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Private Members' Business. - Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Landmines Bill, 1996: Second Stage.

Wednesday, 8 May 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 465 No. 1

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Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

I propose to share my time with Deputy Micheal Kitt.

[278]Acting Chairman (Mr. T. Foxe): Information on Thomas Foxe Zoom on Thomas Foxe Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke One hundred and ten million landmines contaminate 70 countries of the world. This weapon of mass destruction kills and maims 500 people every week and 26,000 per year. If there was an incident at sea or an airplane crash these figures would result in massive media coverage. However, because the casualties are spread throughout the world and, in many cases, affect the poorest of the poor and even though horrific multilation is involved, the carnage resulting from landmines receives little media attention. In countries such as Afghanistan, Mozambique, Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia, men, women and children are blown up while merely collecting firewood, fetching water and tending cattle. The only coverage we receive of landmine victims is when, unfortunately, they happen to be UN officials or American or European soldiers.

There is no escaping the harsh fact that, if no other mine were planted or manufactured, children not yet born will be killed for years to come by those already in the ground. The harsh statistic is that one mine exists for every 50 people on this earth or one for every 20 children. In some countries, there are more than one for every citizen. A recent “Ban Landmines, Now!” exhibition, organised by Mr. Tony D'Costa and Pax Christi in Dublin graphically brought home the horrifying reality that in Cambodia, for example, while there are 9.3 million people it is estimated that 10 million or more landmines are hidden in the ground. One of every 256 persons has at least one limb amputated. Cambodia is also home to between 35,000 and 40,000 mine victims and in excess of 300 mine accidents occur every month.

Landmines savagely ensure that the [279] massacre of the innocent continues decades after peace agreements have been signed. Mines planted during World War II are still killing people today and, as technology becomes more sophisticated, the mines of today can detect body heat, footstep patterns and other signals which can cause them to explode. In some countries landmines have become one of the biggest obstacles to development. Mines destroy the fabric and infrastructure of a society. Economic reconstruction, the return and rehabilitation of refugees, resettlement of internally displaced people and post-conflict redevelopment of a society become impossible.

Landmines cripple economies as well as individuals. Denying access to land severely affects food production thus causing malnutritution and starvation. They maim or kill the workforces upon which rural economies depend to sustain themselves. In many parts of the world, landmines affect every aspect of the lives of the people because they are planted everywhere — in large tracts of agricultural land, dams, river banks, forests, electrical installations, transportation systems, roads, footpaths and entrances to places of worship.

Demining is a laborious, dangerous and expensive operation which involves searching the ground inch by inch. The United Nations standard of demining is 99.9 per cent clearance and restoration of the ground to pre-war conditions. The impact on any society is the same whether there are 100 mines in a field or over 1,000. When there is a mine accident, the land suddenly becomes an object of terror for those dependent on it.

In 1993 approximately 10,000 mines were removed at a cost of $70 million. During the same period, however, between two to five million mines were laid. A mine can be as cheap as $3 to manufacture. However, removing the same mine could cost anywhere between $300 and $1,000. To remove the mines already in the ground throughout the world would cost, at a [280] minimum, $33 billion and would take hundreds of years. The total money pledged and received, including £100,000 from the Irish Government, at the United Nations conference on demining held in Geneva in July 1995 came to 20 cents per mine instead of a minimum of $300.

Mines are designed to kill and maim able-bodied soldiers. In reality, however, the main victims are civilians. According to a study conducted by a Polish institute, the death rate among children for mine accidents is as high as 80 per cent. Small children are more susceptible to mine blasts. Damage to vital organs, loss of blood and lack or absence of medical facilities contribute to or are often the cause of death. It may offend sensitive ears, but the limbs of children have been found 30 metres from the site of a mine explosion. According to the Compassion Centre, a Russian non-governmental organisation, between December 1994 and February 1995 children accounted for less than 5 per cent of all casualties in Chechnya yet, following the outbreak of conflict, this figure rose to 40 per cent within the three subsequent months, an increase attributed solely to landmines.

Landmines used to be considered an indispensable weapon for the military. However, opinions are changing in military circles. There is a growing understanding and opinion among military personnel that landmines should be banned. The New York Times reported, on St. Patrick's Day this year, that General John Shalikashvili, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has ordered a review of the US military's policy with regard to the use of land-mines. Timothy Connolly, the former US principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for special operations, stated:

Landmines should be put in the category of chemical weapons. Even though they have military utility, chemical weapons have been banned because of their devastating consequences to soldiers and civilians.

[281] Some day, and that day has to be sooner rather than later, we are going to reach the same conclusion about anti-personnel landmines.

General Norman Schwartzkopf, who we remember from the Gulf War, said he wished to see landmines “forever eliminated from warfare”. This was based on his personal experiences of “having seen hundreds of my troops killed or maimed by them” as well as being “keenly aware of the devastating effects” of landmines on civilians.

A recent publication of the International Committee of the Red Cross, entitled “Anti-personnel Landmines, Friend or Foe?”, a document which was recently launched in Ireland by the Irish Red Cross, discusses the military uses and effectiveness of anti-personnel landmines. High ranking military personnel from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa participated in the international study. Out of the 26 conflicts considered in the study, “no case was found in which the use of anti-personnel mines played a major role in determining the outcome of a conflict. At best, these weapons had a marginal tactical value under certain specific but demanding conditions ...”. At the launch in Dublin, the chairman of the Irish Red Cross, Ms Una McGurk, stated that “anti-personnel landmines are serial killers and Governments which support... mine manufacturers in their countries are exporting death. Governments who profit through taxes from this business are handling blood money”. She went on to say that the society “hopes that, on foot of this study, governments and military commanders will now be persuaded to support a prohibition. This is a matter of life and death for thousands of innocent people around the world”.

The Secretary General of the UN has persistently called for a total ban. Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali has stated that “anti-personnel landmines are ... real weapons of mass destruction. This method of mass destruction is both perverse and insidious since it blindly [282] strikes at civilian populations ... we must eliminate landmines once and for all. We must ban their use. We must ban their production. We must destroy those that are stockpiled. The Convention on Chemical Weapons, signed in Paris in January 1993, clearly indicates the path we must follow”. At the end of the recent Geneva Conference, the Secretary General expressed his disappointment at its outcome.

There are two sources of international law which are supposed to regulate the use of anti-personnel land-mines, as outlined in International Humanitarian Law, ICRC, Chapter VII, “Mines & the Law”:

... Parties to a conflict must always distinguish between civilians and combatants. Civilians may not be directly attacked and indiscriminate attacks and the use of indiscriminate weapons are prohibited.

... It is prohibited to use weapons which cause unnecessary suffering. Therefore, the use of weapons whose damaging effects are disproportionate to their military purpose is prohibited.

These rules have become part of customary international law and thus apply to all states irrespective of their treaty obligations.

The United Nations Inhumane Weapons Convention, a convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects, was adopted in 1980. It applies to states parties which ratified the convention. Ireland did so in March of last year.

Some provisions of the UN Protocol include:

... Mines may be directed only at military objectives, indiscriminate use is prohibited and all feasible precautions must be taken to protect civilians ... Records must be kept of the location of pre-planned minefields, and the parties to a conflict are also to keep records on other minefields laid during hostilities ... At the end [283] of hostilities, the parties are to try to agree, either among themselves or with other states or organisations, to take the necessary measures to clear minefields.

According to Article 38 (1) of the Convention on The Rights of the Child, “.... Parties must undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child”.

We might have international laws and conventions, but nobody knows where mines are being laid indiscriminately. The conflicts we see today are of a civil nature rather than being fought by uniformed soldiers and that means that even the existence of minefields, let alone the mapping of them, is unknown.

International law, well meaning as it is, has failed. This failure of international law to prevent civilian casualties caused by landmines reinforces the need for the total prohibition of the production, procurement, transfer, sale, repair, stockpiling, import and use of anti-personnel landmines, similar to the international ban on chemical and biological weapons. I am seeking to achieve all party support for such an urgent prohibition. Undoubtedly, there has been a rapid worldwide development of opinion for an international ban on landmines. The number of countries calling for a total ban has grown from four in May 1994 to nearly 40 countries at present. Belgium, a former mine producing country, imposed a unilateral ban on landmines on 2 March 1995.

Why should there be a unilateral ban on landmines? Considering recent developments, Ireland stands in an ideal position to take a leadership role in achieving the objective of a total ban in the international arena. Non-governmental organisations, for example, Trócaire, Goal, Concern, Pax Christi, Earthwatch and Action Aid, have vigorously promoted a unilateral ban on anti-personnel landmines and have urged the Government to consider this seriously.

[284] From time to time representatives of international non-governmental organisations have made the same request in their presentations at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, including Ms Jody Williams, the co-ordinator of the American International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Many well-known organisations around the world have written letters to the leaders of all political parties in Ireland in support of this Fianna Fáil Bill.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, representing over 500 organisations in 30 countries, has tirelessly promoted a unilateral ban. The European Parliament has, on two occasions, called upon all members of the European Union to adopt national bans on anti-personnel mines. Likewise, the International Committee of the Red Cross has urged all national Red Cross societies to work for national bans in their respective countries. Following the recent Geneva review conference where 55 countries, including Ireland, adopted new rules on the use of landmines but ignored demands for an outright ban, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Red Cross described the new Protocol as “woefully inadequate”. These organisations, along with countless others, have stated that the amended mines Protocol will not make a significant difference in stemming the global landmines crisis.

The new Protocol has many loopholes. It has ineffective mechanisms and its scope is too narrow. Ironically, the failure of the review conference is counterbalanced by the increasing numbers of people and organisations throughout the world calling for a prohibition on landmines. Unfortunately, their voices have not been heard.

A unilateral ban could have a significant impact internationally in achieving the United Nations stated objective of “total elimination of this category of weapons”, an objective which mirrors our own position precisely. A ban will make permanent Ireland's refusal to be associated with this particularly abhorrent weapon and it will associate Ireland [285] with other states which have renounced their use for themselves; Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Switzerland.

Internationally, a comprehensive ban can only be achieved if individual countries take courageous steps unilaterally; ending the use of anti-personnel mines will clear the way for their legal prohibition. Being a non-mine producing country with a unilateral ban, Ireland would strengthen its ability to influence the world towards a total ban.

The cynics will perhaps say that this is an empty gesture. The grandparents of the same cynics may have had much the same to say about Frank Aiken, a prime mover of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which was promoted despite Ireland's nuclear free status. Following in the footsteps of Frank Aiken, we stand in a unique position to help make our world landmine free. We are providing a genuine response to the problem. The very magnitude and intensity of the humanitarian tragedy caused by landmines requires every nation to have the moral courage to create, explore and seize every opportunity to promote and secure a total international ban as a matter of the utmost urgency.

On various occasions, representatives of the Government have stated that as Ireland does not produce landmines and does not stockpile them, a unilateral ban would be irrelevant in the Irish context. There is a high level of awareness among the general population in Ireland of the devastating effects of landmines in countries like Cambodia, Angola, Afghanistan and Mozambique. This House would represent the wishes of our people in bringing forward a unilateral ban on landmines. We must take a moral stand and we must support the victims of landmines.

In bringing forward this Fianna Fáil Bill, it is worth remembering that, as I outlined in our recent Foreign Affairs policy document Our Place in the World, for an island nation on the edge of mainland Europe with a relatively small population, Ireland's influence on [286] world affairs has been hugely disproportionate to its size. Over the decades we have earned the world's respect for our values, culture, our clear statements on foreign policy and positions taken in relation to same. Fianna Fáil believes that what we must do now is utilise our respected position to demonstrate the path which should be followed by world governments. We believe that Ireland, especially in view of the forthcoming EU presidency, should not let the opportunity to deal effectively with the landmines issue fall from its grasp.

In seeking support for this Private Members' Bill this evening, I recognise there may be room for improvement in its drafting. For example, the question of the level of sanctions will have to be agreed on Committee Stage. I hope we will be able to accept Second Stage and work on improving its drafting and other areas so that it will have all party support on Committee Stage.

In conclusion, I thank once again the NGOs which are familiar through their work with this hugely important issue. I thank them for their help, support and assistance in the preparation of this Bill and I call on the Tánaiste and the Government for all-party support for this non-controversial political measure which would have the support of our people as a whole.

Mr. M. Kitt: Information on Michael P. Kitt Zoom on Michael P. Kitt I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill proposed by the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Deputy Ray Burke. I am well aware that the Government has ratified the Convention on Inhumane Weapons but I was somewhat disappointed that there was little mention of landmines in the White Paper on Foreign Affairs. There was but one and a half pages devoted to the subject in chapter 6 of the White Paper, which related to disarmament and arms control. This issue should have been addressed in a more complete way.

In a policy document, Our Place in the World, Deputy Ray Burke gave much more prominence in a shorter [287] document to the whole question of land-mines. He stated that an outright worldwide ban on the manufacture, sale, export and stockpiling of all types of anti-personnel landmines within three years should be a central objective of Irish foreign policy and I support that call.

More than 100,000 million mines have been laid around the world, most of them in poor and developing countries. They claim at least 12,000 lives per year, up to 85 per cent of which are children, in countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia and Angola. Despite this two million mines per year are being planted while 100,000 mines are taken out of action each year. Ireland should take the lead in this regard by introducing legislation to ban the manufacture and export of landmines, which is what we are proposing in this Bill.

I have had numerous requests from many organisations, particularly the NGOs, to try to introduce legislation to ban anti-personnel landmines in particular. Pax Christi has pressed strongly for the promotion of a unilateral ban on anti-personnel landmines and it hopes there will be Government support for this Bill. Certainly, if we could achieve that, Ireland would be associated with the other states which have renounced the use of landmines, such as Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Philippines, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

It is worth noting that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, has described the problem of anti-personnel land-mines as a global crisis. He stated that we must eliminate landmines once and for all, ban their use and production, and destroy those which are stockpiled. As a non-nuclear State, Ireland can be a prime mover as in the past with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Ireland is in a unique position to help make the world mine-free.

The chairman of the executive committee of Trócaire, Bishop Kirby, has launched a crusade to try to impose a ban on landmines. He visited countries [288] such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola and Rwanda, where he saw the effects of landmines. He has described land-mines “as fighters that never miss, strike blindly and go on killing long after hostilities have ended. In short, mines are the greatest violators of international humanitarian law; they are the most ruthless of terrorists”. That is a very accurate description of landmines.

There are different types of landmine. Some are high-explosive anti-tank mines designed to destroy tanks and large vehicles while others are smaller anti-personnel mines designed specifically to kill or maim people. Some of the latter can be set off by a child treading on a pressure switch or picking it up. These low cost plastic mines come in the shape of butterflies or toys and children are often their victims.

Trócaire states that 45 countries have been involved in producing and exporting landmines. Sadly, these include a number of Ireland's EU comember states, namely Italy, Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, the UK, Portugal and Spain. I hope the issue can be taken up at EU level and pressure can be brought to bear on those countries. Other countries involved in the production and export of landmines include the USA, China, Egypt, the former Soviet Union, Iraq, Pakistan and the former Yugoslavia.

According to Trócaire, there are between 80 and 110 million landmines in the ground or one for every 50 people. While it costs just $3 to buy certain types of landmines, the cost of removing them may be as high as $1,000. Using the most conservative estimate, the total expenditure required to rid the world of landmines is in the region of $33 billion. That is an indication of what is facing us.

Most of these mines are located in developing countries with a total of 64 countries having recorded landmines. Countries with the highest concentration of landmines include Afghanistan and Cambodia. In Africa, the countries most affected include Angola, Mozambique and Somalia.

[289] Bishop Kirby's figures on Cambodia are shocking, particularly when he states that there is a landmine for every citizen. Consequently, Cambodia has the highest percentage of landmine injuries in the world. Let us consider it this way, one mine for every man, woman and child in Ireland.

Last year, I understand UN funds for humanitarian aid totalled $2.5 billion and much of this was spent in 13 countries severely affected by mines. The sum of $70 million was spent on clearing 100,000 mines while two million mines were planted simultaneously, which cost $1.4 billion to clear. This is probably the most ironic situation of all. While we are spending money to clear mines, more money is being spent planting new ones.

Landmines are the biggest obstacle to development in a number of countries. Unless they are cleared and completely banned, there is no hope of socio-economic progress. The Irish Government must continue its pressure within the EU to ban them and must provide the badly needed funding to remove them. In recent years, Irish aid has focused on countries such as Cambodia, and, to a lesser extent, Mozambique.

The idea of the ban has been promoted by the NGOs, particularly Trócaire and Pax Christi, to which I pay tribute. These organisations have stressed the need to press for the expansion in the scope of the convention to cover landmines used for internal conflicts, and 90 per cent of landmine victims are as a result of internal conflicts. A system for monitoring and verifying the convention must also be put in place. It is most important that the convention be regularly reviewed and I hope this could be done every three to five years.

I support Deputy Burke's Bill and hope it will be accepted.

[290]Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): Information on Dick Spring Zoom on Dick Spring The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, has aptly described anti-personnel landmines as “weapons of mass destruction in slow motion”. In a strongly worded message of disappointment to the closing session of the Inhumane Weapons Convention Review Conference last Friday, the Secretary General reiterated his view that the impact of these weapons is so appalling, so devastating, that a total ban on all anti-personnel landmines is the only solution. That, the Secretary General said, must be the aim of the next review conference which is to be held in five years time.

Since the beginning of the review process, Ireland has been in the forefront of countries advocating a comprehensive international ban on anti-personnel landmines. We co-operated closely at the Conference with States Parties, both within and without the European Union, advocating a total ban. Very regrettably, the support of many other countries for a total ban on anti-personnel landmines was not fully brought to bear on the negotiations, simply because they are not states parties to the convention.

From what I have said so far this evening, as well as on previous occasions, the House will know that the Government shares the objectives of the Bill before us. As is clearly stated in the White Paper on Foreign Policy, the Government is totally opposed to the indiscriminate nature, production, stockpiling, use and trade of anti-personnel landmines. We have consistently pressed for this objective in every appropriate international forum available to us. The devastating effects of landmines and their horrific humanitarian consequences make it imperative that we pursue with determination our efforts to obtain an international ban on landmines. The position we seek to advance internationally reflects our domestic policy and practice, which I will set out in detail later in my statement.

[291] However, I must first address the Bill before the House. For reasons which I will outline shortly, it is totally unnecessary. More than that, it is appallingly badly drafted legislation, which could not be allowed to see the light of day in anything like its present form. This Bill is so poorly drafted that if it were passed unamended, it would have the effect of legalising the holding and use of land-mines by any armed force which called itself Irish. In his attempt to exempt the Defence Forces, Deputy Burke has allowed in the version of the Bill before the House any Irish armed force to maintain land-mines for training purposes.

If that kind of drafting was the only problem with the Bill, we could correct it easily enough, but the Bill goes further. It seeks to impose an obligation on the Minister for Foreign Affairs which would be entirely outside my remit — to prohibit the manufacture of landmines. However, the Bill fails to make landmines illegal in the jurisdiction. It fails to create any offences or any penalties for breaches of the law. It fails to give any powers to the police or the DPP in respect of the manufacture of landmines. It does not even define a landmine properly.

Ministers for Foreign Affairs for the future would be obliged by the Bill to prohibit something from happening in our jurisdiction which, nevertheless, would remain legal. Ministers would be obliged to police this legal activity and impose some kind of invisible sanction on anyone carrying it out. It is not now, and never has been, an appropriate function of a Government Minister to create criminal offences. That is rightly the job of the Oireachtas and the purpose of Bills like this. It is not a purpose that is likely to be achieved by scribbling down our first thoughts on the back of an envelope and calling it legislation.

These are more than details. New legislation to ban landmines would require careful work, and far more work than has been done here. It would also [292] be work appropriate to the Department of Justice, which since the foundation of the State has had responsibility for controlling explosives. It is also, as I said, unnecessary, not only because no one in Ireland manufactures or exports these evil weapons, but also because we already have a legislative framework in place which is more than adequate to ensure that the activities which the Bill proposes to prohibit never take place. It consists of the Explosives Act, 1875, and the Control of Exports Acts, 1983. I propose to deal with these separately.

Under the Explosives Act, 1875, the Minister for Justice regulates activities related to civilian explosives. The production, stockpiling and importation of landmines are already subject to licence. There is no current licence to manufacture landmines in Ireland and it is understood that no such licence has ever been sought. It seems clear that the Minister for Justice would also have power under the Explosives Act to refuse licences to procure or repair land-mines. In our circumstances, because we do not manufacture landmines, procurement is the same as import. Under section 43 of the Act, if considered necessary, the Minister for Justice is empowered to make regulations prohibiting the manufacture, keeping, importation, or sale of any explosive of a particularly dangerous character.

I am pleased to tell the House that the Government has authorised the Minister for Justice to make an order under the Explosives Act, 1875, expressly banning the manufacture, keeping, importation and sale of land-mines. This order will have precisely the same legal effects as is intended by the Bill before the House.

The Control of Exports Act, 1983, permits the Minister for Tourism and Trade to make the export of goods other than agricultural or fishery products subject to a licence issued by him. The control of Exports Order, 1983, made the export of explosives, among other things, subject to licence. The Department of Tourism and Trade, as the export licensing authority, upon [293] advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs, adheres to a policy of refusing any licence to export landmines. An amendment of the 1983 order is currently under preparation in another context. It has been agreed that the amended order, which will replace broad generic descriptions of military goods with a specific and detailed military list, will include landmines specifically, as well as other types of explosives.

The Defence Forces are exempt from the provisions of the Explosives Act, 1875. Any hindrance to procurement of anti-personnel landmines for this purpose could have a negative effect on the ability of the Defence Forces to discharge its responsibilities in international peace-keeping missions. The House will agree that it is important to avoid any action which could have unintended negative effects in an area of Ireland's international engagement — peace-keeping — of which the country is justly proud.

The Irish Defence Forces at present use anti-personnel landmines only for mine clearance training purposes, not for operational use. Nevertheless, as a further indication of its serious commitment to the elimination of these weapons, the Government has requested the Minister for Defence to conduct an urgent policy review on the role of land-mines, especially anti-personnel land-mines, in its current policy and practice, with a view to renouncing for all time the operational use of anti-personnel landmines by the Defence Forces. I know that Members have views on some additional issues that might be included in such a review, and I look forward to hearing them.

With these measures in place, Ireland, which has never manufactured land-mines, and which leads the international fight against them, can now say that we have put the legally binding measures in place to ensure that these weapons never emanate from here, and that they will never form a part of any military strategy we pursue. We should perhaps also acknowledge that the [294] international campaign in this area is gathering momentum. The amended Protocol on landmines to which I referred earlier, which was incorporated in the Inhumane Weapons Convention on 3 May does, in certain respects, represent an advance on the original 1980 instrument.

The scope of the Protocol now extends to internal conflicts, where the most serious problems caused by the indiscriminate use of landmines have arisen. The Protocol bans the use of non-detectable anti-personnel land-mines, thereby reversing the trend of recent decades towards non-detectable devices. All anti-personnel landmines must have incorporated in them a material or device that enables the mine to be detected by commonly available technical mine detection equipment. This provision should greatly assist the essential mine clearance work that will need to be carried out after future conflicts.

It includes new technical restrictions on long-lived mines. While the reliability standards imposed on selfdestructing and self-deactivating anti-personnel landmines will not diminish the threat posed to civilians by remotely delivered anti-personnel landmines during conflicts, they will limit the duration of that threat.

It affords stronger protection to UN peace-keeping missions, whose commanders will be entitled to receive from the parties to a conflict comprehensive information on mines and minefields which they have laid. In view of Ireland's participation in numerous UN peace-keeping operations, I welcome these improvements. More limited protections are granted to United Nations humanitarian and fact-finding missions and to missions of the International Committee of the Red Cross. While inadequate, these represent a step in the right direction. Importantly, it introduces a ban on the transfer of prohibited mines, with immediate effect, and generally restricts transfers to states which accept the constraints of the new instrument. The amended Protocol [295] imposes an obligation on states to take penal sanctions against individuals who seriously violate its provisions.

The final declaration of the conference records agreement that the next review conference should be convened in 2001 and that future review conferences should be held more frequently, with consideration to be given to holding a review conference every five years. Overall, however, and despite these advances, the outcome of the review conference was deeply disappointing. The impact of the practical steps I have just enumerated is seriously weakened by a profusion of qualification and exemptions which has justifiably provoked severe criticism of the amended Protocol. It is particularly deplorable that the ban on non-detectable landmines may not take full effect immediately upon entry into force.

Ireland and her EU partners argued strongly against such a delay during which no meaningful constraints with respect to detectability would apply. However, certain states parties which hold large stocks of non-detectable anti-personnel landmines, China foremost among them, insisted on the option of declaring they would defer compliance with the new rule for up to nine years after entry into force.

Against this background, the agreement of all states parties, China and Russia included, that they will refrain from transferring non-detectable anti-personnel landmines pending entry into force, that is with immediate effect, is nevertheless important. It is the one provision of the new Protocol which stands to bring immediate benefit in halting the further dissemination on non-complying mines.

Despite widespread disappointment with the meagre results of the review conference, one positive effect was the undoubted impetus it gave to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. At the start of the review process, Ireland was one of only a handful of countries calling for an international ban on anti-personnel landmines. On 30 [296] April 1996, the international campaign listed 34 states as calling for a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel land-mines and this figure does not include all those which have made policy announcements on the matter to date. The House will wish to be aware of some of the more telling reverals of previous policy which this figure of 34 covers.

Belgium, formerly a major producer, legislated to ban the production, use and export of anti-personnel landmines in January 1994. This was supplemented last week by legislation on the destruction of stockpiles. Canada announced on 17 January of this year that it declared comprehensive moratoria on the production, export and operational use of anti-personnel landmines.

The Netherlands Minister for Defence announced on 15 March, following a through policy review, a decision to ban the use of anti-personnel landmines by the Netherlands' armed forces. The Netherlands' armed forces are destroying all their anti-personnel landmines with the exception of a small number that will be kept in stock for research and training purposes. The Netherlands subsequently extended its export moratorium to apply comprehensively to all recipients and announced it would also prohibit the production of anti-personnel landmines.

In April, on the eve of the final session of the review conference, Germany announced its indefinite and unconditional renunciation of the use, stockpiling and procurement of anti-personnel landmines and the orderly destruction of all stocks held by its armed forces. Germany had earlier extended indefinitely its moratorium on the export of anti-personnel landmines. On 15 April, Australia announced a unilateral suspension of the operational use of anti-personnel landmines by the Australian defence forces, adding that Australia does not produce and will not export landmines and that existing stocks would be used for training and research purposes only.

The United Kingdom on 23 April [297] extended the scope of its export moratorium to prohibit the export of all anti-personnel landmines to all destinations and announced that the UK would work actively towards a total worldwide ban on anti-personnel landmines. On 3 May the UK made clear that the announced destruction of almost half its current sockpile would be without replacement. Remaining stocks will be used in the future only if Ministers, in exceptional circumstances, consider that no alternative exists to protect British troops.

A total of around 50 countries — including many of the 34 countries which support a total ban on anti-personnel landmines — have either prohibited the export of anti-personnel landmines or operate moratoria on their export. In time, such restraint on the side of most of the known major exporters of these weapons in the past is bound to reduce the glut of cheap anti-personnel landmines which gave rise to irresponsible use on an appalling scale in the past decade.

Another review conference of this Convention will take place in five year's time. By that date, according to the message of its Secretary General, the UN estimates that an additional 50,000 human beings will have been killed and a further 80,000 injured by landmines; and that between ten and 25 million more landmines will have been added to the 110 million already uncleared.

There is no denying that the amended Protocol adopted on this occasion failed miserably to reflect the groundswell of public opinion throughout the world. It failed the hundreds of thousands of mine victims. The International Committee of the Red Cross had deeply regretted that, for the first time in a humanitarian law treaty, measures have been adopted which, instead of entirely prohibiting the use of an indiscriminate weapon, both permit its continued use and implicitly promote the use of new models which, in the view of the ICRC, will have virtually the same effects, at least in the short term. This is a grave criticism indeed, coming as it does from an impeccable source and one which [298] enjoyed a special status throughout the negotiations.

It behoves those who are the most disappointed to be the most determined. A basis for future progress is in place, within the amended Protocol and without. As I have indicated, attitudes towards anti-personnel landmines within the EU are evolving rapidly.

During the period of the Irish Presidency, we will endeavour to pursue an enhanced and updated EU joint action on anti-personnel landmines. An informal network of Governments and NGOs committed to working for a total ban is now developing. In this context, the initiative taken by Canada to convene a meeting of supporters of a total ban in Ottawa in September is timely and most welcome.

In summary, we are acting now, within the framework of laws already available, to place a legal ban for all time on the manufacture, use or export of these evil weapons. The actions we are taking will be far more effective than tying up the resources of the Oireachtas in producing new and unnecessary legislation.

I have been critical of the drafting of this Bill but I thank Deputy Burke and his party for bringing the subject before the House. It has been useful and constructive in principle, and it has been effective in ensuring rapid Government action. I hope he will agree that the mixture of Opposition initiative and considered Government response has produced the right result.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent In 1982, a man I read about called Reth, a 34 year old from Battambang, stepped on——

Acting Chairman: Does the Deputy wish to share his time?

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley The Progressive Democrats Party has 20 minutes now and we agreed to give five minutes of it to Deputy Sargent.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent I am glad that has been clarified.

[299] In 1982, Reth, a 34 year old man, stepped on a mine and both his legs were rendered useless by the explosion. He was later found by a reconnaissance party whom he begged for an axe so he could cut of the dead weight of his legs. Left alone to die Reth managed to chop one leg and then dragged himself across the minefield. When he regained consciousness in hospital both his legs had been amputated. The patients on either side died within two days, which gave him more resolve to fight for his life. He stayed in hospital for four months, being allowed only two aspirin a day to stem the pain. Reth was repatriated to Cambodia from the Thai border camps in 1993. Today he designs wheelchairs and is the happy father of six children.

What we are discussing is far more tragic than any matter which could be raised at constituency level. The figures are well known. There are an estimated 500 victims of landmines a week, 80 per cent of whom are children, according to a Polish study. There are between 80 and 110 million landmines contaminating 64 countries. The cost of clearing all these is an estimated $33 billion, although it only cost $3 to buy a landmine.

It is clear conventions have not been effective, although they have resulted in strong resolve and determined effort. The inhumane weapons convention, for example, has not put an end to land-mines. We are beginning now to see unilateral actions from countries. Belgium, in March 1995 voted unanimously for a ban. On 2 April 1996 the Netherlands unanimously passed a resolution in favour of a ban in its parliament. Norway has also unilaterally declared a legal ban. Tonight Ireland has a chance to send a message to the world by its vote. It is important that message be clear. That is why I worry if the Government votes against this Bill, there will not be a clear message that the ban will be unilateral here.

I welcome the fact that the Tánaiste has mentioned a number of resolutions and changes which are designed to [300] strengthen Ireland's position in favour of a ban. However, NGOs, Governments and parliamentarians around the world involved in the same campaign would be helped all the more if the Dáil voted unilaterally on such a measure, as happened in Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. That is why it is important for us to achieve a unanimous vote on such a ban.

The Bill is not perfect, a number of amendments have already been alluded to and I could think of more. However, would it be possible to overlook the imperfection so that we could try to have a united front? The legislation already in place — the 1875 Explosives Act and the 1983 Control of Exports Act — has the effect that we cannot impose a ban as long as the Government's views remain as they are. It is a matter of policy rather than law when one has the discretion of granting a licence. It could be stronger and we should try to establish that. I realise there will be changes so we will wait and see.

Amendments could be made to Deputy Burke's Bill and I would like that to happen. We could perhaps change it quite radically on Committee Stage. At least we should present a united front.

I have already tabled amendments which I though might have been of use. I understand that the Department of Foreign Affairs is not the only Department that would be dealing with this matter so the Bill probably needs to be changed in that regard. It needs to be changed so that the Army can continue to train in disarming and dismantling landmines. As the Tánaiste mentioned, the penalties also need to be changed.

Ireland has a precedent for adopting a unilateral position, and Deputy Burke referred to Frank Aiken. The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention is another example where we tried to act unilaterally and it was welcome by all concerned.

How many letters has the Department of Foreign Affairs received about this? I have received dozens. I would [301] like an answer to that question. Replies should be sent to everyone who wrote letters so that they at least could have some message of peace in their hands. That would be all the stronger if it were as a result of a unanimous vote in this House.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley I listened with great interest to what the Tánaiste had to say and his approach is the correct one. I am sure everyone in this House supports the objective of the Bill that Deputy Burke has introduced but, for the reasons stated, it is clearly unworkable. I pointed this out some time ago to a delegation of organisations interested in this topic. The Bill should have been withdrawn and replaced with one that prohibits the manufacture, import, export, sale or stockpiling of these appalling weapons.

I cannot understand why this Bill was introduced in its current terms because it does not create any offence and would be totally unworkable. A Minister cannot prohibit something; it must be prohibited by legislation passed by the Oireachtas and cannot be done otherwise. What the Tánaiste has said and what the Government proposes to do is adequate to cover the situation fully.

To the best of my recollection the Firearms Act, 1971 includes provisions concerning explosives. At the time we had many difficulties regarding explosives and various powers were introduced to compel manufacturers of explosives to number and colour them depending on where they were made and for what purpose. Indelible dyes and such things were also to be used. Technology has moved on since then and what we used to call industrial explosives — which were the main cause of the problem in those days — do not seem to be used much anymore.

Home-made explosives are now used which have a fertiliser base. Semtex is also used and is far more dangerous than any industrial explosive. Hopefully, semtex will not be replaced but we cannot do very much about home-made explosives. At the time we banned the [302] more obvious forms of fertiliser. Fertiliser now has to be mixed in a different way but it is impossible to prevent its use as an explosive.

I welcome the proposal to make an order under the 1875 Act and an order under the 1983 Act which hopefully will cover the situation in full. I did not know this was going to be announced and I did not have an opportunity to look at those Acts before coming into the House. I will check them after the debate but, on the face of it, it seems that those powers are there. The 1875 Act, as amended in 1971, would have powers to prohibit the use of specific explosives and this is clearly one of them.

I share the Government's disappointment at the outcome of last week's conference in Geneva. It seems extraordinary that countries meeting for the purpose of considering a weapon should fail to agree on anything meaningful. The main component of the Protocol is that they will meet again in five years' time to consider it further, but how many thousands will die and how many tens of thousands will be maimed in the meantime? I find it hard to enthuse about something where the best that can be said of it is, as the Tánaiste mentioned, that it “stands to bring immediate benefit in halting the further dissemination of non-complying mines”.

In other words, there are such things as complying mines. It will be perfectly legal for the next five years at least to disseminate what are called complying mines throughout the world without any hindrance. How many thousands of people will be killed by complying mines? These will apparently contain some form of metal to enable them to be detected by a conventional mine detector. How is an unfortunate woman or child in Cambodia, Bosnia, Mozambique, Angola or other place afflicted with these accursed things to know that there is a bit of metal in the landmine they are about to walk on? What difference does it make to them?

They have no option but to walk on their land, around their village or to the [303] local well for water. They either till their crops or they starve. It is no consolation to say, as was stated at the recent Geneva conference, that any new mines will be complying ones. Countries that are outraged by this, such as Ireland, should seek to have this conference reconvened much earlier than 2001. Canada is trying to do that in September in Ottawa and it should be given every support. Hopefully, the conference will result in emergency action being taken to stop this.

If no further land mines were laid down from this day forward, the world would still have a most awful problem in the four countries mentioned and to a lesser extent in other places. Terrible suffering has been inflicted on the unfortunate people of Cambodia. We are more familiar with Bosnia because it is part of Europe and nearer to us. That unhappy country is littered with not merely thousands but millions of these awful mines and it is appalling that it will still be lawful to lay them over the next five years. China says it has large stockpiles and that since it is a big industry it must be facilitated. It is unspeakable that others have agreed to that. National delegations would have been better off to walk out of the Geneva conference rather than sign this.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke The Irish Government could have walked out.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley I do not know why the EU decided it would abide by this shameful Protocol. The words of the International Committee of the Red Cross carry a great deal of weight and a large element of truth. It regrets that:

for the first time in a humanitarian law, treaty measures have been adopted which, instead of entirely prohibiting the use of an indiscriminate weapon, both permit its continued use and implicitly promote the use of new models which, in the view [304] of the ICRC, will have virtually the same effect, at least in the short-term.

That this should be the case in 1996 is deplorable. In this matter, world nations think they must move at the speed of the slowest ship in the convoy, which is unacceptable. Countries such as China and Russia want to drag their feet for their own commercial reasons but the rest of the world should not put up with it. These weapons are every bit as damaging and indiscriminately dangerous to a civilian population as chemical weapons, which are universally banned.

The awful feature of land mines is that they have no military usefulness or purpose. Professional soldiers say they are of little value or import. They are laid on a wide scale and 99.9 per cent of the casualties are civilians, most of whom are women, children and other totally defenceless people trying to go about their normal daily tasks.

During the Irish Presidency, I hope the Government encourages the EU to take a more active and concerned view of this awful problem than the one taken in Geneva in recent weeks, which was unsatisfactory and unacceptable. We have never had, used or made these mines and one hopes that, as a result of the two orders being made, we never will do so. The only land mines we have here are a small number which are used to train soldiers in clearing mined areas.

In that context, NGOs which are concerned with this problem say there is a huge need throughout the world for trained personnel to work in and clear mined areas. The best such personnel are current, former or retired soldiers and the Irish Government could make a major contribution if it facilitated and encouraged our soldiers to volunteer for this, because no humanitarian work could be more valuable.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry Zoom on Peter Barry It is being done.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton That is happening at the moment.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley It is disappointing that [305] technology advances so rapidly in the design and manufacture of these awful things but has not advanced at anything like the same pace in developing methods to get rid of them. It would be marvellous if a laser beam or a similar electronic device could be developed to sweep an area, cause the mines to explode and render the area safe for the civilian population so that people do not have to go through it inch by inch.

It is appalling that for a significant number of years to come it will be lawful to lay more of these mines. They should be outlawed now by international agreement and our Government, when it has the EU Presidency, should seek to use the Ottawa conference in September to ensure that definite and concrete steps are taken to bring forward their total and permanent abolition. Like the Tánaiste, I am glad Deputy Burke introduced this Bill, because if he had not the Government might not have taken these steps. The Bill is defective but that is beside the point, because everyone in this House and in the country is united behind its purpose. I hope the orders the Tánaiste referred to will be made without delay and publicised. I hope it is made clear, both here and abroad, that making these orders under the relevant Acts has exactly the same effect as primary legislation, so that if we do not pass legislation we are no less determined than other countries which have done so.

Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I wish to share my time with the Minister of State, Deputy Burton.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Leonard): Information on James Leonard Zoom on James Leonard Is that agreed? Agreed.

Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I thank the Minister for facilitating me. Many people have expressed views about the horrific effect of land mines on innocent populations. Everyone has expressed horror at this during the debate.

The contribution of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Spring, was excellent, but I congratulate Deputy [306] Ray Burke for introducing this Bill. Despite its flaws, he should be congratulated for raising this issue and for allowing us to debate it. I welcome the Government's prompt and comprehensive response which accurately reflects the people's view on this issue.

At present up to 100 million land-mines are scattered in conflict and former conflict zones throughout the world. Landmines are the perfect killers in that they are indiscriminate and effective weapons which cost a few pence to manufacture, £1 to plant and hundreds of pounds to deactivate and remove. The random planting of landmines is the late 20th century's equivalent of the scorched earth policy used in the last century. For years after a conflict has ended, agricultural workers and farmers must play Russian roulette each time they attempt to sow or harvest a crop. It is hard to imagine ploughing a field full of landmines, but it happens each day.

Despite the horror of landmines, the international community has been remarkably slow to ban this lethal trade. The recent UN agreement reached in Geneva is a masterpiece of diplomatic fudging. A comprehensive and immediate global ban on the production, trade, supply and use of landmines or their component parts seems as far away as ever.

Apart from the welcome regulations we are now introducing, we must examine from whom we buy for our Defence Forces. We must remove companies who manufacture goods, whether land-mines or their components, from any commercial competition in relation to supplying our Defence Forces. We should use something which will hurt them most — money — and exclude them from any trade with this country. I agree with Deputy O'Malley who said that landmines should only be used in this country for training purposes.

A fund is available for the deactivation of landmines throughout the world, but it is under-resourced. We are not doing enough in this regard. We must ensure the technology used for the [307] development of landmines is used to develop equipment which will sweep and clear areas of landmines. I welcome the Minister's statement and I hope other countries will follow suit.

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ms Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton If we are to address the landmines issue with honesty, it is only with concerted international action and binding international treaties that we will eliminate the scourge of landmines. The most significant advance in the anti-landmines campaign in recent weeks has been the call for a review of landmines policy by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashvilli. While thousands die or are maimed by land-mines in the developing world, it is a sober fact that it was the tragic deaths of three British soldiers in a landmine explosion in Bosnia which forced the change of heart and caused the British Government and many of our EU partners to review their positions.

When I attended the start of the review conference on the Inhumane Weapons Convention in Vienna in September 1995, I was one of only five Ministers calling for a total ban. At the end of that review conference 23 countries supported a total ban. While the outcome of that conference was very disappointing for us, nevertheless, the campaign has moved forward. Ireland's leading and unequivocal position has been effective in giving pace and momentum to the movement for a total ban. I intend to continue to take a leading position on the issue in every available international forum.

As everyone knows, we do not manufacture landmines. I have comprehensively examined the options available to us to ensure that no such manufacture occurs. The current legislation ensures that manufacture and export cannot take place without a licence. The Bill before us today, while well intentioned, does not provide any further safeguards.

The landmine campaign must be about effective legislation, not gesture [308] politics. The package we are proposing, an order under the Explosives Act and a comprehensive policy review by the Department of Defence, will be much more effective and I ask the Opposition to accept that. The Explosives Act provides a mechanism for enforcement which is totally absent from the Fianna Fáil Bill. It can cover the manufacture of parts which, again, is not addressed in the Bill. If we want to effectively prohibit the manufacture of landmines, such manufacture has to be a criminal offence. The Bill creates no such offence and gives no role to the normal criminal process. The Explosives Act mechanism provides for criminal procedures and sanctions.

A legislative ban on the manufacture of landmines in Ireland is a small, but significant, step in the international anti-landmines campaign. In conjunction with the relevant NGOs, I want to pursue this campaign in the context of the coherence of international aid policies and disarmament.

We have the ridiculous situation at present where, for example, in Angola, considerable amounts of money are being donated towards demining while at the same time further mines are being planted. We also have the situation where aid donors are effectively negativing their aid efforts by their policies on arms manufacturing. As the developed countries are beginning to take a stand on landmines, if not on other arms manufacturing, the manufacture of landmines is moving towards the Third World.

Our Presidency of the EU and the renegotiation of the Lomé Convention give us an opportunity, which I as Minister with responsibility for development intend to exploit, to ensure that there is some coherence between aid and armaments policy. This is the greatest challenge facing policy makers on overseas aid. I will be looking towards the NGO community for assistance in creating public awareness and political pressure to bring about this desirable coherence.

Like the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I commend Fianna Fáil's efforts in [309] introducing this Bill. I ask it to accept that the package we put forward is a comprehensive response to a lot of detailed research and consideration on the best way to introduce a completely effective ban and on the review of the position of the Department of Defence on landmines. That is important not only for our Army, but for armies throughout the world and I hope it will set a precendent.

Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I would like to state my abhorrence of landmines. I am disappointed that the point of the Bill has been missed. Nobody in this House believes we will manufacture landmines but this is not the point at issue. We need a simple Bill so that when we go to our international partners we can say “this is what we have done, now you do the same”. I have no doubt that the Irish Army will not buy or lay land-mines tomorrow. According to the Minister, we will say in international fora that we have made orders under the Explosives Act, 1875, and another Act instead of saying we have passed legislation and that other countries, beginning with EU members, should follow our lead. I regret that the Government has not supported this Bill. This would have been a clear statement that we abhor the manufacture and use of landmines.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke I thank Deputy Ó Cuív and others who spoke in support of this Bill. It is a matter of regret to me that the Government has missed the whole point of this Bill. It is a clear statement of the moral stance of the Irish Government on an international ban on land-mines. The Tánaiste stated that the Bill should not see the light of day in its present form. He stated that it involved “scribbling down our first thoughts on the back of an envelope and calling it legislation”. The preparation of the Bill involved us working with NGOs and their assistants. They are not the type of people who scribble things on the backs of envelopes and the drafting of this Bill did not involve this. In introducing the [310] Bill I recognised there was room for improvement in its drafting and that the level of sanctions would have to be agreed on Committee Stage.

What is the Government going to do? The Tánaiste stated, “During the period of the Irish Presidency, we will endeavour to pursue an enhanced and updated EU joint action on anti-personnel land-mines”. He will be in a wonderful position because he will be able to tell his colleagues in Europe that we have amended the Explosives Act, 1875, to expressly ban the manufacture of land-mines, that the Department of Tourism and Trade has amended an order relating to export licensing made under the Control of Exports Act, 1983, and that this amended order will replace broad generic descriptions of military goods with a specific and detailed list and will include landmines specifically, as well as other types of explosives. This is riveting and I am sure the Tánaiste's colleagues in Europe will hang on his every word. The Minister of State, Deputy Burton, stated that the landmine campaign is about effective legislation, not gesture politics. It is not gesture politics when we are talking about the types and numbers of people involved. I welcome the fact that these orders are to be made but why must they be dragged out of the Government by a Fianna Fáil Bill?

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton They are not being dragged out.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke The Tánaiste missed the whole point by stating, “The actions we are taking will be far more effective than tying up the resources of the Oireachtas in producing new and unnecessary legislation”. It is totally necessary that we have a clear moral statement from the Irish people and Parliament that we are prohibiting anti-personnel landmines. The Bill could be improved on Committee Stage.

According to a recent newspaper article, Deputy Kathleen Lynch of Democratic Left called on the Minister for Defence to ban the companies which make deadly landmines from supplying [311] the Defence Forces and to take a stand against landmines. She said a ban would send a clear message that Ireland is not prepared to support the lethal trade in landmines. We need a clear statement which represents the view of the Irish people on these horrendous weapons. There are over 110 million of them in the ground. They are going into the ground at the rate of two million to five million a year. Children not yet born will be killed by existing landmines. We are failing as a world society to clear landmines and we are continuing to plant them.

I welcome the fact that we have dragged some action from the Government on this issue. However, it is relying on an 1875 Act and other legislation and on reviews in the Defence Forces instead of making a clear statement on behalf of the Irish people, who have been generous in their contributions to NGOs who work in many of the Third World countries in which these mines exist. We need a clear statement from our Government and Parliament as to where the Irish people stand on this issue. Instead, orders are to be made under legislation from another era.

Why did the Tánaiste merely state, “the initiative taken by Canada to convene a meeting of supporters of a total [312] ban in Ottawa in September is timely and most welcome”? What are the Government and the Irish EU Presidency going to do about this problem? Many of the landmines which are killing and maiming children around the world are manufactured in the EU. We should persuade member states but we will not do so with orders under an 1875 Act.

Last week debates were dragged out on a number of reports because there was no legislation put forward by the Government for the House to consider. Government Deputies were wheeled in to speak on important issues such as travellers on which they did not want to speak. This primary legislation, which contains a clear moral statement on behalf of the Irish people, is being rejected by the Government. It is making a major mistake. By my own admission the Bill would need amendment on Committee Stage and this could and should be done. Instead, we have a lost opportunity because the Government, for political reasons, refuses to accept a proposal, no matter what its merits are, which comes from the other side of the House. It is as simple and rawly political as this. It is a tragedy that the Government is so short-sighted on an issue which affects mankind to the extent that it does.

Question put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 58; Níl, 68.

Aylward, Liam.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Burke, Raphael P.
Byrne, Hugh.
Callely, Ivor.
Clohessy, Peadar.
Connolly, Ger.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cullen, Martin.
Davern, Noel.
Dempsey, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Ellis, John.
Fitzgerald, Liam.[313]McDaid, James.
McDowell, Michael.
Molloy, Robert.
Morley, P.J.
Moynihan, Donal.
Nolan, M.J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
Fox, Mildred.
Foxe, Tom.
Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
Gregory, Tony.
Haughey, Seán.
Hilliard, Colm M.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Keogh, Helen.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael P.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Leonard, Jimmy.
Martin, Micheál.
McCreevy, Charlie.[314]O'Leary, John.
O'Malley, Desmond J.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Quill, Máirín.
Sargent, Trevor.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Walsh, Joe.
Woods, Michael.

Níl

Ahearn, Theresa.
Allen, Bernard.
Barrett, Seán.
Barry, Peter.
Bhamjee, Moosajee.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Bhreathnach, Niamh.
Bree, Declan.
Broughan, Tommy.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, Richard.
Burke, Liam.
Burton, Joan.
Byrne, Eric.
Carey, Donal.
Costello, Joe.
Coveney, Hugh.
Crawford, Seymour.
Creed, Michael.
Crowley, Frank.
Currie, Austin.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Dukes, Alan M.
Durkan, Bernard J.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
Fitzgerald, Brian.
Fitzgerald, Eithne.
Fitzgerald, Frances.
Flaherty, Mary.
Gallagher, Pat (Laoighis-Offaly).
Gilmore, Eamon.
Harte, Paddy.
Higgins, Jim.
Hogan, Philip.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kemmy, Jim.
Kenny, Seán.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McDowell, Derek.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.
Nealon, Ted.
Noonan, Michael (Limerick East).
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Toddy.
Owen, Nora.
Pattison, Séamus.
Penrose, William.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, John.
Ryan, Seán.
Sheehan, P.J.
Shortall, Róisín.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Upton, Pat.
Walsh, Eamon.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies D. Ahern and Callely; Níl, Deputies J. Higgins and B. Fitzgerald.

Question declared lost.


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