The Government announced yesterday that it intends to hold a referendum on citizenship on 11 June. I recognise there is a problem of non-national persons arriving here, particularly late in pregnancy, and I understand it must be resolved. I have already committed Fine Gael to working constructively towards a solution of that problem. However, we can only do that if the Government enters into consultation on the basis of good faith. The Government's record to date does not instil confidence or belief in that. On 5 and 12 November 2002 the Taoiseach said his Government did not have any contact with the Real IRA. However, it had, which meant his statement was untrue. On 5 February the Tánaiste said there was no need for legislation on electronic voting. That was also untrue. On 17 February this year the Taoiseach answered questions in the House for 45 minutes and said there were no planned referenda other than the three speculated about, namely, property rights, reform of the Seanad and the EU constitution.
The Tánaiste is a signatory to the programme for Government which contains a specific commitment to enter into all-party discussions about matters relevant to the Constitution. However, there have not been any all-party discussions. There has not been any consultation with me, despite the fact that the Government decision allowed for consultation with the party leaders. Yesterday the Government announced that it intends to hold the referendum on 11 June. Can the Tánaiste explain to the House and the country why there is a rush to hold the referendum on 11 June? How can we be confident that the Government is genuine about putting in place an all-embracing solution to deal with the problem which we recognise? How can we be sure that we will have a meaningful debate about the Constitution on an all-party basis when the Government's record to date means we cannot believe a word out of its mouth?