Seanad Éireann



Business of Seanad.

Expression of Sympathy.

Order of Business.

Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred Bill, 1988: Allocation of Time.

Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish Relations: Motion (Resumed).

Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred Bill, 1988: Allocation of Time (Resumed).

Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred Bill, 1988: Committee Stage.

Pre-Budget Submissions on Poverty: Motion.

Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred Bill, 1988: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred Bill, 1988: Report and Final Stages.

Adjournment Matter. - Petroleum Retail Outlets.

[869] Chuaigh an Cathaoirleach i gceannas ar 12 meán lae.



An Cathaoirleach:  I have notice from An Leas-Chathaoirleach, Senator Charlie McDonald, that, on the motion for the Adjournment of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Labour to review the narrow interpretation of Statutory Instrument No. 311 of 1979 concerning dangerous substances given by some local authorities which is forcing the majority of family petroleum retailers out of business by virtue of their inability to meet the strict new requirements for retailers licences.

I also received notice from Senator Denis Cregan of the following matter:

The progress made to date on the bringing into operation of the Cork free port since this matter was raised on 25 May 1988.

I also received notice from Senator Donie Cassidy of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for the Environment to sanction the sewerage treatment works as a matter of urgency due to the pollution dangers to Lough Dereveragh.

I regard the matter raised by Senators [870] McDonald, Cregan and Cassidy as suitable for discussion on an Adjournment debate. I have selected Senator McDonald's matter and it will be taken at the conclusion of business. Senators Cregan and Cassidy may give notice on another day of the matters they wish to raise.

Mr. Lanigan:  Before I address myself to the Order of Business, I ask the House to pass a motion of sympathy to the family of the late Mrs. Lenihan. Both Deputy Brian Lenihan, the Tánaiste, and Deputy Mary O'Rourke, Minister for Education, served this House extremely well. The Lenihan family have played a major part in the political life of this country for many years and during their time in this House both Mary and Brian brought stature to it. The family have been in public life for many years and when you see a family which is so outstanding it would not be too strong to say that the mother's influence must have been extremely strong to bring them to the heights they reached.

To all the Lenihan family, I suggest we send a sincere message of sympathy and condolence and we ask the Lord for strength for them in these trying days.

Mr. Manning:  On behalf of Fine Gael I wish to be associated with the expression of sympathy to the family of the late Mrs. Lenihan.

Professor Murphy:  The Independent Senators would also like to be associated with the expression of sympathy.

An Cathaoirleach:  As Cathaoirleach I would certainly like to be associated also.

Members rose in their places.

Mr. Lanigan:  It is proposed to take Items Nos. 1, 2 and 3. The debate on Item No. 2 shall conclude at 4 p.m. and we will go on then to Item No. 3.

[871]Mr. Manning:  There is no way in which I can agree to the Order of Business. As regards Item No. 1 they are bringing in a guillotine on an issue which is important and one on which there are a number of substantial amendments but about which there is no urgency or time pressure and I ask the Leader of the House not to introduce it. It is a totally undesirable practice. It is totally unwarranted in present circumstances and if he goes ahead with it we may find that a large part of the time today is spent wrangling about the guillotine on the debate.

The only purpose of this is to facilitate the Minister. We are the second House of the Oireachtas. We are not here for the convenience of or to suit the timetable of Government Ministers. I oppose the item very strongly and ask the Leader of the House to withdraw it. I am mystified to be told that there is a limit of 4 o'clock on the debate on Northern Ireland. That was not my understanding.

Mr. Lanigan:  On a point of information, the full debate is not being concluded today at 4 o'clock.

Mr. Manning:  Then, my indignation is stilled on that matter. I thought it was to conclude but I still oppose the item.

Professor Murphy:  I object strongly to the proposed Order of Business. We never heard of the incitement Bill ten days ago. Now we are told it is a matter of absolute urgency and that we must deal with all Stages today. That is not the way to order Parliamentary business and ensure an informed debate. Why could we not sit tomorrow and deal with it then?

My first objection is that we are not being given a full run at the Anglo-Irish debate today. To adjourn the debate at 4 p.m., to chop it up like this when we have barely begun debating the most important motion on the Order Paper, is to diminish its importance, to fritter away its relevance and its significance. I shall be proposing that we take Item No. 2 only today and deal with Item No. 1 if there is time.

[872]An Cathaoirleach:  You are proposing an amendment, Senator Murphy?

Professor Murphy:  Yes. I would crave your indulgence to mention one other matter which is of urgent public importance. I decided not to try to secure a hearing by way of Standing Order 29 because it would waste the time of the House. I crave your indulgence to say something in 30 seconds, namely, that it is highly appropriate in view of the present crisis in Anglo-Irish relations that the Seanad should affirm its complete confidence in the Attorney General in the performance of his statutory duties under the Extradition Act.

Senators:  Hear, hear.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  Relating back to the Order of Business for today, and tying in with it the statement of the Leader of the House last week that the Members of the House should give precedence to their work in the House as legislators and as Members of the Upper House of the Oireachtas, it seems strange that in the light of that we are still trying to cram into today's business what should be a week's work. It highlights the lack of authority which the Leader of the House is bringing to bear on the ordering of business in this House. It is not acceptable for a Minister to dismiss this House as if it were a Parliamentary party meeting, as happened last week.

An Cathaoirleach:  I cannot allow the Senator to make an accusation like that. If it is a face-to-face——

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I accept your ruling. I will wait until he is back in the House because if he wants to teach us about procedure he will learn a lot of it before we finish with this business.

Mr. Norris:  Hear, hear.

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator Norris, you should have been here last week——

Mr. Norris:  I object in the strongest [873] possible fashion to that and I ask you to withdraw that remark. It is outrageous.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  You gave a ruling to a member of our group a fortnight ago that was inappropriate to refer to the absence of a Member of the House. On that basis it is not acceptable for you to now single out a Member of the House and make reference to his absence on a particular occasion.

An Cathaoirleach:  You look after yourself and Senator Norris will look after himself.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I raised a matter on the Order of Business and I will not accept from any side of the House the fact that decisions can be made on a less than even-handed way. It is not appropriate for you to say to me to withdraw something which I am prepared to do, and which I do, while at the same time, you overturn a ruling of your own.

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator Norris and I are personal friends, as I am with all my colleagues. I am responsible for the working of this House. What was sad about last week was that I went down the House after what happened and it was nearly said to me face-to-face that I was in cahoots with the Minister for Justice to get this through. I have never carried on like that in this House, whether I was Cathaoirleach, Leas-Chathaoirleach or on the floor of the House. It is not my style to be in cahoots with anyone. It was sad that that interpretation was put on what happened here last week. I do not do that.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  What I said three minutes ago was that if the Minister wishes to use procedure, implying that that is what he used last week, and dismisses the House as if we were a parliamentary party meeting, then we all have a great duty to teach him about the procedure of this House. We should begin that lesson today.

[874]Professor Murphy:  On a point of information, the second Stage of that Bill was completed in a proper procedural way last week.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  That is precisely what I am saying. We are talking about procedure. As regards comments that were passed about Members giving precedence or otherwise to the House, we should also recognise that the people who commit themselves to the workings of this House do so out of a sense of duty and responsibility and in a way that is very poorly responded to in terms of remuneration. It is time that we looked in a very serious way at the remuneration we give to Members. If we are to be paid less than those people taking up employment in the Bank of Ireland, whom the Bishops are rushing to defend, we should have a look at where we stand. However, I accept that is not on the Order of Business.

With regard to Item No. 14 and what Senator Murphy said, it seems that the whole mess about extradition has arisen because nobody sees justice in action. I ask the Leader of the House to order Item No. 14. It is a very topical matter which reflects what is happening in Ireland at the moment. We need to see justice being done. This Bill allows it to happen in open court. I ask that Item No. 14 be ordered. I ask the Leader of the House to look at Item No. 37 which is a motion to bring us into line with the European conventions on telephone tapping. It is about time we started to talk to the Minister for Justice and explain to him that there are regulations and legislation which should be looked at in his Department.

On the question of where we stand now with the Order of Business today, there are two issues of note. One is the Anglo-Irish debate which is now being reduced to a three or four hour debate. This, in effect, fragments the debate. The idea was that the House would respond over a period of time. I appreciate what the Leader of the House has said, that he intends the debate to go on another day, but what I do not appreciate or accept is [875] that somebody outside the House can pressurise the agreed position of the House. It is being done for one of two reasons. Is it because one side of the House are not prepared to sit on a second day this week or is it because forces outside the House have demanded that we re-order our business to suit them? I suspect it is part of both. It is time we had this out in the open. It is not acceptable to have a fragmented discussion with no direction, going on over a long period of time. We need to have a proper approach to this.

An Cathaoirleach:  You are repeating yourself and that is not a bit like you.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  On the question of the guillotine motion, I appreciate the fact that it is on the Order of Business and that is an advance on where we were the last time around when, with no notice, the matter was just moved in the House late at night. Again, in order to suit a member of the Government we now decide to guillotine the debate. I want to make it clear that what is being planned by the Leader of the House is that all Stages of this Bill be disposed of today whether we agree with them or not. It is a contemptuous approach to the business and traditions of this House. I do not believe that any Member on either side of the House or on the Independent benches would say that this is an acceptable way to deal with legislation. As the Chair has pointed out time and time again, the great value of this House is that it allows legislation to be teased out, examined and voted on, if necessary.

An Cathaoirleach:  The Senator is making a speech. In fairness, he has been on his feet for ten minutes now. Please ask a question and sit down.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  Should you decide to guillotine me on my reference to a guillotine motion, it would be unfair. I condensed what I had to say into a very short period of time despite a lot of interruptions. It is not acceptable. I will [876] second the motion that the Order of Business be opposed and I will also object to this procedure being brought into this House. It goes against the traditions and the workings of this House. It is not acceptable.

Mr. Ferris:  I want to be associated with the remarks of condolence to the Tánaiste and the Minister for Education which were passed just before I entered the Chamber. On behalf of the Labour Party I want to be associated with those remarks and extend our deepest sympathy to the family.

I disagree with the Order of Business as outlined by the Leader of the House and I will deal with my objections if and when the Order of Business has been agreed on by a vote. The procedure that is outlined here occasionally takes place in the other House, usually by agreement with the Whips. This is an unusual procedure to be brought in here and, therefore, we should have an opportunity to debate it. I put it on the record that Senator Ryan told me that he intended to do this.

I object to the procedure because it gives a preference to the Government in having debated whatever amendments they want to put down and it eliminates the possibility of other Members of the House having amendments debated on Committee Stage. This House should not stoop to that kind of procedure but I will deal with that when we are discussing Item No. 1, if it becomes Item No. 1.

In relation to Item No. 2, it is important that this House hears the response to the Tánaiste, as the responsible Minister, to the debate in Seanad Éireann. Was it an omission on the part of the Leader of the House not to include Item No. 4 in today's Order of Business as it is time for the Labour Party to have its Private Members' time and that would take place between 6.30 p.m. and 8 p.m. in accordance with procedures that have been agreed? I ask the Leader of the House to confirm that it is included in today's Order of Business.

Mr. Norris:  In a non-cavilling way, [877] may I point out that I have some difficulty in following the discussion on the Order of Business because the second page of the Order Paper I received is entirely blank and I am not sure whether this is a further attempt to guillotine my participation in the debate. In any case, it is a serious matter and I would like in future to receive full Order Papers.

I did not associate myself with and was not aware of any remarks impugning your reputation as Cathaoirleach or any collaboration in the unfortunate events of last week. I completely accept that you were not so involved. However, it was clear to me last week that we had descended into the politics of the wink and the snigger and it is regrettable that some people found themselves at home in that area.

An Cathaoirleach:  I am trying to clear the Order of Business for today. Would you tell me what has the wink and the snigger to do with what I have in front of me? I have the print, you have not.

Mr. Norris:  I have the first page on which this quite extraordinary and outrageous attempt to guillotine the business of this House once again emerges. Why is there this attempt to abridge discussion on an instrument that is of national, and also international, significance?

An Cathaoirleach:  What you are talking about comes up under Item No. 1, if we get to it.

Mr. Norris:  I am speaking about the fact that I consider this a most extraordinary way of ordering business and I wish, if I may, to reply to certain remarks that were made on the Order of Business, including the one I think inadvertently made by yourself referring to the fact that I was not here last week. In fact I was, as you know: I was in the House the whole day. I came from a hospital to get here on time. I consistently rearranged my business to be here. I left for two minutes to make a telephone call to cancel a further professional appointment so that I could speak on the Bill. It [878] is very interesting that sections of the Video Bill were withdrawn for the same reason — because the Minister is terrified of hearing what I have got to say about it.

An Cathaoirleach:  That has nothing to do with what I am trying to do here. Will the Senator please address himself to the Order of Business?

Mr. Norris:  It has to do with remarks that were made here today. I consider it monstrous that attempts were made to silence people by what I would refer to as the politics of wink and snigger and I will oppose it.

An Cathaoirleach:  Resume your seat, Senator.

Mr. Norris:  I will be opposing the Order of Business and I look to you, a Chathaoirligh, to regulate the behaviour of all people who attend the House, including Ministers.

Mr. W. Ryan:  That statement should be withdrawn. The remark about the behaviour of Members of this House and members of the Government is most unfair.

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator Norris, in fairness, remarks are passed here that can mean more than what is said. I do it too and you have done it now. You have cast a slur on every Member of this House including Ministers. I ask you to withdraw that last remark. I am sure you did not mean it. Please do not make another speech with the withdrawal.

Mr. Norris:  In order to expedite the business of the House, I understand that a technical ruling has been given that what I said was inappropriate.

An Cathaoirleach:  Thank you.

Mr. B. Ryan:  Can the Chair clarify a point of order for me? I understood that your normal procedure was to have a list of speakers for any debate. It would be [879] very helpful to the House if the Chair were to indicate whether she had people on that list last Thursday who did not offer and who had indicated that they would speak.

An Cathaoirleach:  It has no bearing at all on a list of speakers. I watch certain Senators at times to see if they are going to speak or if they are not going to speak. That list I have here has no bearing on it whatsoever. I have had names a thousand times on hand and then the Senator in question could decide to leave the Chamber and not participate in the debate. I tried to facilitate everybody. I called on Senators to suit their times. The list has no relevance at times other than to make the House work. The Leader of the House to reply.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I asked a question. I sat down out of respect for the procedure of the House when you were speaking. I was not finished. I regret the fact that you find it impossible to answer my question. I object not to Item No. 1 to which I will object when we come to it, but to Order of Business today and I want to explain clearly why. Business ought to be properly notified in advance to the Members of this House so that we know what we are going to debate. I did not know that Item No. 1 would be on the Order Paper until I got my Order Paper this morning. I do not regard that as acceptable notice. It was not indicated to us last week that there would be any problem——

An Cathaoirleach:  That motion was circulated in advance.

Mr. B. Ryan:  It may have arrived on Monday but I do not live in Dublin.

An Cathaoirleach:  That has nothing to do with us here on the Order of Business. Surely there is a Whip——

Mr. B. Ryan:  I am not here to be lectured by anybody, including, with [880] respect, you, a Chathaoirligh, about how Independent Members conduct their business.

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator, will you decide whether you are agreeing or not agreeing with the Order of Business and resume your seat?

Mr. B. Ryan:  I will resume my seat at your direction on any occasion you tell me to do so, but I understand I had a right to speak on the Order of Business.

Mr. Lanigan:  On the Order of Business, yes.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I am getting fed up with Senator Lanigan's interruptions. I had to put up with him last Wednesday night when I was speaking on the debate on Nicaragua. I ask for the protection of the Chair. I, like the Leader of the House, am entitled to speak without interruption. At least that is the way it used to be.

The position is that a promise was made last week that we would begin the Anglo-Irish debate and continue it this week. I understood, as did most Members on this side, that it would be a full day debate this week. The nub of my objection to the Order of Business is to the order of the business. I can discuss, with reasonable fluency, the items of business as they arise. The Order of Business makes a mockery of this House. It jumps around from one item to another. It gives undue notice of some items and undue prominence to other items. What is beginning to happen in this House is bringing it into disrepute and since you are the official representative of this House, what is being done to this House is bringing you into disrepute. I appeal to you, therefore, to use your considerable influence to ensure that the Government or certain members of it are not allowed to continue to bring this House into disrepute because that is what the sort of Order of Business we were given today is doing.

[881]Mr. McGowan:  On the Order of Business, I have listened to the Chair getting four lectures on how this House is being brought into disrepute, by the very same people who are constantly doing it.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I want that remark withdrawn immediately. The Senator is some arbiter about who brings the House into disrepute.

Mr. McGowan:  May I continue?

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I ask the Cathaoirleach if that remark is going to stay on the record of this House?

An Cathaoirleach:  I will suspend the sitting if Senators cannot behave and decide on the Order of Business and get on with it.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  A comment was made that the people who spoke here are bringing the House into disrepute. I will not allow that on the record of the House.

An Cathaoirleach:  You said the same thing. The Leader of the House to reply and conclude.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I did not say the same thing.


An Cathaoirleach:  I suspend the sitting of the House for five minutes.

Sitting suspended at 12.25 p.m. and resumed at 12.30 p.m.

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator Ross.

Mr. Ross:  I wish to formally second the amendment to the Order of Business moved by Senator Murphy — that Item No. 2 be taken today. That item is:

That Seanad Éireann takes notice of recent events affecting Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations.

I believe that the Anglo-Irish debate should take top priority in this House if [882] it is to have any impact, and I cannot understand why the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Bill is suddenly such an urgent matter before this House. We have been asking for a full debate on Anglo-Irish relations for over a year. Now it has been granted in some type of piecemeal fashion which is lacking the type of impact which this House should have on a matter of such urgent importance.

Professor Murphy:  On a point of order, there seems to be universal conversation in this Chamber. I think that that in itself is disgraceful while a Senator is speaking.

Mr. Ross:  I would like to ask the Leader of the House — and it is on the Order of Business and it is a matter of important procedure — to answer this question, as he never answers any questions asked by anybody on this side. Specifically, why cannot the Seanad sit tomorrow? Why has the Seanad not been able to sit on Thursdays very often since September? Why does the Seanad not sit on Mondays? If the Leader of the House on the Order of Business last week was able to say that we are not giving top priority to Seanad debates or Seanad business, can he explain to us why we cannot sit on Mondays? The reason is that everybody has county council meetings which, for some extraordinary reason, take precedence over the Business of the Oireachtas of this House.

An Cathaoirleach:  You are making a speech now. What people do with themselves on Monday, whether it be county council meetings or otherwise, has nothing to do with the Order of Business here today.

Mr. Ross:  The Leader of the House raised it on the Order of Business last week.

An Cathaoirleach:  Ask a question and [883] let him answer it on the Order of Business.

Mr. Ross:  That is what I am doing.

An Cathaoirleach:  You are going down many a boreen to get the answer.

Mr. Ross:  In response to what you said, the Leader of the House raised this question himself last week when he was replying and this has been my first chance to reply to him. I want to know why the Seanad cannot sit on Mondays and Fridays specifically if we are not attending to our duties, which apparently we are not. The prohibition of incitement to hatred Bill, apparently, is ordered as Item No. 3 and apparently it is being taken with a guillotine.

I have been in the House for only about seven years, but the way this House is being ordered on the Order of Business is deteriorating and is the worst I have ever seen by a long way in that seven years. We are having a guillotine now on a matter which we did not even know about a week ago. We have not been told what is the great urgency. We have not been told why we cannot deal with it next week. We were not told why we could not deal with it last week. We have not been told why the guillotine is necessary. The House has a right to know if the legislation is not going to get proper consideration in this House. The House has a right to know if we are going to be guillotined on any Bill, on Committee, Report or Second Stage at the whim of the Government.

I have to say the Independents are reaching the end of their tether with the way this House has been treated. The House is becoming a farce, it is becoming——

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator, you have asked your question and you have made your point.

Mr. Ross:  I have another point. The House has become a laughing stock in other places——

[884]An Cathaoirleach:  That has nothing to do with the Order of Business today.

Mr. Ross:  I was diverting. I apologise to the House for doing that. I should not have done so.

An Cathaoirleach:  It is interesting that you apologise to Senator Cassidy and you do not apologise to the Chair for your carry on.

Mr. Ross:  I apologised to Senator Cassidy. He was saying the same thing as you were. I will apologise to both of you. I do not know who was prompting who. On Item No. 1, I want to say specifically that if the Government are going to put down motions of guillotine and make a practice of it, let them say so. As I pointed out in the debate on Nicaragua last week, the Leader of the House is on record as saying “Put the question” in the middle of a speech which I made and you interrupted him. I told him he could not do it just because he did not like what I was saying. If the Leader of the House is putting the question this evening because he does not like, for instance, what Senator Norris is going to say——

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator you are making a speech. If you do not know what a speech is, you are now making one. I am telling you; I am not in your world at all. You are now making a speech.

Mr. Ross:  I am addressing the Order of Business. I want to know if Item No. 1 is going to become a feature of this House at the whim of the Government. If they want to railroad legislation through, let them tell us.

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator McGowan. You cannot speak on Item No. 1. You had spoken already.

Mr. McGowan:  I stood up here to respond to something. A statement was made to which I totally object, that is, that you, as Cathaoirleach of this House or any member on the Government side, [885] by their actions or by the ordering of business were bringing the House into disrepute. I responded by saying that those who continually float kites in the House are the people who, collectively, are bringing the House into disrepute. If the House is being brought into disrepute they are the people who do so. They do it in a collective manner. We have to come in here every day. It is like a trailer——

An Cathaoirleach:  You cannot make a speech, either. The Leader of the House to reply and conclude.

Mr. McGowan:  I am not making a speech. I respect the Leader of the House, but it is like watching a trailer of the big picture that is going to come. It is continually here. I am serious about being a Member of this House. I do not take as serious statements that come from people who are totally insincere.

Mr. Manning:  On a point of order, in the interest of harmony and the working of the House, could I ask the Leader of the House before he replies to withdraw [886] Item No. 1 today? The House can then proceed and do its business.

Senators:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Lanigan:  I am not withdrawing Item No. 1 from the Order Paper. I suggest that the Order of Business be as I laid it out in the beginning with the exception of the arrangement for 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. — that we take Item No. 4. It was a mistake on my part. On Items Nos. 14 and 37 — they can come up on the Order of Business some other day.

An Cathaoirleach:  Senator Murphy has moved an amendment to the Order of Business, that Item No. 2 be the only item of business to be taken today. The question is: “That the figures Items Nos. 1 and 3 proposed to be deleted stand.” Is that agreed?

Senators:  No. Vótáil.

An Cathaoirleach:  The question is: “That the figures Items Nos. 1 and 3 proposed to be deleted stand.” On that question a division has been challenged.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 17.

Bohan, Edward Joseph.
Byrne, Seán.
Cassidy, Donie.
Cullimore, Seamus.
Doherty, Michael.
Eogan, George.
Fallon, Seán.
Farrell, Willie.
Fitzgerald, Tom.
Fitzsimons, Jack.
Hanafin, Des.
Haughey, Seán F.
Hillery, Brian.
Hussey, Thomas.
Kiely, Dan.
Lanigan, Mick.
Lydon, Donal.
McEllistrim, Tom.
McGowan, Patrick.
Mooney, Paschal.
Mullooly, Brian.
Mulroy, Jimmy.
O'Callaghan, Vivian.
O'Connell, John.
Ó Conchubhair, Nioclás.
O'Toole, Martin J.
Ryan, William.
Wallace, Mary.


Bradford, Paul.
Connor, John.
Cregan, Denis.
Fennell, Nuala.
Ferris, Michael.
Harte, John.
Hogan, Philip.
Kelleher, Peter.
McCormack, Padraic.
McDonald, Charlie.
Manning, Maurice.
Murphy, John A.
Norris, David.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Toole, Joe.
Ross, Shane P.N.
Ryan, Brendan.

Tellers: Tá, Senators W. Ryan and S. Haughey; Níl, Senators Murphy and Ross.

[887] Question declared carried.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is the Order of Business agreed to?

Senators:  No.

An Cathaoirleach:  The question is: [888]“That the Order of Business be Items Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.”

Senators:  Votáil.

An Cathaoirleach:  The question is: “That the Order of Business be Items Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4”. On that question a division has been challenged.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 27; Níl, 17.

Bohan, Edward Joseph.
Byrne, Sean.
Cassidy, Donie.
Cullimore, Seamus.
Doherty, Michael.
Eogan, George.
Fallon, Sean.
Farrell, Willie.
Fitzgerald, Tom.
Fitzsimons, Jack.
Hanafin, Des.
Haughey, Seán F.
Hillery, Brian.
Hussey, Thomas.
Kiely, Dan.
Lanigan, Mick.
Lydon, Donal.
McEllistrim, Tom.
McGowan, Patrick
Mooney, Paschal.
Mullooly, Brian.
O'Callaghan, Vivian.
O'Connell, John.
O'Conchubhair, Nioclás.
O'Toole, Martin J.
Ryan, William.
Wallace, Mary.


Bradford, Paul.
Connor, John.
Cregan, Denis.
Fennell, Nuala.
Ferris, Michael.
Hogan, Philip.
Kelleher, Peter.
Kennedy, Patrick.
Loughrey, Jaochim.
McCormack, Padraic.
McDonald, Charlie.
Manning, Maurice.
Murphy, John A.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Toole, Joe.
Ross, Shane P.N.
Ryan, Brendan.

Tellers: Tá, Senators W. Ryan and S. Haughey; Níl, Senators Cregan and Murphy.

Question declared carried.

Order of Business agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach:  Before we take Item No. 1, I want to make it clear to the House that the motion before the House deals with the time at which all Stages of the Bill should conclude. I would ask everybody to try to confine himself or herself to the actual motion and the amendments and there is plenty of scope there. The merits or the demerits of the Bill which will be taken at 4 o'clock today do not arise at this stage but can be discussed when the Bill itself is taken. I am not pinning anyone down on time or cutting anybody short. I am just indicating the scope of the debate.

Mr. B. Ryan:  On a point of order, can you give me some guidance as to how I [889] could explain why I do not approve of Item No. 1 without explaining why I think the item referred to is important? I cannot understand why I cannot make reference to the merits of the Bill.

An Cathaoirleach:  That is a matter for you to decide; it is not for me to give you guidance on that.

Mr. Lanigan:  I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the proceedings on the Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred Bill, 1988, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments from the Government.

Mr. Manning:  With great regret I have to strongly oppose Item No. 1 on the Order Paper today. What we have witnessed and experienced for the past hour and ten minutes has brought this House into greater disrepute than it has been in since the inception of this Seanad, and it has all happened without any need or reason whatsoever. I greatly regret that what this House wanted to do, which was to get ahead very quickly with the debate on Anglo-Irish relations, has been set back and is likely to be set back now for some considerable time. What we have seen this morning is the total, crass mismanagement of the running of this House. There is no reason whatsoever why we should be in this situation at this point.

The Bill referred to in Item No. 1 was debated here last week and passed Second Stage without any difficulty. It is a Bill upon which there is general agreement. This Bill was scheduled to be taken in Committee Stage at 4 o'clock [890] today. A number of serious amendments were down which almost certainly could have been disposed of with goodwill and in good faith here this evening. Instead, the Leader of the House — maybe not of his own doing — has put down a guillotine motion on a Bill about which there is general agreement and for which there is general welcome, asking this House to rush through legislation in the very week when the House is sitting only one day, when we, on the Opposition benches, are prepared to sit tomorrow and were prepared to sit yesterday, to give this Bill its proper processing. What we are seeing now is the rubbing out of the motion of the promise of reform which was made by the Leader of the House, by his party and strongly endorsed by all groups at the beginning of this Seanad.

Professor Murphy:  On a point of information, is the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs representing the Minister for Justice in this debate?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Minister is sitting in the House, I think, in anticipation of the next debate.

Professor Murphy:  It seems to me to be improper that the Minister and his advisers on an entirely different matter are present at this debate when there is no presence from the appropriate Minister and his advisers.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Minister asked me a moment ago if it was necessary for him to be here because he had already recognised the fact that we were not discussing his particular business. Item No. 1 is a procedural matter. This is entirely a matter for the business of the House and the Minister can be excused if he so desires.

Mr. W. Ryan:  My suggestion is that we do not take Item No. 1 until the Minister comes into the House at 4 p.m. We are debating an item for which the Minister for Justice should be here but he was not informed to be here for it. [891] If Members wish to take it without the presence of the Minister for Justice that is all right; take it now and be done with it.

Mr. Ross:  On a point of order——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Before Senator Ross's point of order, Item No. 1 is a matter entirely for the House, being in the name of the Leader of the House and we do not need the presence of any Minister of any Department.

Mr. Ross:  This is an important point of order. I welcome the Minister of State to this House and I am delighted to see him at any stage but I would like to point out to the Government that we could not discuss the Anglo-Irish affairs last week because the Tánaiste was not here. How can that be consistent with the Minister of State being here today?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That has absolutely nothing to do with Item No. 1.

Mr. Manning:  On a point of order, I genuinely welcome the suggestion made by Senator Ryan and would certainly be prepared to move the adjournment of Item No. 1 until 4 p.m. if that is procedurally possible. I want the debate on Anglo-Irish affairs to go ahead; I want the time to be used for that and if it is possible within Standing Orders, I certainly would agree to adjourning Item No. 1 until 4 p.m.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  There is a proposal before the Chair that we defer consideration of Item No. 1 until 4 p.m. It is proposed and seconded. Is that agreed? Agreed. Will Senator Manning move adjournment of Item No. 1?

Mr. Manning:  I move the adjournment of Item No. 1.

Debate adjourned.

[892]An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I call Item No. 2.

The following motion was moved on 24 November 1988:

That Seanad Éireann takes note of recent events affecting Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations.

—(Senator Lanigan.)

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “Seanad Éireann” and substitute the following:

“notes the upcoming review of the workings of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and calls upon the Government to:—

(1) put proposals to the Conference aimed at bringing about devolution with Northern Ireland,

(2) bring about regular pre-Conference consultations with all the constitutional parties in the Republic,

(3) ensure that in the context of 1992, the Conference examines the important economic and social implications of the Single Market for Northern Ireland and the Border areas,

(4) ensure that Conference meetings are held in a regular scheduled way and not merely as a form of crisis management,

(5) help initiate a programme of special measures in Northern Ireland to improve relations between the security forces and the community, with the object in particular of making the security forces more readily accepted by the nationalist community,

(6) encourage and speed up the establishment of an Anglo-Irish Parliamentary body.”

—(Senator Manning.)

[893]Mr. B. Ryan:  This is one of the very rare occasions in the seven years that I have been in this House that we have been able to talk about something at a time when it was perhaps the central concern in public opinion. Therefore, it behoves somebody like myself, with a reputation for, perhaps, colourful language, to be a little more restrained than usual. I am not going to omit to say anything in which I believe but, unlike people in other parliaments and in other jurisdictions, I believe I have an obligation to be sensible in what I say and not to attribute motives to other people that in many cases are beneath contempt. I will come to that as I develop a few ideas.

There are some ideas on Northern Ireland that are rarely articulated, sometimes because at least in their analysis they overlap with the analysis of those with whom most of us disagree. The motion is, of necessity, a bland motion which leaves sufficient room for all of us to discuss it, but the one thing that Northern Ireland most manifestly is not, is bland. It has a history of pain, suffering, murder, mutilation and, as is often forgotten given the horrors of the last 20 years, of almost 70 years of scandalously — by the standards of western democracies — discriminatory and one-sided government. Because awful things are done in the name of those who have suffered over 70 years does not excuse us from remembering what people have suffered. To quote a phrase I heard one time is that “the problems of Northern Ireland did not begin in Enniskillen last year.” We cannot pick a point in the history of Northern Ireland and say “That is when it started and that is how we must reflect on Northern Ireland's history.”

If I were a historian, which I am not, I would find it a most interesting exercise to trace the historical developments in Northern Ireland which produced the appalling mess that it is now in. I cannot do that but what I can do and what I propose to do is to insert into this debate a number of what I would regard as the missing dimensions of the analysis that is now widely held.

[894] There is a considerable amount of concern about an end to violence and I would subscribe fully to that view. I think violence in Northern Ireland is wrong, counter-productive and without moral justification. It is not a position I take lightly because my sympathies, often expressed in company which gives me some discomfort, are with those who I believe have suffered enormously not just in the past 20 years but in the past 70 years. My sympathies have forced me to take positions that are neither popular nor widely supported, either within this House or in the other House, on issues concerning Northern Ireland.

In our concern to end violence, we have taken a step further and we have talked about reconciliation. Reconciliation — as between churches, so between people and nations — can only come on the basis of truth. It cannot come on the basis of ambiguities or ambivalences. We have learned to our cost in this country over the past 20 years that perhaps we have got certain ambiguities and ambivalences about violence. By way of an example, I wonder how anybody who has denounced what has been done in our names in Northern Ireland for the past 20 years can produce a moral or political justification for the 1916 Uprising. I invite people to consider, not the political consequences which we all recognise, not the enormous consequences thereof brought about in the thinking of ordinary Irish people, but the moral position on Easter Monday, 1916, when an entirely unrepresentative armed force, without any political mandate of any kind, without any support from anybody, chose to take up arms against the British Government in what was then — whatever else was wrong with it — by the standards of the time a democracy. I have no great moral qualms about 1916 because we have justified it in retrospect but I invite all of us — myself included — to at least not strike moral positions about the use of force to achieve political ends that are turned on their head by even a cursory examination of history.

[895] The problem of violence and the difficulty of dealing with the use of force in domestic and international politics is not something new. The question of the use of violence has corrupted the churches; it has corrupted international affairs and it has often corrupted the internal security of many States. It is astonishing to look through the history of the churches — I am including in that the church to which I am a member — in their explicit support for the most extraordinary imperialist and colonialist exploits of warfare. It is extraordinary that one can go into any Protestant church and look at the vast numbers of memorials to wars which were manifestly wars of imperialism. The memorials you see in Protestant churchs are not just dedicated to the heroes of the Second World War or the First World War; they go back to the Crimean War, the Boer War and to God knows what other wars, many of which were wars of imperialism.

One of the frightening points is that all of those who should be in a position to give unchallengeable moral guidance about the use of violence and about warfare have all been historically tainted by the very thing that they now pronounce upon with such authority. The only community I am aware of, through its own history, that has a record of being consistent in resisting all wars is the Quaker community. All of the major churches in my view have compromised on the most fundamental of questions, the use of violence to achieve political ends.

In terms of condemnation and criticism of violence, we all have an obligation to search deep into ourselves, into our traditions, into our history, into the Pantheon of heroes and question the whole issue of the use of violence. If we have an obligation to analyse history, equally we have an obligation to examine our behaviour currently. The Minister and I had a little exchange of views last week on morality and international affairs. I think a country such as this, that has suffered so much from political violence, has an obligation to be extremely careful to distinguish our moral views from our [896] political views and not to be seen in any way to be uneven or equivocal in our condemnation of violence simply because of the source of the violence.

I have told members and supporters of the African National Congress that I do not support — because my conscience will not allow me — some of the activities in which they engage. I am not prepared to turn them into some sort of social pariahs because of their use of violence, particularly given the historical compromise that most of the institutions that describe themselves as western civilisation have made, but I believe I have an obligation to state my moral position. A country such as ours that has suffered the pain it has suffered over the past 20 years cannot selectively condemn the violence that is perpetrated in our name and fudge on the violence that is perpetrated in the names of other countries that describe themselves as democracies. If we have learned anything, it is the pain and the misery and the sheer gore of any kind of warfare. It is our obligation not to tout empty phrases but to look for the abolition of warfare. I think that goes beyond the whole issue of simply disapproving of the arms race.

We could, as a nation, have a serious discussion about what sort of proposals we have for defending ourselves in the event of an invasion. We could discuss the whole idea of a non-military form of resistance to attack, a non-violent form of resistance to attack. This sounds like idealistic framing but it is a necessary extension of both the moral position we claim to take and of our experience of violence for the past 20 years. It is not enough to say that the morality of warfare is decided on simply by a majority vote. I believe passionately in democracy but I do not think democracy requires the moral law.

The use of violence is so wrong and so frequently brutalising. Anybody who has read the testimonies of people who have been involved in warfare will know that after truth the first thing that goes out the window in warfare is morality. I have talked to the most ordinary, decent, church-going Christian people and asked [897] them about what happens when you are in a head-to-head war situation and the last thing you think about is morality. The last thing you think about is justice or dignity or nobility. The only thing you think about is that it is me or him who has to survive and if I can get him when he is not armed then I will get him when he is not armed because that secures my position. I say all of this because I think that much of the moral condemnation of violence — which is right in principle — has been devalued by the fact that most of us who use those phrases are actually tainted by the historical adherence to the use of force that has tainted all of the great institutions in western society.

In looking at Northern Ireland — my good friend, Senator Robb, made this point at great length last week — it is quite correct to look at it in terms of a conflict between two communities but it is incorrect to see it as only a conflict between two communities. It is equally incorrect to address only one side of the greater conflict because Northern Ireland is a problem of imperialism and there are two dimensions to that imperialism. There is, first, the Irish style imperialism which, if Articles 2 and 3 meant anything, would be expressed in those Articles — but since I am satisfied that they have no legal force I do not think it is a legislatedfor or constitutionally instituted form of imperialism — but it is reflected in an often poorly thought-out nationalism which, sadly, is often manifested in the speeches of members of the Minister's party. There is an unwillingness to address the human dimension to the aspiration they all have, which amounts to an almost imperialist claim by this part of Ireland to take control of that part of Ireland. That has been talked about at length by historians and politicians and we have learned a lot about ourselves over the past 20 years.

What is not so fashionable, however, is the other kind of imperialism, the British imperialism. As my friend and colleague, Senator Robb, said last week, it is not just we who have a claim on Northern Ireland, it is the United Kingdom Government who make a claim. It is too [898] simple and almost naive to pretend that the British Government's interest in Northern Ireland is as benevolent as they would have us believe and as many politicians in this country would have us believe, too.

I do not believe that the British Government would ever have subscribed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and to the commitment that if a majority of the people of Northern Ireland supported Irish unity then they would facilitate it, if they believed for one second that such a majority would ever exist in Northern Ireland. I do not believe them. I do not believe there is a scrap of evidence from history that British Governments, of whatever political complexion, have been prepared to spend the billions of pounds that they spend in Northern Ireland every year, benevolently to protect the interests of a community that did not serve any purpose for them. They abandoned the 70 to 80 per cent of the population of South Africa without a second thought. They have renegotiated the status of Hong Kong without giving the citizens of Hong Kong as much as the right to vote on what has been negotiated in their names.

I refuse to believe that the British Government's interest in Northern Ireland is simply to reflect and protect the rights of the majority. They have abandoned larger majorities. They have abandoned people in more strategically located positions when it suited their interests. When we get the unguarded opinions of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as we got yesterday, then we see another side to British interests in Ireland, that is, the interests of a large country in keeping a foothold of influence in a smaller neighbouring country.

There is a majority in a part of Ireland whose fears about Irish unity are by and large well justified, and who were correct 70 years ago in suggesting that Home Rule would be Rome Rule. I do not believe that there was a scrap of doubt that the Protestants of Ireland would [899] have suffered grievously under an All-Irish Government in the 1920s. The history of the Roman Catholic Church, of which I am still a practising member, would not give anybody to believe that they would have been other than tolerated. They would have been let go to church — we would not have closed down their churches — but their values, their aspirations, their ideas of how a society should be organised, their ideals about the structure of society, about family, about other things, would not have been given a second's thought. I have absolutely no doubt about that. I accept it is a hypothesis but my feeling would be, looking at the historical development of this part of Ireland, that Protestant sentiments would have mattered very little in the ferment of nationalistic rhetoric that characterised the early years of this State.

Having said that, however, I do not believe that it is a sensitivity to their needs and fears or a commitment to their loyalty that maintains the British interest in Northern Ireland. I believe there are clear, strategic, political and indeed economic reasons why the United Kingdom Government would wish to have a foothold on both sides of the Irish Sea. There is enormous evidence of the use of the Irish Sea by the submarines of a variety of major world powers and I do not believe the United Kingdom would be too happy not to be able to maintain surveillance of the Irish Sea from both sides of the sea.

I do not believe that the British Establishment has yet entirely accepted that we are capable of governing ourselves. Usually this is not said, but on occasions like this week things are said about this country that reflect a perception of us which is not far different from their perception of any other semi-colonised country. I refer to the refusal, for instance, to accept that such a thing as due process of law exists, the refusal to accept that the things that they claim to espouse — for instance, separation of powers — actually exist in this country in a way which seems to me to be far more visibly true than [900] would be the case in the United Kingdom. When one sees all that, it is naive and simplistic to believe that the only reason the United Kingdom Government maintain their position visá-vis Northern Ireland is that the majority wish them to do so. It is palpable nonsense, in the light of British pragmatism about much bigger countries and much bigger issues. It is a very convenient reason to be involved in Ireland, but it is not necessarily the biggest reason. The biggest reason that has motivated British Governments for generations to do various things is the protection of British interests.

The British have a perpetual obsession about instability on this island. They perpetually lecture us about the threat to democracy in this part of the island from the Provisional IRA. I would not wish for one second to be governed by the Provisional IRA, but I do not believe they represent the scale of threat to democracy here that some British spokesmen would have us believe. What that reflects is a British obsession with instability in this island and a British determination to keep a foothold and keep an interest. I do not believe the United Kingdom would be happy to have a country as near as we are which would not be a member of NATO, which might have a capacity and a willingness to operate and think independently and which might choose Governments which would not be of their liking.

That side of the equation and of the discussion is rarely mentioned, perhaps because almost alone Sinn Féin and the IRA are the ones who articulate the view about British imperialism. I do not accept the Sinn Féin analysis of British imperialism as the only problem, the only solution being to get rid of it. I do not accept that, but there is a long way between rejecting their singular obsession with British imperialism and the position where one pretends it does not exist. I do not believe the present British Government would have given a commitment to support Irish unity if they dreamed for one second that it would happen. They would not have given an [901] unqualified agreement to that effect. It would have been heavily qualified and heavily linked with protection of British interests if they thought that it was likely to happen. Therefore, I do not accept the common argument that the Anglo-Irish Agreement represents a significant shift in British thinking.

At this stage it is appropriate to talk about some of the things that have been said in the past few days. Perhaps one of the reasons I will never be a member of a Government or Taoiseach is that I do not believe silence is necessarily the appropriate retort to some of the things that have been said about us recently. I want to put it on record as a fairly frequent and vigorous critic of many of the institutions of the State, that I am absolutely certain that a citizen is safer in this jurisdiction than he is in Britain.

I am certain I would feel far more secure having my rights defended by the Irish Judiciary than I would if I ever had to deal with the British Judiciary. I am not saying that just because I am Irish. I am saying any citizen in this country has a better chance of having his rights vindicated by the Irish courts and the Irish Constitution than a citizen of the United Kingdom would have in the British courts and under the British constitution. I think that our courts — and our Supreme Court in particular — have a record of absolute independence and of scrupulous defence of the rights of the individual, notwithstanding my frequent disagreements with some of their decisions, which is not matched by the British superior courts. A classic and simple example is the fact that the British superior courts accept that matters which concern the security of the State are matters which can justify a lot of strange actions by the government. That is a view that most governments would take.

The difference between our courts and the British courts is that our courts say that they have the right to adjudicate on whether the Government are right in saying that a certain matter impinges on the security of the State. They have an absolute, untrammelled right to demand that a Government explain to the court [902] why a certain action was justified because of the security of the State, whereas the British Judiciary have conceded totally to the British Government the right to determine what impinges on the security of the State. We could not have had in this country — I say this in response to what has been said about my country in the past two days — an incident similar to the de-trade unionising of the entire workforce in GCHQ without the Government who tried to do it having to go through the most rigorous cross-examination in the courts of this country because of the severe impingement on the rights of the individual. We could not have had it. The independence of the Irish courts is something that perhaps people in Britain do not appreciate.

As a country we should not at present do anything other than give full support to the Taoiseach. It is an unusual thing for me to say but I do not believe any Irish person serves either the people of this country or the people of Northern Ireland by giving any impression that we would approve in any way of a dressing down being given to the leader of this country by the British Prime Minister this week. I, as one of the most vocal critics of this Government, would like to put that on the record. I do not accept that any Prime Minister of any other democracy has a right to treat us as if we were something like a client State. We are an independent nation with an independent Judiciary and a democratically elected Parliament and we regulate our affairs as we see fit in the interests of Irish people and international peace.

I do not believe that we should be in any way influenced by the gutter press in Britain, which is owned incidentally by somebody who was described in the Sunday Observer magazine last week as one of the two or three real confidants that Mrs. Thatcher has, Rubert Murdock. He claims to be one of two or three people who can contact Mrs. Thatcher any time, any day he wishes to talk to her. I do not think we should undermine or understate the significance of that. It is newspapers that Mr. Murdock owns which are among those who say the worst [903] things about us as a people. Therefore, I do not believe it is entirely coincidental that these foul-mouthed racist comments are made by newspapers owned by a friend of the British Prime Minister.

I am actually being quite restrained in what I say. I could have said, and felt like saying, a lot worse. We as a nation have been greviously insulted. I must say that there is a serious question about whether the determination to sustain the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the determination to be seen to be, as we all are, against the use of violence in Northern Ireland, should continue to persuade us that we must co-operate with a Government which feels entitled, whenever it does not get its way, to treat us with such complete contempt. I specifically refer to that on the issue of extradition.

We know very well that this country is not a haven for terrorists — far from it. God knows how many thousands of people have been detained under the Offences Against the State Act. Statistics show that proportionately a larger proportion of our population has been detained for questioning under the Offences Against the State Act than has been detained in Britain under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It is something I have frequently condemned. I know that we have had breaches of the law and I believe that we have had abuses of suspects in the interests of dealing with paramilitary violence. I know that we had a state of emergency. I know that we have the Offences Against the State Act. I know that a man from the same city as myself is serving four years in prison because he was convicted of membership of the IRA on the basis of a poster he had in his possession which supported the IRA. He was convicted and got five years in prison, which was reduced to four years. It would not happen in Northern Ireland. If it did happen our Government would be the first to complain. I utterly reject any suggestion that there is any safe haven down here.

What we have is what apparently the British approve of for themselves but [904] would not have us have — an independent Judiciary. It is an imperfect, independent Judiciary in the same way as all judiciaries are imperfect because they are made up of human beings, but it is independent. If we are not going to be allowed the dignity of an equal partner in an equal partnership, if it is not a partnership of equals, then it should not exist at all. If the British Government have not yet got it into their heads that we are an independent nation with an independent tradition and history, then it is time our Government educated them about the basic facts of Irish history. While many of us very strongly oppose the present Government, we are not going to have this Government or any other Government humiliated simply because one particular Prime Minister, at a particular time when she sees herself more and more as monarch rather than Prime Minister, takes offence because a small country does not do, on the spot, what she wants. That is all I have to say about recent events.

There is more that needs to be said about Northern Ireland and I would like to echo some of the sentiments of my colleague, Senator Ross, in the terms of the amendment that we have proposed. It is true that this country needs reconciliation. Reconciliation implies truth. It implies being prepared to face up to the truth, not about the other side but the truth about ourselves. I believe there is an element of Roman Catholic imperialism in the sort of traditional Catholic nationalism that this part of the State has espoused. Therefore, not just politicians, who tend to be in many ways more flexible, but the churches have an obligation to reflect on their history, not in some sense of self-justification but to reflect in painful and often difficult and embarrassing detail on their loyalties, their history and their views. I have already referred at length to the ambivalences of all the churches on violence, particularly violence used by establishment forces, often in wars of colonialism. Out of that has to come repentance and the willingneses to say we were wrong and we are sorry. I do not believe yet that we [905] have got anywhere near that in the relationship between our churches.

It is an extraordinary contradiction that the ecumenical movement in this country, while it is developing, is far less developed than in many countries where there are no wars which involve Catholics and Protestants. Of course, it is not a religious war, but one of the reasons for the trouble is a total lack of communication, a total lack of contact and a total lack of appreciation by one side of the other side's traditions, perspective and history and particularly of their fears. In that context the more we have contact between people of different religious traditions, the more we can hope to break down those misunderstandings and those fears.

Notwithstanding the increasing view down here that they are all different up there, I have seen people from the most militant Protestant areas of Belfast come to life in my own city and in west Cork and settle down into a Gaeltacht community. A man from the Shankill Road, married to a woman from the west Cork Gaeltacht, came to live in west Cork and set up a small industry there. He is at home there; he is not a stranger or a foreigner there. He is one who told that he feels he is part of the same people. Whatever the divisions, whatever the differences, there is a lot that Irish people have in common. The history of our uncertainties in sporting matters is clear testimony that there are divisions but we are not clearly divided into two different nations.

The churches have hidden behind denominational barriers to make life easy for themselves. I give a simple example and this is a criticism of my own church. A new common baptismal certificate for the children of inter-church marriages has been agreed. The churches on my side of the division that have agreed to it are the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales and the Catholic Church in Ireland. Our church apparently could not accept the prefix “Roman” to its name even though our other churches in England, Wales and Scotland could do [906] so. I regard that as a symptom of how far we still have to go. There is a long list.

We should be encouraging inter-church marriage in this country and there is no better place in which to develop understanding between two human beings than in a marriage. It is an extraordinary fact that all of our churches would prefer one of theirs to marry a bad one of the same community than a good convinced Christian of a different community. I find that a total inversion of Christian values and something to be regretted. We have not gone nearly far enough in ecumenical developments. We should be pushing the limits of ecumenical development but we are far from it. We are the followers on, we follow behind but we do not do nearly enough. There are, unfortunately, endless examples.

To achieve reconciliation between communities in this island, particularly in Northern Ireland, also involves bringing people back into the mainstream. It involves ending that word which is now so fashionable, “alienation”. It is an interesting fact that in the last few weeks the Garda have produced an analysis of areas in this city which describes something that sounds awfully like Northern Catholic alienation. I hope we learn in time about alienation. I hope we learn in time to deal with it, but in Northern Ireland it exists.

On the question of alienation, you must give people a feeling they are in a society where they are treated fairly and decently by the courts and the security forces. There are apparently close to 100 young men in the town of Strabane who do not feel it is worth their while going out at night because they can be assured if they go out they will be harassed by the security forces, not once but every night. You cannot tell a community that this is a fair system of security, that this is a fair society. That is a prerequisite.

It is in that context that I would state my opposition to extradition. Those who are most alienated in Northern Ireland, those who have suffered most over the past 70 years and indeed over the past 20 years, see extradition as yet another sign [907] that they are on their own, that nobody is really interested in their welfare, that nobody identifies with their feelings and nobody really cares. It has been said to me that it is impossible to accept the sincerity of a Government — and it is not just this Government — who claim to be concerned about the unfairness of the judicial process in Northern Ireland but who, at the same time, are prepared to extradite people to be tried under that judicial process. You cannot have it both ways.

As a conclusion, I want to put on the record of this House some disturbing events connected with the International Fund for Ireland. You cannot end alienation by ignoring the alienated. You may not like the manifestations of alienation. You may not like the political representatives that the alienated choose for themselves. You may not like the manifestations of their alienation, particularly the use of force, but you will not get rid of alienation by pretending it does not eixst. You will only make it worse. What appears to be happening in West Belfast since the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and in particular since the setting up of the International Fund for Ireland is an attempt to set up parallel structures in West Belfast which are under the control of perhaps the only agency in West Belfast which could not be seen to be affected by Sinn Féin, that is, the Roman Catholic Church. There is history of extraordinary changes in policy, of extraordinary unwillingness to support community enterprise that is so well documented that it is time it was addressed by the Government down here.

I appreciate the difficulties but let me give some examples. A very prominent member of the church in Belfast said, for instance, that part of West Belfast's problem is that there are so few people with sufficient experience and resources to bring forward plans for new projects and to research them. That sounds extremely plausible. The Bishop of Down and Connor made that statement.

A cursory study of West Belfast will [908] show that in 1971 Ballymurphy Enterprises were set up and developed a number of factories etc. I do not want to waste the time of the House by going into the details, but at its height Ballymurphy Enterprises had a new 7,000 square foot factory employing 20 workers. An industrial co-operative was employing three men, a building company was establishing a co-operative on the site and another subsidiary company has commenced production of block-mounted pictures. This was all happening in 1972-73. It continued up to 1979. In March 1979 the little industrial training complex of temporary wooden huts was totally destroyed by an early morning fire. The training facilities were immediately transferred to the new purpose-built industrial training centre. A few weeks later the electricity service moved on to the site to dismantle the electricity services. In November the British regular Army marched into the Ballymurphy Industrial Estate, the four small factories were occupied under martial law regulations and the occupants unceremoniously ordered at gunpoint to vacate. Community enterprise was squashed by the agents of the State. That was once. Then later on it happened a second time.

I suspect the Minister's Department, and perhaps the Minister, have heard of Conway Mills. Conway Mills is a much maligned institution, a much maligned exercise in community work. I want to read in some detail what happened. Education began and a crèche was established for infants. The mill theatre and conference centre became a hive of activity. On the floors below a furniture retailer installed his business. Close by a furniture manufacturer commenced operations. There was a small block-mounting business, as well as glass crafts manufacture, a small electrical engineering company and the daily Irish language newspaper . At the back of the premises, a garage and bodywork shop were installed. Forty people were working full-time within the complex. A floor was being developed into an office suite and an accountancy firm had taken up a tenancy. Without any enterprise zone assistance, without [909] Departmental funding, Conway Enterprises was becoming a hive of commercial, educational and social activity.

Let it be said that this was all in West Belfast. It would be impossible to have anything happening in West Belfast which was entirely run by people who would be regarded by the security forces in Northern Ireland as above suspicion, given the nature of political support in West Belfast. In 1985 Douglas Hurd issued a statement in the House of Commons warning that Government funding would not be directed towards community groups which directly or indirectly associated with or contributed to people who were thought to be directly or indirectly associated with paramilitary organisations. Unfortunately, a member of the SDLP chose to identify Conway Enterprises as a paramilitary front organisation and all funding then stopped.

Apart from the demerits of doing that, in the light of what happened in Ballymurphy and in the Conway Mills, it is astonishing to find such an eminent commentator as the bishop saying that no skills and no talents existed in West Belfast to set up community enterprises. At the same time a succession of groups were being set up, some of which I will list: Fryers Bush Limited, the directors being Bishop Cathal Daly and Bishop Patrick Walsh and Reverend Professor McCoy; West Belfast Development Trust, with one priest on the board of directors; Glenwood Enterprises with one priest on the board of director's; Cathedral Community Enterprises with two priests and one nun on the board of directors and Townsend Enterprise Park has Father Mathew Wallace, another priest on the board of directors. It is a disturbing indication of an attempt to shift community development away from community controlled organisations to the control of the Roman Catholic Church.

Apart from being wrong in principle, it is also wrong in the sense that you will not end alienation by pretending you can ignore the people who are alienated. You may not like what they are doing but [910] what is happening in West Belfast is an attempt by the Church to the single channel of aid through the International Fund for Ireland. I find it ironic that many of the liberals who sit in front of me here and who would be so critical of the church attempting to take over anything down here will sit back quietly and watch the church take over virtually everything in West Belfast.

There is more. There are the attempts by the Divis residents' association to set up various agencies — a crèche — and the church suddenly sets up a crèche the following week. They set up various enterprises and each enterprise that is set up is paralleled by a church controlled enterprise. The regrettable fact of this is that it is difficult to accept that what was said about the absence of talent either reflects a lack of knowledge or a political agenda. You cannot end alienation simply by telling people they must go to a new body. You will not end alienation by creating dependence. You will only end alienation by creating a community. If people feel that their stake in society through their involvement in society is sufficiently advanced they are the ones who will decide of their own volitìon that they no longer need violence and are no longer prepared to support violence. Notwithstanding all the horrible things that have been done — and they are horrible — the IRA would not exist to the extent that it does if it did not have the tacit support of a considerable number of people in Northern Ireland.

It is too simple and too easy to issue lectures about morality. What we have to do is to persuade by argument, by support and by resources, those who currently support violence that there is a different way. The basic persuasions must involve justice in terms of the operation of the courts and the security forces, justice in terms of employment, which is why I still support the MacBride Principles, and justice in terms of the allocation of resources in the areas of greatest alienation and no more attempts to manipulate those people by setting up safe control structures which give the [911] impression of being community organisations but which are not under democratic community control.

The people of West Belfast are not savages, they are not uncivilised, but are brave people who have suffered more than anybody should be asked to suffer. So, incidentally, are many working class Protestants in Northern Ireland who have suffered for different reasons. That is why I was so happy to put my name to an amendment which was entered first of all by the one Member of the Houses of the Oireachtas — I will embarrass him now because he is here; I thought he would not be here and I could say it — who knows what it is like first to live in Northern Ireland, secondly to be a Protestant in Northern Ireland and thirdly, and perhaps the most painfully of all, to be a Protestant who breaks out of the ranks of his own tribe and suffers the consequences of that. This House has a particular obligation to listen to the words of the one person who does not have to analyse it from the position of a politician, historian, commentator or a journalist but from living in the midst of it, and particularly has to think about where his children are going to live and what sort of a society his children are going to inherit. That is why those who introduced a simple two line amendment saying that we should throw out the claim to sovereignty are wrong.

It is also why Fianna Fáil speeches around the country which attempt to portray the problem as being a matter of acquisition of territory are also wrong. A number of things have betrayed the cause of Ulster Protestants in Ireland. One of those has been the despicable unwillingness of Fianna Fáil to confront the Catholic Church in recent years and, in particular, the spectacle of the divorce referendum which did more damage to the cause of people like Senator Robb than people down here have yet to begin to imagine. Any belief that doubting Thomases or Protestants would have had in Northern Ireland about the nature of this State, any belief that we had changed, and were a pluralist society in [912] which different traditions and aspirations could have an equal role, were scotched by that referendum. Rightly or wrongly, it was seen as a flexing of muscles by an alliance between the largest party in this State and the largest church in this State and a quite clear assertion that we are prepared to talk nicely but on the real crunch issues we are prepared to give, in the characteristic words of Ulster Unionists, “not any inch”.

That is the crux of the problem we have to confront ourselves. We have to confront the entirety of our history, not apologise for it but confront it and see it through. We have also to confront the entirety of the history of Northern Ireland, including the dimension of British imperialism. Our churches have got to confront the entirety of their history including their history of support for violence all over the world all through the history of the churches.

We have also got to be careful, not in a process of trying to politically out-manoeuvre Sinn Féin, not to end up out-manoeuvring ourselves by creating empty hollow structures in west Belfast, in particular, that will have no community support, no community consent and will not achieve anything. You may build all the buildings you wish, but if people do not believe that they are theirs, under their control, serving them for their benefit with their consent, it will achieve nothing except a large waste of money and resources. The problem is that in the area that most needs the funding from the International Fund for Ireland it is going to be impossible to spend that money because we will not allow the local community to control it. I would appeal to the Minister to investigate what is happening in west Belfast to the funds of the International Fund for Ireland.

Mr. McGowan:  This is a subject which is very easy to talk about. The motion “That Seanad Éireann takes note of recent events affecting Northern Ireland” has been on the Order Paper for some time. The recent events change from day to day. There is plenty of rhetoric to describe events, but the picture [913] you get depends on where you sit. I have expressed my commitment on a number of occasions, maybe not as eloquent as others who have more training in speech-making but with no less sincerity.

Today I came through three checkpoints. I left at 6.30 a.m. and in the dark of the morning I was stopped by British soldiers so I know in my bones the feeling of the hard grassroots. I passed through Belfast Airport yesterday and I was not very far away from the security forces. I applaud and appreciate Senator Robb's involvement and the fact that he, a Member of this House, speaks with honesty and conviction. I compliment him and I hope we will get people like Senator Robb who will make an honest and sincere contribution. Therein lies the hope of dialogue to resolve the difficulty. The problem is like a fishing line that is entangled completely; some people would throw it away rather than get down to sorting it out.

Northern Ireland is a good subject to talk about — you can get emotional about it and arouse people. It is going on for so long that most Irish people who are involved in public administration or affairs in their own country are genuinely interested. It is a simplistic attitude to blame the church for lack of action or Fianna Fáil and the present Taoiseach or to look for simple labels to tag onto people. I appreciate having an opportunity of saying, for whatever value it will have, and I am not convinced that it will be of a lot of value — that nobody is being codded in the North of Ireland today. The average person in the North of Ireland today faces a very grim picture on the ground. If there is anything they despise, it is people who look for a platform to describe their plight and difficulties and use it to further their own political ends. That is all too prevalent here. We have seen parties and individuals that are going nowhere and have no great future but they come to this House and the other House, and our media give recognition to such people who look for such a platform. They will be given air time and publicity far quicker than the average, normal, reasonable [914] person on the ground in the North of Ireland.

When one turns on the radio, and I was listening to it on the way to the House, one finds that even Gay Byrne has a solution to this problem. It is ridiculous in the extreme. Everybody who finds himself short of material uses the North of Ireland, which I deplore completely, and so too do the people in the North of Ireland. They are sick listening to stranded politicians and journalists——

An Cathaoirleach:  I presume the Senator is addressing his remarks to the Chair?

Mr. McGowan:  Yes. The people in the North are sick listening to journalists. Quite recently I was watching Gay Byrne interviewing Ken Maginnis and Bernadette McAliskey, formerly Bernadette Devlin. Gay Byrne allowed Ken Maginnis to be shouted down and talked down to by Bernadette McAliskey, who is not now an elected representative. That is the sort of thing I am talking about. Nobody will buy it.

Everybody wants politics to work in the North of Ireland. Not too long ago — in 1973-74 — we had an election for the Assembly in the North of Ireland, which Assembly lasted five months. The people in political power in England said they wanted politics to work in the North of Ireland but while they were saying that, they were disbanding the political Assembly in the North of Ireland. They disbanded the Assembly and the Members were then left without a salary. Everyone knows that politics is a way of life. Politicians' income and resources to sustain their families can run very thin at times.

I venture to say that those people who were in politics in the North had very few resources at the time the Assembly was disbanded. They were put out of business when their cheques stopped coming through the post. The people who stopped the cheques were the very people who were calling for politics to work in the North of Ireland. I do not know how they reconcile the two measures. I have [915] seen at close quarters the members who were elected to the Assembly coming close together. I have seen those very same people being forced out of politics when they were down to the point where they did not have enough money to pay for a single-bar electric fire, their telephone was cut off and they had to leave the area. That is how far the British pushed those who stood up and tried to make politics work. They put them out of business forever while, at the same time, saying: “We will get an initiative to make politics work in the North.” It does not make sense to the average thinking person in the North. I do not believe the British were ever serious about getting politics to work in the North.

I have no time for paramilitaries of any kind and I deplore all the actions of the IRA. My simple question to the IRA is to ask what they have achieved in the past 20 years? In Lifford, a little town in Donegal, that is nearest the Border, there were perhaps three gardaí in the town and a note would be put on the door of the barracks to say that if a Garda was needed after 5 o'clock to phone the garda's house. Now we have 60 gardaí and maybe 12 sergeants. Across the Border from County Donegal there are 7 military bases — major concrete bunkers that cannot be bombed or blown up which contain sophisticated modern listening equipment. My county which I claim has tourist potential is ringed by seven British military bases which makes it nearly impossible for a tourist to think about braving the Border to go into my county. That is the tragedy of the North

I ask the IRA to say what they have achieved and if there are any leaders prepared to sit down and assess the situation? How many lives have been lost? How many accidents and accidental killings have been caused? How many of their own men have they lost? I appeal to the House and to everybody else to ask the IRA to assess their achievements over the past 20 years. As the song says, the barbed wire is going higher and higher. People who have small farms of land or small businesses on both sides of [916] the Border are now taking their lives in their hands if they go out on a dark evening. It is a case that if you see the flash of the lamp you live and if you do not see it you are dead. That is where we stand at present. Driving through the North of Ireland on a wet, dark November day it is a case of being lucky to see the flash of the lamp and the personnel are anxious that you see it. All these risky factors in survival exist in that part of the world. That is where the IRA has brought us to.

I do not know how the previous speaker, although I know he is sincere, can blame the church and church leaders, and Fianna Fáil and their leaders because that is not to understand the situation. I would use this debate as an opportunity to ask the Provisional IRA to assess the situation. At the end of the day everybody involved who has taken life will have to sit down and assess what they have done, what they have achieved and where they are going. I believe that the IRA will have to be forced and isolated to the point of doing that.

I have to compliment Deputy John Kelly on his honest and reasonable contribution on television last night and the night before. He spoke in solid honest terms to the British, who had some very unreasonable people who made some very unresonable contributions. John Kelly stood up for his own country and he did not allow the atmosphere or the politics of the day to take over. He made an honest contribution. I was in London on Monday night and saw him being interviewed at length by the British media, and I saw him again last night. In my opinion he made a good and honest contribution. More such direct talk has got be be directed at the British. We are told that Mrs. Thatcher is furious, and I am not surprised because whether we like or dislike Mrs. Thatcher she is a successful politician. Mrs. Thatcher is only using the first opportunity——

An Cathaoirleach:  I am afraid the Senator will have to refer to Mrs. Thatcher at least once as the British Prime Minister.

[917]Mr. McGowan:  The British Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, may be furious and she may like to be described as being furious, but she is a fairly clever political operator. She must have been looking for an opportunity to respond to the delicate, difficult and weak situation that she found herself in after the Stalker, Gibraltar and other affairs and the killings that have gone on for a long time and cannot be explained. That is a legacy she would find very difficult to defend.

If I had an opportunity, which most likely I will not, I would say to the British Prime Minister that very few Irish people believe that the British had not an administration or a death squad that went to take people out. They took them out in the North and they took them out in Gibraltar. It does not matter what trial or inquest took place, those people were taken out and Mrs. Thatcher knows that and the Irish and the British know that. Some British people are prepared to condone that type of justice but the average person in the North and in the South of Ireland — certainly nine out of ten — are totally convinced that the British have a structure of military operation who believe it is expedient to take out undesirables. One would be a hypocrite to say other than that the British sent people to take out those undesirables who were in Gibraltar and elsewhere. Mr. John Stalker was taken off the case. They have a way of administering justice that we have very little confidence in and that is a big part of the problem.

Mrs. Thatcher is aware that everyone in Ireland is not a gombeen and she was right to become furious because she is shifting the tide in politics. However, I would not lie awake at night over the British Prime Minister getting furious.

Over the past 20 years many people in the North and in the South have expressed their concern and offered advice — some have even risked their lives. I would put forward one theory which I believe has played a part, and that is economic neglect of the North of Ireland. I have claimed consistently that since the disbandment of the Assembly in the North there has been economic [918] devastation of the Border area. I have no long written submission or lengthy dossier. I have a simple approach and a simple knowledge of the situation in the North. I have a page to hand and I will give a copy of it with my compliments to the Minister. It indicates that there is a black area in the North.

Senator Ryan talked about what was happening in Strabane. The tragedy is that Strabane has the highest percentage of unemployed people in Europe. You cannot have the highest percentage of unemployed people anywhere without paying a price, and that is a hopelessness among young people. The statistics I have given to the Minister are based on 1981 figures and they have become much more serious since then. It is now admitted that Strabane and Derry have the highest percentage of unemployed people in Europe and those who are administering from Westminister have to recognise that they have not contributed a fair share to its development and prosperity. They have starved those areas and that is providing a breeding ground, an environment and a social structure for the IRA and the paramilitaries to survive.

First, the British have not allowed politics to work and, second they have economically devastated the area. West of the Bann there is little or no development. There are a number of development associations and development boards but at the end of the day the only industries that are encouraged to set up west of the Bann are high risk industries that do not last under local political pressures. I hope that one day some sane people responsible for the affairs in the North will recognise that there will have to be restructuring of the community and thus give the people a decent way to earn a living without queueing up at a dole office. They have destroyed the soul, and the future hopes of young boys and girls in that area. The school-leaver has no chance other than to emigrate. Is it any wonder then that those people revolt and join paramilitary organisations?

I would say discussing a motion on Northern Ireland is an opportunity for the House to say that the IRA and those [919] who follow it are going nowhere, that politics must be made to work in the North and that there must be an economic input in the affairs of the North. I ask that this House recommend to Mary-field, through the Anglo-Irish Agreement, to consider improving the economic lot of those young people who might yet be encouraged to turn away from violence and to believe that there is a future in their time. After 20 years it is very difficult for young people to have any hope that their area will produce a reasonable and happy environment to live in.

The situation in the North has caused serious devastation to my county, Donegal. I have already mentioned how it has affected tourism and the average industrialist who comes into the country. No matter how difficult it is to attract industry to counties Mayo, Clare, Sligo or Tipperary, there is an added difficulty when you have to escort a prospective business developer around the Border area. If he flies into Dublin or Belfast he will travel by motor car to inspect the prospective site. After a little while he senses the situation and he is not encouraged. Sadly, I make that statement. We have had many potential developers who were not encouraged and who disappeared nicely into the background. That is what the troubles are doing not only for the Six Counties but for other counties including my own. Counties Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth have also been affected. The map has shown up these areas and it was not prepared by somebody who had a political case to present for or against the future of the North. The statistics, the figures and the coloring of the map were arrived at by people who were doing an honest exercise. It is an economically black area and it must be tackled. It cannot be left in abeyance without paying a price and the price is that it leaves young people without hope to go forward.

At the end of the day, when we are finished and when everybody has made [920] his contribution there will be many different theories. There is a theory which was advanced by a Unionist representative recently. He went to some member of the SDLP and said “What are you worried about? Some 54 per cent of the 12-year-olds are Catholics. In eight years time you should vote us out of it”. However, that will not happen because there will be emigration. He said that some issue will come up and it will happen perhaps not in eight or 12 years but in about 16 years. Would it not be a tragedy if his forecast was right and Catholics in the North had to get a majority before the problems could be resolved? If that is the kind of hope we project what would we achieve? We would achieve a similar situation to the one we have but with the scales balanced the other way.

I would never get carried away about this because I know many people and whatever their religious persuasion they are also hard-headed business people. We must negotiate to ensure the future of this country. The people in the North, whether they are Protestant or Catholic, will have to survive in a tough, hard Europe. The people in the North have more in common with those in the South. This was brought home to me very forcibly yesterday when I attended a conference of the Community in respect of peripheral maritime regions. We had about 70 delegates from Wales and Scotland. It was organised by the British. This organisation is a think-tank for the EC and submits programmes and policies to it. It was extraordinary to see that the British mainland was very concerned and that Wales and Scotland were heavily represented but there was no concern about Northern Ireland. They, as a peripheral area, were not represented, there was no voice to speak for them. Every time I look at it I say that the interests of the hardline Protestant in the North will be better served the day that Ireland is united as a country and as a people.

Mr. Robb:  Hear, hear.

Mr. McGowan:  Britain does not care a lot about Ireland. It is a bloody nuisance [921] to them. That was abundantly evident long ago. A few things are crystal clear and our elected representatives must tell them to the British, clearer and clearer and louder and louder until they are heard. There is no confidence in the British administration of justice in Northern Ireland. Honest, reasonable people in the North have said to me: “How the hell could we believe in British justice in Northern Ireland when you have the Justice walking on 12 July at the front of the Orange Order parade?” It cannot be done and never will be done until they sort themselves out and are honest, open and fair.

Our technology and our communications systems are improving all the time. Those who are living with the cave mentality are losing out and will lose out. The British have a responsibility. They created the situation in the North and they have a major responsibility to resolve it. We also have a major responsibility and that is to negotiate with the British. Whether or not their Prime Minister or anybody else gets hot under the collar, we are not to be misled. We know where the real problems lie. The problems are with the British. They are leading the people in the North down a road with nothing at the end of it. At the end of the day, when lives are lost and opportunities are lost, the British will have to negotiate and the hardliner in the North, whether he is Protestant or Catholic, will have to negotiate. There is no other way. I would welcome the day if we had a programme of joint development where if, say, Harland and Wolff were in big danger we could join them as partners and help them to sustain employment in the North for Protestants and Catholics and if we could get involved jointly in, say, gas exploration and put forward joint ventures that would give employment to young people.

We must get on to this track. We must defeat the paramilitaries. We must defeat those who are hell-bent on using politics and religion to cover up for their own lack of ability to do something positive. We must not be misled by Mrs. Thatcher or anybody else. Britain is hoping that [922] the North will go away. They are not going to do very much about it. It will not go away. All we can do is to encourage our Government to be constant and consistent. There are enough good people on this island, North and South, to see that we all play our part in Europe. It is not a question of when the Border will go; it is when the people of the North and South unite to improve their lot on this island.

Mr. Ferris:  As someone from Tipperary, it is appropriate that I have some input into this resolution which takes note of the events of recent days particularly which would affect Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations.

I appreciate and admire the contributions of Senators like Senator McGowan, who live on the Border and are faced daily with the problem as it pertains in that part of the country. I have the utmost respect for people like Senator Robb who comes from the other tradition, religious and political, and makes a contribution in this House. It is a lesson for all of us who have the comfort and privilege of being far removed from the political and other difficulties in the North of Ireland. I also speak for a party in this House which played a major role in the negotiations that led up to the Anglo-Irish Agreement through our party Leader, as Tánaiste of the day. We played a role in the Forum to which the Unionists were invited to attend and participate and which, in their wisdom or otherwise, they refused to do. The Forum led on to the Agreement called the Anglo-Irish Agreement which is a living breathing thing.

The Agreement, is not, and never was intended to be, an end in itself. It was conceived, designed and developed as a framework, a means to an end. Because of the confusion and ambiguity that surrounds different interpretations of the Agreement, it is necessary that we should remind ourselves of that fact. To listen to some remarks being made by different people in this debate and throughout the country, it is possible to reach the conclusion that the Agreement is somehow [923] going to be dumped or abandoned. That is an alarmist and unnecessary conclusion to reach. First, even if he wanted to, it is not possible for the Taoiseach to abrogate the Agreement just as it is not possible for Mrs. Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, to abrogate the Agreement. It is an international treaty, registered at the United Nations and there is no clause in it which makes it possible for either side to walk away from it.

Secondly, there is no evidence that the Taoiseach wants to walk away from this Agreement. He has given no indication whatsoever to that effect. In fact, earlier this year, the Taoiseach asked the Dáil to reaffirm its commitment to the aims and objectives to the Agreement. It is naive to expect the Taoiseach to cling to the Agreement with the same sense of commitment as those that developed it, including the leader of my party, because the Taoiseach was not involved in the first place. One must give credit where it is due and it is only fair to point out that there has been no deviation from the principle of adherence to the international agreement since this Government took office.

Thirdly, the Agreement is not the vital thing. What is vital is the set of objectives the Agreement set out. The principal objectives are the need to develop the unique relationship between the people of these islands and the close co-operation between the two countries. This is a matter that was referred to by Senator McGowan. It is imperative to diminish divisions in Northern Ireland and achieve lasting peace and stability. There is a need to reconcile and acknowledge the rights of the two major traditions that exist in Ireland today, recognising that a condition of reconciliation and dialogue involves mutual recognition and acceptance by each community of the rights and heritage of the other. There is need to ensure an acceptance throughout the community that violence does not represent any way forward and to ensure that there is a society in the North that is free from discrimination and intolerance. [924] Those are some of the objectives of the Agreement.

If one examines the performance of the Government by reference to these objectives as fairly and objectively as possible, it must be said that the performance measures up reasonably well. There are certainly few grounds for seeking to dismantle an all-party approach to the difficult questions surrounding the North. They are not to be found in the performance of the present Government. To be sure, there are grounds for criticism of poor tactical judgments in relation to some issues that have come up but in overall terms — it is appropriate to put it on the record of the House — I do not find any grounds for accusing the Taoiseach in the extreme way that many of his critics have in recent times.

It must be said that the deterioration in Anglo-Irish relations, notwithstanding the Agreement, is not of the Taoiseach's making. The extraordinary insensitiveness shown by the British Government and the ineptness of its handling has been met on our side with firmness and pragmatism. This brings me to a point that has been covered by several Senators and that is the insensitive and provocative statements made by the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher and the insensitive and libellous statements made by some segments of the British press in connection with the case involving a constituent of mine. I was pleased to learn that litigation is likely to arise with some segments of the British media in relation to the Father Ryan case. It was unfortunate to listen to the extraordinary contributions of Members of the House of Commons in Britain who raised their voices in this criticism of us.

Mr. Robb:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Ferris:  They still want to treat us as if we were not a sovereign State in our own right. I resent that as a democratic politician who has for years condemned the Provisional IRA and everything they stand for and who has tried to improve relations between our two countries because we are so dependent on one [925] another. It behoves all of us to be responsible at this time. That responsibility also lies with the British Government. The criticism made by the British Prime Minister yesterday in the House of Commons was made on a day when that country and that Prime Minister were found guilty by the European Court of Human Rights in relation to their legislation in connection with the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Who are they to preach at us, a sovereign State, about what procedures we have in place or what procedures we follow or do not follow in a particular case?

Do they forget that we have not short memories in regard to their actions and the actions of their Government in connection with the Stalker affair, the report therefrom and the fact that no action was taken? If the case was reversed there might be some criticism levelled at us. What happened when a British soldier was found guilty of murder in a court procedure? He had his sentence remitted after 18 months and he was then reinstated in the same army in which he committed the murder. What kind of confidence can anybody in this country have in an administration that allows that to happen? What about the performance of the British army or its agents in Gibraltar which has been referred to and the additional documentation that has been presented by Deputy Dick Spring, Leader of the Labour Party, relating to that affair?

That is why all clear thinking people question and worry about extradition. I can understand why there is so much resentment within the Government party about their having a hand, act or part to do with extradition. People do not have a sense of confidence that in the British jurisdiction, in their legal procedures, Irish people will receive a fair trial. That is unfortunate because Britain always prided itself on being fair and above reproach. Unlike ourselves, they do not have a written constitution to protect the rights of individuals. We do and our laws reflect these rights to the best of our ability, even in emergencies. That is why when in cases such as the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, the Winchester [926] case, the Maguire case and other cases which were not the subject of extradition proceedings but were the subject of British justice, evidence was produced which proved that these people were innocent, the system was not geared to allow for terms of reference for appeal hearings to be heard. These people are particularly concerned that their only hope nowadays is to depend on the discretion of the Secretary of State to grant a pardon when he has finished going through whatever legal procedures have been laid down. That is the only reason people are worried about extraditing Irish citizens, particularly where as in Fr. Ryan's case, the warrant was so all-embracing as to cover conspiracy to murder people unknown.

We have agreed arrangements with other European countries, as civilised sovereign States, to deal with terrorists as they should be dealt with. Why should a government who were condemned by the European Court condemn us because we want to put in place procedures that we arranged by way of legislation when the Extradition Bill was being debated? I say that in the knowledge that there are eminent lawyers in Britain who are being quoted publicly and who have not refuted their statements. One of them is Lord Denning who is considered to be a senior legal figure in Britain. I quote from page 27 of a book published by Derek Dunne on the Birmingham Six in which Lord Denning says:

It is better that some innocent people should remain in prison than that the system of justice be brought into disrepute.

That is what worries me about why we should in any way facilitate the sovereign state of Britain by extraditing people who may not receive a fair trial. I am saying this as somebody who has condemned on numerous occasions the activities of the Provisional IRA and I have no qualms of conscience for doing so.

Legislation put in last year which we tried to amend on 7 December, 1987, in [927] the Seanad when we moved an amendment which would put in place a procedure which would require the Government or the applying Government to have a prima facie case established which could be heard publicly in court where the warrants would be made public and where the accused would have a facility to defend himself. That was a tightening up of the procedure to protect the accused in the knowledge that all accused are innocent until proven guilty but the Government, in their wisdom, decided to reject that amendment. I am a democrat and I accept that in a voting procedure in this House that amendment was rejected.

We gave a specific role to the Attorney General which is now enshrined in legislation. We must allow the proper procedures to take place in relation to all cases that come before him, and that includes the Fr. Ryan case. That is now with the Attorney General and he has the statutory responsibility to consider all the evidence. As far as we understand, that evidence is similar to what the Belgian Parliament and Government rejected because they could not justify the warrants under Belgian law. The same should apply here.

If I followed that line of argument I would be removing from the Attorney General his independence, laid down by law to look at the case. I have no doubt that he will look at it in the light of what has been said in Belgium and by us as responsible parliamentarians. He will look at the fact that the British media have made it almost impossible for anybody to be tried under that type of warrant. It is an emotive warrant and it is most insensitive of the British Prime Minister to carry on this campaign of intimidation in relation to our procedures, whether they are the Attorney General's procedures, legal procedures, judicial procedures or the procedures of this Government as laid down in law. That is our message for Mrs. Thatcher.

We will do our business as we see fit. Our performance and commitment in this area is something that Mrs. Thatcher [928] should not readily take on as one of her pet hobby horses because everybody does not kow-tow to her. We are not all wrong and she is not the only one who is right in this area. People who have since been proven innocent and who are still in jail, have to depend on the graciousness of the pardon of her Secretary of State. That is the only reason there is any problem about extradition in the mind of many people in Ireland. I do not know of anybody who condones the harbouring of criminals or those involved in terrorism, the Provisional IRA bombings, the killing of innocent people or anything else. If any legislation can be used to stop that, be it the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Bill or anything else, let us implement it and use it, but while there is any doubt in our minds about the commitment to justice as we understand it and the rights of the individual, let us be very wary.

Anyone who feared that there would be a wilder response from this Government led by the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, has so far little grounds to justify that fear. One must regard the continuing seizure of arms and the diligence of the Garda in hunting down terrorists as showing that there is a commitment to cross-Border security and that this has not been diminished by any of these events, even if some of the atmosphere of trust has been dissipated. The cause of that dissipation of trust has certainly come from the British side only, particularly in relation to Fr. Paddy Ryan's proposed extradition.

The atmosphere generated by many speakers from the Fine Gael side and other people in this debate has been caused by Deputy Haughey's apparent ambiguity of attitude to devolution. This ambiguity, though nothing new, is hard to understand. The Taoiseach has never indicated in the past any commitment to devolution as a long term solution and it is hardly to be expected that he should undergo a sudden conversion of this question. Neither does the Agreement impose any obligations on him to put forward devolution as a solution to this problem. The Agreement describes devolution as [929] the policy of the British Government which the Irish Government supported. The role envisaged in the Agreement for the Irish Government in respect of devolution is to be able to put forward proposals in respect of the ways and means in which devolution might be brought about to ensure that the interests of the minority community would be fully protected.

Clearly, the authors of the Agreement of which Deputy Spring, Leader of the Labout Party was one, did not see fit at the time to write into the Agreement that devolution was the policy to which both Governments were committed. No political party in the republic, to my knowledge, see devolution as the only, or necessarily the best way of bringing about a long term solution in the North of Ireland. No political party to my knowledge has argued that a solution entirely confined to the North of Ireland represents any kind of long term solution at all. Looked at in this light, the Taoiseach has not said anything either new or particularly controversial on this subject.

The question of devolution, of course, is bound up with the issue of power sharing. Northern Unionists have not ruled out either notion in their recent responses to the Agreement. Deputy Haughey has offered to meet Unionist leaders in any forum they suggest and to meet them without preconditions, that is to say, with an open mind. He knows that if he meets them they will want to talk about devolution. He knows that any proposal they put forward will have to recognise the reality of power sharing. In offering to meet them with an open mind, he is saying clearly that he is willing to listen to ideas about devolution and about power sharing. He is saying that he is willing to go as far as possible to ensure that their aspirations and ambitions, and their rights as a community, are accommodated. No other interpretation is possible from the invitation that the Taoiseach has issued to Northern Unionists.

I do not believe there is any party in the Republic committed to peace and dialogue who can take issue with this [930] invitation from the Taoiseach. The task of Opposition politicians in the Republic should be to see that he honours that invitation and that he means it in the spirit I have outlined. Unionists know, as does everyone else, that the Agreement cannot be walked away from. That is why some of them at least have moderated their demands to cover the operation of the Anglo-Irish Conference rather than the Agreement as a whole.

As it happens, it is the operation of the Conference that is under review at present, although some people think it is the whole Agreement. I do not believe it is beyond the ingenuity of both Governments, if there is a will to do so, to ensure in the context of that review that the structures of the Conference are developed to a point where it does not inhibit further dialogue with Unionist opinion. Clearly then, any review must ensure that it remains possible for the interests of the minority community to be fully and effectively represented. That can be done, I feel sure, in a way that Unionist opinion can live with. A dialogue with Unionists based on the recognition of the equal right they share with the Nationalist community is the major prerequisite for further progress. All the signs are that Unionism is ready for that dialogue. All the signs are there that the Irish Government are willing to understand it. No obstacle should be erected in the way of that dialogue.

When Deputy Dick Spring spoke in New York last summer about the Anglo-Irish Agreement he said that it was a time when it was worth taking risks to make progress. It appeared from the reaction to that speech generated at that time that there were still many politicians who would rather cling to entrenched positions than look forward, even if looking forward might lead to a greater chance of reconciliation among the two communities in the North. Some of the reaction to what he said bordered on the hysterical. One newspaper headline, for instance, suggested that he was calling for the removal of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. That, of course, is nonsense. The Anglo-Irish Agreement is the most [931] important instrument to have emerged in the developing relations between Britain and Ireland since the foundation of this State and to remove it or to weaken it would be an unforgiveable act.

When people talk about the Anglo-Irish Agreement they frequently refer to the effect it has on the ground in Northern Ireland or in terms of the effect it has on cross-Border security. There is a tendency to judge the Agreement and to assess its achievements or failures by reference to these criteria alone. Sometimes the major historical achievement of the Agreement is overlooked with this kind of analysis. The day the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed the British Government, for the first time in the history of our relationship, agreed in an internationally promulgated agreement to withdraw from Ireland. There was a condition, of course, and that condition was that the majority of the people of Northern Ireland would wish for, and formally consent to, the establishment of a United Ireland to which all of us aspire in the Twenty-six Counties. This affirmation by the British Government is now enshrined as an instrument formally lodged with the United Nations and neither the British nor the Irish Government can unilaterally walk away from it.

It is worth repeating what I said earlier on this subject: they cannot walk away from it even if they wanted to in the context of this review which has now begun. This is a common misunderstanding about this review and it appears to exist even in the minds of those who should know better. The review is not a review of the Agreement. The historic affirmation I have just referred to still remains intact, even when this review is completed. So will the scope of the Agreement, so will its aims and objectives. The review will examine the workings of the Intergovernmental Conference, no more and no less. To talk of dismantling the Agreement for this reason, like some Unionists have done, is arrant nonsense. Anyone who has read the Agreement should know this.

The Agreement did more, of course, [932] than just enshrine a commitment to withdraw. It created a real and meaningful role for the Government of Ireland in the conduct of affairs in the North of Ireland. I know some Unionists resent this, but this was one of the major achievements of the Agreement, that for the first time we could involve ourselves in the conduct of affairs that concern Northern Ireland particularly in relation to the minority community. That rule was, and is, carried out through the staff members of the Secretariat and through bilateral contacts at ministerial level, as well as through the regular meetings of the Intergovernmental Conference. It is clear that no Government of the Republic could or should consent to the diminution of that role. Even the present Government, who spend a considerable amount of time and energy attacking that position in which the Agreement placed us, appear at least to be coming to the realisation of the value of the role that this Agreement has given them.

We cannot blind ourselves to the fact that progress in many areas has been slow and painful. We cannot ignore that fact that violence continues unabated, particularly the bestial violence of the IRA. We cannot forget that when major difficulties in Anglo-Irish relations emerge or are caused in the main by arrogant and insensitive actions and utterances by the British establishment, as has happened in the case of Father Ryan, that the structures of the Anglo-Irish Agreement were unable to help in bringing these difficulties to a satisfactory conclusion. That is the medium that we should be using to deal with any criticisms that might come at us from the British institutions.

As I said earlier, it is undeniable that the Agreement has forced Unionists to come to terms with reality after spending a year in the belief, which has now turned out to be a delusion, that the Agreement could be brought down by the bully-boy tactics of many Unionists as happened in the past. They have failed and they have now been forced to analyse their position more coldly and more realistically than they have ever done in the past. Many of them have come to the belief that there [933] is no future in just “no surrender” or isolation. That does not mean that they are now willing to countenance a united Ireland. To believe that would be totally unrealistic of us but many of them are willing, perhaps for the first time, to discuss the breaking down of these barriers. Dialogue now might hold the key to a major step forward. We want dialogue but we have to do more than just talk about it. We have to do something to facilitate it. We all know that it would take a great deal to generate the trust and goodwill that will be necessary if dialogue is to succeed, or even if it is to be sustained for a reasonable period so that people on all sides can come to see the merit in talking.

That is why people like Deputy Spring believe — and I believe with him — that we should not be afraid to go further than we have done in the past. Deputy Spring suggested — and what he suggested was being modest, even though specific — that in the context of an non-equivocal statement by Unionists about their attitude to power sharing that the Irish Government should agree to a suspension for a predetermined and limited period of time of the Secretariat — not the Agreement, not the Conference, only the Secretariat. That was a specific commitment and statement by the party leader. It had a time scale. It required a reciprocal response from the Unionists. The proposal did not imply in any way that bilateral contacts between staff or between Ministers should cease. It did not imply that issues of concern to Nationalists should not be raised and dealt with. Neither did it imply any lack of faith in the aims and objectives of the Agreement in the overall sense. The reason for making that proposal was a very simple one. Its purpose was to create the window, where dialogue could take place in an atmosphere of greater trust.

The reason for limiting the time would be precisely to counter the suspicion expressed by some people that suspension would be seen by some Unionists as a victory, and that they would redouble their efforts to have the whole Agreement dismantled. In effect what the Irish [934] Government would be saying to Unionists if they were to agree to these proposals which I have outlined would be: for the next six months you will not have what you have described as the spectre of Maryfield hanging over you. We are taking this step because we do not want to have discussions with you under duress. We want to talk to you on the basis of equality, respecting your position and your commitment to your views. We want to show you we are serious about dialogue. We want to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your own seriousness.

That is the central issue, the issue of whether people are serious. It is up to us who care about peace and human life to flush out those who are phoney about this issue — the godfathers of the IRA, whom Senator McGowan referred to as wondering what they had achieved. They have achieved wealth beyond some of their wildest dreams because they have cashed in on the nationalism and the beliefs of genuine people in the South of Ireland about a united Ireland. We should flush out these phoney people on this issue. There are some other phoney people who are just content to talk about dialogue but in their heart of hearts are not prepared to take even the first step towards creating a framework for this dialogue. Above all, we have to seek to find out whatever serious intention is there and to build on it.

John Hume, for instance, is clearly one of those who is prepared to take risks for peace. He took an enormous personal risk in the dialogue he undertook with the Provisional Sinn Féin. Clearly, he did it in the interests of peace. For my part I was desperately disappointed he did not succeed, for his own sake and for the sake of peace. He may not have reaped the glory that would have gone with success, but many of us will remember for a long time the courage he displayed in undertaking that risk. He said last week if there was now a new civil rights movement in the North of Ireland the greatest enemies would be the Provisional IRA and the Sinn Féin who talk about democracy on one hand and then try to ensure that [935] there is no democracy for anybody else who does not hold the same beliefs as they do about using bullets to achieve whatever progress they want.

The type of courage that John Hume has shown to the other community in the North is a courage that could often be matched here and has not been matched to the same degree. We have all endeavoured to be courageous in this area. We have been threatened and intimidated by all sorts of people on all sides of us, left and right, about how we are going or what role we are trying to play in a very sensitive area of North of Ireland relations, our relations with the majority population and our relations with our nearest neighbour, the Government of Great Britain.

We cannot wait until the Unionist population is browbeaten into talks. Their rights to self-determination through the political process must be regarded as co-equal — at least co-equal — with that of the Nationalists. Even it that were likely to happen in my political lifetime, what kind of victory would that be? In the words of other eminent people who had spoken on this subject, what joy is there for any of us to bomb a million Protestants into the sea in order to achieve the political reunification of this country? The only victory I want to see is the victory for the people of the North of Ireland and that day will come when they all have an equal say in the shaping of their own future in peace and with the prospect of prosperity. If politicians have to go out on a limb at times to try to move that one step closer to that kind of victory well then surely, that step is worth taking. I have no doubt that this House would be supportive of steps taken with that ideal in mind.

Professor Hillery:  In the course of this short contribution I want to focus on three aspects of Irish Government policy in relation to Northern Ireland, namely, condemnation of violence, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and dialogue with [936] Unionists. I want also to make some comments on the current sensitive issue of extradition.

With regard to the condemnation of violence, it should go without saying that it is not necessary to make any comments here at all about it, but from time to time questions are asked as to whether we in the Republic are doing all we can to combat violence and whether we have the resolve to deal with violence. The Government have repeatedly called for an end to campaigns of violence in Northern Ireland. They have condemned the use of violence not only as abhorrent in itself but as counter-productive to the stated aims of the perpetrators.

The Tánaiste in his address to the United Nations in September 1987 said, and I quote:

Such actions do not bring closer but postpone the day when unity based on reconciliation can take place in Ireland.

The Taoiseach, in the same vein, in his statement of 3 August of this year said, and I quote:

This violence is particularly deplorable in the present context when hopes of political progress are being encouraged. It can do nothing to bring about a solution to the tragic problems of Northern Ireland.

There are words, but the Government have matched them with money in the sense that the Government commitment, at a time when cutbacks are common throughout the country, meant that no less than £172 million was spent on Border security in 1988. This is four times higher per capita expenditure than the British population spent in the same task.

This commitment again was underlined by the Taoiseach in his statement in the Dáil in the debate on Northern Ireland on 17 February 1988 when he said, and I quote:

Our commitment in this area is freely given in the common interests of society, North and South, to ensure that the forces of terrorism, whether [937] of domestic or of international origin, will not prevail.

I now want to turn to the Anglo-Irish Agreement which is one of the more hopeful innovations in North-South relations at present and in Anglo-Irish relations. The Fianna Fáil Government, from the day they took office, committed themselves to a full and vigorous use of the agreement. The Taoiseach, in addressing the National Press Club in Australia in July 1988 said the following:

On coming into office my Government declared their intention to use the Agreement to the full to promote reform, bring about an improvement of the situation for the people of Northern Ireland and promote peace and stability.

One of the main strengths of the Agreement is that it provides a forum for dialogue, a joint approach to the problems affecting both parts of the country and a framework within which difficult issues can be discussed, including the search for political consensus and progress that we all need so badly. It provides an opportunity for the representatives in the Anglo-Irish Conference to develop a working relationship, at times under stressful conditions, but an opportunity nonetheless for each side to listen and understand each other's point of view.

When we talk about relationship, the quality of it is of key importance. It is a vital element in political progress. In that context I would like to pay tribute to the Tánaiste, Deputy Brian Lenihan, who has brought his exceptional political skills and experience to bear on the work of the Conference and added to that the well-known humanity which characterises all his political work. One of the more important articles in the Agreement spells out the right of the Irish Government to put forward views and proposals on matters relating to Northern Ireland within the field of activity of the Conference. It goes on to say that determined efforts shall be made through the Conference to resolve any differences. It is a highly commendable institution and [938] I am of the firm belief that it should stay exactly in place.

When the present review of the Anglo-Irish Conference is completed I hope that it will provide a further impetus to political progress in Northern Ireland. From 1988 to date, contrary to the criticism that has been made by earlier speakers, there have been nine meetings of the Intergovernmental Conference — the highest in any year since its inception — and a further one is scheduled very shortly for early December. The Conference has provided the forum for a discussion of a very wide range of issues. In addition to maintaining pressure on issues such as the administration of justice and relations between the security forces and the Nationalist community, the present Government have put a strong emphasis on economic and social issues as well, including the need for tougher fair employment legislation and the need to tackle economic deprivation in West Belfast.

It is not true to say, as claimed by an earlier speaker, that Fianna Fáil's position is one of inaction on Northern Ireland. That is not so. There have been some advances in the past few years. New fair employment legislation is anticipated next year and a £10 million action programme for West Belfast was recently announced by the British Government. Some progress can also be noted in the administration of justice with the end to supergrass trials and in the performance of the security forces. The marching season has been more effectively policed in the past few years and credit should be given for that.

However, there have been some very serious setbacks. For example, the Taoiseach's statement in the Dáil on 17 February 1988 sets out in detail the Government's concern at the handling of the Stalker-Sampson report. The Government believed they should have been entitled, under the letter and spirit of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, to be informed and consulted in advance of the British Attorney General's decision not to prosecute members of the RUC. The Stalker-Sampson issue is probably the [939] one that bears most directly on the functioning of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. A current issue that is a source of considerable anxiety in Ireland has to do with the Guildford Four case. My belief — and I think it is widely shared — is that there is an overwhelming case to refer this to the Court of Appeal which is in the hands of and the discretion of the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd.

Getting back to the IRA and the level of violence, clearly the removal of grievances is one of the most promising answers and responses to the level of violence. The Conference has a key role to play in that respect. Again acknowledging progress where it has been made, I want to commend the Minister of State, Dr. Brian Mawhinney, for the initiative he has taken in schools integration. Credit should be given for that, too.

Turning to dialogue with the Unionists, they are in a cul-de-sac, as Senator Robb said last week, but they have the potential to play a key role in peaceful political progress in the North. The Taoiseach has repeatedly stated his wish to hear from representatives of the Unionist tradition. He has reiterated his readiness for discussion without preconditions. While we in the Republic have a continuing obligation to give reassurances to the Nationalist population in the North, we must also reassure the Unionists. They have their fears, too. History has been a powerful force in shaping attitudes and behaviour, both within Northern Ireland, between North and South and between Ireland and Great Britain. The abolition of Stormont and the exclusion from the negotiations of the Anglo-Irish Agreement must have come as severe shocks for the Unionists. At the same time, it must be remembered that the minority community in the North have been longsuffering and frustrated, not just for the past 20 years but for centuries. The Unionist leadership say they will not contribute to the review process of the Anglo-Irish Conference. They see the Agreement as a vehicle designed for their destruction, which we do not believe to be the case.

[940] The non-participation by the Unionists in the review of the Agreement underlines their anxiety and their fears. Having said that, circumstances have changed. For the first time this century the British Government challenged the traditional Unionist approach. In one way this change in British policy compounds Unionist fears. The leadership of the Unionists must take their followers out of the corner in which they are now positioned. They have a key role to play in a peaceful solution, which is something we all want. That we have in common. By engaging in dialogue with the Dublin Government without any preconditions, the Unionists have nothing to fear. They are not at risk. They can at least listen. The Government here have already made clear their commitment to respecting and upholding Unionist views and their identity.

Finally, I want to refer to the highly current and sensitive issue of extradition. We all know that extradition is an internationally accepted instrument in fighting serious crime and international terrorism. It is a sensitive matter, particularly as it applies to Ireland. The law on extradition as it now stands includes very important safeguards but there is a continuing need for the British Government to understand the sensitivity of matters relating to Northern Ireland in this country.

May I now specifically refer to the current issue of the Father Ryan case? Our Attorney General is obliged by law to examine the warrants submitted to him by the British over the weekend. That takes time and the last thing we need at present are the provocative remarks emanating from the British Parliament and the British press. Balanced politicians — and that is what we consider ourselves here — are very concerned about containing the emotional level. We want to see fair play acted out. The last thing we need are the provocative remarks which raise the emotional temperature and make it more difficult for responsible politicians to conduct normal relations. My advice, therefore, to the British is, “Cool it” and let the Attorney [941] General fulfil his legal obligations at the necessary pace to fulfil that role.

More generally, leaving aside extradition, the British need to be constantly reminded that court cases like the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four may be of peripheral interest to Britain but they are at the top of our political agenda here. It is essential that the British be sensitive to the impact which such cases have in Ireland. There is a history of mistrust between our countries and when you add to that trial by the gutter press in Britain when Irish people are being tried before British courts, that mistrust is fuelled much further.

In conclusion, when we debated the Anglo-Irish Agreement three years ago in the Seanad there was substantial alienation among the minority community in the North. Some progress has been made and it should be acknowledged. However much remains to be done especially in the administration of justice and in relations between the security forces and the community. People in Ireland, North and South, need to be convinced of the quality and fairness of British justice. After all, extradition is about treating people properly and giving them a fair trial. We have to be convinced that that is possible in the UK jurisdiction.

The review of the Anglo-Irish Conference now underway will examine the record to date. Let us hope that the review, despite present difficulties, will give a new impetus to the pace of change and political progress under the Agreement.

Mrs. Fennell:  I welcome the opportunity to contribute briefly to this debate. I was in the Dáil three years ago, a member of the last Administration when the Anglo-Irish Agreement was conceived and launched and no other political initiative could have had such sensitive and careful planning. At no other time can there have been such a concerted effort made to ensure that as broad agreement as possible was reached or to ensure that influential bodies were identified and involved in it. It was an indication of the deep concern felt and [942] the keen intent of many people to make the Agreement work. All those concerned, politicians, public servants, diplomats and economists can be proud of that achievement. The two main political groups outside that consensus at that time were Fianna Fáil and the Unionist politicians. The Anglo-Irish Agreement came at a time when there was an all-time low morale in Northern Ireland, when the prospects for peace seemed barren and both terrorist activity and military involvement in the North had escalated.

The Agreement was very carefully drafted. Its intent and aim was to help the development of co-operation and political harmony. It was designed in time to crumble and, as a declaration, to become obsolete. No one seriously expected that it would result in quick, easy solutions. If in 60 years there have not been such easy solutions we could not expect one to happen that easily through the Agreement. But it has lasted through three years of Unionist bullying and Unionist rallies, through three years of dreadful atrocities of killings, through three years of potentially controversial times when events such as the Gibraltar killings and the Stalker-Sampson affair seriously strained communications between Britain and Ireland. Whatever differences of opinion emerged there was a forum for serious dialogue and political views could be exchanged and understanding, if not consensus, reached. This alone, I know, was an important achievement; the Anglo-Irish Conference, an end to the war of angry words or editorial diplomacy, with each Government having to maintain its position with public rebukes and retaliation.

The main architect of the Agreement, Deputy Dr. Garret FitzGerald, will, in time and history, be given credit for his role in Northern Ireland affairs. As Taoiseach, he lost no time in tackling what he saw as Ireland's greatest problem despite the fact that there were enormous economic problems facing the country at that time also. On 30 May 1983, only five months after coming into Government the New Ireland Forum was opened and [943] he addressed all parties at that time, Nationalists, Unionists and all, calling members to start work with a completely open mind, to provide honest and sensible answers to the problems of Northern Ireland. Deputy Haughey, on that occasion reaffirmed his party's conditional position once more. Peace and stability, he said, could only be secured by withdrawal of British military and political presence in Northern Ireland and the only lasting solution could only be in the context of Irish unity.

We could not have had the Anglo-Irish Agreement without the work of the New Ireland Forum and its report. Deputy Haughey remained unconvinced that there could be other ways of resolving differences than by British withdrawal. This attitude, and the many Fianna Fáil speeches stressing a united Ireland as the only — or almost only — option have weakened the possibilities for the Agreement. Their credibility to operate it is questioned because they do not sincerely believe in its strength. Their ability and willingness to negotiate it is suspect. If we reflect for a moment on the possibility — remote, I admit — that Fianna Fáil would have given support and full co-operation and agreement to those two initiatives, the Forum and the Anglo-Irish Agreement, what would the situation in this island now be if all parties in this part of Ireland were to be united in every way in securing agreement and understanding with the two communities in the North? Not truly having that consensus, not being able to rely on the unequivocal approach, has left room for other factions, whether hardline Unionists, British politicians or the IRA, to exploit our differences down here.

What now for the Agreement? Although we value it, we should not regard it as in the form of tablets of stone, as permanent and not capable or worthy of change. There must come a time when we can truly evaluate its usefulness and, if necessary, look for an alternative structure. If there is a serious commitment for Unionists to be involved in such a change this will need the enthusiasm and the [944] imagination of all, not least the present Government and the Fianna Fáil Party. For us now there is no standing still on the question of Northern Ireland. Even if terrorist activities were lulled and there appeared to be a calm it would not be enough to let it happen and hope that real peace would grow.

The Northern Ireland or Anglo-Irish problem is the most grave problem facing this country. I know that the men and women in the street may not see it in this way. In fact, the North would probably come as a very low priority for the vast majority whose main preoccupations at this time are unemployment, income tax and emigration. Nonetheless, the North is the backbone of Irish politics. We cannot go forward with total confidence to plan our future and structure our economy as long as we have to keep looking over our shoulders at security spending, conscious that at any time violence could flare up and the killings and bombings happen again.

This generation has an obligation to work towards security and reconciliation. There can be no solution if it merely means storing the guns, the black berets and the masks for another day and another generation. That has been too often a feature in our history. Northern Ireland is our biggest political question but it is important that we do not allow ourselves to become Anglophobic because of it. This, I believe, has afflicted some in this part of the island, indeed some in this House.

The fact is that for Britain the Northern Ireland question is only one item and, although an irritant and a nuisance, we are not a very major or important item in the total context of British politics. Of course, the British Government would like to resolve the Northern question but they can afford to take their time, and put it on the sideline while they get on with more important issues, as they see them, and this is something we have to constantly keep in mind. We must not allow our reactions to events that are not quite to our liking to be intemperate and hasty. We must not give the same gut, shallow and unthought responses as we [945] see in the British tabloid press. The recent outbursts of the British Prime Minister over the Ryan extradition is a case in point. What right has Margaret Thatcher to dictate so stridently to us? Sometimes she acts as if she still had the British colonies and we were one of them. Our response should be measured and calm.

Neither should we be manipulated into situations, as can so often happen, in which we are waging the Provisional IRA's propoganda war. At the end of the day, they are the core of the problem. They are the blight of our time. They are the vultures of this land, feeding off disadvantage and discrimination and operating a murder machine that can find no equal in the most violent conflicts in the world. They have committed every atrocity possible, killed workers because they did not heed a warning not to work for a particular person or company; shot down fathers and mothers before their own children; they have murdered people coming to church; they have murdered people while burying their dead and commemorating their dead. Then they speak about rights, civil and human rights. In a long article in The Irish Times on 3 October 1988 Gerry Adams discussed the kind of rights he would like to see. This comes as cynical rhetoric from a man and an organisation that delivers its rights through the gun and the bomb.

In his contribution to the Northern Ireland debate in the Dáil, the Fine Gael Leader, Alan Dukes, spelled out the action he would like to see from this Government. His proposals were three; they were, first, that the two Governments should now state explicitly, in accordance with Article IV of the Agreement, that they are determined to make devolution a reality; secondly, that each of the two Governments should institute consultations with the constitutional political parties in each jurisdiction before each meeting of the Conference and, thirdly, to examine the economic and social implications of 1992 North and South within the framework of the Conference. A further proposal was to set the Conference meetings on a formal [946] schedule with perhaps ten or 12 fixed meetings a year. These are basic, sensible proposals and if enacted could set the Agreement on a new more positive course. The Anglo-Irish Conference must not be allowed to exist only to deal with tensions as they arise. There must be a natural relationship, and acceptable programme, long-term plans and goal-setting, such as has been proposed by the Leader of Fine Gael.

Regrettably, what we now have in Northern Ireland after 20 years of conflict is a polarised society, with each side lacking trust in the other and further generations growing up with memories of killing and brutality done in the name of religion or unity. So bad is it that Dr. Cathal Daly, Bishop of Down and Conor, said on 26 November at the funeral of Gerard Slane who was killed by the UDA that an extra security barrier was needed to divide the Falls and the Shankhill Roads. That a man as committed and involved as Bishop Daly sees further barriers, more visible divisions, as necessary to attempt to keep order is a depressing thought for me. This is why a political solution is so vital and why all concerned must work at every level to achieve that political resolution.

Only meaningful political initiatives, new structures to which all can contribute and by so doing be parties to resolving divisions, will heal such a community divide. The solution now has got to come from the leaders. The responsibility on them cannot be over-estimated. It is essential that the Unionist people of Northern Ireland be our first priority. We must target their leaders to focus on their sense of grievance, determine to be friends, to be allies in building a lasting peace. A new relationship with Unionist politicians has got to be established from the South and there are small hopeful signs of this possibility. Their right to co-existence must be recognised and the dreadful losses and suffering they have endured in 20 years acknowledged.

This will have been a worthwhile debate if out of it comes one useful proposal or positive idea that is worth pursuing. Indeed, if words and speeches [947] alone could solve the problem, Northern Ireland would no longer be in crisis, so much have the issues involved in Northern Ireland been articulated in 20 years. But words without clear, intentive action are useless. The people of Northern Ireland who have suffered so much already must be given the chance to shape a new horizon through the Anglo-Irish Conference to enable all to share in planning for this island's future.

Professor Murphy:  I sat here last week and listened with incredulity to Senator Lanigan's speech. I waited in vain for some substance in his speech. I do not intend to insult the Leader of the House, but his speech was a collection of pathetic and fumbling platitudes. He spoke about his Government having open minds and opening doors but it would be much more appropriate if he had admitted honestly that they had empty minds on the subject. He talked about the separated brethern. Anyone who wants to dwell on the shallowness and hypocrisy of this phrase, as used by a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, has only to remember the actions of that party during the great debates of 1983 and 1986 when the most fundamental issues of Church and State, of Catholic nationalism, of the separation of politics and morality were on the agenda, and they reneged. What was even worse, they pretended in the divorce debate to be neutral whereas, in fact, they were entirely on the side of conservatism. So, in my view, for someone in Fianna Fáil to talk about his separated brethren is a piece of superficial flapdoodle.

You would not want to be a particularly neurotic Unionist to listen to Senator Lanigan and to immediately say that this is spider-and-the-fly stuff, open doors, a round table waiting for you. I would not trust the Fianna Fáil Party's policy in the North as far as Dundalk. This is the party which cynically hijacked the New Ireland Forum when at the end of the day, the option of a unitary State was picked by the Leader of that party with total cynicism, with the total knowledge that this was simply not on, and with the result [948] that the whole work of the New Ireland Forum lost that measure of credibility. This is the background against which we have to put Senator Lanigan's speech, that infamous behaviour, that infamous continuity of lack of interest or exploitation of the Northern issue for party political purposes. We have not forgotten that.

The public memory is very short. We have to remind ourselves of what happened two or three years ago. Does anybody recall, for example, a television commercial in the 1973 election at a time when there was, I suppose, almost maximum violence and suffering in the North, Fianna Fail's contribution to the aspect of Northern policy in the course of that election was to put on a television commercial which contrasted a blazing and suffering Derry with a scene of pastoral tranquility in the South. What was the population supposed to infer from that commercial? “Vote Fianna Fáil and we will keep you out of this mess.” That was the measure of their contribution to peace in this island in the most critical period of the early seventies.

I would not mind if they had reformed their ways but there is no evidence that they have progressed at all, judging by Senator Lanigan's speech. To be honest, it is not fair to blame Senator Lanigan. He is the man on whom the affairs of State sit very heavily, a man beset by criticism in this House. I suppose it would be unfair to expect him to have the time, the leisure or the tranquillity to prepare any kind of a lengthy statement on policy. In the last analysis, he is simply reflecting his master's voice, with all its glib and insincere soundings on unitary State, failed political entity etc, etc.

Again, to remind us of the incredible nature of the lack of seriousness in Fianna Fáil's policy, does anyone recall the Taoiseach — perhaps he was not then Taoiseach — about two or three years ago being interviewed on This Week on RTE one Sunday? That was when he issued his seemingly plausible invitation to the Unionists to come and talk to him and he would “set their minds at rest”, as if [949] somehow they had misunderstood everything and that all they needed was a good chat in the Taoiseach's office to solve the whole problem. It is no wonder Senator Lanigan was stuck for something to say. It is no wonder, again and again, he referred to British justice and British injustice. He referred to the famous mythical table, which is like some kind of Holy Grail — all we have to do is get around that table and all will be solved. In William Ewart Gladstone's day the illusion that the world's problems could be solved by meeting around the table was pardonable one could say but surely 100 years later it is too much to be listening to someone who thinks that all human problems will be solved by getting around the table. There is absolutely no historical evidence for that as a general principle.

Moving to Senator Manning's fine contribution, there is one point I want to pick out and underline. That is his assertion that the Department of Foreign Affairs does not like debates like this, that the Minister does not like them, that the civil servants in Iveagh House do no like them because they prefer to handle business as professionals. Senator Manning was perfectly right to point out the mandarinism of this approach which we should refuse to accept in all aspects of political business, the attitude that they know best and that we do not understand it fully. What compounds all of this secrecy and mandarinism is the fact that we have no Oireachtas committee on foreign policy. Some of us are in the course of constituting one informally but the Government adamantly refuse to sanction the establishment of such a committee which can be the only informed machinery through which we can contribute to debates of this kind in any sort of meaningful manner.

I move to the substance of the debate itself. I note that it refers to recent events affecting Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations, so the Anglo-Irish Agreement is not the only issue to be debated here. The motion gives us carte blanche to discusss the whole wide world, as it were, of Anglo-Irish relations, and God knows, they need to be discussed in the [950] light of the last few days. Here, to take the heat off the Government for a moment and to dispel the criticism that I am here only to knock Fianna Fáil — incidentally I voted for them once or twice last week and poor thanks I get for it — let me put it on record that I regard the attitude of the British Government in these last days as absolutely crass in its ineptitude, in its insolence, in its assumption that the Act of Union is still in force in this country——

Senators:  Hear, hear.

Professor Murphy:  ——in its arrogance ignoring not only that we have an independent sovereign jurisdiction here with a different modus operandi in legal matters but, in my view, the greatest crassness about the British attitude as expressed by the British Prime Minister is to ignore that we have the most sensitive situation on this island in terms of conflicting allegiances, in terms of historical memories tearing at peoples' allegiances so that the last 20 years have been a painful business of trying to re-educate public opinion in this country and for many of us it has gone against the grain. For me, many of the stands I have taken have gone against my tribal grain and then, to have ignorant British politicians ignoring the sensitivity of that situation, totally blind to the need to handle this situation most sensitively is too much to accept.

I speak as a member of the British-Irish Association which exists specifically to improve relations between our two States — which every sensible person must agree with — to dispel this negative and rancid anti-Britishness which passes in some quarters for patriotism. I speak, therefore, as a friend of the United Kingdom, as someone who has been stigmatised as a “West Brit”. I propose this week to write to the Ambassador of the United Kingdom here, Mr. Nicholas Fenn, who is one of the best representatives of his country to be accepted in Ireland, and to remind him that this kind of conduct is unacceptable to us. It [951] simply will not do. The answer is not that we must adjust our jurisdiction, our extradition methods, to their requirements. We have our own particular reasons for operating the way we do. That is why I took advantage today to express every confidence in the Attorney General in the statutory discharge of his duties and though the House did not have an opportunity to vote on that, I am nonetheless very sure a strong majority of Members hope that this is the way affairs will be conducted.

Debate adjourned.

Debate resumed on the following motion:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the proceedings on the Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred Bill, 1988, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments from the Government.

—(Senator Lanigan.)

Mr. Manning:  I said at the outset that it gives nobody on this side of the House any pleasure to be involved in a debate on this motion. The circumstances which have led to the situation should never have arisen and would not have arisen had the normal basic courtesies been observed, had there been any forethought in the planning of the business of the House and had there not been an attempt to steamroll this legislation through the House. The simple fact is that this legislation was produced last week and the House gave it a Second Stage reading. There are a number of substantial but not obstructive and not unduly lengthy amendments tabled for [952] debate, most of which come under two main headings. Had this guillotine motion not been brought in, probably the time available would have been adequate to get through the amendments. If not, what, may I ask, is wrong with meeting tomorrow or the day after or meeting on Tuesday of next week or setting aside time next week to complete this debate?

We began this session of the Seanad with a great sense of optimism that this House was taking stock of itself, that we were taking a look at our procedures and that we were determined to make this one of the most productive and enlightened Seanad in the history of this House Unfortunately, the good intentions of that time have all now fallen by the wayside. We are staggering on here from week to week, not knowing sometimes what business is coming up, more often than not having entirely insubstantial business before us. All of this contrasts with the sudden rush to get through this Bill, which is not enormously complicated, immediate, difficult or urgent and which all sides of the House welcome.

For those reasons, a Cathaoirligh, I intend to oppose the taking of Item No. 1 today. I do not wish to indulge in obstructive tactics or to play parliamentary games. We have a very serious responsibility to discharge our duties in as constructive and honourable a way as possible. For that reason I do not propose to delay or detain the House, other than to put on record my total opposition to the way in which business is being handled today and to say that we will not be part of any handling of business in this way. We want to register our protest in the strongest way possible and that we can do by simply voting against Item No. 1.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  In dealing with the business of the House, I and the other Members understand that a certain process has to be complied with. Before I took my seat in this House after being elected, I took a lot of time to get to know and understand the workings of the House and the Standing Orders. For that [953] reason, whenever I see a motion which begins “Notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders ....” I look at it very closely indeed. We have now reached the classic situation, where everything possible is done to pervert the well-oiled workings of the legislative process. In terms of where we are and where we are likely to get arising from this motion, we need to be very clear that we are now faced with the prospect of dealing with legislation which we got into our hands for the first time ten days ago. If we look at the history of that and at the significance of the proposal now before us, it seems that we are dealing with something with undue and unholy haste. What, after all, is the business of a bicameral legislative process? It has been outlined time and time again that in the first place we have a role in initiating legislation and on this occasion this is precisely what we are about. We are now putting together legislation which, having passed through the Houses and been signed by the President, will determine attitudes and the workings of the law in a particularly sensitive area of living for a long number of years.

If the Leader of the House, in proposing this motion, had put forward an explanation as to why we are where we find ourselves, people would have looked reasonably upon it. But, in proposing a motion which, as far as I know, departs from all the traditions of this House and goes blatantly against the spirit of the Standing Orders of this House, simply to say, “I move”, and leave it at that, is certainly insulting and contemptuous. It is not something that any of us can go along with. This method of dealing with legislation is something which can be countenanced only when there is no option available to us. I understand that the Leader of House may want to intervene at this point. I would give way to him on that point.

Mr. Lanigan:  So that we can get on with the business of the House and without going into any recriminations or comment on one side or another, I will withdraw Item No. 1 on the Order Paper [954] and we will continue with this Bill. If it is not finished at 10 o'clock tonight, it is proposed that we sit tomorrow morning to conclude this item.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is that agreed?

Mr. Manning:  Agreed.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


Mr. J. O'Toole:  I move amendment No. 1:

In page 2, line 12, to delete “whether or not in conjunction with” and substitute “or by”.

We are dealing with the interpretations in section 1. A quick look back over old legislation will indicate that very often we are overtaken by technological development. One of the great difficulties for any legislator, no matter how wise, anticipatory or forward-thinking he is, is to devise a form of words which will cater for and deal with technological development in the future. According to the interpretation section “broadcast” means the transmission, relaying or distribution by wireless telegraphy, whether or not in conjunction with any other means of communications. It covers a wide range.

I have taken some advice from experts in the area and I have asked them where cable television would stand. I have been advised by the leading technological people that cable television is not covered by that interpretation. In other words, the interpretation of “broadcast” does not cover cable television. I am not sure about fibre optics, which I believe are also being used to develop various types of communication systems. I understand it does not cover closed circuit television, which is not really television at all but movement by cable. Therefore there are certainly two types of broadcast which [955] would not be covered by the interpretation. I am proposing to the Minister that this part of section 1 (1) should state “relaying or distribution by wireless telegraphy or any other means” rather than “whether or not in conjunction with any other means”. That would cover all the areas that I refer to.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins):  I thank Senator O'Toole for raising this point. I recognise the reasons for it because we too had the same difficulty in dealing with this matter when drafting the Bill.

The definition of the word “broadcast” in section 1 is to be read with section 3 of the Bill. I would draw the attention of Senators to the very wide ambit of section 2 of the Bill, covering as it does the publishing or distribution of written material, the use of words or displays in public places and the distribution, showing or playing of visual images or sounds. The intention was that this very general section would cover types of activity which might result in incitement to racial hatred. However, in view of its importance as a medium of communication, it was decided that we should have one specific section in the Bill, section 3, dealing with broadcasting as it is commonly understood, that is to say, broadcasting by radio or television or by associated techniques. The phrase “whether or not in conjunction with any other means” was included in the definition of “broadcast” to cover cases where material is transmitted by radio or by television and is relayed by wire or by some other means which would not be covered by the term “wireless telegraphy”. The effect of the amendment in the name of Senator O'Toole would be, I am afraid, to broaden the term “broadcast” to such an extent that its meaning might very well be uncertain.

Section 3 of the Bill is drafted to deal with broadcasting as the term is commonly understood. For example, there is reference in subsection (2) to persons producing or directing broadcast items. The effect of the amendment before us [956] now would be to introduce a large degree of uncertainly as to the meaning of parts of section 3, an uncertainty which is unacceptable in a penal provision in relation to which the greatest possible degree of precision is required by the courts.

Another effect of this amendment would be to create an overlap between section 2 and section 3. For example, the amendment would make it an offence under section 3 to distribute sounds or visual images by any means, for example, by recordings. This, however, is already covered by section 2.

I would again point out that section 2 of the Bill already covers in a very general way the distribution, the showing or playing of material, whether written material or recordings, and it is therefore unnecessary to enlarge the scope of section 3 by extending the meaning of the term “broadcast” as proposed.

I would like to assure Senator O'Toole that the points which he made were points on which we had specific discussion with the draftsman to satisfy ourselves that we were covering exactly what Senator O'Toole wants us to cover and the draftsman has given that assurance. These same points did occupy our minds and cause us concern. With developments moving at such a pace in this area of technology, we must have a catch-all phrase to cover developments in the future.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I listened very closely to what the Minister had to say. I understand and accept the points he is making on section 2 and section 3. It is difficult to make my major point without getting into semantics. My Greek is not what it might be but since ‘tele’ means distance, telegraphy would mean to throw or write something at a distance. The same definition would apply to “broadcast”. We can do it in two ways: we can do it wireless or by wire. Wireless is very carefully covered and anything that goes through wireless is covered. Substitute the word “cable” for wire and you get cable television, which would be quite the opposite to wireless television. Cable [957] broadcasting would be quite the opposite to wireless broadcasting.

I agree with what the Minister says about section 2 and section 3 in terms of the people who would be covered. He has attempted to deal with the material in section 2 and with the people responsible in section 3. Section 1 actually determines the media. The Minister said that in section 3 he deals with the term “broadcast” as we understand it. I have no doubt that is quite true. My initial point was that “broadcast” as we understand it might not be “broadcast” as it will be understood in five or ten years' time. Certainly the whole area of cable television is developing apace. There is a plan afoot to bring 70 per cent of the households in the UK into the cable television area.

Certain types of cable television which are used to broadcast something that had been shown on television earlier might be covered by this Bill but it does not cover the area where something is sent purely by cable television. I will give one example. The Minister could say that cable television uses very regularly stuff which is used in normal television stations and that it is simply an additional part of it. I would accept immediately, where it is just additional, that it is covered. There is a growing development of which we see a start in Aertel on RTE but which is also occurring in the cable systems where people sell advertising. It just goes from the wire in the studio right through the wire all the way to the home. If that is used to broadcast advertisements, for instance, which would come under the terms of this Bill, you could not apply section 2 and section 3. Whereas the content might be as described in section 2, whereas the people responsible might be as described in section 3, the actual medium used the cable television, would not be covered under section 1. The case could not be sustained. I am not nit-picking about this. I am making a substantial point about the way this can develop.

Mr. Collins:  I fully appreciate that Senator O'Toole is not nit-picking. We [958] raised that point specifically with the draftsman because we wanted to cater for it. A signal is emitted by radio and then it is relayed or picked up by other means, whether it be wire or relaying. That is all covered by the phrase” in conjunction with any other means.” It has to start by being emitted from a radio. Then it is picked up by means of wires, fibre-optics or whatever. We want to stop any broadcast that is in conflict with the Bill. We are satisfied beyond all doubt that the wording as it is here is sufficient and ample to cater for the concern expressed by Senator O'Toole, but bearing in mind what the Senator has said, I would be prepared to have another look at it. I will bring his viewpoint to the attention of the parliamentary draftsman who is more technically qualified than I am — I am modest enough to say that — to see if there is need to tighten it. I am prepared to make sure that we all achieve what we want to achieve in this regard.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I understand the Minister's point. I accept the example he gave of something being emitted from a radio and being either relayed or repeated through a repeater unit on top of a mast or a relay unit. It could be done completely by cable. We are looking at a television monitor in the Chamber and I could go and shove my Order Paper, an advertisement or anything on that desk over there. It is not wireless; it is wire and cable all the way. The other things the Minister talked about are certainly wireless, whether they are deflected, rebroadcast, relayed or repeated. In any of those circumstances I accept the point. If the Minister, having taken it back to the technological people, finds that it is not covered, will he make a change in the legislation?

Mr. Collins:  I certainly will.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I move amendment No. 2:

[959] In page 2, between lines 18 and 19, to insert:

“‘ethnic origins’ means origins which have resulted in a group having common social, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics”.

This is an attempt on the one hand to clarify the Bill and on the other hand to establish clearly the breadth of its application. Under section 2 — perhaps I may be permitted to refer to section 2 since the definition refers to a phrase in it — hatred is defined as “hatred against a group of persons in the State on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion or ethnic or national origins”. It appears to me that race, colour, nationality, religion and national origins are fairly well established terms whereas “ethnic” is a relatively new term to come into common usage. It is not a term that is used with any great frequency.

I had a look at a few dictionaries and it is barely mentioned in the 1902 Webster's dictionary in the Library. The way in which it is, I think, intended here is referred to in a supplement to a more modern dictionary as a very modern form of phraseology. Consequently it is our job to make sure that a new word like that is defined in legislation in a way which makes it clear. If you look through a dictionary there are a number of alternative meanings, some referring simply to minorities in certain circumstances, other referring to the entire racial characteristics. My amendment does not claim to be a dictionary definition but is simply an attempt to identify a meaning which is consistent with the objectives of the Bill. I propose that in section 1 among the interpretations be added the phrase that ethnic origins means “origins which have resulted in agroup having common, social, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics”. That covers the general area of minority groups by and large which have a sense of being in common.

Perhaps the best way to define minority groups or groups with a sense of a common ethnic origin is by listening to them. In our society the most clearly [960] identified group who have a sense of common ethnic origin would be the members of the travelling community. They would see themselves as having a common social origin, characteristics, having common cultural characteristics and, indeed, common linguistic characteristics. I believe that that is what the word “ethnic” intends to mean but it would not be confined exclusively to the travelling people. It would involve, for instance, Muintir na Gaeltachta, who have a sense of having common linguistic origins, for instance. In order to ensure that this word does not flounder around in a kind of miasma of misunderstanding it ought to be defined. If the Minister is interested in suggesting an alternative definition in the interpretation section, I would be very prepared to listen to it. It is important, when a word like this which is relatively new in the usage of the English language is inserted in legislation, that we give some guidance. I am endeavouring to put in a definition which encompasses a kind of an elaboration on the objectives of the Bill because it simply defines the groups we are concerned about.

This Bill is a most worthwhile attempt to deal with a problem that has been allowed to go on for far too long. The Minister is to be complimented on bringing in the legislation but if we are going to do it we ought to make sure that the intent of the Bill is clearly stated and phrases that are of uncertain or relatively new usage or of a variety of usages ought to be defined in a way which makes their meaning clear. As I have said, all the other phrases — national, racial, cultural, religious and linguistic — are easily defined but the question of ethnic origin needs further elaboration.

Mr. Norris:  I should like to add my voice very briefly to what Senator Ryan has said and to indicate that similar legislation was brought before the Tweede Karmer, the Dutch Parliament, in 1983 in which the intention was parallel to this, as I understand it, in certain ways in that part of the motivation was to bring the domestic legislation of the country into [961] line with certain international protocols and treaties. The Netherlands Government included, for precisely the reasons that Senator Ryan has adduced, the phrase “or other status” because the Netherlands Government realised at that stage that there was a difficulty of defining precisely the categories and groups of people and we could easily get ourselves into a difficult situation if it was felt necessary to specify every single group by name and by itemisation whom we felt might be threatened. I simply would like to recommend to the Minister's attention the fact the the Dutch Government in their Constitution now include this phrase “or other status” which I am sure may bring grief to the mind of a lawyer because of course it is broad and lawyers like to tie things down as clearly as possible. It seems to me that this is an argument from an international context in support of Senator Ryan's amendment.

Mr. Collins:  I want to thank Senator Ryan for the way in which he proposed his amendment and, indeed, Senator Norris for the assistance he gave him. In prohibiting incitement to racial hatred this Bill seeks to implement a provision in Article 20 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the term “ethnic origins” does not occure in that Article — I am sure the Senator is as well aware of that as I am. In the Bill, the term “ethnic origins” is included in the definition of hatred because the Bill is intended to cover also the corresponding provision of Article 4 of the UN Convention Against Racial Discrimination. So, it is included there because, as I have said, the Convention Against Racial Discrimination uses the term “ethnic origins” but does not define it. The implementing legislation in ratifying states does not appear to have defined the term, and we had quite a search to establish this fact. For example, it is not in the statutory provisions of Northern Ireland, UK, France, the Netherlands, or, indeed, West Germany. It has been left in all these countries, as we propose to do, to the courts of the [962] ratifying states to define the precise meaning of this term in case law.

In England, the House of Lords, in the 1983 case of Mandla versus Lee said that the term “ethnic” in section 3 of the Race Relations Act, 1976, was to be construed relatively widely in a broad cultural and historic sense. The judgment said that for a group to constitute an ethnic group for the purposes of that Act two characteristics were essential: first, the group had to have a long shared history and second, it had to have a cultural tradition of its own. The judgment went on to say that other characteristics could be relevant in deciding whether a group could be regarded as an ethnic group and these other characteristics included (a) a common geographical origin, (b) a common language, (c) a common literature, (d) a common religion and (e) the characteristic of being a minority in a larger community. It should be clear from this that in deciding in a particular case whether a group is an ethnic group or has common ethnic origins for the purposes of legislation of this kind, many factors have to be taken into account. Because of this it would not be appropriate to attempt to tie the hands of the court by adopting a rigid statutory definition of the term.

Senator Ryan has suggested that we should define “ethnic origins” as meaning origins which have resulted in a group having certain common characteristics and it could well be argued that in most cases such common characteristics would result not merely from the origins of the group but from all the influences which were brought to bear on the group from the time when it could be said they had a common origin. Accordingly, the proposed definition could possibly serve to restrict the meaning of the term “ethnic origins” and might well have the result of excluding from the scope of the Bill some groups which would otherwise be covered. That is a fear that we have, if we accept Senator Ryan's amendment.

In my opinion, it would be best to leave it to the courts to work out the case law the precise ambit of the term “ethnic origins.” If, as has happened in Britain, [963] the term is construed widely by the courts in a broad cultural and historic sense, then we can be confident of a liberal interpretation of this term. We can also be confident that it will be interpreted with precision by the courts in the light of developing knowledge of the history and the background of any groups in our society who could be said to be ethnically separate from the majority community.

Mr. B. Ryan:  The Minister has made a reasonable case — although I will not say he has persuaded me — that there needs to be room for intrepretation. I would not have thought that a wording which says “origins which have resulted in a group having common social, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics” is so rigid. It does not mean that they all have to have all the same type of characteristics. It does not mean that all of these characteristics must apply to all of them. It must mean there is a feeling of having a certain common heritage and this will show up, as I said, in their social practice, in the sense of their own culture, and it is only a community itself that can define its own culture. It can never be defined by outsiders looking in. It can only be defined by the people themselves looking out at how they see themselves.

It is obviously simple to determine religious or linguistic characteristics. The difficulty I have with the Minister's position is that in order for this to be teased out in the courts, people will have to be prosecuted and I would wonder how either a garda who is attempting to put together a case or the DPP could make a decision. Section 8 makes it clear that, proceedings in respect of an offence under sections 2,3 or 4 may be instituted only by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. That means that it would be a matter for the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether the word “ethnic” will ever be tested in the courts. Since the other words race, colour, nationality, religion or national origins are so much easier to define, I would argue that there is a plausible case that the Director of Public [964] Prosecutions will rely on the reference to ethnic origins, which does as the Minister says, reach out to the possibility of minority groups in our society being covered, but instead will use the straightforward phrases “race” and “colour”, for instance, or “nationality” and “religion”, which are easy. A person's nationality is defined by himself by the passport he is entitled to. The phrase “ethnic origins” is the one which holds out the possibility of this Bill having a very broad scope, and to refuse to offer guidance and interpretation to those whose duty in the first place it is to enforce the law will result or could result, to paraphrase the Minister, in those whose duty it is to enforce the law being either unable or unwilling to enforce the law in so far as it applies to incitement to hatred, hatred against persons on account of their ethnic origins.

We owe a duty to those whose job it would be to enforce this law to give them some guidelines and I would put it again that my amendment does no more than offer broad guidelines, but ultimately the extent of those common cultural characteristics, whether it would have to be 10 per cent or 70 per cent would be a matter for the courts. I am not saying that every characteristic they have must be the same. No ethnic group has everything in common. They do not have an identifiable language which all of them speak. There are black people, for instance, who do not speak a common language. There are Irish people who speak Irish and are not Roman Catholics but are clearly Irish in terms of any definition of ethnic origins.

Mr. Norris:  Is ceart é sin.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I am not suggesting that these must be overwhelmingly present. It is a matter for the courts to interpret the extent to which these characteristics are present but those who have to enforce this law are entitled to some direction at least in the way in which it develops. I am still not happy that the Minister is right that we could leave it to the courts. It might never get to the courts.

[965]Mr. Collins:  In reply to Senator Ryan, I want to say that the courts decide the meaning of the term “ethnic origins”, and the amendment that Senator Ryan has put down says that “ethnic origins' means origins which have resulted in a group having ...” so on and so on. It is not the origins that determine their characteristics but all that has happened in between and therefore the new definition that Senator Ryan is asking us to put into the Bill would restrict the meaning and this would not suit anybody. None of us would want that.

We have, as I say, most comprehensive case law guidelines which have been worked out by the House of Lords and our courts would certainly have regard to what is there. Of course, they are far too extensive to incorporate in our statute but I am quite sure that our courts would have regard to these guidelines, which are considered quite liberal, as I have already said. I feel that the point that we both want to achieve will be achieved in the way that I suggest. I can say to Senator Ryan, because there is no difference between us other than the method, that I will have consultations with the parliamentary draftsman, bearing in mind what Senator Ryan has suggested and the argument he made in support of his amendment. I will bring those arguments to the attention of the parliamentary draftsman to make sure that what we both want to achieve is achieved at the end of the day. I believe I am doing it, and I am quite sure Senator Ryan has the same conviction about his amendment, and his reasons indicate that he believes he has, but I will put it beyond any doubt between now and the time I go to the other House with this legislation.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I am not sure that the Minister and I are as much at one — as we are on the principle of this Bill — on this issue. I am concerned to ensure that this Bill is not in some sort of artificial way prevented from being used to defend groups that exist within our own society, exclusively Irish minorities who are not identified by virtue of their religion, or by the colour of their skin or the passport [966] they hold. I am thinking, in particular, about members of the travelling community and it is a sign of how far the travelling community have to go, that we still have to argue the case they hold so dearly that they are an ethnic minority or a cultural minority.

An Cathaoirleach:  We are on amendment No. 2. Is the Senator moving on to the group of amendments from No. 4?

Mr. B. Ryan:  No, I am not. I wish to achieve the same objectives as the other amendments, but have chosen a different way of doing it. Everything the Minister has said I cannot disagree with, but the word “ethnic” is an uncertain word. It is a relatively new phrase and what I would be worried about would be the willingness to prosecute on the basis of incitement or hatred on the grounds of people's ethnic origins for groups that would not be clearly seen as being of a particular race, colour, nationality, religion or national origin — groups like the travellers who do not belong to a separate race, or have a separate colour, nationality or religion. The only way in which one could argue that the rights of travelling people not to have people incited against them would be under the phrase “ethnic”.

I assume that the word “ethnic” is meant to cover the sort of groups the Minister discussed in his reply to my amendment. He has elaborated helpfully on the large body of case law that now exists on the matter. If it does apply and if the intent of the Bill should apply to those groups he identified in his reply, we need to help those whose duty it is to enforce the law to make sure that they understand to whom it applies. That is why it is important that this amendment should go in. It is not in order to make sure that the courts will interpret it, but to make sure that our intent — if the Minister and I are at one on this — is clear; in other words, that we are talking about groups to whom the other definitions do not apply, such as the travellers. I would like to make sure that that is [967] what the Minister and I are at one about. Does the Minister think that in the view of the parliamentary draftsman that the term “ethnic origins” would cover a group like the travelling community?

Mr. Collins:  I am satisfied that the Bill covers all ethnic minorities. If the travelling community are an ethnic group — this would be a matter for the courts to decide — then they will be covered as well. In regard to any protection that would be needed for these minorities, the Senator knows that the Director of Public Prosecutions will decide on prosecution here. Having regard to the definitions arrived at in other countries with regard to the interpretation of the law including the United Kingdom where a liberal interpretation has been established, I feel quite satisfied that the protection for the travelling people which Senator Ryan is seeking is there in the Bill.

Mr. B. Ryan:  In the light of the fact that some of the issues I have raised will be discussed later on, at this stage I withdraw the amendment and may introduce it again on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed: “That section 1 stand part of the Bill.”

Mrs. Fennell:  I am a little bit concerned about the definition of the word “hatred”. I know it does not come in under the definitions in the first section, but perhaps the Minister could give me some idea as to whether any consideration has been given to the word in other legislation elsewhere. I can think of very strong feelings that groups may have against a group or individual that may not be hatred, which is a very strong emotive term meaning very strong reactions. Could it be shown that some action would represent dislike, resentment or opposition or something that would be on the lighter side of hatred, and perhaps the Minister would comment on this.

[968]Mrs. Bulbulia:  At the outset I would like to say how disappointed I was that I did not have an opportunity to contribute on Second Stage. I have a fairly intimate knowledge of the subject in question and I would like to have made a contribution on Second Stage. Nevertheless, I would like to ask about one or two points. There are further amendments that deal with the travelling people, but arising out of the reference to ethnic grouping, I find it very strange that Irish legislation, albeit on foot of our necessity to ratify a covenant, omits specifically by name reference to what we all know to be our own minority group. It is a great pity that specifically and by name the travelling people are not mentioned.

I welcome the legislation but I regard it as a fairly minimal exercise. We have waited 12 years for it but it seems to me to be something of a cop-out.

An Cathaoirleach:  There are amendments that deal with that later one.

Mrs. Bulbulia:  I would like to make reference to what Senator Fennell has raised — the absence of a specific definition of hatred — because racism can take all forms, many of them extremely subtle and very hurtful and hostile, but not necessarily covered by this legislation. I would also like the Minister to elaborate on the reference to a public meeting and a public place. In my experience it has happened that a religious minority has wished to rent a parish hall which has been paid for out of public subscription and parish collection in an area, but because the religious minority who requested the hall were not of the parish——

An Cathaoirleach:  Are you making a Second Stage speech?

Mrs. Bulbulia:  No. I am asking a question about a public meeting and a public place and I am giving a specific example to the Minister in the hope that he can concretely and specifically answer the point I raise. If a situation arises where a member of a minority grouping who [969] wishes to rent or use a facility which is paid for out of parish funds, for instance a parish hall, and the use is denied to them because they do not share the religion of the parish which has built and subscribed to the hall, does that kind of refusal or negative action on the part of the parish community come under the ambit of this Bill in relation to the references to public meetings and public places?

Mr. Collins:  First, I appreciate what Senator Bulbulia has said. In the debate on section 2 I will be able to cover in detail the points raised by Senator Bulbulia. With regard to the contribution made by Senator Nuala Fennell, where she has suggested in the course of her Second Stage speech and today that the word “hatred” be defined, I would suggest that line 35 in section 2 of the Bill defines it:

“hatred” means hatred against a group of persons in the State on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion or ethnic or national origins;”

I would point out that hatred is a subjective emotion and can be dealt with in a legal instrument only in so far as it manifests itself in concrete form such as abusive words or behaviour. No national legislation implementing the covenant attempts to define hatred nor does the covenant itself do so. It must be left to the courts to decide if hatred is likely to be stirred up within the meaning of the Bill in individual cases. I propose to proceed in that way.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  The points that were raised by Senator Bulbulia on public places and public meetings will be dealt with in section 2. What I was attempting to achieve in my amendment some time back concerning the interpretation of “broadcast” could be achieved by the deletion of the word “wireless” from the phrase “wireless telegraphy”.

In the meantime I looked at the dictionary explanation of the word “telegraphy”. It means transmitting [970] messages to a distance. Therefore, by taking out the word “wireless”“telegraphy” covers all kinds of communications. It would encompass exactly both the point I made and the point the Minister made. The complicated amendment that I had put down would not have been necessary had I adverted to that earlier.

Mr. Collins:  I will take the point raised by Senator O'Toole in conjunction with his earlier arguments in making the case for his amendment. It is something that we can look at.

Question put and agreed to.


Mr. J. O'Toole:  I move amendment No. 3:

In page 3, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following paragraph:

“(d) (i)it shall also be an offence for a person to organise or be a member of any organisation, association or group which it is proven had as an objective to incite racial hatred; or

(ii) at a meeting of any party covered by subparagraph (i) of this paragraph, to use words or behave or to display written material which threatens, abuses or insults with the intention of stirring up hatred or which in all likelihood, having regard to all the circumstances will stir up hatred.”

This refers back to the point that Senator Bulbulia has just made. I am not pretending for a minute that this is a very elegant way of dealing with the problem. I had in mind a number of issues here; one was to do with a sort of secret society. I was confused about the terms “public meeting,”“public place”, “public access” and so on. Let us take a secret society such as a fascist society or a neo-Nazi society where their whole raison d'être is to instil hatred of a race or group of people. If they meet behind closed doors, which they inevitably do, it is [971] behind closed doors that they get their people together and get them psyched up to go out and manifest their hatred in a physical or recognisable way. What the Minister has been trying to do through the Bill, quite correctly, is to get at the instigators and the initiators of this, but if we have a situation where the meeting is being held behind closed doors in a secret society atmosphere and where speakers are invited to address these large groups of people to incite hatred, let them be a military society or otherwise, whether it be to try to get people to go out and kill other people or to injure people or to burn their property it seems that as the Bill is written at the moment, although it would not be fair to say it is silent on the matter, it does not seem to address that point. Let us take an example of a society which has an objective to clear the country of Jews, or black people, or to shoot every Unionist in the country——

An Cathaoirleach:  Or Independent Senators.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  Or Independent Senators. They make this operate by calling large meetings, not in public places but behind closed doors, in their committee rooms or club rooms.

Mr. Collins:  By invitation.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  By invitation. Where the State was worried about this and through its own detective agencies or by police investigation had somebody to investigate this and had somebody invited into that meeting who listened to a speech which was calculated to incite hatred, to lead people to violence against some of the groups that we have mentioned here, how can that be dealt with in the Bill? I have read through the Bill but I believe that this is not dealt with in the Bill.

Mr. Collins:  In relation to Senator O'Toole's amendment, I would point out [972] that Article 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination requires that states which are party to the convention: “Shall declare illegal and prohibit organisations and also organised and all other propaganda activities which promote and incite racial discrimination and shall recognise participation in such organisations or activities as an offence punishable by law”.

The interdepartmental committee which was chaired from the Attorney General's Office and which has already reported on the legislation necessary to enable ratification of the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights is now looking at the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination. While I do not anticipate or wish to anticipate the committee's report on the convention it has been noted that many countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden have maintained that their existing legislation regarding illegal organisations is sufficient for the purpose of this provision in the convention and have not introduced any specific statutory provisions in relation to it. Activities of an organisation, such as are referred to in the amendment, would almost certainly constitute offences under sections 2, 3 or 4 of the Bill. I would point out that section 18 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, declares that any organisation which engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates the commission of any criminal offence shall be an unlawful organisation within the meaning and for the purpose of that particular Act. Although this has been considered more fully in the context of the racial discrimination convention, it appears that separate statutory provision will not be necessary in this Bill to combat organisations of the kind referred to. Accordingly, I feel that the amendment is not necessary.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  That does not meet my point. The reference to the Offences Against the State Act is very clear and refers to organisations. That seems to be quite clear. Perhaps the Minister could [973] deal with my point by referring to the place in sections 2, 3 and 4 under which a person could be prosecuted in the example I gave where somebody addressed a meeting to incite people to hatred? Under which part of the Bill could we move against him, knowing that it was in a private group, that the people were there by invitation, there was no public access or public record, but we were able to prove beyond yea or nay that this in fact took place? I do not see how we can move against him. It is clear that: “to publish or distribute written material” is one offence. The other offence is “to use words, behave or display written material et cetera” but that is in a public place or a public meeting. In other words, section 2(1) (b) is strictly referring to a public place or a public meeting, and paragraph (c) “to distribute, show or play a recording of visual images or sounds”. Why is it simply restricted to a public meeting? Further down in the section a public meeting is described as a meeting at which the public are entitled to be present. Why is it restricted to that? This means that if we restrict it to invitation only we can make everybody a member of a club, make the whole country a member of a club or a whole community a member of a club and invite them all along to a meeting? We could then do everything that is outlawed under this Bill in a public meeting. The public meeting would just be changed to a private meeting but the same people would be there. How do we get around this? I believe we are creating a technicality.

Mr. Collins:  I see the situation that the Senator is bringing to our attention and it is a difficult one. First, if there are a group of people meeting totally in private — a family group — we cannot legislate for that and I do not think any of us would want to. Big brother would be everywhere and he is big enough as it is, virtually too big. But, if there are organisations devoted to incitement of racial hatred or if it is the objective of any organisation to be involved in such [974] activities that would be an illegal organisation and would be open to be dealt with under the Offences Against the State Act. If an organisation were involved in any racial hatred incitement there is sufficient provision in the law to deal with it. Is Senator O'Toole happy with that?

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I understand what the Minister is saying. He is saying that under section 18 of the Offences Against the State Act it should be an offence to incite anybody to break the law and that here today we are producing a new law, namely, incitement to hatred, and that by putting both pieces of legislation together, if an organisation incites people to hate another group, they will come under the ambit of section 18 of the Offences Against the State Act and that, therefore, they would be an illegal organisation. Maybe the organisation can be dealt with but in what sense can it be dealt with? The Minister states here how we can deal with the actual offence of incitement to hatred but if we were to proceed then under the Offences Against the State Act, the offence would be of membership of an illegal organisation and would not be an offence of incitement to hatred because it would not be covered by the Bill.

The Bill can be used so that new organisations can be taken in under section 18 of the Offences Against the State Act. I accept that but it does not allow one — as the Minister pointed out — to proceed against people on the charge of incitement to hatred. That is the point we are discussing here.

Mr. Collins:  I accept the main thrust of the Senator's point but, as I have already said, we have examined the progress made with regard to ratifying this covenant in a number of countries, for example, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Australia and Canada and they all maintain that their existing legislation regarding illegal organisations is sufficient for the purposes of the provisions of the convention. They have not introduced any specific statutory provision in [975] relation to it. Activities of an organisation such as are referred to in the amendment would almost certainly constitute offences under section 2, 3 and 4 of the Bill. I am satisfied that section 18 of the Offences Against the State Act which declares that any organisation which engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates the commission of any criminal offence shall be an unlawful organisation within the meaning of the Act, is sufficient to deal with any situation that might arise.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I accept the Minister's argument and the line of logic he has just given us. In that situation you can only move against a person under the Offence Against the State Act. The only charge you can bring about is membership of an illegal organisation or associated charges. You cannot charge people under section 2 and 3. You can use that by saying that such a person was at a meeting inciting people to hate other people and to show their hatred for others and that is in breach of the law and therefore the organisation is illegal. That could be said but I am absolutely certain, unless somebody proves otherwise, that you could not proceed with the charge of incitement to hatred. In the circumstances outlined you could not proceed with this charge; you could only proceed with the charge of membership of an illegal organisation.

Mr. Collins:  I accept the Senator's point. We are both right. I know I am right in saying that we could proceed in a situation, such as he described, under the Offences Against the State Act but I am sure that we could not proceed and charge along the lines that Senator O'Toole is suggesting. We had to have concern for Article 40 of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom of association. This is something that I would be prepared to discuss with the Attorney General to see if there are any constitutional difficulties. I accept the Senator's point, which is a good one. It is because of the doubts which we have [976] to have in bearing in mind an infringement of the constitutional rights of the individual that we proceeded as we did. If the Senator would be kind enough to let me consult with the Attorney General on it and if the Attorney General clears the way for me I will, even before I report to the Dáil on it, see if I can do something to try to make it more definite, as the Senator and everybody else would like it to be.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I cannot ask for more than that. That is a perfectly reasonable way to proceed. I will do that. I thank the Minister for his commitment to examine it and, if necessary, change it. I can ask for no more than that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 are alternatives and amendments Nos. 7 to 12 are consequential on these respectively; all may be discussed together.

Mr. Norris:  I move amendment No. 4:

In page 3, subsection (3), line 36, after “origins” to add “or their status as members of the travelling community or sexual orientation”.

I am glad that the Minister is in a mood to take on board the very serious reservations that some of us have about this Bill although, of course, the intention behind it is an honourable and welcome one. I regret that I did not have the opportunity to expatiate a little more on that but I will limit myself, of course, within the scope of this evening's debate.

I am concerned because the House will be aware that there is a phrase used sometimes in American politics that a particular party, interest or politician has been “economical with the truth”. I would not charge the Minister with that. I would, however, worry that if the legislation passes in its present form it lays the Parliament open to an accusation that we are parsimonious with democracy and a little niggardly with justice. I am particularly concerned because of the Title of [977] the Bill. It is a Bill for the Prohibition of Incitement to Racial, Religious or National Hatred and it excludes certain areas. In view of the history of this legislation and of the debate that was held on the video situation in which an attempt was made in very much the same way to introduce a similar clause — a sexually orientated clause for example — into a section of the Bill that dealt with incitement to hatred, I supplied information about the widespread acceptance in the domestic law of a growing number of countries. In view of that, that section was entirely withdrawn and we then were very pleased to have this legislation in front of us. In view of the fact that this legislation now appears without any such clause, it seems to me that we are in danger of having a situation in which half a loaf is a great deal worse than no bread. I have no doubt whatever that certain dangerous interests inside this country will take this Bill as an open incitement to hatred. I speak with some feeling because I receive regularly, through the post, documentation which will not be covered by this legislation unless the Minister is prepared to consider the amendments I have put down in the same careful, balanced and judicious way as he has considered the amendments put down by other Senators during the afternoon.

I have not had the opportunity to acquaint the Minister directly with all of this information but I would like to read for the information of the House and the Minister, a piece of literature recently received by me. It is headed “National Socialist Party: Smash AIDS Blitzkrieg”:

In Ireland, AIDS is being spread amongst all normal people by the Gay AIDS spreaders and the Junkies. The Government is afraid to tell you the truth. Thousands in Ireland are infected — hundreds of AIDS deaths have been covered up and the number dying will double every six months.

Thanks to Queers, Junkies and Negroes visiting here, all of you are now at risk from the AIDS Black Death, right down to the pregnant [978] women ... and a baby can be born with AIDS!!! Horrific. AIDS is as deadly as nuclear radiation. Help us in the National Socialist Party to break the conspiracy of silence among the knee-jerk liberals in Government. Join us. Act Now. Only we will tell you the truth. Only we will save you and your family from this Scourge of God.

Our “Smash AIDS Blitzkrieg” proposes: 1. Enforce the Law — ten years for homosexuals; 2. Enforce stringent AIDS-testing on all immigrants; 3. Intern all junkies, pushers etc., as Enemies of the People; 4. Daily testing of the Blood Bank for the AIDS virus; 5. Suspect Discos, Gay Bars, clubs, etc., to be burned down; 6. Execution of deliberate AIDS spreaders.

We were (and are) the first to commence a smash AIDS blitz. We will shortly issue a Guide on AIDS — the Real truth, not politicians' lies! We will tell you how to protect yourself, family, friends. For this, the National Socialist Party requires volunteers, funds, help!

Contact immediately — most urgent — SAE to:

Michael J. McGrath, Chief Lieutenant, National Socialist Party, 18 Dominic Street, Kilkenny City.

That is just one example. Similar material over the years has been sent to my employers. I speak, as I indicated to the House, with some feeling because some five or six years ago the principles outlined in this inflammatory document were, in fact, acted upon. The morning before I gave evidence to the Commission on Penal Reform, chaired by the late Sean MacBride, I was in the Hirschfeld centre when I noticed sparks through a plexiglas dome on the roof. I went onto the roof with fire fighting equipment of an electrical kind because I thought that some of the sophisticated monitoring equipment we put on the roof to protect it against fire and burglary had short circuited. When I got onto the roof I found that the whole flat roof, which was made of tarmacadam and asphalt, [979] had been covered with a thin film of petrol, and there was a full sized drum of petrol and two churns full of explosives on the roof. The people initiating this incendiary attack had got down to the ground again and thrown up firelighters. The entire roof was beginning to blaze. The intention, quite clearly, was to ignite the roof, cause the two kegs to explode, blow the roof off and send the contents of the oil barrel down the building. Within 20 minutes from the moment at which I spotted this incident there would have been 200 people attending a discotheque. Two hundred people could have been literally incinerated to death.

This material constitutes a clear and explicit incitement. It could not possibly be clearer. Item No. 5 on their agenda is “suspect discos, gay bars, clubs etc. to be burned down”. I am sure this is not the Minister's wish or intention in any way. I would not wish it to be thought for a second that I did feel that the Minister would want to be associated with or allow this kind of sentiment abroad. But it is perfectly clear that the absence of a specific clear provision on sexual orientation will render this legislation absolutely impotent in dealing with this material. I am somewhat surprised, in view of the fact that it comes as a consequence of certain international obligations, that this amendment was not immediately accepted. I can give certain instances of countries in which this legislation or something very like it has been accepted.

I will, in my first submission, limit myself a little because I have, as you can perhaps see, a very considerable amount of documentation which has been supplied to me. I can cite, as I already have done, statutes enacted by the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch House of Parliament, the fact that they have very specifically and for the reason I have annotated, included protection for gay people in the Dutch Constitution. I wish — I am sure the Minister will share this wish with me — that the Easter Proclamation of 1916 had been incorporated into the Constitution of this country, that we would have very clearly on the record the noble [980] declaration of Padraig Pearse, that this country would cherish all the children of the nation equally. This legislation, I regret to have to tell Minister, will not do so.

In Denmark, since 1987, an anti-discrimination clause, clause 266 of the penal code, has been accepted by the Folketinget regarding sexual orientation. It is included now in terms of incitement to hatred legislation. In the Netherlands the first clause of the Dutch Constitution protects homosexual men and women against discrimination. In 1986, the Dutch Government published a report entitled “Homosexuality and Government Policy”, with proposals for, among other things, prevention of aggression against homosexual women and men and integration of homosexuality into the educational system. In a civil proceeding in 1987 an Orthodox religious married couple were ordered to pay a sum of 6,000 Dutch guilders every time they repeated their claim that homosexuals had caused AIDS.

In Norway since 1981, a law has been enforced which prohibits discrimination against gays and lesbians. Section 135(a) makes it illegal to publicly threaten, insult or bear hatred towards, persecute or hold in contempt a person or a group on the grounds of homosexual orientation or way of life. In Sweden, there was a parliamentary commission from 1978 to 1986 on homosexuality which recommended a political agenda to eliminate all remaining discriminations against homosexuals. As a consequence, in 1987, two important laws were passed.

First, commercial organisations are forbidden to discriminate on grounds of homosexuality and secondly, — this is the bit that is directly relevant to this evening — it is, in Sweden now as a result of that legislation, a criminal offence to make derogatory remarks about a person's homosexuality, on a par with race, colour, national or ethnic origin and religious belief. At present, it is not my intention to be completely tedious or too academic but the Minister, I am sure, will accept my bona fides. I have similar [981] material from the United States of America for domestic state legislation. I have similar material from Canada. I have similar legislation from Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. There is an overwhelming burden of evidence that this is now normal practice in many countries and there is a recognition that items — such as the very offensive material I have quoted this evening — are not covered by the kind of legislation that is proposed.

I must draw the attention of the House and the Minister through the Chair to the fact that in Ireland we are, basically, a decent, civilised and tolerant people when it comes down to it. I am sure that the Minister will agree with me that the great phrase of his party in the thirties and forties about the plain people of Ireland — very often they have a reasonable judgement and I do not think they are at all as intolerant as they are made out to be. I would like to point out that in pursuance of this knowledge and understanding the former Minister for Finance, Deputy MacSharry, within the last couple of months, issued a directive which covers the entire Civil Service in which it is outlawed to discriminate against people on the basis of being HIV positive, having full-blown AIDS unless there is a medically threatening condition involved or on the grounds of sexual orientation.

I am not suggesting anything that is terribly adventurous in this. I am not suggesting anything that has caused a senior Cabinet Minister to lose a night's sleep. I am very hopeful in anticipation of a very positive, considered and judicious reply from the Minister. I know the Minister has had quite a long time to mull this over in his mind because I remember a good friend and colleague of mine in many political arenas — Noel Browne — in the Dáil — asking the Minister in 1976 or 1977 questions in an area very directly related to this and the Minister then, as now Minister Collins, said he was considering it. Ten years is quite a long time and I am sure that we will have the emergence of a very mature and balanced view at this point. Certainly the Minister will not claim, as happened on the video Bill, [982] that the inclusion of such a clause would be unusual or irrelevant in any way at all to the Bill. I look forward to a very positive response, although I was a little troubled that the Minister so consistently referred to the Bill as a racial hatred Bill. I know that was a form of shorthand, at least I am sure it is, and I am quite sure that it is the Minister's intention in the most civilised way to broaden the scope of the Bill.

Most of that has been on the question of sexual orientation. However, it is also important that we should, very clearly, place on the record, the necessity for extending this protection and dignity to members of the travelling community. The Minister expressed some reservations during discussion of earlier amendments by Senator Brendan Ryan and indicated in a way that I found a little bit puzzling that perhaps the acceptance of an earlier amendment by Senator Ryan would be limiting in some way. I do not think that the acceptance of these two categories could at all be described as limiting the Bill. I have illustrated more than amply that the absence of these clauses in the Bill limits it to such a point that it can constitute itself an incitement to hatred and I will certainly have to vote against it. There is no doubt about that. I will have to have it on record. If people in this country will not vote to protect me against the imminent threat, which I have personally encountered, of death by bombing, then by goodness, I want that on the record and I want to know who it is in this Parliament who will not so protect me. I feel the same about the travelling people.

I also feel — I am sure the Minister will be sensitive to this — that one of the most important things for the group who feel themselves to be disadvantaged or disposessed is the act of recognition. I know the Minister is an educationalist and it is something which we perhaps both understand as teachers, in addition to the fact that the Minister is now suffering from my loquacity — one of the things, of course as good teachers we have to learn is how to listen creatively. One of the things that the travellers have [983] expressed so often is the requirement that they should be allowed the dignity of recognition, to be listened to and to be named. They have had various names as the Minister is aware. At one stage they were called tinkers. To me in the context of historicity, this was an honourable name which at the time they enjoyed because it was a profession. They were making tin cans and they were a valuable part of the community. There was then a well-meaning attempt to ameliorate this and call them itinerants, which is just a Latin derived word, meaning traveller but they did not like it. They have, after all, the right to name themselves and to name themselves the travelling people of Ireland, the travellers. It is important to recognise this right, give them this dignity and show it by naming them. The act of naming them in this legislative proposal will be at least some effective measure of protection to a group who historically have been discriminated against, a group who, if I understand my social history correctly, derive at least in part from the great national tragedy and catastrophe of the famine that affected this country sporadically through the 19th century. So I very much hope that the Minister will be able to deal with my proposals in a positive light and I look forward to hearing his comments on the matter.

Mrs. Fennell:  I would like to speak on the amendment in my name and deal with similar areas to those which Senator Norris has just addressed himself. I support his claim in both areas. This legislation should name and protect the rights of people regardless of their sexual orientation. My colleague has very eloquently stated the case for homosexuals in our society and I stress very strongly that I support him particularly so at the present time because there will be increasing unease and perhaps a sense of distrust and ignorance about the incidence of AIDS. The leaflet that he passed to us and read into the record is indeed chilling evidence of this.

I would like to address myself specifically to the travelling people and to ask [984] the Minister to take into account the very strong feelings of most people who will debate this legislation, certainly on this side of the House. I do not believe the Minister has given us an indication that the travelling community can be protected under this legislation. They should be named. A section should be put in to ensure without any doubt that this legislation will cover them. I do not think that there is any good reason why they cannot be included. The reality is that they are the group most likely to suffer from incitement to hatred and organised hatred. They are a forgotten group. They are a group that can be marginalised and passed over. I regret very much that there were no representatives of the travelling community who could have made submissions to the Minister before this legislation was brought before the House. That is really where it should have come from but because their organisation is not as good as it could be, this was not possible.

We have an obligation or a responsibility to speak for them. The travellers, as they are called in this country, are subjected to all kinds of discrimination and outrage by a number of people and institutions in Ireland such as local communities, business houses, shops, post offices and even county council authorities. Unless there is a legal tool that they can use to prevent this abuse, it will continue and get worse.

No one wants to perpetuate the problems. I am sure that the Minister and people in Fianna Fáil would like to see some positive action taken to ensure that the kind of awful outrages that we have seen in the past, in all our constituencies, can no longer happen. In Dublin County Council we had, very recently, quite outrageous organisation against the planning and the building of sites to enable the settlement of travellers in Dublin county where most of them have congregated over recent years. Two and a half years ago the Fianna Fáil members of Dublin County Council very cynically voted down an agreed plan for settlement and brought in their own plan. This was brought in regardless of consultation or [985] discussion. At the time an indication was given by the present Minister to the Chairman of the County Council that all the sites would be approved because they would all be on land belonging to religious institutions. That plan has fallen by the wayside. It has fallen by the wayside because once any community or group in any area got wind of the word that there was going to be a site in their area, they began organising meetings, writing letters, planning protests, getting on to TD's and county councillors. Therefore, nothing has happened. It is working in the most unfair and heinous way against the settlement of travellers. They are not going to be able to solve their problems. They will continue to be what many people would see as an anti-social force in society if their real needs are not addressed and if they are not protected in their own homeland.

This problem has existed in other countries. Notably, I know most about it in Holland, where they had similar problems of community hostility to the settlement of travellers but they dealt with it. They realised that the problem would not go away. They regulated how the travellers would be settled and changed the attitudes of people to them. Now they have a very worthwhile plan. They have a generation of young people growing up who are being educated and being integrated into employment. We would not need this legislation if we were a truly civilised Christian community. There is a long tradition there. We certainly do need the legislation.

I would hope that the Minister, in his reply, would not tell me that this legislation is not a feature of other countries. In either area, whether the travellers or the homosexual community, I do not care what other countries have done. We need the legislation to be extended to both these groups. I would hope that the Minister will make a concession and, understanding the reasons for it, I hope he will assure us that the two groups will be included in this legislation.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I wish to refer to a few of the issues that have been raised. My [986] amendment deals with the travelling community. I want to say immediately that I totally support the case being put forward by Senator Norris. I would certainly be prepared to withdraw my amendment in favour of one of the others that deal with both the travelling community and the gay community.

I try to be as objective as possible on this issue. In listening to the case that Senator Norris put forward, explaining and outlining what it has been like for him and for the gay community in general, I think that if we do not include the gay community in this Bill, we will create another technicality that people can use to get around the Bill. We will create a group of people who will not be protected by the law. It is something that we would regret for a long number of years.

We have reached a stage in the development of Irish society where people are prepared to accept as necessary this type of legislation to cover all aspects and groups within the community. I do not at all agree with Senator Norris that we have a tolerant society. Let me say, as a trade unionist, that I hope we never have a tolerant society in the sense of being passive and accepting. I understand what the Senator means in the sense of being tolerant in acceptance of difference in terms of a pluralist society. I would certainly reiterate my view, which I have stated time and time again, about the Proclamation of the Republic. It is a pity that the Proclamation was not contained in our Constitution because if it were contained in the Constitution the type of Acts we are trying to cover here today would have been found to be unconstitutional years ago. It seems to me that paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Proclamation of the Republic would certainly set the proper tone for this discussion.

Let us look at the case of the travelling community. Where I come from, west Kerry, the travelling community were simply that. They were part of the community and when we went to school there were in our classes members of the travelling community. There was a total acceptance of them. Indeed, I am sure [987] the Minister in Limerick West would have had exactly the same experience. The travelling community were part of the community. In the days before the travelling community had access to cars or the faster means of transport, they were very much an integral part of the community, mainly travelling, but very often with a winter base where they were accepted in the community. It seems to me tragic that we cannot now reach out and make it clear to these people how we see them. We should be able to say: “we see you as an integral part of our community; you are part of the community, and you are there”.

I read a book recently called Nan's Story. It was published some years ago. From the perspective of the travelling community, acceptance is the only way. I have these great theories about tolerance, offence and acceptability. It does not matter what one means. It does not really matter what we feel. This is not an objective thing. It is a subjective thing. What we need to care about here is how our actions and our feelings are perceived by the other parts of the community. If we go ahead and do what is in the Bill and do not include the gay community or the travelling community we are creating an offence to those people, which I have no doubt is not intended by the Minister. That is the way it would be perceived. In my childhood and as I grew up there was total tolerance of the travelling community. There was more than a tolerance, there was an acceptance. There were the usual rows but there were rows everywhere between travelling community and travelling community, or between the settled community and settled community. On fair day in Dingle, one did not distinguish one from the other.

We need to bring a bit of that kind of tolerance into this legislation and be seen to do it. I have heard the Minister explain that he could stretch the interpretation to cover the points that I am making but there is more to it than that. There is the fact that we must be seen to respond. We must be seen to do. We must be seen to [988] protect them and to create an integrated community.

When I moved to Dublin almost 20 years ago I recall that in the area of north County Dublin where I live, which is a rural area, there was a community of travellers. These people moved around and called every couple of weeks. They were known and were part of the community. They came into the house and had a meal in the house, or whatever, and were part of the community and were accepted. Their children attended schools there. This was part of Irish society as we knew it. Then a strange thing developed. As society became more sophisticated, it became more intolerant. My house has been burgled seven times. On one of those occasions it was blamed on members of the travelling community. When I discussed this with neighbours years later they would say: “Wasn't your house ‘done’ by travellers?”. That was one time out of six. It would never occur to someone to say: “Wasn't your house ‘done’ by settled people?”. This is why they need protection. Those who are in any way different from the average or from what is considered to be the centre of society and anyone who is on the periphery of society is different, and if they are different they seem to threaten. If they are seen to threaten, you exclude them. Once you exclude them, you put them outside the care and tolerance of society. Therefore, you create the climate for hatred, discrimination and all that develops from there. I am making a case in that sense for bringing them into the legislation. It is not just enough to say that they may be covered by the legislation as it stands. We need to take positive action here to include those members of the community who at the moment are not covered.

I have had a number of experiences over the last number of years of discrimination against the travelling community. It is as well to put them on the record, to show the type of thing that happens, the way good works can be confused with discrimination, and the way it [989] becomes impossible to deal with discrimination without proper and due legislation. You do not change attitudes before you change the law. I am speaking as an educationist. Perhaps I should be saying something else but it has been my experience that attitudes do not change before the law changes. We have to change the law first and attitudes will finally change. I have certainly seen it in my own profession of teaching in the area of equality. Change only came there when people began to worry about the law.

One example of discrimination against the travelling community which I came across was in a town in provincial Ireland. In that town there was a disco which was run by the local disco owner. He had a particular rule that he did not allow members of the travelling community to be admitted. A local sergeant of the Garda thought this was very unfair. He approached the owner of the disco and had a discussion as to why the owner felt like this. They immediately began to negotiate. There are some things you cannot negotiate on.

As a trade union activist I know too well that when you sit down at a table you have to start conceding. The sergeant felt having done what he considered to be a good day's work when he got agreement from the owner of the disco that ten travellers could attend the disco on any given night. He was very pleased with himself. I am sure, in fairness to the man, he acted with the most honourable of intentions. He responded to what he saw as discrimination and inequity. He went to resolve it and came back with some form of a solution. How then would the ten travellers identify themselves? They would identify themselves by a note that he would give them. Who would he give the note to? He would give a note to the first ten travellers who asked him. I am not joking. I know the town, the Garda station and the sergeant. I heard about this, and I was appalled. This happened within the last 18 months. The travellers would call to the Garda station and meet the sergeant; the sergeant wrote a pass for the first ten to arrive; they went down [990] to the diso, presented their pass and their money and were allowed in and no more. The difficulty was how to deal with that.

I tried to deal with it because to me it was the Pass laws, Irish-style; it was no different to the apartheid system in South Africa. When I investigated it I found that this poor man was doing his best to resolve a situation. He did not resolve the situation but it was impossible to do anything about it. He would have been in trouble had the Minister for Justice become aware of the fact. I know that two papers had the whole story and did not publish it because they did not want to get that man into trouble. That is the type of thing that can happen. In the meantime, this has been stopped. I am not sure how it was resolved finally. That is one example of the type of discrimination I am talking about.

Another example was in a hotel in Dublin last year where a group of travellers organised a fund raising “get-together” on some issue. They approached an hotel in the city centre, booked the hotel and paid for their function. There was no difficulty. At about 11.30 p.m. at a function that was supposed to go on until about 1 a.m., the management found out that they were mainly travellers and closed the disco and put them out. That happened a year ago in this town not a mile away from where I speak, only because they were members of the travelling community.

One month ago I spoke to a leading member of the travelling community who was nominated for a European prize by certain agencies in this country some years back. Two of her daughters are getting married next month. She is highly regarded, articulate, intelligent woman who has done a lot in a representative capacity for her people. She went to book a hotel for the wedding of her daughters which she was prepared to pay for, money up front. Indeed, she was prepared to pay an extra premium just to get into a hotel. That woman could not get a hotel. I was with her when she rang hotel after hotel. I was there when supporters of hers did the same thing. It was only when [991] the matter was raised on a radio programme that some hotel owner rang back and said he was prepared to take the function. This is Ireland 1988 I am talking about. I am not making these stories up. I have chapter and verse on everyone of them.

I was myself asked to address a public meeting in an hotel on the northside of the city last year. When we arrived at the meeting the travelling community were not allowed to go into it. It was a meeting about travellers, for travellers' rights and the organisation of housing for travellers, but they were not allowed enter even though the owner of the hotel knew the people. Many of them actually drank in the hotel. There were no known troublemakers. They were not dirty. They had money to pay for what they wanted. They did not have any criminal record. They were never in any difficulty with the hotel. The only reason they were not allowed access to that public place was because they were members of the travelling community.

It is impossible for me to accept legislation which does not deal positively with this kind of activity. In other words, what I cannot accept is that the Bill would be silent on this issue. It is not good enough. We need to take a positive step here to deal with it. Otherwise, we are condoning the type of activities I have just talked about. We are condoning the type of activities that my colleague, Senator Norris, talked about in the Hirschfeld Centre. We are condoning what is bad in our community. We are enabling prejudice to continue. That is not the objective of this legislation. The objective of this legislation is to rule out and make illegal that kind of activity.

I could go much further with it by talking about the need to cover groups like this in educational and housing terms. I have given a few vivid exmples to show what it is like in day-to-day life. I will finish up with a story. Two friends of mine, two members of the travelling community, told me this story on the night on which we were not allowed into the hotel to have the meeting. They were [992] quite good natured about it. They were used to it. One of the guys, Peter, was very well turned out in his suit. He wore glasses. He said that the glasses were a great trick for travellers because they never expect travellers to have glasses. He wore glasses all the time with no lenses. They were of ordinary glass. It gave him a look of respectability. He told me he used them all the time. He was a guy with a sense of humour. He also told me that he had some time previously been in a bar in town and met another friend of his. They were sitting at the bar. They were nicely turned out, each having a pint. Two guys arrived in in boiler suits coming off a building site, or whatever. They walked up and ordered a pint and they were served. The two travellers were sitting looking at these guys who just came off the building site. They were dirty, wearing dirty overalls and boiler suits. Peter said to his friend: “Would that not be a great trick for travellers to wear boiler suits so that they would get in anywhere.” The barman heard this and the two of them were chucked straight out. That is the kind of way these people have to live by subterfuge to get into public places. What this Bill is about is to outlaw that kind of activity and to make sure that we make some attempt to do what the Constitution says, and that is to attempt at least to cherish all our children equally.

I know that no Government will be prepared to take on board that responsibility of cherishing all our children equally. I would hope in my time I might see it but I do not believe I will. In political realities there is no political movement or will to do that. I do believe that we need to start tying down those areas where there are difficulties, and that this is one of them. It now seems to me that the aspects covered in the amendments that we are discussing at present boil down to two things really. They are to include the travelling community and the gay community.

I would, therefore, ask the Minister to firm up on this legislation which I consider to be a positive direction and a progressive piece of legislation. I would [993] ask him to firm up on it by taking on board the two areas which have been raised here today. I would say to him if there is no other value in having a Committee Stage in the Seanad this is a value, where we can tease something out in a reasonably relaxed atmosphere. You know where we stand on this issue. It has been said many times here. I ask the Minister to take this one on board. It is a small amendment. It will be something which, historically, will be recognised as a major positive step forward. It would be in line with the philosophy, thinking, direction and with what was encompassed in this Bill. I would plead with the Minister to take on board these amendments.

Mr. Robb:  In rising to support the thrust of this Bill, and in particular the amendment under discussion, I could start by saying that in Ireland, in common with many societies, what we do not understand we endeavour to marginalise in order to cope with it. If we add to that marginalisation the attitudes of hatred and if we publish these in one or other form, then I think we could be guilty of using this incitement to hatred to seal people into the state of marginalisation which we have used in order to cope with the problem which we do not understand.

I cannot pretend to understand completely the state of homosexuality which is the state of the gay community. At the same time, having said that, I have tried and I have learnt a lot through communication with Senator Norris. It is a process of education, particularly as we start in Ireland from a pretty backward stance in relation to such matters, because not so long ago it was a taboo subject. At least we have reached the stage where we can discuss it. We now must go further and protect people who are subjected to the most extraordinary attacks which are implicit in this terrible document which was read out by Senator Norris and was written by the nationalist socialist party.

The points that I would really like to raise is that Ireland has moved now into the global arena with a vengeance. After [994] 1992 we will be part of a much more extensive legislation. We will be part of a community of nations in which a much broader spectrum of approach to matters in relation to law and in areas of morality will have to be taken on board. It is interesting to note that the way in which section 2 (3), line 30 in the first paragraph, is worded. It refers to hatred meaning hatred against a group of persons in the State on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion or ethnic or national origins. If we look at the various conventions and declarations in relation to human rights we find that, by and large, the statement also includes the word “sex”. If we take the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 2, everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or otherwise, national or social origin, property, birth and, I would emphasise, “or other status”.

In the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 2 (1), it says much the same thing. It refers to the rights to recognise in the present covenant without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The same thing is again said in the covenants in Article 24. The Charter of the United Nations, Article 13, repeats exactly the same form of phraseology. Article 55, section C, also refers to sex without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and in Article 76 we find the same expression.

Could the words, “or other status” have covered many of the areas which must, of necessity, occur to us after this gets on the Statute Book, if it does. There will be other areas apart from the gay community and the travellers which would require our attention for protection. I feel it is too late in the day now. I did not address myself to the problem early enough. The use of the words “or other status” might have been able to cover all eventualities in relation to the Proclamation of the Republic which has [995] already been mentioned and the ethos that was written into that Proclamation. I would ask why the word “sex” has been left out in the list which is mentioned in this Bill.

I would take some gentle exception to Senator O'Toole's suggestion that you change the law in order to change attitudes. I do not see how, for a logical person like himself, he could accept that the law could possibly be changed unless someone's attitude is first changed in order to promote a change in the law. Here we are in the Seanad endeavouring to come to terms with the problems and to try to come to grips with changing attitudes inside ourselves and, along with other people in society at large, to enact a new law and to ensure that it is good law.

I do anticipate considerable difficulty in the future if the Minister cannot see his way to including the amendments which have been put down in relation to the travelling community and to the gay community. We have, as I mentioned at the commencement, gone a long way in Ireland to show our concern for marginalised minority groups. We are certainly showing increasing concern for the condition of prisoners. We are showing concern for the condition of mentally handicapped. We have shown concern for the condition of the mentally handicapped and the disabled, but here we have people who are ordinary, healthy citizens, participating actively in society and are nevertheless subjected to the sort of threatening attitudes and actions to which Senator Norris has so eloquently borne witness. If I had not been convinced before, I was certainly convinced as I listened to him describing the most appalling threats which had been made on him personally and I have no doubt that such attitudes and such threats are shared by the gay community. What we are trying to do here is to de-marginalise Irish society and in order to do that we must educate to understand so that we [996] do not have this device of marginalisation. The one thing we must prevent is any incitement to hatred which is the means by which we seal people into their marginalisation.

Mrs. Bulbulia:  I would like to support these amendments which have been discussed and which have been very eloquently dealt with by preceding speakers. The Minister in his reply to earlier remarks gave a clear indication that in the preparation and research that went into this Bill cognisance has been taken of legislation in other European states which were involved in ratifying the convention. This is an Irish piece of legislation. This is an Irish response to our ratification of the covenant. Everybody knows that of minority groups, our exclusively Irish minority group is the travelling community and I fail to see why an Irish legislation ratifying a convention, article 20 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, actually omits to mention the travelling community. I cannot credit that that is so.

Senator Fennell expressed regret that it was not possible for the travelling community to make submissions to Senators and TDs in respect of this legislation. Of course, there was not the opportunity because this legislation was sprung on us all. Nor was there an opportunity for social justice groups and various groupings within the community who work very closely with, for and on behalf of the travelling community, to make their views known. I am confident that in legislation like this they would wish to see stated specifically by name the travelling community as coming within the ambit of the legislation. It is not good enough to feel they are covered by the phrase “ethnic origin”. I would have expected Irish legislation to have named the travelling community.

Whatever about submissions, it is a pity that the travelling community do not have membership of the Dáil or Seanad. I am confident that in time to come they will have. In both the Dáil and the Seanad we already have representatives of minority groupings within this State and it is [997] logical therefore to accept that over a period we will have members of the travelling community who will be able to stand on the floor of the Dáil or the Seanad and espouse their own grouping as eloquently as Senator Norris does in the case of the gay community. By contact, Senator O'Toole has, over a long number of years, put himself in a position where he is able to do a very good job for the travelling people. His contribution was very amply and ably illustrated by the ancedotes which he brought forward. I could not credit that the one involving the pass into the disco, which sounded antediluvian, was related to an episode or an incident which had occurred only some 18 months ago. It is clear that attitudes within the community need to change and that a process of education and information should be reinforced by legislation.

Senator Robb is right when he says that unless somebody in the community feels that something is important the process will not begin and legislation will not be brought forward. What this legislation is about is elevating the dignity of people. It is about according them dignity and ensuring that they do not become targets of racial, religious or national hatred. The Irish minority — the travelling people — should be specifically named in this legislation.

Senator Norris has ably made the case for the gay community. I concur with everything he has said and I would also make the point that we are approaching 1992, when, there will be a great movement of people within the European community. This legislation in that context will assume even more significance and more importance. That is why it is vital that we would get it right. I am interested to hear what the Minister has to say about the exclusion of the travelling community and also about the exclusion of references to sexual orientation or gender.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I apologise to the Cathaoirleach and the Minister for being absent. There was a meeting of Comhchoiste na Gaeilge which I had to attend. I do not propose to speak at [998] length. I want to have my views on these amendments on the record. I understand from what I heard reported that Senators O'Toole, Fennell and Norris spoke at length about both groups mentioned here. So did speakers that I heard. There are very good reasons why these two areas of concern ought to be referred to specifically.

I endeavoured in an amendment earlier to change the basis of this legislation so that it would not be necessary to mention specific groups by name, with the exception of the question of sexual orientation which has an extreme importance, given the sort of lurid document Senator Norris made available to us. Nobody can justify that lurid threat to anybody. There is no time for niceties and delicacies at a time when people are being tarred — in particular the gay community — as being the cause of something when that is manifestly untrue, and when they are being blamed for things. When I heard a senior officer of the Garda Síochána, at a meeting I attended in a private capacity as a member of a residents' association, suggesting that most of the sexual assaults on children were carried out by homosexuals, I realised that we badly needed legislation.

I am intrigued as to which of the homosexual community — I presume he meant men — were sexually assaulting little girls. I was intrigued by the suggestion that not only were they seen to be somewhat awful in their homosexuality but in addition to being homosexual had developed a capacity to interfere with and indecently assault young girls. I made no public statement about it; I do not believe in any way that the person in question could be identified and I choose to keep it like that but I found that statement unsavoury and it reflects the reason why the gay community feel legitimately concerned that they are entitled to be protected from incitements to hatred. Prejudice runs deep. It surfaced immediately after Senator Norris's much-to-be-celebrated victory in the European Court of Justice and it surfaces whenever anything uneasy arises. It surfaced during that appalling murder in Fairview Park [999] some years ago — an ambivalence, an uncertainty.

If there is a fund of hatred against a particular identified group in our society then nothing can justify our not legislating to protect that group from those who would incite hatred against them. No basis of uncertainty, no basis of delicacy, no basis of an inherited morality can be used to justify that. It is our duty as legislators to put aside whatever historical views and feelings we have and to say it is not right in our society. This has got nothing to do with a person's individual views about a particular area of human activity. What it has to do with is the need to ensure that the rule of law applies in our society. If certain groups can be dealt with and referred to in the unspeakable way they were referred to in that literature that Senator Norris received, then our law is inadequate irrespective of whom those things were being said about. The one thing we know is that the group being referred to are gay people.

For myself, going beyond that, since I do not share the moral scruples that many people in our society have about gay people and since I regard them as no more than just one more minority in a nation of minorities — to use a South African phrase which is much abused — I would therefore quite happily endorse the proposal. I understand — and Senator Norris has made it clear — that we are not breaking new ground in this, that discrimination against the gay community is a matter of statute in many countries, that in the United States of America those who would claim to represent the fundamentalist right of the present President and the incoming President have found it necessary to be somewhat circumspect in how they deal with the gay community notwithstanding their moral fulminations because the gay community is a significant voting minority.

People will have to realise that gay people are not a new phenomenon. The great and wonderful thing about the late twentieth century is that gay people are [1000] now beginning, through their own courage and to a certain extent through the increasing enlightenment of our society to be able to say that they are gay, which is something they were not, apparently, supposed to say though even a cursory perusal of literature will show that being gay is not something that began to happen in this or the last century. It is a normal part of human life for as long as human sexual activity has existed. What we have now is an opportunity to ensure that incitement to hatred on the grounds of somebody's sexual orientation becomes an offence which can be punished by law. It is not a question of our having to prove why this Bill should be amended: the burden of proof ought to rest with the Minister to prove why it should not be necessary to do this. It is simply not enough to argue that it is unprecedented. A clearly identified group who are subject to precisely what is meant to be prohibited by this Bill are entitled to the protection of this legislation.

The question of the travelling community is in some ways even more straightforward because there can be no moral scruple about this. The principle is the same. Here is a group clearly identified in our society who are often the subject of the most appalling threats and attacks, and towards whom many elected representatives around this country have been guilty of the most appalling incitement, and who are often an easy target for a good headline in a local newspaper, even occasionally an easy target for a good headline in the national newspapers from Members of the Oireachtas. It needs to be said that the general attitude of Members of the Oireachtas towards the travelling community has improved considerably. Their vocabulary has improved, their insight into many of the demands of the travelling community has improved though action has not necessarily followed that improvement.

The facts are that the only way to look at legislation like this and to see where it should apply is to look through the eyes of the potential victims of incitement to hatred. For most people in Ireland the travellers are visible, different, a threat, [1001] and are clearly identified as a different group. It is an unfortunate fact that many people believe that all travellers need to be kept out of various facilities. They suffer that on a continuous basis. That is a matter for a different and very necessary kind of legislation to do with discrimination in general. To suggest that we can somehow deal with this sort of legislation on incitement to hatred and ignore the experience of our own cultural or racial minority is close to nonsense.

It is a regrettable fact that many people still cannot get used to using the description of the travelling community that they choose to use themelves. They call themselves “the travellers.” They do not like being called “intinerants” though many people seem to feel obliged so to describe them. They are not intinerants. They call themselves “the travelling community.” If that is what they call themselves the least we can do to support their dignity is to give them the name that they choose for themselves.

They are an isolated community, an excluded community, a marginalised community, a community with very few rights. They are a community which have been told by us — the settled community — for generations that they were simply the left-overs. It has taken them until now to begin to discover that they have an identity, a language, a proud history. They are moving now to a position where they no longer believe they are under any obligation to apologise for themselves or to tolerate being dealt with as a problem. I had to write a very strong letter reprimanding an official of a local authority who described the whole of the travelling community as the “problem” of members of the travelling community as if the travellers were only to be dealt with as a problem. They are not a problem: they are a people, a people with rights, a people with feelings and a people who can hear and increasingly can read some of the appalling drivel that is written about them and spoken about them.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is the Senator going into a Second Stage speech?

[1002]Mr. B. Ryan:  I did not get an opportunity to make a Second Stage speech.

An Cathaoirleach:  I hope the Senator is not going to make it now. That is what I thought he was doing.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I am talking entirely about a group who I believe ought to be referred to in this legislation. I have not talked about anything else in the Bill except that group. I have not talked about the principle of the Bill other than that it applies to that group.

An Cathaoirleach:  We are on the Committee Stage and amendments to that part of the Bill. I do not know where the Senator is.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I am giving the reasons why the travelling community not just deserve but are entitled to be covered by this legislation. If the intensity of my argument has given a different impression——

An Cathaoirleach:  I felt I should tell the Senator where I think he is going or what he is at.

Mr. B. Ryan:  It is very rarely that I would take issue with you——

An Cathaoirleach:  The Senator is doing it now.

Mr. B. Ryan:  Given the Chair's concern for me, can I reassure the Cathaoirleach that I knew exactly where I was? I was not in the least losing my way. There is no danger that the unintentional interruption will dislodge me from where I wanted to go. I will stop, a Chathaoirligh, if you tell me to stop. I always obey the Chair. We are all civilised people. I believe, in terms of the intent of this Bill and in terms in particular of the interesting elaborations on the phrase “ethnic origins” that the Minister gave us when we were discussing amendment No. 2 in my name earlier that the travelling community ought to be covered by this legislation if it is to apply in the way [1003] that it has begun to be applied in other countries.

In this regard the question might then arise as to why they should be named. We should name them because, first, they have asked to be named. I have had representations from both the Dublin Travellers' Education Workshop and the National Council of Travelling People and they are both quite flabbergasted that legislation that they dreamed and imagined would refer particularly to them is not going to mention them at all, legislation that they saw as civilising Irish society. The perspective of the travelling community is that they are the victims of an uncivilised society which says the most outrageous things about them, which does the most outrageous things to them but which is, apparently, not able to regulate itself to prevent that being said or done. It is a classic history of a cultural minority, a convenient scapegoat, an easy excuse and an easy target for a good headline. It would have been a fine and noble thing for the Minister to say from the beginning that it was his intention — and if we could get the Minister's intent clear we could argue about the wording of the Bill——

An Cathaoirleach:  If the Senator would let him in he might know what he is thinking because the Senator has been talking for 20 minutes and I am sure the Minister would love to tell him what he feels about all he has said.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I have never tried to stop a Minister from getting in on any debate.

An Cathaoirleach:  You are doing pretty well at it, now.

Mr. B. Ryan:  May I explain myself? I have every intention of letting the Minister in but I have no intention of finishing until I have finished, unless you tell me to finish, a Chathaoirligh, in which case I shall.

An Cathaoirleach:  I can say that it seems to me you are making a Second [1004] Stage speech and, in fairness, it might help you, me and the House if you allowed the Minister in at this point. He has listened with great care to everything you have said. Maybe you would sit down and let him say something and he might help you enormously.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I have been looking at him and he looks as if he is listening with considerable interest and with not the least bit of irritation.

An Cathaoirleach:  Do not push him.

Mr. B. Ryan:  We have nothing against Limerick men. With all due respects to your gentle guidance, a Chathaoirligh, the basis for picking out a specific group in our society and naming them in this legislation deserves elaboration. However, I am satisfied that my two colleagues here and Senator Fennell have also elaborated on this.

An Cathaoirleach:  And Senator Bulbulia.

Mr. B. Ryan:  Senator Bulbulia was here; therefore I heard what she had to say. I am not used to being interrupted by the Chair and I have to give some credence to the fact that I must be, if not irritating the Minister, manifestly irritating you, a Chathaoirligh, and therefore in my own interest I had better conclude. I am intrigued as to whom I should appeal to when I am being interrupted by the Chair. I cannot appeal to the Minister——

An Cathaoirleach:  I do not interrupt; I only intervene and give you guidance and there is a difference.

Mr. B. Ryan:  At the risk of appearing flippant — which I am not usually — it is in a funny sort of guidance that ends up with one being more confused after it than one was before. I am somewhat confused because I believe that perhaps this issue could have been dealt with at great length on Second Stage. There is a minority in our society. It sees itself as a [1005] minority, it experiences all the experiences of a discriminated-against minority. Members have felt that they were the victims of racial hatred. They have suffered because of their identifiable differences and they have particularly expected that legislation such as this would apply in our society to vindicate their rights, and because they had expected that legislation such as this would vindicate their rights they are most disappointed. They are particularly disappointed because they have not had the opportunity to make their case to Members of the Oireachtas before this legislation is passed.

Mr. Collins:  First, I would like to thank Members for their contributions. That does not necessarily mean that I agree with everything that was said. Nevertheless I found the speeches extremely interesting and I recognise the sincerity with which they were made.

All the amendments which were the basis for this discussion seek to add specific references to the travelling community and “sexual orientation” to the cetegories covered in the definitions of hatred in sections 2, 3 and 4. As I indicated in my reply to the Second Stage debate I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not condone the use of abusive or insulting words or behaviour or the incitement of hatred directed against any particular section of the community, especially when that section appears to be in a disadvantaged or vulnerable position.

At this stage I will mention the document which Senator Norris brought to our attention, which he received by post presumably in the recent past, a document which has been very aptly described by Senator Brendan Ryan as a lurid document. This document was also referred to by Senator Robb. I, too, condemn that document and those who are responsible for it in the strongest possible fashion. Senator Norris may not understand this but I, too, at times, perhaps too often, am the recipient of such documents because of the particular Ministry I hold. The [1006] Senator can take my word for it and I know exactly how he feels. I hope that document we are now talking about was referred to the Garda Síochána because I am satisfied that there are plenty of headings in the criminal law under which that document and the person who signed that document can be dealt with. If, as the Senator said, efforts were made to burn down a building or that there was incitement to violence, there are headings under which these people can be dealt with under the criminal law. I am mentally side-tracking myself because I am thinking about what was in a document which I got yesterday. It was not very pleasant and was meant to cause serious problems for me. Unfortunately, mine was not signed but it was very close to the bone.

In my Second Stage speech I referred to the various international human rights instruments which provide the background to the Bill now before this House. This Bill was prepared in the light of the recommendations of an interdepartmental committee which was established to identify the legislative changes necessary to enable this country to ratify the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. What we have before us today is a Bill which gives effect to only one of the recommendations of that committee. In other words — and I would like to stress this point — this Bill is aimed at removing one of the obstacles in the way of ratifying the covenant on civil and political rights. The covenant provision in question refers only to national, racial or religious hatred. In the Bill, this has been broadened to cover also the corresponding provision in the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination which refers to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin. The category of person now covered by the definition of hatred in sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Bill is, accordingly, very wide. It covers race, colour, nationality, religion, or ethnic or national origins. If we go beyond this list we will open up a debate which could well delay the enactment of this Bill, with consequent delay in the ratification of the covenant.

[1007] Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

An Cathaoirleach:  Under an order of the House made on 4 November, 1987 the overall time limit for this debate is one and a half hours. Therefore, Senator Ferris, who is proposing the motion, has 20 minutes, with 10 minutes to reply. Each Senator who will make a contribution will also have ten minutes.

Mr. Ferris:  I move:

“That Seanad Éireann takes note of the pre-Budget submission to the Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas from the Conference of Major Religious Superiors and also the report on Combat Poverty from the Combat Poverty Agency and calls on the Government to take appropriate steps in the upcoming Budget to address these serious issues.”

This motion specifically calls on the Minister, as the Government representative with responsibility in the area of social welfare, to take the appropriate steps in the upcoming budget to address the serious issues which have been addressed by these two outside agencies. They feel justified in making the statements they have made and, indeed, have prepared a magnificent set of documents which they have researched independently, and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. I take this opportunity to thank both groups of people, the Major Religious Superiors and the Combat Poverty Agency, for bringing to our mind, in a very clear way, the whole concept of poverty and the poverty trap as it applies to the citizens we represent and indicating the responsibility that we as legislators have in ensuring that their submissions are taken seriously and that on budget day some tangible evidence of the Government's commitment to addressing these problems is forthcoming.

[1008] I realise that the Minister will tell me he has already addressed some of the problems which have been outlined by these two bodies. On the day of the publication of one of the submissions the Minister announced steps to take account of the curse of moneylenders. It is true also that in last year's budget he went some way towards addressing the problem of the poorer sections in the social welfare code.

The document submitted by the Conference of Major Religious Superiors states that more than 1.2 million people live in serious poverty in Ireland today. This is more than at any time in the last 20 years and the numbers in poverty are growing. The gap between them and the better off is widening and we are producing a deeply divided two-tier society of “haves” and “have nots”. This comes from an organisation with a predominant religious overview of the problems. Missionaries in my constituency in South Tipperary — particularly relevant to Carrick-on-Suir — have been prompted to make public statements from the pulpit, indicating the necessity for Government, Oireachtas Members, office holders and all of us to address the problems in individual areas as they have come across them. My colleague, Deputy Mervyn Taylor, has put down a Private Members' motion in the other House, specifically identifying Tallaght as a problem area where, unless the problems are addressed urgently by Government, they could get totally out of hand and the whole structure of society would break down.

The submission states:

Yet this need need not be so because Ireland is the twenty-seventh richest country in a world of more than 160 countries. The numbers living in poverty grow and the rich-poor divide widens because of the way we organise our resources. Government policies have obviously failed to reduce poverty. They have failed on their own terms and they have failed on Christian terms. The debt/GNP ratio has fallen even faster than planned; we have low inflation, increased real output and a [1009] surplus balance of payments. Yet these developments have not produced additional jobs and they have made absolutely no impact on poverty. In Christian terms Government policies can be judged on the Gospel guideline that “By their fruit you shall know them”. What has been their fruit? Increasing poverty and a growing rich-poor divide. On these terms too the Government fails. The situation could be different and action should be taken to make it different. Policies to tackle poverty should be given top priority in the 1989 Budget. Not to do this would be immoral given the present reality of poverty in our country.

These are extremely strong words. If they were written by a political party one could understand that there would be a bias in them, particularly if it was a political party in Opposition. The Government must take this absolutely seriously, as we do, as a small political party group in this House. It is a question of the priorities that need to be addressed. We can listen every day to news of the turning around of the economy but we must consider whether we are turning around the emigrant ships, whether the 30,000 people who leave our country every year mean anything to us, whether the 250,000 people without work is of any concern to us and how the people at the lowest level of unemployment assistance or supplementary welfare assistance are expected to survive when the figures produced by both these agencies would indicate that what we are giving them from social welfare, which most of us would consider their right, puts them into this poverty trap which all of us are concerned about.

We chose this resolution at this appropriate time because it is one of the last opportunities that we in the Labour group within the Seanad will have of coaxing the Minister to take serious action in the 1989 budget. I was pleased to hear him confirming recently that he intends to do this. I do not expect to be given the privilege of the disclosure of any budget provisions that might or might [1010] not be part of the Government's efforts to bring the country with them but we are concerned that the specific areas which have been identified should be addressed in no uncertain terms.

The submission also states that in terms of taxation we are far from being the most taxed nation in Europe. That is an interesting statement because every day we hear people talking about changing the tax system, rationalising the tax system, reducing the tax burden and all the other clichés that come from every party in this House. We have been consistently saying in the Labour Party that the whole structure of tax and the whole tax net should be widened so that the people who are overtaxed would feel that other sections were making a fair effort at contributing into the overall take from the State in the area of taxation. We should not allow ourselves to feel that we are all paying too much. We do have a social conscience and a social responsibility to those who are unable to have the privilege of paying tax. These are the people in receipt of unemployment assistance and supplementary welfare benefits.

That immediately raises the problem which has been identified by the Labour Party Leader, Deputy Dick Spring, and by the Labour Party spokesman on social welfare, Deputy Michael Bell, arising from some of the gestures that are made to help people, particularly over the winter period. They have referred to the strictures written into the free fuel scheme, particularly now that it has become a national scheme, not operated by health boards as in the past. For instance, a family whose only breadwinner is on unemployment assistance have been denied access to the scheme because one of their children is over 18 years. The fact that the child was in fulltime education would have meant that the family would have qualified for help in any other year, but not this year because that child is considered to be an adult. In the case of an old age pensioner and a child of that pensioner living at home to look after him or her and drawing unemployment assistance, one disqualifies the other. Somebody must keep [1011] the home fires burning. If they were on their own in two separate houses they would qualify, but because they live together to sustain one another in these difficult times, they disqualify one another.

We have also addressed the problem of money lending and the trap that people fall into with moneylenders. Their opportunity to stay away from that scourge in our society has been made more and more difficult because of the limited incomes available to them. We know what means testing is at the level of unemployment assistance. It is so strict that the continuing harassment of people almost makes them feel guilty about applying for what is, in fact, their right. Nobody from my party has ever defended the breaking of laws or regulations in connection with entitlements to social welfare, but it is becoming so difficult to apply and qualify that people are now refraining from applying and are emigrating instead. That is an indictment of all of us. When we bring in schemes with the intention of helping people we should ensure that the regulations are not so discriminatory that they actually preclude quite a lot of people from qualifying. We are talking in terms of free fuel valued at about £5 a week between now and sometime in the spring which would alleviate some of the difficulties these people are faced with.

Even in the last budget the whole question of the single woman's allowance was ignored by this Government. This is a group of people who have an extremely limited income. They remained at home to look after their parents all their lives and never had the privilege of working or paying contributions that might qualify them for anything. A scheme was brought in but to qualify for it they would literally have to be standing out in the streets with practically nothing on them, with no roof over their heads. It was left untouched in the last budget without any improvement. It is almost impossible for those kinds of people to survive.

It does not give us any pleasure to point out these things but they have been [1012] pointed out by people who we feel are qualified to address these problems. They are asking us in relation to the oncoming budget to have regard to the amount of money that is considered by all the experts as necessary to bring people above the poverty line. These amounts are identified in the submission from the religious superiors in relation to social welfare. It would mean that payments would be substantially increased in line with the recommendations of the Commission on Social Welfare to give a single person £60 per week and a couple £96 per week.

In terms of education, it would mean acknowledging that the present education system benefits the better off. It would mean putting substantial resources into education that benefits the poor, into developing alternatives and into adult and community education. In health care, it would mean acknowledging that the poor have borne the brunt of all the cuts in this sector in the past two years. In turn, this would mean that resources would now be targeted specifically to discriminate positively in favour of the poor, community care and primary health care. The rights of those in the category of PRSI contributors were removed from them by legislation which insisted that they should make contributions towards health care and health services by £10 on admission to hospital and £10 a day for the first seven days, together with all the other difficulties that they have to overcome. These are people who are contributing.

The Combat Poverty Agency have produced an excellent document which is highly statistical but very valid. Their key findings indicate the number of people whom they consider to be very poor. That number of people depends on how one defines poverty. It is very easy for the privileged of the Houses of the Oireachtas to indicate the levels of poverty, but if we are to consider at all seriously the report from the Combat Poverty Agency we must bear in mind that they were extremely careful about how they approached this problem, how the survey was carried out and how they [1013] got their data, the number of people that they interviewed and the households they interviewed. That revealed a range and depth of financial poverty that is alarming in a society that has long claimed to be concerned about inequalitities. Surely these reports would not be published by these two agencies before the budget if the Minister, as he has occasionally said, had addressed this problem last year as a beginning. We will only be satisfied in the Labour Party if there is some tangible evidence of a positive response in these areas at the lowest levels of the social welfare code. Unless these are addressed urgently, then we will feel that the Minister has ignored both these organisations.

The Combat Poverty Agency go on to define who are the poor and they immediately identify households headed by the unemployed, families with several children and indeed farming households. They stand out as the three main groups. In spite of the words of the Minister for Agriculture and Food there are poor family farms trying to survive in rural Ireland that have not been assisted by the Common Agriculture Policy or by the disadvantaged area schemes or in any other way. It is because of that that we can group everybody together in a situation which fits neatly into the areas which we represent.

In the conclusion to their submission the Combat Poverty Agency say that turning to the performance of the social welfare system in dealing with poverty, they found evidence of significant gaps in the safety net which the system seeks to provide. About 10 per cent of persons had incomes below the supplementary welfare assistance standards. We all know that supplementary welfare is a discretionary thing. It depends on the humour of the supplementary welfare officer on any given day. With the lack of privilege, the lack of confidence and the lack of confidentiality in the areas where supplementary welfare officers work, the whole country knows if you are in difficulty. You are berated by questions of a very personal nature with no realisation that only those on the bread-line and below go to that length to [1014] get money in serious circumstances. We should be conscious of that.

That is what this resolution is about. It is requesting this House to note these two reports, on which I compliment the agencies, but it also asks the Minister specifically to do something about these problems before we have serious social issues, if we do not already have them in Tallaght, Carrick-on-Suir and other areas. The issue is very serious and we need a positive response from the Minister that he will address the problems.

Mr. Harte:  I second the motion. I am sure the Minister and the Government are not unaware of the extent of the problem. It would be unfair to suggest that nothing has been done in trying to tackle the question of poverty. I must confess to having a bit of a hang-up about this question of poverty and the fact that it is not something new. It has been in existence for a long time. As long as you have a private enterprise system, you will always have poverty. That is a reality.

The one thing I would say about the various schemes is that the poor seem to be always excluded from the main decision-making processes in society. For example, the Dublin city draft development plan was the most important proposal for some of its poorest and unorganised communities, yet none of them saw the plan. I doubt very much if many of them were consulted. This is a very poor substitute for going out to communities and drawing up a plan with local community participation. It is possible for these unorganised people to view and comment upon the plan. They have the right to oppose the already made plans of administration. For example, I speak now in the area of the controversy over the Clanbrassil-New Street road plans. That revealed the structural faults of the whole planning process when it comes to the question of the poor, to the extent that the rights and wrongs of a local issue are never given sufficient consideration. The people are never consulted in the way they should be consulted and they are always told about the thing after the event.

[1015] The Council of Ministers in December, 1984 established the poor as persons, families and groups of persons whose resources, material, cultural and social, are so limited as to exclude them from the minimum acceptable way of life in the member states in which they live. They then went on to point out some facts on poverty in the Republic of Ireland and emphasised two recent conferences on poverty where it was stated that the top fifth of income earners in Ireland use about twice the amount of State expenditure on education in relation to the overall population. In taxation the pattern transfer is regressive. For example, taxes on profits and property have dropped to 7 per cent as a proportion of all tax. That was stated in 1984. I would suggest that it has regressed a little bit further still and created a greater imbalance.

Some effort has been made on the question of mortgages. In the case of people with large houses and large mortgages, the benefits are loaded in their favour. The people who cannot get jobs are the people in the highest risk areas and they are the lower socio-economic groups. Arguments have been going on for years about the redistribution of wealth, but we still have the problem. For example, in wealth the share of direct income going to the top 10 per cent of the population amounts to about 35 per cent, perhaps more. The share of income going to the lowest 30 per cent amounts to about 3½ per cent to 4 per cent or maybe even less. I have not got the up-to-date figures.

No matter what way we study the situation or how long we study it and no matter how determined we are about tackling poverty, we do not seem to be able to come to terms with the problem in Tallaght where we have an unemployment rate of about 90 per cent. We do not seem to be able to come to terms with the other area that Senator Ferris mentioned in his own constituency. Overall we have about 20 per cent of the people out of work and the lack of effort with regard to the creation of jobs is [1016] showing up very much. The number of welfare recipients, based on the number of households, is increasing to well over two-fifths. About one-fifth of all households are relying on social welfare payments. A very small minority of social welfare recipients have another source of income.

The inequality in society between the rich and poor has always been a topic that has been addressed time and time again, yet we never seem to come to a point where we can say that the situation is now in hand. I have mentioned this before in this House and I make no apologies for mentioning it again. In the period between 1960 and 1970 profits were the best ever and wage increases and the salaries were best in that decade, bu there was not one extra person at work. I suggest that that affluent period has had a harmful effect, a follow-on effect, right up to the present day. It has been a contributor to the problem of low income and long-term unemployment. It has been a contributory factor in our failure to pull out a new deal for the elderly. We have got round certainly to a lot of things.

Everyone seems to make the assumption that free enterprise will automatically result in a significant improvement for all of us. They say that the incomes of the poorest will be pulled up by economic growth and rising standards of living. This is a problematic thing and I would have to hear a lot of arguments before I would be convinced that this is a fact. I doubt very much if the private enterprise system can do that.

There is no evidence that economic growth benefits everyone equally. The reform of the social welfare system must be carried out and I welcome the Minister's efforts in this respect, and with regard to moneylenders. I know the man is on top of his job. My argument is not with him but with the system. Quite frankly, I do not think the system is geared to bringing about real equality.

We talk about the reform of the taxation system but, I doubt very much if we will ever get to the point of redistributing wealth. Let us not cod ourselves; there is [1017] no link between economic growth and all the people doing well. In fact it is the other way round. Economic growth seems to create two levels of society and that is exactly what we have and what we are going to be stuck with.

As long as we want to adhere to a private enterprise system, and that seems to be the way the Irish want it, we had better recognise that we will always be talking about improving the social welfare system. We will not be creating enough work for everybody. Let us stop codding ourselves and face up to the fact that we are adopting a stop-gap approach all the time. We are trying to patch up problems as they arise, which are created by the very nature of the society we live in.

Mr. Farrell:  I would like to pay tribute to the Conference of Major Religious Superiors and to the Combat Poverty Agency on producing two nice booklets but I cannot agree with all that is said in them. While no one disagrees that there is poverty, we will all agree that there is no comparison between poverty today and poverty 30 years ago.

Mr. Harte:  It is all relative.

Mr. Farrell:  No Government have done more than Fianna Fáil over the years to eradicate poverty. We have never had a better Minister to look after the poor in our society than Dr. Michael Woods. Everyone will agree with that. He has put great effort into resolving a very difficult problem. In a time of grave financial constraints he has extended the scope of the fuel scheme and made it a national scheme. By doing this, he has given people an opportunity to use the money to buy whichever type of fuel they like, and that is a major step forward. He has increased social welfare payments by up to 11 per cent to the long term unemployed, which is a very major step for those people. He has tackled social welfare fraud, which was one very big problem. This was taking a lot of money from those who should be getting it and giving it to those who were not entitled to it. In [1018] that regard he has done wonderful work and he deserves all our praise and congratulations.

We should try to define poverty. Everyone seems to think that poverty is a lack of money. There are many people with lots of money who have not got the heart to spend it. They are living in terrible conditions and are lonesome. Money would not improve the lot of these people. This is a very serious type of poverty which we need to do something about.

I am convinced that much of the poverty in our society today is self-imposed to a large extent because proper use is not being made of the money we are giving to people. A high percentage of the money given in social welfare payments is spent on drugs and alcohol. This money was given to people to live on. There is no mention in the booklets as to how we would come to grips with the waste of financial assistance given to poor people.

Where are the moneylenders operating to the greatest extent? It is in housing estates. Why are they operating in housing estates? It is because they know they can get the social welfare money from the people. Unfortunately, many poor people today are easy prey; to use an American cliche, taking money from them is like taking candy from a kid. They are poor, but it is self-imposed poverty. They are not making the best use of the money they are getting in many cases. If that money was used for food and clothes there would be no such thing as drugs or drink in areas where there is a high dependence on social welfare.

There is no denying there is poverty but we are not takling the problem of making the best use of what is given. It is time we did something about hire purchase. Many poor people are caught in a hire purchase trap and do not know what they will end up paying back. It is almost as bad as the moneylending trap. The legislation should be tightened in this area. People should not be able to get two or three televisions, stereos et cetera on hire purchase too easily. They are easy prey. They want to have things because [1019] someone else has them and they are caught on that hook. We have to come to grips with this. I am fully convinced that we will never eliminate poverty until we get back to basic economics and get people to understand how to make the best use of money.

Listening to the radio the other day, I heard one woman say that they were getting along nicely on £140 per week; another woman with £120 per week could not live on it. There is a great need to combat the abuse of alcohol, drugs and hire purchase. These are three major drains on social welfare payments and the money is not being used as was intended.

I congratulate the Minister on his very positive efforts to come to grips with the moneylenders. They are putting the social welfare money in their pockets and are making big profits. It is a great step forward that the Minister is putting money aside to guarantee loans for people so that they can be helped to get money through the local bank or credit union at a normal, reasonable rate of interest. This will save a lot of money. I sincerely hope that everybody dealing with poverty will help the Minister to put an end to creaming-off of money from people who need it most. They are making the moneylenders wealthier.

The Government have done a lot to improve matters. We can talk about providing all the social welfare we need but we really must try to get people back to work. I have always maintained that when people are working they have a different mentality and outlook. They meet at lunch time and talk about what they are doing with their homes, for example some one may have got in double glazing but when they are on the dole they are demoralised by doing nothing and they go down to the pub.

Our training programmes are a great incentive because they train people to get back into work again. The FÁS training programmes are wonderful, and also the social employment schemes have done a great job. This has got people out working again. They work alternate weeks and may work for somebody else the other [1020] week and thus make more money. Another great scheme this Government have introduced to help the unemployed is where one can work two days a week and draw social welfare for the remaining three days. This is another great thing. The last Government introduced the social employment scheme and I congratulated them when it came in first. I think it is a great scheme. It has done great work, which I do not deny. I am very pleased with it and I hope it will be continued.

All schemes, both training and social employment schemes have done great work, but unfortunately those people who write those reports do not seem to have given credit to the Government for doing anything. The Government have always done their best and try to do what they can to alleviate poverty and suffering from our society. I would hope that all those people would play their part to help us to nip the problems in the bud. Nobody has tried to come to grips with our two biggest problems: moneylenders and the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  I have no difficulty in accepting the motion before the House provided the Senators accept that we exclude from it the political statements which are in this document, “Who Benefits Who Pays”. As Senator Ferris rightly pointed out, there are some very strong political arguments against the Government on page 12, saying that Government strategy has failed and is wrongly directed. Neither of these assertions is right. The Programme for National Recovery, the programme with the national partners, stresses publicly the aims for job creation and the maintenance of social welfare together with the improvement of social welfare payments as resources are made available. These are set out in that report. This is public knowledge and yet we read in these reports that they are not mentioned at all by the Government.

If the Senators accept that I cannot accept these kind of statements, but can accept the facts in these reports, then I have no difficulty with the motion. The [1021] booklet “Who Benefits Who Pays” and the Combat Poverty booklet are actually basically about the ESRI report which was commissioned by the Department of Social Welfare and then passed over to the Combat Poverty Agency — when it was set up as being the appropriate agency to handle it thereafter. They published the report and presented it to me as Minister.

The first part of that report gives the agency's views but the second half has the basic data that we should focus on. This data is valuable if you want to try to find out where the real proverty is and where the poverty traps are and all the rest. That is particularly valuable and I will deal with it in a minute.

Today another report was published which should be taken in conjunction with them, and I bring this to the attention of Senator Ferris. This is the NESC report that covers the cash side. The other thing I would mention is that NESC report only comes up to the early eighties but it does show some very valuable trends. This ESRI report is only a preliminary report which deals with the cash side of social welfare and poverty in our society. It does not take in the non-cash side. That report covers the period up to the early eighties, but the second part of the ESRI report does that and will be out early in the New Year, so the two reports taken together give the complete picture.

Mr. Ferris:  Will the budget respond?

Dr. Woods:  In any event I know most of these points without any of the reports. I am sure the Senator does too, and so does anybody else who is very much involved with this problem, but having reports to pinpoint and target things is very valuable, especially when they are not tying in people's value judgments, because we could all do that. We could all stand up and say in a heated or a very emotional way what we feel, but it is very good for all of us to have someone like the ESRI who will come along and do a specific piece of research which pinpoints certain things very clearly. I know this would have been very valuable to the [1022] previous Government. It is also valuable to this Government.

This NESC report came out today and one of the conclusions in that study shows that family households, households with children, have benefited significantly less than other households from the pattern of the redistribution in the policies reviewed. The trend with the changes in taxation policies and the changes in social welfare policies and all the rest were not supporting families, and this even shows up in that NESC report. As I have said this report also highlights the fact that the ERSI will be addressing the issue of non-cash payments in their next report on poverty which is expected to be published early in the New Year. Valid policy conclusions must be based on an understanding of the combined effect of cash and non-cash State expenditure on household incomes and set in the context of overall and social development especially of employment and unemployment.

Senator Ferris raised quite a number of points. I will mention a couple. He mentioned the single woman's allowance, which benefited from the 11 per cent increase. Whatever about conditions of receipt, which are still the same as he said, we brought it up to the long term unemployment assistance rate, so the 11 per cent increase was applied, bringing it up to £42. He also mentioned moneylenders. I asked for the report on moneylenders last January and the basic research and information in it is very valuable. Apart from all that is said about incomes which is already dealt with in the Commission's study — the Commission has made all that fairly clear — what is happening and why it is happening is particularly valuable and is very useful for finding solutions which is what I am interested in. It shows that people do not have options.

One of the recommendations, apart from the legislation which the Government has already accepted and is going to take action on, is the question of the guarantee fund. This is very interesting. I have set up such a fund already.

The credit unions have indicated that [1023] they will co-operate with us and the banks have indicated that they are very sympathetic and we would hope to have their final views on it next week. We hope to be able to tackle individual cases and do a good deal of work in that area. It is a very valuable report and I have already given a lot of attention to it.

The Senator mentioned the rates of £60 and the £36 with a payment of £18 per child in addition to that. On that basis a family with three children would be getting, if we took account of the Commission's findings at the moment, some £150 per week. This is £150 plus various allowances, whether it is fuel or whatever else. Now the average industrial wage, as distinct from just the average wage, which would be lower, of around £220, net of tax and PRSI works out at £162 take-home. The problem we have is that the amount of money available at any time can only come principally from the people who are the main tax and PRSI contributors, because they are the largest sector.

You may argue that there are other people who should be brought into the net, and you have to agree that the Government have been taking action in that area with a lot of success in broadening and bringing more people into the net. Nevertheless, the impact of that on the total figures can be small, because it is the large numbers who make the big continuous contributions to Government resources. The closeness between the average industrial wage and what you will be paying under that rate will cause a difficulty. We have taken a very significant step along that road this year. It would be our intention to continue to maintain the position of those on social welfare and to improve it in so far as this is possible within the resources available, which will be known after the end of the year, as far as we can along the lines we have taken so far.

In relation to the CMRS report, I have to point out that in company with the social partners the Government have drawn up a Programme for National Recovery which specifies in relation to [1024] those on social welfare that the Government will maintain the overall value of social welfare payments and direct any extra resources available to those receiving the lowest payments. We have lived up to this commitment and indeed, we have exceeded it. The issues raised this evening by Senators are addressed in the recent ESRI report on poverty and the social welfare system. The main value of that report is that it highlights those who are most at risk from poverty and how their position has changed over time. The principal value of that report is that no matter how you set the model to look at the position, it is how people's position has changed over the time that is the fact important element apart from the fact that the overall levels are recognised under the commission's report. It pinpoints the groups at highest risk. The groups at highest risk are large families; families where the head of the household is either unemployed or on low wages; single parent families; families where the head of the household is sick or disabled; and low income farming families. It pinpoints the people who are coming off worst in all the developments that have taken place in recent times.

I have to point out that those figures were done at the end of 1986 and the beginning of 1987 so they are before the special payment increases that we gave this year, which applies from July on. They have to some extent redressed that situation and they are a step along the road which is proposed by the Commission on Social Welfare.

The Conference of Major Religious Superiors are concerned about the poverty traps which can affect those identified as being most at risk of poverty and marginalisation — the unemployed, those with children, lone parents and those on low wages and households where the breadwinner is sick or disabled and unable to provide for his family. These concerns are shared by many organisations who are involved with those people dependent on social welfare. I see and hear their problems daily. Only this week I met a number of voluntary organisations working in the social [1025] services area in a pre-budget forum. It is the first time we had this but we had a whole day debate with the principal bodies who are involved in this area, including those representing the elderly, the single parents, the unemployed, the voluntary organisations for the handicapped, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and a number of others who make pre-budget submissions. The submissions were made and were considered in this whole day forum and one of the things that emerged very clearly in that was that the widowers' association are a group who feel particularly left out because there is nothing for them in the arrangements which exist in this country up to this time. The only thing they can get is supplementary welfare, or if they say they are unemployed and if social welfare can turn a blind eye then they can look after a bad situation in that way. They had their view to put forward and it was much appreciated by those who attended.

Again and again the same concerns came up. It is useful to look at these issues against the Government's overall objectives in the social welfare area as set out in the Programme for National Recovery. A comparison of the findings of recent reports and submissions made to me and the progress we are making in relation to the achievement of the objectives in the Programme for National Recovery shows that we are moving in the right direction. Of course, I can understand the anxiety of those relying on social welfare payments for quicker movement towards the attainment of these objectives. I would love to have the resources at my disposal to meet all my objectives, but the reality is that we have to do the best we can in what is still a difficult financial environment. There is no doubt that one of the greatest concerns is the level of social welfare payments, particulary to those who are long-term unemployed and those with children.

Every report and submission I have received has raised this issue. We, in Government, have already taken this issue on board. We are already committed to maintaining the value of social [1026] welfare payments and we have promised to give special consideration to those receiving the lowest payments. Very significant increases in the lowest rates of payment were granted from last July. A special increase of 3 per cent in personal adult dependant rates of social welfare payments was given and this will more than maintain the overall value of social welfare benefits up to mid-1989. In addition the personal rates of unemployment assistance and supplementary welfare allowance, which are the lowest weekly payments, were increased by the significantly higher figure of 11 per cent. I have also streamlined child dependant rates with a 3 per cent increase in rates generally and a 6 per cent increase for the child dependants of those on the lowest payments. This measure represents a significant improvement in income support for families, particularly in the case of large families. In addition I extended the free fuel allowance to 30,000 long-term unemployed from October 1987.

The Conference of Major Religious Superiors are right when they say that unemployment payments were never intended as a permanent source of income for an individual. Nevertheless, the Government have accepted that unfortunately many people find themselves relying on these payments for long periods. In recognition of this, we have made every effort to improve the level of those payments. For example, a family with three children in receipt of long-term unemployment assistance received an increase of £6.70 per week giving a total payment of £98.80 per week. A widow with three children is getting £93.30 and a couple on retirement or old age pension now get £99.10 per week. This cost £45 million this year and £101 million in a full year. The 3 per cent general increase cost £67 million and the improvements for those on the lowest payments cost £30 million.

Senators will be aware that today I began the payout of the Christmas bonus to all pensioners and long-term unemployed, at a cost of £21 million. This is over and above the £101 million which I have already described. Today's payment [1027] of the Christmas bonus began to the unemployed, and the elderly. Pensioners and widows pensions will come next week. An unemployed man with a wife and three children receives £64 extra this week bringing his total to £163. An old age pension couple receive over £64 bringing their total to £163.60. Compare this with Great Britain and all the resources they have, where an old age pension couple get an extra £10 sterling and the unemployed get nothing. Here in this State some 921,000 people will benefit from our bonuses over this week and next week.

It has been acknowledged by various groups and agencies that the increases provided this year were more than had been expected and that they represent a significant move in the right direction. The chairman of the Commission on Social Welfare recently stated that he was now more optimistic for future developments than he had been when the report of the commission was first published. We have extended the PRSI to cover the self-employed. This has had two benefits: it has improved the equity of the system and it has brought more money into our funds, and it has also created a situation where 70 per cent of the self-employed people up to this have previously ended up falling back on means-tested assistance in their old age. We have put that right and for the future this extension will provide for old age pensions in that area.

I do not want to take up too much time in case there are other Senators who wish to contribute, but in relation to the family income supplement I have had a study done on that. I believe it is a very important instrument and we hope to have a report on that ready in time for the budget. The report of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors points to a number of things which they welcome. One of these is the flexibility in the unemployment payment system which we have introduced — the part-time job incentive scheme which I am very glad to say is now fully operational. It is available nationally for the last 10 days to two weeks. There were administrative difficulties in getting [1028] it going. We had discussions with the unions and it is now available. I hope the educational opportunities scheme will be fully operational early in the New Year. We are extending it to a further ten locations nationally. We have repeated it in Tallaght and Limerick where it was very successful.

A variety of other schemes including the supplementary welfare allowance scheme were mentioned. We are examining the supplementary welfare allowance scheme at present. That examination will be concluded early in the New Year. We have rationalised a number of schemes and standardised schemes to ensure that the benefits go to those who need them in a more uniform way. We found a great deal of variation from health board to health board. The fuel scheme and the footwear scheme have been standardised. As a result quite a number of elderly people who did not claim previously have now come forward to claim the free fuel allowance.

As regards taxation, the Government have already taken a very significant step in extending PRSI to the self-employed from April of this year. That scheme is going very well at the moment. In addition, the Government introduced a set of measures to initiate reform of the corporation tax code. They increased the bank levy by £5 million to £30 million and imposed a once-off tax on pension fund investment income. In addition, through improved collection methods and the introduction of self-assessment we are tackling the problem of non-payment of tax by many in our society. The result of the recent tax amnesty shows the extent of evasion and late payment of tax and more than justifies the Government's approach.

It is clear from the information available that poverty and unemployment are related. Social welfare payments on their own are not the cause of poverty, rather the sharp rise in unemployment in the last ten years has contributed most to the creation of the problems facing us today. If we can create more jobs fewer people will rely on social welfare payments. We will have more income available to [1029] improve the position of those remaining on social welfare and thus eliminate poverty. It is for this reason that the Government has made the stabilising of the nation's finances and the creation of 20,000 new jobs in manufacturing their number one priority this year.

We are well on the way to achieving these goals. The Government have now turned their attention to a greater extent to measures to stimulate further employment. We have seen in recent times the announcement of a series of measures to stimulate a number of sectors of the economy including tourism, forestry, horticulture and agriculture. I assure Senators that now that the Government have the debt problem under control it must stay under control. I am sure Senators agree with that. It now gives the Government time to concentrate their efforts even further on the creation of jobs which is the number one priority. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the last 20 months, which were enormous in financial terms, the Government have maintained the position of those who depend on social welfare and have very significantly improved the position of those on long-term unemployment and supplementary welfare who are the ones identified as having the lowest incomes and the greatest difficulties in the current time. I thank Senators for their contributions.

Mr. Cregan:  I listened to the Minister's reply and the impression was given that extra money would go to those who need it most. When the first social welfare Bill was brought into this House by the Minister, recommendations were made to the effect that money should be given to those people who needed it most. We gave the example of couple getting £104 a week while their own daughter or son with three children were getting £96 a week. The Minister did not listen. I admit that the Minister's hands may be tied as regards getting extra money but listening to the reply, you would get the impression that we did not know what was happening. The position of people living on minimal amounts of money is not funny.

[1030] In the early seventies there were 66,000 people idle in the country. The impression is being given that the social employment scheme is creating something and that is not true. The social employment scheme is working in Cork but 340 full-time workers have been let go. We are giving the impression that more people are working but that is not true. That is not the way to work the social employment scheme.

The idea behind the social employment scheme was that a minimum amount of money would be given to a person every week and they could work elsewhere. Agreements were reached with unions and people in full-time employment were made redundant. They were paid redundancy money of between £15,000 to £17,000. A person was employed under the social employment scheme to do that person's job. How logical is that? Is it just to balance the books? The difference between a person drawing unemployment assistance and being on social welfare are defined. No one should agree with what is being done and that includes unions and management. In one authority alone 340 people were let go and people from the social employment scheme took over their work. We gave them £70 a week and they could do what they like the next week. They could work for whoever they liked. That is not how I thought the social employment scheme would work.

I was one of the people who pushed this scheme. It started in three areas and we increased it then to 12 areas. We made no apology for saying that a person should be allowed work for part of a week and draw the dole for the rest. This was done in an effort to ensure that a person did not sit by the fire watching videos every day, demented out of his mind and his family with him. That is what I call poverty. I do not like the idea of employing someone for three days and, as a result, making someone else redundant. If he is over 60 years of age he will not have to sign on at the employment exchange but will have his book sent out to him. He can work away and nobody knows. Fewer people are signing on at [1031] the exchange but money is still being paid out.

Let us spend the money correctly. Let us not create a situation where one person gets £104 a week and their son or daughter who has three children gets £96. I do not believe that is just but that is the way it works. An unemployed person receives £42 a week, big deal. The recommendation was that it should not be less than £55. Have we any idea of what it is like to be living on your own on £42 a week in a dive of a room and giving a landlord or legalised racketeer £20 to £25 a week for accommodation and then try to clothe and feed yourself? It is demoralising to say the least.

We should not give the impression that we are going to grasp something here because we are not going to grasp anything. We should all look at the “Today Tonight” programme for the next two nights and I am sure we will be embarrassed as legislators. Why should we not be embarrassed? We are telling people not to bother signing on any more because they are over 60 years of age and the money will be sent out to them but they will not be on the unemployment list. The number of unemployed people has dropped by 3,000 but what about the 800 people a week who are emigrating?

Two years ago we did not recognise the word “emigration” or talk about it Now it is a nice thing to say that one's son is in America. Now it is a nice thing to say: “I am unemployed”. I do not want anybody saying that we are creating a situation where a person earning £120 a week is let go to make room for a person earning £70 a week. That costs the State more money. Let us take the example of an unemployed person living in a local authority house and a person who is unemployed in the private sector. The person who does something for himself has to pay a mortgage. A person in a local authority house is recognised, and rightly so, while his brother could be unemployed and living in a private house across the road from him. The person in the local authority house has to pay very little rent because he cannot afford it and [1032] I agree with that. He can buy shoes for his children or whatever.

Senator Farrell gives the impression that there are people throughout the country who are drunk every day. I must be going blind or something. How stupid can we be? The person in the private house must live and his pride makes him do the best he can and pay for what he can. He will get the same amount of money but he must pay back his mortgage. Then we talk about the moneylenders and say that they must be got at. What about the legalised moneylenders, the banks? Are they angels? Are not the majority of financial institutions banks or agents of banks?

Dr. Woods:  The interest rates are——

Mr. Cregan:  The interest rates with the Bank of Ireland and the Bank of Ireland Finance are different, yet they are the same company with the same shareholders. We must be realistic. There are people with hire purchase agreements paying twice and three times the rate of interest to the same company because there is a different name over the door.

Dr. Woods:  That is not the purpose of the scheme.

Mr. Cregan:  The banks should be told to lend money at a normal and fair rate but will the banks do that?

Dr. Woods:  Do you not want me to ask them?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator must be allowed to speak.

Mr. Cregan:  The Minister said he met them. Did he ask them——

Dr. Woods:  We took it up with them as well as with the credit unions.

Mr. Cregan:  The credit unions came up with an idea and put it before the Department. I am very conscious of what happened in the Cork area with regard [1033] to credit unions. They are excellent institutions. Why does the Minister not give credit unions more room? He should take it from the banks and give it to the credit unions.

Dr. Woods:  We are doing it with the credit unions.

Mr. Cregan:  They all give so much money——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator must be allowed to continue his speech.

Mr. Cregan:  We are saying that we want to help people on the poverty line. Why does the Minister not say to the banks that the mortgage repayments on a private house which was bought when a person was employed should be reduced accordingly instead of taking houses from them. Why does the Department of Social Welfare not say to people who are in private houses and trying to pay mortgages that they will assist them? The Minister is assisting one person because he is in a local authority house and I have no objection to that but his brother could be living across the road repaying £50 a week and nobody is giving him assistance. Yet, if he has to hand back that house we must accommodate him at a cost of £35,000. Where is the logic in that? Those are the people we should be assisting so that they can care for their children.

Dr. Woods:  We do assist them.

Mr. Cregan:  Please explain how you assist them. Those people have to go on supplementary welfare benefit after going to the social welfare officer and after investigating their means but the other person does not have to be investigated at all. If the Minister has money to distribute he should distribute it at a fair rate. He should not give too much to one person and not enough to another with more children.

Mr. Fitzsimons:  I am not very enthusiastic about making a contribution to this debate. It is a very serious motion and it [1034] would take some considerable research to do justice to it. In addition, it would take some considerable time and we are limited to ten minutes. From my experience there is not much that can be said except to make broad statements in that length of time.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  There are only five minutes remaining. The Chair must call the Senator to conclude at 8.50 p.m. He has five minutes.

Mr. Fitzsimons:  That is even worse. I sympathise with the concern expressed in this motion because I was born into the lowest stratum of a rotten class structured society. Things have improved considerably since then but not as much as they should have. To that extent I am in total sympathy with this motion.

This is a very political document made by a religious group. I have no objection to that. But I look back on my youth and at the teaching of my Church and my belief in that more sympathy could have been shown then. For example, in the teachings of St. Paul we were told that the slave should be a good slave, not that slavery was morally wrong. That is unacceptable. It was a public relations exercise and we were conditioned to that. It is the same kind of exercise that conditions people to be patriotic. For example, I know people who did not own a half acre of land going out to die and fight for their country while people who owned the wealth of the land sat back. In many areas this still goes on and I would like to develop that but I am not able to do so within the time limit.

My preference, as I have always made clear, is for a pluralist society; in other words, a society where the rights of a minority are respected as much as the rights of the majority and where the laws are not motivated by any religious group and, further, where the individual is valued as a person and given whatever facilities are necessary for full development and to make a contribution to humanity and society.

This document and its conclusions should be developed further. One cannot [1035] conclude that on its own terms the strategy of the Government has failed and that it is creating a more deeply divided society. We always had that. I have never experienced anything else and that is unfortunate. This Government are doing more than any other Government and this Minister is doing more than any Minister has ever done. Many Ministers in the past have done a lot. In the past I believe that I paid tribute to all parties and I have been critical where I believed criticism was justified. I paid tribute to the Labour Party, and in particular to one Labour Minister whom I knew personally, Jim Tully, who did a lot for the working people both as a Minister and as a trade unionist. He brought dignity to the working man. By and large, all Governments have tried to do that. Maybe they did not make any progress they should have made.

There are areas where I would be critical. For example, I always felt that the lottery is a crying shame. I have known my colleague, Senator Brendan Ryan, to be critical of it and to be criticised by the media for being patronising to the poor suggesting that they were not able to think for themselves. I share Senator Brendan Ryan's views totally in that respect.

People have been put into housing schemes where conditions were such that they were unable to be motivated or to live as human beings. I agree that full employment is the main objective. It is impossible to live in dignity while dependent on social welfare. It is like trying to lift oneself by one's own socks. It is impossible. I would not be critical of those who receive social welfare payments.

There are many other areas I would like to speak about. The treatment of the travelling people is shameful. We are critical and rightly so of apartheid but we have the tragedy of the travelling people in our midst for so long and so little progress has been made.

Moneylending is another area of concern. I would like to touch on farm taxation and other areas. I agree with the [1036] motivation behind the motion but I could not agree with the conclusion: to blame the Government. As the Minister said, he will do everything possible to improve the situation in this regard.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I call Senator O'Shea. I understand that Senator O'Shea is allocating two minutes of his time to Senator Brendan Ryan.

Mr. B. Ryan:  It is clearly impossible to make a proper contribution in two minutes. I want to raise one very important point about the whole issue of poverty. We all agree that poverty and unemployment are inextricably linked, but it is equally important that in any attempt to end unemployment we do not do it by creating jobs that carry rates of pay which are effectively the same as what people get on unemployment assistance. We have been fed a line by a particular group of economists about the successes in other countries in creating jobs. It has been attributed to reductions in what were described as excessively indexed welfare payments. Let it go on the record of this House that of the 20 million jobs that have been created in the United States of America in the last ten years or so, half of them pay less than the official poverty line in that country. Of the 11.5 million jobs created between 1979 and 1985, 50 per cent pay less than $10,000 a year, less than £7,000 a year. That is no substitute for unemployment. That is not the way to do it. Poverty in work, if anything, is worse than poverty out of work. You have some freedom to use your time when you are unemployed. If you are stuck in a dead end job you have no such freedom.

I appeal to the Government not to allow the huge pressures that are on them to deflect them towards the idea of creating cheap labour jobs, unsecured and badly paid, which will do nothing to eliminate poverty but will give the image of eliminating poverty by taking people off the dole queues.

Mr. O'Shea:  I should like to respond to one point that was made by Senator [1037] Farrell which I found objectionable. It is the remark he made about people claiming social welfare payments spending their money on alcohol and on drugs. I do not think the point should be dignified by any observation but I would like to respond to it by quoting from the Combat Poverty Report on low income families and moneylending:

The stereo-type of the poor as spendthrifts who waste their money on luxuries and have to borrow from moneylenders as a result is false in the light of our research findings.

That gives the lie to the point made by Senator Farrell.

The national debt must be dealt with but as far as the Labour Party is concerned it is how the debt is solved, who pays for it and what priorities are set that are important. I would go along with what the Minister said, that poverty is not just something money can solve but money has a major part to play in solving it. We brought in this motion in a very positive way. We did not come here to be critical. Senator Farrell said that the present Minister is the best Minister for Social Welfare that we ever had. I could say that he was the worst Minister for Social Welfare we ever had but neither of the two of us would be correct and that type of approach does not help anyone. I would like to put it on record that while Deputy Barry Desmond was Minister for Social Welfare he was the only Minister within the EC countries who kept social welfare payments ahead of inflation and that included a number of socialist governments.

The Minister has brought about improvements in social welfare. We welcome those and compliment him on it but there are other areas where he effected changes that were not progressive. For instance, the number of qualifying contributions needed for disability benefit increased from two years to three years and finally to five years. The number of contributions needed for invalidity pension increased from two years to three years to five years.

If a woman claimed maternity benefit [1038] on her first confinement she could continue to sign for credits and she would qualify for maternity benefit on her subsequent confinements. That has been changed and she must have 13 paid contributions in a particular year. This change runs in the face of the fact that when a new baby arrives the family budget can be very seriously affected. The Government have also reduced pay related benefit to the position where at best £19 can be paid to the recipient.

Senator Cregan raised a very important point regarding the whole area of income tax relief on mortgages. I would like to make the point to the Minister, and I hope the Government will respond to it in the budget, that the more one pays by way of mortgage repayments the larger the amount of tax relief the State allows. I have seen situations where two people took out a mortgage when they were both working and then they both became redundant. When they become redundant their repayments remained the same but there is absolutely no concession made to them under the tax code. There is limited help available under supplementary welfare laws but these are far from adequate. I am not suggesting that the hard pressed PRSI sector should have their income tax relief on mortgage repayments reduced but, in terms of equity, the situation of people who are no longer earning an income but are dependent on social welfare should be addressed.

I would like to deal with the changes that have been brought about in the free fuel scheme. One change was alluded to by my colleague, Senator Ferris. He referred to the situation where a father is on unemployment assistance and there is a child in that home who is attending second or third level education, the father loses that child as a dependant for unemployment assistance. To add insult to injury, the situation now arises that because there is an adult of over 18 years in the home no free fuel allowance will be paid. The situation now is that new UK pensioners and those on occupational pensions only are at or below the old age [1039] pension rate and would no longer qualify for free fuel. The worst problem of all that has arisen is that the health boards have been virtually taken out of the scene as regards free fuel. They are left with a couple of their own payments but basically it was the flexibility that was available to health boards that made all the difference in dealing with the awkward and very deserving cases that arise.

I will conclude by once again saying that we were very glad to bring this motion here. We introduced the motion in a very constructive spirit. We look to the Government to respond to the very many recommendations contained there. The Minister has said that he finds the political conclusions in the document objectionable. I would refer him to one section on page 7 which says that whether poverty is reduced or not will depend to a great extent on the choices made by politicians. I do not see that that particular statement is directed at the Government but as far as we are concerned in the Labour Party, the wrong priorities have been taken by the Government in terms of controlling the debt. The poor are suffering because of it. We stand over our resolution. We are not prepared to withdraw or to water it down in any way.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is the motion agreed to?

Mr. W. Ryan:  I thought that we could come to some agreement rather than have a vote on this but if what Senator O'Shea has just said is true — that they are not going to change it in any way — I am afraid it will have to go to a vote. I thought they would accept the statement made by the Minister and just leave it at that.

Mr. Ferris:  I understand that the Minister resents some references in the reports. We did not write the references. All we are asking is that the Seanad would take note of the reports but the real, important thing is that the Minister would [1040] take action at budget time. I think we are agreed on that.

An Cathaoirleach:  We cannot have the whole debate all over again.

Mr. Ferris:  I am trying to be helpful to the Minister and to the Leader of the House. We did not write these reports. We referred to them. We are taking note of them, but we are asking the Minister to take action. He has agreed that he would. If he does agree, then we are pleased.

Dr. Woods:  In that spirit, I accept your motion. I hope the Leader of the House does likewise. You understand the sort of reference I made.

Question put and agreed to.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 4:

In page 3, subsection (3), line 36, after “origins” to add “or their status as members of the travelling community or sexual orientation”.

—(Senator Norris.)

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins):  So far as the travelling community are concerned, I would point out that it is extremely difficult to find a watertight legal definition for this group. It is quite often claimed by the travelling community that their ethnic origins are separate from those of the rest of the community. So far as this is true, the travelling people are already covered in the Bill which refers inter alia to hatred against any group of persons in the State on account of their ethnic origins. In so far as sexual orientation is concerned, I would refer to the very wide ambit of the [1041] term which would cover, I presume, not merely heterosexuals and homosexuals as commonly understood but also to groups of varying and divergent sexual preferences. There are many social groups who might claim to be disadvantaged and to be particularly vulnerable to abusive or insulting words or behaviour. It appears to me that it would not be logical to select for special reference particular groups such as those referred to in these amendments without making specific reference also to all other groups who could claim to be disadvantaged. It is clear that this would broaden the ambit of the Bill to an impossible extent and tend to create a new general category of criminal offence, something which is not the intention in this legislation.

We have looked, in so far as that was possible, at what other ratifying states have done by way of legislation to implement these particular provisions in the covenant and the racial discrimination convention. So far as we can find, legislation in most countries does not extend beyond the categories referred to in the United Nations instrument, apart from some Scandinavian countries where the legislation referred, in addition, to sexual orientation. In Northern Ireland, for example, the relevant legislation does not go beyond the categories listed in the United Nations Covenant and Convention.

I would point out to Senators that this legislation breaks new ground. It is an area in which it is particularly difficult to frame penal provisions with the precision which is essential when we are creating new criminal offences. The ambit of this legislation is already very wide, as will be seen from the very broad categories covered in the definition of hatred. It would be clearly desirable to see how this legislation works in practice before adding references to particular social groups to the list contained in the UN Covenant and Convention, and already reflected in the Bill.

[1042]Mr. Norris:  Regretfully, I have to say that I find the Minister's response devastatingly inadequate, devastatingly inadequate. On this occasion, there is absolutely no excuse for this. I find it offensive. The Minister has had long notice — and the Minister's advisers also — that this kind of material would arise. I am glad that, unlike in the previous debate, they now appear to be aware of the situation in the Scandinavian countries. I also made it clear that it is not just in the Scandinavian countries. Sexual orientation is added as a matter of course in a number of jurisdictions, including a number of the states in the United States of America and in Australia. Greenland can afford to do it. I wonder why this information appears not to have been taken on board. There seems to be some inexplicable hesitation here on the part of the Minister and his advisers.

I am very glad — I will flatter the Minister by saying that I am not at all surprised — that he does not condone the kind of material that I produced. I would hardly expect the Minister to condone productions of the Nazi party. That does not help me. It is perfectly appropriate for the Minister to say this but I would like some action. I have been on the receiving end of a bombing attack. Clear incitement exists to hatred. The Minister is not prepared to do anything whatever about it. He is prepared to protect racial minorities. I would like to point out to the Minister that Ireland is not floating in Zulus or Greenlanders. We do not even have a large Jewish population. We have about two or three thousand Jewish people. The Minister is quite happy to protect them. What is the problem? There seems to be a problem. It is a problem that worries me because the Minister knows well that there has already been a judgment in the European Court of Human Rights that the attitude enshrined in law and supported by this Government, and presumably supported by the Department of Justice is contravention of human rights. Here is a [1043] golden opportunity to demonstrate to our European partners, and to make clear at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers that we are serious about rectifying this. There is no such seriousness whatever in the Minister's response, none whatever. I find it absolutely lamentable.

An Cathaoirleach:  We cannot have repetition again. We had this debate before the Minister made his contribution. All I ask is that we do not have repetition. You can make the case over and over again, but not a repeat. This is for all Senators — do not repeat the earlier cases made.

Mr. Norris:  I take the Cathaoirleach's point. I do not wish to be tedious or filibustering, but the point that I have just made is that we do not suffer at the moment, thank God, from a really critical situation with regard to racial minorities but we do have a critical situation with regard to the gay community. What is the point in addressing a hypothetical situation that may be dozens of years down the road and we hope to God that it never arises. We conspicuously fail to address the situation that does and has affected people, including people in this Chamber.

I would also like to say that I sympathise with the Minister as a recipient of hate mail. I really do, but that was not the point I was raising. I would not consider it appropriate to come to this House and say “I got a nasty letter unsigned”. I am talking about publication of a circular. Now that is a radically different thing and I am surprised that the Minister and his advisers do not appear to have taken this simple point on board. I make it. It is not repetition, a Chathaoirligh. It is an important, simple point that has not at all been addressed.

The Minister said that this kind of thing — which he deplored, and I am glad, of course, that he did — was subject to the criminal law. I do not accept that for one [1044] minute. Not only that, but if that is true it is also true, logically by extension, of similar productions inciting people to hatred on the grounds of race. The Minister is trying to have two totally contradictory arguments in place simultaneously. Either this legislation is not necessary or it is necessary for broader categories. One of these categories has been clearly indicated as being necessary by me, by a number of other parliaments — I instance the Dutch Parliament — very clearly making this point. They changed the Constitution but the Minister is not prepared to take this on board.

I wonder if the Minister and his advisers are aware of the report presented to the European Parliament by Mrs. Vera Squarcialupi? Could I just perhaps ask that question and return to it afterwards? Is the Minister and his advisers aware of the report presented to the European Parliament by Mrs. Vera Squarcialupi?

Mr. Collins:  Perhaps the Senator will appreciate we have a copy of the report but we are not in the position to discuss the contents of the report as of now.

Mr. Norris:  Perhaps I could ask for further clarification? Why?

An Cathaoirleach:  Does it arise on the amendments here?

Mr. Norris:  It very clearly arises. I will explain why when the Minister and his advisers explain to me that they are apparently unaware of it.

Mr. Collins:  I think the Senator makes his own case. I will make my own case as well. That is the normal way of doing business.

Mr. Norris:  I am asking if a very important instrument dealing with this area has come to the attention of the Minister and his advisers? He very clearly placed on [1045] the record of this House that he had made extensive investigations. It would be most remarkable if this report has not come to his attention. It will illustrate for me perfectly the gross inadequacies of the response.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is the amendment withdrawn?

Mr. Norris:  No, the amendment is not withdrawn.

An Cathaoirleach:  The question is: “That the amendment be made.”

Mr. Norris:  I have not finished speaking. I really do regret this. I had asked the Minister a question.

Mr. Collins:  I want to say that that report is in the office and that report has been looked at.

Mr. Norris:  The contents of it have not obviously been taken on board. I will certainly make it my business to acquaint the European Parliament with the attitude in this matter. I find it quite astonishing that there should have been no mention of this and such an inadequate response to the Squarcialupi report, which is an extremely important response and should have been taken into account. It is a quite disastrous gap. The Minister says that he is aware of this report. He is obviously not taking on board to see its conclusions, or what is said in this report and I find that extremely regrettable.

I may also in this House say that I hear a great deal about human rights and so on. I speak here as a sober, responsible citizen of good background, in good standing, in good professional standing, held in esteem by my colleagues, I like to think. There are only a few things that set me apart. One of them is that I have an unusual number of friends who have actually been murdered, attacked, beaten and harassed and I find it quite difficult to understand how the Minister [1046] and his advisers in a Department of Justice are apparently unwilling to do anything about the situation. They have been invited in the most courteous way to do so. I produced precedents, not just from Europe but from all over the world, and yet the response continues to be inadequate. There have been clear violations of which this Government have been found guilty of human rights, and still there is no movement whatever on this.

The Minister raised another question that will be of interest. He referred to restrictions and claimed that the restrictions are necessary in order to be in concert with certain international instruments. I would like to point out that in fact the legislation as proposed is more restrictive than the international instruments to which the Minister referred. The international covenant on civil and political rights, for example, provides that the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any grounds such as — and a whole series are listed —“or other status.”

An Cathaoirleach:  How does that relate to the definition of hatred?

Mr. Norris:  It relates to the definition of hatred because it illustrates the difficulties another Parliament got into in defining hatred — precisely the difficulties the Minister appears to have experienced. They found a way round it. I have proposed a way round it, but the Minister has some difficulty in accepting this. There appears to be a reluctance to protect particular minorities. I can only find this lamentable and I want it on the record.

I would have to say that what we are debating here is certainly an historic Bill. It is an historic and important instrument. It must be said that what will pass here tonight is not something that is going to be just useful next week or of interest to tomorrow's newspapers. It is something that will be examined and scrutinised in [1047] 30, 40 or 50 years' time when the parsimoniousness with democracy and the niggardliness with justice that I refer to as a possible consequence of this disastrous limitation in the Bill will be very explicitly clear to historians. It will pass as a shameful day in this House.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  There are two opposing interpretations of hatred. It is unfortunate that we have now found ourselves so polarised on an issue where everybody is going into consideration of this legislation — both the Minister and ourselves — with precisely the same objective. In other words, it is proposed to make it illegal in this country to incite hatred against any particular group. The difficulty that has arisen at this stage is that as the section is written, hatred is interpreted and defined as being hatred against a group of persons in the State on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion or ethnic or national origins.

The argument we are putting here from both the Independent benches and the Opposition benches this afternoon, is simply this. We are saying that does not cover two groups of people. It does not cover the travelling community and it does not cover the sexual orientation clauses referred to by Senator Norris. If everybody sets out to achieve the same objective, there must surely be some middle ground in which it can be achieved. In other words, there is apparently no difference in principle in what the Minister is saying and what we are saying here. We have proposed an amendment, the amendment being that the two items be added to the definition. The Minister, on the other hand, claims that the word “ethnic” would allow a court to interpret the Act as being appropriate for use where people were being incited to hate a group because of their sexual orientation or because they were members of the travelling community.

We have to look at the facts in the case. There are two facts here. First of [1048] all, the Minister has said in the debate that the law could be interpreted in that way. If it can be interpreted in that way, then it is important because it can be referred to in a court of law. If it comes to an interpretation in five or six years' time I have no doubt that a lawyer would pick up the debate and say that the Minister at the time indicated that this legislation could be used in cases where groups are being incited to hate travellers, members of the gay community or people by virtue of their sexual orientation. The Minister should put that clearly on the record.

However, that is not the law. It can be used as an argument in court, but as we all know it does not give direction to the judge. Therefore, what we have suggested is that the two groups be named — the two groups being named by virtue of sexual orientation or being the travelling community. The Minister says that by doing that you begin to exclude other people. He mentioned that there could be various groups who would not be covered and that, therefore, what we propose as a solution could create difficulties down the line. If that is the case the Minister is saying that the form of words is wrong but if there is a will to deal with it, and if the form of words is incorrect, surely we can sit down and find a form of words? The form of words would be along the lines Senator Norris mentioned when he spoke about the phrase “or other status”. They would have to prove themselves in court to be of some particular status or group and they could therefore, come within the context of the legislation.

There is a matter of principle here. Those of us committed to various philosophies on this issue would have to be seen on the record as opposing it. I do not think anyone wants to divide the House on an issue if we all can achieve the same purpose. How can we achieve the same purpose if the Minister is saying that our words or the various amendments there do not do the business? Let [1049] us come up with a new form of words. I would like to hear the Minister's view on that before we go any further.

Mr. Collins:  I appreciate what Senator O'Toole is trying to do here in trying to find middle ground. None of us wants divisions if they can possibly be avoided. The word “hatred” means hatred against a group of persons in the State on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins. These particular words are specifically required of us for the purpose of ratifying the Convention on Racial Discrimination and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is because of this specific requirement on us that they are there.

Mr. Norris:  May I correct the Minister on a matter——

An Cathoirleach:  Before we start again, I beg that we avoid repetition. Get the middle ground, and let us move on.

Mr. Norris:  I am a teacher, and I know that unfortunately there are certain instances when the only way to get a point across is by repetition. I have made this point already.

An Cathaoirleach:  That is fine, but there are rules for me as well.

Mr. Norris:  Can I point out that it would be very unfortunate if the record of the House clearly demonstrated that the point had not apparently got across? The Minister has once again cited the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights. I have pointed out to him that the Bill as proposed is narrower because it excludes the words “or other status”.

Could I put on the record as well something that was said in a previous contribution by the Minister addressing precisely this section? Perhaps this is some slightly inexpert information that [1050] has come by some odd means to his disposal, and I would like to dispose of it, that is that sexual orientation can mean all kinds of other things, that it is a vague legal term. I am very pleased to be in a position to tell the Minister that that is not the case and I am sure he will be glad to know that that is not the case. That is not fact. Sexual orientation clauses have a very honourable tradition. Jurisdictions in Canada, Greenland, etc. have lists of them — I will not list them because I would be guilty of repetition. They have no difficulty in understanding clearly that it does not mean all kinds of very odd, peculiar forms of sexual behaviour; in other words, it has a tradition defined by case law. That is quite clear. There is no necessity to have any further problems at all with this.

I would like to say also that it is an astonishing admission from the Minister that he is concerned that if we mention these additional groups other groups may have to be mentioned as well. That raises a very interesting situation. Why did the Minister mention any groups at all?

Mr. Collins:  For the simple reason that it is required by the Convention. If the Senator reads the article of the Convention I am trying to comply with he will see what I am getting at.

Mr. Norris:  The Minister has not included all the categories involved.

Mr. Collins:  To be helpful to Senator Norris, Article 20 (2) of the Convention reads: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law”. It is there in black and white. There is no mention of sexual orientation in it.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  The point here is that also in the instrument at some stage it adds the words “or other status”. I am not saying that that would be an acceptable way to either side of the argument [1051] here at the moment. Could I press the Minister on it? He has given a rational explanation as to why he has used these particular words in that those are the ones written in the instrument. Also in that instrument — I think it is in Article 26 — they add the words “or other status”. I do not know if that would satisfy our needs here but it would certainly progress the argument a lot. Would the Minister accept the addition of those three words to it? It is important that we find a solution to this.

Mr. Collins:  In an effort to be helpful to Senator O'Toole, what he is quoting from there when he mentions “or other status” is in Article 26, but Article 20 stands on its own. Article 26 is not related to it as such.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I accept that point. All I am saying is that we have a problem here we are trying to resolve. The Minister has said that he has picked the particular words out of it so that he can ratify the covenant and be seen to respond to the demands of the covenant, line by line and word by word. It seems to me that he can do that and avoid what he considers to be the trap of extending it further because he feels that that could be exclusive in the long term by taking the words from Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and those words are “or other status”. It would then read: “...means hatred against a group of people in the State on account of race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins or other status”.

It seems to me that meets two difficulties. The original difficulty the Department had on it was that it had to be defined in some way, and that here you put into it people of a certain status. “Or other status” certainly allows legal proceedings to be undertaken on that basis. I ask the Minister to consider taking it on board. Would that not cover [1052] everything? The wording is from an international covenant. I could not see it creating a problem.

Mr. Collins:  In reply to Senator O'Toole, I would like to say that the Attorney General's committee who examined this document at great length went very carefully over the point he is now making. It was before them for consideration. They came down in favour of the formula of words I am using and the approach which I have adopted.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is the amendment withdrawn?

Mr. Norris:  No. I would like to tease it out a little more. I would like first of all to refer to these totally spurious difficulties with the phrase “sexual orientation”. Is the Minister or are his advisers quite serious in this implied criticism of a colleague in the Cabinet, Deputy Mac-Sharry, who experienced no such difficulty in issuing a directive to the Civil Service?

Mr. Collins:  I have never publicly criticised a Cabinet colleague in my life.

Mr. Norris:  The art of survival is certainly one in which the Minister is clearly practised. All I am looking for is some assistance from the Minister — and his advisers of course — so that I should be allowed to survive untouched by the kind of squalid propaganda that will undoubtedly succeed in passing the test in this legislation. I would have to say that at last we are getting down to it and this is why the Seanad is such a useful place — and I am sure the Cathaoirleach will agree with this — that we are tonight fufilling the function of the Seanad, we are teasing through the show, the panoply of morality, this great show that we are doing something wonderful in this country: we are not. The Minister is saying, “Well, we are doing the least possible to meet our international obligations and [1053] we are not going to do any more”. We are going to make the smallest possible little bit of begruding movement in order to bring us into line with certain international obligations and if this is what the Minister's advisers are suggesting that he should do, then I think this is very bad. If this is the Minister's approach to justice I wonder if he is happy in that job.

An Cathaoirleach:  There is a vote in the other House and I am going to release the Minister for that vote, whatever it is for. Will we break for a sos, Minister?

Mr. Collins:  First, I can say to Senator Norris and to every Senator and citizen in the country that if any person is threatened with arson, as Senator Norris said he was, if he is threatened in any way, he has the same protection under the criminal law as anybody has, irrespective of what his own personal and private views are about any particular matter. So, there is no question of him being left defenceless, as it were, because of the fact that there is not a specific reference in what we are doing here to sexual orientation. It is very wrong to assume that and to try to give that impression. That is not so. The Senator has the same protection as any other Member of this House and everybody here would want no less than that for him.

There was mention of other states taking sexual orientation on board. Most states ratifying the convention make no special mention of sexual orientation. I said that before and I say it again because I feel it is necessary to do so. Again there is a difficulty in that the phrase “sexual orientation” is not defined and its ambit would be very wide, covering not merely heterosexuals and homosexuals but others of divergent sexual preference and the question of statutory provisions in regard to homosexual acts, which was also mentioned, is under urgent examination following the recent Strasburg judgment. This also has been said before. The position of homosexuals would be [1054] more appropriate for discussion in that context and we certainly do not want to prejudge it in this Bill, any more than we have done. I feel that that more than adequately answers the case that is being made there. I feel that there is not any need whatsoever, for reasons already stated, for specific reference to sexual orientation, or to travellers, in the Bill. I believe that this is already provided for in the definitions and if there were to be specific reference made to, say, travellers or to sexual orientation I am sure somebody could make a case for special reference to the homeless or the disabled or the unemployed or some other group, but I do not think it is necessary because they are all covered as it is. I hope that the Senator will take that in good faith. It is there. Nobody is doing anything in any way to offend Senator Norris. We are complying with the requirements.

Mr. Norris:  Perhaps the Minister will allow me to be the judge of whether I am offended or not.

Mr. Collins:  Of course. The Senator will have to allow me to give my view on the same ground and that I am giving.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is it agreed that the sitting be suspended until the Dáil vote is over?


Sitting suspended at 8.35 p.m. and resumed at 8.45 p.m.

An Cathaoirleach:  Had the Minister concluded?

Mr. Collins:  I have dealt with the points that were raised. A serious examination is taking place within the Department of Justice at present about the recent judgments in the case taken by Senator Norris. As it should be it is being undertaken in a serious manner. I would not be pleased if the Senator thought that [1055] this would not be given the attention it merits and deserves. It will. When that examination is completed I will be in a position to formally make proposals to Government. I will do that and nobody will deter me from doing it. I have a responsibility for doing that, and I shall do it.

Mr. Norris:  I welcome this statement from the Minister and I hope that in the light of what he has said I can take it as an assurance that what was done in the North of Ireland, which was a very bad idea in that they just reached for what, in the Northern context, appeared to be the nearest available British precedent which is now out of date and has been unsatisfactory, will not be done by the Minister. That would be a very slipshod approach. I welcome the Minister's announcement and I am sure he will take on board submissions from persons who are interested in this area so that we can all approach the legislation in a very positive light.

Mr. Collins:  I would have pleasure in welcoming any submissions on the subject that will be helpful to us in our deliberations. We will not be guided by or slavishly follow any legislation in Northern Ireland or anywhere else. We have an issue to deal with and we will deal with it in our own right having regard to our own circumstances.

Mr. B. Ryan:  This is a point that is not repetitious. The Minister has laid great emphasis on the fact that this Bill is necessary in order to ratify certain international conventions and has argued that it will be difficult to change the wording of the section we are attempting to amend, not necessarily exclusively, but amongst other reasons because of the fact that we are attempting to ratify the international convention.

I understood that if we were ratifying an international convention it should [1056] have been published as a schedule to the Bill, and in that way the full wording of the convention would be inserted in the Bill. Where we have an international convention inserted as a schedule, the schedule cannot be amended because it is the convention. Since we have chosen a different route to amend it, I cannot see why the Minister is laying such emphasis on the precise wording. If it were the schedule then we could not amend but it is not the schedule and therefore one of the consequences of this will be to ratify the international convention. The other consequences are not necessarily and exclusively the ratification of the convention. Therefore, if we are doing two things, as we are clearly doing because it is not just ratifying legislation, we should be able to extend or clarify the intent of the Bill. That is what the whole discussion is about.

Mr. Ross:  I do not want to delay the House further. I want, first to put on record that I fully support everything which has been said in favour of this amendment. I cannot understand a couple of things about this amendment. One is, I cannot understand what all the fuss is about. It seems so obvious that if a particular group like the travellers or the gay community has a sense of grievance and has a sense that it needs the protection of this Bill, the easiest thing in the world for the Minister to do is just to say “yes.” What makes me suspicious about the discussion this evening is the great resistance on the Government benches to this amendment. It seems that there is just no reason for the resistance. The easiest thing for the Minister to say is “Yes, of course we will allow this. We do not wish in any way that hatred should be incited against the homosexual people or against people of any particular sexual orientation or against the travelling community.” It is the resistance to this particular motion which makes me suspicious.

Let me be completely honest about it. [1057] The controversial area of this motion is homosexuality and the gay community. The travellers, while their case is absolutely unanswerable, are not quite so controversial a topic. It seems that the Government and politicians in this House as a whole have not quite come to terms with people from different sexual orientation, as it is so politely called in this Bill. I am not sure what other different sexual orientations there are besides homosexuality and heterosexuality but I do feel that we are running away from a problem which we have run away from for far too long. Senator Norris has got an impeccable, unimpeachable record on this issue and the Government have not. Remember this Government and the former Government resisted his case in the Court of Human Rights.

An Cathaoirleach:  With the greatest respect, we are now having repetition. All this has been said in the debate for the last two hours.

Mr. Ross:  The Chair will have to bear with me because I was not here and to most of it I have to admit I was not listening.

An Cathaoirleach:  Repetition is repetition.

Mr. Ross:  The Chair will have to tell me when I am repeating myself because I will not be aware of it not having listened.

An Cathaoirleach:  That is what I have been telling the Senators.

Mr. Ross:  Yes, it may be repetition because I have not listened to the debate either on the monitor or in the House. I become very suspicious when the Government resist this type of amendment because it seems that when someone who is so well qualified to speak on it as Senator Norris and he feels so strongly about it, the case is unanswerable. It is only correct that if we are [1058] privileged to have Senator Norris in the House giving his views on something like this they should neither be ignored nor dismissed. It is contemptuous and wrong for anyone in this House to dismiss something like this when we have someone who is qualified to speak on it, speaking in front of us. I do not believe the Minister's explanation when he said it is covered by other legislation elsewhere.

An Cathaoirleach:  How do you know this if you did not listen?

Mr. Ross:  Sorry, I said I did not hear all the debate. If you were listening to me you would have heard that. What I do find difficult is the Minister's explanation that it is covered by other legislation because there is obviously a sense amongst these two groups that they need the protection of this legislation. That is why it is important — and not the Minister's view so much as the view of the people who feel it. I am disappointed because it could have been totally uncontroversial for the Minister and the Government to say “Yes, that is a reasonable amendment; these people do feel that; we will take it on board”. I just think we have not grown up enough yet as a nation to be able to accept this sort of thing. The resistance to this amendment I find particularly disappointing.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is the amendment withdrawn?

Mr. Norris:  No, I am afraid it is not——

An Cathaoirleach:  The question is that the——

Mr. Norris:  Sorry, a Chathaoirligh, you invited me to continue and that is what I was attempting to do. Among the questions raised was a particularly important technical question. It addresses the heart of the issue and was raised by Senator Brendan Ryan. I certainly, as a Senator, [1059] feel I am entitled to an explanation because a spurious case has been made and the spuriousness of this case has been demonstrated by Senator Ryan. If the intention of this legislation is simply to give effect to an international treaty, then that treaty should form part of the Bill. That is normal practice. It does not do that. So, the Minister's arguments or the arguments of his advisers, fall once again.

I would also like to raise a further question with regard to this. It seems we are dealing with a very important area. We are protecting against a hypothetical situation with regard to certain groups and so on. It is interesting that the two groups that I put down complete a trio. We are not long from the anniversary of Kristallnacht. We all know the sensitivities that were exposed on that occasion, the sensitivities of a community who will be specifically protected by this legislation on the basis of radical or ethnic minorities. I speak of the Jewish community. I am foolishly optimistic when I assume that the Minister and his advisers are aware that Nazi Germany has a specific legal policy discriminating against three groups in particular — Jewish, homosexual and gypsies, who are the equivalent of the travellers. Those are three groups linked historically as a prime target for fascist aggression and propaganda and incitement to hatred.

One of the reasons given for this Bill was to be able to inhibit publications for fascist groups in this country. Under this legislation we can do part of that but we quite clearly cannot do more than one-third of it. We can protect the Jewish community and it is right and proper that we should do so. We cannot protect the travelling people and we cannot protect the gay community. I remind the Minister of a very famous saying by a Germany citizen of repute, after the war: “When they came for the Jews, I did nothing and was silent. When they came for the homosexuals, I did nothing and was silent. When they came for the gypsies, [1060] I did nothing and was silent. When they came for me, there was nobody left to protest”.

This is a situation in which the inadequate provisions of this Bill and the poor advice that is being received, place two-thirds of that trio. I ask urgently that something be done about it. I cannot, in logic, accept the Minister's bland statement that the kind of odious material to which the attention of the House is being drawn is covered by the criminal law. If it is, then the case of racial and religious minorities is also covered. These questions that I have put to the Minister have simply not been addressed at all.

On the question of legislation against discrimination with regard to prohibited acts — I am speaking here of verbal discrimination — public anti-homesexual insults are prohibited in Norway, Denmark, Greenland and Sweden. In the Netherlands it has been proposed to make such remarks illegal. In Belgium it has been proposed to make anti-homosexual insults in commercial advertising illegal. Anti-homosexual incitement to hatred, discrimination or violence is prohibited in Norway. It is also forbidden in France. In Belgium and the Netherlands it is currently proposed to extend the provisions of the law in this area. What is the problem here?

I have indicated clearly to the Minister and his advisers that from the obdurate refusal to take on board these amendments a clear indication will emerge to people, whether intended or not, that it is all right to attack the gay community. This may not be the Minister's intention but I am at the cutting edge of this and have been for a long time and I can tell the Minister what the impact of this debate will be. A refusal to take on board these amendments will lead to consequences. There is absolutely no point in locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. Suppose I am done to death. I have been the subject of a number of physical attacks, not just the bombing attacks which I referred to. I have been [1061] subjected to notices being placed on the Hirschfeld Centre and subjected to concrete blocks being thrown at the door of the Centre from time to time. I do not want to highlight these matters because I do not wish to appear paranoid and I do not want to give public encouragement to these crimes. Sometimes the more one speaks about these matters the more copycats one gets. I am very hesitant about doing this.

I have indicated to the Minister that these things have happened in the past and that there is a clear example of incitement. It will not be good enough, supposing somebody is killed — whether it be myself or somebody else — at that point hypocritically to introduce some measure of protection. It must be done now. It will be seen internationally, and I will make sure that it will be seen internationally, that a bad night's work has been done here tonight if there is not some acknowledgement. Various vise mediae have been proposed and examined. We will be putting down amendments on Report Stage to cover this area. The Minister has shown flexibility on other items but there has not been one atom of movement on this item and I must wonder why.

Mr. Collins:  Senator Ryan asked about attaching the convenant to the Schedule to the Bill. The covenant is quite a bulky document. It covers matters such as cruel and inhuman punishment, slavery, forced labour, arrest and detention, defects in relation to prison law, imprisonment, contractual law in relation to aliens' legislation, criminal procedure, compensation for miscarriage of justice, acts not an offence at the time of commission, right to privacy, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, national, racial and religious hatred, war propaganda, and so on. There is quite a long list and it would be impossible to attach it to the Schedule. Bear in mind that the only three lines we have taken from the covenant are the three in article 20 (2):

Any advocacy of national, racial or [1062] religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law.

They are the only three lines that are relevant in this instance. The categories to be covered were discussed at length in the relevant United Nations forum when the covenant was being drafted. The conclusion was, as is evident from Article 20 of the covenant, that what was required to be penalised essentially was incitement on grounds of race, nationality or religion. Once one begins to add to that group the list becomes open-ended and we would certainly end up with a new general category of offence in the criminal law. In their combined wisdom, the national representatives who drafted this provision in the UN covenant obviously did not believe this to be necessary, nor do I believe that it is necessary in our circumstances.

Senator Norris has spoken about incidents where people have attacked him, thrown blocks at him and have tried to set places on fire. These are all covered under ordinary criminal law and he has as much protection as any other citizen. Nobody is taking any protection from him.

I know that Senator Ross does not agree with me and I am not going to try to twist his arm, except to say that I covered the point he raised at least three or four times before he came into the Chamber. I understand that people may not always be free to be where they want to be at any time. That happens to me very often also. In my view there is no justification for not covering other disadvantaged groups. If we start singling out any one or two groups it would become open-ended. No other legislation ratifying the covenant covers any specific group, such as travellers or anybody else. I am satisfied that we are totally complying with the requirements that are necessary and that we are doing everything that is requested of us to sign and ratify as soon as possible.

[1063]An Cathaoirleach:  Is the amendment withdrawn? The question is——

Mr. Ross:  I wish to speak. Is the Committee Stage being declared finished or is it not? I want to know if I am being silenced.

An Cathaoirleach:  No. No repetition.

Mr. Ross:  You will have to pick me up on that because, like others, I have not attended the whole debate and I will not know if I am repeating points already made.

An Cathaoirleach:  I will keep you informed as you go on.

Mr. Ross:  It is impossible, as can be seen from the numbers here, for everybody to attend for every minute of every debate. I apologise to the House that I have not been present for the entire debate but I am in company with many Members on the Government and Opposition benches in that.

I understand the Minister's point but we should make one or two points in reply. I have never been convinced by the argument, which is made continually in this House, that we are doing just as well as everybody else is doing overseas. We had it last week from the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs who quoted various measures which the Government were taking in concert with other people but going no further. The Minister tonight, quite naturally following the normal procedure in this House, said that we are doing exactly the same as is being done in other countries. I accept that as an argument but not as an adequate argument. It appears, from what I have heard of this debate, that there is a crying need in this country, of all countries, to lift the veil of discrimination against people of a different sexual orientation to heterosexuality. It is important here because other countries who are subject to the European Court [1064] of Human Rights do not have the same laws discriminating against people of different sexual orientation. There may be some way out of this. If they have the protection of the law and if we are to be in line with our European partners and with civilised nations overseas, will the Minister take the action asked of him by the European Court of Human Rights? That would relieve some of the anxiety I have about this Bill.

Mr. Collins:  I have already dealt with that. I have already explained to the House what I am doing in that regard.

Mr. Ross:  I apologise. I hope it is satisfactory. The Minister says that the Bill would be open-ended if we included these groups. I do not accept that it would be open-ended, but I suspect that there are other groups beyond these two which also require the protection of this Bill. I see nothing wrong with that. I see nothing wrong in the sort of presentations made from other groups looking for the protection of this Bill. If a case is made, let us accept it. Let us not say it is not accepted in other countries.

If a case is made, as Senator Norris has made today, I do not understand why the Minister should not say yes. I do not understand why he should not say yes to the travellers and to several other groups who feel that they need the protection of this Bill. I really do not see what is wrong with it being open-ended. I do not see what is wrong with it spreading much wider. I do not want to stand here and just represent the travellers and those of different sexual orientation. I would like to see other minority groups being protected by the Minister and I do not think his argument holds water.

Mr. Norris:  I should like to refer to a couple of matters and perhaps the Minister could then comment. I am very sorry that this confusion over the question of the employment of the sexual orientation clauses is apparently persisting in the [1065] mind of the Minister and his advisers. I should like to put another quotation on the record of the House from a report to the Commissioner for Human Rights:

In some countries “sexual orientation” has been included in existing anti-discrimination provisions in ordinary legislation. Such legislation makes it easier to challenge cases of discrimination in court or before special bodies such as “equal opportunities commissions”. The national criminal laws of Norway, France, Sweden, Denmark and Greenland now contain prohibitions of certain forms of anti-homosexual discrimination. Provisions against anti-homosexual discriminination have also been enacted in some Canadian provinces, Australian and USA states and in several North American and European cities.

Such provisions have also been enacted, as the Minister is unquestionably aware, in the District of Columbia in Washington. The report continues:

But even in these countries and parts of countries many forms of discrimination are not specifically forbidden.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I am loth to interrupt the Senator but have those points not already been made?

Mr. Norris:  This is an area in which I have some competence. I may point out that I perhaps know more about this than anybody else in the House. Some elements of that argument have been read. This is a different quotation because I think it is useful to know. Certain elements in that quotation are entirely novel to the debate and they make the point very clearly. Sexual orientation clauses are not the awful bogey that the Minister and his advisers are so patently terrified of.

I should like to make another point. The Minister is totally disingenuous. I am aware of the situation with regard to [1066] United Nations protocols. I make it my business to be aware of these things. I am sure the Minister and his advisers are also aware of the fact that international organisations like the United Nations have particular problems. They are complex entities. They have to satisfy a variety of different cultural, political, ethnic and racial elements in their composition. It is exceedingly difficult to get protection of women, for example, in certain instances, such as female circumcision and so on. The Minister is undoubtedly aware of this because of the reluctance of certain countries. What happens in that circumstance is that domestic jurisdictions are always in advance. Is the Minister inviting Ireland to be backward? I would be quite astonished if the Minister was demanding that Ireland remain everlastingly at the rear of social advance. Perhaps that is what he is saying. Perhaps he could illuminate us on this. May I point out that it would be utterly unrealistic to expect a huge body to go in advance of domestic parliaments. Domestic parliaments have signalled the way. I have illustrated a growing trend. I am inviting the Minister to join what is clearly a European trend. The Minister is hiding behind, where I do not know. Is it Togo or Iraq?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We cannot have a wide-ranging Second Stage debate on these fairly narrow amendments.

Mr. Norris:  I am addressing the substance of the amendment. I am trying to illustrate why the Minister's argument is completely false. I believe the Minister is probably aware of this. I would also like to draw to the Minister's attention that there has been a long battle on the subject of homosexuality with the World Health Organisation precisely for this reason, because there is still a classification of homosexuality as a disease. That is on the point of being removed, despite the complexity. I would like the Minister to [1067] be aware of the trend even in major international bodies with regard to this particular matter.

I mentioned the Squarcialupi report. There was a certain amount of consternation, as the Minister will remember, which I found rather intriguing. It is a principal document that ought to be well known. The reply that we eventually extracted was that this book was in the office. Shades of James Joyce and the moment in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” when they were discussing who was the greatest poet. Heron says “Lord Tennyson is the greatest poet”, and Boland, the class dunce, says “Oh, yes, Tennyson, we have all his poetry at home in a book”, which did not indicate that he knew very much about the substance of it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is all very interesting but the Senator will have to relate it to the amendments under discussion. We cannot have a Second Reading speech all over again. Could the Senator address the amendments before the House?

Mr. Norris:  I will be very happy to do that. I hope that the Squarcialupi report will be placed on the recommended reading list of the Department of Justice because it is about time it was perused. [1068] We all must have respect for the European Parliament and its institutions and I would like to feel that a debate on these important provisions was fully informed. We owe it to ourselves as a people, to our own honour and dignity, not just to have a squalid rushing through of something to bring us into line with the smallest, meanest little bit of movement possible. There is a kind of political arthritis developing.

Mr. Collins:  I have already dealt with the points raised by Senator Ross. I think I have probably dealt with them on at least two occasions during the course of the debate this evening. This Bill does not deal with acts of discrimination. I want to repeat that because that question will arise in relation to the racial discrimination convention which is now being studied by the interdepartmental committee that his being chaired by the Attorney General's office. This Bill deals with one aspect only, that of incitement to hatred. I think I have answered the other points more than once. If the Senator wants to score points off me at this late stage he is welcome to do so.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Is the amendment withdrawn.

Mr. Norris:  No.

Amendment put.

The Committee divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 18.

Bradford, Paul.
Bulbulia, Katharine.
Connor, John.
Cregan, Denis.
Ferris, Michael.
Kelleher, Peter.
Kennedy, Patrick.
Manning, Maurice.
Norris, David.
O'Callaghan, Vivian.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Toole, Joe.
Ross, Shane P. N.


Byrne, Seán.
Cullimore, Seamus.
Doherty, Michael.
Eogan, George. [1069]Hussey, Thomas.
Lanigan, Mick.
Lydon, Donal.
McEllistrim, Tom.
McGowan, Patrick.
Fitzgerald, Tom.
Fitzsimons, Jack.
Haughey, Seán F.
Hillery, Brian. [1070]Mullooly, Brian.
Mulroy, Jimmy.
O'Callaghan, Vivian.
Ryan, William.
Wallace, Mary.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Ross and Norris; Níl, Senators W. Ryan and S. Haughey.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.

Section 2 agreed to.


Amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, not moved.

Section 3 agreed to.


Amendments Nos. 10 to 12, inclusive, not moved.

Section 4 agreed to.


Mr. J. O'Toole:  I move amendment No. 13:

In page 6, line 40, after “House”, to insert “or committee”.

It is just a technical matter to cover not just the proceedings of the House but the proceedings of committees of the House. It makes it doubly sure. I am not going to make a speech.

Mr. Collins:  I accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 5, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 6 and 7 agreed to.


Question proposed: “That section 8 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. B. Ryan:  The Minister is in benevolent humour this evening in many ways. Could he explain to me and perhaps to the House the precise significance of section 8? Why is it necessary? Is it to prevent private prosecutions been taken or what is the precise import of section 8?

Mr. Collins:  The effect of section 8 is that proceedings for an offence committed under sections 2, 3 and 4 may not be instituted except where the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been obtained, or the proceedings have been instituted by him. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that trivial or mischievous proceedings which might bring the law into disrepute are not brought and to ensure that where prosecutions are brought the evidence is sufficient to justify the proceedings. The powers of arrest given to the Garda Síochána in section 10 are specifically excluded from the proceedings referred to in this section, as are such persons on remand in custody or on bail, following such an arrest as the court may think necessary. This means that the consent of DPP will not be necessary for such arrests or remands.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 9 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendment.

Agreed to take remaining Stages today.

[1071]An Cathaoirleach:  There are amendments to Report Stage.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I move amendment No. 1:

In page 2, between lines 18 and 19, to insert:

“‘ethnic origins’ means origins which have resulted in a group having, social, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics”.

An Cathaoirleach:  Is that the same amendment that was on Committee Stage?

Mr. B. Ryan:  It is the same amendment that I withdrew on Committee Stage. I would not claim to know the rules of the House as well you, a Chathaoirligh, but I know them fairly well.

The reason I move this amendment is mostly because I wanted an opportunity to record my dissatisfaction with the approach taken by the Minister. I think there is a failure to appreciate the need for this legislation to apply to minority groups that are characteristic of our society and that would not be covered clearly by the Bill as it stands, and in particular the need for the Oireachtas to make a clear statement of intent about how it views incitement to hatred, in particular, against members of the travelling community.

I accept that it is not the intention of either the Minister or the Government that this Bill should be seen as not being wholehearted in attempting to abolish incitment to hatred against travellers. We are not in the business of attributing motives and I am not going to do that. What is quite clear is a failure on a grand scale of comprehension of the depth of fear and the depth of intensity of concern of the travelling people about what is [1072] allowed to be said about them, what is often said by public representatives and indeed sometimes even by Members of the Oireachtas about them. This Bill could have been and should have been used as a clear signal from the Oireachtas that this was no longer tolerable.

The Minister says, and I accept, that it is quite possible to interpret the Bill in a way which would make it clear that the Bill could be used to prevent incitement to hatred of members of the travelling community, but from the point of view of the officers of the law whose duty it is in the first case to gather evidence and to enforce the law, a signal that this Bill included groups other than people who are visibly groups in the conventional sense of the word, and in particular the travelling community, would have been a most useful contribution to the enlightenment of public opinion.

I regret that perhaps because a lack of information, perhaps vision — perhaps even though I doubt it a failure in the quality of my own arguments — the Minister has not been persuaded. I put this amendment down for discussion to offer the Minister the opportunity to put it clearly and firmly on the record that he accepts, even if he does not accept my definition, that ethnic origins means in principle something very similar to the definition I have offered.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Is the amendment seconded?

Mr. J. O'Toole:  I formally second it.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins):  The case made by Senator Ryan is similar to the case made by him during the course of Committee Stage. In prohibiting incitement to racial hatred this Bill seeks to implement a provision of Article 20 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The term “ethnic origins” does not occur in that article. In the Bill the term “ethnic origins” is included in the definition of hatred because the Bill is intended to cover also [1073] the corresponding provisions of Article 4 of the UN Convention against Racial Discrimination.

The Convention against Racial Discrimination uses the term “ethnic origins” but does not define it. The implementing legislation in ratifying states does not appear to have defined the term. It is not defined, for example, in the relative statutory provisions in Northern Ireland or in the UK; in Britain, France, Netherlands, West Germany, it has been left to the courts of ratifying states to define the precise meaning of this term in case law.

I have already mentioned that in England in the House of Lords the 1983 cases of Mandla v. Lee said that the term “ethnic” in section 3 of the Race Relations Act of 1976, was to be construed relatively widely in a broad cultural and historical sense. The judgment said that for a group to constitute an ethnic group for the purpose of that Act two characteristics were essential. First, the group had to have a very long shared history and, second, it had to have a cultural tradition of its own. The judgment went on to say that other characteristics could be relevant in deciding whether a group could be regarded as an ethnic group. The other characteristics included (a) common geographical origin; (b) a common language; (c) a common literature; (d) a common religion and (e) the characteristic of being a minority in a larger community.

It should be clear from this that in deciding in a particular case whether a group is an ethnic group or has common ethnic origins for the purposes of legislation of this kind, many factors have to be taken into account. Because of this, it would not be appropriate to attempt to tie the hands of the court by adopting a rigid statutory definition of the term.

Senator Ryan has suggested that we define ethnic origins as meaning origins which have resulted in a group having certain common characteristics. It could well be argued that in most cases such [1074] common characteristics would result not merely from the origins of the group but from all the influences which were brought to bear on the group from the time when it could be said that they had a common origin. Accordingly, the proposed definition could possibly serve to restrict the meaning of the term “ethnic origins” and, as I have said already, might very well result in excluding from the Bill some groups which would otherwise be covered.

In my view it is best to leave it to the courts to work out in case law the precise ambit of the term “ethnic origins”. If, as has happened in Britain, the term is construed widely by the courts in a broad cultural and historic sense we can be confident of a liberal interpretation of this term. We can also be confident that it will be interpreted with precision by the courts in the light of developing knowledge of the history and background of any groups in our society who could be said to be ethnically separate from the majority community.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I thought for a minute that the Minister was going to reprimand me for introducing an amendment that had been discussed on Committee Stage again on Report Stage but I felt that the Minister would not do that; considering recent history it would not be entirely appropriate.

Mr. Collins:  There is another House for that debate too, and we will have the pleasure of many long hours of discussion on that one.

Mr. B. Ryan:  This Minister has introduced a considerable amount of legislation in this House and that is a welcome fact.

Mr. Collins:  I have another Bill ready.

Mr. B. Ryan:  I have it in my possession. I said I wanted to clarify the matter. The failure that still bothers me [1075] is the fact that there is no guidance to those who have to enforce the law about the possible areas of application of the term “ethnic origins”. They will have to use their own instincts about it. That is both unsatisfactory and a little too optimistic to believe and that is what concerns me. I accept that the courts will ultimately have the final job of deciding what the term “ethnic origins” means but before the courts make a decision somebody will have to be charged before them and to do that somebody will have to interpret incitement to hatred against a group which is not covered by the other terms “national”, “racial”, “religious”, etc. For somebody to do that somebody will have to understand what the phrase “ethnic origins” means.

It would be better if the Minister would give further thought to the need to have some interpretation of this in the Bill to guide the minds of those who are supposed to be implementing this legislation. It is not a matter for the court; it is a matter of getting the issue started, getting the ball rolling. Having said that, I do not propose to push the vote and I would like to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are similar and may be discussed together.

Mr. Norris:  I move amendment No. 2:

In page 3, line 36, after “origins” to add “or other status.”

This is an attempt by Senators Ryan, Ross and myself to be helpful and constructive. We do not intend to take up an enormous amount of time, to be difficult or to filibuster in any way. I am sure the Minister will agree that this is an attempt to meet precisely the arguments the Minister raised. By including after “origins” the phrase “or other status” we are meeting the difficulties that the Minister appeared to be experiencing, meeting the [1076] reservations of those of us on this side of the House and ensuring that this is a Bill with which we can all agree.

The embarrassing phrase “sexual orientation” does not occur in it at all; it is “or other status”. The Minister indicated in what he said that this was the direction in which his natural drift would lead him in framing legislation. We are really genuinely trying to be helpful by producing a situation in which both sides are met and there is an accommodation.

The Minister has graciously accepted other amendments and it would be certainly incomprehensible to me if there was a substantial reason found why this broad phrase which has been used in other countries was found to be unacceptable. I hope the Minister will be able to accept this amendment in a very positive way and then we will have the great pleasure of rapidly passing the Bill from Report Stage into law.

Mr. J. O'Toole:  On a political point, the arguments have all been made and it is nobody's intention to draw out the debate but we have taken this debate a long way this evening. The Bill has been teased out admirably and it has been a good debate. As the previous speaker said, what we are doing here is an attempt to find the middle ground. We have discussed this with many people over the last couple of days and I want to say to the Minister that I have not found anyone who disagrees with our point of view, and that includes people from his own side of the House. In all honesty, that is the position.

I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that when the Bill goes to the other House the same debate will take place all over again. It seems to me that it would harden the Bill up significantly, it would facilitate the passage through the other House by accepting these three words to the Bill at this stage. It is not our determination to be obstructive in any way but we feel that it strengthens the [1077] Bill, it facilitates its passage into legislation and we appeal to the Minister to accept this amendment.

Mr. Collins:  The effect of these amendments would be to broaden to an unlimited extent the categories covered by the Bill. It would leave the word “status” undefined and this word in legal documents commonly refers to such things as marital status which is of no relevance in this Bill. This Bill is intended to cover only those categories listed in the United Nations instruments which are already very wide. This amendment, in my view, would very probably be found by the parliamentary draftsman to be invalid and void because of uncertainty and I very much regret that I cannot be more helpful and positive in my approach to the amendment because of that.

Mr. Norris:  In deference to the dignity and procedures of the House I am not going to call a vote on this but I wish to place on the record my dissent from the entire Bill. I understand I am joined in this by my colleagues Senator B. Ryan and Senator Ross. I have to say that because of the unprecedented attitudes that have been displayed here this evening it is now my intention to withdraw from the House as a protest. I will not vote on the Bill. I greatly regret that it is not in my power morally to vote for this half loaf. I regret very much that the Minister and his advisers have so conspicuously and so determinedly deprived me of the opportunity of voting for a genuine measure against incitement to hatred. Nobody who reads the record of this debate, and in particular the record of the way in which these amendments have been treated, will be left under any illusion that this was anything other than a sham.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Is the amendment withdrawn?

[1078]Mr. J. O'Toole:  The amendment is not withdrawn.

Senator Norris withdrew from the Chamber.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 not moved.

Question, “That the Bill be received for final consideration” put and agreed to.

Question, “That the Bill do now pass” put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  When is it proposed to sit again?

Mr. Lanigan:  It is proposed to sit at 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 7 December 1988.

Mr. McDonald:  I thank the Minister for facilitating what I consider to be a very important matter for a large number of petrol retailers right across the country. May I say at the outset that I support the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972, and I believe it is very necessary to have strict criteria for the transportation and storage of dangerous substances including motor fuels. The Minister's regulations I welcome as necessary. We must have safeguards and standards and in so far as these regulations under the Dangerous Substances Act regulate new modern retail petrol stations or outlets they are necessary and in my view most desirable.

My dismay arises at the way in which these regulations are being implemented by local authorities, and the fact that most old petrol pump stations and longstanding retail outlets find it physically impossible to meet the regulations as laid down. I can tell the House that of 97 [1079] petrol stations or petrol pump outlets in my county only 20 have qualified to receive licences to continue on trading.

My county council's hands are tied as there is the statutory obligation to implement Statutory Instrument 311 of 1979. As I see it, thousands of retailers of petroleum products face the prospect of their livelihoods being taken from them. I appeal to the Minister to amend the regulations or introduce new regulations which differentiate between new retail outlets and retail outlets trading succesfully for the past 55 or 60 years.

In any rural village or town in the country, the majority of outlets are kerbside petrol pumps. How can these traders meet the regulations which say that the pump should be sited 4.25 metres away from the public road? How can these people locate their petrol pumps to meet the regulation which says that the pumps should be situated 4 metres away from a doorway or a window, when you consider that the average width of a pathway in any town or village is normally five or six feet wide? This is the crux of the problem.

It was not the intention of this House or the Oireachtas in 1972 when the Dangerous Substances Bill was being passed that 75 or 80 per cent of the petrol traders in this country should be forced out of business by these new regulations. I accept that we should legislate for improved standards but no Member of the Oireachtas would or did subscribe to the situation where regulations no matter how desirable would force a family business to close down or even relocate for that matter, as to relocate is very costly.

I appeal to the Minister to lift the air of gloom and uncertainty which at present hangs over the heads of thousands of family businesses whose livelihoods depend on the sale of motor fuels. No one has suggested that this is a dangerous business, dangerous to the vendor, the motorist or indeed the passing public. As far as I can see, taking my own county into account in particular, the only fire or [1080] incident at a petrol pump was a small fire which occurred on a fair day in Abbeyleix about 1943 or 1944 when a pipeline from an old petrol tanker to a petrol pump at McCoys, which is long gone since, ruptured and a fire started.

When you think of the usage and the volume of motor fuels consumed in recent years, the fact that there had been no dangerous incidents reported, certainly to my knowledge, is an indication that this is not a dangerous practice. While we should and must have stringent regulations, and enforce the highest standards, the incidents at petrol or retail outlets are so rare as of themselves not to warrant special introduction of regulatory standards. I ask the Minister in the interests of justice and fair play to amend those ministerial regulations, to enable local authorities to adopt a flexible approach, which has the effect of licensing existing outlets but with the maximum safety standards obtainable on the particular location.

I hope the new regulations would be applied not only with fair play but with common sense. I have read through the regulations, both the old statutory instruments and indeed the new ones as announced last Friday. I am not altogether sure about them and I would hope that the Minister will clarify the situation for me. There are three main problems for the ordinary man in the street who is trading and, making a living from the sale of petrol. I suggest that the Seven Sisters or the multinational oil companies would prefer to have just one petrol retail outlet in every town or every county as they do not want to be bothered supplying the small family retail outlet or garage but if their business was being affected they would certainly have kicked up more of a row.

There are three points in the existing regulations: first, the regulation requires that in order to offload fuel from a tanker into an underground tank one requires an area of land for off-street parking for the [1081] lorry. That is absolutely out if you are talking about every town and village in the country. I would hope that there would be some flexibility on that. Second, the resiting of the pumps 4 metres away from the kerb, and, again, that is impracticable in most towns and villages.

If the Minister persists with these regulations, I would like to hear his proposals for compensating people. In our society there is provision for compensation where the State requires people to give up their livelihood. Out of 97 people trading in the petrol business in my county, only 20 qualified for licences. That underlines the gravity of the situation.

I accept that the Minister did not bring in these regulations in order to impose hardship on families. I accept the need for the highest safety standards but with the accident reporting mechanism which the Department have they know what danger exists. While I accept that fire officers and county councils should endeavour to ensure that the maximum number of safety standards and regulations are met, in instances where it is physically impossible by virtue of lack of space, people's livelihoods should be ensured. There should be some degree of flexibility to allow them to continue in business. I appeal to the Minister to look sympathetically at the plight of the hundreds of petrol retailers.

Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. P. Gallagher):  Ar dtús, tá áthas orm an deis seo a fháil chun freagra a thabhairt don Seanadóir maidir leis an cheist seo.

At the outset, I compliment the Senator on his initial remark where he accepts the need for the highest safety standards. Coming from a rural area, I appreciate the difficulties which he experiences and which he outlined to us. The regulations made in 1979 under the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972, set out the requirements and licensing arrangements for petroleum stations. The purpose of these regulations was to arrange for the licensing by local authorities of petrol filling stations and private stores [1082] for the keeping of petroleum spirit and also to prevent risk of injury to persons or property in the storage, conveying, loading, unloading or dispensing operations carried on in connection with petroleum stores. The regulations in question were the Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) Regulations, 1979 (Statutory Instrument No. 311 of 1979). It was intended at the time that the regulations would contain flexibility to enable local authorities to issue licences to existing petroleum stores, in circumstances where those stores, which did not comply fully with requirements, were of an acceptable standard of safety.

Experience has shown that since the 1979 regulations were made, local authorities had difficulty as regards issuing licences, particularly for kerbside stations and that many stations were facing closure. Where there is general agreement that the 1979 regulations were an ideal guide for new petrol stations the intended flexibility as regards many existing petrol stations did not prove to be a reality.

While I acknowledge the good safety record which the retail petroleum industry has enjoyed in this country, the fact cannot be ignored that the industry also has potential for accidents unless proper standards and practices are maintained. Such concern must be balanced with the need to take account of the livelihoods of the operators of the many family-operated kerbside filling stations which comprise between 60 per cent and 75 per cent of retail petroleum outlets. Senator McDonald outlined precisely the situation we have in many parts of rural Ireland and in many towns.

There was concern that customers, particularly in rural areas, would not suddenly find themselves without convenient access to petrol supplies. Accordingly, early in 1988 the Minister set about drawing up amending regulations to resolve this difficulty. Consultations took place between the Department of Labour and [1083] the Department of the Environment. Notice of the Minister's intention to make amending regulations was published in the national newspapers in April of this year so that interested parties could submit their comments. Subsequently, officials of the Department of Labour discussed the proposed amendments with both sides of industry who were in general agreement with the provisions. On 23 November the Minister signed the amending regulations and these will come into effect tomorrow.

The main provisions of the amending regulations allow for the modification of the 1979 regulations to enable local authorities to use discretion in granting licences to petrol stations subject to certain conditions and for a given timescale which, in most cases, is likely to coincide with the natural life expectancy of the underground tanks at these stations. The regulations also provide that certain stations which operate to unacceptable standards should not be allowed to continue to operate for reasons of general safety and provision is made to restrict or prohibit them from operating unless and until specific measures have been taken to reduce the risks to a reasonable level. There may also be stations which could not comply with the minimum standards in the regulations and the local authority could refuse a licence in such circumstances.

In all the circumstances the Minister is satisfied that these amending regulations [1084] provide a satisfactory and well reasoned resolution of the problem. They will not, of course, apply to new stations built after the 1979 regulations came into effect. They will continue to be bound by those regulations.

Discussions have been arranged between officials of the Departments of Labour and the Environment as regards reviewing licence applications from stations which have had licences refused in the past but which might now be eligible for licences under the new regulations. Senator McDonald referred to the necessity to give flexibility to the local authorities. The local authorities are being given more flexibility under the 1988 regulations in considering licence applications and I hope this will meet many of the complaints Senator McDonald has referred to.

It will be a matter for each local authority but I hope that the flexibility will be reasonably standard throughout the country.

Mr. McDonald:  I thank the Minister of State and also the Minister for Labour for the very positive response to the plight which my council raised with the Department some months ago and I am glad that he has introduced regulations which will allow people to qualify for the necessary licence.

The Seanad adjourned at 10.20 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 7 December 1988.