Military Pact: Motion.

Wednesday, 2 December 1981

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 96 No. 12

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An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  Item No. 3 on the agenda is a motion in the names of Senator Murphy and Senator McGuinness and calls on the Government to declare unequivocally that Ireland will not join a military pact. Before I ask Senator Murphy to open the debate, I should like to draw the attention of Members, especially new Members of the House, to the speaking time governing this debate. It is the first Private Members' motion we have had this session. The proposer of the motion is entitled to 30 minutes and each other Senator to not more than 15 minutes. The proposer may also nominate another Senator who has not already spoken to reply to the debate, or he may do so himself. I hope that is clear. I now call Senator Murphy to propose the motion.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  I move:

That Seanad Eireann calls on the Government to declare unequivocally that Ireland will not join a military pact.

On a point of information may I ask—no, I withdraw my question.

Mr. S. O'Leary: Information on Sean A OLeary  Zoom on Sean A OLeary  The Senator was saying?

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  I was going to ask whether it was intended that the Government should be represented.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  The Government are well represented.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  I want to thank the Leader of the House and the Whips for making the time available for this motion. I am gratified that the first Private Members' motion should be one standing in my name and that of Senator [1104] McGuinness. I might point out that the motion was lifted by me straight from the old Order Paper, and the fact that it can be brought before the new House indicates the perennial topicality and urgency of the motion. There are those who would say we would do better to spend our Private Members' time in debating perhaps more mundane and more immediate and domestic matters. I could sympathise with Senator B. Ryan who, on the Order of Business today, was very anxious that his own particular interests should be looked after in the motion he has down on the Order Paper.

The world prospect at the moment makes a motion of this kind as compelling and as immediate and as important as any bread and butter issue. This is not some exotic or rarified option which we can take or leave. This concerns our very existence. Given our traditions in relation to neutrality, and given what we try to do in the world, and the commitments we have, then we also have an obligation to scrutinise this matter at frequent intervals. Indeed, vigilance and public scrutiny are the price of our neutrality.

Constituents of mine, far from telling me that a topic like neutrality is a very abstract subject, have urged me to raise the matter when I can and where I can. People with young families, though they may not raise it as a subject of everyday conversation, are obviously in a state of intermittent terror about the prospects of world conflict and indeed the possibility of nuclear annihilation. So it is important that the House should give this matter some time.

If we say that the tradition of neutrality in this country is an important one—and I do not want to be seen as making out an exaggerated case for its historic importance—there are two extremes into which we can fall here. One is making a claim that we have something like a Swiss tradition in these matters and that we were always geared towards neutrality and non-alignment in our history. The other extreme is those who being ashamed of our neutrality and wanting to commit us to a military alliance, tell us that our [1105] neutrality is simply a matter of expediency, always has been, and that it has little or no principle basis. I think the objective historian would plot a course somewhere between these. It cannot be denied that the term and concept of neutrality have occurred from early in the century at least and figure in and out, so to speak, of the policies and events of the so-called revolutionary period. Roger Casement, for example, envisaged what he called a neutralised independent State under international guarantees. During the Treaty negotiations Eamon de Valera brought up the possibility of having a future independent Ireland status as a neutral independent State under-written in whatever agreement might be reached. It could be said that the whole anti-conscription campaign which was so central, if you like, to the Sinn Féin resurgence in 1917-1918 was a great neutrality campaign as well. Professor Patrick Keating, who is acknowledged to be the leading authority on the history of our foreign policy, has said and I quote from his book A Place among the Nations:

The popular basis of neutrality was enshrined in 1918.

So there is a respectable body of evidence to suggest that what we are talking about today is firmly rooted in the history of the State. Of course it had a pragmatic basis as well. It was not all that principled. Much of it was simply an anti-English tactic, and anti-English strategy. In the years after independence both Cumann na nGaedheal and Fianna Fáil were concerned to establish Irish neutrality and independence in various international fora. It was again, less an exercise in abstract principles than a strategy to demonstrate Ireland's advance towards full constitutional sovereignty.

The Second World War neutrality grew out of all of this. There are those today, at home, who would heavily criticise our abstention from World War II. People in this Oireachtas indeed, from time to time have said that they regret and deplore Ireland's neutrality which they see as essentially isolationist and selfish. There is something to be said for that point of view but it fails to put the [1106] matter in historical context. All I am going to say here is that Ireland's wartime neutrality, which was the very bedrock of subsequent developments, was the only sensible strategy for this State to adopt in 1939. Whatever critics may say in retrospect it is highly interesting that the two leading authorities on our neutrality in World War II both applaud indeed the national stance and claim it was the only feasible one. For the record I refer to Joseph T. Carroll “Ireland in the war years” and to Thomas Ryle Dwyer “Irish neutrality in the USA” and author also of the biography of Eamon de Valera. Dwyer is no starry-eyed admirer of the chief but he concludes a quite critical assessment by saying:

In view of his courageous stance... de Valera and his Government had absolutely nothing to be ashamed about in remaining neutral during the Second World War. And his successful struggle to keep Ireland out of that conflict in the face of IRA treachery, Allied pressure and Axis provocation was a magnificent achievement which provided the most conclusive demonstration of the country's political independence.

Fianna Fáil Senators, with respect, please take note; this is your policy above all others.

We were still however, a long way from active and principled, if you like, independence in world affairs. Our refusal to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in 1949 again was for fairly selfish, introspective and not very noble reasons. We refused to join the North Atlantic Treaty as long as Britain kept our country divided—I use the phrasing of the time. It was in the late fifties and early sixties, however, that we took a step forward, building on the previous and rather mundane approach to international affairs, that we began to build an imaginative foreign policy of which our military neutrality was a centrepiece. Despite the great developments since then and the whole complex interaction of the European Economic Community and world affairs generally, I am convinced that the principles underlying our neutrality in [1107] what I might call the period of its golden age—the late fifties and early sixties—are still valid today, that is to say that a country with our history has a duty and a role to perform in respect of the world generally, a small part perhaps. We have a tendency to Skibbereen Eagle-ise ourselves from time to time. We should guard against that tendency. A limited contribution it has always been but an important one nonetheless. I cannot see that things have changed since the late fifties and early sixties. We are still the only country in western Europe which has not had a murky imperial past and I may say in some respects, and with respect to our partners, a murky imperial present. We are the first country in western Europe or indeed in the world at large to have emancipated ourselves, if you like, from colonial rule in the twentieth century and thereby established a particular pattern and model. We are, at the same time, a country which cherishes the common values of western civilisation.

Being all these things, it seemed to the formulators of foreign policy in the early sixties, and it seems to me today, that we had a particular role to perform in the United Nations and in the matter of peacekeeping, for example, but which could not be performed credibly if we had been a member of a military alliance and which cannot in my view continue to be performed credibly today if we were to join a military alliance.

It is difficult to make any speech on this matter without paying genuine tribute to and being extremely proud of our peacekeeping role. Enough has been said about that elsewhere. All I can say is that it pleases me particularly because it is a welcome historical paradox if you like, that Paddy whose image worldwide was that of the fighter should now be seen in international eyes as the peacekeeper. I thought it worthwhile to sketch the historical perspective, as it were, because after all how can a policy like this be based on anything else except really with reference to the past?

I want to turn now to a few considerations more pertinent to the present day. [1108] The first one is: why is a policy of non-involvement in a military pact vital to our interests? I will answer that by saying, first of all, the motives of self-perservation, self-interest are not to be discounted in so far as that is possible in a future war. We all sweepingly dismiss the possibility of escaping unharmed or with little injury from the next conflict. It may well be that a future conflict could be a limited one and to the extent that we can save our country from the consequences of international war then we are bound to do so. Self-interest and self-preservation are no less valid criteria for action than they were for Eamon de Valera in 1939. The second point I would like to draw your attention to when I ask the question — why is the policy vital to our interests — is that maybe we should examine certain terms which are used instinctively, automatically as if everyone agreed on their meaning. What I mean by this is that the people who argue for our participation in a military pact say: ah, you know we should do it in the interests of western European defence. The word defence is used constantly and daily. It is one of these words the meaning of which we think we know. In other words we assume that western Europe is under constant military threat from the Soviet Union. We should ask ourselves whether that is really true. I am not sure it is true, that is the farthest I would go. I know, of course, that the very existence of the Soviet Union is based on ideological expansion. But is there that evidence or is it just a kind of self-induced brainwashing over the decades that the Soviet Union poses a constant military threat to western Europe?

If there were no nuclear weapons defending western Europe, is the Soviet Union really poised to make a military take-over west of Berlin? It seems to me that there is very little evidence in the decade since the end of World War II that we can thus view the intentions of the Soviet Union. The point is that anyone who has been in the Soviet Union will have noticed the enormous emphasis on peace, the constant reminders to their citizens of the horrors of war and the calamitous losses which they themselves [1109] suffered in World War II. I know that since classical times it is said: if you desire peace, prepare war —si vis pacem, para bellum— but it seems very unlikely that you can prepare a citizenry for war by constantly preaching peace. Therefore I suggest that one of the reasons we should be very critical about the idea that we are needed for defence is that defence may not be what it is traditionally cracked up to be at all.

However the main reason we should stay out of a military pact is that the prospect of a nuclear war is a horrific and immoral one; that is the very least we can say about it. In the jargon that tries to bring the semblance of sanity to all these madmen one phrase keeps recurring, which is “mutual assured destruction,” and it is very appropriate that the initials spell “mad”. In a condition where the super powers have the capacity to destroy the world several times over, surely it is a moral imperative on us, with our particular history, to do what we can to stop that and certainly to refuse to have anything to do with its possible perpetration. Talking about “mutual assured destruction,” again, it is rather like that term “defence,” we have been reading papers and absorbing television programmes for so long which automatically assume that the rulers of the world have got things right; that we regard President Reagan, Mrs. Thatcher and even Comrade Brezhnev as all, somehow, talking sensibly and reasonably. And we regard the hundreds of thousands marching in Bonn and Amsterdam and Paris as insane. Of course the truth is the other way around. It is only the constant repetition of the media which has blinded us to that fact.

If we stay out of a military pact, at least we are giving a sane witness in a militarily insane world, in a western Europe which is a bristling arsenal already. To make the minutest contribution to armaments of any kind would be to renege on our whole position in the world since we became an independent State.

As a member of the United Nations Security Council we have a particular world responsibility. We cannot deplore, [1110] with any logical consistency, the link between armaments and poverty in the Third World, as we have been doing — and that link is strongly emphasised in the Brandt Report — we cannot say: “oh are not the Iranians and the Iraqis very foolish given their poverty problems to be arming themselves?” How can we do that and, at the same time, seriously consider joining a military alliance?

Deputy Richie Ryan made a remarkable speech in Dáil Éireann in May 1979 in a foreign affairs debate — Official Report, volume 314, No. 12 of 31 May, 1979, column 1943 in which he pointed out among other things that if we departed from our military neutrality it would, so to speak, damage our credibility in the Third World, it would damage our credibility even with respect to the real visionary concept of Europe being an alliance of all the countries of Europe, not just a limited portion thereof. Our military neutrality is one of the few factors which prevents the EEC from being seen exclusively as a capitalist and military force in the outside world. As I have said already our peacekeeping capacity would be seriously damaged if we joined a military pact. There is all that other world where our people function abroad — missionaries, teachers, voluntary workers, semi-State experts from bodies like the ESB, the activities of Aer Lingus in Africa: it is not an exaggeration to say that the goodwill towards them is largely conditioned by all these countries' perception of Ireland's place in the world, which is that of a non-military, neutral nation.

Hard-headed businessmen in Aer Lingus will tell you that one of the reasons they have such a remarkably good image in African countries, when it comes to training, leasing and so on, is because of our existing foreign policy of which neutrality is a central piece. This is no rarified option that we are talking about today. It relates directly to our wellbeing in the rest of the world. So, we are threatened at the moment —as we were when I first put down the motion — but the threat has intensified to our military neutrality. It comes, of course, from international tension, from the people in the White House [1111] and the Pentagon. Looking at President Reagan holding a press conference sometimes would make you think you were looking at a Peter Sellers' movie. All the semblances of sanity are there but it is all absolutely lunatic. May I say that the same applies, of course, to Comrade Brezhnev and his colleagues in the Kremlin?

I spoke perhaps a year ago by invitation to a meeting of the Ireland/USSR Society when the topic was Ireland's neutrality. I was, of course, expected roundly to denounce President Carter — as he then was — but to speak favourable things about the peace-loving intentions of the great Soviet people. There was universal displeasure in the front row of that audience, let me tell the House, when I said that the rockets trundling through Red Square on May Day were as much of a threat to my existence and that of mankind as were the Cruise, the Pershings and all the rest. In other words, if we are to be serious about our neutrality and if it is to continue, then we must make sure it cuts both ways. There must be no, if you like, fifth column sheltering behind our neutrality. Our military neutrality has never been, and will never be, a pro-Soviet facade any more than it should be an anti-American facade.

Therefore, the threat comes from international tension. It comes from EEC developments, as the Minister well knows, and the small print of this was gone into in the Dáil not so long ago in the debate which was connected with his own appointment and which hinged around the question, as far as I can see, as to whether it was Senator Dooge or Deputy Lenihan who was betraying our neutrality. deputy Brian Lenihan has discovered a belated and highly admirable fervour——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  The Chair does not wish to appear heavy-handed, but would like to remind the Senator that it has not been the practice in the House to refer to speeches by individual Deputies. It is only in order to refer to statements by members of the Government, and the Chair would be obliged——

[1112]Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  Of course, a Cathaoirleach, except some day you must show me where it says that in Standing Orders.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  It is a rule of the House, well-established.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  Is it like the British Constitution, invisible?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  Not altogether.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  However, I take the point. Nevertheless the small print of the EEC threat has been amply aired in the other House. To summarise, it has come from the fact that I suppose we were always a sore thumb in the EEC since our entry in 1973. Undoubtedly by the very nature of the Community there is pressure that we should conform, so to speak. But it has come to a head under the international pressure generally, under the understandable anxiety of western European powers to solidify the line-up and to close the gaps. It is not for me to pass judgment on whether the Fianna Fáil Government sold the pass at Venlo or whether Senator Dooge sold the pass in London a few months ago. But they are all in agreement that the threat to our continued military neutrality is growing from the direction of the EEC. A third direction which is putting pressure on traditional policy is, of course, Anglo-Irish relations. We still do not know what was said at the first Anglo-Irish Summit. We have had the publication of proceedings quite recently with a significant omission of security. We may be reassured to the extent that nothing has been published which would put our neutrality in hazard but, on the other hand, who knows what went on behind closed doors in that respect? It has been said or suggested from the first Haughey-Thatcher meeting that there might be a trade-off, a united Ireland for an abdication of our neutrality, to put it very crudely, that Mrs. Thatcher might well demand, in return for a favourable settlement of the Northern Ireland question — favourable from our point of view — that we should take [1113] care, so to speak, of British security, that we might make concessions in respect of British concern about our security; that she would find herself reluctant to abandon the western island without being assured that Britain's strategic interests would be taken care of. That is a problem——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  The Senator has two minutes remaining.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  ——which has troubled Britain since the 16th century. In my view there is no need for us to join a military pact in order to reassure Britain. If this island, even united, stayed permanently neutral — as Casement wished back in 1912-1914 — then Britain would have nothing to fear from a perpetually neutral Ireland.

Instead of contemplating joining any pact, I think that we should use our influence in the EEC to moderate our partners' bellicose intentions, particularly to moderate the nuclear involvement of France and the United Kingdom, and the involvement of West Germany in nuclear technology. We talk a lot about our youth and how many of them are under 25 and so on. This is one area where they might be genuinely upset because their essential future is endangered. They may have taken some consolation from the last election campaign in which I think for the first time all three parties included in their platform, maybe as a minor item, a commitment to neutrality. That commitment is still very much in doubt.

I would ask the Minister a fundamental question: Is our military neutrality fundamentally incompatible with membership of the EEC — I mean at any time — because we have been told in succession by Seán Lemass, Dr. Hillery and Michael O'Kennedy that tomorrow morning if any of our partners were attacked we would go to their aid. Is that true? If so then that makes a nonsense of our neutrality. And what does being attacked mean? Suppose there is a kind of German nationalist flare-up at the Bavarian border; do we go to the aid of West Germany in that case? I am glad to have had the opportunity to open this [1114] debate and I thank you, a Cathaoirleach, for your forbearance.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  Is the motion seconded?

Mrs. McGuinness: Information on Catherine McGuinness  Zoom on Catherine McGuinness  Yes, I second this motion. Indeed, it gives me great pleasure, as it did Senator Murphy, to partake in this first Private Member's debate in the Seanad since the election. I agree with him that although some of the other matters put down as Private Members' motions are very important, on a more mundane level perhaps this is one which could be a threat to our very life as a nation and, therefore, is of extreme importance.

Theoretically, I suppose, in the proper meaning of the term the Irish policy of neutrality can only be said to date from 1922 when we became an independent State. Indeed, on a practical level it could really date only from 1938 when the British bases were withdrawn and we were given the opportunity to be a neutral State, which happened just in time for the Second World War. Nevertheless, as Senator Murphy has said, there is a long historical background to this idea.

He has covered this area extremely well and I do not intend to repeat what he has said. But we should see that throughout the centuries and leading up to 1922 there were perhaps three aspects of Ireland's international relations: one was her missionary activities — I shall refer to both the missionary activities and the activities of our development work later; the second was the revolutionary use of England's enemies as a threat to England — this is something we can now disregard in the sense that it was something that nearly disappeared with independence. Perhaps it is being used in a bad sense now in the activities of some of the groups in the United States. The third is what I think is the real ancestor to our present feelings about neutrality, a general nationalist unwillingness to become involved in imperial wars. This kind of unwillingness is what our policy of neutrality is largely based on.

In this context, I should like to emphasise one particular figure in history, and that is Wolfe Tone. I emphasise him in [1115] particular because he has been called upon by our present Taoiseach in his constitutional crusade as being more or less the patron saint of our Republic and I feel that we should look at what he had to say. In 1790 he wrote a pamphlet on the danger of Ireland becoming involved in a war between Britain and Spain. It was entitled “An Inquiry: How far Ireland is bound as of right to embark in the impending contest on the side of Great Britain”. He pointed out that the question with us was not who is wrong and who is right; that ours are discussions of a very different nature, to foster and cherish a growing trade, to cultivate and civilise a yet unpolished people, to obliterate the impression of ancient religious feuds, to watch with incessant and anxious care the cradle of an infant Constitution; that these were our duties and were indispensible. I suggest that these duties are still with us and we still have not fulfilled them. Wolfe Tone further pointed out that we should spurn the idea of moving in humble satellite around any power however great. Again I would submit that this is still true. This thread of opposition to involvement in imperial wars has gone all through our history, as Senator Murphy has pointed out, in the nationalist attitude to the Boer War, in the Sinn Féin attitude to World War I where the anti-conscription campaign was based on a feeling that we should not be involved in this sort of imperialist war. Again there is our neutrality in World War II and our attitude to the joining of NATO, which was outlined so well in the various aides memoire which were published to the Houses of the Oireachtas at the time, which were exchanged between the then Minister for External Affairs and the then United States envoy.

Our policy of neutrality has not been just a matter of ideology or a matter of mere Government policy but has a genuine basis in a real people's tradition and a popular feeling. This is brought out by the fact that our constituents — mine as well as Professor Murphy's — talk to us about these matters, that when public meetings are held on this matter they get a very good audience and a very good [1116] response, that there was a universal pride in this country in our role in the United Nations as a neutral and unaligned power during the fifties and sixties and that there is a general unease about the present position, the possibility that EEC membership and membership of what is called European defence are brought together. At the moment, particularly, there have been repeated rumours of a possible commitment to membership of NATO or to being a kind of side-kick of NATO as it were, not perhaps having to be a member but being a semi-independent member as was done by, say, France. This is brought up again and again. We recently had an interview in The Sunday Tribune by General Sir John Hackett, former Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, who pointed out that he felt that Ireland was now very important to NATO; that both Russia and America might well have nuclear missiles pointed at Shannon; that we should be involved in the whole defence arena. Asked if he thought the Americans would use nuclear weapons on Shannon in certain circumstanes, the General said they are not going to use bows and arrows. Of course they would use nuclear missiles if they have them targeted. Again, European Commission's Vice-President Christopher Tugendhat is reported in the Irish Independent in October as stating that Irish neutrality was under pressure and that there was a necessity for membership of NATO or at least association with NATO.

We have had various statements and lectures by people who are described as foreign affairs experts or persons who have places of authority in the EEC. Some of these are more explicit, some less explicit. But they all leave the feeling that the policy of neutrality is being progressively and quietly abandoned. This is all the more dangerous because there is nothing explicit about it. There is no clear statement put to either House of the Oireachtas about what is being done. We have the position in both the major parties at any rate that we have a certain feeling that some members of the successive Governments wish to get rid of neutrality and yet we have backbench Members [1117] of considerable importance, such as Senator Ruairi Brugha, as he was then, and Deputy Richie Ryan who has also been mentioned in the other House in the Fine Gael Party, who have set their faces against any loss of neutrality. But we are given this vague and woolly impression that we are committed to what is described as a democratic and Christian western way of life and that therefore we must throw our lot in politically and militarily with the West.

As Senator Murphy said, we too readily assume that these things mean what they say. What do we mean by a democratic and Christian way of life? If we talk in terms of democracy it seems to me that to do away with our neutral policy is to fly in the face of the democratic wishes of our own people, If we talk in terms of Christianity there is very little that I can imagine that is more thoroughly non-Christian than a nuclear arms race which threatens to exterminate the entire population of the world, or very nearly. These present nuclear dangers are very real.

On Sunday last we had a graphic demonstration in The Sunday Times of the strategic weapons and long-range weapons the two sides have, the United States, the West and Warsaw Pact. These horrifying figures showed, for instance, that there are 9,000 warheads belonging to the West and 1,398 intercontinental ballistic missiles belonging to the Warsaw Pact and various other figures, all of which showed that these powers could destroy the world many times over with the arsenals they have already. Is it really Christian and moral that we should join this?

Now we see a growing anti-nuclear protest in Europe, huge marches taking place in Amsterdam and other centres, political parties and political movements growing in an anti-nuclear effort. I suggest that we have not seen this here precisely because we have a policy of neutrality and precisely because we are not involved. If we were to go in for this, remember the kind of opposition there was even to ordinary nuclear power being used by the ESB. We can be quite sure that there would be much more protest [1118] against military nuclear involvement. Indeed these protests might very well dwarf any protests held about the recent H-block issue. If we take it on we will see the democratic objections of our citizens and see them fast and strong.

On the moral aspect of this in world power blocks, can we really say that one side is all right and the other all wrong? I would suggest it is totally untrue that we are committing ourselves to the morally right side in the West. Of course, the Soviet Union is frequently wrong in its actions; of course it is wrong in what it did in Afghanistan and we should oppose that and oppose it strongly. But what our own people have found in El Salvador backed up by the United States is equally wrong. Our foreign policy has had a tradition of being independent and being able to take the stance that both these kinds of actions were wrong, whereas, if we involve ourselves in a military alliance with one side we completely muffle our own protests at these kinds of wrong.

Briefly, to conclude, I would turn again to our engagement with the Third World which was dealt with in our debate on the Brandt Report and in various other places as well. Here we have had the tradition of Irish missionary activity and the new activity of development and of business. I have had the experience of working in Zambia in Africa where my husband was employed by the United Nations and I could see the influence of Irish business activity, and it is undoubtedly true that Irishmen were employed in these situations precisely because we were thought to be neutral and unaligned. It was noticeable that in engineering activity it was Irish and Yugoslavs who were employed throughout those African countries for just these very reasons; they were not attached to imperialists of either side.

It is also true that it is the returned missionaries and the returned development workers who would most strongly reject the idea that the NATO and United States side is necessarily the moral side, the Christian side, the democratic side, in this world conflict. We get papers. I am sure other Senators like myself this morning got a paper called [1119]One World from Trocaire and the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace which again draws attention to the situation in El Salvador and which shows the commitment of Irish people abroad to real justice and peace in the various nonaligned countries.

We look in Europe itself not just to neutralists like Sweden and Switzerland who have had a long tradition of neutrality and who are rich countries and can perhaps sustain their own foreign policies more readily than we can. The poorer countries like Yugoslavia and Finland, who are in a much more difficult position than Sweden and Switzerland, are also under a great deal of pressure by a large world power and yet will go to endless lengths to try to hold on to their own neutrality. I would suggest, a Chathaoirleach, that we had extremely good reason to maintain an attitude of positive neutrality over past years and we have still better reason to retain it now.

Mrs. G. Hussey: Information on Gemma Hussey  Zoom on Gemma Hussey  Before saying anything on the motion I would like to welcome the Minister on his first time sitting in a ministerial chair in this House. It gives me great pleasure to welcome him to the House in that capacity. I would also like to congratulate the proposer and seconder of this motion for giving the Seanad the opportunity for a debate which is of such obvious importance to us all.

This debate, while it specifically mentions a military pact, is very much about neutrality on the world stage of the present nuclear tension. Furthermore, it has been given an added impetus or importance by the question of a possible development of European political co-operation into something quite different.

It has been mentioned — and it is important to note in passing — that there is a question mark over how far the former Minister for Foreign Affairs might have gone in loosening up the neutrality position of this country at Venlo in Holland on may 9 and 10. I expect that will be cleared up today. It is also necessary to comment on a shift in our thinking about neutrality which has already been mentioned by Senator Murphy. It was, [1120] historically, just a pragmatic expression of the independence of this country. It has shifted ground considerably now and to most people the discussion of Irish neutrality has expanded to mean a highly principled stand on world affairs.

I would like to congratulate this Minister on the Brockett Hall meeting which was reported on at the London meeting of EEC Ministers on October 13. It seems to me that that defined the proper scope of European political co-operation as excluding defence matters. A point that we must dwell on and that I intend to touch on a little bit later is the effect of our stand on neutrality and defence on any possible or probable area of negotiation with Britain over the future of the North. This aspect, while it stands at some distance from our position about defence as an EEC member, is nevertheless very bound up with that.

But it is necessary to remind ourselves that we had a referendum on our entry to the EEC in 1972 and that 80 per cent of the people who voted yes in that referendum were voting specifically for economic alliance, social links, cultural links; they were certainly not thinking of voting for anything else. Therefore in any departure from the original concept which the people were voting for, the people would have to be consulted once more and, to put it quite plainly, I am talking about a referendum. My own view is that in present circumstances such a referendum would be overwhelmingly against any military extension of EEC co-operation. I believe the people would make it quite clear that that is not what they were voting for in 1972.

There are, of course, other voices and opposite arguments and they are sometimes very powerful and very worrying. We have to consider whether the implications of our neutral position outside NATO are a block towards progress with Britain on the Northern question. I would like to quote something from the Irish Independent of November 21 in a very thought provoking article by Bruce Arnold entitled “Fitting Ireland into Defence of the West”. He said in that article, and I quote:

[1121] Britain has a lively and real interest in her own, and in Europe's, western defences. And sprawling across the lines of those western defences is the large, under-populated, underfinanced, under-industrialised, divided and unstable island of Ireland. Until that island, in peace and by agreement, can be turned into a stable, secure and united ally, Britain is going to remain in the North.

I found that an extremely interesting statement. But having given it a lot of thought I find that I must totally disagree with it. I believe that in regard to Ireland's neutral position or our staying outside NATO, they are not the block to further understanding or progress in the Northern Ireland question. That block is unfortunately the gulf which is deep and so far totally unbridged unfortunately between the people of the majority tradition in the North and ourselves and between the two communities in the North. They are the blocks to progress in that area.

Still touching on that question of the Irish dimension vis-a-vis Britain I believe that if the time ever comes—and like most Irish people I hope it will come soon and in peace—when there is a new and possibly confederal Ireland, a natural by-product of that development would be an all-Ireland military pact protecting the interests of all the Irish people together. Indeed, a very small but significant gesture towards that reality was made when Mr. de Valera sent the Irish fire services north of the Border to help in Belfast during the Second World War.

We have, of course, ancient and historic links with Britain, happy or unhappy as they may have been from time to time. We have extremely strong sentimental and racial links with the United States and, of course, we have the more recent strong economic links with Europe. I would like to endorse the remarks of other Senators who mentioned our very important links to the Third World. Those links are very worthy of being institutionalised themselves in an unaligned framework. Our relationship with the Third World should not be [1122] threatened by any movement towards unnecessary military alliance with the Western European block. Membership of the EEC, therefore, should not mean that we become an appendage, because that is all we would be, of some nuclear powered alliance in Europe.

Our status at the United Nations may be fairly small, but I believe it is very significant. If that status is respected, it should not be eroded or even threatened with erosion by any suspicion cast on our stance on neutrality and military alliances. It is important that we, as politicians, should articulate the views of the great majority of those we represent, and I represent the same constituents in this House as Senator Murphy and come under the same pressures from a great many of them. The great majority of the people we represent would refuse to countenance any effort to coerce Ireland into any military pact or any alliance. I believe that this Minister and this Government will protect the interests of the Irish people and in doing so enable us to be heard clearly in the major public debates that are going on all over the world about the proliferation of nuclear weaponry and the incursion of such weaponry into Western Europe. In doing so I want to say that I see no virtue whatsoever in joining in what appears to be a currently fashionable anti-Americanism which has crept into so many speeches and declarations of otherwise extremely balanced and worthy advocates of neutrality and nuclear disarmament. This was and remains a noteworthy feature of the enormous European demonstrations across Europe about Western European neutrality or the placing of nuclear weapons in Europe.

However, if we are preserving our neutrality against any onslaught, there is a price that we must pay and it is a high one. We have to work extremely hard to improve international understanding and improve international movements towards peace. Active and positive neutrality is a difficult path to follow but it is one that Ireland is suited to and must follow. I support this motion very strongly and I look forward very much to [1123] the Minister clarifying the Government's position on the matter.

Mr. Cogan: Information on Barry Cogan  Zoom on Barry Cogan  This is my first opportunity to congratulate the Minister on being appointed to his position and also to congratulate the Minister on being elected from this House to that high office, even though we might have something to say to him and some questions to ask him.

We in Fianna Fáil welcome this motion put down by Senators Murphy and McGuinness. I am heartened by the comments to date in the debate because, as we know, the question of Ireland's neutrality has been bandied about in recent months. I suspect that this was done to draw attention away from the economy and involved in a topic which most Irishmen hold dearly; the crusade about the Constitution can be looked upon in the same light. This is nothing but a subtle manipulation by this Government of our ideals to push into the background the handling of our economy and the breaking of election promises by the present patchwork Government. This manoeuvre will not work. Fianna Fáil will continue to question them on all aspects of their patchwork policies.

Certain points in relation to our country's neutrality have been raised and they cannot go unanswered. In addition the present Foreign Minister has attempted to misrepresent Fianna Fáil's philosophy and proven policy towards neutrality. This also cannot go unanswered. He has deliberately attempted to confuse the issues. I hope this is not meant to be a smokescreen to cover up more decisive plans that the Government may have for a future date. Let us clarify the situation and unweave the smokescreen of words and misleading statements about facets of foreign policy which the Government, for reasons best known to themselves, have created. I believe we all suspect the reasons and shudder at the consequences if we are correct.

At the outset let me say that the term neutrality has been bandied about and been used in the wrong context on many occasions. Like most people, when I hear talk of neutrality, I immediately conjure up pictures of the epic and historic stand [1124] of Eamon de Valera when in the face of untold pressures he relentlessly and successfully prevented Ireland from any strategic or military involvement during World War II. This is the essence of neutrality. That is staying neutral and having no military or strategic involvement whatsoever with one warring faction or the other. This has been commented on already by previous speakers, and without this definition things can get confused.

The present Government are using this confusion of terms to deliberately maintain such a situation. The terms on neutrality seem to get confused with the pursuance of an independent foreign policy. Sometimes the terms are inter-changed and used in the same context while on other occasions the opposite extreme arises when they are said to be a contradiction of each other.

Fianna Fáil policy in relation to neutrality and foreign policy is straightforward and clearly defined. First, the maintenance of neutrality in no way prevents Ireland from having a foreign policy in relation to world matters and in relation to other countries. Under successive Fianna Fáil Governments Ireland has always preserved an independent foreign policy. One aspect of this policy has been neutrality, that is, neutrality on a nonmilitary involvement of our nation with other nations or alignments. This is the policy that Fianna Fáil has always been committed to, and which put Ireland to the forefront in the United Nations peacekeeping operations all over the world. Other nations recognise that no matter what their military alignment is, we are neutral and thus one of the very few nations that can be trusted to carry out such delicate peace keeping and monitoring functions without bias towards any side. The distinction once again is that neutrality is not foreign policy; neither is neutrality a lack of foreign policy. The answer is simply that neutrality is one aspect of our foreign policy.

The important point is that having a neutral policy in regard to our country's military involvement does not imply that we should also be neutral politically or [1125] economically. On the contrary, this neutrality lends credibility to the pursuance of our independent foreign policy. Ireland's political foreign policy in the EEC, at the UN and elsewhere is listened to and is influential because we have no military axe to grind. Our political policy does not reflect a bias, or alliance, or allegiance to one side or the other. Thus we must be one of the few nations who can claim, and hopefully maintain, a balanced objective, independent, political foreign policy.

On the one hand, we can condemn Russia's involvement in Afghanistan and, on the other, America's involvement in El Salvador. We can be proud of this achievement down through the years. We are one of the few respected watchdogs of world peace because we can, at all times, speak up for and side with the righteous, at all times, point out the injustices and at all times look for justice for all peoples and nations of the world. This has always been, and shall remain, the foreign policy of Fianna Fáil. We will not go into the innuendoes of the present Government. We will not let them confuse the clear cut issues. We will not let them destroy, by their present divisive and seemingly bungling statements, our nation's ideals. We will not be coerced or subtly manoeuvred into any alliance which might prove economically beneficial which would mean the sacrificing of our dearly held and fought for principles and ideals of freedom and peace, not only for our own nation but for all nations.

Fianna Fáil welcome this motion. We see it as one in response to the consensus of opinion which Deputy Brian Lenihan has been voicing over recent weeks concerning the weakness being displayed by the Government on this matter. Only this afternoon, in the course of wide-ranging speech on Community affairs, our party leader made a number of important points on this subject which are directly relevant to this debate. I would like to put on the record of this House our objection to the way in which the development of the EEC is becoming increasingly unbalanced, contrary to our best interests. Our Ministers and diplomats have [1126] no mandate to concede our neutrality, to which the vast majority of our population, and our young people in particular, are keenly attached. What is being sought is the reversal of the entire timetable of European integration, the abandoning of the goal of full economic union and the putting of political co-operation and defence in their place. This is not the basis on which we entered the Community and it represents a serious reversal of thinking and an approach entirely detrimental to our interests. It must be recognised that our standing in the world will be greatly changed if we are perceived to have become de facto members of the Atlantic Alliance, and increasingly indentified with NATO decisions such as the Sinai Force.

Our ability to contribute to the UN will be prejudged thereby and also our dealings with the Arab, African and Latin American countries. It is high time that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs stated clearly and publicly what is afoot. We want to know from them if they agree with us that we should not be committed to a military engagement by stealth and that we do not approve of military decisions taken in the Community's name. Neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister for Foreign Affairs has made any public statement today on the subject or the Genscher Plan which would involve regular meetings of EEC defence Ministers. How can our partners take seriously Ireland's neutrality if we fail to defend it publicly and vigorously? I wholeheartedly support the motion.

Mr. O'Mahony: Information on  OMahony  Zoom on  OMahony  May I take the opportunity, on this first occasion when the Minister is present in his official capacity in the House, to congratulate him on two things in particular in relation to recent foreign policy developments. One was the support which he gave at the United Nations to the Franco-Mexican declaration on El Salvador. All of us concerned with the problem in El Salvador appreciated that deeply. I would like to congratulate him too as political head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, on the statement yesterday of Ambassador Dorr in relation to Southern Africa. I think [1127] both these things have been significant and they do indicate a strengthening of independence within our foreign policy which is to be welcomed.

On the question of neutrality, I must say I am not quite as clear as some previous speakers that there has been a deep-seated commitment to neutrality within the country since the foundation of the State. Certainly there have been high points when neutrality seemed to have penetrated our political consciousness to the point where policy derived directly from it, notably, as has been said, in the late 50s and perhaps during the period of the Second World War. I must say however that, particularly in the last 15 years or so I have the sense that our commitment to neutrality is heavily laden with pragmatism and does not spring from any deep conviction. I think particularly of statements made by Heads of Government over that period that a European common defence policy is not necessarily to be ruled out in the event of European political union. I think also of the statement made by the then Taoiseach, Mr. Lemass, that in some sense Irish neutrality was tradable in the context of a settlement of the Northern problem. These two positions, it seems to me, do not derive from any deep-seated conviction about neutrality but rather suggest that our neutrality is based on pragmatism and is ultimately negotiable. In this connection, I must say too that many of us have become increasingly concerned — and I look forward to hearing the Minister's comments on this—with the implications of the process of European political co-operation. For this reason our party, on several occasions in recent years, have adopted policy statements in relation to Irish neutrality in an attempt to draw public attention to the dangers involved in this process.

I wish to quote very briefly from one of these documents not simply because it is a Labour Party document, but because I think the principles which it outlines should underpin our approach to the notion of Ireland as a neutral State.

At their 1980 Annual Conference, [1128] the Labour Party adopted a resolution, proposed by our Administrative Council, which said, in summary:

Conference reaffirms Labour's traditional stance on the issue of neutrality and resolves (1) that we are committed to a neutral role for Ireland, not alone in the sense of refusal to join any military block, but in terms of an active political philosophy; (2) neutrality must be a fundamental and positive principle of Irish national and international policy; (3) the pragmatic basis of Irish neutrality should be strengthened by a firm acceptance of a nonaligned position in world politics; (4) national policy within the European Community should ensure that the process of political co-operation does not compromise a neutral Irish position on such matters as armaments, relations with the Third World, and dealing with South Africa; (5) active neutrality should imply a total commitment to peace, detente and disarmament, together with a programme of involvement in world affairs in which policy is determined independently in accordance with national needs and on the merits of the individual case.

I will just identify two aspects of the principles which should underpin our foreign policy. First, we must remain totally opposed to the idea of involvement with any military pact. Secondly, neutrality should not be seen as the adoption of a passive role in world affairs. Rather, a commitment to neutrality is a commitment to an active role in the world. It is a commitment to an independent position based on conviction and in which each individual policy issue is judged on its merits.

Were we to see our neutrality in this way—that is not just as non-involvement in military pacts but as a positive political philosophy of intervention in world affairs in pursuit of justice and peace from a position of independence without commitment to any power bloc—then I think we could play a very significant role indeed, together with Finland and Sweden and the other Nordic countries and with the non-aligned movement itself.

[1129] That is a vision of Irish foreign policy which we should seek to implement. The two matters I mentioned at the very beginning of my comments are an indication, perhaps, of movement in that direction and as such are to be welcomed. However the development of this approach to foreign policy, based on active participation in the world from a position of neutrality, is obviously going to be difficult in the period ahead. This is so, firstly, because of the growing cold war reality in which the world finds itself now. This is summed up in the following quotation from a report of the Socialist International on the question of disarmament, published in the 1981 edition of “Socialist Affairs”:

The arms race has gained a new dangerous momentum. Disarmament efforts have gradually stagnated over the last few years. Readiness to resort to force or the threat of force has dramatically increased and this has led to disastrous and dangerous local conflicts. In great-power relations mutual mistrust and accusations have become prevalent while the policy of detente has come to a halt. The growth of commercial exchanges and economic cooperation has ceased, and inequalities between and within rich and poor countries have been further accentuated. Today, at the beginning of a new decade, the danger of the escalation of a nuclear confrontation is greater than it has ever been since the Caribbean crisis in 1962.

In this situation, clearly there will be increasing pressure on us to take sides. We must resist that with all the means at our disposal. The best role for us, the one which is closest to our convictions and which pragmatically is the best one as well, is one of active neutrality.

The second obstacle to the development of this approach to foreign policy seems to lie in recent trends in the development of the process of political co-operation in the European Community. Like other speakers, I, too, am concerned about the Genscher-Columbo proposals on two grounds. First, because they are an attempt to divert the Community from the need to come to grips [1130] with the economic and social crisis which pervades Europe. This is now reasonably self-evident and we must not allow that to happen. We joined the European Community on certain conditions. We were given certain commitments on economic and social development in Europe. Progress has been lamentably poor and certain elements within the European Community establishment are now trying to divert us from those and to set us off on a different course.

The second cause of concern about the Genscher-Columbo proposals is that deep inside them — certainly at the beginning and I believe still — is a commitment to a common defence pact for Europe. Over recent weeks or months the word defence has been changed to security. I am not clear, however, what the difference between defence and security is. I suspect there is no difference. I certainly welcome the serious attempts made by the present Minister to undo the damage done by the previous Government in leading us down that path. I trust that he will disengage us entirely from this process. I recognise that this will be difficult and will take time, but it must be done.

There is, I believe, a legitimate role for us in the area of political co-operation with the European Member States in areas relating to foreign policy. For example, I personally would have no objection in principle — nor indeed would the party to which I belong — if the process of co-operation in foreign policy was concerned with aiding the implementation of the Helsinki or the Madrid Agreements or if it was to do with policies to aid Third World development. If it was to do with generally acting with other countries in the European Community on foreign policy issues in a manner not in contravention of our neutrality, then I would have no objection. For example, in relation to Southern Africa, I would see no difficulty in co-operating with the other member states in pursuit of the policy outlined by Ambassador Dorr yesterday. I do not, however, think that many of the more powerful states in the European Community would wish to have any meaningful [1131] policy in opposition to apartheid in South Africa, because they are financially heavily committed in the area.

There are, therefore, certain issues in the foreign policy area on which we could co-operate with other member states in the European Community. But we must not, however, accede to the notion of a European defence policy. That would be not only to deny our past policy, pragmatic though much of it was but to cut off the prospect of re-asserting or regaining our independent role in the world.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator has two minutes left.

Mr. O'Mahony: Information on  OMahony  Zoom on  OMahony  I would ask, therefore, in supporting this motion, that we not only stay out of military pacts but that we actively pursue a policy of positive, active and unremitting neutrality in world affairs and that we be prepared to align ourselves politically with others who are similarly committed to that kind of ideal. That is the only meaningful role for us to play and it seems to me that we should move towards it, as we seemed to be doing at one point in the late fifties. Unfortunately, that progress was rolled back subsequently.

Mr. Ross: Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  I would like to be the first person in this debate not to congratulate anybody on anything. This is not out of any disrespect for any Members of the House and their great achievements, but purely because so many congratulations have been bandied about this evening that I could not think of any new ones before I got up to speak.

There are two good reasons for neutrality which emerged from this debate. One is the very practical reason of self-preservation, that it is the best way to protect ourselves in a nuclear or war situation. The second is a much more theoretical reason — that there is a very attractive purity about the idea of neutrality. It is a very appealing idea to a small nation. I wonder, however, if we really are a neutral State. Senator O'Mahony has very eloquently mentioned the fact that, as a Member of the [1132] United Nations, we take a stand which is very anti-South Africa and, in fact, we do. If we were a truly neutral State we would be outside the United Nations. We are a member of the United Nations peacekeeping force and that, in itself, is a military pact, whether you like it or not. We are taking a stand on a political position which the United Nations have taken and we are, therefore, members of a military pact in that sense.

This debate really boils down to where we stand between the East and the West in the East-West conflict. Far be it from me to accuse Senator Murphy of having been naive in his speech, but when he said, having been in Russia, that he had seen a constant emphasis on peace, that was slightly innocent. He went on then to talk about the massive arms build-up and the rockets going through Red Square on May Day? Why on earth are those rockets going through Red Square on May Day? Are we not talking about the same country which ruthlessly invaded Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia?

Senator Murphy went on to say that he was doubtful whether those arms in Eastern Europe, which outnumber the arms in Western Europe I think by four to one, are there as an aggressive force against the West. That is naive. There is no doubt that those arms in Eastern Europe are there as an aggressive force against the West. It would be absurd to suggest that if the West disarmed, or evacuated its nuclear arms from Western Europe, it would not appeal to Russia to move in. The Soviet is committed to the spread of international Communism. Whether it is a good or a bad thing is not the point of this debate. It is committed to that and to world conquest for Communism as its ultimate purpose. It is absurd to say that they are not an aggressive force, in the light of their recent actions in Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan and of their enormous arms build-up in Eastern Europe which far outnumbers anything the West can produce there.

The cynics would say that we are a very small country and that possibly we do not need a foreign policy at all, that it is unnecessary for a country as insignificant as ours on the world stage to have a [1133] foreign policy simply because nobody is going to take any notice of it. That is not true, but there is a great danger that if we take the neutral position, a position of non-commitment on issues between East and West, people will say that we have no foreign policy at all.

This afternoon, I tried to trace Ireland's foreign policy since the beginning of the State and it was very difficult to find any consistent trend in it. There is a sort of pragmatic neutrality with a significant voice and an emphasis on the United Nations. Even in the United Nations, which was a more significant body about 12 years ago than it is now, could the Minister tell us — although it possibly is a secret ballot — whether, in the vote for Secretary-General, we recently took our neutrality to the extent, as reported in many newspapers, that we voted for both candidates consistently?

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  Very interesting to hear.

Mr. Ross: Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  When we talk about a military pact, there are only four candidates with whom we can make a real military pact. There are the Soviet Union, NATO, the UK and Europe. The reality, although we are not members of NATO, is that we are a capitalist country. We are probably a moderately non-anti-communist country. All our sentiments and all our history intertwine us with the US, with Great Britain and with Europe by trade, by idealogy and by tradition. It is no coincidence that a Russian Embassy was allowed here only recently and only on very strict terms by the last Coalition Government, so let us rule out the Soviets. We are not going to become part of the Warsaw Pact. There is the possibility with NATO and a possibility of a military pact with the UK.

The basic idea of the EEC was not the creation of a trade pact between the countries: it was that it should become a political and a defence union. Most enthusiasts for the EEC — those who believe in the idealogy and the basic thinking behind the EEC — seek total unity of the EEC. That would of course mean ultimately a defence pact, and very [1134] many eminent leading Europeans at the moment believe that a European defence pact is really the raison d'etre of the EEC, not a trade pact and not the EMS. It is no coincidence — and points to our almost unalterable connection with Britain in terms of trade — that we did not enter the EEC until Britain entered it.

The issue in this debate will remain unresolved. There is a grave danger that if we remain neutral and if a war situation arises that we will become a battleground, that we will be invaded by someone, being helpless against invasion in a situation like that, and that another country will try to protect us. That is not what we want. In some ways it might be much better for us to join a major situation whereby an attack on us would be an attack on America. The only justification for no military pact, in summary, is that we should remain in the lucky situation in which we have been for many years now — under the umbrella of NATO, because of our obvious western sympathies and because of our geographical position, but not having to make such a commitment. We are in a lucky situation, we have the best of both worlds and long may it last.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Professor Dooge): Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  I welcome the opportunity presented by this debate to set out the Government's policy in regard to non-membership in military alliances and to hear the views of the Seanad on this topic. At the outset, I assure the proposer of the motion that it is not the intention of the Government to join any military pact. Successive Irish Governments have taken the view that non-membership of military alliances is in Ireland's interest, and that view is shared entirely by this Government.

This Government in the programme published before they took office stated clearly that they, and I am quoting directly, “will preserve Ireland's neutrality outside all military alliance”. Our Constitution affirms Ireland's sovereign right to determine its relations with other nations and our dedication to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation among the nations. I think it is no harm to quote [1135] here the words in which our fundamental law states the position. Article 1 of the Constitution states:

The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.

In more detail and more specifically, Article 29 states:

Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.

Successive Governments have taken the view that these provisions of the Constitution can best be realised by remaining outside military alliances and by making our contribution to peace and friendly co-operation among the nations by political action. We make these efforts, sometimes unilaterally, sometimes in co-operation with our partners in the European Community and sometimes in the multilateral activities of the United Nations, including its peace keeping operations. All of these efforts are consistent with fulfilment of the goals for Irish foreign policy set out in the Constitution.

Of course, we cannot pursue our foreign relations as if we were immune from the tensions affecting neighbouring states in our region and in the world at large. As Senator Murphy when introducing this debate pointed out, these tensions are increasing. We cannot be indifferent to world problems which affect all countries. We share with a number of other countries a basic commitment to democratic values, concepts of human rights and an appreciation of freedom of thought, belief and expression. Our membership of the European Community reflects this common heritage of principles and ideals as well as the belief in the shared destiny of the member states. These, together with our, economic interests are the basis of our treaty links with our partners in the EEC.

Inevitably instability in various parts of [1136] the world which could have a serious effect on the economic well being of the Community is a matter of concern for us as a member of that Community. Ireland participates actively with its partners in European Political Co-operation with a view to working out common approaches to major international questions, such as the Middle East or Southern Africa. While these activities have been valuable in themselves and have enhanced the impact of Irish diplomacy, we continue to pursue our own specific foreign policy concerns: we continue to follow in the UN and other international fora, policies which we believe right and in the best interests of Ireland as well as the other states which share our values.

In the case of a state like Ireland which is not a member of an alliance, diplomatic activities in pursuit of foreign policy concerns need to be distinguished clearly from the military problems of how to provide for our national defence. We would prefer that the security of states in Europe and elsewhere could be guaranteed on the basis of mutual good faith and the exchange of assurances, but this is far from corresponding with the realities of the world today. Many countries have decided that it is in their interest to combine in military arrangements to protect themselves against the danger of attack or to deter potential aggressors.

The Charter of the United Nations recognises the right of member states to individual and collective self-defence and allows for the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with matters relating to international peace and security. However, the Government believe that Ireland's interests and the general interest are better served by our remaining outside the existing system of military pacts. Moreover as a number of Senators have pointed out in the course of this debate, Senators Cogan and McGuinness particularly, the fact that we are known not to be members of a military alliance, combined with our historical background, tends to enhance our acceptability among the Third World countries and our understanding of their concerns. This can be beneficial to the [1137] relationships between these countries, not only Ireland but the EEC as a whole.

Our involvement in UN peace keeping operations in various parts of the world has been referred to—the Middle East, the Congo, Cyprus, West Irian and the India-Pakistan border. In all these and other instances we have been able to make a contribution to the resolution of dangerous international conflicts and tensions.

In addition since we joined the United Nations we have taken a prominent role in the various disarmament debates and we have been associated with a number of important resolutions which advocate concrete and practical measures of disarmament. The most obvious measure which springs to mind being the Irish resolution which led to the Nuclear nonproliferation Treaty. We have also been among the authors of several other major resolutions on subjects such as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Convention Prohibiting Chemical Weapons, the Cessation of the Production of materials for nuclear weapons, the reduction of military budgets and the prohibition of inhumane weapons.

Senator Murphy pointed out, and I agree with him, that particularly in the year of our membership of the Security Council we have had world responsibility in regard to disarmament. I assure him that we take this responsibility very seriously. In my own address to the General Assembly of the United Nations the portion of my speech on disarmament made our position in this regard very clear. In it I spoke on the fact that things had deteriorated, rather than improved in the 12 months since the last General Assembly. It is perhaps a reflection of our concern that, except for the section of my speech dealing with Northern Ireland, this was longer than the section on any other topic. Ireland's experience has shown how a country that remains outside military alliances can make a worthwhile contribution to maintaining international peace.

A number of Senators have said that there seem to be pressures in regard to our stance in this respect. Senator Murphy said that in the EEC there appears [1138] to be pressure to conform, and Senator O'Mahony said he was worried about the implications of European Political Co-operation. It is, I think, as well that I should deal with these points in some detail in this debate even though I have been able to give you an assurance in regard to the Government's position in regard to the wider issue being discussed.

Senator Cogan was rather critical of me. He said that I had distorted the position of Fianna Fáil in the EEC in regard to neutrality and he derided me as a great producer of smoke screens, in this regard. He also suggested that I have been responsible in some way for the creation of confusion. From my point of view, I have been very much concerned with the removal of confusion. In this connection I think a great step forward was the fact that following the discussion at Brockett Hall and the subsequent London meeting, the agreed report on European Political Co-operation was published. For the first time there was a statement, a document which is in the Oireachtas Library. Any Member of this House can go to the Oireachtas Library and read there in an official document what it is all about.

There have been attempts to present what was agreed to in London last October as acceptance by this Government of a new dimension of discussion in European Political Co-operation which either in the short term or in a longer term would involve us in defence arrangements and thus be prejudicial to Ireland's military neutrality. The Taoiseach has endeavoured to make it clear that this is not the case, and I am glad that in this debate I can also attempt to make the matter less confused.

Ireland first became involved in European Political Co-operation on its accession to membership of the Community in January 1973. In the intervening period, under successive Governments, discussions on political co-operation have touched on such matters as disarmament issues of the United Nations, the Conference on European Security and Co-operation which is currently taking place in Madrid, and problems such as Southern Africa mentioned by Senator O'Mahony [1139] and Afghanistan which has been mentioned by a number of other Senators.

The London Report deals primarily with practical steps which were designed to improve the operation of this system and to enhance its ability to respond to crises situations, to make the whole process more efficient. These steps, of course, are largely of a procedural or administrative nature. This was prefaced by an introductory part of the report, by a reaffirmation of the commitment of the member states to political co-operation, involving not a new departure but a reaffirmation of their undertaking to consult one another before making a final decision on seeking the common ground where common ground existed, and where concensus is not possible acting according to their own foreign policies. In regard to security the relevant paragraph reads as follows:

As regards the scope of European Political Co-operation, and having regard to the different situations of the Member States the Foreign Ministers agree to maintain the flexible and pragmatic approach which has made it possible to discuss in political co-operation certain important foreign policy questions bearing on political aspects of this security.

I should like to draw the attention of Senators to some of the wording of this passage. First, it makes it clear in a manner acceptable to us the sort of foreign policy questions with security implications that may be discussed. I congratulate Senator O'Mahony on his own definition of political aspects of security. He prefaced his remarks by saying that it is difficult to distinguish between the political and the military aspects, but he did it very well.

He dealt with disarmament, the question of the Helsinki process and the follow-up of Helsinki, questions on the stability, or rather the instability of Southern Africa, the instability of the Middle East. These are all political aspects of security that affect the Community. These matters do not touch on the military aspects of security. For our [1140] nine partners they are matters for NATO.

Second, the paragraph refers to “the different situations of the member states”. It clearly implies that the specific circumstances of each partner will be taken into account in these discussions. There are differences within the Ten, of course. France and Britain are nuclear powers and the others are not. We are not a member of an alliance and the other nine are.

The third point is that it is quite clear that the report does not seek to expand the scope of European Political Co-operation but rather to maintain and to write down and publish what has been the practice for a number of years. As I have already stated, the member states have discussed a range of subjects relating to UN disarmament, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. These relate to political aspects. The wording of the London Report does not include any undertaking or understanding that would involve Ireland in a defence commitment or in military or defence questions as such. I would like to say here that I think that the publication of this report has been most valuable. If people feel that there is any endangerment of our neutrality by EPC I can assure them that the London Report corresponds to EPC practice and that there is no change on the basis of that report.

There was a specific question that Senator Murphy asked me and I would like to give a specific answer. He asked whether we are committed to go to the defence of one of our EEC partners who comes under attack. My answer is as follows. Unlike those EEC members who are also members of NATO and who are obliged by the NATO Treaty to consider an attack on any NATO member as an attack on themselves. Ireland is under no such obligation. Ireland is not committed and this Government do not feel committed to act in the way referred to by Senator Murphy.

A number of Senators have raised the point of the effect of the Genscher-Colombo initiative. Is it an example of the type of pressure Senator Murphy referred to in the opening of the debate? [1141] Is it going to lead to a pressure that we cannot withstand, which will push us in the particular direction of defence commitments?

The first thing I should like to say is that the discussion of that initiative within the Community is only now beginning. Herr Genscher has been making speeches since the beginning of the year on this topic but the actual proposal for a new European Act was only launched the week before last. It was mentioned at the Foreign Ministers' meeting; it was also the subject of an address to the European Parliament and it was mentioned at the Heads of Government meeting last week. But these proposals of Mr. Genscher and Mr. Colombo for a major advance towards European Union have been widely publicised. They would involve, if they were adopted in toto, the extension of the present inter-governmental system of political co-operation to cover matters relating to security and culture and some legal questions in the member states. There are other aspects of the initiative but we are not concerned with them in this debate.

The argument has been put forward that in the present climate of severe problems with the Community and deteriorating international relations, a new act of political will is required on the part of the members of the Community to provide the impetus for further progress towards European Union. This is the argument in favour of the new initiative. That the Community has experienced severe problems is evident but we have to ask whether developing new inter-governmental structures as against building on the foundations established by the Treaties of Paris and Rome is the best approach towards resolving these problems. The attitude of this Government is quite clear: we wish to build on the Treaty foundations. Senator O'Mahony has said that this is the way in which we should go. If there is to be a parallel in development between development under the Treaty and more informal development such as occurred in European Political Co-operation, then certainly the non-Treaty side should not outrun or outstrip the development under the Treaty. However, [1142] we are prepared to examine these proposals put forward, now formally, by the Federal Republic of Germany and by Italy, and we will be doing so in the coming months. I hope to be able to report more fully on the proposals and what happens to them in a future debate as part of the periodic reports on our membership of the European Community.

I should like to deal with one point specifically made by Senator Cogan. He seemed to feel that I have been guilty of some dereliction of duty in not having spoken on the Genscher initiative and he seemed to accuse me of having accepted that there should be a meeting of Defence Ministers. I want to say that I have spoken in regard to Herr Genscher's early speeches on this initiative. I spoke a few weeks ago here in Dublin to a meeting of the Young Federalists and I spoke then of our concern about the direction in which movement forward should go. In regard to the possible meetings of Defence Ministers, the position is that, at the first opportunity which was the meeting at Brockett Hall I spoke with my colleagues on this topic and said clearly, without the slightest equivocation, that as far as we are concerned there can be no meeting of Defence Ministers within the EEC framework or within European Political Co-operation. I say that categorically now. Though that was a private meeting, my statement in this regard was leaked to the press by one of my colleagues so it is now public property. I have made it absolutely clear that this is something which we feel would be going beyond the bounds of the political aspects of security. One must recognise that it must be difficult at times for our partners to see this boundary as clearly as we do because of their dual membership of the Community and the alliance. We must allow for the fact that if we are subject to some pressures now and then, they are not all deliberate pressures, that some of them are inadvertent.

There is the question which arises from time to time and which Senator Murphy touched on — perhaps this is the position at the moment but what is to happen in the final analysis: what would be the [1143] situation in regard to defence on the completion of European Union? On present indications the development of European integration to a stage where questions of common defence might arise for discussion is unlikely to be realised in the foreseeable future. In any case, apart from Ireland's position, it is not certain that all the other European Community member states would be willing, even in the context of a Europe which has achieved full economic and political integration, to commit themselves fully to a separate European defence system if this appears likely to interfere with their existing ties in the Atlantic Alliance and the security which these ties afford them. In practice, therefore, the situation in which we would be asked to enter into a joint defence commitment with our partners, is unlikely to arise in any concrete form and in the present circumstances the question is hypothetical.

Senator Murphy instances as one of the directions of pressure in regard to our neutrality, Anglo-Irish relations. This is a question that has been raised from time to time, whether we would be prepared to contemplate a defence arrangement with the United Kingdom in return for changes in that country's policy in regard to Northern Ireland which would facilitate the re-unification of Ireland. I certainly do not want to accuse Senator Murphy of misunderstanding the situation in Northern Ireland but the way in which this question is often posed indicates a misunderstanding of what the fundamental problem in Northern Ireland is. The basic requirement in that situation is that we in this part of Ireland should work to bring about the consent of a majority in the North to re-unification in whatever form it might be agreed on. Without such consent re-unification would bring its own serious problems springing from the disaffection of the present Northern majority. To speak of our neutrality as something which could be traded for action by the United Kingdom in regard to Northern Ireland, is to miss the essence of the problem as we now see it more clearly. Such an attitude belongs to Senator Murphy's own subject of history.

[1144] I should like to make one last point in regard to a point that came up in the debate, and that is in regard to the question of the Sinai force. Senator Cogan here seems to be accusing me of supporting a NATO decision in relation to the Sinai force. I want to make it quite clear that the agreement of four European countries to take part in the Sinai peacekeeping force was not NATO's decision but a decision of those four countries, a decision taken under the procedure of European Political Co-operation after consultation with their fellow members of the Ten. I want to stress that this is a peacekeeping force. The attempts to have a UN peacekeeping force in regard to the Sinai evacuation failed because it was considered that it would inevitably attract a Soviet veto in the Security Council. The only role which the other Community members have in regard to this force was that they confirmed in consultation that helping by providing men or supplies for the peacekeeping force in the Sinai and so aiding the evacuation of the Sinai was entirely compatible with the Community policy which had been declared at Venice under the previous administration. I think Senators have all read in the newspapers about the difficulties which arose because the Community and the four members of the Community concerned were insisting that they had a policy and that they were going to stick to it.

I hope I have covered the points which have arisen and I hope that what I have said has been of assistance to Members of the House. I conclude by repeating the basic position that, while we accept that our place in the world is among the democracies whose values we share, it does not necessarily follow that this fact or our interests logically require membership in a military pact. Our interests and the general interest, we believe are better served by remaining outside military alliances and making our contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security through our contribution to the work of the United Nations both in their deliberations at various [1145] committees and in their peacekeeping operations.

I should like to conclude by expressing my gratitude for the opportunity which this motion affords to set out the Government's position on this important question and to assure the Seanad that it is not the intention of the Government to seek or to accept membership for Ireland in any military pact.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  I should like to support this motion. Fianna Fáil's view in relation to neutrality and military pacts is well known, and certainly should be well known. Neutrality achieved its most difficult and most successful realisation during World War II. This, of course, was Fianna Fáil policy, the policy of Mr. de Valera, and it was not merely a policy concept but one which was realised and implemented very successfully indeed. There has been no significant change in Fianna Fáil policy since that time.

When we joined the European Community some years ago we made it clear right through the campaign that there would be no military commitment. If there had been a military commitment I do not think Fianna Fáil would have supported joining the European Community. Since that time we have declined to join NATO and have rejected any effort to join NATO through the back door, or to become a member of any kind of a military pact or military understanding which would be another way of becoming associated with NATO.

There have been moves afoot in the European Community in recent months which have given rise to considerable apprehension. The Minister has had an opportunity to deal with this and he has clarified the position to a considerable extent. He has made it clear that it is not the intention of the Government to become a member of a military pact, or to become associated in some roundabout way. That is his position at the moment but it is not the end of the matter.

It appears that there are serious intentions on the part of some members of the Community to have some kind of pact dealing with security, defence and military [1146] affairs. It looks as though it is going to be persisted in and it would be necessary not merely to have the good intention to remain out of such an arrangement, but also to have the determination, no matter how hard this idea is pressed, not to be involved in any way. I hope the Government will be as determined and as forthright as the Fianna Fáil Government were in rejecting any kind of alliance or any kind of association of that kind.

The Minister dealt with the question of what our position would be in a united Europe, whether in such a situation we would have to join some kind of a military alliance. It is true to say that, if there was a united Europe, it would be difficult to remain entirely unconcerned or unaligned from the military point of view. That is, of course, a very long distance away. It is doubtful that we will ever have a united Europe in the way which was conceived some years ago and consequently we do not have to worry about it at this time.

In any event, if there were a question of a united Europe, it could not be implemented as far as this country is concerned without a referendum when the people would have an opportunity to weigh up the pros and cons and the cost which might have to be paid if we were to join a united Europe — the cost in the sense of involving ourselves in a military commitment.

I have no doubt at present that we should not join any kind of military pact. I have no doubt that we should refuse completely to allow our territory to be used in any way by any foreign power, or by any member of the European Community. The further build-up of armaments and the deployment of existing armaments merely lead to further tensions and merely make more likely the event of a Third World War. There can be no doubt whatever that there should be no question of this country becoming involved in any military pact.

I do not believe that either the United States or the USSR want war or are willing to risk war merely to enlarge their territories or their spheres of influence. Their activities in recent years, their [1147] adventures such as the invasion of Afghanistan, were basically defensive measures, no matter how offensive they were, or how offensive they were from the point of view of our conception of neutrality and of peace. It was, I think — and perhaps I am giving the benefit of the doubt to them; perhaps I am being too naive — merely a strategy to defend themselves, to deploy their defensive weapons so as to deter the other power.

If both the United States and the USSR were in some way able to know what was in the mind of the other power and realise that neither power intended to actually start a war, the danger would pass and their would be a great relaxation of tension in the world. Whatever their intentions may be, we certainly have no part in the build up that appears to be taking place at the moment and the effort to deploy weapons in further territories. It certainly would not serve our purpose, or serve our interests. I do not think our involvement would serve the world interest, the interest of peace in the world, in so far as our decision one way or another would have any significant effect.

By remaining out of all such pacts and by retaining our role as an independent and neutral State, we can best serve the interests of world peace, as well as our own interests. In fact, as previous speakers have said, we have already played a relatively important part in the past because of the fact that we are a neutral State.

I am happy to note the trend in Europe at present, the refusal of the people from various countries to allow further missile bases to be built on their territory. This is a very healthy sign, a good sign. I hope it will grow. If this attitude continues and grows, it will certainly be a great help in achieving disarmamant and in helping the talks which are taking place at present between Russia and the United States.

Finally I should like to deal with one point to which the Minister referred, that is in relation to Northern Ireland. He shrugged off this question a little too easily. Whereas I do not believe that defence, or militarty pacts, or anything of that nature, go to the basis of the [1148] difficulties we have to face in Northern Ireland, it is conceivable that at some future time when some kind of agreement may be possible in the North of Ireland, when some kind of agreement between the North, ourselves and Britain will be arriving at fruition, the question of some kind of military pact in relation to the North would be a condition of withdrawal by the British Government, and we would then have to face a very difficult decision indeed. However, it may never occur and we do not have to make any such decisions at this time, but it is something that we should think about because it may arise in the futuire. I conclude by welcoming this motion and by completely supporting it.

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  Like other speakers I welcome this debate this evening for two reasons. First, the subject is of great importance for a small independent State. Secondly it is a subject around which a great deal of misinformation, myth and mystery have grown up over the past couple of years. We have had a chance this evening to hear from the Minister a clear re-statement of our position on neutrality. Much of the confusion of the past couple of months has been cleared up by as fine a statement of Ireland's position as I have ever heard.

It is clear that the mood of the country is strongly against any significant change, probably against any change, in our present position. In a strange way, the whole question of neutrality has become for some people a matter of central importance. For some people it has become one of the fundamental principles of sovereignty. For some of these people, the neutralists of the strict observance as I will call them, even to discuss the matter becomes at times something akin to treason. Any indication of a weakening of strict observance leads to attacks bordering on hysteria. For that reason it was useful this evening to have a fair and sophisticated exposition of what is actually happening both in relation to NATO, which means that nothing is happening, and on the question of European political co-operation.

I support our present policy, but I do [1149] so for one reason only. It is the policy which best serves our national interests at this point in our history. That was the reason why this policy was adopted in the first place. When we adopted neutrality we did not do so for philosophical or ideological reasons. We did it for reasons of national interest and survival. I want to take issue with those who equate neutrality with sovereignty, and they are a significant number in our community. I do not see any alignment, be it military or political, as in any sense an infringement on our sovereignty. It is precisely because the member states of NATO are sovereign that they can enter into and withdraw freely from this type of alliance. They can do this when they feel it is in their interests to do so. If it was not in their interests they obviously would not have joined in the first place.

The right to choose to align ourselves or not to align ourselves is the fundamental aspect of sovereignty. The ceding of neutrality, should we do so — and I do not think we will — would in fact be an exercise of that self-same sovereignty. The questions we must ask this evening, in the very short time available, are why we adopted the policy and has it served us well? Is it still the best policy in present circumstances?

It is important to remember why we adopted a policy of neutrality in the first place. It was not because we were neutral in terms of ideology on the great questions of fascism, or communism, or parliamentary democracy in the thirties. There was no question of that. We adopted our policies because, in Mr. de Valera's cool, rational, assessment it was in our best interests at that time. Our survival lay in adopting that policy. It was a gamble and it worked. It worked in part because our neutrality was not pure neutrality. Our neutrality was certainly slanted very much in favour of the Allies in day to day activities. It was partly because of this, and only a small part, that we managed to survive the trauma and the ordeal of war.

After the war there was a very perceptible change in attitude. Now neutrality became a pawn in the Partition game. It was seen as a means to put pressure on [1150] Britain, or at least as a possible bargaining point at some future date. This seems to have surfaced last year in Deputy Haughey's Anglo-Irish Summit with Mrs. Thatcher. In the forties and fifties, as Senator Murphy mentioned, it was argued that we could not enter any alliance with Great Britain as long as Partition remained. In other words, our neutrality was seen as practical rather than principle. This can be seen very clearly, for example, when Mr. Seán MacBride, as Minister for External Affairs, talked to the US Ambassador and to high US officials about his willingness to establish a bilateral defence treaty between the US and Ireland. In other words, we were not against alignment. We were against alignment with Great Britain.

Of course since we entered the European Community the whole question has been raised to a new level of intensity. Those who support neutrality have made this a central issue in our policy, but often in a way which is not particularly clear. While not doubting the motives of those who support a strong position on neutrality, it is significant that many who are strongest in their support of a very hard line on neutrality are also strongest in opposition to the European Community. They are the same people who, for totally bona fide reasons, argued against going in.

The other group among those who are strict observers of neutrality are the pacifists in our midst. As Senator Murphy said, it would indeed be a saner world if those people who are marching on the streets against nuclear weapons and for peace were in the majority and, perhaps, in the seats of power. In fact people who argue that if we stay out of a military alliance we will not be involved in judicial war may be right — that if we do not have armies we will not have wars. It is a pity, however, that the realities are slightly different. In fact, if we were serious about being non-aligned, if we were serious about military neutrality, unfortunately we would have to spend a far greater proportion of our GNP on our own defence, as do the seriously neutral non-aligned countries like Sweden and Switzerland. The third group of those [1151] who favour strong neutrality are those like Senator O'Mahony who spoke in a very moving and idealistic way this evening about the benefits of a strong and positive position on neutrality, as did Senator Murphy, Senator Hussey and many other Senators.

I know other Senators want to speak. I will sum up by saying that I believe that we should support the present policy because it has served us well, although at times it may have given us a sense of smugness and heightened our sense of isolation. Our policy should remain based on the principle which served it when we adopted it. It was a question of adopting a policy which best served our national interest. We have to use our common sense on the full question of the military alignment. For example, if in the future the question arises of having our offshore oil rigs protected if we have not got the resources to do so in the context of possible terrorist attacks, should we refuse to use the resources of our European neighbours and friends? It may be a question of looking after our fisheries, although that is not the major problem at the moment. These question may well arise and may well mean some weakening of strict military non-alignment.

I will conclude by saying that our policy has served us well. It is one we should continue. I would strongly counsel against a strict application of this policy as being one for all times. We can use it as a strong bargaining position to strengthen that neutrality which the Minister outlined and which has served us well.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  The motion as it stands does not deal in actual fact with neutrality. It deals specifically with the question of whether we will or will not join a military pact. There is a substantive difference between the argument on neutrality and the argument about joining a military pact. It is appropriate that this motion should come before the House at a time when there has been an amount of talk in the European Community about some countries joining a military force which together with 1,214 members of [1152] the American forces will go into the Sinai on April 2 when the Israelis are reported to be moving out. It is essential that we reiterate our total opposition to the EEC as a whole, or member states of the EEC joining a force which is going into the Middle East as part basically of the Camp David Agreement. France, Italy, Holland and Britain are to support a force from America in going into the Sinai on April 2 if the Israelis withdraw.

If those countries wanted to join a peacekeeping force of any description they would have been better off to do so on an individual basis rather than bringing it into the area of the EEC where we are involved. Not alone are we involved in the EEC, but we are also involved in the UNIFIL forces. There can be a conflict as to whether or not we are involved in this particular force because we are a member of UNIFIL and we want to protect our position vis-á-vis peacekeeping forces all over the world, but the fact is that we are not a member of NATO.

Professor Dooge: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Could I inform the Senator that it would be legally impossible for us? We are entitled only to send our forces abroad on UN peacekeeping.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  Yes, but we are a member of the EEC. The debate on the forces to go to the Sinai took place within the EEC. We are not a member of NATO. Those countries are. We must protect our situation. We must not get involved in any such force. The nations going in as part of the Sinai peacekeeping force are ill-advised in the sense that two of the countries involved have already been in that area of the Middle East as rulers of that area, Britain and France. To think they can go in there as a peacekeeping force is ludicrous.

The situation in the Middle East is a difficult one. We must retain our non-involvement except in peace keeping, and we must try to persuade other nations not to get involved. I sincerely hope that on April 2 there will be a withdrawal from the Sinai. I hope the force which goes in there will be a UN force rather than a makeshift arrangement between [1153] the United States and these four European countries.

We are in a difficult situation here. What is neutrality? We cannot be neutral on aspects of international politics, as has been said by Senator Manning, if the situation arises when we get oil we have to protect it and if we cannot protect it we will have to bring in somebody else. I do not think we should get involved in an alliance. We should use the United Nations. It has been proved that the United Nations force is an effective force. If we need protection the UN should be brought in.

Nobody in this House would disagree with the wording of this motion. I sincerely hope nobody would disagree with it. The Americans have a vested interest in the Middle East and that is why we are getting involved in this discussion. Their vested interest as they see it is to protect Israel. That interest is created by the huge Zionist lobby in America, rather than the actual situation vis-à-vis America and Israel. There is no doubt the Zionist lobby in America is dictating American policy on the Middle East. It has been suggested that by sending AWACs to Saudi Arabia they are changing their attitude. They are sending AWACs to Saudi Arabia to increase——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  The Chair would prefer if the Senator would deal with the motion. It is all right to make a fleeting reference to international affairs, but the Senator should relate his remarks to the motion before the House.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  I suggest we as a nation agree totally with this motion. If we reaffirm our commitment to the UNIFIL forces our standing as a nation which is not neutral but can go into a particular situation and provide a buffer will be maintained. We should try to stop member states of the EEC from getting involved in any alignment of a military nature except under the aegis of the United Nations. It is ill-advised for member states of the EEC to get involved in the situation in the Middle East. It is even more ill-advised when two of the countries [1154] involved ruled that area for many years and ruled it very badly.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  It had not been my intention to intervene in this debate because I felt that the movers of the motion, Senators Murphy and McGuinness, had ably put the case for an unequivocal declaration by the Government about our not joining a military pact. I felt that the Minister in his reply dealt with the spirit of the movers of the motion, the concern that they expressed, and the removal of doubts in people's minds, if there were any. Apparently there were some doubts in people's minds, or some grey area. Such doubts will have been removed by the Minister's reply.

I fail to understand the content of Senator Lanigan's contribution. It was not compatible with the Minister's response to the motion. Senator Lanigan contended that there was a fundamental difference between a military pact and neutrality. No two matters are so closely related as those. Senator Lanigan should realise that one cannot enter into a military pact without affecting one's neutrality and one cannot remain neutral and enter into a military pact.

Entry into the EEC, as we know, aroused certain elements of doubt into people's minds especially peace-loving people, pacifists and others who opposed entry — particularly those who were worried about the sovereignty of their country — because they felt that entry into the European Community might involve some semblance of a hidden allegiance to NATO. It was refreshing today to hear the Minister state categorically that he has conceded no such undertaking, that he has defended that fact that Ministers for Defence of the European Community shall not meet. Senator O'Mahony has articulated our standpoint on this from a Labour Party point of view. We have discussed our neutral stand throughout Europe with our Socialist colleagues in the Community, indeed worldwide with the Socialist International. Our stand is like that of the Government, unequivocal. The contribution of Senator E. Ryan whose views I respect, worried me further because underlying his statement [1155] that there was absolutely no doubt where Fianna Fáil stood, I sensed that that statement indicated that at some future stage in our evolution — in Europe or in any other political alliance throughout the world — possibly a time might come when this whole question of our neutrality would be subjected to a change of policy or to a referendum if our constitutional situation was questioned. I hope, when I read his contribution in the records of this debate, I will be proved wrong in this.

In the beginning he confirmed their stand and then went on to elaborate on it. I got the feeling that at some future date it might be possible that Fianna Fáil would take a different stand. That would be unwelcome. I hope Senator E. Ryan did not mean that. Indeed, that was the only reason for my intervention. I felt the Minister had dealt adequately with the spirit of the motion, that he had clarified or abolished any anomalies that had arisen from this debate that has continued in this country for most of this year. During the general election at a meeting in Killarney of the Socialist group people expressed concern there about a commitment of a former Minister for Foreign Affairs. We were at pains to try to point out that we felt they were worried unduly about certain interpretations of a previous Minister because none of us questioned Ireland's neutrality. I am glad that the Minister has confirmed today that we stand squarely behind the spirit of this motion. I compliment both Senators for having given the Minister an opportunity to respond positively to this motion.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  The Chair has some 12 minutes left. Two Senators have been offering, Senators Whitaker and Brendan Ryan. Perhaps we could have an accommodation between them.

Dr. Whitaker: Information on Thomas K Whitaker  Zoom on Thomas K Whitaker  Perhaps we could have an accommodation with the House because this first opportunity to take part in a Private Members' motion emphasises the point I made when we discussed the Private Motion resolution the other day, namely, that it very often happens that those who wish to make a contribution [1156] find themselves — particularly Independent backbenchers — at the end of the day constricted as to the amount of time available. I was assured that would not be allowed to happen.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  The Chair is quite aware of that but it is really a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. The Chair's only position now is to suggest that the ten minutes left before the Chair must call on Senator Murphy or his nominee to reply might possibly be divided or else, since the debate moves backwards and forwards, the Chair would have to call on Senator B. Ryan.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  On a point of further information, so to speak, is it not true that the House has no further business when this item is concluded and that, therefore, adherence to a strict time period is more in accordance with the letter than the spirit of the law?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  The Standing Orders provide for a three hour debate and the Chair must comply with the Standing Orders. On the other hand, the House can take another decision, but that is a matter for the House. The Chair is concerned only with seeing that the Standing Orders are upheld.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  If it is in order for a Member of the House to suggest an extension of the period I would so suggest that we make a suitable extension to cover the needs of subsequent speakers, say half-an-hour or so, if that is possible.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  We cannot waste time on procedural debate like this.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  We would agree on this side of the House that the facility should be afforded to everybody and that the time should be extended. The Minister apparently is available to remain with us. It would be a pity if the debate were curtailed so I move that the House sit for a further 30 minutes to facilitate Senators.

[1157]Mrs. Honan: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  From this side of the House I would be in agreement with Senator Ferris.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  Could the Chair have an indication of how many wish to offer? Two. Is it agreed that the Chair accommodate the two speakers wishing to offer? Yes. Then I call Senator Brendan Ryan.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Liam B Ryan  Zoom on Liam B Ryan  I should like to put it on the record that I would have been quite happy to accommodate Senator Whitaker. I am even happier now that I can hear him in full and perhaps make my own contribution.

I am particularly happy that, in a debate on our possible links in the future, or rumours of links with military pacts, there has been clear political progress made in this country in the perception of our role and position in the world. I well remember ten or 12 years ago, on many successive Saturdays, participating in many great and small marches to the American Embassy to protest about the war in Vietnam and being criticised — not directly personally but by implication — as a Communist sympathiser because it was not understood that that was really a crusade against Communism. I was much happier to see the much more objective, detached and balanced view that we have on a similar attempt by the United States in El Salvador. Therefore I feel happy that some people like myself, Senator Quinn, Senator O'Mahony and indeed many others, perhaps contributed in some small way to political progress in this country by, shall we call them, extra curricular activities on those occasions.

This question of military pacts presupposes that there is some benefit in militarism at present. I am not too sure, given the capacity for mutual destruction that the world now possesses, that there is any great difference whether you are in a military pact and therefore destroyed or outside a military pact and therefore destroyed. Whichever way it goes, if we have a war in the way the world is now organised what will happen to us is that we will be obliterated. There is a slight tendency, emanating particularly from [1158] the United States, to suggest that there can be winners in a nuclear war. Talk about joining military pacts and use of words, interchangeable, like “defence”, “security” and so on are not advisable. There is no such thing as “defence” in nuclear war. There is no such thing as “security” in nuclear war. Nuclear war leads to mutual and complete destruction; that is its only consequence. There will be no limited nuclear war and no survivors worth talking about. A few marginal people in the remotest areas of the United States and the Soviet Union might survive but the world as we know it will be totally obliterated. Therefore military pacts for mutual defence have a hollow ring and deserve to be examined somewhat further.

The first case to be advanced is that military expenditure is enormously wasteful expenditure. Apparently we must multiply the number of times we can destroy the world individually and collectively in order to deter others. Apparently if we can destroy the world twelve times and they can destroy it only ten times that is taken to constitute a deterrent. I think it was Kruschev who said that destroying the world once ought to be sufficient for anybody's tastes in that direction.

There is a scandalous contradiction in values in this whole area of military expenditure and military defence. We keep on talking about the problems of the world, we keep on talking about what is needed and what is necessary. At the same time we spend vast sums of money on military equipment. This sort of frightening prospect of nuclear war ought to be of greater concern to us. It saddens me that the pacifist and peace movement, so prominent and active all over western Europe, seems to be unknown and unheralded here. Possibly it is one of the unfortunate side effects of our somewhat ambivalent neutrality that our young people here do not seem to realise the prospects for this country. In many ways I wish the motion could have been worded more strongly and called upon the Government to ensure that neither in this part of the country — nor to the extent of their influence in any part of this island — would there be any [1159] nuclear missiles positioned at any stage now or in the future. We have no role to play in that new and refined form of barbarity. It is important in this whole area of neutrality and military pacts to remember something: there are no good guys in the world conflict between the super powers.

As many abominations have been committed directly or indirectly in the name of freedom by the United States and its agents as have been committed in the name of Communism by the Soviet Union and its agents. It is questionable to pretend that there are some good guys in the world on whose side we would ultimately fall if there was a conflict. In theory, democracy and freedom are obviously a better choice. But the things that have been done in the name of democracy and freedom should give us all great cause to question any possible benefit that could accrue to this country from such a military or defence alliance. The Soviet Union has invaded Czechoslovakia, Hungary and now Afghanistan. It might be as well to remember that the United States started off all this interventionism in Guatemala in 1953 and went on through Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile and El Salvador. So there are no good guys. Any pretence that there is one side that we might possibly lean towards as distinct from another is not realistic. We ought to educate ourselves further.

All this talk about militarism and military blocs fosters a kind of simplistic idea. There is a good case, with respect to Senator Manning, to be made for pacifism. There is a good case to be made that the whole attitude to war and warfare reflects an inadequcy in our social development which ought to be challenged fundamentally and not by the sort of goodwill that we normally hear expressed, that we will abolish arms if the other side do. Somebody has to challenge that vicious cycle of armaments and further armaments until somebody else is better than us.

There is a good case to be made, for instance, for unilateral nuclear disarmament. There is no case for our pretending that we can link up with some sort of [1160] European security or defence with our EEC partners at some hypothetical day in the future when we agree with them on these issues. We seem to be moving in that direction. I understand, for instance, that we still recognise the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, or Kampuchea, the regime which was guilty of the most appalling genocide since Hitler. Because of some technicality to do with the sort of issue that we often can ignore — because we did not like the way the Government was got rid of — we still recognise the most appalling genocidal regime in south east Asia. Perhaps we do not. I am subject to correction by the Minister. Will the Minister correct me?

Professor Dooge: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  The position is that in regard to the voting we have abstained on this issue. We do not conceal our views about the regime of Pol Pot but equally the succeeding regime is based on invasion by force. We approve of neither.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Liam B Ryan  Zoom on Liam B Ryan  I thank the Minister. Obviously I would be out of order engaging in a dialogue with the Minister.

I should like to place on record a couple of simple facts. One is that what the world spends on armaments in two weeks would feed, clothe, house and provide medical supplies for all the world's poor. That is an important thing. All the world's poor include — and I am quoting here from President Fidel Castro, the President of the People's Republic of Cuba — 570 million who are under-nourished, 800 million illiterate adults, 1.5 billion who are totally lacking in medical care, 1.3 billion who have an annual income of under $90 and 1.7 billion who have under 60 years of life expectancy; children who are not attending schools 250 million, unemployed 1,000 billion. They are the people the world could provide for if armaments no longer existed. They are the people to whom we should be directing our objectives. Even though we ought to be neutral between the two great super powers, we ought not to be neutral on the fundamental issues of the world. We ought to be positively on the side of the Third World, positively on the side of the oppressed, positively [1161] on the side of the poor in the world. May I say that it causes me a slight amount of pain that I can talk about the poor of the world in this House and apparently will have difficulty in talking about the poor of this country.

Dr. Whitaker: Information on Thomas K Whitaker  Zoom on Thomas K Whitaker  Más deireannach fhéin ié, fáiltím roimh an Aire agus gúim lsíocháin lena linn.

I am grateful to the House for extending the time available and I do not want to abuse that generosity. As strongly as anyone else, I would wish and hope that we can stay out of and be immune in any major war. But I cannot see that any desire or hope of ours is sure of fulfilment in such a situation; that is my worry. There can be no assurance that our neutrality would be respected and there is certainly no way by which, on our own, we could ensure that it would be respected or could defend it successfully if it were violated. It has been suggested that nuclear missiles are already trained on Irish airports, if not on our cities. With that awesome language frequently used by experts in the field, Professor Laurence Martin in a BBC lecture recently said that “if nuclear deterrence is the doctrinal centrepiece of contemporary strategy, Europe is its geopolitical focus.” There is naught in that for our comfort. Nor was I comforted by Senator Murphy's doubt or disbelief about Russia's aggressive intentions in Europe. Nor was I comforted by Senator Brendan Ryan's thought that whether we are neutral or not we would be blasted out of it anyway.

We might say, with some credibility, that we would never join any defensive alliance if we had both the will and the might to make a significant or even a plausible effort to defend ourselves in a so-called conventional war. But we certainly have not that might and, for that reason, any declaration of permanent negative intent on our part could be said to be either imprudent or unreliable.

By all means let us remain neutral as long as we can but let us see neutrality in its true light, as an expression of an aspiration rather than of a definitely achievable purpose, and as something that may [1162] last only as long as it suits others stronger than us but which it is to our advantage to maintain while we can.

There is a widespread notion that, for Ireland, neutrality is a traditional policy. I am not pursuaded of this. Neutrality, in an unqualified sense, has never been a principle of our foreign policy as I see it. In a world of confrontation between major powers our ideological sympathies are with Western democracy rather then with Eastern totalitarianism. During the last war Irish neutrality was skilfully maintained and, fortunately, was not in fact violated despite recurrent risks and temptations. Our observance of neutrality during that war, though formally scrupulous, was, in practice, benevolent towards the Allied powers. We declared that any attempt to make the Republic a base of attack on the United Kingdom would be resisted by us. As we all know, tens of thousands of our people fought and worked on the Allied side.

When the formation of NATO was being considered after the war, we received an invitation from the United States Government to join. We rejected this, as Senator Murphy said in his opening speech, not on any grounds of principle — indeed, we declared our agreement with the objectives of NATO — but because we thought our possible importance in anti-submarine and air warfare gave us a lever we could use against Partition. We wanted the United States to put pressure on Britain in this matter. Mr. Seán MacBride's response to the invitation as our then Foreign Minister was couched in such extremist language as would be unthinkable for any Government to use to-day. I refer to, but will not quote from, the Aide Mémoire we presented to the United States Government on 9 February 1949. It is to be noted that, although we baulked at the NATO obligation to respect and join in defending the territorial integrity of the parties because the parties included the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, we did not object later to joining the United Nations whose charter commits us to respect the sovereignty of the other members and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the [1163] territorial integrity of any state. When we took our United Nations seat in 1956, Mr. Liam Cosgrave, then Minister for External Affairs, said that we would not be associated with particular blocs or groups as far as possible but, at the same time, that Ireland would support those powers which were dedicated to preserving freedom from communism — in effect, Canada, the United States and Western Europe.

To return to 1949 for a moment, the American reply to our rejection of their invitation to join NATO was in effect “it's been nice knowing you.” Dr. Ronan Fanning of University College, Dublin, in a paper published by the Royal Irish Academy in 1979 has outlined the consideration given subsequently by the United States Government to informal suggestions from the Irish side about the possibility of a mutually beneficial bilateral defence arrangement under which Ireland would receive American military aid but would avoid commitments it would have to undertake if it became a member of NATO. I mention this only to confirm that unqualified neutrality has not been our invariable official policy.

Further evidence of our non-commitment to a policy of neutrality in all circumstances is provided by the quite recent stance of the leader of Fianna Fáil who, as Taoiseach, declared in the Dáil on the 11 March last that, if an appropriate political solution of the Irish unity problem were arrived at “we would of course have to review what would be the most appropriate defence arrangements for the island as a whole. It would be unrealistic and improvident not to do so ...”

The fact that the concerting of special defence arrangements with Britain could be contemplated by Fianna Fáil was a mark of courage and a major gain for good sense.

I regard in the same light the commitment expressed by successive heads of Government, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, in relation to our readiness to participate in any common defence arrangements which the European Community may ultimately, or hypothetically, [1164] develop and agree in the context of political unity and a unified foreign policy.

I shall conclude by repeating that neutrality, though justifiable and appropriate as a policy for ourselves at present, and indeed a help in various ways to the preservation of peace in the world, is unfortunately not within our competence to maintain unilaterally even if we wished to do so in all circumstances. We must recognise that, in the last resort, our defence depends on the goodwill and the action of others. Neutrality is not traditional and cannot be an invariable principle. Whether it was a principle or not, we have no guarantee of immunity in time of war. Although it is beyond our capacity to defend ourselves, I do think we should make sure that all of us know how best to behave for our own safety in the event of an outbreak of war involving the use of nuclear missiles. It seems a long time since we were given any official guidance on this subject. We must also pray for the success of the talks which have started in Geneva with a view to lessening the risk of Europe becoming a nuclear battleground.

Professor Murphy: Information on Ciaran P. Murphy  Zoom on Ciaran P. Murphy  I do not think I will take up the entire time. The House has been generous with its time already. I am glad that the motion has met with general support. Senator Whitaker would have a fundamentally different world view from myself in these matters in that I see neutrality not simply as the response of this island to its situation in the world but as the view this nation has of the world as a whole. Both he and Senator B. Ryan are right in that fundamentally there is no defence against nuclear war. Therefore the question does arise as to whether it makes any difference whether we are inside or outside a military pact if the worst happened. But, of course, there is a moral position to be taken up, and as long as there is life there is hope, and as long as there is hope there is the possibility of action and of combination with other small countries. Therefore it is not to escape the nuclear holocaust but to do our little best to prevent a nuclear holocaust that we should maintain the position of neutrality.

[1165] Referring again to Senator Ryan's point about scandalous waste on armaments, I touched on that in my own address and we had a debate here on the Brandt Report, perhaps a year ago, in which there were very detailed figures on the incredible amounts that poor countries spend on armaments when they need to spend it on their own population. One of the things we should be doing at meetings in the EEC is impressing on our partners how scandalous it is for some of them to be conniving at this situation by profiting through arms sales to all kinds of countries.

Senator Manning's support for the motion was also very qualified since he saw neutrality as a kind of contingent issue which might well be changed in the future. Otherwise I was glad to note the support, from the Fianna Fáil speakers particularly. It is only what indeed I would have expected from a party whose founder ultimately preferred that this State should rule its own destinies rather than trade it off for any will-o-the-wisp benefit in the long term, whose classic statement was “neutrality is not for sale”.

Senator G. Hussey and others, and indeed the Minister, brought up the context of Northern Ireland. So did Senator Ryan. Let me clarify my own position on that. I was not saying anything so simplistic as that the solution to the problems in Ireland would be in terms of trading our neutrality for a defence pact with Britain. But within the general discussions between the sovereign powers it is not unlikely, to say the least, that the United Kingdom would in the case of withdrawal from this island, have a particular regard to its security and strategic interests. In that kind of situation a trade-off could become a factor.

In that kind of situation I think our Government leader, if and when the day comes, might well again look to Eamon de Valera, in whose regard I am, shall we say, a certain admirer, because when militant Irish-Americans in 1920 were saying to him “being independent means you have to be anti-British” he said “no, Britain would legitimately [1166] require certain assurances for her security and we can supply that by observing our version of the Monroe Doctrine”, in other words, by giving a solemn guarantee that we will not allow our island to become a base for attacks on Britain.

I see no reason why, mutatis mutandis, something of the same resourceful solution should not be hit upon again if the time comes. Indeed, the ghost of de Valera looms over this debate in more ways than one, because when I heard Senator Dooge making the fine distinctions that are involved in the EPC clarification it would indeed take a de Valera to maintain these distinctions and to see that they are observed.

I agree with the view of Senator Lanigan on the EEC proposed Sinai force. I share his apprehensions on that point. I would ideally prefer to support Senator O'Mahony's view of neutrality, in other words, that it should be positively pushed into a political philosophy; ideally it should be non-alignment. But we have to have regard to realities and I, for one, accept that our neutrality policy has never been actually non-alignment. It has been a kind of continuation of the beneficial neutrality of World War II in a way. Henry Kissinger once described us fleetingly, in one reference out of 600 pages, as a reliable and constructive neutral. Some other American put a colloquial gloss on that by saying we were the kind of neutral you could bring home to mother. There is a sense in which we have to remain that kind of neutral. But I still maintain that it is in absolute keeping with our history, our tradition, our world view, our relations to the Third World that we should resolutely set our face against a military pact. I was glad to hear the Minister's explanations in that regard and I am reasonably satisfied with the assurances that he gave that essentially what the London Report did was to clarify and formalise an existing position.

I take this to be the nub of the argument between the Government and the Opposition in this regard. I accept that, but at the same time I think it is also true that there is a difference between clarifying the position on the one hand, and [1167] attempting to push and widen the scope on the other. It would be disingenuous to suggest that all that is involved is clarifying the position. There is obviously an Italian-German axis, if that is not the inappropriate word to use in the circumstances, which would want to widen the scope as distinct from a kind of British-based idea that what is needed, perhaps, is a clarification.

In two respects I welcome the Minister's view. One is his own belief that there should be a kind of a parallelism here, that there should be no pushing on the foreign and defence policy sections until and unless there is at least some progress on the social and economic promise of the EEC which has not been delivered.

The other is, it seems to me, that the Minister has made a fundamental or important distinction from a Fianna Fáil position over the years in that, beginning with Seán Lemass long before we joined the Community and articulated by Dr. Hillery and again by Mr. O'Kennedy, we have had the repeated position from the Fianna Fáil side that if any of our EEC partners were attacked we would go to their defence. We had today from the Minister an assurance that his Government [1168] do not regard the situation in that light, that we are not so committed, and I think that is a useful distinction.

Finally, Herr Genscher has been mentioned numerous times. It is a new name for us to get our tongues around. We might remind ourselves that he has his own particular set of prejudices and positions. He is a member of the Liberal Party in the German Federal Republic, which is to say that he is well to the right of the centre and that his party does fervently believe in the siting of American nuclear weapons in Europe. So we should keep a cautious eye out for the same gentleman.

I thank my colleague, my supporter, Senator McGuinness who made a spirited contribution and the Minister, who, of course belatedly at this stage, as an old UCC colleague, I must congratulate and wish well.

Question put and agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  When is it proposed to meet again?

Mrs. G. Hussey: Information on Gemma Hussey  Zoom on Gemma Hussey  Wednesday, 9 December at 2.30 p.m.

The Seanad adjourned at 8.05 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 December 1981.

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