Private Business. - An Bille um an Triú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968—An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Second Stage (Resumed).
Thursday, 11 July 1968
Seanad Eireann Debate
“ndiúltaíonn Seanad Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968, ar an bhforas nach bhfuil aon éileamh ag an bpobal ar an togra atá sa Bhille agus nach bhfuil aon sásra sa  Bhille chun teorannú dáilcheantar a chinneadh go neamhchlaon.”
“Seanad Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968, on the grounds that there has been no public demand for the proposal contained in the Bill and the Bill contains no machinery to decide impartially the delimitation of constituencies.”
Mr. Yeats: Before the adjournment I had finished reading what Senators will be happy to know is the last quotation I will make. It is from an article by Senator Garret FitzGerald which appeared in the Irish Times on 27th May, 1964. In that article he referred to the wide political differences that had arisen in the previous Coalition Government between Fine Gael and their left-wing partner. He stated that Fine Gael were susceptible to pressures and went on to suggest that, in view of that situation and because overall majorities would be difficult to obtain by Parties in future years, so long as we retain PR, so long as we did not abolish it, as he would prefer, in favour of the alternative vote in single seat constituencies, whichever of the two principal Parties most aligned their policies with those of Labour would stand the best chance of being able to form Governments in years to come.
This is not the kind of political cynicism I would have expected from Senator FitzGerald. The suggestion is that a great Party such as Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil should align their policies with those of a small minority Party such as Labour then was and still is, with a view to attaining office. This type of situation is the greatest single danger inherent in the system of PR. We have the situation under PR in which Parties are tempted to change the policies on which they were originally elected to suit the policies of some minority Party, perhaps a very small one, in order to attain office or to maintain office.
 I think no one will deny that each of the three main Parties are anxious to attain office on their own. We in Fianna Fáil have never been anxious for office except on the basis of carrying out our own policies. We have stated on many occasions that the policies of Fianna Fáil will be carried out so long as we are in office, no matter whether we have a majority or not. That is a clear, coherent standpoint which has always been adopted by us.
Fine Gael recently have been making suggestions that there may be a Coalition between them and Labour in the event of Fianna Fáil not obtaining an overall majority in the next general election and I do not think I am being unfair in suggesting that Fine Gael would look on such a coalition as second best—that they want to be in office as a Fine Gael Government, that they are interested only in a coalition on the basis that nothing else can be got.
The same applies to the Labour Party. We all know the catastrophe that befell Labour in the two Coalition Governments. Here and in the other House, when social welfare matters were being under discussion, we in Fianna Fáil have pointed out, as we were entitled to do, that, although the present Leader of the Labour Party was Minister for Social Welfare in the last Coalition Government, during the whole three years of office he was able to give only a measly, miserable half crown extra to the old age pensioners, and we have heard from the Labour Benches, and it is a reasonable reply, that after all they did not have a majority in that Government. It is quite clear that the Labour Party, who have said that never again will they take part in a Coalition Government, if they should ever go back on that would only be able to take part in a government in a subordinate position. They are also interested, as the Fine Gael Party and we are, in setting up a government of their own.
No matter what comparisons may be made by Senator Dooge and others with conditions in other countries and prophesies about what would happen here under proportional representation or under the straight vote it is quite  clear, as matters stand at the moment, that there is no alternative government to Fianna Fáil except either a minority Fine Gael government depending on Labour or else a Fine Gael-Labour Coalition. That is self-evident. I do not think either Fine Gael or Labour expect within the foreseeable future under proportional representation that they can obtain an overall majority. That, to my mind, is the greatest single danger inherent in the present electoral system.
That is the main reason why we are recommending this change to a straight vote system to the people. We are doing so to clear up this matter once again, to ensure that political stagnation will not exist in Ireland in the future. We have had good governments for 30 years simply because Fianna Fáil have been able to get an overall majority or so near to an overall majority that they have been able to form a government. It is an unhealthy situation that there should have been no alternative government over such a long period. It shows that there is no alternative to the existing government.
The people, by voting “yes”, as I personally believe they will, on the Fourth Amendment Bill, will be able under the straight vote to choose a government. Proportional representation is very good in enabling people to choose individual candidates or individual minority groupings but it is not good in enabling them to choose a government. Under the straight vote they will have a clear-cut issue before them of one government or another. They will be able to decide themselves as to which Party will be the government for the next four to five years. They will be able, in particular, to decide the policies they want carried out.
One of the great dangers with any coalition or minority government depending on other Parties is the people have no way of knowing whether those policies will be carried out. Take, for example, those who voted Labour in the general election which led to a coalition government, expecting Labour policies to be carried out. When this happened the last time and the Labour Ministers came to power they were unable to carry out the  policies they had set before the voters. All they were able to do was to say that they did not have power to do it although they were in government. This is an entirely unsatisfactory situation. By voting “yes” on the Fourth Amendment Bill the people will get power, which they can exercise ruthlessly, to throw out an unpopular government, neck and crop. The straight vote is far more effective as a weapon for people who want to throw out an unpopular government than proportional representation ever could be.
So far from establishing dictatorship we will under the straight vote system be joining what would be called the major democracies in the world and be setting up a system which would be much more democratic from the point of view of either a Fianna Fáil government or of an alternative government, which would be much more democratic than the one we have at the moment. I am in no doubt the way things have been going in recent months that the people will come to see it is in their own interest in the exercise of political power that they should adopt the straight vote system.
Miss Davidson: Preaching to the converted has always seemed to me to be a useless exercise and having followed the debates in the Dáil, I am forced to the conclusion that that is what the Opposition in that House have been doing over recent weeks, simply preaching to the converted. Everyone of us here in the Oireachtas has, I am quite sure, been questioned at some time or other by visitors outside the country about our system of voting and I feel sure that all of us, or at least the great majority of us, have in explaining the workings of the system stressed its value in giving as fair a return as is humanly possible to all sections of the community.
We have, in explaining our enlightened proportional representation system, felt something of pride in that our system gives a very much fairer return to those exercising the franchise than the system of the single nontransferable vote which can leave majorities without representation. By this I mean under the single non-transferable  vote the candidate of No. 1 Party may get 4,000 votes and secure the seat while the candidates of No. 2 and No. 3 Parties may get 3,000 and 2,000 votes respectively, a total of 5,000 votes, but will get no representation at all under the system which it is now proposed to inflict on this country.
Why is this being done? Why this exercise, savouring as it does, of a deathbed conversion? This second attempt to take from us our quite satisfactory system of election, to say the least of it, casts a deep shadow over the image of Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil is to me, and it is to many other people who disagree with many of its policies, a very great Party. To have held office over such a long time in the face of taking unpopular actions as well as introducing unpopular legislation surely marks it as a great Party. Their action in regard to this question of PR has been a disillusionment to many. After such a long reign when there would seem to be a chance of their eclipse, they seek to change the form of election in order to prevent power passing to another group of citizens at the will of the people. This is surely a move, in spite of what Senator Yeats has said, towards dictatorship.
To become a Minister, a person must surely show something above ordinary ability. He must be capable of assessing situations and must, therefore, be fully aware that our people understand and are satisfied with their electoral system. It is not possible for me to accept that the Minister who is responsible for forcing through this measure is unaware of the advantages of PR. I am convinced that he and his colleagues are just as well aware as we in Opposition are of the fairness and value of PR which we have had since the beginning of our State.
So much has been said without avail in the other House in support of the retention of PR by persons of great knowledge and experience that there is practically nothing one can say without repetition of arguments in support of this satisfactory and efficient system of election. I should like, therefore, to avoid repetition and to follow a line I have often followed in this House  and to which my colleague, Senator Murphy, referred earlier today; that is, to refer to the subject of waste. In a country such as ours where so much requires to be done to build a better way of life for our people—particularly for those at the lower end of the social scale—it is nothing short of tragic that so much time and money have been and will be wasted in trying to bring about a supposed change of heart in the Minister and his colleagues. He and they know just as well as we do the advantages of PR.
However, the Government, having decided that the system must go in order that they may be copperfastened in power, have no option but to keep up the pretence and go on with this time- and money-wasting exercise of making a second attempt within ten years to abolish PR.
This being my view of the position, I do not propose to say anything further except to express the hope and the belief that the Irish people will show clearly by their votes in the coming referendum that they appreciate they have one of the best possible electoral systems and that they intend to hold on to it.
Mr. McGlinchey: During the last few years I have often listened to the speeches made in this House by Senator Dooge, and I must say I have always been impressed by his vigour, his enthusiasm and the forthright manner in which he presents his case. He gave me, at any rate, the impression that here was a man who believed in what he was saying. But, last night I was a trifle disappointed. I felt that Senator Dooge was rattling off the Fine Gael Party line and that he was not fully satisfied with it. As I listened to him, I could not help wondering on which side Senator Dooge was at that historic Fine Gael meeting in Leinster House when by a single solitary vote——
Mr. McGlinchey: We waited for the outcome and when the disappointed Deputies came down, some of them stilled by silence, our information is that by a single solitary vote the Fine Gael Party decided to oppose this measure. I wondered was Senator Dooge one of the people who kept the Fine Gael Party until after midnight pleading with them, pleading with his colleagues, that for once in their lives the Fine Gael Party should forget about their self-preservation, and for once in their lives the Fine Gael Party should consider the interests of Ireland. I feel——
Mr. McGlinchey: ——and I suspect that Senator Dooge joined the Leader of his Party, joined Deputy Dillon, joined Deputy O.J. Flanagan, in trying to persuade his colleagues to do the right thing. One can just imagine what went on at that meeting.
Mr. McGlinchey: Senator Dooge said that if people are not satisfied that PR cannot be abolished they can be re-elected. I can imagine some of the Fine Gael people anxious to abolish PR but they are afraid of the political future of Mick or Paddy or Joe and I can hear them asking Mick or Paddy to have a heart and oppose PR. I will spell the word “heart” for the stenographer afterwards. I feel that it is in the interests of this nation that the Fine Gael Party should tell the people of Ireland how many of their members believe in the abolition of PR and I feel that if they do not do that it is our duty to tell the people of Ireland  that at that Fine Gael meeting one single vote dominated the issue.
Mr. McGlinchey: The Labour Party appear to be unanimous in this issue, unanimous in their opposition, but I should like some Member of the Labour Party to explain to this House the system of election used by the trade union movement for the election of their executives. I am a great believer in the trade union movement. I feel that they have a vital rôle to play in our society. I feel that they require men at the top with courage, that they require men capable of solving the many problems that beset them. In order to do this and in order to get this type of individual they must have elections. What system of election do they use? They use the straight vote.
Mr. McGlinchey: As Senator Murphy knows, there are more trade unionists in Ireland supporting the Fianna Fáil Party than the Labour Party. It is strange that some of them are of the opinion that the straight vote system of election is the one used by the trade union movement. Yet the Labour Party are asking the people to reject the very system they themselves have in operation. The Labour Party are asking the people to condemn a system of election their own unions consider very effective.
Mr. McGlinchey: In 1945 the people of Ireland rejected a Fine Gael candidate for the Presidency, but in 1959 Fine Gael resubmitted the name of that candidate to the electorate. Would Senator Rooney agree that Fine Gael did not accept the decision of 1945?
Mr. McGlinchey: In accordance with the Constitution, Fianna Fáil are submitting this question to the public. Would you consider it arrogant if Fine Gael were to ask the people to reconsider electing the defeated candidate for the Presidency two years ago?
Mr. McGlinchey: There are Members here who were defeated in the 1961 election but who did not consider it arrogant to ask their electorate to reconsider the matter in 1965. We have a third wing in this House, the intellectual wing. Many of them would say that the main purpose of the Houses of the Oireachtas is to study and consider legislation. It is well known that many of these people think that politicians should not have to act for the people in the way they are doing. However, many of us believe that the most effective method of representation is to meet and listen to the ordinary people of Ireland. Many Deputies and Senators every week have to write letters and act as advisers in many spheres. I believe that this is important work and it is only through this method that experience can be got to speak on legislation.
I believe the people of Ireland want this system. If they are sitting in a country cottage around the fire smoking their pipes at a meeting of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour, they know that if the suggestions they make are worthwhile, they will be brought much further. But under the present system it is very difficult in counties like mine for Deputies to give that type of representation. In the constituency of North-East Donegal, where I live, a Deputy can travel almost 100 miles within his constituency. It is natural, therefore, that if the constituencies became single-seaters, it would be much easier for the Deputy to get to his people and for his people to get to him. I have heard a lot about the comparison between Dublin and the rest of Ireland. Most  Dublin people, as far as I can see, appear to meet their Deputies here in Leinster House or at a chosen venue on a chosen day; but in rural Ireland, and in my county in particular, the Deputy must travel to meet the people. This is a very strong argument in favour of the single-seat constituency.
We have been scoffed at for the suggestion that there can be competition between Deputies of the one Party. I would ask the House to consider for a moment the situation, say, in the constituency of County Dublin.
Mr. McGlinchey: It is possible he was the most effective Fine Gael Deputy in the constituency. It is possible he was the most hardworking Fine Gael Deputy in the constituency, so hardworking, in fact, that his political colleagues believed his election to Dáil Éireann was secure. For that reason they voted for somebody else. Therefore, Senator Rooney, despite his hard work, was rejected by the people. Would Senator Rooney tell us that during his period as a Deputy was he watching the Minister for Local Government and his “gracious colleague” or was he watching his own colleague? It is natural that the main competition in political life here is not between Deputies of different Parties but between Deputies of the same Party. If Senator Rooney was not watching his own colleague, I suggest that if he is re-elected to Dáil Éireann, he will watch him more closely in future.
Mr. McGlinchey: There is only one way to prevent these charges, that is, accept the decision of 49 per cent of the Fine Gael Party, accept the decision of the Fianna Fáil Party and accept the referendum.
Senator Rooney refers to gerrymandering and last night Senator Dooge told us that Ballinlough, Blackrock, and Douglas in Cork were put into the constituency of Mid-Cork to prevent Deputy Barrett from heading the poll.
Mr. McGlinchey: Listening to Senator Dooge and to Senator Rooney's interruptions, one would think it was the Fianna Fáil Party who entered the High Court in 1960-61. Listening to these charges of gerrymandering, one would think that Fianna Fáil were responsible for the changes in the constituencies. Should Fianna Fáil lose the referendum, further constituency changes will be necessary. We shall find an unusual situation in County Donegal with the towns of Bundoran, Ballyshannon and Donegal put into a constituency with Sligo-Leitrim. The town that carries the name of Donegal, the Four Masters' town, may be represented by a Deputy from Leitrim or from Sligo.
We could find that a member of  Leitrim County Council would be the representative of Donegal town in Dáil Éireann. Possibly in a year or two Senator Dooge, or some other Fine Gael Senator, will say here that this part of Donegal was put into Sligo and Leitrim to prevent Deputy P. O'Donnell from being elected to Dáil Éireann, but if this situation should arise, we want to tell the people of Bundoran, Ballyshannon and Donegal town now that they are in a position to help to prevent it. The only way to prevent this amalgamation is to change the PR system of election.
Last night Senator Dooge said that these changes in county boundaries made no difference, that they were accepted in other spheres, that the regional tourist organisations were the proof of this. When the regional tourist organisations were announced, Donegal County Council unanimously refused to enter into an organisation with County Sligo and Leitrim. Six months elapsed before they agreed to enter. Four months ago Donegal County Council unanimously agreed to inform the Minister for Transport and Power that they were severing their connections with Counties Sligo and Leitrim.
Mr. McGlinchey: Just about, and no more. Eleven members of the Fine Gael Party in Donegal County Council agreed four months ago to sever their connection with Sligo and Leitrim and, in fact, they wanted Donegal to be on its own.
Mr. McGlinchey: Yet these same 11 people will ask the people of Donegal to vote in a few months time to form a constituency with Sligo and Leitrim. I ask the House and the people of Donegal to consider the consistency of this action. If 11 members of Donegal County Council, including two Fine Gael Deputies, do not want to be associated with Sligo and Leitrim in a tourist organisation, how can they satisfy the people that it is right to be  associated with these counties on a political basis?
Mr. McGlinchey: I liked reading a comic with my lunch when I was a child. It was most entertaining. Today when having lunch in my hotel, I had no comic but I read something much more entertaining, the speech made on these Bills by the Fine Gael Deputy for North-East Donegal. He spoke about Taca, about the 100,000 jobs and about rate collectors but strangely enough, he said very little about the merits or demerits of PR.
Mr. McGlinchey: I am not criticising them. Far be it from me to do so. I realise that, making that speech on PR, the Deputy concerned finds himself in a very difficult position, because if PR is abolished, he will be running for the Seanad, and if Donegal becomes a five-seater, he will be running for the Seanad.
Mr. McGlinchey: I will be taking bets when the time comes. But even if the situation remains as it is, I fear he  over every one of the desirable pieces is in trouble, too. Many Members of this House will have heard of Creeslough, and Kilmacrennan made news on a number of occasions. Bridie Gallagher made news in Creeslough; we had “Cutting the Corn”. If this referendum is defeated, Creeslough will be in the news again, because it will send to Dáil Éireann a new Fine Gael Deputy and our friend below will be running for the Seanad again.
Mr. McGlinchey: In the coming months, the people of Ireland will consider, and consider carefully, the request that the Government are making to them. I believe they will act wisely and well. We are only asking the Irish people to accept the method of election advocated by the Leader of Fine Gael and, remember, that when Deputy Cosgrave became the Leader of Fine Gael, the people of Ireland knew his views on PR, the Fine Gael Party knew his views on PR, and yet they accepted him as their Leader. I believe that Deputy Cosgrave, when he accepted the leadership of Fine Gael, felt he would have been able to swing the Fine Gael Party on his side. He did not count on the back room boys who were more interested in self-preservation. He did not count on the Paddys and the Micks and the Joes who felt there would be no seats for them in Dáil Éireann. We are asking the people of Ireland to give us a system of election accepted by Deputy Cosgrave, accepted by Deputy Oliver Flanagan, accepted by Deputy Costello——
Mr. McGlinchey: ——and accepted by the executives of the trade union movement. We are asking the Irish people to consider carefully the  political implications involved and to give us a system of election which in the years to come will give a strong, effective Government.
Mr. McDonald: This is one of the most fruitless exercises this House has undertaken in many a long day, because the speeches have been made before in 1959, and anything that was not said then has been said while the debate was progressing in the Dáil.
Mr. McDonald: There is one thing, however, I have not as yet discovered, that is, what prompted the Minister and the Government at this stage, in spite of the considerable majority of the Fianna Fáil Party, to move these amendments to the Constitution. None of the speakers so far has given us any indication, good, bad or indifferent. Speaker after speaker of the Fianna Fáil Party that I have read or seen quoted has evaded this issue. The only reason why the Government want threequarters of the Dáil Members to be from Fianna Fáil is so that the Minister for External Affairs can, perhaps, stay in New York for good and will not be bothered coming home for divisions, happy in the knowledge——
Mr. McDonald: That is the only reason I can find. I cannot recall any section of the community in any part of the country advocating that we should have a change in the electoral system. But I recall over the past five or six years individuals and groups and councils in every one of the 26 counties and in every one of the 27 county councils advocating that other more urgent legislation be brought in, but these proposed Amendments to the Constitution are deemed to be so important that they must take precedence  of legislation that many of us would like to see enacted, legislation that would help the people in many spheres in which reform is so urgently needed. I agree the Government cannot tackle all these problems at the one time, but why at this stage should a change in the electoral system seem to solve all our problems?
I should like to ask Senators on the far side—and I am sure they will be kind enough to give us an answer either tonight or during the course of this debate—are they seeking a strong Government, or do they not consider the Government they have is strong enough? I feel that the present Government is a sufficiently strong Government, but they have struck fear into the hearts of the rural community because of the iron-fist tactics of the two Bs of Fianna Fáil.
I cannot see how an electoral system which is calculated to increase vastly the number of seats the Fianna Fáil Party now hold in Dáil Éireann will improve the quality of either the individuals concerned or the policies put forward by this Government. I should like the Minister for Local Government at some stage to underline what was the need for the urgency attached to this legislation. This is something the voters and the ordinary people want to know.
Many things have been promised for quite a while in the line of proposed legislation. I recall the former Minister for Justice on a television programme some months ago promising many reforms in the legal code at the earliest possible opportunity. What he promised then would be of tremendous assistance and help to the ordinary Irish citizen. Yet we find that all these things are postponed or deferred indefinitely to allow the Fianna Fáil Party to endeavour to get an overall majority in Dáil Éireann. Somehow or other I am of the opinion —and recent events would perhaps bear out my theory—that the Government have—I will not say to their surprise — found out that the Irish people have now apparently reached the stage when they can accept a change, and they will refute in no  uncertain way the latest proposals the Government are putting before them.
The Government will get decisive answer from the Irish people against this proposal. For the benefit of Senators opposite, I will not quote any figures, but I can assure them that one of my colleagues will have sufficient figures to prove this theory, and he will be able to put them across in a very elementary way so that the least of us will be able to understand and grasp his meaning and benefit from it.
Mr. McDonald: That was just a thought. I have been searching my mind for a reason why this came about, and I could not find one. I can well imagine that there are important personages who would crib at having to make these arduous trips back and forth in order to vote, if a pair were not available. I am sure there are such people who carry quite an amount of weight, even in Fianna Fáil circles. I came up with that idea, because over the past few months I did not hear in any part of the country anyone advocating that we should have this change.
Mr. McDonald: I think the Leader of the House will agree that there has been a serious change so far as Fianna Fáil are concerned down the country, and that is where I come from. That is where I hear unfavourable rumblings against Fianna Fáil.
Mr. McDonald: In his opening speech, the Minister spoke of a better type TD and a better type candidate under the proposed new system. I cannot see how this would follow, because there is a train of thought that even here in the Seanad perhaps some of the instant Senators leave something to be desired. I do not necessarily share that view or have any views on it, but it is wrong for anyone to advocate that because of a change in the system, we will have a change in the personnel or a different type of person, or that we will resurrect a different type of Irishman or woman who is prepared to serve his or her country. That is an unnecessary argument and perhaps not quite a valid one.
As I have said, I do not propose to speak at any length because quite an amount has been said and written on this subject, not only in 1959 but over the past few months. I feel that already the public and the voters have made up their minds that they will vote against these proposals because they see them as a means whereby the Government are shirking their responsibility to introduce new legislation designed to help every section of the community. I look forward to the debate on the Finance Bill when I will indicate some areas in our society where the public have not been getting a fair crack of the whip.
In conclusion, I would ask the Minister to give the House and the people some indication of the Government's reasons for the great hurry in introducing this legislation, and the great need at this or any other time for bringing in an amendment to the Constitution  when, in fact, no campaign or no effort has been started or mentioned in any quarter of the State other than in a section of the Fianna Fáil Party——
Mr. McDonald: ——to have these amendments introduced. Senator McGlinchey spoke of divisions not only among the Fine Gael Party but the Labour Party and the Trade Union Congress. He forgot to mention the many times this question came up within his own Oireachtas Party. If he believes what the correspondents say happened at our Party meetings or elsewhere, surely we have the right to believe what we read and hear about a majority of the Fianna Fáil Oireachtas Party being opposed to this legislation, and who know that if this legislation goes through, they will lose their seats. There are not enough seats in the Seanad for them all. Many of them must be on the verge of suffering heart attacks at the way the straight vote let them down during the recent BGA elections.
Mrs. Connolly O'Brien: I have been grumbling and growling to myself for a long time at the manner in which the debate on so very important a subject, in my opinion, has been conducted. There has been a great lack of considered and reasoned statements comparing one system with the other as systems, and not as weapons of one political Party or another. No reasoned statement has been put forward comparing the advantage to the people of Ireland of retaining PR or rejecting it and accepting single-seat constituencies. What will be the advantage to the country if we change our present system? None of that was done. Instead of being treated as the very important national question which it is, it has been transformed into a Party political debate.
Until tonight, I had an awful lot more to say on that subject and an  awful lot of fault to find with various people but, tonight, Senator Yeats spiked one of my guns. He put forward a very reasonable and commonsense comparison between the two electoral systems. He did so in a manner in which it could be understood by anybody who is at all interested in the question of electing a Government. Although Senator Yeats spiked one of my guns, I still remain one of those cranks and idiots who believe that proportional representation is the best form of democratic representation.
Mrs. Connolly O'Brien: The single-seat constituency system could work to the advantage of one political Party but we should not allow any comment or discussion on that point. We should insist on concentrating—I hope this House will make it the main issue—on why one electoral system is better than another.
I am not one of the younger Members of the House: I am one of the old political people. I remember, as a young woman, being absolutely converted to the idea of proportional representation as the best and surest method of securing democratic representation for the people of a country. There are so many different points that one could make. I have heard the comments of most speakers in favour of the abolition of proportional representation, whether they were made in the Dáil, in the newspapers, on the radio or on the television. Not one single reason was advanced by them in favour of its abolition that the political history of our country, in the past 40 years, does not challenge and prove wrong. That is why I want the question to be treated on a national basis and not as a matter of Party loyalty. I want the two electoral systems to be compared and discussed. I want the position made clear so that the people will be able to vote at the referendum as their commonsense dictates and not as their sense of Party loyalty would call upon them to vote.
Some very remarkable misstatements were made in the Dáil in favour of the abolition of proportional representation. One of the most remarkable  to me was the misstatement by the Taoiseach that proportional representation is out-of-date. Anybody who has studied the question of proportional representation knows that it was born out of the growing awareness of a vast number of people that the single-seat constituency no longer served the purpose of democracy, that inequalities were caused and that often majorities were returned which were composed of a large number of minor representatives.
It was found that the system of the single representative for a constituency no longer served the purpose and was out of date due to changing circumstances. As a result, study and research was carried out to devise another system to take its place. After a number of years, the system of proportional representation was accepted as the only system that could take its place. There were trial elections and there was a good deal of propaganda. I remember going to propaganda meetings in Dublin at which people from various parts of the Continent explained the workings of proportional representation. Out of all that came the idea that proportional representation was the only system to take the place of the out-of-date one-man, one-constituency system. I was surprised that the Taoiseach did not remember that. I was very much surprised that he should ask us to change to a system of election which was declared out of date a generation or so before us and from a system on which years of study and research were spent in order to take its place.
Other reasons were given as to why we should have a change. We were told that proportional representation is a difficult system, difficult to understand and difficult to operate. We have been using proportional representation for 40 years. It was thrown at us— overnight as it were—and we made it work. The only thing that ever made me waver in my belief in proportional representation—being a crank and an idiot who believed in it—was that it was imposed on us by Britain. At the time, I was full of suspicion of every deed Britain did to Ireland. I thought the British had some ulterior motive in  testing proportional representation on us when they would not dream of using it themselves. We spoiled their game. I really think they believed that if we adopted proportional representation we would make such a muddle of our situation—of our Government and of our country—that Unionists and those who favoured reunion with Britain would get into control and we would go back sorrowful delinquents to Mother Britain. I believe that was her idea. I also believe that the trouble in the emergent nations which broke away from the British Empire, in Asia and Africa, is due to the fact that Britain insisted they have a system common to their own, the single-seat constituency, and they do not make a success of their freedom and their liberty as the Irish people were able to make under PR.
It was not so difficult as time has proved for us to use PR. Everybody who seeks to abolish the system says that it is too difficult. We even had Senator Yeats speaking about how difficult it was. I cannot understand how an intelligent person can say that everybody must understand the mechanics of everything that works. If there is only one person driving a car, it does not mean that four other people cannot be in it and that four out of the five do not understand how it works. They trust the one who drives just as the present day voter in Ireland trusts the men who have been trained over the years and are experts in counting and apportioning the surplus votes.
There were many other things which I had intended mentioning but they were referred to by other speakers and I do not want to repeat them. I just wonder if these references about the system being so difficult to understand, made by those who seek to abolish PR, are made because they have no faith in the new voters who are coming along, the people who are now 21 years of age and who will be voting in the referendum. Do they think that the new young voters are less intellectual than their grandfathers, their grandmothers, their uncles and aunts, their fathers and mothers, and would know less about marking ballot papers than the old people did?
 Lots of people forget that this marking of ballot papers in the sequence 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 is an advance on the old X system. It is not really necessary for me to tell Parliamentarians that the first electors did not mark votes because they were too illiterate. Their names on the voters' list was called and they stated aloud the candidate for whom they were voting. This meant that all the pressures of the landlords and bosses were against them and the fear of eviction and the loss of jobs most often caused them to call out the name of a candidate they did not want. Then we got the secret ballot and it was found that there was such a lot of illiteracy in the country and that the people have been accustomed to signing any important document such as the marriage register, birth certificates, leases and agreements of one sort or another, with “X, his mark” that voters were allowed to put their mark on the ballot paper—X—opposite the one they wanted to vote for.
As I say, it was a sign of the illiteracy of the people and it is horrible that we should go back to a system which declares to the world that we are still of the illiterate class and must still sign “X, our mark” opposite the candidate we want. I think that more should adopt the method adopted by Senator Yeats and in plain commonsense language compare the proportional representation system with the single-seat system. Do not bother going into mathematics to the extent that some have done. That is all very good as far as statistics and research work for later on are concerned but it is no good for public propaganda. If they would make this comparison in simple words that would appeal to the commonsense and reason of the ordinary man and woman, they could then decide the question of what they think is best for the people and for the country and not allow the question to be decided on what political Party will gain advantage from the change or which political Party will it help to destroy. The question we are deciding is not a Party political question but a national political question and one which concerns everybody, no matter to what Party he belongs.
Mr. Rooney: I should like to describe the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill as the “Gerrymandering Bill” because this is the Bill in which the principle of one man, one vote, can be transgressed by skilful manoeuvring of the populations in various constituencies. The Minister adverted to the British system of voting but if we look nearer home, at the North of Ireland system of voting, we should remember that in the North of Ireland over 20 constituencies are never contested. It is Hobson's choice for the electorate in these constituencies. There is no point in putting up any other candidate.
If the system of proportional representation operated in the North of Ireland, there would be a point in putting up other candidates. You could put up a Nationalist candidate, a Labour candidate and a Unionist candidate in a particular constituency and, depending on how many seats there were in the constituency, the people would get proportional representation. If the Nationalist candidate secured a sufficient number of votes, he would get representation. At the present time, however, the Nationalist cannot win a seat and has no hope of winning a seat. Neither has the official Labour Party. The seat is not contested and the Unionist candidate who is nominated approximately ten days before the election date is automatically declared elected when the clock strikes 12. That is the situation in Northern Ireland. Over 20 Members of Parliament are elected repeatedly in that way because the other political Parties know there is no point in contesting the election.
The Fianna Fáil Party have, apparently been impressed, by this exercise in Northern Ireland and they are wondering now if, by adopting this system, they might possibly get themselves into a position in certain constituencies in which there would be no point in having a contest. It has been said that this referendum will cost £100,000 of the taxpayers' money, apart altogether from what it will cost the various political Parties, plus the cost of the election workers and the 38 or 40 returning officers who will be  required. If Fianna Fáil are so anxious to have £100,000 spent on changing the system of voting, would they not be prepared to put up this money themselves since it is for their benefit they are hoping to change the system? Instead of doing that, they will use £100,000 of the taxpayers' money to get the present system changed to one they think will suit them better.
It is obvious the Fianna Fáil Party have decided to adopt this system because their fortunes are falling. The percentage of the vote they obtain has been falling from one election to another. In the March election of 1965, Fianna Fáil got 49 per cent of the votes and 50 per cent of the seats, 72 out of 144. Their good organisation explains why, having got less than 50 per cent of the votes, they still secured 50 per cent of the seats. But their percentage poll now is dropping. It has dropped to approximately 40 per cent and it seems to be still falling. This is what has alarmed the Fianna Fáil Party and it is because they are alarmed that they are trying to change the system as quickly as possible. They are leaving much more important work aside while all this argument goes on about this proposal to change the voting system and alter the constituencies.
The Minister indicated that, in the event of this proposal being accepted by the people, it is proposed to divide the country into approximately 144 constituencies. I should say, in passing, that that will mean 144 returning officers to be paid instead of the 38 at present, because at the moment we have 38 constituencies. In dividing up the constituencies, the Minister will make sure to divide them in a manner which will be of advantage to Fianna Fáil. He would be a fool if he did not do that. The Minister will not disregard the ambitions of his Party when he divides the constituencies. He is allowing for a tolerance of between 30 and 40 per cent. That means that he can divide a Fine Gael area in which there are 70,000 electors into three one-seat constituencies with approximately 23,500 voters in each. Adjacent to that, in a Fianna Fáil  stronghold in which there are 70,000 electors, he can divide the area into four one-seat constituencies with less than 17,000 voters in each constituency. In actual figures that is what tolerance could mean. You could have two groups of 70,000 electors, one group having three Fine Gael representatives and the other having four Fianna Fáil representatives.
Mr. Rooney: If that is so, then I stand corrected, but I understood it was as a result of Fine Gael pressure, pressure designed to bring some measure of fair play into these proposals. However, I have demonstrated clearly what could happen; one group of 70,000 voters could elect three representatives and another group of 70,000 could elect four representatives. That cannot be contradicted. That could be the situation under the tolerance arrangement which allows for a minimum of something like 16,500 and a maximum of approximately 23,500. Obviously Fianna Fáil will have a part in making sure that Fianna Fáil areas will get the maximum representation with a low electorate as compared with predominantly Fine Gael areas with a greater number of electors. In Clare, for example, though they might not get a majority of the votes, they would get a relative majority—a very respectable description indeed—which is, of course, quite different from a majority. In other words, you would have no Fine Gael  or Labour representative from Clare, as we have at the present time. There are other constituencies like that. Possibly in Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fáil would get no representation; there would be four Fine Gael Deputies.
Mr. Rooney: There would be four Fine Gael Deputies from Dún Laoghaire and possibly four Fianna Fáil Deputies from Clare. What about the people who support Fianna Fáil and Labour in Dún Laoghaire and the people who support Fine Gael and Labour in Clare? That is where proportional representation really comes in. It gives fair representation to different political Parties and different policies.
The Minister referred to the revision period of 12 years. Unfortunately Fianna Fáil have been fiddling with this legislation, if one may put it that way, in the past because they could have revised the constituencies in, I think, 1961 when the census figures were available. They pretended they were not available. They were with the printers and, since they were with the printers, they must have been available. The delay meant, of course, that constituencies went out of gear because regard was not had to the most recent census figures. It was suggested that in future the figures should be examined every five years while the revision must take place within a period of 12 years, but, in fairness, the revision should take place immediately after a census instead of before the next one so as to get a fair picture of the population in any area.
There is no public demand for the legislation we are now discussing. We have not the people parading up and down outside or in the towns or, indeed, at county councils, or at various gatherings, clamouring for a change in the system of voting. The people have become accustomed to using the PR system. They have obtained the representation they looked for. The voters for Fine Gael have their representatives; the voters for Labour and the  voters for Fianna Fáil have their representatives. In recent times—I am sure this is what prompted the Fianna Fáil Party to propose this change— four Deputies were elected by the Sinn Féin organisation. Prior to that, there was a group of 15 or 16 farmers elected to the Dáil. At various times groups have been elected to the Dáil under the PR system.
That proves that the PR system is fair. It proves that if a sufficient number of people support a particular policy or a particular organisation, they can secure representation in Parliament. Fianna Fáil do not like this and are now bringing in a system by which they hope to cut down the political organisations to two. Fianna Fáil are trying to knock out the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party and to have one Opposition Party, one Party opposed to the Fianna Fáil Party. The people have elected representatives of the Labour Party and representatives of Fine Gael and they have the power to take out either Fine Gael or Labour any time they wish under the present system. It would not be easy for them to take Fianna Fáil out of Parliament if they decided to do it because Fianna Fáil would be fools if they did not copperfasten the position immediately if they secured the straight vote system. The Unionists in the North of Ireland have succeeded in doing that and the Fianna Fáil Party apparently have been impressed by that. Most Irish people are fair-minded and democratic and believe in fair play and fair representation. That is why I have no doubt that they will not accept this proposal.
The Minister in his speech relating to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill talked about county boundaries and about the one man one vote arrangement and tried to pretend that it was not one man, one vote that the people of Donegal had if they had to come up here to hospital or to school in Dublin, that they had not a fair measure of representation. What will the position be in another ten or 15 years if the flight from the land continues? Last year, 14,000 people left  the rural areas. What will happen during the coming years? Will we not have a situation where it will be necessary to revise constituencies every 12 years and will have to make up our minds to depart from county boundaries where that is necessary?
The Minister has mentioned that as a result of the High Court decision, it was necessary to slice a number of county boundaries in order to even up the population in relation to the law. He deplored this situation. He must admit that, if people continue to drift from the rural areas into the cities and towns, as far as county boundaries and the general territory of counties are concerned, he must follow the population and will have to change the boundaries.
For instance, take Great Britain or even this country. The Minister is proposing under this new system to establish 144 constituencies but there are only 26 counties in this Republic. The Minister is very inconsistent when he complains that he cannot adhere to county boundaries under the present system when he proposes now to establish 144 constituencies, which will turn the country into a chessboard as far as constituencies are concerned.
In England, there are approximately 650 constituencies. There again the country is divided like a draught-board and nobody is complaining. There is a name for the constituency. Those interested will be able to identify it according to whatever the local description is. The description of the constituency would probably be related to the major town in the area or to the name of the district. So that there is no very strong argument in favour of adherence to county boundaries. The Minister feels that it is traditional and should be retained but that is not possible when we come to a situation where we must ensure that it is a system of one man, one vote and not a system where a man in the country has a vote equal to two votes in the city, as at the present time. There are constituencies such as the Minister's constituency which I had the privilege of representing for a very long time where there  are approximately 80,000 voters now for the five Deputies as compared with a very much smaller number of electors in other five-seat constituencies. The population of that constituency is growing very rapidly owing to the drift from the rural areas and the expansion of Dublin city.
There is a requirement in law that constituencies must be revised within a period of not more than 12 years. That is why the Minister will have to face the fact that he will not be obliged to adhere to county boundaries. He will have to follow electoral areas. He may have to use the name of the principal town in the area as the name of the constituency in future but he can make up his mind that the population of rural Ireland will not remain static. Similarly, the population of Dublin, Cork and, possibly, Limerick and Galway will not remain static and an increased number of Deputies would be required for those areas. If the number of Deputies is to remain at 144 it means that if the population falls in a rural area that area must lose a representative and the seat handed over to an area where the population has increased, such as Dublin city.
It is strange that the Minister, who spoke about county boundaries, found it necessary to bring Ballyfermot into his constituency, an area where he has his shop, his business and where he resides, considering that it is portion of Dublin city to which large numbers of city dwellers were moved into the new corporation estate. A chunk of that portion of Dublin city was taken out and put into the county area. I have no doubt that the Minister had a personal interest in that change. Whether he had or not, when he was putting on the act that he does not want to break county boundaries when reorganising or maintaining constituencies, he should have remembered that he was involved in the change of that area, taking a chunk out of Dublin city and putting it into the county. He will, of course, argue that it was to make it a five-seat area, but it could have been a four-seat constituency. There was no point in bringing in Ballyfermot.
Mr. Rooney: The point about it is that Deputy Boland's interests were looked after at that time. I should have been quite happy to have had a four-seat constituency there, leaving Ballyfermot in the city. The five-seat constituency should have gone to Dún Laoghaire. If it had, Fine Gael would have got three seats but that would not have suited Fianna Fáil. They wanted a four-seat constituency there, giving Fianna Fáil two and Fine Gael two, and they brought Ballyfermot out into the county to make the Minister safe, creating a five-seat constituency where there should have been only four.
Mr. Rooney: I will be back; do not worry. This system, of course, will penalise the citizens as I have said already, but the city of Dublin has not been the friend of the Fianna Fáil Party that they thought it would be. First of all, in 1959 when they tried to change the voting system, Dublin city had the final say and rejected it. In 1966, the President was hammered in Dublin city and county by a huge number of votes. As well, in the recent local elections Fianna Fáil were defeated.
Mr. Rooney: Fifteen out of 45, that was a big first. That is the point. Fianna Fáil were beaten both in the city and county. The Minister does not care about Dublin city or, indeed, about Cork city in the matter of one man one vote. I gather from what Senator McGlinchey had to say that it is intended to keep Fianna Fáil intact at all costs. I have no doubt that Deputy Blaney has made that stipulation already and that not alone Deputy Boland but all the other Government Ministers must toe the line when Deputy Blaney speaks, but why the special terms for Donegal? Is it not obvious it is because Deputy Blaney is from that constituency?
Senator Dooge last night pointed out that county boundaries should not be regarded as sacrosanct in this respect— that the people who have the job of organising constituencies should be able to organise appropriate boundaries under the PR system. Senator McGlinchey spoke about the smaller population and that instead of six seats there will be only five seats in Donegal. Whether the number of seats is kept as it is or is reduced as required by the population census, it is not necessary to follow county boundaries. As the Minister said, there has been a  tradition of keeping constituencies and naming them according to the counties, and somebody suggested that it is the Gaelic Athletic Association that has put the name of a county so high up in the minds of the people residing in that county.
No matter where people reside, we are all Irish and when it comes down to the parish there are areas in which parishes are astride counties. When the Minister was making his plausible case in favour of the tolerence arrangement, he said it would do no more than equate the rural with urban votes. He pointed out that a certain number of people would be outside a constituency, even on a temporary basis, on the day when the census would be taken. However, when one takes averages one can always find that type of population movement. The Minister also mentioned that the large constituency was different for the electors. My reply is that with telephones and easy transport nowadays, and the fact that people are now well educated and literate, electors will be able to telephone or write intelligent letters to their Deputies. It is quite easy for them to get something if they request an interview with the TD for the area. In addition, with easier transport the Deputies themselves are making sure they will be available to their constituencies and can recognise those in the different areas so the case that a large constituency cannot be well served by Deputies is a weak one. Again, many people in the various constituencies are frequently in contact with the county councillors of each Party. Those councillors in turn are in touch with the TDs so that the people in general have a good service under this system.
Under the proposed change you will have a situation where a very prominent Fine Gael person in a constituency might not have a Fine Gael Deputy to go to for the purpose of making representation, initiating legislation or any of the other activities associated with parliamentary work. That prominent Fine Gael person would be obliged to consult a Fine Gael Deputy in  another constituency in order to ask him to initiate legislation in the House regarding a matter or to raise questions in the Dáil. You may be quite sure that you would not have a Fine Gael person or a Labour person walking up to a Fianna Fáil Deputy asking him to put down a question to embarrass the Government or to initiate legislation which might be opposed to the policy of the Government. In other words, Fine Gael and Labour voters in an area where there would be only a Fianna Fáil Deputy would not have that representation which they enjoy at present.
At the present time the supporters of the various political Parties have their representatives in the county councils, the Dáil and the Seanad. They are able to make representations to those people and to have various questions raised or amendments to the law tabled on different legislation introduced. The single-seat constituency will put and end to all that. It will leave people without representation except by a particular Deputy. It could be a Labour Deputy, it could be a Fine Gael Deputy or it could be a Fianna Fáil Deputy who would have, first of all to represent the whole constituency but, politically, he would represent only one political Party.
The Minister, when he was making the case in favour of this tolerance, which could reach above 30 and might even go up to 40 or 50 per cent according to the change in the population over a period; but 30 or 33? per cent would be a minimum in some cases although it could be more than that—said that in England there are places where it is 60 per cent below the national average and in some cases 80 per cent above in relation to the population for the various constituencies. Again, I have no doubt they have a system in Great Britain for reorganising the representation in Parliament in relation to the population.
The Minister mentioned that it will be necessary to alter 24 of the 38 constituencies if those proposals are defeated but he must face facts and he must realise, with the movement of population and with the emigration which has taken place from some of  the counties, this situation is bound to arise and that is what the law is there for. The law says that the population of constituencies must be examined within 12 years and alterations must be made or must be arranged within that time having regard to population. There is no point in questioning that it would be necessary to alter 24 of the 38 constituencies. The obligation is there. There is an obligation to change the population in order to ensure fair representation for all the people of the Republic.
Now, I want to come to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, 1968. Let us examine what all this is about. First of all, the proposal here is to change over to the straight vote system. I was very impressed by Senator Mrs. Connolly O'Brien when she described the system of putting an X opposite a name as the illiterate system of voting. We often read about the system in America of the write-in vote. It is not illiterate to write in a vote. The proposal here is to change over to a system of placing a mark or an X opposite one name on the ballot paper. The Minister has said it will make it very simple. While it will make it very simple, it will leave a large number of people without a representative.
Take a single seat constituency, where there are four candidates, a Fine Gael candidate, a Labour candidate, a Fianna Fáil candidate, a Farmers candidate or a Sinn Féin candidate. Obviously, if there are going to be four candidates and one of the Parties gets 26 per cent of the votes that is the Party that will get elected if others get less. In other words, by getting barely more than a quarter of the votes the Fianna Fáil Party would get the seat, or whatever candidate got over 25 per cent of the votes. Similarly, if there were five or six candidates it would need even a smaller percentage of the electorate in order to secure a seat, but the vast majority of the people who did not vote for that candidate would be left without any representative for the Party they supported or the policy they supported.
 This proposal appears to be a peevish decision on the part of the Fianna Fáil Party when they have discovered they are losing heavily to the trade unionists in Dublin city and Cork. They seem to be losing three votes to Labour for every one vote Fine Gael loses. Those votes appear to be what they call trade unionist votes, those who have voted for their Labour candidates. Fianna Fáil have decided to put a stop to this. They are going to prevent the trade unionists from coming away from Fianna Fáil and voting for Labour by bringing this system in as quickly as they can, if they are permitted by the people, in order to obliterate the Labour Party. They want to leave the Labour Party with less representation than they have in Parliament at present but in Parliament at the present time they have proportional representation. They have representation in proportion to the number of votes they have secured.
The same applies to Fine Gael and to Fianna Fáil. As I pointed out already, Fianna Fáil got 49 per cent of the votes in the last General Election and, in addition, they secured a number of by-election seats. We were very interested, of course, and Fianna Fáil were, too, in the actual number of votes cast in those by-elections. There was a very heavy fall in the votes which they secured compared with those they obtained in the 1965 General Election in those constituencies, with the exception of one. That was County Clare.
The greatest argument in favour of the system of PR is that it is democratic. It gives fair representation to various policies which are represented by various Parties. The straight vote system tends to cut out fair representation. The Liberals in England, for instance, number something around ten million people. Senator Yeats will be able to put me right on that; he is good at figures. They are used to getting large figures but they have only a handful in Parliament.
Mr. Rooney: The Liberal Party were the Government in Great Britain in the early part of this century, about 50 years ago. Under the straight vote system they have lost ground and they have lost seats in Parliment much more rapidly than they lost votes outside Parliament. The Minister in the course of his statement was rather critical of the coalitions, as I think he described them, of 1948 to 1951 and again of 1954 to 1958. Those were the years when great strides were made in the matter of modern policies and meeting modern needs. For instance, our record in housing has not been equalled in any year since. We built more local authority houses in one year than were built in any year of the 26 years about which Fianna Fáil are talking. There, again, let us remind the Fianna Fáil Party that they would never have got into Leinster House but for the PR system of election. They got in under that system of election. Fair enough they got the votes, they got the seats and they came into the Dáil in 1932 as a minority. They succeeded in forming a Government with the support of the Labour Party.
Of course, they dishonoured the gentleman's agreement that existed between Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party in 1932 and threw them overboard in 1933. They boasted that the Labour Party would get back into Leinster House in a cab. There was a fairly large number of Labour Deputies supporting Fianna Fáil in 1932, but in 1933 the Fianna Fáil Party boasted that a cab would be large enough to bring back the Labour Party.
Mr. Rooney: You did take dictation from the late Peadar Cowan. I was in the Dáil the day Peadar Cowan stood on the steps with his thumbs in his waistcoat and said there would be no election. I remember the gate had to be locked because of the excitement and the Fianna Fáil people were shouting “Good old Peadar” at Peadar Cowan.
Mr. Rooney: I am proving that Fianna Fáil are glad to avail of support from Deputies who are not members of the Fianna Fáil Party when it suits them. They were glad to have those five Deputies supporting them when they were not in this House.
Mr. Rooney: Thank you. I will be listening very intently. As I have already mentioned, reference has been made to a multiplicity of political Parties. The people are entitled to form a political Party and if they get sufficient support for it to send their representatives to Parliament under the present system, but under the new system there will be no chance of those people ever getting support. In England no political Party is able to get support. In Northern Ireland they cannot gain any strength. Once you have the straight vote system without PR there is no opportunity for new policies, new ideas and new organisations to come into Parliament. Fianna Fáil pretend it is desirable that they should have a majority Government in order to implement their policies. I have just referred to their dropping of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. They have an overall majority at the moment and what are they doing about the drainage of the Shannon?
Mr. Rooney: We are talking about the Shannon now. When the people along the Shannon were up to their knees in water and there were votes to be got Fianna Fáil were down there promising to drain it. Many of the schemes Fianna Fáil implemented are not policy at all but merely a logical development of administration. Fianna Fáil just paddle along claiming to implement what appear to be new policies but which are, in fact, logical developments in a modern society.
For example, what would Fianna Fáil have done but for the large volume of exports we have? Fianna Fáil's policy right up to 1948 was always one of self-sufficiency. They were not interested in expanding exports but only in achieving self-sufficiency as far as they could. But now all the talk is about exports. Remember, it was the inter-Party Government that put them on that line when they decided to establish the IDA. The IDA is now to be transformed into a semi-State body, and more power to it. We can all be proud of what the personnel of the IDA have achieved. They deserve the recognition they are getting. They must be given credit for improving our economy to such a great extent compared with the time when that organisation did not exist. But in regard to this body, which we are now going to make a semi-State organisation, Deputy Lemass said that at the first opportunity he would dismantle it.
Mr. Rooney: The Minister making his case here mentioned the desirability of having a Government with a majority  in order to implement their policies. Any time Fianna Fáil have had a substantial majority that is the time they do nothing. It is when Fianna Fáil are in danger of being in a minority that they are busy. Take, for example, the housing situation. Senator Dolan knows there was a time when not a house was built in County Cavan for twelve months.
Mr. Rooney: The Minister for Local Government has already shut down on County Louth because there is a Fine Gael county council there. He is going to make it tough for them to get their schemes through and to get their grants.
Mr. Rooney: Because there is a Fine Gael county council there the people of Louth are going to suffer in regard to various schemes of public utility. That is a disgraceful situation. But it could be even worse if this system the Minister wants is brought in.
Mr. Rooney: I can tell Senator Dolan that it is there in black and white and anybody can read it. I should like to ask some of those Senators interrupting me if they approve of that. Do they approve of the people of Louth being victimised because they elected a Fine Gael county council there?
Mr. Rooney: The Minister mentioned the matter of multi-Party representation.  I should like to remind Senators that most of the Governments in Europe today are Coalition Governments. They are very successful and progressive Governments, just as were the two Coalition Governments we had here. In Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Denmark there are coalition Governments. We look up to the Danes and the Dutch for what they have achieved for their people in regard to their economies and standard of living. A majority of the progressive nations in Europe have coalition Governments, so Fianna Fail's argument that a coalition Government is not a good one falls down on that score.
Another point made by the Minister was that in the large five-seat constituencies, where you get two Fine Gael, two Fianna Fáil and one Labour, the two Fine Gael fellows were at loggerheads with each other and trying to be one up on the other.
Mr. Rooney: Yes, I think what the Minister found was that the Fianna Fáil fellows could not agree in their constituencies and were trying to be one up on each other. The Minister said that this constant cut-throat competition between two Fianna Fáil Deputies in a constituency was something to be avoided and that the only way to avoid it was to separate them and put them into single-seat constituencies.
Mr. Rooney: I did not know what it was that prompted them but as we think over it now we are beginning to see the reasons for the proposal to establish single-seat constituencies. We all know there is a problem in Dublin North-East so far as Deputy Colley and Deputy Haughey are concerned.
Mr. Rooney: He also put up the argument that heading the poll does not guarantee the first seat, or any seat, to a candidate under the present system, but before the count starts, the quota is decided and if heading the poll means reaching the quota and, if he gets one vote over the quota, he will be elected. The point is that heading the poll without reaching the quota will not elect him and every Deputy elected will have to reach the quota except the final one. The argument about a candidate heading the poll and not being elected seems plausible until you consider that the candidate did not reach the quota under PR.
It is obvious that the Fianna Fáil Party are trying to bring in this system because it will come to their rescue. In the first Bill, the tolerance arrangement will help them as a Party to get four seats in certain areas compared with three for the Opposition. In addition, they realise that if they can get the largest number of votes, even if it is only 25 per cent of the total poll in certain places where there is a number of candidates, they will secure the seat. They are trying to gain these two advantages at the expense of the taxpayer. An estimate of £100,000 has been made but I should like to know how it was reached. How much per constituency is it proposed to spend? Bring it down to £ s d and let us have the truth. The £100,000 appears to be very conservative.
 As regards single-seat constituencies where only one person is elected, supposing he is a Fianna Fáil candidate, as the Minister hopes, there is the danger of political patronage being extended further than at present. The political patronage—if you like, the bribery and corruption—that can arise is a very serious danger and leaves the constituency wide open so far as this patronage weapon is concerned. People can be intimidated and bullied by a political Party, particularly by a Government Party, if a Government Deputy holds the constituency. People may feel they are threatened, even if they are not, by a Fianna Fáil Deputy in an area if Fianna Fáil happen to be in Government. It gives him undue influence not justified by the number of people who voted for the elected candidate.
The Minister also argued that by-elections are very expensive and that a by-election in a small constituency would not be as expensive as one in a five-seat constituency as at present. Nobody will argue against the Minister on the matter of expense but it is a question of having a system of election that we know or changing to a completely different system resulting in smaller constituencies. I did not like the Minister's remarks when he spoke about the newspapers which are not the Irish Press or Evening Press. He spoke of the Independent and Irish Times and I suppose the Cork Examiner and the Sunday Independent as being the Opposition papers. What he admitted is that the Irish Press is a Party-tied political organ, that it is not a newspaper. He referred to the other newspapers as the Opposition Press. He should give the newspapers and their editors a little more credit for presenting the news and views in an intelligent unbiassed, manner. That is what we usually get from the Independent and the Irish Times.
Some time ago, for instance, we had a situation when Fianna Fáil threatened to outlaw the NFA because they did not like their activities at that time. The Taoiseach himself went on television to warn the farmers that he was on the point of declaring them an illegal organisation.
Mr. Rooney: What I was going to say was that there is no doubt that the NFA would have been declared an illegal organisation if we had a Government elected under the straight vote system because the Government would have real power to do so and to declare illegal any organisation they did not like. We want to make sure the Fianna Fáil Party do not get that kind of power and that it will respect organisations, whether trade union or farmers' organisations or republican organisations. I know that the Fianna Fáil Party do not like those republicans now. Only recently we saw the major republican in this country accepting honour from a British monarch.
Mr. Rooney: I shall not refer to any more matters that annoy the Fianna Fáil Party except to remind them that there is no public demand for this legislation. There is no need for it. It will involve the expenditure of £100,000 of the taxpayers' money for the benefit of Fianna Fáil.
Mr. McAuliffe: It was not my intention to speak here tonight but I should like to congratulate one Senator who spoke here, Senator Mrs. Connolly O'Brien. The best speech that was made on PR either in the Dáil or in the Seanad was made by Senator Mrs. Connolly O'Brien. It was well thought out and something we should all consider. I was very sorry the Minister was not present to hear exactly what she had to say, because I am quite sure it would have made an impression even on him. It might have caused him to change his mind and accept  amendments, something he has no intention of doing. The Bill before us here reminds me of the Marts Bill. We had amendment after amendment and the Minister for Agriculture sat there and would not accept any of them. He bulldozed it through, and this measure that is before us is another bulldozing Bill.
Mr. McAuliffe: The Fianna Fáilinspired amendment put down by Deputy Norton got the works, too, because the Minister would not give way on it. Quite a number of people in the Fianna Fáil Party wanted the single-seat and the transferable vote, and it was quite a close thing in their Party as to whether they would succeed or not. Some very prominent people were associated with putting down that motion before the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, yet it was defeated because the Minister would not agree.
That is the attitude of the Minister to the Bill here today. It does not matter how long we take, whether we talk for two, three or four days; it will make no difference. The Minister will bulldoze this through Seanad Éireann and we shall have the referendum in October. We in the Labour Party would be delighted to see the referendum taking place next week because I am afraid the people throughout the country will get it into the back of their minds: “I do not need to vote; it is going to be defeated”. Fianna Fáil are playing that game, delayed action. The Minister for Local Government held up the Bill, making speeches for two and three hours. I listened to him in the Dáil. It was not the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party held up the Bill. You could say at the beginning there was a bit of filibustering all right, but in the end the only person who tried to delay the Bill was the  Minister. If the Minister wanted to put the Bill through, he could have done so and the referendum could take place in the month of July.
Mr. McAuliffe: When Senator McDonald was speaking, there was quite a lot of reference to Deputies Oliver Flanagan, James Dillon and Liam Cosgrave as regards their attitude to the straight vote. As far as Deputy Flanagan is concerned, what he said on television was: “I do not care whether it is a straight vote or a crooked vote. I will get in anyway, and I defy anyone in Ireland to defeat me.”
Mr. McAuliffe: But that is what Oliver means. He does not care who goes down, whether it is the Taoiseach or the Minister for Local Government. If the Minister for Local Government and Deputy Flanagan were two candidates in the one constituency, there would be no hope of the Minister coming back under the straight vote.
Mr. McAuliffe: I accept your ruling, Sir. The Minister made many references to the breaching of county boundaries, but if we go back to 1961, to the O'Donovan case, where it was proved that the constituencies had been wrongly constituted, we find that the breaking up of some of the constituencies at that time could give qualms of conscience to everyone in Fianna Fáil. I remember before that case was finished in the courts a certain TD stated: “I hope O'Donovan wins the case and I will settle a couple of people.” Fianna Fáil had a big say in drawing the lines as to where a constituency should start and where it should end. If they found someone coming up against them, they could cut up the constituency as they thought fit. It happened in my own case. Part of Westmeath was put in with Kildare, although not one inch of Westmeath touches the Kildare boundary. To overcome that, they slipped in a little bit of Meath, which touches Westmeath, and put the three of them together. For a person from Meath to go to a TD in Athy, he would have to pass through Westmeath, into Offaly, into Laois and down into Kildare before he could——
Mr. McAuliffe: When there are interruptions and personal remarks it is very hard not to forget. We heard the Minister talking about the tolerance vote and about letting one TD represent about 16,000 people in the West of Ireland, or in Donegal, or in the south, and one TD represent about 23,000 in the urban areas. That in itself is proof to me that the Government have failed completely to do anything for the West. The Minister holds that he would have to go into two or three counties to get enough constituents in the West to elect a TD, but if that is the case, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and that is proof that the Government have failed to save the West, and failed to get the people to stay there. When people reach the age of 18 or 19 years there, they get on the boat and they are off to England, or they get on the train and go to Dublin. We have over one-fifth of the population of Ireland in Dublin today. We hear talk about decentralisation and putting the Department of Lands in Castlebar and the Department of Education in Athlone. We will see white blackbirds before those things happen. There are wheels within wheels. This is all propaganda for the election next year, and for the coming referendum.
There are more people who do not want to change from the system of PR on the opposite benches than there are on these benches. Everyone is aware of that. I cannot understand why Fianna Fáil are going on with this because they will definitely get a hiding they will never forget.
Mr. McAuliffe: The speech made by Senator Mrs. Connolly O'Brien was a masterpiece. It was the best speech ever made. She pointed out that it is an insult to the Irish people to suggest that they cannot go in to the polling booths and write down 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, in the order of their preference, instead of putting down an X. Every illiterate who cannot sign the old age pension puts down an X. She said we should get away from that.
 They have the straight vote in Northern Ireland and in England. At one time we were told to burn everything British except their coal. Now we are copying everything English. We even copied the English Road Traffic Act with breathalisers and so on. Now we want to copy the straight vote.
Mr. McAuliffe: I am against it. They have the straight vote in the North of Ireland. Look at the elections there. Look at the number of people returned unopposed in so many constituencies. The very same thing could arise here tomorrow morning. People would be returned unopposed.
Mr. McAuliffe: Because no one else has a chance against them with the gerrymandering of the constituencies. The Fianna Fáil Party will not be short of ways and means of getting different constituencies to suit themselves.
Mr. McAuliffe: Religion would not have anything to do with it in Donegal, yet Fianna Fáil would win four seats in Donegal. If I were a strong supporter of Fine Gael or Labour in Donegal  I would have no one to help me if I wanted something raised in the Dáil.
Mr. McAuliffe: They are well looked after by the Government. If they speak Irish not only do they get a grant but their children get a grant, and if they are not working during the winter they get the dole whether they like it or not.
Mr. McAuliffe: I spoke about the difficulty of having the single-seat system confined to countries. I think it would be impossible to do it. Take my own constituency of Longford. The population in Longford is so small that it would be impossible to elect two candidates, whereas in Westmeath there would not be enough to elect three. There was a lot of talk about the annihilation of the Labour Party.
Mr. McAuliffe: What is worrying everyone today is bread and butter. We see in the papers: “We will go on strike if we do not get more pay”. We see that today. Everyone is worried about bread and butter. We have grown to be more materialistic, and I do not blame people for growing materialistic. We became materialistic in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann ourselves recently.
Mr. McAuliffe: There is materialism all over the world. When people want to know whether Ireland is the right country to live in, the best country in the world, they ask themselves one question: “Am I getting sufficient pay? Have I reasonable comfort?” And unless they can answer “Yes” to those two questions they will not consider it wise to live in this country, and they will leave it. It has been a trend right down for the past two or three years—industrial unrest and everything else. It will take a little while to settle all the matters that are in dispute. As soon as one is settled, another arises.
My contention is that proportional representation has served us well in the past. We have had 40 years experience of it. As Senator Mrs. Connolly O'Brien says, it was not imposed. We were glad to accept the system of proportional representation. We were glad to be able to turn around and to say to the people of Northern Ireland: “If you come in here with us, we shall give you a system of election that will give a minority fair representation in Dáil Éireann.”
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