Seanad Éireann - Volume 109 - 17 October, 1985
Request Under Standing Order 29: Proposed Hanging of South African Poet.
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
 Mr. M. Higgins: I should like to thank you for your personal efforts to facilitate the discussion of this important matter. I am asking Seanad Éireann to deplore and express its abhorrence at the proposed hanging in South Africa of the poet, Benjamin Moloise, by the South African Government. I propose to limit my remarks in view of the fact that a number of Senators from different parties and Independent Senators have expressed the desire to join in support of this request.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: I should like if there could be some accommodation made to let the Minister in for 15 minutes.
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
Mr. M. Higgins: That is acceptable.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry) Peter Barry
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry): I am willing to speak any time the House wishes. In any event I shall be present for the entire debate.
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
Mr. M. Higgins: The recent events in South Africa have disturbed most parliamentarians and abhorrence at what is taking place has been expressed at a number of international fora. The European Community has conveyed to the South African Government its concern at the proposed hanging of Benjamin Moloise.
The position in relation to this poet is that he was sentenced to death in June 1983 for the alleged murder of a black security policeman. I do not want to go into the details of the case. It is true that a unit of the African National Congress responsible has stated that he had nothing to do directly with the events that took place. In this House we have all expressed our views previously in relation to hanging as a barbaric punishment that challenges our very claim to be a civilised people and on that aspect alone we should condemn what is proposed. I also  feel that it is little less than minimal consistency with the position taken by succesive Irish Governments and the position represented at home, at the United Nations and at the European Community by the present Minister for Foreign Affairs that we are opposed to the system of apartheid. There is no doubt whatsoever that this hanging is being viewed as an exemplary action by the South African authorities against the opponents of apartheid. It is used to intimidate and terrorise them.
Members of the House will be well aware of the events that have ensued as a result of the announced intention of Mr. Botha to proceed with the execution of Benjamin Moloise. On October 15 he refused a petition for a re-trial despite the fact the new evidence had become available. The events which have followed that have resulted in three youths being shot by the police, another man being burned to death after canisters of tear gas had been thrown into his house some of which set the house on fire and of 20 people being injured. Among those injured were very young people, aged eight and ten, and one dead person was the young age of 15 years.
These are pieces of emotional colour to a tragic situation in which the authorities are seeking to repress the black majority in South Africa. It is disgraceful that in 1985 we are now witnessing the convulsions of a racist system in South Africa. We are witnessing the use of naked force and intimidation against a black majority but in the proposed hanging of this man we find all these events focused and sharpened. It is as if the whole thrust of our foreign policy is focused by what is being proposed. In the most appealing form of death which is proposed, that of hanging, we have a sordid illustration of the besieged Government of South Africa and the desperate ends to which it will go. The State's further acts of aggression against the black majority in South Africa are having the resultant deaths and injuries of which we read.
 I should like to say how much I appreciate the reports in The Irish Times in bringing these matters to the attention of the Irish public who are very interested in the events in southern Africa. I am very appreciative of the information they are providing for us. To think that tomorrow morning somebody can be hanged like this in the atmosphere that we know southern Africa represents at the present time is a great moral moment for all of us and I do not think that civilised people anywhere in the world can be untouched by it. It is as if some great tragedy was being acted out. In many ways this gesture by the South African Government has pushed all the debate about southern Africa past all the niceties of the discussion about whether sanctions will work or the consequences of sanctions or whatever. What we are witnessing is the barbarous defence of a totally unjustifiable position.
I am very pleased the Irish position within the context of the European Community is to join with the Community in expressing a request to the South African Government to think again about their action. What is very significant is that at international fora all over the world a similar expression has been made and parliamentarians and bodies and international groups have equally requested Mr. Botha. It is an indication of the stubborn desperation of the regime in South Africa that they refuse to listen to any of these.
I am delighted that so many Senators wish to speak on this matter. The purpose of the Seanad expressing its concern is that the Dáil is not in session. While I have every confidence in how we will administer this matter through the Department of Foreign Affairs, it is important that the elected representatives in this island speak out, let us hope before it is too late, to add their voice to the voice of civilised people all over the world who are objecting to what is taking place. Whatever result may come of it, it is something we should do. We should execute our common resolution by seeking to contact privately, institutionally and politically, every body and every  institution that we think might bring pressure to bear to ask the South African Government to step back from this barbarous action. I thank the Chair for facilitating discussion of this matter.
Mr. Lanigan Mr. Lanigan
Mr. Lanigan: I am glad we have the opportunity to discuss this matter in the House. It is a matter of major importance for a number of reasons. I am glad that the atmosphere in the House is one of support for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Ministers in the EC who have expressed a viewpoint which is similar to that expressed by Senator Higgins here. What we are trying to do is to reinforce the arguments put forward by the EC against this hanging.
Unfortunately, the world we live in has increasingly become more right wing. In this world extreme right wing attitudes are growing. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth attitude is beginning to emerge. We have extreme militant Moslems, Evangelists, hot gospellers in the United States, the emergence of people like Falwell and the emergence of right wing Governments who think they can ride rough shod over other people. I think the South African Government in this instance are saying that, irrespective of international abhorrence for what they are about to do, they will go ahead and hang Benjamin Moloise. That is a symbolic hanging. It is not the hanging of a person; it is a hanging of the ideals for which he stands. The easiest thing in the world is to stop the dissemination of ideas and by killing Benjamin Moloise, the South African Government think they will kill the ideas and the ideals of the black majority in South Africa. They are going against history when they attempt this. Apartheid has been called a crime against humanity, and that is exactly what it is. It was suggested by another man in another place that not alone is this a crime but it is a blunder, and it will be seen more as a blunder than as a crime when we think of it in the international context.
The scenes from South Africa over the past number of months have been  horrific. The rights of the black and nonwhite South African people are being totally ignored. We had horrific scenes on television last night of a truck being escorted by South African police driving through a township and coming under attack — I am not too sure if attack is the right word — and young people throwing stones at this vehicle. On its return the sides of the vehicle were let down and suddenly armed marksmen appeared from the back of the vehicle and they killed women and children quite deliberately and in front of international television. This is the regime that suggests that this poet should be hanged for his alleged part in a murder in 1983. The ANC have categorically stated that he had no part in that killing and they named the people who did take part in that episode. One of the things revolutionary groups do is admit when they take part in an unpalatable act. When certain telephone calls come to the newspapers in Ireland from “Mr. Black” or “Mr. White” the pressmen realise they are coming from sources which can be trusted. In this instance the ANC have said quite categorically that this man had nothing to do with the events of 1983.
I hope everybody in this House will support the motion before us. It has not been proposed only for humanitarian reasons but in the hope that the South African Government might, even at this late stage, change their minds. It is not in any sense a criticism of the Minister for Foreign Affairs; it is not a criticism of the Irish Government because we have seen the efforts they have made through the EC to try and get this situation changed. It is a response in humanitarian terms to an injustice which, if allowed to happen, will be rued by the South African Government as long as they stay in power. Please God this hanging will not take place. It might keep the South African Government from the brink of the disruption which is inevitable unless they pull back and give the black majority the rights to which they are entitled.
I am thankful that the Cathaoirleach allowed this motion and I am glad the  Minister came in to listen to this debate. I thank Senator Higgins for bringing forward this motion.
Mr. Browne Mr. Browne
Mr. Browne: Ba mhaith liom tacaíocht a thabhairt don rún seo. Molaim an Seanadóir Higgins in aice liom os rud é gur thug sé isteach an rún seo mar tá sé antábhachtach inniu; beidh sé ró-dhéanach amárach de réir mar a thuigimse an scéal. B'fhéidir go bhfuil an seans deireanach againn inniu agus ag an Aire anseo rud a dhéanamh faoi.
When you realise all that goes on in Africa at present and the policy of apartheid which is followed there it is very difficult to feel happy. We should be careful that we do not officially appear to be interfering in the course of justice in another country, because we have our own problems here, the killing of a policeman is always a serious affair. But there seem to be many question marks over the system in Africa. The African National Congress seem to be making statements that would suggest that this man is an innocent victim. This man has grown up in an atmosphere where Africans are victimised in their own country and I appeal to the Minister to ask the South African authorities to commute the sentence and have a new trial. We feel a sense of shame that any person could be hanged in this day and age in such circumstances.
Mr. Botha has mentioned reform and has said they are prepared to do something about it. This would certainly be a first sign that he was going to do something about it and it would give credence to his words. I do not know if we can believe everything we hear about South Africa. I have never been there and I have no first-hand information, but I have no reason to doubt that the stories and horrific pictures we have seen. We are told that the only way those being executed or their relatives know when any execution will take place is when the prisoner gets a different meal the night before. If that is the position, it is horrible. I ask the Minister to do what he can to save this man's life. We would all be the better for it.
Mr. Robb Mr. Robb
 Mr. Robb: I should like to thank Senator Higgins for bringing this matter to our attention at the very last moment. Otherwise we might have let this day pass without dealing with this horrific subject in such an emergency climate. I spent a year — 1966-67 — in South Africa in black non-European hospitals and I know that since then there have been considerable changes in what is known as petty apartheid, but even so there has been practically no change in the way in which in mind the black people are looked upon by the whites. However, in those 20 years the black people have become much more conscious of their power, much more conscious of the injustice to which they have been subjected and much more conscious of the immutable forces that have thus far been held against them.
On the other side, we have the white fear of the minority colonial rule man who fears the sudden swift change to majority indigenous rule and all that that means for him in terms of victory or defeat. We have a great sense of potential violence in South Africa and, no matter what we do, it seems highly unlikely that the next few years in South Africa can be got through without a considerable amount of violence, State force and paramilitary force.
In a recent letter I wrote to a newspaper about the need to release Nelson Mandela — this was following an interview I had had with a great friend of mine who had come from Soweto — I mentioned two things. I said:
The black people are not to be satisfied by living in a society sanatised for them by whites. They wish to determine, as equals, the form of their own society. To do this, they will settle for nothing less than the power that is necessary and which, thus far, has been denied them through the exercise of State violence and force.
In the last paragraph I said:
Like most States, South Africa was created by violence and force and has been sustained by them. Representatives with State guns behind them must  now be prepared to have dialogue with all of those who can show they have a mandate even if such a mandate is from people who hold anti-State guns.
I added as an aside: “Perhaps there is a message in all of this for Ireland too”.
We cannot talk about Ireland in the context of South Africa because although our problem does not seem to be so vicious — at least not yet — it is much more longlived. The South African problem, which is potentially much more violent in the immediate future, has been a more shortlived problem because in the last century — as Senators know — the great trek took place in which the Boers went north because the British colonial interest was pushing them in that direction and they in turn pushed the blacks — the Zulus — further north.
We had various conflicts. We had the introduction of the British in the 1820s and at the beginning of this century we had the Boer War. I mention that to remind Senators that Irish people fought with the Boers — President Botha should be reminded of this today by cable — against colonialism. He should now consider 80 years on what the black people feel like when subjected to the internal colonialism of today.
When we come to this particular case, we have heard Senator Higgins outline its background, we have to consider, are we for or against the death penalty in the modern world. Is there an alternative, even if this man was guilty of what the State accuses him? But the State must remember that there are consequences, if you violate someone, you reap the guilt and remorse ultimately and in the meantime you have got to seek justification for your act through falsifying the wholeness of that man's or group's identity in order to keep one's own sanity.
There is another point which was alluded to. When a person is executed who in his being represents a whole mode of thought, a whole way that a group has of looking, a world view, a national view, one is not only eliminating one person, one is trampling on the feelings of a whole people. This is the danger because if one  tramples on the feelings of people in a volatile situation such as South Africa, then, inevitably, one incurs their wrath. There are far too many black people in South Africa for the whites to be complacent about incurring their wrath any more than they have already done so.
This summer an ex-president of the Chamber of Mines in Rhodesia and in South West Africa, married to a cousin, visited our home and told me that much change had taken place in South Africa. I said, “Bill, I am sorry to say it but because of the record of oppression the little change you have created will create a demand which you will never be able to keep ahead of”. About five or six weeks later I heard on the radio on a Sunday the wonderful voice of a Zulu girl — I cannot mention her name for obvious reasons — who had come from Soweto. I made contact with her. I had not seen her for some 12 or 14 years and then I remembered her as a bright, vivacious person who wanted to engage the whites in dialogue because she knew that the white people had much to give her and she wanted to share with them the light of Africa which was in her soul with them. She arrived in the North a determined single-minded person who would no longer have any truck with compromise short of complete change in the régime in South Africa. About three weeks later the first man, having returned to South Africa and having seen for himself the first riots erupt, wrote that at aged 70 he had got to acknowledge that this is the product of years or generations of resentment that we must now address ourselves to.
The South African Government will not address itself to that by executing this young poet. I suggest that we as Irish people could do them a service by reminding them of what has happened in this country when young men were executed for their political viewpoints and, more so, were executed when they had the poetry and the soul of their country embodied in their own. These things President Botha needs to be reminded of to help them out of the fierce dilemmas  which they face. Do not let us forget that to be president of a minority government in a situation like that in South Africa would be a challenge which few of us could rise to. Let us not forget then that the blacks are utterly resolved and that South Africa will have to work out some day how the various tribal, European and Asian groupings can live together. It will not be accommodated by that change from minority colonial rule to majority indigenous rule; it will have to go beyond that.
I, therefore, propose in the time available to us and through the media — which I would say are fairly thinly represented on the ground, one of the sadnesses of Ireland — that while we have not got a press release, for the time is not available for such, we should send cables, telephone messages directed at three fronts, to every churchman known to any person this evening living in South Africa, to any person known to us living in South Africa and, finally, to the Government. Before coming up here I listed those in the Government to whom one might address onself: the President and Prime Minister, Mr. P.W. Botha; the Minister for Transport, Mr. H. Schoeman, the Minister for Constitutional Development and Planning, Mr. Heunis; the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. de Klerk; the Minister for Law and Order, Mr. le Grange; the Minister for Public Works, Mr. Munnik; the Minister for Health and Welfare, Mr. Van der Merve; the Minister for Co-operation and Development, Dr. Veljohn; the Minister for Defence, General Malan; the Minister for Manpower, Mr. du Plessis; the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Dr. de Villiers; the Minister for Justice, Mr. Coetsee; the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Wentzel; the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Dr. Steyn; the Minister for Finance, Mr. du Plessis; the Minister for Environment and Tourism, Mr. Wiley; the Chairman for the Ministerial Council for Coloured Affairs, Mr. Hundrichse; and the Chairman of the Ministerial Council for Indian Affairs, Mr. A. Rajbansi. Finally, I will read a cable that I dispatched on my own  account, as I felt that time was running short, to President Botha before coming up the stairs here.
Sickened by the intention to execute Benjamin Moloise, I appeal to you at this late hour to peer into your soul and feeling for the conscience of your children and of your people and of their children to come to ask what future for them if you go through with this obscene act of vengeance.
I implore you, for the sake of your own minority people if not in the name of justice, to reaffirm hope for life against death through the exercise of mercy with courage by revoking the decision to execute. I know your country and its people well for I worked among them. For the sake of them all, commute this sentence.
I have much pleasure in supporting Senator Michael D. Higgins's motion.
Mr. Harte Mr. Harte
Mr. Harte: That is a very hard contribution to follow, nevertheles I will follow it. I will start by quoting from a poem called “The Plea,” which I wrote in 1961 on the question of apartheid and what the world should be doing about it. It is as follows:
Come ye to my land afar
And from my bondage set me free
Wait not for word of yes
From a brigand power that be
Hasten to my call lest the race be lost
For I have fear, that somewhere near
There is a ghost that stalks.
I was an anti-apartheid activist around that time and, having regard to some of the things that went on, it is true to say that the cry from the Irish about the injustices of apartheid is not a new one. However, other nations did not listen to the pleas — I do not refer specifically to my plea which was very limited and only published in a very small organ of the media — which might have prevented the rebellion we are now witnessing. Over 25 years ago people were trying to advise nations on the part they could play in  preventing this rebellion occurring. Great nations such as Britain and America with trading investments in South Africa are now giving a greater response to this plea than they gave 24 years ago. However, one wonders whether there is any point in making a plea to a person of the nature of Prime Minister Botha who rules over the country by force. That is the simplest way of putting it. They have not learned from the lessons of Rhodesia and they did not listen to the pleas of the world in relation to apartheid.
I understand the problem facing the Prime Minister because his party and his supporters have allowed the situation to develop in a way which has put him in an impossible position. If the President does too much too fast he will have a major problem with the whites and if he goes too slowly the rebellion will take off much faster and we will see many atrocities being committed by both sides in the name of justice. If the Prime Minister does not commute the sentence of this man not only is he ignoring the pleas of the world but he is ignoring advice handed down through the years that the way to make haste is to go slowly. The Prime Minister will embark on a road which will cause more hurt, mostly to the coloured people, and he will spark off more problems for himself and the inevitable will happen that much faster.
One speaker said that some responsible association had cast a doubt on whether or not this person was present at the scene of the crime and that makes it much more serious. We are at the moment discussing the abolition of capital punishment and there is a broad consensus of opinion here against the principle of capital punishment. If this execution goes ahead tomorrow there will be more brutal slayings. People who are denied the fruits of their labours in the crudest possible way in their own country will inevitably get to the point where they will either destroy themselves or topple the force that gives effect to this oppression. While we are waiting for this to happen the brutal slayings and assassinations will go on. In the long run we will get back to the point of accepting  that ruthlessness brings ruthless results. When one uses ruthless force to suppress all sorts of dissent one is asking for trouble. If the President does not commute this sentence he will throw more oil on the fire. Apart from the political side we must look at the question of hanging. To hang a prson can only heighten feeling. It would be all right in Ireland to say that one is making a martyr out of a person and make a case for it in that way but most of the coloured people in Africa, particularly the blacks, are close to martyrdom and indeed, seem to be inviting it on themselves. The Prime Minister, Mr. Botha has been very foolish. If he has not caution and does not try to get out of his present dilemma, power through the muzzle of the gun will prevail rather than the reforms brought about by justice and the meaningful dialogue that leads to justice. His conduct is strange in the face of a world movement against capital punishment.
A perusal of the Official Report of the Seanad will reveal that I have listed a substantial number of countries which have abolished capital punishment within their boundaries. Evidence has been produced to the effect that capital punishment is not a deterrent to serious crime. Therefore, it is strange that in South Africa, in the face of this world movement and doubt as to whether such punishment is a deterrent, Mr. Botha intends to take this revenge tomorrow. The people will see this death as an incentive towards more rioting and they will suffer further. I join with my colleagues here in making the plea in the name of humanity that the Prime Minister of South Africa. will commute this sentence not alone because of the nature of apartheid but in the name of humanity and the world movement against capital punishment.
Mr. O'Leary Mr. O'Leary
Mr. O'Leary: I support the sentiments expressed by Senator Higgins and other Senators who spoke here today. I am conscious that Senator John Browne has spoken and expressed the views and wishes of the Fine Gael Party in the Seanad. We felt it was important that at  least two of our Members should express views and I would like to add my voice to what the other Members had to say on this matter.
There is a tremendous turbulence in the whole of southern Africa concerning the future political structure under which that country will be governed and the division of political responsibility and economic prosperity between the members of the various races there. The grotesque pictures which we see of the confrontation between the black people of South Africa and Government supporters and arms of the law are constant daily reminders of the depth of the problem in that area and the gulf of understanding which separates the white people in that part of the world from the realities of life in the 20th century. They have withdrawn into a “never-never” land in which they think they can hold back the tide of equality of humanity. They are failing to face realities. As Senator Robb suggested, the difficulty is that when you get yourself into such a situation it becomes increasingly difficult to satisfy people with moderate reform. The violent confrontation which we are now seeing is the natural and logical consequence of the iniquitous situation in that country, over all the years of my life anyway.
It is important to recognise that this is just one of a whole series of capital punishments which we cannot accept as being normal and a standard part of humanity or criminal systems in this day and age. I would be opposed to the execution of any other person in South Africa as I am against the execution of this young man. It does not do anything for the atmosphere in South Africa except to poison it probably to a far greater extent than does the killing of people in the street. It is not seen to be the emotional or instinctive response of somebody acting on the ground but to be a more institutionalised approach and as such in the political atmosphere there has a more fundamental effect on the political realities.
I am opposed to the use of capital  punishment in any conceivable set of circumstances in the 20th century. In the delicate political climate which exists in South Africa to start using capital punishment is nothing short of criminal lunacy when, if it is felt necessary to penalise anyone, perfectly sensible and good alternatives are available.
Whether this man committed the crimes involved is not the centre or core point I am making. The use of capital punishment at all in the context of southern Africa is itself counterproductive and likely to give rise to a greater number of deaths in the approaching revolutionary changes in that country. There are other places in the world where executions have been carried out. A man was executed in the United States yesterday. I wonder how many people noticed that. I consider that to be totally unnecessary also in that society. Against that background I want to support very strongly the sentiments expressed by Senator Higgins and to lend my support to any and every effort which I know the Minister and his colleagues will be making in this matter over the next 24 hours and the many contributions and efforts that they have made in the recent past.
Any of us who have any connection with South Africa should take up the suggestion of Senator Robb and use it to the best possible effect, not only in respect of this case but generally in respect of the problems facing that country which need a steady hand and a sensible approach in order to minimise the difficulties which people of all races, black, white and coloured, are going to face over the next few years there.
Mr. Ross Mr. Ross
Mr. Ross: I join in the sentiments expressed during this debate. I congratulate Senator Higgins for raising this matter and I thank the Minister and all those who have made it possible to have this debate at such short notice.
I would like to express my personal horror at the idea that this man is to be hanged tomorrow in South Africa not only because it is capital punishment but also because it is symbolic of what we  are debating, of the continuous series of capital punishments and the system of justice which exists there, which — I gather from this debate — all in this House will unanimously condemn.
On a word of discord I should say that I find it a little ironic that we should have a unanimous condemnation in this House of a capital punishment to-morrow when this House continuously refuses to give time to the abolition of capital punishment in this country. There is a Bill before this House to do this, a Bill which has been on the Order Paper for at least a year. I find it hypocritical and totally wrong that people, with the most genuine motives — I do not question anybody's motives here today but it is an emotional moment — should come forward and unanimously condemn what is happening in another country — which is undoubtedly wrong — but will themselves refuse at any stage to give time for a Bill, for which many of us have asked time in this House and which has been refused, to abolish capital punishment here. Capital punishment is on the Statute Book in this country and as long as it is on the Statute Book it could be used. Whether or not we condemn capital punishment in South Africa, which I do, I believe that perhaps — I know it is not specifically the Minister's brief — as a result of this very moving, very sensible and very constructive debate here today we might have a response from the Minister about our intentions in relation to capital punishment on our Statute Book because we cannot really condemn the practice of it in another country while it still exists here. I believe that the effects of this motion, unfortunately, will probably not stop the execution of this man or other men in South Africa, but South Africa is sensitive at this stage to international opinion, it is sensitive to the opinions and condemnations of both East and West on matters like this. We are chipping away and playing a constructive role by putting down this motion and by passing it unanimously.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry) Peter Barry
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry): Let me state at the outset that  the Government shares the concern of Senators reflected in the tabling of this motion concerning Mr. Benjamin Moloise who has been condemned to the executed in South Africa tomorrow and I welcome this opportunity to put this concern on record. I wish to advise the House that the Ten, together with Spain and Portugal made a démarche to the South African authorities earlier today appealing to the authorities. On humanitarian grounds, not to execute Mr. Moloise. A similar démarche was made in this case last year and the Ten, along with Spain and Portugal, have been following his fate with great concern.
Senators will be familiar with the main features of Mr. Moloise's case, some of them were outlined earlier. Condemned to death in 1983 for the 1982 murder of a policeman near Johannesburg, he recently admitted, through his lawyers, that he had been involved in the crime, although the ANC have consistently claimed he was not involved.
The Irish Government, while not condoning the crime Mr. Moloise was convicted of, are of the view that it cannot be viewed in isolation from the system of oppression which has been established in South Africa. This case raises the question of the relations between those inside and outside the political process itself, of the injustice inherent in the system of apartheid itself. Mr. Moloise's case has to be viewed against the background of the frustration felt by the majority community in South Africa, their alienation from the political process, the impossibility of achieving advancement or social justice under the system of apartheid. At a time when the Government in Pretoria have claimed to be interested in and committed to reform, but have as yet shown no serious effort to move in that direction, cases such as that of Mr. Moloise are bound to call for very close examination among the international community.
It is to be hoped that the South African Government, with the eyes of the world focused on them as never before in recent months will at this late hour relent and commute the sentence on Mr. Moloise.  I congratulate Senator Robb on what he has done. There is an example which many other people could legitimately follow. We do not have direct diplomatic relations with South Africa, not as a matter of convenience but as a matter of deliberate policy. Individuals can do a lot in this regard, other than what he intends to do — we do not have a day left now, there are only hours left — and continue to do among the Ten. This would be one signal that the Government are prepared to re-examine their position and that the talk of reform in the system is not just words. It would also be a humanitarian gesture and a positive gesture to the majority community, not a sign of weakness. Senator O'Leary said capital punishment is never right. The attention of this House is focused on this particular hanging which is to take place tomorrow. Senator O'Leary said there was one execution in America yesterday, but in South Africa last year 115 people were hanged.
It is perhaps appropriate to take stock and to remind the House what it is that Ireland as an interested observer wishes to see come about in South Africa. The answer at once is an unequivocal one — the abolition of the iniquitous system of apartheid and the emergence in South Africa in its place of democratic and multi-racial society that would harness the energies and considerable wealth and potential of that country for the benefit of all its inhabitants and not just a small minority. In such a society cases such as that of Mr. Moloise, or the many other embittered and alienated persons whom we have seen on television in recent months in violent conflict with the security forces, would not exist — including the incident which has been on television for the last 36 hours and which has been referred to by two or three speakers here this evening.
Ireland is committed to doing what it can to help bring about such a society by peaceful means. The policy of this Government, and previous ones, has aimed at doing this. This policy has been characterised by action on a national level and by action multilaterally, through our  membership of the European Community and the United Nations. There has been considerable publicity recently about the actions taken by Ireland, and the Community, as a means of bringing pressure to bear on South Africa. It is therefore appropriate now to look briefly at the measures Ireland has taken.
The European Community agreed in September on a set of measures both positive and restrictive to be taken in common, with the aim of giving a political signal to South Africa concerning the depth of feeling of the Community about what has been happening in that country. These measures included some with little relevance to Ireland, such as the recall of military attaches and some with considerable relevance, such as the discouraging of sporting contacts, and the cessation of exports of sensitive equipment which might be destined for the South African security forces. The measures agreed were not intended to be a substitute for sanctions or other stronger measures. The measures were regarded as a minimum and the Ten in their statement specifically referred to the fact that the question of other measures, including sanctions remained. The measures were designed to make clear, in unambiguous terms, the seriousness with which the Ten viewed the situation in South Africa and the need for the abolition of the apartheid system in that country and the opening of a genuine dialogue with the representatives of the black majority population.
Nationally, Ireland has set these Community measures against the background of our own measures. Thus, with reference to the Community measures, Ireland for some time has not encouraged contacts with South African officials nor encouraged contacts of a cultural nature with South African groups favouring apartheid. In the area of sport Ireland actively discourages sporting contacts with South Africa, withdraws finance from sporting bodies persisting in such contacts, and has indicated that entry into Ireland will be denied to South African sporting terms or individuals seeking to complete or play in Ireland in a representative capacity. Ireland strictly enforces  the terms of the United Nations mandatory arms embargo under Security Council Resolution 418 (1977). No arms or related material are exported to South Africa and the Government use their licensing powers to ensure that nothing which might be considered as suitable for military application will be exported. In the area of computer sales, for example, assurances are sought that the goods exported are not destined for use by the South African Security Forces.
In addition to the set of measures agreed in Luxembourg, in the political sphere Ireland does not, as a matter of policy, have diplomatic relations with South Africa. The Government do not encourage Irish people to travel to South Africa as tourists, on business or as emigrants. Ireland does not encourage trade with South Africa and State or semi-State dealings with South Africa are avoided. Thus, bodies such as CTT, the IDA and Aer Lingus do not operate in South Africa. In this context also, the Minister for Health directed in September 1984 that health agencies here should not deal with South African agencies or purchase goods of South African origin. Under exchange controls the import and sale of kruggerands is effectively prevented. There are no civil aviation links between Ireland and South Africa.
As far as the positive measures agreed by the Ten are concerned, the Irish Government already pursue a policy of assisting victims of apartheid. Through co-financing of schemes with non-governmental agencies, humanitarian aid is provided for victims of apartheid within South Africa. The Government have also this year made money available to two funds which help to provide legal defence in political trials in South Africa and Namibia, the International Defence and Aid Fund and the Asingeni Fund of the South African Council of Churches. Ireland also provides aid to SADCC, the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference.
On the wider question of sanctions, Ireland has always supported the imposition by the UN Security Council of effective mandatory sanctions on South  Africa as a means of applying pressure to end apartheid. In 1984 Ireland cosponsored a resolution to this effect at the UN General Asembly and has previously co-sponsored resolutions urging the imposition of an oil embargo and a ban on new investments in South Africa. The position of the Government has always been that Ireland supports the idea of selective graduated and mandatory sanctions properly imposed by the Security Council in accordance with the charter of the United Nations and fully implemented.
It is my earnest hope, and I know it is a hope shared by those here today, that the whole sordid chapter of apartheid will soon be a thing of the past in the history of South Africa and of the world. The Government in South Africa can be under no illusion as to the opprobrium in which they are regarded by the rest of the world. The measures that we have taken, that other countries have taken, have been designed to convey that message and to push and prod the Government there to effect meaningful change. An act of mercy at this time, affecting  Mr. Benjamin Moloise, would be a sign that the Government in Pretoria have come to terms at last with their responsibilities to end the brutal cycle of violence and repression that is a product of the apartheid system. I call on that Government there to make that gesture and to give that sign today.
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
Mr. M. Higgins: I think we should record our unanimous agreement with the matter and I would like to thank the Cathaoirleach and the other Senators who have facilitated this unanimous position that has been stated this afternoon, and the Minister for attending. My only concern now would be that this consensus would be conveyed to the South African authorities as early as possible.
Mr. P. Barry Mr. P. Barry
Mr. P. Barry: It was done already this morning, through the Ten.
The Seanad adjourned at 4.35 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 23 October 1985.
Seanad Éireann 109 Request Under Standing Order 29: Proposed Hanging of South African Poet.