Tuesday, 10 January 1922
Dáil Éireann Debate
THE SPEAKER: Item number three on the Agenda is a motion by Mr. Michael Collins “that Mr. Arthur Griffith be appointed President of Dáil Eireann.” I take it that the first thing that it is necessary for us to do is to make arrangements for the administration of the country.
MR. M. COLLINS: The reason that I do this is that the Irish nation at the present moment is a ship without a captain, and a ship, we all know, cannot get on without a captain. I want to move this motion so that we may have some captain for the ship. I saw a thing happening down at home years ago that I can illustrate my remarks with, I think, in an apt way. I remember one day passing along the road and I saw two horses standing in a field with a plough behind them, and there was no ploughman. I watched that thing for about two hours, and the ploughman was still absent. The horses that were able to plough were idle—there was no ploughman between the handles. There was no work done. Now, a bad ploughman is better than no ploughman, and the Irish nation is watching us at the present moment; in the same way as I watched that scene they are watching us. They see the horses idle, the plough idle; they see that we are doing nothing at all; they see that we are not taking action to put any sort of ploughman between the handles. I knew where the ploughman was. He was in some place wasting his time. We are very much before the Irish nation at the present moment in the position of that ploughman. Some people know where he was all right. We must form some kind of a staple Government to stop the position of anarchy that we are allowing the country to drift into. Here is a thing that is typical of what is happening. Everybody knows—no one better than the men from the South of Ireland—that I hold no brief for the Cork Examiner; but I have received this letter and it is typical of what will happen in the country if we allow the present state of affairs to continue. The writer of the letter —George Crosbie—is no friend of mine (Deputies: “Nor ours”). The letter is:
“Knowing as I do the intense strain you must be under for some time past, I am loth to trouble you, but I feel it is incumbent on us to explain how we are situated. At two o'clock this morning the copy of a proclamation which appears in to-day's paper was brought into us, and we were ordered to insert it. You will understand that things may appear in the Examiner published by us under duress.”
Of course, if the Examiner had any pluck it would not publish anything under duress. At the same time I call those methods Black-and-Tan methods, and, I am against Black-and-Tan methods, no matter where they appear. If this motion is accepted I can only suggest that the position would then be in our hands to make the best we can of it, and to report to some future meeting of the Dáil. The position of drift is the worst of all positions, and we have said a good deal about our being here, talking. I feel that members know I adopted that attitude at meetings often before. They know I never believed it was at meetings work was done, because while you are at meetings you cannot do any work. We are here talking day after day, and we are getting no results of any kind. Any kind of action is better than no action. Supposing, for instance, that Mr. Griffith is beaten for this—what position are we in then? We are in the position of not being on one side or the other. It will simply be a position that will make us more and more laughable. In my estimation we have given the NorthEast of Ireland every excuse for not coming in. They would say: “Who would go into a body like that, with the methods they employ, and the uselessness of their discussions?” We are also giving the English an opportunity for remaining here. I can only see it in this way. I will use the word “obstruction.” The tactics are obstructionist tactics. It is all very well to say “We will not interfere with you.” I have heard a thing this morning that shows that the interference has already started. Why should not the departments of Dáil Eireann function? Why should not the Labour Department, for instance, go on with arbitrations? Why should there be an attempt by anyone to stop its officials from going on with arbitrations which would help the country and prevent it from getting into a chaotic state? It does not matter who is at the head of that department, so long as it is officiating for the Irish nation. The opposition side want to retain all the machinery. They want to say to England: “We are still unfriendly,” and then they want to turn round to us at a later stage and say: “I told you so.” Without the co-operation of the departments—whatever the co-operation of individuals may do—this thing cannot be a success; and on the people who will prevent this being made a success lies the responsibility, and not on us. That is what I want to say before Ireland. It is on the people who will prevent it, and on the people who are employing these tactics, the responsibility rests and the cost of failure rests— if there is failure. That is what I want to say here publicly now. The only way to get rid of it is to accept things in the spirit of good-will. Does anybody think if England does not fulfil her promises I will be less against her than ever I was? Does anybody really believe that if England does not fulfil her promises any one of us will be less against her? I mentioned yesterday the case of the signed cheque. The answer was that maybe the funds were not there to meet it. You can test whether the funds are there or not by the signed cheque, but you cannot test it by an unsigned cheque.
MR. M. COLLINS: You can test whether the funds are there by the signed cheque but not by the unsigned cheque. It is only by passing this motion we will show that we are capable of doing something constructive, and that we will show that we are capable of running the affairs of the nation. It is only by passing this motion we have any sort of constitutional authority here. This is a body of the representatives of Ireland. I regard this body as being the Sovereign Assembly of the Irish nation, and we are responsible to the people who sent us here. The fact that the sovereign capacity of this Assembly should be questioned by anybody shows that we ourselves do not regard ourselves as being what we are. I always regarded the Dáil as being the Sovereign Assembly of Ireland. I regard it as being the Sovereign Assembly of Ireland still, and it does not make it less sovereign because Lloyd George says it is not. It is not what Lloyd George says. It is what the Irish people say. It is not what the English Parliament says. It is what we say. The English papers called us a murder gang. The Irish people did not believe we were a murder gang. If the English Parliament called this Assembly illegal I did not regard it as being illegal. I do not regard it now as being illegal. I do not take my opinions from the English side. I take them from the Irish side. It is in that spirit that we can make this Treaty a success, and that we can make the Irish nation a success. It is only in that spirit. It is not by words and formulas; it is by heart and soul. We must see by now that we have talked long enough, without doing anything constructive; and this motion will enable us to do something constructive. The difficulties we may be faced with cannot be overstated. Any young government—I can see the difficulties that come before it. I can see the frightful difficulties. Every new government has these difficulties to go through. Some of the governments that have been started in Europe found their difficulties enormous. You have only to point to any one of these new governments that have been formed to see that up to the present moment it is an unstaple government. My belief about the thing is this: that whether we like it or whether we do not, the world is entering on a different era. My belief during the war was: that the plain people of France and the plain people of Germany knew some better way of adjusting their difficulties than by killing each other. That is my belief still. And about the people of England, my belief is, that unless we show that we do not mean to be hostile, the people of England are a great deal more kingly than the King. I know very well that the people of England had very little regard for the people of Ire-ernment— land, and that when you lived among them you had to be defending yourself constantly from insults. Every Irishman here who has lived amongst them knows very well that the plain people of England are much more objectionable towards us than the upper classes. Every man who has lived amongst them knows that they are always making jokes about Paddy and the pig, and that sort of thing. Every man who has lived amongst them appreciates that it is harder to get on with them than with those of the English people who understand us better. If we show that we are going to operate from the outset in a spirit of hostility, that will give the English their excuse for remaining here. If we show, as we have been showing as best we can that we are unable to carry on, England will say, and say with a certain amount of truth: “I am afraid we will have to remain in Ireland to preserve law and order.” That is what the Americans say when they go to preserve law and order in Mexico. I do not know whether there is not a certain amount of reason for the Americans going to Mexico to preserve law and order (“question”). I suggest that we should get some kind of agreement on the majority side; anyway we should get some kind of agreement that we would be allowed to go on with the work without prevention, and that this motion can be passed, if not unanimously, at least without dissent. I do not want to commit the other side to approval of this motion. I appeal to them for the sake of Ireland to let this motion go through, and give Ireland a chance (applause).
COMMANDANT EOIN O'DUFFY: I rise to second the motion moved by Mr. Collins. I have only one or two words to say. In the first place, I feel very much that our President thought it well to place his resignation in our hands. Now that the Dáil has approved of the Treaty it is but right that the majority should choose their captain, and we have chosen Mr. Griffith. It is not necessary, at all, for me to emphasise the claims that Mr. Griffith has in the presence of this Assembly. The members of this House know him as well as I do. All I want to do is to say with Mr. Collins: now that the Treaty is approved of we should get on with the work.
MR. CEANNT: It is quite evident now to every member of this Dáil, and to people outside, that the one ambition of those who are supporting the Treaty was to get rid of the President of the Republic, and to substitute another Minister for him. The Minister of Finance has referred to a letter from the Cork Examiner stating certain things had to be printed in the Examiner last night or this morning. That shows how the feeling in the South of Ireland is, because of the Examiner misrepresenting the views of the people. It is now we are beginning to hear the voice of the people. These are the people who saw their city devastated by the Black-and-Tans, who saw the tragedy of Kerry Pike, who saw the whole County of Cork left in ruins. They are beginning to have their voice heard now. I remind the Minister of Finance that he was not so scrupulous going into an office here not many years ago, when we had a hostile Press; and I would remind him also that not long ago the Examiner and the Crosbies were recruiting sergeants for the British Empire. They see now that they cannot run against the wishes of the people.
MR. CEANNT: I may say, a Chinn Chomhairle, officially or unoffically it was done, but what was done in Cork was not officially done by the members of the minority here, but it expresses the will of the people in Cork. It shows how they are feeling.
MR. MACENTEE: A Chinn Chomhairle, I rise simply to state that I, for one, cannot support the election of Mr. Griffith as President of the Dáil. In doing that I want to make it clear that we on this side do not question the right of the majority of this House to select their leader, but we do question, very, very strongly, the wisdom of selecting as their leader the man  who was bound by his signature to bring down the Irish Republic. No one would question the urgency of selecting or electing a Chief Executive Officer now, but the urgency of the matter is no valid reason why such a step should be taken without very great and very grave consideration. We all know the ship wants a captain—we all know the horses want a ploughman—but we should take care not to select as captain of the ship the man who is bound by his signature to wreck it. We should take care that the ploughman we are going to choose is not the one who is bound to root up the Irish Republic. I say we all know, whatever else we may do, we ought not to do that, because it is unnecessary that we should do it. It is not essential, in order that the English may honour the agreement which they have signed, the agreement which they have entered into with the delegation, that the Government of the Dáil should be the Provisional Government of the Free State. It is not. I go further; I say it is not expedient in the interests of those who stand for the Treaty that any man who signed the Articles of Agreement should be President of the Dáil. I say that in taking the step they are taking to-day, the other side are going further than their signatures warrant. When this is being done I can only hark back to 1914. I can only recollect what happened then to the Irish Volunteers. We all know, how, when it seemed likely that Mr. Asquith, another English Liberal, was going to trick another Irish Constitutional Nationalist, the people of this country sprang to arms in his defence, but Mr. Redmond, anxious to prove himself a man who was better than his word, acting at the behest of Asquith, set himself to capture the machinery of the Volunteer organisation in exactly the same way as those who support this Treaty are attempting now to capture the machinery of the Republic. That, Sir, we all admitted, was the gravest tactical mistake which Mr. Redmond made. If he had gone forward and said: “I fulfilled the letter of my bond when I kept you here in office for these years, I will go not one whit further, I have no authority over these people, I cannot compel them to dissolve. I will not attempt to capture them,” instead of this country being faced with the betrayal of 1914, the Irish Volunteers would have been there to uphold and support Mr. Redmond, and would have been there to do a great deal more. When the European war broke out they would have been there to set up the Republic and they would have been there to uphold it as the majority of the people of this country. Now, I say that those who are asking us to hand over to them the machinery of the Republic of Ireland are doing it gratuitously, and that is what, to me, is the bitterest thing about it. It is not necessary it should be done at all, but it is being done, as I said before, in order to prove once more to Englishmen that Irishmen were better than their words. They are doing gratuitously what Mr. Redmond was compelled to do under coercion in 1914. I say not only is it unnecessary, but it is inexpedient. I say, furthermore, that it is very dangerous for the future of the country that it should be done. Those who stand on the other side, and I know that they stand there in good faith, because they believe they are doing the best for their country in this crisis, should look back over the many years of history. They never saw one Treaty signed by England with Ireland that England did not dishonour. Have they any assurance that this Treaty will be honoured either? They have nothing except the seven signatories who are members of the English Government which can change from day to day. Those who stand on the other side may be, themselves, very quickly floundering in the sea of English treachery. For goodness sake, let them leave the Irish people some rock firm enough to cling to, some rock whereby they may scramble back to the dry land of the Republic. It may be, in suggesting this course, I am not taking the attitude which will appeal to a man who has had twenty years of experience in public life, and who, if he will permit me to say so, has brought nothing into this Dáil as part of that experience, except the pettiest tricks in public debate I have ever listened to. That gentleman never rose in debate, since this grave and vital question came to be dealt with, to consider it upon principles, but upon personalities. His avowed function in this House was not to convince but to amuse. I do not want to follow his bad example, but in his discussion on this question he made personal references to my stature. If I am little it is not my  fault. But, Sir, if I were to consider a grave question introduced by the little Emperor, by the little Wizard of Wales, and the little Pope of Rome, and ask no man to give it grave consideration upon that account, I should have thought my words had little sense and little weight. Now, Sir, I say this may not appear to be strictly in accordance with all the practices of the Dublin Corporation and the South Dublin Union. But a nation in a grave emergency like this must look, if you like, for some unusual expedient to get out of it, to tide it through, at any rate; and therefore, while it may not seem to be strictly in accordance with precedents, it is in accordance with principle that now, while we are in a transition state, some transitional or neutral Executive should be formed for this House. Since that cannot be done—they on the other side will not permit it to be done—all I can say is, that I am compelled to vote against the resolution.
MR. DE VALERA: A Chinn Chomhairle, what troubles me most in this matter is the whole question of the position we are placed in. I would like to ask the Chairman of the Delegation, Mr. Griffith, whether, if he is elected, he intends to act and function as the Executive of the Republic, because this is the Government of the Irish Republic and nothing else. When we meet here we do not meet as a political party; we do not meet here as the Parliament of Southern Ireland or anything of that sort. We meet here definitely as the Government of the established Republic of Ireland, and any act whatsoever of ours which is not in accordance with that is unconstitutional. Now, Mr. Griffith can have no fault to find with me for bringing this forward, for this reason: when he was in London I wrote to him definitely and pointed out that if any arrangement was come to, very great care would have to be exercised as to the manner of procedure by which any transitional Government should be set up. This is the first example of the difference between Document No. 2 and the Treaty, and it will stand up in judgment against you more times than now. There was an arrangement here— a transitional arrangement. I will read the paragraph. It will show, at any rate, that it is not tactics on my part:
“That by way of transitional arrangement for the administration of Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the setting up of a Parliament and Government of Ireland in accordance herewith, the members elected for constituencies in Ireland since the passing of the British Government of Ireland Act in 1920, shall, at a meeting summoned for the purpose, elect a transitional government to which the British Government and Dáil Eireann shall transfer the authority, powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties, provided that every member of such transitional government shall have signified in writing his or her acceptance of this instrument.”
Now, it is obvious that if a Treaty had come here which it would be constitutional for us to ratify as the Government of the Republic that a Provisional Government would have to be set up, and that it would have to derive its powers—seeing it is contested —we hold this would have to be signed by both parties, and therefore it would have to be a neutral document. The powers of that Provisional Government should be derived, from our point of view, which is the only point of view Irishmen will stand for, solely from this body. It will have no authority from the Irish nation unless it gets it definitely from this body which is the Government of the Irish Republic. As far as the British point of view is concerned, any claim that authority comes here from the King and Parliament and the rest of it—we deny that, and we will die denying it. I am sure nobody here will say for a moment that the authority of Ireland comes from any outside body. We are now in the position of Grattan and Flood. Flood said it was not the same thing to assert a thing yourself as to get acceptance of that assertion by other persons. You have simply the assertion now. That is no use. If somebody tries to press a claim on to you, and he admits that claim is not founded, or accepts some agreement which implies it is not founded, then there is no dispute. The assertion on our part is always in danger of being contested by someone else. Therefore I say peace is not established by that Treaty, because the contest will go on. Britain will assert  that it is from it we derive authority. We assert it is from Ireland.
MR. DE VALERA: This Assembly has no right to disestablish itself, or vote away the independence of Ireland. You have no power whatever unless it comes from the Government of the Republic which is established. Hence I say, if Mr. Griffith takes this Chief Executive, it is from this assembly. He can only do it undertaking it is going to function as the Executive of this assembly; that is, the Executive of the Government of the Republic of Ireland.
“Sinn Féin aims at securing international recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish Republic. Having achieved that status the Irish people may by referendum freely choose their own form of government.”
If Mr. Arthur Griffith had not agreed to that he would not have got the support of the people who are prepared to make any sacrifice for Ireland. He agreed to this. He got their support. He has broken that undertaking. Before he and the four delegates went away to start these negotiations, Mr. Griffith agreed that they would not come to any decision until they had at first submitted it to the Cabinet at home, and awaited the reply from the Cabinet. He also agreed that they would not sign any Treaty until it had first been submitted to the Cabinet here. On the Saturday before this Treaty was signed Mr. Griffith undertook to tell Mr. Lloyd George that, though he was not prepared to break, nevertheless he would sign nothing, and would come back to us having signed nothing. Mr. Griffith has broken that, and consequently, no matter what undertaking he gives now, I object to his being elected as President of the Dáil.
ALDERMAN COSGRAVE: On a point of order, a Chinn Chomhairle, a member having spoken is not entitled to speak again. The usual procedure is, whoever has to answer questions answers them in bulk at the end.
MR. SEAN MACSWINEY: Last night I said we wished to hear some questions answered. There was a list of questions before Mr. Griffith and we want them answered. We want the answers now before the vote is taken.
MR. HARRY BOLAND: When President de Valera put his resignation before this House the member for South Dublin said it was usual for a man seek-the support of this House to define his policy. Do you not think the same applies in this question, and that Mr. Griffith should be asked to define his policy.
The general powers for maintaining law and order, police, and the evacuation of the country by British troops. These are the answers to these questions. As to Mr. Boland's question and President de Valera's question: if I am elected I shall use my position to give effect to the constitutional vote of this assembly in approving of the Treaty. I shall use the resources at our disposal for the keeping of public order and security until such time as we can have an election for the Free State Parliament, and at that Free State Election I will let the will of the people decide whether we have a right to accept the Free State, or whether they wish something else.
MR. DE VALERA: It is absolutely necessary for us to have a definite answer to this question: will the President of Dáil Eireann about to be elected function as hitherto as the Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Republic?
MR. GRIFFITH: The President is, I understand, President of Dáil Eireann, according to the Constitution. The Dáil will remain in existence until such time—and I will see that it is kept in existence until such time—as we can have an election, when this question will be put to the people.
MR. DE VALERA: It is not an answer to my question. It is very important, because any orders from this assembly, to have legal effect with the army, will have to come from this body —from the Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Republic. They are called the Irish Republican Army and all the rest of it.
MR. DE VALERA: We want to know definitely. If you want them as a volunteer army, all right, but if you are going to order them as the Army of the Republic orders will have to come from the person who is elected as the Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Republic. I want to know definitely if Mr. Griffith is going to be President of this assembly as the Chief Executive of the Irish Republic, as the President hitherto functioned? The reason I want to know is this: if he is not going to do that, I hold that this assembly is no longer the Sovereign Assembly of the Irish nation, acting as the Government of the Irish Republic which it is officially called. This is, in the army and elsewhere, spoken of as Dáil Eireann, the Government of the Irish Republic. Therefore, if the Chief Executive Officer is elected, to have legal force his orders must come from him as such, and I want to know before I vote for him— and I am asking that, not merely for myself, but for every member on our side—we want to know definitely where he stands in that matter. Any vote taken, inconsistent with the position of the Republic as established, we hold is unconstitutional and illegal. The Treaty was approved, but, in a sense, this delegation did not act in accordance with the letter of the Treaty. You do not approve of anything you please. You approve of a definite written Treaty. If you fulfil that you will have to do this—you will have to carry out Article 17 to the letter:
“By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the Constitution of a Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith, steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and for constituting a provisional Government.”
Under that it is the British Government that has to transfer to you the powers. If you look at Document No. 2, Dáil Eireann gives you the powers. Otherwise you would be acting unconstitutionally. We hold this Government has not the authority of the Irish people until the Irish people have voted on it. Take your powers from the British Government and set it up. What does the vote in this assembly mean? It means that we will not, as the Government of the Republic, interfere with you; that you have, so to speak, a license to carry on. If it were not for that we would have to take action to prevent you from doing anything counter to it, as we would against Dublin Castle; but you can now go ahead by reason of the vote of the majority of this assembly to carry out that Treaty to the letter. That is what it is, and nothing else. I hold, therefore, if you want as the majority of this assembly to elect a President of this assembly, he will have to act as the Chief Executive of this of the Government of the Republic of Ireland.
MR. GRIFFITH: President de Valera yesterday threw this body into confusion by resigning and leaving no government in existence. Public order and security have to be maintained. If I am elected I will occupy whatever position President de Valera occupied.
MR. GRIFFITH: I do not mind a single rap about words. I say whatever position—if you like to put it that way— that the President resigned from yesterday, I will, if I am elected, occupy the same position until the Irish people have an opportunity of deciding for themselves.
MR. DE VALERA: That is a fair answer. I feel that I can sit down in this assembly while such an election is going on, because it is quite constitutional that Mr. Griffith, if elected, is going to be in the same position which I held, which is President of Dáil Eireann; that is, President of the Government of the Republic of Ireland. Now, the next question. As President and Chief Officer your duty will be to uphold and maintain the Republic of Ireland. That is your oath. You will, as President of that be in duty bound to uphold the Republic, and that was why Document No. 2 was so necessary. That is why I, as President, would not be keeping my oath if I did anything to subvert the established Government. Mr. Griffith will similarly be bound by that oath as I was, and he will have to give an express undertaking that he will not use his powers for anything except to maintain the established Government during the period until the other government is set up. In other words, whatever you do, that you will not use your office when acting as President of the Republic of Ireland in any way to subvert that Republic; that you will do nothing which will make that Republic less a fact in the minds of the Irish people than it is to-day. I hold you will be breaking your oath of office if you do anything else.
MR. DE VALERA: Yes, and I kept it to the letter. That is the difference  between Document No. 2 and the Treaty. You will see that I preserved in every line of it the established Republic. There is not a line of it inconsistent with the Republic, but there was what any Government might do, what France might do, what America was going to do, what some of them have done—go into the League of Nations and accept, if they wished to, any member of the pre-constituted group as President or head. I, therefore, say in reply to the question asked as to how I interpreted my oath, that I interpreted it in that fashion. I kept it, not merely for the interests of Ireland, but I kept it in the negotiations to the letter. Otherwise I felt I would be using personal views or something else to subvert my sworn oath as head of the nation.
MR. DE VALERA: My question then is: whether Mr. Griffith, who will occupy the same position as I have occupied, and which I interpreted as binding on me by oath, will not use his office to subvert the established Republic?
MR. DE VALERA: It is absolutely necessary, if we are going to have the opposite party, whose purpose is the subversion of the Republic, the turning of the Republic into a monarchy, the turning of independence into dependence, that we ask the chief exponent of that policy whether he is going to maintain and support something which his policy is to subvert and destroy. Surely we have a very good reason for asking that such an officer, before he is appointed—that he will not use his office which is intended to maintain a certain theory, to destroy it.
MR. LIAM MELLOWES: A Chinn Chomhairle, before the question is answered, may I also ask whether Mr. Griffith, if he is elected President and Prime Minister of the Dáil in accordance with the Constitution, will give an undertaking that he will not use the Executive authority of Dáil Eireann to summon and work the Provisional Government according to Articles 17 and 18 of the Treaty?
MR. GRIFFITH: President de Valera has asked me will I use my office to subvert the Irish Republic. I think I have already answered the question, but I will answer it again. I said if I am elected to this position I will keep the Republic in being until such time as the establishment of the Free State is put to the people, to decide for or against. But if it means am I not going to carry into effect, the will of this Sovereign Assembly about the Treaty, I am going to carry it into effect. This body has approved of the Treaty, this body wants the Treaty put through and then sent to the Irish people. That I am going to do, of course. Now, as to Mr. Mellowes' question: “If he is elected President and Prime Minister of the Dáil in accordance with the Constitution, will he give an undertaking that he will not use the Executive authority of Dáil Eireann to summon and work the Provisional Government appointed according to Articles 17 and 18 of the Treaty?” I do not quite understand that question, but I expect he means this: we must set up a Provisional Government under Articles 17 and 18. We are not setting up the Free State Government now. Of course, I am going to use all the machinery I can to put it into operation. Let nobody have the slightest misunderstanding about where I stand. I am in favour of this Treaty. I want this Treaty put into operation. I want the Provisional Government set up. I want the Republic to remain in being until the time when the people can have a Free State Election, and give their vote.
MISS MACSWINEY: A Chinn Chomhairle, I think this is a very serious matter. The President has asked certain definite questions. Mr. Griffith has answered that he will undertake to uphold, or rather that he will keep the Republic in being until a Free State Constitution is worked out. Now, I begin by quoting a leading article from the Times this morning. I think it will keep us quite clear:
“Dáil Eireann, acting for the people, has endorsed the Treaty; that is, it has by a majority approved of  the Treaty. To-day we hope that it will authorise Mr. Griffith to summon the Parliament of Southern Ireland for some day in the present week.”
That is what Mr. Griffith is looking for authority to do from this Republican Government of Ireland. We must be quite clear, and I think Mr. Griffith's answer has made us quite clear that Mr. Griffith means to use his authority as Chief Executive to get Dáil Eireann endorsed by Mr. Lloyd George as the Provisional Government of Ireland. That includes the four members of Trinity College and the exclusion of Seán O'Mahony. Mr. Michael Collins, in his speech proposing the motion before you, talked in his usual bluff, good-humoured fashion, of any kind of action being better than no action. Now, I maintain that is absolutely wrong on the face of it. Is it better for me to sit quietly and do nothing or to go out and murder somebody? Surely no action in that case would be infinitely better than any kind of action. Mr. Collins suggests that he and Mr. Griffith should be calmly allowed to murder the Irish Republic. He said many things, and I am going to deal with the chief points in his speech. But one thing he said which is important: “that Dáil Eireann is not going to be more solemn”—he had said it was the Parliament of the Irish nation. He said it was not going to be more solemn because——
MISS MACSWINEY: That is still more important. It is not going to be more sovereign because Lloyd George says it is. There is the cat out of the bag. The English morning papers are full of the difficulties with which the English Government is faced in legalising an assembly which will be the Provisional Government of Ireland; and Mr. Lloyd George played up to the sentiment of the Irish people by letting them think Dáil Eireann is going to do this thing. Not only that, but two members of the delegation have been carefully playing up to the sentiment of the younger members of this House throughout the whole of the negotiations. Mr. Michael Collins' speech this morning was absolutely along those lines. Dáil Eireann is the sovereign Parliament of the Irish nation but it is expressly, under its Constitution, the Government of the Republic of Ireland.
“I do solemnly swear and affirm that I do not and shall not yield voluntary support to any pretended government, authority, or power with in Ireland, hostile or inimical thereto, and I do further swear that to the best of my knowledge and ability I will support and defend the Irish Republic and the Government of the Irish Republic, which is Dáil Eireann, against all enemies foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation.”
Now, Mr. Griffith is looking for the Chief Executive power of this Parliament to-day; and he has been asked if, before accepting it or asking us to vote on it, he will give us an undertaking to uphold the Republic in virtue and in accordance with that oath. He has also been asked if he will give an undertaking that he will not use the powers vested in him to summon or work the Provisional Government according to Articles 17 and 18 of the Treaty. He has stated, in answer to another question that he is to summon the Provisional Government, or rather, a meeting of members elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland. Now, Mr. Arthur Griffith therefore has to act in two capacities. He has to act, if he is elected by this House this morning, as Chief Executive of the Irish Republic. He has also declared he has to—he has been deputed by Mr. Lloyd George—to summon this meeting of the members who are to appoint a Provisional Government. All we ask from Mr. Griffith is a solemn undertaking here  publicly in this House, and before the country, that he will not confuse or merge the two offices, that he will keep distinctly here in Dáil Eireann his Executive power as Chief Executive of the Irish Republic, and that, as plain Mr. Arthur Griffith without any authority from Dáil Eireann, he will go out and summon the Provisional Government apart from this Assembly altogether or summon the meeting of members elected to sit for constituencies in Southern Ireland. Now, we want Mr. Griffith to-day to give a solemn declaration in this House, and before the country, that he will not merge those two offices into one, that he will go as Mr. Griffith, Chairman of the Delegation, and summon the meeting that is to set up the Provisional Government; that he will act as Prime Minister of this Assembly; and that the two Mr. Griffiths will have no connection whatever, as far as their offices go. That is what we are asking —Mr. Griffith's solemn undertaking before this House and before the Irish nation. Surely that is clear. And I appeal to the members of this House who have voted for the Treaty, and who, in voting for the Treaty, have declared again and again that they are not voting against the Republic—and I believe them—I believe they were perfectly honest in declaring that in voting for the Treaty they are not voting against the Republic. They voted against the re-election of President de Valera yesterday because they were told it had to be a party vote; they were told that if they voted for President de Valera they would be voting for the rejection of the Treaty. I appeal to them now with all the force that is in me to realise the great importance to the Irish nation of keeping Mr. Griffith's two offices absolutely and entirely distinct. Do not allow Lloyd George to endorse Dáil Eireann—it is what he wants to do—as the Provisional Government, and to invite the four Trinity College members into it and exclude Mr. Seán O'Mahony. Mr. Seán O'Mahony cannot be excluded from Dáil Eireann, Mr. Arthur Griffith.
MISS MACSWINEY: Every representative in Ireland—even in the North-East Corner—is a member of Dáil Eireann, and if he only comes in and sits here we will welcome him if he takes the Oath of Allegiance. Moreover, every member in Ireland cannot sit in Mr. Griffith's parliament, or at the meeting of members summoned for constituencies of Southern Ireland. Before Mr. Griffith can use this Assembly in order to set up his Provisional Government he has to exclude Mr. Seán O'Mahony, and Mr. Seán O'Mahony is the test in this case, because he is the only member who sits for a constituency in what is called Northern Ireland, and has no seat in Southern Ireland, so-called. Further, and I ask you young men of this assembly who mean the Republic but who are voting for its subversion, to think carefully over this—if you elect Mr. Griffith without first getting a declaration from him, given to us solemnly here and to the Irish nation, that he will not combine the Executive power of Dáil Eireann with his office as Chairman of the Delegation to summon the meeting for Southern Ireland—I ask you to do that—that Mr. Griffith if he dares to use this Assembly, or the sixty-four members of it that support him, because he cannot use us, will first exclude Mr. Seán O'Mahony. Nothing would please Mr. Lloyd George better than that you, by your vote here to-day, should elect Mr. Griffith as Executive of this Assembly and then let Mr. Griffith, as Executive of this Assembly, summon this meeting to set up a Provisional Government, because then he would be able to say that Dáil Eireann sanctioned the setting up of the Provisional Government. Dáil Eireann has not done that. Now, Mr. Collins asked us do we believe that he will be less against England if she breaks her word than he has been in the past. No, I do not, in heart. I believe he would be as much against her, but he is taking away from himself the power to be against her. It is not the will he is taking from himself; it is the power, and well England knows it. In my hotel this morning I sat at breakfast and heard two Englishmen discussing this matter. One said to the other: “They will have to disestablish that Dáil Eireann before they can set up the Provisional Government.” Now, that is what Mr. Griffith is asking you to do—to disestablish Dáil  Eireann as the Sovereign Assembly of the Irish Republic, and set up an emasculated thing which will be the Provisional Government and, having done that, then this emasculated Assembly with the best gone from it, will appoint the Provisional Government and set up the Free State. That Assembly will not be Dáil Eireann, because, unless Mr. Griffith definitely gives that solemn promise to-day—that he will not combine the two offices, or, failing to give it, unless he is beaten in this Assembly to-day he and everyone who votes with him is automatically declaring himself guilty of treason, and voting himself out of Dáil Eireann. You do not kill Dáil Eireann, but you kill your own right to use the name. Mr. Collins has also said that he does not mind calling it Dáil Eireann. This meeting does object to this evil thing—“Call it Dáil Eireann, or get some other Irish name.” You cannot call it Dáil Eireann because Dáil Eireann has been declared by the people to be the Government of the Irish Republic, and has been given that mandate and nothing else. Mr. Collins has also said that the North-East will say so and so; that they cannot come in while we talk and not make up our minds. We have made up our minds definitely. We have not changed them. They have. He also says that England will say they will have to remain in the country to preserve law and order. Let her say it; she has been saying it for a very long time, but never before drew from a Republican a desire, in order to win Mr. Lloyd George's good opinion, to subvert the authority of the Irish Republic. That is what it is—subverting the authority of the Irish Republic. We will maintain law and order all right. He says we will give the English an excuse for remaining in the country. Very well. The Irish Republic, when Mr. Collins has come back to his senses and to the Irish Republic, will be able to teach Mr. Lloyd George that it is the best of his policy to get out of our country. If this subversion of the Irish Republic should be forced on the country by a majority here, the Irish Republic cannot and it has no desire, I understand from President de Valera, to actively oppose the Provisional Government, but that Provisional Government is not, and will not be, Dáil Eireann. Dáil Eireann remains the Government of the Republic of Ireland. Mr. Michael Collins was also very emphatic about what the attitude of the English would be. There he contradicted a statement of his own a few moments before, that we were entering on a different era, and that the French people and the German people, if they had been consulted in the matter of the war, would have a different solution of the war from the one their Governments had. We all agree with him, I am sure. Were we to get the opinion of the English people on the President's alternative—there are things in it unpalatable to most of us, but there was no subversion of the Irish Republic. Now, that is what matters. Mr. Griffith will remember that before ever this Session of Dáil Eireann met that I remonstrated with him about the signing of that document and said to him: “take out the Dominion status, the Governor-General and the oath and even now we will stand together for the rest of it.” That shows that I, even though I would not like to give England a penny, or let a soldier of hers in our ports, am quite willing to realise that on account of our propinquity to England we will have to give up a little of the inessentials. When I say inessentials I do not mean money is not an essential, but I do mean it is not a principle. I would give England money, as I said before, in exactly the same spirit in which I would give a robber a reward for giving me back my purse. As to the attitude of the English people over there about Paddy and the pig, my own impression was that we had outlived that by about fifty years.
MISS MACSWINEY: My attitude if they talked like that would be an attitude of the most intense superiority. I never heard anything like their impudence, and I told them so, and remember, as you are strong so can you afford to be merciful, and when English fools talk like that why should we, in the strength of our knowledge of our own inherent culture, and the knowledge of the inherent greatness of the Irish people, be bothered by hitting them on the nose? Do you think that I am going to bother my head by hitting a little pup on the nose—a cur that may come to bark at me in the street.
MISS MACSWINEY: We are discussing what Mr. Collins said—that the attitude of the English people was very insulting towards us, and that he had often heard insulting remarks about Paddy and the pig. I quite agree with Deputy O'Maille that it is tee-totally and entirely out of order, but it was Mr. Collins brought it in, not I. It was brought as a red-herring across the trail to show the English people are not friendly. Perhaps! But they are friendly to themselves, and the English people will not go to war on the difference between what Mr. Michael Collins is willing to give and what we are willing to give; and if they have any sense at all the English people will know from the debate here that we are in a position to deliver the goods, and that the delegation are not. There is my point. They must know that this Republican minority of ours is as anti-English as ever it was, and that this Treaty of theirs will not mean peace. They must know perfectly well that we will go on subverting their influence and their interests in every part of the world where England's interests lie. Therefore, when we say we are willing to make peace on certain terms, we are not only willing to do it, but we are able to do it. The Chairman of the Delegation and the whole delegation with him—bar one member of it, who has stood out supremely honourable though, I must confess, weak—who wants us to take this thing now, is not playing for peace with the English people. They cannot, between the whole lot of them, deliver the goods because, I hold, the Irish nation gave them and gave us their mandate; and we are true to our mandate, while the majority of this House who supported the Treaty were false to it. I ask this House in voting on this question to get from Mr. Arthur Griffith the undertaking that we want him to give us and to the Irish nation publicly to-day—that he will not, as Chief Executive of this House, summon that meeting; that he will only do it as Mr. Arthur Griffith, Chairman of the Delegation, not as President of An Dáil; that he will not use Dáil Eireann note-paper to summon that meeting, that he will not use any single official title given him by Dáil Eireann, or any official paper, or anything else of Dáil Eireann. If he gives us this solemn declaration then we can, as long as he is Executive of this House, forget he is Mr. Arthur Griffith, Chairman of the Delegation, and summoner of the meeting for the Provisional Government, and we can stay with him here still; but if he does not give that undertaking solemnly and publicly here without any evasion, then we can no longer have any hand, act, or part in this thing; and I ask the younger members of this assembly to realise what they are doing and support us in asking Mr. Griffith for that undertaking.
MR. GRIFFITH: I did not interrupt Miss MacSwiney because she might have taken offence at it, but there was absolutely no necessity for her asking that question. I will summon this body to constitute the Provisional Government as Chairman of the Delegation, not as head of Dáil Eireann.
MR. P. BRENNAN: I resent very much one remark made by Deputy Miss MacSwiney. I do not mean any insult now to the other side, because there are good men on the other side. She said if her side left this assembly the best would be gone from it. It is hard to have to listen to that sort of thing.
DR. FERRAN: I rise to oppose the motion that Mr. Arthur Griffith be Premier of this House. Mr. Griffith, in his answer to one of the questions to-day, admitted that he was palpably tricked by Mr. Lloyd George. Mr. Griffith, when he got this document, found it was labelled “Articles of Agreement.” He sent it back to Downing Street, and some clerk there blotted out the words “Articles of Agreement” and substituted “Treaty,” and when he had that done he thought he had got a Treaty. In an answer to a question put by him to Mr. Lloyd George within the last few days he found he had no Treaty at all. Now, as regards the Presidency: it is necessary, I understand, that the head of every State when assuming office shall, by solemn oath, give an undertaking to maintain the Constitution of that State. That is a precaution that all States have found  necessary for their own existence. Now, I want to ask Mr. Griffith is he prepared, if elected, to give that undertaking by solemn oath, that he will preserve the Constitution of this State, which is the Irish Republic?
MR. GRIFFITH: I am not going to answer Doctor Ferran, and I shall not do so any more. I object to this manner of jumping up and putting pharisaical questions to me. The oath that President de Valera took I can take with the same covering clause President de Valera put into it, that he would take it for the good of Ireland, and use it to do the best for Ireland.
MR. DE VALERA: I am speaking to the motion now. I asked some questions before. I just want to say this: that I think the other side know me sufficiently well to know I am not doing this through tacties, or trickery, or anythink of that kind. I am doing it because I know the condition of the country, and I know perfectly well that if the Chief Executive of this House does not send orders as the Chief Executive of the Republic of Ireland, he will not be obeyed, because the men will be automatically dispensed from their oath of allegiance. I want to see that the thing is done in a proper constitutional way, so that there will be no way out of it. I was opposed for election last night on the ground—a very good ground it was —that, as I was opposed to the Treaty, it was presumed I would work for the Republic as against the establishment of the Free State. The position I would occupy would be a very difficult one, in which I would be, by the terms of my oath, faithfully bound to take active steps to maintain the Republic, which would be made difficult by the vote of this Assembly. Now, take Mr. Griffith's position: it is doubly difficult because he is supposed with the right hand to maintain the Republic and, with the left, to knock it down. I say it is a mistake for any individual giving this support to become a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the matter. He cannot do it. No matter what Mr. Griffith says or undertakes to do, every Republican in the country will be suspicious of every act he is taking in the name of the Republic. It does not conduce, I hold, to the maintenance of order, or it is not to the interests of the country at the present time, that Mr. Griffith should hold that office. He will understand that, as far as I am concerned, my sentiments are practically the same with respect to him. I am not opposing him in any personal way, but for the good of the country. I say when I took the oath I adhered to it to the letter. I was so sensitive on that point and about the obligations of my oath as Chief Executive Officer, that I said they would have to remember, if they did elect me, that I would interpret it in a certain fashion. I felt then, even with that explanation that, nevertheless, it was my duty to obey that oath and carry it out to the letter in so far as I was able. If there was a settlement that would make it consistent I would be on the other side, if I was in a minority of one. I am on this side definitely, because the arrangement is not in accordance with the oath and the position I occupied; and because I believe that I could get an arrangement that was; and I felt that as long as that arrangement was possible, I would not be doing my duty to the Republic or acting in the best interests of Ireland. Mr. Griffith cannot take that oath; he cannot act as Chief Executive Officer of this Republic, bound with his right hand to uphold it, and bound to another undertaking which means that with his left he is undermining it. I say it is an impossible position. I only ask for the good of the country that Mr. Griffith would not take that office; that he would allow some arrangement to be made by which somebody who could act as Chief Executive Officer of this assembly—who will act and be bound to act on behalf of the Republic—would do so; and that Mr. Griffith would go on and carry out what this House has approved of, namely, the terms of that Treaty.
MR. GAVAN DUFFY: A Chinn Chomhairle, I have often heard candidates for office being invited to give pledges in consideration of support which would be extended to them if the answers were found satisfactory, but this is the first time I have heard a candidate being asked to give pledges, being listened to giving these pledges, and then being told that, having satisfactorily answered the questions he would be opposed more strongly than ever. That strikes me as a totally novel departure. The key-note of this debate really lies  in the statement made by President de Valera yesterday: “Addressing a silent and solemn Assembly,” as the newspapers say, he said: “I suggest that the first business should be to make arrangements for the continuance and government of the State.” That is what we are up against. That is what has to be done. Let us face facts. I made my own position pretty clear on the Treaty. I do not like it; I never did like it. There are many others who think with me about it, that it is a bitter thing to have to accept, but that we had to accept it because we saw no real alternative. A point was made against the other side, and fairly made, during the debate, that they were a coalition; some of them, for instance, taking one view about the oath, others taking a vow for life to the Republic, and so on. I say in perfect fairness that we are a coalition, too; because it is obvious that, just as the degree of opposition to the Treaty on the other side varies with different people, so does the degree in which persons on this side like the Treaty, although they all agreed to support it as a matter of necessity; and the degree with which they like it varies, too. Necessarily, under circumstances of this kind, you will have to deal with a coalition, because a sudden and unexpected turn of events has taken place; and people have had to make up their minds upon developments which they had not looked forward to before. But this much is clear: up to now the English have looked upon this country with contempt—up to the recent fight—and the reason why we have got to the present position of having terms offered us by the English is because that contempt has given way to healthy fear, and it is our duty to see that healthy fear remains, and that we do not give them any reason to resume their former attitude by adopting an unreal attitude in this assembly. I should like to remind the Deputies of the other side that the first article of the Constitution says: “That all legislative powers shall be vested in Dáil Eireann.” And therefore it was for Dáil Eireann to approve of that Treaty, and no other body whatever had authority from the Irish people to approve it and make that approval binding. Dáil Eireann has approved of the Treaty and it follows, as night the day, that it is the duty of Dáil Eireann to take the steps necessary to give effect to that approval. The Minister of Finance spoke yesterday on the question of funds, and, I take it, he gave very adequate evidence of the fact that he intended to deal absolutely fairly with those who disagreed with him in that important matter; and I think that those who are against the Treaty, knowing the persons they have to deal with on this side, may fairly rest assured on that at all events. But those who are for the Treaty are entitled to ask for fairness from them. Anyhow the Republic goes on, and must go on until it is superseded by the Free State. That is unanimously agreed. The Republic goes on, and the Republic must have a Government. A proposal was made yesterday on behalf of those against the Treaty that President de Valera should be re-elected. They put forward for re-election their best man, and Dáil Eireann declined to re-elect him, many of us voting much against our own will. We felt it was the only thing to do because, in view of your vote on Saturday, you would have been making yourselves ridiculous in the eyes of the country and in the eyes of the world if you did otherwise. It is admitted you must have a government. Surely that government must be a government representative of the majority of this House. What alternative is suggested to us? I have heard none.
MR. GAVAN DUFFY: The Southern Parliament is not the Government of the Republic. Until the Free State comes into being Dáil Eireann must continue. No man here with this Constitution before him—“that all legislative powers come from Dáil Eireann”— can suggest any other body as the Government of this country. You must set up your Provisional Government— get the English out and take over the powers that lay in their hands. But I yet have to hear any suggestion from the other side as to what is to be done for carrying on the Government if you do not elect a representative of the majority to carry it on. We have heard Mr. Griffith peppered with innumerable questions. He answered them, I hope, to the satisfaction of the leaders on the other side.
MR. DUFFY: He gave plain straight answers to the questions put to him, and the result of that apparently is, that having answered those questions, and recognising that the Republic would continue, and recognising every item he was asked to recognise, he is now told, having done his best to satisfy these men, that they are going to vote against him. What answers did they want to get other than the answers he gave? I fail to see for what purpose these questions were put, unless that they mean— in this way—“answer these questions in the way we think they ought to be answered and we will vote for you.” I have not heard on what principle those answers are considered unsatisfactory, and if he gave a straight answer, then I say that the people who put these questions ought to support him and to recognise that they themselves are in a minority and that you cannot govern this country by a Government that represents the minority and not the majority. There is one thing more I would like to say. It is this: it seems to me this question of the Republican Government and the Provisional Government is really a much simpler one than it looks. So far as the Irish people are concerned, the Government elected by Dáil Eireann will be the Government of the Irish people. In the transition period, when you have agreed to take over from the usurping English Government the powers they have got in this country, when you have agreed that the machinery for so doing will be called the Provisional Government, which is working but which will not take over those powers, you will have, at the same time, the Government of the Republic, which must exist as long as the Republic exists, to keep the form of the Republic in being. You will also have what I may call the machinery of government, which may or may not consist of the same Government machinery; the Government recognised by the English as Dáil Eireann would not be recognised for the purpose of carrying out the necessary arrangements to give Ireland the powers to which she is entitled. I do not think any logical objection can be taken to that. I will congratulate the other side. I do think, on the whole, they have shown a much more reasonable attitude to-day than they did yesterday. If they are beginning to be more reasonable, I ask them to go a little further and recognise the logical outcome—the logical corollary—to the attitude they have taken of putting questions to the candidate for Premiership and getting the answers they expected and wanted to get, which is, that they should acquiesee in the Government of this country, instead of putting up a fictitious opposition.
MISS MACSWINEY: Mr. Gavan Duffy said we got the answers we expected and wanted to get. I beg to assure him that I got the answer I expected, but not the answer I wanted to get. Again I ask that he will not use the machinery of Dáil Eireann to uphold any other Government.
MR. SEAN ETCHINGHAM: Yesterday that vote could have been taken before lunch. An adjournment was moved by the majority and we know the reason why. I just want to say a few words on this. I am in opposition to the election of Arthur Griffith. I am sorry for that, for old times' sake. I say the answers we got to what we want to know were given us yesterday when the majority—we were in a minority of two—refused to elect Eamonn de Valera as President of the Irish Republic. We got the answer then, and a writer in an English Sunday paper who was present here at the debate, in writing of Eamonn de Valera, said: “There was one thing he might do; he might lead his country to disaster, but he would never lead it to dishonour.” It is because I am firmly convinced that the election of Arthur Griffith will lead Ireland to both disaster and dishonour that I oppose it. I have not an accommodating mind. Deputy Duffy says we have come here in a different frame of mind to-day. The only difference in my mind yesterday and to-day is this: that I am more sorrowful than ever. I have never been pessimistic about the future of my country, but I was when President de Valera was turned down. He talks of the healthy fear the English have or that they would not have negotiations. He talks of the unreal attitude of this Assembly. Will that healthy fear be continued now when you elect Arthur Griffith instead of Eamonn de Valera? No! certainly not. I only wish to goodness that we could give to the Irish  people the private documents we had here at the Private Session of An Dáil. Every private document that could be brought up from the Cabinet of Dáil Eireann in Dublin was exposed to ridicule by party politicians on the other side. I was very sorry for that. The members of the delegation in London pledged their word of honour to Lloyd George and his men that they would not give to the Irish people nor to any one else these documents until Lloyd George would give them liberty to do so. But if the Irish people had read some of these documents the Irish people would know that Lloyd George would look upon Arthur Griffith as a most accommodating man, as a man who would not let Lloyd George down, and he would know on the other hand, that Eamonn de Valera would not let the Irish people down, or the Irish Republic down, and he would have a healthy fear of Ireland as a consequence. That is the situation. That is why I oppose Arthur Griffith, because he will have an accommodating mind, and he will not let Lloyd George down—and that is on record. Now, if Arthur Griffith was the man he was when he ploughed the soil to make Ireland what Ireland is to-day, or what Ireland was last year, I would vote for him. Over and over again he told us he was a Separatist. He is not that to-day. What is the consequence? We have it here with us. Now, in the United Irishman of February 22nd, 1902, he said, in ridiculing Sir Horace Punkett, that: “possibly Sir Horace Plunkett may come to believe with us that the permanent remedy for Ireland's disease is separation, but his conversion is not likely.” That was written by Arthur Griffith in the United Irishman on February 22nd, 1902. What is the result to-day? I saw a caricature of Horace Plunkett as a big fat bullock and Arthur Griffith as a little bottle of oxo (laughter). Horace Plunkett, addressing Arthur Griffith, says: “Alas! my poor brother” (laughter). What a tragedy! I say I will not make use of that in a public assembly—the picture, I mean (laughter). I am giving you a word picture of it with sorrow. The Minister of Finance gave us a pretty picture. I have often seen a team of horses under a plough. He wanted something to move the plough. What has he got? I have seen a team of horses galloping away from a gadfly. And who is moving the plough. Put Arthur Griffith at the handles, but Lloyd George is the gadfly that stung the horses. Lloyd George is the gadfly, and the team of horses is the Irish people. God knows, this terrible warble, if it is not squeezed out, what amount of worms it will leave in the Irish people. Now, the Deputy for Dublin spoke of maintaining the Irish Republic and Parliament. I was amused. On Saturday afternoon, with agony, I listened to the statement that we never had a Republic. I was wondering what feelings Mr. Robins and others had about it. We have a great number of Girondists in this assembly.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: He said his constituents never believed we had. Doctor MacGinley said we only had a paper Republic, and that the people of Donegal were tired of that. Anything to carry the Treaty. Now we are going to maintain the Republic until we get the Free State into existence! I am not a bit deceived. I expected these answers. I would not ask my old friend, Arthur Griffith, a question about it, because I know he is to put up the Free State and not maintain the Republic. I protest against degrading this Assembly so far as to make it the machinery for putting up the Free State. You cannot legally do so and, in God's name, summon this Southern Parliament and set it up, but do not degrade the name of Dáil Eireann with it. God knows we have compromised enough, and it may be the last occasion on which I will address this assembly. It comes to that. It came to it yesterday when you turned down the only man that could make peace in this country—and you know it; the man all Ireland looks to and has trust in, that man you turned down. And you knew perfectly well if you had elected him President of the Republic he would not have interfered with you so long as you were working for Ireland's good. He has been ousted. Arthur Griffith cannot deny that he pledged his word to the President of the Republic and the Minister of Defence in the Mansion House, Dublin, on December 3rd, that he would not sign any document until he returned; and he did  sign and pledge his word to Lloyd George that none of these documents should be made public. He said he has pledged his word.
MR. DE VALERA: We must be clear on this. Nobody here will be able to accuse me of at any time telling any untruth. I say it is a solemn truth that the Chairman of the Delegation, on leaving us at the Cabinet meeting— otherwise things might have been different—gave an undertaking that any document which involved allegiance to the Crown, and involved our being British subjects would not be signed until it was submitted to Dáil Eireann.
MR. GRIFFITH: I have sat here and I have listened for weeks to misrepresentations. At the Private Session we had all this up, and we are having it at the Public Session now. The first line of attack on us was that we had exceeded our powers. President de Valera admitted that we had not. On that Saturday after I came back I was at the Cabinet meeting, and I told them I would not break on the Crown. I asked President de Valera himself to go to London if he wished. When I was going away the President asked me to try and get the thing back to Dáil Eireann. I tried, and I tried all I could, to get the matter kept back for a week. I could not succeed. I was faced with the responsibility of signing or not signing. The responsibility was placed on me and I signed. I protest against the misrepresentation that I was a man who pledged his word to something. The Deputy for Wexford also charged me with something—he intended to convey to the Irish people that I, in some way, connived with Lloyd George. That is a damnable lie and he knows it.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: The Chairman of the Delegation has stated in very plain language that a charge of mine, as he put it, is a damnable lie. I was only repeating in connection with the Mansion House what has been repeated here, and what has been read in the newspaper. He ought to be grateful to me for giving him an opportunity of making the explanation he did. Another thing he charged me with was that I had spoken—and I did with sorrow—of an interview that he gave to the Press Association in London, immediately after the signing of the Treaty. You can say what you like of that. I have over and over again repeated it here. I never heard a word of denial of it, nor I do not now. What I complained of was that Arthur Griffith said seven-and-a-half centuries of fight was over—Irish liberty was won—and our people took it as such. I was here on Saturday evening, and I am thankful to say he retreated from that and said anything may happen in ten years. The Minister of Finance said like a man that this is not a final settlement. I do not believe anyone in Ireland believes it is. I made the statement because it is on record that Mr. Griffith said that Irish liberty was won. Whether he thinks it or not I really am sorry for opposing him, for old times' sake, because he is the man who ploughed the soil, and a number in Ireland sowed the seed. He does not seem the same man to-day that he was when he was in the plough before. The plough he used then was the Sinn Féin plough—an Irish plough. The plough he is using now—and he is coming to us under that plough—is a London-manufactured  plough, a Downing Street plough. That is the tragedy of it; and no matter what he states he may do in the future, he has avowed that he will put up the Free State, which means the destruction of the Irish Republic.
MR. DE VALERA: As a protest against the election as President of the Irish Republic of the Chairman of the Delegation, who is bound by the Treaty conditions to set up a State which is to subvert the Republic, and who, in the interim period, instead of using the office as it should be used—to support the Republic—will, of necessity, have to be taking action which will tend to its destruction, I, while this vote is being taken, as one, am going to leave the House.
MR. GRIFFITH: A Chinn Chomhairle, I repeat now what I said before when asked the question. As Premier I suppose I may say the Dáil and the Republic exist until such time as the Free State Government is set up. When that Free State Government is set up I intend that the Irish people shall have the fullest power of expression at that election. When the Dáil—the sovereign body in Ireland—passed that vote of approval of the Treaty, it was our business, and our duty to the Dáil, to see it carried through, and I regret, myself, that President de Valera resigned. When he resigned and automatically brought all his Ministers with him, Ireland was left without any Government. Therefore, someone had to be proposed to take his place in accordance with the Constitution. Now, in accordance with the Constitution, the Premier proposes his Ministers and the Dáil ratifies them. Now, I propose the six Cabinet Ministers for the Dáil: Finance Minister: Mr. Michael Collins.
|Last Updated: 16/05/2011 19:31:14||Page of 27|