Tuesday, 11 October 1927
Dáil Éireann Debate
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The next business is the nomination of the President of the Executive Council, but before that business proceeds I have to announce that the Clerk has received the following notice from Deputy Liam T. MacCosgair who has been returned for the Constituency of Cork Borough and also for the Constituency of Carlow Kilkenny:—
SÉAN T. O CEALLAIGH: Cuirim-se os cóir na Dála nách ceart an Teachta so do thogha. Sé mo thuairim nách ceart é do thogha. Ní h-é an duine is cirte é, do réir an eoluis atá againn ar a ndeárna sé go dtí seo nó do réir an eoluis atá againn ar an clár atá leagtha amach aige. 'Sé mo thuairim, agus tuairim mo cháirde leis, nách ceart é do thogha mar Uactarán, mar fear 'seadh é a dhin a dhícheall gach saghas masla a chur ar an dtír. O'n gcéad lá a fuair sé comhacht, in ionad iarracht a dhéanamh an tír do shaorú, rinne seisean, agus an dream atá ag taobhú leis, a ndícheall an tír, nó cuid de'n tír, a ghreamú go daingean leis on Impireacht agus leis an namhaid — an t-aon namhaid atá againn no a bhí againn sa tír seo. B'féidir le h-Eireannach uair amháin bród do bheith air as an tír. B'féidir leis a rádh gur náisiún é. Anois ní féidir leis é sin a rádh mar gheall ar an bpolitídheacht atá ag an duine go bhfuil a ainm os ár gcomhair.
Tá an tír anois comh greamuithe ag Sasana agus ag an Impireacht is go dtógfaidh sé a lán aimsire agus bfhéidir go mbeidh níos mó fola á dhórta sul a mbeidh an tír ar bhealach na saoirse, mar do bhí sí. Nuair a tháinig an Teachta isteach i bpoilitíacht ar dtúis chuir sé roimhe mar rún an namhaid do dhíbirt as an tír agus deire do chur le réim na Sasanach annso. Thug sé a mhóid chun é sin a dhéanamh. Bhí uair ann agus rinne sé a dhícheall, mar a dhin a lán daoine eile, ar son na tíre. Ach tháinig an t-am nuair a bhí dualgas ar gach duine seasamh go daingean leis an mhóid a thug sé. Rith an Teachta an t-am san mar a rith a lán eile atá ag cuidií leis. Rinne sé feall ar an dtír agus in ionad an neamh spleadhachas do bhaint amach dhein sé a dhicheall sórt rialtais do chur ar bun annso agus an tír do chur fé sháil na Sasanach. Ní ceart a leithéid sin d'fhear do thogha. Dá gcuirtí isteach  é, shaoilfí go raibh muinntear na tíre sásta leis agus leis a phoilitíacht, go rabhamar ag tabhairt an onóir seo dhó toise go rabhamar sásta le na réim oibre. Agus tá taobh eile ar an sgeul.
Dá mba rud é go ndéanfadh sé maitheas do'n tír, go gcuirfeadh sé tráchtáil na tíre ar bhealach a leasa, bféidir go bhfuil daoine ann a bheadh sásta é a thogha, gan dul isteach i-gceisteanna poilitiachta. Ach an amhlaidh atá? An ndearna an phoilitíacht atá ag an Teachta aon mhaith do'n tír? Tá's againn nach ndearna. Tá's againn gur chuir sé sgrios ar an tír. Tá níos mo daoine ag éalódh as an tír anois ná mar bhí sar a thosaigh an troid in agaidh na Sasannach. Bhfuil saidhbhreas na tíre a méadú no bhfuil tráchtáil na tíre a leathnú? Níl. Bfhurus do'n tír a bheith chó saidhbhir le aon tír eile 'sa domhan ach ina ionad san tá sí ag dul i mbochtanas. Muna gcuirtear athrú ar a phoilitíacht a bhí ann go dtí seo, ní féidir linn an tír a chur ar a cosaibh. Sé sin mo bharramhail agus barramhail mo cháirde.
Ní chreidim go mba cheart an Teachta so a thogha. Rinne sé a lán díoghbhála cheana agus thug sé brón agus brughadh-chroidhe isteach sa tír mar gheall air. Ní ar son na tíre a rinne sé sin ach ar son na h-Impireachta agus ar son an namhad. Ní cóir a leithéid sin d'fhear a bheith i gceannas na hArd-Comhairle. Dhein sé scrios agus díoghbháil mhór do'n tír agus tá Eire an-bhocht ina dhiaidh. In ionad beannacht agus onóir do thabhairt do, ba chóir do a bheith ar a ghlúinibh ag iarraidh maitheamhnais ar son a pheacaí.
I am satisfied that on no conceivable ground that I can imagine should the Deputy who has been proposed be voted for or receive the votes of Deputies of this assembly. One would imagine that in proposing the Deputy for such a high position as President of the governing body of this country there would be advanced strong arguments and sound reasons why the particular Deputy should be chosen. It is very significant that the gentlemen who proposed and seconded for this honour the Deputy — I do not know whether he sits for Kilkenny or Cork—
Mr. O'KELLY: It is, as I say, significant that neither one nor the other of them, if they had good arguments to offer why their friend and colleague should be proposed as President, brought them forth. They may have very good reasons for that, but I have arguments to bring forth, and I am not ashamed nor afraid to bring them forth, as to why the gentleman named should not be elected President. It is a long time since he and I and some others, some of whom are here now, stood in an assembly, similar to this in some respects, having been elected to that assembly because we had gained, perhaps, some credit in the country by reason of the fact that we claimed, and gave ourselves out publicly, to be adherents of the gospel of Irish independence and Irish nationality.
The Deputy who has been nominated, to my knowledge, did a good deal in these early days to preach the gospel of Irish independence as Irish patriots know it, and to instil into young and old the necessity for standing faithfully by the old traditional gospel of Irish freedom. He did his share, as I say and as I acknowledge, for some years to get that policy and that gospel understood and accepted by the people. To such an extent did that gospel which he preached, in company with others, get accepted at one time that those who stood for a different political ideal, the ideal of an Ireland subordinate to the British Empire, were swept out of political existence. He preached the gospel of Ireland independent, Ireland free, Ireland united, Ireland one nation, and that free and Gaelic — the gospel of Pearse, the gospel of independence as preached by Tone.
That is what he stood for then. If he stood for the same gospel now, or if there were anyone here offered to us as President who stood for that gospel, I would be the first to record my vote for him if he were fitted in other respects for the post. Primarily, on the ground that the gentleman nominated does not stand for that gospel, I ask Deputies not to vote for him, and not to assist his election as President. It  would have a very marked effect, I believe, all the world over, at least in those parts of the world which take an interest in Irish affairs — and they are fairly widespread — if this assembly, constituted as it now is, re-elected a gentleman of Deputy Cosgrave's record as President of this assembly. It would be giving a message to Ireland and the world that Ireland, or at least the part of it that we have anything to do with, the Twenty-six counties, was satisfied with his political record in the last five or six years, and was also satisfied that the policy which he has pursued during those years should be continued.
I know that there is an element here in this assembly that will vote for that. I know that there are elements here that, like the Deputy who has been nominated, have run away from the political principles they held in years gone by, and, in order to save their faces, they will stand by him and by his policy of the past, and, probably, by his policy for the future. They have to save their faces, and, therefore, they will vote accordingly, and their votes in that way will not be misunderstood, I presume, by the country, but there are other elements here that have reason to be more independent. There are other elements here that have stood for an entirely different programme in the last five years, and these, I take it, will all cast their votes against the gentleman named, some of them for reasons like my own, political reasons, and others for other reasons. But, at any rate, for the honour of Ireland I would ask all of those who do not want to give a vote which would mean that they approved to the full of the past policy of the gentleman named and the party he is associated with to hesitate before they give a vote which would have any such political significance to-day.
I could, if I were inclined, go in great detail into the political history of the last five years. I could give many reasons drawn out of the history of the period from 1922 up to the present day why I think the Deputy is unfitted for the office. I could tell you— all could tell it equally well, and some perhaps better than I — of the sorrows that the policy pursued by the Deputy  brought on Ireland, and of the anguish of mind that he and his policy brought into so many homes. I could recount for you the awful havoc that his policy has wrought by driving, as it has done, a quarter of a million of our best out of the country, most of them probably all, belonging to one political section— those who stood faithfully by the Irish Republic. They are the ones that have been forced to emigrate. They are the ones who have been forced to find a living elsewhere and whom the policy of the gentleman proposed and his party have driven out of the country.
The sorrow and anguish of mind that he and his political policy have been responsible for can never be known. But there is a bitterness in the hearts of those people who have gone abroad, and of their relatives left at home, their fathers and mothers, arising out of a policy pursued in the last five years, of which this Deputy is the symbol, that will take many generations to outlive. I do not propose to evoke these memories further. I do not propose to hark back to the tragedies of the last five years. I would rather that we could forget them, that we should try to pour all the oil we can on and calm the waters of life, and help to make things smoother and easier, not for us individually — individually we do not matter — but for Ireland in the days to come. Therefore, I will not hark back on these things further than to say that I personally take this the first opportunity that is given to me in an Assembly of this kind, representative of part of Ireland, to say that I would do all I could to drive out of political power and office the gentleman and the Party associated with him who have the primary, if not complete, responsibility for the tragedies, sorrows, misdeeds, poverty and suffering that make up Ireland's history in the last five years. Some gentlemen can afford to smile. They are safe now, and I hope they will continue to be so. Things were not so safe a few years ago, when you and the like of you were behind those whom even in those days the gentleman nominated was fighting, with his comrades of the Republican Army, in an effort to liberate Ireland from her thraldom.
Mr. O'KELLY: I do not want to evoke these things. As I said, I do not want to start on a bitter note, though God knows I could, and God knows I would have justification, in thinking of those who lie in cold graves — 77 of my comrades who lie in cold graves to-day —and the fathers and mothers, and the sons and daughters of these people expect us and look to us to vindicate them in some way. All we can do, and all we can hope to do, is to try and assuage their feelings — smile at it how you will — to try and make them forget the bitterness of the past by standing up for the cause for which these young men and boys were put to death, and to try and win out what they gave up their lives for, and thus vindicate them and honour their memory. It would, I believe, be an unfortunate message to go out to the world from this Assembly that this meeting of a practically completely new body, representative of the greater part of Ireland, stands for a partitioned Ireland, stands for an Ireland not as an Irish nation, one, united, independent and free, but for a partitioned nation, a conquered nation, a nation no longer in fact, but a so-called Dominion subject to the British Empire. The gentleman who has been nominated came into public life, as you, a Chinn Comhairle, and many others here know, pledged to work for and to devote his life to achieve an Ireland free and independent. That is my recollection of the political gospel he preached when I used to stand on platforms with him — thanks be to God, I do not now—and that is the gospel that some of those alongside of him now who laugh at the idea of Ireland free and independent used to preach. They did, many and many a time, preach that gospel, and not alone preached it, but went around the country organising Irish societies to promote that object, swearing young men into the Irish Republican Brotherhood, if you please, the very same young men that some of them took out later and put their backs against the wall and shot, because they were true to the gospel that these men preached. That is what they did.
 I am sorry that I seem to be getting back on that note. It is not helpful, perhaps, but it would be a sad message if we were to send it out to the world that we re-elected to-day in this Assembly a gentleman who stood for the history of Ireland as we know it in the last five years. We know the unfortunate things that have happened as a result of the régime over which he has presided as head of the Free State Government. I, personally, do not want that, and I hope as far as one vote is concerned, and as far as the votes of the Party with which I am connected are concerned, that we at any rate will register the real traditional Ireland and vote against the gentleman named and the policy he has been associated with in the past, and which, presumably, he will continue if re-elected to a further term of office.
Now to get away for a moment from the purely political aspect. If Ireland had prospered under that régime, there might be people here who would argue that because of material prosperity having been brought to Ireland by the Free State, under the leadership of the Deputy named, we should continue that régime and that leadership. Instead what do we all know is the condition of Ireland? I do not want to exaggerate, but do we not know that, with the possible exception of the famine years, emigration from Ireland has never been at such a high rate as it has been for the last five years? Do we not all know that commerce, business in general, has never been at a lower ebb for perhaps half a century than it is? Statistics of bankruptcy and of trade in general will demonstrate that to anybody who cares to examine them. We know that not alone has livestock gone down in value, but that the numbers have decreased during that period very much. Emigration, livestock, banking returns—everything seems to have gone from bad to worse. So that instead of having arguments of a material and financial character to urge why the Deputy and his party should not once more be put into power, they should themselves, recognising the state of Ireland, ask to be relieved of office because of the mismanagement of which they have been guilty and which  has brought Ireland to such a low economic and financial state.
Ireland has suffered materially; Ireland has suffered politically; Ireland has not gained in any sense I know of as a result of the political régime of the last five years. Whatever chance there might be under a new régime, there certainly seems to be none if the political policy carried on during the last five years is to be continued. We have had five years of it now, and Ireland's state to-day is certainly much worse than it was when these gentlemen took control. If Deputies are satisfied with it, if they think their constituents are satisfied with it, if Ireland is satisfied with it, then vote for it. If, on the contrary, Deputies think that Ireland's political condition is not what it ought to be, that Ireland's commercial position is not what it ought to be, they should make a change. The change cannot be for the worse. That much, I think, few will doubt, if any. It cannot be for the worse, because I doubt if anybody else left in control would have allowed things to run to such a low ebb as they have got to during the last five or five and a half years. Therefore, I say that whatever change you may make, while it may be for the betterment of Ireland, certainly could not worsen the position.
One more word. If there is one particular item more than another in the last five years which seems to have brought a curse on our country it has been the partitioning of our ancient nation. There are some in this assembly who will remember that one of the main reasons why the party of the late Mr. John Redmond was driven out of power in 1918 by the party with which Deputy Cosgrave was then associated, one of the main reasons why Sinn Fein got into political control, was because Sinn Fein preached that if the Redmond party were left in control they threatened to bring partition into operation in Ireland. Not alone did Deputy Cosgrave when he got into office and power, for that amongst other reasons, not threaten to bring partition into Ireland, but he brought it into full and complete operation for the first time in the history of our country. For the first time a political  party under his leadership asked for and got from this Assembly, constituted as it then was, power to partition the country and bring into practical operation in Ireland the old British policy of “divide and conquer” which they had tried for many years to put into operation with other political parties, but which it remained for the erstwhile Irish Nationalist, the erstwhile follower of Wolfe Tone, Thomas Davis, Robert Emmet and Padraic Pearse, to stand up in an Irish assembly and propose and carry and acclaim as being one of the greatest victories in Irish history. If there were no other reason why the gentleman named should not be approved of and accepted in this Assembly, that one reason alone should suffice. I, at any rate, hope that this Assembly will to-day rid itself of those who have remained in power for the last five years, standing for the policy of an Ireland subservient to the British Empire, an Ireland partitioned, an Ireland impoverished, an Ireland where emigration is our greatest industry. If Deputies are satisfied that these conditions ought to continue and that they cannot be bettered, then they have nobody more fitted to run Ireland on those lines than Deputy Cosgrave and his colleagues, and they ought to vote for him. If, however, they want to give Ireland half a chance to get back on its feet, to undo the harm that has been done politically and economically, they will try to find, and no doubt will find, the means of putting in power those who hope for Ireland and who stand by the old gospel that has always inspired Ireland with hope and enthusiasm, and who are prepared to back these political principles and these economic ideas —the only ones that will bring Ireland back to any shadow of prosperity, politically or materially, in our time.
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: I and those who sit with me propose to vote against the motion which is now before the Dáil. I shall venture to state our reasons as briefly and as succinctly as I can. When a similar proposal was before the Dáil last June, the Labour Party on that occasion voted against it. The leader of the Party, Mr. Johnson, whose absence from this House on this occasion  I venture to suggest is regretted by many people outside his own party, then stated, at length, our reasons for objecting to the proposition and voting against the nomination of Deputy Liam T. MacCosgair. I shall not do more now than quote, briefly from Deputy Johnson's speech on that occasion wherein he summarised his reasons for taking that action. We opposed the nomination on that occasion mainly because of the failure of the Government of which Deputy Cosgrave had been head for the previous five years to deal with matters of social legislation and because of the attitude that he himself and the Executive Council and Party generally took up towards these problems. On that occasion Mr. Johnson said:—
“It perhaps is not necessary to do more than touch upon it for the purpose of reminding the Deputies, and especially new Deputies, of the position. We had in the early stages the reduction of the old age pensions, and the promise that when the money would be available the earliest opportunity would be taken to restore to the old age pensioners their cut. That has been refused, and the promise not fulfilled. We had the decision of the Government to set up a low wage standard, a starvation wage standard, on the Shannon scheme; we had a document issued from the Government offices to the local authorities instructing them to reduce wages, and the consistent policy adopted since the issue of that circular following out that original intention. We have had the passing, in spite of opposition from our Benches, of a Bill which in two years' time will make the landlords free to extract any rent they like from their tenants. We had the disavowal of responsibility on the part of the Government for finding work for unemployed men. We had the refusal, time after time, of the Government to deal with any revision of the unemployment in-surance scheme which would ensure to workmen who are unemployed a continuance of their unemployment insurance. We have had the administration of home assistance so tightened that literally thousands of people, who have been deprived of unemployment benefits, have since been deprived of  home assistance and are absolutely on the verge of starvation in the city and the country.
Now if there was nothing more to be said than what was stated on that occasion in June—and which could be said even to a greater extent now — it would be sufficient reason why the members of this Party should oppose the nomination of Deputy Cosgrave for the Presidency; but there is very much more to be said. Since that time Deputy Cosgrave and his Ministry and those who sit with him have used the powers which were given them in the most arbitrary fashion; they have trampled on the Constitution, and they have flouted the wishes, even the decisions, of the Parliament that elected them to power on that occasion. As this last thing is, in my opinion, possibly the gravest charge that could be made against them, I propose to deal with it for a minute or two. I find on the journals of the House for the 16th August the following definite resolution recorded:—“That the Dáil do now adjourn until Tuesday, the 11th October.” That was proposed by the Deputy whose name is now before us for the Presidency. It was agreed to by the Dáil. It was a definite resolution from the Fifth Dáil stating that the Dáil would meet again on the 11th October. Now the Dáil meets again on the 11th October, but we do not meet here to-day by virtue of that resolution. We meet by virtue of a proclamation of the Governor-General and not by virtue of that resolution.
The President on that occasion gave a definite pledge to the Dáil that he would call it together again if a certain event occurred. That event did not occur, and, therefore, this resolution should stand. We know what happened. We know that this decision of the Fifth Dáil to call the Dáil together on the 11th October has been set aside by the President with no authority whatever from the Fifth Dáil. Why was a different procedure adopted when  the dissolution was about to be called in May last? We had then on the records a definite resolution of this House and of the Seanad making all arrangements for the dissolution and setting out the date on which the Dáil was to meet. Why did not the President, if he thought it was necessary in the interests of the country to have a general election, come before what he himself and his Party are so fond of calling the supreme authority in this country, why did they not come before that authority and get a decision from that authority to have a dissolution and a general election? The President knows well, as everybody knows who sat in the Fifth Dáil, that if such a motion as that was put before the Fifth Dáil it would not have been carried. That is the reason he ignored the authority of the Dáil and took it upon himself or some members of the Executive Council took it upon themselves—
Mr. O'CONNELL: To plunge the country into the turmoil, trouble and expense of a general election. I say that is evidence, if evidence were necessary, of the extent to which the Deputy and his Party would go to flout the wishes even of the elected representatives of the people.
Perhaps a word might be said here on this occasion as to the conduct of the elections through the country and how much that has added or how much it has taken away from the credit of the country. Anybody who has been through the elections knows that things occurred which were anything but creditable. I was just looking over a speech made by Deputy Cosgrave, I think in Carlow or Kilkenny, where he urged that people should strike a blow at these elections for liberty, religion, honour and public morality.
Mr. O'CONNELL: Well, many of us who were through the elections know the kind of liberty we had — the kind of one-sided liberty that existed during the course of the elections. Questions might be asked at any of our meetings, but if it were a Cumann na nGaedheal meeting, the questioner asked his question at the peril of his life. That has  not been an uncommon experience. Above all things, I wish to condemn the denunciations that appeared day after day. Further, I desire to say that they were not confined to one Party, but I do say that the Party that was out to strike a blow for liberty, for religion, for honour and all these things were the greatest sinners by far. What has been the net result of that? What have they added to the credit of the country? Time will tell.
To go back again to the day on which the last Dáil opened, I would remind Deputies who sat in the Fifth Dáil of the promises and the offers which were then made by Deputy Liam Mac Cosgair, on behalf of his Party, to give up office. Apparently they were only taking on office on that occasion at a great sacrifice to save the country. He said they had no intention or desire to hamper those who had secured a majority in the Dáil — those Parties outside their Party. “We have no intention or desire to hamper those who have secured it in the exercise of their rights.” He said again: “I want to be quite clear that I do not seek office and that I shall accept office only if the Opposition Parties are unable or unwilling to do so, and then upon very definite understandings.” He went on in that strain on two or three occasions afterwards. Ministers repeated the same offer, that they were only taking up office because there was nobody else, according to them, prepared to take office. They had no desire to cling to office, and they were only ready and willing to shed office if something else occurred. And when there was a Party, when there were people ready and willing to take up the reins of Government, a different tune was played by the President and his Party. Then we had a desire, what one might almost go as far as calling an indecent desire, to hang on to office at all costs. We had a vote moved in the House, and the President was kept in office by the casting vote of an impartial Chairman. I have no hesitation in saying that what would have been the obvious duty of the President in any other Parliament in the world ought to have been taken  and followed by him here. That was not done.
I turn to the proclamation of the dissolution and to the statement which was issued on that occasion by the President as his reasons for advising the dissolution. He did not tell us in that proclamation, as I have told you now, that he had flouted the authority of Parliament in calling the dissolution, but he did tell us his reasons. I take a few extracts from that statement published on the 26th August. “There is no margin of safety,” he said. “Any three members ill or absent, any two Farmers or Independents voting against the Government means its defeat.” He wanted to get away from that position. He stated again that the position of the Farmers and the position of the Independents was quite impossible, that they would be faced with the choice of voting with the Government in all matters or allowing the Government to be defeated. He said: “It is apparent from the result of the by-elections to-day that in two of the largest and most important constituencies in this country there is a decisive vote by all the stable elements for the retention of the present Government.” The less said of that the better. “It is apparent from that,” he said, “that the rest of the country is waiting to be afforded the same opportunity to give the same verdict.” Well, the country has had its opportunity. Is the President pleased with the verdict which it has given him? Before the June election I remember a declaration made by the President, Deputy Mac Cosgair, a very definite statement that if he did not get 50 members elected in his own Party he was not prepared to take office. He did not get 50 members elected, but he took office.
Mr. O'CONNELL: I am giving it from memory, and it was that if he did not get 50 members in his own Party he would not accept office. I am quite  willing to accept the President's correction, but that, at least, is commonly understood to be the statement.
Mr. O'CONNELL: I hope we are all clearer now. In any case, 50 members of his Party were not elected, and still Deputy Mac Cosgair formed a Ministry. The country did not give the answer to Deputy Mac Cosgair that he apparently expected to secure, by hook or by crook, as the saying is, but in spite of that we have him here to-day again offering to form a Ministry. Contempt, scorn and ridicule were poured on Deputy Johnson and Deputy Redmond some weeks ago here at the very idea of these men wishing to get into office, wishing to get control of the Government. The idea of these men looking for office! How dare they look for office! I would be sorry if either of these men exhibited such a desire to cling to office, despite the evident wishes of the country, that has been shown by the Party whose nominee is before us for the position of President.
I do not know whether it is by design or accident, but the fact remains in any case, that there has been a very definite attempt in the country to identify one particular Party with the State. The idea has got abroad and is fostered by the supporters of that Party, that Cumann na nGaedheal is the Irish Free State, that if any other Party or any other body get control of the State, then the Free State and its Constitution are destroyed. It is a very common opinion and an opinion that, as I say, has been fostered in the country by supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal. They did not ask the people to vote for the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. On their placards down the country they said: “Vote for the Government; vote for the Government candidate.” A deliberate attempt has been made to identify a Party with the State. That is against the interests of the State. It is inimical  to the State that it should be identified with any one Party.
I know that public servants, old age pensioners and men who have sons in the Gárda Síochána were of the opinion, an opinion that was fostered by the followers and supporters of this Party, that the whole structure of government would fall to the ground if the Cumann na nGaedheal Party were defeated. Old age pensioners would have their pensions stopped; no pensions could be paid to them; the Gárda Síochána would be dissolved and sent home about their business; therefore their fathers, mothers and relatives must vote for the Government, and the same with the Army. I protest against this idea of identifying one particular Party with the State. Because it has been done, and I venture to say connived at by many supporters of that Party, is one of the reasons why I think it would be good for the State, and in the interests of the State, that some Party other than the Cumann na nGaedheal Party should be in control of the Government of the State.
I do not wish to occupy the time of the Dáil overmuch, but I wish to place in the category of charges which can be laid at the door of the Government and which influenced very many in voting against them their action in regard to the Public Safety Act. Down the country during the elections we were all told that this Act was only intended for criminals and assassins; that the ordinary man in the street, the law-abiding citizen, need have no fear of it unless he were a criminal or an assassin and that he had nothing to fear from it. That was said, not only by the ordinary rank and filers of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, but by one of the men whose duty it would be to administer that Act. If it was only intended for the criminal and the assassin you must know your criminal and your assassin in order to apply it to him. If you know a man is a criminal and an assassin then the duty of the Government is plain: to take that criminal, put him on trial and punish him if he deserves to be punished, but apart altogether from that, I would like to refresh the memory of some Deputies here with regard to this Public Safety Act by an opinion delivered by a High  Court Judge — not a High Court Judge under the old régime, but one appointed by the Executive Ministry within the last four or five years.
Referring to Article 6 of the Constitution and Section 16 of the Act he said the effect of this new provision “was in substance that on the merest suspicion of an officer of the Civic Guard a person might find himself arrested and as a result detained for several days in prison without a charge having been made against him, without a trial, or without the grounds of the suspicion being revealed to him.” And again, he says “the Constitution is a sacred charter.” He evidently thought it necessary to remind the Government of that fact, that the Constitution of which they pretend to be the greatest defenders was a sacred charter “not to be lightly or equivocally tampered with, but this Clause 3 left the subjects of the State, who had rights under the Constitution and who had rights to exercise against amendments of the Constitution, in the dark as to what was really being done with the Constitution, instead of enlightening them as to any change in their status. An omnibus amendment of this kind was in his judgment, contrary to the spirit of Article 50, if not to the letter. The rights of the people were not to be draftsman.” That is the opinion of draughtsman.” That is the opinion of a High Court Judge, and I put that against the opinion of those who up and down the country said this Act, this Coercion Act, which swept away the constitutional rights won for us by the late Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, was only intended for the criminal and the assassin. Those Ministers who profess a respect for the Constitution and who preach the necessity of acting in accordance with the Constitution have done more to create disrespect for that Constitution in the minds of the people of the country generally than any other body of men in the country.
I think I have said enough to justify the action which this Party proposes to take in this matter. It might be well to say a word or two on another aspect of this proposition. It is commonly assumed by the newspapers and by  people outside this Dáil, and the assumption has been fostered by the Deputy who has been proposed and by his supporters, that the Labour Party is in alliance with another Party in this House. I want to make the position of our Party quite clear and definite. There is no alliance with the Fianna Fáil Party or any other Party now any more than ever there was. Our position is quite clear and quite definite. We have stated here, and we and our supporters have stated from election platforms through the country, as well as in our election addresses, that we are prepared to give critical and conditional support to any Party that will carry out the programme that we have laid down as the programme of the Labour Party until such time as we have a majority of members in this House to enable us to carry out that programme ourselves. That was and is our position. It remains our position to-day as well as on the day before the election was held. Therefore, the fact that we are opposing this nomination does not necessarily, and must not be taken to, imply that we are prepared to give unqualified and unconditional support to the nominee of any other Party. Before we could consider giving support to a nominee of the Fianna Fáil Party we would want to have very definite, very clear, and very explicit assurances on certain points which we regard as essential. We would want to know, for instance, what would be the position of that Party, assuming it came into the Government of the State, with regard to the question of finding employment for people who are out of employment. We would want definite assurances in this House where statements of policy are more definite, and should be more definite, than those given on election platforms. We would want to know whether the statement made by the leader of that Party during the course of the election is still, and will continue to be, the policy of that Party. I venture to quote an extract from that statement: “That it is the primary duty of a modern State to ensure that every man who is able and willing to work will have work so that he may earn his daily bread.” That is an assurance that we would like to have made in a definite way in this  House. We know the assurances that we have got from the Party that sits opposite. We have been assured definitely by them that in their opinion it is not the duty of a government to provide work for anybody.
Then there is the question with regard to the Army. We would want an assurance that the idea which the Labour Party has always supported, the policy which it has always supported with regard to the Army, should be made quite definite. That position, I repeat it here again, is this, that there must be in this State only one army, and that army must be under the complete control of this Oireachtas.
Finally, we want to have an assurance that in the lifetime of any Parliament in which such a nomination would be made, and for which our support might be forthcoming, the Treaty on which this State has been founded, and the Constitution arising out of that Treaty, should only be altered by a majority of, and with the authority of a majority of this Parliament. These are matters of Labour policy which are very definite, and I would like to make it clear that opposition to the nomination of Deputy Liam T. Mac Cosgair does not necessarily mean support for the nomination or for the nominee of the next largest Party in the House, and would not mean such support unless assurances on the lines I have mentioned are definitely forthcoming. These are the tests which it is our duty on behalf of those we represent to apply to any nomination for the Presidency. Whether we oppose or support that particular nominee, we shall be guided by the same principles which have already guided our action in this House. We recognise that the Deputies of this House are the servants of the people and that the Ministry who may be elected by this House are the servants of Parliament. We believe that the country requires honest service from all of us, and we believe, too, that the time is coming when, instead of looking back to the past and discussing old jealousies and carrying on recriminations for what has happened in the past, we ought to look to the future, and each of us in his own way should do his best to bring about the regeneration of our country. It is because  we feel that the nomination and election of Deputy Cosgrave is not the best way of bringing about that regeneration that we have decided to cast our votes against the motion when the division is called.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: It devolves on me, as the newly-appointed leader of the Farmers' Party, to state in short the attitude of my Party towards the proposal which is before the Dáil. My Party has decided to give its support to the nomination of Deputy W.T. Cosgrave as President of the Executive Council. We have to face the issue before us. We have to face up to the proposal which has been put before us to-day. We have to decide whether it is in the best interests of the country at the present moment and in the present situation to have Deputy Cosgrave appointed President or to have another Deputy appointed President. The thing that struck me as extraordinary in regard to the speech made by Deputy O'Kelly was that although he opposed the appointment of Deputy Cosgrave he has not suggested an alternative. Our whole attitude on this matter depends on that point—is there an alternative, and if there is an alternative, who is the alternative President? Perhaps Deputy O'Kelly would tell us if he has an alternative. Perhaps he would inform us if it is the intention of his Party to propose one amongst their members as President of the Executive Council. My opinion is that if there is a Party in this House, particularly a Party which is the second largest in numbers, opposed to the election of whoever is proposed for President, it is the duty of that Party to propose an alternative.
It may be political tactics not to propose an alternative. But I believe the situation is such in this country that this is not a time for political tactics. This is a time for this House to face up straight to the issues before us. And the issue which we see before us is this — is the future President to be President Cosgrave, or is the President to be the nominee of the second largest Party in the Dáil? We have to take our choice between the two. If I am wrong in my assertion that that is the choice before us, I would ask the  Deputies opposite to contradict me. We here have to take our choice between the two, and we have to form a decision regarding the policy represented by both Parties. The decision my Party has taken is founded upon their examination into and their decision upon the relative merits, the records and policies of the two leading Parties in the House. We heard a good deal to-night about the past. We heard a good deal from Deputy O'Kelly about the past political record of Deputy Cosgrave. But there can be more than one point of view as to the past political record of public men. My Party and I happen to hold a point of view on the political record of Deputy Cosgrave which does not coincide with the point of view of Deputy O'Kelly. As I understand the history of recent times in Ireland, my view of what has been done by Deputy Cosgrave and his Party is that they, as part of the majority of the elected Parliament of this country, decided to take a certain course in regard to the Treaty, which course was ratified by a majority of the then sitting Dáil, and which course was further ratified by the elections which followed.
In short, in my opinion, Deputy Cosgrave and his Party accepted the will of the majority of the people, and my Party stand for the acceptance of the will of the majority of the people in this country. We differ from the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, who has expounded a theory that the people of Ireland have not a right to do wrong. We believe that whatever action is taken by a majority of the people is right, and we believe that the sanction of the majority of the people of the Saorstát was given to the step that was taken by Deputy Cosgrave. It is upon that political record of his that we support him.
We are further supporting him on his political record as a constructive statesman. I have had the honour of taking part in the proceedings of the Dáil during the past four years, during the lifetime of two Parliaments, and it has fallen upon me time after time to differ, and differ very acutely, from the policy of Deputy Cosgrave and his Government. But despite the fact that I  did differ, and that I do still differ, in regard to certain portions of the policy of Deputy Cosgrave, my Party and I formed the opinion that Deputy Cosgrave, in accordance with his own light, was working honestly and faithfully for the constructive advancement of this country. Deputy O'Kelly thought fit to introduce in his speech a statement as to the economic conditions in this country, and he thought fit to introduce into his speech a form of propaganda which has been all too prevalent in this country during the recent elections, and it is this: That the existing Government of this country is absolutely and completely responsible for the economic conditions. I think it is a disgrace that leading public men should mislead the populace of this country into the belief that the welfare or the contrary of this country depends absolutely or altogether upon the existing Government. The Deputy must be aware that economic conditions are very largely outside the purview and control of existing Governments. I am convinced a government can mar the conditions of a country, but I am not convinced that a Government can make the conditions of any country. When we have Deputy Cosgrave and his Party charged with the low prices of cattle, with emigration from the country, and all those different ills that are due to the economic policy of Deputy Cosgrave, then naturally the people of this country who are anxious to get enlightenment as to the panacea offered have to turn to the economic policy of the Party which is opposed to the present Government—to the economic policy of the Fianna Fáil Party. The honest course for the Fianna Fáil Party to take, if they believe in their economic policy, and if they are prepared to stand by it, is to appoint from amongst their members one of them to act as President and to offer to take up the reins of Government, and attempt to carry out that economic policy. I have not studied the economic policy of Fianna Fáil very deeply, and for one good reason, that I do not consider it is worth the serious consideration of a child in the fourth book going to a National School, but from what I have seen of it I believe it is wholly impracticable, and instead  of regenerating this country it would, if carried out in its entirety, bring the country to ruin.
The Party which refuses to take up office, which has not got a nominee for office here, is not confined to an economic policy. They have a political policy and any Party that aims to take office ought to be clear, definite and explicit in regard to their programme. President Cosgrave and his followers have been clear, definite and explicit and with them we know where we stand. We do not know where we stand with the other Party. I have welcomed the Fianna Fáil Party into the Dáil. I am glad to see them here, but before I ask my Party to give support to Fianna Fáil I want to know to what policy we are going to give our support. I doubt if any man in this country knows what political policy he is going to support if he follows Fianna Fáil. My Party want to know before they take any action in this situation and before they would be ready to support Fianna Fáil, what is the Fianna Fáil attitude towards the Treaty. Have the followers of Fianna Fáil accepted the Treaty position or have they not? The people I represent believe that the Treaty was the best possible measure of freedom we could get and we do not propose to stand behind any Party that is prepared to take chances on the Treaty. We have before this expressed the opinion, and we again express it here, that a Treaty is not made for all time. A Treaty can be changed, but can only be changed in one way, and that is by negotiation with the other contracting party.
What line is Fianna Fáil going to take if it gets power? What line is it going to adopt on any of the vital clauses of the Treaty? If we knew what they were going to do we could then consider whether they are worthy of support or not. We do not know, and now that the opportunity arises of making it plain, clear and definite to the country what their attitude is, have they taken advantage of that opportunity? They have not. They remain as uncertain and as indefinite now as they have always been. The leader of that Party some years ago stood on the rock of the Republic but is not now standing upon that rock; he is standing  on the shifting sands of an empty formula.
To come now to economic questions, there is no Party in the House which is more aware of the dire economic conditions of the country than we of the Farmers' Party. We are brought face to face day by day with the economic conditions, and we are too well aware that those economic conditions are bad. It is our desire that the political parties should turn their attention once and for all away from the political issues, and should devote their energies to the economic issues. I assure Deputies there is more than enough work for all of us in this Dáil to solve the economic problems and bring about an economic regeneration in this country. When we start to expound economic problems we find we are immediately up against political problems—immediately we are up against the fact that political problems run across economic problems. In so far as they run across the economic problems, we of the Farmers' Party found ourselves, in the last election, in such a position that economic problems did not seem to exist. The economic questions were only used as side issues, side arguments, to gain political ends by the leading Opposition in this House. I suggest to that Opposition that there is a great opportunity in front of them now. There is work enough and to spare for them if they devote their energies and their intelligence to the solving of the economic problems.
They do not seem prepared to take the responsibility of forming a Government. Apparently they are, instead, prepared to continue as an Opposition, to continue in the position which gives a Party that does not wish to be tied down to or tried out on its economic policy a chance of still making the people of the country believe that there is economic salvation for them as soon as they give an absolute and complete majority to that Party. I do not intend to go very deeply into the economic theories propounded by that Party.
As a representative of the farmers. I am well aware that the question of agricultural credit is at the present moment a pressing one for the farming community, and I know the Government,  of which President Cosgrave is the head and which we are supporting, has taken steps to provide, through the Agricultural Credit Corporation, for the advance of money to farmers who are in poor circumstances. That is one of the reasons why I am prepared to give my support to that Party. I am aware of the urgent necessity for the provision of this money. On the other hand, I am aware of the promises made by the Party on the other side. As a Party, they hope to borrow money in America to provide those credits. Using whatever little judgment I have of economic and financial matters, I am convinced that any Party which continues to remain uncertain, indefinite, and is more or less nebulous on the main political question — the question of whether they are accepting the Treaty and Constitution — will not, and cannot, borrow money in this country, in England or in America unless at an extortionate rate of interest or unless they mortgage the whole future of our country. I cannot see that that Party which would form the alternative Government can provide the money which is required for the provision of credit for the agriculturists who are in such unfortunate circumstances at the moment.
As regards the remarks of Deputy O'Connell, we were told that at the last election we did not have freedom of speech. I, as a candidate on behalf of the Farmers' Party, did not have freedom of speech, but the attempts to prevent my freedom of speech did not come from the Party to whom Deputy O'Connell attributes interference with freedom of speech. I had the temerity to address meetings without notifying the Civic Guards and without telling the guardians of the peace in this country that I was going to make speeches. I found myself met with organised opposition and worse than that on several occasions. I recognise clearly that if it were not for the freedom of speech which I afterwards gained by the protection of the guardians of the law we would have had the same freedom of speech as in 1922. We had very little freedom of speech in Tipperary in 1922, but we had freedom of speech in 1927.  I have little further to say. I have expressed, in so far as lies in my power, the feeling of the Party to which I belong. We have taken a decision, and that decision is, that in the present circumstances the only action which we and those who stand behind us will adopt is to give our support to President Cosgrave for the Presidency of the Executive Council. When I say that I hope that President Cosgrave will be re-elected, I have also other hopes, and I agree with the concluding words of Deputy O'Connell, to the effect that political parties should try to put aside the acrimonious differences existing between them, and that it is time for all parties to concentrate on the economic conditions of the country. I say, however, that before parties can concentrate on solving the economic problems of this country they will have to be honest and sincere in their economic policy, and that they cannot put forward a policy upon which they are prepared at an election to go before the country, but upon which they are afraid to stand after election.
I challenge the Party that sits on the opposite side to say that they are not afraid to stand on the economic policy which they put before the people. If they are not, the alternative is open to them. They can test the Dáil and see whether the Dáil will give a vote for their nominee who stands for their economic policy. The Party to which I belong will not, at any rate, give a vote for such policy. They do not believe that it is a policy that will make for the welfare, upliftment and advancement of the country. We believe that we have in the present charter of liberty which we have accepted full freedom to advance the national and economic welfare of the country, if we only realise it and take advantage of the opportunities open to this Dáil.
Captain REDMOND: I have nothing to add to or to detract from the statement I made on a similar occasion on the 23rd June last. The position, to my mind, is almost identical now. The only difference, perhaps, is that the two larger Parties in this State have increased their strength at the recent general election by almost identical numbers to the loss of the minor or  smaller Parties. I will quote the words I used on that occasion: “I think it is an admitted fact that the first essential to the carrying on of the affairs of the State is a Government, and there is no Party in the Dáil at the moment in a position to, of itself, command a majority of this House. That being so, I take it that it is the primary duty of the largest Party in the House to take the initial steps to form a Government.” I went on to say: “Now, neither myself nor those for whom I speak are in the position either to form a Government or indeed to nominate anyone to the position of President.” That certainly obtains to-day.
Listening to the remarks of the last speaker, I must say that I felt slightly bewildered because he started by saying that there had been no alternative Government proposed or no alternative name submitted as President. He devoted a large portion of his speech to discussing the relative merits of the two Parties. So far as I am aware, there has been no alternative proposal made, and, while it is hardly necessary for me to reiterate my complete disagreement with Cumann na nGaedheal on a large portion of their programme and policy, and also on the methods that they employed in propounding and putting forward that programme and policy, at the same time I venture to say, as I said on the 23rd June last, that I am not prepared to vote for a direct negative. What we are asked to vote for here is that a certain Deputy shall be elected President. There has been a direct negative proposed to that proposition, but there has been no alternative suggestion, and, so far as I can see, there does not seem to be a likelihood of such an alternative.
That being the case, and having been returned to this Dáil as an Independent member in opposition to the Government, and as one who would be prepared in the future, as I have been in the past, to criticise the Government where I disagree with them, and to support them where I find myself in agreement with them, I certainly cannot support a direct negative to the proposition that the leader of the largest Party in the Dáil should be called upon to take up the office and duties of President. In saying this I  hope it will be understood that I am as convinced to-day as I was on the last occasion I spoke here of the utter futility of the coercion policy of the late Government and of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. I do not know whether the result of the general election has brought any change of mind either to the leader or to the members of that Party, but I think the House and the country would welcome some expression from him, or from leading members of his Executive Council, as to what course they now intend to pursue in regard to the Public Safety Act. That Act, in my opinion, is as dead as mutton. The Public Safety Act, perhaps, may never have to be put into operation, and, in my opinion, never will. It may be suggested that if that be so why not leave it as it is? With respect I say that it would be the greatest act of good-will on the part of any leader of any Government now formally to acknowledge that even if there had been use for the Public Safety Act in the past the time has now gone for it, and it should be removed from the Statute Book. I, therefore, ask for some indication as to what is to be the policy of the Government in this respect.
The Public Safety Act was a monstrous infringement of the Constitution. It was an infringement of some of the most sacred rights within that Constitution. If there had been a necessity for it in the past, which I completely deny, there is no necessity for it to-day. It would be a beau geste, an act of graciousness and good-will which would augur well for the future conduct of this assembly and of this State if President Cosgrave would announce that it is his view now the Public Safety Act should be withdrawn from the statute book. I have only to say in conclusion that I will continue to reserve to myself and those who are left with me—they are not many—the right to criticise, speak and vote by way of independent opposition. I have had no hand, act or part in some of the troublesome times referred to here in the earlier stages of this debate, and, therefore, I think I may be taken as genuinely wishing that that portion of our history should be regarded as a closed chapter. I want that we should  go forward from this on, with a full representative Dáil, and consider the immediate economic and most pressing needs of every individual interest in this State. I desire to say that if I was in the position to nominate someone, or to take part in the formation of a Government as an alternative to this one, I would have no hesitation in doing so, but not being in that position, it would be utter hypocrisy for me to take part in a division which is nothing but a mere negative, and will not advance us a step further in the direction of setting up a Government.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Until an Leas-Cheann Comhairle has been elected the Ceann Comhairle will, with the leave of the Dáil, when he desires to leave the Chair, put a Deputy in the Chair for a brief period.
MINISTER for FINANCE (Mr. Blythe): I do not wish to detain the House long. In most countries in which there is a Parliamentary Government a debate such as this would not take place. A King, Governor-General, or President would send for somebody to form a Government. Our Constitution provides that the head of the Executive Council shall be nominated by the Dáil. It is impossible, of course, to go over the whole of the recent political history on such an occasion as this, and I do not wish to attempt it in any way. I would just say, in reply to some of the criticisms of Deputy O'Kelly in regard to President Cosgrave, that there is no foundation whatever for the suggestion implied in them, that President Cosgrave's policy has at any time been dictated by the interests of another country than Ireland. I have had the honour to be associated with President Cosgrave for a considerable time. I know very well what his motives were on most occasions. I have been in consultation with him before decisions were taken on a great many occasions. and I know at all times the object of his policy was to promote the interests of this country—to promote the interests of Irish nationality. There was a sort of suggestion in Deputy O'Kelly's speech that on their side was virtue and Erin, and on ours Saxon and guilt. That is all very well for an election  platform, but it does not bear any relation to reality. President Cosgrave was one of those who recognised that the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 was a great victory for this country, and he recognised, moreover, that the great majority of the people wanted that Treaty accepted. Since then he has been one of those who has worked to secure that the will of the majority of the people would be effective. I do not want to indulge in recriminations. I do not want to say anything that would lead to a debate which would be purely in the nature of recrimination. But we can say this, that President Cosgrave has safeguarded and promoted the interests and improved the status of this country. Not only has the status which the Treaty gave us, and which it was recognised by most people the Treaty did give, not been reduced, but actually the status has been increased, and the honour, credit and reputation of the country abroad have been increased.
We have done a great deal towards securing that one of the vital elements of Irish Nationality has been preserved. I refer to the national language. I regard the question of the language as the touchstone in matters of nationality. I have always held that if the language were allowed to die and be lost there could be no continuance and no preservation of the historic Irish nation. We may not have done all that could be done to secure and preserve the language, but we have done a great deal, and we have been able to do more than any body of people were able to do in the past. We secured entry to the League of Nations and have made a position for the Free State at the League of Nations. We have got our status recognised there by other nations. In every respect we have endeavoured to do what was thought to be best for the people of the country both in the present and in the future. There might be differences of opinion about it, but we will get nowhere and we will be able to do no good work in this House if we are going to have it argued that a Government supported by a majority of the House and elected by the Irish people, however the House was constituted, acted otherwise than in the interests of the Irish nation as they saw  them. If we are going to have anything else we can have nothing here but useless recrimination. I do not want to see recrimination. I suppose I could take my part in the battle of recrimination just as well as anyone else. But what good will that do the country? I do not think I will follow Deputy O'Kelly in detail. I could take up a number of points that he made, but I do not suppose that what I would say would influence anybody here. As a matter of fact, a debate like this can be at best a formal affair and I do not know that anything that is said on any side is going to influence votes.
Deputy O'Connell found fault with the Government for dissolving. A position was created in which I still think that the only fair thing to do was to take counsel with the people. An impasse had arisen, and, moreover, a situation, which nobody could have anticipated when the June general election was fought, had arisen. The verdict of the people was required. That verdict when it was given was not an emphatic verdict, but, at any rate, there is no higher court of appeal to go to and the best must be made of the situation. But it would have been wrong to have attempted to carry on in circumstances which did not hold out much hope of doing good work for the country without appealing to the people. I refuse altogether to accept the notion that it is harmful or wrong to give the people an opportunity of pronouncing. It is right to give the people an opportunity of pronouncing. Deputy O'Connell's speech in that respect was only a lament over spilt milk.
Mr. BLYTHE: I know Deputy Davin cannot restrain himself. With regard to economic policy, the economic policy that has been adopted by the Government is different from the economic policy advocated by the Labour Party. A great deal could be said both ways in regard to it. We have tried to pursue the line of creating employment by carrying out works and we have undertaken great works. We have undertaken great schemes with the object of giving employment, both in their execution  and as a result of carrying them out. We have used as far as we thought it wise and advantageous the tariff weapon with the object of creating employment. We have embarked on a policy of road construction with the object of giving employment. We have initiated big drainage schemes like the Barrow Drainage scheme with the object of giving employment in the construction and ultimately giving further employment on the land. We have started schemes like the Sugar Beet scheme with the object of giving employment. We thought that that was the best way and that if we could avoid the policy of what is called the “dole,” it was best to avoid that policy. There might be circumstances in which there would be no feasible alternative to the “dole,” but we do not think that these circumstances exist, and we have not been able to agree with the claims of the Labour Party in that respect.
As to the Public Safety Act, I think that the policy of any Government must be to use all the legal powers that it has to prevent murder, to prevent the organisation of murder, to prevent incitement to murder, and to secure the peace and safety of the ordinary citizen. I do not believe that the time has come for any repeal of the Public Safety Act. It may not be necessary to use the powers given in the latter part of that Act. I hope, as I have always hoped, and as all the members of the Government hope, that it will not be necessary. Deputy Redmond says it was a monstrous infringement of the Constitution, but it followed a monstrous crime. It followed a crime that really struck at the roots of any possible progress in this country; a crime which, if it had been repeated, would have had results that could not be foreseen or foretold; a crime which might have led, in certain circumstances, to the definite “Balkanisation” of the country. It was a crime which called for very definite steps to ensure that it would not be repeated, and no steps could be too strong to ensure that it would not be repeated. There is no use in talking about Coercion Acts. Coercion by the British Government applied to the majority of the Irish people is one thing; coercion applied to a criminal minority in the  interests of the ordinary Irish people is quite another thing.
People say that the Public Safety Act was more drastic than any Act the British ever passed. I do not know whether it was or not, but it ought to have been. The British could afford to have years of turmoil here and it did not matter. No Irish Government could afford to have years of turmoil, and it was up to us to take more drastic steps than the British Government might have thought it necessary to take.
As for gestures of good-will, we do not want to prevent the growth of the spirit of amity and concord in this country. We want that. We hope that amity and concord may come. We have tried during the years that we have had responsibility and power to do what we believe to be the will of the majority of the people, to do what we believed would be in the interests of the majority of the people. We tried to persuade the people to do the right thing, as any Party might persuade them. Whatever is the verdict of the majority, we are satisfied with that. It has always been our policy to enable the majority here to decide what should be done and what the Government should be. We are prepared, as I have said, to accept their verdict upon anything, and if our advice or our propaganda is not successful, to do whatever may be necessary to adjust it. I do not think I need say anything more. I have found that in office President Cosgrave has been unsparing of himself, has been conscientious, has been courageous and resourceful in every emergency. I believe he has done very good work for the country and that in circumstances which are new and which are happily new as a result of the filling up of this House — and I think the filling up of this House is the best thing that has happened for a long time — I believe in these happily new circumstances President Cosgrave will be able to do further good work for the country.
Mr. LEMASS: As the Minister has effectively killed Deputy Redmond's hope that the Public Safety Act is a dead letter, it would be well to emphasise  that fact for the benefit of other Deputies. The Minister objects to the Public Safety Act being called a Coercion Act. Such in fact it is, whether he likes it or not. During the course of the recent election campaign the Deputy whom it is now proposed to make President of the Executive Council stated definitely that if he were elected it was his intention to put the Public Safety Act into full operation. Now the majority of Deputies here, I think, have realised that before there can be political progress or economic reconstruction it is necessary to have what is called political stability — a sense of good feeling between Irishmen and a sense of co-operation between political Parties. Will a policy of coercion and will a coercion Government help the growth of that political stability, which alone could make prosperity possible in this country?
We have already had a foretaste of the operations of the Public Safety Act. There has been a man arrested here in Dublin, the son of one of the executed leaders of 1916, Seán MacBride, and imprisoned on a charge of being suspected by a police officer. There was a Superintendent of the Civic Guard in Kerry who made it a practice to attend any meeting held under the auspices of the Fianna Fáil Party in his area for the purpose of interrupting and heckling speakers. One of those speakers, who had the audacity to protest against this, was promptly arrested under the Public Safety Act and conveyed a prisoner to Limerick Jail. We are told that this Act is intended for the purpose of suppressing crime. This Act is intended, and I believe will be used for preventing and prohibiting and restricting the political activities of the opponents of the Government. I ask Deputies to think how long it will take repetitions of the incidents that have already occurred, from the liberal use of the powers which the Public Safety Act gives to the Executive Council, until the dying embers of the fires of civil strife have been blown back again to flame in this country with all the consequences that that will mean for the people residing in it.
I would remind Deputies that we have many and serious problems to  solve within the coming months— problems the effective solution of which are essential, I believe, to the survival of the Irish nation. There is the problem of unemployment. I have often got the impression that the Ministers of the late Government were utterly incapable of understanding the tremendous importance that the problem of unemployment constitutes and the necessity for making some serious effort to solve it, and to preserve the vitality of the Irish nation. There is the problem of emigration. 280,000 of the finest of our men and women have emigrated from this country during the past four years to seek abroad the subsistence and livelihood they could not get in this country. That is a tribute to the activity or inactivity of the Government that Deputy Heffernan will perhaps appreciate. Then there is the problem of our declining trade and our declining wealth. These problems are big and are capable of solution if a serious effort is made to solve them, but the effort must be made by the nation as a whole, by all Parties in the nation working as a team for that purpose. Will the Public Safety Act help to promote that team work?
We are asked what is our alternative. We think it is best that this House should decide the motion before us. If Deputies take our advice and defeat that motion, and if the responsibility is put upon Deputies on those benches to provide an alternative, we will not shirk that responsibility. We are asked to define our political policy. We are asked if we stand to maintain the Treaty. What does it matter whether we stand to maintain the Treaty or not? We do stand for reorganising the Irish people and strengthening their will to resume their advance to the complete independence of a united Ireland. If we get from the people the necessary power, and if it can be done with safety to the nation, we do intend to alter the Treaty and to alter the Constitution wherever they are in conflict with the national interests. We are told that our economic policy is not practical. We are told that by a Deputy who admits that he knows nothing at all about it. Who told Deputy Heffernan that he could  speak for the farmers of Ireland? There are sitting on these benches behind me three times as many farmers as there are in his entire Party. We believe that with the co-operation of these men, practical working farmers, and with the co-operation of the business men who are also in our ranks, we can and have in fact hammered out an economic policy which, if put into operation, would speedily alter the condition of affairs existing in this country.
Mr. LEMASS: The Minister who spoke last stated that the policy of the Executive Council was not dictated by the interests of another country. I do not know whether that statement is true or not, but I do know that the policy of the Executive Council, as operated, did tend to benefit the interests of another country against the interests of the Irish nation. We are told that the Executive Council have done everything in their power and have, in fact, improved and increased the status of the country. What country? Is it this partitioned portion of Ireland that they refer to as a country, and is the status of this country increased and improved by the fact that it is partitioned and that we have two subordinate Dominion Governments in the country instead of a sovereign assembly responsible only to the Irish people? There has been enough spoken during the course of the last election campaign regarding the general trend of events in Ireland to make it quite clear to everybody that if a serious effort is made to unite the whole people of Ireland to face the problems that confront us that effort will not fail. We ask Deputies in this House, particularly Deputies outside the ranks of Cumann na nGaedheal, to co-operate with us in abolishing the memory of past dissensions, in wiping out the recollection of the hatred, the bitterness and the jealousies that were created in this country after the Civil War, and to make it possible for all Irishmen who wish to serve the Irish nation to come together and stand together and work together for themselves and for Ireland.  We believe that the first step towards that end must be the removal from office of a Government which feels it cannot retain its position except through the operation of such drastic powers as the Public Safety Act gives. We ask Deputies here to take that first  step in national reconstruction to-day by voting against this motion. If that motion is defeated, I believe here will be a burden taken off the back of the Irish nation that will enable it to march forward with head erect to a better future.
|William P. Aird.
Ernest Henry Alton.
James Walter Beckett.
George Cecil Bennett.
Séamus A. Bourke.
John Joseph Byrne.
John James Cole.
Mrs. Margt. Collins-O'Driscoll.
Michael P. Connolly.
Bryan Ricco Cooper.
William T. Cosgrave.
Sir James Craig.
Peter De Loughrey.
James N. Dolan.
Peadar Seán Doyle.
Edmund John Duggan.
Barry M. Egan.
Osmond Thomas Grattan Esmonde.
John J. Hassett.
Michael R. Heffernan.
Michael Joseph Hennessy.
|Patrick Hogan (Galway).
Patrick Michael Kelly.
Hugh Alexander Law.
Arthur Patrick Mathews.
Michael Óg McFadden.
Joseph W. Mongan.
James E. Murphy.
James Sproule Myles.
Martin Michael Nally.
John Thomas Nolan.
Timothy Joseph O'Donovan.
John F. O'Hanlon.
Dermot Gun O'Mahony.
John J. O'Reilly.
John Marcus O'Sullivan.
Patrick W. Shaw.
Timothy Sheehy (West Cork).
William Edward Thrift.
Vincent Joseph White.
Jasper Travers Wolfe.
Archie J. Cassidy.
Eamon Cooney. Patrick Houlihan.
Michael Joseph Kennedy.
William R. Kent.
James Joseph Killane.
Seán F. Lemass.
Patrick John Little.
Martin John Corry.
Fred. Hugh Crowley.
Eamon de Valera.
Patrick J. Gorry.
Patrick Hogan (Clare).
Samuel Holt. Timothy Joseph Murphy.
Thomas J. O'Connell.
Patrick Joseph O'Dowd.
Seán T. O'Kelly.
Thomas P. Powell.
Patrick J. Ruttledge.
Timothy Sheehy (Tipperary).
Francis C. Ward.
The PRESIDENT: I beg to acknowledge the very great honour conferred on me by the Dáil. I propose to carry out the duties of this office to the best of my ability, with the help of God. I would like to say, in answer to some of the speeches that have been made against my nomination, that from the strict point of view of Irish nationality I yield to no man, in this House or outside it. That is a thing I would advise Deputy O'Kelly not to laugh at. Irish nationality is much more sacred than perhaps even he or his friends think.
Mr. O'KELLY: You know a lot about it.
The PRESIDENT: Whatever action I may have taken at any time during the last five years, I have taken it with the authority of the people of this country, with the authority of this Dáil.
Mr. O'KELLY: You have not.
The PRESIDENT: The Deputy's seat was vacant for five years. If he had a case to make against my administration, this Dáil was the place to make it in, the first institution in this country.
Mr. O'KELLY: The seats of many are vacant. We know where their graves are.
The PRESIDENT: And so do I.
A DEPUTY: Kevin O'Higgins.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: We will not advance any distance along this particular line.
Mr. DAVIN: The President started it.
A DEPUTY: Take your President off it.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The Deputy must not make allusion to my President. I do not know who made the statement, but he must not make any such allusion.
Mr. O'KELLY: You voted for him last time.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: This is a serious matter. Will Deputy O'Kelly explain what he means?
Mr. O'KELLY: You can explain it.
DEPUTIES: “Chair, Chair.”
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: This is a serious matter, and it may as well be settled at the outset. What does Deputy O'Kelly mean by saying that I voted for the President on the last occasion?
Mr. O'KELLY: You can best explain yourself.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Will Deputy O'Kelly explain what he means?
Mr. O'KELLY: You can best explain it.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: If this Assembly is to be carried on on any  reasonable principle, one of the things which cannot be tolerated in it is any insinuation against the Chair, and if a Deputy, and, most of all, a responsible Deputy is of the opinion that the occupant of the Chair has now, or at any other time, behaved in an improper manner, it is his duty to put a motion before the House and make his case. Above all, a case that has to be made against the Chair, if it is to be made at all, must not be made by way of interruption or innuendo. I can say no more than that. But no debate can be carried on in this House if, when the Chair makes any remark it is to be met with an idle innuendo which An Ceann Comhairle is told that he himself can explain. I cannot explain it.
The PRESIDENT: Opportunities will arise during the next five years for the discussion in ample detail of many matters which were raised rather generally in speeches this evening, and opportunities will be afforded to meet each one of these cases, not in general, but definitely in detail, where idle, empty expressions will not serve and where the people of this country will be shown, clearly and distinctly, what is the truth and what there is behind each and every item of detail in connection with administration. I have not been impressed by some of the speeches that I heard this evening. Idle generalities lead us nowhere. Quotations of statistics concerning banking, or other matters of that sort, did not add very much to the knowledge of the people of this country, and I am sure that the statistician in subsequent discoveries was rather surprised at the extraordinary avenues of information that were opened up before him in that connection. But what I do say, and what I have said outside, is that it is not a true-hearted Irish-Irelander who belittles this country, either here or outside. It is ours to make, and we ought to ensure that it will be built upon solid and stable foundations, with truth as its bulwark. The Deputy need not smile. Nobody desires more than I do that the proceedings of this independent Dáil,  this Parliament of the Irish people, shall be conducted harmoniously so that it will be a credit to the nation.
Mr. O'KELLY: The Twenty-six counties.
A DEPUTY: What nation?
The PRESIDENT: The Irish nation. That is one of the matters that can be discussed in detail, and one of the matters that can be learned about from Document No. 2—as to what there is behind what the Deputy states. We do not get any forwarder by saying simply that the Deputy, or any Deputy, or any combination of Deputies, is out for a united and absolutely independent Ireland. We have got to realise existing realities and to meet the stubborn facts which are before us. I propose to adjourn until 7 o'clock, if that meets with the convenience of the House, and on reassembling then I propose to put before it my nominations for the membership of the Executive Council. If Deputies would prefer that we should adjourn until 3 o'clock to-morrow I am prepared to acquiesce in that. If a long discussion were likely to ensue on the nomination of the members of the Executive Council, it might be better that we should not meet until to-morrow. But at any rate, on matters which are not of very great importance, surely I can hope for some co-operation from Deputies.
Mr. CORISH: I suppose we will have no dissolution in the meantime. It looks very dangerous.
EAMON DE VALERA: Is cuma linn má tá sé toghtha anois nó curtha ar áth-ló go dtí imáireac—pé rud is maith leis an Uachtarán.
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: We would prefer to have an adjournment until to-morrow. This has been a long sitting, for some of the Deputies perhaps a tiresome sitting, and I believe it would meet with general approval if we adjourned until 3 o'clock to-morrow. It is probable that a rather long discussion may arise on the nominations; such a discussion did arise on former occasions, and I think that  Deputies would be in a better position to take up the new discussion at 3 o'clock to-morrow.
The PRESIDENT: That disposes of my suggestion. I thought that if we met at 7 o'clock there would not be a long discussion. If there is to be a long discussion we had better leave it  until 3 o'clock to-morrow. I intend also to put on to-morrow's Order Paper a motion asking for permission to introduce the Creamery Estimate, which was before the last Dáil, and to give notice of the introduction of some Bills of a non-contentious character.
The Dáil adjourned at 6.5 p.m.
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