I cannot remember where I left off in this debate but I know I was making a passing reference to the attractions which I personally felt membership of the EEC had for this country. I heard a couple of remarks from the Labour benches at that time. I think it was Deputy Dr. O'Donovan who said: "Yes, head as fast as possible right into disaster." Previous to that I heard Deputy O'Leary saying that the one party in this House which already had international connections was the Labour Party. I heard Deputy Keating speak on the subject a few days ago somewhere else. All the time I find it hard to understand the attitude of the Labour Party to the EEC and to the alternatives we have to follow if we decide not to pursue our application for membership of the EEC. I heard somebody pointing out to Deputy Keating on that occasion that the Irish Labour Party was unique in Europe, that every other socialist party in Europe is quite enthusiastic about membership of the EEC.
Adjournment (Summer Recess): Motion (Resumed).
As a matter of fact that is not true.
They were referring to the present membership.
To the Six.
The British Labour Party is not known to be that enthusiastic.
The British Labour Party in my time at the Council of Europe almost crawled to get into the EEC.
Ask Harold Wilson.
As far as I know their attitude has not changed except that when the balance of payments was corrected in Britain it then of course started to harden purely for the sake of making the best possible bargain.
Apart from the fact that we have in my view absolutely no alternative in this country if Britain goes into the Common Market except to follow, I see considerable attractions for this country in membership of the EEC. I do not intend to go into these in detail. There have been long debates on this and it can be gone into in considerable detail when we resume after the recess. If this Government do not resume another one will. I do not know what answer members of the Labour Party have to our over-dependence on a single market—the British market— where do we go from there if we do not go in.
It is all right to cry about the position of the 20-acre or the 30-acre farmer in the West of Ireland, that he will disappear. What farmer of 30 years of age or under today will accept the conditions endured by his forefathers? I agree with Deputy Keating that people should be told the truth. They should be told they will not continue to exist as 20-or 30-acre farmers. They could not possibly. They will not accept these standards. Either they will continue as part-time farmers, as the Minister for Lands has suggested, with a job in industry or the size of the farms must be increased and the number of farmers reduced. This is inevitable if the standard of living acceptable in the future is to be arrived at. Undoubtedly, these small farmers were wonderful people but the main wonder about them is that they endured for so long the hardships that are inevitably associated with farms of this size.
I and many people at the present time are concerned about the position whereby according to the law of the land people are compelled to insure their motor cars. At present there are thousands of people driving around this country with no insurance. The sooner the Taoiseach and the responsible Minister appreciate this the better. This is no fault of the car owners concerned and I say that they should not be summoned because they have failed absolutely to get cover. The Minister does not seem to be overconcerned about this and the Taoiseach does not seem to be overconcerned about it.
There should have been an inquiry into the problem long ago. Nobody knows what people are going through. As far as I can see, there is no solution except to keep your head in the sand. I have great sympathy for people involved in this and for the people from whom the insurance companies are demanding enormous sums before they will insure them. The insurance companies and the insurance brokers are not satisfied with the situation either and they would welcome an inquiry. The whole thing has come to the point where it requires close investigation.
If the Deputy knows of any cases of owners who have failed to get insurance he should get these people to communicate with my Department.
Certainly, but the Minister will agree this is a very round-about way of dealing with the matter.
There is special provision for people who find themselves in this difficulty. We have a special bureau to deal with it.
They can be covered at rates which everybody cannot be expected to afford.
Not necessarily so.
In regard to the question of telephone tapping which was referred to by a number of speakers particularly, Deputy Blaney, I do not give a damn who taps my telephone. Deputy Blaney said that he believed his telephone was still being tapped and that the telephones of other Deputies were being tapped. He did not accept the assurance already given. He did not say he disbelieved the Taoiseach. He said a warrant was necessary and the Taoiseach had assured the House no warrants were given. He asked if this telephone tapping was taking place regardless of the fact that there was no warrant. I should like the Taoiseach to tell us if there is any machinery to determine whether or not this type of telephone tapping is going on without a warrant. Some people regard this as a serious thing but, as I say, I do not give a curse who listens to my telephone conversations because I am not afraid of anything that will arise out of them. However, if anybody is trying to undermine the security of this State I say his telephone should be tapped. Even if he is suspected of undermining the security of the State, I say his telephone should be tapped. Perhaps the Taoiseach could elaborate on this matter.
I do not disagree with everything which the two Deputies who are in bad odour with Fianna Fáil said. There is a good deal with which we can agree, and of course there is a great deal with which we would disagree. I agree with Deputy Boland when he says that there is not an awful lot of meaning to be attached to the word "solidarity". The Minister for External Affairs should explain what he means by "solidarity" with the people in the North. I presume he means that he would exert whatever pressure is available to him on the British to do everything possible to ease the situation there. Neither should the Taoiseach make statements like "we will not stand idly by" without clarifying them. Words are very important and statements are very important and they should be self-explanatory. I have tried to deal with the statement of the Taoiseach that we were on the brink of a great achievement and I hope Deputy Boland will agree with my version of what the Taoiseach really meant.
At the outset I referred to the fact that what this country was suffering from more than anything else was a surfeit of Fianna Fáil. I meant that and I say it is time they gave up. During the past year the whole political scene has been dominated by the difficulties within the Fianna Fáil Party and the real business of the State and its future development have been ignored while the party's internal difficulties were being patched up in such a way that the Taoiseach could cling to power. The decent thing would be for him to go to the country. I believe the people would decide on a change of Government and in the years ahead the Fianna Fáil Party could sit in Opposition and settle their difficulties where they should be settling them. The Government, which is supposed to be doing the business of the State, could get down to doing that and would not be preoccupying themselves with their own difficulties and their own party's problems.
I should like to thank Deputy Clinton for being brief and I, too, will try to be concise as other Deputies wish to speak. I want to deal with some of the many exciting topics that came up during the year. Two things which can be linked are the question of inflation and the wage freeze. I want to link the question of the North with our application to join the EEC, because this involves fundamental attitudes on the part of the different parties, and then I want to say something about the position that has been evolving in Fianna Fáil. We had the extraordinary circumstance here that the Budget was not fully debated in the sense there were so many extraordinary events pending that it was swept out of everyone's mind. At the time of the Budget there was some similarity between the position taken by Fine Gael and the Labour Party. For a Labour Party to stress the dangers of inflation and to urge regulation of the economy, admittedly in a way which was different from what the Government were trying to do, was to an extent a departure from our traditional position. I think it was a measure of our responsibility and seriousness. We were mocked from the Government benches for taking that view and we had what was to me a magnificently egregious statement from a Deputy who was subsequently to become Minister for Justice, Deputy O'Malley, who on the 29th April said:
Neither the Opposition nor anybody else in the country can justly criticise the Budget. It is one of the finest pieces of thinking, financial legislation that has ever been introduced.
Nice unmeasured words—"ever introduced". Three months later we find the Taoiseach indicating, when the Dáil is conveniently going into recess for three months, that all that was said from the Opposition benches about the economy is true; it will be necessary to take steps to solve the crisis. A Budget does not grow out of thin air in the fortnight before Budget Day. No doubt there are people working on next year's Budget now. The Minister for Finance's servants have the country's economy continuously under review and are involved in the lengthy and detailed process of producing a Budget.
If the criticism of the situation which the Government have been permitting to evolve were obvious to the Opposition three months ago then it should have been evident to the Minister. The turnover tax which was introduced is inflationary, directly in regard to prices and also because the money is raised in that way and in that it leaves money in the hands of industries and in the hands of the richest people.
Now we have this statement of the Taoiseach that the greatest immediate problem facing the nation is inflation. We agree now and we agreed three months ago when, for reasons that are not evident, the sort of ridiculous Budget that we had was introduced. It may have been introduced in the knowledge that, if it was necessary to get though, it would be better to do it in easy stages. That is one possible explanation. It was a definite dereliction; the situation was ignored for three months. What is now emerging is the other side of this inflation and the way in which the Government propose to solve the problem.
When he introduced the Budget the Taoiseach used the phrase "brutal exercise of their bargaining power" in relation to the trade union movement. He talked briefly about the activities of strong, organised groups and the need for an incomes policy. In his opening speech on this Adjournment debate the theme becomes a little clearer. He says the Government has this obligation, rather vaguely expressed, "to express a statutory limit to the increase any employer can give". To express a statutory limit! It would have been clearer had the Taoiseach said "to impose". That would have indicated a clear intention. There is no use in the Government "expressing" a statutory limit. "Strong and firm action must and will be taken by the Government. There is not much time left." There is not enough time left to wait until the Dáil reassembles in October. "The Government recognise workers cannot be expected to show restraint in wage demands unless other groups do the same." We are faced with a classical pattern repeated in many countries at many times. When one gets an inflationary situation such as this it is the workers and the poorest sections of the community who are expected to pay.
There has been some considerable research in many countries from the point of view of government and other policies in regard to prices, in regard to wages, in regard to incomes and in regard to profits and all the evidence is that no mechanism anywhere has ever been devised which has successfully restrained profits, restrained the incomes of those sections of the community who sell their labour at the highest price, the professional classes. We have the classic example of the man who has five times what he needs to live on who is not asked to exercise any restraint whereas the man who has just barely what he needs in order to live is asked to cut into his fundamental and irreducible standard of living. This is the social justice, the corrollary to the refusal to act in the Budget, this magnificent piece of financial thinking, the most magnificent ever introduced, and all the rest of the clap-trap that was served up with it.
Wage freezes—there is evidence of this all over the world—are not things that work satisfactorily for any practical length of time. They are things which disrupt the organised trade union movement. They are a device which tries to solve immediate crisis problems at the expense of those who produce the wealth, at the expense of the working-classes. If we want to solve the crisis we will have to do so by the methods and the kind of taxation advocated from these benches in place of the turnover tax in the debate on the Budget. If we want to solve the crisis we will have to introduce a whole series of measures which will bear right across the board, on profits and on higher incomes, and then the trade union movement will be willing to play a correspondingly responsible part in that exercise. To the extent that we have influence with the organised working-classes here we will see that this crisis is not solved at the expense of the working people. We will have no part in any policy which says to the poorest sections of the community : "Don't ask for any more. Don't ask even to keep up with the inflation". We will have no part in such a policy which leaves those on the higher levels completely untouched. Any such policy will be rejected and, if the Taoiseach and his Government think they will solve the crisis in that way, then they are on a collision course and they might as well be clear about that now.
Take the advice of the chairman of the Congress of Trade Unions. Do not be living in the past. That is what the Deputy is really doing. Be realistic about this.
That is all I wish to say about inflation and wage freezes. I want to turn now to the north and to the EEC negotiations. These seem to me to indicate linked attitudes. I listened with some interest and, indeed, some emotion to Deputy Boland this morning, not because I agree with him very often but because I found the turmoil he and many sections of the Fianna Fáil Party are in in trying to decide what is the correct thing to do not at all funny. It is no source of mockery from our point of view. I do not have any particular respect for the Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party but I have a great deal of respect for many of their followers throughout the country. This is a very real turmoil because the policies they so honourably espoused 30 years ago are being cast aside wholesale with quite extraordinary rapidity.
Deputy Boland in describing the Taoiseach's speech on the eve of the 12th used the word "object". I used the word to describe the Government's application to join the EEC; it was abject. Both are abject. In his speech on 11th July—Deputy Boland referred to this—the Taoiseach said: "This whole unhappy situation is an Irish quarrel. I admit that others come into it either because they misunderstand it or because they misuse it, but they are not an essential part of it. We must settle this quarrel among us.""They" are the Irish of all strands. I welcome the Taoiseach's putting out a hand to all strands in the nation, but the suggestion that it is an Irish quarrel and that all the other strands in it are not an essential part of it is surely a total rejection of the whole Irish republican tradition. I value that tradition only because I think that what is enshrined in it is right. I have analysed this. We happen to live beside the country which first evolved capitalism. Perhaps the Dutch were the real first, but Britain came next. We became one of the first classical modern capitalist colonies and this was our great misfortune. It was not an Irishman who said: "The Orange card is the card to play." It was an Englishman.
The determination to divide the Irish people goes back far beyond the institution of Partition. The division of the people on religious grounds and to some extent on limited ethnic grounds —in that the people who came from Scotland and England were of slightly different ethnic stock—goes back to the fright Britain got at the time of the United Irishmen. At that time under Tone's leadership, Dissenters in Northern Ireland made common cause with Catholics. The enemy has always been British imperialism and when Deputy Boland used that word today I said: "hear, hear".
The Taoiseach said that his second commitment is to Anglo-Irish friendship but I must differentiate when speaking about friendship with England. For the ordinary people of England I have nothing but friendship but for the ruling classes who have partitioned Ireland, who have brought "hangers-on" in both parts of Ireland, I have nothing but implacable animosity. They have spread an empire throughout the world which may not exist as the colour red on the map anymore but it still exists in economic and social terms.
Deputy Boland quite correctly referred to the buying-off of Northern Ireland with huge subsidies, making the possibility of re-unification more difficult. These subsidies are available to the British imperialists because they are exploiting others. The subsidies are paid out of the pockets of the British taxpayers, whereas the profits from the ownership of industries in the North of Ireland go into the pockets of the British ruling classes. The existence of the North of Ireland is a source of increased wealth for the ruling classes.
The key to the situation in Ireland is British imperialism and the domination of the economies of both parts of this country by British imperialists. The key to ending this is to struggle against imperialism, not against Protestants and not against England. Hate is a sterile emotion and we do not hate the people of any country, of England or of the North of Ireland. However, we can hate an institution that has brought so much degradation in its wake.
If we say it is not the majority group in the north that has affected superiority towards the rest of the community, do we end up by saying that there is no institution against which we ought to struggle, which is responsible for this degradation and inequality? The whole kernel of Irish republicanism is its anti-imperialist posture. If the term "imperialist" is disliked, one can substitute "neo-colonialist" or any other word, but the reality is that the strong capitalism of Britain has dominated and divided us in order to perpetuate its rule over us. This is the source of the hatred between different groupings in the north and this is why the road forward is by unity of the working classes in the north and south, gathering other elements in a struggle against imperialism. For this reason the unity displayed in the shipyards this year, in the centre of a holocaust of hatred, was a wonderful and hopeful sign. When the Taoiseach says this is an Irish quarrel, I must disagree totally with him. This analysis that it is an Irish quarrel is the basis of the whole sell-out which Deputy Boland so rightly deplored.
I come now to the matter of the European Economic Community. It is fine to talk about Article 3 of the Constitution, as Deputy Boland did at some length. I have quoted already the remark of Sir Boyle Roche that it is worth sacrificing part or even the whole of the Constitution that the rest may be preserved. Article 5 will have to go and in my view Article 1 will have to go and many other Articles. Why get excited about the possible re-unification of national territory when accession to the EEC will mean that the Irish nation will cease to exist? If we are willing to give away sovereignty over this part of the country, why the academic excitement about our sovereignty in the other part of the country? I find it illogical that people who profess to be republicans can find no fault with the Taoiseach's policy on the EEC because these matters are absolutely incompatible.
I have already spoken about various objections to the EEC and I do not wish to repeat them but the thought that by abolishing ourselves as a nation we can solve Partition is ridiculous. It is analogous to saying that if you have a cold you jump off the tallest building and that will stop the cold. It will also stop the traffic and it will solve the problem at the cost of personal extinction. We can solve the problem of the re-unification of Ireland by abolishing Ireland but it is a totally different solution from anything the Fianna Fáil Party have ever believed. I must admit I am in agreement with much of what Fianna Fáil says, as distinct from what they do. My great critcism of them is that they have betrayed much of their beliefs.
Deputy Boland went back to 1926, but I demonstrated in the debate on the EEC that every piece of policy adopted at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis in 1953 has been abandoned. Therefore, the excitement of the "republicans" seems to me to be irrelevant. I can only ask myself how serious are they and if they can find no crumb of criticism of the EEC that they can offer to join totally without reservations?
This brings me to the point I have always held and which has emerged with extraordinary clarity in this House and throughout the country since 6th May last. I believe that in this century it is only possible for a small weak economy to survive as a socialist economy, not as an open capitalist economy. In other words, if you are a republican in this century you have no option but to be a socialist. This point was clear to James Connolly more than half a century ago and it is just as true today. Therefore, throughout the history of Fianna Fáil there has been this dilemma "We are republicans and the inheritors of the Irish republican tradition but, on the other hand, we are economically dependent on Britain: we negotiated a free trade agreement with them, we have never had a separate currency." This is the impossible dilemma. On the one hand, we support the small farmers; on the other hand, we accept Mansholt.
I have asked myself over and over again, but never more than in the past few months, how can people who are not obviously dishonest have such a vast divergence between what they profess to believe and what they actually believe. I do not have this criticism of Fine Gael. Fine Gael have been consistent. I have been in disagreement with Fine Gael but they have been consistent during their whole life. If you go back to the old Cumann na nGaedheal times, to which Deputy Boland referred, they were consistent then, too. However, the evolution of the Fianna Fáil Party, as revealed by the EEC debate and on many other matters, clearly indicates no difference in policy between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
There is a difference of personality and there are the hatreds of the Civil War, but there is no difference in policy between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. That is not because of a change of policy on the part of Fine Gael; it is because of a change of policy on the part of Fianna Fáil. Deputy Boland is beginning to see now an abandonment of everything Fianna Fáil thought possible in the 1930s, the 1940s and up to the mid-1960s: he is beginning to see that under the impact of terrible events. There has been a total shift of policy on the part of Fianna Fáil. This is what makes for this awful dilemma for the people on whom I look as very fine and very serious and loyal and vital Fianna Fáil supporters throughout the country.
Was Fine Gael right all along? Was the whole evolution of Fianna Fáil policy since 1926 totally mistaken and impossible of realisation or, in some way, is it possible to salvage the sort of ideology that has been expressed by Fianna Fáil spokesmen down the years and indeed is still expressed at election times—this enormous gap between the "reality" and the pharseology of the hustings? How can this enormous gap exist in the minds of people most of whom are sincere? They are not all sincere. I used to think they were all hypocrites when I came here, that they knew about the gap, that they were aware of the difference, that it did not worry them because the important thing was to stay in power. Hypocrisy is one explanation, and certainly it applies to a proportion of Fianna Fáil but, on the basis of actual contacts during my time here in the past 12 months I consider that hypocrisy is the explanation only in relation to a minority in Fianna Fáil.
When a great gap exists between words and deeds and you do not notice it, there is the explanation of simple stupidity. Hypocrisy and stupidity are not mutally exclusive: it is possible to be both at the same time. I think of a number of people in Fianna Fáil to whom both these epithets would apply and, in some, it is simply a matter of stupidity because they do not notice the divergence. A third group is becoming more and more evident in the turmoil of soul which is now taking place: I do not mock them. They are now facing a dilemma inherent in their party through the whole of their lives and they have not had to face that before. People who are not stupid and who are not hypocrites end up by becoming mentally disturbed in the sort of way in which, in the more acute form, is seen in our asylums where people have totally lost contact with the real world. The tremendous emotional drive they feel causes them to rebuild their picture of the world, in a fantastic way not corresponding to reality.
What has emerged in this session is that it is no longer possible to face in a whole lot of ways at the same time. It is no longer possible to utter words about policies of the 1930s and, in fact, carry out the realistic policies which recognise the position of British imperialism, which recognises—they say there is no alternative to go into the EEC; I am not giving my belief but their belief as expressed in their actions —that the Irish nation as a nation is no longer valid or viable and that the whole culmination of the evolution of a republican tradition of 200 years was all barking up the wrong tree and that the old gods must now be abandoned and forgotten.
It is sad, not for practising politicians who choose this life and accept the psychological crunch when it comes, but for people to be put into this terrible situation which sections of the Irish people are in at the moment. Many of our institutions are in danger because, in their casting about and in the fury one sees this extraordinary phenomenon of sharp anger, hostility and aggression towards fellow countrymen. You may disagree with people but when you want to hit them in the face—which we do to quite a remarkable extent in our politics at present— then you have to find a motivation other than the obvious one.
Some of the statements made in this House recently are particularly sinister. I did not hear Deputy Blaney yesterday but in a previous debate he seemed to be evolving in just this violent way which I think is very dangerous. It is just because the impossibility of sustaining the illusion is now becoming so clear, and has become so clear in the past three or four months, that we now have a great need to argue not in terms of political advantage but simply in terms of telling the truth to the populace. The fundamental assumptions of our traditions are brought into question. They bring into question the validity of the old gods, to use a somewhat paraphrased form of what the Taoiseach said. Therefore, it is a dangerous time. It is a time, it seems to me, when, if major political parties are really changing their mind in a fundamental way, they have a duty to themselves and to the populace as a whole to say they are doing it, and to say why they are doing it. Otherwise, we are faced with a danger of solutions— solutions which are authoritarian, wicked and which will set back the development of the country. We are far from a resolution but, in this session, it seems to me that the whole ice of Irish political life has started to crack. It is around the twin issues of the north and the EEC that it is happening.
If I were to bring it down to a single sentence—and here very oddly I find myself in agreement with Deputy Boland, rather to my surprise, and no doubt to his—I would say that the central issue is this: do you or do you not believe that imperialism exists? Do you or do you not believe that the Irish people, under the leadership of their political parties, ought to struggle against this imperialism? That seems to me to be the central question that we cannot escape.
My intervention at this stage will be very brief because I know there are others who wish to speak and that the time available is limited. I am mainly concerned with the Taoiseach's opening statement on the general state of the economy vis-à-vis the industrial relations situation. I should like to take this opportunity to put something on the record in relation to that. I do not wish to reiterate the many statements which were made in support of maintaining the present system of free collective bargaining which has characterised our system of industrial relations down through the years and is held, indeed strangely, by everybody in this House to be the ideal system, if it could be found to work.
This free collective bargaining sysstem which is so vital to the future of the economy has been undergoing a very severe test for some time. Many people are becoming impatient. I am not sure that Deputies in this House, and particularly members of the public outside, and other agencies, are always aware when they press on the Minister to intervene in an industrial dispute, that what is really at fault here is simply, as I pointed out so often, that it is encouraging a changeover from the present system to something which would be very much a new system or, worse still, no system at all. It would be left to anyone to come along at some stage and try to do better than he was doing with whatever group was dealing with the situation before.
When I went to the Department of Labour I set out to try to establish confidence in the institutions which existed and mutual trust so far as management/labour situation people were concerned, that is to say, between the ICTU and the FUE. Along these lines, and only along these lines, I think, can success be achieved eventually, if we are to have the voluntary restraint which is desired by so many people. It is quite easy to point out the different factors involved, and quite easy to point out the dangers that are inherent where you have a spiralling inflation, but it is not always easy to get the message home to individual groups who are directly concerned who feel that they are only a part of the many and that they might as well have their full share of the cake when it is going, which seems to suggest a type of smash-and-grab system so far as the economy is concerned. They will express their feelings that it is dangerous to the economy but they will say the other person is doing it and why should not they. To arrest this situation and to get a measure of individual responsibility brought into what might be regarded as the collective situation is not so easy.
I looked at the history of the Labour Court and the industrial relations section of the court, better known as the conciliation section, the support it got in this House and the views which were expressed when it was set up. If any Deputy goes back over the record he will come to the conclusion that very high hopes were expressed and that everybody agreed that this institution, given the necessary acceptances and the proper approach from all concerned. It is for this reason that I would fight strongly against the substitution of any new system. I know there is always a feeling that something new is better. The impression is created that it will have a different approach. After a time, it becomes the same outworn vehicle, or is looked on in that way by some people and is passed up. People seem to grapple at every straw in the wind for some other approach, the purpose being, fundamentally, to see whether they could do better in the demands they are making, and others seeing if they could do better by holding back from giving what is being demanded. Therefore, I should like to get the full co-operation, not merely of this House, but of the public, in bringing a sense of responsibility into demands in every direction.
When strikes or industrial disputes take place, when demands are made, some people seem to think there are only two sides: the management and the workers, but the community, a very important section, are also involved and somebody has got to speak for them. If I intervene at any stage to ensure that the institutions available to these people are used, it is on behalf of the community and the economy in general. After all, the community are the most important part of this triangle in the whole question of industrial unrest.
This year I was reluctant to intervene in some of the major disputes which were either pending or had taken place. Many people accused me of being too smug or of being complacent about these matters. It had nothing whatever to do with my feelings. If I did not appear to be jumping in at the deep end, at the wrong time, it was because I thought it was the wrong thing to do, and the Government felt it was the wrong thing to do. I pointed out time and time again in the House that parties to any dispute will always be slow to settle at any level, using the existing institutions, if they feel there is still something left at the other end, a Minister or a Taoiseach who is likely to do better. People who find themselves in a position, due to their own strong negotiating position, due to their position of strength in so far as they can inconvenience a very big section of the public, will make it very difficult for anybody to settle a dispute unless they get the demand they are making.
Before Christmas this year the ESB were involved in a dispute. On that occasion we sought to get them to use every agency available to them to settle it. We found that we had reached complete stalemate. On that occasion I was compelled to invoke my powers under section 24 of the 1946 Act to have the Labour Court make a thorough examination of the whole situation and, if they saw fit, to make a recommendation as well. Those are the powers which are vested in me under that section. They made a thorough examination and a recommendation, which I am very happy to say was accepted at the time by the good sense and wisdom of both sides. Indeed, like many other settlements it went, perhaps, much further than I might have anticipated. It certainly went further than one side to the dispute would have anticipated at the time, but it worked out satisfactorily. It was satisfactory to me in so far as I knew that the proper channels were being used to settle the dispute.
We then had the major upheaval of the cement strike. I was pressed to intervene in it at different stages. I will say this for the two sides in that dispute. Although it went on for a long time, they used all the machinery available to them and eventually they put the final recommendation of the Labour Court to a secret ballot. Some people may argue that it was not all that secret. I do not intend to comment on that. Eventually stalemate was reached, the recommendation was not accepted, and there was nothing left other than for me to bring in both sides and discuss with them the recommendations that were made. We succeeded in getting some modification of the recommendations submitted as a result of our discussions.
I want to pay tribute to the people who finally negotiated with me representing both sides. They went back prepared to recommend it. In fact, it was the last word anyhow. Where we would have got from there I am not now in a position to say. Some action would have had to be taken. These things have to be settled some time. but how, it was not for me to even say, because it was a one-shot effort so far as I was concerned. Those who were negotiating and who met me at the time knew it was, and I was happy that it was reasonable and that it was accepted.
We come now to the bank strike which is the main purpose of my getting up to intervene in this debate in which I did not intend speaking because, in an Adjournment debate, one likes to cover the whole gamut of the economy at least in so far as it affects one's Department or Departments. I do not intend to do that. I have given much serious thought to this dispute since it began. I have been kept informed daily of the happenings or lack of happenings and of the efforts being made by different people and I am more than a little perturbed over the whole progress or evolution of the dispute since it began. At times one would be inclined to weary and despair if one had not infinite patience to persevere and keep on trying, hoping that commonsense and goodwill would prevail and that people would do what would be in the interests of everybody, rather than what would be in the absolute interest of themselves.
That did not happen in this case. If I say things that may seem harsh in regard to the workers' side it is not that I have any brief for the banks. My background does not make for that. I am interested in the workers of the country, not merely in the rates they get, but also in the conditions in which they work, their safety, their environment, their health and particularly the security of their jobs. These are fundamental things in which we must take a deep interest. I am sure that every Member of the House is also interested in these things. There are various grades and sections and there is much to be done in regard to providing the conditions under which we would like them to work. Most important considerations are the security of their jobs, how their redundancy is treated if they become unemployed and their entitlement to it, how we can re-train them and replace them. These are the fundamental things in which the Department of Labour is interested.
On one occasion at Question Time a Deputy on the Fine Gael benches asked: "What is the Minister's Department for if not for settling strikes?" That is not its purpose. We look upon ourselves rather as having the purpose of preventing strikes, but we are more concerned with training personnel for employment which suits their talents and with finding opportunities for placing them in employment, for re-training people who have been displaced, dealing with redundancy and providing the necessary environment so that we shall have a contented work force applying their talents in the direction in which they are best suited. This is a very big undertaking. We have only got round to laying the foundations for it. It is work of very great importance. We must determine the lines on which we shall expand and develop rapidly as time goes on. The foundations have been well and truly laid and we are moving as rapidly as our resources permit.
It is against that background that one finds the intransigent attitude of some people in strikes that last over a prolonged period difficult to understand and it would sometimes make one despair as to the future. There are people who say drastic action should be taken, that it is an emergency, a serious situation. They never come up with any real solution or suggestion regarding what might be done. In the present bank strike we have such a situation. It is really a source of great worry to those of us who had high hopes of possible successful development along the right lines of free, collective bargaining.
I intervened in this strike only when I found that they were refusing to use the machinery available. They had not exhausted all the resources available to them but "if the mountain does not come to Mahomet" somebody must move. Here, I found people who were claiming to be in some way entitled to some special treatment. To me, they are just workers and management and must be treated as such like any other parties in a dispute. As far as I am concerned they are not entitled to special privileges or treatment any more than any other workers who are on strike. When I say on strike, I mean on strike because I do not accept that, when the clever device of taking out a portion of workers in order to force management to a closure is used, that situation should then be regarded as a lock out.
This is a device about which I and the Government would really worry, because it is far too clever. A percentage of workers are withdrawn and this makes the normal carrying on of work impossible and eventually closure must take place. Then to say: "This is not a strike; it is a lock-out" is not accepted. The Labour Court examined that position very thoroughly and impartially. They very definitely came to the decision that the banks could not have continued with the restricted working that was taking place and they had no option but to close. I do not agree in those circumstances that there is a lock-out. We must fight hard against acceptance of this idea. We have had enough trouble in this field without having new devices and gimmicks introduced. This is one that must be discouraged, and not allowed to be seen to succeed.
The other proposition involved here is one that cannot be accepted under any conditions: payment for time on strike. Seeking compensation for time on strike is not "on" and must be seen to be not "on". The Labour Court made a thorough examination of this dispute and came up with what I thought was a very fair set of proposals which I considered for a day-and-a-half.
Is the Minister not now interfering by making these comments?
(Cavan): Great minds think alike.
With all due respect, this occurs to all of us now, that the Minister is coming down on one side. Whether they are right or wrong is another thing.
This may strengthen one side.
I am trying to make my position clear.
I hope for the Minister's sake he will not put his foot in it.
The Minister should be permitted to make his speech without interruption.
The matter about which the Minister is speaking is compensation for the time during which these people were on strike. I do not think it is the Minister's function to purport to adjudicate on that aspect of the dispute.
I am afraid it is. It is narrowed down to that. I was coming to that and I want to develop it. The Labour Court made a very exhaustive, impartial, dispassionate examination of the whole dispute from beginning to end. They came up with what I consider to be a very fine set of proposals which I might or might not have submitted. I did submit them for acceptance to these people. Before the ink was dry, so to speak, before they were submitted to the workers, they were rejected out of hand by one person or a small committee. Immediately I was asked to intervene: "Right. So far as it goes it is good. We have everything now except compensation for being on strike. You must intervene now," the clear implications being: "You intervene and then we will go back." I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not intervening. Negotiations were started at conciliation level with the Joint Industrial Council, which was agreed by the management and the workers within the banking system. When the various processes of negotiation failed I finally got the Labour Court to report on the situation. They made what I thought was an equitable assessment and very fair recommendations. Immediately this is submitted for acceptance, before anyone has time to read it, they say: "If the Minister intervenes we might be able to settle."
This is something new and unprecedented. It is unique in the history of disputes in this country. I thought we had seen everything. I do not think anyone in this House could condone that type of action. I believe the people who are in dispute are entitled to have this at least submitted to them for their consideration without any pressurising, without any comment. We are at a very serious point in the dispute where people look on all the processes of negotiation as being for the purpose of getting a little each time, an accumulator, what the racing people call a roll-up, getting a little more each time. They say: "The Minister will now give us another bit and we shall have got virtually all we have been looking for." I am not sure if I intervened and added something more they would not say: "Now the Taoiseach will come in and give us something extra". This is too naive altogether.
The Minister is putting himself out of court as a mediator.
I am afraid I have. My intention was, when I invoked section 24 of the 1946 Act, that this was the last effort. I was using the machinery which is provided for the settlement of disputes. Furthermore, I believed I was dealing with a section of people, as I said in the House before, who would fully understand the implications involved in this most serious industrial dispute in which the people's money is being held up and in which the progress of the economy is being held up. It is the people and the economy that will ultimately pay.
(Cavan): Their deeds and their wills are being held up.
We are all too painfully aware of the inconvenience involved. I am not being complacent or unperturbed. It is a serious situation and one where I am afraid we have reached an impasse. I want to put it on the record of the House that this type of negotiation is without precedent in this country, and to make a strong plea to the people concerned to get down to giving a decision on the proposals I have submitted to them. I do not think they should be rejected immediately. They were submitted to a small committee while the people concerned have not had an opportunity of deciding on it. I am not intervening and I would hope the recommendations would be submitted to them without any pressure. I would prefer they would be submitted to them with a recommendation for acceptance, because I will say this for the negotiators in the final phases of the cement strike——
The Minister is being contradictory. Now the Minister wants union leaders to make a recommendation of acceptance.
What I am saying——
In one breath he is saying——
The Deputy has already spoken. The Minister should be permitted to make his speech.
Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,
(Cavan): Might I ask the Minister one question?
If the Minister wants to give way, but he must not be interrupted.
(Cavan): Am I right in thinking that both sides to this dispute requested the Minister to intervene?
No, not both sides. One side have accepted the Labour Court recommendations and the other side have rejected them. Deputy Corish has been insinuating that I am putting myself out of court as a mediator. I do not believe in making innuendoes and half saying something for the sake of creating an impression. I want to say exactly what I feel about this and I have been doing that. I prefaced my remarks by saying I hold no brief whatever for the management side of the banks.
Does the Minister think it unreasonable or unusual that one of the provisions in the settlement should be that there should be compensation for loss of income during the time of the strike?
No, I think that——
It has happened.
It may have happened unfortunately but it is one element that I will not ever support.
Indeed, I think the Labour Court in recommending the restoration of the 25 per cent cut in respect of restricted hours went a long way. I noticed, reading the report of the dispute, that it was claimed they worked less than 32½ hours a week. While I would like to see the lower grade workers in any dispute coming out of it well I think this was a particularly fair offer by any comparision. I do not think it is fair either that I have been accused here of saying things that I should not say. I deliberately say them because I do not believe in thinking them and not saying them. It was also said that the concessions made in the offer were being used as an indication that so-and-so was right and so-and-so was wrong, and that is not fair game either. That I do not agree with. If anything is suggested now as a means towards a settlement it should be accepted or rejected. Let it not be said that it is a vindication of what we did and justifies our looking for more. There are elements in this strike that have not crept into any other. So far as I am concerned it is not a strike that requires any VIP treatment. To me it is just a strike between workers and management.
They must be treated in the same way as other people and I think they have already got a very fair assessment of the whole dispute and a remarkable fair offer. I only advise them strongly to go back to work and accept the offer that is made. The offer leaves it open for a lot of loose ends to be cleared up afterwards but I think the important thing is that they should get back to work and play their part in trying to help the economy of this small country which needs the assistance of everybody so much. If we are all to seek to get out of the national cake more than the other fellow has been getting I do not know where we will eventually arrive. As the Taoiseach pointed out in his statement, voluntary restraint is what we would prefer to see. Nobody wants to see any desperate action taken. Sometimes that is suggested to me. What that might be is anybody's guess. I hope that enough good sense is left to ensure that those who are involved, so far as this dispute is concerned, will now decide that the public has had enough of this, the economy has had more than it can take of it and the people who are out on strike are certainly suffering. The sooner they get back the better. I think there is a fair offer available.
I do not want to say anything further. My intervention was mainly to say that. Some people may say that it would be better if I never said it but I want to say without any equivocation these are my feelings with regard to this dispute. I studied the Labour Court recommendations for a day and a half. I was perfectly satisfied that here was something that was as fair as could possibly be submitted to any set of workers. I am most disappointed that it was not accepted.
The Minister thinks it is unusual that workers should seek compensation for loss of income during the period of strike. I do not say this always happens but it has happened on occasions.
It has indeed and they have got it.
Would the Minister think it unusual if manufacturers increased their prices to compensate themselves as a result of the effects of a strike? They have done this on many occasions.
If the Minister does not wish to reply I shall call on Deputy Dr. Byrne.
It is very easy to deal with that though.
I should like to refer, before going on to the wider issues, to the interesting remarks made by the Minister for Labour regarding the bank strike. One thought which immediately comes to mind is that the Minister appears, though he has read this for a day and a half, to have overlooked the Labour Court's recommendation of increased pay retrospective to last December and that this was what the officials of the banks were arguing about. The Labour Court has apparently justified the officials' claims but because the officials were seeking justification of these claims they suffered a lock-out, according to them. Objectively or subjectively they were without pay for some time — whether this was a day, a week or a number of months is, to my mind, immaterial. The fact is that what they were negotiating for, with all the negotiating power at their disposal, was upheld by the Labour Court's decision that they be awarded an increase in pay back to last December. The Minister has not referred to this and I would like him to give his views on this because having listened to the Minister's speech it would appear now that, though the officials have asked the Minister to intervene, the Minister is not now in any position to intervene. It would appear as if he has outruled himself as an unbiassed, independent intermediary. This is a very serious situation into which this dispute has now gone. I do not want to add fuel to the fire. Perhaps the Minister did not wish to give this impression but it would be unfortunate if this impression went out of this House today. The people of Ireland would like to see the Minister still available to intervene in this most serious dispute, which has caused great hardship to businessmen and to people all over the country. It is seriously affecting our economy. It appears to me that the Minister could possibly have been better advised if he had kept his options open in the House today and had not come down heavily on the side of management as would appear from his speech.
All these officials—I am not carrying a torch for anybody—are apparently looking for financial compensation for a time when they were either on strike or locked out. The Labour Court have upheld their claim back to last December. As they would have claimed, because of unusual circumstances which arose in the economy of the country they were faced with having to break whatever agreement they had originally made. I feel it is unfair for the Minister to say that the decision of the Labour Court was rejected out of hand immediately. I do not accept this. I feel that a skilled negotiator on either side would be in a position or should be in a position to weigh up as each offer comes along how this will affect the final result. I feel personally that were the negotiators on each side properly briefed and skilled, as it was discussed—and it was discussed over a fairly long time — they would be in a position to weigh up the pros and cons of any offer which was being made.
It appears to me the Minister should intervene because, following the decision in which the Labour Court intimated that the bank officials' claim was just and that, because of the unusually rapid decrease in the purchasing power of the £ they were entitled to break the previous arrangement before it expired, the Labour Court agreed to the backdated increases As a result of bringing their pay claims to the Labour Court the bank officials were locked out and have suffered financial loss. The financial loss was suffered as a result of claiming a just claim which has since been supported by the Labour Court.
The Minister should ask the Labour Court to clarify this. This has certainly left a big gap. I do not think, as the Minister said, that it is necessary. I also think it is contradictory for the Minister to state it, being a Minister in a Cabinet which so far has rejected all calls to go to the country. He said this was rejected out of hand by one or two people, by a very small committee, on the official side and they did not put it to a vote, implying that if it had been put to a vote there might have been acceptance. It is not so long ago since the Minister's party rejected all the calls to go to the country so that the people could decide who was to govern the country. The democratic procedure was stifled. Now the Minister is alleging that the bank officials who are adopting a course which could be similar to that which the Government adopted——
Would the Deputy mind if——
I would prefer if I clarified my point rather than that the Minister should pick me up on an isolated sentence. If the Minister wishes to allege that I am trying to draw an unfair comparison, I am not. The Minister did infer that it was rejected out of hand by one or two people within hours of the court's decision.
What I want to bring home here is that, apart altogether from the fact that it was not put to the people concerned, there is no analogy at all in what the Deputy is trying to say in regard to the Fianna Fáil Party. They got a decision from the people a year before. What I want to emphasise is that, when proposals are made to settle a dispute, they contain certain elements which are calculated to appease the people concerned. To use those proposals as a justification for getting more is never done. That is what was happening in this case. My proposals were taken as a justification for saying: "Now, we were right all along. That proves we were right and now we must get more". That is what I object to.
I thank the Minister for clarifying that point. I should like to refer again to the Labour Court's decision in which they backdated the increase to December, 1969. The bank officials suffered a lock-out and a loss of pay. Many of them are young married men with children and all the other commitments which are associated with the white collar worker today. The court backdated the pay to December, 1969, which was what they went for in the first place. The same thing could happen in two years' time. It will not happen under a Fine Gael Government in two years' time, there is no doubt about that. We would not allow it to happen.
It could happen every year if people are going to be paid twice.
If each time a group of people feel their agreement with the management has been broken, that their claim for just arbitration is ignored and they are locked out, although it is proved by the Labour Court that their claim was justified, is it right that they should have to suffer financial hardship because of this? I do not accept that.
This is not the only unusual case we have had. We have had parades up and down the country, for the first time in the history of the country, by the vocational professions. Nurses were parading in an effort to get a living wage. The cost of bedsitters in Dublin and in other towns has gone far beyond the means of nurses. Is it unjust that they should have to go out with banners, the members of this great profession of which we are so proud? Surely there has been a lessening of the appreciation we had of this wonderful nursing profession. Not so long ago, and also for the first time in our history, the arbitration for dispensary doctors was thrown out by other Ministers and they carried out a work-to-rule. More recently we had the tragic affair of young men who had spent six or seven years in the university handing in their resignations all over the country because they were not getting sufficient money, not to live in luxury but sufficient money whereby they could live and buy the ordinary necessaries of life. They were not looking for anything fantastic.
But for their great vocation we would have had a strike among nurses. We had a partial strike among dispensary doctors and we had mass resignations from junior hospital doctors. Then we had the lock-out of the bank officials. It is not so long ago since the great professions were nursing, medicine and a good job in the bank. What has happened? Bank officials are emigrating, leaving their wives and families at home so that they can work in England. Some of them are working in pea factories. Their claim has been upheld by the Labour Court, yet they have had to lose money in order to get the court to uphold their claim. But the Minister thinks they were hasty in rejecting the recommendation. The Minister should intervene. I am not carrying a torch for these people but I do not like to see people out of pocket after they have had their case proven by the Labour Court.
The Deputy would be doing them a better service if he said the other thing. He is only playing politics now.
I am not. I am merely saying that the Minister should have kept his options open and not come down heavily on the management side because it is alienating the bank officials. I think the Minister might not now be accepted as an impartial mediator, which is unfortunate. I do not know if the Minister has ever had to work in pea factories in England but there are many here in this House who had to serve tough apprenticeships. I do not like to see married men having to emigrate and to return to a type of work which might have been acceptable to them as students. We all did not have protected lives. Some of us have had to work in factories abroad in order to subsidise education for certain degrees. It is not so long ago since the Taoiseach said to a Member of the Labour Party that he would not know what poverty was. At one stage the Taoiseach may have experienced poverty but he has long since forgotten what it is like.
No effort is made by this Fianna Fáil Government to alleviate the sufferings of the lower income groups, that section of our community which is increasing all the time. We have here the highest percentage of aged as compared with the rest of Europe. We have the highest percentage of mentally handicapped and psychiatric patients in Europe, if not in the world. Our mentally handicapped will increase in numbers because we have the largest number of children per family unit in Europe and, as the number of children increases, so does the number of mentally handicapped. This great socialist republican Fianna Fáil Party have long since forgotten what it is to be poor and, worse still, have long since forgotten what republican means.
The Taoiseach in his speech said there was no invader and he apologised to the members of the British Army for the inconvenience caused to them by their being away from their own homes during this month. Where now, is the socialism and the republicanism? Look at the state of this capital city of ours, particularly since 1965 when Dublin started to expand very rapidly. Both the air and the waters are polluted. Life in many parts of Dublin is quite difficult. Look at "Blaney Heights"—the seven-tower wonder of the world. We know how unbearable life can be in the conditions there, conditions created by a Fianna Fáil Government.
Recently a special edition of a magazine carried on its cover the word "Pollution" and, when on turned the page, one was faced with a most attractive advertisement for some brand of cigarettes. Have we got our priorities right? I do not think we have. We advertise alcohol and cigarettes on all our mass media of communication. We have 70,000 alcoholics, 10 per cent of whom are in need of institutional care at some stage.
The old advertisement "Guinness is good for you" was all right. It is the modern advertising that is so objectionable. We see the young tycoon with the large brandy in one hand and the cigar in the other giving the impression that material success goes hand in hand with these two great hazards to health. It is time the lackeys on the other side of the House tried to get their ministers, who have apparently gone into hibernation, to make some move to curb these evils. Alcoholism is on the increase. It is alleged that the lives of on average 16 people are affected by just one alcoholic. This is a parlous situation. Yet the Minister responsible does nothing about it. In the USA an alcoholic is advised to have medical treatment. Here he is treated as an outcast. These people can be rehabilitated. It is known that these people are generally highly intelligent. I have had experience of one particular case, a member of the first Judo club in the Garda Síochána, the winner of a black belt, who was wonderful at his job. He had a wife and children and a very good home. He fell foul of his employers because of drink and he was dismissed. He was diagnosed as suffering from chronic alcoholism. Is it right that he and thousands like him should be treated as rejects of society? People who contract tuberculosis and are treated for that disease are not rejected.
Alcoholism is one of the greatest afflictions in our society but it is not accepted by State bodies and industry as a disease; it is regarded as something akin to the plague. I would appeal to the Taoiseach to take steps to ensure that there is greater understanding of this problem. It is receiving attention in the medical departments in every country.
Reference was made earlier to the vast increase in the number of elderly people in this country. In many cases they just go staggering from feeding place to resting place, waiting to die. We have seen the slovenly conditions in which they live, the county homes and the psychiatric homes that are overflowing with these people.
The greatest evil besetting this country is the problem of drug addiction. This is the most ominous threat which our community has had to face in the past 30 years. Unfortunately, we have the most lethargic of groups in Fianna Fáil attempting to come to grips with this problem. The drug squad of four policemen has now been increased to seven but, because they work shorter hours, the effective working force of the squad is still four members. What can four specially-trained men do to combat this problem? It is a problem not only in Dublin but in Cork, Waterford, Limerick and other areas. People tell urban Deputies that drugs come in crates through the port of Dublin but no real effort is made to stop this traffic.
We have seen recently the sacrilegious abuses that have occurred in some of our finest churches. The church of Our Lady of Victories at Ballymun—one of the finest churches in the country—was ransacked, the safe was broken open and money was stolen. We know that in the Pro-Cathedral people played cards on the altar after breaking open the collection boxes. This is what drugs are doing to our youth. It is a big step away from vandalism. I draw a line between drugs and drink because, while a drunkard or an alcoholic will rob in order to obtain money for drink, the drug addict will kill. The crimes I have just described were committed by people who were crazed with drugs.
Deputy Lemass and myself and others who visit the working class areas have met constituents who tell us how easy it is to get a wide variety of drugs. The Government must take special action to deal with this problem. While this problem is in its infancy in this country it would not be unwise for us to consider imposing severe penalties on people who are found to be drug pushers. Those drug pushers, very often not addicts themselves, are fully aware of the consequences of their actions. They know the hardship that is caused and the rapid death that is suffered by addicts. If those pushers are apprehended by the law they should be punished as severely as the State can punish them.
Up to a few weeks ago a drug pusher could sell LSD in the public houses and cafes of Dublin and could not be arrested for having this drug in his possession or for selling it. We must adopt an extreme approach in this matter and set an example for the world. I feel very strongly about this matter because I have witnessed teenagers near death as a result of drug addiction. I should like to see the Government giving consideration to the introduction of the death penalty for drug pushers who are not themselves drug addicts. A pusher, who is also an addict, needs rehabilitation and can be treated as a psychiatric patient but the pusher, who is not an addict, is a murderer. He does not murder just one person or half a dozen people but is the potential murderer of thousands of youths in our country. In this House it is our job to make this country a decent place in which to live and it is time the Government got their priorities in order and attacked the problems that exist. They should learn from the experience of other countries and see how their societies have become undermined by drugs, general permissiveness, literature and lack of censorship.
I should like to see the Government adopt a policy and not merely close the door after the horse has bolted. Unless the problems are tackled firmly and strenuously the result will be chaos. The drug addict who dies is, in some ways, fortunate. What happens to those who are diseased for the rest of their lives? What about the increase in the diseases associated with drug taking; the illegitimate births, the disease of tuberculosis and the psychiatric diseases? In spite of all this the Government have only got four men on duty to combat the problem of drug addiction.
It is well that people who come from the more protected rural areas can be unaware of this problem but this problem exists in the cities and in other urban areas. It is not confined to Dublin city, as is the drug squad. The problem is widespread throughout the urban areas and it will spread throughout the rural areas. The Government should attack this problem. They have proved that they can act in other things which benefit themselves but apparently they are unaware of what is necessary for the people. A man or a young boy in the city can go along with mock psychiatric complaints to about 12 hospitals—there are 75 hospitals in the whole city and county administrative area—and get a repeat and a repeat of the prescription if he is well briefed on how to do it, as many people are. The problem is now ready to explode. Fianna Fáil know what explosions are like, particularly explosions in their faces.
Furthermore, there are not sufficient facilities for people to burn up their energy. About 50 or 100 years ago people worked 70 hours a week and their average life span was 40 years. Now, their average life span is 70 years and they are working an average of 40 hours a week. How are they spending their leisure time? If the middle-aged are spending their leisure time in pubs, how are the teenagers spending their leisure time? Over the past ten years there has been no organised recreational planning by the Government. The pathetic £100,000 which is given to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education is more in the line of an insult than an indication of a sincere desire to try to combat this situation.
There is no point in the Fianna Fáil Party's thinking they can hoodwink the public into believing they are magnificent republicans. The flash visit by the Minister for External Affairs to Belfast when he stuck out his chest for a couple of hours and walked around a few streets there bears no comparison to what Labour Party Deputies and Fine Gael Deputies were doing when times were rough and when the bullets were flying. The Minister for External Affairs came back here and reported that he had spoken with a number of people who were of the opinion that things were not going too well up there. This type of con man effort is no longer going down with the Irish people.
I want to see social welfare benefits increased for the needy sections of the population but neither this Government nor any Government should try to buy patriotism purely by coaxing people in this manner. The sooner that party over there cease to believe they have the monopoly of patriots in this country, the better it will be because this party here and the Labour Party over there have their share of patriots.
I wish to voice a protest on behalf of the Garda and the Army against the unfortunate way in which their increases have been introduced; the unfortunate way in which overtime was denied to the detectives; the unfortunate way in which gardaí were apparently discouraged from overtime when off duty. We are heading for economic disaster. The 2½ per cent increase in turnover tax in the last Budget has put the kybosh on everything. We are really there. We are on the slippery slope of inflation. Our last hope possibly is a prolongation of the bank strike. This could have some effect. The British dock strike is now ending and we shall see the margin expanding between our exports and imports from Britain. We are now in dire trouble and we are not taking the proper steps to get out of it. Certainly the purely political Budget introduced some time ago was no help in this regard. Whatever steps are necessary and have been advised to the Government should be taken without delay.
The past year will go down in history as one of the most turbulent, if not the most turbulent, in the political life of this country. It is not easy to assess the various causes for it. The inflationary trends were brought about by the fact that much too much money is in the hands of certain sections of our people and that has created purchasing power and the expenditure of money on goods, which are not always produced in this country. I have repeatedly said that the Labour Party, with its great trade union backing, could help considerably here. Deputy Keating implied that Fianna Fáil is dishonest. He spoke of the inaction of Fianna Fáil. How blind can a person be when he does not want to see? This is particularly the case of Deputy Keating in his utterances here today. All too often I have found throughout the country but particularly in Dublin that when one asks in shops for Irish manufactured goods the shops have not got them in stock. We have Irish labour, trade union labour, stating across the counter, that those materials are not stocked. This is a disgraceful situation.
It is a disastrous state of affairs when people, who are highly paid in their own right, can ignore the rights of other people, even of members of their own trade unions working in other parts of the country. Members of their trade unions here in Dublin could help them by putting their goods on the counter. One of the first duties of the Labour Party here is to develop that spirit. We have heard all too often that £1 more spent by each housewife on Irish goods would reduce our commitments abroad and give work to so many more thousands of Irish workers. Still, this is continually ignored for one reason or another. The shameful part trade unionism is playing in the development of our own resources will go down in history. The poorer section of the community and the people on the west coast need all the help that can be given to them in these difficult times.
Deputy Clinton remarked that the country was without leadership and that that was the cause of our troubles. I would go along with him to a certain extent but not to the point he is aiming at. Every effort has been made from the Fianna Fáil side and, indeed, by the Taoiseach to try to lead the country on the proper track, towards the development of all our resources and towards the provision of jobs for our people here. All too often the people on the far side of the House spend their time decrying every effort made. This is where leadership should spring from. It should spring from within the body of this Chamber. This leadership should be backed by all sections of the House. This is the only way we can have real leadership where the nation is concerned. This does not happen.
I have listened to the people on the far side of the House decrying the Government and the Ministers concerned for not bringing the cement strike to an end. The only way it could be brought to an end would be by giving in to the demands. If that policy were followed, if the Government intervened in every strike—and this is what the people across the floor of the House evidently want—we would reach a stage where we would bring to a stop the momentum we have achieved in the development of our economy. The only straight course to be adopted would be authority backed up by all parties to deal with strikes and the strike trouble that is enveloping the nation. We seem to be continuously in and out of strikes, with increasing costs making it impossible for our products to be sold on foreign markets. This is a very serious position, indeed, and it must be corrected. It cannot be corrected at the moment. The strike must be left to wear itself out. The people opposite are not prepared to face up to the responsibility of trying to help to guide the nation's efforts along a really productive path and to help all sections of our people.
References were made from the Labour benches to the difficulties our farmers will have to face up to when we enter the Common Market. This has been referred to time and time again in this House. I have stated previously that I spent two years in Europe. I believe that the greatest opportunities will be available to us in this European market. It has been said that only the very big farmers, the farmers with large tracts of land, can survive in Europe. This is a point of view with which I have never agreed. By and large I failed to find that there are large numbers of big farmers in Europe. The Belgians and the Dutch are very small farmers. The German farmers are small farmers with the exception of some very big estates which are owned by the overlords there. Usually they are not fertile estates. They grow trees on the more barren soil. The small farmers in Germany are not any bigger than most of our farmers.
I believe our farmers will be able to hold their own against any competition that may arise in Europe. I have said here before that we have assets no European country has. We have an abundance of grassland which can be developed to help to produce beef on the hoof. This is the cheapest method of producing it. The European farmers have to house their animals all the time because of the severe winter frost and snow and the great heat in the summer. Therefore everything has to be grown and they have to be hand fed.
I have used every means in my power to nail this idea that is put around our country that our farmers have no chance of competing with the people who make up the Common Market. The Danes are not afraid of it, nor are the Belgians and the Dutch. Their farms are no larger than our own, and in many cases they are smaller. Our people have the energy and the ability to compete with the best. I should like to see every party in this House backing that idea. This is the way I think things will shape. Our smaller farmers with their tidy farms and their method of farmyard production will be in a position to stand up to any competition they will have to face in Europe.
Deputy Byrne commented that no effort was being made by Fianna Fáil to help the rural section of our people. The next moment he said that the great social Fianna Fáil Party do not know what socialism means. He said we were not helping the people in the rural areas and the next moment he referred to the great social Fianna Fáil Party. It is quite true that Fianna Fáil have always been the social party in this country and the votes of the people up and down the country have consistently upheld that point of view.
We have heard members of the Opposition say that the Government should get out; that they have not the confidence of the people. All too often we have heard that said but when we have been out we have been put in again. No doubt if we go out tomorrow morning or in two years time or at the end of the term we shall be put back again as we always have been.
I think the Deputy is out of touch.
I am very much in touch with the people and I know that this is the position and, for the benefit of the Opposition, let me say that we as a party shall run the length of the term. That is how we see it and how it will be and that can be accepted by the Opposition.
The northern problem is the most difficult one we face. There are many lines of thought about it and about the action that should be taken. One thing is definite; it is not the intention of anybody in the country or in this House to bring about a position where we would have to attack the people in the north. There is no reason why we should do that. They are our own people irrespective of their religion or frame of mind. This does not mean that we should abandon any type of pressure we can use on the British Government and the British forces to get out of our country. I think this is where the views emanating from this House have gone astray. We have stated consistently that we are not to attack the north and this is a quite acceptable view—but, having clarified this, it behoves each one of us to use every means we possibly can to impress on Britain and the world that Britain must hand over the position which she is trying to control here and of which she is making such a mess.
Contrary to the views held by Deputy Clinton that the British Conservative and Labour Parties are sick of the north and what is going on there and are very anxious to hand it over, this is not the impression I got in my two years there. I am convinced that the British, with their imperialistic outlook and ideas of empire, will hold on to the last breath to this part of the north because the people who carried on the fight in 1916 put the first crack in their great empire. The men who died for what we have today showed the way to the other countries. I think she also has the view that, while she holds the north she holds what in her insular way she still regards as an empire of a kind. If, at any stage, she agreed to relinquish the north she would be in trouble with Wales and Scotland. She is well aware of this and it is one of the reasons why she will never relinquish control until we can exert sufficient pressure. I think we should be trying to do this every day in every forum in the world from this House and from every crossroads where possible. We must maintain the type of pressure that will make it not worth while for Britain to continue subsidising the position in the north and causing trouble underneath. This is something we must recognise in this House because it is what many people in the country think. Many of them feel that not enough pressure is being exerted on Britain in regard to the north.
The recent efforts by this infamous Scots regiment that had been pushed out of Germany because of two or three incidents there and put into Belfast should make clear to our people what we are faced with in the north. Yesterday or the day before a colonel with a Saracen armoured car and a large number of troops surrounded a priest's house—another indication of the British attitude. Surely the idea of sending armour and troops of that kind to the house of a clergyman was unnecessary and it bespeaks the thinking of the various British governments. Their efforts last year in sending gunboats up the Caribbean to attack a defenceless people, not even a nation, is a further indication of their thinking which survives from 50 or 100 years ago and which is being applied to Northern Ireland.
The entire efforts of the House should be directed towards organising a trend of thought in this country that all sections and types of people must adopt the aim of impressing on the world and on Britain that we can no longer tolerate this position in Northern Ireland. We cannot tolerate attacks on our unarmed and helpless people whether in the Bogside, Belfast, Newry or Armagh. I was, I think, the first Deputy of this House to get into the north when the civil rights marches were on and I saw the intense feeling that prevailed there.
I want to make clear again that in anything I say I am not suggesting the use of force. This would get us nowhere. We do not want it, but we want to see everything the British Empire stands for removed from every inch of our soil because when one reads the Proclamation of 1916 in the hall here and studies it one realises what was in the souls of the men whose busts surround us in this Chamber pointing out the course we should take and the aims we should project from here.
Personally, I think we are not putting across the ideals of those men to our own people and if we continue as we are, trying to placate the British by our expressions here, we are letting down the ideals for which those men died and we might as well turn their faces to the wall. This is not, I think, what the Irish people want us to do but they need the lead that should be given by all sections of the House towards the solution of this problem which has created so much strife and so much confused thinking among our own people. I hope when this time next year comes around and we are again facing the long recess this problem will be seen in a clearer light and that we shall be well on the road towards having this problem solved and better times for our people. Inflation has been enveloping us and if it is allowed to go on it could cripple the nation. We have a vast programme of development. Our exports have increased reasonably and will increase much more in the coming year if we can keep prices down.
Our tourist trade has suffered not, as so many seem to think, as a result of the troubles that have arisen recently, but because of prices. I have met many British people and they have complained of the charges made here, particularly for drinks. Most Britishers book their three weeks' holiday as a package deal: they have paid for it before they come and they are satisfied at that stage. It is the £30 or the £50 spent over and above that which, they complain they do not get value. One Englishman told me he paid 3s 4d for a Guinness in different places in my county and that he could get the same pint in Mooney's of the Strand in London for 2s 9d. I think it requires our united efforts, including an effort by the Government, to reduce drink prices and to get the different bars and lounges to co-operate in this regard.
There are, however, places in Kerry, such as Knocknagoshel and Castleisland where drinks are more reasonable. I have heard some of our members who attended a football match in Askeaton saying they could get a pint there for 2s 8d. If a pint can be had for 2s 8d in these places there is something wrong if 3s or 3s 2d is charged in other areas. This is what is murdering our tourist trade. The men who frequent the public houses here are the same men who go to public houses in Britain and they can spread this disastrous news—if I may use the term in this context — far and wide to the detriment of our economy and our tourist trade. Something should be done to remedy the situation.
Finally, I should like to ask particularly the Labour Party to use every effort to ensure that the trade unionists they represent would encourage the sale of Irish goods. This should not be a difficult job but here in Dublin there are some shops where Irish goods cannot be bought. Seven or eight years ago there was great publicity about this and many shops in Grafton street had a notice to the effect that the most discerning Deputies in Dáil Éireann could get Irish goods in their shops. It was one shop which was responsible for this, but then some shops——
I must call on Deputy Tully to conclude for the Labour party.
I make that appeal to the Labour benches.
To answer the comment made by Deputy O'Connor about the necessity to impress on trade unionists that they should sell only Irish goods, might I remind him that the trade unionists working in the shops have no choice in the type of goods they sell. He and his friends in the Fianna Fáil Party should speak to the capitalist-owners of these shops and ask them not to take advantage of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement which his party signed a few years ago and which is operating so well that it is now almost impossible to buy Irish goods, particularly articles of clothing and footwear, in this city or in many other parts of the country. The reason is that, as the tariffs dropped and British goods became cheaper, the owners of the shops took advantage of the extra profit they could reap, and there is nothing trade unionists can do about it. I quite agree with Deputy O'Connor it is a shameful thing that people in this country, in order to save a few shillings, are buying non-Irish goods in preference to better-class Irish goods. It is not the trade unionists' fault, it is the fault of those who stock the shops.
May I correct the Deputy? I did not mean that they should sell Irish goods exclusively but that Irish goods be available as well.
Irish goods are available, but the instructions given by the owners of the shops is that the goods on which the bigger profit can be made are the ones to be put up first to the customer, as Deputy O'Connor will find if he checks in the shops in the city.
My point is——
I thank the Deputy very much for his help but I would prefer to use my three-quarters-of-an-hour in my own way.
Let me make one observation about Dublin. Most of the shops are not Irish shops. That is the difference.
Again this is due to the policy of the Government who have allowed a complete sell-out to the foreign firms.
Would Deputies allow Deputy Tully to make his speech without interruption?
I have been put off what I intended to say but I am sure I shall catch up on it. The Taoiseach, when he opened this debate on Tuesday evening, said he intended to deal with three major points which he felt were of interest to the country and should be dealt with. He dealt with them, as he said, not in any particular order but just as they came to his mind: inflation, industrial relations and the Six Counties, which I think he called Northern Ireland. I do not have to remind him that the most northern part of Northern Ireland is in the Republic and if he wants to refer to the Six Counties as Northern Ireland he might refer to that as the Six North Eastern Counties: they are certainly not Northern Ireland.
As far as inflation is concerned, he seemed to forget that inflation has been in the main caused by the action of the Fianna Fáil Government, or has he forgotten the Budget of a short time ago which induced rapid inflation here because of the way in which prices rocketed, and therefore wages had to go up after prices? I was amused to hear the Minister for Finance talking about inflation and the way it should be dealt with, he having just recently vacated the position of Minister for Industry and Commerce on whose shoulders rested the obligation to keep down prices but who made no effort to do so. Then he came along into Finance and he now wants the assistance of the Taoiseach, the Minister for Transport and Power, Deputy Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Labour, Deputy Joe Brennan, and one or two other Ministers to lecture the workers of this country on the necessity to refrain from looking for higher wages because it will affect the economy of the country. Surely the first thing that must be done is that somebody must make an effort to keep prices at a reasonable level. If this Government will not do it, somebody else will. It is obvious from what has been said here that a build-up has occurred now to try to give the impression that the inflation which we all know is rampant in the country has been caused by trade unionists looking for more wages than they were entitled to. Surely it is obvious that the reason why they looked for higher wages was that they could not live on the wages they were getting. The standard of wages in this country has been too low.
Last year Deputy Haughey, then Minister for Finance, attempted to do something which was subsequently destroyed by others. He attempted to bring in an increase in wages for lower paid workers. People who could by no means be called lower paid workers, and, indeed, they might not be called workers if we were very strict about it, insisted on getting the same amount of interim increase which was used to bring the lower paid workers up so that they would have more in their pockets. Instead of the gap narrowing last year it, in fact, widened because while the lower paid workers got an increase of £1 5s from June and £1 from October, a 4 per cent increase was given to a large number of very well paid people with the result that they got £3, £4 and £5 a week. This is the nonsense that is going on and, of course, the ordinary workers are blamed for what happens and everybody, at least everybody who is a Fianna Fáil supporter, says that the workers are destroying the economy and pricing us out of the market by looking for too much money.
An example of this was the strike which occurred in Cement Ltd. This strike, whether we agree with it or not, contained one important factor. These people felt they were being badly paid, they were working for a firm that was making a hefty profit. After a very lengthy dispute an increase was granted. Cement Ltd., despite the Taoiseach's earlier statement that he would limit increases in prices to 7 per cent, succeeded in tricking the Government in such a way that they agreed to a higher rate and the result was that Cement Ltd., having got an increase of 15s per ton earlier in the year, got a further 16/- after the strike. If anybody wants to know who got most out of the cement strike, the answer is Cement Ltd. They got more out of it than the people who were on strike for weeks.
Now we have the bank strike and the Minister for Labour here this evening spoke about the ridiculous situation of these fellows and girls who are working in the banks not accepting a recommendation from the Labour Court; it should be accepted; it was a good offer and he most certainly would not come in to try to settle it. Let me say to the House that the Minister for Labour will swallow those words before the bank strike is settled because eventually I believe he must come in one it and if he insists that the strike which, in effect, was a lock-out is going to be settled, there must be compensation for those who were locked out and if there is not going to be compensation for the workers it is surely reasonable to ask that no interest will be charged by the banks for the services which they did not give. They cannot have it both ways. They did the last time charge interest on overdrafts, on cheques which were cashed during the period, just the same as if the banks had been opened and they got away with it.
And they got interest on investment.
They had invested money that could not be drawn from the banks and made sure they had invested it well and now they think they will do the same again. If they say the workers are not entitled to be paid for the period that they, the employers, locked them out, then they should not charge interest on the money which is locked up.
We have heard much about an incomes policy. When members of Fianna Fáil talk about an incomes policy they talk about it as if it was a wage standstill. They say that if we are to tie prices we must tie wages. What about profits and dividends? Surely they must understand that the cost of putting up articles contains, as well as an element for wages, an element for profits. It does not matter whether people use the trick of doubling the share capital, whether they pay it out of the dividend or any other way, the Government must understand that they cannot allow wealthy people who are investing in firms to continue to draw high rates while the workers have their wages tied at a relatively low scale. One hears people saying that extra money given in wages causes a lot of trouble in many ways including an increase in the external adverse trade balance as if every worker who got £2 10s a week increase went out and bought a Mercedes or some foreign piece of machinery. They must know that the people who are doing that are not the workers. The increase they have got has in many cases been spent. Their wives and their children need the money in order to live as well as they did last year. It is ridiculous to suggest that we can have an incomes policy simply by tying wages and nothing else. If there is to be an incomes policy we want to know whether professional fees, profits and so on, are going to be tied as well as wages.
One of the troubles with this Government is that they have no policy whatever on inflation, on incomes, on finance of any kind. They are trundling along from day to day. If they have no policy, how do they expect the country to follow the lead which they are not giving? It was interesting to read the report of the Central Bank. Some of it seems to be pretty accurate; some of it is just wishful thinking. They admit that the drop in the adverse trade balance is due to a certain extent to the cement strike, that the money was not there, the workers had not got it. They also grudgingly admit that there is slight inflation caused by the bank strike. Do we not know that because of the cement strike not only the cement workers but many of the building workers of this country had not enough money to buy what they needed to feed their families for a period? Is it not true that people who have no money are now living in the lap of luxury because of the bank strike?
Is it not true that money is being spent right, left and centre, not by the people affected by the cement strike but by a different type who are, in fact, causing the inflation? A different type of people are living high and the reckoning will be a pretty grim one when the bank strike is over. If the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance want to do something about this crisis, they should not wait until the 28th October when we can discuss this matter again. They should try to bring it to an end now. It must be ended some time and, if they cannot do it, I do not know how it is going to finish up.
We have heard a lot of talk about the trouble caused by strikes over the past few years and particularly in the past 12 months. The theme now seems to be that the trade unions had better do something "or else." I do not know how far the Government want to go with this but when they talk about the number of man days lost as a result of strikes let them pause and look at the number of man days lost by people who could not get jobs. They will find that the strikes, whether they are official or unofficial, are not the biggest curse of the country but the Government who have failed in their responsibility to provide employment for those who need it.
I was appalled a few weeks ago to hear the Minister for Labour talking about the necessity to bring back from Britain people who would be required here for industry. When I asked him why he could not try to put some of the 60,000 people who are unemployed into these jobs, his reply was that they would not be suitable for the jobs, that they would not be suitable for training for them. In other words, he was saying that we have 60,000 unemployables. We have 60,000 people who have not got jobs because they are not fit for jobs. Yet we hear this talk about "come back to Erin", bring back people from Britain to jobs that are supposed to be here. The Government should wake up to reality. The position is that they just do not know what is going on and, perhaps, I cannot blame them because they have been interested in other things and they have not got the time to look at mundane matters such as some 60,000 people out of jobs.
The question of prices has been raised here and whether they had gone up as much here as they had elsewhere. I have a small table here from which I will quote and leave it at that. Between 1963 and 1969 consumer prices have gone up in this country by 35 per cent; in Belgium by 26 per cent; in France by 26 per cent; Germany by 16 per cent; Norway by 28 per cent and in the United Kingdom by 30 per cent. Perhaps the Taoiseach might like to explain why this has happened.
We heard rumours about remedial measures that are to be taken to prevent inflation from getting worse. In his opening address the Taoiseach devoted quite some time to this matter. When the Finance Bill was being discussed I asked the Minister for Finance if he proposed to change the system of taxation and, if he did, in what way he proposed to do it. Did he propose to impose the added value tax and if he did was it going to be in substitution for the taxes we have already, the turnover tax and the wholesale tax, or was there some other suggestion? He said that they were just thinking about it. It had been mentioned in the Budget and it would probably be introduced some time next year if they could work it out, but they were very vague about it and he could not tell me very much. Eventually, he told me that he thought it would be in substitution for the two taxes I have mentioned.
I was rather surprised to find, a couple of days later, that he could go into great detail in the other House about how the added value tax would operate, the fact that it was going to operate, the date on which it was going to operate, and all the trimmings. Was it because the Minister felt that the ladies and gentlemen in the other House would treat him more gently than the people here, or what was the reason that we did not get the details here? I suggest it was a gross discourtesy on his part to allow the Finance Bill to pass through the House without giving us the details which he had and which he denied he had. This, of course, is the sort of thing to which we have become accustomed. At least it was mentioned in the Seanad. Usually, as a previous Member used say, such things would be announced at some dog fight or dinner.
The Taoiseach may also be able to answer another question. On today's Order Paper Deputy Dr. O'Donovan was told that our gold reserves were transferred. They had been £28,236,000 12 months ago and are now £303,000. There was some suggestion that £11 million was still available in some way or other, but it does now appear as if, as somebody said recently, gold is no longer of any use and we must get rid of it before it goes out of date.
A number of questions were asked here and a number of statements made by Ministers and others about the Six Counties. This is such an important matter that I must comment on it. The reason I want to comment is that I heard two former Ministers making statements here and I should be glad to hear the Taoiseach answering some of the very pertinent questions they put. I do not want to transgress the Chair's rulings and I know that the Chair will call me to order if I start talking about court cases or of High Court judges so I will have to skate around the edges. It is true that we did have what we call a crisis and what the Fianna Fáil Party call a slight dispute in the Government party some months ago. As a result, one Minister resigned, one Parliamentary Secretary resigned and two Ministers were removed from office in, as one of the ex-Ministers said, the small hours of the morning, in a hurried rush to the Park.
Subsequently the court decided that the reason the Taoiseach gave for having one of the Ministers dismissed was incorrect and the Deputy is a free man and came in here yesterday and spoke, as he had a right to do. One of the other Ministers also addressed the House this morning. They appear to be in this position that Fianna Fáil, who down through the years have claimed that there was no danger at any time of a split in the party, have now reached the stage where the party seems to be split from stem to stern.
If anybody wants to know whether or not the party is split, all he has to do is sit in this House and count those who speak in the House and those who do not. We hope that it is not the House for which they have the contempt but they do have the contempt for somebody because 11 or 12, or, perhaps, 13 would be a better figure, of those people who have refrained from taking part in the deliberations of the Dáil for quite some time. Some country Deputies will probably know that in the spring of the year when the cuckoo arrives he usually flies around with a small bird in tow, just a few yards away from him. That bird is always with him for some extraordinary reason. In this House we have had the phenomenon since this dispute started, of having one, two or three ex-Ministers floating around the House, as they are entitled to do, with a number of rather large birds fairly close beside them. I do not know whether they keep their hands in their pockets because bodyguards do, whether they are determined to ensure that nobody attacks their favourite sons while they are around, but the situation has become so laughable now that one never finds one of these but the other is sure to be there. In fact, if one is going through a narrow doorway, one must wait until the procession passes through, right round and round the House and out on the lawn where, someone said today, the Letterkenny Parliament meets regularly unless the aeroplanes make too much noise. Apparently aircraft disturb the proceedings.
How, in the name of all that is good and holy, can the Tánaiste insist that this is a united party? On television, here and elsewhere the Tánaiste keeps on insisting on the unity of the party. How we can have unity in a party. when these people will not even sit in the same benches with front bench members of the Government is something that puzzles me. The situation has, in fact, now reached the stage at which two of them came in here last night and today and attacked the Government and Government policy roundly. One of them today—I suppose because of the fact that he is not in the habit of using bad language— did not use bad language; but for that, he would have called the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste some very rude names indeed, particularly the Tánaiste whose television appearance he described in such lurid terms, tearing to rags, to very tatters, what he is supposed to have said or not said on that occasion.
How can we have a Government in whom, according to themselves, the people can repose confidence when, at the same time, we have almost half those elected at daggers drawn, to say nothing of the architect-in-chief of the Party's victory; I refer to Deputy Kevin Boland who so gerrymandered constituencies, with the connivance of the Taoiseach and other Ministers, that they achieved the impossible and had a Fianna Fáil Government returned here again. These people are now condemning the Government openly in this House. God knows what they say about them outside it. This is the ludicrous situation we have, with people standing up in the Fianna Fáil benches saying Fianna Fáil is a united party, and never more united than they are now. If that is the case then there must have been some really terrible rows in Fianna Fáil in the past.
You have the Taoiseach making statements about the north. He made one on television just before 12th July. I have no objection at all to listening to someone making a statement provided I consider the statement will do some good, but when I sat down before the television set and heard the Taoiseach sanely and soberly addressing the British Government through a television station that does not reach much further than Drogheda, and certainly does not go across the Irish Sea, I thought it was just too silly for words. Might I suggest to the Taoiseach that, if he is really serious about getting across to the people in the Six Counties what we think about them and how we operate, a few extra kilowatts of power in the station, which would beam up a little further to the north, might do a very good job? Maybe then he could talk to our separated brethren.
As things stand it is all a little foolish unless he knew, as he did, that the morning newspapers and the radio would carry a report of everything he said. That is the process now: get it on television and, no matter how stupid it is, it will get the headlines the next day. We had the Taoiseach for the sixth time—I kept the count— coming along and saying what his idea was as to how we should settle the problem of the Six Counties, this north/south problem. The only thing wrong was that, with the exception of a few similarities, all the statements were different. All had new ideas. The really extraordinary thing is that the Taoiseach apparently feels that, if he makes a statement, all he need do then is sit back; he does not have to follow it up or suggest how things should operate. Make a statement, have it widely publicised, sit back and everybody should be happy. If he waits to solve the problem of the Border in that way he will wait a very long time.
Deputy O'Connor talked about being the first man into the north after the row. I come much closer to the Border than Deputy O'Connor does. I have been backwards and forwards through the north as often, or oftener, than a great many people here, with the exception of one or two from Donegal. If we want to solve the problem of the Border the first thing we must realise is that the Six Counties of north eastern Ireland are at present an embarrassment to the British Government.
They are held only because successive British Governments have got the idea that they just cannot let down these people who have shown their love for Britain over the years. But the people there do not love Britain. The Orangemen in the north no more want Britain than we do. They only want here money and they know darn well that we in the south have never put forward any kind of policy which would allow us to replace the British money going in there; and they know darn well that if, tomorrow morning, the Republic took over the Six Counties automatically the standard of living would drop, mass unemployment would be rife, health services would become much dearer and they would have to pay for things for which they do not have to pay now.
I do not suppose anyone thinks we could make this change overnight, but we are making no plans which would suggest that we have even the remotest idea of ever dealing with the problem. We make statements and get publicity for them and expect the people to swallow them, hook, line and sinker. The Taoiseach says—I agree with him—that the Border can only be removed by peaceful means and any head case in this House, or outside it, who believes we can attack the people in the north, attack our enemies who are, in fact, our brothers and sisters, in an effort to free Ireland just does not know what he is talking about.
I was amazed listening to two gentlemen who are in the party but not of it, or something like that, saying that they believed with us and with the Taoiseach that there should be a peaceful solution to the Border but certain people should be allowed to carry arms for defence. Logically then the police and everybody else should carry arms. If we have no arms we cannot cause trouble. If we say we have arms we will have a right good row on our hands. I presume that what they meant was "Walk softly, but carry a big stick". This kind of attitude towards the people of the Six Counties is the one thing likely to drive them mad, this idea that we are just waiting, Big Brother across the Border: so long as you behave, all right, but, if you do not behave, we will do something about it. They know darn well, just as well as we know, and as the Taoiseach knew when he made his statements, that there is nothing we can do. We could possibly take and hold Derry against very strong odds. What about Belfast? What would happen in Belfast if an effort were made at any time to cross the Border? Let us be reasonable about this and not make fools of ourselves. We have to negotiate a settlement and we have to draw up terms under which we can negotiate before we can expect these people to talk to us.
I agree with statements made by people on both sides that the Taoiseach apparently believes this is an Irish question. It is not an Irish question. This problem was introduced by the British Government and we cannot remove it without the British Government changing their attitude. I believe that the Six Counties are an embarrassment to Britain and that she would love to get rid of this problem. It has been said that it would give the people of Wales and Scotland an opportunity to kick up a row but it should be understood that our country is an island and as far as we are concerned we owe no allegiance and have nothing in common with the people in the neighbouring island. If they want freedom let them have it but they are part of the same land mass. We have a different right to freedom and we should ensure that we use that right in our own interests.
The extraordinary thing about this question of British occupation of the six north-eastern counties is that we are trying to do several things together. On the one hand we say that we hate Britain because she is occupying the Six Counties. I was amazed and surprised to hear Deputy Boland say in effect that we do not want the British soldiers in Northern Ireland but if they were not there there would have been much bloodshed a few weeks ago. We are in the awkward position that we want them and we do not want them. While we hate the British because of the north, we love them because of trade. We hate the British because we feel they are not treating us fairly in regard to the north but we love them for giving employment to many thousands of Irish people.
We have reached an absurd point in regard to the EEC. The Minister for External Affairs made a comment in Luxembourg to the effect that our special trading arrangements with Britain would have to be taken into consideration. I imagine that statement was made for home consumption because the Minister is aware that, so far as trade relations are concerned, regulations are laid down by the Treaties of Rome and Paris and we cannot evade the regulations. The issuing of nice statements such as that made by the Minister for the purpose of having them published in Ireland is not good enough.
Apparently, the Taoiseach when he is speaking here seems to think the country is doing very well. I have already tried to point out how badly I think it is doing. Unless the Government pull up their socks we shall be in serious trouble. The statement made by the Taoiseach on 11th July in a television interview that the country was on the brink of a great achievement has caused much confusion in the minds of many people. We have been searching for evidence of this great achievement but to no avail. If the Taoiseach said that the country was on the brink of a disaster he would be much closer to the truth.
We have been making arrangements to negotiate for entry into the EEC and as we have already had a long debate on this matter I do not propose to discuss it again. On the 21st September we will be negotiating with the EEC representatives. The Taoiseach has announced that he proposes to adjourn the Dáil until the 28th October, so the position will obtain that whether our negotiators succeed or fail, whether the discussions require consideration, the negotiators will not be able to consult the Dáil. The Taoiseach will probably say that they will consult the Government but who are the Government? I should like to know who is in control of Fianna Fáil. I have been counting heads and, quite frankly, were I in the Taoiseach's position I should be unhappy. We will know tonight who controls Fianna Fáil for this period at any rate.
In my opinion Deputy Haughey was a good Minister for Finance; he might be anything else after that but he was an efficient Minister. Deputy Blaney was a hard-working Minister; I disagreed with him perhaps more than anybody else in this House but he did his homework. Deputy Boland could talk for hours and hours and must be a hard-working man to have collected all the information he repeated in this House. These were men the Taoiseach and his predecessor had selected — the men who were described as "dynamic," These men have now been replaced by others who appear to be rather thirdrate—I would not even say second-rate—and they are the people who are supposed to be running this country. However, if one listens to whispers in the corridors it would appear that they may not be getting all their own way. I do not like to make personal attacks but I must point out that we have as Minister for Justice a man whose love for the gardaí was well known before he became Minister. We know of his relations with the gardaí particularly in his own area, and he is now in control of the Garda Síochána.
I would assume that the Minister for Local Government is in charge of everything dealing with local government, including the settlement of itinerants. Yet, he disliked them so much that he was responsible for a new word in the English language, Rahoonism. We have the Minister for Agriculture; his fellow-Ministers seem to think he was responsible for informing on them to the Taoiseach when the big dispute occurred.
We have those people whom the Taoiseach has said are loyal to the Fianna Fáil Party and, in fact, he objected very strongly when Deputy Corish said they were a junta. I interrupted to say that they were not a junta but were two juntas. There are two distinct parties now: the people who think they are the republicans, whose wounds bleed when anyone speaks about the Six Counties and there are the people of Fianna Fáil with the words Republican Party in brackets.
We have had enough of this outfit and the Taoiseach must realise that his position has become impossible. He must realise that while this evening and on other evenings these people may troop through the lobby and vote on his side they are not voting for him or for Fianna Fáil but are merely voting for self-preservation. As Deputy Lenihan, the Minister for Transport and Power, said some time ago. "The name of the game is survival."
While the Dáil is in recess the Taoiseach will be left to the tender mercies of the people I have just described. He will be expected to look after the affairs of the country and ensure that we do not meet such an economic storm in the meantime that the ship will have floundered before 28th October. This is not just political claptrap. The fact that today in this House we reintroduced a Bill for the purpose of ensuring that squatters would not be thrown out if they are relatives of the person who owned the house indicates just how bad is the housing position. No matter in which direction the Taoiseach looks he sees no friends but political enemies because of the fact that the Government he is supposed to be leading have made a mess of everything.
I now call on the spokesman for Fine Gael to conclude.
In his opening statement on this immensely important debate, the Taoiseach indicated to this House and to the nation that the ship of State was certainly on a crash course. Having indicated the rocks upon which the ship of State was about to perish— the rocks of inflation, of industrial relations chaos and of national disunity—the captain of the national ship says to the crew of the ship — the members of Dáil Éireann—"Abandon ship. Jump overboard. Forget all about it for the next three months." Was there ever, in the history of democratic government in any State, such gross irresponsibility as to wait until the day on which the head of the Government is asking Parliament to go away for three months to issue warnings of inevitable national ruination from matters such as inflation and industrial relations which are directly within Government control or directly within the control of Parliament so long as it is given the necessary leadership? Was it responsible to say, at the most sensitive time in our national life concerning national unity, that we should go away without any right in the elected representatives of the Irish people to meet if the situation should warrant it? Not only has the captain told the crew to jump overboard but he is now faced with the great difficulty that some of the people whom he would like to see sink refuse to sink and keep bobbing up, causing him continual and perpetual embarrassment.
The strange thing is that at least part of the ship of State—the bridge—is being kept above water by the very people the captain wants to see sinking because they keep bobbing up every now and then to give him the necessary bubble of air to enable him to continue to survive.
They control the engine-room.
In that situation, what have we from the sinking ship? We have from the Taoiseach himself, on this beleagured bridge, a sermon on brotherly love with which nobody can disagree. We have from him a lecture on the economic theory of inflation. We have from him threats to the wage-earners and the income-earners in the community. We have all this at the conclusion of a time during which this sovereign Parliament of the Irish nation has been unable to discuss what most of the Members wanted to discuss because the Taoiseach was afraid of what might be said by the former members of his own Cabinet whom he had commended to us last year as Ministers and whom he has now dismissed or caused to resign either willingly or unwillingly.
The Taoiseach is not a man given to irritation or passionate or angry out burst. In recent weeks we heard him assert with fierce denial that it was not because he was afraid of what his erstwhile Ministers would say that he would not have a debate on Northern Ireland. We see now that his denials were empty—I do not want to say they were dishonest. He knew, as he uttered them, that that was the real reason why he would not have a debate in this House on that subject. Nothing was said from the Fine Gael or Labour benches to cause the unity of the Irish people to suffer in any way. However, a great deal was said by former Ministers, whom the Taoiseach had recommended to this House a year ago, to postpone the date of the eventual unity of this nation.
It is not without some great significance that, amongst the 16 motions on the Order Paper of this Dáil— Private Members' motions which have not been discussed because the Taoiseach and the Government refused to allow time to discuss them—stands a motion which calls upon Dáil Éireann formally to reject the use of force as an instrument to secure the unity of Ireland. When the Fine Gael Party tabled that resolution, they desired that it should be taken in conjunction with the debate we had last October dealing with the difficulties which had arisen in the North of Ireland. The Taoiseach took umbrage that the Fine Gael Party should interfere with what he hoped would be a convenient debate by tabling such a resolution. We tabled it so that all people resident on this island might know that this Parliament, representing the people of Ireland, did not wish to use force as an instrument to secure the unity of Ireland. The present Taoiseach, and he alone, is responsible for preventing this Dáil from putting on record its rejection of the use of force. We want to see that resolution put before the Dáil and voted upon by every Member of the Dáil so that our people—all our people — will know, when we stand up and are counted in the lobbies, who is for and who is against the use of force.
Just as he did not wish to have a debate on the matter lest the people on whom he is depending for support should be identified for what they are, so the Taoiseach does not wish to have that resolution discussed or voted upon in this House. Then he goes on radio and television to deliver pious remarks about brotherly love.
Reference was made here today by one of the Taoiseach's former Ministers to the Committee on the Constitution which discussed and then made its recommendations on the Constitution in December, 1967. I wish to refer to that report which has now, unfortunately, been forgotten and upon which the Government have taken no action whatsoever. The first and most important recommendation of that commission was that we would amend the Constitution by removing from it any presumptuous claim to exercise, from this Parliament, rights over a part of Ireland not at present within our jurisdiction and to replace it with a resolution—which the Opposition in this Dáil are able, unanimously, to subscribe to — namely, that the Irish nation hereby proclaims its firm will that its territory be reunited in harmony and brotherly affection between all Irishmen.
It was from Deputy Boland, speaking here today on behalf of the 12 members of the Fianna Fáil Party— one-sixth of the total membership of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party— that we heard his opposition to the insertion into our Constitution of a declaration of a desire to reunite Ireland in harmony and brotherly affection. It is upon these 12 people— who are not prepared to subscribe to doctrines of harmony and brotherly affection—that the Taoiseach and the present Government rely for their continuation in office. Were ever a Government so unworthily in office?
In 1967, the Committee on the Constitution also recommended that a specified number of Members of the Oireachtas would have the right to require the President to convene meetings of the Dáil or Seanad. The Government have had three years in which to bring forward that reasonable amendment to our Constitution. They have refused that amendment. They have refused to give that right which is in existence in most democratic Constitutions. They were unwilling to allow the Opposition to convene a meeting of the Dáil or to order its business.
When people complain, as they have every right to complain, and when the mass media complain, as they are quite justified in complaining, that Dáil Éireann is becoming irrelevant, let it be understood that it is only because the business of this House is ordered by the Taoiseach and the Government of the day and not because, we representing the people, do not want to have debated here the very issues which are exercising the minds of the people and causing them to take to the streets.
The 1967 Committee on the Constitution also recommended that, when constituencies were being drawn up, the boundaries should be determined by an independent commission. That was offered in a gross and unworthy package deal two years ago, together with a proposal to abolish proportional representation, the very thing which because we have it here, gives us some degree of justice, and because it is absent in the North of Ireland has a régime of tyranny and failure in existence there. That was refused.
Who criticised today the offering of package deals in referenda? Deputy Kevin Boland. When he was Minister for Local Government he spent hours and days insisting upon having package deals to combine an unanimously agreed recommendation with a proposal which had not the support of even one member of the Committee on the Constitution. He opposed an amendment by Deputy Fitzpatrick on behalf of Fine Gael to make them separate issues.
The 1967 Committee on the Constitution also urged that there should be an amendment to the Constitution which would do away with the hypocritical position we have here at present under which this State continues to operate under an assumed state of emergency, under which many of the fundamental rights of people may be suspended, and under which many Articles of the Constitution may be declared by Government order not to apply.
When we are now about to go into recess, forced upon us by the Government, we have the Taoiseach issuing threats to every wage earner in the community, to everybody who earns an income in the community, to everybody involved in industrial relations in the community, to every shopkeeper in the community. People may be inclined to feel that they can wait until October or November before those threats can have any meaningful application to their affairs, but the reality is that, because we are still living under an assumed emergency, by a vote of the Dáil and the Seanad in 1941, all the Government require is for the Dáil and Seanad to go into recess and then to make multitudinous emergency powers orders restricting incomes, interfering in commerce, and generally doing what they have not got the courage to propose here in the national Parliament. This arises out of their neglect to amend the Constitution which 2½ years ago all parties agreed to be amended.
The 1967 Committee on the Constitution also recommended that we should repeal that section of the Constitution which causes so much unnecessary offence, Article 41.3º which provides that no law shall be passed providing for the dissolution of a marriage. I said in Galway some months ago, and I say again, that the provisions in our Constitution against the dissolution of marriage go far beyond what is required by the tenets of the religion held by the majority of our people. Not only do they offend against Catholic principles but they are also entirely in conflict with the fundamental rights of all our citizens. Again it is well to remember that the members of the 1967 Committee on the Constitution were unanimous in thinking that that objectionable section should be repealed. Nothing has since been done about it.
The 1967 Committee on the Constitution unanimously called for the removal of the constitutional recognition of the special position of the Catholic Church and also for the removal of recognition in relation to other religions confined only to denominations which were in existence in 1937. These are matters on which it would be proper to consult an adult people in a properly drawn up referendum. The Government did nothing about these things either, until there was bloodshed, a resurrection of ancient hatreds and a stimulation of present hatred in the streets of our villages and towns and cities.
Was there ever a more unfit Government to rule than the Government which introduced these obnoxious provisions into our Constitution in 1937, and which have not got the moral courage to repeal them? They introduced them of their own volition, without any suggestion from anybody. At that time, apparently, they were adoring the gods which Deputy Boland says we should still be kneeling before. In 1967 they had not got the courage to right what they accepted through their own emissaries on that committee to be wrong. Now the Taoiseach's only suggestion is that some group should consider it in depth. There was a time when, if you did not want to do anything about something, you set up a committee. Now you ask somebody to study it in depth and, the deeper you go, the more likely it is to be buried. It is also fair to remark that what the Taoiseach had in mind was that the discussions would be in secret and that the democratic process would not be brought to bear on them.
I do not want to go too deeply into the 1967 report but it has become a terribly important document because every paragraph of it indicts the Government for 2½ years for gross, irresponsible and unpatriotic inactivity. It also recommended the addition of a new principle to our social policy, the principle of equal pay for men and women for work of equal value. Apparently that was also causing difficulty to the Fianna Fáil Government. We know also that, notwithstanding years of pressure from Fine Fáil were the Labour Parties, Fianna Fáil were reluctant to give votes at 18 years of age until they were teased and taunted on that matter by Mr. Faulkner and other members of the Northern Government. This is a document which indicts the Taoiseach and every member of his Government in every possible way.
We had a lecture from the Taoiseach about industrial relations and the need to improve them. He chastised all concerned, all the employers and all the employees concerned, for the chaos which existed. For 32 of the past 38 years, Fianna Fáil have been in power. If government means anything, it means responsibility for the state of affairs.
Surely the lion's share of responsibility for the social, moral and patriotic difficulties and attitudes in our midst must lie with the Government which has had 32 years of government in the last 38? The Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley, says the Government cannot abdicate responsibility. It is a bit late in the day to make a declaration of that kind. As I said earlier, there is something ominous in a Government which accept responsibility only on the eve of a threemonths holiday for both Houses of Parliament.
In the last two years we have had four major strikes and a multitude of smaller ones. We had the maintenance strike, the cement strike, the ESB strike and the present bank strike which has gone on for three or four months or more. The Taoiseach's view and the view of other members of the Government is that those involved in those strikes should use existing machinery. Has it ever occurred to him to examine why they are not using existing machinery? Why has the Taoiseach or members of his Government not stepped in at an early stage in these disputes to ensure the machinery would be used? Why has it required over a quarter of a year with these major strikes, with the immense harm they have done to the economy, for the Taoiseach and other members of the Government to feel that they have some responsibility for the state of chaos existing in industrial relations?
If the machinery which the Taoiseach suggests should be used, because Dáil and Seanad Éireann in their wisdom suggested it, is not being used, surely it was clear for years past that it has not been used? Why have the Government which have had such immense power in the past 38 years and in the last 13 years in particular, not moved to amend that legislation? What are they afraid of? Why are they not prepared to discuss the matter? Why have they not proposals to put before the House? Why have they not the guts to let the democratic process work and make their proposals? Because they abdicated responsibility and now, in an ominous fashion, we are threatened with acceptance of that responsibility when we are all being forced by the Government to go on holidays.
In these days we think only of the dismissed Ministers, Deputies Haughey and Blaney, and the resigned Ministers, Deputies Boland and Brennan, but let us cast our minds back to the resignation of another Member of this House from the Fianna Fáil Cabinet upon whose support the Taoiseach relies and whose support has been given to the Taoiseach during the last five or six years of industrial relations chaos, the resignation on 3rd November, 1964, of Deputy Paddy Smith of Cavan, who resigned from the Cabinet in which Deputy Jack Lynch, now Taoiseach, had responsibility for industrial relations. He resigned because he said he could not live with the Government's handling of industrial relations. There is the pretty picture. Twelve Members of the Fianna Fáil Oireachtas Party, one-sixth of the party, have declared that Deputy Boland was not wrong to accuse the Taoiseach of unparalleled treachery. We do not know if Deputy Smith was among that 12. We do know that nearly six years ago he accused the present Government of mishandling industrial relations.
What have we got from the Government since then or from Deputy Lynch, who moved from his responsibility for industrial relations into the Taoiseach's chair? Nothing, but an ominous threat on the day the Dáil is being forced by him to go into recess, so that over the next three months we shall be unable to criticise his actions or activities.
We also received a lecture from the Taoiseach about the cost of living. The Government have boasted for some years past of their effective control of prices. They have maintained that they were doing as much as could be done in a free economy about prices. Our economy is no more rigid than that of any other European country, but at no time, with the exception of the last six months, has any European country experienced an increase in the annual cost of living of more than 2½ per cent. The OECD has recommended that this is the maximum increase that should be permitted. But we have had a 4 per cent and a 5 per cent and a 6 per cent and a 5 per cent and a 7 per cent and, this year, a 10 per cent increase. The Government say they are not to blame: it is everyone else in the community. But this year, when all the danger signals were flashing red about inflation, we had the deliberate injection of inflation through the imposition of the turnover tax.
Whatever theory one may have about the turnover tax spreading the burden, our experience with the turnover tax of 1962 proved without doubt that in Irish conditions an increase in turnover tax would increase prices by not less than 4 per cent and more likely by 7 per cent. In that full knowledge the Government chose that particular form of taxation almost exclusively to give them the additional revenue required and, in so doing, they deliberately or, if not deliberately, recklessly, carelessly, increased the cost of living and ensured inflation to a degree of 5 per cent or 7 per cent which could otherwise have been avoided.
What other tremendously important increase in inflation have we had which has been just as significant as if not more significant than the wage increases which people have sought so that they could make ends meet? In the past four years we have placed— for the first time to such a degree in our economic and financial independence—our reliance upon foreign loans to an extent where we injected substantial inflationary pressures into our economy. We have borrowed from abroad £59 million in the past four years, including £20 million in sterling-Deutsche mark bonds. It now appears that the Government are surviving on Bonn bonds. This is the kind of utterly reckless Government we have had, grasping at the nearest straw for survival and using any possible method to grab money and appear to be generous without regard to the inevitable consequences of relying on outside money, highly priced, or a tax like the turnover tax and the inevitable damage which such reliance involves.
This has been done at a time when the Government know that not only are we going to have these pressures which they already created but that they are occurring in a year in which there will also be an increase in the cost of living. Perhaps it is artificial, only passing and not to be repeated but yet it is an increase which will be caused by decimalisation next February. No matter what care is applied by the Government or other agencies of the State to limit the increase in the cost of living which will come about through decimalisation, there will be an increase because that has been the experience in any country that has gone over to decimalisation from more ancient systems.
We also have the knowledge now that the value added tax which is in operation in Europe is to be applied in this country on next Budget day. That could well be, for all we know, in October or early November. This will also inject a new substantial increase in the cost of living and in the knowledge of all that, with their own hands filthy with inflationary lucre the Government, through their Taoiseach, the day the Dáil goes into recess, says: "You are all out of step bar us. You must all tighten your belts. You must keep down your wages" when they have injected some of the most significant factors into the cost of living.
The Taoiseach said that the northern situation has improved in the past few weeks in so far as there have not been deaths or that there has not been substantial violence. We share his view that matters have improved, but let us understand why that situation has come about. What kept the peace in Belfast and Derry and throughout the north over that critical week-end of 11th to 13th July? It was the massive military presence, the intimidating military might of the British Army. It was not pious words of any pious people, no matter how well intended, which kept the peace. Anybody who was in the north, as I was, must have been overwhelmed with the intimidating presence of the military. Thank God they were there. Without them there might well have been a holocaust. But let us not fool ourselves as to the price which had to be paid in order to maintain a passing peace. Now we have ahead of us as we are asked to go into recess without any hope of recall the proposed Apprentice Boys parades on 12th August. We think it is very sad to see the police and security forces in the north apparently unwilling or, perhaps, unable to stop parades which they have banned. It does regrettably appear to query the fitness to govern of those who are in control in the North at the present time.
The moment of truth has come not alone for the Stormont Government but also for the British Government. If a parade which last year set alight ancient bitterness is to be allowed to go ahead because of the weakness or unwillingness of the Government to stop it, if the proposed provocative parade is not stopped the confidence of the minority in the North of Ireland will be shattered and, goodness knows, that confidence has already suffered enough by what happened in the Lower Falls in July, where the British Army invaded, looted and outrageously damaged the homes of many innocent people and, since then, there has been a completely unsatisfactory handling of the complaints of the injured people by the military authorities. I would hope to get from the Taoiseach in his reply an assurance that the Government have protested in the most vehement way about what happened and also urging proper handling of the complaints and adequate compensation.
As I say these things, I of course, have full need to consider carefully the possible consequences of any comment or action. Indeed, I think it is regrettable that that care has not been displayed by all Members of this House in the course of this debate here today or since it began this week or over recent months. In the light of this terrible situation we must deplore Deputy Blaney coming into this House and speaking as he did, he who led others into the paths of error, who played it more cleverly than they, but who, when the people he misled were caught, left them to carry the can.
Deputy Blaney has presumed to question the integrity of Deputy Cosgrave and of his informant and to taunt him and others with the validity of the information which Deputy Cosgrave received and which he passed on, as he had every duty to do, to the Taoiseach. It seems to me that a number of questions are still to be answered by Deputy Blaney. He must answer why it was that it was he who arranged the first meeting between Captain John Kelly and Mr. Albert Luykx. Deputy Blaney must also explain why it is that he asked the Minister for Defence would he in any circumstances sign a document to facilitate the illegal importation of arms to shoot Protestants. When Deputy Blaney has given satisfactory answers to this and many other questions which need to be answered, it will be time for him to speak. Deputy Blaney demanded the drumming out of the Garda Síochána of the man responsible for revealing a plot. Deputy Blaney has a wrong understanding of his obligations if he seeks to blame or accuse or chastise somebody who insists that nobody should be above the law but that all Irish men and women should be equal before the law.
Deputy Blaney mentioned that to him peaceful means is the ideal solution for Partition. He mentioned it as the ideal solution which, to my mind, suggests he believes there are other solutions which are less ideal but which may be possible. Does he or any Irishman who loves his country and his fellow countrymen believe that if force is ruled out there is any other alternative but that of conviction? Does he believe that if he fails to co-operate with the present leaders of the Unionist majority in the north that the only alternative to co-operating with and speaking with them is to deal with Dr. Ian Paisley and his like? That is the reality of the situation and I think that one must accept what was said by Major Chichester Clark, the Northern Prime Minister, earlier this week, that there is no realistic policy which ignores the existence, the strength and the democratic validity of Unionist sentiment. One can disagree with it just as we violently disagree with Fianna Fáil gods past and present, but we must respect the consequences of democratic activity and of democratic life and that is what we insist should be respected.
Deputy Boland was, of course, mainly concerned with the internal difficulties of his own party—I am not sure whether he is still within the party, but the party to which he gave service over many years. He wanted to know whether the Taoiseach was adjuring past gods and adopting new ones. We are not terribly interested in manmade gods. We do not believe the poor and the sick, the ordinary people of this country who wish to live in peace and harmony, are interested in politically-made gods. No man or manmade god, past or present, has the right to stop co-operation between fellow Irishmen or to postpone unity by reliance upon the theoretical rights which have no relationship to the possibility of providing a solution for the difficulties of all the Irish people living on this island.
We do not think that any man or man-made god, past or present, has any right to rake up past hatreds or to inflame present fears. The Taoiseach, if he wishes to be fair to the Irish nation must reject tonight the support of those who believe that they or their gods, past or present, have a right to delay the unity of the Irish nation. These people are giving or have until now given support to the Taoiseach. If the Taoiseach has principles, if his Government have principle, or if the men in question have any principles and if they want people to believe they have principles, they must separate. They must indicate that, as they are poles apart and cannot agree on this fundamental matter, they are no longer prepared to work together. It is very easy to be a verbal martyr, a verbal patriot, but when the crunch comes, when a matter of principle arises, such as has arisen in a very clear way in this year in this island, then men of principle have a clear duty even if it means that they lose office and all the perquisites of it.
Sir, we have difficulties ahead— economic, financial, in industrial relations and in matters pertaining to the unity of our people. I can understand and we can all understand the reluctance of any Government to have any discussion which could be avoided, but I would ask the Taoiseach in the name of Irish democracy, in the name of the fundamental right of our people to express their views, and having regard to that right and the importance of it in any just society, in any free society, to give an undertaking tonight to Dáil Éireann to re-assemble the Dáil if any political or economic crisis should arise before the end of October. We would ask him not to take any drastic action affecting industrial relations or affecting the incomes of our people without first having a meeting of Dáil Éireann to justify it and, above all, not to use what he still has available to him—because he has not yet washed his hands of it—the emergency powers which were conferred on our Government in 1941 because of the then existing state of international crisis.
The truth is, whether the Taoiseach likes to remember it or not—and I am sure he wishes to get away from it— that one in every six of the Members of the Fianna Fáil Party in Dáil Éireann believes that Deputy Boland was justified in accusing him of unparalleled treachery, that one in every six believes that Deputy Boland was justified in accusing him of being a felon setter and that the whole Fianna Fáil Party have remained silent in the face of a published statement that one of the members of his Government, Deputy Gibbons, was an unmitigated scoundrel.
This does not appear to me to be a united Government. This does not appear to be a Government to which it is safe to entrust the destinies of our people for any length of time. This is particularly so during a period of three months when our Parliament and the people's voice cannot operate because the Government say: "You must go on holidays and we will not let you back." We are paying the price of protracted weakness. What is that price? The price is the mess in which the country is. The Taoiseach opened this debate by saying that the country is in a mess. He should not dissolve the Dáil when the country is in a mess. He should carry on either with free discussion in Parliament or else resign from office. It seems to me that it is only honest for himself and his colleagues to resign because he knows he has not got a majority, an honest and true majority, behind him.
Two weeks ago we were given the impression that this House would sit right through August because the Opposition parties wanted it but, when we threw out that challenge to them, they very rapidly said: "Why not finish by the end of July?" If the House is adjourning today it is because the Opposition parties asked us to do so.
That is not true.
That is a blatant falsehood.
It is not a blatant falsehood. Then they come along complaining about the length of the Adjournment. The Adjournment this year is no longer than the average Adjournment over the last ten years and in fact is less than the average over a number of years. As well as that the number of hours this Dáil sat in the current session is away above the average for the period ending in the Summer Recess. Then Deputies claim they have not had sufficient time to debate the people's affairs in true democratic fashion. However, I have enough to deal with in the short time at my disposal without chasing Deputy Ryan's hares.
In the speeches of the Opposition representatives they chose to dwell on different themes. Deputy Cosgrave underlined what he considered to be the absence of any consistency in the policies of the present Government. Deputy Corish lamented the apparent diminution in the importance attached to this House and the reluctance of the Government to avail of the responsible and constructive advice and views which Opposition parties could provide. Unfortunately for their leaders, but not surprisingly to us, the speeches which we have heard from the Opposition Deputies over the past three days give no indication that either Fine Gael or the Labour Party are capable of speaking with a consistent voice on any topic. Nor could I find much in the way of constructive advice. We were treated to the by now familiar differences of views as the Opposition Parties proceeded to support all possible shades of opinion on different kinds of topics. So much for consistency. In addition, diverse and often conflicting opinions were delivered with the expected blend of exaggeration, misrepresentation and occasional sheer disregard for fact. So much for responsible and constructive advice.
Deputy Cosgrave started the theme within a few minutes of his opening statement speaking on the subject of inflation where he was purporting to endorse the need to curb the present inflationary process. He proceeded to conjure up a picture of prices rising by almost 10 per cent this year and used this to say that people would be justified in seeking a 15 per cent pay rise to cover the period up to the end of 1971. Coming from a person in his position such a statement can only be regarded as the height of irresponsibility. I emphasised in my remarks that one of the dangers in an inflationary situation is that people may talk and think themselves into a frame of mind where they expect larger and larger price rises in the future and I said it was essential that any such inflationary expectations should be dispelled as a matter of urgency. Yet we find the leader of the Opposition indulging in this dangerous activity of adding fuel to the inflationary fire.
When it came to the subject of how to deal with inflation we were treated by other Fine Gael speakers to a variety of views delivered in confident, ringing tones. Their views might have carried conviction were it not for the fact that one speaker was contradicting the other. Deputy FitzGerald told us how the Opposition always find it easy to criticise the Government, sometimes unfairly, he admitted, to his credit. He assured us that they could stand on their record for criticising the Government's failure in relation to a prices and incomes policy.
We were given a confident statement as to how such a policy could be operated and it was one which one assumed would be operated by the Fine Gael Party. Unfortunately, one of their new acquisitions to the party, Deputy Cooney, who spoke earlier, assured the House that he had no faith in any incomes policy because of the shortcomings of human nature. However, it is a comfort for me to know that whichever course I take I will have some support from the Fine Gael benches.
Deputy Cooney went on to suggest some of the fiscal changes that might help to curb inflation. He called for restrictions on imports as the first and most important step which might be taken. There is only one thing wrong with this advice and that is that import restrictions do not help to curb inflation. On the contrary, they aggravate it.
No doubt determined to emulate the performance of the Fine Gael speakers the Labour Party members managed to provide a similar pattern of contradictory statements. Deputy Desmond like Deputy FitzGerald was anxious that the Government should press ahead with an incomes policy and saw this as a necessary measure to safeguard the jobs and living standards of workers. On the other hand, his colleague Deputy O'Donovan considered an incomes policy, and I think I am quoting him correctly, to be nonsense and nothing more than a wages policy designed to prevent workers from getting adequate pay increases. Deputy O'Donovan also presented us with another blatant example of irresponsible talk about price increases. The official figure for price increases in 1968 of 4.7 per cent was to be placed in a category, according to Deputy O'Donovan, of "lies, and damned lies," because he considered that prices had risen by at least 10 per cent. Of course Deputy O'Donovan is a statistics office in his own right.
Do not sneer.
The basis for this extraordinary statement was a survey, if we can call it that, of one shop, relating to some unspecified but presumably restricted range of goods and for an unspecified and apparently short period of time. Perhaps intoxicated by these performances Deputy O'Leary felt compelled to add his mixture of misplaced exaggeration and ignorance of facts when he spoke this morning. He dragged out yet again the old bogey that there could be a devaluation of the Irish £ in the near future. This is hardly the sort of comment which could be regarded as responsible since it can do nothing but stir up unwarranted speculation both here and abroad which could, if allowed to develop, lessen the confidence of foreign investors in this country. It is worth nothing, of course, that this remark was part of a commentary in which the Deputy revealed his lack of both knowledge and understanding of economic affairs. Where else, he asked us, was there a country which had inflation, rising unemployment and a growing balance of payments deficit. He need look no further than to the recent experiences of the United States and the United Kingdom and I invite the Deputy to have a look at them.
I said a permanent state of these three things. The Taoiseach should not be selective in his arguments.
I want to say that I do not accept Deputy O'Leary's description of the state of our economy.
The Taoiseach's statement must be received by the House——
Deputy O'Leary cannot resist interrupting. He has very clever interruptions.
He is from Cork.
That is the cause of it. However, I regret the necessity to come in here and point out the shortcomings in the contributions of the Opposition speakers but the issues on which the Deputies were commenting are important ones and it is important that the hotch-potch of inaccurate fact, wrong diagnosis and wild opinion which was put forward should be clearly seen to be such, the more so since some Opposition Deputies felt that the Government were not attaching sufficient importance to their views. I have chosen to illustrate the confusion amongst Opposition Deputies with this example of their economic comments but the same inglorious pattern was followed in their treatment of other topics.
Deputy Corish spent part of his speech dwelling on the need for us to break away from the parliamentary pattern which he said had been modelled on that of Westminster 50 years ago. I was consequently waiting with some interest for the contributions of other Labour Deputies on this theme but far from any constructive contributions as to how we might alter our practice what do I get? A lecture from Deputy O'Brien who wants to reprimand me for not apparently subscribing to the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility which I understand derives from Westminster.
Does the Taoiseach subscribe to it?
It is also rather unfortunate that Deputy O'Brien should choose to raise the topic of sectarian bias and activities and accuse me and this party of it, especially since the most widely publicised case of this nature in recent times has been one with which a prominent member of his party was identified. Deputy O'Brien made many points in the course of his speech and I have time only to deal with some of them. He analysed and parsed speeches made by me, put them into juxtaposition with themselves and with speeches from other people, for whom I have no responsibility, such as the Nationalist leader in the North of Ireland, and tried to read between the lines and made some completely unsustainable assumptions.
He was more like a political microbiologist, if there is such an animal, than a political realist. Perhaps one might not blame the Deputy for that because with a little more experience I am sure he will come to the reality of politics which, as he probably knows better than I do, is described as "the art of the possible." He challenged the sincerity of my public statements when I urged peace, tolerance and brotherhood between all Irishmen. To sustain this challenge he took a very poor example. He implied, and I was here at the time, that I promoted sectarianism during my election tour in June, 12 months ago. He said, as reported in today's papers "What the Taoiseach was putting out then had not a great deal to do with tolerance, forbearance and neighbourly love. It was a campaign of calumny."
A red smear.
And he added that the same kind of sectarian abuse, exploitation and fear as practised in the north was practised here too. These are his exact words as reported in the papers. I want to say to Deputy O'Brien that he could not now, or ever produce any evidence in any statement or any action of mine that promoted sectarianism at any time, or in any way.
You have your hatchet men.
What I did say during the election tour, and I will repeat it for the benefit of Deputy O'Brien and his colleagues, is that we would oppose the extreme form of socialism contained in the Labour Party's policy documents which I think were published originally under the general title "The Workers Socialist Republic," later to be changed to "The New Republic."
Would the Taoiseach give us some specific examples? This is typical. I do not believe the Taoiseach has read the document.
I described it then as an alien philosophy which was anathema to the vast majority of the Irish people. I still so regard it, and not only alien but outmoded.
I can assure Deputy O'Leary that so long as I hold this position and so long as I have a voice in this House I will continue to fight that doctrine.
The Taoiseach does not know what he is talking about. He has not a clue.
I must confess I did not buy the document, but I read it closely as printed in the Irish Times. I think it was accurate. I just want to say a few words about the situation in Northern Ireland but, first, I want to say to Deputy Blaney that the position and the regulations about the tapping of phones are still exactly as I outlined them in my speech here in early May and as outlined, in, perhaps, more detail, recently on 4th June by the Minister for Justice in reply to a Parmentary question. I repeat the assurance that no warrant for this purpose was then in May in existence, nor since, nor is there now a warrant in existence in respect of any Member of this House.
Who is tapping Deputy Blaney's phone then?
I also want to say that no second force of special branch gardaí has been recruited. Deputy Blaney or any other Deputy need have no fear that special branch men are roaming the corridors of Leinster House or rubbing shoulders with Members of the House either in the restaurant or in the bars.
Look up in the Gallery.
Since the incidents of last May I have had special security placed on me and, more recently, the Minister for External Affairs, Dr. Hillery. This was done without our consent, I need hardly say, and obviously as a result of some threat. I do not know where the threat came from.
The Deputies behind the Taoiseach.
On one occasion quite recently they came to the House as I had an engagement outside. Unfortunately, I was not able to get away and I instructed my private secretary to get these men into the restaurant and have them served tea. I do not know if that is the occasion when they were seen there. So much for that.
I want to come now to a comment made by Deputy Cosgrave in reference to the arrangement by the Government last May of the interdepartmental unit established to examine all matters affecting north/south relations and study in depth short-term programmes as well as long-term difficulties. Deputy Cosgrave said that, as far back as February, 1957, the Government decided, with a view to the preparation of specific detailed proposals for the reintegration of the national territory, that each Department should undertake in respect of the matters with which it was concerned an intensive study of all the practical problems that might be expected to arise in that connection. That was the inter-Party Government. According to Deputy Cosgrave that decision was taken in February, 1957. Deputy Cosgrave said that prior to that decision there had been a good deal of consideration on many matters and "eventually the study undertaken and the discussion between the different Departments culminated in the Government decision to which I have referred." He added that it would be interesting to know what happened. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the terms of this decision were given in the Sunday Independent on 19th July under the heading “The inter-Party all-Ireland Plan” from a Special Correspondent. I suggest it was a very special correspondent. It attributed the initiative in the matter to the Minister for External Affairs, Deputy Liam Cosgrave. The article stated that the decision was taken on the initiative of Deputy Liam Cosgrave and, in Deputy Cosgrave's words again, it would be interesting to know what happened.
I was a Member of the Dáil at that time. I remember the events of January/ February, 1957, and, for the benefit of younger Members in the House, I can tell them something about it. The Coalition Government had the aid of 70 Deputies, Fine Gael, Labour and Clann na Talmhan. They were also enjoying the support of the Clann na Poblachta Party of three members. On 28th January, 1957, the three Clann na Poblachta Deputies tabled a motion of "No Confidence" in the Government. The terms of the motion, inter alia, regretted the failure of the Government to formulate and pursue any policy designed to bring about the unity of Ireland. Now, the then Deputy McBride was close to that Government and he was able to charge them on 28th January with not having even formulated a policy. In a statement published on 29th January Clann na Poblachta said they could no longer support the Government for that reason as well as for the Government's failure to deal with the economic crisis at that time. This was published in the Irish Independent of 29th January. There was on Tuesday, I presume, the day it was published, the ordinary Government meeting and you can imagine the dilemma in which the members of that Government found themselves having, in the words of Deputy Dr. Noel Browne, had the rug pulled from under them, sitting on their chairs, almost transfixed at their panic stations.
Is this last month?
They did not remain transfixed for too long. They were soon moving very quickly. They were told:
"For heaven's sake, go back to your Departments and think up some kind of a policy on Partition". The next public event of significance was the announcement of the dissolution of the Dáil, as reported in the daily papers of 5th February——
——a couple of days later. A meeting of the Government had taken place after 29th January at which the decision to dissolve the Dáil was taken and the decision to produce a Partition policy. Might I say a cynical decision and one designed to delude the Irish electorate? Deputy Cosgrave told us last Tuesday that that decision was taken in February. It was obviously taken some time between 1st and 5th February. It enabled the then Taoiseach, Mr. Costello, who had been in the Park on the previous Monday, the 4th, to advise the President to dissolve the Dáil, to provide an answer to the Fine Gael Ard-Fheis on 6th February to the Clann na Poblachta charge the previous week that there was no policy on Partition. This was done between a decision taken to dissolve the Dáil and produce a policy on Partition and I think it was one of the most notable and, if I might add, cynical examples of a long line of Fine Gael instant policies.
Go on and tell us what policy you have. That is the point.
I get very close to the bone, indeed, when I annoy Deputy John L. O'Sullivan. I will come to the question of the north if Deputy O'Sullivan will bear with me for just a moment. I am glad to say that in this respect many Deputies have expressed themselves well. Some particular themes have recurred and I should like to make a few remarks about these first. Deputies have asked what I mean by the expression in my speech on 11th July: "We stand on the brink of a great achievement".
(Cavan): Deputy Boland asked that.
So did Deputy Cruise-O'Brien. Incidentally, Deputy Boland referred to the general content of that speech as being unnecessarily abject. I regard my speech as one designed to promote in a realistic way the unity of our people and country in full accord with true republican principles. Let people describe what I say and do in any way they like, but I want to assure the House that I am not going to hang my head before anybody in presenting and pursuing this policy.
What is the great achievement?
I knew when I spoke on the 11th July that all the influences which could be exerted to maintain peace in the north two days later were being exercised by my Government as well as by the Governments in London and Belfast, by the leaders of the minority in the north and, let us be fair about it, by leaders of the majority. At that time Deputies will remember the high state of tension and anxiety that prevailed in the country. This determination among the three Governments, combined with the efforts of responsible community leaders, to avert a political disaster was already an achievement in the light of past experience.
However, I meant more than this. I also meant to indicate that if peace was preserved we would have begun to break the cycle of provocation, followed by violence, followed by more provocation and more violence. I think I can say tonight that developments since 13th July continue to move in a favourable direction. Many of the Deputies who have spoken in this debate will willingly agree that breaking this cycle is a necessary preliminary to the beginning of progress towards a peaceful solution of the Irish quarrel.
Deputy Boland commented on my use of the phrase "Irish quarrel", in my speech of 11th July. Obviously, the Deputy has read that speech carefully and I presume he will have seen that I specifically referred to and fixed the British Government with responsibility in the matter. I want to assure him that the Fianna Fáil policy, as I interpret it and as stated at the last Ard-Fheis, still stands. In this connection, I would say that a political party is a moribund and static one if in pursuing a policy it does not take account of changing circumstances and take advantage of new opportunities that passing decades will present while, at the same time, remaining true to the fundamental principles that inform that policy.
It has also been suggested that in my remarks about reforms in the northern society I was both patronising and speaking with tongue in cheek. I do not accept these assertions. Surely as Taoiseach I am expected to express the opinion of the Government on the status of reform in the north. And, if in doing so my remarks appear to suggest a way of dealing with these matters, I do not see this as patronising. If some people in the north are offended by being told that they run their society badly, and in some important respects, have done little as yet to change their system, it is for them to cure the condition rather than resent fair criticism.
On the question whether it was right for me to complain about others while we still have matters to correct, I would point out that our imperfections do not arise from deliberate discrimination and are not subject to the kind of criticism which not only I but Cameron, Hunt, the British Government and half of the world directed at the Stormont régime.
I would add that in my statement to the Dáil two days ago there were several references to the need to examine our own society and to supply solutions to difficulties, of which we are all well aware. I have said that society is constantly in a state of perfecting itself and that its instruments were Parliament and Government. Those Deputies who have pointed to particular matters in our internal situation and those who have pointed to difficulties in north-south relations will, I am sure, be glad to assist in correcting them.
Some Deputies have suggested that I am less concerned about violence done to Protestants in the north than to Catholics. This is utterly untrue. The House will remember when Protestants were killed in Belfast last June I expressed on behalf of the Government deep sympathy with their relatives. I deplore all violence in the north and death or injury to anyone.
At this stage I will refer to the visit the Minister for External Affairs made to the Falls Road—a visit that was intended to reassure the minority who had come under curfew and suffered casualties in the previous weekend. Let us not pretend that the majority in the north need the same kind of reassurance from us. If this is sectarianism, let people make the most out of it. Incidentally, the Minister for External Affairs in his London interview was asked whether he intended to show solidarity with the people in the north by his visit. Solidarity yes, but let us remember the leadership will still come from here.
(Cavan): He was the man who said he would like to have Deputy Haughey back in the Cabinet.
Outside this House there are others whose remarks also deserve attention. There is much that Major Chichester-Clark says which I find reasonable and acceptable. For example, last September he referred to himself as one of the elected representatives of a "closely-knit historic community". I recognise the general truth of Major Chichester-Clark's self-description.
In his capacity as a leader of a certain community, I am more than willing to recognise his sincerity and his particular place. His Government are entitled to the same kind of recognition in representing that community. I am willing to agree that he and his colleagues are facing the immensely difficult task of teaching some of the community they represent the need to come out of their isolation and to give up their domination of people who do not form any part of that closely-knit historic community. Any encouragement and help that I can give in this respect I shall give willingly and unconditionally. Major Chichester-Clark can rest assured that any influence I have on events in the north will continue to be deployed on the side of peace.
So far as constitutional responsibility is concerned, I am sure Major Chichester-Clark realises that the fact that unionism may claim to be the expression of the will of 900,000 people does not mean that a Unionist Government is the sole voice of all the people in the north. Not alone were 500,000 people in the Six Counties, who formed the majority in more than half the area of the Six Counties, not consulted fifty years ago about what their option would be; and not alone was it clear then but it is clear now that their option would not be for a Stormont Government, totally controlled by one part only of the population of the Six Counties; the behaviour of Unionist Governments towards them in the past fifty years has conferred no moral right on unionism to speak for them. I do not think it is sectarianism to say this.
It has been suggested that we should in some manner give some recognition to the Stormont Government, although I am not quite sure what was meant by that suggestion. From what I have said I think that Deputies should begin to realise that what we are prepared to recognise is the existence and strength of unionist sentiment among the northern majority. In doing so, we recognise the real situation of the Irish community as a whole. To add to this some kind of recognition of territorial legitimacy offends against nonunionist sentiment in the north as well as here and does nothing to solve the problem. Again, I repeat it is not sectarian to say this.
Such an attitude does not imply physical reconquest by us of the Six Counties nor disrespect for the closely-knit historic community of the area. Surely I have said enough already— most recently in my speech of 11th July—to show that neither my predecessors nor I have or had any wish to confront or destroy that community.
I often ask myself what the northern majority really want. No doubt some proportion of extremists want to continue in the old ways of intolerance and contempt for the rights of their neighbours. I do not believe this is true of Major Chichester-Clark's Government nor of the great majority of the people they represent. What then is their difficulty about joining with us in creating the kind of Irish society they and we could both be proud of? Surely it is obvious that this is the right thing to do, and the best thing to do, and the only way out of the errors of the past?
Above all, they need have no fear in a country whose sovereignty they would share, and in whose councils they would have a strong voice, of any interference with their religious and civil liberties. In this regard, the national majority should be very careful to listen to them and lean over backwards to give them reassurances. We are prepared to do this and to go a very long way in providing the kind of guarantees that reasonable men ought to accept. If they fear for their economic wellbeing, surely it is now clear that this is already in jeopardy? Surely it is also clear that a united Ireland would wish to safeguard the vitality of an area of immense importance to the economic health of the whole country?
Here again I would be prepared to go a very long way in negotiating the kind of agreement which would leave the northern economy at no risk. Britain has a role to play in such a negotiation and I am sure that North and South between them could find with Britain a useful solution. There is little point in Britain continuing to finance what many people would call social bankruptcy. Would it not be better for all of us to co-operate in a different endeavour? When we have solved our political problem, Ireland should quickly enjoy the economic standards common to Western Europe.
We have already shown in the 26 counties what can be done even from a very weak base. The EEC considers us capable of assuming the obligations of full membership of the Community. Do they fear, the northern majority— is it even conceivable—that some people have a spirit of revenge for the past? On this I have no doubt at all that I speak for all Irishmen in saying that an Irish Government would not, under any circumstances, countenance any such further crime against our nation.
Finally, is it not better that Belfast should partake in the sovereignty we enjoy here and the distinction which we have already secured for our nation in world affairs and to which our whole country could accede, than that Belfast should continue to be just a capital city in a troubled part of a province? In saying this, I do not for one moment disparage Britain or the British people with whom all Ireland will have no quarrel. I realise also the value of the cultural connection between the northern majority and Britain, and see no reason why this, too, could not be accommodated in a new Ireland.
I agree that realistic policy on our part cannot ignore the existence and strength of Unionist sentiment, nor do we wish to ignore these things. An Irish nation which takes the best from all our traditions, is a better thing than a divided country whose division is unnecessary and can bring out the worst in our traditions.
An Ireland united by peaceful means, by agreement, has a greater democratic validity than an imperfect solution found 50 years ago for the wrong Irish question. Everyone in this House agrees with an Ireland united by peaceful means. Those who do not want to come along this road have their choice, but there should be no prevarication about it.
I want to deal very briefly with the present bank strike and one aspect of it in particular. I do not know whether the Minister for Labour referred to it in any great detail but it appears——
He did. He covered the whole ground.
We want to hear about Deputy Boland and Deputy Blaney.
When I want advice from the Labour Party I will ask for it.
The Minister for Labour covered it adequately.
The Taoiseach has only five minutes left.
If Deputy O'Leary would listen he might learn something.
The crucial point now in the negotiations is whether or not people should be paid while they are on strike.
It is not a strike.
This is a principle I cannot concede.
The proper word should be used.
The Deputy should not shout.
It is not a strike.
I want to ask this: If this point is conceded that workers are to be paid for the period they are on strike, where will this crazy concept of industrial relations lead us to? I will defend the right of any person to withdraw his or her labour at any time as a last resort to redress a grievance, but I will not and could not condone or concede it to be right to be paid for the period he is out. He cannot have his cake and eat it. Nobody, no matter where he comes from, whether without or within, will be allowed to introduce this philosophy into our industrial relations code.
My first duty as Taoiseach is to ensure that the country will be governed wisely and efficiently, that the economic advance of this country will be sustained, that its cultural heritage will be protected and enhanced, and that our legitimate political aspirations, in line with true Republican principles, will be advanced in a peaceful and realistic way.
I am determined to do this.
The Taoiseach is late.
My second duty as Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party is to maintain the strength and unity of purpose of that party for the overall good of the country. Deputy O'Brien took me up on my calling Fianna Fáil the party of re-unification. It is indeed the party of re-unification.
We can claim that on the basis of our great tradition and great past and because of the fact that the party embraces a broader spectrum of the ordinary people of this country than any of the other two parties. This is the party most likely to bring about re-unification.
Of their own Party.
I said my second duty was to maintain the unity of purpose and strength of Fianna Fáil. The Opposition are poised, and are poised at all times——
And to hell with the country.
——to attack Fianna Fáil and that is fair enough, but it is a poor substitute for a policy.
What about the Taoiseach's smear campaign?
The only hope an Opposition has which calls itself a credible Opposition is to pounce on problems and wait like Micawber for something to turn up——
That is what the Taoiseach is doing.
——and try to take advantage of the transient difficulties of the Government Party.
That is the best euphemism I ever heard.
The country has now in office a cohesive——
A divided Government.
This is typical. They try to shout me down in the last couple of minutes. I did not interrupt anybody.
The country has now in office a cohesive and workmanlike Government supported by as resolute a party and organisation as any competent and confident Government would want. So long as I have the support, the strength and the influence—and I have these in abundance—I shall let nothing, no organisation, no opposition, no clique, no person no matter from where he comes, I shall let nobody assail or undermine the unity and strength of the Fianna Fáil Party.
- Aiken, Frank.
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- Blaney, Neil.
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- Gallagher, James.
- Geoghegan, John.
- Gibbons, Hugh.
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- O'Donnell, Tom.
- O'Donovan, John.
- O'Hara, Thomas.
- O'Higgins, Thomas F.
- Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
- Desmond, Barry.
- Dockrell, Henry P.
- Dockrell, Maurice E.
- Donegan, Patrick S.
- Donnellan, John.
- Dunne, Thomas.
- Enright, Thomas W.
- Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
- Finn, Martin.
- FitzGerald, Garret.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
- Flanagan, Oliver J.
- Fox, Billy.
- Governey, Desmond.
- Harte, Patrick D.
- Hogan, Patrick.
- Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
- Jones, Denis F.
- Kavanagh, Liam.
- Keating, Justin.
- Kenny, Henry.
- L'Estrange, Gerald.
- O'Leary, Michael.
- O'Reilly, Paddy.
- O'Sullivan, John L.
- Pattison, Séamus.
- Ryan, Richie.
- Spring, Dan.
- Taylor, Francis.
- Thornley, David.
- Timmins, Godfrey.
- Tully, James.