Mary Robinson the first female head of state is the first Irish president to address a working parliament.

President Mary Robinson makes an historic address to a joint session of both houses of the Oireachtas calling for an open and honest debate on neutrality and reflection on how we perceive ourselves in Europe.

In her speech President Robinson said that this is a crucial moment in Irish history, giving the nation the opportunity to reflect not just on the move towards European unity, but how we perceive ourselves in that context. An honest debate on our policy of military neutrality must also happen,

Aware that the balance we strike and the approach we take must be exemplary.

As regards fears about Ireland's identity in Europe, the president referred to the commitment to voluntary work taking place in communities throughout the country as an important element in the initiatives we could take in Europe,

All of this has implications not just for our past heritage, but for our most important heritage in the making, our young people.

There is no reason to fear that the Irish language will be eroded or diminished by Ireland's participating more fully in the European Union, believes President Robinson, as this is an opportunity to bring it with us as a part of who we are,

Providing of course that within this self-perception is also our sense of tolerance, our love of diversity, our cherishing of other traditions.

Turning to Northern Ireland the president spoke of tensions and sorrows arising from traditional sources of misunderstanding, and from the profound inhumanity of protracted violence, and assured the people of Northern Ireland from all traditions of the Republic's

Deep commitment to dialogue and to friendship.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 8 July 1992. The reporter is Donal Kelly.