Thursday, 25 March 1982
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to make a statement on my recent visit to the United States of America. I wish to say that I do so solely pursuant to the offer I made yesterday to consider such a step favourably, in order to resolve a situation which should never have arisen and, as Deputy Cluskey aptly put it, to restore some sanity to our proceedings.
I wish to say that I do so solely pursuant to the offer I made yesterday favourably  to consider such a step, in order to resolve a situation which should never have arisen and, as Deputy Cluskey aptly put it, to restore some sanity to our proceedings.
Accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I visited the United States from 15-17 March, in response to the kind invitation of President Reagan to meet and to join him for luncheon in the White House on St. Patrick's Day.
I was glad to avail of the opportunity while in the United States to pay a visit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Senor Perez de Cuellar, address the Economic Club of New York, hold separate discussions with Governor Carey, Senator Kennedy and other political leaders, and meet a representative group of the Friends of Ireland organisation in the United States Congress, headed by Speaker O'Neill and Congressman Foley.
Accompanying the President at our meeting in the White House, were Vice-President Bush, Secretary of State Haig, the National Security Adviser, Judge Clark, and the newly designated Ambassador of the United States to Ireland, Mr. Peter Dailey. During our discussions we had a useful exchange of views on a range of subjects, including the links between Ireland and the United States, the situation in Northern Ireland, United States investment in Ireland and aspects of international affairs. I invited the President to pay a visit to Ireland and he indicated a keen desire to do so at a mutually convenient time.
I saw my visit in the context of the intention, to which I referred here on 9 March, of seeking international backing for the Government's efforts to bring together all the parties involved in the tragedy of Northern Ireland, in an endeavour to bring about a durable settlement in a spirit of peace, reconciliation and accommodation for all the traditions in this country. I wished to dispel any doubt or confusion that might exist on Irish Government policy and to set out clearly what that policy is.
I indicated my belief that Britain should be encouraged to seek more positively and persuade more actively a  change in attitudes and outlooks which would pave the way for the unity so ardently desired by the vast majority of the Irish people. I said that we had pledged ourselves to overcoming the obstacles to the further reconcilement of the two great traditions of our island and that, for our part, we would give, to that end, any pledge that may be sought, any guarantee that may be thought necessary and make unassailable constitutional arrangements for those in the northern part of Ireland who may feel a special need for such provisions. I expressed the hope that the great fund of goodwill for Ireland that exists in America would enable the objectives I have mentioned to be reflected in American policy.
The extent to which that ideal is already widely shared in the Congress of the United States may be seen from the St. Patrick's Day statement of the Friends of Ireland group. I welcome the renewal of their commitment to the goal of Irish unity, through reconciliation and on the basis of consent. Let me here welcome the declaration of support for the Friends of Ireland in America, included in the statement issued by President Reagan on the occasion of our meeting.
The President's statement also contained a number of other elements that will be a source of encouragement. I refer in particular to his words of support for the widening of Anglo-Irish co-operation instituted by my meeting with the British Prime Minister in December 1980. The President viewed this as contributing to a process of reconciliation between the two traditions and between the two countries which he saw as the only basis for a lasting solution. The President indicated the readiness of the United States Government to contribute in any way they can to such a solution. He also reiterated his appeal to all Americans with Ireland's interest at heart to refrain from assisting those who perpetuate violence. Finally, I welcome his strong and unequivocal support for American investment in Ireland — to the benefit of all our people.
I know that this latter statement will be of great assistance to the Industrial Development Authority in the stepped-up campaign they are mounting to attract  industrial and services investment. I was glad to have the opportunity, through my address to the Economic Club of New York, to inaugurate this fresh effort. I am satisfied, and am happy to assure the House, that my speech on that occasion helped to correct the damage done by some unfortunate impressions conveyed on previous occasions and re-established Ireland as a country which offers a stable, welcoming and profitable environment for investment.
My discussions with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in addition to touching on Northern Ireland, ranged over a wide range of current topics in international affairs, including the role of the United Nations generally and in peace-keeping, the Middle East, Namibia, Afghanistan, Cyprus, the hostilities between Iran and Iraq, the problems of South-East Asia, especially Kampuchea, the problems in Central America, with particular reference to El Salvador, and the Law of the Sea Conference. In the course of what was a valuable exchange, I reiterated Ireland's total commitment to the role of the United Nations in the resolution of international conflict and in the advancement of human welfare throughout the world and informed him of the Government's positive response to the request for additional Irish troops for the UNIFIL force in Lebanon. The Secretary-General, for his part, paid tribute to the Irish commitment to the United Nations and its peace-keeping operations and to the work of Major General Callaghan, as Commander of UNIFIL.
I should like to express to President Reagan and to all those I met in the United States, my deep and sincere gratitude for the warmth of the welcome, and the generosity of the hospitality extended to us in the United States. I know that these are a token of the bonds of kinship that exist between Ireland and that great democracy.
I have had copies of my speech to the Economic Club of New York, my address in the White House, the statement made by President Reagan on St. Patrick's Day and the Joint St. Patrick's Day Statement  of the Friends of Ireland laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
In conclusion, since I may be unable, because of the position in which I have been placed, to reply later, I will deal now with Deputy FitzGerald's comment on Tuesday last: that I did not during my visit to the United States call, in the particular manner he would have wished, on people there to refrain from support for violence or people involved in or associated with violence. This attack is not alone without substance but was also unwise.
Successive Governments here have upheld the attitude of the vast majority of our people in their opposition to violence as a means of solving the Northern or any other problem. I made my position on the American dimension of this subject perfectly clear in a lengthy speech I made in Cork on 27 July 1980. Each Government have enforced the necessary policies in their own way over a lengthy period. No one can be in any doubt about our attitude and our policy. Joint communiques issued following meetings between the Irish and British Heads of Government have almost invariably acknowledged satisfaction with the extent and effectiveness of security measures, including both occasions when I met the present Prime Minister during my previous period of office.
It is a matter of judgment how often one should repeat a principle of this kind. Constant repetition may turn it into a sort of ritual cliche. On the occasion of my visit to the United States, this time, such repetition would have been redundant, since both President Reagan and the Friends of Ireland group, on their side and as an integral part of my visit made appeals along the lines in question, in their statements: and I believe that law-abiding Americans would respond more favourably to their President and Congressional leaders than to anything I might say.
Rather than repeat unprofitably something which has been clearly established already — what is purely defensive in our policy — my purpose was rather to offer a clear line of action as a positive alternative  to support for violence. I believe that this approach will yield significant results. Can we now get away from sterile point-scoring on this issue which may in fact do harm to the policy we all espouse by creating doubts about it in the minds of some who may not be all that familiar with our party political system?
Dr. FitzGerald: I feel I must start by referring to the Taoiseach's statement that his speech to the Economics Club helped to correct the damage done by some unfortunate impressions conveyed on previous occasions — a smear by innuendo which adds nothing to his stature — and that he “re-established Ireland as a country which offers a stable, welcoming and profitable environment for investment.” The suggestion that the efforts made by our Government to bring the public finances under control in some way damaged this country's reputation in the United States has been most effectively answered by an authoritative nonpolitical comment by the chairman of Allied Irish Banks reported in today's papers. Mr. Niall Crowley said yesterday in reference to opinion in the United States, from which he returned on Tuesday, about our economy, that:
Unless we can be seen to be tackling these problems, and winning, the confusion I have referred to will turn to an amazed certainty that this country is really determined to throw away all the progress we have made in the last quarter century, rather than accept the disciplines needed to conserve those gains and hold on to them when economic conditions improve.
No one can be in any doubt as to what these words mean. The confusion that is disturbing confidence in our economy derives from the doubts raised by the present Taoiseach during and since the election campaign as to whether he now has the will, which he conspicuously lacked in 1980, to accept the disciplines needed to conserve the gains of the last 25 years — the disciplines which our Government were imposing, and which had already yielded concrete results in our improved standing in the eyes of financiers  and industrialists outside Ireland — until all this was cast in doubt by the Taoiseach within hours of the defeat of our January budget.
I turn now to the Taoiseach's visit to Washington. I want to say at the outset how delighted I am that President Reagan in his statement, and the Friends of Ireland in theirs, condemned violence in the North and specifically asked Americans not to support violence, echoing the message brought to the United States from Ireland by elected politicians from both parts of this island throughout the past ten years. I was very pleased also to see the emphasis given in both statements to the concept of reconciliation between the two communities in Ireland, which we, in opposition and in Government, have promoted.
That is why we seek to contribute in any way we can to a lasting, peaceful solution that will bring to an end years of conflict and violence. We will continue to stand by our policy — to urge the parties in Northern Ireland to come together for a just solution and to condemn all acts of terrorism and violence. We believe a lasting solution can be found only through a process of reconciliation between the two traditions in Northern Ireland, and between Britain and Ireland.
We stand unalterably opposed to the forces of violence and discord in Northern Ireland, which obstruct the process of reconciliation so necessary to peace. Those who advocate violence or engage in terrorism will have no welcome in the United States.
Our special goal has been to work together in the Congress for an end to the violence in Northern Ireland and  for peace and reconciliation between the two parts of the community that has suffered so much from a decade of killing and destruction.
As Friends of Ireland, we are also united in our condemnation of the violence on both sides in Northern Ireland. More than 2,100 men and women and children have died since the conflict began, and more than 23,000 have been injured. We therefore renew our earnest appeal to our fellow Americans to support positive policies for peace, to reject the path of violence, and to refuse to participate by word or deed or dollar in any effort that supports or condones the violence. No action in the daily life of any American should contribute in any way to the daily toll of death in Northern Ireland.
Finally, as Friends of Ireland, we renew our commitment to the goal of Irish unity as the most effective means to achieve a lasting peace. The unity we favour is an Ireland united on the basis of reconciliation between the Irish Protestant tradition and the Irish Catholic tradition. It is a unity to be achieved not by the bomb or by the bullet, nor by the official coercion of any section of the community, but by the consent, freely given, of a majority of all the people of Northern Ireland.
I have to say on behalf of my party that we are less happy about the Taoiseach's contributions in Washington. I recognise that the speech made by the Taoiseach at the luncheon given by President Reagan was, by common agreement, delivered effectively. But I have some reservations about the content of this and other statements by the Taoiseach in Washington, some of them to the press, and also about the impact these statements have had there, and about which I have had information since.
There are two aspects to my concern. The first relates to what was said. The message of these statements appears from the reports published here, and from what I have heard from Washington, to have differed in tone from that which has been delivered in the United  States by successive Irish Taoiseachs and Ministers throughout the past decade, and from that which has been repeated on our behalf of those who have represented us at diplomatic level with such distinction and success in that country. In particular I note the reintroduction of that ambiguous phrase about “securing self-determination for all the people of Ireland”— a phrase used in the past to exclude the concept of reunion by consent, to which we had thought all parties were firmly committed.
May I interpolate here that the extraordinary remark by the Taoiseach to the American press that he was not aware of any emphasis having been given by our diplomats in the United States to Irish unity was baseless and unworthy. Seeking to promote Irish unity by consent, that is the policy of all Irish Governments since 1970, has been the unremitting task of the distinguished Irish diplomats who over the past decade have made such a tremendous impact in the United States — far beyond that of the much larger missions of many powerful countries.
Their success is visible indeed in the considered and sophisticated approach of American political leaders today to the Northern Ireland problem, which a decade ago was simply not understood in Washington, then divided into a traditional anglophile camp — taking the Foreign Office line, whatever it might be at the time — and, as the sole alternative, straight IRA propaganda.
What our diplomats have done, reinforcing the message of every Irish Government during this period, has been to displace these two propaganda forces from the Washington stage, and to replace them by a powerful body of opinion, reflected in what President Reagan and the Friends of Ireland have been saying, sympathetic to the aspiration of most Irish people to a peaceful resolution of our problem in this island by consent. This remarkable achievement, bringing to bear on Capitol Hill, on the State Department and on the White House itself, a kind of influence that this country has never previously had in those quarters, will be recorded in the history of our  diplomacy as one of its major achievements. The Taoiseach's public denigration of the work of these servants of our State in remarks addressed to the Press of that country, will be read as a petty footnote to this great achievement.
The fact is that for ten years successive Irish Governments, starting with the Fianna Fáil Government in office earlier in the seventies continuing through the lifetime of the National Coalition Government, and on into the period of further Fianna Fáil Government after 1977, have consistently sought to disabuse both American political and public opinion of the illusion that the Northern Ireland problem is a simple residue of colonialism whose solution is impeded only by a determination by Britain to retain its hold on the area. It has not been easy to tackle this simplistic sterotype of the Northern Ireland problem which at the outset of the period was deeply embedded in the American consciousness, and which accounted for the heavy flow of funds, and of arms, from that country to the IRA, as a result of which many hundreds have lost their lives in Northern Ireland, the vast majority of them fellow Irishmen, women and children, as we saw recently.
Our task was not rendered easy during much of the period by recurrent bouts of propaganda fervour on the part of British Governments seeking to justify or to play down wrong acts by the security forces in Northern Ireland, or to pin blame on this State for failures of security within the territory under their jurisdiction. For many years we fought a war of words in the United States on two fronts, and it is not too much to say that we won it.
Informed American opinion, including opinion within the Irish American community, has, as we have seen from the statements I quoted earlier, swung away from the simplistic interpretation that ignored the reality of one million Protestants in Northern Ireland. At the same time the reality of our efforts to tackle terrorism on our side of the border, to which all Governments have contributed, including as the Taoiseach said earlier, his previous Government, has come to be recognised, even by the most anglophile  of American opinion-makers, and policy-makers.
Having participated in, and having for a period been involved in the direction of, our efforts to communicate a balanced picture of the Northern Ireland problem to American opinion, I am very conscious of the success this country achieved. I should say that the honour of starting this process goes to Fianna Fáil, in the person of Deputy O'Malley, who was, if I recall correctly, the first to take up the issue head-on, and of the former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, who was physically assaulted by IRA supporters for what they saw as his challenge to their hitherto undisputed monopoly of influence with American opinion. My own direct involvement dates back to 1973, and on every visit since then in Government, and later at least once a year in opposition on my own initiative, I have continued the work begun by Deputy O'Malley and Mr. Lynch.
Looking back I believe the turning point came in 1976, with the remarkable bicentennial official visit to the United States by the then Taoiseach, Mr. Liam Cosgrave, and his seminal address to the joint Houses of Congress. For the first time since violence had begun, the whole American political establishment gathered to hear an Irish Taoiseach expound to them the realities of the problem.
Thereafter our work, closely paralleled by that of the SDLP and notably by John Hume, became easier. There followed first the remarkable statement by the `Four Horsemen', Speaker Tip O'Neill, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator Pat Moynihan and Governor Carey on St. Patrick's Day 1977. Next there was the visit to Britain, Northern Ireland and here, by Speaker Tip O'Neill, around the time of the last British general election, a visit from which I draw two abiding memories — first, the fatuity and uninformed character of some British media and political comment on this great man and on his constructive role in relation to Northern Ireland, and second his most moving speech in St. Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle, in which he embraced the Protestants of the North with the rest of the people of this island as equal partners  in the task of reconciliation. Finally, there was the establishment of the Friends of Ireland on an occasion marked by a visit by a special delegation of this Dáil, comprising the present Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Deputy Michael Woods, Deputy Frank Cluskey, then leader of the Labour Party, and myself as leader of Fine Gael.
Throughout all this period the consistent message of every Irish Government and of every Irish Minister in the United States has been to preach reconciliation — to expound the belief, first, that our task is to bring together by agreement the people of this island on a basis of common interests and ideals, with no ambiguous phraseology about “self-determination for all the Irish people”, and, second, that Britain has a duty to play a leading role in this process — which, since last November's Anglo-Irish Summit, the British Government are now explicitly committed to undertaking.
This message of reconciliation, of unity being achieved by consent, of the duty of both the British and Irish Governments to create the conditions necessary for the achievement of peace and political progress within Northern Ireland, had been received and accepted by public opinion in the United States. We had effectively won the battle against prejudice, whether pro-IRA or anglophile prejudice, in the corridors of power in the media and amongst that broad section of public opinion that is concerned about this issue. It is against this background that the Taoiseach's recent visit to Washington must be seen, and his words seeming to hark back to the old propaganda line of the sixties must be heard.
There is however another and more disturbing aspect of the Taoiseach's speeches and statements in the United States which he attempted to defend here this morning. As reproduced here, they do not contain any call on the people of the United States not to contribute financially or otherwise to support those who provide guns and ammunition to the IRA to murder at will in both parts of this island. The fact is that his, no doubt, carefully chosen words — and it is clear from what he said this morning that they  were carefully chosen — to Congress fell short of such a call. On this he merely said “a small number of people in this country”— the United States —“have subscribed to activities which can only delay the achievement of that community”. Has any Taoiseach or Minister ever referred to the campaign of murder in Northern Ireland in such anodyne terms, “activities which can only delay the achievement of that unity”?
Are those words sufficient to deal with the murder of hundreds of Irish people and members of the security forces in Northern Ireland? Can the Taoiseach stand over that description of the IRA campaign? Certainly no previous Taoiseach or Minister ever downgraded a campaign of murder with phraseology of that kind. He went on to say that many people in the United States who subscribed to these activities were simply misguided. He continued: “I therefore commend your stated intention of helping to inform the American people of the real causes of the conflict in Northern Ireland”, a campaign of information from which he, however, conspicuously absented himself for reasons given here which carry no conviction. It has been the consistent view of every Irish Government, and their advisers, at home and abroad, that it is vital that this campaign be continued and that the authoritative voice of every Irish Government be raised in continuous refrain on this point, so that there will be no chink in our armour, so that no suspicion may arise that there is at any level, in any party in this country, at any time, any tolerance for the provision of aid or assistance to the IRA.
Finally, I want to say to the Taoiseach that there are two clearly defined paths that can be followed in relation to Northern Ireland. One is the beat-the-drum, rally-to the flag, blame-everything-on-the-Brits, atavistic nationalism that has created the present cycle of violence and which if revived or given any aura of respectability by people in the seats of power here can maintain that cycle indefinitely.
As John Hume said on 2nd and 3rd of  this month, speaking first in St. Ann's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Belfast and secondly in the Servite Priory in Benburb, this older approach “failed to grasp the fundamental dimensions of our problems. We failed to define our concept of unity in terms which would be meaningful and truly unthreatening to the other Irish tradition. Because of this fatal omission — the original sin of the Nationalist tradition — our aspiration came by default to mean, and to be understood to mean, conquest. But, he added, “unity and unity by agreement should be, if these are to have any meaning synonymous.... Our failure in this matter — the result of misconceptions, weakness and delusion — has itself encouraged an extremism which perverts all the high principles of our tradition”. These are noble and courageous words, spoken nobly and courageously. Would that the Leader of this State would speak in that type of language on our behalf as John Hume has spoken within this very month on behalf of the Nationalist community in Northern Ireland. The second path which he describes is the getting away from that older tradition which came by default to be understood to mean conquest and which has worsened the division between the North and the South that we have such difficulty in bridging.
The second path, the path of unity and unity by agreement being synonymous, involves seeking out that which is common ground between the two traditions in Ireland, an aim to which the British Government pledged themselves last November as an important development of the discussions which the Taoiseach had himself inaugurated 18 months earlier. This is the path to which all of us on this side of the House are pledged. I hope that, whatever the pressure from Deputy Blaney — who, in this House, when it met a couple of weeks ago was quite open in claiming to have succeeded in influencing the Taoiseach back towards the former sterile path of verbal republicanism — the Taoiseach will think twice about turning away from all that was achieved by our predecessors in office,  Mr. Jack Lynch and Mr. Liam Cosgrave and by the members of successive Governments, and our American friends, in the past ten years.
Mr. M. O'Leary: The Taoiseach's visit to the US had both an economic and political aspect. It was a very important visit in terms of both these aspects in the national interest. I congratulate the Taoiseach on making this visit to the US at this time when he had many other pressing problems to deal with but it was his duty in the national interest to make the visit and to make a strong case for additional US investment in the Irish economy.
On the political side one could sum up the purpose of his visit as the continuation of the authoritative exposition of Irish Government policies on Northern Ireland. On the economic side there is this need that is recognised on all sides of the House to maintain the level of US investment in our industrial development. We know that about 34,000 jobs here depend on US investment while 42 per cent of all overseas manufacturing jobs are provided from that source and that when planned development by US firms is completed in the next two or three years, something like 64,000 Irish jobs will depend on US investment here.
The importance of the Taoiseach's visit is highlighted when we realise that factors like continued recession in the US, increasing costs at home and higher inflation by comparison with other EEC states, are leading in combination to a difficult situation, a situation in which in this year and next year it will be difficult to maintain a satisfactory volume of US investment.
Therefore, the Taoiseach's address to the Economic Club in New York was of great importance as were his further contacts with US business elements. A continued sustained effort must be made in the lifetime of this Government and of future Governments to attract available US investment here. Once this State selected the road of free trade, US investment and mobile capital investment from abroad became a vital part of our industrial development. It is forgotten often in  this House and elsewhere in the country that this State is in competition with other EEC states. It is often thought that our competition for US capital investment comes from outside the Community but that is not the case. Stiff competition for that investment comes from regions within the EEC, from Scotland for example. While the range of grants available to the IDA are comparable the fact is that the development authority in Scotland are offering very stiff resistance to our efforts in the US.
I note that the Taoiseach at one of his press meetings referred to the need for additional IDA personnel in the US. Undoubtedly the market in the US requires continued attention from our IDA personnel all over the US. While that may be helpful the most important and attractive point in the context of potential US investment here must be US business estimation of the genuineness of our efforts at home to tackle budgetary and financial problems. All of the additional IDA personnel that we could put to work in the field would make no change if the US investment and business community generally were not convinced of the seriousness of the Irish Government about this matter at home. A two-pronged effort is required. There must be vigorous promotion of the available market in the US allied to a strong brief of being able to say that here are the objective efforts of the Irish Government at home.
I am sure the Taoiseach will agree on reflection that trying to insinuate that perhaps by Ministers of the previous Government explaining honestly some of the problems before us they were in some way downgrading or making less effective our appeal for US business was unnecessary and unworthy. We can be sure that US business has very good intelligence in regard to the state of the Irish economy and that they will know what the facts are. I think that the Taoiseach's visit was a success so far as the economic side is concerned.
Earlier this week we were admonished about bringing in unnecessary differences between us. I subscribe to that but I thought it unfortunate that during his  visit to the US the Taoiseach omitted to condemn those in the US who have been financing men of violence. He explained that he did not consider repetition of such condemnation to be necessary. I will leave it at that except to say that in the context of his own standing within Northern Ireland it is unfortunate that he did not make a statement condemning those who support the men of violence on what was his first visit to the US as Taoiseach. In his account of his visit this morning he tells us that in answer to a question from President Reagan he said that we had pledged ourselves to overcoming the obstacles to further reconcilement of the two great traditions of our island and that for our part we would give to that end any pledge that might be sought or any guarantee that might be thought necessary and that we would make unassailable constitutional arrangements for those in the northern part of our country who may feel a special need for such provisions. I would have thought that any effort to gain greater support in the US in relation to the settlement of our political position would have been immensely strengthened if instead of having this kind of weak reaction to a question from the President the Taoiseach was able to say that his Government had on the table constitutional changes for implementation here and now. How much stronger his case would have been in such circumstances and how much more convincing would have been his willingness to open up discussions with people of the other tradition in Northern Ireland.
On many occasions the Taoiseach has indicated that he regards as a priority efforts to try to advance significantly towards settlement of the Northern Ireland problem but it was unfortunate that he was not able to say to the President and on TV channels that his Government have proposals for constitutional change, that while there may be marginal benefits to be extracted from these offers on constitutional change in relation to attitudes in Northern Ireland, the main reason we are pushing for constitutional changes is that they are necessary for social reasons in this State  because ours is a modern state requiring such changes. It would be more impressive if on future visits by the Taoiseach to the US he was able to say that we are ready to go ahead with the changes that are necessary in our modern state.
Mr. Sherlock: On behalf of my party I wish to say that we are considerably perturbed at the tone of the various statements made on Northern Ireland by the Taoiseach since his election. His most recent statement in Washington has heightened our fears because there was no indication that he recognised the great difficulties inherent in the current attempt towards a new political initiative in the North to end direct rule.
We understood from our discussions with the Taoiseach some weeks ago that he would welcome and encourage any attempts to get agreement on a form of devolved government. If this were so, we would expect him to show some sensitivity to the wide gulf between the aspirations of the two communities there. It is definitely not helpful at this time to exclude the one-and-a-half million people of Northern Ireland from any say in their future by stating that the solution is a matter for the London and Dublin Governments. To try to enlist the support of Washington to force a solution is particularly dangerous, not only for the people of the North but for the people here in the South as well. America would be only too glad to get involved in working out a solution which would be to her own advantage. Such a solution would entail bartering our neutrality, which would not be acceptable to the majority of the Irish people. I urge the Taoiseach to be more temporate and restrained in his statements on Northern Ireland, and to state publicly now what he stated to us privately, that he would welcome and encourage new political initiatives leading to devolved government.
My party welcome the Taoiseach's efforts to encourage American investment in industry to create new jobs but suggest that the recent closures of some of the brightest stars of the IDA-assisted industries give little hope of much success in that area. Our industrial and job creation  programme must now be based on our own natural resources: processing our meat, fish and other foods; using our now mature forests for the creation of thousands of jobs in all forms of timber processing; using our lead, zinc and other metals for industrial production by establishing a smelter plant. While doing that, we should continue to encourage other foreign industries to come here but they should be peripheral to our industrial economy, not dominating it as at present.
We hope the Taoiseach also took the opportunity, while he was in Washington, to clarify for President Reagan what our foreign policy is. Again from our discussions with the Taoiseach and five members of his front bench, it was made clear that Fianna Fáil in Government would pursue a policy of positive neutrality. The Taoiseach confirmed this further by saying he would pursue the policy initiated by Frank Aiken in the fifties. We reminded him that this entailed political initiatives on disarmament and on the spread of nuclear weapons, and he agreed that this was what he had in mind. This is precisely the type of neutrality and non-aligned policy the Irish people would like to see our Government pursuing at this time. I hope the Taoiseach at his briefing session with our UN staff spelled this out quite clearly.
One final matter which I must mention is the question of El Salvador. Irish people are very concerned about the numerous well-documented reports on mass murder and torture by the Duarte Government of the people of El Salvador. They are horrified that an American President should be aiding and abetting this murder and torture. I hope this feeling was conveyed to President Reagan or, if St. Patrick's Day was not the appropriate time to do so, that the first available opportunity will be taken to let him know where we stand on this most important issue.
Mr. G. Mitchell: On a point of order, when the Minister's speech is being circulated this afternoon, could it be circulated to all Deputies in the House? I raised this matter when the July budget was introduced, and Deputy Sherlock  raised it when the February budget was introduced. We should do something about this.
Mr. Blaney: During the course of these statements my name was used, and not for the first time, by the Leader of the Opposition. As a result I want to intervene when otherwise I would not have intervened. I want to make it quite clear to the House that I represent people who believe as I do about the unity and the reunification of this country. I am also a member of the European Parliament where I am well-known for my views in this regard. I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition that I did not use pressures, undue or otherwise, on him or his predecessors in Government. What I have to say and what I represent are openly known and without question.
If we had a little more clarity and less gobbledy-gook, such as we have had for the past ten years from successive Governments, particularly when talking to our friends in America, there would have been a much better understanding before the present Taoiseach went there and cleared the air to some degree on what our views are and should be on this very vexed question of which I, as a Northerner, am more aware than most.
Agreement by consent is not a policy. Agreement or unity by consent is not a policy. We have been listening to that until I have become bloody well sick of it. Unity by consent of the majority, a contrived majority in the Six Counties, is not a policy. Agreement by the majority of the people of Ireland is, has been and should continue to be the policy of the Irish people and should be expressed by our leaders wherever they go.
I congratulate the Taoiseach on what he made clear in the United States: that that is what we are looking for, and that  we will not continue to be coerced by an occupational force of a foreign Government who created Partition and who wish to maintain Partition and want us to agree that, while there is a contrived majority who do not want reunification, parrot like, we will continue to proclaim to the world that that is our policy. Reunification by the majority of the people of all of this island has always been our aspiration and will continue to be so.
Dr. FitzGerald: It is useful to have decoded for us by Deputy Blaney the words “securing self-determination for all the people”. Two Deputies asked the Taoiseach a question before Deputy Blaney spoke in relation to the circulation of the speech. I wonder if the Taoiseach would respond to that.
The Taoiseach: Certainly there have been occasions in my memory when a speech was secreted or expedited out of this House and appeared in the evening papers before the Minister for Finance had concluded. I am speaking only from my own personal experience in the House. For that reason I understand that there is a tradition here that the speech, in the early stages, is circulated only to former Ministers on every side of the House. If there is some wish to depart from that I have no objection but it is a  long-established rule and there is a very good reason for it.
Mr. P. Barry: We know that. I think there are probably about 60 former Ministers and Ministers of State in the House now; I am not sure. Surely if those 60 get the speech everybody should get it. It is a bit of a farce, especially as——
Mr. P. Barry: If the Deputy has something to say he can do so after I have finished. He should let me make my point without interruption. Confidentiality does not arise today because of the fact that the excise duties were imposed a week or ten days ago, so that——
Mr. Higgins: A Cheann Comhairle, I should like to support Deputies who are in favour of circulation of the document to every Member. As you correctly point out yourself, Sir, it was indeed raised during the term of the previous Dáil. At that time there was, I thought, general assent that the practice was a rather archaic one that placed Deputies at a disability. It is really not a matter for scoring points. If it is an archaic practice that draws a distinction between the potential ability of Members who are ordinary Members and people who are former Cabinet Ministers to honour confidentiality, now is the time to change it. I should like to support the Deputies who are asking for this speech to be distributed. I see no real meaningful, contemporary reason for drawing a distinction between former Members of the Cabinet and ordinary elected Members of this  House who enjoy the confidence of the public.
Mr. Kemmy: ——I do not know who — leaked the contents to the Press. But I must say, as a relative newcomer to the House, I find this practice very offensive. I put my hand out the first day I came here to get a copy of a document and the usher told me I could not get it. The implication was that while we were all equal some were more equal than others, already a concept to which I object. The implication also was that Ministers and former Ministers were men of more integrity than people like myself, a concept to which I also object. Certainly I know people who shall be nameless whom I would not regard as having much integrity.
The Taoiseach: Because my understanding is that this is a ruling or precedent of this House stretching far back, for very good reasons. If we are to make a change — I am not against making a change, and I see the validity of what Independent Deputies are saying — I should like to see some thought given to it and just not make a change across the floor of the House in this way, particularly at this stage. The budget speech is printed I am sure and it is a fairly mammoth task getting it out. Whether or not we can get additional copies at this stage I am not too sure. I must say Deputies are taking us a little unaware by raising it in this way.
Mr. Coughlan: On a point of order, Sir, who is responsible for procedure and regulations pertaining to activities within this Chamber? Do I take it that a Deputy who would be sitting adjacent to a former Minister would be precluded from looking at the speech?
Mr. Blaney: While I fully appreciate the problem of having copies for everybody immediately, nevertheless, as one of those privileged in having a copy in advance of my colleagues who have not been in the Cabinet before, I join them in their request to the Government and to the Minister for Finance. If there is anything they can do to make it possible to dispense with this past practice of selective circulation, then I appeal to them to do so. But I would add this, Sir,  that this is not the only manner in which some Deputies are more equal than others. I should like the Ceann Comhairle to bear that in mind and also the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, because it is not the only practice that warrants looking into to make us all equal as we should be, having been elected in an equal manner.
Mr. Sherlock: I have one last point to make arising from what the Taoiseach has given as the reason this precedent was established, that is at present a reflection on the integrity of Members of the House. The point I want to make is this. On the Order of Business as read out this morning it was stated that the budget statement of the Minister for Finance would be circulated afterwards and there would be statements by the spokesmen of the parties in opposition. I can say for once anyway that the others would have a very definite advantage over me in that respect. One reason I would put forward is that I would be expected to comment. How can one do that if one has not got a copy of the speech?
An Ceann Comhairle: I have always abhorred this practice of discrimination against certain Deputies. But I found when I came into the Chair that the Chair had no control over the matter, that it is one for the Minister for Finance. I have no doubt but that he will bear in mind the views of all Members of the House on it.
Mr. Harte: What Deputy Lawlor has just said is a very serious reflection on the integrity of Ministers for Finance who have held that office up to now. If there is any truth in it it should be examined. I would suggest that you refer that matter to the Committee on Procedure and Provileges. I do not think it is in order for any Minister for Finance to release a copy of the budget speech to the press.
Mr. Lawlor: I queried, a Cheann Comhairle, whether members of the media — who are obviously entitled to it — get a copy of the actual paper before Deputies of the House because it is passed out sheet by sheet to the media, and correctly so. Therefore members of the Press are reading the document before Deputies in the House get the document.
The Taoiseach: The theory of that is, of course, that this is a deliberative debating Assembly and that Ministers make a budget speech here and that Deputies listen to him as he makes that budget  speech. The fact that there is a script is part of the modern communications system that has developed in recent years. Of course the original idea was that Deputies listened to the Minister as he announced the budget details here in this House. That was the theory. Perhaps it has eroded over the years but that was the original concept.
The Taoiseach: I sympathise particularly with a Deputy who will be called upon to speak immediately after the Minister for Finance sits down without having a copy of the speech. I am not sure what are the physical limitations on us at present — I imagine they are considerable — but I will discuss it with the Minister for Finance to ascertain what additional copies we can make available throughout the House. But at this stage I do not think it would be possible to get a copy for every Deputy.
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