Dáil Éireann - Volume 295 - 08 December, 1976

Maritime Jurisdiction (Exclusive Fishery Limits) Order, 1976: Motion.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Dr. FitzGerald): I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:

Maritime Jurisdiction (Exclusive Fishery Limits) Order, 1976,

a copy of which Order in draft was laid before Dáil Éireann on the 7th day of December, 1976.

This motion arises out of the need to extend Irish fishery limits beyond the present limit of 12 miles.

The legal status of coastal waters, the extent of the jurisdiction of the coastal state, the rights and duties of the coastal state as well as the rights and duties of other states therein, are among the main topics under discussion at the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. As you would expect in the case of such complex questions, and where so many states with such varied interests are taking part in the negotiations, there is a wide spectrum of positions at the conference. The land-locked and geographically disadvantaged states continue to resist the concept of an exclusive economic zone while the maritime powers feel the coastal states' powers should not be too wide. Fishing rights for other than coastal [244] states, especially the land-locked and geographically disadvantaged states and in particular the developing countries among them, are still among the major unresolved issues. Coastal states are anxious to retain the present draft articles, herewith, in the single negotiating text and there is a view at the conference that the solution lies in general acceptance of an exclusive economic zone.

The slow progress at the conference towards reaching world-wide agreement on the issues before it, including that of economic zones, has resulted in an increasing trend towards unilateral action being taken by a number of states to extend fishing limits to 200 miles for conservation reasons. Already Iceland, Norway, Canada and the United States have stated their intention to claim or have claimed 200 mile exclusive fishing limits. This has led and could continue to lead in the future to extra pressure on the waters adjacent to the State and to overfishing immediately outside our existing limits not only by our Community partners but also by boats from other countries. This is so not only of waters adjacent to us and of the waters near the coasts of other Community countries, but overfishing has been widespread throughout the North Atlantic area. The effect of these activities on catches in our waters and in the waters of other coastal states has been highly damaging.

It is my view that agreement on a world wide scale is the best method of protecting the interests of all, and in particular the interests of small states. I am also convinced as a result of the Law of the Sea Conference that a large majority of governments now consider states should be entitled to 200 mile fishing limits and I expect that whatever convention the conference adopts it will include such a provision.

In the meantime, we cannot face the extinction of our fishing industry and we also must take action to extend our limits if we are to protect the fish stocks and the interests of our coastal areas.

The Community also, in the context of the common fisheries policy, has [245] been considering the question of extension of limits. The Council at its meeting in July 1976, wishing to protect the rights of Community fishermen and stressing the need for the member states to act jointly, adopted the principle of concerted action under which member states would be led to extend the limits of fishing zones to 200 miles, and agreed to consider the matter further in the light of the outcome of the fifth session of the conference. By resolution of 30th October, 1976, which was formally adopted through written procedure on 3rd November, the Council of Ministers agreed that from 1st January, 1977, member states should extend the limits of their fishing zones to 200 miles of the North Sea and North Atlantic coasts and that from that date the exploitation of fishery resources in these zones by fishing vessels of third countries should be governed by agreements between the Community and the third countries concerned.

By extending our limits we will be excluding boats from other countries, other than those countries with which we have undertaken contractual obligations, from fishing within those limits. As members of the European Community we are subject to the common fisheries policy.

The common fisheries policy as you are aware, was devised by the original six member states and was put into effect shortly before the three new members joined the Community. We maintain that it reflects the interests and needs of the Six and was, in effect, imposed on Ireland as part of an otherwise acceptable Accession Treaty. The Accession Treaty, indeed, allowed us certain derogations from the principle of common access, which were to be reviewed before 31st December, 1982, but overfishing on the part of third countries, and some of our partners, in adjacent waters has resulted in decreasing catches for Irish fishermen and a threat to the development and even the maintenance of our fishing industry.

In the light of developments in the Law of the Sea Conference the Commission made proposals in September [246] this year for certain elements of a new Community fishery regime. These proposals were unacceptable to Ireland in as much as they provided for nonexclusive bands of not more than twelve miles width, and relied on quotas to conserve fish stocks. Our partners were persuaded to agree at The Hague on 30th October that Ireland is a special case, and they committed the Community to applying the common fisheries policy so as to secure the continued and progressive achievement of our fisheries development programme for coastal fisheries.

This was secured without our having to concede one iota of our claim to a coastal band of up to 50 miles—indeed, our claim to such a band is in practice greatly strengthened. We do, however, recognise that some of our partners have a very strong political interest in preventing the present coastal bands being retained, never mind enlarged, after the end of 1982 and that very difficult negotiations lie ahead.

At the meeting of the Council of Ministers in Brussels on 15th/16th November, 1976, I reiterated our view that the importance of reaching early agreement on an internal system should not be lost sight of. Work on this question should continue to have a high priority as it is vital for the future of the Community's fishing interests that measures for the conservation of fish resources within the extended zone should be agreed upon and implemented as soon as possible. I also stated that Ireland was particularly concerned about the regime which will operate after 1st January, 1977 within the 200-mile zone. This regime must, in our view, involve the application of the common fisheries policy in such a way as to secure the continued and progressive development of the Irish fishing industry. I repeated again that the Government's view is that this development can be achieved only through the operation of an exclusive coastal band.

At this Council I also stated that if agreement on an internal regime was not achieved before 1st January, 1977, the Irish Government would, as a temporary measure and in consultation [247] with the European Commission and interested member states, have to take interim steps to ensure progress towards the achievement of the objectives for the development of the Irish fishing industry agreed between the member states at The Hague on 30th October last.

The Commission has in the past week come forward with proposals for an interim fisheries regime to operate for 1977. In their present form these proposals, the details of which must, for the present, remain confidential, are unacceptable to us. We consider that any interim system adopted should apply, inter alia, to clearly-defined Irish coastal waters and should be such as to secure the achievement of the objectives of our fisheries development programme to which our partners in the Community have clearly committed themselves. Moreover, any interim system adopted should not prejudice our claim for an exclusive coastal band of up to 50 miles.

As regards third countries, we have, of course, agreed to postpone our right to veto agreements with third countries, something which is vitally important to many of our Community partners, until such time as permanent agreements come to be negotiated to replace the interim agreements which the Community is now seeking with Iceland, Norway and the Faroes, or until the moment comes to open actual negotiations between the Community and other countries for reciprocal access arrangements to the 200-mile zones to be proclaimed by member states on 1st January next. In the case of third countries which are not in a position to offer reciprocal rights to our EEC partners, our contention is that their fishing in European Community waters should be phased out as rapidly as possible, we would envisage within six months.

Apart from the member states of the Community, Spain also has rights, as a party to the London Fisheries Convention, to fish in certain waters round our coasts. The Community will, therefore, now negotiate a new fisheries arrangement with Spain in [248] the light of the action taken by member states to extend their fishing limits.

The Council of Ministers of the European Community, both Foreign Affairs and Agriculture, will meet in Brussels early next week and the question of fisheries will be discussed in depth by them.

The Government is empowered under section 6, paragraph 2, of the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, to make an order extending the exclusive fishery limits of the State. Any such order may be made only if a resolution approving the terms of the draft shall have been passed by each House of the Oireachtas. It is the intention of the Government to make such order with effect from 1st January, 1977.

The purpose of the order is to extend the fishing limits of the State to 200 miles and in areas where a 200-mile limit would cross with a similar limit taken by Britain and France to indicate a fixed line in those areas being a line equidistant from the nearest point on the coasts of the respective countries and this line is defined in a schedule to the order by reference to co-ordinates. It will mean in effect an overlap of jurisdiction pending agreement on a mutually acceptable line. It has not been possible in the short time available to work out an agreed line and official discussions are continuing at present. Meantime it is hoped that the Governments concerned will co-operate so as to ensure that unilateral conservation regulations would be in harmony and that conflicts in attempted enforcement in the overlapping area will be avoided.

It has been agreed that an Opposition motion calling on the Government to make an order restricting fishing in waters situated within 50 nautical miles should be taken in conjunction with the motion which I have moved so that the two may be debated together. I should like before concluding to refer to this Opposition motion.

This motion is based on the argument that the relevant section of the [249] Accession Treaty dealing with fishing rights, and comprising Articles 100 to 103 of that Treaty, is “rendered inapplicable by the extension of exclusive fishery limits by all member states”.

Regrettably this assertion is ill-founded. The section of the Accession Treaty referred to in the Opposition motion is expressed in the form of a temporary derogation from the provisions of Article 2 of Regulation (EEC) No. 2141/70—later consolidated in Regulation 101/76—on the establishment of a common structural policy for the fishing industry. The terms of these articles of the Accession Treaty provide for a temporary derogation permitting member states for a period to restrict fishing in waters under their sovereignty or jurisdiction situated within a limit of six nautical miles, which is, however, extended to 12 nautical miles for certain areas specified in Article 101.

Basically what we are bound by is Council regulation 2141/70 subject only to such derogations as were agreed at the time of membership and as are incorporated in the Accession Treaty. The relevant article of Regulation 2141/70 is Article 2 which says that “rules applied by each member state in respect of fishing in the maritime waters coming under its sovereignty or within its jurisdiction shall not lead to differences in treatment of other member states. Member states shall ensure in particular equal conditions of access to and use of the fishing grounds situated in the waters referred to in the preceding subparagraph for all fishing vessels flying the flag of a member state and registered in Community territory”.

Unfortunately for us nothing in the form of the derogation negotiated by the preceding Government with the European Community of that time modified or purported to modify the broad provisions of Article 2, save to the extent that a temporary derogation within limits of six or 12 miles was agreed.

I think it unfortunate that at the time of the negotiation we did not succeed in securing a more fundamental [250] modification of Article 2141/70 which would have covered the case that the Opposition are now belatedly making. As I have said on a previous occasion in this House, I am not conversant with the details of these negotiations, and therefore I am not in a position to say whether any attempt was made to seek a more fundamental modification of this kind. Whether or not this was attempted, the fact is that it was not achieved and we are left with a position which has been succinctly summed up by the legal department of the Council of Ministers in the following terms: “As the arrangements under Regulation No. 101/76 (which consolidates 2141/70) apply to maritime waters over which a member state exercised its sovereignty or jurisdiction, they would therefore apply ipso facto to the 200-mile zone, with the proviso that, within the 12-mile zone, they applied having regard to Articles 100 et seq. of the Act.”

Consequently the making of an order by the Government under section 3 of the Maritime Jurisdiction (Amendment) Act, 1964, restricting fishing in waters situated within 50 nautical miles, calculated from the base-lines of the State, to vessels which operate from ports in the State, would be in conflict with the terms of Regulation 2141/70 and would accordingly have no legal force in Community law or, by virtue of the Constitution as amended in 1972, in the domestic law of this State.

Mr. O'Kennedy: I understand from the fact that we can have only one motion before the House, it will be in order for us to refer to the terms of our motion also.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: They are being discussed together.

Mr. O'Kennedy: We have learned for the first time in the latter part of the Minister's speech his reaction to the motion which we circulated as well and which is now being debated simultaneously with the motion as named. What we are doing here this afternoon on the face of it has no [251] relationship whatsoever to the European Economic Community. The Minister will acknowledge that the order we are being asked to make makes no reference to the European Community. It is an order which we, as a coastal State consistent with the single negotiating text now before the International Law of the Sea Conference, are making and that in effect is the only business before the House, that we as a nation and as a Parliament extend exclusively the 200-mile limit as far as fisheries are concerned consequent on the consensus which has been presented at the International Law of the Sea Conference.

What we have been asked to do this afternoon is not, of course, the full story at all. The Minister's opening speech makes reference to the other story, that is the position of the European Community. It does highlight the fact that only this Parliament will have the power exclusively to order this extension of our limits to 200 miles, as has already been done by other countries such as America, Canada, many countries in South America and Iceland, and arrangements for it are under way in the United Kingdom as well. We are following what many other coastal states have done. The difference in our case is that we are following it at a time when we have already conceded to the European Community the strength of our special position as a coastal State to protect our needs in this and our future potential for the fishing industry and the economy of our country as a whole. This is where the very serious and significant clash arises between Government and Opposition on this motion.

On the face of it we all are, of course, supporting an extension of our exclusive limit to 200 miles, which is what is being asked for here today. Were we not members of the European Community what we would be doing here would be in line with what other countries are doing without any qualification whatever. Two hundred miles is exclusive to this country, Germany, Holland, France — apart [252] from the west coast of France where the fishing grounds are not by any means of comparison rich — cannot through themselves do anything under the proposals before the International Law of the Sea Conference to secure for themselves or the European Community any economic coastal zone up to 200 miles. We as a coastal State can. That is our trump card and we have now been placed in the position that we agreed at the last meeting of the Council not to play this trump card until the game is already concluded and to allow some other player at the table to take the spoils, to win the praise, and afterwards with the trump card in our hands when the game is over to say that we rely on their goodwill to give us a share of what is ours by right under the concept of the 200-miles economic zone at present contained in the text before the International Law of the Sea Conference.

Let me ask the Minister some simple, precise questions. He has this afternoon repeated what he said on a few occasions in this House, that it is unfortunate, as he said at the time of our negotiations, that we did not secure more fundamental modifications in Article 2141/70 which would have covered the case now made. I want to ask the Minister, as one who actively supported our accession to the European Community, once and for all did he ever at that stage utter one syllable, make one whisper of reservation, express any inhibitions, he himself or the Opposition as they then were at that time——

A Deputy: Yes.

Mr. O'Kennedy: ——through the Treaty of Accession that we entered into at that stage in relation to these fishery negotiations that we should have reserved to us a position which would take into account the development in international law? I want the Minister in reply to say if he did, or if he did not, why not. I want him to clear the implication that had he been entrusted with the negotiations at that time, with the benefit of foresight, he [253] would have seen what he did not see because it was not relevant at the time.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Why was it not relevant at the time?

Mr. O'Kennedy: The Minister can reply to this——

Dr. FitzGerald: We were not negotiating. Fianna Fáil were.

Mr. O'Kennedy: I presume the Minister would have felt obliged, having regard to the interest and concern he had for our membership of the Community, at least to inform himself on matters that would have been of such fundamental importance. I grant that he informed himself, but I want to tell him that it is wrong and misleading for him to come here four years later and say “Yes, the Opposition, Government at the time, conceded what they should not have conceded.” I am concerned that the Minister at least be consistent. If he can point to even one occasion when he mentioned the slightest caution, I will keep silent. He knows and I know that not once did he enter a reservation. If he did, what he is saying now would be consistent.

The reservation would not have been appropriate because at that time the structural policy of the European Community in the fishing area was within the international law, as it was known then, and the existing waters within our sovereignty or jurisdiction were from six to 12 miles. They took no account of any concept of a 200 mile economic zone for the simple reason that such a concept did not exist and did not come into being as a real proposal until two years after the Treaty of Accession. Not until the first stage of the International Law of the Sea Conference was under way was this proposal first presented.

It is misleading for the Minister to come here and imply that what was not even contemplated at that time was relevant. Not only is he misleading us but he is defeating his own case. Our position is this: in so far as the Treaty of Accession which we entered into at the time was made [254] within the existing international legal framework and the international rights, it was binding. When, as the documents of the Commission acknowledged, a new element entered into it two years later, and when the economic zone concept of the 200 miles for coastal States was widely promoted and accepted, the EEC and every country concerned in this area saw that a new dimension had entered into it, that a new regime was contemplated and in the light of that new regime there would be a qualification, an amendment and even a repeal of agreements which up to then were being regarded as binding. The fact that the Community are now proposing to extend before 1982 the derogations, which were conceded to us in the Treaty of Accession some four years ago, is a recognition of changed circumstances since that agreement was entered into. Either the Minister accepts that as being the strength of his position or he does not.

He cannot come into this House and pretend that this order might have been contemplated in 1972. He cannot pretend that world circumstances are the same as they were then. He cannot justify the failure of his negotiations at the moment— allowing for the magnificent Press to which I may refer later—by reference to what he might call the oversight of the previous Government, an oversight he shared with them. I do not accept that it was an oversight.

I would like now to refer to some statements the Minister made which confirm what I am saying in relation to the previous position. He made a speech at the meeting of the EEC Council of Ministers in Luxembourg on 18th and 19th October, 1976. That was not too long ago and it should be sufficiently recent to be clear in his mind. We see some amazing cartwheel-turns between what he said then and what he is saying here this afternoon. He said:

I should perhaps begin by referring back to the origins of the common fisheries policy adopted by the Council of the original Community of Six separate countries in 1970. [255] As an applicant country, the regulations implementing the policy faced us with a fait accompli which provoked great resentment in Ireland as, I believe, it did in Britain. It was seen by our people, and I may add by the then Government and the Opposition of that time, as involving the attempted imposition on the prospective Community of Nine of a policy that suited the interest of a Community of Six, a policy which indeed gave to the original Six who had largely fished out their own waters a potential right of unlimited access to the waters of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

He then went on to say:

We had no practical alternative as applicant Members but to accept this move, which, however, we viewed as being contrary to the whole spirit of the Community as we had understood it to be at that time. The alternative would have been to have remained excluded from the Community to which our ideals and, be it said, our interests in other respects commit us.

The Minister who said “we had no alternative but to accept the conditions” six weeks ago, implied in this House a week ago and again today that if he had been doing the business of this nation at that time things would have been different.

I would like him to come clean on this once and for all. While we all realise the difficulties he is facing in these negotiations, these difficulties should be presented fairly. But he should not—and I say this advisedly —mislead the House in the interpretation he is trying to put on the constraints which exist at the moment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy should not use the phrase “mislead the House”.

Mr. O'Kennedy: The record speaks for itself. I can only put an interpretation on that, regrettable though it may be.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy is aware that to “mislead the House” is unparliamentary.

[256] Mr. E. Collins: On a point of order, should the Deputy not be asked to withdraw the allegation that the Minister is misleading the House?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair takes it that the Deputy does not mean the Minister is deliberately misleading the House.

Mr. E. Collins: Does the Deputy have to withdraw the remark?

Mr. O'Kennedy: The effect of this is that the House is being misled. Whether the Minister is doing that deliberately or for any other reason is a matter for him to answer.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: “Deliberately misleading” is not parliamentary.

Mr. Haughey: I never heard of that ruling.

Mr. Brennan: It is used every day.

Mr. E. Collins: On a point of order, will the Deputy withdraw the remark?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Deputy Collins will be making his statement later; I am making mine now.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair has already mentioned to the Deputy in question that he is not imputing “deliberately misleading the House”.

Mr. O'Kennedy: I rely on the records of this House and I have put this statement on the record too. This House and the people can judge the effect of that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair is assuming that the Deputy is not implying that——

Mr. O'Kennedy: I am relying on the records of this House and I will leave it to the House and the country to make their own judgments.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair takes it that the Deputy is not imputing that the Minister is “deliberately misleading”——

Dr. FitzGerald: I accept that.

[257] Mr. O'Kennedy: The Minister referred to a Council resolution of 30th October, No. 101 of 76, which quite clearly refers to an extension to 200 miles and clearly recommends consideration of that extension. It is from the beginning of 1976 that the new position emerged within the Community which should have enabled us to secure the special interests of our fishing and ancillary industries. The Minister will accept that the purpose of the Commission's proposals to the Council, and adopted by the Council, was to enable the Commission to negotiate with third countries in regard to rights of access for those countries within the 200-mile zone, and equally to give, by way of agreement and exchange, to the fishing states of most of the Community exchange rights of access to the exclusive zones of third countries such as Iceland, Norway and so forth.

The progress of events in this regard derives from the interests of Community member states to guarantee their access to waters to which they have not access. We in Ireland have always fished exclusively within our own jurisdiction and because of the pursuing of the right of access to third country waters we have conceded to the Commission the right to negotiate with these third countries exchange rights in waters which are exclusively, as a result of this order, within our jurisdiction.

By agreeing, as the Minister has done, with the Council decision in The Hague in October, and by accepting the resolution giving to the Commission the right to negotiate with third countries, the Minister has thrown away our strongest trump. The Minister has said that is not so, that it is quite the opposite, that our position has been strengthened as a result of the Council decision. If the Minister can point to me anything to confirm that, I will be glad because I cannot understand how our position has been strengthened. There has been informal agreement on the needs of the Irish fishing and ancillary industries, we have been told, yet we have conceded the legal basis on which our strong position was being maintained.

[258] It is obvious that the negotiations which the Commission are now conducting with third countries will not confer any benefit on us as a nation or on anyone engaged in the fishing and ancillary industries. Indeed, it is obvious from the proposals we read about recently that the reverse is the case, that it will allow the Commission to grant rights of access to fishing fleets from Russia, from Iceland, from Norway, even from America, to waters which are within our exclusive jurisdiction.

What is the return for us as a sovereign nation anxious to develop our fishing industry? The Council are prepared to acknowledge that we should be encouraged and supported in our endeavours to develop our fishing industry, and this is the quid pro quo, called a concession, which gives the fishing fleets of those developed nations access to waters from which they would be excluded otherwise. I am sure the Community would have wished that this question of an economic zone, or any such plan, had never arisen, because I am sure the Community would be happy if that had not happened, if they could have fished in Icelandic or Norwegian waters without this concession.

The coastal states quite often were the undeveloped states of the world although they had natural resources which to some extent compensated them for the disadvantages they had as island countries. We have the natural advantage of being an island and of having the resource of the fishing around our coast. On the other hand, however, as an island we have the natural disadvantage of being distant from the markets for our exports and imports which we need in order to maintain our industrial arm. We have to balance our extra costs in importing and exporting from and to the Community in order to be able to compete with countries in the centre of the Community, like Holland, Germany and France.

The Community have recognised that the countries on the periphery, by virtue of being on the periphery, ipso facto are at a disadvantage. If [259] Germany, Holland, France and Belgium are to be allowed to exploit their location in being near the markets, then we should be allowed to enjoy the natural advantage we have in regard to exclusive fishing waters. It is true that the EEC fishing fleets have been very much responsible for fishing out the resources of the waters we are now concerned with, waters which all of us are concerned to protect. The EEC, the Commission and the Council chose to ignore these facts and now ask us to agree to a system which in future will be related to performances in the past, which performances were the root cause of our present problem—the overfishing of these waters. If quotas are to be based on past performances of the fishing fleets of Community states, they will be neither equitable nor fair and will not take any account of our needs or of our development potential. We would have the strange irony that the countries and the fleets responsible for the problems we face are now to be rewarded for having over-fished, exploited and exhausted the resources of our fishing grounds.

I wish to refer to some other aspects of the Treaty of Accession which must be clarified, in particular Article 103. It is important that we recognise the strength of our position. On this matter, the Minister spoke in this House recently at Question Time. At column 1116 of the Official Report dated 1st December, 1976, with regard to Article 103 he said that he regarded the article as being a condition precedent of a new fishing regime. He stated:

I do so regard it and I have in fact, as the Deputy is aware, made that particular point in my juridical argument before the Council of Ministers. In my view the review, as I have regarded it at this time taking place now, not being based on a separate and adequate report, is a defective review. I argued that before the Council of Ministers.

The Minister went on to say:

The Commission argued on the contrary, that their communication to the Council on which the proposal [260] before the Council was founded contains data which it can legally be sustained, in their view, is such a report. I have not accepted that.

The Minister told us last week that the Commission now say, and have argued before the Council, that to that extent they have complied with the provisions of Article 103. I want to repeat that on a visit by an all-party committee of the House—Deputy Esmonde was on the committee—to the EEC Commission within the last two months when we raised the question of Article 103—I believe for the first time in any substantial way with the Commission; the Minister does not accept that but I know from the response of the Commission that it was not presented in a positive fashion by the Government before that—the Commission acknowledged that no such report or survey had been done. Deputy Esmonde was with me in discussions subsequently when representatives of the Commission acknowledged that this was the case. I have checked with individual members of the deputation, not all of them from this side of the House, and they have told me that at no stage did the Commission even begin to suggest that any such report or survey had been undertaken by them. However, the Minister told us last week that the Commission now say that is the case.

I find it very difficult to accept that the Commission could turn completely in such a short time on what they freely volunteered to the all-party Committee. If that is the case, it is a very belated opinion from the Commission and it is not an argument that is convincing. Whatever has been done, obviously it does not conform with the provisions of Article 103 and I was amazed when the Minister told us that the Commission are relying on that argument at the moment.

I should like the Minister at some stage to present to the House the formal statement of the Commission's position incorporating that argument on their behalf. To me it is absolutely incomprehensible that they should make that argument at this stage.

[261] Dr. FitzGerald: The Commission's statement was made verbally in Council; there is not a verbatim record of it. I would ask the Deputy to confirm that the contrary statements were made by a member of the Commission, not just by some member of the Commission staff.

Mr. O'Kennedy: They were made by a member of the Commission staff——

Dr. FitzGerald: Then, it was not made by a member of the Commission. The Deputy is talking only about the staff.

Mr. O'Kennedy: They were senior members of the Commission staff whom I presume would be the ones who would present the proposals to the commissioners concerned.

Dr. FitzGerald: I am talking of a formal statement made by a commissioner on behalf of the Commission——

Mr. Esmonde: It was not a statement made by a commissioner.

Mr. O'Kennedy: In the Minister's interests and in ours, I wish to have for the record a copy of that formal statement. If the Minister is saying that is being used against him, that it is one of the difficulties he is facing, I reject it. Let us have a clear position on this matter. I do not want to have this debate conducted on the basis of unreal arguments which the Commission may be presenting as difficulties when I do not regard them as any such difficulties. If that is being presented as a difficulty in our path, I presume the Minister will accept from the all-party committee that at no stage did the Commission representatives suggest that a survey had been undertaken.

Article 103 states that before 31st December, 1982, the Commission will present a report to the Council on the economic and social development of the coastal areas of member states and on the state of stocks. On the basis of that report and the objectives of the common fishery policy the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, will examine the [262] provisions that could follow the derogations in force on 31st December, 1982.

At that time it was not contemplated that there would be any change before 31st December, 1982, for the obvious reason that the economic zone concept had not emerged as a principle. Of course before any new regime could be introduced after 1982 the Commission and the Community bound themselves to do a survey of the social and economic development of the coastal regions. They acknowledged to us as an all-party committee—I am surprised they did not so acknowledge to the Minister—that they had not made a survey. In so far as they are not even aware of the social and economic development needs of the coastal regions, they must acknowledge they are not in a position to restrict or limit our rights to the exploitation by our fishermen of an exclusive coastal band of 50 miles which we consider essential for the well-being of our fishing industry and its future development.

Dr. FitzGerald: Perhaps it would help the Deputy if I read what was said in Council:

The Commissioner said he could not accept the criticism of the Irish delegation regarding non-compliance with the requirement in Article 103 of the Accession Treaty regarding a report on the economic and social development of the coastal areas of member states, and the state of stocks. He maintained that the proposals submitted by the Commission constituted that report, particularly with regard to conservation. The Commission could not be criticised for submitting its report earlier than envisaged in the Accession Treaty. He could not agree with the legal arguments put forward. They would make a nonsense of Article 7 of the Rome Treaty.

Mr. O'Kennedy: I am glad the Minister has put that on the record of the House. He has confirmation from us as an all-party committee—I presume it will be available from all sides of the House—that this argument was [263] never made by any representative of the Commission with whom we had discussions. We are surprised that now they take a position that is entirely in conflict with the position taken by their representatives as recently as six weeks ago. I hope the Minister will find his negotiating position strengthened on this issue.

Dr. FitzGerald: I am grateful for the information.

Mr. O'Kennedy: This is obviously a very complex legal area particularly because the whole question of the International Law of the Sea has been in a state of flux, to say the least of it, for some considerable time. There is no fixed criteria which can guide and on which we can say “These are the principles which bind in relation to member states of any international organisation. These are the articles which commit us to a certain course of conduct”. This has been under negotiation for some considerable time at the International Law of the Sea Conference. I am not implying that the advice available to the Minister is anything less than the best legal advice that would be available from our public service. I would like to recognise the diligence of our public servants in this area and their capacity. It seems to me that the issues for our country are so vitally important here that it would be worth the Government's while to engage, on a full-time basis, the advice of three, four or five specialists after discussions in New York, the Commission and elsewhere to present to the Minister a clear position of what our legal rights are, having regard to the newly emerging doctrine of the economic zone concept in particular.

The consequences to Ireland of what will happen in the next couple of years on the fishery question will be enormous. Millions, if not billions will be involved. Obviously it is an area on which we should spare no expense whatsoever. Other countries have the benefit of the best advice in international law which they seconded in many cases from chairs of international law universities, who are working on a full time consultancy basis with their governments, whether [264] it be Canada or otherwise. I presume America has the benefit of a similar kind of advice. Our Government should be supplementing the advice they are getting within their own Departments in this area by the most informed and expert advice available to them at whatever cost, in order to ensure that those most vitally important issues for our country will be determined to our advantage without leaving any possibility of overlooking any legal form or right which would strengthen our position.

Mr. Esmonde: The Deputy knows we are able to look after ourselves.

Mr. O'Kennedy: So are we. The Deputy will recognise, even on the rather cursory observations which we, as a committee had on this question from a legal point of view, that points emerge which all of us recognise were not presented before. If they had, certainly the reaction from the Commission representatives did not indicate they had been presented before. I feel it was too late at that time to have those very important legal issues discussed when in January, when the first Council regulation was adopted, this matter was very much an issue. We are now at the final minute of the final hour but even now it is vitally important that every avenue of our legal right in the international area is fully explored by people who would devote their full attention to it, working in co-operation and supplementing the advice available to the Minister from his own Department.

Mr. Esmonde: Is the Deputy suggesting that the Minister has not the best advice?

Mr. O'Kennedy: I am not saying that and nothing I have said would imply that. I want to refer to Council Regulation No. 101 of 1976. This is the regulation of January, 1976. It was drafted, obviously like so many others subsequently, in the light of the desirability of the member states extending their exclusive zone to 200 miles. This document was meant to be, and is at the moment, the guiding principle of the Community in relation to the structural policy of the European [265] Community in the fishing area. During some discussions we had in the House recently the Minister said that our representatives at the UN always take account of the preambles to documents when determining if they should support the motion presented in that document.

Council Regulation No. 101 of 19th January, 1976, has some very significant preambles in it. One of them states that “Whereas sea fisheries form the most important part of the fishing industry as a whole; whereas they have their own social structure in fish under special conditions” and it goes on to state “Whereas, subject to certain specific conditions concerning the flag or the registration of their ships, Community fishermen must have equal access to and use of fishing grounds in maritime waters coming under the sovereignty or within the jurisdiction of member states”. That was in January, 1976.

Dr. FitzGerald: It is a consolidating regulation.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Yes, but it is a new regulation of January, 1976, taking account of the new developments that have occurred since the other regulation of 1970, otherwise what is the purpose of this regulation in 1976?

Dr. FitzGerald: It is a consolidating one.

Mr. O'Kennedy: It is not just consolidating. It is a new statement from the Council having regard to new developments. It is more than a consolidating regulation. It is the statement from the Council in January of this year of what principles are to be applied in the proposals from the Community with regard to the development of the fishing industry of the member states. In January, 1976, when the debate of the economic zone was under way and this whole question was certainly very much in the air and when the International Law of the Sea Conference was in session in New York and this whole [266] question of the right of the coastal state was already very much an issue our Minister adopted, with other Ministers, a preamble which recognised almost 11 months ago that fishermen of member states would have equal access to the use of fishing grounds in maritime waters coming under the sovereignty or within the jurisdiction of member states. If the Minister can blame the Government of four years ago for not taking account of what did not then exist surely we are entitled at least to blame him as our negotiator at that time for ignoring what existed in 1976?

There are some further preambles in this particular Council regulation. It is quite clear that there is no preamble that takes account of the special position of Ireland, the special position of coastal regions, or the special commitment which the Community should have towards the coastal regions.

Dr. FitzGerald: This is a consolidating regulation comprising the text of what was there in 1970, subject to the dropping of transitional measures which have disappeared just as our Constitution no longer has transitional measures. There is no new matter in it at all. It is simply consolidating the existing regulations of 1970. The Deputy's argument is therefore pointless.

Mr. O'Kennedy: It is stated to be a Council regulation laying down a common structural policy for the fishing industry.

Dr. FitzGerald: It is consolidating what was there in 1970.

Mr. O'Kennedy: It is not quite the same and the Minister knows that.

Dr. FitzGerald: It is, except for transitional measures.

Mr. O'Kennedy: This is what has changed. I say to the Minister, because it has changed, that the principles of the 1970 Council regulation should have been capable of being changed in the light of the circumstances that have emerged since 1970.

[267] Dr. FitzGerald: Consolidating legislation cannot change except in so far as transitional measures are concerned.

Mr. O'Kennedy: The transitional provisions have totally changed as the Minister knows.

Dr. FitzGerald: Yes, to the extent that the transitional measures had disappeared, are no longer applicable and are dissolved, otherwise the text is the same. It is a consolidating regulation.

Mr. O'Kennedy: If they are to be dropped the Minister should see that it is as relevant to introduce articles and guarantees which will safeguard the new provisions.

Dr. FitzGerald: We cannot introduce anything into a consolidating regulation. The Deputy knows that.

Mr. O'Kennedy: If the Minister is only relying on the fact that it is a consolidating regulation that is a procedural point. If there is a Council regulation, which lays down the common structural policy for the fishing industry, it was open to our Minister at least to propose that there should have been incorporated in a new regulation if not in this consolidating regulation in some other preambles or articles which would take account of the changing of international law since 1972 and some guarantees which would take account of Ireland's special position. That has not been done. Article 2 of that regulation goes on to say:

Rules applied by each Member State in respect of fishing in the maritime waters coming under its sovereignty or within its jurisdiction shall not lead to differences in treatment of other Member States.

For approximately nine or ten months, while all of this was being prevented by way of consolidating regulations or otherwise, while it was obvious that the Commission wanted to have a negotiating right on behalf of the Community with third countries, while it was obvious that we would reach a deadline by the 1st January, 1977, the Minister waited until October of [268] this year at the Hague Summit to get a position which would strengthen the negotiating position on behalf of the Irish fishermen within the context of the European Community. It is inexplicable that we should have allowed this matter to develop to this point. Some time ago, prior to the Summit at the Hague, we asked the Minister to have a debate in this House on the fishery question, and the Minister stated that it would be harmful and that it would weaken his negotiating position. The result is that after the event, after the Minister has agreed to extend our limit to 200 miles by arrangement with the European Community, we are asked formally to authorise what the Minister has already bound himself to do. We ask the Minister what is the quid pro quo for the authority which only we can give to the European Community? We see no such exchange and we see no legal obligation on this Parliament to take up the position which is obviously meant to strengthen the negotiating hand of the European Community with third countries but which is not directed to ensuring the development of our fishing industry.

The Minister will recognise that the Treaty of Accession in 1972 contained a protocol which took account of the special position of Ireland. As a protocol to a binding international agreement merits some recognition by the European Community, I have asked the Minister on more than one occasion if he has ever called this protocol into question to support the position he is negotiating on our behalf. One must put the terms of this protocol before the House and analyse whether or not what is being asked of us is in accordance with the terms of the protocol negotiated for us in 1972. It says:

The high contracting parties, desiring to settle certain special problems of concern to Ireland, and having agreed the following provisions, recall that the fundamental objectives of the European Economic Community include the steady improvement of the living standards and working conditions of the people of the Member States and [269] the harmonious development of their economies by reducing the difference existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions;

If they recall all of that as being one of the fundamental objectives of the European Economic Community, now is the time to remind them that, far from reducing the differences between the less favoured regions and the developed regions, they are proposing to prevent the less favoured regions from exploiting their own natural resources in the interests of the highly developed and prosperous regions of the Community. Even if we are not asking them to do something positive, having regard to the provisions of Protocol No. 30 at least we can ask that they refrain from doing something negative which is totally inconsistent with the provisions of Protocol No. 30. It goes on to say:

Take note of the fact that the Irish Government has embarked upon the implementation of a policy of industrialisation and economic development designed to align the standards of living in Ireland with those of the other European nations and to eliminate underemployment while progressively evening out regional differences in levels of development;

Recognise it to be in their common interest that the objectives of this policy be so attained;

Agree to recommend to this end that the Community institutions implement all the means and procedures laid down by the EEC Treaty, particularly by making adequate use of the Community resources intended for the realisation of the Community's above mentioned objectives;

Recognise in particular that, in the application of Articles 92 and 93 of the EEC Treaty, it will be necessary to take into account the objectives of economic expansion and the raising of the standard of living of the population.

Has the Minister or any spokesman on our behalf presented a clear programme [270] of our fishery developments over the next five to ten years to the Community? Has the Community been told what is involved in this in relation to employment around the west coast of Ireland in ancillary industry? Has anything been presented to the Commission which says: “This is what we are proposing to do and this is what we call upon you to acknowledge and support under the provisions of Protocol No. 30, which was a special protocol negotiated on the occasion of our Treaty of Accession”?

In the course of questions to this House over the last few weeks it has appeared that there is no fishery development plan in existence, and if there is no plan it is not surprising that the European Community do not take account of what does not exist. If the blame is our own for not moving in an urgent way to do what we should do, we should not blame the Community for not acknowledging the need to develop what we have not presented to them in clear and unambiguous terms. If we are to be allowed to develop our own fishing industry to the extent that we may in three years have twice the potential catch we have at the moment, what are the present plans to ensure that this will be done? If we have such plans, what programme have the Government set for BIM or for the marine manufacturers of this country to enable extra boats that will be needed for this development programme to be manufactured exclusively in this country? If we are going to undertake urgently a determined fishery development plan we will obviously need extra boats. The Federation of Marine Manufacturers are concerned about this. There is no blueprint, programme or any statement, published or otherwise, of what the Government's boat building programme will be and on which this important section of our industry can act within the next months or years. If we are to move urgently surely there should be such a programme both for the fishery industry and for ancillary industries associated with it.

The Minister said this afternoon: [271] In the light of developments in the Law of the Sea Conference the Commission made proposals in September this year for certain elements of a new Community fishery regime.

That confirms the point I have been making since the start of my contribution here this afternoon.

It is in the light of the development of the Law of the Sea Conference that the Commission are making their new proposals, and I quote, “for certain elements in a new Community fishery regime”. On the Minister's own statement everything has changed utterly in the light of those developments and it is in the light of those developments that we say the regulations entered into before these developments were contemplated are no longer applicable. It is in the light of those that we say we are now entitled, because of what we are conferring on the Community, to retain for ourselves at least the minimum guarantees we need, guarantees all of us recognise can only be provided under an exclusive coastal band of 50 miles.

We recognise that in the first years of this new exclusive coastal band it will not be possible for our fishing fleet to supply the existing consumer market in Europe. Our fishermen recognise this. They recognise there is a consumer demand on the European mainland that they could not possibly supply and, on that basis, we now repeat to the Government our proposal that what the Government should do is insist on the exclusive 50-mile limit and, within that limit, to do what they are already doing in exploration and other areas, namely, grant licences as a sovereign Government to certain fishing fleets from certain traditional member states, subject to review each year on the year by our Government after consultation with our fishing industry to ensure these licences granted by us will not be operated to the disadvantage of our fishing industry and ultimately to the disadvantage of our economy as a whole. That surely is a consistent position which will guarantee the protection of the Community consumer to a very considerable extent because the [272] fishing fleets from some of the Community states will be given access under licence and the result will be that our fishermen, our industry and our economy generally will benefit from what is after all ours and no one else's.

The waters that we will now apparently be bringing within our sovereignty and jurisdiction were not within our sovereignty and jurisdiction and were not contemplated as being within them and so did not come within the terms of our Treaty of Accession. To the extent that they did not do so we now find ourselves in a new position. The Minister can present his side of it and I do not think he does it with any great enthusiasm but rather more as an argument presented to him. Contracts are made in the light of conditions that exist and in the light of what the contracting parties agree to and bind each other. If circumstances that did not exist and could not have been contemplated intervene subsequently that changes the whole nature of the agreement and the contract in either civil or international role cannot then be interpreted as if the events and facts subsequently known were known when the contract was originally entered into. It is on that basis our party insist that the minimum quid pro quo of our extending our limits to 200 miles, and we alone can do it, is that we be given the exclusive right for our fishermen to a 50-mile limit and, if we are not given that exclusive right, then our party will have to consider what attitude it will take on the Minister's motion.

Mr. E. Collins: As a member of a coastal constituency which contains the second largest fishing port in Ireland, Dunmore East, I am naturally very interested in the question of fishery limits, the protection of fish stocks and the development of our fishing fleet. I have been so interested since I came in here in 1969. Sitting here today listening to the debate, if one did not know better, one might get the impression that the whole question of fishery limits, rights of access, exclusive bands, conservation and all the other matters vitally [273] affecting our fishing industry suddenly blossomed up overnight and had never existed before and we must now press a little button in order to sort out everything. Of course we cannot do so. All these problems were there before and the current position has been reached because of years of mishandling of the whole matter by what is now the Opposition party in this House.

I take exception to the statement of Deputy O'Kennedy when he accused the Minister for Foreign Affairs of misleading the House. I am sure his lack of generosity in not withdrawing that remark will be noted and I hope the Minister will take the opportunity of replying to it in no uncertain fashion.

I should like now to go back in time to establish the line of thought in this whole matter and I am sure I will be forgiven if I quote from the Official Report. The debate is very enlightening. First of all, in Volume 249, column 588 of the Official Report of 4th November, 1970, there is a somewhat lengthy question and answer session. Two questions were addressed to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy J. Gibbons, by Deputy Begley and myself respectively. The Minister replied:

The question of common access to fishery waters as provided for in the common fisheries policy of the European Communities was raised by the Irish delegation at the Ministerial meetings with the Communities, who agreed to take careful note of our views. The Irish delegation has submitted a comprehensive memorandum on the subject and it was also further discussed at a meeting in Brussels on 20th October with the Communities. It is intended to pursue the matter further in the course of the entry negotiations.

Mr. E. Collins: Is the Minister aware of the grave concern expressed by fishermen on our access to the EEC if our fishery waters are thrown open to European countries?

Mr. J. Gibbons: Yes, I am so aware and this concern is being expressed in the proper quarter in the [274] discussions which are at present going on in Brussels.

Mr. Begley: Can the Minister tell the House what assurances he got from the Common Market countries in view of the fact that they now have adopted a Common Market policy for fisheries and Ireland was not even consulted when this policy was adopted?

Mr. J. Gibbons: This whole subject is still the subject of negotiation with the Community in Brussels at the present time and I do not think it is appropriate, therefore, to go into it further here and now.

Dr. FitzGerald: Is the Minister aware of the helpful, informal suggestions made by Dr. Mansholt at the recent seminar in Dublin in response to a question I put to him on the subject? Will he follow up those suggestions?

Mr. J. Gibbons: Every suggestion which is helpful to the interests of the Irish fishermen the House can rest assured will be followed to its utmost.

Dr. FitzGerald: Is the Minister aware of the suggestion made?

Mr. J. Gibbons: I am not aware of the suggestion that Deputy FitzGerald is referring to.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Is the Deputy suggesting that the suggestion Deputy FitzGerald was referring to was something which would enable us to make a claim in the economic zone two years later?

Mr. E. Collins: I am not making that suggestion.

Mr. O'Kennedy: I thought that was the Deputy's intervention earlier.

Mr. E. Collins: This quotation is independent entirely of either the Minister's speech or the Deputy's speech. I give it because it enables the House to get the attitude of the then Fianna Fáil Government. It was obvious to us, including the Minister, then Deputy Dr. FitzGerald, that the then Government were not capable of making the derogations from the Treaty in their negotiations which would protect our fishery limits, conserve [275] our fishery stocks or, indeed, lead to the expansion of the fishing industry. The whole attitude of the then Government was one of arrogance and indifference. There were practically no consultations with outside bodies interested in the industry. The answers given in the House to the parliamentary questions were such as to give the impression that the then Government were not really interested in the industry. I wish to quote now from column 677, Volume 256 of the Official Report of 10th November, 1971, in relation to questions put down by Deputy Kavanagh, Deputy Ryan, now Minister for Finance, Deputy Creed and myself. The Tánaiste, then Deputy Corish, in the course of supplementary questions to the Minister, asked:

Are the Government giving serious consideration to the idea of protection for a certain part of our coastline to the exclusion of the rest of the coastline? Would the Minister please bear in mind in these negotiations that the fishing grounds which have been deemed to be overfished in recent years due to the incursion of foreign trawlers are the fishing waters of South Wexford and South Waterford particularly as far as herrings are concerned? Would the Minister clarify the position of Mr. Brendan O'Kelly, head of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, who was excluded from the negotiations? Will the Minister not admit that this man has been and is a key figure in the fishing industry?

The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Brian Lenihan, replied:

I wish to emphasise that this is a Governmental matter in which we are seeking to preserve the rights which we have at this time and in this particular negotiation, which, as I say, has been adjourned until 29th November, we are all for seeking to preserve the situation along with Norway, Denmark and Britain.

In a further supplementary question I asked:

Is the Minister not aware that unless this Government makes it quite clear to the Council of Ministers in Europe that we reject the principle [276] of free access the Government is putting into jeopardy the livelihood of all inshore fishermen?

The reply the Minister gave me was:

I wish Deputies would not play politics with this important matter.

Mr. Haughey: On a point of order, I understand the position is that our motion may be discussed with the Government motion. Has our motion been circulated to the House? It is not on the Order Paper because there is no Private Members' time.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I believe it has been circulated in a White Paper.

Mr. Haughey: We would like it circulated so that Deputy Collins and Deputy Esmonde would know what we have in mind.

Mr. E. Collins: I received a copy this morning.

Mr. Haughey: I am sorry for interrupting the Deputy.

Mr. E. Collins: Again I give these quotations, and I am sorry they are so lengthy, to explain to the House the arrogance and indifference of that Government to the whole question of our negotiations, to draw attention to the exclusion of people who were involved in the industry at the time of the negotiations for our entry.

The last quotation I have is from column 865, Volume 258, of the Official Report of the 3rd February, 1972, at which time the negotiations had been completed. This quotation is somewhat lengthy, but I think it is worthwhile, because the moaning and groaning we are now hearing from the Opposition is in stark contrast to the stand they maintained in 1972. The then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries said:

The most important development affecting our fisheries in recent years is, without doubt, Ireland's application for membership of the EEC. As Deputies are aware, one vital aspect of the EEC fisheries policy which came into operation on 1st February, 1971, had been a [277] cause of concern to all of us. This concern arose from that part of the Community policy which provided for equality of access to and exploitation of fishery waters of each member State by the fishing vessels of the other member States. However, after protracted negotiations we have been successful in securing a satisfactory arrangement which has removed what we regarded as a serious threat to the livelihood of our fishermen and to the continued expansion of our fishing industry. This represented a major breakthrough, having regard to the position adopted by the Community earlier in the negotiations.

That was a complete and total defence of the derogation clauses which Fianna Fáil then negotiated. The House might like to know that in that discussion on Vote 38, Fisheries, it was the first time in which the regulations vitally affecting the fishery industry were discussed in the House. They happened to be raised by me, regulations 2141/70 and 4142. The then Parliamentary Secretary who was introducing the Supplementary Estimate made no reference whatever to those regulations, and they were discussed in my contribution and that of Deputy Keating, now Minister for Industry and Commerce. It was pointed out and I want to make this clear to the House and particularly to Deputy O'Kennedy, who has accused either the Minister, Deputy Dr. FitzGerald, or other Members of the Fine Gael and Labour Parties of not taking any other stance in that period. This is not so and if any Member of the House who may or may not be interested in the fishing industry takes time to go through the volumes of the Dáil Debates from 1969 to 1973 and particularly the Estimate from which I have just quoted, it will be quite plain to him that we in Opposition took violent exception to the negotiations which Fianna Fáil have made in respect of fisheries, and were completely dissatisfied with the derogations made in relation to the Accession Treaty.

Mr. O'Kennedy: May I ask the [278] Deputy to refer us to one precise proposal from any Member of the then Opposition which would have ensured that our position under the extended economic zone would have been protected?

Mr. E. Collins: The whole debate is here.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Just one proposal from any source.

Mr. E. Collins: We made a comprehensive statement under that Estimate. I doubt if the Deputy has read it.

Mr. O'Kennedy: He has picked out one sentence.

Mr. E. Collins: I will go back then.

Mr. Haughey: Raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. O'Kennedy: It is obvious that the Deputy is not going to find it and he should not waste the time of the House.

Mr. E. Collins: I will find it. I have given so many quotations that it is difficult to find the relevant one. I should like to put on record another quotation by the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, as reported in Volume 258, column 1950, of the Official Report, which is:

Concern has been expressed in this debate, I think, by Deputy Collins about the future of the herring industry. I think I am right in saying that he described what was achieved in Brussels, even in the last few moments, as a sell-out. I should like to say that this criticism bears no relation whatsoever to the facts.

Mr. Brennan: Hear, hear.

Mr. E. Collins: That was the attitude of the Government then. It is more obvious that it is the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party since then. We must bear in mind also that at that time it was accepted that there was over-fishing, but the Government of the day were incapable of comprehending the problems facing the industry and incapable of negotiating sufficient derogation [279] clauses in respect of fisheries to protect the industry. Our fishermen know too well the result of the treaty negotiated by Fianna Fáil on behalf of the country.

That was a damning debate and one which will stand to the discredit of Fianna Fáil for a considerable time. It ill behoves them to start crying here about the present situation when they were responsible for bringing it about. I am pleased that as and from 1st January next we will be establishing a 200-mile exclusive zone in association with our EEC partners. When we joined the EEC we automatically accepted our duties and responsibilities. I agree that it is better that the EEC take joint action in relation to any matters affecting member states at international level. I should also like to point out that the London Convention of 1964 was negotiated by Fianna Fáil and that was to the detriment of our fishermen.

The question of what will happen after 1982 is one which needs to be considered. There is need for an interim policy for the conservation of stocks and the protection of the fishing grounds of western Europe. I am aware that the Minister is involved in negotiations in this regard and it ill behoves the spokesman from Fianna Fáil to denigrate his efforts in this respect. It is obvious that quite an amount of work has been put into the question of the development of our fishing industry. The enthusiasm, work and dedication of the Government in relation to the fishing industry stands in stark contrast to what Fianna Fáil did when in Government.

Our claim is for an exclusive 50-mile limit and we are standing over that. I hope it will be successfully negotiated at EEC level under the terms of the common fisheries policy. It is up to us to revise that policy to our best advantage. Such an extension of the limit is vital to an industry which could prosper greatly in the near future. Our industry could prosper greatly if we could prevent illegal fishing of our waters.

On the question of the protection of our existing fishing limits I should like to state that there is a need for the [280] expansion of our naval services. There is also a need for the permanent basing of a fishery protection vessel at Killybegs and Dunmore East at certain times. The law under which illegal fishing vessels are arrested should also be changed. Apparently, the only avenue open to us is to arrest at sea, but an arrest following air surveillance would be a positive step forward in our protection policy. If we adopted such a system we would be protecting our fishing grounds because an aeroplane can cover a greater area than a fishery protection vessel. I should like to know if any EEC aid will be forthcoming for the protection of our fishing grounds.

I was pleased to read in The Irish Times of 1st November that we would receive EEC aid in respect of our fishery protection policy. I hope we will be given a generous grant and that when the EEC are reviewing the policy in relation to protection they will consider changing the procedure of arrest. Conservation is a matter which has been causing concern for some years. At the meeting of the NEAFC some years ago concern was expressed about this and their fears proved correct because this year was the worst herring fishing season experienced in Dunmore East.

Quotas play an important part in the EEC's fishery policy. The Minister for Foreign Affairs sees quotas playing a minor role in the overall situation. We would prefer an exclusive ban of 50 miles. The irresponsible attitude of the Fianna Fáil EEC delegates at a recent European Parliament vote leaves a lot to be desired. There is no harm in having quotas to supplement exclusive fishery limits and to reject them did not do justice to our case at the European level.

Dr. FitzGerald: It is only an excuse to kow-tow to the partners.

Mr. Haughey: That is an inane remark.

Dr. FitzGerald: To abstain on that issue was an inane thing to do. Any system must have quotas, at least for the outer areas.

Mr. Haughey: It was the right thing to do.

[281] Mr. E. Collins: It was not the right thing to do. It was a disservice to our negotiating position and to the Irish fishing industry.

Mr. Brennan: In what way?

Mr. Haughey: The Government are being deluded by their own propaganda.

Dr. FitzGerald: We are not being deluded by yours.

Mr. Haughey: The Government have nothing to show but a bankrupt Exchequer and a ruined economy.

Mr. E. Collins: The Fianna Fáil vote which defeated the motion before the European Parliament deprived that assembly of discussing fishery limits and that is another disservice of which the Fianna Fáil Party can be proud.

Mr. Haughey: That is a mis-statement.

Mr. E. Collins: The question of quotas is a peculiar one and the Fianna Fáil rejection of them is an about face. At column 1953, Volume 258 of the Official Report, the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries said:

The Commission consists of 14 countries and a special study group of the Commission met in Dublin in December, 1970, and reported on the position to the main body. The Commission is now considering adopting powers to introduce measures for regulating the amount of total catch, or the amount of fishing effort, or any other measure we can find to deal with this problem, the problem of the conservation of this very important Dunmore East stock. I find this absolutely necessary.

We are either for or against quotas. It is a matter for the Fianna Fáil Party.

Mr. Haughey: The Deputy will be short of quotas the next time.

Mr. Fahey: Surely Deputy Collins is aware that the herring fishing in Dunmore East is the worst ever. The [282] more quotations he gives the more confused he seems to be.

Mr. E. Collins: The lack of knowledge of the former Parliamentary Secretary, as outlined by my quotations, leaves a lot to be desired.

Mr. Fahey: There is a lack of activity by the present Government.

Mr. E. Collins: There was a lack of activity by Fianna Fáil when the Accession Treaty was being negotiated. The arrogance of the Fianna Fáil Party at that time has led to the present sad state of the fishing industry. We are now trying to remedy the situation and Fianna Fáil are trying to jump on the bandwaggon. Why did Fianna Fáil not introduce a 50-mile zone when they were in Government? Where were ye when the candle was lighting? Fianna Fáil do not know what they want. The records show that they were a negative Government with no respect for the potential livelihood of thousands——

Mr. Brennan: The figure is 130,000.

Mr. E. Collins: The Minister has put the case correctly. There is nothing that Deputy Brennan can do or say to move me from my stand in this respect, which is a complete rejection of Fianna Fáil policy on our accession to the EEC. The manner in which they handled our fishing negotiations at that time was contemptible.

Mr. Fahey: Your stance is one of confusion and contradiction.

Mr. E. Collins: My stance is based on my experience in this House since 1969. The records of this House will highlight my concern and interest in the fishing industry. The question of conservation of stocks affects our coast and the coasts of other European countries. During the past few years Iceland has suffered because of a reduction in her fishing stocks. Iceland must be congratulated on the stand she took in regard to her fishing limits.

To conclude, the position is that we are now facing a situation within the EEC where we will have, as from the 1st January, 1977, an exclusive 200-mile zone. That is progress, a damn [283] sight more progress than anything Fianna Fáil showed. Discussions have been going on in relation to the expansion of the Irish fishery limit. The EEC are prepared to finance the policing of our waters. We are committed to an expansion of an industry which was for many years neglected by the Opposition. I hope that those involved in the industry will have confidence enough in themselves to expand their fleet, to go into deeper waters, to establish the industry on a sound footing and to set up a processing industry in Ireland—something which is needed for a fishing industry. In this respect I ask the Minister what would be the possibility of introducing a law that would force all fishing vessels to land their catches in Ireland irrespective of whether they were Irish or foreign vessels or foreign fleets. It would seem not to be going outside the terms of the treaty, as the law could be equally applicable to Irish and EEC member country fleets. It may be another way of establishing a processing industry in Ireland.

The industry itself has great potential. We need to expand the fishing vessels. We need to have proper finance for those involved in the industry. We need a very extensive and concentrated market for our products. In this respect I hope An Bord Iascaigh Mhara would play their part. The negotiations which the Minister has been, is and will be involved in in the coming years in respect of protection and conservation are vital to the industry and should have the support of the House and not be receiving negative criticism from the Opposition.

I sincerely hope that we will get a 50-mile fishing beat. Indeed, it is needed in the context of conserving stocks, and I would hope that the negotiations when concluded will be to the satisfaction of all those involved.

Mr. Haughey: There have been suggestions recently that Ireland might in some way be acting detrimentally to the best interests of the Community if the position which we in Fianna Fáil seek to establish is maintained. There is a suggestion that we would be acting as bad Europeans, that we would be acting in contravention [284] of the Community spirit. I want to state categorically that exactly the opposite is the case. It is certainly not Ireland but others who are acting in a selfish, nationalistic manner in this area, a manner which is completely in contradiction of the spirit of the European Community. There are certain fundamental principles enshrined in the Community treaties, certain ideals which are basic to the whole concept of European unity. One of those principles is set out clearly and explicitly in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome. It stipulates that member states:

Anxious to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing differences existing between various regions and the backwardness of the less favoured regions...

should do so and so. That is the principle to which everybody should be having regard in the context of this debate.

I ask the Minister, the person responsible to us in this context, as a member of the Council of Ministers, how can that principle set out in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome be reconciled with what is now being attempted in regard to fishery policy by certain member states, by the Commission and by others? Is it not crystal clear to everybody in this country and should it not be immediately crystal clear to everybody in the Community that our fisheries are one of the basic natural resources on which we must rely for our future economic development, one area that we could develop and exploit in order to compensate for the natural disadvantages we suffer by being geographically situated at the extreme of Europe?

The state of the Irish economy is well known in Brussels. The disastrous state of the Irish economy in fact has been described recently by a Commission expert as catastrophic. The state of the Irish economy has been officially accepted in Brussels as being catastrophic. One understands that the experts of the Commission are at the moment seeking ways and examining the mechanics of the Community to [285] see how special aid can be channelled into the Irish economy, because the particularly unhappy state of the economy is fully known and recognised in the Commission. On the other hand, while Community experts are examining how special aid can be made available to the Irish economy, in this connection certain member states with the full connivance of the Commission are endeavouring to sequester one of Ireland's basic assets —her coastal fisheries.

I have already asked the question, I have not received any answer to it and I am going to ask it again. I asked the present Commission experts when I was in Brussels recently why should Irish fisheries, this one natural resource that our underdeveloped economy has at its disposal to develop, be thrown into a Community pool for the benefit of all the member states of the Community, when German steel, British oil, Dutch gas, none of these are thrown into a Community pool? British oil is an asset which has recently come upon the scene. Perhaps in that regard it is more relevant to my argument than some of the other resources. Have the Commission abrogated to themselves the right to lay down a regime whereby British oil will be exploited? Certainly not. Are the Germans prepared to put the exploitation of their natural mineral resources into some common pool in which we can all share through a Commission-designed structure? I ask the Minister to deal with that point. Why are fisheries isolated in this way, particularly in view of the fact that our economy is comparatively underdeveloped in relation to the rest of the Community?

I believe this is a brazen, blatant attempt by certain member states, acting in a nationalistic, selfish way, to exploit their political power in the Community to get access to something which should in all justice be reserved exclusively for the development of the Irish economy. We in Fianna Fáil are not prepared to accept this position. If the Minister were on the Opposition benches he would be boisterous, garrulous and emphatic in refusing to accept this position. I do not believe [286] he has yet made it clear to this House, to the Irish people or to the Irish fishermen why he is adopting this ambivalent stance in regard to the common fisheries policy. We in Fianna Fáil, without any partisan approach, are simply asking this House to protect a basic Irish natural resource, to protect Ireland's national interest in this matter.

Deputy Collins betrayed the weakness of the Government's stance by going back to 1970 or 1972 and making party political debating points about the negotiations which took place at that time. Deputy O'Kennedy dealt with that. We all had responsibility for accepting that package at that time. I was not a Member of the Government who negotiated our entry into the EEC, but I supported our entry and this package, as did this Minister. The people will not believe us if those of us who accepted that package then come along now and say that there was something wrong with it and that it should not have been agreed to.

We are attempting to defend the Irish national position in two ways. The Minister, for reasons best known to himself, agreed at The Hague to extend our fishery limits to 200 miles without getting any cast-iron guarantee in return in regard to the protection and development of the Irish fishing industry. He did something else. He agreed to hand over to the Commission the negotiations in regard to the regime which will come into operation in those extended limits. These are two points we are now confronted with and which we must face. In pursuance of his undertaking to the Council of Ministers—and I cannot understand what the indecent haste is about this—he is asking Dáil Éireann to extend our fishery limits to 200 miles on 1st January, 1977.

We in Fianna Fáil suggest that he should not have given that undertaking. He should not have walked himself into that position but he is now faced with the consequences of that undertaking. We want to try to restore the situation in the national interest. We put down a motion which we asked be taken contemporaneously [287] with the Minister's motion. Deputy Gallagher put forward a Bill which we hope will be taken next week in Private Members' Time.

I want to read the terms of the motion so that they will be on the record of the House, and because the procedure we are following today is a bit complicated. It seems we cannot debate two motions before the House at the same time. If the Minister with his voting majority insists on pushing through his motion and extending our limits to 200 miles at the same time, he should accept our motion which reads:

That, consequent on the extension of the exclusive fishery limits of the State and having regard to the fact that section 2 of chapter 3 of title II, Part Four of the Act annexed to the Treaty relating to the accession of Ireland to the European Economic Community and to the European Atomic Energy Community will be rendered inapplicable by the extension of exclusive fishery limits by all Member States, Dáil Éireann, being of the opinion that it is necessary to protect the livelihood of Irish fishermen, calls on the Government to make an order under section 3 of the Maritime Jurisdiction (Amendment) Act, 1964 restricting fishing in waters situated within fifty nautical miles, calculated from the baselines of the State, to vessels which operate from ports in the State.

In other words, we are asking the Government if they must, as apparently they must, extend our limits to 200 miles, they would at the same time give an undertaking to this House, to the people and to the fishermen, that they will make an order under section 3 of the Maritime Jurisdiction (Amendment) Act, 1964, as they are perfectly entitled to do and, as we submit, they are entitled to do under the existing Community legislation, to establish an exclusive 50 mile band for the development of the Irish fishing industry.

I hope the Minister will accept that motion contemporaneously with his [288] own and thereby protect our national situation. If he is not prepared to do that, we will again come forward with the Bill in Deputy Gallagher's name which will legislate for this situation and which will lay down that within 50 miles of the baseline waters will be reserved to Irish fishing vessels and between that 50 miles and the 200 miles, the regime can be settled by a directive of the Community.

I think that is an entirely logical position for us to adopt. We would expect that the Minister if he is not going to accept our motion, will give us some positive, incontrovertible, concrete reasons why he will not accept it. He has the statutory power to do it and I hope I will prove now that he can do so and be entirely consistent with our legal obligations under the existing legislative regime of the Community.

Perhaps it is necessary to go back into the history of the development of the European common fishery policy. Before the Community was enlarged, the fishing rights of the existing Six were governed by Regulation 2141/7. It is no harm to mention here by way of an aside, again in relation to this suggestion that we in Ireland are being bad Europeans at present, that that regulation was rushed through by the existing Six in anticipation of the enlargement of the Community. Everybody will accept that that is so. The Six wanted to go into the enlarged Community with this structure tucked under their belts and to be able to negotiate from there. But the basic rule of that regulation of 1970, Article 2.1, obliged member states to ensure equal conditions of access to and use of fishing grounds situated in the maritime waters under their sovereignty or within their jurisdiction for all fishing vessels flying the flag of a member state and registered in Community territory —all perfectly simple and straightforward. The Six agreed to pool their fishing resources and to fish in each other's waters.

The important thing is the words “use of the fishing grounds situated in the maritime waters under their sovereignty and within their jurisdiction”. I maintain that that applies [289] exclusively to the fishing limits then laid down. Therefore, Regulation 2141 became applicable to the new member states by article 2 of the Act of Accession, but the provisions of article 2 of the Act of Accession were qualified by articles 100 and 101. I think there is common ground on that score. Article 2 adopted the regulation for a new and enlarged Community, but that adoption was subject to reservations contained in articles 100 and 101.

Article 100 of the Act applies not alone to the new member states but also to the original Six. That is of more academic importance than anything else. Article 100 is probably the only instance in the whole procedure of accession which involved a change for the original Six of a regime which was applicable to them before the new member states joined. The only importance of that is that it shows that fisheries at that time were dealt with in a way completely different from anything else. It is the only instance in the whole accession procedures where the regimes appertaining to the existing Six were gone back on. What had been a common patrimony between the Six original member states, by articles 100 and 101 was derogated from. In the enlarged Community fishing rights are governed by regulation 2141 as amended by articles 101 to 103 of the Treaty of Accession. There can be no gainsaying that situation by anybody.

The original regulation establishing a common fishery policy in the Community is in operation today only in so far as it is amended by articles 101 to 103. Article 6 of the Act of Accession states:

That Act may not unless otherwise provided for herein be suspended, amended or repealed other than by means of the procedure laid down in the original Treaties enabling those Treaties to be revised.

I want to draw the attention of the House to the provisions of article 6, which says that the Treaty of Accession “may not unless otherwise provided for herein be suspended, amended or repealed other than by means of the procedure laid down by [290] the original Treaties enabling those Treaties to be revised”.

I submit that what is happening now is that the Treaty of Accession is being amended and revised and that therefore article 206 of the Treaty of Rome applies to that act. Articles 100 to 103 of the Act of Accession were obviously intended to apply only to waters which were under the sovereignty or jurisdiction of member states at that time. The articles in question mention specifically six nautical miles and 12 nautical miles. They do not refer vaguely to exclusive limits or areas of coastal waters or anything of that sort. Articles 100 to 103, which modify the regulation, refer specifically to areas which are comprised within six miles and 12 miles of the base lines. The references to the six nautical miles and 12 nautical miles support that view.

Moreover, in paragraph 3 of article 100, it is provided that if a member state extends its fishing limits in certain areas to 12 nautical miles, certain consequences follow. I notice the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries is taking notes and I hope he will take note of the points I am making in that connection. In paragraph 3 there is no reference whatsoever to any further extension, to 50 miles or to 200 miles. It is clearly and categorically envisaging a situation where the limits can be extended to 12 miles and no further, and I do not think any lawyer can argue that that can be interpreted to mean an extension to 200 miles. If it did, some other form of words would have been used. The Act of Accession was clearly intended by the member states to be applicable to maritime waters within the jurisdiction of member states in 1972. Regulation 2141, which the Act purported to modify, must have been intended to have similar scope.

My point is that the Act of Accession referred only to and had knowledge only of and pertained only to areas of six and 12 nautical miles and nothing else, as modified by regulation 2141. That regulation also only applies at this stage of the proceedings to six and 12 nautical miles [291] and to nothing else, and it is a complete fiction to imagine that the original regulation, as modified by the three articles of the Act of Accession, can in any way be considered as applying to a new extended 200-mile area.

It seems to me that the Commission implicitly have accepted that argument, because in the document which they presented to our Joint Committee in Brussels, R2227/76, the following quotation occurs:

At the same time the Commission considers it necessary that the Council should decide now on an extension, in time, of the provisions of Articles 100 and 101 of the Treaty of Accession with some additional provision designed to limit access to coastal waters to vessels which fish traditionally within those waters and out of nearby ports as well as, in certain special cases, provision for coastal fishermen to enjoy a privileged position in the allocation of catch quotas.

The Commission accepted quite clearly that what they are seeking to do now involves a revision of the Act of Accession, and what the Minister is attempting to do in extending our 200-mile limit and creating a new regime in respect of these extended areas is nothing more or less than an amendment and a revision of the Act of Accession, and should be treated as such.

I believe therefore that it is incontrovertible that a revision of the Act of Accession, a renegotiation, is necessary if the Community are to attempt to acquire rights in maritime waters over which individual member states propose now to acquire sovereignty, and I believe that pending such a revision of the Treaty of Accession nothing governs those extended waters except the national law. That is why we will come forward next week with a Bill to lay down the national law to cover those extended areas. Any impartial observer will admit there is substance in that argument.

Why then is the Minister for [292] Foreign Affairs not attempting to make that case in Community councils? Why is he not attempting to make a stand on the argument I have made in Ireland's interest? Why does the Minister say:

The motion is based on the argument that the relevant section of the Accession Treaty dealing with fishing rights and comprising Articles 100 to 103 of that Treaty is rendered inapplicable by the extension of exclusive fishery limits by all the member states. Regrettably this assertion is ill-founded.

Why should our Minister be endeavouring to upset that assertion when it is in Ireland's interests that it should be maintained? I do not see why the Minister has to dig up all these quotations to try to defeat Ireland's claims. He quoted from the legal department of the Council of Ministers which he said succinctly summed up the situation in the following terms:

As the arrangements under Regulation No. 101/76 which consolidates 2141/70 apply to maritime waters over which a member State exercised its sovereignty or jurisdiction, they would therefore apply ipso facto to the 200 miles zone,——

I ask any lawyer in the House if that is a sequitur? To my mind it is a total non sequitur. It is stretching words to try to make them fit some indefensible conclusion. Even then they go on to say:

——with the proviso that, within the 12-mile zone, they applied it having regard to Article 100 et seq of the Act.

The brilliant legal department of the Council of Ministers want us to accept this absurd situation, that in six and 12 miles because of the existing Community regime of legislation there are certain restrictions but from 12 to 200 miles there are no restrictions because of the same regime of legislation. To my mind that is a piece of legal nonsense. If the Minister adopts our position in this he can go to the International Court or anywhere else and maintain a case on the basis I have put forward.

[293] Apart from the legal niceties, our case is quite simple. When the Treaty of Accession was being signed adopting the common fishery policy under Regulation 2141 it spoke specifically of waters under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the countries——

Dr. FitzGerald: Coming under.

Mr. Haughey: Meaning coming under at that time.

Dr. FitzGerald: No.

Mr. Haughey: Why is the Minister trying to put an anti-Irish interpretation on these simple words?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Is the Minister implying that “coming” in that sense relates to the future?

Dr. FitzGerald: The unfortunate thing is that Fianna Fáil did not advert to it at the time. In fairness, none of us did.

Mr. Haughey: We are talking about today.

Dr. FitzGerald: The difficulty is that it was not adverted to in the Accession Treaty. We did not seek a modification on that point.

Mr. Haughey: I leave it to the House and to the general public. My argument is simple and succinct. The provisions at that time applied only to the waters and the areas that were within the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the nations at that time. At this stage when different countries in the Community extend those areas to 200 miles it is a completely new factual and legal situation.

Dr. FitzGerald: It was because the then Government made the mistake of putting a false interpretation at the time. They did not renegotiate this in the Treaty of Accession.

Mr. Haughey: The Treaty of Accession is very clear, adopting Regulation No. 2141 to waters under sovereignty at that time——

Dr. FitzGerald: Coming under.

Mr. Haughey: “Coming” does not mean the future in that sense.

[294] Mr. O'Kennedy: Is the Minister saying that “coming” in any legal sense relates to the future?

Mr. Haughey: It means coming within.

Dr. FitzGerald: If the then Government had adverted to this matter at the time they could have sought an accession treaty to modify the impact. Instead of which we went for the review process.

Mr. O'Kennedy: There is no legal justification for the Minister's interpretation and I am sure any lawyer would tell him that.

Mr. Haughey: Even if there were some substance in the convoluted point the Minister is trying to make, why is he trying to make it? Why is he doing Ireland down in this way? Should he not be over there with all the great voluble skill he has, for which everyone praises him, making the point I am making on Ireland's behalf? Has he sold out to somebody?

Dr. FitzGerald: I am negotiating, not making legal points. That is all right for the Opposition but I must negotiate.

Mr. Haughey: Is it because the Minister and his colleagues have had to go cap in hand to the Commission and to the Council of Ministers seeking a loan to bail them out of their economic difficulties? Is it the case that he has no voice left in the Council of Ministers? Is this why he has to accept this humiliating position——

Mr. Esmonde: That is nonsense and the Deputy knows it.

Mr. Haughey: That is why he will not fight Ireland's case as he could fight it on the legal basis I am putting forward. That is why he has to seek artificial definitions of what I am saying to try to justify the sell-out position he has adopted.

Dr. FitzGerald: When the Deputy reaches that position there is no point in interrupting him.

Mr. Haughey: Can the Minister contradict what I am saying?

[295] Dr. FitzGerald: It is total and absolute nonsense and the Deputy knows it. He is not fooling himself or the House.

Mr. Haughey: The Minister is now so beholden to the Council of Ministers for bailing him out economically that he is incapable of putting any reasonable case to them. The present Commission will be going out of office in a few weeks. Why are they so adamant in rushing through this new regime? There is a new Commission coming in and one would have thought that it would be better to leave this complicated business to them but apparently we have to get everything tied up before the present Commission go out of office. To me it is inexplicable. They no longer have the moral authority to do these things but they are trying to force Ireland into this position.

On one occasion the Minister went over to The Hague and indulged in a certain form of manoeuvring over there. We had two statements, one by the Council of Ministers and another by the Minister alongside it. Of course that meant nothing, it was a piece of sleight-of-hand intended to deceive. As a result of that the Minister succeeded in having one of our Irish newspapers come out the following morning with a blazing banner headline saying that a great new deal had been procured for Irish fishermen. “An Irish Fishery Development Plan” was blazoned across the top of the front page of one of our national newspapers, obviously inspired by the Minister himself or by some of his propagandists. It was to the effect that the Minister had brought back from Brussels in his briefcase a new regime for the Irish fishing industry. Many figures were quoted. We were going to have 15,000 people employed in the industry and we would have 1,700 boats. It was all mapped out for a three-year period. However, when we got down to questioning the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries on the following week he admitted that there was no fishery development plan——

[296] Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is a complete lie.

Dr. FitzGerald: He gave the figures for boats, year by year——

Mr. Haughey: Including rowing boats. The Parliamentary Secretary has not the forked tongue of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He had to be reasonably honest with this House when we questioned him——

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I am always honest with the House.

Mr. Haughey: The newspapers were quite clear that it emerged from the questioning across the floor of the House that there was no Irish fishery development plan.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is a complete lie.

Mr. Haughey: Is there one?

Dr. FitzGerald: Of course. What does the Deputy think we were negotiating about?

Mr. Haughey: Did the Minister negotiate a development plan with the Commission? Where is it?

Dr. FitzGerald: On the basis of the plan which they accepted.

Mr. Haughey: The Minister negotiated the basis of a plan? The Minister negotiated with the Commission on an Irish fishery development plan? Where is it?

Dr. FitzGerald: On the basis of it.

Mr. Haughey: The Minister negotiated on the basis of a plan.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Could we have a look at it?

Dr. FitzGerald: It was made available to the Press at the time in regard to boats, people and fish catch. It can be made available to the Deputy if he wants it.

Mr. Haughey: We are talking here about the alleged existence of an Irish fishery development plan. I am stating that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in a major propaganda exercise [297] in an endeavour to confuse the fishermen and the general public, sought to convey the impression that he brought back from Brussels approval for an Irish fishery development plan. When we asked the man responsible, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, a reasonably honest man in this regard, who is not capable of the Minister's evasions and dubious tactics, he admitted to us across the floor of the House that there is no such fishery development plan in existence.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is not so. It is quite the opposite.

Dr. FitzGerald: He gave the figures.

Mr. Haughey: I asked for the document. I took the precaution of checking with An Bord Iascaigh Mhara who know nothing about any such fishery development plan. Where is the document?

Dr. FitzGerald: It was issued to the Press at the time.

Mr. Haughey: From Brussels?

Dr. FitzGerald: No. The Press in Dublin. The figures covered catch, boats and personnel for the years ahead.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: They were given in the Dáil on no fewer than three occasions.

Mr. Haughey: I suggest that in this vital life and death matter, which involves the entire future of the Irish fishing industry, the behaviour of our Minister for Foreign Affairs has been dubious and evasive. His public pose throughout those last months has been as devious and as deceptive as his handling of the negotiations has been inept. I will also make a statement that he has assiduously leaked misleading reports to the media, that he has misled the Irish fishermen's representatives.

Mr. Esmonde: Deliberately?

Mr. Haughey: Yes.

[298] Mr. Esmonde: The Deputy should never say that. He should withdraw it.

Mr. Haughey: I will not withdraw it. I am making a categoric statement that the Minister has deliberately misled everybody, the Irish public, and the fishermen in connection with what is happening with regard to these negotiations.

Mr. Esmonde: I always understood the Deputy did not make personal charges.

Mr. Haughey: This is not a personal charge. I am making a political charge in relation to the Minister in his capacity as a Minister.

Dr. FitzGerald: On a point of order, when the word “misleading” was used previously the Leas-Cheann Comhairle said that he understood what was meant was unintentional as to say “deliberately misled” would, of course, be out of order in the House. The words “deliberately misled” have now been used. I ask, on a point of order, that they be dealt with in accordance with the procedure of the House.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Pattison): The words “deliberately misled” are out of order. I ask Deputy Haughey to withdraw them.

Mr. Haughey: I understand they may be out of order in regard to deliberately misleading the House, I am saying that the Minister has misled the fishermen and has sought to mislead Irish public opinion on what is happening in regard to the fishery negotiations.

Mr. Esmonde: The Deputy virtually called the Minister a liar. He said he deliberately misled.

Mr. Haughey: I am saying that he has carried out a campaign to deliberately mislead the people on what is happening. I am saying that about him in his ministerial capacity. I am not saying anything about the Minister as a person. I am talking about his behaviour as a Minister.

Mr. Esmonde: I do not know how the Deputy can separate the man from his office. The Deputy knows as well [299] as I do, as he is an intelligent man, that he cannot make the statement he made. He should withdraw it.

Mr. Haughey: I will not withdraw my statement that to my best belief the Minister sought to create confusion and doubt about what is actually happening as a result of these negotiations in Brussels. I can quote from newspaper article after newspaper article to that effect as a result of official leaks by him as to what is actually happening which totally contradicted the real situation.

Dr. FitzGerald: That is not what the Deputy said. He used the words “deliberately misled”. If that is a withdrawal, I accept it. If it is not a withdrawal, I suggest the Deputy should withdraw it.

Mr. Haughey: I will withdraw any imputation against the Minister personally. I would never make such an imputation. I am talking about the Minister's behaviour in his ministerial capacity.

Dr. FitzGerald: There is no such distinction.

Mr. Haughey: I will make a distinction. I am talking about the statements which either the Minister or his Department issued, the leaks that were made, the impressions created.

Acting Chairman: It is out of order to accuse a Member of deliberately misleading and should be withdrawn.

Mr. Haughey: I do not know what the ruling is? Is the ruling that I must not say that the Minister deliberately misled the House. I can see that being unparliamentary. If that is your ruling, I certainly accept it.

Acting Chairman: Deliberately misleading is the same as accusing——

Mr. Haughey: We all accuse each other of deliberately misleading the Irish public. That is part of political accusations.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Deputy is misleading the Irish public at the present time.

[300] Acting Chairman: It has been ruled out of order heretofore. Deliberately misleading is the same as calling somebody a liar.

Mr. Haughey: Let us refer the matter to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. I am prepared to withdraw it.

Dr. FitzGerald: We have a point of order settled here not at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. The Deputy has been asked to withdraw the remark.

Mr. Haughey: I will not withdraw it. I withdraw any imputation that the Minister deliberately misled the House.

Acting Chairman: The words used by Deputy Haughey, “deliberately misleading”, are out of order.

Mr. Connolly: Misleading the public are not.

Acting Chairman: “Deliberately misleading” is out of order.

Mr. Connolly: The Minister misled them in the last election.

Mr. Haughey: I cannot accept that ruling. Political debate would cease if I had to accept that.

Dr. FitzGerald: If we cannot accept the ruling of the Chair, we cannot continue with the debate.

Mr. Haughey: I will continue with the debate.

Acting Chairman: “Misleading” is in order but “deliberately misleading” is out of order and should be withdrawn.

Mr. Haughey: I want to say what I believe the Minister's tactics in this regard were.

Dr. FitzGerald: Has the Deputy withdrawn the statement? If not, what procedure does the Chair intend to adopt in the matter?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Haughey: Deputy Collins waxed eloquent attacking every [301] Fianna Fáil Minister there ever was for national treachery. He was not taken to task.

Acting Chairman: There have been numerous clear rulings on this question. The statement Deputy Haughey made is definitely out of order. The statement that a Member was deliberately misleading the House or public——

Mr. Haughey: Or public?

Acting Chairman: Yes, it definitely has been ruled out of order on numerous occasions.

Mr. Crowley: Who gave the Chair that advice?

Acting Chairman: It is there by precedent on many occasions.

Mr. Crowley: It should be applied to the two sides of the House.

Mr. Connolly: You are not playing the game.

Mr. Haughey: I am surprised that you permitted Deputy Collins to proceed with the things he said that we took in kind as part of political debate in the House and that you are now being so assiduous in pursuing this matter, which has nothing to do with the rules of the House, nothing to do with an imputation of the Minister about the House.

Dr. FitzGerald: Is the Deputy withdrawing the statement?

Mr. Haughey: If the Minister had not said that, I might have. I will not be bullied by the Minister. That may be his tactics but it would be much better if he tried bullying his fellow Ministers in the Council of Europe.

Dr. FitzGerald: I am not prepared to be called a liar by Deputy Haughey.

Mr. Browne: The Minister will not tell the Wexford fishermen that he deliberately misled them.

[302] Acting Chairman: The Chair wants to know if Deputy Haughey is withdrawing the statement?

Mr. Browne: Every fisherman in Wexford will believe it.

(Interruptions.)

Acting Chairman: Could we have some order?

Mr. Haughey: I believe, by the Minister's tactics in this regard, that he sought to create the maximum amount of confusion in the public mind that he could.

Acting Chairman: Is the Deputy withdrawing the statement he made?

Mr. Haughey: I am not arguing any more about it.

Mr. Connolly: He has not to do that.

Mr. Esmonde: Surely the Deputy realises that there are certain rules in the House and that when the Chair asks him to observe them he does so.

Mr. Haughey: I am consistently a reasonably well behaved Member of this House. I am making a political charge. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, in regard to this matter, has been less than forthcoming with the Irish fishermen.

Acting Chairman: Before the Deputy proceeds, is he withdrawing the unparliamentary remark?

Mr. Haughey: I made no unparliamentary statement that I have to withdraw.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I will have to send for the Ceann Comhairle because what the Deputy has said is clearly unparliamentary.

Mr. Haughey: What was unparliamentary.

Acting Chairman: The charge that the Minister or indeed any Member was deliberately misleading the House or the public.

Mr. Haughey: I did not say that. I certainly said that the Minister was deliberately misleading the public.

[303] Acting Chairman: That is unparliamentary.

Mr. Crowley: Even if he is telling the truth?

Mr. Haughey: I do not think the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is being very fair or impartial in this matter. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle's conduct in this debate is not impartial. However, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is in the Chair and I will accept the ruling.

Acting Chairman: I am applying the rule here as it has been applied consistently down through the years.

Mr. Haughey: It was not applied to Deputy Collins a short time ago.

Mr. Callanan: Deputy Haughey said that the Minister was deliberately deceiving the public. That statement has been made thousands of times before in the House. This is a laughing stock. Deputies have abused every Minister and every ex-Minister in this way over the years.

Acting Chairman: I have made the ruling on it. The Chair has made the ruling on it and the Chair has been guided by precedent.

Mr. Crowley: The Chair should not be influenced by the Minister.

Acting Chairman: The Chair is not influenced in any way. Deputy Haughey has now withdrawn the statement.

Mr. Haughey: I did not withdraw anything. I accepted the ruling.

Dr. FitzGerald: Has the Deputy withdrawn the statement?

Mr. Haughey: I have accepted the Chair's ruling.

Acting Chairman: Deputy Haughey has accepted the ruling of the Chair so I am assuming that he has withdrawn the statement.

Mr. Haughey: I have previous experience of the Minister's vindictive capacity for seeking to extract his pound of flesh.

[304] Dr. FitzGerald: I do not like being called a liar and this is understandable emotion.

Mr. Haughey: I did not call the Minister a liar. I have never in this House deliberately called anybody a liar and I hope I will not. I was making what I thought was a legitimate political charge against the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the circumstances of recent developments. The Chair has ruled that what I said was not in accordance with parliamentary procedure. I am accepting the ruling. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is being tendentious if he says I called him a liar.

Acting Chairman: Could we get back to the motion before the House?

Mr. Haughey: Could the Minister for Foreign Affairs stop interrupting me?

Acting Chairman: Could Deputy Haughey proceed with the motion?

Mr. Haughey: Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle administer the rules of the House impartially and stop the Minister for Foreign Affairs from interrupting me tendentiously and provocatively?

Acting Chairman: The Chair will certainly do that if Deputy Haughey proceeds with the debate.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Does the Minister accept that the statement which he made here today is totally at variance with and contradicts the statement which he made to the Council of Ministers on 18th and 19th October?

Acting Chairman: I am calling on Deputy Haughey to resume his speech. No one else is entitled to speak except Deputy Haughey, who was in possession and should resume.

Mr. Haughey: Is the Leas-Cheann Comhairle admonishing me now to proceed having interrupted me to the best of his ability? In page 5 of the Minister's statement he said that:

As regards third countries, we have of course agreed to postpone [305] our right to veto agreements with third countries, something which is vitally important to any of our Community partners, until such time as permanent agreements come to be negotiated to replace the interim agreements which the Community is now seeking with Iceland, Norway and the Faroes.

Why have we “of course agreed to postpone our right to veto agreement with third countries”? Here we are talking about Russia, Eastern Europe and other countries which are particularly virile in their ravaging of the seas around our coast. Whatever the Minister's commitment to member states within the Community, I cannot understand his reasons for saying that he agreed “of course” to postpone his right of veto on agreements with third countries. Perhaps when the Minister replies he will overcome his natural animosity to any point I make and deal with this particular statement. We are dealing with something very fundamental and far-reaching here. This is not a situation which will be dealt with by ministerial evasion or by the Minister for Foreign Affairs briefing friendly correspondents, as he is wont to do on occasions like this.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Deputy Haughey has more friendly correspondents than the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Acting Chairman: Deputy Haughey without interruption, please.

Mr. Haughey: Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle admonish the Parliamentary Secretary for interrupting me? There are Rules of the House that should be enforced.

I have been endeavouring to say that in this regard we are dealing with a situation which is of fundamental and critical importance to this country. We are dealing with the natural resource which could be used to procure a great deal of worthwhile beneficial economic developments, which could be exploited to build up a [306] valuable labour-intensive industry which would be decentralised by its very nature, and which would bring prosperity and employment to those regions of our country which need every advantage and benefit that we can possibly provide for them. One would imagine that it is the sort of thing that the Commission in Brussels, if they had Ireland's economic welfare and development at heart, would be helping us to develop and exploit to the greatest possible extent we could.

I would ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Government to see it in that way. This is a crucial turning point in our membership of the European Economic Community. It is a test of faith for many Irish people of the goodwill of the Community. The future of the Irish fishing industry depends basically on the establishment of an exclusive 50-mile zone for Ireland's fishermen. Nothing else matters. The Minister should already have clear evidence of that fact in what has happened in the recent document which the Commission has brought out, which he is afraid to disclose to the House because of its contents. The Minister knows what the Commission propose for 1977. He says the document is confidential. Why is it confidential? Its contents were leaked in the Agence report last week. The Minister knows from what the Commission are proposing in that document that we cannot rely on anything the Commission will bring forward as a regime for the future of the Irish fishing industry. They will propose some minimum useless quota for Ireland for 1977. That is an indication of the way things are going.

If we hand over, as the Minister would do when we pass this motion, our coastal seas to the Commission we can forget about the development of an Irish fishing industry. That is the naked, brutal truth of the matter.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is what Fianna Fáil did in 1972. They did just that. They handed over the fisheries to the Community. That is what happened.

Acting Chairman: Deputy Haughey is in possession and he must be allowed to speak without interruption.

[307] Mr. Haughey: The fishermen will not thank the Parliamentary Secretary for that kind of thing.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Be factual.

Mr. Haughey: I am being factual. I have put forward what to my mind and to the mind of any impartial observer is conclusive legal argument that we have a legal right now under Community legislation to lay out our own regime for the extended fishery limits and the fishermen will not thank the Parliamentary Secretary for partisan political remarks about what happened or did not happen in 1972. They are concerned with what is happening now and that is what we are concerned with too.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: What we are doing now is rectifying the mistakes made in 1972.

Acting Chairman: I call on the Parliamentary Secretary to allow Deputy Haughey to continue without interruption.

Mr. Crowley: The Parliamentary Secretary has not made one statement in support of the fishermen since this controversy started and it is a bit late in the day now for him to be defending them.

Acting Chairman: Deputy Haughey is in possession and no one else. He is entitled to speak without being interrupted.

Mr. Haughey: I am suggesting that modern Ireland with an undeveloped economy in the European Community of nations is entitled to the exclusive use of a 50-mile zone to develop this, perhaps last, natural unexploited resource in the seas around our coast. I am suggesting a case can be legally maintained and that we are perfectly entitled to legislate here for a 50-mile zone exclusive to Irish fishing. I am suggesting that the extension the Minister is proposing of 200 miles creates an entirely new legal, constitutional, factual situation and the Minister has every moral and legal right to accept our motion to introduce legislation for an exclusive 50-mile limit and I urge [308] him, in the interests of Irish fishermen and in the general interests of Irish economic development, to accept our motion concurrently with his own and ensure that position.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Far be it from me to try to defend the Minister for Foreign Affairs in our fishery negotiations. There is no one better able to do that than the Minister himself. His integrity has been brought into question in the course of this debate and for that reason I will impose on the time of the House to make a few pertinent observations. As one who has always, and not just in 1976, in 1975 or in 1972, believed in the necessity and desirability of an exclusive limit to save our fishing industry, I must now examine the position that obtained when we, in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, went negotiating with our colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Since our entry to the Community the task of our Minister for Foreign Affairs has been a burdensome one, probably more burdensome than in any other Ministry, but I assert here and, through the House, to the country that there is nobody—I emphasise nobody—could have given us more help and assistance than did the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He sat in on numerous occasions with the officials of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. He met the fishermen's organisations. He studied every aspect of the fisheries question day in and day out and, as I said here on another occasion, he burned a great deal of midnight oil.

Mr. Crowley: Is he for or against the 50-mile limit?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: There is no doubt in my mind, as there can be no doubt in anybody's mind, that there is no one inside this House who could excel the present Minister for Foreign Affairs in work, in endurance and in the energy he applies to whatever task he turns his hand. I am not a member of his party but, as I said on another occasion here, we are fortunate in having a man of his calibre and capacity to head our delegation in our negotiations on this fishery question.

[309] Mr. Crowley: This is very relevant to the motion, I must say.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: It is completely relevant because an attack was made here on the integrity of the Minister. I am quite positive that all the statements he has made to this House, to the fishermen and to the country were all factual and truthful.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Do not forget the journalists.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: What have we been doing during the last number of months? We have been negotiating a new fisheries policy.

Mr. Crowley: Negotiating a new policy, not an agreement.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: On what foundation are we building? On a very sandy foundation. I know quite well that this emotiveness on the part of Fianna Fáil is engendered for purely political purposes because in 1970, 1971 and 1972 there was not a single word here about fisheries. That was the time we were negotiating our entry into Europe. I was a member of a party opposed to entry at that time.

Mr. Haughey: On a point of order, is it in order for the Parliamentary Secretary to accuse us of doing things for political purposes?

Acting Chairman: That is not a point of order.

Mr. Crowley: Another new ruling?

Mr. Haughey: The Parliamentary Secretary is attacking our integrity.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: We were then rushing into this European Community without proper preparation in a number of areas, one of the most notable being our fisheries. Deputy O'Kennedy agreed—that is the only implication— that nothing could be done about fisheries at that time. No move of any kind was made. I said here a few weeks ago that, so acute was our desire to rush into the Community, fisheries were swept under the carpet. It has been admitted by Deputy [310] Haughey that the common fisheries policy of the Six was a disaster and he has asserted in the course of his statement here that this policy was rushed through and finalised by the Six before the additional three could get a chance of joining the Community. If this was so, then it was evident to our negotiators, evident to the Government in 1970, 1971 and 1972, and evident to those of us who were told by the Commission's officials dealing with this question that our negotiations were not as they should be.

It could be easily seen at the time —and that was the impression I got in Brussels on a number of occasions —that the EEC were very anxious that Ireland would become a member of the Community. They felt perhaps that our geographical position would be strategically helpful. I do not know, but on a number of counts they were anxious to admit us. However, as far as the discussions with Community officials were concerned, from the commissioners down, they were completely factual. Every statement they made, as far as I can recollect, was a truthful, factual appraisal of the position under every heading, whether it was agriculture, fisheries, regional affairs, social welfare or any other matter. They had booklets and numerous leaflets on all these questions. But the Government here at the time suppressed these booklets and leaflets and all other EEC pamphlets and in place of them issued their own concoction of half truth and half lies.

That is what the people had before them in May, 1972, when they went to the polls and when 83 per cent of them said “We do not want to hold on to our sovereignty as we know it up to the present. We cannot live in an isolated position. We want to become members of the Community.” We became members of the Community and, in my opinion, we have to acknowledge the expressed view of the majority of the Irish people, 83 per cent of them, in 1972, and that the negotiations must be carried on within that context.

Subsequent to the announcement of the referendum results, we as a party, [311] acknowledging the people's expression of opinion, acknowledging the uncertainty of their views, stated that we were without question accepting the expressed wish, through the ballot box, of the Irish people, and that we would as a political party, whether in Opposition or in Government or whether participating, as we are at present, in a Coalition Government, do the best we possibly could within the community to bring whatever benefits were available to our people, and that is what we are doing.

I am a firm believer in this coastal band. This, as I said, is my view, as a man living on the sea year in and year out. It was my view in the 1950s. I have expressed it again and again in the course of several fishery debates down through the years that fishing was a great source of revenue which would provide a great deal of economic development. That is what Deputy Haughey said about it a few minutes ago. He added to that numerous other statements all in support of fisheries being a great source of revenue to our economy. That is a factual statement and I do not find fault with it, but in the not too distant past, when Deputy Haughey was a member of the Government and Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, why had he not that view of fisheries? Why did his successor and predecessor in the Fianna Fáil Party who were in charge of fisheries not have that view? Why was it that we were warning at the time that we should be more watchful in our negotiations with the Six and try to get outstanding questions in such matters as fisheries and other fields, as I mentioned already, attended to?

Our negotiations, as we said during the campaign, were a shambles. We were rushing in. We were told that this European Community would act towards us, a small off-shore island, as a fairy godfather. These were all people who would take a broad view, and if poor Ireland wanted any special handouts, here was the godfather with his hands in his pockets ready to give us what we required. Deputy Gallagher has changed his mind. According to the interviews he has given to the [312] Press quite recently, this fairy godfather is becoming a little ruthless with this country and is not behaving as we would like him to behave. People who were saying in 1972 that the EEC was a kind of heaven upon earth are now saying we should be thinking of pulling out.

My remarks on the EEC relate solely to fisheries. This is the question at issue, and this is the question, I want to emphasise again, that did not get the attention it should have got in our negotiations in 1972. What should we do? Deputy Haughey says we should ignore our membership. He brings in this political motion here in the name of Deputy Gallagher and suggests we should declare an exclusive band of 50 miles. I would love to say that. I am in full agreement with that point of view, but are we entitled to do it?

Mr. Crowley: Yes.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Do our legal commitments entitle us to do that?

Mr. Haughey: Yes.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The statement here prepared by the legal people attached to the Department of Foreign Affairs does not tell us that. That is what we would like to do. Some may ask why we do not emulate the example of Iceland, Norway, Canada and other South American countries. These are independent countries who do not have to consult other people. We are obliged under our commitment to consult other people.

Mr. Crowley: We are in the pocket of the EEC officials.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: We are, if you like. The Deputy helped to put us in the pocket, particularly in the fisheries business. Is there any Fianna Fáil Deputy of the four present here who can say we made any effort to help the Irish fishing industry in 1970, 1971 or 1972, the years when we were negotiating? They cannot. However, I have already stated on a number of occasions that there is no use in crying over spilt milk. The reason I refer to this question again is that, [313] listening to the statements opposite, one would think that all this happened because of the ineptitude of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and that when Fianna Fáil left office on 14th March, 1973, everything in the garden was rosy as far as our fisheries are concerned.

I have not the legal frame of mind of Deputy Haughey or of the Fianna Fáil spokesman in this debate, Deputy O'Kennedy, but this is my interpretation: we have this position facing us, that in May, 1972, we agreed to a common fisheries policy which was then operating within the six original countries of the Community, and so far as our interests were concerned, this policy was deemed to be disastrous. That has been admitted already here tonight because it is factual and there is no counter-argument. For some unknown reason, possibly because it would hinder other activities —when I say “other activities” I mean activities relating to other industries—we did not make any noise about our fisheries. We had signed on the dotted line and we had to retain the status quo for a period of up to ten years. According to all the Community documents I have read—irrespective of the quotation by Deputy Haughey—after 1982 there would be common access. That was the policy of the existing member states and the three new members did not change it. Norway voted against entry mainly because they could not get a change in that policy.

After we had entered the Community the Law of the Sea Conference commenced and the question of making economic zones of up to 200 miles arose. Deputies Haughey and O'Kennedy, both former Ministers, have admitted that in 1972, even with all the information at their disposal in their respective Departments, they could not see two years ahead. They did not anticipate that there would be big changes as far as fisheries were concerned. Now they are introducing their redemption policy, knowing the shambles they made of fisheries, by saying that once the Law of the Sea Conference took place and resolutions such as that before the House were introduced, a new situation arose. The [314] Minister for Foreign Affairs is at present trying to renegotiate a new situation. We are debating a resolution which has been approved by the Community and the parliaments of other member states are engaged in a similar exercise.

Is it the contention of Fianna Fáil that we should pull out of the EEC? I would not like to see that happening because when we are in we should try and make the best of what we find within the Community. During the campaign before our entry into the EEC my main objection to entry was centred around our lack of negotiation. I believed our negotiations were carried out on a low profile. I can recall having a private conversation with an official of the Commission in relation to this matter. That official, a devoted European, pointed out that small countries such as Ireland could not exist in isolation but that in the negotiations our Government were very soft.

Mr. Crowley: Dúirt bean liom gur dúirt bean léi.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I asked that official for a definition of the term “very soft” pointing out that there was little our Government could do, but he pointed out that we could have got these fishery concessions in 1972 without any trouble. I am of that opinion also.

Mr. Haughey: Get them now.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Deputy Haughey sold out.

Mr. Haughey: I was not a member of the Government then.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: My apologies. I accept that Deputy Haughey was not a member of the Government then.

Mr. Crowley: The Parliamentary Secretary is a generous man.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I accept that he was not a member of the Government. I erroneously stated that he was a member of the Government. Because we had a population of less than three [315] million there was a certain amount of sympathy for us. It is possible that other states were over sympathetic because we were better off than they thought we were. However, it amazes me that our negotiators did not work on that sympathetic view to help us.

Mr. Haughey: Get the sympathy now.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Deputy was not too vocal in 1971.

Mr. Haughey: The Parliamentary Secretary was always vocal.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: We give as much consideration as possible to the people living on the islands around our coast. We know they labour under disadvantages and have difficulties to contend with. I have fought their case time and time again and I am acknowledging the fact that Deputy Haughey gave these people a generous allowance.

Mr. Crowley: Why does the Parliamentary Secretary not give them salmon licences?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The number of licences issued to islanders has increased six times. The issuing of licences is determined in accordance with the criteria laid down for this purpose.

Mr. Crowley: Who determines it?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The boards of conservators. The Europeans considered us in the same way in which we considered our island people. They saw us as an island race labouring under disadvantages. But our standing was good, which is an important factor.

Deputy O'Kennedy introduced the card game into this debate. He dealt at length with trump cards. He implied that the Minister could negotiate in Brussels and Luxembourg with trump cards up his sleeve, that he pulled some vital cards too fast and laid them on the table. Deputy O'Kennedy did not have a trump card. If he had his sleeve he certainly did not play it at any stage of the game.

[316] Deputy Gallagher was not a Member of the House at the time, but I have no doubt that he was interested in this matter. I am confused by some of his recent statements, particularly the one in relation to being cross with the EEC, threatening to withdraw and so on. If we were to do that I wonder what the other members of the Community would say. The motion meets everybody's approval but it cannot be implemented. This is a legislative assembly and we make laws in accordance with our Constitution. It is all very well to insist on an exclusive 50-mile limit but the Minister must try to achieve it legally. The Minister was outspoken to all concerned in connection with the negotiations and did the best he could in the circumstances. Does Deputy Haughey assert that this motion can be approved and that——

Mr. Haughey: I have argued that point.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: This is a matter——

Mr. Haughey: That motion is totally compatible with the existing legal situation in the Community.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: It has been said that we were begging for favours from the Commission. The Minister is trying to get a 50-mile band with the approval of our Community partners. He has said that an interim arrangement has been made in regard to fisheries.

Mr. Crowley: What is wrong with the motion?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: We are trying to work as fast as we can within the limitations imposed by the Community. I am not a believer, in the circumstances, in unilateral action. If circumstances warrant, it should and could be taken but it is something we should avoid as far as possible. We must try to get the best we can for our fisheries, but we will be debating regional activities of one kind or another during next year. We will be debating agriculture and other industries and [317] we will be saying that we must try to get the best we can for all such industries. This is the position that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has to contend with. He is not confined to fisheries. He has a global responsibility for many of our industrial activities here together with the appropriate Departments. It is a matter for him, by virtue of his appointment as Minister and of the powers and functions vested in him by this House when they approved him as Minister, to do the best, in a definite term, that he possibly can. I think he has done that. He has told us again and again that he wants to live with Community laws as far as it is possible to do so, and surely Deputies opposite crying from the housetops about the advantages of the Community cannot say he is wrong in doing that.

I listened to some of the statements made by Deputy E. Collins from Waterford, and I do not think it necessary to repeat any of them. Unfortunately, I was not present for his entire speech but I can endorse the statements he made. They were factual and set down the position clearly.

I refer now to the Minister's speech, and Deputy Haughey has quoted from it. I would say that I would not be quoting from it now were Deputy Haughey not present. This is open for debate by subsequent speakers. I quote:

Basically what we are bound by is Council Regulation 2141/70 subject only to such derogations as were agreed at the time of membership and as are incorporated in the Accession Treaty.

The Minister today says that is basically what we are bound by. He goes on:

The relevant article of Regulation 2141/70 is article 2 which says that rules applied by each member state in respect of fishing in the maritime waters coming under its sovereignty or within its jurisdiction shall not lead to differences in treatment of other member states.

Is that not a clear-cut statement? This is taken from the laws and regulations governing the fishing industry.

[318] Mr. Crowley: What is the Minister negotiating for?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: This is a complete new job of work.

Mr. Crowley: What is he negotiating?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: He is negotiating a new fisheries policy for Ireland.

Mr. Crowley: What has that got to do with it?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: This is what he found before.

Mr. Haughey: This is a completely new one from what went before.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Yes, but it has made it so much more difficult for the Minister and the Government because the Opposition agreed to this kind of assertion, these kinds of regulations when they agreed to enter the Community in 1972.

Mr. Haughey: That is our point; that is a new situation.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Yes, the Deputy made the point that it is a new situation by virtue of the 200-mile economic zone question and we are building on that. We are in Government for only three years and some months and it is peculiar that at that time the Government could not see any change in the fishing industry. The fishing industry is in Ireland since Adam's time and that is a few years back. Fishing has been here all the time with or without State aids of one kind or another and has always been an important source of income even in the last century.

Mr. Haughey: The Minister's argument is that those regulations bind the new situation. We are saying they do not.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Minister is trying to get approval to remove these stipulations. Is that not what he is negotiating on?

Mr. Haughey: No. He said they govern the new situation. We say they do not.

[319] Mr. M.P. Murphy: He is trying to amend them or to have them retracted or rescinded.

Mr. Haughey: The Parliamentary Secretary said he was negotiating a completely new policy.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I would be satisfied with the type of policy we have. If we have the present policy by 1982 which is only five years hence, when we find ourselves with the Belgians, Dutch, German and French boats fishing off our shores, he has to do that. More important, he has to try to keep the Eastern Europeans away from Ireland. I agree with Deputy Gallagher that it does not matter to the fishermen here whether the boat fishing on the 12-mile limit is British, French, German or Dutch; it is all the same to him. They are taking up his fish. What the Minister has said is that he is trying within the framework of the Community to get this benefit from what we are legislating for today, the phasing out of our Eastern European visitors in particular who are not welcome to our shores.

Mr. Haughey: On the contrary, he has withdrawn his veto on them.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Interruptions are not in order.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: It is quite clear in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries that we must try through whatever forces are at our command to achieve this objective. To my mind the only force at our command is the Community. The Minister is as perturbed as anybody about the inflow of Eastern European boats around our coasts.

Mr. Haughey: Why did he withdraw his veto?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputies should not interrupt.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: My claim must always be that we do not poach on anybody's waters. Iceland got this 200-mile zone. They have flexibility about their coastal band which they fought for and won, and I admire them. I had the privilege of being over there for a time and meeting many [320] of these people and seeing what fishing meant to them. We are like Iceland, an island somewhat similar in size, and we possibly could be doing the same thing and we are entitled to the same benefits. However, we have to go through the Community. The Minister also states:

I think it unfortunate at the time of the negotiation we did not succeed in securing a more fundamental modification of Article 2141/70....

Was any effort made to secure a modification of that article? In the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries the answer is “no”. There is no document of any kind that I can find relative to our European negotiations four years ago that would lead us to believe that any such move so far as modification is concerned was made.

I am a believer in the coastal band of 50 miles. I do not accept quotas because one cannot ascertain if they are adhered to. If people over-fish their quotas it is hard to detect them doing so. We had quotas—and they were probably better than nothing— but they are only useful to a limited extent. I do not believe they are suitable for us. Suitability here means exclusivity, and that is very difficult to achieve.

I cannot say what the outcome of the negotiations will be because I do not know for how long they will continue. They may take years. Our stand is outlined in public statements. Whether we get approval for it or not, I cannot say. All we as a Government can say is that we will fight for it and we will give every possible assistance to develop this industry. There is no doubt about that. Every person, whether he is engaged directly in fishing or indirectly in boat building, processing plants, transport and so on, will get the best assistance we can give.

In a number of parliamentary questions Deputy O'Kennedy asked about the availability of plans and documents. Some documentation was deemed to be confidential and the Deputy said that all these documents should be made available to him. I [321] want to tell the House what I learned in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. There are no great secrets in that Department. What secrets could there be about harbour development works? I have always given to any Deputy who asked full information on any topic. During Fianna Fáil's time reports on harbours were secret and confidential. I had occasion to look at these files in order to answer questions here and was amazed to read that the report of a survey team was deemed confidential.

It is good to have a debate like this on fisheries even though I know Fianna Fáil are trying to redeem some of their lost prestige with the industry. The good thing about this is that fisheries have at last got publicity in the national and local press. Fisheries are covered on radio and television and people living inland are now talking about the industry. The fact that people all over the country are anxious to develop this industry is bound to be helpful. In my position as Parliamentary Secretary I can assure every Deputy on both sides of the House that I will give any assistance I can.

Each Deputy, on average, is responsible to 7,000 people. It is a Deputy's job to make representations on behalf of his constituents, cumainn and clubs. The occupant of any office should accommodate Deputies in the best way possible. We all know the work Deputies do.

I realise Fianna Fáil have possibly repented and would like to have done better, but it is no harm to see them making amends. I would like to see all public representatives uniting as much as possible. We are bound to have differences—this is political business— ensuring that our fishing industry will grow and prosper. However, let us hope that eventually we will get the exclusive band we seek.

Mr. Crowley: After that very nice lecture by the Parliamentary Secretary I am sure we will all go away very happy and satisfied that the fishing industry is being well looked after. We are aware of the situation. We do not need to listen to lectures because we know that at this moment the [322] whole future of the fishing industry is in serious doubt. The Minister for Foreign Affairs may be a very hard worker and jet from country to country and I do not think anybody will doubt that he is working to his capacity on behalf of our people. Nevertheless it can be said that this Minister is rather naive, that he does not fully understand the situation and likes to get involved in semantic exercises or in any kind of mathematical calculations. The real exercise we want to get him interested in, and to devote all his time to, is to ensuring that we get our 50-mile exclusive limit. Nothing else will do. As the Parliamentary Secretary said, according to all the legal advice available to his Department, we cannot get the 50-mile limit.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I did not make that statement.

Mr. Crowley: I wrote it down as the Parliamentary Secretary was saying it. If we cannot get this 50-mile limit what is the Minister negotiating?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: He is trying to rectify what Fianna Fáil negotiated.

Mr. Crowley: Deputy Haughey was castigated for accusing the Minister of misleading the public, yet the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs can call Deputy Haughey a security risk and nobody takes any action. Again, we have the application of double standards. We were given a lecture by the Parliamentary Secretary to the effect that everything in the garden was rosy. What I find most significant about this statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs is that we have become quite used to the chronic unemployment situation being blamed on the oil crisis; we have become used to the drop in our tourist industry being blamed on the situation in Northern Ireland; and reading this document by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fianna Fáil are now being blamed for the policies of the Coalition. Whom does the Parliamentary Secretary think he is codding? They codded the people once at the last general election but they will not do it a second time. To blame Fianna Fáil for the position in which [323] our fishermen find themselves at the moment is ludicrous. If the Government are really serious about protecting the livelihood of our fishermen and ensuring that they can fish in our exclusive waters—I am talking about a 12-mile limit—they should ensure that the Russian ships which are now there in their hundreds should get out.

I cannot understand how we can sit here in this House and have a situation where Irish fishermen are finding their livelihoods in jeopardy because we have the fleet of a large Eastern European country looting our seas inside our 12-mile limit. The Irish naval vessel Banba did an excellent job in arresting the Russian trawler off Dunmore East and yet was tied up in dock and could not patrol while the court case was going on and the Russians were looting and ravaging as they were before. This calls for stronger action than talking about sections of our Accession Treaty to the EEC. The Minister for Foreign Affairs should call in the Russian Ambassador and tell him that unless the Russian ships are withdrawn we will break off diplomatic relations. This is the only kind of talk Russia understands.

How naive we are to fall for the fact that they came here to establish a diplomatic headquarters after they had been thrown out of Britain and to believe that this is to do with mutual trade. If they are serious about trading with us and about ensuring the commercial welfare of our country, then they should stop the theft and robbery of our waters by their fleet. They are not just fishing in the ordinary sense. They are using every modern method to catch every type of fish by suction pumps and they are upsetting the balance of nature on our seabed by this type of process. There are spies on our shores with high-powered radios advising those ships of the position of our naval vessels. The Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Foreign Affairs should take a helicopter trip along our coast and see the poaching and looting going on.

[324] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy is moving very far from the amendment in the name of his own spokesman, Deputy O'Kennedy. He should get back to the motion and the amendment.

Mr. Crowley: I accept the ruling of the Chair, but if we are to have a 50-mile limit we must protect the rights of our fishermen within that zone. In this era, when the heavy hand of the Coalition is falling on our employment situation, the one bright light is the future development of our fishing industry and the tremendous number of jobs which can be generated in the processing of those fish. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what happened to the processing factory supposed to come to West Cork, about which he made an announcement six months ago. Has that taken another dive?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The answer is no.

Mr. Crowley: According to the Parliamentary Secretary's statement six months ago it was to have happened last week. It is important that our fishermen get every help and protection and assistance to ensure that they can harvest the sea. At the moment they are in a frustrated state and have lost all confidence in the present Government. Some of them have actually gone to Iceland for training in trawler harrassment. That is how serious the situation has become. What are the Government doing to protect the fishing industry? In the eyes of the fishermen they are taking no action at all.

We must consider devoting more and more money to the development of our piers and harbours. In the Parliamentary Secretary's own area, in Dunmanus Bay, three boats were lost worth £50,000 because the pier was inadequate and because there were no lights on the pier. The fishermen were working with a little flashlamp trying to save their equipment and boats. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will consider paying some compensation to those people who have lost the means of earning a living.

[325] It is time that the Irish Government started throwing their weight around in the EEC. For too long we have been the nice guys of the Community. I know, as the Parliamentary Secretary has said, that we must work within the framework of the system and there are certain restrictions with which we must comply. I feel that we are the only country observing these regulations and this is why I condemn the Minister for Foreign Affairs most of all. In my opinion he has been conned by his partners in the EEC. He has taken everything that they have said as gospel truth and he has negotiated badly on our behalf. Worst of all, he has shown a complete unawareness of the Irish people in relation to matters such as the fishing zone. I wonder how serious he is about negotiating an exclusive 50-mile zone. Is this just an exercise from the political point of view? The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries let the cat out of the bag when he said we had no chance of achieving a 50-mile limit, even though he would like us to do it.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I did not say that.

Mr. Crowley: We will achieve it then?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I hope so.

Mr. Crowley: Is the Parliamentary Secretary confident that we will achieve it?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I hope we will. I like to be as factual as possible.

Mr. Crowley: If the Parliamentary Secretary reads his speech he will see that he implied that the 50-mile limit was for the birds even though he admitted he was in favour of it.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: I said it was the job of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to try to reach that objective within the Community. I understand that is what he is trying to do.

Mr. Crowley: As I understood the Parliamentary Secretary, he said the Minister would not be able to achieve that because of the restrictions imposed [326] on him by negotiations entered into in 1970.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The matter is constitutional within the Community.

Mr. Crowley: The Parliamentary Secretary has told us that the Minister is negotiating a completely new policy.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: One could say that because a policy did not exist before. It was a question of common access. Fianna Fáil sold out the fishing industry.

Mr. Crowley: The Parliamentary Secretary is talking in clichés because he has not an answer. He does not know where the Minister stands on this matter and I sympathise with him. Very few people know that and I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary is as confused as the rest of us on where the Minister stands.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is not so.

Mr. Crowley: We are throwing away our greatest national potential for the creation of employment if we give in easily or if we do not win this exclusive 50-mile limit. The Parliamentary Secretary has described the motion as political. Of course I bow to his knowledge regarding the meaning of that word but nevertheless I must state categorically that there is nothing political about the motion. It is straightforward and easy to understand. We want for our fishermen an exclusive 50-mile limit. There is nothing complicated about that. According to the Parliamentary Secretary it can be achieved but we must ask why the Government will not accept the motion. The reason the Government will not accept it is because some other concessions have been given by them. Everything has been agreed already and there is no chance of achieving the 50-mile limit. That is why the Government will not accept the motion. Time will show if we are right and I shall be the first to congratulate the Minister if he achieves the 50-mile limit. However, I do not hold out much hope that we will achieve it.

We must ask what kind of position [327] our fishermen will be in as a result of all this. The Minister responsible for their future should view the matter very seriously. What action will he take to ensure that they get full protection, that when they invest heavily in expensive trawlers they will have a continued occupation to pay back their commitments? The Parliamentary Secretary knows that many fishermen are having second thoughts about entering into heavy commitments because the future of the industry is in doubt. On an occasion like this it is no harm for the Opposition to come in here and twist the tail of the Government to make sure they act in the right manner. The only way they can do that in this matter is to ensure that fishermen have an exclusive 50-mile limit.

Mr. Gallagher: I shall be brief on this matter because Deputies O'Kennedy and Haughey have dealt adequately with the legal implications of the whole question of the Treaty of Accession and the question of fishery limits which is of such importance to the whole economy. Fianna Fáil wonder why it has taken the Minister for Foreign Affairs so long to bring this order before the House for debate. The matter is important to the fishing industry and its future and to the economy as a whole. At the 11th hour and with a limited time for debate we are trying to discuss the future of this important industry.

We tabled a motion seeking a 50-mile exclusive band. We are being accused by the Government of playing politics and we have been told more or less that the 50-mile exclusive band is not on. I do not understand the reluctance of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary Secretary to accept this motion. All of us realise that the matter of a 200-mile zone has come about as a result of pressures on the EEC in relation to the fishing industry. They realise that the nations who fished the Icelandic waters and other areas will now be devoting their attention to waters in the region of our country which the EEC like to declare and class as their own. This is [328] the sole reason the EEC brought in the 200-mile fishing zone and encouraged member states to seek this limit.

We agree there is a necessity for this. We have seen what has been happening in our own area. On the south-west and south-east coasts at the moment large trawlers from Russia, Bulgaria and Rumania have been taken in by our Naval Service. How many more are plundering our stocks? The answer has come from the fishermen in that particular area who fish for herring and are experiencing the worst year in memory. At this time of the year herring at Dunmore have always been very lucrative as far as the fishing industry is concerned. Many fishermen with large boats depend entirely on the catch of herring at Dunmore to help them meet their repayments on the very expensive boats they have.

There is an urgent need for conservation. In Luxembourg recently Commissioner Lardinois, in reply to a debate in Parliament on 17th November, stated:

Naturally there must be confidence but we cannot give the fishermen of the Community the confidence that there will be enough fish next year or in two years or in three years' time. When we really have a policy that bites then we can say we will have enough fish probably for all of them within five, six or seven years. We cannot give hope to all fishermen that if this becomes a Community matter there will be enough quotas for everybody. No. We have to restrict fishing not only for third countries but also for our own fishermen quite vigorously. We have to do that. If we do not do that in my opinion a lot of species will not exist any more in three or four years' time.

The only way this conservation, which Commissioner Lardinois refers to, can be carried out is by the individual member states. If we are not in a position to control a 50-mile exclusive band we have no hope whatever of preserving stocks if they are left wide open to other member states.

We know quite well what happened in France, Holland and all the other coastal areas of the member states. They have no fish at the moment. [329] We cannot expect, if they have cleaned out their own coasts that, they will help us with out conservation policy. The fishermen realise this and in their policy programme, which they drew up in 1975, they demanded a 50-mile exclusive zone. They know better than anyone else what has been happening because from day to day they see the plunder conducted by other member states.

We are not saying that if we have this 50-mile exclusive band we will keep it for ourselves entirely. We say that we should decide how fishing is controlled in that particular area. There are many ways this can be done. We have seen, as I said here on a previous motion, the example set by Iceland where, by international agreement, they have decided the number of boats that can fish in their waters and the amount of fish they can take out at any given time. We would like to see those lines followed. We should all be honest with ourselves on this and try to ensure that our fishermen get the best possible deal. We can talk about what has happened in the past but I do not believe that will get us anywhere.

Deputy Haughey pointed out that when the Six drew up this common fisheries policy prior to our entry they did so in a rather hurried way and it has militated against the coastal states, particularly ourselves and possibly Scotland and England. It is fair to say that our Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time, Dr. Hillery, negotiated terms which gave us a 12-mile limit up to the end of 1982. The idea was that in that time we would have an opportunity to plan for our fisheries, to develop them in an orderly way, so that by the end of that period we would be in a position to tell the other member states that we were ready to exploit the fisheries of the area.

We have fallen down in not producing a plan, in not approaching the expansion of our fleet in a more businesslike way. If we made better use of the time available to us to convince the other member states that we were planning for an expansion of the fishing industry we would now be in [330] a far stronger position in relation to the various arguments we have to make in connection with this very important industry. If we apply the principle that the EEC have applied this 200-mile zone, which they are now so anxious to see in operation because third countries are plundering stocks, we have the same right to declare a 50-mile exclusive zone for our fisheries. There is a parallel here that they are looking for the 200-mile zone to protect their own interests. We, as a member state, with a lucrative fishing industry on our doorstep, should be allowed to apply this same principle.

The argument is often made that we would not be able to protect a 50-mile fishing limit. Again, without going into detail, without dwelling too long on the example set by Iceland and knowing our fishermen, I feel confident that with one or two patrol boats and by using the helicopters and aeroplanes that we have at our disposal we could provide adequate protection for our fisheries if we were in a situation where we had a 50-mile exclusive limit.

In reply to a question last week the Taoiseach stated that there were no plans for the immediate expansion of the Naval Service and that there were no plans to remove it from the Department of Defence, but that the matter was being examined in the light of the new EEC proposals. I am not suggesting for one moment that we should have the fishery protection service removed from the control of the Department of Defence, but we should have some separate control where fisheries protection would be the sole responsibility of some central authority. Naturally it would come under the Department of Defence, but there should be some central control arrangement where fishery protection would be the responsibility of a section of the Naval Service, the Department of Defence, or the Army, as the case might be, when one would relate it to planes and helicopters.

There are many other methods which should be used to ensure that we will not have undue plundering of our fishery stocks. We could have a situation where boats would be fishing [331] under licence and where we would know at any given time where a fishing vessel was and the amount and type of fish they were catching. The sad part of this is that in the past all along Western Europe fishing communities have developed their own economic and social way of life and in the main they are rather poor communities. As a result of EEC policies they now find themselves being brushed aside. They have no guarantee of survival at all with the present policies being adopted by the EEC, and the same situation will apply here if the EEC do not change their whole outlook and thinking on the question of fishing.

Many of the nations in the EEC are just interested in a good financial return on their investment. Companies are involved that invest in boats and gear and they look at it in the short term and that is why they are in such a sad plight in their own countries. We must try to ensure that we get this 50-mile exclusive band. We must be the people who are in a position to control what happens inside that 50 miles. If we do not succeed in this, I am firmly convinced that we have no business talking about the future of our fishing industry. There is no point in asking fishermen or the State to invest heavily, as they have to do at the moment because of the sophisticated type of boat and gear that is necessary. There is no point in this unless we have this 50-mile exclusive band. It would be a great thing for the House if we could show a united front and have a full measure of agreement on this whole question. We may fight among ourselves occasionally, but we are working in the interests of the whole nation and are trying to get the best deal we can for our fishermen. If we could be unanimous on this question tonight we would be doing a very good job for our negotiators, for the fishermen, for the economy and for the whole country.

Mr. Esmonde: I have been a bit surprised at the tone of the debate emanating from the Opposition front bench. I specifically exclude Deputy Gallagher. He has taken the right tone [332] in that it is a national problem. However we may not agree with any particular person's conclusions from the Opposition benches. Having said that I do not want to say that I am damning Deputy Gallagher with faint praise, but I think that he has been wrongly advised in relation to the wording of this motion. I will deal particularly with the last line which states we should allow access to vessels which operate from ports in the State. That, in our opinion, is equivalent to taking the bung out of every Irish fishing boat in the Irish fishing fleet at the moment. It is a very serious blunder of wording in any motion that has at heart, or claims to have at heart, the interest of the Irish fishing fleet now and in the future. It means that any fishing vessel registered here or fishing out of an Irish port would have free and untrammelled access to Irish waters.

Mr. Gallagher: It does not mean that.

Mr. Esmonde: Legally I am afraid it means that. You may disagree but there are no limitations on that. It says vessels which operate from ports in the State. No distinction is made between an Irish boat or a foreign boat. Somebody blundered. In fairness to Deputy Gallagher, I do not think he was the instigator of every word in that motion. It strikes me that some whizz-kid in a back room drafted that and blundered very seriously. For that reason that motion is completely unacceptable to me as an Irishman. I cannot accept it because it is giving a blank cheque to foreign boats to fish within our exclusive limits.

What are we really discussing in relation to the proposed order? What we are basically dealing with, and this is recognised in the proposals, is the conservation of our fishing stocks. There is a very good precedent for taking the steps we are taking in this instrument in declaring an exclusive 200-mile limit. I am prepared to look a great deal further than the terms of the Treaty of Rome and of the Act of Accession because basically we are [333] dealing with rights which we are claiming over what were originally international waters.

In 1974 there was an important decision come to by the International Court of Justice. It is a reported decision. It is described as the Fisheries Jurisdiction case. This is the case that was fought out between the United Kingdom and Iceland in relation to the proposed extension of the territorial limits of Icelandic waters. There was another case with the same title between some other countries. Now the basis of both decisions was the question of the allocation of preferential rights where there was overfishing. No matter what a person's political colour is in this House it is clear beyond any shadow of doubt that our present predicament, be it a 50-mile zone or a 200-mile zone, is that there has been gross overfishing. This is a point that has not been mentioned so far and I would like now to take my friends in Fianna Fáil off the sharp end of the fishing hook on which they seem to have got hung up. They were responsible for the negotiations of accession.

Deputy Haughey this afternoon turned himself into a lawyer and got a little bit out of order, a little bit emotive, but not one Opposition speaker so far appears to have really read article 100 of the Act of Accession because, if one reads this Act, there are very few references to regulations already enacted by the Commission and the Council of the Six, as it was prior to our accession. It seems to me that a case can be made, but it has not been made by the Opposition, in explanation of their slight shortcomings in regard to their work in the accession negotiations, if I may so describe them.

If one reads the whole of section 2, article 100, of the Act of Accession it seems to me implicit in that article that the original Six, when negotiating with the new countries, acknowledged that the previous regulation, No. 21R1/70 of 1970, which purported to set up a fishing structure for the EEC, was only a transient regulation. It was not intended, and could not have been, as a permanent regulation and, if one carefully reads the different wording of [334] the various paragraphs of article 100, I do not think in all honesty that the then existing members of the EEC really believed under any principle of law or justice, or could have accepted that as a permanent regulation to bind the future conduct of the member states. I mention that to try to ease the uneasy consciences of my Opposition friends. I see Deputy Fahey smiling quite pleasedly over there and I am sure he is delighted I have given him this little help because he must have had something to do with the negotiations. I think he was the Parliamentary Secretary in charge of fisheries. There were a great many changes, of course, about that time and it is very hard to be certain who was who, but I think Deputy Fahey had something to do with the negotiations. I hope now that any future propounders of what should be in the national interest in relation to fisheries might bear in mind the few humble words I have uttered on this aspect of the matter because there has been no reference whatever to it so far by the Opposition. I think Deputy O'Kennedy would have had a far easier passage in propounding the law as Fianna Fáil saw it if he had adverted to this aspect of the Act of Accession. Of course, when one is under pressure one does not always think too clearly.

Deputy Haughey was very critical of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and he made a point in relation to article 100, paragraph 3, that by virtue of the fact that it referred to 12 nautical miles it meant article 100 did not have to be considered in relation to the proposal propounded by the Opposition looking for the 50-mile exclusive limit. I have already condemned the proposal and given my reasons for doing so. If I read Deputy Haughey's remarks correctly, they mean that outsiders can travel through the waters outside the 12 miles and fish in the exterior six. I do not understand his reasoning on that. It does not seem to make a great deal of sense to me.

There was some criticism of the Minister being guilty of indecent haste—I took down the words “indecent haste”—in extending to the 200-mile limit. I do not see why the Minister should be condemned for [335] declaring an exclusive limit of 200 miles. At least when we have done that we have something to bargain with. Deputy O'Kennedy tried to deal with it on the basis that when the negotiations were taking place to get into the EEC nobody knew anything about the economic zone. What Deputy O'Kennedy forgets is that the only justification for the economic zone is that we have a vital interest in that zone. I have sat here for many hours but I did not hear those words mentioned once by the Opposition, although there were many politicians from the Opposition knocking around Brussels at the time I was there and there was great talk about vital interests. We are talking sanely and seriously in this House about the matter. It is no off-the-cuff business with us. We are dealing with what this Parliament has to decide and what it must take into consideration. Nevertheless there has not been one reference I know of to our vital interests.

The one thing that the EEC Commission have to face up to is this: what is international thinking on fisheries and the economic zone? The entire current of international juristic thinking would tend to support by a very large majority, in utterances, in thought and in depth of thought, the actions we are now taking in the interests of the Irish nation, and I gather from what I heard of Deputy Gallagher's speech—I was not here for all of it—that he took a nationalistic approach. However, I am sorry to say that other speakers for the Opposition did not take that line. They got themselves into personal attacks and put party before country. Maybe they were reared that way, maybe that is their political philosophy; but we here as responsible Deputies have to put the interests of the nation before that type of thinking. In other words, one has got to get one's priorities right. I think that declaring the 200-mile exclusive limit as is done in this motion, is the right priority.

Remember this, we are not just dealing with fisheries. We have other interests. It is an economic zone we are dealing with, and we are a maritime nation, maybe somewhat [336] in default over the years and over the decades. There might be some older Deputies in this House who may have elderly parents still alive who will remember and may still have photographs on the walls of their houses showing the size of the old Irish fishing fleets. There are harbours that are regarded as small and defunct nowadays that were packed with boats, herring drifters and such like, in the old days. We were a maritime nation. We are now coming back, I believe, to our heritage, to what our ability was. We were great fishermen and had a very large fleet at one time, a very large fleet in terms of any European fishing fleet.

Mr. Brennan: Relatively large, the Deputy means.

Mr. Esmonde: Very large. I am sure the Deputy has seen photographs of our various harbours and the number of fishing vessels in them.

Mr. Brennan: They catch more fish in a day now than they would in a month in those days.

Mr. Esmonde: I am saying, relatively speaking, we had a very big fishing fleet when we compare ourselves to other nations.

Mr. Brennan: I said “relatively”.

Mr. Esmonde: In other words, we had the ability—and I do not think we have lost it—to be a fishing nation. However, I am afraid that much of the talk that goes on in relation to fisheries and many of the articles that are written in that regard seem to come from a bunch of land lubbers. I would say that if they were out in Force 4 wind there would be very little chat out of them.

Mr. Molloy: The Deputy would not hold that against anybody?

Mr. Esmonde: No, but at least you should be able to come back after a Force 4 wind.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Esmonde: I wish all the Deputies in this House were out in a sailing craft in a Force 4 and they might [337] realise that Irish fishermen have to put up with a Force 6 and a Force 7.

Mr. Brennan: Force 4 is a sailor's dream.

Mr. Esmonde: It is a nice sailing breeze, a nice working breeze, but not Force 7 and upwards.

Mr. Brennan: You can tack. That is what the Deputy is doing now.

Mr. Esmonde: If you judge your wind right you do not always have to beat against it, and the days I refer to, you could not beat against the wind because the boats were not rigged fore and aft as they are now.

Mr. Calleary: They are really rigged now.

Mr. Esmonde: And I think there are certain people speaking with rigged minds in this debate too. In relation to another matter which seems to have troubled some of the learned land lubbers I have heard speaking here tonight, the Minister for Foreign Affairs was criticised because he reserved the right to veto the internal proposals of the EEC. Was he to be criticised because he reserved this right on behalf of Ireland? How poor are my friends in the Opposition to descend to that.

Mr. Gallagher: Who criticised him?

Mr. Esmonde: One of the Front Bench spokesmen in the Opposition. The Deputy may not have been in the House at the time, and I think it is very unfair to the Deputy as spokesman on Fisheries that these land lubbers should make such statements here. I would like to help my colleagues who might know something about the subject.

(Interruptions.)

Acting Chairman (Mr. Healy): I would ask Deputies to let Deputy Esmonde continue his speech without interruptions.

Mr. Brennan: Will the Deputy tell us about the 50-mile limit we want?

Mr. Esmonde: Could I go back to what I was dealing with originally before the Deputy came in? I raised [338] the point that somebody had made a “palooka” of the drafting of the motion in the names of Deputies Gallagher and O'Kennedy. Deputy Gallagher is from the west of Ireland in a seaboard constituency; Deputy O'Kennedy could, I suppose be described as a land lubber, being from an inland constituency. I say there was some faulty legal drafting in the motion. Could I refer him to the last line? The motion is so drafted that it is leaving a 50-mile limit on vessels which operate from ports in this State and they could include Japanese, Spanish, Canadian, American and Russian vessels.

Mr. Brennan: They would have to be registered.

Mr. Esmonde: I understand Deputy Brennan is in charge of the Fianna Fáil “think tank” and for that reason he might be able to explain to us what went wrong in the wording of their motion.

Mr. Brennan: The Deputy is only filibustering.

Mr. Fahey: If a vessel operates from any of our ports it must be registered.

Acting Chairman: I would ask Deputies to allow the Member in possession to continue his contribution without interruption.

Mr. Esmonde: According to the motion the entire Japanese fleet could be registered in Schull or the entire Russian fleet could be registered at any of our ports. The Fianna Fáil motion would make it easier for them to fish in our waters. Any lawyer could tell them what to do if they wanted to fish in the exclusive Irish zone.

Mr. Brennan: The Deputy should tell us about the 50-mile exclusive limit we are seeking. I have not heard one word from him about that. His contribution is totally irrelevant.

Mr. Esmonde: I am pointing out that this is a serious matter. It is a simple thing, equivalent to taking the bung out of every Irish fishing vessel.

[339] Mr. Brennan: Baloney.

Mr. Esmonde: It is obvious that somebody is giving wrong advice to Deputy Brennan, the chairman of the Fianna Fáil “think tank”. My advice to him is to take a more realistic view of this matter, on the lines of Deputy Gallagher. I exclude Deputy Gallagher from my comments concerning the wording of the Fianna Fáil motion because, as a Deputy representing a seaboard constituency, I do not think he would use such words. It is possible that if a little thought was given to this matter wiser counsels would prevail.

Mr. Fahey: It is vitally important as far as our fishermen are concerned that we consider this issue seriously. There can be no doubt but that our fishermen are confused and disillusioned at present. I do not think they will gain anything from what has gone on here tonight. They have not heard any clarification of the Government's position. The Minister for Foreign Affairs claimed credit for getting this exclusive 200-mile zone but that is of no advantage to our fishermen unless they get an exclusive 50-mile limit within that zone. I doubt if the Government are sincere in their efforts to get a 50-mile limit. I have not heard one word of sincerity from the Government benches in relation to this matter. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries admitted it was desirable but doubted if it was obtainable. It was obtainable as far as our negotiators were concerned because as a coastal State we were the only ones who could declare this 200-mile zone.

We should have refused to declare this 200-mile zone until the rights of our fishermen were protected. We have given away our strong bargaining point and now the Government are putting forward excuses for having done so. The Government are trying to create the impression that our fishermen are getting something which they will not. That is why we have had such waffling from the Government benches. It is also the reason why we have heard Government Deputies [340] say that the present situation was created by Fianna Fáil when negotiating our entry into the EEC. The fact is that when Fianna Fáil were negotiating on behalf of our fishermen they gave away nothing and that cannot be disputed.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: They got nothing.

Mr. Fahey: We gave away nothing but now we have a sell-out as far as Irish fisheries are concerned and the Government are trying to cloak that fact. Deputy Esmonde waffled on about our motion. I can see nothing wrong with the wording of it because for a fishing vessel to fish out of an Irish port it would have to be registered in Ireland. There is nothing to prevent a boat from anywhere registering in Ireland. When we were negotiating on behalf of our fishermen we were faced with the common fisheries policy adopted by the original Six. By careful and diligent negotiating we succeeded in having that policy changed so that an open ended review could take place prior to 1982. This review was to take into account the social and economic needs of the member states.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: It was to take into account free access after 1982.

Mr. Fahey: I wish the Parliamentary Secretary would study what went on at the negotiations and stop blaming Fianna Fáil for the sell-out by this Government. The survey has not been carried out and it appears that the Government have not insisted on it being carried out. If that was done it would strengthen our hand in the present negotiations. We insisted on that survey because our fishing fleet was growing.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Fianna Fáil did not make any case. That is fantasy.

Mr. Fahey: The Government have no plan to deal with the fishing industry and that fact emerged clearly during Question Time in recent weeks. It is not the intention of the Government to look after the interests of our fishermen or to exploit our great [341] natural resources. Perhaps this is the reason we have not got the much needed conservation measures to protect our stocks. The Government have neglected the interests of our fishermen and the fishermen are aware of this. They are not confused because they know there is no plan for expansion and that the fish are being taken by foreign vessels. We were speaking of an expansion that should have taken place some years ago, but now it is too late because the fish are not there for the catching. The fishing capacities of the other maritime nations are more than adequate. Therefore, the Government should protect the interests of our fishermen.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs cannot shirk his responsibilities by saying that Fianna Fáil committed themselves during the negotiations for entry to the EEC. In spite of the waffle in the Minister's hand-outs to the press in Brussels and at home, there has been a recent sell-out. The 50-mile band we are seeking is surely not too much.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Opposition should have asked for that.

Mr. Fahey: I was expecting that remark from the Parliamentary Secretary, but he should study the situation. At the time we were negotiating our entry to the EEC there was no question of a 200-mile zone or of Law of the Sea Conferences. This is a new situation and the Parliamentary Secretary's argument will not wash. It is vital that the fishermen's interests be protected.

Deputy Collins spoke about the herring fishing in Dunmore East. He admitted that this is the worst season in living memory. We are now in danger of losing this valuable stock as a result of the Government's neglect. Once herring stocks go below a certain level they do not recover. There were indications of a deterioration in herring stocks in 1974. The fishermen cannot fill their quotas because the fish are being taken by foreign vessels, particularly the Russians. I hope Deputy Collins will explain this matter to the fishermen in Dunmore East, where the herring [342] season was considered to be the harvest.

Prior to 1964 we had a three-mile limit. Those who negotiated on our behalf succeeded in getting a 12-mile limit, but a concession had to be given to those who fished within that limit. Nevertheless, it was an improvement. The sell-out will be a tremendous loss to the fishermen and the nation. As we are an island, none of the other EEC countries is in a similar position. British interests are divided because they have long-distance and inshore fleets. The conditions being sought by us should be ours by right. If our negotiators fail, the responsibility will rest on their shoulders. It was quite obvious that the Parliamentary Secretary had little hope for the fishermen. The Government could restore the confidence of the fishermen by accepting this motion.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is a political gimmick.

Mr. Fahey: It is not a gimmick. That is not our style. The fishermen wish the Parliamentary Secretary to show some sincerity on their behalf. It has been said that the Parliamentary Secretary has not spoken on behalf of the fishermen since the negotiations started. Our fishermen will not be able to compete with other fishing interests and no amount of talk will relieve the Parliamentary Secretary of his responsibilities. I make a final plea to the Parliamentary Secretary, to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Government to accept our motion. It would be some sign of the sincerity of the Government as far as the fishermen are concerned. If not, it will be taken as a sell-out of the fisheries of this country and there is no use in trying to blame Fianna Fáil or somebody else for that. The responsibility for failure in the negotiations will rest on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his team if they fail in this vital issue.

Mr. Hegarty: Very briefly I would like to make a few points. I do not think it fair to say that there is a lack of sincerity on any side of the House. There is quite a lot of sincerity on both sides. I do not altogether [343] agree with the previous speaker when he said the 200-mile zone is an open book for everybody. Surely Russian fleets will not be able to operate in that type of zone. We have in recent times seen that these massive Russian vessels are probably the greatest single culprit ravaging our waters. They are massive vessels using a completely new device like a vacuum cleaner with suction which literally pulls in everything out of the waters.

A step in the right direction would be to get a 200-mile zone exclusive to EEC countries. With regard to the 50-mile zone, this is certainly not lost by any means. There is no doubt in anyone's mind about that. We will have a 50-mile zone and it can and will be got by our Minister for Foreign Affairs and our Parliamentary Secretary, and it will have to be got in the context of the EEC. We can no longer make a unilateral decision. We are a member of the Community and anything fought for, agriculture or anything else, will have to be fought for in the context of the Community.

I agree generally with the tone of the debate which indicates the seriousness of the problem. I do a small bit of fishing and I can see plainly that stocks of fish are certainly decreasing. Watching as we do in the evening, one can see all these massive vessels, quite a number of them Russian and Japanese, coming right into our waters. Certainly, I would be fully behind any efforts to ensure that we protect our fishermen, because we are really now getting down to the job of taking fishing seriously. We have, rather belatedly, gone in for the right type of fishing vessel. We have now vessels that can withstand the elements and we have people with the courage and the initiative to use those vessels. Both Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Parliamentary Secretary are doing an excellent job to make finance available to our fishermen to purchase and maintain those vessels. Therefore, there is great confidence at the moment regarding fisheries and an awareness of the value of fish. We have, indeed, a very big responsibility [344] as a Government and as a nation to protect what is ours.

We might even adopt new tactics when it comes to the protection of our rights. Other countries instead of using very expensive vessels such as we are accustomed to in the naval services use ordinary fishing-type vessels. These fishing vessels could be manned by naval personnel and would be similar in every way to the other fishing vessels and in that way would be a very useful deterrent against anybody moving in. They would be far less expensive to buy than some of the vessels we now have to purchase. The policing of the 50-mile zone is not by any means impossible. All it means is that we might have to change tactics, to use smaller vessels and vessels that simulate in every way the ordinary fishing vessels.

Our stocks of fish are by no means exhausted. We have had our good and bad years at Dunmore East and all around the coast. The same applies to salmon, and I might briefly mention that the Parliamentary Secretary is very concerned about and is doing quite a lot for the conservation of salmon. That is terribly important, and it may not be generally known that some of the captures by our naval people did disclose quite a lot of salmon in some of these captured boats. Therefore, not merely are some of these very big boats taking in ordinary fish, they are pulling in salmon as well. Certainly with regard to salmon our Parliamentary Secretary is to be complimented. He has recently made an order shortening the depth of the net from 60 down to 30 mesh to ensure proper spawning of our salmon, thereby giving them a chance to go upstream. That is important, too, because many people earn their living from salmon.

I view with anxiety the ravages to our fisheries from outside sources. Not only will we negotiate a 50-mile zone; even outside that 50 miles I would be seriously concerned about the discipline that should apply to the member states. There is very little point in us and our fishermen keeping the rules if the Dutch, French and so on do not obey them. This is [345] vitally important for us as a small fishing nation.

The 200-mile initial zone is very important for the sake of keeping out Japanese, Russian and the very big boats that are traditionally used by other foreign nations. After that it would be the immediate task of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to make sure that we have our 50-mile zone. They have the means at their disposal within the Community to ensure that we get this right. It is only logical, and the EEC will see it that way, that we would get this right because it has been accepted that we are a nation which is recovering and really forging ahead economically, a nation which still requires quite a lot of assistance from the EEC. It does not seem logical that we should be helped on one hand and hindered on the other. If the EEC people are to be logical, they will see that if we can build up our fisheries to help our economic position and to improve revenue for the nation as a whole this must of necessity be of benefit to the Community. The Minister will not have the terrible task on his hands to ensure that we get this right.

The traditional spawning areas are the inshore areas. We have a reputation for genuine concern about conservation. Traditionally, our fishermen are interested in fish stocks. It is important from the point of view of the community that the shelf around our country should not be tampered with by massive suction cleaners, or whatever they are called, which literally pull everything into their meshes, and that properly regulated fishing should take place.

I should like to compliment the Parliamentary Secretary. Since he took office he has put a lot of effort into the fishing industry. He has given confidence to our fishermen. This is reflected around our coast in the size of our boats. It is nothing unusual to hear of boats costing £250,000 being purchased by our fishermen. This confidence is indicative of the future of the fishing industry as our fishermen see it. They are no fools. If they think [346] all is lost, as some people on the other side of the House seem to think, they will not continue to invest in very expensive boats. They believe, as I believe, in the future of the industry if we look after it. We are competent to look after it. We are going the right way about it. It will be soon enough to start moaning and groaning the day we have to come back to this House and say we have lost the 50-mile limit.

Mr. Brennan: I do not propose to keep the House too long. This debate has developed along peculiar lines. It has become rather acrimonious. There has been a good deal of generalisation about fishing. Our motion has been put down for the specific purpose of strengthening the hand of the Government, and the Minister in particular, in negotiating an exclusive 50-mile limit within the 200 miles to give our fishermen and the industry a chance to develop in the future. That is what the debate is all about. Many speakers have not adverted to the purpose of either motion.

I trust the Government have not abandoned the hope of getting this exclusive 50-mile limit. Our fishermen will settle for nothing less. If the tone of the debate, which tends to cast aspersions on the efforts of Fianna Fáil in the past, is indicative of the thinking of the Government, it would appear to me that they have abandoned hope of attaining that exclusive limit and are already seeking some scapegoat to blame for their failure to secure it.

This country has four outstanding industrial sectors. One is agriculture. One is the manufacturing industry which Fianna Fáil have nurtured and brought up to its present stage. The third is tourism, and the fourth, with perhaps the greatest potential of all four, is our fishing industry.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Which Fianna Fáil forgot about.

Mr. Brennan: I will deal with that in a moment. Our fishing industry is indigenous to this country and it is the industry which we would expect to have the greatest potential for the [347] future. At the moment we are in an horrific state in relation to economic development. As Deputy Haughey pointed out one important member of the EEC referred recently to the catastrophic state of the Irish economy. In that context, and against the background of the Treaty of Rome and the spirit of that treaty, is it too much to expect that one industry which has the greatest potential particularly for the development of the western seaboard, should not be given by the EEC the full effect of the spirit of the Treaty of Rome?

The Minister has a very strong negotiating point and that is what the debate is about. We are interested in the 200-mile limit which, in effect, gives the member states a playground and also gives them the right to barter with non-member states on the right to fish. This is of tremendous interest to other countries and particularly to Great Britain. We go all the way with that, so long as we get the exclusive 50-mile limit within the 200-mile zone.

We are attempting to strengthen the hand of the Minister who will negotiate that exclusive limit. I hope we will be seen as doing just that. Following this debate, the Minister can go back to the negotiating table feeling strengthened in his resolve to pursue that purpose. He can point out to his colleagues, the other memberstate's representatives, that the Opposition who will, in the course of months, form the Government——

Mr. M.P. Murphy: What a hope you have.

Mr. Brennan: ——are determined to ensure we get that limit. That is a strong negotiating point. These are the facts of the situation, look at them as you may. Fishing is an industry which does not develop overnight. Those of us who know a little about it—and there are a great many in this House who know very little about it; I might name a few of them in a moment—have seen the struggle to develop fishing harbours. We can boast of the primary fishing harbour in Ireland on the coast of Donegal in Killybegs, with Burtonport and [348] others coming up well. This did not happen overnight.

When Fianna Fáil took over the Government in 1932 there was not a sail which belonged to an Irishman coming into any of those harbours. It was a long haul literally and metaphorically, but we saw it develop, and we saw it move into the stage where its potential became obvious and evident and assured. If you increase the fishing catch, the catching power, you must also increase the market on which you dispose of your increased catch.

If the market is to be expanded there must be processing ashore also. The employment fishing gives, and it is important, is relatively small in relation to the employment it can give if the necessary processing stations are established, whether it be for marinating, smoking, canning, filleting or anything else, such as was developed under Fianna Fáil around the coast and particularly in Killybegs. These things must be developed simultaneously with an increase in the catching power so that the marketing system is geared to meeting the increased catches one might expect from increasing the catching power which, in turn, means increasing the number of boats that go out to fish and, consequently, the number of men.

We have seen it develop from the smaller boat, from the half-decker, to the larger and better equipped boats capable of staying at sea. We have seen the market develop from what used to be a fresh market only, as it was called, which could be glutted in two days to the stage where we had different types of processing to ensure that dumping did not take place. These things may be new to some Members of the House who know nothing about what the fishing industry means. It was a long, hard struggle to develop that industry around our coast. We have seen it develop in all spheres, in processing, in manpower which was related directly to the catching power, in the provision of boats, in the establishment of boatyards around our coast for the building of our own boats and in the expansion of the markets.

[349] This is the industry about which we are speaking here this evening and which could very well end up in the melting pot if we do not take the right and determined steps to ensure its protection for future generations.

Deputy Haughey was right when he asked if we are to place the waters of our coast at the disposal of the other members of the EEC, are they prepared to place their resources in a common pool available for our development? Is British oil or German steel available to us in the same manner as they wish us to use the waters off our shores for their general benefit?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is what Fianna Fáil were telling the public in 1972—that they would do all this.

Mr. Brennan: I do not know what the Parliamentary Secretary is talking about.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Brennan: That is the strongest argument we can place on the lips of the Minister who will be negotiating, I hope with determination, an exclusive 50-mile band available for our fishermen. If the Opposition take the view that for some reason or other Fianna Fáil did something in the past for the development of fisheries does that mean the Coalition are not in favour of the 50-mile band? Does that mean they will not try determinedly to get it? Does that mean they do not feel strengthened by the action we are taking here to ensure that they can negotiate it? We should all be at one in this. We should all be determined to do the same thing. When this country acceded to membership of the EEC, we accepted common access. In other words, we boarded the bus at the stop where it picked us up, as was expected.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Deputy is quite honest. He has said that they accepted common access. Now some of them are trying to deny that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order. Deputy Brennan without interruption.

Mr. Brennan: At that time there was a common fisheries policy admitted [350] by the Minister in his speech here today. We accepted that common policy in order to gain accession. There were certain derogations from it which leave us ample space. There are no impediments to the Minister fully negotiating the 50-mile limit, or anything he wishes, for our major industry, something that can be the saviour of our whole economic situation.

As has been pointed out repeatedly by different Members this evening, the whole purpose and spirit of the Treaty of Rome, the main knitting factor of the member states of the EEC is that they work for the uplifting, harmonisation and equalisation of the different countries' economies. One industry bearing the greatest hope of future expansion in relation to our economy is fishing. We are merely co-operating with what the other nations must realise in seeking to develop—and, indeed, make exclusive to us—the industry holding the greatest hope of expansion. Given those 50 miles restricted to our exclusive use we could then proceed to develop that industry utilising EEC assistance in the direction we considered best.

We must obtain that security which will encourage our people to engage in the industry, whether it be procesing on shore, or fishing inshore or in deep waters. Our fishermen must have that security. They can have it only in the knowledge that they have exclusive rights over a particular band off our coast. That is what the debate is about here this evening. It is not for the purpose of scoring political points. I do not care what Fianna Fáil did in the past. There is one thing certain. There is nothing to prevent the Minister at present getting what the fishermen want. Blame Fianna Fáil if you wish but that can be used only as a means of covering up any failures on the part of the Government. There is nothing to prevent them negotiating for what the fishermen want and what our economy requires so much at present. Surely this can be brought home to the members of the EEC. Deputy Esmonde, and others, generalised about fishing and the means of fishing. Speaking about the last line of our motion, he took exception to the fact that it [351] allowed access to vessels which operate from ports in the State. He sought to split hairs and say that that could mean the whole Japanese flect. Nonsense like that does not get us very far. This sovereign State will have the right to decide who will register a fishing boat here and who is admitted into the industry when they have got exclusive rights. It is only those who will be permitted by the Government of the day who will have the right to operate from our ports, not the Japanese fishing fleet. A statement like that tends to magnify what I feel is the abandonment of hope on the other side of the House that things will turn out as they should. I hope I am wrong. Why did every Deputy from the other side of the House tend to refer to what Fianna Fáil should have done? Is that an indication that we are failing already in what we are trying to do now?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Deputy will agree that it was a major blunder. It is on that sandy foundation we are trying to build.

Mr. Brennan: No, I do not agree with any such thing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Brennan: It was not even referred to by the Deputy who was then in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order. Time is now limited in this debate. Interruptions are most unwelcome.

Mr. Brennan: Not once during his days in Opposition was Deputy Murphy recorded as talking about fisheries, but he was one of those people who asked the people to join the EEC.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: That is not so.

Mr. Brennan: In that case he was opposed to membership.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: We accepted membership once the people had expressed their view.

[352] Mr. Brennan: That makes the situation worse so far as the Parliamentary Secretary is concerned.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Now Fianna Fáil are thinking of getting out.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Brennan: We have the right to declare a 50-mile limit without reference to anyone. We have that right in international law so let us hear from the other side of the House as to whether it is the intention to declare this exclusive limit. I had assumed that the tone of this debate so far as the Government were concerned would be a welcoming one, that they would welcome the action we were taking to strengthen their hand in what I had hoped would be their determination to get the 200-mile limit that is necessary, provided we can have declared the 50-mile exclusive limit.

However, the attitude of the speakers from the other side and the annoyance that has been obvious in the Parliamentary Secreteary's interruptions indicate that we are not moving in the direction that this party would wish for. The Government are seeking a reason and an excuse for failure before that failure has taken place. This situation augurs badly for the future of our fishing industry. We have the opportunity now, as we had on becoming members of the EEC, of bringing our fisheries up to a standard that would harmonise with the standards of the other member states. That was the spirit of the Treaty of Rome. Have not the other landlocked countries who have vast resources reached a high standard of development and should they not recognise that as members of the Community they must allow to Ireland the right to use the resources that are indigenous to us? One such resource must be fisheries. It is in the light of this situation that we tabled this motion. Not to have done so would have been to fail in our duty to the people.

I appeal to the Government generally to consider what we are advocating as something that will strengthen their hand in negotiations in the [353] future and will enable them to point out to their colleagues in the EEC the views of an Opposition that is likely to unseat the Government one day soon. The attitude of the Government should be that, if they are not prepared to do their utmost to secure the protection of one of our main sources of economic development, they will be failing as a Government. That is the argument we are putting in their mouths. We trust we are making clear to the Minister for Foreign Affairs the exclusive limit that our people are seeking. In the European Parliament our members opposed a motion dealing with the question of quotas because we are opposed to that idea.

I am not sure whether it was relevant to refer to fishing policy and plans but the question was raised and permitted during this debate. Perhaps the Government have a plan and a policy in respect of fishing but so far we have not heard anything in that regard. However, it would be useful if they would let us in on the secret before the Christmas Recess.

There are many thoughts occupying the minds of those who are interested in the future of this country and particularly those who are interested in the fishing industry. The Government tell us that it is their aim to make possible the doubling of our fishing catch by 1982. A remarkable programme would be required to achieve that aim. This would involve the areas of boat building, personnel training, processing and so on. In other words, a tremendous programme would be required within a short time to attain this increase. Are preparations being made in this direction? There is a good boatyard at Killybegs. I know the output that that yard is capable of, but are there efforts in hand to enable a trebling of that output? There are about 160,000 people out of work, so that there are many who would be glad of employment.

Regarding the proposals for conservation, can the Parliamentary Secretary explain how these can be reconciled with the Government's stated intention of doubling the fishing catch? What species are to be [354] preserved? How can we achieve a doubling of the fishing catch while at the same time operating a conservation policy? The people would like the answers to these questions. The Government are charged with the immediate task of developing the fishing industry and, consequently, of protecting the livelihoods of future generations in that industry. There is no point in telling us what we did or did not do. They are showing few signs of being either able or prepared to take the action that is necessary. So far we have had no answers from the other side of the House. Regardless of politics, each of us here must have an interest in the future of our country and I am sure all Members share with me the hope that future generations will be left with a country in which there will be improved standards of living. That is what this House is all about. This evening we are discussing one of our most important industries. It is not one to be kicked across the House as a political football and saying what you did or did not do. Let us know what is going to happen now, the determination with which it will be approached and the will is there to achieve it. One thing is certain, there are no obstacles if there is the right will to attain an objective.

The EEC is not a closed book. It never was and it never will be. Irrespective of what accession or any other treaties hold, we are a group of nations coming together to improve the general lot of the members. We are trying to do our best for this country. That is why we joined the Community. There is not a lot to be gained by posing as the best Europeans in the Community. When they feel like it, the British will kick over the traces to get what they want. They do not always strictly toe the line and obey the letter of the law. They renegotiated when it suited them and got away with it. We toe the line and are good members, fulfilling all the requirements, keeping to the letter of the law, observing all the rules and ensuring that we do nothing that will in any way offend any of our fellow members. We have grown up; we have cut our teeth. The time has come when we must make [355] ourselves felt, irrespective of the fact that we are a country surrounded by water. We have an opportunity of doing that through our membership of the EEC. This applies very much to the present time when we can protect one of our greatest industries, the fishing industry.

Say what you like about what Fianna Fáil did or did not do, we handed this Government a fishing industry that was built on a solid base and capable of being expanded given the necessary injection of extra capital. That industry will respond to any assistance the EEC may give. I forgot that the Parliamentary Secretary was a member of the Labour Party, the party which objected to our membership. When we advocated support for membership of the EEC one of the factors we used—perhaps we should apologise now for using it—was the regional policy, and what it could do for the west coast. We went out of office a year after our accession to the EEC. What did this Government do about the regional policy which we sold the people as one of the most important factors of membership? There is a serious imbalance between the east and west coasts. The Government declared the whole country as an area for consideration under regional development. We had hoped the west coast would be given special treatment and we especially had great hopes for the development of the fishing industry there. I hope the Minister will not miss the many ways that exist to help that industry. The only thing that ever retarded the rate of development of that industry was the amount of capital one could acquire——

Mr. M.P. Murphy: There is no indication in departmental records that Fianna Fáil made such assertions about the development of the fishing industry. That industry was completely forgotten.

Mr. Brennan: The only thing that retarded the fishing industry was the lack of capital.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: We trebled the capital in the last three years.

[356] Mr. Brennan: Please have manners.

An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy, there is a time-limit.

Mr. Brennan: We gave capital far beyond what was expected would be available to us. In doing so we did not borrow foreign capital which we would be unable to repay, nor did we respond with an 18 per cent inflation, having the cost of development completely eroded by the inflationary spiral. Anybody who says today that there was more money given this year than in 1973 is talking a lot of nonsense. To do the same amount of development as was done in 1973 one would need double the amount of capital. That is what this Government are boasting about—they are talking about money rather than actual capital development. It is time somebody on that side of the House “copped” themselves on. We left this Government a soundly-based fishing industry capable of rapid development. They could have used the capital they got from the EEC to make it a viable industry.

There will be unlimited expansion for this industry provided our waters are not made the playground of every nation. To prevent that we are asking that one of our greatest natural resources will be protected by a 50-mile band. I am sure Deputies in the Government benches are as anxious about this as we are, although nobody from those benches has said so.

A 200-mile limit, with the right for all member states to use it, is all right. We are not opposing that, provided the Minister ensures that we get a 50-mile exclusive band that will enable us to expand the industry by using money from the Social and Regional Funds of the EEC. If the Government fail to show good reason why they do not get that, it will not be accepted that they were impeded by anything Fianna Fáil did in the past. The logical case is in their favour. There are no impediments. Instead of political slogans, the Parliamentary Secretary should ensure that there is complete co-operation and that the western seaboard [357] gets the necessary assistance to remove the imbalance with the eastern seaboard. I will quote from the Minister's speech:

In the light of developments in the Law of the Sea Conference the Commission made proposals in September this year for certain elements of a new Community fishery regime...

The common fishery policy which the Minister used as propaganda does not obtain any longer. This is a complete new policy and the whole position has been changed radically.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: We are entitled to change it. Fianna Fáil sold us out.

Mr. Brennan: It was changed in spite of the Government. We sold nothing but fish. The Parliamentary Secretary would be wise to keep quiet. Is he looking for an exclusive limit or not? The country wants an answer to that. Nobody on the Government's side answered it. We on this side want it and we will not settle for anything else.

Mr. White: Like the last speaker, as a Donegal Deputy I would be failing in my duty if I did not speak on this matter. People are talking about the Fianna Fáil red herring here today. What we are discussing is a proposal to extend Ireland's fishing limit and I have not heard Fianna Fáil say they are not in favour of a 200-mile zone. When they go into the division lobbies later that is what they are voting for or against.

Mr. Calleary: We are looking for 50 miles.

Mr. White: If they vote against this proposal tonight we can take it they will be against the 200-mile limit. Deputy Brennan quoted the Minister's speech but he did not finish the paragraph. The Minister went on to say:

Our partners were persuaded to agree at The Hague on 30th October that Ireland is a special case...

He also said:

[358] This was secured without our having to concede one iota of our claim to a coastal band of up to 50 miles...

As I have said, like Deputy Brennan I come from Donegal and I realise the potential of the fishing industry for the western seaboard. I would not like to settle for 12 miles and we can rest assured the Minister will do his best to get the maximum possible limit.

I am sure Deputy Brennan happened to see last Wednesday the big Dutch trawlers at Killybegs. They would scare you. They were more than 150 feet long. If we are to let the Dutch come to within 12 miles of our coast we are asking for trouble. It is only in the past six years that we have begun to see the tremendous potential of the fishing industry and it would be utter madness on our part to give everybody carte blanche as far as our fish stocks are concerned.

When we speak about better limits we must think about protection for our trawlers. The present outdated methods will have to be changed. A lot of thought will have to be given to more modern methods of spotting foreign trawlers. It is ridiculous that gear can be confiscated and yet the offending skippers can get it back within a few days. We should initiate legislation to ensure that nobody whose gear has been confiscated will get it back within 12 months.

Mr. Calleary: I am glad Deputies White and Hegarty got the message from their constituents because it would appear that no other speaker on the Government side has got the message from the fishermen they represent. Some of their speakers, Deputy Esmonde in particular, appeared to base their case on the mistaken premise that Fianna Fáil are opposed in principle to a 200-mile zone. It should be apparent that they are not. We are particularly interested in securing a coastal band of 50 miles. We know that this aim is also the aim of our fishermen and that they will not deviate from it. We know they are prepared to take action on their own to ensure that they achieve their objective. [359] We are determined to give them all the assistance we can. As Deputy Brennan pointed out, we consider our motion should assist the Minister in his negotiations.

The Minister's speech referred to a fisheries development programme. Will he tell the House what is this programme? Has it been published? Will he tell us where the boats will be built and when will the piers and facilities be made available? How much money will be spent in the coming year? These are questions that must be answered if we are to ensure that we double our catch within the next few years.

How can we ensure that the proposed quotas will be kept? Will we ask the British to police their own boats or the Germans to tell us when they have caught enough fish? Why should we calmly and without murmur hand over to third countries the right to fish inside 200 miles just because some EEC member states will get a quid pro quo for the right of their long-range fleets to fish in other waters? We have no long-range fleet and it is essential that the 50-mile zone be written into any agreement we may make. That is essential for the development of fisheries, particularly along the western coast.

Deputy Esmonde in his speech said that this House had certain decisions to make. In this instance the House has to decide that what we want and what our fishermen want is the same thing. As Deputy Esmonde pointed out, we should have the interests of the nation at heart. Our fishermen have the ability and expertise; what they need is confidence to expand the industry. They need the assurance that the large investment they make will not be in vain. They look to the Minister to ensure that large trawlers will not fish inside the 12-mile limit. They look for the protection that is their right. We consider that this motion will help the Minister in his negotiations and we ask that the House accept it.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Dr. FitzGerald): There are a number of different aspects to this debate. First, [360] there are the reasons for declaring the 200-mile limit, its effects and consequences. There is the Opposition motion and the reason why it would be legally ineffective and void and there are the political issues that were raised. I do not want in any way to be unfair about what I say about the past. I have tried not to be in what I have said but I am not sure I have always succeeded. In replying to supplementary questions I may have been goaded into saying more than was strictly fair. However, I want to go over the record because I think there were deficiencies in the way the matter was handled. It is perhaps the case that even if there had not been those deficiencies on the part of the Government of the day it might not have made any difference. I do not know; it is hard to judge. Objectively, the handling was less good than it should have been.

There was the wording in the White Paper of April, 1970, which dismissed summarily the problem that could arise. The White Paper said:

Some difficulties could arise from any decision which might be adopted by the Community within the framework of the proposed common policy for fisheries in regard to access to fishing grounds in the exclusive fishery limits of the member states.

I do not think it was sufficient for the country to put them on notice of what was obviously going to follow. The White Paper certainly did not suggest to the EEC that we were seriously concerned about the disastrous effects of a free access policy applied to our fisheries. The first words of Fianna Fáil on this subject were “Some difficulties could arise”.

In June when we applied for membership all that was said on the subject was:

It may also be necessary to raise particular points in regard to other agricultural matters, including future arrangements for fisheries before the accession negotiations are complete.

There was no sign of urgency or a realisation that this was a vitally [361] important area, that the key element in the negotiations lay here, and that this was the one matter where we had to seek special treatment and where it was very important that we got it.

Until now I have not attempted to look back on the record of what was done then. I have had too much to do in trying to deal with this problem effectively to waste time on historical research but in view of what was said in the debate today for the first time I inquired when representations were first made in Brussels on this subject. As I understand it, the date was 21st September, 1970, when the common fishery negotiations with the Six were very far advanced; in fact it was within a month of its conclusion by the Council.

During that period the Norwegians in particular and the British also were fighting hard on the subject. The Norwegians secured assurances, applicable only to them, which they found inadequate to justify joining the Community. Fisheries were very important for them and the inadequacy of the assurances, as they saw them, led them in the referendum to decide not to join. It is interesting that in a speech by the Norwegian Foreign Minister on 14th January, 1972, with regard to the negotiations there is reference to the situation. The speech stated:

In the early stages of the negotiations the Norwegian delegation proposed that fishing within the fishery limits should be based on the same principles as those valid in the Treaty of Rome in the sector relating to the right of establishment.

This would mean that foreign fishermen would have to be domiciled to carry out fishing within the Norwegian fishery limit. It was a very sound principle and one that I have argued in Brussels is all that the Treaty requires and that making this regulation in 1970 they went beyond what the Treaty required. The Norwegian document went further. What they said was very significant and I should like it to go out from this House. What I am talking about is another State, not propaganda by this [362] Government or by any party here. The document stated:

During the enlargement negotiations we were not supported in our proposal by the Community or the other applicant States.

That was published on 14th January, 1972. At that time it was quite clear that the first representations had been made on this subject on 21st September, and they did not support even this minimal reasonable claim by the Norwegians, that all that should be done was to apply the right of establishment and that the right of access should not be applied. That is the record, objectively. As we have had a political argument it is better to get that out of the way early on and to get down to the more legal and practical aspects.

On the other side of the House we had people asking when did we raise these matters in Opposition. I spoke for two-and-a-half hours in the Dáil on this question of the EEC fishery's policy in December, 1970. I know I had the reputation when in Opposition of tending to speak for rather long periods on subjects, and two-and-a-half hours, in the context of some of my other speeches, may not seem too long. It was a very full exposé in which I pointed out all these dangers and difficulties. To be fair about it, it was December, 1970, and the policy was through—it was too late because the damage had been done. We did not know that the Government had failed to act until September and we did not know they had not supported the Norwegians at that time. In Opposition we could not know what was going on, but when the thing came out into the open with the publication in October, 1970, of the Council regulation, I took the first opportunity to speak on the subject.

If we move on to the debate on the EEC referendum, this was a matter to which Fine Gael speakers adverted. In Volume 259, column 1991, of the Official Report, the present Taoiseach, Deputy Cosgrave, spoke on this subject and referred at some length to our concern about what had happened and what had been done.

[363] He said there was concern in regard to the fisheries aspect of the agreement and continued:

This is one aspect of the negotiations in which I believe the Norwegians were right. We should have gone along with them in the battle they put up to get an agreement.

He went on to talk generally about the importance of fisheries and to emphasise that we should have taken action in the matter. The same is true of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy Clinton. In the same debate he also spoke on the subject of fisheries and expressed his dissatisfaction with what had been secured in the negotiations and his feeling that inadequate emphasis and attention had been paid to it. He said:

Many of the fishermen are dissatisfied or not fully satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations. It could be said that perhaps a better bargain could have been made.

His attempt to contribute on this subject was interrupted very frequently by a Deputy on the other side who is no longer with us. It was not easy for him to make his points clearly because of the constant interruptions. He emphasised that more could have been done and that we were not satisfied with what had been done.

The Opposition were vigilant but concerned but because we could not have known what was going on in the negotiations, and did not know, we were not off the mark as rapidly as would have been desirable because we had not the information. The Government had it and they were not off their mark at all. That is where our difficulties come from. That having happened and our having failed to join with the Norweigens then and to press the issue, whether in the accession negotiations the matter could have been retrieved, I admit there is doubt. I believe it would have been very difficult in the subsequent negotiations to have got back what was lost at that time when that regulation had gone through with the wording in it, which unfortunately refers to the future area of sovereignty and jurisdiction as well as the past. Once that was done I am [364] afraid the chances of retrieving it were probably small. It is probably fair for the Opposition to argue that at that stage, in the final stage of the negotiations, it was not possible to retrieve the damage done earlier.

I simply say, without wanting to pursue the political thing any further, we inherited this situation and whether it is something that could have been prevented or not, the simple fact is that it was not prevented. We have inherited a legal, juridical situation in the Community which leaves us with no legal grounds to stand on. I do not think it is honest for the Opposition to put down a motion pretending that they left us with any legal grounds to stand on when they did not. Perhaps they could not do any better; perhaps they were not to blame, although they could have been quicker off the mark. Perhaps if they had been quicker off the mark they still would not have been able to secure a result. I do not know. It is quite possible that is the case. I do not want to be unfair or harsh. The least they could have done, having been responsible for the negotiations, having left us without a legal leg to stand on, was not to try to mislead fishermen by putting down motions suggesting that we, simply at the wave of a wand, can declare a 50-mile band.

Deputy Fahey used the words “The 50-mile exclusive band is there for the taking”. That kind of talk will not convince anybody, particularly anybody who reads back over the record when Deputy Fahey was Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Fisheries. He would have been wiser not to remind people of that by using phrases of that kind. It is not there for the taking. We have a very difficult negotiation on hand, stage after stage. We shall have to fight every inch of the way, think out every move in advance and be careful that we do not trip over many dangerous trip wires that are there around us. Certainly in the three-and-a-half years I have been in Government——

Mr. O'Kennedy: I want clarification before the Minister goes on to discuss the future, which is the important thing. Could he refer us to any one [365] statement from any Opposition spokesman at the time, including himself, which related to anything outside the six- to 12-mile jurisdiction?

Dr. FitzGerald: No. We had this out at Question Time. I do not want to waste time in this debate.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Just one statement.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister.

Dr. FitzGerald: I do not think there is any such statement. I am not disagreeing with the Deputy but do not let us waste time because the matter was discussed at Question Time. The fact is there were 200-mile limits in South America at the time. If the Deputy wants to go back over that fair enough. All I am saying is they existed and once they existed it was possible they could be extended to other areas. That possibility was not considered and as far as I am aware, subject to contradiction by the Opposition, I do not think in the representations we made in 1970 that they adverted to the phraseology in the regulation which opened it up to future extensions of sovereignty or jurisdiction. The Deputies opposite may state that because it was there in South America it did not mean it would happen elsewhere. Of course it did not. It meant that it would happen elsewhere and a vigilant Government could have been alert to that and could have raised the matter. Perhaps they did but I am not aware that they did. I do not think going back over that ground is helpful.

Mr. O'Kennedy: The Minister said it was a fait accompli.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Will Deputy O'Kennedy allow the Minister to speak?

Dr. FitzGerald: Once the 1970 regulation was passed then effectively it was a fait accompli and, as I said, the chances of retrieving it in the accession negotiations were negligible. The damage was done in 1970 when the possibility of future extension in jurisdiction was not contemplated, [366] neither by us nor the Government. The Government are the people whose job it is to think these things out.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Will Deputies cease interrupting?

Dr. FitzGerald: The Opposition did not know what the phraseology of the Council regulation was to be. We did not have advance copies of it in front of us as the Government had. We were not negotiating. We had not got the information about it and, naturally, not knowing that such future wording was used, we were not in a position to raise it at the time. It could have been thought of and was not. Perhaps nobody is to blame but whether or not there is blame, for the people who were responsible, even if not to blame, to pretend at this stage that the limit is there for the taking when as a result of, and consequent on what happened at that time, it is not open to us, is not honest and is not helpful in the negotiation. It probably does not hinder us much either. If the Opposition think they are going to get any political bonus from it they are welcome to it. I do not think this kind of argument does us any harm or any good in Brussels except it just makes us look foolish to have an Opposition claiming something is the law which everybody knows is not but that redounds more to their discredit than to the country's.

The only other political element in this, to which reference has been made, is the situation of the European Parliament. The excuse given for the vote by the Fianna Fáil membere there was that the motion contained a reference to quotas and they were so damaging and dangerous that anything quoted in it must be rejected, even if it was a motion favouring the 50-mile band. Of course, we all know that any system of conservation will need quotas for some purposes. They may be useful, valuable, essential; they may work well or excellently or not very well, but they will be essential because certainly for the area outside the 50-mile coastal band, from there to [367] 200 miles there will have to be some control over the amount of fish taken. Total catch figures will have to be available. Once we have those catch figures the catch has to be divided among countries ourselves included, and that can only be done by way of quotas.

We do not believe that quotas are the answer or that they could provide the answer to the protection of our fisheries, but we know that quotas will be necessary in some way in the scheme of things and that they have a role to play. To make an excuse that the mere mention of quotas was such a dangerous thing and that for that reason a resolution was voted down that would have supported our claim for a 50-mile band, was not honest and was merely to cover up the fact that a mistake was made by entering into an alliance not with another ideological European Parliament but with another nationalist party. That was one alliance which was bound to tie one's hands. The one alliance nobody should be in is with another nationalist party with divergent interests where one could be swallowed up and forced to follow their lines or be influenced by them.

Deputy Haughey or Deputy O'Kennedy wanted to know why we are rushing this whole thing. They should ask the fishermen that. The fishermen are suffering from severe depredations at the present time. They know the urgency of getting by the 1st January some provision that will alleviate the problem even if it will not resolve it overnight. They know how important it is that on the 1st January there will be a 200-mile limit as a result of which non-community countries will no longer be permitted to fish except under terms of an agreement which may be negotiated by the Community to phase them out. They know that to get to that situation, where in some cases these countries are excluded, perhaps in all cases excluded, is vitally important, because of the damage that these non-community countries are doing to our fisheries. They also know that [368] under the terms of what was agreed on the 30th October amongst the Ministers of the EEC and subsequently put in form by written procedures and a council decision on the 3rd November, we have a provision under which the council agrees to secure the increase in our catch in accordance with our development programme, and they know that that gives us a leg to stand on for the first time, in order to take action, or have action taken, in order to phase out, and reduce, the amount of fish catching going on by Community countries also, so that the fish are left there and from the 1st of January onwards there are more fish available for our fishermen so that next year there will be a substantial increase instead of a reduction in the amount of fish caught. They know the urgency of keeping out the non-Community countries and of getting us into a position to negotiate a situation where the catch by other Community countries will be reduced and controlled in a way that will leave more fish for them. That is why this motion is urgent. For Members of the Opposition to ask “what is the rush” is to show a total failure to appreciate the urgent dangers to the Irish fishing industry, and the possibilities given to us of starting from 1st January to reduce these dangers and to help that industry to build up from the position it has been in, of being held down to a low level of activity over the last few years. So that argument does not stand up very well.

We are faced with the terms of the Accession Treaty plus the regulation 2141, (1970) of the Council. The one unimpressive thing in Deputy O'Kennedy's speech was his attempt to confuse the House, the people and the fishermen by talking about the consolidating regulation made this year as if it were a fresh regulation into which we could introduce new matter. The Deputy is sufficiently aware of the general principles of consolidation of legislation to know that no new matter could be introduced into a consolidating regulation. To ask why we did not get things put into it was to ask a silly question. No doubt there is some political point to [369] it, but I want to make it clear that it was a consolidating regulation, there was nothing we could add to it and Deputy O'Kennedy must have known his point was invalid. The regulation, whether you call it 2141, (1970) or whether you give it its number as a consolidation regulation 1976 is one which sets out in article 2:

1. Rules applied by each Member State in respect of fishing in the maritime waters coming under its sovereignty or within its jurisdiction shall not lead to differences in treatment of other Member States.

That is the foundation of the common fishery policy. It goes on to deal with access.

Member States shall ensure in particular equal conditions of access to and use of the fishing grounds situated in the waters referred to in the preceding subparagraph for all fishing vessels flying the flag of a Member State and registered in Community territory.

That is the crucial phrase of article 2 (1) of that regulation. That, as I said in the argument in the Council of Ministers, goes far beyond anything required, or contemplated by the Roman Treaty. As far as the Accession Treaty is concerned upon which the Opposition apparently wish to hang a good deal, including the fishermen, it does no more than derogate temporarily from this provision. In the Community it is an attempt to elevate the Rome Treaty and the Accession Treaty into having a role in regard to the right of access that they do not have. I hope that the argument I put forward in the Council of Ministers on this point, seven weeks ago, has helped to settle this argument and to eliminate some of the confusion that existed in the minds of some of our partners, that there was some foundation in the Rome Treaty or the Accession Treaty for this right of access. There is none, and the attempt of the Opposition, Deputy Haughey in particular, to suggest that the Accession Treaty stands and can only be amended [370] under article 6 of the Rome Treaty, and that unless that is done, nothing can be done that modifies the situation in our favour is a very dangerous argument. It goes along with the argument of these Community countries, to the effect that the Accession Treaty in some way binds us. The Accession Treaty derogates from this regulation. The method of derogation chosen was to put the derogation in our favour into the Treaty so as to secure us with that minimal protection of being able to continue with our restrictions until 1982. A derogation from a regulation does not add to that regulation one iota, and Deputy Haughey's very dangerous argument has no foundation in this respect.

The regulations made by the Council can be changed by the Council, and as far as this Government is concerned the Council will change that regulation and will remove this free access provision in a way that will still provide safeguards for our fishermen. They can do it and are in no way inhibited by the Rome Treaty or the Accession Treaty. It can be done by a political decision of the Council of Ministers and it is our job to extract that from them. The wording that is there is wording which unfortunately ipso facto brings any waters that we extend our jurisdiction to within the framework of the common fisheries policy. That being so we have to change the policy. On that there is no legal doubt. The attempt by the Opposition to suggest to the contrary, that there is some way out of the situation created by the 1970 regulation and the Accession Treaty is not honest, to suggest to the fishermen that the 50-mile limit is there for the taking is not honest. If it was there for the taking we would have taken it long ago. This was something we went into exhaustively, and I looked for any angle, any way out, any possible legal loophole, to be found, but unfortunately there was none. We were left in the position where that is the law and that law applies to the extended zone and we have to face that and negotiate our way out of it, not sue our way out of it as the Opposition seem to think is possible. We are engaged in that [371] negotiation and it is complex and difficult.

Basically there are three stages in the negotiation. We have completed the first stage with considerable success and we are currently engaged in a very tricky middle stage, and we have the first half of next year to get through the final stage. In everything we do in the first and second stages we have to avoid doing or saying anything which would prejudice our claim for a 50-mile coastal band. That must be the first consideration. Whatever we do to get preliminary concessions or interim arrangements from 1st January, 1977, we have to bear that in mind and we cannot risk seeking some advantage now of a temporary character, or some provision in the interim arrangement, which might help us but which might in any way prejudice the 50-mile band. I can think of things we might do with regard to the interim arrangement which would be very helpful and effective in helping our fishing in the early part of next year but which could prejudice our 50-mile band claim and, therefore, these are things we cannot and must not do and that must be the primary consideration.

Having that in mind then we have to go through these three stages. The first stage was to use our possibility of veto on the opening of negotiations which, in the case of certain countries like Iceland, were extremely urgent and badly needed by the other Community member states, to use as the leverage provided by their urgent need to get certain preliminary concessions by conceding nothing under 50-mile coastal band. The most crucial concession to be got politically was the recognition that Ireland is a special case. Members will be aware that in the United Kingdom there are problems similar to ours, especially in Scotland. We bear no ill-will to Scotland or to the United Kingdom, and good luck to them if they can get concessions but, to be frank about it, if in fact concessions are to be sought on the basis of having to be given not just to Ireland, which is a relatively [372] small problem catching less than 2 per cent of fish in the whole Community, but on the basis that anything Ireland gets Britain must get too, Ireland could get damn little. The first most important thing for us to do then is to get the special position of Ireland recognised as different from and superior to that of any other part of the Community.

That was the particular major gain we secured at that meeting on October 30th but we got beyond that something of very great importance from the practical point of view which, perhaps, some might feel was more than we could have expected to have got at that stage. We got Ireland recognised not merely in a general way by some form of phraseology on October 30th which one might use in negotiations afterwards but we got it recognised in a specific way. We got it recognised that there must be a common fishery policy and the words go on to say “as may be amended” and so on. Not just the present fisheries policy or a new common fisheries policy or a revised one, if that emerged, but a common fisheries policy which must be operated and applied in such a way as to secure the continued and progressive development of the Irish fishing industry. This then went on to relate this to our development programme.

I repeat: a continued and progressive development of the Irish fishing industry at a time when for every other country what is proposed and what is now being implemented are cutbacks in fishing for conservation reasons, a continued progressive development linked into a development programme which had been discussed with the Commission immediately before this, which the Commission were aware of and the details of which I notified to my colleagues, and a programme which involved the doubling of our fish catch in three years, of which they are on notice. In accepting that phraseology and in reference to the programme, they knew what was in the programme and the Commission is committed as a political commitment so to apply the common fisheries policy as to yield [373] this result and the other countries are on notice that is what is involved and have accepted that and that is now agreed as the objective of policy.

Let us be clear on this. What is important for us is not any particular means of securing that objective. The most important thing of all is to get it recognised that Ireland is in a special position, that this special position requires that we should have a continued and progressive development in fisheries when every other country is to be cut back and to get this as far as possible quantified in a form which is clear-cut and specific and guaranteed, and quantified it has been on the remarkable basis of the doubling of the catch in three years.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Perhaps, unlike Germany, we have waters off our shores which put us in a rather different position from other countries. Perhaps that is the only advantage we have.

Dr. FitzGerald: The United Kingdom has three times the waters but is not mentioned in this clause. When I returned and reported on what was achieved I got the most curious reception from Deputy Gallagher who, on radio, expressed great doubt, having been so successful in getting this guarantee, whether we could possibly catch so much fish. Maybe it will be a little difficult to do but I am always prepared to accept in any negotiations more than it is possible for us to take advantage of and it is not a bad accusation then to be levelled at one whether by fishermen or by Opposition spokesmen. We have that guarantee and what we have to do now is to ensure that policy is applied in that way from 1st January so that we can be certain of expansion starting at the beginning of next year. Our job is to ensure sufficient expansion of our fishing fleet in this period. The need to expand is there because the existing fleet could not catch double the quantity of fish.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Where will these boats be built?

Dr. FitzGerald: I am sorry. My time is limited.

[374] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister should be allowed to speak without interruption.

Dr. FitzGerald: I would like to get my speech finished. I will answer questions at the end. Also, in that first stage we got the provision that, because of the totally disproportionate area of sea to the fish catch, there must be financial assistance provided to help us with protection costs so that, in so far as additional fishery vessels or aircraft are required, finance will come from EEC sources and not from our sources because for us catching less than 2 per cent of the fish, and even with a rapid expansion of the programme to 4 per cent of the fish in the Community, to ask us to patrol unaided 22, 24 or 25 per cent of the waters is unreasonable and we got agreement on that too.

Those concessions were secured without any concession of any kind on our part and, while stating quite clearly that we would require when negotiations got to a later stage the coastal band and that we would use our veto on the second stage of the negotiations to achieve that, that was accepted by the other member states. Now we face the second stage of the negotiations. That is the interim arrangements for next year. At the last Council meeting in mid-November I made it clear that we could not accept that the process of expansion of the Irish fishing industry based on the agreement of 30th October should be postponed until some time later next year when agreement is reached on the final arrangements. I made it clear that in the absence of adequate interim arrangements operating from 1st January to secure an expansion of the catch we maintained the right to take the necessary unilateral action for that purpose. The right would not be to abuse or to go beyond what is reasonable and necessary to secure an expansion of the catch moving towards our target but that we had that right and that right we would use if it were necessary and if the interim proposals by the Commission proved inadequate. The Commission has put forward proposals for this purpose to which I referred this afternoon. [375] They are confidential. I know they appeared in the papers to a degree but there are certain confidences and certain convenances to be observed. The Opposition are entitled to what they see in the papers which, let us face it, are substantially accurate and they would have no difficulty in guessing that the proposals made by the Commission in their present form are quite unacceptable to us.

Mr. Haughey: The first setback in the three-year period in a system based on quotas——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister, without interruption.

Dr. FitzGerald: Any system based on quotas only is unacceptable to us. We have not accepted it and it has to be fought out. Anything based on quotas only is unacceptable. The Opposition are inclined to say quotas are no good without giving the reason. It is important that we state the reason for consumption overseas. The reason is because you can have a quota which entitles you to catch so much fish but if other people come in close to your coast and catch all the fish there the quota is no damn good. The quota does not achieve what we are now entitled to. It does not secure the expansion of the catch. It gives you a legal entitlement to catch the fish if you can find them but, because of the size of the zones used for the purpose of calculating the quotas, which go far out to sea and far north and south of Ireland, quotas in relation to those zones could be useless for us because the whole of other countries' quotas could be caught close inshore to us instead of out in the Atlantic leaving us with nothing. So a quota system is of its nature unsatisfactory and cannot achieve what has to be achieved now under the agreement of October 30th to ensure the expansion of our industry.

That is the reason why quotas are unacceptable. Deputies will have seen a figure in the paper for the proposed increase in the quota, but that kind of percentage would not, to my mind, represent appropriate progress towards the target of doubling the [376] catch in three years either. Even if the quota system worked, which it would not for this purpose, such a figure would be unacceptable.

We are now proceeding with the interim negotiation and either we will have a satisfactory result from it or we will have to take action of our own in order to ensure that the fish are there for our fishermen to catch from 1st January onwards. We are not going to wait till later next year for some final agreement to get to the stage when the fish are available for the fishermen, who are having a very bad season at present because of the gross over-fishing, much of it by Community partners, not all of it from people outside the Community.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Would the Minister like to indicate what the action will be?

Dr. FitzGerald: No. I have no intention of indicating in advance of negotiation what our intentions are. It is a complex and delicate negotiation. I have told our partners that if the provisions made by the Commission are not adequate we will take the necessary unilateral action. I have told them it will be done in consultation; it will not go beyond what is necessary to secure the objective of an appropriate expansion in the catch off our shores, but we will take the action necessary for that if we have to.

The third and final stage of this negotiation is when the Community comes to negotiate the final agreements with Norway, Faroes and Iceland after whatever interim agreements may now be negotiated, and when the framework agreements with other countries come to the stage where figures have to be agreed for reciprocal catches. We have put them on notice that, at that stage, unless a satisfactory solution has been found to the coastal band problem, we will not be prepared to assent to those agreements being settled. What is not easy to say at this point is precisely when that will happen. There has been talk of agreements with, for example, Iceland, lasting three or four months; both figures have been mentioned, but as nothing has been settled yet, I [377] cannot tell the House when the breakpoint will come, the first point at which there will be the need for a permanent agreement or for the filling in in detail of a framework agreement, at which point our right of veto will arise again. As I say, I cannot be certain of the date, but I think it will be fairly early next year. That will be a very difficult negotiation. The other member countries are unconvinced that they should give up what they won for themselves by that unilateral action on the part of the Six in 1970. I do not suggest for a moment it will be an easy task to secure agreement on a coastal band and the Opposition should not pretend to anybody that it will be easy.

I was asked for details of the programme. The programme, which was drawn up last year—I do not know the exact date—covers the period 1975 to 1979. It has been in existence for some time, so that when Commissioner Gundelach came here to see us and put certain proposals to us which led to the agreement of October 30th, I said to him we would have to be satisfied that any agreement secured the objective we had set out in this programme. The officials then met together and agreed that the programme was appropriate for this purpose. The Commission officials thought it a little optimistic, as Deputy Gallagher has thought; and maybe it is, but it was agreed as the basis for discussion. The figures concerned, which related, as I have said, to the catch of fish, to employment and to the number of boats—which are set out by a size of boat; we are not talking about rowing boats but boats up to 130 or 140 feet—were published and issued to the Press by us here in Dublin on October 30th simultaneously with the announcement of the agreement in Brussels. I did not see any of this in the papers, but it was not our fault, they were issued in detail but I did not see them set out in tabular form anyway. Certainly if they are not easily accessible to the Opposition they are welcome to copies of it. They represent the programme drawn up by Bord Iascaigh Mhara at some earlier point in time and which we have been able to get the Community [378] to adopt as a legitimate target for us to aim at and one which they are obliged to secure for us by making the fish available for us to catch on that scale and expanding at that rate.

Another thing I want to say in this debate—and it will not be any news to Deputies opposite because of some little altercation earlier today—is that I dislike and resent being referred to as devious, deceptive, as deliberately misleading the people. I do not like questions, whether in this House or elsewhere, of a rhetorical character, “who is telling the truth?”; and I do not like it when a colleague in this House is asked, does he think I have misled the fishermen and the Dáil as well? I do not like it being said that I am not entirely honest. I would be less than human if I did not resent these, and if my resentment showed earlier, I hope it did not show in an unparliamentary way.

We are determined to carry this battle through to a successful conclusion. There is too much at stake here for this country and for our fishermen. It might have been that if the 200-mile limit had not come up we would have no chance to do this, that we would have reached in 1982, the review process would be put into effect offering a very weak guarantee of continued and restrictive arrangements for our fishermen. We might have been able to get some continuation of it in a limited form, I do not know; but fortunately for us the 200-mile zone issue has come up and we have used this effectively and are using it to renegotiate our fishery policy. We have got to the point where our fishermen know the Community are now committed to guaranteeing them the doubling of the catch within the next three years and continued development thereafter on a large scale, because I indicated also at that time the level of employment at which we were aiming for the year 1980.

This is the most difficult and complex negotiation I have been engaged in, and one which is extremely demanding, because one is conscious it is so easy to make a mistake and so difficult to win a point. [379] However, we are determined to carry it through to success, and I think the fishermen can have confidence that we will not miss any tricks and that out of it will come prospects for a rapidly developing fishing industry in Ireland of which till a few months ago there seemed to be no prospect as a result of the situation we were left in by the regulation of 1970 and the Accession Treaty.

Question put and agreed to.