Thursday, 22 May 1930
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. O'Kelly: I do not know that it is necessary to say very much with regard to this Bill before it passes out of our control. It is a very different Bill from the one that was introduced here. I will not say every section, but most of the  sections in it as originally introduced have been materially altered, so much so that the Bill that we are now asked to give a Fifth Reading to is a very different measure and a better measure in many respects. Even though it has been improved as a result of the severe criticism that the original Bill met with from all sides of the House, and though the Minister was constrained to bow to that criticism and to bring in shoals of amendments, nevertheless we are not satisfied with the Bill that is now before us; we are not satisfied that we would be prepared to vote for it as a satisfactory measure. Even though the Minister has met many of the criticisms, there are still points in the Bill that make it an undesirable Bill and one that I could not vote for.
One of these principal sections— one of the principles embodied in the Bill—is the section that deals with the commercial register. The idea of embodying, I will not say a new principle, because it is not a new principle but a revival of an old principle, in the Bill, is such a reactionary proposition to have enshrined in a Bill in these days one might say of progressive democracy as to be a strange one. It means that those who have been talking now for quite a number of years about trusting the people, bowing to the will of the people and endeavouring to carry out the wishes of the majority of the people, as a Government, in so far as the ordinary citizens of Dublin are concerned do not trust the people with the management of their own affairs. When they raise up a class, when they raise up a section, and that section happens to be the wealthiest section of the community, and give them an undue voice in the control and management of the city's affairs, they do not trust the people. The idea enshrined in a commercial register is one that, to my mind, should not be in the Bill. It is one that is the antithesis of democratic rule. It is giving into the hands of a minority a power and control that they ought not to have and that will not, in my humble judgment, make for the  better government of the City. The City's affairs, in so far as these people are being given special powers by the number of votes they are being given—in some cases as many as six or seven votes is given to one individual—will not be adequately looked after. What will be looked after are the interests of a class and the interests of wealthy people and not the interests of the city as a whole. That is what the extra power given by the Ministry under this Bill is endeavouring to secure. It is the introduction of a principle that will, in my opinion, have far-reaching effects which will not be for the benefit nor the welfare of the body of common citizens.
That is a grave blot on the Bill. It is an injustice to the City. It is the setting up of a principle that probably will be spread and brought into operation in other municipalities inside the Twenty-six Counties. As such, we certainly are hostile to it and we will use whatever influence or votes we have in this House or outside it to defeat it. As long as that principle is enshrined in this Bill we certainly cannot be satisfied with it and we will use every opportunity of voting against it. It is not any harm to repeat what was said here before—this principle is giving control of the city into the hands of the men with the big bank balances. It is only natural that legislation of that kind would come from the Ministry opposite. After all, they have to remember those who put them in power and who are keeping them in power. If they do not march to the tune of the big bank balances they will not be very long in power. It is, therefore, easy to understand why legislation including and embodying such undemocratic proposals, such reactionary and antiquated proposals, should be contained in this Bill reconstituting the municipality of the City of Dublin.
As I said earlier, we object to the Bill on other grounds that we made manifest on the Second Reading. We made manifest some of them at any rate. One of them is the question of the setting up of the  southern coastal borough. In our view, the area included in that borough, so far as the Bill has gone, should have been included within the bounds of the municipality of Dublin. We endeavoured to have our views put into effect and, of course, we were beaten, but so long as that principle of the separate borough is in the Bill, and even if it were only for that reason alone, we regard the Bill as unsatisfactory and will vote against it.
I, personally, am not satisfied that the principle embodied in the suggestion of the City Manager is going to make for improvement in the control of the city or the working of the municipality. I believe that it could and would have been worked just as well under the old arrangement. You have had city managers, three of them, in control now for six years, to this very month, and I do not know that there would be many—there would be some, unquestionably—taking the city as a whole, who, if it were possible to put the question by a referendum or otherwise, would agree that the city has been better managed in the last six years than in any period of six years over a stretch of twenty or thirty years previously under the old City Council. There was one chief man whom, I suppose, you would call the City Manager, who had complete control, so far as the Minister for Local Government could give him control, with no one to criticise him, and with the whole Press at his back because of the nature of his appointment. Because the City Council was wiped out you had the whole Press of the city praising the work of the Commissioners, particularly the Chief Commissioner. I cannot see that they effected any improvement that could not have been effected equally well if the old municipality got the same spoon-feeding from the National Exchequer as the three gentlemen nominated by the Ministry.
General Mulcahy: Does the Deputy suggest that because there were Commissioners running the City of Dublin they ought to be denied the same kind of grant given, say, to Cork in respect of housing, or that, in respect of moneys coming out of the Road Fund they ought to be denied their share of moneys given similarly to any brought or county?
Mr. O'Kelly: I will read the section. It is Section 29—Section 30 in the new form. It says: “The Order dated 20th May, 1924, and made under Section 12 of the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, No. 9 of 1923, whereby the Council of the County Borough of Dublin was dissolved shall remain in force until the appointed day and shall then cease to have effect.”
Mr. O'Kelly: Well, I will put it very shortly, so far as that is concerned. I will not discuss the administration over the last six years if the Chair rules me out, but I want  to express one sentence in passing, and that is, to say that my belief is that if the old municipality got the same spoon-feeding—just to repeat that one sentence—from the National Exchequer that the Commissioners got they could have done better work with the money at their control. I would like to answer the question of the Minister if I were permitted.
Mr. O'Kelly: Very well, I will not attempt to interfere or carry on when the Chair disagrees with me, but that is my belief, that the city has not been better managed and that its work could have been better done under other conditions. Without going into the past, I think I can refer to the Commissioners in this way:- I can say that it is evident that the Ministry had no confidence in these men, that they tried them for six years and found them wanting. Were there ever men who got better opportunities?
Mr. O'Kelly: Certainly. The city manager is mentioned in the Bill and not one of the gentlemen who got unique opportunities for six years to prove themselves worthy of the post of City Manager was appointed. They had to pass over the three of them.
Mr. O'Kelly: Well, it is set out in the Bill, I think in Section 38, that  Gerald Sherlock is to be appointed City Manager, and I will leave the inference to the House. Why was not somebody else appointed, somebody who perhaps had greater opportunities for control than the gentleman who is named in the Bill? I am sure that the Ministry searched to find somebody. Probably they searched their own Department. They lit, however, upon a gentleman I have known for a long time. I am sure that if anybody will try hard to be a success in that office he will try hard and be conscientious. I know, however, that wires were pulled and that people who thought that they had great influence and that they were pets with the Department, pulled all the wires they could to get the appointment which was given to Gerald Sherlock—people who were petted and patted on the back and who were told that they were the greatest men in local government for generations. So the daily Press used to say, and so used the Minister, but when the appointment came to be made not one of them was appointed. The Ministry had to go back to an official who had been in the service of the old Dublin Corporation, a good official, and they had to pass over all their own pets, who had previously been appointed without knowledge and experience, at good salaries to do work which citizens were prepared to do for nothing. All the pets and marionettes were dropped, and an old official of the Dublin Corporation had to be called into service. That is worthy of comment, anyway. There are other reasons why, in my opinion, this Bill should not pass, but I will not bother the House with them now. Those are just one or two of the comments which I wished to make, and I hope that the boosters in the daily Press of the marionettes of the Custom House, who had been appointed by the Ministry to run the city, will remember what the Ministry thought of them when it came to the appointment of a City Manager.
Mr. Lemass: Before the Minister concludes I would like to say a few  words to the House in support of Deputy O'Kelly's proposition that the Bill should be rejected on the Fifth Stage. It is the last opportunity the Dáil will have of examining the proposals for the future local government of Dublin. Although the Bill has been improved in this House, it is, in my opinion, not sufficiently good to justify its passage now. We have examined the Bill in great detail during the past three or four weeks. It will be a good thing to stand back from it now and look at the result of our work to see if we have improved it sufficiently to justify its adoption. This Bill was a very dirty little orphan when the Minister for Local Government introduced it to the House, and although we have washed its face, wiped its nose and curled its hair, I do not think we have sufficiently improved its appearance to make us very anxious to adopt it. Undoubtedly as a result of the amendments which have been forced into the Bill by the Dáil, it now contains what it did not contain when the Minister first produced it—a workable system of municipal government. That improvement has been mainly effected by giving the Council increased powers of control over the Manager. The Bill, however, still contains a number of anomalies which will, I am convinced, necessitate a revising Bill after a very few years' experience of its working. It is very undesirable that the statute on which the government of the capital city of Ireland is based should have to be amended at all, much less amended as frequently as this statute, I am convinced, will have to be amended if the Bill passes this stage.
The system of managerial control which it embodies, although sound in theory, has been so applied as to prove almost unworkable in practice. I know that the Minister for Local Government is not open to conviction in this matter. He was not open to conviction on the Cork Bill either. He forced the Cork City Management Bill through the Dáil by the  use of his automatic majority, and within twelve months every prediction which we made was proved to be accurate. He went down to meet the Cork City Council to consider how he might concede to them the additional powers that would make local government in Cork possible. He met the Cork City Council and came back and told us that he had arrived at an agreement with the members of the Council and that in future everything would be well.
I was interested, however, to read in the Press the other day a comment on the actions of the Manager by a member of the Council. I am not quoting a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. I am quoting a respectable member of the Business Party, but I apologise for the language. Mr. Braham Sutton was elected in the interests of the business community. He is one of the class whom the Minister is anxious to get elected on municipal councils. He is a person well known in Cork for his moderate views. When that type of public representative speaks strongly on any matter you can take it that the matter is one likely to arouse strong feelings everywhere. “Are we to be treated like a lot of school children in a way that practically means to tell us to go to hell?” He was referring to the Manager of the Council.
General Mulcahy: The phrase strikes me as remarkably like one I read in the “Cork Examiner” of yesterday. I would suggest not exactly that the Deputy is taking this statement from its context, but  that other Deputies should read the very enlightened discussion that is reported in the “Cork Examiner” of yesterday.
Mr. Lemass: I have no doubt that any discussion at the Cork City Council would be an enlightened discussion. Mr. Braham Sutton continued to say that the Manager spoke to them in this manner in effect: “Amend your bye-laws and in the meantime I will do as I like, and be damned to you.” I want to apologise for the language used by this member of the Business Party.
Mr. Lemass: No, it is the language of Mr. Braham Sutton, P.C. When a business representative on the Cork Municipal Council was so aroused by the attitude of the Manager to the Council it can be taken for granted that there is universal dissatisfaction with the local government machinery which the Minister has established in Cork, and which he now assures us is going to work well. The Minister was much more positive about the Cork City Bill than about the Dublin Bill. He is beginning to realise that he sometimes makes mistakes, that he or his Department is not always infallible. In so far as we have succeeded in driving a wedge, however thin, into the hitherto invulnerable armour of, shall I say, his self-conceit, we have done well on this Bill. Perhaps we may yet induce the Minister to realise that persons with much greater experience of municipal government than either he or I have had must be taken seriously when they express views concerning Bills of this kind very contrary to his own.
The Minister appeared to treat all these people with contempt. He swept their notions aside as being old-fashioned and out of date, because they were not in accord with his own enlightened ideas. That was his attitude when the Cork City Bill was being discussed here. He opposed as vigorously as he could every amendment to that Bill which  Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party endeavoured to insert in it. He has now found out in relation to many of the matters then discussed that we were in the right and that he was in the wrong. I am certain he will have a similar experience in relation to the Greater Dublin Bill. I still believe the Minister should have come to the consideration of the powers of the Manager with a view to defining the powers of the Manager and not the powers of the Council. By the procedure he has adopted of reserving certain powers to the Council, and giving all other power to the Manager, he has put the Manager in a position of definite superiority to the Council. He has defended that with arguments which have no relation to it. He has talked about the possibility of corruption, the undesirability of elected representatives dealing with promotions, the appointment of staff, and the awarding of contracts. If his purpose was merely to ensure that administrative duties of that kind would be in the hands of a skilled officer appointed for the purpose he should have stated so in the Bill. A section could have appeared in it assigning the following powers to the Manager: (a) The promotion, appointment or removal of staff; (b) the regulation of the duties of the staff; (c) the awarding of contracts; (d) other matters of the same kind, and all other powers reserved to the elected representatives of the people. The Manager should have been made definitely subordinate to the Council, in so far as all these matters are concerned, and except those are definitely reserved to the Manager by the Bill, the Council should be able to order him to do what they liked.
We argued the merits of democracy on the Second Reading, and certain Deputies appeared to think that the utility of democracy had long since expired. I am not saying —I do not say now, and I never did say—that democracy was a perfect system of government. As some one put it very wittily the other day: “When all is said and done there is much more said than done.” At all  events, it is the best system which has yet been devised, and I think we would be well advised to stick to it until something better has been produced. Nothing better has yet been produced. Democratic control of municipal affairs worked fairly satisfactorily in the past. Things happened that should not have happened; there were mistakes made. The same thing happened under the dictatorial system which has been in operation for the past six years. I say that the democratic system was, in the long run, the system least productive of evil. The Minister, however, has tried to produce a cross between dictatorship and democracy, but he has not succeeded. The result of the passage of this Bill, and the creation of the Municipal Council, will be an immediate struggle between the Manager and the Council for control. I think it is inevitable that from the first day on which the Council will meet there will be in the minds of all the members the necessity of curtailing the powers of the Manager, while, in the mind of the Manager will be the idea of limiting the powers of the Council, and that atmosphere of strife and hostility is going definitely to impair the efficiency of both. If the Council had been put beyond question in a position of superiority over the Manager that danger would not arise. That would necessitate that in a number of matters, such as the appointment of the Manager, the fixing of his salary and things of that kind the Council's decision would prevail.
Apart from the objections to the Bill on the ground of the defective managerial system which it establishes, we are opposed to it on other grounds, some of which have been mentioned by Deputy O'Kelly. We would have preferred in the first instance if the Greater Dublin area as defined by the Greater Dublin Commission had been the area selected for the new Council. It is perhaps unnecessary for us to go back over the arguments which we advanced in that connection on the Second Reading. The Bill has been slightly improved, but only slightly. All the  dangers and defects which we saw arising out of the exclusion of the northern and southern coastal areas are still there, and I have no doubt whatever that when the tribunal, which the Bill now proposes shall be established in five years' time, comes to meet, we will, as a result, have a substantial extension in the boundaries of the city. That extension might as well have been made now, so that when the municipal machinery is being re-established it could be fashioned to deal with the whole area, and not with the limited area given to it in the Bill.
There are other obnoxious features in the Bill, the most obnoxious being that referred to by Deputy O'Kelly, the commercial register. As he stated, the Government policy in relation to this measure is only in line with its policy on all other matters, the policy as defined by the Minister for Finance when he made his Budget statement this year. They are trying to placate the monied classes, and, in order to do so, they are apparently prepared to sacrifice both the interests and the rights of the workers and the poorest sections of the community. The commercial register, and the commercial members of the Council which the Bill provides for, are not merely unnecessary; they are positively harmful. I believe that if the election of the Council had proceeded in the ordinary way, business interests on the Council would be secured representation equally as good as that given to business interests in the Cork Council. The fact that this commercial register has been instituted is very largely an admission on the part of the Minister that the business community in Dublin are not sufficiently interested in municipal affairs to seek election in the ordinary way. Unless the seats can be padded for them, unless the slide into the Council can be greased so that they will not experience the passage, they will not go there at all. We are now going to have the position that some 500 voters will be able to elect one commercial member while it will take about 5,000 voters  to elect an ordinary member. It does not follow that the ordinary member will have ten times the influence of the commercial member. Quite the reverse will probably be the case. Each will have only one vote. About 5,000 ordinary citizens in Dublin are, in the estimation of the Minister for Local Government, only equal to 500 members of the Chamber of Commerce. That is the biggest insult ever offered to the people of Dublin.
On the Report Stage of the Bill I asked the Minister to abolish the Local Government Register in the election of the ordinary members of the Council, and to substitute the Dáil Register. That would have, if adopted, redressed in some way the balance which the Minister had tilted against democracy when he instituted the commercial register. Incidentally, it would have swept away, in respect of the City of Dublin, the last vestige of political inequality between men and women. The Minister was not prepared to agree, and the members of Cumann na nGaedheal voted against it. I was particularly interested to note that the only lady member of the Dáil voted against it. The refusal of the Minister to consider the proposal and the refusal of Cumann na nGaedheal to vote for it was, however, merely in accordance with their general attitude to all questions of the same kind. They are, apparently, determined to establish themselves as the reactionary party. On every occasion in debate some member of that Party is bound to enunciate principles that were considered dead a hundred years ago. We had Deputy O'Sullivan at it yesterday, and we had the Minister for Local Government the previous day. I hope, however, that their power to ensure that these antiquated principles will be translated into legislation will soon be curtailed, and when that happens I can promise the Dáil that a Bill will be introduced and passed here to amend this Bill, if this Bill is now passed. In order to save time, to save money, and to save annoyance I ask the Dáil  to express its dissatisfaction with this Bill by rejecting it.
Mr. Byrne: As one who criticised this Bill rather keenly when it was introduced, I feel that it is my duty to welcome its passage in its present form. We hope that the Corporation that will be set up under it will function for the benefit of the city and for the benefit of the citizens generally. On examining the Bill when it was introduced, I saw some of its defects, but I also saw many of its benefits. I ventured to say, when the Bill was being discussed on Second Reading, that when it would leave the House it would be a very workmanlike and a very serviceable measure. I can now express the opinion that it is a workmanlike measure, and that it will be a useful measure.
The great fault of the Opposition in examining this measure was that it noted all its defects but none of its advantages. Speaking as one who is as much in favour of democracy as any man sitting on the Labour Benches, I welcome one thing which this Bill brings about, and that is the bringing in of the aristocratic areas of Rathmines and Pembroke, for which Deputy Lemass is a representative, within the ambit of Greater Dublin, where they should have been brought many years ago. Under the Bill these aristocratic people in Rathmines and Pembroke will be placed on the same level as the democratic workers in the area of which I am one of the representatives—Gardiner Street, Marlborough Street, and areas of that type.
Mr. Byrne: I understood he represented the South side, and I thought that Rathmines was portion of his constituency. If I am incorrect I will not persist on that point. However, I do say that under the Bill these citizens, who have a very proud tradition behind them, and who always wanted to keep aloof from  the City of Dublin, will be brought in to share the burdens of the ratepayers of the City. They have hitherto shared all the advantages of the city, but they have never shared the burdens that the ratepayers of the city have had to bear. Under this Bill those burdens will have to be shared equally by the aristocrats of Rathmines and Pembroke and by the democrats who live in Gardiner Street and Marlborough Street.
Mr. Byrne: I am in complete agreement with Deputy O'Kelly when he says that this is a totally different Bill from that introduced. It is a much better Bill. It is a Bill that can be made effective and that can be worked in the interests of the city generally when the new Corporation begins to function. I have no doubt that it will be for the benefit of the city, and in the hands of an efficient Corporation that a great deal of good can be done under it.
I regret that the Minister has not seen his way to grant some other things which were asked for. I regret that the control of contracts and that the control of the preference with regard to Irish materials and of materials used for Corporation contracts with regard to Irish manufacture was not given directly into the hands of the Council instead of being given into the hands of the Manager. Of course I do recognise, as the Minister has pointed out, that indirectly the Council will, through the power of the purse, exercise a certain amount of control, but in my opinion that control is not sufficient, and in my opinion such important questions as the preference for Irish materials should not be thrown on the shoulders of one man, but that it is a responsibility that should be shared  by the Council with the Manager, at least in some measure. I also regret that control with regard to the type of houses to be built is not directly placed in the hands of the Council. I have pointed out that hitherto the type of houses built in this city has been such that the ordinary workers could not afford the rents. It might happen that the new Corporation will follow the example of the old in erecting houses of that kind, and if I were a member of the Corporation the first thing I would press for would be the building of houses that the ordinary working man earning fifty or sixty shillings a week could obtain at a reasonable rent.
Mr. Byrne: The Ceann Comhairle may rule that strictly I am not de rigueur, but morally I think I am. Certain powers that we asked should be given to the Council will have to be given in the course of time, I think. As far as the commercial register is concerned, I am not one of those who thinks, as the members of the Opposition do, that this is a retrograde step; I think it is a step in the right direction, and it is a step that, as a business man of the city, I do not fear. I do not think that the small advantage that the commercial men will enjoy in this respect  will possibly act to the detriment of the city. I am one of those who believe in the real fundamentals upon which representation on the City Council and votes in this House ought to be based, and that is the principle of taxation. Nobody can deny that it is axiomatic that where there is no representation there should be no taxation. This class pays about 51 per cent. of the entire rates of the city. They have every right to have a voice in the affairs of the city, and under the Bill they will have a voice—not a very powerful one, but still some voice.
I think that the House should congratulate the Minister upon the wonderful improvement he has made in the Bill. The Bill has been transmogrified. I would like to refer to one section, which gives real control over the Manager to the Council, and that is Section 58. That entitles the Council by requisition to call for the doing of any particular thing or act that the City Manager can perform under the powers given to him. That is a very important control that was not in the Bill when it was introduced. If the Manager wishes to be autocratic, if the Manager wishes to do something that is unpopular with the citizens, if the Manager, in a word, wishes to do things that should not be done, and endeavours to carry out things that are not, in the opinion of the Council, in the interests of the city, the Council will always have, in Section 58, a real controlling influence upon anything that the Manager may do that in their opinion is not in the interests of the city and of the citizens generally. In conclusion, I should like to congratulate the Minister on the wonderful improvement he has made in the Bill, and to wish the new Corporation the greatest possible success.
Mr. Corish: It was far easier to understand the attitude of Deputy Byrne on the Second Reading of the Bill than it was to understand his attitude in the statement he has made to-night. Certainly his criticism on the Second Reading was  as strong as any criticism from any other part of the House. To-night he contented himself with saying the Bill had been altered to such an extent that he wanted to congratulate the Minister and the House generally and hoped the Bill would be given a Fifth Reading. He went on to deal with certain sections of it. So far as one could find out, the only redeeming feature was that Rathmines and Pembroke were to be brought into the City of Dublin. He tried to justify the attitude of the Minister as far as Section 34 is concerned. I hope the people for whom he professes to speak in Gardiner Street and that locality will take notice of the vote he will give to-night.
It is certainly very surprising to me that the Minister for Local Government, who was a very prominent member of the old Sinn Féin Party, should be responsible for including in this Bill a section of that kind. One would not expect it from that quarter. Anything he has said on any stage of the Bill has not justified what he is trying to do. There is no justification whatever for giving any man, no matter what his rating valuation may be, the six votes which a man if he has a certain valuation can secure under this Bill. One man, one vote, has always been advocated by every Party which anyone can remember in this country for a considerable time. Deputy Byrne has just stated that in his opinion a vote should be given on the principle of taxation. After all, if a man is rated at a certain valuation he is paying according to his means. A workingman is entitled to a vote because he is paying according to his means and I cannot see why there should be any differentiation so far as business men and working men are concerned. This proposal is certainly contrary to the essence of democracy and one would not expect it from a young Government such as this. But that is not the worst of it. This particular individual while entitled to six votes will not even have to go to the trouble of going to the polling booth to record his votes—he can record  his votes by post. The unfortunate workingman, who perhaps has not sufficient clothes to enable him to go and vote, has to go to the polling booth to record it, while the person with six votes can recline in his armchair and vote by post. That is a principle I could not subscribe to, and I am going to vote against the Bill if for nothing else but that.
Deputy Byrne, in his Second Reading speech, condemned in all the moods and tenses the control that the Bill gives to the Manager, and I cannot see all the changes that he professes have been brought about since the Bill was introduced, so far as the managerial system is concerned. As the Bill stands, the Manager has been given too much power. The Manager is not the manager of the City Council. He is not a person who appears to be in the employment of the City Council. As far as one can see, he is going to manage the Council, and not the affairs of the Council. I think that is patent to anybody. As Deputy Lemass has pointed out at the beginning it is going to be prejudicial and detrimental to the best interests and proper government of the city, and that is not what one would like to see so far as the government of an important city like Dublin is concerned. There is going to be a perpetual struggle between the Manager and the new City Council as to what the particular duties of each are.
From my experience of local government, I can see no necessity to reserve certain powers to the Manager. The Local Government Department have every power possible to prevent a council from doing things which are improper, and I believe that the Manager about to be appointed in the City of Dublin will have too much power altogether. I do not believe that is going to contribute to the better government of Dublin. The Manager, when he knows he has certain powers given to him by the Ministry, and that he is going to be backed up by the Ministry in certain actions he is going to take, will find himself at  variance with the Council in connection with different matters, and that is not going to tend to the betterment of the city. So far as one can see, the Manager is to be a sort of liaison officer between the Department of Local Government and whatever Council will be set up in Dublin. While most of us agree with the managerial system, I believe its application in this instance is not going to be for the benefit of the city.
Mr. Aiken: I was surprised to hear Deputy Corish say that he was surprised at the Minister introducing this commercial register. There is nothing strange in that. It is fully and completely in keeping with the policy of the Ministry and the Cumann na nGaedheal Party for the past few years. If Deputy Corish would read the “Irish Times” occasionally the reasons would become clearer to him why the Ministry have introduced anti-democratic and anti-national legislation. Recently the “Irish Times,” in its leading article, stated that the policy for which the Independent Members in the Dáil stand has been the social and economic mainstay of the present administration for these last eight years. Deputy Corish should note this: that unless the Government do something for this class they will not go with their tall hats to the garden parties and will not give the Government the funds to scare the rest of the people into voting for them. The policy of the Government has been: do everything that these people stand for; give them six votes to the ordinary man's one. When they give them six votes they get enough funds from them to scare the rest of the people into voting for them by threats of war. If they do not do what the Independent members stand for, as the “Irish Times” said, the worm might turn. The Cumann na nGaedheal Party might be thrown out if they do not toe the line and give these people the control of Dublin City. That is what it amounts to, in fact. It is a most dangerous principle to establish this  commercial register. It is definitely in the City of Dublin putting class against class. If we are going to pull this country out of the mess it is in, we have to have the co-operation of all classes, and we want the help of people who have been running businesses here, just as we want the good will and co-operation of the ordinary working people. But if we are to set up here a special class, which has to be knocked down before we can get any further, it is going to lead to a most unhealthy situation in the country. The business community in Dublin if they are worth their place in the Municipal Council Chamber should be prepared to fight their election and say what they should stand for and ask the people to vote for them, but if they are to be rammed down the people's throats, if the people are compelled to vote for them, if they are told that they must have these people in the council chamber, well then the natural reaction of the people would be to say “We will not have these people,” and if they are forced on the people then the people will take the first opportunity of getting rid of them. That does not lead to healthy co-operation in municipal affairs. I am sorry the Independents have brought pressure upon the Government to set up this commercial register. It is a thing that is bad for the Independents and for the country as a whole.
Mr. O'Connor: I rise to support this stage of the Bill, principally because of the remarks made by Deputy Aiken and Deputy Corish on this commercial register. They say it is undemocratic and that the Minister is not a good Sinn Feiner because he has prepared this commercial register. I claim to be a Sinn Feiner for a great number of years. I also claim that I am a democrat. I have risen from the ranks of Labour, and that entitles me to speak for Labour. I support the commercial register also, because of experience I gained in a local council of which I was chairman for four years. It is because of that and because of the good qualities and  abilities of the men who came from the business community I saw displayed there, that I am in favour of seeing them on the new Dublin Council.
I do not think it is fair for any Deputy to refer to the “Irish Times” or any other element such as that, as having any influence upon us in making up our minds in this matter. They have had no such influence upon me. And as I supported the Minister when he introduced this Bill, so, to-night, when he is attacked on the ground that he is not a good Sinn Feiner and a democrat, I say that in my opinion he is perfectly right in the course he has taken, and he has my entire sympathy. I also rise to assure our friends that we have not run away from any principles that we professed in the past, and that we are to-day as good Irishmen as ever we were, and that we have the love of Dublin and of our country deeply in our hearts, just as much as those who say we have not. I think it is time we got away from that kind of accusation and forgot it. We are sincere in the views we take with regard to this commercial register, and, as I said, having been chairman of a council in Dublin, I know the ability of the men who will be affected by this commercial register, and I shall be very glad to see them in the Council of the City of Dublin to guide its affairs, because I know they will do their best for their class and for the working class.
Mr. Cooney: I do not want to participate in this debate beyond bringing to the notice of the House one extraordinary suggestion made by Deputy Byrne. It is only one of a series of his extraordinary suggestions, but I think it is worthy of special attention. I hope I am not about to misquote him, but I have his words here as I believe he uttered them. In alluding to the commercial register he suggested that this House should be constituted in the same manner as the commercial register would constitute the Dublin Council ——
Mr. Cooney: However, we have Deputy Batt O'Connor coming out courageously in defence of the commercial register. The statement of Deputy Byrne is quite in accord with the ground that is being prepared in the official organ of the Party opposite for the abolition of proportional representation. We may have some measure of that nature introduced in the near future. If that is the only means by which the Government Party believe they can hold on to office, I certainly would not be surprised to see such a Bill introduced.
Mr. Cooney: I would not be surprised to see a Bill introduced on the lines of the speech made by Deputy Byrne, that is a denial of the vote to the ordinary citizen. Why not apply that principle to the constitution of this House if it is to be applied to the administration of local affairs? If a business man has the right to six votes in the constitution of a local administrative assembly which affects more directly, or as much anyhow, the life and conditions of citizens of this State, why not apply it to the National Assembly? Deputy O'Connor, as I say, has come out completely in defence of that, and I only rise to inform the Minister and his Party that I am confident that the people of Dublin, when the opportunity offers, will reject him and his Party, who have hurled at them this deliberate insult and denial of the fundamental rights of the ordinary citizens in this State.
As Deputy Lemass has put it, 500  members of the Chamber of Commerce are considered equal to 5,000 ordinary citizens. The Chamber of Commerce is going to transfer its powers and its influence over to the Mansion House, I presume. That is evidently the object and intention of the Minister, but I can assure him, and Deputies Byrne and O'Connor, that when the citizens of Dublin get the opportunity they will see to it that all is not yet lost despite the power of the marionettes.
General Mulcahy: After the contributions of Deputies O'Kelly, Lemass and Byrne on the general question of the Bill, I can just say that it has been a great privilege for me to have been able to be associated with the Deputies in the framing of this magnificent Bill.
General Mulcahy: The Bill is just like a lot of things that happen—it is a lot better than Deputy O'Kelly really thinks it is. On the general question, I think the Bill is a very sound structure, and that it gives the most satisfactory area for a council to begin in co-operation with the managerial system, the work of looking after the administration of the area covered by the city and the coastal borough. The Bill gives adequate power of extension of that area if extension is necessary. I think the House has been very well advised not to force the extension of the city area to a greater extent than what is proposed in the Bill. On the question of the commercial register, I admit that has to justify itself in time by the type of representatives that will get on the Dublin Council on that register. I feel that we are very happy in our proposals, that in giving representation to rateable property that has not yet been represented in the City Council, although paying its quota of rates, while doing justice in that respect we have at the same time been able by means of the presence of  managers of business on the City Council to integrate the business side of the city—the business on which the city lives its ordinary life, commercial and manufacturing—with the administrative side proper. I am quite confident that a considerable amount of good will come from that.
On the question of the Manager and of Deputy O'Kelly's references to the Commissioners, I desire to say that the gentleman we have nominated in the Bill will be a good manager for the city. As far as the Commissioners and their reputation are concerned, they want no defence in the eyes of the city against anything Deputy O'Kelly can say against them. Their work stands before the eyes of the citizens in a better looking city in every way and with lower rates compared with the time when they came in. Deputy O'Kelly's line of attack on them is simply worthy of Deputy O'Kelly, to use some of his own words.
General Mulcahy: The grants made for housing and from the road fund to the City of Dublin during the period of office of the Commissioners were the grants normally due to the city, and in no way has the city been specially favoured. If we were to consider the road grants and the contributions of the City of Dublin to the Road Fund, the Commissioners could very well argue that they did not receive as much money as they might have expected. The City of Dublin has been treated in the same way as any other local body. It got what was duly coming  to it. Deputy Lemass, in requoting a list referring to Cork, attempted to make a point with regard to the Manager and his position towards the Council out of some quotation from the “Cork Examiner” of yesterday. I ask Deputies interested in the matter or affected in any way by the quotation of the Deputy to refer to the somewhat full report of the Cork Council meeting yesterday. Briefly, the position is that the Cork Council either passed or inherited a certain set of bye-laws. The Manager carried out those bye-laws and is prepared to carry out those bye-laws, which are the bye-laws of the Council and of the Corporation, until they are changed.
If any Deputy wants to argue here that under the managerial system it shall be possible for a Council to pass bye-laws for the purpose of controlling the city and that the Manager shall not be expected to carry them out, that is not my outlook of the system of Council and Manager. I would refer Deputies to the discussion and not allow themselves be led aside by suggestions or quotations of one kind or another. We have, so far as the Dáil is concerned, finished the making of this measure. The words and sections in any Bill are not going to carry on business, such as the great business of the administration of the City of Dublin, but we have provided an arena, in so far as it can be provided by legislation, in which the Council representing the city and the Manager saddled with full authority and very full responsibility can satisfactorily co-operate to carry on the great work of the administration of this city.
|Aird, William P.
Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Bourke, Séamus A.
Byrne, John Joseph.
Cole, John James. Dwyer, James.
Egan, Barry M.
Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
Gorey, Denis J.
Hassett, John J.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Kelly, Patrick Michael.
Law, Hugh Alexander.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
|Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
Craig, Sir James.
Dolan, James N.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John. McFadden, Michael Og.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Nally, Martin Michael.
Nolan, John Thomas.
O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
O'Reilly, John J.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
White, Vincent Joseph.
Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Kent, William R.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
O'Kelly, Seán T.
Powell, Thomas P.
Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
Ward, Francis C.
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