Dáil Éireann - Volume 356 - 20 February, 1985

Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Bill, 1985: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mrs. Glenn: Last night I referred to Deputy McGahon and the harassment to which he had been subjected and I said that the chairman of his constituency was responsible. I have been informed since then that it was not the chairman but other party activists at constituency level who were responsible, and I would like that correction to be recorded.

I made a plea also that the Minister would indicate whether he intends to introduce legislation relating to the 1979 Act that would give the women of Ireland the protection they need against the risks inherent in the pills and devices they are using already. I hope that we will not hear anything further from those Deputies who claim to be concerned about the wellbeing of women and their demands for a fully comprehensive Bill, unless they are prepared to seek the safety of the women whom they are inviting to use these devices. The Bill now before the House provides access to contraception by law for single people and will be the [243] most revolutionary measure on the social plane since independence. No matter what age limit is provided it will mark a break with the ethos of almost the entire known history of this country. It will have the doubtful distinction of being the first legislation since the penal days to be enacted in this land that is contrary to the law of God. The section in the Bill which is causing me most concern is that which provides for the sale of contraceptives, spermicides and sheaths to persons over the age of 18 years. One may ask if this is a redefinition of the family. If it is not, then it has nothing to do with the family and should not hide behind that term. It should be called by its proper name, a condoms availability amendment or legislation for moral decline, because those terms would more accurately describe what is inherent in this amendment. If the proposal is not for the family, then the purpose must be to prevent pregnancy from acts of adultery and fornication, and one must ask why any Government should want to do that.

On the claim made about demand for condoms and the legitimisation of it because of the number of condoms supposed to be imported into this country each year — one source has said 50 million and another 30 million — our total population is about four million. Being generous and allowing that half of those people would be involved in the use of condoms, the mind boggles at what is suggested here. I do not accept that we are hearing the truth in this. I ask the Minister if he can produce in this House the VAT or excise returns on those imports. I believe that a gross of condoms are bought wholesale for £12.83 and sold retail for £27.84. There is big money being made there somewhere, and if the quantities indicated are being imported, that would be worth investigating so that we might know who is making all this money and whether the people concerned are paying their due taxes on the profits.

This Bill which purports to make contraceptives available to people over 18 cannot be policed. We cannot police the [244] alcohol laws in that regard. Only this morning I had a letter from a concerned mother in County Kildare who is a publican and she writes that to suggest that anyone could police the proposed legislation is a nonsense. I had a letter from another mother outlining the difficulty of determining the age of young girls. She tells me that she has four daughters, that one who is 20 looks like a 13 year old while another who is 13 looks like a 20 year old and has a problem in defending her right to travel at half fare on buses. How, then, does the Minister propose to police that aspect of the legislation?

It is known that the family planning clinics are using slot machines for the provision of condoms. A slot machine does not ask questions. One merely inserts the amount of money required and the goods are provided. Another aspect that Deputy Tunney pointed out is that even if young males of 18 years would be in a position to obtain contraceptives on a legitimate basis, the likelihood is that their partners would be younger. Thereforce it would be impossible to police such legislation.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the making available of these devices has a very damaging effect on the health of young people and on the nation in general. In this respect I should make the House aware of the concern of many doctors though we know there are some, such as the Doctor Rynnes and the Doctor Leahys. Doctor Rynne in an interview with John Bowman on 7 February said publicly that he had no intention of keeping this law. He is Chairman of the Irish Family Planning Association. He said he intended to break the law because it was his opinion that these devices should be made available without any reference to an age limit, but here we are invited to change a law which is supposed to be a bad law while some people are claiming that the proposed law will be equally disregarded. Members of the medical profession say they are extremely concerned at recent proposals to make contraceptives freely available [245] by law to young single people. They continue, and I quote from a letter, dated 23 October 1984, from that body.

It is our understanding that a majority of people in the State oppose such measures. (I.M.S. Poll August 1984).

We would regard the implementaction of these proposals as injurious to the physical and mental health of our youth with all its attendant social implications. If these proposals become law the inevitable consequences will be increased promiscuity, with an upsurge in venereal diseases (syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes and chlamydia) and carcinoma of the cervix as experienced in this and other countries. The accepted high failure rate of contraceptives when used by teenagers must lead to increased teenage pregnancies and abortion.

We would like to emphasise that the setting up of an age limit for contraceptive practice is devoid of any scientific or sociological basis.

Furthermore legalising something which is productive of so much proven pathological and sociological sequelae is to us both reprehensible and horrific.

The letter is signed by 17 doctors, each of whom is expert in this field. To disregard that kind of advice is to fly in the face of reason. Many others, too, have commented on what has happened everywhere that free availability of contraceptives has been introduced. I do not know how many Deputies here had the opportunity of seeing a film last week on ITV in which was portrayed the level of depravity to which the young people of England have sunk. Little girls of nine and ten are being used in some instances for all kinds of obscenities. All of this is contingent on the free for all kind of society that has emanated from allowing these kinds of contraceptive devices to be made available where they cannot be policed.

It is interesting to note that where we here are working overtime to introduce problems that others are trying to rid themselves of, a Catholic MP, Mr. William Cash, Conservative MP for Stafford, [246] tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons drawing attention to the link between the issues of the Warnock Report, Mrs. Gillick's case and AIDS. He called on Mr. Norman Fowler and Mr. Kenneth Clark to promote a campaign through the Health Education Council warning of the danger to health in the current trends of sexual promiscuity. Mr. Cash said that the prime justification for the Warnock proposals is to cure infertility, but he asked how many people realise that infertility often is the direct consequence of abortion or sexual disease and that abortion, sexual diseases and cancer are surely the consequence of widespread and early sexual promiscuity, often before the age of 16. Mr. Cash went on to say that in every case of abortion in an unmarried mother there is a significant risk of subsequent infertility and, where it is accompanied by sexual disease, the risk of AIDS or one of the other sexually transmitted diseases. He said it is now established that AIDS can be transmitted between heterosexuals as well as between homosexuals and that doctors fear we may be in the incubation period of a massive outbreak of AIDS for which there is only a limited chance of survival. Mr. Cash said that the Royal College of Nursing predicted recently a potential one million cases of AIDS within the next six years. He stressed that the problem is urgent, not exclusively on moral grounds, but also on social and ethical grounds and on the basis of common sense.

Despite the concern expressed by so many as to what people in Northern Ireland think of us, is it not ludicrous for us to be heading down the road that people in other places are trying to move away from? Much has been said about our young people, about their right to make decisions for themselves and if they so wish to become involved in sexual activity. It is important to draw the attention of the House to the result of the National Youth Policy Committee in which is outlined the results of a survey the committee conducted among young people between 15 and 20. When asked the question, “whose view do you take most cognisance of”. 88 per cent answered that [247] they heeded their parents most, 63 per cent indicated that they paid most attention to their clergy, while only 18 per cent said they took heed of what their politicians said. In reply to a further question, “who do you think understands you best”, 84 per cent said their parents understood them best, 64 per cent their pastors and a mere 13 per cent their elected representatives. That is very significant. Here we have a Bill which is totally at variance with the wishes of the parents and their children. We have the audacity to presume that we know better than they what is good for them.

Dr. Verling, venereologist for the Eastern Health Board, says that the VD clinics at the moment cannot cope with their pressure of work. They are seeing 360 cases per week and are totally understaffed. If all this extra activity takes place, who will look after the people who will become infected, particularly at the time when the Minister for Health has had to remove their medical cards from the very young people to whom he now wishes to give condoms? That is another problem to be confronted. If they do become diseased, will they have the money to have themselves seen to? I doubt it very much, with the present degree of unemployment and the rising university fees.

We have heard much about the effects on Northern Ireland of all that is going on here and have been advised that while they have had access to contraceptives they have not been turned into a very permissive society. There is an interesting letter to the editor in The Irish Times of 15 February last from Father Denis Faul. He must have heard the claims that were being made about how little Northern Ireland had been affected. Nobody in this country doubts the sincerity and genuine commitment of this priest, both as a peacemaker and a concerned pastor. His letter states:

In your editorial of February 8th you state that “no one claims that in matters of sexual mores, they (the people of the North) have become debauched [248] or depraved”. I do claim it and have repeatedly claimed it.

Debauchery and depravity are relative terms. What is debauchery and depravity to a Carmelite nun may not be debauchery and depravity to the staff of The Irish Times. But all can recognise a steady decline in sexual morals expressed in corruption of the young and the breakdown of marriage; the graph of decline grows steeper over the decades until the hollow globe of a society without values cracks and breaks into chaos and barbarism.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Glenn, I do not want to interrupt you but it would appear that you are quoting from some document. If you have not already given the reference——

Mrs. Glenn: This is a letter to the editor of The Irish Times from Father Denis Faul, published on 15 February.

An Ceann Comhairle: Thanks very much, Deputy.

Mrs. Glenn: I think that it is important that I read it to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Yes, Deputy. I am only getting the reference.

Mrs. Glenn: It is important that it be on the record of this House for those who will look back on what has been said in this debate. This man deserves to be mentioned. His letter continues:

Many factors contribute to this; violence and discrimination in society may be powerful forces in wrecking normal decent life. So too can divorce and abortion in lessening respect for sacred and irreplaceable values. Contraception is one such force. Prescinding from the fact the teaching authority of the Catholic Church forbids it, one can study its social effects, and the people of the Republic must ask: do they want these items with their corrupting effect and the enormous expense of dealing with the consequences of disease and [249] mental breakdown and the care of parentless children?

In the North there are children of 12 and 13 years of age using contraceptives because they are available; the truth of the extent of the corruption is buried in the records of hospitals, doctors' surgeries, priests' and ministers' ears and lawyers' offices. One notes a rapidly increasing decline since 1979-1980, not only in practice but in the lack of respect for areas of life and conduct formerly held sacred. The media, especially TV and videos, have played a part in this.

Things may well be as bad in the South. But, remember, the situation never reaches rock bottom while we do not think wrong. We may do wrong because we are all weak creatures of passion. But when the wrongdoing becomes rightdoing because it is sanctified into State legislation at the taxpayers' expense, that is the penultimate corruption (the ultimate is when churchmen approve of contraception, abortion, divorce, etc).

Thirty years ago an old priest of great learning and holiness, who served 65 years in the diocese of Armagh, said to me: “If the Irish ever lose the Faith, it will be through the corruption of their sexual morals”. It is sad to watch his words coming true.

I think that says all that has to be said about the effects of this liberal attitude to making contraceptives available to young people.

I am opposing this legislation on social, health and financial grounds. I do not know if the Minister and his Department took the trouble, before presenting this Bill, to carry out any kind of investigation as to the effects upon the health of our young people and the social effects with single parent families and the heartbreak of young people destroying themselves with disease before they have a chance to get a start in life at all.

Furthermore, who will pay for this? That is the question that the Minister for Health must answer in this House. He knows that he has had to make dramatic [250] cuts in the services for which he is already responsible. Everybody knows that the health boards are under such pressure that they are having to close down wards and send people home who should be kept in hospital — I could go on about this. This is all because the finance is not there to keep paying the bill. Has the Minister done any cost analysis on the contraceptive services which have been made available to the health boards over the past two years? What is that costing the taxpayer?

In Britain at the moment the contraceptive services are costing the taxpayer £67 million per annum. They have a population of roughly 58 million to 59 million, so one can immediately see that we are into an area here which needs to be examined. We must be told where the money is supposed to come from. Frankly, I cannot see the PAYE taxpayers being willing to put their hands in their pockets to pay for what Deputy De Rossa believes to be a right of people over 18 years of age and younger. I doubt very much that they will be prepared to do that. We all know that they are overburdened at the moment.

I now address myself to the sources from whence I believe this great demand for making these contraceptives available is coming. It is certainly not coming from the people in this House. It is not coming from the parents of the children, the people who elected us. The only one who has put constant pressure on the House to introduce this legislation is the Minister for Health. I would be inclined to believe that the Minister really wants this and considers it to be a necessary service, if he were not associated with an organisation which has a vested interest in promoting it. I do not know if anybody in this House knows very much about that same organisation. It was founded by a woman, named Margaret Sanger who was a Margaret Higgins of Irish immigrant parent extraction — who was born in New York in 1879. She rejected the judo-christian tradition of morality and family life. She said that the marriage bed is the most depraving influence in the [251] social order and she advocated sexual freedom for all, provided procreation was avoided. So strongly did she feel that women have the right to decide on all these things that she was the first to openly advocate the right for abortion. In her Credo for Women's Rights, 1914 she included the right to be an unmarried mother, the right to create and the right to destroy. Writing a little later she claimed that no one could doubt that abortion is justifiable. Her greatest hatred was directed towards the millions of poor who should never have been born according to her, and whose very existence threatened the well being of society and its more intelligent and better endowed members. The most merciful thing a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it, she wrote in “Women and the New Race.” Her greatest wrath was reserved for the Catholic Church, which she said encouraged the reckless breeding habits of slum-dwellers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Would the Deputy give the reference for that?

Mrs. Glenn: It is from a magazine called Regnum. This article is by Dr. Bernard Nathanson.

An Ceann Comhairle: Is there a date on the publication?

Mrs. Glenn: She was one of the people responsible for encouraging Hitler to launch on his master race theory and all that that involved. In a House of Lords debate opposing the family planning association, Mr. Patrick Cosgrave, a Dublin man who was an adviser to Mrs. Thatcher at the time——

An Ceann Comhairle: I do not want to appear to be interrupting Deputy Glenn, but would she please, before she starts to quote, give the source of the quotation?

Mrs. Glenn: This is the Hansard report of the House of Lords.

[252] An Ceann Comhairle: And the date, please?

Mrs. Glenn: The date is 14 January, 1976. Mr. Patrick Cosgrave, describing this organisation, said that it was one of the most savagely damaging lobbies a society has ever had to confront. The Irish Family Planning Organisation became a full member of International Planned Parenthood, which was the organisation set up by Mrs. Sanger in 1975. The annual general meeting of this organisation here was held in Clare in 1977. I am concerned that our Minister for Health should be a member of an organisation with that sort of background. It is the only identifiable source putting pressure on this House to introduce a Bill which will have disastrous effects for our young people. This organisation have had disastrous effects wherever they have gone. They are anti-life, anti-love and anti-family. They have no tolerance of purity, chastity or honesty. They consider those virtues to be old that and not to be bothered with.

Some of the items that make up the programme for the Irish Family Planning Organisation are quoted in a document called Response which is published by Concerned Parents. Their Headquarters are in Great Britain and they now have a wing in Dublin. They say that the Family Planning Organisation agree that every non-Governmental organisation should not use the absence of law or the existence of an unfavourable law as an excuse for inaction, action outside the law and violation of the law as part of the process of stimulating change. We all know that both the Minister, the Chairman of the Family Planning Organisation, Dr. Rynne and Dr. Leahy, also a member of that organisation, have abided by that diktat. In order to bring about the situation in which we are now they saw fit to break the law. Can anybody honestly suggest that they believe in introducing a Bill that has very little chance of being policed? An organisation with that kind of background and attitude could not be trusted to police it or to care whether or not young people got condoms. They [253] have already told us that they do not intend to keep this law, so why are we trying to change one bad law for another? I would be grateful for an answer to that question.

I appeal to my colleagues to see this for what it is. It is not being done in the interests of the young people and I will not be convinced that it is. I ask my colleagues to listen to the people who elected them and reject this Bill.

I now turn to the tyranny that exists in this House at the moment relating to the voting procedure on this matter. I have already put it to the Taoiseach at our Parliamentary Party meeting that he allow us a free vote. I know that that is asking a lot since Deputy Haughey, the Leader of the Opposition, might not be prepared to allow a free vote. I am asking Deputy Haughey, as a reasonable man, to be big enough to allow his party to vote in accordance with their consciences. I know that there are some Fianna Fáil Members who hold an opposite view to me but they should be allowed to vote in accordance with their consciences. Deputy Haughey would be doing the Irish nation a great favour if they could preserve some kind of maturity in this House. I would live with the result of this vote if I thought it was a genuine reflection of the views of the elected representatives. However, the way things are shaping up now I am not convinced that that is what we will end up with. I make a plea to the Taoiseach, and the Leader of the Opposition, to come together between now and the time scheduled for the division this evening and decide not to impose on the Irish people a piece of legislation they do not want. If at the end of the day after people have been allowed to express their honestly held views, they come up with an answer they think best for our people, I believe it would be accepted; but our people will not have much respect for the House if we go through this charade that is being played out. I appeal to the two people concerned to get together and bring forward a decision that will reflect the genuine concern of Members.

[254] An Ceann Comhairle: Before the Chair calls on the next speaker he would like to remind the House that the House made an order this morning, without dissent, under which the Minister for Health must be called at 8.10 p.m. this evening to conclude and under which the debate must conclude at 8.30 p.m. Since the proceedings began this morning approximately 25 Members have intimated to the Chair their wish to contribute to the debate. It is obvious that many of those speakers, quite a number of whom may have special reasons for wanting to contribute, will not get an opportunity of doing so. I should like to ask Members to bear that in mind and, if possible, to decide on the length of their contributions accordingly.

Mr. N. Treacy: I am opposed to the Bill because I think it is unnecessary. It has been pulled from the bottom drawer at a time when the Government are experiencing serious difficulties with the economy vis-à-vis their performance as administrators. There was no plan to introduce the Bill. It has come like a bolt out of the blue. Its introduction smells of sinister motives. When the Fine Gael and Labour parties went before the electorate part of their hurried plan of conception was that there would be a review of the 1979 Act but, as yet, we have not heard of any review of that Act. The Bill before us proposes to make contraceptive devices available to single teenagers. It is incumbent on the person charged with the responsibility in this area, the Minister for Health, to make us aware of any review conducted by him or his Department.

I should like to refer to the responsibility of the Minister under the 1979 Act. According to that Act the Minister shall:

(a) secure the orderly organisation of family planning services, and (b) provide a comprehensive natural family planning service, that is to say a comprehensive service for the provision of information, instruction, advice and consultation in relation to [255] methods of family planning that do not involve the use of contraceptives.

Will the Minister illustrate the efforts he has made since he took office to promote natural family planning methods as is incumbent on him? Will he tell the House the amount of money he has made available to the organisations involved in promoting natural family planning? It is my view that he has shunned his responsibility in this regard and made very little money available to them. I understand that he did not make any money available in 1984.

Minister for Health (Mr. B. Desmond): That is not correct. I made three times more money available than the Deputy's Minister made available in his time. I also gave money to the Irish Family Planning Association. The Deputy should not make incorrect statements.

Mr. N. Treacy: The Minister will have an opportunity to give the House the figures when he replies tonight. I did not interrupt the Minister when he spoke.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister, and the Deputy, should address the Chair. Deputy Treacy is in possession.

Mr. B. Desmond: My apologies but I will have only 20 minutes to reply and I will not allow incorrect statements to go unanswered.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair appreciates that but, notwithstanding that, it will not be possible to conduct the debate on the basis that the Minister will intervene every time a Member says something that the Minister does not agree with. Deputy Treacy should be allowed to proceed without interruption.

Mr. B. Desmond: The Deputy should check the official record.

Mr. N. Treacy: It can be proved conclusively that some organisations promoting natural family planning did not receive money in 1984.

[256] Mr. B. Desmond: That is not correct and the Deputy knows it.

Mr. N. Treacy: It has been stated already.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister will have to withdraw the words “and the Deputy knows it”.

Mr. B. Desmond: I delete the words “and the Deputy knows it”. I will forgive the Deputy's ignorance.

Mr. N. Treacy: I resent that remark. The Minister's speech contained nothing more than a plethora of unsubstantiated figures and statistics that do not have any basis and were totally erroneous as far as the presentation of the Bill is concerned. It is irresponsible of the Minister to foist them on Members without presenting official documentation and reports to substantiate his case. The Minister said the changes were limited to two matters, but I disagree with that. He ignored the concept of the family unit and instead proposes to make contraceptives available to 18 year old single persons. His proposal is that they be made available without the necessity to obtain a prescription from a doctor or through an agent or servant making available a family planning service. They represent three new departures.

On a number of occasions the Minister referred to the provision of a comprehensive family planning service for those who require it. He said that the Irish Medical Association sought this measure. Did the IMA request that contraceptives be made available for single teenagers or bona fide couples? I presumed that changes requested would have involved those needing family planning. I cannot visualise single teenagers needing such services. The Minister has told us that when he took office he initiated a detailed review of the operation of the 1979 Act. He said that the review showed conclusively that 30 million condoms had been imported between 1980 and 1985 and they were sold in only a quarter of our chemist shops. Will the Minister break [257] that figure down? Was he referring to packages or were the figures exaggerated to suit the promotion of the Bill?

Mr. B. Desmond: The figure is closer to 40 million. I have excluded those imported in luggage. The data is available from importers.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not direct questions at the Minister because that encourages answers.

Mr. N. Treacy: We have had many vague generalisations but the report referred to has not been placed in the Dáil Library. Why? Because it did not contain suitable ammunition for the promotion of this Bill. If the system of both availability and distribution fails, does that justify a revision of the law? This is a ridiculous Bill.

As a result of the Minister's private departmental review he was convinced, and then convinced the Government, that these changes were necessary. Of course, this was part of the hurried conception of this callous Coalition, part of whose pre-Government plan was to bring about this liberalised, permissive, pluralist legislation supposedly for the common good and for the promotion of advanced socialist thinking — some socialist reformers whose hearts bleed continuously for the less well off sectors of our community. Throughout his speech and in the Bill itself the Minister consistently casts a slur on medical doctors. All doctors are not willing or are in a position to provide a full family planning service. Why? What justification has the Minister for a statement like that? Surely in modern times all professional people need to update information and to seek retraining? Surely a statement such as that is an admission that the Minister, as Minister for Health, failed in his duty to provide ample opportunity for medical practitioners to update their skills and expand the store of information needed in modern times? I believe that professional people, whether they be legal, educational, medical or otherwise, must discharge their duties in a proper ethical [258] manner and, if the law or laws place a further onus on them or on this discharge of their duties, then so be it. This discharge of duties surely is the price paid for the professional privileges the ordinary person expects and for which they pay ultimately at all times.

The proposals of this Bill are in conflict with some of our existing laws, in particular with section 2 of the Criminal (Amendment) Act, 1935, which forbids unlawful carnal knowledge of a female under 17 and which shows clearly the age of consent to be 17 and over. How does the Minister reconcile these legal constraints with his proposals to make contraceptive devices available ad lib to all and sundry? As a result of the passage of this Bill the availability of condoms will make consent totally impractical, irrelevant and will lead to many more difficulties for young people. Under the Indecent Advertising Act, 1889, the advertising of VD clinics and many other advertisements are banned. If the widespread ad lib sale of condoms has been illegal before the passage of this Bill, how can the advertisement of these devices in magazines and newspapers produced, printed and published in this country be legal? Where is the influence of the Advertising Standards Commission? What has the Minister done to discharge his legal duties as the Minister responsible for health in this area?

The Minister has used many statistics, as have many people promoting this Bill, over the last few weeks and days. I should like now to refer to some statistics. On 12 February an opinion poll in this country disclosed that 41 per cent of people were in favour of the free availability of contraceptives. But there has been no mention whatsoever of the remaining 59 per cent who were satisfied with the law as it stands. It appears to me that it is felt that 41 per cent of the people should be legislated for and that their opinion should be taken as that which suits the majority. An IMS poll taken in December 1983, and another in August 1984, showed clearly that 62 per cent of our people were satisfied with our present [259] laws on contraception. That proves conclusively that the majority of our people are satisfied with the law as it stands and vindicates the 59 per cent still satisfied on 12 February 1985. Therefore this Bill is unnecessary.

In countries where there is free availability of contraceptive devices there are numerous medical and human problems encountered. These are the effects of the liberalised availability of these devices. For example, in Denmark 41 per cent of pregnancies end in abortion. In the United Kingdom up to 20 per cent of all babies born are illegitimate. Again in the United Kingdom there are more people attending venereal disease clinics than there are women attending ante-natal clinics and the cost of these services to the British Exchequer is enormous. I should like to quote what it has cost our health services in 1984. A reply given to a parliamentary question I addressed to the Minister himself on 11 December last showed that the total cost of the health services in this country last year was £2,231.68 million. If we are to pass this Bill we must ask what escalation of costs will there be as a result of the difficulties that will be encountered by so many people, particularly the young? In a disintegrating economy in a small country we cannot afford such costs. Therefore it is totally unrealistic and impractical to impose the provisions of this Bill on our people, and particularly our youth, at this time.

The provisions of this Bill will lead to pressure for divorce as a result of marital breakdown. This has been proven conclusively. I should like to quote now from a statistical abstract from the United States Department of Commerce in 1978 which showed that in 1910 in the US there were 83,000 divorces against 948,000 marriages. In 1950 there were 385,000 divorces against 1,667,000 marriages. In 1977 there were 1,090,000 divorces against 2,176,000 marriages; the ratio was approximately 50 per cent in 1977 and still rising — that in a country which has free availability of contraceptives. This is [260] what is being proposed under the provisons of this Bill. Major efforts are being made now by the Reagan administration to control the situation in America. A special committee has been established there recently to endeavour to curtail and control the availability of contraceptives, bringing about natural stability to the people of the United States.

I should like to quote also from a letter in The Irish Press of 15 February 1985 — an 18 year old girl from County Cavan writing in that paper. She had this to say:

As an 18 year old girl and a member of the age group that is supposed to be demanding contraceptives I wish to state that I do not want contraceptives nor do any of my friends. I wish the Government would put more time and resources into straightening out the financial and job situations in this country instead of trying to damage our lives, our health and our welfare.

I represent a constituency in the west where that is the theme of young people.

We have given much time to this Bill over the past week. At a time when there are close on 250,000 people out of work, when drugs and their attendant problems are rampant throughout the country, I believe the Minister would be better employed devoting more time to trying to alleviate the drugs situation, directing his efforts and those of his colleagues in Government to endeavour to alleviate the misery of so many young people desperately and despairingly seeking jobs.

I said earlier that I believed there were sinister motives behind this Bill. Other speakers have referred to the fact that in The Irish Press of 17 April 1984 the Minister for Health admitted to membership of the Irish Family Planning Association which is the Irish arm of the International Planned Parenthood Feberation, the world's foremost promoter and provider of abortion as a legitimate form of family planning. In this Bill the Minister proposes to create an opportunity for family planning clinics and services not within the ambit or control of the Department of Health to make available [261] and to sell contraceptive devices. Last year the Minister opened an illegal family planning clinic in his own constituency——

Mr. B. Desmond: On a point of order, in view of the limited time I have to reply and because of the repeated innuendoes made by some Members, may I ask Deputies not to repeat the outrageous slander that I opened an illegal family planning clinic?

An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry, Minister, that is not a point of order.

Mr. B. Desmond: I will not tolerate gutter allegations against me by any Deputy.

Mr. N. Treacy: I made a statement of fact.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: There is a rule that, if one Deputy makes a charge against another and that charge is denied, that denial should be accepted.

Mr. Power: The charge was made by the previous speaker also.

Mr. B. Desmond: It was equally incorrect when he made it.

Mr. Power: When you lie down with dogs you must expect to get up with fleas.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order, please. There is a long standing rule and it is a precedent going back many years that, if a charge is made against a Deputy by another Deputy and that charge is denied or disclaimed, that disclaimer should be accepted.

Mr. N. Treacy: Very well. The Minister said that consent was given to open this family planning service in his own constituency. If that is so and if the Minister issued a document, licence or certificate so that this service could be made available, then I accept that situation. [262] However, I am not satisfied with the law as it stands which permits that situation, and that is the point I wish to be made. How can we prove conclusively that contraceptives will not be sold to people under 18 years of age? That is the whole weakness in the Bill: if we make contraceptives available in a system which is not under the direct control of the Department of Health, medical doctors and pharmaceutical chemists, professionally trained people whose duty it is to be involved in this area, we are opening the floodgates whereby these family planning clinics will becomes the agents for abortion and to make it available. We are changing our whole stance vis-à-vis the direction in which this country should be going.

This legislation is ill timed and unnecessary. It has been proven conclusively that the majority of the people are not in favour of it. I reject this Bill because it will increase the rate of marital breakdown, the incidence of veneral disease and illegitimacy and, above all, it will have a detrimental effect on the sexual behaviour of young single people who would not be concerned with or need family planning. That is why I oppose the Bill and I appeal to my colleagues on all sides of the House who have expressed reservations about it to reject it in the interests of the common good.

Mr. D. Andrews: Could you give me any idea, Sir, where I stand on the list of speakers? Is there any indication that I might get in again? Of course, my views are well known on this subject but I thought I should like——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair was given a list by your party Whip and your name does not figure on it.

Mr. D. Andrews: I should like to make it clear that I did give my name——

An Ceann Comhairle: I appeal to you not to involve the Chair in party matters.

Miss Harney: Is my name on the list?

[263] An Ceann Comhairle: I will not be calling Deputy Harney for a very long time.

Mr. D. Andrews: With respect, will you be calling me at all?

An Ceann Comhairle: I do not think so.

Mr. D. Andrews: I am most grateful to you. I will deal with this elsewhere.

Mr. McCreevy: Is my name on the list?

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair should really not be involved in these matters. The debate would have to be extended for a considerable time before the Chair would have an opportunity of calling Deputy McCreevy.

Mr. McCreevy: I appreciate what you said, but I should like to make it known that I tried to speak on this Bill——

An Ceann Comhairle: I will not tolerate the Deputy making a speech. I am calling Deputy Barnes.

Mrs. Barnes: I shall endeavour to be as brief as possible because I should like to hear contributions from Members of Fianna Fáil which might be more enlightened and civilised than the speech to which I have just listened.

I have been present for most of the debate so far and I commend the Minister's speech in introducing the Bill when he said:

Above all we in this male dominated House must show particular concern about the impact of our laws on all women.

Later in his speech he quoted remarks made by Deputy Eileen Desmond on the 1979 Act as follows:

We are still a very parternalistic society. We think that adults must have their minds made up for them and their morals decided for them on a matter like this. We decide that the personal [264] decisions of women, the people who are most concerned should be disregarded.

In 1985, having the honour and privilege to be part of this Chamber — a doubtful honour at times considering what I have had to listen to — I realise that nothing has changed for women inside this Chamber but a lot has changed for women outside, thank God.

There have been repeated allegations made here that there is no demand for family planning clinics, advice, education and access to contraceptives. I do not want to take up the time of the House by quoting and giving statistics, but in view of some of the figures given by Deputy Treacy I will give the results of a survey carried out by Irish Market Surveys Limited. They prepared a document for the Health Education Bureau entitled Public Attitudes Towards Family Planning. The date is March 1984 and I quote from page 27 paragraph 5.1:

5.1 Satisfaction with the Present Laws relating to the Sale of Contraceptives.

Over twice as many Irish adults are dissatisfied with the present legal situation regarding the sale of contraceptives, as are satisfied with the status quo. Just over one-quarter of the total adult population have no firm view on the current legal situation.

On page 31 it states:

5.4 Preceived Government Role in the Provision of Family Planning Clinics.

There is overwhelming approval of the idea of the Government setting up family planning clinics, amongst the 18-50 year old population represented in the survey. Fully nine out of every ten respondents were in favour of the notion of the Government setting up specific family planning clinics as part of Health Board Clinics throughout the country. Only 4 per cent opposed the idea, while a residual 7 per cent had no clear opinion one way or the other.

[265] 5.5 Age Constraints on the Availability of Contraceptives. At this point in the questionnaire, alternative propositions were put to people as to whether:

Contraceptives should be available to people over a certain age, whether they are married or single, or alternatively.

whether contraceptives should be available to married people only.

Respondents were asked which view came closest to their own. Seven out of ten people identified themselves in favour of the general availability of contraceptives, with an age constraint. One-quarter of the total sample favoured the concept of contraceptives being available only to married couples.

Yet we are told in the House there is no demand for them. It has also been alleged that this is a Machiavellian attempt by the Minister for Health, out of some weird and malicious motivation, or of the Labour Party to foist this on the innocent and sinless people of Fine Gael who want no part of it. At the Fine Gael Ard Fheis year after year large majorities called for an amendment of the Act. In 1984 they deplored — that was the spirit of the motion — the fact that it had not been amended. Two of the executive levels within Fine Gael, the national council and national executive, have endorsed, in one case with the large majority and in the other unanimously, what the Government are doing — and yet we are told there is no demand for it.

Deputy Treacy accused the Minister of not providing money or facilities for doctors to be brought up to date on family planning. For years doctors have had an opportunity to update their training on family planning but surveys have shown that not only did many doctors not want to update their training but that they did not want to participate in initial training because their consciences would not allow them to do so. The fact that Deputy Treacy should go so far as to attribute the free availability of contraceptives to the rise in divorce figures in America and [266] elsewhere verges on the ridiculous when the social factors are so complex and significant in other areas. From the many submissions the Committee on Marriage Breakdown have received from people in holy Ireland — I am glad Deputy Flynn is here because he spoke with great compassion about them — it will be realised that there are other factors leading to divorce and marriage breakdown other than the availability of contraceptives.

I am moved by the concern shown by Deputy Treacy with regard to indecent advertising and the terrible fear that contraceptive devices, God save us all, might actually appear in magazines when I think of the exploitation, indecency and obscenity of advertising with regard to women's bodies.

Miss Harney: Hear, hear.

Mrs. Barnes: It is all part of the hypocrisy we witness any time we talk about sexual matters in this Chamber.

We can no longer escape from reality. People who look for their civil rights, particularly women, often have to repair to the High Court, Supreme Court or European Court. The McGee case recognised the right of couples to have access to contraceptives and to exercise their conscience on that. It took us years to catch up with the position. An inadequate Bill was brought in to try to please all the people all the time. It was a laugh and a farce, not only here but internationally. In the meantime the social realities caught up with us without our having the honesty or compassion to do anything about them. There are unmarried mothers. I will not take up the time of the House reminding Deputies how some of them and their babies have been treated. When introducing the Bill the Minister said:

A study of 100 unmarried mothers who delivered their babies in St. James Hospital——

They were lucky: they actually delivered them in a hospital.

——in 1980 found that while 64 per [267] cent were having sex on a regular basis only 18 per cent regularly used any form of contraceptives.

The Minister then went on to say, honestly and logically, that it was not the use of contraceptives and the influence of sex education which brought about this situation but rather “...I submit, the virtual absence of both”.

We have grave social problems and we have sexual problems. We have the same urges as every other human being regardless of where they are born or brought up, but we also have an incredible cloak of hypocrisy and repression which does not allow us to develop fully or take personal responsibility for our sexuality. Until that is changed we will still continue to have problems and pain and will ignore what we do to women and children in society. This debate has shown that we have not grown up one whit since the last painful debate we had involving sexuality.

What we see in the Bill is a concentration on 18 year olds and on teenagers who indulge in sex at 13, 14 and 15 years. On the other hand, we hold we are an upright, moral and religious country. It has even been suggested by some speakers here that we have something that is spiritually uplifting and morally right, that could be a torch and a candle in pagan Europe.

If our moral integrity is such, if parent and pastoral guidance is listened to by 84 per cent and 64 per cent of people as Deputy Glenn stated was the case according to a recent poll, how can we as adults and parents stand up in this House and indict our whole young population as a crowed of Gadarene swine throwing themselves off the cliffs of sexuality into depravity and venereal disease? It does not tie up. However, it shows we do not really trust our religious values to hold, we do not trust parents to pass on the right standards and the children to listen to and to uphold them. It shows we do not believe we should give the right to adults of 18 years to choose and make their own responsible decisions. That is [268] one of the most serious points of the debate.

All anyone can do, be they pastor, parent or teacher, is to imbue in young people the right set of values and morals and give them the space to develop and to make in maturity their own choices and decisions based on those values. From what we have heard consistently in this Chamber it seems we do not believe we have done a good job and we do not believe our young people have moral values. In this Bill we are dealing with only one form of contraceptives, namely, condoms.

What are we saying to our young people? I will tell the House what I am hearing from them. They are insulted, they feel totally misunderstood and, even more, they reject the politicians in this House. In the survey Deputy Glenn mentioned this morning, it was stated that only 13 per cent of young people would turn to a politician for advice. I will make two points on that. Even fewer young people will turn to a politician for any advice because we are so out of touch with the young. I have heard trotted out by elderly, mostly male, politicians that because even the 13 per cent of young people did not ask them for condoms or contraceptives there was no demand for them. These politicians tell us that if there was such a demand they would know about it.

This Bill is an attempt to bring more legality to a situation and to an Act that should never have been introduced in the way it was introduced. In this country we have a tendency to break the law rather than to make the law. We go ahead with the attitude “nudge, nudge” and “wink, wink”, with the late hours drinking without inquiring fully regarding the age of young people who are drinking. We have a totally ambivalent attitude to the law. We do not mind if it is broken so long as it does not make waves, as long as it does not threaten our seats or lose us votes. We are the legislators, and we have had the honour and privilege of the electorate putting us here to make sure that laws are made and are kept. We have an entire Opposition on the opposite side [269] whose leader said last July on a radio programme that he fully recognised that there were grave discrepancies in the law, that it needed amending because it had not implemented what it set out to do. This has affected many couples, particularly women. The existing legislation never did what it was supposed to do, namely, to give contraceptive advice, to ensure availability and education, as well as medical treatment and scanning for people who needed it. It appalls me that rural TDs whose areas are the most affected by this deprivation and discrimination are the very people who stand up here and say there is no demand for contraceptives.

To add to further disillusionment, depression and disappointment regarding this small measure but which represents a significant marker for all of us, we had to consider the attitude of a politician who spoke bravely and seriously in 1979 on the Family Planning Bill at that time. He is not only a politician but he is also a doctor. People argue that all family planning should still be left in the hands of doctors. That Deputy has already said that contraception is a human right, that the Act discriminates against women and was a Mickey Mouse measure so far as youth were concerned. Yet, as far as I know that doctor and that politician is going to vote against this Bill, although I wish he would do otherwise.

We worry about our young people and we wring our hands about the slippery slope they will be on so far as sexual matters are concerned, but by our example we undermine not only their sense of values regarding sexual mores but we also undermine in a much more terrifying way their trust and belief in the democratic system and in legislators bringing in laws for the common good. Probably we will pay a very high price for that.

This is a small Bill, but we have to make one of the most important decisions we have ever made. There is a bottom line, and those of us who have worked hard to get into this House and who are committed to reforming legislation had better think about it. If this small, much needed and not very radical measure is [270] not passed by this House I and other politicians will have to wonder what we are doing with our time and with the money of the nation in being in a Chamber where we claim to be legislators but where the hierarchy outside make decisions about legislation. That hierarchy does not include, and has no intention of ever including, the full participation or decision-making of women, yet in remarkably strong terms it makes grave moral decisions and gives directions on behalf of women. I repeat, I respect the right of bishops and spokespeople for any Church to speak out on behalf of their beliefs but I expect legislators in this House to take their role and responsibility seriously, to realise that there are boundaries beyond which we cannot go.

Unless this Bill is upheld and passed many politicians in this House will wonder if this is the bottom line, whether democracy can go hang, whether elections mean nothing because the voting and the legislative reform or non-reform comes from another body in another House. It is serious, and I rely on the fact that legislators in this House appreciate the role and responsibility they have been given and they will not sell out on them. If they do so they will have sold out not alone on our present but on the future of the famous youth we are so concerned about.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy O'Malley.

Mr. Flynn: Excuse me, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. The Ceann Comhairle had indicated to me that I would be the next speaker. Is there a new order? I am not trying to deny anyone the right to contribute in the House, but could you indicate if you are working from a list?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am not working from a list. The Ceann Comhairle indicated either Deputy O'Malley or Deputy Flynn, and you will be called in due course.

[271] Mr. Flynn: The Ceann Comhairle indicated to the House that he had a list in front of him from which he was working.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I called Deputy O'Malley and I will call you in due course, Deputy Flynn.

Mr. Flynn: I understand your calling Deputy O'Malley, but I had asked the Ceann Comhairle and he had indicated to me that I was the next speaker on at least the Fianna Fáil list. Would you please verify that that is the case and I will be quite happy?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I cannot verify it.

Mr. Flynn: He had the list in front of him because he referred to it and to several Deputies on it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair has the right, as Deputy Flynn will appreciate, to call the next speaker. As the Ceann Comhairle departed he indicated to me that I could call either Deputy O'Malley or Deputy Flynn. I have indicated Deputy O'Malley and I will call Deputy Flynn in due course, and I ask him to accept the ruling of the Chair. I am not compelling the right, I am indicating the position.

Mr. Flynn: Before you took the Chair several Deputies in the House asked for an indication from the Ceann Comhairle as to their order in the list. He had a list in front of him and he consulted it. All I am asking is whether I am next on the list. Yes or no?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: As the Ceann Comhairle left the Chair he indicated to me that I could call either Deputy O'Malley or Deputy Flynn and I have indicated that I am calling Deputy O'Malley.

Mr. Flynn: May I take it that you will call me next?

[272] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Yes, that is correct.

Mr. Flynn: I wanted you to say it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: You will be next on your side of the House. When Deputy O'Malley concludes it will go the Government side and then come back to you.

Mr. Flynn: Are you taking it, then, that Deputy O'Malley is speaking on the Fianna Fáil side of the House?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am acting according to normal procedure.

Mr. O'Malley: In the circumstances I should express my thanks to you, Sir, for calling me, because I see many of my colleagues around the House who are anxious to speak and are not allowed to speak because of this innovation of the list which is apparently handed to the Chair. I notice that those of a certain point of view are far down on this list, and I congratulate Deputy Flynn on his good fortune on being on the top of it, which, I am sure, is sheer coincidence.

One must approach this debate from two aspects. The first is that of the Bill itself and what it contains, provides and will do or not do vis-á-vis existing law and practice. Secondly, one must approach it in the overall context in which the general debate has taken place not just in the House ten days or so since this Bill was published. I emphasise the fact that I regard the second of those situations as by far the more important, because that is the kernel of where the decision must be made in regard to this Bill. The Bill was never very important but it has largely become irrelevant now because issues much greater have raised their heads in relation to far deeper matters than the mere availability of condoms to 18 year olds and over.

I listened to Deputy Noel Treacy speaking this morning. Much of what he said was similar to what quite a number of other Deputies who have spoken in this debate have said, that they have [273] taken the view that as things stand the availability of contraceptives, particularly condoms, in this country is only very limited and that this Bill will change the whole situation radically, that we stand at the crossroads, we are going down the slippery slope to degeneracy and all the rest of it. Do some Deputies and people outside the House think that because the law says something, therefore that is the way things are?

What are the facts in relation to condoms, which are the type of contraceptive that seems to be most generally discussed in this debate? In the last four years 30 million of them were imported here and they are being used at the moment at the rate of nine million a year with no legal supervision whatever because the 1979 Act is not now being enforced. Not alone are they distributed, on the face of it, not in accordance with the present law, from family planning clinics, they are distributed from places that do not claim in any way to be family planning clinics. I instance the ordinary shops in UCD and TCD and probably UCC, UCG, Limerick and so on. I do not know the situation there but I inquired about it in UCD and TCD and in each case there in an ordinary grocery shop a large stock of contraceptives is available for anybody who wants them. Nobody is asked whether he or she is married or what age he or she is. Many of the students in UCD are under 18, they are 16 and 17. It is open to anyone in those circumstances to buy anything he wants without let or hindrance.

That is the present situation. Is it opening the floodgates to try to regularise that? I do not think so, but a feature of our national hypocrisy is that if the law on the Statute Book says that things should be one way, it does not matter if things on the ground are different. As long as the law looks all right we cod ourselves into thinking that something that we do not approve of is not happening. Would it not be more sensible to be realistic and look at what is going on around us and realise that, no matter how strongly we might be opposed in principle or in conscience to contraceptives, we [274] would be better to have a law that will be enforced rather than the present situation?

The enforcement of the law is important to the background of this Bill, and I have certain suspicions about it. A case was heard in Dún Laoghaire District Court on 18 September 1984 and was reported in The Irish Times of 19 September 1984. A prosecution was brought by the Garda against a family planning clinic in Dún Laoghaire. The clinic was represented by Mr. Adrian Hardiman, B. L., who made the point early in the case that the two gardaí who had come into the clinic and who apparently had purchased contraceptives without a medical prescription did not have the authorisation of the Minister for Health which, in accordance with section 96 of the Health Act, 1947, should be given, with the consent of the Minister for Justice. That was argued between the defendants' barrister and the State's barrister. The district justice concluded that the point was valid and that under the 1947 Act, which is the enforcing part of the 1979 Family Planning Act, that authorisation was necessary, and since it had not been shown to be provided, the case was dismissed. So far as I know there was no appeal. I am entitled to ask the Minister for Health why he did not give the authorisation or why, if it was overlooked in error, it was not given the following week to enable the same or some other gardaí to visit the premises if they considered that necessary. Was this an interference with the due process of the enforcement of the existing law?

It seems to me strange that none of the various bodies who are so vocal about the evils of condoms did not apply to the High Court for an order of mandamus against the Minister to compel him to authorise officers to visit these clinics. Instead they were allowed to continue to operate widely and openly. They probably served a good purpose up to a point in the present situation, but I have one strong reservation. If the Bill is put through Second Stage I should like to see it amended to take account of this point, that is, that the clinics would be supervised [275] very strenuously from the point of view of trying to ensure in so far as possible — and the law is often semi-powerless in these matters — that these clinics are not used as referral agencies for abortion, for encouraging or facilitating in any way the sending of girls to England for abortions. The figures in respect of Irish girls who had abortions in Britain in 1983 are horrific. More than 3,700 gave Irish addresses and we do not know how many thousands more travelled to Britain for that purpose but did not give Irish addresses for fear that they would not be facilitated or for some other reason. This is the most horrendous aspect of this whole area. That is why I am calling for some provision to ensure that there is no such facility. I consider abortion to be so horrific as to bear no comparison whatever with what we are talking about now, which in that context is of minor importance.

It puts in perspective the whole question of what we are debating today to realise that at present the availability of contraceptives is probably far wider and less supervised than will be the case if the Bill is passed. For that reason I find it very difficult in conscience to put forward any opposition to the Bill. Deputies who would reflect on that aspect, which is undeniable, might see it in that way, too.

I do not wish to say any more about the details of the matter. They are not of great importance. I wish to move on to something that is more important. There are certain fundamental matters which far transcend the details of this Bill and which are of grave importance to democracy on this island. I cannot ignore the principle that is involved.

Difficulties have arisen since the publication of the Bill. In the past ten days or so the most extraordinary and unprecedented extra-parliamentary pressure has been brought to bear on many Members of the House. This is not merely ordinary lobbying. It is far more significant. I regret to have to say that it borders at times almost on the sinister. We have witnessed the public and the private agonies of so many Members of [276] the House who are being asked not to make decisions on this Bill in their own calm and collected judgment but to make them as a result of emotional and at times overwhelming moral pressure. This must constrain their freedom in certain respects.

Article 6 of the Constitution provides that:

1. All powers of Government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.

2. These powers of government are exercisable only by and on the authority of the organs of State established by this Constitution.

The essence of this debate is whether this House agrees with that Article and whether it is prepared to stand firm on it. Article 6 is not often quoted because its provisions are taken for granted, but it cannot be taken for granted today because we must declare whether the people are sovereign.

In many respects this debate can be regarded as a sort of watershed in Irish politics. It will have a considerable influence on the whole political institutional, democratic future, not just of these Twenty-six counties but of the whole island. We must approach the subject very seriously and bearing that in mind. It is right to ask ourselves now what would be the reaction and the effect of this Bill being defeated this evening. I am not interested in the reaction or the effect so far as contraception is concerned because that is no longer relevant. If the Bill is defeated there are two elements on this island who will rejoice to high heaven. They are the Unionists in Northern Ireland and the extremist Roman Catholics in the Republic.

Mr. Manning: Hear, hear.

Mr. O'Malley: They are a curious alliance, but they are bound together by the [277] vested interest each of them has in the perpetuation of partition. Neither wishes to know the other. Their wish is to keep this island divided. Most of us here realise that the imposition of partition on this island was a grevious wrong, but its deliberate continuation is equally a grevious wrong. No one who wishes that this island, this race and this nation be united again should try to have that division copper fastened. It does not matter what any of us might like to say to ourselves about what might be the effects of the availability of condoms or anything else, what really matters and what will matter in ten, 20 or 30 years' time is whether the elected representatives of the Irish people decided they wished to underwrite, at least mentally, the concept of partition.

Most of us in the House fervently want to see a 32-county republic on this island. I am not as optimistic as I used to be about that — I think the day is further away than it might otherwise be because of the events of the last ten or 15 years. I am certain of one thing in relation to partition: we will never see a 32-county republic on this island until first of all we have here a 26-county republic in the part we have jurisdiction over today which is really a republic, practising real republican traditions. Otherwise, we can forget about the possibility of ever succeeding in persuading our fellow Irishmen in the North to join us.

“Republican” is perhaps the most abused word in Ireland today. In practice what does it mean? The newspapers do not have to explain it because there is an immediate preconceived notion of what it is. It consists principally of anglophobia. Mentally, at least, it is an aggressive attitude towards those who do not agree with our views on what the future of this island should be. It consists of turning a blind eye to violence, seeing no immorality, often, in the most awful violence, seeing immorality only in one area, the area with which this Bill deals. Often it is displayed by letting off steam in the 15 minutes before closing time with some rousing ballad that makes one vaguely feel good and gets one clapped [278] on the back by people who are stupid enough to think that sort of flag waving is the way to make progress in this island — to go back into your own trenches rather than try to reach out to people whom we need to reach.

One of the most distressing aspects of this debate, inside and outside the House, particularly outside, has been the lack of trust in young people. Young people can hardly be blamed if they look at this House and its Members with a certain cynicism, because they see here a certain hypocrisy. I have had plenty of experience of young people and plenty of experience of many Members of this House, and if I were to place my trust anywhere today, before God I would place it in the young people. I would not abuse them or defame them, by implication at least, in the way in which they have been defamed as people who are incapable of making any kind of sound judgment unless it is legislated for them. Even the exercise of their own private consciences must be something that must be legislated for. I have said before that I cannot accept that concept, though I have seen a reverend bishop saying that we can legislate for private morality. I beg to take issue with him.

Technically, of course, he is right. I can think of at least two countries in the world where private morality is legislated for. One is Iran and the other is Pakistan. Private morality is enforced by public flogging every day in Teheran and other cities in Iran. It takes place in Pakistan where they are having an election in three weeks and where every political party has been dissolved except the Government party. One aspect of enforcement of private morality in these countries is the stoning to death of adultresses. I do not know what happens to adulterers, but adultresses get stoned to death.

In a democratic republic people should not think in terms of having laws other than those that allow citizens to make their own free choice in so far as these private matters are concerned. That is what I believe a republic should do. It should take account of the reasonable [279] views of all groups, including all minorities, because if we do not take into account the rights of minorities here, can we complain if they are not taken into account in the other part of this island, or anywhere else? The rights of minorities are not taken into account in Iran; the Bahai are murdered at the rate of dozens a week because they will not subscribe to the diktat of Islam. I do not say that will happen here but it is the kind of slippery slope we are on.

The tragedy is that so far as morality, public or private, is concerned the only aspect of it that agitates us is sexual morality or things that have to do with it. Could any other issue get things so worked up here as something like this? Do we not need to remind ourselves that God gave Moses nine other Commandments and the other nine are numbered one through five and seven through ten, as the Americans say.

This kind of issue has arisen many times in history and in many other countries. One of the places in which it was best tackled and described was in a speech made in the University of Notre Dame in Indiana on 13 September 1984 by the New York Governor, Mario M. Cuomo. It was entitled “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor's Perspective” I will give a few brief quotations from an account of it contained in a magazine called America, dated 29 September 1984, published by Jesuits in the United States and Canada. The magazine comments:

Gov. Mario M. Cuomo's speech at the University of Notre Dame is an American Catholic classic. It deserves the widest possible distribution and the deepest possible study.

That speech dealt in depth with all these issues and made it very clear where the duty of a Catholic legislator lies. I should like to quote the entire speech but it is 7,000 words long. I will give two brief quotations:

[280] The Catholic public official lives the political truth most Catholics through most of American history have accepted and insisted on: the truth that to assure our freedom we must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which for us would be sinful.

The preservation of this freedom, the Governor argues, must be “a pervasive and dominant concern” in the complex interplay of forces and considerations that go into the making of our laws and policies.

Let me quote the end of his speech where he expresses an aspect of Roman Catholicism that we do not often hear in this country. It is, nonetheless, I am sure, as much part of the doctrine of the universal Church as any of the things that are said here. He finishes by saying:

Catholics must practice the teachings of Christ...not just by trying to make laws for others to live by, but by living the laws already written for us by God.

We can be fully Catholic; clearly, proudly, totally at ease with ourselves, a people in the world, transforming it, a light to this nation. Appealing to the best in our people, not the worst. Persuading not coercing. Leading people to truth by love and still, all the while, respecting and enjoying our unique pluralistic democracy. And we can do it even as politicians.

That is the end of the quotation and the end of his speech. The comment immediately following it by Father Charles M. Whelan, SJ, Professor in Fordham University and associate editor of this magazine, is:

Governor Cuomo richly deserved the standing ovation he received at the end of his speech. It was a magnificent address, a milestone in the history of the American Church.

[281] If he were to deliver that address in this country in the last ten days, I know the answer he would get, from most of the public pronouncements which have been made. I believe that the truth lies in the kind of attitude that that man takes and in the way that he recognises how any Roman Catholic legislator or governor must operate in a pluralist society. Does the House notice the way he talks proudly about pluralism? It is a bad word here. You are supposed to be ashamed of wanting to see a pluralist society in this country. You are supposed not to want that, but to want one which is dominated by one form of thinking only. There are Unionists in the North who want the same. While both of us are that way, we can assure ourselves that never the twain shall meet.

We had last year the Forum report and a tremendous amount was put into it by many Members of this House over an 11 month period of sustained work. It contains a certain spirit of reconciliation, of openness, a recognition of what needs to be done to show the people in Northern Ireland that they need not fear here for what they call their civil and religious liberties. If this House acts in a particular way this evening, can you ever persuade those people now other than that the Forum report means nothing, that it was a bag of wind, or a lot of words? Is the spirit of it as well as apparently, at times, the letter of it to be cast aside?

I am concerned not just about the Unionists in Northern Ireland. I am concerned also about the position in the context of this debate of the Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland, and I know something about them. I married one of them 20 years ago on this very day, 20 February 1965, and I know a lot of them. I cannot accept, going on the statements that were so freely made inside and outside this House, that in any country or jurisdiction where there was availability of contraceptives on the lines suggested in this Bill the people would immediately become degenerate. They are not degenerate in Northern Ireland and they have had for very many years [282] full access to any form of contraception they wanted at any time and at any age, in any marital condition.

It was interesting to read in last Saturday's Irish Times an article by Ed Moloney on how in April 1974 Paddy Devlin, who was then the Minister for Health and Social Services in the power-sharing Executive, extended the then situation where there was free availability of contraceptives to anyone who went to a clinic, a doctor, a chemist and so on and paid for them. He brought them in on the national health services. They were free to everyone irrespective of age. There was no lower age limit, no marital condition. It was introduced in April 1974 and a press release was put out. As the article makes clear, there were two responses. One was a letter from Fr. Denis Faul who wrote to Paddy Devlin saying he did not agree with this and the other was from the Catholic Young Men's Society who also wrote to him saying they did not agree with it. Not one other word was spoken in Northern Ireland at that time in relation to something which is way beyond anything which is proposed here. Why is it that if something is all right in County Armagh, half of that is an abomination in County Louth? Is that logical, or is there some deeper explanation for it?

I think that there must be some deeper explanation for it, because it is not logical. Why should the suggested standards for individual Roman Catholics be so different a few miles apart? I cannot follow it. As an indication of the fact that the statements made about the appalling effect of what is suggested here are wrong — or, indeed, what is the present position here, because that is actually worse than what is suggested in the Bill — there is the living proof of the strength of Northern Ireland's Catholics to stand up for themselves and make their own decisions and not to be regarded as people who were so weak that they need public legislation in order to keep them from sin.

I mentioned Paddy Devlin there and we should ask ourselves in this House now: “How do I think the SDLP feel [283] about this debate? What does it make of their position?”. They are acutely embarrassed about what is happening. They do not, as a matter of policy, make public statements about events that are politically controversial in the South because they have always tried to keep an even hand in this respect, and I respect them for that. They are acutely embarrassed at what is happening and they know that all they put into the Forum and their belief in it is made a mockery of by the context of this scenario that we are in today.

Now, if this Bill is passed it will, like another Bill fought here in this House for months on end, as I forecast at that time, be very rapidly forgotten. That Bill is probably unknown to most Members of this House. The debate went on, day after day, for four months in the early part of 1971. It was the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill and there was a seven hour speech against it by Deputy Conor Cruise O'Brien who forecast the most woeful events happening in Ireland if the Bill were passed. On the last day of the last Stage, on the last line, I said in the Seanad, on 21 August 1971 “In 12 months this Bill will never be talked about.” That is true, and equally if this Bill passes it will never be talked about, because it will not come up to the present situation on the ground in this country.

However, if it does not pass the consequences of it could go on for decades. I took the opportunity over the last weekend to read some of the chapters in J. H. Whyte's book on Church and State in Modern Ireland. To read, perhaps in full for the first time myself, the whole mother and child controversy of 1951, as it was called, is unbelievable. It is incredible that Members of this House and of the Government of the day could be as cravan and supine as they were, as we look back on them now. It shows how much the atmosphere has changed. Then one has to ask oneself “Has the atmosphere changed?”. Because when the chips are down is it going to be any different?

It was interesting to read the so-called mother and child scheme. There were ten provisions for women in it relating to [284] ante-natal and post-natal care and care of the children when they were born. One of the provisions was for free dental treatment for pregnant women. The most tremendous objection was taken to that at that time. I recall only a couple of weeks ago, the Minister for Finance reading that out here in the budget speech and there was a howl of laughter all round the House. How could anyone seriously object to something like that? How could anyone seriously object to anything in it, as one looks back on it now? Look at the effect it has had on this island. We have to bear in mind that this is 1985, and whatever excuses one could make for people in 1951, those excuses are not valid today for us.

This whole matter affects me personally and politically. I have thought about it and agonised about it. Quite a number of Deputies have been subjected to a particular type of pressure, but I am possibly unique in that I have been subjected to two enormous pressures, the more general type and a particular political one. They are both like flood tides — neither of them is easy to resist and it is probably more than twice as hard to resist the two of them. But it comes down to certain fundamentals. One has to take into account everything that has been said but one must also act in accordance with one's conscience, not on contraceptives, which is irrelevant now, but on the bigger and deeper issues that I have talked about today.

I cannot avoid acting, in my present situation, where I do not have the protection of the Whip, other than in the way I feel, giving some practical recognition at least to the kind of pressures and the entreaties of my friends for my own good, which I greatly appreciate.

I will conclude by quoting from a letter in The Irish Times of 16 February, signed by Fr. Dominic Johnson OSB, a monk of Glenstal Abbey where he says

With respect to Mr. O'Malley, he might reflect with profit on the life of St. Thomas More, who put his conscience before politics and lost his life for doing so.

[285] The politics of this would be very easy. The politics would be, to be one of the lads, the safest way in Ireland. But I do not believe that the interests of this State, or our Constitution and of this Republic, would be served by putting politics before conscience in regard to this. There is a choice of a kind that can only be answered by saying that I stand by the Republic and accordingly I will not oppose this Bill.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Order, please.

Mr. Skelly: In the last week the only breath of fresh air on the religious side came from Dean Victor Griffin when he said that he did not think that the passing of this Bill would make one iota of a difference to our morals and that the Bill should have been passed through this House by agreement. The only breath of fresh air on the political side has come from Deputy O'Malley in the speech he just made, and I congratulate him on his courage and perspicacity.

Last week in very turbulent conditions we listened to hour after hour of invective poured out by some Members of the House and directed in many cases to Members of my party. I was concerned that Members speaking for the Bill would not have an opportunity to express their views because of the volume of speeches from those who felt that they had right, God, Church and voters on their side. Those contributors showed little charity in their contributions not to mention their understanding of the measures proposed in this Bill.

The Members of the House are being afflicted with political opportunism and with conscience. It is interesting to note the party methods of dealing with opportunism and conscience. It would seem that conscience on this side of the House is purer than the conscience on the far side, because on the far side conscience seems to have been solved by the Whip. It is obvious that on that side political [286] opportunism is coming into play in a big way. I had no intention of referring to that except for the fact that I had to listen yesterday and last week to speeches castigating the Government for introducing this Bill, for the matter in which they introduced it and for its contents. It has to be said, and taken up in the House, that a lot of hypocrisy was demonstrated here in the last few days. A lot of insincerity and opportunism was displayed. I regret that the Opposition are behaving in this way. They should have taken the good advice offered by the Dean who said that the Bill could have been discussed between the two parties or the two leaders and nodded through.

Two weeks ago, after completing ten hours research, I sat in the Chamber all day waiting for an opportunity to contribute on the largest Estimate going through the House — it amounted to £731 million — but I did not get an opportunity to speak because it was put through so fast. Some people say that there is not any demand for the legislation and that they should get on with other things, but we could have been getting on with other things if we had a responsible approach to this. It is particularly cynical coming from the Opposition, given that their leader, whom I would describe as a man of the world, demonstrated his awareness and attitude to youth, life and the eighties in an interview in the Hot Press — an interview I enjoyed. I thought Deputy Haughey was being very natural and normal in that interview; but, given he said that to his dying day he would regret having missed out on the free society, one must say that one presumes he would have been an active member of that society. Being a responsible person and an active members of that society I presume he would have taken precautions and would probably have used the contraceptives mentioned in the Bill. That man is now leading his party to oppose the Bill and that can be for no other reason but for political opportunism. That is the same party that only a few weeks ago introduced a motion in the House on the supergrass system in the North in the interests of the people in the North of [287] Ireland. They also introduced a motion dealing with the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Britain. Last year they took a particular stand in regard to the referendum and now they are opposing the amendment of the 1979 Act.

When the House debated the motion on supergrass trials I wondered how the people of Northern Ireland could think seriously about the intentions of the House or the people down here towards them when this form of cynicism operates from time to time. It would seem that the people of Ireland — I do not think it is true — from the concerted campaigns being carried on in recent weeks applaud this type of politics. It appears that they would support politicians who oppose the legislation before us and oppose the other measures I mentioned earlier. If that is how those people feel, they should vote the Opposition back into Government. If that is the way Irish people feel, that is what they deserve and should get; and the rest of us should think carefully about the future of the country. I listened to, but did not believe, Deputy Glenn talking about a concerted campaign of intimidation. She mentioned two or three phone calls, but that should be compared with the campaign in the recent referendum and what took place in recent weeks. One should ask: who got the phone calls, who got the letters and where was the pressure applied? If Deputy Glenn asked those questions she would realise who was intimidated. Nobody will believe that her side, or those who put forward the point of view she agrees with, were.

Some Members have proudly stated in the Chamber and at meetings of Oireachtas committees that they have gone outside for advice and instruction from a source. They have said that some times the source was a single one and on other occasions it was a representative source. Those Members have told us that on the basis of that advice they voted in a certain way in Parliament. That was done in connection with the recent referendum and is being followed in regard to the Bill. [288] For the benefit of the electorate I should like to put on record the serious position in that they are electing Members who do not represent them in their constituencies. If in an average constituency of 100,000 people elected Members take instructions from one source, they are not democrats and do not represent their constituents in a proper manner. At election time people should consider carefully whom they are putting forward and ask themselves if those people will represent them properly. If people cannot stand on their own two feet and think for themselves, they are in Parliament under false pretences. In the last two weeks I have listened to a lot of hysteria. I respect the opposing views and when people contact me I ask for their views but I do not think I got more than two. To the best of my recollection those views were expressed by a particular leaning and the argument did not stand up when one considered the measure dispassionately and without prejudice.

There has been a lot of self-righteousness against the measure and Members. It is easy to point towards Heaven and talk about moral principles, about standing by those moral principles, and that there was a higher authority watching as to how we react. I am beginning to think cynically that the eye is more on the voter than on the clouds as far as some of those people are concerned. Some Members think they have a monopoly of grace and wisdom. They leave me with the impression that, if they were called to meet their Maker tomorrow morning, they would expect to be met by at least a choir of angels. It is because of the happenings in the last two weeks and what occurred in the debate on the referendum that I think that that may not be the case and that there is some hope for those who hold different views. I am beginning to think that sinners like myself have a chance.

There has been a lot of concentration in recent weeks on Christian conscience or this trait called Christianity that we hear about so often. I thought it was a grave mistake that the Archbishop of Dublin should have spoken so early on [289] this issue and in the manner he did. The bishops could have been more effective had they not been domineering and hysterical. That prompts me to ask if Christianity as practised in this society works, particularly having examined what went on in recent weeks. I am not sure that it works in this society. I do not think those who preach it succeed when trying to practise it. It does not seem to work. Perhaps the fabric out of which it is woven is unable to absorb the life and times of the late 20th century. Perhaps other religions would work. For example, Hinduism might work but I am not too sure about Christianity. I might mention to those members who think they have right on their side, in reference to Christianity, that Christ came to heal sinners, not the righteous. We might remember also the biblical tax collector who climbed the sycamore tree to take a look at him, who supped with him that evening and was criticised for doing so, as an example of the kind of person whom he was out to help. We can remember also the woman taken in adultery when he invited someone from the crowd to cast the first stone, but nobody in the Holy Land cast a stone. That is not the case in Ireland. Stones were cast in here last week, they were cast last year and they are cast constantly. I would say to those people: they ought to be very careful that the pearly gates are not slammed shut in their faces when they pour out this kind of righteousness at other Members and try to influence a parliament in the way they are going about it.

I might cite as an example of an important element of this Bill and people whom it will affect more severely than it will most others when I would have to mention women and unmarried mothers and the wrong end of the stick they receive in this country. I attended a clinic last week at which there were 14 people, six of whom were unmarried mothers. Two of them had more than one child, none of them had a place to live, two of them were squatting, all of them were undernourished, including the babies. We must ask ourselves: does anybody care about [290] those people who, in many cases, are the victims of the denial of this form of contraception because there is an argument to be made in that respect? There is an area not far from that clinic of approximately half a square mile where there are 300 unmarried mothers, most of whom have no place to live. Our society does not look after or care for them very well. I attended meetings last year attended by a pressure group in the referendum campaign, who were most annoyed at the fact that unmarried mothers were being accommodated in houses. I was incensed to hear a Member say in this House yesterday that these condoms will be used by 18 year old men and upwards to seduce 13, 14, 15 and 16 year old girls. Perhaps that Member does not realise that, if that did happen, it would constitute a criminal offence and that £67 million are not to be provided so that young men can satisfy their desires on the young women of Ireland. We are not providing condoms for criminals.

I hope I am not misquoting Deputy John Kelly when I say that he said that because the abortion referendum had become a part of our Constitution there was then an argument to be advanced — in order to avoid abortions and unwanted pregnancies — for the provision of this type of contraception. There is another argument which poses the question: which is the greater sin, to be having sexual intercourse or having unwanted pregnancies, unwanted children, children who will not be cared for in this society, children who are not cared for under the law and who will suffer much hardship?

Last April when it was announced that Archbishop Dermot Ryan was to go to Rome, was resigning his archbishopric in Dublin, he gave an interview on an Addendum programme on RTE radio, a programme I often listen to. In the course of that interview he was asked questions in this area of conscience and contraception. I hope I am quoting him correctly when I say that he replied that people tended to come to him and to priests looking for answers to everything, that [291] they always wanted to know what to do in this or that situation. He said that people should think for themselves, consulting their own consciences, making up their own minds. Less than a year later we have another archbishop coming out with the opposite point of view and yet another bishop in the country telling us that we must obey the dictates of his church. In an interview given by Dean Victor Griffin on Sunday last he said he did not think that the passage of this Bill would make one iota of difference to the morals of this country, that he thought that in the best interests of the country the Bill should have been agreed and nodded through the House.

In response to the cry of the Knights of last week, that contraceptives would now be distributed freely to the youth of Ireland and “God save Ireland” I might say that, as a returned emigrant, if this is the atmosphere to which I returned to rear my family and the retort to God to save Ireland I would reply, let us pull the plug.

Mr. Flynn: This is a most unfortunate debate in many respects. Despite what has been said by some eloquent speakers it is well to remember that what we are being asked to do vis-à-vis this Bill is simply to vote on making available contraceptives for teenagers. While individuals can make grandiose statements on political issues, such as the labyrinthine variations on republicanism at certain times, that is not the issue here today.

I find somewhat disturbing the extraordinary level of intolerance evident in the contributions of some of the Members. I would hope that I would not add to the difficulties some people have at this time.

Our opposition is both reasoned and reasonable. We reiterate our opposition to the question of demand because opinion polls have been used by the Minister in promoting his point of view in his introductory remarks. It must be reiterated that those opinion polls show a clear majority against this type of Bill and that the only poll in favour was the one quoted [292] by the Minister himself which was not available for scrutiny.

There were no prior consultations with interested bodies. If we are all so concerned about the democratic process surely there is an onus on those introducing legislation to have such consultation with interested people and bodies. There has been much talk about political strong arm tactics against Government Deputies. I would suggest to the House that the Minister invited that type of thing in his introductory remarks. There is no doubt but that there have been considerable pressures — in fact the word blackmail was used — on certain crucial Fine Gael and Labour Deputies. These pressures have been relentless and unprecedented. However, it is well to remember that the Minister set the standard in this regard in his opening speech when he came into the House armed with a suitcase — that does not happen too often in Leinster House — in an intimidatory fashion to those who might dare to oppose, indicating that the famous bag might be opened and gems introduced into the debate as a means of forcing the issue one way or the other. It is not the first time that tactic was used but it certainly does not intimidate some of us from making our point of view.

The medical and health effects have been ignored by the Minister. The effects on youth have also been ignored although the evidence points to a much more permissive society being created if contraceptives are made freely available. This is not a Church-State confrontation. The bishops are entitled to their point of view and they simply stated their objectives on moral grounds. It was not just their entitlement, but their moral and Christian duty to do so and any divisiveness in this area is of the Government's own making in introducing legislation without consultation for purely ideological reasons. To say it was to satisfy the joint programme is a very lame excuse because that programme has been discarded long since and we are all witnesses to its dismemberment in the House. The crisis which exists in the Minister's area of [293] responsibility in the health service is ample evidence of the Government's abandonment of their stated policies.

There is increased cynicism which is being deliberately fostered by the Government's preoccupation in pursuance of their ideological minority issues for political purposes. Our economic life is being throttled to death while one of the Coalition partners is hellbent on satisfying its narrow ideological base, irrespective of the divisions it creates in the community. The aim of the Government should be to harness the potential of the community, to restore confidence and not to set community leaders, religious and political, at each other's throats.

Can the Bill achieve what it sets out to do? It is very doubtful. The long term public perception of Government attitudes to sexual relationships and moral issues is very important. By passing the Bill, there is a clear implication that officialdom recognises and gives respectability to the widespread use of contraceptives by all and sundry. The standard of behaviour in sexual matters is a matter for legitimate concern by a responsible Government and it must be conceded that if this Bill is introduced, it will help in the short term to adjust the attitudes of young people to the acceptance of the use of contraceptives as not just fashionable but advisable, permissible and proper. The inevitable result will be permissiveness with all its attendant difficulties for individuals, families and the State.

All the churches are opposed to moral decline. The emphasis in achieving the aim differs but any stance is no less worthy of support. Church leaders are not just entitled to make their position clear, they have a duty to preach according to their religious principles. It is well to remember that there are two points of view being expressed by two different church leaderships and resentment has been expressed to the Roman Catholic point of view as it has been expressed. There are many who might feel equal resentment to the views of the Church of Ireland leadership but they have shown [294] their Christianity by remaining silent. Those who are so vehement in finding fault with the views genuinely expressed should reflect on the democratic right of all, lay or clerical. Despite what some would-be progressives would have you think, there are many who are still not ashamed to call themselves Christians, and Roman Catholics for that matter.

One basic question must be addressed in this debate. Is it always proper and wise to regularise and legalise practices when they are in common use by certain groups of individuals? We do it here regularly but it must be obvious that there are occasions when considerations other than political expediency have to be considered. Social issues, particularly those with a high moral content, fall into the category where politics and politicians must move slowly and carefully after extensive consultations with interested groups and never in advance of widespread public demand. Even with all those ingredients being in order, the further dimension of the effect and possible effect on public morality and the common good has to be considered. Has anybody stated conclusively that the changes now proposed will have a beneficial effect on society generally?

The weight of experience and international statistics prove conclusively that harmful effects would follow such changes. Why then is the Bill being introduced? Did the Fine Gael TDs ask for it or were they consulted? Did Labour TDs ask for this legislation or were they consulted? Let us face it — a few wanted it for some so-called socialist, ideological reason. It is being forced down the neck of the population, the majority of whom see the move as uninvited pressure to introduce legislation for party political reasons and to do the fashionable thing irrespective of the consequences. The new political concept seems to be to keep in step. Just because a practice becomes fashionable in certain quarters does not mean that it should be given the respectability of law. If one applied that criterion to other areas of social behaviour, a chaotic situation would arise. We have [295] evidence of that in the Acts relating to the sale of alcohol and in regard to traffic in drugs. If something is intrinsically wrong, all the laws passed all over the world will not lessen the wrong or the responsibility of concerned legislators to make their objections public.

The Minister is trying to have his way in this legislation but his ego trip is misdirected. The extent of public disquiet in the manner in which he is already discharging his ministerial duties is alarming. He does not have the confidence of the electorate in that area or in this matter. The health services are being dismantled under his direction and the old and needy are improverished by his actions. They do not have a vociferous lobby and cannot organise a public demonstration of anger but there is a cry for mercy from every constituency to stop this relentless pursuit by the Minister and the Government in destroying living standards. Now, to top off this insensitivity to the demands and rights of the people, the Minister seeks to alienate the goodwill of the majority of the electorate. He is causing division between parliamentarians and dissension between Church and State. It is not in the best long term interests of the country to seek the widening of divisions at this time and, if ever the country needed all its citizens of every denomination and persuasion pulling together, it must surely be now.

There is no doubt but that the Minister was uneasy when he delivered his Second Stage speech, which was unusual for him. The way he referred to his bag on so many occasions was intimidatory as if certain moral blackmail could be exerted by referring to the bag. It was as if that bag was to be the source of the dirty tricks that would be necessary to implement this legislation. The Taoiseach's demeanour while the Minister was delivering his speech showed a disenchantment with the content of it. It was divisive and seemed to invite a certain type of debate. I wonder does the Taoiseach recognise that the price of Government is too high if he has to subject himself and his party [296] to the demands of the Labour Party in this area? Is he aware of what Deputies on all sides are saying — they dislike this action and the way this legislation was introduced? Feelings have been trampled on and traditional values have been subordinated to the dictate of one party in Government.

Many people have referred to speeches made by others in the past. Many have already been quoted. In 1974 Deputy Cooney stated that he had no doubt that the vast majority in the country were in favour of the law restricting the sale of contraceptives to married people. He also stated that he did not accept there was any such right because that implied a right to fornicate and “in my opinion there is no such natural right”. Those were the words of the present Minister for Defence: strong sentiments expressed and sincerely held. The fashionable length of a lady's skirt or width of a gent's trousers might change but the right for young unmarried teenagers to fornicate is still unnatural and wrong.

We have been asked to legislate for a family planning solution which would be more in line with modern permissive cultures. Medical and sociological publications all warn of the results of liberal sexual permissive societies. They stated unequivocally the rising rate of venereal disease and cancer of the cervix among teenage girls. This was referred to in The Irish Times on 15 November 1984 in an article written by Dr. John Kelly. In his speech the Minister said: “I must be guided by grave health considerations including the avoidance of unwanted pregnancies”. The Minister seems to be of the opinion that this legislation will solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies. Despite sex education programmes and readily available contraceptives, the number of teenage pregnancies and abortions has soared in other countries. Condoms have been proved to be notoriously ineffective when used by teenagers. The Minister, by his action, is forcing young people into an environment which will make it impossible for them to uphold the values we know to be truly human. [297] Once you accept the contraceptive ethic you must accept that it attacks the family structure. A contraceptive society requires abortion as a fail safe. A pro-life policy, which had recent expression in election terms, cannot be neutral on contraceptives. Abortion and contraception are distinct but they are related. From experience, supported by statistical evidence, the reality is that a contraceptive society is an anti-life society.

We must question the bona fides of some organisations which are operating here and the parent bodies to which they are affiliated, in particular, the Irish Family Planning Association and its membership of the International Planned Parenthood Federation which was founded in 1952. It is one of the world's foremost promoters of contraceptives and abortion. The stated aim of that organisation is full freedom of sexual expression without regard to age or marital status. One of the recent publications of that organisation advocates that teenagers aged 10 years and upwards should have full access to contraceptives, abortion and sexual education without parental control. There is disquiet that the Minister is a full member of that organisation and that his Department support their aims which are totally at variance with the stated constitutional law voted on by the people. Is the Minister saying that he subscribes to the guidelines of that international organisation? That federation says that family planning associations should not see unfavourable law as an excuse for inaction. Action outside the law is part of the process of stimulating change according to their guidelines.

While the Minister has taken exception to what certain people said about his actions in dealing with family planning clinics——

Mr. B. Desmond: I take exception to what the Deputy has just stated now as well.

Mr. Flynn: On 16 April in The Irish Times the Minister is quoted as saying——

[298] Mr. B. Desmond: If you cannot win an argument you smear the opposition.

Mr. D. Gallagher: The Minister set the tone.

Mr. Flynn: ——the law is an ass in this matter. If the use of condoms was to prevent venereal disease — it is suggested that condoms will be a panacea for all our ills — and cancer of the cervix, why are the levels of venereal disease and cervical cancer rocketing in the UK? If the claims made for condoms could be substantiated many more people would be availing of them but the opposite is the case. Only two million people out of 22 million men and women aged between 14 and 49 years use them regularly in the UK. That statistic was given in the British Medical Journal, October 1984. Falling sales of condoms clearly reflect the disenchantment of the UK population with them. Instead of achieving the aims which the Minister attributes to their use, the opposite is the case. Perhaps this is one reason why a major British firm manufacturing condoms in their October report mentioned Ireland as a target customer for their wares. The potential of the inexperienced Irish market must indeed be attractive to some manufacturers who witness declining sales in their home countries but the customer should know the real statistics before rushing headlong to accept the Minister's act of faith in condoms and their effectiveness.

The July 1984 monitor of the Office of Population Census and Surveys shows that illegitimate conceptions were 214,300 out of a total of 752,200 conceptions which is 28 per cent. The overall illegitimate birth rate rose from 17.5 per cent per 1,000 in 1975 to 21.2 per cent per 1,000 in 1980. The statistics for that jurisdiction also show that in girls aged between 15 and 19 years the illegitimate birth rate rose from 14.5 per cent per 1,000 to 17.3 per cent per 1,000 in the same period. These figures apply to the UK jurisdiction where contraception and sex education are freely available at all ages.

[299] Debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.