Northern Ireland Situation: Statement by the Taoiseach.

Tuesday, 28 May 1974

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 273 No. 1

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[99]The Taoiseach: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Dáil Éireann will have heard of the resignation of some Members of the power-sharing Executive in Belfast today.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  On a point of order, are statements such as these made with the unanimous approval of the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Unanimous agreement was given today. The Taoiseach indicated that he was going to make a statement at this time. There was concurrence by the Leader of the Opposition. Nobody dissented.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  What I am asking is whether the statements are made with the unanimous approval of the House in such special circumstances?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It was taken by the Chair as being so at that time, yes.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  At the time, a Cheann Comhairle——

Deputies:  Sit down.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This matter was decided earlier today.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  If it were not for the road blocks on the way up I would have been here on time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Dáil Éireann will have heard of the resignation——

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  On a further point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Please, Deputy, allow the statement to be made without further interruption. I have made the position clear to the Deputy.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  On a point of order, I wish to ask whether or not there will be any opportunity for Members of the House to comment, add to, condone, accept or criticise what the Taoiseach has yet to say?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Not now Deputy. Later.

[100]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I know not now but in due course?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Not on this statement.

The Taoiseach: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Dáil Éireann will have heard of the resignation of some Members of the power-sharing Executive in Belfast today. Members of the Dáil will join with me, I am sure, in expressing our deep regret at what has happened.

The establishment of this Executive on 1st January last was seen by all of us as an historic attempt to bridge the deep differences between sections of the community in Northern Ireland.

Those in the North who joined in this attempt deserve the respect of all of us for their courage and dedication in the face of great pressures from the more extreme elements in both sections of the Northern Ireland community. Few democratic politicians anywhere have ever faced such odds, so bravely, and with so little regard for their own personal position and, indeed, personal safety.

In the Dáil on 22nd November, 1973, I said that the formation of this power-sharing Executive was “an important and necessary first step in the working out of political institutions providing the basis for a settlement that can bring co-operation and peace in this island”. For the first time in the history of Northern Ireland representatives of the communities there agreed, notwithstanding the fundamental difference in their basic aspirations, to work together for the common good. The Executive represented an attempt to provide a form of Government widely accepted throughout the community in Northern Ireland. This great experiment in co-operation has been wrecked by deliberate misrepresentation of its purpose on the one hand and by the continuance of violence on the other.

As we warned it would, the campaign of the IRA has provoked a massive sectarian backlash. This has undermined the only kind of solution that can bring peace to Northern [101] Ireland and security to the minority in that area.

In present circumstances it is vitally important that all should remain calm. There just is no point at this stage in our entering into recriminations as to what might have happened if events had been handled differently. We must go forward from here. The principles of partnership and co-operation with democratically elected representatives in this island — upon which we have worked for so long — remain as true and genuine a basis for progress as they have ever been.

We have in the past worked towards this goal. We shall continue to do so, recognising that our most pressing concern must be — as it has been for all of us throughout these tragic years — the safeguarding of lives in Northern Ireland and, indeed, in the whole of Ireland.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I regret that the power-sharing Executive in the North has fallen in the face of Loyalist intimidation. I, too, wish to pay tribute to those who participated in and supported the Executive during the past five months. I fully realise the sacrifices, both personal and political, that they had to make and have made. I especially commend the Members of the SDLP and of the Alliance Party who still hold out to the last in order to sustain the power-sharing Executive, to sustain the concept of power-sharing, a concept which we believe would have ultimately established peace with justice in the North. Unless the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland can re-establish the Executive on the basis of continued power-sharing, through contact with all the elected Members of the Assembly, then there seems to be no alternative, no immediate alternative to direct rule. As of now we have no information what decision was made but when in Government we in Fianna Fáil proposed and advocated power-sharing; in Opposition we have supported it and, therefore, will continue to do so as long as there is any prospect of its being restored.

Whatever decision will be made there remains the responsibility of the [102] British Government to safeguard the basic rights of all the people in the North and to face up fully to this campaign of intimidation and violence and to see that it will not succeed. We of Fianna Fáil, because of our concern for the welfare of all the people of Ireland, will, of course, hold ourselves available to help in finding any just solution to this crisis. That is all I have to say at this stage in the absence of any decision being conveyed to this House. I know the Taoiseach has not had conveyed to him what actually the decision is in relation to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  In regard to what has been said, might I just say this——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy will have to find another opportunity to speak on this matter. He may not do so now. He knows the procedure. It has been outlined to him.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  This is the opportunity——

Deputies:  Chair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We cannot have a debate at this juncture.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The point is that those Leaders, neither of them, have——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill. Fifth Stage, resumed.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Will there be a declaration of intent on the part of the British to get out?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The Chair knows that better than I do. If he was down here on the floor as he used to be——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy must resume his seat. He is not in order.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I will resume my seat when I have said what I want to say and not before.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  No, Deputy. The Deputy will not abuse the privileges of this House.

[103]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am entitled to put forward the view of the people I represent in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Not at this stage. The Deputy may do so at another time but not now. The Deputy is being disorderly.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Everybody in this House knew at the time, and we now see the result of it, that the Assembly was a sham.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is showing defiance for the ruling of the Chair.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The Assembly——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Blaney. If the Deputy persists he will leave me no option but to adjourn the proceedings of this House.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am entitled to express the views of the people I represent.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I regret I have to adjourn the House for 15 minutes.

Business suspended at 7.10 p.m. and resumed at 7.25 p.m.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  A Cheann Comhairle, on a point of explanation I want to assure the Chair that what I said before he adjourned the House was not said with any disrespect for the Chair, but I want to emphasise that I hope that what I said has been recorded because it was something that should have been said by both sides of this House and not just left to me to say it.


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