Therefore why is there need now for this Bill? I say there is no need for it. If the 1972 Bill was unnecessary then why did the Minister not repeal that legislation two years ago? He thought fit to leave it on the Statute Book and have it law. When that legislation was unnecessary in 1972 this new piece of controversial legislation is entirely unnecessary in 1975. There has been a complete change of heart in Northern Ireland in the last two years and the Minister would be well advised to set about working on that new political climate which is being created by people who regard themselves as Loyalists. We often wonder if they are only using that tag to forward their own personal political ends.
During the week-end people like Glen Barr made statements to the effect that they want complete independence and that they are in a position to break away entirely from Britain and that they want to go it alone. When one read the smaller print of his statement, read between the lines, one discovered that this political leader in the North was looking towards Dublin. He mentioned in his speech that perhaps Dublin could assist them in their efforts to go it alone. I took that statement to mean that this gentleman and thousands like him in Northern Ireland fully believe that the long-term goal of Irishmen both North and South must be the reunification of our island. I believe those people are getting the message. They have been shielded from world thinking over the years. They have been led to believe that it was a heroic thing to kill a Catholic. They have been led to believe that by waving the Union Jack they were doing something sacred and holy. But those people's horizons have broadened a great deal over the years and they are getting the feed-back from different parts of the world and are being allowed to express themselves more freely.
Therefore what is needed is for the Government here and the Government in Britain to state clearly that the British plan a complete withdrawal from Northern Ireland and that they will leave the further destinies of North and South to Irishmen who will solve this difficult and complex problem which has bedevilled generation after generation of Irishmen. This legislation will do nothing to bring about that situation. Therefore I am convinced more and more each day that it is unnecessary. I am convinced that it will not help to achieve unity in the long run. We should be all convinced now that what is needed is unity. We know that there is an imminent British withdrawal and we feel that the people must be conditioned into accepting that withdrawal and it is encouraging to note the change of heart among those Loyalists—those hard liners who would scoff and mock at the idea of a British withdrawal even five years ago.
Therefore I say to the Minister that this legislation is nothing short of repressive legislation. It will not create the harmony which we all desire. It will do nothing to stop the bombers, the murderers or the intimidators. What we need is a complete change of heart which there is ample evidence of at the present time. Therefore we should try in so far as it is possible to work along with that change of heart. We should all endeavour to march forward in the creation of a new Ireland—the Ireland that generations have died for in the past; the Ireland that we should all like to see, namely the reunification of our territory North and South.
This Bill will do nothing whatsoever to bring about the changes which are there for the taking and which I believe will take place in the near future. What we need is to ignore for a time the intimidators. They are a small minority. We should concentrate on political activities—the activities which will render the work of the bombers, the murderers and the intimidators futile. I do not condone for one moment the actions of those people but the cause of all the troubles is the presence on Irish soil of British soldiers. There will never be peace in this country while one British soldier is left in active service on Irish soil.
It is encouraging to note that the British themselves are anxious to get out of Northern Ireland. We wonder why they ever remained on for the past 50 years—was it for prestige purposes only or was it because they failed to understand the situation? They poured millions of pounds into Northern Ireland. They now have a tottering economy and they are no longer in a position to support Northern Ireland but they should not be allowed to leave Northern Ireland in the mess it is in at present.
We all have a recollection of what happened in an African State known as the Congo when there was withdrawal and the Congolese were not conditioned to self-government. We do not want a similar situation here. I believe we will not have that situation here because sane men will appear on the horizon and they will have an influence on people of good will, people who want to see real and definite progress. Therefore, everything leads me to believe that this legislation is no longer necessary. I fail to see why it is being introduced at present, why it is still on the Order Paper in spite of the many problems which affect this small nation of ours, namely, the Twenty-six Countries, the area over which we have jurisdiction.
We have economic difficulties, we have unrest in agriculture, we have a very high rate of unemployment. Those are the things that should be engaging the attention of the Government, because those are the things which are worrying our people. It is not a question of passing the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill, it is a question of how we can improve our economy, how we can get thousands of unemployed back to work. If the Minister, as a member of the Government, can succeed in building up the economy he will be doing more for the restoration of peace in this community than he will achieve by introducing this legislation which is obnoxious and controversial and which does nothing to help our economy. I would say, without fear of contradiction, that this legislation will impose further burdens on this community which is already burdened with the many problems which we have to face in increasing numbers day by day and week by week.
This nation should be prepared for change. Change is coming whether we like it or not. Britain is no longer the world force she was at one stage. She now has her own difficulties. She now has her own tottering economy. She may be more than glad to rid herself of all the problems which are associated with Northern Ireland.
One thing that worries all of us is the continuing violence in Northern Ireland. We ask ourselves what is the cause of it. There is a cause for everything. The real cause is, first of all, lack of leadership, lack of judgment, and lack of guidelines for the future. If we had those things, the men of violence would have to go underground before very long. They are a menace to any society. They are a menace to Christans and people who want to be called Christians. They are a menace to the progress of this nation. They have caused heartbreak, anguish and sorrow in many homes throughout the length and breadth of our Thirty-two Counties.
We are more inclined to blame the IRA for all the troubles than we are to blame all the other para military organisations which have sprung up and mushroomed in recent years both North and South. We believe there is support for the para military Loyalist organisations from certain sections in this country. They are not saying anything openly but we are led to believe that some of those para-military Loyalist organisations have support in the South. I do not know how true that is but it has been alleged that some of those organisations have support down here in the South.
People who support any section of those para military, military or sectarian organisations are not worthy to be called Irishmen. They are not worthy of the freedom we all value so much, bearing in mind that freedom was secured for us by bloodshed and by loss of lives. I fear that, before we have complete freedom, there will be further bloodshed and further loss of life. Therefore, words no longer have any bearing. What is needed is action, a plan of action. This legislation is not the type of action needed at present. What is needed is a solid and firm declaration by the British Government of their intention to withdraw entirely from Northern Ireland. Then we must have a planned and well worked out agreement that will eliminate the backlash we hear so much about, that will eliminate any further strife in this country.
When the Government decided to introduce this legislation did they have consultations with any political organisations in Northern Ireland? It appears to me that no political party in Northern Ireland are in favour of this legislation. For a long time we have had dialogue with the SDLP who represent the minority in Northern Ireland, namely, the Catholic community. We know full well that this organisation are responsible. We know that they have set out to achieve peace, to promote harmony and good will, and we know they can be relied upon to continue to play that role. We should be guided, led and influenced by those people. They are living in Northern Ireland. They have lived all their lives with violence of one kind or another. They have lived with the second-class citizenship which was imposed upon them by the dominant forces in Northern Ireland, namely, the Unionists, the Orange Lodges and all those Loyalist or pro-British organisations which thrive on sectarianism and on the creation of second-class citizens.
Before we can even contemplate passing this legislation we must break down the institutions of Northern Ireland. We need to disband the RUC as we now know it because that organisation is political. We all know that. I go to Northern Ireland regularly; I have friends there; I have had business contacts there for years, not as many of late as I had in the past. I have made many trips as far as Ballycastle, into Newry, over to Bessbrook and so on. I have been meeting RUC men for years. I know they are a sectarian force. They are politically motivated. Their actions are politically motivated. They cannot be regarded as an impartial body. Therefore, we should be asking the British Government to have this organisation disbanded and replaced by an acceptable police force.
There were suggestions in the past that the United Nations be asked to intervene in the Northern situation to ensure some measure of equality and impartiality. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I feel the responsibility rests with the British Government. Having been urged by the Irish Government they should effect the necessary changes to promote goodwill, understanding and confidence, bearing in mind that the RUC force, the UDA and the B Specials, in particular, do not command the confidence of the people in the South or of the minority in the North because they are politically motivated and their purpose is to ensure the dominance of one-party rule in Northern Ireland.
Does the Minister want to see the continuance of this situation in Northern Ireland, or does he want to see a breaking down of the barriers? If he does, then legislation which could be effective and implemented is what he should be thinking about and not this legislation before us. We all know that we could not place any great credence on the evidence being given by a member of the B Specials or of the RUC or, for that matter, a judge of any of the Northern Ireland courts because those people have played their part in the miscarriage of justice for years.
This Bill is some sort of an exercise only. It will achieve nothing. It is a costly exercise. It is taking up the time of legislators in this House when they could be more effectively employed on other essential legislation if we are to get ourselves out of our present economic mess. Therefore, instead of this legislation being put through both Houses of the Oireachtas the Minister should be thinking of assisting in the creation of a new climate in our community. The Minister should be working with other democratically-elected institutions and Governments to bring about peace and justice in Northern Ireland.
We are told this legislation is part of the Sunningdale Agreement. But do we not all know in our hearts that the Sunningdale Agreement is dead and will never be resurrected? I cannot understand why the Minister as a member of the Government seems so anxious to push this offensive legislation. I have seen no evidence of any public demand for it. I do not know why it is being kept before this House for so long. We were led to believe, when Sunningdale was first introduced, that it was an entire package. Therefore, when we tear that package apart and talk about implementing portions of it, surely it becomes entirely irrelevant? Why is there no mention whatsoever of another part of that Sunningdale Agreement which dealt with the Irish dimension? That is legislation I would be most keen to support and for which there would be public demand. It has not been mentioned in the Minister's address or in the Bill. Everything convinces me of the complete lack of demand for this legislation. The minority groups in Northern Ireland do not want this legislation; the SDLP, the voice of the nationalists and of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland, do not want this legislation. It will not appease the Orangemen, the Loyalists, in any way. I have known Orangemen in business circles in the past and nothing talks louder with them than money, gains and profits. Those people have worn Her Majesty's tag consistently because they felt it was profitable to do so. They felt that by so doing they would guarantee themselves a larger slice of the cake than their Catholic brethren who had the courage of their convictions and who for generations maintained solid allegiance to a 32-county Ireland.
We were all saddened and depressed at the poor response to the recent Convention elections when a large percentage of Catholics decided to abstain from voting because they were under pressure to do so by the para-military groups. It was a pity they so decided at such an important time in the history of the country. But that was probably an expression of frustration on their part. Probably they are completely disillusioned by the attitude of the people in the South. They may be forgiven if they are inclined to believe that we have forgotten them, that we have forgotten the sacrifices they have made because of their beliefs. Let there be no doubt about it, those people have suffered for their beliefs, because they wanted to be regarded as Republicans, because they wanted a united Ireland. They have been allowed to live as second-class citizens and to suffer because of those beliefs. Those are the people whom we should be helping. I do not think this legislation does anything at all in that respect. Possibly common sense will prevail before this Bill becomes law— if it ever becomes law. Probably the changes taking place North and South will convince the Government that this legislation is no longer necessary. It would take courage to withdraw the Bill but I can assure the Minister that if he decides to withdraw it, he will be doing something which will have the support of every section of the community. The Bill will do nothing to stop the bombers, murderers, bank robbers, knee-cappers, call them what you like. They are all wicked men. They are a tiny minority who have been successful because of the brutal role they are playing, both North and South.
Last year there were bombs in Dublin. We experienced the pain and anguish being suffered by many people in the North. We know that as a result of that cowardly exercise people have been maimed and invalided for life. The unfortunate part of this is that up to this very moment nobody has been apprehended for any of the bombings in any part of the country, whether it be in Cavan, Monaghan, Dublin or Dundalk. People have suffered because of the deeds of those misguided and wicked men. If those people want to play an adequate role in society, if they wish to be regarded as Irishmen, they should cease their wicked activities now. There can be no winners in such a game. It is not a game, it is an act of hooliganism, an act I cannot find words to adequately condemn.
What is needed now is new thinking that will take people's minds away entirely from violence. As I said, the statement made by Glen Barr over the weekend is a clear indication that a change is taking place. We should do everything possible to foster change. That is the only way we will eliminate violence from our society. There is every need to eliminate violence, which creates bitterness, dissention, hardship and anguish. All political parties are united in their efforts to eliminate that element from our society.
Is it not extraordinary that we have in the North political leaders who can still see only one side of the picture? There are the Loyalists, the UUUC— they have so many names that it is very hard to keep track of them. All those people have failed to condemn acts committed by Loyalist para-military organisations. We are convinced that those people are still active in Northern Ireland and that they are continuing this violent role in an effort to create fear in the minds of the people in Northern Ireland in order to achieve their own political objectives, namely, power and control. There can be no doubt about that. It is encouraging to see younger leaders, like Glen Barr, having a change of heart. As I said earlier, I got the message from the statement that those people were beginning to think about Dublin and not London. There is need for us to go along with them, so far as we can, without interfering with the long-term objective.
One of our great political leaders of the past—Eamon de Valera—clearly stated that he would have no objection to the establishment of a federal parliament in the Six Counties, if it was established within the framework of a 32-county nation. There is a need to go along with the statement made by the leaders in 1975. That is the only way we can achieve the change we desire so badly in 1975.
As I said before, the progress of this nation has been impeded by the level of violence over the past few years. As a matter of fact, the progress of this nation has been impeded for the last 50 years, since we got independence. Look at the cost of maintaining, patrolling and keeping a police force on the Border. It goes from Donegal to County Down, to the Mourne Mountains. We must realise the cost that this community have to bear in order to patrol and police a Border we never accepted. We never accepted Partition. I do not think that any responsible political party ever accepted Partition. We must move now with the new thinking that is becoming evident day by day and week by week. Even if we have to accept a federal parliament as a solution, then we should cultivate that idea, so long as it means a 32-country nation.
This very large and complicated legislation is entirely irrelevant at this stage. Many people within the Labour and Fine Gael Parties fully realise that this is a rapidly-changing situation and the need to create new thinking. Somebody has to take the bold step forward and decide: "Right, now is the time for change. We are prepared to move with change. Are you prepared to come with us?" That is what we must say to the British Government, because they are the people who will decide the destiny of future generations of Irishmen who have to live in this country. We all want to see progress. We cannot have progress when we have violence, let it be North or South.
I fail to see what this Bill can or will do to stem the level of violence which we have from day to day or to stem the level of sectarian killings which are taking place day by day, and more noticeably at weekends. I do not know how those people can commit such acts. I do not know what kind of people they are. It is disturbing to think that all those murderers are still loose in society, whether they are in the Twenty-six Counties or in the North. One thing we must all believe and try to fully understand is that there are hundreds of murderers loose in this country, North and South, at the present time. I do not know if this legislation will do anything to have those people apprehended for the crimes they have committed. There is no crime that I know of that needs punishment more than the crimes being committed by those sectarian murderers. I would support any measure that would ensure the arrest and trial of those people.
As I said before, with the present set-up in Northern Ireland we cannot hope to arrest those people, or have them tried and punished for the crimes they have committed. There can be no doubt about it: they have committed the foulest crimes man could ever dream of committing. They are not human beings. In my opinion they are bordering on savages. This legislation will do nothing because the legal set-up in Northern Ireland does not justify the arrest, the trial and punishment of those people.
For the past 50 years those Unionists have used many, many names whenever they felt it was to their advantage to use them. It was not for the love of Britain that they were Unionists or Loyalists. They used those tags because it was politically profitable to do so. That is why those people have continued on the road towards giving the pretence that they were more loyal than Her Majesty when in actual fact they were only loyal to themselves. There can be no doubt about that. The British Government now realise it. The vast majority of the people in Britain realise that and the majority of the people down here realise that. The national press, radio and television have brought home to many Orangemen, Loyalists, UDA men, UUF and so on that the expressed statements of those people was not statements of loyalty to Her Majesty's Government. They were statements which had the clear intention of furthering the personal ambitions of political leaders in Northern Ireland.
Before we can even talk about this legislation the institutions of the North as they are at the present time must be broken down. There must be a replacement of the RUC force and the dreaded B-Specials, because they were entirely political. In order to be a B-Special you had to be a member of the Orange Order. Those are the people, in my opinion, who did great injury to the cause of national unity. They did this for profit. The British Government continue to pay those people for political acts. They did it because they were receiving payment from the British Government. It is encouraging to all of us to know that the British public have at last awakened to the necessity for withdrawing from Northern Ireland. I believe that there is a very broad consensus of opinion in Britain that the English people are fed up with Northern Ireland and they are asking why they must continue to prop that regime in Northern Ireland.
I stated earlier on that, if Britain decided to withdraw, the threats of the paramilitary organisations in the North would mean nothing because they would find themselves completely isolated. They would find that the setting up of Departments to run Northern Ireland would be much more difficult than they had at first realised. For the past 50 years they enjoyed first-class citizenship. They enjoyed the cream of everything that Britain put into Northern Ireland and the unfortunate Catholics, the people who wanted unity with us, have been allowed to become just second-class citizens.
Is it not extraordinary that three or four generations of families in Northern Ireland have never known what a day's work was like? People have married while unemployed. They have reared their families on unemployment. Their sons and daughters have never known what it was to enjoy a day's work and they have never known what it was to be allowed to play their part as citizens, bearing in mind that every man wishes to have the privilege of doing a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. Those people have never known what it was like to enjoy that right. It is man's right to work no matter where he lives, who he is, or what his religion, his colour or class are.
This Bill, if it is necessary, should at least be postponed until we have the commencement of negotiations with the British Government on the planned withdrawal from Northern Ireland. It would only be reasonable for all of us to call on Britain now to commence that planned and phased withdrawal. They cannot do it tomorrow, in a week, in a month or in a year but they can at least issue a declaration of intent. They can decide to plan for that withdrawal. They can condition all sections of the community to accept that withdrawal. Then, and only then, can we hope to have real peace or real progress both North and South. I am still at a loss to know why this section of the Sunningdale Agreement has been put before both Houses of the Oireachtas. I cannot understand why the Irish dimension has been excluded. Possibly, there is a reason for it.