Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Chequers Talks.

Wednesday, 10 November 1971

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 256 No. 9

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3.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  asked the Taoiseach whether during the Chequers talks with Messrs. Heath and Faulkner any undertaking was sought or given as an earnest of good will to the religious minority in the Republic and in a projected united Ireland that constitutional [1658] and other legislative amendments already requested by responsible members of the religious minority in Ireland would be introduced concerning (a) divorce, (b) contraception, (c) the censorship laws in so far as they prohibit the advocacy of responsible family planning, and (d) Article 44 of the Constitution.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I reported to Dáil Éireann on the 20th October the main developments in relation to Northern Ireland, including my discussions at Chequers, during the previous three months. It would be inappropriate for me to discuss the Chequers talks in greater detail than I have done already.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  May I ask the Taoiseach if he has read the recent anti-democratic, anti-republican statements, Catholic, sectarian statements, by the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. McQuaid, that treatment in general hospitals under his control must be exclusively Catholic in nature, that treatment in maternity hospitals under his control must be exclusively Catholic in practice, that the training of Catholic doctors and medical students must be such as to ensure that they treat patients only in accordance with exclusively Catholic, ethical and moral training procedures, that community schools must be owned, operated and controlled by exclusively Catholic management, and his condemnation of the use or advocacy of contraceptive family planning in the Republic other than those acceptable to the most rigid and doctrinaire Catholic standards? Since all the institutions and hospitals which he controls are to varying degrees supported and paid for from public funds contributed by Irishmen of all religious denominations, these statements have caused very grave concern among the religious minority of the Republic and further they must prove to be destructive of the Taoiseach's and his Government's attempts to ease the fears of the Northern Unionists and bring about unity of our people, North and South, by peaceful means.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  This is a long speech.

[1659]Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  In these circumstances, would the Taoiseach make a statement on behalf of his Government's and his own intent in regard to all these contentious issues and so go some way towards meeting the legitimate criticisms and objections of Northern Unionists to unity and so ease the very delicate and difficult path to the ultimate creation of a peaceful and genuinely united Irish people?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  That is a very carefully prepared statement and it is very difficult to answer by way of supplementary reply.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  The Taoiseach must have read the statement.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I do not know to what extent the Archbishop controls hospitals. There are hospitals controlled by Catholic communities. I have indicated on many occasions that, as far as this Government are concerned, we are prepared to examine our existing institutions or laws to accommodate to the fullest possible extent all points of view in a united Ireland. We are still prepared to do that. That is still our policy.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Would the Taoiseach not agree, in the light of what he has just said about promoting goodwill in the North, that a little action on the subject would be worth a great deal of promises of examination and that, if it could be shown that we were putting our house here [1660] in order in this matter, there might be many more among the majority up there who would be willing to listen? They are not listening to us now.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  As I have said time and time again, these matters can be examined and action taken at the appropriate time.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  When will that be?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  That is a matter for the Government.


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