Dáil Éireann - Volume 275 - 05 November, 1974
Vote 46: Foreign Affairs (Resumed).
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: I had been outlining various areas of Government  inactivity, in which it was all too painfully obvious that the Government showed a lack of urgency or confidence in their attitude towards Northern Ireland. I also indicated, in view of this lack of public concern and the lack of firm initiative from the British Government, that it was not surprising one found the degree of intransigence in the Loyalist community and in the Loyalist political grouping so evident in recent times. They have felt quite free to defy any suggestion that anything other than their will should be done in Northern Ireland. Nevertheless we have the statement of intent from the British Government that they will require power-sharing in any new administrative arrangements for Northern Ireland and, equally that there should be some recognition of an Irish dimension. Once again it seems the Loyalist community, through their political representatives, have indicated they will not accept these conditions.
If the Convention gives rise to the expected Loyalist majority and if the British Government persist in their attitude, as they should do, we may have a confrontation and an impasse between the majority in that Convention and the British Government. The alternatives for the administration in Northern Ireland, through a Convention or direct rule, have been discussed from time to time. Another alternative has been the suggestion of an independent Ulster, although it has not been discussed to any degree in this House. One thing is clear in that connection, namely, the British Government have made it clear they will not financially support an independent Ulster; in fact, such an independent Ulster would rid them of their responsibility and if it were to happen they would not have any further obligation towards the Northern Ireland community. It is obvious such a declaration would have drastic economic consequences for Northern Ireland.
On the other hand, there is an alternative that has not as yet been promoted or discussed to any considerable extent. I am sure our hardheaded colleagues and fellow-Irish-December  men in Northern Ireland would be greatly influenced by the fact that their financial position and future could be better promoted in another way. Incidentally, the quality of hardheadedness is one that would greatly contribute to the national ethos. I am referring to a possibility of a commitment from the British Government, in conjuction with our Government, that there would be a phased financial contribution towards the administration of Northern Ireland, taking into account the Irish dimension.
At this point the British public wish to be out of Northern Ireland. They realise that it has been costing them a considerable amount of money for quite a time. If the money that has been applied so uselessly for such a long period, particularly in recent times, could be applied more positively, the opportunity to exploit that possibility at least should be considered and promoted.
Apart from the British Government indicating they would accept the decision of the majority of the Northern Ireland people, they should actively support moves towards cooperation in this country by way of institutions which could effect that co-operation. Here I take issue with statements made by the Minister when he was in these benches and when he expressed support for a Northern Ireland poll. We have always held the view that such a poll far from helping the situation would serve to perpetuate the divisions and experience has proved that to be correct.
There is one effective and positive way to actively support moves towards co-operation, namely, for the British Government to indicate what they would be prepared to do prior to their eventual withdrawal from the Northern Ireland involvement. If they were to say that over a certain period, say ten or 15 years, they would contribute during these years at least as much as they had contributed in the last years —moneys which have been to a considerable extent wasted and which have shown little result—we in our turn as a sovereign Government would equally commit ourselves to  contribute our share, although in the first instance this would have to be small in comparison with the contribution from the British Exchequer. Then we could start moving together in a real sense to the benefit of the community in the North of Ireland and also to the benefit of the community of all Ireland. There is the possibility of channelling funds from the EEC through the institution that would be established towards effecting co-operation between both parts of the country and this would offer great potential for economic and social development.
The reality of the situation is that the British public and their public representatives want to get out of Northern Ireland as soon as they can. We should take account of this fact and we should ensure our inspirations, wishes and intentions for the whole of Ireland will not be infuriated by any attempt by Britain to withdraw without fulfilling her obligation. She has a real financial obligation arising from the dependence that was foisted on the North of Ireland for a considerable time when Britain was fulfilling an imperial world role.
At the time of the Sunningdale Agreement I mentioned here that there were two or three references in the communiqué to Britain's financial interest in Northern Ireland but I questioned why there was no reference to Britain's financial obligation to Northern Ireland. It is time we began to remind Britain of that financial obligation, an obligation which, if this suggestion were to be followed, could be discharged by her to her own advantage in meeting the wishes of her people who, clearly, are showing signs of fatigue in so far as Northern Ireland is concerned.
Whether for political or other reasons it will not be too long until that very widely held view of the British public will reflect itself in a very active response on the part of British politicians. We should take account of that and should ensure that it can achieve benefits for the whole community here. Also, it would be a very positive move towards fulfilling our aspirations of reunification by means of peace and consent.
Dr. FitzGerald Dr. FitzGerald
 Dr. FitzGerald: On a point of clarification, is the Deputy referring to a phased withdrawal of British troops, to a phasing out of the British contribution or to some phasing out of British sovereignty? He has not made clear to me what he has in mind.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: In the first instance I am referring to a statement of support from Britain. We have requested previously that they would support any moves towards co-operation in this island, effected through 32-county institutions; secondly, that they would follow that by a statement of their intention to give effect to that support by way of financial contributions to such an institution and during a stated period, to whatever power-sharing administration one would have in Northern Ireland. I am suggesting that we, too, would have obligations in that connection and that when there would be signs of economic and social development the services of the British Army could be withdrawn gradually. As the Minister conceded, the presence in the North of the British Army has for some time been a source of irritation and is not achieving any results in so far as the quest for peace is concerned.
What I am suggesting are heads for discussion. Obviously there is no instant panacea to solve the problem. As the financial commitment would be implemented, the military involvement could be lessened so that at the end of the day there could be military withdrawal corresponding with the final stage of the financial commitment. However this is a matter that would warrant much discussion before any conclusion could be reached in regard to it. Obviously this is an area the Minister has not considered so far, but I hope there will be consideration of it. Of course it is not a question that one could argue to a conclusion in a debate of this nature.
In any such institution there would have to be a balance of representation in favour of the Northern Ireland majority. We have recognised always that they have fears, ill-founded though those fears may be. If they are required to engage in power-sharing  they would expect us to support the same principle in relation to any institution that they would share with us. So far as this side of the House is concerned we would favour a disproportionate balance in favour of the Northern Ireland majority. We said this, too, in relation to the once proposed Council of Ireland.
The years of separation and distrust have caused suffering to a great extent in the North and to a lesser extent here; but we should be able now to work together towards harmony and for our mutual benefit. The Northern majority may not be able to get a financial commitment from the British Government, but we could negotiate very effectively with the British Government in some such arrangement as I have indicated.
If there is a characteristic of the Protestant ethic in the North of Ireland or elsewhere in Europe it has been that, down through the centuries, it has been noted for its independence, for its tolerance and for a determined commitment to the liberty of the individual. However to a certain extent that ethic has been subverted in the North and used to ill-effect by those people's unreal dependence on another power, a dependence which for a considerable time they have considered necessary but which they must come to realise is anything but necessary. It is a dependance which both the British public and the politicians wish to see ended as soon as possible.
Another aspect of our relations with the British Government arises in connection with the recent blockade of our cattle at Holyhead. In this regard there are two points I wish to make. First, it is recognised that this is contrary to the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement and, secondly, that it is contrary to our rights as members of the EEC and also to the obligations which the British Government accepted when they acceded to the EEC.
Today the Government said that they did not wish to exacerbate relations between our two sovereign Governments. However this same Government, through some of their Ministers, have indicated that if the British Government  do not act to the satisfaction of our Government in this connection, we might be obliged to consider reprisals in the nature of a blocade of trade between Britain and this country. I do not know whether a statement of that kind is intended to promote understanding between the two Governments but in the first instance it must be said that the British Government have at least condemned formally what is being done by way of a blockade of our cattle exports to their country but I would remind our Government and, through them, the British Government, that the agreements which we entered into with them—the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement or any other agreement arising from our mutual membership of the EEC—are only effective and can only be respected when it is clear that the Governments that are party to them ensure that the rights of the citizens of the respective countries are protected. The British Government have not so ensured on this occasion. It is small consolation to our farmers and to our people generally to know that the British Government have condemned what is being done. It would be our wish that, either by way of reference to an intervention system—which, incidentally, they rejected—or by applying payments by way of headage grants, they would ensure that their citizens do not interfere with our rights under treaties which were entered into freely between them and us.
Dr. FitzGerald Dr. FitzGerald
Dr. FitzGerald: Hear, hear.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: The British farmers have said that they have no grudge against our farmers but it is for the British Government to fulfil their obligations either in the way I have suggested or, if necessary, by taking adequate security measures in the short term to ensure the free passage of our cattle to the British market. Otherwise, they will have failed to discharge their obligations vis-à-vis binding international treaties. Words of pious condemnation are not in themselves sufficient to discharge that obligation.
The Labour Government in Britain,  putting it at its bluntest, may for reasons best known to themselves, not wish to introduce either of the alternatives I mentioned but that is their problem. If for one reason or another they found that would alienate more of their support in the consumer level of society then they would gain from the farming community, that again is their problem. They are not entitled to consider the short-term political advantage of their own party to the detriment of their obligations in international treaties and to the detriment of the parties who entered into those obligations with them.
I should like to refer to another aspect of Anglo-Irish relations, which might be anticipated from me, the claim by the British Government, as expressed through their order in Council on 7th September claiming exploration rights over 52,000 square miles of the North Atlantic sea. The Minister may in the heel of the hunt get the point I am making. I think he will accept that that claim, and the statement which issued from the Government Information Service seemed to accept this principle, did, indeed, exacerbate the relations between our two Governments. Nonetheless, we are mature enough and strong enough to a certain extent to take it on the chin. The British Government seem to go on the expectation that, while it might exacerbate the relations which our Government are apparently so concerned not to do, nonetheless it would not mean a breakdown in diplomatic relations. Of course, in this they are quite right.
I should like to point to the fact that while that is so, as I mentioned long ago—“long” in terms of the life of this Parliament—at the time when it was first looked on almost as a joke by some of those who heard the proceedings in this House, they are now moving on the second leg of their claim, which is all too predictable at this stage. They have, in the first instance, claimed the right of ownership over the Rockall. Although our Government do not accept this, they can and have claimed the right to the territorial waters, if such exist. I know our Government do not  accept that there are territorial waters surrounding a rock, and I agree with this, but nonetheless the British Government have presented their claim on that basis for the moment.
Dr. FitzGerald Dr. FitzGerald
Dr. FitzGerald: They have not.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: It is not a claim but they have not yielded their right to that at this stage.
Dr. FitzGerald Dr. FitzGerald
Dr. FitzGerald: They have specifically not based a claim.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: They have not yielded their right to that at this stage. If there is not a right to territorial waters—I agree this would not apply in this case—and if such were determined by reference to any international arbitration, now they have, in fact, come on the second leg, the alternative, and they say: “We are now under the Geneva Convention of 1958, which is an international agreement by reference to which certain areas of the shelf were given to the British Government for exploration purposes and the superjacent waters. We are now relying on that agreement to claim exploration rights over 52,000 square miles of the North Atlantic, a considerable area of which would include the Rockall bank.”
The significant thing is that at the time of the Geneva Convention of 1958 the superjacent waters, as they were then understood, were much less capable of exploration, were much more limited naturally in 1958 than they are now by reason of the great technological advances that have been made in the meantime. If superjacent waters capable of exploration would in fact be fairly strictly limiting the right of any country to the Geneva Convention in 1958, they would not, in fact, be so strictly limiting their rights in 1974. Hence, the British Government have made an order in Council claiming 52,000 square miles under the extension of the shelf and the superjacent waters simply because they would claim they have the technology and means to explore that 52,000 square miles.
The end of this could be ridiculous, that only the major powers, those with  the major resources, could keep jumping to the point where the superjacent waters would, in fact, meet the superjacent waters of the shelf on the other side of the Atlantic. That, in fact, ludicrous though it might seem, is the alternative basis of Britain's claim. I know what might not have been envisaged in 1958 obviously cannot be used by them to this extent. I merely press the Government very strongly to ensure that this is contested at all levels. The Minister takes issue with me on this but I still think that formally we should state our claim to the Rockall. This would indicate that our claim is at least as valid and as right, in terms of history, tradition and geographical proximity, as the claim made by Britain. Otherwise, one asks what right or purpose did Britain have in making the claim in the first instance. I know the Minister does not think that that is necessary. It is a matter of how we can best protect the interest of the country.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce in reply to a question which I put to him last term, which was referred to him, as a result of a question which I put to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, asking him if we had, in fact, conducted any survey of the mineral resources in and around that shelf or had commissioned on our behalf any survey of the mineral resources in and around that shelf, replied, unfortunately, on a day when I was absent from the House, in a very flat negative. This very Minister today made a great brouhaha about proposing the establishment of an oil company to share in the development of our oil resources off the coast but we have not even undertaken the most basic survey of what resources there may be in this bank about which we are having a dispute with the British Government. It is beyond comprehension but at this moment that is the position. We could be engaging in negotiations and diplomatic discussions of one form or another without knowing the full extent of what we are negotiating about. That is something which needs to be mended as quickly as possible. I hope the Government will, if not directly, through  somebody commissioned on their behalf, do a survey of the resources in that area so that we will at least be as well informed as any other country.
Now, turning to the European Economic Community, we find ourselves, as the Minister said, in a position rather similar, as far as the regional policy is concerned, to last year. We believe we are in the run-in to the establishment of a regional policy. I agree entirely with the Minister that the suggestion for the diminished fund is totally inadequate (a) to give effect to the commitment of the European Community and the high-sounding principles of the Paris summit and otherwise and, (b) totally inadequate as well to the needs of the less-developed regions of the Community, including this country.
The Minister has expressed strong dissatisfaction with that amount and I agree with him but it seems in the end that political muscle will win, as it did on the last occasion. If that is to be so, there are two changes of strategy which I would commend to him. The House will recall on the last occasion after the publication of the guidelines from the European Commission, which were totally acceptable and consistent with the principles of a real regional fund, it became evident that some of the powerful member states had different views. The House and the country will recall that the Minister undertook urgent trips to the capitals of the European Community. He said in his speech today that we should acknowledge that others will not adopt a position just because Ireland holds a strong view. I know he went with hope and determination to Bonn, Paris and elsewhere to, in a very short trip, change the views of the Ministers concerned. We, as a tactic, criticised the Minister's initiative at that time. We did not win much support for this view. Although the Minister did a whirlwind tour with quite a lot of publicity and promotion, he came back with nothing in the bag.
We suggest the Minister would have done better to concentrate on the EEC Commission which was being  suborned by the very men the Minister was visiting. If the Minister thought that a quick visit from the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs would change their policy and attitudes he was, even by his own standards now, greatly mistaken and events have proved that he was. Had he concentrated on the Commission to the point of saying to them: “If you are to be consistent with yourselves and the Community and with the principles you have established, you will not allow yourselves to be suborned by the national interests or muscle of the stronger powers, he would have done a better job. It is significant that the Commission now acknowledge that they did themselves a great disservice, that they undermined their own credibility and authority by allowing themselves to produce subsequently at the will and whim of the major European powers, proposals for a regional fund which were totally inconsistent with their own guidelines.
The time has come again and I suggest to the Minister that his travels previously did not bring him to the right countries and that he should travel towards the Commission and give them a clear indication of what our determination is, that at least they should be consistent with their own principles. Obviously, there will be discussion with foreign Ministers of other countries but let it be recognised that if they wish at Council level to depart from their obligations under the Community, they should be seen to depart from them. At least, let the Commission adhere to their obligations and principles and let us support the Commission in so doing.
If the Minister—as I am sure he has, very consistently and to a considerable extent—considers the balance of need in the Community and the whole purpose of the regional fund, I am sure he will agree that if there is to be a diminished fund it should be applied to very much more limited areas than those originally suggested in the previous proposal from the Commission. I was pleased to hear in the discussion with Commissioner Thomson—I believe he reiterated this  here in Ireland—that they had torn up the map on which the regional fund was to be allocated previously. If we must have a diminished fund, as now seems indicated, let it be concentrated entirely and only—I say this advisely—on the areas of greatest need. That would mean southern Italy and this country with, possibly, some part of Scotland or Wales and some other areas. Then we would find that instead of £30 million in three years— which one journalist pointed out today would possibly build 14 or 15 miles of roadway in the west of Ireland and that would be the extent of the regional fund evident in this country —we would find that we could become entitled to considerably more.
I believe the German Government are coming round to that view and that there is room for persuasion there. If the Minister must visit his counterparts—I hope he does subject to concentrating on the Commission —I hope, if there is to be a diminished fund it will concentrate on very limited areas such as those I have indicated would qualify. They are so obvious that there is hardly need for examination. The visit by Commissioner Thomson here recently raised expectations and prior to that visit we indicated it would have that effect. Our expectations were disappointed before and these were expectations being promoted at the time of our entry to the EEC. If there is not now a real commitment and a real sign of commitment to a regional fund and if our expectations were to be again disappointed our people's attitude to the EEC would suffer a very severe blow and the EEC itself would suffer greatly in consequence.
Also, there is the fact that you can have a regional element in the other Community funds, in the common agricultural policy, the social fund and many others. Perhaps we shall have more time to develop this during a debate on the report on the European Community and go into further details. The regional element can be applied to many other funds. Last year I was greatly disappointed to find that the only assistance we had sought  from the funds of the European Coal and Steel Community was towards the erection of a limited number of houses in one area to back up what was made available by the local authority. I have no time now to go into details of other entitlements we would have. The Minister for Local Government who got a very small sum out of those funds apparently got exactly what he sought but no other Department applied for, or received any assistance from those funds. Briefly, the types of assistance available from these funds includes assistance towards the development of ports which are connected with coal or steel importation or exportation, of infrastructures, roads and so on, telephone communication and so on. These, and many other things were available from the Community funds. We confined ourselves to one application in respect of one scheme of housing. This is a measure of the Government's failure to pursue what is a real opportunity.
Let me say that I think I was deprived of three or four minutes and, perhaps, the Minister would concede that in the course of discussion earlier when I gave way to him I lost a few minutes. Perhaps I could continue until 8.15?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Denis Francis Jones
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair has taken note of these matters and the Deputy may continue until 8.13.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: We also have noted the lack of political will in the European Community, a lack expressed through their failure to bring a regional fund into effect and other examples. We have stated that you must express this political will through political institutions. We are concerned that the Council as it operates through various Ministers attending at various times seems to have become more a negotiating table than a Council of the Community in the real sense. I am sure the Minister's hard experience has borne that fact home to him. For that reason our party, in association with our friends in the European Parliament, the European Progressive Democrats proposed  a political secretariat, in the first instance under the Council.
We also suggested something which may be in agreement with the Minister's own attitude, that each member country should have a Minister responsible for European affairs or some such office because at present, you cannot have the liaison that is desirable between the various Ministers of Agriculture, Finance, Industry and Commerce, Health and Social Welfare —except that, perhaps, the Minister for Foreign Affairs had endeavoured to provide it and he has many other obligations even in this small country. It seems vitally necessary that you would have a Minister in each member state who would be a Minister for Europe in the real sense and who would take in his own Government's and in the Council of the European Community, the European view. That may commend itself to our Government although I know they cannot be the final judge in the matter.
I was glad—to a point—to hear the Minister say that it might be in our interest to stay in the Community even if Britain withdrew from it. On this side of the House we clearly stated our position a considerable time ago that whether Britain stayed in or not we, as a matter of principle and economic advantage and as a matter of political obligation, would stay in the EEC. From reaction we got in the European Community and from the Commission that statement of our intent was welcome. I do not suggest it had a very significant effect on Britain but certainly it did not have any deterimental effect on us and it is fairly evident that Britain's “renegotiation”—and I agree with the Minister on this—will result eventually in Britain remaining a member of the EEC. We stated our position. If she should have a change of mind let her have it in the light of what our position is. No country can expect to change the rules of the game after entering on to the field of play, and we would not welcome any capitulation on the part of the Community. Obviously the development of the Community has been stultified because of their doubt in the face of the so-called  British re-negotiation. We have stressed that the Community should press ahead with their programme and not allow themselves to be compromised by any doubt which would arise because of Britain's position.
The Minister has mentioned the obligations he will have as President of the Council of Ministers. In this connection, there should be a rationalisation, in the interests of the small country, of the work being done by the various national organisations to which we belong. The Council of Europe are concerned with the environment. The European Community are concerned with the environment. Even NATO, to which we do not belong, is concerned with the environment. Small countries such as ours cannot be expected to supply staff and resources to each of these organisations doing the same thing. Now that this has been highlighted by the Minister's obligations as President of the Council, I hope steps will be taken to rationalise the situation.
I shall skip some matters to which I shall, perhaps, be able to refer in the debate upon the report itself, but it is appropriate that I should mention the International Food Conference which is meeting in Rome. I am sorry I do not have time to develop the argument and to show my support for what the Minister is doing in this connection. Let me say, however, that anything that can be done towards discharging our obligations in the relief of world hunger and poverty, which exists on a scale we cannot even imagine, will have our full support. We are pleased to support as well any programmes towards the development and maintenance of human rights.
Finally, it is noteworthy that a former Minister for External Affairs in this House has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This is a great honour for our country, and on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party I would like to convey to him publicly our appreciation of what he has done and our best wishes for future achievements by him.
I hope the Minister will be able to take note of some of the suggestions I have made and that I shall have an  opportunity in the debate on the report itself to make further suggestions. A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, it is about as much as I deserve, because I was one of the members of the committee which suggested that speeches on the Estimates should be limited, that I now find myself guillotined by that suggestion.
Mr. M.E. Dockrell Mr. M.E. Dockrell
Mr. M.E. Dockrell: I would like to start off this very complicated debate by congratulating the Minister on his very interesting and thorough survey of Foreign Affairs. As always, I stand in admiration at his mental processes and, as I said to him before, that does not always mean that I entirely agree with his conclusions. However, I do like the way he arrived at them, and on 90 per cent of them I am in complete agreement with him. Lest the Opposition should, not for the first time, endeavour to gain some meagre comfort from the fact that there was not apparently unanimity of opinions on various subjects on this side of the House, I would say that, far from that being our weakness, it is our strength, and that this party, above all when it is in Coalition, is one which allows the voices of various people to be heard. I am making that slight point at the beginning, but it is entirely overwhelmed by the grasp of the subject and the devotion to duty which the Minister has shown since he came into office and, indeed, before that too.
Deputy O'Kennedy has spoken at some length on the Minister's speech, and he had some hours in which to study the documents. In the course of his speech the Minister said in regard to the discussions with the United Kingdom:
Throughout these discussions the Government have consistently adopted a constructive approach and have sought to avoid anything which could exacerbate the relations between the two sovereign powers.
The spokesman for the Opposition seized on that word “exacerbate” almost as if it were a four-letter word and something which should not be  used under any circumstances between two high contracting powers.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: That is the Government's view, not mine.
Mr. M.E. Dockrell Mr. M.E. Dockrell
Mr. M.E. Dockrell: It is nonsense, and it is the Deputy's view of what the Government have been doing. One can always take the slick, easy view, that unless one's own side screams in public and with a very shrill voice, they have let down the side; that if they do not exacerbate—I can hardly mention that terrible word—the relations between them——
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: The Minister will not mention it again.
Mr. M.E. Dockrell Mr. M.E. Dockrell
Mr. M.E. Dockrell: ——or if they do not leave the conference table like two teams in a rural area who have not only come to blows but who have stung the referee during the course of the match they have not done their duty. That is the way the Opposition approach the conference, and indeed have invariably approached any conference to which the Government have been, that they must come back with a cornucopia of plenty, leaving stunned and enraged people behind them. Of course that is not the way international affairs are conducted and Deputy O'Kennedy, who is now retiring from the field, knows that very well. He is a reasonable person until he rises to attack the Government. He starts off in the good old way of blaming them as much as he can for not having come away waving the green flag and singing hymns of hate. That certainly did not exist in the last Government. The former Taoiseach, Deputy Jack Lynch, did not go into such conferences in that fashion and still less did he leave them in that fashion.
I believe the British Government stand as aghast before the appalling and terrible situation in the North as we do. Whether all their actions will turn out to be as wise as they think them is certainly a matter for discussion but we know they do not go into it to exacerbate the situation. Far from it. Nobody has been able to find a solution yet to that delicate situation.  I wish sometimes that in searching desperately for a solution the people who criticise our own Government and the British Government would apply the same strong criticism to the men of violence. I wish we could have a situation in the North, even for a few weeks, in which, if the lion did not lie down with the lamb, at least the lion would stop pouncing and growling. The difficulty is there are several lions roaming around in that jungle of terrible creatures.
Deputy O'Kennedy referred to the Reverend Parker who is to go to Canada, having suffered grievous and tragic family loss. There are many other people in the North who have suffered and are suffering tragedies. Our hearts go out to those people but we have failed to do anything to help the overall situation. The only way in which ordinary individuals can help is by creating a climate of disgust, abhorrance and hatred of people taking the law into their own hands and taking other individuals' lives away from them wantonly and blindly. By blindly I mean with bombs which may strike at anybody. Only the solid opinion of the people of the North and of the South can bring that about. Somehow all our efforts have failed in that and our Churches efforts have failed. I am not blaming them but somehow they have failed to put before the people the real brotherhood of man and what it means, what it means in power-sharing and power-giving-up, ecumenism and helping one's neighbour. Some of our Ministers have tried hard to put that point of view but somehow the people of the North still must continue on their weary, tragic Calvary.
I wish the Minister and the Government well. We need a man like the late Gandhi, though God knows when he was alive I did not think all that much of him but now that he is dead and gone I think that if we could have a man with his ideas on nonviolence, with the character of a Father Mathew and the strength of a great Calvinist preacher, it might help to lead the North out of the impasse in which it is. It lies mainly with the people and however much the Opposition  may chip at the Government for saying this or not saying that the answer lies with the people of the North in the first place and of the whole of Ireland in the second. We can pray that some day we will see that and then everything will fall into its place.
Mention was made of what we in the South have lost through years of frustration, through years of Partition. It has hindered our two communities. It has driven us into ourselves in an introspective way which is not natural to Irish people. We are an outgoing, open people; we show our joys and our sorrows, and yet we have this one subject inhibiting us. We do not approach it with the open mind that we have in regard to many other subjects in our body politic.
Somehow the Nationalists and Unionists in the North or, if you like, the Catholics and the Protestants, owing to their intense respective love of their own religions, have been impelled by their respective branches of the Christian faith to forget the overall message of Christianity. They have forgotten that, as if they had never heard the message. That comes back to their communities in a way we do not like to face. We do not like to face what the outside world must be feeling, what they do not normally express in newspapers—one some times comes across it in books. But it makes their protestations of Christianity a savage joke. Perhaps Parliament is not the place to talk about that but it is the side of it that is rarely mentioned and hardly ever mentioned here. It lies very close to the heart of the problem. I may come back to the North from a different angle later.
I congratulate the Minister on his fine presentation of the Estimate and on the work he has done. We must speak here of the EEC and its regional policy. I am a member of the Joint Committee on Secondary Legislation of the EEC. With others, I have been in Belgium and Luxembourg. I have met the Regional Commissioner who has been to the west of Ireland. Before I discuss the EEC regional policy, I should like to recall that when the joint committee went to Brussels and  Luxembourg we learned something of great value and of great importance to us. We saw the offices where the work of this great bureauracy is carried out. They travel around like the court of Louis XIV. Luxembourg, Belgium and France all would like to have the honour and, I daresay, the profit of housing this vast body of European civil servants.
We met many of the commissioners, including, Monsieur Lardinois, who visited the west of Ireland. I met him and had an interesting talk with him in Westport. He saw that part of Ireland, its beauty and its remoteness. It was very good that he was able to see the problems there.
Our visit to Luxembourg and Brussels, as I have said, had an immediate effect on us. It helped to educate us on the new responsibility which not only have we got to the EEC but which they have to us. I should like to see such visits extended to all Members of this House so that they would be able to see and appreciate the work being done there. I would go further and express the hope that people outside the House, such as members of farmers' organisations, chambers of commerce and so forth, would be able to do likewise. I realise it would cost some money, not a terrible lot, but it would spread valuable knowledge throughout the length and breadth of Ireland.
In regard to our EEC membership, I should like to say to the Opposition that we should not be screaming and begging and howling. We are not a group of itinerants with our hands out. This howling at the Minister and howling at the Government that only £30 million were got and we expected more comes somewhat ill. We would like more, but we did not go into the EEC—at least, I certainly did not— just for EEC hand-outs, glad as I am to get them and important as they are to us. This is a beginning and all this howling comes ill from a party which by and large were in power for over 30 years and who did nothing. Now they have suddenly woken up to what needs to be done in the west of Ireland.  Why the devil did they not do something themselves? God helps those who help themselves. There was a book written in Victorian times— I never read it—called “Self-Help” and I am sure there was a great deal of truth in it. It is on self-help I would like to see the emphasis laid and then, by all means, get more if it can be got.
Coming back to the matter of negotiations—this is what this debate is all about; it is about our relationship with other countries, individually and as exemplified by the EEC—there has been this trouble in Wales with the Welsh farmers. I believe it will be settled. What will help will be a firm attitude on our side and a firm attitude on the part of the British Government. I certainly cannot see a Labour Government in Britain so sympathetic to farmers, even to Welsh farmers, that they would stand for the relationship between this country and Britain being adversely affected by the actions of farmers in riotous assembly, great as their need may have been. I understand that the balance of votes for the Labour party in Britain comes from the cities where cheap food is of importance. Neither could I see a Conservative Government, if the Conservatives were in power, tolerating this sort of thing, even though it might be taken that the majority of those engaged in these activities would be supporters of that political persuasion. I do not think we can teach the British very much about how to handle their own farmers, especially when those farmers are stopping food passing through England to other countries. If we keep our heads and leave the matter to the two Governments who are well able to settle it and if we do nothing to exacerbate it, that will be the best contribution we can make to the situation.
I have always been afraid that some day somehow in the course of our relationship with Britain the historical pendulum might swing back. Remember, pendulums do not always swing on the same plane. But, where Britain is concerned, we have been in a period of dealing with British  Governments who are certainly for settlement. If, however, a period came in which, through the ravages of war perhaps, perhaps through the loss of empire, the viewpoint might grow up in which there was a very great hardening of attitude towards this country, relationships might become very difficult. I wonder was there any small element of that in the actions of the Welsh farmers in the last couple of weeks. I hope not. But this is something we should think about. This is the first time I have expressed this view here, but it has often been present to my mind. I refer to the fear of a recrudescence of some form of jingoism, for want of a better word, or something like that, which could react to our very grave detriment because, whilst we are a very important market for Britain they are a vital market for us and they are just as well aware of that as we are. I believe, however, that the goodwill of the two Governments plus the indisputable legality of our position vis-á-vis any riotous assembly in Wales; or anywhere else, and the complete illegality of the action taken vis-á-vis the EEC and, in particular, vis-á-vis the treaties we have with the British Government, will solve any difficulties, real or imaginery. I hope these problems will fade away.
The last speaker talked about oil and Rockall. Truth to tell, I get rather lost, as do most people, as to the position and as to how far our sovereignty over the shelf extends. I think the last Deputy got mixed up between Rockall and the shelf. As far as I know, it is not part of the shelf. It may be on the shelf but, as far as I know, it is not. It is very complicated, legalistic, geophysical matter as to the extent of any oil there and the extent to which we wish to lay claim to whatever may exist there. I believe we will lay claim to what we believe to be our rights in the matter. I am sure the Government will do so. In laying those claims we will not make up extravagant claims.
Sometimes people have pressed the Government to take up an attitude which the majority of the Irish people would find it hard to justify. Successive  Irish Governments have not made extravagant claims and, as a member of the comity of nations, they have always been amongst those who claimed their due right but did not put themselves out of court by making extravagant claims. In that respect I hope we will do all that can be done. I doubt that we have the money to do a great deal ourselves. The financing of any oil company in this country has not yet been spelled out. It would take a long time and it would take even longer to settle some of the mining problems nearer home.
As I said, the Minister has produced a very good document and made a very good speech. He has given us an excellent resume. His speech is a mine of information concerning our relationships with various other countries. We are all very anxious that the terrible situation between Palestine and the Arab States should be settled amicably. That conflict has cost us very dearly. The closing of the Suez Canal years ago put up the cost of oil and now, of course, the cost of oil has gone to astronomic heights.
We in a country like this cannot do very much vis-á-vis a settlement of the escalation of oil prices. It is partly due to the conflict between Palestine and the Arab States who were so poor and are now wealthy and have seen a triumphant Palestine helped by some of the great powers in the world. We are now suffering very much in our pockets through paying more for oil, but that is one of the least things we have to suffer. We will have to go through a whole lot more because other things follow. Unemployment and financial difficulties flow from that situation. We will just have to do what we can. I leave it to the Government. I have no easy solution to offer for the Minister's consideration. We will have to do the best we can.
I now come to South Africa and Rhodesia. This is where I differ slightly from the Minister. South Africa and Rhodesia present a thorny question. We do not like apartheid. Nobody likes apartheid. I was in South Africa and the people I met did not like apartheid. I read a great deal about South Africa and I try  to keep in touch with it. There are tremendous forces for liberalism in that country. Sometimes when we— and when I say “we” I mean liberal-minded people in western Europe— take too hard a line, when we boycott certain sporting events and so on, we do far more harm than good. We cut the ground from under the feet of the liberal people in South Africa.
The Government there appear to be very firmly entrenched but there are other big political parties which have a tremendous following. They are not in favour of apartheid. I believe the South African Government are genuinely trying to drop many of the harsher aspects of apartheid. This is a subject one could discuss at considerable length. One can say a lot about it but one is mainly discussing opinions. There are certain facts, of course, but in my opinion the way to help the liberalisation of South Africa is to treat that Government as we do many other Governments—not showing any agreement with apartheid but sympathising with the liberal elements and showing that we wish to help the country in its move forward.
There is also the question of the USSR. Sometimes some of our people blame South Africa or Rhodesia or, perhaps, Chile—I do not know much about Chile—but one must be very careful about what one reads because everybody is shooting a line on these things and to understand them properly and not waffle needs a great deal of study for which very few Deputies have very much time.
We now have a Soviet Embassy in Dublin. There is no need to pretend that the majority of Irish people are in sympathy with the aims, as expressed many times, of the Soviet Union. They are not, and it would be no service to the Government, or to anybody else, even to the Soviet Union, to pretend that there were aspects of these aims we liked. There are aspects of Soviet legislation which are not bad—in certain directions their legislation is excellent—and there is no reason why we should not be able to get on with them. I believe they are  very interested in our system of treating our bogs, turning our peat into briquettes and also using it for horticultural purposes. They are also interested in the technicalities and engineering problems raised by all that.
I understand that Russian engineers are interested in the work we have been doing on our bogs. This is not surprising when one considers that we lead the world in our treatment of peat, our handling of the raw material and the finished product. There are a number of lines on which we can have a common front with the USSR. I am sure that while they are in Dublin an eye will be kept on them. On the whole, it is a good idea to have the Russians based in Dublin, particularly for the exchange of trade and ideas.
To return to Northern Ireland, Deputy O'Kennedy raised the question of money being wasted by the British Government. I believe he was making the point that because the British forces were in the North the British Government were wasting money. When a Government spends money on a vast scale there is bound to be plenty of waste. However I think the position is, as has been stated by our Government, that there is a necessity for having the troops in the North at present. Nobody, least of all the British themselves, want to see the troops staying in Northern Ireland any longer than they have to and the day will come when they will get out. I do not view this as a waste of money. It may be wasted effort but the position, bad as it is now, would be worse without them.
I wonder if we will sometime see United Nations troops based there? I do not know what the end of that terrible situation will be but the Irish people can rest assured that never, since the foundation of this State, has there been a Government more anxious to settle the Northern situation, and to settle it from the point of view of justice and right for all concerned, than this Government.
The Labour element of this Government are desperately anxious to settle the Northern situation; their unions go North and across the water.  Our links also go North and we want to settle it just as much as anybody else. I know that Fianna Fáil also wish to settle it. They do not wish to see another person harmed, still less another person killed, in the North whilst it is possible for people in political places to heal the wounds and bring that carnage to an end. They are as keen as we are.
With goodwill on both sides, and the very strong desire of all of us to see peace—not peace at any price but a lasting peace with justice—we will have peace there. We do not want to pass on a patched up solution which will endure only for a few years. We, as a Government, and above all the people in the South, want to see an end to the troubles in the North. Although it is not our fault it is, in the eyes of many people, a lasting shame and crime on us in this House, in the North and in Westminster. We should be able to settle this problem or at least help in its settlement. One of the ways to do this is not to exacerbate the situation.
Mr. McDonald Mr. McDonald
Mr. McDonald: I should like to compliment the Minister on the very clear and concise way he has presented his Estimate. I should like to pay tribute to him for the amount of work he has done during the last year. The civil servants in the Department of Foreign Affairs, so ably led by the Minister, form a dynamic team. I have great admiration for the people I meet in that Department. Since I was appointed to the European Parliament my duties have brought me in contact with many of our people in Foreign Affairs, not only in the Department itself but in the Commission in Brussels and in many of the embassies throughout Europe. They are a tremendous credit to our country. I do not think we fully realise the dedicated service they render to the State. To give only one example, one thinks of the very long hours they so unselfishly devote to their duties.
I should like to note the changing importance of this Department. There is now greater pressure on it than ever before and we look to Foreign Affairs to do even more work for the country.  I hope that the importance of creating a greater identity for our country and our people will be foremost always in the minds of the people who serve our country in Foreign Affairs.
I should like to deal very briefly with a few points I consider to be important. Now that we are firmly entrenched as members of the European Economic Community we ought pay more attention to our foreign policy and, certainly, expand it to some degree. I should like to see a policy in the Department of perhaps improving the facilities for our embassy staffs in a few places. At the same time, one is impressed by the magnificent embassy buildings we have in some European cities. In places where we rent accommodation, there should be a policy to purchase outright. Perhaps we could have a target of purchasing one new building a year, which would be a good investment.
I should like to pay a sincere tribute to the Minister for the amount of work he does and the expert way in which he carries out his duties over a wide and varied field. Not only does he play a very full role in the Council of Ministers but he has made quite an impression also at the United Nations. Indeed he gets through the same volume of work at the OECD, the Council of Europe and GATT, all of which must take up a considerable amount of his time.
I should like to note also the increase in the number of embassies over the past year. This is a good policy because there are too many areas of the world, especially on the African continent, where we do not appear to be represented. It is necessary that we, as the oldest of the new countries, should by our presence, support the emerging nations, especially those of the African continent, and give them not only recognition but help in many ways. In the coming year I look forward to a continuance of the policy of increasing the number of our embassies abroad.
I should like to compliment the Minister and indeed the Government, on substantially increasing our aid to  the International Co-operation and Development Aid Organisation. We have almost met the target laid down in this respect by the United Nations. Even though the amount of money in our case is not very substantial, it shows we are conscious of the difficulties and plight of many millions of people throughout the world. With the cattle crisis and the difficult economic situation being experienced in our country, over the last few weeks we have heard many speakers advocating that we should seek animal food aid in Europe for cattle that may die this coming winter. I was contemplating putting such a question to the Council of Ministers. Then, looking at the statistics of the millions of underfed people and the vast areas of famine throughout the world, areas with which we have traditional ties, I felt it would be rather embarrassing to ask for aid to feed starving cattle this winter knowing there are many millions of people experiencing famine conditions throughout the world. It is just over 100 years since we had a famine. But we must consider taking modern modes of transport into consideration, that in 1970 Ethiopia was nearer to our country than was Britain in 1846 or 1847. I know many of our people have contributed to famine relief in Ethiopia but I do not think we can afford the luxury of ignoring the plight of so many of our fellow men throughout the world, even though they be quite a long way from us.
I want to express my full support for the Government's policy on the Northern Ireland situation. I want to stress the fact that we should, in foreign affairs, strengthen our information service to ensure that our people here, whether North or South, are not the victims of vicious propaganda from whatever source it may emanate. Unfortunately the major European papers do not differentiate in their daily headlines between our country, North and South. I do not know what we should do about this, but nevertheless we should be conscious of this problem.
I should like to devote a few moments now to the role our Minister  will play in the Community between January and June, 1975.
Recently I was reading some of the documentation and I found that Robert Schumann said the following in his declaration on behalf of France with regard to the proposal for a single authority for French and German coal and steel production in May, 1950.
Europe will not be made all at once, nor according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create real solidarity.
When one considers the progress of the Community and the achievements of the Council of Ministers this year, one realises Schumann was a shrewd operator because he assessed the situation to an extraordinary degree.
If the EEC is to progress—it must because it cannot stagnate—there must be some kind of government. If the Council of Ministers is to adopt the role of the European Government, the president of the Council should be a full-time one in that he should spend most of his time dealing with the problems of the Community. Next year I look forward to our Minister giving that dynamic leadership that the EEC needs if it is to progress, if it is to start taking decisions and giving leadership, not presenting itself merely as an organisation that can do nothing more than react to problems internally and from the international point of view.
At the moment the Community needs dynamic leadership. I hope our Minister will take every opportunity to bring about greater democratisation in the Community, that he will avail of every chance to demonstrate this fact to the peoples of Europe. Many of them have great difficulty in identifying our country as an individual nation; when I say that I speak of the citizens of the various European countries. Now is our opportunity, when our Minister will have his first term as president of the Council of Ministers, to put our country on the map.
We are committed to the task of bringing to a successful conclusion the continuing process which leads from the EEC to a European partnership in the full sense, founded upon  and dedicated to the safeguarding of the traditions and the way of life of the member countries, their democratic forms of government and respect for the rule of law. In the next six months I hope the Minister will endeavour to break new ground, perhaps in supporting and strengthening the power of the European Parliament. It is necessary that there be a strong identification of the peoples of Europe with the Community through their representatives and this can only be done through the Parliament. It is an opportunity for us to advocate and make progress towards European union not just in 1980 but, if possible, before then.
I know the position and policy of our country with regard to NATO, but we must ensure that this position and policy do not hinder the formation of a Community defence system. This is increasingly necessary when one considers the possibility of a lesser United States involvement in the defence of Europe. Perhaps we may have a discussion in greater detail on this question. The matter of European defence has been exercising the minds of the political committee of the European Parliament for some time. There will not be a unanimous report on the problem because both the Danish members and ourselves have not the same views on the subject as have the German and United Kingdom members. It is an extremely important matter that I hope will be discussed more fully.
I welcome the establishment of the Soviet Embassy here and their policy of détente. However, I can assure the House that as soon as a defence vacuum is created in Europe it will not be left vacant for long. When one considers the history and progress of the Russian people, one realises they have a very definite pattern of operation and I am not so simple as to think they have changed their tactics. I hope the Russian personnel who have come to live here and who represent their country will enjoy the experience and their life here.
The voluntary work being done presently by the Irish clubs in Camden  Town and in other centres in the United Kingdom is of tremendous importance. These people have given wonderful voluntary service for many years and I hope that social workers and advice bureaux will be established in more areas. The workers who are helping Irish people in distress should be given more meaningful financial support by the State. Last year was the first time the Government recognised the problem but there is a considerable amount of work to be done. It was unrealistic of successive Governments to ignore the costly and necessary work a few people, mainly religious, carried out for so long. I hope we will increase the Estimate for the provision of social workers in the various Irish centres in the United Kingdom.
I regret I have not been able to deal more fully with the very exciting philosophy of European union. But we shall have a debate soon on the EEC when we shall be able to discuss that problem to a greater extent.
Dáil Éireann 275 Vote 46: Foreign Affairs (Resumed).