ADJOURNMENT MOTION—THE BOUNDARY SITUATION.

Thursday, 3 December 1925

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 13 No. 13

First Page Previous Page Page of 17 Next Page Last Page

MINISTER for EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald): Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I beg to move:—“That the Dáil at its rising this day do adjourn until Tuesday next.” I move that motion because the only item on the agenda for to-morrow is a motion by Deputy Lyons who is agreeable to have it adjourned on condition that it will be given Government time early next week. One might have hoped that the President would have been able to make a statement, but we do not expect him or the other two Ministers who are with him back by to-morrow. Even if he were to get back, he would only arrive in the morning and I think it would be impossible for him to make a statement. Therefore, as Deputy Lyons is agreeable to have his motion taken next week and as there is no other business on the agenda for to-morrow, I move this Resolution.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I think it is disappointing that we are to be left without any information as to the course of proceedings or as to the line that the Government is taking in respect of the proceedings in London, and that we are to be left until Tuesday next without any information. I do not know whether it is within the competence [1172] of Ministers present, but in view of published reports, I think it is important that the Dáil should have an opportunity of considering, or have some intimation of the subjects under discussion. For instance, we learn that the question of Article 5 of the Treaty is now on the carpet, and we ought to know, I think, whether any notification has been received from the British Government as to the amount of their claim under that Article, and whether any notification has been sent by the Executive Council of the amount of our counter-claim under that Article. I think it will be a very deplorable state of things if we come back and learn that agreements have been entered into, even though they are to be the subject of legislation, without informing the country of what line the Government is adopting in regard to the modification of the Treaty or the Constitution. I think that before any tentative agreement is made in London, there should be consultation and discussion of a public character on this side of the water. I feel that by agreeing to adjourn now we are practically inviting the President and his colleagues to enter into compacts without the country having any knowledge about even the subject upon which these compacts are being entered into. We know that the Boundary Commission Report has been the subject of discussion and we know, from an answer given in the British House of Commons yesterday, that the report of the Boundary Commission is not to be presented at present, but I think we ought to know something of the proposals that are being made by the Executive Council which have led to the decision to postpone the presentation of the Boundary Commission's report. I feel that we are going to be led into a position from which it will be difficult to withdraw and, if some of the rumours have any foundation, that we ought to withdraw, and I feel that we ought at least be informed before any tentative agreement is entered upon of the basis of that agreement. I am not going to oppose the adjournment if the Minister has no business to put before the Dáil to-morrow, but I make this plea that the House should [1173] be taken into the confidence of the Ministry in a matter of such grave concern, and of such widespread and anxious interest that is the cause of this proposal.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  I am in absolute agreement with Deputy Johnson in this matter. Since the actual signing of the Treaty itself nothing excited so much anxious interest in the country as the negotiations at present being conducted in London. To my mind, it is most regrettable for many reasons that the Minister for External Affairs is present here instead of exercising the functions of his office. What the public want to know is, whether or not the members of the Executive Council who are in London are acting as the Irish deputation acted on the occasion of the signing of the Treaty, or are they merely exploring paths of peace upon which they mean to report to the Dáil when the opportunity is provided to them.

The Ministry of External Affairs is the one visible and outward sign to the world of our sovereign status. The fact that we, among the members of the Commonwealth of Nations, have a Ministry of External Affairs, is an unmistakable indication of the fact that we are not only a nation among the nations of the Commonwealth, but a sovereign nation amongst them. If there are negotiations proceeding with a view to an alteration of the Treaty, we, as one of the high contracting parties to that, ought to be represented, even if we had only one representative, by our Minister for External Affairs, even if it were merely, to use a word which is so much in favour in recent days, as a gesture it is desirable. I do not mind rumours in newspapers.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Recent ones have proved true.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  Unfortunately, but I was about to say that I am too familiar with these methods of diplomacy. Our long history has taught us how to view inspired paragraphs in British newspapers. They are feelers, ballons d'essai, sent up to see how certain proposals would be received. Very often they are circulated to damage those who are engaged in [1174] the negotiations. It is quite obvious, or ought to be obvious, to everyone that if a reconsideration of the Treaty is in progress, if that important clause in regard to financial relations is now under discussion, and if there are proposals for its amendment, with all respect to the Executive Council, I say they have no mandate therefor, and they ought to have a mandate if they are to be authoritative exponents of the Irish claim and the Irish position. It does seem an extraordinary thing that, after we have had this revelation as to the proceedings in the Boundary Commission, the same Executive Council which, under the constitutional position of collective responsibility, is responsible for whatever there is to be done, should now, and I say it with all due regard to language, appear to be engaged in further negotiations as if clothed with an authority they do not possess, even though they are members of the Executive Council. We ought to be told and we ought to be consulted. After all, there is a constitutional Government here, or, at all events, there is the simulacrum of it, and appearances ought to be preserved, even although the reality may have disappeared. We ought to know what is being done in the name of the Irish nation of which we have the honour to be representatives in this House, which is an essential part of the Government of the country.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  I want to add my voice to what Deputy Johnson and Deputy Professor Magennis have said in this matter. I think it would be nothing short of a tragedy if this motion were accepted without any expression of opinion from this House regarding the position that confronts the country. Personally, I recognise how serious and grave it is, but in order that we may not be responsible ourselves for making the position even graver than it is, it is very desirable that we should express our views. We should say first that the members of the Executive Council now in London should make very sure that they are not going to be placed in the position of the men who went over to sign the Treaty, of having a pistol put to their heads to sign or reject an agreement.

[1175] I think the point raised by Deputy Magennis is very serious. That there should be in any discussion whatever of that Article of the Treaty any indication on the part of our representatives that we owe England anything under that Article of the Treaty would be breaking faith with the people at home. We undertake no such responsibility or obligations. If they are discussing or negotiating on that point, I say they are not expressing the will of the people of this country. They have no authority from the Dáil to do so, and the country, I think, will not stand for that. Deputies on other sides of the House feel as I do on this matter, and I think it is right that expression should be given to their views.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I am not going to complain that the Government cannot give us information as to the negotiations that are going on now. I do not believe it is possible to carry on negotiations simultaneously with a debate in Parliament. Let us just imagine that we have rights in this matter. So has the Parliament of Northern Ireland. So has the Parliament of Westminster. If there were three simultaneous debates going on in these Parliaments, together with the negotiations, could these negotiations come to anything? If they do come to nothing, we shall be the worse off for it.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  No.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  On the publication of the award of the Boundary Commission that award will become law.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  We will not accept it.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Well, that is my personal opinion. Any Deputy may controvert that point, but I presume the Ministers will consider that we could gain some advantages by entering into these negotiations, advantages that we have not under present conditions. Anyway, leaving that aside, I do say, as one with some experience of affairs, that it is not possible to have a debate simultaneously with negotiations, and that the only effect of that would be to bring the negotiations to nothing.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  We should have some information before discussion.

[1176]Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I do say that we ought to have some information at the very earliest possible date as to the course that these negotiations are taking, and, before any agreement is ratified, we should have an opportunity of giving our opinion.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Before it is entered upon for ratification.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  The Ministers have some responsibility, and I do not see how you can place Ministers in the position to say that before they enter on any heads of agreement they must go and get it confirmed. I think Ministerial responsibility covers that.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  They are dealing with the Constitution.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Are you sure?

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  It is an amending of the Constitution. That is my interpretation. I do say that we have a right to have information at the very earliest opportunity. I am disquieted by the suggestion that we should adjourn until next Tuesday, because the Minister for External Affairs indicated that it was possible that the President may return, say, on to-morrow morning.

Mr. FITZGERALD: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I do not think so.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  He said it was possible but he did not think it likely. It is possible he may return, say, by Sunday. Well, what is going to happen in the interval? There would be a very widespread desire for information. Is the President going to give his statement on this matter? Is he going to give an interview to an English newspaper as he did last week? Is the President going to go unexpected and uninvited to a remote part of the County Monaghan and make a statement there, and then dismiss the Dáil two days later with a statement that the situation is under the careful consideration of the Executive Council? I humbly suggest that the Dáil should receive the first statement and the first information there is to be given at the earliest moment, so as to render it possible for it to be debated and for [1177] questions to be asked. That, I think, is a fairly sound constitutional ground. There should be no undue delay. I suggest if there is any prospect of the President being here to-morrow we should adjourn now until to-morrow; adjourn to-day's business until to-morrow, and if that is not the case, then that our adjournment should only be until Monday, not Tuesday. We are all of us, not only the Executive Council but each of the Deputies, agreed that we are facing a serious crisis; we have faced equally serious crises and come through them successfully. But I do feel our individual and collective responsibility is going to be tested in the next week or ten days, as it has not been tested up to the present, and, therefore, I urge the Ministers to give us the earliest possible information as to the course of the negotiations that are now going on.

Mr. OSMOND ESMONDE: Information on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  Zoom on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  There is only one point I desire to make. I want to refer to the Minister's comments on the remarks of Deputy Cooper, when he asked if the present negotiations were dealing with the revision of the Constitution or the Treaty or not. I think the Dáil has a right to know whether or not these negotiations are, in fact, for the revision of the Treaty and the revision of the Constitution. I think it is the opinion of a large number of the Deputies that the Executive Council, on its own initiative, has no right to conduct those negotiations. The original delegates who signed the Treaty with Great Britain were specifically empowered to do so by the Dáil as a whole. They were sent to London with a special mandate from the Dáil. The delegates who are in London now have no such mandate from this Assembly to negotiate for a treaty which would revise or change the existing Treaty and the existing Constitution of the State. When the Minister for Industry and Commerce asked us whatever we were sure that the present negotiations were of this character, I think the Dáil has a right to know from him the true facts of the case, and we will be, I suppose, content to form a judgement from his answer as to whether the present negotiations [1178] are, in fact, negotiations for the revision of the existing Treaty and the existing Constitution.

PADRAIC O MAILLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Badh mhaith liom aontu leis an Méid a dubhthairt na Teachtaí eile. Níor cheart aon tsocrú a djheunamh gan an connradh a thabhairt os cóir na Dála ba mhaith liom a chur in úil do go bhfuil, cuidiú ar le fághail ó gach dream 'sa tír ar an gceist seo.

I wish to join in the statements that have gone forward representative of every party in this House. There is no one in the Dáil who would be anxious to do or say anything that would weaken the hands of our representatives on the other side. But I do insist with the other Deputies who have spoken, that it is imperative that any settlement that may be come to should be first brought before this Oireachtas and put before the Irish people before being agreed to. Many comments have been made on the other side about Article 5 of the Treaty and Statements have gone forward that the Irish nation owes obligations to England under that clause. I deny that statement. We have a far larger claim under that clause than the people on the other side, but it is apparent by the Press comments in England that they want something for nothing. The Irish people are the masters of every Deputy in this House, and they are the masters of every Deputy outside this House who have been elected to this Parliament, and if any change is made in the Treaty—there has been apparently a false interpretation put on Article 12 of the Treaty by the Boundary Commission—if, as I say, any change is made in the Treaty, it ought to be imperative that the change will be made whereby every Deputy elected to the Dáil by the Irish people will be permitted to take his seat in the Dáil.

We want the unity and co-operation of the people of Ireland. We have in the Dáil people of every party joining together in a helpful way to help the interests of the country. We want it made possible for people outside the Dáil to be able to come forward and take their places in the Parliament of the nation and to help to build up this [1179] country. We are not out for aggression, but we want the rights of the Irish people preserved, and anything we may say in this House we say it in a helpful way and to help the members of the Executive Council on the other side, and to show that the Irish nation is behind them if they stand firm and say that the rights of the people of this country ought to be preserved. I repeat again we are not out for aggression, but we do not want the rights of this nation given away. We do not want them given away for an imaginary bribe in Clause 5 of the Treaty. If we set up a Commission, or if we help to set up a Commission, it will be like that other Commission, placing the dice in the hands of the English people. It is time for plain speaking. The English have not all the trump cards in this game. I hope a satisfactory settlement will be come to in this dispute, and if any clause of the Treaty is set aside, then the clauses that are to our disadvantage must be set aside as well as the clauses to England's disadvantage. We want unity and co-operation amongst the people of Ireland. We hope that we shall have that co-operation and if our representatives on the other side do the right thing by the country, they are sure of that co-operation.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  If only the result of this debate affected myself, I should be glad that it took place inasmuch as the Dáil has without information decided to give certain instructions or threats. To that extent it is taking away a certain responsibility from the members of the Executive Council. But I cannot think of it in that light. I have to think of the positive harm that may be done by statements here while a very delicate situation is under consideration. What is all the hub-bub about? A simple motion moved here that on the rising of the House this evening we should adjourn until Tuesday. From the ordinary course of procedure we have cut out one day—tomorrow. There is no business to come before the House to-morrow, save a motion by Deputy Lyons, and Deputy Lyons has consented to withdraw that and put it down for consideration on Tuesday next.

[1180] There is just a possibility of the President being here in time to make a statement on the Boundary situation to-morrow. The Minister for Finance left for London this morning. He gets there this evening. There must be some reason for his going there. Is it likely President Cosgrave, or the Vice-President, is going to leave to-night? Apart from that likelihood, or any deduction that people may make as to the likelihood, there is pretty well the certainty that no one of those at present in London will leave to-night.

We are asked solemnly to arrange for this House to sit to-morrow. There is no business, and I say there is not the slightest possibility of any statement from anybody with regard to the Boundary situation to-morrow. The suggestion has been made by Deputy Cooper that instead of adjourning till next Tuesday, we should adjourn till Monday. If that seems to suit the House, let it be accepted. Again, however, I may repeat the warning, if the House assembles on Monday and there be no business for it on Monday, let us not have the objections that are usually raised, that the House is called here and there is no business for it to discuss. The House comes here on Monday on its own responsibility, and in face of a statement from me, being in possession of certain facts, that there is little likelihood of a statement then. There is, however, a possibility of a statement; there is a greater possibility by far than of any statement being made to-morrow.

Now, as to what is happening in London. Deputy Johnson apparently thinks that the whole Dáil should be in London. Deputy Magennis thinks the Minister for External Affairs should be there. Some people apparently think nobody should be there. We are asked for information as to what is going on. What is the meaning of an Executive Council except it is a body appointed to represent this House in emergencies? If people wanted to show their lack of confidence in the Executive Council, on the day of Deputy Professor MacNeill's resignation there was a time, an opportunity and a way for [1181] them to do so. Until that opportunity and that way are availed of, the Executive Council has a right to explore paths to peace, which is all that is being done.

A considerable amount of talk has taken place as to the revision of the Treaty. Can any members of this House, even if they were appointed for the purpose, revise the Treaty in London? Have we not a Constitution and a Treaty, and have we not methods by which that Treaty or Constitution is to be amended, if amendment is necessary? How, in the face of all that is known with regard to the Treaty and Constitution, anybody can believe that the people now in London are engaged on a revision of the Treaty and that this House is to have nothing to say to that, I cannot understand.

Deputy Cooper has put his point very reasonably. He suggests that the Dáil ought to have information at the earliest possible date. He reiterated that the Dáil should receive the first statement at the earliest possible opportunity. That, I believe, will be carried out. Any information that is to be given will be given to the Dáil and will be given at the earliest possible moment. What is our situation? What can I say beyond that people are at present in London? What exact point they have got to, I do not know. Am I supposed to stand up here and indicate how far, even with my limited knowledge of what was going on, Press accounts were accurate or inaccurate? Am I supposed to indicate here that certain things will not be done or that certain things will be done, without knowing what course events are taking on the other side?

I am going to confine myself now to what Deputy Gorey said on the occasion of Deputy Professor MacNeill's resignation. The point was raised that the Dáil should have some statement. The answer was implied, in the Vice-President's countering reply, that you cannot make a statement on a situation until you know what the situation is, and nobody at this moment knows what the situation is. The situation has not yet crystallised. Deputy Gorey intervened in that debate to say that he did not think it was important what length of time the Executive [1182] Council took to make up their minds on this question. He added: “What is important is, not when they will do it, but what they will do.” It still remains an important thing. You cannot hurry events beyond the pace at which events ordinarily unfold themselves.

Deputy Esmonde asked as to the negotiations. I am not in a position to give any information as to what I know with regard to the negotiations that were taking place on the other side, and I refuse to give any information. It would be only detached; it would be out of its context; it would, at this moment, probably be out of date, and it would only add to the difficulties instead of easing the situation. There is a simple motion that the House should adjourn till Tuesday. I am sure the Minister for External Affairs will accept Deputy Cooper's amendment suggesting that the Dáil should meet on Monday. If the Dáil like to come here on Monday, with my statement to them that there is very little possibility of any kind as to a declaration in regard to the Boundary proceedings then they can attend.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I formally move the amendment that we meet here on Monday in order that the Dáil may express an opinion on the subject. It is really a matter for the general convenience of Deputies.

Amendment proposed:—“To delete Tuesday and insert Monday.”

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  The original suggestion is the most suitable one. If we are to have a statement let it be an authoritative statement. Let us be certain that a statement can be made on the subject on the day we assemble here. Tuesday seems to me, from the information we have got from the Minister, to be the first possible day on which we can be certain of a statement. I suggest that Tuesday, as embodied in the original motion, should be retained.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I put forward the suggestion in regard to Monday in order to be sure that we might have the earliest information. It is a matter for the Dáil itself to settle, and if the question is put we shall get some [1183] indication of what the Dáil desires. I would like again to warn Deputies that no important negotiations can be successfully carried on with a continual current of criticism. If the Reichstag had been sitting, if the Chamber of Deputies had been sitting, and if the House of Commons had been sitting, there would have been no Peace Pact at Locarno; there would be no Treaty signed in London last week. It is therefore our duty to exercise restraint and it is our duty to bring our judgment freshly to any statement that is made. Let that statement be made at the earliest possible moment. I am glad the Minister has accepted the proposal. I hoped that Monday might be possible. I will leave it to you to put the amendment.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  My point in this matter is not the day on which we are going to get information after a tentative provisional agreement has been entered into. My desire is to have a statement from the Ministry so that the Dáil will be in possession of the Ministry's point of view regarding the subjects that are under negotiation. Deputy Cooper has spoken about the difficulties and, by way of illustration, said the Locarno Pact was signed in London, but the Deputy will admit at once that the point of view of the various Governments in respect to the international peace had been the subject of frequent and public discussion. We knew the points of view of the various Government concerned there. We do not know the point of view of this Government in this matter, and it is perfectly obvious that the subject under discussion is some modification of the Treaty or the Constitution, or both. That is a matter upon which we ought at least have the official views of the Government, so that public opinion of the country might have an opportunity of expressing itself before any negotiations are entered upon. I feel in this matter that there has been no public discussion, though there has been an opportunity for hearing the views of the Government. As a matter of fact, public discussion has been cloaked down because of the cry: “We must trust the Government.”

[1184]MINISTER for LANDS and AGRICULTURE: Information on Patrick J. Hogan  Zoom on Patrick J. Hogan  No.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Yes.

Mr. HOGAN:  Because an opportunity will come at the right time.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  No sir, that is not a fact. All public discussion has been closed and damped down because it has been said: “Don't interfere with the man at the wheel” and “We must trust the Government in this case.” Then when they have got things clear and some tentative arrangement agreed to they must come to the Dáil for ratification. We all know how difficult it is—and that the responsibilities are infinitely greater—to upset an agreement that has been provisionally made by the Executive Council. My contention in this matter is that we are dealing with so absolutely vital a subject that there should be a public intimation of the views of the Executive Council— not on the details—but on a matter affecting the Treaty.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Who is going to give it?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I take it the Executive Council.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  When has it met?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I do not know anything about the proceedings of the Executive Council. The Minister speaks for the Executive Council.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That is a debating point, but it does not carry us far.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  It may be a debating point. The Ministry have power to take the Dáil or the public into their confidence with regard to their views on the Treaty and on matters that have arisen out of the failure of Article 12. There is a point of view and it is affecting the principle at issue. It is not a matter for discussion in detail, but until the Dáil, representing the country, is in a position to give an expression of opinion as to what is involved in any alteration of the Treaty or in the direction of any alteration of the Treaty the Ministry ought not to enter into any negotiations which [1185] would involve any modification of the Treaty, of any kind no matter how small. They did it before. They entered into a tentative agreement last year in regard to the appointment of a third Boundary Commissioner. They agreed beforehand with the British Government that a certain course should be adopted to implement the Treaty, and they agreed to facilitate the appointment of a Boundary Commissioner. They came to the Dáil with a Bill, and because an agreement had been entered into—despite my vigorous opposition, I am glad to say—the Dáil almost unanimously agreed.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Almost unanimously?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  And we have the results now. That agreement would not have been entered into and the Dáil would not have ratified it only that it had been provisionally made.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Absurd.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  That is the Minister's opinion.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The Dáil's opinion.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I state that in my opinion if the proposition had been discussed by the Dáil — that the British Government would appoint two Commissioners and the Irish Government one—the Ministry would not have had authority to enter into that provisional arrangement. I fear we are going to be faced next week with some provisional agreement which the Dáil will be told is practically an accomplished fact and that if they do not accept it that something terrible will happen. I think the Ministry for its own sake should see the desirability of having public opinion behind it, and should take the Dáil into its confidence as to the principles at stake, before entering into any negotiations regarding the details.

MINISTER for LANDS and AGRICULTURE: Information on Patrick J. Hogan  Zoom on Patrick J. Hogan  Deputy Johnson's position is that no negotiations should be carried on by the Executive Council unless he himself is a party to the negotiations. As that would be a perfectly absurd contention, he simply takes it a [1186] step further and says that the Executive Council is not competent to conduct any negotiations unless every member of the Dáil is in fact a negotiator. That is what it comes to in a nutshell. The Deputy says that perhaps the Dáil will be faced with a certain position next week. I hope it will. I hope that Deputies will not always run away from the position by saying: “We have nothing to do with it. We never had responsibility.” I hope they will face up to their responsibility and will not come afterwards and say: “We never had any responsibility. We were always faced with an accomplished fact.” Deputy Johnson mistakes the position of Deputies. Deputies have to take responsibility as well as we have, or as well as the Executive Council have, and when Deputies are faced with the recommendation of the Executive Council, if they have strong convictions against that recommendation they should act on them, and take the consequences of acting on them, and not take Pontius Pilate's attitude and wash their hands of everything.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  We would like if the Minister would give any specific thing that was in his mind when he said that.

Mr. HOGAN:  I am not going to be drawn into another speech by the Deputy.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Would the Minister say what he meant when he referred to Pontius Pilate? I challenge him on that.

Mr. HOGAN:  I am not going to be rushed into a scene on this matter. I have used words which are absolutely unequivocal. Everyone knows the meaning of what I have said, and I am not going to take up your time by either adding or substracting from my words.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Who is the coward now?

Mr. HOGAN:  Deputy Johnson should conduct himself.

Mr. FITZGERALD: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I moved this resolution because I was very conscious that at the earliest possible moment a [1187] statement should be made to the Dáil. In moving that the Dáil do not meet to-morrow I explained to the House that I did that, not by any desire to put on the long finger the making of a statement, but because I thought the House would be anxious to hear it at the first possible moment. It was not possible to make a statement to-morrow as the representatives would not be back, and the next day the Dáil would meet would be Tuesday. Deputy Johnson seems to me to overlook entirely the fact that this House is the master. He suggests that by the fact of the Executive Council doing something, the other Deputies can wash their hands of responsibilities. I think that is most unfair to the House. If there is going to be any change, as the Deputy says, in the Constitution or in the Treaty that cannot be done as he knows perfectly well, by a stroke of the pen. He knows perfectly that the whole machinery for doing that is so arranged that the Deputies and the country will have ample time to consider any proposed change and discuss it. We, the members of the Executive Council, have certain powers. But we cannot legislate off our own bat. I may say that I am very anxious that the Dáil should be communicated with as soon as possible, and I may also say that I am conscious that it is practically impossible when there is more than one Government involved, to control what is known to the general public and what is not. There fore, I think it is desirable that the Dáil should meet as soon as we are in a position to put a statement to the House. For that reason, I suggest that my motion be amended somewhat on these lines:—

“That the Dáil, on its rising this day, do adjourn until Tuesday next, provided that if, in the opinion of the Executive Council, the public interest requries that the Dáil should meet on Monday next, the Ceann Comhairle be empowered to summon the Dáil to meet on that day, at an hour to be stated by him in such summons.”

I think that a provision on those lines may meet the wishes of the Deputies.

[1188]Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  That meets my case, and I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.

Leave for withdrawal of amendment granted.

Leave granted to the Minister for External Affairs to amend his motion as proposed.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The motion, as amended, is now before the Dáil.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  It must be remembered that a great many Deputies go home to the country during the week-end and that it would be impossible to notify some of them so that they could reach here by Monday. I think it would be better to fix Tuesday definitely as the day of meeting. You have Sunday intervening, and it would be impossible for notice to reach Deputies so that they could be here for a Monday meeting. We agree to give the Executive Council all the time they want, on condition that they wake up and do not continue in the state of coma and trance that they have been in for the past six months.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Is it possible for a Minister who is at present here and who is a member of the Executive Council to inform the Dáil whether any notification has been received from the British Government of the amount of their claim under Article 5 of the Treaty, and whether any counterclaim has yet been made by the Executive Council under the same Article, and, if either or both of those claims have been made, what are the amounts of such claims respectively?

Mr. FITZGERALD: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I am afraid I would have to ask for notice of that question.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Under the motion, as amended, I can summon the Dáil for any hour on Monday.

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  But not before three o'clock?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  When I said that, I was thinking of an hour after three o'clock.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  I would like to emphasise what Deputy Gorey has [1189] said. If members of the Dáil were to receive a wire at an early hour on Monday morning — or even if they were to receive a wire on Saturday evening or Sunday morning—it would be impossible for some of them — those, for instance, from West Cork — to get here before eight o'clock on Monday night. I think that should be taken into consideration.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  We make the claim that every Deputy of the Saorstát has an equal right here and should have equal facilities for coming here. The question affects on just as much as it affects the other.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Surely if the Dáil thinks that it ought to meet on Monday, and a positive proposal of that kind is made, Deputies—and particularly Deputies of the Party responsible for the proposal — should stay in town for the week-end.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  My idea is to ensure that if the Dáil is going to meet on Monday, and if we are going to have a statement, that we shall have a full House and that every Deputy will have an opportunity of attending.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Nobody can say anything about the statement being assured.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  From the Minister's original statement, the Dáil has no assurance that it will receive a definite statement, and, in face of that, let us be sensible and fix Tuesday as the definite day of meeting.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  Would I be in order in moving that as a further amendment?

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Omit the addendum from the motion.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Minister has got leave to put in the addendum, and I suppose he can get leave to take it out.

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I do not want to create a false impression in the House. I have stated our point of view quite clearly. There are two Parliaments concerned in this matter. The Parliament on the other side may meet [1190] on Monday. It will certainly meet on Tuesday. There may be necessity for some kind of simultaneous statement in the two Parliaments. I think it is desirable that there should be some power for calling the Dáil on Monday, even though I think the possibility of its being called is a very remote one.

Motion as amended put and agreed to.


Last Updated: 16/05/2011 16:46:41 First Page Previous Page Page of 17 Next Page Last Page