Seanad Éireann - Volume 103 - 15 February, 1984
Disarmament and Development: Motion (Resumed).
The following motion was moved by Senator Robb on Wednesday, 1 February 1984:
That Seanad Éireann, appalled at the continuous proliferation of nuclear weapons, concerned at the impact in particular of arms expenditure on the poor of the world, determined to do everything possible to contribute to the resolution of the war in Ireland and recognising the growing acknowledgement of non-violent action as a form of resistance, calls on the Government to pursue a policy of positive neutrality committed to anti-nuclearism, nonaggression and support for the oppressed of the world.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “resolution of” and substitute the following:
“conflicts, and recognising the need to direct resources to the tasks of  development, emphasises the need to pursue a policy of positive neutrality and opposition to nuclear armaments and calls on the Government to support development policies in solidarity with the oppressed of the world.”
Mrs. Rogers Mrs. Rogers
Mrs. Rogers: First of all, I congratulate the proposers of the motion for bringing it before the Seanad. They have raised a number of issues of crucial importance. A policy of positive neutrality is a must for any Irish Government. I have some problem with part of the wording of the motion. Although I agree with the spirit behind the wording, I would have concern about the wording itself. It would be difficult in the 15 minutes I have, of course, to deal with all of the issues that are involved in this very complex motion. Therefore, I intend just to deal with a few points.
First of all, the threat of nuclear war which hangs over all of us like a Sword of Damocles is something which needs to be debated wider within the community and not just in this Chamber. Many people are not so much frightened but are switched off by the jargon they hear when people talk of the threat of nuclearism. Sometimes I am tempted to think that those people who thought up such phrases as “zero option” bring them up deliberately to confuse and distract us from the reality. I was pleased, therefore, to hear Senator Robb, when he was proposing the motion, spell out in grim and effective detail the reality and the effect of the aftermath of nuclear war.
A nuclear war is unlike the other wars we have heard about and know about from history and read about in the newspapers today in other parts of the world. They were wars in respect of which we were all bystanders or lookers-on or read about, but in a nuclear war there will be no bystanders. Winners, losers and bystanders will all be affected equally. Of course, there can be no winners. There are never really winners in a war, but in a nuclear war the winners would be the dead. The real losers would be those who had to live with the aftermath.
 I will turn to the words in the original motion, with which I cannot agree, the words in which the motion refers to the war in Ireland. There are many interpretations of words, as we all know. Those of us who read “Alice in Wonderland” will know that words can mean anything you want them to mean. This particular wording is unfortunate in the present time.
I would accept, first of all, the intention of the Senators who proposed these words and the spirit in which they proposed them. I listened to Senator Robb explaining what he meant by war. I know the use to which the writing of these words into the Seanad Éireann Report will be put by the Provisional IRA and other terrorist groups in our country, for example, groups like the so-called Protestant Action Force. The use to which they would be put would be intolerable. They would be used to justify and legitimise what the Provisional IRA call the war they claim to be waging against the British establishment and against a British presence in Ireland. The war that is being waged is not against the British establishment: the war in Ireland, and there is a war in Ireland, is “against their fellow Irishmen and women”, to quote from The Irish Times of 1 February, and I would add to that, against Irish children. If there is a war in Ireland it is not, as claimed, against the British establishment. It is against the ordinary people of this country.
Therefore, I say that interpretation is very important, and if you interpret “war” to be the underlying conflict in the country and the tensions and social injustices that we have known, the oppression that has been part of Irish life, particularly part of Northern Irish life, then, in my experience in the 22 years I have spent there, there is war in Northern Ireland, because absence of war is not peace.
However, as I have said, the interpretation which would be put on these words, the propaganda use made of them, is what concerns me. It would be used to gain credibility and to claim legitimacy for what in effect is a war against our fellow Irish men and women. I have  referred in this House before to the “shoot do not question” policy. In the recent two-and-a-half months in my own area of Craigavon we have seen ordinary innocent Catholic people shot, two of them simply because they were Catholics, by people who claim to be waging a war against Catholics. We had a rocket attack last week on Irish children at school in west Belfast. The day before yesterday a human being was dumped in a ditch in South Armagh. Those are the actions in respect of which credibility and legitimacy would be claimed if these words were written into the records of Seanad Éireann. For that reason, I would ask Seanad Éireann to support the amendment rather than the original motion.
In relation to disarmament and development, we in this country should have a clear understanding of the need to link disarmament and development. People feel that when you give aid to the Third World it is a sort of charity. Really, does not charity begin at home and have we not got many problems, economic and otherwise, that we could be spending the money on ourselves? That is a sentiment that one often hears expressed, but the fact of the matter is, of course, that it is not for the right reasons, but for reasons of self-interest, that we should be giving aid to the Third World. In effect, if a nuclear conflict were to come, and let us all hope and pray that it does not, it is generally accepted that that conflict will begin or will be set off in some of those Third World countries where there is poverty, and rampant social injustice, and oppression, which lead to conflict. This creates a vicious circle because in those countries, in order to maintain order, the governments instead of dealing with the social injustices and with the poverty and oppression, are spending their resources instead on buying arms from the richer countries of the world, and there are richer countries in the world who are quite happy to supply arms to those Third World countries. We had the scandal, which is all we can call it, of $650 billion spent in 1982 on the nuclear arms race while a pittance of that amount would have gone so far to relieve poverty  and social injustice in the Third World. It is something that we particularly should be shouting against from the roof tops.
Therefore, the policy of Governments should be to help to deal with the underlying causes of the conflict in the Third World and therefore eradicate the need for conflict. We should understand that better than most, because if we look at our own country we can see in microcosm the problem that is facing us in the world. Had we in this country or had other Governments — I am referring to the British Government — dealt with the underlying causes of conflict instead of dealing with it either by trying to pretend it was not there and ignoring it or by dealing with it with oppressive laws and with military might, then we might not have reached the stage that we are at today. Therefore let us remember that if we want to have peace in the world and in our own island we have to deal not with the symptoms of the problem but with the underlying causes of the problem.
Mr. E. Ryan Mr. E. Ryan
Mr. E. Ryan: This is a comprehensive motion dealing with the nuclear threat, the waste of resources on arms, the war in Ireland, the importance of non-violent means to resist oppression, and neutrality. We could speak, if we were permitted to do so, for far more than three hours on each one of these headings. As it happens, this is the motion before us and we have to do our best within a very limited time to deal with them.
On this side of the House we certainly support the sentiments and most of the views expressed by the proposer and seconder of the motion, but because of reservations which we have in regard to wording, reservations which I think are shared by several other Members of the Seanad, we do not propose to vote on the motion, that is, if there is a vote on it. It is the kind of a motion which probably does not really require a vote at all.
On the nuclear threat, there is a very interesting book written by George Kennan called Nuclear Delusion, published by Hamish Hamilton. Kennan was in the US Foreign Service for some 50 years  specialising in Soviet affairs, and he is now a professor in Princeton University. He is a devout Christian who abhors Soviet Communism with all its works and pomps, but he does not believe in the reality of the Soviet threat which is presented to an alarmed and confused western public as justification for what Mr. Kennan describes as “the steady displacement of political considerations by military ones in the calculations of statesmanship”.
In this book he deals with the myths about Soviet global ambitions over the years and demonstrates that they are in fact myths. Unfortunately, these are believed by the public in the United States and have been put forward so often and for so long that at this stage these myths are probably even believed by those who invented them, by the Pentagon and by NATO. Both sides in this nuclear confrontation have brainwashed themselves into believing that their adversaries threaten their way of life, their very existence, and because of this each of them keeps on increasing these nuclear weapons to defend themselves, as they see it.
The recent quarrel in Europe about the type and number of missiles makes no sense whatever. If there is no intention of using these bombs, if they are only a deterrent, then 30 or 40 would be far more than necessary. All that is required, if one is to take this deterrent seriously, to take it at its face value, is that each side should have enough missiles to be in a position to obliterate half a dozen cities on the other side. If that is not going to deter the other side, then nothing will. For that kind of deterrent, the number required would be probably one-fiftieth of what is available. The nuclear submarines would be quite enough to do that.
If, on the other hand, these missiles are not merely there as a deterrent, if there is a real intention to use them, then of course it will be the end of civilisation as we know it. The end of civilisation could be effected with far fewer missiles than are available at present. The only hope for the future of the world, and it becomes a hope that it is harder and  harder to hang on to, is that the number of missiles will be reduced gradually and ultimately dismantled. The present arms race, which is reaching greater and greater proportions, is quite insane.
One should consider, to try and get some objectivity about this, what would the proverbial man from Mars think if he arrived on this earth and inquired what was going on, what exactly were the people of this planet up to, and he found that there were on the one hand millions and millions of people starving and deprived and, on the other hand, most of the resources of the planet were devoted to destruction, at least to the possibility, the probability, of destroying all mankind.
It is estimated that some £40 billion per annum would provide most of the basics for the poor and deprived in the world — that would be sufficient to give them some kind of a frugal living and existence. That is only one-twentieth of the annual spending on armaments. The man from Mars would find it very hard to understand or to make any sense out of what is happening on earth at the present time. We see films from time to time on monsters from outer space, but the man from Mars looking around the world would be justified in thinking that there are far more dangerous monsters on earth than there are where he came from.
The war in Ireland is one of the questions referred to in the motion. Senator Robb explained what he means by this wording and referred back to a very interesting historical proverb. The wording, as it stands, might be misunderstood and indeed might be misrepresented, because, unfortunately, people very often just read of motions of this kind without referring to the speeches that were made which might explain what is meant. Consequently, it is a rather dangerous wording, and it is for that reason that we will not be voting on the motion, even though we support most of what is contained in it.
In general terms, I fully support and endorse what Senators Robb and Ryan have said in opening this debate. There undoubtedly must be a new approach to the problems in Ireland: there must be  charity and forgiveness by all concerned and there must be courage and imagination in approaching some kind of solution. I agree with Senator Robb that the problems in the North of Ireland are part of the unresolved relationships between Ireland and the United Kingdom, and that until it is approached in that way there is no hope of finding a solution to those problems. We all hope that the report of the New Ireland Forum will be a first step towards reconcilation and the eventual solution not only of the problems of the North but of the unresolved relationships between Ireland and the United Kingdom.
One of the other matters dealt with in this motion is neutrality. I unequivocally support the concept of neutrality for Ireland. There have been various adjectives put in front of neutrality — active neutrality, positive neutrality and so on — some of which are rather difficult to understand in the sense that the person using them could mean, perhaps, a different thing from what people listening to him might understand. In any event, I am completely and unequivocally in favour of neutrality. I support neutrality at present in particular for the reasons I have already given. I want no part of any pact or arrangement involving nuclear weapons, but even if there were no nuclear weapons, if we were still dealing with the old-fashioned weapons, I would still be in favour of neutrality. The best way in which we can show our dedication to peace is to refuse to join any defensive pact or defensive military arrangement, because, unfortunately, defensive arrangements very often end up as offensive arrangements. We can make some contribution to peace by taking the first step of refusing to be involved in any military pact or arrangement of any kind.
In the past there has been a tendency to say that any policy other than neutrality would be impossible while Partition exists. I am making no such proviso. Even if Partition had been eliminated, if our problems in the North and between this country and the United Kingdom had been solved satisfactorily, I would still be in favour of neutrality. It should be a  permanent policy; it should be something which we should proclaim as being a permanent and definite policy. This policy at present, with the threat of nuclear destruction hanging over us, may not save us from nuclear war, or the effects of nuclear war, but at least we will have made our contribution to peace by refusing to take part in any military pact or conspiracy, and at least if we are blown to bits we will do so with a clear conscience. Neutrality should be something which we should develop even further, refine even further, and be quite clear that that is something that this country believes in and will adhere to in all circumstances.
There are some other matters in the motion, but my time is running out. I would like to thank the proposer and seconder for bringing this motion before the House. Many interesting points have arisen during discussion of the motion, and we should have some further discussions of individual parts of it when some of these matters can be discussed at greater length and in greater depth.
Senator McGonagle rose.
Professor Dooge Professor Dooge
Professor Dooge: This is the third evening on which this debate has been scheduled. The Minister has come here prepared to speak this evening and, since the debate will be resumed at a later sitting, the Senator will have an opportunity to speak then.
Mr. McGonagle Mr. McGonagle
Mr. McGonagle: I will give way to the Minister.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry) Peter Barry
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry): I thank the Senator and apologise to him. I hope it does not disturb the Chair in the ordering of his business. I welcome the opportunity afforded by this debate to outline my views, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the issues raised by the motion before the House, and to hear the views of the Seanad on these issues.
I have listened with great interest to the statements from all sides of the House. I have been fortunate to have  been present to hear all the speakers so far. I apologise to Senator McGonagle and I thank him for giving way to me. There is no guarantee that I could be here next week, and I understood that the debate was to be concluded tonight. I hope I have not upset in any way Senator McGonagle's plans for next week.
This debate is taking place against the background of two important developments in the international situation: the crisis in Lebanon which, if left unchecked, could pose a serious threat to international peace and security; and the change of leadership in the Soviet Union, from where I returned a few hours ago. These events give added significance and importance to the current debate.
The issues dealt with in the motion before the House are important, complex and some of them seemingly intractable. In the short time available to me, I will not go into great detail on these issues but I will set out what I see as the principal characteristics of the international issues which have been raised and outline the approach of the Government to these issues. I shall conclude by commenting on the conflict in Northern Ireland, a matter of the most immediate importance to all of us, to which Senators Robb and Ryan have made reference in their motion.
The relentless increase in the numbers and destructive powers of nuclear weapons, the growth of East-West tension, the numerous regional conflicts under way in the world, the crushing poverty of a large proportion of the world's population which can only be solved by massive infusions of development aid as several Senators have stated in the course of the debate, all of these aspects of the current unhappy global situation are linked. Let us consider the starker facts. East-West relations have deteriorated alarmingly in recent years. The nuclear arms race is continuing and shows no signs of slowing down, let alone reversing. $550 billion per year is spent globally on armanents. That is 15 billion dollars per day or a little over one million dollars per minute. In other words, since the Seanad resumed this evening some 30 million  dollars has been spent on armaments. This almost equals the total annual amount of money given by this country in development assistance. The stark contrast of these two figures shows how serious the problem is. In the last half hour about 30 million dollars has been spent on armaments and for all of 1984 we will be giving approximately 34 million dollars in assistance. Those two facts alone tell the whole story. Of this, over 20 per cent is spent by developing countries.
Some 40 regional conflicts are taking place. All of them cause great loss of life, misery and suffering. The conflicts in Lebanon, in the Middle East as a whole, in Central America, Afghanistan, Southern Africa and South East Asia show little signs of being resolved.
The conflicts are tragic in themselves for they are never without great loss of life and human suffering but they also pose dangers of a wider conflict. We all know that superpower rivalries are never far from the surface in many regional conflicts, a fact of life which has been brought home yet again in recent days by the renewed intensity of the conflict in the Lebanon. Against this reality of conflict and massive expenditure on armaments should be set the fact that over one billion persons on this planet live in hunger and poverty, sickness and malnutrition. The World Health Organisation's programme to eradicate malaria is dragging owing to a lack of funds, yet its cost over the years is barely half of what is spent daily on armaments.
The scale of the problems outlined by the proposers of the motion is immense and can only be tackled by concerted action among nations. The policy of this and previous Governments has been to advocate and support such action. Before outlining the policies which the Government has implemented and will continue to implement, I should like to concentrate on two aspects of the current global situation which I see as central to any understanding of that situation.
I should like to focus on the interrelated nature of many of the problems before us. Interdependence is an inescapable reality of the current world situation.  We all know that an economic event in one part of the world can have a profound impact throughout the world. We all know that deterioration in East/West relations or even an outbreak of localised regional conflict can have serious and dangerous global repercussions.
We all know that the more money that is spent on armaments, the less there is to feed, clothe or even provide basic medical attention for the world's needy. Senator Higgins made the point that the existing relationship between the developed world and the developing world does not constitute an appropriate base for the evolution of a new peace. I agree. Peace is a fragile commodity at the best of times, and given the economic circumstances in which many third world countries find themselves, it is not surprising that some of them are potential flash-points. At a time when there is rarely such a thing as an entirely local conflict, where virtually every dispute has possibilities of becoming a source of international tension, the need for developed countries to co-operate with developing countries to secure and accelerate the peaceful development of the latter becomes a matter of prudence as well as altruism. I am not saying that efforts to solve these problems should embrace all of these at the same time and in the same context. Indeed such an approach could well lead to no progress at all, but to be realistic about what we can achieve we need a clear identification of the nature of the problem.
In an age of unrivalled scientific and technological advances, in an age in which precision is measured by minute degrees, we are faced with a global situation which in many ways, strange though it may seem, appears to be a product of irrational forces. On the one hand, we hear on every side professions of a wish for peace and for the preservation of human life on this planet. On the other hand, we see a situation in which armaments increase at an almost exponential rate, thus increasing mistrust which in turn makes conflict more likely. In the one hand, doctrines of deterrence have entailed ever-increasing expenditure on nuclear armaments, with the stated aim  of avoiding nuclear conflict and “saving lives”. On the other hand, large numbers of lives are being lost in the Third World, owing to drought, poor medical care and malnutrition. A fraction of the world's annual armaments expenditure could give untold help to underdeveloped areas of the world.
The characteristics of the world situation which I have just outlined constitute a grave temptation to pessimism but pessimism leads nowhere. What statemen must seek is to formulate a policy aimed at improving things. The first essential of such a policy is a recognition that the present world situation is largely man-made. Interdependence is man-made. Irrationality is man-made. Of course there is drought and natural disaster in the world but mankind has the capacity and resources to cope with these problems through concerted effort if the will and commitment are present. The key to such progress is international co-operation. This recognises interdependence and builds on that interdependence in a rational way.
That is the backdrop to the issues which we have heard in this debate. What of Ireland's contributions to efforts to achieve progress and improvements in these areas? We are a small country with limited resources. Nonetheless, it is clear that under successive Governments, Ireland has been able to contribute in a number of ways to support the efforts to curb and reverse the arms race, to promote the resolution of conflict and to help to achieve international peace and reconciliation. We have spoken out independently in the UN and elsewhere on the issues in question. We have contributed practically to the cause of peace and peacemaking through the participation of many thousands of Irish soldiers in UN peacekeeping forces. We have endeavoured to enhance the impact of our own efforts through our membership of the European Communities and our involvement in European political co-operation. We have been engaged in practical efforts to assist developing countries. In 1984 we will spend nearly £34 million on official development assistance. In addition Ireland's activities  on behalf of international peace and reconciliation also engage the efforts of individual Irish citizens through their contributions and activities in voluntary organisations such as Concern, Trócaire and the other bodies which engage in personal service overseas, particularly in the developing world.
I will return to the important question of disarmament and the need to encourage development in the Third World, but first I should like to say a few words about the call in the motion that a “positive neutrality” be pursued by Ireland. I endorse that call entirely, and I wish to explain what I understand by a “positive neutrality”. It is clear that the policy followed by successive Irish Governments in remaining outside military alliances does not imply that we are indifferent in regard to the issues which face the international community as a whole. On the contrary, our position outside military alliances has enabled us to play an admittedly modest but nonetheless constructive role as a neutral country.
As I stated in the Dáil on previous occasions, I believe that this position has facilitated the pursuit of a foreign policy whereby we contribute to the achievement of international peace and security by speaking out independently in the United Nations and elsewhere on such important matters as the need to curb and reverse the arms race and the problems of Southern Africa. In our approach to specific international problems we have consistently sought to have the principles embodied in the UN Charter upheld. We do not shrink from identifying and seeking to help redress instances of deprivation or abuse of human rights throughout the world. Senator Ryan described positive neutrality as standing up for the values we hold irrespective of interests questioned by our commitment to these. I accept this definition, and I assure the House that we will continue to use our neutrality in this positive sense.
From time to time it has been suggested that Ireland should join or seek observer status with the Non-Aligned Movement as a means of consolidating our neutrality. I am not convinced that  Ireland's interests would be better served by such an arrangement. I doubt whether membership would contribute to our being perceived as being in some way more neutral than we are at present, nor have any of the Western European neutral states fit to seek membership or observer status of the movement.
I should like to outline in greater detail Ireland's approach to the arms race. The proponents of deterrence have argued that Europe has been spared from war for 40 years by the existence of nuclear weapons. That may be an explanation but it is certainly no justification for the continued reliance on and expansion in the quantity and destructive power of nuclear weapons and the development of doctrines for their possible use. All Senators have reflected on the inherent contradictions and instability in the philosophy of deterrence. Paradoxically, the arms build-up has achieved the exact opposite of its professed aims. There can be no doubt that it has reduced rather than promoted international security or that it hinders rather than contributes to efforts to achieve peace among nations.
There has been a common recognition by the people of Ireland that the use, any use, of nuclear weapons would be disastrous. Senator Robb has described in graphic detail the consequences of any failure of the philosophy of deterrence. I cannot but agree with him that it would be folly to suppose that Ireland could expect to be entirely insulated from the horrific effects of a nuclear exchange. International concern at the arms race is entirely legitimate and it is the duty of the superpowers to alleviate it through concrete steps to reduce arms levels. Successive Governments have endorsed this point of view by emphasising the need for nuclear disarmament and by proposing measures which might contribute to that goal.
The fact that we have not been part of any military alliance has enhanced our ability to propose measures designed to curb and eliminate nuclear weapons. While in ideological terms and in terms of economic and political links we may be closer to the members of one alliance than to those of the other, in our horror  at and opposition to nuclear weapons we remonstrate equally with both. Neither side must ever use them. It is the shared responsibility of the two alliances to prevent the use of these weapons.
The opportunities lost in the last year in particular to prevent a new and more dangerous surge in the nuclear arms race are regrettable indeed. Both at the United Nations in the autumn of last year and as recently as last month at the Conference on Disarmament in Europe at Stockholm, I pointed to the responsibilities of the two superpowers in particular to persist in their dialogue — a dialogue which they owe by their respective strengths to the rest of humanity. This applies nowhere so much as in questions of nuclear arms control and disarmament and at no time more than the present when mutual mistrust and tension between the superpowers appear greater than at any stage in the last 20 years.
There are, of course, limits to the possibilities of influencing the actions of the superpowers. Countries with small resources such as ours do not dictate to the great powers. They prod, they provoke debate, they put forward arguments, they offer openings for negotiation. Take the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. Ireland played a significant role in the preparation of that treaty. We did not elaborate the treaty itself. This was done almost entirely by the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union. We advanced the idea in a form which the states principally involved eventually found acceptable. We were among the earliest and we are still among the most vocal advocates of disarmament at the United Nations. It is fair to say that on disarmament issues, for example at the United Nations, Ireland has been listened to with interest over the years. The gap between being listened to and having practical account taken of our words can be great. Nonetheless it is true that on occasions in the past, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Ireland's views have struck a chord. That alone would be justification for our continuing to add our voice insistently to the call for nuclear disarmament.
I touched earlier on the effects of the  arms race on the Third World. This is not only indirect through the consequent loss of resource transfers: the arms race itself has spread directly to the developing countries.
As the Secretary General of the United Nations has pointed out, over 80 per cent of the resources spent on armaments is taken up with so-called conventional weapons and the proportion of national resources squandered on arms in the developing countries is growing each year. Since the responsibility for the transfer of arms on such a massive scale is shared between suppliers and recipients, a joint solution must be found. The Government fully recognise the need to direct resources to tasks of development. The needs of the developing countries and in particular of the less developed among them are evident. In world terms we are one of the richer countries. As such we have an obligation to those countries poorer than ourselves. While we have our own economic difficulties we must never forget that the people of the developing world are faced with difficulties far greater than ours.
Support for the Third World is, as I have already stated, more than a matter of benevolence. International interdependence is not a matter of choice: it is a reality. As a country with a very heavy dependence on foreign trade we recognise the value of close relations with the Third World and the fact that greater development should result in new and enlarged markets for the goods and services we produce.
In conditions of interdependence, economic development is crucial to the maintenance of a stable and equitable international system in which relations between states are conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner. Instability in the Third World poses a threat to global peace and stability. Indeed, over the last 30 years most of the conflicts which have occurred have taken place in the Third World, and it is difficult to envisage lasting international peace if the great imbalances in the distribution of the wealth and resources of our planet persist. Our direct official development assistance programme gives tangible  proof of our commitment to the developing countries. The present Taoiseach, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, saw the need for our foreign policy to take account of the predicament and the wishes of the developing countries. Our bilateral aid programme was established in 1974 and a special agency to sponsor Irish people working in developing countries — the Agency for Personal Service Overseas — was also established in the same year with Government assistance. Since then and under successive Governments our assistance programme has expanded. It is fair to say that there is an increasing degree of consensus among the political parties on the importance of our involvement in this area.
Finally, I wish to turn to the question of Northern Ireland. The conflict and violence which most immediately concern us in Ireland is, of course, the conflict which has continued in Northern Ireland for the past 15 years. With its terrible toll of injury, death and destruction, that violence poses a threat to all of us in this island and indeed to our neighbours across the water in Britain. The men of violence, as we know only too well from recent events, recognise no frontiers when it comes to carrying out their murderous deeds. It is all the more important when one considers the lives lost at Darkley, Ballinamore and Harrods, that we all strengthen our resolve to do everything possible to end violence and find a peaceful political solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. It is our determination to achieve those ends which is the main plank of the Government's policy on Northern Ireland and which it shares with all the Members in this House. That same determination has also been the inspiration behind the work of the New Ireland Forum during the nine months it has been in existence.
The Government have repeatedly made clear their opposition to those in this island who make use of violence in the supposed pursuit of some political end. Their activities have served to deepen the divisions which already exist in Northern Ireland and that have been so eloquently and so feelingly and with  such first-hand knowledge put forward during this debate, and particularly tonight, by Senator Rogers. They can only postpone the development of a normal and healthy society there which is essential if we are to achieve the reconciliation of all the people of Ireland. The assertion by those violent organisations, who would claim the label Republican or Nationalist, that they are working on behalf of the economically and socially oppressed has been eloquently exposed for the lying hypocrisy that it is by John Hume. Organisations such as the Provisional IRA and the INLA have by their activities added to the burden of those who are poor and disadvantaged in Northern Ireland. They have murdered and maimed their fellow Irishmen; they have closed businesses and destroyed jobs; they have prevented new investment and they have sought to intimidate the very communities they claim to protect.
As Senators Robb and Ryan recognise in their motion, it is not enough to condemn violence: one must work positively to eliminate anything which might be used to justify it. The violence of the Provisional IRA and its political associates in Sinn Féin has allowed many Unionists and British politicians mistakenly to present the problem of Northern Ireland as simply one of containing violence — as a purely security matter. No Irish Government can see it that way, and it is because we recognise the situation in Northern Ireland as essentially a political problem and a consequence of the divisions in our country that all constitutional nationalist parties regard the Forum as so important. The commitment of the various parties involved in the Forum process is a recognition by us all, in the truly nationalist tradition, that the most effective weapon we have against the forces of violence is the strength and coherence of our own united approach to establishing peace and stability throughout our country. The Forum has already succeeded in a very powerful way in demonstrating the terrible cost to our people of the violence in our country. Violence is the major obstacle in the way of the creation of a society in Ireland where no  part of our people need fear oppression or discrimination. We must all hope that the Forum will now provide the means to a peaceful and united approach to the reconciliation of our people. Indeed, it is from just such an approach the men violence have most to fear.
Mr. McGonagle Mr. McGonagle
Mr. McGonagle: Much has been said about neutrality over the years since this State was formed by men like Tom Johnson, Cathal O'Shannon and Eamon de Valera. The policy of neutrality is the choice of a sovereign people; it remains that way and will remain that way as long as the Irish people recognise the problems in relation to association in pacts, military or otherwise.
Neutrality, as the Minister said — he has pre-empted many of the things I was going to say — is not indifferent and should not be indifferent in Ireland. Again, he and Senator Ryan used the words I intended to use, it must be a positive attitude that is taken in the Irish neutrality stance. By that I mean that internationally this, a peace-loving nation, must go out through its foreign embassies and try to persuade the international forces who face one another over the precipice to desist and withdraw from that precipice. I ask this House to imagine what kind of a new world we would have — again the Minister has referred to this — if even half of the money spent on armaments was spent on the development of the Third World through technical and technological aid and education.
While sitting in Washington station on my way to New York in the autumn of 1983, two chaps with a Bible approached me and said: “What is the biggest problem in the world?” I said one word, “mistrust”; mistrust and probably lies and deceit after that. If the Irish people and the Government can get rid of mistrust they may be on the way towards peace. It is not for me to measure what the American or Russian contribution is to the situation. All I can say is that the American land was not ravaged. The Russian land was ravaged, and while Americans died in Europe, many more Russians died. From my Russian  experiences, the Russians are afraid of the Americans and they are afraid of the Germans. Fear is a very unhealthy motivation. I am worried that the American projection from time to time with the sabre rattling could provoke a wrong response. As a nation we should be able to do much more than we are doing. With all respect to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, our efforts will have to be doubled, trebled and possible quadrupled. We must stick to neutrality. Otherwise the world will be finished. Mankind faces disaster. There is no doubt about that. We have a moral obligation, therefore, to adapt the positive, neutral stance the Minister referred to and do something to bring about peace in our time. The time to do it is now, not tomorrow. Enough has been said along the lines of keeping a positive neutrality stance.
I should now like to turn to another aspect to which few people have given consideration. I ask that mature consideration be given now to this. We are in a new situation since we set up the New Ireland Forum relative to neutrality. Suppose, by a miracle, the New Ireland Forum got the Unionists to sit down and negotiate and we reached agreement and had some form of an agreed new Ireland with the Unionists playing their part, whatever part that would be in the new structure, has it been considered that the Unionists, in order to assert their Britishness would actually propose and insist on the dropping of neutrality and the linking of our resources, whatever they would be, in this NATO and British concept inside the European concept of defence? That must be thought about. What has to be thought about also is the possibility of the Americans selling the idea to the British that Ireland should be united and the price that we would pay would be the dropping of our neutrality. The Americans are actually at it. If I were an American CIA man I certainly would be at it. Even if we were offered a united Ireland tomorrow morning in return for dropping our neutrality stance, the answer must be “no”.
Mr. Robb Mr. Robb
Mr. Robb: Hear, hear.
Mr. McGonagle Mr. McGonagle
 Mr. McGonagle: Our neutrality is not negotiable either with the Americans or with the British but that is something that the New Ireland Forum must look at. They must have a long and mature consideration of what they will do when the Six Counties decide to join us, if and when they do. I know they will insist that the neutrality stance must be eliminated. That would be their price. The question  posed to us, therefore, is this: what are we going to do if we ever meet that situation?
The Seanad adjourned at 8.30 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 22 February 1984.
Seanad Éireann 103 Disarmament and Development: Motion (Resumed).