Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers. - Northern Ireland Situation Talks.

Thursday, 17 February 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 258 No. 14

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6.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  asked the Taoiseach if he has considered having talks with members of the Unionist Party or of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[2102]The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I have under continuing consideration all possible steps which might help in the situation. I have, however, no immediate plans for entering into talks of the kind referred to nor have I received any approach for such talks.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  In view of the fact that a solution to the Irish problem cannot take place until talks are held with the parties named in the question and in view of the fact that the longer a solution is delayed the more lives are going to be lost, would the Taoiseach not, as a gesture of reconciliation and as an act of initiative on the part of the Government here, take steps to initiate those talks?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I do not think those talks would be fruitful at this stage in advance of a political initiative on the part of the British Government. We are led to believe that something like that is about to come. If I felt generally that that could put forward the situation at this time I would be prepared to consider it, but I do not think it would.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Can the Taoiseach give any indication of what type of initiative he expects from the British Government which will obviate the need for these talks?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Whatever it is I hope it will come soon.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  How soon? People are dying every day.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  If these people were prepared to speak to the Taoiseach, would he receive them for talks?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I have seen different people from time to time and some of these may well represent the point of view referred to in Deputy Cooney's question. I have no objection to seeing them at any time.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Is the Taoiseach saying he met people——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  In other words, is it clear to the people from Northern Ireland that the Taoiseach would welcome talks with them?

[2103]The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I would, of course, with anybody.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Is the Taoiseach saying he met people from Northern Ireland and he is not sure whether they represent these parties?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I have met individuals. I do not ask them for their membership cards of any organisation as long as I feel they are genuine people seeking a solution to the problem. I do not know what organisations they might have been members of.

Mr. Conney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Would the Taoiseach not be curious to know?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I would have a good idea in most cases.


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