Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 13 Jul 1972

Vol. 262 No. 9

Committee on Finance. - Vote 3: Department of the Taoiseach.


Go ndeonófar suim nach mó ná £175,000 chun íochta an mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníochta i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1973 le haghaidh tuarastail agus costais Roinn an Taoisigh.

Usually, on the Estimate for the Department of the Taoiseach the economy generally and other general matters are debated and the substance of the Taoiseach's Estimate is not usually debated to any considerable extent. However, a feature of the Estimate this year is the subhead which relates to the Markpress contract providing for expenditure of £53,000. This sum covers both the contract fee and the expenses arising from the operation of a network service which is, at present, operating in London, Paris, Milan, Geneva, as well as the local office in Dublin. Since the date of the initial contract eight months ago, the total amount paid out of public funds was £35,000 approximately but this amount does not include the backlog of sums paid by the contractor on our account and not yet recouped to him by my Department.

The Markpress contract has been the subject of comment in this House on a number of occasions and one of the charges made has been that the State is not getting value for the money we spend. Quantifying value received is always a debatable exercise but I should like to tell the House that I have recently brought together an informal committee who will give advice, assistance and guidance in relation to the operation of the contract. The members of the committee all have experience in the information field. That is all I propose to say at this stage about the Estimate. Naturally, I shall in my reply tomorrow deal with any points any Deputies may raise in relation to the Estimate.

To proceed to the other aspects of this debate, I should first inform the House that on its adjournment at 5 p.m. tomorrow the House will rise until Wednesday, 25th October, 1972. I have already informed Members that this does not rule out the special recall of the House in the event of the Government deeming such recall necessary. I want to repeat my indication yesterday in that connection that I will remain in close contact with the Leaders of the two Opposition Parties.

The session of the Dáil which is now drawing to a close has witnessed a further unfolding of those events which will decisively shape the future of this nation. In some cases the developments have been happy and decisive, as was the endorsement by the Irish people of the decision to become a member of the European Economic Community. In others, the pattern has been one of continual change and anxiety as instanced by the troubled course of events in the North. Whether for good or ill, and whether in a decisive or a dimly perceived manner, each area has contributed its own portion. This is an appropriate time, therefore, to take stock of our present position and to indicate the desired course of future progress.

I propose first to deal with the EEC question. A year ago negotiations on entry terms were still in progress and while there was confidence that a successful outcome would emerge there were a number of major issues still to be resolved. In the event, our confidence proved fully justified for the terms subsequently agreed can be regarded as very satisfactory. It is not necessary to review these terms in any detail since they were fully debated and discussed in recent months but two noteworthy achievements of these negotiations may justifiably be recalled. One was the retention of the tax relief on export profits, which is a powerful incentive in the attraction of new industries to Ireland. The second was the special protocol for Ireland which gives formal recognition to the special problems of economic development which we face and which pledges Community support for achieving our development objectives. These special arrangements coupled with the guaranteed markets for agricultural products made available by the EEC Common Agricultural Policy provide a sound and attractive basis for the future development of both industry and agriculture.

Since the negotiations themselves were solely concerned with the terms of entry, it was understandable and, perhaps, inevitable that in the national debate prior to the Referendum in May, more attention would be paid to these immediate issues rather than to the wider and longer term consequences. Nonetheless, these more general questions did receive a welcome degree of examination and discussion.

The people, in recording their verdict on this question, did so after a full debate of the issues involved. Their verdict was a decisive endorsement of the policies pursued and the attitude adopted by the Government and the major political parties. Following the referendum the way is now clear to push ahead with the preparations for entry. So far as the Dáil is concerned one of the first items of business in the next session will be the European Communities Bill which will give legal effect to the decision to become a member. Work on other tasks, such as the selection of Irish personnel for the Community posts and the composition of the Irish delegation to the European Parliament will continue during the coming months. In the wider political field the Council of Ministers have been holding preparatory meetings for the proposed Summit Conference of the Heads of State or Government of member and applicant countries. It is becoming increasingly clear that decisions are required on the next phases of developing the Communities and outcome of these decisions could have important bearings on the course of our future development.

One such issue which has attracted considerable comment in recent weeks is that of Economic and Monetary Union. A timetable for achieving the first stages of such a union was agreed upon by the present member states in 1971 and was accepted by the applicant countries including Ireland. International monetary developments over the past year have both increased the emphasis on the specifically monetary aspects of this question and have retarded the formulation of detailed proposals for implementing the plans for economic and monetary union.

In the monetary sphere one of the steps agreed earlier this year was that the Ten States should narrow the extent to which the rates of exchange for their currencies can fluctuate. We supported this arrangement since, among other things, it facilitates the operation of the common agricultural policy of the Community. However, if the Community were to achieve, in effect, a system of fixed exchange rates among themselves, then some method other than changing the exchange rate must be used to deal with any economic imbalances which may arise between the Member States. In our view a comprehensive regional policy for the enlarged Community is an essential part of the measures necessary to deal with these economic imbalances. There is already a wide degree of agreement on this topic among the different States, but the Community has recognised the need to remedy structural and regional imbalances as being an important objective, and the first steps in setting out a detailed policy for the different areas of the Community have already been taken. It would be our desire to see further major progress in the formulation of the Community's regional policies in the coming year. It is our belief that securing the basis for harmonious development of the less-favoured regions will enable more rapid progress to be made towards economic and monetary union.

Apart from clarifying and strengthening its own internal economic arrangements, it will also be necessary for the enlarged Community to press ahead with the task of defining its policies and relationships with other States. It is probable that a Summit meeting would discuss the basis on which such policies would be formulated. Among the more urgent aspects of this topic is the question of trade with the United States, since the Community is due to undertake negotiations on this subject in 1973. Relationships with Japan and also with the less-developed countries are other topics which may be expected to acquire a degree of urgency. While it is unlikely that any major impact on the Irish economy would result from revised trading arrangements with other countries, there are some subject areas in these discussions in which we may be expected to have a special interest and which will accordingly receive our particular attention. Some of these questions are also of more general concern, so that, while we would not be pressing for any specific or unique solution, we would be anxious to see a generally satisfactory outcome produced. The Community's relationships with less developed countries, for example, fall into this category. There is a wide measure of agreement among the ten in recognising the need for more positive Community policies towards these countries, but, as yet, there is no consensus as to the precise scale of support or the actual forms which aid for these areas might take. Questions such as these ought to serve as an important reminder that although the initial emphasis may be on economic issues the Community ultimately embraces a much wider set of social and political questions.

The Community was born out of a desire for continuing peace. It is composed of like-minded democratic countries who seek to promote the prosperity and freedom of their peoples. As the Community evolves it will seek to strengthen its friendly relations with other countries so that it may become a more powerful force for peace and progress throughout the world. These are aims to which we fully subscribe and we will seek to play a full and positive role in their achievement.

An important part of the preparation for EEC membership is getting our firms and enterprises geared for the more competitive climate which they will then face. This leads to my second topic—the economic situation. The past year saw a gradual improvement in economic performance resulting in a gross rate of about 3 per cent for 1971. This can be regarded as moderately satisfactory given the continuing difficulties posed for some sectors by the unsettled situation in the North. A number of factors contributed to this improvement. One important element was the satisfactory working of the National Wage Agreement which served to slow down the rate of increase in prices and the number of days lost by industrial disputes. It is welcome to note that last year the number of days lost was about 270,000 compared with more than 1,000,000 days in 1970. In the case of prices the most recent figures show that the increase is now at an annual rate of about 6 per cent and compares favourably with the rate of about 9 per cent for 1971. This downward trend is expected to continue despite the recent increase in some food prices, so that for 1972 as a whole there should be a distinct improvement on the performance of the past two years.

A second factor which has contributed to the improved economic performance has been the budgetary policies pursued by the Government. Capital spending has been stepped up substantially in order to boost employment. The current budget saw major improvements in social welfare benefits and income tax reliefs. While these changes were made in order to protect and improve living standards of lower-income groups, they also released extra spending power into the economy and so helped to stimulate output and employment.

One welcome feature of this economic recovery is that it has been accompanied by improvement in our external trading position. For the 12 months ending in May, the import excess showed a reduction of £47 million by comparison with the 12 months ending May, 1971. This improved trade performance was partly due to higher prices for our agricultural exports, a factor which should continue to have beneficial impact in the coming months. This better trade performance, coupled with a large capital inflow, has resulted in a considerable increase in external reserves. At the end of May the reserves were over £400 millions compared with £380 millions at the end of 1971 and £290 millions at the end of 1970. The high capital inflow can be regarded as an indicator of foreign confidence in the strength and potential of the Irish economy, and in view of our entry to the EEC this trend may be expected to continue.

Despite the undoubted progress which has taken place over the past year, it is essential that a further improvement in economic performance be made.

The slowing down in the pace of inflation must be continued because even the most recent rate of increase of 6 per cent is unacceptably high in the light of experience both at home and abroad and its continuation would lead to a loss of exports and employment. Since the level of unemployment is already high, due to the continuation of the slow economic growth, coupled with the present halt to emigration, there is clearly a need not alone to preserve existing employment but to generate new jobs as rapidly as possible. The Government has acted, and will continue to act, where necessary to increase employment. I have already referred to the extra spending and budget reliefs introduced in recent months. Allied to this there can now, in the light of our EEC entry, be a determined drive to attract new industries into the country. These steps, in conjunction with the programmes for assisting industry to adapt to free trade, should produce a decided improvement in employment. But there are limits to the extent to which Government action by itself can lead to success in this area. Irrespective of any steps the Government might take it is fair to say, for example, that if the 1969-70 pattern of excessive pay increases and protracted industrial disputes had continued, it would have destroyed thousands of jobs and dissuaded any potential foreign investors from establishing factories here.

It is necessary to say this because we are now in a decisive phase for the course of wage rises during the coming year and it is important that the people, particularly the workers concerned, should understand what is at stake. All the evidence suggests that the present National Wage Agreement made an important contribution to slowing down inflation during the past year. Equally important, the data show that this curbing of wage and price rises did not mean any sacrifice in the rate of improvement in real wages and real living standards of workers. The reason for this is clear. A slower rate of increase in wages means in turn a lesser rise in prices and hence an improvement in real earnings. It is important to emphasise this point because there are some who believe that moderation in wage rises leads to a reduction in workers' living standards. This is just not so. Improvements in living standards are decided by the increases which take place in annual output. At the present time that means a rise of about 3 per cent to 4 per cent per annum. There is no method whereby this nation can vote itself a faster rate of increase than this. Consequently, when wages and salaries rise by more than this amount all that happens is that anything over 3 or 4 per cent is swallowed up in higher prices. Any one group may be able to gain a temporary advantage for themselves from a large pay rise but other groups will quickly follow and then price rises will just as quickly swallow this temporary advantage. The national wage agreement was designed to bring a halt to this pointless chase between higher prices and wages. Because of the undoubted benefits which it has brought both for workers and other sections of the community attempts are now being made to produce another such agreement to cover the coming year or so. It is the earnest wish of the Government that these efforts should prove successful. A reversion to free-for-all bargaining can only be expected to damage and disrupt the economy at this delicate phase in our affairs. In a free-for-all situation any attempt by some sectors to secure large pay rises would quickly prove self-defeating because other groups would quickly demand the same treatment and ultimately all would be made the poorer by the higher prices and loss of employment which would then follow. The argument advanced against national pay agreements that they remove the freedom of workers to seek improvements in their living standards and working conditions is not borne out by the fact. In particular, it should be emphasised that any one section or group of workers cannot successfully improve their pay differentials in comparison with other workers. Hence the apparent freedom of each group in a free-for-all situation is largely only a freedom to hurt other groups of workers and damage the economy in general.

This argument that freedom for individual bargaining is largely ineffective is one important reason for wishing to see a continuation of the National Wage Agreement. There is a second reason. As I have already indicated, and as is widely accepted, our economy is now at a delecate and decisive stage in its development. A wrong set of actions now on our part, coming on top of the other stresses to which it has been exposed, could set back the progress of the economy for years to come. If, on the other hand, we can act responsibly and decisively, there are reasonable prospects that substantial improvements in employment and living standards can take place, despite the various obstacles that lie in our path. In such a situation the Government are entitled to ask for, and are entitled to expect, the constructive support of all sections of the community. They are entitled too to point to the consequences of sectional behaviour and to demonstrate that the damage caused by economic strife is no less destructive, even if less dramatic, than that that resulting from other forms of conflict. The Government for their part can be expected to reciprocate mature and responsible action. The past year has shown that tackling problems in a constructive manner creates conditions in which progress can be achieved for all parties. There is in effect a virtuous circle, in which one positive step makes possible a second just as there is also a vicious circle in which one area of conflict engenders another.

Reference to conflict leads me to my third topic, that of events in the North. The question which faces our communities, North and South, and one which has been posed with increasing brutality and starkness over the past three years is whether the common development of our peoples will be dictated and shaped by violence and antidemocratic factions or whether it can grow peacefully from a mutual recognition of our common interests and a sharing of our common burdens. The coming months will decisively affect the answer to that question. It is because we care and care passionately, about the form which that answer may take that we must both voice our concern and our views and work constructively to bring our aims to fruition. The Irish Government have repeatedly over the years declared their abhorrence of violence and their opposition to the use of force as a means of achieving Irish unity. This is not just the policy of the Government Party. It is fully shared by the other two parties in Dáil Éireann. The unity we seek is a free and genuine union of those living in Ireland, based on mutual respect and tolerance, and guaranteed by a form or forms of government authority in Ireland providing for progressive improvements in our social, economic and cultural life in a just and peaceful environment.

Tragically, the environment in which the people of Northern Ireland have had to live for the past two years has been anything but just or peaceful. Their agony, indeed, has been beyond endurance. Killing and maiming, indiscriminate bombing and destruction, brutality, intimidation and humiliation, internment without trial, fear, distress and insecurity have been their lot. No one with any sense of humanity could want to see this go on. For the sake of the whole community who are suffering in this cauldron of violence all men and women who can bring any influence to bear in restoring peace and stability and re-creating a civilised and orderly framework must use that influence now. It is to be regretted that the recent truce should have been so shortlived and should have been marred by so many senseless killings. However, the apparent failure of this initial attempt must not impede the efforts to restore peace and sanity. This requires a generous and magnanimous approach. Risks must be taken for the sake of peace. So long as the British army remains, and it is hoped that this period will be as short as possible, its role should be to protect all and to harass none. All aggressiveness must be held firmly in check and the safety of individuals and property must be defended.

In this new situation those who resort to violence must be denied support and resources, and no person or section must be the subject of coercion or discrimination. When a peaceful climate of this nature has been created, the elected representatives of the community must come together to work out a new political framework in which they can act responsibly and effectively for those they represent. The questions that they will face are in the first instance a concern for the Northern people themselves. But they are also of major importance to us. The facts of geography and history demonstrate the strong and inseparable bonds between our communities, North and South.

There are four possibilities for the future form of political entity in the North. One of these is total integration with the UK. That is advocated by some but it would be unacceptable to a large body of opinion in the Six Counties as it would be unacceptable, too, to the people of the rest of Ireland. It would strengthen and perpetuate the terrifying impulse in some to seek through violence the achievement of the deep aspiration for a united Ireland which is held by the vast majority of Irishmen but which that vast majority want to achieve only by peaceful means and by agreement with their fellow-countrymen.

Another possibility is that of a complete break with Britain and the setting up of a completely separate State. This is termed the UDI solution. One can appreciate the sense of independence and enterprise from which this attitude springs, but again the question must be asked: is this desirable or possible? Again the answer must be "No". Such a step would clearly cause major social and economic upheaval. It would bring about a drastic fall in living standards. These in themselves need not necessarily be adequate arguments against such a move. We know that there are people and communities who are willing to pay such a price in order to secure the political framework they desire. We know that, unfortunately, this is not the only price that would have to be paid but there is no evidence that within the Northern community there is any widespread support for such an isolationist form of political unit.

A third possibility is to seek some amended form of Stormont administration which would provide both an adequate role for the minority and would create a realistic prospect of ending one-party rule. On the face of it such a development might appear to hold out the prospect of providing a stable and permanent solution to the question of Northern Ireland's political future. But would it? When the Northern State was created half a century ago neither the British nor the Irish people in general nor the Northern Unionists themselves believed that the arrangement was a permanent one. Nothing that has happened throughout this 50 years span and nothing in the present or future prospects gives any reason to alter that belief. Any amended Stormont administration should therefore be an interim step along the path to a harmonious, secure and lasting basis for the future development of the Northern community.

It is our conviction that this basis can be found only in a wholly Irish and fully Irish context. We ask the Northern people to seek their future development in partnership with us. We are not seeking to dominate a community that would be a minority in an over-all Irish context nor are we asking that they should surrender any of their traditions, values or loyalties. What we do ask is that they use their great qualities of courage, enterprise and independence in creating a new Ireland of which both they and we can be truly proud.

We do not ask them to forget or forgo their past but we ask them to accept that it is the past. Now is the time for Irish people, North and South, to make history again and not simply to endure it.

Recently, at the invitation of the quarterly publication Foreign Affairs, I took the opportunity to state in detail the Government's views about the origin of conflict in Ireland, the way to a solution of this vital problem, the means by which the interests involved should proceed and the terms on which the permanent solution can be based. There is a growing belief in Britain and in the North, as well as internationally, that the situation in the North cannot be solved in vacuo. That has been the consistent view of this Government. In the meantime I have taken and will continue to take such initiatives as are open to me. I have welcomed, and continue to welcome, the considered views of all the relevant parties, including those representative of Unionist opinion. Constitutional, legislative and other issues which might affect in a positive way Northern attitudes and North-South relations in every respect have been discussed and this process is one which I would wish to see continued and extended. It would be unrealistic to expect that the process of transforming political and social structures throughout the island could take place overnight, but it is not unrealistic to expect that there could be a speedy beginning to strengthening the many things that we share in common and the removal of those obstacles which separate us.

The British Government will receive all the help that the Irish Government can give them in measures taken to further these objectives. For our part we will expect their continuing support in creating a new Ireland free of the divisions and disabilities of the past in which Irishmen, irrespective of creed, class or conviction can live together constructively and at peace.

In a speech in Kingscourt last month I indicated my welcome to the efforts of Mr. Whitelaw to convene a conference of the people of Northern Ireland as a necessary step towards reconciliation. I regard this step not only as necessary but immediately necessary. I would hope that these talks would pave the way for the wider discussion to which I referred in Kingscourt because as I said in my Foreign Affairs article, Northern Ireland cannot be dealt with without reference to the Anglo-Irish relationship as a whole. I have said before that we cannot allow private armies to use the territory of the Republic to impose their will on the people of Northern Ireland.

It is about time that was said.

I have said it before and have acted on it.

The Taoiseach did nothing about them.

Neither will they be permitted to impose their will on the people of the Republic. It is sickening to hear those people who organise and lead such parades as was witnessed at the Curragh on Sunday last saying that they do so in the name of Republican democracy while using and permitting to be used the most undemocratic methods such as intimidation, stone-throwing, petrol bombing and even arson. But our democratic Parliament will not be intimidated by them nor will the defence forces and the police force set up and sustained by that democratic parliament to safeguard the rights and the interests of the people be intimidated by them.

I should like to pay tribute to the members of the Defence Forces and the Gardaí for the admirable restraint they displayed under considerable provocation not only last Sunday but on the many previous occasions when they had been confronted by factions that are, to say the least, unruly and irresponsible.


Hear, hear.

Events in Northern Ireland are now entering a critical phase. For whatever evil purposes, the men of violence are increasingly resorting to desperate and despicable acts. Such barbarism could rapidly lead to bloodshed on a horrifying scale. All right-thinking and responsible people must unite their efforts to ensure that this does not happen. The first and overriding imperative must be the restoration of peace. It is a sad reflection of the dangerous tensions which now prevail in the North that the 12th July which should be a day of happy celebration for its participants was this year the occasion for some to perpetrate still more killings and for others to preach harted and divisions. Yet we have been so accustomed to such appalling events that our sense of outrage and sympathy for the victims is allied to relief that even more terrible events did not take place. The knowledge that we have become so conditioned to violence must surely compel all sane people, especially all who profess to be Christians, to redouble their efforts to achieve peace.

To achieve this is no easy task as we all know. It calls for calmness and courage on the part of people subjected to agonising provocation. It calls for wise and enlightened statesmanship from the leaders of all communities. Above all, it calls for a generous understanding and sincere concern for fellow countrymen and fellow human beings. We extend our deep and sincere sympathy to the families and friends of those who have died in these tragic events. The loss of life, whether it be that of Catholic or Protestant, Irish or British, brings grief and sorrow. When that loss is avoidable and unnecessary the tragedy and suffering are intensified.

We have repeatedly conveyed, and will continue to convey, our concern about these matters to the British Government. In order to end this senseless killing, the advocates of violence must be shown that their efforts will not succeed. All sections of our communities, North and South, can help to produce that result. For some it requires that they overcome the urge to retaliation which is born of pain and loss; for others it means a refusal to be cowed or intimidated by the fomentors of strife. For all of us it demands that we speak out clearly and dispel any lingering romanticism or idealism which may surround this violence.

The crisis in the North is being sustained and aggravated by fear. In particular, the Northern Protestants fear that they will be forced into a united Ireland willy-nilly in a matter of months. I have spoken before of a comprehensive Irish society in which we can all share as equals. I know that this is the wish of every Member of the House; I know that I speak for all Members of the House and for the parties in the House, representative as they are of the great majority of the people of Ireland, when I say that we share an imperishable aspiration for a united Ireland and that we want to achieve this only in peace and by agreement with our fellow countrymen. We therefore declare once again our abhorrence of violence and our opposition to the use of force as a means of achieving political ends whether for or against the principle of a united Ireland. The unity we seek is a genuine union based on consent and mutual respect and tolerance. We realise, regrettably and inevitably for many reasons—including the need to build up trust and reconciliation— that the aim of a united Ireland, an Ireland united by agreement, may take many years to accomplish but this is the only basis on which it is intended to proceed.

In the meantime we must accept that there must be in Northern Ireland a form of regional administration which will enable the whole community there to live and work together in peace while leaving the door open to an approach by majority consent to the concept of a new, united Ireland. The urgent concern of the people of this State and of us, their representatives, is that the catastrophe of civil conflict in Northern Ireland be averted and conditions established which will enable all the people in Northern Ireland to work together in peace and justice for their social and economic progress.

This end-of-session debate occurs in what we now come to accept as one of these annual crisis situations. It is right to say that in that situation, as it has existed now for three years, the co-operation of the Opposition with the Government has been unsurpassed in any democracy ancient or modern. It has won the admiration of our opponents and the Press, if at times it dismayed our friends by its magnanimity. But having consistently expressed our support for the necessary measures to maintain law and order and vindicate the institutions of State it is, at least, satisfactory to know from the Taoiseach's last announcement on behalf of the Government that they have arrived, after a slow and tortuous journey at the present position which, on that matter, is similar to ours.

I have on many occasions, going back for years, asserted and repeated our absolute commitment to the maintenance of the democratic rights that have been established in this country and if it is necessary now—perhaps it is—to repeat our commitment and our unqualified support for that situation, we do so in the shadow of the appalling position in the North of Ireland and in the aftermath of recent events at the Curragh and elsewhere.

It is, indeed, obvious in our conditions that freedom can be lost from within a country as well as by attacks by outside forces. Therefore, it is necessary then to ensure that public opinion is properly and clearly led, and must come out unequivocally against those who seek to deprive our citizens of their rights. The sacrifices of previous generations were too great for our people today to surrender to subversive elements within our country what our forebears fought so tenaciously to win from foreign invaders.

This has to be made absolutely clear and this party have repeated it ad nauseam, indeed, at times to such an extent that the repetition became tedious for those who had to make the statement and tedious for some of those who had to listen as well. This goes to the very root of our democratic system because involved in it are the very institutions which were established to maintain the rights of the weak rather than the strong, the old and the infirm and the young rather than those who are capable of looking after themselves. I want to say again as emphatically as possible that we have no sympathy for those people. They will get no sympathy verbal or otherwise from us and they need expect none by calling late at night or early in the morning to the houses of Deputies of this party seeking recognition or sympathy. It is not here and it will not be given to them. The behaviour at the Curragh last week was a disgrace to any people who claim or allege that they speak in the name of some form of republicanism.

Hear, hear.

The Army of this State is the Army of the Irish people. Our soldiers are the soldiers of the Irish nation supported at considerable sacrifice by the people through the ballot boxes. The men and women of the Garda are the guardians of the peace, again established by the people and supported through the ballot boxes. There can be no doubt whatever about our actions in this matter or our rejection of the aims and attempts of those people to usurp authority.

This matter was referred to on many occasions recently and was put quite clearly in a leading article in the Irish Independent on Monday last. It referred to one speaker who said that the aim of people like him was to achieve a democratic republic. What form of democracy is it in which intimidation and force and arson are used, and attacks are made on the people who are charged by the nation to defend it on the one hand and to ensure the preservation of peace on the other hand? I said recently that the referendum decision was more than a decision to join the EEC. It went further than that. This is no reflection on the attitude adopted by elected representatives who opposed EEC membership. The decision in the referendum was an emphatic rejection of those who sought to impose their views on the community through intimidation or other unauthorised or irregular or illegal methods.

The Irish Independent article concluded that it is customary and certainly proper to acknowledge the sincerity of people with minority views. We can speak with some authority on that because we have been in a minority for a considerable time. Whether we were in a majority or a minority we accepted the will of the electorate. The leading article asks: “Is it not time then that the minority acknowledged the feelings of the majority— that, as far as systems go they want the status quo maintained? Of course, they want the democratic system maintained.” Our only anxiety in this party has been at the fact that the Government were so lethargic in taking effective action to deal with this situation. We have been more than willing to co-operate in every necessary measure and every expression of condemnation of this form of activity, but that did not blind us to the fact that the delay in establishing the special criminal court was inexcusable. The only thing that can be said about its establishment is that it is better late than never. At present it appears to be working more effectively than some earlier efforts at ensuring that those who flouted the law would not escape through legal or other technicalities.

Hear, hear.

I have spoken about this on many occasions and made our position so clear that it is unnecessary at this stage, when other matters have to be dealt with as well, to dwell unduly long on the matter, but I want to say a few words about the present position in the North and the deterioration in the situation in the past week or so. It is time for all of us, not only in this House but outside it also—and those who are endeavouring to foment trouble and cause dissention by their tactics and create disruption in the efforts to achieve peace—to say what it is we want. Can those who press on with a campaign of bombing and shooting and murder tell the ordinary Irish people in simple language what their aim is and what they are endeavouring to accomplish? This discussion must now be carried on, not in the form of abstract theory, but in terms of real problems for millions of men, women and children living in every part of Ireland.

We are entitled to know, and the people are entitled to know, if we are not to have peace why we are not to have peace. If war is to be declared, it can only be declared by the established Parliament responsible to and elected by the people. There can be absolutely no shadow of doubt about this. No men in this country, no matter what motives of patriotism inspire them, or what spurious mantle of patriotism others adopt, have the right to perpetrate war against any section in this country in the name of the Irish people. Nobody. There can be no doubt whatever on that issue. We have repeatedly made our attitude clear on this matter. We seek the reunification of this country by peaceful means. We seek the reunification of this country on the basis of agreement and co-operation.

We have, at great political cost to both individuals and the Party which we represent, suffered the odium of criticism and the odium of epithets of abuse because of our determination and dedication to that concept that there cannot be unity in this country except by agreement but we have said, and it is a fact, that when the Government of Ireland Act was passed by the British in 1920, section 2 of that Act referred specifically to the idea enshrined in it, accepted by Catholics and Protestants, that it was with a view to the eventual establishment of a parliament for the whole of Ireland. But, the achievement of that must be by peaceful means and not by force or intimidation or violence from one side or section endeavouring to coerce or intimidate or force the other side.

We, as I have said, committed ourselves to that at the cost at times of transient political advantage. The policy that we supported and the objectives which we laid down and have consistently followed are now accepted and recognised as the right ones.

It has not been easy. Worthy causes are seldom easy of attainment. It has not been easy to get that view accepted or easy or at times agreeable to have to push it forward in the manner in which we believed it should have been done. It is at this particular juncture in our affairs necessary to restate that and to indicate again to the Protestants in the Six Counties that so far as the majority of elected public representatives reflecting the vast majority of the people of this State are concerned there would be no attempt to force them into a situation against their wishes or to coerce them into conditions unacceptable to their views. That, at the same time, does not mean that we will not press for justice for the minority, for the justice that has been denied to them over the last 50 years and that has in recent years, because of their reaction against the injustice, caused so much suffering and bloodshed.

We must extend our sympathy to all fellow Irishmen and their families in the North of Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, but we must do more than that; we must urge that the efforts being made by the recent British Government decisions get a chance to work, to work in conditions in which rational discussions are possible between the authorised elected representatives of all sections in the North. The recent decisions endeavoured to introduce reforms which would lay the foundations for a more democratic administration, which could lead to ultimate reconciliation and the ending of partition but the resumption of bombing and violence only postpones the peace and reconciliation for which so many strive.

I think it is an advance that the Government here are now apparently unequivocally committed and have made it clear by recent actions, fortified by the decision in the referendum and with the emphatic and clear support of this party and other elected representatives, that there can be no toleration of any attempt in this State and no support for any efforts in the North of Ireland to use force or violence to achieve the aims of peaceful reconciliation.

This debate coming at the present juncture in our affairs and in the shadow of the appalling situation in the North at least re-expresses the commitment of this House and the commitment of the Irish people to these aims and objectives.

This particular discussion at the end of a session and on the Adjournment, as well as dealing with this matter and the Taoiseach's Estimate, covers a number of matters that are broadly concerned with Government policy. Because of the preoccupation with the problem of the North of Ireland and the emphasis on the need to maintain the institutions of State here and to ensure that the law is enforced and upheld, other matters have received less attention than, obviously, is necessary and, as a result, many matters have not been dealt with effectively and efficiently.

The present discussions that are taking place to secure a national wage agreement are, I believe, important from the point of view of ensuring that the rise in prices and the serious effect of inflation does not worsen the situation for every section of the community but particularly for the weaker sections. I detected some note of complacency in what the Taoiseach said when he referred to the fact that recent price rises had fallen from the 8 per cent or 10 per cent that had become common in the last couple of years to about 6 per cent. One is entitled to ask for how long this is going to last.

During the past few weeks, and particularly yesterday, this House has been devoting a great deal of time to the problem of the proposed introduction of the value-added tax. This tax has been debated so fully that it is only necessary to deal with major effects, but we are entitled to consider the effects of the introduction of this tax in the light of what happened when decimalisation occurred. The introduction of decimalisation meant an extraordinary increase in prices. I referred to that at the time, and statistics and facts published since confirmed the situation that developed.

When turnover tax was first introduced some years ago it was stated that it would not be possible to exclude food. Later when the wholesale tax was introduced certain food items were excluded from it. now with the proposed introduction of VAT food is again included. Now is the time, before this tax is introduced and when it is still possible to take action to prevent this, for this House and the country to be aware of the consequences. If VAT is introduced in its present form it will jeopardise any national wage agreement that may be agreed; or, alternatively, any national wage agreement that is entered into now must take cognisance of the proposed introduction of VAT at a later stage. In either event it cannot be disguised that the introduction of VAT covering food will inevitably mean a substantial increase in costs, at a time when every local authority, every health authority, every individual, is feeling the effect of rising prices.

It is true that some of the price rises recently have shown a slight drop compared with the earlier increases, but they cannot continue to rise at the same level all the time, and experience shows that the immediate reaction to price increases after a change of system is always more severe than when the levelling off period occurs. However, this is coming at a time when there is a very high level of unemployment not only in the urban areas but in rural areas. It has become customary in recent times to describe these as redundancies, but whether people are unemployed or redundant they are out of work, and this also affects the problem of getting people who are redundant in a particular type of employment, or who are unemployed as a result of changes, retrained for new work. It is important from the point of view of the national economy that the country should be aware of the dangers involved in including food in VAT.

This year members of the health authorities have found a tremendous problem in meeting the increased rate demand. Irrespective of which party they belong to members of every local authority are dissatisfied with the effect of the operation of the new health boards, but leaving these administrative or structural matters aside for the moment, this year the rise in rates due to health charges alone amounts to £6 million. The Minister for Health claimed credit that if it had not been for the introduction of the special subvention of £3 million from the Exchequer, all the £6 million would have fallen on ratepayers.

The Government have been preoccupied not only with the North but with their own internal problems, and there is no use in disguising it. This was brought forcibly before me recently, and before others when there were the celebrations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Garda Síochána. Two of the people who entered the church for the service at the same time as I did were Ministers who had been dropped from the present Government; both of them had for a period been Minister for Justice. At least it was possible for all of us to pray together. That situation has persisted and has continued up to the present, and there is no use in disguising the fact. This Government have failed to take a decision in respect of health services and health administration. Throughout this country not merely are health boards and health authorities finding it difficult to get the doctors to provide the services, but because of the conditions laid down it is impossible to attract to these institutions people of the quality and calibre necessary.

The other major area in which there has been a failure of the Government to act properly and to secure the confidence of all concerned is in respect of education. This has been so serious that many of us have expressed our concern about it on a number of occasions.

The Chair wishes to point out that Deputies have 40 minutes in which to speak and that the Deputy in posession is due to finish at 11.58.

The question of education has in recent years been in the forefront of discussion here but because, as I said, of the impact of events in the North, it has been overshadowed as regards the amount of meaningful debate that has taken place about the system. Our educational system is in need of change and reform but these changes and reforms must, and should only be, made after full discussion with all interested parties, parents, religious orders of all denominations, teachers and any other person qualified or directly concerned, such as school committees and vocational committees. This week the subject has been once more in the forefront of comment by those concerned. It is, I think, appropriate that on this particular topic we should recognise that those who comment have no political or party axe to grind. The educational committee of the bishops after their meeting in Maynooth issued a statement in which they said, as reported in the Irish Independent of 10th July, that the time had come for the Department to publish clearly and comprehensively its plans and policies for post-primary education.

The same paper carried a letter from the headmaster of Gonzaga College in Dublin. Recently there were two or three letters or statements made by supporters of both day and boarding schools commenting on the situation. I need not read the whole letter but some paragraphs are of significance, of particular significance taken in conjuction with the statement issued at the bishops' meeting at Maynooth and with the statements of representatives of the Protestant Churches and of teachers. The letter refers to the problem that has arisen over the pupil/teacher ratio. Every Deputy, certainly every Deputy in constituencies which have increased in size because of new housing, has been approached by teachers, by parents and the supporters of these schools about the problems that have arisen for them. This, again, is adverted to in this particular letter and in other comments and statements.

The particular reference in this letter is to a statement issued by the Government Information Bureau on 3rd July on behalf of the Minister for Education in which the Minister "trusted that the general public would weigh the facts in the statement against the type of statement and comment to which they had recently been subjected". This letter deals with each point in that statement and refutes the points made.

That parents in many areas are now expressing themselves in favour of community schools shows not only are they deeply concerned with the future of their children but that they fully realise that access to post-primary education is one thing but that if educational opportunity means anything it means access to the right type of post-primary education.

The letter asks:

What parents? In what areas? Where are they expressing themselves? They have been strangely silent. Parents, teachers, managers, as reported in the Press, have given an unqualified "No" to Community schools. Witness the reports of meeting after meeting over recent months.

But what is happening? The Department has now excluded the press, and to a large extent, the parents, from all such meetings and it is ruthlessly engaged in a massive bullying campaign, behind closed doors, which will result in a bulldozing through of its national blueprint and panacea for all educational ills—the Community School. The sudden "knowledge" of the parents and the deep concern of the Department for the students under its care are really breathtaking and shattering.

The final paragraph of the letter reads:

The dishonesty of the statement from the Government Information Bureau needs no further elaboration. It should alert the parents of Ireland as to exactly what to expect from a Department that can furnish such a statement to the Bureau.

This is, I believe, one of the major issues that has been neglected. Not merely has it been neglected but the discussions that have taken place have been valueless because of the attitude adopted by the Department. This week there was a conference, not reported, in Galway at which a representative frm Norway attended. The meeting was presided over by an official of the Department and that representative from Norway said at that meeting that in Norway they had had to retrace their steps. They had to re-open schools that had been closed. Not only that, but decisions taken without consultation with the parents and the teachers in the areas affected had had to be reversed; they had to retrace their steps and re-think their attitudes.

We are, at least, now alerted to the dangers of the situation and the time has come when neither parents nor teachers will accept diktats from some remote character in the Department of Education, issued without consultation. It must be recognised that every section of the community is concerned to see a system in which it is possible for religious of all denominations to continue running their schools as they have been running them and a system in which the valuable work done by vocational committees and vocational teachers can continue on the basis that, if there are to be changes, then these changes can be made only after full and proper consultation between the various groups concerned.

The Deputy has one minute.

One matter I should like to mention is the extraordinary delay in introducing the Planning Appeals Bill. This has been under discussion here for some years and we have again put down a Bill because of our concern over the way in which planning appeals are decided behind closed doors, with no right of access in many cases to those who decide; the person who decides in the present situation is, of course, the Minister for Local Government. We believe the introduction of such a Bill is an urgent matter in order to avoid abuse.

There is then the question of the national archives. This matter was raised here by way of Parliamentary question and the Minister for Health, answering for the Taoiseach, said that certain discussions were taking place. Earlier the Minister for Education indicated that some inter-departmental group was working on this. I was concerned to discover that, although the Ministers and Secretaries Act provides for the national archives being under the control of the Taoiseach, his Department had no representation on this committee. Now this is an important matter and it was highlighted by the decision of the Benchers in the Kings Inns to sell certain books and papers. This is a matter that should be discussed between the representatives of the bodies concerned, the representatives of libraries and other institutions of learning as well as the Benchers of the Kings Inns and representatives of the National Library.

The Taoiseach mentioned that a committee had been appointed to advise the Markpress Agency. i should like to know who the members of the committee are and what particular qualifications they have. The debate on this Estimate has to be curtailed because of the time factor but, so far as this party is concerned, we are concerned at the fact that so many major issues have suffered from inadequate attention in that they have been dealt with by the Government, but we welcome the decision of the Government to ensure that the institutions of the State will be protected. We are glad that the Government's attitude on this matter is now clear and that it corresponds to the view that we have expressed during the years on the maintenance of law and order and on the vindication of the parliament of the people and the institutions responsible to that Parliament in the name of the people.

The Taoiseach has singled out, rightly, three different points for the purpose of discussion during this adjournment debate. I had intended also to deal with these three particular aspects of the economy and of the state of the nation. The Taoiseach has said that the House will resume on the 25th October but has made the proviso that the House could be recalled in certain circumstances in consultation with the Leaders of the Opposition Parties. Perhaps the Taoiseach would tell us also when the referendum for the granting of votes at 18 will be held.

The Taoiseach talked about the EEC. So far as my party are concerned I wish to put it on the record of the House, although I said it elsewhere, that although we campaigned as best we could against the membership of this country of the EEC on the terms negotiated, we accepted the verdict of the people. This is our position and will continue to be our position for as long as we are members of the EEC.

I know it has not been intended but it has been said that those who opposed entry under the terms negotiated by the Government, engaged in intimidation. Our campaign was one of logical argument on radio, television and in the public press. We did a great service to this country in carrying out that sort of campaign because if the three parties in the House were to have said merely "Me too", such attitude would not have done any good to democracy and certainly it would not have done the country any good and it would not have presented to the people the other side of the picture which is a reality.

In respect of the campaign and of the claims that were made for full membership of the EEC, there is now less optimism among those who advocated fully our joining the Community. For instance, the Leader of the farmers' organisation and the Taoiseach issued warnings immediately after the result was made known. So far as the farmers' organisation were concerned there was then not the same optimism for the future prospects of the small and middle-sized farmers. In respect of industry, the Taoiseach, about a week later, did not reverse his position completely but warned that many of the existing industries were vulnerable. It is a pity he was not so direct before the referendum so that the people would have had the full picture.

We will be concerned within the Community as we expressed concern during the campaign, for the implementation of a regional policy. We will be concerned, as we have been always, with the future relationship with the Community and the underdeveloped countries of the world. In particular, in the European Parliament and in this Parliament we will insist that advantage be taken of the protocol in respect of Irish industry, vague though that protocol may be, in order to safeguard Irish industry and Irish jobs. Finally on the EEC may I repeat that we accept the verdict of the people which was given in a democratic fashion and that we will work so far as we can for the benefit of this country and its people.

I am afraid I could not share the same degree of optimism as the Taoiseach in regard to the economy because as has been said, the economy has been neglected, not deliberately but by reason of events in the North and by reason also of the internal difficulties of Fianna Fáil. So far as unemployment is concerned I do not think there should have been the complacency that there was, particularly during last winter when during a long period there was a record for unemployment. Indeed, at present the figure is still high and compares very unfavourably with last year. Although this is the position there is not the degree of urgency that there should be in so far as the Ministers for Industry and Commerce and Finance and the Taoiseach are concerned. At the moment there are 68,500 people unemployed and who are depending on the social welfare benefits available to them. There has been no improvement in respect of the redundancy situation. Between January and May of this year there were a further 2,698 redundancies. Prices, to which I shall refer again, have skyrocketted. This is one of the areas which has been neglected completely by the Government. What can one say about the balance of payments except that it appears that this year again there will be a record in that respect?

Again the Taoiseach appears to be complacent about our economic growth which he says in this year is estimated to be 3 per cent as against 3 per cent last year and 1.5 per cent in 1970. This is not a good reflection on the Government or on the First, Second or Third Programmes for Economic Expansion in respect of which the Government were so optimistic.

The tourist industry is facing complete disaster this year. Anybody who has been in any part of the country will have realised very quickly that there has been a collapse in the industry to the detriment of the economy and, of course, to those unfortunate people who are engaged in the industry. On occasions like this the Taoiseach is inclined to assure us that the country is in good hands and that we need have no worries. We have very many worries, the principle one being the situation in the North of Ireland but there are other worries which cannot be enumerated within the limited time at our disposal.

However, I say to the Government that they should not regard the coming ten weeks or three months as a virtual holiday. This period is regarded by them as a respite from their internal difficulties and from the difficulties that they have in Dáil Éireann. I suggest that in so far as the aspects of the economy to which I have referred are concerned, the Government must be alert and must try to ensure that 1972 will not be the disastrous year that it has the appearance of being now. Urgent measures must be taken.

As a trade unionist I am reluctant to talk in any great detail on the national wage agreement because since negotiations are taking place, we should regard the matter to a large extent as being sub judice. Nothing should be said here that might disrupt the negotiations that are in progress or that would antagonise one side or the other. Suffice it for me to say that so far as the national wage agreement is concerned, it is desirable in principle. I will not say that the current agreement has been ideal but it has worked reasonably well. So far as the one now being negotiated is concerned there was failure to get agreement by the trade unions who rejected the terms proposed as a result of discussions between the employers and the employees.

At last week's conference of the ICTU, the trade unions, by a big majority, decided to go back to the conference table. They should be applauded for making this one last effort to try to ensure that there would be some regularity in the negotiation of wage increases and fringe benefits. It was the desire of the huge majority there to make another effort to reach agreement. I do not know what the outcome will be but wages and the national wage agreements are not matters to be left entirely between unions and employers.

At a function I attended recently —whether public or private I do not know—there was no report of it in the newspapers—I heard a Minister of State describe the three sections of the country as the employers', employees' and the Government, in the context of wages. He gave the impression that as regards negotiation of a national wage agreement it was a matter entirely between unions and employers. Far from it. I do not think the Government can lightly dismiss their responsibility in the matter.

One of the greatest factors operating on the minds of workers at present is instability, not necessarily now, but especially in the future. They are vitally concerned with matters over which the Government have control and for which they have absolute responsibility. To mention one, we have prices; a second is EEC membership and the effect on pay packets of these two. The Government have responsibility in both areas. The Taoiseach or the Tánaiste should not think that I am asking, or even hinting, that a Prices and Incomes Bill should be reintroduced. This would be vigorously opposed by this party and the trade union movement.

There are other factors for which the Government have responsibility in regard to negotiating incomes, salaries or wages. There is the question of social welfare benefits and the burning question of differential rents. The Government cannot evade responsibility there because all these are factors. Wages buy food and clothes and pay rent. It is deplorable that the Minister for Local Government, in a circular of February, 1969, I think, permitted local authorities, meaning county or city managers, to increase rents by up to 25p per week. People who could not be regarded as agitators or troublemakers, tenants of corporation houses, are deeply concerned about the inequity of the rents being charged at present and there is a countrywide movement of bitter resentment against the increases that have been applied.

The manner in which differential rents are being operated by county and city managers is resented and if the Government do not come to terms with these people they will find themselves in serious trouble, to the detriment of the economy and local authority finances. I particularly want to stress in regard to the national wage agreement that the Government cannot stand idly by; they must be concerned in these vital matters of prices, effect of EEC membership, social welfare benefits and the manner in which differential rents are operated.

The value-added tax in the context of the EEC is and will be uppermost in the minds of those negotiating at present and of those on whose behalf they are negotiating. The Government could have done well by not applying VAT to food. I do not want to go into the arguments now; they were certainly made in a very detailed way by my colleagues from these benches last night but, unfortunately, were met with the rejection by the Minister for Finance of the proposal to exempt food from VAT. VAT will mean inevitably an increase in prices and not necessarily by the proposed percentage tax on food, which is to be fixed at the unusual figure of 5.26. I believe, and there is evidence of this in past experience, that the tax will be more than the statutory level of 5.26 per cent and this will lead to an increase in the price index. The idea of taxing food, in any case, is repugnant to me as it was when the turnover tax was also applied to food and it is extraordinary that it should be applied in such a way that there will not merely be an increase of 5.26 per cent but in very many cases a greater increase than that. We saw this in the transfer from the old coinage to decimal currency which was responsible for a large portion of the increase in prices, particularly food prices, in the past 18 months or so.

Also in the minds of the negotiators of a national wage agreement will be fear of devaluation of the British £ which will be a factor in price increases. All these factors lead to instability and work against the national wage agreement and against any kind of agreement in future. If there is to be what is described as a free-for-all— I do not like the phrase, I prefer to say free collective bargaining—the Government will have to share responsibility.

Prices have gone entirely mad. We need only refer to our wives or those who shop to know that this is a fact. Even though we have had a national wage agreement for the past 18 months there is a tremendous variation in food prices, a variation described by the National Prices Commission in their monthly report No. 8 as a difference of 8 per cent between the lowest and highest centres. We had some Bills which we were told were intended to control prices but the present situation shows there has not been a genuine attempt by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to provide any control.

The Minister for Finance said last night that it could not be done.

The National Prices Commission, in its May Report, recommended that there should be a revised Retail Price Food Display Order, and that this should operate from 1st July, 1972. I have not been around the shopping centres very much but it would amaze me if I saw outside every shop this display showing what prices should be because, as I have said, prices seem to have gone mad and have driven the housewives mad also, not alone the increases but the differences in the prices of which we read in the newspapers in the past week. So far as the Government are concerned in regard to prices I believe the attack must be made on food. There must be a genuine effort to ensure that the people will get food at the proper price and get proper value for what they pay.

From June, 1971, to June, 1972, the consumer price index rose by 8 per cent but the food element in that index rose by 11 per cent. Needless to remark the housewife is concerned about this. She may put off the purchase of a new dress, or a new suit, or a piece of linoleum, but people must eat. That is why I say that the focus of attention by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his officials must be on the control of food prices. The National Prices Commission are doing a reasonably good job but, if the Government do not act on their recommendations, they may as well be idle and they will be as ineffective as the NIEC were.

The other item I want to talk about is the North. Every time we have a debate like this, inevitably we say that the position has completely changed. It has changed since we had the last major debate on the North. We have had the prorogation of Stormont. When the news came that Stormont was to be prorogued many people thought that was the end and we would have peace. Many unfortunate people thought it was the end of the Unionist regime and the Unionist Party, and that unity was around the corner. We did not think so, and we said that at the time.

We also had the appointment of the Secretary of State, Mr. William Whitelaw. We had the appointment of the Advisory Commission. Since the advent of Mr. Whitelaw we had the release of a certain number of internees. We also had the emergence of Vanguard and the emergence of the Ulster Defence Association. In this we saw the beginning of what we predicted, the beginning of a backlash. Their training activities which we saw on television and in newspapers, and heard described on radio, were frightening. I wonder did they frighten enough people. I wonder did they convince enough people that there is the reality of a Protestant backlash against atrocities committed in the province over the past three years.

The prorogation of Stormont was, I am sure, a bitter blow to the Unionists. We are pleased that it was prorogued, but we cannot minimise the bitter blow it was to those who regarded it as the seat of power for them for such a long time. The situation has changed. Many things have happened. We have had the truce by the Provisional IRA. There was the awful experience of the truce being implemented only from the minute after the determined time. It is tragic and horrible to think that, right up to the minute of the truce, people were killed, there were massive explosions, people were maimed and people lost their limbs.

I did not believe that the truce was the beginning of the end. I did not believe that it was the beginning of peace. During the truce we still had the assassinations by both sides. We had the movement of two communities into their own areas equalled only by the movement of people in August, 1969. We had a further alienation of the two communities. We had Bloody Sunday and the murder of 13 people in Derry. All those things have made the situation far more serious than it has ever been since 1968.

I wonder do people realise that this is happening here in our own country. I wonder what were the feelings of people who saw the funeral of the Derry victims. I wonder what were the feelings of the Protestant father who marched between the hearses carrying his two sons a week or so ago. I believe that the situation in Ulster is now at its worst point, because no life is safe. Some people in the South thought that the truce was the beginning of peace, but we did not. I wonder do the people in the South really appreciate how serious the situation is. I think many of them are living in a fool's paradise and that they are under the impression that this is not happening in Ireland at all but in Vietnam or in some other country thousands of miles away.

The politicians in the North and the South who have been elected by the people must be honest as leaders of the people and must speak out clearly and loudly. The Catholic leaders must be loud in their denunciations of violence and their insistence that violence will not bring unity. From the other side there must be a declaration that violence will not bring about the restoration of Stormont and Unionist domination there. Violence can only produce hate and loss of life. The vast majority of the Catholics and the Protestants in the North want peace. Peace is the prerequisite for justice and equality, but peace does not necessarily mean that unity is around the corner.

Appeals for the ending of violence, whether by bombing, or sniping or assassination, are of no avail if they are not accompanied by action. The question which has bedevilled us all on both sides of the House is: what sort of action? It appears that the two communities are miles apart. When I look at television and see John Hume in discussion with Paisley, or when I see other members of the SDLP talking to those who are regarded as extreme Unionists, I am hopeful. The discussion is short and there never seems to be a conclusion, but the one hope is that they talk together even though they may disagree.

They should get around the conference table without any preconditions. I know and they know that the aspirations of each group will not be fully realised but they must also realise that sacrifices must be made on both sides to stop the madness of killing and to allay the awful fears of the majority who want peace. Unless this is done, the field is left to the men of violence on both sides, and victory will go to those who have the most guns, and who kill the most, and bomb the most. Unless the political will is there on both sides to achieve peace based on justice, no formula, no gimmick, and no publicity stunt will succeed, and we will be left with the law of the jungle, and the innocent will suffer.

It was suggested when Mr. Whitelaw was appointed as Secretary of State for the North that there would be periodic plebiscites on the question of unity. There is a suggestion now that one will be held soon. I would not be enthusiastic about it to say the least of it. I think I know what the result will be. Any citizen of this State, North or South, if he is honest, knows what the result would be. It would be meaningless to hold a plebiscite. I believe there would be intimidation. I know about the secrecy of the ballot, but I still believe there would be intimidation.

To our disgrace we have not had enough contact with people from the North, not only in the past three years, but over the past 50 years. From talking to them I believe what they want most is peace. Rather than a plebiscite on unity I think Mr. Whitelaw or the British Government would be better employed in having a plebiscite on the ending of violence. I think I know what the result of that would be. I believe it would be an overwhelming direction to men of violence on both sides to stop the violence. It would be a message to them that this violence is not being committed in their name. The Border is not in question now as far as these people are concerned, whether you call them Catholic, Protestant, Nationalist or Unionist. They appreciate that this thing has gone on for three to five years. They know that repression in one form or another has gone on for 50 years. Life is short— a span of 70 to 80 years. They want a major portion of that life to be spent in peace.

I believe, therefore, that the politicians on both sides of the Border should speak up. There are too many armchair supporters of men of violence in the south and, of course, their support is greater, more fervent, when they are in the public house and the farther they are away from the Border. I must confess that it saddens me when I hear young people—and I have heard them —say, "That is the stuff to give them", without any feeling whatsoever for the wife of the man who was killed or the husband of the wife who was killed or for the young child or the aunt or relative who was killed.

Because approximately 400 have died we do not look at the names any more, just notice the fact that five were killed yesterday. We seldom if ever think of the suffering, the sorrow, the sadness in a household because five were killed, whether it is the family of a British soldier or a Derry Catholic or a Belfast Protestant. All these things are happening because there has been tacit support and on many occasions open support for those people who perpetrate such violence.

I do not think enough politicians in this House have spoken up. The Taoiseach speaks on occasions. Deputy Cosgrave speaks. I speak on an occasion like this. I realise that everybody cannot have an opportunity to speak. Deputy Cruise-O'Brien speaks. Many of my party such as those sitting here today speak. The Tánaiste has spoken. But, there are other people and I should like to know what their views are. I do not want to specify any particular persons. We should all be one in this. Do not let anybody be under the impression that the EEC vote was one of absolute condemnation of the men of violence. That may have been part of the message. We just cannot take it for granted that there are not many people in this country who gave, as I say, tacit approval to what has been done, and done in their name. We have to decide what we should do down here. I believe I have only five minutes more.

It is vital. I do not want to elaborate or go into detail. We should provide, as I have said time and again, for a new Constitution as a gesture of our good faith. There is a sense of urgency about this. May I say also that this will not necessarily provide for peace or unity. It is an absolute necessity that it should be done but it will not be the absolute solution. We still have this situation in the North that there are two communities with two different political aspirations, one section of the community that want to be attached to the United Kingdom and the others, or a majority of them, who want to be part of a united Ireland. There must be the elimination of differences in social security, in education, health, housing. I could list all the disparities that there are in the various social welfare benefits and health benefits between the North and here. They are big indeed.

All of us know from personal experience that if we talk to nationalist Catholics in the North and ask them would they swop places now, they would say immediately "no". You ask them why, particularly the unemployed man in Derry, and he replies, "Because we get so many pounds and if we came down here we would get less." I know there is suffering in between and it may be attractive to some people to come down here and suffer the loss of £2 or £3 and adjust their way of living. These disparities and others in our Constitution are a barrier to the unity of the country and, to a certain extent, a barrier to peace.

I should like to quote figures to illustrate these disparities. In the North of Ireland a married man with two children who is out of work can expect to get £13.25p. In the Republic he gets only £10. There are other vast differences. Somebody will say that this is the result of subsidisation by the British Government. It does not make any difference where it comes from as far as these people are concerned. They get more and if they came down here they would get less.

In respect of social welfare, education, health and housing, in particular, we spend far less per head of the population—far less in total—than they do in the North. Even these changes if we were to make them here today would not solve the problem. We are all Irishmen, North and South. We are living on the same island. I do not believe that violence will solve our differences. It will further alienate the two communities, and now in a situation which is much more bitter than it was before.

I believe that the Northern Protestant or Unionist has much more in common with us than he has with the British. This is the germ of the solution. We all regard ourselves as Irishmen, perhaps different types of Irishmen, but we are all of the same island and all of the same nationality. We would not want unity achieved through violence. I do not think any man in his right senses would, because it would be an artificial unity, a short-lived unity.

As far as I am concerned, as far as my party is concerned, it must be made clear that the IRA do not negotiate for the people either North or South and there is no shred of evidence that they do.

Yesterday I met five courageous women from Derry, five mothers. One of them was a widow who has seven children. Between the five, they had 33 children. Although they showed the usual good humour of the Northern people, one could detect a sadness when they spoke of the environment in which their children were being reared. Having spoken to these five mothers for quite a long while, the message I got was that their society was being ruined. They made it clear to me and to Deputy Cruise-O'Brien who was with me that they wanted peace; they wanted to stay in Derry; they wanted the unity of Ireland—they did not want it now. The vital thing as far as they were concerned was peace, the sort of peace which would allow them to go to the church, to go into a shop without fear of being bombed. They wanted peace so that they could visit their friends at any time. They wanted peace in order to ensure that their children would not be brought up as bombers and killers. They wanted peace in order to ensure that the economy of Derry would be restored and would not be destroyed as it has been in the last three months. If these five mothers had the opportunity of addressing this House, they would convince those who are on the fringe of support for men of violence and they would change their minds for them very quickly indeed.

I should like to express my encouragement to the talks now being proposed between Mr. Whitelaw and the Social Democratic and Labour Party. I do not know whether it was a different situation or a different atmosphere, but last week I was at a Congress in Galway where there were about 450 trade unionists. Of those 450 trade unionists I suppose 100 to 150 were from the North of Ireland. They were from the shipyards; they were from Derry, Portadown, Armagh, Portrush. At Congress they could talk about the North rationally and could agree that the only solution was a peaceful one. There they could talk about wages, health services and employment and the matters that concern the ordinary people. If that spirit could be engendered into some of the mad politicians in the North, then there might be some hope. There is no real hate in the heart of the worker in the North against the man in the South and there should not be that hate between any politicians in the North.

No matter what the conclusion to violence may be, no matter how many lives are lost, there must be a political solution; otherwise there will be anarchy and that could be repeated down here. We had an example of that last Sunday in the Curragh. People North or South do not want anarchy. I believe that this could and must be determined by a general election. As I said, I do not accept the significance of the interpretation put on the EEC result. It is obvious that the policy of non-violence which has been adopted by all parties down here is not acceptable to the IRA. If they think we do not speak for a majority of the people or if they believe they speak for a majority, that can be tested out at a general election, the issue being the bomb versus the ballot.

If the Taoiseach agreed to a general election I would welcome it. Then let these people who call themselves Provos and these people who call themselves Officials put themselves before the Irish people and let judgment be made on them. Too many things have happened since June, 1969, and if they want to enter a contest there is the by-election in mid-Cork. The people should now have their voice heard and should speak out clearly, as indeed is the responsibility of politicians North and South. They should make it clear that violence will not succeed and the important thing now is to secure peace in the North of Ireland, justice and eventually unity.

I would not agree with Deputy Corish when he says the referendum did not demonstrate the complete lack of support for the two Sinn Féin groups in this country. Granted that those who are opposed to our joining the EEC consisted of people with genuine objections, nevertheless, from my observation of the referendum it was absolutely clear, particularly in the areas close to the Border, that the entire propaganda was directed not to the economic problems of the EEC and its advantages or disadvantages, but solely to the question of not joining the EEC for the reasons stated by the two Sinn Féin parties. In the Border areas of my constituency the vote was somewhere in the region of 90 per cent in favour of joining the EEC. In the Border areas there had been resentment and frustration created by the cratering of roads, by the conflict that took place at the Border, and by the general feeling of resentment against British Army tactics, but nevertheless the people, when they actually voted, made it absolutely clear to us in Monaghan that they were totally opposed to a policy of violence, and I do not think we need to have a general election in order to establish this fact.

The IRA, of course, have been inflated in their importance down here by the mass media. Everything has been done to build up their image, to exaggerate their claims to popularity, and the truth about it is that violence as a method of solving the problem of the North has no measurable support among our people. Our people recognise that a military solution is not one that will ever bring peace or happiness to the people in the North or an understanding between the people of the North and the South.

Since 1925, all parties in the Dáil have continuously decried military action in relation to any internal political objectives and this record has been absolutely unbroken. I think that for the benefit of the younger generation who know little of our history the allegations by the Sinn Féin groups that the Truce was wrong in 1921 should be refuted. The Truce came in 1921 because the people wanted peace. There was the chance for negotiation. The Army of the day obeyed the Government, and when I speak of the IRA of those days I speak of an organisation with totally different objectives, with totally different conduct and totally different ideas from any group bearing the same name that operates today.

We have also had references as though there should be some comparison between the conflict in the North and the events of the tragic Civil War, and let us be honest about that. The Civil War ended because the people wanted peace, as they do now in the North. It ended because a majority of the people were quite evidently in favour of the Treaty settlement. It started because there was a belief that the people would support the living Republic, and my father, in his last statements, I think, spoke for the Irish people when he said that never again should there be a Civil War in this country for the attainment of any political objectives.

We now see a terrifying picture in the North and I thought it would be well to reflect back on the events that have taken place since 1968 and relate them to the present situation. From 1968 to the first half of 1970 we had the Civil Rights movement breaking a sterile nationalist position that had lasted for nearly 50 years. As a result of the riots in Derry we had the Cameron and Hunt reports. These were British reports which made it quite clear that the local security forces were not acting in the interests of justice. We had the civil rights declarations which were in themselves, if inadequate, an advance on anything that has been suggested by the British Government over a period of 50 years, breaking new ground, indicating a new initiative.

We then had the divisions within the Unionist Party and the rise of the hardline Unionist movement, making the real implementation of these civil rights almost impossible without further steps taken by the British Government. We have to admit that there was a seed bed of violence created in the North through the deprivations of the minority, deprivations which lasted over 50 years. This is quite evident from a study of the period.

We then had the position that protection of the minority against sectarian violence arrived too late. But, having said all that, and looking at the last 50 years of our history, it has to be admitted that the progress of the civil rights movement was phenomonal. Everything was in their favour. There may have been divisions in their midst. They were a new and untried organisation. They appeared at times to be divisive, but here was an organisation which had been in operation for only two years already breaking new ground, already establishing new precedents and already extracting from the British Government declarations in regard to the rights of the minority that had not been bespoken by them for a period of over 50 years. Everything was in favour of the further progress of this movement. They had an unlimited capacity to demonstrate to the British Government by every means, short of violence, that only the hardline Unionists stood in the path of a new type of Northern administration in which the minority could play a meaningful part. It became evident to everybody that in relation to reunification there must be a two stage operation. First of all, there must be a new form of Northern administration which would be essential to further progress and, when the Unionists had accepted this new way of life, it would then be easier for them and for the minority to consider the possibilities of reunification. That was evident to everyone in the community at that time.

Then, in 1970, there came the first IRA shots, coming admittedly from the seed bed of violence that had been created over a long period of years. At that time they were small in number in the IRA. The effect of this action diverted the attention of the British at that time from the only potentially violent troublemakers, the hardline Unionists. It created a new atmosphere of doubt in Britain and it helped to build up the hardline Unionist forces still further. Then came the fatal British reaction, dictated by Stormont, of over-repressive military activity, leading to interment. It is true to say that the Security Committee in the Stormont Government sowed the dragon's teeth themselves which resulted in more and more armed men appearing on the scene and these armed men expanded in their influence and in their domination of the communities in which they lived.

The influence of the civil rights movement became diminished and that movement had to concentrate their activities largely on persuading the British Government that their military over-kill was having the wrong effect, that it was breeding more violence, that the brutality of the British troops and the internment procedures would not result in the coming of peace. The civil rights movement went on to speak of the new form of administration that must be brought about. It is true to say that the initiatives that were demanded of the British Government by the Taoiseach and by Deputies in this House came too late, but the Taoiseach will be remembered in history for his efforts to bring about these initiatives and for his efforts in establishing the right of the Government of the South to participate in major discussions related to the final solution of the problem of re-unification. The initiatives came very late after long periods of violence and counter-violence but the initiatives were quite obviously practicable. They included all the recommendations made by the Taoiseach and supported in this House. There was one missing, namely, that the British Government should encourage the Unionists to think of re-unification as a long-term objective on the basis that the majority of them must give their consent before it would be possible to have a republic of the kind we would wish for in this country.

That is a very brief description of the events. Then, when the truce came, it was welcomed by the vast majority of the Irish people and Mr. Whitelaw had the support of the vast majority of the Irish people in his efforts to bring about peace as, we hope, he will have their support later in his efforts to establish a new form of administration in the North. If Mr. Whitelaw made any mistakes in his judgments he should have been given ample time to reconsider his policy because, if he was not given ample time, there was the danger of a cataclysm. He should have been given ample time and opportunity to take whatever action seemed necessary in order to ensure that he was acting with impartiality. He came, too late on the scene, to an explosive situation, with violent men on both sides, and it was criminal on the part of forces on both sides to deny him the opportunity of being able to ensure that peace could be maintained. We regard the breach of the truce as catastrophic and as merely an incitement to Unionist violence.

I should like to comment now on what the people in the pubs and elsewhere were saying: in some way or other the IRA in the North were going to contribute towards a more immediate settlement. There were plenty of people of every political hue who said that, perhaps, the IRA did help to bring about some change in the attitude of the British Government. We know from what happened within the last few days how wrong these people were in their attitude. The IRA by their bombing campaign, by establishing some 30,000 claims for malicious damage, have hardened the minds of the Unionists and have postponed all possibility of dialogue on the subject of reunification.

Hear, hear.

They have immensely stimulated Unionist hostility and made the possibility of a peaceful settlement now more difficult than ever. People are quite entitled to suggest that we should publish some form of an ideal constitution and make a series of political declarations on what might be regarded as the various forms of political structures which together would bring about reunification. That may be a matter for argument but surely we can all agree here that, whether or not we publish these declarations, unless and until the Unionists and the Nationalists can establish some agreed form of administration, communicate with each other and work with each other, there can be no hope for a final solution of the partition problem. The only way that re-unification can be achieved is, first, if it can be demonstrated that the people of the North can live together and work together in a form of administration where the minority play an Executive part. When they talk, have dialogue and co-operate, it will then be time to consider what form of re-unification might be to their advantage, but to imagine that the mere publication of an ideal Constitution and political structures attached to it would at this moment have an effect in the North in relation to bringing about peace or to fulfilling the initiatives proposed by the British Government is sheer lunacy.

I do not wish to interrupt the Tánaiste except to ask him if that is an implied criticism of the committee which at present are trying to do exactly what he is talking of.

No, it is no criticism of the committee. It may be opportune at any time to publish these declarations but what is required at the moment is the establishment of a meaningful administration in the North. That is all I am saying.

In view of what has been said, I shall have to consider my position on that committee.

I have no objection to people making proposals——

Mr. J. Lenehan

If our Army were sent across the Border could not the Six Counties be taken over within five minutes?

Why does not the Deputy go there?

Mr. J. Lenehan

I have been in the Army. Deputy Harte has not been in it.

That may be just as well if Deputy Lenehan is a specimen of it.

Mr. J. Lenehan

The Deputy is a typical Donegal gombaloo.

The policy of brinkmanship in relation to what is virtually civil war already is horrifying. In relation to the future of the North, both the UDA and the IRA should take the initiatives. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain because there can be no future in the kind of violence and potential violence that dominates the scene in the Six Counties.

It has been said by commentators in the press that the Taoiseach's position has been weakened because Mr. Whitelaw met the IRA. I wish to deal with that statement. I cannot comment in detail on Mr. Whitelaw's decision in regard to this matter. He arrived too late with his initiatives. He was supported by all parties in the House of Commons, something very rare in British history in relation to Irish affairs. The shock to the Unionists of the proroguing of Stormont was tremendously severe. Obviously it was madness to continue bombings and shootings while the Unionists were asked to accept the fundamental change in their old position, in the position to which they had been accustomed for half a century. Mr. Whitelaw faced a desperate situation. He has not received support from the IRA in the North in regard to policy. They have published their policy and that policy is not acceptable to us. We have made it clear that while we recognise the historic right to unity we do not want one million embittered Unionists to participate in a hideously sundered Irish Republic.

The IRA have made it clear that they do not accept the policy of the vast majority here. They have no political mandate. No doubt, Mr. Whitelaw in his hour of despair, wished to ensure that lack of communication should not be charged against him in trying to avert what could become a ghastly civil war, a civil war without meaning and without any possibility of a fruitful result. The position here is that we are opposed unanimously to private armies both North and South. There are two guerilla groups who, in their speeches, have declared their total non-recognition of the sovereignty of the people in both parts of the country. They have made this very clear. Both groups advocate social policies that are not acceptable to the vast majority of the Irish people. I note that in a recent statement, the Provisionals introduced Marxian doctrine in a series of vague phrases one of which referred to the control by the people of the means of production, exchange and distribution. The phrase concluded with the words: "there will be little place for private enterprise in our system". I fail to see the differences in their general social policies which has been referred to so often by them.

However, the main point is that we know that we cannot persuade the IRA, by personal contact, to accept the democratic processes either in this part of the country or in the North. We continue our policy of refusing to accept violence as a method of solving the problems of the North. We continue also our refusal to accept the right of any illegal organisation to try to alter the pattern of our society by violent means. We are continuing the policy of trying in the special courts anyone, regardless of his address, who can be convicted of illegal actions in this part of the country. Therefore, I fail to see that either the influence of the Taoiseach or of this House has been affected by the actions of Mr. Whitelaw who in a moment of despair thought he might be able to avert a desperate civil conflict. We do not have two private armies opposing each other in this part of the country. We have none of the problems that resulted in Mr. Whitelaw's action.

I follow Deputy Corish in expressing the hope that the moderates in the North on both sides will speak up; otherwise, there will be disaster. I hope that the example of the five courageous women will be followed many times over because there is too much silence by the great majority of the people in the North who are seeking peace. One would imagine that in whole areas of Belfast and Derry almost everyone was supporting the use of violence. I know from people who have come down here that this is not true. The vast majority of people in Ballymurphy want peace but they are intimidated by violent methods in expressing their views. I hope that the Nationalist parties will consolidate to a greater extent. I have commended the work of the civil rights movement, and I hope that in this hour of danger and of possible civil war there will be further consolidation among the various groups in the North, led by the SDLP, in favour of a peaceful settlement.

I will conclude by saying that the unity that is so evident in this House, with the exception of three or four people, on the subject of partition, is something which will be to our great advantage. There have been many divisions in the past in what should be our relationship with Great Britain. There have been many divisions on the methods of conducting political campaigns but the unity that has been shown since 1969 on the subject of how to achieve re-unification, on the need for maintaining peaceful methods, on the need for rejecting all concepts of violence, is something which will be commended by historians at a later date. I hope we will continue to have this unified attitude towards the solution of this problem. I suppose that peace will only be brought about in the North if people even stop thinking purely in terms of political parties. Unless hundreds of thousands of people decide to communicate with each other, decide that there can be no future in the appalling bitterness now shown in the relationships between the two opposing parties, unless there is an end to this bitterness there can be no future. I do not believe that either the Unionist Party or the SDLP or any other parties can, by waving wands or making speeches, bring about peace. This is a matter for the individual wills of all the people in the North, who, by now, should realise the hopelessness of mere bitterness, mere hatred, neighbour against neighbour.

I know from talking to clergy of all denominations that there is a tremendous groundswell of community feeling in the North never published in the newspapers or by the mass media but which is demonstrated every day in whole areas of the North in spite of the appalling tensions that also exist. Admittedly, recent events have perhaps diminished the force of this community feeling, but it still exists and the clergy and all leaders who have been trying to sustain this feeling must be praised for their work. In the growth of this community feeling lies the possibility of at least an eventual settlement so that the two communities in the North are to live at peace with each other.

Mr. J. Lenehan

When Cassius Clay or Muhammed Ali—he actually gave me a pen as a souvenir—was here last night he said we were very decent people. I would hold that view. We can agree with any type of religious people from anywhere. I mention this because the Minister has spent all his time speaking of the North as a question between Protestants and Catholics. I do not believe in that. Religion makes no difference to me—I suppose because I have so little of it myself. It is absolutely ludicrous that Hindus or people of any other religion can come into the North but Catholics get into trouble. It makes no sense. But it would be unfair not to paint the other side of the picture.

I was at a meeting about community schools in Erris recently when a young priest said he could not support this idea of community schools because there was a possibility of religious contamination. I see John Healy up there and he must know how truthful I am. In the whole barony of Erris there were two Protestants, two women over 70 and I do not think even the British Army could succeed in expanding that population. But that statement was made and the speaker "got it from me". That was only fair; I cannot tolerate religious discrimination or class distinction. If we could eliminate class distinction we would do a good day's work. The Ceann Comhairle knows as well as I do that if I have two children, one going to the vocational school and the other to secondary school the secondary school student is a step above the common, and the poor fellow going to the vocational school would be looked down on. It is time to integrate all schools and time to come down to earth and conform to the practice in the remainder of the world. This we have failed to do for a long time. I do not think we have altered very much from the time of the druids. The debate up to now reminds me of the activities of a certain bird which goes around in ever-diminishing circles. I do not know how many Deputies know what happens eventually but if they wish to consult me outside I shall tell them.

We are a nation of laws and orders but the implementation of the law is a different matter. We have so many orders now that there can be very little room left in the Statute Book unless it is twice as big as the Bible. Every Minister who came into the House apparently had the ambition to get his name stamped on some law or order while he was here. Some of them had such shaky foundations that they had to do it pretty rapidly and it is now obvious that some of these jobs were done pretty rapidly.

Nobody has more sympathy for the Northern Ireland people than I have but to a great extent they are the cause of their own destruction, if that is the proper word to use. When we took thousands of them across the Border and offered them sanctuary they wrecked every place they went into. Anybody can go and see Gormanston Camp. It may have been youngsters who did this and they may not have done it because of any vindictive antitude to us, but it is sad when we must believe that youngsters are reared in that kind of atmosphere in the North. We chastise our children, but it seems that in the North very little is done in that regard.

My opinion, like that of the Tánaiste, is that nobody wants violence. We are entitled to have this island united and as one. If there is to be a vote on this issue and if anybody is to heed Willie Whitewash's referendum in the North it would be completely misleading because it would be biased from the beginning. If we want a decision by the people of Ireland it is essential that if this referendum is held in the North we, whether we be clowns or not, hold a referendum on the very same subject worded in the same way on the same day. Then Mr. Whitelaw will get his answer.

If the smart alecks in the North want fun there is no reason in the world why they should not get it. We beat them down here by two to one. During the years 1939 to 1945 if we were able to produce the number of troops—and I was in the Army myself—we claim we had, many of them must still be alive like myself and fairly active and we are well able to train others. If they want fun let them get it.

Let the British get out of our country. They have been chased out of every other country in the world. It is time we got rid of them and, no matter what we have to do to get rid of them, we will do it. While I do not exactly agree with some of the ideas of some Donegal Deputies, I believe that it is time we sent these gentlemen back to where they came from, namely, Scotland. Let them get back to Scotland and let them send back the million of our people who are over there. Send our people back to the North and let them take over in Scotland. Let them get back to their own native land. That is about the fairest way of dealing with the problem.

This cannot go on forever. It is all right to listen to the kind of bunkum and nonsense which go on in the North, but one of these days the people of the South will lose their tempers. They beat the British before with only stolen Enfield rifles, and they will beat them again today if necessary. This was the first small country in the world to gain independence and, if we cannot make ourselves completely independent, that will not be the fault of some of us.

One of the reasons given why we cannot have complete independence is the Constitution. I do not know how many Deputies ever saw or read the Constitution. It always reminds me of a whole dose of bits and pieces out of the Bible or the Koran. Politically, it makes very little sense. We have to face reality. If a Muslim or a Hindu comes here, we do not obstruct his activities. An Egyptian can come here with six wives. It is unfair to us that we are tied to one. I admit that and I am sure any married man in the House will admit it. That is the position. The thing is so absurd and draft——

We had Muhammad Ali here yesterday.

Mr. J. Lenehan

I did not see any wives though. I am sure that every Deputy realises that this is a whole set of absurdities. An Irishman cannot commit bigamy but an Egyptian can commit trigamy or quadronomy, if there is such a word, in this country and no action can be taken against him. We are going around in circles. It is like the question of contraception. We cannot get permission for contraception. I am sure every man has been practising contraception since the time of Adam. The whole thing is a joke. Very few people have the guts and say this out openly. I am not worried. What is contraception? There are so many ways of dealing with it that is is no wonder the poor Northern Protestants are up the walls. They do not know what is going on down here. If they had any sense they would see the joke because, if the men in the South were not practising contraception, the population would have doubled long ago. It may not have occurred to Deputies that, in the 50 years previous to 1847, the population of this country doubled. That took a bit of doing but it did happen. I do not know how many Deputies go back and look up the records.

One of the other excuses for Northerners not wishing to come in here is that our social welfare benefits are not up to the standards in the North and in England. They have improved here. The man who made the biggest attack on our social welfare benefits is the man who in seven years gave an unprecedented increase of 2s 6d a week to the unfortunate pensioners. Then he comes in here and attacks the Taoiseach and the Parliamentary Secretary. That is more codology. I do not know how Deputies can stand idly by and tolerate that type of bunkum. I would not tolerate it for five minutes. Fine Gael are on the far side of the House since 1931 and trying to get across.

The Parliamentary Secretary was decent enough to give me the special allowance of 55s for old age pensioners. Originally it covered daughters only, but now it covers sons as well. There is one slight flaw in the scheme. Most Deputies would not even dream of it and I thought of it only recently. In many cases the people who are looking after old people could be regarded as adopted. They were taken out of homes. Once a child passes a certain age the child cannot be adopted. If a child was taken out of a home and kept for years surely the child should be regarded as adopted for the purposes of social welfare. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to consider that. It is a rather academic case, I admit. It is only in recent times that people got used to the adoption laws and began to put them into force. If the child is over a certain age the child cannot be adopted.

Nine years of age.

Mr. J. Lenehan

I know a few of these cases and it is time something was done about them. It is a rather minor matter and I am sure it would not rob the Department.

I want to deal now with economics, or the lack of them. The Taoiseach was talking about economy but I do not know whether it was economy or the lack of economy. The economy is all on this side of the country. It is on the Dublin side and the Cork side, but there is not much of it down in my end of the country. Some steps should be taken to deal with the western areas. Appointing a Gaeltacht county council is only a farce as any sane man must realise.

Surely in view of the amount of money being squandered, instead of spent, it should be possible to provide us in the west with the funds to improve our territory. I am not blaming the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister, who I must say have been very fair to me. I know very well that it is very hard to induce an industrialist into an area where the people have not been used to industry and we all know that the people from that territory do not go into factories when they go away. That is bound to have tremendous effects on the introduction of industry but my friend Deputy Gallagher was able to introduce industry into the area and to succeed. Seeing that it could be done there it can be done elsewhere and he might be inclined to come into my county. A crowd came to me recently who wanted to set up an air strip. Do you think I could get the land? Even after spending two days flying around over it. I do not know yet if I got a place for a snipe to land. I know there are difficulties and we have our local problems but I think that instead of leaving matter to officials, Ministers should come in and have a special look at affairs.

The Land Commission is the greatest fraud of all. It was set up in 1924 or 1925 to divide land but there is more land undivided now that there was in 1925 and however they were in 1925, they are twice as bad now. Ministers should go out and take a personal look at affairs. I suppose the fishing industry would be one of the most important in my territory and in spite of the bad weather, these men are doing all right and I know that Bord Iascaigh Mhara have been reasonably fair to them but they have made mistakes too. They are being codded by people and, for instance, one man under five different names can have five votes which is not fair to his neighbours and you can be sure that the man with these votes has to be a rich man.

With regard to hotels, the Government pursued the policy for years of subsidising the erection of hotels and I said years ago that it was the daftest thing ever done, that the day would come when they would be white elephants. How right I was must now be clear. If the business was lucrative, if there was money in it, why would the Government have to put up huge grants for hotels, but did you ever see the Government putting up grants for a publichouse? Why should they put them up for hotels? It was one of the greatest pieces of absurdity ever engaged in because they now have more hotels than tourists. The North is blamed but blaming the North is a joke. It has nothing to do with it. The reason for the hotel situation is the absurd prices being charged by hotels in this country. I reckoned on one occasion that, according to the price I paid for a very small piece of steak, the animal from which it came cost £7,380. That was how I worked it out and I do not go to dear hotels, although I would very much like to go to one of them. I weighed that piece of steak and it was not even a quarter of a pound but I was charged 19s 6d for this. I had nothing else, and that was two years ago. They are probably at Dublin prices at that rate.

It is thrown at the farmer that he is getting a big price for his animals. There are big prices but what is the knacker who is abusing this animal afterwards and selling it to the public getting? It is time price control came in because food prices have gone absolutely mad and it is time somebody controlled them. You can go into five different shops in this city and pay five different prices for the same article.

On the subject of VAT, I had a row with the Minister last night and I am still not sure what answer he gave me, but if the position is that every shopkeeper in this country will have to keep accounts to deal with this VAT 72, how is he going to get on? We had the VAT 69 which is going off the market because it was a very poor brand of whiskey but under the new VAT 72, how can an ordinary publican like myself keep accounts? The Minister did tell me last night that we will be in the same position under VAT as we were under TOT and you know the trouble I got into over TOT. The Minister did not answer me directly here but he told me privately, and I made a bargain with him that I would vote with the Government on the strength of the fact that he told me that the two positions were the same. If they are, I suppose we can get over it, but it is very important that the point should be cleared up because it is going to cause tremendous trouble. It is all right for me to vote here to pass a Bill I never even looked at, but it is a completely different matter when I, my wife and family and all the other people in the town have to keep accounts. This is an area where I am the only accountant and I do not work at that job any longer. This is a very important matter for many men. If what the Minister told me last night is not true there will be thousands of small business people out of business in a very short time. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to remind the Taoiseach and the Minister of this matter, if and when they return to the House. It is not that it makes so much difference to me but it does make a difference to the small shopkeeper. You, sir, know the country I am talking about. The area in which you live is similar to the area that I live in. I am taking the Minister at his word, that we are back in the same street. I hope this is true.

Mr. O'Donnell

The debate on this Estimate is wide-ranging. On this occasion, due to the time limit imposed, it is not possible for a Deputy to give a detailed analysis of the performance of the Government and of the Taoiseach.

Already, the Leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Cosgrave, has clearly and emphatically outlined the thinking, the attitude and the philosophy of this party in relation to the awful tragedy that is taking place in the North of Ireland. He spelled out clearly and emphatically the attitude of this party towards the maintenance of law and order in this country and the security of the State. I do not intend to repeat what Deputy Cosgrave has said. I wish merely to endorse everything he said.

There are many national problems which could be dealt with in this debate. The Leader of our party, in the brief time at his disposal, referred to such issues as the VAT tax, the educational policy of the Government, and so forth. I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without mentioning another major national issue which has been publicly debated both in this House and outside it for the last 12 months. I refer to, and make no apology for referring to, the landing rights issue. In the first week of August, 1971, it became apparent that the American Government would intensify their efforts to secure landing rights at Dublin Airport for the American carriers. The reaction of the Government here was to send a Civil Service mission to Washington in the early days of August, 1971. That was a fatal blunder. That decision should never have been taken by the Government because the situation was then quite clearly so serious that much more than a Civil Service delegation to Washington was called for. That delegation got nowhere. They had just returned to this country when the American Government issued an ultimatum that unless the American carries were allowed into Dublin, New York would be closed to our airlines as from 18th August. We have lived with this situation for 12 months. It has been debated at length. It has been raised in this House week after week. It has caused concern to thousands of people, particularly in the western part of Ireland. There are only five or six weeks to go to the expiry date of this ultimatum, that is, 18th August, and we do not know what the Government are doing about it or what they have been doing about it. There has been only the speculation and forecasting that has appeared in the newspapers day after day.

This is an appalling state of affairs. I am deliberately raising this matter because I hope that I will provoke the Taoiseach, when he is replying to the debate tomorrow night, into giving some indication of what has happened behind closed doors since last November. We are entitled to know the position. Yesterday, the Minister for Transport and Power said that the negotiations were at a very delicate stage. This is bluff and nonsense. The people whose livelihood could be seriously affected by any decision reached are entitled to know now the exact position.

I said here yesterday and I repeat, and I challenge the Taoiseach to deny it, that this whole matter has been signed, sealed and delivered and that the Government are waiting until the Dáil recesses to make the announcement.

This issue of landing rights, which has caused grave concern, has been bungled, botched and badly messed up by the Government. The Taoiseach in particular has handled this situation extremely unwisely. When the ultimatum was presented to the Government last August there was no reaction on the part of the Taoiseach or on the part of any Government Minister. It was not until November, following continuous demands for action, that the Taoiseach intervened with President Nixon. I welcomed that intervention at that time but we were not satisfied with the results. Since last November appeals have been made to the Taoiseach and to the Government to take action.

The Shannon Regional Action Committee and everybody connected with this matter have been consistent, as I have been, in the belief that if, when this ultimatum was issued by the American Government last August, the Taoiseach and the Government here had reacted in a courageous and determined manner and had rejected the ultimatum, and had mobilised and informed public opinion here and in the United States, the US Government would have withdrawn the ultimatum. This could have been done by making public opinion here and among the Irish population in the US aware of the implications of the American demand not merely for Shannon, but for the entire west of Ireland, for the tourist industry and for the national airline.

Some scribes in certain newspapers, particularly in one newspaper, have referred to this as a parish pump issue and said that those who have been deeply concerned about it were merely playing politics and being emotional about it. This is not a parish pump issue. This is a very serious national issue and one which can have very serious repercussions on the massive State investment at Shannon and on the livelihood of many thousands of people who are employed down there, for the tourist industry, particularly on the west coast on which the western economy is vitally dependent.

The dilly dallying, the huggermugger, the talk of negotiations and bargaining that has been going on behind closed doors since last November is an absolute disgrace. So-called experts can now tell one freely that a deal has already been done, that American airlines are going into Dublin, that the Government are waiting to get some face-saving concessions from the Americans. I want to warn the Taoiseach, and I make no apology for doing so, that any decision or agreement which he and the Government make with the United States Government in relation to this issue which will permit even one United States carrier into Dublin, even on a restricted basis, will be tantamount to selling out the Shannon region and the tourist industry in the western part of the country.

While we do not alway agree with, or take seriously, what Deputy Joe Lenehan says, nevertheless I think he is genuinely concerned about the west of Ireland and its development. Here we have a situation which threatens the one major asset that the entire western half of the country has, that is, Shannon Airport. The only way in which the interests of the Shannon region, of the west of Ireland and of the national tourist industry can be safeguarded is by maintaining the existing bilateral air agreement.

I have done a great deal of research on this matter over the past 12 months, as have the Shannon Regional Action Committee. The Shannon Regional Action Committee are an outstanding example of men of courage and determination, of people who are committed to the west of Ireland, people who have given up their time voluntarily, who have travelled in the United States at their own expense because they believe that it is vital to the west of Ireland that the status quo of Shannon Airport be maintained.

If the United States carriers are admitted into Dublin, I forecast that by the end of this decade there will be a loss of a minimum of one thousand jobs in the Shannon region. The Government have failed to face up in a realistic, aggressive and courageous manner to this outrageous act of aggression by the United States Government. The Government have sat back and done absolutely nothing to fight off this threat and to persuade the American Government to withdraw their ultimatum. I am convinced that if a proper approach were made to the American Government, if the Taoiseach himself had displayed proper leadership in this matter, if he had seen to it that the two Ministers in his Cabinet who are most concerned in this matter, that is, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dr. Hillery and the Minister for Transport and Power, Deputy Lenihan, had done their jobs properly, the American Government could have been persuaded to withdraw this ultimatum.

It is significant that we have been living with this situation for 12 months, a situation which has put fear into the hearts of hundreds of workers in the Shannon area, which is causing serious difficulty to the national airline, and which is upsetting the tourist industry, and yet no real attempt has been made by the Government to resolve the situation. If some of the Ministers had gone to the United States and mobilised public opinion there, put them into the picture and given them a proper understanding of what their Government were attempting to do to a small country like ours, with a small airline which is going through the most difficult period in its history, surely in view of the very close ties that have view of the very close ties that have always bound the Irish and the American nations, it would have been possible to get the Americans to withdraw this ultimatum and allow the existing bilateral air agreement to stand.

I regret to have to say that I think the Taoiseach and his Government have badly botched up the situation. It has been badly handled since this time 12 months ago when it became evident that the Americans were going to put on the pressure. I also deplore the continued persistence of the American Government in this matter. I am not in any way trying to mini-mise or under-estimate the pressure that the American Government mounted in relation to this issue.

Neither am I trying to convey the idea that it would have been an easy job for the Taoiseach and the Government to withstand the ultimatum or persuade the Americans to withdraw it. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Taoiseach and the Government left themselves wide open to an accusation of inactivity in this matter and the worst indication of this lackadaisical attitude was when the Minister for Transport and Power funked travelling with the Civil Service delegation which went to Washington last November to discuss the matter. Had he gone he could have done a considerable amount of good by mobilising public opinion and explaining to the American people why we were worried.

Now the Dáil is going into recess the deadline of the 18th August is almost upon us. I understand that the Governor of California, Mr. Ronald Regan, is on a goodwill tour of Europe as a personal emissary of President Nixon. I understand that he will visit this country within the next week or so. I appeal to the Taoiseach, at this 11th hour, with doomsday upon us, to convey to Governor Regan the deep concern of the Government, the Dáil and the many thousands of people involved, particularly in the western half of the country, at the present situation. If the Taoiseach makes a final effort now I have no doubt but that the situation can be saved, the status quo maintained and the Americans persuaded to lift the ultimatum.

If the Taoiseach does not do this he will be selling the western half of the country down the drain and all the talk about decentralisation and the transfer of Government Departments to the West, and elsewhere, and the commitment of the Government to the concept of western development will be made a mockery of. When the Taoiseach comes to reply I would ask him, on behalf of the thousands of people who are in the dark about this whole issue, the people who have been left in the dark for the last six months or more, to throw some light on the situation, give us some indication of what the attitude of the Government is and what the likely outcome will be.

Deputy Lenehan referred to the tourist industry. This industry is of vital concern to the west of Ireland. It is of vital concern to the whole country. Unfortunately, for the last few years, the tourist industry has been confronted with a continuous series of problems. It has been confronted with unprecedented difficulties. Many of these problems were outside the control of the Government. The unfortunate troubles in the North have had a very serious impact on tourism, but I reject the idea that the difficulties in the North have been the sole cause of all the difficulties confronting the industry, difficulties leading to a disastrous decline in tourist traffic this year.

The Minister for Transport and Power speaks for the Government in relation to the tourist industry. He has continuously harped on this one issue. Of course the troubles in the North have affected the industry, but there are other problems. For far too long the Government have totally ignored the greatest potential tourist market, namely, the 4 million people in Britain of Irish birth and Irish descent. This year, when all else failed, a determined effort was made to try to encourage our own people in Britain to come home on their holidays. Like so much else that the Government does, this effort came too late.

While the troubles in the North have been a serious impediment to the promotion of Irish tourism, particularly in the British market, there are other factors affecting the industry which were within the control of the Government and about which the Government did absolutely nothing. So far as the British market is concerned the major impediment is the high cost of transport across the Irish Sea. Despite repeated recommendations and appeals by every sector of the industry to do something about these high transport charges, the Government did practically nothing. They ignored the recommendation about the introduction of duty free facilities and the granting of special concessions in relation to drink and petrol.

In this most difficult season for Irish tourism the Government have not taken one new step towards helping the industry. In the budget this year the Minister for Finance mentioned tourism once in 50 or 60 pages of a brief. There was nothing in the budget designed to help the industry to survive this most difficult year. I warn the Taoiseach that, unless there is some new thinking by the Government, the tourist industry will head for serious trouble. It is obvious now that the Government policy in relation to tourism is totally inadequate and unrealistic to enable the industry to overcome its present difficulties. The major State agency concerned with tourism, Bord Fáilte, are not equipped to meet the colossal challenge that confronts the industry at this time. There must be a new approach, new policy and much more dynamic and aggressive policy. I know that at the moment an assessment is being made of this industry and that a draft development plan is being considered by all sectors of the industry for the years 1972-75. However, this plan will be no use unless it is acted on by the Government, unless the Government are prepared to provide the industry with the finance and other assistance that will enable it to overcome its difficulties.

The final point I would like to make comes within the ambit of the Department of Transport and Power. Now that we are about to join the EEC, our exporters, by reason of our remoteness from the mainland of Europe, will have to bear much higher transport charges than their competitors on the Continent or in Britain. Therefore it is of vital importance that the Government consider the whole sphere of transport and assess properly our entire transport resources.

During the past 12 months I have called repeatedly for the formulation of a White Paper on transport. This White Paper would enable public discussion to take place and would pave the way for the formulation and implementation of a national transport policy. Transport will play a key role in determining the competitiveness of our exports in the European Communities. No effort must be spared to divide the transport policy which will ensure that our exporters will have available to them the most efficient but lowest-cost transport service that can be devised.

For some time past, but particularly in recent years, we have been getting a series of un-co-ordinated and patchwork-type transport legislation. This is not good enough. I hope that between now and 1st January the Government will perform the very important task of formulating a national transport policy.

This must be about the third adjournment debate in which the events in Northern Ireland obtrude on the discussions which, most appropriately, should concern the immediate problems of the economy, problems of employment and of the government of the State in which we live. However, those of us who wish to contribute to this debate must devote quite an amount of the time available to the problems of the North of Ireland and to the repercussions of the dreadful events in Northern Ireland on affairs in the rest of the country.

More appropriately we should be talking of the advisability of presenting the electorate with the choice of alternative government. There is no doubt that the electorate of the Twenty-six conties must have and are entitled to have the opportunity of a real choice in the next election campaign. That has been the significance of the speech made by Deputy Corish in June when he declared the readiness of the Labour Party to participate in the provision of an alternative government for the electorate of the Republic.

We have had government by one group for almost 16 years now. Obviously it is time that the electorate had a choice and the possibility of deciding whether they wished that Government to be returned again or whether they wish to give an opportunity to the Opposition elements in this House to provide a government. The acceptance by the Taoiseach of the Fine Gael motion to move the writ for the Cork by-election gives us that opportunity. The Taoiseach should follow up that acceptance by him of the Opposition challenge and he should make it clear that the result of the mid-Cork by-election will have an intimate bearing on the calling of an immediate general election. The logical follow-up of his acceptance of the moving of the writ should be the calling of a general election. The Taoiseach's predecessor, the late Mr. Lemass, indicated during the mid-Cork by-election of, I think, 1965, that the rejection by the electorate of the Government candidate would result in the calling of a general election. The Taoiseach should give the same indication.

Speakers here this morning have said it is important that the various wings of Sinn Féin should put forward candidates in that by-election so that once more the electorate would have the opportunity of deciding whether they wished to support these particular movements, their philosophies and their suggested solutions to the Northern Ireland problem. Deputies have said that it would be good for our democracy that such groups should put forward candidates in the by-election. It is said in one newspaper editorial today that the Taoiseach may have had this in mind in calling the by-election at this time and that he has done so in the hope that this would be an invitation to such groups to field candidates. However, the by-election can serve even a more beneficial result because it is time that this Government decided to test their acceptance by the public.

I do not believe the referendum was a correct assessment of the Government by the public. There has been so many interpretations of the result that it is difficult to know what is true. It certainly proved the people favoured joining EEC, but we are in the dangerous area of surmise if we suggest the result conclusively proves electoral support for this group or that, this policy or the other. An unambiguous statement by the Taoiseach on the lines of that proposed by his predecessor in mid-Cork that rejection of the Government candidate would mean a general election would be in order. The country would get a pretty good indication as to whether the electorate wished this Government to continue for the full term or wished to test its support at the polls.

I share my leader's opinion that the Government itself is in need of renewal of mandate, not simply the Sinn Féiners, but the Government itself. I accept that the Government have had many problems in the past few years, problems which probably no other Cabinet have faced since the last civil war period in this part of the country and that they have suffered in the competence of their personnel as a result. That party bears the scars of certain mistaken approaches on the Northern policy. It is time they should test their popularity at the polls. I hope the Taoiseach will make the Cork by-election the opportunity and that he will indicate clearly to the electorate that this will be no ordinary by-election but a test of whether the Government should continuue through its full term of office.

The Taoiseach need not worry about not having any substitute or alternative Government in sight. There is a substitute Government ready to take office and therefore his action could not be seen as irresponsible. There is a great deal of talent among the present Opposition who have been waiting a long time to get into government and an eagerness to take up that responsibility. I hope in his concluding speech the Taoiseach will more clearly indicate the exact significance he sees in the Cork by-election and what action he would take, depending on the result, so that the electorate in that constituency may fully understand the implications of their votes on election day.

One must advert to events in Northern Ireland. The breakdown of the truce was a bitter disappointment to those Irish people north and south who thought it might be possible in conditions of peace to attempt the difficult task of reconciliation and binding up of wounds.

Nobody really understands whether the truce broke down over the Lenadoon incident alone. There appears to be a difference of opinion as to whether that incident was sufficiently serious as to necessitate a breakdown. At any rate the truce apparently has broken down and it seems to be the position that no matter how many condemnations are made—and I have heard them from priests, Church leaders, and politicians; pledges of peace, community peace groups and so on—the shootings continue. People call on moderate opinion to condemn the shooting. It may be a pessimistic interpretation of the situation to say that the men of violence, as they are described, have the whip hand in the situation now and that the remainder of the community, north and south, have the choice of waiting in the abattoir queue for the final slaughter. That is what is in train now in Northern Ireland—slaughter.

I have heard people here and outside question whether, in fact, the Protestant backlash really existed. Obviously, the Provisional IRA wished to test that with the lives of their fellow-citizens in Northern Ireland. I never doubted that there was sufficient courage on the Protestant side to fight for what they regarded as their heritage and, unfortunately, that appears to be coming into terrible being at present. There is, in fact, a Protestant guerilla response in the form of the UDA.

A superficial analysis which produces the arguments behind the Provisionals' armed campaign in the North suggests that British intransigence is the major problem in the area. It suggests that any problems in the path of unity would disappear with the last British soldier retreating from that part of the country. I do not suggest that all is angelically white on the British side, but I suggest there is no problem with responsible British opinion at present about getting out of Northern Ireland. That appears to be the majority political view common to both Opposition and Tory Parties. They have a collective desire to wash their hands of Northern Ireland.

I suggest our problems do not disappear with the disappearance of the British from Northern Ireland. They have no enthusiasm for incorporating Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom and making the connection even closer. I believe that majority opinion among British politicians would favour Irish unity. They can look at the experience of the independent part of Ireland and see that in managing our affairs we have shown little desire to depart from the economic apron strings of Britain. Therefore, Britain would have little to fear from a United Ireland. We cannot forget—and this is where the militants, the men of violence, are wrong in their assessment, and terrible the consequence of their error—that the only resolute opponents of Irish unity, the really dangerous opponents and the ones who have not changed their opposition, are our fellow-Irishmen, the majority in north-east Ulster.

In assessing the result of the armed campaign of violence people usually say: "They succeeded in removing Stormont"; in other words, they succeeded in changing opinion in Westminster. As I have suggested, there is no problem in shifting opinion in Westminster; Westminster opinion would be unofficially in favour of Irish unity, but the reality of the problem is that the people who oppose that unity are in this island.

If the campaign of violence has contributed—and I concede that it has contributed to the removal of Stormont— it has not appreciably altered the terrible reality of opposition on the part of the majority in the North to the unity of the country. The price of the removal of Stormont is one that we shall have to meet at some stage in the future and it is the total hatred now felt. Where there was apathy and dislike before on the part of the majority there is now total hatred to the idea of the unity of this country and enmity towards the Republic in particular.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.