Thursday, 5 July 1928
Dáil Éireann Debate
Dr. O'DOWD: Before this House gives its final assent to this Bill I would like, even at the eleventh hour, to ask some of those who have gone into the Lobby in support of this Bill through all its stages, to reconsider their position. Some Deputies in the Party opposite, I am sure, go to the trouble of reading their own official organ, “The Freeman,” or “An Saoranach.” I did not procure a copy of the organ myself last week, but I read an extract from it in to-day's Press. That extract dealt with the possibility of a visit from a member of the Royal Family to this country, and it said that the Executive Council could not entertain the possibility of inviting a member of the Royal Family to this country at the present time, because the forces of West Britonism in this country would make such a demonstration of their loyalty to the Empire that it would stink in the nostrils of any decent Irish Nationalist. And what is this House actually doing by passing this Bill? We are allowing the Seanad—and it is not clear whether the out-going members of the Seanad can or cannot participate in the election—to vote for the incoming Senators. And the personnel of the Seanad, as we all know, is largely taken from a class that their own official organ says would make such a lavish display of Imperialism in connection with the Royal visit that it would stink in the nostrils of decent Irish Nationalists. In fact, those who will vote for this Bill are doing what their own organ says they should not do. They are entrenching Imperialism in one House of this Oireachtas. They are giving the Seanad the possibility of power by leaving them a majority in that House; they are leaving them the possible power next year or the year after to invite a member of the Royal Family to come across and give such a display.
The mode of election to any body such as the Seanad should be through the people, and the elected representatives of the people—the people elected by a popular franchise. They are the proper people to elect such a body as the Seanad. Members nominated by this Executive Council, or any future Executive Council, should not have power to vote in this election. Next to popular election throughout the various constituencies the nearest approach we can have to popular election is election by members who are elected themselves by a popular franchise. Even in the vain hope that, at the last moment, some members on the Government Benches and Independent Deputies will reconsider their view and at this stage vote against the Bill I would make that appeal to them, if it is not too late.
Dr. RYAN: I had the misfortune to come into the House yesterday while Deputy O'Hanlon was making a speech, and I heard him more or less misrepresenting our attitude, whether deliberately or not I do not know. At any rate, it was a misrepresentation of the facts. The Deputy was ably helped out by Deputy Gorey. They wanted to imply that our representatives on this Committee were at one time in favour of this method of election—that is, that our Party were at first in favour of it and are not now in favour of it. I think if those particular Deputies, or any Deputies with whom they have influence,  will go back and read the reports of the Joint Committee, they will find that Deputy Ruttledge did vote against the method of direct election by the people. But it was made very clear afterwards, in another vote that was taken, that that was to prepare the way afterwards for election by the Dáil, and that no member of our Party or that Committee or in this House has ever countenanced election of members of the Seanad by the Seanad. As stated by our leader here when this Bill appeared first, we are prepared to have an election to the Seanad by the Dáil rather than by the people, but we would much prefer, as against election by the Dáil and Seanad together, to go back to election by the people; that is, if election by the Dáil alone were impossible.
The point has been made here over and over again that this election by the Seanad and Dáil combined is going to give undue representation to a certain section of the people in this country. There is a section, who may be called a minority in this part of the country at any rate, and they have very nearly half the representation of the Seanad at the present time. That number of votes, combined with seven direct representatives that the same Party have in this House and the half-a-dozen others who are, for the present, members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, but who, it may be expected, will vote for the same type of representative as the thirty in the Seanad and the seven here—all those votes combined would be able to elect four out of that minority into the Seanad. That would mean that as the life of a member of the Seanad is to be nine years in future, that particular section of the people will have an undue representation in the Seanad for about six elections—that is, six times nine, or fifty-four years, which is far and away more than the President ever anticipated when he said here some time ago that they should get representation for twenty or thirty years.
We had an instance, during the local elections recently, where a certain Senator sought to become a member of his own urban council, and he got twenty-five votes. Twenty-five people of his native place where he,  and a certain number of generations before him, lived, were prepared to give him their first preferences. Now take eleven men like that in the Seanad. He is a Senator, and there are eleven like him, and they are able to vote for a Senator. That would mean that the Senator would be elected with about 275 popular votes in the country behind him. If you take the Senators elected by the members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party or elected by the members of the Labour Party or the members of our Party here, each of them would represent six or seven thousand votes. You would have the same sort of difference in the type of representatives there going on for years to come. You would have men there, who if they went to the country would presumably get 275 votes, sitting with equal rights and with equal position to the man who would, presumably, if he went to the country, get 7,000 votes, and these very men are to be equal in votes and equal in status and equal in power. It seems rather strange that the members of this House should agree to a measure which takes such powers out of their hands as would be shown by these figures, that they would voluntarily pass a Bill through this House which would give eleven nominated Senators the same power of electing a Seanad as it would give to eleven elected representatives of this House to elect a Senator with equal power.
As Deputy O'Dowd has just said, you have a section of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who are running this rather revolutionary organ called “The Freeman” which is pointing out the terrible dangers of a visit of a member of the Royal Family to this country at the present time, pointing out how feelings might be aroused amongst the nationalist population against that member of the Royal Family, and how those feelings are to be aroused as a sort of reaction against the reception which would be given by this very section of the Seanad who are going to reproduce themselves under this Bill. If these men are given a sort of standing, as the Seanad will perhaps give to certain men, and if they use their influence as Senators rather than as individuals,  as they are at present, in welcoming any member of the Royal Family, or doing any other act of that sort which is against the national susceptibilities of the people, we will be held, I suppose, in some measure responsible for passing this Bill through this House to put those very people in that position.
Mr. BRISCOE: Deputy O'Dowd appealed to members of Cumann na nGaedheal and other members of this House to hesitate before they put the final seal of their approval on the passage of this Bill. I am not as optimistic as Deputy O'Dowd at this stage, to attempt to appeal to any Deputy who has already voted for this Bill on its numerous passages through the Dáil. I sincerely feel there is no use in attempting any argument, however weighty, with the members of the House who have already approved of this Bill. Members on this side of the House have spent a lot of time, in fact on some occasions, in the opinion of the Government, they spent too much time, in their opposition to these Bills and particularly this Bill—sufficient time to warrant the introduction of the guillotine and the moving of the closure.
“Dublin Opinion” in this month's issue has on the front page a sketch of an automatic man and this automatic man is carved out into different sections, each section representing an Article, presumably of the Constitution. I believe it would do the members who approve of this Bill good to study that picture. We asked here if the House would decide what were fundamental Articles of the Constitution and what were not. I would recommend Deputies to study that little automatic man and to find whether Article 47, represented on the chest, or Article 17, represented at the thigh, would be more fundamental than the others.
In the Seanad yesterday I heard a Senator state that as far as the Seanad was concerned Article 47 was quite useless to them. Yet, if my memory serves me correctly, and I am open to correction, the President, on the introduction  of this Bill, said that this Bill was, to a certain extent, compensation to the Seanad for the abolition of the rights they would have under Article 47.
Mr. BRISCOE: It is very hard to know what all these Bills are about except that they seek to do away with any chances the people in the country have of ordering or regulating the forms of government in future times.
Mr. BRISCOE: I have refrained from entering into the debate on these Constitutional Bills except on one occasion. There is no use at all in attempting to put to the House arguments that should weigh with Deputies. No matter how the arguments would convince them, those who are supporting these measures will support them, and I certainly feel that there is no use attempting to study up even points that would have any bearing. Dr. Ryan emphasised—even if this Bill were acceptable—the unfairness of giving  the same representation to members of the Seanad as to members of this House, first of all by virtue of the constitution of that House, and, secondly, by virtue of the numbers of the House. If a fair mathematical proportion were calculated, the Seanad should only have one in three in comparison with this House. If there was any semblance of argument on the part of the Government in introducing this Bill it might be thought that that would have some weight with people who do not agree with the election of the Seanad by the people. I do not intend to delay the House. I just want to place on record the fact that, while I realise a case has been made and could be made on this side of the House against this Bill, there is not the slightest feeling that it would have any weight whatever with the members who are already out to have this Bill passed and who are committed to it. So far as I am concerned, I have nothing to say except to place on record my small vote of protest against the passage of this Bill against the undue haste with which it is being put through, to the exclusion of business which should have priority. We have referred day after day to questions of unemployment throughout the country. We have asked for facilities for matters that are of urgent importance, and we have the Estimates side-tracked. All these are of far more importance and more urgent than any of these Constitution Amendment Bills.
Mr. M. O'REILLY: There are, no doubt, great difficulties in trying to devise a Seanad which would give satisfaction to this country. I dare say if the Earls had not been compelled to leave Ireland or if the flight had not taken place, we might have one solution. That was the solution generally adopted in Europe. Still it is doubtful if it would be quite satisfactory to-day Civilisation changes. People get new ideas. We see in England which had a continuous system of that description that they do not seem to be quite satisfied
Mr. O'REILLY: Anyway most people agreed that the methods whereby  the Upper House was constituted in England is a matter of contention in England. I suppose at the present moment in Ireland it would certainly be sensible and perhaps very advisable to give serious consideration to this proposal as to how we are to constitute this particular Seanad. I know very well that we have a good many more difficulties than many other countries have. We have been subjected no doubt to a great many changes. We have been subjected to persecutions and those several persecutions have completely disorganised any system that might be suitable to us. To-day the only people that perhaps the present Constitution states are properly qualified for the position are not people that are or could naturally be in sympathy with us as a nation. Their outlook is completely different from what the outlook of this nation is. Their means of livelihood, their education and their social system are not at all in agreement with what our social system would be, and the tendency naturally amongst them would be to constitute a Seanad more or less on the same system as they have in England. But it is quite clear that that system would not be suitable for the people of Ireland. They would prefer, I am quite sure, to have a good deal of control, to have, in fact, complete control over the election of that Seanad. How to arrive at that is certainly a difficult problem, but, to my mind, and I believe to the mind of this party, the simplest and the best way would be through this Dáil, to give them the power of selection. If the power of selection was handed over completely to the people they would certainly have difficulties in selecting and electing Senators. Names would not be so well known to them, or qualifications, and we might have the same results as we had on the last occasion. The great majority of the people took absolutely no interest in the election with the result that only 25 per cent. of the people recorded their votes but, as the people of Ireland are pretty well represented in this Dáil, I believe that this Dáil is in a position truly to represent what would be to a large extent the wishes of the people in selecting Senators or in selecting an Upper House. Of course, first and  foremost, we should certainly have decided definitely whether an Upper House is necessary or not or whether they should act as a check on what we do here or whether they should be simply elected as a sort of economic Council. Most countries, I admit, have an Upper House and when most countries have there must be some necessity for them or they must perform some useful function. We have reached the last stages of deciding how we are to elect that House. That is the subject we are on to-day and this House has almost decided that fact. At the same time it is possible that we may be able to create perhaps some doubts in the minds of the Opposition. Those doubts may develop or materialise for some other occasion. That is the only hope that I can express at the present moment. I consider that the decision has almost been arrived at. At the same time it is good that we should take a little time and I hope that the Opposition does not consider that I am trying to kill the time or to obstruct. It is not so. I believe that it is good, right and proper that time be given for serious consideration of this problem, in order that at a future date the friction that has occurred between these two Houses in other countries will not occur here, and in order that, as near as possible, the control or the discretion of the Upper House will be clearly defined and that in the election the people will have the power to elect a Seanad which will be in sympathy with the national outlook in this country, and not a Seanad which through no fault of their own—perhaps through the fault of birth, surroundings or other circumstances—is seriously and really opposed to any national development in this country or any development on its own in the way of complete independence.
I know it is difficult for those people to have any other outlook. I gave the reasons for this. There is the question of birth and other things. They certainly have an excuse, but it must be our duty to see, as far as possible, that they will not wield any undue power, that they will not be in a position to prevent the proper development of this country along national lines. I believe that the Irish people themselves  have the individuality, the character, the determination and the ability to develop this country to as high a degree as any country in the world. But we must be careful in selecting individuals who will not be inclined for any reason whatsoever to develop this country along lines which are not in sympathy with or which are not agreeable to the national aspirations of this country. There is the danger that we on these benches anyway have tried to avert. We have come to the opinion that along certain lines of election we can prevent that particular state of affairs. That certainly is not a fault. It is a natural, healthy opposition and it is, I believe, the opinion in general of the majority of the Irish people. They feel that they have been long enough under the control of elements that were foreign to this country, elements who used every influence and every power that they possessed to divert the energies and the wealth of this country to the use and benefit of the countries to which they were allied, in sympathies and perhaps in birth. As I said before we cannot blame them. It is birth and other things that compel them to do that. It is simply their opinion, but as we here in this country are in the majority our business is to use all the powers that we possess to get in control in this country those who have a distinctly national outlook and who will see that all benefits that may be brought about, all industrial developments, will be used purely and simply for the benefit of this country.
Mr. KENNEDY: With reference to this Bill, the worst part of it, as far as I can see, is its undemocratic form and the method in which it proposes to elect this Seanad. The two Houses consist of 153 members of the Dáil and 63 members of the Seanad, and assuming that there are nineteen Senators to be elected this gives those who are opposed to Fianna Fáil in this House the power to elect eight and the Seanad to elect five. That is a total of thirteen out of nineteen, and that is altogether out of proportion to public feeling in the country as represented by popularly elected bodies such as this House. But the most undemocratic  form of this Bill and the most unheard of and unprecedented form is that the retiring Senators are allowed to elect themselves. It has been contended, I think by Deputy Professor Tierney in a previous debate on this Bill, that ultimately by a process of fractions a desirable Seanad would be got, by a process of fractions, all right, but not in this century. In this Bill it said the place and conduct of such election shall be regulated by law. It does not define how or whether the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad or the Ceann Comhairle shall preside, and in either case whether the Ceann Comhairle or the Cathaoirleach shall have a vote in this election or whether they shall both have a vote. Then this Bill in upsetting popular election does, to my mind, effect a small economy, but its economy is not noticeable because it gives a power of election to these reactionary forces, and it is our belief on these benches that these reactionary forces in the Seanad which, under the Constitution Amendment Bills which are before the Dáil, have got extra powers. The detriment which they have worked to national progress heretofore will be continued indefinitely as far as this Government can help it. We should deliberate very slowly on these Bills and not rush them through because it may be a temporary political gain to get these Bills through. You may score on Fianna Fáil for the time being, but you are heading where you cannot see. You are going back in a reactionary fashion. The power of election you give to the present Seanad, which is unnational and anti-Irish in its outlook, which never did any work which could be termed of a progressive nature as far as this portion of Ireland is concerned, which it is not entitled to, will be a retard on progress. That Seanad, as presently constituted, could be, if the right spirit were there, the greatest force in this country for the unity of the two broken pieces of Ireland. But that Seanad has not given any indication whatever that it stands for such a thing, and the very foundation for the thought that nominated originally those Senators, assuming that the President's argument was right that there  was no intimidation from the Crown, and that these nominations were not directly or indirectly from the Crown, and that the idea of Griffith that by a process of friendship and a process of privileges these people would be brought into the national life, that they would lead a national life, and ultimately would be a lever to bring about the unity of North and South, we see now was a mistaken idea. These people never change, and the more one tries to placate them the more they snarl and bite. It is time that they should just get the ordinary rights of citizens in the Twenty-Six Counties and not get any of the privileges which this Bill gives to them. Let them get their ordinary democratic rights of election in due proportion and, in getting those, they would be getting a much greater advantage than is given to our compatriots in the area in which the co-religionists and co-politicians of these people hold sway. In that way only will these people come, if they ever do come, into the national life. In this Bill it is proposed that at the Seanad election “the electors shall be the members of Dáil Eireann and the members of Seanad Eireann voting together on the principle of proportional representation.” Members of Dáil Eireann voting together on principles of proportional representation represent the elected will of the people of the 26 Counties, but members of Seanad Eireann represent nobody but themselves. Yet they are given undue powers and, in regard to the nineteen Senators who were elected by popular vote, we find that not more than 25 per cent. of the electors voted in that election. It is, indeed, questionable how many of the votes cast at that election were valid. These people are now to be given power under this Bill to re-elect themselves perpetually, so far as the promoters and originators of this Bill are concerned and so far as the Senators themselves can help to do it.
The Bill says: “The voting at such elections shall be by secret ballot and no elector may exercise more than one vote thereat.” The vote at such election shall be by secret ballot. Why? Are the Executive Council afraid to  show their hands in this election? Are they afraid, after what has been pointed out here and what has been said in their own official organ, that they will have openly to show their hands against those people whom I am criticising? They do not want to do that. If not, why the secret ballot? Deputy O'Hanlon asked how you can have an election under proportional representation without a secret ballot. It is very easy to answer that. You can have an election under proportional representation by taking the figures of the various Parties in this House and allocating the proportion of seats they are entitled to fill, and let them between themselves put a panel forward and be automatically elected. That is a more democratic form, as it shows whom you are putting up and standing over. You have not the secret canvassing and secret arrangements which you will have under the secret ballot provided in the Bill. “The place and conduct of such election shall be regulated by law.” Here and now is the time to say where the place of such election shall be and what the conduct of such election shall be. this is one of a series of Bills which is being rushed in whirlwind fashion through the Dáil in order to score off Fianna Fáil. It is actuated by spiteful motives and by a desire for temporary political gain, but there is an old saying, “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”
Mr. CORRY: I would like to re-echo the views expressed by Deputy Dr. O'Dowd. I do not wish to appeal here to those who have done their utmost from 1916 to 1922 to prevent the people of Ireland getting any shape or form of freedom and who were elected to the Seanad by the forces of West Britonism. I regret to say that very few of those to whom I wish to appeal are present. The Minister for Justice laughs, but he is not one of those to whom I wish to appeal.
Mr. CORRY: I know it would be useless to do so, but when I see this sixth stepping-stone to a Republic, this sixth  move on the part of freedom to obtain freedom, I am anxious to appeal to those who believe in that and who, when they voted for the Treaty voted for it under the impression that they were voting for freedom to obtain freedom, and that they intended, by easy stages, to attain the absolute independence of this nation. I would wish to appeal to them before they pass this Bill, which is going to hang around the necks of the Irish people a millstone in the form of those forces who were out openly and definitely against them when they were attempting to gain a measure of independence, but who are now, moryah, their best friends because they are assisting to bring about measures against which they fought from 1916 to 1922. It is for that reason I would wish to appeal to Deputies here who were members of Sinn Fein and members of the I.R.A. from 1916 to 1922 to put an end now to this thing which is not a stepping-stone to freedom, but which is a stepping-stone to slavery, and to worse than slavery. Surely to goodness you have seen enough and have felt enough of what these people would do to you if they could during the Tan regime in this country, but you now wish to restore to them all the power they have lost. When I read over this Bill—I am glad the Minister for Justice is not asleep; I was afraid I would have to wake him a while ago—and when I see here that the Seanad has to be elected by themselves, and when we remember that there are 63 fossils up there——
Mr. CORRY: If there are only 60, so much the better. I wish there were none. I would be very glad if there were none. But when we think of those 60 gentlemen coming solemnly together, and when we realise that out of 19 of them who are going to retire six are definitely going to be kept there, surely nothing more ridiculous could be imagined. When we remember that one of those gentlemen,  when he went before the electors even in his own town, only got 55 votes, and that that gentleman is going to come in here and represent the people of Ireland, or the people of this piece of an island that was once Ireland, it is, to say the least of it, disgusting. It is enough to make even those of us who were luke-warm in the cause from 1916 to 1922 hesitate before we walk into the Lobby to vote for the continued slavery of the Irish people, because that is what it means. If the Government did not realise that the people are sick of that, that the people have decided definitely on the first opportunity to get rid of them, they would have hesitated before putting through constitutional amendment after constitutional amendment, each amendment having the definite intention of putting into power here, when they clear out, a Second Chamber which will be there to carry out the wishes, not of the Irish people, but the wishes of the British Government across the water.
Deputy Kennedy stated that the Seanad represented nobody but themselves. I would wish to correct that idea. I know very well whom the Seanad represents. I have no delusions as to whom they represent, for I have a bitter knowledge of whom they represented from 1916 to 1922. When I see here that this election is to be by secret ballot I do not share Deputy Kennedy's view that it is because the members of the Executive Council do not wish to let those people see that they are going to vote against them. I believe the members of the Executive Council would elect the same staunch old Unionists who will see that George is not going to be let down in this country. Nothing more ridiculous than having a second chamber re-electing six of their own members by their own votes alone, can be imagined. There were several comments made here as to electors not voting at the last Seanad election which showed definitely, to my mind at any rate, that the people do not want the Seanad. The people showed that they had no use for the Seanad, that they are not going to put anybody into it if they could. The result was that nobody voted at the last election except a few Jingoes and members of Southern  Unionist Organisations. It was they who elected the last 16 members to that Seanad. Now we are going to have elected to that Seanad 13 of the 19 new members as the representatives of West Britonism in this country. I cannot call it anything else. When we realise that, I wish to make a last appeal to those members here who believed that at the time they were supporting the Treaty they were out to get a stepping stone to the Republic and who believed that the Treaty was going to mean freedom to attain freedom and I ask them even at this last moment to go into the Lobby and vote against this iniquitous measure which is going to elect here in permanency a second Chamber composed of Southern Unionists and disgruntled politicians.
PROINNSIAS O FATHAIGH: Isé mo thuairim go mba cheart gan aon Seanad den tsaghas atá ann a bheith againn, ach ós rud é go bhfuil sé socruithe ag an Rialtas Seanad do bheith ann, sílim fhéin go mb'fhearr gan níos mó na 36 Seanadóirí a bheith ann. B'fhéidir nách mbaineann an cheist sin leis an mBille seo.
D'fhéadfaí an Seanad d'fheabhsú agus d'iarrfainn ar lucht Chumann na nGaedheal féachaint chuige conus mar is féidir é d'fheabhsú. Tá slí amháin in ar féidir é d'fheabhsú anois—tríd an modh toghtha. Ba cheart an togha d'fhágaint fá'n Dáil amháin, mar tá Teachtaí na Dála freagarthach do mhuinntir na tíre—no do chuid aca. Toghadh ag na daoine Teachtaí na Dála agus tá siad freagarthach do na daoine. Cé a déarfaidh go bhfuil na Seanadóirí annsin le “toil na ndaoine”—rud ar a raibh a lán cainnte cúpla blian ó shoin? Mar adubhradh cheana, tá iarla orra agus chuaidh de 25 vótaí d'fháil sa Togha um Rialtas Aitiúil coicís ó shoin. Cé adéarfaidh gur toil na ndaoine, daoine mar sin a bheith ar an Seanad?
Dubhras indé nách raibh mé i gcoinne ceart agus cothrom do thabhairt do lucht an tSeanaid. Níor mhaith liom aon mhí-thuisgint a bheith ann mar gheall ar a ndubhras. Is ceart cothrom na féinne a bheith ag gach Eireannach, is cuma cé'n dream polaitíochta ag a bhfuil baint aige leis.
 Ach, mar a dubhras indé, nílim sásta comhacht a thabhairt do na Seanadóirí a bheith pairteach i dtoghacháin i gcóir an tSeanaid. Nílim sásta comhacht a thabhairt dóibh iad féin d'ath-thogha, daoine nár thaobhuigh ariamh le muinntir na tíre. Tá comhaltaí orra, san tSeanad, a dhein obair mhaith ar son na hEireann. Ach an fíor é sin i dtaobh na mór-choda aca?
Admhuighim gur féidir obair mhaith a dhéanamh taobh amuigh de chogadh agus taobh amuigh de chúrsaí polaitíochta. Ba chóir a aithint gur obair mhaith é obair litríochta, obair cuireadóireachta, obair ealadhan agus eile. Tá cuid de na Seanadóirí agus tá obair mhaith den tsort san déanta aca. Ach cad mar gheall ar a furmhór? Samhluighthear domh-sa go bhfuil na Gaedhil ró-bhog. Ní labhrann siad amach go neamh-spleadach á chur in úil do chách an cuspóir atá againn uile, “Eire saor Gaedhealach,” agus beart do dhéanamh do réir an chuspóra san. Sé sin an cuspóir atá ag furmhór na ndaine ach ní raibh furmhór an tSeanaid ar an dtaobh sin agus níl fós. Dá mbeidís, bheadh a mhalairt de thuairim agam, b'fhéidir, maidir leis an Seanad.
Deirtear linn go bhfuilimíd saor sa Stát so. Ní chreidim sin ach creideann cuid de na Teachtaí é. Iarraim orrasan toil na ndaoine do chur i bhfeidhm agus cuspóir na ndaoine do chur i bhféidhim. Ach is eagal liom go gcuirfear an Bille seo i bhfeidhm d'aindeoin a ndéarfear in a choinnibh, is cuma cé'n argoint a cuirfear os cóir na Dála so.
Achuingím ar na Teachtaí uile an vótáil do dhéanamh os árd i dtogha an tSeanaid. Ní thuigim cé'n fáth go ndéanfaí ós íseal é. Nar chóir go mbeadh de mhisneach againn go léir a thaisbeáint do mhuinntir na tíre, agus don phobal Shaelach go sonnrách, cé'n fáth go bhfuilimíd ag tabhairt ar vótaí do dhaoine áirithe?
Mar a dubhras cheana, ní ceart an comhacht so do thabhairt don tSeanad chun iad féin do thogha. Dá gcúirfeadh siad in úil dúinn go bhfuil siad ar thaobh náisiúntachta no go bhfuil siad i bhfábhar Gaedhealachais, b'fhéidir go mbeadh a mhalairt de thuairim agam mar gheall ar an Tigh  eile. Ach, do réir mar thuigim an scéal, tá an furmhór aca chó láidir agus chó dian in aghaidh náisiúntachta agus in aghaidh Gaedhealachais agus a bhíodar 20 bliain ó shoin. Má's ceart é, toil na ndaoine do chur i bhfeidhm, ba cheart comhacht do thabhairt do na daoine atá i bhfábhar na rudaí seo agus gan comhacht do thabhairt do na daoine atá in a gcoinne. Dhéanfaí a lán maitheasa dá dtiocfadh linn aontú ar an méid sin. Thiocfadh linn cabhrú le chéile. B'fhéidir nách mbeimíd ar aon intinn mar gheall ar chúrsaí polaitíochta ach thiocfadh linn cabhrú le chéile chun cuspóir na ndaoine do chur i bhfeidhm agus gan daoine do chur ar an Seanad atá in aghaidh náisiúntachta agus Gaedhealachais, má tá Seanad le bheith ann. Má's rud é nách raibh ins an Chonnradh acht slí chun saoirse iomlán do bhaint amach, is féidir linn céim ar aghaidh do thabhairt anois. Ach, ní céim ar aghaidh atá san mBille seo ach céim ar gcúl. Táimid ag géilleadh, san mBille seo, do na daoine a bhí i gcoinne náisiúntachta agus nár dhubhairt fós go bhfuil a mhalairt de thuairim aca. Táimíd ag tabhairt comhachta dóibh, Bille a ritheadh ag an Dáil seo do chur ar ath-ló go ceann tamaill fhada, agus comhacht chun chur isteach ar thoil na ndaoine. Iarraim ar lucht leanamhna Chumann na nGaedheal gan comhacht do thabhairt do na Seanadóirí chun bheith páirteach i dtoghacháin i gcóir a dTighe féin agus iarraim orra an Vótáil do dhéanamh ós árd.
Mr. LEMASS: It is with very considerable reluctance that I rise to speak on this Bill on the final Stage. It is only from a very strong and deep sense of indignation at the iniquity of the proposal that is contained in it that I do so at all. Deputy Byrne apparently does not believe me but I can assure him it is true. This Bill has been opposed by our Party at every single Stage which it passed in this House and at every single Stage we endeavoured to convince Deputies opposite that they were doing something for which in a few years they would be ashamed to take responsibility. It is well to remind them even at this Stage just exactly what it is they are proposing to do. There are many Deputies opposite who can look back  upon the history of this country for a much longer period than I can and who can get a grasp of the significance of the developments which took place within this nation in the period of their lives.
For the past fifty years the Irish people have been striving to shake off the grip upon the economic and political life of this country which was maintained and held by the descendants of the Plantation soldiery of Cromwell. For fifty years the Irish people have been trying to make good their authority in this country. For fifty years they have been trying to get into the hands of the Irish people the economic resources of the country. For fifty years they have been trying to drive out of the national life of Ireland that alien element which was introduced into it by a foreign government and given an unnatural degree of authority. And now at the end of that period and after half a century of struggle during which every conceivable means were used by the Irish people to bring success to their cause—means constitutional and unconstitutional, means vigorous and means timorous, means, some of which failed and some of which were successful—after fifty years of such struggle we have a House of representatives, declaring themselves to be representatives of the Irish people proposing to give back into the hands of that privileged clique the power which the Irish people were endeavouring to take from them. Let Deputies have no doubt as to what they are doing. They will hear many big and high sounding phrases spoken in connection with these Bills but I ask Deputies to read these Bills for themselves and to grasp their significance. The significance of this Bill is to ensure that real authority and real power in this State will be given to that privileged and selected class who have always been and always will be opposed to the interests of the Irish nation.
The purpose of this Bill is to block up every channel by which the aspirations of the Irish people can secure representation in that Second Chamber of the Oireachtas; to block up every means by which the Irish people can make their will effective in respect of  that Chamber. By Section 1 of the Bill popular election to the Seanad is abolished. The idea of election by the Dáil is turned down, and instead of that a system is devised with amazing cunning, which is hereby proposed to be enacted, by which that institution will be empowered to ensure that the views of its present majority will always be held by the majority there, and that those who were nominated in the first instance to that House will be able by this enactment to reproduce themselves. That is the purpose of this Bill, not to regularise or implement the Constitution, not to implement the will of the Irish people, but to ensure that the privileged class at present entrenched in the Seanad will be able to hold their position there against any attack directed against them by the plain people in this country.
I would like to ask some of the Deputies opposite if they ever thought in their younger days that they would find themselves at this time of their lives sponsoring such a measure as this. Deputy Timothy Sheehy fought the landlord class in the County Cork.
Mr. LEMASS: I think the methods of the Deputy were at times, shall I say, unconstitutional. He certainly did his period in Limerick Jail with other good men in those days. Did he ever think he would be sitting in a House of Irish representatives voting to put in a position of permanent power the men who were the backbone of the landlord class he was fighting on that occasion? The Minister for Local Government, I suppose——
Mr. LEMASS: The Minister for Local Government is so concerned with the affairs of to-day that he has completely forgotten the nobler and finer sentiments of years ago. The Minister for Agriculture never had any nobler or finer sentiments.
Mr. LEMASS: There are some Deputies opposite who are probably as good representatives of the landlord mentality as any person at present in the Seanad, or ever likely to be in it. But there are some who once were not ashamed to call themselves Nationalists, even if they were not proud of it. Perhaps Deputy John Daly will have a few words to say about his hectic youth also, but I certainly do not think there are many of them who ever thought they would see the day that they would be voting for this power to a collection of dukes and earls and British Army pensioners, such as now constitute that Assembly, and who are likely to constitute it for a considerable number of years to come. We must consider this Bill in relation to the other Bills that accompany it, and in relation in particular to the other Bill that will be considered after this Bill is disposed of. We are not merely altering the method of election and insuring that the will of the Irish people can have no effect in regard to that Assembly, and giving them power to reproduce themselves, but we are doubling their power to interfere with the acts of the people's representatives. That is the effect of this legislation. The Government are preparing against the evil day when the Irish people will realise exactly the game that is being played with them and give them notice to quit. They are preparing against that day. They do not care what happens to the Government that comes after them. That Government will have to stand up to the Seanad, will have to break the power of the Seanad, if it wants to effect any useful legislation. That does not concern  the President and the Government. Like Louis XVI., I think it was, on an equally historic occasion, they say: “After me the deluge.”
Mr. LEMASS: Was it Louis XIV? It certainly was not King Paddy. The Government is endeavouring to provide the system of government here, which it, in common with that old Unionist section, stands to maintain, will continue, no matter what the Irish people may decide, in respect to this particular House. It is not merely likely, but probable, that the next election will result in a majority of a different calibre being in this House than is now in it, and it is to provide for that eventuality that the Government is establishing in a position of authority, in a position which it hopes to make impregnable, the reactionary conservative section to impede and hold up the measures of their successors.
This Bill will, no doubt, pass. The Deputies who voted for it before will crowd into the Division Lobbies and vote for it again when the bell rings, irrespective of what arguments have been advanced against it. It will then go to the Seanad, and there is no doubt that the Seanad will pass it. As we have pointed out before, the Seanad in this matter, in consequence of the inactivity, or, as one Deputy called it, the laziness of the Government, is in a position to dictate its own terms. This Bill proposes to alter the method of election to the Seanad, but if the Seanad choose not to like the method of election provided for here, they can hold up the Bill until the period during which the election under the old system must take place has elapsed. They can take their choice: either they will accept the Bill or they will have an election under the old system. There is no machinery in the power of the Dáil to force them to adopt this  if they prefer the other. It was part of the bargain. I suppose the President will call it a good bargain. Now that we have become so anxious about the dignity of the House, we cannot use words of doubtful significance.
Mr. LEMASS: No. The Bill, as I said, is one which must be considered in relation to the others which accompany it. The powers of the Seanad are being increased. The power to interfere directly with the legislation passed by this House is being increased in point of time. Certain powers which were of no use to them and which they failed to avail of have been taken from them and the method of election has been altered. I ask Deputies opposite to consider what the position of the governmental machine will be after all these Bills become Acts, to consider the Irish people governed by institutions which will then exist and unable to alter these institutions, unable to effect the repairs which will become obviously necessary after these institutions will be working for a short period with vested interests established to interfere with the rights of the Irish people to make laws on their own behalf. It is perhaps too late to appeal to Deputies on the other side to realise that we could get on much better, more effectively and much more cheaply without any Seanad at all. If there is to be any reconsideration of the position in relation to that body it should be to ask ourselves the question whether or not we can afford to spend £50,000 in order to enjoy the luxury of possessing it. Go and ask the people of your constituency, many of whom are unemployed and hungry at this moment, are they prepared to spend £50,000 of the Irish people's money in order to maintain that institution. Ask them are they prepared to give to that body those additional powers which it is proposed to give them by this Bill. There is no use for us to taunt the Government, as we did before, to get an expression of the people's will on this Bill. The Government come here under the pretence that they are acting in consequence  of some mandate that they received at the last election, but they dare not go to the people and by Referendum or any other method get the people to say whether or not they want these Bills. They dare not face the people on the single issue as to whether or not there should be a Seanad.
Mr. LEMASS: I agree. The only other matter I will refer to before I conclude is a matter that I referred to on the Report Stage of this Bill. That is the method by which the Seanad is to be elected by ballot. It is decidedly objectionable that there should be in this House, an election carried out by the people's representatives by a secret ballot and in secrecy. It is decidedly objectionable that Deputies here, when voting for representatives for the Second Chamber, should do so by secret ballot. If it is not contemplated that some Deputies will be ashamed to stand over the action which they have taken in the Seanad election, then there is no reason whatever why every Deputy when voting should not sign his name at the foot of the ballot paper and leave it open for inspection. Certainly Deputies on this side of the House, if they take any part in that election, will have no hesitation in telling their constituents whom they are voting for and why. There must be some reason, that has not been advanced yet here, why members of the Government Party are anxious to conceal the action they will take on that occasion. I hope that some reason will be advanced to justify that method of voting. I hope that some member of the Government will explain to us the arguments which had convinced them that a secret ballot was necessary. Such reasons have not been given to us yet. The only other point in the Bill to which I have a decided objection is the title of the Bill. The title of the Bill should be briefly recited as the reductio ad absurdum Bill or Act.
The PRESIDENT: This is the Fifth Stage of this Bill, and we have heard  practically all the arguments that were made use of during the whole of the Report Stage of this Bill repeated now. Amongst others we have the allegation about consolidating the imperialistic section of the nation and so on, the landlord class, the descendants of Cromwell. I do not know if Deputies opposite have ever read of Davis, or if they have ever heard of Griffith, that they still make use of these terms. Now what do they mean by these terms? What is a patriot? What is patriotism? They evade that issue. They talk occasionally about nationalism without indicating what is their conception of nationality. They assume to themselves the term, depicting in their own minds what is the real idealistic meaning of patriot, and what is the meaning of nationality. What is nationality? What is the idea of a nationalist assembly?
The PRESIDENT: I think an opportunity has been afforded to Deputies of doing that up to this, but they have not done so. They spoke as if they were the repositories of nationalism. Practically every sentence they uttered, and practically every expression they used shows completely to any person, even though he be not a student of politics at all, that they have no conception of the term “Nationalist.” They have no conception of the great national heroes we had in this country, and the great national authorities upon patriotism. The narrow, bigoted, useless and peculiar form that they have adopted, by using such terms, is detracting from their own country, and is out of date. It served its purpose in its own day. There was a time when one was anxious to mobilise the entire forces of the nation.
The PRESIDENT: I would say that it is not; I would say that there is time to mobilise these forces, but not on any narrow issues, not with a view to considering only the interests of a section in the country, and certainly not with  a view to enthroning incompetency in place of existing orders.
The PRESIDENT: If there is to be a change let it be for the better. If I were in the Deputies' place opposite it would not appal me to see a majority in the Seanad opposed to us. It would not appal me at all. I have seen those things before, and I have seen them pass away. I have seen a better conception of nationality developed in this country in the last few years than many people before me had ever hoped for or anticipated. What are the facts? The facts are that in the Seanad nominations which took place six years ago there were two people of those who were present at the first Sinn Féin Convention in this country in 1905 There is not one Deputy on the Benches opposite who was present there.
The PRESIDENT: The Deputy was old enough to have been there, but apparently at that time his national eyes were not open; they have been opened since. There are other people in the Seanad whose claims to be regarded as industrialists are superior to the claims of any of the Deputies in the Party opposite. There are people there who, when this country required money and when national loans were needed, did all that in them lay to establish the credit of the country.
The PRESIDENT: Yes, and no other country in Europe has borrowed at a cheaper price, Great Britain excepted. The Deputy is certainly an adept at shoving in something to put me off my stride. But I would suggest to Deputies opposite to consider one thing in their own interests. They want to get rid of this Government. That is their main objective in public life. That is the one obstacle, but the alternative is deplorable. No man of sense in the country would care to take the alternative position to-morrow. “Get rid of those fellows,” but the ordinary man would say: “What is the alternative?” The very arguments that have been adduced in opposition to these measures, those very arguments are sufficient to keep any sensible man from voting for a change. “That the election to the Seanad by direct vote of the people is undesirable.” That is something that Deputies opposite would like to take from the records of this House.
The PRESIDENT: If I were taking up the same line as the Deputies opposite in opposition to this Bill I would not like to be responsible for what I have just quoted. I wonder have the Deputies opposite considered the election of a Second Chamber in any other country? Within the past few weeks I had a visit from an American judge who had a letter of introduction from a friend and supporter of the Party opposite. He told me that our proposals in connection with the Seanad were sound and to stick to them.
The PRESIDENT: He had only come in here for a few moments during the discussion of one of these Bills. That happens to be the opinion of an outsider. The Deputies opposite concern themselves in most of these things first with an attitude of opposition to the Government. I would advise them to put the Government out of their minds and just for a moment consider what their position would be if they were themselves faced with the problem of getting a body of this sort— getting a Seanad. What is the problem that we have to deal with? For something like fifty years a contest has gone on in this country in connection with land. There were two parties to it. It happened, as in connection with  many other contests of the same sort, that issues were introduced which divided the people of the country. Adherence went to one side that would not naturally fall to that side and adherence went to the other side which would not naturally fall to it. All that is over and done with. Those people who are now in the Seanad are of the people in this country. They ought to be mobilised in connection with any national advancement that is needed. During the past few years certain measures have gone from this House, measures introduced by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture who. whatever his political opinion may be, will at least get credit for the fact that he had a forward and a sensible agricultural policy. He informed me that every one of these measures was strengthened and improved in the Seanad. Yesterday I observed quite a number of Deputies from the benches opposite making their way to the Seanad.
The PRESIDENT: For what purpose did they go there? Do people go to an institution they despise in order to provide themselves with arguments for its destruction? Not at all. The attraction, to my mind, was admiration. Even the discussion on one of the Bills there yesterday could well be taken as a headline. I say that if we had the same class of discussion on the measure in this House as took place there, it would be for the better of this House. The Bill was discussed in the Seanad outside of all Party affiliations, Party attachments and Party prejudices. Let no one imagine for a moment that the accumulation of wisdom is in any Party. This country, like every other country, requires the help of all its citizens, and it does not come within the competence of any one section of the community to pour odium or contumely on any other section. Each and every one of us is a necessary part of the existence of the State, and Deputies should consider that the very fact of these people being willing to come in and help and give their aid in the moulding of our legislation is a big step forward.
The PRESIDENT: Supposing I were to examine that particular statement and examine it in relation to the Deputy's adherents in this House, what is the position? Let us assume for a moment that they have no right to vote—the whole of the Seanad has no right to vote. The Deputy's Party would be responsible for the election of seven and a half Senators. If, on the other hand, the members of the Seanad as they are at the present moment were included in the personnel, the numbers would be 5.2 per cent., so that would mean a loss in representation of one and three quarters.
The PRESIDENT: Certainly not, but the Deputy can understand that it might influence some other person in  the election of a Senator. I will make it even money if the Deputy likes. The fact of the matter is that it is in respect of a loss of two that we have been deluged with speeches for two hours. Deputies on the opposite benches have laboured under extraordinary difficulties and Deputy Lemass took unto himself the shroud of every great orator of the past in order to impress Deputies on these benches with the awful consequences that will flow from the loss of two Senators by reason of the difference between his method of election and ours.
Might I say to Deputies opposite that there is one representative in the Seanad who was responsible for a very patriotic action in this country as far back as 1917, although at that time he occupied a position in the British Army? The Party opposite is not free from affiliations with the British Army either, if my information be correct. Mere attachment to a particular Party does not by any means designate patriotism. In this matter, as in other matters, I would advise Deputies to broaden their minds and their outlook, to get truer conceptions of nationality and patriotism than have been given expression to in this House. I would ask them to realise that the best interests of the country are not going to be served by the particular type of speeches that we have listened to on these and on other measures.
|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. John Hennigan.
Patrick Hogan (Galway).
Patrick Michael Kelly.
Hugh Alexander Law.
Arthur Patrick Mathews.
Michael Og McFadden.
Joseph W. Mongan.
James E. Murphy.
James Sproule Myles.
Martin Michael Nally.
John Thomas Nolan.
James N. Dolan.
Peadar Seán Doyle.
Edmund John Duggan.
Barry M. Egan.
Osmond Thos. Grattan Esmonde.
Denis J. Gorey.
John J. Hassett.
Michael R. Heffernan.
Thomas Hennessy. Bartholomew O'Connor.
Timothy Joseph O'Donovan.
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.
Martin John Corry.
Fred Hugh Crowley.
Eamon de Valera.
Patrick J. Gorry.
Patrick Hogan (Clare).
|Michael Joseph Kennedy.
William R. Kent.
James Joseph Killane.
Seán F. Lemass.
Patrick John Little.
Timothy Joseph Murphy.
Thomas J. O'Connell.
Patrick Joseph O'Dowd.
John F. O'Hanlon.
Thomas P. Powell.
Timothy Sheehy (Tipperary).
Francis C. Ward.
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