Wednesday, 24 April 1996
Seanad Éireann Debate
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. G. Mitchell): I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in the Seanad on the White Paper on Foreign Policy. One of the Government's primary objectives in publishing the White Paper was to encourage and stimulate a process of discussion and reflection on our foreign policy and the views of the Members of the Seanad will be an important contribution to that process.
I have been encouraged by the reactions to the White Paper since its publication. While there are clear differences of view in certain areas and I am happy to debate those differences, there is a general consensus that the publication of the White Paper was an important and constructive undertaking and that it gives greater coherence and clarity to our foreign policy than any previous document.
The White Paper also aims to speak directly to the public to explain the policies and positions adopted in its name in the field of international relations. Our foreign policy is ultimately a reflection of the values and principles of the Irish people. In order to foster this sense of public ownership, copies of the White Paper have been distributed widely to educational institutions, libraries, local authorities and the media. The Government has also given a commitment in the White Paper to organise further seminars on aspects of foreign policy so as to carry forward the process of public  consultation which was such a successful feature of the preparations for the White Paper.
A central element of the White Paper is the chapter on the European Union and the new Europe. As the White Paper points out our membership of the EU and our participation in the process of European integration have been crucial to Ireland's development. Chapter 3 of the White Paper also demonstrates the breadth of issues affecting the lives of every person in Ireland encompassed by our membership of the EU. There is hardly any area of Government activity that does not have a European dimension.
As the White Paper demonstrates, at the same time as our GDP has grown closer to the EU average our membership of the EU has offered us an opportunity to influence decisions on a larger scale. After 23 years of membership it can be said that Ireland has sought to engage constructively in the process of European integration. It is fair to say our experience within the EU has been very largely positive.
If foreign policy is a statement of the kind of people we are, our membership of the EU forms a large part of that statement. I do not propose to dwell on this issue on this occasion but, on examining this chapter, Senators will keep in mind the varied dimensions of our membership of the EU.
The White Paper also considers the link between foreign policy and foreign trade. This is examined in chapter 11 of the White Paper. A small country such as ours, which has an open economy depends for all its well being on a stable and peaceful international environment, where major investors are sufficiently confident to commit themselves to projects overseas and where exporting firms can develop a long-term relationship with their customers abroad.
Against this background, we have been developing relations bilaterally with countries with which Ireland can hope to do business. By the end of 1995 we had established diplomatic relations with 93 states, including the 38 in which  we have resident embassies. The promotion of trade and investment in conjunction with the relevant State agencies is a major obligation of our overseas missions. The recent crisis in the beef industry illustrates the extent of our dependence on foreign markets and the importance of our relations with other governments. In countries which import large quantities of beef and cattle from Ireland, especially countries outside Europe, Irish embassies were able to use their established channels of communication to assist this vital area of our trade. I am glad to be able to assure the Seanad that following prompt and energetic action of this kind, in close co-operation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and An Bord Bia, the prospects for Irish beef now look much more encouraging than they did a month ago.
The environment in which Ireland's foreign policy is formulated has been radically transformed by the ending of the Cold War. The post-Cold War environment presents numerous challenges to the security of Europe and the world. The threat of global nuclear destruction may have receded but new risks of nuclear proliferation have appeared. We have seen war and ethnic cleansing return to the heart of Europe, genocide in Rwanda and a number of open and bloody conflicts in parts of the former Soviet Union. The risks to the environment, the rise of international crime, the scourge of drugs, these and many other problems are cited by governments throughout the world as issues that cannot be addressed by nations acting individually. They can only be addressed in a meaningful way by co-operative action. The issue of security must be looked at in its broadest sense.
Chapter 4 of the White Paper identifies the central elements of Ireland's security policy over many years, including our policy of military neutrality embodied by non-participation in military alliances. Our approach to the formulation and expression of our security policy will continue to be in  harmony with our outlook and traditions and, at the same time, responsive to the new and still evolving challenges that face us in promoting peace, security and progress at European and global levels.
The White Paper acknowledges that the majority of Irish people have always cherished Ireland's military neutrality and that this policy has served Ireland well. The Government will not propose that Ireland should seek membership of NATO or full membership of the Western European Union.
At the regional level, we will seek to strengthen the OSCE as a permanent organisation for European security co-operation and to further develop its capacity for preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping. The OSCE has endorsed the pursuit of systematic and practical co-operation between European and other regional and transatlantic organisations that share its values and objectives. Both NATO and the Western European Union have gone beyond their core functions as defence alliances and announced their willingness to contribute to conflict prevention and crisis management tasks at the request of the UN and the OSCE. This reflects a developing feature of the new security landscape — the concept of mutually reinforcing co-operation between these institutions.
There is an emerging consensus that the EU should be better equipped to make a contribution internationally in such areas as peacekeeping and humanitarian operations — the so-called Petersberg tasks identified by the Western European Union. It is envisaged that Western European Union involvement in such operations would be at the request of the UN, the OSCE or the EU under its common foreign and security policy. The White Paper states that it is desirable and right that Ireland should be prepared to make a contribution in areas where it has proven capacity and experience. Our other EU partners which have remained outside military alliances — Austria, Finland and Sweden — are, like us, observers at the  Western European Union. They have also shown interest in Western European Union peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks. The Government has decided to discuss with the Western European Union the possibility of Ireland taking part, on a case by case basis, in humanitarian, rescue and peacekeeping tasks under the Petersberg Declaration and to consider such changes as may be necessary in the Defence Acts and Garda Síochána Acts to enable Ireland's Defence Forces and Garda to take part in such operations.
The intergovernmental Conference which began recently in Turin is expected to consider how the CFSP provisions, including through the EU-WEU relationship and the handling of the Petersberg tasks in the framework of that relationship, can best be developed to enhance the EU's contribution to European and global peace and security. This is the challenge that faces all members of the EU, neutral or allied.
The White Paper restates the Government's commitment that the outcome of any future negotiation that would involve Ireland's participation in a common defence policy would be put to the people in referenda, thus ensuring that Ireland's policy of military neutrality will remain unchanged unless the people themselves decide otherwise.
Partnership for Peace — PFP — has already attracted much attention. I regret that some of it has been misinformed. I invite all Senators to read the White Paper closely. The White Paper sets out the reasons Ireland should consider participating in this co-operative initiative which the vast majority of OSCE member states have already joined. PFP has already assumed an important role in European security co-operation, particularly in such areas as training for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, environmental protection and drugs interdiction.
PFP does not involve membership of NATO, the assumption of any alliance commitments or any commitment to future membership of NATO. Austria, Finland, Sweden and Malta have all  joined on this basis. Participation in PFP in no sense impinges on our policy of military neutrality. PFP is a flexible arrangement which allows each participating state to focus on its own interests in the security area: ours are those of peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, and environmental and drugs issues. It is incorrect and misleading to suggest that PFP is somehow a backdoor for Irish entry into NATO. The Government has decided that a final decision on participation should be taken on the basis of further consultations, including consultations with the relevant Oireachtas Committees, and that such a decision should be approved by the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Efforts by the European Union and the international community to promote peace and stability in Europe have been significantly influenced by the experience of the conflict in former Yugoslavia. The crisis in former Yugoslavia graphically illustrates the potential for ethnic conflict and territorial disputes which are far beyond the capacity of individual states to handle effectively.
In recent months we have seen dramatic developments in the peace process there through the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The agreement lays the foundation for lasting peace and stability in the region, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular. The agreement, and the separate agreement on Eastern Slavonia, give rise to optimism that four years of conflict and suffering have given way to an era of hope and reconciliation.
However, the international community must now meet the new challenges generated by this process. Recent events have shown that the peace in former Yugoslavia is a fragile one; the international community must maintain its concerted efforts patiently and persistently to sustain and develop it. This issue is one of the greatest challenges facing the EU's common foreign policy now, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future and during Ireland's EU Presidency.
 Free and fair elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina are a cornerstone of the peace process. The Dayton Agreement stipulates they should be held in September at the latest. It is important that that timetable is respected. A major part of the burden of preparing for and monitoring these elections falls to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Ireland is making a number of personnel available to the OSCE mission. The OSCE will also be assisted in this task by the European Community Monitor Mission. During Ireland's EU Presidency, we will have the leadership of the ECMM and will be providing 80 staff.
Another major challenge for the European Union, and Ireland as next Presidency, will be to provide continued support for the peace process in the Middle East. The White Paper reiterates Ireland's support for the Middle East peace process which aims to resolve a conflict which has been one of the greatest challenges to regional and world peace for the past half century. Unfortunately, even in recent days, we have seen the awful consequences of that continued conflict in Lebanon. The tragedy of Lebanon reinforces the obligation on the entire international community to redouble its efforts to work for a just and lasting peace settlement to the Middle East conflict.
The Government has been intensely involved in efforts to bring about an end to the current violence in Lebanon and northern Israel and to ensure the safety of the Irish UNIFIL battalion. This involvement stems, on the one hand, from our involvement in the EU troika and, on the other, from our role as a UNIFIL troop contributor. The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste strongly condemned the attack on the UNIFIL base in Qana on 18 April and the Government has repeatedly made clear its concerns about attacks on civilians and UNIFIL personnel in south Lebanon.
We have been in constant contact with the Irish UNIFIL contingent and  have been closely monitoring the situation in south Lebanon. We have also monitored and contributed to diplomatic initiatives which have aimed to end the current crisis. I made a substantial contribution to the debate on the situation by EU Foreign Ministers on Monday in Luxembourg and ensured that prominence was given to the safety of Lebanese civilians and UNIFIL personnel in the declaration issued by the Union on that day.
The priority now is to convince all parties in the conflict in Lebanon to contribute to an immediate halt to hostilities and acts of violence so that peace negotiations can resume. We should not forget the progress made in negotiations between Israel and Jordan and between Israel and the Palestinians. It is imperative that the parties build on this progress and move forward to establish a just and durable settlement throughout the Union. We recognise the sacrifices made by all sides in the peace process and the difficult negotiations that lie ahead. The Government will continue to do everything possible, in the context of our EU Presidency and through all other available channels, to bring the current violence to an end and to support and consolidate the Middle East peace process.
While the challenges which we must address grow ever more complex, the fundamental principles underlying Ireland's foreign policy remain the foundation on which policy responses are elaborated. One of the essential principles upon which we have sought to base our foreign policy is the promotion of respect for human rights.
A human rights unit has been established in the Department of Foreign Affairs to co-ordinate the Irish approach on human rights issues including, where necessary, other relevant Government Departments. Promotion of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights are major policy objectives of the common foreign and security policy under the Maastricht Treaty. We will seek to ensure that our  concerns on human rights are given full expression in the common foreign and security policy of the European Union. We will be intensifying our efforts at the United Nations to achieve agreement on a draft statute for a permanent international criminal court.
In its chapter on development co-operation, the White Paper emphasises the interconnection between the economic and social well being of all nations and the maintenance of international peace and security. Irish aid and development co-operation are practical expressions of Ireland's foreign policy commitment to peace and justice in the world. We have long known, both intuitively and from mounting empirical evidence, that lack of development is a fundamental cause of conflict. Today, the extent of that connection is a shocking but easily observed reality. While conflict is not confined to any one region, conflicts are more likely to occur in developing countries.
As stated in the White Paper, this situation poses new challenges for donor countries. New approaches must be identified and gaps in existing responses bridged. The White Paper unequivocally sets out the Government's commitment to the prevention and resolution of violent conflict through peaceful means. Conflict prevention measures include support for the institution of civil society and the promotion of democracy and human rights.
These measures will, of course, continue to be reinforced by Irish aid development policies which have been moulded and adapted over the years in response to the new realities of international conflict, poverty and exclusion. In that context the White Paper commits Irish aid — which this year amounts to a record £106 million — to addressing poverty by focusing in our bilateral programmes on the basic needs of poor people: primary health care, basic education, safe water supply and sanitation and income generating opportunities. It also contains a strong emphasis on capacity building to ensure  that, wherever possible, development activities can be contained and expanded by the relevant authorities and the communities in partner countries. The capacity building efforts of Irish aid will be increasingly concentrated at local and community level and focused on the basic needs sectors.
Irish aid will continue to concentrate its resources on sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, however, we will endeavour to extend the geographical reach of Irish aid through several mechanisms. At the bilateral level, we are committed to a programme of direct bilateral support for development projects in other developing countries, co-operation with non-governmental organisations and the provision of technical assistance. At the multilateral level we will maintain our support for the activities of international development organisations. This involves our contribution, through the European Development Fund, to the aid programmes of the EU and our contributions to the UN development agencies.
One area of the White Paper which has perhaps received less public attention than it deserves is the chapter on the Irish abroad. The tens of millions of people throughout the world of Irish descent are an asset which we tend to take for granted but whose importance should not be underestimated. Many of them assist the Government, directly or indirectly, in the pursuit of our national objectives, for example, in the political sphere by supporting the Government's efforts to achieve a lasting peace and reconciliation on this island and in the economic field by helping investment, exports and tourism.
That there are so many people of Irish descent abroad is a consequence of emigration which has been a feature of Irish life for generations. The Government objective is to keep emigration to a minimum by promoting economic growth and job creation so that as many of our people as wish can remain in Ireland.
An important aspect of the Government's policy regarding emigrants, as set  out in the Government's programme, A Government of Renewal, is to make provision for the election of three Members of Seanad Éireann by emigrants. The House has recently debated this issue. Its views will perform a very important contribution to the consultation process which is under way.
In a statement of this length it is not possible to cover every subject in the White Paper. I hope, nevertheless, that Senators will be wide ranging in their comments and that they will give the other areas of the White Paper on which I have not touched the attention they deserve.
As I said at the outset, there are differences of view on certain areas of the White Paper and I respect these differences. It is important that we discuss the issues openly and sincerely. Ultimately, what we are discussing in the foreign policy field is our common future. The White Paper sets out the Government's vision of where Ireland's place in the world should be and how we should go about taking that place.
If there is a common thread running through all areas of the White Paper it is the inevitability of change in the international system. The world will not stand still as it moves into the next millennium and we cannot hope to defend our interests and make the best use of the opportunities arising unless we are prepared to adapt our policies and approaches to the changing circumstances. As the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs remarked in a statement to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs last week, this does not mean abandoning traditional principles or values. On the contrary, by spelling out these principles and values in the White Paper, we will more easily be able to ensure that our future policies conform to them.
I am honoured to open this debate and to participate in the opportunity by the Government to hear the views of Senators so that we can reflect on them and ensure we approach the new millennium preparing a vision for Ireland's foreign policy for the next century.
If people from Ireland or any other country read this Article and abided by the principles set down in it, many world conflicts would not have escalated and the world would not be in such a state of confusion.
In the past, foreign policy was of little concern to the public. It was concerned with our role in the UN and how we voted there on specific issues. However, following our entry to the EU and because of our involvement in peace keeping roles abroad and the inter-relationship between problems in Ireland and in other countries — the internationalisation of drugs and crime — matters have changed. For example, there is no doubt that the rise in crime in this country has an international basis and must, therefore, be addressed in our foreign policy documents.
There is much in the White Paper with which people will agree but there are also points of disagreement. There are disturbing elements in it suggesting change. The Minister mentioned the Partnership for Peace. The problem as to whether this is a backdoor into membership of NATO must be resolved. Since the heads of the Partnership for Peace are also NATO heads, it must be assumed that the organisation is basically NATO driven.
 What are the foreign affairs concerns of people in Ireland? The situation in the Lebanon is of major concern. In addition, over the past number of months the issue of human rights has been taken up.
If we are talking about a foreign policy and our involvement in Europe, we must see how we can solve some of the problems facing us as a member of the European Community. Unemployment is one area that the European Union has not been able to tackle with the concern it deserves. Somebody said to me recently that the most successful industry in Europe has been the production of unemployment. It is stated that in Ireland more people than ever are employed. However, we are creating employment for a certain group of people. The European Union has failed utterly in its efforts to get long-term unemployed people back into the workforce.
We are supporting the long-term unemployed in every way possible from a social point of view but we have not addressed the question of getting them back into employment. It looks as if the European Union has written off people who are over 40 and have been unemployed for over 18 months. They are trying to increase the support services for these people and leave them on the shelves while putting their efforts into creating jobs for the younger, more mobile people who come on to the jobs market.
A large number of Irish people have come back from serving with APSO or from serving on a voluntary basis abroad. They have seen real poverty and the lack of effort the world is making to solve that real poverty. We have relative poverty in Ireland, but the poverty in sub-Sahara Africa, certain parts of Asia and South America could not be equated with what is considered to be poverty in Ireland. We have the sight and sound of poverty in the media ad nauseam, but the day a third sense, that of smell, can be introduced, people might begin to address the problems of  deprivation and real poverty in the world.
One of my colleagues, who is a member of the Joint Committee on European Affairs, will deal with the European aspects of the document. As I said on the Order of Business, our foreign policy should include a very strong statement on the nuclear industry. This industry has a major impact on us and the other people of the world. We can look at what happened in Chernobyl ten years ago. We should never again allow an industry, which has such negative effects on the human population of the world and our ecology, get into such a state again. It is not only Chernobyl about which we must worry. The European Union must examine the ageing and out of date nuclear industry in Great Britain. We keep shouting about this and it can become emotive and a political football at times.
On behalf of the Irish nation, the White Paper on Foreign Policy should include a strong anti-nuclear policy. If the same energy was put into the destruction and elimination of the nuclear industry as was put into bringing it into being, we could resolve the problems associated with it. I visited Scotland recently and it is quite noticeable that many of the trees in Scotland are affected very badly by acid rain. It is surmised that the acid rain is as a result of Chernobyl and not just the “normal” acid rain we have had throughout Europe over the past number of years.
Ireland's place in the world has been enhanced to a large degree by our bilateral, rather than multilateral arrangements. There is no doubt that the work of NGOs is not recognised as strongly as it should be. Countries in Africa and Asia have had the benefit of our NGOs, which are working hand in hand with those living in the area to solve problems at a local level. The people with whom they are working see them as Irish NGOs. In many countries, Ireland was mistaken for Holland or thought to be attached to Britain, but the NGOs have brought an awareness of Ireland to these countries.
 The work of the NGOs illustrates the value of aid on a one to one basis rather than putting it into the pool of the WHO, the World Bank, the United Nations or the EU. If one were to give a pound to an NGO, generally speaking in Ireland about 99p of it will go to the support for which it is intended. There is a support industry in the United Nations which becomes a sector in society between the well off and the very well off. If one goes to countries, which are very poor for many reasons, one finds this United Nations aid society which in many cases does not help the people to whom it is offered, but it is very valuable for those who work in it. The NGOs must be supported.
I am glad that the White Paper states that accountability in our overseas development aid programme will be of major importance. In the past we did not examine the end results of the moneys contributed. Some £106 million has been contributed this year — hopefully that will increase next year — and it will be accounted for.
Do we look at the results of such programmes when monitoring spending? Many programmes have been a waste of time. It is inevitable that there will be dropouts and failures in some of the countries to which aid is sent. However, that is no reason to stop sending aid to them. There must be accountability to ascertain why certain projects failed and others succeeded. The success rate is higher if there has been a hands on approach through the NGOs rather than through multilateral operations.
I do not think anyone would consider it unusual for me to discuss the negotiations which are taking place this week in the Middle East on the situation in Lebanon and northern Israel. Mr. Eoghan Harris of The Sunday Times thinks I am out of touch with the situation in Lebanon. However, I am probably more in touch than he is with the people who live and work there and who are not members of the Hizbullah or any other organisation. Some of these people are Irish, American and  English. I tabled a motion at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs last week condemning the Israelis for their unprovoked attacks on the civilian population of south Lebanon. I was then told I was a spokesperson for the Hizbullah. Mr. Eoghan Harris and other journalists did not read the motion because it also asked the Hizbullah to stop its attacks on Israel and it asked the Israelis to stop their attacks on Lebanon. However, that did not happen.
In 1993 at the United Nations there was an agreement between the Hizbullah and various other factions that it was legitimate for the Hizbullah to attack an occupying power, the Israelis, in south Lebanon. I am not sure where that stands now. If negotiations succeed over the next few days, we hope that resolution 425 of the United Nations, which states that the Israelis should withdraw, will be implemented. The European Union should help to broker a peace in that area. We are more concerned than many other people about this situation. The French have become involved on a bilateral basis because there are historical links between them and the Lebanese. However, the EU should try to stop the conflict, which is claiming the lives of the south Lebanese who have no connection with the war.
Mr. Warren Christopher is trying to negotiate with President Assad of Syria and people wonder why he is not able to broker a peace in the short term. We hope there will be peace. The United States is seen as the arbiter of the Israelis' foreign policy in the same way that President Assad is the arbiter of what happens in Lebanon. We must ensure that the EU plays a major role particularly in that area and that we do not try to broker a peace, as the French have done, because of past or future self interest.
I had a postcard from Beirut two days ago which described the situation there as horrific. The schools are filled with refugees and the food is running out. I am glad the United Nations is sending 30,000 tons of food to Beirut. This highlights  the scale of the problem. ESB International had just finished working on an electricity transformer to give people electricity 24 hours a day when the Israelis blew it up last Tuesday. That is not attacking the Hizbullah but the people of Beirut. We must realise that a number of conflicts will not be resolved on a bilateral basis. I ask the EU to become more involved that it has been in the past.
An international criminal court was mentioned to deal with criminal conduct in various areas of conflict. An international commission on war crimes was set up to deal with what happened in Rwanda. Although the Government said it would send people to that commission, no lawyer has yet left Ireland to serve on it. There are thousands of people in jails in Rwanda and although some are guilty of war crimes, others are not. If we give commitments to international bodies, we should stick by them.
I hope the debate on this matter continues because it covers many areas of concern to us, such as employment, human rights and peacekeeping. It does not impact on what happens outside our shores. The White Paper on Foreign Policy not only gives us the opportunity to discuss where we are going, but it also gives the people the chance to comment on it. It is a good discussion document.
Mr. Enright: I congratulate the Tanáiste for introducing the White Paper on Foreign Policy, Challenges and Opportunities Abroad. It is the first White Paper on Foreign Policy to be published in this country. It sets out our approach to other countries and it tries to formulate a policy on different areas. It is long overdue. The Tanáiste, the two Ministers of State, Deputy Gay Mitchell and Deputy Burton, the staff in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the diplomatic service deserve our thanks and congratulations for their work to date. It is a comprehensive document which should be welcomed.
The Minister and those involved in the preparation of this document are  anxious that the people and Irish people overseas would also have an input into our foreign policy. Part of the aim of the White Paper is to encourage people who may not have considered helping to formulate policy up to now, to consider such an approach. This is most important.
I am a member of the overseas development aid subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ireland's approach to overseas development aid has been positive and constructive. The Irish aid programme was incepted in 1974 and, as the White Paper points out, virtually every family has had an involvement with Ireland's overall aid effort. In every locality somebody has had an interest or involvement in some way, perhaps through relatives, with work in developing countries.
Since 1982, Ireland has spent £612 million on official development assistance and almost £106 million will be spent this year, the highest ever Irish contribution to the developing world. Ireland is making a special effort to try to reach our ultimate aim of 0.7 per cent of GNP. I do not know whether that figure will be achieved but we should make a genuine effort to reach that target. It is in everybody's interest to do so.
I wish to express my concern, and that of most people, about the continuing huge debt crisis which is causing such horrific problems in developing countries. Many emerging countries, particularly in Africa, are crippled by overhanging debts. Ireland is a small country with a national debt. If there is a surplus and the Government tries to reduce the debt by withholding tax concessions, it is highly unpopular with the electorate. This is understandable, but Ireland's democracy is strong — it goes back to the foundation of the State, and most countries in Europe have equally strong systems. However, no country in Europe has the overhanging debt crisis facing some African countries. If the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank continue to seek the repayment of these loans, the small chance of  democracy emerging in these countries will be wiped out, existing democracies will be crippled and eventually suffocated and tyrannical governments will take over. This is not good enough: this issue must be addressed.
The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank took place in recent days. They considered a joint proposal to tackle the problems of severely indebted low income countries. However, we should be clear about what precisely was on the agenda of those meetings. There was no proposal to wipe out some of the debts or reduce them considerably but rather to restructure the loans. However, refinancing the loans is not desirable at present and the choice of one of two options is urgently required.
The first option is a considerable write off of the debts due, while the second — which is a resolution of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs — is that the IMF sells part of its gold reserves for debt cancellation. This might seem highly unusual to some people but it received the backing of a number of governments. However, the strong governments of France and Germany opposed the proposal. It is essential that this matter is examined because if it is not, there will be anarchy in a number of African countries. It is essential that the debts are renegotiated and, when this is done in terms of the provision of finance, that an effort is made to assist and target the areas and people most in need and provide them with the essentials for living.
The accumulation of debts has restricted the freedom for new economic initiatives in those countries. We know the way it has worked. I visited a number of these countries and saw the conditions in which these people live. I was horrified at what humans could do to fellow humans. I visited Africa in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s and I regret to say that the situation there appears to be worsening rather than improving. The level of poverty is emotionally upsetting and alarming, particularly when one considers how  little is being done about it. Europe and some of the developed countries should consider, even on the basis of selfish motives, that if African countries and the other nations were assisted now, they might be of benefit to us in the future. However, if the current situation continues and organisations continue to call in debts, problems will be caused for everybody in the future. Justice and equity must be adhered to and these debts must be examined in a new light.
The White Paper mentions the need for a permanent international criminal court; the Minister also mentioned this point today. President Robinson has been a strong advocate of such a court for many years. She is right when she talks about the need for such a criminal court given the level of crime in a number of countries, particularly Rwanda where genocide has been freely practised. The perpetrators of these crimes must be brought before a court and tried. The tribunal has been slow to bring indictments against the people it knows committed these crimes and Rwanda has a poor human rights record. This matter must be examined and Ireland should strongly support the concept of an international criminal court. It is essential that we do so and are seen to be actively involved in it.
In the introduction to the White Paper the Minister for Foreign Affairs refers to Northern Ireland and the fact that no section deals with it or Anglo-Irish relations. I believe that approach is correct. He states:
At the time of writing, the situation brought about by the cease-fires with all its challenges and opportunities, is gravely imperilled. The golden opportunity to build a new political order on the island and to improve the material well-being of all Irish people, North and South, is in danger of being lost due to a resumption of violence. It is the absolute resolve of the Government to pursue every avenue through which peace might be restored and to move the peace process  steadily towards the goal of all-Party negotiations.
In the context of this White Paper, however, I do think it is appropriate to say two things about Northern Ireland. Since 1969, the engagement of our diplomatic resources in all aspects of this issue has been pronounced and intensive.
Since 1969 there has been all party agreement on our approach to Northern Ireland and party leaders have been thoughtful and generous to each another in their statements. I hope that approach will continue. No party has sought to gain political advantage over another in dealing with Northern Ireland and I hope this common-sense approach will prevail. I am worried by remarks made last weekend by the Leader of the Opposition. We must be careful and prudent in our thoughts and when expressing our views.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs mentioned 1969, which I remember well. We were fortunate in the person we had as Taoiseach at that time — Mr. Jack Lynch. We were in Opposition and the then Taoiseach and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Liam Cosgrave, had a great relationship. They were two people of like mind who worked together and saw the seriousness of the situation and the turmoil which could have been caused throughout the country. However, because of their common-sense approach that was prevented. Even today we must be careful about what we say and do and we must be generous to each another.
The document also refers to former Yugoslavia, where I holidayed in 1972. It was one of the most magnificent countries a person could visit and I went to many of the places which have since been bombed and where there has been such death and destruction. We must be careful and prudent in what we say and maintain our generous approach to each other.
 The Minister dealt with BSE, its effects on cattle exports and taking cattle into intervention. I congratulate the Taoiseach, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the Tánaiste and other Ministers on their work in this regard. This country still faces a major crisis as regards live cattle exports and the placing of beef in intervention. The European Union has not been too generous in increasing the amount of beef we are being allowed to place in intervention. Thousands of farmers, who are unable to sell their livestock into intervention or to Libya, Egypt or to other countries, face ruin because of heavy overdrafts and commitments.
It is essential that we use diplomatic means to ensure a ready market for beef exports. This beef scare could have a detrimental effect on our economy because of the number of farmers who face ruin. I urge the Tánaiste and all Ministers to continue their hard work. This crisis came upon us suddenly, although we had taken positive steps by slaughtering cattle infected by BSE. Thankfully, incidents of this disease have been negligible, only .0002 per cent, and we have slaughtered the animals concerned. Diplomats in our embassies and overseas offices still have a job to do assuring people about the safety of this wonderful product and our farmers have a lot of work at home. We must work to protect this important industry.
I wish to refer to nuclear power stations, about which I am concerned. We have seen the threat to the east coast from the nuclear power station and reprocessing plant at Sellafield. The accident at Chernobyl, which had horrific consequences for those living there, will bedevil that area for many years. We must ensure greater safeguards are taken. There are no nuclear power stations in Ireland and I hope that policy will continue. European nuclear stations should be regularly monitored to ensure safety. I congratulate the Minister for Foreign Affairs and I wish him well in proceeding with this White Paper on Foreign Policy.
Mr. Maloney: I welcome the opportunity to speak in this important and historic debate. Our foreign policy has served us well over the years and it has produced a number of benefits which we now experience. Given the pivotal importance of foreign policy, it is surprising that this is the first time a Government has published a White Paper on Foreign Policy. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Spring has transformed the area of foreign policy. The publication of the document Challenges and Opportunities Abroad is a reflection of the Labour Party's commitment to foreign policy and its belief in the central role it plays in the lives of the people.
When the publication of a White Paper on Foreign Policy was first proposed, the Minister was told if it works do not fix it, which totally misses the point. The publication of this White Paper does not mean we believe present foreign policy is failing us. As I stated, the Labour Party believes our foreign policy has served us well over the years. Discussion regarding foreign policy should be cultivated because of the important role it has played in Ireland's national and international affairs.
The Tánaiste stated that he had two main motivations when he first mooted the exercise of publishing a White Paper. First, he wished to stimulate greater public debate on, and understanding of, foreign policy in order to produce a deeper sense of public owner-ship of that policy. The second initiative behind the White Paper was to enable our foreign policy to take its bearings in the rapidly changing environment created by the ending of the Cold War. This led to the emergence of a radically different political configuration in Europe, with implications for the European Union and Ireland's place within it. It is for these reasons that the publication of the White Paper was imperative. Challenges and Opportunities Abroad represents an effort to get the best out of Ireland's foreign policy. It effectively deals with the challenges facing Ireland within the context of a changing Europe and a changing world.
 Membership of the European Union has been integral to Ireland's development. Through that membership we are in the mainstream of European decision-making and this will be reflected in our forthcoming Presidency of the European Union. During that Presidency, priority must be placed on the fight against drug trafficking and crime. Europe as a whole has a much better chance to solve this cancer which afflicts the entire world. I believe that the White Paper should place more emphasis on attacking the problems of crime and drug trafficking. Ireland has underdeveloped facilities at its airports and ports which allow drug barons and criminals to extend the cancer of the drug culture into society.
Most Irish people associate foreign policy with the Northern Ireland peace process. However, the White Paper does not address the question of Northern Ireland as the situation there is evolving on a daily basis. This does not take away from the fact that securing a peaceful and prosperous Ireland within the European Union remains the main focus of our foreign policy.
Ireland's contribution to world history is probably disproportionate to its size. At present, the contribution of Irish people in developing countries is well documented and respected throughout the world. Ireland's relations with developing countries remain one of the fundamental planks of our foreign policy. This relationship is multifaceted and is an example to many other countries.
Ireland has also made a significant contribution to the area of peacekeeping. The White Paper points out that since 1958 over 42,000 members of the Defence Forces and Garda Síochána have served with distinction as UN peacekeepers. Our record on peacekeeping is something of which we can be proud and represents a major contribution to international peace and security. I had the pleasure to visit Somalia when the Irish Army contingent was present and I also visited Lebanon with the current  Minister for Defence, Deputy Barrett. We visited the Irish soldiers on behalf the UN subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. It was a pleasure to see the way in which Irish troops and gardaí were accepted in those countries. They seemed to find it easy to communicate with the people there and created an environment which facilitated the solving of problems.
Members of Ireland's Defence Forces, Garda Síochána, NGOs and nurses and doctors who travel to such countries must be commended for the very important role they play in their development. In support of the current Minister for Defence, Deputy Barrett, I must state that he was an excellent ambassador for Ireland at all times in this communication with ordinary people in those countries and also the members of the Irish Defence Forces and Garda whom we met. I commend him for his attitude.
These are two well publicised aspects of contemporary Irish foreign policy but, important as they are, they do not represent the full depth of that policy. Irish foreign policy goes far beyond these two aspects. It also embraces issues of human rights, international co-operation, cultural relations, arms control, Irish citizens abroad, etc. That is why it is important to foster a debate on foreign policy and a sense of public ownership of that policy.
I wish to refer now to the section of the White Paper which deals with the Common Fisheries Policy. I live in the constituency of Donegal North East where fishing is a major industry. As implementation and development of the White Paper progresses, more emphasis should be placed on the fishing industry. This problem is now being experienced on a world scale. With regard to Ireland, many of the difficulties involved relate to external threats to the Irish fishing industry. The Spanish fishing fleet, which is the world's third largest, poses a threat to the Irish fishing community because it has overfished its own waters. The Spanish fleet has turned its attention  to Irish waters to meet Spain's immense demand for seafood.
Under EU regulations, only 40 Spanish vessels are permitted to fish in the Irish Box at any time. This law is enforced by seven Irish patrol vessels and through co-operation from other EU nationals. The Irish Government has acknowledged the need for more patrol vessels. The Departments of Defence and the Marine are committed to adding another such vessel to the fleet. During the past ten to 12 years, Ireland received a bad deal in relation to fisheries. The relevant Act will again be ratified in the year 2,000 and it is important that this matter be rectified in favour of the Irish fishing industry in which major potential exists to create employment. The White Paper outlines, in a small number of paragraphs, Ireland's attitude to the Common Fisheries Policy. However, we must be more gregarious, serious and demanding in our approach to this situation. There is tremendous potential, of which Ireland has not availed to date.
I wish to make some remarks on what has become one of the most contentious and misconstrued issues in the White Paper. I refer to the section dealing with the Partnership for Peace. This was launched at the NATO summit in Brussels in January 1994 as a co-operative security initiative designed to intensify political and military co-operation in Europe, promote stability, reduce threats to peace and build strengthened relationships by promoting practical co-operation among its participants. To suggest that involvement with this partnership is tantamount to joining a second class NATO is simply a gross and absurd exaggeration. Countries with a long and proud record of neutrality, such as Sweden, are members of the Partnership for Peace. Surely no one would suggest that Sweden has abandoned its neutrality by joining that partnership?
The White Paper reaffirms Ireland's neutrality and states that Irish Defence Forces will be involved in humanitarian, rescue and peacekeeping operations. It  is within this context that the Government intends to explore the possibility of participating in the Partnership for Peace. However, the Tánaiste has already stated that in Ireland's case the central plank of involvement in the Partnership for Peace would be the enhancement of peacekeeping capabilities. The Government will not propose that Ireland should seek membership of NATO or the Western European Union.
Another welcome aspect of the White Paper is the recognition of the fact that the tens of millions of people of Irish descent throughout the world are an important asset which should not be underestimated. These people are proud of their Irish lineage and many of them assist us in the pursuit of our national objectives. An example of this is the contribution some of these people have made to the achievement of lasting peace and reconciliation in our country. While foreign policy has been viewed in a somewhat narrow way in the past, its effects are becoming more prevalent in contemporary Irish society and its effects on all our daily lives are recognised.
Our development as a nation over the last number of decades has been seriously affected by our membership not only of a European community but also a global community. It is to be hoped that the publication of this White Paper will generate a public debate on foreign policy. It is important that this debate takes place since foreign policy is a significant part of our sense of identity. In addition, other EU member states have brought forward or intend bringing forward, policy statements regarding the European Union. These challenges and opportunities will make for an invaluable contribution by Ireland to this debate.
Mr. Sherlock: I welcome the Minister. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of being in the House with him. Media coverage of the White Paper has focused on Ireland's security arrangements. My colleague, Deputy Kathleen  Lynch, comprehensively stated Democratic Left's views in this regard during her contribution in the other House. Security arrangements, however, account for just one chapter out of sixteen. It is extremely depressing that the media and the political establishment alike have largely ignored issues such as development co-operation, human rights and the environment, as well as justice co-operation within the EU. The White Paper challenges us as a society in these areas. It builds on a tradition of solidarity which is evident among the Irish people every time a humanitarian catastrophe strikes.
I especially welcome the section dealing with international human rights. The priority which this Government accords to the development of human rights was emphasised by the formation of a human rights unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs. This focus is copper-fastened by the decision to establish an interdepartmental committee on human rights and to form a permanent standing committee which will include NGO representatives.
Unfortunately, high ideals are often made subservient to economic considerations. In this regard, I urge the Government to seize the opportunity to impose strict human rights conditions on trade agreements. One need only think of our growing trade with Indonesia and the growing human rights crisis in East Timor to realise the importance of such conditions. I particularly welcome the White Paper's emphatic reaffirmation of the principles contained in the 1993 Vienna Declaration which implicitly rejects the idea that human rights are culturally specific.
The universality of human rights and the parity between individual and collective human rights must be at the centre of Irish and European human rights policy. Among the most fundamental human rights are the right to freedom from hunger, the right to a clean water supply, the right to health care, the right to education and the right to work. They are rights which we in Ireland take for  granted, but which are still aspirational for many in the developing world. The chapter on development co-operation sets out a number of welcome goals in this area. They can be summed up by the statement in paragraph 9.6 of the White Paper, which outlines the Government's aim to “reduce poverty and promote sustainable development in some of the poorest countries in the world”. “Sustainable” is the key word here. We cannot allow the developing world to become a social and environmental dumping ground for the developed world. I also welcome the commitment to establish a humanitarian liaison group which will co-ordinate the response of Government and NGOs to humanitarian emergencies.
There is one omission in this chapter. While reiterating the Government's commitment to reaching the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP, the White Paper does not specifically endorse the commitment in paragraph 83 of the Programme for a Government of Renewal to increase development assistance by 0.05 per cent of GNP each year. I hope that this was a simple oversight, and I would welcome the Tánaiste's clarification on this point.
Aid and trade are, of course, closely linked. Much of the developing world is currently trying to cope not only with an ever increasing debt burden but also a world trade order which is skewed in favour of the north rather than the south. At a time when political democracy is making slow but measurable advances, international financial institutions are found to be profoundly undemocratic. Developing countries have, in effect, been forced to transfer their economic sovereignty to two remote and unrepresentative bodies — the World Bank and the IMF. Their policies are dictated by the developed world. It is ironic that the World Bank and the IMF should continue imposing neo-liberal economic policies on the developing world at a time when Reagonomics and Thatcherism have been discredited in the developed world.
 In exchange for balance of payment loans, the structural adjustment policies imposed on developing countries require them to reduce their budget deficits, liberalise imports, deregulate internal markets and promote exports. The inevitable result of the monetarist corset imposed on such a large part of the developing world has been declining public investment in economic and social infrastructures. The investment shortfall has also hit employment intensive industries. At the same time, the export led strategy has been a two pronged disaster. Developing countries have been forced to export foodstuffs in order to attract hard currency while increased commodity exports have, in some cases, led to a sharp fall in commodity prices.
The brunt of the structural adjustment policies has been borne by the weakest sections of the societies concerned. The net result of these policies was to cause average incomes in Africa to fall by around 20 per cent during the 1980s while unemployment rose to around 100 million, and the continent's share of world markets dropped to just 2 per cent.
Oxfam termed the 1980s as the “lost decade” in development terms. There is a very real danger that the 1990s will be seen as another “lost decade” unless the governments of both the north and the south insist on a radical transformation of development policies accompanied by a root and branch overhaul of the World Bank and the IMF. In this regard I welcome the acknowledgement in the White Paper that the option of debt cancellation must be examined. I hope this Government will press in international fora for such a cancellation.
In the White Paper, the Tánaiste, his Government colleagues and the officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs have produced a set of innovative and challenging policies. Many of those policies, especially in the area of development co-operation, will strike a chord with the Irish people who have consistently demonstrated their commitment to issues such as human rights, development  co-operation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Mr. Farrell: I welcome the White Paper on Foreign Policy. Many people wonder what is foreign policy? Some of them think it only consists of Third World countries, the Lebanon, etc. However it affects our relations with European and other countries. Foreign policy with our nearest neighbour is slipping at the moment. The peace process seems to have come to a standstill and the Minister should work harder in this regard. We seem to have three Taoisigh speaking on foreign policy. Only one of them should do so because, as the old saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth. All three Government party leaders are setting themselves as an authority and that does not create confidence. Only one man should be responsible for foreign policy.
Mr. Farrell: If we want to appoint a woman, then we should do so on a full-time basis. We should not have pressmen contradicting one another and twisting what each said before they read it. This aspect needs to be attended to immediately. Since Deputy Albert Reynolds and John Major stopped talking directly to each other, matters seem to be on a slippery slope. If this matter is not resolved, we will all be in for a rude awakening.
Our soldiers are doing great work in UN peacekeeping duties. However, many of them may be suffering from stress of one type or another after finishing their duties. Soldiers coming back from the First and Second World Wars used to call it shell shock; it is now called post traumatic stress disorder. An international insurance scheme should be set up to deal with that problem. The  taxpayer should not have to pay for this. While these soldiers are entitled to treatment if they have suffered traumatic experiences which has affected their health, payment for this treatment should come from an international fund and not from the taxpayer. It should be part of our foreign policy to establish such an insurance fund.
If people on the street were asked about the meaning of foreign policy, one might get some varied answers. However, they would all know about foreign trade. We should be pushing this aspect to a greater degree. Ireland is a small country and there is no reason why we should have unemployment. There is only a handful of people living in this country in comparison to other countries, all capable and able of using their hands, heads and ability to make products; but we are not selling our products actively enough abroad. We have embassies abroad but we do not have salespeople. We are not maximising our potential to sell our products. Many small firms can make a product but they do not have the money, expertise or ability to sell it. While State agencies like Forbairt are doing their best, our population base is too small for our volume of sales. Therefore, we must export our products and we need salespeople to do this.
We have been educating our children for safe jobs in the Civil Service. That practice is now a thing of the past. Our children must be taught to earn their living. Our foreign policy should be developed in such a way as to have facilitators who could put firms in contact with important foreign agencies. It may be easy to get into foreign markets, but a guarantee system should be put in place for these small firms. I used to run a small firm that could get good orders for its product. However, when a customer was deciding which product to buy, there was no one there to take the risk of helping the firm to sell its product.
We have insurance for our beef exports and that is a good thing. Were it not for one man, who was badly  maligned in the Houses of the Oireachtas, the west would be full of paupers. If he had not found markets abroad, we would not be able to give our cattle away. However, a producer who loses out in a foreign business deal has no such security. That aspect should be part of our foreign policy. We need people who will sell our producers' products. One cannot expect our businessmen to be manufacturers, salespeople etc. They might be able to sell in this way at home or in Britain, but they cannot do this abroad. Provision should be made in our foreign policy to encourage more small units to come together and facilitate each other to put our products into foreign markets. We want foreign currency to come in and the raw materials to go out.
Senator Enright said earlier that we would be in a bad way were it not for our embassies working on behalf of our beef industry. This shows how dependent we are on our foreign markets. We must keep our cattle exports at a high level because otherwise this country will become a wasteland. Are we doing enough to sell our beef? We are the only country which rears our agricultural produce from a natural grass base but that aspect has not being marketed enough.
Intensification has damaged our agriculture industry. On the continent herds of cows go into a building and, as the late Deputy Blaney said, they never see daylight from that day until they go to the knacker's yard. They are fed with imported meals from America and elsewhere and are dealt with on a rotational basis all day.
Mr. Farrell: Exactly. In the past we conducted what is now called organic farming. We called it traditional farming and produced traditional goods. I have no doubt intensified farming is causing many health hazards. These animals are put into intensified units and are fed  with drugs and chemicals. This cannot be good. We should make an all out effort to promote traditional farming. In that way our small farmers could get back into production.
We should put more emphasis on environmental protection in our foreign policy. We are losing many of our birds and much of our wildlife because there is no food for them. When every small farmer was ploughing and sowing corn and potatoes, there was food for wildlife and natural food for our animals. If we are to get people to move back to the west, if we are to be able to produce quality products, it is time our foreign policy started to promote natural produce and that we move away from using slurry and so on which pollutes the country and get back to solid organic manure and used bedding straw. We did not have as many problems with diseases and so on in the past. In our foreign policy and in other European countries we should be promoting ourselves as the only country that produces natural products.
We should encourage more production of free range eggs. You could not sell a dozen free range eggs today anywhere in this country but on the farms where they are produced. They cannot be sold in shops because there are so many regulations and rules. It is time we had a good look at this and intensified the production of free range eggs, bacon and beef. This should be all part of our foreign policy because we would reduce our problems here and we could export the goods with a label on them to say that they were not chemically produced. Chemical farming has been imported into this country. It has been a disaster and it will continue to be a disaster.
That is the way I see foreign policy and foreign trade affecting the ordinary man in the street. I know Cambodia, Lebanon and so on are very relevant, but that is from a different perspective. The man in the street wants to know how it affects him. I hope I am making it clear here how it affects the ordinary man in the street. Part of our foreign policy should be to ensure that we get our produce abroad and market it as  quality natural produce, produced as it has been down the centuries.
Sales people should be facilitated and there should be some system of guarantees for small industry so that at least there is some insurance policy until they are making sufficient profits to export without help. Otherwise we will have to pay these people dole. The State will have to pay them and there is no return on the State's money. It would be far better to take a chance on putting that money into a surety system for small industries to encourage them to keep people working at home. It would be better for morale. This is the way I see foreign policy affecting the man in the street. I appeal to the Minister to look at it in that light because at the end of the day what we want from foreign policy is a return and money coming in for goods we produce here.
Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Trade (Mr. O'Sullivan): I do not wish to disturb the agreed procedure here, but my understanding was that the debate was to continue until 6 p.m., is that correct?
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: That is correct, if there were speakers offering. But as no further speakers are offering at this stage, the proposal is to adjourn the debate now. It will be resumed at a future date. Many of the Senators who wish to speak on this debate are at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
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