with the text of the 1960 Act, which clearly indicates that one is talking about forces established by the UN. It is pushing the language of the Defence Act, 1960. It seems to me that it is not possible to find a construction of it which would enable the phrase “established by the United Nations” to cover events and circumstances in which the United Nations had no part in initiating.

I want to be positive. Regarding the debate between now and, say, 2003 or 2004 on the issues which have been mentioned by Deputy Gormley among others, people should not be abusive of those opposing the Nice Treaty. They are actually making a case which has many valuable points. Among the points which will continue to be debated after the referendum and before the next Treaty is the gap between political accountability regarding security and the logistical control of security actions themselves. This is an area on which there is not clarity. Deputy Gormley quoted accurately from a briefing by NATO sources in Brussels, to which he and Deputy Gregory were invited. Certainly the US view of the rapid reaction force, for example, is very different from the British view, which is, in turn, different from the French view. One of the moral problems I have about all of this is that I have never been in favour of such a immobilisation of responses which would enable one to respond to a humanitarian crisis. If one is forced, for example, to take up the consistent position that one cannot be involved while at the same time there is genocide close to one's borders, I would come down in favour of interpreting one's actions in favour of preventing genocide and being able to do that. However, that raises the question about the definition of the tasks and the role of the political definition versus the logistical military capability. Depending on the side from which one looks at it, one will see that it is rather like the blind people touching the elephant, where one thought it was a rope and another thought it was a mountain. That issue will not go away. That is why we now need an informed debate on the Treaty in which we should be listing all of these issues.

I also have a difficulty with inserting this amendment suggested by Deputy Gormley into the Constitution because it would be cumbersome. Apart from the fact that the amendment states that we shall "not contribute to the financing of the operational expenditure arising from such measures", if they were humanitarian tasks defined within the Petersberg Tasks one would be incapacitated from action. It is not a simple matter.

I will conclude on this point because there are other Deputies who want to contribute. On my remarks about the 1960 Act—

I would ask you to address your remarks to the wording of the amendment.

I was dealing with the following words in the amendment, that we shall "not contribute to the financing of the operational expenditure arising from such measures", and whether that related to tasks to which one should or should not contribute.

On the question regarding the UN, the Minister may want to develop this into a task which would have been initiated, approved or mandated by the United Nations. That depends on how he proposes to get past the veto on the Security Council, a point which has been raised by the proposer of the amendment. If the Minister says that he has proposals, through Ireland's membership of the Security Council, for getting past that, for example, through the recognition of such forces as emerge in Europe as regional expressions of the UN initiative, then it would help if that was said. There is a complex matter in this regard which we may debate another day. I would suggest that if that is the road the Minister wants to go down, he must revisit the Defence Act, 1960 and cannot escape doing so.

One of the things which is very important in all of this is that we must have a debate about Ireland's neutrality in fairness to those who have spoken about it and still believe in it. It is not a case of it being some archaic concept. It is something which can be expressed positively in new conditions.

Members spoke about security. The debate on security has hardly begun. There is its social basis and economic basis and there are the relationships between ethnic groups and culturally diffused peoples, etc.

I would like to think those who articulate concerns will not consider them closed by whatever is the result of this vote. These issues will remain. We should realise that the Nice Treaty is one in a series of treaties; there will be another. There will be another intergovernmental process. We should commit ourselves to a public consultation on the complexity that faces us. We should particularly respect the debate that will be very difficult within the applicant countries. Their version of defence will reflect some anxious to be protected against homo soveticus, as they see it, others anxious, in a rapid sense, to join NATO because it is a most immediate source of security and others anxious to establish economic and social structures that will confer some autonomy on them. All this will raise a further and deeper question, in the new architecture of international relationships, in a geopolitics that may have a single superpower, what will be the shape of Europe as it is interested in humane resolution of conflict. For all these reasons it is best if we say we are listing the terms of the debate that will continue not only through the referendum, in what I hope will be a calm way but past it and that we will be better prepared for the following treaty.

I appeal to Deputy Gormley to withdraw his amendment as it is only creating confusion in the minds of many people outside this House who will be mislead by what has been put forward. I prefer to speak about matters in the treaty rather than issues that are not part of it. There is provision in it for the establishment of a social protection committee which will ensure that—

That has nothing to do with my amendment.

Is the Deputy against the protection of people in industry?


The Deputy appears to have ignored some of the positive aspects of this treaty and to have dealt with matters that are not included in it, as Deputy O'Keeffe pointed out. There are valid proposals in the treaty to deal with the trafficking of drugs, crime, terrorism—

I ask the Deputy to deal with the substance of the amendment.

The substance of the amendment is unnecessary. It is causing confusion and should be withdrawn.

(Dublin West): It is crucial we demand that the Government will not have anything to do with defence policy with regard to the EU. I am curious as to how members of the Government continue to say the Nice Treaty has nothing to do with security questions or with the common foreign and security policy; it has everything to do with these issues because it marks a consolidation to a strategy that involves the militarisation of the EU. Why does the Government not tell the truth about what the EU strategists are now about? Why will it not tell the truth, that the rapid reaction force is an EU army? It is a body of men and some women, 400 fighter aircraft and 100 ships. It has all the logistics that go with an army. Why will the Minister not call it an army? If one is confronted by an object that looks like an elephant, walks like an elephant and feels like an elephant, well it is an elephant.

The Deputy needs glasses.

(Dublin West): The Government would tell us it is not an elephant, that it is a turtle dove with an olive branch in its beak.

It is a case of bad eyesight.

(Dublin West): The Government is trying to tell us that something which is patently an EU army is not an army. Why is that? It is because it knows that the Irish people reject militarism and I am confident they will reject in the referendum the thrust in which the EU is being pushed criminally with the support of the Government, the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party.

Fine Gael has always been pro-Europe.

Before Deputy Joe Higgins came into the House, I called on a number of Deputies to address their remarks to the text of the amendment rather than make a Second Stage speech or repeat what they said on Second Stage that is not directly related to the text of the amendment.

(Dublin West): I am anxious to be within the guidelines the Chair seeks to implement. The amendment refers to Ireland not participating in the elaboration and implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications. Therefore, I am addressing the matter.

I will finish in 60 seconds to give the Minister an opportunity to reply before 10 p.m.

Thank you, Deputy.

(Dublin West): I put forward the point on numerous occasions of the implications of this for the EU armaments industry and how they never say what is involved with this most notorious of activities. Some 39 of the top 100 arms producing companies in the world are EU based, accounting for a massive income from arms sales to every dirty dictatorship around the world. Even as we speak, EU arms are slaughtering innocent peoples and we now want to give those people a fillip with the so-called common foreign and security policy. In short, what we have here is an attempt to create an economic bloc of 500 million people, a huge market for the multinational corporations that dominate that bloc, and a military wing to rival the power of the United States and to carry equal weight diplomatically and in other ways in the world sphere. That is the agenda.

On a point of order, I ask the Minister to reply to the question I put.

That is not a point of order. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Does Deputy Joe Higgins think that the UN standby arrangement involving 88 countries and 147,500 people is a standing army? Is that another elephant? That is precisely the contention he is making in relation to European Union capability.

There is one phrase Deputy Gormley did not use during his half-hour contribution. I listened to him very intently. I admire his persistence and I am sure he believes all this. It is a view. As Deputy Higgins said, it is a view in a democratic society and we have to answer. The one phrase Deputy Gormley never mentioned on speaking on his amendment was that of the "Petersberg Tasks".

I did mention the Petersberg Tasks.

The Deputy had half an hour to contribute and he must allow other Members to speak. It is important he should do that.

I did mention them.

It was not mentioned that we are talking about evolving an EU capacity to implement the Petersberg Tasks, how we get involved in crisis prevention, in civilian crisis management, in public administration and rebuilding, as we have seen in the Balkans. We should remember that former adversaries and people who are not members of NATO are working together to make sure that the Balkans, as bad as it is in 2001, is not the Balkans of 1914 or of 1940. The paradigm has changed. There is no point in continuing to regard the evolution of this capacity within the European Union for those purposes as being in some way a means of replacing an old Cold War paradigm, which is, we all know, no longer relevant. That is the basic problem in the presentation put forward.

The amendment in its substance seeks to deny to us, as a country, the power to decide on a case by case basis whether we wish to participate in the Petersberg Tasks. When people sincerely say how proud they are of Ireland's contribution to the UN in many parts of the world, of which we are all proud, can we not equally be proud of what we can do to maintain peace and stability in Europe in crisis prevention tasks, as in the case of the problems re-emerging in those parts of south eastern Europe where we have seen the incapacity to prepare, plan and be available to avoid hundreds of thousands of people emanating from one country or one part of a country, depending on one's politics, to another impoverished country and having no prospect of a stable life in the future? When we get away from the theory and the easy arguments, it is important that that issue be put to the people.

I genuinely want to move on to a public debate beyond the Treaty of Nice, as it has been characterised by Deputy O'Keeffe. Having been involved in all the negotiating sessions during the year, I want to get on to a structured debate on the other issues. In the balance of our national interests, we surely cannot say this democratic assembly will advise the people of Ireland to say 'No' to people in Eastern Europe who have suffered for long enough. If we do not agree with the liberal democratic model which is emerging, we should have a democratic debate on it.

Ós rud é go bhfuil sé a deich a clog, ní foláir dom an cheist seo a leanas a chur de réir Ordú an lae seo ón Dáil: "Go n-aontaítear leis seo i gCoiste ailt 1 agus 2, an Sceideal, an Réamhrá agus an Teideal agus go dtuairiscítear an Bille gan leasú don Teach dá réir sin; go gcríochnaítear leis seo an Ceathrú Céim; agus go ndéantar leis seo an Bille a rith."

As it is now 10 p.m., I am required to put the following question in accordance with an Order of the Dáil of this day: "That sections 1 and 2, the Schedule, the Preamble and the Title are hereby agreed to in Committee and the Bill is accordingly reported to the House without amendment; Fourth Stage is hereby completed; and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put.

Will the Deputies who are claiming a division please rise?

Deputies Joe Higgins, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Gormley and Sargent rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen I declare the question carried. In accordance with Standing Order 68 the names of the Deputies claiming the division will be recorded in the Journal of Proceedings of the Dáil.

Cuireadh an cheist agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis.

Question put and declared carried.