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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 14 Jul 1966

Vol. 61 No. 19

Irish Membership of EEC.

I move:

That Seanad Éireann is of opinion that the Minister for External Affairs should initiate an active European policy designed to ensure the achievement of Irish membership of the European Communities, and should reorganise his Department and our diplomatic missions abroad so that they contribute effectively to the achievement of this objective.

In putting down this motion, I was concerned to have aired a matter which I think is of considerable public importance and in respect of which there does exist considerable disquiet and concern, not confined to any particular Party but widespread among the political Parties, in the public service, among journalists and others interested in public affairs. Nevertheless, I had some regret in having to put down the motion because inevitably it could be regarded as a reflection on the Minister for whom I have the highest regard. It is with regret, therefore, that I find myself critical of his policies and those of his Department, but I know he will understand that and accept that there is no personal reflection of any kind. I have the highest regard for the Minister's integrity, for his long experience and the personal kindness and courtesy from which I have personally benefited in the past.

The concern that exists on this subject is not a doubt as to the genuineness of the Government's interest in Europe which was shown as far back as 1957 and was shown in particular during the period when we were preparing to negotiate with the European Economic Community. The Government, indeed, made great efforts to prepare us for entry into the EEC, efforts which went very far indeed in getting across to people in every walk of Irish life the implications of membership. I think also that the Government have realised that the negotiations for entry will not be easy. However, this realisation at times seems to be intellectual realisation rather than an emotional conviction. It does not always seem to guide the Government's actions in pressing forward our application and in preparing the ground for it in the way which seems necessary in view of the evident difficulties that stand in the way of our membership of the Community.

There does not appear to have been a sufficient appreciation of the need to keep in active contact with the Community and the member countries during this interim period when we are waiting for negotiations to be resumed. Perhaps this is understandable. The sense of anti-climax and letdown experienced early in 1963 when the British negotiations fell through and when, clearly, the prosecution of our application had to be abandoned for the time being must have affected the members of the Government as well as other members of the community. While the Taoiseach and his Ministers have tried to keep before us the likelihood of our membership and the importance of preparing for it, and have not relaxed their efforts in speaking in public on this subject, for some reason which it is difficult to fathom this sense of urgency which they have attempted to communicate in their speeches to the public on this subject —I refer here particularly to the Taoiseach—does not appear to have been reflected in their own actions in regard to the maintenance of active contact with the Community and with member Governments.

Of course, this is necessarily a matter of opinion. The Minister, I am sure, when replying, will make reference to various contacts, to various visits that have taken place. He will no doubt assure us, as the Minister for Finance assured us a couple of weeks ago, that the Government here are in contact with the Community and are aware of how opinion with regard to our proposed membership is evolving. But I am afraid this is a matter of opinion and, because it is, there are different opinions on it. There is a widely-held opinion that the Government have not done enough to keep in touch. In fact, I believe they have not done so and it is to that problem or, rather, to that disagreement, because I am sure it will be disagreement, that I want to address my remarks this morning.

There was, I think, some little misunderstanding about this recently in the debate here with the Minister for Finance, which subsequently led to a kind of newspaper controversy, of a minor kind admittedly, between himself and myself. I must say I regret that there was this misunderstanding, but it was interesting nevertheless because it showed we were not talking about the same thing and the discussion today, therefore, will be the more fruitful if we manage to talk about the same thing, even if we still disagree about it.

The Chair will see to that.

Not necessarily, because we are talking about two different aspects of the problem. The point Senator Quinlan and I were making in the debate is the point I am now trying to make, namely, that the Government have not shown themselves sufficiently active during this interim period in maintaining contact and have not made a favourable impression in Brussels because of the apparent lack of interest shown. The Minister for Finance in the recent debate interrupted on a number of occasions—there are interruptions by him in four different columns in the course of which he sought to question the reliability of the Press reports upon which Senator Quinlan and I were partly resting our case. He suggested in these interruptions that these reports were unreliable, that the Government had reports of their own which were more reliable and they did not confirm that there was any veering of opinion in Brussels away from acceptance of Irish, Norwegian and Danish membership of the Community together with that of Britain. These repeated interruptions were designed to cast doubts on the reliability of these reports.

However, the Minister for Finance, in summing up in the debate, did say that the Government were not complacent about the question of entry and not complacent about the difficulty of negotiations when negotiations begin. He covered himself in that respect and I think there is, indeed, truth in that and that the Government do recognise that these negotiations, when they start, will not be easy. But we were talking about two different things and subsequently, in a television discussion with Senator E. Ryan, I referred again to the complacency shown by the Minister for Finance, as I felt, in that debate in regard to the existing situation and present attitudes plus the failure of the Government to be sufficiently active at the present time. The Minister, I think, misunderstood my point and thought I was referring to the question of the negotiations for entry when they take place and, in a Press statement, he referred to what he said in the concluding section of the debate here. Perhaps it was my fault on television that I did not make is sufficiently clear what I was concerned with but, as the whole discussion was about these Press articles, and was actually initiated by the author of one of them who was interviewing us, I thought it was clear that we were talking of the Government's present lack of activity. The Minister for Finance clearly felt he had been misrepresented. I am sorry he should have felt that and I am sorry if anything I said gave him grounds for that feeling.

The background of this problem of our relations with Europe goes back some distance, at any rate to the 1950's and the early days of the Council of Europe. During that period our Government pursued a somewhat negative approach to European integration. Of course, like a number of other governments, in the Council of Europe they paid lip service to it and I am sure the Minister for External Affairs will have no difficulty in finding quotations from speeches, his own and others, welcoming various developments towards European integration; but, in practice, and on the real issue, on the speed at which progress was to be made and the extent to which sovereignty was to be surrendered, our Government repeatedly supported the Northern European countries and Britain which were, in fact, known, inaccurately let it be said, as the Protestant Powers—we were supporting British policy in this respect.

As a result of ourselves, Britain and the Scandinavian countries, the Council of Europe failed to evolve into an integrated political community and this led to the decision of six of the countries to move ahead on their own, because of our unwillingness to join in and participate in this movement towards greater political and economic unity. We are on record to that effect, literally on record, because I can recall in the early days of our television service in 1962 I was responsible for some programmes on the Common Market in the course of which it was necessary to explain the evolution of Irish policy in this regard and the Government Information Bureau were kind enough to let us have a recording of Mr. de Valera, speaking on the subject and explaining why Ireland could have nothing to do with this evolving political community and why we had, to protect our political independence, to keep out of it even though that meant lining up with Britain. At one stage I wondered if I would be allowed to bring in a record player and play that speech here, but I do not suppose the House would permit it.

The fact is that this was our policy and this was our attitude at the time and that is not readily forgotten. We are not the only people with long memories. Our memories may go back hundreds of years but people in Europe can go back ten or 15 years without difficulty; I have found in the repeated contacts I have had with the Community that Irish policies in the past, in this and other respects, have come against us and that we are still remembered as a people who did not want the Community to be established, who were not prepared to go the full distance and who lined up with the other countries working against its establishment. We are remembered as a country which showed no interest in the Community in its early stages and these memories run against us so that, when we proclaim ourselves, as we do, sometimes genuinely, and sometimes a little belatedly and not entirely genuinely, to be Europeans and prepared to go along with this movement towards European unity, some people in Europe are inclined to be a little cynical particularly if the protestations come from those who said the opposite ten or 15 years ago.

The next stage of the negotiations to which I wish to refer—they have more importance perhaps than the Government realise—are the negotiations that took place in Paris in 1957-58 for the establishment of an all-Western European Free Trade Area. At that time our Government were showing an interest in this proposal. While they had not been prepared to go along with the idea of greater political and economic unity, now, once again in line with British policy, our Government were interested in this proposal and we have kept closely in harmony with British policy throughout in this respect; we were anxious at this time in 1957-58, now that the Common Market was in process of establishment—the Treaty had been signed, and became effective on 1st January, 1958—we, Britain and other countries, were anxious to get in and share in the benefits without, of course, having any of the responsibilities.

We wanted, therefore, not to join the Community but, with Britain, to associate ourselves with the Community in a kind of external association formula. I think that is a valid description and it has a certain historical significance for us.

In these negotiations we worked actively towards securing participation in the European Free Trade Area, which would include the Common Market and ourselves, but with no common external tariff or customs union linking the whole of the area. In these negotiations some of the countries concerned felt themselves unable to commit themselves wholly to a removal of internal tariffs and quota restrictions within the specified period contemplated. I think I am right in saying that it was in OECD Working Party 23—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—that our problems were examined and the Government made a very strong case, indeed, for our inability to take up the full obligation of membership of this Free Trade Area.

We were most convincing on the subject. The weakness of our economy was explained at length, the early stage of our industrial development, the impossibility of our standing up to the full rigours of free trade quickly —all these were explained to such effect that the other countries were convinced and we secured the beginnings of an agreement to our participating on a special basis as a kind of associate but not as a full member of the Free Trade Area, on terms much less rigorous than those required of others. If this Free Trade Area project had got off the ground, we would have got such concessions. Unfortunately it did not get off the ground, as the project collapsed.

The project lapsed and a narrow Free Trade Area Association in competition with the EEC was established after the Stockholm Convention in 1960. We were not asked to take part in these negotiations, and if we had been, we would not have wished to do so because the terms excluded agriculture. However, it is interesting that we were not asked to participate, on the ground apparently that because we had made such a good case in Paris for special treatment, we could not participate in what would be a rich man's club. What was puzzling, when the Treaty was signed, was that Portugal was found to be a member on terms of a kind not given to others. It received special terms. Anyway, we were not brought within the framework of the Free Trade Area and probably if we had been asked to join we would not have wished to do so.

Then British policy changed again and in the spring of 1961, Britain seemed to be moving towards membership of the Community. Our Government, alert to this change, began to prepare themselves for membership and indeed, by some sleight of hand, did get Ireland's application in one day before Britain's. Our policy here was defective, however, because we are still oscillating between two possibilities, possible concessions and full membership and we fell between two stools with a thump. On 4th July, 1961 the Government submitted a memorandum to the EEC saying that we wanted to become full members but also wanted a list of various concessions. This was received with much distaste because to be looking for full membership and the kind of concessions we were seeking was a sort of contradiction in terms in light of the fact that the Government——

Would the Senator say did any of the existing members look for concessions before they signed the Treaty? Was it a special thing that we looked for concessions?

Every country seeking membership made it clear that they could not sign without concessions.

Why denounce us then if we tried to look after Irish interests, just as the French and Italians looked after theirs?

I have no desire to denounce the Government for looking for concessions but——

My point is this, that there was nothing unusual about Ireland that it should as an applicant look for concessions to safeguard the interests of our people, our industrialists and farmers. The French, the Germans, the Italians, the Dutch and the Belgians had all looked for concessions and got them. Why should we not have looked for them?

There is no dispute between us on that. Of course we had to look for concessions. It was, however, reported at the time—if the reports are incorrect, the Minister can tell me that they are—that the nature of the concessions we looked for was such as to cause such concern in Brussels that the Government withdrew the memorandum and substituted another. The second one looked for concessions but it was couched in terms that were acceptable. We had, then, to withdraw the first one which made a bad impression in Brussels, as I know, from my visits there about that time. It cast doubts on our willingness to accept full membership.

It would be very interesting to know at what level it was said, and by whom it was said, to the Senator that our application was not acceptable, that it was couched in the wrong terms.

I have not yet reached our application. The Minister is jumping ahead of me. I am talking about the memorandum of the 4th of July, 1961.

Perhaps it would be better if we conducted this debate without question and answer.

I shall conduct it any way you like, Sir. But if I may proceed, I have not reached our application for membership. I am talking about the memorandum of the 4th of July, which indicated the kind of approach we were going to adopt. It was withdrawn and substituted by another memorandum which was not expressed in such extreme terms. This was an error on our part and regarded as something which threw doubts on our willingness and ability to accept the obligations of full membership and it also threw doubts on our understanding of what the Rome Treaty was about. In Brussels, the view was that we did not seem to understand the nature of the Treaty of Rome if we were putting forward proposals which seemed to be out of line with the Treaty. The next mistake at this time —and if I am incorrect in this, the Minister can correct me—was that our application on 31st July, instead of being passed through diplomatic channels, was sent through the post and was followed up by a copy sent by hand. This caused some surprise in Brussels. If that mistake was not made, the Minister will tell us.

There followed a period during which we waited acceptance of our application, for negotiation. The British application was accepted immediately. The Danish and Norwegian applications were accepted for negotiations after a somewhat longer time and preliminary discussions started, at least in the case of the Danes. But for 15 months following our application, or 14 months, it was not accepted for negotiation and we were left in suspense and in a position in which we did not know whether our application would be accepted as the basis for negotiation. This was a matter for concern. I was in Brussels at the time every three months or so, and we were worried about this and we were probing for reasons for this reluctance to accept our application.

The reasons given in the Community circles in Brussels were several. First of all, there was the fact that in the 1957-58 negotiations, we had so stressed our inability to accept the obligations of membership of the Free Trade Area that the officials in Brussels—and not merely the officials in the Community but representatives of member States who would be concerned in the negotiations—could not follow how we had changed course so quickly. This was particularly true of the French. They found themselves raising their eyebrows over the fact that we were now, in our second memorandum, accepting the obligation of full membership less than three years after the time when we had been saying in Paris that we could not accept anything like those obligations. The memory of the officials, and particularly that of the French delegation, of those negotiations was something which stood against our application.

I personally probed this on a number of occasions in Brussels and found this was one of the strongest reasons given against immediate acceptance of our application for negotiation. We had cast doubts on the validity of our application. Although those doubts were not serious and could be resolved by negotiation, they did however cause them to say: "We are very busy with the British at the moment. There is something odd about the Irish application. We will leave it over until we have time to have a look at it." When they found, in October of that year, that our application was serious they accepted it with reservations.

Secondly there were doubts as to the genuineness of our political commitments. I do not want to overstress this because there were definite doubts as regards the British political commitments as well but in Britain's case, there were strong reasons for membership. The political reasons were, however, not overlooked and this caused the breakdown of their negotiations through General de Gaulle's action in 1963. We were regarded as something like a satellite of Britain because our attitude to the political implications was similar to that of Britain at that period. There was also a tendency on the part of members of the Government to play down political commitments in this country. We sometimes assume that anything we say here is never listened to outside the country. There are five member countries with diplomatic missions here who report, both individually and collectively, on our policies and attitudes here. The reports which they made at that time must have included some information about the reluctance of the Government to come out straight and also the subject of the political commitments. I do not want to overstress this because this was not a major consideration but it did not help that we had this background.

The third point in people's minds was that there was nothing to be gained by the EEC from Irish membership. It was felt that, because of the success of our case in 1958, we would be a drag on the Community, that we would not be able to keep up with the rest of the Community and that the Community would not get very much out of our membership. We were not a very attractive proposition.

Again, I do not want to overstress that because there was at that time a very strong commitment among Community countries to accept European countries which applied for membership. The fact that there were doubts as to whether we could contribute anything other than an agricultural surplus was predictable.

Our application was, in fact, accepted for negotiation at the end of October, 1962. It was finally accepted for negotiation with reservations by all countries. It was reported authoritatively in Brussels and Luxembourg that a number of governments—France and Luxembourg among them—were not happy about us. They accepted us for negotiation with reservations. The Netherlands and Germany accepted us in principle, although also with some reservations.

We must understand that there is a difference between the acceptance of the Danish and Swedish applications and also that of Britain and the attitude adopted towards our application. There were certain reservations with regard to our application. There had been changes in policy here since our first application. But the visit of the Taoiseach to Brussels and other capitals in 1961 helped greatly. Such visits are important because I have always come across in Brussels among the people I have met a number of people who are not aware of our problems and our situation here. It does not seem that we have made sufficient effort to get across our position. That is something which I will come back to.

Our problem at that time was to get rid of the adverse initial impression we had made and to get the facts about our position better known. The fact was that we were not in a very strong position in 1958 and although we had made a recovery since then, the Community were not sure that that recovery would last. This accounted for some of the hesitations. This is really where more ignorance than hostility existed. It must be stressed that the Taoiseach's visit to Brussels and other capitals in October of that year, at the time when our application was under consideration, did have considerable effect. The impression he made in various capitals he went to was favourable and contributed towards the decision at the end of October to accept our application, despite the reservations of some countries. I stress this particularly because I do not think we have at all understood the importance of visits of this kind. We have not understood the value of them and how much can be done by responsible Ministers to explain Irish policy. On that occasion the Taoiseach's visit made a notable contribution.

It was during 1962 that the Community became more impressed with our determination to secure membership and our willingness to make the necessary preparation. I can recall one official concerned with industry who, in the autumn of 1961, was highly sceptical about our ability to stand up to free trade, but when I spoke to him in mid-1962, when our Committee on Industrial Reorganisation was well launched, he was so impressed by the work of the CIO and by the first one or two reports that had then been published that his attitude was transformed. He realised we were taking things seriously and determined to make the necessary preparation.

I believe the work the Government did in 1962 contributed towards our application. Certainly some of the things done here made an impression. Civil servants began to learn French at that time. The psychological effect of such a decision among Continental people who are up against people speaking English cannot be over-stressed. When they discovered that civil servants here were studying French, it made a very great impact. All those things helped.

We then came to the breakdown of the negotiations between Britain and the Community. There was nothing we could do about that and there was nothing we could do to modify the situation, except to seek some special arrangement for ourselves with the EEC. I now want to quote from the White Paper on the Free Trade Area Agreement between Great Britain and Ireland. I shall quote completely, lest I be accused of not giving a correct quotation. Paragraph 128 of this White Paper states:

In the discussions with the EEC....

These are the discussions we had after the breakdown of the British discussions with a view to seeing what arrangements we could enter into with the EEC as an alternative.

... the Government explored the possibility of interim reciprocal arrangements which would provide counterbalancing advantages in the Community market in return for reductions in Irish industrial protection. It was clearly established, however, that there was no possibility of a bilateral exchange of preferences, except within the framework of the Community's customs union, participation in which would involve the application of the Community's common external tariff to imports from third countries.

So far so good. That was "clearly established" and we know what it means. The thing was probed to the limit and it was made perfectly clear that there was no possibility of any other solution. I accept that. The White Paper went on:

It was clear also that there was no disposition on the part of the Community to agree to any modification of obligations in relation to the common external tariff which would enable Ireland to maintain the tariff preferences to which Britain was entitled under the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement.

The wording there is sensibly different. It is very different to say on the one hand that something is clearly established and on the other hand to say that there was no disposition to agree. Of course there was no disposition to agree. Unless we negotiated this toughly and persistently there was bound to be "no disposition". In raising this point here I am not pressing it to the point of suggesting that had we persisted we would necessarily have got agreement to a derogation from the common external tariff in respect of certain British goods. It is a possibility, perhaps a remote possibility. I am not pressing it to the extent of saying that if we had pressed it, we would have succeeded. I am only suggesting that it was not pressed as much as it should have been. Indeed this is clear from the words of the Government's own White Paper in this respect.

I took the opportunity of probing this matter further when I was in Brussels last October at three different levels—if the Minister wants to know at what levels I discussed the matter —and I got the same answer at all three levels independently. The answer I got was that any agreement which would involve membership for Ireland with derogation from the common British tariff for Irish goods would be extremely difficult to negotiate. No one could say that it would be successful—but neither would anyone say that if it were negotiated in a determined way something might not have emerged. Moreover, I was told at these three different levels that while the Irish Government had sought to negotiate a particular trade agreement for specific products and had negotiated that actively and while failure of these negotiations was in no way the fault of the Irish Government but rather the fault of the Community, on the other hand the Irish Government had not raised the question of a much more extensive agreement involving membership with derogation from the common external tariff with Britain. This had never been seriously suggested by the Irish Government. Probably it would not have succeeded. It might not have succeeded but we do not know that, because it has not been probed. This is the position as confirmed to me in Brussels and the position that emerges from this White Paper. If we had attempted to negotiate such an agreement, the odds were reasonably high against our succeeding, but I still think the Government had not the right to dismiss the possibility by simply saying that there was no hope of getting this.

I raise this point because, in fact, this type of arrangement exists in other countries. The fact is that West Germany has a right to import goods from Eastern Germany without paying any external tariff. The Benelux countries have the right to import from Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles, France from Morocco, Tunisia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and the Condominium of the New Hebrides and Italy from Libya and Somaliland. In the case of West Germany it was part of the German State originally.

Moreover, for the past two years the Austrian Government have been negotiating in Brussels. They are seeking a similar arrangement. They are seeking association on terms that would enable them to import goods from eastern Europe without the tariff. They are also seeking participation in EFTA and the EEC simultaneously and the opinion last October in Brussels was that the Austrians were looking for the moon in looking for simultaneous participation in these two organisations, which would not be conceded under any circumstances, but that they were likely to get association with the EEC on terms that would permit entry of certain goods from Eastern Europe.

Therefore, we have in existence three different kinds of precedent for the arrangement which I am saying the Government should have pursued. We have the West German-East German arrangement which is a certain analogy with our arrangement because we too were at one time one State which was split up. There is an analogy here although the two cases are not identical. There is then the example of the former colonies of these member countries and there is finally the example of the Austrian negotiations which, opinion suggests, is likely to succeed in respect of the derogation from the common external tariff.

Our Government seems to have dismissed this possibility without investigating it, simply writing down in the White Paper that there was no disposition to agree to it. The only point of diplomacy is not to make people agree to something they are disposed to agree to, but to make them agree to something they are not disposed to agree to! That is what our diplomatic corps is there for, to make people think they should do so and so when they do not want to do it.

It takes two to negotiate, of course.

Yes it takes two to negotiate and it takes one to initiate the negotiation. I am quite prepared to withdraw my criticism if the Minister can put on the records of this House a written communication from the EEC, turning down in a definitive way the proposal that we should be admitted as members of the EEC with derogation from the common external tariff. If he is prepared to produce such a document I am prepared to accept it. But on the inference from the White Paper and from what I heard in Brussels that was never seriously sought and no refusal was written down. If somebody writes a letter you do not say "he showed no disposition to agree," you say "he did not agree."

I discovered that across the table in Brussels.

The Austrians have not been content to discover something across the table. They have kept going to Brussels month after month for the last two years.

For the last three and a half years.

I accept the Minister's correction on that.

Where are the Austrians getting?

They are getting to the point that they are likely to get agreement on this issue, giving them a derogation from the common external tariff. They have not just accepted anything across the table. I do not think you can accept that and go away satisfied, if I may refer to the comments of the Minister. A really astute Irish Government would have been directing all their energies towards this aim and might have got us some kind of agreement in Brussels. The fact is it was not really tried.

I move to the next point, which is, how actively we are pursuing the ultimate goal? We have now signed a Free Trade Area Agreement with Britain which deprives us of the right of negotiation with the EEC unless and until Britain negotiates. We are deprived of liberty of action. That is the effect and it is no good crying over spilt milk at this stage but we now have to ensure that if and when Britain joins we will become a member at that stage and will not be excluded or brought in at a disadvantage or on incomplete terms.

Our new dependence on Britain makes this more essential than ever. There are strong arguments in favour of our Free Trade Agreement with Britain. Membership of this free trade area does involve us to a greater degree on dependence with Britain than hitherto and it is undesirable that this country should be dependent on any other single country. If we have to have dependence on some other country, it may well be that the old enemy we know is better than someone else we do not know. Nevertheless, to be so dependent on any country is a mistake and to be dependent on a country which has so little interest in us is a great mistake.

As a result of a public opinion poll carried out in Britain last January in which 2,000 people were asked the question—"Britain has recently signed a Free Trade Area Agreement with another country: can you tell us what country this is?"—one thousand, five hundred and seventy three, 79 per cent, had not a clue, 15 per cent named a variety of countries, Russia coming top, followed by Rhodesia, France, America, African States, Germany, Japan and China. But only six per cent of the people of Britain knew that we had signed a Free Trade Area Agreement with them. That is the extent to which Britain is interested or concerned about us. To be so dependent upon a country which shows so little concern about us is a serious mistake. It is, therefore, a matter of the utmost priority and ought to take priority over everything else in our foreign policy at this stage, ensuring that Britain and ourselves both join EEC and become full members together.

What have we done about this? There was a plan to establish a separate Irish mission to the EEC. I think premises were even obtained, although I am open to correction on that. That plan was dropped, of course, as soon as the British negotiations terminated instead of ensuring that we would keep ourselves before the Community in the following years. We pulled out of that. Our mission is kept tiny: a staff of four. Ministerial visits are at a minimum. I understand that the Minister has been there himself once in the past three or four years. Some other Ministers have dropped into Brussels when passing through to discuss things from time to time, but only rarely.

Our public relations effort in Europe has been minimal, in fact the word "minimal" is an exaggeration because it virtually has not existed, and this lack of interest has been felt in Brussels and elsewhere. We need not think that if we show no interest, nobody notices. There are people in other countries who do notice the amount of interest we show. There are diplomatic representatives in this country from the five member countries who report back individually and collectively on the amount of interest we show here. The amount of interest shown by the Minister in debates in the Dáil in external affairs is reported back. What have they to report? This is the record since the breakdown of talks. In 1963, the Minister introduced a debate in the Dáil with a 7,000 word speech, but no reference was made to the EEC anywhere in that speech three months after the breakdown. The matter was raised in the subsequent debate and the Minister was prompted to reply and to state his interest in the EEC in positive terms.

It is important that this should be said because it has been alleged that the Minister is not favourable to our membership of the EEC. He concluded his remarks on that occasion by saying at column 1076, Vol. 201, No. 8 of the Official Report of 8th April, 1963:

If I thought any words of mine could help to get negotiations going again and help them to succeed, I should gladly utter these words here or anywhere else.

He did not utter any words in that debate until the matter was raised.

In 1964 the Minister made no reference whatever in his opening speech of 8,000 words, nor in his answering speech of 4,000 words, despite the fact that the matter was raised by Fine Gael spokesmen in the debate, as they had done in 1963. It would not have cost him much to utter a few words, here or elsewhere, which would have helped on that occasion.

In 1965, the Minister made a 5,000 word speech of which 58 words concerned the EEC. I shall read what he said:

We continue to follow closely the various developments in the European Economic Community through the Embassy in Brussels and by occasional visits by Ministers and officials to the Headquarters of the Organisation. Ireland's application for membership of the Community still stands and it is the intention of the Government to proceed with it at the earliest appropriate moment.

—not exactly a dynamic utterance, that speech.

The matter was raised once again in the ensuing debate, and the Minister again in his reply ignored the matter and made no further reference to it. So, out of 20,000 words in speeches opening three external affairs debates the Minister has uttered 58, one quarter of one per cent relative to the EEC—a matter in which it is vital for us at this stage to succeed, if we are not to be left in a position either of continuing dependence on Britain or of Britain joining the EEC and our being allowed only to associate with them on terms which will discriminate against us in our agriculture in some way or another. It cannot be said that the failure of the Minister to show interest in this subject has in any way been the responsibility of the Fine Gael Party because, in every one of these debates, our speakers have raised the matter, have pressed the matter and in no case since 1963 has it produced anything in the following year or, indeed, in the Minister's replies since the 58 words we heard in February of 1965.

What impression has this made in Brussels? I shall answer that from my own experience: it is bad. The impression in Brussels is that our Government want to join EEC, that they have made excellent preparations for joining EEC, have shown an interest and understanding of what is involved in its Irish internal policy, but that in their external policy, they do not seem to understand what is involved and are not showing any interest in the matter. The contrast between the domestic activities designed to get our economy ready for free trade and the lack of any interest in this matter in the Minister's speeches, coupled with the lack of a separate mission in Brussels and the lack of effort to put our attitudes across or to keep in touch with views there adequately—all these are matters of puzzlement and concern to people in Brussels.

Let us contrast our position with that of Denmark. According to the correspondents of both the Irish Times and the Irish Press—they both say this independently in a slightly different way—the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark visits the EEC, one paper says, six times a year, the other says, five or six times a year, to maintain contact and to ensure that decisions being taken internally in the EEC, particularly in regard to agricultural policy, will be taken in a form which will be suited to Denmark's interests when Denmark is a member. It is my understanding that our Minister—I am open to correction on this —has been there on one occasion in the past three years, as against about 20 visits there by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. What kind of an impression is that likely to make in Brussels?

As regards the different missions, there is no EFTA country, apart from Norway, which does not have a separate mission in Brussels. The Norwegian mission has a staff of seven, as against our four. Denmark has a separate mission of four, plus these regular ministerial visits. Sweden and Switzerland which are not even seeking membership have missions of five and seven respectively; Austria and Greece have seven each; Turkey has ten. All of these are separate missions to the EEC and are separate from their missions to Brussels and/or Luxembourg. I should like to know how the Minister thinks that the four officials who represent us there at the moment can effectively cover all our interests in Brussels with the EEC, the ECSC and Euratom and also our interests in relation to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which is a two and a half hour train journey from Brussels.

It is impossible for four people to do all those jobs. I make no criticism of them and we have, during certain periods, had some outstanding people representing us in Brussels at an expert level but the very problem of the complexity of the Community, the problems which have to be covered, the total inadequacy of the staff and their distraction with the problems of dealing with Belgium and Luxembourg also make it quite impossible for them to represent us adequately. No other country does attempt the task of covering all these different matters with a staff of four. The result has been that some of the goodwill towards us has been lost.

There is puzzlement, and some concern about our lack of interest, and ignorance about us and our problems has been perpetuated. I am not saying this from my own experience alone, but it has been my experience any time I visited Brussels. I have never failed to come across a number of officials who never had contact with any Irish person, and never heard of Irish problems. Indeed, a large part of my time has been spent in trying to explain our problems to them and to put across some of our difficulties in a wide range of areas.

I tried, for example, to explain why the Common Market dumping policy, which is all right for countries with contiguous land frontiers who can dump the goods back again by lorry, is a problem here. We cannot dump the goods back again because of extra transport costs across the Irish sea. This had never struck them because they are used to countries with contiguous land frontiers. It does not affect the British seriously and they never raised the matter. These officials are interested and they are prepared to learn. Our problems are not brought to their attention, however, and they are puzzled by this. They are being lobbied constantly by the Austrians, the Danes and the Norwegians, who keep them in touch with their problems, and the fact that we do not do likewise is a source of puzzlement to them. This was my experience long before I had anything to do with Party politics. It was also my experience on my last visit when I was concerned with politics. But this is not my view only. It is held universally by Irish people who visit Brussels and the recent visit by Irish journalists to Brussels made this clear.

I want to quote now from an Irish Independent editorial:

There have been some indications in recent months that the attitude of the Common Market to those European countries which are standing in the queue behind Britain may not be one of unreserved welcome. Some important European sources have questioned the wisdom and the practicability of a widespread extension of the Common Market's boundaries...

We need not be too pessimistic in recognising these facts. What they really emphasise is the need for a sustained diplomatic initiative by Ireland in getting our point of view across in Brussels and in making the widest possible range of contacts at every level with the Six. Other intending members—Denmark is the leading example—have shown the importance which they give to such activities. By comparison, Ireland's diplomatic concentration on the Six is minute.

The easygoing attitude which prevails was well shown in a parliamentary reply last week by Mr. Aiken. The Minister said he was fully satisfied that we were completely in touch with developments in the Six through our existing diplomatic representation and the periodic...

Very periodic!

...visits by Ministers to Brussels. Keeping in touch falls far short of the scale of diplomatic effort which is required in present circumstances. The time has come for a reappraisal of our policy—or lack of one—in this vital area. Mr. Aiken should think again—and very quickly, because time is short.

The Irish Times in a report from a correspondent on the spot said:

At best there is widespread indifference here about future Irish membership. At worst there is some opposition to it on the grounds that a country like Ireland, with an economy dependent on agriculture, can offer little to the Common Market except problems and, perhaps, financial burdens...

One official—an ex-cabinet minister in his national government who will almost certainly be a member of the new and powerful Commission—put it bluntly. "Frankly, we can do without Ireland," he said. "Why, oh, why, do you have to be agricultural."

That is a cry which other people might echo! It continued:

And another official warned that Ireland could not depend on getting in automatically with Britain. "You will have to knock on the door very loudly," he said. "Nobody is going to open it out of sympathy."

The article went on to say:

The thing which strikes one forcibly here is that a considerable gap exists between political and official thinking in Dublin and thinking in Brussels. If our application is to be pressed over all the difficulties that it will encounter it is evident that our diplomatic activity in relation to the Common Market must be stepped up vigorously. Apart from the need of increasing the number of Irish representatives in Brussels there also appears to be a need for regular political commuting between Brussels and Dublin. There have been little political contacts between the Market and Ireland in recent years. As a result there is small appreciation of Ireland's problems and aspirations.

We could well follow the example of the Danes, another nation hoping for membership. It is most active on the diplomatic front here and its foreign minister comes here about once every two months for high level discussions. Unlike Ireland, Denmark knows what is expected of it and has made sure that the Common Market knows exactly what its problems are.

There can be no doubt that the old idea of widening the Market to include as many countries in Europe as possible has taken a severe hammering in the last year or so.

That was a report in the Irish Times of May 28th. Subsequently there were articles in the Irish Times of 23rd June and 24th June, in which these points were hammered home more forcefully. I quote:

... there can be no doubt that the bridge of communication between us, an applicant country, and the Market, which has never shown much enthusiasm about our application, is not strong enough.

Since our application was put into abeyance when the British one failed in January, 1963, we have neglected Europe. Yet the whole economic plan for this country is based on the assumption that we shall be a member of the Market by 1970 ...

In view of our hopes and ambitions, we have been remarkably complacent about getting into Europe. We seem to think that we shall glide in quietly on Britain's coat-tails... We shall have to argue our own case strongly—and prepare our own path in advance. Europe is not waiting with open arms to receive Ireland. The blunt truth is that we are the type of country the Market could well do without at the moment.

Those are the kind of comments that have been made. There have also been comments on the small size of our mission and the fact that it covers the Economic Community, Euratom and the Coal and Steel Community, that our mission is staffed by a counsellor and two young diplomats, that our ambassador has been ill for some months. Comment is also made on the fact that we have no resident diplomatic mission in Luxembourg. It is covered by our Ambassador in Brussels. The article also states:

We have no resident mission in Oslo (it is covered from Stockholm) and no resident ambassador in Denmark (he lives in The Hague and is represented in Copenhagen by a Chargé d'Affaires).

The Minister may feel that the Irish Times and the Irish Independent are possibly unfriendly critics of the present Administration. But the Irish Press also had an article which was written by someone who was deeply concerned and who otherwise would not have written in these terms in the Irish Press. The fact that this article was printed in the Irish Press shows that our concern is shared, and widely shared. The managing director of the Irish Press was a member of a political group who went to Brussels last October and saw for himself how we stood. The decision to publish this article must reflect his feelings in the light of the visit which he made and on which I accompanied him last October. The article states:

The most startling and overwhelming discovery for an Irishman visiting Brussels is that the Common Market administrators are by no means ready to welcome his country into the Community. Almost to a man, in fact, they display extreme caution—and some are flatly unenthusiastic—about Ireland's chances of membership...

I heard several high officials argue forcefully about the dangers involved in extension of the Market to eight, or ten, members. They fear that formidable difficulties would arise in the present decision-making process if the Community were thus enlarged.

Some officials assume that Ireland will eventually accept a form of Association with the Common Market as a substitute for outright membership. They know of the Irish antipathy to such an arrangement— whereby we would not have a vote on decisions though we would have to accept their effects. But the people in question point to the likelihood of radical new forms of Association emerging in time, one of which might suit us. It would be a highly dangerous and negative approach to wait for such a possibility to arise. It is equally foolhardy to assume that we can remain inactive until Britain joins, or that there is nothing we can do pending her entry.

Furthermore it is difficult to find anyone in Brussels who agrees that Ireland will automatically be allowed to join the Community along with Britain as a sort of "junior partner".

The harsh reality is that the door will almost certainly be slammed after Britain. Denmark and Norway, in any case, can be confidently expected to push their applications forward at least as energetically as Ireland. And the objections to a ten-member Common Market have already been outlined above.

The foregoing are fleeting impressions gleaned in a variety of formal Market executives. But they never-and informal talks with Common theless indicate that our standing with the EEC is not at all as cosy as we are tempted to assume.

Several sharp lessons seem to present themselves here. The first is that we must wipe out complacency. It is depressing—and reflects no credit on our Department of External Affairs—that these attitudes should exist in influential EEC circles without it being realised here. Something is badly amiss with our communications.

Moreover our contact with the Community seems to be thin, and our activities up to now have made little impression there. About 60 countries maintain diplomatic missions at the EEC headquarters. Those to whom it matters most do even more. One learns, for example, that the Danish foreign minister visits Brussels five or six times a year.

The Danes take a keen interest in matters such as price negotiations between the Six, and they have an active lobby. It would not be exaggerating to say that they have managed to influence the final form of EEC decisions to suit their interests, on several occasions.

The facility to engage in discussions at EEC headquarters is open to any country. We should make more use of it. And there is another equally legitimate activity which could well pay us: that is, to sample opinion in the Commission and its secretariat more systematically.

It is essential for us to keep in touch with these changes. If we really wish to join the Community we must accept that the campaign for entry should begin now.

The only comment on these reports that we have had from the Taoiseach has been an obscure and, indeed, sibylline comment. We have not had the official text of his reply in the Dáil last week but according to the Irish Press he said that the journalists had behaved like innocents abroad and had made no effort to seek the motives of their informants. He also said that the Government had from the members of the Community all the assurances necessary regarding our application.

Now, how does the Taoiseach know that the journalists made no effort to check the motives of their informants? Wesley Boyd has challenged that in the Irish Times this morning. What motives of their informants was the Taoiseach thinking about? We have here a visit by journalists who met many officials of the Commission during a period of days and the officials were unanimous about the ineffectiveness of our efforts. The Taoiseach seems to imply that when word went round that the Irish journalists were to arrive, instructions went to the Departments, to officials, telling them to pretend they did not want Ireland any more.

That is sheer nonsense. It is possible a journalist might have met some individual official acting deviously in this way but is it really possible that there was some devious plot by all the officials? Of course there was no preconceived effort to mislead the journalists and to make the pretence that things were more difficult than they are. These were the honest comments of each of the officials the journalists met. I know from my experience of dealing with these officials that they are different from officials in this country and in Britain. They are officials of the Commission; they are civil servents—but they are also more than civil servants. The staff of the Commission talk freely on political issues and give their views very frankly and go to considerable pains to convey an impression of their thinking and of their views and of the views of the members of the Community.

To suggest that there was some concerted plot to mislead our journalists—that all the officials in Brussels were engaged in this plot—is sheer nonsense and is best dismissed as an attempt by the Taoiseach at the end of a tiring session to get away with an ad hoc comment. The Taoiseach also said: “The Government have from the six countries all the assurances we could desire at this stage regarding their attitude to our application.” There was here the clear implication that the journalists were attaching too much importance to the Community in Brussels, that our Government were dealing with governments and that there would be no trouble with governments.

That implication lies behind the Taoiseach's comments throughout the whole period of our negotiations. There has been a tendency to minimise the importance of the Commission in Brussels. There has been a tendency on the part of Ministers in our Government, whatever about officials, to feel they are the political leaders of our country who are dealing with the political leaders of the other countries in the Community and that the civil servants of the Commission in Brussels do not matter. I can understand that feeling among politicians but are they not greatly underestimating the importance of the Commission in Brussels?

It is clear that underestimation of the Commission's importance is not a fault of the other applicants for membership of the Community. The Danish Foreign Minister does not go six times a year to Bonn, to Paris or to Rome: he goes six times a year to Brussels, the nerve centre of the Community. He knows fundamentally that the Commission is crucial in these negotiations. While we might be formally negotiating with the individual members, the negotiations with the Commission will be crucial. Despite the differences with de Gaulle, the Commission in Brussels is the vital body and just to play up the member governments and suggest that as long as we keep in touch with them all will be right, is a mistake—perhaps a genuine one, on the part of the Government here.

I should like to ask the Minister if he knows what the Taoiseach meant by saying that we had got "all the assurances we could desire." The only assurance we desire is a firm statement, without qualification, that when Britain joins the Community, we will be let in too. Has he got in writing from the six governments, including Luxembourg where we have no representative, that this will be so? The Taoiseach's statement about "all the assurances we could desire" is nothing but a nice, vague phrase which does not mean anything. Assurances about what and to what effect? Let us have something more explicit.

We come now to the question of what needs to be done. The first thing is that the Department of External Affairs and the Minister accept and adopt EEC membership as the first priority of Irish foreign policy. It is the matter of most importance to us for the future of our country, not just economically but also politically, forming the first priority and something which cannot be dismissed in 58 words by the Minister every three years as has been the practice to date. But in fairness, from what the Minister has been saying, he is in favour of membership. If he has not been doing more to achieve it, there must have been reasons for it. In fairness, I think one of the reasons is the practice that has grown up in recent years of the economic Departments taking more and more lead in our contacts with other countries. These are matters requiring expertise and the Department of External Affairs could not be expected to have all the expertise: they must have officials from other Departments to consult in matters like that. However, one could detect during the past ten or 15 years, particularly in relation to our foreign policy —apart from UN affairs—a tendency to shift the centre of gravity from the Department of External Affairs to the economic Departments to such a degree that they seem to be taking the initiative and to be using the Department of External Affairs merely as a post office.

To the extent that this is true, it must lead to some inertia on the part of the Department of External Affairs. If the other Departments are carrying on our discussions themselves and bringing in the Department of External Affairs merely for protocol reasons, it must inevitably mean that the Department of External Affairs will not be as interested, enthusiastic or energetic. We may have gone too far in this respect. The Department of External Affairs have a great tradition of which I am personally conscious because my father was the first Minister for External Affairs in our first non-provisional Irish Government, and in the 1920s and 1930s, when our diplomacy was concerned with political matters and not economic matters primarily, the Department played an enormously important role in achieving our national objectives. It must be said they played that role in a remarkable way. The Department was, after all, started by a Government in the middle of a civil war and the officials concerned owed, or one would expect they would have owed, a particular loyalty to that Government, more than if they started in normal times. Yet the fact is that when the Government changed, the new Minister for External Affairs, Mr. de Valera, found in that Department a group of people particularly loyal to him and his policies and there was complete continuity at that time.

The fact is that, looking at it in retrospect, if we can get away from Party politics, the 1920s and 1930s were periods of continuity in Irish foreign policy. The first Government achieved, under the Statute of West-minister, everything that could be achieved within the Treaty which they signed, and the second Government, who did not feel the same responsibility for that Treaty—understandably —achieved further improvements in our freedom of action, in our independence and sovereignty by departing in various respects from the Treaty. That process of moving as far as we could within the Treaty and then later outside it was carried through by the officials under the direction of different Ministers with complete continuity, and looked at in retrospect, it can be seen as one foreign policy with a change of administration occurring at a point in time.

However, that is an excursion into history. What I am trying to point out is that this is a Department with an old tradition, and that it is important that, with our external relations becoming increasingly economic, it does not allow the initiative to pass to such an extent to other Departments that it loses interest and, to some degree, dynamism in dealing with these matters. This may partly account for the fact that the Department has not been as interested or as concerned about these matters as it should have been.

I think I am not being unjust in referring on several occasions to the Minister's and the Department's preoccupations as illustrated by the Minister's speeches. The Minister's speech in the Dáil in moving his Estimate should be, and normally is, an indication of what he and his Department are concerned about. He chooses what to speak about. He is given, no doubt, a script dealing with different subjects. He can select what he wants. He can direct certain things to be added and other things to be omitted. His speech in the Dáil reflects what he wants to talk about and what he thinks is important. The fact that the Minister in his speech on the Estimate last year devoted 58 words out of thousands of words to the EEC is an indication that he does not feel it is a matter for his responsibility. If he did, as a responsible Minister and as a Minister of great experience, he would have devoted a greater part of his speech to this development. If he thought the question of the EEC was of vital importance, as he said in 1963, and as I think he does believe, and if he thought it was his responsibility as Minister for External Affairs to conduct these negotiations, most of his speech would have been about the EEC, and other matters would just have been mentioned in passing as relatively unimportant. But he relegated the EEC to practically no position at all in the few words he gave to it.

The Taoiseach has become so involved in economic issues that the Minister for External Affairs seems to think the Department should be concerned more with United Nations affairs than with European Affairs, and that European affairs should be looked after by the home Departments. That is a mistake. What we now have is a Department of United Nations affairs which also seems to concern itself in odd ways with Northern Ireland and not always in fortunate ways either. It does not concern itself with our relations with Europe about which it ought to be concerned as the most fundamental and important matter in our foreign policy.

If this Department were orientated rightly, the Taoiseach would not have been talking in recent years about establishing a Department of European Affairs and appointing a Minister for European Affairs. I asked the Taoiseach a question a few weeks ago as to what was happening in this regard, but I do not think he replied to it. The reason he gave earlier for not appointing a Minister for Labour was that he wanted to keep the fifteenth Government post for a Minister for European Affairs. I do not know if there is any significance in the fact that he has now appointed a Minister for Labour.

What would the Minister for European Affairs do? He would be the Minister for External Affairs surely? Most of our relations are with European countries. Apart from the annual excursion to the United Nations and our relations with the USA, our relations with other countries are relatively unimportant and the main volume of activity is concentrated in the European area. That the Taoiseach should talk and think about establishing a Department for European Affairs and appointing a Minister for European Affairs when we have a Department for External Affairs suggests a very odd attitude to this Department, which arises out of the Minister's own decision, in effect, to opt out of European affairs. What we ought to have is a Minister for External Affairs who would have a Parliamentary Secretary for United Nations affairs, which is an important area in itself, requiring separate handling but which is subordinate, as far as we are concerned, to our vital interests in Europe, instead of which we seem to have it the other way round.

What I am trying to point out in my conclusions on this debate is that the Department of External Affairs needs to re-orientate itself towards Europe and needs fundamentally to change its priorities if it is to play an effective role and do what it should be doing in pressing forward our interests in regard to Europe. The second point is one arising from what I said earlier. We need a separate mission to the EEC, ECSC, and Euratom, apart from the Belgian embassy. There is a case for a separate mission to Luxembourg in view of the importance of the Luxembourg vote. However, I could understand the reluctance to appoint a mission to a country whose population is less than half that of Dublin. The answer might be a chargé d'affaires reporting to the ambassador in Brussels. But there is an absolute case for a separate mission to EEC, and that mission should be a stronger mission than the joint one we have now. It should have not alone an ambassador and a counsellor but also expert representatives.

At the moment we have in Brussels representatives of the Departments of Industry and Commerce and Agriculture and Fisheries. We should also have representatives of other Departments. The extent to which we are going to be involved in harmonisation of our institutions and laws with those of European countries, the extent and complexity of the negotiations that lie ahead, and the extent to which our whole life in this country is going to be changed by participation in Europe is such that we should have representatives not only of those Departments but also of such Departments as Transport and Power, for example.

The EEC transport policy is extremely complex and could be very important to us. We need to be in closer contact with it than we are. I do not think our Department of Transport and Power has been keeping in touch as much as it should. I know from my contacts in Brussels that there is a considerable interest in Irish transport affairs; indeed a while ago they employed a particular man, who is a recent graduate, to carry out a study of Irish transport so that they would be well informed in negotiations with us, and he took a year or so at that task. I met him there. I found also a willingness on the part of officials to discuss their philosophy of transport in relation to this country, knowing that we as an island country interested in sea and air transport which are at present excluded from the Treaty of Rome but which will eventually come within its ambit, which the other countries could not contribute.

In regard to social welfare, the debates in this House over the past few months show that there is in Social Welfare a lack of knowledge of and interest in the EEC. It is essential that there should be a representative of the Department of Social Welfare in Brussels keeping in touch with developments. I was a little encouraged yesterday when the Minister actually read out some statistics comparing us with European countries. It was the first time in the debates we have had in recent months that he showed he knows about any other country except the United Kingdom. Maybe that is a step in the right direction. We need a permanent representative of the Department of Social Welfare there to keep us in touch with the enormous evolution in social welfare legislation within the Community.

The Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners also should have someone there because the implications for our tax structure of membership are very considerable. Indeed, the Community are working out policies for the harmonisation of systems of taxation where different systems could lead to difficulties within a single economic union and we need to be kept in touch with that. Also, the Department of Justice, which should be so concerned with the harmonisation of our legal system in a number of respects with that of Europe, should be represented and, perhaps, the Department of Labour and Education.

Certainly, to be represented at the moment by four persons also covering Belgium and Luxembourg is unsatisfactory. We need a separate mission with adequate expert staff and adequate External Affairs staff because it is important that External Affairs should keep a full grip on the situation and the experts should be effectively advisers to them and not just operating on their own with someone from External Affairs simply there to make it respectable.

Thirdly, it is vitally important that we, like the other applicant countries, like, for instance, Denmark, should be in regular contact with the Community and that there should be regular Ministerial visits to Brussels and other countries. The fact that we have not kept up the diplomatic pressure; that the very successful mission of the Taoiseach in October 1962 has not been repeated on a number of occasions, and that the Minister has visited Brussels only once in this period, is very serious from our point of view because it means that, quite clearly, the Government are out of touch with the recent trend of thinking in Brussels with regard to membership of the Community. This can be dangerous also because of the lack of interest it shows, which affects people's attitude to us. The fact that Ministers have not visited Brussels or the other capitals and have not maintained the firsthand contact that the Taoiseach set up at that time is operating against us.

Sometimes, Ministers are criticised for travelling outside the country on missions, and very often wrongly and unfairly criticised but many of their missions are much less important than keeping in touch with Brussels. If, in fact, greater efforts are made in future to maintain direct Ministerial contact, there will certainly be no criticism from me of any expense involved and I will try to ensure that there will be none from this side of the House if we make the kind of effort we should and even if it means very frequent visits to Brussels.

Now I come to my second last point. I think our whole foreign policy has to be reconsidered somewhat in the light of this European situation. We have been pursuing a number of different foreign policies, really. I suppose, there are three in number: first, our foreign policy vis-a-vis Northern Ireland which still contains a few relics of the “sore thumb attitude” of the past—exemplified by the depressing insistence of the past on the use of the term “Six Counties” instead of “Northern Ireland”. I was in the Pro-Cathedral at the inauguration Mass and I saw a Nationalist MP examining the notice at the end of his bench with quite obvious distaste. It had been put there by the Department. It said “Six Counties Representatives”. He turned it over. At the back was the word “Nationalist”, which was even worse. It was assumed that nobody else could visit there but a Nationalist, that no Unionist would come to a Catholic ceremony in the Republic, I suppose. That aspect of our foreign policy, the bits and pieces of the old anti-Partition “sore thumb attitude”, still afflicts us. Pockets of this survive in the Department and I suppose it is a carry-over of foreign policy from the past. That is not of major importance.

Then there is our anti-Colonial foreign policy which involves a certain linking with African countries on an anti-colonial basis. This has weakened in recent years but at times was carried to a degree which has caused us difficulties in Europe. I seem to recall our vote in relation to the Tunisian question about five years ago when there was a question of the French base in Bizerta. Our gratuitous vote on that occasion when we could have avoided involving ourselves, caused some offence to France at the time which did not help us when the French were likely to be the most difficult people in regard to our entry to Europe. There was a lack of co-ordination between different aspects of our foreign policy.

We have, then, our European policy which almost does not seem to be a matter for the Department of External Affairs at all. We need to make out what is our foreign policy, what is our role. If our role is to be champion of the anti-colonial forces then we are not going to move easily into a Europe which is still somewhat sensitive on that account. If we want to get into Europe, we will have to be a little less noisy on some of these other issues.

Foreign policy involves a compounding of principle and interest—I do not mean in the financial sense. There are matters of principle on which we must stand. Where principles are concerned, certainly, we must do the right thing and not allow our interests to intrude. But there are many cases where there are no issues of principle involved, no issues that we need to get involved in and it is right that every country should have regard to its interests on these occasions and not gratuitously offend other countries when its interests will be seriously affected.

I do not think we have worked out the right combination of foreign policies which would involve an independent position with the United Nations, an independent position associated with the Western block, not neutralist but independent. We are still too much tied to America's coat tails, too inclined to have our vote determined by how America votes, still a little too influenced by this anti-colonial idea, and have not sorted out these things in relation to Europe. I do not think that anybody could clearly explain our position in the spectrum of foreign affairs because we have a number of different foreign policies for different purposes, not co-ordinated into one. We need to have a much better thought-out foreign policy if we are to succeed in our efforts to get into Europe.

Finally, as the last of these points I want to make as to what needs to be done, I do think we need much more active public relations in Europe, not just in Brussels, not just negotiations at diplomatic level and Ministerial visits. It is terribly depressing to see how little Europeans know about us. I met a person in one of the European capitals—a Minister— who asked how we liked our new Opposition Leader, Mr. Heath. The Minister was not aware that we had a separate Government. It had slipped his mind. So unconscious are people of the realities of our position that you get this extraordinary lack of knowledge of this country and its interests. The Government should do something more about this. They ought to finance visits by Irish people who could make an impression there. I do not want to mention names but I have in mind Dr. MacLiammóir and people of that kind who can speak the languages of the various countries and who would be names that would attract people and would add to our prestige. I do not think enough is done in that way to put before the people of Europe our culture, the contribution we can make, and to make them conscious of the fact that we are a separate nation and must be treated fairly and that regard must be had to our interests in the negotiations that will ultimately take place.

I said at the outset that I was going to be critical. It is the purpose of this debate. I think it is very important that these things should be discussed. I hope the Minister will take what I have said in good part. He will, no doubt, have to try to refute a good deal of it. That is the normal practice in politics. Whether you accept it or not, you have to refute it. I hope some of the points I have made will have some impact and that as a result of this debate there will be greater interest and activity in this field.

I am speaking in this way, not from any Party point of view because I know my views are shared, indeed, by many people in the Fianna Fáil Party and also more widely, and this is not a political issue. We are not talking here about whether we go into Europe or not. There is no disagreement on policy here at all. It is merely how we can effectively implement the policy and there is legitimate concern among people, whether in politics or not, no matter on what side, that we have not been prosecuting this matter as effectively as we should. I hope that this debate and other contributtions that may be made will lead to a more active European policy. I am very pleased that the Taoiseach has announced that there will be a ministerial mission. If the Minister can tell us more about that, as to when it will take place, and what Ministers will go, that would be encouraging and helpful.

The fact that we have had that reaction since the motion was put down and articles appeared in the press, indicates some proper sensitivity on the part of the Government on this issue. We are not disagreeing in principle on this. Any Government can make mistakes, particularly mistakes of omission. The purpose of Parliament is to direct attention to these things and to ensure that, if a Government are not following adequately some particular part of their policy or joint national policy, adequate pressure is put on them to do so. Even though the Minister may feel obliged to refute the various things I have said, I hope, having done that, he will go back and have some regard to those criticisms which he thinks most reasonable amongst those I have made.

I formally second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.

I formally move the amendment in the name of Senator Ó Maoláin:

To delete all the words after "Minister for External Affairs" and substitute "should continue to promote the Government's policy of securing Irish membership of the European Communities at the earliest appropriate date."

It is perhaps advisable to give a short résume of our application for membership of the European Economic Community. I do not want in this part of my speech to deal with some of the points made by Senator FitzGerald, but I think it right in dealing with a motion of this kind to give a brief résume of the history of our application. In 1961, Ireland, in company with Britain, Denmark and Norway, applied for membership of the Community. The following year, the Council of the EEC agreed to open negotiations with us. However, in January, 1963, before these negotiations could get under way, a breakdown occurred in Britain's negotiations, following which consideration of all other applications, including Ireland's, was suspended.

Senators will remember that the Taoiseach made it clear in statements in the Dáil following this breakdown that Ireland's application for membership still stood and that it was the Government's intention to proceed with it as soon as the situation allowed. This intention has been reiterated on many occasions both by the Taoiseach and Ministers, not alone here, in the Commission in Brussels and at the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, but also—and I think this is just as important—privately in the course of meetings with Ministers of the member Governments of the Six on their visits to Ireland or on visits by our own Ministers to European capitals and international organisations.

I should like to point out at this stage that we do not have necessarily to go to Brussels to meet members of the Commission or the staff of the Commission. Many of them have visited this country in the past few years since our application was suspended. Ministers of this Government have met literally hundreds of Ministers of these European countries, both the members of the Community and the members of EFTA, in recent years and many of these Ministers have paid us visits here. Prior to the agreement of the Council of the EEC to open negotiations with Ireland, the Taoiseach made a tour of the capitals of the Six and received all the assurances we could desire as to the friendly dispositions of the member Governments to our application. This attitude of goodwill towards our application has been confirmed in subsequent ministerial contact with the Governments of the Six.

What the Taoiseach said in the Dáil was not, as Senator FitzGerald said, that we were completely satisfied, but that we were completely satisfied that at this stage in our negotiations we had received all the assurances that were necessary. I want to say this. It is greatly resented by senior officials in the Commission in Brussels that certain Irish journalists indicated in their articles after they came back that the situation was otherwise. Senior officials in Brussels viewed these articles that have appeared with complete misgiving and alarm. They have stated they do not at all express the views of senior officials of the Commission on Ireland's application. They have pointed out to us following these articles that, as they have said before and as Ministers of the Six have said on many occasions, they had no reason to expect that Ireland would not be admitted to membership if we pursued our application when Britain is admitted.

Despite the breakdown in the negotiations between Britain and the EEC, it has continued to be a guiding principle of the Government that our economic and social policies should be developed in harmony with our objective of membership of the Community. With this in mind, the Government have at all times given careful consideration to keeping in touch with developments in the Community and to emphasising in the proper quarters our desire for membership. The Government have impressed our wishes in this respect on the Governments of the Six and on the Commission in Brussels. In pursuance of this policy, I myself led a delegation to Brussels in 1963. Similarly, an Irish delegation at official level met representatives of the Commission in March, 1964, and the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries led a delegation to Brussels in 1965.

The purpose of these visits was not alone to keep Ireland's interest in membership of the Community before the Commission and to keep in touch with developments within the Community but also to explore whether any interim arrangement could be made with the Community with a view to reducing the barriers to trade between Ireland and the Community. It became clear in these discussions that there was no possibility of a bilateral exchange of preferences except within the framework of the Community's customs union. It also became clear that the Community would not agree to any modification of the obligations in relation to the common external tariff which would enable Ireland to maintain tariff preferences to which Britain was entitled under the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement. In the circumstances, it was difficult to conceive of negotiating an acceptable trade agreement without tariff arrangements which would have any real substance. The Minister for Agriculture, in his visit to the Commission, found out what I had found out myself and what our Ambassadors to the Commission have always been told, namely, that there was nothing specific Ireland could do in the existing situation to further her interests under the heading of full membership, association or an item by item agreement.

These ideas were all canvassed not only with the officials of the Commission but also with the representatives of the various Governments of all the Governments of the Six. There is no use in Senator FitzGerald or anybody else thinking that we can have it every way, that we can keep our trading relations with Britain on the present basis and get the advantage of membership or association with the Six if Britain is not within the Community.

Apart from all these specific visits to Brussels there were, of course, as I have said, day-to-day contacts through our mission to the EEC and our missions in the capitals of the Six. The periodic visits abroad for other purposes by Ministers and senior officials, particularly to European countries, were availed of for discussion of EEC matters with their contemporaries in these countries. Not only our mission in Brussels but all our missions in the capitals and in other countries who have an interest in community affairs are under specific instruction to pay attention to EEC matters. The volume, frequency and detail of reporting from all these missions have kept our Department and the other Departments concerned in constant touch with developments in the EEC and EFTA. It is not necessary for all the officials whose duty it is to follow the progress of the community affairs to be situated in Brussels in order to follow them effectively.

It would be very nice if the Minister for Finance would agree and if the Fine Gael Party would be as enthusiastic as Senator FitzGerald is in the Seanad about spending money on external affairs and keeping missions abroad. Even if we had representatives of all the Departments he suggests should be in Brussels, we should also have to keep our staffs at home. It is better, I think, and it is certainly easier on the Exchequer and the taxpayer that the necessary studies of what is happening within the EEC—and what is not happening in the EEC, too— should be pursued at home rather than that we should create an enormous establishment in Brussels, with all the expenses that that would entail.

The crisis with the community which occurred in 1965, arising out of the failure of the Council of Ministers to reach agreement on proposals for financing the agricultural policy and also agreement for the future financing of the community effectively, ruled out for the time being any possibility of progress being made on the applications for membership of Britain, Denmark, Norway and ourselves. The crisis was resolved earlier this year but the Council was then faced with an accumulated backlog of problems of considerable importance and complexity to which it was agreed urgent attention would have to be given.

Progress on a number of these problems such as the financing of the common agricultural policy was made only a few weeks ago. The Council is still grappling with major problems such as the merging of the three communities. It is all very well for columnists and editors to tell us to keep knocking at the door and that we can break our way into the EEC, but sometimes men engaged in negotiations or having had negotiations suspended because of difficulties do not like others to be too insistent on knocking on the door while they are trying to sort out their problems.

All through this period of crisis within the community, the Government have been awaiting a favourable moment for a formal ministerial visit to Brussels. It was clear that whilst the community was in the throes of its own major difficulties was neither a suitable nor a fruitful time to seek formal discussions with the Commission. Soundings by us in recent months indicated that such formal discussions with the Commission could not take place before September and arrangements, for such contacts in September, as announced by the Taoiseach last week, have been put in train.

I think it is clear from the foregoing that the Government have been fully active in the matter of preparing the way for our membership of the EEC at the first appropriate opportunity. Moreover, as Senators are aware, as far back as the spring of 1961 we sought accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Following the application we made a few months later for membership of the Common Market, it was agreed with GATT that our application for accession to that organisation should lie in abeyance pending the outcome of our negotiations with the Common Market.

With the suspension of action on the application for membership of the EEC, following the breakdown of the British negotiations, we revived our application to GATT. One of the difficulties in this context was the provision of the then existing Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement requiring us to give preferences to Britain in certain circumstances. This point, as Senators are aware, was taken care of in the negotiations entered into with Britain for a Free Trade Agreement. It is not necessary for me to deal here in any detail with the Free Trade Agreement concluded with the United Kingdom in December last.

As early accession to the Common Market did not appear likely following the breakdown in the British EEC negotiations, the Government turned their attention to the active pursuit of the new trade agreement with Britain, an agreement which would improve our economy and provide a valuable opportunity for adapting it to the conditions of freer trade, the conditions which we shall have to face in the EEC. The entering into force of the Free Trade Agreement with Britain at the beginning of this month and the likelihood of early solutions of EEC problems on the Kennedy Round cleared the way for action on our GATT application. We have already taken steps in accordance with the procedure drawn up by the contracting parties to participate in the Kennedy Round negotiations with a view to our accession to the GATT in the process.

I turn for a moment now to the second part of this motion. My Department, I submit, and our diplomatic missions abroad have been suitably organised to deal with the situation in relation to the European Community as it has developed. As Senator FitzGerald pointed out, we had at the beginning contemplated ambassadors accredited to the Community as well as to the Belgian Government, but as the extension of the membership of the EEC remained static—no extra member having been admitted since we first applied—we were led to postpone taking any action in that regard.

When the question of our joining the Common Market first became a live issue, we took steps to complete our diplomatic representation vis-a-vis the Governments of all the six Common Market countries, the seven EFTA countries and Finland, which is an associate member of EFTA. We accredited our ambassador in Brussels to the three Communities and we strengthened the staff of the Legation there by the addition of three senior officers, one from my Department and two from the departments of economic affairs.

What are the departments of economic affairs?

There are two economic departments, agriculture and industry. We reorganised the economic side of our department at headquarters and relieved it of many other duties so that it could concentrate on economic affairs. The senior officers in my Department dealing with EEC matters are quite familiar with economics. They are not only graduates in economics but they have had previous experience in economic departments at home, and also in dealing with EEC matters abroad, particularly in London and Brussels.

When action on the British and Irish applications for membership of the Common Market was suspended, we reorganised our Brussels office in the light of the new situation and left one of the diplomatic posts vacant for the time being. GATT matters were handled originally by our Embassy in Berne and, where necessary, by visiting delegations from Dublin; but, when it became clear that the question of accession was likely to become more active, we appointed a special representative in Geneva, with the rank of Minister, to handle GATT affairs as well as the affairs of other international organisations active in that city.

Our present ambassador in Brussels has now served there for close on six years. He has done an excellent job, not only as ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg but also as our representative accredited to the three European Communities. In the ordinary course he is due for a change of post and he will shortly take up duty as ambassador to Switzerland. We propose to avail ourselves of the change and of the renewed activity to separate the missions accredited to Belgium and Luxembourg from that accredited to the three European Communities and the necessary steps towards this end have already been put in train.

Both at headquarters and abroad, the organisation in my Department is reviewed from time to time in the light of changing circumstances. We have not an unlimited purse and we have, as a Department in a small country, to try to spend the taxpayers' money to the best advantage. If there were someone like Senator FitzGerald who could get us billions of dollars or gold from Heaven, we would be prepared to extend the Department of External Affairs and the activities of many other Departments as well. On the whole, I am satisfied that the Government and the State are very efficiently served by the officers of the Department of External Affairs, though they are not as numerous as Senator FitzGerald would like, except, of course, when he is discussing the Budget. I am satisfied the country is very efficiently served by our officers in the matter of promoting the policy of securing Irish membership of the European Community.

I hope, however, that no one interested in Ireland becoming a member of the Council of Europe is under any delusion that the matter is one solely for the Department of External Affairs or for the Government alone or, indeed, even for the columnists and leader writers in our newspapers alone. It is a matter for the whole Irish people. It is dependent upon whether we avail of the time at our disposal and of the trading opportunities we secured under the recent Agreement with Britain to fit ourselves to become a viable and valuable member of the European Community. This, in turn, depends not only on what is done by our diplomats in the corridors of the Commission and in the salons of the capitals of Europe but depends even more upon what we do in the fields and in the factories, in the schools and technical institutions. It depends also upon our industrialists, our farmers, our trade unions, our teachers and even our journalists; and, if we want to prepare ourselves for admission to the European Community, which we all hope will extend its membership in the years to come, we will have to do all we can to improve our economy and, to improve our economy, we must improve our education, both scientific and otherwise. We must try to improve our economic organisations upon which the life of the nation depends, the farmers, the industrialists, the trade unions and all the rest. We have a big job to do in this respect.

We have made a beginning and I hope that as time goes on, all the members of our community will realise that if we are to make progress, to produce the goods we require for sale abroad, and to give the services to foreigners which will bring us in foreign exchange, we will have to do all in our power to decrease the friction between the various elements in our community and increase and improve our co-operation and organisation. We will have our difficulties in doing this, but if we look around the world, we will see that we are not alone in this respect and that the sudden impact of the new sciences has rather knocked our old co-operative basis out of gear and that we will have to have a look at how best we can take advantage of all that science is able to offer us if we can use it.

Senator FitzGerald made a number of points but I think what I have said covers most of the criticisms he had to offer. If the Department of External Affairs were offered by the Minister for Finance a great deal more than is in our Estimate, I doubt if it could be usefully spent, in order to secure our membership of the Community, on diplomatic action alone. Diplomatic action is useful to inform people about Ireland who want to know about Ireland. It is useful to negotiate with people who are prepared to negotiate with us on a reasonable basis but diplomats are not miracle workers and the basic element for successful negotiations must exist before diplomats can be successful in reaching agreement.

I myself think that it may be some time, even more years than we now expect, before the European Community will expand its membership. I hope I am right in thinking that it is inevitable that the countries of Europe will see that they have a definite interest in expanding the membership and I feel that when the matter of extending the membership is re-opened, Ireland's case will be considered, and considered not unsympathetically. I am constantly meeting the Foreign Ministers of all the Six countries and the Ministers of the seven EFTA countries and I have found no antagonism to the idea of Ireland becoming a member. The one doubt they expressed was whether Ireland could take the regime, whether we could suddenly dismantle our tariffs and accept goods freely from other countries. I am quite prepared to admit to Senator FitzGerald that we could not have done it in 1957 because we were coming out of the worst depression we have had for a long time. In the year before, as Senators will remember, our industries let go 25,000 men who had been in constant employment for years and if Senator FitzGerald's Party had done their work in the two periods they were in the Coalition, we would have been very much further on in our preparations to take part in the European Community.

The Minister's Government did not increase employment. There are 157,000 fewer in employment now.

There were 25,000 people——

Look at your statistics.

Listen to me. I am on my feet now. When the Coalition left in 1957, there were 100,000 on the unemployment——

That is an exaggeration.

It is the exact truth. Those figures were published by the Senator's Party. Of those, 25,000 had been in constant employment in industry when Fianna Fáil left and they were slung out because of the mismanagement——

Acting Chairman

Whatever about the circumstances, this is hardly relevant to the motion.

Senator FitzGerald raised the point that we had said in 1957 that we could not take free trade. Of course we could not because in addition to what I have said, 60,000 people had to emigrate to Britain to get work. We can point out why it was we were not able to undertake to allow foreign goods into this country in the years gone by. If we want to join Europe and accept free trade with Europe, we will have to put ourselves as quickly as possible into a position in which our farm products and our industrial products will be produced so efficiently and at such a cost as to enable us to compete freely with the goods, and without any protection, of other members of the Community. This I think can be done because in recent years we have achieved a very rapid growth in our industrial production, and even in our agricultural output. We can continue to expand our industry and get down the cost of output per unit, and we can also continue to improve our agricultural output. Even in this morning's newspapers, we saw that our cattle population has gone up enormously because of the £15 subsidy given for extra calves on the farm.

If people want us to prepare for membership of the Council of Europe they must concentrate first on ideas as to how best we can improve our economic organisation, how best we can improve industrial relations, how best we can improve the output of agriculture and industry generally and improve the services we can sell to foreigners. We have made a very good start in recent years in regard to those matters and I feel that, with reasonable goodwill on the part of all the people who should be interested in this development, we can prepare our country to be a viable member of an expanded European Community.

It is not often that we have the pleasure of listening to the Minister for External Affairs in this House. I must say it has given me considerable pleasure to hear him here this morning on this very important matter. The Minister's entire speech, apart from the exhortations in the latter part, when he departed from his script, was, to my mind, an apology for what he and his Party had not done in the past rather than an account of what they had been doing. We now have some promises. The fact that we have those promises uncovered here is a very good reason for having this motion on the Order Paper of the Seanad. It is well to know that the Department of External Affairs and the Minister for External Affairs are wakening up to what is going on and what should be going on and that the Minister is prepared to do something about it.

It is quite remarkable to me, listening to the speech of the Minister, to hear him referring to the European Economic Community as the Council of Europe. This showed a lack of familiarity on the part of the Minister with this particular problem. One would concede that there could have been a slip of the tongue but when one finds the Minister repeatedly referring to the Council of Europe when he means the Common Market, this shows a lack of familiarity.

(Longford): It happened only once. I was listening to the Minister and I have very good hearing.

I was listening with greater attention than the Senator and I heard it repeatedly.

It was only once.

I heard it more than once. I do not think it could have been a slip of the tongue. The Minister then —I do not know whether it was jocosely or earnestly—said that Senator FitzGerald should develop into some kind of a pilgrim and embark on a national novena so that we might get the necessary millions from Heaven in order to provide the mission we would require in Brussels. It is fantastic to hear the Minister for External Affairs, who is Tánaiste in the present Government, saying we have not got sufficient money or we could not afford to provide an adequate mission to go to Brussels.

I did not say that.

The criticism made by Senator FitzGerald here this morning was that it was wrong to have one Minister accredited to Belgium, Luxembourg, the ECSC, the EEC and Euratom. That criticism is entirely valid in the light of what the Minister tells us. We are going to have a new Minister to Luxembourg, to Brussels and a separate one to the EEC. The criticism made by Senator FitzGerald here this morning was equally valid in the light of that admission by the Minister. The Government are entirely incompetent in regard to what the position is in the EEC.

We had the Taoiseach criticising the political correspondents. We had the Taoiseach criticising the foreign correspondents who went out to the EEC. This morning we had the Minister for External Affairs joining in the criticism and saying that the people who went out to Brussels recently did not get the facts. That means that either those people are unable to report accurately what they saw and heard and to convey an accurate impression of that or they are deliberately misleading the country and misrepresenting what they saw and heard.

They saw and heard from the wrong people. They heard it from people who did not know what they were talking about.

These people know how to do their job.

They did their best but they cannot do in a couple of days what would require years.

I am sure that when those people went out, they were experienced enough to get the proper information and go to the proper people to find what was going on.

They were invited by a special journalist commission to see people at a high level in Brussels.

I am sure they were given accurate information.

This motion states:

That Seanad Éireann is of opinion that the Minister for External Affairs should initiate an active European policy designed to ensure the achievement of Irish membership of the European Communities, and should reorganise his Department and our diplomatic missions abroad so that they contribute effectively to the achievement of this objective.

The Minister is now going to do that when he undertakes to have a separate mission to the EEC in Brussels.

I want to depart from this and to refer to what has been going on up to the present time. In a document entitled "Discovery of State Services for 1966" I find that the Irish Embassy in Brussels has first of all an ambassador. It has also three counsellors and, in this day and age, there are two vacancies among the three counsellors. There is a first secretary and a third secretary. I would have thought the counsellors were the most important people in relation to our application for membership of the EEC. It is not because the Minister cannot get money from the Department of Finance that those vacancies are there. When you look at the Estimates, you find that there is current provision for more staff than there are there at the present time. There is provision for a staff of 11 as compared with nine who are there. That includes all staff down to the messenger. There is a total staff there of nine and there is provision in the current Estimates for a staff of 11. Last year there was provision for a staff of 12 so the Minister cannot shuffle off the blame for those vacancies on to the Department of Finance.

The Minister tells Senator FitzGerald to commence a national novena for millions but the money is in fact provided in the Estimates so the Minister does not need those millions to fill those vacancies. We could have a proper representation of this country in Brussels if those vacancies were filled. We find that this small staff is supposed to be accredited to Luxembourg, EEC, ECSC and Euratom. I do not think the Minister can rejoice in the manner in which he is putting the limited money available to use as far as representation in Brussels is concerned.

But here the Minister for External Affairs is saying that we have not got money at a time when we will spend so much next year on a second election involving an expense of £50,000 to the State. I am quite sure the people of this country will regret not having representation in Brussels, which is more important than the outcome of the local elections, even if they had been held on the same day as the Presidential election. That sum of £50,000 would keep four counsellors in Brussels for four years, or two counsellors in addition to those who are there for the next eight years. That is the kind of money the Minister says we cannot afford. I suppose the Minister can be pardoned for not being aware of these minor details of £50,000. Naturally his time and thought is taken up with larger international issues with which as Minister for External Affairs he is concerned.

I thought, when he was addressing remarks to Senator Rooney concerning what was done in 1957, that he was becoming again familiar with domestic politics but he has not progressed from 1957, the last time he was really in touch with domestic politics.

Business suspended at 1.5 p.m. and resumed at 2.15 p.m.

I was going to suggest, a Chathaoirleach, that the proposer of the motion might be allowed to reply at 3.30, if that had the approval of the House.

That would be agreeable.

Is there any suggestion as to what time the question might be put?

Four o'clock.

Agreed. Before the break, I was referring to the fact that even as matters stand the Minister had not been making use of the resources at his disposal and provided by the Dáil in the form of the grant for his Department. I think he ought—as he intends to apparently—forthwith to increase the strength of the Irish mission in Brussels to the EEC.

I must also express some disappointment at another failure which I observe on the part of the Department. In this motion we seek to get the Minister for External Affairs to initiate an active European policy designed to secure the achievement of Irish membership of the EEC. It is true, I suppose, that there has been a policy there for some time but it has been dormant. What we want now is that the Minister will take out the files, as it were, dust them down and start things moving again. I shall again refer to the Directory of State Services. When I looked at this to see what was the layout of the Departmen as far as the EEC was concerned, I must say I was disappointed not to find that there was a particular section dealing with this matter specifically. It seemed to me highly necessary that there should be one branch or section of the Department of External Affairs devoted exclusively to furthering Ireland's application for membership of the EEC. If, as was said, the signing of the Free Trade Area Agreement with Great Britain marked a new era in the development of this country, I do not know what words will be used to describe Ireland's accession to the European Economic Community because it certainly will usher in a new era with the most dramatic effects upon life in this country. I would have thought, and I think now, that the Minister ought to establish a specific section in his Department devoted entirely to the question of Ireland's application for membership of the EEC. I want to go further than that and suggest this. The Department of External Affairs, in this particular matter, it seems to me, is the great coordinator of policy and of activity. I think that the Minister—if it has not already been done—should get his other colleagues in the Government to establish a committee, with representatives from the Departments of Industry and Commerce, Agriculture, Finance and Social Welfare—all the bodies which will be immediately affected by Ireland's membership of the EEC. These should discuss actively with one another and co-ordinate the policies of the different branches of Government. In that way, we would have some kind of continuous and consistent policy in regard to Ireland's application for membership.

Such an interdepartmental committee has been in operation for five years.

It is a great pity that this and other matters have been kept under a bushel.

It was not.

If one reads the debate on the Vote for the Department of External Affairs, one finds no reference to this, and the Minister's speeches on those Votes are supposed to be a survey of the work of the Department in the previous year. This interdepartmental committee show at least that I am thinking upon the right lines when I suggest that such a committee should be re-activated because, like our application generally and our policy in relation to membership of the EEC, they have been dormant for some time back.

The Minister has given some indication of what has been going on between our Government, our mission abroad and the people with whom we are concerned in our application for membership of the EEC. While, of course, these things have been mentioned informally from time to time, I do not think that sporadic efforts of that kind will produce any great results. Any time the Taoiseach or the former Taoiseach was asked about the problem of Partition we were told that no opportunity had ever been lost in discussions with the British Government of mentioning the problem of Partition to them. One gets the impression that when the Ministers meet their counterparts in England, having concluded their discussions they say: "You know the great problem that still exists between our two countries, the problem of Partition, and you will not forget that we are still four-square behind the unification of our country." That kind of sporadic effort is productive of no good results.

It seems that the Minister is now suggesting, as a result of this motion being put down, that a few separate missions to the EEC in Brussels will help us to achieve the membership we wish to achieve. The Minister's speech was directed also—I think very properly—towards what has to be done within this country, and within this community, in order to prepare ourselves for all the advantages and disadvantages that will accrue from membership of the EEC. I quite agree that it does not depend on the Government alone but on the entire people of the country as to whether we shall eventually become a member, because all the people of the country will be affected one way or another by membership of the EEC.

So far as the Minister for External Affairs is concerned I cannot recollect a single speech made by him in this country on the kind of problems that will face us, the kind of things we shall have to do, and which we should be busying ourselves about here and now, and between now and the time when the real negotiations for membership will begin, and I am very pleased that today the Minister took advantage of this motion to give some indication of what would be done in order to prepare ourselves for the problems that lie ahead.

I recollect that the Taoiseach, perhaps after coming back from his talks in the various capitals of member countries, indicated there would be a programme of legislation required in order to make modifications in our domestic law and in other matters consequential on the acceptance of our application for membership. I suppose it is correct to say that the Industrial Training Bill now before the Oireachtas is one of the measures which will be necessary because of the large dislocation of industry to be expected on the introduction of freer trade. That is in my view the only measure the Government has introduced.

It seems to me that as far as our Constitution is concerned the provisions in relation to international relations will have to be looked at and probably revised in the light of the obligations of the Treaty of Rome. Why are we waiting? That is something that should be done now in anticipation of the acceptance of our application, and agreement worked out between the political Parties and accepted by the people. If that activity were going on it would show a real earnest on the part of the Irish people to deal with the problems of freer trade and adapt our institutions and our legal system to the requirements of the provisions of the Treaty of Rome and of the various instruments made under it. The only adaptation of our law that I recall being done to date is the introduction of something about instant tea and the imposition of an excise duty on Irish sherry. They were aimed at satisfying the requirements of the Free Trade Agreement with Britain. If we are in earnest about what we are doing in relation to EEC, legislation will have to be passed. Certain legislation can be passed which need not come into operation until such time as the Government, by order, will appoint.

Apart from our activities abroad, it seems we are doing nothing like sufficient at home to prepare ourselves for the new world of free trade as members of the EEC. I agree with what the Minister said, that industry and agriculture—in effect, the people generally—must be educated to a knowledge of the kind of things that will be demanded of them as members of the EEC. A great deal has to be done in industry. I have noticed that in Britain in the last eight or nine months the Confederation of British Industry have established a special committee to examine every instrument under the Treaty of Rome to see in what manner it will be necessary to adapt British industry to meet the requirements of the various instruments. I do not know if any such examination is going on here but if it is right and proper for British industry, of its own volition, to engage in an examination of that kind, it is also right and proper that a similar examination should take place.

In addition, I am certain that when it comes to various standards and specifications, both industry and agriculture ought to be fully au fait with what our requirements will be abroad as members of EEC. As I have said, nothing like sufficient is being done to alert our people to these requirements. It is no use getting into a flurry of activity and patching up our system when it is too late. We should be preparing for that now. Not alone industry and agriculture, but trade unions here should be preparing in the light of the pressures that will flow from a new situation. They must consider how they will have to adapt themselves to get their members to acclimatise themselves to the new situation: they will have to do a lot of rethinking about their internal rules and principles which may not at all fit in with the requirements of the new world of free trade in which we shall be living when we become EEC members.

Though the Minister says there is no antagonism to the Irish application for membership, I do not think that is quite sufficient. It does not bring me any comfort to know that somebody has no antagonism towards me or towards what I am looking for. What I need to know is that he is very fond of me and of what I am looking for. A neutral attitude will not serve our people when the time comes. The time is long past when we should be busying ourselves with the strenuous exercises necessary to acclimatise ourselves to the multifarious problems that will arise with EEC membership. There are, perhaps, many other things one should like to say but the time for discussion has by agreement been limited. However, I should be wrong to conclude without making some passing reference to what the Minister said about the domestic scene. It is rather regrettable that a man of the status and stature of the Minister—he is every day involved in the problems of peace and war and his great concern has been to get peace among warring nations—should in Seanad Éireann, where we are discussing a problem about which we all agree except on the means of meeting it, descend to the level of talking about what went on in 1957. Thanks be to God, we have got rid of the talk about what went on in 1922.

The Minister for External Affairs devoted a lot of time to it two years ago on the Estimate.

The Senators may be starting it again.

I think it is regrettable that the Minister should throw in gratuitously, with no help to himself or to the point he was making and with no benefit whatever to his stature as Ireland's chief diplomatic representative and institution, remarks of that sort on a motion of this kind. The Minister knows very well that that kind of thing pays no dividends politically and that it will not help us to deal with the problem we have here. In any event, all that he did have to say on the subject was quite wrong and the statistics do not bear out the assertions he made. The Minister is free to say anything he likes, but I think it is regrettable that on a motion of this kind we should be all the time going back when we are here confronted with a gigantic problem.

I am glad the motion that appears in the name of Senator FitzGerald and in my name has stimulated the Minister, his Department and the Taoiseach to do something about this great problem, in that we are going to have in September a Ministerial mission accredited to the EEC in Brussels. That would not have come about but for the fact that this motion appears on the Order Paper and while it may sound self-congratulatory to say it, I think we ought to be very pleased that Seanad Éireann has once again made its contribution to the wellbeing of this country.

It is interesting to hear Senator O'Quigley taking credit for the developments which have been announced in the last few days. If he believes that he and the mover of this motion are responsible for this, they are the only two people in the country who will take that seriously. However, if they like to take credit for it they are welcome to do so. It is quite clear that the developments to which Senator O'Quigley refers are not ones that could be made at a moment's notice. They are developments which must have been taking place for some time past.

Senator O'Quigley has been criticising the Minister for going back into the past and not dealing with the future. It seems to me the whole debate on this question has been dealing with the past rather than the future. If the mover and seconder had confined themselves entirely to what they think should be done in future that kind of criticism might be justified, but in view of the fact that they have gone back for several years and criticised and complained about what has been done and what has not been done, it is hardly consistent for the last speaker to say the Minister should not have dealt with the past.

The suggestion in the motion is, first, that the Government have been inactive, and, secondly, that the Department of External Affairs needs re-organisation. I do not accept either of those suggestions and, consequently, I am supporting the amendment which asks the Minister to continue the policy which has been in operation during the past few years.

In considering Government policy in relation to the EEC, it is necessary to have regard to the fact that there are three distinct phases under which activity might be considered. There was the phase up to January, 1963. During that time, when membership of the Community seemed to be a distinct possibility, the Government were extremely active. The representation in Brussels was a very strong and effective one. The Government Departments at home were extremely active preparing themselves for membership and preparing the sectors of the Community for which they were responsible. The Government did a great deal to encourage industry and agriculture to get ready for membership of the EEC. Public opinion was kept fully informed of what was happening and what the Government hoped would happen, and public opinion was in its own way preparing itself psychologically and otherwise for membership.

I do not think that at that time any complaint or criticism was made by the Opposition Parties of the efforts which were being made by the Government. Certainly there was never any question of a formal complaint, a vote of no confidence or anything of that nature, in regard to the activities which were being carried on by the Government. If that phase had continued there could be no complaint made as to what the Government were doing.

The first phase lasted until the veto by the French in January, 1963. After that veto it was quite clear that there was no immediate prospect of becoming a member of the Community. Once Britain was ruled out we could not proceed with out application, and it was only natural that the activity which had taken place up to then should have slackened, because there was no use in keeping it up at that high tempo when there was no immediate prospect of success. However, during the intervening years since January, 1963, the activity which did take place was of a kind which was appropriate to the situation which existed. We had a mission accredited to the Communities which was doing its work of keeping the Government here informed of developments in the EEC and keeping the Communities informed of our interests. This was a small mission and, possibly, some of us would like to have seen a somewhat bigger mission there. The question of the size of the mission is always dependent on the question of finance. There are many missions in different parts of the world that, if we got down to thinking about them, we would like to see enlarged, but the question of the cost has always to be borne in mind.

The fact that in recent months, through fortuitious circumstances, the mission has been without its head is something which cannot be blamed on the Minister or on the Government. It is something that happened and something that will be rectified in the very near future. That mission was able to carry on in a way appropriate to the situation obtaining for the past few years and, in the same way, the Departments here have been doing the necessary work of keeping in touch. They have been very well informed of what has been happening in the EEC. They have been keeping themselves very well informed of policies and decisions and, I believe, they are now in the position that, if the necessity arose, they would be able at very short notice to undertake the task of integrating our institutions and the various responsibilities they have into the Community, if it should happen that this became a live issue and we were given the opportunity of becoming a member within a relatively short time.

There is some truth in the remark which was made by Senator O'Quigley that if the Departments are as well informed and as well in touch with the situation as is suggested, they are not making this known to the public. It is possibly true to say that the public are not aware that the Government and the various Departments concerned are as well informed and as much in touch with the problems of the EEC as, in fact, they are. Something might be done from the point of view of giving publicity to what Departments are doing in order to prepare ourselves for ultimate membership of the Community.

I mentioned earlier the three phases. It seems to me that the second phase has now passed and that the possibility of membership is again becoming a live issue. That will mean that certain changes will have to take place. It will mean that diplomatic activity must be stepped up very considerably. I am very glad to know that it is intended in the near future to accredit a separate Ambassador and staff to the Community and I have no doubt that when an Ambassador is accredited he will get the help he needs by way of staff to do his job effectively and efficiently.

In this respect it is important that some of his staff should be from the technical departments of Industry and Commerce and Agriculture in order to assist him in dealing with technical problems of trade, agriculture and so on. The staff should not be composed entirely of officials from External Affairs who are skilled principally in matters of diplomacy but might not be sufficiently informed of some of the technical aspects of the work that would need to be done by a delegation to the Community.

I should like also to take this opportunity of welcoming the announcement made some time ago that the Government intend to send a delegation of Ministers to Brussels. This will provide the personal contact at top level which is very necessary and which possibly has been lacking somewhat in the past year or two. It is something which did not matter so much in the past year or two but which at this juncture is very important. I certainly welcome it as a very important and necessary step at this stage.

With regard to the measures by which negotiations should be conducted, there is some considerable difference of opinion as to where our principal effort should be made, whether we should devote ourselves principally to negotiating with the six Governments concerned or whether we should devote ourselves to negotiating with the Commission. Possibly, too much emphasis has been laid on the necessity to establish contacts with the Commission because, unless the six Governments concerned are agreeable to Ireland becoming a member, no progress can be made. If they say they are not agreeable to Ireland becoming a member, there is nothing that the Commission can do. Therefore, our primary effort should be made in relation to the Governments concerned. The Minister for External Affairs has devoted a great deal of effort to establishing close contacts with the six Governments and very valuable progress has been made in this regard.

On the other hand, it must be recognised that the Commission has very important powers and is of immense influence in the Community and that the goodwill and understanding of the Commission is of very great importance when we are considering the possibility of becoming a member of the Community because if one assumes that the Governments concerned are agreeable in principle to allowing us to become a member it is almost certain that they will hand over the question of negotiation to the Commission and that it will then be a question of negotiating the detailed problems of membership with the Commission and the Commission may easily lay down terms, conditions and so on, which would make membership impossible, even though the member countries had agreed in principle to our becoming a member. Therefore, the understanding and goodwill of the Commission are extremely important and, as the second prong of our attack, every effort should be made to establish complete liaison with the Commission and to develop good personal relationship. The Ambassador and other officials who form the mission there should be in a position to discuss on man-to-man basis with the members of the Commission and should have the kind of relationship which could be of immense importance when the details of the terms of our membership are finally to be decided.

It should be realised in connection with the scope of our diplomatic activities that our task is considerably more difficult than the task of many other European countries which are more integrated and better known in Europe. The more one travels the more one realises that Ireland is relatively unknown in Europe, except in some vague way as a place that the weather comes from. Some people know a certain amount about Ireland; a great many people know very little. This extends even up to the levels of people who might be expected to know better, up to the levels of officials, members of governments, members of parliament and so on. Consequently, our political aims and objectives, our status vis-a-vis Britain and our economic capabilities are relatively unknown. A somewhat greater effort has to be made on our part, therefore, than would possibly be necessary in the case of other countries interested in membership such as Denmark and Norway.

Although there is in Ireland at present, I believe, a widespread desire to play our part as a European country, to become a member of the Community, and an acceptance of the fact that there will be disadvantages as well as advantages in becoming members of the Community, it is doubtful whether this is sufficiently known in some circles in the Commission and in the countries concerned. It may be known to the top level but I think it is not sufficiently known on a wide enough basis, and this is something which may play some part in the ultimate negotiations. Public opinion in the countries concerned and a widespread knowledge of Ireland and its aims in the Community generally could play an important part when the ultimate negotiations take place. For this reason our diplomatic efforts have to be more extensive and more active than would be the case in some of the countries such as those I have mentioned, who are, for reasons of geography, if nothing else, better known in the countries which make up the Community.

I referred earlier to the three phases. This is the beginning now of the third phase. It is a time for re-assessment. It is a time when we should re-assess the position, re-assess exactly what our attitude is to the Community. We should realise that the Community which existed when we first made application for membership is a considerably different Community from the one which exists today. There is no doubt that at that time the Community was in some instances a more attractive proposition than it is today. There was far more idealism in the Community at that time, far more confidence, and its sights were set much higher at that time than they are today. This is something we should consider. It is not exactly the same Community as we wished to join in 1962. It is a somewhat different one. It is one in which the future is not possibly as rosy as it was then.

It is a Community in which the members seem to have to be content with purely economic considerations and with carrying on as they are at the moment. The greatest ambition of many people in the Community at present seems to be that they will be able to carry on much as they are at the moment, whereas a few years ago there was no question of their being able to carry on as they were then carrying on. They were always looking ahead to greater political developments and making the Community not only more ambitious than it was but extending it eventually to all Europe. There is now a great reluctance to extend it to more than two or three countries, and the hope of extending the Community to a position where there will be political union, where the question of the decisions to be made by the Community would gradually widen and the countries would hand over more and more power to the Community in certain respects, now seems to have been dropped. So that it is a different Community and it is necessary for us to re-assess the position.

I do not want to dwell on this to say I have any doubts as to whether we should join. I still think Ireland should join the Community. I still think there are great benefits to be gained by joining it. Possibly it is not attractive as it then was, but it is still a very attractive proposition. Even if one were not enthusiastic about the proposition at all, even if one took the view of hoping that Britain would never become a member and, consequently, we would never become a member, even if this were one's basic belief, I think everybody who examines the position must realise that if Britain does go into the Community, we will have to follow suit, apply and do our best to go in. A situation in which Britain, Denmark, Norway and possibly some other countries became members of the Community and we did not would be quite an impossible situation for this country. We would in fact have no option but to make every possible effort to go in. Whether you are a person who believes in this as something very desirable, something that holds out great hopes for the future, or who feels we have to go in whether we like it or not, the ultimate decision and the preparations which must be made in the next few years are much the same. They both point in the same direction.

We have entered the third phase of the preparation and it is time for a re-assessment. For that reason this debate can be useful. It gives an opportunity for Senators to give their views as to what course we should take in the future, the way in which we should conduct our negotiations and so on. It also is useful in that it gives us an opportunity to take stock of what has been done in the past. It gives us an opportunity of going back on the efforts made by the Minister for External Affairs and the Government during the past four or five years, an opportunity of realising the very excellent work the Government have done during these years. I am supporting the amendment to this motion because I believe the Government have done excellent work in the past—all that was necessary—and because I believe the Government will continue that work and will do all that is necessary in the future to enable us ultimately to become members of the Community.

Acting Chairman

May I remind the House it has been agreed that the proposer will be called on at 3.30 p.m.?

I suggest, with deference, Sir, that it is cutting our debate very short. I would ask for a little indulgence. I do not propose to be very long.

Acting Chairman

This has been agreed by the House. I have no option in the matter.

On the basis provided by Senator Quinlan of the intended period of his speaking.

Acting Chairman

He has 20 minutes.

Which is what he said he wanted.

The motion gives us an opportunity of looking at the situation more or less as Senator Ryan has done so well in the past half an hour. I think the dominant note that should be struck is the changes that have taken place over the past four or five years in the concept, scope and evolution of EEC. The great threat from the East has receded very considerably: in fact, it could almost be written off at this stage. It is no longer, then, the same idealistic grouping as it was at a former period. Senator Ryan quite rightly stressed the narrowing of the concepts there and the fact that the economists have taken over in great measure. In other words, it is a time for caution.

Both the motion and the amendment call for the achievement of Irish membership. I assume that nobody in this country is prepared to buy a pig in a poke and that what is meant here is the pressing forward with our application for membership, making a careful study of the pros and cons of the situation and then letting the Irish people as a whole make their decision because I think otherwise democracy means nothing in this country. If this is to be imposed without a very clear-cut referendum vote by the Irish people, I would ask the Minister whether, when planning for 1916, they made an economic analysis of whether or not we could stand on our own two feet.

They certainly did not have a referendum.

While exploring what this means, we should have a little pride in ourselves and realise that we are just as capable of standing on our own two feet as 80 to 85 per cent of the world and that is a fairly healthy position to be in. Of course, it does seem at this stage that there is a distinct possibility of England's admission to the Community. It seems that the all-powerful Commission, headed by Professor Halstein, are very much in favour of this, but we should not make the assumption that because England goes in we should or that we shall be allowed to go in.

I incline very much to the views expressed by the journalists recently— by Mr. Grogan and Mr. Boyd—that while the Commission want England in as a stabiliser on the Community as a whole, they do not want to add to their problems of assimilation at this stage by opening the Community out from a Seven to a Ten, which would involve the inclusion of the remaining EFTA members and ourselves. What will emerge and what we should be very much briefed on, right up to the minute, is various forms of association. Undoubtedly England cannot be admitted without the emergence of new forms of association that will take care of England's trading problems and commitments with the Commonwealth. One cannot imagine England going in and abandoning the Commonwealth. On the other hand, if the Community wish sufficiently strongly to have England in, obviously they would include this. We read in the newspapers quite recently that New Zealand is already making the running about special association terms for dairy produce. That is very much a possibility.

When all these matters are made up, I believe we may find, probably will find, in some form of association, something that is much more acceptable to our present aspirations, our present needs and even our present position than the full commitments of membership. One of the advantages held out of full membership is of being able to talk in the Assembly, to have representatives there. Speaking as an Independent here in the Seanad, I do not think they have any more power than we, the Independents, have here especially due to the very bureaucratic setup of the Commission under which the Commission makes the decisions and the councils are only advisory to that. In other words, this is a far more bureaucratic and centralised concept of a united states than the original and successful model we see on the other side of the Atlantic. Consequently, I urge caution.

I am sorry I have not more time to go into this but I want to strike that dominant note: do not sell ourselves short. We are a proud people. We have the most favourable asset in Europe to-day: we have free space which others have not. Are we going too far with that or do we think it is an inconsequential asset? In one of today's newspapers, I see a forecast by FAO of a worldwide famine. We all know about this. We have read about it. Surely, the imminence of a famine, or even the present world food shortage, shows quite clearly that the food-processing nations, in the interests of humanity itself and, to a lesser extent, in the interest of the preservation of the West, will have to play their full part in producing the maximum food they can from their acres? That applies to us here very much.

Looking to the future, I believe we have no worry whatsoever about our dairy products or our agricultural production. We shall just be contributing a drop in the ocean to try to alleviate world hunger. It is a noble objective and, at the same time, it is a very useful and very profitable objective for our economy as a whole because undoubtedly the wealthy nations of the world will have to carry the burden of taking up this surplus food that we and others can produce to try to do something to alleviate the world hunger. Consequently, it is about time we started thinking undoubtedly on application for membership and the necessary concomitant and we must go step by step with that—the various forms of association that may emerge, that we think should emerge, that we could discuss with the other countries as particularly appropriate to our circumstances. As well as that, there is the matter of our policy in the event of England's going in and our being outside. Surely we must leave our lines of retreat open? We must have our alternative plan and now is the time to do the hard thinking on that.

In furthering our application for membership, that is, in the exploration of it, we have undoubtedly got to assess very carefully, as the Government have done with some success in the past, the implications of the various commitments in regard to agriculture, industry and the general affairs of the country. High in priority, we must study carefully and get exact information on how institutions function within the European Economic Community. When we make that study, we shall find that they have a 20th century form of government within the Community. In other words, there is a different system from ours at work.

In those countries embracing the EEC, there is agreement that their public affairs be conducted on a committee system, and in those committees experts of every kind mingle with the legislators and with the officials and an agreed solution is arrived at around the table. Is it reasonable then for us to cling on to this 19th century parliamentary system we have got? Is it reasonable to accept the Taoiseach's out-of-hand rejection of our pleas for the development of institutions here on similar lines to those we propose to join in Europe? We should now make a start here with a committee system. Surely if there is scope for it elsewhere, there is full scope for it in relation to the European Economic Community? None of us wants to sound alarmist in public but we should dearly like to sit around the table with those who have the information, put before them our doubts, argue out our views and put forward our plans for the future.

The Senator is moving away from the motion.

I am dealing with what is necessary to achieve membership. We want to see what the terms are and what the impact is likely to be on our institutions here. The Government have placed great stress on the necessity of gearing our industry to meet the challenge and the impact of free trade. I suggest there is need, greater need, to modernise our parliamentary institutions, first of all, because it is at that level we will have contact with the corresponding bodies in Europe. Now is the time to prepare for that.

I do not think the Minister should keep the contacts here purely on the Civil Service level. The contacts should be made over a much wider sphere than that and the Civil Service personnel should be augmented by short visits from Irish nationals drawn from the industrial and educational life of the country and from other facets of our economy. These should be a clearing house for information when they return. It should not go without notice that at one stage or another membership of the Commission has involved personnel in the university life of Europe. This is the kind of commission to which we shall be tied up and therefore full use should be made of the personnel in the universities from the point of view of a section readily available to establish contacts with their opposite numbers in the Commission and their opposite numbers in the various bodies in Brussels, Luxembourg and elsewhere. All that is absolutely essential.

The Minister speaks of the impact this will have. While the Government have done a commendable job on the industrial front, they have been sadly lacking in assessing the most elementary facts about the agricultural front, apart from the assumption that, once the Common Market materialises, the El Dorado for Irish agriculture has arrived. No thinking could be more dangerously complacent than that. I appeal to the Minister to get the solid facts about agriculture. Is it not a fact, for instance, that we have less than half the number employed per thousand arable acres in any other country in Europe? How can we compete on that basis? Yet we talk about retraining workers at a time when it is really a matter of putting more workers into our main industry.

I should like to speak at much greater length on this and on the absolute necessity to keep the public abreast of what is happening. I ask the Government to ensure that nothing will be done without a referendum to the people. The people must be kept aligned to the implications of all this and they must be brought up to date. The best means of doing that— bringing our political ideas and general thinking in Europe up to date and keeping the public abreast of Europe— is largely done by television now. There there is a great need for a broadening of horizons. Twice before I have referred to the fact that the general public know just five people—the five Hurlers on the Ditch—and a few Ministers attached to our parliamentary institutions. The Hurlers are the supreme pontiffs of everything that goes on here. The reporters who sit and listen and record our views here are never heard. Why not diversify? Surely there is danger to democracy and to our very existence——

The Senator has now gone far outside the scope of the motion.

I am anxious to bring the results of the Minister's deliberations home to the people and we have a duty in Parliament to do that and to contribute our views. We have not been given that opportunity, apart from one Senator who spent one glorious 40 minutes with the Hurlers. No one else has ever been given the same opportunity. I ask that that opportunity be provided. I ask that debates be held in a general effort to educate the public in what will be the most serious decision that has ever faced this country.

Finally, when the men went out in 1916 and decided they wanted independence did they make a factual economic analysis or is economics the only thing that matters in the future? We have a very advantageous position here. We have many natural assets and it is up to our Government, when they weigh up fully the implications of the motion here and the result of our application for membership, to know what they have to offer and not to sell us short. If it comes to going it alone, I do not think we need worry about that.

Senator McGowan and Senator Jessop rose.

May I draw the attention of Senator McGowan to the fact that he has only about 1½ minutes?

I am prepared to concede a few minutes of my time, if that will help.

I gather Senator Jessop would like a few minutes.

I am prepared to concede up to ten minutes.

This motion asks that a more active European policy be adopted by the Government. I regard it as a bit of a gimmick candidly because less than a year ago the proposer of the motion was down in the North and he spoke there about the possibility of an industrial area being set up to serve the North-West. The whole theme of what he would like to see is to have Derry a port and an industrial area, with a total neglect of the county of Donegal. It is exactly the same kind of approach and attitude as the Senator has in regard to this. I could not agree more with the Minister when he says that it is not a matter for the Government at all, that it is a matter for the people. The people are interested in this and they have actually been in close touch with those who intend to go into the Six and into the European Community. It was very much of an issue in the last British general election and those who showed an interest in joining the Common Market of Europe have advanced their knowledge and are keenly interested.

I was very interested to hear the Minister say that in many ways, including technical training, we are better prepared to enter the Common Market than we were a few years ago. In that regard I should like briefly to raise a point which has been worrying a number of people and to which we have not got an answer. I should like to ask the Minister about the position of those professions whose training and practice are regulated by statutory bodies in these countries. These are the professions of medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine. They are regulated by the Medical Registration Council, the Irish Dental Council and the Irish Veterinary Council. Heretofore, these bodies kept a very close eye on standards of training and practice. What will be the position when we are in the Common Market? Do we interchange our medical practices, dental practices and veterinary practices with those in other countries? Will they be free to come and go? I should like to know the Minister's views on this and what is already happening in these countries which have this relationship with one another.

I am sorry if the debate has been cut short by the exigencies of the arrangements which have been made but in fact Senator Quinlan said he wanted 20 minutes to speak and he got 20 minutes, so I do not think there is any serious complaint there.

I should like to thank the Minister for his reply to my opening speech. Some of the things he said rather concerned me because I seemed to detect some element of complacency but it was certainly encouraging to know that the already announced ministerial delegation to Brussels is to be followed up by the establishment of a separate mission there. This debate and most of the newspaper articles have been worthwhile in so far as they have elicited this move from the Government. The Minister referred to three visits that had taken place to Brussels in the past three years by representatives of the Irish Government, led in two cases by Ministers. He seemed to feel quite satisfied that that was an adequate degree of direct ministerial contact. He also referred to other contacts he has had with other Foreign Ministers.

A good deal of his time was taken up with efforts to show that there was no need to have more people in Brussels and that people could sit here at home and study documents and in that way could adequately brief themselves. This is a mistake.

The Minister did not advert to what was said about the need for much greater frequency of contact with the Community and its Governments. For instance, there are six visits each year by the Danish Foreign Minister to Brussels and the Minister for External Affairs gave no reason why this was necessary for Denmark but not for us. I have a feeling that our remoteness from continental Europe, the lack of knowledge of our problems in Brussels, and the lack of direct contact all suggest a much greater need for contact, in order to catch up with the leeway we have to make up, than exists in the case of a country like Denmark, most of which is an integral part of the continent of Europe.

The Minister quoted the Taoiseach as saying that he was completely satisfied at this stage with the reactions which we had from the other Governments and the Minister when he was replying emphasised the words "at this stage". He seemed to feel that there was some special significance attaching to this phrase. This point missed me. It seems to me that at any stage and at all stages the thing about which we need to be satisfied is that we will definitely be accepted for membership. The introduction of this emphasis on the words "at this stage" is difficult to understand.

It was said that senior officials of the EEC had "resented the journalists' remarks" and that they had viewed them "with misgivings and alarm". The Minister also said that they had seen and heard the wrong people. Let us get this straight in regard to the journalists' visit. Senior journalists were asked by the Community to go to Brussels and they were assured that they would see senior people whose opinions would be representative of opinion in the Community. The Community were as good as their word, and the journalists did see senior people including heads and assistant heads of departments. They had contact with senior people and there was no question of their seeing the wrong people. The information they got and the impressions they acquired were acquired from the people they met. Since this debate started, I have made contact with one of the journalists concerned, in order to get confirmation of whom they saw. Wherever they went they got the same reaction. One senior official told them that unless something more was done by Ireland, Ireland would not have a hope. That is as near a quotation as one can get at this distance. Another senior official did not come out into the open so much but he kept on harping on what the Danish Foreign Minister was doing and was obviously making a contrast between the Irish and Danish positions in this respect. Wherever they went, they heard the same refrain.

At this stage the Commission no doubt are somewhat concerned about the political effects of this here, and concerned that it should irritate the Irish Government, and they have issued a diplomatic disclaimer which we need not take any more seriously than any other diplomatic disclaimer.

That is rather hard on the senior officials who, the Senator says, are responsible for these stories. The Senator said they said one thing to the journalists and another thing to us.

That is not unknown in diplomacy.

I know it is not but——

The alternatives are either that this was a diplomatic disclaimer or that four or five journalists heard things said that were not said by eight or nine other people.

The Senator is alleging that these stories were based on what they heard from senior officials.

They included two members of different Commissions and also heads and assistant heads of departments.

However, we must look to the future as Senator Ryan properly said. I am, therefore, more concerned about some of the other remarks which the Minister made. I think I am quoting him verbatim when he said: "It is not necessary for officials to follow Community affairs in Brussels". He also said: "It is better and cheaper for the Exchequer to study the reports presented at home". Frankly, I am worried now because this shows a failure to understand how the Community works. No one can follow what happens in the Community by sitting at home here in Ireland and looking at the documents. First of all, you do not get the documents at home in Ireland.

When you go to Brussels and see those people, you can pick up the documentation which is current at that time. The Danish representatives are there all the time and they keep in touch with what is going on. You do not know what is going on by remaining at home in Ireland. Those documents cannot be got in Dublin.

The idea that you can sit at home here and study Community decisions is absurd. This Community is in the process of development in all its internal affairs. This takes shape in various draft documents. If you want to keep in contact with what is happening there, you must do what the Danes are doing. You must be on the spot in Brussels and not sitting back here waiting until decisions on a particular subject are published in print.

That is not what has been going on. We have four officials there who are constantly in touch.

I claim that is inadequate.

It is a matter of opinion. You might say that 40 was inadequate.

I do not say 40. I say that a staff of four is inadequate by the standards of other countries. It is completely inadequate to have four people keeping in contact with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Community. Anyone who has visited Brussels and talked to people in different Departments will find that a very high proportion of those people have not had contact with Irish officials because it is humanly impossible for four people to make contact with about 3,000 officials in the EEC. It is impossible for them to keep in any kind of close contact with that number of officials. No other country would attempt to keep contact with four officials. But my point is that the Minister made a statement that it is necessary to keep in touch with the officials in Brussels by studying the documents at home.

The point is that it is not necessary for every official who is following the work of the Community to reside in Brussels at the expense of keeping people there. We have to keep some people there. It is foolish to suggest that we should keep them all there.

I should hope not, nor is it necessary to keep a high proportion of our senior officials there. But there should be at least eight or nine officials solely accredited to the Community so that they can keep in touch with affairs there.

There is a complete failure on the part of the Minister to understand how the Community works. We have to keep the Community in contact with our interests here and also keep in touch with the evolution of policy as it takes shape there. That is how the Danes keep in touch. They keep completely in touch with what is taking shape as regards, for instance, their cattle interests and they make sure that those evolving policies will not hurt Danish interests now or later on after their entry into the Community. You can only protect your own interests by close contact with Brussels during the formation of policies. This cannot be done by simply sitting at home in Dublin, however easy on the Exchequer that may be.

The Minister went on to say that the Community might regard us as too insistent in knocking on the door and that the Government were waiting for a favourable moment. The Minister cannot expect us to take this too seriously unless he explains whether he regards the Danes as knocking too often on the door. We are more cut off than the Danes. Why have we to wait for a favourable moment to make contact? There is something to be explained here. The Minister evaded this in his reply.

The Minister then went on to confirm what I suggested in my opening speech, that when the Brussels breakdown occurred, a separate mission was postponed. The reason the Minister gave was that "no extra member had been admitted." I cannot see what that had to do with us. It is a matter of public concern that we are not represented there by a separate mission, adequately staffed. The move to establish a separate mission is overdue. But I am sorry that its establishment coincides with the departure of our present ambassador and that he has not had the honour of representing us in this new capacity at least for a time. He has had contact with the EEC for a great number of years. He has acquired great experience and has done a very good job there. But I know how the diplomatic service works and that after a period one has to move on to another post. The ambassador has been there for a time now and is due to move on. He has done a very good job in his contact with the EEC during its formative years. If that has not been done adequately, it is because of lack of staff and not through any fault of the ambassador.

The Minister also said that in 1963, following the breakdown of the Brussels talks, one diplomatic post was left vacant. I am particularly puzzled about this because, as Senator O'Quigley has pointed out, two such posts of Counsellor are vacant in Brussels. Moreover, the Minister also said that prior to that, we had appointed three senior officers in Brussels in addition to the existing staff, from the economic departments, Agriculture and Industry and Commerce. He admitted that one was subsequently dropped. But we do not have, at the moment, two senior officials in Brussels, in addition to the External Affairs representatives, because one of the two expert representatives is a Third Secretary, according to the Book of Estimates. This is equivalent to an Administrative Officer in any other Department of the service. We seem not only to have removed one of the people concerned but to have filled another post by an official of a lower grade. We have in Brussels at the moment an ambassador, a counsellor and a First Secretary as well as another Secretary at a much lower grade. That is downgrading which fortunately is being revised.

The Minister tried to make a point about 1957, that we could not have accepted the full obligations of membership in that year and that we were able to do so in 1962. He went from that into an excursion of the economic affairs, which I do not intend to follow, as it would be outside the scope of this debate. I would like to make this comment. The difficulties which arose in the EEC negotiations were not due to the fact that we would not have been able in 1957-58 to accept the full obligations of free trade membership but to the fact that we overstated our obligations at that time and made such a song and dance about it instead of simply saying we were going through economic difficulties which would have been reasonable and would need a bit of leeway, which would have been reasonable and anybody would have accepted, the case we made was that we needed 30 years. Then we climbed down with a great show and we said we would make it in 20 years. Having got that, we turned up in Brussels later and said that seven years would be no problem at all and would create no difficulty.

There was a difficulty in having 100,000 unemployed and having 25,000 thrown out of employment the year before and 60,000 emigrated in 1957.

We are not talking about the situation in January, 1957, which is the month to which the Minister's figures refer. We are talking about negotiations in 1957-58, when we pressed our point and succeeded in getting a 20 year period as an absolute minimum, towards the end of 1958. Had the Government no confidence in themselves and in their ability that they thought that it would take 20 years when three years later they were able to say they could do it in seven?

It looks as if the Senator's idea of negotiation is that you can go in and state exactly what you will take, and that you do not ask for any more for a beginning.

No, I do not agree. But we asked for 30 and then took 20 years. The whole thing was overstated in 1957.

It was not overstated in 1957. That was the situation in 1957. We could not have taken free trade.

The Minister is now saying that in 1957-58 we needed a minimum of 20 years to 1977. But he then went along to Brussels in 1961 and said we could do it by 1970, seven years earlier. That was some improvement in the situation !

That related only to agriculture. We did not say that in relation to industry. We wanted an additional number of years for industry.

I hope the Minister is not suggesting that in 1961-62 we were proposing to get an extension beyond 1970 for the freeing of industrial trade because that certainly is not what was said at that time either in Brussels or publicly here.

Senator E. Ryan and Senator Quinlan, in their different ways, made a point about the fact that the Community has changed in these intervening years. This is certainly true. I would be more in tune with Senator E. Ryan than with Senator Quinlan. Senator E. Ryan thought there were changes, not necessarily for the better, but changes that we will have to accept and make the best of. Senator Quinlan was obviously more deeply disturbed by these changes and by a certain diminution of the ideals of the Community. I could not follow Senator Quinlan in his obvious unhappiness with the whole idea of membership and his talk of requiring a referendum, and of seeking some form of association. This association red herring has been hanging around long enough. In Wesley Boyd's article, which otherwise is sound enough, he made the odd comment that the Fine Gael Party policy was currently and continued to be for association with the EEC, which is not the case at all.

No one knows what the Fine Gael policy is because one-half of them advocate association.

The Fine Gael policy is set out in a document like the policy of any other Party— the statement published in relation to the Free Trade Area with the United Kingdom. If the Minister wishes, he will find the Fine Gael Party policy stated there.

What is the reference to the document?

(Longford): That was the one the Senator wrote.

I do not claim the authorship of any such document. The document in final form bears the touch of many hands, and this is true of our Party as well as any other. What I am saying is this: we do not believe on this side of the House any more than the Government believe that the answer to our problem is association.

I am glad to hear that.

There is agreement between us on this and it is important that it should be known in relation to future negotiations in Brussels. A united Ireland will get a better bargain in Brussels than a divided one.

I am glad the Senator stated that so specifically.

It should be stated specifically. The fact is that association, even in the form which has been granted so far—and the Community have made it quite clear that no one else will get the favourable treatment Greece has obtained—leaves the country concerned with little power to influence decisions or control over its own future. This is something which a self-respecting country should not accept. If we get involved in this Community, we want a voice on how it is run. It may be a small voice but there are times when a small voice in conjunction with others can influence decisions.

We heard this about the Abbey Theatre last night, how the Minister for Finance could, if necessary, defeat the directors by allying himself to the other shareholders. So also, the Irish voice in the EEC, allied to other voices, could turn the tide in regard to some important decision and we must not get involved unless we have a voice on how it is run and can exercise that voice. That can only be done by full membership and that should be firmly stated.

I could not follow Senator McGowan's point about Derry and Donegal. He seemed to be accusing me of being an anti-partitionist, which he seemed to think was a heinous crime. I think the barriers between North and South should be removed and anyone, whether he is Minister for Local Government or anyone else, who seeks to perpetuate such barriers is acting against the interests of this country. Anyone who tries to prevent a move towards removing the barriers and re-integrating the country is acting, to my mind, against the interests of the people of this country. I stand firmly on that and I am prepared to state on any platform my position in regard to Derry and Donegal. I assume the Senator was not speaking for his Party in this attitude.

(Longford): He only tried to show that you did not understand what you were talking about and that you are in the same position in relation to the motion.

Senators must address the Chair.

Oh, I see; that might explain something all right; that I would end up not only an anti-partitionist but also favouring European integration. The two things tend to go together. One believes in lowering not ony local barriers but international ones as well.

I hope this debate will have a useful effect and will have been worthwhile. It has already produced one announcement of some value, and in regard to the other announcement about the ministerial delegation it is a matter of opinion whether the putting down of the motion contributed to that announcement or not. At any rate, I think it has been useful to air this matter, and to show there is a real interest on all sides of the House in membership of the Community. We are concerned that this will be achieved effectively and we are behind the Government in this matter. If the Government fail to pursue this aim as thoroughly and as efficiently as we think is desirable, we will be pressing them from behind.

It is no harm that that should be known and that it should be seen. It will do no harm to our position in Brussels and in this country if it is seen that this House is concerned about this matter, that it has its eye on the Minister and his Department and is concerned to secure that the Minister and his Department are acting effectively in the interests of this country in regard to the whole question of the European Community. I hope the debate has been useful in that way and I should, in conclusion, say that I understand that neither the motion nor the amendment is being pressed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Guím saoire aoibhinn do na Seanadóirí go léir.

The Seanad adjourned at 4 p.m. sine die.