asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government issued an invitation within the last six months to the Prime Minister of Canada to visit this country; and if so, the response to the invitation.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Canadian Prime Minister.
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. It would not, however, be appropriate, or in accordance with normal practice, to discuss the second part of the question here at this stage pending mutual agreement on arrangements for the proposed visit. These aspects of the matter are being pursued through diplomatic channels.
Would the Minister say whether the invitation was extended by the Minister for Labour and whether he had the prior authority of the Government before extending the invitation?
The position is that the invitation was informally extended by the Minister for Labour and the Taoiseach has written to the Prime Minister of Canada with an official invitation.
Does the Minister regard that as being the proper way to extend invitations to a head of State —to issue an informal invitation without the prior consent and authority of the Government?
The Deputy is confused.
The Minister is the only one in this House who is never confused.
We are not talking of a head of State. We are not talking about the Queen of Canada. We are talking about the Prime Minister.
The head of Government, then.
There is a very important distinction. The Deputy would have a point in regard to a head of State. With regard to a head of Government or Foreign Minister it is normal to make an oral sounding before an official invitation is sent.
I would presume that even this Government would accept that it is equally normal, before issuing such a casual, informal invitation, to have the authority of the Government to do so. Did the Minister for Labour do this after prior consultation with the Government or was it a casual invitation responded to equally casually by the Prime Minister?
The Deputy is engaging in argument.
It was in accordance with the policy we have in relation to inviting people from particular countries——
Is it not a fact that the——
Please, Deputy O'Kennedy, allow us to make some progress. The Deputy ought to obey the Chair.
——Prime Minister's response was that on some occasion he might be able to come on a holiday in view of the nature of the invitation extended to him?
That does not accord with the facts.