Seanad Éireann - Volume 142 - 01 March, 1995
A New Framework for Agreement: Statements.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen) Nora Owen
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I heard a comment as I was waiting outside that perhaps I was afraid to come to the Seanad. I assure the House nothing is further from the truth. I will be happy to come to the Seanad any time as Minister for Justice and answer any questions the House might wish to put. That applies also to Senator Mulcahy — I will be happy to answer any questions.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to open an historic debate in this Chamber. The Taoiseach would have been here if he was not confined to bed with a serious 'flu. He recognises the enormity of this historic occasion in the Seanad. The Joint Framework Document, A New Framework for Agreement,  is potentially of enormous significance for the future political, social and economic development of this island. Those of us privileged to be present in Belfast when the document was launched by the Taoiseach, Deputy John Bruton, and the British Prime Minister, John Major, could not fail to have been moved by the sense of history in the making.
It is our job now to get on with the political debate generated by that historic event and to ensure that the publication of A New Framework for Agreement marks a major step towards a new beginning in the history of this island in which violence for political ends has no place or part to play.
The publication of the Framework Document creates an unrivalled opportunity to consolidate the peace process on this island and to secure its integration into the wider talks process. The publication of A New Framework for Agreement follows from other achievements of the past 14 months — the adoption of the Joint Declaration in Downing Street on 17 December 1993; the announcement by the Provisional IRA of its cessation of military operations on 31 August last; the announcement by the Combined Loyalist Military Command of its decision to cease all operational hostilities on 13 October last; the establishment of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation by the Government, and the engagement of the Governments in dialogue with Sinn Féin, the Progressive Unionist Party and the Ulster Democratic Party.
Those developments have combined to replace despair with hope. They have combined to create a unique sense of opportunity unmatched on the occasion of any previous initiative intended to address the problems of Northern Ireland during the past quarter century of conflict. People throughout this island are looking to their political representatives, both North and South, to grasp this opportunity to secure a lasting peace and an equitable political settlement. They will not easily or quickly  forgive us if that opportunity is squandered or lost.
That places a heavy burden on all those involved to approach the wider dialogue that should follow publication of the Framework Document in an open and constructive way. We need to be sensitive to the concerns of those whom we seek to engage in dialogue and we must be constructive in addressing those concerns. That duty applies to all parties involved in the process and I hope that parties on all sides of the debate will enter dialogue in that spirit. The moment for instant analysis and comment is already past.
Now is the time for calm reflection and consideration of the actual content of the Framework Document. It is a complex document that has evolved over a considerable time. It addresses the most intractable political problem on this island and deserves the deepest study and analysis on all our parts. I now wish to turn to the document itself.
Central to the approach in A New Framework for Agreement are a number of guiding principles which inform its treatment of the different aspects of any arrangements that might flow from future talks. Those guiding principles are not new but what is new is the manner in which they have been applied across the spectrum of the relationships that need to be addressed if lasting peace and stability on this island are to be secured.
In that way, those guiding principles ensure the necessary balance in the proposals A New Framework for Agreement contains. The principles concerned are: the principle of self-determination as set out in the Downing Street Declaration adopted by the two Governments in December 1993; the principle of consent; the principle that agreement must be pursued and established by exclusively democratic means without resort to violence or coercion; and the principle that any new political arrangement must be based on full respect for the rights and identities of both traditions.
The structures and arrangements proposed in the Framework Document  which those principles inform are concerned with three distinct relationships which need to be part of any settlement: the relationship between the two communities in Northern Ireland; the relationship between both parts of the island of Ireland; and the relationship between the two sovereign Governments. The requirement, for the purpose of the establishment and operation of structures within Northern Ireland itself, is that they are capable of securing cross-community support. A New Framework for Agreement confirms that this remains an essential requirement in the view of both Governments. Moreover, these structures should be capable of enabling the elected representatives in Northern Ireland to exercise shared administration and legislative control over all those matters that can be agreed across both communities and which can most effectively and appropriately be dealt with at that level. The two Governments believe that those structures can be most effectively negotiated through direct dialogue involving the parties in Northern Ireland itself, as part of a comprehensive three stranded approach.
The new North-South structures referred to in the document are for the purpose of addressing the relationship between the two parts of Ireland. Any such structures must be capable of creating a new beginning for relationships within the island of Ireland. They also need to acknowledge the simple fact that there are many matters of common interest to both parts of the island.
That is why the Framework Document suggests new institutions to cater for future political, social, cultural, economic interconnections which would permit elected representatives of democratic institutions. North and South, to enter into new co-operative and constructive relationships.
What the two Governments propose in that regard is a new North-South body involving Heads of Department on both sides, that would be duly established and maintained by legislation in  both sovereign Parliaments. The intention is that that body would bring together Ministers representing the Irish Government and political Heads of Departments from the new democratic institutions in Northern Ireland. They would discharge or oversee delegated executive, harmonising or consultative functions over a range of matters which the two Governments would designate in the first instance in agreement with the parties, and to which the two Administrations, North and South, could subsequently add.
The criteria which the Governments suggest should be applied in determining which functions could usefully be discharged by the new North-South body are objectively based. Those criteria include the common interest in a given matter on the part of both parts of the island, the mutual advantage of addressing a matter together, the mutual benefit which may derive from the matter being administered by the North-South body, the achievement of economies of scale and the avoidance of unnecessary duplication of effort.
Maximum flexibility is ensured by providing that functions designated in accordance with these criteria could fall into three broad categories where the objective would be consultative, harmonising or executive. That will enable specific functions to be dealt with in the manner appropriate to the particular needs of the function in question. Thus in some cases the only requirement would be for the two sides to exchange information and consult with each other about existing and future policy while in others the requirement would extend to the establishment of an agreed policy and its implementation on a joint basis.
In keeping with the principles which underlie all their proposals, the Governments propose that the new North-South body should operate on the basis of agreement and democratic accountability. It will be a matter for the two Governments in the first instance to designate the functions to be delegated to it acting in agreement with the parties and, thereafter, a matter for agreement  between the two Administrations, North and South.
Equally the Governments envisage that decisions within the body would be by agreement between the two sides and that the Heads of Department would exercise their powers in accordance with the rules for democratic authority and accountability in force in the Oireachtas and in the new institutions in Northern Ireland. The operation of the North-South body would also be subject to regular scrutiny in agreed political institutions in Northern Ireland and the Oireachtas generally.
The two Governments also believe that there is need to address again the relationship between the two Governments themselves. The intention would be to enhance the existing basis for co-operation and to support and underwrite the fair and effective operation of the new arrangements.
What is envisaged is a broadly based agreement which would maintain a standing Anglo-Irish intergovernmental conference serviced by a permanent secretariat of civil servants drawn from both Governments. The conference will continue to provide institutional expression for this Government's concern and role in relation to Northern Ireland. The conference will also represent the principal instrument for an intensification of co-operation and partnership between both Governments.
Matters for which responsibility is transferred to new political institutions in Northern Ireland will, of course, be excluded from consideration in the conference except in the specific circumstances provided for in the document. One issue, however, that is likely to remain a matter for east-west co-operation for the time being at least is the issue of law and order in which I, as Minister for Justice, naturally have a particular interest.
The Framework Document recognises that the issue of law and order is closely linked to the issue of political consensus. It identifies policing and the task of enhancing community identification with policing in Northern Ireland  as an important issue and an area in which the climate of peace and the growth of agreement may offer new possibilities and opportunities.
Consolidating the peace process can provide an important dividend in relation to policing in both jurisdictions. New opportunities to enhance community identification with policing in Northern Ireland will be created and imagination will be required if those opportunities are to be fully realised. Resources will be freed in both jurisdictions to tackle forms of criminal activity which are a source of real concern to communities throughout this island. One of the peace dividends will be additional resources to tackle the scourge of drugs and the pushers who prey on our youth. North and South, additional resources to tackle the activities of organised criminal gangs and the creation of a more secure environment which can be enjoyed by all.
An overall settlement in Northern Ireland requires a balanced constitutional accommodation which recognises the legitimate aspirations of both traditions on this island. The two Governments recognise that fact and signal their readiness to address constitutional issues as part of an overall settlement in A New Framework for Agreement. That means ensuring that the basic law of both jurisdictions adequately reflects the commitments entered into and the reality of the diverse aspirations of the two traditions.
The Irish Government is prepared to introduce and support proposals for change in the Constitution to implement the commitments contained in the Framework Document and in the Downing Street Joint Declaration. Those changes will fully reflect the principle of self determination and consent. The principles underlying those changes will be to remove any jurisdictional or territorial claim of legal right over the territory of Northern Ireland contrary to the will of its people and to provide that the creation of a sovereign united Ireland could therefore only occur in  circumstances where a majority of the people in Northern Ireland formally choose to be part of a united Ireland. That will not affect the maintenance of the existing birthright of everyone born in either jurisdiction to be part of the Irish nation as of right.
The British Government equally signals its readiness to uphold the democratic wish of a greater number of the people of Northern Ireland on the issue of whether they prefer to support the union or a sovereign united Ireland and will also embody the principles and commitments in the joint declaration and in the Framework Document in their constitutional legislation. That will be effected by way of an amendment of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, or by its replacement by appropriate new legislation and appropriate new provisions entrenched by agreement.
There has been some comment about the fact that details of proposed amendments to the Constitution were not published by the Government in conjunction with the publication of the Framework Document. The Government decided against publishing details of the proposed amendments because it believed that it would not be appropriate to do so. The detailed wording of changes to the Constitution is a matter for the Government, the Oireachtas and ultimately the people. We have spelled out the principles which will be involved and have given our commitment as to the nature of the changes which we are prepared to support. What has been said leaves no room for doubt as to our bona fides.
It has been emphasised by those of us who spoke on the Framework Document in the Dáil and by the British Government representatives also that it is not a blueprint to be imposed on anybody but is intended essentially to assist discussion and negotiation involving the Northern Ireland political parties. It represents the considered and shared assessment of both Governments as to what might constitute an agreed outcome from future talks involving the  Government and the parties. The accommodation which it suggests is intended to enable the people of this island to work together constructively for their mutual benefit without compromising the essential principles or the long term aspirations or interests of either tradition or community. It does not and is not intended to threaten either tradition but — and we make no apology for this — it is intended to challenge both.
Neither Government claims a monopoly of wisdom and both remain open to proposals or suggestions from the parties themselves. We fully expect the parties to come forward with their own proposals but the challenge for them — as it has been for us — will be to achieve balance and demonstrate the necessary willingness to accommodate legitimate recognition of competing aspirations. The Governments will be fully prepared to build on any area where general agreement can be secured provided that that agreement contributes to a comprehensive settlement which addresses the three sets of relationships involved.
The important thing now is for the process of dialogue and debate to get under way and this debate is part of that process. We see the publication of A New Framework for Agreement as providing direction and a basis for structured discussions. The Irish Government wants comprehensive negotiations to get under way as quickly as possible. The people of this island want those negotiations and are looking to their political representatives to engage in that process.
I would, in conclusion, like to pay tribute to those who have been involved in the process leading to publication of A New Framework for Agreement. It is the product of considerable work by both the Irish and UK Governments and their teams of advisers. A special mention in that regard deserves to be made of the former Taoiseach, Deputy Reynolds, who played a crucial part in moving the process forward in particular through the momentum created by the peace process. I pay tribute to  Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn who, as Minister for Justice, played a vital role in the process and in the discussions on the Framework Document. I also pay tribute to the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring, who was involved in this historic process from the beginning.
I commend A New Framework for Agreement to the House.
Mr. O'Kennedy Mr. O'Kennedy
Mr. O'Kennedy: I join with the Minister in putting on record our appreciation of the efforts of those who brought about this happy event which enables us to discuss the historic document, A New Framework for Agreement. Her generous recognition of the role of the former Taoiseach, which I endorse, of the current Tánaiste and of others, is a signal of the type of approach we must adopt while reflecting on and discussing this issue. Each of them made a major contribution during their time. I hope that whatever we say in this House will help to advance the peace process and I am confident that will happen.
The contributions in this House to the Northern Ireland debates over the years have been positive and, I hope, tolerant. One must also recognise the role of the SDLP leader, Mr. John Hume, and his contribution to peace over the years, which puts him in a unique position not only on this island, but in Europe and, perhaps, in our relations with other countries. His steadfastness throughout difficult periods and experiences, some of which I witnessed in his own home, has been vindicated.
The Framework Document embodies all the principles which brought about the ceasefire. Those involved in that ceasefire also deserve our recognition for their contributions, despite more negative contributions in previous years. We should endorse their courage to turn back from violence. For that reason I include the people who represent the views of paramilitary organisations with those who have brought about the historic basis for agreement. On the Sinn Féin side. I include Mr. Gerry Adams and his associates who have committed  themselves to maintaining, continuing and building the peace process so that we will never again sink back into violence. We must also recognise the loyalist paramilitaries through their loosely connected political representatives, such as Mr. Gary McMichael and company, who, apart from making a major contribution through the cessation of violence which they announced last October, have also adopted a positive and vigorous attitude which can be expanded through the peace process. One must recognise this as a significant change and a message of great hope.
Those who have been involved in bringing this process to where it is today must not only be allowed but encouraged to continue their common purpose in the democratic negotiations through agreement which, as the Minister pointed out, are crucial to this process. Without agreement no further steps will be taken with this programme. All those who have brought the process to the current stage must be encouraged to build on it together for the future. The commitment of those people, who have taken political and other risks, will be vindicated through success, hopefully sooner rather than later but even if it is later, there will be eventual success.
I address the Unionist people and their political representatives in a sense not just of recognition and appreciation but also of respect for their separate, valid, historic identity. Regrettably, at this point the only voices against what may be achieved through this framework are those of the DUP and OUP representatives, although that does not apply to all shades of unionism. They have absented themselves from and are depriving themselves of a role with huge potential.
The only criticism I make of Unionist representatives is this: we celebrate the peace which has lasted to date but how much have they contributed to it? Their people want to see this peace maintained. The Unionist politicians have not contributed to the end of the peace, far from it. However, how much thought have they given to the contribution they  can make to securing the peace permanently?
If any group on this island, from any background or tradition, wants to see peace and normality on a permanent basis, it must be the often isolated and under siege northern Protestant Orange community. We must now reassure them. We must show them the prize of peace; and one can hear from individuals on the Shankill or on Sandy Row that is a prize they do not want to lose. For that reason their political representatives should take up this huge new challenge and opportunity.
The reaction of Unionist representatives was predictable but in one sense one could empathise with their apprehension, even with their suspicion. As one of their spokespersons said recently, they now see both Governments, the SDLP, the Alliance Party, Sinn Féin and the Popular Unionist Party combining to bring about the conditions for this framework; and alone against them are the people who have isolated themselves.
It is not surprising in those circumstances that they are apprehensive about the contents of this document and suspicious of where it may lead them. For that reason the only guarantee they have for the future is the role they will insist on playing themselves. I have no doubt of their capacity to play a positive role. In a sense they see themselves as deserted by their guarantors. They protest — as we have seen during the last weeks and months — individually and collectively against what they call the treachery of the British Government, how they have been misled by that Government and how it duped and deceived them. They protest day in and day out. I do not believe that they have been duped, deceived or misled but one must recognise that the British Government is giving them clear signals which is clear from the tone of this document.
Could anybody imagine the British Government drawing up a framework for agreenient of this nature in respect of Scotland and Wales? That is what the  Unionists expect it to do and they should recognise this clear signal from the British Government. Does anybody imagine that the British Government would make the historic declaration — as it has made in the context of Northern Ireland — that it has no strategic or selfish interest in Scotland, Edinburgh or Cardiff? However, it is saying that up front in respect of Northern Ireland in both the Framework Document and the joint declaration. The Unionist representatives are realistic in saying that this document creates a new dimension and something quite different from the guarantee they had hitherto as part of the United Kingdom. Looking at the document one would have to agree with their observation.
Why not turn to other opportunities without turning from their inheritance which has made them distinctive and proud? Why not seek to achieve new potential, dignity, status and — if I may call it that — new independence rather than a dependence on others who may reject them, as they have recently perceived them to do? Why not seek mutual interdependence on a range of other people who will respect them and the dynamism they can offer in new arrangements?
Another matter is significant to Unionists although they might not find it reassuring. The statements from Sinn Féin at its annual ard-fheis — which would otherwise have been censored — were significant in their attitude to their fellow countrymen in the Unionist community. The focus of that árd-fheis was on reassuring and appealing to that community — I realise it will not be achieved overnight — and even on helping people to forget the injury of the past to move towards the promise of the future. I have never seen such a theme emerge from a Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis. In a sense they were saying that the independence they can demonstrate together, with whatever agreement will be achieved with the British and Irish Governments, is the best and, perhaps, the only guarantee for the future. I share that opinion.
 The joint declaration acknowledges the current situation as the cause of conflict. It acknowledges in the first paragraph that “the most urgent and important issue facing the people of Ireland, north and south, and the British and Irish Governments together, is to remove the causes of conflict, to overcome the legacy of history and to heal the divisions which have resulted....”. That is stating in effect that the position hitherto is a cause of conflict, a regrettable legacy of history and a cause of divisions that must be healed. That is, perhaps, an unduly negative view.
The role and tradition of the Protestant Orangeman is vital and dynamic and should not be simply associated with the cause of conflict, the legacy of history or a division that needs to be healed. In a negative view it can be seen thus. However, look at the positive independent spirit of the Unionist Orangeman and Protestant entrepreneur in building up industry and agriculture over the years. We often pride ourselves on our contribution to American history but look at the contribution of the Protestant tradition. It contributed five or six presidents before a president from what could be called an ethnic Catholic background was elected. As a fellow Irishman sharing this island, I insist that it is a positive inheritance. We should not simply focus on matters of regret. I regret that such a huge and powerful dimension for good and achievement has been suffocated. However, I hope it can be released to positive effect through the Framework Document.
The irony is that the biggest problem the Unionist representatives have with the Framework Document is in relation to North-South institutions. Oddly enough, I consider that to be the biggest opportunity for Unionist representatives. North-South institutions will work by agreement and only on what will be ceded by agreement between the power sharing parliament to be established in Northern Ireland, our Government and the British Government. How can they be afraid of something to which they  will agree? There are other reasons this attitude is inconsistent and almost incomprehensible. These institutions will open avenues of involvement, influence and decision making — of which they have been deprived for so long.
A range of areas in the European Community are of vital importance. I have witnessed — since I first attended Council of Ministers meetings in 1972 — representatives from Northern Ireland locked outside on the corridors. Why should they lock themselves out of the institutions of the European Community? Why should they deprive themselves — or what right will we have to deprive them — of a direct and meaningful role by agreement at the Council of Ministers or of direct representation in the Commission where they have not been represented, are not represented and, under current structures, never will be represented? In the areas such as agriculture why should Northern Protestant farmers have had to approach me furtively through informal contacts or on my visits to Balmoral to ask us to protect their interests — which were in line with our interests and opposed to the interests being expressed by the British Minister for Agriculture — at the Council of Ministers? That is not a criticism, it is a simple fact and it is for that reason that I believe they should not deprive themselves of the opportunity to be involved.
I want to say a brief word about Article 2 and any constitutional agreements we come to. I could never accept that Article 2 represents, or could represent, a claim by Dublin on Northern Ireland. We have no right to make any such claim. All we do is say that together we have a common inheritance and as long as they understand that it never can or will represent a claim of right by us on them, and then I think they may be further reassured. At the end of the day, this offers an opportunity to see equal opportunity, equal treatment and real parity of esteem for all across the whole range of issues and ironically, this is something we need to demonstrate to our Unionist colleagues.  We want to see a parity of esteem for them when the reaction to the Unionist community, not just in Britain — as recent opinion polls have demonstrated — but throughout Europe and the rest of the world, is not as healthy, warm and kind as it will be when they play a positive role in their own interests under the opportunities afforded by A New Framework for Agreement.
In 1975 I introduced a policy statement on behalf of my party which was based on that coming together by agreement. It was misunderstood at the time and I regret that very much. I am happy to see that now — collectively, as with the Anglo-Irish Summit at Dublin Castle when we talked about the totality of relationships — we have a Framework Document that embodies, in a positive and sympathetic way, all the opportunity I tried to introduce in policy statements and in the totality of relations agreement as long ago as 1975 and 1981. I am confident this will get the result it deserves. As the old Irish says: “Toradh a shaothar”.
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
Mr. Manning: As a student in the early 1960s, I remember working — as many students did and still do — canning peas during the summer in Wisbech, East Anglia to make money. It was the first time I met students from Northern Ireland from the Protestant tradition at close quarters and over a sustained period. Up to that time I knew a great number of northern students at University College, Dublin, but they were all from the one tradition; they played football well, hurling badly and rugby not at all. They were all Catholic, Gaelic, great companions, friends and partygoers but they all came from the Catholic Nationalist tradition.
That was my view of Northern Ireland until I met these students from the Protestant tradition and I became friends with many of them. What struck me most about them at that particular time was that for them, as for most of us, the history of the recent past if not dead, was fast receding and old bigotries  were fast dying out. Bigotry was not fashionable and the mood was very much influenced by the mood of openness and change which affected all parts of society then. I remember returning that summer thinking and believing it was only a matter of time before the issues which had dominated the past would disappear and what we called normal politics would become the norm on this island. Sadly, due to political mismanagement, malevolence, lack of imagination and failure to grasp opportunities, all of us on this island — particularly those in the north-eastern corner — have had to live through 25 or 26 years of hell; the problem grew steadily worse, lives were lost, destruction became the norm and the possibility of a lasting political settlement seemed most unlikely. There were many attempts to resolve the problem. Different Taoisigh and Ministers for External Affairs did their best over the years but on every occasion their efforts failed. Thankfully on each occasion lessons were learned and past mistakes were, for the most part, not repeated. For the first time we are at a stage where we can believe, with a fair degree of confidence, that there is a framework in place which will allow for a long term resolution of the problem in a way not overly threatening to any of those involved.
The first thing we should do is to contrast the reaction last week to the Framework Document with the reaction to the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985; remember that the Anglo-Irish Agreement meant two new principles — that the Irish Republic did have a legitimate interest in what was happening in Northern Ireland and that the Irish Government should have a voice in some decisions affecting the Nationalist people of Northern Ireland. Contrast the present situation with that of 1985; the fanatical rejection by thousands of people of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the unwillingness to even discuss it or to accept that any part of it might have been justified or was actuated by anything other than malice or ill will on the part of the Irish and British Governments.  Contrast that with the calm acceptance of the document last week. Contrast that with the queues lining up to get copies of the document to read and discuss. Many people may not have liked part or all of what they found, but they were at least discussing, in small reasonable groups, what that Framework Document contained. That, in one sense, is the best indication of what has happened over the past ten years, and what has happened since the miracle of peace descended on Northern Ireland based on the Downing Street Declaration and the cease-fire six months ago to this day.
The effect of peace in Northern Ireland has transformed the way people look at both the present and, more particularly, the future. When we look at the reaction of the Unionist community we can see that the reaction, although somewhat agitated and angry, did not contain the same degree of virulence or intransigence that was obvious ten years ago. In some cases there was almost an acceptance that certain motions had to be gone through and certain positions stated before the real talking began. Again contrast the reaction in 1985, in this part of the country, to the present situation. This time every party in this House is unanimously behind the Framework Document, unlike the situation in 1985. Contrast the position of Sinn Féin in 1985 to that of today. In 1985 Sinn Féin was as violently opposed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement as was lan Paisley. Today Sinn Féin has accepted the Framework Document calmly, methodically and is prepared to debate it line by line. That is an enormous change from what happened in 1985. Sinn Féin, out of the shadow of violence, has all the potential of a strong, powerful political party of the future which, away from the tyranny of the gunman and based on democratic principles and practices, could revolutionise the politics of this country.
These are things which have changed in ten short years and particularly in the year since the Downing Street Declaration. When this document appeared,  some commentators tended to see it and its progenitors as grey and boring. One commentator described it as badly written with no great style or drama. I could not agree less. Every sentence in this Framework Document is pregnant with meaning and possibility. There is not a spare, surplus word in the entire document. Virtually every aspect of the political life of the two parts of the island, and of relationships between the two islands, is covered in it.
The possibilities are enormous and the Minister focused on some of them. When history comes to be written about this period the Framework Document will be the great document of the last 25 to 26 years and will rank in the history of this island with perhaps the Proclamation of 1916 as a defining, signifying document, because all the principles upon which we would want to base our political life — the political life of the two parts of the island — are contained within it.
The document also signifies very strongly the common sense of purpose of the two Governments. Never before in our history have the two sovereign Governments, which have responsibility for these two islands, been so united in common cause in their determination to give the problem their best shot, and this document is their best shot. They have examined, studied, discussed and debated the problem and the accumulation of their own involvement, and of history, are all contained in the document.
However, coming out clearly, in virtually every sense of the document, is the determination of the two Governments that they will see this document through. They will bring to fruition every part of it that they can, irrespective of whether they have the co-operation of all the parties involved, although it is obviously to be hoped that they will.
In her speech the Minister placed great emphasis on the central question of consent in the document. I do not intend to dwell on this, but it is no harm to reflect on this issue, and to be honest  about our attitude to consent in the past. It is only in comparatively recent times that we have come to have a generous sense of what the word “consent” seems to mean. In the past, consent seemed to mean that the northern Unionists would some day get sense and join us. They would see that we were right and they were wrong and that we would be generous. It was, in a sense, a slightly biased type of ecumenism, an ecumenism on our terms. It is only in recent times that all parties, and especially Sinn Féin — and I hope that its actions will match up to its words in this regard — have come to realise that consent means consent, the right of people to remain British if they so desire, to express their sense of Britishness and their right to withhold as well as to give consent.
The document also has, in its short number of pages, a sense of space. There is room for both traditions to breathe within the confines of the document — to flex their muscles and live their own lives without being crowded by the other. It is this non-threatening aspect of the document which people should find reassuring, and I hope they will.
The possibilities of growth within the document are striking. The Minister made very interesting references to the whole concept of policing, of the possibilities in the very near future of the redeployment of police resources — North and South — of inter-community and new forms of policing, but also tackling the kind of problems which are eating away at different aspects of our society, especially gangsterism, drugs and so on.
There is, therefore, within the document a sense of growth. Another example is the growth of the democratic institutions, such as the new North-South parliamentary body. What a wonderful thing it would be if we were sending our representatives from this House and the other House to meet our elected opposite numbers in Northern Ireland, discussing the problems which  are common to politicians in all parts of the island and working together within a democratic political assembly for the whole island.
There are also all the other possibilities, for example co-operation over a huge range of functional areas. In some ways this is one of the most heartening aspects of the document. One of the things which strikes me about it is how ordinary most of the activities are with which it deals. They are ordinary, everyday things of life, but vital and essential nevertheless such as railways, roads, drainage, co-operation in education at all levels, tourism and agriculture.
If the two Governments can be seen, through the new agencies, working together in the common interest on these ordinary everyday problems, then the process will gain enormous strength. Governments do not have to be loved; few Governments are. Governments have to be accepted and they must be competent. If, in what follows from this document, new institutions can be seen to be doing a good job — for example, for the northern farmers and fishermen — if they can provide better railway services, better roads and common cause in tourism, then the people on both sides of the Border, but especially on the northern side, will come to realise the effectiveness and the value of what has been done in the things which matter most to them in their everyday lives.
This can be done away from the domination of symbols which threaten one side or another, and if the work can be undertaken, therein lies the great strength for the development of the institutions. It is no accident that the integration of Europe began like this — the integration of various economic functions, spread out bit by bit until there was an integrated Europe, but a Europe which still allows the identity and the sense of self of each of the member states. I, therefore, welcome and am excited by the possibility of co-operation over so many areas. Already people on both parts of the island are applying their imagination to see how this co-operation can work and how  they can, in a real sense, benefit from the very real cash possibilities which are there to facilitate it.
There are other aspects to the document, for example the sense of openness in it. The history of relations in the past, North and South, is bedevilled by charges of had faith, hidden agendas and secret deals. Everything in this document is open, above board and on the table. I do not believe the Government has any hidden agenda or ulterior motive and is not saying what it means fully, other than in the document. Similarly, John Major does not have a hidden agenda. Of all British Prime Ministers, John Major, beset by great domestic difficulties, has given the Northern Ireland problem his full attention and energy. I believe totally in his good faith. We all know that he has enormous, delicate political problems within the House of Commons and we all wish that he had a bigger majority. However, in spite of all this, he has stuck resolutely with the purpose, of bringing the Framework Document to fruition and advancing after that.
There are huge issues involved, for example, the question of the decommissioning of arms is enormously difficult. One only has to think about it a little to realise how difficult it is on both sides. The sense that there are arms, that they may be used again and that they have been used in the past against loved ones is something which brings an element of distrust and emotion to the debate. This morning, the Tánaiste was on to what may well be a fruitful and positive line of discussion when he talked about — not immediately but down the line — the possibility of some outside agency acting in the decommissioning of arms.
There are arms on both sides, there are problems associated with policing and with the presence of the British army, all of which must be addressed. There cannot be a unilateral decommissioning of arms on one side and it would be a great mistake if the debate was distracted into this issue away from  the real substance it should be addressing.
Perhaps one of the most positive signs of all in the Framework Document has been the degree of international support it has achieved. This has not happened by accident, nor is it an empty gesture. Other countries who are our partners in the EU know that the politics of Northern Ireland have been an anachronism for a very long time. They also know that the politics of Northern Ireland have distracted the efforts of people on both sides of the island from what we might call normal, ordinary politics.
They have put their support and money behind the Framework Document and what it entails. So, too, have major countries, particularly the US, the commitment of whose President, at what is a difficult time for him, is something from which we must all take sustenance. The extraordinary degree of support right across the two great parties of American politics among Senators and Congressmen, the very high level of knowledge and the almost total commitment to what the two Governments are doing must give us all cause for hope that their good wishes and advice will not be ignored by those who can make the document fail or succeed.
I wish to conclude by reading into the record part of a speech by Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who is one of the great friends of Ireland in the US Senate. He was here two weeks ago and I had the honour of meeting him. Last week, after the issuing of the Framework Document he made the following statement in the US Senate about his visit to Northern Ireland.
It made a profound impression on me. Change in Northern Ireland is inevitable but the Framework Document should threaten no one. It would give a majority of the people of Northern Ireland the right to decide their future. It is equally important to recognise that any lasting  peace, any healthy society, must be rooted in equal justice. The fundamental civil rights of both Catholics and Protestants must be protected.
He sees those rights protected in the Framework Document.
I commend this document to the House. I believe it is the single most important document to appear in my lifetime and I hope it will prove to be what we all want it to be — the basis and framework within which lasting peace and reconciliation can be achieved.
Mr. F. Quinn Mr. F. Quinn
Mr. F. Quinn: I wish to share my time with Senator Henry and Senator Lee.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. F. Quinn Mr. F. Quinn
Mr. F. Quinn: I wish to make four quick points, all of which aim in a practical way to move the peace process along. My first point is about the need to get the parties around the table talking, about which we heard a great deal in the past week. The Framework Document is seen as a stepping stone to interparty talks in the North. I suggest that the time and the need are not for talking but for listening. History, including the history of the past week, has shown that both traditions on this island are bad listeners. We talk a great deal but we listen very little. However, the only way to get an agreement is by genuinely listening to what others have to say, which we do not do often enough in either tradition, North and South.
I have an American friend from Chicago called Michael O'Connor who interrupted me some years ago to say that God gave us one mouth and two ears because he expected us to listen twice as much as we talk. That is a lesson we might learn on this island because we tend to listen not in order to understand the other point of view but to search out weaknesses in it to which we can then respond. In the field of communication we are much more  ready to give than to receive. Instead of looking for talks we should look for “listens”.
Second, we will move forward faster and more surely if we defuse the present sense of urgency. We need patience and not pressure. The “Berlin Walls” in people's minds do not come down overnight and we slow up the process by expecting that they will. It is critical to start the healing process which is genuinely urgent. However, for the healing to be a real reconciliation we must accept that it will take a very long time and it is only when that healing process itself is eventually complete that we will ever be able to put together a permanent settlement of our differences. I was delighted that the Minister, Deputy Owen, stressed the importance of patience in her speech.
Third, we will not get far if we take the phrase “Framework Document” literally. It is only an appropriate term if it refers to a framework people must agree, where the framework is fixed but the details are up for grabs. If that is not what is meant it is not a framework but a straitjacket, which is the very last thing we need in these circumstances. We are getting conflicting signals. The rhetoric accompanying the document says that it is not a blueprint but just a suggestion in which everything is up for grabs. However, the document itself reads in a far more hard edged way. It is not just the name, although that is part of it. Running right through the Framework Document is the assumption that there are only two choices facing the people of Northern Ireland: one is the present constitutional position with frills that genuflect to the National tradition; the other is a united Ireland with frills which genuflect to the Unionist tradition. The first choice will remain until such time as the people change their minds and the second choice will then come into play.
The whole Framework Document is based on the assumption that there are only these two possibilities. That, in itself, is sufficient argument for regarding it only as a consultative document.  We should not restrict ourselves to those two models but seek as many as we can find to expand our choice. We must do that because I doubt whether the choice of two options with which the document presents will perform the miracle of squaring the circle and reconciling the two traditions.
My final point is addressed to people in the South. It is time we considered making a unilateral gesture of goodwill to the Unionist community to show that we approach this process in a spirit of friendship and that we can give something without always demanding something in return. I say this from my experience of difficult business negotiations where, out of the blue, one side is generous. That generosity breaks deadlocks and suddenly the other side says that perhaps they can trust the people with whom they are negotiating.
We should look for a gesture to show the Unionists that we are open to change and can do something difficult which genuinely hurts us as a contribution to the peace process. There is a time for hard ball, face to face, across the table, tough negotiation. However, there is also a time for generosity and goodwill. Now is the time for generosity. Let us put our heads together and see if we can find an act of generosity to put on the table without looking for something in return.
Dr. Henry Dr. Henry
Dr. Henry: I thank Senator Quinn for sharing his time and I welcome the Minister to the House.
This document is very welcome. It is one of the most important documents which I have seen about Northern Ireland where, despite all our rhetoric, we have shown very little genuine concern for the people whose day to day lives have been so tragically affected over the last 25 years. This Government must be congratulated but also the previous Government of Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party. Deputy Reynolds and the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring, put such work and energy into drawing up this document.
 Congratulations are also due to the British Government, the Prime Minister, John Major, and Sir Patrick Mayhew. In a time of real crisis the British Government has continued to keep this development going and we owe it a great debt of gratitude. I hope that 10 p.m. tonight will not bring anything too dramatic to the fortunes of John Major.
This document merely expresses the great need for co-operation between people in Northern Ireland and all the people on this island. One of the most fascinating things I find is that everybody who talks about the document picks out areas where they can see that co-operation would be beneficial for everyone on the island. I have bored everyone to death at the forum by talking about my all-island health institution, which I would run single handediy if necessary. It would involve those from Northern Ireland and the South who could join me in setting up a preventative medicine programme, health promotion and various other policies, such as what can be done about drugs.
I note that Minister Owen again mentioned looking at the drugs problem here on an all-island basis. This type of thing is not unusual. For example, all the Nordic countries co-operate in the Nordic council. We must look at other models abroad and examine where they can be applied here because they are to the material advantage of all on the island. It is not that one group will be more advantaged than another, this will help us all.
This is a time when tremendous courage is needed by everyone to keep the momentum going. In particular, Unionists need courage. Given that I am a Protestant in the South, I always try to express what I think some of the northerners might feel about some things down here. I receive a healthy amount of support in general, which I hope they notice. However, it is a time when they really need to have courage and to try to consider that their position is not being threatened. I see no signs of people trying to march in Northern Ireland and force them into a situation down here. I  say with all my heart that all they need is to have courage and co-operate with us.
In this respect, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the members of the Alliance Party who have shown great courage in coming to the forum. I gather they have received a substantial amount of support in Northern Ireland for what they have been trying to do, which is interesting. They do not come down to the forum and tell us that everything in the garden is rosy here as far as they can see. They come with tremendous criticism. I long for the day when Unionists will come down and say that the people of Ballymena are disgusted, or whatever they feel obliged to say. I assure them that they will receive a reception here and a hearing to whatever complaints they have.
The Nationalists in Northern Ireland also need courage. I listen to talk about arms, which we must not get hung up on. However, it is most dangerous to have the pike in the thatch, not just with a view to terrorist crimes taking place. Arms in the community are not good and the area of domestic violence in Northern Ireland has far more problems in terms of arms, even those which are legally held, than elsewhere. We must point out to those who are in a difficult situation regarding the handing in of arms that it is not just that we fear the revival of terrorism. Even if that does not happen, the presence of arms within a community is not good.
Change here and elsewhere is needed. I often point to Article six of the Downing Street Declaration, which spoke of the changes we would make down here. I am sure Albert Reynolds and John Major did not insert that for entertainment. The Government could spend the rest of its lifetime putting in quite an amount of changes here. As far as I am concerned, we do not need to do this just to make ourselves seem more socially acceptable to the Unionists. We need to do it for ourselves, to show that we genuinely believe we are trying to create a pluralist society here.
 The document is well named by being called a “framework”. Now we must start filling it in. This relies on us all; it is not just a Government effort. I urge all Members to go to Northern Ireland and talk to groups there. I am going twice this month and I assure Members they will be asked if they show they are willing to go. If one looks at the statistics of the number of people who come south of the Border compared to the number who go north of the Border, the situation is fairly shabby.
This is an area where great effort by Members of the Oireachtas in particular could be made. We must know of various groups in Northern Ireland to whom we can talk and I urge all Senators to try to get themselves involved in some project or organisation there. In this way they will at least hear our views. It is unfortunate that a fair number of people do not receive RTE in Northern Ireland. We have a much more balanced view of what life is like there than they do of life here.
I hope the Government will continue all its efforts. I also hope that this time next year we will see that even greater progress has been made in this area, which has caused such great distress on the whole island for 25 years.
Professor Lee Professor Lee
Professor Lee: Chuirim fáilte arís roimh an Aire. I have made a blunder, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. For the first time since coming to the House, I have prepared a text with the result that I am now thoroughly confused about what I think on this matter. I hope the House will forgive me if silences intrude on my thought process, which does not happen very often.
I very much welcome the Framework Document. It is a constructive and imaginative contribution towards a civilised solution of a problem which has bedevilled Irish history for nearly 400 years. It deserves to make a major contribution towards ensuring permanent peace on this island and a genuine friendship between Ireland and Britain.
I do not intend any reflection on the work of the politicians in the previous  or present Administrations, their advisers or the civil servants involved if I dwell on doubts about some of the implications. This is at a high level of abstraction so it will not intrude on the day to day business of trying to implement it in the short term. However. I hope some of the long term principles, with which I am concerned, may not seem entirely irrelevant.
In his speech in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said that it is the beginning of work towards a wholly new form of expression of traditional aspirations, focusing on individuals and communities rather than on territory. He said that by expressing aspiration in this new way, it is hoped that the two otherwise irreconcilable sets of aspirations can, in fact, be reconciled. I very much sympathise with that approach which is central to an enduring and just solution. However, its operation is very difficult. I do not think that many of us are very clear on how one operates or implements that type of thinking. At the same time, it is crucial to try to push that type of thinking forward and to see how theory and practice can be blended.
I am puzzled by a couple of the recommendations, which may pertain perhaps to the far distant future. These seem to run contrary to this principle, not on the grounds of expediency or pragmatism but on grounds of an alternative principle. The implications of people thinking rather than territory thinking seem to be rejected in two key long term recommendations. The principle of self determination enshrined in the document is self determination on the basis of territory, rather than of people or identity. People are defined by territory, of the 50 per cent plus one criterion, rather than territory defined by people — however that can be done. There may be a good political case for this. This is obviously so in the short term. However, it should then be presented as a political case and not as a matter of principle.
Self determination on the basis of majoritarian democracy will not ever finally resolve the underlying problems  that have plagued us in this country. I find it curious, in terms of the suggested internal arrangements in Northern Ireland for the functioning of all the various bodies there, that the concept of consensual democracy is essentially espoused, that is to say that there should be agreement across the two traditions. This is the basic principle underlying the variety of recommendations. However, when one shifts to the more fundamental issue of the existence of Northern Ireland, one reverts in paragraph 17 to the principle of majoritarian democracy. This may seem to be so far in the future that it does not really matter. However, we ought to be as consistent as possible in our thinking about the possibilities of long term developments as on short term ones.
It seems utterly impractical to ever think in terms of the contents of paragraph 17, that it would be possible to shift authority from the North to an all-Ireland body as things stand. It may be that by the time that came, if ever, people would have learned to work together. As the principle stands, it seems to be incompatible with what the Taoiseach was saying as a basic criterion.
I do not want to confuse some of my listeners by suggesting sympathy for Unionist positions out of any sympathy for unionism. Some of my practical proposals involve trying to see matters from a Unionist perspective, but as long as the principle of majoritarian democracy prevails in this country, the majority political tradition on this island has, in principle, the right to determine its political arrangements. There is no argument that has ever been, or that can logically be, advanced for the protection of a Unionist identity or certainly for the establishment of Northern Ireland — to perhaps broaden the protection identity — on the basis of majoritarian democracy in favour of a united Ireland. In practice, the current Border was not the product of any democratic decision, majoritarian, consensual or otherwise. However, to seek to impose on Unionists the principle of majoritarian rule  implied in paragraph 17 of the document would simply be to operate on the other side of the coin.
I reject the territorial thinking underlined in paragraph 17. Representatives of the Irish Nationalist tradition should now state unequivocally that they have no aspirations to rule Unionists against their will, irrespective of the numbers game in Northern Ireland. If the Unionist vote ever became the minority vote in Northern Ireland, we would still not claim as a right what is contained in paragraph 17, that one would then claim the right to rule them. We have an obligation to recognise their right and the protection of their identity irrespective of the precise territorial arrangements at any given time. We should not move from an absolute position in which we are now to an alternative one without trying to think through, at the very least, transitional arrangements which would respect all rights. I would like to see that concrete proposal coming from an Irish Government, not as a bargaining issue, but as a matter of principle for a new philosophy of Irish nationalism.
Of course the future of having to move on the basis of the Framework Document may never emerge; who knows? If it were to do so, changes would be necessary both in the governance of Northern Ireland and in relations between the jurisdictions. For instance — many Members may not have considered this — if Nationalists were to constitute a majority in Northern Ireland, they might decide not to join our State even though they had the right and the votes to do so. They might not think it was worth joining.
I now want to refer to a slightly more realistic point; the implications for paragraph 21 and the changes in Article 2 presumably, and possibly in Article 3, of the Constitution. That is also based, I regret to say, on the concept of majoritarian democracy. We will drop or adjust our territorial claim to the North until 50 per cent plus one there think differently. That principle should be rejected. We should not move from one polarised  position to another. Although no one seems clear what the adjustments to Article 2 are likely to involve, I would like to see the principle that we will not operationalise territorial thinking in that way.
The Taoiseach was right to say that adjusting the Constitution was a matter for the people and not a matter for discussion with another sovereign power. Surely, if we are still maintaining, in whatever hypothetical way, a possible claim on the allegiance of the people in Northern Ireland, we should be willing to discuss the possible changes with both Nationalists and Unionists. Some of them may not want to talk to us, but we should at least extend that possibility to them and not try to impose a unilateral claim, however adjusted to their interests we might think it would be, without at least offering to consult them.
Mr. Wilson Mr. Wilson
Mr. Wilson: I thank Senator O'Sullivan for giving me her space in the debate. I have to admit a certain nervousness in speaking after Senator Lee because he has an intellectual facility, a turn of phrase and use of language that I do not possess.
The House is making statements on the Framework Document. I note happily that it is not a Framework Document but “A New Framework for Agreement”. That last word is very significant. It is a complex document; not everyone understands it. I am not sure that I totally understand it, but I will try to take it on board as a whole and not just dwell in isolation on the parts that I do not like. It is a Framework Document for agreement, no more and no less; it is not being imposed. It is a basis for thought and discussion and I urge that those in this part of the island give those in Northern Ireland time and space to take it on board. It calls for consent, trust and respect. It is a big step on the road to peace and I welcome it.
I have already written to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the British Prime Minister and the Secretary of State giving my welcome to, and support for, the  document. It is the best opportunity for a lasting peace that we have had in the last 25 years, a period in which approximately 3,000 people lost their lives. Only one person was killed in Northern Ireland in the last six months. It is a delight both to me and the great majority of people in Northern Ireland to turn on the radio or the television in the morning and not hear of another death and another family being asked to go through what my family and 3,000 others had to face. The fact that there is a ceasefire, freedom to walk the streets and to go to bed without fear is getting through to people. People in Northern Ireland yearn for peace. They want it and pray for it. The atmosphere is right for a settlement. It is a time for change but it will not be easy. However, I am optimistic, I have hope.
I understand the doubts being expressed by the Unionist politicians. They feel exposed, isolated and unloved by both Governments. However, I was shocked to hear words such as “sellout”, “insult” and “betrayal”. These are strong words and I hope they are only what might be called knee-jerk reactions. I am amazed when I see the histrionics of the David Trimbles of this world and I was saddened when my local MP said in the House of Commons last Thursday that in his opinion, the document had put us back ten years. I cannot believe Ken Maginnis wants to go back ten years when we lost a life a day in Northern Ireland and when our towns were bombed to pieces. Yet that is what he said.
In my book 1690 was three centuries ago and the world has moved on as we approach the 21st century. I ask Unionist politicians to stop playing politics with people's lives and to listen to the grassroots. I made it my business to meet as many people as I could in Enniskillen over the weekend. They want their political leaders to sit down and talk. Without exception, that is what they said to me. The worst I heard was from a middle of the road Unionist with perhaps leanings to the right who said  the document was a little too green, which I understand, but he too wants his party politician and MP to sit down and talk.
People shoud be prepared to compromise, which is not giving in or losing out. it is maturity. Let all political leaders sit down, listen to their electors, present their policies, love their neighbours and common God and, by doing so, help us to achieve a lasting peace because that is what this document is about.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: As always on these occasions it is difficult to follow Senator Wilson's manifest authority and Christianity in respect of these matters. Once again I find myself in agreement with him. Without consulting him before he spoke, he has said many of the things I wish to say. It is no harm that we have waited a week to debate this matter as it has given us time to reflect and come to a more mature judgment than we might have had last week. Once again the value of debates in this House on such matters and in respect of Northern Ireland is demonstrated in that we adopt a moderate and, I hope, a constructive tone.
We must acknowledge that both Governments have played a good role in the preparation of the Framework Document. We should acknowledge the work done by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Reynolds, the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring, and Mr. Major and, in particular, the public servants who helped draft the document. The response to it has been varied. The Unionist community, particularly Unionist politicians, have expressed criticism. I congratulate the smaller parties in Northern Ireland on the way they received the document. It is ironic that some of the parties which came from a “paramilitary” background found enough generosity to welcome and accept the document. I am disappointed with the response from Unionist politicians, not the Unionist community. I am disappointed that Unionist politicians would use the voting vulnerability of the British Government to underline their criticism because I do  not believe that is a useful or a productive road to go down.
As Senator Wilson said when he mentioned his local MP, there can be no going back because to do so would be to revisit upon the community in Northern Ireland the death and destruction it experienced over the past 25 years. It is not useful to go back to the Battle of the Boyne or even the injustice which created the Northern Ireland state because we are where we are and we had better decide how to go forward. There is a blueprint in the Framework Document for going forward. It is obvious from the judgment of the people in Northern Ireland expressed in opinion poll findings, which we all read over the weekend, that they will not tolerate a revisitation of a process which would lead them back to the politics of the bomb, gun and bullet.
Our consideration should be detailed, complete and above all devoid of instant reaction. As frequently stated — it was stated here recently by the Taoiseach when we abolished the state of emergency — the document is not an end in itself. That must be repeated over and over again. It is just another milestone, albeit an historic one in a long and tortuous sequence. We are on a road on which we must travel further; we are only a few steps on that road and it is not useful to predetermine where it might lead us.
The document is not a threat to anybody and it is worth re-emphasising the words of the document itself which were repeated in this House by the Taoiseach when he said it was not a rigid blueprint to be imposed. It establishes the guarantees required by both communities in Northern Ireland and it is a major disappointment that some sections of the Unionist community do not want to accept the guarantees contained in the document. From a Unionist point of view, the explicit acceptance that the status of Northern Ireland cannot be changed without the consent of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland should be reassuring. I support  the view expressed by Senator Lee that it should not be a case of a numbers game and that when the balance shifts from 50 minus one to 50 plus one the matter will be concluded and we will proceed from there. I do not see it in those terms.
The Unionist community should also be reassured by the proposal that the Government will introduce and support proposals for change in the Constitution to fully reflect the principles of consent in Northern Ireland. They should be further reassured that the document states that these changes will be such that no territorial claim of right to jurisdiction over Northern Ireland contrary to the will of the majority of its people will be asserted. I fail to see how the union is not safe as is the Unionist requirement under the terms of the Framework Document.
Nationalists in Northern Ireland have a legitimate right to hold and pursue their aspiration by democratic and peaceful means. As someone who in the past sympathised with and defended the Unionist right to hold its aspiration, I must say that some of the actions and language from Unionists' sources over the past few weeks do little to support its case. The Ulster Democratic Party has been closer to public opinion in accepting the Framework Document.
There has been much talk about parity of esteem, something which recurs regularly at the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. There are many definitions of parity of esteem depending on one's standpoint and where one is coming from. I do not believe parity of esteem means one community saying to another that it is sorry for what happened in the past, that it will ensure its views will be taken into account in the future and that it will be secure in the institutions it established for it. It goes well beyond that and is defined in paragraph 10 (iv) of the document which states: “... that any new political arrangement must be based on full respect for, and protection and expression of, the rights and identities of both traditions in Ireland and even-handedly  afford both communities in Northern Ireland parity of esteem and treatment, including equality of opportunity and advantage.” That is as good a definition of parity of esteem as we are likely to find. Parity of esteem means creating a system of Government and democratic structure to which both traditions can give their support.
Given the history of the past 25 years this will inevitably be a slow process, as Senator Wilson mentioned. We have to be prepared to accept that it has taken a long time to get to where we are and there must not be an unholy and unseemly rush to try to jump all the remaining fences in a short space of time. The Framework Document is really an important element in that process; an important milestone.
The Unionists have criticised the document for being “Nationalist”. It is not very surprising that it is Nationalist given the amount of catching up the Nationalist community in Northern Ireland is faced with. If they are to achieve the parity of esteem of which I spoke, it is inevitable that the tone of the document would appear Nationalist to some.
The one area on which Unionism could and did focus was the creation of the North-South institutions, particularly those with Executive powers. There seems to be a presumption abroad that everything will come within the scope of these Executive powers. The document has defined three areas of activity: one at executive level, one at harmonising level and one at consultative level. In defining what might be covered by institutions with an executive function the document states in paragraph 31:
“...it is intended that these proposals would include at the executive level a range of functions, clearly defined in scope, from within the following broad categories: sectors involving a natural or physical all-Ireland framework; EC programmes and initiatives; marketing and promotion  activities abroad; and culture and heritage.”
That is a long way from that which is being represented to us as the scope of Executive functions.
There is a fail-safe within that where it says in paragraph 46:
“Where either Government considers that any institution, established as part of the overall accommodation, is not properly functioning within the Agreement or that a breach of the Agreement has otherwise occurred, the Conference shall consider the matter on the basis of a shared commitment to arrive at a common position or, where that is not possible, to agree a procedure to resolve the difference between them.”
Let us be clear when talking about what is covered by cross-Border institutions. Let us say that in many areas where there is common interest under the EU there should be no difficulty about those matters.
The most effective action that could be taken to allay the Unionist fears — they have some legitimate fears — and the most telling message that could be sent is for the Provisional IRA to say that it will dump its arms, that it will decommission them and the Semtex. That is the most effective message which would lead us to meaningful talks on the way forward. Were that to happen I would ask the Unionists to come to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation where those of us from the South have learned enormously from those in Northern Ireland in commerce, farming and the youth movement who have spoken to us. We need to keep talking to one another; we need to see that there is no threat to anybody from either side of the Border.
The other solution is to empower communities on either side of the Border to allow them to progress their economic and social advancement. That is the path to progress.
Ms O'Sullivan Ms O'Sullivan
 Ms O'Sullivan: I wish to share my time with Senator Maloney.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Ms O'Sullivan Ms O'Sullivan
Ms O'Sullivan: Like other Senators I welcome the publication of the Framework Document. It is worth noting the point made by Senator Wilson that its title is A New Framework for Agreement as it is important that the word “agreement” is in the title. When the Minister spoke at the beginning of this debate she used the word “agreement” and “agreed” many times reflecting a thread that runs through this document. It is intended that any of its proposals are to be implemented only by agreement.
The subtitle of the document describes it as “A shared understanding between the British and Irish Governments to assist discussion and negotiation involving the Northern Ireland parties.” It is presented as a basis for discussion rather than a strait-jacket framework, as suggested by Senator Quinn. It would be a mistake if it was to be a framework in the form of a straitjacket. There is a more open concept of a framework as something upon which one builds out and around, rather than something which encloses people and limits the extent to which they can reach agreement, and I see it as a framework of that kind.
The document is also presented as a shared understanding between the two Governments and has the firm basis of being the agreed thinking of the two Governments as to how we should move forward. The document is detailed and took a great deal of time to bring to fruition. It is the product of a lot of work and I acknowledge the work done by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Reynolds, Prime Minister John Major, the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring and Sir Patrick Mayhew.
It is most welcome to see the amount of copies of the document that have been taken and read in Northern Ireland since its publication. It is a feature that people in the North wanted to  read the document and that is to be welcomed above everything else. It shows that people living in Northern Ireland want to know what is in the document and to deal with it constructively.
It was to be expected that their leaders would feel the need to be firm in their objections to the document. We knew that we would have such a reaction, particularly from the DUP and the UUP. With others, I acknowledge and welcome that the response of the other Unionist parties has been more constructive. The reaction was inevitable but, at the same time, those on the ground, like Senator Wilson, see hope and a positive basis for discussion in the document. I hope the Unionist leaders will lead their people to discussions on the document.
We need to look for areas of agreement and mutual benefit, of which there are many in the document, and we can build on those. The firm principles underlining the document of consent, agreement, self-determination and of respect for the different traditions have been clearly enunciated. In his introductory speech Mr. Major talked about the triple lock — the agreement of the assembly that would be created in Northern Ireland, the agreement of the people in a referendum and the agreement of the Westminster Government. Again the focus is on agreement and discussion and reaching an accommodation of both communities.
I read an article by the historian Robert Keyes following publication of the document. He pointed out that the insecurity of Unionism goes back 81 years to the discussions on home rule when there was an attempt to square a circle. The circle still has not been squared. Senator Lee made a good point when he talked about the need not to try to square the circle but to develop a new shape; not to look simply at majoritarianism, at one community or the other reaching its goal, but to look at coming up with a new structure, a new organisation, that will not satisfy either community totally but will satisfy both in some parts and in which there  will have to be give and take by both communities.
In the context of the various structures in relation to the North/South aspect, the point needs to be made that we will be conceding a certain amount of power as well. The various areas of discussion that Senator Dardis outlined will involve the southern Government discussing economic issues, such as-marketing, tourism and so on, with the northern Government, as well as EU funding from which we have benefited more than the North in some ways.
The constitutional changes will be decided by the people, by way of a referendum. In regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution, the commitment that we should not have a territorial right of jurisdiction over the North will be fully supported by me and by my party.
If there was not a challenge in this document to both communities, it would not be any use. We need a challenge because to continue would mean going back to the situation of the last 25 years. There has to be challenge, there has to be change, we must look at what people stand for and be willing to argue at the table but we must, in the end, be willing to compromise. I hope this reconciliation will lead to a pluralist society.
It is now six months to the day since the announcement of the IRA cease-fire. We all have a duty to make that peace last. At the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation last week we focused on children. We should focus on those children we saw at the forum last week and on where they will be in the future and hope that they will not still be sitting around trying to work out a way in which the two communities can live and work together. This Framework Document offers us a hope for the future for those children growing up today, that they will be able to live in a peaceful Northern Ireland. I hope this document will be the basis for that peace. I believe it will.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: Senator Maloney, are you sharing your time?
Mr. Maloney Mr. Maloney
 Mr. Maloney: Yes, with Senator O'Sullivan. I welcome the Minister to the House on this historic occasion. I welcome the publication of the Framework Document. I would describe it as a landmark agreement in the building of a lasting peace on this island. This is a discussion document; it does not provide for joint authority by the British and Irish Governments over Northern Ireland. It has been published to stimulate discussion and public debate and deserves a calm and measured response from all quarters. I hope it will draw all parties in Northern Ireland to the negotiating table.
For too long we have sat apart. Now is the time for all parties to enter into genuine and meaningful talks. Those of us who live in Border areas have suffered more than anybody else from the Troubles of the past 25 years. Now we have an opportunity to work together on the basis of what is outlined in the document. The proposals to set up a joint North-South body comprising of elected representatives and accountable to a Northern Ireland Assembly and to the Dáil is particularly interesting. For the first time both sides of the community would feel an equal sense of allegiance to authority.
The Labour Party will play a complete role in the ongoing peace process which is now entering a new and crucial phase. We are committed to establishing a just and lasting peace which recognises the rights of all the people on this island. Our party has been to Northern Ireland on a number of occasions and met political parties there. We have met the DUP, the Ulster Unionists and the smaller parties. Talks are ongoing and are to be welcomed and I have no doubt they will continue in the future. I acknowledge the enormous amount of work that has been undertaken by the last three Governments and I particularly congratulate my colleague, Mr. Hume in Derry, for his work towards establishing a lasting peace on this island. Mr. Hume has probably done more than anybody else.
 In regard to North-South bodies integrating for the good of the country, I would be interested in looking at the areas of tourism, sport and agriculture. On the tourism front, I read recently that consideration is being given to establishing an all-Ireland chamber of tourism. This idea was proposed last week at the Irish Hotel Federation meeting in Cavan where 300 delegates were told they would like to see Bord Fáilte and the Northern Ireland tourism body formed into one international marketing body to attract visitors to Ireland.
Figures released recently show a 10 per cent rise in holiday visitors to Northern Ireland for 1994. Visitor numbers are expected to double, bringing in an extra 1 million guests over the next five years. It has been forecast that in 1995 alone 1,000 new jobs will be created in the tourism trade in Northern Ireland. There is definitely a mood of change out there and people are now asking how they can come to Ireland, both North and South, for their holidays. Some experts have said the cease-fire has provided a climate which could create 20,000 jobs over the next five years in Northern Ireland alone. There is a tourism boom there and we must do all we can to see that these figures are achieved.
In the past, people stayed away from the North of Ireland. I come from Donegal. I wish to look at one area in Donegal, the Inishowen area, which I always describe as the forgotten peninsula. Many of the people in that area depend on tourism for their survival and all their visitors come from Northern Ireland. People stayed away from the North of Ireland for one reason only and that was violence. Now that the violence has stopped we must all work together to take advantage of the tourism boom. A boom in tourism means a boom in jobs, and that is most welcome.
I was delighted this week when I saw that Jersey European Airways have announced new air routes from Derry to Belfast and Dublin at a cost of £20  from Derry to Dublin. For people like myself this is to be welcomed. If I want to go on to Leeds or Bradford it will only cost me another £12. This means that for £32 I can travel from Donegal to Dublin and on to Leeds. This is another indication of the change that has taken place.
I would welcome Southern holidaymakers to the North. I have said on many occasions in this House that people must meet with the people of Northern Ireland. I emphasise that politicians must go there because I have listened to people here who do not understand what Northern Ireland is about. Some of them have never travelled north of a line drawn from Dublin to Galway. That is just not good enough. We must get to know each other and work together, not just for the good of the people of the country but for the children who will come after us. Hopefully they will not have to endure another 25 years of the violence which the young people in the North have had to endure.
Sport and the co-operation in sport are areas in which we could make progress. The GAA and the Irish Rugby Football Union have done tremendous work as has another excellent organisation which for the last 20 years has organised the community games. The latter organisation has done more for cross-Border co-operation than any other 32 county organisation. These organisations have brought together people of all kinds at local, provincial and national level. We should support these institutions. Senator Wilson said that the politicians were out of touch with the people. I agree with him to some degree. I am in Strabane, Derry and Belfast on a regular basis and the people in Northern Ireland are telling me that we should give the peace process a chance.
The peace dividend from Europe will bring in £240 million, and surely the consultation process of bringing both groups together to decide how that money is to be spent will shape the  future for this country. People from both traditions can decide together how this money is to be spent to gain the maximum benefit for both communities in the North. There are enough ghettos in Northern Ireland in Catholic and Protestant areas and something must be done to alleviate the mayhem and deprivation that exists there. This is a marvellous opportunity for people to come out of these ghettos. People and political parties will have to be encouraged to make up their minds that this is a wonderful opportunity. We should make a meaningful and lasting impression on those who have been worst affected by the 25 years of violence. I look forward to and sincerely hope for the continued success of peace talks and I sincerely welcome the publication of the document.
Mr. Haughey Mr. Haughey
Mr. Haughey: I support the Framework Document. For the first time in Irish history it is proposed to place the decision as to the sovereignty of Northern Ireland in its people. At the inception of Northern Ireland Sir Edward Carson, one of the founders of unionism, envisaged a common market on the island of Ireland. Now, 75 years later, there is still reluctance on the part of sections of the community to engage in cross-Border institutions which would promote trade and industry which would benefit all the people of Ireland. It must be a mighty fear that impedes such a very natural opportunity. The fear must be addressed, rationalised and understood.
Understanding surely can be achieved through dialogue. I ask the Unionists to please come and talk so that we can understand them better. The Framework Document is clearly not an Irish manifesto for the future of this island. It is a discussion document which was born out of the Brooke dialogue and the Downing Street Declaration. It has three main elements, as had the Brooke talks, and is tripartite in its make up in that it provides for discussion between the two communities in Northern Ireland, between those two communities  and the Government representatives of this State and between the Dublin and London Governments. It requires a plebiscite on both sections of this island separately. Surely this must be the greatest guarantee of protection of the democratic rights of the majority of people to determine their own destiny.
It has to be said that all the politicians on both sides of this House have acted with great restraint, consideration and understanding and, most of all, have had a consolidated sympathetic approach to resolving a problem that has haunted us for far too long. We have now taken a major step on the road to peace and reconciliation. We have for the first time recognised in the Downing Street Declaration the right of self-determination of the people of Northern Ireland and the principle has been reiterated in the Framework Document. It was a courageous step for the Government of the day to take. It was a Fianna Fáil led Government but we must congratulate and salute the present Government on its continuation of the process that has started and for ultimately delivering what no doubt will be an instrument for resolving the divisions which have bedevilled our people.
One already sees the commercial benefits of the peace in Northern Ireland: the influx of tourism, even over the winter period, following the ceasefire; the enormous interest in Northern Ireland that now exists among city investors; the commitments of the United States Government to industrial investment and input, not to mention the money being made available to directly benefit the community. There is to be a straightforward cash injection of almost $30 million from the US. Yesterday we had the announcement of at least £1.26 million from the EU for cross-Border projects. This is in addition to the earlier £240 million from the European peace fund. We had Mr. John Major's announcement last week that the British Treasury will maintain for many years to come the same amount of money as is at present being  budgeted for Northern Ireland. This means that the vast amount which has been spent on security or other Troubles related matters can now be used to enhance the Northern Ireland economy. This will benefit this State as well by increasing cross-Border trade. The increase in such trade must be capitalised to create a unified economic approach throughout the entire country.
Jobs are as important to the people of Castleblayney as they are to the people of Crossmaglen and to the people of Lisbellaw as they are to the people of Letterkenny. It is my belief that the lot of these townsmen can be improved more by a single economic approach than through diverse economic policies.
The Framework Document alludes to co-operation in education. Such co-operation makes sound sense, particularly at secondary level as both economies are already seeing the benefit of the excellent relationship and co-operation that exists at university level, and this can be further enhanced. We now have only one veterinary school in Ireland which is in University College Dublin. It is a very expensive faculty to maintain. The agricultural industry and the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland require annually a large number of qualified veterinary surgeons. A substantial number of them at present qualify at UCD. I would urge the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland to seek a partnership with UCD to enhance this well established and internationally recognised veterinary school which is at present involved in a major development and needs substantial investment. In return a specific number of places could be allocated in the faculty for Northern Ireland students to relieve the pressure for so many Northern Ireland veterinary students who have to cross the Irish Sea to receive their qualifications. Surely this is an area where the United Kingdom Government could lead by example and blaze the trail in co-operation.
 The Framework Document is balanced. Its contents seek to accommodate the fears and apprehensions that to date prevented dialogue and thus a political solution to embrace our divisions. I hope and pray that all parties will recognise the enormous opportunities being presented to us. Our children will not readily forgive us if we throw these opportunities to the wind. I hope the Unionist politicians will shortly see their immediate interpretation of the proposals in this document was ill founded and that its authors have the very best intentions towards all the people of Ireland and that they will see fit to sit down will all parties to discuss how peace with honour can best be framed to mutual benefit.
It has to be recognised by all parties that we are equal. We are all entitled to the democratic process, parity of esteem, our aspirations, to earn our living and to reside in any area of this island where we have our own particular peaceful political aspiration and our pride and know that it is on merit alone that our achievement will be judged. We hunger for the day when every man is able to become whatever his being and vision can combine to make him. Too many people for too long have been unable to enjoy the rights and aspirations which this document seeks to harbinge. This document is the nucleus of a future society which can be achieved in which all the inhabitants of Ireland are honoured and respected instead of suffering political isolation and commercial avoidance by our partners in Europe and other countries.
The Treaty of Rome is centred around economic union. It has been the ointment for healing the great division that existed in Europe after the Second World War. The French and German Governments are now preparing to exchange Government Ministers. The Anglo-Spanish difficulties regarding Gibraltar have receded and the political differences in Belgium, France and Holand have calmed.
The Framework Document provides for possible enhancement of economic  liaisons. The partition of Ireland in 1920 envisaged a council of Ireland mainly centred around economic co-operation. It was recognised then by the forefathers of the present Unionists that Ireland could only survive and compete as one economic unit. Alas, realisation was not to be then but could now come to pass as conditions are surely right.
Yesterday Monika Wulf-Mathies, European Commissioner in charge of regional policy and cohesion funds, in announcing the last spending for economic cross-Border money programmes said: “I am very pleased to be able to approve these programmes at a time when due to the peace process, conditions for economic development and cross-Border co-operation in the island of Ireland are better than ever”. This language is commensurate with the confidence of our European partners. This is the prize of peace. Surely no one has the right to deny us this prize. Any section of the community or political leader who sullies this confidence by putting peace at risk will be castigated by history and all mankind. Let us learn from what we have seen. There is only one step from fanaticism to barbarism.
I cannot let this occasion pass without making a special reference to the former Taoiseach, Deputy Reynolds, who, I have no doubt, history will record as having made a major contribution to the peace process on this island. We also must recognise the enormous contribution of the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring. He straddled both Governments and continued to make enormous progress to deliver the document. We have to recognise the Taoiseach who also made an enormous contribution. They are all to be congratulated and we are proud to have three men of their calibre in this House.
Mr. Doyle Mr. Doyle
Mr. Doyle: Like other speakers on all sides of the House I welcome the launch last Wednesday of A New Framework for Agreement by the Taoiseach, Deputy Bruton, and the British Prime Minister, John Major. I record my thanks to them for their historic commitment to further  action and dialogue over the coming months and years. In passing I also congratulate the former Taoiseach, Deputy Reynolds, the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring. Sir Patrick Mayhew, John Hume and all other Ministers and officials on both sides who contributed to the months and years of preparatory work.
The Framework Document provides a carefully thought out structure for the future development of the political, social and economic life of the whole of Ireland. It is no more and no less than what was clearly laid out at the launch. The document is for discussion by all interested parties at all levels of society in Ireland. It does not impose any settlement or decide on anyone's behalf how they should be governed.
The document has, quite rightly, been presented as an opportunity to analyse and tease out how we might advance from the dreadful situation we have witnessed over the last 25 years in Northern Ireland. On that note I extend my sympathy to all those who have been bereaved by the violence during that period or suffered injury or intimidation in both communities. The goal of a permanent and peaceful solution is within our grasp through the Framework Document.
Those who are most directly affected, the Nationalist and Unionist communities in Northern Ireland, are now being given breathing space to consider all the valuable details contained in the document. Essentially we are talking about people with different backgrounds and beliefs learning to live with each other on a relatively small island. John Hume has often referred to a divided people rather than a divided land and I echo his view. It is surely not beyond hope or ingenuity to create a formula that will be acceptable to both sides and I believe this can be achieved with generosity and understanding between our neighbours.
The most encouraging response to the Framework Document has come from the Unionist population. They have shown no sympathy with their leaders' threats to boycott the political talks. Their response in the latest opinion poll  shows that they desire to seize the opportunity offered by the IRA and loyalist ceasefires to secure a conditional alternative to the violence of the last 25 years through a lasting political and peaceful settlement. We have a serious obligation to play our part as parliamentarians to reassure our Unionist neighbours that the ultimate prize for Ireland as a whole is peaceful coexistence which can only lead to a better quality of life for all in the future. The people of Northern Ireland see that there is nothing to be lost by talking.
Clear terms of reference are set out by the Irish and British Governments in the joint Framework Document which is more a discussion paper than a rigid blueprint as the Taoiseach, Deputy Bruton, made clear in the Dáil. The proposals of the two Governments are meant to facilitate dialogue, not to pre-empt it. The checks and balances proposed through the triple lock of consent of the parties, people and parliament offer an effective guarantee to the constitutional stability previously lacking. It ensures no settlement can be imposed and that the majority cannot be coerced.
All this should offer the Unionists ample reassurances of their future within the United Kingdom, not least when accompanied by the Government's willingness to drop the daim to jurisdiction over the North as part of the overall agreement. Any settlement, as both Governments have made clear, must be based on a balanced accommodation of the interests of the North's two divided communities, the Unionists and Nationalists. The success of that settlement also requires a high level of mutual compromise from all those involved.
I would like at this point to refer to an aspect of the joint Framework Document in which I have an ongoing interest. The Framework Document refers in detail to setting up North-South structures and institutions. It clearly states that new political structures in Northern Ireland must depend on the co-operation of elected representatives  and that cross community agreement is an essential requirement for the establishment of such structures. Consensus is the key element in all this and I am confident that if the will is there, much can be achieved in the short term, never mind in the years ahead.
I welcome the inclusion of a commitment to discussion on institutions to cater for political, social and economic interconnection on the island. The proposal for a North-South body is a challenging and exciting one and I believe it will be the vehicle through which progress between both communities can be achieved. Like, Senator Henry I have a special interest because I have been a member of the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body for many years. I assure the House that the experience in that body has been wholly successful.
The body met for the first time five years ago and the next plenary session takes place at the end of March in Dublin. The body operates through steering committees and the main work between plenary sessions is undertaken via four committees, namely. Political and Security, European Affairs, Economic and Social Affairs and Culture, Education and Environment. I am involved in the third committee. The House will be interested to leam that among the reports and issues we have dealt with are Irish communities in Britain and development of tourism and fisheries in Ireland. These are practical issues which clearly indicate that joint consideration of relevant topics can be beneficial to the island of Ireland. I ask that the preparation of reports involves discussion and contact with individuals. Governments and organisations whenever necessary. The reports are debated in the plenary session and the formal views of both Governments are sought and received. In addition, the relevant Ministers, in the UK or Ireland, are invited to the plenary session and take questions on relevant issues during public sessions.
I am convinced that the structures and mechanisms we use are a successful blueprint for the future. We have proven  beyond doubt that the system works and that there is no reason a similar structure should not be extended to the structures referred to in the document. The British-Irish interparliamentary body will have an increasingly important role in future and there is no reason it should not be used as a vehicle on which to build. I remind the House that since its inception in 1990, the body has allocated two seats to the Unionists, which, to date, they have not accepted. I would like to use this opportunity to once again appeal to Unionists to participate in the work of the body. They would be greatly surprised at the opportunities for progress which exist on behalf of the communities through the results which can be achieved from the programmes of action we undertake on an ongoing basis.
Since 1969 three major initiatives have been taken in an attempt to bring peace and stability to Northern Ireland. Some 22 years ago the British Government was prepared to acknowledge the necessity of an all-Ireland dimension in any solution to this problem but Sunningdale was rejected because it sought to establish a council of Ireland comprising a council of Ministers and a consultative assembly. While the Framework Document envisages cross-Border institutions with a role similar to that of Sunningdale's council of Ministers, it makes no suggestion of a consultative body drawn from the Northern Ireland assembly and the Dáil. The Sunningdale Agreement came into being without an amendment to Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
Senator Manning spoke about the principle of consent. In 1969 Fine Gael broke Nationalist ranks and established the principle of consent as central to the quest for unity and since then other political parties have followed suit. The principle of consent was endorsed in the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, but, yet again, it was rejected by the Unionists.
The climate in which the Framework Document is presented to us has changed. Unlike the two previous occasions, political violence has ceased  and the public mood for consolidating the peace process after 25 years of violence is overwhelming. In addition, Sinn Féin has accepted the precondition of consent and it is agreed by all the Nationalist parties that this ideological transformation should be reflected in changes to Articles 2 and 3 of our Constitution. On this occasion Unionists are asked for a compromise of lesser significance. They are not asked to abandon the central tenet of unionism, continued constitutional union with the United Kingdom, but to agree to all-Ireland institutions which will go some way towards representing the Nationalists' identity in that territory and to share Executive powers internally with Nationalists who fully endorse the principle of consent. If Unionists accept, or at least acknowledge this compromise, we can reassure our Unionist neighbours that the ultimate prize for Ireland is peaceful coexistence, which can only lead to a better way of life for all parts of this island in the future.
As Senator Haughey said, part of that prize must be increased confidence on the part of investors from Europe and further afield. That in turn will translate into jobs and will ensure that families in the North and South will no longer have to face the level of emigration to which we have become accustomed over past generations. We owe it to our young people to work closely together and to do all we can to build on the Framework Document. Dr. Garret FitzGerald said recently that what is new and yet unrecognised by most Unionists is the emergence of a powerful economic case for Northern Ireland, the development of closer links with the State and the fact that these processes will be entirely compatible with continued participation in the United Kingdom. The Framework Document offers enormous opportunities to both parts of Ireland to live in peace and harmony with each other. On this occasion no one can afford the luxury of saying no.
Mr. O'Toole Mr. O'Toole
Mr. O'Toole: I welcome the Minister to the House. It is appropriate that we  have an opportunity to discuss the Framework Document a week after its publication. I am worried about the way the discussion has drifted, including the well meaning words spoken in this Chamber. I want to put my experience on the record.
Partition is to culture what protectionism is to trade. People are hiding behind it and those who seem to be the greatest opponents of partition are the people who will greatly resist change over the next six months. I have had experience over the past month of trying to bring about change in areas which will lead to harmonisation, but I see no prospect of success. It was heartening to hear the way people spoke last weekend. We are aware of the survey in Northern Ireland and in Britain to establish points of view. We were quick to say that the Unionist leadership was out of touch with its grass roots, but there is a similar situation on this part of the island. The Sunday Press poll last Sunday gave a clear indication of how open people are to change. We are aware that our political leadership has shown an openness to change, although there may be slight differences of opinion on different sides of the House. That has stopped the necessary thought process and there seems to be little prospect of change among decision makers who are immediately underneath the political process. I am talking about the Church, education, sporting organisations and other important and influential all-Ireland groups in the State.
I listened carefully to the presentation of the Framework Document by the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach. I was interested in the area of education to which Mr. John Major particularly referred. I looked closely at the definition of “harmonisation” in the Framework Document, which requires us to establish common policies, identify the obstacles to them and then ensure their removal to implement the common policy by two different administrations. The other aspect of the  Framework Document is a commitment to a charter of rights for all citizens on this island. That charter is promising open, fair and unrestricted access to equal opportunity in all social and economic activity, regardless of class, creed, gender or colour.
As regards education, Mr. John Major mentioned — and it is mentioned in the Framework Document — the recognition of teachers' qualifications. It seems like a small move to ask people to make. The North of Ireland has generously given full recognition to teachers who qualified in the South. However there is no reciprocal recognition of northern qualifications in the South because this State requires all teachers to have an Irish qualification. In a new Ireland, we would need to change our approach to accommodate two men who were primary school principals in Northern Ireland, Mr. Séamus Mallon and Mr. Ken Maginnis, both of whom went on to full time politics representing different sides of the community. As of now, neither would be recognised as teachers in the Republic.
My organisation, the INTO, today published its submission to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. One of our proposals was to make such a change; this was leaked within the last fortnight. The response from the Irish language organisations has been reactionary beyond belief. I have argued this position on radio and television, and we in the INTO will not retreat on this issue, although it has earned us much criticism.
I would welcome public support on this matter. People must be asked what price they are prepared to pay for what they want, whether that is harmonisation, a united Ireland or something else. However, in the Ireland foreseen by Conradh na Gaeilge, there is no way for Mr. Mallon or Mr. Maginnis to get their old jobs back unless they are prepared to take a crash course and obtain a qualification in Irish. That is unacceptable but it is the current position.
The northern conference of the INTO is taking place this weekend in Newcastle.  County Down. It is an historic occasion because it is the first time — if the security arrangements permit me to say this — that both Ministers, from North and South, will address the conference. It is also the first time any two Ministers from the two Governments will be together at one forum since the publication of the Framework Document.
I hope both Ministers will say something about teachers' qualifications since it has been mentioned by Mr. Major, and it is discussed in the Framework Document. This would be a good opportunity to make a statement. I had negotiations on this issue last year with the Rev. Paisley, with people from Official Unionist Party headquarters and with Mr. John Hume on a number of occasions. This is a disgraceful and unacceptable position. We can protect the Irish language and ensure its survival without having this element of compulsion. That is just one issue. One could expand from there to discuss integrated education as a whole.
As of now concessions are made to children born outside the jurisdiction who move into the education system here. In the future there may be only one system in Ireland. At present if a Unionist family from the North moves from Newry to Dundalk, the children may be compelled to learn Irish, in other words, they will be made to feel inferior. Such action would ignore what is required in the forum document, where we are asked to remove barriers of distrust on the basis of promoting respect for the equal rights and validity of both traditions and identities. There must be movement on these issues.
Similar problems exist with the attitude of the Catholic Church and other churches towards the teaching of religion. A delicate balance must be struck in protecting the pluralist State and the denominational requirements of parents, who are entitled to ask for Catholic or Protestant education for their children. It is a disgrace that in this State there is no room for non-denominational education. I presume the Minister  in her White Paper on education will change the anomaly that people who want to create multi-denominational schools have to put themselves through hoops because under the rules of this State they are not entitled to such schools. That is wrong.
I have dealt with only a number of areas; I could deal with many more. The challenge for change is not being taken up at a sub-political level. These people are hiding behind partition. Partition is the same protection for culture as protectionism was for trade. There must be openness.
The question is not why we need to change the National Anthem but are we prepared to allow it to be changed. Some people say symbols are not important to them. That may be so but they are important to others. Are people prepared to get rid of or change symbols if they insult or offend in some way?
This is all to do with openness to change and I do not see it there at present. On this side of the Border we should look into our hearts to make sure there is an element of openness. I despair at the response my organisation is getting on trying to push through some of these issues. I do not see openness to change, but rather an assertion that everything will be fine if others join us.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: At this juncture, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Quinn, wishes to speak on behalf of An Tánaiste. He is not concluding the debate.
Minister for Finance (Mr. R. Quinn) Ruairí Quinn
Minister for Finance (Mr. R. Quinn): I welcome the decision by this House to make provision for a series of statements on the joint Framework Document. The Tánaiste regrets he is unable to take part in today's proceedings. He is in Washington briefing senior members of the US Administration on the Framework Document and the potential it represents for political progress. On behalf of both him and myself, I will contribute some observations on  the unique significance of the document and the way ahead as we see it.
The Framework Document is a historic first on many levels. It is an ambitious and innovative set of proposals which breaks with traditional doctrine in several decisive respects and urges a new approach on all sides in the search for a new accommodation. It is by far the most comprehensive and detailed account yet provided by the two Governments of their thinking on the future of Northern Ireland and relations between the two main traditions on this island. In outlining a shared vision of the way forward it enters previously uncharted constitutional and institutional territory, signalling our willingness to contemplate major change in both areas.
It sets out a generous vision of an Ireland in which greater protection and expression will be afforded than ever before to the two main traditions, nationalism and unionism. It capitalises on the extraordinary new opportunity for political movement which has been created since last September. The context of peace, in which the threat of violence has been lifted, has immeasurably strengthened the prospects for a lasting political accommodation.
Never before has there been so clear an emphasis on the need for agreement between nationalism and unionism as the key to all future arrangements on this island. Never before has the principle of consent in all its facets been so strongly endorsed. Further, never before has the role to be played by the political parties in Northern Ireland in the search for agreement been so clearly recognised.
The Framework Document is intended first and foremost as a powerful stimulus to the parties to engage in comprehensive dialogue with the two Governments on the way forward. It describes the key issues which we believe will feature in a new talks process. It indicates possible approaches to these issues which we believe could attract consensus in negotiations among  all concerned. It also defines in the clearest terms the contribution which the Irish and British Governments are each prepared to make as part of the search for a new consensus.
The document opens up a range of avenues which we believe could be profitably explored by the two Governments and the parties at future talks and could lead to a successful outcome. It represents a carefully calculated judgment of where, with the necessary flexibility and goodwill, we believe a fair and honourable accommodation between the various interests could be found.
We have strongly commended our ideas to the parties in the hope and expectation that they will find in them the broad lines of a possible new accommodation and that they will be prepared to sit down with us to discuss these further. We hope the document will help the parties review their traditional approaches and identify possible new areas of consensus which would still leave their essential principles and values intact.
The document offers pointers, not directives. It suggests but does not dictate. It is intended to open up debate, not pre-empt it. Its primary purpose is to encourage the parties towards a renewal of dialogue and negotiations with the Governments and to facilitate a new agreement. It does not seek to limit that dialogue in any way or to foreclose consideration of other proposals or ideas.
It is our considered response to the many requests addressed to the two Governments over the past few years, from the parties themselves and from other quarters, for an indication of our views on how progress might be made. The proposals we make are the result of a process of intergovernmental negotiation unprecedented in its duration and complexity.
In the course of these negotiations, the two Governments dealt with the concerns of both traditions in a scrupulously fair-minded and sensitive way. Many months were spent in a painstaking search for balance and fairness and  for expressions of our position which would be manifestly reassuring to both traditions.
We believe that we managed to achieve this difficult balance. It was an essential ingredient — indeed, the essential ingredient — if the document was to be offered to the other participants as a basis for dialogue conducive to a new agreement.
At the end of the day, each Government concluded that the framework which we had produced was indeed balanced. Indeed, if we had not reached this conclusion, the document would not have been agreed between us.
In addition to stimulating a new talks process, the document is designed to prompt sustained reflection in the wider public arena on the kind of political structures and arrangements required as part of a balanced and equitable accommodation. Balance is the essential criterion.
The premise of our approach is that an agreed Ireland must be founded on a careful and profound balancing of the needs of the two traditions. This calls for a fundamental reassessment of all existing relationships in Ireland — both within Northern Ireland and between North and South. In the Framework Document, the two Governments propose a major redefinition of the key relationships and ways in which a new balance might be struck within them.
The central reality to be addressed is that there are two sets of rights in Ireland which are equally legitimate and merit equal respect and treatment. What the Governments are saying in the Framework Document is that these two sets must be brought into a lasting balance with each other. The document shows how this might be achieved.
Neither set of rights. Nationalist or Unionist, can be seen to prevail in any way over the other. The “winner takes all” approach must be abandoned permanently. The guiding optic henceforth must be that of parity of esteem between both communities in Northern Ireland. A completely level playing field must be created for both traditions with  just and equal treatment and freedom from discrimination guaranteed for all citizens, irrespective of their political ethos or allegiance. The future stability of Northern Ireland will depend in large measure on the degree to which these principles of parity and balance are given practical effect.
What is indisputable is the central need for balance. The Framework Document describes the two Governments' best judgment of how that might be achieved. Others may have alternative suggestions and, if so, we will be very happy to hear them. However, what cannot be questioned is that the search for agreement must start from a recognition that no accommodation will work unless it is properly balanced. There is an onus on those who have criticised some or all sections of the Framework Document to demonstrate how the balance which is required might otherwise be achieved.
There are, after all, inescapable political realities to be confronted. Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society which reflects two conflicting aspirations and two distinct political traditions. This fundamental reality cannot be altered and it is futile for anybody to attempt to do so.
We cannot afford the luxury of pretending to ourselves that the other tradition does not exist or that it does not have needs every bit as legitimate and as compelling as our own. Reality cannot be redesigned to suit our own particular needs and perspectives. It is not, and it never was, one dimensional.
All sides must recognise that the political circumstances of this island are considerably more complex than we might like them to be and that new political structures are required to cater to and to express this complexity and diversity. Our very diversity, indeed, should be seen not as a threat but as a potential source of enrichment in our relations with each other. A willingness to embrace movement and change in the search for a new consensus is required on all sides.
 The essential safeguard for both traditions is the acceptance by both Governments that the constitutional future of Northern Ireland is vested entirely in the wishes of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland. Their wishes are the decisive factor.
The two Governments are agreed on the need for conditions to be created in Northern Ireland which will ensure a level playing field for both aspirations. This will enable members of both traditions, freed from coercion or pressure of any description, to work through the process of democratic persuasion alone to build support for one or the other option.
The political realities which we must address are indeed complex. The interlocking political structures and arrangements which the two Governments propose in the document reflect this. They involve a recognition that traditional structures have not worked and that what is required on all sides is a new and imaginative approach which will help to bridge differences and to develop common ground between the two traditions.
Only a comprehensive settlement which adequately acknowledges and accommodates the essential duality which lies at the heart of Northern Ireland, and of Ireland as a whole, can work. Political agreement, which alone will facilitate lasting peace and stability, cannot be achieved unless each tradition is ready to abandon the simplistic approaches of the past and to adjust to this more complex reality. Liberating oneself from the shackles of past orthodoxy is never an easy or comfortable experience. However, there is no alternative if we are to attempt a new understanding and consensus between our different traditions.
Over the past decade and a half Irish nationalism has been engaged in an exercise of this kind. Beginning with the New Ireland Forum, Irish Nationalists have set out to reassess their most sacred tenets and to recognise the overriding need for agreement among the Irish people, North and South, on the  political future of the island. The Joint Declaration and the Framework Document reflect many of the new values espoused by Irish nationalism.
The document extends a number of crucial reassurances to the Unionist tradition. It proposes to enshrine and to reinforce the principle of consent through constitutional change in our jurisdiction. It commits the Irish Government, as part of a balanced accommodation, to ask the electorate to change the Constitution so that Articles 2 and 3 would not contain any jurisdictional or territorial claim of legal right on behalf of the Irish State over the territory of Northern Ireland, contrary to the will of its people. The reintegration of the national territory could, therefore, only occur in circumstances where the majority of the people of Northern Ireland formally choose to be part of a united Ireland.
We recognise that the present wish of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland is for no change in its status. Our formal endorsement of the consent principle in our Constitution would underline more clearly than ever before our acceptance that the union would continue for as long as a majority of the people of Northern Ireland wished it to do so.
The document also envisages recognition by the Irish Government of the legitimacy of a new dispensation for Northern Ireland, including whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its constitutional status.
Among the institutions envisaged by the document, the two Governments propose a North-South body involving Heads of Department on both sides in which all decisions would be by agreement between the two sides. The Heads of Department would exercise their powers in accordance with the rules for democratic authority and accountability in force in new internal institutions in Northern Ireland and in the Oireachtas. The document makes clear that the operation of the body's functions would  be subject to regular scrutiny in these institutions and in the Oireachtas.
Both sides, Unionists and Nationalists alike, recognise that there are substantial practical benefits to be had from North-South co-operation across a range of areas of mutual interest. There are many areas which would benefit from a rationalisation of effort and resources or from functions being handled on an all-Ireland or cross-Border basis.
The North-South body would facilitate the systematic development of such co-operation on a basis agreed between both sides and in accordance with full democratic accountability. The body would enable people in both jurisdictions to work together for the common good, to build on the shared features of both economies and to achieve important economies of scale in the use made of our island's scarce resources. The two Governments see very considerable scope for joint action in major sectors of economic endeavour and for the expansion of North-South trade and business co-operation.
We see enormous potential for the economies North and South in the dramatic new context which has been created by the cease-fires and we see the North-South body making a crucial contribution to the realisation of this potential and a decisive impact, therefore, on the material prosperity of all the people of Ireland. The body will also have a key role to play in the development of an agreed approach for the whole island in respect of the challenges and opportunities of the European Union. There are countless new opportunities in that context which we can address much more effectively by acting together in partnership and in co-operation.
Co-operation between North and South in the different economic sectors means that all the energies and resources of this island can be harnessed in the most efficient way for the common good. Both Governments envisage, in a more general sense, that the North-South structures will also serve to help  heal the divisions between Unionists and Nationalists and to promote understanding and agreement among the people and institutions in both parts of the island. It is in all our interests that any new structures should not only incorporate equality of expression and treatment between both traditions in Northern Ireland but also as a necessary and central dimension, provide a framework for the overcoming of divisions and the promotion of harmonious relationships on the island as a whole.
Throughout the document, emphasis is laid on the need for agreement and also on the principle of consent. The latter concept has, of course, more than one dimension. At one level, it rules out any change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland other than by the wishes of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland. At another, it signals the need for political structures to be designed in such a way as to attract the consent of the Nationalist tradition. For as long as there is no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, the approval of Nationalists must be won for the political structures under which they are to live. Consent and agreement are the cornerstones of the entire Framework Document. They are clearly labelled as essential ingredients for stability in any political arrangements.
Nothing in the Framework Document prejudices or threatens the rights of Unionists in any way. Unionists have absolutely nothing to fear from it. On the contrary, it guarantees to members of the Unionist tradition that in all circumstances their rights, aspirations and identity will be fully respected and allowed full expression. The Irish Government make it clear that we seek no more for Nationalists within Northern Ireland than we would wish for Unionists to enjoy if the situation were reversed. The entire document is grounded on the principle — long insisted on by the Unionists — that the wishes of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland are paramount. The constitutional anxieties claimed by  Unionists are answered with a comprehensive commitment on the part of the Irish Government to constitutional change as part of an overall package.
It is disappointing that both the promotion of the principle of majority consent and the commitment to constitutional change in the document have not been acknowledged by the Unionist side. We are, after all, proposing significant change to the Irish Constitution against a background of persistent and vociferous Unionist complaints about Articles 2 and 3. We are doing so notwithstanding the fact that this is a matter of enormous sensitivity for Nationalists, North and South, which touches on the most profound issues of ethos and identity for them. Yet our initiative has been greeted by Unionists either with silence or with barely disguised hostility. It is not encouraging that the commitment to a change which has constantly been represented to us as the essential precondition for all future progress in North-South relations should be dismissed by some as of no value or consequence. The Irish and British Governments have shown in this document a willingness to move from traditional positions in order to facilitate political agreement. We believe there is a reciprocal need for all others involved in this process to demonstrate that they too are willing to move. All of us must show that we are willing to adjust our thinking and to compromise if the differences which exist are to be bridged and a new accommodation reached.
The Framework Document is now on the table. The two Governments hope it will be studied closely by the political parties over the coming weeks and that the parties will engage in early dialogue with us in order to give us their considered responses. We hope that that will lead in turn to the launching of comprehensive and inclusive talks at the earliest possible opportunity. The two Governments have put forward the Framework Document in a constructive spirit as a basis for dialogue and negotiation. We merely ask the parties to  respond to us in the same spirit. We see it as incorporating the necessary balance and supplying the necessary impetus and direction for future talks. People are free to disagree with our assessment. We do not require their agreement as a precondition for talks. If the parties wish to put forward alternative proposals, we will be happy to consider them. We have already welcomed the tabling of papers by the two Unionist parties last week. We are ready to respond to all constructive suggestions by the parties for alternative approaches which would meet the essential criterion of balance.
The negotiating table is where this dialogue should take place. We invite parties to come to the table — initially in informal bilateral contacts, if they wish — to give us their reactions to the document and to set out their own positions in full. No political interest can be jeopardised by participation in a frank and sincere dialogue without preconditions. If, however, the political representatives of one community decide not to engage in such dialogue, then they cannot claim to be serving that community's interests. The task of seeking a fair and balanced accommodation is a collective one and those who opt out of it render the most profound disservice to the community whom they represent. Recent opinion polls, conducted since the publication of the Framework Document, have highlighted the overwhelming desire on the part of the public in Northern Ireland to see political talks begin without delay. There is no question of the Governments ever seeking to coerce the parties into agreement on any set of arrangements — either that outlined in the Framework Document or, indeed, any other. Everything is for discussion and everything is for agreement. The new order which we wish to inaugurate must be built on consent, partnership and trust.
I hope that the Unionist parties will weigh carefully the implications of abstaining from dialogue and will recognise the overriding need to play their part in seeking a balanced and fair  accommodation. The two Governments are ready to build on all areas of possible agreement which emerges from contacts with the participants. The present climate for peace offers a historic challenge from which none of us, North or South, Nationalist or Unionist, can afford to shrink. Now is the time to draw a line under the failures and missed opportunities of the past and to start afresh in the search for a lasting political settlement. The Irish Government are determined to exploit this unique opportunity to the full.
Seanad Éireann 142 A New Framework for Agreement: Statements.