Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 8

Committee on Finance. - Vote 45: External Affairs (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
"Go ndeonófar suim fhorlíonach nach mó ná £49,000 chun íoctha an mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1969, le haghaidh Tuarastail agus Costais Oifig an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha, agus Seirbhísí áirithe atá faoi riaradh na hOifige sin, lena n-áirítear Deontas-i-gCabhair.
—Minister for External Affairs.)

This Supplementary Estimate provides additional funds for the repatriation and maintenance of destitute Irish persons abroad. This is an aspect of the problem about which we have spoken and expressed concern for some considerable time. The attitude of the Government has always been that if Irish persons get into financial difficulties in Britain or elsewhere and require assistance the services available at the Embassy there will ensure that they are provided with a passage back to this country. That attitude was criticised on many occasions as being inadequate, unfair and unsuited to the problems which affect a number of Irish persons who get into economic or financial difficulties. The Minister for Labour announced last year at the opening of a new employment exchange that it was proposed to introduce some scheme, the details of which have not yet been published, to provide assistance for Irish emigrants who get into difficulties.

The problem has two aspects: there is the need to provide guidance and information at certain centres for Irish people seeking advice, and the need to provide some means whereby those who become financially embarrassed can be assisted and, to whatever extent possible, rehabilitated. This problem mainly concerns Irish emigrants in Britain. While, no doubt, cases occur of Irish people getting into difficulties elsewhere, most of the people who leave this country for countries other than Britain have arrangements made to find employment or have contacts through which they secure positions either in advance of their emigration or shortly after arriving.

The time has come to review the procedure which has been in operation. It is true that a great many active and well organised voluntary organisations in Britain, many of them Irish associations or organisations in which Irish people play a significant part, provide assistance for and guidance to people seeking such assistance or advice.

However, some form of recognised information and advice or welfare centres should be established in conjunction with the Irish Embassy in the main centres in Britain. Obviously it is beyond our resources to establish welfare centres in all cities, but there are key places such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and London where large numbers of Irish immigrants traditionally go to seek employment, where in many cases they keep in close touch with each other. It is mainly in the places I have mentioned that the particular problems occur and that is where such centres should be established. This type of assistance should, of course, be associated with the voluntary organisations which already work there and which, as I say, have given very considerable help and, indeed, material assistance in one form or another to Irish people needing it.

The other problem which has been discussed here is the lack of any form of control on young persons going to Britain. The most serious aspect of the whole question is: The moral and other dangers and personal risks of all kinds that confront young persons going to Britain without any family connections, in many cases without adequate guidance from parents or guardians, who, merely on a contact, possibly a friend or some other contact, travel to completely new environments where conditions are entirely different from what they are used to. I do not want to labour or exaggerate the gravity of this situation, but it is serious. Most Deputies who have been dealing with this problem and those religious and social groups who have been devoting their time to this work in Britain have all adverted to and expressed concern about this particular problem. This is a problem the solution of which must involve some form of control. Because of the administrative difficulties involved and because of a reluctance to impose control, Departments and, for that matter, Governments have shied away from tackling the problem.

Once people reach a certain age, or are beyond what is normally regarded as the age of total dependence, then obviously neither the State nor any institution can provide safeguards other than those which their own experience or the experience of others makes it possible for them to operate. There is considerable evidence that many children or 15 or 16 years of age, and even younger, emigrate to Britain annually. Estimates have put the proportion of our young people who emigrate at that age and who become social and moral problems at a very high figure indeed. I am sure there would be general agreement to operate some system of control even if that involved the issuing of permits or certificates of some sort to the effect that these young people in that particular age group have either their parents' or guardians' consent to go or are going to some suitable and safe home or hostel under the control of a reputable organisation or, in the case of a household, family or person, that that household, family or person has the approval of the parents or guardians. There is, of course, the possibility that this system of control would be abused. It is a fact that it would not be 100 per cent effective, but that is no reason why such a system should not be introduced.

The other aspect of this matter is the making available as widely as possible of detailed information based on economic and social conditions in particular centres in Britain. The information service of the Department does supply worthwhile information and facts about certain matters, but much more detailed information is required. Emphasis should be laid on the acute problem of accommodation in the large centres of population in Britain. The shortage of accommodation has long caused concern to the voluntary organisations. It has been the subject of comment, oral and written, over a lengthy period. If advice were provided about the prospects of particular types of employment, the accommodation available or the difficulties in securing suitable accommodation, that would naturally be of great assistance to prospective emigrants.

I think that one of the reasons why nothing on these lines was done in the past was that there was a recognition, or approval, of emigration. Irrespective of how we may feel, as individuals, about emigration, emigration is a social and economic fact. Emigration will continue. It is, as I say, a social and economic fact and, as such, it should be faced. We have an obligation to do as much as is humanly possible to help our emigrants. It is not possible, of course, to provide for every contingency and for particular cases. The kernel to the problem lies in the danger of young persons emigrating without their parents' or guardians' consent and without adequate information about conditions in particular centres in which they are at the mercy of social and economic conditions totally differend from those to which they have been accustomed and in an environment which is alien to their normal experience. There is, therefore, a vital necessity to supply facts about housing, employment and conditions generally.

The manpower section which the Department of Labour is in process of organising is, of course, vitally interested in and concerned with this problem. Its success will depend not merely on the availability of employment but also on the adequate training, or retraining, of Irish emigrants who are anxious to return home if suitable vacancies occur. It was with considerable interest that I read the statement of the Minister for Labour at the time. Like many others, I am disappointed that so little has been done in the interval. So far as one knows, no actual steps have been taken to date to implement that proposal. If the Irish Embassy in London and the various offices I suggest compiled information then it should be possible for the manpower section of the Department of Labour to have available for Irish emigrants in Britain details of vacancies here and information about prospects to facilitate not merely their return but also their retraining where that might be either advisable or necessary.

This is a Supplementary Estimate and one is therefore confined to some extent in regard to matters relating to general policy. One of the criticisms made about the foreign service generally is the fact that information on trading conditions is not sufficiently widely disseminated or given to organisations and firms here which are anxious to have that information. Part of this problem is bound up with the activities of CTT and, indeed, is intimately concerned in many ways also with the work of Bord Fáilte. In many ways it appears to me that, with the increase in the activities of Bord Fáilte, and the development of the services provided by CTT in respect of trade and commerce, and the extension of CTT into areas other than the dollar area to which they were originally confined, the services which the Department provided in a number of cases either no longer exist or are being covered by three separate bodies: in respect of tourism and all it connotes by Bord Fáilte; in respect of trade by CTT; and in respect generally of information as well as trade by the Department of External Affairs.

The need to co-ordinate effectively the areas of operation of these different national agencies should be examined with a view to seeing where they impinge on each other, and to what extent the services overlap. In a number of cases the offices abroad of Bord Fáilte and CTT and the staffs are in the same building. Of course, the embassies and legations are separate. The need to make the maximum possible use of the resources which are available involves some system of coordination and co-operation. It may be that some of the criticism which is expressed from time to time against one or other of these agencies, is because the persons using them and persons seeking information or assistance find that they have applied to one when in fact they should have sought the assistance of the other.

When trade loomed as a major question after the war, during the period of the inter-Party Government, at one time we concentrated on advising our embassies to exert to the maximum extent the effects which the staff of the embassies could make in respect of trade and the development of trade, and in giving the advice and information which was sought by exporters and traders here as well as in channelling on to persons abroad information which they sought about trade prospects here.

Since then CTT has developed and, although in a number of cases we have trade attachés or officials assigned to specific duty on trading matters—this applies particularly in certain embassies—there has been a substantial development of the facilities and services provided by CTT. Here again it seems to me that the need is to co-ordinate the services and get the maximum benefit out of the limited, taken as a whole, number of staff and, at the same time, to use to the maximum advantage the fact that we now have a different type of set-up from that which we had ten or 15 years ago.

The other aspect of the information services to which I want to refer this morning, is the question of making known our attitude on particular problems. Over a long period we have raised the matter of assistance to people affected by the war in Nigeria and Biafra. There is, no doubt, widespread national concern because of the large number of Irish missionaries, Irish teachers and Irish lay people who have given most valuable services in places like that, and in the area where there is continued fighting. It is outside the province of this debate this morning to discuss this matter at any length, but I feel one of the matters that have caused concern to many people here is the apparent inability to do much to resolve this problem. Of course this is a very complex question. As has been stated in the course of discussions here and elsewhere, there are many hands operating to stir up trouble and to continue to stir up trouble there.

I am afraid the matter does not arise on this Supplementary Estimate.

I am not proposing to discuss it but, at the same time, I feel the assistance that we can give in the way of providing relief should be made obvious in the sense that it should be clearly understood that any action we can take as a nation to provide that relief will be taken. We should publicise through the information section of the Department what we have done in a political way or in any other way, as well as in respect of relief. We should use the services which are there to make known our attitude and our concern and we should use our voice and vote, if necessary, to bring peace and some form of stable conditions to those troubled areas.

I note that there has been a very substantial rise in the cost of travelling and incidental expenses, and also in respect of entertainment. To what extent these increases are due to increased costs or to more travelling is not clear. It is a matter of note that the total Estimate has risen very steeply in recent years. It now represents a figure of over £1 million which is roughly double what it was, say, ten years ago. That is a very substantial increase and one which means that we should utilise to the fullest extent the services which are provided. There is an obligation on all to ensure that the services provided by the Department of External Affairs and our foreign services generally give the maximum assistance possible to Irish people who seek that assistance in any way or in any place abroad.

Mr. O'Malley

The discussion here last night on subhead B of this Supplementary Estimate for travelling and incidental expenses came around to the point that much of this additional travelling expenditure seems to be necessary because of the small number of embassies which we have abroad and their distribution. If I might be permitted to make a few points in that connection, I should like to say that it has always been a cause of some wonder to me that in the whole continent of Africa we have but one embassy. It is very difficult to see how the ambassador there and his staff can do an effective job in the whole of that continent. To bring the matter more strictly within the subhead, I might say that it is easy to see how travelling expenses must, therefore, necessarily be so high. Similarly, in the continent of South America we have but one embassy. How the ambassador and his staff there can be expected to cover the whole of that continent, it is difficult to see.

I am afraid the Deputy is getting away from the Supplementary Estimate. The debate is confined to the various subheads. Anything outside that would not be in order. The question of embassies does not arise.

Mr. O'Malley

I am discussing the question of the increased travelling expenses which apparently are necessary because of the considerable travelling which our diplomatic officials abroad have to undertake.

I understood that the Deputy was discussing the question of extra embassies.

Mr. O'Malley

I feel that that would cut down the travelling of the officials.

That would be a matter for the main Estimate.

Mr. O'Malley

With regard to subhead D and the provision of an additional sum for the repatriation and maintenance of Irish citizens abroad, I am concerned as to what happens with regard to the repatriation of Irish citizens from any country where we have no representation. I wonder if the Minister could tell us whether any arrangements can be made in that respect with any other country so that Irish citizens who get into difficulty in countries where we are not represented are looked after or sent home.

Under subhead G, I am very glad to see that the figure for entertainment has had to be greatly increased this year. I feel that, up to now, the Department of External Affairs has perhaps not done enough in that respect to project the image of this country. I believe that the increase is due to a considerably greater number of foreign conferences, and so on, being held in this country. This is most commendable. I am sure this House would not quibble at further spending by the Department under this heading or, indeed, under the heading of information services because, like many people, I feel we are rather parsimonious with what we give this Department for the purpose of projecting our image abroad. There is very little that we need to be ashamed of and we should, through information services, entertainment, and so on, do very much more to take advantage of and to utilise the goodwill which exists for us in so many parts of the world. This, I think, could be utilised by the Department, particularly with regard to trade. There must be many parts of the world where we are not represented but where there is an immense fund of goodwill for us which we could tap for the benefit of our trade and balance of payments.

Like Deputy Cosgrave, I urge on the Minister that the maximum be obtained from such embassies as we have abroad for the purpose of increasing trade, particularly in countries where there is a strong Irish connection through people of Irish descent or where there is strong goodwill for this country. Deputy James Tully was speaking here last night of what was done by the Meath football team when they went to Australia and of the amount of good they were able to achieve for industry and commerce generally in this country. That pattern can be repeated in many other places. I feel that the Department has tended to confine itself abroad strictly to diplomatic matters. It might have made use of its information and entertainment services to boost the trade of this country to a great extent. It is no harm to remember that most countries do in fact use or almost abuse their foreign diplomatic services to a great extent to boost trade and to promote a favourable image of their countries. I would urge on the Minister that every opportunity be availed of by his Department to do the same for this country.

Whilst there are many things that one would possibly be tempted to discuss in relation to the Department of External Affairs, we are confined on this Supplementary Estimate to the narrow scope of the subheads. However, in recent years, at any rate, the affairs of this Department have received a pretty welcome airing in this House. I think the Department is the better for the opening-up of its affairs on Estimates in this House and that the public, generally, is in a better position to judge just how this Department operates and exactly what its successes are.

In general, I would say that, in recent years, at any rate, the criticism the Department has received in this House has been of the wrong kind because it has emphasised an area in which the Department is not culpable, namely, expenditure. Whilst there has been an increase in expenditure in recent years —what Government Department has not had that experience? —it should be said that the Department of External Affairs is run on a shoestring in relation to its responsibilities and to the task which the Dáil wishes it to carry out.

I should just like, on a few of the points raised here, to mention some issues. Of course, everyone can agree that more should be done for the emigrants in Britain. It is very often mentioned in this House that there should be certain controls over young people and minors emigrating from this country to Britain. I often wonder whether there is not as much danger in a young person at a tender age moving from certain parts of this country to other parts in search of work as in moving to Britain. There is a tendency to see Britain as having a totally pagan environment in comparison with this country and our relative security. I would say that such comparisons are unfair to the vast majority of English people who have as high standards, and perhaps in many cases higher standards, than we like to imagine we have.

On this question of controls I cannot see how, if we have children going out to work at 14 and nobody raises any protest about it, one can become practically hysterical in regard to the lack of controls when they go to Britain. If one is to be logical one must introduce more rigid controls in regard to a higher school-leaving age if we are to prevent minors moving into an environment to which they are unsuited. If we have, as we have. a free trade in children being employed within the country it seems illogical to think that suddenly we can bring in controls over the free movement of minors between here and Britain. Of course, the whole pattern of emigration to Britain has become almost a way of life in this country. As one who worked in England for a period I know the feeling of being totally lost in an environment one does not understand, a feeling that in all senses one is a refugee, somebody who has lost his own country.

The official attitude to the Irish in Britain, of course, has been extremely ambiguous because we have had Ministers going to Britain for St. Patrick's Day and telling the Irish "to get lost", to become absorbed in Britain and to forget their nationality, and therefore it is unfair to criticise the Department for not being as vigorous or as enterprising in this area as we would like them to be. We make speeches about the tragedy of the Irish being in Britain but, in effect, we are saying to them "Stay there, we cannot bring you home; we cannot afford to". The Irish in Britain in times past played a tremendously important part in the political development of the country and a very crucial part in our movements at home. I hope they will do so again in the future. I am not one to say to them "get lost, become absorbed in Britain and become British citizens". This country must hold out the hope, the only hope for which many of them live, that some day they may get employment at home. That is an obligation the country has as much to the Irish people in Britain as to the young people growing up here. It will be another day's work to know whether the present policy will be sufficient to do this. The most concrete expression of our interest in the people of Britain would be to build up our economy and to give them a chance of obtaining employment here. There must be over one million Irish-born people in England at present and the majority have no wish to become absorbed in their surrounding community. Their sole wish is to return home.

There is, therefore, a task that we are not fulfilling at the moment. We are not doing as much as we should in regard to employing our skilled tradesmen in Britain—skills they have acquired over there—to obtain jobs at home. One may cynically observe that there are not that many jobs going at home but there are certain key jobs going which non-nationals have filled in recent years and which could have been filled by Irish nationals if they had been informed about them. Recently on television we heard a young man, who admittedly had emigrated further than Britain, complaining that it was not possible to apply for a job at home because of delays in receiving newspapers and so on and the job would have been filled before the application was received. Employers should be asked if they are considering their obligations to Irish men and women abroad who have the appropriate skills and who would be able to fill the specialist jobs they advertise.

I do not have any pat answer to this problem but certainly in regard to the Irish in Britain who have acquired skills there it appears to me that those skills could be applied at home if we had a proper system of job advertising or job notification. At the moment these people are unaware of specialised opportunities that may occur and we have the unfortunate result that perhaps a German, a Swiss, or a Frenchman may be filling a position which an Irish national could fill.

In regard to the question of information services more should be done by the Department in regard to official information being available about the foreign policies of this country. There is one school of thought which says that we cannot afford to have a foreign policy because we are too small. We may be a small country but we are a motherland of importance, one of the motherlands in the world with a large and well-scattered population all over the world which has shared a common ancestry. Therefore we have an obligation, and a certain importance which perhaps is disproportionate to our size. While the pamphlets which we publish about the United Nations are informative and give us information about certain international issues, we must do more to inform people about our attitudes. Did we do sufficient to explain our attitude and our complete disapproval of the brutal interference in the affairs of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union? Was any pamphlet or official bulletin published which was devoted to our condemnation and disapproval of that affair? I know that the Department of External Affairs do publish what is perhaps a collector's item, a bulletin which is mainly literary. I do not get this bulletin and I do not know who is on the mailing list or for whom it is designed. The copies I have seen have been quite interesting possibly because they concentrated exclusively on literary aspects, but it appears to me that that bulletin is explaining ourselves to ourselves. How exactly do we explain ourselves to others? How do we explain our foreign policies to others? Other European countries with larger budgets than we have publish a wide range of topical pamphlets and bulletins explaining their policies and attitudes.

It seems to me that our policy on the Nigerian conflict could be subject to misrepresentation because we have not published in any brochure or bulletin a consistent line explaining our predicament in the matter of Nigeria and possibly the outside world has, with some justification, come to the conclusion that on this issue we have maintained a shameful silence. We have not done sufficient to explain why, in the mind of the Government of the day, they feel that shameful silence is the only course open to us. Have we explained sufficiently the tragic dilemma which the Government felt existed in the Nigerian conflict? As far as I can understand, we have made very few comments; we took no worthwhile initiative at the United Nations or with any of the powers supplying arms and certainly, overall, we did nothing to explain our attitude in any bulletin that I have seen issued by the Department.

We may say that nobody is interested in what we think on this conflict but I do not agree with this. If we have a foreign service we must constantly explain our approach on issues as they come up. We should also explain—this may be difficult—the rather tortuous course of silence we have adopted on the Vietnam conflict. These are all matters which should be mentioned in bulletins. It is not sufficient to think we have done our job in this area by printing once a year a Civil Service-like, monotonously-produced pamphlet of the speeches at the United Nations. We should not think that it is sufficient to produce an external affairs bulletin each week.

One might ask if we have the money to expand the service in this area in which it should be expanded. There is a real need to be filled because foreign affairs and their proper conduct mean business also in many ways and more business orders for this country. I suggest it might be considered. We should seriously consider a scaling-down of the size of our embassies abroad. Do we fully utilise the massive embassy building we have in London? There are other large monuments of embassies scattered on the Continent. There is also the question of the distribution of embassies, but I am referring now to the matter of size. Are these buildings appropriate to what we are trying to do today as a small country with an active foreign affairs policy? How often do we fully utilise the plant capacity —to call it that—of the London Embassy? Are its rooms called into service once a year for two or three parties, perhaps?

The Deputy will appreciate that he is moving outside the scope of this Supplementary Estimate.

I am suggesting that more money should be available for the information services. I do not know why we need the large building we have for our Paris Embassy. It is in a centre of high prestige and we would probably get a very good price for it. This House would not chase the Minister to get the full price for it. I think we should be explaining ourselves better, possibly, to the French public if we had more journals available in France outlining our policies and our approach to European questions rather than having a big, mouldering building on our hands which is not used and which probably costs a good deal to maintain.

I am not critical of the Department's general handling of its expenses. It is a Department which, in general, is run on a shoestring but I suggest that it may be attempting to live up to a rather faded image of what diplomacy should be about which I do not think relevant to our situation. Neither do I think that we need today, with the now remote prospect of EEC entry, two embassies in Brussels. One building would do the job. Without going into the matter in detail, I suggest that we should take a fresh look at the size of our embassy buildings and decide whether we need them as they are with their high maintenance costs and whether smaller buildings would not serve our purpose and allow us more scope for more ambitious projects in publications, in journals and in staff.

Official entertainment has provided a rich stalking-ground, unfortunately, for those criticising Estimates. Of course, a certain amount of entertainment is necessary for this Department. I do not know if we can get any information on this point or not, but I am curious about the basis on which people are selected to be invited to official functions in Dublin by the Department and whether there is any rule of thumb about their selection. Who turns up at these functions? How is a decision reached that certain professional people, industrialists or others, shall be invited to functions at Iveagh House? Is this a diplomatic secret, a matter of protocol not to be shared with the Irish people? It may be an open question as to whether it is necessary so to share it. I have been curious about it because it appeared to me from the one or two functions that I have attended that there is a regular turn-out: the same faces appear at each function. I suggest in the case of official entertainment that if we have important guests we should try to get a cross-section representative of the Irish people rather than trot out the same people time after time. This would give such official guests a better idea of the kind of country they are visiting than if they are meeting only fellow-travellers of the Government in power on each occasion and perhaps getting a totally wrong idea of the state of affairs here.

At official entertainments in other countries it is the practice that a visiting guest is given the opportunity of meeting people in Opposition politics. This is something that could be considered. Visitors may get a very wrong impression if they think there is only one Party and one political philosophy in the country. They may not fully understand the forces at work in the country.

I have referred to the idea of providing further information for the Irish people working abroad. The economy, unfortunately, is not such that one can promise all of them employment at home at present but certainly there are key jobs available and if we had some way of informing those abroad that such jobs were available we might see more skilled people in Britain returning home. As distinct from Deputy Cosgrave I would change the emphasis and say: it is our duty to keep the Irish in Britain fully informed about any possibilities or opportunities of returning home rather than that it is our primary duty to let them know about conditions in the British economy, should they go there in the future. Admittedly, emigration has been with us for a long time but the task before us as a country is sufficiently large for us to realise that unless it can be tackled this country will go the way of all flesh. That does not mean that we can ever rule out a certain amount of voluntary emigration but our problem is that too many of our people are forced to go abroad. Possibly more could be done by maintaining better contact with the Irish people in Britain. I know that the London Embassy has done quite an amount of work in attempting to keep in touch with the Irish people scattered throughout Britain. The majority of the Irish people working in Britain are doing jobs that people of no other race would do. They are doing jobs which, in fact, the native English would refuse to do. They are in transport, catering and badly paid jobs. These people spend their lifetime wondering whether an opportunity will ever come for them to return home.

I am not blaming the Department. I cannot say that it is the fault of the Department that Irish people in Britain are not informed of job opportunities at home because we have had cases of Ministers of this country who, on our national feast day, went to Britain and told the Irish there to forget their Irish background and to become British citizens as soon as possible. With such an ambiguity in official attitudes it would be difficult for the Department to know what its role should be regarding the Irish in Britain. It is about time we made our minds up on an overall attitude towards these people and let them know whether or not we still regard them as fellow Irish men and women. They should be able to look forward to a time when our economy will be such as to give them an opportunity of returning home.

Official entertainment may be one way of explaining this country abroad. Perhaps it lets people see that we are civilised, normal and quite pleasant. It seems to me that one of the assets which the Department has been selling in recent years with a relative degree of success in certain areas is our cultural heritage which is Anglo-Irish. However, Gaelic, mainly Anglo-Irish. However, perhaps the Irish embassies abroad are not doing their best to explain, when the British embassies, for instance, describe Yeats as a British poet, that in fact he is Irish. When the great figures of Anglo-Irish literature are claimed by British embassies as part of the English cultural heritage, I think it is up to our embassies to explain the matter more accurately.

Perhaps the Department might consider the idea of sponsoring one or two notable Irish artists abroad. This would do a great deal for this country in important circles. Too little of this has taken place in recent years because of the risks and costs involved. The Department have a duty to the visual arts to show that there are artists in this country who are of quite a high standing and who have something distinctive and national to say, something of which the country has no need to be ashamed. Perhaps if the Department had one entertainment less and devoted the cash so saved to sponsoring such one-man exhibitions abroad, it would be doing a great deal of good. There is a lot of prestige to be gained by emphasising that Ireland has an old traditional culture. In other words, the sponsoring of such works of art by Irish citizens would create an overflow of goodwill in other areas which at first one might think were far removed from this domain.

More could be done as regards this matter of bulletins explaining ourselves to people abroad. We could have more of these journals. At the moment there is a great lack of them, at least by comparison with many other European countries. I do not know in how many languages we publish bulletins explaining our foreign policies, whether they are in French, German or Spanish or whether we rely overmuch on explaining ourselves in publications in the English language. At any rate, it is obvious that we could be running a very satisfactory information service on the publication side while we are restricted to the few things we have. The foreign policy of this country will be subject to constant misrepresentation unless we fulfil this need of having sufficient publications to explain it. Under this subhead one cannot enter into any full scale discussion of our foreign policy. It is not possible under this Estimate to discuss our policy on Biafra, Nigeria or Vietnam, of which I am very critical. I disagree with our policies in those areas and in one area in which we have Russian and British imperialism at work——

The Deputy is aware the Chair has ruled out of order any discussion on Biafra.

I did not intend having a discussion on it. Even if one could accept all the points of our foreign policy, the fact is that it would be insufficiently explained as things are at present. The number of official journals are not adequate, their scope is not adequate and possibly staff is not adequate to do a good job in this area. Therefore, I would suggest a reorganisation of resources, even within the budget, from some of the areas I have mentioned. If the Department did this, they would be doing a good job both for themselves and for the country. I regard the Department of External Affairs as one of the most important Government Departments, but perhaps I am in the minority in holding this view. It is a Department which is a key factor in explaining this country abroad and explaining its policies. By so explaining its policies it ensures for us possibilities of market expansion for our products so as to ensure that our economy will survive and prosper.

I do not propose to delay the House very long but I think I should avail of the opportunity presented by this Supplementary Estimate to say a few words on the topics which arise on it in which I am particularly interested and which in recent months I have raised at Question Time. I suppose it is true to say there is no subject which arouses such controversy or such argument as the question of emigrant welfare. Every Deputy who spoke on this Supplementary Estimate last night and this morning referred to this question. Under subhead D— Repatriation and Maintenance of Destitute Irish Persons Abroad—there is an additional sum of £3,000 being sought by the Minister. Having studied this problem pretty closely in Great Britain through frequent contacts with Irish organisations there, it is my opinion that the term "emigrant problem" is very often grossly exaggerated.

There is quite a lot of controversy in regard to what the Government should do to help Irish emigrants abroad. The Minister, in reply to questions here recently which I had tabled, referred to the fact that it was difficult to find money to help emigrants abroad because the Government were utilising all the money they could get to provide employment at home and thus prevent further emigration. I believe, despite what some people might say, that there is an emigrant problem in Great Britain and, without in any way bankrupting the Government here or knocking the Budget completely out of hand, a small amount of money wisely allocated in Britain would go a very big way to help.

To put the thing in its proper perspective I have here a report of the Irish Centre in London for the year ended 31st December, 1968. Despite what we may hear to the effect that the annual emigration rate is reducing, this report shows an increase of 432 in the number of persons who looked for help from the Irish Centre in London. This report is a very valuable document because it crystallises and produces interesting figures and facts in relation to what we have come to know as the emigrant problem. The report states that the centre's welfare officer found that new emigrants came totally ill-equipped for the task of finding employment. Rather surprisingly, it noted that the number of girls under 18 years of age arriving at their centre had decreased in 1968 but, rather alarming and disquieting, it noticed an increase in the number of arrivals over 45 years of age who looked for help in the welfare office and that more than half of those are married. It has to be assumed, therefore, that their emigration disrupted family life for their dependants as well as for themselves.

Other speakers have advocated an increased subvention to welfare organisations catering for Irish people and have suggested that there is a number of important centres in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and so on. In recent years I have been in Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, London, Portsmouth—in about ten different centres of Irish population— and my conviction is that there are only two centres which present problems. They are two centres which are in urgent need of generous assistance from the Government.

This £3,000 in the Supplementary Estimate will not provide the type of assistance which emigrant welfare organisations in Great Britain today are seeking. The Irish Centre in London was established through voluntary effort and is doing a tremendous amount of work. In London, a large centre of population where there is a definite emigrant problem occasioned by the housing shortage and all the other social and psychological problems which a young Irish emigrant has to contend with, the Irish Centre is doing a magnificant job but it is a disgraceful state of affairs that our Government would not give some subvention annually to help the Irish Centre. We have all heard on radio and seen on television features about the Irish Centre and the work of Father Dore and Father Eamon Casey.

In recent years I have been in the Irish Centre in Birmingham several times. This is run by the Oblate Fathers and, like the centre in London, is doing a tremendous job. The work being done in London and Birmingham is, as I have said, on a voluntary basis. I was horrified on a recent visit to Birmingham, where I spoke to Father Murphy, who is in charge of the centre there, to find when looking through his budget and accounts that a considerable portion of his time is taken up fund-raising and that instead of being able to devote his full time, skill and ability to the work of emigrant welfare this unfortunate man is grossly overworked and after his day's work in the office, interviewing people, trying to help them find employment, housing accommodation and so forth, has to go off at night to various functions, such as dances and to organise raffles to finance the work of the centre.

There is an unanswerable case for an annual subvention by the Government to the Irish Centres at London and Birmingham. The Minister has often stated that if we give money to one centre—I think Deputy Tully referred to this last night—there would be an avalanche of applications from other areas. I do not believe this is true. From my observation over the last five or six years the problem is really acute only in the two largest centres of population, London and Birmingham.

I was ashamed and appalled, as a public representative, at the manner in which the work of the Irish Centre is being hampered through lack of funds. I asked Father Murphy recently and his predecessor Father Byrne on another occasion what they were looking for and what way could the Irish Government help them. They both said that they had the framework and the qualified persons, both nuns and lay people and all they wanted was money.

When I was leaving Father Murphy in Birmingham a few weeks ago he said that if they could only get a grant of £4,000 or £5,000 per annum their work in the Irish Centre in Birmingham would be very, very easy and that he could organise a proper, efficient social service in that centre.

From my experience of visiting Irish centres and discussing this question with clergy, religious and others, there is a feeling of bitterness among the Irish people in Great Britain, particularly among the people who are doing such tremendous work to help Irish emigrants. They feel bitter against the Government or the official attitude down through the years with regard to this problem. It is an appalling state of affairs that an annual subvention of £4,000 or £5,000 could not be made to the Irish Centre at Birmingham. The requirements of the Irish Centre at London would probably be greater. I would reckon that £10,000 per annum would be needed for London and £5,000 per annum for Birmingham. This sum is small when we take into account the annual expenditure paid by the Department of External Affairs to the various personnel in posh embassies, who spend their time going from one party to another while there are unfortunate people being helped through voluntary work, raffles, whist drives and dances. I deplore this situation and sincerely hope that before long this, or some other Government, will face up to the situation, and will realise that it is a relatively simple matter and that we can help those centres in a very practical way by voting them a few thousand pounds per annum.

The Leader of my Party, Deputy Cosgrave, mentioned the centres at Liverpool and Manchester. The situation there is not so acute. There is a tremendous example in Liverpool of an Irish Centre having been established through local initiative and voluntary effort. The Irish Centre in Liverpool is a tremendous example of what the Irish people have achieved in Great Britain. There is a beautiful building there for the Irish Centre, providing a social centre for the Irish exiles in Liverpool. It is also a shop-window for Irish goods. It is, in fact, promoting tourism to this country and doing valuable work.

The Irish Centre in London owes nothing to the Government. It was built by the local initiative of Irish people there. The same applies to Manchester. There is a very fine Irish Centre there which is being run on first-class lines by Irish people who have a sense of responsibility, and who have done a good job. I do not want to labour this question but I feel very strongly about it. I see no reason whatsoever why money could not be made available to help, particularly, the Irish Centres in London and Birmingham.

Recently the Minister for Labour, Dr. Hillery, speaking at a Fianna Fáil meeting in Clare, indicated that his Department was examining how it might help in the matter of operating some type of employment agency for Irish emigrants. In other words, his Department is setting up some type of information service which would keep Irish people abroad informed of job opportunities at home. This has been referred to by other speakers. This is a very necessary service. I have found, as I am sure other Deputies have found, that frequently one receives letters from constituents who have had to emigrate inquiring about the possibility of obtaining employment in Ireland. There is no doubt that there are many hundreds of Irish people who have emigrated and who have acquired qualifications and skills of various kinds abroad which could be utilised effectively in Irish industry here.

The only other point I want to make —and I think it was referred to by Deputy Cosgrave—was that in view of the continued increasing expansion of the work of Córas Tráchtála, the IDA, and Bord Fáilte, perhaps the whole structure of Irish representation abroad may have to be reviewed. In so far as our embassies abroad are concerned, and particularly in relation to trade, the fact that we have an unfavourable balance of trade with every country where we have a representative is a sad reflection on the work of those embassies in the matter of promoting trade. There will have to be much greater co-operation and co-ordination between the work of trade attachés in the embassies and the work of the representatives of Córas Tráchtála, the IDA and Bord Fáilte.

Deputy T. O'Donnell put forward a proposition that a mere £5,000 would be sufficient to take care of all the problems of Irish emigrants living in Birmingham and a mere £10,000 would do the same for the Irish emigrants in London. If that is his estimate of the size of the problem, why does he not think of applying the same sort of principles as have been applied to many other fund-raising programmes in this country in recent years? Within a few weeks or months there was more than 100 times £5,000 gathered for a charitable purpose. In other collections for "charitable purposes abroad," without any connection with Ireland, the sums gathered were 20 or 30 times as much as the sums he has mentioned in relation to these two centres. I have said to many people in all Parties of all shades of political view that the only way that I can see in which the problems of the Irish emigrants in England can be helped to a solution is through voluntary funds. Once the Government come in to give a fixed sum to an individual or to a group they have to give equivalent sums to people or groups who can prove equivalence in their requirements. It is absolutely foolish to think that if small sums such as the Deputy has mentioned were to be given to one or two centres in England, indeed to one centre in one enormous city, we would hear no more about the problem or that it would do satisfactory work.

London consists of more than Camden Town. The Camden Irish Centre at present has accommodation for a number of Irish men and women. Their proposition was that they should be granted £100,000 in order to build accommodation comprising 25 or 30 rooms. There are many other Irish centres in London in which Irish emigrants live. What would even another 20 or 30 rooms do for the problem of accommodation in Camden Town alone? In Camden Town there are something over 9,000 homeless families of all sorts. In another area of the City of London that I have read about there are something like 90,000 families living in 30,000 of what they call "abodes"—three to a flat or three to a house.

That is the great problem that faces the Irish in Britain and faces the English people also. The British Government in recent years have put enormous resources into creating decent housing conditions for their people but the problem is so overwhelming in large centres that they just have not got on top of it. It leaves Irish people who go over there or English people who grew up in England and who are living in London with this great handicap in finding any sort of reasonably decent accommodation. There is this problem of gross overcrowding with four or five people to a room and allowed to be in that room only until 8 o'clock or 9 o'clock in the morning and not able to come back until 10 o'clock at night. That is the situation which young Irish people face if they go to those centres and the addition of accommodation for 100 of them to the Irish Centre would not cure it.

However, what the organisations and societies who have got together voluntarily in the Irish Centres in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and other cities have done is magnificent. They have been able to encourage Irish people who are inclined to go a little bit astray or who cannot help themselves. They have been able to give good advice or, if people could not take care of themselves, to get them sent home. We have in recent years tried to organise such Irish groups all over England and Scotland. We have a special officer whose duty it is to organise such groups. In the last three years or so I have persuaded the Minister for Finance and the Government to allow us to bring back at State expense youngsters, young girls or older people who are incapacitated and are not able to take care of themselves. The number has not grown very greatly. In the first year the number was about 37. This year, so far, it is less than 100. This does ease a burden which was very heavy on these voluntary organisations of helping people in need to get over the most acute part of their problem.

We must remember that the individual in England has greater benefits from the State during periods of unemployment or illness than people have here. We are always hearing this thrown at us by members of the Opposition Parties when they are lauding the social services in Britain and denigrating the social services we have here, but when it comes to a situation of this kind they do not mind advocating that money the Government might make available should be spent on adding to the social services available in Britain to a certain section of the people and not spent on the improvement of social services here.

Deputy Tully made a suggestion yesterday which I would like to see followed up. It was that we should get a group of all Parties to discuss this situation. We all have the same emotional approach to any human being in need wherever he may be or whatever his class, race or creed. We all have the same emotion and would like to help but we want to help our people in Britain in a way that will not discourage them from getting out and helping themselves. We do not want to turn them into mendicants, hanging around centres where they will get additional funds to those they have got from the British Social Services Bureaux.

If the Irish people in Britain who have very generously supported the centres set up in the various cities there had a few trustees in Britain who could receive the collections organised by all sections of the Irish people in Ireland or in Britain, these trustees would be able to take a decision to help reasonably when propositions were put to them. Voluntary trustees would have the power to say, "Yes" or "No", and would not be under any legal compulsion to give equal sums to everybody who approached them and could prove an equivalence of need on paper. The only way we can do a good job is by helping the Irish in Britain to look after themselves. We cannot afford to keep Irish people abroad from the cradle to the grave. If we were to try to cure the housing conditions in, say, Camden Town alone—without speaking of any other part of London or any other part of Britain—in order that every Irish person who goes there would get reasonable accommodation, it would take many times the amount of money that we can afford to spend to give reasonable housing conditions to our people and keep them at home. It is much cheaper for the Irish taxpayer to keep these people at home than abroad.

It is reasonable to say to an Irish-man or Irishwoman who goes abroad, whether it is to England, the United States or Canada and who finds that he or she cannot get along: "Come home and we will share what we have with you." It would be foolish for this Parliament to set out on a programme indicating that Irish people who go abroad and who cannot make a go of it there ought to have right to call upon the Irish people to maintain them in the country where they cannot succeed. We know that by far the greatest part of this problem of Irish emigrants is related to emigration to Britain. But Britain is not the sole country in which Irish people find they cannot make do. Anyone who knows the great cities of America or Canada or elsewhere knows he can come across worse cases in some of these cities than can be found in Camden Town or any of the other slum areas in Britain.

As I say, I have given a great deal of consideration to this problem over the years. When we came back into office 10 or 14 years ago, whatever length of time it was, there were people emigrating at the rate of 100,000 a year and there were no services by the State to help them in any direction. One of the first things I did was to try to get someone to organise the Irish people in the various cities to form groups to give information about housing, accommodation and jobs to those who approached them. At the time the housing conditions in Britain were very much worse than they are today. They were simply appalling in places like Birmingham.

A number of these groups have done very well in coping with the great number of demands made on them, and certain of them have succeeded in making a great deal of money from their other activities. If you take Liverpool alone, it is only a few years ago that the local Irish groups there, who are very hardworking and have always been interested in Ireland and in the Irish people, bought a very fine old establishment and refurbished it at a cost of something like £30,000. They have succeeded in the last few years not only in providing information and assistance to Irish emigrants looking for it but also in paying off £10,000 of the £30,000 overdraft they got.

More recently we have established this other system of taking home at State expense the young or the old or the middle aged who need protection and should be at home. We are insisting on arrangements being made for their care here. That is the best line of approach, and if further help is needed it should be given on a voluntary basis from the Irish people, as voluntary subscriptions are given for the relief of distress in other countries. There should be very little difficulty in getting agreement between representatives of the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party on the appointment of trustees in Britain who would be given the right to disburse whatever voluntary funds were given to them in Ireland or elsewhere in order to improve the lot of our emigrants over there.

I have spoken about that problem so often that I do not think I need enlarge upon it on an occasion of this kind when we are merely debating a Supplementary Estimate. However, I should like to say just one word about Deputy Cosgrave's suggestion that we should establish a control of young people leaving here. During the war we were able to establish a control on travel from here to Britain but that was because Britain wanted to have control on her side. The control was really by Britain and not by us. The people who wanted to go to Britain had to have some sort of travel permit issued here which they presented in Britain and, if they went there without being furnished with this document, they were liable to be run into jail. The situation is quite different today. Indeed, I remember at that time the Labour Party being very loud in its denunciation of the restriction placed on Irish people. The Labour Party claimed Irish people had a right to go wherever they liked and whenever they liked. Such a control now would be quite ineffective unless the British thought it in their own interests to exercise a similar control on their side. As well as that, the young people today of 14, 15, 16 and 17 years of age would be no less capable, I believe, of finding a hole in the hedge or a way across the wall than the young people were 50 or 60 years ago.

Remember, too, we have a border, unfortunately, between ourselves and the North of Ireland, a border which extends for 270 miles. Even if the British established a control on their side, it would be both difficult and expensive to control the entire border and I believe they would not even attempt to do it. Without the co-operation of the British, control is impossible. We could not make it effective on our own. Of course, one of the best controls would be if those who talk so much about Irish emigrants to Britain would, instead of emphasising the size of the pay packets, describe the conditions under which the emigrants may find themselves compelled to live and the percentage of their pay packets they may have to pay in order to get accommodation, accommodation which has sometimes been described by Irish novelists, and particularly Irish writers from Donegal, as dosshouses.

Surely we have got away from the days of Patrick MacGill.

The Deputy should visit Camden Town or some of the other overcrowded areas in Britain and see the conditions for himself. He will find conditions there today as bad as they were in the time of Patrick MacGill. Just before the Deputy came in I had told the House that in Camden Town alone there are 9,000 homeless families. In another area in London there are 90,000 families living in 30,000 abodes, such as small flats or houses. That is the situation our people face when they go to Britain. They have to pay very dearly indeed merely to get a shelter for the night or for a week.

The Minister mentioned children getting out of the country. Can a child board a boat here in Dublin as he or she can board a bus, without let or hindrance? Is that what the Minister is, in effect, saying?

Yes. That is true.

Can nothing be done to prevent children boarding boats?

They can also cross the border.

Let us clear up one point first. There are ports here.

That is true.

Surely something could be done in these ports?

If the Deputy comes up with a workable suggestion we will be very glad to accept it.

I think one garda could do it.

He could not control a land border of 270 miles.

I am talking about the ports.

I know. The problem was very much worse when the Deputy's Party was in power and his Party did nothing about it; 100,000 emigrated.

They were not all children. We are talking about children.

They were not all children, but we at least, bring the children back when we get hold of them.

We saw they got some benefit for the stamps they had over there.

You did, indeed!

We did, indeed.

The Minister is concluding.

There are Irish kids in Britain and they did not go by the border.

I see Deputy Tully here.

He is usually here.

I am very glad to see him. When he was not here this morning I thought he would not be in.

I was just performing a corporal work of mercy, accompanied by Deputy Paddy Burke.

I want to refer to one or two things Deputy Tully said. There was the canard about somebody, whom he did not name, who could not get a drink of Irish whiskey in an Irish embassy he did not name.

I got too much of it at an embassy I could name.

If Deputy Tully had a legitimate complaint he could have mentioned it to me or written me a note about it instead of slandering the entire Irish diplomatic service throughout the world.

I was in two Irish embassies. I do not drink whiskey, or anything else, and the people who were with me—one of them was Deputy Donegan—are aware there was no Irish whiskey presented to anyone there during the time we were in the embassy.

Where was this?

What the Deputy said last night was that they could not get an Irish whiskey.

That is not true. If the Minister claims to be quoting me let him at least quote me correctly.

If the Deputy says it is not true, all right. The Deputy is on another tack now. Will Deputy Donegan, or Deputy Tully, or—who else did the Deputy say was there?

A couple of the Minister's Party.

They were refused?

They were not refused. There was no Irish whiskey presented. We had taken two bottles each with us, and that was the only Irish whiskey there.

The Deputy is shifting his feet.

I am not shifting my feet.

The Deputy is shifting his feet.

If the Minister reads the report he will understand what was said. Obviously, he did not hear it.

If the Deputy wants to do something about what happened in an Irish embassy, if it did in fact happen, he has a way of doing it and getting something effective done about it, rather than slandering the whole of the Irish diplomatic staff. They cannot reply.

I did not slander anyone. The Minister is there to reply for them.

I do not know.

The Minister knows whether there is Irish whiskey in the Irish embassies, or at least he should know.

I know there is.

If the Minister says there is, I will take his word for it.

It is kept for the Ministers.

I would have passed over this but for the fact that once before Deputy Tully slandered an Irish diplomat and never produced the evidence.

That is not true. Will the Minister name the incident? I never slandered anyone, and it is most unfair for the Minister to say things like that here.

I do not want to go into it.

The Minister is not telling the truth.

I will refer the Deputy to the Official Report of 26th May, 1966, in which he said at the end of a debate that he would produce evidence to me. I said OK, and he never produced it.

What was the evidence?

I have given the Deputy the date. I demand or humbly request from Deputy Tully or Deputy Donegan the day and date on which they were refused.

On a point of explanation——

We cannot have all these interruptions.

I am slightly hazy on this matter. I do not know what we are talking about.

Possibly I should not have brought Deputy Donegan into it. I am well able to stand on my own feet.

I do not want to come between the Minister and the Deputy.

Fortunately Deputy Tully mentioned a man who is able to repudiate his evidence on this occasion but, in the other case, he did not give me an opportunity of challenging the person to whom he referred.

Was this on the occasion of a reception in Brussels in the Embassy? It is quite true that there was no Irish whiskey there. That is no criticism of the very decent people who were there, and who were highly overworked because the Minister had only half a team there.

That is a different matter. Will Deputies allow the Minister to conclude his speech?

I did not slander anyone and the Minister should not say I did.

The Minister is concluding. Deputies had an opportunity of speaking on the Estimate, and they cannot speak at this stage.

I do not want to probe this any further here but there are two Irish embassies in Brussels and I should like to hear from Deputy Donegan or Deputy Tully privately which it was so that we can follow it up.

Surely the Minister should know whether Irish whiskey is available in the embassies.

Right. If it is, it will not happen again. It did happen.

I want to pin down Deputy Tully this time. He refused to come forward the last time with the evidence. He said he had a copy of a letter to me that had already been sent to me, according to him.

If I said it was sent, it was sent. The Minister can be sure of that.

If it was sent to me, why did Deputy Tully refuse to send me a copy which he had got?

If I sent the letter surely the Minister was able to retain it, or does he dump them in the wastepaper basket?

Deputy Tully promised to send me the letter of complaint he got from Africa and he did not.

The Minister is annoyed about the old age pensioner I was talking about yesterday.

Deputy Tully should behave himself.

I do not believe Deputy Tully in this regard.

Is it in order for the Minister to say he does not believe a statement I made in this House in good faith?

The Minister is entitled to make that statement and Deputies are making it every day in the week here.

(Cavan): Everyone knows that you have as much chance of finding a needle in a haystack as you have of getting Irish whiskey anywhere outside this country.

I want to know which embassy it was so that we can follow it up.

Why did the Minister not ask that at the start?

I should like this to be dropped because the Ambassador and his wife were out there working with a skeleton staff. The Minister had been in Brussels once in four years. He was passing through. He was living in New York. The unfortunate man afterwards worked himself into illhealth.

Deputy Donegan may not make a speech at this stage.

The way they were treated by the Minister is disgraceful.

On this occasion Deputy Donegan has tried to support the slander that was being circulated by Deputy Tully.

It is not a slander. Would the Minister grow up? He is old enough to understand my statement.

Deputy Tully also complained that we were not giving sufficient help to Irish exports. He asked why we did not do something about exports to Australia. I have here a Press release from one of our very successful exporters. Exports to Australia are not very great, but they have improved enormously in the past few years.

I am glad to hear that.

In 1965, they were £194,000 odd and, in 1968, they were £1,554,000 odd. That is quite a considerable increase. One Irish exporter who had, in that period, increased his exports very considerably had this to say to the Press—it was in connection with Irish Ropes and was issued to the Press on 18th April, 1966:

In particular Mr. Denver would like to mention the invaluable assistance available to Irish exporters to Australia through the Department of External Affairs, the Irish Ambassador in Canberra and his staff. Much of the Tintawn success story is due to this valuable co-operation and, indeed, it must also have contributed to the recent considerable increase in other Irish exports to Australia.

What I said yesterday was that I knew of a few people who went out with the football team for three weeks and got a considerable number of orders and that I felt more help could be given to these people who are getting orders. That is all I said. If the Minister would listen he would understand.

He said more than that. I will not waste any more time on the Deputy.

The Minister is wasting a lot of time. He does not waste much time in this House or in this country.

Will Deputy Tully please control himself.

Will you control the Minister?

The Minister is concluding.

On our files we have tributes as generous as the one I have quoted to the work that is being done by Irish ambassadors in many parts of the world, but that does not keep Deputy Tully and others from denigrating the work they are trying to do. Several other questions were raised but I do not think they are quite ad rem to this Supplementary Estimate.

Deputy O'Leary suggested that we should cut down official entertainment and spend the money in propaganda about our attitude to all the problems in all parts of the world. It is true that the official entertainment vote has gone up very considerably over the past number of years. The functions of the entertainment fund have greatly changed in the past ten or 20 years.

The title on the Vote for the Department of External Affairs should not be "Official Entertainment" but "State Hospitality." We are very glad to see various international organisations using Ireland as a venue for their conferences—annual conferences, and so on. All Departments of State and a great number of semi-State and voluntary organisations always have their eyes open when they go to conferences abroad and try to persuade the organisers of these international conferences to use Dublin or Ireland as a venue— and they have been very successful. Indeed, in the past few years, the number of international conferences held in Ireland moved from 18 to 81 and these are very big groups; some of them can go as high as 800 or 900 or 1,000 or 1,100 or 1,300 or 1,400 in odd cases. The expense of this entertainment has been borne by the Department of External Affairs for a number of years although the basic function of the subhead has greatly changed.

I have suggested to the Minister for Finance that the expense of State hospitality would more appropriately be borne on the Vote for the Department of Finance than on the Vote for the Department of External Affairs because 90 per cent of it is spent on other Departments in having functions for these various organisations or important foreign visitors who come here.

The various Departments also have a Vote for entertainment, I think.

All these functions promoted by the various Departments are borne on the support of the Vote for the Department of External Affairs under the heading of "Official Entertainment".

(Cavan): The introduction of Taca swelled the attendance at all these gatherings.

You are jealous of Taca.

(Cavan): Fianna Fáil are ashamed of Taca.

We are not jealous of Taca. It won the referendum for us.

If you had some friends who would promise you even a £1 note every year, you would be very glad of it.


You are green with envy that there are plenty of people in the country who are prepared to back Fianna Fáil through thick and through thin.

(Cavan): The Taoiseach promised to dismantle Taca.

I would point out to the House that we are discussing a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of External Affairs.

(Cavan): The Minister says he is not ashamed of Taca but the Taoiseach says he is.

Deputies opposite would not mind whether they got the money at home or abroad.

We would not sell Ireland for it, anyway.

When the Labour Party could not get the money to swell their funds in any other way they had to get it by compulsion from the pay packets of our workers throughout the country. They would not have done that if they could have found somebody else who would swell their funds voluntarily.

Having got that little bit in, the Minister might now come back to his reply to the debate on this Supplementary Estimate.

I will. I was dealing with Deputy O'Leary's speech in which he suggested that we should cut out one of these functions and spend the money instead on expanding our information services. It is very generous of Deputy O'Leary to say that more money should be expanded on our information services for the purpose of making propaganda abroad in relation to a policy with which he disagrees—but there it is.

Would the information section devote itself entirely to Fianna Fáil and its policy?

That is what Deputy O'Leary suggested and not alone that we should spread further information about Government policy but that we should do it in French, English, Spanish and Russian. He suggested we should do all that and cut out one of the entertainments for foreign visitors who are good enough to come here and to hold a function. That was his view.

Very sensible.

I am glad Deputy Corish is not repudiating Deputy O'Leary on this occasion as he has had to do formerly.

Like when?

Ah—"Like when?"

Deputy O'Leary also said we should do something in relation to the exhibition abroad of the work of Irish artists. The Cultural Relations Committee have a fund and one of their activities is to help in the display abroad of the work of Irish painters and sculptors. They also help Irish lecturers to give lectures abroad on cultural subjects. From time to time, they have helped drama societies to go abroad and to perform in other countries. There is a limited amount of money for that purpose. The Cultural Relations Committee do their best not only to publish books or to assist in the publication of books of cultural value but also to help Irish artists to carry live displays of Irish culture to the stages of other countries.

Not one word about Biafra.

Have we a policy on Biafra?

The Minister for External Affairs is not even interested in the Irish missionaries in Biafra. Deputy O'Leary dealt at length with that. The Minister replied to other points made by Deputy O'Leary but not to that point.

It does not arise on this Supplementary Estimate.

The fugitive is off— off to China now.

Vote put and agreed to.
Vote reported and agreed to.