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White Paper on Foreign Policy: Statements.

Thursday, 28 March 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 463 No. 5

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Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): Information on Dick Spring Zoom on Dick Spring 'Sé seo an chéad ocáid riamh do Rialtas na hÉireann Páipéar Bán forleathan a chur amach a bhaineann le polasaí eachtrach. Ceann de na haidhmeanna atá againn leis an bPáipéar Bán seo ná chun chur in a luí ar muintir na hÉireann gur leo féin a bhaineann polasaí eachtrach na hÉireann. Táim lán-tsásta leis an gcaoi gur cuireach fáilte roimh an bPáipéar [1273] Bán ón Mháirt i-leith. Is onóir don Rialtas, do mo Roinnsa agus dom féin an Páipéar Bán a chur ós comhair na Dála inniu.

The publication of Challenges and Opportunities Abroad, the White Paper on Foreign Policy, meets the commitment contained in the policy agreement, A Government of Renewal, which was adopted by the Government when we assumed office in 1994. As provided for in that agreement, the White Paper spells out the principles that underpin Ireland's commitment to peace, security and international co-operation. It is also a central purpose of the White Paper to encourage debate about all aspects of foreign policy, more transparency in the conduct of policy, and the maximum degree of ownership of policy by the people.

In meeting these aims we were concerned to provide for public participation in the preparation of the White Paper. This process involved both the soliciting of written submissions from the public and the holding of a series of public seminars on foreign policy themes.

The White Paper is intended to provide a comprehensive survey of our foreign policy. While it cannot, obviously, concern itself with every issue of foreign policy, an effort has been made to address as many of the issues raised at the foreign policy seminars as possible. The White Paper, however, does not, address the question of Northern Ireland. This is because the situation in Northern Ireland is evolving daily. Also, we felt that the issues associated with Northern Ireland already receives considerable public attention on a regular basis.

Irish foreign policy is about much more than self-interest. The elaboration of our foreign policy is also a matter of self-definition — simply put, it is for many of us a statement of the kind of people we are. Foremost among the values set out in the White Paper are those which are contained in Article 29 of the Constitution. Irish people are committed to those principles — the [1274] ideal of peace and friendly co-operation among nations founded on international justice and morality; the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination; and the principles of international law as our rule of conduct in our relations with other states.

The White Paper recognises that as our country is small and hugely dependent on foreign trade for our well-being, our interests require us to pursue an active policy of external engagement. While holding firmly to the principles which we cherish, that policy — if it is to allow us pursue our interests to best effect — must be sufficiently adaptable to enable us to meet the constantly changing circumstances of the modern world.

The European Union, and Ireland's place in it, is dealt with in considerable detail. The Union's Intergovernmental Conference is due to open in Turin tomorrow and Ireland will shortly be assuming the Presidency of the Union. This is therefore an appropriate moment at which to present the White Paper for discussion in this House.

The White Paper points out that participation in the process of European integration has been crucial to Ireland's development. Through our involvement in this process and, in particular, through our membership of the European Union, Ireland is now in the mainstream of European decision-making.

Ireland has contributed constructively to the Union's development and we have benefited significantly from our membership of the European Union. The White Paper outlines the considerable influence the EU has had on the strengthening of our identity and our international policies as well as the positive impact the European Union has had on developments in Northern Ireland. It also points to the substantial net transfers from the EU that Ireland has received.

From 1 July, Ireland will once again be to the forefront of both European [1275] and world developments when we take over the Presidency of the European Union. In the lead-up to the Presidency, as outlined in some detail in the White Paper, the European Union faces five major challenges as it moves towards the 21st century. My colleague, Minister of State, Deputy Gay Mitchell will address the subject of the European Union chapter in more detail, but I will outline briefly the analysis of these issues set out in the White Paper.

These are, first, the need for the Union to ensure its balanced economic development and realise the full potential of the Single Market. Second, the Union must ensure that it functions in an open way and addresses the real concerns of the citizens of the Union, such as unemployment and drugs. Third, the Union must equip itself to play a role commensurate with its responsibilities. The Intergovernmental Conference will play a significant role here. Fourth, it must seize the historic challenge and opportunity of enlargement to include the other democratic European countries that wish to become members. Fifth, the Union must continue the process of ever closer union among the peoples of Europe to ensure that the enormous achievements of the Union in terms of peace and prosperity are consolidated for future generations.

The White Paper states categorically that the central current economic challenge for the European Union and its member states is employment. It is well recognised that, while economic growth is necessary to tackle unemployment, it is not in itself sufficient. Active measures must be taken to increase competitiveness and to create an economic structure more favourable to turning growth into sustainable jobs.

We will work during our Presidency to ensure that the EU's activities on the employment front are enhanced and intensified. The process of maximising the job-creating potential of our economies is not a short-term one. It [1276] requires sustained effort, but by working together the member states will reinforce each other's individual efforts.

The future enlargement of the European Union and the many complex issues arising in relation to enlargement are matters of fundamental importance for Ireland, the other existing EU member states, the applicant countries and, for the European continent.

Let us be clear about the context. Millions of our fellow Europeans, having succeeded after decades in ridding themselves of forced material and spiritual deprivation, seek to reclaim and to re-state their European identity and destiny. They wish to see their countries accede to the European Union. They aspire to the economic and political benefits which will flow from this.

The Union, its member states and the applicant countries must prepare for the challenges of enlargement. We must ensure that the essential nature of the Union, characterised by its commitment to solidarity and to economic and social cohesion, remains undiminished by the accession of new member states in central, eastern and southern Europe. This is a matter of essential interest for the Union and its existing member states, including Ireland. Likewise, the interests of new member states will be best served by a deepening of European intergration.

For their part, applicant countries must prepare to be able to assume the obligations of membership by satisfying the demanding economic and political conditions required. We in Ireland must ensure that our essential interests, for example in relation to the CAP and economic and social cohesion, are safeguarded in the context of preparing for enlargement and during accession negotiations.

The White Paper recognises unambiguously the advantages of economic and monetary union for an open economy such as ours. It acknowledges it as an important further step in the process of European integration. The White Paper recognises that the British opt-out is a potential difficulty — it would [1277] clearly be preferable from our point of view if Britain were to participate from the beginning. The key priority for the Government is to prepare the economy for participation and to ensure that we meet the criteria for the third stage of European Monetary Union from the beginning.

The Government believes effective co-ordinated action in the area of justice and home affairs is essential, particularly in combating drug trafficking, international organised crime and terrorism.

In addition to the many ongoing priorities of the Union which will dominate our Presidency, the effective management of the Intergovernmental Conference will be a major priority. As the White Paper points out, it is neither possible nor appropriate to set out in detail Ireland's negotiating position on the issues which may arise at the Intergovernmental Conference. Our broad approach to the Intergovernmental Conference will be based on identifying real practical improvements in the functioning of the Union under all three pillars, and enabling the Union to address the challenges posed by further enlargement. We will attach particular importance to equipping the Union to address the most direct concerns of citizens. At the same time, part of our ambition will be to preserve those elements, including the broad balances between the institutions and the member states, which have served the Union well and are essential for its future success.

It is also clear that the outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference must, by definition, be acceptable to the public in all member states. A number of sensitive issues will be considered at the Intergovernmental Conference and will have to be resolved with respect for the concerns of all. The continued right of all member states to nominate a member of the Commission, for example, is a point of key importance for Ireland.

As to the practical issues we might pursue during the Intergovernmental Conference negotiations, I mention for [1278] instance the commitment in the White Paper to seeking a Treaty change to reflect in an appropriate way the rights of people with a disability.

In considering Ireland's foreign relations, we cannot forget the extent to which our economic well-being depends on other countries. Some 70 per cent of the goods we produce are exported. Two out of three jobs in manufacturing depend on export trade. Certain service sectors such as professional consultancy increasingly find their customers abroad. Employment in tourism obviously would not be viable without foreign visitors. Moreover, business in Ireland, especially manufacturing industry, has benefited on a very large scale from investment by foreign companies over the years. Such companies now number no fewer than a thousand. Their exports, and the employment they generate, are of enormous value to the economy.

As is stated in the White Paper, it is in Ireland's interest to seek a just and stable international order, in which peaceful trade can flourish. We need to encourage less-developed countries towards sustainable development. We should support international bodies such as the World Trade Organisation which aims to liberalise trade world wide, on the basis of agreed rules and safeguards. This has been an established part of Ireland's policy for many years.

The promotion of trade and investment is a major obligation of all Irish diplomatic missions abroad. My Department works closely with other Government Departments, especially Agriculture, Food and Forestry and Tourism and Trade, and with the State bodies responsible specifically for foreign trade and investment. I mention in this regard the role currently being played by my Department and our missions in seeking to have certain markets for our beef reopened. Irish diplomatic missions also seek the help and support of Irish business people living and working abroad. In the Chapter on the foreign service I outline further proposals to enhance the [1279] effectiveness of the service in this regard.

The European Union and the United States together absorb 80 per cent of our exports. However, new markets are now opening up in Asia and in Central Europe. With this in mind, the Government decided to open three new embassies last year, one in Malaysia and two in Central Europe, one to Hungary and one to the Czech Republic. I am happy to refer also to the Government's recent decision to open an embassy in Israel. The new mission will further our capacity to contribute to the Middle East Peace Process. It will also assist in promoting our economic interests.

The new post-Cold War environment presents numerous challenges to the security of Europe and the world. It is an environment characterized by uncertainty and by a proliferation of risks and challenges, many of which have the capacity to affect our interests and the welfare and prosperity of our people. The threat of global nuclear destruction may have receded, but new risks of nuclear proliferation have appeared. We have seen war and ethnic cleansing return to Europe, genocide in Rwanda, and a number of open and bloody conflicts in parts of the former Soviet Union. The risks to the environment, the rise of international crime, the scourge of drugs, these and many other problems are cited by governments throughout the world as issues that cannot be addressed by nations acting individually and can only be addressed in a meaningful way by co-operative action.

We see the issue of security in its broadest sense. The reality that faces all of us, as the OSCE at the highest level has recognised, is that security is indivisible and it must be constructed on more co-operation, not less; on partnerships that have as their aim peace and friendly co-operation and on more and better use of existing institutions such as the UN, the OSCE and the European Union in the search for enhanced peace and security. Individual institutions are less able than before to cope with the [1280] new and multifaceted challenges that are arising. Former Yugoslavia is an obvious example: a NATO-led force, IFOR, including Russia and three of our fellow neutral States, Sweden, Austria and Finland, is implementing the military aspects of the Dayton Accords. The UN is also undertaking peacekeeping and police operations in the former Yugoslavia. The Western European Union has been involved at the request of the EU and in co-operation with NATO on sactions, enforcement and police tasks. The European Union has a central role in diplomatic and peace monitoring aspects. The OSCE will have a crucial role in overseeing civilian aspects of the peace process.

The White Paper sets out the new international context in which Ireland must operate. I wish to encourage a rational and confident debate. I want to demonstrate that Ireland has nothing to fear from closer co-operation with other States in the search for a more secure world. None of this poses any threat to our non-participation in military alliances and I trust the White Paper will serve to correct and clarify any misperceptions that may exist on that account.

The UN Charter remains the ultimate source of legitimacy for all efforts to preserve, promote and defend international peace and security. Ireland's commitment to the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. The United Nations system is uniquely placed to promote the collective security, human rights and economic and social development of the world community.

As the UN faces new and different challenges in the future, it is the Government's view that the Organisation will benefit from a process of revitalisation and reform. Reform of the Security Council is overdue. This body should through enlargement, be made more representative of the overall membership of the United Nations. It must become more transparent in decision making and build better consultation channels with the Secretary-General and the General Assembly. The UN's [1281] financial crisis must be addressed and arrears by member states settled.

The UN is the primary forum for Ireland's efforts to promote disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and arms control. The White Paper contains a comprehensive restatement of our disarmament policy and sets out the main objectives for the period ahead. While the post Cold War environment has facilitated progress on nuclear and conventional disarmament excessive accumulation of arms is one of the major contributory causes to international tension and conflict.

At the UN, Ireland is continuing to promote acceptance of principles of responsibility and restraint in arms transfers. We wish to ensure that any development of EU co-operation in armaments policy includes a significant strengthening of existing arms export control policies at EU level.

Ireland will continue to work for a total ban on anti-personnel landmines through focused efforts in the international fora open to us. Ireland neither produces nor exports such weapons. In 1996 the Chemical Weapons Convention should enter into force. The Government intends that Ireland will ratify it as soon as possible.

The promotion and protection of human rights is an essential part of Ireland's approach to foreign policy. I have established a human rights unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs which will co-ordinate human rights issues including, where necessary, with other relevant Government Departments. We will seek to ensure that our concerns in human rights are given full expression in the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. We will be intensifying our efforts at the United Nations to achieve agreement on a draft statute for a permanent international criminal court.

During his recent visit here, President Clinton paid eloquent tribute to Ireland's record on peacekeeping. We can be justifiably proud of our tradition [1282] of service to the United Nations in this regard.

The current wave of intra-state conflicts poses new challenges for peace-keeping and points to the need for responses which cover all aspects of conflict — problems of underdevelopment, human rights violations, humanitarian assistance, mass movements of refugees, reconciliation and post conflict reconstruction. We need a better understanding of the causes of conflict and a more systematic and speedy reaction to mitigate them before they develop into open conflict. The focus for the future should be on conflict prevention and rapid deployment of adequately resourced and equipped peacekeeping forces with realistic and achievable mandates.

Chapter 4 of the White Paper identifies the central elements of Ireland's security policy over many years, including our policy of military neutrality, embodied by non-participation in military alliances. As the White Paper makes clear, our approach to the formulation and expression of our security policy will continue to be in harmony with our outlook and traditions, and at the same time responsive to the new and still evolving challenges that face us in promoting peace, security and progress at the European and global level. This approach underpins our policies towards the UN, the OSCE, the Partnership for Peace, the Western European Union, and to Intergovernmental Conference security and defence issues.

The White Paper acknowledges that the majority of Irish people have always cherished Ireland's military neutrality and that this policy has served Ireland well. The Government will not propose that Ireland should seek membership of NATO or the Western European Union.

The White Paper surveys the emerging security landscape. I have already mentioned the UN. The OSCE, the only regional organisation to which all the states of Europe and North America adhere, is uniquely placed to develop further its existing role as a focal point [1283] for European security co-operation. We will seek to strengthen the OSCE as a permanent organisation for European security co-operation and to further develop its capacity for preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping.

The OSCE has endorsed the pursuit of systematic and practical co-operation between European and other regional and transatlantic organisations that share its values and objectives. Both NATO and the Western European Union have gone beyond their core functions as defence alliances and have announced their willingness to contribute to conflict prevention and crisis management tasks at the request of the UN and the OSCE. This reflects a developing feature of the new security landscape: the concept of mutually reinforcing co-operation between these institutions.

There is an emerging consensus that the EU should be better equipped to make a contribution internationally in such areas as peacekeeping and humanitarian operations — the so called Petersberg Tasks identified by the Western European Union. It is envisaged that the Western European Union involvement in such operations would be at the request of the UN, the OSCE or the EU under its Common Foreign and Security Policy. The White Paper states it is desirable and right that Ireland should be prepared to make a contribution in areas where it has proven capacity and experience. Our other EU partners which have remained outside military alliances — Austria, Finland and Sweden, are like us, observers at the Western European Union. They have also shown interest in Western European Union peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks.

The Government has decided to discuss with the Western European Union the possibility of Ireland taking part, on a case by case basis, in humanitarian and rescue tasks and peacekeeping tasks under the Petersberg declaration and to consider such changes as may be necessary in the Defence and Garda Síochána [1284] Acts to enable Ireland's Defence Forces and gardaí to take part in such operations.

The forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference is expected to consider how the Common Foreign and Security Policy provisions, including through the EU-WEU relationship and the handling of the Petersberg Tasks in the framework of the relationship, can best be developed to enhance the EU's contribution to European and global peace and security. This is a challenge that faces all members of the EU, neutral or allied.

The Government's approach to the Intergovernmental Conference negotiations will be on the basis of the principles set out in Chapter 4. The White Paper restates the Government's commitment that the outcome of any future negotiations that would involve Ireland's participation in a common defence policy would be put to the people in a referendum, thus ensuring that Ireland's policy of military neutrality remains unchanged unless the people themselves decide otherwise.

Partnership for Peace has already attracted much attention. I regret that some of it has been misinformed. I invite all Deputies to read the White Paper closely. The White Paper sets out the reasons Ireland should consider participating in this co-operative initiative which the vast majority of OSCE member states have already joined. Partnership for Peace has already assumed an important role in European security co-operation, particularly in such areas as training for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, environmental protection and drugs interdiction.

Partnership for Peace does not involve membership of NATO, the assumption of any alliance commitments, or any commitment to future membership of NATO. Austria, Finland, Sweden and Malta have all joined on this basis. Participation in Partnership for Peace in no sense impinges on our policy of military neutrality.

[1285] Partnership for Peace is a flexible arrangement, which allows each participating state to focus on its own interests in the security area: ours is that of peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, and environmental and drugs issues. It is incorrect and misleading to suggest that Partnership for Peace is somehow a back door for Irish entry to NATO. The Government has decided that a final decision on participation should be taken on the basis of further consultations, including with the relevant Oireachtas committees, and that such a decision should be approved by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Turning now to development co-operation, Chapter 9 of the White Paper opens with an acknowledgement of the unprecedented increase which has already taken place in Irish aid funding as a result of the commitments made both in the Programme for a Partnership Government and in a Government of Renewal.

What these commitments have meant in practice is that expenditure on development co-operation activities more than doubled between 1992 and 1995. The Irish aid budget this year, amounting to £106 million or 0.3 per cent of GNP, represents the highest ever Irish Government investment in development co-operation, both in cash terms and as a percentage of our GNP.

The availability of funding at this level makes it especially important that the Government has in place a set of policy objectives which govern the way in which our contribution is actually used.

Chapter 9 of the White Paper provides such a policy framework. It builds on principles already highlighted in the Irish Aid: Consolidation and Growth Strategy Plan, which was published in 1993, but it also develops our thinking in certain key areas such as rehabilitation assistance and emergency humanitarian aid.

An important initiative, which I am sure will be widely welcomed, is the establishment of a humanitarian liaison group to co-ordinate at a national level [1286] our response to emergency humanitarian crises, with the preparation of a rapid response register of personnel who would be willing to travel to developing countries at short notice in the event of an emergency.

Above all, what we have tried to do in formulating the White Paper is to ensure that there is a coherence at all levels between aid policy and other elements of Irish foreign policy. The White Paper, therefore, places our development effort firmly within the context of our larger foreign policy aspirations.

The level of funding which has been allocated to the bilateral aid programme is an indication of our ongoing commitment to development co-operation as one of the most important instruments of our foreign policy both in the medium and in the longer term. In this context, I am happy to register the fact that the White Paper unambiguously confirms that it is the Government's intention to make further increases in ODA expenditure in the years ahead in order to put Ireland's performance on a par with that of our partners in the European Union. My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Burton, will be addressing these issues more fully.

The White Paper addresses also important issues such as the environment. We hope that the inclusion of this chapter in a document on foreign policy will be taken as evidence of the seriousness with which the Government intends to address our concerns in this regard.

Turning now to the Irish abroad the White Paper recognises that the tens of millions of people of Irish descent throughout the world are an important asset which should not be under-estimated. They are proud of their Irish connections and have special affection for this country. Many of them directly or indirectly assist us in the pursuit of our national objectives — for example, in the political sphere by supporting and supplementing our efforts to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation in our country and, in the economic field, by [1287] helping investment, exports and tourism. We in the Government greatly appreciate that assistance and will continue to express that appreciation at every opportunity. I am sure that others will do likewise.

Looking after the consular interests of the large number of our citizens abroad, both resident in and visiting other countries, is one of the foremost tasks of our network of diplomatic and consular missions. In addition to opening new Embassies where that is justified we are gradually enlarging our network of Honorary Consulates. These also have a role in assisting with the promotion of our economic interests.

Providing adequate consular protection for our citizens abroad entails a wide variety of services such as issuing passports, helping to repatriate the remains of people who die, assisting people in distress and protecting the rights of those arrested or imprisoned.

I am glad to say that queues and delays at the passport offices are now things of the past. There has been a significant increase in staff, the “Passport Express” joint venture with An Post introduced a year ago has proved to be very popular, the Dublin office has been extended and the Cork office upgraded to a full issuing office for people in Munster. We are committed to maintaining and, if possible, improving the service provided by the passport offices.

I regret there is not sufficient time for me to address all of the issues and themes covered in the White Paper. Challenges and Opportunities Abroad is a comprehensive statement of our foreign policy and, as I have noted, this is the first time that an Irish Government has produced such a White Paper.

I am somewhat surprised by some of the comments to the effect that the Government has been unduly tardy in publishing the White Paper. Yes, we would indeed have liked to have brought forward the White Paper at an earlier stage. As I stated on previous occasions, however, we were unwilling to publish until such time as we felt the [1288] document was sufficiently comprehensive, balanced and thought through to enable it serve the purpose for which it is intended. I should like to emphasise that, despite what has been implied, no guillotine shall descend on public debate of Ireland's approach to the Intergovernmental Conference negotiations, or on any other aspect of our foreign policy. The White Paper has been formulated by us for the very purpose of encouraging and contributing to such a debate.

I consider that this is an appropriate moment to present the White Paper, given the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference and our forthcoming Presidency of the European Union. The House will be aware that a number of other EU member states have brought forward, or are intending to bring forward, policy statements regarding the European Union. I have no doubt but Challenges and Opportunities Abroad is a most worthwhile contribution by Ireland to the debate.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke I welcome the eventual publication of the White Paper. I regret it was delayed for eight months following the promised publication date of June last. It can best be described as a bland document, in many cases merely descriptive. It lacks vision and is obviously the result of a thought process of a committee with a double-think on the crucial issue of neutrality.

The absence of a section on Northern Ireland is a major shortcoming of this document. The Tánaiste attempted to describe that omission by saying that the situation in Northern Ireland is evolving daily and that the issues associated with Northern Ireland already receive considerable public attention on a regular basis. The fact that they receive considerable public attention on a regular basis should be no reason for the Government, in the publication of such a White Paper, not to take the opportunity to lay down the basic principles on what is our foremost national priority, the consolidation of peace and the bringing about of a settlement of the [1289] Northern Ireland problem through the three stranded process on the basis of the Framework Document, which is the agreed policy statement of the two Governments. There is no reference in the document to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. The decision by the Government not to include a section on Northern Ireland and North-South funding through Europe is a major omission from this document.

At the end of his speech the Tánaiste attempted to answer the criticism of the delay in publication of the White Paper. I welcome the holding of open fora throughout the country to seek the views of people interested in foreign policy. That was a very good process which was well carried out, but it concluded last spring. We were told at that stage that the White Paper would be published in June, then we were told it would be July. We were then told it would definitely be published before the Dáil resumed in September, then that it would be October, November, December, and then definitely before the Dáil resumed at the end of January. It is now published the week in which we start the review of the Intergovernmental Conference which, after the peace process, is the single biggest issue we face in the period ahead in terms of foreign policy. It is ludicrous that the Government is merely stating its position — a fudged position — at this stage.

The White Paper is not, as the Tánaiste would have us believe, for the purpose of encouraging and contributing to a debate on foreign policy. Rather than encouraging such a debate the Government has published a document of 350 pages two or three days before the Intergovernmental Conference begins. That is no way to carry on business. I will come back to the question of the Intergovernmental Conference later. The document, Challenges and Opportunities Abroad, containing a specific chapter headed The Democratic Accountability of Foreign Policy which extols the virtues of accountability, transparency and freedom of information, stands indicted on [1290] the basis that it is published on the Tuesday before the Intergovernmental Conference begins.

The Tánaiste's refusal to answer questions in this House makes a sham of democratic accountability for foreign policy. For example, I recently put down a question to the Tánaiste on his knowledge of whether the Taoiseach, in a phone call to Mr. John Hume, asked him to vote in a particular way in a House of Commons vote. The Tánaiste referred the question back to the Taoiseach who tells us regularly that at all stages in negotiations on matters related to Northern Ireland, he informs the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Welfare. Yet, the Tánaiste refuses to answer the fundamental question of interference with the voting intentions of the SDLP.

The section of the White Paper dealing with overseas development aid is a rehash of the Government's five year strategic plan on ODA which was prepared and published by Deputy Tom Kitt when he was Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs in the last Government. The White Paper is a watering down on the commitments made in the strategic plan. It gave a specific outline of funding over a five year period to achieve the 0.7 per cent of GNP level of funding for ODA. This has been watered down in the White Paper because there is no firm commitment to that target. The people have clearly indicated their ongoing support for and commitment to development assistance. They have shown in it their encouragement to Governments to increase funding to the 0.7 per cent of GNP level and in their generous voluntary contributions to NGOs.

I welcome the idea of a humanitarian co-ordination committee between NGOs and Government Departments proposed in the White Paper. It is a good move and deserves support. The rapid response register is also a good idea. It will allow for a quick response from Irish specialists who will be on the register. In preparing the register we [1291] must ensure that the tax and PRSI position and the career opportunities of the specialists are not damaged by their voluntary efforts to assist in crises. The humanitarian co-ordination committee should consider clarifying these issues of tax, PRSI and career prospects for volunteers.

The Tánaiste referred to landmines. He is aware that on behalf of Fianna Fáil I published the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Land Mines Bill, 1996. This is a major human rights issue which ranks in importance with debt and the problem of AIDS for the Third World. The Tánaiste should welcome this Bill and support its passage through the House in Government time. Landmines are not manufactured here but we could send a clear message on our position on the issue. A ban in Ireland would put pressure on our EU and UN partners. To suggest we have no role to play on the issue because we do not manufacture mines would be to shirk our responsibility. An Irish ban would help to bring the issue to the forefront in international debate. We are not the only country to consider such action; Belgium already has such a ban.

There are over 110 million mines in the world and more are planted every year than are taken out of the ground. In 1993 approximately 100,000 mines were cleared, yet in the same year two million to five million mines were planted. Cambodia has a population of nine million people, yet it has about nine million planted mines and about 40,000 mine victims. In the past we led the way on the question of nuclear nonproliferation with Frank Aiken, then Minister for Foreign Affairs. We did not have a nuclear industry then nor do we now, but we led the world on that issue. We should give a moral lead on the issue of landmines and I appeal to the Tánaiste to respond positively on the issue.

Third World debt is an issue of great importance. We should support the call for a world conference on Third World debt which would see a writing off of [1292] the debts of those countries most severely affected. In many cases assistance is given by the developed world to Third World countries whose annual level of debt repayment is greater than the amount of aid received.

With regard to humanitarian assistance and ODA, we should have a co-ordinated international programme and policies which are targeted against child prostitution and the exploitation of child labour. These matters require urgent attention and we could give a moral lead during our forthcoming Presidency of the EU which will give us an opportunity to indicate that our future is as an enthusiastic member of the EU. We want the retention of the present institutional balance in the EU — for example, the right of each member state to appoint a Commissioner. If ever we needed proof of how important it is for each state to have its own Commissioner, we have it in the excellent work done by Commissioner Flynn in securing a major reduction in the fine imposed on us by the EU. It is important that the rights of smaller states are maintained in the context of enlargement. It has been indicated that some of the larger member states do not want smaller member states to have the Presidency of the Union. The principle of smaller member states holding the Presidency on rotation is an important one and we should continue to fight for that.

In the context of the review of the Maastricht Treaty it is important that we strive for a jargon free Europe because many of the problems that arise in Europe are due to a lack of knowledge and respect on the part of its citizens in regard to what is happening in its member states. We should also uphold the principle of subsidiarity which allows national, regional and local issues to be dealt with at the appropriate level. That is important in the context of the Intergovernmental Conference which must address the real concerns of Europe's citizens.

[1293] One of the major concerns of Europe's citizens is the global environment. We must ensure the European Union does not become a nuclear superpower. We must adhere to a policy of total nuclear disarmament and it is important to establish an independent nuclear inspectorate at EU level which would be welcomed by the citizens of Europe, if not the governments of the nuclear states. Ireland's Presidency in 1996 should be seen as an opportunity to promote the environment as a global issue because it is one of great concern not just to our citizens but to all the citizens of the European Union. We want to see the implementation of the Dublin Declaration of 1990 and the objectives of the Rio Summit of 1992.

On the question of common foreign and security policy, security in the widest sense involves the fight against drugs, terrorism and international terrorism. Unfortunately, international terrorism now includes the smuggling and marketing of nuclear materials. That threatens the security of the people of Europe and the world generally. International security should not be concerned merely with the question of armies on the borders of Europe facing up to some military threat; our consideration of that question should be much broader. For example, there should be a co-ordinated European security effort to protect our hundreds of miles of coastline, particularly in the south west which faces the ongoing threat of the importation of drugs.

Drugs damage young people not only in Ireland but in Europe generally. This country is facing the scourge of drugs and there must be concerted action taken by all the EU member states in the fight against this problem. This issue should be at the top of the agenda of our forthcoming Presidency and also in any review of security that may take place in the EU.

I wish to refer to the Government's stance on the question of neutrality. The White Paper is an exercise in double [1294] think. The Government seeks to participate in the NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace and the Western European Union. Both NATO and the Western European Union have nuclear armouries, and it clearly wishes to become a constructive participant in negotiations on a common defence policy for the European Union. It wants to contribute to and influence the outcome as well as participate in its implementation.

Let us consider what that will involve for Ireland. We strongly believe the Irish people want to contribute to peacekeeping operations around the world. That has been evident since 1960 when we first became involved in UN peacekeeping operations. They want to contribute not just to the UN but, through the EU, to a common foreign and security policy but they do not want second-hand membership of NATO through the Partnership for Peace or through the Western European Union. We can make our Garda and Army expertise, developed over the past 35 years, available to the European Union on a case by case basis at the request of the EU but not through the two nuclear capacity organisations, NATO and the Western European Union.

It is not sufficient for the Tánaiste to come into this House and talk to us in bland terms about the Petersberg Tasks. It is worth recalling the objectives set out in the Petersberg Tasks in the declaration of June 1992. Those tasks were defined as follows: “Military units of the Western European Union member states, acting under the authority of the Western European Union, could be employed for humanitarian and rescue tasks, peace-keeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management including peace making”.

It is clear from the declaration that participation in the Petersberg Tasks involves placing Irish armed forces under the authority of the Western European Union. It also presupposes that participation in the Petersberg Tasks is a matter for the military units of Western European Union member [1295] states. The reality is we are neither members of the Western European Union nor is it acceptable that we place our armed forces under the authority of such a military alliance.

Fianna Fáil believes it is not appropriate for Ireland to join this ill-named Partnership for Peace. The rationale behind it is to forge security links with the countries of the former eastern bloc and the former Soviet Union. Malcolm Rifkind, the then British Defence Secretary, now Foreign Secretary, described the Partnership for Peace as the basis for the beginning of a structured security relationship with Russia. It would not be logical for Ireland to participate in such an arrangement. That three other neutral countries — Sweden, Austria and Finland — have joined the Partnership for Peace is not relevant to Ireland. All three countries have different geo-political considerations to us and are much closer to instability in the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. It would be a tragic mistake to associate ourselves with the Western European Union or the Partnership for Peace and I believe the nature of the latter is being whitewashed. The rationale behind it is to forge a link between the countries of the former Soviet bloc and the west, not to act as a benevolent peace-keeping force. The partnership is a wolf in sheep's clothing, an entity designed by NATO as a means to its end of consolidating and expanding its role as a military alliance.

The Tánaiste unfortunately, is tinkering with Irish neutrality, for which our people have a deep feeling. This side of the House believes there is a positive value to our military neutrality but one of the tragedies of our three-party Government is that, with its different ideologies, it is unable to give a clear statement on the subject. It has avoided making a definitive policy statement on the issue, but left no one under any illusions as to where it wants to go. An illustration of its inability to make a clear statement is in paragraph 34 of the [1296]“Agenda for Irish Foreign Policy” in the White Paper. This is supposed to be a clear policy position but some would be uncharitable and call it a fudge or worse. It is a classic illustration of a lack of decision making:

The Government have decided to discuss with the Western European Union the possibility of Ireland's taking part, on a case-by-case basis...[in] the “Petersberg tasks”

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring Zoom on Dick Spring Should there not be any discussion?

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke No clear statement is made but the thrust of the document is that the Irish people will be asked to join the Partnership for Peace, which is simply second-class membership of NATO, and to sign up for the Western European Union's “Petersberg tasks”, which are also unacceptable. We do not reject them because they entail humanitarian aid and peace-keeping work, in which we should be involved, but because we are not prepared to do that work as a full member of the Western European Union. The White Paper is a bland fudge. It was drawn up by a committee with no specific political input other than the fear of making decisions, as can be seen from the paragraph I quoted.

The Tánaiste will do the nation's business in the Intergovernmental Conference and deserves the support of the House. I also wish him well for the EU Presidency. I ask him to fight on behalf of the Irish people and not to fall victim to the “me to” syndrome. Just because Austria, Sweden and Finland have joined the partnership, the Irish need not also join if there is no logical reason. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being different. If the Tánaiste stands up for the people of Ireland. I will wish him well.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley I regret that because of the size of this area and the length of the White Paper it is not possible to deal with all the topics in it. It is better to [1297] deal with a few matters at some length while, unfortunately, ignoring others. I will not be able to deal with Economic and Monetary Union, which is perhaps the most important issue, nor with the institutional changes proposed. I will confine my remarks primarily to security and defence policy and to some of the economic consequences of enlargement, both of which are of vital interest to this country but no more so than some topics I cannot cover.

The White Paper on Foreign Policy has been welcomed in many quarters and we should at least welcome the fact that it has finally appeared, some nine months after the initial proposed publication date. It was originally expected we would have it in ample time to consider and debate the issues involved before the start of the Intergovernmental Conference; however, the White Paper has been published only three days and is being debated here only one day before the start of the Intergovernmental Conference in Turin. The paper is extraordinarily and unnecessarily long. It is full of waffle and padding which has nothing to do with foreign policy but was put in because it sounds nice, is quite harmless and will cause offence to no one. I could not help contrasting it with the document on the Intergovernmental Conference issued by the Institute of European Affairs towards the end of last year, which confronts the issues and has a point of view to express.

Much of the comment and interest has centred on the sections of the White Paper dealing with defence and security but what strikes one when looking through it is how coy the presentation is. The titles of the two most pertinent chapters are “The European Union and the New Europe” and “International Security”. There is nothing there to upset anybody concerned about military alliances. Contrast that with the report of the reflections group for the Institute of European Affairs chaired by Professor Dooge, who was heavily involved in the preparations for the Single European Act. The relevant chapter titles in [1298] that report are “A Common Foreign and Security Policy” and “A Common Defence Policy”.

Chapter three of the White Paper leads us gently through some of the aspects of our membership of the EU. We are reminded that one of the fundamental reasons for Ireland joining was that:

... it was felt that membership would enable us to participate fully with other democratic and like-minded countries in the movement towards European unity based on ideals and objectives to which Ireland as a nation could readily subscribe.

Having summarised some of the benefits and other effects of membership, we are informed in paragraph 3.13 that “in the next century Ireland will develop a deeper and more complex relationship with Europe. We are then informed that in the coming months, during the Irish Presidency of the EU, among the items which will be the main focus is the implementation of a common foreign and security policy. Paragraph 3.21 informs us that the EU faces five major challenges as it moves towards the 21st century, which is only four years away. We are informed that the EU must “equip itself to play a role commensurate with its responsibilities on the European continent and in the wider family of nations in pursuit of its essential interests and in the furtherance of its most fundamental values.”. Later paragraphs elaborate on what is entailed by this challenge. They include a reminder that the Maastricht Treaty provisions on the common foreign and security policy set an agenda for determining specific objectives in this area.

With this prelude, we are introduced to the issue of international security in chapter 4. Following a brief resumé of our traditional stance on these issues, we are immediately introduced to a discussion of neutrality which hastens to reassure us in paragraph 4.9 that no change will take place on that aspect [1299] without a referendum. As if that assurance were not sufficient, we are again reminded of this commitment in the closing paragraph. In addition we are informed in paragraph 4.10 that: “The Government will not be proposing that Ireland should seek membership of NATO or the Western European Union, or the assumption of their mutual defence guarantees.”

Only after these assurances does the chapter move on to discuss some aspects of the security issue but, again, it is approached in a delicate manner.

There are paragraphs on the security environment for Ireland, and on UN and regional arrangements before any of the existing European formats are mentioned. The first issue to be touched on is the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe — OSCE — which emerged from the Helsinki Conference in 1973. There is nothing too disturbing in this. It is followed by reference to NATO which leads to a discussion of the Partnership for Peace — PFP — which was initiated by NATO in 1994 following the end of the Cold War, and membership is open to all member states of the OSCE. Indeed it includes neutral countries such as Austria, Finland and Sweden, so that Ireland is in the company of Switzerland, which does not join any international bodies, and Cyprus, as the European non-members. Even Albania, which, until recently, was the most isolated country in the world is a member of the PFP. We are informed in paragraph 4.44 that the “PFP is a feasible concept in that each participating state determines the areas of interest, and the level and extent of involvement in PFP activities”, that its purposes include the protection and promotion of human rights, the safeguarding of freedom, justice and peace, the preservation of democracy and upholding international law.

After this, a decision to join might have been expected, but even that is too adventurous. Instead we are informed that “the Government has decided to explore further the benefits that Ireland [1300] might derive from participation.” Following this show of decisiveness the question of the European Union is introduced. We are again reminded in paragraph 4.54 of what Ireland joined in the 1970s —“the European Community has always been more than an economic grouping”— and that the 1972 White Paper made clear that our “membership of the EEC was made in full awareness of the political ideals and aims of the Treaty which inspired the founding members of the Community”. I will return to this point later. We are again informed that the Maastricht Treaty provisions for a common foreign and security policy — CFSP — include “all questions related to the security of the Union, including the eventual framing of a common defence policy which might in time lead to a common defence.”. In paragraph 4.68 we are informed that: “In the Maastricht Treaty the members of the European Union agreed that the Western European Union was an integral part of the development of the European Union.”

Later paragraphs refer to the “Petersberg Tasks of peace-keeping and humanitarian and rescue activities”. There then follow nine paragraphs which set out how Ireland might manage to participate in some of these Western European Union related activities without committing itself to membership —“the Government has decided to discuss with the Western European Union the possibility of Ireland taking part, on a case by case basis in humanitarian, rescue and peace-keeping tasks under the Petersberg Declaration.”.

Finally, after this extended preamble, the White Paper manages to mention the dreaded “D” word — defence — and the likely topics for the Intergovernmental Conference. However, having informed us that a discussion on security and defence would raise fundamental questions for Ireland, and having indicated some of the options before us, the concluding paragraphs inform us that “it would be difficult and possibly counterproductive, to [1301] predetermine negotiating positions at this stage.”.

How extraordinary that this should be termed a “White Paper”, which traditionally contains decisions and statements of Government policy. In place of that we have a long-winded discourse on the issues facing this country which manages to bend over backwards to avoid making decisions, other than the purely negative ones of saying that there will be no change in the status quo. This is conservatism gone mad and is a far cry from the early days of discussion on European membership.

I recall Seán Lemass stating that “A Europe worth joining is a Europe worth defending.”. Let me recall some of the context in which those previous discussions happened and decisions were taken. Earlier I mentioned the White Paper's reference to the 1972 White Paper and our then awareness of the Community's political ideals and aims. Let me recall the earlier context. The original proposals in the 1950s were for the establishment of a European economic, political and defence community among the members. The draft treaties were approved by five of the six founder States. They failed in the French Parliament in 1954 because the prospect of a European army with soldiers from all six, serving side by side, was probably too ambitious so soon after the ending of World War II. It was then that the six embarked on the more gradual programme for an eventual “union of the European peoples”, beginning with the economic communities. However, it would be misleading for anybody who was involved in European policy issues during those decades to suggest that these other political and defence issues were not also part of the long-term agenda.

Given the developments in the 23 years since we embarked on membership, the White Paper statement on our neutrality position is hopelessly inadequate. It tells us, for example, that “Neutrality represents an attitude of impartiality adopted by a state towards the participants in a conflict.”. If there [1302] were to be some attack by an external aggressor on the European Union, is it credible that we could be impartial? Could we really be indifferent to the plight of our fellow members? Thankfully, with the ending of the Cold War, such a prospect of conflict may be remote, but it does not remove the basic issue involved.

It is all very nice and cosy to keep picking and choosing the bits and pieces of security issues which command universal support. We favour humanitarian rescue and supporting peace-keeping efforts as much as we favour motherhood and apple pie. However, what is the best way to try to secure and maintain peace? Is it by declaring that one wishes to be neutral? During World War II, many states were given no choice about their neutrality. More recently during the Gulf War, the views of Kuwait carried little weight with Iraq. Why did the founding fathers believe that the best way to make a future war impossible in Europe was to merge their security concerns into a common defence policy? Why did they not opt for a policy of neutrality for each member with the collapse of the Cold War? Did that happen because the western powers embarked on a policy of unilateral disarmament and appeasement or because the West demonstrated that it would maintain the necessary united resolve to oppose any external aggression? I make these points because the issues raised by defence and security in Europe deserve a far more substantial treatment than the facile and cowardly approach in this White Paper. There is no attempt to provide leadership in forming public opinion. Instead, there is a search for the easy way out by always focusing on the “feel good” aspects of security issues. The White Paper seeks the line of least resistance. Unfortunately, history shows that attempts to avoid the difficult and unpleasant issues usually end in disaster. The future of Europe deserves serious and responsible consideration of the issues posed by security and defence. This White Paper fails to provide that [1303] and fails to give the positive leadership the people are entitled to expect from their Government.

The consequences for Ireland of enlargement of the European Union have been afforded little discussion. Yet, significant enlargement of the Union is now imminent and the impact of that expansion on the Irish economy could be as significant as anything that has happened since we first joined the European Community in 1973. Several countries aspire to membership of the EU. Among these are Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania, while Turkey, essentially an Asian country, also harbours an ambition to join the Union some day.

Within ten years the Union could be expanded to include 25 or more states. Five countries, however, are unmistakably of interest to us in their applications for EU membership. These five are: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. All are former Iron Curtain countries engaged in a rapid transition to democratic free market societies. Four of these are on target to become members at the end of the decade or, at most, perhaps two to three years afterwards. Slovakia, on the other hand, is finding the transition to democracy somewhat more difficult. As long as the present authoritarian and unconventional regime of Prime Minister Meciar remains in power, Slovakia may have problems satisfying Brussels and the existing members of the Union of its democratic bona fides.

The last round of enlargement caused hardly a ripple of discussion in the Irish political system. This was due in no small measure to the fact that the new entrants Austria, Finland and Sweden were among the richest and most successful countries in Europe. None of these states would make significant calls on the EU's regional budget. Equally their agricultural systems, although admittedly highly subsidised, were well developed and were small relevant to the Union as a whole and capable of being fairly easily accommodated within [1304] the existing Common Agricultural Policy. Things will be very different the next time round.

The five new aspirant members are very poor countries by European standards. Half a century of economic mismanagement under the Communist system has frustrated their development potential so that they are now decades behind the rest of the continent in terms of economic advancement. All are much poorer than Ireland. While GDP per head here is about $17,000 the comparable figure for the Czech Republic, the wealthiest and most dynamic of the former Communist economies, at about $8,000 is less than half of ours.

The Czechs, in turn, are well ahead of other central European states. GDP per head in Poland, for example, is only about a third of the Irish level. The implications for Ireland are clear. At present we are the poorest member of the European Union apart from Portugal and Greece. If enlargement goes ahead there will be seven member states poorer than us. In this changed situation we are likely to be far less entitled to special treatments as regards Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds. For the past ten years Ireland has been effectively the largest recipient of development aid in the world on a per capita basis. During that period we have received huge financial assistance from Brussels to enable us to develop our economic infrastructure. Now it will be someone else's turn to benefit from EU generosity.

Flows of Structural and Cohesion Funds to this country are unlikely to dry up altogether. However, they will fall considerably from their present level. Major questions will arise as to the way in which we have chosen to deploy these funds. By this stage, thanks to European funding, we should have one of the finest transport infrastructures anywhere in the world, but clearly, we have not. Our national primary road network is still essentially the same as it was 20 years ago, although a number of bottlenecks have been eliminated through the [1305] construction of new bypasses. Nevertheless, it is still not possible to make a journey between any of the main urban centres on what would be considered proper national routes by European standards. Even when present works in progress are completed, the road between Dublin and Cork — the two main population centres in the State — will still pass through no fewer than 15 towns and villages and dozens of sets of traffic lights. The roads programme seems to have slowed down in the past 12 months and despite the abundant availability of funds from the European Union, spending on national roads in 1995 was lower than in 1993. Much of the available funding has not been wisely used. Although we were given an opportunity to transform our national infrastructure, we chose instead to channel these resources into supporting current spending programmes, many of them of dubious value.

We could face a very difficult situation at the end of this decade. If European funding falls off sharply, how are these expenditure programmes to be financed? Will we cut these programmes abruptly, causing huge economic disruption, or will we push personal taxation rates to unsustainable levels to pay for them? A White Paper on this issue from the Minister for Finance might be just as valuable as the document on foreign policy we are debating today.

The Germans have long been the paymasters of Europe. In net terms they contribute the bulk of the European Union's budget. This is not an exercise in economic altruism but rather an investment in European cohesion, of which the huge German economy is ultimately the main beneficiary.

Agriculture is the single biggest item in the EU budget. It is estimated that extending the Common Agricultural Policy, as it stands, to the five central European aspirant members would cost about £10 billion per year. The Germans are already investing enormous sums in modernisation of the former East Germany. This is taking a toll on [1306] their economy which is now running out of steam. They want to see enlargement of the Union, but will they be prepared to pump £10 billion per year in agricultural subsidies into central Europe? Enlargement is likely to trigger a major reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. All the trends internationally are towards free trade, an eventuality for which countries such as Australia and New Zealand have already prepared themselves well.

Rather than a costly extension of the existing CAP eastwards, the Germans may argue for a complete overhaul of the system and a major move in the direction of a free market in food products. We would not have a completely free market but some of the more costly market management systems currently in place would be very vulnerable. The implications for Ireland are clear. We receive about £1.4 billion per year in agricultural supports of one kind or another from Brussels. Some 40 per cent of the value of gross agricultural output in 1995 consisted of direct payments to farmers which were funded by Brussels.

In the case of the beef export sector, more than 50 per cent of all cattle disposals, both live and carcase, went to what are called third country markets. This is essentially an artificial trade with Middle Eastern and North African countries which is heavily dependent on export refunds; without this subsidy the whole trade would be unsustainable. Our whole agricultural system is still very dependent on EU handouts. If we do not make rapid progress towards a more market-oriented approach, our food industry could face huge problems if there was a sharp reduction in subsidies at the end of the decade. We should start preparing for such an eventuality now. Indeed, in the case of the beef industry, the present difficulties experienced by the beef sector in Britain present a tremendous opportunity to Irish exporters to build high-quality commercial markets in Europe.

There is a huge gap in Ireland between two vital national statistics —[1307] gross national product and gross domestic product. Last year, the difference between them amounted to £5 billion, an enormous figure for an economy of this size. The GNP/GDP gap in Ireland, for example, is four times wider than it is in New Zealand, an economy of similar size to ours.

The reason for the differential is the transfer-pricing policies operated by many of the transnational corporations with subsidiaries in this country; this activity is designed to concentrate profits in Ireland's low-tax environment and has the effect of artificially boosting stated GDP.

Our inflated GDP figures allow us to indulge in a bit of economic self-delusion, enabling us to claim that our economy is about 15 per cent bigger than it really is. This might be harmless were it not for the fact that the European Union attaches great importance to the GDP statistic as a benchmark for the measurement of international economic performance. The fiscal criteria for membership of European Monetary Union, for instance, are largely based on GDP.

The GDP problem could yet come back to haunt us in the context of EU enlargement. Our entitlement to Structural and Cohesion Funds depends on our poverty relative to the EU average. Because GDP seriously overstates the real wealth of the Irish economy, the net result is that, in the next round of negotiations, we will be in danger of shortchanging ourselves. Quite simply, the authorities in Brussels can point to our own official figures as evidence that we no longer qualify for special assistance. We will hardly be in a position at that stage to argue publicly that our own official figures are inaccurate and an unreliable measure of Irish economic output.

The Minister for Finance should ensure that this situation does not arise. He should clarify the situation with regard to the GNP and GDP statistics so that we are no longer overstating our economic situation. I understand that [1308] the Minister has an expert committee of officials looking into this problem. Perhaps he might give the House some indication as to when this committee might report or if its conclusions will be made public. If all else fails, we might look at the possibility of compiling economic statistics on a regional basis.

Ireland, by any standards, is a very small country. Nevertheless, there are significant disparities between different regions. At the moment there is no accurate information to enable us to quantify these disparities and this is something that might be looked into. In seeking further assistance from the European Union at the end of the decade, our case might be helped if we adopted a regional approach, and if we could show that living standards in certain areas outside Dublin were still well below the European average. Many years ago the ESRI was able to produce output statistics on a county by county basis. With the availability of today's modern technology should it not be possible to do so again?

As I said, Ireland is a small country and it would make sense to the authorities in Brussels to look at the whole island as a single economy. There are obvious political difficulties in pursuing this approach but I wonder how much consideration has been given to the issue. Economic integration need not necessarily impinge on sovereignty. The Luxembourg economy, for instance, is not just linked with that of Belgium, it is almost fused with it, yet nobody questions the sovereignty of Luxembourg as an independent state.

We seem to be making little progress in the creation of a single island economy in Ireland. In fact, in recent years, it seems that our economic policies have been designed to accentuate the differences between North and South. In the area of personal taxation, for example, we have persisted in imposing penal rates of taxation on work, while UK taxation policy is pushing the North in the opposite direction. This means, assuming the peace process holds, that Northern Ireland will, in time, begin to [1309] enjoy a substantial advantage over the Republic in the job-creation stakes.

Enlargement will effectively shift the centre of gravity of the European Union from Brussels to Berlin. If we are to maintain the momentum of the Irish economy in the first decade of the next century then we must prepare for that shift and ensure that we are not disadvantaged by it.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor It is a privilege to participate in this debate. I welcome the publication of the White Paper, entitled Challenges and Opportunities Abroad. This is the first comprehensive document on Irish foreign policy and I smile at the criticism that it is late in its production. If it is a little late because it is comprehensive, all the better. The White Paper looks at all aspects of Irish foreign policy, our relationship with the Third World, Europe and the rest of the developed world. It also examines our neutrality.

This is the first time these issues have been examined comprehensively. Governments in the past, particularly Fianna Fáil led Governments — I always felt there was a certain amount of xenophobia in the way Fianna Fáil looked at the world outside — did not examine in any depth the way we conducted our foreign policy. We often did not have a coherent foreign policy. I do not want to talk about neutrality but I am amused when it is mentioned. I always make the point that Irish neutrality was off the agenda for a long time and it is only brought back occasionally, when it suits political expediency.

We were a neutral country, we were told, during the time when neutrality in the world was a major political force. Sometimes it is difficult to know the difference between non-alignment and neutrality but in the 1960s — I am old enough to remember this — there was a whole bloc of neutral/non-aligned countries. There were many international conflicts at that time in which the great powers always got involved. There was the meddling of the Eastern bloc, as we called it, and equally the meddling of [1310] the United States and their allies in the conflicts in newly emerging countries, in Africa and Asia especially.

We remember the Congo, the descent from democracy in Nigeria, the descent into dictatorship in Ghana and so on. Positions were taken up on these issues by the neutral countries. The debates about what was happening in these countries and the way they affected other countries in their region or further afield took up much of the time of the United Nations in the 1960s and 1970s. The United States and its allies insisted that these issues went to a vote in the General Assembly. Did Ireland join the neutral/non-aligned movement at the time? No, we always voted with the United States and the western allies; so much for our neutrality.

Neutrality must have been dead for 20 years as a matter of public debate in Ireland until the Falklands war in 1982, when it was reintroduced because of political difficulties in this House. Mr. Haughey's minority Government depended on the late Deputy Blaney and a few others who had a very nationalist agenda. They saw an advantage in a Government with a small majority. Here was a conflict — I am not making any particular judgment on it — between Argentina and the United Kingdom over an island off Argentina, where the United Kingdom should never have been in the first place. The then British Prime Minister was not a good European. However, at that time she decided to use Europe and insisted on the European Community supporting the United Kingdom in its claim that Argentina was carrying out an act of international aggression and that the Falklands were properly part of the United Kingdom. While most European countries supported that position, Italy, because of its links with Argentina, and Ireland did not. It was not because of our links with Argentina that we suddenly unshelved neutrality. We adopted that position because Mr. Haughey's Government was a hostage to certain republican elements in this Parliament. It was decided the Falklands was a good [1311] issue on which to embarrass the British and we declared our neutrality. If Fianna Fáil had enjoyed an overall majority in the House it would have supported the common policy, whether it was right or wrong, demanded by Margaret Thatcher. She got the support of her European partners probably in order that she would be less troublesome in the councils of the European Community.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke Did the Deputy approve of the sinking of the Belgrano?

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I did not approve of it. The Deputy's party in Government would have had no difficulty in approving the sinking of the Belgrano if it had a majority in the House. It would have done everything possible to supress a debate on it.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke The Deputy should speak for his party.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I am merely citing this as an example of the political hypocrisy that has always attended a debate on neutrality. Let us examine our record in the United Nations on international issues. In those years we did not express a neutral position on any issue that involved international conflict.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke What about China?

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor When the Cold War was at its worst and when many internal conflicts got entangled with the superpowers we did not adopt a neutral position.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke What about China's membership of the UN?

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I am fed up with the nonsense and bleating on this issue. I welcome the Government's policy of increasing our overseas development assistance to Third World countries. Since 1992 Irish overseas aid has [1312] increased from £40 million to £103 million or £104 million this year. We should be proud of this in an era when almost every developed country, including the United States, is cutting back on their overseas development assistance. Jesse Helms and others responsible for foreign affairs matters in the United States Congress have done everything possible to cut back on their overseas development assistance. ODA is always expressed as a percentage of a country's gross domestic product. Therefore, the United States provides the largest amount of ODA to the Third World and developing countries, but it and the United Kingdom have cut back significantly on such assistance. Mr. Helms, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, talked about throwing money down a Third World rat hole. That is his perception of foreign aid.

To our credit, in the past few years we have more than doubled our ODA contribution. I do not want to hear criticism from the Opposition benches about us not reaching the UN target because in each year from 1987 to 1992, when Fianna Fáil was in Government on its own or with the Progressive Democrats there were significant cutbacks in our overseas development assistance. In those years our contribution in GDP terms to the poor of the Third World was almost halved. That is the record of those who may wish to criticise us today on this matter.

I am disappointed the White Paper has not set a target for reaching the UN recommended figure of 0.7 per cent of GDP for overseas development assistance. Only two or three countries in Europe have reached that figure. We have moved from the second lowest in the league of OECD countries in terms of ODA contributions to having almost reached the European Union average of approximately 0.4 per cent of GDP.

In the Third World, at which our ODA is targeted, the picture is rather grim. It is difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel, although democracy is spreading in Africa. In recent years [1313] Zambia has moved towards a more meaningful system of democracy, major conflict has ended in Mozambique, there have been significant changes in South Africa, although that is not a Third World country, and there have been major problems in Rwanda and Burundi. For many years the west has lectured African countries about their dictatorships, tribalism and their failure to live up to western standards in terms of democracy and accountability for public moneys. There have been 17 years of civil war in Mozambique during which the institutions which we take for granted in areas such as health and education have been destroyed. Approximately two years ago, through international efforts, the parties to the conflict were brought together and a ceasefire and an election process were agreed. It was agreed that the winners of the election would form the government. However, I am one of those who believes that the winner should not take all in countries where democracy is established after serious conflict. It is to the great credit of South Africa that its interim Constitution provided that the first government would be one of national unity and, effectively, a power sharing one.

One of the South African parliamentary representatives who recently attended the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs said he looked forward very much to the introduction of majoritarianism after the next general election. Even though it is more advanced than most other African countries in economic terms I cautioned him that South Africa would not be ready for a majority government after five years. It takes ten years or longer in countries where there has been serious conflict to achieve such normality that people will accept a majority democratic government. One cannot criticise certain social structures in African countries or say that their structures are inferior to ours. However, democracy is very much a western concept and it cannot be easily transplanted in countries which have different cultures and practices.

[1314] In this context I would refer to the position in Mozambique which played by the rules and set up a fully fledged democratic government following elections. I hope that the guerrillas, the Renamo, are now the loyal opposition in that country. It is not possible for Mozambique to put in place from its own resources the necessary infrastructure by which it can be governed and it is a tragedy that only half the international assistance promised to it on the establishment of democracy has been delivered. This does not reflect well on the international community. The Bretton Woods institutions, the IMF and the World Bank are the only lenders of money for investment and they still continue to apply their conventional borrowing rules. Even worse, they often insist on what are known as structural adjustment programmes which were proven to be disastrous in Tanzania and Zambia.

Under these programmes the lender insists that certain economic policies are pursued to ensure that the loan is safe. However, they are totally inappropriate to the economic conditions in these countries. The Minister for Finance attends the annual or bi-annual meetings of the World Bank and even though we are not a major contributor and our voice may be diminished we must be a voice for the world's poor at this very important forum and insist that loans are given to countries which do not have the wherewithal or ability to repay them at the same rate as a developed economy on the basis of developing basic needs.

I welcome this comprehensive document which gives us an opportunity to discuss our foreign policy. We do not have a colonial past and are not involved in conflict with other countries. I know from my travels that Ireland is a popular country and that it is a bonus to be Irish. We must develop our foreign policy to the maximum benefit of the country.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I am glad Deputy Connor is maintaining his interest in this [1315] issue. Our NGOs do much work in other countries and I assure him that Ireland is listened to at meetings of the World Bank; even though we may be small in terms of numbers we carry significant weight.

The White Paper on Foreign Policy is an important document which should give rise to serious debate in certain areas. I compliment the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and his personal and departmental staff on the publication of this substantial document. As Deputy Burke stated on numerous occasions, the White Paper should have been published much earlier so as to allow ample time for public debate well in advance of the Intergovernmental Conference in Turin tomorrow. If it was held back for negotiating reasons this was not valid as we have had a broad idea of the opening positions of most partner countries for some considerable time. If it was held back to the last possible moment for domestic political reasons or fear of controversy about neutrality then it is not consistent with the requirements of openness, transparency and accountability. Diplomats, by the very nature of their profession, have little enthusiasm for such matters and would much prefer if foreign policy was above and beyond domestic debate. That criticism apart, we are well served by the energetic, dedicated and, by and large, professional foreign service which is respected by Members of the House.

The White Paper should not be seen as a product of the reflection of the policies of the Government. To a large extent, it reflects the main strands of Irish foreign policy since we entered the European Community in 1973. There is considerable overlap between the White Paper and Fianna Fáil's paper on foreign policy published by Deputy Ray Burke last autumn which was clearly taken into account in drafting. I am glad that those who drafted the document used Deputy Burke's work in some areas but, unfortunately, they had a blank on some important ones.

[1316] I am glad the bedrock of the White Paper remains Article 29 of the Constitution in which Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation among nations founded on international justice and morality, the pacific settlement of international disputes and the acceptance of international law. I am also glad that the ideals set out in the Constitution and the fine examples set by Eamon de Valera and Frank Aiken in their foreign policy remain relevant today. I will go through the White Paper in the order in which it is presented.

Some commentators have suggested that the White Paper is a featherless tome. I am not sure about this as it acknowledges that we continue to live in a world of nation states which are likely to remain the essential bloc of the international order for some time to come. I am not happy with the statement that, “The identification of specific territory with a particular nation does not necessarily lead to peace and stability” as it is an insidious attempt to undermine Article 2 of the Constitution to which Northern Nationalists and this party remain strongly attached.

I agree with the sentiment that neutrality has come to be regarded as a touchstone in terms of our approach to international relations even though much of our policy is not strictly dependent on it. The brief history of it given in the White Paper is seriously incomplete. Statements indicating willingness to participate in common defence of a fully-fledged political union are often cited, but rarely the equally important statements about reluctance to join existing alliances. The reaffirmation of Ireland's neutrality during the Falkland's war, the strong sentiments of neutrality vis-á-vis the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and oppressive US policies towards Latin America during the Regan era are not mentioned. The White Paper does not mention the important statement of military neutrality attached to Ireland's ratification of the Single European Act in 1987. I find it quite an extraordinary omission [1317] that the White Paper does not refer to Article J4 of the Maastricht Treaty originally negotiated by Mr. Haughey as Taoiseach in Rome in the summer of 1990 which gives treaty protection to Ireland's neutrality. It states that the policy of the Union in accordance with this Article should not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states. This means there is no obligation on us to join existing alliances, to enter old treaty commitments that essentially belong to the Cold War era, and this is without prejudice to our willingness to consider taking on specific obligations that the European Union, in its own capacity, may decide to adopt. That is our preferred approach.

I fully accept that our interest is in an internationally secure and stable environment and the debate should really be about the best way of doing this. Although European Union membership has been of great benefit to us, it has also been of benefit to others, and has costs as well as benefits. We are prone to be somewhat naive about this. All member states, not just Ireland, are beneficiaries of membership. Germany is a huge beneficiary of EU membership despite being a large net contributor. Something we must not forget is that employment and much of our indigenous industry was wiped out during the first ten years of European Union membership. We opened up our markets and had to allow other countries more generous access to our fish stocks than we have ourselves. These are items on both sides of the balance sheet. If we are to be realistic, we should not labour under the idea that we have some special debt or obligation to our partners or that we have been the beneficiary of positive discrimination. We have not. As the person who negotiated the two rounds of Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds for this country over the past ten years, I did not once feel the necessity to bend the knee to anybody. We got what we were due, what was our right, perhaps not all we were due, but that is for discussion on another day. It is not for [1318] Irish politicians to apologise. The increase in Structural and Cohesion Funds were the quid pro quo for the intensification of the Single Market and progress to Economic and Monetary Union and were necessary for the cohesion of the European Union. They were not a special sign of favour towards Ireland by its partners which we will have to repay by other means.

The passage on the Common Agricultural Policy is rather perfunctory. I am surprised that there is not much more emphasis on farmers as guardians of the countryside or any serious reflection on the need to maintain the highest consumer quality and standards.

The passage on the common fisheries policy to the effect that it will be difficult to negotiate increased quota shares for Ireland is positively defeatist. I have no doubt but that the people in Green-castle who are trying to build up their whitefish campaign for the future did not read the whole 360 pages Deputy Burke will read in that regard. They will not find much positive in this document.

I note the White Paper states that the Government fully supports moves within the European Union towards the introduction of greater transparency and openness in the institutions and business of the Union. I was, therefore, surprised to see in the Financial Times on Tuesday an article stating that Sweden is to step up its campaign for greater openness within the European Union and to have the right of public access to official documents worked into revised articles of the Maastricht Treaty. The Swedish Justice Minister mentioned support from Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands but did not refer to Ireland. She said: “If we do not get support, I do not know how all these countries that have declared themselves in favour of openness will explain themselves”. Is Ireland fully behind the Swedish initiative? The White Paper is much too vague.

I agree with the approach to enlargement which has been the policy of successive Governments since 1990 at least. The White Paper states that the [1319] Government will not accept an enlargement process which alters the essential character of the Union to that of an expanded free trade area, and that the Government wants existing policies of the Union protected, including continued cohesion and is opposed to the creation of an exclusive hard core. The policy on Economic and Monetary Union is the one followed by me when I was Minister for Finance. The GDP per capita measure is 89 per cent of European Union averages in 1996, and the more accurate measure, as the Taoiseach informed me in reply to a parliamentary question on 14 February is GNDI, gross national disposable income, which was 79 per cent in 1994 as against GDP of 85 per cent.

The section of the document concerning many of the topics of the Intergovernmental Conference is disappointingly thin. It does not spell out the problems of majority voting on the common foreign security policy where there is no exclusive and neutral source of initiative like the Commission.

The paragraph on drugs is positively feeble. The United States actively combats drug production abroad, especially in its sphere of influence in Latin America. The European Union should use its influence with those countries with which it has association or other agreements to stamp out illegal drug production. Morocco is a primary case in point.

France is making employment the centrepiece of its Intergovernmental Conference strategy but there is no evidence in the White Paper that Ireland is doing the same. Why not? There is a timid reference to strengthening EURATOM provisions on nuclear safety. Can we not seek allies in a 15-country Union?

We have also insisted that each existing member state must retain a full commissioner. The bigger countries in Europe have national cabinets of 20 to 30 members — France has closer to 35 or 40. It is pure hypocrisy or self-interest on the part of large countries to suggest [1320] that small countries should give up their right to a commissioner sooner than they should give up one of their two commissioners. Yesterday gave us a vivid illustration of the importance of having our own commissioner at the table. He was obviously in a better position to reduce a heavy beef fine against Ireland than the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Deputy Yates.

Fianna Fáil also attaches importance to the European Council not referred to in the White Paper. I have no quarrel with the section on international security dealing with our commitment to the UN and the OSCE, but the case for concluding a bilateral pact with NATO under the Partnership For Peace has not been made. It is true that a number of countries have joined, including neutral ones, but they are all situated geographically on either side of the former East-West divide or in the former Soviet Union. Switzerland has not joined. The countries in question who have joined are all close to potential zones of instability. Some are in a half-way house and cannot wait to join NATO as full members. Others want a half-way house between membership of NATO and neutrality, giving them an each way bet. Yet others, parts of the former Soviet Union, have no doubt joined for a mixture of economic and security reasons. Irish membership of PFP will be seen in a different light —“Irish may seek to join NATO partnership” was the headline in the Financial Times yesterday.

While the Government may reassure the public that there are no implications for neutrality — and that may be technically true at this time — it will be seen by other countries as a gratuitous signal that Ireland is moving away from its neutrality and towards gradual co-operation in NATO and Western European Union in due course. It is the thin end of the wedge which will be justified for all sorts of practical reasons and to increase our alleged influence, whereas in reality we will have no influence on alliance thinking as junior or second-class partners. We need to cop on to [1321] ourselves if we think we have PFP involves joint exercises with NATO on sea or land. Will they take place in Ireland? Will we be able to choose the NATO countries with whom we wish to have exercises? Will we have British troops back in the Curragh, the French in Bantry Bay, the Germans on Banna Strand, the Spanish in Kinsale and the Americans in Lough Foyle? Is that what we are talking about, or will we take part in exercises abroad under NATO command? NATO does not even have a direct connection with the European Union.

The separate defence identities have served us all well. Ireland's position helps preserve the distinction between EU and NATO, and that is no bad thing. For the European Union to become a military superpower with nuclear weapons would be a retrograde step. It should concentrate on being something new and progressive in international relationships. The White Paper seems to indicate that we should create forces answerable to the Western European Union. At least the so-called Petersberg Tasks related to humanitarian peacekeeping and peaceful enforcement tasks at the request of the UN and-or the OSCE. Unfortunately, while the tasks are worthy in themselves, the approach suggested by the Government would involve Ireland becoming, in effect, a partial member of the Western European Union and placing our resources under Western European Union command.

I would remind the House that the Western European Union is a regional organisation of NATO with a first strike nuclear doctrine. Fianna Fáil's approach is different. It is that the EU should be capable of assuming directly humanitarian peace-keeping tasks and this would be an excellent foundation for a common security policy adapted to modern conditions. I point out to the Government that while Ireland should be willing to negotiate on matters related to defence, we are under no obligation to associate with pre-existing Cold War and nuclear based military [1322] alliances, even for peace-keeping purposes.

Our view is that any decisions involving a closer association with NATO or the Western European Union would represent a substantial change in defence policy, and would have long term if not immediate implications for our policy on neutrality. Any such proposals must be put to the people in a referendum before a decision is taken. The four party leaders solemnly declared on 9 June 1992, prior to the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, that any decision related to defence would be put to the people by way of referendum. This would also be in keeping with the spirit of the Supreme Court judgment of 1987 requiring that Title III of the Single European Act to be put to the people, as Fianna Fáil had argued in Opposition.

We would regard any attempt to push Partnership for Peace or participation in Western European Union tasks by resolution through this House without reference to the people who under our Constitution have the right “in final appeal to decide on all questions of national policy”, as a serious breach of faith and fundamentally undemocratic. My party's direct answer to what the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs said this morning is that this will not and cannot happen. Under our Constitution this is a matter for the people to decide and any sleight of hand in trying to put it through the House would be fundamentally undemocratic.

The Irish people attach great importance to our neutrality and they should have the right to decide whether we enter into a closer association with existing military alliances on the basis of full information on what is proposed. I would like a cast-iron pledge from the Government that it will not make any move without first consulting the people in the interest of openness, transparency and accountability. I would like to dwell longer on this point but time does not permit me. I hope the Government will take note of our position.

[1323] We all realise that this Government is all the colours of the rainbow on the issue of neutrality. The Fine Gael Party to all intents and purposes abandoned neutrality but many will be surprised that the Labour Party and the Democratic Left Party are going along with a serious erosion of that policy for no good reason except the desire to be one of the crowd. Whereas the Tánaiste may claim for domestic consumption that our neutrality is safe, the message being sent out in the officially drafted White Paper, which will be read abroad, is quite different. The Fianna Fáil Party has always been proud of the policy of positive neutrality and I believe the proposals that my party and I made last year are far more in keeping with a logical development for our traditions than the proposals in the White Paper. We should be building up the European Union and not the Western European Union.

Ireland strongly supports the United Nations and I agree with the proposals in the chapter on its role in mediation, the enlargement of the Security Council, and the restriction of the use of the veto. I welcome the proposal to establish an interdepartmental liaison group and to publish an annual report on UN issues so as to make better and more accountable use of our UN membership. I urge that the report be published soon after the end of the year to which it relates and well before the next General Assembly so as to allow proper debate.

We always have been strongly in favour of a ban on nuclear testing and progress towards complete nuclear disarmament, a position articulated at the United Nations by successive Fianna Fáil Taoisigh and Foreign Ministers.

I note the Government is supporting the ban on the production of plutonium for military purposes and it should also be seeking a ban on its production for civilian purposes because of the proliferation problem as well as the fact that it is uneconomic. This would result in the closure of Sellafield.

I agree on the need to scale down [1324] arms industries and exports. In general the chapter on disarmament and arms control is strong and we should pursue our policy at the United Nations without being held back by parties with a different view.

The White Paper records that since 1958 more than 42,000 members of the Defence Forces and the Garda Síochána served on peacekeeping missions with 75 being killed on UN service and some 750 personnel currently on 11 UN missions. We should be equally keen to participate in future OSCE missions. I do not see the necessity for us to become directly involved in Western European Union missions which, inevitably, are of a less neutral character.

The chapter on human rights is laudable but the White Paper contains no commitment to incorporate the European Human Rights Convention into domestic law, as accepted by the parties in the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. There is value in the idea of establishing an international criminal court and I welcome the establishment of a human rights unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The former Taoiseach, Deputy Albert Reynolds, in 1992 signalled a change to a more progressive policy in development aid incorporated in the Programme for a Partnership Government which has resulted in a virtual doubling of aid. Deputy Tom Kitt, as the then Minister of State with responsibility in that area, played a major role under the Tánaiste in developing that policy. The White Paper is a further development with a more detailed definition of aims, and the chapter on this topic is good. The proposed rapid response register is a good idea and there is a broad spread of developing countries with whom we work.

I support the extension of the diplomatic service in recent times to countries that are potentially economically important to us in South-East Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. The “Ireland House” concept was initiated by Fianna Fáil back in 1987 with two in operation, in New York and Tokyo.

[1325] The cultural relations committee has a limited budget to subsidise non-commercial cultural activity but it does very useful work. Its role, budget and relationship with other countries should be reviewed in depth and I want to give my clear support to it.

The picture of our foreign policy is incomplete because Northern Ireland and relations with Britain and America are virtually excluded. This is a pity. It means that the White Paper covers only half the picture. We integrated Northern Ireland and related matters into our paper and Deputy Raphael Burke articulated the reasons for doing that. The Government should have done the same without allowing the Northern Ireland element to dominate. With our forthcoming role of Presidency of the European Union — we wish it well — and the peace process requiring full-time attention, the question will have to be faced as to whether we need separate Ministers of Cabinet rank to manage the Presidency and the peace process at least for the duration of the Presidency. I raised this issue many weeks ago and perhaps we might get an answer to it shortly.

Apart from a large colour picture of the Tánaiste, which looks very nice, and his foreword, there is no reference to any of the Taoisigh or Ministers who played a part in shaping our foreign policy. I regret the impersonal bureaucratic style of that. The White Paper will be an important point of reference for Irish foreign policy but I hope it will be subject to keen debate. I am glad that at last we have it on the table.

Mr. Gallagher: Information on Pat Gallagher Zoom on Pat Gallagher (Laoighis-Offaly): I welcome the opportunity to speak in this historic debate on the first White Paper on foreign policy produced here. Successive Governments have taken excellent initiatives on foreign policy [1326] but this is the first time that such a comprehensive overview of our foreign policy has been put before this House and the people for consideration.

There was criticism of the time it has taken to produce this report. I do not join in that criticism for a number of reasons: first, this is not just a document that was taken out of a hat by a Minister or Government Department. A most extensive round of public consultation was undertaken in the preparation of the Green Paper — I can think of only one other example, the Minister for Education's consultations on the Education White Paper. I attended a number of the public meetings and the fact that they were held in different locations around the country gave people who were interested in aspects of our foreign policy an opportunity to contribute to the debate. I also participated in two meetings on the Forum on Development Aid referred to in this document. As a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs — I was Chairman of the subcommittee on Development Co-operation — I know that both bodies played a very important role in debating issues and making submissions to Government. The various strands of opinion are well represented and the White Paper is a good synthesis of where the Irish people stand on foreign policy and where this Government in particular, stand on particular issues. I welcome the clear and unambiguous statement on our neutrality but Deputy Burke's position is unclear judging by his contributions to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs last year and in his comments on the White Paper today. To cover that up he is claiming the Government is unclear.

In the White Paper the Government clearly states that neutrality will not be changed against the will of the people. That is a clear and unambiguous guarantee. In this document neutrality is not a statement that we will not take [1327] part in military alliances; it is a fundamental attitude which permeates all other elements of our foreign policy. This has helped us to forge links and understandings with countries in the developing world.

It is recognised in the White Paper that we must have discussion and debate on Ireland's co-operation with other states. If we were to follow the logic of what Deputy Burke said, we would not be in the United Nations or in the OSCE. As members of those organisations we must co-operate to some degree with nuclear powers, such as France, Britain, China and others.

We co-operate with them in humanitarian, peacekeeping and security areas. To say that any link with the Partnership for Peace, the Western European Union or other similar organisation means abandoning our neutrality is a fundamental contradiction in terms.

Deputy Burke is disingenuous in what he has put forward here and in today's edition of The Irish Times. Deputy Burke managed to confuse his party colleagues on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs last year when he made his party's submission on the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. He stated:

We believe that the people of Ireland want to contribute positively to the development of a more cohesive foreign and security policy. Over the past 35 years, since the Congo, our troops have developed immense expertise in peacekeeping at the behest of the UN Security Council. We believe our Defence Forces should be put at the disposal of the European Union under the auspices of the Common Foreign and Security Policy for the purposes of helping in situations of crisis management, where peacekeeping skills and resources would be required. That would be the best contribution that we could make.

As we laboured to put forward the joint committee's submission on this issue to the Department, we included Deputy [1328] Burke's particular concern although many of us had reservations about it. However, other Fianna Fáil members of the joint committee criticised that point, not realising it was Deputy Burke's unique contribution to our attempted joint effort. Having regard to that, I wonder where is the fudge or the lack of clarity. Given that Deputy Burke is the main Opposition spokesperson on foreign policy, his comments on this issue indicate a surprising lack of understanding of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, the Western European Union and the Partnership for Peace.

Nobody on this side of the House is making a blanket assertion that we might put our Defence Forces at the disposal of the European Union. The White Paper provides that in the context of European and world security we can co-operate with other members of the European Union and other states in humanitarian tasks, search and rescue operations and peacekeeping and consider those possibilities for co-operation. However, we are not saying that our troops should be put at the disposal of anybody else, which is what Deputy Burke said in his contribution to the joint committee last year.

I question if Deputy Burke appreciates the terms of the Maastricht Treaty which was negotiated by his party in Government. It states that the Western European Union, as most people understand it, shall be the military arm of the European Union. Many of us disagreed with that but that provision was accepted by the people and we cannot start rowing back on what is included in the Treaty. In his article in The Irish Times Deputy Burke has shown a lack of understanding of the links and distinctions between the European Union and the Western European Union.

Deputy Burke went further than what is provided in the White Paper in his contribution to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in stating that our Defence Forces should be put at the disposal of the European Union to help in situations of crisis management. The [1329] Government has stated clearly in the White Paper that it is not prepared to go that far. It states that combat forces would not be involved in crisis management. We would consider involvement in humanitarian, rescue and peacekeeping operations, but would not consider putting our combat forces at the disposal of the European Union for involvement in crisis management or anything else. Deputy Burke is contradicting his position, assuming he is clear about what that is. He has misunderstood what is involved in the Partnership for Peace and in the Petersberg Tasks. I do not suggest we should join them. Our starting point is that our neutral position militarily informs our foreign policy across a range of issues. Having identified our fundamental values, we should consider a range of ways in which we could co-operate with other countries in securing those objectives. Nothing should be off the table in our considerations, and that is made clear in the White Paper. The Tánaiste stated that in his contribution.

In his contribution Deputy Ahern to some extent took up the suggestion that an honest and open debate should be held before any decision was made. I welcome the clear statement in the White Paper that any changes which the Government may contemplate as a result of such a public discussion would be implemented only after consultation with the relevant Oireachtas committees and following sanction by the Houses of the Oireachtas. There is nothing more democratically accountable than that, and I welcome that clear Government statement in the White Paper.

There are a number of areas in which we might seek co-operation with other countries, irrespective of whether they are members of the Partnership for Peace or another organisation in pursuing some of our objectives. We have much to offer in peacekeeping training and much to learn from other countries. Aspects of environmental protection might involve participation by members of our security or Defence Forces and [1330] we should not be afraid to share our experience in training with others or to learn from them. In the context of the control of drugs, given our exposed coastline, we cannot be involved in effective policing against the drugs menace without some level of co-operation with others. Those issues should be put on the table and discussed rationally. Members should not engage in scare-mongering.

I welcome the clear and unambiguous statement in the White Paper that relations with developing countries form an integral part of our foreign policy. Irish aid is an expression of public support for developing countries. The taxpayer is prepared to contribute to that fund because our people are willing to understand and respond to the needs of developing countries. I am delighted the Government has restated that it will increase the allocation for developmental assistance on an annual basis to reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP. Our contribution this year of £106 million to developmental assistance has increased greatly since our 1992 contribution of £42 million. This year our contribution will be 260 per cent of its 1992 level. Actions speak louder than words in this context. Deputy Burke said that his party agrees on this matter and I acknowledge the work of the former Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, in this area. However, the record of Deputy Burke's party in the previous Government does not support the assertion he made today. I welcome the recommitment of his party's support for the Government's objectives and I am satisfied that the Government will deliver on this issue. This year we have the highest level ever of overseas development assistance in absolute terms and in terms of percentage of GDP. I am sure all Members will support the Government in increasing our allocation to this area on an annual basis, as proposed in the White Paper.

I agree with the objectives for development co-operation set out in the document. The battle about the amount of money has been won and we now, [1331] rightly, focus our attention on questions of objectives and effectiveness. Reduction of poverty must remain the most important element of our overseas development assistance. The development in which we engage must be sustainable. I understand sustainable development in the Third World to mean development local people will be capable of sustaining in financial terms and in terms of human skills, technology and public administration.

Last year a number of members of the Sub-Committee on Development Co-operation had an opportunity to see the work of Irish aid workers in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. On other occasions I had an opportunity to see the work done in South Africa. The reduction of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development are very much part of that work at ground level, as anybody who looks at the projects in developing countries funded through Irish aid will agree.

I welcome a clearer statement of objectives in terms of helping to establish peace. Many of the conflicts that took place since the end of the Cold War have been intra-state conflicts, many of them in the developing world. We have a duty not alone to respond to crises but to give support in terms of education, health, public administration, structures of Government and dialogue between different parties within countries. We have a duty to help in preventing conflict and supporting peace.

I agree with the statement that we will continue to fund emergency and humanitarian relief and will engage in a less photogenic way, in the longer-term process of building a civil society and social solidarity in developing countries. Even though Ireland is a small country, we are in an excellent position to assist the developing world. I pointed out to a visiting deputation from Tanzania on Tuesday last that we are the only member of the European Union that was colonised by another member. Our colonial history, our history of recent [1332] development, our position of military neutrality and the work done by our missionaries and lay people through involvement with NGOs, Irish Aid and international agencies enables us in a unique manner to be a bridge between the developing world and the European Union. I welcome the fact that the Minister of State, Deputy Burton has taken a very proactive role in the Development Council of the European Union. That council should meet often during our Presidency and try to focus European Union policy better in that regard.

Our aid programme has expanded hugely, but in global terms it is still quite small. For that reason I support the prioritisation of countries, mainly in Africa, such as Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan — Mozambique is included this year. That does not exclude countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, Palestine, Zimbabwe or South-East Asia. We must be selective and clear in our objectives, and prioritisation is the way forward. One of the outstanding features of Irish aid is that it is not tied, and that is very much appreciated and recognised by recipient countries.

Another aspect of the White Paper relating to development aid which is very significant is the way it seeks to achieve coherence in development policy and between development policy and other areas of public policy. I will address trade and debt, two aspects of this matter which were considered by the Sub-Committee on Development Co-operation in the past two years. I welcome the fact that there is a specific section in the White Paper on both of those issues.

Through the work of the joint committee we try to encourage greater understanding by Government Departments and at European Union level of the link between trade and aid. Many would argue, correctly, that trade is more important than aid. We need a fairer system of trade for developing countries and to ensure that in the implementation of proposals from [1333] GATT to the World Trade Organisation everything possible is done to improve access by developing countries to markets in the European Union and other developed countries. I am glad the Government is focusing policy in that regard.

In the area of debt, the joint committee produced two reports on Third World debt. I welcome the Government's move in the desired direction in that regard. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Quinn, and his predecessor, Deputy Ahern, used participation in the IMF and the World Bank to further the need to introduce debt cancellation and debt reduction measures for the most severely indebted countries. They did a very good job in trying to reform the policies of the World Bank and the IMF in terms of the structural adjustment programme referred to by Deputy Connor and in trying to get better consultation with the ordinary people in recipient countries about the terms imposed on them. On whether we should contribute to the enhanced structural adjustment facility of the International Monetary Fund our money could be better spent than by contributing to such a programme. Last year money was allocated in the Estimates for that purpose but I am glad the Minister for Finance did not proceed with the necessary legislation. Money has been allocated again this year and the Minister for Finance has assured me that legislation will not be forthcoming this year in that area. I would not, however, like to see that money lost to the aid budget. The Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Finance should reconsider the spending of that money.

Some people believe our money is not best spent on multilateral aid. There are questions about the way large UN agencies have spent money, but we should contribute on the basis of the principles set out in this document, that is on a case by case basis after careful assessment. Where possible we should try to gain membership of the governing executive of the bodies involved, whether the IMF, the World Bank or [1334] the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.

I appreciate the work of NGOs in the formulation of this White Paper. Many of them went to great trouble to make written and oral submissions and attend public consultations. Government recognition of their distinct and complementary role in overseas development is well outlined here. I welcome the fact that they have been given a formal role through the Forum for Development Aid and the Irish Aid Advisory Council. The principles by which the Government will continue to work with NGOs will serve not only the NGOs and the Government but the Irish people in terms of our perception in the developing world.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey The publication of the White Paper on Foreign Policy is a major advance in the operation of Government. There was a time when foreign policy was conducted behind closed doors in a highly secretive fashion for fear of disclosing strategic nation-state interests, and in that world the military review was predominant. Foreign policy was the preserve of diplomats and the general public had no role to play in it. The establishment of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs was a major reform in this regard. It opened up proceedings for all to see. For the first time public consultation and discussion on our international affairs is positively encouraged and facilitated. Paragraph 2.40 of the White Paper states: “[Our) foreign policy is about much more than self-interest... it is a statement of the kind of people we are”. I subscribe fully to that view. Our foreign policy should reflect our historical development as a nation, our traditions, morals and values.

I am critical of the delay in publishing the White Paper. It was promised last year and published only two days ago. The Dáil is discussing this lengthy document which we received only two days ago, yet the Intergovernmental Conference begins tomorrow. That is not [1335] how we should do our business. There must have been disagreements between the parties in Government over some of the central issues in the White Paper. This is evidenced by the fudging in the document on security and defence. The Intergovernmental Conference negotiations begin and we can now initiate a national debate on the central issues.

The Irish School of Ecumenics held a conference recently to discuss the role of morality in foreign policy. Some would argue that morality has no role to play in international affairs. They see the world from a realistic perspective — anarchy prevails in the world of nation states, survival and self-interest rule and conflict and war are inevitable. In such a situation there is no room for ethical behaviour as far as foreign policy is concerned. In common with many in this country I do not share that old fashioned view.

We live in an interdependent world with an interdependent international economy. The world is characterised by multilateral conference diplomacy and intergovernmental organisations. From this point of view, morality can be considered and promoted, and states are obliged to do what is right to promote peace, justice and equality.

We need to define our neutrality. What does it mean? Different interpretations and connotations are part and parcel of Irish neutrality and many different types of neutrality can be practised. The historical evolution of our policy is important. Irish neutrality was part of Irish nationalism. It was tied into arguments about sovereignty and the need to demonstrate our sovereign independence. It was linked to the Northern Ireland question. The late Seán MacBride said that we could not become part of a military alliance as long as the country remained divided. Irish neutrality was seen in the past as being anti-British.

However, our neutrality has evolved. It is now seen as a political value and we consider there is a moral duty to pursue world peace. That was the view of Frank [1336] Aiken when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and promoted his policies in the UN. Irish neutrality is again being redefined in the context of the evolution of the EU. Our neutrality has a hallowed status in Irish political culture and widespread political support. The Irish people are proud of our neutrality whether it is defined in terms of its historical evolution or in the contemporary attempt to pursue world peace and justice. We are proud of our policy and we will adhere to it.

This adherence means the avoidance of military alliances and operations and involves the condemnation of nuclear operations whether in the context of warfare or domestic use. In that context, Irish neutrality is seen as positive, moral and principled. It is related to the principles of peace, justice and human rights. Irish neutrality was originally a characteristic of Irish nationalism, gradually became morally virtuous and has been additionally coloured by moral arguments from groups such as CND, Amnesty International, Trócaire and GOAL.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes This is utter rubbish. A mythology.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey I am being heckled by Deputy Dukes who is the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. The public has a right to know where he stands on the issues involved in the White Paper.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes It knows where I stand but does not know where the Deputy is sitting.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey In an article published in the Irish Independent of 25, 26 and 27 December 1995, Deputy Dukes discussed the common foreign and security policy. He wrote: “The French proposal to move back into a closer relationship with NATO is a positive and constructive step”. Deputy Dukes's party should be honest and state clearly that it favours joining NATO. The Deputy's article from last December gives that [1337] view and if the public knew how unequivocal the Deputy's party is about NATO membership they would be shocked.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes The public read the Irish Independent. The Deputy should read the article as he might find it interesting.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey I read it over Christmas. It made good Christmas reading. The public need to know more. The Deputy is Chairman of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and travels extensively. He meets many delegations and foreign representatives to discuss foreign policy. Presumably he promotes his view, yet it does not reflect the view of the Irish people.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes Stick around.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey We do not consider ourselves superior or inferior to any other State. We have a unique history and tradition in Europe and we have a role to play. We have no colonial past and, therefore, we have a special input to foreign policy. Ireland should take a lead on Third World issues. The President, Mrs. Robinson, demonstrated that by her role in the Rwandan crisis. We could play a crucial role and take a positive lead with regard to the Nigerian crisis.

The Minister of State, Deputy Gay Mitchell, who has responsibility for European affairs, wrote an article in the Irish Independent of 25 March 1996 in which he accused Fianna Fáil of being isolationist and protectionist because of its opposition to NATO. He also said our party was propagandist. The Partnership for Peace has a nuclear capability and is NATO linked as it involves a second-class membership of NATO. The Minister of State, Deputy Mitchell, said our attitude to the Partnership for Peace is Albanian in character. As we initiate a new public debate on foreign policy, are such comments from the Minister of State helpful? To criticise and denigrate the views of 40 per cent of the population and the views of the [1338] Labour Party and Democratic Left in such an outrageous fashion is completely unhelpful. We want a constructive debate and I wonder if the Minister of State is the right person to conduct a national debate on the European Union. His interventions are most unhelpful and I hope he takes note of my comments.

Fianna Fáil subscribes to the policy of peace-making, regardless of whether that is with a European Union mandate. Western European Union involvement in the Petersberg Tasks is also unacceptable, given the nuclear capability of that organisation.

Another Fine Gael member, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, threw in his tuppence ha'penny worth recently regarding Irish neutrality. He went so far as to say it would be immoral not to join NATO. That is really turning the argument on its head. He also mischievously suggested that three former Fianna Fáil Taoisigh were not in favour of Irish neutrality and produced selective quotes to prove his point. That is balderdash. He may have confused his definition of neutrality and that of Seán Lemass, Jack Lynch and Charles Haughey when they made reference to our policy in that regard. Fianna Fáil's policy has been consistent from the time of Éamon de Valera and Frank Aiken up to the present day.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes Consistently ignored.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey Hardly consistently ignored.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes Fianna Fáil has never done what Deputy Haughey's father, Jack Lynch or Seán Lemass said it would do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob Zoom on Joe Jacob Let us proceed without interruption.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey Our party was consistent every time Irish neutrality was put to the test. At the time of the Falklands War, for example, the Fine Gael Party was prepared to endorse British military operations and the slaughtering of innocent people on the Belgrano. It did not [1339] object to that. Those islands in the South Atlantic were of no strategic interest to anybody. Fianna Fáil was not prepared——

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes How many people did the Argentinians kill? Has the Deputy counted them?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey ——to condone a policy of slaughter. An island in the South Atlantic has no strategic interest for Britain. Who cares about it?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes The Deputy's party certainly did not care about it.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey Fine Gael was prepared to deny the people of the Falkland Islands their right to independence and its refusal to condemn the British actions there was disgraceful. We proved our consistency as a party at that time.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes Does the Deputy mean we should have denied the rights of the people of the Falkland Islands to be invaded by Argentina?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob Zoom on Joe Jacob Let us not have this level of interruption. Deputy Haughey is in possession.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes I did not know Eva Peron was a member of the Fianna Fáil Party.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey This debate is clearly demonstrating Fine Gael's view of Irish neutrality. It should proclaim in a more open way that it wants this country to join NATO. It should be contained in its policy documents. Given that Deputy Dukes does not reflect the views of the majority of people in this country, I wonder if he is the right person to chair the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Deputy Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes Deputy Haughey is waving the big stick. That is what happens in democratic debate in Fianna Fáil. Censorship.

[1340]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob Zoom on Joe Jacob The Deputy, without interruption.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey I am sure the issue of neutrality will be tested in any future referendum.

I want to refer to the question of overseas development aid and the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP. The question is often asked whether aid should be given to the UN or to non-governmental organisations. Some people would question giving more money to the UN or the EU for Third World assistance. We need accountability and monitoring to ensure there is no corruption with regard to the distribution of aid.

Ireland can be proud of its non-governmental organisations such as GOAL. As a small nation we can best contribute to Third World aid by giving money to non-governmental organisations because the aid goes directly to the poorest of the poor. The NGOs have direct access to small communities and their programmes are seen to have immediate benefits.

Larger countries should promote a balance between aid to the United Nations and to the NGOs, given that each has a special role to play. This State should not cut back on overseas development aid and if we begin to question the role of the United Nations in this regard we are giving other states an excuse not to contribute. World aid will be privatised and Government aid programmes will be curtailed. The United Nations looks at the wider picture and it has no less than all of humanity on its agenda.

I wish to pay special tribute to President Mary Robinson. Her visit to South Africa highlights the role Ireland played in relation to the Irish anti-apartheid movement and shows how our unique tradition could have a direct influence on events. The City of Dublin granted the freedom of the city to Nelson Mandela while he was still a prisoner in South Africa. We are all proud of the role we played in bringing about democracy and justice in South Africa.

[1341]Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes I congratulate Deputy Haughey on adopting my tactics in Opposition. If he would also adopt my policies he would be doing an excellent job for himself and his party.

The publication of a White Paper on Foreign Policy is an important event in itself but this one is even more important, as it is the first general exposition of a foreign policy approach ever made by an Irish Government. The Government is to be congratulated on this, the Tánaiste especially, for the imaginative steps of holding a series of public seminars on foreign policy issues — the first time this has ever been done — and for the breadth and scope of the document before us. The innovative nature of this publication goes a long way to explaining its excessively protracted publication and the curious process of briefing the media, deliberately or accidentally, some time in advance of bringing the document to the attention of Members of the Oireachtas on the Opposition and Government sides.

In truth, we should not call this a White Paper as it contains few statements of a firm intent to take specific action. From that point of view it is rather more in the nature of a green paper — a consultation document — and the Oireachtas, its committees and the public should treat it that way. It sets out a full description of the underlying principles which have inspired our foreign policy and continue to guide the Government in its approach to the major issues of the day.

That recitation of principles is useful but the real interest for policy makers and the public lies in the application of these principles to the issues which are current in the world. I have not read the document in every particular and in fine detail but I think I cannot be faulted in saying that it comes nearest to the application of principles to concrete situations where it deals with current issues in the EU. However, it avoids a series [1342] of specific statements on the grounds that it is not intended or thought wise at this juncture to prejudge the outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference. The document then goes on to rule out some possible outcomes of the Intergovernmental Conference, even if these are only remote possibilities. For example, it firmly rules out membership of the Western European Union and asserts, correctly, that smaller EU member states must continue to have the right to nominate a member of the Commission. That certainly prejudges a possible outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference in a way approved of by this House and myself.

I regret that the document has been-drafted so carefully, particularly on issues which will come up in the Intergovernmental Conference. Most of the issues are not new; they have been in discussion for a long time in the Reflection Group and in the wider public debate. It would not have done the Government's position any great damage, nor would it have compromised it greatly, to state clearly at this juncture a number of firm approaches to major issues which will come up during discussion in the Intergovernmental Conference. However, as I have shown, even in stating that it does not want to prejudge issues the White Paper is inconsistent, because it prejudges two. I approve of one and the other requires more debate and discussion than it is possible to give, even in a document of this length.

The White Paper goes further in its treatment of the common foreign and security policy and a European defence policy than any Government document up to now, which is welcome. I had hoped, in the light of the refreshingly open decision to make these issues the subject of a public seminar, that we would at last have a Government document which set out to tear down the myths which for so long have obscured our view of the world and stultified real debate. This means the kind of myths we heard from Deputy Haughey — the smug self-delusion which ascribes to a [1343] tactic properly adopted in 1939 all the virtues of a full-fledged policy which has left the world open-mouthed in admiration and rushing to do our bidding on major issues like disarmament and development. I hoped the document would bring us past that but I have been disappointed; it has done some of that work but not enough. While I detect a clear desire on the Government's part to bring the debate closer to reality, the document's treatment of these issues is far too tentative. I congratulate the Tánaiste and the Government for wanting to set out on this path but it appears they have also tried to cajole the myth peddlers — Fianna Fáil in the vanguard, followed by that curious combination of neo-Marxism and Catholic fundamentalism which combine to paint a picture of the world and international relations which depicts no reality which ever existed. We were treated to more of this myth-peddling today in the House and in our newspapers.

This morning, I received a considerable package of documents from an organisation called People Against War (Ireland), with an address in Dún Laoghaire. The key phrases show what general line it takes; it speaks of “imperialist or adventurist endeavours” and “this Goebbelsian technique of demonisation of whomsoever should be occupying a space desired by multinational corporations”. Is that not fantastic? An expert on language is present in the House; she knows how much words can obscure because she has made quite a study of it, not that she ever obscures anything herself. One can see immediately from this language where these people are coming from. Judging by this mountain of documentation, it appears to be from a Serb apologist organisation.

They presume to lecture me, the chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on defence issues and criticise me for having proselytised for increased Irish operational involvement with multinational military [1344] forces. That is the kind of mythology which has damned this country to irrelevance in so many international debates. It is the kind of nonsense to which the main Opposition party subscribes.

Deputy Raphael Burke published an article in The Irish Times this morning which is a revelation and he continued his arguments during this debate. It is curious that Fianna Fáil aligns itself with Marxist groups on this issue and even uses Marxist language to make its point. In his article, Deputy Burke refers to “exercise of adventurism”, a term which originated in the ideology of Karl Marx. Has Fianna Fáil suddenly become a Marxist organisation or, in its craven attempts to avoid reality, will it borrow words from other people because it lacks the moxie to make its own argument?

Deputy Burke's article also refers to the “NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace”. A great way to condemn any initiative is to state that it is sponsored by NATO. Deputy Burke never once referred to the charter which established the Partnership for Peace or the objectives of the partnership, to which, I believe, the vast majority of Irish people would subscribe. I travel around the country on a regular basis and I have discovered no significant lobby which wants to create a situation where the former states of the Soviet Union, the states that are now known as the Confederation of Independent States or Russia, should continue to be left out in the cold, feel threatened or believe that the West is against them. Many people have told me that we must create a situation where the different peoples of Europe can work together for peace. It is with this that the Partnership for Peace is concerned. Fianna Fáil is against it.

If I were to adopt the flippant, facile and easy line that party usually takes, I would have to conclude that Fianna Fáil is against peace. I am sure this is incorrect, but Fianna Fáil is not aware of what it supports and what it opposes. Deputy Burke has difficulty with the [1345] idea that Ireland should become “a constructive participant” in negotiations on a common defence policy for the European Union, “one which wants to contribute to and influence the outcome and one which wishes to participate in its implementation.” Is Fianna Fáil informing us that Irish people have no interest in the security of Europe? Is Deputy Burke stating that we do not wish to have any influence on the shape of that which guarantees our security? Is he stating that he does not like to discuss security because such discussion will lead to our making decisions about operations? The Deputy does not want to make those decisions. I do not believe that the Irish people — by way of referendum or any other measure will state that they are not interested in the security of Ireland or its neighbours. The people are most certainly interested in that security. Ireland is involved in peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Such operations are designed to promote the security of people who live in areas of conflict. We are contributing to maintaining the security of people in those areas. Will anyone inform me that the Irish people are prepared to guarantee and ensure the security of people anywhere in the world except in the European Union? That is simply not credible or tenable.

At the conclusion of his article Deputy Burke states the policy his party favours in this area. He informs us that “We also favour a collective security under the auspices of international organisations, for example, the UN and the OSCE”. It has, therefore, been established that Fianna Fáil favours a collective security under the auspices of international organisations and the Deputy provides two examples. Does he favour collective security under the auspices of other international organisations, or is this merely sloppy drafting?

Deputy Burke offers the example of the UN. Ireland has participated in collective security operations under the auspices of the UN. One such operation, with a UN mandate, is being carried out [1346] in the former Yugoslavia at present. It has been deemed necessary to deploy a substantial body of troops to try to maintain the peace there. Once this occurs, a command structure becomes necessary. The UN discovered that it did not have in place a command structure or the instruments to create one and requested help from the only organisation at hand which seemed able to provide such structures, the Western European Union. However, the Western European Union discovered that its structures were inadequate for the task and requested help from NATO. When it becomes necessary to take action to defend the security of troops deployed under a UN mandate and remove the capacity of other elements to attack them, air strikes are required. NATO was the only organisation capable of providing such strikes.

Is Deputy Burke stating that, because the Western European Union and NATO are involved in implementing a UN-mandated operation in the former Yugoslavia, we should disapprove of this? Will he turn his back on reality and state that Ireland should take no further part in such operations because of the involvement of the Western European Union and NATO? I do not believe that he would, but he should not indulge in nonsensical and broad denunciation of those bodies.

Deputy Burke also referred to the Petersberg Tasks — humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking — which it appears he dislikes. Is the Deputy stating that he approves of such tasks, which are the same as those that the UN sets out for itself, provided that they are not carried out by the Western European Union or NATO, which he dislikes? Is he stating that he will have nothing to do with such tasks because he is not enamoured of those organisations? Is he further stating that he approves of such tasks while their completion remains unfeasible or impossible, but when they prove possible to [1347] achieve, with the only available machinery, he does not approve of them? That is the real meaning of Fianna Fáil's position on the issues in this debate.

I regret that Deputy Bertie Ahern, the Leader of Fianna Fáil, plumbed the depths of ignorance and myth-peddling during his contribution. When speaking about our involvement with other organisations he inquired if there would be British troops in the Curragh or French forces in Bantry Bay. He had the ignorance to forget there was a time when the Irish wanted to see the French navy enter Bantry Bay. This is the worst, most despicable and contemptible form of jingoism and has no place in a debate on foreign policy.

The White Paper contains a great deal of information, including a welcome chapter on human rights. It informs us that a human rights unit is being established in the Department of Foreign Affairs. This will be widely welcomed, but what will it mean? Present and future Irish Governments will continue to work in defence of human rights throughout the world in the UN, the OSCE and Ireland.

The White Paper is unspecific. What will we do, for example, in defence of human rights in Central America? All the principles are contained in the document, all the adherence to UN actions and our support for UN resolutions down through the years. What will we do, apart from agreeing with resolutions in the UN General Assembly and in the other fora where these are discussed? Will we use our special relationship with Washington to encourage the United States authorities to adopt a saner, less defensive, more open and democratically inspired approach to its relations with the countries of Central America and the Caribbean? There is some evidence that we are prepared to do that because, after argument in the House over many years, the Irish Government voted in the last UN General Assembly against the continuation of the embargo on Cuba. I would have wished that a White Paper on Foreign [1348] Policy would have been more specific, especially in the areas where we can use influence which we pretend to have.

The treatment of the question of the enlargement of the European Union in this document certainly covers all the main questions and concerns but it lacks a certain sense of history. I am happy that the Government appears to agree with the view, which is common in the European Union, that enlargement is a political imperative, rather than a generous option for the EU. I am pleased there is a very positive approach to resolving the problems of enlargement rather than a simple recitation of their complexity.

I would like to have seen a simple reflection on the experience of previous enlargements in which, up to and including the one that took place last year — the accession of Ireland, UK, Denmark, Greece, Spain and Portugal — problems were foreseen and undoubtedly fears were justified. Up to 1995 — I am sure it will be the case with that enlargement also — every enlargement added to the strength of the Community, as it was then, both politically and economically, and the result has always been enormously positive.

I am disappointed that the chapter on trade and international economic co-operation says nothing about the imbalance in world trade arrangements which works against the interests of the developing world or about the failure of the Uruguay Round of the GATT even to begin to address that issue. The chapter on development co-operation is worthy, it is classic, it is acceptable in its own framework but it is an inadequate treatment of the real problem. This document lacks that vital political spark that should illumine our foreign policy. I hope the debate we will have on it will provide that spark.

Mr. M. Kitt: Information on Michael P. Kitt Zoom on Michael P. Kitt Ba mhaith liom labhairt ar an bPáipéar Basn agus tá díomá orm nach bhfuil mórán socruithe sa Pháipéar Bán. Ar bhealach tá sé cosúil le Páipéar Glas. As Deputy Dukes said, perhaps we should treat this White Paper like a [1349] green paper. Indeed, not to be hypocritical we should call it a green paper and discuss it on that basis, whether at the Committee on Foreign Affairs or at other committees of the House. I had hoped more decisions would be taken. We had been promised, following a long delay, that the White Paper would address many issues. On that score it is disappointing in that it is more like a green paper.

I welcome the Government's commitment to Europe. The points raised by the Fianna Fáil spokesperson. Deputy Ray Burke, on the question of Ireland insisting on a commissioner, a Minister at the Council of Ministers and a rotating Presidency are important issues which we — and I have no doubt the Government — support. If there are to be changes in any of these matters it is imperative that the larger countries in Europe agree to one fewer commissioner than at present and ensure smaller countries are represented. The smaller countries who will join the European Union would wish to have a commissioner as this is where the power lies in Europe.

Overseas development aid has played an important role for this and previous Governments and it has provided the basis for countries in the developed world to deal with their difficulties. Our proud record in this regard has been supported by the people, particularly through the NGOs. Bishop Kirby, speaking before Lent, referred to the fact that there was so much poverty in the world today and gave the UN statistic of 700 million people suffering from hunger, I understand the figure is now nearer to 800 million. This is happening in a world of plenty. Unfortunately, this hardship is a burden for the people in the Third World.

I urge the Government to stress once-off debt cancellation for some of the countries who are paying out huge loan repayments, where the debt burden is increasing. There is tremendous hypocrisy where many countries in the European Union support the Third World on the one hand and, on the other, supply [1350] them with weapons of war, sometimes supplying them to both sides of the conflict. This matter must be continually addressed by the Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs in particular.

I would like our commitment to increasing overseas development aid continued to reach a target of 0.7 per cent of GNP. I understand the figure for this year will possibly be in the region of 0.3 per cent, which is welcome, but we must build on it. The United States is cutting back on overseas development aid and many countries in Europe question whether we should have a target of 0.7 per cent. In Britain, they say this figure was plucked out of the air and that we should not have a target based on GNP but on some other criteria. That is sad when there is so much hunger and poverty in the world.

The two countries making headlines in the Third World are Rwanda and the neighbouring states and Nigeria. On the borders of Rwanda, in Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi, up to two million refugees live in fear and face uncertainty on returning to their own country. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State have continually made the point here that they are trying to get the international community to address the justice system in these countries and trying to build up confidence. One of the areas that needs urgent attention is a fair system of justice. I urge the Minister to continue to build up that aspect of the justice system.

The treatment of the Ogoni people by Nigeria has come before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on many occasions. I hope that the call we made in this House and at that committee for a complete oil embargo on Nigeria will be followed up. I am particularly glad that the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications is here because that his responsibility.

I have heard it said that the imposition of sanctions will affect the people of Nigeria. That is not the case. The warlords in Nigeria are sustained by the [1351] present policies. We heard the same arguments made in regard to South Africa when embargoes were in place. It is important that we get this oil embargo. I know a White Paper cannot concentrate on any particular country but in terms of our development programme and our relationships with people in the Third World this assistance should be given to the Ogoni people. Those in power in Nigeria are kept in power by these policies which we should do more to combat. The role of Shell International in Nigeria comes into question. What will Shell do to have the policies of the Nigerian Government changed? What will Shell do about the environment? Shell have been very slow to clean up their oil spillages. These issues need to be addressed.

We must not forget about Latin America or South Asia because in these places huge humanitarian issues need to be addressed. The Department of Foreign Affairs must continue to work on these problems because I am not convinced that they are highlighted enough at United Nations level or within the international community. Much more work is done by the NGOs who are working on the ground and who can deal specifically with the very small projects that are so badly needed. This was pointed out in our overseas development programme in 1993. There is a great need for small projects such as building a small school, providing a school with an extra room or providing a water supply for a village. I hope this kind of work will continue, particularly as we seem to be moving more towards bilateral assistance than multilateral. I ask the Government to help the NGOs in their work.

One of the chapters in the White Paper deals with the United Nations, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It is perhaps indicative of the regard in which some countries hold the United Nations that it is owed a lot of money. I saw figures for 1995 indicating that it is owed $3 billion by member states. Some $1.8 billion of that was for [1352] peacekeeping. It is time this situation was rectified. I hope the countries which owe the UN money will face up to their responsibilities. To its credit, Ireland has always faced up to the contributions we have had to make and I know it has been the policy of every Government to do so. The question of debt cancellation is one issue which must be dealt with when speaking about overseas development aid.

The other issue which I wish to address is that of land mines, which is part of the whole issue of European countries manufacturing arms and selling them to Third World countries. Land mines are most insidious weapons which have taken many lives, often years after they have been planted. In the Fianna Fáil policy document we made the point that 100,000 million land mines have been laid throughout the world, most of them in poor developing countries. They claim at least 12,000 lives a year and up to 85 per cent of their victims are children in countries like Afghanistan, Cambodia and Angola. I am glad Deputy Burke has published a Bill dealing with the prohibition of these land mines. The issues of land mines and chemical weapons have to be addressed. As a country that does not produce mines, we can make a start by passing this legislation, debating the question in Europe and, I hope, getting the European Union to agree with the Oireachtas in this matter.

Chapter 12 of the document deals with the Irish abroad. I hope the position of this chapter, near the end of the document, does not indicate that the topic is of less importance than any other. The Irish abroad are often mentioned in very nostalgic terms, but we should have a policy on emigration. A number of Government Departments deal with information about emigration at present. For example, the CSO gives us figures on emigration. The Department of Foreign Affairs appears to formulate our policy in relation to emigrants and funds emigrants' associations in Australia and the United States. The [1353] Department of Enterprise and Employment provides funding through the DÍON committee for emigrants in Britain. The Department of the Environment is considering legislation to allow the election of three Senators by emigrants.

Four Government Departments are dealing with policy on emigration and it looks as if the Government is not organised in regard to this issue. I would prefer to see one Department and Minister or Minister of State dealing with the question. We should find out the exact number of emigrants and establish a world-wide register of emigrants. We should provide counselling for emigrants before they leave Ireland and maintain the links between them and this country. Giving emigrants a right to vote is one way of achieving this.

We should also provide help and assistance, as is done in other countries and in Northern Ireland, for emigrants who wish to return, particularly if they are returning to set up businesses. Grants of up to £75,000 are available in the North of Ireland for entrepreneurs who wish to provide employment at home. That is very positive and I put it to the Minister of State that we should include such provision in chapter 12 of the White Paper to encourage our emigrants to return and create employment.

Last year Trócaire, which does such excellent work in the Third World, produced a submission for this White Paper. It is significant that they produced this document in March 1995 because we thought at the time that the White Paper would be published early that year. This did not happen; we had to wait until March 1996 for the document to be produced. When Trócaire produced their submission they were particularly concerned about the discussion on the Famine commemoration. It suggested the Government should set up a famine prevention fund, but this did not happen. It pointed to the contradiction in the Government's ODA programme in that people are hungry while, in accordance with EU policy, food is dumped. It also referred to the [1354] welcome announcement in 1995 by the Minister for Finance concerning tax relief on donations. This should not be taken out of the ODA fund.

Debate adjourned.


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