This is the principal section of the Bill. It deals with the amendment of section 1 of the European Communities Act, 1972. The basic point we touched on in our Second Stage remarks was that we are looking forward to a further amendment of that Act following the next Intergovernmental Conference. That leads to the points raised in connection with the convention. Frankly, I am not satisfied with the Minister's Second Stage response. The analysis in today's The Irish Times of the lack of input from the Government to the convention cannot be dismissed as merely the result of a hot bed of intrigue in Brussels. It is an analysis by an experienced correspondent whose comments are devastating. He stated that:
. . . the Government appears confident that its deeply conservative approach to Europe's future will win the day.
This analysis is almost certainly wrong and if the Government does not move fast, it will be out-manoeuvred in the final negotiations.
I do not mind the Government suffering loss of face; I am worried about the country, unfortunately, a country that at this time is ruled by this Government. He goes on to state:
Such an outcome would not only damage Ireland's national interest; it would leave the Government once again with the sorry task of selling to the Irish people a treaty it does not itself believe in.
That is why I sought an outline from the Minister on where the Government stands in relation to the convention but I have not got it. We have got wonderfully Lenihanesque flowery phrases which is a reminder of what we used to get from the Minister of State's father as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was just telling us about the Government taking a full and active part in the proceedings and being positive and constructive and recognising the need for reform. We all know this sort of blandness is an excuse for not replying to the questions. To tell the House the Minister, Deputy Cowen, responded to parliamentary questions on the issue is not sufficient. This is where we are debating Europe and there are no responses from the Government. I do not expect full responses and, I suppose, the Minister of State would be brave to give full responses. I would like a commitment from the Minister, on behalf of the Government, that from now on there will be a clear exposition of what the Government is seeking from the convention and a clear effort to input that to the convention and, furthermore, an opportunity for that approach to be fully debated in the House. We have not had any such debate and without it the Government is leading this country in the dark so far as the convention is concerned. This is made worse by the fact that the work of the convention has been largely dismissed by the Minister, Deputy Cowen, as being irrelevant. That is a serious fundamental mistake which will cost this country dear, as mentioned in this article today.