Seanad Éireann - Volume 154 - 01 April, 1998

Ordú an Reifrinn (An Páipéar Ballóide), 1998: Tairiscint. - Referendum (Ballot Paper) Order, 1998: Motion.

[1404] Mr. Lydon: Tairgim:

Go gceadaíonn Seanad Éireann an tOrdú seo leanas ina dhréacht:

Ordú an Reifrinn (An Páipéar Ballóide), 1998.

Ordú ar leagadh cóip de in a dhréacht faoi bhráid Sheanad Éireann an 13ú lá de Mhárta, 1998.

I move:

That Seanad Éireann approves the following Order in draft:

Referendum (Ballot Paper) Order, 1998.

A copy of which Order in draft was laid before Seanad Éireann on the 13th day of March, 1998.

Mr. Mooney: I cannot let this opportunity pass to compliment the Minister and his officials. This is a momentous occasion because we are enacting legislation to change the Constitution, which does not often happen. I compliment those involved in reaching a speedy resolution to the debate.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I join Senator Mooney in complimenting the officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the various Ministers — in this Government and its predecessor — who did trojan work through the intergovernmental conference and the reflection group in drafting this legislation. Much discussion and negotiation took place and member states had to compromise to ensure that everyone was satisfied with the final conclusions. While I would prefer the Treaty to be stronger in certain areas, we must recognise that it was developed in tandem with negotiations on economic and monetary union.

The officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs are to be complimented for their efficiency and effectiveness. They are some of the most competent and capable people in Europe. In the past Irish interests were well protected through their efforts and we have gained many benefits since 1973, particularly from the negotiations on the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty. We will continue to benefit but we are now faced with having to make a contribution. We will do so with the generosity traditionally associated with the Irish people. I hope the referendum will be successful because it is in our interests as citizens of Ireland and Europe that it is passed on 22 May.

Mr. Gallagher: This morning I complimented the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, on his contribution and the officials involved in the negotiations on the Treaty in recent years. I reiterate those compliments now.

[1405] We have decided to put before the people a proposal to change the Constitution. Those of us who agree that it should be changed in the direction outlined in the debate have a job to convince the people in that regard. We will not be able to engage in an eve of vote plea to people to vote in favour of acceptance because of the money involved. Perhaps that is good because we will be obliged to address the substantive issues.

I wish the new commission well in its arrangements for putting the information, pro and con, to the people. It has a major job to do. However, I am sure it will be no worse than the efforts made in respect of the bail referendum when one needed a magnifying glass to read the details printed in newspaper advertisements. I trust the Commission's efforts will be more comprehensive and easier for people to understand. A number of meetings will be organised during the campaign at which arguments in favour of and against acceptance will be put forward. I look forward to taking part in them.

It is good that money is not an argument because our eyes might be opened to the real success of the European Union. This morning I stated that I had been convinced to vote in favour of the Maastricht Treaty by virtue of a speech made by John Hume in Galway. He placed the conflict in this country, which we are currently trying to resolve, in the context of the peace which has existed in Europe since the foundation of the European Economic Community. It is within that context that we have a duty to advocate our arguments. I trust that the referendum will be successful.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): I thank Senators for their contributions. I will return to a number of the questions I answered, particularly those related to food labelling, when the House deals with the food authority Bill. I thank the officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs for their assistance.

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended at 3.30 p.m. and resumed at 6 p.m.