Tuesday, 28 February 1922
Dáil Éireann Debate
PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: I assume, a Chinn Chomhairle, that we will proceed with Number Three on the Orders of the Day.—Ceapadh na n-Airí do dheimhniú (Ratification of Appointment of Ministers). Cabinet Ministers were nominated here and approved of by the Dáil. Outside Ministers have since been appointed and I have to ask the Dáil now for the ratification of these members. The first is: Aire na Tráchtála—Earnán de Blaghd (Minister for Trade).
MR. MACGRATH: I have given all the time that is necessary. I don't know that I should answer this question at all, but, as a matter of fact, I am giving all the time that is necessary to carry out the work of the Department, and it has been carried out efficiently since I took it up.
CATHAL BRUGHA: I would like to know, a Chinn Chomhairle, is it a fact that the staff in this Department has been reduced from seven to two? It is just for my own information I want to know whether it is a fact or not.
MR. SEAN MACENTEE: A Chinn Chomhairle, may I ask if it is a fact that a considerable proportion of the staff of Dáil Eireann Labour Department has been transferred to the City Hall and is working there in conjunction with the Labour Department of the Provisional Government? If so it would seem that Mr. MacGrath was not prepared to keep the Dáil Departments functioning as they were before the Articles of Agreement were signed—that is, to their fullest possible extent, and to function as the only Labour Department of this country competent to deal with Labour disputes among the Irish people. We have reason to believe——
MR. MACENTEE: I am going to make a speech in regard to it unless these questions are answered satisfactorily. Unless we are certain that the gentlemen who are going to be appointed will act in the spirit of the pact entered into at the Ard-Fheis we, of course, cannot agree or assent to their appointments as Ministers. There is, in regard to this Department, a certain matter of doubt. Throughout the labour troubles that have taken place since the establishment of the Provisional Government—labour disputes which those who stand for the Republic are very well aware did not take place and were capable of easy settlement under the regime of the Republic—we, who understood that the Ministers had been appointed to uphold the Republic until it was disestablished by a vote of the Irish people, see that the Labour Department of Dáil Eireann has been absolutely subverted by the Labour Department of the Provisional Government. Before we can assent to the appointment of a Minister here today we must have a satisfactory assurance that the Minister of Labour appointed here will function solely as the representative of the Dáil in all labour disputes which may take place between now and the election.
MR. MACENTEE: In order that we may be certain of that I want to know is it a fact that by far the larger portion of the original staff of the Labour Department has been transferred from the Labour Department of Dáil Eireann to the Labour Department of the Provisional Government, and is it not a fact that the present staff of the Dáil Labour Department are getting no work to do and are, accordingly, there as caretakers; and that all labour troubles arising in Ireland are transferred from the Department of the Dáil to the Labour Department of the Provisional Government?
MR. MACGRATH: The members of the staff who have been transferred to the City Hall are working under my direct supervision as the Dáil Eireann Labour Department. Not a single sheet of notepaper has been used but Dáil Eireann notepaper, and not a single stamp has been used. Now, the percentage of cases that have been dealt  with in the Dáil Department since I took it up is the highest since Dáil Eireann was established.
MR. DE VALERA: A Chinn Chomhairle, I would like to ask this question: what is the relation between the Minister for Education of Dáil Eireann and another Minister for Education that we hear spoken of?
MR. DE VALERA: This is the sovereign assembly of the nation. The Minister of Education is responsible to us. We hear of other people acting in some other capacity as Minister of Education. We want to know who is responsible to Dáil Eireann for the education of the country?
MR. DE VALERA: This House, as the sovereign assembly of the nation, has power over every matter of education in Ireland; and as such the Minister of Education whose appointment is about to be ratified by Dáil Eireann is responsible to this assembly for all questions of Irish education. Will all those in Ireland who will not recognise anything but Dáil Eireann have the right to make application to the Minister of Dáil Eireann and not be compelled to correspond with any other Minister?
MR. DE VALERA: It does not matter how they came about. There is a Minister of Education here, responsible to Dáil Eireann, which has been admitted by you to be the sovereign Parliament of this nation. In all questions relating to education the Irish people must have somebody with whom they can correspond, and who will act in their name in educational matters. Are we to take it that the Minister who is to be appointed here will be responsible to us for all matters of education?
MR. DE VALERA: We want to know definitely whether the Minister of Education is a mere figurehead holding a mere nominal office, or whether he will be answerable to Dáil Eireann for the education of the country; and whether he proposes to use, for example, the schemes of education and the machinery of Government already set up?
MR. M. HAYES: That makes the matter clear. A majority in this House decided upon a certain course of action with regard to the Treaty—to set up a Provisional Government. The departments of education in this country which had never functioned under Dáil Eireann are now at the disposal of the Provisional Government; and Dáil Eireann through me, by amicable arrangement with the Provisional Government, operates in these departments. It is only by virtue of the Treaty and the vote of the majority of this House that we can now  get possession of the machinery of these departments, and which I am myself, in point of fact, using (hear, hear).
MISS MACSWINEY: May I ask a question as it is one that affects me very closely? I have always been engaged in education and, as I have already announced from this House, I would absolutely have nothing to do with the Provisional Government or any Government that might arise from it. I am perfectly willing to deal with the Minister of Dáil Eireann. As far as the Ministers of the Provisional Government are concerned, it does not make any difference whatever in this question. He, as the Minister of Education of Dáil Eireann, would have my first support and submission in my capacity as head of a school. Now, I want to know, in view of the new arrangement, if he will undertake to deal with the education of Ireland as Minister of Dáil Eireann and not refer me, in any communication I have to make to him, to any other Government than the Government of Dáil Eireann?
MR. M. HAYES: That is a question which does sometimes arise. When I get a letter, for example, which would require the machinery of the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland to answer, I either have to refuse to answer or refer to the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland, the machinery of which I am using for various purposes through the Provisional Government.
MR. DE VALERA: I am raising this in order that there will be some system by which a part of the country which will undoubtedly not recognise the machinery that is being set up, but will recognise Dáil Eireann, will have an opportunity of getting educational questions concerning this country dealt with. In other words, I want to know whether the Minister here is supreme in education or not—whether by his appointment here as Minister he is supreme in his Department or whether he is a subordinate?
MR. M. HAYES: To suggest that the Minister of Education is supreme in educational matters is very extraordinary. It is a manifest fact that the Minister of Education in Dáil Eireann was not supreme in educational matters. The suggestions of the educational authorities were very often not received. In my present capacity I have power to see that the suggestions which I think should be carried out are carried out, but that can only be done through the machinery of the Provisional Government. That is one of the facts of the situation and no amount of drawing of cobwebs about the facts can alter them. If you like to make me —to use the Minister of Finance's phrase —do the dirty work, by applying to the Provisional Government, very well. All the machinery formerly in the hands of the British Government is now in the hands of the Provisional Government and, by arrangement with them, can be put at my disposal.
MR. RICHARD MULCAHY: Is it not a fact that whatever powers are in the hands of the Minister of Education for the Provisional Government are used by him only in accordance with the policy of the Minister of Education for this Dáil?
THE ACTING SPEAKER: A question has been put to the Minister of Education and, as far as I can judge, it has been answered. Now, I put the motion for the ratification of Mícheál O hAodha as Minister of Education.
SEUMAS MAC GEARAILT: I would like to ask a question of Mr. Hogan. Does the reply made by the Minister of Defence to the question submitted by Mr. de Valera also govern his case? For instance I have received a letter from Mr. Hogan, signed, Minister of Agriculture of the Provisional Government, in answer to a communication I sent him as Minister of the Dáil. I would require a guarantee that such would not happen in future.
MR. PATRICK HOGAN: With regard to the first part of the question I don't understand what it means. I am working as Minister of Agriculture and also as Minister of Agriculture of the Provisional Government. With regard to the letter, I would like to see it.
MR. HOGAN: Now that letter exactly shows the position. I was written to in regard to unpurchased tenants. You all understand what that means—tenants who have not purchased under the Land Purchase Act. I was asked what could be done. That letter came to me to the City Hall, and it was the right place to send it, because there is no use blinking facts. We all know that the Dáil Department has not the finance to complete land purchase. This letter came to me to the City Hall—to the only body who are in the way of the finances to complete land purchase—and I answered it. I may say that, as far as I can, I am keeping the two departments watertight. When people write to me on business which can only be done by a Government of State with control of legislation and taxation, I answer that from the department that has such control. If I wrote out from the Dáil Department to the unpurchased tenants of Cork or elsewhere that the Dáil Department was going to complete land purchase, I would be writing what was not a fact. I knew it was not in their power to do it. That is my answer.
SEUMAS MAC GEARAILT: The question I asked was : do all the acts that Mr. Hogan is responsible for as Minister of Agriculture for the Provisional Government arise out of the superior jurisdiction of his position as Minister of Agriculture for the Dáil? I did not send any letter to the City Hall. I sent a letter to the “Minister for Agriculture, Dáil Eireann, c.o. Mansion House, Dublin.” Whether he had power or not he had no right to reply to me from the offices of the Irish Provisional Government.
MR. HOGAN: At times it is rather difficult to know whether certain T.D's. are applying to the Provisional Government or to the Dáil. I assume the Free State Government are the people who will have control of the finances if the Treaty goes through. As regards my position in the Provisional Government: it is constituted under the Treaty which has the approval of the majority of the Dáil.
MR. DE VALERA: This is very important for us. We are here simply by virtue of one fact—that we recognise that this is the sovereign Parliament of the nation. Dirty work has been suggested. It is not we got them to do the dirty work. It is only dirty work— if you call it such—resulting from their own policy. We are trying to get the majority to work in accordance with the fundamental fact that this is the sovereign Parliament of the nation. It is in virtue of that that we continue to take part in this assembly. It is in virtue of that that we claim to be the Government of the nation. We want to establish this fact—that is the only reason why we question these appointments—that the supreme authority of this nation is this Dáil, that any Executive acts that are performed in this country derive any legal authority they have in virtue of the fact that the majority of this Parliament assents to it. We simply want that attitude to be consistently applied.
MR. K. O'HIGGINS: As this seems to be degenerating into a general discussion I would like to say that this brings us right up against an issue that has been raised, off and on, for the last three weeks or a month. I have seen a letter, for instance, from the Lord Mayor of Cork, addressed to the Minister for Finance, Dáil Eireann, asking that  steps be taken to secure two million pounds for the re-building of Cork.
MR. K. O'HIGGINS: The liability for damage done in Cork is the liability of the British Government, and if money is made available for the rebuilding of Cork it can be made available only by way of payment in advance of the British Government's liability. Mr. Collins, Minister of Finance, Dáil Eireann, is not in a position—and the Lord Mayor of Cork knew it—to put up two million pounds for the rebuilding of Cork, but Mr. Collins, Chairman of the Provisional Government, is in a position to secure from the British Government payment in advance on the liability which will be settled by an inter-Governmental Commission. And the Provisional Government is responsible to the body that appointed it. It was not this body that appointed the Provisional Government and, as one member of the Provisional Government, I will not answer questions here regarding actions I take as a member of the Provisional Government.
MR. DAVID CEANNT: I want to know from the Minister of Agriculture whether he has taken over the machinery of the Irish Land Commission; whether it is under his authority the Irish Land Commission issues orders for the collection of rent; and whether it is in his capacity as Minister for Agriculture of Dáil Eireann or as Minister for the Provisional Government?
THE ACTING SPEAKER: If you wish your statements to be heard by the Press you will have to speak a little louder. I have received a note from the Press saying they can only here a word here and there spoken.
MR. O'CALLAGHAN (LORD MAYOR OF CORK): I did not write in order to secure two millions for Cork. I wrote to the Minister of Finance, Dáil Eireann, asking him to receive a deputation from the Re-construction Committee of Cork. An appointment was arranged and a deputation was received, not by the Minister of Finance, Dáil Eireann, but by the Chairman of the Provisional Government. I submit, sir, that I—or any other citizen of this country—have a perfect right to have available all the Governmental functions that are available, through the machinery of Dáil Eireann while it exists, and while Dáil Eireann is—as we all admit it to be—the supreme Government in this country.
MR. SEAN MACENTEE: Arising out of the statement of the Minister of Economic Affairs—which I think had not really any bearing on the matter we are discussing—I protest strongly against the impression which he wishes to create in this House and outside—that the only body competent to do anything in this country is the Provisional Government. Before the Provisional Government was established we had succeeded in making this really the de facto Government of this country. The citizens of Cork want money for the rebuilding of their city. I suggest that it is not correct to say that the only agency by which the money can be raised is the agency of the Provisional Government. We succeeded in floating a loan in America and had the Articles of Agreement not been signed we would have succeeded in floating another loan, twenty times as large. If the citizens of Cork wish to raise money for rebuilding, I say it is within the competency of the Minister for Finance to float a loan in America or elsewhere for the specific purpose of rebuilding Cork. That would be one way in which it could be done.
MR. DE VALERA: I must object, for one, to the Minister's own statements, and I certainly have to object to the interpretation of his superior officer— the Minister of Economic Affairs. I hold that the Minister for Economic Affairs is responsible to this body, and that it is in virtue of the policy of the majority that there is any such thing permitted in Ireland as the Provisional  Government, and that any functioning of that Provisional Government is permitted in virtue of the fact that you have a majority here. Dáil Eireann is supreme in Ireland. It is only on that basis that I feel justified in remaining here. Otherwise there would be an end to majority rule.
MR. SEAN T. O'KELLY: Before you put the question I would like again to emphasise what Mr. de Valera has just said. We would like a clear definition of what the authority is that is to rule this country. Is it Dáil Eireann or is it the Provisional Government? All of us here recognise that Dáil Eireann is the sovereign authority. When our Ministers act under that authority will they accept before this House full responsibility for everything that is done in their various departments, and answer questions or take responsibility before the House for matters that arise in the course of their duties? One definition has been given by an important member of the Cabinet of Dáil Eireann. Another definition of policy has been given by another member. Which definition can we accept, or is there any united definition that can be given by the Cabinet? I will certainly give a vote on this question of the appointment of Minister of Agriculture, not because I have any objection to Mr. Hogan any more than any other Minister who has been proposed to-day, but as the issue has been raised by the Minister of Economics. He has definitely raised the question, and on the appointment of this Minister I certainly will ask to be allowed to give a vote in this matter if it is not satisfactorily cleared up—if the Minister of Economics here is not going to accept responsibility to this Dáil for all actions taken in his name.
MR. O'KELLY: In his capacity as Minister of Dáil Eireann, and, as far as this House is concerned, that he should bear responsibility to this House. If there is another authority to be accepted as ruling his actions, if there is to be another Government which will be acting, perhaps—I don't say always, but which may sometimes act—in contradiction of the action of the Minister of Dáil Eireann for which he would not accept responsibility to this House, then see the position you would be in. And those who would support the action of some servant of another Government in this country, and who would not accept responsibility for it in this House, would be recognising another authority in the country which might act, if we don't stop it at once, contrary to the wishes of Dáil Eireann. There are many here who would not be content to sit in this assembly and to give to it the authority of their presence if it is once said by any member of this House, particularly by a Minister, that Dáil Eireann is not henceforth to be the sovereign authority in the country. It is a question I would like the Government of Dáil Eireann definitely to give us some information on. On the answer they give serious consequences may arise. I, personally, am anxious—as I think most of those on this side of the House are anxious—to, during the period of the Pact, let things run as smoothly as possible. If matters of this kind are going to arise—if division of authority is going to be introduced—the consequences may be very serious.
MR. R. MULCAHY: Is not this matter again a matter of loosely spoken words? Is not Mr. Hogan de jure the man who is at the head of the Agricultural Department in this country and, as a sequel to that, is he not the man who is at the head of the administration de facto? If we do not allow ourselves to slip into loosely spoken words we have, in fact, control of all the resources of the Agricultural Department in our hands here as Dáil Eireann.
MR. DE VALERA: We can see at once that the outlook of the Minister of Defence in this matter is the same as mine. I am only anxious that that would be accepted authoritatively. In fact, I see no other one that would be consistent with the position at all. Why is, at the present time, the machinery which has been set up in accordance with the policy of the President being accepted? Simply because we regard this as the sovereign assembly of the nation. The majority here have given licence to certain things to be done. Take, for instance, the case of Economic  Affairs. All the economic affairs of this nation are legally under the control of Dáil Eireann in virtue of the fact that we were elected by a majority of the Irish people. All these were taken control of by the Minister of Economic Affairs. He is responsible for them, and he will use whatever machinery— whatever resources he will get—in consequence of this policy. If we had not his policy we would have another policy. It is in accordance with his policy—not in accordance with ours—that we are demanding that he takes full responsibility for the economic affairs of this nation, and that we, the sovereign assembly, choose to ask questions in respect of them.
MR. COSGRAVE: I would direct your attention to that part of the Standing Orders which prescribe that a member is allowed to speak but once. We are here discussing this question for half an hour. The one concrete case put up against the Minister of Agriculture is that a letter which found its way to the City Hall and an answer which came on the Provisional Government's paper was most irregular. It was most irregular for Mr. Fitzgerald's letter to go to the City Hall, but it was not most irregular for himself to go into the City Hall. We ought to get away from this nonsense and get to business instead of mumbling about words.
MR. DESMOND FITZGERALD: My chief work has been preparing machinery so that in the event of the Treaty being beaten at an election, which is very unlikely, we shall be in a position to get good publicity for whatever does happen (laughter).
MR. DE VALERA: A Chinn Chomhairle, the same question arises with respect to every one of those appointments, and I would ask the President— as they are his nominations in the Cabinet—to give us an assurance here in terms similar to those that have been mentioned by the Minister of Defence— namely, that he still holds that this is the sovereign assembly of the nation. It cannot be both ways. If he derives his authority in the nation from this sovereign assembly it must continue to have that sovereign authority.
MR. DE VALERA: You are a member of the Cabinet. I want, in connection with these appointments, some assurance which will make it possible for us to continue in this assembly—an assurance that this is the sovereign assembly of the nation, and that any Ministers or others who exercise authority, through whatever channels they may exercise it, do it in virtue of this authority and no other. Now, that is a simple assurance which would make  it possible for us to deal with the Ministers in the Cabinet. It is in virtue of the majority that they have their authority. I simply want that that authority of Dáil Eireann will be maintained, and that we are assured that it is being maintained, which will make it possible for us to act. If there is some other sovereign body I, for one, do not want to come here.
MR. FITZGERALD: As the matter before the House has reference to my appointment to a Ministerial position, and as I hold no Ministerial position except in this House, I suggest that that answers the question sufficiently and that any other matters are irrelevant.
CATHAL BRUGHA: In view of the answer this gentleman has given to one of the Deputies which, in fact, means that his time is occupied in creating machinery to deal with a situation which he himself thinks will never arise, unless he gives us more details as to what it is exactly he does I, for one, will object to his being paid the salary of a Minister for doing such work.
PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: If it clears up any doubts in anybody's mind, and if this is not more trapping done for a certain purpose, I say here again that what I said on the night I was appointed President of this body remains—that I I would maintain it until the election is called. There is no question whatever of that, but if this body is going to be made a means of harrying those in the Provisional Government with little questions and little obstructions I would protest against the body being used for that purpose. Every Minister here is a Minister of Dáil Eireann. As a Minister of Dáil Eireann he is going to see that the Provisional Government works in harmony with Dáil Eireann until we have an election.
MR. S.T. O'KELLY: He may be, but I am not satisfied with the answer given under his breath by the Minister for Finance. Does the Minister for Finance here agree with President Griffith, or does he not? If President Griffith says it is the sovereign authority of the nation, and the Minister for Finance says “certainly not,” where do we stand? The Minister for Finance most definitely said “certainly not”— that he would not be responsible to Dáil Eireann. I want to know whether the President of Dáil Eireann is satisfied with his associate—with his colleague in the Cabinet who says no, that he will not accept the authority of Dáil Eireann although the President of Dáil Eireann says it is the sovereign authority in the country. There we have the whole question over again. I was satisfied with the answer of the President, but the Minister of Finance says “certainly not.”
MR. DE VALERA: The whole point is the question of the sovereign authority in this country. President Griffith as President of the Republic, I have said, has my full obedience, but I am not going to give obedience to any other authority in Ireland, and it is in virtue of the fact that he has got the majority of this sovereign assembly that his policy is being carried out, and that the machinery he has pressed for for carrying out his policy is accepted. He is responsible to this House and the nation for any instrument or machine that may be set up.
MR. HOGAN: It is quite easy to talk generalities. We hear a lot of talk about sovereignty. We spend most of our time talking about generalities and principles, and when we have principles fixed we seem to get no further. Each one interprets principles according to his own particular point of view. I suggest we would be doing better work to come down to details. Is it to be the case that  the anti-Treaty party can introduce legislation tending to make our position impossible? Because, if it is, that is breaking the spirit of the agreement of the Ard-Fheis. That is the real question.
MR. KEVIN O'HIGGINS: May I say when I made the statement which, more or less, gave rise to this discussion, what was in my mind was this: in my capacity as a member of the Provisional Government I am engaged in taking over certain departments of the British Government—the Ministry of Transport, Mercantile Marine Department of the Board of Trade, and so on. When I am doing these things certain people—a minority in this House—say I am a national apostate. Now, in my capacity as national apostate I will not answer questions to the minority of this House.
MR. O'ROURKE: As one of the majority I think it should satisfy the other side when they learn—as I believe —that the majority won't do anything or tolerate anything in favour of the subversion of the Republic for the time being. I think the majority will see to that, anyway.
MR. DE VALERA: That is all we want. We want a definite understanding that the President representing the majority here is supreme in Ireland, and any machinery he sets up for his policy derives authority or licence from him. It is only by reason of his permission the thing is allowed at all. The President has got a majority in Dáil Eireann for his policy. That majority will be sufficient to get his machinery accepted if it is in accordance with the ordinary rules of the House. All we want is to make certain that we can ask him with respect to the general affairs of the nation—that we can ask the Minister for Economic Affairs questions relative to the economic affairs in the nation. He is able to do certain things for the nation. We are here custodians of the rights and interests of the nation. We simply want to insure that that is preserved, and that the authority of this nation is not going to be subverted and made to appear as being derived from outside power.
PADRAIC O MAILLE: A Chinn Chomhairle, níor mhaith liom cur isteach ar an ndíospóireacht. Dubhairt Eamon de Valéra ná raibh comhacht ach i nDáil Eireann. Ba mhaith liom dá dtugadh sé freagra ar an gceist seo: an ngéillfé sé do thoil na ndaoine ag an dtogha? Ba cheart go mbeadh eolas ar sin. Siad na daoine ba cheart go mbeadh an comhacht aca agus ní ag lucht an Chaisileáin ná ag éinne eile. I wish to be made plain to the country this one point. President de Valera stated here a few months ago that he would bow to no authority but the authority of Dáil Eireann. Now, in a few months' time, when an election takes place, if his party is defeated at that election, will President de Valera and his associates bow to the will of the Irish people, because, on their platforms throughout the country they have been, to my mind —I say this without offence—confusing the issue, and they have not made it quite clear to the people yet whether they will bow to the will of the Irish people?
MADAME MARKIEVICZ: He has not answered my question. He has only evaded it. I asked him what work he was doing for the Republic. I would like to supplement that by asking why he has not published certain pamphlets —he had one on what the women suffered during the terror? That is good Republican work if it was engaged on.
MR. M. COLLINS: The Deputy for College Green accused me of denying that this was the sovereign assembly of the Irish people. I did not deny that, and I do not deny it. This is the Parliament of the Irish nation, and it is by virtue of the majority of this Parliament that the Treaty was passed. Now, I am responsible as Minister of Finance to Dáil Eireann for everything I put before Dáil Eireann. I am accountable in my position as Minister of Finance in Dáil Eireann, but I am not responsible to Dáil Eireann for things I do in another capacity. I am responsible to the electorate who put me into the position, and I will be answerable to that electorate.
MR. DESMOND FITZGERALD: In reply to Madame Markievicz I wish to say that the material in that pamphlet and all other material we have I am gathering together with a view to making a record of the whole period. Publication of things like that is only temporarily delayed.
MR. DE VALERA: In connection with this I would again ask the President to believe that I am not asking those questions except with a view to the general interests of the country. I don't know whether he will definitely under stand that or not. I am anxious to see that the authority of this assembly be maintained, and that there is no authority in Ireland which is not either directly or indirectly responsible to this body. Therefore, any Minister of Dáil Eireann or any member of Dáil Eireann in an Executive capacity is responsible to the Cabinet of Dáil Eireann and, through the Cabinet, to us in Dáil Eireann which is the Government of the country. Now, with respect to the Belfast Boycott, the office has definitely lapsed, so that there is no question of any appointment being made.
MR. COSGRAVE: If, by reason of a number of questions and a number of statements which do not give us any concrete case to go on, the minority party are seeking to put up a headline to the Cabinet for the future, I think they are making a very great mistake. I think I know where this whole business is leading to—this talk about the sovereignty of the Dáil. No person I know of questioned it, except this: the sovereignty is limited by the extent of the work and the character of the work and the actual work the Dáil was doing in the pre-Truce period, and the sooner they get that into their heads the better.
MR. SEAN MACENTEE: This is a question on which there can be no doubt whatever as to what the sovereignty of the Dáil was. I don't wish that anything that I am saying now should be taken as personal, but I would like to ask the President whether, if we let this appointment go through without a division, we will be taken as assenting and sanctioning everything that has been done during the tenure of Mícheál Staines' office, particularly the lifting of the Boycott—a measure, I think, which was most improper, unprofitable and unjustifiable? I would like to ask two other questions—how is he going to regularise the discontinuing of the Boycott, and will Dáil Eireann be given, at a later stage, an opportunity of discussing the policy of the President and Cabinet in regard to the Boycott?
MR. MICHAEL STAINES: I am quite prepared to discuss with any member of this House any action of mine in connection with the Boycott, and particularly with the Deputy from Monaghan, but I must ask notice of these questions.
MR. MACENTEE: I asked the President of Dáil Eireann to tell us clearly whether, if we allow this appointment to go through without challenge, he would hold that we had assented to whatever had been done. I asked two other questions: (1) How he is going to regularise the discontinuance of the Boycott which was imposed by a decree of this House, and (2) Whether we are going to have an opportunity of discussing the present policy of the Dáil Cabinet in regard to the Boycott?
MR. MACENTEE: This question arises directly out of the business before the House, and I submit I am entitled to ask those questions without notice before the appointment is made. Otherwise we must have some guidance as to what our attitude is to be.
PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: So far as I  understand procedure Mr. MacEntee is quite wrong. This ratification of Mr. Staines' appointment means nothing more, or does not commit anybody to anything beyond that the appointment was made. It doesn't commit them to any view on the Belfast Boycott.
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