Dáil Éireann - Volume 501 - 24 February, 1999

Immigration Bill, 1999: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

Mr. M. Higgins: Previously, I outlined the Labour Party's opposition to this Bill which could be more accurately termed a deportation Bill. It is not possible to summarise my comments in four minutes but there are fundamental principles involved, one of which I hope the Minister will deal with in his reply.

It is simply unsatisfactory, in a constitutional sense, to argue against a Bill passed by the Oireachtas – the Refugee Act – and state that one proposes to leave it withering on the Statute Book without implementation for administrative [18] reasons. The constitutional responsibility of Government is either to implement an Act or to revoke or amend it. Fundamental issues of principle are addressed in the Refugee Act which simply cannot be glossed over. It is unacceptable in the absence of implementation of that Act to seek to amend, on a fix it basis, the powers of the Minister under the Aliens Act.

I wish to extract a clear answer from the Minister to the point raised earlier by my colleague, Deputy Howlin, regarding the orders the Minister has continued to make under the Aliens Act. If the court has struck down part of section 5, with what prudence or recklessness can one proceed to make further orders under that section? That is an extraordinary practice.

Apart from the mere legalities, there are other procedural matters. It is extraordinary that one would leave aside the principles of legislation passed by the Oireachtas and seek administrative procedures to handle this issue. Instead of utilising the existing strong legislation, which is based on rights and obligations in the international community, and addressing the issues that flow from that in terms of the proper procedures which exist in every charter affecting migrants and upon which we have a historical background which I discussed on the last occasion, we are leaning back on legislation which has historically served us badly. That legislation is out of kilter with the obligations we have effected in relation to the international community on human rights.

I also seek a reply to the matters I raised on the last occasion in relation to the previously quoted approvals of such bodies as the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which seems to be more regularly misquoted than accurately quoted with regard to procedure. For these reasons this Bill must be opposed. There are other issues of legislation and law which are extraordinary, among them the enshrining of the principle of retrospection.

Apart from the moral, historical background to our opposition on the basis of rights, the fact that an Act of the Oireachtas is being ignored and that this is a deportation Bill with no security by way of translation of rights to those affected by it mean the Labour Party will oppose the Bill.

Mr. Crawford: I wish to share my time with Deputy Ring.

An Ceann Comhairle: Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Crawford: This Bill, like the subject it addresses, is an emotive issue. It was depressing and annoying to hear the Minister's Second Stage speech turn directly to deportation. He said that the Bill would make clear, in unambiguous terms, who was likely to be deported.

As Opposition spokesman in 1995 the Minister spoke as follows to the Dáil:

The status of refugees is an issue which should strike a chord with every man, woman and child here who has any grasp of Irish his[19] tory, our history books being littered with the names and deeds of those driven from our country out of fear of persecution. ….. We are presented with a unique opportunity to reverse the general perception of Irish refugee policy by initiating one which is sensitive, reasonable and has at its heart the aim of protecting those who need it rather than immunising ourselves against the fears which others suffer.

On 7 August 1998—

Mr. O'Donoghue: They are still my sentiments.

Mr. Crawford: —the Minister said he intended to introduce fast track procedures to clear the backlog of asylum applications.

Last year Monaghan received, for the first time, a contingent of 29 Romanians. That gave me first hand knowledge of how the immigration issue is dealt with. We regularly hear about the thousands of refugees who are waiting to be dealt with but the Romanians in Monaghan were met by the authorities within hours of their arrival in Castleblayney. Every effort was made to have them deported.

I welcome the Minister's opening remarks in this debate that he intended to deal, through every channel, with those who organise the illegal transportation of people from different lands to this country. However, once immigrants have arrived here we must accept that we are dealing with a different situation. The Romanians who arrived in Monaghan and other parts of this country left Romania in absolute fear. That was clear from the programme on this subject made by well known RTE journalists following investigations in Romania carried out by them and other journalists. If these refugees are sent back to Romania, there is no knowing what will happen to them.

I thank and congratulate the support group for the refugees in Castleblayney. It ensures they have proper legal representation and receive a fair hearing. Given what is taking place at other venues in this city, one cannot help but contrast their situation with that of somebody who has £1 million and an extra £10,000 to give to those who can manage to get a passport. That was the situation until recently, although not as far as the Romanians are concerned.

What will happen to the Romanians if they are sent home? They face a dire predicament. I implore the Minister on their behalf – others have made similar representations to the Taoiseach – to ensure that they receive a proper and fair hearing.

The other issue which has been discussed by my colleagues in the context of this Bill is the need to let refugees take up employment. There are two reasons for giving refugees the right to seek work. The first is that it will give them the dignity of providing for themselves. Second, it would mean less costs to the taxpayer. The refugees would be helping this country particularly [20] now when there are notices in the windows of restaurants and shops throughout the country offering employment. These are opportunities for refugees to secure good employment and, in the process, save the taxpayer an enormous amount of money.

I am glad some Members of the Government parties are committed to this course. I hope they will secure the introduction of the necessary legislation to allow refugees to take up proper employment. There is a need for personnel in some areas. It is difficult for Chinese restaurants to fill jobs for chefs. The amount of red tape involved makes it almost impossible. There have been successes but it is difficult for the industry and those who want to take the jobs and pay taxes when they find so many people ranged against them.

It is only 12 years since Fianna Fáil welcomed the opportunities for thousands of people to leave this country. Members of all parties worked to find people the proper papers to allow them to work in the United States, Australia and other places. Millions of Irish people found employment, some legally and others illegally, throughout the world.

We should remember our past when we look at this legislation. Long before the Famine, the Presbyterian minister of the church in Cahans, only a few miles from my home, loaded his congregation of 350 people into a boat and sailed to Canada. They had to traipse through Canada and America until they found a home in North Carolina.

Last year I was privileged to be a member of a County Monaghan delegation to set up links with Prince Edward Island, Peterborough and other areas of north Canada. While we were in the new city of Mirhamishee, we were brought to Little Island. Thousands of Irish emigrants passed through there in that period and thousands of those who did not survive the journey were buried there. A young cleric and a young doctor who were sent to look after one group of emigrants were buried with them. There is an onus on us to remember our past and to make sure we deal sensibly with those who happen to find their way to our shores.

I do not, however, apologise for supporting the Minister in making sure that there are no sharks making money from sending people here. There are people who have been in this country for some time, who have worked and paid their taxes, but find because of the tightening of the legislation that they have to give up their jobs. Now they cost the State money and face deportation. These people have a proud record of working and paying tax but because the Minister has decided to place severe restrictions on them they may have to leave.

Those who are already in the country deserve an amnesty. The Minister will quote EU law to defend his position but Italy has found a way to introduce a second amnesty. We brought in amnesties for tax cheats. The Minister must con[21] sider an amnesty for those who have proved they want to be part of our society and who cause us no trouble. The Minister admitted that this Bill is about deportation, not immigration. He should rethink it.

Mr. Ring: The west of Ireland was ravaged by emigration. In the 1920s and 1930s people who did not speak English left Achill Island. Imagine how they felt arriving in America, London and other places. We are the most hypocritical nation, the greatest crowd of beggars; we go round the world asking every country to take in and look after our emigrants. We beg every US Senator and we have criticised every English Government for 100 years, although the English Government let our people into the country to make an honest living. Some of them may not have been treated with the respect they deserved but at least they were allowed into the country.

I listen to people who say they do not want to see other nationalities or colours in this country. They do not even want to see their own people succeeding. They live in a very narrow world. We were glad to see our own people taken in by other countries. This Bill is a deportation Bill to get rid of people. In Italy they have decided to take 200,000 more immigrants into the country. The least we can do is take 5,000 people in every year.

This week the Irish Government is negotiating CAP reform in Brussels and seeking further Objective One Structural Funds for Ireland. We are great at going out with the begging bowl to make sure we are looked after, but we must look after those who are not as well off as we are. Many of those who are in the country illegally cannot work. Some of them are working in the black economy in restaurants and pubs. I hope that what happened to Irish people in other countries will not happen here – that illegal workers will not be paid slave wages because they cannot complain as they should not be in the country.

Those who are here, some of them with children attending school, are prepared to work. The least we can do is give them employment so they may have self-respect. We must assist those less well off than ourselves. It is the least we could do after the way we have cried for the past 100 years about the Irish emigrants.

We talk about the Irish in cardboard city in London and what we must do for them. Governments have done nothing for our emigrants since the foundation of the State. There are many Irish people living in cardboard city in Dublin. We will do nothing for them yet we begged American Senators to get as many Irish people into America as possible. Every ambassador who came to the country was wined and dined by Taoisigh and former Taoisigh to make sure we got these visas. Yet we will not let a few thousand immigrants into Ireland at a time when the country is doing better than ever. There are people who will say they have not gained from the Celtic tiger, but there is a great deal of money available, and I see no reason we cannot take in some immigrants.

[22] Deputy Michael D. Higgins said this is a deportation Bill. We have to be fair. As part of the European Union we must take our fair share of immigrants. We must assist them; we must house them and get them into schools so that they can be integrated into society. We will have people who will not obey the laws and who will fail, but there are Irish people all over the world who have disobeyed laws and ended up in prisons. We will get the good with the bad, and it is time this country realised it has an obligation to look after these people.

The Government should also look at the position of Irish emigrants who have not done so well. We should look at ways of returning them to Ireland. A woman came to my clinic last Saturday whose sister is dying in a hospital in London. She lives on the fifth floor of a building and has no relatives there. She wants to come home, and I have contacted the county council and the health board trying to get her home, but I have been put through the mill. It is difficult to do anything for that woman, though she is dying in a hospital with nobody to assist her. There are no provisions whereby she could be housed for the short time she has to live. She wants to come home to her relatives. She wants to come back to the country where she was born, though it did nothing for her. She left Ireland as a child, and all she is asking is to have the State assist her in her last days. That is not too much to ask. We have forgotten our emigrants.

I was chairman of the Westport Emigrants' Reunion, and we held a function every year in London to which we charged only £2. We did not want the dicky bow organisations. Such bodies are well able to look after themselves. The Mayomen's Association and similar bodies have members who have done well for themselves in Britain. We tried to identify the people who had not done so well. We were successful in locating people who had not contacted their families in 30 years. We facilitated contact between family members and in some cases family members came back to Ireland. Parents cried on their children's birthdays and at Christmas because they had had no contact for years. Their children had failed and were ashamed to come home. There is nothing wrong with failure. We will have failures. However, there is nothing to assist such people.

We have an obligation in this matter. We know how to beg: we have begged America and other countries to admit our emigrants. Some of those emigrants have done well and gone to the top of their professions. We must give immigrants an opportunity. We must let their children into the educational system. I am not saying the floodgates should be opened, but we should assist the couple of thousand immigrants we should admit yearly.

Mr. M. Brennan: I support the Minister. This Bill is a very good one. I do not agree with previous speakers that it is a deportation Bill. It is far from it.

[23] Previous speakers mentioned those who left our shores, and emigration has been part and parcel of Irish life for centuries. People left Ireland because of religious persecution in the 17th and 18th centuries. They also left because they were deprived of the chance of making a living. They were driven from their lands or the industries in which they worked were forced to close because of harsh laws and high taxes. Penal laws of one sort or another forced many of our ancestors to leave our shores, never to return. Today, Irish emigrants are counted in their millions in every corner of the earth. They have brought to their new homes the values that have always made us proud to be Irish. Our people have always been willing to work diligently and laboriously in their adopted countries. Their aim was to make their new home a better place in which to live. This country experienced the worst human tragedy in our history 150 years ago in the famine of the 1840s. Emigration was a fact of life before the famine and has continued into our lifetime, with thousands of young people, the flower of our youth, leaving our shores from the 1940s through to the 1980s. Our missionary nuns, priests and lay people were also among those who left. They travelled to the four corners of the earth to bring the message of Christianity and a better quality of life to the poor and needy. No doubt their reward will be greater in heaven.

I know what it means to take the emigrant ship. I emigrated in the late 1950s or early 1960s. I went to London to work and got involved in the Irish community there. I knew people from every corner of Ireland when I played Gaelic football in London, and it was the same when I went to New York after that. I am proud that the majority of Irish people are doing well. I played football against tough men from the Minister's county.

Mr. Boylan: We beat them in New York.

Mr. O'Donoghue: That was 50 years ago.

Mr. M. Brennan: Before I left Ireland I often witnessed scenes of heartbreak and grief as young people said goodbye to their parents on the Tubbercurry station platform, before that station closed. An aunt and uncle of mine who left never returned, though today young people who emigrate return often. Many of our young people still emigrate to America or Europe, but thank God the human haemorrhage is over, I hope never to return.

Our economy is the envy of the western world, though we cannot be complacent. There are many ways we can make our country a better place for all. We have always been renowned for our compassion, generosity and friendship, as well as for our care for others. Many thousands of people are still forced to leave their countries because of poverty, wars and man's inhumanity to man. There is a clear obligation on developed countries to accommodate genuine refugees who are pre[24] pared to work and to obey the laws in their new home. Given that we are experiencing a skills shortage a reasonable number of refugees who are prepared to work should be admitted. Many of our people emigrated in the 1950s when it was easy to obtain employment. I am pleased the Minister is raising this matter at the Cabinet meeting next Monday with a view to introducing legislation which will allow those people to work here.

A Russian man who arrived on a ship recently to Sligo got employment in a local factory, having first obtained a work permit with the Minister's help. That factory was pleased to employ him because he was able to work a machine which had arrived from Europe. The factory had experienced difficulty in finding a suitable person to fill the vacancy.

The intake of refugees should be carefully monitored and controlled and the numbers limited to those we can accommodate and employ. It would be in the best interests of the country and of the refugees to allow them to work. All applications should be carefully monitored. Care should be taken to ensure that refugees allowed in were not involved in any undesirable activities before arriving here. I was on the Council of Europe for a few years and was a member of the committee of migration refugees and demography. I visited refugee camps in Croatia and Bosnia during the war where people suffered extreme hardship. Those people should have been able to go to a country such as Ireland for a few years until such time as their own country was a better place to live. I have every confidence the Minister will do an excellent job. I welcome the Bill.

Mr. Boylan: I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a brief contribution to this important debate. It is one of the most important social conscience debates we have had for some time. Emigration and immigration strikes a cord with all people and is something on which we can all reflect. Some of the most heart-rending stories ever told or written relate to the Famine, the emigration boat and the terrible hardship, pain and misery inflicted.

In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, socials and presentations were a regular feature of country life. As a young fellow I thought it was a great opportunity for a céile dance and tea and buns but as I grew older I realised it was an exercise to bring people together to raise funds to enable somebody get away from the misery of unemployment, with no income. The presentation usually made by the curate or parish priest was always a wallet of notes. That was not unique to Cavan, it happened nationwide. As young people we did not realise the heartache, pain and suffering for parents, brothers and sisters who were never again to see their loved one. It was not until recently when, as chairman of Cavan County Council, I had reason to travel to New York that I witnessed the awful conditions in which many of these young people, whom we thought had done well, [25] live. As a nation I felt we would never allow that to happen anybody who came to us for help.

There are people here who have come to us for help. We should not allow them endure the suffering our people had to endure through no fault of their own or through no fault of the country in which they sought work. The work simply was not available. We thought they were going to a bright new land. Those who come here and read about the Celtic tiger, the opportunities and the economy think they are coming to a bright new land. We should not disillusion them. We have a responsibility and a social conscience. Times are good here, successive Governments have laid the foundation. There is a job for anybody who wants work here.

In a presentation made recently by the Small Firms Association to the Committee on Enterprise and Small Business, of which I am a member, it was stated there were 80,000 jobs which cannot be filled. Yet there are immigrants here who are willing to take up those jobs but because they are not here on a legal basis they cannot be legally employed. I accept some are working and are paid cash under the counter. That is not satisfactory as those people are not registered and have no social insurance contributions. In the event of an accident, who would look after them? This matter will have to be put on a proper legal footing. Those people are hidden away in fear of making themselves known and that is not good enough. That is how our people were treated in the past and we should not treat those people in that manner. It is not as if they are depriving somebody else of a job.

I am aware of numerous firms seeking people to take up various types of well paid employment and immigrants are willing to take up work as labourers, domestic workers or shop assistants. Those jobs are well paid with good accommodation and conditions. There are also professionals who have come here with their families. Some have arrived in containers and have had to endure terrible conditions for many days. The decision to come was not made lightly. They have left extended family members at home hoping and praying they have arrived safely in Ireland and that things are going well for them.

The emigrants' letters from the 1940s and 1950s would never say exactly in what conditions those people lived. The people always gave the impression that things were great and they were doing well, and they usually enclosed a few dollars which they could ill-afford. That was the pride in the Irish people.

I wish to share my time with Deputy McGinley.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Briscoe): Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Boylan: I support those who came here in the same condition as our people left in the past. We should look after them. We are not talking about vast numbers of people, probably about 5,000 to 6,000 people. It is not as if these people [26] are displacing Irish people from jobs. This is a marvellous turnaround and I welcome it. There are great opportunities here and although 200,000 of our people are unemployed, they are obviously not suitable or capable for the jobs which are available because the Live Register has been screened. Employers cannot get the people they want, yet immigrants from Bosnia, Croatia, etc. are suitable and willing to work, but they must be officially registered. I do not want these people to be bundled off home because that is not good enough in modern, Christian Ireland and I will not be party to that. I will support the Minister if he makes a genuine effort to have these people placed on a proper footing so they can enter the job market, get work and have the same respect as we would want for our people in other countries.

Mr. McGinley: I thank my colleague, Deputy Boylan, for sharing his time. Originally I had no intention of speaking on this Bill but, coming from the west Donegal Gaeltacht, which has experienced emigration for 150 years, I felt I should. In my parish, Gweedore, and in all of west Donegal, there is hardly one household which has not experienced emigration – at least one member of the family in this or a previous generation has left the county or the country to seek a livelihood. Most of them went to the UK, especially Scotland, but many also went to the US and all over the world. They were welcomed, made their living, and tried to keep contact with home. More than any other country, Ireland should have an understanding of this problem.

There is a lot of literature by Donegal people who have experienced emigration. Every year we hold the Patrick McGill Summer School, which honours a man whose experience was typical of people from the end of the last century up to the 1940s. He left school at an early age and left west Donegal for east Donegal, Tyrone, and Fermanagh where he worked from age 10 to 13. He then made his way to Scotland, fought in the Great War, and eventually reached the US. Patrick McGill wrote many excellent books outlining the trials and tribulations of the Donegal emigrant, including The Rat Pit and Children of the Dead End. Last week, RTE broadcast a documentary about another typical Donegal emigrant, from nearer my home. As a boy, he left his home for the Lagan in east Donegal, as it was called, where he was hired out for a number of years. He then went to Scotland, the US, and finally to Alaska and the Klondike. His book was called Rotha Mór an tSaoil, the great wheel of life. This man was lucky – he struck gold, returned with it to Donegal and bought a house in Gortahork. I am glad to say his family are still living there. There were also the Rannafast writers, Séamus and Seosamh Ó Grianna, who had the same experience: “ag dul go dtí an Lagan mar pháistí scoile agus ón Lagan go dtí Albain, agus as sin ar fud an domhain”.

[27] Ireland more than any country in Europe, and Donegal more than any county in Ireland, has experienced emigration. Hardly a household in my parish does not have relations in Scotland, England, the US or Australia, and some of my family had the same experience. Yet today, the Dáil is discussing the Immigration Bill, which someone said might be more appropriately titled the deportation Bill. Its objective is not to accommodate unfortunate people who, due to the political and economic circumstances in their countries, are obliged to come here. This Bill is not a welcome for them, it is designed to get rid of them as soon as possible with no questions asked, which is a great pity.

Some years ago there was a great campaign in this House – Bills were introduced, motions passed, and deputations sent – to legalise many thousands of our young people who had to leave for the United States in the 1980s. There was a great outcry when a number of them were sent home for not having a green card. The US authorities were reasonably lenient, because if they had sent back everyone without a green card there would be few Irish people left there. The US introduced emergency legislation to provide Donnelly and Morrison visas and other schemes to facilitate our young people who had to leave Ireland in their thousands because of the economic position in the 1980s. In some years up to 30,000 people emigrated, and at one point there were about 100,000 Irish people in America, many without proper certification. The US introduced legislation and looked after them, so it is no longer a burning issue.

However, we have a burning issue in this country. We are dealing with only a small number of people, a few thousand, and we should treat them as we wanted our own to be treated in the 1980s and previous generations. That is why I have difficulty supporting this Bill. We have an economic boom, the Celtic tiger is talked and written about every day and we should be willing to share with those coming here, many of whom are skilled and have a lot to offer.

When I was coming here today from Drumcondra, the traffic was heavy and I had to stop at traffic lights here and there. Many windows – hairdressers, shops, newsagents – displayed signs looking for staff. We may have 200,000 people unemployed, but there is hardly a business in Dublin which is not looking for staff. I see no reason not to allow immigrants to take these jobs – they would certainly contribute to the economy. There are also openings for skilled immigrants.

I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this Bill. If we remembered our historical experience we would have more understanding of these people than many other European countries. I am, therefore, disappointed the Minister is not more liberal in his approach. We should treat these people in a more generous and Christian way when they come to our shores. I do not advo[28] cate that we open our ports and allow hundreds of thousands in, we are talking about only 10,000 people who will not make a great difference. These people will contribute more to the economy and to our way of life than they will take away. For that reason, I have serious reservations about the Bill.

Ms McManus: The Bill is misnamed – it is not an Immigration Bill, it is a deportation Bill. There is an onus on any Minister introducing a Bill to ensure that its title reflects the content. That may seem like a small point but it is one which indicates a larger problem that exists in respect of the Minister and his Department. From the point of view of accuracy, it is wrong to present this as an Immigration Bill. It is a deportation Bill and its sole purpose is to provide powers, principles and procedures regarding the deportation of non-nationals. Its introduction highlights the fact that we do not have immigration legislation or an immigration policy and that deportations and the situation which obtains in respect of the Aliens Act form only part of a larger, more complex picture.

I will refer first to the issue of deportations. We know that deportations are taking place but we have no information regarding their character or nature. Very occasionally we have been able to obtain an insight, a flash of understanding with regard to what is being done in the name of the Irish people. I have been made aware of a case in my constituency where an individual was deported and his girlfriend travelled to his country of origin to marry him. Fortunately that story had a happy ending but it is probably unique.

In another case, the Costinas family described clearly, through their staunch friends, supporters and neighbours, the experience and ordeal of deportation. In that instance, the family, including the children, were placed in a cell and denied access to toilet facilities. In a modern developed country like Ireland, even the worst criminal is entitled to such a basic human requirement but in this case it was denied. That tells us a great deal about the experience of those who have undergone deportation. However, the larger story surrounding deportation remains and when a Bill of this sort is introduced we should examine it closely.

I compliment my colleague Deputy Howlin for pinpointing an aspect of the Bill which has extremely serious implications for the House. The Minister is reported to have made orders that are in conflict with the decision of the High Court, which has already determined that the Aliens Act is unconstitutional. The motion put forward by Deputy Howlin goes to the core of what we are doing as elected legislators. The Minister is purported to have made orders which are premature and to have made presumptions about decisions of the House in respect of the Bill which he is not entitled to make. The motion reads:

[29] That Dáil Éireann—

—having regard to the fact that the Immigration Bill, 1999, is at present before the House; and

—being of the opinion that matters, the subject of the Aliens (Amendment) (No. 2) Order, 1999 (S.I. 24 of 1999), purportedly made by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the 3rd day of February, 1999, ought properly be dealt with in primary legislation;

resolves, pursuant to section 5, subsection 8 of the Aliens Act, 1935, that the said order should be and is hereby annulled.

That motion sets to right an abuse which is occurring at present and which is an offence to every elected Member of the House who has a job to do. That job, in the interests of the Irish people, must be respected and adhered to.

One should not be too surprised by the nature of the Bill when one considers the track record of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform under the direction of the current Minister. Its policy is one of keeping the administration right, regardless of any other issues, and keeping the lid on a matter that is vaguely unpleasant, rather threatening and something to be feared. That attitude is extremely damaging. We appear to have a Department which is philosophically incapable of dealing with issues which form part of modern life such as people seeking asylum and the fact that we have international obligations which we must do our utmost to honour. We claim that we are good Europeans. If we are to be part of the larger international community, we must be able to act as good Europeans when dealing with global issues which are part and parcel of the experience of other European countries. Instead of having that confidence and awareness of moral and political obligations, we have a Minister and a Department which are constantly trying to keep a lid on pressure they perceive will be unbearable if any alternative route is taken.

As an Irish person who was fortunate to grow up in this country, unlike many people of my age and those of previous generations who were obliged to emigrate and find acceptance in other countries, I find that deeply distasteful. Many Members have already referred to the fact that we are denying and negating that aspect of our lives, our history and our culture by taking a hardline and repressive attitude to those seeking refuge and asylum in Ireland.

That attitude became particularly noticeable when the Department began to put a spin on what was said by various esteemed organisations. For example, when representatives of the UNHCR addressed one of the Oireachtas committees and explained in careful detail what their organisation was saying about the Irish approach. They stated that we had an opportunity to create a good model to develop best practice in dealing [30] with asylum seekers. That is what I heard and that is what they said. However, it is interesting that The Irish Times reported that they purportedly informed the Minister, according to the Department's spokesman, that Ireland had a good model in terms of dealing with asylum seekers. In effect, an “Alice in Wonderland” perspective was placed on what the representatives of the UNHCR had actually stated. In one respect the Department's attitude is laughable but in another it is deadly serious and it must be challenged at every opportunity.

That kind of spin cannot be put on what we are doing to asylum seekers, particularly when one considers the positive approach the Italian Government has adopted in this area or when one looks at what has happened in other European countries. Some of these countries do not have the comfort of an economic boom, some have increasingly high levels of unemployment and some contain organised political groups that represent a new manifestation of a deep seated racism which dates back generations, which is disturbing and which is undermining the democratic system. They have, however, adopted an approach that is in tune with the times. With the comforts of economic growth and falling unemployment levels, we have not made that leap.

The interdepartmental committee on non-Irish nationals established in 1994 prepared the ground for the Refugee Act, 1996. It was chaired by a Mr. S. Magner of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In its presentation on what needed to be done to update our legislation it stated, “It is believed that a Government Department which has overall responsibility for immigration matters and policy will inspire confidence via the maxim that justice is seen to be done”. It proposed the establishment of a tribunal “which would be both independent and specialised and would be solely and exclusively responsible for considering applications for refugee status and the making of recommendations on these applications”.

Great credit is due to the Department for chairing a committee which expressed this enlightened view which was at the core of the Refugee Bill which was supported by all parties in the House. It does not often happen that there is consensus on such a difficult issue. It will always be a difficult issue. It is wrong to presume that there will not be conflicts. Just over one year ago there was all-party consensus on an anti-racism motion which called for full implementation of the Act. It has still not been implemented. It is in limbo. The issue should be dealt with in a mature, responsible and progressive way.

On 19 October 1995 the Minister, then in opposition, said:

I am sure the Minister will be aware that Amnesty International published a document setting out its objections to certain aspects of the Bill. It states that the category of “manifestly unfounded applications” is open to [31] potential serious abuse and grave injustices. It also states that experience abroad has shown that the use of fast track procedures save neither time nor money. I totally agree with the observations and criticisms of Amnesty International in that respect.

Since taking office the Minister has set aside the important parts of the Act and introduced a fast track procedure.

The issue of the right to work which I have been promoting for a long time has been raised. I read the story in the Irish Independent today with great interest. When Deputy Quinn raised the issue with the Taoiseach it was clear the story was much sharper—

Mr. Howlin: One might have considered it a bottle of smoke.

Ms McManus: I hope it is not. The Taoiseach was evasive and did not state that the Government supported the idea, that the matter would be dealt with and that legislation would be required. It appears a Bill will be introduced towards the end of the year. If asylum seekers were granted the right to work, nothing would change in terms of applications for asylum. What would change is that one of the sources of aggression, attacks and abuse would be eliminated. Many asylum seekers want to work. Their skills are needed. The Department should change its mindset that it is keeping the lid on the matter in case the genie jumps out of the bottle.

Instead of harping on about what happened in the past, we should look to the future which is multi-cultural. If we fail to appreciate this, we will lose out. We failed as a society in the 1940s and 1950s when an isolationist approach was adopted and economic barriers were built. Increasingly markets are global. Young people understand this and have already made the leap. We have to determine whether we want to be part of the global network. If we are to succeed as a society in the 21st century, we will have to see ourselves in a world where boundaries are broken down and multi-culturalism is unremarkable because of the way we relate to one another. It is very good that those boundaries have been broken down. Let us not create new ones or rebuild boundaries at a time when they are breaking down elsewhere.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I thank Deputies for their contributions to the debate on this important and urgent Bill. The debate has unsurprisingly covered a wide area, touching on many facets of the question of the immigration and residence of non-nationals in the State and addressing also related issues in the area of asylum and refugees. While it has perhaps strayed beyond the strict ambit of the Bill, I believe it was proper to review not only the proposals in the Bill but also the policy and legislative contexts in which they have evolved and in which, once enacted, they will [32] operate. I have noted all of the points raised by Deputies and I will endeavour to respond to at least some of the more significant ones.

A number of statements by various contributors suggest that the significant elements of my opening remarks were not fully appreciated. I, therefore, believe it worth repeating the essential points I made. First, I was castigated for my unwillingness to make the Refugee Act operational. I said I proposed to have proposals with the Government before Easter for an amending Bill which will provide sufficient statutory structures to allow for proper consideration within a reasonable timescale, both at first instance and on appeal, to 5,000 asylum applications a year instead of the 500 which the Act, as constituted, would be very hard pressed to handle.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins and others know it is not a matter of administrative convenience, as he characterised it, which has dictated the position regarding non-commencement of the Refugee Act. It is, rather, the impossibility, as I have repeatedly emphasised, for any one person as commissioner to consider fairly and in a reasonable time all the 5,000 applications and more being made each year.

Mr. Howlin: A one sentence Bill would rectify that.

Mr. O'Donoghue: It ill-becomes any member of the previous Government to criticise me or the Government for failure to implement the Act when the previous Government failed to do so, even though it was in office for over 13 months after its enactment.

Mr. Howlin: The Minister has been in office for almost two years.

Mr. O'Donoghue: It is at best disingenuous to accuse the Government of subverting the will of the Oireachtas by the non-implementation of an Act which contains a commencement provision. The Deputy cannot choose to fulminate about those aspects of the will of the Oireachtas he likes while at the same time ignoring other parts also expressing that will which do not suit him.

My proposals to amend the Refugee Act were approved by the Government yesterday. It is my intention to give effect to these proposals by way of amendments to this Bill and I hope to be able to table them on Committee Stage.

Mr. Howlin: In this Bill?

Mr. O'Donoghue: That is correct. It is my intention to give effect to the amendments to the Refugee Act which I brought before Government yesterday and were approved for inclusion in this Bill.

Mr. Howlin: Does that mean that a second immigration Bill will not be introduced this year?

[33] Mr. O'Donoghue: A further immigration Bill will be introduced to deal with illegal trafficking. However, the amendments I envisage as required to the Refugee Act, 1996, will be brought forward in this legislation so that I may give effect to that Act.

I have consistently stated that it is not possible for me to implement the Refugee Act as it stands, no more than it was for the previous Government, because it envisages at most a couple of hundred applications per annum. There are now several thousand applications per annum and it is not administratively possible for one commissioner or one appeals authority to deal with the current number of applications. There are also arrears to address. Substantial amendments are required to the Refugee Act if we are to give effect to it in the context of the immigration problem we now face.

Mr. Higgins (Mayo): Will the Minister's amendments deal with the essence of this problem, the issue of the commissioner and the appointment of further commissioners?

Mr. O'Donoghue: The issues to be addressed in the amendments to the Refugee Act which I will introduce in respect of this Bill will deal with the commissioner, the appeals authorities and possibly the question of an advisory board with regard to the refugee problem. They should allow me to give effect to the Refugee Act, part of which is in operation. The Dublin Convention provisions of the Act have been in operation for a considerable period because I signed the order giving effect to them.

Mr. Howlin: Those elements which exclude are in force while those that include are not.

Mr. O'Donoghue: I will address Deputy Howlin's remark later. The matter of the definition of refugee is in effect. The amendments to be made to the Refugee Act will include proposals contained in a Private Members' Bill presented to the House by the late Deputy Upton.

Not for the first time, a number of contributors characterised me as being anti-refugee. They quoted a statement I made in the House regarding the history of the Irish people and the issue of refugees striking a chord with them. My position has not changed from the time I made that speech in Opposition. Those who cite it do not understand the issue. A refugee is not an illegal immigrant and an illegal immigrant is not a refugee. A refugee is defined in the Geneva Convention of 1951 and again in the 1996 Act as a person who is fleeing persecution for various reasons. An illegal immigrant is precisely what that term implies. A distinction is made between the two in legislation in every civilised democracy.

[34] Mr. Higgins (Mayo): The Minister did not make any distinction.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Those who quote me have no understanding of the matter.

Mr. Higgins (Mayo): The Minister should read what he said.

Mr. O'Donoghue: I remind Deputies of what I said in my opening remarks on this Bill:

Simply stated, my policy is to ensure that every non-national who is genuinely in need of the protection of this State is identified and recognised as such as soon as possible after arrival here so that they can immediately start the process of integration into Irish society and take up the rights to which they are entitled under the Convention.

That encapsulates the policy of the Government and should also be the basis for the policy of every party in the House. It is not for me to say what the policy of each party is on this issue. As I have said on numerous occasions previously, I know what they are against but I do not know what they are for. Nor do the Irish people. It is unfair.

I repudiate the unwarranted slur cast by Deputy Gormley on the integrity and motives of the staff of my Department. This insult was accentuated by Deputy McManus. I reject the attacks on the integrity and motives of the staff of my Department. We are dealing with a difficult and sometimes harrowing task. Unfortunately, staff must illicit the personal stories of asylum seekers and make judgments on foot of them. That is not an easy thing to do.

I will not tolerate the rights of those genuinely in need of the protection of this State being hindered in any way by volumes of speculative or ill-founded claims for asylum made on the basis of a perception that if the application is unsuccessful, the applicant will be allowed to stay. The last Government, this Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have spoken out against such spurious claims.

I quote from a document called “Refugees and Asylum Seekers: a Joint Policy Statement of the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace and Trócaire”, which was published in December 1997. In a paragraph headed “Grasping the Nettle of Expulsions”, it states:

The difficulties facing the Minister and the Department of Justice have to be recognised. A clear, fair and efficient adjudication procedure, with all the necessary attendant safeguards, will by definition admit not only those whose application is well-founded but also let in on a temporary basis many whose applications will be eventually adjudicated not to be well-founded. The inevitable and necessary consequence, if the system is to work properly, is that such applicants will be sent out of Ireland to some other country, i.e. deported or expelled. The nettle has to be grasped that deportation of some applicants (assuming that there are adequate safeguards in the system) is [35] an inescapable part of a fair and efficient process, and provides an essential protection for genuine cases.

This Bill ensures that there are adequate safeguards in the system not just for failed asylum seekers, but for other non-nationals liable for deportation. It behoves us all to grasp the nettle that deportations will in some cases be necessary and that Ireland is at present without that “inescapable part of a fair and efficient process”. That is why we need this legislation.

I also indicated in my opening remarks my intention to replace completely the current Aliens Act and Orders with a comprehensive code of immigration and residence legislation which will ensure that in all aspects of immigration law the principles, practices and procedures will be clearly set out in a comprehensive, modern, fair and just code of statute law. This will mean that the people who operate the immigration and residence legislation and the people whose lives may be affected by its operation can clearly identify what exactly they can expect from the law and what the law expects from them. This Bill is the first element of that comprehensive code of immigration and residence law.

Deputy Howlin outlined a helpful catalogue of factors as constituting the elements of a modern immigration policy. This is the aim of the comprehensive code – to provide a framework for the development and implementation of fair and sensible policies in this area. It is my intention to bring forward a comprehensive immigration and residence Bill this year, in addition to the trafficking Bill I mentioned earlier and this Bill, and to implement the Refugee Act, 1996.

Deputy Howlin criticised the provision in section 3(2)(i) which enables the deportation of a person where the Minister is of the opinion that it is conducive to the public good to do so. The courts have, for example, in the cases of Osheku in 1986 and Tang in 1996 upheld this power in the past. Other points made by Deputy Howlin on the details of the Bill have been noted and will be examined between now and Committee Stage.

The effect of the High Court ruling in the Laurentiu case was raised by a number of Deputies not just during this debate but on the Order of Business and on other occasions outside the House. I remind Deputies that the High Court ruling in this case upheld all the procedural steps taken by me, my predecessors and my Department and found no fault with the principle of deportation. The only adverse finding in that case was that the manner in which the Legislature had given powers to the Minister in 1935 was found to be inconsistent with the 1937 Constitution. That judgment is under appeal to the Supreme Court.

Work had been well advanced in my Department to put on a statutory footing the practices which were already largely in place surrounding the deportation process. These practices ensure, for example, that notice is given to a person who may become the subject of a deportation order so [36] that representations can be made. The effect the High Court judgment has had on that work is one of form only; instead of putting in place the substance of these clear and transparent procedures by making an aliens order, as had been my intention, I am now doing so by bringing forward this Bill. Accordingly, it would be wrong for Deputies to characterise the judgment as forcing my hand in any substantial respect.

The suggestion by Deputy Michael Higgins that the aliens orders recently made by me are unconstitutional is based on contrived arguments. The High Court struck down section 5(1)(e) of the Aliens Act, 1935, which deals with deportation. The orders I made are based on other provisions of the 1935 Act which were not struck down by the High Court and were not an issue in the Laurentiu case.

Mr. Howlin: The reasonings would be identical.

Mr. M. Higgins: The judgment is on the section not on the words.

Mr. O'Donoghue: I have every confidence that the orders, made in consultation with the Attorney General, will stand up to the closest legal scrutiny.

Mr. Howlin: Does the Minister accept that it would be more respectful to this House to await the enactment of section 2 of this Bill, which would or would not validate those orders retrospectively as the will of the Oireachtas determines?

Acting Chairman (Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin): The Deputies have had their opportunity to speak. I ask that the Minister be allowed to reply.

Mr. O'Donoghue: There have been a number of interventions in this debate. I am satisfied that I was legally entitled to sign the orders. They were carefully considered in consultation with the Attorney General. Had that not been the case, I would not have signed them. I am completely within my rights to have done so and it was not disrespectful to this House to have signed the orders. I had a duty to sign them.

Many Deputies mentioned the dangers of racism and xenophobia. My record in this area since coming into Government speaks for itself. I have followed on the initiatives developed in the Department during the European Year against Racism 1997 by establishing the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism in July 1998. This partnership of Departments and agencies, together with non-governmental organisations, promotes an integrated approach to dealing with racism. Its structure reflects my view that to deal successfully with problems of racism and xenophobia, we must tackle them in a co-operative and community-based way. It is no harm to restate the abhorrence shared on this side of the House of the evils of [37] racism and the narrow-mindedness of xenophobia.

I have a particular concern that the utterances of some groups commenting on matters of immigration and on asylum matters are unhelpful in both content and tone. Undoubtedly, the concept of Ireland as a country of net immigration, after a long history of the opposite, represents a welcome challenge to Irish society which we should be delighted to take on. However, naive, inflammatory or ill-informed comments of the type we have seen coming from groups on all sides of the public debate do nothing to create the climate of common sense needed for our society to be able to assimilate newcomers and at the same time respect the social and cultural diversity which they bring.

I agree with Deputy Mitchell and other Deputies who stressed the need for measures to integrate persons who are recognised as refugees or are allowed to remain in the State having been in the asylum process. To this end I have set up an interdepartmental committee to examine integration measures. I look forward to seeing the results of this committee's work because I strongly believe in the importance of integration which will be to the mutual benefit of both refugees and Irish society.

Deputy Jim Higgins said that appeals against negative decisions on asylum claims are decided by civil servants rather than by an independent lawyer. The position is that Mr. Justice O'Malley, the retired President of the Circuit Court, had been doing the important work of hearing appeals for many years. When he indicated that he wanted to discontinue the role, I appointed not one but two independent lawyers who continue to provide this important element of independent review. These independent appeal authorities are required to be practising solicitors or barristers of at least ten years standing. I intend to deal with the whole question of appeal authorities in a more comprehensive way when I bring forward the amendments to the Refugee Act, 1996, which are to be contained in this legislation.

Deputy Higgins also suggested that I took away from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the role of assessing each case. That is a complete misrepresentation. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees simply did not have the resources to continue providing such a service and does not provide that service in any other EU state. The High Commissioner asked to be relieved of the task. That is the reason I put in place the current procedures after extensive consultation with the UNHCR on the detailed content of those procedures.

I find it difficult to treat seriously Opposition criticisms of the refugee determination process when one bears in mind that when this Government took office virtually no resources were devoted to assessing asylum applications. Under the previous Government, asylum applicants did not know when or if their applications would be processed. Starting in the next few days, assist[38] ance will be provided by the Legal Aid Board for asylum seekers in the processing of their claims and any appeal, where necessary, and such aid will extend in suitable cases to judicial review proceedings. This service will be located in the one stop shop for asylum seekers in Lower Mount Street, Dublin, which this Government established, funded and staffed at my instigation.

When I came into office approximately 20 people were trying to grapple with the huge backlog of applications. There was one appeals authority and now we have in excess of 130 people processing these applications. I have increased the number of appeals authorities. I will implement the Refugee Act, 1996, and I will bring forward comprehensive legislation in the area of immigration generally.

Mr. Higgins (Mayo): Will that facility be available to all applicants? Will language facilities be available also?

Acting Chairman: Is the Minister prepared to take these interruptions? Deputy Higgins has used up the time available to him.

Mr. O'Donoghue: The one stop shop is available to all applicants for asylum. As I have outlined on more than one occasion, it is necessary to ensure applicants realise they are being understood and, therefore, interpretation facilities are also being provided. Irrespective of what Deputy McManus and others say, the representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees informed me that, judging by what they had seen, we had the capacity to be a model for the rest of the world. They were extremely impressed by what they saw. It is a relatively frequent occurrence that strangers come to this country and marvel at the achievement of our people, whereas some of our own people—

Mr. Higgins (Mayo): I was at that meeting. They did not marvel.

Acting Chairman: The Minister, without interruption.

Mr. O'Donoghue: —seem to denigrate that progress with the same level of enthusiasm.

With regard to Deputy Howlin's remarks about an article in Magill magazine, I understand the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has indicated to my Department that this article was inaccurate.

Many Deputies referred to whether we were getting our fair share of asylum seekers, and Deputy Ring referred to a “begging bowl” mentality. I do not know how Irish people abroad would regard Deputy Ring's remarks. I know that relatives of mine who have emigrated would regard them with the greatest disdain and would feel terribly insulted to be told they were beggars on the international stage. The Irish people contributed enormously wherever they went and it is unfortunate that a Member of this House should [39] describe them as beggars on the international stage.

Deputies made much of the fact that in absolute terms we are getting fewer asylum applicants than many other EU countries, and quoted figures selectively in apparent support of this. In 1997, the most recent year for which I have reliable data, we were well above the EU average and in fact we were in joint fourth place on a per capita basis with Sweden. The Netherlands headed the list. The fact that on a per capita basis – the only valid way in which to make comparisons – we were so high in the table is all the more remarkable given that we are not on direct air routes to virtually any of the countries from which our asylum seekers came.

Deputy Howlin expressed concern at the provision in section 2 which confirms the generality of the aliens orders as they currently stand. Deputy Fitzgerald expressed opposition to the principle of the Bill because it deals only with one aspect of immigration and residence law. This is an interim measure designed to ensure that, pending the comprehensive legalisation I will outline later this year, the State is not left without the protections which the courts have declared to be essential for the well-being of society and the protection of the rights of the people within it. As I indicated in my opening contribution, every state has a well-recognised need for effective laws dealing with the entry, residence and departure of non-nationals in the interests of the well-being of society. The effect of the High Court ruling is that, for the present, Ireland is without one element of these important protections. There is a danger that the international traffickers whose trade is the movement of people will perceive this lack as a weakness to be exploited; they have shown themselves in the past to be able to react quickly to legal and political developments here.

There are people in respect of whom deportation orders had been made under the now invalidated provisions who have not yet left the State. There are other cases building up where the question of deportation falls to be considered, some of them involving persons serving sentences for serious offences. In the absence of legislation permitting the procedures to be either commenced or redone, all of these cases are in abeyance. For these reasons, it is important that this legislation be enacted as soon as possible.

Deputy McGinley said that the attitude was to get rid of them – by “them” I assume he means asylum seekers – as soon as possible. Other speakers referred to fast-track procedures. There is a fine procedure in place whereby applications are given the deepest consideration. Each individual application is examined individually and a determination is reached. Following that determination it is open to the individual concerned to appeal to an appeals authority. The appeals auth[40] ority considers the application independently and reaches a determination. Following that, under our Constitution, it is open to people to go into the courts, and some have chosen to do that. That is their prerogative. Nobody should make the suggestion that each application is not carefully considered and that natural justice is not applied in all cases. It is.

The determination process and appeals having been completed and, in some instances, the matter having been considered by the courts, and an individual continuing to refuse to leave obviously poses a problem for the Government and for society as a whole. The ultimate sanction, which is available in every civilised society of which I am aware, is deportation. That is being approached by some Members in this House not in a dispassionate, objective way but in an emotional way.

Deputy McManus referred to a case which is sub judice and which I shall not name. She stated categorically in the House that people were jailed, were not even given toilet facilities and were treated in a degrading and inhuman way. These allegations may be strongly contested in the courts. However one may believe in one's argument, it is wrong to advance it by putting forward as fact allegations that may be strenuously contested.

One of the major problems with the debate on immigration over the last number of years has been a deliberate clouding of the issues, in some cases by people who know what they are saying is simply not correct.

Mr. M. Higgins: There are also some very good cases before the courts. Let the courts decide.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Very often quite invidious comparisons are made which would not stand up to the test of any logical thinker. It is not for me to make judgments, but it is clearly for me to bring forward legislation like this, which the Government believes to be in the overall interests of the Irish people. There is no question of this country ever reneging on its responsibilities towards refugees. This country has always cared for refugees who should not be confused with illegal immigrants. It is unfair to genuine asylum seekers and refugees to do so. We will continue to honour our international obligations in this respect.

Deputy Crawford said we must remember our past and, of course, he is correct. Every country must remember its history which often shapes the policy that determines its future. Let nobody be under any illusion that in considering one's history one also has an obligation to consider one's future, even though one may not be alive to see it.

Question put.

[41]

Ahern, Bertie.

Ahern, Dermot.

Ahern, Michael.

Ahern, Noel.

Andrews, David.

Ardagh, Seán.

Aylward, Liam.

Blaney, Harry.

Brady, Johnny.

Brady, Martin.

Brennan, Matt.

Brennan, Séamus.

Briscoe, Ben.

Browne, John (Wexford).

Byrne, Hugh.

Callely, Ivor.

Carey, Pat.

Collins, Michael.

Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

Coughlan, Mary.

Cowen, Brian.

Cullen, Martin.

Daly, Brendan.

Davern, Noel.

Dempsey, Noel.

Dennehy, John.

Doherty, Seán.

Ellis, John.

Fleming, Seán.

Foley, Denis.

Fox, Mildred.

Gildea, Thomas.

Hanafin, Mary.

Harney, Mary.

Haughey, Seán.

Healy-Rae, Jackie.

Jacob, Joe.

[42] Keaveney, Cecilia.

Kelleher, Billy.

Kenneally, Brendan.

Killeen, Tony.

Kirk, Séamus.

Kitt, Michael.

Kitt, Tom.

Lawlor, Liam.

Lenihan, Brian.

Lenihan, Conor.

McCreevy, Charlie.

McGennis, Marian.

McGuinness, John.

Moffatt, Thomas.

Molloy, Robert.

Moloney, John.

Moynihan, Donal.

Moynihan, Michael.

Ó Cuív, Éamon.

O'Dea, Willie.

O'Donnell, Liz.

O'Donoghue, John.

O'Flynn, Noel.

O'Hanlon, Rory.

O'Keeffe, Batt.

O'Keeffe, Ned.

O'Malley, Desmond.

O'Rourke, Mary.

Roche, Dick.

Ryan, Eoin.

Smith, Brendan.

Smith, Michael.

Treacy, Noel.

Wade, Eddie.

Wallace, Mary.

Woods, Michael.

Wright, G. V.

Níl

Ahearn, Theresa.

Barrett, Seán.

Belton, Louis.

Boylan, Andrew.

Bradford, Paul.

Broughan, Thomas.

Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).

Bruton, John.

Bruton, Richard.

Burke, Ulick.

Carey, Donal.

Connaughton, Paul.

Cosgrave, Michael.

Coveney, Simon.

Crawford, Seymour.

Creed, Michael.

Currie, Austin.

D'Arcy, Michael.

Deenihan, Jimmy.

Dukes, Alan.

Durkan, Bernard.

Farrelly, John.

Ferris, Michael.

Finucane, Michael.

Fitzgerald, Frances.

Flanagan, Charles.

Gormley, John.

Hayes, Brian.

Higgins, Jim.

Higgins, Joe.

Higgins, Michael.

Hogan, Philip.

Howlin, Brendan.

Kenny, Enda.

McDowell, Derek.

McGahon, Brendan.

McGinley, Dinny.

McGrath, Paul.

McManus, Liz.

Mitchell, Gay.

Mitchell, Jim.

Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.

Naughten, Denis.

Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

O'Keeffe, Jim.

O'Shea, Brian.

O'Sullivan, Jan.

Owen, Nora.

Penrose, William.

Perry, John.

Quinn, Ruairí.

Rabbitte, Pat.

Reynolds, Gerard.

Ring, Michael.

Ryan, Seán.

Sargent, Trevor.

Sheehan, Patrick.

Shortall, Róisín.

Spring, Dick.

Stagg, Emmet.

Stanton, David.

Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Callely; Níl, Deputies Barrett and Stagg.

Question declared carried.