Dáil Éireann - Volume 350 - 29 May, 1984

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - US Immigration Laws.

1. Mr. Begley asked the Taoiseach if he will discuss with President Reagan the possibility of relaxing immigration laws for Irish citizens.

The Taoiseach: The Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me, nor is it the practice, to disclose publicly details of all matters to be discussed with visiting heads of State or Government. In my discussions with President Reagan I will, of course, cover in the mormal way matters of mutual interest to our two countries.

Mr. Begley: Can the Taoiseach tell the House what is the present quota of Irish citizens who can go into America legally and take up permanent employment?

The Taoiseach: I do not think that arises directly. I am not sure that I could give the Deputy the details. The number of immigration visas issued over the past four years has been of the order of 600.

Mr. Begley: Is the Taoiseach aware that many suitably qualified people would like to go to America and take up [2214] permanent employment and they are unable to do so?

The Taoiseach: I am aware that that is probably the case.

Mr. Molloy: Does the Taoiseach recall having made a statement when he was in the United States recently that he would like to see the quota increased? Can he state to what quota he was referring?

The Taoiseach: The immigration quota.

Mr. Molloy: Deputy Begley asked a question to which the Taoiseach failed to give an answer. He asked what is the quota. Surely there is no such thing as any quota.

An Ceann Comhairle: That seems to be a separate question.

The Taoiseach: That is why I did not answer Deputy Begley's question in that form. There is a number issued which is static at around 600 rather than a specific national quota. The fact is that the numbers involved are around 600 each year, de facto.

Mr. Molloy: To what quota was the Taoiseach referring at his press conference in New York?

The Taoiseach: I do not recall using that phraseology. If I did, it would have been an inaccurate way of describing it in the strict legal sense. I am concerned with the limitations which exist on the number of Irish people going there, because there would be value in a somewhat larger number of Irish people being allowed to go, many of whom could gain experience which they could bring back to this country.

Mr. Molloy: Would the Taoiseach like me to send him the cutting from the newspaper to refresh his memory on his statement?

The Taoiseach: I am always glad to have my memory refreshed. Let us be [2215] quite clear on the position. I am concerned that it would be desirable that the number of Irish citizens who are able to go on immigrant visas to the United States should be somewhat larger than has been the case. They could gain experience which would be useful to us in many cases when they came back subsequently.

Mr. Molloy: Is this Government policy to deal with unemployment? There is no answer to that.

Mr. Molloy: Deputy O'Kennedy wanted training courses in the subject.

Mr. Haughey: If the Taoiseach is a bit confused about what exactly he will say to the President in regard to emigration, could I ask him to make sure there is no doubt about two issues which I am sure he will discuss with the President.

An Ceann Comhairle: This is a specific question.

Mr. Haughey: I am asking a specific supplementary.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will not allow a question——

Mr. Haughey: You do not know what question I am about to ask.

An Ceann Comhairle: You have made it pretty clear that it is not about the question in Deputy Begley's name.

Mr. Haughey: You do not know what question I am about to ask.

Mr. Molloy: The Chair is oversensitive.

Mr. Haughey: Listen to my question and rule it out of order if it is not in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has already told me that it is——

Mr. Haughey: I did not.

[2216] An Ceann Comhairle: Indirectly the Deputy told me. I will regard the Deputy as being disorderly if he puts a question which I have already ruled is out of order.

Mr. Haughey: If my question is disorderly you can order me out of the House and I will go willingly.

An Ceann Comhairle: It would be disorderly if it did not arise out of the question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Haughey: It arises clearly from the question on the Order Paper.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Haughey started off by saying if the Taoiseach is uncertain about so-and-so will he make sure about two other things. That is the way the Deputy started.

Mr. Haughey: I will withdraw those remarks and begin again.

The Taoiseach: Make a fresh start. It is never too late.

An Ceann Comhairle: That was a clear indication to the Chair——

Mr. Haughey: I will withdraw that preamble and relate my remarks directly to the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy may put a supplementary question arising out of this question, but if it does not arise out of this question it will not be in order.

Mr. Haughey: And you will be very cross with me. Will the Taoiseach make certain that, in the course of the discussions referred to in Question No. 1, he asks President Reagan when he is addressing the House on Monday next to give a clear commitment to his acceptance of the report of the New Ireland Forum and particularly to the conclusion in paragraph 5.7?

An Ceann Comhairle: That is clearly out of order. It is a separate question and I am ruling it out of order because of that.

[2217] (Interruptions.)