Dáil Éireann - Volume 361 - 21 November, 1985
Anglo-Irish Agreement 1985: Motion (Resumed).
The following motion was moved by the Taoiseach on Tuesday, 19 November 1985:
That Dáil Éireann hereby approves the terms of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985, between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom which was signed at Hillsborough, Co. Down, on 15th November, 1985 and copies of which have been laid before Dáil Éireann.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“having regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland;
recalling the unanimous Declaration of Dáil Éireann adopted on the joint proposition of An Taoiseach, John A. Costello and the Leader of the Opposition, Eamon de Valera, on 10 May 1949 solemnly reasserting the indefeasible right of the Irish Nation to the unity and integrity of the national territory;
recalling that all the parties in the New Ireland Forum were convinced that a united Ireland in the form of a sovereign independent state would offer the best and most durable basis for peace and stability:
 re-affirming the unanimous conclusion of the Report of the New Ireland Forum that the particular structure of political unity which the Forum would wish to see established is a unitary state achieved by agreement and consent embracing the whole island of Ireland and providing irrevocable guarantees for the protection and preservation of both the unionist and nationalist identities;
while recognising the urgent need that exists for substantial improvement in the situation and circumstances of the nationalist section of the community in the North of Ireland and approving any effective measures which may be undertaken for that purpose, refuses to accept any recognition of British sovereignty over any part of the national territory;
and requests the Government to call upon the British Government to join in convening under the joint auspices of both governments a constitutional conference representative of all the traditions in Ireland to formulate new constitutional arrangements which would lead to uniting all the people of Ireland in peace and harmony”
An Ceann Comhairle Thomas J. (Cavan) Fitzpatrick
An Ceann Comhairle: I am now calling on the concluding speaker for the main Opposition party, Deputy Brian Lenihan, and he will conclude his contribution not later than 4.30 p.m.
Mr. Lenihan Mr. Lenihan
Mr. Lenihan: The Anglo-Irish agreement is a solemn treaty between the two sovereign Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and it is proposed to register this treaty at the United Nations. A major point in this whole matter is that it is a signed treaty and not just a statement of intent or the type of political communique which emanates regularly after meetings of political leaders. It is the treaty which creates binding legal obligations not just for the present but for the future.
 This is of paramount importance in considering Article 1 in which an Irish Government confers legitimacy for the first time on the union of Great Britian and Northern Ireland, in direct conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland, from which the Government and this Oireachtas derive their powers. This cannot be dismissed as a mere legalism, as it has been called in the course of this debate. It is a living, vital fact that operates into the future that unless Article 1 is renegotiated the Irish State and the Government representing that State are precluded from ever raising the issue of Irish unity at any international conference or at any judicial tribunal anywhere in the world. This is not just a matter of harking back in the past. It is the future which is being jeopardised by this treaty, not just the past or the present.
Article 1 also incorporates the guarantee of a Unionist veto over the status of Northern Ireland. This has been rightly identified over the years by all Nationalist leaders of varying political parties and groups as the main stumbling block to any movement in the direction of ultimate unity. It was clearly identified as such in the report of the New Ireland Forum and it is central to the thinking of all the signatories to that Forum report. It is central to the thinking of all constructive Nationalists in this island that the basic blockage to any progress lies in this guarantee to the Unionist population in the North-Eastern part of our island and that guarantee not alone remains but has now been enshrined into a treaty between two sovereign Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland.
To declare that if in the future — this is the saving clause that has been used by the Taoiseach — a majority of the people of Northern Ireland clearly wish for and formally consent to the establishment of a united Ireland, the Governments will then introduce legislation to give effect to that, is a very circumscribed way of making a virtue out of necessity. It is a basic political fact of life. If that situation  ever arose and the majority in the Six County area found themselves in a minority they would obviously be in an untenable position to maintain the union with the neighbouring island. The Government of the United Kingdom would also find themselves in an untenable position.
Therefore, it is superfluous to the main thread of the comments I am making to make a case out of the fact that this is written into Article 1 as if it is in some way an abandonment of our constitutional position. The writing in of British sovereignty over the Six Counties in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Article 1 amounts to a reiteration in treaty form of the veto held by the Unionist population over the Six Counties. That veto which has been rightly condemned as fundamental and central to the maintenance of the artificial hegemony which has existed in that area is now enshrined in treaty form between two Governments and agreed to by our Government contrary to the Constitution from which the Irish Government derive their power to govern in this part of Ireland.
Not only is the Unionist veto guaranteed in Article 1, but further vetoes are written in. The Irish State, for the first time, makes itself a co-guarantor with the British of the Unionist veto. We now find ourselves supporting a veto which we rightly said over the years constituted the main and serious blockage to any talks which might being us along the way to peace, stability and reconciliation. The Irish Government are now prevented from raising this matter in any international fora such as those which I have mentioned and have precluded and inhibited themselves from pursuing this matter with the United Kingdom also.
There is a further veto in Article 1 which intensifies and cements the position as far as Irish Nationalist aspirations are concerned. The United Kingdom, as well as the Irish Government, preclude themselves from interfering with the status of Northern Ireland even if the majority of the United Kingdom electorate wish to have a united Ireland. We now have not just a veto, which was always there, but one enshrined in a treaty  signed by the sovereign Irish and British Governments. That veto is not alone guaranteed to the Unionists; it is also a veto exercised by the Republic guaranteeing the Unionist position. There is also a veto on the part of Great Britain who now constitute themselves, along with the Republic, as joint or co-guarantors of the Unionist veto. That is the enormity of what has happened. It is not a mere legal term or even a constitutional matter; it has already been written in and agreed to by the Prime Ministers concerned and will remain in force forever unless that Article can be renegotiated.
The British Government are not concerned about public relations paraphernalia designed for an imaginary run up to a general election. They are concerned with the realities of an international treaty. When one looks at the small print in Article 11, one sees the permanence of Article 1 because Article 11 states that at the end of three years, or earlier if requested by either Government, the working of the Conference shall be reviewed by the two Governments to see whether any changes in the scope and nature of its activities are desirable. That article specifically excludes any reference to any other aspect of the agreement except the Inter-governmental Conference. The vital Article 1, which cements British sovereignty over the Six Counties, British union with the Six Counties, and guarantees that unity, is excluded specifically by Article 11 from any further investigation or review. It is quite clear, when one reads Articles 1 and 11 together, that they are final and irrevocable unless we renogotiate them and there is no doubt from her remarks that they are very obviously regarded by the British Prime Minister as final and irrevocable.
Apart from the basic and very serious national abnegation and abandonment involved in Article 1, especially taken in conjunction with Article 11, I wish to refer to the other Articles which are mainly concerned with the Conference. These Articles of themselves do not come into the same category of seriousness as  Article 1, but in terms of practical impact in dealing with the problem they will cause substantial difficulties, more tension and further troubles in a problem being approached the wrong way around by the Government.
The Conference does not derogate from British sovereignty in Northern Ireland. Everybody agrees with that. The British Prime Minister made that perfectly clear and I do not think the Minister for Foreign Affairs would argue otherwise. The Conference will be a hybrid which will be neither executive nor consultative. It will be a new form of animal, not being an executive and certainly not a consultative assembly. It allows the Irish Government to put forward views and proposals, to make representations as we TDs do to the Ombudsman. The Government's views and proposals will be on matters relating to Northern Ireland. Then there is the aspiration advising everyone in the most non-legal language, that determined efforts to resolve any differences will be made at the Conference.
What in the name of God is the legal meaning of “determined efforts to be made in the resolution of differences”? That is all hyperbole and nonsense. It defies any legal description or meaning and it should not be incorporated in a document as serious as this because it means sweet Fanny Adams all. It is a pious aspiration. I hope everybody there will make determined efforts to resolve differences but do we have to paint it up in language of that kind?
It is very significant that a further devolved government in Northern Ireland, whenever that appears, will be outside the scope of any of the activities of the Conference. The British Prime Minister made that quite clear. In effect, she said that the Conference would have an automatic self-destruct device, that in effect it would be gradually replaced and disappear as soon as the devolved administration appeared.
Article 11 provides for a three year period. In conjunction with Article 2, dealing with the setting up of the conference,  it indicates that the British Prime Minister hopes the Conference will have disappeared in three years on the emergence of some form of devolved administration in the Six Counties which, as far as Nationalists are concerned, means the return of some type of Stormont administration.
That is the scenario. Articles 7, 8 and 9 put security matters up front in the whole workings of the Conference, and here a very basic question arises of how an Irish Government can participate in the workings of a Conference concerned with security matters over which the Irish Government will have no control, direction or power. What kind of decisions will we as a country become party to? The Irish State will have responsibility for, but no power to direct, Diplock tribunals, supergrass trials and the various range of highly unsatisfactory security forces and methods of behaviour of which we are justly and rightly suspicious and in some cases know to be downright immoral.
It must be faced honestly, and unfortunately events seem to be moving this way already, that this agreement will do nothing to promote peace, stability and reconciliation. Unfortunately, there are ominous signs that this treaty already is tending to exacerbate discord.
I will summarise the case we have put forward in the debate and explain clearly the reasons for our voting position at the end of it. The key to our position is contained in the penultimate paragraph of our amendment:
while recognising the urgent need that exists for substantial improvement in the situation and circumstances of the nationalist section of the community in the North of Ireland and approving any effective measures which may be undertaken for that purpose, refuses to accept any recognition of British sovereignty over any part of the national territory.
I would point out, especially to our friends in the media, that the amendment was tabled not today or yesterday but before the debate even started. Despite offensive press headlines to the contrary,  we have not found it necessary to change our attitude, which from the very beginning was approving and supportive of any measures designed to ameliorate or improve the situation of Northern Nationalists. It would never be our desire to hinder any developments that would be of genuine benefit to the Northern Nationalists. We realise only too well the unacceptable situation which they have been part of for so many years, and indeed the sufferings of the whole community in Northern Ireland, and we would be the first to support any measures that would genuinely lead to peace, stability and reconciliation. We have consistently supported such measures, for instance, the disbandment of the UDR, the ending of supergrass trials, the banning of plastic bullets and an end to strip searches.
However, we are deeply concerned about some aspects of the proposed Conference and secretariat and about the difficulties of reconciling responsibility without power which the Irish Government are going to find themselves in. That is the basic practical reality that emerges. We have no wish to make that situation more tense or difficult. Neither would it be helpful or of any value if we ran away from realities in discussing the matter here in the National Parliament.
We have never seen any inconsistency in our seeking immediate reforms in Northern society and institutions while maintaining our basic commitment to the unity of our country. If any fundamental radical reforms in Northern society were to emerge and if action were taken to establish genuine equality between the different communities, such would have our wholehearted support. However, we cannot accept that unity must be put in second place or sacrificed in any way and I repeat that we see no incompatibility in pursuing the twin objectives of remedial improvements in the way of life in Northern Ireland and the Irish Nationalist goal which alone, as the Forum report concluded, can guarantee the peace and stability that we all wish for in this island.
British sovereignty is not to be put in second place in order to achieve reforms  in Northern society. On the contrary, the British insist at all times that maintenance of the union is the context of everything that will happen. The pursuit of British sovereignty is paramount in the inviolate and protected way that Article 1 of the agreement guarantees.
What we cannot accept, as the guarantors of Irish unity, is the legitimisation of Partition, of British sovereignty in part of our island and of the British presence in Ireland. That is something totally new not only in terms of Fianna Fáil policies but in terms of the policies of all the major parties in the House. It is new to the policies subscribed to both in the New Ireland Forum and in the declaration proposed by the late John A. Costello in 1949 and seconded by the late Eamon de Valera. The legitimisation of Partition is new in terms of the entire lifetime of this State. In Article 1 of the agreement the Government are abandoning the position adhered to by all Governments in this State despite differences in regard to detail.
Article 1 of the agreement represents a clear abandonment of the principles of democratic nationalism, principles to which I should hope that to some extent Fine Gael and Labour would subscribe. My faith, revived somewhat during the Forum discussions, is now shattered in that respect. The Irish people will see the agreement as an abandonment of basic principles on the part of the Government parties for the purpose of immediate opportunistic political expediency. Such formal recognition — and nobody has contested seriously that this is not a formal recognition of Partition and of the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland — must be opposed. The fundamental principles involved in the whole constitutional Nationalist position must be upheld. The benefits of the agreement have yet to be established but the sacrifice of the entire basis of constitutional nationalism is immediate, categoric and real since the signing of this treaty by the Prime Ministers.
We will be voting for our amendment  because it would not be consistent with our entire position to approve an agreement incorporating aspects that we find totally objectionable. We will remain faithful to the position that has been held in common up to now by all parties in this House. Our entire purpose as a political movement is the pursuit of the right to a united Ireland by political means. It would be a grey day for the country and a dereliction of duty by responsible politicians for us to state that there is no longer any right to a united Ireland and that unification may not be pursued by political means. The alternative to the pursuit of unity by political means is too horrendous to contemplate. Our position as the upholders of constructive democratic nationalism is the basic ingredient in maintaining peace and stability particularly in this part of Ireland. It would be beyond contemplation that there should be no voice in this democratic Parliament to express the point of view that is expressed by Fianna Fáil. If we who are the representatives and the guarantors of democratic constitutional nationalism were to renege our political position, as the Government have reneged Ireland's national position, there would be a very serious kind of situation here in this part of the country as well as in Northern Ireland.
But the party who, consistently and constructively, have followed the line of unity by way of political means were ignored and shut out from any of the discussions that led to this unilateral decision by the Government. They ignored a party who have given far more in the way of attendance at and participation in the Forum discussions than all the other parties put together. I invite any of the officials present to examine the work of the various committees of the Forum should they wish to verify what I am saying. Fianna Fáil made a major contribution in drawing up the agreed Forum report in which it was stated categorically that a united Ireland was the only way of achieving peace, stability and reconciliation but we were shut out from the considerations adopted  by the Government for purely political reasons subsequent to the findings of that Forum.
It may be interesting to note that what has emerged now is far short of any of the options referred to in the report. We adopted an honourable stance in support of a unitary state option which would provide for irrevocable guarantees so far as the Unionist population was concerned in the devising of a new Constitution for a new Ireland. That was a stance which would guarantee protection at law and by the law for the Unionist minority in a united Ireland but we were accused at that time by advocates of federalism, of confederalism and of joint authority as pursuing something that was not practicable. The people who criticised our party Leader, Deputy Haughey, on that occasion are now here before this House with a treaty that falls far short of joint sovereignty, of a federal or confederal solution to our problems and short of any unitary State option. The options in the Forum report are being jettisoned by the Government who decided to shut the door in our faces and then decided to deal secretly with the British Prime Minister. They now find themselves with a document which is innocuous in terminology but very dangerous in form. The British are never innocous when it comes to the implementation of documents they sign with other governments.
The basic thread running through this document is that of maintaining the present British position while giving it an international diplomatic credence and apart from our domestic position we are precluded from ever raising the issue of Partition again at any international forum. The British have already started selling this document abroad. Every British diplomatic mission throughout the world has been instructed to tell the governors of accredited countries that the Irish problem has been resolved and can be buried. That is the way the British operate. It makes me very sad that an Irish Government have enabled them to do what they are very good at, spreading subtle insidious propoganda through their multitude of contacts throughout  the world. No amount of smart talk from Iveagh House, which might influence local journalists, is going to beat the British in this area. As far as the British are concerned, the Irish problem is settled and this document is not a start but an ending. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, will go back to what is for her the more congenial task of bringing the Unionist voters of Finchley under the rod before the next general election.
As we say in our amendment the only way the Forum conclusions can be implemented in a spirit of generosity towards the Unionists and people of all faiths, in the spirit of Wolfe Tone, acknowledging Protestant rights and aspirations as well as Unionist rights and aspirations, is to bring together all parties to the conference table with a view to devising a new Constitution for a new Ireland. Anything less than this type of approach is bound to fail. That is the basic indictment of this agreement. It is bound to fail because not alone is it inadequate but is is cementing a position to which we have all objected.
We now find ourselves as a lone party with the Nationalist forces. We are very proud of that because the Irish people support us, and this will be reflected in the results of the next general election. In voting against this motion we are opposing a fundamental change in the constitutional position which this agreement brings about. We are not rejecting any measures or attempts to improve the position of those who live in the tortured North but we reiterate the basic position that is alive today and which will be as live in 1995 if it is not dealt with. Our young people are as aware of this as we are and they want to live in an Ireland in which all traditions can be acknowledged and in which there can be peace, stability and justice. The society we want will not be frustrated by a British presence and British interference. As long as they remain, one will have to live with frustration, discord and violence.
Our amendment is designed to put Ireland's national future into perspective so that it will be judged by the Irish  people in the context not just of history but of the future of the Republic we have so dearly established.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry) Peter Barry
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry): I would like to put on record my personal satisfaction that Dáil Éireann has discussed this difficult issue with great seriousness, with perfect decorum and without acrimony. That this should have been achieved is a tribute to all sides of the House.
Throughout this whole business my conviction has never been shaken that the work of the Forum created a fundamental solidarity between constitutional Nationalists in Ireland which in several respects was deeper than the disagreements which have surfaced between us. I have said that the Forum reshaped Irish politics. I have said that it was a tragedy that our fathers and our grandfathers did not have a device such as the Forum. I have found in the attitudes shown throughout this very important debate ample confirmation of this conviction of mine.
Ireland has made remarkable strides in political and institutional growth since the foundation of the State. I cannot recall in my years in the House a debate that gave such solid testimony to this as that which we are now concluding. This is due, of course, in great measure to the extremely conciliatory and modest tone taken by the Taoiseach in his remarkable speech at the beginning of our discussion. The Taoiseach asked his own side to make no claims for his own achievement that were in the slightest way exaggerated, triumphalist or self-congratulatory. I will carefully observe his instruction, an instruction which is, of course, typical of the Taoiseach. We on this side also owe a tribute to the Leader of the Opposition for the conciliatory tone of his remarks, even if we find ourselves in disagreement with much of what he said in terms of substance.
Let me come directly to substance. The Government side have replied to all the points put to us and we are grateful to the Opposition for raising these questions.  The Opposition have an obligation to be vigilant on behalf of the people on all questions of public policy and particularly on matters which could influence the future of our island as a whole. We acknowledge the importance and the value of opposition and many of the questions that have been put to us are questions based on genuine concern. The record of this debate will give to students of the agreement a perceptive insight into the shared principles and hopes that lay behind it, as well as into its institutional complexities. Some of these are, as has been said, of a high order of ingenuity and of a character such as will require to be for the common benefit and not merely for the benefit of one side or of the other.
Having lived closely for many months with the negotiation of the agreement and the communique, I had come to underestimate the complexity of what has been agreed. Having heard the reactions of those who did not have this experience, I can now readily understand how the agreement might have been either misconstrued or, as has happened particularly in the North, extensively misrepresented.
Mrs. Thatcher is a “Unionist and a Loyalist”. The Taoiseach is a “Nationalist and a Republican”. Any agreement — and I emphasise that word “agreement” in its full meaning — between these divided sets of convictions must, if one thinks about it, necessarily be complex, intricate and carefully balanced. These are the qualities of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985. It is clear that they will become fully apparent to Unionists and to Nationalists only through the process of implementation. There are, however, a number of assurances and clarifications that I should emphasise as I am the last speaker on the Government side of the House in these closing moments of the debate. Let me divide them into those addressed to Nationalist concerns and those addressed to Unionist concerns, both of which, I am glad to note, have been raised by Deputies.
First, in relation to the Nationalist concerns, on Article 1, the Government in their negotiations were, it goes without  saying, constrained to have the most meticulous regard to Bunreacht na hÉireann. The agreement is, as it must be, of course, totally consistent with the Constitution. The Opposition, in expressing concern about this matter, are both mistaken and confused. Our conviction is based on the most detailed consideration by those authorised to advise us and we are confident of our position. It does not seem logical, mature or responsible, that the Opposition, while on the one hand expressing criticism in strong terms of the agreement from the viewpoint of the Constitution, admit on the other that they do not intend to exercise their legal prerogatives on the matter.
The concern voiced about this question is presumably directed to Article 1 of the agreement. Article 1 relates, not to the present constitutional frameworks of the two countries which are of course different so far as Northern Ireland is concerned, but rather to the future, and specifically to the possibility of change in the future. The point of departure of Article 1 is the desire of both Governments to reassure both Unionists and Nationalists about the future.
Article 1 recognises by implication that the country is not now politically united. Article 3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann speaks of arrangements “pending the reintegration of the national territory” in other words, the same thing. Nevertheless it was important that this reality be acknowledged at least by implication in the agreement.
Article 1, moreover, recognises that a majority in Northern Ireland do not now desire a change in the present status of Northern Ireland. Who could possibly disagree with that assertion? This is also important, however, and has frequently been called for by Unionist critics of the New Ireland Forum.
Otherwise, Article 1 provides that any change in the status of Northern Ireland would only come about with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland. Deputy Haughey used these exact words in a formal joint statement with Mrs. Thatcher in May 1980, in which it was further stated that he agreed with  Mrs. Thatcher in using those words. Article 1 also commits the two Governments to take the initiative to establish Irish unity if and when a majority in Northern Ireland so desire. Article 1 thus makes it clear that the only criterion for the establishment of Irish unity, so far as both Governments are concerned, is the principle of consent.
These agreed propositions, taken together, are of importance to Unionists because they make it crystal clear that Irish Unity will come about only if and when consent to unity should emerge. They are important to Nationalists because they make it crystal clear that Britain has no interest in staying in Ireland other than as a guarantor of consent: if consent to unity should emerge, Britain will leave. Both Governments are committed under the agreement to establishing Irish unity if that principle — and that principle alone — is met. That is, of course, the position we all share in this House and its incorporation in an Anglo-Irish agreement is an important development, as many have already recognised.
In short, Article 1 marks no departure from the Irish constitutional framework or from the British constitutional framework. More significantly, in agreeing about what would happen in future circumstances, Article 1 provides a solid set of guarantees both to Nationalists and to Unionists, based rigorously on the principle of consent. I am deeply convinced that both sides will come to see that this creates a solid and secure basis for themselves and for their children.
The lack of certainty about the future of Northern Ireland has been at the heart of most of the conflict and instability since 1920. Unionists have feared that Irish unity would be imposed on Northern Ireland against the wishes of a majority in Northern Ireland. Their leaders have played on this fear to paralyse the politics of the North and as a result the Nationalist community have suffered discrimination, domination, political exclusion and the denial of their identity. Every attempt by Britain to reassure Unionists by a one-sided guarantee has only reinforced Unionist paranoia and strengthened the  division between Nationalist and Unionist. London failed to understand that measures such as Border polls, which were intended to comfort Unionists alone, only created greater uncertainty than ever.
Similarly some misguided Nationalists had been led, perhaps inevitably, by the emphasis given to this guarantee to look on Britain as the only problem, the only wilful obstacle to Irish unity. This has led to a failure to face up to the realities of division in Northern Ireland, the painfully difficult reality for Nationalists of the existence of a majority whose desire is to be part of the United Kingdom. The Unionists, because of the same guarantee, feared irrationally the Nationalist community, their aspiration and their ethos to a point where they in turn failed to confront the Nationalist problem in their midst. Both sides have, for generations, in different ways, been plagued by uncertainty about the future: the Nationalists in case there might be no change, the Unionists in case there might be any change. Article 1 is a product of the shared desire of the two Governments to meet precisely this humanitarian problem and that is how it should be read; not by Unionists who see only the benefits for Nationalists; not by Nationalists who see only the benefits for Unionists; but by Nationalists and Unionists who are ready to see the benefit for both traditions. Far from being a betrayal of Nationalists or of Unionists, Article 1 is in fact an exercise in ingenious and benign draftsmanship, which betrays no one and guarantees for the first time both sets of concerns.
During this debate the Opposition have repeatedly expressed a worry about the references in the agreement to the possibility of arrangements for devolution in Northern Ireland and about the implications of this. In particular, they are concerned lest this should mean in practice the elimination of the Irish Government from the Anglo-Irish framework which the agreement establishes to address the problems of the North. I have  already tried to clarify this but I believe it is important to summarise the position once again.
First, both Governments strongly favour devolution on a basis which would secure widespread acceptance. That means, as Mrs. Thatcher has said, involving the two communities in the system of devolution.
Second, whether or not there is devolution, the Inter-Governmental Conference will continue to deal with human rights, justice, law and order, questions of identity and culture: in other words all the most difficult and sensitive issues in the North.
Third, if there is devolution the Conference would cease to deal with the social and economic matters within the North which are now the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Departments. Those matters would be dealt with, not by the Conference or the British Government, but by devolved administration involving representatives of the two communities.
Fourth, if that devolution broke down, then the Conference would once again have a role on the issues which had been the responsibility of the devolved administration.
All of this provides incentives to Unionists and to Nationalists, in different ways, to become involved in efforts to achieve devolution. It does not mean that the Irish Government would cease to be involved in the basic concerns of the two communities in the North if devolution were achieved and sustained.
The agreement, in its provisions on devolution, if not envisaging a “solution” within the confines of Northern Ireland. The agreement, however, aims at providing every possible reassuring incentive to both sets of constitutional politicians to take a hand in real politics. We earnestly hope that it will be possible for both sides to avail of the opportunity provided by the agreement to do this.
Deputy Haughey, Deputy Collins, Deputy O'Kennedy, Deputy Lenihan and others have voiced concern about the role of the Irish Government. They have found no reference to the word “consultation”.  Let me reply by saying candidly that the two Governments were not able, either separately or jointly, to find a single word which would adequately describe the processes of the Conference. The text of the agreement is short but extraordinarily complex. On no point is it more complex than in its description of the processes of the Conference.
The role of the Conference will operate at four different levels, each of which is distinct. For the most part the Conference will operate at three of those levels simultaneously and otherwise, when dealing with matters of North-South co-operation, at the fourth level. Let me try to explain.
I would first draw a general distinction between the work of the Conference in relation to matters concerning Northern Ireland on the one hand and its work on the promotion of North-South co-operation on the other. This is implied in Article 2 (a) which lists the matters the Conference will deal with as: (i) political matters; (ii) security and related matters; (iii) legal matters, including the administration of justice and (iv) the promotion of cross-Border co-operation. The first three headings concern Northern Ireland as such and they are dealt with in detail in the text of the agreement: political matters under Articles 5 and 6; security and related matters under Article 7 and legal matters under Article 8. Cross-Border co-operation is also dealt with in a separate part of the legal text in Articles 9 and 10.
Let me try to describe the process of the Conference as it concerns matters arising in Northern Ireland as such. Here there are three levels to the process. The first of the three levels is that which we normally understand by the word “consultative”. What does this mean? This means that the responsible Government, that is the British Government, undertake an obligation to consult the interested party, in this case the Irish Government, about a range of matters. This is made quite clear in the text of Article 5 (a), Article 5 (c), Article 6, Article 7 and Article 8. Article 5 (a), for example, provides that the “Conference  shall concern itself with measures to recognise and accommodate the rights and identities of the two traditions”, giving examples of some areas that would arise. Article 7 states that “the Conference shall consider the security situation at its regular meetings and thus provide an opportunity to address policy issues, serious incidents and forthcoming events”. Again Article 8 says that “The Conference shall seek, with the help of advice from experts as appropriate, measures which would give substantial expression to this aim”, the aim being public confidence in the administration of justice.
The second level goes beyond what we normally understand by the word “consultative”. In this case the interested party, the Irish Government, have under Article 2 (b) a formal right to put forward of their own initiative views and proposals on matters relating to Northern Ireland within the field of activity of the Conference. The third level, which governs the first two, is also established in Article 2 (b) and provides that “in the interest of promoting peace and stability, determined efforts shall be made through the Conference to resolve any differences”. Now this also involves a separate process, a process which is mandatory, and which goes beyond that which is understood by “consultative”. It is quite clear that the word “consultation” would be inappropriate as a description of the working of the process simultaneously at these three levels, as the agreement provides. That is the reason why the word is not used.
In relation to the fourth area, the promotion of cross-Border co-operation, the two Governments meet in the normal co-operative framework of two sovereign Governments seeking to make joint decisions in the common interest, each starting from a free and independent base. Again the word, “consultation”, does not apply.
In seeking to put all of this into perspective, I should add two points. The first is that the agreement provides, again in Article 2 (b), that: “There is no derogation from the sovereignty of either the  Irish Government or the United Kingdom Government, and each retains responsibility for the decisions and administration of government within its own jurisdiction.” I mention this, both because of the concern which has been expressed about the responsibility that might attach to the Irish Government because of certain possible developments in Northern Ireland, and because it is, as the Taoiseach said, essential that we be clear that the agreement does not confer a formal role of executive decision-making on the Irish Government.
The agreement does, however, create a substantial role and this is my second point. There is now under the agreement, in relation to Northern Ireland, an obligation on Britain to consult us, an obligation on Britain to accommodate our right to put both views and proposals and an obligation on both Governments to make determined efforts to resolve any difficulties. I think that this creates a significantly different situation from 1969 and 1972 when our right even to consultation was formally denied, a denial that was repeated with emphasis, as the Tánaiste reminded us yesterday, on 30 July 1982, three days after this had been conveyed directly to our Ambassador, when Mrs. Thatcher stated in the House of Commons:
My right honourable friend, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, made it perfectly clear to the Irish Ambassador that no commitment exists for Her Majesty's Government to consult the Irish Government on matters affecting Northern Ireland. That has always been our position. We reiterated and emphasised that position.
The two Governments are committed to making the agreement work. Both Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. King have emphasised their determination in this regard. The Irish Government are similarly determined. We all know that it will be difficult — indeed, even in ideal circumstances it would be impossible — to satisfy everyone all the time. We will  expect the British to be understanding of our position as we will have to be of theirs. Both Governments — not just the British Government, not just the Irish Government — must make determined efforts to resolve our differences.
I can reassure Deputy O'Kennedy, however, that there will be no question of either Government hiding behind the Conference to evade difficulties, whether in the fields of human rights, justice or security, whether those difficulties arise in the Nationalist or Unionist sides or in the field of co-operation. I believe that in my period as a Minister for Foreign Affairs I have pursued the concerns of the Northern Nationalist people energetically both publicly and privately with the British Government. I shall not now lessen my efforts on their behalf; on the contrary. On the other hand, I am deeply convinced that there now exists a mechanism for making real progress, progress which will produce far more satisfactory results than public or private protests.
Several Deputies have expressed concern about the possible application in this jurisdiction of measures taken in Northern Ireland. There has been a major misunderstanding here. The agreement merits close reading over and over again. What does it say? Article 2 says:
Some of the proposals considered in respect of Northern Ireland may also be found to have application by the Irish Government.
Article 5 says:
The discussion of these matters shall be mainly concerned with Northern Ireland, but the possible application of any measures pursuant to this Article by the Irish Government in their jurisdiction shall not be excluded.
Article 7 says:
Elements of the programme may be considered by the Irish Government suitable for application within their jurisdiction.
There is, of course, no obligation on us to do anything, but it would be nothing short of a sheer insult to go into this  enterprise as though we had nothing to learn from the experience. I hope and believe that we will learn a lot and that we will find, as stability and consensus grow in the North, many aspects of policy which could with profit be applied by our own Government independently in this jurisdiction. Surely everybody in this House shares the desire to see, wherever appropriate, the same policies being applied in the two parts of Ireland, especially if we have an input into those being applied in the North.
There is one statement on the record which, in the interest of a distinguished political party outside this House, must be put straight. It is not true that the Government sought at any point to put any pressure on the SDLP, whether about the agreement or about the SDLP's role in political affairs in Northern Ireland. The SDLP is a remarkably resilient and independent political entity. We are not fools. We know that any attempt in any way to force or to seduce the SDLP in any direction would be rejected immediately by that party. We have the utmost respect for the independence of the SDLP. No such attempt was made. None will be.
The Leader of the Opposition, and the Deputy Leader, with considerable conviction said that Fianna Fáil are the moral barrier against a violent and abhorrent form of Nationalism. It is for this reason among others, the Leader says, that Fianna Fáil adhere to their policy of British withdrawal and that his party are opposed to the agreement. I respect the sincerity with which Deputy Haughey expounds this view but I would suggest, without the slightest rancorous intention, that it is a blinkered view. Despite my own instinct that Fine Gael have the strongest title in this regard, I think that we should all admit that no party on the Nationalist side has a monopoly on Republicanism. No party is the only true guardian of the precious heritage of Nationalism. No party is the sole barrier against any danger whatsoever. The people are the moral force of this land.
Deputies: Hear, hear.
Mr. P. Barry Mr. P. Barry
 Mr. P. Barry: Dáil Éireann, the assembly of the people, is the moral barrier against any dangers. We are free men and women in this House. Let us in our deliberations hear no talk of political mysticism, no holy grails and no unilateral claims on moral barriers. Let us reason out together all of the issues in this and in other important questions, as rational beings, respecting as rational beings and free men and women those for whom we speak and act. The Irish people are not the prisoners of immoral barriers or of any other malign forces. They are a free rational people, entitled to rely on us, and on whom we are perfectly entitled to rely.
Only by taking this approach can we serve the people of the North, Nationalist and Unionist. It is clear that many in the Unionist community are now reacting primarily in emotional terms. I am very concerned to see this happening because it is a danger to reconciliation and an obstacle to the benefits of this agreement being appreciated by Unionists. Those benefits are very substantial and it would be a tragedy if they were not clearly understood.
The greatest possible benefits that could be brought to the Unionist people are peace and stability. Those are the objectives, the fundamental objectives, of this agreement and I believe that the two Governments are committed to achieving them.
Let me say this quite clearly. The Irish Government have no designs on the North. We have no desire to have dominion over the Unionist people. This agreement does not confer such a power on us, either directly or indirectly. We recognise the identity of the Unionists: their Britishness, their ethos, their sense of being threatened by Irish unity. Of course, for our part, we are committed to Irish unity: we are committed to Irish unity by consent and only by consent. Article 1 now makes that unambiguously clear. Those Unionist leaders who say otherwise are misleading their people and they should in my opinion now pause carefully and make sure that they are not  leading the Unionist people in a dangerous direction on the basis of an honest misunderstanding or on the basis of opportunist misrepresentation.
Northern Ireland is a divided community. Two-fifths of the population in one degree or another wish things otherwise and in one degree or another look to us. Three-fifths of the population in one degree or another wish things to continue the same if possible and look to Britain. In their hearts they must know that it is not possible that things should stay the same; they must know that “no change” would only mean “more of the same” and that would only make matters worse for everyone. The only system that has any remote possibility of bringing some degree of general acceptance and stability is one which gives guarantees to both sides, a system with which both sides can identify. That is precisely what this agreement attempts to do; no more and no less. What does it take from the substance of the position of Unionists? Nothing. We say that the Irish identity of Nationalists is now catered for, for the first time. Is the British identity of Unionists not catered for under present arrangements? Of course it is. Northern Ireland is governed by the British Government, not by Dublin. Both Governments are committed to the fullest possible accommodation of the two identities compatible with the law, without any diminution of either. Can there be any tenable moral or political objection to that? Are Nationalists' rights to be completely ignored? Is total Unionist domination to be the only course acceptable to the Unionist leadership? I cannot believe that to be the position of decent men and women of the Unionist tradition. I cannot believe that they would wish to refuse the light of day to the Nationalist side. I am constrained to believe that in many cases Unionists have completely and tragically misunderstood the intentions of the two Governments.
I appeal to Mr. Molyneaux and I appeal to Mr. Paisley to accept that Dublin has no desire whatever to undermine their rights or their position. I  appeal to them to read this agreement for what it is: it is not a take-over by Dublin. It is no more and no less than an Irish input into the processes of Government on a basis intended only to ease the divisions in the community in the North, an input designed only to bring peace and stability.
Are Unionists humiliated or any less British because this agreement creates some measures to accommodate the Irish identity of their neighbours? The answer from Dublin is a resounding “No!” and that answer is the truth.
I fully understand and support the concern of Unionists about security and I believe that it will be possible under the agreement for our implacable commitment to confront and resist violence to be more apparent to Unionists and for co-operation in this area to develop in a strong and healthy way. We are in this together, Nationalist and Unionist.
Deputy Haughey has referred to “a violent and abhorrent from of Nationalism”. His description aptly fits those who murder and destroy and who instil a dumb despair in the lives of thousands of Irish people. These are the enemies not just of the British people, the Unionist people and the people of this State: they are the enemies of the Nationalist people of the North. It is my passionate hope that, as this agreement works, it will create a deep and irreversible rejection of the gun and the bomb on the part of young Nationalists. I hope too, that those who have corrupted the minds of young people and led them into acts of violence, diminishing and shaming the name of Irish nationalism, may have left in their hearts some shred of humanity, some residual concern for ordinary people. Let them now put away the bomb and the gun. The people do not want another 50 years of horror, shame and despair, whatever Mr. Adams and his lieutenants say. The people want peace, stability and some measure of prosperity.
Article 4 of the agreement sets out the objectives of the Conference in detail.
In relation to matters coming within its field of activity, the Conference  shall be a framework within which the Irish Government and the United Kingdom work together
(i) for the accommodation of the rights and identities of the two traditions which exist in Northern Ireland; and
(ii) for peace, stability and prosperity throughout the island of Ireland by promoting reconciliation, respect for human rights, co-operation against terrorism and the development of economic, social and cultural co-operation.
This is what all of the people of this island want above all today and for the future. I believe that nobody has a right to withold it from them.
I intend to do my best to promote these objectives. I thank the Taoiseach for placing his confidence in me and for giving me this opportunity to make a contribution to peace and the welfare of the people of the North.
In saying this, I would like to add a brief word of congratulation to the Taoiseach himself. After the Chequers Summit he faced a major personal choice. He could have retreated into an anti-British attitude and many would have supported him. Or he could have faced the far more unpopular task of pushing ahead with the negotiations. He took the hard road because he knew that it was necessary. Having seen the reality at Chequers, that the British Government were willing to work for measures to accommodate the two identities. I never doubted that he was right. His decision and commitment to ensure that a package emerged that would help to end the alienation of Nationalists while protecting the rights of Unionists, is the outstanding achievement of an outstanding Irish leader.
Deputies: Hear, hear.
Mr. P. Barry Mr. P. Barry
Mr. P. Barry: The Taoiseach has already thanked all the world leaders who have expressed their support and hopes  for the success of this enterprise. Let me add my thanks to his.
Anglo-Irish relations have often been marked by confusion and contradiction. I would now, however, like to say that the Irish people appreciate the courage, determination and imagination shown on this occasion by Mrs. Thatcher, Sir Geoffrey Howe, Tom King and his predecessor, Douglas Hurd. I have come to know Tom King and to appreciate his qualities in recent months. He is a straight-talking, sensible man and I hope that, in the Irish Permanent Ministerial Representative in the Inter-Governmental Conference, he will find another. I am confident that our work together will contribute to peace and stability, to the reassurance of both Nationalists and Unionists in Northern Ireland, to reconciliation and to prosperity and to the greater friendship between the British and Irish peoples.
Two and a half years ago we, the constitutional Nationalists, embarked on the Forum. Many said it was a hopeless exercise. The Forum, however, created a positive focus for constitutional Nationalism for the first time and it gave hope for the first time to those Nationalists in the North — the vast majority of them — who desperately longed for peace, who rejected violence and who demanded equality of treatment. When the Forum reported many — although now fewer — scoffed. The Forum had, in fact, come to terms with the difficult realities, hitherto unacknowledged, of Unionism. While controversy attended the publication of the report, the report exists and it has done its work in the North, in the South, in Britain and around the world. The Financial Times, in an editorial reviewing the background to the events at Hillsborough, said as many others have said: “The Forum was the turning point.”
The solidarity of the Forum provides the only possible basis for negotiations with the British. The Forum report provided a basis for understanding with the Unionists which it will now be the priority of this Government to pursue. The Forum provided hope for the first time for years to the Northern Nationalists.  hope that has been given a firm focus and solid content by this agreement. I believe that an acknowledgment of this was in part reflected in Deputy Haughey's speech last night. I hope that the solidarity achieved by the Forum will be to the fore in the minds of Deputies as they vote on this important motion.
A Cheann Comhairle, this has been an historic episode in the affairs of the Dáil. Whatever the differences, we have done ourselves and the nation credit. I would  make one simple appeal to my fellow Deputies. While we in the South have suffered, we are relatively lucky. The people of the North, Nationalist and Unionist, have been devastated. Let us in our vote today put their desperate needs before our own desires or our own interests. It is for that reason above all others that I hope that all Deputies will support the motion before the Dáil.
Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 88; Níl, 75.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Barrett (Dún Laoghaire) and Taylor; Níl, Deputies V. Brady and Browne.
Question declared carried, amendment declared lost.
An Ceann Comhairle Thomas J. (Cavan) Fitzpatrick
An Ceann Comhairle: I am putting the question that motion No. 18 be agreed.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 88; Níl, 75.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Barrett (Dún Laoghaire) and Taylor; Níl, Deputies V. Brady and Browne.
Question declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 5.45 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 26 November 1985.
Dáil Éireann 361 Anglo-Irish Agreement 1985: Motion (Resumed).