Seanad Éireann - Volume 130 - 24 October, 1991

Developments in the European Community: Statements (Resumed).

An Cathaoirleach: On 20 June 1991 it was agreed that the Labour group would be the next to contribute as the time allocated on that day did not allow for them to make a contribution. Senator Norris was in possession. I take it he had finished?

Mr. Norris: It comes as a surprise but a very welcome surprise because there are one or two things that I would like to say if I might have the indulgence of the House. First of all, I would like to welcome the Minister to the House. He [132] has always been the most amenable and courteous person in occupying that chair and has been most helpful to Senators on all sides.

The point I would like to make is one that I think will be elaborated upon by other speakers and it is the question of Irish neutrality, because this does concern me. Some weeks ago there was a meeting of a body of which this country is not a member and I understand that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, attended in an advisory or observer capacity.

When asked did this represent a change in Irish foreign policy both he and, I understand, subsequently the Taoiseach, indicated that this was the case and Europeans fellow members of this group expressed considerable satisfaction and their understanding that this did represent a move. I am sure that this may well be legitimate, but it gives people like myself some considerable cause for concern when a concept that, however vague and ill-defined historically, such as neutrality, exists in the minds of the people as a principle — I am almost tempted to say as a core value but that might be taken as being contentious — I think that a change signalled apparently arbitrarly, I am sure not capriciously and perhaps after a good deal of consideration, gives us cause to reflect on the dangers of this country being unique in European countries in not having a foreign affairs committee.

I think it is most important that our foreign affairs should be properly regulated, that there should be accountability and I would like to ask the Minister, in the light of our participation in the European Community, what mechanism exists for the formulation of Irish foreign policy. Perhaps it is a naive question but I am sure that since it is naive the Minister will have no difficulty at all in disposing of it. I really would like to know where is foreign policy formulated, by whom, what is the role of Iveagh House and the Civil Service, the advisers and so on? What degree of accountability does the Minister feel to be appropriate in the area of foreign affairs or is there any [133] accountability? It seems to me that here a major, serious and significant shift has been made in our foreign policy without consultation with the representatives of the people or with the people themselves. I think that this places a very considerable question mark over the whole area. I assume that everything else that I wanted to say I said in June but to be quite honest with you I have now reached the age when my memory does not stretch back quite that far and I really do not know.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Norris: I am sorry but my eyesight has also declined and I cannot read at that distance. The European Community is changing. It is apparently set to expand quite considerably. There are a number of applications in for various kinds of association or membership of the Community. It will, I have no doubt, eventually encompass virtually the whole of Europe and I have no doubt whatever that this new European entity will become enormously powerful and strong economically. I know that at the moment there are disadvantages in the eastern sector that was formally under communist domination but I have no doubt that within a comparatively short period of time this enormous market with its vast resources, its vast capacity both to purchase and to sell, will be a distorting factor in the world economy. I wonder if the Minister would agree with me that Ireland, with its tragic history of colonial domination, of famine and of exploitation, will make it a point of honour to be aware of the disproportion that exists not really so significantly within Europe but between the north-south axis on this planet and if Ireland will use that sensitivity to ensure that this grossly discriminatory situation is not tolerated into the foreseeable or unforeseeable future.

Senator Conroy and Senator Upton rose.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Mooney): I now [134] call on Senator Conroy. It is the contention that I cross the House. Senator Upton will be next.

Dr. Upton: I thought the Cathaoirleach announced that the Labour Party were to be next.

Professor Conroy: I am quite happy with that.

Acting Chairman: I am sorry Senator Upton is correct. It was agreed that the Labour group would be the next to contribute as the time allocated on 20 June did not allow them to make a contribution. You are quite correct, Senator. You are now in possession.

Dr. Upton: I thank Senator Conroy for the gracious way he responded to this matter.

We are talking about Europe at a time of great change and I welcome the fact that this debate is taking place. It is very badly needed. Developments in Europe have been given much less attention in this country than they merit. Undoubtedly there are profound changes taking place and many of them seem to be in direct conflict with the values this country held over most of this century.

It is difficult to understand how we have moved so easily away from the notion of the nation state, the notion of an Irish sovereign country able to determine its own affairs and order its own business in whatever way it liked and are rushing headlong into Europe. John Hume recently announced the impending death of the nation state concept and nobody seemed to bat an eyelid or to take any great interest in that statement. What puzzles me is the ease with which the change is now taking place given the tremendous efforts and sacrifices which were made to establish the State here and indeed the tremendous efforts which were made to pursue our sovereignty, independence and self-determination. What is happening in Europe will clearly greatly diminish our capacity to order our own affairs.

[135] I am concerned that most of the decisions made in Europe seem to be made above the heads of the Irish people. Most Irish people simply do not realise what is at stake and that is a great pity. It is also a great pity that the Government have failed to involve the public in the debate which is taking place in Europe and inform them and involve them in the issues which are now at stake and in the decisions which we appear to be in the process of making. Unfortunately there has not been a White Paper or any official document produced by the Government setting out their views and options. There has been, as far as I can see, no information campaign. I accept that some quality newspapers in this country cover the issues at stake to quite a good extent but the average person does not seem to be very aware of what is happening or very interested in it.

We are on our way to economic, monetary and political union. In relation to economic union, there are conflicting signs coming from Europe. There is, on the one hand, talk of social and economic cohesion and that is the pleasant side of things. At the same time there is talk of a two-tier Europe, two lanes of development. The fact that such factors are coming into the equation is a matter of great concern.

As we move towards economic and monetary union there is no doubt that great forces will pull economic activity away from Ireland and towards the centre of Europe. There are tremdendous forces now at work concentrating economic activity on the mainland of Europe and this will create great difficulties for this country. Moves towards a single European currency will enhance those tendencies.

I am aware there are a certain number of counter-measures in position and more are being proposed. There are the Structural Funds, various agricultural policy measures and various aspects of industrial policy. However, I am unhappy in regard to their effects. I do not believe this country is becoming more cohesive in European terms. There is a drift away [136] from European standards and an opening of a gap between this country and Europe. The European experience has not resulted in this country being able to cope with the great issues of unemployment and emigration. As regards agricultural policies it is now a matter of damage limitation and that is what we are talking about. We will go further down that road; in other words, we will seek to limit the damage all the time and we will continue to be involved in rearguard action.

I am unhappy in relation to the extent to which Europe has helped this country and the extent to which this country has failed to shape European policy or be involved in European policy formation so as to enhance our interests. Consider an area like science and technology. Our investment in it is really trivial by European standards and it is considerably less than the investment by one of the important multinational companies. I have great difficulty in understanding how this country's industrial policy can effectively match the European standards if that is the state of our science and technology.

There is, of course, the need for this country to trade effectively in Europe. I do not want to start finding fault with the various agencies who have been involved in developing our trade in Europe but there is no getting away from the fact that this country simply has failed to become an important player on European markets. Anybody who doubts that has only to note the extent to which branded Irish products are conspicuous by their absence on European markets. It is certainly an eye opener for anybody to walk around Brussels and observe the advertising hoardings or to go into shops and observe the lack of branded Irish products. Indeed, it is something of an achievement to get branded Irish products in Europe. That is a clear indication of the extent to which our industrial policy has failed to match up to the demands of Europe. If you like to look at it another way, it is the clear failure of Europe to achieve cohesiveness in relation to Irish industry and all that [137] works its way back here to unemployment and emigration.

In relation to the moves toward political union. I have no doubt that these mean a diminution and dilution of Irish sovereignty. There will be serious restrictions on this country's capacity to order its own affairs, for example, its budget, its ability to spend money in various areas and in relation to the obligations which will be placed on us to control our affairs, our inflation and so on. These will impact seriously on Irish people.

There is the question of majority voting in Europe and the tendency for this to become more widespread. In many ways it is worthwhile and desirable and I support it. It clearly illustrates the degree to which this country is a very small player on the European stage. We have 18 MEPs if you include the MEPs from Northern Ireland in a Parliament of 580 Members and our impact there will certainly be small. The groups in the European Parliament really call the shots and, if I can be forgiven for putting in a plug for my own party, we are affiliated to the socialists in Europe who are the major player. Irish people in time to come, particularly those who support the Fianna Fáil Party, will have a delightful conundrum and dilemma to contend with in future elections. They will have to decide whether they should continue to vote for that party given that their impact in the European Parliament is minimal because of the small size and irrelevance to a large extent of the group with whom they are associated or vote for our party who are at least part of the greater European Socialist movement who are the central players in Europe. It will be a delightful dilemma particularly for those in the area the Minister represents who, unfortunately, up until recently have not been in the habit of voting for us. I am, however, very happy to say there were very encouraging moves in that area in the local elections.

[138] Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. Calleary): Do not tempt me, Senator.

Dr. Upton: There are these dilemmas. I have already requested that we have a debate on neutrality. This country seems to be moving away from neutrality now almost by stealth, almost by announcement. This morning Commissioner MacSharry made an announcement that the end of Irish neutrality is inevitable and will happen in the short term. Commissioner MacSharry is as entitled to voice his views as much as anybody else and I would not want to prevent him from doing so but perhaps it was a pity that this anxiety to express himself on neutrality did not come on him while he was involved in Irish politics. It would have been very useful to have known that was his view when he was in Ireland. I wonder if he would have felt the same wish to express himself on it if he were a participant in Irish politics? Perhaps it is another indication of the fact that he will not be returning to Ireland for the impending contest that we keep reading about in the newspapers.

Mr. Calleary: We will keep the Senator informed.

Dr. Upton: I thank the Minister for that because I would much prefer to be informed by other politicians rather than read it in the newspapers.

The changes in Eastern Europe will have a very important effect on the European Community. They will contribute to the drain on resources in the European Community and that, in turn, will mean that there will be fewer resources available for this country. I do not think anybody would argue that it is anything other than desirable that the Eastern European countries should become involved to a greater extent with the European Community. If we go back to one of the basic reasons why the European Community was established, namely, to prevent war and put a stop to conflict in Europe, it is highly desirable that the European Community should seek to involve itself in developing Eastern European countries [139] and help them out of their present difficulties.

As we move towards a more united Europe in the political and economic sense I cannot help wondering what will happen to many of the great aspects of Irish culture and the Irish language. I suppose, in effect, we can say the Irish language is pretty well dead. It is at least in terminal decline in that its significance in Irish life has declined greatly over the century and I do not see very much happening in Europe which leads me to the conclusion that the decline will be arrested. The West of Ireland which is the homeland of the Irish language and of many aspects of Irish culture is being denuded before people's eyes. It has reached a stage where the bishops feel obliged to become directly involved in trying to get something done to preserve the economy in that part of the country. There are grave issues at stake in relation to Irish culture and in relation to the forces which are pulling economic activity towards the centre away from those parts of Ireland. I am very pessimistic about Europe's capacity to reverse those trends.

Whose job is it to explain all these matters? Whose job is it to set out all the issues which are at stake? It is the Government's job and it is a great pity that discussion of the issues relating to European monetary, economic and political union has, to a large extent, been left in the hands of a number of academics, civil servants, business people and other small groups who are interested in Europe. It is a great pity that the debate was not broadened and ordinary people involved in it.

We are moving towards economic, monetary and political union in Europe. If one were to ask if there is any alternative it would seem there is very little. A process started in 1973 and it looks as if it is grinding on fairly grimly. It is a pity this country was not more involved in formulating policy in Europe and it is [140] a pity that people were not involved in the debate to a greater degree.

Professor Conroy: Those under the age of 25 in Sweden are now called the InterRail generation. In the recent general election in Sweden there was an extraordinary move away from the form of Government which we often call the Swedish model. These young people, the Inter-Rail generation of whom there are so many on mainland Europe, in Nordic countries and in the UK represent the change that is taking place in Europe. We have seen the extraordinary events in Eastern Europe but perhaps of greater significance for this country are the changes which are signified by this generation of young people who can travel very freely, cheaply and easily particularly by inter-rail throughout Europe. Those of us who have spent any time in western or central Europe in recent summers will have come across many of these young people from the various states of western and northern Europe, including Ireland. There are, perhaps, more young Irish people going to Germany and the Benelux countries than we realise. Our emphasis is still on those who look to the United States. This is a new generation with tremendous possibilities.

We are entering a period of extreme peril in which we are becoming more and more peripheral to the European Community. We will find it more difficult to maintain our ranking. I know the Taoiseach and Ministers have set themselves consistently and effectively against the idea of a two-tier Europe. One of the necessities for the various financial and economic measures that have been introduced by this Government with so much success, and the fear of further measures that will be necessary, is to ensure that we do not slip back into a second tier from which there will be little if any prospect of ever recovering.

Senator Upton referred to Connemara and the situation in the west generally, which is not much to our credit. On a far larger scale, if we are not very careful we [141] will become a holiday home, a reservation for wealthy western and northern Europeans. We are in a very difficult situation competitively, financially and in regard to our appalling infrastructure. These are very serious matters which will engage this and other Governments. We need much more discussion on the implications for this country and on the trends which we must follow and match.

The other aspect is the enormous Community influence on virtually every aspect of our industrial, commercial and social everyday life. I wonder if we fully realise or have fully taken on board the extent to which practical powers have passed to Europe.

I get a fax every evening from the CII. In yesterday evening's fax, volume 10, number 29 — Transport Policy it says that the director of transport and foreign trade policy of the CII has called for an end to bottlenecks which hinder freer circulation on the central sea corridors. Unless the system is improved, Ireland will miss out on the opportunities available in the European Community and other markets in the future. Investment in port and shipping capacity must be seen in the same way as proposed investment in road and rail lines within continental Europe.

The second main news item received yesterday from the CII was on product liability. The remaining stages of the Liability for Defective Products Bill, 1991, was expected to be introduced in the Dáil by Minister of State, Deputy Leyden on 23 October. This Bill implements EC Directive No. 85/374 of 1985, international legislation. It will impose liability on a producer for damage caused wholly or partly by defect in his product irrespective of whether he is negligent. The Bill defines damages relating to personal injury and also includes damaged personal property. This Bill has enormous implications for the entire industrial sector. It has been discussed and I am sure it will be further discussed. Very few men in the street, even interested people, fully realise the enormity of the directives from Europe which are coming to us and influencing us.

[142] On my first being elected to the Seanad I was a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. I was astounded by the amount and detail of legislation which came to us. We have a relatively small Civil Service. There are many matters for our Government to deal with. We have a relatively small political Chamber in this House and in the Dáil and yet these matters flooded into us. That was in 1977. They have been coming steadily ever since and I wonder to what extent we are able to keep up with them.

On the enlargement of the European Community, I remember just over 12 months ago at a Commission meeting listening to Commissioner Delors explaining to us that there was no question whatever of enlargement of the European Community at this stage but in years to come it might possibly be considered.

Delors and his colleagues came up with what they thought was a great idea, the European economic area, which would effectively head off not only possible applications from Eastern Europe but from elsewhere as well. Of course, it did not turn out that way. We have the European economic area and I join with Senator Upton in his praise for our newspapers and the way they attempted to keep up with changes in the European Community. Nonetheless, it is symptomatic of the fact that the major economic change to take place in the last 12 months received headline news as one would expect in The Financial Times and papers such as the Daily Telegraph, Die Welt, French newspapers and so on, but our quality newspaper did not mention it on the front page. It was second page news. There was a very good editorial on the matter. We talk about the European Community whenever expenditure comes up. At a committee meeting someone is sure to say: “Can we get any money from the European Community?” Much of our thinking is still at that antediluvian stage.

A headline from the Daily Telegraph yesterday, Wednesday, 23 October, [143] stated: “376 million people in trade zone stretching from the Arctic to Greece — Britain hails link between European Community and EFTA”. The largest trading bloc in world history has now been established. That will have enormous effects.

Senator Upon mentioned agriculture. I am quite sure we will see a much more confrontational situation between the European Community trading bloc or EEA and the other major trading bloc or which, of course, is the North American one. It looks very much as if it will be extremely difficult to reach agreement on agriculture. This will have implications for all of us.

Let us turn for a moment to the new countries which are linking up under EFTA and compare them with ourselves or with the European Community. What have we got? The President of Iceland visited us recently; a very able, articulate and likeable person who knows Dublin well. The population of Iceland is 125,000; their income per head is $22,000. In Norway the income per head is $24,000 in Finland the income per head is £27,000; in Sweden it is $26,000. We tend sometimes to think of Austria as not being a very well off country. I was there recently and I can tell you it is extremely prosperous. The income per head in Austria is $20,000. Switzerland will join the European Community in all probability. They will need a majority vote in the country and in most of the cantons in order to join but that country, with its income per head of $33,000, has made a conscious decision to join the European Community. We so often refer to the EC as a wealthy group and think of ourselves as being poor by comparison but it does not even have an average income per head equal to the lowest of any of the new countries which will now be associated with it through EFTA. The European Community income per head is $18,000.

There are going to be many implications for us here and in a minor way [144] they have begun already with the agreement of the EFTA countries to contribute financially in the form of direct grants and soft loans. Switzerland and Sweden have applied to join the EEA and Austria has also applied. The extension of membership to these wealthy countries will substantially alter the balance of prosperity and overall control within the Community.

We will also be joined by one more island which is even more physically isolated than ourselves, namely Iceland. Isolated though it may be, it has valuable attributes and a far higher income per head than present members of the European Community.

I quote from the Financial Times of yesterday which referred to the “Free movement of products in the European economic area from 1983”. This development may present both a great opportunity for us and great danger to us. We shall have to compete. With what, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, are we going to compete? With quality? With innovation? Will some natural products that we alone have? With price? We must compete in some way; prosperity is not going to be given to us freely unless we accept as the ultimate outcome of the European Community that we become a subsidised area with all its implications.

The Financial Times continued: “EFTA and the European Community must agree a system for classifying which goods will be regarded as originating from within the EEA. Special arrangements will cover food, fish, energy and coal and steel”. This is of considerable importance to us, particularly in relation to food and one of the final points of agreement relating to fish is important to those involved in this country with fishing but perhaps in an overall economic sense it is not a major matter.

The report continued: “EFTA will assume European Community competition rules on anti-trust matters, the abuse of a dominant position, public procurement, mergers and state aid.” We all know that these proposals will contain all sorts of implications for us. It stated: [145] “EFTA will assume European Community rules on company law, consumer protection, education, the environment, research and development and social policy.” That will not pose difficulties for most EFTA countries. They already have very stringent regulations in relation to, for example, the environment. Company law certainly will have to open up; at the moment there is no way in which an Irish company can buy into a Nordic company.

It continued: “From 1993 individuals should be able to live, work and offer services throughout the bloc. There will be mutual recognition of professional qualifications.” We have seen already in the European Community how difficult that is to establish in practice. There are also potential implications for us in relation to the demographic trends of western and northern Europe in these coming years.

In some ways emigration has ceased at present and we are faced with an appalling unemployment problem. In terms of the present European Community and of the enlarged Community, it is a trifling problem and if you subtract those who for reasons of ill-health or for social reasons or whatever are not really available for work and acknowledge the opportunities for people who can move freely to find higher paid employment elsewhere, we may well encounter in years to come, not an unemployment problem but great difficulty in holding on to suitably trained and qualified people whose contribution would enable this country to compete abroad. Our only hope of competing is by aiming for an upmarket niche and succeeding there or by offering something which the others do not have.

This country ranks in the world top ten for two substances, one of which is dairy produce. Thankfully, there has been some degree of switchback recently regarding the value of dairy products such as butter and milk but it is not the best of all possible products in which to rank in the top ten worldwide. The other substance is zinc.

Given our world position on commodities, we must compete somehow in [146] upmarket effective areas where, despite our distance, the cost of transport and our many other difficulties we have done exceptionally well so far. It is a great tribute to the Government, to the business community, to the labour force, and to State agencies that we have developed an export-orientated economy which has a balance of trade advantage with countries such as West Germany and now with Spain. By being competitive and effective the opening up of the Iberian market has been very much to our advantage. If we can keep up that sort of standard from the point of view of Government, business interests and labour force, it would be a tremendous opportunity but one for which we will have to fight very hard.

European monetary institutions will affect us also. The Germans, the Benelux countries and France are pressing for closer European monetary union. The Germans are having problems as they try to integrate East Germany; nonetheless, they still enjoy a very strong economy. It will be difficult for the rest of us if Germany, Holland, Belgium and France continue to push for financial unity which needs to be accompanied on the one hand by tight financial, monetary and related controls and, on the other hand, by an economy that can back it up. The Germans themselves will have seen the necessity of that; they introduced a common Deutsche Mark across East and West Germany and they now find themselves in an appalling situation because the economy of East Germany was not sufficiently developed for financial unity. If it had not been for the horrendous lessons learned by the German Bundesbank in the course of the financial arrangements for East Germany, they may well have pressed much more strongly for premature European monetary union which countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, ourselves and others would have found almost impossible to resist. It is very much to the credit of our Government that in taking on the thankless task of restoring financial credibility in this country, they have performed their task in a way that will be of service to generations to come, and this [147] tribute applies to other sectors of the community also. This is of crucial future importance.

While mentioning the enlargement of the European Community, may I refer for a moment to the other major economic grouping which will be the United States, Canada and now Mexico, an extraordinary powerful grouping. There is probably only one other grouping which will rival either of those, the Japanese-East Asian-Pacific Ring grouping. The world is rapidly evolving into three major wealthy economic groupings. It is going to be rather rough for the developing countries of Africa — who already have financial problems and are suffering from the AIDS epidemic — and for countries such as India and Pakistan and other Asiatic countries that are not as developed as the newly emerging economic communities of Thailand and Formosa. One can foresee the poverty and the difficulties of South America worsening. Of the remaining countries China may be the most significant and it would be important for this country and for China — notwithstanding all our reservations about the present system there — to see that links are maintained between the European Community and China. Ireland is in a rather unique position to further those links.

Neutrality has been mentioned and it is time we moved ahead in our thinking on it. I believe we were absolutely right to institute a policy of neutrality during the Second World War; the decision was almost unanimous — there was only one vote against it — and it was cross party. This does not mean we did not oppose the horrors of Nazism and that we were not very glad when that terrible regime was defeated. Some of those involved in that defeat such as the Soviets, had regimes which were even more nauseating and dangerous. But that was neutrality in the 1940s and things have evolved since then.

Lemass suggested neutrality arguing that it was necessary because of the situation pertaining to the North but one [148] would not necessarily accept that understanding any longer for obvious reasons. There were good reasons also for remaining outside the NATO bloc. Our idea of neutrality derived from the belief that a small nation should not engage in warfare unless it is itself invaded and that conflict between nations should be settled by negotiation rather than war. These are long term principles and considerations that we could and should continue to support.

The political situation has changed since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact; the NATO powers are looking for a greater role, horrible conflicts have emerged such as that between Serbia and Croatia at the moment. Austria is neutral and has applied to join the European Community as have Sweden and, perhaps that most traditionalist of all neutral countries, Switzerland. Between ourselves, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland who have many traditions in common, our dicussions with modern-day Germany and with other states of western Europe should enable us to join, as appropriate, in security policy while, at the same time, adhering to the deep principles and beliefs which we have traditionally held in relation to neutrality.

Senator Upton in his excellent contribution — and I thank him for his courtesy at the commencement of that contribution — referred to nationalism and implied that it was dead. That is a view with which I could not agree. Nationalism may be a beneficial influence and it is the better aspects of nationalism which we should always encourage. Nationalist feeling survives as a deep innate, cultural and tribal reality and it is very easy in a Chamber such as this, or in the bureaucracy of Brussels, when one is a little removed at times from native peoples — and hopefully we are not too removed — to forget that people have these deep feelings. You can keep the lid on them as Tito did in Yugoslavia for 40 years, but they will boil over again for good and bad reasons. We all have such feelings and we are not going to become any less Irish, less English, less French, [149] less German or Belgian, Swiss or Austrian, as we become members of the EC.

I hope that we continue in this country on an all-party basis, to regard it of prime importance that we be competitive within the European Community. Let us seek and accept all financial support that we can and should get from the Community. Let us try to see that it is used as far as possible for the creation of infrastructure which will increase our competitiveness. If we are to sustain our small and very able population, including our young people who are so good at adapting to change and have so much initiative and ability, it will all be needed. Otherwise we will find ourselves slipping backwards. Nobody in Europe is going to stop us slipping back into a green island which the Dutch, German and English will come to visit and talk about how nice it is in summer time, buy their holiday homes here, give us all sorts of social grants and so on but do nothing to prevent that downwards slither. There is no need for that, we can maintain this island as a beautiful and prosperous country, not only for other in the Community but for our own people as well.

Mr. McDonald: I welcome the opportunity to make a few points in this very important debate because since our joining of the European Community in 1973 there has been greater expansion of the role of the European Community and the Council over the past year than at any other time. My regret is that so little opportunity has been afforded to the Oireachtas and to this House in particular to comment on many facets of European Community policy during the past year.

I am nervous and apprehensive that the date of 1 January 1993 is no more than a cliché, as the previous speaker so very rightly pointed out. Where is the preparation for the four freedoms referred to by Professor Conroy in his speech? Have we seen a poster campaign? Has there been any activity to prepare or even to warn our exporters, our industrialists, our workers, our producers, of the competition they are going [150] to face in 14 or 15 months time? I find that neglect frightening.

I have been looking through two reports on Developments in the European Community, the 37th report for the six months to January of this year and the report for the six months ending in July. In the European Communities Act the Oireachtas very rightly decided there should be at least six monthly reviews of the progress of the European Community. I appreciate the time and the courtesy of the present Minister of State in his attendance in the House and his willingness and openness to discuss the problem but I am frightened it is not enough. I have not seen, in an era of cutbacks and restrictions in the public service, additional staff or expertise being allocated to the Department of Foreign Affairs, a Department for which I have great personal appreciation. As a Member of the Oireachtas I have had some contact with them and I acknowledge their contribution and hard work but I doubt if they have been given the resources to enable this country to contend with what is before us.

One of the two latest advances has been the instigation of the EEA, the European economic area which takes in the EFTA countries, all of which enjoy greater incomes per capita than the EC average. Yet, a wealthy country such as Norway where all electricity is generated by hydro power and who for some years have been able to export over 75 or 80 per cent of their oil resources suffered the embarrassment of difficulties in their second largest bank during the past couple of weeks. That makes one wonder if a country or a people or an economy is ever sound.

I am perturbed that the preparations for 1 January 1993 which were launched two years ago have died a death. For instance, have the Department of Education provided additional maps or packs so that teachers can explain or try to introduce the coming generation to the economic and political environment in which they will grow up? That omission is worrying.

[151] The institutional changes have come fast and furious over the past number of years. These amendments might be all for the worst for the Common Agricultural Policy and for the Common Fisheries Policy. If anything was ever mishandled in this country it has been the new opportunities available under the regional policy. I presume that applications were made in each region or each area for the INTERREG and LEADER programmes but there should have been feedback through a sort of voluntary committee; I do not know whether they ever meet or not but I have never been circulated with anything from them as a member of a local authority.

While I have paid tribute to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the work the officials of that Department have consistently undertaken and successfully completed, I do not have the same respect for the people who are calling the shots in the Department of Finance. As far as those geniuses are concerned it is, seemingly, their private prerogative to call the shots, to give out as little information as possible and to manage or mismanage all of the funds emanating from Europe. I do not think that is in the spirit of the European or the Irish legislation.

Europe is now a mass of alliterations and abbreviations and it is very difficult to keep abreast of them without the greatest amount of study. I do not think that this country has availed of all opportunities. Our public servants seem to be more determined to keep the paperwork flowing than to ensure that the citizens get maximum economic aid from the facilities the European Community has to offer to lift up, to enrichen and to equalise opportunities in this country as compared with the golden heart of Europe.

We must change this situation. Greater resources must be allocated to the Department and to the people operating European policies and legislation in our name. Instead of having a Minister of State either in the Department of the Taoiseach or of Foreign Affairs responsible for European affairs, it is time we [152] had a senior Minister with responsibility for European affairs. Given the new ECEFTA political agreement, the recent Franco-German plan on a European defence force, the application from Sweden, the applications expected from Norway and from Switzerland, we are going to find ourselves whether we like it or not in a two-speed European Community. The day we enter that lane we revert back to pre-1973 because we will never make up the lost ground. Our position will be greatly worsened by our lack of competitive urge.

The headlines and national scandals of the past couple of months have given too many people an excuse to say, “What is the use of contributing or paying tax when an undefined number of what could be described as fat cats do so very well without doing so?” Apart from the morality of those questions we need to motivate everyone to work for the country and for the common good. I question the Minister as to whether the resources of his Department are adequate at the present time to enable them to keep abreast of Eastern European developments.

I believe the peace initiative in Yugoslavia has been too slow. I know the Council of Minister have tried negotiations but I believe the Twelve should have recognised Croatian and Slovenian independence a couple of months ago. These are not new conflicts. Croatia has been looking for its independence since 1973. The first month my colleagues and I became members of the European Parliament in 1973 we were lobbied by representatives from Croatia who, at that time, were seeking independence. They wanted to get out of the morass that they have been in since they were partitioned at the end of one or other of the wars creating the federal system in Yugoslavia.

We have co-operation agreements with Russia, which is indeed very important, with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Romania. Economic assistance was going to Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, [153] Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic up to the time of the unification of Germany — I am sure the money is flowing even faster now — Romania and Yugoslavia. Accession negotiations with Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and indeed Turkey have been going on for many years. That is a long list of countries. If you take the Department's own report, there are 120 or 130 countries with which the Community has association agreements or trade agreements, most of them on a best favoured nation basis. All of those impinge on our ability to compete.

I know we cannot halt progress in the Community, indeed in world trade. As a democracy however, and as an honest broker nation, we surely have a right to be able to look forward even to the end of this decade with the hope of economic survival. We should, at least, be able to offer a future to the coming generation or prepare them for that.

I would like to see not just general debates on the situation, but more frequently opportunites for input from the Oireachtas so that the Minister going out to represent this country at the various Council of Europe meetings would at least be aware of the views expressed on behalf of the people from different parts of the country. The Minister would know exactly how Members were thinking. It would be helpful to him.

Economic assistance is going, fast and furiously, right across the world, from the European Community. The situation in our own country, whether in agriculture or industry does not appear to be as good.

One of the matters raised to very good effect at the last Dublin Summit was the question of energy. This is a very important area. I do not think the Community are putting enough resources or enough thought into it or making enough policies on it. The initiative taken by our own Government in 1990 was excellent but there seems to have been a slow down at a time when we should have been going in the other direction.

[154] In the last ten days the Soviet Union announced a further fire in their nuclear facility at Chernobyl and also a problem with one of the large power stations in the Moscow region. This is just the third such event that that country or group of countries have ever declared or announced. The penny is only dropping now in most countries that, just like the freedom that the birds have in the air, nuclear fall-out and the effects of radiation are shared very fully with the world at large. There are literally hundreds of nuclear facilities in the USSR coming to the end of their planned life. Many of them, we are led to believe, are in a fairly unstable, difficult and dangerous situation requiring the millions of pounds the Soviet Union does not have to make them secure. It becomes not just a Russian problem. It is a frightening prospect. In the European energy policy, it is now urgent that in any future debate we should insist that the insurance or the cost of making and decommissioning nuclear power facilities should be charged into the cost of producing energy from that source.

Of late I think there is a tendency for people to think big and say we should have one huge reactor here. We are lucky that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy O'Malley, did not stick us with that one in Wexford. It was just touch and go that he did not get his way. We expect in the future that all energy should come from huge facilities. One of the early de Valera Governments set up Bord na Móna with the Turf (Use and Development) Act, 1936. That Government demonstrated that successful people working for both Bord na Móna and the ESB were able to harness that native resource, to design and build the powerhouses and the facilities not only to harvest the turf but to transform it into electric power. I think the time has come to get back to that idea of making ourselves self-sufficient and to look for the alternative sources of energy that are available here. We should be able to insist on playing our part.

I had the honour recently, of representing the Oireachtas at an Energy for [155] Europe seminar organised by the Nordic Council. It was the first time that this country was represented at a meeting of the Nordic Council. Those countries are very perturbed by the fact that clappedout nuclear facilities are an extreme danger to the lives of million of people right across Europe whether it is to the north, south, east or west. There is no escape from that. It is only becoming quite obvious that many thousands of people have died from radiation in the last couple of years. The statistics and information are quite frightening.

There must be a new, strong European policy recognising that and having regard to the fact that we cannot continue to burn fossil fuels at the same rate as we have been doing for the past eight or ten years, having regard to the effect that usage is having with CO 2, NOX and so on on the weather and the atmosphere. There must be changes. I hope the Community will take up this challenge, be a catalyst and move quickly.

There is an opportunity here, too, for the Commissioner for Agriculture to encourage the production of non-food or energy crops as part of his new or revised Common Agricultural Policy. I see no reason it cannot be done since the technology is readily available. It would be economically sound. It is possible, for instance, to produce vegetable oils at the same price as untaxed diesel, if the Commission is prepared to allocate the setaside subsidies towards the production of vegetable oils for non-food purposes. The Community should look very closely at that.

On the question of neutrality, which has hit the headlines again this morning, it must be ten or 15 years since I first went on the record of this House making my views known. If ever our neutrality served the interests of this country in the 1939-45 era, there is not much point now in being a member of a European Community, as we are, and expecting the benefits from it while we are not prepared to be part of its defence. Our historic policy of neutrality should be reviewed in the light of the great and rapid changes [156] that have taken place in the European Community. I do not think it is any big deal.

Over the past couple of years our neutral stance has been useful in that it gave us a certain degree of accessibility, since we clearly demonstrated we were not part of any of the power blocs. The Swedish Government in their application for membership of the Community have looked very closely at the formula the Irish Government adopted in the Single European Act. Perhaps it will set the pace. In neutral countries such as Austria and Switzerland where there are old agreements which have stood up over the past 50 or 70 years, the situation has completely changed. We are into a new ballgame. As an extended Community we should get together, live and perhaps prosper through the next 20 years without the same reason for the heavy expenditure on defence that was necessary over the past number of years.

The Nordic Council has drawn up a declaration for energy in the extended Europe. I hope that perhaps, in time, we will be able to have that as an official policy, right across the Community. It recognises the fact that human society's resources, for instance, water, arable land, oil, natural gas and capital are vulnerable and limited in supply. It urges all nations and individuals to use them as effectively as possible to satisfy basic human needs and to increase the wellbeing of human society without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This is new thinking. Over the next few years, if we are really going to pay more than lipservice to our environment, we must believe and accept that it is more economic to switch off a light to spare energy than to leave it on. We must be responsible in our usage of energy resources at all levels, especially in our homes and cars.

I hope the Minister will assure the House that the resources available in his Department are adequate to meet the needs of this country in keeping abreast of developments in the European Community such as association agreements, [157] negotiations going on simultaneously with many countries all of which impinge on the ability of this relatively high cost producer country to compete keenly in an extended European economic area. We must embark on an educational programme for all our producers to let them know that our only salvation lies in producing very high quality products right across the board. Otherwise we will be swamped by the tail-end production from so many multinationals across Europe.

We must also be vigilant that we are not off-sided by the present Franco-German defence agreement and that whole train of thought which would shove us into a second-class position. That is not what we want. We must be prepared to uphold our position all the time. I still have faith in Europe, but that is not sufficient if we are not prepared to work to improve the situation in Europe. We must remain where we can influence the policies sufficiently for them to be reflected in the faces of our constituents in every county. People must have an equal break.

I ask the Minister to consider taking up with his colleague, the Minister for Education, a new information and educational programme on the new Europe, the Europe with the four freedoms and what that means. In this way, even from national school level, our citizens will be prepared for what is in store. Our only hope is to go in there strong, to be part of all the decisions and, above all, to be informed. Unfortunately, that is a problem. If 1993 becomes a cliché and we leave it at that for the next 15 months we will regret it for years to come. I ask the Minister to ensure that the Department embark on a programme designed to encourage people to work for a better Europe, but we need a certain amount of activity.

I believe that there are individuals in this country who should at least be charged with economic treason, having regard to the damage inflicted on the good name of this country and its products in recent times. I do not say that anybody is guilty but nevertheless we have suffered a major set back and we [158] have a problem to climb back up to where we were just a year ago.

Éamon Ó Cuív: Is dóigh nach féidir ceist na hEorpa a phlé go rómhinic. Is iomaí ceist atá tógtha anois ag na hathruithe móra atá ag teacht ar chomhdhéanamh na hEorpa le tamall anuas. Ba mhaith liom an cheist seo a thógáil faoi roinnt ceannteideal — tá ceist aontais sa pholaitíocht ann, ceist na neodrachta, tá ceist ann faoin rud sin a dtugtar subsidiarity air, aontas airgid, saorthrádáil, dlínse dhlí na hEorpa, ceist maidir le cláir fhorbartha, caighdeán teicneolaíochta agus Common Agricultural Policy, agus b'fhéidir ag an deireadh ceist eagraíochtaí domhanda ar nós an UN agus an áit a bheidh acu sa domhan nua atá á fhorbairt.

The whole question of the European Community can no longer be treated in isolation from world structures. The idea that we will belong to one international forum predominantly is something that in the future will be seen to be sterile and irrelevant. If we look at the realms of human activity, more and more we see that international agreements are involved. Those who visualise the European Community developing into some super-state like the United States of America should think a second time and look at how peripheral areas develop or do not develop in such arrangements. It is also very timely now to question the rush towards a total amorphous European Community at a time when we see, in Eastern Europe, a big demand for more local autonomy and self-determination.

There are a few basic questions we have to ask ourselves, and answer honestly, if we are to make progress towards deciding what destiny we feel we should play in any Europe of the future. The first question is: will this European Community encompass all of Europe or will it consist of a Europe of 12 or 13 member states? The second question is: will this Community that is envisaged have control, and will it have the final authority, over all aspects of human endeavour from social issues, political, [159] economic and military, or should it be confined to certain realms of human activity? Another fundamental question that we have to ask ourselves here is: what actual political structures will be in place and will, for example, the political structures in the north of Europe in all aspects of social, cultural and political life have greater scope or, in the end, will they be able to override any constitutional arrangement we make within this country? These are questions I would love to have straight answers to because before we make a decision on the type of Europe we are entering we are owed answers to these questions.

As things are at present there is a tendency always for the centre, whether it is Dublin, whether it was London or whether it is now Brussels to gather unnecessary powers unto itself and to involve itself in detail of administration and political affairs that would be much better left to regions to decide for themselves.

I have always had a fear of the Europe that would emerge, and that cultural differences that are very real would not be taken into account. I am not talking necessarily about differences of language, but about differences of lifestyle, attitude, and so on. This has become very apparent to me in the operation of certain European Community schemes within this country. Their attitudes and ours differ in many fundamental facets. If I mention just one, that at times can be amusing, but in reality is horrendous, it is their attitude towards deadlines regarding times and dates compared to ours. When in a European scheme they set a closing date, unlike what we might have experienced up to now, they mean that that date is the absolute date and anybody who forgets about that date is totally outside the scheme. For example, in the traditional way of thinking, certainly in the part of the country I live in, a meeting at 8 o'clock is really a meeting at 8.30. There are no absolutes. We understand that, our European neighbours do not. We have a situation where small farmers and some larger farmers [160] are losing out seriously on grants because no recognition is given to cultural traditions that exist within this island.

Another problem has arisen regarding this question of subsidiarity. To give an example: this year some person or persons in Brussels decided that on application for the ewe premium, one should give a number and that one then should inform the local livestock office regarding every ewe that was lost. There were good reasons for this in most countries, because in most EC countries, unlike this country, they do not carry out full headage inspections on all their sheep and, therefore, it is very important that the number given should be the number inspected.

Two problems arose here that were not, as far as I am given to understand, given any recognition when this matter came up at the controlling committee in Brussels. The first problem that arises is that, because of our particular climate and style of sheep farming in the west, sheep are left on the hills and lamb on the hills. Farmers do not actually have an accurate count of their sheep numbers except on the day they are tagged. Even on that day, as I know from bitter and long experience involved in running a sheep farm on behalf of the co-op for which I worked, the numbers can come out very well or badly, depending on how well the dogs worked on the day gathering sheep. What this meant was that farmers were being asked to provide information that they were not privy to. It was suggested to them that, to overcome these difficulties, they might put in a lesser number. If they had 100 ewes, they might put in 90, just to ensure that on the day they would have enough to cover their application. But, at £20 a ewe and, if you take the headage payment into account, at £30 a ewe, there are very few people who will willingly pass up £300.

The penalty for getting your figures wrong, however, was quite astounding. For every 1 per cent that you are short, in other words if you missed one, you lost 3 per cent of the subsidy on the remaining number of ewes. If you got your figures wrong by 10 per cent, which is quite [161] possible in hill locations, with flash floods, bad weather, lambing deaths and so on, you lost the ewe premium for two years. It might not seem to be a matter of earth-shattering importance but it is obviously a matter of grave importance to the farmer who might be in danger of losing effectively two-thirds of his income for two years just because he cannot provide information according to a system laid out in an office in Brussels that would not take any recognition of the realities of the farming situation here.

Furthermore, we have to look at the situation that, as the European Community spreads its tentacles into every facet of our life, this type of situation is going to arise again and again. There is the insensitivity where they could not say, that if on the one hand you were having spot checks their system had to be applied or, on the other hand, if you were not willing to apply that system that you would have to do 100 per cent tagging of your sheep, which would mean there could be no fiddle, there could be no waste of European funds. In fact, it is the ultimate way of doing this particular job. They should have, in all reason, accepted one system or the other. It is this insensitivity that has caused grave fears in my mind about the headlong direction in which we are going, seeming to have a desire to please at all times and never stand out from the crowd because it might be interpreted as some type of anti-social behaviour.

My understanding of the EC is that its fundamental concept back in 1972 was based on two basic issues, the issue of free trade and the issue of the Common Agricultural Policy. On the question of free trade I personally would like to see that not only opened up among the 12 member states but it would be desirable that free trade would be gradually extended over much greater regions and eventually on a world scale. This obviously would have to be regulated in certain ways to make sure that people did not take unfair advantage of certain situations but I do not see any God-given reason that free trade would have to be confined basically to one trading bloc. [162] Therefore, more and more in the future, and as we see from the EFTA arrangements, I see free trade as something that will not be confined to a political bloc. That would be a good thing and it is something that should be done irrespective of whether one is a member of that bloc.

The question of European economic union, of European monetary union, is something that basically would be desirable. It is something that will grow of its own accord and I would not like to see a limit put on it. However, I think in doing that we have to make sure we are quite well aware of the limits we would like to see imposed on such a union, that it would be done slowly an surely, and that, as Senator Conroy mentioned in his speech, the ramifications of this movement would be examined very carefully before we rush headlong into it.

I have mentioned the question of subsidiarity, the whole question of development. As somebody involved in development, there are questions I would like to raise very seriously. We have to look at the nature of politics, of human endeavour, of the electorate who elect various people to various parliaments, and ask ourselves a few fundamental questions. I have been involved for 18 years in development work, in creating employment, in developing agriculture and in developing forestry. I know there would be a common perception among fellow developers that, while we want our services at competitive costs, if subsidies were to be given from Europe rather than the schemes we are getting — LEADER programmes, IRDs, training programmes, etc. — we would prefer that. We would much prefer a subsidy to reduce our telephone costs, our transport costs, our energy costs — in other words, to reduce the costs that make working on the periphery a disadvantage and to really allow us compete on a level playing pitch. I would swap all the schemes and grants that are coming from Europe for a subsidy on those basic costs.

God knows, it would be very simple to administer, but I would have to say that in my examination of the nature of [163] human life, it would be very hard to see how a politician in Brussels, in The Hague, in Berlin or Paris could get away with such a suggestion with his own electorate. That is the dilemma we have to look at and something we have to face up to. No matter how much they would wish to level the playing pitch for us, it is going to be very difficult for them to do so because there would obviously be a resistance to giving what would be perceived as an advantage, although we would see it is a levelling of the playing pitch, to areas on the periphery and to allow more competition for their services, goods and manufacturing industry. Therefore we should go in, knowing the political realities, but demanding that we would at least go that road as far as we can take them and that we would be very careful about the schemes we are offered to see are, if they pound for pound, really giving us value for money in development on the ground. Are they really addressing the issues we face in trying to develop our economy?

The question of neutrality was raised here this morning. I would accept within Europe that there are those who are in favour of European defence for totally altruistic and good reasons, who see it as a brotherhood. I would also be the first to recognise that the founders of the EC did so out of the wounds and the bloodshed of two world wars. However, I would have to say in all honesty that the equation is not as simple as that and that I do not understand why there is any necessary link between political co-operation unity, whatever you wish to call it, or economic co-operation unity and military alliances.

My first question is this. People say we have to protect the common Europe. My question is: against whom? Whom do we perceive out there as a threat to European peace? In fact, I think it would probably be recognised at the moment that the greatest threat to world peace is a mistake, somebody by mistake pressing the button on some nuclear arsenal, or some nuclear disaster happening in total [164] error. The second thing we have to recognise is that Europe is a huge manufacturer of arms, that a lot of the guns, equipment and chemicals used in the recent Middle East War were produced in Europe. Therefore, in joining any political or military alliance, are we aligning ourselves with the arms manufacturers, with the people who have a vested interest in the production of weapons of destruction; or are we being told that those people who are proposing military alignment are going to fight day and night for the reduction of the arms industry in Europe and for the elimination of arms production as a major source of finance to European countries?

There are European countries where the arms industry makes a very significant contribution to their exports. As a Christian country I think we have to question the morality of arms being supplied worldwide without fear to any type of regime as long as the bills are paid. We also have to question its effect on the stability of political regimes on this planet and whether we really want to turn our back on the legacy of Frank Aiken in the United Nations at the end of the fifties and in the early sixties.

I would see that we have an important role to play as a country with no indigenous arms industry, with no basic vested interest in any military force of any size. I would like to see us continue to play a full role where we have played it best: through the United Nations' peace efforts throughout the world, in maintaining our independent status in that organisation in promoting peace and trying to stop conflict wherever it arises. There are, no doubt, politicians who feel we should join the club, but in regard to the citizens of the European Community as a whole — and at the end of the day, particularly in view of our constitutional primacy of the people, they should be the people about whom we would be concerned — I am not convinced that there would be any pressure from the citizens of this enlarged Community for us to change our traditional stance on this issue.

[165] I mentioned early the whole question of the extent of the jurisdiction and primacy of European law over our law and over our Constitution. I would admit to being not quite clear about how we stand on this issue. I would also say that it has to be a matter of concern that week after week regulations are passed and that we, because of the structures of this House, have very little time to discuss them. I would say that we will some day wake up and find that the real powers of this Parliament are very limited, that we are actually only enacting on a secondhand basis regulations that have been passed already in Brussels. This is something we have to look at. I would suggest that in any Oireachtas reform that takes place the whole question of providing ourselves with a Parliament that would have the time, and the staff, to look at these issues would be of major importance.

We should take these matters seriously. We should debate them. We should decide how far their jurisdiction should go. I, for one, do not see any scope or role for a European Community in determining the type of social structures we should have. That is something for the people of this country to decide without outside interference. I see no need on economic grounds or any other grounds for cohesion, if we want to call it that, on these issues. We have come from different cultures and different pasts and there is much more beauty in diversity than in some levelling off of all differences for some reason nobody has really clarified.

I would like to mention the United Nations in this context. It is also time to see whether some things that we now get from Brussels could not better be decided on a world basis. The whole question of pollution control, energy usage, standards for everything from computer keyboards to plug tops, are really things we should now start tackling on a global basis. Certainly the whole question of pollution, of the use of the sea, fisheries, the use of energy, the world distribution of wealth, is something that is part of the global village and cannot be confined to 12 states anywhere. These are matters [166] that would really be better decided by world fora because they are things that affect all the people on this planet. There are problems associated with them which, if we do not tackle them soon, will get the better of us.

In this connection I think it is timely that there is a review of the Common Agricultural Policy and that there is a review of the GATT as well. It is very uncomfortable. We all have reservations. I certainly worry about certain proposals as they will affect the people in my part of the country. But in that review we also must look at fundamental problems that we have created with the policy that has been there. We have to face the problem of overproduction, of the production of goods that people do not want and at the same time, as I mentioned in a previous debate here on the Common Agricultural Policy, a situation where a third of the world's population go to bed hungry every night. If we talk about peace, about neutrality, about military alliances, at our peril we ignore that problem, because the people of the Third World will find at some stage they can wait no longer for us suddenly to realise there is a major problem on our doorstep.

I am glad to see how quickly there was a response to the problems of Eastern Europe and I applaud it. I would like to see everything being done there being done as speedily as possible. But, in addressing that problem, it does, in my opinion, prick our consciences regarding the African situation. I do not think that as a Christian country we can dismiss as not being part of economic order, as being a kind of side irrelevancy, the question, on the one hand, of the over production of food and of encouraging farmers to leave land idle and, on another hand, the question of world hunger existing coincidentally at the same time. It is not something for a side agenda; it has to be something for a main agenda.

We all appreciate the practical political difficulties of explaining to people here that, relatively speaking, they are better off than other people, but we have to explain. We have to see if there is another [167] order of things that would allow us maintain a sustainable lifestyle and improve matters for our own population and, at the same time would not do it by causing undue hardship to others? I have a deep-seated belief, of course, that if you could tackle world hunger and if you could solve it, you would actually find that the economic situation of all countries would improve. I would put it to Senators here today that if they looked at the contribution this country makes in the 1990s and compare it to our contribution to the world in the 1840s you would find that it was well worth their while, whoever did it, developing the economy of this country, because from being a burden we are now a contributor. Therefore, we should always see that in doing good and in doing what is right there is also often a good spin-off. We should, therefore, not be afraid to look these questions in the eye and tackle them and try to solve them with a bit of courage.

What I have said here might be uncomfortable but I think there are issues of principle, there are fundamental issues that people in the rush for a short term economic gain have perhaps not debated as much as should have been done. I am not talking about the politicians. I accept they probably debate it in great detail. There is a need every now and again to stand back and look at the changing world, a world whose shape within five years has changed so dramatically, and not to find yourself hooked in on the ten-year old model that seemed at that time to be the solution, but to be constantly evolving and changing your attitude. Change your attitude to the structures that are needed for the future so that everything we will do will be for the betterment of the people of this island and also for the betterment of the people of Europe and at the end of the day gur ar leas phobal an domhain uilig a bheadh rud ar bith a dhéanfaimid amach anseo.

Mr. O'Toole: The width and breadth of the debate today expands so far that it is impossible to address all the developments in the European Community but [168] there are a number of issues we could address that are very topical. There is the question of political union, of the Common Agricultural Policy, of neutrality and of the amendments to the Treaty of Rome which are being discussed at the moment. I have not heard too much discussion on the actual detail of the proposed amendments to the Treaty of Rome either in the media or the discussion here this morning. I have listened very closely to what a number of speakers have said during the course of the debate and it is interesting to hear the points of contact, the points of similarity and the points of difference. One thing is absolutely clear: we need a debate on neutrality, not a confrontational-type debate but a debate where people will eventually try to get their thoughts clear on it.

My first day as a Senator was in April 1989 and our first business dealt with European union. I cannot remember the name of the Bill at that stage. I voted against it at that time and I still hold that position. I voted against it because of my views on a joint foreign policy. I agree with what Senator Ó Cuív has just been saying about a joint foreign policy. Nevertheless, no issue has caused me greater angst in my public life than trying to come to an agreed position in my own mind on neutrality. I know the jargon, I know the slogans, I know the polarised positions people have taken; but I just do not know what people will eventually do if they try to apply normal principles of human interaction and human behaviour to the question of neutrality. It has not been done.

One of the great problems is that there is not a model in the world for a neutral country. There is no neutral country in the world that I am aware of. One of the problems that has been created is that we have been confused by people labelling Austria, Switzerland or Sweden as socalled neutral countries. They are nothing of the sort and never have been. If neutrality is the Swiss model of having to stand idly by in an “I'm alright, Jack” attitude, when the whole world is tearing itself to pieces, and they continue to [169] make their profits through laundering the ill-gotten gains of drug pushers, the Mafiosa and of every other type of villainous and oppressive regime throughout the world, I do not want that type of neutrality and it was never meant to be that.

I believe that independence thrives on interdependence, and that is the point I would ask Senator Ó Cuív to take. I listened very closely to what he had to say. I am not saying this to invite argument, but there was actually a contradiction in his own argument — the contradiction that we want to be independent in Europe but interdependant on a world scene. I agree with what he is saying. I would prefer to see us moving towards a world scene than concentrating on a European scene but I also recognise that if you use words like “standardisation” and “uniformity” that attacks the diversity he referred to. It does not need to lose the cultural values of a diverse system, but it is a most complex situation and I do not think people should be allowed deal with it by way of slogans.

I think Senator Ó Cuív's contribution this morning has been well reasoned and well thought out. I am not saying he is right or wrong or I am right or wrong. I am saying there is an element of all points of view to be taken into this. I have asked the question of my colleagues on the leftwing of the Irish political spectrum, “How could you on the one hand glorify the injection of support during the Spanish Civil War and, at the same time, say we should never get involved in any kind of a world fight?” I did not like the involvement of our Foreign Minister at that recent meeting, even though it was only with observer status. I disagreed with it. I think it was far too important to be taken in such a light manner. It should have been discussed at all levels here and in the other House.

It is the issue of neutrality which we have not addressed and there is an inherent contradiction in all the arguments on both sides on this issue. The reality is this. Would I stand by while I watch two people about to kill each [170] other? As an individual, do I have a role to play in keeping the peace? I know one thing. I recall the words of a song by one of the great songwriters of the eighties that peace will not come by words alone. Sometimes principles have to be fought for but I have great difficulty to tie that into my own principles on neutrality and I am not a pacifist and never have been.

The confusion between sovereignty, pacifism and neutrality has created extraordinary problems for politicians which they have not sought to resolve and have not sought to work out the differences. It is going to take us a long time to do it. We should move forward slowly and I think we should do it in a way that will be to the common good of all, which we all want. It is not a time for slogans; it is not a time for polarised positions; it is a time, as Senator Ó Cuív said, for looking to the world good and to try to work it out as best we can.

I know I do not want NATO replaced by the Western European Union. I agree completely with Senator Ó Cuív on that. If we do need a world policing body it should be a UN world policing body. I believe we need such a body. In the same way that you cannot run a country without a police force, I think you cannot run a world peace without some sort of a policing authority and the UN is where I would see that, not the Western European Union and not a substitute for NATO.

In this discussion on the proposals to amend the Treaty of Rome there has been one aspect of life, one aspect of one great social area, which has been ignored right throughout the development of Europe since 1957, and that is the area of education. It is the one major social area not included under the Treaty. The reasons for its non-inclusion are sunk in the mists of time, but it has got to do with conservative forces in Church, State and political parties who did not want anybody to touch education. Education has always been seen as the great means of social engineering, the great means of control and, therefore, let us keep it inhouse and let us keep it inside. I believe education has lost out for that reason. It [171] was an area that needed a boost and support and it did not get it.

Quite regularly I read the Treaty of Rome because I always like to go back to basics. The difficulty on education is Article 118 of the Treaty of Rome which, in the third line, says that “the Commission shall have the task of promoting close co-operation between the States particularly in matters relating to... basic and advance vocational training”. It does not include education. Article 128 says that “the Council shall, acting on a proposal from the Commission, lay down general principles for implementing a common vocational training policy.” We are that far — vocational training policy. This is why, for instance, that RTCs are the only apect of the educational system getting support from Europe because their work has been interpreted as being mainly training. That is not true actually but that is the way it has been interpreted. Therefore, they have managed to get it. Any of us who have children at third level education will know the difference between having a child going to an RTC as opposed to going to some other third level institution in terms of the impact it makes on our pockets. I think it is something we need to look at and I think we have lost out very much on it. We must demand a common education policy.

The question I want to put to the Minister is this: I have before me a copy of the proposals which came from the Luxembourg Presidency on the matter of the proposals to amend the Treaty of Rome in those areas. I know that the Irish Government were supportive of them. I know the main Opposition party and, as far as I know, the Labour Party and, as support the general thrust of this. My worry is that the proposals to amend the Treaty of Rome around the area of education — they are very valid proposals and I will make a reference to them in a second — could well be lost in the whole row about the European union, monetary union or political union. I would ask you to ensure that the amendments [172] to Articles 123 to 127, 118 and 128 would not be lost in it.

To allay the fears of people like Senator Ó Cuív, who made a very important point about protecting our cultural values, I will deal with the proposals before us at the moment. Obviously, it will be slightly changed by the Dutch Presidency — I do not have those changes — but, I understand, not significantly. “The Community shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging co-operation between the States, by supporting and complementing their action while respecting the autonomy of the education systems and linguistic and cultural diversity and in particular it should take action to, for instance, develop the dimension of education through the teaching and dissemination of languages etc.” It gives us control and discretion at our own level. I do not have the time to develop on those areas, but just to say that my proposal is that the Government should support this. They are supporting it, as far as I know, but in a very low key way. The Minister should flaunt this one. I think that this is the one that the people need to know about. I have spoken publicly about it and the response I have got has been universally supportive. For instance, I was told two years ago that under objective one of the Structural Funds no money could come to education. I checked that out; it is incorrect.

Under objective one of the Structural Funds the whole country, North and South, is included. We were told it could not go towards education. I have found, for instance, that Portugal has got a programme under the Structural Funds for the building of 7,500 classrooms, a capital investment that amounts in ECUs changed back to pounds as £140 million for that programme. I have been told by Commissioner MacSharry that this was part of the transitional period on Portugal joining the Community; but, if it was, we never got it when we moved in. That £140 million, to put it into context, is ten times the budget that our primary building programme has this year. That money was there at a time when, as every politician [173] in the House knows, there are primary schools and post-primary schools right throughout the country which do not have even general purpose rooms attached to them, do not have decent buildings and badly need to be extended. This is an area which the Government should look at.

In order to facilitate the involvement of all the education partners in European policy making on educational matters we should have a more streamlined structure. I am afraid that education has been passed out in the main developments. We are at a time when our GDP is among the lowest in Europe and our unemployment rate among the highest in Europe. We have been assessed for the purposes of objective one of the Structural Fund as being in need of support. Education is a sine qua non of economic growth. We need to do that. The exclusion of education was a concession to others who did not want a European influence on education but it has also denied us some financial support.

We should now renegotiate European support for programmes of education in Irish schools. Ireland, because it is peripheral — this has been referred to by a number of speakers — and has poor educational resources, is lagging behind. The gap in terms of resources and financing between Ireland's primary education service and the systems in other European countries must be bridged by a comprehensive integrated programme of support for Irish primary schools.

Times have changed. We need a common education policy with each nation having the discretion and autonomy within that to control its own system. This is analogous to the position in quite a number of areas, such as legislation, agriculture, etc. Senator Ó Cuív said he did not quite understand how the question of legislation worked. It is written in there pretty clearly. I know this much: last year agriculture in Ireland got £1.5 billion from Europe, and that is three and a half times the total primary education budget. That is the kind of money that is there which, I believe, we could gain with our profiled young population, etc.

[174] I believe it is vitally important for the future of Irish education that the Irish Government would canvass support for the proposals to include education under the Treaty. These developments could prove to be of the most extraordinary significance for Irish education. We are now paving the way for a programme of European financial support for Irish education.

I do not have time to address the other areas that I would like to, in education or otherwise. A simple final point. There are proposals there to amend the Treaty of Rome around the social legislation area to include education in a way which protects our autonomy and which allows us take control of our educational system in a way that could bring funds into Irish primary education. At a time when the Government are faced with cutbacks in education, I think this should be done. It should be done as a priority and I would urge the Minister to give that commitment during the course of the debate.

Sitting suspended at 1.5 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.

Mr. S. Haughey: I welcome this debate. This House has always paid particular attention to developments in the European Community and that should continue. It is a very timely debate. At the moment we have the two inter-governmental conferences meeting regularly to sort out the very important issues and challenges facing this country and the EC itself. We have the Inter-Governmental Conference on Political Union and the Inter-Governmental Conference on Economic and Monetary Union. As Senators will be aware, these conferences will culminate in the Maastricht Summit on 10 and 11 December.

This debate is extremely important; major issues have to be determined in relation to the future of Europe and it is to be welcomed that Senators are being allowed to air their views in this regard. There are major challenges facing this country and the EC in relation [175] to these two inter-governmental conferences. We have the whole question of farm policy and what has to be done in that regard, the issue of international relations both in the case of this country in relation to other EC countries and, in turn, the relationship between the EC and other countries. The question of voting by the Council of Ministers is of crucial importance to this country and, indeed, the whole question of institutional reform and the powers to be given — if any additional powers are to be given — to the European Parliament. Again of major importance to Ireland is the whole question of economic and social cohesion and whether this country can survive in the great integrated European Community that is being proposed from an economic point of view. These are major question which Ireland has to examine over the next few weeks and about which we have to be particularly vigilant at the Summit on 10 and 11 December.

The first thing which should be stated categorically is that Ireland fully supports the concept of the EC. That issue has long since been debated and everybody must surely agree that the integration of Europe and European Unity must be supported in general. Of course there are many different paths to follow in bringing about that objective but there is no doubt that the EC has been good for Ireland from an economic point of view but also from a social and cultural point of view. We should be happy that the concept of a two speed Europe has been rejected strenuously by this country. That would have led to the disintegration of Europe and, perhaps, the more greedy elements involved in the process of European integration would have taken over and the concept of economic and social cohesion would have been thrown out the window. It is, therefore, a bonus for Ireland that we played such a strong role in rejecting that concept.

I would like to deal briefly with nationalism and where we stand in relation to the EC. The traditional view in this country was that everything Irish [176] was good and everything outside Ireland was bad. That was putting it very simplistically and it is a very outdated notion at this stage. It is ironic, however, to note at this time the emergence of a strong sense of nationalism in many part of the world, particularly in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In that context it is very fortunate that the EC countries are becoming more integrated and that chaos in the political world will not be allowed to happen. The fact that certain people, many years ago, brought forward the concept of a united Europe was very fortunate. The EC now can play a major role in bringing about stability in the European continent. Where does that leave nationalism in this country? I believe there is a new sense of nationalism emerging and a redefinition. Our country as a prestige concept has become much more significant in world affairs. For that reason we can be proud of ourselves in that we are now well and truly playing our part in international affairs, in Europe and in bringing about stability in the world in general. We are doing this through the mechanism of the EC, and that is to be welcomed. I would also argue that exposure to other nationalities and cultures in Europe has strengthened our own culture. That should be built upon. There is a new realisation of what we are and what we have. There should be a new realisation of the importance of our language, our music and our culture. It is only when you leave Ireland that you appreciate exactly what we have here. It is vitally important that the EC process would ensure that we become much more aware of our own culture and identity within the EC. Exposure to other nationalities has allowed that to happen.

Dublin is European City of Culture for 1991. That was an important initiative to come from the EC framework. We are being exposed to the best that other European cultures have to offer. That allows us to take stock and be proud of what we have ourselves. The EC has not diminished the role of nationalism in this country but it has certainly redefined it and brought it a stage further. It has [177] meant that we can play a much stronger role in world affairs.

The whole concept of economic and social cohesion is of crucial importance to this country. An economic text book would tell you that if market forces are allowed to have their own way the periphery of any economy will do worse than the centre. That is a fact which is of crucial importance to this country internally and also in relation to our economic relations with other EC countries. It is vitally important that we get this concept of economic and social cohesion right at the Summit in Maastricht in December. We have to continue to insist that the regions and peripheries of Europe are developed.

I referred to the concept of a two-speed Europe earlier. That, I would suggest, was an attempt to leave the regions to look after themselves and to ignore, for the time being, the problems that the peripheries of Europe are experiencing. That must concentrate all our efforts on how best to ensure that the regions are brought along in the whole concept of an integrated EC. New methods need to be looked at in that regard.

I would like to deal with the whole question of institutional reform and very much on the agenda at the moment is the institution of the European Parliament. There is a general recognition that more power should be given to the European Parliament. We need to tread very carefully in that regard from an Irish point of view. Ireland only has 15 MEPs in a very big Chamber and I just wonder how significant our 15 MEPs are out there and how they can be effective in keeping in mind particular Irish issues which may emerge. I would have to suggest that their influence in the European Parliament must be negligible in relation to the influence of other countries in that institution. We need to be very careful as regards the balance of power between the institutions in the European Parliament. It must be recognised that as the European Council we have one vote out of 12 which is much more influential and, therefore, we need to look very carefully at what powers we are proposing to give [178] the new European Parliament. I have a problem in relation to our own representation in the European Parliament, not on an individual basis, but we need to bring about mechanisms to involve our MEPs much more in our proceedings here at home and in the Oireachtas.

Unfortunately we do not hear much about our MEPs here at home. I do not know whose fault that is. Obviously the media could be cited and other areas could be looked at. If MEPs are to keep in the public eye here at home they have to go for big media headline-catching issues in order to be seen to be doing something. Issues such as Sellafield and other issues are always dealt with by our MEPs. These are, of course, important issues but it also means that our MEPs get publicity at home. Unfortunately the finer issues of the European Parliament and indeed of the EC in general do not make headlines here at home and, therefore, we need to know more about what exactly our MEPs are doing out there.

We will have to tread cautiously in relation to the European Parliament. There is no doubt that it is a very worthwhile institution but from our own standpoint we need to look at that very carefully.

Much as been said today in the debate regarding the concept of Irish neutrality. The first thing we need to do is to ask what exactly is Irish neutrality. There is no doubt that it is certainly the avoidance of military alliances. That is a certainty. I think the vast majority of people in this country would agree with that. For me, neutrality is a little bit more. It is also the need to promote peace and justice throughout the world, to be involved in international relations from a small country's point of view and to develop peace initiatives and so on. That is also in our tradition of Irish neutrality here. From that point of view, I would have to put forward the suggestion that the EC has, in fact, enhanced our neutrality. As a small nation we can now be heard in the EC and indeed in the EC process. Our unique traditions and history can be brought to the various issues which emerge from time to time in the world.

[179] Therefore, we can now be heard and, indeed, we can now play a key role in promoting peace and justice. From that point of view our neutrality has been enhanced.

That brings us back to the whole question of the military aspect. Again our Government need to be very vigilant in that regard. The indications are that the concept of defence is being left for another day and that is to be welcomed. I would certainly put forward the view that the EC should have nothing to do with military alliances. There are other organisations involved in that area and that is something which we must put forward. I was heartened by the comments of the Taoiseach in the debate on Wednesday, 16 October, 1991 where he said and I quote:

There is agreement that the definition of a defence policy is something for the future, and the recognition that any defence identity for the union must take account of our traditional position.

What the Taoiseach is saying is that our traditional position is being recognised and I think that is a credit to our Government and something to be very much welcomed.

It must be remembered also when we are talking about Irish neutrality that we are also a member of the United Nations. It was brought home very strikingly to me during the Gulf War that by reason of our membership of the United Nations we could have been asked to participate in a military war. As it happened the only debate we had in this country in that regard was in relation to the stop-over for refuelling at Shannon. We should be conscious of the fact that the United Nations can oblige us to become involved in military conflicts throughout the world. Again the concept of neutrality becomes nebulous when you take that into account. There is hope for the future, too, in the fact that other countries are now attempting to join the EC.

[180] When the European Summit is concluded, we hope successfully, in December, integration will be well and truly in place and the prospects for further expansion can then be examined. The question of Austria joining the EC is important. Austria is traditionally neutral. I am not sure of what the latest is in that regard but I assume they do adhere to a policy of neutrality. Other countries such as Norway and Sweden are making efforts to join the EC also. The EC countries need not automatically all be members of NATO. There is nothing to say that they should be. Therefore, other neutrals would seem to be able to join the EC and consequently, that removes any question that the EC will, in fact, eventually become a military bloc. I do not think anybody in this country would welcome that, were it to happen.

There is one other thing I would like to say. Our Taoiseach and our Government, our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins and our Ministers of State should be congratulated for the way they have conducted themselves in relation to all these EC negotiations. I am convinced that they have done us proud. I know for a fact they are highly regarded in Europe. I know that they are trenchantly looking after our interests but the interests of the Community as a whole are also being looked after very carefully. I know that our representatives have built up a very strong network of contacts in the Community, contacts which can be called upon from time to time, and alliances are being formed every so often. These, too, are fully realised by our people, our representatives and our MEPs. That should be put on the record. We are a united Government when dealing with other European countries at the table of the European Council and other institutions. Therefore, I wonder would an alternative Government, made up of The Workers' Party, the Labour Party or whatever, be so united in looking after the interests of this country in the EC context. That is something to be aware of. I would like to put on record our gratitude to the [181] Government for the way they are dealing with the EC question.

Pól Ó Foighil: Bhí mé éisteacht go cruinn ó mhaidin le chuid mhaith de na cainteoirí agus chuir sé áthas orm gur luaigh siad uilig beagnach go raibh luach cultúrtha nó cultural value chun tosaigh san Eoraip. Tá mise im chónaí in áit a bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar theanga labhartha fós beo ar éigean. Dá bharr sin tá spéis faoi leith agam san Eoraip ní amháin i labhairt teangacha ach sa chaoi a bhfuil Coimisiún na hEorpa ag feidhmiú i leith ceantar imeallacha nó peripheral areas.

Tá mé an-sásta go bhfuil an Comhphobal Eorpach ann agus gur éirigh leis an tír seo go leor cúnaimh a fháil ón Eoraip. Gan muid bheith páirteach inti bheimis fágtha ar an ngannchuid mar stát. Dá bhrí sin ní chun dí-mheas a dhéanamh ar chúnamh na hEorpa don tír seo a labhróidh mé ach chun bheith criticiúil ar an gcaoi in a bhfuil an cúnamh sin á roinnt sa tír.

Thagair cuid eile de na Seanadóirí don neodracht agus don Eoraip i gcúrsaí domhanda, ach ba mhaith liomsa díriú go speisialta ar aon ghné amháin, faoi mar atá an Eoraip ag feidhmiú i mo shaolsa agus i saol mhuintir an iarthar, agus sa chomhthéacs sin tá mé ag caint faoi régiúnachas nó regionalisation.

Má fhaighim locht ar Rialtas na tíre seo i leith na ceiste seo níl mé ag caitheamh anuas ar aon Rialtas faoi leith. Tá mé ag caint faoi na Rialtais uilig ó chuaigh muid isteach sa Chomhmhargadh. Tá mé ag dul siar go dtí Pascali ón Iodáil a chuir an smaoineamh ar aghaidh sna seachtóidí go mbeadh an réigiúnachas chun tosaigh in aon ghnó go mbeadh tíortha na hEorpa ag plé leo. Leag sé síos slí oibre in a bhféadfaí é sin a dhéanamh, agus tá go leor de na scéimeanna a cuireadh ar fáil tríd an Chomhphobal Eorpach dírithe ar an réigiúnachas.

Is é an fáth go bhfuil mé chomh díomách sin faoi chúrsaí na hEorpa i leith na hÉireann ná an inchur atá agus a bheidh, de réir mar a fheicimse é, in iarthar na [182] hÉireann mar réigiún. Mar a dúirt mé, na Rialtais go léir ar an tír seo ghlac siad leis an cinneadh a deineadh san Eoraip nach raibh ach réigiún amháin ann, is é sin réigiún na hÉireann uilig. In aon reachtaíocht amháin a deineadh san Eoraip cuireadh muintir Bhaile Átha Cliath agus muintir an Chlocháin i gConamara agus muintir an Chorcaigh thiar agus muintir na n-oileán go léir, cuireadh iad uilig isteach in aon chiseán amháin. Tá glactha leis sin bíodh is go raibh cuid againn anuas tríd na blianta ag iarraidh go mbeadh struchtúr ann, mar a bhí agus nar atá i gceist ag an Eoraip, ionnas go bhféadfadh leis na réigiúin deileáil go díreach leis an Eoraip agus go mbeadh an cúnamh ag teacht go díreach chucu, mar a tharlaíonn, cuir i gcás, in oileáin na hAlban. D'éirigh leo siúd stádas réigiúnach a bhaint amach agus dá bharr sin, tháinig airgead, ní trí Westminster ach díreach isteach go dtí an ceantar sin. Tá áiteanna sa Ghearmáin, ceantair bheaga, atá aitheanta ag an tír sin mar réigiúin i lár na Gearmáine. Tá an cúnamh airgid ag teacht díreach go dtí na réigiúin sin, agus ní tríd an rialtas láir. Sin é m'fhadhbsa, sin é mo ghearánsa. Ní inniu ná inné a thosaigh cuid againne ag caint faoi sin. Sin é an fhaillí is mó, bíodh go ndearna an Eoraip agus an CE anmhaitheas san iomlán, agus ba bhocht an tír í seo mura mbeadh sí páirteach ann. Ar an móriomlán chaithfimis a admháil gur tháinig go leor airgid isteach sa tír seo, ach ní hiad na ceantair imeallacha ar chósta thiar na hÉireann, ó Dhún na nGall go Gaillimh, Corcaigh agus Ciarraí, timpeall ansin——

Mr. Calleary: Ná déan dearmad ar Mhaigh Eo.

Pól Ó Foighil: Baineann siad leis na ceantair uilig. Tá tú cruinn ceart, a Aire Stáit, go mórmhór nuair a labhraítear ar Bhéal an Mhuirthead, Each Léim agus Ros Dumhach. Is dóigh liom nár thug mé liom litir a fuair mé ó Ros Dumhach inné.

[183] Acting Chairman (Mr. McKenna): Labhair tríd an gCathaoir, más é do thoil é.

Pól Ó Foighil: Gabh mo leithscéal. Is trua liom nár thug mé liom é. Aisteach go leor, is fear é a bhfuil cónaí air i mBéal an Átha. Tá sé ag caint díreach ar an rud seo, ar an easpa input atá déanta mar gheall ar an pholasaí seo. Is cuimhin liom féin bheith i mo iarrthóir don Eoraip, go bhfóire Dia orainn, roinnt blianta ó shin, agus sa toghchán sheas mé ar son pholasaí Pascali. Ag an choinbhinsiún i Sligeach nuair a glacadh liom mar iarrthóir, dúirt mé nach raibh de shuim agam san Eoraip ach cur chun cinn iarthar na hÉireann. Ba léir dom, mura bhféadfaimis rud éigin a dhéanamh dúinn féin san iarthar ba bheag an mhaith dúinn bheith ag caint faoi rud a dhéanamh do Bhaile Átha Cliath nó d'aon áit eile, go gcaithfimis aire a thabhairt don bhaile agus don chaoi a raibh rudaí sa bhaile. Ach, ar aon nós, b'in é an polasaí a bhí agam, ach, faraor, níorbh é sin an polasaí a bhí ag mo pháirtí, ach oiread le Fianna Fáil.

Is é an polasaí atá fós ann ná go mbeadh Éire mar réigiún amháin agus chuile phingin a chaitear san Eoraip ag teacht tríd an Rialtas láir agus an chuid is mó den airgead á chaitheamh, ní in iarthar na hÉireann ach in oirthear na tíre, rud atá le feiceáil go soiléir. Níl mé ag lochtú an oirthir as an airgead sin a fháil. Ach céard fúinne? Céard faoin iarthar? I gcomhthéacs na hEorpa agus na reachtaíochta maidir le haontacht, a mbeidh reifreann ann faoi an bhliain seo chugainn, cén chaoi a gcaithfear le muintir an iarthair sa chomhthéacs sin nuair a chuirfear ar a súile dóibh gur beag a bheidh le fáil acu, nó gur bheag a fuair siad as. Tá sé seo ag dul ar aghaidh le blianta, mar is eol go maith don Aire Stáit. Is cuimhin liom sna seascaidí, agus b'fhéidir gur cuimhin leis an Aire Stáit é freisin.

Acting Chairman: Níl tusa chomh haosta sin.

Pól Ó Foighil: Bhuel, bhí mé ann ag plé leis sna seascaidí. Tá mé sean go [184] maith i ngan fhios duit. Bhí gluaiseacht ann a thosaigh i gContae Mhaigh Eo ar tugadh “Save the West” air. Bhí roinnt againn páirteach san eagraíocht, leithéidí Fr. Stevens ó Hollymount, Jim Donoghue ó Charlestown, Seán McEvoy agus mé féin. Labhair muid ag cruinnithe faoi fhíor-dhrochstaid an iarthair ag an am agus b'shin siar sna seascaidí, tríocha bliain ó shin. Cé go raibh a lán tacaíochta againn i measc an phobail, níor éirigh linn mórán a dhéanamh. Is cuimhin liom nuair a bhí Tomás Ó Domhnaill ina Aire Gaeltachta bhí sé go mór ar son Western Authority a bhunú taobh thair den tSionainn. Rinneadh go leor oibre air sin ach chuir muintir Bhaile Átha Cliath stop leis. Níl mé ag caint go paróisteach anseo ach go réigiúnach i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa iomláine. Is beag maith dúinn má deir muid go bhfuil an Eoraip ag déanamh an-mhaith don tír seo má tá iarthar na tíre ag dul a imeacht as de bharr gan foirithint, gan cúnamh ceart a fháil ón Rialtas láir.

Cé air a bhfuil an locht faoin bhfadhb seo? Is ar na comhairleoirí contae ar fad sna réigiúin sin an locht: ar chomhairleoirí chontaethe Mhaigh Eo, na Gaillimhe, Ros Comáin, Shligigh, Liatroma agus Dhún na nGall. Agus cén fáth? Mar nach seasann siad uilig le chíile. Cén fáth nach ndeireann siad amach leis an Rialtas láir, “Tá ár ndóthain againn, ní féidir linn dul níos faide leis seo. Caithfear réigiún a bhunú taobh thiar den tSionainn agus na struchtúir a chur i bhfeidhm sa chaoi is go mbeimid in ann leas a bhaint as an lear mór airgid atá ag teacht isteach go dtí an tír seo”.

Lochtaím go mór na comhairleoirí contae sna contaetha a luaigh mé, nach bhfuil sásta teacht le chéile agus éileamh a dhéanamh air seo. Níl sé ach cúpla lá ó shin a tháinig an doiciméad seo amach — Developing the West Together — agus tá mé cinnte go bhfuil sé faighte ag an Aire Stáit. Cé chuir é seo ar fáil? Arbh iad na polaiteoirí as an iarthar, Teachtaí Dála, Seanadóirí an iarthair nó comhairleoirí contae an iarthair a rinne é? Níorbh iad go deimhin. Ba iad easpaig an iarthair a chuir ar fáil é. Tá sé curtha ar fáil acu [185] mar feiceann siad go bhfuil fíor-dhrochchaoi, i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa, ar iarthar na hÉireann, gur beag atá á dhéanamh faoi agus gur beag a dhéanfar faoi. Dar liomsa, nuair a bheidh Acht Aontachta na hEorpa (Single European Act) ag dul os comhair phobal na hÉireann an bhliain seo chugainn lena fháil amach an bhfuilimid sásta le chuile shóort beidh comhartha ceiste mór agamsa agus ag go leor daoine eile faoin Acht sin i gcomhthéacs iarthair na hÉireann. Tá a fhios agam go ndeirfear liom agus mo leithéidse go bhfuilimid paróisteach, go bhfuilimid ag caint parish pump politics agus muid ag caint faoin iarthar i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa, agus i gcomhthéacs an integrated plan mór atá anois ann don Eoraip. Is é an rud atá ag tarlú anois in aghaidh an lae ná go bhfuil an Eoraip ag fás ón lár anois, an axis istigh — an Ghearmáin, an Eoraip Thoir agus istigh ansin atá an chumhacht agus an láidreacht. De réir mar a bhíonn croí lár na hEorpa ag daingniú agus ag fás is ea is lú a gheobhaidh na ceantair imeallacha, na peripheral areas — Maigh Eo, Gaillimh, Ros Comáin, Sligeach, Dún na nGall, agus airím iad sin mar the most peripheral of all peripheral areas i gcomhthéacs an rud atá á rá agam. Níl tada in Acht Aontacht na hEorpa, a bheas os comhair phobail na hÉireann an bhliain seo chugainn, do mhuintir an iarthair munar féidir socrú éigin a dhéanamh faoi seo ag an am sin.

Chuirfeadh an doiciméad seo faitíos ar aon pholaiteoir nó ar aon duine a bhfuil cónaí air in iarthar na hÉireann. Má bhreathnaíonn tú ar an gclár atá ann: “Current trends in rural decline, social implications of rural decline, failure of current policies and structures”. An pointe atá á dhéanamh agamsa ná go bhfuil go leor cúnaimh le fáil ón Eoraip; tá go leor scéimeanna ann ach níl na scéimeanna sin ag déanamh leas mórán don tír seo. Mar shampla: the Western Package, scéim iontach í sin; the Integrated Rural Development Programme, scéim phíolóiteach a cuireadh ar bun go náisiúnta ansin agus a raibh mé féin agus go leor daoine mar mé páirteach ann; tá [186] Community Framework Support ó 1989-92 ann, agus bhí cláracha rural development, operational programmes for tourism, operational programmes for farmyard pollution, operational programmes for forestry, combat poverty, long term unemployment, the Leader Programme. Tá siad ag caint anois faoi The Women's Programme, Euroform training. Tá an t-uafás cláracha ann. Tá research and development programme, the star programme, atá cumtha go speisialta do iarthar na hÉireann ó thaobh cumarsáide de. Tá ongoing support le haghaidh traenáil trí FÁS, Vocational Education Committees, CERT, Rehab, Universities, Teagasc. Tá an oiread cláracha emanating out of Europe go dtí an tír seo agus airgead dá réir, ach má tá sé sin fíor cén fáth a bhfuil a leithéid seo de conference fógraithe? An freagra simplí atá ann ná nach bhfuil na cláracha ag feidhmiú i gceantair san iarthar mar nach réigiúin ar leith iad.

Feicim an méid ama a chuirimid amú ag dul ag cruinnithe agus an méid gealltanas a fuair muid ó thaobh caiteachas airgid agus a bheadh le fáil ón Roinn Talmhaíochta agus chuile shórt eile. Baineadh an £5 mhilliún a bhí le fáil den programme ar fad an bhliain seo caite.

Níl mé ag caint faoin gclár sin amháin. Tá mé ag caint i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa don rud atá ag tarlú dúinn uilig in iarthar na hÉireann. Caithfimid dúiseacht. Deireann sé anseo mar shampla: “With the advent of the Single European Market in 1993 the west of Ireland is facing a real challenge for its very survival”. Nuair atáimid ag caint ar Acht Aontachta a thabhairt isteach a thabharfaidh níos mó brabaidh, níos mó cúnaimh agus níos mó margaí nuair a bheas gach rud istigh le chéile agus an cineál cumhachta agus chuile rud atá ann, nach aisteach an rud é go bhfuil easpaig an iarthair ag caint faoi “the very survival of the west of Ireland”. Tá an chaint seo ar bun le dhá scór bliain. Is fada an lá ó dúirt John Healy “No one cried stop”. Tá sé tagaithe go dtí an pointe anois nach fiú stop a rá, tá sé chomh dona sin. Tá sé sin i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa a bhfuilimidne [187] mar bhall-stáit de. Deirtear sa doiciméad seo arís:

If the objectives of greater economic and social convergence and cohesion envisaged in the new Europe are to be achieved in one of the ECs most remote and undeveloped regions, new and imaginative policies will have to be devised. In particular a comprehensive regional development strategy for the west of Ireland must be designed and sufficient human and financial resources allocated for its implementation. The people of the western region must be fully involved if this process is to be successful.

Is é an pointe atá á dhéanamh agamsa ná go bhfuil neart cúnaimh ag teacht, go bhfuil na resources ann, go bhfuil siad ag teacht isteach sa tír ach de bharr na structúr agus an chaoi a n-oibríonn siad níl siad in ann teacht go dtí iarthar na tíre. Caithfimid structúr polaitiúil a chur ar bun idir seo agus lá an reifrinn le go bhféadfaí a rá go fíreannach go bhfuil deireadh leis an meath seo, agus leis an gcur-i-gcéill atá ann ó thaobh caiteachas airgid an EC de. Dá mbeadh na cláracha go léir a luaigh mé ag obair ní bheadh 37 faoin gcéad de chathair na Gaillimhe as obair. Ní bheadh paróistí in iarthar na hÉireann scoite ina leath agus ní bheadh idir 50 faoin gcéad agus 70 faoin gcéad den aois-ghrúpa idir scór agus 35 bliana d'aois imithe. Níl na cláracha ag obair; dá bhrí sin caithfimid tosú agus gealltanais a thabhairt tríd an Euraip roimh an reifreann. Níl aon mhaith a rá go gcuirfear structúr nua ar bun nó go ndéanfar rud éigin do iarthar na hÉireann taréis an reifrinn. Sin an sean scéal polaitiúil. Mair a chapaill agus gheobhair féar, mar a deirtear sa Ghaeilge. Tá siad ag rá le muintir iarthar na hÉireann anois, “fanaigí ansin, tiocfaimid i gcúnamh oraibh, ní fios dúinn cén uair, cén am, cén bhliain, cén aois”. Is truamhéileach an scéal é go gcaithfear eagraíocht eile a chur ar bun for “developing the west together”, agus go gcaithfidh a rá: “if the current decline is to be halted and even more serious social and economic problems [188] prevented, the specific needs of the west of Ireland must be recognised and met with a properly resourced and a regional development plan”. They must be recognised. Caithfimid aitheantas a thabhairt dóibh. Níl aon aitheantas oifigiúil tugtha ach amháin caint faoi na deacrachtaí atá ann taobh thiar den tSiona. Tá sé sin ag leanúint ar aghaidh bliain i ndiaidh bliana, mí i ndiaidh míosa.

Is trua liom go bhfuil mé ag caint mar seo. Tá an-mheas agam ar an gComhphobal agus ar an méid atá déanta ag an gComhphobal. Feicim na bóithre agus na ring-roads agus na by-passanna go léir. Bhí mé an-bhuíoch agus mé ar mo bhealach anseo inné nach raibh orm dul trí Áth Luain agus an bóthar sé mhíle a chosain thart ar £35 mhilliún. Níl mise dá cháineadh sin. Cuireadh an DART isteach le airgead na hEorpa. Feicim, mar shampla, airgead ón Structural Funds le haghaidh turasóireachta. Deirtear linn gurb é iarthar na hÉireann seod turasóireachta na tíre. Níl mé ag caint faoi Maigh Eo agus Ghaillimh amháin, ach tá mé ag caint faoi Dhún na nGall, Chiarraí, Chorcaigh agus mar sin de. Breathnaigh cá ndeachaigh na Structural Funds. Breathnaigh ar an £800,000 a caitheadh i Straffan le golf course a dhéanamh. Agus leath-mhilliún eile a caitheadh thíos i bPortláirge — Straffan eile — le golf course a dhéanamh. Bhí daoine páirteach sna rudaí sin a raibh an t-airgead acu len é a dhéanamh iad féin. Agus fós táimidne i gConamara agus i Maigh Eo agus i nDún na nGall agus in áiteanna eile nach féidir linn luach pingine bullseyes a fháil ón gComhphobal Eorpach. Ní féidir linn na Structural Funds le haghaidh turasóireachta atá chomh tábhachtach sin, a fháil. Tá sé ráite anseo ag an Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC): “As factories close and the IDA and the Údarás battle to secure replacement industries — is é sin go bhfuil ag teip ar go leor de na monarchana sa tír, ag cur iarthar na hÉireann san áireamh — the holiday business is forging ahead on the employment front and is now responsible for 37 per cent of new jobs. The study also indicates there is a strong case for supporting tourism development in the poorer regions of [189] the country in the north-west and west especially.” Tá an t-airgead ag teacht isteach sa tír agus is é an pointe atá á dhéanamh agamsa arís agus arís eile nach easpa airgid atá ann ó thaobh muidne in iarthar na hÉireann ná easpa cúnaimh atá ar fáil ón gComhphobal. Is é an bealach a chaitear an t-airgead sin a bhfuil mise animníoch faoi agus an-díomach faoi. Deir na heaspaig sa dociméad seo nach bhfuil aon fhonn orthu siúd dul chun cinn leis an ghlór seo a dhéanamh agus an rud seo a chur le chéile. Níl sé á dhéanamh acu de bharr a n-intinn féin ach toisc go bhfuil an oiread sin daoine mór-le-rá in iarthar na hÉireann, daoine bochta, feirmeoirí beaga agus lucht gnótha ag teacht chucu agus a rá leo go bhfuil a saol, a gcuid gnó, agus a gcuid dul-chun-cinn go mór i gcontúirt agus nach mbeidh siad in ann é a sheasamh morán achair eile. Is de bharr an in-chur sin ó na daoine sin ag ha heaspaig gur iarr siad orthu an seimineár seo a thabhairt le chéile.

Is cuid lofa de úll iomlán sinn san iarthar gan cúnamh ceart agus ar an dé deiridh ar nós an teanga atá mise dá labhairt. Tá na structúir teanga ag imeacht. I gcionn dha ghlúin eile, i mo thuairimse, ní bheidh an Ghaeilge mar theanga labhartha ag an tríú ghlún atá ag teacht aníos. Is trua liom é sin a rá. Tá sé ag lagú agus éirí níos tanaí in aghaidh gach deich mblian. Táimid tagaithe go dtí an pointe go bhfuil an Ghaeilge níos láidre anois taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht ná mar atá sí istigh sa Ghaeltacht. Sin i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa agus i gcomhthéacs an chúnaimh don tír seo. Sin i gcomhthéacs an reigiúnachais do iarthar na hEireann nach bhfuil ann, nach raibh riamh ann agus, dar liomsa, it is like flogging a dead horse. Níl sé chun tárlú mar níl an meon polaitiúil ag comhairlí chontae an iarthair, ag Teachtaí Dála an iarthair, ag Seanadóirí an iarthair, teacht le chéile, a gcosa a chur i dtalamh agus a rá: So far and no further go dtí go bhfaighimid cuid den cháca sin atá dá scaipeadh go forleathan timpeall na hÉireann agus nach bhfuil ag déanamh aon mhaith dúinn. Dá mbeadh na structúir chearta ann bheadh a mhalairt de scéal againn.

[190] D'fhéadfaimís go leor a labhairt ar structúir na hEorpa, ar neodracht i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa, ar mhargaí ar chúrsaí fostaíochta agus na pleananna go léir atá ann. Ach domsa ar chaoi ar bith níl rud níos práinní agus an gad is giorra do mo scórnach ag an nóiméad seo ná slánú iarthar na hÉireann. Muna bhfuilimid in ann é a dhéanamh trid an Eoraip táimid imithe agus curtha i dtalamh.

Mr. Costello: I would like to take up where Senator Ó Foighil left off. He spoke about the neglect of the western part of the country which I am from originally. I am quite aware of and sympathise with his concern that we did not see fit to ensure that there was proper balanced development or that the funding that was available from the EC was properly distributed and used to develop the west of Ireland and other neglected areas. That is quite true. We knew that Europe was moving towards the Single European Act for the past number of years and a five year programme was specifically put in place to cover the years 1988 to 1993 to ensure that we would eliminate the discrepancies and the disproportionate development that existed to enable us to be in a better position to have access to markets, to be more competitive and to have a greater and more efficient infrastructure so that we would be Europeans on a parallel with those who live on the mainland of Europe.

We took a totally wrong approach to it. Originally we set up seven developmental areas which are still on the map. However, what happened in practice was that the Government through their centralised department in Dublin took over the entire channelling of the funding from Europe, and the presentation of proposals to Europe for such development and the democratic representation and consultation intended by the European Social Affairs Commissioner Bruce Millan were never entered into by our Government. We did not establish the proper structures to ensure a balanced input of resources to prepare us for 1993. [191] It is a major disappointment that we had to go about it in a centralised rather than in a regionalised fashion as was originally intended.

I have reservations about the feasability of a crash course of economic input over a five year period designed to transform us from a peripheral nation to a central nation. That simply cannot be done. Our negotiators were quite lax when they accepted those terms of reference for the introduction of the Single European Act. We are only a year and a few months away from the implementation of that Act but a long way away from being participating members of the European Community with the barriers down for an open market in Europe. I am very concerned about the future and the way in which we have prepared for it. It ill behoves us to be critical of the way developments have taken place elsewhere when we have not put our own house in order.

The Maastricht Summit will be held in December and we still have not had a debate on our position in relation to Europe. We have the Luxembourg draft treaty of union to consider and the proposals contained in it, yet, it is only in the revised Programme for Government between the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil that we have received confirmation that some form of European affairs committee will be established. Will this committee deal with these broad issues relating to integration into Europe, or what form will it take? Will it be a pale reflection of what we have always been looking for — a foreign affairs committee where we could debate and be up to date with developments taking place elsewhere in the world? Are we belatedly getting some acknowledgement that there is a need for debate, public discussion and participation by the Oireachtas in the preparations for integration into Europe? We are now about to embark on defining our position in relation to the draft treaty proposed by Luxembourg and I am not sure that anybody here knows where we stand on any of the issues.

[192] There are three separate threads to the treaty being proposed. One is in relation to the Community in terms of political, economic and monetary union. The second is in terms of foreign affairs and social policy which would also cover the very controversial area of defence and neutrality. The third thread relates to the question of juridical co-operation between nations.

The first thread is of extreme importance because it deals with the entire range of social, monetary, political and economic factors. That is the bread and butter of union; we are in Europe primarily to enhance our quality of living, to improve our prospects of employment, to enjoy markets that we did not have before and to ensure that we are part of the European Community in culture, society and economics. The extent to which we might participate, potential problems and the prioritisation of certain aspects have yet to be defined.

Let us take education for example, which has been very strictly and rigidly defined under the old Treaty of Rome. The infamous Article 128 defined education strictly in terms of training and that would be the only way in which Europe would provide funds for education to any member state because that was the original intention of a coal and steel industrial conglomerate put together for a specific industrial purpose. The European Community has since expanded greatly but it has not yet redefined the purpose of education. Obviously education is not only training or vocational education; it includes the entire process of learning, the broad development of people. We have never got around to redefining that. Is that going to happen in this new draft treaty? As a member of the European Community do we want a narrow training definition or are we going to have an input into a redefinition of the learning process in an integrated European Community? We should also discuss funding that might be forthcoming for broader educational purposes rather than narrow vocational ones.

[193] The area of tourism is of vital concern to all of us and certainly to Senator Ó Foighil in relation to the west of Ireland. We must discuss the future course that tourism will take and what the input of member states in this regard will be and how this will affect us in the long term as a member of the European Community. I am not aware that we have any broad Community-based policy in relation to tourism here. We have had a policy for many years in relation to Bord Fáilte who do great work but we have not given any priority to the new developments. I would like to hear the Minister respond on how we are adjusting ourselves for 1993. We have not had a debate and unless the Minister is prepared to tell us now that some wonderful proposals have been put in place I doubt if anything has been done to prepare us.

What is our role in the area of energy and the environment when other countries in the EC are committed to atomic power and nuclear energy? How are we going to fare in that scenario? Do we have position papers on that? What will our input be in Maastricht in December? How are we going to respond to the draft treaty?

We have major problems with transport as a peripheral nation. How will we get our goods to the centre of Europe where the markets are? We have put some money into infrastructural development but we are still underdeveloped. Senator Ó Foighil could tell us about the potholes on the roads in Connemara. We could talk about candidates who were elected in the recent local elections in Cavan and Monaghan to highlight the poor condition of our roads. We have to cross a sea to get our goods to England and a further sea to get them to the European mainland. It is essential also to discuss the question of health and disease problems prevailing in animal herds in Europe and certain problems we have to deal with ourselves. We need to address many of these problems in the context of our own disadvantage as a peripheral nation.

[194] We have talked much about the GATT and the restructuring of the common agricultural policy which is long overdue. There are many reservations about the way the Commissioner is doing it but we have been very slow to grasp the nettle especially in that critical area of the food industry and the marketing of goods. In terms of the mountains of food in Europe we have been very slow to come to grips with a problem which is central to our development. We are divided on this issue. The entire farming community is opposed to the Commissioner's proposals. How are we going to go into the talks on that very important aspect of the first pillar of the new treaty being proposed, which is economic development?

The second aspect, namely the question of security and foreign affairs, is an extremely controversial area as well. We have traditionally had a policy of neutrality in this country. The other members of the European Community have not shared our enthusiasm for neutrality, to say the least. We are now entering into a much more cohesive union with Europe and we were assured under the Single European Act that our military, our security and our national integrity would not be compromised. I am not sure that that view is shared either by the Commission or by the Council of Europe or, indeed by the majority of parliamentarians in Europe. What position have we on that? Our Commissioner, Ray MacSharry, stated the other day that he foresaw us entering into a military alliance. Is that position being taken up by the Government? Are we not only entering a European economic and political alliance but also a military alliance? Certainly the very least we should know are the Government's views on it, even if we do not know what their intentions are. They could at least publish a Green Paper or a White Paper or some descriptional paper as to where they stand rather than have conflicting statements coming from individual Ministers and from individual Opposition speakers and, of [195] course, contrary statements are emanating all the time from Europe. I regard this as extremely serious.

May I quote one statement in relation to what was proposed by the Commission as late as 21 May 1991? The Commission presented documents to the inter-governmental conference and the following statement was issued:

The Commission argued that it would be more consistent with the basic thinking that has been behind the construction of Europe for 40 years now, namely that all progress made towards economic, monetary, social or political integration should gradually be put together in a single Community as a precursor of European union. The Commission argued in particular that if foreign and security policy were to stand alone as a separate pillar fully separated from all other policies with equal but separate status to the Community then the objective agreed in the Rome European Council meeting of securing coherence of the overall external acts of the Community would be prejudiced.

The Commission evidently feels that military union is part and parcel of political and economic and social union. That is not a view I would share and the Community need not necessarily develop in that direction. If we envisge the future development of Europe enlarging beyond the original six, ten and 12 countries, and including the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland and Eastern Europe, then we are talking about an entirely different climate of opinion in relation to European union. Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries would certainly not be in favour of the equivalent of NATO. What is the role of NATO? What is the perceived role of NATO? Is it going to be a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation? Is it going to retain the participation of Canada and the United States or are we thinking of a European union of military powers? Neither of those alternatives is satisfactory; we should be thinking of getting rid of [196] NATO. The Warsaw Pact has already gone into demise. Each alliance was created to counteract the other and both are unnecessary. I do not see the advantage of creating a new military structure. I would prefer to wait for further memberships so that the matter could be examined by the European Conference on Security and Co-operation with the 35 member states it represents at present. We could deal with security and co-operation in that context and the question of internal European security could be left for the time being given the developments that are taking place in relation to the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact.

We could examine this question in the context of the speech made by our President in the United States only a few days ago when she said there was great need to restructure the United Nations, that the United Nations was the world police person, and that it was in that context that we should be looking at the future. It was one watchdog structure where we could all participate and monitor developments in member states to ensure peace and security. There is always the danger of a body set up with military personnel and strong military strengths and with the participation of military nations becoming an offensive rather than a defensive body. I would be very concerned about potential developments in that area.

Thirdly, in relation to judicial development and co-operation, the functions required there are in terms of our policy to European citizens regarding frontiers, visa policy, emigration policies and, of course, international criminal matters. I have no doubt that all of that can be co-ordinated and implemented between member states. I am sure Senator Norris would share my view when I state my appreciation of the European dimension of the judicial process and how it has assisted member states' actions taken in the court of justice whether by an individual citizen or by one State against another. We would be very reluctant to allow any infringement of the possibility of going to the European Court of Human Rights or to the European Court [197] of Justice in relation to matters which concern the rights of individual citizens or individual States.

In the context of parliamentary structures, what relationship will obtain between the Council, the Commission and Parliament? What will voting powers within the Parliament be? Is it going to be a simple majority vote or a qualified majority? What budgetary powers will it have? Are they going to be retained largely through the Commission or is the European Parliament going to be in a position to control the budget of each nation effectively? We have to find out precisely what is going to happen in the parliamentary reform envisaged in the Luxembourg draft treaty and Ireland should certainly adopt its own position. I have not heard a word about what our position might be in relation to any form of parliamentary operation.

Finally, could I ask if any regional or local authority representation is envisaged in the new European union? Are local bodies going to have any consultative or representational role to get views across in a more localised and regionalised fashion than simply coming across at the top through the members of the European Parliament or the Council of Ministers? That is a role that we should discuss because even in a draft Programme for Government, the new revised mark 2 model, there is commitment to greater democratisation on regional and local councils. Certainly, to protect the interest of minorities and to ensure that views would be heard from certain areas, it is important that some consultative process be built into the new European union.

Finally, we are ill-prepared for 1993, first, because we have not allowed debate to take place in this House or indeed in public, and secondly we have not ensured that funding and resources would be distributed through proper consultation process at the democratic level to facilitate a balanced development throughout [198] the country to prepare each region for Europe in 1993.

An Cathaoirleach: When is it proposed to sit again?

Mr. Fitzgerald: At 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 October 1991.