Wednesday, 5 July 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
the expression “the Act of 1924” means the Dáil Eireann Loans and Funds Act, 1924 (No. 3 of 1924); the expression “payment on account” means a sum actually or substantively paid by the Receivers appointed by the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the United States of America in respect of subscriptions to the External Loans and includes a sum for which the said Receivers gave in respect of such subscriptions any security, negotiable instrument, or bill of exchange or anything in the nature of a security, negotiable instrument, or bill of exchange;
In line 33, page 2, to delete all after the word “includes” and to insert “the meaning given to it by the Act of 1924, but does not mean or include any person claiming through or under a subscriber other than a person lawfully claiming on the death of a subscriber as the personal representative, or one of the next of kin, or a beneficiary under the will of a subscriber of a bona fide purchaser for an amount of not less than 60 per cent. of the face value of the subscriber's subscription.”
It will be remembered that on the Second Reading of this Bill I urged a number of alternative courses. One was that this was not a prudent time to pay back this money. The whole argument, as far as I can make out, in favour of paying it back was on the grounds that we, when we were the Government, had agreed that this money would be paid back. It was argued that the decision of the American courts had no bearing whatever on that. At the same time I should like to say that if it had happened that the American courts had given a verdict in favour of President de Valera, or Deputy de Valera as he was at the time, I do not think that any man in this country could have got up and said that when 2,500,000 dollars had been paid over to the head of an illegal organisation in this country, as the rightful recipient of it, that this Government or this State was bound to pay back this money.
I have put in an amendment now to safeguard the interests of the people who originally subscribed, and it is necessary to give some account of the way things came about. A good many of the members of this House will know the history of it. In 1919-'20 we raised this money in America. There is no doubt whatsoever that the majority of the people who subscribed did not do so on the understanding that they were  going to be repaid. The very receipt that they got indicated clearly that repayment was conditional upon a number of things that they had no right to expect would come about. I admit that the figures I have for these loans are not identical with those read out by the Minister, and I am quite prepared to believe that his figures are more correct than mine. This money was advanced to help us in our struggle here during those years. Deputy de Valera in America acted as the agent for the Dáil in collecting that money. The President made certain statements here the other day which I personally do not think were according to fact. He suggested that the people were given an undertaking that they would get back the money if the present position prevailing here came about. He said:—
“I could not have guaranteed what they would get back when they asked what they would get back. This I did guarantee, however, that if the Republic were established and the Irish people achieved the freedom which would enable them to honour debts which were floated in the name of the community as a whole—if they won out to that extent —the subscribers to the loan would be repaid, and repaid not merely with regard to the principal but to the interest.”
In other parts of his speech I understood him to imply, provided there was any Government here, that that money would be paid back. That was not the position at the time. The condition of repayment was set out in the receipt given to the people who subscribed the money. I will read that receipt as given in the American Journal of International Law of October 27th:—
“Republic of Ireland. Bond Certificate and............... To................ I, Eamon de Valera, President of the elected Government of the Republic of Ireland, acting in the name of and by the authority of the elected representatives of the Irish nation, issue this certificate in acknowledgment of your subscription of ............ dollars to the first national loan of the Republic of Ireland. This certificate  is not negotiable but is exchangeable if presented at the Treasury of the Republic of Ireland one month after the international recognition of the said republic for one $............... gold bond of the Republic of Ireland. Said bond to bear interest at 5 per cent. per annum from the first day of the seventh month after the freeing of the territory of the Republic of Ireland from Britain's military control and said bond to be redeemable at par within one year thereafter.
I pointed out that the argument was that this money should be paid back because when we were the Government we said it would be paid back. Now, if the courts had agreed with the affidavits sworn by Mr. de Valera you would have another position. I for one would strongly resist the payment of this money, which would have meant that 2,500,000 dollars would be handed over to the members of an illegal organisation, because when that affidavit was sworn it meant that Mr. de Valera was asserting that that 2,500,000 dollars should be handed over to him to have the spending of it. We are now told that if that had happened, the Free State that was going to be injured by that money was bound to pay it back to the people in America. I personally would have resisted that, irrespective of what my Party would have done, and I am quite satisfied that my Party would have resisted it also. But a certain amount of this money, a sum of 3,000,000 dollars or so, was spent prior to the Treaty. When the Treaty was signed, it will be remembered that the civil war followed and on the 14th of September, 1922, Mr. de Valera wrote to an agent named Murphy:—
“I notice new trustees are appointed. A statement from the Party should contain the fact that the new Dáil is not the legitimate successor to the old Dáil and calling upon the trustees to be faithful to their trust and not to hand over to the trustees of the Parliament of Southern Ireland moneys which were  subscribed to maintain the Republic. The funds are the property of the second Dáil, which has not yet been constitutionally dissolved. The need of a controlling executive in supreme command of the Republican movement is more and more urgent.”
In order that this State should get control of the residue of the money an action on our part was instituted in the United States of America. And that was sought to be prevented by Mr. de Valera. At a given time it became apparent to him that there was no chance of his side winning that case. It should be remembered that the case made and on which Mr. de Valera swore an affidavit was——
Mr. Fitzgerald: I think the President will find that if these things are not in the office here they are in the office of the Saorstát representative in America, where at a given stage the whole papers were. But if these documents are to be called in question, I am going to suggest to the President that all these papers should be printed together as the White Paper.
Mr. Fitzgerald: I have not the document, but I was the Minister for External Affairs at the time, and I was particularly responsible for the conduct of the case in America. To the best of my memory the affidavits were put in. The Ministers on the other side may remember that there were mentioned in  the report in the White Paper documents A and B.
The President: I say it is an extraordinary thing that ex-Ministers can pretend to quote—at least there was a suggestion of a quotation—from a document, and that while he can have these papers we here on the Government side cannot have them.
Mr. Fitzgerald: These documents are filed in the American courts. The affidavits were handed over to our counsel, and to the best of my memory they should now be in the Saorstát offices in Washington. If the President said that he swore no affidavit—well that is another matter. I remember perfectly well that arrangements had to be made with a man named Finnerty, who was constantly making trouble about seeing Mr. de Valera in Arbour Hill, when he was preparing that affidavit. The basis of that affidavit was that this State was not heir to the assets and liabilities of the first and second Dáil.
The President: I think the Deputy will be found to have said in his speech that I said that we or the people represented by the State did not owe that money. I want to see what the terms of the affidavit were.
The President: The Deputy said in  his statement here on the last day that I said that the State here did not owe that money. These are the very precise terms he used. I know what was in my own mind at the time.
Mr. Fitzgerald: The case was this: that certain moneys were in the American Trust Company in America. I demanded, as representing the Government here, that that money should he handed over to us. A defence was put up to that, to which Mr. Eamon de Valera, Mr. Stephen O'Mara and others were a party contesting our claim to that residue. Now our claim to the residue was by virtue of the fact that we, as successors to the previous Dáils, were heirs to the assets and were responsible for the liabilities of those Dáils. That was contested in the American courts and supported by affidavits from Mr. de Valera. The argument in the courts was that we were not heirs, that the Second Dáil was still in existence and purported to be the Government of the Republic, and that the struggle for the Republic was still going on. That was the case. If the President does not care to take my word for it, it will take me rather longer to put the case, and I shall have to quote from the American Journal of International Law of October a statement of the circumstances. There were two articles in that Journal dealing with the matter.
The President: I am going to make it clear that I am not going to accept a statement which would warrant this from the Deputy. I am not going to accept anything the Deputy will find in the Journal which would warrant this: He stated clearly: “The head of the Government has sworn an affidavit to say that this State does not owe that money.” I want a statement of that kind in precise terms. When a statement of that kind is made by the Deputy we are entitled to have it.
Mr. Fitzgerald: To the best of my knowledge, the actual documents are in the possession of the Government of which the President is head, though I admit it may be they are in the American office. The President has stated that he made no affidavit. The ease in the American courts was quite  clearly a case of rival parties claiming for this residue of money by virtue of being heirs and successors of the body to whom it was subscribed, which was the First and the Second Dáil. Our claim was that the Dáil set up in 1923 and the subsequent Dála were the natural followers on of the previous Dála. The case against us, which was run by Mr. de Valera and Mr. Finnerty, as counsel, was that we were not heirs. That was the whole case. If we were not the heirs to the residue then we were not heirs to the liability.
Mr. Fitzgerald: Does the President deny my deductions? The whole case was that that money was subscribed, not to any body to which this State was heir, but to a body to which there was no heir, namely, the Second Dáil, which was in existence as the Government of the Republic, still working to bring about the conditions under which that money was due to be repaid. That was the case. But what did that affidavit, imply? It implied that that Second Dáil was the heir. Mr. de Valera himself stated at the meeting of Cumann Teachtaí that he personally had never thought they had any chance worth mentioning of getting that money. At a given stage Mr. de Valera and others decided that the case would not be given in their favour; the claim of the Second Dáil to be still Government of the Republic would not be upheld in the American courts. Then another case was instigated by the President. I am reading from the White paper, documents A and B, issued in 1930, Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly speaking:—
“Later on, acting on instructions from here, and arising out of advice given by the lawyers, I was instructed to get formed a Bondholders' Committee, and that Committee took a practical form about April, 1925. With regard to the Trustee's case, I had several consultations with the lawyers concerned.... The main action debated on the courts one of the cases that was raised was to have the expenses of these lawyers paid  out of the funds, and they succeeded in getting a judge to give them a .... (?).”
Now, what did the bondholders' case consist of? The bondholders' case was that the purpose for which the money was subscribed had failed of attainment. The case was instigated, as Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly said in the White Paper, by the very members of the Government who now propose that the money be paid back. The argument was that there never was a Republic, that no Republic existed now, and that there was not a chance of a Republic, and that consequently the object for which the money was subscribed had failed. We, the Free State side, also instigated a case. The bondholders' case I referred to is usually known as the Hearn bondholders' case. We instigated other bondholders to go forward, and they are usually known as the Noonan bondholders. The case they put forward was that the residue should be banded over to the Free State Government, but only on condition that that Government would agree to pay back the full amount that had been advanced. The case of the Noonan bondholders was resisted on behalf of Mr. de Valera and others. What did the finding of the judge imply? Remember that the previous case was that there was a functioning Republic here, that the Government of it was still in existence, namely, the Second Dáil. When it was found that case could not be won, then the alternative was put up, that there never was a Republic and there was not a dog's chance of its becoming a Republic; the purpose for which the money was subscribed had failed, and. therefore, the residue should be handed back.
I wish it to be understood that I am not now questioning the honesty or sincerity of President de Valera. Unfortunately, however, I have not that accommodating mind that can affirm two contrary opinions at the same time; affirm, for instance, that Dáil Eireann No. 2 is in existence when if that is agreed to by the courts, it will give my Party the spending of 2,000,000 dollars; but if I find that it  is not likely to work out in that fashion, and the court will not so decide, then I have no hesitation in saying that there is no heir whatsoever and the purpose for which the money was obtained has not been achieved and, therefore, it should be given back to subscribers, while, incidentally, it would place a lot of money under my control. I will not say that there is anything at all improper in that, but I will say that most ordinary human beings would find it impossible to get their minds to assent to these two contrary opinions at the same time.
“The court reviewed the history of the republican movement in some detail and concluded that ‘the so-called Irish Republic never existed as a de facto government.’ It was ‘simply an organisation fostering a rebellion or revolt against the British Government in Ireland.’
It was contended for the Free State, in the second place, that it was entitled, in any event, as successor to the revolutionary group which raised the money. It was urged, indeed, that the Free State was ‘the continuation of the very Dáil Eireann’ which authorised the loan. This argument the court also rejected, taking the position that the Free State actually succeeded the preceding de jure Government of the United Kingdom in Ireland and not the unsuccessful rebel movement. ‘As Dáil Eireann did not succeed in establishing a de facto government,’ said Judge Peters, ‘it therefore did not displace the existing de jure government. It follows, therefore, that the Irish Free State succeeded the only Government in existence in Ireland at the time it came into being, to wit, the de jure Government of Great Britain and Ireland.'
“‘In the opinion of this court,’ said Judge Peters, ‘the only Government that had any claim of title whatsoever to these funds in the United States was the British Government, because the Dáil was in revolt against that Government, and  in none of the documents submitted to this court has there been shown any transfer of title whatsoever of any such claim by the British Government to the plaintiff, Irish Free State.’”
Incidentally, the finding of that court was based on the fact, according to the Judge, that the Government of this State could not put forward a plea that the British Government had handed over to us any claims they might have. As a matter of fact, according to the Transfer of Functions Order of April, 1922, and an Article of the Irish Free State Constitution clearly the finding of the court was wrong. Anyway, these people subscribed this money to bring about the setting up of an Irish Republic for the thirty-two counties with the last British troops off Irish territory. That situation has not been brought about. The people who subscribed the money, I do not think it will be contested, considered they were giving it as a gift and they did not expect it back, as Mr. Frank P. Walsh said in 1930.
These people not expecting to get this money back and possessing the very receipt for that money which told them that the bond was not negotiable, having seen the case fought in the courts and arguing from the situation that it did not warrant their being paid their money, did not put any monetary value at all upon the bonds they held. Consequently, thinking there was no value attaching to these bonds they were made the victims of very sharp practice that has brought about the transfer of apparently valueless documents to somebody else in exchange for something approximate to its value but in reality an exchange for nothing. That may have happened on a very large scale but there is one case that I know. It may have happened on a very large scale because in America sharp practices are easier worked than here where the law is more effective. When I know that some of the people associated with this business are people who made more out of the Irish national struggle for independence,  than anybody less favoured, and that there were various ways of getting this money off the poor into their own pockets it might easily be that these transactions were carried on on a larger scale than I know. There is only one case that I actually know of where people were induced to part with these bonds where they had a real monetary value and to part with them for nothing in return. I agree that these people may be written down as having some interest in the Irish Press.
Somewhere in April, 1931, Mr. de Valera was in America and, addressing people in the Carlton Hotel on the matter of giving up these bonds to be used for the funds of the paper he said in the course of his statement:—
“To do this we must get subscriptions from people at home and friends of Ireland; looking around in Ireland it was impossible to raise one million dollars for our paper from our people because of the money taken from the Irish people and not used to build up Irish enterprise. We are trying to get half of the money at home and to get half from friends in the United States. Irish people subscribed half a million within six weeks. There has been such a marvellous response because the Irish people realise it is something they want.”
It will be noted that although these people were parting with something that they considered valueless they were informed that it might be of some value to them. That practical contention was put forward in this way. They were informed that “the Irish Independent has a circulation of 125,000 copies, the evening edition 50,000 to 80,000 copies and the owners thought it well to try and save some of its capital. It belonged to members of a single family in 100,000 ordinary shares and 200,000 preferred common shares. They sold to the public the preferred shares and had to publish their accounts and these proved that they can pay 7½ per cent. dividend on preferred shares and can declare a  dividend of 5 per cent. on ordinary shares.”
Now, these people, understanding all along that they were never going to get their money back, that the American courts had declared that the conditions under which it was to be repaid to them had never been brought about, parted with their money. I only know, as I say, of one big case, but I have no doubt that it happened in many other cases. My amendment is for the purpose of seeing that those people who actually gave money in our hour of trial here are paid back, if the people of this country are to be taxed to give back the money to those people. My object is, at least, to see that the people who get the money are the people who ought to get it. Remember this, no one could pretend he put it across these people and got them to transfer knowing they were doing something which was outside the law, because the document I read states:
“This certificate is not negotiable but is exchangeable if presented at the Treasury of the Republic of Ireland one month after the international recognition of the said Republic for one $ ... gold bond of the Republic of Ireland; said bond to bear interest at 5 per cent. per annum from the first day of the seventh month after the freeing of the territory of the Republic of Ireland from Britain's military control.”
That seems to me to be a good case. It seems to me in our present condition that this is the wrong time to pay the money back but if we are to pay it we should see that we are doing some good and that our people who generously subscribed at the time the loan was raised should be the people who are to get the money back, if it is going to be  paid back. Last week, President de Valera said that we, when we were a Government, and now that we are in opposition, were trying to prevent those people using this money as they wanted to use it. We, not only did not want to prevent them using the money as they wanted to use it but we have not the power to do so. Once you give the money back to the people who subscribed it you have no control over it. We have no control over what use they make of the money once they get it back into their hands. What we protested against was that the money was not going back to them. It is the Party opposite that are trying to prevent them doing what they like with the money. We propose if the money is to be repaid it should be repaid back to the actual people who subscribed it—the people who got the bond which on the face of it was not negotiable. The Minister for Finance in the Officials Debates, column 1342, stated:
“Here is an obligation whose first basis, at any rate, is that of honour. People lent us money when no other people in the world would be prepared to advance a penny piece, in order that we might sustain the cause of the Irish people. It was advanced, as Deputy Minch has stated, in days when those who gave it had plenty of money but, owing to the change in the world circumstances, their position now is not as good as it was then. Most of those who gave that money did not make any assignment of rights regarding repayment.”
If he believes that these people gave as nobly and generously as he says, as we believe they did, why is not the money paid back to these people? What is the alternative? As I read out here last week there was an assignment and power of attorney drawn up by which those people were persuaded to part with this money which they considered valueless, and which now turns out to be valuable as a result of taxation to be imposed upon our people. Before those unfortunate people were allowed to handle a penny of the money or before they were  allowed to realise that there was a money value in it, care was taken that they should assign this money and that it should be sent on to Mr. de Valera, at a certain address, and that he should have power of attorney to sign the cheques, take possession of the money and use it for purposes different from those which had been intended. The issue was this: “In consideration of one dollar, lawful money of the United States”—and breaking the quotation for a moment, I want to say that that consideration is a legal form which it was necessary to put in and it does not imply that one dollar or any money at all was given. I know myself from people who were supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal that they were persuaded by the touts and canvassers that Mr. Cosgrave was very anxious that this cause should be assisted. I went into one place myself in Philadelphia and a man said “I am very glad to see you, there was a man in here last week.”“What is his name? Is it Aiken?”“I suppose it is.”“He said that Cosgrave was all out for this thing. I did not see how Cosgrave could be out for it.” I told him “The man who told you that is a liar and is trying to get your money under false pretences.”
Mr. Fitzgerald: As a matter of fact, when this man mentioned the thing to me I was not aware whether or not Mr. Aiken had been in America. But apart from that, there is a well-known writer in this country who lived for a very long time in America and, though he was not a strong supporter of Deputy Cosgrave, he was certainly a very strong objector to President de  Valera. Both he and I were very much surprised when a certain woman came over and said: “You remember the time I subscribed to that Loan? Well, remembering you and your devotion to the Irish cause I gave that bond to the Irish paper that is being established to help the Irish cause.” The unfortunate man, when he heard of this was considerably hurt about it.
Mr. Fitzgerald: I can hardly believe that the Government is going to resist the amendment because, as I read it, the people in the Carlton Hotel were given the atmosphere of 7½ per cent. preference shares and 5 per cent. ordinary shares for this thing owned by a private family who just floated these shares. This was put before them and a circular issued with Professor Tierney quoted, and learned clergymen quoted, in the name of a newspaper; the whole object being to  suggest that it was in support of a newspaper that Mr. de Valera was going to establish. He set out that it was necessary; that this was going to be tried with nothing excluded from it except in so far as they would need leadership, as far as the people themselves were concerned. There would be no other consideration and no exclusion of anything and, as Mr. de Valera said in his speech, he believed in publishing the facts. Anybody who reads the Irish Press will know how it always gives particular prominence to anything that would injure his Party! The Editor, of course, would never be guilty of knocking out anything that might not suit the policy and has never been known to say to a reporter that this must go in or that must go out! Last Friday, the Irish Press had a board meeting. The next day the Irish Press came out, believing, as usual, in giving the people all the facts. It did not mention all the facts.
|200,000 Ordinary Shares at £1||200,000||0||0|
183,783 Ordinary Shares at £1
|Less call in arrears||19,503||18||0||making||164,279||1||0|
|Cash received on a/c of shares not yet allotted||3,975||0||0|
|Shares to be allotted re National Newspaper||750||0||0||making||4,725||0||0|
|Munster and Leinster Bank Overdraft||19,506||10||2|
Mr. Fitzgerald: I will explain that in a moment, sir. Since this money is to be given back, as the President and the Minister for Finance said it is our duty that it should go back, and our hearts should go out to giving this money back to people who subscribed generously when they were affluent, and who are now in want, I propose that it should go to them and not be thrown into a bankrupt concern into which enough has been poured already.
|Premises, printing works and offices||40,866||10||9|
|Office and works, furniture||51,327||3||5|
|Less depreciation, plant and machinery||1,065||14||1|
|Motor vans, less depreciation||2,129||17||5|
|Stock, paper, ink, etc.||5,890||12||10|
|Cash on deposit and on hands||4,445||6||4|
|making a total of £143,337 2s. 1d.|
|Preliminary and organising expenses||18,140||13||0|
|Profit and Loss Account||59,386||18||7|
Now, these people who, when they parted with this thing which they thought was valueless, were presented with a picture in which 7½ per cent. on preference shares and 5 per cent. on ordinary shares figured, are faced with this. If we agreed to hand over this money without the stipulation that it must go back to the actual subscribers and not to the assignee, what is going to happen? They will not see their money. It is going to go into a business which started with a nominal capital of £200,000, and which has lost already in 16 months £59,386 18s. 7d. and on top of that loss, as the preliminary and organising expenses, we get £18,140 13s., and on top of that debts outstanding to the value of £37,611 17s. 3d. I know that the President will get very indignant if I suggest that a great part of these outstanding debts comes from the free copies sent all over this country.
Mr. Fitzgerald: I accept the President's word. We understand from the President that the £37,611 17s. 3d. outstanding is not due to sending papers round by his organisation to all sorts of people. Everybody here knows that people have been receiving these free copies. Would it not be a perfectly ridiculous thing that the money for these unfortunate people which is going to be taken out of the pockets of the unfortunate taxpayers here should be pitched into a concern which has been losing—the President will not contest it—in preliminary and organising  expenses £18,140 13s. plus outstanding debts of £37,611 and an overdraft of £19,506, raised, I understand, on its plant and possessions, and which apart from that owes £26,354.
It would be perfect madness for anybody who pretended to have any concern for those unfortunate people who subscribed this money to allow it to be kept out of their hands and put into the hands of President de Valera. He insists that all the money he got went into the Irish Press. I am not contesting that. What I do contest is any suggestion that he is perfectly disinterested with regard to the Irish Press. I suggest that the Irish Press—he will probably claim it himself—had something to do with the fact that he is at the present moment President of the Government here, which is not entirely an honorary office. I admit I speak with a certain amount of Cumann na nGaedheal feeling, but I put it to Deputies: Are they going to stand for the people who subscribed in 1919, 1920 and 1921 being deprived of their money, being deprived of any power to say what shall be done with this money when we proceed to pay it back? I ask any member of the Fianna Fail Party, or anybody else, would it not be right and proper to pay it back to these people? If these people want to pitch it into the Irish Press, if they feel that the Irish Press, having produced this Government and an economic war and other things, is something they want, there is nothing to prevent their doing it. All we are asking is that the subscribers themselves should handle the money and should themselves decide what they wish to do with it.
What does it mean to resist my amendment here? It means that there are certain interested people who desire, at any cost, to prevent the people who subscribed getting their money back lest they should not put it into that concern. President de Valera got up the other day and stated that anybody who knew him as well as I do must know that he was not a man who ever, in any circumstances, took a penny for his services to the State. It is very interesting to know that, and to watch that when we come  to the Estimate for the President's Department. He has an opportunity now of refuting what he says was suggested in my speech last week, that he has any self-interest in this matter. He has an opportunity now of showing his concern for these people who, as he said, so generously subscribed the money and who, owing to world circumstances, are no longer affluent. They need the money. The Minister for Finance, who talked at the end of his speech about these people, who might have had the money then, but have not got it now, and it would be very useful to them now in their days of comparative want and comparative need, has an opportunity now of letting them handle the money. Those people who have not felt the pressure of world circumstances can hand it back to keep the Irish Press going for another year or so, or until the next general election. But the other people who need it, will they get hold of the money?
I repeat again that the very bond that was handed over had written on the face of it that it was not negotiable; there was no money paid for it. The most they can get is President de Valera's goodwill. It is entirely in his hands. If he, in his excessive honesty, insists on paying that money into the Irish Press, the most they have is an interest in that concern which has not paid a dividend, which has not made any profit, and which has made a loss to the extent of half its capital. Anybody who cares for the welfare of these people would rather put it certainly in the Carlow Golf Club than in that. I admit that I am not entirely untainted by Party feeling, but I put it to every honest man in the Dáil, if he is going to vote against the amendment, that he should at least get up and say: “The wool was pulled over the eyes of these unfortunate people in America and the Irish Press has a chance of gripping that money, and I am going to see that it is gripped to keep it alive a little longer.” Let them be honest.
The President last week said that we were trying to dictate to these people what they should do with the  money. Nothing of the sort. There is one man trying to dictate what shall be done with the money and to dictate that it shall be spent just as he decided it shall be spent, and that is President de Valera if he is going to resist my amendment. The whole history in the last ten years in this matter is a disgraceful history. The President of his own act now admits that we are heirs to the assets and liabilities of the first and second Dáil. He contested that in the American court. He then promoted this Hearn bondholders committee to put in a claim based on the very contrary argument.
Mr. Fitzgerald: He is ready to declare both things which are mutually contradictory, which is quite right when the President does it. Deputies can read in documents A and B that at a comparatively early point in the proceedings the legal costs were over a quarter of a million dollars. These legal costs have been paid out of this money. When we pay back the money we have to pay the costs to the very people who vexatiously instigated these actions. President de Valera himself stated, as can be read in documents A and B, that he had always recognised and had always known that he and his Party had practically no chance whatever of getting a case in their favour. It was not only dirty in that way. It was thought quite permissible to try to do a little political graft business. On page 40 it is stated:—
“The bondholders' lawyers met again and decided they would accept the hint, because the Free State people did not think they would try, because the Government in America would be too friendly to the Free State to give back these funds to anybody who maintained that these funds were subscribed for the Republic. Ryan believed from previous experience in consultation with these people that he would be able to square the Council of State of the Law Department to give a decision in our favour.”
I do not see how anybody with any claim to have any concern for the return of this money to the people who subscribed it can resist this amendment which I have put down. To resist this amendment is to assist the sharp practice that was put over on these people, and it is to use the forces of this State to confirm an act of sharp practice which took money out of the pockets of people, many of whom are now, as the President and the Minister for Finance have stated, in a condition of want. If we are going to pay this back, if we are going to tax our already impoverished people to perform this honourable act, let us at least see to it that the purpose for which the Act is nominally passed here shall be met and that the people who subscribed shall get generous treatment. Let us see to it that we get credit for what we are doing. These unfortunate people parted with the money. If they do not get their money back, mind you, they will now get no communication about it, if we permit the Bill to go through recognising the right of assignees who worked this assignment, knowing perfectly well that the bond itself stated that it was not negotiable. I cannot conceive how any body of men, pretending to any honesty, still less the people who stand up and say that their word is sufficient, that everybody knows that they are incapable of anything insincere or dishonest, can get up and oppose this amendment.
Mr. MacDermot: I wonder if the President would allow me to say a word by way of appeal to him before he replies. I wish not to be taken as concurring in suggestions of sharp practice, for the very sufficient reason that I am not in a position to know anything about that matter, if for no other reason. I just want to point out that the situation is this: Logically the people who ought to be paying this  money back are Miss MacSwiney and Mr. Brian O'Higgins, but, although they are very careful to maintain their prerogatives in other respects, I have not noticed that they have put themselves forward to assume this particular responsibility. I support the paying back of this money for the all-sufficient reason that the last Government solemnly undertook to pay it back. It appears to have been a voluntary undertaking for which they received no quid pro quo, an undertaking which it would not have injured this country materially to disregard, and in this respect it is unlike some undertakings of the last Government which this Government has dishonoured. As, however, it was given formally and solemnly by the Minister for External Affairs of the last Government, I consider that we must carry it out and repay this money. What is this money? It is a war debt. If we assume it and regard it as our own obligation, it is a war debt. I am far from thinking that it would be improper for a person acting on behalf of this State to do as much as he could to obtain assignments of bonds, provided that he was using them to give very much-needed relief to the Irish taxpayer of the present time. We have paid enormously already for the period with which this loan was associated, and even in the very recent past we have passed through the Oireachtas measures providing for compensations arising out of those unhappy events. Surely it would be a most appropriate moment to seek to obtain the consent of bondholders in America to the application of this money not for the support of a Party organ, but for the relief of the Irish people, who badly need it, and whom our friends across the water in America would primarily wish to help. I put it to the President that if we support him in this matter he should take the necessary steps to see that the money is used for the relief of the taxpayers, and not for the support of the Irish Press.
The President: A Chinn Comhairle, I will come to the last speaker later. His speech was an extraordinary one. I think I had better not attempt to  characterise the speech I listened to from Deputy Fitzgerald. It would certainly surpass any powers of description I have. The only words that occur to me, I am afraid, a Chinn Comhairle, would not be permitted. I pass over that, and go on to the history which has been distorted and the situation which has been distorted by the last speaker. That Deputy talks of shame. I have felt shame whilst I was listening to the Deputy speaking, and the shame was due to the fact that that Deputy at one time was Director of Publicity for Dáil Eireann.
I was sent over to America in 1919 with a very well-defined mission. My first duty was to try, if possible, to secure from the Government of the United States a recognition of the State which was established here by the duly elected representatives of the Irish people. My second task was to try to get floated in the United States an External Loan of the Irish Republic. Considering the fact that Great Britain was a great power, that British forces at the time were in occupation of this country, and that we had to start with behind us merely the will and the strength of that will of the Irish people, it was not an easy task. After Dáil Eireann was set up the Irish Volunteers came in as the army of the people's Parliament. They struggled to assist the elected Government of that time to function. The civil departments at the same time also endeavoured to function, and it was very important that we should be able to show that in a foreign country the elected Government of the Irish Republic could float a loan. During the Treaty and after we had had people who denied that there was such a thing as an Irish Republic, and who denied that at that time I was President of that Republic. One of those who have chosen to deny that is the Deputy who has just spoken. It is rather interesting in that connection to find the Trustee Deed, the Deed under which I, with Dr. Fogarty and James O'Mara were appointed as Trustees of Dáil Eireann, signed in his own hand by the Acting  President, in the most explicit terms, on my behalf as President of the Irish Republic.
The President: The Deputy was answered by a member of his own Party about that matter on a previous occasion. I will answer him now from the handwriting of Arthur Griffith. This document is “an agreement under which Eamon de Valera, T.D., his Lordship Most Rev. Dr. Fogarty and James O'Mara, T.D., consent to hold, keep and safeguard the funds of Dáil Eireann.” The document is signed by Arthur Griffith in these terms:—
“signed, sealed and delivered by Arthur Griffith, acting President for and on behalf of Eamon de Valera, President of the Irish Republic, this 25th day of June, 1919. Signature: Arthur Griffith. Witnessed by Diarmuid O'Hegarty.”
The President: And, as President, I gave this receipt. This receipt had to be signed in that special form. There were laws in the United States which might easily be invoked to prevent any such loan being raised by our Government at the time. This was drawn up in a special form so as to keep within the law. Deputy Fitzgerald, when he was speaking, wanted to suggest to you here that the laws in the United States are very lax. Of course, they have not there the good old British tradition of law. They have not the wisdom of those who have directly and immediately put British law in operation, and, of course, it must be suggested that there is going to be corruption in the courts of America and that there is going to be foolishness on the part of the investors. In fact the raising of moneys  is most carefully guarded in the United States with a whole system of laws which are commonly called “Blue Sky Laws.”
We had, in raising this loan, considerable difficulty in keeping within the law. We knew that we had people there who were most interested in preventing us from raising that loan, and we had to meet the same sort of suggestion that I have listened to here from Deputy Fitzgerald, that we were out there to wheedle away their money from unsuspecting Irish working girls. We went out there to raise that loan to support and maintain the State which had been established by the will of the Irish people. We got, in the first loan there, roughly, about five and one-third million dollars, and we raised it under the conditions that I suggested in my speech the other day. We told them that the Irish people were in a struggle to secure their independence; that they wanted that money in order to enable them to continue that struggle, and, if possible, to bring it to a successful conclusion. We promised if the struggle were successful that those who gave their money would be repaid in accordance with the terms of that bond certificate. The people in America gave their money. It is possible, probable even, that a very large number of those gave that money because they wanted to assist the Irish people in their struggle and that they did not expect anything in return for it. They were prepared to give it, if it were necessary, as a free gift. They were prepared to sacrifice it if the struggle should prove unsuccessful.
But we went out on behalf of the Irish people and we said that we were interested in getting this as a Government loan, and we said: “We want not merely donations, but we want you to give us this money on the strength of the promise which we are giving you in the terms of that certificate that, the moment the Irish people are freed, that the British troops are out of the country and the Republic recognised, you will get your money with interest.” To those who said: “Can you guarantee us that money?” I had my answer.  I said: “I cannot; I cannot foresee what the result of this struggle will be. I hope it will be successful. I promise, as far as we are concerned, that we will do our best anyway to make it a success.” I did say that any Government that would feel it was representing the Irish people would assume the obligation to pay that money, because I had the belief that there could be in this country no representative body that would call itself a representative body that would be unwilling to make good the money that was given to this nation to enable her to secure her freedom. I made that pledge.
Those of us who were in America the moment the Treaty was accepted and approved of by Dáil Eireann, began to be anxious that our pledge in that regard should be redeemed. And if you go back you will find on the records a question on that point by the late Harry Boland—Go ndéanaidh Dia trócaire ar a anam. The new Cabinet, I may remind members of this Dáil, was elected as the Cabinet of the Irish Republic, and, in reply to Harry Boland, the Minister for Finance in that Cabinet gave a pledge that that money would be repaid. The effect of his statement was this: “Repaid even if it meant the breaking of the Treaty.” That pledge was quoted by Deputy Cosgrave when he was President here and Acting-Minister for Finance. That was the reply that he gave when a question as to the liability and the readiness of the Irish Free State to accept that liability was being debated. I will be able to give that reference at a later stage.
It is suggested that the legal action in America changed that situation. Did it? It is suggested that I was inconsistent as trustee in defending these funds against the Free State, in defending the remainder that had not been distributed, in defending that trust and seeing that it did not come to be paid to people that we did not see were entitled to get it and that that was inconsistent with my attitude now in insisting that this money should be paid. Is there inconsistency in that? We have had a Deputy on the other benches trying to suggest that I was  trying to ride two horses at that time. Nothing of the kind. Those who represented the bondholders in America tried a legal defence which my evidence was quite contrary to; it was quite inconsistent with my evidence in court. I held, and I hold to-day, as regards the balance of that money which was in America, that it was my duty to defend it as a trustee against the Free State. The powers which were assigned to us as trustees were very definite. The terms on which we were made trustees placed upon us an obligation to defend that trust so that a body for which it was not intended would not get it.
The President: Then I say the Deputy ought to get the quotation. I knew the terms on which that money was subscribed. My attitude was that that money had been subscribed for an Irish Republic, a Republic for all Ireland; that the Free State was not that Republic and that at least the balance of the funds which were under the trustees' control should not go to that State. That was the attitude we took up in the courts. To whom did it belong, I was asked, and my answer was if I had to state what body it belonged to I would say it belonged to the Second Dáil which was not ever properly dissolved, which was prevented by a coup d'état of the Deputies on the opposite side from functioning. If that body could, in 1924 or 1927, have been convened, then I would say that to that body the money belonged.
The President: The Deputy's inferences may appear to be right to somebody who does not think, but they are not right; they are no more right than the inference that because I resisted the transferring of balances to the Free State then in existence that I am acting inconsistently now when I say this State ought to take over obligations. That money was subscribed, as I know, on our soliciting, for an Irish Republic, to assist in the securing of the independence of the whole of Ireland. I felt it my duty as a trustee to defend that trust and every bit of evidence I gave and any affidavits, if any, that I made took that point of view, because it was my point of view and is my point of view. Wash your hands then out of it, Deputies may say who want us to continue to pay £5,000,000 a year to Britain. Wash your hands out of it. Wash your hands out of any obligation to pay the money by the use of which, not a little, this House is sitting to-day. I say the proper attitude on the merits must be that of these two loans which were secured in America the greater part was spent here. We are not asking you to pay back again the balance that has been already distributed. We are asking you to fulfil your obligations.
The Deputies opposite, when they were here, prevented by their action the Irish people from securing the Republic which would have made these obligations lie upon them. It was not the bondholders in the United States who prevented this condition from being brought about. The attitude these Deputies want us to accept is because they have made the fulfilment of their share of the bond impossible they are going to get rid of their obligation. If ever there was a debt of honour on the Irish people this is a debt of honour. It was given by our own kith and kin, aye, by those very servant girls that our enemies in America spoke of at the time. The money was given by them and indeed many of them did not expect any return of it. The money was given by them to help the Irish people at a  most critical point in their struggle. Is there any Irishman with any particle of shame left who would not say that if we are representatives of the Irish people, if we are representatives of any part of the Irish people, we should acknowledge that obligation not in a miserly fashion but as generously as we can? And we are not acting overgenerously in this.
It is suggested by Deputies on the opposite side that this is not the time to pay it, that the dollar exchange is against us. I looked up the files and I looked up the rates of exchange when these promises were made before. I looked up the rates of exchange when that money was transferred to Ireland and what did I find? I found that on previous occasions on which it was proposed to pay over that money the exchange value of the dollar was less on each occasion than it is to-day. When we examine the terms on which it was got and compare them with the terms on which we would be paying back this money we find that, unless in the next few days there is something very different from what I think is going to take place, we are going to pay back the money at such an advantageous rate of exchange that that rate will cover the interest. Are we then acting overgenerously in this when the advantage on the exchange rate is going to cover the interest? We got most of it when the dollar was worth somewhere about 3.60. We are going to pay it back in all probability when the dollar will be back at 4.80. Yesterday it was 4.52. When other Deputies were talking about the repayment of this loan the rates were 4.41 and 4.45— I will have to leave over giving the exact quotation until later, but it is true.
The questions then, I hold, are immediately answered: first, that it is our duty to pay that money and, secondly, that this is not an inappropriate time for paying it. To listen to Deputies on the opposite benches, one would imagine they had never accepted the obligation. When you want to tell raisehoods you ought to have a good memory. Right through, without a single change in any statement, the  intention to pay this money is made clear in every Ministerial statement. I promised to give the references when I made these statements to the House. I spoke of the promise that was given binding the then Minister for Finance, the late Michael Collins, and the answer that was given by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Cosgrave.
Mr. Boland asked in the event of that body being set up would they assume the obligations contracted in the name of the Republic and the pledges given in the Republic's name when they started to raise the money.
Now, on the 5th October, when that reply was given the rate of exchange was 4.41, which was less advantageous than it is to-day. On the Second Stage of the Dáil Eireann Loan Bill, 1924, and a subsequent discussion on the 13th December, 1923, this extract from the speech of the Minister for Finance occurs:
“There were two loans issued in America, one on the 1st January, 1921, which realised 5,236,955 dollars; the second American loan was issued in November, 1921, and it, of course,  had hardly got started when the Treaty came. That loan realised 622,720 dollars. The total raised in America, therefore, was 5,869,675 dollars. There is at present held up in America and the subject of litigation 2,300,000 odd dollars. There are provisions in connection with the redemption of the American loan which correspond roughly to the requirements of the American prospectus. That is, stock certificates will be issued to those who have subscribed to the loan. Interest will accrue on those stock certificates and they can be redeemed either at par or they can be purchased in the market.”
Mr. MacDermot: On a point of order, is this discussion relative to the amendment which concerns only the part of the loan assigned by the bondholders to the President? As I understand it there is no opposition to paying back the loan.
The President: I am trying to show the continuity, under all circumstances and conditions, of the intention of those who are now opposing this loan, but who were then Ministers on these benches, when these intentions were expressed of paying back these loans.
“The matter Deputy Dolan dealt with is one I had in mind when I said there would be certain amendments on the Committee Stage. I recognised fully that whether the money was lost through the fault of trustees or whatever happened to the money, the people who subscribed it are entitled to get it back. I believe even if we were not to get the funds that are in America for a considerable time, we would be able to borrow sufficient to pay off the subscribers there without waiting for the result of the lawsuit.”
Not merely does he say that they were going to pay it back, but he felt there was urgency to pay it back, and to pay it back quickly and not wait for the result of the American action. In a speech on the 15th January the same Minister said on a money resolution for the Dáil Eireann Loans and Funds Bill:—
“This is a resolution to enable the expenses to be met which will be incurred in carrying out the Dáil Eireann Loans and Funds Bill, 1923, if passed. The amount of £2,250,000 will be made up as follows: the home loan is £378,130. The external loan amounts to £1,302,150. Taking the rate of exchange to-day for the purpose of making a calculation at 4.45, it is impossible to know what it may be later, but should the rate of exchange continue to go against us, it might be necessary for the purpose of meeting our obligations to come to the Dáil again.”
“Perhaps, while the Minister is dealing with the question of accounting, he might tell the House what the position is regarding the American judgment in the matter of the American loan. I think there was a statement made that the position was under consideration. It is well to know whether that consideration has come to fruition, and whether it is  opportune to make any statement to the House.”
“With regard to the American loan, we have decided not to bring any appeal. Such money as was held in America and was in question in the litigation is being returned to the subscribers. To that extent our responsibility is lessened except for the question of expense that may be involved. It is, so far as we are concerned, the same as if we were getting the money, financially, at any rate. I have always taken the line, no matter what courts outside may say, that we are the successors of the First Dáil. We are bound to repay that money, and we are certainly bound to repay the portion that came over here and was used.”
To listen to Deputy Fitzgerald, one would think that he was never a member of such a Ministry with such a Minister for Finance, and that we were proposing to do something because a certain enterprise in which I am interested—I am interested in it, I hope it will be successful, and, what is more, I believe that it will be successful—but it is being suggested that we are now proposing to pay that loan, and that although it is not due we are going to repay it. In that connection I think the words of Deputy Fitzgerald are too good not to give their precise terms. “Why is this Bill brought in?” is the question he was asking, and after some interruptions he went on to state:
“I notice that the President has not come in. I think it is rather a hopeful sign to see some suggestion of shame in this case because, as far as I can judge, this is a Bill to mulct the people of the country in about £1,000,000 in order that £100,000 may go into the pockets of the President.”
The suggestion throughout has been that we are bringing in a Bill to repay a loan of something like £1,000,000 and that we are sacrificing the interests of the taxpayer in repaying that loan in order that I—or even taking the best interpretation out of the Deputy's  statement—that an enterprise in which I am interested should get the benefit of £100,000. And the man who made that statement talks about shame—the man who wrote from America—just listen to this—this is an extract from a letter from the ex-Minister for Defence written from New York and dated the 14th October, 1929. The judgment of Judge Peters was in June, 1927, and it was suggested from these benches by that Deputy, that the whole attitude had changed as a result of the Peters' decision. I am going later to read extracts from the Minister for Finance to show that there was no change in that regard, but it is most interesting to get a letter from that same Deputy in these terms.
“I have informed everybody I met that it is quite definitely the intention of the Government to accept full responsibility for the repayment of the bonds, and I explained that, to the best of my knowledge, the reason for the delay in doing so was the law action and necessity to have full information of distribution of the funds here to the bondholders. I have said that when that distribution has taken place, and we know exactly what percentage each individual subscriber has received back from the bondholders' trust through the bondholders' trustees, the Government would proceed to pay whatever the difference might be between the sum received by these bondholders and  the amount subscribed by them, plus interest for a certain period from a certain date.”
I said, a Chinn Comhairle, that I have no words with which I could describe my contempt for a Deputy who wrote that from America, who told everybody he met in America that this money was about to be repaid, and who has the shamelessness to come here to this House and pretend that the attitude had changed from the time of the Judge Peters' decision nearly two years before. I said that there has been a constant intention to pay this money, an intention which has never been changed, and it is one thing at least, in the record of the preceding administration, which I thought was consistent with the dignity and the honour of Irish representatives. But because we, their successors, are going to do this, the Deputy comes along and suggests that we are going to undertake now an obligation that had never been accepted by anybody, and choosing this particular time, although he himself in that statement clearly indicates the time, and although the Minister for Finance in this House repeatedly indicated the time when the repayment was about to be made and should be made.
Everyone of common sense knows that if this House were ever to redeem their obligation there were three occasions on which it should be redeemed. If they had been well advised, if there was not some little meanness coming in and interposing to prevent a right judgment, there were three occasions on which it was natural that the money should be repaid. One was immediately after the Free State was set up. It was the first obligation. I think there are official records in which it was spoken of as the first obligation. The next occasion was when the receivers were about to distribute the money. They should have said then: “There is the balance to be put with this; that completes our obligation.” The third is the present occasion when the receivers were getting their final dismissal, when the official report was being received by the court; when the  manner of the distribution of the balance which was in the American court was known. That is the third occasion and that is the occasion clearly indicated in several speeches by the former Minister for Finance, and it is the occasion in which this Bill is introduced. Is there any Deputy who has any—I am afraid if I were to say it I would offend Deputies. I ask, however, is there any Deputy, who honestly considers this case, who will suggest for one moment that the proposal to pay this money is brought in by us at any except the right and proper moment, the moment which was determined by those who are our political opponents and who went before us, the moment when the receivers, who were distributing the balance in New York, had completed their labours? Is it suggested that we are acting more generously than they were prepared to act?
I have spoken of the rate of exchange, and I have shown that it is more favourable to-day and is much more likely to be favourable when the moneys are actually being distributed than it was when the promises were made. We might, under certain circumstances, have been adjudged liable for 5 per cent. interest from the date on which the Free State was established. It was the date which our opponents took as the date. They wanted to equate the setting up of the Free State here with the date on which, as far as they could fulfil them, the terms of that bond were to be fulfilled.
We might have been liable under certain conditions for interest for the whole period at 5 per cent. I felt that we were not liable for the whole of that. Portion of the money was kept in America for a considerable period. Whatever interest, little or much, accrued on the money was added to it and it was distributed pro rata.
Again I want to insist that the lawyers representing the bondholders' committee did not take our view. The case they put up to the court was a different case from our case. They felt that the court might have decided against us and they wanted to make sure, if there was a decision against us, that the decision would not mean  that the money was going to come over to the Treasury here. They took independent action and had independent lawyers. These lawyers fought to retain that money in America. Looking at the situation as it was, no matter what the de jure position might have been judged to be here, I felt that an American court in these conditions was unlikely to give the trustees that money. A civil war to maintain the republic, or to destroy it if you like, had been fought. There was a definite laying down of arms for the time being by those who were trying to maintain that and an American court might very well say: “Your Second Dáil, that you say this money rightly belongs to, may never be permitted to meet,” and because there was a possibility of that, and that the judge would have set aside what you might have called the strictly legal position and say: “I have here to guard the interests of the American citizens,” I felt that it was very probable that our right as trustees to hold the money might not be accepted by the American court. Those who felt in the same way about it put up a legal case which they thought might possibly mean that the money would be retained in America.
I have seen Judge Peters' decision. I am not a lawyer, but I do know as well as any man living what the conditions were at that time and what the facts were, and I do not agree with some of the findings of Judge Peters' decision. I do, however, say about it that, confronted as he was with a certain set of circumstances in America, it was a practical decision anyhow, and those who were defending the bondholders' interest in America, through their counsel, apparently wanted to secure such a practical decision. Deputy Fitzgerald then gets up and quotes the pleadings of another set of people in the case and tries to say that because these pleadings, put forward by lawyers with a different point of view, were different from mine I could be accused of inconsistency with respect to them. Connivance between the two parties, of course, is suggested. I do not deny that I knew this case was being put up. I opposed it in  many particulars and my evidence is quite contrary to the case put up by them. Why should I be accused of inconsistency because the legal case put up by lawyers, appearing for certain subscribers in America does not tally with the case I put up? I put up the case as I honestly saw it from the point of view of a trustee appointed by Dáil Eireann, as President of the Republic with certain rights, and I defended it from that point of view.
Again I ask what is the ground for the suggestion that this Bill is introduced by us at this moment in order that a certain enterprise might get a relatively small sum of money, that the Irish people should pay £1,000,000 in order that a certain enterprise should get a small fraction of it? I have heard many contemptible suggestions in my time. I have heard from all sorts of opponents in the British times, in America and here, many vile and contemptible things said. But the vilest and most contemptible thing I have ever listened to has been the suggestion of the Deputy. As I said, I have felt shame, shame that Dáil Eireann ever employed such a person to represent them in publicity. As I have pointed out, we are paying this money because we believe it is our duty. We are paying it at a time which was fixed by our opponents, and we are paying it at a favourable time. Now what is the suggestion? The suggestion is that I went over to America to pull the wool over the unsuspecting American people's eyes; to wheedle—we had better hear it—from generous Irish servant girls the money which they badly wanted, and not to let them know what they were doing. I did go over to America. I went over to America and raised that money, 5,750,000 dollars. Every penny of that was lodged in my name. That has been the subject of court actions in America, and there was not a breath of suspicion of anything against it until that gentleman over there comes along and suggests it here. I went over as a witness in that case, and I stood in the witness box. Those gentlemen who could go to America on tours afterwards did not dare to go over when I was in the witness box. Their most efficient  officer here went over, and when I was in the witness chair he did not dare to go into it, because what I said was true and could be proved. They could not get away with suggestions there. They had not a Press that was completely on their side, so that the other side of the case could not be heard. There was an open court and I went over to that court and faced cross-examination. There was nobody there from the Free State, though they could go over on holidays afterwards, who dared to put in their claim for the 2,300,000 dollars, or whatever it was. They knew they would not get away with it there. There was never a breath of suggestion that all that money had not been properly accounted for.
Because the people in America knew that I would try to keep my word, and that I was not interested in getting money for myself, I felt that I was justified in going over when an enterprise was on foot which, in my opinion, meant much for the Irish people and for their freedom. I went over to raise capital for the Irish Press. Before I left, a prospectus was issued to the Irish people. That prospectus provided for a capital of £200,000, the smallest sum that those who were competent to give an estimate thought the enterprise could be started at. In the prospectus, calculations and estimates were given, and the list of subscriptions closed on the 13th day of October, 1928. The document which was read out, in which it was said that the Irish subscriptions were made in six weeks, is correct. The intention was to get one half of the money here and one half in America. Before this was put to the American people as a proposition, and they were asked to subscribe to it, the Irish people had already shown their confidence by asking for shares for one-half of the capital. Before I went over, definitely to ask for the money for that enterprise, one half of it had been subscribed by the Irish people, subscribed because they knew that a newspaper was wanted. If ever a person went over looking for subscriptions for an Irish enterprise with better credentials  I should like to know him. Already, before I asked anybody, more than the share that was open for subscription in Ireland had been applied for.
I should like to point out that in this prospectus there is a certain estimate. The estimate was that machinery and equipment would cost about £80,000; that premises would cost £20,000; and preliminary expenses, including stamp duties, £9,000, making a total of what might be called initial expenses of £109,000. What was the remainder of the £200,000 for? It was for working capital. Why did working capital bear such a large proportion to the cost of equipment? Because everybody who knows anything about newspapers knows that it is two or three years after a newspaper is established before it can pay its way. That is a well known fact. Those who have established newspapers know it, and that comparatively large sum was to be secured in order that the losses which were anticipated— and losses of close on £100,000 were anticipated—might be met.
We have a gentleman who does not mind sabotaging—because it is not a political friend of his who is concerned—Irish industry. He wants to suggest that because there is a deficit, which was anticipated when that prospectus was sent out, this is a bankrupt concern. I have got the auditor's report here. I am asking the Irish Press to publish it. There is not an auditor in the country who knows his business who will not say that this is a good balance sheet, when you bear in mind the terms on which those subscriptions were received and when you remember that that paper is not yet two years in existence. Lest there be any doubt about it I rang up the auditor last night and I said: “I have got the accounts of the Irish Press. I propose, on account of certain things that were said in the Dáil, to mention them to-morrow; give me your opinion as an auditor on that balance sheet; I am going to quote you. Give me your opinion of it as an auditor and say what you think of that balance sheet.” He said: “It is a good balance sheet,  an excellent balance sheet.” Then I asked: “Have I your authority to quote that in the Dáil?”“You have,” he said.
And when a public auditor after examining these accounts publicly gives his opinion that that is a sound, good balance sheet for a newspaper, you have got a gentleman here in this House, again I say, who uses the privileges of this House to sabotage an Irish industry. It is an Irish industry. There are 333 employees in that industry. It is as much an industry as anything else that caters to our needs, and a member of this House does not mind trying to sabotage that industry. For what? What reason? What is the compelling motive in the mind of the gentleman opposite who in this case is an outsider? The driving motive is chagrin. At what? That the American subscribers were prepared to subscribe their capital, just as here we had shareholders who subscribed their capital to establish a decent Irish newspaper.
Before I went to America there was already a guarantee of half the capital. I went to America. Did I go looking for an assignment of bonds? I did not. I asked for subscriptions to the capital of the Irish Press and I got more in subscriptions at the time than I got in assignments of bonds. I got more in cash subscriptions. We are to be told after the people assigned their bonds in lieu of cash, after those people handed in their contributions and after this enterprise was started that I took no chances, as the organ of those gentlemen said. I dare not take chances. The people's money was going into this enterprise. There was £100,000 of their money going into it. There was roughly half of that sum already in cash subscriptions in America going into it. What right had I to risk that money and take chances? Of course I took no chances. Before we expended this Irish money in buying machinery which will necessarily diminish in value the moment it is installed, I had to consider whether I was going to take Irish money, hard cash, was I going to take American money, hard cash, was I going to start that enterprise without the minimum  capital on which we thought it could be started with success? I knew that the capital would not be required at once. I knew that we had to buy machinery. We calculated that the losses would not all occur in one week, that they would be distributed over a period.
As it was my duty, when I went on a mission of that sort, I carefully calculated when there were bonds being assigned in lieu of cash, whether these bonds would mature to the extent that they would be a necessary safeguard for the enterprise. I took very good care that every commitment regarding that large sum of money was entered into. I saw that I was taking good care to be sure of getting the money assigned. Why should I not? A group of American people came together and suggested that assignments of these bonds should be taken instead of cash. I said all right, on this understanding that they will get credit for the cash they will receive. Before we actually ordered the first part of the plant and machinery we carefully calculated when these moneys were likely to come in and what was to be the amount of this assignment of bonds. I took very good care that in the most definite form there should be a legal assignment. That legal assignment took the form of practically making it a donation, leaving it on my honour so that there would not be interminable actions about it afterwards. It was left on my honour to see that whatever beneficial interest might be in it that benefit would go to the subscribers. There were legal assignments in the most definite form. These were witnessed by two witnesses and attested before a notary public, so that they were good legally and everyone of these went before the judges in the American courts and were adjudged to be proper legal transfers. I dared not take risk. Irish moneys were involved. A whole Irish enterprise was involved if these moneys did not come in.
Now we come to the question of dates. When did I do this? Was it, as the Deputy suggested, when the people thought these were worthless scrip? If anybody thought they were worthless scrip it was not due to lack of publicity as to their value. If there  was one thing in America that has been published it is undoubtedly about those bonds and the payment of them. There was the judgment in Judge Peters' court. That was given in May, 1927. These moneys largely were subscribed, I think, in 1929. The money was being distributed then. One of the first steps the receivers took in the distribution of that money was to send a personal registered letter to every bondholder. In America the record about these bonds was not like here. There were settled conditions there. There was a careful register kept in America. We had a proper class of accounting there, and there was a card register of every subscriber. A registered letter went to each subscriber telling him that this payment was going to be made, and telling him to put in his claim. Some of the letters did not reach the parties. There is a considerable part of this money which will never reach the original subscribers because they failed to keep the office notified of their change of address. The State will not have to pay that money. I think it is right that the State should put aside a reasonable share of this money in case applications come in later.
The truth remains that every person who had these bonds got notification of the fact that the claim was to be met. It was not the fault of the Deputies on the other side if anybody doubted that he was to receive the balance with interest. Certainly it was not Deputy Fitzgerald's fault. There are here in this file statements and interviews given by Deputy Blythe during all that period. So great was the publicity that there was nobody who had the slightest doubt at that time that this scrip was value not merely for the money in the hands of the receiver but also for the balance of it, because the intention to pay was preserved there all these years and was at every time carefully advertised in the American Press. We heard very funny tales. The Minister for Defence is here now, and I am sure it will be news to him to hear that Deputy Fitzgerald said that he was told in Philadelphia by a man with whom the Minister for Defence had been that Deputy Aiken,  who was soliciting subscriptions from him for the Irish Press, said that Deputy Cosgrave was greatly interested. When you have audacity of that kind in people, when you have that sort of nonsense uttered here, it is mighty hard to keep your patience, anyhow. The facts were published all over America. The assignment made it clear, on the face of it, that people were assigning their complete interest in that money, and it was because of that assignment, which I regarded as worth money, and as equivalent to the cash coming in at the time, that I expected, according to the estimates, we went on with the enterprise. Now we are told that we have, if you please, to ignore these assignments, to ignore the commitments which were entered into on account of these assignments, and that we have to send these moneys back to each individual, although there is a legal contract to the opposite. And why are we to do this? Because Deputy Fitzgerald does not like the fact that American people chose to put their interest in these bonds in the form of subscriptions to the capital of the Irish Press. This Bill proposes that that money should go to the people to whom it is lawfully due. It is lawfully and legally due to go to the Irish Press. Is that a reason why it should be refused by this House?
We are having a new type of morality in finance now. The next thing we will hear is that if we take National Loan Bonds and assign them to somebody, payment will not be made on them because that somebody does not please the gentlemen on the other side of the House. This money is not to be paid, the National Debt is not to be paid, because the people who happen to be legally entitled to it in a proper legal fashion at the moment are not of the ilk that the gentlemen on the other side of the House like. I would like to go a little bit farther. Certain assignments of these bonds were made about the same time or anterior to that to the Mission to China. They were given as gifts to the Irish Mission in China. I suppose Deputy Fitzgerald will want his proof that they got 60 cents on the dollar on  their assignment. Assignments were made, if I remember aright, for the Father Yorke Memorial, a memorial erected by the people of San Francisco to a great Irishman. On the strength of these assignments certain work was proceeded with. Is that work now to be cancelled because Deputy Fitzgerald does not mind whom he hits so long as, in his wild swiping, he tries to get in a blow at the Irish Press.
We are opposing this amendment. It is dictated by one reason and one reason only, and that is because it is giving to an enterprise that the gentleman opposite does not like, certain support. If there were corruption it would be on the part of gentlemen on the other side if they were here, because they would, undoubtedly——
The President: Judging by their statements they would, undoubtedly, have abused their position on this bench. They would have abused their position by saying: “This enterprise, which is entitled to this money, is not going to get it and, if we are going to discriminate between the holders of Irish scrip, we will say because you are our friends you will get it but you, because you are not our friends, are not going to get it.” That is what is at the bottom of the whole of this, nothing else. I have shown there was a clear intention to pay. I have shown it is not a question of whether the others were going to pay or not. I say we would be bound to pay. I think it was Deputy MacDermot who said that Miss MacSwiney and others do not take on the obligation. They are quite ready to take on the obligation, I am sure, and probably they think that we are very wrong in taking on the obligation. But I say this, that we are in a position to pay back that money which was lent for the good of the Irish people, and I think the first possible opportunity should be taken by anybody who has it to pay the money back.
The paying of it has nothing whatever to do with the de jure question, or any question about the 1924 position. If I were to go over the things that have been said about the history of  the last ten years, it would take a considerable time. We have not dealt with that yet. The Irish history of that period is not yet finished. I have had the humiliation of seeing my own children reading what purported to be Irish history books, but what were really villainous lies and nothing else. It was the sort of history that the Deputy would write. There was given as Irish history for the last ten years a thing that can be disproved in documents. What you have got as Irish history and what purports to be Irish history for the last ten years is really propaganda by gentlemen like them. You have got certain things here in documents. I do not like this reading of documents such as I have now. I do not care to read them. I have got here from the counsellor of the President, as he then was, a document telling him certain things in explicit terms. This is the original document.
The President: I propose to read, and I hold I am entitled to do so, the official minute sent to the President at the time by one who, at any rate, could not be accused of being particularly friendly either to me or to us, with reference to the position in America at the time when I was soliciting this money.
Mr. Fitzgerald: In that case I ask that the complete file be made available to the House. The other day the President quoted from what he called the original draft of the Constitution in regard to the Seanad. He stopped short at a point which misrepresented what this original draft said. I suggest that these documents he is now reading from be made available.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have ruled that the President is in order quoting a document, but that if a confidential document is quoted from it should normally be made available to Deputies if the demand is made for its production.
The President: There has been a suggestion made—I think the words used were that “I pulled wool over the eyes of the Irish people in America”, when I solicited these subscriptions. I have shown the House that I asked for  cash and that £100,000 was subscribed. When I went to America and solicited cash subscriptions, an American committee got up a campaign for the assignment of bonds amounting roughly to the same amount as what I got in cash. But the suggestion is made here that I tried on some sharp practice. I want to say that that was not the view at the time of the President's advisers in this matter when this came before them, and when my activities in America were a matter of some concern to them. I challenge President Cosgrave, as he then was, and I challenge any member of the then Executive Council to deny that there is here on this file a full statement to the effect that on redemption the holders would receive 58 per cent. of the full face value of these bonds and that that received so much publicity that the holders cannot be regarded as not being aware of the value of the scrip. Is it not rather hard to have patience when you know that those who are making these charges know that they are false, that their own advisers knew they were false at the time, and that the sequence of events proved they are false? Still they dare to come along and make these charges. They had the documents for years. If these documents were made available to the public it would not be to the credit of gentlemen opposite. I do not propose to make them available, but I ask them will they deny what I have said?
Mr. Fitzgerald: On a point of order, a Chinn Comhairle, you said that if the President purported to read from private documents they should be made available to every Deputy. The President hung out this private document and now he tells us it is not to be made available. I ask is your order to be evaded?
An Ceann Comhairle: The procedure on this matter has been repeatedly stated. If State documents of a  confidential nature are quoted from, Deputies may ask that they be tabled. Normally, if they are not to be made available no further quotation should be made from them.
The President: They can come and see. The names of those who sent that information from America are here, I am not going to publish this document, but I challenge those on the opposite side to say whether I am telling the truth when I say that I have here, on this file, the advice given by one of their advisers to the President with regard to this matter. They were as anxious then, as now, to try and prevent the Irish Press getting this money. They were as anxious then, as now, to try and prevent me getting subscriptions for the Irish Press. And this minute here has reference to the situation, and in the most explicit terms. It is in such explicit terms that nobody in America could be held to be ignorant of the value of this scrip. Every Deputy on the opposite benches and every member of the then Government had full knowledge that this scrip could not have been suggested to have been valueless. And here am I accused of sharp practice. It is suggested that I went over to America to collect scrip of value from the Irish people there, getting it from the owners of this scrip without their knowing that I was actually robbing them, as has been suggested here in the Dáil.
There is a remedy if I did that and, properly speaking, it is not the concern of this House. The concern of this House is to pay back that money to those to whom it is legally due. When those who are legally entitled to the money put in a claim for payment of it no one has a right to object. If I overreached them, there is a remedy elsewhere for that and Deputies on the other side know it quite well. They abuse their  position as members of this House in a most scandalous manner, first of all by suggesting sharp practice on my part and, secondly, by doing their worst to try to damage the Irish Press.
As I said already, there are 333 workers engaged in that enterprise. That, of course, is no concern of Deputy Desmond Fitzgerald. It is no concern, of course, of the rival newspapers, that damage should be done to the Irish Press and that this occasion should be used to make suggestions which are false, every one of them, from beginning to end. I challenge any committee of this House set up of representatives of all Parties in this House to investigate this matter. I am prepared to answer here now, or before any committee set up, and I am prepared to answer on oath, if necessary, any questions that may be put to me with regard to the whole of this transaction. That is my answer now to what has been said on the other side. We are not going to accept this amendment because, on the strength of legal assignments, properly executed, with full knowledge by the people who executed them in a proper manner before two witnesses and so on, their interest was assigned to the Irish Press. On the strength of that, as a promise obtained, commitments were entered into that it would be highly improper for us to interfere with. No case whatever has been made. The Irish Press case has been the centre of it because of political antagonism, but no case, on its merits, has been made for that amendment. First of all, it is impossible to carry out. Are we to have in every single case a trial, or does each particular individual who subscribed have to prove that he got 60 per cent. value for the bond? Will the subscriptions for the Irish Press properly put in as capital for the Irish Press be considered full value?
The President: No! Of course, if Deputy Fitzgerald had his way they would not; but the auditor of the company, who is a public auditor and has a reputation to lose in matters of this sort, is prepared to state that that is  a good and sound balance sheet for a newspaper in the condition in which the Irish Press has been, and, if it will help Deputy Fitzgerald a little, I will tell him that the Irish Press now is making a profit. I have only then to say that if any Deputy in the House wants any information about any part of this transaction I am prepared to give it to him. I am prepared at another stage, if Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney wants to hear it, to show that my action as trustee in defending the balance and my action now in paying these moneys are quite consistent. Of course, there are gentlemen who will always put up barriers in your way to prevent you going along the road you want to travel. When they put up barriers and you have the commonsense to get around them, they shove you to one side so that you cannot keep to the straight line of your compass. Because you do these things you are called a person without character, a variable person, an eccentric person, a person on whose judgment nobody can rely. That is the case of the other people. It is as dishonest as the case Deputy Fitzgerald has made on this.
Before I finish, there is one other matter to which I want to refer. The Deputy is not content with merely trying to sabotage an Irish industry. That is not enough for him. There is a gentleman in the United States, a lawyer, who came over here as a member of the American Commission for Irish Independence, who helped the Irish movement uniformly from 1919 on. The Deputy has not enough of shame to abstain from using the privilege of his position here to slander that man. I happen to know him. I know perfectly well that there is no person in America who has so consistently assisted the Republican movement from its beginning. He was a lawyer and, as a lawyer, he had out-of-pocket expenses. He had to do certain things, to keep staffs going, and plead in cases; and if, as a lawyer, he was paid for his services, was he not entitled to be paid? The Deputies receive payment for their services. Is he in any worse position for receiving  payment than they were? Was he not entitled to payment? Over and above the services that he gave as an ordinary American citizen, an influential citizen, in support of our cause, he gave also his professional services. He was chosen to give these professional services. Were those who chose him, when they could have chosen others, to do certain work, not entitled to pay him for that work, and to give to one who knew the case and who was sympathetic with the case at least what they would give to other lawyers? There is, again, the same element of meanness in this, and I felt that before I sat down, at any rate, I would say this, that Frank P. Walsh, who was the gentleman referred to by the Deputy, deserves the gratitude of the Irish people for services to them at a time when people like him were not very ready to offer their services, and that it ill becomes one who profited by work such as Frank P. Walsh did to come along to this House and suggest, because his professional services were paid for, that this was a man— the Deputy said, I think—who did not hesitate to take it from Irish servant girls any more than from the State.
Mr. McGilligan: On a point of order, am I not entitled to clear up statements attributed to me? I made the interjection that the phrase used was not about this man. I was referring to the Second Reading.
The President: The Deputy should have waited before he took it on himself to tell us in such a dogmatic fashion that it had not been said. He should wait a little while and make sure of his facts before interrupting.
The President: The suggestion was that Mr. Walsh was not satisfied, as was said, with over-reaching the State, but that he was over-reaching poor people in America. It is a disgraceful statement and an untruth. If the House would allow me I would say something else. This has been a disgraceful debate from beginning to end —a shameful debate. I knew they had descended to low depths, but I did not think there would be anybody, even on the opposite benches, who would descend to the depths which Deputy Fitzgerald has reached.
Mr. McGilligan: This is a disgraceful Bill, and I did not think that a Government that would stoop to the depths to which they have stooped would have the temerity to bring in such a disgrace as this. To take the greater part of the disgrace out of it, however, an amendment has been moved by Deputy Fitzgerald, and not a solitary word has been said by the President in answer to the amendment. In the amendment there is a definition of a subscriber. There is one in the 1924 Act. The definition in the new Bill is that the word “subscriber” includes, “in addition to the meaning given to it by the Act of 1924, any person claiming through or under a subscriber.” Why was that amendment introduced? To let in the Irish Press.
Mr. McGilligan: If the Deputy could only get on to the Mission to China  it would be a good thing, but I think he should not. The Chinese are a decent type of pagan. At any rate, we have a definition of “subscriber” introduced to let in the Irish Press distinctly. Deputy Fitzgerald moves to amend the definition and that is the only amendment before the House. He moves to amend it in this way, that the word “subscriber” includes “the meaning given to it by the Act of 1924.” Let me go categorically through the other things. “But does not mean or include any person claiming through or under a subscriber”—here are the categories—“other than a person lawfully claiming on the death of a subscriber as the personal representative.” It is decreed that that should be a proper claim, that personal representative of a subscriber who claims that the subscriber is dead. “One of the next of kin”—that is a proper enlargement of “subscriber.”“A beneficiary under the will of a subscriber.” I am sure that up to this point I have the agreement of everyone that the word “subscriber” should be enlarged to bring in these three categories. Why then is the amendment objected to? Clearly because of the fourth category, clearly because of the Irish Press. This would let in “a bona fide purchaser for an amount of not less than 60 per cent. of the face value of the subscriber's subscription.” It was stated not to be so on the face of it.
Mr. McGilligan: It is a pity that the Deputy, before he makes an interruption of that type, would not read what is on the face of the bond, because that was there. The President will admit that it is a right and proper thing to leave in as a subscriber a person who is a bona fide purchaser. What does he object to? Apparently the end of it. He does not want the limitation that it has to be “a bona fide purchaser for an amount of not less than 60 per cent. of the face value of the subscriber's subscription.” I am going to take that as the test of the whole speech. He does not believe, despite the auditor's report, that there is anybody who would hold in court that a share in the Irish Press is  worth 60 per cent. of the face value of the bond. That is what he is objecting to. There is not another thing in the amendment that can be objected to. Let us keep that clear.
We have a definition of “subscriber” in the original Act. We have it enlarged in this to include any person claiming through or under a subscriber. It is sought to limit that by saying: “does not mean or include any person claiming through or under a subscriber,” except certain persons: a personal representative, a next of kin, a beneficiary under a will—all proper people—a bona fide purchaser for an amount of not less than 60 per cent. of the face value of the subscriber's subscription. That is what we are talking about at present. Where does the hardship arise in saying that if a subscriber is being met with less than 60 per cent. of the face value of the bond then he has a right to say: “I will still give my bond; I will give it to the Irish Press business”? But he ought to get a chance of doing that now when he sees what the Irish Press is about. That is the issue. Not whether the President said on 14th March, 1929, that the right of this House to be regarded as the legitimate Government of the country was faulty, because that is what he did say, or that the House itself was faulty, although that has been dragged into the debate. Not whether Frank P. Walsh is costly—and nobody can deny that word—in his activities in and around either the Irish Republic or the Irish Free State, or whatever is the heterogeneous business that the President is supposed to represent at present. Not, although it does arise as a material matter to be thrashed out later on, whether the President was or was not right in reading a confidential document, but only if and when it suits his purpose, and proceeding to read it with the definite statement that the rest of the document would not be made available for Deputies.
Mr. McGilligan: The President read from the document after a warning from the Chair that if he read from a confidential document the practice was that the document should be made available for Deputies, and he will not make it available.
Mr. McGilligan: The President read from a document, and there is a point of order from the Minister that the President did not read. The President did not deny that he read from a confidential document, and I am taking him as right as against the Minister.
The President: As a matter of procedure, on being told from the Chair that the whole of a confidential document would have to be read, and knowing that this particular document contained the names of individuals who furnished the President with  information from America, and not wishing to act as Deputies opposite do not hesitate to act about their opponents, I refrained from reading it in that way. Instead of that I challenged Deputies opposite to come and see the files and say whether they would deny that the President had received at that time from his advisers a statement to the effect that, in their opinion, there could be no question about the people who had parted with their subscription knowing its value.
The President: I want to make it quite clear that I refrained from reading it because of the objection, which I considered a proper one under the rules of the House, but which I am not so sure are wise. I think it might be a very important thing for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to look into, whether, if an extract is read a whole file ought to be made public. The intention is clearly that the context of a document should be shown. I refrained from quoting it, because I thought the objection was a good one under the rules of the House. Instead of that I challenged the members opposite to come over here and inspect this file. It is there for them to see it.
Mr. MacDermot: On a point of order, might I make this point? It seems to me to be an important matter as a precedent. Would it not make the rules about not reading from a confidential document nugatory and ridiculous if, instead of verbally reading it, a Minister was at liberty to challenge his opponents to say whether so-and-so was not in it?
An Ceann Comhairle: Of course there are precedents back as far as 1923.  where Ministers quoted confidential documents and refused, in the public interest, to give the documents in full or put them on the Table of the House. If the Minister decides that it is not in the public interest to do so there are numerous precedents for refusing.
Mr. McGilligan: We now have two points; the first is by the Minister for Finance that it is not confidential, and the second is by the President that it is so confidential that it cannot be published. Nevertheless, both can quote extracts in this House, and the President can get what he considers to be the purport of the document delivered in this House, and nobody is allowed to challenge it by reading the document to him. I want the document published.
Mr. McGilligan: I was not going to say that. The President, in his own polite phrase of a moment ago, might keep his mouth shut. I am not concerned with those charges that the President says this document refutes. I should like to see the document published in order to get some clear indication as to what those supposed charges are. Let us get the document, Mr. Attorney. You are a bit of an authority on secret documents. Let us have this one.
Mr. McGilligan: That makes the publication of the document as a refutation all the more urgent. It is really not a matter for this debate either as to whether someone from Mr. Cosgrave's Cabinet did not go to America to challenge the President when he was in the witness chair and to try to refute something before Judge Peters which Judge Peters turned down.
Mr. McGilligan: Here are documents that were published in answer to a request for their publication, documents A and B. Now we know that while the President, as he is now, was fighting for the Republic, and urging that these moneys should be repaid, there was a bondholders' committee that thought differently. Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly, speaking on the date to which these documents A and B refer, said that he was appointed as an envoy and landed in America in 1924; that shortly after arriving there he was sent by the then President, that is the present President, I think, a power of attorney which gave him, Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly, power to act as representative of the trustees. Remember that here is a man free from guile, who has always upheld a single cause. Mr. O'Kelly blows the gaff; “acting on instructions from here,” this very spot, “and arising out of the advice given by the lawyers, I was instructed to get formed a bondholders' committee. That committee took practical form about April, 1925.” The President was Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly's authority in those days. When the President was  upholding the cause of the Republic before the courts, Mr. O'Kelly, acting on his instructions, was forming a bondholders' committee, and putting up a separate and a contrary issue. That is how the Republic was being upheld.
Mr. McGilligan: It is really not relevant to this discussion either as to whether the man who is now President of the Irish Free State was at some time President of the Irish Republic. Again those documents A and B show that there were people twisting themselves into black knots trying to prove that he was. He himself said at this time when he was putting in a claim for recognition of the Republic, and when he wanted to get a minute sent out, he found that such a title as President of the Republic did not exist. It was in the President's imagination.
Mr. McGilligan: Here are those unfortunate people meeting as described in documents A and B, and there was only one piece of sanity that emerged from that meeting, that was that a certain Ceann Comhairle—not yourself, sir—said that he must leave the Chair if Deputy Sean MacEntee was going to speak again, and he did so. What has it to do with this debate whether the President was ever President of the Irish Republic, or ever got that title tacked on to him, when he himself found that it did not exist, and when he found that the Constitution of the then Republic did not allow for such a title or such a position?
It is not very relevant to this debate either as to whether not the Minister for Defence but a Mr. Aiken said, when  trying to get subscriptions for the Irish Press, that President Cosgrave was greatly interested in it. The present Minister for Defence was in America at that time. We know also that it was reported that our Mr. Aiken—if we may so describe him—visited a dance hall in Manhattan on a particular date, and said that if a Republic were attempted to be set up Britain was going to let knives loose upon us. Mr. Aiken denies that. It might have been the other Mr. Aiken who said that, just as it was the other Mr. Aiken who said, when looking for subscriptions for the Irish Press, that President Cosgrave was greatly interested. It is not relevant to the debate on this amendment.
It is not relevant to this debate as to whether there is any inconsistency in the attitude that our now President took up in America with regard to those bonds, whether it was compatible with all he ever said about the existing Republic and the continuance of the Republic, and whether it was compatible with what he said about the Dáil and its continuance. The only relevant matter is whether or not this House should insist that before these moneys are paid back we should limit the word “subscriber” so that it will not include any holder for value other than a holder for value where the consideration has been at least 60 per cent. of the face value of the subscriber's subscription. The President has rather cleverly tried to hide the subject of debate. The subject of debate, in fact, is whether the Irish Press should get £100,000 of this money or not.
Mr. McGilligan: The Chinese Mission has got a little bit on the Deputy's brain. We are not hindering the Chinese Mission. The money that has gone to the Chinese Mission will remain with the Chinese Mission. We should like this to be done, that any individual subscriber in America who has already given a certain amount to the Chinese Mission should be allowed to state now whether the remainder of his payment should go to the Chinese Mission or not. The Deputy laughs at that and considers it a good joke, but that is the amendment seriously put forward.
Mr. McGilligan: No. I am afraid he sees only China. The amendment we are discussing is really relevant to this Irish Press business. The President has said that we ourselves declared when we were in office that those moneys were payable. Of course we did. We said it was only a question of the moment at which the moneys were to be paid. Did we declare a moment? We declared that they could not be paid before a certain time. There may be argument, I am not going to make it here, that this is not an opportune moment. I do not base that argument entirely on the grounds that the rate of exchange is against us. It seems to me to be rather a peculiar performance when we are making the plea in connection with other debts that we are unable to pay.
Mr. McGilligan: When we are cutting down, through the medium of the Parliamentary Secretary, the wages of labourers to a particular sum; when we are getting men sacked from work to take other people on, is the moment chosen to make a payment of £1,500,000 so that the Irish Press may get £100,000.
Mr. McGilligan: So that. I believe that is the purpose of the Bill. I believe that is the purpose of introducing the Bill at this moment, and I  believe that the thing which shows that most clearly is the refusal to accept this amendment.
Mr. McGilligan: The President asks that evidence should be produced to prove that the Bill is brought in to bolster up a certain enterprise. The necessity of the enterprise is the answer. The dire necessity of the enterprise, as shown in the balance sheet to which reference has been made by the President, is the answer. We are talking about the moment for introducing this Bill. The President cannot deny that this is the moment.
Mr. McGilligan: No; it is not in the files. It is stated that it could not be repaid before a certain date before certain things were there. The President concludes that that is to be for him to say and he will bring in the Bill now that these conditions had been fulfilled. I see the President is going to quote. But will it be a quotation from a document that will be produced?
Mr. McGilligan: For the moment, while the President is looking over those, let us come to the payees. I heard very much talk about these bonds when I was in America myself and I heard this: that there had been considerable speculation in these bonds, that there had been two or three small and rather unwholesome companies formed in two American States and that they bought up, for little or no consideration, these bonds from the original subscribers. And that was in 1926, before the Irish Press appeared on the scene. At that time I was warned by people in America to see that if the repayment  of these bonds came the money would go to the original subscribers, to the persons who subscribed for these bonds. Let us suppose now that the President can get example showing that £1,000 worth of these bonds had been got for the payment of a few cents to the original holders who never believed that there was to be any repayment? Many of these original subscribers were ignorant of what was happening here. Some of them were even ignorant of the little bit of news that got into the American papers from this country and many of these did not believe that the money was to be paid. Suppose now that the President got information that £1,000 worth of bonds had been transferred for little or no consideration, would he give the original subscriber to the bonds a chance to say “still after all we will allow the bonds to be held by the person to whom they had been transferred?” If the President scans the files is he sure that he will not get evidence of that on the file? There was evidence of a gamble of that sort.
Mr. McGilligan: There were these sharp practices about these bonds but there was nothing done on the scale with regard to what was done in the case of the Irish Press. I want this amendment thoroughly understood. There is to be no bar upon the people handing over the money they are now getting to the Irish Press. The President said previously that he appealed both for the bonds and the transfer of the money to the Irish Press on the grounds of patriotism. I may warn him that he took care that patriotism was not his only plea.
“is about to be given back to you. You are probably one of those who gave your money at that time as a free gift, expecting no other return for it than the satisfaction of participating in a just cause and aiding the people of Ireland in a time of need. I feel, accordingly, that when you read this leaflet you will be disposed to make this money available a second time, again in a good cause and for the benefit of Ireland.”
I think that reveals that it was not beyond the mind of the President that some people might expect, in the form in which these donations were solicited, that they were intended for himself personally. And then this was added to the circular letter:—
“He intends to make the necessary and proper arrangements to ensure that if any profits accrue from the enterprise or if there should be any distribution of assets, such profits and the amount of any such distribution will be made available for the donors, according to their respective donations.”
And we had a paragraph of that leaflet, the last paragraph, which was rather an optimistic one with reference to the prospects of the newspaper. The President did not say in that that he expected to go on for four years before he made profits. I think there was a seven per cent. return promised.
Mr. McGilligan: I will get that letter, and I will read every word of it, but let the President give some explanation of the wording of the letter. If Deputy Cosgrave was not brought into the Irish Press circular letter, we had Professor Tierney, a prominent member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party in this House, quoted in that circular as saying that he was in favour of it.
The President: The case that was made in America was this, that an Irish newspaper was necessary; that for several reasons it was necessary. One of the reasons was that a paper was needed here of a different type to the papers that were coming in here and various authorities were quoted as having given their opinion that we badly needed here in Ireland a Press of a different type to the Press that was coming in. That Press that was coming in was objected to. And those objecting to the foreign Press were quoted. Professor Tierney was one of those who was given in a list in a particular document from which a quotation was made. It was an article, I think, in Studies. If I remember rightly, an article was published in Studies. I am not quite clear as to all the details, but I think a number of people were asked to contribute, and amongst them there was Father Devane, Professor O'Rahilly and others. The views of these people with regard to the foreign Press were quoted. And why not? Why should it not be quoted? Why should not a political opponent be quoted in a connection of that sort? What is the suggestion of the Deputy now?
Mr. McGilligan: I was doing so when I was interrupted. We are told this circular contained a quotation from Professor Tierney. I think there are only three people singled out for the honour of quotation.
Mr. McGilligan: There seems to be a lot of annoyance about what Mr. Aiken said in America. It has been mentioned that he said in America that President Cosgrave was interested in the Irish Press. There is no  explanation apparently deemed to be called for arising out of the inclusion of Professor Tierney's name in that circular. This particular circular was sent around to people to prove that a paper like the Irish Press was needed and, secondly, that an organ like the Irish Press was going to pay at least a dividend of 7 per cent.
Mr. McGilligan: A lawyer, yes. There was, however, a distinct appeal to patriotism and profits—patriotism and business. If this amendment is carried the President has two or three lines to go upon. If his auditors' report in regard to the Irish Press is as good as he makes it out to be, he will very easily be able to get a court in this country to declare that a share in the Irish Press is a good consideration, good to the extent of 60 per cent. of the face value of the bonds. Does the President really believe that?
Mr. McGilligan: Not every case. The original subscribers do not have to come near the court. There might be a test case in regard to one bondholder in respect of the Irish Press. Such a case would be of interest to the whole Irish Press subscribers. The President might then have the kudos of having established before a court in this country that an investment in the Irish Press is good value notwithstanding its balance sheet as produced the other day. “The man who holds a share is a holder of good value and is a bona fide purchaser of not less than 60 per cent.” Even if the President were to shirk that trial in the courts  or gallantly run for it and be beaten, he is still not without these subscriptions: he can still appeal to the patriotism of the folk in America who previously subscribed and handed him this money. He can make an appeal to them in this fashion: “You have seen what the Irish Press has done,” and he can take over a few selected copies and he can say: “There is what this grand organ has done for the country.” He can make the appeal to them: “Is that paper worthy of your support or is it not? He can also add business to patriotism because he can produce his balance sheet.
Mr. McGilligan: The President can go there and take it as an advertisement for value. He can produce that balance sheet to subscribers in America and say to them: “In this case we are not making any appeal to your patriotism. The time for patriotism has gone. Here is a gilt-edged security. Look at this balance sheet. Take into consideration that we are only a short time in business and we have made a trading loss of only £60,000. We have an overdraft of only £20,000, and bad debts to the extent of £37,000. We are concerned only to wipe off £5,000 as bad.” The President will then probably give an explanation of the other £32,000. They will not mind the free copies distributed to get up the so-called net sales.
The President: That is an untruth. This debate is being used by the Deputies yonder for an obvious purpose. They are abusing the privileges of the House. I say definitely that the Irish Press has got its circulation audited and I do not know that any other Irish paper has. And there are no free copies being distributed as the Deputy suggests.
Mr. Hogan: I made a remark in which I said that copies of the Irish Press were given out wholesale and I have been told now that that is not true. I was in a bookshop the other day and I saw at least half-a-dozen copies marked “complimentary” in red ink, all given out free.
The President: That is a different thing. The suggestion made here was that the circulation of the Irish Press has been misrepresented by adding free copies to the actual circulation. Every paper naturally boosts with free copies.
Mr. Bennett: I was anxious to take up what Deputy Hogan said. In at least two towns in County Limerick to every subscriber to certain papers there was a free copy of the Irish Press given and that was done at periods extending as long as a fortnight.
Mr. McGilligan: Perhaps I will now have an opportunity of getting back to bedrock. I was talking about the £37,000 of bad debts which the Irish Press say they have in their books and of which they are writing off as bad only about £6,000. The question was asked whether some part of the remaining £31,000 was not made up of moneys supposed to be collected for these free copies. The President said that there would be no such thing as a free copy. I think he has now got his answer.
The President: The only thing that interests me is this: Whether, in fact, the audited circulation of the Irish Press represents the fact or not or whether there is included, in that circulation, free copies. I said that there was not included in the circulation any free copies. Anything that may be done to increase the circulation and to get people to read it is naturally being done.
Mr. McGilligan: The only other point that has got to be answered about this is, did the auditor, or whoever made up the accounts, realise that quite a number of, say, outstanding returns, moneys due for copies of the paper supplied,  really represented what the President has now admitted to be a fact, free copies——
Mr. McGilligan: I think that the President, before he makes that statement, should ask somebody what happened at the general meeting the other day and whether that question was put and whether a clear answer was given to it.
Mr. McGilligan: Certainly. The President can go to America with this balance sheet in his hand and make to the patriotic people the same old patriotic appeal, “Support the Irish Press; look what it has done,” and to other people he can say: “There is our balance sheet,” and he can go through the various items of which I have spoken—the trading loss, the overdraft, the £37,000 debts, of which only £5,000 or £6,000 have been written off as bad, and he can establish clearly to them that the £31,000 or £32,000 represents good money and is a good asset. He can talk about the promotion on the expenses side of the balance sheet, and the £18,000 or £19,000 written off there, and he can tell them that it only relates to the period ending last December, and he can put against that the profits he now says are being made on the Irish Press and which he might have shown, for the heartening of the subscribers, to the general meeting the other day.
Mr. McGilligan: And, remember, the President is not being deprived of this money to keep the Irish Press going. The only thing we say is that there should be interposed between his getting the new subscription the assent of the original subscribers and he is only required to get that, on the terms of this amendment, if somebody legally holds that a share in the Irish Press is not a sixty per cent. face value of the bond consideration and only in those circumstances.
Mr. McGilligan: Let me leave my point for a moment. Here is what is on the bond. It is headed “Republic of Ireland—Bond Certificate” and then follows a few dots, the bracketted figure two with more dots and then:
“I, Eamon de Valera, President of the Elected Government of the  Republic of Ireland, acting in the name and by the authority of the elected representatives of the Irish nation, issue this Certificate in acknowledgment of your subscription of—dollars to the First National Loan of the Republic of Ireland. This Certificate is not negotiable but is exchangeable, if presented at the Treasury of the Republic of Ireland, one month after the international recognition of the said Republic for one dollar gold bond of the Republic of Ireland, said bond to bear interest at 5 per cent. per annum from the first day of the seventh month after the freeing of the territory of the Republic of Ireland from British military control and the said bond to be redeemable at par within one year thereafter. Signed, Eamon de Valera, President.”
If the Deputy is going to argue, I should like to hear the argument put up that, although the certificate states on the face of it, that it is not negotiable, because it goes on to say that it can be exchanged, it can, therefore, be presented by somebody else.
Mr. McGilligan: I think that this will have to legitimatise it. I think that, on the original bond, it was not and I think it has not been legitimatised so far and there is great question as to whether anybody except the original subscriber now holding these bonds is legally in possession of them but, if this amendment were carried, the transfer would be legitimatised but only to those who have paid the sixty cents consideration. The President can go to America. This does not stop him from getting this money for the Irish Press. It only means that the people who now subscribe to the Irish Press should get a chance now to declare their minds on that investment.
Mr. McGilligan: They have assigned but there is not a word of the Irish Press in the assignment—not a word of it. In fact, the thing, as I say, was so glaring that the circular that went with it had to call attention to that, as follows:—
It is nowhere in the bond and it is nowhere in the assignment of the bond that was signed at that time. The President, now, has a chance to make honest a transaction that is very dubious in present circumstances, by getting the minds of these people working on this subscription and asking them will they, on grounds of business, or on grounds of patriotism, or a mixture of the two, give him whatever remnant of the money is now going to be handed over to them from this State, at a time when this State is professing its inability to pay and its inability to keep reliefs going for industrialists, agriculturists or the ratepayer. The President says that a recent writer in the paper has said that the Opposition are chagrined because the United States citizens are ready to subscribe to an Irish newspaper. Test it out. Go to America. You are not at the stage of the promotion of this newspaper now. The newspaper is well under way. We have got over some of the bad years, according to the President. His balance sheet is declared by an auditor to be a good one and, after a little hesitation, an excellent one. Under these circumstances, it would be a great victory for the President to get these subscriptions repeated.
Mr. McGilligan: He is going to get them repeated in Ireland. That is what we are doing. That is what is being done now. The State purse is definitely being looted to give this money to the Irish Press. That is what is happening and no camouflage about whether the President was President of the Republic or what Judge Peters said or whether he was consistent in his opposition to Judge Peters or all this talk about confidential documents, can obscure that single fact that starts out, that the resources of this State are being depleted at this moment to give a certain sum of money and the moment has been chosen because of the necessity of that enterprise.
Mr. McGilligan: I certainly attacked this transfer of public moneys, without the assent of the subscribers, the original holders to the Irish Press. We had the Father Yorke monument and the Chinese Mission introduced as more red herrings across this. The people who subscribed to the Father Yorke monument or to the Chinese Mission have not had a single bit of their original subscriptions removed, but any of them who have given to either of these two, if they are not the original subscribers, will have to undergo a certain inquisition as to how they came into possession of the bonds and what they paid for them.
The President talked about the difficulties of operating this amendment. What is the difficulty? If there is a legal case in regard to every bondholder there is nothing to question.  We cut out of this amendment, by way of difficulty, every original subscriber. We cut out the personal representative of every original subscriber where the original subscriber had died. We cut out the next-of-kin of every original subscriber. We cut out the beneficiary under a will of the original subscriber. We cut out all these people, and if any of them have already transferred to either the Father Yorke monument or to the Chinese Mission, and are disposed to do so again, cannot they pass on the money without any trouble? We cut out also anybody who is a bona fide holder for value, on being declared where the consideration is worth 60 cents of the face value of the bond. The only people who are in any trouble are those who are doubtful of their claim, that being the criterion.
The root of this whole matter is this: If this was some outside company that was paying from its own resources and had to come into this House to say whether or not they should pay to the old subscribers or to holders, whether they were holders for value or voluntary holders, there could be no great question made of it. If it was the President dealing with some of his own Party funds saying that he wanted a distribution of certain shares in the way that he determined, and had to get legal sanction from this House to do that, nobody would want to look into it. But the great odium of this transaction that attaches to the President is this: that from the funds of this State he is making payment to a newspaper which supports him and from which people near to him derive profit.
Mr. McGilligan: The State is paying, and that is where the odium attaches to the whole transaction. Let us remember what was said on other occasions. The debenture stockholders of the railways were attacked, and when some question was raised about it here the Minister for Industry and Commerce rose with a sob in his voice and talked about the unfortunate porters in Ballydehob losing a shilling in their wages if that attack on capital was not made. We had the Labour Party raising in this House the question of the wages paid on relief schemes. They were told by the Parliamentary Secretary, it was his only defence, that there was not enough money in the till to pay more. When a question was raised about the casualisation of labour the House was told that it was because this country was poor and because there was not enough employment to go round. When we talked about cuts in the salaries of civil servants and other officers of this State, we were told by the Minister for Finance that he was in dire necessity: that if we could not give him this money, amounting to £280,000, the necessaries of life of the people would have to be taxed—that there was not another shilling to be got from the wealthy—from income tax or property tax. It is in these circumstances that this peculiar disgusting odium attaches  to the President, the head of a Cabinet of people who plead about the necessities of this State and the terrible difficulties that we have got into financially. He now comes along gratuitously to give to a paper that he controls, a paper which keeps him in power, £100,000.
Mr. McGilligan: And he will not submit to the simple test of asking the original subscribers whether they want that money to go to the Irish Press or not. Nobody could question this money going to the Irish Press in other circumstances. It has been recognised everywhere that this is a debt due by this country. Argument could be made that this is not the best time to pay it. First, because of the condition of the exchange and, secondly, because of the necessities of the country, but all that relates only to the moment of payment. In regard to the payee, nobody could question the people who are set out in this amendment. May I repeat the President's own words? It would require from me language which would be beyond the bounds of Parliamentary diction to characterise this transaction that we are asked to stand over, a payment against the will of the shareholders—certainly not with the declared will of the subscribers of this money—and, in these circumstances, to bolster up that paper. The only excuse that can be made for this is the dire necessity of that particular enterprise, and that is no excuse to offer to this House for this very dishonourable act.
Mr. MacEntee: Whenever the Opposition are in a difficult position and want a Deputy to talk irrelevancies and nonsense, they send for Deputy McGilligan. The greater part of that portion of his speech to which I listened had nothing whatever to do with the amendment before the House. In his opening sentences he analysed this amendment, and, having pointed out all the classes which it would not exclude from benefit, he ended by saying that the one class which would be excluded would be those who had  assigned their rights and their interest in this loan to the Irish Press. Admittedly, some portion of the original subscribers, a comparatively small portion of the original subscribers, have assigned their rights in that way, as the President has already indicated. The greater portion of the capital of that company was subscribed by Americans, and their subscriptions came in cash. I am glad to say that there was, at any rate, a sufficiency of it to enable a great newspaper, which has done great service to this nation, to be established within the last two years. It is a great newspaper. Possibly if it had not been for it, aided and abetted by the inefficiency and by the lack of patriotic instinct and national record of our predecessors in office, there would not be a National Government in power in this State to-day.
But apart altogether from that, as the President has indicated, it provides a considerable amount of employment. Over 330 persons earn a livelihood on the journalistic and printing staffs of that newspaper. There was over £100,000 of Irish money, of money subscribed by Irish people of all classes, particularly by Irish people of the poorer classes, to establish that newspaper. The only argument that could be advanced in support of the amendment that has been submitted to the House by the Opposition is that if we repay this loan in the terms of the Bill to everybody who claims through or under a subscriber, some part of the money so repaid may go, in certain circumstances, to the Irish Press to increase its capital, to increase its resources to enable it to provide additional employment, and to become definitely and finally a successful national newspaper. Is that by any stretch of imagination sufficient argument or sufficient reason for accepting this amendment. Supposing that the money were not given to the Irish Press. Supposing it were given to some other newspaper. Supposing it were given to a newspaper that, on May 10, 1916, printed a leader which contained this exhortation to those who were administering martial law in the country at that time:
Supposing some part of this money was going to that newspaper, would Deputy Fitzgerald have put down an amendment in these terms and would Deputy McGilligan have supported it in the sort of speech to which we have just listened? If he did put down an amendment, would we be any more justified in accepting that amendment because the moneys happened to be going to a newspaper of that sort than we would be justified in accepting this amendment to-day? Supposing that, apart from newspaper enterprise, the money was going into some other business enterprise in this country in which a considerable sum of Irish money was sunk and in which a considerable number of Irish people were engaged, would we be justified in accepting that amendment to exclude from the benefit and advantage of assignments, freely and voluntarily given—given, with their eyes open, as the President has already indicated, by those who originally subscribed— would we be justified in excluding an enterprise of that sort from the benefits of this Bill? Supposing it were the Irish railways. Supposing it were an Irish brewing or distilling concern or any one of the industries with the fate of which Deputies on the Opposition Benches sometimes profess to have so much concern, is there any Deputy on the Opposition Benches or on any benches in this House who would say—and this is the only principle on which this amendment can be judged—that we would be justified in accepting an amendment so that these people might be excluded from the benefits and advantages of the Bill?
Even if the case were not like that, if we have any regard for the national credit and the standing and prestige  of this State, we should not accept this amendment. The supposition here is that because people advance money—I should like to emphasise that, “advance money”—and subsequently, in their own judgment and according to the dictates of their own hearts and consciences, decide to make a gift of whatever interest they retained in these advances, we must come along and say that because the gift was made or because the bond or assignment was purchased or procured for an amount of not less than 60 per cent. of its face value, we can get up and repudiate our obligations to the original subscribers, because that is what this amendment asked us to do. If any benefit or advantage is derived from the act of the original subscribers who transferred to some other parties our obligations to them, when we repudiate our obligations to their representatives, we repudiate our obligations to the original subscribers.
We had a long and disgraceful speech from Deputy Fitzgerald. Deputy Fitzgerald should be very careful never to impute to any person corrupt motives in this House, because I think he is the only Deputy whose name, or the name of whose kinsfolk, will be found to figure in the reports of the Public Accounts Committee in connection with transactions which came under the very close scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The speeches of Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Fitzgerald were made deliberately to cover up this vital fact—that they were asking us to commit an act of repudiation in regard to obligations which were freely and voluntarily accepted by this State from the very moment of its inception. I do not think that any person who heard the President's speech can go away unimpressed by the fact that one of the first acts of the late Michael Collins was to accept without qualification and without reserve full responsibility for the repayment of these loans. Equally without reserve and without qualification, responsibility was accepted by every successor to Michael Collins in the Ministry of Finance or, if you like, as head of  the Executive Council. Now, we are to go back on that, simply because Deputy Fitzgerald would presumably allow the assignments of these bonds to find their way into the coffers of a paper which printed those articles in May of 1916, to its everlasting disgrace and to the dishonour of Irish journalism. He would allow those moneys to go into the coffers of that newspaper, possibly, as blood money, as repayment for the services they rendered to another country and another nation with whom we are at the present moment involved in a dispute. Are we, because he would allow those moneys to go into the coffers of that paper or because he simply wishes to gratify his own personal spleen, going to sully and dishonour the Government of this State without securing anything but the gratification of the meanest motive that ever animated a human heart?
We heard a great deal about the manner in which these assignments were secured. We have heard that the opinion was expressed by those who were charged with the responsibility of advising our predecessors in this matter that these assignments, if made by the original subscribers, were made with their eyes open and under circumstances in which they could not subsequently be challenged. We know that they were made, either while Deputy Fitzgerald, who was Minister for Defence, was in the United States in 1929, or they were made shortly afterwards. At any rate, he knew, and we knew, that this project was on foot then, and that people were asked to subscribe to this Irish venture. He wrote then, as we know, from New York, on October 14th, 1929, that he had informed everybody he met—even, presumably, that gentleman who had told him about his conversation with, as Deputy Fitzgerald phrased it, a man called Aiken, and he must have broached this question, according to Deputy Fitzgerald's own statement, again, in the interests of the Irish Press, to secure these assignments which Deputy Fitzgerald wishes now to exclude from the benefits of this Bill—that he knew the purpose for  which this money was being asked, and that everybody would be paid, and that it was quite definitely the intention of the Government to accept full responsibility for the payment. When Deputy Fitzgerald was making that propaganda tour—which, once again, was commented upon by the Committee of Public Accounts—he did not tell either this gentleman or that lady that he might sound about her assignment: “Oh, we will pay everybody except the subscribers who have assigned their rights to the Irish Press.” There was no reservation of that sort. There could not be any reservation of that sort, because if there was irreparable damage would be done to the credit of this State.
Are we going to accept this amendment and allow it to go to the world that if we do float a loan, and if the subscribers to the loan, pending its repayment, make up their minds that they will, so far as they can, invest their moneys either immediately or ultimately in the Irish Press, that we are going to say, or that some Government succeeding us is going to say, that the people who have regard for this people are making a good investment, as those who have assigned their bonds to the Irish Press have made a good investment, that they are going to run the risk when the loan comes to be repaid of dishonouring the bond and that some person, animated by the same petty partisan motives as Deputy Fitzgerald, will be able to carry here a majority of the House with him, in support of an amendment to exclude them from the benefits of repayment?
We are talking about floating a loan. This House adopted a Bill yesterday the purpose of which was to enable the Minister for Finance to float an Industrial Credit Corporation with a capital of £5,000,000. There will shortly be before the House a Bill to extend the sugar beet industry and for that a company with a capital of £2,000,000 will be required, as well as for other purposes, so that we will have to deal with large sums in this State in the near future. How could we possibly go to the public here, or elsewhere, if this House stultified itself by accepting an amendment in these terms? Yet  that is what Deputy Fitzgerald, in a mood of irresponsible spleen, has suggested. It was amusing to listen to the Deputy saying that possibly he might be tainted with a little Party feeling in this matter. When he said that it reminded me of a boiled lobster actually admitting that it might be slightly pink. If there was one thing clear from the Deputy's speech, and from the speech of Deputy McGilligan, it was not that he felt a slight Party feeling in the matter, but that his whole being was permeated with the meanest partisanship, and that his whole judgment has been obscured by it; so much obscured that he was willing to damage the credit of the State, in its fundamentals, in order that he might gratify some mean passion, and avenge himself in the meanest possible way upon a leader whose only regret, as he admitted here, has been that he ever entrusted the Deputy with his confidence, or ever entrusted him with the charge of publicity in relation to Irish affairs.
Mr. T. Kelly: My contribution to this debate—this sorrowful debate—will be brief. The President is indicted, and indicted in goodly company, because genuine leaders of national opinion in this country, as our unfortunate history has shown, have had to stand up against the sort of treatment that has been meted out here to-night. This debate reminds me of how old I am, because I can well remember another leader of national opinion who went to his grave with stop-thief ringing over him, ringing over a man who had given his life, all his abilities and all his honesty in the service of the Irish people. He was maligned by a hostile Press in articles written by his own companions—by people who were his own countrymen. I allude to the late Mr. Parnell. When he was dead, and when his body was carried in sorrowful procession through the streets of Dublin on an early October Sunday morning, laden with the people's tribute, to the City Hall, from whence it was afterwards transferred to Glasnevin Cemetery. A newspaper was founded by his followers to advocate his cause. I was then attached to a club in Dublin, the  Workingmen's Club, and between them they subscribed £400 in small weekly instalments towards the foundation of that newspaper. It was carried on for a few years and, at the last meeting of the company ever held, the shareholders were told that it had turned the corner, that a profit was being made. But the corner it turned was one towards Mr. Parnell's bitterest enemies, and the shareholders were never told why or wherefore. That paper was the Independent. It is just as well as to bring that reminder here when there is all this talk about the money to be subscribed to the Irish Press; to be subscribed by means not considered so honest, and all that sort of thing. It is well to remind the House of that, because it happened in my time, over forty years ago, and I was well acquainted with what was going on. It is well to remind Deputies opposite of that. If I went further back to another national leader I remember being told when I was very young by an old man who was present at the execution of Robert Emmet in Thomas Street that it was spread amongst Emmet's followers that he had turned informer, thus frustrating an attempt that was being made for him to escape.
Mr. Kelly: What I am discussing is just as much in order as what we were discussing here this evening. If I give a few reminders that are not very pleasant, well, that is what I stood up to do. I was told that that story was circulated amongst Emmet's followers and it was not until the people actually saw Emmet mounting the scaffold in Thomas Street that they believed the contrary, because the trial had been postponed a couple of times, and a number of his followers had already been executed in the streets of Dublin before Emmet himself was brought to  trial and execution. I mention these things because unfortunately there are always foul-minded people, foul-minded speakers and foul-minded writers who can give no man, who is in the position of national leader here, justice. The President here to-night stated definitely the whole story. Was there anything he said that he need be ashamed of? I shall finish my short speech by telling the House this, that any money that has been put into the Irish Press, either by bondholders, by civilians or by people who put their ready money into it, has been well invested for this reason, that only for it, and the help it gave, President de Valera and his Executive Council would not now be in power. We would have the frightfully infamous Arbour Hill code worked, a code of laws that was the most disgraceful that was ever passed in any civilised assembly. The streets of Dublin would have been a shambles. There is no doubt about it. Therefore money put into the Irish Press was money well invested by men who had an honest belief in the future of Ireland and in what can be accomplished without any further horrible experience of civil war.
Mr. P. Hogan: (Galway): The speech to which we have just listened is a very fine example of the sort of humbug— I can call it nothing else—that passes for patriotism at the present moment. It was, I will admit, apparently sincere but it was nevertheless almost entirely political propaganda. For instance, let us take up where the Deputy left off. Here is a man who gets up and states, as if everyone should be expected to believe him, that if President de Valera had not got in, the streets of Dublin would run red with blood. Of course that is mere Party propaganda. I suppose nobody knows better than President de Valera that is not so. There was no blood in the streets of Dublin for the seven or eight years the previous Government was in office. There was more quietness then than there is now, or than there is likely to be. That is the sort of thing that passed for Party propaganda during the last election and it was extremely  useful. The next statement was this— an attempt which they have just failed. to get away with—an effort to identify Mr. de Valera as Party leader with Parnell as national leader, Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Robert Emmet. That happens to be all beside the point. Parnell was, for portion of his career, national leader. President de Valera, it is true, is head of the Government, but Mr. de Valera is merely a Party leader with a bare majority, and he was in a minority for nine years.
Mr. Hogan: We are not talking about your opinion; we are talking about facts. It is time for us to stop this humbug. An effort is being made to compare Mr. de Valera as Party leader with Parnell as national leader. Mr. de Valera for seven or eight years was in a considerable minority in this country. After a general election he got a slight majority. He is just a successful Party leader at the moment. Nobody on this side recognises him as national leader.
Mr. Hogan: Of course the Deputy will not listen to this. There is another point. We ought to try, at least for a moment, to study facts. There is a lot of humbug passing at the moment as honest criticism. People get up and talk about Parnell. I even hear people in my own county talk about him— people whose forebears were not only anti-Parnell but “anti” everything national. Parnell is the “goods” just at the moment in the mouths of people who never did anything to advance Irish nationalism. I would ask Deputies to remember that there are a great many people in this country who think that Parnell struck at one period in his career a terrible blow at Irish nationalism. However, that is a very debatable point and I merely mention it because Parnell's name was brought up in this debate. There is another point. There is just this distinction between Parnell's handling of funds to establish a newspaper and the present performance. Parnell never handled  State funds at any time. He always handled Party funds, and as head of his Party, within certain limits, he had a perfect right to do what he liked with them. Exactly what we complain of is this: that Mr. de Valera, Party Leader, who became President and head of the Government, is using funds which he has got as President and head of the Government, State funds in fact, in exactly the same way as if they were Party funds. That is the distinction I cannot get on the other side.
Mr. Hogan: I listened to Mr. MacEntee and his charges about partisanship and the enmity we had for the Irish Press. Deputy Kelly thinks that the Irish Press did a national service by helping to beat us and to establish President de Valera. You cannot get this: 48 per cent. of the Irish people even at the last election thought that the establishment of the present Government was a national disaster and that number is growing every day.
Mr. Hogan: At least the majority in the last Dublin election showed that they thought the establishment of the present Government was a national disaster. The point is that Ministers opposite are not national leaders. They do not speak for the whole people. They speak at best for a bare majority, and they have not any right to use State funds for purely Party purposes. I listened to Mr. MacEntee, who talked about the rancour of Deputy Fitzgerald and his enmity to the Irish Press. If there is one thing clear from this speech, is it not that what is behind the whole thing is the enmity of the Party opposite, as owners of a Party newspaper, to a successful rival in the country, a rival that is beating their paper in business? Was that not perfectly clear from Mr. MacEntee's speech?
Mr. Hogan: I am referring to the speech of the Minister for Finance. At  least quarter of his speech dealt with the Irish Independent. He may not have mentioned it but everyone in the House knew the reference was to the Irish Independent every time.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I want to say that if the Minister for Finance had made it clear that he was referring to the Irish Independent I would have stopped him. I think if he had mentioned the name I would have stopped him at once because it is decidedly unfair to say things that are privileged about an outside concern in a privileged assembly. I do not think he mentioned the name.
Mr. Hogan: I bow to your ruling. It is quite obvious that what is biting Ministers opposite is that there is another far more successful paper in the country that is beating their paper to the ropes as a business proposition. It has to be admitted that their paper has lost huge sums, almost a £1,000 a week, since it was started and it must be at the moment in an extremely shaky financial position. An attempt is being made to represent the President, though he may be misguided and may be deceived and may have no aptitude for business, as a person exalted, a person full of ideals. I never agreed with that myself but this performance is one of the trickiest transactions in his career. It is an unsavoury business from start to finish. I go so far as to say almost that the money was got under false pretences. I go so far as to say that it is being used in a thoroughly unworthy fashion, that this whole business from start to finish, on which Deputies are attempting to put a veneer of patriotism and even of idealism, is a thoroughly unsavoury piece of sharp practice. Every Deputy on the benches opposite and every thinking man in the country knows that.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Aiken): Deputy Hogan, along with a couple of his colleagues, is well-known as a champion slinger of dirt. They have tried to make politics so dirty that only someone like themselves might enter them. It is not an easy thing to free a people. It is not an easy thing to  raise a people up who have been down so much and for so long, disgusted with their national representatives, as the people of this country were at the time of the Treaty.
Mr. Aiken: And the Deputy and those with him who seized power at the time at the expense of the lives of their own people, and tried to hold on to it at the expense of the people of this country, hope to get back that power if only they can throw enough dirt at the leaders in this country who raised the country to something in the way of power.
Mr. Aiken: I put Deputy Hogan a few questions. Will he hold this: that a man in possession of bonds issued by the Free State Government a few years ago is not entitled to give them to whomsoever he pleases? Will he hold that that man cannot assign these bonds to whomsoever he pleases?
Mr. Aiken: There is a qualification —there is a “daresay” about it. Will  the Deputy deny that anybody who holds a Free State Bond is legally entitled to assign that bond to whomsoever he pleases?
Mr. Aiken: The Deputy does not deny that right. There was a lot of talk, some time ago, about honouring our bonds, but that apparently was only to apply in the case of British Government money, which this country did not really owe, and which this country was dragged into paying through the dishonesty and the incompetence of the Party opposite.
Mr. Aiken: The Deputy is getting a little upset. I said there was a lot of talk about the honouring of bonds. There was a bond issued in this country, I do not think that the Deputy subscribed to it. I think he offered 5/- to someone who wanted a note for £1 from him. There were bonds issued when this country badly required bonds, when it was in grips with the only enemy it ever had for a long time. These bonds were issued in the same way as the Free State Bonds were issued a few years ago. There were promises to pay at some future date the moneys subscribed. And if anybody wants to assign these bonds he has a right to assign them whether to the Irish Press, or to anybody else, as he would have a right to assign Free State Bonds. Quite a large  number of people decided to assign these bonds. Deputies opposite cannot have it both ways. Either people knew what they were doing when they assigned their bonds, or they did not. Either they knew they were valuable, or they were valueless. Deputies opposite claim both arguments in the same breath. These Republican Bonds issued to the American people were not valueless. They were not valueless in the eyes of the people who assigned them to a different purpose, when these people went to the trouble of going before a notary public, and, in the presence of two witnesses, assigned those bonds to some other person.
Another thing is this. Deputies cannot pose the law here and say that it is legal for a person to assign a Free State Bond to some one person, but not to somebody else. It is all very well to argue that here. Deputies opposite may not know the full weight of this amendment. As soon as the Party opposite left office they seemed to have got stupid quite suddenly. Deputy Cosgrave the other day moved an amendment referring back a Supplementary Estimate on the Land Bonds. He told Deputy MacDermot that the effect of it would be that the farmers would get £260,000 more if his amendment were accepted, whereas the real effect of it would be that if it were carried the Land Bond holders would not be paid at all. Several instances have happened, since Deputies opposite went out of office, to show how really stupid they were, and how stupid they must always have been. It was only when speeches were shoved into their pockets by civil servants that they could boast of something that in reality they did not possess at all.
The real effect of this amendment is this, if Deputy Hogan and others could only see it. If it were passed it would mean that representatives of the people in this country were saying that anyone who subscribed to their funds, or who had subscribed to them in the past, was not legally right in assigning these bonds to whomsoever he pleases.
Mr. Aiken: That is the effect and the Deputy has admitted it in cross-examination unwillingly, hesitatingly and stutteringly, as he always does when he has to tell the truth. He has admitted now that people have a right to assign their Free State Bonds to whomsoever they please.
Mr. Aiken: ——not only to Mr. de Valera. They have been assigned for many purposes and to many individuals and many bodies. The moneys were subscribed originally because a vast number of Irish people in the United  States thought more of their race than Deputy Hogan did and put their hands down into their pockets and proved their practical patriotism by subscribing to the fund, which Deputy Hogan is reported not to have done.
Mr. Aiken: Anyway, these people subscribed. They put their hands down into their pockets and when the funds were being returned by the American Courts they had a right to assign the bonds to whomever they pleased. They did a number of things with these bonds. Many of them, who were not in immediate want of the cash, assigned them to other purposes and causes that would do honour to the Irish race. Numbers of them assigned bonds to the Chinese Mission. Many others assigned them to the Father Yorke Memorial. In every city in the United States local committees were formed to secure these bonds for the building of churches and schools and all the rest of it, and if this amendment goes through the effect of it will be that these bodies and institutions will not get the cash either. This country surely is not going to repudiate and dishonour its bond. I trust that there is enough sense of decency here, that there is enough wisdom in the Deputies here, who want to see this country go ahead, not at this period to raise doubts as to whether this country is going to honour its bond in future or not. I  trust that they will have sense enough to let it be known that this country is going to repay, to the people from whom it borrows or their legal assignees, the moneys it borrowed from them. That is the question at issue and I trust as I say, that Deputies will have enough sense to turn down the amendment of Cumann na nGaedheal by a vast majority.
Mr. V. Rice: I can say in a very few words what I have to say about this Bill. It is the most unsavoury Bill that has ever been introduced in this House and, therefore, I ask the House to support this amendment. The Bill has a bad smell. At the present time every country in the world that owes debts is trying by every honourable means to postpone payment owing to the financial conditions. This country, through its Government, now proposes to pay a debt which is not due. This debt is not due because the condition of affairs under which these bonds are payable has not arisen. We have the fact that £1,500,000 are to be raised from the distressed people of the country at the present time in order to pay a debt which is not due. What is the reason for the payment of that debt at the present moment? The reason for it appears in the disastrous balance sheet of that Government Party Press at the present moment. £59,000 trading loss and £19,000 overdraft, and we were told this evening that it was making a profit! The only reason why any country in the world, governed by a sane Government, would pay a debt would be because it was due. This is not due, and it is being proposed at a time when the farmers in the country are being stripped of everything they have by the Government. This payment is being proposed at the present time in order to put £100,000 into the pockets of the Irish Press.
Mr. Norton: I do not propose to follow this debate over the field the debate has travelled because I think many irrelevant things and many disedifying  things have been said in the course of the debate. Deputy Fitzgerald, earlier in the evening, insinuated that the present President of the Executive Council had almost “put it over” on the people of the United States who held these bonds that they were valueless and got assignments on the basis that they were valueless and that he fooled them into subscribing, in the belief that the bonds were, in fact, of no value, to the Irish Press, which in some circumstances might be able to get something out of them.
I cannot believe that Deputy Fitzgerald, notwithstanding his flights of fancy to-day, would even think that they were valueless. How could he think that, in face of the declaration made by the late General Collins in 1922 and the many declarations of the ex-Minister for Finance, Mr. Blythe, that the bonds would not be redeemed? We had statements almost annually by the former Minister for Finance that those bonds would be redeemed and the money paid by the Irish Free State. Unless one is to assume that the Irish bondholders had no trust and no faith in the statements made by the Cumann na nGaedheal Minister for Finance, one could not possibly contend that the bondholders believed the bonds were valueless, and not even Deputy Fitzgerald, in face of the repeated declarations by his own Government that the bonds would be honoured, could possibly pretend to believe that these bonds were really valueless.
In support of what seemed to me to be a very obvious case, requiring very little proof of the assertion, the President quoted from documents which, he said, represented the opinion of counsel to the late Government giving the view which the American bondholders had of the value of the securities they then owned, and not even Deputy Fitzgerald or Deputy McGilligan challenged the accuracy of that advice which the late Government obtained. Nobody would seriously challenge the accuracy of the statement that the bondholders knew what their rights were, knew the value of the asset they had. They were entitled to know it and to feel that they had a sound asset in view of the  declaration of the Government of the Irish Free State—a Government by no means insolvent—that it would redeem the bonds and pay interest charges on them. So that the statement that the President was pulling wool over the eyes of the American bondholders is only made in sheer desperation to try to make a case which could not be made in fairness and truth against this Bill.
Deputy Rice and other Deputies said that this was a disgraceful Bill, that it savours of corruption and all kinds of vices, from which they, no doubt, are perfectly free. But in every year from 1922 the Cumann na nGaedheal Government had an opportunity of redeeming these bonds. If they had redeemed them in 1922, or in any of the years prior to 1932, the individual bondholders would have been repaid as it would have been possible to draft the Act providing for repayment in such a way as definitely to prevent assignment. They slept on the matter, however, from 1922 to 1932, and having slept on the matter, they come along now and accuse the Government of deliberately rushing repayment. They accuse the Government as if the Government had skipped over to America to get the assignments once they got into office. It will not be denied, even by Deputy Fitzgerald, that these assignments were got in America when the Cumann na nGaedheal Government were in office. Is not that admitted? Can anybody say then that the assignments secured by the present Government Party in America in respect of these bonds were for the purpose of introducing this Bill in order to implement the assignments which they had secured? That is the complexion that it is sought to paint on this Bill and on the act of the Executive Council. But Deputy Fitzgerald's Government after the assignments had been secured by the Fianna Fáil Party, and while the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was still in office, could quite easily have introduced a Bill and could have frustrated that. They could have repaid the individual bondholders and prevented the money reaching the Irish Press. They did not do that. The Government now make it possible  for a person to benefit if he holds an assignment of bonds and, because the Cumann na nGaedheal Party put on a long finger from 1922 to 1932 the question of repaying the bonds, they get up here in the House and in a spirit of what seems to me to be mock innocence pretend that it is a very unsavoury Bill reeking with graft and corruption.
What is the real objection to a person obtaining repayment if the bonds have been definitely assigned to that person? Deputy Fitzgerald did not presume to say that he wanted to impede in any way the Maynooth Mission to China getting repayment of the bonds which have been assigned to them. He did not purport to desire to deprive the Father Yorke Memorial Committee of repayment of the bonds assigned to them. He did not propose to prevent the Gaelic League from getting repayment of the bonds assigned to them. If there was a question of these bonds being assigned for the erection of a national monument here, or the provision of a national park here to commemorate one thing or another, there would be no objection whatever. The only thing that has come out in the course of the long speeches of Deputies McGilligan and Fitzgerald is their antipathy to one particular set of assignments, and that is the set of assignments going to a newspaper organ which does not support their Party. Stripped of all this veneer of the dialectics indulged in and the propaganda speeches made, the real purpose of the amendment is to try to prevent what is morally, at all events, a very definite assignment of bonds. This Bill seeks to make it possible for a person who morally holds an assignment to hold it with such legal sanction as to enable that sanction to pass muster in American courts. I cannot see any objection to this Bill, or any case for this amendment, except the case nakedly made by Deputy Fitzgerald and Deputy McGilligan, namely: “Let us do what we possibly can to prevent this money going to the Irish Press, because so far as we are concerned, the Irish  Press is our political opponent, and everything else must be subordinated to trying to get a kick at our political opponent.”
Many disedifying things have been said during the course of this debate. This debate has neither added to the dignity of the House nor to the honour and integrity of the nation. I sincerely hope that American newspapers will give a very short report of the speeches of Deputy Fitzgerald and Deputy McGilligan. They are speeches that have not enhanced the reputation of their Party, or of this Assembly, or of the nation as a whole, and I hope that the high-minded American people, who subscribed the money in one of the darkest periods of our history, will try to forget the disedifying scenes we have witnessed here to-day, and the disedifying speeches we have listened to, and that they will be prepared to believe, so far as the Irish nation is concerned, that in passing this Bill the promise made by the nation in its hour of trial and tribulation is being honoured, and that the honouring of that promise is not in the slightest way sullied by the fact that we propose in the Bill to allow persons who have got legal and moral assignments to exercise these assignments and to claim from the State the money which has been legally assigned to them by those who held the bonds from the State.
Mr. Minch: The speech of Deputy Norton compels me to intervene in this debate. He has not very much of a record, any more than I have, which would entitle him to speak on this matter. It would have been better if he had not taken part in the debate and had refrained from referring to disedifying scenes. If this money was subscribed in America for a physical war with Great Britain is it not more important now to retain it to fight an economic war with Great Britain? I am sure that anybody who has the credit and the honour of the nation at heart will agree that if we entered into a contract to repay this money we should do it. I do not think anybody on this side of the House is against repayment. As a matter of fact, they are for it.
Mr. Minch: At the same time, I think that in the present distressed condition of our country this is the wrong time to repay the money. We could easily say to the American subscribers and their representatives that we are now in an economic war with Great Britain and that the money should be retained until after the war is decided one way or the other. Either that or declare a Republic and let them do the business.
Mr. MacDermot: I am under the same disability that Deputy Minch has referred to in connection with Deputy Norton of being out of this fight, but I take it it is not a private fight, it is a free fight. I have listened to the debate attentively. It has been much longer than I expected, and required more attention than I expected it to require. I must say that I am still not very satisfied in my mind as to the right course to take on this Bill. I do not altogether like the amendment, because it seems something of a novelty in dealing with the repayment of a loan of any kind to make conditions about assignments. Moreover, although there was no opposition to this Bill on the Second Reading, a good many of the speeches in support of the amendment have certainly seemed to me to be in opposition—especially the speech of Deputy Rice—to the Bill as a whole, a situation which leaves me somewhat confused. I have, as I say, listened attentively to the speeches, and I have not heard evidence produced to convince me, at any rate, that there was any sharp practice in connection with obtaining the assignment of those bonds in America. I have heard assertions, but I have not heard any evidence to convince me of that. On the other hand, I am not disposed to go as far as Deputy Norton went, when he emphasised that there is no reason at all for objecting to one particular class of assignments. I think there is an objection. I think that, considering that the date when these bonds were to be repaid was not fixed, that the rate of interest was not fixed, that as a matter of fact there have been  negotiations since this Government came into office concerning doubtful matters that had to be settled, considering the President's position as Leader of an Opposition Party, and the possibility that he might some day be, as he actually is, President of the Executive Council, I do say that there was a flagrant indelicacy in asking to have those bonds assigned for the purpose of supporting his Party organ.
Mr. MacDermot: It does not appear to me to either need development, or be capable of development. It is a matter of feeling. It has been suggested that this Bill was brought in for the purpose of supporting the Irish Press and giving a gift to the Irish Press. I do not believe that. I want to say that specifically. I believe the Government are repaying this loan because they consider it is their duty, and that the effect on the Irish Press is incidental. I do say that it seems to me that it was not a proper thing for the Leader of the Opposition Party, when going to America to get subscriptions for his newspaper, to have taken into the ambit of his activities the holders of these bonds. It would have been far better if he had confined himself to ordinary subscribers of cash, and not gone after the bondholders at all. It seems to me that that is a matter of feeling and cannot be argued about; it seems to me that there are obvious objections to it.
Mr. MacDermot: It has transpired to be so by creating distrust and producing a lot of the kind of talk here that I should much rather not have to listen to, distrust not confined to active politicians. I acquit the Government completely for my own part of any improper motives, but I do say that this association of this Irish bond issue with a Party organ is an undesirable thing. It would be much better if the two things had not gone together in any shape or form. Also I think,  while we are on that, that it was very unfortunate indeed that in the prospectus and the appeals that were issued in America in connection with the Irish Press the name of Professor Tierney should have been used. I know the case can be made in defence of it that something was merely being quoted which he had actually said. Formally it is not a bad case, but as a matter of practice I have not the slightest doubt that nine people out of ten, looking at such a prospectus with the name of Professor Tierney used in it, would have inferred that he was supporting the enterprise.
I will limit myself to those observations, but I do think it is desirable that it should be recognised that, while the Government are not, I am sure, guilty of some of the motives that have been ascribed to them, as a matter of delicacy and of keeping the reputation of Cæsar's wife absolutely above suspicion it would have been better if this transaction had not taken place.
The President: I feel that I am as good a judge of delicacy as the Deputy who has spoken, and I think that I ought to be able to realise where there is indelicacy just as well. Am I to be told that it is indelicate to ask instead of cash an assignment of State Bonds, of bonds the payment of which was definitely promised by the State and authorised by Act of Parliament? Is it to be suggested that if I went to America to get an assignment of State Bonds, bonds issued by the Free State, that it would be indelicate for me to do it? If I possess State Bonds to-morrow in my own personal right, am I acting indelicately——
The President: All right. The payment of those bonds, by Act of Parliament, was a definite national charge. Would it be indelicate of me to get them even personally if I arranged to get them? I say I would not take them as a gift; it might be  indelicate to do so; but is it to be suggested that it would be indelicate for me to purchase, let me say, at their full value if I chose, bonds of this sort? Why should the possession of bonds of the State by an individual, suppose it is Eamon de Valera the individual and not the President at all——
The President: It is not a different point. If I happen to possess in my own right—it does not matter how I got them—State Bonds, is it to be suggested, because I as a private individual have those bonds, that when I am President of this State I am not to pay the proper interest that is due on those bonds? If those are passed on by me to an Irish enterprise, obtained for that enterprise, obtained in lieu of cash when cash was being obtained for that enterprise, where is the indelicacy, I should like to know, in taking those in lieu of cash, and giving to the holders of them cent for cent the same rights that they would have got if they had contributed cash?
I think that the Deputy is being misled by some of the tactics of the opposite side. So many suggestions have been made that it would take me a week to answer them. It has been suggested that we choose this moment —a moment that was indicated in advance. We are wonderful prophets! We should know that we would be actually in office at the time those payments were about to be made. We would want to have wonderful prevision in order to be able to see that just at the time when the receivers were going to be discharged, when the time indicated by our predecessors had just come about, we would be the people in office. We would have to see all that before there would be the slightest suggestion of indelicacy, and even then there would be no indelicacy about it.
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