Private Members' Business. - European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1986: Committee Stage.

Section 1 agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 2, before section 2 to insert the following new section:

"2.—Nothing in this Act shall affect the jurisdiction or powers heretofore vested in the Courts established by law pursuant to Article 34 of the Constitution in any matter of domestic law.".

This amendment is a vital part of the protection that is needed to ensure that nothing that can happen as a result of this Bill will overrule our protection under section 34 of the Constitution. Section 34 of the Constitution is explicit. Section 2 reads:

Reference to the Assembly of the European Communities in any Act passed or Statutory Instrument made before the commencement of this Act shall be construed as references to the European Parliament.

This would appear to suggest that the Constitution can be overridden by section 2 of this Act. If that is the intention of the Government, let the Government say that this is the intention. Article 34 is quite specific about the jurisdiction of courts:

Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and, save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public.

Tri Gaeilge, Airteagal 34:

Is i gcúirteanna a bhunaítear le dlí agus ag breithiúna a cheaptar ar an modh atá leagtha amach sa Bhunreacht seo a riarfar ceart, agus is go poiblí a dhéanfar sin ach amháin sna cásanna speisialta teoranta sin a ordófar le dlí.

The first section of section 34 is quite specific in that it says justice shall be administered in courts. I presume this means that section 2 is not legitimate. Article 34 2 reads:

The Courts shall comprise Courts of First Instance and a Court of Final Appeal.

Section 2 of this Act says that references to the Assembly of the European Communities in any Act — it does not say any Irish Act; it does not say any British Act — passed or Statutory Instrument made before the commencement of this Act shall be construed as references to the European Parliament. This would appear to give preference to the European Parliament over the Constitution. That is not what we require in out debate on the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1986. The Irish section reads:

Beidh ar na cúirteanna sin Cúirteanna Céadchéime agus Cúirt Achomhairc Dheiridh.

In other words, the Irish courts shall be the particular deliberating courts.

Section 2 of this Act would appear to override Article 34 1º of the Constitution:

The Court of First Instance shall include a High Court invested with full original jurisdiction in and power to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal.

Section 2 states quite specifically:

shall be construed as references to the European Parliament.

There is no doubt in my mind that the inference in section 2 is that any references will override our constitutional rights under Section 34 of the Constituion. When mention is made of First Instance and of the High Court it is important that the Irish version, the first language, has to be taken:

Beidh ar na Cúirteanna Céadchéime sin Ard-Chúirt ag a mbeidh lándlínse bhunaidh, agus cumhacht, chun breith a thabhairt, i ngach ní agus ceist dlí nó fíorais cibé sibhialta nó coiriúil siad.

It states quite specifically in the Irish language whether they be civil or not. I would ask the Minister to give me an answer as to where section 2 of this Bill can be construed in any way other than in direct contravention of Article 34 of the Constitution.

I am a little confused about the reference to section 2 and the amendments proposed in it. All section 2 does is change the name of the "Assembly", which is the word in the treaties, to "Parliament". That is the only effect of section 2 of the Bill. It does nothing else. Since it is directly elected it is certainly known by the peoples of Europe — the 320 million people of Europe — as being the European Parliament. This recognises that and names it as "European Parliament" and says that any reference in treaties or national laws to the "European Assembly" should now be made to the "European Parliament". It has no bearing on our Constitution at all. It merely changes the name from the "European Assembly" to the "European Parliament".

Where is the Minister getting his references from? If we are changing something I would like to see the original reference. When he suggests that it is just a change from "European Assembly" to "European Parliament", I would like to have the original documentation on our entry into Europe which now has to be changed from "European Assembly" to "European Parliament".

Amendment No. 3 to the Constitution changed our Constitution and allowed us to become a member of the European Community. Since we joined the Community — indeed since the Community was set up — the Assembly, which was appointed originally and is now elected, consisted of members from the various countries. What was always referred to as the "European Assembly" is now called the `European Parliament". Section 2 of this Bill says:

Reference to the Assembly of the European Communities in any Act passed or Statutory Instruments made before the commencement of this Act...

That is the Single European Act—

...shall be construed as references to the European Parliament.

Henceforth it will be called the "European Parliament" and anywhere in the treaties or in legislation where it is referred to as the "Assembly" it shall be construed now as meaning the "Parliament". That is all the sections says. There is nothing else in that section except that.

References have been made.

You are getting away from the amendment and you are getting on to the section. Stay with the amendment until we get it cleared and then you can have a whole night on the section.

Under the amendment can the Minister guarantee me that courts of First Instance which, I would presume, are Irish courts of First Instance are not being ruled out?

Page 28 of the Treaty establishing the European Community in 1973 reads that the Assembly, which shall consist of representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community, shall exercise the supervisory powers which are conferred upon it by this Treaty.

Article 21 reads that the Assembly shall consist of delegates who shall be designated by their respective Parliaments from among their members in accordance with the procedure laid down by each Member State. That was what the original referendum was about in joining the Assembly. As I understand it, the Minister is now saying that since that treaty in 1973 we have had a directly elected Parliament which is now referred to by everybody as a "Parliament". The Act setting up the direct elections to the Parliament referred to "elections to a Parliament" and as such I accept that.

Again you are getting away. It is solely about the courts. Stay with the amendment and we will come to the section afterwards.

Under the Single European Act the European Assembly is officially renamed the European Parliament. That is the major change. The Single European Act contains provisions concerning the roles——

When we clear the amendment we will come to the section. That is as fair as I can be.

I proposed the amendment.

I cannot accept the amendment.

I am putting the motion, "That the new section be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 31.

  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • de Brún, Séamus.
  • Fallon, Sean.
  • Fitzsimons, Jack.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kiely, Rory.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lanigan, Mick.
  • Lynch, Michael.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, William.

Níl

  • Belton, Luke.
  • Browne, John.
  • Bulbulia, Katherine.
  • Cregan, Denis (Dino).
  • Daly, Jack.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Dooge, James C.I.
  • Durcan, Patrick.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • FitzGerald, Alexis J.G.
  • Fleming, Brian.
  • Harte, John.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hourigan, Richard V.
  • Howard, Michael.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Connor, John.
  • Conway, Timmy.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Peter.
  • Lennon, Joseph.
  • McDonald, Charlie.
  • McGonagle, Stephen.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Magner, Pat.
  • O'Brien, Andy.
  • O'Leary, Sean.
  • O'Mahony, Flor.
  • Quealy, Michael A.
  • Ross, Shane P.N.
Tellers: Tá, Senators W. Ryan and Harte; Níl, Senators Belton and Seamus de Brún.
Question declared lost.

Let us be clear about amendment No. 2 which states: "Nothing in this Act shall operate so as to limit or quantify the fundamental rights of the citizen as guaranteed and protected by Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution". Articles 40 to 44 refer to fundamental rights, personal rights, the family, education, private property and religion. Will the Senators please stay on that until we get the amendment disposed of and the if they wish to speak on the section that will be in order.

I am not too sure exactly what sort of constraints you are putting on me.

I am not putting any constraints on you, I am telling you what is in your amendment and I am telling the Minister and Senator Ferris too.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 2, before section 2 to insert the following new section:

"2.—Nothing in this Act shall operate so as to limit or qualify the fundamental rights of the citizen as guaranteed and protected by Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution.".

Having regard to Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution will the Minister say if there is any area in which there will not be diminution of protection?

No, there is not. This was catered before because there was some concern about this. As a result we got written into it that anything under Article 36 must be retained so that no Council decision or decision of the Community at any level could impose on us any obligation as regards divorce, contraception, abortion or anything else of that nature. I can give the Senator a guarantee in that regard.

The Minister mentioned Articles 36, we are talking about Articles 40 to 44.

I am talking about an Article in the original treaties.

Under the original Treaty of Accession to Europe there is a guarantee. We are talking about a European Assembly, not a European Parliament. There is a difference, between them. The Single European Act changes the name from "Assembly" to "Parliament". Is there a legal difficulty?

You can come back to that on the section.

The actual booklet is titled.

You can talk about that on the section, but not on the amendment.

The Minister has given a definite guarantee that there is nothing in the Articles of the Treaty of Accession to the European Assembly that can override any legal rights that anybody has in this country under our laws regarding certain matters — he mentioned contraception, divorce and whatever. We did not join a European Parliament: the Treaty of Accession referred to the European Assembly. There is a definite difference between a European Assembly even though the Single European Act just says we are changing the words.

I can see the Senator's point, but it does not arise on this amendment. I clearly pointed out what arises on your own amendment. It does arise when we clear the amendment on the section.

I asked for a guarantee from the Minister. He has not addressed himself to Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution. He has addressed himself to Article 36 of the Treaty of Accession to Europe.

I do not accept that.

There is a difference between a European Assembly and a European Parliament. The Minister did not mention Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution.

The Minister replied to it quite clearly.

Sorry. Could I ask then a specific question? Is the Minister suggesting that under this new legislation there will be no diminution of citizens' rights or there is absolutely no way that citizens of Ireland will have a lessening of their rights under Irish law as set out in Articles 40 to 44 of the Constitution.

I referred the Senator to Article 36 of the original Treaties. I am not quite sure the point he is making in regard to the Assembly and the Parliament. I thought I had explained that.

It does not arise on the amendment.

The provisions of Article 36 shall not preclude prohibitions or restrictions on import or export of goods in transit, justified on grounds of public morality, public policy or public security, the protection of health and human life, animals and plants. That is Article 36 of the original Treaty. That is not changed under the Single European Act.

On a point of legality, does not the book the Minister is reading from speak of accession to the Assembly? Is it not a treaty? The Single European Act changes the words from "Assembly" to "Parliament". That booklet refers directly to an Assembly. Are we saying that by just producing a law here, we can change from an Assembly to a Parliament, just by coming in here? Does every Parliament in Europe now have to change from an Assembly to a Parliament?

Perhaps I did not make it absolutely clear. Right through the treaties establishing European Communities, there is reference to an Assembly, to which members of the Dáil and the Seanad were nominated up to the time of direct elections. They have been directly elected to that Assembly since then, but in common usage the word "Parliament" was used. All that has been done under the Single European Act is wherever the word "Assembly" appears in the treaties it is changed to "Parliament". Its functions, powers, composition do not change — just the word "Assembly" because the word "Parliament". There is no hidden meaning or trap in it.

Has every other country in Europe changed the wording of their accession from "Assembly" to "Parliament"?

Yes. We are the last country to ratify the Single European Act. Part of that ratification——

We are not.

We are passing the Bill that will allow us to ratify it, to be technically correct. The reference now becomes "Parliament", not "Assembly".

I just want to read out on the amendment.

You are not on it at all.

On personal rights, it is stated quite specifically: "all citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law. Titles of nobility shall not be conferred by the State". Titles of nobility are conferred by certain States in the European Community. If we are going to ratify this Single European Act, what we are suggesting in that Act is that no longer will the British Government be able to confer degrees of nobility on those in the House of Lords.

Any country which at the moment confers titles on its citizens or on citizens of another country will continue to be able to do so. Those countries that do not, do not have to or are not compelled to do so. Our Constitution does not allow us to do so. Therefore, we will not be doing so. The Single European Act does not in any way affect that position.

In other words, what the Minister is saying is that our Constitution is not binding on anybody else, only ourselves?

That is right.

That is my interpretation. I can understand the point the Minister is making. What is contained in the Constitution precludes anybody else from enacting anything that is precluded in the Constitution.

That is right.

We cannot suffer titles because of the provisions of our Constitution. Britain has no written Constitution. They allow themselves to confer titles and we cannot stop them. It would be great fun if we could.

What Senator Ferris is saying is correct.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 2 agreed to.
SECTION 3.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 2, lines 33 to 34, to delete subsection (3) and substituted the following:

"(3) The Minister for Foreign Affairs shall by Order appoint a date for the coming into operation of this Act, provided that such date shall be subsequent to the deposit by the Government of the following declaration in the archives of the Government of the Italian Republic with a request to remit a certified copy each of the Governments of the States which are signatories of the Single European Act.

`Declaration by the Government of Ireland on Article 13 and on Title III of the Single European Act

—Ireland considers that the completion of the internal market must have full regard to the terms of Protocol 30, agreed at the time of accession, which recognises that there are certain special problems of concern to Ireland, and that there is a Community interest in the attainment of the aims of Ireland's policy of industrialisation and economic development designed to align the standards of living in Ireland with those of the other European nations and to eliminate underemployment while progressively evening out regional differences in levels of development.

—Ireland states that the provisions of Title III do not affect Ireland's long established policy of military neutrality and that co-ordination of positions on the political and economic aspects of security does not include the military aspects of security or procurement for such purposes and does not affect Ireland's capacity to act or refrain from acting in any way which might affect Ireland's international status of military neutrality.'."

This is a most important amendment. The Minister should accept it because it is not doing anything else except restating what has been traditionally the situation here and what has been the wish of the majority of our people. The wish is that there should be in the Act a specific declaration regarding our long-established policy of military neutrality. I would like the Minister to be quite specific, even though it is implicit in the Act, that there is a protection offered. I cannot see why the amendment, as is tabled here, should not be allowed to be part of the Bill.

It has been suggested we should not have annexations to the Single European Act or additions to it. It is not suggested that we should be precluded from strengthening our case. This amendment does nothing other than strengthen the case that Ireland has traditionally made in terms of the recognition in Protocol 30, that we have a role to play in being a neutral State. It is necessary to have this included. I would like to have the Minister's assurance that nothing in this Bill goes away from our declared neutrality. I ask the Minister why we cannot have a strengthening of the Act by the insertion of this amendment.

I think this House went to the trouble today of passing motion No. 2 on the Order Paper. This motion does, in a way that is feasible, what Senator Lanigan is seeking to do in amendment No. 3 in a way which is infeasible. Senator Lanigan mentioned the question of our neutrality and the very words he used are contained in motion No. 2 passed earlier this evening by this House. Towards the end of motion No. 2 it notes with satisfaction that the things that are being done "do not affect Ireland's position of neutrality outside military alliances". The declaration has been made. The Minister who is not in a position to amend this instrument is in a position to bring this motion, passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, to the notice of his colleagues and I trust that, since the Seanad has passed it, the Minister will bring it to their notice — I do not want to say in the most forcible way possible — in a manner which will leave it beyond any doubt whatsoever what the position of every party in this House and this country is.

I agree with the views of Senator Dooge. It is very important for us to state categorically by resolution of the House our commitment to neutrality. No matter what the European Community do, we have taken a stand on it. There is a certain merit in what Senator Lanigan is talking about. He is talking about the actual putting into operation of a Bill called the Single European Act. In negotiations for this, Ireland had a declaration on Article 572 of the Treaty in connection with insurance which was an annexed to the Act or part of the Act. Senator Lanigan was hoping that the declaration of neutrality should be lodged in the same way that this was lodged. It is probably too late to do it in that way. That is why I agree with the Tánaiste's suggestion. We are all at one about our positive neutrality. We must put our view about positive neutrality beyond doubt in anybody's mind in the future and possibly an amendment to our Constitution would preclude anybody from interfering. No European group of people could interfere with our domestic Constitution. If it contained a declaration on neutrality that would be a further forward step in this area.

The Minister will reassure me in his contribution that my worries are unfounded. I was pleased that the Government put a resolution before both Houses defining our neutrality. I can see Senator Lanigan's reason for wanting to have it as part of this new Act in the context of our membership of the Parliament. In the long term one of the real ways to secure a continuing neutral stance by any Government — and who knows in ten, 15 or 20 years' time what the Government of the day might do in this area — is to have a constitutional amendment which would probably be welcomed by everybody.

I should like to thank the Senators who have contributed on this important topic of our neutrality. As Senator Dooge has said the Seanad passed a motion in the names of Senators Dooge and Ferris on neutrality. Equally important and something which I think we are losing sight of in Ireland is cohesion. That is very important to this country as well. A similar motion was passed in my name by Dáil Éireann a few days ago. At that stage I gave an undertaking to the Dáil, which I am very pleased to repeat here that when ratifying the Single European Act in Rome at the beginning of the New Year, I will lodge with it a certificate of ratification the motion proposed and which was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas as regards neutrality and cohesion. I think they are both equally important. The cohesion end of it is very important to the economic development of Ireland. I have no problem, when I am ratifying the Treaty, in lodging as well the motion that has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Since there is an obvious coming together of minds on this, why should that not be added as an annexation to the actual Act rather than, as the Minister said, wait until the ratification procedure goes through in January? I think there would be a strengthening of the Minister's position and there would be a strengthening of our position if that were done rather than having it as a separate motion coming from the Minister to the Parliament.

The sentiments in the motion which the Senator wants added to the Bill are already adequately covered in the motions that have been passed in both Houses already. I am advised also that the Government should not accept this amendment because it would introduce an unacceptable element of conditionality into our signing of the Single European Act and would, therefore, appear to call into question our full commitment to the terms of the Act. In that regard other members states that have already signed and perhaps ratified it would say that the full process of ratification by all 12 member states of the negotiated Act had not taken place. The objectives which the Senator wishes to achieve will be achieved by my lodging the motions that have been passed in both Houses, when we ratify it with the Italian Government. I think the same effect will be achieved.

I am not totally satisfied with the Minister's answer. The Minister is saying 12 members have to come together on this Act and we will not have an annexation of this amendment to our Act because it would not be in conformity with cohesive European policy. Then he goes onto say that having accepted that we have to have these guarantees, he will present those guarantees. As a nation which has its own foreign policy we should annex this amendment to the Act. It seems we will not write into the Act certain guarantees on neutrality but we will ask for a separate type of guarantee. I consider that we should have the guarantee built into the Act and not as a separate entity.

The problem as I have explained is that this Act was negotiated between the 12 members states and if we try to write something into it now, that would not be the Act that was negotiated and would introduce an element of conditionality into it. What the Dáil and the Seanad have in mind is that our partners should be in no doubt about our position on neutrality and about our position on cohesion. To make sure they are in no doubt about it when we are lodging the completion process of ratification with the Italian Government we will, at the same time, lodge the motions that have been passed by both Houses. That will bring to the attention of the other eleven partners how strongly both Houses of the Oireachtas feel about cohesion and neutrality and I think that will achieve the same effect without endangering the Single European Act by appearing to call into question some element of it, and making it sound somewhat conditional, and the whole process of negotiation would have to be gone through again.

I do not agree with the Minister that we are going the right way about it. In actual fact, basically what the Minister is saying is that we are going to be good Europeans and we are going to pass this Act but at the same time say that there are conditions under which we accept the provisions. The Minister will present to the Italian President Ireland's case for neutrality as being the wishes of both Houses of the Oireachtas as passed in motions by both Houses of the Oireachtas but the Minister will not present them as an addendum or an annexation to an Act. I feel we would be better served by annexing to the Act the very reservations that the Minister has expressed and that he will present to the Italians in January.

The line Senator Lanigan has followed there is a very dangerous one. I think it ignores the fact that the Minister and his negotiating team have achieved everything that this House wanted and that Dáil Éireann wanted in the negotiations. I think that if Senator Lanigan followed along the line he was following there, he would cast doubts on what is contained in the Act which has been signed by all Twelve and ratified by most of them. What we have here is not something that is adding to what is in the Act and even if we adopted the amendment it would not add anything. Indeed its very effect might be to cast doubts on what has been achieved in negotiation. I would like to say here in public that I congratulate the Minister and the negotiating team on what has been done. I must say that when I saw the final text, and I looked at the Articles on cohesion and on neutrality, I heaved a great sigh of relief because I am quite sure the Minister can testify that there were many times during the negotiations when the position on cohesion and neutrality were at quite some distance from what was agreed among all the Twelve. It is not only conditionality of our consent but a doubt would be cast on the contents of what has been signed. We have a strong affirmation here. The lodgement of this strong affirmation is, as it were, an underlining of what is already in the Single European Act. It is a heavy underlining of what is in the Single European Act but if there is to be anything that resembles a question mark in the margin, then all the good work that is done in negotiation may well be put in doubt.

What Professor Dooge says is obviously correct. If we do that we would appear to be casting doubt on Title III and on its protection for our neutrality. In two of the speeches I heard in the Seanad yesterday, I did not hear everybody but perhaps there were others as well — two very eminent lawyers said that what is involved is no threat to our neutrality. They were quite satisfied about that on both sides of the House.

Could I ask the Minister to comment again on the report of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities on the Single European Act.

Paragraph 69 of the report states:

According to the Government's Explanatory Guide the SEA poses no threat to Ireland's neutrality.

Nevertheless, Article 30 6 (a) does state as a matter of general principle that the High Contracting Parties consider that "closer co-operation on questions of European security would contribute in anessential (Joint Committee's italics) way to the development of a European identity in external policy matters”, and it clearly implies by the use of the word “ready”, that any limitation to the political and economic aspects of security is temporary in nature. At some subsequent date the first sentence could possibly be interpreted as agreement in principle to closer co-operation on all questions of security including defence. It is therefore essential to set out quite explicitly, so as to allow no room for ambiguity, Ireland's position of military neutrality, and its right to conduct an independent foreign policy, particularly in so far as it relates to matters concerning security. Denmark in a declaration has safeguarded its position in respect of Nordic co-operation.

That is the view of the joint committee which is an all-party committee and there are suggestions there which are mirrored in our motion, as it were. The Minister has given guarantees on our neutrality as far as it goes but there has not been a guarantee in the Act, there has not been a an addendum to the Act, which guarantees our neutrality. Whereas I accept the Minister's guarantee that he will, with the Italians in January, present the motions which have been passed. Motions passed in this House or motions passed in the other House have no legality. A motion is an expression of concern, it is an expression of our regard for something but it has no legality whereas an Act has legality. I accept the Minister's view on this. I accept that he is honest and straightforward in his view but to have something presented as a result of a motion has not got the same impact as something which is presented as an annexation, an amendment or an addendum to an Act of Parliament.

I also read that paragraph 69. I read it with some surprise I must say. During the period I was Minister I was concerned very much with the codification and formalisation of EPC in the London report and I was concerned over the best part of a year with this whole problem. I must say that I read paragraph 69 with great surprise and indeed with some concern that the part of the Article 30 6 (a) which was quoted, was not quoted in full. There is a comment on the opening sentence where the word `security' is used. It is quite clear later in that Article of the Single European Act that what is meant is only the political and the economic aspect of security. So surprised was I that with Paragraph 69 in my hand I went back to the Single European Act to see if it was reasonable to say that at some subsequent date the first sentence could possibly be interpreted as agreement in principle to closer operation on all questions of security including defence. I wanted to say here as somebody who has lived closely with this matter for the past four years that there is a humpty-dumpty element about that interpretation.

I was going to do exactly as Professor Dooge has done now. There is no implication in the Article referred to of any threat to neutrality. It reads:

They are ready to co-ordinate their positions more closely on the political and the economic aspects of security...

(c) Nothing in this Title shall impede closer co-operation in the field of security between certain of the High Contracting Parties within the framework of the Western European Union or the Atlantic Alliance.

The other eleven member states if they wish to co-operate more closely in defence matters can do so in two other bodies if they are one of seven members of the Western European Union and the other Eleven are members of NATO. This is about political co-operation and decisions.

There is also a further safeguard. This is about political co-operation and decisions on political co-operation can only be taken by consensus. Therefore, if any one member state objects to a position being adopted it cannot be adopted by co-operation. Either I or my successor going on for ten, 20 or 100 years if he wishes to block any movement away from our neutrality he can do so by just saying no. The one word will do, no, and that means nothing can happen.

The report is very interesting. On page 45 Article 6 (c) it states:

Article 6 (c) makes clear that the proper fora for discussion of military aspects of security remain NATO and WEU. The Irish Council of the European Movement attaches importance to the clarification in Article 6 (c) which it regards as providing a better safeguard of Ireland's position than has been the practice up to now. Indeed, the ICEM have instanced the Single European Act as the first international agreement to recognise Irish neutrality and to provide appropriate safeguards for it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Over the past number of days we have been discussing this Bill which has potential major consequences for the Irish people. We have suggested that there should be a strengthing of this Bill to accommodate the very well founded problems confronting many people in terms of this Bill. We recognise that we are getting benefits from membership of the European Community. We do not apologise for trying to strengthen our position within Europe and we will not apologise. I am sorry the Minister was not able to accept the amendments, particularly the amendment to section 3, because they would have strengthened our position even though the Minister has given guarantees in terms of what the Government will do about presenting the results of all-party motions.

I know what happens to all-party motions. They are forgotten and unfortunately letter to Foreign Ministers can often be forgotten. I have a file of letters from Foreign Ministers on various things. In our opposition to certain areas of this legislation, we have been trying to ensure that, in regard to positive neutrality, we do not sit on the fence. We are fed up listening to people who suggest that we are sitting on the fence. Our neutrality is not a sitting on the fence neutrality. It is a positive neutrality. All we were trying to do was to ensure that written into the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1986, there would be a declaration specifically stated. It has not been done. We accept the democratic decision of both Houses of the Oireachtas and majority rule.

I hope that in the future our situation within Europe will be strengthened. I hope nobody will be allowed from within or outside this country to suggest that our neutrality is a neutrality of weakness. Our neutrality is of major benefit to this country. Many people do not understand how big a benefit it is. It can be a benefit in economic terms. There is no doubt in my mind that economic benefits have accrued to this country because of the fact that we have not allowed ourselves to be subsumed into major pacts. I do not think the Bill is strong enough but we accept the fact that it has gone through the Houses and we sincerely hope the Minister for Foreign Affairs, whether it be Deputy Barry or whoever, will continue to fight extremely hard to ensure that Ireland's position within Europe will not be subservient and that we will not accept, as the Minister has suggested tonight, that we must go along with the other eleven if we are to be good Europeans. I do not agree with that.

We should be neutral; we should be objective; and we should be fighting for our objectivity. After its passing here tonight the Bill will still give rise to a great deal of discussion. I would like the Minister to reply to the letter I read from Conradh na Gaeilge because it was the only submission we had in the Irish language. It was written to us in Irish. Because they had very good points to make, even though they were not quite accurate in certain of their submissions, I would like the Minister, if he does not reply to the suggestions made or the queries raised in the debate tonight, to reply directly to them.

I do not understand the constant bellyaching of Fianna Fáil about this Bill and about neutrality. I find it extremely puzzling. This afternoon Fianna Fáil voted for the Bill, maybe with some reluctance and maybe amid some confusion. Either this Bill affects our neutrality or it does not affect it. I do not think it affects our neutrality in any way, but it is either one thing or the other. If it affects our neutrality or compromises our neutrality, certainly Fianna Fáil should have voted against the Bill with honour. If it does not affect our neutrality, they should shut up.

I would like to say a few words on what is in the Bill at this Final Stage of the Bill before it passes. What is in the Bill is an opportunity for Europe, an opportunity for Ireland's participation in a particular development in Europe. I have already expressed on Second Stage my disappointment that in certain respects this Bill did not go further. I want to say that I think the Bill does go far enough, that it can mark a turning point in European development, that it can mark a turning point in moving towards European union.

Again I want to congratulate the Minister on defending the essential interests of Ireland in the negotiation of the Single European Act and express my confidence that the Minister and all his successors will be well able to defend the interest of Ireland. In doing so they would be well advised once what is in this Bill, what is embodied in the Single European Act, is consolidated, and once that first phase is over, to move ahead again. We must at all events avoid the mistakes that have been made in Europe over the past decade. It is all very well for us to say that we have benefited economically in this area and that but the Europe of the past ten years has not been a success. The Europe of the past ten years has not been an effective unit. It has not been an effective organisation. We have here in the Single European Act which this Bill makes part of our domestic law, an opportunity to remedy that. I would like to say at the end of this long process, Bail ó Dhia ar an obair atá le déanamh.

Is é an chéad rud ba mhaith liomsa a rá ná nach bhfuilim ar bhealach ar bith i gcoinne na hEorpa. Níl mé i gcoinne an tír seo a bheith páirteach i ngluaiseacht Eorpach ach is é atá mé ina choinne na idé-eolaíocht bhunúsach atá taobh thiar den Comhphobal Eorpach mar atá sé faoi láthair. Arís i dtús báire nuair a bhí reifreann sa tír seo níos mó blianta ó shin ná mar is maith liomsa bheith ag cuimneamh futhu, bhí mé ag an am sin, mar a dúirt mé i mBéarla níos luaithe inniu, im'reconstructed opponent of the EC agus tá sé mar an gcéanna liomsa faoin rud seo. Bheadh seo go hiontach dá mba rud gur phobal Eorpach a bhí á dhéanamh againn faoi láthair ach ní thiocfaidh pobal as an bhfealsúnacht atá taobh thiar dá bhfuil ar siúl faoi láthair. Tiocfaidh aonad eacnamaíochta as, b'fheidir. Tiocfaidh rudaí eile as. Bhféidir go dtiocfaidh aonad míliteach as, ach ní chruthóidh an dá rud siúd, fiú amháin, go dtiocfaidh aonad pobal as. Bheadh míthuiscint ann; bheadh dearcadh faoi chúrsaí an domhain nach mbeadh mar an gcéanna ag na tíortha go léir. Bheadh rudaí eile ag teastáil nach bhfuil sa Bhille seo, ach ní bheinn in ord dá dtosnóinn ag caint futhu siúd.

What I am saying essentially is that the impulse to draw Europe together is worthwhile and inspiring. Certain of the assumptions that are contained in this Bill and in the Act — similar and indeed extensions of assumptions that were contained in a previous decision the Irish people took — in my view are not just incapable of bringing about European union but at one level are at variance with the very concept, because of an ideology that underlines a considerable number of the assumptions on which we have based all of this legislation.

I wish to repeat what I said earlier today, that in the light of recent experience with that aspect of European economic union which drew us into the European Community in the first place, which is the Common Agricultural Policy, with the clear inevitability of the death of the Common Agricultural Policy, the issue is no longer whether it will survive but how long it will take for something totally different and something closer to the model of the free market competition to take its place. In that case the issue is, can we really accept assurances?

I do not query the integrity of many of the people involved in this, least of all the integrity of the Leader of this House whom I have complimented on many occasions. At this stage part of the problem is that when Senator Dooge says that our neutrality is not in question, or is not challenged by this; he believes that. The problem is that he and I at this stage have very different concepts of what neutrality involves. I have a very different view of neutrality from his. Therefore, we could argue about it for ever but there is a form of Irish neutrality to which many of us subscribe which is at risk. It is not an isolationist neutrality. I am not an isolationist. I do not subscribe to isolationist. I believe we should play an active role but I do not believe that the active role I would subscribe to, and I would advocate as a small country with a colonial history, is reconcilable with the aspirations, if not the actual binding terms, of the Single European Act. That is why I opposed it on Second Stage.

It should be recorded again on this issue that there were only two Members of this House who voted against the Single European Act. Many of those who have spoken in this House on many occasions about our neutrality and have subscribed to motions which I interpreted in the same way as they did, voted for the Single European Act. I suspect that their concept of neutrality is different, not just from my own but from that of what remains of the Left in Irish politics. Therefore, we have not dumped neutrality. Nobody is suggesting that. I am sure there are people who are involved in the campaign against this who have suggested it. We have taken yet one more step that will at the very least redefine neutrality, rephrase it, realign it but will not abandon it. Things like that do not happen as dramatically as that. Therefore, in terms of our belief in ourselves as a country there was no need for us to go this route.

There was another route towards development, towards full economic development. I fear, as I have said consistently for the last 14 years, that the gap between "us" and "them" in terms of economic development is too great to be bridged via the operation of a free market and that the level of aid and support that would be needed from the wealthy in Europe to enable us to bridge that gap has been singularly lacking in the past. The one great instrument of resource transfer to this country was the Common Agricultural Policy but we are seeing the dying throes of the Common Agricultural Policy. I have no reason, therefore, to have any optimism that in the present political climate in Europe the economic policies that could protect us from the ravages of free competition will be available. I regret the passage of this Act and fear for the future of this country as a result.

I do not question the sincerity of Senator Brendan Ryan and his concern. He has always expressed his views forcibly in this House. Likewise, I know he will not question my commitment to some of the aspirations he has expounded. If I had the same doubts as Senator Ryan on this matter I would have been voting with him. In our party a major debate took place on this Act and all the arguments were made for and against it and democratically the majority of the party at various levels made a decision to support it.

We did so because we recognise, as a small socialist party involved with the major socialist groups in the Community, that Europe had fallen significantly behind its main competitors, the United States and Japan, in terms of economic growth, scientific research and development and particularly job creation. Secondly, we felt that the Community decision-making machinery was defective and constituted a major impediment to the development and expansion of a new and effective Community policy. This is essential if Europe is to catch up with the United States and Japan. As Senator Dooge has admitted, and he was probably closer to the negotiations than anyone with the possible exception of the Minister and his experts, they all recognised that the Single European Act is not a major leap forward towards European union which many had hoped it would be. Nevertheless, it represents a modest but a very important advance, as I said on Second Stage, and should allow the process of European integration to further develop.

The decision to move towards the achievement of a single internal market by 1992 will represent many new opportunities for Irish industry. That is a challenge for us. It gives us the opportunity to meet that challenge. If we are unable to meet that challenge, then we have no place in an economic world which is evolving and developing at a very fast technological pace. The economic and social cohesion of the Community is reinforced by this Act and provides for the formulation of a genuine regional policy, capable of tackling the serious economic and infrastructural underdevelopment of regions of the Community such as Ireland.

There is no doubt in connection with the CAP, which Senator B. Ryan mentioned, that it will be reformed in some way. This will bring into play, to a much greater degree, the whole question of regional, social and infrastructural funds which could be of major benefit to Ireland. I hope the whole concept of paying Irish farmers for doing nothing will never be accepted by our negotiators. It is important that they be compensated in prices changes or where there is overproduction, but the vast majority of Irish farmers want to be paid for productive work. That is the concept the farming community originally supported when we voted for our accession to Europe initially.

The expansion of the European economy must be carried out in such a way that it can make a major contribution to the creation of jobs. I adverted in my other speech to the fact that Europe has a major problem with unemployment. We feel that this Act may address itself to that cancer in our society, the cancer of unemployment throughout Europe and the developing world and particularly in Ireland where we have so many well educated and trained young people crying out for work. Because of certain restrictions imposed by Community membership, Ireland on the periphery of Europe has many difficulties with job creation. Europe's credibility will depend on its resposne to the legitimate concern that young people feel about their future, to the concerns of ailing regions hit by the disappearance of traditional industries, and the provision of new forms of development to rural areas.

European union is still very far off— Senator B. Ryan has referred to this. For the foreseeable future, the task will be to complete economic union namely, monetary union, fiscal harmonisation and cohesion. If this is achieved, then the European Community will provide greater prosperity for all its citizens, including the citizens of Ireland. We are good Europeans, at times possibly we are too good, but we are part of an overall economic unit. We should be seen — and have been seen — to play a major role and make a major input in the development of the whole concept of a European Community, specifically developing trade and other similar areas.

I think the passing of this Act will be yet another milestone towards the European union itself. I would like to compliment the Minister on the very open way he has handled the entire debate. He has allayed the fears of most, if not all, Senators regarding the queries which were raised. I hope that the result of this Act will be greater participation in the affairs of the Community by the European Parliament. The regional funds will play a more prominent role in the development of the less favoured regions. The strengthened powers of the European Parliament mean that to a great extent it will be in a position to offset the stronger role which this Act allocates to the decision-making powers of the Commission.

I compliment the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the very courteous way in which he has handled this Bill. Many people, as has already been said, felt that there was an inherent threat to the status and the long-time policy of neutrality of this State. We can rest assured this is not so. This is a milestone and I am confident that it will be for the good of this country and our experience as part of the European Community.

I just want to remind the House of what the Irish people voted for in 1972 when they voted to become part of the European Community. The European Treaty was signed almost 30 years ago — March 1987 will mark the 30th anniversary of the signing of this Treaty. The then six countries — now the Twelve countries are:-

Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,...

Resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe,...

Affirming as the essential objectives of their efforts the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples.

There were three other resolutions in that vein.

The vote in 1972 was very clear. There was no doubt about it because the White Paper, which was published at that time, explained to the Irish people exactly what they were joining and the kind of Community it was intended to build. The Community we joined was not set in cement. That was never intended, and it was made very clear both in the debates that took place at that time by the Government and the Opposition. I was then a member of the Opposition and a leading part was taken by Senator Dooge in that campaign. It was never intended that the Community we joined would remain as it was when we joined it. There could not have been any doubt in the minds of the people who voted in May 1972 of precisely what they were joining. It was not a static Community, meant to be set in cement. It was bound to evolve and that was made quite clear.

It developed immediately by the joining of three countries, Denmark, Britain and Ireland and a further development took place with Greece joining and then Spain and Portugal joined on 1 January 1986. But it did not evolve at the speed conceived by those who introduced the whole idea, nor, it is fair to say, of those who led the campaign to join in 1972. Progress was not made in the creation of European union, as fast as we would wish. There were good practical reason for that: two oil crises, enormous levels of unemployment and the very fact of taking in six new countries in a relatively short period of time. There is no doubt of the road which the Irish nation intended to travel when it stepped onto the European road. There is no doubt about where we intended to end up.

Senator Lanigan said that this has major consequences for this country. I really wish that was so. Senators Eoin Ryan, Dooge and O'Donoghue spoke about this yesterday. I think Senator Dooge put it very well when he said he wished this was the leap forward because that would mean that the 12 nations of Europe were taking their courage in their hand and trying to live up to what is written down there. We are not. We are taking a very small, relatively insignificant step at this stage, 30 years later. The most you can say is what Senator Dooge said here tonight, that it may be a turning point for Europe. I hope it is.

For reasons mentioned by Senator Ferris and other speakers during the debate there is a danger that Europe will lose its place and its influence in the world, and lose its dynamic role as leader of the world opinion. In respect of world economies of technology, it has lost. America, our great friend and ally on the other side of the Atlantic —I do not mean that in any military sense— no longer looks on every occasion to the west. In many instances America has turned its attention to the Pacific rather than to the Atlantic. Unless Europe acts as a common unit, as a Community, in everything that implies into the future, and does that very quickly in the scientific and technological fields, there is a danger it will end up as a place to visit rather than as a leader in the world.

For that reason I cannot agree with Senator Lanigan — and I say this with great regret — that this has major consequences for this country, for Europe. It has not, unfortunately. It is a significant but a relatively small step on a road which the Irish people very dramatically voted for in 1972. It does not by any means live up to the preambles set out in European treaties but it is small and is a turning point. I hope that, having had the courage to take this one small step, very quickly, as Senator Dooge said, the 12 members of the European Community will have the courage very shortly to take a much more important step and, for the self-respect and the future of all our children and grandchildren, one that will be in keeping with the vision that inspired the treaties in the first place. I wish to thank the Seanad for the hearing they gave the Bill this evening and for passing it.

Question put and agreed to.