Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 6 Nov 1974

Vol. 275 No. 7

Vote 46: Foreign Affairs (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £2,354,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the period commencing on the 1st day of April, 1974, and ending on the 31st day of December, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and of certain services administered by that Office, including certain grants-in-aid.
—(Minister for Foreign Affairs.)

When the debate was adjourned I was referring to the speech of Deputy Blaney. He made some very wild statements. I had the feeling that his contribution was one of posturing. He made allegations against the attitude of the Government in respect of matters which were relevant to the North of Ireland and it was only in the last few sentences that he brought it into the context of dealing with the British Government, when it was then more a matter for Foreign Affairs. I do not agree with his approach in treating the subject of the North as a matter for Foreign Affairs. I will, instead, deal with other matters which I consider more proper to this debate.

One matter that is relevant to the whole of Ireland is that of a regional policy or the lack of one on the part of the EEC. I believe the message is now getting through to the Commission in Brussels that Ireland stands to gain a great deal from a properly structured and properly planned regional policy. I always thought the prime intent of the EEC was to move to economic and monetary union. It seems to me that a proper regional policy is the only way imbalances can be removed in the EEC.

A British politician, Mr. Heath, said in a newspaper recently that the EEC appear to have failed to deal with the problems affecting the daily lives of ordinary people.

That is possibly a fair comment to make. The EEC started with great hopes and a certain amount of structural planning, but it now seems to have got into a state of bits and pieces. Mistakes appear to have been made, particularly in relation to the beef situation. This country can claim that we warned the EEC Commission and the Council of Ministers of the difficulties that would arise if the importation of beef continued the way it was planned. Unhappily we now have to relate that the advice and the warnings given by Deputy Mark Clinton, our Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, to the EEC have been proved only too right and too correct.

The main criticism, I suppose, in relation to the EEC is the disorganisation of markets, rising prices and inflation, lack of a common regional development policy—and for that matter a common energy policy but I think this is now beginning to take shape—and a very serious watering down of the principles of the common agricultural policy. These matters naturally weaken the Community, first, in the eyes of its own members and, secondly, in the eyes of communities outside the EEC. It is very hard to point to any particular aspect of the activities of the EEC as giving rise to this rather justifiable criticism and judgment of the EEC. In the eyes of many, and in my view also, it seems that the Community is organised for discussion but its weakness for some time has been, and still is decision making. This is a long standing criticism by European parliamentarians and possibly it has been brought about by the unwritten but over-riding ambition to get unanimity on every point before a decision is made.

Unfortunately, the passage of time has also had the effect of changing the attitudes of member states to the EEC. When I was in Brussels in June, as a member of the committee of this House which deals with secondary legislation from the EEC, it was freely expressed by the EEC Commission members that there was originally a scale of priorities in dealing with EEC matters, that the first point was economics, the economy of member States and of the EEC. Only as a very poor second the political aspect came into the picture. That being so, it seemed to be always possible to find a compromise in a situation of differing views.

It is only right, when looking at this problem, to say that the change has taken place in parallel with thinking in political circles in Germany. Up to fairly recent times Germany has been prepared to compromise and give a bit. I do not say that she is not still prepared to compromise and give a bit but her attitude on EEC problems has greatly hardened. This was brought to light in the new discussions concerning agricultural prices, the lead up to the green £. We know the delay that occurred there but it was ultimately accepted. I suppose every country has a certain political conscience in regard to its past history; that might have had something to do with the change of attitude; and it is quite freely said that Germany felt that she had expiated her sins of the last war and was now entitled to hold up her head, free from blame and could be an equal partner. I may be wrong in this but I have heard it said more than twice or three times.

It is right that, when looking at EEC matters, we should realise that we must now fight for every inch we want in the way of benefits and concessions in the EEC. When we went into the Community many people thought it would be a wonderful bonanza, a sort of Utopia. We have just had a debate on unemployment but many people forget that at the time the referendum was being held on entry to the EEC it was pretty clearly stated by the politicians who advocated joining the EEC that there would be those who would fall by the wayside and that businesses would find themselves in difficulties because they had not made any attempt to adjust to the changed economic circumstances in which they would find themselves, that they would no longer be looked after by protective tariffs and would have to stand on their own economic feet, that they would have to prove that they were individually viable enterprises. If my memory is correct, those who would suffer were estimated to be nearly 20 per cent of our business sector but we hoped by an on-going policy in the IDA and the Government that we would be able to meet this difficulty.

Any impartial judge, looking at the work that has been done since we joined the EEC, will have to concede that the IDA and other organisations, the CII, the Federated Union of Employers and the unions have all put their shoulders to the wheel and it can be fairly said that they have all combined to do a very good job. They have avoided the difficulties that were anticipated. Nobody, of course, anticipated a year ago that we would have this colossal difficulty of the fuel crisis—some may have, but generally the public did not realise that outside the EEC there were countries that lived by exporting what I might call primary, unmanufactured products, that they had been at the wrong end of a belated mercantilism, a doctrine that was applied with considerable success by what were the colonial powers.

When the EEC was created many of the members still seemed to think in the days of mercantilism when they had colonies or states outside Europe where they had cheap sources of raw materials. In an effort to compensate for that loss, through the evolution of the world and the emergent nations, they naturally seized on the principles embodied in the Treaty of Rome. However, in doing so many of them have failed to shake off the old fever or disease and their thinking became translated into a watered-down nationalism, but a nationalism that was not compatible with the true principles of the Common Market. There was a lack of a full will to co-operate in a common design and purpose. When difficulties and stresses appeared there was evidence of individual thinking and an unwillingness to work as a team.

The energy crisis brought this very much to the fore. We had a prior warning of this in relation to the regional policies as adumbrated by the Commission. It is regrettable that this has been so, but is is a fact with which we have to live. The pity of it is that there are other countries outside the EEC, the emerging nations, who, like all new nations, are having somewhat of a struggle to build their own economic viability, and the energy crisis has come as a far greater blow to them than it has to the well-developed nations. This is the corner stone of the Minister's speech to the House when he deals with the world economic crisis. I as an Irishman take satisfaction in the attitude that has been adopted to these new nations by our Government in the various meetings that have taken place following the difficulties of the energy crisis.

I do not know if there was any Member of this House who saw a programme on BBC television two or three nights ago which dealt with the question of food and the world food shortage. For those who did not, let me say there was a very obvious and interesting message conveyed by the Prime Minister of Jamaica when he was discussing the question of sugar or some other raw material that they were exporting. He said their price for this raw material had not increased, but for the purpose of tilling and harvesting their crop they had to import machinery and, whatever the price was, something like £600, it had been increased recently to £900; yet the world expected them to produce their sugar or other raw material at the same price. It said they had not much to give but that this was their lifeline.

It is in that light one has to view the world situation. We are no longer considering the strength of the dollar. There are far more people in the world than those in the United States, and there are now far more causes for inflation. One does not hear so much about financial illiquidity in the world. One hears the new word "recycling". This has arisen because the money is now freely flowing back to the oil-producing nations, and some of these nations have not got the population or the demand to utilise the money they are making. Some of these are comparatively small States and sheikdoms, but colossal amounts of money are now coming in because of the increase in the price of crude oil. During the summer the English money market had to take precautionary measures to deal with the movement of this tremendous amount of money in Europe. I would agree with the Minister when he says the problem is one of recycling, so that the world can utilise this money if the nations who make it cannot utilise it for their own home purposes.

I think the proper description of the present world difficulties is that we are very near an economic war but that good sense is prevailing in all quarters to avoid that situation. People previously thought of war as guns, bullets and bombs. There is a far more deadly weapon, and that is that of hunger, starvation, lack of vital economic resources. On the same programme to which I referred earlier there was a gentleman from Bangladesh who was involved in trying to obtain sufficient food to prevent death from starvation in his nation. I think he said that at the time of speaking he had filled half his requirements but another half was left to be filled. I am glad the Minister came back again and again to the difficulties of those countries. We are at a time when we cannot say: "I am all right, Jack, hump you." We are all involved. We regard ourselves as a Christian and a democratic nation. In those circumstances it behoves us to get ourselves very closely involved in world problems.

Allied to this, I suppose, is the fact that you can only give what you have got, what you do not require for yourself. Of course, views differ as to what a nation requires for its own purposes. Much depends on national attitudes. I would imagine the Irish nation, taken as a whole, would be more a giver than a taker. We have a very fine tradition in the mission fields. That was certainly one-way traffic both in manpower and in money and it still continues today. When there is a world tragedy the Irish people are quick to subscribe and quick to recognise the plight of the people involved. I suppose our past history has taught us what it is to suffer hardship. We can possibly better understand the hardships those countries are now undergoing than might be the case with other countries who have better resources, higher standards of living and have had easier times.

Inherent in any consideration of international difficulties is a difficulty created by inflation. The great fear in the world today is that the stronger nations may over react in their efforts to produce deflationary policies. I am concerned at the attitude being adopted by the American and German governments. Taken in relation to other countries they are regarded as strong, viable nations, indeed, extremely strong and extremely wealthy nations. Because of their strong position they must realise that their strength can only continue if the rest of the world can be kept on an even keel economically. I do not know but I would imagine a cure for home inflation in both those countries might be to give a little more. It would take wealth out of circulation and it could be given to countries that require it. I am talking about the poorest developing countries and countries that are particularly hit by the energy crisis, to tide them over a period of re-adjustment. The first panic in relation to the fuel crisis was that one must cut down consumption by 10 per cent. This has already been achieved by most member countries of the EEC and has, in some cases, been greatly exceeded. A criticism of the suggestion that consumption should be cut by 10 per cent was that this was not enough and that countries could easily cut by more without affecting their productive capacity. This seems to have been proved by the course of events.

Undue emphasis has been placed on keeping relations happy between Germany and France. The attitude of France to some matters in the EEC leaves much to be desired. She has been far too fond of taking an independent line and not regarding herself as part of the European club. I would not view her attitude to efforts to produce a common energy policy with any degree of happiness. She is now making a suggestion that we should get together around a table the heads of state. I have great doubts about this meeting of heads of state. I think our Minister for Foreign Affairs has the same doubts.

I do not think there is any point in having a meeting of heads of state unless there is a definite will to come out with a common policy, with a common agreement. We know what happened in Stockholm. Nothing came of that. We know that France failed to join in certain discussions dealing with the energy crisis. When a country adopts that attitude it is about time she laid down what she thinks is the way to deal with it and show her good will and show what she is prepared to do. It is not my function to attack governments but I am entitled, as an Irish Deputy, to point to things that cause concern in the minds of the Irish public. Ireland has abided by the rules of the EEC. She has done her level best to assist others to do likewise. One would expect the larger countries to give good example in times of crisis. Nobody can say that the stronger countries are free of blame for their failure to regard their responsibilities in the community.

We must not forget that certain countries have more votes, that there is a weighted voting system in the EEC. Why were these people given those votes? Having the greater strength when it comes to voting, they have also got a greater responsibility to the Community. One must guard against the Community being used as a plaything to be pushed and used as the larger countries might like to use it, for their own purposes.

Just because there is inflation it does not mean that a country like Germany should be entitled to indulge in a heavy deflationary policy that will interfere with European employment. One must remember there is mobility of labour in the EEC and every decision that is made must be looked at in the context of how it will affect not alone your own country but the other EEC member countries. This is a large part of the criticism of the EEC, why there is dissatisfaction with the EEC. I quoted the statement made by Mr. Heath in relation to the disenchantment people felt about the EEC. He said:

The EEC appears to have failed to deal with the problems affecting the daily lives of ordinary people.

Further on in his statement, which appeared in a supplement to the London Times on 5th November, he did not refer to agriculture until the very end when he referred to the so-called renegotiation.

England's record is very poor in relation to CAP. She has failed and refused to work intervention. We and other countries in Europe have worked it. This is coming back to the old nationalist principle that these countries will use at the wrong time. There must be a little more give and take by all EEC member countries. People talk about political attitudes hardening towards the EEC forgetting that it is primarily an economic community and there will have to be a dropping of rigid attitudes.

I referred already to the failure to produce a regional policy. If the larger or better-off countries fail to agree and refuse to face fundamental facts, one must call in question the honesty of their approach and their real intent to get to economic and monetary union. One can readily instance how CAP was very nearly wrecked by the revaluation of currencies. If one wanted to ride a coach and four through CAP, that was the obvious and the easy way to do it, and, in effect, that has happened and that has been a large part of the trouble in European affairs. You start on a certain basis with a unit of account, you start with currencies at a certain ratio to each other. Then a country can come in unilaterally and revalue its currency. This makes a dog's dinner of the agreed targets and policies. It is unilateral variation.

There is one matter that came before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. They furnished an interim report dealing with the matter of tax harmonisation. This, in turn, is referred to in the third report, dated June, 1974, issued by the Department of External Affairs, at paragraph 14, page 105. I am glad to note that a working group has been set up and that the functions of that group have been limited to fact finding. The Oireachtas committee voiced some concern at the implications of the preliminary proposals of the Commission. The working group have already reported and stated that the policy cannot be implemented by the Commission at the target date of 1st January, 1975. This is due to the complexity of the proposals, the serious problems involved and the necessity for detailed discussion.

I should certainly like to underline the words "necessity for detailed discussion" in the Irish context. There is not much point in aiming for tax harmonisation, which is necessary for the purpose of providing money for the EEC budget, if you are to have a complete up and down, in and out sort of performance on the relativity of the European currencies to each other. You will have considerable difficulties and there will be a rather unreal situation arising if the tax is applied as I have seen it proposed. For instance, one of the proposals would mean that food would have to be taxed, and that is of no assistance, particularly in this inflationary period we are going through.

I note that there are more optimistic reports coming in relation to the several economies in Europe from the point of view of inflation—it seems to be stabilising somewhat—but I should much prefer to see a proper stabilisation of the inflationary situation before going into the realms of a new tax structure where the currencies are not updated in relation to the unit of account. I appreciate that we have the green £ which makes some effort to compensate for inequalities in relation to the unit of account. This in turn has other implications in relation to prices of imported goods. We as a country very open to the effects of outside affairs have to think very hard before we make serious decisions in this field. We had no option but to press for the green £ in the circumstances in which we found ourselves having regard to the mess made by the agricultural section of the Commission in Brussels.

I mentioned that some outside countries require financial assistance in the hope that some of this money obtained by the oil exporting countries would be recycled in the proper direction, but the same can be said for the countries in Europe who are suffering very badly as a result of the increase in the price of fuel. The Community will have to look carefully at its approach in the matter of loans to members of the Community. The giving of loans will have to be looked at in the light of the real resources of the Community as a whole. This has been advocated by M. Monet as desirable and I have noticed that M. Guiscard d'Estaing, the French Premier, is going to have discussions with M. Monet and, arising out of those discussions, something may come of that aspect of Community activity. This is all the more necessary now where large sums of money will have to be made available to deal with the aftermath of the present situation arising out of the fuel crisis. I do not believe the fuel crisis should be any reason for pessimism. We have suffered a good deal as a result of the increase in fuel prices; these are washing through all branches of our economic activity. But the Government have managed the whole problem very well. It is interesting to throw one's mind back to when the fuel crisis first broke and the sort of panic that was being generated by some people who actually advocated rationing. Fortunately, our Minister for Transport and Power held out against the pressure and he has been proved right.

In much of our economic activity we are inclined to be somewhat parochial in that our sights are set somewhat short. In this respect the fuel crisis has taught the country an unwelcome but necessary lesson. We must realise that this country is just part of the entire world community of nations and our economic activities are not just related to the United Kingdom or the European Economic Community; we must have regard for our relationships with the wider world.

When the Estimate for Foreign Affairs was before us on the last occasion I made a small contribution to the debate and one of the matters I mentioned was that of physical aid in human terms, in the sense of individual know-how, professional know-how and so forth, which could be useful to emerging nations and nations in difficulty. Apparently the Minister was working along the same lines. He had already put in train this very desirable objective and it has produced very valuable assistance to these emerging nations. There are now 100 souls working in different activities for these nations. The reference in the Minister's opening speech shows the need for this kind of assistance and proves that such assistance is availed of when it is offered.

With regard to grants or loans available under certain headings, an applicant for a loan likes to know fairly early on where there is a fairly large capital commitment involved what his chances are of qualifying. I have in mind the situation in relation to FEOGA. I understand the practice is not to say whether an applicant qualifies until the full investment has been made by the particular applicant. It would be of considerable assistance if there was some expression of intent: "Look, if you do so and so, you will qualify". Two constituents of mine are applicants for loans. They are engaged in the fishing industry. There is, as we all know, a very heavy capital investment in the building of trawlers. I am talking now about deep sea trawlers, not offshore trawlers. Apparently these applicants are not told whether or not they qualify; they are told only when they have involved themselves fully. The Minister might drop a word in the ear of FEOGA about this because it is a matter of some little concern when one is running into £1 million or £2 million.

The Minister referred to staffing difficulties and how they had been overcome. We were totally unprepared from a staffing point of view where the European Economic Community was concerned. We had made no real provision until membership became a fait accompli. This placed a great strain on the public service. In this context, it is a little odd that a great many countries do not put a great deal of meas on public servants. They require a Minister of State to be present. In one instance a mission constituted of civil servants went out and nothing came of it. On the other hand, when a Minister accompanied the mission quite a bit came of it. All the Minister had to do was to be there. My predecessor in my constituency told me that, when it came down to negotiations in Europe and elsewhere, it is the political point of the mission that is regarded as of vital importance. We have had evidence of this in two instances recently. One instance was the trips made by the Minister for the Gaeltacht and the other was the trips made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. These two trips were well worthwhile. It is hard on Ministers, but I would like to put it on record that trips made by Ministers have produced real results and real dividends from the point of view of trade and contracts.

I welcome the reopening of the Suez Canal. This is a really great move and it should assist considerably in trade and communication. It will, of course, have the effect of reopening one half of the world to the other half. Something will come of that. I should like to make one suggestion to the Minister and, through him, the Government. I do not think we have an ambassador to Israel. We should, as we have an ambassador to another nation in the Middle East. This is an area where it is very necessary that we should have high diplomatic representation.

This Estimate and its supplementaries provide wide scope for debate. I am not in a position to indulge in an extended debate because I was not able to study in full all the implications of the Minister's introductory speech which covered not merely foreign affairs but also international co-operation.

I should like to select a few points and try to deal with them off the cuff. That is the best I can hope to do. One point which immediately affects this country and our membership of the Community, and that of Britain, is the ever-pressing question of the British attitude towards the Community. It is being said—and it was stated in the arguments which led up to the last British general election— that Britain proposes to renegotiate her terms of entry to the Community.

I did not have much time to study speeches made in that election or to watch some of the programmes from the BBC dealing with those matters. From sketchily reading our own daily newspapers and listening to comments on a world basis, it seems to me—and I would think to many more people—that the British are either playing a political game or they are not dealing in realistic terms with the European Community.

I read the Treaty of Rome a good while ago and I doubt—and the Minister reinforced this in his speech— that the British, clever and all as they think they are, can breach the treaty. It would be a very bad day, indeed, if they could. Membership of the Community is as good for Britain as it is for many of the other countries who make up the Community at the moment. Indeed it is a good deal better. I submit that this type of talk or propaganda will not lead to any useful solutions of what the British are aiming at.

From observing this whole matter it seems to me that some of the British politicians think they are back in 1913 and that the British can live in isolation regardless of Europe and the seas around them. Of course, they are not slow to exploit the seas around them. For Ireland there is the problem that the British, to all intents and purposes, are neither in nor out of the Community. It has come to a very bad pass that, this being so, they should set out to impede the trading of other members of the Community, and that their subjects should take it upon themselves— although they say they are the law givers they are now the law breakers —to prevent our exports going into intervention in the Community.

I heard a Welsh farmer last Sunday speak on behalf of the farmers of Britain. Either he was badly briefed or he did not know much about the cattle trade. He gave as one of the excuses for the activities there the fact that cattle were so much dearer in Ireland than they were in Britain. Listening to that argument it seemed mighty strange to me that dealers from Britain would come here to buy dear cattle if they could buy cattle at home much cheaper. There were many flaws in his argument.

The farmers' union in Britain either has not got the confidence or the courage to face the Government of the day and say: "This is your affair. It is not the affair of the farmers of Ireland. They are doing their best." As erstwhile purported leaders, the farming community in Britain have lost their morale in so far as they would take to the streets to prevent their neighbour from exporting its produce to the Community to which it belongs.

We should condemn that action. That is the action which makes Parliament irrelevant. That is the action of the streets. Once politics takes to the streets, that is a blow to Parliament. As politicians, we should make it our business to comment on these matters in time, so that we will keep politics where politics really belong, on the floor of the institution which professes the politics. So far as I know, no Minister in the British Government has come out with a decisive statement condemning those people at the ports. Perhaps the Minister for Agriculture talked in certain terms to the farmers there, but he did not condemn them half strongly enough in the opinion of many here. We are finding it harder than ever before to sell our stock and we want to get rid of the beef in order to make way for the sale of younger stock. The only way we have of ridding ourselves of the beef we have on hands is to sell it into intervention. Fortunately, the Community provides the service of intervention but if we did not have the Community I wonder where would we stand.

When I hear people talking in uncomplimentary terms about the Community this point always springs to mind. It will be recalled that we were long enough depending on the British market and that the British market in turn was always, by virtue of its competition, a dump market. Now that we are trying to get away from that we are being way-laid by the British farmers.

The Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries and Foreign Affairs, if this continues, should take every step possible to bring it to a speedy end. This is not conduct calculated to lead to any sort of commercialism. Our farmers have spoken out in moderate terms, and the various leaders of the farming community have said that they do not want any disagreement with their counterparts in Britain. We all subscribe to that view but it is time it was brought home to the British Government that it is their responsibility and if they are not able to curb their own farmers they are not a Government. If they are not able to appease their farmers by political management or by paying them off in money it has come to a very poor time.

In my view the British believe they are living back in 1913. Two world wars were fought since then and a lot of treasure has gone to the bottom of the sea. The British may live to learn how far some countries in Europe are ahead of them. Even though we are going through a depressed period, Europe will be an example to the rest of the world provided that the Rome Treaty and the EEC rules are given a chance, and provided that we lose the eternal fear of life in general.

It is a strange factor that hand in hand with affluence one has the prospect of hunger not far away in terms of present day communications. A world conference on food is being held this week and we have been told by leading authorities attending that conference that inside five or six years 33 developing countries could be experiencing hunger. We have been told that the only country in a position to solve this problem is America. Instead of the tactics the British Government are engaging in it would be much better if they directed their attention outwardly because the only chance the British, or Irish, have of survival in the long run is by international co-operation. Britain no longer rules the waves and no one shivers now when John Bull shouts.

By now the British must know that they have been losing ground steadily since 1913 and that they are showing no signs of regaining it. It could be said that they won the war but lost it as far as their economy is concerned. The Treaty of Rome, if applied and subscribed to by all members of the Community, has wonderful advantages. In my view Europe can achieve great advances, not merely for the Continent but for the developing nations who depend on Europe.

I read a synopsis of the aid provided in 1973 by the Community for African countries. Whatever may be said about lumbering democracy this aid was provided in double quick time to an area badly in need of it, an area in central Africa. There are 4,000 miles of territory there involved in a phenomenon unknown in history, a drought lasting for eight years which wiped out one of the finest tribes in the Sahara and their cattle population. Despite the fact that the Community is beset with problems aid was given to those stricken people. In addition, the countries making up the Community also gave help.

I subscribe to the view that we would benefit substantially from membership of the Community, provided we have discipline, a sense of purpose and the integrity to play our part, even a small part, as members of the Community. But a small part is important when it comes to matters such as those about which I have been speaking.

We should be doing more to promote trade with Northern Ireland. For many years we have had a trading surplus with the North. This, I think, is the only area where we have a surplus in our favour. We should try to cultivate the idea in Northern Ireland that EEC membership will benefit them in the long run. They seem to be bitten by the same bug as the British. They think they are back in 1913 so far as Britain is concerned and that Britain can afford to carry them indefinitely. This is not so, as any realist knows. Britain could expeditiously use at home the money which is subsidising Northern Ireland, especially in the North of England to rehabilitate some of the industries there.

We have been told that Northern businessmen are astute and keen. If they are they now have a chance to extend the scope of their trade with us and turn their trade deficit into a balance in their favour. This could be done very easily if they tried, but they are not trying. Those who were responsible for trying to keep the wheels of industry turning should direct their minds to this matter. The loud-mouthed politicians on the street corners shout about refusing the Irish pound. Next they will be refusing the European arrangement. They know very well that when Britain finds it difficult to live in isolation in terms of trade, they in the North will not be able to live in isolation either. I am not even referring to the political side of this question.

We now speak of regional aid, regionalism in general and what the Community propose to devote to regional regeneration. We should make the chances which lie in this direction known to the businessmen of Northern Ireland. We have a surplus in our favour of approximately £30 million and in terms of trade export only 10 per cent of our goods. Likewise the flow-back of the North's exportable goods is only about 10 per cent. We should try to widen this bridgehead.

We have heard a good deal of recriminations and exclamations following the various murders, robberies and so forth. In my view, the silent majority in the North do not want rebellion. Like the silent majority in other countries, they could allow themselves to be intimidated by the aggressive, tough, vociferous minority of violent men on both sides. It has been known for such minorities to force countries into difficulties in the past and they may well do so again unless the silent majority there and here rethink this matter. As I said, the first bridgehead could be trade.

I do not know anybody who could offer an opinion on the political side, so much has already been said. Still these murders, counter-murders and revenge killings go on. This is revolting in any alleged Christian community, North or South. I do not admire, and I am sure nobody could admire, the attitude of the British Government at the moment. Having taken steps to try to curb the activities of certain people, it seems that there is a hesitancy, an indecision, which could give false hopes to violent people and which could be the cause of prolonging these activities much further into the future. I would hope the Minister would impress on his colleagues whenever he meets them, be it in England or in Europe, the desirability of a better sense of purpose in this regard, backed up by the necessary action to curb the people who openly advocate on street corners and in halls the boycotting of our goods, of our money, and who generally act as they did at Finaghy 20 years ago. This is not good enough. It might be all right in calmer circumstances but it leads now to murder, counter-murder, revenge killings, the wiping out of families and so on.

It seems that the leaders of thought in Northern Ireland know very well that they could not go it alone. They know very well that Britain has been bleeding for so long there is not that much left. They know very well they would have a future in Europe. We should make known to them also that their future is in Europe with us. Whether or not they would find common ground with us there even in the next 20, 30 or 40 years is doubtful. But I would hazard a guess that in the next five years—if we are all alive and if Europe makes the strides it did in the past five—they will find out the hard way. It would be an indication of a very shortsighted and gullible people were they to say: "We are going to refuse your £ because it does not bear the imprint of Her Majesty." They would be making fools of themselves. One would hope that it is a very small minority only North of the Border who would indulge in that sort of talk. Certainly no politician who purports to be one of Westminster stature should advocate that type of argument for a moment.

On the other hand, we should continue, as much as we can, our efforts to reduce violence, offering the best terms possible by way of trade to our neighbours in the North. In the long run, in this way, it may dawn on the silent majority that, after all, this is the best course to adopt.

I shall leave dealing with the Minister's opening remarks until last. Very briefly, I note that the scope of the activities of his Department has increased rapidly in the last couple of years. Those of us in politics know this very well. We know of the responsibility and extra work thrown on the personnel of that Department. We know also that the coming year will impose an extra strain on the Minister's Department and, even with the help provided, there is no doubt that it will be a difficult assignment. We have to take over the office of presidency of the Community for, is it, six months or the year?

Six months.

This will bear obligations and responsibilities which will devolve on any Minister heading that Department. It involves not alone the task of chairing committees but the capital of the country from whence the Minister comes is to be the meeting place of the Community for the purpose of political initiative. Is not this so?

I want to compliment the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I have known Hugh McCann for a long time. I met him many years ago on the Committee of Public Accounts, when I also met some of his leading personnel. There are now much younger men entering the Department. I hope they will follow their leaders in that Department. Our civil servants did very well at the time of our entry to Europe. They presented our case in a first-class manner and were complimented on it.

The Chair would prefer that neither blame nor praise be attached to any person outside the House.

Yes, but it is usual when speaking on an Estimate——

No praise, lest others may attach blame, please.

I always like to compliment personnel responsible for providing good leadership.

The Deputy will, no doubt, realise the significance of the Chair's ruling in the matter. The Deputy must conclude at 9.30 p.m.

I shall now conclude because, as I said at the outset, I have not had sufficient time to study all the implications of the Minister's Estimate.

Most Deputies contributing to this debate have dealt with EEC conditions. Others have confined themselves to the North of Ireland problem. Some have dealt with both. I do not propose to speak at all on anything other than our relationship with Northern Ireland. Therefore, I should be obliged if I might be allowed express views which I expressed in the past and make some comments on things that have happened since Northern Ireland was last debated in this House. I cannot understand why informed public representatives, even after four years of total conflict in Northern Ireland, still rant the old catch phrases of: "Get the British out; withdraw the subsidies and let Britain declare her intention to withdraw". These were, and perhaps still are, quite popular with people who are removed from the scene of conflict in Northern Ireland; they are deeply-held views of people who have not been forced to re-think the position, or who are not in the front-line of battle in the North of Ireland. I forgive those people but I cannot accept that those who should be informed can continue to rant this kind of nonsense because unless I misjudge the situation it has never been the problem and certainly is not the problem now.

If the British Government tomorrow morning were to agree to these demands, a civil war would take place in the North of Ireland and I do not wish to contemplate the dimensions of such a catastrophe. I do not want the British Army to stay in Northern Ireland for one hour longer than we can afford but the simplistic approach of asking them to withdraw immediately is typical of that which has bedevilled Irishmen not only of this generation but for the past 150 years. This approach is that all our troubles would be solved if we could get John Bull to take out the troops, to withdraw subsidies and to declare that they have no longer any interest in the six north-eastern counties.

Do those people who are mad enough to preach this gospel not understand that the Loyalist community in the North have almost total control over all the services that provide for the care and upkeep of the people in that area? They control ambulances, fire-fighting units, water supplies, sewerage services, hospitals, petrol, electricity, radio and television. If the British Government were to withdraw tomorrow, as demanded by people like my colleague and friend from North-East Donegal, Deputy Blaney, does anyone think that madmen—and they are to be found in every society—who will come to the top and preach violence from a Loyalist platform could not use these forces to cut off every supply from the minority in the North of Ireland?.

That is the reality of the situation. Unless we understand that and unless we are prepared to compromise honourably on basic fundamental beliefs that we have held so dear as a nation for two, three or four generations, this trouble will never end. Those who speak loudly about their theories of republicanism and nationalism are condemning innocent people on the front-line of battle, in the streets of Belfast, to sudden and violent deaths. On the shoulders of the politicians who refuse to lead towards this honourable compromise must remain a certain amount of responsibility for not fulfilling the obligations vested in them by the Irish people who elected them to this Parliament. So far as vote-catching is concerned, it is very nice having the glory of topping the poll or having the mob running after one and shouting one's name. However, it serves no purpose after the election other than the selfpride of claiming that one has a better policy than those who tried to preach moderation.

I do not wish to say publicly some of the things of which I have been made aware during my visits to Northern Ireland, but I can say publicly and with conviction that there are people on both sides who realise they have a problem and that they have an obligation and duty to try to solve it. They also realise if they travel too fast they can leave behind the massive support which it is necessary to bring with them in order to succeed in any settlement.

When I was an Opposition Deputy I found it almost impossible at times to relate my thoughts to the vast majority of the members of Fianna Fáil who were then in Government. I must say there were members of the Cabinet and the former Taoiseach who had an attentive ear and who could listen, and there were members of the Fianna Fáil backbenches who had an attentive ear and listened. However, there were members of that party who did not give full consent at that time to a movement towards mutual settlement in the North of Ireland and I want publicly to admit that at the moment I believe there is a similar situation within the ranks of Fianna Fáil.

When I look across at them I wonder if it is their fault or whether in some peculiar way the present Government may find they are not doing enough to open up the avenues of possibility on this terrible problem, to assist people in the Opposition to come on a neutral front to help make a contribution towards a peaceful settlement in the North. By that I mean that as a Parliament and a people we are inclined to wish away the things we do not like in the Northern scene. We talk about power-sharing, of the Irish dimension and the Council of Ireland. We make loud noises about matters over which we have no direct control. All we can do is hope that something will happen up there; all we can do is speak with our friends and try to communicate with those who hold different political views.

That is basically the total contribution that the people south of the Border can make at the moment. We cannot get involved in Northern politics to the extent that we would have control over things we would like to see happening. However, with regard to matters over which we have control in the South, we have done nothing about them. When people north of the Border who oppose our way of life point the finger of scorn and accusation we cannot totally dismiss the accusation without questioning if we have been inadequate in some way in not meeting the demands of our people.

I am conscious of the fact that if I embark on a particular aspect I have been preaching for the last two or three years I may be misunderstood. However, those who want to misunderstand me are free to do so but I want to assure the House, the Government and the Opposition that I speak for the noblest of reasons. I sincerely believe that unless we, as a Parliament, agree on certain basic fundamental issues, on a clearly stated bipartisan agreement, we will not be fulfilling the obligations elected representatives are expected to fulfil.

There are basic differences between the Government and the Opposition and it will be difficult for either side to meet at a given point. In this regard the two most contentious points at present are enshrined in our Constitution, namely, Articles 2 and 3. If we preach about co-operation and power-sharing in the North and if we believe firmly in what we are saying, it is not too much to say to this Parliament that we must be prepared to have a total bipartisanship agreement on our approach to Northern Ireland. As an Opposition Deputy I found it difficult to understand why the Government of the day were not letting the Opposition know enough in regard to the everyday affairs of Northern Ireland. Perhaps there were times when I accused the then Government unfairly but I did so believing that my criticism was justified. From conversations I have had with members of Fianna Fáil I am aware that their attitude towards us now is similar to what my attitude was in making those accusations against them. I appeal to the Government to re-think this question of bipartisanship and I appeal to the Opposition to rise to the occasion and, first, to bury the differences that are within Fianna Fáil and, secondly, to be more statesman-like in respect of the Government approach to Northern Ireland.

It may not be strictly within the terms of this debate to speak of a new Constitution but that question forms part and parcel of our relationship with Northern Ireland and also of the British approach to the North. When we talk of a new Constitution let not some members of Fianna Fáil forget that the first serious attempt to change our Constitution was made by the late Seán Lemass, as Taoiseach, and that the second attempt was made by Deputy Lynch during his period as Taoiseach. We are continuing in our efforts in that direction but let us not forget that the type of Constitution we need must be one which, if we want to make a contribution towards a new Ireland, or an Ireland that will be united, whether politically or in thought among the people, must be generous and which will be pluralist in every respect. Let no one throw up his hands in horror and say that a pluralist society is a secular society because a pluralist society can be, basically, a very Christian society. If it were anything other than a Christian society, I would not be advocating it. Let us not become involved in argument as to whether we are letting down our noble dead by changing Articles of the Constitution which pay tribute to them. Let us stop preaching to the tombstones in Glasnevin and in the other cemeteries in which our noble dead are buried. Those people have made their contribution to Ireland but the contribution which we must make is to the people who are alive and our efforts must be aimed at preventing the further loss of lives in the northern part of this State.

Therefore, I appeal to the Fianna Fáil Party in general to be more open in their views and I appeal to the Government again to re-think their attitude to bipartisanship, to avoid the areas of contention which divide them and the Opposition and to try to find more common ground which will allow us to progress along a path of reconciliation for the North. We continue to utter pious platitudes but we can make no contribution to the northern problem unless we are prepared to deal with those matters in the South that are calling out for attention. If we fail in that regard any efforts made by way of public utterances or otherwise will be seen by Northern observers and, indeed, Southern society to be hypocritical.

We have few alternatives in so far as the North is concerned. I was a disciple of the Sunningdale Agreement and the only complaint I had in regard to it was that, perhaps, it was too ambitious. Not only did it meet all the demands that I would make in regard to it but it went somewhat further and this perhaps was its weakness. However, Sunningdale is of the past but there are alternatives. We can have a UDI declared by the Loyalists; we can have negotiated independence by both communities in the North; we can have power-sharing; we can have union with Great Britain with majority rule as was the case under the old Stormont; we can have direct rule from Westminster or we can have total anarchy. Those Loyalists in the North who believe that UDI would settle their problem are only offering the minority street politics. They are only offering the minority the status of second-class citizens. We know from experience and they must understand that UDI cannot work.

If negotiated independence would comprise the consent of both communities in the North, this Parliament will have to recognise that there could be a united Ireland or a new Ireland not, perhaps, under one Parliament but under two Parliaments. That is something that this Parliament may have to consider in the future.

I agree with the concept of power-sharing. It is my belief that the Northern community would be more willing to give their consent to power-sharing than to any of the other possibilities that I have mentioned. I say this because, despite what many people, including some leaders of the Loyalist population may say, I do not think that the Ulster Workers' strike in March of this year was against the concept of power-sharing. Rather, I am convinced that it was more anti-Executive and anti-Council of Ireland. My reason for this belief is that in June, 1973, there was put before the community in Northern Ireland the British White Paper on a new Constitution for that part of this island and that at that time all the groups, political or otherwise, representing the various sectors put forward candidates for election. It is estimated that at least 60 per cent of those elected to the Assembly believed in and supported the concept of power-sharing. These Assembly members represented a very basic thinking of the Northern community.

I am convinced, too, that the Northern Loyalists or Unionists or the Northern person who does not wish to join the society in the South is as fair-minded in his approach to a fair settlement as we can claim to be. These people have the same right to commonsense as has any Member of this House. I am convinced that if there were a fair basis for settlement the Northern community would not reject power-sharing as a system of administration in that part of the country.

Under the old Stormont administration the situation of union with Great Britain but with majority rule failed and can never be restored successfully. Direct rule, which is the system in operation at the moment, is acceptable neither to the Northern Loyalists nor to the Northern Nationalists. Therefore it is only an interim measure put forward by the British Government. I believe, as Deputy Carter has just said, that the British Government are not doing enough at the moment to find a solution to the problems of the North. It may be, having said that, that in the South we have lost the initiative—if we ever had it. I am not at all satisfied that the British Government at the moment, whatever the reason is, are doing enough to cool the situation in the North. After what happened in Long Kesh yesterday one would not have to elaborate on that point of view to prove the point.

The alternative to a settlement which does not meet with the consent of the vast majority of people in the North, the wide spectrum of public opinion, will not succeed. The only alternative to that is total anarchy with lives being lost, property destroyed and other matters, which are not alone crying out for attention in the North but demanding attention throughout the entire 32 Counties, being left unattended. We know the amount of destruction that has taken place in the North, the lack of services that could be provided for the underprivileged, such as physically and mentally handicapped people and the housing needed to rehouse people. The amount of money that has been lost through wanton destruction is alarming. We think of how that money could be properly spent and the type of society we could have in this island if we could only find the solution.

We cannot find a solution by drumming out the old war cries and slogans of the past. We must acknowledge the fact that there are people North of the Border who do not want to join us and are not even interested in talking to us about a settlement. That is the position. Whether you withdraw the British troops and British subsidy or get them to declare their intention to withdraw, it will not alter the fact that you are left with the problem of having two communities living in this island —basically the Northern Loyalists and the Southern Republicans, for want of a better description—whose ways of life are alien to each other. The Northern Protestants believe they are threatened. They believe that because we are the majority we are all the time conniving between each other, scheming to undermine them and to overrun them at some future date. That is the fear of Northern Loyalists among other fears they have.

I know, members of the Government Parties know and members of the Opposition know that, if we were to have a settlement with this Northern community and if we were to be over-generous in our approach to a settlement, even that would be suspect. We must prove to those people that we do not want to undermine them. Deputy Blaney spoke about a low profile. That to me means that we must prove to the people north of the Border that we can build a society south of the Border which they will want to join or a society which, at least, if they do not want to join it they can stand back and quietly admire it. This is what I understand to be a low profile. If you talk about any other aspect of our relationship with Northern Ireland you are talking about involvement. If we get involved we do not have to tell our next door neighbour what side we would take in the event of a civil war.

I remember in one of the early speeches I made in 1969 on the Northern Ireland problem I said that basically in this island there were 2 per cent of our people who were destructive, violent and who had hatred in their hearts but that that 2 per cent had it in their power to draw battle lines and that when those battle lines were drawn those on each side would opt for the side into which they were born. The situation is still the same. The figure has never gone much above 2 per cent. I hope it has gone slightly below it now. That 2 per cent of our society, both north and south of the Border, still have the power to draw battle lines and still can force people to take sides. They can still leave us with an opportunity of criticising people who become involved.

I come from the Northern part of the country. I know many people just across the Border and very close to the Border on the Donegal side who have relations in the north of Ireland. They are emotionally involved. I know what it is to try and communicate with people who are emotionally involved. When people refer to gunmen as murderers I do not dismiss them and call them total anarchists or murderers in the sense I understand murder to mean. I admit they have broken the Fifth Commandment and I do not know what way I would accept them into my community if the life of any of my children was taken by one of them. Nevertheless we must not fail to recognise that they are a product of our society.

Whether we believe it individually or not, collectively each of us shares a certain responsibility for not finding answers to this problem before now. We have allowed a situation to develop in the North, and perhaps to a degree in the South, where people have taken up polarised positions; and whether this is because of something which has been taught to them in their homes, schools or history books or through religious teaching, collectively as a society we must accept some responsibility for not seeking out the answers to this problem. I speak here of all people in the South whether from the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party, the Fianna Fáil Party or those who do not support any of those parties, and I include every section of society North of the Border. Unless the politicians in the South—their task is not that difficult—and particularly the politicians in the North lead to a central position I will never understand if history does not condemn these people. Historians will dismiss them as demi gods, anarchists and people who failed to do something about the problems people voted for them to attend to.

Britain is not the problem in the North of Ireland at the moment. In saying that I am conscious of the fact that Britain is very much responsible for many of the things that have happened there, because I believe Britain neglected Northern Ireland for 50 years. They accepted certain information from one section of the community in Northern Ireland without inquiring if it was the proper advice or wrongly based advice. I am now satisfied they understand the problem in Northern Ireland, that they listen to reason from Northern Ireland, and that they want to get out of Northern Ireland. Up to now they might have left Northern Ireland with honour, but they may now decide to leave it in disgrace. If they do, the people shouting loudest at the moment to get the British out may find, as a Catholic priest in Belfast said to me recently, that the Catholic people may drop on their knees in the streets of Belfast to pray for the British to stay a while longer to prevent a holocaust that could occur if people lost their heads.

Those who claim that if the British get out we can solve the problem ourselves are really saying that we cannot find a solution now but if we could get rid of the British we could sit down and talk to Northern society. They are really saying that it is easier to find a solution when people start fighting with each other in civil war conditions than it is when the British Army stand between the two communities. Let us persuade, for the purest of reasons, both communities in the North to work out a solution which we in the South can honour.

I know accusations have been made against the British Army and I know that members of that army have carried out atrocious acts in the North; but such is the situation that when we think of that we must also think that when university students rioted in America a few years ago the US National Guard was called out and national guardsmen shot dead members of that student movement. It could happen even if we had our own Irish Army policing a situation. Where you have loaded guns and men trained to use them inevitably you will have conflicts which will end in death.

I might be somewhat generous in making these remarks regarding the British Army. I might be accused by people who do not want to think this way of being white-livered and not living up to my responsibilities. I am merely trying to see the human aspect of what happens when an armed soldier in a riot situation, not understanding what it is all about—some of these soldiers who have come across here are only boys—not knowing who is friend or foe and having to take action without deep thought. I can feel justified in my accusation that they have been more ruthless with the minority in Northern Ireland than with the Loyalists. Anybody who ignores that position or ducks out of it is not recognising facts; but it is fair to say that, no matter what army has the civilian task of trying to keep the peace, trying to do a job an army was never meant to do, we must realise that is a situation in which people may be killed.

I mention this to strike a note of urgency in the minds of Deputies of all parties, and particularly in the minds of members of the Government, because every effort must be made to communicate with every level of society north of the Border. Some members of the community have said that we have been speaking to gunmen; but I believe that if you disagree with a section of a community and you want to come to terms with that section, the choices are few. You can shoot them—eliminate them altogether—you can lock them up or we can talk to them. Perhaps, like others, I have made the mistake of speaking at people rather than to people. There are certain difficulties in communicating with people like this, and perhaps the Press may not be as generous as they should be, but unless we can get the people who pull the triggers to stop pulling triggers we are left with the problem. The only way you can persuade people to stop pulling triggers is to eliminate them by execution, to lock them up or to talk reason with them. I opt totally for the last course because the other two have never worked and never will.

If any single action can be blamed for the holocaust that has taken place in Northern Ireland in the last five years nothing can equal the responsibility carried by the act of internment. In the recent past I have spoken to people who have been interned. One man told me he was interned for two years and did not know why. The other was interned for over two and a half years. The only thing he could admit was that he had Republican sympathies but he was not involved in violence nor did he subscribe to violence. I need not tell the House how these men now react.

Internment can never be justified but, having said that, as a public representative I believe that my responsibilities are greater to the community than to an individual. I support the ending of internment but I make this appeal to those who are more likely to be interned than others: internment cannot be ended unless violence stops. Deputy Blaney made a point this evening on which I take issue with him but which is hard to explain to the children or the wife of a man who is interned: whether he is behind bars as a result of a special criminal court case or lifted by soldiers from his own home and locked up, the fact remains that his movements are confined and his family upset.

I want to see a situation where we will not have internment or detention or special courts and I want to support the Government that will end these things. But we must be realistic. Unless those who are involved at the opposite end are prepared to cease violent activities and become politically motivated, we cannot end internment. If Mr. Rees were to open the gates of Long Kesh tomorrow morning and release all the internees, unless the violence ceased he would be forced either to rearrest people under the Special Powers Act or have them tried before military courts on suspicion and you are still left with the problem.

I do not have to labour the point. I hope the Press will convey my views to the Loyalist section who are violent and to the Republican section who are violent that without their co-operation internment, whether in the form of detention without trial or jailing through the Special Powers Act, cannot be ended. By co-operation I mean that they would become less violent and more constitutional in their outlook. At times the Loyalists may point to the South and say that in any further settlement there should be no "Irish dimension". Maybe this title is somewhat offensive to them and we might try to think of some other title such as "Anglo-Irish dimension" or "North-South Agreement" which would be less offensive to that community. But whatever it is called, the fact remains that there must be some type of co-operation between North and South.

I give the example of the Foyle Fisheries Commission as having an Irish dimension. The Electricity Supply Board and the Northern Ireland Electrical Board are another example of an Irish dimension. Under EEC regulations the customs barriers between North and South will be removed and in such a situation Donegal would be a hinterland for the commercial life of Derry city, and that would be an Irish dimension. The tourist boards North and South who work in co-operation and who sell the idea of more southern people going North and more northern people coming South are a further example.

One of the points which is supposed to have precipitated the Loyalist strike was what was described as the Irish dimension in the Sunningdale Agreement. They understood it to mean another step on the road to a united Ireland and they were against it. I would like to say to that community—and no doubt some of my remarks will get there—that an Irish dimension means something completely different to me. It means a mutual understanding between North and South. It means a harmonising of laws North and South, whereby we could have complete harmony between North and South without the southern community using a threat to take over the Northern community and browbeat them into a way of life for which they have never shown any enthusiasm.

The other aspect of the Sunningdale Agreement to which the Northern community objected was the Council of Ireland. As one of the Members of this House who first floated the idea of a Council of Ireland after it had lain dormant for 50 years, my understanding of a Council of Ireland at the time was that it would be nothing more than a waffle shop where members of both Parliaments could meet, exchange views and consider matters of mutual concern and interest, and having listened to each other, they would report back to their respective Ministers to have the matters attended to. At the outset I said the Sunningdale Agreement was a little more ambitious than I expected it to be. I am satisfied that the Council of Ireland could serve a useful purpose without being objectionable to the Northern community. It could be a structure involving a Northern and Southern parliament. This would enable the Northern and Southern communities through the committees that would be appointed by both parliaments, to meet and exchange views.

The myths of republicanism and nationalism are surely being exposed at the moment. The myth of loyalism and unionism has just about the same meaning. Republicanism and nationalism meant different things to me as a growing boy than they mean to me now. I hope that people who have been brought up in a Portestant atmosphere, born into a unionist tradition, will have rethought what unionism and loyalism mean to them. If I do not have the right to provide for my wife and family, if I do not have the right to have friendship with my neighbours and to live on this island as a Christian and communicate and make friends with people, then nationalism and republicanism are completely meaningless to me. If the loyalist person does not have the same right to live in Northern Ireland, then loyalism and unionism are completely meaningless. They are myths which, unfortunately, successful politicians have portrayed with a different image for their own ends. Innocent people have paid the price. Families have been destroyed because some member of their family has lost his or her life. Families have been destroyed even without losing a member of the family because they are unable to live as Christians in the North of Ireland. People cannot walk the streets of Belfast at night. Young people cannot move freely from cinema to dance-hall. They are confined to socialising in each others homes. If there is any value on social activities and if there is any value on the things I speak about, there is an obligation on politicians to find common ground, to have a complete reformation of political thinking north of the Border.

In a conversation with a member of the loyalist community in the north of Ireland recently I asked him what did union with Britain mean to all the British soldiers who had been killed since the trouble started in the North of Ireland? What did loyalism mean to the Protestant people who lost their lives during the strife? And what did republicanism mean to the Catholics who are now dead? His reply was something along these lines: loyalists in the North of Ireland would willingly lay down their lives to create a better Ulster for themselves and their families. That man really believed it until I asked him the next question. I was in his home and I had met his wife and family, and his wife had just served us with tea and left the room. I said: "I have just met your wife and family. Are you telling me that if I shot you dead now your wife and family would have a better Ulster to live in? I hope he saw the point I was making. As far as I am concerned, I hope my family would think more of me.

I listened to the speeches of the Minister and of the Opposition spokesman with very great interest. I would like to congratulate both the Minister and the Opposition spokesman, Deputy O'Kennedy, on extremely good contributions here yesterday.

I will have a good deal to say about the North of Ireland and about our policies or what the Opposition believe is our lack of policy towards it, also about our relations with Britain. But I should like to begin, if I may, as the Minister is here, by saying something about a quite different subject, namely the subject of human rights in the world at large, in no way with special reference to the North of Ireland. The Minister spoke in connection with Greece, Portugal, South Africa, Rhodesia and Chile, of the tremors in the political crust of the world, of the volcanoes which either had erupted or were clearly due to erupt. Those tremors and eruptions very obviously have human rights dimensions. The Minister is rightly concerned with them. I do not think I am being unjust to any of his predecessors when I say that he has evidenced, since he became Minister, a more active and energetic concern for human rights in distant countries that any Minister of any side in this State before.

There is just one thing I should like to say. I know the Minister knows my admiration for him and my very deep and genuine respect for him and that he, therefore, will not take these words as being in any way meant in a critical sense but only meant as a footnote to some of the things which he said yesterday.

He referred in the latter stages of his speech to the democratic systems which, in recent years, have been overthrown in various countries and replaced, as he very fairly said, by dictatorships of the right or of the left. He said, with an optimism which I hope events in Greece and Portugal will turn out to have justified, that the suppression of liberty and its replacement by dictatorship is not a one-way process, that dictatorships have to contend with the human spirit, that they can never leave it out of the reckoning and are always at the risk that it will rise up and strike them down. It is perfectly true that the military dictatorship in Greece and the somewhat more civilianised dictatorship in Portugal have been shattered. What is going to emerge in the heel of the hunt from these developments I think it is too early to say. There are people who are very doubtful and have expressed very serious misgivings about the likely outcome of events in Portugal certainly, possibly even in Greece.

It seems that the subversion of liberty by a dictatorship and the abolition of parliamentary democracy by a dictatorial system, in spite of the Minister's very fair reference both to the right and to the left, is much commoner in one direction than in the other. Speaking roughly from memory I can only think of one instance in which an avowedly Marxist régime was subverted from within and turned into a régime of the right, and that was the instance of Chile, which was a régime in which the presidential power had been democratically conferred on the late president; and the Minister expressed very properly his sense of scandal and outrage that this democratically elected president should have been pulled down by militarists who have put what is very evidently an extremely cruel and brutal régime in his place. The régime of the late president of Chile was remarkable not only for the fact that it was the only Marxist presidency that I can think of which was the result of a democratic election but also in so far as the Chilean president did not attempt to destroy the legislature on which he in part depended, nor did he control that legislature. In other words, he permitted, so far as I can judge it at the distance of 15,000 miles and without pretending to be a very close student of foreign politics, and did not deprive his people of the institutions to which the people had been previously accustomed. His proceedings were in very sharp contrast to the proceedings of most Marxist authoritarians once they make themselves masters of a country.

I do not want to sound cynical. I think it is an extremely sad reflection on what are supposed to be Christian countries, but in a sense, if I were a Marxist activist I would have learned a very bitter lesson from the life and death of President Allende. I would say to myself, looking at his history, "if you want to survive, having got yourself democratically elected, repress democracy and repress the institutions you find when you arrive because if you leave any breathing space at all, the forces of reaction will rise and crush you by hook or by crook". That is what apparently happened in Chile. I will not offer the House a judgment on it, but the experts say there is no question but that President Allende made very serious mistakes in the economic field and that he may, in some degree, have been the author of his own misfortune, but he remains the only instance of Marxist head of state who was democratically elected, who made an effort to maintain democratic institutions once elected, and who was submerged by the waves of reaction. Every other Marxist régime that has emerged since the "glorious revolution" of October, 1917, has not only succeeded in defending itself against the forces of reaction but has repressed every other force as well, including social democracy.

While I recognise entirely and very much admire the Minister's anxiety to redress the balance of sympathy which in this country in the forties, fifties and, I suppose, even the sixties was too heavily on the side of authoritarian regimes of the Right, and while I think he is perfectly correct in doing so, I think I ought to add, as a footnote to his speech, that freedom, in the sense we understand it, the freedom which allows me to speak my mind and which allows Deputy Carter opposite to sit there patiently knowing that he will be entitled to speak and that the time will come when the two of us, I hope, will stand before the electorate, that kind of freedom and all the ancillary freedoms that go with it—of the Press, of speech, of association, of the person——simply do not exist for most people on the face of this earth. That is the sad truth; and we in western Europe are somewhat spoiled ——even in western Europe freedom does not exist everywhere——by comparison with other people in enjoying it.

It is true that in the fifties——I single out that decade only because it was for me the first decade of adulthood; I have no doubt it was the same in the thirties and forties——the emphasis here was exclusively against dictatorships of the Left. I can recall, as other Members here can, the parades in Dublin demonstrating against the imprisonment of the Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty on charges the trial of which was disgraced by the very evident fact that he had been drugged or bullied into making admissions. I can recall the indignation here at the treatment of Archbishop Stepinac, even though the question of drugs did not arise in his case, and even though in his case he had the misfortune to belong to the Croatian people who had, for reasons good or bad, been somewhat identified with the German occupation of Jugoslavia throughout the war.

I can recall the intense indignation which these incidents produced here among a very largely Catholic people and in that indignation the fact that if one happened to be a Spanish Socialist or a Portuguese Communist one was very likely to be either in jail or in exile was forgotten or ignored. I think the Minister is quite right to try to redress that balance. However, I should like to sound a friendly warning, not to him——naturally I would not presume to do such a thing——but to the House and, if it does not seem too pompous to say so, to the country, against falling overboard in condemnation of authoritarian regimes which are of the Right. The Minister singled out South Africa and Rhodesia and now Chile, the latter with great justification: by all accounts it is a most brutal regime, of a most savage variety, which has apparently murdered hundreds if not thousands of people without charge, trial or anything else. That seems to be pretty well admitted even by people who have no special admiration or regard for the Marxist regime which preceded it.

It is only right to remember that the world is full of regimes about which very little is heard, because very little is allowed to be heard about them, in which the ordinary citizen is not allowed to form a political party of his own choosing, is not allowed to organise meetings to discuss matters of his own choosing; is not allowed either to read or to write papers or any published material of his own choosing, and is never given the opportunity to elect his rulers. Though I do not expect the Minister to present the House with a litany or catalogue of authoritarian States——it would take him the best part of the evening to do so——and though I know perfectly well that there is no man in Dáil Éireann more conscious than he is of the existence of those conditions, it is only fair to say for the benefit of the people to whom the Press have access that the most vocal protests in my experience in recent years have been against the states which are authoritarian on the Right and that very little is now heard ——in very strong contrast to the situation that existed 20 years ago——about states which are authoritarian on the Left.

We are familiar with the Anti-Apartheid Movement, of whose objectives I approve. We are familiar with protests against the late regime in Greece, but nothing now is heard about the kind of regime which was a common object of justified scorn in the fifties. Take a country, for example, like Cuba. The Cubans certainly were oppressed by an extremely brutal and dirty regime under ex-sergeant Batista. There is no question about that whatever; but that regime was replaced about 13 or 14 years ago by one which has not yet given the Cuban people a chance to cast a vote. Not only that, but when Dr. Castro got into power he held trials of his political opponents——many of them, no doubt, very nasty, brutal people—— in football stadiums under floodlights and then shot them by the hundred in trenches under television cameras and allowed that to be shown around the world.

That is how this hero of the Third World behaved in 1961 or 1962——I will not vouch for the exact date. I have not forgotten that and I refuse to be blinded by demonstrations about the evils committed in the name of the Right——evil is undoubtedly committed and savageries are committed in the name of the Right——but I refuse to be blinded to the evils committed by those of the Left, who tend in this world, for reasons which I will not explore——and which if I tried to explore would most certainly make me enemies among people whom I must conciliate——to be supplanted as popular ogres by the ogres of the Right.

The Irish people are very fortunate in having had during the last 52 years a democratic polity. I do not regard myself as being beholden to the other side for that. Fianna Fáil have been in power for most of my life. I do not regard myself as being obliged to thank them for having maintained a good standard of human rights here, because I feel the Irish people are entitled to no less. But I recognise that, even in times which were difficult for the party now in Opposition, an effort was made, very largely a successful effort, to maintain those rights. I recognise also that the judicial arm of the State, when it asserted these rights, was with only trivial exceptions not interfered with. I recognise these things gladly. I do not thank anybody for them because a free Irish citizen is entitled to no less, I recognise them, and I think that we as a people, whether our inclinations are to the Right or the Left, must recognise the benefits that have been conferred on us.

We are a member of a very small club in western Europe who are very highly politically privileged, apart from whatever economic privileges we enjoy which, even in a country of the relative poverty of Ireland, are considerable. We are politically very privileged in being able to speak our minds without fear from the State.

I am sorry to say that whether the liberty to speak our minds without fear from persons other than the State still exists, or will continue to exist, is a more dubious thing now than it was five years ago. But so far as the State is concerned we can speak our minds without fear of a knock on the door at 2 o'clock in the morning because we have spoken out of turn. That is something that we need not thank anybody else for——we deserve no less——but we are a very privileged small people who belong to a very privileged small club in enjoying these freedoms. That should make us all the more fierce in defending them, and also in trying to extend by persuasion the benefits of these freedoms to the countries with which we come in diplomatic contact.

The Minister very rightly, honestly and honourably, mentioned the relative smallness of this little club in the particular context of the European Human Rights Court and Commission. He said the Strasbourg cases were examples of a process which is unique in the world, a process whereby any human being, no matter what his nationality, can complain in Strasbourg against any State which is a signatory to the clause in the European Human Rights Convention submitting to a jurisdiction and based on an alleged infraction of human rights. But the Minister went on to say, and it is quite true, that the fact is that many countries outside Western Europe still reject the concept of human rights transcending national sovereignty. I think I would have left out those last three words. I quite agree they are apposite in the context in which the Minister used them and essential to the logic of the particular paragraph, but the fact is that, not alone do many countries outside Western Europe reject the concept of human rights transcending national sovereignty, but they reject the concept of human rights——full stop. It is not simply that a Bulgarian, or a Czech, or a Pole, or a Hungarian has no international court to which he can have recourse if he is refused permission to leave his own territory, publish his political views, or form a political party; it is not alone that he has not got an international court to which he can have recourse, but there is just nowhere at all to which he can have recourse inside or outside his own territory.

I do not want to labour this point. The Minister has put immense effort and immense sincerity and energy, as everybody knows, into every job he has ever had; his present post is the most important he has ever held and his performance is the most brilliant example of the talents he has got. I hope he will not take these comments as in any way detracting from the force of what he was saying; they are most certainly not intended in that way. I use the Minister's speech merely as a launching pad for these observations; and I am sorry to have to say this, but I detect in the world around me an inclination which is undoubtedly sustained by points of view which are, perhaps, over-represented, statistically speaking, among the media compared with their representation among ordinary people, and that inclination is to give a blacker eye to tyranny, if it comes from the Right, than if it comes from the Left.

In my view, that is double thinking. It is a double standard, and I am sure the Minister rejects it. But it is important to keep saying it, because in the elation of finding a regime like that of Portugal or Greece swept away, one tends to forget that there are many other regimes, with some of which we are in diplomatic contact, with some of which we are in trade contact, which will never be swept away by the actions of their own people, if past experience is anything to go on, because they have a powerful friend close at hand who will make sure that they are not swept away.

We had two examples of that in the last 20 years, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In Czechoslovakia even a moderate degree of liberalisation could not be tolerated; and in Hungary a revolution, much like those in Greece and Portugal, admittedly of a much more radical character, was ruthlessly trampled on by the military forces of a nominally quite separate sovereign state. I do not want to labour the point. I know quite well I am pushing an open door so far as the Minister is concerned and also, I believe, where Deputy O'Kennedy is concerned. I would go so far as to say I am pushing an open door so far as all, or nearly all, of the Members of this House are concerned.

I think there is a point of view very well represented and strongly defended in the media and also in organisations which are not represented in Parliament which regards a murder committed by the Right as somehow worse than one committed by the Left, which regards a wrongful imprisonment perpetrated by the Right as intrinsically more evil than a wrongful imprisonment committed by the Left, which regards the denial of freedom of speech, or the freedom of the Press, or freedom of association or assembly, if it happens in a country dominated by the Right, as an unspeakable obscenity and a denial of human nature, but is very willing to find excuses for these things when they occur in countries where a red flag flies in some shape or form. I regard that as a double standard and I reject it. I know that individual Members, from whatever side they come, unanimously, or as good as unanimously, reject it also.

This lengthy prelude to what I really want to say in this debate is because I have not heard this point of view being uttered since I came into this House. I think it is important to put it on record, for what it is worth, even though I know at this late hour of the night it will get very little coverage.

It is scarcely worth passing at this hour of the night to the subject of Northern Ireland, but let me mention just one simple incident of a denial ——not so much a denial, but a grotesque contempt for human life manifested by people from whom we are geographically not very far distant and with whom, it is true, we have no diplomatic relations and not even any very substantial trade relations, a people who are within two hour's flight from Dublin Airport. Eastern Germany is divided from Western Germany by a system of walls and barbed wire. For a certain period it was possible to escape from the east to the west through the open city of Berlin. During that period it is perfectly true the East Germans lost the cream of their intellect, the cream of their skilled workers and technologists. Now I do not blame any country for taking steps to make sure it is not bled white of the people it desperately needs for either its national or its economic existence. The East Germans decided they could not allow what was happening to continue, and so they built the Berlin Wall. If I were a German I would certainly not have liked the look of the wall, but I probably would have tried to find some understanding of it and possibly some excuse. But this is the point I so seldom hear made by the media who every day of the week are scourges of the regimes of the Right. Indeed, this is a point I never hear made.

Let them have their wall, let them have their barbed wire and let them do their best with police guards to prevent people getting over the wall. But let them not shoot to bits a man who succeeds in climbing to the top of the wall or who succeeds in running across a few yards of no-man's-land. That is the thing I find so revolting about that regime. It is not so much the wall. It is not so much the attempt to forbid people leaving the particular territory. There is no question but that they were suffering intensely from the migration of people in the fifties who were able instantly to command far better standards of living and ten times the real income in Western Germany. I quite see the point that they might take measures sterner than anything we would take in the way of building walls and being slow to provide exit visas, but to go to the length of machine-gunning a man to bits or allowing him to take the risk of walking on a land mine, that is the length I find so unspeakable. That is the thing I find so horrible.

If an East German manages to climb a wall, or find his way through a minefield or cut his way through barbed wire, then I say good luck to him. I certainly could not find it in my heart if I were a border guard to shoot or give an order to shoot. I am sure in this I speak for most people. We are talking about a man who has not committed any crime except the offence of crossing a frontier which, in Western Europe, is not an offence at all. That is the kind of contempt for human life which characterises regimes, certainly those of the Right and of the Left, but which is hammered by the loud-mouthed, one-sided critics of tyranny in this country only when it proceeds from the Right. It is true items of this kind are reported, but I am still waiting to see an association formed here for the reform of the East German criminal law which permits——indeed, requires——a border guard to shoot dead a man for climbing over a wall. That is all I want to say in this part of my speech. On the next occasion I hope I will be able to move on to problems nearer home.

Debate adjourned.