Wednesday, 18 June 1930
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Allen: I would like to see the Minister for Justice present in the Dáil just now as I want to put before him some matters concerned with his Department. In view of the long adjournment and of the possibility of a general election in the meantime, it would be well if I put before the House some facts which came into my possession during the recent by-election concerning the policy of the Minister in allowing the Gárda Síochána to be used as election agents. In the village of Newtownforbes on Friday last, when I arrived about half-past eight in the morning, I found three Cumann na nGaedheal cars drawn up outside the barracks, and the Guards putting up Cumann na nGaedheal posters. “Vote 1 Delaney.” I did not see  any Fianna Fáil or Labour cars there. As I understood from the Minister for Justice and from other Ministers that the Guards are the servants of the people and not of any particular party, I went into the barracks and I asked the sergeant whether that was part of their duty, and he said that they were just obliging Cumann na nGaedheal. I then went to another part of the barracks and found one of the Guards making paste. I asked the sergeant to make a note of it. He pulled down the day-book and did so. But he said that he did not think it was any harm. Afterwards the superintendent told me that the sergeant was wrong in allowing the barracks to be used as a Cumann na nGaedheal bill-posting establishment. I suppose similar incidents happened in other places. Throughout the day there was an organised body of blackguards, several of them were Free State Army pensioners, and they used every possible means of trying to prevent Fianna Fáil supporters from exercising the franchise.
Mr. Allen: Yes, it is part of their duty. After the incident at the barracks, they took up a hostile attitude towards us, and tried to run us out of the place, but they did not succeed. On at least half-a-dozen occasions we had to draw the attention of the Guards to the fact that voters were intimidated, and though they said that they would put these people in the barracks they did not do so, and these people did not refrain from intimidating voters. It seems to me that there are no proper regulations governing the conduct of Guards on polling days. I called the attention of the presiding officer to the fact that voters were not allowed to vote freely. He said that he had no jurisdiction outside the booth, and neither had the Guards who were on duty inside. I never saw such black guardism as was carried on there from morning until night. Some of the decent supporters of Cumann  na nGaedheal came to me and apologised for the action of these blackguards.
I handed in a question to the Minister last Monday in which I asked him whether he was aware that the Gárda Síochána station at Newtownforbes, Co. Longford, was used as a bill-posting establishment on behalf of Cumann na nGaedheal, that Guards were engaged in posting bills at the barracks in the interests of that Party, and, further, whether any instructions were issued by the Minister's Department instructing the Guards to assist the Cumann na nGaedheal Party during the election. The Guards were powerless to deal with the blackguardism that was carried on. In fact, they seemed to be afraid. Owing to their intimate associations with these people they were all one. We used to hear the cry at elections about our being all one now, but it seems to me that the Gárda and Cumann na nGaedheal were all one on this occasion and co-operated to try and return the Cumann na nGaedheal candidate.
Mr. Kennedy: Bearing out Deputy Allen's statements, there are a number of incidents in connection with the by-election and the conduct of the Guards to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention. We would like to know, in view of other by-lections or general elections, whether it is Cumann na nGaedheal or the Civic Guard, or both, we have to fight. We were able to fight both of them at the last election, but we want to know where we stand. I want to know how many people in Westmeath have licences to carry arms. How many people in Rathowen Civic Guard area are entitled to carry revolvers? On June 9th in the district of Streete a Mrs. Parker was awakened by people shouting “Up Delaney.” She got up and these people continued to shout. She shouted “Up Geoghegan” and they fired shots. The shots may have been fired at her or in the air. I have here one of the cases which dropped outside her gate from an  automatic pistol. She is prepared to identify the ear that was outside her house at 1 a.m. as belonging to ex-Commandant Conway of the Free State Army. He was an election agent for Cumann na nGaedheal and is in receipt of a pension of £150 from the State. This gentleman on the night of the 13th June returned from Mullingar with three Gárdaí in his car and stopped at the village of Ballinalack at the house of Michael Mullin about midnight. He called Mullin out and asked him whether he was the man who reported him to Geoghegan for tearing down his bills. He was tearing down bills a few nights previously, and when Mr. Geoghegan's car came up, Conway, like the brave warrior he is, drove away. He said, taking a revolver from his hip-pocket, that he would riddle him. Those in the car told him to move on and the driver of the car moved on.
On the night of the 14th June, a number of youths were celebrating the Fianna Fáil victory at the cross-roads in Lismacaffrey. They had a bonfire some yards from the road, where bonfires had been made from time immemorial. The sergeant of Coole Barracks—Sergeant O'Halloran—came down with a number of Guards, who drew their batons, rushed the crowd and batoned them. When the crowd stood their ground, the Guards used the most obscene and abusive language, in the presence of women, and the sergeant, while frothing from the mouth, told them that he was as good a politician as they were. On the night of the 12th June, I had occasion to go into Castlepollard Barracks to get a 'phone call. I often got a 'phone call there before and paid for it when I could not get a call at the Post Office. Other people do that, too. I found there the two personating agents of Cumann na nGaedheal and the local C.I.D. officer, with the register in his hand. They and the local Guards were going over the register. They got a bit of a shock when I went in and they were put into another room. For a week before the election, it was noticed that there  was feverish activity on the part of the local Gárda with their cars. As soon as the election was over they ceased going round, and up to a week previous to the election we did not notice that feverish activity. We were credibly informed that they were acting as agents for Cumann na nGaedheal, that they were bill-stickers for them. I had direct proof when I walked into the barracks and saw the two personation agents in their midst. At Clonmellon, they put up the canvasser who was sent out there from Cumann na nGaedheal headquarters. They accompanied Deputy Batt O'Connor through the streets of Clonmellon and they warned the publicans to be neutral in the election. Had they any right to do that? At Ballinalee, on the morning of the election, the Cumann na nGaedheal car or lorry drew up. Mrs. Killane, widow of the late Deputy, was witness to what I state now, and Frank Gormley, a man who distinguished himself in the Tan war, saw the Guards moving out the forms and placing them on the Cumann na nGaedheal lorry. On the night of the 14th, when the local people were celebrating the victory, people in plain clothes rushed from the barracks, batoned them, and two men had to be treated by the local doctor, while there was no such occurrence when there were similar bonfires in similar places after the Sligo-Leitrim election.
During the voting at Streete polling booth there was an ex-Captain Moore with two guns in his breeches pockets. This brave fellow, who had his hands in his breeches pockets, was accompanied by two other people who, he announced, were army men. They were using obscene and filthy language and staggering about challenging people to fight. It was only when our people went to defend themselves that the Guards eventually came in between them. I wonder if the Fianna Fáil supporter had walked up with two guns in his pocket to a polling booth on the 13th June would the Guards stand idly by and listen to him using all sorts of intimidation, threats and abusive  language? When we reported to the County Superintendent of the Guards a number of these affairs, and when the local sergeant at Rothowen barracks went to Mrs. Parker to investigate what happened, he went threatening and frightening the woman. What could we expect when the local Cumann na nGaedheal meeting on the Thursday night previous was held at that barracks and when those who were at that meeting adjourned into the barracks after the meeting. I could give instance after instance to show how this splendid, so-called impartial police force acted. You would get better treatment from a police force in a British protectorate. There is no use in telling us about their impartiality or about their being unarmed when they can be accompanied around by ex-National Army men armed with guns and threatening every decent person in Westmeath.
You talk about the gun bullies from your platforms. We know damn well where the gun bullies are now, and we give you your answer. As I said in the beginning, I have investigated these cases—every one of them—and those people who are affected are prepared to go before any tribunal and prove that everything I have stated here is right. We want to know whether this force is a branch of the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation or whether it is a police force. If it is a branch of the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation it is up to Cumann na nGaedheal to maintain it. It is not for the Exchequer of this country, which is contributed to by every citizen, to pay a partisan police force, which is there principally to maintain a certain political party in office. We ask the Minister to investigate these matters and not give us the answer that we always get—a blank denial—in view of the evidence we have regarding their actions in the by-election.
Mr. Lemass: The statements which the House has just heard from Deputies Allen and Kennedy are very serious, and I want the  Minister for Justice to deal with them in a serious way. It has been the practice here in the past, when accusations of partial conduct were brought against the Guards, for the Minister for Justice to deal with them as if they were brought in a spirit of fun, without any serious intentions behind them. He cannot possibly deal with the statements which have now been made in that way. We, in the past, produced in the House details of cases in which members of the Guards acted on behalf of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party at the General Election of 1927. Definite examples of similar partisan actions on the part of the Guards have been given here this evening. The incident at Newtownforbes was witnessed by a number of Deputies in this House and cannot be denied. The persons concerned in the other incidents mentioned by Deputy Kennedy are all available and all prepared to stand for the truth of his statement at any tribunal that may be established to investigate these happenings. As Deputy Kennedy has said, the Civic Guard force is maintained by the people of the country irrespective of party. The tax collector does not ask a man whether he is a supporter of Cumann na nGaedheal or Fianna Fáil when he is collecting his taxes. The burden of maintaining the Guards is shared equally, and the Guards should, therefore, be above party and exist for the purpose of maintaining law and order, and for that only. It appears, however, that they have allowed themselves to be used as the appendage of a political party. I have no doubt whatever that they have found themselves in that position in consequence of the direct incitement given them by the Minister for Justice on many occasions in this House. The Minister has always treated the Civic Guard as if it should be an appendage of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. We know that the Cumann na nGaedheal Party was able in the recent by-election in North Dublin City to go to police headquarters and get in police headquarters documents which existed there, and  which had not been made available to the public, which were published for the first time in the form of propaganda against Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Lemass: These documents were furnished to the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation. The Minister apparently thinks that not merely the Guards but the entire machinery of his office should be placed at the service of the political organisation to which he belongs. He seems to think that that machinery is established here for the sole purpose of keeping himself in office. The people of Longford-Westmeath showed what they thought of the manner in which he was fulfilling his office and the people of Ireland will do it again. No matter how the Minister may abuse his powers, the result will be the same.
Many statements were made in this House and outside it about gun bullies. The names of gun bullies have been given to the Minister here this evening. Definite examples of gun bullyism have been produced and we want to know what the Minister is going to do about them. If the Minister is going to do nothing regarding these men who have been engaged in these acts of blackguardism, then I ask him to shut up about gun bullies. Here we have men paid by the State, paid by the money of the taxpayers, parading with guns in their possession, firing shots at peaceful people, intimidating citizens from exercising the rights of the franchise and the Minister, whose duty it is to suppress such  blackguardism, appears to think that it is all right so long as it helps the candidate of his party to victory. The Minister is, I think, more responsible than any other individual in this country for any instability that may exist in the political life of the Free State at the moment. He is more responsible than anyone else for whatever danger or violent action may occur in the future. Time and again, cases have been brought here of provocative action by the Guards—action designed to lead to a breach of the peace. The Minister never took any steps whatever to prevent a repetition of such action. He always justified it and gloried in it and held up the Guard who committed an assault as a good Guard. Deputies in this House know that what I am saying is true. We had even a Deputy of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party some time ago producing the details of an incident— a non-political incident—in which the Guards had acted in a provocative and intimidatory manner. The Minister's attitude to that case was the same as his attitude to the cases produced by Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Lemass: I say when a Cumann na nGaedheal Deputy comes here with signed statements concerning violent action by the Guards, it is the duty of the Minister to investigate that charge. The Minister refused to carry out that investigation asked for here. Here are cases in Longford-Westmeath, cases in which chapter and verse have been given. Is the Minister going to do in this matter as he did in the others—sit  still and smile, with his hands in his pockets—or will his answer be that he will take such steps as are necessary to ensure that such cases will not occur again? Here are Guards who have committed illegalities, who have broken their trust. It is the duty of the Minister to clear them out of the force if he wants that force to have any respect amongst decent people.
Mr. Gorey: I would not have intervened in this discussion were it not that a Deputy's name on our side of the House has been mentioned. It has been said that Deputy O'Connor had the assistance of Guards at a place called Clonmellon. I was at Clonmellon from Wednesday until the Sunday morning and I had not the assistance of any Guard. Deputy O'Connor is not in the House and his name is mentioned. I was there all the time and my name was not mentioned because I am here. In that place or anywhere I was I had no connection with the Guards, and they did not come near us. The Guards were absolutely impartial. I am not in a position to speak for other places and I am not going to speak of places of which I have no personal knowledge. As regards the place I have personal knowledge of the statement is absolutely untrue. There was no interference in any way by the Guards. As regards the question of interference with booths, it would probably be well to make a regulation keeping away all these mobilised forces from booths. I have seen fifteen or twenty people at a booth intimidating everybody there. It is a case that if we take a leaf out of other people's books it must be condemned.
Mr. Gorey: Take it as an admission if you like. The presence of fifteen or twenty people there is not for the purpose of assisting the voters but for the purpose of intimidating them. It is a well laid down  policy that has been carried on at every election before that. Frankly, I do not believe the accusations made by Deputy Kennedy.
Mr. Anthony: I cannot, of course, contradict the accusations made against the Gárda Síochána by Deputies Allen and Kennedy, but I can tell of my own experience in the town of Longford and the town of Mullingar. In both of these places I saw the Gárda Síochána carrying out their duties in the ordinary way. I saw no interference with any person or any party during my time there. Of course, I do not doubt at all that Deputy Kennedy has given an account as it was given to him of certain events. I am not at all disputing that fact, but I am giving my own personal experience, and the experience I had in two general elections in Cork City go to show that the Guards have not interfered with any party. I will go further and say that it is a good job that the Gárda Síochána were outside the polling booths, because were it not for that fact I believe there would have been a good deal of personation. It is all very fine to suggest that the Gárda Síochána are over-stepping their proper duties in regulating crowds or perhaps ejecting an interrupter. The ejection of an interrupter frequently obviates a breach of the peace. I have seen at election time where a Gárda intervened and removed an obstructionist. I think in that he is really doing his duty. In fact, I would consider that he failed in his duty if he did not remove a person who was there for the sole purpose of causing a breach of the peace.
Mr. Anthony: I am giving unbiassed information. I have got assistance from the Gárda Síochána. Members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party have got assistance when required, and the same thing, I think, is true of the Fianna Fáil  Party. I am speaking of my own personal experience. I cannot say anything as to what occurred at Clonmellon and those other places mentioned by Deputy Kennedy. There is no use making an indictment of the Gárda Síochána as a whole. It may be that one or two members of the force were overzealous in the discharge of their duties. It may be perhaps that they had certain Party leanings. I am giving my own experience, and that is the reason why I rose. General statements are all right, but they cannot be taken as a condemnation of the force as a whole. Considering the excitement of election times and the fact that they are mostly young men, and that some of them have been through a very severe time during the Civil War and during the Anglo-Irish War, I think that their action is not one worthy of condemnation. Rather is the reverse true. I know that on occasions that I know of they have done their duty as peace officers, and no more.
Mr. O'Kelly: I do not think that anybody on any side of the House will object to the Gárda Síochána doing their duty. They have a duty to perform at election times as well as other times. As Deputy Anthony said, at election times it is quite possible that in the excitement and heat of a well-contested election you will get people noisy and excited. Sometimes their temper is ruffled. If the Gárda are there to prevent a disturbance and keep the peace nobody on these benches will object. In fact we would be glad to see them doing their duty impartially. But the cases that have been referred to here by Deputy Kennedy and Deputy Allen and other cases referred to by Deputy Lemass show that, at any rate, in the particular cases the Gárda did not do their duty impartially. What surprises me is, seeing the countenance that is given to disgraceful  actions by the Gárda, uniformed and un-uniformed, by the Minister for Justice and other Ministers, that they have not been worse in a great many other cases. That is what I think will astonish most of us. As Deputy Anthony said, many of them have not a great many years' experience, and in view of the shameful encouragement given to them by Ministers to act as Cumann na nGaedheal agents, to be the police of a political party, it is surprising to me that the Minister has not succeeded in getting more of them to do the work of paid agents that some of them unfortunately have allowed themselves to be drawn into doing. I am nearly certain that you will not get an inquiry from the Minister because the Minister himself is the person impeached.
He is the person directly responsible. He has given more encouragement to blackguardism in the police force than any other individual could do. Of course, it comes worse from him than from anybody else. He has given personal encouragement in every way, by word and act, so far as he could do as Minister for Justice. Gun-bullyism has been mentioned. As Deputy Lemass said charges of that kind have been fired off Cumann na nGaedheal platforms at people on our side. We are used to this old trick to try to fasten on to other people the names that really belong to your own side. The Minister knows very well that if anybody showed the shadow of a gun or if there was a shadow of a gunman on the Republican side—on the Fianna Fáil side—he would very soon find himself in hot water. If there was, in the course of that by-election, any one individual on the Fianna Fáil side who attempted intimidation or was successful at intimidation—and there were C.I.D. men enough at every meeting I attended—where there were Ministers speaking there were two or three car loads of C.I.D. men protecting the Ministers—he would have got himself into hot water very quickly. We have definite evidence  here. I take it so far as Deputies Allen and Kennedy are concerned their statements will not be contested. I take it they are honourable men. They would not have mentioned names unless they were satisfied themselves that their statements were absolutely reliable. They have given the Minister definite evidence of gun-bullyism with which we are all acquainted here, and we know for certain that there will be no inquiry. These men will be brought to headquarters or their superintendents will be brought to headquarters and clapped on the back, and when it comes to the distribution of good conduct medals these men of the Cumann na nGaedheal Civic Guard Force will get promotion and medals. Gun-bullyism of that kind is going on, not alone at elections, but in the streets of Dublin almost every day.
I have had evidence of it even from supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal. One gentleman who was a member of the Dáil when the Treaty was under discussion came to me recently and told me that he had been a witness of the behaviour of the C.I.D.—the gun-bullies of the Minister for Justice. These men have half murdered innocent people against whom there was no crime recorded except that they held Republican opinions and were supporters of the Republican movement, either in the form of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin or any other branch of Republicanism. That kind of thing is going on every day of the week in the City of Dublin, under the nose of every citizen, in the centre of the streets. Incidents that were brought under my notice happened in Trinity Street. They happen frequently and they are a disgrace. Decent citizens are dragged along sometimes by the heels. Their arms are twisted and sometimes their clothes are torn. That has happened day after day for weeks, merely because these respectable citizens are suspected of being Republicans. No charge has ever been made against them and they are treated in that disgraceful fashion by these gentlemen who are the favourites, the elite of the un-uniformed  body of the Gárda Síochána. I want to say that we do not charge all the Gárdaí with behaving in that fashion. But there is behaviour by a certain element in the Gárda at election times and at other times of the year that the Minister should stop if he was there really as Minister for Justice and not as the instrument of a political Party. He is so partisan in his attitude that he thinks, as Deputy Lemass said, that the Department of Justice is above all things else and that it is the mainstay of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. That is his chief job and he does it to the best of his ability. I want to mention particularly that fact of the maltreatment of decent citizens. This House is fairly acquainted with the fact and when it does happen there are instructions by the Minister that the Press has no right to mention these things. Reports have been sent to the Press by impartial people. Letters have been written to the Press, but they are told that they must not refer to these matters although they do happen. The Minister for Justice either personally or through his Department instructs the Press not to mention those things because they might injure the reputation, if it could be injured, of the Minister for Justice in his impartiality.
I think it is a disgraceful misuse of public funds, funds that are subscribed by all classes of people, to use the Department of Justice as a machine for the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. Whatever other Government follows—and that will be bound to happen some day—I hope that it will not follow the bad example set to it, more particularly by the present Minister for Justice. I hope that whatever Ministry follows, it will endeavour to set an example of what an impartial Ministry, especially as regards the Department of Justice, ought to be.
Another matter I want to refer to is the treatment of prisoners. Three months ago I raised the question of the treatment of two prisoners, Sweeney and McGuinness. The Minister replied that these men were not in solitary confinement. My  information then was, and now is, that despite the denial of the Minister—it was a diplomatic denial —these men are in solitary confinement.
Mr. O'Kelly: I am told that Aidan Sweeney and Patrick McGuinness have been nine months in solitary confinement, and George Mooney since the date of his trial in December last. Close confinement is having a really bad effect on Mooney, and his relations are very anxious about him. Then there is the case of the two men in Maryboro'. Hogan is suffering from tuberculosis. I am told he was recommended for release by the prison doctor two years ago, and I will be glad if the Minister can deny that he is in bad health and is suffering from tuberculosis. As regards the case of Hogan, I think it is really political victimisation that is keeping the man in jail. The crime alleged against him and for which he was convicted and sentenced, happened in times when the country was not in a normal condition. Many things happened at that time that ought not to have happened; many things happened in different parts of the city and the Free State area that we are all sorry happened.
Mr. O'Kelly: Things were done by Republicans, and I know in some cases the members of the I.R.A. during that period did things for which they honestly believed they had an order. Some men are in jail now for doing things that they believed firmly they had orders to do from their superior officers in the I.R.A. They are in jail in England and some are in jail in the Free State even still. A good many years have passed and we think the time has come when these things ought to be forgotten. The men who committed the crimes alleged against them committed them, we believe, sincerely and honestly believing they were acting on orders. We do not want to stand over any case where these men  did not honestly and sincerely believe they were carrying out orders. We do not want to stand over anything that was really criminal. The cases we mention do not come within that category. We believe that the men acted in the belief that they were carrying out instructions from their superior officers. Hogan's is one of these cases. We believe that Hogan is in very bad health, is tubercular, and naturally imprisonment will not help to prolong his life. I have been told, whether it is correct or not, that Hogan was recommended for release two years ago because of his health. Whether he was or not we think that the time for an amnesty for these men, Hogan and Con Healy, has more than arrived.
Mr. O'Kelly: McGuinness and Sweeney were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for being in possession of arms. On this subject I have more than once put it to the Minister for Finance that he ought to bear in mind his own advice in other years. There might be some hope that the Minister for Justice would be impartial, but his colleagues in the Ministry could not be impartial. There might be some hope that he would be impartial in the case of men carrying arms. You have over there members of a Ministry who have been preaching this doctrine of carrying arms for years to the young men of the country. Their words are on record and are quoted every day. They have encouraged young men to carry arms. You cannot expect these men to be impartial, but perhaps the Minister for Justice might, seeing that he did not preach the doctrine of getting arms how and where you could and on all occasions. He did not preach that; he did not preach physical force; we cannot accuse him of that. Therefore, he ought to bear in mind these words:
 The iron of slavery is so driven into our souls that few of us think it a disgrace, a clear mark of degradation, to be unarmed. Courage and a hankering after weapons we have, but if we are content to rest at that where do we differ from those who are unarmed from choice and shudder at the sight of steel? For our manhood's sake we must not merely deplore our condition, but must sweat and starve till each has a gun and can shoot to kill.— Ernest Blythe.
When you have doctrines of that kind preached year after year and put in print over the signature of the present Vice-President—he was not then Vice-President—what can you expect from the young men? Is it fair or is it square dealing to have on the one side a man who is responsible for preaching a doctrine of that kind and printing it, and then condemning men as a Minister of the Free State for acting on his advice? He preached it; these young men are carrying out what he preached and they are suffering long terms of imprisonment. That is not fair. The Minister must and ought to be the first person to come here to plead for them. He should tell the House that he is partly responsible for these young men's doings. The Vice-President ought to be the individual to come to the House and plead for these men. Instead of that he encourages the Minister for Justice to be as cold, indifferent and harsh as he can be in keeping these young men in solitary confinement in prison for long terms.
These young men are not criminals. They believed in that doctrine as the Minister for Finance probably did believe in it once. They believed they were doing right and they believed they were practising the good citizenship that the Vice-President taught them at one time. They were acting on his advice and were doing a good citizen's work. Therefore they are not criminals. They are in the view of the Minister for Justice misguided, but not being criminals they ought not  to be treated as criminals and ought not to be made consort with criminals. Young Sweeney was made consort in the tailors' shop with at least one man who was guilty of most heinous crimes—guilty of crimes that could not be mentioned in this House. That is not good enough if the Minister for Finance, the Vice-President of the Free State, preaches this doctrine off public platforms and through the public Press. He did that not so long ago and these young men endeavoured to put the gospel that he taught so enthusiastically into practice, and we now know how they are treated by him and by his colleagues. These men have suffered more than enough. It would come with bad grace from the present Ministry to keep them any longer, as they sometimes have to do, in solitary confinement and consorting with the lowest criminals in the land.
Mr. O'Kelly: There is another matter to which I would like to refer. There are a number of important Bills that were promised and that ought to have been in the House during the last twelve months. One is the Town Tenants Bill. The Minister promised its introduction over and over again. The last time the matter was raised he repudiated his promise, and now he can give no date for the introduction of the Bill. That is not square dealing—running away from a promise in that manner. It is not treating the public fairly. Amongst the other Bills promised were a Bill on Co-operation, a Clean Milk Bill, a Fisheries Bill, a Road Traffic Bill, a Dublin Transport Bill, an Insurance Bill, a Merchandise Marks Bill, a Minerals Bill, a Workmen's Compensation Bill and several others. That is not by any means a complete list. The House is going to  adjourn for twenty-two weeks while Bills of that kind are waiting to be dealt with. Above all, I think the Town Tenants Bill is the most urgent. If the Minister had any honesty in him he should have acted on his promise. We are adjourning for five months after doing 48 days work. We are now going to adjourn for 154 days. In 1929 we did 69 days' work and this year we have sat only 48 days.
Mr. O'Kelly: I will do my share of the talking, and some of it does not seem to be too agreeable for people on the other side. They do not like to listen to what I have to say. The things I said about Mr. Blythe, Minister for Finance, will long be remembered to him and his subsequent actions will be remembered too. These young men are suffering in jail, and the fact that they have to suffer because of the gospel he taught will lie on the Minister's conscience. Whether he recognises the fact now or not, all this will lie on the conscience of the Minister for Finance. It will give him many sleepless nights, as it ought to, when he thinks of those young men who lie, some of them in solitary confinement, and others who are forced to consort with low-class criminals. The Minister for Justice should certainly have an uneasy conscience and many an uneasy night. I hope that until these young men are treated with some humanity, that will be so. It is an unjust thing to the country to adjourn for 22 weeks after doing only 48 days' work, while so much of the State's urgent work remains to be attended to.
Mr. B. O'Connor: It has been reported to me that in my absence Deputy Kennedy said that during the election campaign, whilst canvassing at Clonmellon, I was accompanied  by Civic Guards, helping me in the canvass. If the Deputy has made that statement, I wish to deny it, and to say that there is not a word of truth in it. It is rather unfair to attack the Civic Guards, who are public servants, and it is very unfair for members of Fianna Fáil to be so hostile to the Civic Guards, and, above all, for Deputy Kennedy to make such a glaring statement of that kind without investigating it. If Deputy Kennedy asked me I would have told him. I want to deny it emphatically; there is not a word of truth in it.
Mr. Davin: Deputy Little inquired whether the members of this Party were prepared to support the demand for an inquiry into the incidents referred to by Deputies Kennedy and Allen. Certainly we are prepared to support the demand for an inquiry, but we are not prepared to admit the guilt of those who have been charged before the inquiry has concluded. That was the gist of the unfortunate speech which was made by Deputy O'Kelly. He seemed to assume that every demand for an inquiry would be refused. I had occasion—and Deputy Lemass knows something about this case—within the last twelve months to convey to the Minister a very serious complaint which I had received from a part of my constituency against certain Guards for having been involved in a particular incident. I went to the office of the Minister and I asked him what he proposed to do in connection with this very serious allegation. An inquiry was held and I am perfectly satisfied that the Guards, who were very seriously dealt with as a result of that inquiry, if they wish to remain in the police any longer— those who are left—will not commit the same offence again.
Mr. Davin: I was satisfied, as a result of that representation to the Minister, that the Minister did his duty in the proper way. It is up to me to say that and to give him credit for it. I am not going to associate myself with a demand for an inquiry and then laugh when an inquiry is not held. Deputy Kennedy is a representative of the constituency, and I agree that the charges he has made —and they are serious charges—are certainly sufficient to justify an inquiry. I believe that the overwhelming majority of the Guards, as distinct from the C.I.D., are a self-respecting, decent body of men, and it is not right that any Deputy should condemn the overwhelming majority of Guards for the sins of the few. The charges are serious and justify an inquiry, and I hope that in the interests of the impartial administration of justice and of all concerned, and for guidance in cases of this kind that an inquiry will be set up and that Deputy Kennedy and the other people who make these charges will get an opportunity of proving them.
Mr. Little: I was listening to you, and while I gathered from what you said that you were to some extent in sympathy with us, it was not clear to me that you were going to vote with us if the Minister does not give the kind of inquiry that is wanted.
Mr. Little: At the same time we cannot get an inquiry without making a demand for it, and it is proper for us to make these charges with that object. Would Deputy O'Connor also support an inquiry into these matters? I give him credit for everything he said, but he must admit that there is sufficient subject matter for an inquiry, and before I go further I ask him whether he will support an inquiry. I will give way to him for a moment.
Mr. Little: I suppose it does not matter. In any case it shakes any little faith I may have had in Deputy O'Connor as to his genuineness in dealing with a matter of this kind. It discredits what he has already said. He is not willing to submit these things to an impartial inquiry. Sometimes inquiries were made, and in some cases Guards have been condemned, but in other cases—very important cases—inquiries were not made. We are entitled to have an inquiry into the conduct of the Guards during this election. We took up the attitude, on all the Estimates under the control of the Minister for Justice, of trying as far as possible to give the greatest possible credit to the Guards as a general body, with a view to creating a feeling in the country of really constitutional government, to treat the Guards as if they were impartial, to give them credit for being impartial, and in dealing with all these Votes we strictly confined ourselves to administration and almost ignored the political action of the administration in some cases. We tried to create that atmosphere in order to give the Minister and his Department an opportunity of responding,  but they have not responded. They have simply taken advantage of our attitude, simply made us out to be so many fools for having given them credit for anything.
I believe the statements that have been made on this side, and I will continue to believe them until an inquiry is held. I feel very indignant about this, because I think it is a very important thing that we should be able to place the Guards in a position of absolute impartiality, and I do not believe they would do these things unless they got orders. They themselves would infinitely prefer to be in a position of dignity and to act as impartial officials. They have sufficient national feeling to want to be impartial, and if it were not for orders from headquarters I should say that they would choose to act and conduct themselves properly. We have already had the contrast brought out between what should be the attitude of the Minister for Justice and what is the attitude of the Minister for Finance. After all, the Minister for Justice has had a long legal training and he ought at least to understand what constitutional administration is. He ought to be able to appreciate it as well as the London magistrate, Mr. Cairns, who recently visited this country and who was astounded at the disgrace of having policemen armed in the North. I wonder what he would say if he saw the men with arms in the Twenty-six Counties? He went so far as to characterise the Northern administration as resembling that of a Balkan State. He said that Ireland was divided into two States, one a Free State and the other a Balkan State. If he had the experience that we have had I think he would say that Ireland was divided into two Balkan States. But one cannot blame the Minister for Finance. After all, he was brought up in a school of thought which is thoroughly unconstitutional. He is constitutionally unconstitutional, and whether he is dealing with people who owe income tax or with people like George Gilmore, they are all outlaws to him if they do not comply with the law as he wants it complied  with. As I have mentioned the name of George Gilmore I may say that my information about him is that he is still being persecuted and treated with violence. If there is any evidence that he is guilty of any crime he should be tried by the ordinary law.
Mr. Little: We are now adjourning until November 19th, and we will not have available this platform upon which grievances can be vented and by means of which the administration can be checked. What are we to expect during the next few months? I hope the Minister will consider carefully the lesson that he should draw from the Longford-Westmeath election and that now, when the overwhelming majority  of the people are beginning to show that they are opposed to him and to his methods, he should begin to see himself as the Irish people see him.
Mr. Kennedy: What I did say about Deputy O'Connor was that he was accompanied up and down the street in Clonmellon by Civic Guards. I repeat that. I did not say that they went to the houses to canvass with him, but while he was there for the canvass they accompanied him up and down the street, and our conclusion was that a nod was as good as a wink to a blind horse.
An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputy sit down? One of the privileges of members of this House is to challenge the accuracy of statements made by other members.  If the Deputy remembers his own experience he will be clear about that. We cannot have the whole thing over again.
Mr. Byrne: As one who was in Longford and Westmeath and as one who had some experience of the district referred to by Deputy Kennedy, I say that to my own personal knowledge Deputy O'Connor was never nearer the town of Clonmellon than a place called Delvin, and I believe that is some twenty miles away. If the statements made by Deputy Kennedy with reference to his other accusations against the Guards are as true as the statement he has made about Deputy O'Connor and Clonmellon, I do not see why the time of the Minister's Department should be wasted upon useless enquiries.
If statements like that are to be made by Deputies without inquiry impugning the honesty and integrity of the Civic Guard, and then inquiries are to be made which are to involve this country in a great deal of expense, when we on this side of the House are asked to stand behind the holding of such an inquiry, we state we will not, and that we shall stand behind the refusal of the Minister for Justice, and we hope he will refuse, to hold an inquiry.
 I listened with a great deal of attention to Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly. He made a lot of statements as far as the Longford-Westmeath election is concerned that, to my own personal knowledge, were not based upon truth. One statement he made was, there was no intimidation by the followers of Fianna Fáil, that there were C.I.D. men present at every meeting, and that if any misconduct took place they would soon find themselves in jail. I see in the back benches of Fianna Fáil the Official Whip who witnessed what took place. I was present at a certain meeting, and I want to say that as far as my experience is concerned the grossest intimidation was carried out by the followers who supported the victor in this election. In that particular area, Ballymahon, there were three different speakers.
An Ceann Comhairle: I suppose when we are in good humour it is no harm to go back on the meetings held at a bye-election, but while I do not want to interfere with Deputy Byrne, there is nobody in the House responsible to the House for the alleged misconduct of supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party in the bye-election. Deputy Boland cannot be made responsible, because he is Whip of the Party, and what we are discussing now, I gather somewhat vaguely, is the conduct of the Gárda Síochána or certain members of it.
Mr. Byrne: I have endeavoured to keep as closely to the question as the Deputies on the other side. Certain statements and allegations have been made from the opposite side which I happen to be in a position to repudiate from my own personal knowledge and experience. I think in the interests of common justice the House ought to be informed of what did occur. When Deputy O'Kelly says there was no intimidation at this election, and alleges that the Civic Guard acted in a certain fashion, as certain followers of our Party are concerned, it is only right to say that I have been through the constituency from Athlone to Mullingar, Mullingar to Longford,  and Longford to Ballymahon, and I saw nothing but the greatest impartiality displayed by the Civic Guards who were present. What happened when one went into the area where the Opposition was strong and where there were no Civic Guards? What reception did one get?
Mr. Byrne: There has been a lot of licence given to the other side, and statements have been made by Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly that if any misconduct took place followers of his would find themselves in jail. I want to say that that statement is not true. If Deputy Little wants to meet me at any time I am able to meet him. I want to say this, as far as the Civic Guards are concerned, and the mere interference and interruption of the official Opposition will not prevent me from saying it, that were it not for the Civic Guards I sigh to think what would have happened in the Longford-Westmeath election. What happened to me in my particular instance when there were no Civic Guards present at certain meetings which I addressed? It is only through a dispensation of Providence, so to speak, that I am here to-day.
Mr. Byrne: I agree that is a point of order, but Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly has stated in this House that at every meeting held in the constituency there were C.I.D. present, and that if any misconduct took place the offenders would soon find themselves in jail. There were many meetings at which there were neither C.I.D. nor Civic Guards, and I happened to be unfortunate  enough to attend some of these meetings. There was no intimidation carried on by the followers of the Opposition in the Westmeath-Longford election! Is it intimidation to get round a motor car to tear the doors open and threaten to break the glass on the part of people who were wearing the badge of James Geoghegan on their coats?
Mr. Byrne: Whether we pay for them or not we want to ascertain what is true and what is false. As far as statements made in this House are concerned, the Civic Guards have played a decent and honourable part in the election. I can say that from experience, and testify to that fact. When statements have been made about a certain man in a certain area, and when that particular man was not within twenty miles of that particular district, I think in common decency the people who made that statement ought to withdraw it. If all the other statements made by Deputy Kennedy are as true as this statement about Clonmellon, I have no hesitation in asking the Minister to hold an enquiry, and if the Minister holds an enquiry I will have no hesitation in going into the division lobby behind him.
Mr. Stephen Jordan: I would like to clear the air. The Deputy states that if all the other statements made by Deputy Kennedy are as true as the one he made about Deputy Batt O'Connor being in Clonmellon he would vote against the inquiry. I would like to ask Deputy Batt O'Connor was he in Clonmellon on that day.
Mr. Corry: I want to get away from these subjects which are apparently red herrings drawn across the trail here. We are now adjourning for a period of five months. There are at present two Commissions sitting of grave importance to the farming community, the Grain Growing Commission and the De-rating Commission. I want to know will this House be called together in the event of either of these Commissions reporting. I think that an adjournment of five months in the present position of the farmers of this country is unfair and unjust to the farming community.
Mr. MacEntee: Before the Minister concludes I wish to say that I do not wish to carry on this debate in a partisan way, but I have heard the Civic Guards commended and the administration of the Civic Guards commended. About the force in general I have nothing to say. As far as my experience goes I did not notice that they were unfair or partisan in any way. At the same time, however, the House has got to remember that responsible Deputies here have borne testimony that they themselves were eye-witnesses of certain occurrences which indicated that the Guards were acting in a partisan way during this election. Servants of the State, no matter what branch they belong to, whether they belong to the civil or police administration, or the Army, must stand aloof from all parties, and even if there were only one instance of partisan conduct on the part of the Guards, or any responsible officer of the Guards, during the course of this election, that one instance was one instance too many and it should not be condoned by any section in this House. It should not be condoned even by the most enthusiastic supporters  of the Minister for Justice. Every section in this House alike ought to unite in condemning and in stigmatising as unconstitutional and unlawful partisan conduct on the part of the Guards, particularly at election time. If we are going to have any confidence in the administration of this State, if the Guards are going to have any help or assistance from the civilian population in discharging their duty, above all things they must make clear to the civilian population, no matter how we are divided as far as political parties are concerned, that they have no hand, act or part with either. They may have their own sympathies and political feelings, but they must be careful to keep these things locked up in their own breasts, and unless the House unites in laying down that principle we are not going to have in the Civic Guards that confidence which, as I said before, will allow them to discharge their difficult duties. We have had a number of instances in the country in which it would seem, so far as ordinary crime is concerned, that the Guards are not getting the co-operation of the civilian population. I could refer the House to the Stradbally case, in which the Guards have been cut off from the civilian population and do not seem to have the normal assistance they should have in that case.
Mr. MacEntee: I am referring to the manner in which the acts which the Guards had done deprived them of the assistance which they should have had in the normal way. I noticed when Deputies Allen, Kennedy, Kelly and Mullen were speaking that the Minister regarded it as a sort of a joke. It is no joke if the Guards believe that under a certain Government they can do certain illegal acts without any fear of reprehension or any fear of punishment, then you may be certain that when that Government goes out they are going to serve the succeeding  Government and do similar acts in the same way. We are going to have the Guards acting as janissaries of the Government for the time being, whatever that Government may be. We are going to have established in this country a police force with the same sort of tradition as the police forces of Chicago and New York.
Mr. MacEntee: As I was saying, if we are going to have the police force in this country permeated with the same sort of spirit which we are told permeates the police forces in New York and Chicago, we certainly do not want to see that. We hear of attempts made by citizens in those cities in America to clear up the force and put its administration on a sound basis. We are starting off practically as an infant State and we do not know how it is going to develop, but we on this side of the House hope that it is going to function as a sovereign independent State. At any rate, as regards the administration of the police force, we are anxious to have it started on the fundamental principle that it will be above all things impartial and that, even if any one member of the Civic Guards conducts himself in a way that would appear to have even a tinge of partiality, such conduct should be stigmatised as unjustifiable and unworthy of the force. Responsible Deputies on this side of the House have borne testimony that they themselves have been eye-witnesses of certain things. No matter on what side of the House Deputies sit they cannot allow such statements to go disregarded in future, especially when they have been made by responsible Deputies. The only way in which the Minister can meet such statements is to have an inquiry such as we advocate set up. If the Guards are innocent and  if these things have not been done, the Minister has nothing to fear from such inquiry, whereas, if the Guards have been guilty of these things, the sooner the results of such inquiry are brought home and the sooner the Minister says to these Guards: “We will not tolerate this; you have to get out of the force,” the better it will be for the community and the country as a whole. Apart from whatever feelings you may have, whether you belong to Fianna Fáil or Cumann na nGaedheal, you are bound to demand from the Minister the setting up of an inquiry which will investigate the serious charges made in this House.
Mr. Esmonde: I understand that the Minister is being requested to inquire as to the political bias of the Civic Guards. If the Minister agrees to such inquiry the only question I would ask him is whether he would agree to permit me to put forward personal definite information which I have got since the election to the effect that members, or at least one important member, of the Fianna Fáil Party has applied for special protection from the Civic Guards. He is a very prominent member of the Fianna Fáil Party. If the Minister is willing to accept it, I will be very glad to supply the information.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: We have wandered over a very considerable amount of country in the course of this debate, ranging from the definite statements made by Deputy Allen down to the concluding speech of the Deputy who spoke last and who certainly appeared to me to have the ability of saying nothing at greater length than most people could succeed in doing.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I am not referring to Deputy Esmonde. He was very concise. Deputy MacEntee is the Deputy to whom I refer. I would like to deal with the smaller matters first as they will take up less time. First of all, as regards the Town Tenants Bill. Deputy O'Kelly seems to have misunderstood me, unless I misunderstood him. I did  not say that a Town Tenants Bill would not be introduced. On the contrary, I said that it was my intention to introduce a Town Tenants Bill. I said I would not, because I might not be able to, tie myself down to an exact time-table and I mentioned no specific date for its introduction. I stated definitely that I am going to introduce a Town Tenants Bill. So much for that matter. Deputy O'Kelly also talked about other Bills which he said should be introduced, and he and Deputy Corry lamented over the great length of the adjournment which we are going to have. I must frankly confess that I have not seen among the Party opposite this evening that woebegone attitude which I would naturally anticipate from people who are being torn away from this Assembly in which they desire to spend their whole time legislating. I expected that they would be more melancholy but, frankly, I have never seen them so hilarious as this evening.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Deputy O'Kelly alleges that two prisoners are being kept in solitary confinement. I have told him over and over again that they are not being kept in solitary confinement. They are not only free to take exercise and do work but they have been actually urged to adopt that course and have refused to leave their cells. Knowing these facts, Deputy O'Kelly gets up here and says that these two young men are being kept in solitary confinement. That appears to me to be almost a breach of privilege of this House and, certainly, it is not that fair and straightforward dealing with facts that one would expect from a member on the Front Opposition Bench. I would certainly expect rather a higher standard of conduct than that.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: No, they are free to take ordinary exercise. To say that men who refuse to leave their cells are being kept in isolation is, I will only say, not making an accurate statement.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: They are bound to obey the ordinary prison discipline. Deputy O'Kelly went on to deal with Con Healy and Hogan and said that Hogan cannot leave his cell and is in bad health. I think it highly probable that Hogan is in bad health and is injuring his health by refusing to take exercise and to leave his cell. I think that that is quite likely but Hogan, like everyone else, must, when in prison, obey the rules. I suppose that Deputies opposite say that he is not guilty of any moral crime, but the crime of which he was found guilty and for which he was sentenced to death was the crime of wilful murder. Deputy O'Kelly said that that was during very difficult times and that the period in which that crime was committed and the circumstances under which it took place should be taken into account in considering his release. I quite agree, but there are other things that you must take into consideration. One is that you have Hogan completely unrepentant in prison and vowing vengeance on all classes of people. I would not feel justified, while Hogan is in his present state of mind, in releasing him and sending him back to his native district. That is the reason that I would not feel justified in taking that course. Deputy O'Kelly also said that an amnesty should also be extended to Con Healy. Healy has been a comparatively short time in prison. I do not think that he has been in prison a year.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Oh, dear no. He was tried last year. He received a sentence of ten years' penal  servitude for shooting at Guards with intent. That is a serious crime. That was not done in 1923 or 1924. It was done later. Does the Deputy think that that is a serious thing? Is there moral guilt behind a man who fires at the Guards with intent? Is Con Healy to be treated as a hero because he fires at Guards and serves a term of imprisonment? Is not that what Deputy O'Kelly is doing? Is he not standing behind this man who fired at the Guards? Is he not taking up that attitude?
An Ceann Comhairle: When  names of individuals are mentioned here, and when their case is pleaded, it is almost inevitable, when the case for the other side is being made by a Minister, that something derogatory to the individual will be said. For that reason the Ceann Comhairle has always endeavoured to keep the names of individual prisoners or others out of debate. If Deputy O'Kelly mentions the name of a prisoner, and says that he ought to be released, the Minister must be allowed to give his reasons for not doing what he is asked to do. I have no power, and Deputy Boland has no power, to compel him to refrain.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister must be allowed to make his case in his own way. Deputies are not in a position to dictate to others. The Minister for Justice has no power to compel Deputy O'Kelly to make a particular kind of speech. Neither has Deputy Boland power to compel the Minister to make a particular kind of speech. It all goes to prove that it would be better to leave names of individuals out of these debates.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I am now more convinced than ever of the maxim that excitement brings out the truth. Deputy Boland has got very excited and he has let out in the House what his Party have endeavoured to keep back when it suits them, namely, sympathy with persons who endeavour to commit crime in this country.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: —— for attempting to shoot at Civic Guards with intent. Therefore, I am to take it that the attitude at least of the Chief Whip of the Party opposite is that a person who shoots at a Civic Guard with intent may be regarded as a hero.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: That throws a flood of light upon the whole of this debate and upon the attitude which has been taken up not only by Deputy Boland now but by other speakers from the Fianna Fáil Benches. It explains why their speeches are so brimful of bitterness and vindictiveness against the Guards. The Guards, in their opinion, are a force that may be shot at or not shot at—a matter of complete indifference which.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Deputy O'Kelly talked about men carrying arms. Unauthorised men who carry arms in this country for the purpose of creating disturbance, men who carry arms and bombs for the purpose of destroying life or property are, according to him, not to be treated as criminals. They are not to be tried or dealt with at all. That, as I understand, is his attitude.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I will come to that. Mr. Blythe, it is said, wrote certain words about the iron of slavery being in men's souls, and other things, that Deputy O'Kelly read out to the House. When did he write those things?
Mr. Brady: He stated his opinion that these men had the right to carry arms, and if you, with your great intelligence, read those articles, you would see that he stated that even if freedom were ours to-day they would be entitled to carry arms. He was looking to the future.
An Ceann Comhairle: The interesting thing about this whole business is that nobody is really excited at all. Since there is nobody excited, why should we have all this fuss? I do not see that anything can be done except allow the Minister to make his speech or put the question, and let us all go home.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I was just explaining to Deputies opposite when I was interrupted that when Mr. Blythe wrote a certain class of article there was a certain political situation in this country. The Irish people, or the people of this State, had not elected their own Government—a sovereign Government—to carry on the affairs of the country as directed by the people of the country. I say there are people in this country who are entitled to carry arms. The people who are entitled to carry arms in this country are the people whose duty it is to preserve the freedom and liberty of this country—the National Army. Those are the people who are entitled to carry arms. I say it is a criminal thing—to use the Deputy's own phrase—for Deputy O'Kelly and for Deputy Brady and other Deputies to urge, as they are urging by their speeches here, another class of young men to take up arms and use those arms against the existing State.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: That is the only conclusion that any sane man could draw from the speech made by Deputy Brady or from the speech made by Deputy O'Kelly. Either those young men who have those weapons for the purpose of upsetting ordered conditions in this  country are right or they are wrong. Deputies opposite say they are right. If they say they are wrong, then the only course for Deputies opposite is, instead of praising them, to get up and denounce them. Deputies opposite will not get up and denounce them because they have not the moral courage to denounce them. I should like to see Deputy O'Kelly screwing up his courage to the sticking point and denouncing the gunmen. Good Lord, no.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I should like to hear Deputy O'Kelly denouncing Con Healy and the others. Now, I will come on to something else which the Deputy said. I think Deputy O'Kelly said one of the meanest things that have ever been said in this House. I can stand a good deal, but I do think that this was very unfair. There are men in the Civic Guard who have done tremendously brave acts. These men have risked their lives on various occasions in order to save other lives. The Deputy suggested that those men who got the Scott Medals did not get them for acts of courage, but got them because they had bullied people. He said that it was not because those men had done deeds of courage that they were presented with medals by me on the only occasion on which I do present medals, but because they were gunmen. That is most unfair.
Mr. O'Kelly: I want to be fair to the Civic Guards. I do not want to suggest to the Minister, to this House or to anybody else that deserving men are not entitled to get medals. They have got them but I do say that probably what will happen will be that these men who are charged with certain acts will be given other medals by the Minister.
Mr. Fitzgerald - Kenney: The Deputy talked about the Guards being gun bullies and about their attacking persons like Mr. George Gilmore and others of that type. He called the Guards gun-bullies and all that. But quite unconsciously he gave the key to the whole of his speech in one wonderful phrase he used—“People were anxious to fasten on other people a name that rightly belongs to the other side.” That is it, of course. The Deputy's sympathies are all with those persons who wish to go about with the gun and the bomb to take life and destroy property. He thinks that the best way to help those is by attacking the Civic Guards. We heard a lot about Gilmore. When Mr. Gilmore was recently fined for assaulting the Guards, I did not hear any Deputy on the opposite side denounce Mr. Gilmore. He was found guilty and fined for assaulting the Guards. Nobody on the other side finds fault with Mr. Gilmore for assaulting the Guards. On the other hand, when Mr. Gilmore brings a charge which is proven to be false against the Guards and the Guards are acquitted by the verdict of a jury, the Deputies on the opposite side, such is their malignity and partiality——
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: —such is their malignity and partiality, they will not accept the verdict of that jury. Deputy Lemass referred to another case in which civil proceedings were taken against a Guard. Those civil proceedings failed. Yet nothing will satisfy Deputies opposite. The charge is still brought against the Guard. Nothing will satisfy Deputies on the other side that the Guards are innocent, and yet they suggest that they themselves should be taken seriously.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Damages were not given against the Guards in any case in which violence was alleged against them. The cases in which damages were given were cases in which the Guards had detained persons either too long——
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Yes, but there was no allegation of violence in those cases, whereas, as regards those other cases in which violence was alleged against the Guards— those were the cases which we heard about to-night; and there were several of them during the past year —and which were not successful, we do not hear a word about them.
Mr. Briscoe: Does the Minister dispute the fact that George Gilmore was physically beaten by police officials, that the police court magistrate sent these police officers for trial, that subsequently the State had conduct of the prosecution against these Guards and that not one single witness for the prosecution was called by the State Solicitor, or Counsel, for instructions, that there were three Senior Counsel defending the Guards and one Junior Counsel prosecuting, who did not even address the jury in the case?
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: That is a monstrous charge. It is very easy when you lose your case; it is very easy when the jury do not believe the evidence against the Guards—it is very easy then to turn round and fling mud at people who are not in the House.
I will come down to the specific charges which were made here by Deputy Allen and Deputy Kennedy. As far as some of the charges by Deputy Kennedy are concerned, they have been answered by Deputy Gorey. As far as the charge of revolver shots being fired outside the house of Mrs. Parker is concerned, the Deputy said that the Guards had been there investigating that case. Of course, they would go there to investigate the case. He asked how many people in Rathowen were entitled to carry revolvers. How on earth could I tell him? I never heard a word about these charges until a moment ago. I could not answer a question like that. If I received notice I could deal with it. Deputy Allen said he saw Guards posting up notices. He said that he had sent in notice to my Department  of a question that he intended to ask. Personally, it did not come under my observation.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: It did not personally come under my notice. I had not the slightest idea that Deputy Allen was going to raise that question to-night I, therefore, am not in a position to deal with those matters which have been specifically brought up, but I would be very much surprised if any amount of investigation would show that in Newtownforbes or anywhere else in that election, there was such blackguardism as Deputy Allen alleges there was.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I am not going to deal with these matters until I have had an opportunity of hearing what the other side is. There may be necessity for an inquiry, and there may not be any necessity.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: As far as I am concerned I am not going to deal with purely ex parte statements, no matter whom they come from. I am not going to take any decision upon purely ex parte statements until I have had an opportunity of weighing up what can be said on one side and on the other side.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: No, the Guards are not justified. I have told the House on many occasions the instructions which the Guards have from my Department. Of course, Deputies drew on their imagination, and declared that Guards had been instructed by my Department that they were to become political partisans. That, of course, is utterly untrue. As regards the statement that the Press were told that they were not to report anything that I did not like to have reported, I do not know who is the more surprised, I or the Press, at the childish ignorance or audacity of the Deputy.
Mr. Boland: It is an explanation if you like. The Minister has tried to make deductions from the heat I displayed some time ago, for which I apologise to the Chair. He classed a friend of mine as a dangerous criminal. I know that he is no such thing, and I think there is some excuse for becoming heated. I think it will be within the recollection of most Deputies that there was a debate on this matter about two and a half years ago. I remember charging the Government with never having allowed the Civil War to  cease. I told them that there were at that moment on the run certain people who were being hunted day and night.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I find that I made a mistake in saying that the Deputy had already spoken. I might say, however, that I took it that the Minister was concluding on this particular part of the debate. I will allow Deputy Boland to speak, but it must be clearly understood that we are not re-opening the debate on this matter.
General McKeon: There is a matter that I wish to raise in this particular debate. Deputy Boland got up because a friend of his was called a criminal. He lost his temper and offended the dignity of this House, but a Deputy in this House has been called a murderer by another Deputy, and there has been no attempt on the part of that Deputy who called that name either to withdraw or apologise to the Chair. I must raise that matter later on.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That expression was not used since I came into the Chair. I am quite satisfied if any expression which called for a withdrawal had been used the Chair would have called for that withdrawal before now.
Mr. Boland: On that occasion I drew the attention of the House to the fact that there were certain men in this country who had never been allowed to return to their homes. This particular man, Con Healy, was one of these. A certain charge was supposed to be hanging over him. He was hunted in his own district and the Guards or alleged Guards, because I draw a very clear distinction between the uniformed Guards and these people, said that if they  got him they would kill him. They did not mean to catch him at all. Con Healy is a spirited man who fought all through the trouble. He is a human being. He was hounded down and undoubtedly he did carry a gun. The proof that he was no criminal is that he was sheltered for two years by the people in his own district. That certainly was a tribute to him. I believe he did fire when these people came after him in the belief that he was going to be killed. We are told that he is a dangerous criminal because he did that. What I would like to draw the Minister's attention to is that the original charge for which he was supposed to be sought was never brought against him. He was simply charged with having fired, after notice was conveyed to the people who had sheltered him that he was going to be killed. I submit in these circumstances there is a case for investigating the position of Con Healy. He did not fire to kill. He did not hit anybody and I am sure he was glad he did not hit them. I think it is a case that should be inquired into, and I do not see what the Cumann na nGaedheal Party hope to gain by trying to prove that I or any other member of this Party stand for murder in this country. Murder has been denounced here time after time by the Leader of our Party. There is no man in this Party afraid to denounce murder and well the Minister knows it. I would ask the Minister or any member of the Government Party what he hopes to gain by trying to prove that this Party stands for murder and assassination. This man was caught and sentenced to ten years. He has served about two years. I think it is certainly a case for reopening.
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