Dáil Éireann - Volume 306 - 04 May, 1978

Vote 48: Foreign Affairs.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. O'Kennedy): I move:

That a sum not exceeding £7,598,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December 1978, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and of certain services administered by that Office, includ-certain grants-in-aid.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle I propose to take the Estimates for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation together.

Because this is the first time I have presented the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Dáil, I feel that, before speaking in detail of the work of the Department, I should first set out some general views on our foreign relations. I would like to say something, too, of the aims and objectives which I believe the Department of Foreign Affairs should seek to pursue and the relationship between what it does and the work of other Departments of Government.

At times in the past in this country we have thought of foreign affairs—in the sense of anything going beyond the major issue of our relations with Great Britain—as something of little real interest or importance. This is strange because few nations of our size have had so many links with countries in distant corners of the world as those developed by our people over the years—through emigration and through the work of our missionaries and voluntary workers. Nevertheless we did sometimes ask if Ireland, as a small newly independent State concerned with internal economic and social problems of its own, could really afford a foreign policy.

I do not think that anyone could seriously ask such a question today. Ireland like every country, large or small, merely by existing as an independent State in a world of other States, is involved in a network of relations within the international community. [341] It is clear to everyone from many recent developments, and especially so since we became involved in the EEC, that these relations are important and that we can be deeply affected by events outside our own shores. How we react to these events, what we do to develop and direct these relations, and how we interact with other countries in our immediate neighbourhood and with the world community as a whole—all of this is what constitutes our foreign policy. It is now clear, I think, that foreign policy in this sense is not something optional or something distant or abstract. It is an activity in which we must necessarily engage and which can have a very direct effect on the daily lives of all our people.

The realisation of this has led to an increased interest in, and concern about, our foreign relations. There has been a corresponding development of the role and activity of my Department as the Department of State which is primarily—though not solely—responsible for Ireland's external affairs. The Estimates which I am presenting to the Dáil today reflect this, and reflect too the importance which the Government attach to these questions.

I should of course say clearly at the outset that the foreign relations of a democratic country such as ours are not exclusively a matter for the Government. As a free society we have naturally developed a whole network of other relations with the outside world—in commerce and trade, and in contacts and exchanges of all kinds. This comes about through the activities of individuals, of business firms and other organisations and of semi-Government agencies—activities which we want to encourage and promote. Nor, within the area of Government activity, is it right to overlook the role of other Government Departments such as Agriculture, Finance, and Industry, Commerce and Energy. A good deal of their work must now be directed to following developments abroad. Indeed, for a member State of the EEC in particular, the work of most Departments of State today will have certain international aspects.

Nevertheless it is the responsibility [342] of Government, by building on and encouraging these relationships, to set a general direction for our foreign relations as a State; and within the Government it is primarily for the the Minister of Foreign Affairs to co-ordinate and give overall direction to our foreign relations and to give expression to an Irish foreign policy. What should this policy be, and what are the issues which for us are of primary concern?

A first point of importance in my view is that the policies we follow and the attitudes we express in international affairs cannot be something arbitrary. They are not decided in a vacuum. As in the case of any other State they are determined in large part by our situation, by what we are and how we see ourselves as a people— and to a degree by the choices we have already made as an independent State

Ours is a small country, a part of Western Europe, and we share a common culture with other countries in our region. We are a democracy, deeply committed to democratic ideas. We have—with some effort I may say —attained and consolidated our independence as a State although our history has left us with one major unresolved issue.

In economic matters we are not so prosperous as we would like, though we are rich by the standards of much of the world. This imposes certain responsibilities. But we are also relatively vulnerable and we have a considerable interest in a stable as well as an equitable international economic order. Agriculture is still our greatest industry. But industry itself and the exports it generates are of growing importance. Our economy in general is an open one and we are greatly dependent on international trade.

These are the basic facts about our situation and they help to determine our outlook and our policies. But this is not all. Our view of our own history, our effort to assert our identity, and the beliefs and outlook of our people—all of these things have given us a commitment to certain values. We believe that certain things are right and certain things wrong for States as they are for individuals. I think our people [343] would like to see their country not only seek its own interest but also stand by these values and give expression to these concerns within the international community, though we must know that it is not always possible to ensure that they can be fully realised in practice.

A further point is that in our history as a State we have already made certain choices. These, too, have helped to determine our present situation. As a small and newly independent State we chose, for example, to remain neutral in a time of major world war and we managed with difficulty to do so. Later we opted to remain out of a military alliance formed by many other States in our region and this continues to be our position. Six years ago, faced with another choice, we decided to commit ourselves to membership of the European Community. This was—or perhaps I should say could become—the most important decision in our history as a State, since we thereby committed ourselves freely to European integration, a process which is intended to culminate in a European Union. Together with this commitment, and directly because of it, we took on a parallel commitment in European political co-operation with the same ultimate goal. This meant that we agreed to consult with our partners on foreign policy issues in the political field and as far as possible to establish common positions with them. All of these earlier decisions can be said to have been endorsed in effect by the electorate over the years. It is worth pointing out, however, that the decision in favour of Community membership received an additional and explicit endorsement from our people. The whole issue was thoroughly debated at the time and the decision to join was approved by an overwhelming majority in the referendum in May 1972.

This then is the framework and these are the limits within which we must determine our policies and our attitudes on the issues which face us in our external relations today. But this does not mean there is no longer anything to decide. Neither our [344] present situation nor our past choices can wholly determine what our future will be. That is for us to decide and we do this by the policy choices we make today.

Our policy may sometimes, of course, have to be a reaction to outside events which we may influence at times but cannot always predict or determine. But we still have a considerable area of initiative. Even where the question is how we should react, we must still decide for ourselves what our aim is and what we want to achieve.

This brings me to a second general point which I consider of great importance in relation to our foreign policy. It is this: that the policies we follow and the positions we take up in international affairs will not be effective or relevant if they are worked out in isolation or on what I might call a freewheeling basis. To be truly effective they must be part of a coherent overall Government policy which is concerned to direct the energies of our people to best advantage and effect, in the internal as well as in the external field.

This means that the Department of Foreign Affairs must be an integral part of Government and not something which works in isolation from it. There are two good reasons for this. First, if Government is to carry through consistent and well-directed policies in the domestic field, especially in a small country such as ours, it must give constant and careful attention to the external environment which so deeply affects us. It is the function of the Department of Foreign Affairs as a Department of Government to see to it that we are in a position to do this at all times. Secondly, if we are to pursue effective external policies as part of the international community, we must see to it that those policies as formulated and expressed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs do indeed have the support of the Government as a whole. They will not otherwise be truly relevant or effective because they will not be what they should be—the external expression of a coherent, overall Government point of view.

[345] A third point I consider of importance in our foreign relations is that Government, and my Department in particular, should be aware of, and as far as possible responsive to, the concerns and interests of the general public. I do not mean that we can or should always take account of the wishes of this or that pressure group on a particular issue, though we may be glad to have their views. But it is proper that the public in general should take an increasing interest in our external relations and find their concerns given expression there. In the long run, I feel that the policies we pursue as part of the international community will be consistent and effective only if they reflect a real public interest here and have broad public support.

This then is the general background against which I would like to consider the main areas of activity of my Department. The work of that Department is wide-ranging and diverse, and it is carried on in the Department itself and through embassies and consulates in many parts of the world. I would like, however, to direct particular attention to four main issues which are of continuing concern to us. These are: Northern Ireland; our international economic relations, including our membership of the EEC; the policies we pursue in world political affairs; and our programme of development aid.

I can say at once, very briefly, what our aims in these four areas are: we want to do everything open to us to promote a future of peace, justice and stability for all of the people of this island; we want to help advance the prosperity and well-being of our people through our commitment to European integration, through our trade and other economic relations, and through all of the other economic arrangements we enter into as part of the international community; we want to do what we can as a small country to advance the aims of peace, justice and order in the world as a whole; and we want to increase the resources we devote to our aid programme until we reach the targets we have voluntarily [346] accepted. There is a good deal more that must be said on each of these issues.

First there is the question of Northern Ireland. This is, and will continue to be, an issue of major importance to us since our approach to it, whatever it may be, raises a most basic question as to our national identity. Because the issue is so fundamental, raising as it does the question of whether our State is to remain as it now is or be part of some new political arrangement within this island, the problem will always be one on which it is for the Taoiseach in the first instance to state the policy of the Government. I and my Department are involved to the extent that the problem is—as in part it is—one of relations between our Government and the British Government. We are naturally concerned too to ensure that the policy of our Government in relation to the question as a whole as expressed by the Taoiseach will be fully understood abroad.

Because the basic issue is a matter for the Taoiseach in the first instance, and because there have been and will be other opportunities to debate the issue involved, I will not dwell on that basic issue here at great length. I will simply repeat our hope that one day the people of this island will come together peacefully and by consent accept political structures. We would insist that those structures must be open enough and generous enough to all to accommodate our undoubted diversity and to do so without constraint. This hope is one which we continue to express, not because of a narrow nationalism or for emotional reasons, nor because we believe that an island must always, and in all circumstances, form one political unit, but because in this island we have seen now over more than half a century the unhappy consequences of a political settlement based on division.

The test of a political settlement is that it should be stable. It is obvious that the settlement which divided this island was not. The initial division of the island was reflected in reverse, in an aggravated form, within Northern Ireland and this made it seriously unstable. [347] Over nearly sixty years that settlement has done nothing to heal divisions.

In face of this situation, which we cannot ignore even if we wish to, we follow a policy based on two fundamental points.

First, there is what we want to achieve. We have a duty to indicate a realistic and peaceful way forward. In our view there is only one such way. We must first commit ourselves completely and wholly to peace; and then, and on this basis only, work and encourage others to work, towards agreed political structures which will have wide political support.

Second, there is what we reject. We will have no part of cocrcion and violence. We have acted and will continue to act with the greatest vigour and effectiveness against those amenable to our jurisdiction who promote or engage in violence in any part of this island. Their actions advance nothing and they heal nothing; they add new wounds to old injuries; and even if the aims they profess to seek could somehow be advanced and not indefinitely retarded by their actions, we simply want no part of any future Ireland brought into being by such means.

The structures to which I have referred whether within Northern Ireland today, or one day within the island as a whole, must, I repeat, be broad enough and flexible enough to accommodate whatever diversity there is among us, so that people of differing political outlook and conditions can find them acceptable and give them their support. This would mean that diversity would no longer be a cause of minority alienation and political instability. Instead of a source of weakness it could become a source of strength. It is clear even by definition that there can be no other way to build such structures than by agreement. If there is no agreement they will not have wide support, and we know that we cannot again afford to create a discontented and alienated minority anywhere in this island of Ireland.

[348] These are the policies which we have adopted and intend to follow in relation to the problem of Northern Ireland.

This approach has been stated frequently by the Taoiseach in the past. We feel entitled to re-state it again as necessary—firmly but without insistence, and with no wish to aggravate or offend those very people in Northern Ireland whose goodwill and friendship we sincerely seek.

A particular aspect of the problem which involves my Department directly is that which bears on relations with the British Government. We have been too close to one another for too long in these islands to allow misunderstandings to develop; and we have too many interests in common—at a general level as well as in relation to Northern Ireland—to allow such misunderstandings as do develop between us to continue for long.

On the particular issue of Northern Ireland, we have a substantial measure of agreement on what is required in the short and middle term. Both Governments believe that it is most important to end violence from any quarter. I must recognise frankly, of course, that there have been some critical public exchanges between us recently about some aspects of our common effort to bring violence to an end. I feel bound to say that we considered this criticism—which came from some sources only—to be unfair and unwarranted, but I believe that it has now ended and that we are both agreed to do all in our power to bring violence to an end.

There is agreement between us too that it is essential to find ways of encouraging people to live and work together—as they must, however the future may develop. With this in view the British Government accept that when and if devolved government is to return to Northern Ireland—as it clearly should—it can only be on the basis of structures which have widespread support and acceptance. This means structures that allow for participation and partnership—that is power sharing—as a way of healing community divisions.

[349] The Government believe that there is considerable scope for the development and expansion of economic co-operation between North and South. Such co-operation not only assists in improving the economic wellbeing of those on both sides of the Border but can also make an important contribution to the process of reconciliation and the promotion of generally more friendly relations between all the people of this island. It must, however, of necessity, involve agreement, consent and, as in many other aspects of North-South co-operation, the pace and substance cannot be determined exclusively by us.

Deputies will be aware that economic co-operation was one of the items discussed by the Taoiseach and myself at the meeting which we had with the British Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in London in September. It was agreed then to carry out a review of Anglo-Irish and especially North-South economic co-operation with a view particularly to identifying areas where this co-operation could be expanded. This review has now been completed and a report has recently been submitted to the British and Irish Governments. These reports are now being considered and I expect to be in a position to make a further announcement on the matter shortly.

In the light of these developments, £50,000 has been allocated this year under the sub-head to enable the Government to finance their share of the cost of possible further studies on the lines of that recently undertaken in the Derry-Donegal area.

Where we do differ from the British Government is in our long-term approach to the problem, and I must frankly recognise this. It is understandable, perhaps, that the British Government today should be concerned about present realities and about the immediate future in Northern Ireland. In their view anything beyond this would not be realistic at present. Our view, however, as I have just said, is that if the policies followed are short-term policies only, they will not be adequate to meet the [350] problem—even in the short-term. An end of violence requires something more than a resolute security policy, important as that may be. It requires some vision of a future without violence to which energy and attention can henceforth be directed.

Our view is that the British Government should accept this and should now begin to set a new direction. As a long-term aim they should be pre-prepared to encourage people to turn their minds at least to the possibility of working out agreed political structures on this island of the kind I have described. This would not mean that anything would be imposed now or in the future; and it would not mean that agreement, freely given and freely arrived at, would be any the less necessary. What it would mean is simply that a new direction would have been set—and accepted by that Government which has present responsibility for Northern Ireland. All of us would then be encouraged to consider at least if there are new and better ways of dealing with the burden which our history has left to us. The burden is one which affects not some of us only but all of us on this island, and we have a common interest more basic than anything which divides us in reaching agreement on how it is to be dealt with.

These are the policies which my Department have sought to promote in relations with the British Government and in relation to Northern Ireland. We have also been concerned to do everything possible to ensure that our position on these matters is fully understood abroad—by public opinion, by friendly governments and in the international community as a whole. I believe that within the limits open to us we have succeeded in this and that there is a growing understanding of the reasoned basis for the policies to which we have committed ourselves.

I should like to turn now to a second major area of concern to my Department—the work they do to promote and facilitate exports and other commercial exchanges and to advance our general economic interests abroad. This is a major [351] objective of the Department and I will ensure that it remains so.

Clearly, trade is primarily a matter for the individual businessman or firm. Within the administration, the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy has, of course, responsibility for trade and we are all conscious of the outstanding contribution to export promotion made by Córas Tráchtála, which is answerable to him. Similarly the Industrial Development Authority, which is also responsible to the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy, is doing a first-class job in attracting new industry to Ireland. Within that context my Department— both direct and through our embassies and consulates abroad—co-operate in every way with CTT and the IDA both by helping create the climate in which they can most effectively operate and by giving them all possible assistance.

At times this will mean provision of material or reports to Córas Tráchtála in accordance with standing arrangements or at their request; at times, for example, where there is no Córas Tráchtála office, it will mean providing help and facilities to exporters direct. It may mean, in conjunction with the other economic Departments, negotiating a co-operation agreement with a foreign government which will facilitate the development of trade. Frequently, too, it will mean making representations or seeking information from a foreign government through diplomatic channels on a matter which affects our interests in general or the interests of a particular business firm in Ireland.

The work we do in this regard is not, of course, confined to trade. It extends also to the promotion of industrial investment in Ireland—and to other areas such as tourism where our embassies co-operate closely with the IDA and Bord Fáilte respectively.

All of these are issues on which the particular role of my Department is to help and facilitate the work of individuals and of other agencies and to help to set the framework within which they can operate to best effect and advantage.

[352] There are, however, other major issues and concerns in the economic field which are more directly a responsibility of Government and on which my Department must play a leading— and at times a co-ordinating—role. Overshadowing all others in importance is now our membership of the EEC. Of course this is an issue of great importance for all Government Departments, and my colleagues in Government—the Ministers for Finance, for Agriculture, for Fisheries and so on—attend the meetings of the Council of Ministers in Brusels appropriate to their areas of responsibility. Since our entry to the Community five years ago, however, the Department of Foreign Affairs have had primary responsibilty for overall co-ordination of Government positions and policies in relation to the EEC.

In some ways our EEC membership is not simply another area of activity in our foreign relations. It must be considered rather as a new and open-ended commitment to construct something wholly new which we have undertaken together with our partners. It is already more than the sum of its parts, but it is not yet something separate from them. This, then, is the framework within which we have now to operate in so far as our general foreign economic policy is concerned. I do not think it would be appropriate to go into great detail here as the House will shortly have an opportunity to debate the Eleventh Report on Developments in the European Community.

I should, however, say that our commitment to European integration was wholehearted. We did not join the Community simply for economic advantage—although we naturally hoped for this—but also because we hoped to see a political and economic entity of a new kind emerge in Western Europe after past wars and we wanted to be part of it. This issue emerged in the referendum campaign and the electorate made it clear where they stood in regard to it.

It was and is, clear that having struggled ourselves for so long to assert our own identity and independence we would commit ourselves in a new [353] relationship only if we could be sure that the aims and hopes which we had sought through independence could be realised to greater effect through that new commitment. This, too, was an issue in the campaign and it was the understanding on which the electorate voted in favour of membership. This means in effect that from the outset we have expected a good deal of the Community of which we are a member.

The Community have been going through a difficult time in recent years. The economic recession characterised by inflation and high unemployment has led to a situation of stagnation which is particularly worrying in the context of the forthcoming extension of the Community to embrace new members. In these circumstances the need for a stimulus to growth has become abundantly clear. At its meeting in Copenhagen on 7-8 April, the European Council set forth guidelines for the development over the next three months of a common strategy designed to reverse the present unsatisfactory trend in the Community's economic and social situation. It was agreed that this common strategy would cover economic and monetary affairs, employment, energy, trade, industrial affairs, and relations with the developing world. The Foreign Affairs Council were asked to co-ordinate the efforts of the Council in its various formations, and to prepare for the European Council's session in July 1978. It was considered essential that the Community will have achieved an annual growth rate of 4.5 per cent by the middle of 1979. We for our part would consider this target as an absolute minimum to reduce unemployment, and we are mindful of the particular grave unemployment problem in Ireland to which our unique demographic situation contributes. We are of course unique in another area— that of growth, where we are leading the Community. It is therefore not from any position of weakness that we exhort our partners to agree on a Community plan for growth within which our national plan can make even greater progress in future. [354] Recently the Commission have relaunched the movement towards economic and monetary union and have produced proposals for an action programme. In principle we favour any move towards greater economic integration and monetary stability, but the achievement of these aims pre-supposes very positive action to offset the negative effects which such a move could have on the economically weaker areas of the Community.

The 1978 stage of the five year economic and monetary plan is at present being considered in the Community. Departments here are carefully examining the implications for this country of the measures proposed under the three broad areas of the programme. These relate to increased convergence of economies and economic policies, progress in the creation of a single competitive market, and the development of Community structural and social policies, from both the sectoral and regional points of view.

We are particularly concerned to ensure that progress in the creation of a single market is matched by measures in the regional, social and other areas to adequately compensate the peripheral regions such as Ireland for any adverse effects arising out of liberalisation policies aiming at the development of a single market. In my view it is particularly important that any sectoral policies advanced in the context of the plan should contain a proper regional dimension. Our overall attitude to the programme to relaunch economic and monetary union will be very much influenced by the degree of commitment in the Community to the promotion of a significant redistribution of resources from the richer to the poorer areas.

Apart altogether from any move towards economic and monetary union, regional policy in the broad sense is a matter of paramount concern to us. I am not here speaking only of the Regional Fund but of the evolution of a comprehensive regional policy without which no true economic Community is possible.

As the Taoiseach has already reported to the Dáil, he raised the question of regional policy at the recent [355] European Council in Copenhagen and stressed the need for a strong policy in this respect. The Council were receptive to his ideas and indeed the agreed communiqué issued after the meeting pointed out that a pursuit of greater internal cohesion, implying also a reduction in regional imbalances, constitutes one of the key objectives of the Community. Serious regional imbalances exist in the present Community and the evidence shows that they are widening. Indeed Community policies with direct regional repercussions are being implemented in a number of areas without, to date at any rate, any apparent effort to assess their regional dimensions and compensate these regions which are going to be adversely affected by them.

While some attempt was made to tackle this question in the past this Government, since taking up office, have been constantly pressing the Community in this connection. I myself have raised the question at a number of Foreign Affairs Councils. The Taoiseach and members of the Government including myself discussed this problem with the President of the Commission on a recent visit here. I am also ensuring that the serious regional implications of enlargement of the Community are being fully taken into account and I have made our view known to the Commission recently. What we want is that in the implementation of all Community policies—for example industrial crisis management—due regard be had to the special problems of peripheral areas.

In the case of this country we have set ourselves an ambitious programme of economic advance and these aims should be assisted, not frustrated, by Community policies. I was glad to note from the Commission's Programme for 1978 that it is beginning to move on the right lines. Paragraph 40 of this document envisages proposals under the main Community policies being made “with proper regard to their impact on the regions; this may entail the establishment of correcting mechanisms where the impact would be harmful”. These are admirable [356] ideas as far as they go, but we will be watching closely to see how they are being implemented.

In the industrial sphere, however, crisis—management policies have in some cases been pursued without due regard to the regional, social and strategic needs of the peripheral areas, and in many cases there has been too great an emphasis on solutions involving cut-backs in employment and output. Policies to deal with the very serious structural difficulties of the large-scale industries of the central areas must not proceed with indifference to the rightful aspirations of the weaker regions to develop more efficient production units capable of competing in all markets.

The practice whereby sectoral policies are applied apparently with an even hand across the Community will have to cease, and industrial policy must be seen to actively differentiate in favour of the poorer regions. Not only are the peripheral areas losing out directly under the present sectoral policies but there is a legitimate fear that some funds being employed to aid the restructuring of the central industries are perhaps available at the expense of the Regional and Social Funds.

In the area of competition policy and State aids I feel that there is perhaps, at Community level, less than full appreciation of the importance to us of our scheme of industrial incentives. Since taking up office this Government have lost no opportunity of impressing on both Commission and Council the special position of Ireland, the need to take account of our particular problems and our potential for progress. Far from attempting to place any constraints on our incentives, the Commission should assist us in maintaining their effectiveness by ensuring that other member states do not engage in practices which allow them to unfairly outbid us in the attraction of foreign projects. Our industrial incentives are vital to our programme of industrialisation, which in turn is vital to our aim as recognised in Protocol 30 of the Treaty of Accession, of approximating the level of economic [357] development in the other member states.

In the final analysis the present lack of a regional policy is a serious weakness in the existing political cohesion of the Community. The failure to arrive at such a policy not only inhibits our attempts to move towards European union but given the widening disparities undermines the progress we have made to date towards that end. Accordingly we must accord the emergence of a Community regional policy a very high place on our list of priorities.

I would now like to turn to the European Regional Development Fund. In this connection Deputies will recall that the European Council of last December which was attended by the Taoiseach and myself agreed to a European Regional Development Fund of about £1,200 million to be spread over the next three years. We expect to get about £75 million of this. While this was more than double the previous Fund it is still inadequate, however, and we will press for an upwards revision at the first appropriate opportunity.

Indeed the regional aspects pervade all Community areas. In the agricultural sector, we must recognise that Ireland, like other food exporting member states, has benefited substantially from membership of the Community. But we must also recognise that there is a longer term aspect in so far as agriculture and other areas are concerned. The common agricultural policy is not confined to organising markets for various products. It also has a vital role to play in helping to improve the basic structures of farming, especially in the less well off agricultural areas. The Commission recently indicated that they intended to introduce special proposals to assist in the development of the West of Ireland, which ranks among the least developed regions in the Community. We would indeed hope that these proposals would go beyond the agricultural sphere.

We have stressed also the need for far-reaching improvements in the Community farm modernisation [358] scheme, to increase Community participation in it and to make it more sensitive to the real needs of farmers in the less-favoured agricultural areas.

The problem of monetary compensatory amounts is of continuing and serious concern as they distort trade and lead to constant anomalies. We strongly support the present Commission proposals to phase out MCAs over a period of years.

With regard to fisheries, negotiations on a definitive reserved Community policy broke down in January and the question of a reserved coastal zone is, for the present, in abeyance. The position now is that the member states of the Community are seeking to reach agreement on conservation measures, which will apply for the remainder of 1978, in consultation with and with the agreement of the Commission. For Ireland's part, the measures which we envisage will include a scheme of forward fishing plans on the basis of guideline quotas designed to give Irish fishermen a substantial special preference in our 200-mile exclusive fisheries zone. It is essential that these fishing plans should bring about a significant reduction of fishing activity by other member states in these waters.

As Deputies may be aware, the Minister for Fisheries announced earlier this year that the Commission has proposed to assist the Irish Government in undertaking a scientific and economic study on the development of the Irish fishing industry. The cost of the study, which it is hoped will be completed as a matter of urgency, will be financed jointly by the Community and the Irish Government.

As regards the cost of patrolling the extended exclusive Irish fisheries zone the Commission has proposed that the Community make a contribution of about £30 million towards the cost of providing an adequate fishery protection service, to be paid in the period to the end of 1982. The Minister for Fisheries is pressing for an early decision so that the Community contribution will be available to us without delay to enable us to undertake all necessary patrolling measures to protect [359] fish stocks. The question of assistance for the restructuring of our inshore fishing industry is also of great importance to us, and the recent proposals for a special FEOGA grants system to operate for 1978, which Commissioner Gundelach announced at the Council of Ministers for Fisheries meeting on 24 April were particularly welcome.

I should like to return briefly to the question of enlargement of the Community and to say that a reduction in regional imbalances in the present Community is all the more urgent given the perspective of the accession of three new member states. At the Council meeting on Tuesday of this week we reaffirmed the political will of the Community for enlargement. As Deputies will be aware, I have welcomed consistently the applications for membership of Greece, Portugal and Spain but I have said also that a political commitment which is not matched by action in the economic and institutional spheres is not a valid commitment. The existing Community must be strengthened to make it capable of bearing the additional burdens of enlargement. I am glad to say that the Council on Tuesday acknowledged this need. Clearly, the problems posed by enlargement will be solved only if the Community are strong and have already set a course for substantial progress towards their stated aims. I believe that the challenge of enlargement will be met and that the necessary precautionary measures will be taken to ensure that the accession of the applicants will be effected harmoniously and successfully. Successful assimilation of the new member states will require in particular an efficiently working Community with adequate resources to cater for the needs of existing members and new members alike. We will continue to press for action in this regard.

I think that the agreement reached in Copenhagen last month to hold direct elections to the European Parliament in June 1979 is very important. It is not that the Parliament itself has a very important role as yet but simply that the direct election of members to [360] it from each of the member states will emphasise once again that our commitment is indeed to a community and not simply to a new kind of intergovernmental association of nation states. Though I welcome this decision, however, I think it would be well not to exaggerate its immediate significance lest we be seriously disappointed in the event. Of course the directly-elected Parliament will have much greater authority and it will speak with a more determined voice on that account. But its powers will still be limited—and the agreement to elect the Parliament directly will not in itself increase them. Indeed that very fact may make some member governments more wary than ever of conceding it additional powers.

I believe that this must be said now because there is a danger that some of us will be disappointed in the first year after direct elections if we set our present hopes too high and expect the election of the Parliament in itself to make up for a lack of political will by member Governments. It is true that Parliaments in the past have drawn to themselves new powers within nation states. But the process was always a slow and difficult one; and we cannot expect that it will be easy for a supranational Parliament to do in a year what national parliaments did over many centuries.

I have mentioned my Department's role in the promotion of exports and other foreign earnings. This is an area in which the Department of Foreign Affairs are most anxious to assist the national effort and indeed are particularly well equipped to do so.

There are some who may not be aware fully of the contribution which my Department and its diplomatic missions are making in this effort, a contribution which is recognised and highly valued by Coras Tráchtála and Irish exporters alike. Economic and trade-related matters are receiving increasing attention from our representatives abroad, and economic considerations now rank among the most important for the Government in establishing priorities with regard to the extension of Ireland's diplomatic representation. In the commercial [361] aspects of their work our embassies and consulates co-operate closely with and act in support of CTT. To do this effectively they are required to maintain a close and sustained study of the economic and market situations in their countries of accreditation and areas of consular jurisdiction. This is particularly important in the case of those countries in which CTT have no representation and where the embassy acts as a focal point and ready source of information and operational assistance for CTT as well as for Irish exporters.

The Irish embassy has a particularly important role to play in those countries in which the Government are intimately involved in the planning and development of the economy. In these cases official backing for the businessman may be a prerequisite to a successful transaction of business. Without this support a businessman's task can be frustrating and unproductive. Where an Irish embassy is accredited to such countries it can and does provide the appropriate official backing as well as valuable operational assistance in what may be an unfamiliar and difficult environment. In this regard I have been informed by several concerns that contracts worth millions of pounds could not have been secured without the assistance of our diplomatic missions.

Another way in which my Department can contribute to the country's export effort is in assisting Irish concerns tendering for Government-sponsored consultancy or service contracts. As the House is aware an increasing number of firms and semi-State organisations are earning valuable income by selling their services and expertise abroad—the estimate for the value of contracts of this type secured in 1977 is in excess of £30 million. On occasion the Irish firm may be at a disadvantage as their qualifications and experience may not be known to the Government awarding the contracts. In such cases diplomatic representations in support of the firm may be necessary and at times in the past have been crucial in helping Irish firms to secure such contracts.

Government-to-Government contact [362] also has a significant role to play in the development of commercial relations with State-trading Socialist countries. In order to provide the framework within which the Government-controlled markets of our two main trading partners in this category might become more accessible to Irish exporting firms and organisations, co-operation agreements were signed with the USSR in December 1976 and with Poland in June 1977. Under the terms of these agreements joint commissions scheduled to meet annually have been established to review and encourage the development of economic, industrial, scientific and technological co-operation between the contracting parties.

The first meeting of the Polish Joint Commission took place on 27 and 28 February last and it is as yet too early to assess the effects it will have on Irish-Polish trade but we would hope that an increase in Irish exports and a lessening of our existing trade deficit will result.

The Soviet Joint Commission met for the first time last June and I am encouraged by the fact that for 1977 our exports to the USSR increased by 240 per cent, albeit from a very low base, to £6.336 million. I am, however, not convinced that this in any way represents the full potential of our exports to the Soviet market and I remain concerned at the extent of our trade imbalance with that country. I have personally made this concern known to the Soviet authorities and I have been assured that everything will be done to facilitate access for Irish exports to that market. It is my hope that these assurances and the improved trend in our exports last year are indicative of an appreciation on the part of the Soviet Union that a reasonable balance in trade and trading opportunities are essential for the development of understanding and goodwill between a small country such as Ireland and the USSR.

Ireland has an open economy and export earnings are essential for the creation of employment, and indeed for our economic survival. It is for Irish businessmen to win those export earnings. They will have the support [363] of the Government and I wish to assure them that this support will be demonstrated by the willingness of my Department and our embassies abroad to back up their efforts.

I turn now to world political problems as the third area where issues of concern arise for us in our foreign relations. Here again, I should like to consider in general the principles which guide our approach, before I refer to some of the specific issues which arise.

First, it may be asked why we are concerned at all about world political issues, even such distant issues as the Middle East and Southern Africa. We are small and relatively weak; and we have our own problems in Ireland.

One answer is obvious. Small as we are we are part of the international community and we can be deeply affected by distant events. Indeed the more a country like ours wishes to address itself to its own problems, the more it is dependent on the maintenance of peace, order and stability within the world community as a whole.

By this I do not mean simply peace and order at the world level or in our own region, as if we could remain untouched by conflict elsewhere. The world is now too small for that, even if we were to look solely to our own interest and leave aside any feeling of human concern. We are still living, for example, with many of the consequences of a distant and purely regional conflict—the Middle East war of 1973 which greatly affected our economy and our daily lives.

But even if we are affected can we do anything about these problems? We are, after all, one of some 160 countries in the world and our power to promote the kind of world order we should like to see must necessarily be limited.

I do not think we can honestly take this approach today. I do not, of course, want to exaggerate our role; but small as we are, we are a respected member of the international community and we can exert a certain influence within it. We must not underestimate [364] the part we can play in international organisations, in conjunction with like-minded countries, to maintain peace and promote a greater measure of justice as well as order in the world. If every country of our size opted out of this effort, the world would be a more difficult and, I believe, a more dangerous place.

Our values and beliefs as well as our general interest in world order require us to play a part, without of course exaggerating what we can hope to achieve. We are a democracy, one of a relatively small number in the world today, and we have been committed to democratic ideals since the foundation of the State. We claimed independence for ourselves as a right. We looked elsewhere for support, and we put much effort ourselves over the years into winning it. We cannot now be wholly indifferent to the position of other peoples who claim this, too, as their right.

More generally, as I said at the outset, our people hold to certain values and beliefs, certain concepts of justice and of right and wrong. I believe they would like to see their Government stand for these values and try to advance them, even imperfectly, within the international community.

I think I can summarise our general position as follows. We want to see peace maintained and greater order and stability in world affairs; we want to advance the aim of justice in the world—not only in the political field but also in world economic relations; we should like as far as possible to promote the ideas of freedom and democracy which we ourselves hold to; and we want to see basic human rights, including the right to a life of human dignity free from want, respected everywhere.

I should not like this to be a purely rhetorical formulation of ideals with little relation to the reality of our foreign relations. Of course, like every State, we will pursue our national interest and the interest of our people. But these aims which I have mentioned, properly understood, seem to me to be based on a sense of interest too, a common interest of the world community as well as on the feelings [365] of concern of our people. I believe that we can and should work to advance them, with no illusions that they are easy to attain but with a readiness to welcome and encourage any progress that can be made towards them.

We now have a new opportunity to try to advance these aims as one of the nine member states of the European Community. I have already mentioned that our membership of the Community involved us also, and this of necessity, in a commitment to European political co-operation. I do not know how widely this is understood or how fully it is appreciated, so I should like to explain what it entails.

European political co-operation is a separate framework of co-operation between the nine member states of the Community. It began in a small way in 1970 and it has now grown and developed very considerably. Its basis is an agreement of all of the nine to consult together on world political issues and as far as possible to work out common positions and policies.

The effort to do this now involves extensive and organised arrangements for co-operation and discussion between the nine Foreign Ministries at every level both official and political. It means too that the embassies in other countries consult together and that the delegations of the Nine now work closely together—often on the basis of daily co-ordination meetings —in virtually all major international organisations and conferences and at the United Nations.

Clearly, from the outset the aim of the European Community was already political even if the means chosen to bring about European integration were in the first instance economic. Now however within the parallel framework of political co-operation, the commitment of the nine member states to work towards integration has extended more explicitly into the political field, because they now try to establish common positions in foreign policy matters. This arrangement is however still separate since it has as yet no basis in the treaties; but its stated aim, like that of the Community itself, is European union.

The working out of common positions [366] under these arrangements requires a consensus and it is not always possible at this stage to achieve this. To this extent, then, the obligation which we have accepted, though binding in the sense that we have committed ourselves to co-ordinate our policies, is not absolute since we are not obliged to reach agreement.

The commitment we have made to European political co-operation was, as I have said, a necessary part of our involvement in the Community and by joining the one we were obliged to take part also in the other. I feel it is necessary to make this point because I want to stress that our commitment to work towards a common foreign policy with our partners is a choice endorsed by the Irish electorate in the referendum since it is, and was seen to be, a direct and necessary consequence of our Community membership.

I have spoken so far of commitment and obligation. But the truth is that such a commitment, properly understood, can become not so much a constraint on our freedom of action as an opportunity to make our actions really effective. When we seek within the Nine to advance the general aims to which I have referred, we find that despite differences of approach at times, our views are shared to a great extent by some or all of our partners. This is natural because, however different their outlook historically, all nine are now free and democratic states, sharing a common culture, and with a common commitment to the aims of the Community.

Clearly the member states of the Community as a group are of weight and consequence in international affairs; and where they can agree to adopt a common approach on a particular issue or in support of particular problems, this will carry much greater weight than anything which a small nation like ours could achieve in isolation.

Obviously our commitment to our partners does involve constraints. We are not always able to make our views prevail within the Nine; and we must at times accept a compromise on some issues about which we feel concern.

In general, however, I believe it is [367] true to say that increasingly we want to act in concert, though like any one of the Nine we are, of course, still free to act in isolation if we so wish. For our part, however, we find that we have gained in the relevance and effectiveness of what we can achieve much more than we have lost in the freedom to take up whichever positions we please. In other words, despite slow progress in some ways, we are finding on these issues too what it is to have a real commitment to build a Community together. I think we can fairly say that we have played a very positive and consistent part in influencing our partners on issues of some importance.

I have felt it desirable to outline in some detail our position and our views on these matters because questions have been raised recently about where we stand. Are we neutral or non-aligned; and have we changed our traditional position?

I should prefer to state exactly what I believe our position is rather than try to see how easily we fit into any particular category. We are not members of an alliance; and we have no military commitments abroad—except a general one to support the peace-keeping efforts of the United Nations. I have no reason at this stage to suppose that any issue of a change in our position on this matter is likely to arise. We have on the other hand, as I have explained, committed ourselves together with our partners to European integration, a process which will culminate, we hope, in a European Union. The exact form which European Union will take and the commitments which would arise in that event have still to be worked out in detail and we will play our part in that process. This commitment supported by successive Governments was explicitly endorsed by our people in the referendum five years ago. All of this sets the framework in which we operate in both economic and political affairs and I have outlined the principles which guide us in doing so; I think it is preferable to state our position clearly and explicity in this way.

I do not propose to refer in great [368] detail at this stage to the particular world issues which face us at present. I should like however to mention two issues of major importance.

There is at present a very high level of armaments throughout the world. This in my view not only poses a grave threat to humanity but also involves a scandalous waste of resources which might otherwise be spent on development. Since we joined the United Nations in 1955 Ireland has worked actively to promote and encourage effective agreements to bring about arms control and disarmament. It is necessary I think to distinguish between these two. Arms control involves some agreement to limit the growth of armaments. Disarmament, in the sense of an actual reduction of armaments, is a more ambitious aim and correspondingly more difficult to achieve. In my view we must encourage effective measures in both areas while insisting that progress in both is necessary. We, like other countries in the United Nations, voted in 1961 to adopt as an ultimate goal the aim of general and complete disarmament. Clearly, to achieve this would be very desirable and it is in the interest of the international community to do everything it can to bring it about. But it will be difficult to achieve—let us not hide the fact—and in the meantime the better should not be the enemy of the good. If we can ensure that arms control measures do not become a substitute for disarmament, we should I believe welcome anything that can be done to prevent further increases in weapons as a step towards the long-term goal.

World concern about the level of armaments has led to a call to hold a special session of the United Nations on disarmament. This special session of the General Assembly will take place in May and June of this year. Ireland has already submitted its views to the Secretary General on how we would like to see it proceed. We hope to see it concentrate on concrete and realistic measures and on establishing an order of priority in regard to disarmament. There has already been far too much rhetoric on these issues and we do not need more. Instead we need specific and concrete measures—in a [369] word, real progress. At the very least, and as a beginning, there should be a halt to nuclear testing; a prohibition on production of chemical weapons; and a regulation of the present growing trade in conventional arms. The special session itself may not be able to achieve effective agreements directly on these issues, since the General Assembly of the United Nations is not suited to detailed negotiations; but it can identify priorities and focus world public opinion seriously on the issues. We will play our full part in this work.

The other area I would like to refer to briefly is that of Africa. The policies we support within the European Community and in the United Nations and elsewhere are directed to do everything possible to promote the liberation of those territories such as Rhodesia and Namibia which are still not independent. Our hope is to see this achieved by peaceful means and in accordance with the wishes of the populations of the territories concerned, and the Government will support all effective international efforts to this end.

In the Horn of Africa the problem is that of external interference in regional conflict. This is a cause of concern to us as to our partners in the European Community. We regret that conflict should in any case arise between African countries who are both members of the non-aligned movement, and the human suffering in this conflict is already great. What is particularly disturbing, however, is the involvement of outside forces and the danger that this will serve to aggravate the conflict and lead to an increase in world tensions. I hope that those involved will be aware of this and that the conflict and suffering in the area will soon end.

The situation in South Africa is alarming. The apartheid system imposed there is an attempt to build a political system on an explicitly racialist basis. This in particular is what distinguishes it from serious human rights violations elsewhere, which of course we also deplore and condemn. I will, if I may, repeat what I said in the United Nations General Assembly last year:

Racial discrimination in itself is [370] deplorable and wrong; when it is institutionalised and given form in political structures it is both wrong and dangerous; and when those political structures are used to suppress permanently a majority of people in their own country it is disastrous.

This is what is happening in South Africa today in the name of so-called “separate development”. The situation there at present in my view is not only wrong, as it always was, but increasingly dangerous. As time passes there is a growing danger of serious racial conflict which could easily be further complicated by outside intervention. I believe that the international community simply must address itself to this problem.

I believe that Ireland should firmly support effective international action directed to bringing about peaceful change. I can understand that a people who are repressed as the majority in South Africa are may be provoked to violence. But I hope that, difficult as it is to do so, it may still be possible to bring change by peaceful means. Ireland fully supports the Security Council embargo on the sale of military equipment to South Africa. We will be ready also to support any future Security Council decisions to bring further pressure to bear— through for example, a ban on new investment. Within the Nine too we have been actively seeking, with our partners, to evolve a policy which will bring effective and increasing pressure on South Africa. A first step in this direction was the adoption of a code of conduct, which the nine member Governments recommended for adoption by business interests of their nationals in South Africa. I hope that this will soon be followed by other measures.

I could of course go on to deal also with many other world political issues and refer to our policies in relation to the Middle East, to human rights issues, to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe —the CSCE—and the other activities in the Council of Europe and the United Nations. I do not propose to [371] do so at present however, not because these issues are not important but because I do not wish to prolong this statement unduly, and I believe that the approach we take on each of these matters is already well known. I would, however, simply like to mention that, as Deputies will be aware from news programmes and the newspapers this morning, we have now received a request from the Secretary General of the United Nations to supply an Irish contingent for the UN Force in Lebanon. Our record of support for UN peace-keeping operations is well known and I can assure the House that the Government will give sympathetic consideration to the request.

The fourth area of particular concern which I have mentioned relates to development aid and our relations with the Third World in general. International economic relations, and particularly those between industrialised and developing countries, are currently at an important stage of development. Given the increasing extent of global interdependence, there is widespread acknowledgment that co-operation for mutual benefit rather than sterile confrontation must be our common purpose. Nevertheless, rather fundamental differences of view exist between industrialised and developing countries about the nature and extent of the changes in the world economic system and in north/south relations that are desirable and feasible. In common with our Community partners, we intend to adopt a constructive approach on the entire range of very complex problems arising in this area.

At the last session of the United Nations General Assembly, it was unanimously agreed that all negotiations of a global nature relating to the establishment of what is referred to as a New International Economic Order— NIEO—should take place within the United Nations system. The relevant resolution also decided that a special session of the General Assembly should be convened in 1980 in order to make an overall assessment of progress in the establishment of a new world order and, on the basis of that [372] assessment, to consider the question of an international development strategy for the 1980s. For these reasons, I attach fundamental importance to the tasks entrusted to the special General Assembly committee, now referred to as the Overview Committee, which has been established to serve as the focal point for the north/ south dialogue between industrialised and developing countries in the two-year period leading up to the special session. Ireland is of course participating in the work of this committee, whose first substantive session is in fact currently taking place in New York.

In continuing to strengthen and consolidate its policies of development co-operation, the Community's overall approach is to use the various instruments of co-operation together so that the optimum development effect can be achieved: this strategy can best be seen in the Lomé Convention concluded between the EEC and the ACP countries. By introducing a number of new elements into Community-Third World relations—for example, financial and technical co-operation, a scheme for the stabilisation of the export earning of ACP countries and the granting of duty-free access to the Community for most ACP products— the Lomé Convention set a remarkable example for regional agreements between industrialised and developing countries. A major objective for the Community over the next two years is the renegotiation of the Lomé Convention. The present convention expires in March 1980 and negotiations between the Community and the ACP states on the terms of Lomé II will formally open on 24 July next. I attach considerable importance to these negotiations not alone from the point of view of the Community as a whole but also because of the new possibilities which will arise for our own bilateral development aid programme.

A large part of the Vote for International Co-operation concerns development aid, though the sums voted here constitute only slightly less than half of our total development assistance programme. In fact, including Central Fund provisions and some [373] other voted expenditure, a total of £9.638 million is being provided for assistance to developing countries in the current year. This allocation amounts to .15 per cent of estimated GNP, but, taking into account certain unexpended commitments of £925,000 carried over from 1977, actual expenditure on official development assistance in the current year would approach a level of .17 per cent of GNP. This overall allocation represents an increase of as much as 70 per cent over actual expenditure in 1977.

Four years ago, I welcomed unreservedly the decision to provide funds for bilateral aid projects in a number of priority countries. To-day, our bilateral efforts have grown sixfold and we feel that we are now begining to make a significant and distinctively Irish contribution to the economic efforts of a number of developing countries. Taking the allocation for 1978, together with supplementary financing which became available in December last and some carry-over funds from 1977, a total of £2.4m. will be available for project expenditure this year.

The primary objective of our bilateral aid programme is to ensure that official Irish aid is used in the most effective way possible to assist the poorer countries of the developing world and the poorer populations in them. Within this broad strategy, there have been to date four primary recipients of aid under the programme— Lesotho, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. This will continue to be the position in 1978. I believe Deputies will automatically see the need, particularly given the limited resources available to us, for our efforts to be concentrated on a small number of target countries. This prevents our aid from being fragmented, enables us to place the bulk of our programme within a coherent framework, in countries where we know we can work successfully and well and where we have built up contacts, experience and expertise. In addition, as the programme develops and grows, our personnel and projects in these countries will provide mutual support for one another. Obviously, in countries or areas in which we are represented, [374] we are in a better position to monitor the implementation of our aid programmes. While our aid is at present concentrated on this group of countries, assistance is also channelled to other countries such as Bangladesh and Thailand in Asia, and Colombia and Peru in Latin America. We hope also to build up programmes with other countries.

Lesotho, one of the poorest countries, receives a very large share of Irish aid. Our programme there concentrates on agriculture, rural development and the provision of infrastructures for development. This year will see the largest expenditure to date on two agricultural projects, one relating to irrigation and the other to pony breeding. We hope that in 1978 a knitting factory which we helped to establish will be extended to include within its scope hand-knitting in people's homes. The ultimate aim is to give employment on a part-time basis to as many as 1,500 people. In the crucial infrastructure area, our aid includes technical assistance in the operation of the Electricity Corporation and in the establishment and operation of a state-owned construction company.

In the other countries where our aid programme is operating, projects are undertaken with the same overall objective of helping each country to develop its independence in several key sectors of its economy, and with emphasis on basic needs. Our aid is given primarily in the form of personnel, technical assistance and training. We then try to transfer to developing countries skills and expertise which have been used successfully, and recently, in our own economic development. We draw extensively on all areas of Irish life, including Government business and State-sponsored bodies, and the educational and voluntary sectors. I am very grateful for this support and co-operation—but would wish of course to see it developed even further—as it is my firm conviction that a broadly-based commitment from organisations and individuals across the full range of our society is a pre-requisite for any successful Irish aid programme. In this, we have received the greatest possible encouragement [375] from the Commission of the European Communities.

The semi-State and State-sponsored agencies give substantial support to our programme both individually and through DEVCO, the State Agencies Development Corporation. Apart from the very worth-while personal and professional experience gained in development aid involvement, there is of course considerable economic spin-off for both the semi-State and the private sector in undertaking projects in developing countries. The Government welcomes this unreservedly and wishes to see the present demand on our expertise, which is coming both directly from the governments of developing countries and from international aid agencies, continue to grow and expand.

We have been able this year to quadruple the amount available for co-financing projects with voluntary agencies, so that £200,000 would be available for this purpose. Support for other projects outside the co-financing scheme, which also involve the voluntary agencies, will amount to approximately £100,000, while some £175,000 will be made available to them by the Agency for Personal Service Overseas. This will give some indication of the importance which I attach to their work and in particular to their ability to tackle the problems of poverty, at source.

I would now like to take this opportunity to record publicly my appreciation of the work of the recently retired chairman of APSO, Senator T.K. Whitaker. The fact that APSO is playing such a significant part in our aid efforts today is undoubtedly due in large part to the guidance and commitment of Senator Whitaker over these past four years. I feel confident that the agency, under its new chairman, Professor George Dawson, will continue to build up our crucial personal service contribution to the developing world. For this purpose, also, I have recently extended the membership of the council of the agency in order to promote the widest possible support throughout the community for APSO's activities. This year, we have been able to allocate [376] £450,000 to the agency, which will enable it to sponsor some 203 assignments by Irish personnel in the Third World.

I am pleased that it has been possible this year to allocate funds to development education. It is important that we in Ireland should become more aware of the responsibilities which fall on us because of our relatively privileged position in the world. We are, of course, less well off than our European neighbours but we are some 20 times richer than some of the poorest countries which we are trying to assist. A programme of education which will be co-ordinated with the voluntary agencies, which are already active in this area, and with other Government Departments, will, I hope, increase Irish consciousness of our responsibilities and will help bring about a situation where this country can take an even more active part in encouraging new and just relationships between developed and developing countries.

I have already advised the House of my proposals to establish an Advisory Council on Development Co-operation. Because of the wide range of issues likely to be considered by the council, I have consulted my Cabinet colleagues on how best it should be constituted. This consultation is almost completed and it is my intention to make a recommendation to the Government on the establishment of the council as soon as possible.

This brings me to another proposal which had been put to both my predecessor and myself, the creation of a State-sponsored body to administer the Bilateral Aid Programme. I have said both in the House and elsewhere that this was a proposal with which I did not agree. I consider that our development co-operation work, of which the aid programme forms a part, is an integral and increasingly important part of Irish foreign policy and, accordingly, it is appropriate that it should continue to be administered by my Department. The programme has been managed successfully by the Department up to now, and it would not be sufficient, as has sometimes been suggested, that, once I have set overall [377] policy, it should be executed by a State-sponsored body whose activities would be monitored on my behalf by my Department. The execution of projects in developing countries is a matter of Government to Government agreement, and issues may arise which could affect our relationships with those countries. I see it as necessary, therefore, to have these matters dealt with in my Department where appropriate experience and expertise is readily available. I might add also that this is undoubtedly the view of the great majority of other west European governments, particularly those within the Community, because they see the need to harmonise and co-ordinate development assistance programmes as much as possible.

These, then, are the four main areas of continuing concern to us. There are, however, other areas which I would now like to touch on briefly.

One of the major international conferences of our time is the United Nations Third Conference on the Law of the Sea, the seventh session of which opened in Geneva on 28 March 1978 and will continue to 19 May 1978. The aim of the conference is to draw up a comprehensive treaty covering notably the international regime and machinery for the sea-bed and ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction—an area which has been described as the common heritage of mankind—the exclusive economic zone, including fisheries, the extent of coastal state jurisdiction over the continental shelf, preservation of the marine environment, marine scientific research, transfer of technology, peaceful settlement of disputes and a host of related issues.

The complexity of the issues and the differing interests of the over 150 nations participating at the conference account to a large extent for the rather slow progress made by the conference since the first substantive session in 1973. But progress has been made and the current seventh session will I hope, go a long way towards resolving the remaining issues. The principal area of continuing disagreement relates to the regime to be established for the international [378] sea-bed area. What is involved here in broad terms is the exploitation and management of the mineral resources, for example, copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese nodules found on the ocean floor. On the one hand the developing countries have felt that control of exploitation should rest with them through an International Sea-bed Authority. On the other hand, the major industrialised countries—which possess or will soon possess the advanced deep sea technology required—have sought guaranteed access to the international sea-bed area on a non-discriminatory basis. Agreement in principle has been reached on the setting up of an International Sea-bed Authority to administer the area. There is also agreement in principle that the authority should have an operational arm, called the Enterprise, to undertake exploitation. However, deep differences remain with regard to the terms under which the industrialised countries would be given access to the area for purposes of exploitation.

The other major issues still unresolved relate to the status of the exclusive economic zone, access for land-locked and geographically-disadvantaged states to that zone, definition of the outer edge of the continental margin and procedures for the peaceful settlement of disputes. These latter issues are of more immediate interest to this country, and our delegation to the conference will continue to do its utmost to secure provisions which meet our interest. For example, the delegation has made proposals in regard to the definition of the outer edge of the continental margin with the objective of clearly defining the extent of a coastal state's jurisdiction over its continental shelf. These proposals now command a large degree of support and they will, I hope, be accepted by the conference.

With regard to our dispute with the UK on the division of our common continental shelf there is agreement on both sides that the dispute should be submitted to some form of third party settlement procedure. We have not yet agreed to the form or nature of the arbitral tribunal but I anticipate that [379] progress on this point will be made in the very near future.

The Estimate for Foreign Affairs includes a grant-in-aid for cultural relations which goes to support projects for the promotion and development of cultural relations between Ireland and other countries. I am sure that Deputies will appreciate that this is an important aspect of our foreign relations. The grant-in-aid is administered on the advice of the Cultural Relations Committee, which comprise 18 members of recognised competence in different aspects of cultural affairs. The committee give their time entirely voluntarily, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them for the valuable public service they are rendering.

The Department's information services, working on a limited budget, are designed to project and enhance the country's general image abroad with a view to maintaining a favourable climate for the achievement of the Government's economic and political objectives abroad. They do this in co-operation with the State-sponsored bodies which have operations outside Ireland.

We are a small country competing for attention in the world press. Much of the positive achievements of Ireland have been obscured by recent tragic happenings in Northern Ireland. It is important in order to restore the balance that foreign journalists be encouraged to visit Ireland and see things at first hand. My Department endeavour to assist those who come and also organise visits by individuals as well as by groups of journalists from other countries to Ireland. Here I should like to pay tribute to the willingness of Deputies on both sides of the House and of officials of State bodies and of organisations in the private sector to meet these journalists and help to give them a balanced view of contemporary Ireland.

Press officers in the more important countries maintain regular contact with influential media in their areas. The Department's visits programme and the work of these Press officers have, I feel, played an important part [380] in improving media coverage of Ireland abroad.

The Department's publication programme includes the publication of a fortnightly bulletin with which Deputies will be familiar. Its circulation is over 15,000 and it reaches a wide readership including key people and media outlets in almost every country in the world. A school facts sheet, or “Broadsheet” as it is called, is now being distributed in nine different languages. A total of 17 facts sheets on specific aspects of Irish life such as the economy, parliament, and the education system have also been published to date; and the first two of what I intend as a series of booklets on matters requiring more lengthy treatment are about to be published. A new edition of the Department's book Facts about Ireland is with the printers. Since last year the Department have reorganised their distribution abroad of films about Ireland. At present over 40 films are distributed abroad, mostly through distribution agencies. I hope to increase this number in coming months in order to ensure that a balanced visual presentation of all major aspects of modern Ireland is available to foreign audiences.

We are now participating in the European Communities newsreel service which reaches audiences in a large number of third countries where Ireland is not directly represented but has important commercial interests.

I might add that my Department are engaged in a programme of distributing Irish records to radio stations, music academies and other interested bodies with a view to promoting an awareness of Irish music as well as sales of Irish records abroad.

I have spoken about the main issues which face us and the broad lines of the policy which I want to see Ireland follow in relation to them. I must emphasise again that our aim is to ensure that the policies we follow in our external relations are positive and consistent; that they are part of an overall Government programme in the external as well as the internal field; and that my Department work always in [381] close co-ordination with other aspects of Government activity.

Our representation abroad has always been modest by comparison with other countries of our size. In recent years the work of the Department and of our missions abroad has grown considerably in extent and in importance. This is in large part a direct consequence of our membership of the European Community. This has meant increased responsibilities for my Department and a considerable increase in the importance of Ireland as perceived by other members of the international community. This latter point is clear too from the fact that there has been an increase in the number of countries who wish to have diplomatic relations with us.

Because of the increase in the work of the Department and its missions abroad, and because of the increased interests at stake, there has been in recent years a certain increase in the staffing of the Department and a modest expansion in the range and coverage of our embassies abroad. In some cases, this has been by way of establishment of a new resident embassy. For the most part, however, it has been by way of additional accreditation of our existing ambassadors.

There is, of course, a limit to how far we can extend our existing resources, and I believe it is necessary from time to time to consider augmenting them to some degree. We are doing so this year—to a limited extent. This as well as the normal inflation accounts for the increase in the Estimate now before the House.

There is, or course, also a good deal that we can do through the various international organisations in which we take part to establish contacts and build links to like—minded countries in other regional groups and in distant corners of the world. I believe that we should do what we can to establish such links—especially with countries whose historical experience has been similar to ours—though they may otherwise be very different from us. This, I would hope, will not alone be to our own benefit—it will also improve the contacts between the different regional groups and organisations into [382] which the world is increasingly divided.

We can make many of these contacts in the United Nations, the membership of which is now almost universal. Our involvement in the Lomé Convention has also given us new opportunities for contact with countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Beyond this I should mention another way in which we try within the limits of our resources to expand our contacts with other countries. This is by way of official visits at Foreign Minister level, and, on occasion, State visits at Head of State level. I would here like to pay tribute to my predecessor who undertook a number of official visits abroad during his period as Minister and thereby helped to build up new contacts for us.

I, myself, have undertaken two official visits abroad since I became Minister—to Greece and to Yugoslavia, respectively—and I hope to continue to make such visits from time to time when I am invited to do so. Having regard to the priorities I have set for my Department it will be evident that the purpose of these visits will be to develop political understanding and of course to create the climate for increased trade and other foreign earnings. I should also say that I was happy recently on behalf of the Government to welcome a number of distinguished visitors to Ireland, including the Secretary General of the United Nations and two visiting Heads of State, Presidents Tito of Yugoslavia and Ceausescu of Rumania whom I greeted recently at Shannon Airport.

I should like to mention here too in a particular way one very recent successful visit to Ireland by a foreign Head of State, that of Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark, and the very successful visit to India undertaken recently by our own President. Each of these visits, I believe, did a great deal to build goodwill between Ireland and the country concerned. These are other ways which we avail of to develop our foreign relations and I hope to continue to avail of them as an integral part of the work of my Department.

There are of course limits to how [383] far we can extend our resources in these and other ways. I would like, however, to assure the House that it will be my constant aim as Minister to ensure that the resources voted for our external relations are always well spent and that the work of my Department is directed towards the aims I have outlined: a peaceful settlement of the problems of this island, the benefit and increased prosperity of our people, and the promotion in every way we can of a world of peace, order and justice.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Ryan has an hour-and-a-half——

Mr. R. Ryan: Is that because the Minister took as long as that?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: ——if he wishes to use it.

Mr. R. Ryan: I do not know what might inspire me, but I am sorry to say a great deal of the Minister's speech will not. I should like to apologise at the outset to the Minister and to the House for not being here at 11.30 a.m. The Minister is aware that it was only at a late hour last night I discovered the information I had previously received, to the effect that this Estimate would not be taken today, had been altered and that the proposal not to have it taken today was set aside.

Because of the absolutely chaotic condition of the telephone service I was unable to communicate with some of my colleagues whom I hoped would substitute for me on Radio Éireann this morning, where, because I was free this morning, I had entered into a commitment to appear on the “Here and Now” programme. Therefore, in the very best of foreign affairs way, I had to endeavour to achieve that miracle of bilocation. I was not able to do it at 11.30 a.m. but, as the Minister is aware, I did it at 11.50 a.m. I am only sorry I was not able to keep it up because I would very much like at the moment to be at the opening of the new Fine Gael and European People's Party Headquarters, but duty calls and must be performed.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Everyone else will be there.

[384] Mr. R. Ryan: It would appear that many are celebrating what undoubtedly will be the dawn of a new Ireland and a better Europe with Fine Gael in the lead.

I want to compliment the Minister, before I start doing him any damage, on the range of subjects he covered in his speech. I agree generally with his approach. I should like to underline my support for the statement he made recently in relation to the purpose of having a foreign policy in which he emphasised that one of its principal functions is in the economic area. That is not anything about which one need be defensive or apologetic. As long as one engages in fair trade practices, it is highly desirable to promote one's own economic welfare.

Frankly, I thought the Minister's speech today was unduly defensive. He spent quite an amount of time justifying the existence of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the need for a foreign policy. I do not think there is anyone with a modicum of wisdom who challenges today, or ever challenged, the need for a Department of Foreign Affairs and a foreign policy. I should not like to think it will be the pattern of annual debates on foreign policy that Ministers and their advisers consider it necessary to start with a kind of apologia. Very few other Department do it. I would hope we will not have a repetition of that “introductory justification for my existence” which the Minister contributed to us this morning.

Mr. Briscoe: I do not wish to interrupt the Deputy——

Mr. R. Ryan: If he does not wish to interrupt, I suggest the Deputy should hold his whist. He will have an opportunity of speaking later.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Has Deputy Briscoe a point of order?

Mr. Briscoe: We have not had a debate on the Estimate for the Department of Foreign Affairs since 1974. It is time we were brought up to date on what that policy is.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am sure Deputy Ryan is aware of that.

[385] Mr. Briscoe: That is nearly four years ago.

Mr. R. Ryan: I can get along without the confusing aid of Deputy Briscoe, I suggest he should hold his whist for a while. The Minister was also unduly defensive about Ireland being involved in the creation of a common foreign policy for Europe. That does not require defence. Apparently the Minister assumed it had to be justified and, in rather a weak way at the end, he tagged on: “if you do not accept my argument, you voted for it in 1972 and you are now stuck with it.”

It is to Ireland's advantage to be part of a more effective international voice than to be a mere pipsqueak in an international forum, which is all Ireland would be, I am afraid, were she to speak alone on very serious issues. When we are in the fortunate position of being a partner in a Community of like thinking people, by and large, it is most desirable that we should be a party to the foreign policy of that Community accepting, as the Minister very correctly pointed out, that we have the right, as others have, to take an independent line when we consider our obligations both international and to ourselves require that stance to be taken.

I thought the Minister was defeatist about the Parliament of the European Community. Perhaps he was thinking of the Ministers and indicating that they would not be disposed to allow Parliament additional power. The experìence of history teaches us that democracy, as we know it today, would never have developed if Parliament had not taken powers against the wishes of unwilling executives.

Mr. Quinn: Or Governments.

Mr. R. Ryan: When I speak of executives I mean Governments or the entity which considers itself to be independent of parliamentary control. There may be those who argue that, under the Treaties, the right to extend the power of Parliament lies with the Council of Ministers and not with Parliament. That may be as of now, but I am certainly convinced that, if [386] the Ministers are unwilling to cede extra powers to Parliament, Parliament will be obliged, in the interests of the people of Europe, to exercise power—in other words, to defy the Ministers and to defy the Treaties and see what comes out of that. That has been the invariable practice where democracies have grown, as distinct from countries in which democracies have arisen on the achievement of freedom.

One of the most critical areas where Parliament will have to take a decision in defiance of the Ministers, if Ministers are unwilling to go along with that decision, is in the area of one seat for the Parliament. In the interests of efficient parliamentary democracy and efficient and speedy disposal of the essential business of the European Community, there will have to be one permanent meeting place for the European Parliament and the nonsense and the extravagant cost of whizzing parliamentarians around Europe will have to cease.

Mr. Quinn: Absolutely.

Mr. R. Ryan: There are 198 such people to be whizzed around at the moment. There will be 410 after direct elections. Following the accession of Greece, Spain and Portugal, there will be 516 members in the European Parliament.

What prevents the Parliament meeting in one place? It is the provision in the treaties which allows the Ministers to decide where the seat of Parliament will be. I should like to remind Deputies that under the treaties there is no headquarters as yet for the European Community, which we are trying to convince the world is a permanent institution. Even the Commission have no more than a provisional seat in Brussels. The Parliament have provisional seats in Luxembourg and Strasbourg but some of their most effective work is done in Brussels. The European Investment Bank have no more than a provisional seat in Luxembourg. I had the experience in 1974 and 1975 of travelling on behalf of Ireland, and in 1975 as President of the Council of Finance Ministers, in Arabia. In more than [387] one OPEC state with massive surplus funds I found considerable suspicion of the European Community, a suspicion as to its stability and prospects of survival. If the European Community wants to be taken seriously and to convince the world that it is a permanent institution it will have to stop the nonsense of scattering its decision-making process around the cities of Europe.

I thought the Minister was a little too forgiving of the Soviet Union in respect to the gross state of imbalance in trade between the Soviet Union and Ireland.

Mr. Quinn: Hear, hear.

Mr. R. Ryan: I can understand the Ministers sense of diplomatic nicety, and when Ministers for Foreign Affairs say that some practice is unusual they really mean that it is deplorable and unacceptable. I am prepared to accept that the Minister was indulging in euphemisms when talking in this gentle way. I feel I would be failing in my duty if I did not use the strongest possible language in relation to our existing trade balances with the USSR and some other Comecon countries. For a long time we were under considerable pressure from the Soviet Union to enter into a trade treaty with them, and there were many elements in Ireland who were very hesitant about entering into such an arrangement. Nevertheless we did enter into the arrangement, believing that it could be operated to the mutual advantage of both countries. It is not yet clear that that advantage is flowing in the way in which we are entitled to expect it to flow.

Admittedly, there has been a slight increase during the past year, but that was from an extremely low base. There will have to be a great deal more movement on the part of the Soviet Union towards us and other countries in Western Europe before we can be convinced that they are serious in wishing to expand international trade.

The Minister was weak on the issue of neutrality. He used one of those diplomatic phrases which can mean whatever a person wants it to mean. I [388] believe it is undesirable to give the impression that Ireland is disposed to negotiate for a compromise on its neutrality policy. I do not consider it desirable from Ireland's point of view or from the point of view of international peace that there should be a qualification of Ireland's strong stance on neutrality.

I thought the Minister was evasive on issues affecting the Horn of Africa. I found unacceptable his mere mention of the Belgrade Conference, without passing any comment upon its disgraceful failure.

The Minister was weak on development aid and in his commitment to increase it. I know all the difficulties which Deputies have in obtaining greater resources from the Exchequer, but if the Minister wants Ireland ever to reach what the UN regard as an appropriate contribution towards development aid, that is, .7 per cent of GNP, he will have to make a commitment on behalf of the Government to achieve that target by a certain year.

Mr. O'Kennedy: I am finding it harder all the time to keep my peace, but I will.

Mr. R. Ryan: That is the Minister's nature. I know all the difficulties. I sincerely believe that such a commitment has to be made, and made publicly. It eases the Minister's task and the task of those who believe in development aid. It is not merely a matter of charity. It is a development which can confer considerable benefit upon the donors as well as upon the recipients, and unless the Western world of which we are a part make a much greater contribution they will lose out just as much. If the poor world cannot generate a capacity to purchase more of what we produce in the way of goods and services, we will shrink. It is one of the reasons for such massive unemployment in the comfortable world today. The capacity of the majority of human beings to purchase has declined in real terms during the past five years. The only way in which they can generate an increased capacity to purchase our skills and products is [389] by our transferring to them by grant or loan resources which we have and which at present we are not even investing in ourselves because we have not sufficient confidence that we can-consume the output of our own efforts. We are aware that poor countries cannot consume it either because they have not the means to purchase it.

Mr. O'Kennedy: One would never guess who was Minister for Finance in 1977.

Mr. R. Ryan: I am sorry that the Minister omitted to make any reference to terrorism, one of the most grievous international problems which we have at present. It is a disease which respects no boundaries, no territorial sanctions. It is particularly ominous that terrorism is spreading in the free world. There is very little evidence of it in the communist world.

Mr. Quinn: They have their own form of state terrorism, which is much more efficient.

Mr. R. Ryan: The Deputy is quite right. I am talking at the moment about non-state terrorism. The western world is in real danger from criminally generated terrorism. I believe that the reason it is growing in the western world is that some of it is fermented in the communist world— for instance, East Germany is the base for the organisation of terrorist gangs and the instruction of terrorist tactics. It is growing in the western world because our free society allows the terrorist to abuse the institutions of the free world. There would be small comfort and little opportunity for a private non-state terrorist in a communist country.

One of the most available and frequently used instruments is the media of the free world. The utterances of the terrorist get immediate publication in the media. Those who engage in terrorism do it for personal gain; sometimes they do it out of misguided political motives but quite often they do it simply to satisfy their own ego. If the media of the free world considered this matter seriously, I think they should reflect on their obligation [390] not to allow themselves to be used by the enemies of society. If the utterances of the wrongdoers were to go unheard they might become bored with their own activities.

The western world, of which we are part, will have to put an end to the enemies of free society abusing our institutions. I should not like anyone to think that I am casting any blame on the media. I am not, but I consider that the time has come when all of us must consider the appropriateness of allowing the media to be used by criminals in pursuance of their totally evil and harmful objectives. The whole legal system in the western world is being abused by terrorists. They are using the natural dedication of the western world to human rights and freedom in such a way that they make a mockery of human rights and of our legal processes.

Many excellent international organisations, mostly peopled by volunteers, are concerned about the activities of the state which interfere with or restrict human rights. I have the privilege of being a member of some such organisations, and anything I say now is not by way of criticism of their activities. I make this suggestion. If the organisations that are concerned with human rights are to maintain their credibility they will have to extend their criticisms beyond criticism of the state machine in any country. They will have to be equally vocal in condemnation of any private groups or organisations that endanger human rights. Those organisations in this country and elsewhere that conduct people's court's and administer their own cruel punishments, often inflicting death, need to be condemned as such by the parliamentary expression of opinion and by voluntary societies as sovereign governments who may offend against the principles of human rights. The obligation to respect human rights lies not only on governments—it lies on every individual. An individual who expects human rights for himself has an obligation to ensure the protection of human rights for others and not to infringe on their rights. I hope there will be a new approach by organisations concerned with human rights to consider [391] what steps they should take to reduce the volume of non-state terrorism and violence and the denial of rights that has grown to an alarming extent in the western world in recent times.

There is an obligation on western society to be even-handed in its condemnation of lack of respect for human rights. However, there is a general tendency to identify infringements of fundamental rights on the part of states in the non-communist world and to concentrate on attacks upon them without making any reference whatever to the lack of human rights in the communist sector of the world. Some people who are loud in their condemnation of lack of respect for human rights in the western world with equal vehemence will demand that western governments should increase their trading operations with and their economic aid to countries in the communist world that have no respect for human rights whatever.

If it is argued that I am making an unfair charge I will produce the communiqué from the Belgrade Conference which reviewed the Final Act of Helsinki. It was a weak and miserable document, but it was not due to any lack of conviction or effort by the free world to make it a stronger document in the field of human rights or to any lack of cohesion on the part of the members of the EEC who spoke with one voice with the exception of one French act. The Helsinki document was a miserable and deplorable outcome of months of effort and years of review of the grand commitments made in Helsinki to ensure respect for human rights.

We must assert in our foreign policy, as in our own Parliament, that human rights must be exercised irrespective of territorial sovereignty. It is superior to territorial and political sovereignty. It is a natural and fundamental thing that is the entitlement of every individual. It is regrettable that the outcome of the Belgrade Conference was so tragic.

I should like to pay a compliment to Ambassador O'Sullivan who was our voice at that conference. His [392] opening and closing statements and his work and that of his colleagues for many months is deserving of our highest praise. Correctly and discreetly, he expressed Ireland's view in this area. Some of us had the privilege of attending the Belgrade Conference—including Deputy Quinn. Deputy Reynolds and myself—and every facility was placed at our disposal by Ambassador O'Sullivan and his colleagues. We had the rare distinction of being allowed to sit in at some of the working sessions and we saw some of the hypocritical manoeuvrings by the Soviet delegate and some of his colleagues from the communist areas. If the next conference in Madrid is to be a success, we must be critical of the behaviour of the communist countries. There is a view that those who are suffering in communist dictatorships may suffer even more if the western world maintains its criticism of what is going on.

However, the messages which we receive from individuals, organisations, religious sects and nationalistic minorities is that they want our protests to continue. There is no use in doing it in a general way, not pointing the finger of blame where we know the blame lies. I know that the immediate reaction quite often is negative and the wrongdoer becomes more intransigent. I sometimes worry about South Africa and apartheid. Apartheid is now on the agenda of the United Nations for 26 years. It was tabled about 1952. One sometimes wonders if we are any further on. However, those who suffer from the disgraceful gospel of apartheid say: “Please continue your protest. It is the only way in which we can fight. In a country where colour determines not merely a person's rights to certain services as the State sees it but also very quickly identifies a person's likely political attitudes there are very few weapons available to those who suffer except reliance on those of us in the free world who have the opportunity to speak and to act.

This Parliament ought to send out to the Italian people an expression of sympathy and solidarity with them in relation to all they are going through [393] following the kidnapping of Signor Moro. We may, in a narrow kind of way, think that it is only an Italian problem. Even if it is, Italians are our European partners. We have a great deal in common with Italy, culturally, socially and economically. Even if we had not anything in common with them, they still are our fellow human beings. We have this association with them. Anything that is done to injure democracy or to inflict damage on human rights in Italy hurts all Europe.

The objective of the Red Brigades in Italy is the same objective they have in the other countries in which they operate. We naturally condemn those who have kidnapped Signor Moro, but we must go further. We must express our admiration for the Italian Government, for all walks of life in Italy, for all political groups and social sectors for their unanimous stand against the demands of the kidnappers. I believe some of the kidnapping problems, particularly in relation to air hijackings, are still with us because in the early days in which they began some Governments gave in. We all hope and pray, individually as far as our families and friends are concerned, that none of those terrible acts of terrorism and violence ever afflicts us. Even if they do the only way of defeating terrorism is to show the terrorists that their actions can never bring any benefit to people. No matter what suffering has to be endured, that is the only way it will be brought to an end.

Those involved in terrorist acts are so callous and selfish that they are unlikely to continue their activities if there is no benefit to them in their alleged objectives. One has to stand fast against terrorism of all kinds. I am sure the Minister, although he did not refer to the matter, supports me and our Labour Party friends also support me when I say that this Parliament expresses its sympathy to Signor Moro, his family and friends and expresses also its admiration for and solidarity with the Italian people in their refusal to give in to the blackmail demands of the terrorists.

The Minister referred to Africa, [394] although he did not dwell very long on it. He referred to the position in Rhodesia and Namibia. I am sorry he did not develop his thinking a little more. I know there is a very broadly held view in the western world that there cannot be a settlement in Rhodesia unless the forces which are not a party to the internal settlement become a party to it. It is most desirable that the largest possible number of groups are represented in any settlement. While I am not particularly confident that the internal settlement can work in the present situation, I believe it deserves to be given a chance. I would not close my mind to the possibility of further negotiations, but it is not necessary, in order to achieve peace there that a party to the settlement be somebody who has openly declared that he is not in favour of the democratic system, somebody who wants to establish a one-party Marxist state.

We have seen “Big Brothers”— the United States Government and the British Government—leaning on all parties to the internal settlement in an attempt to bring about a change in it. I am sure the settlement, like all other settlements, can be greatly improved; but I hope there is a more positive approach to the little progress that has been made. There has certainly been a move in the right direction and it would be undesirable that this growth of a better possibility should be ground into the ground by forces outside the country. It is a pity that we have seen recently an outbreak of British chauvinism.

Mr. Quinn: It is a recurring disease.

Mr. R. Ryan: It is, unfortunately. I refer not only to the utterances of Mr. Roy Mason or Mr. Airey Neave but to repeated equally ill-advised, ill-mannered attacks which are made on Ireland by some members of the British Parliament who are members of the European Parliament. Any Irish voice to them in the Parliament sometimes on totally unrelated matters, is like a red rag to a bull. They use the opportunity to deliver some ignorant broadsides against Irish members.

We had a case arising recently on [395] a question of mine urging that the Council of Foreign Ministers, who had achieved agreement on a point of policy in relation to an area of tension, would ensure that their Governments would not supply arms to one side or another in those areas of tension in conflict with the common agreement of the Community. This led to one British member standing up and asking what action would be taken to stop the Republic of Ireland organising the collection of money and arms in the United States and Canada to be deployed in Northern Ireland. The rules of procedure there are like our own and do not always allow an ordinary member insulted in that way to make an effective protest. I do not know if the matter reached the British press. It did not reach ours, and perhaps it is as well it did not. That is only one of almost monthly attacks which are made by British members. The appalling thing is that when you meet them individually you discover they never set foot on this island or, if they did, they came over on a guided mission. They might know what would happen in the Solomon Islands, the Far East or the South Pacific, but they know sweet Fanny Adams about what is happening in this island, even in that part of it which they refer to as an integral part of their United Kingdom. So integral a part of their United Kingdom is it that they do not put senior civil servants there without giving them a special allowance such as is given only to British civil servants when they go abroad to places which are regarded as so distant and unhealthy that they have to receive special compensation for them.

Mr. Quinn: Danger money.

Mr. R. Ryan: I do not want to embark on an outburst of chauvinism, but the facts have to be recorded and I make no apology for doing it. It is high time that we emphasise that we are the only country in Europe that has had to double the size of its army and nearly double the size of its police force in peacetime to deal with troubles that did not arise within our [396] borders but which arose because of the inability—or disinclination—of the British Government to maintain security and fair government in what they declare to be an integral part of their United Kingdom.

Mr. Roy Mason and some of his colleagues allege that wrongdoers in the North can escape across the border, but, as the Minister, the Taoiseach, Deputy Cosgrave, Deputy FitzGerald and others have from time to time pointed out, this is not borne out by any facts which the British themselves produce, and the question arises as to how they can get across that area of Northern Ireland which is contiguous to the border if the Northern Ireland police and the British Army were maintaining effective security there. It should be just as hard for a wrongdoer to escape through that area as it would be for him to escape into the jurisdiction of this country.

We are suffering from the run-up to the British general election and, as has always happened in the history of Britain and Ireland, Ireland is a pawn in British internal politics. We either accept that quietly or we protest against it, but what are the opportunities of protest? We can issue our ex parte statements and they can issue their ex parte statements from Westminster and the media will decide, according to their assessment of the loyalty of their leadership, what they should publish. If this war of words is to continue we will have to consider using the international institutions of which we are members in order to bring the truth home. If the truth hurts others, so be it: they are responsible for the hurt. I share with the Minister, as he knows, our absolute denunciation of all para-military activities and all crimes of violence in the North, whether politically associated or not. Nobody can question the record of any party in this House in that area. The British people will have to take seriously the consequences of their inaction. What has happened in Northern Ireland arose out of their neglect of their obligations in Northern Ireland ever since they set up that state. I agree that it was ill-advised to set it up in the first instance, but now it is a fact of history. The [397] trouble that arose there over the last decade arose out of neglect by the British Government of their obligation to ensure fair government, but on every occasion that their attention was brought to this, either by bilateral representation or an international fallout, their attitude was that it was an internal matter for which Britain alone had responsibility and nobody else was entitled to criticise.

The truth today is that the British are fed up with Northern Ireland, but what are they doing to solve the problem? The wise initiative, if such it can be called, taken this year is the proposal by the Speaker's Conference to increase the number of representatives from Northern Ireland in the Westminster Parliament. That recommendation was made in the knowledge—if they had not the knowledge they were culpably ignorant —that that was totally unacceptable to the minority community in Northern Ireland who have found that they have suffered grievously and still continue to suffer under the administration there. Why was the recommendation made? It is very simple. It was made for the most callous and mean reasons. The British Conservative Party hope to have, if they are in Government, the support of more Unionist members. When I talk about Unionism I am talking about it in the broad sense and not referring to any particular party. On the other hand the British Labour Government are hoping to buy the continuing support of the Unionists until the next general election.

Mr. Quinn: By their silence, not their support.

Mr. R. Ryan: Yes, by their silence, at least in Opposition. Those who are involved in the Speaker's Conference accepting the recommendation are criminally responsible. Having accepted that, they proceed to generate very deliberately a campaign of distrust in the Republic of Ireland. Again, the British have the knowledge, or if they have not, they are culpably ignorant, that the raison d'être for the continuing trouble in Northern Ireland is the distrust by the majority of the [398] minority. We have bent over backwards, and rightly so and if we can bend a little further we should do it, to try to convince everybody on this island of our total abhorrence of and objection to violence. We have spent large sums of money here in trying to stamp it out and I am sure we would make a new commitment and redouble the efforts if we thought we would achieve an end to violence.

We have had a carefully orchestrated campaign on the part of some people in the British Government supported by some people in and out of Parliament building up distrust when they know, or ought to, that the distrust is not justified. It is frustrating and can make one very angry, but one must not yield to either frustration or anger to guide one's thoughts or actions. The Minister and the Government may be assured that there will not be any criticism from this side of the House if they endeavour to bring pressure to bear on the British Government and the British press to be more responsible in relation to the problems of the North of Ireland.

I would not want anybody to think that my words should indicate that I am opposed to consultation and discussions with the British and with parties in Northern Ireland. Far from it. I have no wish to lay blame, even historically, for current matters on anybody in particular, but no real or worth-while discussion can start and no progress towards a solution can be made until the facts are spelled out and acknowledged. If I have laid the blame on anyone, we, all of us, ought to admit that our attitudes in the past have not always been helpful and we did not always quite understand the degree of distrust which exists in the North in relation to the South. We might have felt that it was unfair, that it was not justified, and so on, but often-times by our utterances we did not do sufficient to dispel that distrust when we had an opportunity to do so. However, certainly every effort has been made to correct that over the last ten years. We must persist in that course and avoid asserting that the solution can be found only in an island that is united on lines that we consider [399] to be the most appropriate. What matters first is to generate a confidence that will lead to peace, to good neighbourliness and to working together. In the passage of time I am sure we will see a unified country just as today the dreamers of yesterday have had their dreams realised in a Community that is moving towards a real union of the peoples of Europe.

I am often amused when I meet some colleagues in the House who seem surprised that I am not in Europe, but I have to remind them that we are in Europe all the time. Ireland is in Europe, and when people leave Dublin to go to Brussels or Strasbourg they are moving around Europe. Because we believe in the European dream we support the applications of Greece, Spain and Portugal for membership of the Community. There will be those who will go into their counting houses and count the cost, who will say that we are not receiving enough back from the Community and that before the cake is allowed to be divided among people who are even poorer than us, there should be a bigger cake. I agree that the cake must be enlarged; otherwise, it will not be adequate to feed all those within, but the political objective of extending Europe across the Aegean Sea down to the Iberian Peninsula is so important that we cannot allow any economic or social objective to frustrate its achievement.

The Minister is right in saying that to commit one's self to enlargement without providing the economic and social support necessary to make such enlargement a reality, would not be a genuine commitment. My assessment of the situation is that there is a growing conviction that the resources must be provided to distribute wealth towards the peripheral areas. It is said that West Germany is the reluctant partner in increasing resources. To some extent there is a reluctance on their part that is related to the considerable contribution that West Germany must make to the Community budget, but I should like to emphasise two aspects of the question that are often overlooked. For example, in relation to agricultural policy, there is sometimes the criticism that Ireland developed [400] the begging-bowl attitude and is demanding too much. However, Germany is responsible for two-thirds of the butter mountain and she is responsible, too, for 26 per cent of the beef mountain.

Mr. Quinn: That is so.

Mr. R. Ryan: Therefore, Germany is a beneficiary under the agricultural policy. Indeed, the internal policies of Germany are to give higher prices to the German farmers, so there should not be any sense of guilt or shame on our part in seeking to have an appropriate budget to meet our economic and social needs. Without a considerable rate of growth Ireland will not be able to generate a capacity to consume the goods from Germany or anywhere else. That is why there is mutual benefit involved.

I look forward to the direct elections because in that way we can produce a parliament that will be more like a national parliament where the sense of mutual interest will be clear. Not since the days when the former Deputy Martin Corry was here do we hear the allegations that the people of Dublin are unwilling to pay taxes in order to allow higher grants to be paid in the western areas. We have a sense of common interest, but perhaps I should not be unfair to Mr. Corry. However, the Chair will recall that Mr. Corry seldom stood up here without having a go at the Dublin Jackeens. Generally we do not experience that sense of rivalry or antagonism. We are conscious of our community of interest, and in a directly-elected Parliament we will generate an even greater community of interest than we have experienced in the past.

A directly-elected Parliament will bring also the advantage, as indeed the existing Parliament brings to European affairs, of a consciousness on the part of a considerable number of politically-minded people in Europe that there is a common interest. Sometimes one hears the criticism that it might not be in Ireland's interest to have a directly-elected Parliament because we would have only 15 members in a Parliament of 410 members, that is, before enlargement, and that we would have only the same number in [401] an enlarged parliament of 516 members. That is true. It shows the necessity to send 15 people of the best quality to make the most worth-while contributions on Ireland's behalf. But the history of parliamentary activity has been one of generosity towards the peripheral areas. It has been one of support for a greater regional fund and one of demand for an increased social fund against the comparative meanness, if I might use that word, of the Council of Ministers who, understandably, have their obligations in relation to their own governments and who are aware of the limitations on resources. It is the history of all Parliaments that those without executive responsibility can show a greater disposition to being generous with the taxpayers' money than is the case of those in government. Obviously, it is in our interest to have a directly-elected Parliament with 15 members who can press home Ireland's case. Our case is similar to that of the Mezzogiorno region in Italy and will be very similar to that of the applicant countries.

We look forward with confidence to the directly-elected Parliament, a Parliament in which the needs of our people will be understood readily and which will produce a generous response on the part of Parliament. On a number of occasions the Parliament has added not insignificant amounts to the budgets of regional and social policy as presented to Parliament. I recall only one occasion during my time as a member of the Council of Ministers on which I was offered a glass of whiskey at a council meeting. I understand that some other colleagues were less fortunate, or perhaps more fortunate, depending on one's outlook. Apparently it was not the practice to produce such refreshments until about midnight. I recall only one occasion on which the finance council sat to such a late hour, and that was an occasion when Parliament refused to accept the inadequate agricultural budget to which the Council of Ministers had agreed previously. There was a crisis meeting that continued for much longer than was the practice of the council. In the end Parliament won a [402] considerable amount of what it wanted to achieve. Since joining the European Parliament in December last I have had experience of what happened in relation to the 1978 budget when Parliament defied the Council of Ministers who had sent back the budget for the second occasion, saying “This is the final figure and if you do not agree there will be no budget for 1978.” Parliament was defiant, the allocation was increased and the Council of Ministers accepted it—though I am certain there is a limit to the tolerance of the Council of Ministers. I do not say that in relation to their present disposition but to the ability of their national resources to meet the generous demands, understandably, of Parliament.

We should encourage the recent talk about economic and monetary union. Of course it will be extremely difficult to achieve, but that is not a reason why one would not pursue what is obviously a highly desirable goal. However, it is a goal that will not be achieved until there is a substantial transfer of resources from the better-off members to the poorer members. It was encouraging to hear the German Chancellor coming forward as an advocate of EMU—he was never against it, I must say—taking a real initiative which would have the effect of creating if not a European Snake, what is now called a European Boa —a broader tunnel within which currencies could move but at least an operation that would impose some disciplines. We must never overlook the fact that currency values are not determined by a technical theoretical decision by a national government or by a decision of any international community. If they were so determined, the IMF, which is much older than the EEC, would have been able to prevent the frightful and damaging fluctuations of national currencies in the last few years.

The value of a currency is determined by the underlying economic performance of the economic entities behind the currency, and the value of any European currency or currencies will be determined by the underlying economic well-being of the [403] society which maintains it. Therefore, though it is right to pursue this goal, it would be wrong to think that Europe is not coming together or working together well simply because the ideal of a common currency has not been achieved overnight. It will be a long haul but it is better to have the aim and to take the steps in the right direction than to do what we did in recent traumatic years.

The Minister properly declared disarmament and the control of arms as being a prime objective of his and a desirable objective of all international policy. It is very difficult to achieve, obviously, and a country like this which is not in a position to threaten armed activity against anybody is not in a position to bully any country into reducing its armaments, but I wonder whether any country is in that position. The history of mankind has never demonstrated that by creating terror you can persuade others not to proceed along the lines of increasing armaments. Indeed I suggest it would have the reverse effect.

For some time we have had reason to hope that in the immediate European field of influence there was a reduction of armaments and a tendency not to threaten one's neighbours. We must therefore express concern about and publicly deplore the massive increase in tanks in Eastern Europe. There is not a threat by Western Europe to the East. Indeed the West does not believe in offering a threat to the East. All political institutions and all Governments in the West have committed themselves openly and persistently, not merely in words but in actions, to a policy of detente, a policy of living with the written arrangements that were made after the last world war. Even though many of us in western Europe would have wished otherwise, there has been an acceptance that peace can be maintained only if the arrangements concerned can be respected.

Why then do we see Russia and her allies mustering massive tank forces? I must admit I do not know the answer. Europe, and with it the US, are faced with this dilemma: either we [404] remain defenceless against a possible move against us or equip ourselves to resist a tank armada. There is a danger that that will be what Europe and the United States will do, and that would be a tragedy, a frightful waste of resources, a misapplication of resources which would be far better used by being transferred to the developing world to generate there demands to buy produce, services and food for their people rather than in squandering them on new instruments of destruction. I think there is a far greater sense of fear in us all who were alive in the 1940s after Nagasaki and Hiroshima, a frightful fear that we all could be suddenly annihilated overnight if there was a continuation of world war. But the balloon burst then compared with the amouries that now exist.

We need to spread a conviction among all people that we are on the brink of a holocaust, not for the purpose of encouraging peoples to create more arms or anti-arms but to convince them to step back from this holocaust. There are continuing discussions about control of arms and disarmament, but the trouble is that countries in general are placing their orders on all sides. Let there be no foolishness in this House or elsewhere to suggest this is a one-sided activity. It is not, though on the basis of available information it would appear that the area of immediate concern as far as Europe goes is in regard to the tank forces being built up in eastern Europe.

Therefore, we must work very hard to bring about a realisation that this is absolute folly, that the world cannot afford the waste of resources going into arms and armies, and that the world could be a much better place if the resources now being misapplied everywhere were to be applied towards human improvement. Look at the tragedy of the developing countries in Africa and Asia some of whose hands are out looking for aid from the West but who are spending six or eight times as much money on arms as they get in development aid. Even if the western world were to quadruple its development aids, there are many of them who would be spending more [405] money on arms for what they regard as international security and internal security, though sometimes, unfortunately, internal security is associated with internal depression.

It is not a new problem: it has been with us since man first armed himself not merely to kill animals for food and clothing but also to kill his fellow beings. We are at the point when we need to think very carefully and to stop this suicidal course on which we are embarked.

I said earlier I was glad to hear the Minister talk about the economic importance of his Department and the work it is doing. It would not be unreasonable for people to be suspicious that the Department of Foreign Affairs was engaged in only nice, and sometimes irrelevant diplomacy and was not sufficiently commercially orientated. As far as our foreign service is concerned, I am satisfied it is very commercially orientated: the officers of the Department both at home and abroad have an ambition to make economic conquests on Ireland's behalf, not an ambition directed towards imperialism but rather an ambition to gain opportunities for new areas of export advantage and, indeed, of investment too. It is often said that commerce follows the flag and that has happened with us. All the investments made in recent times in new embassies—I regard embassies as investments—have produced economic advantage.

I know the problems facing a Minister for Foreign Affairs and a Minister for Finance, but I believe we should never hesitate to allocate funds for the establishment of a diplomatic contact in an area which, if properly developed, we can achieve an economic advantage. It may be difficult always to accede to that view in time of economic recession but now, when the generation of jobs in the public sector is regarded as an objective in itself worthy of support, the Minister should insist upon getting this year his quota of the jobs that are going. There are many countries which over the decades took great pride in providing in their foreign services [406] opportunities for employment. Many people of modest means or no means at all went from Britain over the centuries to engage in commercial, industrial and agricultural activities in the far flung parts of the British Empire. Today, there are job opportunities, economic opportunities and investment opportunities open to Ireland in the far-flung parts of the world.

We do not need, and we could not afford them anyway, imperialistic ambitions but we have opportunities which we are not cultivating sufficiently. No matter what we do here over the next 20 years we will not be able to provide full employment for all the people entering the labour market. If we can maintain a sense of involvement in other parts of the world, a constant connection—not merely economic but social too—between certain countries and the Irish diaspora, we shall be quite right to do so. Such a connection would operate to our advantage as well as to the benefit of the host countries and provide very satisfying careers for many Irish boys and girls who would have a sense of pride in what they were doing for their own country and a sense of achievement in what they were doing for other countries.

What is being done by APSO and CTT, the Department and other agencies in this area is to be encouraged and we ought to encourage our young people to think more along these lines. We are not asking anyone to take the emigrant ship in distress. It is a shameful and unreasonable thing that we should ever allow people to take the emigrant ship in distress, but there is nothing shameful or undesirable in encouraging people to seek satisfying remunerative and worth-while employment in other parts of the world. If we do that such people will maintain an immense pride in Ireland, as they invariably do when they go abroad, and by that very pride they will generate more and more activity.

One most encouraging aspect of the involvement of an increasing number of Irish abroad is that when some go out to do a particular task they find the task becomes only a small part of [407] their lives and merely by being on the ground in developing countries, particularly in OPEC countries—not always a benign environment—they learn of opportunities. CTT has had many inquiries arising out of the mere presence of Irish people abroad and this, in turn, has meant opportunities for Irish exporters which would otherwise never have developed. A great deal of this activity has been very closely associated with our embassies abroad and the contacts they have been able to make. In a number of developing countries there is certainly a lack of confidence in the private sector when the private sector appears to be divorced from or not have the active support of the Government. It does not matter whether that is a right or a wrong concept, there is this feeling that there is no security or no guarantee of supply unless there is Government approval or Government respect for the project. Maintenance of involvement, therefore, between our Department of Foreign Affairs and our various State and personal activities is highly desirable because this will generate a confidence in Ireland which otherwise would not exist.

I will now use the Minister's supplied script as my inspiration. I did say earlier some of it was inspiring. It is a very handy reference. I do not want to appear begrudging. One too easily slips into the role of being an opponent for opposition's sake and I would not wish that.

I want to return now to the European Community. I was glad the Minister expressed his criticism, a criticism which we, in the Christian Democratic European People's Party, have also expressed in the European Parliament and elsewhere, about Community structural policies, particularly in the industrial area, which suggest there should be a reduction of capacity and of employment in some areas, such as shipping and steel. We and the Minister have criticised this because they sometimes fail to take account of the needs of peripheral areas. One which I raised recently in the European Parliament was the Irish Steel industry. When we were in Government we had before us [408] the problem of the Irish Steel industry in Cork. There were only two options open. One was to close it down, which we regarded as totally unacceptable, and the other was to modernise it and increase its capacity. But merely to modernise its existing capacity would not have made it a viable proposition and it could not have operated without continuing subsidies.

Therefore, when an island state like Ireland decided, as we did, to modernise and double the size of the Cork plant, it is not good enough that the European Commission should endeavour to put obstacles in the way of that development. There are a number of reasons for it, not only in relation to employment, which we regard as of the greatest importance, but also because an island state needs within itself a heavy industry capacity in order to have within its own shores the capacity to absorb its own scrap. We could not tolerate in any circumstances a situation in which Ireland would be dependent for its steel upon other countries. Anyway, how could anybody justify the lunacy of collected scrap exported for processing abroad and then its reimportation? Therefore, I want to assure everyone that, as far as Fine Gael members of the European Parliament are concerned, we will avail of every forum available to us to press vehemently for full approval by the Commission and the Council of the proposals to expand and modernise the steel industry in Cork.

A similar problem threatens the shipping industry. It appears that there is a strong move to substantially reduce the capacity in Europe for shipbuilding. The case for the reduction in shipping capacity is incontrovertible. Even if world trade was to return to the pre-1973 levels, it is very doubtful if the existing shipbuilding capacity in the world could be justified. There is certainly no sense in countries within Europe or countries internationally, be they Japan, South Korea, United States of America, Europe, Russia or anywhere else, competing against one another by providing massive subsidies for ships to produce a surplus amount of shipping in the world.

[409] Ireland's shipbuilding industry represents an insignificant decimal point in the shipping capacity of Europe. Therefore we could not tolerate any suggestion that there be any reduction in our shipbuilding capacity. As an island people we are entitled to have a shipbuilding capacity. Unless we maintain it in its existing state and improve and modernise it we will be leaving ourselves in an exposed position which would not be justified.

I return now to employment. We need not merely that number of jobs but also that number of skilled jobs which feed other heavy industries or provide Irish industry at all levels, including what we hope may be a substantial developing industry—the oil industry—with the capacity to produce the heavy goods required.

I do not blame the Minister for not dwelling too long on fishery problems, because the longer he dwelt on them the more embarrassed he would be. We are entitled to say that we are very disappointed—and that is using diplomatic nice language—at the handling by the Minister and his colleague, the Minister for Fisheries, of Ireland's fishing industry. We took a strong stand in Government. We were often vehemently abused because we did not take a stronger stand, but we cannot accept as tolerable the surrender by the Minister for Fisheries and the Government of Ireland's negotiating position.

We are now in the extraordinary position that we are hoping that the British, of all people, will do our dirty work, that they may get a bad reputation with our European partners while they are doing Ireland's fighting for her. That is not an accepted position and I do not think it was necessary. I do not think the ploy has convinced Europe that we are nice, generous people and the British alone are difficult. Nobody blames a country for standing up for its essential interest. It is expected and when you do not do it you fail to command continuing respect. We should have insisted on maintaining the lines we took.

There has been an improvement in what the Commission are prepared [410] to offer by way of assistance towards a fishery protection service. I want to raise the Parliamentary flag and point out that this offer of 75 per cent arose because Parliament acknowledged that as far as Ireland was concerned——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I want to point out to the Deputy that he still has eight minutes. If he wishes to come back after questions he will have three minutes.

Mr. R. Ryan: I do not know if that is a warning or a threat.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It is not meant to be a threat.

Mr. R. Ryan: It arises out of your innate courtesy.

Mr. Quinn: Are we restricted to a specific time in this debate?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The opening speakers from parties have one-and-a-half hours, all other speakers one hour, and one-and-a-half hours for the Minister to reply. On opening the Minister has all the time he wishes.

Mr. R. Ryan: I want to conclude on this note. I have a meeting of the European People's Party in Dublin this afternoon. I will not say as somebody said yesterday that they were glad Europe had come to Dublin. I would remind them once again that we were in Europe all the time.

I want to deal with the question of neutrality, about which I thought the Minister was somewhat weak. Ireland has no need to apologise about her natural position. It was made perfectly clear before we joined the European Community that Ireland was a neutral country. Fianna Fáil were in Government at that time but I do not think they made that as clear as they should have done. In 1972 those of us who were in the Council of Europe—in the early part of 1973 we were in the European Parliament— emphasised the neutral stand of Ireland and what I believe is the commitment of the Irish people to maintain that neutral stance. In reply it was said, and this attitude has never [411] been changed and we should never allow it to be changed, that membership of the European Community did not involve military obligations. That position must be maintained not merely out of obligation towards us because we trusted those who made that declaration, but if Europe is to be the grand Europe that we hope for some day—if we do not see it at least our children will—it must be a Europe which will incorporate Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Austria. There may be those who consider such a dream too remote to be achieved. We have only about 22 years to go before we reach the year 2000. Extraordinary things have happened in this century alone. Those who dreamed of the Europe we see and in which we are working today were regarded as impractical dreamers when they first revealed what they hoped might be achieved. They have achieved it, warts and all, its imperfections and limitations. Nevertheless this is a real achievement which I believe will last.

If we want to develop a real Europe as our culture, as our influence, as our people know Europe, then it must extend not merely to the countries I listed on the western side of Europe but also to some central and eastern states. That looks very difficult to achieve today, particularly as we have a huge tank armada on the eastern side, but when you look at history you should remember this lesson: we often times go to the brink before we make progress. If you do not have hopes you will stagnate, and Europe cannot afford to stand still either within its own boundaries or within the boundaries of the Europe of 12 when that happy event comes about. It may be a long time before we achieve a political and economic involvement of all the other countries I mentioned, but we are trying to develop increasing commercial, industrial and cultural contacts with them and we have to a large extent succeeded in doing so.

I thank the Minister for his contribution and for setting forth many lines of thought which I considered admirable. I criticised the limitations but, not having the immediate burden of [412] diplomacy on my shoulders as he has, I might have filled in some of the things he might have said and I will be looking forward to hearing from him in his reply that I spoke on the lines he would not disagree with.

Debate adjourned.