Tairgim: "Go léifear an Bille an Dara hUair anois."
I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
Is oth liom go bhfuil mé anseo arís ag impí ar Theachtaí Dála sa Teach seo tacú leis an mBille um an Ochtú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Neodracht) 2018. An fáth go bhfuil mé anseo ná gur theip orm sna hiarrachtaí eile agus theip ar an bpáirtí in ainneoin gur éirigh linn níos mó Baill a mhealladh i dtreo seasamh ceart a thógáil ar son neodrachas na tíre seo agus an deis a thabhairt do saoránaigh an Stáit an focal neodracht a chur sa Bhunreacht. Rinne mé féin agus mo chomhghleacaí, an Teachta Crowe, iarrachtaí é sin a dhéanamh roimhe seo i 2003 agus i 2016 ach theip orainn, ach an uair deireanach bhí níos lú vótaí caite i gcoinne an Bhille, agus bhí dream acu sin as Fianna Fáil agus rinne siadsan staonadh. Níor thacaigh leis an mBille ach beidh deis acu, b'fhéidir don chéad uair riamh, tacú leis an mBille seo agus seasamh le pobal na hÉireann atá go huile is go hiomlán tiomanta ar an gceist seo.
Tá tacaíocht ollmhór ag an aidhm chun neodrachas a bheith sa Bhunreacht. Bíodh cnámh droma ag Teachtaí Fhianna Fáil b'fhéidir don chéad uair riamh agus caith vóta. An cheist a táimid ag caitheamh vóta ar sa chás seo ná déanamh cinnte de nach bhfuil aon creimeadh eile ag tarlú maidir leis an neodrachas atá ag an Stát seo, rud atá á dhéanamh de shíor ag an Rialtas seo agus ag Rialtais roimhe seo, go dtí an stad anois go bhfuil airm na hEorpa le bunú faoi 2025 agus go bhfuil €13 billiún á atreorú ó chiste sóisialta agus caiteachas talmhaíochta ach go háirithe i dtreo caiteachais agus cothú armlóin nua go mbeadh á úsáid ar thíortha bochta timpeall na cruinne. Tá sé in am stad a chur leis sin.
Once again I appeal to the Tánaiste, the Government and the Government's partners in Fianna Fáil to show common sense and pull back from the headlong rush into an EU army. On this issue, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade does not need to be the best boy in the class. He can stand with the Irish people, show backbone and take a firm stance against the EU warmongers and those imperialist countries which are harking back to the past in order that they will have the support of the EU in their future resource wars outside the boundaries of Europe. The signing of permanent structured co-operation, PESCO, is another example of the major changes this Government has taken to undermine Irish neutrality. PESCO was described as the sleeping beauty of the Lisbon treaty by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and it lays the basis for a full security and defence union. It also lays the basis for an EU army, which the Minister has repeatedly denied is the intention of the EU.
One of the issues raised the last time this Bill was debated was that it would interfere with our ability to participate in peacekeeping missions. Nothing is further from the truth. This legislation will allow us to take part only in peacekeeping missions which have a United Nations mandate that allow a neutral country to participate, unlike what has happened of late, where this Government and its predecessor have tried to find ways to circumvent our neutrality, the Constitution and legislation. I need only refer to the EU training mission in Mali, which is circumventing the triple lock mechanism a previous Fianna Fáil-led Government persuaded the Irish people to support. It is undermining our neutrality. I recognise that we have a very longstanding and honourable reputation as peacekeepers around the world. Irish soldiers have been in areas where they have not only managed to gain the respect of the warring factions, but also of the communities around them. The Minister is now jeopardising that respect by engaging in a headlong rush into the EU military project.
I ask Members to consider if it is good enough for Ireland to agree with PESCO. Is it good enough for the Irish people to agree to the diversion of €13 billion of EU social funds to be spent on military research and the production of military equipment for use in foreign wars? A plethora of high profile EU leaders have blatantly called for the establishment of the EU army. They do not mince their words. There is no pretence or hiding behind greater security and defence co-operation. They have clearly set out their agenda. Any time I have raised this matter in the House, the answer I get is that the Government does not support an EU army. In fact, it does support and EU army because every single action Governments have taken on EU security and defence issues since 1997 have undermined our neutrality to the extent that neutrality does not seem to be an issue for some EU leaders who flout it and ignore even the meek protestations the Minister may make in back rooms.
They know Deputy Coveney will roll over and be a good boy, as he did in 2017 when he signed up to the PESCO project against all expectation. I hope the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade will for once listen to what is being said on this side of the House on this issue and that he will stand with the Irish people, who want to see neutrality enshrined in our Constitution. That is the effect of the Bill, nothing more, nothing less. Put it to the people; what has the Government got to be afraid of? This time, the Tánaiste should vote with us.