Amendment No. 1 is in the names of Deputies Ó Snodaigh and Costello.
Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2004: Report and Final Stages.
Tairgim leasú a 1:
I leathanach 5, líne 5 a scriosadh.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, to delete line 5.
This amendment would have the effect of deleting the first line of the Bill, An Act to Amend the Constitution. This amendment, along with the other amendments in my name, including the two which have been ruled out of order, would have the effect of negating the Bill in its entirety. That is the only way we can properly address the matter at this stage. If it were the Government's wish we could start the process again, have proper consultation and invite organisations which have a right, under international legislation, to make comments to do so. According to the Good Friday Agreement and under section 8(a) of the Human Rights Act, the Human Rights Commission is charged with keeping under review the advocacy and effectiveness of law and practice in the State relating to the protection of human rights. In addition, section 8(b) provides that, if requested by a Minister of the Government, it can examine any legislative proposal and report its views on any implications of such proposals for human rights. That did not happen. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties made a submission in writing; that is all it could do. Barristers, legal people or the social partners did not have the time to address this issue fully because the Bill is being rushed through the House. Proof of that, if proof is required, is the fact that the Minister whose Department has responsibility for the Bill is absent. If the legislation was so important, could the Minister not have scheduled it for next week, the week after or whenever he could make himself available to answer the questions raised?
My amendment is simple. It would rule out this amendment of the Constitution. We should not insert into the Constitution any wording which is contrary to existing wording. We had a debate here last night towards the end of which we were getting to the crux of the issue on nationality and citizenship. If we amend the Constitution in line with what the Government is proposing, according to the legal advice sought by many of us to try to get to the bottom of this issue, that would be contrary to Article 2 which states that everybody born on this island would be part of the Irish nation. They are Irish nationals, yet the Government wishes to remove Irish nationality from a class of people born on this island. The new Article 9 would be contrary to Article 2.
The Constitution is an important document which one should be able to read with ease. It should not contain any contradictions and one Article should not be negated by another but towards the end of the debate last night one of the Ministers — I cannot remember which of the three it was — said that nationality and citizenship were synonymous. The wording in the Bill refers to Irish citizenship or nationality but throughout the Constitution there is reference to Irish nationality and citizenship. One need only examine the current Article 9.2 and 9.3.
The Government's proposal is to create three categories of people on this island; those who are Irish citizens and Irish nationals, those who are Irish nationals only and those who are non-nationals. Non-nationals do not have the full protections of the Constitution, although they have some rights and protections under international law. Irish national citizens have the protection provided in the Constitution but Irish nationals only, those who are not citizens because that is the category that will be created, do not have such protection. That is confusing. They will be Irish nationals under Article 2 of the Constitution yet the Minister is trying to remove that nationality. It is somewhat contrary.
I urge the Minister to accept the amendment, and the others, even at this late stage to allow us go back to the drawing board with this legislation and have the proper consultation. We should start from the beginning and deal with the immigration policy first and how to address problems, if any exist. Like many others, I do not believe the hype the Minister has created around the figures he has quoted. He should be able to make his case and we should hear from the masters of the maternity hospitals and those who are working with refugees, asylum seekers and non-nationals.
We should also ensure that those parties to the Good Friday Agreement have a say if this legislation will affect the changes which were brought about by a referendum put to the people of this State and enforced by those in the Six Counties. If this Bill is passed they will not have any say in this whatsoever. They were not consulted. There were no consultations with the SDLP, Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party or the DUP. The Minister talked about consultation but there was not even consultation here in the House. We were given a document, told to read it and then presented with another document as afait accompli. That is not consultation. Consultation requires people to listen and that did not happen.
It was not likely to happen within the timeframe and we had a long discussion about that with the Minister. I believe he had plans well in advance of 10 March. He did not produce them out of the air and phone all us justice spokespersons on that day and say he had a grand plan for a referendum. This has been a long time in gestation, and it is scandalous that, from the day he started planning it, we did not have any committee consultation or hearings on it. If the committee had accepted it, we would have been able to proceed with the Bill. Even at this late stage, I ask the Government to withdraw this Bill.
I am somewhat disappointed to see the Minister of State here today, though he is welcome as such. We have still not got an explanation from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, of why he had to rush off so suddenly after spending less than an hour with us yesterday and why he did not return today. We do not even know whether he is to attend the debate in the Seanad. The level of consultation gets worse. He is not even prepared to come into the Houses to defend the constitutional amendment. The Minister of State will appreciate this is not simply more legislation put before the House by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. This amends the Constitution and affects the lives of many people. The Minister should at least have had the good grace to explain his prior engagement and apologise to the House for not being present. That being said, the Minister of State is welcome.
Perhaps I could take up a point made by Deputy Ó Snodaigh, the note on which we finished last night to which the Minister did not have an opportunity to respond. It was the fascinating question of citizenship and nationality, which the Minister's predecessor yesterday afternoon, the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, was so certain were synonymous. However, that is of course not so. I hope the Minister gets a chance to respond on that issue, which is relevant to the totality of what we are doing. It seems we have three new categories. The first is the citizen. There is also the national born in this country but without citizenship rights because he or she did not have an Irish parent or whose mother or father died during the period. Then there are non-nationals. If one is an Irish national specifically prevented from gaining Irish citizenship by the amendment to be put forward under this legislation, is one a member of the Irish nation? What is an Irish national? Does one not have nationality, even if one does not have citizenship?
The Minister has stated that the words "citizenship" and "nationality" are synonymous. Of course they are not so. They could not be; one need only look at a dictionary. It may well be that the founding fathers and mothers of the Constitution thought it was necessary to confuse them, since the Proclamation in 1916 refers to cherishing all the children of the nation. The nation was sacrosanct, and they were therefore all part of it and of our nationality. However, that is not citizenship.
Are we to have a category of people in this country who enjoy the full protections and entitlements of citizenship under the law, or are we to have a category who are nationals but are neither citizens nor belong to the Irish nation? If they are born in the country, how can they not belong to the Irish nation? We can understand the term "non-nationals" but what precisely is the status of the new category of person in the limbo created by this amendment? From where do they derive their rights, seeing that we now have a statement in the substantive provision that they are not entitled to Irish citizenship or nationality? It seems that by being born in this country, they are automatically part of the nation. I cannot see how it could be otherwise.
The Minister of State is shaking his head but I think he is making up his interpretation of the Constitution as he goes along. The substantive point of this amendment is to delete the wording "an Act to amend the Constitution" because neither the Minister of State nor the other Ministers, Deputies Brian Lenihan and McDowell, has made a case to amend the Constitution. We are not satisfied that the case is powerful enough to warrant amending the Constitution on this issue. This amendment has been tabled so the Minister, even at this late stage, will go back to the drawing board and agree that there is something fundamentally wrong with what he is doing. We have rehearsed many of the reasons. For a start, the timing is wrong.
Perhaps, when the Minister of State is replying to us, he will give us some idea of the amendment's gestation, both for the draft legislation and the substance of the amendment. Where in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform did it originate? When did it originate? When was the Attorney General consulted about it? When did the Government give its approval? When was it drafted? We have all sorts of half-suggestions about when that might have been. It was three or six weeks before 8 April. When did it happen? When did the Minister decide to go ahead? He tells us in his briefing document that he had talks with the masters of the maternity hospitals in October 2002, but he did not lift a finger after that. At that point, did he tell the mandarins in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to get the draftspeople working on this? Does it go back to 1998 when an initial concern was expressed by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform? Did it suddenly dawn on the Minister some time after January 2004 that an election was coming up and that it was such a big issue that the Government could hold a referendum on it together with the local and European elections? We have no clear indication of that.
There was certainly no consultation. Why should we have any faith in an amendment, considering our past history of amendments to the Constitution regarding divorce and, more than once, abortion? There was certainty that those who had framed them had got it right, but the Supreme Court tore the amendments to shreds when it came to the intention of those who framed the question in the abortion referendum. We received this only in the last few weeks, with no opportunity to hold hearings, consult expert witnesses or procure submissions.
Deputy Jim O'Keeffe and I proposed yesterday that before the debate in the Dáil, there be a special meeting of the Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights with the masters of the maternity hospitals to try to dispel the confusion surrounding the statistics. As recently as yesterday, the Minister came in with another bunch of statistics arising from the census and maternity hospital figures. All that information should be fully, thoroughly and factually in front of us before we make a decision of this nature. The only way we could envisage that happening would be to have the masters of the maternity hospitals present so we could ask them questions and they could make factual submissions to us. It would be very important. That would be done in public so that the electorate could also inform itself of the situation rather than listening to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who said one thing one day to the effect that people had pleaded with him, then he apologised for that the next day and then he came back and fudged it again. Then he comes up with another interpretation and claims he is talking about the integrity of the Constitution. On the final day he had nothing to say regarding the views expressed by the masters of the Dublin maternity hospitals.
The Human Rights Commission is a central part of the requirements for any constitutional referendum to ensure that what is being prepared is human rights proofed. That is what the body was set up for on a statutory basis by this House, and its counterpart in Northern Ireland was set up for the same purpose. We received a substantial statement of concern from the Human Rights Commission in the short time it had to consider this matter. The Minister came back with the most outrageous response, totally dismissing it out of hand as "tendentious". He was not going to bother with it. He was not even going to listen to it. Instead of listening, he had no time for the person who was interviewed with him on "Morning Ireland". He should have spoken to the Human Rights Commission and treated it with respect, but he has treated it with disrespect.
In this regard the treatment of the Human Rights Commission particularly underpinned the failure to respect the rights of the child. That is a serious matter because it is the children who will be affected. We are supposed to cherish the children of the nation. Whether these new nationals will be children of the nation, the Minister has yet to tell us. As to whether we will cherish them, it does not look like it.
The Human Rights Commission has made it clear that its deliberations are not yet finished because it has to consult with its counterpart in Northern Ireland — there is, of course, a Northern Ireland dimension to this as well. Only then would it be able to make a full statement as regards its position in the matter. That has not happened yet, but hopefully we will have the benefit of it over the weekend. By then, however, this legislation will have been passed in both Houses of the Oireachtas because it is the Government's intention to plough ahead without consultation. Indeed, that is what the Minister said to me on 7 April when I met him. He said he had consulted and got the approval of the British Government, but he had no intention of consulting with any of the parties to the Good Friday Agreement because, as he put it, they did not have a veto on it. That is the most arrogant of attitudes, but it means that information, statistics and facts will still come into the public domain that were absolutely necessary prior to this debate taking place.
For that reason — the lack of consultation — we are opposed to this amendment to the Constitution. That is one of the reasons I have appended my name to delete an Act to amend the Constitution. We do not want any Act to amend the Constitution in this manner. We still have to get an interpretation of the Good Friday Agreement itself. We spent a long time yesterday teasing out what the distinctions and interlocking elements were of the British and Irish agreement and the Good Friday Agreement, one being a bilateral agreement between two sovereign states, the other being a multi-party consensus between all the signatories to the Good Friday Agreement. The constitutional amendments put in place in 1998, namely Articles 2 and 3, revised, and Article 29, revised, are a verbatim part of the Good Friday Agreement, but not part of the British and Irish agreement. It is the Good Friday Agreement that has been interfered with. The British and Irish agreement is a commitment to ensure that what is in the Good Friday Agreement will be implemented.
We should remember, however, that the people involved with the British and Irish agreement were not the negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement as regards what was put to the Irish people in this jurisdiction. There is a separateness in that respect and an interlocking requirement in terms of the Good Friday Agreement's implementation. It does not mean that the Good Friday Agreement is not being impacted on and that the signatories to it were not deserving of consultation as regards anything that was done which might unpick it. That is a serious flaw in what is taking place here.
An area that also deserves decent consideration is the rights of the child. I do not intend to go into this in detail now. However, when one examines the fundamental rights granted in Article 40 to citizens, one can see the difference that would exist as regards non-citizens. What are the entitlements of non-citizens living in this country and what different categorisation will take place? Remember, however, we are dealing here, purely and simply, with children who are not yet born, but who will be, from now on, in a different climate from those born prior to this constitutional amendment. An Irish child born on this island will have full citizenship rights while another child born on this island will have none of those rights. From the viewpoint of the child there is a major diminution in the situation as it exists currently. From the point of view of the parent it is a different matter, but the right that the child had to citizenship and all that flowed from that is being done away with. It is an attack on the child. Two children may be born in similar circumstances on the same island and one will have the full rights of citizenship while the other will not. That is the nub of the issue and the Minister has not presented the House with valid arguments as to whether there are adequate grounds for doing this.
The amendment is timed to coincide with the European and local elections. Many of my colleagues have pointed out that regardless of the intent, it will be used in a negative fashion and will become the backdrop against which those elections will be fought. Remember an election contest is very largely a matter of grassroots activity. While the best of intentions might be evident at Oireachtas level in terms of what would happen, when it comes down to hard grafting for votes — every vote is like gold dust — situations such as this that may give rise to misrepresentation, presenting the spectre of fear in people's minds, can be damaging to relations on this island and could cause much trouble. In this context it is irresponsible to put forward the referendum amendment, as proposed.
The timing is wrong, apart from the lack of consultation, the lack of opportunity to have hearings and normal procedure and the total failure to attempt to get consensus on the issue. I asked the Minister when I met him if he would accept an all-party committee review of the issue and told him the Labour Party would accept the outcome in the event. He said "No", the matter had been decided by the Government and there would be no all-party committee on the matter. There was never an intention to consult on this issue. Despite the Minister claiming he is being blamed if he does not make his mind up, be decisive and hurry up with legislation, this is a constitutional amendment and he never had any intention of providing adequate time to deal with it.
The best thing to do, on this fresh spring morning, is to get rid of this altogether. The Minister of State should go back to the drawing board while the Minister is out of the country and say that from what he has heard there are too many problems and questions and we must start again.
There is a great deal of misinformation about the election campaign. Deputy Costello may not have been on the hustings. I have been on them for some time because I sent our candidates off to an early start.
Deputy O'Dea has a reputation for that.
He is on eternal hustings.
When candidates, whether outgoing counsellors or those seeking election, are on the doorsteps they spend precious time with the voter saying what a wonderful record they had, that the area cannot do without them and generally singing their own praises. They do not spend much time talking about a constitutional referendum. In most cases that does not arise. Occasionally, when someone asks about it, we say the Government has a proposal and that the Referendum Commission is employed to put the case for both sides and will send on information. We are not on the doorstep hammering at the case for the referendum in deference to our candidates. We try to introduce them to people on the doorstep saying they are good candidates and deserve votes because of what they will do for the area, which is the main concern of voters.
I undertook to Deputy Costello last night that I would inquire about the gestation of the legislation. The Government set out its stall on this issue from the outset. Its concerns were evident from the inclusion of the matter in the Programme for Government, agreed and published on the Government's taking office in 2002. It was open to Opposition parties to raise with the Minister at any time any proposals or thoughts they had on the issue. The Government's response first took the approach of litigation where the issue of the rights of parents of non-national children to remain in the State, as against the right of the State to deport them, came to a head in the L and O case. The Supreme Court delivered its judgment in early 2003 and the Government took the prudent course of allowing a suitable interval to pass in order to observe what impact the terms and practical effect of the judgment would have on the incidence of non-nationals arriving in this State.
During that observation period there would have been no benefit in seeking to raise the matter with the other parties since they would quite rightly have said, and I would have agreed with them, we must wait and see what effect the judgment will have before we can offer anything constructive. A year later it was clear the judgment was having no impact on the proportion of female asylum seekers arriving pregnant: 58% in 2002 and the same in 2003. It was also clear that the number of births to non-nationals in the Dublin maternity hospitals was disproportionately high by comparison with the ratio of non-nationals resident in the area by a factor of almost three. The figure may be much higher now.
In early March 2004 the Minister prepared a briefing document on the matter as a basis for discussions with the spokespersons for the various parties and met each of them. Reactions varied from the downright hostile to an unwillingness to accept that there was a problem but did not involve any constructive suggestions for a way forward. Simultaneously, on 9 March 2004, the Government approved the drafting of two Bills based on schemes prepared in the preceding three or four weeks in the Minister's Department, namely the amendment of the Constitution Bill and the draft implementing Bill. No decision was taken on when a referendum might be held. Drafting of the two Bills commenced in the office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government. While they were developed in tandem the text of the amendment of the Constitution Bill was not settled until the final shape of the draft implementing Bill became clear. Government approved the publication of these Bills on 6 April and on that day also decided to hold the referendum on 11 June.
In response to Deputies Costello andÓ Snodaigh, nationality and citizenship are synonymous. I cannot see any circumstances whereby, under the Constitution or ordinary law, a person can be an Irish national and not an Irish citizen andvice versa.
They will now.
No, they will not. Deputy Costello is laying too much emphasis on the grammar of the proposed amendment. The matter is raised twice in Article 9 of the Constitution: paragraph 2 refers to "The future acquisition and loss of Irish nationality and citizenship" and paragraph 3 states: "No person may be excluded from Irish nationality and citizenship." We use the term "or" in the new part 2 because it is predicated on a negative, that is, people who are not entitled to Irish "citizenship or nationality". The general view is that to use "and" instead of "or" there is ungrammatical.
That is wrong.
There is no conspiracy, hidden agenda, ulterior motive, or sinister intent behind the use of the term "or" as opposed to "and". Deputy Ó Snodaigh's amendment would negate the Bill as he admits. The Bill is a rational response to a real problem that will not go away and can be solved only by a constitutional amendment. Had the Good Friday Agreement not happened and this not been enshrined in the Constitution as a result and we were simply amending the pre-1999 legislation from which citizenship rights derived as, like every other parliament in Europe, we are entitled to do, would there be a similar furore? I would prefer not to have to amend the Constitution. The only reason for doing so is that the legal advice with which I agree, is that we cannot exclude non-nationals born here from Irish and therefore EU citizenship without amending it. We cannot even defer their right to become citizens until they reach their majority as happens in some countries.
The approach taken in the Bill is to restore to the Oireachtas the power to legislate for the entitlement to Irish citizenship of a narrow class of persons born in the island of Ireland, namely those who did not at the time of birth have a parent who was Irish or was entitled to Irish citizenship. The terms of the legislation proposed by the Government to achieve that result following acceptance of the referendum proposal, if it is accepted, are already a matter of public record. There can be no doubt in the mind of the public what those proposals are. The Government's proposals will reflect Ireland's high regard for those who have come from abroad to establish themselves in, share in and contribute to, Irish society by entitling their children born here to be Irish citizens by operation of law. At the same time they will ensure that Irish citizenship is not regarded as a passport to a wider Europe but means something important to those who hold it, a sense of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.
They will also remove a factor which causes women advanced in pregnancy to put themselves and the lives of their unborn children at risk by travelling to Ireland North and South, to secure the perceived benefits of automatic Irish citizenship for the child. This law will not deprive any child born here of citizenship or an entitlement to citizenship. Most children born in Ireland to non-nationals derive citizenship from their parents' countries of origin by operation of the citizenship laws of those countries. Where this does not happen either because the parents are stateless or through some quirk of the citizenship laws of their countries of origin we are obliged anyway under the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, to which Ireland is a party, to make Irish citizenship available to any person born in Irish territory who would not otherwise acquire citizenship of some other country. Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended in 2001, already provides for that and will remain unaffected by the implementing proposals.
No one who already has an entitlement to Irish citizenship by operation of present law will be deprived of that entitlement. The proposal is consistent with the British-Irish Agreement, particularly annexe 2. It is also consistent with the Good Friday Agreement generally. An unintended effect of the wonderful achievement of the Good Friday Agreement in advancing the peace process in this island has been used as an opportunity for this sort of abuse.
The Government owes a duty to the people of this island to put measures in place to stop the abuse. That is the purpose of the referendum proposal.
Article 9 gives the Oireachtas power to legislate for the acquisition of Irish citizenship by naturalisation, but does not, since the adoption of Article 2 in 1999, allow the Oireachtas power to limit Irish citizenship acquired by birth in Ireland. The proposed amendment restores that power to some extent, but it would not allow citizenship to be refined and qualified by statute in an unfettered way. That is not and could not be the case. Any change must, as a matter of international law, be consistent with the British-Irish Agreement which guarantees the continuing entitlement to the people of Northern Ireland to be Irish citizens. That was paramount in the minds of the people who negotiated that agreement.
The proposed change to the Constitution limits the scope of the discretion of the Oireachtas to legislate by confining that discretion to cases where the person is born in Ireland to parents, neither of whom is entitled to be an Irish citizen at the time of birth. The proposal does not give rise to any reasonable fears about the identity and interests of the people of Northern Ireland or about how those matters could be addressed by future legislation. The implementing legislation is drafted in such a way as to provide for equality of treatment between children born North or South.
The proposal will not in the slightest way affect the human rights protections offered by Irish legislation and courts to children or people of any age. It is incorrect to suggest that it will diminish anybody's human rights in any respect. I challenge Members to demonstrate a single human right that will be removed as a result of this proposal.
I do not accept Deputy Costello's stricture that the Minister was insulting to the Human Rights Commission. I am sure it was not his intention to insult it. He referred to its arguments as tendentious because of the phraseology used in its submission, which, although I do not agree with its content, it is entitled to make. The submission is couched in such terms as "could be argued", "could be wrong", or that "something might be incorrect". It is not definitive. The definition of "not definitive" is tendentious, which is what the Minister said.
We are overlooking the fact that, prior to 2 December 1999 when the Good Friday Agreement became part of the Constitution, no citizen born in this country, including me and the Deputies opposite, had a constitutional guarantee of citizenship. However, nobody took issue with that fact. Citizenship was regarded as something one received by way of legislation and this could be amended to make it more restrictive, more open and so on, simply by vote of the Oireachtas.
The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, argued the case well yesterday but, if Members wish, I can address the matter again. This proposal is not inconsistent with the Good Friday Agreement. The second annexe to the Good Friday Agreement, which I believe was put in at the insistence of the British Government, defines the term "the people of Northern Ireland". It is clear that it was the intention of both parties to that agreement that the people who would automatically be entitled to citizenship were the people defined, namely, a person born in Northern Ireland, either of whose parents were of British or Irish citizenship or entitled to become a British or Irish citizen. Article 2 of the Constitution, which incorporated that proposal, went further than it, even though it is clear that that is all the Government is committed to by virtue of the Good Friday Agreement.
To return to my point about rights and the deprivation of rights, according to the 2002 census, 133,000 non-nationals are resident in this country. The figure may now be greater than that.
That is not true.
I refer to EU nationals.
We are in the European Union.
Many of those people have children who are not Irish citizens. In recent years, some 10,000 non-EU nationals were given the right to remain here based on the fact of parentage of an Irish-born child who is an Irish citizen. However, they have other children who are not Irish citizens. Is anybody suggesting that because they do not have Irish citizenship, these children have no rights or less rights or that we can do what we want with them in respect of their right to life or other fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution? It has been suggested that we should introduce legislation which would retrospectively grant these people citizenship to protect their human rights. That is fanciful and flies in the face of everyday facts.
I set out the case for the Bill and our response to the well argued submission of the Human Rights Commission, which it was perfectly entitled to make. I explained the situation in regard to nationality and citizenship. I do not propose to accept the amendment, for which no case has been made.
The case has been made by the Human Rights Commission, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and others, including Deputies. If the Minister of State wishes, I can repeat what the Minister said about the Human Rights Commission.
I heard the Deputy the first time.
He said that its submission lacked intellectual integrity. If that is not insulting, I do not know what is.
He also referred to an unintended effect of the Good Friday Agreement. That agreement was put to the people and was available for them to read. By saying there was an unintended effect, he is saying that the Attorney General at the time of the agreement and the negotiators were stupid and did not understand what was written in black and white. He can have that one out with the then Attorney General.
Figures have been bandied about in regard to pregnant women. Many women who turn up at hospitals late in pregnancy are Irish women. I regularly attended a maternity hospital with my wife who recently had a child. It was evident that many Irish women arrived at the hospital for the first time in the later stages of pregnancy. It is incorrect to say this is a problem. Government policy is the problem, not pregnant women.
We have had insufficient time to discuss the Bill. Instead of discussing legislation on this matter, we should discuss immigration policy. The problem with which we need to deal relates to immigration policy. Every court case on the matter results in changes to our legislation. We need to tackle this problem but this is not the way to do it.
I agree with previous speakers in regard to the Minister's remarks abut the Human Rights Commission. The commission has a duty to make its case. It is insulting for the Minister to deem it tendentious or lacking in intellectual integrity.
The Minister of State mentioned phrases in the submission such as "may", "could be" or "possibly be" which could be in conflict with certain civil rights entitlements. I remind him it is quite common in the drafting of legislation to use the term "may" as something may or may not be the case in certain circumstances. The phraseology used by the Human Rights Commission in its submission was correct and in keeping with the drafting of legislation.
Like other Members, I do not want a situation to develop whereby unscrupulous people abuse the system to obtain a status of citizenship to which they are not entitled. I agree we need to have some regulations in place. However, I am a little concerned about a matter which has not been explained by the Minister of State or by his senior colleague. Why did the provision in the Good Friday Agreement go that extra mile? The Minister of State said it went further and beyond a point. Why did it go beyond a point? What was the thinking at the time that caused that provision to be made? Who was it supposed to reassure? We have not been told that.
The Minister mentioned that there are 133,000 EU nationals living here. I do not understand the purpose of that exercise as those people are legitimately here working or whatever the case may be. Some of them may have an entitlement to citizenship or may eventually have one and some of them may not. Other non-nationals who are seeking refugee status are in a similar position. The Minister seems to indicate that such numbers are causing a major problem here. To what extent will the proposal put forward address that problem? If there is widespread abuse of our immigration laws, to what extent will it be amended and addressed in the course of this legislation? If the legislation proposed is as innocuous as suggested in terms of dealing with the situation, how will it have a dramatic impact? If the impact is necessary, of which I remained to be convinced, why was the legislation suddenly sprung upon the people and the House? Why was there so little consultation on it and why was that necessary?
The Chairman of the all-party committee is an eminent Member on the Government side of the House and an eminent legal professional. He previously pointed out that in the event of a proposal to amend the Constitution, it should be done after the maximum amount of consultation with the widest possible number of groups to ensure nothing was done which might have to be visited in the future by way of addressing an issue it might have created.
I tabled this amendment because it is our view that neither the Minister of State nor any of the other Ministers who dealt with this Bill has pressed the case adequately to convince us there is a need for this proposal. They have not sufficiently made that case. The process involved in dealing with such legislation is extremely important, a point to which Deputy Durkan referred. There has been no all-party committee, White Paper, Green Paper, consultation or hearings on this legislation. The Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights was not allowed to consider it or did not have the time to do so. The information is trickling through from time to time and we have received contradictory information. This is why we are here arguing on issues that could have been clarified if the correct process had been followed. It is wrong to present a constitutional referendum when the necessary procedures are not followed to ensure the maximum information is put into the public arena.
We are dealing with two issues, the Good Friday Agreement and the Human Rights Commission. The changes to Articles 2 and 3 are not set out in the British-Irish Agreement, but they are set out verbatim in the multi-party Good Friday Agreement signed by all the parties. To say that a joint declaration by the British and Ireland Governments to the effect that everything is hunky dory is irrelevant because the changes to Articles 2 and 3 are set out alone in the Good Friday Agreement, not in the British-Irish Agreement.
It is in annexe 2.
The British-Irish Agreement is a commitment to ensure the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
No, I do not accept that.
Yes, it is.
We will have to differ on that.
It is only after we adopted Articles 2 and 3 that the procedure was set in place and the mechanism was triggered so all the institutions and other matters arising from it were sorted out.
I must now call the Minister of State.
The Acting Chairman might allow me to read out the few lines from the Good Friday Agreement or from the submission of the Human Rights Commission.
I cannot as I must call the Minister of State to respond.
I have the Agreement. I will have to agree to differ with Deputy Costello on that matter. I want to cite the conclusion from the figures presented by my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, to the House last night. On the basis of the figures for births in the maternity hospitals in Dublin in 2003, a non-EU national female is eight times more likely to have a child than an Irish national or an EU national.
Fair dues to them.
That is an unworthy comment.
It is a worthy comment.
Those figures enable people to draw their own conclusions. It shows what is happening.
That is a disgrace.
There is widespread abuse of an unintended loophole in the law.
No, that is not the case.
I said this was an unintended loophole and I repeat that. I am not suggesting the parties to the Good Friday Agreement were stupid, blind, thick or ignorant. I am simply saying this was not at the forefront of their consideration. Yesterday, I heard it seriously questioned in the House that if the people of this island, North and South, had known that something like this was in the pipeline or could have been done, or that this modification or disqualification of Article 2 could have been made, whether they would have voted for the Good Friday Agreement. We have to get real about this. The Good Friday Agreement was an agreement designed to bring peace after a long period of violence on this island.
Now we have breached it, it can be breached again.
There is no breach.
It can be breached.
People are trying to argue that if one had said to the people of Belfast, Limerick, Cork and all those who voted for the Good Friday Agreement there was a possibility the Irish Government might introduce legislation to prevent people from Ghana, the Sudan and many other places coming to Ireland to give birth to children who will automatically become Irish citizens, and the Irish Government might at some stage outlaw that, they would all have voted against the Agreement.
Give them a vote on it.
That is fanciful, it is nonsense. It is arrant rubbish and the Deputies opposite know that.
The Minister of State has taken five minutes to reply.
What was in the minds of the negotiators was the status of people born in Northern Ireland and their right to acquire citizenship.
I ask the Minister of State to conclude and I call Deputy Ó Snodaigh to conclude.
I also wish to reply.
I wish to repeat a point I made last night. I do not intend to go through what I said on Second Stage when I went through parts of the report of the Human Rights Commission. The human rights commissions issued a joint statement yesterday which states that in so far as the Irish Government's proposal impacts on Article 2 of the Constitution, which was amended to allow the Good Friday Agreement to come into force, they believe it ought to be considered in a manner indicated in paragraph 7 of the section of the Agreement dealing with validation, implementation and review.
That is a good point.
That paragraph requires the two Governments to consult the parties in the Assembly if relevant legislation such as the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act requires amendment. That is stated in plain and simple language. The Government did not do what it was meant to do. It is still not doing what it was meant to do and is trying to railroad through this legislation. The period of gestation of this legislation is one of haste; it is all rush, rush, rush. Bad law is made in haste. All one needs to do is to recall the abortion referendum debacle to realise what type of debacle the legislation will be if this amendment is made to the Constitution
There was no debacle in the abortion referendum.
There will be a debacle because the Government proposes to insert in the Constitution an Article which will be contrary to the existing Article 2. By doing that it will create three categories of people on this island. Hopefully, it will be defeated in the Supreme Court and then we will be laughing at the Government.
I am obliged to put the question.
The amendment is also in my name.
I checked the position with the Clerk and I have been informed that the main proposer is the only person who can contribute a third time.
The amendment is in both our names.
I accept that. I queried the matter with the Clerk and I was informed that it is not possible for the Deputy to make a further contribution.
I did not have the opportunity to refer to the statement made by the Human Rights Commission on the previous occasion and I wish to do so now. The Minister of State is wrong about the Good Friday Agreement. Those who want the Agreement destroyed will make hay from this matter in the future. We will have breached the Agreement as a result of a unilateral decision taken by the Government.
The Minister of State indicated that what was said by the Human Rights Commission was vague and contained the terms "maybe" and "might". However, it stated that a notable feature of the Irish Constitution is that some of the rights contained in it are explicitly linked to citizenship.
Cuireadh an cheist, "Go bhfanfaidh an focail a thairgtear a scriosadh", agus fógraíodh go raibh glactha leí.
Amendment No. 4 is an alternative to amendment No. 3 and the two may be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed. If amendment No. 3 is agreed, amendment No. 4 cannot be moved.
Tairgim leasú a 3:
I leathanach 5, línte 6 go 12 a scriosadh.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 4, to delete lines 6 to 12.
If we had more time, perhaps we could deal with all the amendments tabled. This amendment is designed to delete lines 6 to 12. My reasoning is the same as that which I outlined in respect of amendment No. 1, namely, that the Minister of State has not made the case. He said that we also had not made the case and referred to the hustings and the fact that his party's candidates are not promoting this issue. If he believes it is so important an issue, I presume that representatives of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats would be knocking on doors and stating that the referendum must be passed.
The Deputy knows perfectly well that I did not say that.
The Minister of State did say it. He stated that the issues were not being raised.
The Deputy's party is known for its distortion of the truth.
The Minister of State said that the matter was not coming up in the constituency and that the candidates were promoting themselves and how great they are. This means that they are not promoting this supposed vital issue in the national interest.
Wait until the Taoiseach hears about that.
There is no distortion.
These are matters to do with the IRA.
The Minister of State will have the opportunity to contribute in a moment.
The Minister of State will have the opportunity——
Deputy Ó Snodaigh should address his remarks through the Chair and speak to the amendment.
I am speaking to the amendment but I am being interrupted.
We know that the Deputy's organisation has a solution to deal with people who interrupt its members, namely, a bullet to the back of the head.
Will the Minister of State go back to Limerick? Matters were better when the Minister, Deputy McDowell, was present. He at least had the courtesy to listen.
The Deputy did not have the courtesy——
I listened to the Minister of State's contribution.
The Deputy did not have the courtesy to listen to the contribution of the Minister, Deputy McDowell.
If the Minister of State consults the record he will see that I did listen. I am not on record as having interfered with the Minister's speech.
We are dealing with Report Stage of the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill. When I entered the Chamber I thought that we had moved on to Question Time. I suggest that the Minister of State listen attentively to Deputy Ó Snodaigh and that the Deputy relate his comments to the amendment. The Minister of State will then have an opportunity to reply. Deputy Ó Snodaigh to proceed without interruption.
There will be no tendentiousness whatsoever.
Amendment No. 3 is designed to strike another section out of the Bill. The point I was trying to make is that if this matter is not being raised on the doorsteps by those who have proposed it, it is obvious that the latter are hoping that the Bill will go through on the sly, with no proper debate. That has been the position from day one. We received an outline of the gestation period of the legislation from 9 March until now and it has been a case of rushing it through and ensuring that a proper debate does not take place. This debate is being guillotined. We are due to conclude our deliberations at 1 p.m., which means that there are 25 minutes remaining and we have only reached amendment No. 3. That proves that proper debate has not taken place in the House. Such debate is not being encouraged outside the House and the Minister of State said so.
We have been constructive in dealing with this matter. Since I became a Member of the House, I have heard, at the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights and in the Dáil, constructive comments from the Labour Party, the Green Party, Fine Gael, members of my party, Independent Deputies and some Government Deputies on the immediate need for a proper immigration policy to address some of the issues that have arisen because of changes in Irish society. However, such a policy, which would be constructive and provide a way to move forward, has not been forthcoming. If, at the end of a process to develop such a policy, the Government believed that there was an outstanding problem — pregnant women are problems to the Minister — we could return to this matter and address it properly.
The Minister of State has still not accepted that the Minister, Deputy McDowell, was insulting in his comments about the Human Rights Commission. The fact the partnership groups did not have the opportunity to debate this matter is insulting to them. The ICCL made quite a good submission, which, perhaps, the Minister of State has not read, part of which deals with childbirth statistics and demography in Ireland. I wish to read some of it into the record because it is relevant to the debate.
We are discussing amendments on Report Stage, the debate on which is much more restrictive than that which applies on Committee Stage. As long as the Deputy's comments relate to amendment No. 3 he may proceed.
Amendment No. 3 is designed to delete lines 6 to 12, which would have the effect of negating the Bill. I am seeking to negate the Bill because the information supplied in respect of the need to introduce this legislation in the first instance is inaccurate and has been fabricated. It is disingenuous of the Minster of State and his senior Minister, who was floating around the House yesterday for a few hours, to keep trotting it out.
The ICCL submission states:
The Government has consistently refused to reveal the breakdown, if it has one, between children born to foreign-born mothers who are here for a variety of perfectly legitimate reasons — women migrant workers, women whose partners are migrant workers, women whose partners are Irish or EU citizens, women with refugee status and so on — and those allegedly arriving from airports and ferry ports at the last minute. Alison Healy (Irish Times, 19 February 2004) has detailed figures for the State’s two largest maternity hospitals. Children born to foreign mothers were 22% of all Coombe births, 20.06% for Holles Street — such figures are likely to have been lower, possibly much lower, elsewhere in Ireland. ‘African’ women are stated to have accounted for 5.32% of all births, followed by ‘British’ women at 5.25% in the Coombe. 3% were from European countries outside the EU including Russia. When one considers the significance of the British figure alone, and the fact that Dublin has a relatively large number of African refugees of childbearing age, it is worth questioning just how many women are arriving off the boat or plane in an advanced state of pregnancy, compared to those having their babies here in the normal course of events.
The ICCL provides more information in what is a detailed analysis completed in the short space of time it was granted.
No other country has citizenship laws such as those which exist here.
The ICCL submission identified 40, but there are possibly more to come because of the short period given to produce the report.
I will reiterate what I said earlier on amendment No. 1. For the first time, the Government is creating three classes of people on this island, non-nationals, nationals and citizens. I cannot understand how it can try to include in the Constitution something which is contrary to an existing Article. If that is the Minister's intention, he would, if he had the balls, amend Article 2. Instead, he is trying to get around the issue, thereby generating a future debacle and opening the way for major court cases. Nationals, citizens and non-nationals are all different.
Article 2 states plainly: "It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation." This says clearly that everybody born here, now and in the future, is an Irish national. That is not being changed. However, the Minister is introducing changes related to citizenship. In his proposed amendment he is trying to remove nationality, as mentioned in the first sentence of Article 2. He says quite simply that these people are not entitled to Irish citizenship or nationality. He cannot take away something which has already been granted in Article 2. The Minister must at least go back to the drawing board and allow us proper debate on this issue.
We have rehearsed the arguments on amendment No. 1. The Minister of State has not made the case nor has he made any meaningful or comprehensive attempt to do so. The failure to follow any of the normal procedures indicates there was no attempt to make the case for the constitutional amendment. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has shown the level of his interest in the matter through his cavalier approach, and his failure to show up for this debate indicates his lack of interest in the substance of what is happening or in convincing us of the substance of the constitutional amendment.
It must be recognised that this is a reckless manner in which to go about an amendment of the Constitution. That is not the fault of the Minister of State. It is the fault of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Government. The amendment should not proceed. Our amendment seeks to negate the Minister's proposals and to send them back to the drawing board.
We have already discussed the issues of timing, lack of consultation and the Good Friday Agreement etc. I tried to read into that debate an extract from the Human Rights Commission concerning the manner in which the commission's interim report, which had to be presented at short notice, was disregarded out of hand by the Minister. He insulted the members of the commission by saying they had no intellectual integrity and that the report was tendentious. The Minister of State said that the report was vague and included words such as "may" or "might".
The commission stated categorically:
A notable feature of the Irish Constitution is that some of the rights contained in the Constitution are explicitly linked to citizenship, whereas others are not. Given that Irish case law is unclear as to the constitutional rights of non-citizens, the potential impact of the proposed amendment on the children of non-nationals is unclear. Restricting qualification for Irish citizenship will create a new category of non-citizens who are likely to be subject to a lower level of protection of rights than currently prevails for children previously born in the State in equivalent circumstances.
It then goes on, to talk about the creation of a new category of non-Irish children.
This is a serious assertion or allegation. It is wrong to dismiss it out of hand and not give the members of the Human Rights Commission the opportunity of a hearing in the Oireachtas to argue its points and be quizzed on them. The nub of the matter is that there has been no opportunity to tease out the contradictions at the heart of the Minister's proposal with the relevant experts and people with responsibility in the area such as the Human Rights Commission which has statutory responsibility in this area.
Amendment No. 4 seeks to include after the words "be it therefore enacted by the Oireachtas" the phrase "and by the people". The reason for that is that the Constitution is not enacted by the Oireachtas alone. It involves a referendum of the people. It is the people who will enact the Constitution. It is appropriate, therefore, that we recognise the people's role in constitutional amendments. The Minister of State may say that such a phrase has never been included previously in constitutional amendments. However, that is no reason not to include what is correct and accurate now.
It is worthwhile, appropriate, desirable and necessary to recognise the role of the people in this legislation. This is not an ordinary piece of legislation enacted by the Oireachtas. We are elected by the people to enact legislation in the Houses. However, in the matter of a referendum, we propose and the people dispose. The people are the enactors of the legislation and this should be reflected in the text of this amendment.
If amendment No. 3 is accepted, I will not need to bother with amendment No. 4. If, however, the first is not accepted, I urge the Minister of State to accept amendment No. 4.
I regret that this debate will end shortly and that we will not have time to discuss some of the proposed amendments. We have spent some time discussing the difference between citizenship and nationality. Article 9.1.2° appears to distinguish between both, but another argument is that they mean the same. Our problem, in terms of the imposed guillotine, is that we do not have sufficient opportunity to discuss the issue. The All-Party Commission on the Constitution did not get the opportunity either, which is a pity. This lack of opportunity to debate illustrates our difficulty on the issue. The Government is the cause of this lack of opportunity.
A number of approaches could be taken to improve or amend the Constitution. It is a pity the Government did not take the more honest approach and seek to amend Article 2. The proposed amendment to Article 9 in the referendum will mean, effectively, that Article 9 will take precedence over Article 2 in the Constitution because that is the meaning implied by the phrase "Notwithstanding any other provision of the Constitution".
It is obvious that Articles 2 and 9 have never been adjudicated on by the courts and, like the Government, we must rely on legal advice for an exact interpretation of them. Unfortunately, different people can get different advice, which is how matters often end up in court. A clear argument can be made that Article 2 merely confers an entitlement to apply for citizenship but does not automatically confer it. If, as the Minister argued, Article 2 confers citizenship, how can he purport to restrict the automatic right to citizenship, as he did in section 4 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2001? Surely that is unconstitutional.
The Government has identified the broad nature of Article 2 as the problem. If Article 2 is the provision that gives rise to the problem, why are we not amending that instead of Article 9? Why are we not being more honest and up-front about it? It would be a better way to deal with the issue. If that necessitates discussion with parties North and South and with the British Government, why have we not done that or allowed the time to do it?
There are two other issues which have not been sufficiently debated here and we will not get the chance to debate them. If a child has only one Irish parent and that is the father, and the father of that child dies before the child is born, that child will not have an entitlement to Irish citizenship if the present wording in the Bill and the use of the present tense remains unchanged. Perhaps the Minister would examine that. It is a valid point that must be addressed in the nine minutes that remain.
Like my colleague, I was interested to note the conviction with which the Minister has been arguing his case all morning. I was equally interested to note during the early stages of the Bill that various Members on that side of the House argued with equal conviction. From whence does this conviction come? Earlier the Minister referred in the context of the previous amendment, to the number of EU nationals in the country, and can quote the numbers of non-EU nationals. The question that arises is what effect this legislation will have on them.
The answer is "none". That is precisely the case we on this side of the House have been making. If that is the answer, what I cannot understand is why there is any reference to numbers. I agree with the Minister that we must have some controls. However, if the effect of this is negligible or non-existent, why are we having this debate, which it has been suggested in some quarters is tendentious and lacking in intellectual integrity?
I could ask the Deputy that.
Will Deputy Durkan return to amendments Nos. 3 and 4?
Before returning to amendments Nos. 3 and 4, let me say that the Minister opposite is never tendentious.
Given the reservations expressed by people with genuine concerns both outside and inside the House, and that the Minister readily admits that the legislation and the amendment of the Constitution will have no impact on the number of people currently in the country who are non-nationals, non-EU nationals or EU nationals or otherwise——
——why could we not have waited?
That is outside the scope of amendments Nos. 3 and 4.
I know it is. However, it is a question of the debate we could have had. Perhaps at this stage the Minister would care to quantify the precise impact of the amendment of the Constitution. How, for instance, can we sell this legislation, this amendment of the Constitution, in our constituencies? Can we tell people who are Irish nationals——
Will the Deputy give way to the Minister to allow him to respond to legitimate questions raised on the amendment? We have only five minutes.
I have almost finished. It would be no harm if the Minister were able to tell the House——
Has the Minister a pack prepared for Limerick?
I prepare my own packs.
It would be helpful to us on this side of the House if we were able to explain to our constituents, national, EU national, non-EU or non-Irish national, that the purpose of this legislation is to protect them, their integrity and the country. It would be very helpful if we had that vital information and if we could have had a longer debate and exchange of views instead of rushing the legislation through so that now there is a whole series of amendments still outstanding which we do not have time to debate, despite the fact that special arrangements were made to meet and discuss this Bill last week. I regret that in amending the Constitution we are flying in the face of the recommendations of the Chairman of the all-party Oireachtas Commission on the Constitution and have decided to go ahead without adequate consultation.
I thank Deputy Durkan for his very kind remarks not only about me but regarding the legislation. At the 11th hour he has hit the nail on the head and reached the kernel of the issue. The focus of the debate and the reason for the furore has been the perception that there are many unfortunate non-nationals here who will be deprived of rights because of this legislation. I have assured Deputy Durkan that is not the case. He accepts that and is now asking why the legislation is being introduced. Deputy Durkan has made our case very effectively. Nobody who is a non-national in this country at the moment will be adversely affected by this legislation.
Regarding what Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, I will try to clarify the point I made earlier. Our candidates in the local and European election will ask people to support the referendum. It is a Government proposal. However, their main focus when they call to doors must be to get themselves elected. That is the position of any candidate.
Delay the referendum.
A person who is trying to get elected and desperately seeking votes does not in the first instance ask voters to vote for a constitutional referendum with themselves as an afterthought. That is reality.
Hold the referendum at a different time.
Regarding calls for a proper immigration policy, this is the mantra by which Deputy Rabbitte avoided taking a stance on this for so long. Detailed immigration legislation is being prepared in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, which it is hoped will be published before the summer recess. I admit that for several years we have been engaged in a fire fighting exercise as the numbers coming into the country rose. That trend has been reversed. In 1997 we took over a situation left in rag order by our predecessors as asylum seekers began to come into the country.
Fianna Fáil has been in power for 18 years out of 20.
The trend began during the time of the rainbow coalition Government.
I will send the Minister a copy of our immigration policy.
Huge numbers of people began to come in and nothing was in place to deal with them. A simple asylum application took up to two years to process until Deputy O'Donoghue as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform put sufficient resources in place in 1997 and 1998 to deal with the situation.
That was zero time. The Minister should know all about that. How long did it take the Government to do that?
Much less time than it took under the rainbow coalition Government when the ostrich approach was adopted and the Government put its head in the sand and ignored what was happening. To return to the figures——
There are still people who have been waiting seven years to be dealt with.
The difference between this Government and the rainbow coalition is that Ministers took their responsibilities seriously.
The Deputies do not want to hear the figures, but I will return to them for the information of the House. According to the census of 2002 there were 52,799 UK citizens living in this country. The number of births to those in the Dublin maternity hospitals was 677, or 1.3%. There were 4,016 Germans living in the country and 53 births or 1.3%. It is very like the British situation. On the other hand, there were 4,698 Nigerian people living in the country in 2002, of whom 1,515, or 32.2%, gave birth in the Dublin maternity hospitals.
Where were they living?
They were living in Ireland.
The Minister of State's time has concluded.
The relevant figures for Romania are 2,142 and 468.
The Minister of State has not dealt with the substantive issues.
The Romanian rate is 21.9%, as opposed to 1.2% and 1.3% for German and British nationals.
Will the proposed constitutional amendment address that?
I ask the Minister of State to bring his remarks to a conclusion.
Do the figures tell the Deputies anything?
Will the amendment address that? How will if affect it?
Allow the Minister of State to conclude.
The Minister and I have already explained in some detail how the proposed constitutional amendment will deal with the situation.
The Minister of State has exceeded the time available to him.
It will deal with the situation.
Have we been given extra time?
I wish to conclude by responding to Deputy Enright's point. The figures are there, one cannot argue with them.
The Minister of State said that the amendment will not affect the figures.
Deputy Enright mentioned that if somebody is born to an Irish mother and the father has died——
I spoke about an Irish father.
I take her point. That will be dealt with in the implementing legislation——
If it is ever produced.
——provided the referendum is passed. We are democrats.
I am about to burst into tears.
The people have to pass the referendum.
Will it be supported on the doorsteps?
If the people pass the referendum we will then have implementing legislation.
I am about to burst into tears.
It will be dealt with in that way.
I am glad the Minister of State reassured us that he is a democrat.
I can give the House that commitment. If the people do not pass the referendum, the situation will not arise.
There is an extra democrat in Limerick now.
I think we have had ample time to debate this matter. I thank Members for their contributions, for the most part. I commend the Bill to the House.
We thank the Minister of State for the most part as well.
Ós rud é go bhfuil sé a haon a chlog, ní foláir dom an cheist seo a leanas a chur de réir ordú an lae seo ón Dáil: "Go gcríochnaítear leis seo an Ceathrú Céim; agus go ndéantar leis seo an Bille a rith."
As it is now 1 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."
Cuireadh an cheist.
- Ahern, Dermot.
- Ahern, Michael.
- Ahern, Noel.
- Ardagh, Seán.
- Aylward, Liam.
- Brady, Johnny.
- Brady, Martin.
- Browne, John.
- Callanan, Joe.
- Carty, John.
- Cassidy, Donie.
- Dempsey, Tony.
- Dennehy, John.
- Devins, Jimmy.
- Ellis, John.
- Finneran, Michael.
- Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
- Glennon, Jim.
- Grealish, Noel.
- Hanafin, Mary.
- Haughey, Seán.
- Hoctor, Máire.
- Jacob, Joe.
- Kelleher, Billy.
- Kelly, Peter.
- Killeen, Tony.
- Kirk, Seamus.
- Kitt, Tom.
- Lenihan, Brian.
- Lenihan, Conor.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- McGuinness, John.
- Martin, Micheál.
- Moloney, John.
- Moynihan, Donal.
- Moynihan, Michael.
- Mulcahy, Michael.
- Nolan, M.J.
- Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
- O’Connor, Charlie.
- O’Dea, Willie.
- O’Donnell, Liz.
- O’Donovan, Denis.
- O’Flynn, Noel.
- O’Malley, Fiona.
- Parlon, Tom.
- Power, Peter.
- Roche, Dick.
- Sexton, Mae.
- Smith, Brendan.
- Wallace, Dan.
- Wilkinson, Ollie.
- Woods, Michael.
- Boyle, Dan.
- Broughan, Thomas P.
- Bruton, Richard.
- Connaughton, Paul.
- Costello, Joe.
- Cowley, Jerry.
- Crawford, Seymour.
- Crowe, Seán.
- Cuffe, Ciarán.
- Durkan, Bernard J.
- Enright, Olwyn.
- Gormley, John.
- Gregory, Tony.
- Healy, Seamus.
- Higgins, Joe.
- Hogan, Phil.
- Kehoe, Paul.
- Lynch, Kathleen.
- McCormack, Padraic.
- McGrath, Finian.
- McManus, Liz.
- Mitchell, Olivia.
- Morgan, Arthur.
- Murphy, Gerard.
- Naughten, Denis.
- Neville, Dan.
- Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
- Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
- O’Dowd, Fergus.
- O’Sullivan, Jan.
- Penrose, Willie.
- Quinn, Ruairi.
- Rabbitte, Pat.
- Ryan, Eamon.
- Ryan, Seán.
- Sargent, Trevor.
- Sherlock, Joe.
- Shortall, Róisín.
- Stagg, Emmet.
- Stanton, David.
- Timmins, Billy.
- Upton, Mary.