Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Trade Groups in Europe.

Tuesday, 21 June 1960

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 183 No. 1

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4.

Sir Anthony Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  asked the Taoiseach if it is his intention to seek membership of either of the trade groups in Europe; and, if so, if he will give prior notice of such intention to the Dáil.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Government have not, so far, taken any decision on the subject of the relationship between this country and the European Economic Community or the European Free Trade Association.

I shall naturally ensure that the Dáil will be kept informed, as heretofore, of all major developments in the field of trade.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  If the Government come to any decision to seek membership of either of the trade groups while the Dáil is in recess, I take it the Dáil will be convened to give Deputies an opportunity of discussing the matter.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  No agreement of that kind could be made without the concurrence of the Dáil. I doubt if this is a matter which it is possible to deal with adequately by way of reply to Supplementary Questions here. The Rome Treaty and Stockholm Convention both provided for association as well as for full membership of other countries and if any question of participating in either of these agreements should arise at any time I should think association rather than membership would be of interest to us. As Deputies are no doubt aware, discussions are proceeding now as to the possibility of some arrangement between these two groups of nations and it would be a matter for us to [7] consider the extent to which we would want to participate in or be associated with any such arrangement if it was in fact agreed. That is the aspect of this question which is receiving attention at the present time and in connection with which a meeting was held in Paris within the last ten days.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  May I take it from what the Taoiseach has said now and from what he said previously that before any irrevocable decision is taken by the Government, either in relation to membership or association, he will provide an opportunity for a discussion in this House as to the best course for the country as a whole to take? Everybody wants to be helpful and the Government would be well advised to get the benefit of the views of the House so that the subsequent decision will not be regarded as a Party decision but as a national decision.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I have been at pains since this matter started to keep the House and the public informed of developments and I think it true to say that, by and large, Irish public opinion is better informed in these affairs than is the case in many West European countries. No agreement could be made without the concurrence of the House and, in any event, it is extremely improbable that any situation requiring early decision by the Government will arise during the recess or perhaps even this year.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I take it then the Taoiseach will take the House into his confidence?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Would the Taoiseach agree it might be more appropriate if he would consider making statements on Government policy in relation to this matter in Dáil Éireann rather than at Shannon Airport, as when authoritative statements on Government policy are made outside the House it sometimes creates the impression that possibly the Taoiseach wishes to bypass the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Deputy Dillon is [8] not unaware, I am sure, that I made a full statement on this matter only a short while ago and apart from referring to recent events I said nothing as regards Government policy at Shannon Airport I have not already said here.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The impression might be created.


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