Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Government's North of Ireland Policy.


asked the Taoiseach the Government's policy in regard to seeking a declaration of intent from the British Government to withdraw from Ireland.

The Programme for Government 1981-1986 indicates that the Government will continue to strive to unite the people of this island. It also indicates that in seeking to do this on the basis of reconciliation and consent, the Government will seek the full support of the British Government who have a crucial role. In the Government's view that role should be played in a positive manner by indicating publicly what so many British political leaders say in private, that they wish to see the unity of the people of Ireland and that they will support everything that promotes the achievement of that objective with the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. I want to stress that in the Government's view it is also vitally necessary to eradicate the suspicions, fears and misunderstandings that divide the major traditions within Ireland. We are pledged to do everything possible to that end.

In order to remove the suspicion on the part of the minority in the Six Counties, will the Taoiseach give serious consideration to the positive request that Britain make such a declaration and cease to make the declaration that she will stay there as long as the majority contrive, as was once the case?

I have stated our position clearly. The British declaration was made at the time of Sunningdale and is part of the joint declarations on which the British Government based their support for Irish unity achieved by agreement. That is the position which we would hope the British Government would be willing to return to and assert as they did at that time. Beyond that I have nothing to add to my reply.

Has the Taoiseach considered or will he consider recalling our Ambassador to London with a view to having consultations with him in view of the deteriorating situation in Northern Ireland and such an overspill of violence in the Republic?

That does not arise on this question.

That is a separate question.

Has the Taoiseach brought to the notice of or asked the British Prime Minister how many more fractured homes and psychologically ruined internees we are going to have before she at last sees the light and acts in a humane fashion? Further, is she aware that the role of her troops in the North of Ireland is one of marauding and molesting rather than, as she says, peace-keeping?

With regard to the part of the Deputy's question which appeared to relate to the situation in the Maze Prison, the House will be aware that we have made every effort in this matter to secure a resolution of the problem along the lines suggested by the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace. I have nothing to add to the other part of the question.

Would the Taoiseach agree that repeated calls for British withdrawal from Northern Ireland at this time would be unhelpful and harmful in the present state of relations between this country and Britain and, indeed, that these repeated calls for British withdrawal from Northern Ireland could be offensive to the one million British subjects in the North of Ireland to whom the sign "Brits Out" is offensive because they are British and Northern Irish just as the Welsh are Welsh and British and the Scottish are Scottish and British at the same time?

Spoken like a true Tory.

I note what Deputy Kemmy has said and I agree that repeated calls for British withdrawal without regard to the circumstances which exist in Northern Ireland are simplistic and do not help the situation.

I fail to see how the Taoiseach can answer a reasonable question put by Deputy Kemmy and other Deputies in this House and yet say that the question I have put to him is a separate question.

Deputy Kemmy's supplementary question was relevant to this.

I have already asked a question. Will the Taoiseach reply to it?

Further arising from the Taoiseach's replies, what way does he visualise anything on a Sunningdale basis as a means to an end considering it turned out a complete fiasco? Would the Taoiseach not consider at this stage the withdrawal of all co-operation and collaboration between security forces on both sides of the border while Mrs. Thatcher and her Government proceed in the intransigent manner which is creating such havoc among our people, North and South, at present?

My reference to Sunningdale was simply to draw the attention of the House to the solemn declaration made then by the British Government with regard to its attitude of support for a united Ireland achieved by agreement, a statement which I would have thought all Members of this House would welcome. Questions of security do not really arise on this question, but in any event we have no intention of doing anything which is going to diminish security.