Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 14 Feb 1962

Vol. 193 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Common Market: Membership of NATO.


asked the Taoiseach whether in view of the statements made at Claremorris Chamber of Commerce by the Minister for Lands he will state if he has now been informed by the member countries of the European Economic Community that, contrary to all his previous statements on the matter, Ireland's entry into the EEC has now been made conditional on joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and, if not, if he will state the reasons for the statements made by the Minister for Lands.


asked the Taoiseach if the views expressed by the Minister for lands at Claremorris Chamber of Commerce in connection with neutrality and Ireland's attitude to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation represent Government policy; and whether it is now the intention of the Government to seek admission to this Organisation.


asked the Taoiseach whether any suggestion has been made to him, officially or otherwise, by any representative of the EEC countries that Ireland will be required to become a member of NATO as a condition of membership of the EEC.


asked the Taoiseach whether in the course of discussions concerning Ireland's application for membership of the European Economic Community a suggestion that Ireland should join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been made either officially or unofficially.


asked the Taoiseach whether the Government have received any request, either official or unofficial, that this country should join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.


asked the Taoiseach if in view of the statements of the Minister for Lands at Claremorris Chamber of Commerce the Government is now preparing to commit the Irish people to joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.


asked the Taoiseach if it is the intention of the Government to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.


andMr. McQuillan asked the Taoiseach whether any undertaking had been sought from the Irish Government that, as a condition precedent to joining the Common Market, Ireland should agree to join the NATO alliance.


asked the Taoiseach whether in view of the statement of 23rd January by Dr. Willi Birkelbach in an EEC report that membership of the Common Market entails a clear cut siding with the EEC on foreign policy and defence matters he has had any discussion, apart from the references made to the matter in his opening statement in the Brussels negotiations, on the subject of Ireland joining NATO; and, if so, what have been the results of such discussion.

With your permission, Sir, I propose to take together Questions Nos. 5 to 13 inclusive.

No proposal, request or suggestion regarding Ireland's position in relation to NATO has been made, formally or informally, by the European Economic Community, or by the Government of any member thereof; and no question of a change of policy in this regard has been considered by the Government.

Would the Taoiseach give the House an assurance that we will not be insinuated into NATO by indiscreet speeches made by Ministers?

I can certainly give an assurance we will not be insinuated into NATO or anything else and also that Ministers will not make, and never have made, indiscreet speeches.

Has the Taoiseach not read the report of the speech of the Minister for Lands in the Irish Press of the 6th of this month in which he said it would be unrealistic not to have regard to the fact that the six EEC countries were now members of NATO and that they were brought into that by reason of the fact that they had common policies on foreign affairs and on defence?

I do not quite get the point of the Deputy's supplementary. It is of course necessary to take account of the realities. The Minister for Lands referred to the realities. May I say in this regard that I think it would be highly undesirable that remarks made here should give the impression in Europe that there is a public opinion in this country which regards membership of NATO as something discreditable. The view of the Government in that regard has been made clear. We think the existence of NATO is necessary for the preservation of peace and for the defence of the countries of Western Europe, including this country. Although we are not members of NATO, we are in full agreement with its aims.

The Taoiseach referred to the fact that we may be giving a wrong impression abroad. Would he also have regard to the feelings of the people in Ireland who, after reading the speech of the Minister for Lands, believed that this was the thin end of the wedge to get this country into NATO?

I have no evidence that anybody believed that, except the political correspondent of the Irish Times and Deputy Corish.

The Irish Press had the Minister's statement as well.

Is the Taoiseach aware that anybody can produce to him the evidence of the people at that dinner who heard with their own ears the Minister for Lands making a statement diametrically opposite to what the Taoiseach has stated, and would the proper course for the Taoiseach then not be to call for the Minister's resignation?

No sober person at that dinner could have heard differently from what the Press reported.

Do I understand the Taoiseach to have chosen the word "sober" quite deliberately? Do I understand the Taoiseach to make the allegation that the people there present who heard the Minister were not sober, or who was it?

The Minister for Lands was dropping a stone down a well, listening for the echo.

Does the Taoiseach suggest that we have some moral responsibility to join NATO? Is it not right that from 1941 to 1945 Ireland supported the American steps against Nazism and Communism though we did not take any part in that battle? What has now caused the change over in support of NATO? What is the moral responsibility?

I have not said a word about moral responsibility.

Would the Taoiseach say if he approves of the statement made by the Minister for Lands in relation to the unworthy insinuation against a member of this House who found it necessary to comment on the statements made by him?

There is a question in relation to the Minister's statement later on the Order Paper but it seems to me that nobody who read the actual text of what the Minister said could have misunderstood it.

That is ridiculous when every paper in the country took it up —even Telefís Éireann took it up— with the insinuation that we were joining NATO.

That is not so.

Does the Taoiseach approve of the Minister making unfair insinuations in respect to the leader of a major Party in this House with regard to the observations he found it necessary to make as a result of the Minister's pronouncement?

Members of the Government have this peculiarity— they defend themselves when attacked.

Unfortunately the members of this House were not present at the function referred to and it is perfectly unfair——

Is the Taoiseach serious when he suggests there was no sober person at the dinner in Claremorris?

I made no such suggestion.

We know one person who was not sober.


Mr. Ryan

asked the Taoiseach whether the speech of the Minister for Lands on the 5th February 1962 relating to the issue of neutrality and the possible participation by this State in international military and political alliances represents Government policy.


asked the Taoiseach whether the recent speech made by the Minister for Lands and the policy statements contained therein represent considered Government policy in relation to Ireland's position vis-à-vis the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.


asked the Taoiseach if the speech of the Minister for Lands relating to NATO represents considered Government policy; and, if so, why no indication was given by him prior to the recent General Election that such a radical departure from Ireland's established position of neutrality was in contemplation.

With your permission, Sir, I propose to take Questions Nos. 14, 15 and 16 together.

The speech made by the Minister for Lands—but not the interpretation placed on it in certain newspapers— was in accord with Government policy.

Would the Taoiseach say whether the Minister's speech was approved before it was delivered or approved in accordance with the defence policy of the different members of the Government after it had been made?

Whom does the Deputy consult before he makes speeches?

Neither the House nor the country can understand why the Minister is allowed to thunder in the West on our relationship with NATO, while the Minister for External Affairs cannot be induced to say anything in public—only to remain silent——

Does the Taoiseach believe that difficulties will confront us in our application for membership of EEC——

The Deputy is asking me to look into the minds of other Governments.

He says Austria and Sweden will have difficulties in joining EEC because of their attitude to NATO.

Read what I said.

I am reading the Irish Press.

Does it not now appear, in the light of misapprehensions that may arise through correct or incorrect interpretations of statements by Ministers, at Claremorris or elsewhere, that there is a strong case for the publication of a White Paper which will set the Government's policy clearly before the country as well as before this House, lest ambiguity might remain as to what our future is as a nation in this situation, after the exchanges that have taken place? I would ask the Taoiseach to consider whether the kind of exchanges we have had between the uproarious laughter of the Fianna Fáil Deputies, are well calculated to clarify the public mind on an issue of this kind?

There are later questions on this subject.

Would I be permitted to quote from the Minister's statement?

No. Question No. 17.

It is from the Irish Press.


asked the Taoiseach whether in view of the statements made by the Minister for Lands at Claremorris Chamber of Commerce the Government would now be prepared to give the undertaking required of all prospective members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to accept the territorial integrity of all other members, which includes the acceptance of the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

There is no provision in the North Atlantic Treaty which would require any member or prospective member of NATO to give an undertaking of the character suggested in the question.

It should hardly be necessary for me to say that there is no possibility that this or any other Irish Government would give an undertaking, in any circumstances, which would impede in any degree the fulfilment of the national will to restore the territorial unity of Ireland.

Is it not a fact that one of the reasons put forward by the Taoiseach's predecessor against joining NATO was that if we did, we would have to respect the so-called territorial rights of Britain in the Six Counties and that his predecessor was not prepared to do that? Does the Taoiseach now change and say there is no responsibility on us to accept the British rights in the Six Counties?

I shall quote from the relevant article of the North Atlantic Treaty:

The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

In my view, it is not in the national interest to represent that as implying an undertaking to preserve the Partition situation, having regard to a corresponding phrase in the Charter of the United Nations, and indeed of the old League of Nations, which we have accepted.

Is it not a fact that the former leader of the Fianna Fáil Party was specific in his reason for our not joining NATO, the ground being that our rights in the Six Counties would be damaged—that we would have to accept the status quo? Is it not a fact that that statement was made by the Taoiseach's predecessor? Is the Taoiseach now somersaulting?

I have no recollection of any such statement. I have read the complete article of the Treaty which deals with this matter.