Confidence in Government: Motion (Resumed).

Thursday, 17 October 1991

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 411 No. 2

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

That Dáil Éireann reaffirms its confidence in the Government.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Before the Adjournment of the debate last evening I had been dealing with a number of issues in relation to The Workers' Party. Over the past ten to 15 years The Workers' Party have adopted a hypocritical attitude to politics in this country. One instance I might give is that in relation to the Peace Train, how, since the inception of the Peace Train movement, they have been in the vanguard of that movement. Yet, if my memory serves me correctly, it was the Official IRA, their alter ego, who [629] were the first people to bomb the Dublin-Belfast rail line just north of the Border where I live.

I listened with great interest to what Deputy De Rossa had to say with regard to his links and those of his party with the Official IRA. I can recall an incident in Newry approximately 15 years ago when a bomber from the Official IRA blew himself up trying to bomb an installation just north of the Border. At the funeral of that gentleman the Official IRA knocked on every business door in Newry telling them to shut up shop. Perhaps my eyesight was not great at the time but I wonder whether the man who was at the front of the cortège bore any resemblance to the former Leader of The Workers' Party. Perhaps he did not; perhaps it was not the same person but it looked very like him.

Under the leadership of Deputy John Bruton Fine Gael have been going from issue to issue.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I would seek to dissuade Members from raising points of order in a debate to which a strict time limit applies. The Deputy will understand the implications.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Deputy Dermot Ahern referred to members of The Workers' Party involved in the organisation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy will have an opportunity of replying in the course of the debate, or perhaps some of his colleagues.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The Deputy's party made sufficient allegations about this side of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Dermot Ahern to proceed without interruption.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I had been referring to the Fine Gael Party. As the Taoiseach said in the course of his remarks unfortunately, they have been hopping from [630] issue to issue under the leadership of Deputy John Bruton. The criticism levelled at the leadership of Fine Gael by former Senator Maurice O'Connell reflects the views of some of the members of Fine Gael. They should take a leaf out of his book.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  What about the gang of four?

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The reality is that under Deputy John Bruton's leadership, their party are giving assistance to the looney left to bring down and destabilise some of the institutions of this State.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  At least we have a Leader. Will the party opposite have one?

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I should like to remind them in relation to Telecom Éireann that it was they who gave more autonomy to Telecom Éireann, it was not Fianna Fáil. At the time we agreed with it. At the behest of the Labour Party it was they who said that the semi-State bodies should have more autonomy, that there should be a “hands off” approach to them. Look where the “hands off” approach has got us.

I should like to refer now to a little piece of invective on the part of the Fine Gael Party. I refer to a postscript to the bottom of a notice of a constituency meeting in the midlands.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  I saw that one too.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Yes, it is a very nice one but it just shows the depths to which Fine Gael have descended, the party of the late John Kelly and of former Taoisigh, Deputies Liam Cosgrave and indeed Garret FitzGerald. It is an agenda for a meeting — I will not quote it — but it is vindictive about an alleged Fianna Fáil connection with various scandals. It says that “we all know of financial advantage being taken by Fianna Fáil”. It continues to say: “if you have proof of such of these and believe that they may be illegal please raise them at item No. 6; our party may be able to use it to its [631] advantage”. It did not say: bring it to the attention of the Garda Síochána, so that at least it might be investigated to the national advantage. Rather it was for the advantage of Fine Gael. If anybody wants to see it I will produce the relevant notice. Those are the depths to which the Fine Gael Party have descended in recent years.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy will now bring his remarks to a conclusion.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I should like to refer briefly to what is happening north of the Border, the tit for tat murders which have been taking place which Deputy Currie quite rightly raised here this morning. I fully suppport what he said. Our papers have been inundated with reports on alleged scandals. Yet, unfortunately, the constant tit for tat murders have been afforded merely a tiny paragraph by the media. I say: “Shame on us; shame on us on this side of the Border.” Unfortunately there was killing on my side of the Border during the summer. This is a matter the House is not addressing properly. If there is any party that can actually bring along nationalist opinion on this side of the Border and on the northern side of the Border in regard to any future Brooke-type talks, it is Fianna Fáil. Deputy FitzGerald acknowledged that the intergovernmental conference in 1980 was the percursor of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  Which Fianna Fáil opposed.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  It was acknowledged to me and probably on occasion to Deputy Barry in private that they want Fianna Fáil in power and at the negotiating table because it is we who will bring nationalist opinion along in regard to the problem in this island.

[632]Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I should like to share my time with Deputy Browne.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The remarks made by Deputy Ahern in the latter part of the speech are a sad reflection on himself and they are not in keeping with the public image he likes to portray of a serious politician who has something to contribute. To try to introduce bipartisanship into the affairs of Northern Ireland is contemptible.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The Deputy was the first.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Deputy attends with me at meetings of the British-Irish Parliamentary Body where he makes extremely good and helpful contributions. The Deputy has let himself down very badly by introducing this tone in this House.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  It is a fact.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is not in keeping with the spirit which has prevailed in this House regarding the North of Ireland during the past 20 years. I very much regret that the Deputy made those remarks. In doing so he has let himself down badly.

The reason for this debate is that this Government have lost control of the economy. They have also lost the confidence of this House. Certainly they have lost the confidence of some members of the Fianna Fáil Party and members of the Progressive Democrats as well. Whether they will be able to bring themselves to vote as their conscience dictates they should or whether their feet will declare otherwise I do not know. The Irish economy is in a difficult and potentially dangerous position at a time when it faces enormous challenges both at home and abroad.

[633] Last January this Government indulged in an orgy of self-congratulation when the Programme for Economic and Social Progress was agreed. The principle of national wage agreements is sound but in this instance the Government wanted agreement at almost any cost. The exact scale of that cost is now becoming evident and some of the social partners are expressing lack of confidence in the Government. They are naturally dismayed at the way the Government are reneging on agreed pay awards. It was clear from the outset that the Government could not honour the agreed pay rises for the public sector. There were too many variables in the equation. The Government set out to hold Exchequer borrowing at 1.9 per cent of GNP in 1991; it has in fact increased to 2.5 per cent. The much heralded growth has not taken place and will be at best 1.5 per cent this year. This figure has been forecast by almost every economist at the beginning of the year but it was ignored by the Government.

The Taoiseach has stated that the Government Exchequer borrowing requirement for 1992 will be held at 1.9 per cent, or less than £500 million. This means they will be seeking savings of £350 million to £500 million next year. Because the public sector accounts for 52 per cent of current spending on services, savings in this area are crucial to meet the target of 1.9 per cent. This is a matter to which the Government have not referred at all. The strain will either be taken by public sector pay or, as has happened so frequently under this Government, by the health and education services. The position is already critical, hence we are seeking signs of industrial unrest for the first time for many years. The position is exacerbated by other factors including the fact that over 260,000 people or 20 per cent of our workforce cannot get work.

Another factor is that inflation is tending to creep up. Although economic activity has slowed down considerably the rate of consumer price inflation has increased to 3.5 per cent, the first upward movement for ten years. We are entering [634] a new phase of competitiveness as we approach the completion of the Internal Market. The Government do not appear to be worried about the fact that the British rate of inflation has reduced considerably and the probability is that it will be down to our rate of inflation next year. Whatever advantage we had due to our low inflation rate in the British market, which still takes 35 per cent of our exports, will have vanished by the end of next year.

This Government's policies have all the hallmarks of ad hoc planning and lack of a clear national strategy. The lack of a national strategy has been evident in the Government's handling of two issues crucial to the Irish economy, the GATT talks and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. They have also failed to assess future developments such as European Monetary Union. Last January I suggested that it was not too late for the Government to produce a White Paper on the question of European Monetary Union in order to examine in a systematic way the likely impact on the Irish economy. This has not been done. There is still no paper setting out the Government's attitude.

In reply to a question this morning, the Taoiseach stated that the Whips could consider having a debate before the December meeting in Maastricht. That is totally unsatisfactory and it increases uncertainty abroad about the ability of this Government to stabilise the conditions under which business can operate. It is suggested from recent meetings in Brussels that there will be pressure to move beyond the transitional phase of European Monetary Union and that some member states want to move now. In order to proceed, the Government will have to meet strict monetary and economic targets and maintain a low rate of inflation and a stable currency, with a sustainable budget deficit. These are impossible targets this year because of the gross mismanagement of the Government. They have not planned structures in an orderly manner.

The Taoiseach said yesterday:

[635] Recently we successfully opposed attempts to create a two-tier approach with regard to the move to the final stage of European Monetary Union. This is a matter of fundamental importance for the Community and for Ireland. The strength of the Community lies in its ideals of unity and coherence.

The Government react to events by opposing things. We do not know what they are proposing. They have not told this House or the public generally precisely what the position is in regard to the two intergovernmental conferences. We have not had a debate on these matters. This adds to the lack of confidence and the uncertainty as to what will happen in the future.

The question of confidence is central to this debate. The Taoiseach has stated again and again that business flourishes in a climate of confidence. It appears, however, that the business community have lost confidence in the Government. A poll conducted in the Sunday Business Post with Arthur Andersen, an objective accountancy firm, showed satisfaction with the Government among business people had fallen from 71 per cent last June to 37 per cent last month. In a period of four months, confidence had more than halved. The report in that paper last Sunday suggested that the recent controversies and scandals are not the cause of the collapse but rather the handling of public finances.

The Irish economy is facing its greatest challenge since we joined the EC and the Government are doing nothing to restore confidence and to assist the business community to gear up for the completion of the Internal Market. Of course the current controversies, as they are euphemistically called, are adding to the concern and unease being felt in all sections of our community. The inquiries and investigations must proceed and reports and results of these inquiries must be available for public scrutiny. The Government must not use the fact that [636] these inquiries are taking place as an excuse for doing nothing about internal matters in semi-State companies. It is because they are being negligent and inactive that the situation has got out of hand. It is the duty of Government to set the parameters within which business and indeed the whole community should operate, and part of their task is to monitor the activities and ensure that proper standards are adhered to in all aspects of economic life.

The notion of democratic accountability is central to our political system. If the people see sums of money being misused or squandered they are rightly concerned and outraged. The so-called controversies are increasing the cynicism that is now the hallmark of the Irish electorate. We cannot afford this cynicism. The democratic process itself will begin to suffer if people become disillusioned and feel powerless to affect the system. What motivation is there for young and not so young idealistic people to enter politics if they perceive the system is ineffective, unrepresentative and unresponsive to their needs and demands?

In this regard I want to say something about the Progressive Democrats who have been strangely absent either as participants or as listeners in this debate for the last two days.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  They are unsure. They do not know yet.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is not that they are more or less culpable than their coalition partners in Fianna Fáil. It is because they formed a new political party in order to establish the notion of high standards in public office. They have at times verged on the self righteous. They set themselves up as mould breakers and political reformers. From the smiles on faces this morning we will certainly be forgiven if we think later on today that they are not represented at the Cabinet table at all. They have attempted on a number of occasions to distance themselves from the well established principle of collective responsibility.

[637] There was the farcical position a month ago in Cork when Deputy Mairín Quill said they were trying to distance themselves from the job creation policies of Fianna Fáil in Government despite the fact that the leader of her own party is the Minister for Industry and Commerce who many people would consider would have the primary responsibility for creating jobs. Deputy Quill says they should distance themselves from Fianna Fáil. Are they in or out of Government? Really Deputy Walsh, here representing the Government, should find out, because if the Progressive Democrats do not get the Government this time they will get them after Christmas on the budget. The Government need to watch themselves. The Government, as a unit, are collectively culpable for the disastrous state of the public finances. The Progressive Democrats cannot shrug off their responsibility in that regard. If, as the Progressive Democrats suggest, there are aspects of the conduct of Government that they find unacceptable, why have they continued to participate? The obvious thing would be to pull out or to vote against the Government tomorrow night.

It also seems that the current negotiations between the Government parties are nothing short of extraordinary. In the middle of a five year period they sit down and spend four months renegotiating their position. This is not democratic. They do not even show any urgency in the renegotiations but leave them until the very last minute. As I stand here today there is still, as far as we know, no agreement. However I suspect there is and that the battle between the Progressive Democrats and their conscience has resulted in their poor conscience getting another hammering and being put aside.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  They will stand by the Republic.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  If these negotiations include fundamental questions such as changing the electoral system, then the situation is very serious indeed, These are matters which should have been all [638] thrashed out before coming into Government, not in the middle of a term of office. To be arguing about the disastrous public spending and taxation at this time of the year shows quite clearly that the budget of last January was cobbled together for political reasons and had nothing to do with the state of the economy at that time. A point that Deputy Bruton also made yesterday is that it reinforces our claim that the Government have no plan at all but are flying by the seat of their pants. It is clear that there is no real commitment to any kind of long term planning necessary to reduce the national debt and create jobs for the 260,000 people who are currently unemployed. This Coalition Government seem to be based on expedience and power-seeking both within each of the parties and between the two parties rather than on any sense of the national interest. The main characteristics of this Government are that they are operating by reacting to issues and events rather than initiating or planning strategies and policies. They are long on aspiration but short on action.

This lack of action is perhaps best and most dramatically in evidence with regard to our participation in the European Community. With just seven weeks to go of the intergovernmental conferences in Maastricht we have no clear indication of our contribution to these conferences. The Government have given no indication of the position on a number of key issues. These issues include the future of decision-making structures within the European Community, the role of the European Parliament, the role of the Commission, the role of the Council of Ministers. The Government have not addressed themselves to any of these issues and what the President of the Commission himself terms as the democratic deficit which should be of concern to every parliamentarian in this country.

Does anybody know what the Government's position is with regard to more powers for the European Parliament. What are their views on the expansion of the European Parliament? Are we in favour of more countries coming in? Do [639] we agree with the Germans that Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary should be allowed in next year? Have the Government any views on that? The pace as well as the scale of change requires careful analysis and study and as I have already pointed out we are unsure and unclear as to the aspect of European economic monetary union. There has been no White Paper and no serious debate on this issue, a point that has been brought up time and time again by members of the Opposition in this House over the last two years. This Government are not serious about Europe. Nobody knows what they are doing. They are waiting for something to emerge and then they make up their minds whether they are for or against it. If they are for it they shut up and if they are against it the Taoiseach comes back in here and says we are opposed to something happening in Europe.

The crucial question that has been studiously dodged by the Government is the question of Ireland's role in the common foreign and defence policy. There is no doubt that such a policy will emerge in the next two years and perhaps much sooner if we are to judge from what the German Foreign Minister has been saying over the last few days. The Government must not be allowed to involve us by stealth in a defence agreement. I personally would view a defence agreement within the European Community as an obligation we should undertake. However it should not be done by stealth. It should be done by open debate in this House and not the way the Minister for Foreign Affairs attended the WUE conference three weeks ago when he appeared to agree — though it is not clear whether he did or not — that at some stage the Western European Union forces could be put at the disposal of the European Community. This is not something we could agree to without a debate in this House. The Minister was there like a man going into a pub for a drink who did not want to be seen having it. All these issues must come before this House and this Parliament must decide [640] in favour if that is what we want to do, but it must not be done by default, because a Minister at the Council decides to keep his mouth shut and that is taken as assent. No decision on these issues can be taken without full consultation with this House.

Last year the Government agreed to the setting up of an Oireachtas committee on foreign affairs. Again he reiterated that this was the policy of the Government. Nothing happened in 12 months except one thing; he was criticised by his friend of 30 years standing who had been evidently given a promise that he would be chairman of this foreign affairs committee. However when he criticised the Taoiseach that was immediately dropped. Is that Cabinet responsibility? This is Government by pique: a Taoiseach is annoyed because somebody criticised him and he will not therefore set up a committee on foreign affairs which is essential so that this House can understand what is going on in foreign policy at the European Community in the future.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  (Carlow-Kilkenny): Tá méid stráinséar sa Teach seo inniu, agus b'fhéidir inné, agus dá mbeadh siad ag éisteacht leis an óráid a thug an Taoiseach agus na hAirí eile a tháinig isteach anseo bheadh siad cinnte nach raibh aon rud mí-cheart sa tír seo ach go raibh rialtas eile ann leis an Dr. FitzGerald mar Thaoiseach, mar is air atá an milleán ar fad de réir mar a chloisimse anseo. Cuireann sé díomá orm go bhfuil daoine ag dul mar sin. O thaobh Gaeilge de agus an Rialtas seo agus gach Rialtas de Fhianna Fáil a bhí ann roimhe seo tá sé mar phríomh-aidhm acu an Ghaeilge a thabhairt ar ais mar theanga labhartha.

Ó tháinig mé isteach sa Dáil dhá bhliain ó shin, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil deashampla ar bith á thabhairt ag na Rialtas seo i leith na Gaeilge. Ní bhíonn, fiú amháin réamh-rá ag na hAirí nuair a labhraíonn siad anseo, daoine go bhfuil Gaeilge ó dhúchas acu uaireanta. Tá sé beagáinín ait go bhfuil aontú na tíre agus athbheochan na Gaeilge mar phríomh-aidhm ag Fianna Fáil agus gan focal [641] Gaeilge ag an chuid is mó den na Comhaltaí sa Teach seo. Tá siad ag cur dallamullóg ar mhuintir na tíre go bhfuil suim acu sa Ghaeilge, agus sin i an chéad chúis nach bhfuil muinín agam as an Rialtas seo.

The old saying that you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time still holds true. On many occasions the Taoiseach has stood up in this House and said that this is the best Government ever. Even though I have reminded him that Shakespeare was ahead of him when he said “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”, the Taoiseach insisted on adopting a positive approach by saying that this is a good Government in which every one believes.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  He disagreed with Shakespeare.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  Even some of his backbenchers do not agree with him.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  (Carlow-Kilkenny): Time and again I have listened to people here talking about 1987, as though it were the beginning of the world. I do not know what has happened to the memories of Fianna Fáil Deputies — Eamon de Valera and Seán Lemass seem to be non-existent; 1987 seems to be the start of everything. They have forgotten that when Deputy Garret FitzGerald became Taoiseach in 1981 — this is about the fifth time I have said this in the House — he took over from a Government who had set an inflation rate of 20.4 per cent. What man, except a very brave one, would take over the running of a country where the inflation rate was 20.4 per cent? Our inflation rate rose to 20.4 per cent as a result of the policies adopted by Fianna Fáil in 1987 — this is often forgotten by them — doing away with car tax and rates on houses, which bankrupt the country. That Government was led for two years by the present Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey. I have listened to people talking about the inflation problem in 1987 when Fianna Fáil took office and I should like to point out to them that inflation [642] had been reduced from 20 per cent to 3.2 per cent at the end of 1987, which was the result of the budget introduced by Deputy Garret FitzGerald. If this Government had to deal with an inflation rate of 20 per cent at present, the Programme for Economic and Social Progress and everything else would go out the window and the Government would have to leave the country because they could not deal with the problems.

During the years Fianna Fáil were in Opposition, they put up posters throughout the countryside about people queueing up for passports. Fianna Fáil in Government have managed to take credit for controlling unemployment while ignoring the fact that people have left the country in droves. However, unemployment is not under control and will never be brought under control. Some of my colleagues have referred to the queues for Morrison visas. This is an indication of the confidence people have in the Government — they are letting them know with their feet that they are prepared to leave Ireland even at a time when things are not good in America. I do not intend referring to any of the major scandals. There is no need to refer to them as the Government have lost the confidence of the people by their lack of action.

I want to refer to something which happened in my constituency. St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, badly needs to be extended and, as is well known throughout the country, patients are being left in corridors. In March the Taoiseach sent out the good news to the Deputy in Kilkenny.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  For the local elections.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  (Carlow-Kilkenny): He referred to the correspondence from the Deputy about the Phase I development at St. Luke's Hospital. There was a protest held outside the Dáil and the issue was raised with the health board. I accept that it was not a personal thing and the Taoiseach is entitled to write to his Deputies but the good news was — and this spread like wildfire throughout the [643] Kilkenny constituency — that the major hospital development in Kilkenny would involve the provision of a maternity delivery suite, operating theatres, paediatric ward accommodation and other facilities. He also said that the building work was expected to commence in September 1991. However, nothing has happened and the local elections have come and gone.

Some people in Kilkenny saved their seats in the local elections because of this promise. The people who work in that hospital, the caring staff who are dedicated to the patients there, as I know at first hand, are not very happy that the Taoiseach can engage in this kind of tomfoolery. I do not know why he cannot let the Minister for Health or the health board do their job and give them the money rather than leaving them in debt up to their tonsils unable to pay their bills. This is the kind of stroke politics which has bedevilled this country and which the Taoiseach has continued to keep to the forefront.

The mere mention of health brings out goose pimples on most people. I have never forgotten the famous slogan about how health cuts affect the old, the sick and the handicapped. That was a great slogan by Fianna Fáil when they were in Opposition, but things have only got worse since they came into office. In 1989 the Taoiseach said he was not aware of the effects of the health cuts — and it seems the entire Government are unaware of their effects in 1991. People contact me to see if I can get an elderly relative into hospital. Most of these people who are over 70 years of age stood by this nation and worked hard but got very little out of it. The treatment of these people so far as health services are concerned is shocking.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I intervene to advise the Deputy that one minute now remains.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  (Carlow Kilkenny): If the father of the House had not paid us a rare visit last night I would have been [644] fine. However, that is part and parcel of life.

Yesterday the Minister listed housing as one of the achievements of the Government. If ever a man should be ashamed to mention housing as an achievement he should be. As any politician who meets the public knows, it is very embarrassing when a person living in very bad housing conditions asks what their chances are of getting a house. At present, they are non-existent. These people do not have any confidence in the Government.

Since I became a Member of this House I have raised the scandal of third level grants on numerous occasions. The Minister is still fudging this issue. PAYE workers wonder how the children of self-employed and business people with higher incomes are able to get third level grants while their gross salary is regarded as net income and a profit factor. I can assure the Minister that parents who have to pay for their children while the children of parents who are better off than them are not happy.

Rural policing was criticised yesterday. The Minister for Justice, Deputy Burke, can provide all the police cars he likes, but while they might pick up punctures they will not pick up the same amount of information as gardaí on the beat.

Deputy Bruton has been attacked for his behaviour but I think he has given a tremendous example of the work done by politicians this summer. His speech yesterday has shown that the country will be in safe hands when he becomes Taoiseach very shortly.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  It has been said that history repeats itself — the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. This confidence motion put forward by Fine Gael is a pathetic, even farcical, attempt to repeat what happened in the autumn of 1982.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  It is the Government's motion.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Fianna Fáil at that time were tackling the problems of the national finances, had just reached a [645] valuable agreement with the trade unions aimed at cutting back special pay awards and had produced The Way Forward, which, if implemented, would have saved us from the most prolonged recession any country in western Europe had to suffer over the next four years. Instead, Fine Gael and Labour were determined to pre-empt any success by tabling a motion of no confidence — there is nothing wrong with that. They subsequently won an election and took office, on the pretext of providing a Government of — I am quoting from some of their literature —“honesty and integrity”, a phrase which was marketed then like a soap powder. They gave us what was probably the worst and certainly least successful Government in the history of the State.

Once again, the Opposition have nothing to offer in terms of policy alternatives. Instead of trying to beat or to match this Government on policy, they are once again trying to beat them by producing a wide series of so-called sensational revelations to break up the Government and to win power by default.

I find the style of politics being pursued at present distasteful. It would not be my chosen way to carry out political debate. However, Fine Gael, Labour and, above all The Workers' Party have chosen the level at which the debate is to be conducted and that is the level of debate in which they must now be answered.

What is most objectionable in this whole series of affairs is the rampant hypocrisy and the double standards. The Fine Gael Party are particularly good at striking poses and talking about low standards in high places but they consistently choose to ignore the beam in their own eyes. The last Fine Gael-Labour Coalition besides being a grotesquely incompetent Government did not rate very highly on the subject of public and political accountability. At the time of the debate on Irish Shipping the then Minister, Deputy Jim Mitchell, was at great pains to distance himself, his Department and his officials, from any knowledge of the very questionable charter deals which led to the sinking of that [646] great company. Deputy Mitchell, in spite of what he now holds, refused to appear before a Dáil committee to discuss how he had handled his affairs. The late Deputy Cluskey asked a lot of questions at that time about the fiasco in Dublin Gas which cost roughly £100 million to the taxpayers of this country. The scandal so infuriated Deputy Cluskey — a man of great honour — that he resigned from office. He was not the only one to resign from office about what was going on and the low standards in high places at that time. Mr. Colm McCarthy also resigned from the board of BGE over a scandalous deal, a disgraceful deal, a deal which was highlighted for the Irish people by the courage of Deputy Cluskey.

I am sure it is a matter of coincidence, and I will be told by Fine Gael that it is a matter of no relevance, that the Chairman of Dublin Gas, Mr. Ferguson, happened at that time to be the chairman of the Fine Gael fundraising committee. When this happened, with one honourable exception, the Labour Party did nothing and said less.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  That is not true.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  One can imagine the furore that would have been created in similar circumstances if Fianna Fáil Ministers or Fianna Fáil appointees or Fianna Fáil fundraisers were involved.

A Deputy:  The Deputy is a gas man.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  The Deputy is a gas man if he can sit there and say nothing about all of this. In the course of this contribution I will outline more than one other scandal involving and implicating senior Fine Gael contacts which remain firmly brushed under the carpet. Deputy Michael Noonan, for example, has never explained the loss of £6 million of taxpayers' money in the export credit insurance scam in Canada. That money disappeared through fraud in 1986. He was Minister for Industry and Commerce at that time but he has never commented on the matter in this House. I hope he [647] will break his long silence and inform us now of his accountability in the issue.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  Has the Deputy information on it?

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  People talk about golden circles these days. Fine Gael above all parties have had some friends in the business world. AIB, for example, was bailed out with remarkable expedition from the ICI debacle and allowed to pay an unaltered dividend with indecent haste.

However, I would like to come to some more recent controversies and deal specifically with them. The commercial activities of the Irish Sugar Company over the past four years have, rightly and properly, come under the microscope following revelations about arrangements that certain executives made to reward themselves and their families at State expense. The political connections of these people has been a matter of comment in some sectors of the media for some time.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  These matters——

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Certainly the names of Mr. Comerford, Mr. Tully or Mr. Cahill have never been associated with the Fianna Fáil Party. Fine Gael cannot say the same.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  (Carlow-Kilkenny): If they were, would it be all right?

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Two of these gentlemen were appointed to the board of the Sugar Company on the same day in 1986 by Deputy Deasy. Both of them have been associated and were commonly associated with the Fine Gael Party.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  (Carlow-Kilkenny): As Deputy Roche is a member of the party that is associated with reviving the Irish language does he realise that the words [648]“Fine Gael” are Irish words and not English words?

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I accept the Deputy's correction and his sensitivity in the matter. His contribution in Irish was excellent.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Roche, without interruption.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I am not saying that association with Fine Gael is a crime or that it is an offence of any kind against the law of this land but I would suggest that it is an offence, on occasions, against common sense if it is not actually a crime. Nor am I saying that Fine Gael can be reasonably blamed for every character, shady or otherwise, who is associated with them. However, I do hold that above all else that party which have based their entire existence on what one perceptive journalist called earlier this week the mirror image of Fianna Fáil, should be the last party to decide to base their attack on this Government on the idea of guilt by association.

I have already dealt elsewhere with another aspect of the affairs of the Sugar Company in 1986. I refer to the report which I laid before the Joint Committee on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies on the acquisition of a shareholding by the Sugar Company in Woodland Investment Group Limited. On 1 May 1986 Irish Sugar acquired 140,000 shares in that company. The Companies Office records for 1 May 1986 on Woodland Investment Group Limited make very interesting reading indeed. I am glad Deputy Deasy has now joined us. Among other things it shows a set of share transactions involving a private individual whom the Fine Gael members on the Joint Committee on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies choose to identify as Mr. Brian Hussey. In these dealings 52,181 shares were sold by that gentleman to the Sugar Company and 59,601 shares were sold to the new group. Having offloaded a total of 111,752 shares, Mr. Hussey was left with a holding of one share in the original company. We do now know how much was [649] paid by the then State-owned company to the relation of a serving Fine Gael Minister. The deal has been described to me by one leading businessman not as a golden handshake but as a golden parachute. In due course, as we know, Mr. Comerford and Mr. Tully — two gentlemen whose names crop up elsewhere and, indeed, everywhere — joined the board of the new company.

While we do not know how much Mr. Hussey received, we do know that the investment was far from highly regarded by either financial or accounting specialists who looked into the affairs of the Sugar Company and this is the important issue. One of these firms of consultants operating just over a year later for the Joint Committee on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies referred to this investment as having been “undertaken without due consideration” and went on to suggest that the investment be disposed of. Within months of that report, another firm of consultants, Price Waterhouse, found that the cumulative losses on this venture at that time amounted to £750,000 and described the investment as being valued at nil. The Joint Committee on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies accepted my report on this quite extraordinary affair and the matter has been referred to the inspector appointed by the High Court.

There are a whole series of questions appended to that report dealing with the cost to the Sugar Company of this investment, possible payments to Sugar Company executives and possible contacts between Fine Gael Ministers. I have no doubt that Fine Gael contributors will provide us with the details of exactly how much was paid for these shares and exactly why this investment took place. Why, for example, did the Sugar Company which had ample space in Tuam and had a well-known and a long-standing connection with Hilleshog, the other firm involved, not get involved directly in this particular investment? I await with interest the answer to those questions.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  I would like to know why the Minister for Agriculture and Food [650] Deputy O'Kennedy, closed the factory in Thurles? Why did he not leave it open?

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  While we are on the issue of friends and golden circles there are aspects of the affairs of Telecom Éireann which would seem to warrant considerable and closer scrutinty than they have received to date. I am glad Deputy S. Barrett is in the House. Quite understandably, virtually every eye in this House and elsewhere has been focused on the Telecom Éireann site at Ballsbridge. In nearby Clonskeagh there is another site where some interesting things have been happening. In October, 1990, Ericssons, one of the major suppliers to Telecom Éireann occupied a newly constructed office at Richview in Clonskeagh. The building is in the front garden of the Smurfit headquarters. The building was constructed by a company called D-MAC, a company which Dr. Michael Smurfit claims is owned by the Smurfit pension fund. Journalists have been unable to establish whether this is the case and the companies involved, and some of their leading personnel, have not been particularly helpful in establishing the facts. However, we know that two shares in the company are held by Bacchantes Properties Limited, an Isle of Man company which has featured in debates here and elsewhere. The other is held by Bacchantes Properties Limited and by a Mr. Frank Conroy. Mr. Conroy is a very busy man. He is, among other things, a director of Telecom Éireann. My IPA year book informs me, although it is not on his list of directorships, that he is also a director of Telecom Éireann Information Systems. He is also a director of a number of other companies — Barrett, Hegarty, Molony Limited is one. That company will be well-known to members of the Fine Gael Party. They and Mr. Conroy will be particularly well-known to Deputy Seán Barrett who has joined us and who is another of the partners of that company. The interesting point about all this is that Ericssons moved to the Beechill office from offices [651] at the Harcourt Centre. Their old offices did not stand idle——

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  On a point of order, as this is the second time this matter has been referred to in this House, I would like to know what Deputy Roche is implying.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  That is hardly a point of order.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I would also like to know what has happened to the practice in this House of not naming people not present to defend themselves, and without the right to defend themselves. If Deputy Roche is complaining about innuedo and association——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Barrett will have an opportunity in time——

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  ——I would ask the Deputy to withdraw the snide remark he made about my presence in the House.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  He knows nothing about innuendo. If it offends Deputy Barrett——

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  It does not offend me at all.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Barrett will have an opportunity to reply to the remarks.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I can understand why you are sensitive, Deputy Barrett.


Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I am not sensitive. I object to what the Deputy is trying to do. He is trying to imply something without making any accusations.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Please, Deputy Barrett.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  If Deputy Barrett objects to my referring to Mr. Conroy by name, [652] I will refer to him as Deputy Barrett's business partner.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That has nothing to do with it.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I see that it has not.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Is the Deputy implying that in some way——

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Will Deputy Barrett accept that if he had been a business partner of any one on this side of the House we would have heard all about it?


Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Do not be such a hypocrite. Sit down and let me finish.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Is the Deputy implying that I am in some way involved in it?

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Wait until I finish and then the Deputy can give his response.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I would much prefer that no references were made to specifics or to personalities. I made a ruling yesterday in respect of matters sub judice and I would ask Members to be circumspect——

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Would you repeat it outside the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  ——and not to refer to personalities who cannot defend themselves against accusations made in this House, which is a privileged Assembly.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  With regard to repeating it outside of the House, I would have absolutely no problem with that.


Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  As I said at the outset of this debate, this is not the style of politics I would choose to engage in, but if these [653] people wish to engage in it, let them bear the responsibility.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is the style of politics the Deputy always engages in.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  The old office at the Harcourt Centre did not stand idle for very long as Telecom Éireann obligingly occupied 10,000 square feet of the vacated offices and the lease was assigned to Telecom Éireann by Ericsson Limited. All this could have just been a happy coincidence, but I think not. The deal between Ericssons and D-MAC was negotiated by Mr. Frank Conroy. He at that time was a director of two State bodies, TEIS and Telecom Éireann. I wonder whether Fine Gael, who appointed Deputy Barrett's business partner to the board of Telecom Éireann in 1984, would see any conflict of interest there. I await with interest the demands of Fine Gael to have this whole affair made the subject of another inquiry and I anticipate their ringing condemnations of conflict of interests.

With regard to saying these things outside this House, I have no problem. At least one newspaper has already specifically said these things outside this House, despite the whingeings of Deputy Barrett. The truly interesting thing about this is that the Conroy/D-MAC/Telecom triangle and all of its tortuous manifestations were fully explored by The Sunday Business Post two weeks ago, but a Trappist-like silence has surrounded the whole affair as far as Fine Gael are concerned.

Interestingly, this is not the only property contact between the Fine Gael appointed company director in Telecom and Ericssons. That gentleman was involved in the development of an office block at Adelaide Road, Glasthule, in Deputy Barrett's constituency in the early 1980s. That building lay effectively idle until 1985 mainly due to the problem of getting sufficient phone lines. The problem was resolved shortly after Mr. Conroy joined the Telecom board, no doubt a concidence, and the phones were put in place and Ericcssons moved in as tenants.

[654] I would like to turn now to issues raised recently by Deputies Owen and Mitchell. I refer to the Kinsealy pipeline.

A Deputy:  What was wrong with that?

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I am referring to the Kinsealy pipeline. In this, Fine Gael had been in pursuit of unverifiable and implausible conjectures——

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  You are a vile Deputy.


A Deputy:  Muck raking.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  You have done nothing about muck raking——


Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  You are a vile Deputy. You are unbecoming to this House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Roche, please. Deputy Carey will get an opportunity to make his own contribution.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  He has made horrific accusations.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  ——and I will give him the protection——


Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  You should talk to your own backbenchers. They are the ones who are criticising what you are talking about.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Whoever is in possession should be allowed to speak. The Chair will not tolerate a lowering of the standard of debate in the House as will be the case if we have these persistent interruptions. Anybody, on whatever side, who persists will be asked to leave the House. I will not repeat that.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  If Deputy [655] Roche is out of order I will draw his attention to the order of the House.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  He is not in order.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  In the rules of the House there are guidelines as to the extent to which Deputies may use a debate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Chair is quite familiar with them.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  Deputy Roche has strayed far beyond what is allowed under the standards of this House. Individual Deputies can cite their own credoes but the Chair carries out——


Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I have lost four and a half minutes at this stage and I will want additional time.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  History will prove that the Deputy is being totally irrelevant.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  If we are all as innocent as we claim, why not listen patiently, and we will allow other Deputies to contribute then.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I will not repeat myself. Any Deputy who disrupts the House will be asked to leave.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I would like now to turn to the issue raised recently by Deputies Owen and Mitchell. I refer to the Kinsealy pipeline. In this, Fine Gael have been in pursuit of inherently unverifiable and implausible conjectures about the possible future implications of sewerage connections for the development of the grounds of the Taoiseach's property at Kinsealy. What we are dealing with here is conjecture laced with innuendo. The Taoiseach has categorically and unambiguously stated that he has no intention of seeking a rezoning of the grounds of his home.

[656] The facts of the case have not been clearly dealt with. The Taoiseach allowed pipes to be laid across his land to connect the Baskin Cottages. This happened ten years ago. The Taoiseach did not look for any form of compensation. Recently, to prevent an outflow polluting an open stream with very limited capacity this scheme was connected to the Feltrim/ Kinsealy sewerage scheme for a cost of around £80,000. I state that fact because it is relevant. It is impossible to see anything against the public interest in all this. Deputy Bruton in his characteristic fashion joined in the hue and cry. I wonder should he have so done.

It is a pity that Deputies Owen and Mitchell with their minds so concentrated on sewerage did not extend their investigations in the direction of Dunboyne, where something very much more interesting and significant has been taking place. It is my information that land at Castle Farm, Dunboyne, belonging to members of the Bruton family, including Deputy Richard Bruton, who together with his brother Deputy John Bruton is trustee for another portion, was rezoned for residential development in May 1989. There is nothing wrong with that. Nearly a year later a contract was signed for the sale of almost eight acres to a developer for £55,000 an acre with an extra £1,000 “luck money”. The deal also involved land belonging to a neighbour, bringing the total area involved to around 17 acres. The original asking price had been pushed up in negotiation from £35,000 an acre. The price caught the peak of the market. The land was sold without planning permission but in the confident and assured expectation that there would be no difficulty getting permission.

An application to build 95 houses was subsequently lodged with Meath County Council by the developer in 1990, and was refused. The grounds of refusal were not simply the lack of sewerage treatment capacity in Dunboyne, but also that the River Tolka was much too small to take effluent. Consequently, the development was stated not to be “in the interests of proper planning and the development of [657] the area”. That is a matter of record. However, An Bord Pleanála upheld an appeal stipulating that no more than 50 houses should be built for the time being and the remainder when the sewerage improvements were in place. This was against the specific advice of Meath County Council.

As recently as last June Meath County Council submitted a scheme costing £560,000 to pipe sewage from Dunboyne to link with the greater Dublin scheme at Mulhuddart. I understand that their report refers among other reasons to new developments about to take place at Castle Farm. This matter is still with the Department and it is not clear at whose behest the county council acted on this. I am sure some Fine Gael worthy will ask, what is wrong with all this? There may well be nothing wrong with it — so far. However if the name on this land was Haughey and not Bruton we would be deafened by the clamour about it.

There is however another interesting detail in all these issues. While this was going on in Dunboyne the building industry was going through a very difficult period. The builder sought a number of extensions — and got them — on the closing of the sale until he could get planning permission. I am informed that the owners were paid £60,000 under a variety of penalty clauses for the period to May 1991 with a further £22,000 due in September last. I am sure I will not be told if it was paid but it is claimed that the builder was asked to call these payments, in particular the £60,000 payment, “compensation” for tax reasons. Penalty int erest, as the House knows well, is added to income and taxed at the full rate. Compensation is a different matter. The questions which have to be asked are whether this was true and would this constitute a legitimate tax avoidance ploy — a term which infuriates every PAYE taxpayer.

As I understand it the contract has now fallen through. Well over £100,000 in deposit and compensation has been paid for land which remains in the hands of the original owners which has not merely been rezoned residential but now has absolute planning permission for 50 [658] houses and potential for another 45. It is worth several hundred thousand pounds and, perhaps, more when the taxpayers pay for the sewerage improvements in the Dunboyne area. I do not wish to suggest that land owners in selling their land for housing development do anything wrong or that as land owners they are not perfectly within their rights irrespective of whether they are politicians or not to seek to use and develop their lands as they so wish within the planning laws. The tax aspects of any transaction in these matters clearly will be dealt with in due course by the Revenue Commissioners.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Roche has one and a half minutes left.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I lost over four minutes.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am allowing for that.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  However, what I cannot understand, given the striking parallels between this and the allegations which have been made not only by Deputies Owen and Mitchell but by Deputy Bruton, is why Deputy Bruton should be so imprudent as to deal with this issue in the way he has. I have to say that I take no personal joy in recounting such issues as I have touched on here.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  This is the lowest form of muck-raking.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I much prefer to carry on political debate on the level of policy and performance. Fine Gael and other parties have been happy to debase political debate by focusing it entirely at the level of invective and innuendo. They should not now whinge when they are responded to in like coin.

I was amused recently when the deputy leader of that party chose to refer to my report to the Oireachtas joint committee [659] as muck-raking looked through his own eyes.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  The Deputy's contribution for the past 20 minutes is the lowest form of muck-raking.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I have no doubt as to the nature of the response my contribution will touch off here. What I am suggesting is that if we take any set of facts and choose to portray them in a certain way we can conjure up scandals where probably none exist but the Members sitting on the Opposition benches started this and they should not whinge now when they are responded to in like form.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  Go back to the 1977 manifesto.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am now calling on Deputy Deasy. I wish to advise the House of what I said when Deputy Roche was speaking, that I am not going to tolerate any interruptions from either side.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I am not going to engage in muck-racking and I do not see why there should be any interruptions. You know me from experience——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Nevertheless, in the times in which we live I would like to protect you from further interruptions.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I should like to start by pointing out to the House that Deputy Roche was best known as Martin O'Donoghue's adviser in the late seventies.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Please get it right: I was his Private Secretary and a civil servant.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  It would be the basis for a separate public inquiry to find out how many billions of pounds of the debt we now have to carry here was due to Deputy [660] Roche's incompetence and advice, if one could call it that.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  That is thin stuff.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  He mentioned me in regard to some company whose name I have seen in recent times. I do not mind any examination being carried out into my role as Minister in relation to any company. I have let it be known publicly that I want to go before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Commercial State-sponsored Bodies. I am volunteering to do so. Contrast this with the position adopted by the Minister for Agriculture and Food who has ducked and weaved better than Barry McGuigan ever did in his attempts to avoid going before that Committee. Many matters could be cleared up if Ministers were above board, addressed the Committee and told them what they know. We might then not need to have High Court investigations or inquiries. Obviously, the order came down from the Taoiseach to Deputy O'Kennedy not to attend, to hide and postpone everything and avoid saying anything. In any event he would not let him attend as he was afraid he would make an idiot of himself as he has done repeatedly during the past four or five weeks.

The Fianna Fáil Party, and to a lesser extent the Progressive Democrats, complain that there is no need to have a vote of no confidence in the Government. The marker was put down by four Fianna Fáil Deputies two weeks ago who voted no confidence in the Government. As Deputy David Andrews said at the time of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party meeting, they were four brave individuals. By their actions, they voted no confidence in the Leader of the Government and the Cabinet. There is little point in saying that we have instigated a witch hunt. Public events in recent times clearly illustrate that the Government are unfit to continue to rule the country. The Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications, Deputy Seamus Brennan, in his contribution yesterday made allegations against the previous Coalition Government of Fine Gael and Labour.

[661] He referred to the PMPA, ICI and the Irish Shipping Company but there was no scandal involving any politician of that Government.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Nor this Government.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The person who owned the PMPA, the late Mr. Joe Moore, was a well-known Fianna Fáil supporter, a good friend of the Taoiseach and a big financial supporter of the Fianna Fáil Party. It was not a State company, it was a public company, money was misappropriated and it was very badly and secretly run. It did not impinge one iota on the Government of the day. Indeed, the people responsible got off very lightly.

The débacle of the ICI, the subsidiary of the Allied Irish Banks, had nothing to do with the State or semi-State sector; it concerned a private company and we had the job of bailing it out. In retrospect — indeed even at the time — I was one of the people who felt that the senior management of the AIB and the ICI companies should have been brought up on criminal charges. How dare Minister Brennan or anybody else suggest that the Government of the day had anything to do with that collapse or were at fault? The people running the company were at fault, to save the banking system the Government had to bail them out, which was our public duty.

I should also like to point out that the money lost in Irish Shipping was lost within the company by a middle to higher executive who spent money without reference to the board or the Minister. No blame can be attached to anybody in Government at the time. Again there probably should have been criminal charges. We are too soft in relation to wrongdoers and I hope, in the series of present scandals, that if there is enough evidence criminal charges will be preferred and that those concerned will not get off scot-free as happened in the case of a certain individual, a friend and associate of the Leader of the Government, who was imprisoned in Northern Ireland for a much lesser offence than he committed in [662] this State. Those are the facts. Minister Brennan, for whom I previously had some regard, should be ashamed of himself; I thought he was a decent, straightforward individual but he has shown himself to be petty, miserable and cowardly in his attack yesterday.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  They are under pressure.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Yesterday the Taoiseach and Deputy Dermot Ahern said that there was not a scintilla of evidence to indict the Taoiseach or the Government. Maybe these inquiries will disclose some evidence. However, the incompetence shown by the Minister for Agriculture in relation to the Greencore affair certainly is an indictment in itself. It is a great pity that Deputy Lenihan or former President Hillery have not told us exactly what happened on the night of the telephone calls to Áras an Uachtaráin. I wonder where the Taoiseach would be if they told us what had happened, he would not be partially covered in muck, he would be completely covered in it. Those two gentlemen have a public duty to tell us what happened because we all know in our hearts and souls that it was the Taoiseach who threatened the Army officer in Áras an Uachtaráin on that night.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Does the Deputy have proof of that?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  At the end of the day Deputy Lenihan had to carry the can. It was the greatest betrayal in Irish politics since 1922.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  That is not correct.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  It is about time the truth was brought into the open.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  The matter has already been clarified in this House.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I want to refer to the present dire situation of agriculture and the total collapse of confidence in the agricultural sector. That lack of confidence is largely due to the performance [663] of the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy O'Kennedy, together with the overall performance of the Government. Their indiffrence has been scandalous. Their regard for the farming community, the workers in the ancillary industries and the business community which supply that industry, borders on the criminal; they just do not care. There has been a collapse in prices in the cattle and sheep sectors in recent times and there has not been any remedial action by the Minister responsible.

Proposals from Brussels, which, if implemented, will decimate our agricultural industry, are being treated as if they are run-of-the-mill events. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy O'Malley, is reported in The Cork Examiner of last Monday in some detail following a meeting of Ministers of Trade and Industry in Holland. He said that the position in regard to the GATT negotiations and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy was very grave indeed. His reason for saying that was that the Germans have abandoned their position with regard to agriculture and the French have weakened their position in relation to opposing the measures proposed by Commissioner MacSharry. If a small country like Ireland is to achieve a reasonable result in Europe it must have the backing of at least two of the major states. To date we could rely on the support of the Germans and the French but now, apparently the German Government have made a very definite decision that they will not oppose the tough measures proposed by Commissioner MacSharry. They will endeavour to see that the proposals are pushed through and that the GATT round of negotiations is concluded by the end of this year, in other words, they are giving in to the USA lobby on this issue.

The French are not as definite as they were in this regard and it looks as if they may also agree to abandon their stance in opposition to these measures. It is disastrous from the point of view of this country. We will be on our own and [664] we do not have the clout to oppose the measures as they should be opposed. Minister O'Kennedy is not fit to carry out negotiations of this magnitude, he has shown no ability in that regard over the last four and a half years. There is no reason to believe that there will be a transformation on the eve of the most momentous decision ever taken in regard to agriculture in this country.

The Taoiseach has been seriously at fault in not touring the capitals of the EC to lobby his fellow Heads of State in regard to this issue. When Deputy Garret FitzGerald was Taoiseach he lobbied in 1983-84 with considerable success. These proposals, if implemented, will be much more devastating and the Taoiseach has not seen fit to have the matter debated at the meeting of Heads of State. Apparently he referred to it when we goaded him into doing so six months ago but he has not done any lobbying. We are particularly annoyed at his failure to do so.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  He is afraid that there might be a coup while he is away.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  It looks as if the Government are indifferent to what is proposed in Europe, events at home are per-occupying their minds. The whole issue has been clouded by events at home and the Government are not paying attention to events in Europe. I do not hear any demands nowadays from the Fianna Fáil backbenchers for assistance for Irish farmers in financial difficulties. When we were in Government we devised a whole series of schemes to help people in difficulties, such as farmers are at present. The most valuable of these schemes was the introduction of Euroloans where farmers could get money at considerably reduced rates of interest. The Government at present do not want to know about any form of relief for farmers in difficulty. Every day farmers are going to the wall in increasing numbers. It is inconceivable that the Minister for Agriculture and Food and the Government have not devised a strategy [665] to offset the difficulties confronting the industry at the moment.

This affects not only farmers but also workers in the agri-industry, the rural economy, in fact the economy as a whole. Unless some concerted action is taken by the Taoiseach, the Minister and the Government, matters will get considerably worse. Whether people wish to face up to the fact, the reform of the CAP as proposed is an integral part of the GATT negotiations. To find out that the Germans are not prepared to go along with cuts in subsidies as high as 30 per cent is frightening; it seems they are now willing to entertain cuts which could be as high as 70 or 75 per cent. If anything like that was to be entertained in this country, our farming sector would fall asunder and the whole economy would suffer gravely. Farming would become a non-profitable activity, except for a few hundred very large farmers.

Our markets and competitiveness in Europe are being daily eroded by decisions which should not be allowed within the framework of the EC. How can the EC allow continued and increasing amounts of beef and milk products into the Community from Eastern Europe while there is overproduction of these commodities in the Community itself? An agreement was reached three or four weeks ago which allows Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary to put more products into the Community, as if they had not been sending in enough already. That defies logic. We are the principal victims of such an irrational policy and we should be compensated accordingly.

The loss of our lucrative markets in the Middle East and North Africa is causing considerable difficulty for our farmers and processors. A huge proportion of our beef was exported to Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Libya, but none of those countries appears to be open to us for the sale of beef, or if they are, it amounts to only a pittance. They cite the BSE disease —“mad cow” disease — as a reason for not taking our produce but I do not believe that can be true because that disease is not a factor in this country; it is much more prevalent in other countries. An [666] initiative should be taken at the highest Government level to reopen these markets. The people in these countries are particularly partial to a visit from a senior Government Minister, or better still from a Prime Minister or Taoiseach. The Taoiseach should be prepared to go to these countries to try to salvage those markets. People may say the Iraqis cannot pay us. Of course they can; they can pay us in kind, with oil shipments. Every effort should be made to reopen these markets, and the Taoiseach would have the clout to do so.

There is a massive problem with cattle which are unsuitable for grading in factories and which would normally be shipped to Libya at this time of the year, but that market is closed at present. The Minister in recent times has not gone to Libya in an attempt to reopen these markets. I suggest that the Taoiseach, whose relationship with Colonel Gadaffi is well known, should go to Libya and ask Colonel Gadaffi to see to it that that market is reopened. While he is there he could tell him that we do not want his guns or explosives for the Provisional IRA. Let it be a dual visit. Let the Taoiseach put it on line that we want to sell our beef at a fair price but we do not want the murder machine in Northern Ireland to be generated and sustained by Colonel Gadaffi and his aides. That message should be made very clear.

I wish to give five minutes of my time to Deputy Gerry Reynolds. In conclusion, everything that has happened in recent times is of serious concern for the future of agriculture in this country. The agricultural sector has no confidence in the Minister, Deputy O'Kennedy. I do not wish to be personal but that is a fact. We get the distinct impression that his ministerial colleagues have no confidence in him; it was rumoured in the press recently that they told him to keep quiet, that every time he appeared on television regarding the Greencore issue he was making a bigger ass of himself. We need to instil confidence in the agricultural sector. We are not getting the type of leadership the farming community deserve. If the Minister cannot do that [667] job, the Taoiseach and the Government will have to take the matter in hand.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  I thank Deputy Deasy for allowing me to share his time. I often wondered why politicians are unfortunately held in such low esteem by the general public. It is something that I, as a young person involved in politics, have thought a lot about. I got one answer today — and that was the way Deputy Roche spoke in this House. He was vile, nasty and sinister. It is that sort of thing that unfortunately gives us a bad name. Deputy Roche would have done us a favour if he had gone to the United States with his colleague who brought a bag of applications for visas and maybe they would have kept him. However, unfortunately, he might not get through the second test which is a personality test, because what he has done here is low, vile and sinister. His record and his advice to people in this country has caused many of the problems we are facing today, and it is the young people who have to pay in the end. It is no wonder the Taoiseach keeps him on the backbenches. Maybe the people of Wicklow will remove him if he carries on in that terrible and stupid manner.

This debate is taking place because of the state of the nation. The people have lost confidence in this Government. When there are more than 260,000 people unemployed it is understandable that there is cynicism and apathy. Out of every ten people employed in this country, seven are employed in the public service and three in the private sector. There is a problem with employment creation. Whoever is in Government must give incentives to the private sector in order to increase employment. The nearest country with similar statistics is Britain where out of every ten people employed, six are employed in the private sector and four in the public service. The Government have not tried to grapple with the problem that the system in this country does nothing to provide employment and while we allow this [668] system to stay in place, we will continue to have high unemployment.

The Taoiseach and many members of the Government have had the opportunity to outline the policies they will adopt for the next two years. The Taoiseach outlined nothing that would give confidence to the people or, indeed, to this Parliament. That is why it is time for this Government to vacate their position, to go to the country and look for a mandate, which I have no doubt they would not get because if they cannot get agreement with their partners, how would they get the agreement of the people? Both the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil are involved in brinkmanship and this is having a very destabilising effect on this country. As long as that continues the kind of decisions that are very necessary to take the country out of the economic mire it is in will not be taken.

There are a number of points I would like to make but unfortunately I do not have the time. There is mention of a number of people who could take over the leadership of the great Fianna Fáil Party in the not too distant future as a result of the effect of the so-called gang of four and the presence of a mortally wounded Taoiseach. The Minister for Finance had the opportunity to show what he was made of in in terms of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. He said in this House that we would have an economic growth rate of up to 4 per cent but I think he was the only person who advised us of that. I believe he knew himself that that was not possible but he did not have the gumption to take on the Taoiseach and say: “stop, this will not be achieved.” As a result we are left in a dire situation.

I wish to raise a number of points, for example, the waiting lists for health care. The Taoiseach seems to have forgotten about this. The only time he seems to remember the health services is during election time.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Tá an t-am isteach.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  A final point, this [669] Government have lost their way. It is time they vacated their position and went to the country for a new mandate.

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  While the motion before the House is the issue of confidence in the Government, another issue we should bear in mind is the question of confidence in our democratic procedures and the manner in which each elected representative discharges his responsibility as a democratically elected representative of this Parliament, which was hard fought for and achieved by the sacrifices of the great people who went before us.

As I came into this Chamber I heard the spokesperson for Agriculture and Food of the main Opposition Party range over a predictable tirade of abuse at a personal level and ranging from terms such as “ass”, “idiot” and “fool.”

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I was not the first to use those terms.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I will give the Minister the protection I gave you and if the Deputy is not happy to stay I will ask him to leave

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I am terribly interested in listening to him.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I did not intervene days and months ago but I now intend to vindicate myself.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  If the Deputy interrupts again I will ask him to leave forthwith. The Minister without interruption, please.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, you will probably be familiar with that learned French writer and philosopher, Voltaire, but I suspect that Deputy Deasy who attributed such qualities to me as those of an ass, an idiot [670] and a fool would not be so familiar with Voltaire.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Is he anything to Pernod Ricard?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Let me commend to Deputy Deasy what Voltaire had to say about people such as those who claim to have the perception of wisdom of Deputy Deasy. He said very simply “O Heavens, he who thinks himself wise is a great fool indeed.” To be accused of being a fool by Deputy Deasy who clearly thinks himself wise, but who according to the imortal words of Voltaire can be said to be a great fool indeed, I regard as a great tribute.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  It must be hurting.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  If that is the level of contribution that Deputy Deasy can make to the debate in this House or to discussions on the issue of agriculture, it is not great, no more than was his contribution when he was Minister for Agriculture.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  I do not think the Minister should try to compare his contribution with that of Deputy Deasy.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  At the end of 1986 when the great wise Deputy Deasy was Minister for Agriculture the consumer price index showed that total farm incomes were nominally of £1,141 million. Four years later, during the period for which I had responsibility this rose to £1,689 million, a nominal increase of 48 per cent and a real increase of 31 per cent. If I am the disastrous failure that Deputy Deasy accuses me of being, let me say that the accusations he makes against himself are very severe indeed.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  It is the farmers who are making the allegations.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  In the spirit of the debate let me turn to the major issues that have to be addressed in the interests [671] not just of the Irish farmers but of the Irish people generally.

When the Council of Agriculture Ministers resumes for a three day session in Brussels next week at stake for Ireland, and not just our farmers, will be issues of vital importance — the Common Agricultural Policy reform proposals and the mandate for the agricultural element in the GATT negotiations. I want to assure the House that my total commitment in these negotiations will be the protection of that vital interest. I will not be distracted by any spurious smears and charges, however unfounded from discharging my constitutional responsibility during the course of those negotiations. The farmers of Ireland are entitled to nothing less. Even before the negotiations start in Brussels next week I will have personal and important discussions in Dublin over the weekend with the Dutch President of the Council, Piet Bukman, whom I invited here to underline to him the unique importance of agriculture in the Irish economy.

In 1990 agriculture accounted for about 10 per cent of GDP and 15 per cent of employment. Its contribution to foreign earnings is of particular importance. While exports of agricultural and food products and beverages accounted for 22 per cent of total exports in 1990, it is significant that the contribution to net foreign exchange earnings, account being taken of such factors as import content, profit repatriation and receipt transfers, was of the order of 35 per cent.

I acknowledge that the continuing importance of the agricultural sector is vital for our whole economy and not just for farmers. The continuing economic importance of this sector is highlighted by comparisons between Ireland and other EC countries. For the average member state, agriculture contributes about 3 per cent of GDP. I note that Deputy Deasy is leaving. I hope he will not engage in his usual tirade of vulgar abuse as distinct from any kind of rational analysis. It will be seen, then, that the importance of the sector in Ireland is three times that of the Community as a whole. For that reason [672] we must acknowledge that the current negotiations are the most important undertaken in the agricultural field since we joined the European Community and I can assure the House that these negotiations are being treated as such by the Government. I am certainly treating them in that way.

Our position in these historic negotiations has to be informed by the central importance of agriculture in the Irish economy. As I have indicated, it is of greater relative importance to us than to any other country in the Community with the possible exception of Greece. But for me, of even greater importance than the role of agriculture in the economy is its importance for people who can be forgotten in a welter of statistics. However, the statistics I quoted for Deputy Deasy at the outset come from the Central Statistics Office and give the lie to the spurious charges that he has been spreading around since he gave up responsibility for the Department.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  Ask the farmers?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  The farm families of Ireland and the workers in associated industries have legitimate fears and concerns at this time in the face of what is recognised as the most significant overhaul of policy in the agricultural sector since we joined the European Community. I want to put on record that it is their interests which will be formost in my mind, and nothing else, in the coming months and they need have no fear about the Government's commitment to ensuring that they will be safeguarded in the final outcome.

I should like to highlight the negative contribution made by some Members during the course of the former negotiations. Precisely when livestock products were being discussed — livestock products being the most important component for this country — I was made aware by my office of spurious charges being made on radio at home by Deputy Richard Bruton. Those charges were untrue and ill-founded, and I shall come back to them. I was called out from the [673] vitally important negotiations in order to provide information so that Deputy Richard Bruton could be refuted in the spurious allegations. I shall deal with Deputy Richard Bruton and Deputy Deasy later. If their purpose was to try to undermine the national interest by trying to distract me, they failed.

I made it abundantly clear to this House that the Commission's proposals as presented to date are not acceptable to the Government. Equally, the Government accept that an unreformed Common Agricultural Policy is not a realistic alternative. However, it is imperative that the principles upon which the Common Agricultural Policy is based are not sacrificed but, through the process of adjustment, are given more effective implementation. The Council and the Commission are in no doubt about Ireland's position on these matters. To drive the point home, I have relied on the principles of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Treaty of Rome and the Commission's own objectives to highlight the inconsistencies between their proposals and the stated objectives of the policy, the Treaty of Rome and the Commission. I have used, and will continue to use, every opportunity both in the many bilateral contacts I have had with my fellow agriculture Ministers, with Commissioner MacSharry and in discussions in the Council to set out Ireland's difficulties and Ireland's demands.

I take the view that it is only through the continuation of contacts of this nature that we can lay the foundation for the recognition of Ireland's special case and, where possible facilitate the development of an agreed approach on elements where we share interests with other member states.

The central plank of our appoach to reform is that there must be balance between the legitimate expectations of our smaller producers for a fair level of income and the need to ensure that the commercial element in our agriculture, which is of crucial importance to the maintenance of a competitive and vibrant industry, is not undermined.

[674] In addition to this general principle of our policy, I have clearly indicated to the Commission and my colleagues in the Council that as far as I am concerned there can be no progress in the negotiations unless the following preconditions at least are met. I shall again set them out. First, the needs of economies critically dependent on agriculture must be properly met; that is a Treaty obligation. Secondly, the mechanisms finally agreed must effectively implement the underlying principles of the Common Agricultural Policy and involve a clear commitment to defend acceptable levels of market prices; that is a social obligation. Thirdly, adequate Community finanical resources must be guaranteed both immediately and in the longer term to underpin the policy; that is a Community obligation, because it is not open to the Commission to transfer responsibility for these financial provisions to the member states where it is a matter of Community competence. Fourthly, adequate support must be given to ensure that the vital commercial element in our agriculture remains viable. Fifthly, support for extensive production must take realistic account of what is required to maintain the economic basis of modern family farms. I shall put that in practical terms. Now that the Government have achieved what Deputy Deasy never even contemplated, the extension of the disadvantaged areas scheme to almost 75 per cent of this country, I shall not leave the table of the Council of Ministers unless I get a change in the present stocking rate proposal of 1.4 livestock units per hectare for disadvantaged areas. Two livestock units and nothing less is what I will require before I shall move to the next stage of the negotiations. If that is not a specific commitment then I suppose the Opposition could never expect one.


Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  The Minister put himself in for this.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  That is more of the old, enlightened vulgar abuse that is [675] stock and trade of Deputy Deasy. Long may he remain to practise it to prove that this generation are worthy of those who gave us this privilege 70 years ago. May he keep at it.

It is also vital that the compensatory elements do not discriminate against the grass-based livestock production. That is an essential element. The seventh, and final point on this short list, is that any changes in the Common Agricultural Policy must be dovetailed with, and given full credit in the finalisation of the GATT negotiations. They are crucial and central to the case.

While I have clearly set down Ireland's general opposition to these proposals as currently constituted, it has to be said that there are elements that I regard as positive from Ireland's point of view. For example, the proposed promotion programmes for the beef and dairy sectors and the proposed Community campaign to stamp out the use of growth promoting substances are especially welcome. The proposals in the socio-structural package could also be of significant benefit to certain sectors of the agricultural community. There are other elements which could with adjustment be of much interest to us, but only if they are backed by adequate budgetary resources and assured into the future on a permanent basis.

On the home front I wish to underline my commitment to a continuation of the consultation process with the agricultural interests provided for under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. My officials and I have been involved in regular contacts with the farm organisations over recent months in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. These will continue — in fact, the latest took place as this debate was starting yesterday — in the difficult months ahead when it will be vital to put all of our heads together and ensure a strong and united Irish voice in the reform debate.

In relation to the GATT Uruguay Round negotiations that are now entering a delicate and decisive stage, they [676] are, of course, another very important element for the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. While the Common Agricultural Policy reform process is an internal Community action, its outcome will be a major contribution in the European Community's compliance with ultimate GATT commitments. To that extent, it is necessary to have a certain parallelism in the course of both sets of negotiations. In this way, it should be possible to ensure that the reforms are dovetailed with the outcome of the Uruguay Round and so remain compatible with GATT commitments and allow the Community to secure credit for the reforms to be undertaken.

For my part, I have maintained a strong line in the Agriculture Council to ensure that European and particularly Irish farmers are not disadvantaged by the outcome of the GATT negotiations. I will be availing of the Agriculture Council meeting next week to again stress this point and to warn the Commission against taking any initiatives in Geneva which would put at risk the essential principles of the Common Agricultural Policy. It was during our presidency, when I was President of the Agriculture Council, that it was first agreed by the Council of Agriculture Ministers that the agriculture element in the GATT would be determined by the mandate of the Agriculture Ministers and none other. What I achieved at that stage I intend to protect at every stage of these negotiations.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  Agriculture was never in GATT before.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  That is about a measure of what the Deputy knows. Of course it was not. In the GATT negotiations the mandate was given by the Council of Foreign Ministers.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Could we leave this Tipperary local debate——

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  It is not a matter of [677] Tipperary local interest. If it were, that would be all right, but, unfortunately, it is a matter of great international concern. The Deputy should know that the GATT mandate was always given by the Foreign Ministers Council. That is all I say to him. That has changed. Every element of the GATT mandate, if the Deputy will listen——

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  I am listening.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  ——whether it was trade, services or whatever, was always given by the Council of Foreign Ministers. The first change that occurred happened in our time. The Deputy may spoof all he wants after that.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  All I said was that agriculture was never part of the GATT round.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Minister, I ask you, please, to not give your attention to interruptions. I shall deal with those.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I hate to see ignorance as well as everything else being thrown around the House.

Many people in the farming sector and on the Opposition benches seem to regard the GATT negotiations in an entirely negative way, yet many of those people are telling me in the context of Common Agricultural Policy reform that our international competitors must be asked to accept some disciplines as well. I fully accept the need for balance in the outcome of those negotiations, which is why I have consistently and strongly supported the concepts of rebalancing and reciprocal disciplines on the part of other trading nations. I insist again that that will be an essential component in our demands in the GATT negotiations. It is only in the context of multilateral negotiations that we can get our competitors to do this and the GATT negotiations provide the appropriate forum.

[678] Similarly, people seem to view the opening up of markets as a one-way street, in other words, by way of products coming into the Community. However, given Ireland's need to export, particularly agricultural products, we need to maintain access to our current markets and to gain or increase access to markets from which we are at present excluded or to which we have limited access. Therefore, the result of failure in the Uruguay Round negotiations would be a retreat into trade blocs and a plethora of bilatreal trade disputes. One can see this happening already in the way in which trade groups are developing such as the proposed North American free trade agreement covering the United States, Canada and Mexico.

There is no doubt that any GATT agreement will have its drawbacks as well as its advantages. Through my efforts in the Agriculture Council, I have received assurances in relation to compensatory actions at European Community level which will offer a viable future to Community farmers, the continuance of Community preference and a guarantee that the total level of assistance to less-favoured regions will not be reduced as a result of the Uruguay Round negotiations. These assurances will be a big help in offsetting any disadvantages, particularly since over 70 per cent of our country now falls into the less-favoured category.

Agriculture and rural development are also vital components of the overall economy in Northern Ireland. That is a matter very dear to my party and, I believe, to every Member of this House. It is a matter in which I have had a firm and constant involvement since I entered politics 26 years ago. The natural features of Ireland are not changed by the Border. For that reason I have been ever conscious in all my negotiations of the need to co-ordinate policy positions in the interests of all farmers, North and South, and have consulted regularly with my British colleague to advance this common interest. Recently I was in Belfast with [679] the Under-Secretary of State for Agriculture to ensure that, with common purpose, we can advance the common interests of Irish farmers, North and South, hopefully breaking down one more barrier of suspicion and hatred all too much a characteristic of that sad part of our country at this stage.

Whatever the outcome of negotiations one thing is clear — the days of over-reliance on commodity trading and market support mechanisms must be brought to an end in Ireland. The key to maintaining the future viability of our agriculture lies in our ability to adopt a much more market-driven approach to agricultural production. I should like to assure all involved in the agricultural sector and those dependent on it that Government will continue to give top priority to a market-driven strategy based on quality assurance and the highest attainable standards. For that reason since I became Minister — and I might add that Deputy Deasy would not recognise the controls that now obtain; they are so much better and stringent than those that obtained in his time — I have put in place a whole range of additional controls to strengthen the normal controls that have been in place in my Department for many years.

The Department's control system, like any other policing system, is capable of being breached, of course it is, particularly if avaricious people are determined to breach it and set about doing so systematically. What matters is that that control system is reviewed periodically to check for possible weaknesses that emerge from changing circumstances. It is also important that that system be reviewed after each known breach to identify what action needs to be taken to prevent similar recurrences. Both periodic review and review after a breach has occurred are now standard practice in my Department.

In the light of the last periodic review I effected two changes of major significance — Deputy Deasy, please note. The first was the establishment towards [680] the end of last year of a separate intervention unit in my Department. That move brought together for the first time all the European Community intervention functions which, prior to that, had been located in the various commodity divisions of the Department. The benefits from tighter, more uniform procedures across the board, have been considerable.

The second change to which I refer was the establishment, again at the end of last year, of a control inquiry group which has power to dispatch control inquiry teams to carry out unannounced, on-the-spot, inspections from headquarters of meat and dairy plants.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The Minister told the House last year that the controls were sufficient.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Over 20 such inspections have taken place since the system was set up less than 12 months ago. On foot of the more recent inspections by these teams documentary evidence was placed in the custody of the Garda and investigations by them have commenced.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Last year the Minister told us there was no need for any changes.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  In addition, a complete upgrading of my Department's information technology facilities for intervention is now under way.

I recognise that the very complexity of the regulatory system is a factor that renders effective control more difficult. My Department are currently working, in parallel with similar efforts at EC level, on the simplification of documentation and procedures for intervention control. Of course, such further changes in the control system as may be indicated by the current investigations will be effected. I give the people my solemn commitment in this House that that will be done.

The abuse of veterinary medicines is a new problem in Irish agriculture. It is practised by an unrepresentative, reckless minority and runs the risk of doing enormous damage to our meat export [681] industry. Over the past two years I have introduced a range of regulatory controls and I will be bringing proposals before this House to apply considerably increased penalties for offenders. Specific inspection procedures at farm and factory level have been put into operation already. The role of the Garda in this area has been expanded. Particular attention has been devoted to cutting off the supply sources of these products. We have had very considerable success in that connection recently. It is my belief we have made substantial progress in clamping down on these abuses but I am not saying, in this or in any other area, that there will not be outbreaks of individual, shameful breaches of the regulations.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Reprehensible is the word.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I want to ensure that the controls we have put in place will minimise the number of offences and then punish and impose sanctions on those disgraceful few who damage the interests of this country.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Is the Minister aware that people using angel dust are being advised by the Department that their inspectors are coming out?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  However, it should be recognised that whatever problem exists in this area is self-inflicted which can be quickly and easily overcome by the collective will of the industry to ostracise the abusers and to have nothing to do with these substances. Let me add that whatever the source of negligence, collusion or whatever, wherever it occurs I will seek it out and ensure that those responsible are punished, as is required.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Like the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  In an ideal world those most stringent regulations should not be necessary but, clearly, some practices at producer and processor level fall a long way short of the ideal. I want to see the good name of Irish producers and processors generally vindicated but I [682] have never maintained that there are not individual breaches of the relevant controls. I want to ensure particularly that what has become current in this House on the part of Members of this House over the past month will not apply to the good, honest, honourable farmers or processors by way of this new idea of guilt by association of which I particularly have been accused by Members of this House.

May I say to The Workers Party, in response to Deputy De Rossa's remarks yesterday, that I have had no knowledge, and I am not required to have knowledge, that the sugar Acts concerned do not give me, as Minister, any statutory authority to have any knowledge of any of the events or incidents to which the Deputy referred. Let me put on the record that I have not the statutory power to intervene but if, as a consequence of all we inquire into, it seems that that power should be given to the Minister, let me assure this House and the people generally, I will take it. If that is the reason Deputy De Rossa said yesterday that I should resign — because, as the Deputy himself put it so well, even when I have nothing about which to be guilty it would seem that I have — let me say to Deputy De Rossa and those beside him that it is in sharp contrast with him and his lot because he and they have the capacity — when they have a lot about which to be guilty — to give the impression that they are the guardians of all that is good, holy and moral.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  That is a disgraceful allegation.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I would prefer to look somewhat uneasy when I have nothing about which to be ashamed, than be like them who, by virtue of their association with the long persecuting authorities of eastern Europe and their totalitarian states, can practise, as they practise so well, the big lie which is no part of democracy here or elsewhere.


Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  They are all afraid of Charlie.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  So the members of The Workers' Party can smile and look relaxed despite the guilt which should be eating their innards.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Jacob): Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  The Minister to conclude, please.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  Will the Minister tell us about the condoms?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I might say to Deputy Deasy opposite that I should have expected a little more from Fine Gael. They claim to be the ones who constructed the democratic foundations of this State. If Deputy Deasy knows about the sugar Act, he will know that I do not have the authority he says I have. He blamed me for getting rid of an eminent public servant because he had voted against the closure of the sugar factory in Thurles.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The Minister blamed him because of his views.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  That is not what the Deputy said publicly on radio. That is not what he said, the coward.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  It was a mean, vindictive act which has cost the taxpayer £8 million.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  The decision to close Thurles took place ten months after that gentleman retired. That is a measure of the slander which Deputy Deasy has determined to engage in, even in the face of fact. If the Deputy is prepared to use lies to make his case, there is really cause for concern. I am glad Deputy Deasy has now withdrawn, if not directly, the statements of falsehood which have been his stock in trade.

[684]Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The Minister was too vindictive.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It should be beneath the Minister for Agriculture and Food to brand a predecessor in his own office as a coward. He should withdraw that remark.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister for Agriculture and Food has demonstrated the accuracy of Deputy De Rossa's description of him yesterday when he said that in a mediocre Cabinet he is head and shoulders below the rest.

Yesterday the Taoiseach, Deputy Charles Haughey, during the weakest, least convincing, most evasive and ambivalent speech I have heard him make in the House decided to single me out for a vicious personal attack and to ascribe to The Workers' Party the orchestration of the campaign of scandals that now besets his Coalition Government. The Taoiseach's bizarre reasoning was followed by the spectacle of his political bully boy, the Minister for Justice, Deputy Ray Burke, trawling a BBC television programme to find a convenient peg on which to hang an old list of allegations against The Workers' Party. It would appear that the Government have decided that by digging up what they claim as The Workers' Party past we will be intimidated from exposing Fianna Fáil's present. The tactics used for so long by the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, to silence his own backbenchers will not silence members of this party.

The Taoiseach said yesterday:

Deputy Rabbitte has played a leading role in the more pernicious aspects of the campaign. He has been the RTE anchorman appearing daily with some new false allegation or innuendo.

I challenge the Taoiseach to enumerate these so-called false allegations or innuendo. I stand over every comment I have made during this political crisis. If I had time I would repeat every question I have posed because the Taoiseach has left the important questions unanswered.

[685] Indeed, I intend to pose a few questions to the Taoiseach and his Government today. Of course, the Taoiseach does not really believe that I have been making false allegations. As Deputy Michael D. Higgins pointed out in an important contribution yesterday, the real message is in the sub-text. The Taoiseach is really saying to RTE — get Deputy Rabbitte off the airwaves because I do not like what he is saying. Not for the first time his colourful Man Friday, the Government press secretary, will no doubt communicate his master's wishes even more directly to RTE management. This is the ugly authoritarian face of intolerance described so graphically by his own courageous backbencher, Deputy Seán Power.

The Taoiseach went on to say that my political agenda “seems to be one of furtive phone calls, clandestine meetings with some disaffected, disloyal employees, passing over stolen documents”. How does the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, know about my “furtive phone calls”? Is it a case of the leopard not being able to change his spots? Are some of his old friends back to their old ways, listening in to private phone calls? If the Taoiseach is getting an accurate transcript he must know that even in the golden circle in which he moves, the public spirited people who have spoken to me over recent weeks can hardly be described as disaffected employees. Many of them are business people who are sickened by the manner in which normal business and commerce have been distorted by political favouritism. It is more revealing that the Taoiseach's kitchen cabinet should consider such public spirited people to be disloyal. Disloyal to whom? Disloyal to the public interests, to the taxpayer, to the image and reputation and future of our country, or disloyal to the small elite who have made huge fortunes from inside knowledge and boast in the better restaurants of their off-shore mechanisms to avoid tax? Is the Taoiseach saying that he would prefer to leave public life — as he is now surely destined to do — keeping this information swept under the kind of carpets [686] that his charming Man Friday will hopefully soon revert to selling?

The Taoiseach complained that I had put down a series of questions to him demanding to know if he has had meetings with various different people. He seemed entirely unconscious of the irony that all my questions have been transferred to one or other Minister, which defeats the very purpose of these questions. In any event at the rate the various Ministers are steering clear of any questions that lead to the Taoiseach's door, there is no prospect of answers.

The Taoiseach's speech yesterday does nothing to allay the public disgust that is so manifest about the operation of a golden circle where some elements of business and some elements in politics are hand in glove. It is all a pernicious rumour orchestrated by The Workers' Party, according to the Taoiseach's creative scriptwriters. “I was not involved in the Carysfort deal,” he tells the House, and then adds: “I gave it my full support”. What precisely does this mean? Who is the more grateful to the Taoiseach for his “full support”— the taxpayer or Pino Harris? The taxpayer must welcome the opportunity to learn about “mezzanine finance”, “positive tax opinions” and how to make investments without really knowing them in the new Smurfit business school. The Taoiseach noted:

In the last few days we have much play being made of what was on the face of it an extraordinary letter written by Mr. Desmond to the Chairman of Pernod-Ricard. The claims it seemed to make are patently absurd.

It is gratifying from a man who apparently never admits anything that the Taoiseach agrees that the letter is “extraordinary” but on what basis can he conclude in his next sentence that “the claims it seemed to make are patently absurd”? How can the Taoiseach tell this House with a straight face that if there was any impropriety it would have become evident in the court proceedings? The court reached its findings on the facts before it and since Mr. Desmond's letter was not [687] before the court, nobody can say what the court would have found.

The Taoiseach avoids the earlier confusion about whether he considers Mr. Desmond a “personal” or a “business” friend and chooses to put on the record of the House his full support for what he describes as “a great national enterprise involving thousands of fine people who were up-front, open and above board”. This reference to the Whitbread Round the World yacht race is a curious insertion in the Taoiseach's speech. Nobody asked the Taoiseach to make any “apologies for fully supporting it”. However, since he raises the matter and since he is so adamant on his lack of contact with the commercial State companies, may I ask him to tell the House what precisely his full support for this great “national enterprise” entailed? Did he bring pressure to bear, or have representations been made on his behalf to the State companies to support this “great national enterprise”? In particular I invite the Taoiseach to deny that he personally canvassed Irish Life for a donation of £100,000 to this proud endeavour.

Continuing what the Taoiseach and his Ministers would have us believe is the doctrine of separation of State from semi-States, I would like to ask the Taoiseach to reconcile the statement by Mr. Smurfit that he was requested to bring in consultants to prepare Telecom Éireann for privatisation with the Government's own statement that no such request had been made. I put it to the Taoiseach now that Mr. Smurfit indicated that he was prepared to take a further term as chairman of Telecom Éireann only if he could be assured that the company would be privatised. The Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, personally, at the same time that he was telling the Congress of Trade Unions the exact opposite, assured Mr. Smurfit that that authorisation would be forthcoming. Hence Mr. Smurfit's action in getting on with the job and Mr. Brennan's inability to disclaim Government involvement. Mr. Smurfit's personal interest in the design of a new headquarters for Telecom in Ballsbridge was [688] not because of any short term profits that might accrue with or without his knowledge to any of his investment companies but because of his intention to take a significant and a controlling interest in a privatised Telecom.

Before publication of the Desmond/ Pernod Ricard letter by Deputy De Rossa, the single most disturbing allegation of an extraordinary series of allegations was the revelation by Deputy Bruton that sensitive financial data secured in confidence about the commercial affairs of a subsidiary of Aer Lingus was transmitted to a rival company in the private sector of which the Taoiseach's son is a principal. The Taoiseach made no reference to this matter which has so disturbed so many of his own backbenchers. He has transferred my questions on the matter to the Minister for Communications, Deputy Séamus Brennan, who has distinguished himself so far in this controversy by managing to avoid what he believes is the truth of what happened.

May I now put it to the Taoiseach that no postal misdelivery every occurred? May I put it to him that the financial and related data spoken about by Deputy Bruton did indeed actually reach Celtic Helicopters, and may I ask him to explain to the House why we are now getting a different version of events from that given to the Aer Lingus board at the time? Can I invite him to explain to the House the significance of last week's Sunday Business Post front page story that the principal in the company, Mr. Ciaran Haughey, was at the time a consultant for Ryanair?

I had also hoped to have time to ask the Taoiseach in some detail about the summons he issued to Mr. Bernie Cahill in the summer of 1990 to visit his island retreat to instruct him there to discontinue the services of Goodbody's stockbrokers in favour of Mr. Desmond's NCB for the upcoming flotation of Irish Sugar.

The Taoiseach insinuated yesterday that I and Deputy De Rossa met with the Chief of Staff of the IRA apparently to secure information to discredit the [689] Government. It is a base lie and the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey and his bullyboy Minister for Justice know it is a lie. It is a lie that stands excised from the record of the House but was widely broadcast since.

I share the same county and similar humble origins with the Taoiseach, but other than that there is more than a generation dividing us. The Taoiseach has carved out a number of distinctions which have so far eluded me. I have missed out on the great wealth that has somehow fallen into his lap during his time in public life. His career has also been marked by the distinction of having been charged with the illegal importation of arms. That is not a distinction that I covet. Last night in an outrageous attempt to divert attention, the Minister for Justice, Deputy Ray Burke, sought to rely on the contents of a television programme against which libel actions have been initiated and in respect of which the principal source of allegations against The Workers' Party has since been remanded and charged with conspiracy to murder members of the security forces in the name of the provisional movement. These facts did not suit the purposes of the Minister in his frenzied scavenging to intimidate The Workers' Party Deputies.

There is no secret about the origins of The Workers' Party. One dimension of our history is rooted in the militant nationalist tradition. More than 20 years ago our antecedents recognised the futility of physical force. The progenitors of The Workers' Party did make mistakes in the circumstances then prevailing in Northern Ireland, and what seems to be upsetting Minister Burke and some of his backwoodsmen is that these mistakes have been acknowledged by The Workers' Party and that we have left behind the blind alley of militant nationalism and entered the arena of democratic politics. Unlike Fianna Fáil which has its own origins, The Workers' Party Deputies did not enter this House with revolvers in their pockets. Of course it would suit the purposes of Fianna Fáil if The Workers' Party supporters were [690] still painting letter boxes green or shooting at members of the security forces rather than making such a political nuisance of themselves in this House. The viciousness and sheer malice of the attacks on the Workers' Party by the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey and Minister Burke must be some kind of barometer of the impact we are making on this Government. Neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister likes being pursued for answers and I can scarcely think of two Members in this House less suited to engaging in a witch-hunt against anyone.

What can the House expect from a Minister for Justice whose previous role has been in his own words, to act as the protector, enforcer and provider of and for the speculators? With unconscious irony he tells the House that he has initiated the first comprehensive review in recent years of the Garda Fraud Squad. Minister Burke is uniquely qualified to know how badly such a review is needed in the fraud squad. He has an extent of personal experience of the fraud squad which none of his predecessors can claim. Having secured his auctioneer's licence almost contemporaneous with his election to Dublin County Council, Minister Burke's subsequent activities are to some extent a matter of public record and eventually became the subject of a fraud squad investigation. One wonders if the country would have been so fortunate in its Minister for Justice if the system of appointment in the US, for example, of Senate hearings for senior Government appointments applied. The prospect of being able to question the Minister, for example, on the contents of Frank McDonald's book Saving the City is certainly an appealing one. In the book Frank McDonald stated about Deputy Burke:

As an auctioneer he was an agent for the hundreds of houses they built in the Swords area. As a councillor he tabled motions to have agricultural land which they had bought rezoned for development, immeasurably increasing its value. An extract from one of the Brennan and McGowan [691] companies published by the newspapers showed that he received the sum of £15,000 in fees under the heading “planning” in relation to the sale of 35 acres of newly zoned industrial land at Montgorry near Swords. Another Brennan and McGowan company built his house, “Briargate” on its own grounds off the Malahide Road. It was designed by the group's principal architect, John P. Keenan, who was later appointed as a member of An Bord Pleanála by Mr. Burke on his last day in Office as Minister for the Environment in June 1981. Mr. Burke insisted that there was no connection between the motion he seconded to rezone the Montgorry lands for industry and the £15,000 payment. He told the Sunday Independent that the sale of the land to which the payment was linked had not gone through.

I happen to have got a copy of the Sunday Independent in question of 23 June 1974 which includes a photograph of our present Minister for Justice under the heading “Conflict of Interests on Council”. Deputy Burke is in a nice position as the Minister for Justice of this State and he is in a nice position to berate me or any of my colleagues in this House. This is Minister Burke's background, and when he is opening files and scavenging for dirt perhaps he would read again the unfortunate Joe McAnthony's article of June 1974.

I have a good deal of additional information but time is rapidly running out. However I want to say this. It is a bit difficult to listen to a lecture on morality from Minister Burke who, for much of his political career, acted as the enforcer, protector and provider for land speculators. The fact that Deputy Burke was appointed Minister for Justice says a lot about the Taoiseach's choice of friends and assessment of character. Gasps of disbelief went around the fraud squad in Harcourt Square when that Cabinet appointment was made in 1989 and they discovered that their new political master was to be a man who himself had been [692] the subject of an intensive fraud squad inquiry arising from his activities as an auctioneer and politician in North Dublin.

Deputy Burke clearly believes that the events which occurred in 1971 and 1972 are legitimate matters to raise in this debate. If he can cast his mind back that far again perhaps he would cast it back to one year earlier. He demanded answers from The Workers' Party. Perhaps he should also ask some questions relating to the illegal plot to import arms in 1970. I should like to ask the Taoiseach if it is true that it is a condition for any journalist seeking an interview with him that no questions relating to the arms plot may be raised? Why has the Taoiseach never commented on the suggestions made by Mr. Justice Henchy in his summing up at the arms trial that either Deputy Haughey or Deputy Gibbons had committed perjury? Who did the Taoiseach meet at that time? Did he meet with people who where then leading members of the IRA? What was his knowledge of the circumstances of the establishment of the Provisional IRA? Why has the Taoiseach never commented on the statement made in the Dáil on 1 December 1972 by his former cabinet colleague, Deputy Blaney who said, and I quote:

Not only did circumstances bring the freedom fighters into existence but so did the promised support of help, not just by me but by a lot of other people as well. The blame lies on me and a whole lot of others, who helped to bring into existence shortly after those who are now condemned as terrorists, murderers — the gunmen of the Provisional IRA.

That is a brief excerpt of the response I should like to make to the scurrilous assaults on my party by the Taoiseach and Deputy Burke. To ask us to vote confidence in a Government which is led by one and has the other as Minister for Justice is to ask too much of us.

Minister of State at the Department of Industry and Commerce (Mr. Leyden): Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  I [693] must first say that I deplore the very low standard of debate which is creeping into this confidence motion.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  It is a pity the Minister was not here last night to hear the comments made by members of his party.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  It is a pity he was not here about an hour and a half ago to listen to the rubbish coming from one of the backbenchers behind him.

Acting Chairman:  The previous speaker was allowed to speak without interruption and I ask the House to show the same courtesy to the speaker on my left.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  When I think of the history of The Workers' Party and how they were born into Irish politics it ill-behoves them to make the statements and allegations which they have freely made both inside and outside the House, with friends in different areas of responsibility——

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  We have the courage to make those allegations outside the House.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  ——and secret Cumann membership in different organisations which they are not prepared to expose.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  The Minister is out of date.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  People should declare their political allegiance in every area of Irish life. The information which is regularly given to The Workers' Party seeks to undermine the institutions of this State. They are prepared to do that on a regular basis.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Fianna Fáil have done that already.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  I note in particular the contribution by Deputy Rabbitte. We are debating a motion of confidence in this [694] Government who have provided good government over the past two and a half years. During his contribution to this debate Deputy Rabbitte never put forward any proposals for an alternative government to that in office now. He did not put forward any proposals in relation to the serious level of unemployment, which the Government want to resolve as a matter of priority. Does the Deputy really think that the contribution he has made in this House today — digging up papers going back to 1970 and 1974——

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  The Minister for Justice started this yesterday. The Minister should talk first to the Minister for Justice so that they can put their own house in order.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  ——will contribute to a reduction in the level of unemployment or the creation of jobs? The main purpose of the innuendo and the slurs they have cast over the past number of months is simply to destabilise the Government, bring them down, cause a general election and create a situation where The Workers' Party will be in a position to influence the composition of the next Government.

We know their links with Ceausescu in Romania, with eastern Europe and the Official IRA. We are still not satisfied that they did not know where the guns were hidden. They know that the guns were never handed up by the Official IRA. You were a member of the Official IRA. Let us be clear about it. Let them purge their contempt——

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  On a point of order, the Minister has made a serious charge that I was a member of the Official IRA. I want him to withdraw that remark this minute.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  If the Deputy is denying such membership, I accept that.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  That is not acceptable. Either the Minister produces evidence here that I have ever been a member of an organisation called the [695] Official IRA or he withdraws that remark unequivocally and unambiguously.

Acting Chairman:  Point made. I will not allow a debate across the floor.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  I was not making a point. I insist on the withdrawal of that remark. I will not allow this session to continue until the Minister withdraws that remark.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  I accept the statement by the Deputy——

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  I want the Minister to withdraw his remark.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  I accept the Deputy's statement and in the circumstances that he is quite categoric about it, I am delighted to withdraw the remark.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  The Minister might be a bit more careful in the future with his loose tongue.

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  On a point of order, there has been a series of allegations——

Acting Chairman:  I am not going to have points of order which will erode people's time. The Minister is in possession.

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Can I have one minute? A number of allegations have been made by previous speakers about the Minister for Justice. I hope those allegations will also be withdrawn by the previous speakers.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  On a point of order, questions were raised about the Minister for Justice. There were no specific allegations and they were read into the record of the House.


Acting Chairman:  The Minister has the floor.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Deputy Proinsias De [696] Rossa is very sensitive so far as his background is concerned. However, he is not as concerned about throwing out allegations in relation to the Minister for Justice and the Taoiseach as he is about any possible allegations in relation to his involvement with different organisations in the past. He is very sensitive and I am rather surprised at his sensitivity.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  On a point of order, I did not rise to express sensitivity about anything. The Minister made a categorical accusation that I had been a member of an illegal organisation——

Acting Chairman:  Deputy, you got a withdrawal of that remark.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  The Minister is returning to the point. I want to make it clear that I rise here as the leader of a party democratically elected to this House. It is a most serious accusation to say that I have been a member of an organisation called the Official IRA. The Minister either accepts that and leaves the matter rest or else he produces evidence that I have been a member; one or the other. You cannot allow a serious accusation of that kind to be made against a Member of this House.

Acting Chairman:  You got a withdrawal, Deputy. Will you please resume your seat and let the Minister continue.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  I want to get back to the main purpose of this debate. I would appreciate if every Member of the House concentrated on the main issue of the economy which is before us——

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  And scandals.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  ——and desist from making allegations across the House, which has been happening for the past two days. The allegations being made give rise to counter-allegations but they are not in the national interest. This House should concentrate on its main function, the introduction of legislation [697] to alleviate the problems facing the country.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  Does the Minister include in that the allegations by the Minister for Justice?

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  The allegations were made on a television programme and it is up to The Workers' Party to refute them.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  They were repeated by the Minister for Justice in this House.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  It is also up to The Workers' Party to refute the allegations made on the “Today Tonight” programme in relation to the illegal printing of Irish money. All those allegations were made on RTE and as far as I know they were never refuted. They should refute those allegations while they are at it. I am sure it would be appropriate for them to refute those allegations in another forum, on radio or television.

I am very pleased, as Minister for Trade and Marketing, to have this opportunity to speak in support of the motion before the House. Before dealing with my specific area of responsibility, namely Ireland's marketing and export performance in recent years and the prospects for the future, it is worth reiterating some facts about the performance of this Government and its predecessor since 1987. I will also deal with how the marketing and export promotion policy of both Governments has played a vital role in the recovery which has taken place in the economy since 1987.

When Fianna Fáil came to power in 1987 we found the country in the most perilous state. The national debt had been doubled over the term of office of the previous Government. The budget deficit at over 8 per cent of GNP was at the highest level ever. Income taxes were at a level where many considered it not worth their while to earn an income. Investment in the economy was non-existent. Employment had fallen by over 60,000 during the previous Government's reign. Confidence was at an all time low. [698] Indeed, it would probably be truer to say that despair was at an all-time high. This was the mess the incoming Government were faced with in 1987. To many it appeared a hopeless case.

Immediately on taking power in 1987 we set about rectifying this disastrous situation. We faced up to the tough decisions which had to be taken. I must place on record the responsible attitude of Deputy Dukes and the Fine Gael Party at the time. Unfortunately, he suffered the consequences of his responsibility when he was removed and replaced by Deputy Bruton as Leader of the party.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  What were the Minister's crowd doing over there?

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Nevertheless, the record will show that Deputy Dukes played a very important role in supporting the policies pursued by our Government at that time; many of us suffered electorally in 1989 as a result of the action taken in the national interest. We were prepared to stand up and make very tough decisions. We should place on record our appreciation to the person who was Taoiseach then, is Taoiseach now and the Taoiseach of the future, for his commitment and dedication to this policy.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Senator Doherty might be asked to dissolve the Dáil.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  By 1990 the despair which had existed had been changed to a new confidence. This confidence was well founded. The basic economic indicators showed just how successful this Government and the previous one had been in the transformation of the economy.

The current budget deficit had been cut from the record level of 8.3 per cent of GNP to just 2 per cent by 1990. The economy had been transformed from one of stagnation to positive growth averaging 4.5 per cent per annum. The balance of payments moved into surplus aided by record export levels and trade surpluses and Ireland became an attractive location for investment. We have one of the lowest inflation rates in world. [699] Personal tax rates fell from 58 per cent to 52 per cent at the higher band and the standard rate fell from 35 per cent to 29 per cent, a major achievement in a short number of years. We built a strong economy which was crucial to weather the effects of the latest severe international recession; a recession which of course has impacted on us just as it has on even the world's strongest economies.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Does the Minister believe that?

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Had we not been successful in transforming our economy since 1987 we can only speculate on the disaster which would now be facing us in the light of current international difficulties.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There are 300,000 out of work.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Minister should say it as if he means it.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  I would like to turn now to my own area of responsibility, namely, trade and marketing and more specifically export performance. Since 1987, this Government and their predecessor can be justly proud of their record in promoting Irish exports. We have had continuing trade surpluses every year. Overall export growth and the export performance of our indigenous exporters have been most impressive even in the face of extremely harsh worldwide economic conditions.

Irish export performance has still been most impressive in 1991, despite the level of international recession, war in the Gulf and general economic uncertainty. Up to the end of July, exports showed a remarkably solid performance. Exports in value terms for the first seven months of the year amounted to £8.6 billion, almost at parity with their 1990 levels. This performance is characterised by steady growth in the indigenous sectors such as textiles, furniture, clothing and footwear. However, the international [700] recession has had a particularly adverse affect on exports of computer related equipment with exports in this sector down by some 17 per cent.

The real success of exports for the first half of 1991 lies in the volume increase, with overseas sales of manufactured goods up to 7.6 per cent over the same period last year. When one considers that this volume increase was achieved against a disimproving world trading climate, the export performance so far this year is to be commended. Even though downward price pressures in the international marketplace are causing our export values to be static, given the strong volume growth which we are experiencing, I am confident that 1991 will see an increase in export values from £14.3 billion last year to at least £14.8 billion in 1991, truly a great performance for our country, truly a great performance for the Government, truly a great performance for our manufacturers and our exporters.

Of particular importance is the success of our indigenous exporters. Preliminary surveys by An Bord Tráchtála — the Irish Trade Board — indicate that their 1,200 indigenous companies are showing particularly strong growth in their exports in 1991. The sectors performing best are clothing, footwear, textiles and added value food products. This performance continues a trend which can be traced back to 1987. Over the three years from 1987 to 1990, indigenous exports increased by 44 per cent in value while total exports increased by 33 per cent. Before 1987, indigenous export growth had consistently trailed that of overall exports with an average annual growth of just 5 per cent. Since 1987, indigenous exports have outpaced overall export growth at an average of 13 per cent growth per annum.

The ultimate objective of all trade and marketing policy is employment creation. I am confident that the efforts made to develop the marketing capabilities of our firms is now bearing fruit and will continue to do so. I would like to give a practical example of a company which has benefited from yet another [701] Government inspired scheme to assist exports, namely the special trading house scheme.

In a letter to my office recently, a manufacturer explained how his company increased production through the use of a trading house to do his overseas marketing. Prior to dealing with the trading house, export sales for the company were zero. After making arrangements with the trading house, exports now account for 80 per cent of sales. Employment in the company has increased from 13 to 48 people. This is an example of how export led growth can impact on employment and how crucial exports are to our economy overall. We will continue to develop policies which produce results such as these.

In the midst of all these Government efforts and the individual efforts of firms we must never ignore the extent to which our destinies are controlled by outside factors. There is no point in pretending that we are immune from economic conditions which prevail in the rest of the world. The economies of our major trading partners have experienced severe recession. Although some are showing signs of re-emerging, many are still clouded by enormous difficulties. In the US, for example, the weakness of the banking system is still affecting confidence; efforts by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are being hindered by old technology, the lack of an infrastructure to support a market economy and lack of entrepreneurial spirit. A recent estimate by UNCTAD predicts that aggregate world growth is likely to advance by less than 1 per cent in 1991 compared with almost 2 per cent in 1990. The difficulties of trading in a tight economic situation such as this with intensified competition as firms compete for market share must always be recognised.

There are two factors in particular which have contributed to our export success in the past and which will undoubtedly continue to contribute in the future. The first is the Government's achievement in creating a favourable business environment which I have already outlined. The second element concerns the [702] specific supports which the Government put in place for our exporters over those years to help them build market share. The efficiency and effectiveness of these supports are continuously under review and are adjusted to suit the particular demands of our exporters from time to time. What length of time remains for me?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Twelve or 14 hours is all you have left.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Minister has another seven minutes.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  I would like now to concentrate on the substantial efforts which went into developing marketing programmes to assist Irish business prepare for the threats and opportunities of the Single European Market.

There has been general agreement in this country that, historically, too high a proportion of State expenditure on industrial development has gone towards investment in equipment and fixed assets. It is acknowledged that the balance needed to be shifted towards “softer assets” and particularly towards areas of perceived weakness like marketing, management development and technology. This policy was adopted in the White Paper on Industry Policy in 1984 and the two reviews of that policy which have been published, the last one in December 1990, bear out that a significant shift within the industry budget from support of fixed assets to non-fixed assets has taken place.

We are quite confident we can meet the challenges and the opportunities which will present themselves in the Single Market. Indeed the Government during the Presidency of the EC in the first six months of 1990 played a very significant role in ensuring we had much greater opportunities in the Single European Market after 1992. Generally speaking this debate which is taking place is certainly unhelpful to the economic wellbeing of our country. It is in the national interest that Ministers, Ministers [703] of State and Members of this House should assist the business community in every way possible to develop markets and increase production. I make no apologies for working with industries throughout the country to assist them in developing and in increasing employment. Nothing said in this debate will deter me from my responsibility as a Minister. I will work with companies in my constituency and beyond to obtain new markets at home and abroad. In pursuit of that I will be delighted to continue my contacts at all levels.

As a Member of this House I am concerned about media coverage of events over the last few weeks. I favour, without question, a free media, subject only to the prevailing laws of libel and whatever constraints the Dáil may decide to impose in relation, for instance, to incitement to hatred or violence. In fact, one of the distinguishing features of free societies is a media which is free to report and comment on all the issues. The media has a big contribution to make to the maintenace of democracy and, of course, one of the hall-marks of an anti-democratic society is a media which is muzzled.

That said, I would like to take a look at another quality which the media must possess — a sense of responsibility. As far as I am concerned, freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.

Because the media business is so competitive, it is natural that each newspaper or radio station or whatever should try to make its product as attractive as possible. Sometimes, this may result in over-simplification of complex issues, but it is to be expected that the media will try to make these issues as stimulating and attractive as possible, without distorting the facts. There has to be a middle way and, usually, the media get it right.

However, in recent weeks, I have been disappointed to see a lowering of standards in some of the media in the headlong pursuit of better and more sensational stories. Some media people have lost sight of certain things which are essential if they are to carry out their jobs in a professional and objective manner. [704] A particularly worrying development has been the presumption of guilt by association which has crept into some coverage.

We should all be very grateful to a vigilant media which exposes and reports on corruption wherever it exists. I do not want dirt to be swept under the carpet. People and institutions, up to the highest level, should be subject to scrutiny and, if they do not measure up, we should know about it. In uncovering stories which, at the very least, raise genuine concerns, the media performs a very useful task and is to be complimented. However, not all coverage in recent weeks has been fair and reasonable and some of it has crossed that line into the presumption of guilt, or certainly, leading the reader/listener/viewer to think that some person or organisation is guilty, in advance of any proven facts, particularly, guilty by association.

Also, calling for some sense of national responsibility on the media's part is not unreasonable. The media is part of Irish society and should think carefully about damage which it can inflict on the national economy.

For instance, it might be very tempting to run a sensationalised story on a particular industry, which, by creating seeds of doubt about that industry could lead to lost export orders and, ultimately, lost jobs. That is why I am deeply concerned about coverage in recent weeks. There is an onus on the media not to rush prematurely into print with such a story; it should be thoroughly checked out beforehand.

I know that, by saying this, there will be those who will accuse me of calling for a whitewash approach to journalism, that is that anything, true or false, which damages the country's image should not be made public. I am emphatically not saying that.

If something or somebody deserves to be exposed, so be it. We do not want companies for instance who damage our efforts to establish a quality image for Irish industry and its exports.

However, when there are rumours and unsupported allegations circulating, it is up to media editors to think very carefully [705] about the presentation of a story before running it. They should give consideration to the potential for causing commercial damage to a company or an industry or, indeed, to the national image.

It is about time that the media established a press council to ensure that those who would be affected by unproved stories have some remedy without going to the courts. I particularly resented articles by Conor Cruise O'Brien in the Irish Independent which were most offensive to the Taoiseach. The allegations were scurrilous. Dr. Cruise O'Brien talked about people gathering at the crossroads waiting for the grave to be dug and about someone waiting to plunge the knife or the spear into the Taoiseach. That was incitement to hatred by a vicious commentator, a former Member of this House. It reached the lowest standards of any newspaper or publication here. The editor and the proprietors of the Irish Independent should ensure that that type of approach is not repeated. It is an embarrassment and it is an insult to the elected leader of this country. I very much resent that sort of publication and I appeal to the media to set up a self regulatory press council so that people will have a chance to at least put their case. That would do the media a good deal of good.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  With the agreement of the House I would like to share my time with Deputy Michael Creed.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This motion gives Members the opportunity to put to the test the activities of the Government composed of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats in terms of their ability to do the job they were elected to do. It also gives politicians the opportunity to avail of a verbal blood letting and a political blood letting to release the pent up fury and outrage felt by many people reflected in the words of politicians as a [706] result of various activities of the Government.

There are other people in the country who should now have the courage to speak out. There are still loose ends to be tied up with regard to many of the allegations and activities with which the Government are concerned. Arising from discussions yesterday and this morning a deal will probably be cobbled together by Friday and the Taoiseach will not be forced to seek a dissolution of the House. The fact that that will happen indicates the shortsightedness of the Government in their collective responsibility in that the decision to carry on merely reflects their stumbling from crisis to crisis.

We will go on from this crisis to the preparation of the budgetary estimates and the attempt to implement the budget next January or February with all the consequent difficulties for any Government. Those difficulties coupled with attempts by Fianna Fáil members to change leadership mid-stream arising from a naked fear of going into a general election with Deputy Haughey as leader adds to the difficulties, the lack of confidence, the cynicism and the frustration of thousands of people. I am surprised that the matter of collective responsibility is not to the forefront in this debate. I have not heard a member of the Progressive Democrats express confidence in the activities of the Government or talk about the responsibility placed upon them by the electorate. They appear to be unable to defend the confidence motion and their Government in terms of what they have done.

The Taoiseach in his speech yesterday said that under the national development plan there had been sustained investment in our infrastructure, roads, ports and airports with corresponding benefit to activity in the construction industry. The Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats Coalition Government have let this House, our young people, the middle aged and the elderly down. As one person quite rightly put it: the only difference between this place and the Titanic is that it had a band.

[707] The economic crucifixion and wreckage which have been brought about by the Minister for Finance and his colleagues in Government are obvious to everyone on the streets of Ireland. The CII report on unemployment indicates that at the end of August 265,300 people or 20.4 per cent of the labour force were out of work. This represents an increase of 35,000 since the same period last year despite the fact that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance in their concluding remarks on the national plan said there was no question ever again of allowing Government expenditure to increase as a proportion of GNP. We have seen nothing but abject failures since the introduction of the fraudulent budget by the Minister for Finance earlier this year.

The national debt hangs around the neck of each man, woman and child in this country. Not alone has the country borrowed in dollars and Deutsche Marks but it has deprived young children in over crowded classrooms of opportunities to avail of the right type of education which would enable them to cope with the difficulties they will face in their lives. It has forced those who have left our much esteemed education system with qualifications to go abroad to find employment and gain experience. Elderly people who wake up each morning crippled with pain must wait for hip replacement and orthopaedic operations because of the inability of the Government to provide a decent health service. Thousands of people are deprived of the opportunity to gain some comfort in the remaining years of their lives.

It is for those reasons principally that I wish to speak to this motion of confidence as a Deputy representing the west which has been cast aside completely by the Government. No matter what happens now or what temporary arrangements are arrived at there is nothing which will restore the confidence of the people in the Government's ability to run their affairs. The Government have lost that confidence and they cannot regain [708] it. The soldiers may well march on but I wonder where their destiny lies.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  One of the amazing side issues to this motion of confidence in the Government is the reluctance of the junior partner in Government to participate in the debate. Indeed, they are threatening to withhold support for a Government in which they have participated for the past two years and four months.

The purpose of this debate is not to gaze into a crystal ball to see what this Government will do in the future but rather to measure their performance during the past two years and four months. It is clear that the Progressive Democrats, four Fianna Fáil back benchers and the Opposition parties in this House do not have confidence in the Government. Judas like behaviour is apparent in the activities of the Progressive Democrats. Even though collective responsibility has been vested in the nation's interest in the Government two Cabinet Ministers are withholding their confidence while negotiations are taking place.

On this side of the House we do not have confidence in the Government because of what they presided over in the past. The Government should be alarmed about the fact that not only has this House lost confidence in them but that the public have. All the barometers and indicators used to measure the performance of the Government point to abysmal failure. Emigration reached record levels during the term of office of the Government. Unemployment has reached its highest level in the history of the State, the public finances are in disarray while farmers are fearful for their future. The scandals of recent weeks have only crystalised what was already a high level of dissatisfaction with the performance of the Government.

What is unfortunate is that the level of apathy and cynicism among the public towards politics and politicians has increased and they no longer tend to distinguish between those politicians who behave in a correct and honourable [709] manner and those who callously disregard procedures and long accepted standards in public life. It is for that reason that I put down a clear marker that not all politicians are the same. If they were, we would not need to have this debate as we would all be in agreement and applauding ourselves for presiding over record levels of unemployment and emigration, for the fact that the public finances are in disarray and that all the other indicators point to an inadequate Government performance.

Fine Gael are not a party of strokers and dealers. They have a proud record in administration. One of the interesting things which emerged from the recent scandals was that the CII considered it necessary to implement a code of conduct and lay down procedures to be followed in the business world. However, the Government do not seem to have learned any lessons or recognise that the time is now opportune to introduce a code of ethics and standards to be followed by politicians in discharging their duties. The public will draw their own conclusions from the Government's failure to announce that it is their intention to introduce a code of ethics.

There has been too much emphasis in the debate so far on the scandals of recent weeks. I do not need to base my arguments on those issues but I should like to refer to one of them, the Telecom Éireann affair. The following point is indicative of the creeping bureaucracy and centralisation evident during the term of office of the Government. Why did Telecom Éireann who have the most technologically advanced communications system in the world consider it necessary to purchase a headquarters in the hub of the capital city given that EEXCO, the financial exchange company based in Killorglin, can compete with the best financial exchange companies in the world from that location? How come Telecom Éireann saw fit to pay in excess of £9 million for a site on which to build their headquarters in Ballsbridge? That scandal has not been [710] tackled or commented upon by any commentator. One could buy a serviced green field site in any rural town, build an office block which would meet the requirements of Telecom Éireann, and operate with a very advanced telecommunications system a very efficient headquarters for the price they paid for the Ballsbridge site. That did not happen and it is evidence of the creeping centralisation and bureaucracy which pervades every element of the Government and decision makers at national level at present. I want to move on from that but it was the one point that really got my back up in regard to the scandal.

So many other things happened that the scandals really only crystallised the level of dissatisfaction with the Government. I want to dwell on four points. I want to refer to unemployment because many of the people with whom I went to school and college are now eking out a living in London, America and Australia, indeed in the four corners of the earth. I am not saying that Fine Gael have all the answers to the problem of unemployment. However, when this party made an offer to depoliticise the whole unemployment issue, to take it out of the realm of point scoring on the backs of our emigrants, the Government refused to entertain that suggestion, to their eternal shame.

The unemployment crisis is the single gravest issue confronting this country. I saw “Newstime” on RTE a week or ten days ago at the height of the clamouring by our young people for Morrison visas. The programme came from Galway and I was struck by a girl with a law degree seeking an apprenticeship. She had spent two years in employment other than the field in which she was qualified and she had now had enough. It behoves all of us to put the political point scoring on the unemployment issue on the back burner. The Government should no longer close the doors on all Members of this House who want to contribute in a meaningful way to resolving the problem.

The second point with which I should like to deal is the whole area of agriculture. It is very relevant in the context [711] of unemployment because the Government seem to fail to realise the potential in the agricultural industry to contribute to a significant reduction in our unemployment levels. I come from the Cork North West constituency which is a microcosm of life in rural Ireland. It is largely an agricultural community with a PAYE workforce, much of which is a spin-off directly from agriculture, including food processing, and the service industry, which are also dependent on agriculture.

There is an appalling lack of confidence among the agricultural community regarding their future. The Government's failure to respond in any meaningful manner to the Common Agricultural Policy reforms proposed by Commissioner MacSharry has alarmed them. When you consider that 16,000 jobs are estimated to be lost in the PAYE sector alone as a result of the Common Agricultural Policy reforms, one can appreciate the level of despair which exists. We have not presented any alternatives to Common Agricultural Policy reform and if we are to be taken seriously at European level we cannot be merely reactionary at that forum, we must come up with viable alternatives. That we have not done so is to the eternal shame of the Minister for Agriculture and Food who has spent the last six months in the bunker avoiding the public gaze and refusing to answer questions in relation to where he stands on a number of important issues which at present afflict the agricultural community.

ERAD, the great white hope for TB eradication, is in disarray. The level of grant payments to farmers is nothing short of criminal. I had occasion to contact the Department of Agriculture and Food in Cavan recently about installation aid payments, I was told that 25 would be paid between now and Christmas but that they could not give any assurance that any would be paid in 1992, which is an appalling statement.

The third point with which I wish to deal is the attitude of the country and the Government to the EC in general.

[712] Ireland's future is intransically bound up with the EC; we have gained immeasurably from our membership. Fianna Fáil's attitude to EC membership is inconsistent and reactionary. Cast your mind back to the Single European Act which paved the way for many of the benefits we have received since it was passed and which Fianna Fáil opposed in Opposition. When the going got tough Commissioner MacSharry, when he was an MEP, advocated that perhaps Ireland should reconsider its membership. If there was a time when our citizens questioned whether membership of the EC was beneficial it was when Commissioner MacSharry announced his reform proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy.

There is no long term vision in relation to EC membership from the Government, there is no public awareness about the importance of the EC to our economy, simply because the Government have not led the debate. A whole series of important issues are now coming to the fore in Europe, including monetary and political union. The Government will go to Maastricht in December and will not present an Irish standpoint on any of these issues. They will merely react to the proposals of other Governments for our future. Surely, if we had our interests at heart, we should be in there presenting our vision of a new Europe rather than merely reacting to other peoples opinions as to how a new Europe should develop?

My final point is in relation to the whole question of Dáil reform. The Progressive Democrats raised public expectations like no other party had ever done in the formation of the Programme for Government in regard to their vision of Dáil reform. However, to date, there has not been any Dáil reform under the Government. There are 166 Deputies in this Chamber, 95 per cent of whom, because of the way the structures of parliament operate, are nothing more than glorified messenger boys for their constituents. The present system alienates the vast majority of TDs from making any meaningful contribution towards a resolution of all the problems which [713] afflict this country. There is a cosy Cabinet club which assumes a monopoly of wisdom on all our problems. Is it any wonder that we are in a quagmire with all the problems of unemployment, emigration and public finances? This is because 14 wise men assume this monopoly of wisdom and exclude from any meaningful contribution the rest of the Members of this House.

We need a proper committee system. There are proposals reported in today's newspapers from France and Germany regarding a European army. We do not have a foreign affairs committee where we could discuss that matter and take a stand on it If we had a good committee system we could reduce the level of bickering in this Chamber because much of the common ground would have been previously ascertained and only matters of dispute would emerge on the floor of this House. At present everything is in dispute in the House because there is no forum where areas of common ground can be determined. It is very regrettable that we do not have a committee system for debating budgetary provisions as they are adopted without consideration of their implications after one question is put and one vote taken. It is an appalling system when you consider the amount of money involved and the difficulties in collecting it.

The Programme for Economic and Social Progress has further diminished contributions which elected Members can make to policies in a meaningful manner. All decisions are now taken by the Government in consultation with the social partners. The process of consultation with the social partners is good but it is not a substitute for real parliamentary democracy where all the Members in this Chamber would be involved. It is another indication of the contempt with which this Government treat this Chamber.

As I said at the outset I have four points on which I wish to comment with regard to the confidence motion in this House.

[714]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy has made a telling contribution but I would welcome the little phrase “in conclusion”.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  In conclusion, I did not need to hear of the scandals to vote no confidence in this Administration. I had lost confidence in them long before any of these issues emerged, but they have only served to reinforce and redouble my efforts to ensure that the lifetime of this Administration is short.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Daly): Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I intend to circulate a script on the main features of my responsibility in the Defence area. I will use some speaking notes to refer to some other issues that have arisen in the course of this debate. I welcome the change of attitude by the two previous speakers. It would be a welcome sign if Deputy Creed and Deputy Kenny got back on a path of constructive opposition, which is what I believe the younger people in Fine Gael would like to see.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  What about the four young backbenchers in Fianna Fáil?

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I have been involved in politics for a long time — I have been a Member of this House for 18 years — but I have never heard more dishonest and unpatriotic propaganda than emanated from the Opposition in the past few weeks. They may feel that it will enhance their position in the polls, and that they may move up a point or two as a result, but the constructive approach just taken by Deputy Creed would be far more advantageous to Fine Gael, as was the Tallaght strategy, than the type of campaign that has been waged in the past few weeks. It is destructive not only to the country at large but also in a very personal way to Members of the House and to politicians in general. It is doing no service to the country or to the Opposition. I have never heard such sanctimonious propaganda as came from The [715] Workers' Party in the last few weeks. Talk about foxes taking care of chickens; The Workers' Party should not come in here to lecture us about how we should run our affairs.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  If the Minister wants to be constructive, he should not attack The Workers' Party.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The Workers' Party should concentrate on running their own affairs. I was attacked on my nomination by the Leader of The Workers' Party.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  We will not listen to the Minister or anybody else attacking us because the truth is being told.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Sherlock, you are giving a very poor example of good standards. You should compose yourself. You will get an opportunity to speak and I will give you the same protection as I am giving the Minister.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  The Minister is attacking The Workers' Party but he will not get away with it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Ciúineas.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  They are the very people who pay lip service to democracy, freedom and human rights but deny those who have been accused of wrong-doing their very basic legal and human right to defend themselves and have a fair hearing. It is very improper for anybody in the privileged position of this House to make the kind of unprecedented attacks that have been made in recent times. The financial position of The Workers' Party and the fact that they are sacking their own employees does not give much confidence to the people that they would be able to manage the affairs of the country. However, I do not want to go into that in any more detail.

[716]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  That is not very constructive.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The decent people in Fine Gael — and there are many of them in my constituency — are appalled with the attitude taken by Fine Gael since Deputy John Bruton took over leadership of that party. They do not believe he is representing the views of the ordinary rank and file members of the Fine Gael Party. However, it is a matter for themselves to decide whether they want to continue along that line or to take the line of constructive opposition.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  The last Fianna Fáil speaker attacked the media——

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Progressive Democrats are next.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Remember General Custer.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  When Fianna Fáil took office a couple of years ago this country was on the brink of financial collapse. It was in an economic morass and there was no prospect under the Coalition Government in office at the time that the position would ever change. It is well known that there was widespread disagreement in that Coalition Government for almost a year and a half before that Government were finally dissolved. We saw the spectacle of members of the Government walking up and down Leinster Lawn while some issue of Government dragged on for two or three days. The Government could not come to grips with the issues because there was no inherent stability in the Coalition arrangement at the time.

When we hear public attacks on the present state of the country we must look at the position as it is at present. This and the previous Government have a record of courage and leadership. They are probably the two best Governments since the foundation of the State. We have inflation rates and our balance of payments under control. There have been [717] some difficulties in the financial area and we are endeavouring to deal with them effectively, although it is not easy. In spite of that, we now find that when the Opposition have no complaint about the economic performance of the Government a performance that was supported for quite a long time by Deputy Dukes with his Tallaght strategy, and, which was welcomed by the community at large — when they cannot find a reason to attack policies and issues that affect us, they resort to the tactics of singling out individual Ministers, and the Taoiseach in particular for attack. The sustained and vindictive campaign of vilification has raged unabated for months. I know what that is like because I put up with it for nearly a year and a half when a personalised campaign of vilification was waged against me, with 3 a.m. phone calls of intimidation.

We have a job to do here and we have a responsibility to the people who elected us to see this job through. The constituents who are watching very carefully what is going on will be able to gauge whether their interests are best served in having people of courage and leadership who are prepared to tackle the economic problems or people who will yield to every pressure that comes their way. In my case the constituents of Clare realised that a campaign was being waged against me, and I would not be here today were it not for the fact that they voted confidence in me. That was a most vicious personalised campaign and it lasted for nearly two years.

As I said, we have to deal with the present economic position in an effective manner. It is vitally important for the economic success of the nation that a firm grip of the economic affairs of State be maintained by the Government. To do otherwise would be to put back the development of this country for ten to 15 years. We must put aside all the talk and comment about scandals and the vilification of personalities and get down to the basic task on hand. The Government need the support of the Opposition in dealing effectively with the very serious economic problems facing us.

[718] I want to mention some important aspects of the Department of Defence. Since taking up office in February last it has been my prime concern to ensure that despite the economic constraints within which we must all operate, the Defence Forces should have the resources to undertake their various tasks in aid of the civil power at home and to continue to support in a practical way the ideals of the United Nations and the peace keeping missions we are involved in overseas.

Perhaps the most significant development in relation to the Defence Forces was the publication of the Gleeson report which set out in a clear way the policy framework for the future development of the Defence Forces for a number of years.

This year's Defence Vote makes provision for substantial increases in pay and allowances for members of the Permanent Defence Forces awarded by the Government following consideration of the recommendations of the Gleeson Commission. Since January 1989 the average pay of Defence Forces personnel, including military service allowance but excluding other allowances, has increased by approximately 29 per cent while the average pay of officers has increased by 22 per cent. In all the report of the Gleeson Commission contained 170 recommendations in regard to a wide range of areas from adjustment of allowances to organisation, management and personnel policy generally in the Defence Forces. Most of the recommendations in relation to pay have been implemented. Other recommendations many of which are complex, relate, for example, to organisation, manpower and personnel policy. Certain conditions of service and superannuation are being considered at present. The time scale for their implementation is dependent on a process of consultation especially in co-operation with the elected representatives of the military personnel. We have set up committees and we are in discussion with the representative [719] associations and personnel to bring about these most desirable changes.

One of the major recommendations of the Gleeson Commission was in the area of representation for Permanent Defence Forces personnel, officers and other ranks. I was very glad earlier this year to establish in a formal way organisations representative of the Permanent Defence Forces for officers and other ranks. We have also had some very full and constructive discussion with the members of the reserve forces, the FCA and Slua Muiri. We believe it is possible to put in place a permanent association which will represent members of the Reserve Defence Forces so that we can have worthwhile and constructive dialogue to ensure we provide a better all round service.

In the present climate it is regrettable that we should be obliged to commit substantial scarce resources in the area of aid to the civil power. However, the Government recognise that the maintenance of law and order and the preservation of our democratic institutions are of paramount importance and are vital to the economic advancement of the State. The Government, therefore, will continue to ensure that the Defence Forces are adequately provided for so that they may continue to afford whatever assistance is needed to ensure our citizens can go on with their daily lives in peace and security.

We remain firmly committed to the peacekeeping effort overseas. The Government remain fully committed to supporting United Nations peacekeeping missions. In addition to making significant contributions to the cause of international peace by supplying personnel to missions in the Lebanon, Cyprus, the Middle East, Afghanistan-Pakistan and Central America over the years, early this year we responded to further requests to supply personnel for a new United Nations observer mission in Iraq-Kuwait, in Angola and in Western Sahara. In all we have a total of 840 personnel serving overseas. All of the requests for help impose considerable strains on our resources. Nevertheless, the [720] Government feel that practical support must be given to the United Nations in so far as we can. As Deputies are aware all military personnel involved volunteer to serve overseas and I wish to place on record my own and the Government's continuing appreciation of the vital contribution to world peace made by the Defence Forces.

I had the opportunity to visit the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in the Lebanon earlier this year and I was impressed most of all by the numerous representatives of the communities in the Lebanon who expressed on behalf of the people of the Lebanon their deep appreciation to the Irish people for the magnificent support they are getting in their difficult times. Thousands of people have died there over the past ten or 15 years in an area the size of County Tipperary. They value and appreciate the skill, dedication and, above all, the diplomacy of the Irish personnel serving overseas who have brought credit to this nation. This puts Ireland into the forefront of the nations of the world today who have been contributing in a positive and real way to the maintainance of peace and tranquility in many of the troubled areas across the world.

Questions have been raised about European security. It has been the policy of successive administrations for Ireland to play its part internationally in efforts to promote international peace and promote disarmament and arms control. We have played a full and practical role in the United Nations peacekeeping measures. We have participated in the work of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe which has helped improve East-West relations culminating in the signing of the Paris Charter. In reply to a parliamentary question the Taoiseach indicated to the House on 17 April our position on the matter as reported at column 87 of the Official Report:

If in the fullness of time the European Community brought forward its own defence arrangement, it would naturally be our position that we would [721] favourably consider taking part in such an arrangement. That was my position a long time ago and it has not changed; I believe that would be the position of most parties in this House. If the Community were to develop its own defence arrangement for its own security then we, in Ireland, would certainly consider participating in that. Nothing has changed in that regard.

That sets out clearly our commitment in that regard.

At home we have embarked on an accelerated programme particularly in the search and rescue service. A cause of concern to many Members was the absence of adequate search and rescue facilities, especially on the west coast. Important developments have taken place in the area of search and rescue services. An Air Corps Dauphin helicopter was deployed to Shannon in 1989. A contract for a new search and rescue service has now been put in place in Shannon and the Dauphin helicopter has been deployed to Finner, County Donegal, thus increasing the service in the northwest. It is planned to relocate a second Dauphin helicopter in Cork which will operate with the LE Eithne and provide a very effective search and rescue service. I wish to avail of this opportunity to compliment all those involved in that service. It is a very dangerous and at times hazardous occupation. We are glad to have people in the service who have the skill and ability to provide that service which has been an outstanding success. It has been demonstrated clearly that in all kinds of weather conditions whether day or night an effective service can be put in place. That is a credit to the members who operate that service.

Arrangements have been put in place for fishery protection. I do not have time to go into this in detail but information on our fisheries surveillance service is contained in my script. We now have a fully manned fisheries surveillance service which has proved very successful in the control especially of foreign illegal boats in our territorial areas. This will be more than important especially in view [722] of the fact that Community policies have been revised. We are likely to get additional resources from the realignment of the Common Fisheries Policy. It is vital that we have an effective fisheries surveillance protection service working to ensure that we preserve a vital national interest, our fisheries.

As well as that, we have been constantly revising our information technology and investing a sizeable amount into that area. With a budget this year of about £368 million or £370 million and a payroll of almost 14,500 personnel including some civilian employees, it is essential to have a major reorganisation of the whole information technology service which could lead to modernisation of our service and enable us to have a better hand in the management of the Department's affairs and the service generally. The first phase, which is almost completed, will give better control over our financing, management and service generally. A fairly large investment has been made in that regard.

Following on the policy of advancement of women in the Defence Forces, this year for the first time we have recruited women into the FCA. Two hundred places in the FCA have been set aside for women, and it is hoped to expand that number further during the remainder of this year. As well, of course, we have for the first time ever provided for female apprenticeships in both the Air Corps and the Army apprentice schools. Some cadetships will also be reserved for women this year. We have a progressive and forward policy for the advancement of women in every section of the Defence Forces to provide for increased participation by women in the Defence Forces generally.

The Government can generally boast of a successful record in identifying the vital issues affecting the country and in adopting effective policies to address those issues. By contrast, the Opposition parties have been collectively ineffective even in their commentaries on the major issues. Opposition Deputies have been bereft of ideas and have resorted to inept and feeble attempts at criticism of the [723] Government's handling of matters. In relation to my own Department if the Government were to go ahead and implement demands coming mainly from Opposition spokespeople on Defence then there would be additional expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds. Opposition Deputies had no regard whatsoever to the costing of their demands or to where the extra money would come from. It is fine to adopt such an attitude while in Opposition, but the Government live in the real world, and if demands are to be met then they have to be paid for.

The Taoiseach and other Ministers have outlined the difficult economic circumstances that the Government are confronting head on. Many of these circumstances are outside the control and the influence of the Government. One has only to consider some of the effects of the Gulf crisis earlier this year to realise that not only did that crisis create economic difficulties for us, it also created economic difficulties in the United Kingdom, in the United States and across the whole international business arena. While we had a very bad time for the first quarter of this year, all the indications are that the position has stabilised. The recession that was biting especially hard in the United Kingdom, affecting us here in a very real way, and also in the United States, resulting in a huge fall-off in the number of visitors from the United States, created certain difficulties that were not anticipated earlier this year but we have to contend with them.

One of the most objectionable features of the recent controversies has been the headlong rush to condemn with no regard to the consequences either at the personal level or in relation to the best interests of the country, at home or abroad. Outrageous statements have been made in the past few weeks, and they have been made without any reasonable basis. In my view, the real motivation for those statements seems to be an attempt to undermine the Government — blatant political opportunism has been the order of the day. It has been nauseating to put up with that.

[724] I am glad that in the past few minutes the House has observed the realisation of the younger Fine Gael Deputies that the carry-on in which they have been engaged in the past few weeks is not going down well with the general public who will not tolerate it. Those Deputies are beginning to see that their best way forward would be to adopt the constructive stance taken by Deputy Creed, who spoke just before me. That will be a welcome change. At present the House needs constructive opposition, not destructive comments and personal snide remarks that do not really affect the day-to-day management of the affairs of this country. From the financial point of view, this country has not been in a better state in the past ten or 20 years than it is now.

The basic fabric of the economy is sound. The prospects for the success of the Irish economy in the next few years are very good. What the Government need to do is to tackle effectively some of our basic underlying problems We need the co-operation of all sides of the House to do that. If there is a sign of change in Fine Gael now, it is a welcome sign and one that I hope will continue.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  Ní féidir le páirtí ar bith sa Teach seo a dhearbhú go bhfuil muinín aige sa Rialtas. Tá sé thar a bheith soiléir gur amhlaidh an cás do gach ceann de pháirtithe an Fhreasúra. Tá__an scéal ceannann céanna ag páirtithe an Rialtais féin. Is beag muiníne atá ag cúlbhinseoirí Fhianna Fáil sa Rialtas. Chonacamar agus chualamar uile trácht ar an gcruinniú a bhí ag an bpáirtí sin an tseachtain seo caite. Deallraíonn sé gur cruinniú achrannach a bhí ann, agus gur nochtaíodh go leor leor mí-shásaimh, ní hamháin leis an dTaoiseach ach, lena hais sin, le seasamh an Rialtais, le gníomhaíocht na nAirí, agus leis an easaontas poiblí atá ann idir páirtithe an Rialtais — easaontas atá ag borradh, ag fás agus ag éirí níos nimhní lá i ndiaidh lae. Cloisimid go bhfuil cúlbhinseoirí Fhianna Fáil anois ag smaoineamh ar choinníolacha a chur ar a dtacaíocht don Rialtas sar a dtugann siad a gcuid vótaí amárach. B'fhéidir go [725] bhfuil ceacht á fhoghlaim acu óna n-iargcáirde sa Pháirtí Daonlathach.

Céard faoin bPáirtí Daonlathach? Tá sé rí-shoiléir nach bhfuil muinín ag an bpáirtí sin sa Rialtas, ainneoin go bhfuil beirt Aire dá chuid sa Rialtas, agus Aire Stáit lena cois sin. Dá mba rud é go raibh muinín dá laghad ag Teachtaí agus Seanadóirí an pháirtí sin sa Rialtas conas a mhíneoidís na sraitheanna ráiteas á n-eisiú ag an gcathaoirleach ar deoraíocht atá ag an bpáirtí sin agus na ráitis a thagann amach ón bhFeisire i bPárlaimint na hEorpa acu agus na ráitis a eisítear lá i ndiaidh lae ag na Seanadóirí acu.

Ní féidir a shéanadh go bhfuil baill an pháirtí sin san Oireachtas agus in údaráis áitiúla anseo is ansiúd faoin dtír ag déanamh a seacht ndícheall chun a chur i gcéill nach bhfuil aon bhaint acu, maith nó olc, beag nó mór, leis an Rialtas. Tá siad ag iarraidh a ligean orthu nach bhfuil siad páirteach sa Rialtas, nach bhfuil siad freagrach as a bhfuil á dhéanamh ag an Rialtas. Bíonn siad ag cnáimhseáil faoi a bhfuil ar siúl ag an Rialtas agus nuair nach bhfuil cúrsaí ag dul go ró-réidh sa Rialtas, rud atá an-mhinic na laethanta seo, tá siad a rá nach bhfuil siad páirteach sa Rialtas. Ach nuair a éiríonn le beartas de chuid an Rialtais — agus is rí-annamh a tharlaíonn a leithéid — bíonn an Páirtí Daonlathach an-ghasta chun a thabhairt le tuiscint gurb iad sin a cheap an beartas. Is doiligh liom a rá go léiríonn an páirtí sin, a cuireadh ar bun, dar leo féin, chun ionracas a chothú sa saol poiblí, mímhacántacht polaitiúil atá thar fóir agus atá glan in aghaidh na bprionsabal a cuireadh ar aghaidh ag deireadh 1985 nuair a bunaíodh an páirtí sin.

Taimid uilig braon de bheith ag féachaint ar bhaill an pháirtí sin agus ag éisteacht leo ag clamhsán faoin Rialtas. Dá mhéid clamhsáin a dheineann siad is mó a léiríonn siad nach bhfuil aon éifeacht chruthaitheach acu lena gcuid gníomhaíochta sa Rialtas. Agus cad faoin gClár Rialtais a d'eisigh an dá pháirtí sin i mí Iúil 1989? Ní h-aon ionadh go bhfuil athiniúcadh á dhéanamh acu ar an gClár sin mar tá teipthe air. Tá teipthe air ó thaobh na fostaíochta de. Bhí sé mar sprioc sa chlár sin 35,000 postanna nua a chur ar [726] fáil in aghaidh na bliana. Dá réir sin, bheimis ag ceapadh go mbeadh 70,000 postanna nua curtha ar fáil ó mhí Iúil 1989 i leith. Ach céard atá á mhaíomh ag an dTaoiseach? Dúirt sé inné nach bhfuil ach 40,000 postanna nua curtha ar fáil ó 1987 i leith — sé sin le rá go bhfuil i bhfad níos lú ná trian den sprioc á aimsiú. Sin teip thubaisteach do mhuintir na tíre seo. Tá an Taoiseach, Ceannaire an Pháirtí Daonlathaigh, an tAire Airgeadais, an tAire Saothair agus an tAire Leasa Shóisialaigh lán-chiontach sa teip sin, agus gach ceann acu níos cionntaí ná baill eile an Rialtais. Níl éinne ina a measc go bhféadfaí stiúradh an Rialtais a thabhairt dó ar a iontaoibh dá mba rud é gur éirigh le cúlbhinseoirí Fhianna Fáil a ghlacadh le chéile agus an ruaig a chur ar an dTaoiseach faoi mar atá beartaithe ag cuid mhaith acu.

Tá teipthe ar stráitéisí eacnamúla, airgeadúla agus fioscacha an Rialtais. D'éirigh le Fianna Fáil go réasúnta maith ar feadh dhá bhliain, ó 1987 go 1989, nuair a bhí srian a choinneáil orthu agamsa. Ag éisteacht dom leis an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Leyden, agus leis an Aire Cosanta, bhí fonn gáire orm a chloisint cé chomh cairdiúil atá siad anois le straitéis na Tamhlachta, rud a thug siad droim láimhe dó ag an am go raibh sé i bhfad níos tábhachtaí don Rialtas go nglacfaí leis ná an beartas a rinne siad. Céard atá tite amach ó shin? Tar éis toghcháin 1989 bhíomar ag súil go gcoinneodh an Páirtí Daonlathach an Rialtas ar na ráillí. Is léir anois go raibh agus go bhfuil Fianna Fáil agus an Páirtí Daonlathach sár-oilte sa bhéalghrá. Cé hé nár chuala faoin mhiorúilt eacnamúil i gcaitheamh na mblianta 1989 agus 1990 agus fiú chomh deireannach le tús an tsamhraidh i mbliana? Cad a tharla don mhiorúilt sin? Tá sí imithe le gaoth.

Is é an Taoiseach féin a dúirt inné go mbeadh an Rialtas ag lorg iasachtaí de 2.5 faoin gcéad den ollthairgeadh náisiúnta i mbliana in ionad 1.9 faoin gcéad mar a beartaíodh sa Cháinfháisnéis bhréagach a cuireadh os comhair na Dála seo ag tús na bliana. Tá deireadh leis an mhiorúilt. Go fírinneach, ní raibh miorúilt ar bith riamh ann. Tá teipthe ar na polasaithe [727] seo agus tá an Taoiseach agus an tAire Airgeadais ciontach sa teip seo. Bheadh sé cóir a rá freisin go bhfuil an Cathaoirleach ar deoraíocht atá ag an bPáirtí Daonlathach gach pioc chomh ciontach, nuair nár éirigh leis cnámh droma an pháirtí sin sa Rialtas a dhaingniú. Maíonn an Taoiseach gur laghdaíodh caiteachas an Rialtais le £100 milliún le beartais a cinneadh i rith an tsamhraidh. Ach tá a fhios ag an saol nach bhfuil déanta ach cuid de na fadhbanna a chur ar an méar fhada — réiteach a usáideann an Rialtas seo go han-mhinic.

Cad é go beacht atá curtha ar an méar fhada? Ar thaobh an chaipitil dhe tá sé an-éasca an freagra a aimsiú. Séard atá curtha ar an méar fhada ná beartas ar bith nach bhfuil cabhair airgid ar fáil dó ón gComhphobal Eorpach. Tá trealamh agus seomraí ospidéal curtha ar an méar fhada. Tá trealamh sláinte curtha ar an méar fhada. Daoine breoite agus daoine bochta a bheidh thíos dá bharr sin. Tá scoileanna nua, seomraí scoile agus trealamh oideachas curtha ar an méar fhada. Páistí a bheidh thíos leis sin. Déanfar dochar dóibh anois agus amach anseo nuair a bheidh siad ag lorg postanna. Tá iarracht ar siúl ag an Rialtas anois sleamhnú as a gcuid oibleagáidí faoin gClár um Dul chun Chinn Eacnamúil agus Sóisialta, an Programme for Economic and Social Progress. Clár é seo a thairg an Rialtas do na ceardchumainn agus a bhrú sé anuas ar na páirtithe sóisialta eile. Clár bréagach a bhí ann nuair a síníodh é. Tá sé gach pioc chomh lochtach agus a bhí an clár a chuaigh roimhe. Bhí an bréag seo soiléir nuair a síníodh an clár agus ní haon ionadh go bhfuil sé anois ag titim as a chéile. Tá an Taoiseach, an tAire Saothair agus an tAire Airgeadais, ach go háirithe, ciontach as an gcaimiléaracht atá go cnámh sa chlár seo.

Tá Ceannaire an Pháirtí Daonlathaigh, an tAire Tionscail agus Tráchtála, an Teachta Deasún Ó Máille, chomh ciontach leo siúd. Tá na lochtanna céanna agus lochtanna níos mó b'fhéidir, ar an gclár seo ná mar a bhí ar an gclár a chuaigh roimhe.

[728] Ní raibh focal séimh nó cneasta nó caoin le rá ag an dTeachta O'Malley faoin gcéad chlár a bhí ann i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 1986. Ach, ar ndóigh, ní raibh sé ina bhall den Rialtas ag an am sin. Aisteach go leor, níl focal ráite aige go poiblí faoi chlár an lae inniu. Tá sé ina thost freisin faoin dífhostaíocht. Aisteach a deirim nuair a mheabhraímid a ghlóraí is atá Cathaoirleach an pháirtí sin, nuair a chloisimid an feisire Eorpach atá ag an bpáirtí agus nuair a éistimid leis an Aire Stáit ag an Roinn Chomhshaoil, mar a dheinimid go rí-mhinic.

Cad faoin Eoraip? Mhaigh an Taoiseach inné go bhfuil seasamh an Rialtais ar na hábhair thábhachtacha atá faoi chaibidil anois soiléir, agus go bhfuil an Teach seo ar an eolas faoin a bhfuil ag titim amach agus a bheartú.

Debate adjourned.

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