Nobel Peace Prize for UN Peace-Keeping Forces: Motion (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That Seanad Éireann offers its congratulations to the UNIFIL Forces on receiving the Nobel Peace Price and particularly notes the contribution of the Irish Defence Forces towards maintaining that peace in many parts of the world for the last 30 years.
—(Senator Loughrey.)

Tá áthas orm an deis a bheith agam anois leanúint ar aghaidh leis an méid a bhí á rá agam nuair a cuireadh an díospóireacht seo ar athló an tseachtain seo caite. Bhí mé ag moladh fórsaí na Náisiún Aontaithe agus an pháirt ghníomhach atá glactha ag muintir na hÉireann agus trúpaí na hÉireann san bhfórsa idirnáisiúnta sin.

Mar a dúirt de Valera nuair a tháinig sé ar ais go hInis tar éis a bheith gafa an uair sin: as I was saying when I was interrupted this time last week, our forces in the United Nations and the United Nations force itself have gained respect, principally in our case due to our neutrality and, secondly, due to the fact that they do not go out there on a confrontation basis: they do not go out as a colonising force, nor are they looked upon as an occupying force. Therefore they approach their task in a very professional way. The important thing is that they build up a relationship with the people in these areas where no peace exists, where people have had a very rough time, where people are thrown out of their living areas or exiled from their own places. In this way they build up a relationship and a friendship with the people in these areas, particularly, for example in Lebanon today. Therefore they are accepted there.

When I was recalling this, particularly with regard to Lebanon, the thought struck me as to what might have happened in our situation, if in the Six Counties in Northern Ireland, a UNIFIL force had been brought in there in the late sixties and early seventies. Perhaps in these times, when things seem to be getting worse rather than better, it is the time to look at this question again. Even Mrs. Thatcher might be persuaded to look at the question of the introduction of a UNIFIL force into the Six Counties and that they could be accepted as a peacekeeping force between the various communities in the six county area.

There have been many successes by the UNIFIL forces, many successes particularly by our own troops there. I think it is important as well as to reflect on the many casualties they have suffered. I recall over 30 years ago coming to Dublin at the time of the Niemba ambush when Captain Gleeson and some other members of the Irish force were killed there and the funerals were held here in Dublin. We think of the many other casualties we have had, from that until quite recently, when three of our soldiers were killed in Lebanon. It is frightening that these people who go out on a peacekeeping mission in these areas have to pay the supreme penalty of their lives. But it is done in the best interests of the people there, in the best traditions of our Army and in the best traditions of soldiering.

The big question arises not so much with the dangers or the accidents that happen. Soldiering is a dangerous occupation. Soldiers, being the professional people they are, accept the difficulties of their occupation. We cannot accept the situation in certain areas, particularly in Lebanon, where there are forces backed by the Israeli Government and Israeli forces themselves causing more trouble for our soldiers in particular and for the UNIFIL soldiers in general. This is not acceptable at all and definitely not acceptable to a country such as ours. We have diplomatic relations with Israel. We have had very friendly relations with that country since the establishment of the state of Israel. We have had many things in common. One thing that springs to mind especially is the question of language, about which we heard so much today and with regard to our heritage. We look with envy on the way the Israeli people were able to receive their language. We would probably say that if we had given the same amount of attention to our language or had we approached it in the same way with the same enthusiasm, perhaps we might have been able to do the same here.

There is a President of Israel who is from Dublin. Yet, despite the special relationship there, despite the fact that we have diplomatic relations with that country and therefore should be on a very friendly basis with them, they are and continue to be helping forces who are bombing our troops, who are firing at our troops, who are casualties and who are causing death among our troops. Even the conduct of the Israeli army towards the members of our troops is very very questionable and something we cannot accept. It is incumbent on the Government to make it known to the Israeli Government that this is not at all accepted and not at all tolerated and will not be tolerated by us. The deaths we have suffered are bad enough but to think they have been added to by the unfriendly acts of what should be a friendly government is just intolerable.

It is important to emphasise that the UN soldiers are going out on a peace mission and that our soldiers are involved in keeping the peace on a temporary basis between warring factions and, hopefully, creating the atmosphere that in time full peace will come to these areas such as Lebanon, Cyprus and the very many other areas in which the UN troops are engaged and in which to their credit our own troops were engaged as well.

I was struck last week by the ceremonies in Arbour Hill. It was one of these most moving ceremonies. It was my first experience there — I hope it is not my last — but at least I was able to experience the moving tribute to the men of 1916 in Arbour Hill last week. I thought of these men lying in these graves, and these were the people who really founded our national Army. In the homily given by An tAthair Padraig Ó Fianachta from Maynooth he used the words "Blessed are the peacemakers". How delighted Pearse and Connolly and the various other leaders of 1916 lying in that hallowed ground of Arbour Hill would have been to know that their successors were keeping the peace, endeavouring to keep the peace, in places such as Lebanon, Cyprus and the very many other area where our troops have played a heroic and very notheworthy part over the last 30 years.

The Provos claim to be their successors.

Without the interruption of Senator Murphy, I would hope that the peace that settled at that ceremony, the peace around the graveyard even with the ceremony going on, even with the bands playing, and the tranquility of that graveyard would transcend itself not only to the whole of Ireland, not only to that part of Ireland where peace does not exist at present, but through all areas of the world such as in Lebanon where people yearn for peace if only they were allowed to live in peace.

I also welcome the new development with regard to the Garda and the involvement of the Garda in the UNIFIL forces. I think this is a most welcome development. The Army have been great here in this country. They have been the backbone of our democracy. They have defended our country and they have fulfilled a great task in the UN forces abroad. I am glad that in regard to the Garda Síochána, who also have been the bulwark of our democracy here since the foundation of the State, that their expertise and their professionalism are available to the United National forces. I wish them every success in a most difficult task that they have in Namibia. It is a credit to our small country — I said this on the neutrality motion that was before the House — that we have gained in Europe and throughout the world a certain power, a certain precedence far in excess of our size. It is mainly due to the fact that when we do a job we do it well; and much of that is due to our forces, both the army and, hopefully, now the Garda Síochána.

I do not intend to take too much time. The conferring of the Nobel Peace Prize on the UNIFIL forces is, of course, something that we are all extremely proud of. I do not think there is anybody in this country who could be other than proud of the achievements of members of the Irish armed forces in the work of UNIFIL. But I think the success of UNIFIL, the role of UNIFIL and the methodology used by UNIFIL invites us to reflect a little on what armies are, what armies should be, what their roles should be and what their image in society should be and, in particular, on the whole area of the use of weapons.

I must say that I have profound moral reservations about some of the things that Senator Bromell referred to. I cannot find any moral basis for the 1916 uprising by any ethic that I am aware of. I have always said that. I defy anybody to explain to me what the moral basis was for it. The moral basis, in my view, was post hoc and subsequent and delivered when it had turned out to be something useful. At the time it was disapproved of by virtually the entirety of Irish society.

I say that because of a peculiarity about violence in our society that we have yet to deal with and I say it because of implications occasionally that I have somehow a less than clear view on the use of violence in our society. In that context, however, I think that the whole world has an obligation to reflect on the whole idea of weapons and their use. The sort of methodology use in South Lebanon by the UNIFIL forces is a methodology which has very little to do with the use of weapons and an enormous amount to do with the use of persuasion, with the use of moral authority, with gentleness towards civilians and with a sense of restraint in which firearms are rarely used — they are only used under the severest provocation and are never used in any way to impose one's will on people who are otherwise unwilling to have our views imposed upon them. They are used entirely as a secondary and necessary defence if under threat. I wonder, if we accept, as I think we do, that service in peacekeeping with the United Nations is perhaps one of the most important international roles of our Army, whether we should reflect on whether the image that we portray in advertising about the Army — the gung-ho blackened faces running through the night carrying guns, the large scale exercises in which large numbers of the enemy are in our imaginations demolished — is consistent with what their real job is, which is a job of restraint, of minimum force, of persuasion and of moral authority and whether the method of training and the methods that are used to inculcate discipline in our armed forces are the ones that best achieve that objective, or whether in fact we are in danger of having contradictory objectives. We have this magnificent inspirational commitment to peace, a magnificent inspirational commitment to non-violence — to an extent it must be very difficult, but it seems to be done with a considerable degree of conviction by all of the UNIFFIL forces — but at the same time we convey an alternative image of aggression, of weaponary and of tough guy, macho sort of stuff.

I think it is time that this whole area was talked through. Everybody in the world will say that their own army is entirely there for peacekeeping and defensive purposes. At the same time the obscene spectacle of armaments expenditure goes up and up. It is close now to $1,000 billion a year. That number should be repeated again and again — $1,000 billion a year is spent in the world on armaments. If we are really to reflect on the significance of the role of an international peacekeeping organisation, in keeping the peace without any significant use of violence, simply by their presence and their moral authority, then we ought to think through what we expect armies to do in a world which is decreasingly unstable, which is increasingly cohesive and in which the possibility of external invasions is, thankfully — thanks in particular to the inspiring leadership that now runs the Soviet Union — far less and the world is a far safer and more peaceful place.

The role of an army in a society like that is obviously one of being disciplined, of being there to support us when we are under threat but of being, above all, disciplined, peaceful, restrained and nonviolent. I do not think all of those things have percolated fully into the philosophical view of armed forces generally.

I should like to agree with something Senator Bromell said, that is in regard to UNIFIL in particular in South Lebanon. I think it is high time that we in this country had a severe second look at the question of diplomatic relations with Israel. If they persist and if they insist on defying every rule of international law and international morality to defend themselves against, in many cases, mythological enemies, then it is time — our Army is there to do a job of non-violence, of restraint and of peace — that we said to them: "We are not prepared to treat you as another civilised power if your agents are responsible for the deaths of our soldiers who are there and who do not threaten you in any way and who do not threaten your allies in any way".

What about Libya?

Libya has not killed or attacked members of the Irish armed forces.

We can do without interruptions. One speaker, please.

I would not call Senator Ross an interruption. He deserves slightly better than that. I could think of a slightly better effort but it would probably be unparliamentary. The reason we need to express our disapproval is that Israel pretends to be one of the family of democratic nations. Nobody that I know who has visited Israel since the interfada could believe that any more. It is an armed, sectarian tribe, determined not only to retain what it holds but to suppress those within its own self-defined boundaries who will not accept Israeli overlordship, in which armed settlers roam the streets of Jerusalem, out of uniform and carrying lethal weapons. I do not believe that we should tolerate the pretence that this is a democracy when it arms people who attack our own people, when it often instigates the terrorists or guerillas who threaten our Army. If our Army is to be allowed to do what it is supposed to do, which is to protect innocent people from interlopers from both sides, then not only must we talk well of our Army but we must talk very firmly and with great determination to those who are responsible for most of the threats to both our troops and the entire membership of UNIFIL in South Lebanon. I do not think we can allow this pretence to go on any longer that a so-called democracy can be involved in stoking the fires of dangerous violence against our troops, who are there and who act with such enormous restraint under provocation.

I want to conclude by saying again that I congratulate both UNIFIL and the Irish troops who have been, are and will be a part of UNIFIL. I think, however, that if we are to continue with the role our Army has then the whole philosophy of the Army, the whole training of the Army and the way the Army projects itself ought to reflect peacekeeping, not aggression, restraint, not attack, and all of those things that are actually the characteristics of a peacekeeping force.

I, too, would like to welcome the motion and to join in very sincere congratulations to the UNIFIL forces on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. It is a source of joy to us all as Irish people that our Army are a part of this team and rightly deserve this fine honour. Army personnel can be compelled as part of their contract to go overseas on duty. Implementation of this regulation has never been necessary to my knowledge.

Personnel for some reason might decide not to travel — perhaps for obviour domestic reasons, because of health or some other compassionate reason — and this is totally acceptable. The fact is that very often too many men are offering to take up active service overseas. It is well known that the reason for this is they see active overseas duty as a natural part of their Army duties. There is a chance to improve their professionalism as soldiers, and it has raised the level of the profession of the Irish soldier. It is their only chance in a peacetime situation to get this experience of a full battalion active situation. From an Army point of view it provides excellent practical training which stands to them during their Army career.

There are other fringe benefits accruing — for example, the prospect of travel overseas, a chance to broaden their horizons, a chance to see and observe other nations of the world at work and at play. I am quite certain that service overseas has a positive effect on morale, which in an Army situation is very important. As soldiers, the Irish are very highly regarded overseas. They are seen as firm, competent soldiers. They get on well with the locals. I was not surprised to note that when the Chief of Staff visited the Irish headquarters in Tibnin after the recent tragedies the locals turned up in their thousands in support of the Irish involvement in the area. The Irish clearly do build up great loyalty with the locals and that is well known throughout Army life as we know it.

As a country our involvement is clearly excellent from a prestige point of view, taking our part with other nations of the world in the cause of world peace. We have all noticed with some great pride that Irish army personnel are first to be called into any new arenas of world trouble. I am totally convinced that we are highly respected as a force, no matter in what part of the world our troops have the honour of serving. I am very proud of the role that many men of my own native town of Athlone, based in Custume Barracks, have played in the Irish battalions, whether it be in Lebanon, Cyprus, the Congo or other parts of the world.

Senator Bromell in his speech referred to Niemba. One of my most vivid recollections is of a letter I received from an Army friend of mine, a friend in sport, who was in Niemba in 1961. I will never forget his letter to me at the time describing the deaths and injuries of the Irish in that infamous Niemba ambush. He was from Athlone, he was part of the whole Western Command team who down the years have supplied their own company of approximately 150 officers, NCOs and men. An average of 60 or 70 of those come from my own town and I know that they carry out their work with the pride and dignity which is necessary.

Senator Brendan Ryan referred to his aspiration that we should, as it were, leave down arms. It would be wonderful if that could be the case right across the world. Unfortunately, we are not in a perfect world and hence we are going to have situations such as we have today.

I know of many cases where we would disagree totally with the actions of the Israelis. I know too much about this, but I do not want to go into it because it would involve me commenting on very dear friends of mine who, unfortunately, lost their lives in Lebanon. There have been tragedies. A total of 67 men have died, some from natural causes and others in action. The cost of world peace for this country has been enormous. The heartbreak for the wives and families at home has been enormous. I feel very strongly that when one of our men is killed on active overseas duty appropriate compensation should be available to the wives and families of the bereaved. Whether this be done by an extension of the Cafeinbo or Jambo schemes or other insurance schemes that are available for men and officers, or whether it be done as a State scheme or UN scheme is a matter for discussion. I feel very strongly that compensation to the tune of £150,000 or higher should be automatically available in the event of fatality to the dependants of that particular person. This matter should be examined immediately.

I welcome the fact that specialist search teams are now to be part and parcel of each of the Irish battalions. Their work will be very important and helpful. It will involve the examination with specialist equipment of roads which Irish troops frequent. The examination will be for roadside bombs or other explosive devices. This will be seen as a very worth while and welcome development.

Serving in the forces, whether it is at home or on active duty overseas, is carried on by our Irish soldiers with pride, obedience and an acceptance of the discipline of the job. I am proud of the Irish Army and the men who have played their role in the UNIFIL forces in contributing to maintaining peace in many parts of the world for the past 30 years.

I rise to support the motion that "Seanad Éireann offers its congratulations to the UNIFIL forces on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and particularly notes the contribution of the Irish Defence Forces towards maintaining that peace in many parts of the world for the past 30 years.

I believe that the role the Irish Army have played and their contribution to the United Nations consistently over three decades is an exceptional record. I am very happy to avail of the opportunity to add my praise and appreciation of the work, the dedication and, indeed, of the sacrifices of many fine young men in our Army in those 30 years. Nineteen-fifty-eight is a long time ago. That was when the first observer group went to Lebanon and that old Arab-Israeli border, unfortunately, is still there. Later, in 1960 the United Nations Forces went to the Congo. That particular service sticks in the minds of very many people because of the tragic losses that out Army suffered there. By and large, I suppose that over the years our Army has gained from the experience of the various tasks that they so admirably carried out. I believe that it is important that we should recognise the expertise that our Army have built up over the years, not just in the Congo or in Lebanon but indeed on the Indian-Pakistan observation mission or in Cyprus, or elsewhere. Indeed, they are a very acceptable United Nations force in any area where there is difficulty and that I believe is because our forces have the discipline and the expertise that is readily recognisable and enables them to make a very full contribution to the work and the services that they are called upon to perform.

It saddened me over the last few months to find an air of discontent expressed so very widely in this country about aspects of our Army and of our Defence Forces. I would hope that the Army would take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this situation does not continue for long. I believe that if we are to have an Army at all then what we require is a contented, well-equipped, well-housed or billeted and adequately paid Army. The Government must not just allow a situation to continue where discontent seems to be at all levels and is obviously fermenting there.

In putting a few thoughts together for this debate I availed of the opportunity of contacting the Army Press Office. I thought if I wanted information on the Army where better to get the official view than the Army Press Office. I was taken aback to find that they were not in the business of giving out information, good, bad or indifferent about any aspect of the forces or the life in the forces. That I cannot understand. They referred me to the Department's Press Office which I found to be efficient. They sent me on a lot of useful information for which I am very grateful. But that leads me to the conclusion that the Army is not run by the chiefs or the generals but by the civil servants. If that is true — and of course I do not know because I am not in a position to judge — perhaps it is not surprising there is a lot of discontent because really the people with the experience and the people involved should have an input into the general administration.

It is very important that we should have a contented force. What is the price of loyalty? What use is an army? What use is a defence force in this country if you cannot depend on them, if they are not loyal to the Constitution, loyal to the flag? For that reason I would hope that the Government or any other Government would ensure that in the budget, even in difficult times from an economic point of view, would always have resources there to improve the situation so that when our troops are called upon to serve in dangerous situations in Lebanon or any other flash-point in the world they would be sent out with the most modern equipment and the latest technology possible.

I was driving up this morning to the House when I passed two vehicles, armoured cars I suppose. The number of them were ZD with three digits and if they were a day they were at least 30 years old. I would say they saw service in the Congo itself. How efficient and effective is that kind of equipment?

I am very loathe to make a speech which would in the least reflect on the good name or the honour or the status of a force that I respect, that I depend on and look to for our security. I am a true democrat and from that point of view we need Defence Forces to protect our interests here. We have been fortunate in this country that our Army have had the opportunity of seeing service overseas as a contribution towards world peace. But a side effect and a spin-off of that, in my mind, is that it gives those men the experience and opportunity of seeing service that perhaps would not have been available to them otherwise. From that point of view it is indeed very fortunate that our country can serve the United Nations and other peoples in the world by putting at the disposal of the United Nations the cream of our Defence Forces, a force that has always served the name of Ireland and the flag with great credit and with great distinction. Therefore, in this motion tonight we can very sincerely offer our congratulations to the Defence Forces and every single person in our Army because it is a contribution that is made by every serving soldier in the entire force.

I would like to avail of this opportunity a Chathaoirligh, in expressing my congratulations to our soldiers, to just ask the Minister, who I am sure would wish to maintain that tremendous loyalty and that tremendously high standard of service, to ensure that we are able to maintain those qualities by providing adequate funds to maintain our equipment for the Army at the most modern peak possible. I do not think we can afford to have an Army if it is not one that can claim and can demonstrate that it has the very latest in modern technology and equipment so as to ensure that our people are not at a disadvantage anywhere.

With those few remarks, may I again offer my warmest congratulations to the forces and assure them that in whatever way I, as a Member of the Oireachtas can be helpful in contributing towards their well being I would wish to do so? I hope that this House will always ensure that we have respect for their work and that we look to them to serve the Constitution as the writers and founders of the Constitution desired.

I think we would all agree that the Irish Army have brought us credit down through the years. Right from the foundation of the State they have always upheld the rule of law. They defended us in the wartime emergency. They have served our needs on Border duty against terrorism and then they have served abroad, uplifting the name of Ireland in their peacekeeping role. They were taken for granted. We never considered the Army as playing an important role. People were inclined to just overlook them until we had the terrible tragedy in the Belgian Congo with the Balubas. Then we realised that the Army were serving an international need and at the same time serving this country well and giving us a great name abroad. Their peacekeeping role is perhaps the one for which they are best known and especially their role in Lebanon.

Their role in Lebanon is a very dubious role because they are in South Lebanon with the approval of Israel to keep the peace, to keep warring factions apart, but Israel has not respected the Irish Army. Israel has a militia there who have constantly attacked the Irish Army and Israel has disgraced itself in the process. Israel's terrorist tactics at present are the cause of the tragedies among Irish soldiers and the Irish families who are mourning their lost ones. We may have to reconsider the role of the Irish Army in Lebanon if Israel refuses to respect international law. Israel is a member of the United Nations. The Irish Army is in Lebanon with the approval and by direction of the United Nations and here we have Israel, through their paid militia, attacking the Irish Army and they have never been brought to justice on this point. I think we should be acting in the United Nations and making Israel explain her role, particularly in South Lebanon where they employ this lawless militia, if I may say so.

It is all the more sad because the Jewish people are a wonderful race. They have contributed very positively to every country to which they have gone to reside and we are very proud to have the Jewish community in Ireland. That is why it is all the more sad because they suffered and the holocaust is a glaring example of the terrible sufferings and tragedy of the Jewish people. They, more than anyone else in the world, should be respecting the rights and sympathising with the rights of dispossessed people. The Palestinians are dispossessed people, without land, without occupation, with nothing. Here we have them rising against their inhuman treatment on the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank. These are people with no lands, no homes, with nothing, being treated worse than the Jewish people were treated by the Nazi Hitler. I think it is a terrible indictment of Israel that she should carry on in this ruthless, callous fashion against these people. This is relevant here because it is the Israeli Government's attitude that is responsible for the Irish Army being in Lebanon today.

Their obstinacy in refusing to negotiate with the Palestinians to seek some settlement for them, is the reason why our Army are in Lebanon today and why the Army are being put down over and over again. We are losing very important members of our Army to the inexpressible grief of their families. I would say that the good Jewish people in every country which has welcomed them should be loud and strong in condemning the Israeli Government for their actions. I feel that the Irish representatives at the United Nations should make their voices heard in denouncing Israel and letting them know that civilised people will not tolerate what we have seen on television where innocent victims have been struck down by the Israeli soldiers.

Their attitude and the way they are carrying on at the moment makes me wonder if Israel should continue to belong to the civilised nations of the world in the forum of the United Nations. I would think our Army have a role to play as a peacekeeping force but it was never meant to be subjected to this terrible slaughter that can happen. I feel proud that we have a great Army. I was very upset when I saw the "Today Tonight" programme which sought to hold our Army up to ridicule and I will say in many a country that programme would be considered to be treasonable because it exposed defects in our Army which would be of great value to terrorists. Terrorists might be inclined to think that our Army could not defend us and I thought that it was a very irresposible programme for a national station to produce.

Of course the Army do not have the most modern equipment. We are not the wealthiest country in the world. We do not say we are. We do not try to be. This country has gone through an economic crisis in the last few years. We cannot just pour out the money but there are dedicated men in that Army who have not raised their voices and all this talk about disquiet in the Army to me was media hype, unnecessary and irresponsible, because men I have spoken to in the Army are contented and there is a very big waiting list of people who want to join the Army, including a great number of ex-soldiers who want to return. If the conditions were as bad as some of the media would have us believe, why is it so many people are on the waiting list to get into the Irish Army?

I did allow the Leas-Chathaoirleach to stray a little bit from the actual motion but passing reference is all that should be made to other matters.

I will try not to stray any longer except to say that the Army have done us credit. We can be very proud of them and they have worked in an unobtrusive way and I doubt if any of us could ever say they have been guilty of discourtesy towards civilians on any occasion. Never once in the execution of their duty have they ever been discourteous. They are the most courteous people I have ever come across and carry out their duties in a very unobtrusive way. Besides offering them the congratulations of this House I feel we should consider how, in other ways, we can pay our respect to them and pay tribute to the Army.

In wartime, armies in Britain have been very favourably treated by the public with special concessions for different functions and we should look at this idea and show our gratitude to them by the public and business, perhaps offering special concessions to them and in this way convey to them that we are very proud of the work they are doing, very happy that they received the Nobel Peace Prize. They well deserve it for their work. I feel in this way we might show our appreciation in a practical way.

Since I did not get an opportunity earlier to do so I am sure you will indulge me for a few moments while I express my great happiness at being here today, this very historic day. Whatever other differences you and I might have, a Chathaoirligh, I think we both share a commitment to this House and this is certainly one of its great days. May I also remark how pleased I am that the television cameras have been so unobtrusive, have interfered so little with the conduct of business that indeed I have become a convert to television coverage as a normal way of life. Above all, since I was not in this Chamber since early 1983, it is a particular pleasure for me to resume my old — and I will be so presumptions as to say — my rightful seat in this part of the House. Indeed, when I came in here this morning, I was filled with a rapid determination to get reelected whenever that opportunity arises.

I am sure, Senator Murphy, like myself, you hope that you will not have that challenge just in the near future.

Yes, agus go mbeidh ár leithéide aris ann. I rise to support the motion. One little niggling criticism perhaps — instead of the term, "Irish Defence Forces," which annoys me rather in the motion, I would prefer to see "our" Defence Forces. There is a post-colonial habit in this country of referring to the Irish Army as if it was necessary to distinguish it from the British Army.

I am glad that this motion stands in the name of Fine Gael. Before I come to that, however, I would like to say that I was very interested in the contributions made by Senator Bromell and Senator Ryan. While I do not want to get into irrelevant arguments about the origins of our Army, I am inclined to think that there is a far stronger historical case for saying that our modern Army is in fact the descendent of the National Army of 1922. It certainly stems from that most decisive event in our history when the Army was firmly put it its place by the civilian Government, a critical point in our history. Whatever Senator McDonnell would say about the Army being dominated by its civil servants, I certainly am extremely happy that the Army is dominated by a civilian Government and long may it remain so.

Senator Ryan is a pacifist who really cannot justify his pacifism. He does not like armies as such. If they are to be there at all, he says, they have to do their work by blandishments and by kindliness. But in fact, this is a contradiction in terms. Of course the Army must — as indeed it is doing in Lebanon — use the milk of human kindness. In the last analysis, the Army is the ultimate sanction of the Government. It is the ultimate guarantee of law and order. In our situation in Ireland, it is the ultimate protection against the terrorism of the Provos.

Moving on from that, I am glad to see that it was Fine Gael who put down this motion, because Fine Gael are the unfortunate victims of certain anti-national smears which were attached to them in the past and somehow that impression lingers that Fine Gael is rather less national than Fianna Fáil, which is, of course, totally unjustified. I am glad to see that Fine Gael are as concerned with things like the position of the Army in the UNIFIL forces and some weeks ago, Fine Gael, in this House effectively vindicated our neutrality policy. I was delighted that Senator Manning and the party officially in this House gave the lie to the individual Fine Gael people who have been sniping away at neutrality over the last several months. Their putting down this motion reinforces my view that there is a by-partisanship at work here among the two main parties on the most important issues of neutrality and the role we should be playing in the world at large.

The United Nations have limited but important functions in the international order of things. I think when the League of Nations collapsed back in the thirties and when it was quite clear that it could not keep the peace, there were very pessimistic predictions about what the United Nations would be able to achieve when it was founded in 1945. Of course it was not, and has not been able to influence super-power politics. Of course, the United Nations cannot keep the peace in the sense of guaranteeing us against nuclear disaster. The ultimate ambition we all have, I hope, is that there will be a world federal government, so that just as armies nationally have been put under the control of democratic governments, finally the presence of physical force in the whole world will be controlled by a federal government, but we are a long way away from that.

Meanwhile, the most valuable function the United Nations has to perform is to damp down flashpoints across the world. Over the last 45 years it has, by and large, succeeded very well in that. Our contribution to that has been disproportionately important. Of that I am sure we all feel proud.

As I say, I am pleased that there is a consensus between our two main parties and indeed among the Independents as well as to the kind of role we should be playing in world politics in making our modest but effective contribution to the maintenance of peace. It is sometimes said by those who have advocated in recent times that we should join a military pact, that we would be equally effective and equally welcome as a peacekeeping contingent were we to become members of NATO, were we to become members of the European Defence Pact.

Such arguments point to the exmaple of Sweden or Canada. It is argued that Sweden is armed, that Canada is a member of NATO and yet they are as acceptable peacekeeping forces as our armies. But the whole point is this, that our special acceptability, particularly in Lebannon, is because we are recognised as a neutral country, because we are recognised as a country which has no imperial past, and were we to join a military pact now or at any time in the future, we would forfeit that respect and that special acceptability which we have as a neutral country. I see the issue of neutrality and the issue of our role in international peacekeeping forces as being vitally linked. I would hope then that Members will accept my point that there is an agreeable connection between the neutrality motion we had here some weeks ago and the Fine Gael motion that we are supporting tonight.

As Senator Ryan said, the most remarkable feature of the behaviour of our forces in Lebanon is apparently their peaceable and friendly manner. Whatever faults we have as a people, there is no doubt that our traditional friendliness and intimacy does pay dividends in that kind of difficult situation. The greatest tribute to our foces out there was when after the recent tragic killings of Irish soldiers the local people apparently were very anxious that we should not pull out of Lebanon, that we are, as I say, especially acceptable to them in a particular way.

I have always pointed out abroad when I talk about Irish foreign policy what an agreeable and pleasant paradox it is that in the light of the historical image of the Irishman, as the fighting Irishman, the troublesome Paddy, that our actual role in the world today is the very opposite. That we should have come out of history, out of a turbulent history, to become peacekeepers, I think says a lot for some of the satisfactory outcomes of our tragic history. I am very pleased by that particular paradox.

The point has already been made that the behaviour of our soldiers has raised the image of our Army at home. There was a time, back in the thirties, perhaps before World War II, when our Army was derided by subversive forces as chocolate soldiers and so on. That day is long past. The price paid in the Congo in 1960-1961 was a high price but it did earn a new respect for our Army, which still persists.

I am afraid that Senator O'Connell, who might care to wait for one minute more did not convince me when he said that the discontent in the Army was largely a matter of media hype.

I know this is not strictly relevant but the suggestion has been made that the motivation of some of those who want to go abroad to serve in the UNIFIL forces is a less than perfect motivation — that they go there because they need the money, they need the extra allowances and so on. I would hate to think that this was true. Senator O'Connell surely cannot ignore the fact that the Minister for Defence is enormously unpopular with the Army and with the spouses of the Army. There have been events like——

Senator Murphy, in fairness to the Minister, you will have to withdraw that remark.

I think it is a very valid comment and it has to do with the morale of the Army and their morale abroad as well as at home.

It might be relevant to you but I think it is political comment.

Am I not entitled to make a political comment in a political House? What is the House for? I have not been slow in hailing the achievements of the Government where there were achievements. There are other areas where they have not succeeded and in my view this area is one of them. It is time that that particular House was set in order.

I was trying to convey to Senator Murphy that his remark was not relevant to the debate.

Excuse me. If we want to express our sympathy and our appreciation to the relatives of those who have been killed abroad surely we can express that sympathy and appreciation in very practical terms.

That brings me to the last point. What can one say to the relatives of those soldiers who have given their lives abroad? It is very easy for us to say that they have died in a noble cause but that does not bring them back, that does not ease the heartbreak of those relatives but it may be a consolation to them to know that we feel that if it is never right to kill for a cause and if it is always regrettable that one should have to die for a cause you could not die for a more noble cause than bringing peace to mankind at an international level. I have great satisfaction in supporting this motion.

An tAire, lest there be confusion, the Minister is coming in now, and then there are spaces left for other speakers.

I will stick very strictly to the terms of the actual motion. While I share the concerns that are being voiced I feel that if the Senators who signed this motion had been strictly honest then they would have put it in much more forceful terms and would have spoken fully on that. I will confine myself solely to the terms of the actual motion. At another time we will be able to answer all of the points that were raised and could I say to Senator McDonald in a very non-political way that we have picked up a legacy from the Government of which he was a very prominent supporter.


Again being completely non-political, we were the first——

Recruiting officers.

The Minister to continue.

We were the first political party in recent years who at least went into and had an agreement for the Army, and Senator Hogan will have loads of opportunities to say otherwise.

The first recruiting officers for the Army wives.

Senator Hogan, the Minister to continue without interruption.

Senator Hogan will have loads of opportunities to say otherwise.

You started it, Minister.

It was started when Senator Loughrey started this debate.

You will get plenty if you want it that way.

Are we hearing properly at all? Is that a threat to the procedure of the House?

I do not think Senator Hogan will be making threats.

The Minister to continue.

It is with great pleasure that I address this motion commending the award of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. As Senators are aware the congratulations of the Government have been conveyed to the Defence Forces by the Taoiseach in a message to the Chief of Staff and also by the Tánaiste in his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Nobel committee, when announcing the award in Oslo on 29 September last, said the prize was awarded because the Peacekeepers:

Represent the manifest will of the community of nations to achieve peace through negotiations, and the Forces have through their presence made a decisive contribution towards the initiation of actual peace negotiations.

The same day the UN Secretary General Mr. Perez de Cuellar told the General Assembly.

The prize is a tribute to the idealism of all those who have served the organisation, and in particular to the courage and sacrifices of all those who have contributed and continue to contribute, to the peacekeeping operations.

These quotations I believe set out clearly and concisely why the award of the prize was such an inspired and well merited choice.

Although not directly provided for in the UN charter, peacekeeping has become one of the principal instruments available to the Security Council in discharging its responsibility under the charter to safeguard international peace and security.

It may be useful to set out here the definition of a peacekeeping operation followed by the Secretary General in this reports to the Security Council. It is an operation involving military personnel, but without enforcement powers, established by the UN to help maintain or restore peace in areas of conflict. Such operations are normally established by the Security Council and directed by the Secretary General. Military personnel are provided on a voluntary basis by member states. If deployed as observers such personnel are unarmed; if deployed as a peacekeeping force, they are lightly armed for defensive purposes only. May I say here that the equipment they are provided with and which they have in Lebanon is first class and enables them to fully carry out the duties they have been assigned. A key principle is that they are deployed with the agreement of the host Government. Their task clearly is both sensitive and difficult.

In the past year in particular the UN has been called upon to assist in the resolution of a number of grave regional crises — in Afghanistan, Iran/Iraq and Namibia, and all of which peacekeeping and observer forces are key elements. The UN continues its involvement in long-standing peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, with the UN truce supervision organisation and UNIFIL, and in other areas such as Cyprus and IndiáPakistan. These missions have the crucial task of preventing international conflicts and providing a framework for the negotiated settlement of disputes. At great personal risk-and almost 740 peacekeepers have died while serving the UN-those involved further the cause of peace.

Ireland has always considered the United Nations to be the principal forum for the resolution of inter-nation conflict. We are a small, neutral country and therefore have a particular interest in the establishment of an international order based on the observance of international law, rather than on force of arms. We have consistently acknowledged that the UN peacekeeping apparatus is a key mechanism in establishing international stability, and our commitment to UN peacekeeping is reflected in our long and proud record of involvement in a dozen different peacekeeping operations. Irish troops have served almost 32,000 tours of duty with peacekeeping missions. The men and women of the Defence Forces, and more recently of the Garda Síochána, have made important and selfless contributions over the last 31 years; some have tragically been called on to make the ultimate sacrifice, and it is this group who are particularly in our minds as we reflect on the Nobel Peace Prize award today. As Senator Loughrey has stated, Irish troops have lost their lives in four missions. Twenty-six died in the Congo, of whom 16 were killed in action; nine died in Cyprus; two were killed in action with the Truce Supervision Organisation in Palestine; and 30 have died in the Lebanon, some 12 killed in action.

A Chathaoirleach, I would like a clarification——

Senator Norris, you cannot interrupt the Minister in the middle of his address.

It seems a very serious departure in terms of foreign policy.

Senator Norris, resume your seat please.

The role of the Army has been acknowledged——

Senator Lanigan, stay out of it.

The roll of honour of our Defence Forces serving with UN peacekeeping forces thus lists some 67 fatalities; we honour their memory this evening with pride. In addition, some 85 Defence Forces personnel have been awarded medals by the Government to honour acts of gallantry and distinguished service with UN missions.

It is entirely fitting that we should seize this opportunity to comment on the ways these peacekeeping missions seek to achieve their aims, and on the obstacles that they face in doing so. Peacekeeping missions need the full support of all United Nations member states, including the five permanent members of the Security Council. Peacekeeping operations are not an end in themselves. They are temporary arrangements intended to provide a framework for the negotiated settlement of disputes. The aim of a peacekeeper is to make himself redundant.

Successful peacekeeping operations need the appropriate financial as well as political commitment of the UN member states. The failure of individual States to pay assessed contributions threatens the ability of an operation to function. Failure to discharge financial obligations under the UN Charter may also have political implications. Such failure may be interpreted by parties to a conflict as implying a lack of support for the mandate of a particular operation. If some member states pick and choose those observer and peacekeeping missions to which they will make or withhold their mandatory financial contributions, individual operations may be undermined; worse, the whole concept of UN peacekeeping, on which so many hopes are now hanging, could be emptied of credibility.

The greatest strength of the Blue Helmets, as UN peacekeepers are sometimes referred to, is undoubtedly their commitment to peaceful solutions while retaining the confidence of all parties and the support of the international community as expressed in the UN. Their effectiveness depends not on the strength of their weaponry but on the risks they are willing to undergo in a clearly identified and worthwhile cause. Unarmed military observers and units armed only minimally can be more important to the success of the operation than an assertive military presence.

Lt. General Gustav Hagglund, a former commander of UNIFIL, has accurately said that a UN "peace soldier" must be above all "calm, patient, loyal and courageous". I may say that Irish soldiers have shown all of these qualities in ample measure. Much of the success of peacekeeping operations depends on the good sense of the individual soldier. He may find himself on duty, for example, at a busy checkpoint under trying conditions. As General Bill Callaghan, himself a distinguished former UN force commander, has said, "There are no generals or diplomats at check points". Well, perhaps there are no generals, but the individual soldier who maintains a sense of humour and carries out his task in a humane way and with a lightness of touch frequently finds himself cast in the role of diplomat, not only diplomat but friend. By all accounts, Irish soldiers display considerable social skills and diplomacy in their contact with the local populations. It is this skill which makes their contribution so valuable in difficult circumstances and to which I should like to pay a special tribute in this House tonight.

Some 890 Irish personnel are at present involved in seven peacekeeping missions. They do an important, and, as we have regretfully seen recently, an often dangerous job. The largest Irish contingent in a peacekeeping mission at present is that serving with UNIFIL, numbering some 748 personnel. UNIFIL was set up in 1978 with the mandate of confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon, restoring international peace and security and restoring the effective authority of the Government of Lebanon. The Force was set up on an interim basis, as are all UN peacekeeping operations. Sadly, it has not been possible to achieve its aims thus far.

The bravery and effectiveness of the Irish contingent has been evident on many occasions, and no doubt played a part in securing the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for the UN peacekeeping forces. However, we cannot overlook the unsatisfactory political background against which they are operating and which makes their task all the more difficult and dangerous. Israel refuses to withdraw from Southern Lebanon and to dismantle the co-called "security-zone", which overlaps with the Irish battalion's area of operations. This has created an inherently unstable situation which seriously undermines UNIFIL's efforts to ease tension and restore peace to the area.

Tragically, on 24 February last, Private Michael McNeela became the eighth Irish soldier to die in Lebanon as a result of hostile fire. The Israeli-backed "South Lebanon Army" was responsible. Ireland and the UN made strong protests to the Israeli authorities. We stressed again that we wish to see the full implementation of the UNIFIL mandate, which includes the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanese territory.

On 21 March last, Corporal Fintan Heneghan, Private Mannix Armstrong and Private Thomas Walsh were killed by a landmine near Brashit village. Investigations are continuing in order to establish responsibility for this latest outrage.

These tragic losses and the continuing high risks to the security of UNIFIL personnel are a direct consequence of the unsatisfactory political situation in the area. It is worth repeating, however, that the UN Secretary-General has reported that UNIFIL plays a valuable role in controlling the level of violence in Southern Lebanon. To withdraw it, in his view, would risk an unpredictable conflagration in a most volatile region, and would make the search for national reconciliation even more difficult.

His observations go to the heart of the function of UN peacekeeping. Without it, many areas of the world would become breeding grounds of ever-widening international armed conflict, at an incalculable cost to mankind as a whole. Where peacekeeping missions have been set up, as in the recent past in Afghanistan, Iran/Iraq and Namibia, a potential conflagration can be tackled and the path towards lasting international peace can be opened. For this reason, more than any other, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the UN peacekeeping forces was fully merited and is to be sincerely welcomed.

I have great pleasure in being fully associated with the motion before the House.

I understand that Senator Hogan and Senator Doyle have to come to some arrangement about dividing their time, so there are 15 minutes between the two of you.

I want to support the motion so ably proposed by my colleague, Senator Loughrey, congratulating the UNIFIL Forces on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and acknowledging the contribution that Irish Defence Forces have made to peacekeeping over 30 years. I was glad Colin McGrath from Carlow was one of the 15 members chosen to represent the UNIFIL Forces at the ceremony in Oslo last December. It is fitting that we in this House should seek to support at all times the people who strengthen the institutions of our State and as Senator Murphy quite rightly pointed out, the last line of defence that any Government have in relation to upholding order in the State is the Army.

The peacekeeping activities that have gone on and in which Irish Defence Forces have been very much involved go back to 1960 in the Congo where the manadate was to maintain the peace. This was probably the toughest mandate of all given to a United Nations Force. Between 1964 and 1973 our involvement in Cyprus is well recognised and there is still a small presence of 12 soldiers from Ireland in that area. In the Sinai Desert in 1973 we had a limited peacekeeping role because of the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland. Many of the soldiers who had been despatched to the Middle East at the time were brought home for peacekeeping duty in Ireland.

In 1978 Irish Defence Forces became involved in UNIFIL in Lebanon and they rotate every six months. The Irish have built up a tremendous reputation in peacekeeping, particularly in the Middle East. This was best exemplified in recent times by even the Arab community acknowledging the tremendous contribution that the Irish delegation have made. When they came under fire in recent times and when there was a threat to the involvement of the Irish Defence Forces in UNIFIL in the future, the Arab Community made representations to the Irish Government and to the commanders of UNIFIL in the area to ensure that the Irish presence continued. In fact the contribution to international peace is the strongest motivating factor that any defence force could have in its contribution to the United Nations in various parts of the world.

I am glad the Government have agreed to continue our involvement even in the light of serious loss of life and in the light of serious pressure being put on the Irish Government because of indiscriminate action by a number of groups in the Middle East. It places the country in a good international light in the international community, but also the Irish Defence Forces in particular under UNIFIL have helped to reconstruct communities and they have a tremendous stabilising effect on the local area. It is not just peacekeeping that they are involved in but in the dispensing of medical aid; in assisting the community there to protect their schools and to protect their community from being shot at by the South Lebanese army; and they have forfeited many of the schools and protected the children admirably in recent times in particular. The local community there recognise this and have come to accept that the protection of their children from the threat of guerrilla activity has become part of the way of life in that particular region at the moment.

Would you clear with me how much time you are giving to Senator Doyle?

I am giving him ten minutes.

If you speak for ten minutes and you give Senator Doyle ten minutes, how many minutes does that make?

I am not speaking for ten minutes, I am speaking for five minutes.

You have one minute left.

The disadvantage we see at the moment is that many Army personnel are forced to go to Lebanon due to their frustration at the low level of Army pay.

The one regret I have on item No. 4 is that the people who put their name to it did not read it before they came in with some of their contributions. I mean that sincerely. We are not having a full discussion on Army policy per se, whoever is involved. I think the Minister tried to bring it back. I am not taking sides with anyone, do not get me wrong Senator Hogan.

On a point of order——

You stay out of it, Senator Loughrey.

Three people have made reference to this — Senator John O'Connell, Senator Murphy and the Minister.

Senator Loughrey, I would prefer you stayed out of it because you were not here for some of the other contributions.

I was listening attentively.

On a point of order, a Cathaoirligh——

Senator Ross, resume your seat. It is not a point of order.

It is a point of order and you cannot anticipate whether it is a point of order until I make it. I want to make a point of order. Is it in order for you to refer to the absence of a Member?

Particularly when the Member is not absent.

Is it in order for you to refer to the absence of a Member?

Senator Hogan to continue his contribution.

I would like an answer to my point of order. Is it in order for you to refer to the absence of a Member?

I did not make reference——

You said Senator Loughrey was not here.

Senator Ross, Senator Loughrey is well able to look after himself.

I am making a legitimate point of order to which I am entitled to an answer. Could I have an answer to my point of order? Are you not giving me a ruling, a Chathaoirligh, on a point of order? You are not entitled to refer to the absence of a Member.

Senator Ross, I am the Cathaoirleach of this House and you remember it while I am here.

It must be recognised, whether people are sensitive to it or not or whether people like it or not, that pay is a contributory factor in people wanting to go to the UNIFIL peacekeeping activities in the Middle East at the moment. That is a fact of life and anybody who speaks to people in the Army at the moment will understand that particular fact.

How is your time?

I had a minute when I started but I was interrupted. I am entitled to a minute.

There is no injury time here. It is not a hurling field.

It may be a sensitive issue for many people but I think I am entitled to make that point.

Are you giving time to Senator Doyle?

May I call Senator Doyle now?

When I am finished. The Government could have saved a lot of embarrassment to our Army personnel if at the very time when they were accepting the Nobel Peace Prize the Minister for Defence was able to bring about a successful end to negotiations on Army pay instead of bringing the wives of Army personnel on to the streets. It was regrettable that that should have happened but nevertheless we have to acknowledge that the Army have made a tremendous contribution to peacekeeping and I am delighted to congratulate them on accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

Senator Doyle you now have five minutes.

All the interruptions——

Senator Doyle to take part in the debate.

I am pleased to support the motion congratulating the UN Peace-keeping Forces on receiving the Nobel Prize and the contribution made by the Irish Defence Forces in the cause of peace over the last 30 years.

The peacekeeping forces of the United Nations have under extremely difficult conditions contributed to the cause of peace. It was the considered opinion of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that the peacekeeping forces through their efforts have made an important contribution towards the realisation of one of the fundamental tenets of the United Nations, thus the world organisations has come to play a central part in world affairs and has been invested with increasing trust. The peacekeeping forces are recruited from among the young people of many nations who in keeping with their ideals voluntarily take on demanding and hazardous services in the cause of peace. In the opinion of the Nobel Prize Committee their efforts contributed in a particular appropriate way towards the realisation of the goals of the United Nations. The UN peacekeeping forces may only be employed when both parties to a conflict accept their presence. Accordingly they may also be used by the warring parties to avoid having a conflict escalate and in the event also to have a struggle called off.

There are two types of peacekeeping operations, unarmed observer groups and lightly armed forces. The latter are only allowed to employ their weapons for self-defence. Altogether, 14 UN operations have been carried out. They are equally divided between observer groups and military forces. The observer groups are concerned with gathering information for the United Nations about actual conditions prevailing in the area. The military forces are entrusted with more extended tasks such as keeping parties to a conflict apart and maintaining law and order.

Our nation has played an important role in assisting the UN peacekeeping force. The Irish Army have had the distinction of providing three commanders of the UN forces, Lieutenant-General Seán McKeown in the Congo in 1961, the late Major General James Quinn in Cyprus in 1972, and Lieutenant General Bill Callaghan in the Lebanon between 1981 and 1986. We have also suffered our share of casualties. In the Congo between 1961 and 1964, 26 members of the Defence Forces were killed in action. In assisting the UNIFIL Forces in the Lebanon to date, 11 members of the Defence Forces have been killed in action.

Since we first sent Army personnel to the UN peacekeeping forces in 1958, over 35,000 members of the Irish Defence Forces have participated in this peace-keeping activity. This is a great credit to a small nation. The function of the UN is to keep peace. Peace is a word that evokes the simplest and most cherished dream of humanity. Peace is, and has always been, the ultimate human aspiration. Yet our history overwhelmingly shows that while we speak continually of peace, our actions tell a different story. Peace is a very easy word in any language. The Secretary General, delivering the Nobel lecture in Oslo on 9 January 1989, stated:

I hear so frequently from many different mouths and different sources that it sometimes seems to me to be a general incantation more or less deprived of practical meaning.

Then he asked the question; what do we mean by peace? Human nature being what it is, peace must inevitably be a relative condition. The essence of life is struggle and competition and to that extent perfect peace is also a meaningless abstraction. The essence of peacekeeping is the use of soldiers as a catalyst for peace rather than an instrument of war. It is to that ideal that the United Nations have before its office in New York the inscription which is taken from the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 2:

They shall beat their swords into plough shares and their spears into pruning forks. Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they war ever again.

It is the bravery of young men and women who have given their services to this ideal that we salute here tonight by the passing of this motion. It is also the memory of those who have made a great sacrifice, the greatest sacrifice that mankind can make, the giving of one's life in peace, that we commemorate here tonight.

I would like to join with other Senators in offering congratulations to the UNIFIL Forces serving with the United Nations. The reputation and respect the Irish troops have gained in that force is largely due to the training they received at home. I would like on this occasion to compliment the men who have trained to such a very high standard here in Ireland. Our soldiers are trained second to none. That automatically earns them the respect they so rightly have received within the UNIFIL Forces. We recognise that we are safe with a good soldier. There is a very old cliché that there is nothing as dangerous as a bad soldier. I believe we have the best professional soldiers in the world. On this occasion, when we refer to them in the Seanad, we should commend the highly professional training of our Army. It is right to recognise their low accident rate at home and abroad. The answer to that is high professional training. The Seanad should be complimenting the standard the Army attain at home which earns them respect when they serve abroad. That point has to be recognised.

I am not much different from any other person in Ireland let him be a public representative or a private citizen. When our Army are serving abroad and we lose some of our troops we have to question the wisdom of maintaining relations with Israel. Their explanations are not satisfactory. I accept that the Minister and the Government are pursuing inquiries and that those inquiries are not complete but there is one incident after another to the point when most Irish people do not accept that they are accidents. It is tragic that the Israeli people who have suffered so much now have so little concern for life, especially those men from other countries who are serving in a dangerous area and helping to keep the peace. I would urge that we examine the value of having diplomatic relations with Israel. The time has come when we must look at this matter, I urge the Minister and the Government to closely examine continuing relations with Israel.

The Senators who put down the motion, which I totally support, used the motion to refer to pay and disquiet in the Army. It would have been more prudent to put down another motion for another day if they want to be really constructive and helpful to the Army and discuss pay and conditions because we might have a positive contribution to make. I have one little recommendation which I ask the Minister to take on board. Most of our troops abroad serve over six months. Any person who lives in another country more than six months is entitled to bring back a car free of duty or VAT to this country. Our Army personnel are not allowed to do this. I ask the Minister to examine the possibility of Army personnel who serve abroad for periods longer than six months being treated like other citizens of this State, namely, to purchase a car abroad and import it in the normal way. That would be a perk for them. I believe other countries who have troops serving with UNIFIL give those perks to their Army personnel serving abroad. It would be a small token of appreciation. I ask the Minister to examine the situation. I have information to support my statement. The Minister should sympathetically examine the possibility of extending those facilities to our troops serving abroad. The motion has been useful. It has given us an opportunity to express our support for our Army and for the gallant work they are doing on behalf of the nation.

I understand that Senator McGowan is sharing his time with Senator Robb.

My thanks to Senator McGowan: I rise because I have had the honour of addressing a senior officers course at the Curragh on three occasions now. I believe I have some feeling for what the Army are striving to do. I certainly would like to be associated with the congratulations which have been given in this House tonight and I would like to emphasise that, as I see it, peacemaking is part of a whole philosophy of positive neutrality.

It is very rapidly apparent when you go to the Curragh that the Army is no longer just a matter of bearing weapons. It involves very high powered education, an understanding of politics, an understanding of the history of the region you are going to police as a peacemaker, an understanding of United Nations law and of the law of the local community, of the customs and even the religious feelings of the local people.

As another Senator said, it is the question of being a diplomat with a high emphasis on the humanitarian function. If we are to achieve this we must have high morale. It is remarkable how high the morale is in the Irish Army considering the difficulties it has had to face. It relies on equipment, recruitment, training and education, and all these things require funding from the State. If I may make one positive suggestion in relation to a tribute we might pay our Army for the way it has been associated with this Nobel Prize? We should look at the shortfall in recruitment and ask ourselves if it is possible to use the capital revenue saved because of that shortfall and put it back into the Army to give them the things they need to keep up morale and to encourage recruitment so that we will fulfil what I see as Ireland's role in the world, which is a peacemaking, positively neutral role. In my opinion what does not include joining such organisations as NATO or even the Eastern European Union but continuing to play a distinctively independent role in the affairs of the world. With the relationships we have with North America, the Third World and the European Community. I think that so far we have achieved that function with honour and no doubt we will continue to do so. I hope and trust that I or if not my children, will live to see an Ulster regiment in the peacemaking Army of Ireland.

On a point of order, I regret that the Cathaoirleach has referred to the absence of a Member of this House and has refused to accept a long established ruling of the Chair——

Acting Chairman

The Senator cannot query the ruling of the Chair.

I am making that point on a point of order.

Acting Chairman

Will the Senator please speak to the motion.

I should like to take up some of the things the Minister said. I will be very brief because with the permission of the House, I want to share my time with Senator O'Shea and Senator Norris.

The Minister in strong language about the conflict in the Middle-East, which is stronger than anything I have ever heard from a Minister of this Government or the other Government, lays the blame for the tragic death of Private Michael Neela squarely at the foot of Israel. Having said that, he went on to say:

Ireland and the UN made strong protests to the Israeli authorities.

I have little quarrel with that but it is very dangerous for the Government and for Members of the Government here tonight to take what are very obvious sides in the Middle East and in the conflict in the Middle East when this Government and Governments before have refused point blank to open formal diplomatic relations with Israel. There has been a constant refusal by the Government to allow the Isreali Government to set up an embassy here. It would be far more convincing for the Government to make protests about what is happening——

Acting Chairman

Will the Senator speak to the motion.

I am replying to the Minister's speech. It is in black and white in his speech. It would be far more helpful——

The Minister did not take sides.

That is taking sides.

No, it is different.

It would be far more helpful if the Government had allowed the Israeli Government to establish a diplomatic presence here and not refused it. Instead of making protests to what the Minister calls the authorities, which is very nonspecific, first, it would have been possible presumably to call in the ambassador and secondly, presumably, it would have facilitated communication with the Israeli Government before this tragedy happened. I see in this speech the sort of humbug that we are used of getting from our Department of Foreign Affairs here. Maybe the Minister could have said, when he chastised the State of Israel who are doing many things which are wrong in the Middle East, why the Government will not open diplomatic relations with them and why they will not allow a presence here. That would be a move towards peace, it would be a move towards dialogue and it would be a help in that conflict.

In saying that I do not want to take away anything from the magnificant work which the UNIFIL Forces are doing in the Lebanon, nor from the great work they have done in Cyprus, in the Congo and in other countries in the past. That should not be in doubt. Indeed, this motion will obviously be passed by the House. This motion has turned out strangely having being a soft motion which had all party support. It has been a quite controversial motion because of things which were said in this debate, not just by the Minister, but by Senator Ryan, who feels diplomatic relations with Israel would be re-examined. If that is to be taken up we should also say: "Let us reexamine diplomatic relations with Iran with Libya and with terrorist States of that sort". Let us not just take a once off target, let us take the other targets which we are refusing for some reason to face up to. There is an Iranian Embassy here. We have diplomatic relations with Libya, and yet we refuse to allow a Israeli Embassy.

We have diplomatic relations with Israel but it is on a non-residential basis.

We do but the Israeli government have made many approaches to establish a physical diplomatic presence here and it has been refused.

No. It has not been agreed to yet but it has not been refused.

It has not been agreed to yet for many many years.

But it has not been refused.

It is tantamount to a refusal if it has not been agreed to. If it is put on the long finger it is a failure to face up to——

We have full diplomatic relations but on a non-residential basis.

I thought it would be too much for me to make a speech in this House without interruption.

I am sorry, and particularly in these nice surroundings.

Acting Chairman

Will the Senator address his remarks though the Chair. I ask the Senator to speak to the motion.

I will reply to the Minister's speech. I do not wish to take away from the unanimity of support for the great work being done by our Army in keeping the peace throughout the world. Senator Bromell — I presume a reference to him will not be interrupted by the Chair — referred to the Army as being the successors of 1916 without interruption. It is not a statement which should be allowed to go through this House uncontradicted. I believe it is a poor reflection on our Army in the 1980s, which is the arm of a democratically elected Government, that they should be referred to as the descendants of those who rebelled without any democratic mandate at all. It is the Provisional IRA who claim to be the descendants of the 1916 people. The Provisional IRA have more justification for it than do our Army, many of whom have died keeping the peace throughout the world.


The first thing that strikes me is the series of ironies in the debate, first of all, the award of a Nobel prize for peace in honour of the Swedish industrial magnate who made a colossal fortune from the production of dynamite, but considering some of the recipients of that award, who have been less than totally committed to peace, perhaps that is not entirely surprising. However, I would like to join with the positive sentiments of other Senators in expressing my congratulations to the Irish Army and to say in, of course a totally non political way, that I hope that members of the Irish Army actually see some of the money or at least the United Nations use it to sustain an operation which limps from budgetary crisis to budgetary crisis despite the chorus of unanimous approval from all over the world about their efforts. This approval seems to weaken slightly when countries are asked to pay for it and I would like to say that this country has a proud record in that respect although many of the larger countries do not.

In mentioning the question of money I am in the tradition of a late Senator of this House who actually won the Nobel prize, Senator Raith Yeats, who when he was telephoned by the editor of The Irish Times to be told that he had won the Nobel prize, asked the remarkably realistic and non poetic question, “how much is it?”

However, there is a really serious side to this debate, in addition to these partly light hearted comments, that is that we have witnessed what I consider an exceedingly serious development here tonight. It is about time that we realised what is happening. There is a curious development of foreign policy going on outsides the confines of this Chamber, with no accountability to this Chamber, apparently outside the confines of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Early today I drew the attention of the House to the misuse of the word "Palestine". I drew the attention of the House to the fact that we did have, pace my distinguished colleague on my right, Senator Ross — the Minister is probably right here — diplomatic relations with Israel. Senator Ross is perfectly correct when he says that they are not full. It is disingenuous of the Minister to say that we are just simply waiting for them to be confirmed. My information — perhaps the Department of Foreign Affairs, who are pullings the strings behind the scenes here will confirm this — is that that arrangement has been terminated on the Israeli side. Before anybody suggests that this is not relevant to the debate, because it certainly is, I would like to point out——

Acting Chairman

Would the Senator please confine himself to the motion?

I am doing precisely that. I am commenting directly on the Minister's speech. I would like to make it perfectly clear where this is relevant. I refer to the Minister's speech where he says, having said previously, inaccurately, that we lost two soldiers in Palestine:

We have recognised the State of Israel

I am referring directly to the substance of the Minister's speech. I understand I am entitled to do so. The Minister said:

However, we cannot overlook the unsatisfactory political background against which they are operating and which makes their task all the more difficult and dangerous.

It is clear, when one is discussing the peacekeeping role of UNIFIL, as we are in this motion — I doubt if anybody could challenge that — that it is relevant to discuss the political machinery by which conflict is avoided. When we have soldiers from UNIFIL in the Middle East, is that not precisely the time, when we need diplomatic representation, to be able to intervene directly? It seems to me to be perfectly clear that this is what is needed.

We have it but it is not residential.

It is totally ineffective and the Israelis know that. I was told three weeks ago in Jerusalem that this operation was being folded down because of the intransigence of the Irish Government in this matter. That is the respect that we have for the safety of our troops in the Middle East.

Acting Chairman

Will the Senator please address the Chair and confine his remarks to the motion before the House.

I apologise. It is very confusing because when one is persistently addressed from a Chair beside you one's natural courtesy draws one to reply, although it is against the rules of the House, to the person who is heckling and interrupting.

Do not show any courtesy towards the Minister, please, Senator.

Acting Chairman

The rules of the House are that the Senator must address the Chair.

I am now so doing, having had my attention redirected to this measure.

Acting Chairman

Without interruption.

Yes, without interruption would be a very good idea. The most substantial points I wished to make have been made. I would like, however, simply to end on a note of congratulations because I have had the opportunity to be in Beirut, not in any hostile sense but merely lecturing on the works of James Joyce, and I have had the opportunity to meet some of the men of the UNIFIL forces. I am aware from my Lebanese friends and also from my contacts with members of the Irish contingent of UNIFIL, how very highly valued indeed their services are.

I would like to thank at this stage Senators Ross and Norris for giving me part of their time. Essentially much of what is to be said on this motion has already been said. The Minister has said a lot of the things I intended saying. Basically, the area I would like to home in on briefly is the 67 fatalities that have occurred to members of our Defence Forces who were involved in peace-keeping missions.

An aspect of the whole distinguished peacekeeping record that this country has is one that has not got, in my view, sufficient recognition in this debate, that is the role that families play, the people who stay at home, in terms of their support for the people who serve overseas, the wives and children, the fathers and mothers of serving soldiers. We have all seen at close hand the worry and concern that these people are affected by at various times. Indeed during that terrible four week period before Easter this year when four Irish soldiers lost their lives in action in Lebanon, the suffering and pain that wives, children, parents and close relatives went through is something that we must recognise. I believe that the very honoured record that the Irish Army have in peacekeeping over a 30-year period now has been successful in as much as it depended a good deal on home support.

Senator Fallon earlier referred to appropriate compensation for widows and orphans of serving members who die when they are on peacekeeping missions. I thoroughly agree with him on this and, not wanting to be anyway contentious, I think that, in the spirit of the across-the-board support that there is for this motion, we need again as a nation to look at the rates of pay for Defence Forces personnel.

I have great pleasure in supporting this motion. I was also very pleased with the unreserved support of the Minister for the motion. The fact that the Government and the people of South Lebanon want the UNIFIL Force to stay there is a great compliment to the UNIFIL Force and indeed to Irish people. At the end of the day, when we look at the number of people who have died while serving on peacekeeping missions it should bring back to all of us that we have a serious problem with peace in this country. The greatest monument we can have as a nation to those people who died is to reaffirm our commitment to peace in the most unequivocal way. Any residual support for violence as a way of sorting out our problems must be rejected. Like Senator Robb, I, too, would welcome the day when there is an Ulster contingent going on an UNIFIL peacekeeping mission.

I thank the Members for their contributions throughout this debate which by and large stuck to messages of congratulations. I also thank the Minister for attending. It was indicative of the contribution the Minister was prepared to make to the debate even when he was not talking that his red light was left on during other contributions.

It comes on. I do not put it on.

I note it was left on. I have tried during my contribution at the outset of this debate to confine my remarks to a congratulatory tone, to outline to this House the contribution the Irish soldiers have made in the peace-keeping forces abroad, that the Nobel Prize was won by those combined forces, the number of personnel who gave their lives in the cause of peace, the methods by which the United Nations observed bravery in the forces and the various medals that were given and how they differed in the ribbons attached to those medals. I have outlined the congratulatory messages from the Minister for Defence and referred to the new medal being ordered to try to mark the service of our troops abroad. I have outlined the message of congratulations from the Taoiseach to the Chief of Staff and his soldiers on receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. I have mentioned the persons from the 12th and 28th infantry battalion in my own area who gave their lives — Philip Grogan, Hugh Doherty, Dermot McLoughlin, Private Armstrong and Private Walsh. I mentioned the numbers who have given their lives. In general I have confined my remarks to congratulatory remarks.

I was somewhat taken aback that the Cathaoirleach today should talk of my absence from this Chamber particularly when I was in my office listening to the debates. It is while I was listening——

Acting Chairman

It is not in order to criticise the Chair.

Nor was it in order for the Chair to make reference to me but I accept your ruling. During the time I was listening attentively to the debate outside this House I noted the remarks of Senator Bromell about 1916 and I disagreed with him. I also noted the remarks of Senator John O'Connell when he suggested that rather than increasing the pay of the Army personnel we might offer them some cheap subsidies in picture houses, grocery and drapery shops and so on. Is that the way Senator O'Connell wishes us to mark the way our troops have made their contribution?

Senator Murphy talked about the morale of the Army, which is particularly low at this time. The Minister spoke of picking up the legacy but it looks as if the legacy of low morale will be passed on. Senator McGowan talked about offering some sort of perk with regard to duties on cars on the return home from service abroad. I also noted the remarks of Senator Robb with regard to the positively neutral contribution which is the one I hoped he would make. Nothing can deflect from the fact that there is low morale in our Army today. That was borne out when our troops were loyal to the oath they took when they first joined by not taking to the roads and not organising meetings However, their spouses had to do just that in order to——

Acting Chairman

I have to ask you to confine yourself to the motion, please.

It is difficult but I will attempt to do so. Others have roamed outside the realms of the motion. I have read over my own contribution, I stuck strictly to the motion but one small venture outside it was pulled up immediately by the Leas-Chathaoirleach. When the Minister looks for confrontation it is difficult not to retaliate though the motion is about non-confrontation. It is also difficult to ignore the heading in today's Irish Independent that says “Garda pay tops Army pay”. A garda after 14 years receives £13,328 but a three star private gets only £9,000.

Acting Chairman

We cannot discuss Army pay.

We congratulate our forces on their performance abroad but we must ask how they can continue to give that performance if they are coming from that low morale base at home. Despite the fact that this motion was totally well intentioned, and to offer congratulations, if it serves to make the Minister and the Government aware of the discontent within our forces then it will have served a double purpose.

I have briefly referred to the article in today's paper where there is £3,500 of a difference.

Acting Chairman

Please Senator, you cannot continue in that vein.

When did all that start?

When does the Minister consider the differential between the Army and the Garda started? It was many years ago.

In all sincerity I fully accept what the Senator says about the Army and his concern for them but it would have been far better to put down a motion to that effect.

On a point of order, it is most unusual for a Minister to make an intervention at this stage.

Acting Chairman

Could I ask the Senator to resume the debate on the motion?

I presume it is in order for me to respond to the Minister?

Acting Chairman

I ask you to speak to the motion that you signed.

Is it in order to respond to the Minister?

Acting Chairman


I take it that it is not in order for the Minister to interrupt me.

I promise I will not say another word.

We know that representatives of the Departments of Defence, Finance, Labour and of the Taoiseach sat on the review board. Out of that came a 12 per cent rise that was given before Christmas——

Acting Chairman

You are going away from the motion.

It will not come into effect until 1 July and there is a promised 7.2 per cent increase at a time to be determined.


This is a new approach. Who decides what is in order?

Acting Chairman

I decide what is in order. Please resume your seat.

On a point of order, you are allowing yourself to be swayed by both the Minister and the Leader of the House. I do not think that is in order. You should be addressing your remarks to that side of the House when there is an interruption. It is only when the person in possession attempts to reply to the interruptions that you address your remarks to this side of the House. Will you kindly pay some attention to the——

Acting Chairman

Please resume your seat.

If you could keep the Leader of the House and the Minister quiet for five minutes we could conclude this debate.

The motion should be addressed.

Acting Chairman

Senator Loughrey to continue.

The Senator was not conclusive.

I must reiterate the remarks of my colleague, Senator McMahon, that if I were not provoked by the Minister and the Leader of the House I would not provoke them. We have on this side of the House and indeed almost throughout the House endeavoured to pay our respects, tributes and congratulations to the Defence Forces for the way they have made a contribution worldwide to peace-keeping efforts. There is a certain irony that we should have people from this country going abroad when there is so much torment going on within our country. Maybe that in itself, says something, that we can move from our own troubles to try to help others in the knowledge that our troubles came in similar circumstances as those of the countries to which our forces are going. Many troubles stem from independence or an aspiration to independence.

Our forces are seen to be part of that coming from a young country and their neutrality is totally respected. As Senator McGowan said their expertise, training, high degree of intelligence and their deep knowledge of the troubles in the various countries to which they are assigned is acknowledged. I offer congratulations personally and on behalf of the Fine Gael group. When — I hope — this motion has the unanimous support of the House it should offer its congratulations to the forces and ask the Government to address the morale of the Army in the not to distant future.

Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman

When is it proposed that the House sit again?

It is proposed to adjourn the House until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

We should express our thanks and appreciation to the members of the media, including television, who have stayed with us all day and had an extremely difficult job. We should extend our thanks to them on the excellent job they have done.