Local Government Bill, 1931—Report.

Friday, 19 June 1931

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 39 No. 6

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Minister for Local Government and Public Health (General Mulcahy): Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I beg to move:—

“That the Bill be received for Final Consideration.”

Motion put and agreed to.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  If the House is agreeable I would like to take the Final Stage now.

Agreed.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I beg to move “That the Bill do now pass.”

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I do not know that anything that we can say here is likely to influence the minds of the gentlemen opposite with regard to this Bill. In our opinion it is another step in the erection of dictatorship in local government affairs, and, as such, we are strenuously opposed to it. Opinion on this side of the House, which is, I [720] think, backed by a very considerable volume of opinion outside, is definitely hostile to the concentration of all power over local affairs in the hands of a central authority. We have discussed this matter at length before, and I suppose that we will have to do it again, and keep on doing it, until an opportunity comes to make our views effective in this matter. During the last day or two somebody sent me extracts from a number of provincial journals. So far as I know, the opinions of the editors of these journals are friendly to the present Ministry. There is one from “The Midland Tribune,” another from “The Sligo Champion,” a paper which I think has always been the champion of the Free State Government, and there is also one from “The Dundalk Democrat.” All three of them, in their editorial articles in the issues of June 6th, vigorously oppose the ideas expressed by the Minister recently when introducing another local government amending Bill into the House. While, as I say, all of them are organs that champion generally the Free State Government, they certainly do not show any sign of championing the views of the Local Government Ministry in regard to local affairs. “The Midland Tribune” says:—

“There has been far too much tinkering with local administration so far. Changes have been made and systems evolved which have not been the best, and which competent authorities stated, before their adoption, were not the best.... For ourselves we think that many changes for the better can be made in our present local government system, but we would be strenuously opposed to any new system which would give undue power to the central authority and remove the responsibilities of local control from local bodies.”

That is the view of that journal.

The “Sligo Champion” says:—

“Already the present Government has interfered so seriously with the operations of local authority as to leave it only a shell of its [721] former self.... In further pursuit of the ideal, we are told that it is the intention of the Government to introduce another Bill, which, of course, must automatically pass into law; and the intention of this legislation is to aim at securing `whatever benefits could be obtained by getting local people to do all the local work under the most favourable circumstances possible'. Remembering the fact that the Government has already sapped most of the authority which local people did possess in regard to local work, it is a mere exhibition of dry humour on the part of the Minister to declare that it is the Department's desire to give local bodies the best machinery available so that they could work on proper lines when carrying out of their own volition the things they wanted to do in order to improve their local circumstances. The Government has never displayed any confidence in those chosen by the people under the Local Government franchise, and far from giving them any permission to carry out schemes `on their own volition,' the reverse has been, undeniably, the studied policy from the very commencement.”

That is the “Sligo Champion.”

“The Dundalk Democrat” is similarly opposed to the present tendency to centralise affairs as regards local administration at headquarters. It says:—

“We make no secret of our belief that there are forces at work—and were, long before General Mulcahy took over the portfolio—aiming at the establishment of a purely bureaucratic system. The ideal of the people responsible would seem to be a purely official administration, carried out by Dublin-appointed officials under the direction of the central department, giving local people no voice in the management of their affairs and no control over their own destinies. It was, doubtless, with this in mind that the Chairman of the Louth County Council the other day exhorted the Government to `walk warily.' He spoke in a place that local initiative [722] has raised, and is raising, to higher levels. It would be a national catastrophe if the power were taken from such men to carry our towns and counties along the path of progress.”

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Has the Deputy any objection to reading the first paragraph of that article?

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I will read it all if the Minister likes. I will give it over to him. The articles are rather long, but I have no objection in the world to reading them. In fact, it would be good for the Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Has it all reference to the Local Government Bill?

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Yes. The President is very anxious to hear his champions —the “Dundalk Democrat” and the “Sligo Champion.”

The President: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I suppose the Deputy will also follow their lead in politics.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I will follow their lead in local government affairs. I am only quoting them because they are your champions. I could quote you dozens of others which are not your champions. They are your own champions belabouring yourself and your own policy and telling you that if you continue your present policy in regard to local government you will not have their support. These papers which are champions of the Free State Ministry state our views in regard to local administration, and in regard to the present tendency of centralising all power in the hands of the Ministry of Local Government. It seems, perhaps, unnecessary to repeat and emphasise again what our views are in the matter but I think it is necessary to do so when the present Ministry, if they ever had any belief in the rights of the people, have lost whatever faith they had in the power of the people to conduct their local affairs. If that policy continues in that direction the logical outcome would be that this Dáil ought to be abolished.

Mr. McDonogh: Information on Martin McDonagh  Zoom on Martin McDonagh  A good job, too

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I would not object as much as Deputy Reynolds and Deputy McDonagh to the abolition of the [723] House as at present constituted. The logical outcome of that would be the abolition of all representative government and the setting up of a dictatorship, of a one-man government with a staff of officials.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  And the ideas referred to in the first paragraph which the Deputy has not yet read.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I will give it to the Minister to read if he is so fond of it. I have no objection to reading it, but the President protested when I offered to read the whole of it. I will read the article in “The Dundalk Democrat,” which is headed “Local Control in Administration.” It says:—

In the course of a debate in the Seanad on Wednesday the Minister for Local Government gave some indication of the lines on which the forthcoming amendment Bill will be framed. He said in the first place that the aim was “to secure for the country whatever benefits could be obtained by getting local people to do all the local work”—that is underlined—under the most favourable conditions ... so that they could work on proper lines when carrying out, of their own volition, the things they wanted to do to improve local circumstances.

There is nothing editorial in that.

The President: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  That is the best part of the article.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  That is, of course, the President's view, because it is the Minister's statement. There is nothing editorial in it.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Something dictatorial, in fact.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Exactly, dictatorial. One of the papers refers to the dry humour of the Minister. I did not know that he ever had much humour in him. They seemed to discover that he had when he talked of getting all the local people to do all the local work under the most favourable conditions. That is his statement—that they are to do all the local work—and the minute they proceed to do any of the local work under his Department, he comes down with a mandamus, or something of that sort. Look at the [724] number of cases you have had quite recently. I think I saw one of them reported in this morning's papers. A mandamus was sought against that local authority, threatening them with severe penalties if they did not do what the Minister wanted, not what they considered right or proper locally, but what the Minister himself considered right. His idea of doing local work is to make his will effective, to appoint whomsoever he wishes to carry out schemes of local administration, just as he desires in a certain narrow way and without reference to the people. That is what he calls getting local people to do all the local work under the most favourable conditions. Who is to judge? He says that he wants to get all the local people to do all the local work, but any time the local people express their opinion as to what they want to do, according to their experience in the locality, for the benefit of the locality, if that interferes in the remotest way with the views of the Minister, he issues a sealed order, a mandamus, or something of that kind, and threatens them with all sorts of legal pains and penalties, if they do not literally follow the views and the orders of the Minister.

I think we are right in opposing this Bill, giving such wide and extensive powers, such almost limitless powers as it does to the Minister, in Sections 2 and 3, to dissolve local authorities, and having dissolved them, to appoint whomsoever he pleases. It may be that he will have to have a very much increased staff of officials at headquarters. He will have to double or treble his inspectorate staff because if the present policy continues he will need to have in time inspectors under the name of Commissioners administering the local affairs of most of the public authorities in the country, or in the Free State, which is not the country.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The position is quite reversed.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Then that will be doing what he says here—getting the local people to do all the local work under the most favourable conditions. Was [725] there ever such hypocrisy known in the House, and there has been a good deal of it? I doubt if at any time there has been such an exhibition of hypocrisy paraded in this House, or in the Seanad, as is evidenced in the present case—the Minister proclaiming, in word, his faith in the people to attend to their own affairs, to carry on their own administration, and by act, giving the lie to every word of his. This Bill gives him wide and extensive powers. I would not object to giving the Minister full powers, the fullest powers he would demand, or giving any Minister full powers to supervise the work of local authorities, to direct, advise and counsel local authorities, but, when we see the way these powers are misused, we certainly object.

If the Minister, or his colleagues in the Ministry, had in the past exhibited any faith in the local people, if they had shown their trust in the people and their confidence in the people to do right sometime, I think a Bill of this kind might be allowed to be passed, but because of our experience of the actions of the Local Government Department in the past, we certainly cannot allow a Bill of this kind to go through without protest. Not alone are local authorities to be suppressed whenever they fall foul of the Minister, to be abolished, but every subsidiary body working under these local authorities is to be likewise suppressed, and individuals under this Bill can be handpicked by the Minister to run boards of health, to run a vocational education system, to run mental hospital boards and asylum boards and all other local authorities.

This Bill gives him power to ignore altogether public opinion, to ignore the considered opinion of the elected representatives of any locality, to abolish the local authority if the whim seizes him, and to select from the locality the chairman of whatever branches of the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation might exist here and there, or the organisers of Cumann na nGaedheal, or people of that kind, people that he knows, because of favours granted or favours to come, will carry out his policy and his wishes, and put them to run local affairs, not [726] in our belief for the good of the people, and certainly not thus getting local people to do all the local work under the most favourable conditions. Undoubtedly he can always get local people to do local work by abolishing these Boards. He has power then to select anybody he likes, and to select people who, he knows from their past, will be obedient servants of his and his Ministry. He cannot maintain here or elsewhere that such people, hand-picked by him, who will be appointed to carry on these local authorities or subsidiary bodies, will represent the public opinion of the locality, or that they will voice the views of the majority of the people.

So far as I know, in a great many of the public bodies in the country, the present Government has a majority of the elected representatives on a very considerable number of public bodies, but it would appear that even that will not satisfy him. If these elected representatives, as in the case of Mayo, which was quoted here so frequently the other day, do not carry out to the letter the views of headquarters, they are to go. How he can say with one breath that he is anxious for local people to do all the work, and at the same time wipe them out, cut off their heads when they endeavour to put local ideas into execution, knowing the views of the locality, or how he can reconcile his words with his deeds, it is difficult to see. Certainly he has not raised the reputation of the Department for efficiency during his occupancy of his present office. There have been several cases in the past few years which have exhibited the Department and administration in a very bad light to the country. One of the worst, for which the present Minister was not primarily responsible, was the case of the Grangegorman Mental Hospital Committee, which is particularly referred to in this Bill.

The Minister was careful to say the other evening that he took full and complete responsibility for the actions of his Department. That is only what one would expect he should say. In my opinion, the Minister and his Department [727] should, at an early date, look for more efficient technical advisers, for a greater legal mess than was made of the Grangegorman Mental Hospital case it would be difficult to imagine. The Department is not helping the people to govern themselves. It is not encouraging them to take an interest in public affairs and in local govern ment. Our views and the views of the Ministry seem to be directly opposed on these matters. The Ministry has no confidence in the people. It does not wish to encourage them to take a live interest in civic affairs. Our view is that it is possible for local authorities to make mistakes as well as it is possible for the Minister and his Department to make mistakes. It is only by allowing them to conduct their affairs as they think proper, by showing them their faults and their mistakes when they go wrong, by encouraging them to go on the right road and insisting that they do good work locally, that they bear the cost as well as know the cost of mistakes when they make them, that you will train public opinion and the citizens generally to take a live interest in local as well as in national affairs. You will not train them to do good local administrative work by abolishing them every time they refuse to carry out the dictates of the Department. The people get disgusted, dis heartened, and indifferent, and that is natural. Our view is that it would be for the benefit of the State that they should be taught and encouraged to take a full and lively interest in local affairs; that where they prove themselves ignorant or inexperienced the Minister and his experienced officials should always be there to correct them, advise them, counsel them and show them the right road. Instead of that the Ministry is determined to take all power and responsibility from their hands.

It is only by leaving responsibility in their hands, by putting on their shoulders and making them realise the cost of wrong-doing, that you can train them properly. We need such education. We need education in civics in this country. We need to teach our people to run their local [728] affairs and take responsibility for them. We are backward in these matters, not alone in the rural areas, but even in the City of Dublin. There is not that lively sense of civic responsibility that we ought to have. The citizens do not fully realise their duties and responsibilities as citizens. Our view would be to encourage the people to take an interest in civic affairs and to realise their responsibilities. If the citizens of Dublin, and in the towns throughout the Free State, realised to the full their responsibilities in local matters you would have in a short time a very big change in such matters as housing.

I am not going to tempt the Ceann Comhairle to intervene to suppress me by developing that point, but I just give it as an example of the want of civic spirit and civic interest. There is not that sense of responsibility for civic affairs in this country that there ought to be. The Minister's policy is directly opposed to the encouragement of that civic spirit. Again, I say that I doubt if any words that we can use, or any urging that we can do here, will change the outlook of the present Ministry on these matters. It is out of a sense of duty that we do it. Despite what the results may be, and despite the apathy and indifference of those sitting opposite, we will continue to press forward our view that it is on the people's shoulders and in their hands should be placed full responsibility for the conduct of their own affairs. It is only in that way you will bring them to a full realisation of their duties as well as their powers, and that good can result to the State and the people as a whole.

Mr. P. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  (Clare): The principal fault that I have with the Minister in the administration of his Department, and in the legislation that he introduces here, is his glorification of theory. The Minister in these matters of local government seems to go mainly on theory. He does not get down to the practicability of what he propounds or endeavour to find out from those who are acquainted with the application of these theories whether they are workable or not. [729] Having glorified his theory, the Minister goes along and enforces it in the spirit of an autocrat. These are the two main faults that I find with the Minister as regards the legislation he introduces in the Dáil.

If it were desirable, I could indicate many phases of his autocratic enforcement of these theories of his, and how they affect adversely the lives of the people who are influenced by local government. I could indicate how the lives of the people in connection with home assistance, local improvements, sanitation and other matters are affected by the theoretical views of the Minister and his autocratic enforcement of them. I do not intend to develop that point now. The Minister and his predecessors seem to have the same ideas, and since he came into office we have had various local government measures introduced. Judging by the way these measures are coming to the House the Minister apparently does not think that we have reached the ideal machine for local administration. If the Minister continues in this fashion I do not think we shall ever reach it. It is impossible, and not reasonable, to except that a Department functioning in Dublin, far removed from the administration of local affairs, would be in a position to say what exactly local administration really wants. It was to deal with that that I got up to speak. Has the Minister, in the administration of local affairs, ever taken into conference any representative body of local administrators? Has he any faith in local administration at all? If not, then the proper course for him to take is to abolish local administration altogether and centralise the whole thing in the Department in Dublin. I do not think anyone will say that the Department in Dublin has any experience of administration. I do not want to use this as an argument against the Minister, but I think it is correct to say that he himself has no experience of administration in local affairs. It is also true that his Department has little or no experience in such administration. The Minister seems to have no confidence in those who are administering local affairs, because he never takes them into conference [730] to find out what the people need. There is such a body as the General Council of County Councils. Deputy McDonogh does not like it; he does not like the Dáil. The Deputy thinks that we ought to abolish it. Possibly we ought to abolish the General Council of County Councils, and then the county councils, who send representatives to the General Council. I think these councils and committees have done valuable work in local administration. They know the needs of the people and what is required in local administration. They have experience of these matters, and, against difficulties, they have endeavoured to carry on for years. To an extent they have succeeded in making bad legislation fairly effective.

I want to ask the Minister if he has ever considered the question of taking a body like the General Council of County Councils, or any similar body, into consultation. If he has passed over the General Council of County Councils, has he ever taken the chairmen of the county councils into conference, the chairmen of the boards of health, or the chief executive officials of these bodies, and asked them what local administration requires? Has he done anything in that way to find out what are the needs of local administration? Has the Minister simply sat down with his officials in the Department and drafted measures without any reference whatever to their applicability to local affairs? Surely there should be some reference to local bodies? If the Minister does not like the people who are elected to county councils or the chairmen of the boards of health—some of whom are not pleasing to him because of their expressed political views—he has the executive officers of these bodies, and he can ask them their views as to the feasibility of these things. He has not done that. My principal objection to the Minister's attitude regarding legislation is that it is purely his theory without any reference to its practicability or applicability, and his autocratic method of enforcing these theories irrespective of their suitability.

[731]Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I do not want to go at length into the reasons I have for opposing this Bill. I think the Dáil is satisfied with the experience it has had in the City of Dublin. The Minister tried to explain, as Deputy O'Kelly quoted, that he wants better results from local government in local areas. Yet when we examine the results of the Minister's interference in Dublin we find that there have been no advantages. If the Minister's point is that he wants to balance results as between the benefits to local areas and the results of central government we might be able to discuss the matter from a different angle. Take the position in the City of Dublin. The Minister's predecessor dissolved the Corporation of Dublin and set up the Commissioner system. After five years, when control was handed back to the city in a diluted form, it was found that the city had suffered considerably through the Minister's intervention and through the administration of the Commissioners. It was found that the electricity plant had been lost to the city, a plant that had made a profit of £70,000 for the ratepayers. That was a distinct disadvantage to the City of Dublin, although it might be considered an advantage to the central Government in connection with their Shannon scheme.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Is the Deputy going to go into the administration of the Dublin City Commissioners?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  No.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Deputy must confine himself on this Stage to what is in the Bill. That is an old ruling.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I am not going to discuss the results of their administration, but I wish to say that the Minister is wrong when he argues that his idea of suppressing councils, or of intervening in their business, will result in advantage to local areas.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Minister has not said that to-day.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I think the Minister said so when Deputy O'Kelly read a paragraph from the paper.

[732]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I think that was a quotation from the Minister on a Bill of another kind. The administration of the City Commissioners cannot be discussed on this Bill.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Can I deal with it in a different way? The Management Committee of Grangegorman Mental Asylum met recently for the purpose of giving contracts for the supply of certain articles for the coming year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  All that could be raised on the Vote for the Minister's Department, but we are dealing here with legislation. The Minister's relations with the Grangegorman Committee or with any other local body does not arise on this Bill. There is another way of discussing that.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Is this not a Bill to give more freedom for the suppression of local authorities? Is it not a fact that local bodies have been suppressed for refusing to appoint certain officers? Can we not discuss it from that angle?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  We discussed that on the Second Stage of the Bill. I pointed out then that it was relevant to object to the Bill in principle, and in order to support the objection, to quote examples as to how power already possessed by the Minister or by the central authority has been used. I think it is late on the Fifth Stage to give examples. I think we are confined to the mere question whether power should be given or not, without having examples from the past.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I want to show that the Minister has sufficient powers without this Bill. I want to illustrate that by pointing out that where local bodies decide to give contracts to a native firm, at prices somewhat higher than those of outsiders, the Minister has power to surcharge them. These local authorities, before they can give such contracts, have to consult their legal advisers in order that he would interpret the rules and regulations made by the Minister, so that they would not be surcharged or suppressed simply because they wished to support home industry. I am a member of a local authority where we spend a great [733] deal of time looking up the Minister's orders and rules and consulting legal opinion to ascertain whether we can do certain things, and whether we are liable to be suppressed or surcharged. I think the Minister has sufficient powers already to see that administration is efficiently carried on by the local authorities without seeking further powers to make it easier for him to suppress them. On the Second Reading, I referred to the case of a local authority where the Minister set up his idea of government, and where the nominee of the Minister engaged in an act which any local authority with any self-respect would not tolerate for five minutes. The ratepayers in that area have no redress whatever. In the case of a local authority the citizens always have redress, but in this instance they are debarred. I pointed out to the Minister the appointment, in one instance, of a sanitary officer to take charge of an area in which he was a considerable property owner. Such an appointment was against all commonsense and reason, and it should not be tolerated, but the Minister ignores such matters. I got into touch with the Local Government Department on that matter, but instead of getting any satisfaction I was answered only on one point, and that was with regard to the man's age.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Deputy is now on the question of administration.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  There is no use in trying to argue that the Minister's system is going to bring any advantage to the ratepayers. I want to prove that the Minister's idea of local government will bring nothing but disadvantages. The Minister is trying to make way for what he pretends is going to be effective administration. In my opinion, the method he is proposing is going to make for jobbery on a more definite basis than ever it existed in this country. I intend raising the matter next Wednesday that I was trying to raise here by way of question and answer. I will prove——

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I think the Deputy is labouring under some kind [734] of misapprehension. He thinks that the members of the Fianna Fáil Party have not got over the Friday morning feeling and have not got up yet. As many of them have got up as are going to get up, and I think we might conclude this discussion.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Is that what the Minister is worried about?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  What sort of a point of order is that?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The Minister can scarcely wait until he gets the powers he is seeking. He is so anxious to secure those dictatorial powers that he can hardly wait until next week. He wants to be busy this afternoon deciding what councils, or subsidiary bodies, he will suppress. I do not know why the Chair has ruled that it is not in order on the present stage to argue on the basis of experience. If the Dáil is going to be placed in the position of transacting its business on the same basis as the Minister transacts his business, purely on the basis of theory, as was pointed out by Deputy Hogan, and with no practical experience to back his arguments, then the outlook is sad for the country. If the Chair rules out of order any references to practical experience and results which may be quoted as against certain legislation here, then the sooner we adopt Deputy Hogan's suggestion and suppress this House, leaving the whole Government to a few individuals, who can theorise from morning until night, the better.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Deputy was here last Wednesday, and we spent almost the whole day talking about experience. This is the Fifth Stage of the Bill.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I consider this Bill is sufficiently important, even on this stage, to try and think out fresh arguments in the hope that some members of the House will change their minds and decide to vote in a different fashion to the way they voted on the Second Reading. I do not know whether Deputies have considered this matter carefully or have looked up the results that have arisen through the [735] suppression of councils and the effect of the subsequent administration. I wonder have Deputies studied the conditions in areas where councils were suppressed? If they have not done that, it is not likely that they will alter their views. It is regrettable that on this stage we cannot discuss definite reasons that we have knowledge of from our own experience. I expect all that we can do is to get up and say a few words and then oppose the Bill in the ordinary way. In Dublin the local authority which functioned for years was always careful never to increase the dead-weight debt of the city.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Deputy is off the line again.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The dead-weight debt of the city has increased almost twice as much as it was before the Corporation was suppressed. That is a disadvantage from which the city will continue to suffer as a result of the Commissioners' administration. If a local authority had been in office for five years and had increased the dead-weight debt from two millions to four and a half millions, or from two and a half millions to five millions, I do not think they would seek re-election.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  In respect of what has the debt been increased?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Partly in respect of the construction of houses.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  On this stage we must not discuss the dead-weight debt of Dublin city. That is absolutely irrelevant. I told the Deputy clearly that he might have worked in some of this, but not the whole of it, on the Second Reading. I think I have already allowed him to work in a fair share of it, but I will not allow him to work in any more of it. We cannot have a debate now on the dead-weight debt of Dublin City.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I do not know what we can talk about, then. I observe Deputy Gorey saying something, and I would like to know what it is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I do not know what it is, but I think Deputy Briscoe [736] should now settle down to the subject-matter of this Bill.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  It is a pity to miss what Deputy Gorey said. His interjections are usually so high-toned that they give this House extra prestige.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Now, come back to the Bill.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Deputy Gorey could not interject anything about this Bill. He could interject something about myself. I would like to hear what his references to myself were, because they must be so original.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Is the Deputy going to say anything about the Bill?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Deputy Hogan suggested to the Minister that he has no great experience of local government administration. He has some experience of a Ministerial position, but in the matter of practical administration he knows little. Before he goes any further on the road towards putting his theories into effect, he should accept Deputy Hogan's suggestion and call together either the officials of local authorities, the senior representatives of the councils, or the General Council of County Councils and get their views. If they recommend certain changes, the Minister should accede to their wishes and then there would be some sense in this Bill.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  What about the Dublin Union Committee and their views?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  They are nearly as irrelevant as the General Council of County Councils.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The Minister is still suffering because a private Deputy attempted to show him the way to correct a mistake he made in his own legislation. That was a terribly dangerous thing for any private Deputy to do. A private Deputy had the cheek and the nerve to introduce a Bill to amend legislation that the Minister launched in a faulty way.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Will the private Deputy now introduce some arguments appropriate to the Fifth Stage of this Bill?

[737]Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The answers we get from the Minister are few and far between.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am sure the Deputy could say a word about librarians.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I am not interested in them at the moment. I think the Minister got his fill of librarians on the Second Stage. If the Minister were making alterations in the system of local government at the request of the local authorities generally, then there would be some sense in his legislation. In this instance, however, the Minister is out for the purpose of securing to himself dictatorial powers and he will insist that local authorities shall be merely puppets. He will pull the strings from Merrion Street and they will dance to the tune. That is what is being attempted and it is about time that the members of this House took up a definite attitude in regard to the Minister. The ratepayers elect representatives to carry out certain functions in conjunction with the requirements of their areas and not in the manner which the Minister desires. He sits in his snug office in the Custom House, and in many cases he knows nothing at all about the districts concerned. The Minister did interject and ask what about the librarian.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Deputy has been speaking for seventeen minutes and he has only made one observation relevant to the Fifth Stage of this Bill.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  And that observation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I will not tell the Deputy what it was. It was on the right lines, but he went off them immediately.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Sometimes one looks at the Minister in the hope that by looking at him one may get inspiration.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Deputy should take a good look at him now.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I am afraid I must confess that I have looked at him for seventeen minutes; I have not been able to get inspiration, and so I will sit down.

[738]Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  I am opposing this measure. If it is the declared policy of the Government to complete the humiliation and shame that have been already heaped on the heads of certain of our citizens, then, of course, I can quite understand it is the natural corollary to the Cork City Management Act and to the Greater Dublin Act. We find in Section 2 of this Bill that the Minister is empowered, after having dissolved a local authority, to make by order such provision as he thinks necessary or proper and to appoint a person or persons to undertake the duties of this local authority. I take it that that, translated into every-day language, means that the Minister would have power to appoint a commissioner. I have had some experience as a citizen of Cork of the commissioner system, and of the city management system under a manager. I have experience of the Corporation, aldermen and councillors elected with the town manager by the Appointments Commissioners—in the case I refer to the name of the City Manager was mentioned in the Act. That experience, however, does not alter my attitude in this matter one iota. I want to say nothing personal against the City Manager or against any other manager in Dublin or Cork appointed under the Act to which I refer. It is the system which I am attacking, a system which has borne very bad fruit in the City of Cork, for which I speak. I do not want to go into what has occurred here in Dublin, but I do know that the operations of this Act, as we find it in Cork City, have led to a lessening of that civic spirit and that civic responsibility about which we have heard so much in this State.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Surely, sir, we cannot discuss the Cork City Management on this Bill?

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  I submit that this Bill bears a relation to, and is part of, the scheme of city management by the Minister.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I submit it has nothing to do with it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  It has nothing to do with city management at all.

[739]Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  Experience goes to show that wherever the State has interfered with public bodies, then when elections are taking place only a very small percentage of the electorate go to the polls. It might be answered by the Minister, and very likely it will be said by the Minister, that this apathy is in itself a tribute to the system which he has set up. We have another Bill here further consolidating that position. But I take it that it is the aim of good government to inculcate a spirit of civics and good citizenship in the citizens. I do suggest to the Minister and to this House that this Bill will go a long way towards negativing that spirit and every exhibition of good citizenship that may show itself in the near future, and that instead of encouraging the spirit of citizenship in the people it will discourage that spirit. I want to know from the Minister whether that is good or bad for this State.

I said that it was far better, even if those local councils make mistakes from time to time, to give the citizens of the particular area or district an opportunity even of another election. After all, there is some similarity between Dáil elections and local elections. If and when a big Party or a small Party for that matter, in the Dáil makes a mistake they are frequently called to order by their constituents. If the present Government makes a mistake——

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  (Clare): If?

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  —or if they embark on any legislation which is unpopular they would have to go to the country for re-election. Nobody yet has said, except Deputy McDonogh, that the Dáil should be dissolved. Why should not the same system operate in the case of the urban or borough or county council or any other body locally appointed to administer the affairs of the citizens? A case may arise where it would be absolutely necessary to have a Commissioner take charge for a period when the citizens of that particular area might be trusted to elect the right and proper persons to represent them in that council. Let us take the case of a small council. Take the [740] case of Deputy Sheehy, for whom I have the greatest respect. Take his own little town of Skibbereen, the metropolis of the West, as he is fond of calling it; let us say that for some reason or another that that very useful and popular council there was dissolved. That council is composed of very good citizens. What would Deputy Sheehy's attitude be if that council were dissolved? I feel sure he would not begin his speech when he found that the Bill operated in this way, by glorifying and almost deifying our glorious young Minister, General Mulcahy.

Mr. Sheehy:  I rise to a point of order. The Ceann Comhairle will permit me to refresh the Deputy's memory, and to remark that I have been a member of that body for the last 45 years. I was re-elected seventeen times, and I was several times chairman of that council, and during all that period of our administration we had no occasion to get any restrictions from any Department of State, and if every other council did their work in the same way there would be no occasion for dissolving them or for Bills of this sort.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I take it now that Deputy Anthony has been successful; perhaps he would leave Skibbereen and come on to the Bill.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  I did not intend drawing the badger in that way at all. I wanted to relate some of the happenings in the Free State within the last couple of years, and to point out what is about to occur under this Bill, and I instanced the case of Skibbereen, that glorious metropolis of the West——

Mr. Sheehy:  Bravo!

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  —of which Deputy Sheehy is so proud.

Mr. Sheehy:  The whole country is proud of Skibbereen, the birthplace of O'Donovan Rossa and other great Irishmen.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  It is a model for all towns and has produced the most model men.

[741]Mr. Sheehy:  We started the Phoenix Society there, and we produced the Fenian men.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  And if they all came up out of their ashes they would say they were proud of Skibbereen and proud of Deputy Sheehy.

Mr. Sheehy:  The Deputy cannot sneer at Deputy Sheehy nor at Skibbereen. The Deputy will never rise to their standard.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  I have risen a fairly long way anyway. I have already said that I look upon this Bill as a corollary to the other humiliations the Minister puts on our citizens. I want to know from the Minister whether, after his experience now of two other Acts of a kindred nature, namely, the Cork City Management Act and the Greater Dublin Act, where he has the power to dissolve, he thinks this is a Bill that will be for the benefit of the country.

I think he will go down in history as the Seidlitz-powder Minister, for the word “dissolve” is so often used in his Bill that I feel the Minister will have that sobriquet attached to him for the remainder of his career. He fizzles up here frequently after the application of the blue paper. I think this Bill is so much fizz also, and that it will be found in practice to be unworkable. One thing I will ask the Minister to consider is how long the people of this country are going to tolerate such matters as interference with borough councils and other representative bodies which he seeks to dissolve on the slightest pretext. Is it because there are numbers of hangers-on in his own Party who want jobs? Is it because there are many hangers-on in the country? I know some of them who are waiting open-mouthed for these jobs. I want to know what will be the Minister's reply to that. Perhaps it may be that he has already in his eye one or two councils that he wishes to dissolve and has partisans or carpet-baggers of his own Party to put into the jobs. That is what has occurred. No one will deny it. The people are getting suspicious, for very good reasons. We have it day after day occurring where even under Article 10 [742] of the Treaty certain people got out because they were invalided and are now working in the Cumann na nGaedheal Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  That has nothing whatever to do with the Bill. The Deputy cannot possibly relate Article 10 of the Treaty to this Bill. It simply cannot be done, even by Deputy Anthony, and he is ingenious enough.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  Before ever that Treaty was introduced I want to say there was a greater measure of freedom under John Bull than under this Bill. John Bull never attempted to suppress your local bodies, but it remains for the Minister for Local Government, General Mulcahy, to introduce a measure of coercion that was never attempted by even Buckshot Foster or Balfour. Then we have a Free State forsooth! The people of the towns and cities are getting so disgusted with this class of legislation because of the fact that every vestige of freedom and power is being taken from them, that the Minister might consider whether there is not such a thing as reaction to this kind of treatment.

Let me say here, as one who does not pretend to know much about psychology, that this kind of legislation has a cumulative effect on the people, and it would be far better for the Minister for Local Government to allow those safety valves of public opinion operate rather than shut them down and have their activities directed into another channel. That is the position I would like the Minister for Local Government to examine very carefully, whether he is not, by this class of legislation, creating the very thing he seeks to destroy; in other words, a discontent is growing in this country which I and many other people like me have done our very best to put a stop to, because we do know that that unrest is finding expression in a way most unacceptable to the Free State and which, if allowed to develop, would be one of the greatest menaces to the Free State.

Unless you have these safety valves in towns and cities in the Free State that activity which has been squelched and squeezed out by the Minister [743] must find an outlet, and if there was any sense of statesmanship in the Minister for Local Government he would see to it rather than stifle and suppress and, to use the words in the Bill, “dissolve these councils” for every little fault they may be guilty of. Rather than that, his aim should be to stimulate public opinion, stimulate the civic spirit, and stimulate a sense of responsibility in the people. This is the negation of all civic spirit and responsibility, and instead of allowing local government to continue, even as it was allowed to operate under John Bull, he has taken from it the last vestige of representative power it had. By all means dissolve the councils if they are unfriendly to the Cumann na nGaedheal Government! Does he even think out what would be the logical result of such conduct? Assuming that Fianna Fáil come into power tomorrow, they will have the powers under this Bill; to me it is immaterial; any flag will do. It does not matter whether you call this a Republic or a Free State or whether Deputy de Valera or President Cosgrave is in power. If this is the class of legislation that is going to be produced in the Dáil, the representative Chamber of this country, it does not matter to me what you call your State, a Republic or Free State. There is no freedom disclosed in a motion of this kind. It is no manifestation of freedom. Rather is it a manifestation of coercion and oppression, and it makes no secret of it. I would ask the Minister to look into this and see if a continuation of this type of legislation will have the favourable reaction on the country which he thinks it will have.

I suggest that the only reaction to this is a spirit of revolt and a spirit that is finding expression, and will continue to find expression, in the wrong way. It would be far better to allow those councils, even though they may make a slip, to continue to function and act as the natural safety valves of the community which they represent. We have, in reply to that sentiment of our own people, openly expressed in the ballot boxes, the answer of the [744] Minister for Local Government in a Bill to extend and define the powers of the Minister for Local Government in relation to local authorities dissolved by him—another constructive effort on the part of Cumann na nGaedheal.

Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Before the Minister replies, there is a matter which he mentioned in his speech at the end of the Second Reading that I want to refer to. I taxed him with having turned his back on a principle for which he was supposed to stand some years ago, in regard to local government, and his excuse was that one of the principles he stood for was to have a national civil service. A national civil service, as we understood it, is quite consistent with leaving to local authorities the full power to manage their own affairs without the constant interference of Ministers for Local Government. What did we understand by national civil service, including in that local officials? What we understood, of course, by it was that servants of local authorities would be selected on their capacity to do their work and would have conditions of service similar to the conditions under which the ordinary civil servant operates. There is no inconsistency in that and leaving to local authorities the powers that we desire to leave them. We object to the system of appointments that is operating at present, because it goes much farther than that. We were anxious to see that the servants of local authorities would, every one of them, be qualified for their work, and that where competitive examination could be used as a test of ability— whilst we did not admit that it was an absolute test, still it is the best that we could get—it should be operated. Clerkships and so on could all be filled by competitive examination where the examination was designed to test the ability of the candidates for the particular type of work that they were to be engaged in. That is what I understood by national civil service, and I stand for that to-day.

I made it quite clear in the case of the Local Appointments Bill that where there were appointments of a [745] technical character for which the ordinary competitive system would not be available, that there should be such tests as would make it certain that nobody who was not qualified to do his work would be appointed. I hope our attitude in that matter is clearly understood, that we do not support any system in which incompetent people would be put in to do work which requires competent people to do, as all work does if it is to be done effectively. I hope there is no misunderstanding as far as that is concerned. The whole question is this: Is the system of the Local Appointments Commission going to get you the men you want, and to get the best men for their work? We have objected to this centralisation, because we believe that the evils that were attached to it are greater than the evils that were attached to the other system, and that a system can be devised by which both of these evils can largely be eliminated. We do not want to deprive any local authority of the right to make a request to a central examining body for the best qualified person, in their opinion, to be named for them, but we do not want at the same time to put it in the power of the central authority, without consultation with the local authority, to say that this particular position must be filled by A, B or C.

As Deputy Anthony pointed out, there is a very strong suspicion abroad, a suspicion which each of us in our own experience and in our own observation, and from our own contact with individuals has confirmed, a suspicion that there is not fair play being given in these appointments. I will give you an example myself.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Surely the Deputy does not think that the Local Appointments Commissioners are under discussion?

Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I agree with the Ceann Comhairle. My remarks are not relevant, I will admit, to the Bill, but they are relevant to the remarks that were made by the Minister for Local Government in his concluding speech on the Second Reading Stage.

[746]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Surely the Deputy does not think that on the Fifth Stage of this Bill we can discuss the Local Officers and Employees Act?

Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Except in so far as it is a fair example of what is going to follow from this centralisation of power and the use of the powers which the Minister is seeking in this Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Minister for Local Government has no function at all in that matter. He has no material on which to reply and it is not his function to reply.

Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I must disagree that he has no function.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  No function to reply for the acts of the Local Appointments Commissioners.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The Local Appointments Commissioners, with all respect, are subject to the Local Government Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  In no way.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The Appointments Commissioners report their selections and it is certain officials of that Department who are in charge.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Not at all.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  In fact, it is so.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  It is not so, in fact or in theory. The Minister for Local Government has no responsibility in the House for the acts of the Local Appointments Commissioners. Questions about the acts of the Local Appointments Commissioners are answered by the President because the Commissioners are appointed by the Executive Council. Deputy de Valera himself agrees that it is not relevant on this Bill and it is no use labouring the point. Questions as to the acts of the Local Appointments Commissioners cannot be answered on this Bill at all.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Why is it then that the Minister for Local Government sends a sealed order or a mandamus to a local authority when they refuse to carry out the recommendation or [747] orders of the Local Appointments Commissioners?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  It is not for the Chair to answer that question.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Because the Minister for Local Government is charged with seeing that local bodies carry out their statutory duties. It is a statutory duty of local authorities that they shall appoint the persons recommended to them by the Local Appointments Commission to fill vacancies that the Local Appointments Commissioners have been asked to recommend persons to fill.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Then the Minister for Local Government has no connection with the Local Appointments Commissioners?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Minister for Local Government has no responsibility in the House for answering for the acts of the Local Appointments Commissioners.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  That is another thing.

Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I quite agree with the Ceann Comhairle that what I was saying was not strictly relevant. The only reason why I introduce it at all is that it is indicative of the difference in the attitude of the Minister towards local government and the attitude of the majority, at least, of members on this side of the House. I had hoped to be able to see how far we could, so to speak, go together upon the one road and then see exactly where we diverged. I was taking the case of the Local Appointments Commission and was about to give examples, but I will not do it because to continue that would really not be in order. I do not think, however, that the Minister has repudiated these words. He is guilty of an extraordinary statement here, which Deputy O'Kelly read out at the beginning of the debate, and I would like to know whether he is just fooling about it, talking with his tongue in his cheek, or whether there is not some principle behind what he has said which it would be well for us to understand. [748] He says that the aim was to secure for the country whatever benefits could be obtained by getting local people to do all the local work under the most favourable conditions. I am sure there is nobody in this House who would disagree with any Bill the purport of which was simply that—“to secure for the country whatever benefits could be obtained by getting local people to do all the local work under the most favourable conditions.” That, to my mind, is what we ought to aim at. If the Minister only tried to aim at that, and if his legislation were tending in that direction, he would certainly find no opposition from the majority of members on this side of the House, because that must be the aim. But how can we get these people to work? Are they to be mere automatons, mere marionettes? Are we going to have a system at the central headquarters by which we press a button and get these people to dance and do what we want? Even the most typical militarist mind would not conceive the possibility of such a thing. Even where you have a large number of people regimented as in an army the best executive head of an army would not seek to make automatons of his officers and men and try to get them to march to whatever individual special directions he gave. At best he would give a general outline of what he wanted to be done and there would be then a system of general education by which the individuals concerned would use their own brains in carrying out the work. But the Minister steps in and tries to do what even a superman could not do. He tries to determine for the local area what are the best policies, and who are the best officials, and interferes in their work in a way which is beyond his power and the power of any man. There are limits even to Fordisation, as Ford himself has admitted. Instead of trying to have one central machine, because he recognises that there is a limit to the power of one person to supervise, he has had to allow a certain number of independent departments to be built up. If we want to keep within the limits of [749] human possibility we must give up this idea of trying to centralise things at headquarters.

We had an example the other day which shows how impossible it is for central officials to know exactly what is being done. There was a case put up by Deputy O'Reilly about the flooding of the Boyne and Blackwater. That has been going on for no less than four years to the knowledge of everybody locally. It was a matter of concern to the local authorities for four years. But when the Parliamentary Secretary was asked a question about it he did not know whether there had been any representations made by the County Council, although the County Council had been prepared to put up their share of the money for the work. That is what is bound to happen when people take upon themselves more than can be humanly done. Let us recognise our human limitations and put some stop to this greed and lust for power and concentrating everything into our own hands.

The other aspect of it was dealt with very well by other Deputies. Apart from the impossibility of the task which the Department of Local Government are taking upon themselves, the whole tendency is a bad one from the point of view of the welfare of the people. The natural training ground for public administration, the natural school from which our national administrators ought to come is from the local bodies, and if you let these people feel that they have no power or responsibility, if you are, in effect, wiping them out, if you are giving them officers whom they recognise as their masters and not their servants, what is going to happen? You are certainly going to fit a certain number of people to be sent in here later as representatives who will sit silently by and allow the Ministry to do the whole work without any help and without any check by criticism or otherwise. You are sapping that whole spirit of self-reliance of our people in public affairs. You are bringing about a state of affairs like that in America and elsewhere, where the ordinary citizen stands aside and feels that he is helpless, feels that there are two [750] machines there, and that it is a case of Tweedledum and Tweedledee; that, as far as his life and liberty and livelihood are concerned, it matters very little to him who are the “ins” or the “outs.” Such a thing in a large country may be an evil which is unavoidable. But here in this country it is avoidable. This assumption of superiority on the part of Ministers, and on the part of some Deputies, is altogether unwarranted. The members of local councils have just as much brains and ability as Deputies and Ministers.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Ho! ho!

Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  There is no “Ho! ho!” about it.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Indeed there is.

Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  There are just as good men in local bodies in this country, and they are as valuable for local affairs as there are on any of these benches. We hear the same sort of nonsense about civil servants, that we cannot get civil servants unless we pay them £1,500 per year. There are as good brains going out in the emigrant ship for want of opportunity as there are in any of these posts. It is a question of giving them the opportunity. The whole of this legislation tends to deny opportunity to the ordinary citizen to develop upon proper lines, to give the best service that is in him to the community as a whole.

Let us come back to the Minister's words: “To secure for the country whatever benefits can be obtained by getting local people to do all the local work under the most favourable conditions.” Let us stick to that and try to do it and not do what the Minister does in the next part of the sentence, make a mockery of it by bringing in a Bill at this time and then using these words, “so that they could work on proper lines when carrying out of their own volition all the things that they want to do.”“Carrying out of their own volition!” The man who uses these words brings in a Bill which puts it into his power to prevent them from carrying out the things of their own volition. They have to do as his [751] puppets may order them to do. When they try to do things in their own way, when they try to make appointments that will give satisfaction in their own areas, and do the best for their own people, the Minister steps in and says “That appointment must not be made, no matter how qualified the person is; it must be made in accordance with the law,” and he makes the law because his Party happens to be in the majority. That is the position. As far as we are concerned, we mean to resist that tendency as strongly as we can whenever it shows its head.

We are opposing this measure now. It does not matter if the Minister passes it, because, so far as we are concerned, amongst the legislation that will go, as surely as a majority comes to this Party, anyhow is this; that is if there is to be this interference with local authority. I do not wish to have any misunderstanding upon this. It is possible to get a system by which nobody will be appointed to a local position who is not qualified. I want that made clear. There is to be no back door by which people not qualified are to come in, and it is not suggested, in our opposition to the appointments made, that the people were not qualified in the sense that they did not know the technique of their work. We have not suggested that, but what is suggested is that there is favouritism in these appointments, and that such favouritism is bound to result when you have it in the power of a body, practically sitting in secret, to tell a local body that they must take this particular person and none other. The moment you leave the choice open you prevent anything of that kind. The possibility of favouritism is, to a large extent, ended the moment there is a choice left, but when you say that this is the person and none other, you are opening the door to favouritism. From the point of view of control, the local people will certainly be able to control their officials. You may call a man a manager or a secretary, I do not care a pin, for that is not the point; so long as the local people can control and can see the work they want carried out satisfactorily by the [752] officials it is all right. But does any Deputy think that the Minister for Local Government, sitting in his office in Dublin, with the variety of things that he has to do, depending as he must do on the reports he receives from members of his own staff, is in a position properly to supervise the local manager, and yet the local manager knows it does not matter what he does so long as he has the car of the Minister. We object to this type of legislation and intend on every possible occasion to object to it.

[Professor Thrift took the Chair.]

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Deputy de Valera seems to suggest that the Minister makes all appointments. The Deputy must know that the appointments made to local authorities are made through the means of a selection board, and this board supplies the candidates, after a very careful examination, in the order of merit. I remember in the old days of the Sinn Fein movement the aim of Deputy de Valera and those associated with him was that merit alone should count in these cases, and my vote, when I gave it in the pre-Truce days for Sinn Fein, was very much influenced by that particular principle. Deputy de Valera and his Party have made it almost necessary that we should have an Appointments Commission and a Local Authorities Officers and Employees Act, for the very reason that his Party stands for manning the county councils, so far as they can, with their own supporters. Now I ask will every candidate have a fair chance if Deputy de Valera succeeds in manning local bodies with his own supporters? Will not his supporters vote for people of the same political colour as themselves? These are the things that concern me.

I know very well that Deputy de Valera's Party has succeeded very well in a number of the appointments made by the Commission, and those who hold his views have received appointments simply because they were good men and deserved the appointments. I would be very sorry that anything should preclude even the followers of Deputy de Valera when they have the merit from these appointments.

[753]Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Therefore that is not the reason we object.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  I also know that on the selection boards there are quite a number of Deputy de Valera's supporters. I do not say they are actuated by politics. They are not actuated by politics when making these selections. Independent bodies outside the selection boards are very jealous of the qualifications of the men appointed, and inquire into them when they are appointed. Thus I say on the whole all these appointments are made on merit. Then the Minister is criticised for adopting such a policy. That policy has encouraged men, instead of seeking after political and other influences with the local authorities, to do post-graduate work, and all this post-graduate work is in the interest of the public. Certainly nobody can challenge the fact that the local authorities, and the poor people entrusted to their care, never got such good medical men as they are getting under the present Minister for Local Government and Public Health.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I wish the Deputy would qualify that.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  The Deputy will have an opportunity of speaking.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Unfortunately I will not. Would the Deputy say that all the medical appointments—I will confine myself to medical appointments— made under the present system have been successful and beneficial for the poor?

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  They have been better for the poor.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I could give the Deputy several instances showing they are not.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  I know that the very best medical men have been appointed for the poor. I know that they have qualified themselves in addition to their ordinary qualifications, and that they have done special and most expensive post-graduate work to secure these appointments.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I do not deny what [754] the Deputy has said, but what I do question is, his general statement that under the present system all the medical men were much superior to those appointed under the previous system. I know definite cases where the local medical appointments have been calamities in their area.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  Many of them do not care a jot about the poor.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  There may be a mishap, but it is limited to one. It is inevitable, and where a medical man is a calamity it is due to some flaw in his character, not discoverable at the time.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I would like to intervene here and to say that there is no medical officer in a position in this country, who is a calamity to the knowledge of the Department here, and if there is we will undertake to deal with him. There may be doctors in this country, of whom people will say in conversation they are calamities, but if the Minister for Local Government set up an inquiry to inquire into the position, they will not come forward and give the evidence on which they base their conversational statements. There may be that in it, but I assure the House, if there are doctors describable as calamities in public positions, I am prepared most dictatorially to deal with them.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  May I again intervene?

Acting-Chairman:  No, it is quite outside the scope of the Bill.

Mr. O'Kelly: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I know.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  The mere fact of the Party opposite trying to get all their nominees elected to man the local authorities, shows that there is necessity for the methods of the Minister for Local Government. I believe our present Minister is one of the severest disciplinarians we have had in my experience of local government for the last thirty-five years.

Mr. de Valera: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I made a statement which I want to make clear now. I did not say that we set out to get a majority of our representatives on the [755] local boards. It is left to the local areas to determine whether or not they should do that. Leaving that aside, what I want to say is we do not set out to get a majority of our people on the local bodies for the purpose of trying to secure local appointments. Not for one single moment was there any suggestion of that kind, that our purpose was that we were out to man the local staffs with our appointees; nothing of the kind.

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  You want to secure the majority on the local boards.

Mr. S. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  We were honest, and we declared that we would try to get a majority on the councils, but the Cumann na nGaedheal Party tried to do that in an underhand manner. That is the difference.

Mr. Carey: Information on Edmond Carey  Zoom on Edmond Carey  It is a bad job you did man the councils.

Mr. Jordan:  Mention the council on which is has been a bad job.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  This Bill does not enshrine any new theory. The Local Government Act of 1925, under Section 72, which deals with the dissolution of local bodies and the appointment by the Minister of a person or persons to take their places, also provides in sub-section (6) that the Minister may from time to time by order do all such things and make all such regulations as in his opinion shall be necessary to give full effect to any order under the section. Under the Act of 1923, the same section appears as sub-section (6) of Section 12. A recent judgment of the court made it clear that under these Acts when a body, say when a county council, was in the position that its mental hospital business was discharged by a committee consisting jointly of members of that council and of another council, and if that county council was dissolved for adequate reasons under either of these Acts, it was not possible to have a mental hospital committee or to get the work of the mental hospital committee carried out at all. Implied in the judgment was also the fact that if the matter was before [756] the court they might decide that under similar circumstances, in the circumstances, say, of a county council being dissolved for adequate reasons, the Board of Health work could not possibly be carried out.

The previous Acts of 1923 and 1925 did not intend that when a county council was dissolved, the Board of Health work should be let go by default, that nothing should be done about it, that the mental hospital committee work was going to be left in the air and completely discontinued. This Bill is to provide adequate machinery necessary to carry out the intentions of the Acts of 1923 and 1925. When persons talk about the consequences of the Acts, of which in fact it is the result, and the actions taken under Section 12 of the Act of 1923 and Section 2 of the Act of 1925, to put commissioners in the place of local bodies if they were not discharging their duties satisfactorily, I would ask them to go down to Ennis and to Trim or if they do not want to go to Kerry, Offaly, Leitrim, Dublin or Cork——

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  It was calamitous for Cork anyhow.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The question of the Local Appointments Commission and their work has been raised in this particular way. I have nothing to say with regard to that but to ask Deputies to look at the consequences of that Act. You can look from one end of the country to the other.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  And look at thousands in one-roomed tenements in Cork City.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Who are the people who will be instrumental in dealing with the important aspect of the bad housing problem except the county medical officers of health—the dispensary doctors, detached and emancipated from local interference, that, in the past, prevented their pointing out too glaringly things that required to be pointed out or discharging too markedly the duties that fell on them as sanitary officers? You can go from one end of the country to the other and see the effects of that Act.

[757]Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  The Corporation does not accept that, anyway.

Mr. Carey: Information on Edmond Carey  Zoom on Edmond Carey  The old Corporation did nothing.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  You know nothing about it.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  We do not come here with our tongues in our cheeks. We do not run the country simply on words.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  What about all these Bills—four Bills in a short time?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  We are not asking you to read the Bills and to talk about their excellence one way or another. We are asking you to look at the results in the country. If Deputy de Valera has his own ideas as to how a national civil service for the country should be run, we have ours. We stand over them and we put them into operation. We are asking you to judge us not on our words—whether they be words in regard to the powers and responsibilities of local bodies or as to the conceptions of a national civil service—but we ask you to look at our actions and their results. Those who criticise the present Local Appointments Commission should really read the Act that deals with the matter, because it is impossible to take seriously representations made by Deputies in regard to the Local Appointment Commissioners and their work. They show what is plainly to be seen here, that they have no conception as to what is in the Act. Deputy Hogan asked us whether we in the Department of Local Government are not running the affairs of the Department out of touch with local bodies, unadvised by local bodies. We have the closest possible association both with members of local bodies and with officials of local bodies, and, where it is necessary to bring them into confidence on major matters, it is my policy and the policy of the Department to do so. We do not bring them into conference to ask them general questions as to what local administration requires. We bring them to discuss with us either the details of local problems in which they are interested, [758] or the general problems that may perhaps affect the roads of the county, the public health of the county, the poor law system, the housing system or the clean milk system.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  (Clare): Will the Minister tell us whom he summons to these conferences and how he chooses them? Does he pick out people who, he thinks, are likely to agree with him, or does he choose them from various councils irrespective of what they think?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  We summon people whom we think proper to be summoned to discuss problems we are dealing with, and we do not face local government administration from a Party point of view.

Mr. Hogan:  I am afraid you do.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am not concerned with the Deputy's fears. If the Deputy will take any particular piece of local government administration, either in Co. Clare or elsewhere, and point out the Party aspect of any action of the Department of Local Government I will be prepared to discuss that matter with him here, where a definite opportunity can be provided for it. It does not help the running of local government properly to raise these matters in a general way on a Bill in regard to which the Deputy has not gone to the trouble to see that it does not embody any new theory.

Mr. Hogan:  I said that if I thought that this was the proper place and that now was the proper time, I would indicate to the Minister representations which have been dealt with in a partisan manner by his Department.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Deputy has never done it.

Mr. Hogan:  I have no opportunity now.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I would be very glad to hear of any case in which the administration of the Department is challenged, either by any member of this House, by any member of a local body, or by a local body itself, as having been carried out on a Party [759] basis in any way. I do not think that either Deputies or members of any local bodies can say that we are unwilling or do not readily receive representations from them and go to the greatest pains to get down to rock bottom, either as to the facts or as to the best methods of dealing with any plans they may have. I am glad to hear Deputy O'Kelly quote the local [760] Press. I hope that he will put himself into a better position to make more extensive use of what is to be found there, whether as to criticism, praise or appreciation, or simply statements of ordinary facts with regard to the work of the country and the lives of the people, because that can be got in a very unbiased and objective way in the local Press.

Aird, William P.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Blythe, Ernest.
Bourke, Séamus A.
Brodrick, Seán.
Byrne, John Joseph.
Carey, Edmund.
Coburn, James.
Cole, John James.
Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
Conlon, Martin.
Connolly, Michael P.
Cosgrave, William T.
Craig, Sir James.
Daly, John.
Doherty, Eugene.
Dolan, James N.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John.
Dwyer, James.
Egan, Barry M.
Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
Fitzgerald, Desmond.
Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
Gorey, Denis J
Hassett, John J.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hennessy, Thomas.
Hennigan, John.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Holohan, Richard.
Jordan, Michael.
Keogh, Myles.
Law, Hugh Alexander.
Leonard, Patrick.
Lynch, Finian.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
McDonogh, Martin.
McFadden, Michael Og.
McGilligan, Patrick.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Mulcahy, Richard.
Murphy, Joseph Xavier
Myles, James Sproule.
O'Connell, Richard.
O'Connor, Bartholomew.
O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
O'Leary, Daniel.
O'Mahony, The.
O'Reilly, John J.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Redmond, William Archer.
Reynolds, Patrick.
Roddy, Martin.
Shaw, Patrick W.
Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
Tierney, Michael.
White, John.
White, Vincent Joseph.
Wolfe, George.
Wolfe, Jasper Travers.

Anthony, Richard.
Boland, Gerald.
Boland, Patrick.
Briscoe, Robert.
Carney, Frank.
Carty, Frank.
Clery, Michael.
Colbert, James.
Corkery, Dan.
Crowley, Tadhg.
Davin, William.
Derrig, Thomas.
De Valera, Eamon.
Fahy, Frank.
Fogarty, Andrew.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Hayes, Seán.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Houlihan, Patrick.
Jordan, Stephen.
Kent, William R.
Killilea, Mark.
Kilroy, Michael.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Maguire, Ben.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacEntee, Seán.
Moore, Séamus.
Mullins, Thomas.
Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
O'Connell, Thomas J.
O'Kelly, Seán T.
O'Reilly, Matthew.
Ryan, James.
Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
Walsh, Richard.
Ward, Francis C.

[761] Question declared carried.


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