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White Paper on Foreign Policy: Statements (Resumed).

Thursday, 28 March 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 463 No. 5

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Mr. M. Kitt: Information on Michael P. Kitt Zoom on Michael P. Kitt I will continue my comments on development co-operation, the subject of Chapter 9 of the White Paper. I welcome the Government's commitment to this issue but am disappointed that there is little reference to education in the chapter. The Tánaiste and the Government spoke about local capacity and self-reliance and surely education is the most important part of that. I have spoken to NGOs and last year had the opportunity to inspect the education programme in the Kilosa district of Tanzania, which showed me the importance of setting up an extra classroom or a small school. There is a tendency to provide free education at university level in developing countries but it should not be at the expense of education at primary level and the Department of Foreign Affairs should put further emphasis on this.

The chapter also discusses the prevention of violent conflict. Trócaire estimated there were 82 ongoing conflicts in the world between 1989 and 1992, of which 79 were internal. An expert on conflicts told the Oireachtas Joint Commitee of Foreign Affairs recently that there were 32 major conflicts in the world, major being defined as conflicts where over 1,000 people were killed in a year. The figure is frightening. I agree totally with the Government's emphasis in this chapter on preventative diplomacy to avoid violent conflict. In introducing the Fianna Fáil policy document A Place in the World and in speaking this morning Deputy Burke also suggested putting such a diplomatic initiative in place.

One issue which needs greater emphasis is drugs and international crime. The Department of Foreign Affairs is not the only Department involved but it should put greater stress on this area. We have seen how drugs [1455] have entered the country despite our best efforts to police the coastline, air ports and ports of entry. They are a cause of major problems not just in the cities but throughout the country. I hope when we discuss the White Paper at further length we will focus on tackling drugs and the international crime connected with them, in order to make this country and the world safer by eliminating drug peddling.

Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch As someone who has regularly put down questions to the Tánaiste on various foreign policy issues, I am more that gratified to see a comprehensive policy on our attitude to issues outside our country. Most people who are interested in foreign policy have been carrying the White Paper with them for the last few days and I am sure it will become our bible on the subject, whether we agree or disagree with it. Undoubtedly, like the Bible, there will be parts we accept and parts we do not and I hope that out of this debate will come something we can be proud of.

Deputy Dukes pointed out the similarities between Deputy Burke, Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on foreign affairs, and Marxists. It was stated that Deputy Burke used terms from the ideology of Karl Marx because he did not have the wherewithal to produce his own language to deal with the issue. In recent years we have begun to develop a foreign policy, based on a set of clearly identifiable principles, culminating with the publication this week of the White Paper on foreign policy. I welcome this development and hope the debate will not be confined to this arena, and others such as television and radio. The people have an enormous interest in foreign policy, so I hope the debate on this issue will take place at every possible forum. It is our responsibility to ensure that debate is well-informed. This is very important.

In the past our foreign policy was largely reactive. Our neutrality was [1456] developed not as a positive instrument with which to confront global challenges, but to respond to European developments in the 1930s and 1940s, and it served the country well. If something is not broken we should not try to fix it but we should frankly discuss our policy of neutrality. Much has changed since the 1930s and 1940s. Entry to the EU and increasing global interdependence means Ireland can no longer stand apart from the rest of the Continent. During the past decade we witnessed momentous changes which could not have been foreseen by those who implemented our neutrality policy. The division of the world into two Cold War blocks has ended and has been replaced in some areas by militant nationalism. Members are aware of the areas to which I refer. Ethnic tensions, nationalism and fascism are on the increase and have spread throughout Europe, 50 years after the end of World War II. In the developing world, political and territorial colonialism have been replaced by the colonialism of the dollar, the mark and the yen. These currencies have been described as “the all-important dollar, the God-given mark and the godlike yen”.

Throughout the southern hemisphere, emerging nations struggle to serve new masters in the form of the World Bank and the IMF. The European Union currently reflects many international tensions. Larger and more influential countries at the centre of Europe are intent on creating a two-speed process which would see peripheral countries such as Ireland relegated to the slow lane. Both the European Commission and the Franco-German alliance recently produced proposals to introduce majority voting and to eliminate automatic seats at the Commission for countries such as Ireland. The Franco-German alliance is also promoting the concept of a merger between the EU and the Western European Union which would draw Ireland into a military alliance.

International news has not been all bad. Democracy, always very fragile, has taken root in countries where we [1457] did not suspect it would, for example, Hungary, the Czech and Slovac Republics, Taiwan, South Africa and elsewhere. However, the quality of that democracy varies from country to country. In many regions, dictators still lurk in the political wings. We must be extremely careful in the language we use and the action we take. That is why our foreign policy is more important that our cultural diversity is some cases.

It is against this background the Government produced the White Paper on foreign policy which, I hope, is not cast in stone. Our foreign policy must change as the world changes. The White Paper sets out some of the guiding principles which will determine the conduct of Irish foreign policy in the future. As one of the partners in Government, Democratic Left had considerable input into the policies outlined in the White Paper. It is reflected in the emphasis laid on Ireland's membership of the United Nations and the prominence given to issues such as development, co-operation and the centrality of human rights in the formulation of our foreign policy.

The Tánaiste and the Department of Foreign Affairs must be congratulated on producing a comprehensive and progressive set of guiding principles which will help shape Ireland's foreign policy as we approach the end of the century. However, certain aspects of the White Paper require closer examination. I hope the debate will not be restricted in geographic terms or in terms of providing people with information or permitting them to advance their arguments.

The issue which attracted most headlines in recent weeks is Ireland's security arrangements within the new Europe. Following the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Ireland must develop a positive neutrality which will enable us to contribute to the development of a global security system. We must ensure our voice is heard and respected on matters such as nuclear disarmament, outlawing chemical and biological weapons, a comprehensive ban on land-mines and similar issues. In the past [1458] such matters were seen as fringe rather than mainstream issues. It is crucial that we work for the dissolution of military blocs such as NATO. We must also work to ensure that the Western European Union is eventually superseded by a reinvigorated OSCE.

In recent weeks, a concerted attempt was made to portray the Partnership for Peace as a force for stability in Europe and to sell the benefits which Ireland would allegedly derive from membership of that body. Democratic Left is opposed to Ireland joining the Partnership for Peace. The party believes membership of the PFP would lock Ireland into a militaristic view of the world and lessen the scope for developing a peaceful European security architecture throughout the EU foreign policy structure and within the OSCE. It is clear that membership of the PFP would be incompatible with Ireland's neutrality. In developing the PFP and touting it around Europe, NATO is attempting to establish its control of security arrangements in post-Cold War Europe. The answer to the security question in Europe is not to give responsibility for it to an American-led militarist alliance. Instead we must build on the non-militaristic structures of EU foreign policy and the OSCE to create a non-threatening and inclusive all-European security system.

Democratic Left has continuously argued for the development of positive neutrality which would build on the extensive peacekeeping role played by Ireland since the 1960s. Not anyone in Ireland or throughout Europe need be reminded of that role. Positive neutrality would also focus on developing a peaceful but effective EU foreign policy and the all-Europe structure of the OSCE, and reforming the United Nations. Rather than giving responsibility for European security to an untried, untested and untrusted structure — the PFP — we must develop new and innovative structures within the EU which reflect the aspirations and concerns of all Europeans.

From this point onward the only wars [1459] in which we can engage are trade wars. The majority of Irish people are not prepared to see young European and Irish men and women used by NATO as some kind of cannon fodder in an unimaginable war. Ireland, given its history in the developing world, would not stand for that. I am not prepared to allow headline writers set the agenda. It is important that everyone participates in this debate.

Media coverage of the White Paper has focused on Ireland's security arrangements. Yet this accounts for only one chapter out of 16. It is extremely depressing that commentators have largely ignored issues such as human rights, development co-operation, the environment and justice co-operation within the EU. The White Paper makes a worthwhile contribution in these areas. I welcome in particular the section dealing with international human rights. The priority accorded by the Government to the development of human rights was highlighted by setting up a human rights unit within the Department of Foreign Affairs, which should be welcomed by all. This priority is further underpinned by the decision to establish an interdepartmental committee on human rights and the formation of a permanent standing committee which will include NGO representatives. This should have been done long ago and should be welcomed by us all.

It is important to bear in mind that high ideals are often the victims of economic considerations. In this context I am disappointed that the Government did not seize the opportunity to impose strict human rights conditions on trade arrangements. One need only think of our growing trade with Indonesia and the human rights issue in East Timor to realise the importance of such conditions. The most fundamental human rights include freedom from hunger and the right to a clean water supply, health care, education and work. I often compare these with the fundamental demands of the women's rights movement at a time when it was one family, [1460] one home and payments for deserted wives and widows. It is sad that in a world of too much people can still go to bed hungry. The right to clean water supply is essential — in churches it is referred to as the water of life — yet we cannot guarantee this right.

The chapter on development co-operation sets out a number of welcome goals in this area which can be summed up by the statement in paragraph 9.6 of the White Paper which outlines the Government's aim to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development in some of the poorest countries of the world. The word “sustainable” is the key word in this statement. We cannot allow the developing world to become a social and environmental dumping ground for the developed world. I welcome the commitment to establish a humanitarian liaison group which will co-ordinate the responses of the Government and NGOs to humanitarian emergencies. This is long overdue. However, there is one glaring omission in this chapter. While it reiterates the Government's commitment to reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP, the White Paper does not specifically endorse the commitment in paragraph 83 of the Programme for a Government of Renewal to increase development assistance by 0.5 per cent of GNP each year. I hope this was an oversight and I look forward to hearing the explanation.

Aid and trade are closely linked. Much of the developing world is trying to cope not only with an ever increasing debt burden but with a world trade order which is balanced in favour of the north rather than the south. In 1944 the Bretton Woods Agreement sought to address the social and economic challenges of the post-war era and the glaring economic disparities between different parts of the world, disparities which today have left the developing world groaning under a massive debt burden with thousands of people sacrificed to the need to export food to earn hard currency to pay off debts. Famine is caused not only by drought and crop [1461] failure but also by the failure of the system. During the 1980s it became increasingly clear that the Bretton Woods system was failing developing countries. Unless we address the debt crisis facing the developing world and ensure that the World Bank's ostensible commitment to equitable growth and sustainable development is translated into reality famine and near famine will continue to be a part of modern life.

The economic adjustment policies which are an intrinsic part of the World Bank's approach continue to impose unacceptable costs on the south. Those costs have been compounded by the GATT agreement and its regional sub-treaties such as NAFTA which have given respectability to the concepts of social and environmental dumping. At a time when political democracy is making slow but measurable advances the World Bank continues to be a profoundly undemocratic institution. Developing countries have, in effect, been forced to transfer their economic sovereignty to two remote and undemocratic institutions, the World Bank and IMF, whose policies are dictated by the developed world.

It is ironic that the World Bank and IMF should continue imposing liberal economic policies on the developing world at a time when the politics of Reagan and Thatcher have been discredited in the developed world. In exchange for balance of payments loans the structural adjustment policies imposed on developing countries require them to reduce their budget deficit, liberalise imports, deregulate internal markets and promote exports. This has the inevitable result of imposing on these countries a system which they cannot sustain. At the same time the export-led strategy has been a two pronged disaster. Developing countries, for example Zimbabwe, have not only been forced to export foodstuffs desperately needed to feed their populations but increased commodity exports have also led to a sharp drop in commodity prices, an underlying trend which is obscured but not alleviated by [1462] the occasional price fluctuation. If one looks at this area — the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State, Deputy Burton, have a deep knowledge of it — one realises that bombs are not the only cause of death, the non-allocation of money is usually the greatest cause of poverty and death in these countries.

Oxfam referred to the 1980s as the lost decade in development terms. There is a very real danger that the 1990s will be seen as another lost decade unless governments in the north and south insist on radical transformation of development policies, accompanied by an overhaul of the World Bank and the IMF. In this context I welcome the acknowledgment in section 9.86 of the White Paper that the option of debt cancellation should be examined. I hope the Government will press for such a cancellation at international level.

Before leaving the section on development co-operation I wish to refer to land mines, an issue which affects large parts of the developing world. No one is unaffected by this problem. It is estimated that there are 100 million active land mines throughout the world.

I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this debate. We are judged abroad by our foreign policy as much as by our culture, people, how we treat people in the international arena and how we react in the international arena. Individual citizens do not often know the fine detail but it is vitally important when it comes to taking action. That is why it is important to look at the White Paper in detail, where it will take us and the consequences. I congratulate the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, their Government colleagues and the Department of Foreign Affairs officials on producing a set of innovative and challenging policies. I agree with many of the principles which will strike a chord among the public which has consistently demonstrated its commitment to issues such as human rights, development co-operation and the peaceful resolution of problems.

[1463]Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt I welcome the publication of this document, although the delay was regrettable. My party agrees with much of what is contained in it. It reflects the positive role successive Irish Governments and the Irish people have played and will continue to play on the international scene.

Much of the debate on the White Paper has rightly been focused on defence and security issues. The reason for that and why members of my party have raised the issue, is that we recognise a major fudge here. I listened carefully to what Deputy Lynch said and she confirmed my opinions.

The Tánaiste said he wanted to stimulate greater public debate and give the public a greater sense of ownership of foreign policy; that was part of the agenda of openness and transparency. This very well produced document runs to 348 pages but if we analyse it we will see that the language used in it is largely descriptive; we are none the wiser for having read it. We are confused about the specific issues of security and defence, having waited patiently to see the end result.

Much of the work on this document was relatively easy in that the material is factual and I have no doubt, having spent time at the Department of Foreign Affairs, that some of the fine officials there contributed to the various sections. The difficult part was the question of EU security and defence. It was always going to be impossible for the Government to deal with this issue. It struck me when the Government was formed that it would be very difficult for it, with the Presidency of the European Union coming up, to accommodate the different views of the various parties on EU security and the long standing policy of neutrality. Fine Gael stated in its manifesto for the European elections that we should become full members of the Western European Union. The Labour and Democratic Left parties held the opposite view. It is clear that there is no room for compromise on this issue.

This White Paper reveals a farcical situation. The chapters on security and [1464] defence policy discredit and overshadow the more positive elements of the document, especially in light of our forthcoming Presidency of the European Union and with the intergovernmental conference about to take place. On the security question, as far as I am concerned, the three parties in Government put their respective toes in the water and then ran for cover. The end product on this central issue was simply not worth waiting for. The parties in Government would have been better off if they had stated that they could not agree.

The whole exercise has been meaningless, a wasted opportunity. I will have some alternative suggestions to make. The most frightening aspect of this White Paper is the number of times the word “consider” appears in the text. The Government will consider doing many things. For example, on Partnership for Peace, the document states that the Government is giving consideration to whether the Partnership for Peace is one to which Ireland could contribute. We are also told that the Government has decided to explain further the benefit that Ireland might derive from participation in Partnership for Peace and to determine the contribution Ireland might make to the partnership. This could not be described as earth shattering material. It would not send diplomats throughout the European Union rushing out to find a copy of this document to see where Ireland stood on these issues.

I have seen many statements at departmental and European level on the Western European Union, but the statement in the White Paper on it is one of the best. It is to the effect that the Government has decided to discuss with the Western European Union the possibility of Ireland taking part in specific Western European Union operations. It will consider, we are told, such changes as may be necessary to defence forces and Garda legislation to enable Ireland's defence forces and the Garda to take part in such operations. After all of that, in case we get carried away, the [1465] document states that the Government will not propose membership of NATO or the Western European Union.

The document contains a bit of this and a bit of that. The authors of the document have tried, by using cleverly crafted language, to weave in and out between the positions of the various parties in Government on the issues of defence and neutrality. The end result is incoherent and confusing and shows that the Government is not in a position to make any decisions. In many respects the construction of the White Paper on foreign policy is similar to the process undertaken by the Government parties prior to the publication of the budget, when we got a bit of this and a bit of that cobbled together to allow all parties to claim credit for the final document. Deputy Lynch, whose views I listened to carefully, made this point when she said that Democratic Left has a position on the PFP and that it has obviously had an input, as is their right.

The finished product is ideologically confusing and, in my view, worthless. This document cannot be fairly described as innovative, because it steps in and out of Western European Union and the Partnership for Peace in an almost tantalising manner. We are told that the Government intends to increase the level of participation in the OSCE. This is presented as an important initiative but the reality is that the OSCE is not the most dynamic and effective international organisation in existence. It should be more effective in the area of collective security.

Why should we necessarily move towards closer involvement with the Western European Union and PFP? There is no doubt that this is the way the document is leaning. The reality is that the Western European Union is not interested in neutral countries becoming involved in a limited number of tasks. We could achieve what the Tánaiste appears to want to achieve in areas of peace-keeping, humanitarian work and crisis management within the common foreign and security policy of the EU. All of these issues can be sorted out [1466] around the table of 15 Ministers. We could put our defence forces and the Garda at the disposal of the EU under the common foreign and security policy on a case by case basis.

Each member of the EU knows its own strength and the strengths and resources of its fellow members. We do not have any great military might here, or logistical power, but we have enormous strengths in peace-keeping and humanitarian work. Our commitment in these areas could not be questioned, and no Member of this House has questioned that fact.

Ireland's stance, if an EU fellow state was attacked, has often been inquired of. If France was attacked — this is unlikely — what could or should Ireland do? As we do not have any huge military or logistical strength, we do not have any contribution to make at that level. We do not have the aircraft or the sophisticated equipment that is required for war. We could, under a common foreign and security policy, on a case by case basis, provide personnel to give medical assistance and humanitarian support in the field as the situation required.

Deputy Dukes seems to ridicule that type of policy but in my view he is not living in the real world. The reality is that we do certain things with great skill and expertise and we do not have the resources to excel in other areas, so a pooling of resources and skills under the EU common foreign and security policy could be put in place. The case for closer co-operation under the EU becomes even more obvious in relation to Africa. The EU is duty bound to play a much more co-ordinated role in conflicts and humanitarian crises in Africa. In accordance with its expertise, it is possible for each member state to contribute to any peace mission or co-ordinated effort to deal with a crisis.

Our contribution to Somalia and Rwanda through the NGOs would complement EU initiatives. During my time as Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs the crisis in Rwanda [1467] was of particular concern and it was frequently suggested that the EU should get its act together and support such countries. Some neighbouring states sought logistical support to get involved. Many EU initiatives could be adopted in conjunction with UN intervention.

I welcome the proposal in the White Paper to increase ODA, but the language is phrased in a cautious manner. It states it is the Government's aim to make further significant increases in ODA in the years ahead, but there is no reference to a scheduled increase each year. I also welcome the proposal to establish a humanitarian co-ordination committee. In a crisis it is important that the Department, the Minister and NGOs co-ordinate their efforts. The problems of Sudan and Rwanda were dealt with in that fashion during my time as Minister of State and I am glad this is being formalised. However, from the point of view of saving lives in an emergency, it is even more important to have a speedy and co-ordinated response to humanitarian aid at EU level. From my experience of emergencies, European NGOs, such as Medecins sans Frontiere and British and Irish aid agencies move quickly into troubled areas, set up support systems and eventually co-ordinate their efforts on site. However, there is no overall master plan at EU level which would lead to a more efficient and effective response, save lives and lead to a process of reconstruction and development.

I welcome the proposal to establish a rapid response register of personnel in the public service and elsewhere who would be available for speedy deployment in emergency relief activities. In compiling such a list, individuals' entitlements for their period abroad and on their return should be clearly established so that there is not a repeat of what happened to some members of the Defence Forces who went out to help in the Rwandan tragedy and were stationed at Goma. We have, rightly, increased our overseas aid budget in recent years. This places additional [1468] responsibility on the Government to spend these moneys wisely and to ensure that the poorest of the poor in the developing world benefit.

I appeal to the Government not to underestimate the value of the missionary movement in providing assistance in the most deprived and disadvantaged regions of Africa and elsewhere. I saw members of religious orders in Soweto and other townships working with AIDS sufferers and the very poor in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I have no hesitation in recommending that our aid budget be targeted at some of the projects undertaken by those missionaries. We must not allow the recent revelations and scandals about the behaviour of certain priests and nuns to cloud the fact that thousands of good people in religious orders unselfishly serve the poor, live in their communities and care in a real sense. Our focus must remain on sustainable development for the poorest of the poor, but that is not the case in all EU countries, many of whom provide aid to former colonies.

This debate on the White Paper will serve one useful purpose. It will clarify once and for all where Ireland should and can make its international contribution. The most significant contribution we can make as a neutral State is to ensure we have a strong voice on the international stage for the oppressed, poor countries and the developing world. During my period as Minister of State I was impressed to discover that because we take our position seriously the Irish voice is listened to at UN and EU level, particularly on human rights and development issues. The staff in the Department of Foreign Affairs are committed to their work. Foreign policy is about conviction and I am convinced that, if leadership is provided by the Government, staff at home and abroad will be genuinely committed and supportive.

Being a strong voice for the oppressed means speaking out consistently for countries such as East Timor. In some cases we may be advised to ensure that our stance does not damage [1469] our international trade relations with large powers. The protection of human rights should be our main objective and we should not be deflected from that position. If we compromise we will lose the credibility we have rightly earned over many decades, back to the days of the late Frank Aiken, who spoke at UN level on many important human rights issues.

We should also be a strong voice at World Bank and IMF level for the developing world on the issue of debt. The Fianna Fáil Party proposed that a special international conference should be called with the specific objective of wiping out the debt that is crippling the economic and social development of many Third World counties. I welcome the proposal to expand the work of ECOSOC, the UN Economic and Social Council.

We must intensify our efforts on disarmament. The Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference in the year 2000 will provide an opportunity to mobilise support in the EU and world wide to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons and bring about nuclear disarmament. We should also, as a matter of priority, ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention and campaign vigorously at EU level to ensure that happens. The treaty was negotiated and signed, but three years later it has not been enforced.

I welcome the support for an international Court of Justice and the strong emphasis on human rights in the document. It is appropriate that the Irish aid programme should contribute towards training the Judiciary, police and media in countries where that is necessary. It is also appropriate that education on human rights for police and military personnel should be provided by the Garda and Defence Forces. The people of many African countries appreciate the work we have already done in this area, and, because of our neutral independent status, we are seen as a most suitable country to provide this kind of support. It is regrettable that time does [1470] not allow me deal with the issues of EU enlargement and monetary union.

I do not propose to knock the White Paper for the sake of doing so. It is a fine document in many respects and I hope it will stimulate a worth-while debate. However, it failed to give direction on the difficult questions of security, defence and neutrality. It pretends to deal with them, but an objective analysis will show that at a minimum it is an unbelievable fudge. It is regrettable that the Government, in the run-up to our Presidency of the EU, did not spell out our position in that regard more coherently. In my brief contribution I made some constructive proposals as to how this could be done. It is, nevertheless, understandable that we were presented this week with a confused paper on the issues of security, defence and neutrality. The Fine Gael Party supports Ireland becoming a full member of the Western European Union but the Labour Party and Democratic Left hold an opposing view. It is regrettable that on this occasion the parties of the Left did not win the argument and the Government did not come up with new thinking to allow us continue to play our special and unique role in international affairs.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent Tá cuma ar an scéal anois go mbeidh orm stopadh taobh istigh de chúig nóiméad ach ba mhaith liom a fháil amach chomh luath agus is féidir cé chomh fada eile a mbeidh an díospóireacht seo ag leanacht ar aghaidh. Cé go bhfuil sé déanach tá súil agam nach fada go mbeidh seans eile againn dul ar aghaidh leis an díospóireacht seo mar tá an-suim ann.

In contributing to the debate on the White Paper on Foreign Policy, the view of the Green Party — An Comhaontas Glas — is informed by the Green philosophy of thinking globally, acting locally, Being aligned to 28 Green parties from Scotland to Estonia to Australia and Tasmania means that Green party views on foreign policy are informed by global realities. An Comhaontas Glas policy on foreign affairs is based on the seven [1471] principles adopted by the membership through consensus. These are: the impact of society on the environment should not be ecologically disruptive; conservation of resources is vital to a sustainable society; all political, social and economic decisions should be taken at the lowest effective level; society should be guided by self-reliance and co-operation at all levels; as caretakers of the earth we have the responsibility to pass it on in a fit and healthy state; the need for world peace overrides national and commercial interests; the poverty of two thirds of the world's family demands a redistribution of the world's resources.

In wishing to present Ireland to the world in a good light, it would be desirable to lavish praise on the White Paper but, regrettably, the Government has made this impossible, for at least three reasons. First, TDs have had this 348 page document for only two days, even though copies were given to journalists some time ago. Second, the study of the White Paper is not helped by the omission of an index, given word search facilities nowadays and computer technology, this would have been extremely easy. Clearly, it is a deliberate decision to stifle examination. Third, at the end of the day the intergovernmental conference negotiations will still take place behind closed doors and the public will have to rely on leaks and rumours until the final agreements are arrived at. If we are lucky, we might have a referendum — although this seems extremely unlikely given the Government's attitude — during which we will be told we have no choice but to accept, going on past experience. As the Danes discovered, even if we decide to reject it, the referendum result will be ignored. What options are left to me as a Green Party TD, having speedily read this White Paper while the Tánaiste is packing his bags to attend the intergovernmental conference in Turin?

I will attempt to analyse constructively each core section of the document beginning with the introduction in [1472] which the Tánaiste claims he wants the Irish people to feel a sense of ownership of Irish foreign policy. The best way to ensure this sense of ownership is to set out the options facing Ireland in terms of foreign policy and allow each voter to partake in a referendum or, at the very least, a referendum on future policy options. The realities of free market economics form the earlier part of the document. Unfortunately, these realities are largely overlooked. The lack of critical analysis of the section referring to economic trends is frightening. In page 70 there is a reference to “rising trend in gross domestic product” as if our involvement with the EU was a blossoming rosy garden.

Debate adjourned.


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