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Snippet Contents:

Yesterday I proposed to the House that this matter would be referred to the defence committee, and I understood there was broad agreement on it, so that it would be capable of calling witnesses and the Army would be able to present at it, but now I understand that a joke is being made of that proposal. It is going to the defence committee but it is coming back here tomorrow, so there is no time to call witnesses. If we have learned anything on issues such as the Lisbon treaty, where afterwards we did a lot of analysis, it is that people wanted to know what was going on. I listened to the Taoiseach's argument of support. Let that be made. Let the Chief of Staff of the Army come in and make his point. Let those with reservations ask their questions in an open forum. Let others who have reservations about our participation in PESCO state their case. Let the committee of the House then report back to us. As I said yesterday, there is no urgency to this matter. Should it be the decision of the House, we can join at any time. There is no timeline.
I raised the issue on 28 June last and in October, yet, as of yesterday, it all had to be truncated into a two-hour debate and now it is proposed to allow three and a half hours. However, we have the nonsense of a committee consideration when the committee will not have time to call any witnesses, probe any of the issues or answer any of the legitimate questions which people in the House or outside it might have.
In reasonableness, so that we can build consensus about these matters rather than divide and create conspiracy theories about them, can we not have an open and proper parliamentary debate that would occur in any normal democratic parliament in the world? Will the Taoiseach consider that and allow the committee to meet, call witnesses and make a recommendation to us? Let us then have a vote in the new year, one way or the other.