Seanad Éireann - Volume 128 - 13 March, 1991

Family Planning Services: Motion (Resumed).

The following motion was moved by Senator Norris on Wednesday, 6 March 1991:

That Seanad Éireann urges the Government immediately to set in train a review of the criminal law governing the sale of contraceptives in the light of—

(a) the judgment of 26 February, 1991, and

(b) the implications of the judgement for the spread of HIV infection among young people.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “Seanad Éireann” and substitute:

“endorses the commitment of the [49] Government as set out in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress to review the operation of family planning services and their intention to amendment the law as necessary to make non-medical contraceptives more readily available.”

—(Senator Fallon.)

Mr. Fallon: Before we start the debate, could I just take the opportunity to warmly welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Chris Flood? It is his first time here and I would like to congratulate him on his new appointment. In regard to the business, if there is a Vote this evening whatever time is lost on the Vote will be added to the time for the debate as Gaeilge.

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

Professor Murphy: On a point of order, in view of the momentous consequences of the present debate for faith and fatherland perhaps we should begin with a decade of the Rosary and——

Acting Chairman: That is not in order.

Professor Murphy: Senators Ross and Norris well know their place in a Catholic State.

Acting Chairman: That is not in order.

Mr. Hanafin: First of all, I would like to be associated with the word of welcome to the Minister, Deputy Flood. The time is limited for each speaker. I would like to read from a column by Des Rushe in this morning's Irish Independent.

Mr. Norris: Is he the medical correspondent?

Acting Chairman: Senator Hanafin, without interruption.

Mr. Hanafin: Will you keep quiet, Senator Norris, for once in your life?

[50] Acting Chairman: Refrain from provoking interruptions, Senator.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Hanafin: I hope this can be said without interruption. I am quoting from the column in this morning's paper. I have already given the particulars, and I quote:

Speaking of the condom syndrome, Mr. Richard Branson, in whose Dublin store condoms have been illegally on sale according to a District Court judgment later upheld by the High Court, sent Christmas cards to his many clients and friends a few years ago. Attached to each was a condom.

And now, Mrs. Una O'Higgins O'Malley of Booterstown, Co. Dublin, recalls that a day's outing to the Darling Harbour Shopping Centre in Sydney, Australia, was ruined for her last year. Because in the window of one of Mr. Branson's stores was a print of an old master painting of the Virgin Mary “surrounded by a sea of condoms”.

Mr. Branson is the last person I would look to for any type of value. He has publicly articulated his contempt for the laws of this country; yet now the vocal lobby who are obsessed with the condom syndrome are casting him in the role of hero and he is something of a media darling.

At the same time, the hierarchy are being cast in the role of villains.

Isn't it time we started putting our values and priorities in order?

Well said, Des Rushe, because you said it all there.

I will read from my notes, because I do not have much time and I want to say as much as I possible can. I would like to speak in favour of the amendment proposed by Senator Seán Fallon to the motion proposed by Senator Norris and Senator Ross. The original motion seems to ignore the fact that the Irish Family Planning Association deliberately broke the law as passed by the Oireachtas.

[51] When found guilty, it continued its illegal operation pending an appeal to the Circuit Court. Even after the Circuit Court confirmed the decision of the lower court the Irish Family Planning Association still defiantly decided it would not obey.

The current family planning laws allow the sale of contraceptives generally under medical supervision to people over 18 years of age. The outlets, as amended by the 1985 Act, are pharamacies, doctors' surgeries, licensed family planning clinics, health board outlets and certain hospitals. This seemed to be a reasonably widespread and controlled distribution. I do not think that many here wish to see condoms on sale in slot machines, sweet shops, barrows or any public place outlets.

Professor Murphy: They will not be for public houses?

Acting Chairman: Senator Hanafin, without interruption, please.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Hanafin: The Irish Family Planning Association was founded here in 1969 with assistance from its parent organisation, the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The latter body have a committed policy of breaking the law where it considers that it interferes in any way with the distribution of contraceptives. Basically, it believes in no control whatsoever.

The Irish Family Planning Association have followed the policies of its parent body. Some years ago, in 1984, the chairman of the Irish Family Planning Association broke the law by selling condoms in his Clane surgery. He was convicted at District Court level, appealed the case and lost. However, a year later the law was changed, legalising what he had done.

The 1985 Act, initiated by the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government, was very traumatic in its effects on the major political parties. A number of [52] Deputies were either expelled from their parties or lost the Whip. In 1988 the Irish Family Planning Association set up a stall in Mr. Branson's Virgin Megastore. It knew full well that it was breaking the law but this was its way of challenging it. It took over a year for the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue a summons, which was ineptly served, and the case failed because the summons had not been served within the necessary timespan. Another summons was issued for another offence and conviction followed. The Irish Family Planning Association appealed this conviction to the Circuit Court and lost again. The courts had no option but to uphold the law of the land. If an outlet such as a record store frequented by children of all ages were to be a legal outlet, what controls on distribution would be left? This, I am quite sure, would not suit the majority of the Irish people for whom we are legislating.

Professor Murphy: Catholic people. Be precise, please.

Mr. Hanafin: I will be very precise. As a Catholic — now that you have mentioned it; it is not something I was going to say — I have absolutely no problem with good Catholics, bad Catholics or non-Catholics, but I do admit to having a problem with ashamed Catholics, because if you are ashamed of what you are, you are nothing and out of nothing comes nothing.

Professor Murphy: Usurping the place of legislators is the point, and you know it.

Mr. Hanafin: Mr. Branson is a very wealthy entrepreneur——

Mr. Norris: On a point of order, I understand it is not the practice of this House for individuals to be named without the protection of the Chair. You will note, Sir, that there is no name, there is not even the title of the case. There has been a personal attack by somebody not qualified either medically or legally——

[53] Acting Chairman: That is not a point of order. If there are continued interruptions I will have to call the Cathaoirleach. Senator Hanafin, without interruption.

Mr. Norris: I am beside myself with terror.

Mr. Hanafin: I am really getting at the people who are interrupting me. They will know that Mr. Branson — they tell me I should not mention his name, but there you are — is a leading manufacturer of condoms and only his “Mates” brand of condoms were on sale at the Irish Family Planning Association stall. With Mr. Branson the supply of condoms is big business.

Mr. Norris: May I inquire as to the state of your hearing, Sir? May I inquire if you are conversant with the rules of the House?

Acting Chairman: Please continue, Senator Hanafin.

Mr. McKenna: I would ask Senator Norris to withdraw that remark.

Acting Chairman: I would ask Senator Hanafin to continue.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Hanafin: I have available here a copy of a report from the British Journal of Family Planning. I wanted to read from it. As far as I am concerned, AIDS is a fatal virus and the use of condoms seems to provide a rather illusory promise of safety. I think even the Senators on the other side of the House will agree with me that no one has the right to say that there is a guarantee that you will not contact AIDS if you use a condom, that there is a 100 per cent guarantee of safety with them, because there is not and I have a lot of evidence to back that up.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Hanafin: Could I quote Dr. James [54] Walsh, who is the national AIDS coordinator? He said in The Irish Press of 25 September 1990, when he was asked a very direct question: “I cannot say whether condoms do or do not prevent infection.” Is he authority enough for you?

Mr. Norris: Yes, he is, and I could give you a few quotes from him.

Mr. Hanafin: Another study found a 17 per cent rate of infection with the AIDS virus in women whose spouses were infected with the AIDS virus and had used condoms over a period of one to three years. That is taken from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 6 February 1987, volume 257, pages 640 to 644. Again, according to a recent study at the University of Miami Medical School, 17 per cent of women whose husbands had AIDS used condoms became infected themselves. The reference is AIDS and the Education of our Children: a Guide for Parents and Teachers. I have already quoted Dr. Walsh. I have another quote here. The reference is Crisis: Heterosexual Behaviour in the Age of AIDS, Masters, Johnson and Kolodny. The question is: Does condom use make sex safe or safer?

If we are to give credence to the data from Africa and to our own findings, it is unacceptably risky to engage in penile-vaginal intercourse when one or both partners' HIV status is unknown, or when one partner is known to be infected. In the absence of studies showing that this risk is significantly reduced by the use of condoms, to rely on condoms for truly safe sex — or even a reasonably approximation of safe sex — is blatantly to disregard the facts.

It is irresponsible to claim that there is a 100 per cent guarantee, because there is not. In other studies “Mates” condoms are shown as being particularly defective. I have figures on that too, if anybody is interested.

There are many laws on the Statute Book which many Members here may [55] not agree with. We are free to try to change them. That is the democratic process. We are not free to break them at will. That is not the way to do things in a democratic law-abiding society.

The family planning laws were passed in 1979 following the McGee judgment. There was much controversy about the laws at the time and much more controversy again in 1985 when Mr. Barry Desmond steered the 1985 Act through in a most hurried manner. Laws passed with such division should at least be obeyed. Any legislator who surrenders to blackmail from the Irish Family Planning Association, Mr. Branson, or whoever shows little respect for the laws passed by the Oireachtas and for his own position as a legislator.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Hanafin: I have difficulty carrying on with the interruptions. If any of what I have said is noted, if only one sentence is to be noted or some few words are to be noted, I hope it is the one about the ashamed Catholics.

Mrs. Jackman: It seems extraordinary that a debate on a serious issue like this should have to be conducted in this extraordinarily controversial type mood. It seems that in this country an issue of social nature should be debated seriously, but it does not appear that people are capable of so doing.

Fine Gael support the Independents' motion to review the criminal law governing the sale of contraceptives in the light of the judgment of 26 February and also because of the implications of the judgment for the spread of HIV infection among young people. There is certainly a need to review. We have nothing before us from the Government at the moment to look at; but, when we do, we will examine it and make our views felt. Going back to the legislation in 1974, 1979 and 1985 there has been nothing but controversy and trauma regarding that legislation.

The Taoiseach apparently intended [56] having the amending legislation brought forward as quickly as possible. From what we read he intended to have the age reduced for the sale of condoms from 18 to 16. But it is typical of the haphazard response of the Government to social issues that nothing is thought out or discussed thoroughly in advance. I would interpret the Taoiseach's reaction to the criticism of his party for representing outdated views. We in Fine Gael have suffered over the years — I would like to have the time to air our views democratically — from the pangs and attacks from Fianna Fáil when the whole notion of social change, amending legislation, pluralist society were taboo names to Fianna Fáil. We surely have suffered. The commentators over the last few days have remarked that the legacy of President Mary Robinson's election is such that Fianna Fáil now wish to take on a liberal agenda, but it is not that easy. You either believe in what you are doing, you either follow it thoroughly, or else you forget about it. But you cannot jump on the bandwagon of issues as important as the issue before us today.

Going back over the particular periods when social issues were addressed and looking at Fianna Fáil in action, when Barry Desmond introduced the present legislation it led to the expulsion of Deputy Desmond O'Malley from Fianna Fáil for, I quote, “conduct unbecoming”. Today, when we look at the headlines on our national newspapers, what is happening is that the issues that should be dominating today's debate are marginalised. Health, unemployment, housing, etc. are just put aside. What we are seeing today is a Government not functioning as a Government. There is no leadership. there are conflicting suggestions emerging from Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats but there is no Government response. We have a Government consisting of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats but there is no conformity of views, time is wasted in vacillating, there is a lack of a clear policy and we have the sad and sorry spectacle of the Progressive Democrats partnership in Government moving away [57] from the principles of what they considered then was their new republic. I wonder about the oft-quoted statement “I stand by the Republic” and how the Progressive Democrats see their republic today. Apparently, they did not put any pressure on their coalition partners on this issue, but they do not seem to know where they stand collectively.

Ironically, the existence of the Progressive Democrats party stems from that period in 1985 when the Progressive Democrats Leader, Deputy O'Malley, refused to vote against the legislation at that time. I can understand the people of Ireland being utterly confused. Confusion reigned during the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis. The general public looked at that Ard Fheis as an occasion when they might see constructive policies on unemployment but what did they find? We had all the controversy about the condom issue. I wonder if this was a ploy by the wily Taoiseach to avoid having to address constructively the problem of unemployment. We have 244,000 unemployed and that number is increasing. Surely the Ard Fheis would have been the opportune time to have debated the main problems that concern the people of Ireland today.

When I looked at the Programme for Economic and Social Progress to find where this Government amendment came from, I found that it occupies a line and four words: “The operation of family planning service will be kept under review in association with the relevant organisations.” Interestingly enough, it was under the heading “Women's Health Services”. I certainly would think that the two previous points made, as regards mammography service and a cervical screening service being available to all women, would be spelled out in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. It is a fact of life that in times of recession it is women's health that is the first to suffer, because the man is the bread-winner and his health and the children's health will be to the fore. I cannot understand why the Minister for Health uses the quotation from the document, because I believe the Programme [58] for Economic and Social Progress partners have no business making laws on condoms. I see this, again, as the Government's derogation of their responsibility.

We live in the nineties. The general public are absolutely bored with the issue. I have not had one young person — and I have been teaching for 25 years — coming to me asking about condoms or the sale of condoms. The impression is being given that they have not a brain in their heads, that we must dictate to them, whether through the Church or through legislation. I am worried they will be absolutely cynical at the amount of time spent over the last week on this matter and you may be sure the controversy will rage longer. They will say it is the business of the Government to apply themselves to the creation of jobs and they will ask why the Government are so obsessed with this other matter.

This is a sixties agenda. We give the impression that young people are not responsible for their own lives or their own modes of behaviour. The Catholic teaching is straightforward: if we are Catholics we surely would know where we stand. Why do we always have the State to tell us what to do? I do not believe there is any other religious group in the world that has to wait for the State to tell them how to behave. The teaching of the Catholic Church is there. If people want to obey it, that is their business but if they have not the guts to do that as Catholics I do not see why they should have to be harangued by the State. It shows a complete immaturity of us as Catholics. That is a fact of life and it is how young people see it. They have not been the slightest bit troubled.

The real problem today is that teenage pregnancies are rising. The facts are before us. In 1986, five years ago, one-third of births outside marriage were to mothers aged between 15 and 19 years. When I was debating last week the Child Care Bill I had a statistic from a housing estate in Limerick, which was that one in four of family structures there was a single parent family. We cannot say these things do not exist. I cannot say it because I see it. These are virtually children [59] having to live out mature lives at an immature age. We have to accept that that is the social, family structure in many of our housing estates today. If we want to put our heads in the sand, as legislators we will be out of touch with the real world and out of touch with our real role as legislators.

There is information which tells us there is a direct link between teenage pregnancies and a lack of sex education. I quote: “Teenage pregnancy rates vary directly in inverse ratio to the provisuion of sex education in schools.” While I was teaching — and I was teaching up to September of last year — I was shocked at the brouhaha over the health education programme. It seemed extraordinary that there is so much time used debating whether we should have such a programme in our schools. If we want to educate our young people we must have thorough sex education in schools to ensure that the curricula is relevant to their needs today, not to the needs of the 1960s or the 1950s. I can understand why our young people are so cynical with politicians when they see us dilly-dallying, vacillating over something they consider is not important, because they live in the real world. They are concerned about the job situation and they look to us to create jobs.

The AIDS issue is with us. We might be lucky in this country that we do not have the huge statistics of other countries. There are two million cases in the United States. We do not have a figure here, but we have to agree that the use of condoms reduces the risk of AIDS significantly and that they have a role to play to prevent the spread of AIDS. Thankfully, it would appear we have a lower incidence of AIDS than other countries and we now have a golden opportunity to be pro-active and introduce effective programmes to protect the population.

We have heard enough about the problems of our health services. We should try to remove from those services the huge burden this disease could impose, not to mention the cost if we are not [60] going to take action now. It is not the time for hesitation. The condoms controversy is taking up time that should be spent on the other issue of job creation I ask the question, are we as passionate in relation to job creation?

Mr. Cullen: I welcome the Minister of State to the House and wish him well in his new position.

At the outset, when this motion was brought to the Seanad last week, it was as a result of the judgment of 26 February 1991. There seemed to be at that time a certain calmness about the situation. There was a recognition by everybody concerned that there was an anomaly in the law and on the Order of Business, I called on the Taoiseach and the Government to move in this area. At that stage I understood things were progressing and very definite indications were given as to the outcome. However, once again, a week is a long time in politics. It is with a very heavy and sad heart that I say that.

Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas talk about Irish youth who need to be protected; I will tell you who they need to be protected from. It is from the likes of us that they need to be protected, from the disrespect with which we treat them when we give them no credit for having a sense of responsibility, a sense of their place in society or a sense of maturity. Many of them could teach us a thing or two about how we should behave. I question why we have to be the great moral legislators and why we have to be the people who decide on these issues. I do not believe there is a role for us in this matter. Why should my morals be inflicted on other minority groupings in this country? That is the nub of this argument.

I joined a party that stood for the separation of Church and State and I want to make it clear that I remain true to that value. For me it has never been a question of whether it is worth more votes to opt one way or the other; it has to do with the principles I believe in and I, for one, intend to remain true to those.

We want a pluralist society in this [61] country which should be a society that embodies the idea of a republic. We do not want the rampant republicanism that operates with an Armalite in one hand and a ballot paper in the other. That is not what republicanism means to me. Republicanism embraces all of the people, all of the diverse views, and not only embraces them but actually respects them and tries to make all people feel a part of society. As legislators, our role is to ensure that minorities are given the same status as the rest of us.

I have no particular hang-up about the age question. I was satisfied it was to be brought down to 16 because that was the legal age at which one could get married in this country. If that satisfied many people I had no problem with it. I can assure you, however, that if we are going to end up in a situation, as rumoured at present, where we are going to come up with a 17 age limit as the Irish solution to the Irish problem, I will have huge difficulties running along with a vote-getting, meaningless, exercise of jargon that achieves nothing as far as I am concerned. The issue here is whether condoms are to be made available on a wide scale and my view is that they must be. A machine does not ask anybody their age. The responsibility lies with the person who uses condoms and the sense of responsibility of the young people that you are concerned about originates in the family, in the values given to children. I do not have children of that age but I will give them values and when they reach that age I will expect them to exercise their judgment rather than my judgment, based on the guidelines I saw fit to give them on whether the use of these articles is appropriate for them in their own lives.

Where should they be available? I think they should be freely available in third level colleges and where groups of people meet in the evenings. It is nonsensical for us to criminalise people and try to put forward age limits in regard to the use of condoms. It does not hold water.

There have been arguments about the [62] relevance of this issue to the AIDS question. The reality is that the use of condoms reduces the possibility of transmitting AIDS. That is a fact. I have never said, and I do not think anybody else has ever said, that it is the be-all and end-all of everything or that the use of condoms on their own is the answer to this horrific problem in this country or throughout the world, but it is certainly a factor. AIDS is not exclusive to people who use drugs or to the homosexual community. It is a heterosexual problem as well and let us not run away from that and try to shift our guilt onto other sectors of our community.

This issue affects everybody, whether single or married. Those are the facts and there is no point in trying to sweep them under the carpet or pretend the problem does not exist. Our role as legislators in this area should be to ensure that where issues like this arise we legislate in a way that helps to solve and not compound the problems. It is useless to approach them on the basis of the great moral arguments that seem to get everybody so excited throughout the country. I cannot understand why an argument which was taken so calmly a week ago has reached the levels it has reached in this debate. There is certainly an argument for much better health and sex education in our schools and I do not think it is a question that has to be confined exclusively to secondary education. I think there are certain aspects of growing and living that can be embodied in the school curriculum throughout the whole learning period. We could move forward by anticipating these situations before problems arise.

People have to make judgments for themselves. I do not believe I have the right to make moral judgments for anybody else. I have to make my own moral judgments and I think people are mature enough in this country and elsewhere to make their own moral judgments regarding the lifestyle they want to pursue as long as it does not harm the greater society which this legislation would not do. I am pleading with both parties in Government to see this matter for what it is and not as others would have us see [63] it. This is a clear issue where we must allow people to be the judge of where they want to go.

If this is the response we are getting on the condom issue, I shudder to think where we might be going on divorce. It has almost removed divorce from the agenda and I wonder if there was method in the madness of some of the people who promoted this issue in such a way that other issues such as divorce have been removed from the agenda. We cannot continue to go down the same path we have gone for so many years. We have to face up to our responsibilities as a mature people and to pretend that the problems in Ireland are different from those elsewhere or that our people have not got the capacity within themselves to deal with problems of this scale is ludicrous and insulting to our young people. They have not, as other speakers have said, been running to me with a problem about condoms but to know what we are all doing here. If we could get half as fired up about unemployment as we have about this issue, we might do some good in this country.

Those are the issues we are here to work on but I think we treat issues like this as an opportunity to weigh up votes on either side of the divide. Many people are full of hypocrisy in this regard; it is not a question of principle for them but a question of whether a few more votes might be won from their own electorate. That has nothing to do with building a real republic and a pluralist society. If we do not face up to that, how can we then extend the hand of friendship to other people on this island? In many ways it is beyond my comprehension and a source of sadness when I turn on international television and see them laughing at us for getting so hung-up on these issues. It is tragic and gives a false impression of us. We are a positive people, a highly educated people, a people capable of making decisions. It is the leadership at legislative level that is letting the people of this country down by treating these issues in the way they do. In answer to another speaker, that is the type of pluralist [64] republic that I stand by and I will not betray it. That is why I joined the Progressive Democrats and I hope now to stand up for that.

Dr. Upton: Senator Norris' and Senator Ross's motion is highly reasonable. All that is required is that Seanad Éireann call for a review of criminal law governing the sale of contraceptives in view of the implications of the judgment for the spread of AIDS. I have great difficulty in seeing how anybody could have any problems about going along with that call.

The attention and interest that this debate has generated in the last week tells us a lot about the way we order our business and reveals many of our inherent contradictions. As a number of speakers have said, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, Third World issues, the economy, emigration and the crisis in agriculture have been brushed aside since the carry-on of the last week. The front pages of all the newspapers and the lead stories in all radio and television news programmes have been dominated by this matter. It certainly seems to be a curious way for this country to order its priorities. This issue, which of necessity has to be a fairly minor issue compared to those other great ones, has been pushed right into the centre of the action. It seems to me to have sent the Fianna Fáil Party into convulsions, the likes of which have not been seen since the great trauma of Deputy Brian Lenihan in the middle of the Presidential election. Again, that tells us much about the nature of Fianna Fáil and about the type of people that they have been playing ball with or the type of people who influence them in these matters.

Mr. D. Kiely: We do not control the media.

Dr. Upton: I would accept that. We also have people who are worried about the effects of contraceptives in Ireland but who are totally indifferent to what will become of people when they emigrate. Contraceptives are fully and freely [65] available in other countries to which many thousands of young people emigrate each year and yet people who get themselves into a great big tail spin here seem to be indifferent to emigration. They turn a blind eye to it and behave as if it does not exist.

I do think that the central issue here is health, the question of AIDS and of the growth of numbers of HIV positive people in our population. There are almost 200 people in this country suffering now from full blown AIDS; quite a number of people have already died from AIDS. Approximately, 1,000 people are HIV positive; all the experts tell us that AIDS spreads exponentially. That has been the pattern in other countries and we are not going to be any different regarding the extent or the manner in which AIDS will spread. Fortunately, the instance of AIDS in this country is not as great as in other countries and that is another incentive to do everything possible to damp down the spread of the disease.

Professor Conroy: I wonder why it is so low in this country. It is an interesting point.

Dr. Upton: It is, indeed, very interesting. There are all sorts of reasons why that is so. Experts, including an Irish expert on radio the other morning, tell us that the availability of condoms helps to prevent the spread of AIDS. Anyone who knows the minimum about the way the infections are spread would have to concede that point.

Earlier, Senator Hanafin was quoting some data from one of the thousands of medical journals which he seems to have been pursuing prior to his speech; certainly he was well armed. With all the journals he would do justice to the best of the medical scientists by the way he was geared up. I accept that there is an element of failure but there is no doubt at all that condoms do help to diminish the risk of the spread of AIDS. I think the Legislature has an obligation to face up to that reality and I believe that making condoms more widely available [66] will undoubtedly play a role in helping to curb this terrible problem.

There are a number of other aspects which I think have been glossed over. We are pathetically inadequate on the question of AIDS education. We have had a row on this matter as well during the last year to illustrate the way we are in case there was any doubt on that issue. AIDS education is very poor at school level and for the general public. Most Irish people do not seem to me to have a clue as to how infection is spread and it is very important that the average person should have some such understanding. The only people in this country who seem to have been realistic about facing up to the problem and trying to come to grips with it have been the homosexual community. They seem to have a very effective education programme which seems to have worked very well for them. There is a lot to be learned from the way they approached the provision of AIDS education.

Some people have got themselves into a terrible tail spin about all of this. One simple point which should not be forgotten is that there is no obligation on anybody to purchase or to use contraceptives. That is a statement of the absolutely obvious. I see such matters as matters of private morality and it is imperative that the Church and State in this country be separated. The last thing we want in this country is a theocracy.

People talk in terms of Catholic politicians being seriously influenced by Catholic thought and if such thought takes precedence over notions that relate to the common good I think we are going down a very slippery and dangerous road. I think that many of the people who will give you that line of argument would be the same people who would be appalled and shocked if Catholics were to be discriminated against in other jurisdictions where Catholicism was not the dominant religion.

There is an element of double thought in some of the lines which have been pushed out as to how legislators should be influenced by their own private morality. [67] Legislators in this country have an obligation to legislate for the common good and our party has as good and as fine a record as any party on that matter. If we are to become political about the whole thing we must consider what went on during the earlier debates on this matter and during the divorce debate and in many ways what is happening now to Fianna Fáil. Somebody said to me that it could not happen to a nicer party. Some of the chickens are now returning home to roost.

Professor Conroy: I would like to welcome my colleague. We worked together for many years in Tallaght and the Minister has demonstrated by his work, first as a councillor and then as a TD, his diligence, his aptitude and his outstanding abilities. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will carry them through as a Minister of State and no doubt in due course as a Minister. He is very welcome here on his first visit to the Seanad.

It would seem as though the debate which we are having has stirred up quite a lot of emotion and I suppose when emotion comes in reason very rapidly departs. Certainly, listening to many of the comments one wonders at times whether we are living in the real world. I have no great problem with the motion. I think one of the fundamental aspects here is freedom of conscience and of behaviour so long as this behaviour does not do damage or is not malign in its effects on others, particularly, perhaps on children. The motion, however, improves the matter. The amendment improves the motion and the motion as phrased is perhaps a little disingenuous.

First of all, as regards the law, we are fortunate to be living in a democracy. The majority of countries are not democracies; their people have to accept whatever is given to them. We are fortunate to be one of those minority countries in which we can democratically decide upon our laws. We have certain laws which may need to be changed, but breaking them does not seem an appropriate method of change in a democracy when [68] we have the opportunity to change them by democratic means. Nonetheless, we have a particular responsibility in a democracy to guarantee freedom of conscience and of behaviour in so far as that is possible and especially when there happens to be one dominant religion or philosophy. If we really believe, as I am sure we all do in this House, in the unity of our country we have to give thought to those who may have differing views. I believe in the republic, that is the unity of the Republic of Ireland. That means that the people have to be considered and must have freedom of conscience and of behaviour where these do not impinge in a damaging or malign manner on others, particularly on children.

There has been a lot of talk about Church and State. I find some of it a little difficult to follow. As a legislator I certainly believe that there must be a separation between Church and State. We are here to legislate for the people as a whole, not for any particular religious group, irrespective of whether they be 1 per cent or 99 per cent. That does not mean that we are not supposed to inform our consciences or do as we believe right, or that if we happen to belong to one Christian denomination that we must reject the morality and views of that particular religion. There are times when it would seem as though if the Bishops of this country have the temerity — it is almost a temerity now — to express their views, many politicians immediately jump on the bandwagon to condemn these views and even, apparently, to condemn intolerantly the right and, indeed, the duty of the Bishops of any denomination or clergy to express what they consider to be the appropriate morality. It is up to us as legislators to decide whether we accept them or not but they have every right to express their views and indeed a duty to express their views.

We tend at times to talk about divisions but basically all of us in the western countries believe in what is a Christian or perhaps more correctly, a Judaeo-Christian ethos, a Judaeo-Christian philisophy. We may tend to think that we are different from each other but that is [69] the basis of our philosophy. It is only if you go to live in, say, a Moslem country or a Buddhist country, that you realise that there are totally different concepts of philosophy and religion from those taken as the norm in these western countries by people who are not necessarily religious but who would describe themselves not merely as agnostic but as atheistic. Perhaps we should emphasise a little more the general broad basis of philosophy which most of us tend to accept in these countries and which may, at times, lead us to be quite intolerant of other views.

There has been a certain amount of reference to unemployment and the subject of family planning, emotional as it is, also has a very specific economic basis. Earlier this afternoon I was talking with some officials from the Chinese People's Republic. There they have a very definite Government family planning policy and philosophy for, from their point of view, very good reasons. They have a population approaching 1.2 billion and they are endeavouring, with extremely severe penalties, to ensure that families have only one child. In France there is already a premium or a subsidy available to encourage larger families. There you have, for economic reasons, two different approaches.

It is very easy for western liberals to go out to Africa or to various parts of Asia to talk about family planning and indeed to try to enforce or implement it. Perhaps these countries should have the opportunity to work out their own philosophies; our intrusion is sometimes resented on the grounds that we, wealthy and rich and in a situation in which we can freely decide to have either a small or a large family, are trying to impose a form of cultural colonialism. Often we do it without the least realisation that this may be the perception of the people concerned; in Africa or Asia the presence of a large family may be of considerable social and economic importance.

I will now turn to the matter of AIDS. I feel that it is totally inappropriate that AIDS should be brought in in this connection. I am sorry to have to say [70] that but I think that people should have freedom of conscience and of behaviour to have condoms available to them if that is what they so wish, and to make use of them or not as the case may be. If AIDS had never occurred, people should still have that right. However, since a point is made of it in the motion, by reference to HIV, let us think about the transmission of AIDS. It can be transmitted, for example, in the course of a surgical operation or during the course of a dental extraction. It can be transmitted by injection and hence drug addicts tend to be a major portion of the population suffering from AIDS. It can be transmitted, as we have seen so tragically, by a blood transfusion. It may come in the course of an assault, if a person is bitten or attacked. It may come, as so often happens, through the form of sexual behaviour which male homosexuals indulge in. As it happens, this is probably the commonest form of transmission, but it is an entirely——

Mr. Norris: Not on those scales, as I am quite sure the Senator would know if he consulted the World Health Organisation statistics. It is overwhelmingly transmitted through heterosexual intercourse.

Professor Conroy: I am perfectly happy to argue that point but I do not think there is any question that the origin of AIDS was — I have said that deliberately — an accident of the form of sexual relationship. It certainly has spread very widely since and it spreads by blood happening to come in contact with other blood. That is a simple physiological fact whether Senator Norris wishes to accept it or not. I am sorry to hear Senator Norris interrupting in such a manner. I was endeavouring to take it in a fairly balanced and easy manner.

Condoms should be a matter of conscience and should be freely available to people. It should not be a matter of AIDS, one way or another. It is certainly beneficial in certain types of homosexual intercourse to wear condoms and it may [71] be also of some benefit in heterosexual intercourse.

Mr. Ross: May I say that I regret that Senator Hanafin who feels so strongly about this issue chose to spend more time debating it at the Fianna Fáil Parliamenary Party than he did in this House this evening. It is insulting to this House that Senator Hanafin can put himself forward——

Acting Chairman (Mr. McKenna): I have to remind the Senator that it is not proper procedure to refer to any Senator who is absent from the House for whatever reason.

Mr. Ross: He departed. I was not referring to his absence.

Professor Conroy: Presence or absence.

Acting Chairman: The position is that you know the rules as well as I do. In fact, on occasion the Senator would purport to know them better. The position is that you should not refer to a Senator who is absent from the House.

Mr. Ross: If he was here I am sure he could speak for himself.

Acting Chairman: That is exactly the point.

Mr. Ross: It is a pity that he spent so much time in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party today pushing forward his point of view. It is a pity that he read his speech this evening and decided that it was not worth listening to the views of the Opposition.

Acting Chairman: I remind the Senator again it is not proper procedure to refer to a Senator who is absent from the House.

Mr. Ross: If Senator Hanafin does not wish to hear the views of those opposed to him without referring——

[72] Acting Chairman: You do not know the views of Senator Hanafin. I remind the Senator that he should not refer to any Senator who is absent from the House, irrespective of who that Senator is, I would extend the same privilege to Senator Ross and defend him in the same way.

Mr. Ross: Thank you. I listened with great interest to what Senator Hanafin had to say. I regret very much what he had to say this evening and I regret that he will not hear what I have to say. I regret that he did not hear the views of the Opposition. What has happened in this debate is a very sick type of a joke for this country. Senator Cullen, in an excellent speech, put his finger on what is happening: we are making complete international fools of ourselves over this issue. The international interest focused on this issue in the last two weeks is quite extraordinary. The reason international interest has focused on this issue is not because it is a great momentous issue of the day internationally, but because we are odd and we look quaint. It is because we are completely out of step with the rest of Europe. I read some of the international newspapers and their interest in us is that we are quaint little country behaving rather strangely. We are making fools of ourselves internationally. It is quite extraordinary to those outside this country that an issue that superficially is as trivial as this is causing so much fuss in this country and internally in the political system. That is something which the Fianna Fáil Party, of all parties, but not exclusively, should bear in mind when they publicly bare their breasts on this issue.

It is important to look at what the perception of this must be in Northern Ireland. It is that we are a Roman Catholic, denominational, theocratic State. I have not heard anybody who has convinced me that is a wrong perception. The perception among those to whom I have spoken, and in the Northern Ireland newspapers is that once again the Roman Catholic Church, the Hierarchy, have flexed their muscles and the Fianna Fáil [73] Party have jumped. That is the perception and that is to a large extent what has happened in this debate. It is very difficult to listen to Senator Conroy talking about wanting the unity of this country when he is doing absolutely nothing to convince those in the North that he is doing anything about achieving a pluralist society. What has happened in the last week is that we have confirmed the suspicions of those in Northern Ireland that issues of private morality are dictated by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy. They have plenty of evidence for that already. We had massive and farcical problems in every debate on family planning. I cannot remember how many Bills we had, but we had one in 1975, 1979, 1985 and we are to have another one in 1991 — four Bills in a few years and we still have not cleared up the mess.

Every single time this issue arises we get into the most extraordinary contortions both within the governing party and among ourselves in other ways.

The same situation, as Senator Cullen says, will arise if we touch the issue of divorce later this year. It is quite obvious that the Fianna Fáil Party are unfit to tackle the issue of divorce later this year if they cannot solve a small problem. The only problem that seems to worry them is the age at which people should use condoms. If they cannot solve that problem without internal wranglings and difficulties, which are still unresolved, they are totally ill-equipped, both intellectually and emotionally, to deal with the problem of divorce which apparently they are hinting at tackling later this year. What is necessary for the Government is to reassure those people for whom Senator Conroy protested such affection that they are not threatened by a theocratic State in the Republic. That reassurance is not forthcoming. I do not say that as a denominational member of the Church of Ireland. I have to make a confession, I am a member of the Church of Ireland but I do not have a clue what the Church of Ireland's view of family planning is. I do not know what it is and I do not care what it is. It is not my [74] business and I would not take any notice of it if they expressed——

Professor Murphy: On a point of information, the difference is that his Church has put their bishops long since in their place; we have yet to do so.

Mr. Ross: I was encouraged initially by the Taoiseach's announcement when he said that he would reduce the age to 16. I was encouraged by the informal attitudes and statements that this issue was once and for all going to be taken off the agenda. It was almost as if was a fait accompli. There would be more outlets and condoms would be more freely available. Sixteen was to be the age. I was very encouraged by the fact that the Taoiseach said on radio, and before that, that he had no intention of consulting the Hierarchy on this issue. For whatever reason — I do not want to give him too much credit — he had decided that on this issue he was going for the liberal ground and adopting a new attitude, presumably to take this awkward problem off the agenda. In fact, having said that he would not consult with the Hierarchy, he has done nothing else in the last week. There has been a very public consultation with the Hierarchy and a very public point of view expressed by them.

Even after the initial statements made by the Fianna Fáil Leader it was stated that they were not going to bow the knee to the Hierarchy. They have now retreated. It seems that for some extraordinary reason after this public controversy the Hierarchy only had to flex their muscles, call on Senator Hanafin and a few others to mobilise the troops and, abrakadabra, the age was no longer to be 16 or less and the Taoiseach was in a full and disorderly retreat. The public perception is that pressure was brought to bear on members of the Fianna Fáil Party during the Ard-Fheis. Others speak quite openly about the number of telephone calls they had, whether orchestrated or not I do not know, but it is quite clear that pressure was brought to bear and a campaign was run in the last week which caused the [75] Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil to retreat and change their minds. The issue, albeit initially trivial, has split the Government and the only possible choice which they have left themselves is to retreat. That is regretted.

As regards the AIDS virus, I am one of the few people in this House who does not know much about it. There are many experts and the people I tend to listen to are doctors, the World Health Organisation and the Paris Centre for AIDS Research. There is one stark fact which sticks out, and that is condoms prevent AIDS. It is quite simple and I do not think there is any need to go further than that. It does not take an enormous amount of intelligence to conclude that the restriction of condoms will promote the AIDS virus. That is quite simple and straight forward. We must accept the terrible responsibility that we are allowing people to get AIDS who would not normally do so if they had access to condoms. That is something the Government party refuse to face up to because of spurious pressure from the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, the Church and religious scruples.

We must face the fact that the sexual activity of young people is far more intense and starts much younger than it used to. We should not take our policy in this area from people who are all over 60, or more. The principal players in this controversy appear to be the Archbishop of Armagh who is over 70, the Taoiseach who is 65, Dr. Desmond Connell whose age I do not know and Senator Hanafin. They are all very noble people but I do not believe for one moment that they are qualified to speak on the issue of condoms. This should come from people who are experts in the field and from people who are in the way of using them rather more frequently than those I have named.

I appeal to the Taoiseach and to Fianna Fáil to have a free vote. It has already been said by the Progressive Democrats that they would allow a free vote. I do not know the views of the other parties. I would remind the Fianna Fáil Party that although the Taoiseach has already said [76] that there should not be a free vote on this issue, there was, I think I am correct in saying in 1979 a Deputy James Gibbons who decided, courtesy of the Taoiseach of the day, that he would take it upon himself to vote freely on this issue. He did not vote for the Taoiseach's Family Planning Bill in 1979. For the Fianna Fáil Party there is a noble precedent for a free vote on this issue and I would make a plea that they consider doing that.

Acting Chairman: I understand Senator Kiely wishes to share some of his time with Senator Ó Cuív.

Mr. D. Kiely: I welcome the Minister to the House. It was interesting to listen to Senators, in particular the last speaker, who seem to know more about the Fianna Fáil organisation than the members of Fianna Fáil. They seem to know more about what goes on at the parliamentary meetings than the members of Fianna Fáil. I wonder what kind of information the last speaker is getting. I was at the party meeting all morning and I did not hear anything about free votes or about anything else he mentioned. The Taoiseach did not say he would reduce the age limit to 16 as was stated. People might say that Fianna Fáil want to bury their heads in the sand and forget about the very serious problem that exists, whether it is the AIDS disease or other diseases which are on the increase as well. We definitely do not. The way the media have been prompting this issue over the last week one would think the only sexually active people are those between the ages of 16 and 18. Where in the name of God are we going? If the media were really interested in our young people they would highlight unemployment and emigration. I have never heard as much rubbish about condoms as I heard in the last six weeks, whether on television or Kerry Radio.

We had a very important Ard-Fheis over the weekend. The condoms issue seemed to be the main issue. What was debated at that conference was not highlighted. There were very important issues debated, far more important than the use [77] of condoms. There is a problem and this party are facing up to it. There should be wider availability of condoms. If 50 per cent of pharmacists feel for moral reasons, or whatever, that they do not want their shops used as outlets for these items then the outlets should be broadened to other registered people. I do not believe there should be dispensing machines in disco clubs or bars. They should be properly controlled. I know of several seaside resorts where there is only one chemist shop in the town and, for moral reasons, the owner will not sell condoms.

There are problems in large housing estates with marital breakdowns, broken homes and so on. One is inter-related with the other. As was stated earlier, perhaps we should have more education in schools about the sexual diseases that are rampant. I do not think that condoms will prevent these problems. We are not running away from anything. We have family planning legislation. The Programme for Economic and Social Progress is in place. We will face up to the realities and move with the times as we have always done.

Éamon Ó Cuív: Five minutes is not adequate time in which to deal with this subject in detail. I intend using my five minutes to set the tone of the debate and make a few points about the way various people are trying to manipulate the debate.

Those who do not believe in the total liberalisation of the law are classed as doing so either because of the Hierarchy or because they lack the courage to do otherwise. This problem should be approached from the point of view of the common good. Just as I would respect the views of Opposition Senators who would be diametrically opposed to my views on various matters, they should, in turn, not only accept the bona fides of people in this House who disagree with them but also accept the bona fides of members of the various Churches, including the Hierarchy, who speak out in what they believe to be the interests of the common good.

[78] There is a certain amount of unreality about this debate. There is no doubt that condoms are readily available and all age groups have access to them. If that is not so in Dublin, it is certainly so in rural Ireland.

Mr. Norris: Not according to the members of the Senator's party.

Éamon Ó Cuív: It is totally unacceptable to certain people that there should be any control or regulation in relation to access to condoms, but those same people do not call for a change in the law in relation to underage drinking or purchasing a lottery ticket. I do not understand why people cannot admit that there could be a properly sustained view that it is in the interests of the common good that access to condoms would not be available to people under 18 years of age. As the parent of a young family, I am very conscious of the problems of peer pressure and all the pressures that young people face today. I am also very conscious, as somebody who has experience of dealing with young people and adults in various capacities, of the peculiarities of human behaviour and the way people act on the spur of the moment and become subject to pressure.

This problem must be approached in the interests of the common good. If that coincides with the teaching of one Church, so be it. Just as I believe in having controls on underage drinking, even though I would give alcohol to my own children in certain circumstances, I believe in having general controls on access to condoms but there is also the concept of free conscience and allowing adults make up their own minds on basic issues. My view is based on what I see as the overall common good and is in the interests of placing an ideal before our young people.

Mr. Norris: Whatever about the motion being disingenuous the amendment with its unctuous and irrelevant tone is clearly disingenuous. I would like to deal with a couple of the arguments that were raised. I am amazed that [79] Senator Conroy, a man of medical eminence, is unaware of the global facts. I would like to place on the record of this House what the authoritative facts are from the World Health Organisation.

One-third of the eight to ten million people currently estimated to be infected with HIV, the virus which leads to AIDS are women, according to the World Health Organisation. Overwhelmingly, they have contracted the virus through heterosexual intercourse which globally is the major route for HIV transmission, apparently for about 60 per cent of the infections by 1990. The World Health Organisation expects that 75 to 80 per cent of HIV infections will have resulted from heterosexual intercourse by the year 2,000. That knocks comprehensively on the head what Senator Conroy had to say. I presume it will also deal with the Irish Independent drama critic to whom I will return later.

There is no doubt that there are political repercussions from this debate. Last week, as Senator Cullen indicated, we were in a different situation where there were indications that Fianna Fáil were moving towards what An Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, described at the Ard-Fheis as a progressive and pluralist society. It is clear that we have backtracked from that in response to the intervention of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. It is a sectarian matter and the law is sectarian in that it endorses and finances only those methods of contraception that are approved by the Roman Catholic ethos. So let us be quite honest about this and let us understand what the impact will be on Northern Ireland. Let us understand also the nature of that intervention.

Bishop Comiskey said that the country would be morally and financially bankrupt if it introduced the kind of legislation the Government contemplated. Dr. Connell said that the people of Ireland would be disenfranchised — a curious view of parliamentary democracy if the legitimate actions of parliamentarians are held to disenfranchise the people. Bishop [80] Newman of Limerick said he was nauseated by the Taoiseach's speech. I could give more quotations but that seems to be intemperate language. I will place on the record what members of the different Churches have to say and I will ask if it is not possible to allow some kind of freedom of choice in these areas or is it necessary, as one of the Bishops indicated, to sustain the weak and fragile members of one Church who are apparently unwilling to listen to the moral precepts and guidance of their ecclesiastical leaders by the use of the criminal sanction of the law.

I refer to the Minister's speech where he claimed for himself all kinds of honourable things as a tissue of fiction. He said that prevention through a health education strategy was aimed specifically at the young and at risk groups. This educational programme was instituted late in 1990, ten years after the epidemic commenced and is targeted at the intravenous drug using population principally. There is no programme for the gay community. There is no funding for the gay community. There is a policy at Government level, and I am aware of it, not to institute an educational programme in the gay community and not to finance it. There has been an allocation of £250. The mere suggestion of the word “gay” is enough to kill financing for any project and we have classic examples of it, including the starving of finances to the Hirschfeld centre which Ministers are prepared to compliment and flatter and yet in defiance of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Women's Rights, in defiance of two resolutions of this House and in defiance of the support given by Dublin Corporation, all funding is just thrown in the bin. So let us not have any nonsense. This funding does not exist. We discriminate against them.

We are told about all kinds of wonderful care and management programmes. There is no integrated hospice care. What there is, in fact, is the use of the general nursing services which are already over-stretched in the community. There is no provision of extra care. So let us knock that one on the head. There is [81] supposed to be a strategy in line with that adopted in all advanced countries, according to the Minister. The recommendation of the WHO is for an integrated strategy bringing into place all the different bodies, both statutory and voluntary. This does not exist here at all and the Minister knows it. What we have is some curious co-ordinating body admittedly with an excellent man in charge, Dr. James Walsh. He has my sympathy. There is one thing on which all sides of the House would agree and that is the remarkable contribution of Dr. Walsh in attempting, with very limited resources and virtually no political assistance, to fight this epidemic.

I will place the figures on the record. In January 1988 there were 32 cases of AIDS. In January 1989 there were 69; in November 1989 there were 111 and in November 1990 there were 174. For February 1991 the latest figure is 186 cases of full blown AIDS. In January 1988 there were 14 deaths; in January 1989 there were 31; in November 1989 there were 53 and in November 1990 there were 75. The latest figure for deaths is 77. The infection rate known is 692 in January 1988; 787 in January 1989; 886 in November 1989 and 1,005 in November 1990. The latest figure, for December, is 1,020. That is one in every 4,000 members of the population. It is internationally known that there is a multiplier factor of 3 to 4. That is one in every thousand. If you subtract those at both ends of the age spectrum you are into a very frightening situation indeed.

Mr. Lydon: It shows how much fornication goes on——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Norris: We must take into account the serious situation with regard to the prevalence of this infection. May I place on the record of the House information the Minister has in his own possession, which comes from a report——

Mr. O'Keeffe: On a point of order, it [82] is not good enough for the Senator to be quoting to us. Will he give the House the reference source of those statistics?

An Cathaoirleach: That is not a point of order.

Mr. Norris: The Senator is trying to waste time.

Mr. O'Keeffe: It is extremely important, as an academic——

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: I request that Senator Norris be allowed to continue without interruption.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Senator Norris——

An Cathaoirleach: I ask both Senators to resume their seats. Senator Norris should be allowed to continue without interruption. Any interruption will cause me to suspend the House until Senators take notice of what I am saying.

Mr. Norris: Thank you, a Chathaoirligh. I will give reference sources. The source for the following statement is the report on “Accessibility of health service for persons with HIV and AIDS”, commissioned by the Minister for Health in February 1989, never published, and chaired by Deputy Leydon who was then Minister of State. The cost to this country for every person with HIV is £12,000 estimated per annum and for every person with AIDS it is £35,000. Let the Minister come into this House and deny those figures.

Mr. O'Keeffe: On a point of order, I think it is inappropriate for Senator Norris to quote statistics and figures for us from a report that has never been published.

Mr. Norris: The Senator is wasting my time.

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Norris is [83] entitled to quote what he likes. It is a matter for Senator Norris——

Mr. O'Keeffe: It is not appropriate for a public representative to quote figures here that he cannot substantiate. It is irresponsible.

An Cathaoirleach: If Senator Norris wants to be irresponsible, it is a matter for himself to pursue that line and I am not going to dissuade him from doing what he believes he should do by way of material he uses in his contribution.

Mr. Norris: It is very responsible to make information available to the public and the Taoiseach is on record as saying we ought to have a freedom of information Act. I will proceed.

If you want to know what members of the different churches say, may I introduce you to the fact that in The Irish Times today, 13 March 1991, the Dublin synod of the Presbyterian Church called on the Government to bring in legislation that would protect, as far as possible, those who are sexually active outside marriage. The Rev. David Bruce said:

Regarding contraception, we beg to differ in some important respects from the Roman Catholic Church. We consider the Bible to teach that the primary purpose of sex is not procreation, but the enrichment and mutual fulfilment which husband and wife may have in each other. Contraception, therefore, is not only morally acceptable, but psychosexually necessary to a healthy marriage relationship, where the real purpose of a full sexual relationship can only be explored free from the constraint and worry of an unplanned and even unwelcome pregnancy. We find puzzling the distinction drawn between artificial and natural methods of contraception.

He referred also to the question of an Irish solution to an Irish problem. May I say that is the biggest insult that Charles J. Haughey has ever delivered to the Irish [84] people, suggesting the hypocrisy and evasion of standards by which this country is run.

May I quote from a Department of Health manual entitled: “AIDS: The Facts,” published by the Health Promotion Unit of the Department of Health:

For sexually active people, who are not in a one faithful partner relationship, a good quality new condom correctly used is the single most effective defence against HIV infection.

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: Order. I ask Senator Mooney to allow Senator Norris to continue.

Mr. Norris: May I quote also for the information of Senator Hanafin what Dr. James Walsh says in The Irish Times today:

There is no argument on this one in medical and scientific circles. All the data and the research in Western Europe indicates that the condom is more than 90 per cent effective in preventing the spread of disease.

Dr. Conleth Feighery says he does not believe anyone in the scientific community believes HIV can penetrate a condom. I could continue quoting from this article but I prefer to quote something else. We were asked for facts and sources and I would like to give a few of them.

Professor Murphy: May I suggest that you should bring it down to their level.

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Murphy, let the Senator find his own level. I am asking for order for the last time.

Mr. Norris: A campaign in Sweden promoting the use of condoms was organised in 1970 with the purpose of stopping the dramatic increase of gonorrhoea. In two years, condom sales rose by 50 per cent and the incidence of gonorrhoea was [85] reduced by 20 per cent. Venereal disease in California was reduced by 4 per cent as a result of a condom campaign. May I give you the following scientific facts?

An Cathaoirleach: You have two minutes left.

Mr. Norris: I am aware of that. Based on physical properties alone, undamaged latex condoms provide an effective barrier against all known sexually transmissible agents including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Furthermore, condoms protect against the Hepatitis B virus, which at 42nm is the smallest of these agents. Finally, in-vitro studies have confirmed that condoms are impermeable to Neisseria gonorrhoea, Chlamydia trachomatis, herpes simplex virus type 2, cytomegalovirus, Hepatitis B virus and HIV. The sources are from the Koop-Journal of American Medical Association, 1986/Smith L. Oleske J. Cooper, R. Congress of the Latin American Union Against Venereal Diseases 1981/Judson FN, Bodin GF, Levin MJ International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research 1983.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Mooney: On a point of order, surely Senator Norris, in his attempt to get to the end of this debate is really lowering the tone of debate in the manner in which he is making his contribution.

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Norris is entitled to find any dialect or linguistic method he chooses to present his case [86] here in this House and I am not going to worry too much as to whether it is interpretable or distinguishable.

Mr. Norris: I will make the page available. I will continue. Conant MA, Spicer DW, Smith CD: Herpes simplex virus transmission: Condom Studies, Sex Transmitted Disease 1984; 11:194-95/Katznelson S, Drew WL, Mintz L. Efficacy of Condoms as barrier to transmission of cytomegalovirus and so on. I could have gone on if there was any respect for intellectual discussion from the other side of the House — I could have categorically demonstrated that condoms are a protection, they are at least——

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Norris must conclude now.

Mr. Norris: I am concluding, but you, Sir, have not defended my right to speak in this House. It is perfectly clear that condoms prevent disease——

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Norris, the debate is now concluded.

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: The House stands suspended for 15 minutes.

Sitting suspended at 8.10 p.m. and resumed at 8.25 p.m.

Question put: “That the amendment be made”.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 14.

Bennett, Olga.

Byrne, Hugh.

Byrne, Sean.

Cassidy, Donie.

Conroy, Richard.

Cullen, Martin.

Dardis, John.

Fallon, Sean.

Farrell, Willie.

[87]McCarthy, Seán.

McGowan, Paddy.

McKenna, Tony.

Mooney, Paschal.

O'Brien, Francis.

Finneran, Michael.

Fitzgerald, Tom.

Haughey, Seán F.

Honan, Tras.

Hussey, Thomas.

Kiely, Dan.

Kiely, Rory.

Lanigan, Michael.

Lydon, Don.

[88]Ó Cuív, Éamon.

O'Donovan, Denis A.

O'Keeffe, Batt.

Ryan, Eoin David.

Wright, G.V.

Níl

Cosgrave, Liam.

Doyle, Avril.

Harte, John.

Jackman, Mary.

Manning, Maurice.

Murphy, John A.

Neville, Daniel.

Norris, David.

Ó Foighil, Pól.

O'Reilly, Joe.

O'Toole, Joe.

Raftery, Tom.

Ross, Shane P.N.

Upton, Pat.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Wright and Fitzgerald; Níl, Senators Norris and Murphy.

Question declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl 14.

Bennett, Olga.

Byrne, Hugh.

Byrne, Sean.

Cassidy, Donie.

Conroy, Richard.

Cullen, Martin.

Dardis, John.

Fallon, Sean.

Farrell, Willie.

Finneran, Michael.

Fitzgerald, Tom.

Haughey, Seán F.

Honan, Tras.

Hussey, Thomas.

Kiely, Dan.

Kiely, Rory.

Lanigan, Michael.

Lydon, Don.

McCarthy, Seán.

McGowan, Paddy.

McKenna, Tony.

Mooney, Paschal.

O'Brien, Francis.

Ó Cuív, Éamon.

O'Donovan, Denis A.

O'Keeffe, Batt.

Ryan, Eoin David.

Wright, G.V.

Níl

Cosgrave, Liam.

Doyle, Avril.

Harte, John.

Jackman, Mary.

Manning, Maurice.

Murphy, John A.

Neville, Daniel.

Norris, David.

Ó Foighil, Pól.

O'Reilly, Joe.

O'Toole, Joe.

Raftery, Tom.

Ross, Shane P.N.

Upton, Pat.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Wright and Fitzgerald; Níl, Senators Norris and Murphy.

Question declared carried.