Thursday, 28 September 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
The motion covers both the bringing of the Act into operation and the administration of the Act after being brought into operation, and, if the Government fail to justify what they have done under either heading, there is no doubt that their conduct can be justly described as “unjust and oppressive.” The subject matter of this motion is one that necessarily excites strong feeling in all those who believe that the Government has acted unfairly and tyrannically, but I shall try to say what I have to say in a  good-tempered manner, and to refrain from leading the debate into the bitterness and personalities that were aroused by the same subject in 1931. I have, however, one strong thing, and even an offensive thing, to say, and I propose to say it at once, and to get it over. That is in reference to the Labour Party. It is stated in the Press, with apparent authority, that the Labour Party intend to support the Government on this motion. Well, I have studied politics long enough in various countries to know that one must not expect too much idealism among politicians.
Mr. MacDermot: I must say that I have never heard of, or read of, any action so unprincipled, so contemptible, and so definitely degrading to political life, as would be a vote by the Labour Party in favour of the Government on this motion. They would not merely be voting in flagrant contradiction of all their declarations on this subject in the past, but they would be voting, and I do not hesitate to say it, against the opinions to-day of those among them who have any longer got minds that are free to think, or hearts that are free to feel.
The Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act, 1931, which I propose to call henceforth by its popular name, the Public Safety Act, is an Act of appalling severity. It is not my business to inquire whether that Act was justified in 1931, but I will say quite candidly that there are things in it I personally would feel a difficulty in supporting, under any circumstances. At any rate, this can scarcely be denied —that these powers of life and death, these powers of defining crime and punishing crime, should not be given to a few military officers, or to the Executive Council, unless upon the ground of overwhelming necessity. The Government cannot escape the imputation of having been unjust and oppressive unless it can show, first, that there has been a widespread prevalence of serious crime, and, secondly, that the machinery of the ordinary law for dealing with such crime has broken down.
In 1931, the then Opposition went much farther than that in the position  they took up. They admitted, through Deputy de Valera, as he then was, that “terrible things had recently been done.” They did not deny that there had been intimidation of witnesses, and intimidation of juries, which had prevented the punishment of the offenders. They did not deny that there had been violence used against the Civic Guards, but they claimed that there had been, in some cases, provocation by the Civic Guards. They took the view that for a Government to bring in such a Bill as the Public Safety Bill was in itself a confession of that Government's unfitness to govern, and that in the words of a certain Deputy Fahy, “A Government should take office that believed that they could govern without such a measure as this.” Deputy de Valera, as he then was, stated that a Government bringing in such a measure was acting on the motto “If anyone gets in your path, squelch him, by God squelch him.” Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly said that the measure could only sow the seeds of strife and dissension. Deputy Ruttledge said that the constitution of the tribunal was enough in itself to damn the whole Bill, as members of the Defence Forces would necessarily regard themselves as servants of the Executive Council. Senator Colonel Moore declared that the whole law was in such conflict with the first principles of justice that any sentence of the tribunal would be devoid of moral validity, and any death sentence would be nothing short of murder. All these things, and more, with illustrations from the lives of the principal members of the then Government, were said by Deputy MacEntee, whose sober and kindly eloquence so endears him to this House.
Whether or not all these fundamental objections to the Public Safety Act can be sustained, I am on safe ground, at all events, in saying that a prevalence of crime and a breakdown of the ordinary law are necessary to justify it.
Let us consider the circumstances under which the Act has been brought into operation by the present Government. Where was the serious crime? I know of no crime or, at any rate, of  no crime amongst the organisation against which the Act is being directed. The Government brought this Act into operation to deal with the National Guard. What crimes have the National Guard committed? I know of only one attempt at a full statement of the case against the National Guard. That is the statement that was made by the Minister for Justice in the Seanad. I can only describe that case as unbelievably frivolous. Objection was taken to the internal constitution of the organisation and also to their political objects. As regards their internal constitution, the duties of obedience and discipline, the system by which officials were appointed by selection from the top rather than by election from the bottom, were things that existed equally in bodies that no Government outside perhaps Germany, Spain or Mexico, would think of banning. They exist in religious Orders, in the Boy Scouts, in the Salvation Army and even in the I.R.A. Te duty of obedience does not imply that orders are to be obeyed if those orders are contrary to law. In any case, the National Guard has substantially the same constitution as when it was known as the A.C.A., and the Government did not find it necessary to take these extraordinary measures until it became the National Guard and until General O'Duffy took command of it. So far as I can learn, the influence of General O'Duffy on the National Guard was entirely beneficial. He purged it, let me say quite candidly, of some doubtful characters. I do not know of any large political party or political organisation which has not got some doubtful characters. General O'Duffy purged the organisation of some doubtful characters. He announced that it was to be definitely a non-military body, that it was not to have military drill and that it was not to carry arms. What has there been in the career of General O'Duffy that would make us believe these pledges were not to be relied upon? I certainly wished—I said so at the time— that he had chosen for the organisation some less military-sounding name than the National Guard. As it happened, the conversations which brought about  the formation of the United Ireland Party had begun a few weeks before General O'Duffy took over the A.C.A. and called it the National Guard. One of the things I had brought forward at the very first of these conversations was that the A.C.A. should be reorganised and that it should be given a civilian name such as the “Young Ireland League.” Nevertheless, when General O'Duffy, with his distinguished record of service to the State, took over control of the National Guard, I could not but feel that, from every point of view, it was a satisfactory thing—that his experience of discipline and his wide knowledge of how to deal with men would be of the greatest value in securing that the organisation would be conducted upon right lines.
There is no disguising the fact that just as the Irish Volunteers were brought into existence by the licence that was accorded to the Ulster Volunteers, so the A.C.A., in the form it took in 1932, was brought into existence by the licence that was given to the I.R.A. It was also obvious that some of those who were prominent in the A.C.A. were influenced and had their views and their speeches coloured by observation of Fascist developments in certain foreign countries. It did seem possible, in view of the feeling aroused by the parades and the intimidation indulged in by some members of the I.R.A., and in view of the articles that appeared week by week in the “Phoblacht,” that we were moving towards a civil conflict between what the President described as “private armies.” When General O'Duffy took over, I felt reassured and I believe I was justified in feeling reassured. I thought that a youth movement, laying stress on athletics and laying stress on voluntary, public service and on devotion to law and order and to the rights of the individual was the best possible antidote to the corruption of our young people by subversive influences.
It is true that, in some of his speeches, General O'Duffy expressed himself as wishing to make rather radical reforms in parliamentary government. Candidly, I do not agree  with everything he said on that head, but there was not a word of illegality in it and no suggestion that the reforms he advocated were to be introduced by force. What, then, explains the violent excitement registered by the Government, their stocktaking of arms, their absurd Guy Fawkes fire in the cellar of Leinster House, their enrolling of new Civic Guards, experienced in the use of the gun, and the sensationalism that caused such an inrush of foreign newspaper correspondents to report upon the lurid happenings in this country—all these events that, according to the statement of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this House last night, caused so much damage to Irish trade? What was the real cause of all that? I am quite sure that the cause of it was the sudden conviction of the Government that General O'Duffy was a political danger to them.
Mr. MacDermot: I shall not accuse them of having acted fraudulently. I shall assume that they believed, or half believed, what they said about the danger of the State. But men must be judged by their actions, and the action of the Government in calling in the Public Safety Act and proclaiming the National Guard is none the less unjust and oppressive even if they worked themselves up to the belief that they had grounds for doing so. Whether they intended it or not, they acted to the full on the motto referred to by the then Deputy de Valera, “If anyone gets in your path, squelch him, by God squelch him.”
Having obtained their dictatorial powers, the Government did not stop at using them against the National Guard or even impeding the Young Ireland Association, which has taken the place of the National Guard. The powers which they had not thought necessary for dealing with the terrible acts of sabotage that took place during the railway strike and which they did not think necessary for dealing with the attacks on private property and individual liberty by members of the I.R.A. they are now using against  farmers who have been driven to desperation by the ruin brought upon them by the policy of the Government. As the case of some of these men is sub judice, I am not in a position to speak freely on that head.
Mr. MacDermot: I will say this: assuming there was a deliberate refusal to pay rates by people able to pay them, or assuming even that there was a movement to persuade or to intimidate people not to pay rates who could pay rates, there is nothing at all to show that the ordinary law was not sufficient to deal with the situation, and, as Deputy Davin said in 1931, that there is not still ample machinery for dealing with any refusal to pay rent or to pay rates. The Government were not confronted with any sudden or unexpected emergency. Anybody with sense knew beforehand that there was going to be difficulty this year about collecting rates and indeed about collecting annuities when it comes to collecting annuities. They had had sufficient illustration of that from what occurred last year when for so long they insisted and pretended that annuities must be paid and when in the end they took action to save themselves from having to incur the odium of collecting them. I may say that I personally was put in this awkward position, that having been consulted by supporters last year as to whether to pay or not to pay, I advised them that it was their duty to pay, and they did pay, and that I afterwards had letters of reproach from them and inquiry as to whether I could not get their money back.
Mr. MacDermot: What I said last year with regard to rent I also said with regard to rates. What I said was in strict accordance with the official policy of the Centre Party and the National Farmers and Ratepayers' League. At the very first meeting on 15th September last year of the  National Farmers and Ratepayers' League I ran the risk of incurring unpopularity, and I did incur the severe displeasure of my friend Deputy Belton, because I opposed and defeated a motion which seemed to imply that it was not the duty of the people in this country to pay their rent and their rates if they could pay them.
Mr. MacDermot: In frequent speeches in the country, in letters to the newspapers, and in speeches here in this Dáil, both my colleagues and myself have stated over and over again that we would not stand for any person refusing to pay who had the means wherewith to pay.
Mr. MacDermot: At the same time, we have always said, and we still say, that it is grossly unjust of the Government to seek to collect these moneys in view of what they have done to the farmers of this country, and that so far as we can legally save from victimisation the unfortunate people who cannot pay we certainly will do everything to save them. All this talk about conspiracy in relation to non-payment is pure and absolute humbug. Take the case of County Kerry, which I suppose is the most Fianna Fáil county in Ireland. We had the figures published only the other day showing that in the collection of the current rates out of £76,000 only £4,000 have been got in. Is there a Fianna Fáil conspiracy down in County Kerry? If so, why have not the local Fianna Fáil Cumann been proclaimed under the Public Safety Act?  The Government's policy was bound to lead to all this. I suggest that these oppressive and sensational measures against the unfortunate farmers are just what Americans call a “frame-up” by which they hope to persuade the country, and, indeed, even to persuade themselves, that what has come to pass is not a proof of their rashness and of their folly but of the wickedness of the Opposition.
I do not propose to detain the House at this stage because I feel that I shall be obliged to say something more in reply to this debate. My difficulty at the present moment is that the Government have not put up any case for us to deal with. They simply have not begun to make a defence of the harsh and arbitrary action that they have taken. Still less have they attempted to explain the lack of impartiality with which the Public Safety Act is being administered by them. They have given us no clue to the mental process by which they reconcile what they are doing now with what they did in 1931. I can find more excuse for them than I can for the Labour Party. It is the besetting sin of Governments to believe that the Opposition is composed of enemies of the country who ought to be squelched, or sent to bed, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce puts it. But a Labour Party that supports tyranny has been false to everything for which a Labour Party stands.
Mr. MacDermot: I should be glad if the Deputy would explain anything he has to explain in this House. This conduct of the Government, although it can be advantageously differentiated from that of the Labour Party, has certainly antagonised me more than anything that has occurred since they came into office. In 1931 Deputy de Valera referred to the terrible things that had been done. He said that the  true remedies were infinite patience and brotherly love. I do not sneer at that sort of talk, mind you. I do not sneer at it; I believe there is a lot in it. “Let us appeal to them,” he said, “and asked them in God's name not to do those things.” What has happened to make those methods inappropriate in 1933? Are infinite patience and brotherly love to be reserved for people who have actually committed crimes? If people are suspected—and suspected only on slender grounds—of being about to commit crime, is there any reason why the Government should not appeal to them in the name of God not to do those terrible things they are suspected of being about to do, instead of hauling them before a military tribunal, or even of using the ordinary law against them?
I suggest that there is nothing in the career of the President of the Executive Council which becomes him so little as two things he has done during the last few months. The first is his declaration that it was the supreme pleasure of his life to make his opponents digest gall and wormwood; the second is his assumption and his abuse of the powers contained in the Public Safety Act. He affects to sneer at my professions of devotion to the rule of law, and to individual liberty within the rule of law. I am not afraid to repeat those professions. I feel so deeply on the subject that not only would I immediately abandon any political party, or politics itself, if I were to be called upon to do anything which infringed those principles, but— what is perhaps more of a test—I am prepared to stay in politics and fight for those principles when they are shamefully deserted by the people whose job it is to support them.
Professor O'Sullivan: Deputy MacDermot, in the exceedingly moderate and able speech to which the House has listened, challenged the Government to make a case. The Government at no time in this House, and in none of the many speeches which the President and the Ministers have made throughout the country, put up a semblance of a case for their conduct either in calling this Act into operation  again, or for the method in which they are enforcing it. It is not merely an insult to this House that the Government does not reply, and does not put up a case for abrogating the ordinary constitutional rights of the people of this country, but it is an insult to the country. It is not only an insult to anything in the nature of democratic rights and democratic principles, but it is an insult to such principles and to such rights as we have good reason to expect from a Government. In their action in bringing this Act into operation without a tittle of justification, in their refusal to utter a word of excuse or to put up even a semblance of a case, they showed their real attitude towards democratic institutions, and the real value of the respect which they sometimes mouth for the rights of the ordinary people of this country. We expected nothing better from the Government. In office and out of office they have trampled on the rights of the people of this country. They have trampled on everything which this country holds dear. It is nothing surprising, therefore, that they pursue their usual tactics of sitting tight and saying nothing.
Professor O'Sullivan: I think the Deputy was going to make an unfortunate intervention. He had better not. There was a big onus on the Government to justify their action. Have they done so? In any speech through the country have they done so? Here in the Oireachtas Deputy MacDermot referred to the speech of the Minister for Justice in the Seanad. Is it on that they are standing? Is that their case? Does not that amount to the argument that because they do not like the political tactics, the political doctrines and the political aims of their opponents they are going to utilise the enormous powers conferred by the Public Safety Act on the Government against them? I am speaking only of the Government Party. I am not going to waste any time on the other Party, until I am aware that they have any principle to  which they can stick. I have no doubt they will give utterances to any number of principles, but I should prefer to see them sticking to one or two.
What is the real reason for the action of the Government in this particular matter? The real reason is perfectly clear. The real reason is that the Government or the Executive Council saw growing up in this country a healthy, God-fearing, law-abiding movement which made an appeal to the young people of this country, and they determined to squelch it. It is because they saw that movement growing up that they determined, most tyrannically and without the most flimsy excuse, to utilise the enormous powers which the Oireachtas has entrusted to a Government of this country to deal with very exceptional situations. What has been their hope always? To whom has their appeal always been made? To the youth of the country. To whom has the President made his appeal on platform after platform? To the youth; to the young priests—apparently the old ones have no sense as far as he is concerned— and to the young people. He saw a movement growing up that is appealing to those young people, a law-abiding movement a movement whose very essence was respect for the law, respect for the rights of the people as a whole and of the individual people of this country. Because that movement was making a successful appeal he determined that he would use the methods of the Public Safety Act against that particular movement or that organised movement. He determined he would break it if he could. He determined between the illegal actions of those underneath and the tyrannical power of the Government that he would squelch this new movement. Both combined, and we have the Government hand in hand with anarchy, the Government hand in hand with those who have no respect for government, not even for his Government. Between these two millstones he hoped to grind this new movement out of existence. He had built his hope on the expectation that the sane, moderate, constructive policy for which Cumann na nGaedheal had stood so  long would not appeal to the imaginations of the younger people. He felt he was safe. But recently he saw, and the members of his Party saw, a movement growing up that was appealing to the imaginations of the young people and without a single evidence of illegality, without a single charge being made against them or being proved in any court, he determined he would squelch that movement. That movement, and the people behind it, stood in his path. Away with them.
I have always been convinced—and I wonder if I have before now expressed it in this House—that with the President's enormous faculty for proving things the day would come when he would undertake to prove two things; first one thing and then another. I have always felt that the day would come when he would undertake to prove that the people of this country have morally no right to get rid of him and his Government, and, secondly, he would undertake to prove, and would prove it to his own satisfaction, that the people of this country had constitutionally no right to get rid of his Government. What is he now attempting to do? To deprive the people of constitutional methods of getting rid of his Government. It is because there was that kind of successful movement and successful appeal being made to the country that his Government has determined to act tyrannically. The country knows very well what is the explanation not merely of his conduct and the conduct of his Executive on the present occasion, but what is the explanation of the hysterical speeches he has been making in the last couple of weeks through the country. Everybody knows it and it must even dawn on some of his own followers. This man who appeals as head of the Government, the man who above all others ought to have respect for governmental institutions and for the courts that he has called into existence, goes down to the country and makes speeches that made by an ordinary man would have brought him before the courts for contempt. That is his respect for the institutions of the country and that is his respect for the instruments he is  trying to utilise to further his own ambitions.
The new movement is banned not because illegality has been alleged or can be alleged against it, either in its methods or aims. It is banned because it is a successful movement threatening the existence, in a constitutional way, of the present Government. Reference has been made to the circumstances that made the passing of the Public Safety Act necessary. I will ask the Deputies, those who still profess, even though they have their tongues in their cheeks, a certain respect for Parliaments and a certain respect for democratic institutions, to contrast the conduct of the Government of the day when this Act was passed, with the conduct of the Government of to-day. Whether or not you agree with them the Government of that day made a case for the action they were taking. I hold they made an unanswerable case and a case that was satisfactorily proved.
There was, as the great bulk of the people of this country knew, evidence of a conspiracy to upset the established Government of this country. That is certainly no exaggeration. There was a conspiracy to upset the Government of the country by force and that conspiracy was quickly threatening to become a successful conspiracy. That was the situation in 1931. The ordinary administration of the law had completely broken down. Every method had been tried by the then Government to cope with a very serious situation, to cope with a situation that was trampling under foot the rights of the ordinary individual in this country and the rights of the whole people of this country. It was only when all its efforts failed that the Public Safety Bill was brought before this House and the Act put into operation. You have nothing of the kind to-day.
Everyone could have foreseen, the more stupid even could have felt what was coming on hearing the speech of the President in the middle of July last. The President then in defending his own Vote made it plain that he was going to use these powers. The President made it quite clear to us on these  benches, though no illegality was then suggested, as to the organisation, that he was going to use the force that was put into his hands by the Oireachtas. When we determined to bring in the Public Safety Bill, and when we asked the Dáil and Seanad to pass it, and when the members of the Dáil and Seanad stood up to their responsibilities despite the threats that were made against them, it was because the ordinary law had not merely broken down but had demonstrably broken down. The Dáil and Seanad performed their duty to the people. Terror was gripping one part of the country after another. Not merely were crimes being committed, but crimes were being committed with impunity. Those who committed them knew they were committing them with impunity.
Is anything of that kind suggested now? Nothing of the kind. The whole sum of their contention is that it is a successful political campaign against the political existence of the Government. We have had attempts since this Government came into office to stir up panic now and then. Nobody can yield to me in the respect I have for the propagandist ability of the Party opposite. But great as is their propagandist ability they have only made themselves completely ludicrous by the plots and mare's nests that they have discovered. We had the Attorney-General going down to the police courts and invoking the celebrated Secrets Act in order to create an atmosphere. But he was laughed out of court. No wonder the Government would not now go into the ordinary courts. Any time they went in they were laughed out of court. In that celebrated case in which the Attorney-General displayed himself so remarkably, the jury did not think it worth while to listen to the case for the prisoners so lacking of any evidence and of any foundation was this case and so entirely devoid of foundation was the whole scare.
The Government put this Act into operation to deal with an organisation that, before everything else, is a law-abiding organisation and that has determined that respect for the law, respect for the rights of the individual  and the individual's property, would be the sheet-anchor of its programme. It was against that organisation that the Government called the immense powers they have at their disposal into operation. We have heard hysterical speeches from the Leader of the Government. We have heard him in this House and we have read the speeches he made in the country. I have yet to hear him give a real, straight, vigorous condemnation of real disrespect for the law, of real breach of the law, of real extreme views either on economics, politics or methods. He may advise people “Now, be quite; you will only damage your cause and play into the hands of your enemies.” Mild censures and pats on the back of that kind are not what the country is entitled to expect from the head of a responsible Government. However, that is all we ever get from the Front Bench opposite. All their condemnation, all their hysteria, all their philippics are reserved for those who respect the law, for those who have moderate opinions. We have now a most scandalous abuse of power.
This Act has been in operation for something over a month. What is the bag that the Government has got? A couple of farmers. There has been a tremendous undermining of the whole foundations of the country! We are told about an alleged conspiracy. Of course the President, even though the matter is sub judice, has no difficulty in dealing with it in public.
Professor O'Sullivan: Not at all! The President never says anything any person understands him to say. That is the bag they have got after a month, and it is connected with the refusal, perhaps owing to inability or otherwise —I cannot deal with the case now—to pay rates. The Government has made it impossible for a large number of the people to pay rates or anything else. That is the result of their policy. Why are they so ready to come to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy? Anyhow these trumpery cases that the Military Tribunal is now called upon to deal with cannot surely have been the excuse for calling this Act into  operation? The cases had not occurred at that time. Of course that has nothing to do with the real reason. The Government has the power and we are all familiar with the Government's old argument: “What we are doing is legal, therefore we are justified in doing it.” Again and again we have heard that particular excuse given by the Government. It is no excuse in this instance.
Nobody denies that the Government has these tremendous powers. The greater the powers they have the more exceptional the powers, the stronger the case that must be made for their utilisation. They must show their moral justification for utilising these powers. They have done nothing of the kind. The very magnitude of the powers given, the tremendous power of life and death even over individual citizens that this Act puts into the hands of the Government, makes it all the more incumbent on the Government and those who support the Government to see that such powers are not used except in the last extremity. Now they are being used, not merely not in the last extremity, but actually before there is a tittle of justification for utilising even one-hundredth part of the powers contained in the Act. You have as usual a complete lack of moral responsibility on the part of the Government. They think because they are the Government and possess the power that there is no moral restraint on them. Again and again we have listened to that particular type of argument and sophistry in this House. It is quite in keeping with everything else they have done.
We have not here a Government that is looking after the welfare of the people, that is determined to protect the rights of the people. We have a Government determined to utilise to the fullest the immense powers that were obtained when the whole nation was threatened, when its existence was threatened, in order to squelch their political opponents. There is talk of panic. We were often accused when we introduced measures here that we were acting in panic. There is a panic now, but it is not a panic that has any reference to the welfare or  safety of the State. The only panic that exists is as to the length of tenure of office of the present Government. Their hope is that between unrepressed illegality from below and Governmental tyranny from above they will be able to deal with a strictly constitutional menace and hold their position.
Mr. Costello: Deputy MacDermot, when proposing the resolution which is now before the House, said he had no intention of indulging in personal abuse or anything in the nature of bitterness. I propose to follow his example and his lead. I do so for the reason that I am opposed in principle to personal abuse and bitterness, because there is no necessity for such methods to recommend the adoption of this resolution, not merely to the House, but to the country as a whole. The actions of the Government in connection with their employment of the Public Safety Act, as it is popularly called, have engendered in the people of this country a feeling of tremendous indignation. It would be gratifying to us, merely from a political point of view, if we looked at the matter from such a narrow point of view, to realise the full extent of the indignation which is aroused against the Government's actions in this respect. Something more has been aroused against the Government, something which is of deeper significance to them from the point of view of their political longevity. The people of this country are laughing at them and when the people begin to laugh at a Government, that Government's days are numbered. The actions of this Government, which they intended to be representative of the big stick policy, have merely resulted in a wave of derision against them passing over the country.
Now, I do not intend to go into any point as to how the Government ought to have used the Public Safety Act, as it is called. As to how they failed to use it in certain directions, I propose to pass over with just one or two casual comments. This Act, the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act, is popularly called the Public Safety Act. It is more than a Public Safety Act. It is part of the Constitution  of this State. While I agree with what Deputy MacDermot has said, that it is an Act of appalling severity, and that in order to justify its being brought into operation, a widespread prevalence of serious crime and a breakdown of the ordinary courts are necessary, I think the Act is something more and requires something for its justification if it is to be brought into operation by any Government. When this Act was being introduced into this House as a Bill by Deputy Cosgrave, the then President of the Executive Council, he said that it was an Act that not merely his Government required but that any Government of this country required. It was introduced as part of the Constitution of this State. It was deliberately introduced into Article II of the Constitution of this State, the Article which states explicitly that all powers of government are derived from the people of this country, as an instrument to safeguard the rights and liberties of the people of this country. Its only justification, the only justification that any Government can have for the use of the extraordinary powers that are contained in that Act, is the fact that the very foundations of the State are being menaced in such a way that the ordinary institutions of the State are not able to cope with the menace. That is the only justification for the use of the extraordinary powers that are contained in this Act.
When it was introduced into this House by the late Government they were told that its powers might be abused. They said that it was necessary for any Government to have the powers contained in that Act at their disposal for use if the foundations of the State were being menaced, and that they would leave it to public opinion and to the verdict of the people to pronounce upon any Government that would misuse the powers then inserted in the Constitution. This Government has abused those powers and it remains for a verdict to be given upon their action. They have misused its powers not because there is any threat or any menace to the foundations of this State or to any of the institutions of the State. There has  been no evidence given to the country that there was any menace to the foundations of this State: that there was any state of disorder that the ordinary forces of the State could not cope with, or that there was any necessity to abandon the ordinary law which the present Government have rather belatedly professed themselves to be so fond of. They have used, as a previous speaker said justly, the powers of this extraordinary Constitution Act which were intended for the protection of the rights and liberties of the people when they are menaced, merely for the protection of their own party politics and their own party life. They have passed in the last 12 or 15 months from a state of fright to a state of panic and from a state of panic to a state of stampede and terror at their political prospects.
We remember that before the last general election, shortly after the present Government came into power, the constitutional rights which the last Government had put into the Constitution: the right of free speech, the right of freedom to hold public meetings, the right of freedom to express your political opinions, were menaced and that the Government of the day— the present Government—then stood by. Deputy Cosgrave, the leader of the Opposition, the ex-President of the Executive Council of this State, was unable to address his own constituents in his own City of Cork, a constituency that had returned him at the head of the poll on several occasions by a very substantial number of votes. He was unable, by reason of the hooliganism which was organised and obviously organised, to address his own constituents. That example was followed in every part of the Irish Free State and, as against that menace to the liberties of the people under the Constitution which were not being maintained by the Government, there arose in this country a spontaneous movement to protect those rights and liberties of the people. That particular movement, spontaneous as it was as I insist, was not in any way organised, engineered or fostered by any particular party or by any politicians. The Army Comrades' Association came  spontaneously into being because the Government whose duty it was to safe guard the rights of its citizens were neglectful of their duty, because they thought it was in their own interests that they should overlook the hooliganism that was going on in every part of the country. When the Army Comrades' Association effectively fought for the rights and liberties of this people we were able, because of their efforts, and not thanks to any action of the Government, to make our voices heard throughout the country, and then it was, when the Government saw that the Army Comrades' Association was making progress in the country, that they took fright. But if they took fright they did nothing about it. They relied upon personal abuse and hooliganism to deal with the menace to their political future that was threatened by the existence of the Army Comrades' Association. The blue shirt, which is so dangerous for them now and such a terrible menace to them, was the emblem of the comradeship which bound together the Army Comrades' Association, was no menace to them at that time, and as to the Army Comrades' Association which is now apparently deemed to be such a menace to the State, no action was taken against it. The Public Safety Act was not put into force and the Blueshirts were not banned. But the Army Comrades' Association engendered a more dangerous movement against the political existence of the present Government because it came into being, as I have said, for the purpose of doing the job that the Government have failed to do: to maintain the constitutional rights and liberties of the citizens of this country whatever their political opinions may be. It was attracting to it the youth of this country, that new generation which is growing up now and which is seeing through the spurious patriotism of the present Government—with its catch-cries and political baits. This new generation is getting down to the essentials, because it sees that it does not matter what form of Government this country has provided it is free and prosperous, and,  provided that it is respected, as it is not respected at the present moment owing to the policy of the present Government, by the nations of the earth.
They see that that is the essential thing and not catch-cries about political forms. When the National Guard came into being the Government took panic. They took greater panic because, as has been pointed out by Deputy MacDermot, General O'Duffy took charge of that new movement. It certainly was a guarantee to the people of this country that the new movement would be subjected to proper discipline and proper organisation when General O'Duffy was at its head. He had come out from the high office which he had occupied for nearly 11 years in this State as the head of the Gárda Síochána and not a single back-bencher, no matter how much he might have wished to be able to do so, was able to level one charge against General O'Duffy that he had been neglectful or failed in his duty to the Government which dismissed him during the period from February, 1932. There was not a single charge that they were able to level against him. The meanest back-bencher of the Fianna Fáil Party, or the back-bencher with the meanest mind, and there are a few of them in the Fianna Fáil Party, was not able to do that. The meanest of the meanest minds of the Fianna Fáil Party was not able to suggest anything against General O'Duffy, his conduct or personal probity or his loyalty to the Government which he served after the change. He was away on a tour and came back; and in a few weeks after his return he was made head of the National Guard. It was suggested by Ministerial spokesmen that in these few weeks he had so got command of the forces in this country that he was able to make himself dictator of this State, and that not only were the political prospects of the Government menaced, but that actually the State was in danger of being subverted by this man who had just returned from his holidays. Stunts were then got up. First we had an extraordinary and an outrageous plan for the collection of arms—a collection of arms not illegally  held, but a collection of arms legally and properly held. Then we had the formation of this new force of so-called police with their revolvers in their waistbelts, hanging around Government Buildings, as if everyone who passed in and out and every member of this House were a menace to the State and the Government. No wonder the people are laughing at such a farce as has been set up by the present Government.
The National Guard was proclaimed under the Public Safety Act first. What is the peculiar comment? Not a single member of the National Guard was prosecuted for membership of that so-called illegal assembly. Not a single effort in reference to that body supposed to be such a tremendous menace to the State. But an attack was made upon a few unfortunate farmers, who were supposed to be members of a conspiracy, not an unlawful association, but on the supposition that it was a body brought into existence for the non-payment of rates and taxes. And it is singular that while the Public Safety Act gives the present Executive power to declare unlawful any association which is supposed to exist for the non-payment of rates, no order is made by the Executive declaring any association in the country to be an unlawful association. The country can infer from that that the Government with that power in their hands to ban a specific association as unlawful were not able to point to any single association in the country as an unlawful association. But they collected a group of five or six farmers in Waterford and put them into Mountjoy Jail. I am not going to comment on this pending case; but I am entitled to say this: they left these farmers in Mountjoy Jail without the State being able to put forward any charge against them whatever. They only knew a day or two ago that they were to be brought before the Military Tribunal: “Justice shall not be sold or delayed.” These men were left in jail without any charge being made against them. We were told that the Minister for Justice and the Attorney-General were considering further charges against them. Is it the policy of the  Government to arrest people first and then see what charge they can afterwards bring against them? That is the policy that has been adopted in relation to the five or six farmers in Mountjoy Jail who are to be tried by the Military Tribunal. After they had been 15 or 16 days in jail they are then told what the charge was against them, and now we are told that further charges may be sprung upon them irrespective of whether they shall have time to meet them or not.
That is one side of one case—people without any charge being made against them kept in jail. The other case I wish to mention is one that has also come before the Military Tribunal. What are the circumstances in that case? One man got one day's notice of the charge against him. One of the defendants who appeared this morning before the Military Tribunal and took his trial without fear was told yesterday that he had committed an offence. For the first time he was served with a document yesterday morning and he was compelled to answer this morning four charges under the Public Safety Act made against him. Can it be said by any fair-minded person that that is a fair from of trial? Must it not be admitted, on the contrary, that it is a complete denial of justice? They make their charge this morning—and I shall comment no further upon that case or upon the case against the Waterford farmers. But I am entitled to say this: that the action the President of the Executive Council took in Dundalk on September 10th this year, when he commented upon the pending case of the Waterford farmers, was one that was a gross abuse of his position as President of this State. I have his speech in my hand and I propose to read the portion of it of which I complain. If the President makes any quibble as to whether or not it is a comment specifically as such on a pending case, people can judge as to whether even though it is not technically a comment such as would lead him to be brought up for contempt of the Military Tribunal before that Tribunal, it was still such a comment, and such action should not have been taken by any member of any Government if he had any sense of decency  for his position or if he had any respect for the law. The President later levelled charges against Deputy MacDermot that were clearly libellous, because I see from the newspapers that President de Valera read that speech in Dundalk and read it very carefully and his speech was therefore a libel. He made this libellous charge that Deputy MacDermot was encouraging a conspiracy which he alleged to be in existence for the non-payment of rates in this country. The only action Deputy MacDermot could take, with any dignity to himself, was to ignore these foul charges which everyone knows to be unjust and the making of which was a grave abuse of the position which the President enjoys. The President said—and I am reading from the Irish Independent of 11th September this year—speaking about Deputy MacDermot:
“He is anxious to preserve the public services, but he has allowed members of his Party and branches of his organisation to conspire to bankrupt the local authorities by organising a campaign against the payment of rates. He values personal liberty—no one talks more frequently about it—but he has apparently no objection to the boycott of men whose only offence is that they meet their lawful obligations and perform their duties as honest men and good citizens.”
It is no part of my function to make any defence of Deputy MacDermot. No defence is required or necessary against that foul attack. But I want to direct the attention of the House to words used there by the President—“the boycott of men.” Take that in connection with the further paragraph in which he referred to the campaign of Deputy MacDermot against the payment of rates. He said:—
“This illegal conspiracy had assumed a very serious aspect in some parts of the country where representatives of the Farmers and Ratepayers' Association had been endeavouring to intimidate farmers into signing a pledge to pay no rent or rates. The names of the farmers who refused to enter into this dishonest  undertaking were placed on a list of boycotted persons which was circulated to owners of threshing machines and other persons who would be likely to have dealings with them.”
At the date on which that speech was made the Waterford farmers who are to be tried next Monday were awaiting their trial on charges which were subsequently revealed to them but which at the date at which the President spoke had not been revealed to them —charges of boycotting people with threshing machines. They are standing their trial on Monday next on a charge of taking part in an illegal conspiracy to boycott people with threshing machines. Could anybody reading that passage not know that in that passage is a reference—it could have no other reference—to the people who were languishing in Mountjoy, no charge having been made against them at that time, but people who were subsequently charged with being engaged in an illegal conspiracy to boycott persons who owned threshing machines? Could anybody doubt that the previous passage, where he speaks of an illegal conspiracy, was a comment upon a pending case? The question that the Military Tribunal has to deal with next Monday is the question as to whether there exists or does not exist in this country an illegal conspiracy. That is the fundamental issue which the Military Tribunal has to decide at the outset of the case on Monday. The question which will determine the whole case is whether there is or is not an illegal conspiracy. The Attorney-General knows that the evidence he must produce must be evidence to show the existence of this illegal conspiracy and the burden lies on him, even before the Military Tribunal, to prove that the accused men are guilty.
Mr. Costello: But the President comes forward on 10th September and says there is an illegal conspiracy. He pre-judged the very point, the fundamental issue, which the Military Tribunal has to decide next Monday. Is that an abuse or is it a proper use  of governmental powers, or is it not a thing that should bring down scorn upon the person who so abused his high authority and his high position as to make use of these expressions at a public meeting? We would make an excuse for a political leader being carried away in the heat of a moment in a crowd. We would make excuses for a public man on a public platform making mistakes, but the President read the statement, according to the newspapers. He read it slowly and deliberately. Slowly and deliberately, he made a statement prejudging the issue which the Military Tribunal has to decide next Monday against the Waterford farmers.
Mr. Costello: I believe the Military Tribunal will decide it truthfully. I have every confidence in the Military Tribunal and I am not going to cast any reflections on it, but I did reflect and very seriously reflect, and I think the people of the country will bear this in their hearts, on the contemptible and cowardly treatment to which these nine farmers have been subjected, even if they were guilty of the offences with which they were charged. The law protects people even if they are guilty against any prejudging by any person, however exalted the position he may occupy, of an issue which has to be tried by a court, however it is constituted.
Then we have the case which is at hearing to-day about which I will say nothing, but I am entitled to comment on the events leading up to it. Everybody remembers the incidents at the cattle market a couple of days ago. The incidents there produced, as I have said, derisive laughter throughout the country. It was not merely indignation. It was regarded as a matter for universal amusement and laughter that the Minister for Justice should be obliged to send down a member of the police force of this  country to bid at an auction. The incidents that took place there took place good-humouredly. They were accepted by the people in this country in good humour and they laughed. But, no! The Government did not want it as a piece of good humour. They were wounded because people had laughed at them and they wanted again to have the catch-cry of the old American song:
What they got however was “John Brown's breeches are amoulderin' in the pound,” and the people are laughing at them. But the whole force of this Constitution Amendment Act, the Public Safety Act, is invoked against a crowd of farmers who met in the ordinary place where farmers meet, the cattle market, to look on and laugh. The Act which was to make better provision for safeguarding the rights of the people is invoked to safeguard the rights of John Brown and to get portion of his breeches and his revolver.
We hear talk from Ministerial spokesmen about the necessity for maintenance of the law. We will pass over in silence their death-bed repentance in this behalf, but I will point out this, that they will bring into greater disrespect the law by some of the methods they are employing at the present time, than any breaches of the law by any of the unfortunate farmers who have been driven to desperation, as has been said here to-day. One of the ways into which they must bring the law into disrepute is the misuse of the law, and the endeavours they have been making to deceive the people of the country into the belief that it is illegal to wear a blue shirt. That, too, may be a matter for laughter, but it is no matter for laughter if the police have instructions to baton those who wear blue shirts at meetings of a political party, the members of which are working lawfully and by constitutional means for the achievement of their aims. It is no laughing matter if the police have instructions from the Minister for Justice or even if they have his authority, to baton people who wear blue shirts. I assert  here authoritatively, and we are prepared to prove it, that there is no law in this country to prevent me or anybody else, a member of the Young Ireland Association of Fine Gael, or an ordinary member of Fine Gael, from wearing a blue shirt on a public platform or wearing it anywhere we like. We propose to do that, and if our right to do so is challenged, that challenge will be taken up and I shall prove what I say here, prove it with conviction, that there is no law to prevent anybody wearing a blue shirt, that it is perfectly lawful for every member of the Young Ireland Association, which is attached to Fine Gael, to wear a blue shirt, which is the emblem of this Association to which we have the privilege and the pride to belong.
General Mulcahy: I should like to ask if the members of the Government Front Bench realise that they are sitting in an Irish Parliament built up by Irish democratic labours and safeguarded by that, or do they think that they are lying in the dark behind the hedge down in Kerry?
The O'Mahony: I think the House should realise what was the atmosphere when the late Government introduced what has been called to-day the Public Safety Act. At that time, there was very serious and grave danger that the law in certain cases might break down altogether. At that time, jurors were shot and witnesses were shot. They were murdered, deliberately murdered, and it was for that very reason and to prevent as far as possible anyone being murdered who was a juror or a witness, that the Public Safety Act was brought in. That was the reason. What was the reason for bringing it in now? Was there any grave and serious crime of that nature committed? Who were to be the first people to be tried? Who are going to be tried next Monday? What I am going to say now I say very seriously to everyone in this House. If there is any conspiracy for non-payment of rates—and so far as I am concerned I say that I know of absolutely none— the whole blame for that conspiracy, if it does exist, lies on the Government. The reason it lies on the Government is that they cannot make one law for themselves and another law for the rest of the people. They deliberately withheld the land annuities which constituted a solemn undertaking given. The President of the Irish Free State said on several occasions that the people were not able to pay and that he was not going to send their money over to England. He withheld that money and he cannot deny it. The right and decent thing to have done would have been to go over to England and make the case that the people could not pay and see what arrangement he could have made. I am absolutely certain that he would have made a very good one indeed. But he did not do that. He said, “I will not pay——”
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will please be seated. The retention of the land annuities does not arise on this debate. The decision to retain the land annuities was come to by this  House by a majority vote, and may not be criticised in this debate.
The O'Mahony: What I wanted to get at is that a grave decision was taken, and that these unfortunate people—there is no question about it— have paid their rents in the tariffs, and have paid them time and time again. Some of them now say that they cannot pay, and to my mind, the situation is perfectly plain. I admit that people who have paid through the tariffs have already paid their rates, but I do say that no matter what happened in the past, the law is there and the law must be obeyed, and it is the duty of every person who can to pay his rates. If a bad example has been set by the Government, it is no reason why the people of this country should follow that bad example. Let them face up to their responsibilities. If they can pay it is their duty to pay. The person about whom I am concerned is the poor unfortunate person who cannot pay. A bad example has been set, and the responsibility for what happens is on the Government.
To refer to another matter, which, to my mind is very serious indeed—the whole question of law and order in this country. We all know perfectly well, or should know, that we have the finest force in the world, a force that any nation should be proud of, and a force that this country has every right to be proud of. I refer to the Civic Guards. What has been done to uphold the prestige of that force? I am very sorry indeed that the ex-Minister for Justice is not in the House. A short time before he relinquished the post of Minister for Justice I was perturbed by what I saw going on in the country. I saw the Civic Guards being made an absolute mockery of. I went and saw the Minister for Justice—and if he were here to-day he would bear me out— and I said to him: “I have come to speak to you as man to man,” and I told him what I saw going on, and the danger the country was running into. What has happened since then? Things have got worse and worse. We have had the appalling scene in the market in Dublin—and to think  that a Minister for Justice of this State should allow an unfortunate Civic Guard to be put into that position. It was degrading to the force, the finest force that any country ever had, and all my sympathy is with the unfortunate Civic Guards. Last night I read the following in the “Evening Herald.” It is headed “Limerick Scenes.” I am not going to read out the whole matter, but there is one particular item of which I wish to inform the House, and if the Deputy is present he will have an opportunity of contradicting the statement which I am about to read. It is:—
The O'Mahony: There is nothing in the conduct or in the record of General O'Duffy that can bring a blush of shame to any citizen of this country. He has got a great record, and a clean record. What is the insinuation in that statement, but that the Civic Guard, the finest force in this country, are so low and so degraded that no leader should be taken from that force. That is the insinuation in the statement. It was the insinuation of a member of this House, whose first duty it should be to uphold that force in every way. I make no further comment, except to say that if that Deputy has any decency he will get up in this House and withdraw what he said. General O'Duffy's record stands. No one can touch it. But no one has a right to touch the record and the reputation of the Civic Guards. If members of the Guards commit an offence they will be brought to trial in due course. No one has a right to foul the name of the force in any way. Certainly, no member of this House has a right to do so. If he thinks he has the right to do so he ought to be ashamed of himself. I think it is a terrible thing indeed that it should have been necessary to bring forward this vote of censure on the Government, at a time when the country is striving as hard  as it can to keep the wolf from the door. Yet, when times are difficult, and hard, with no justification whatsoever the President sets up a tribunal. That is an admission that he has failed, and that the ordinary law is not sufficient to deal with any man who is accused of non-payment of rates, or anything of that kind. The whole thing is a mockery, an absolute mockery. That is the last word I have to say about it.
Mr. Dillon: Is it fair to inquire if the President is going to intervene in this debate? So far as this Party is concerned, we all know perfectly well that the rest of his Party do not count for a row of pins. The President will get up and say what he has to say and that is all that really matters. If he is going to say anything it would be of great interest to the House to hear it now.
Mr. Anthony: It has been made manifest by all the speakers in this debate, even to the meanest intelligence, or the meanest back-benchers in Fianna Fáil, and also to the tin-whistle players in the Fianna Fáil band, the official Labour Party, that the Government's use of the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act, 1931, “has been unjust and oppressive and is deserving of censure.” That it is unjust and oppressive has been very clearly demonstrated. The suppression of the National Guard has been mentioned as one of the acts of oppression of the present Government. An examination of that position has been made by one or two speakers. I propose to say now what I said elsewhere in relation to the A.C.A., which has now become known as the National Guard. The A.C.A. was established at a time when it was almost impossible, and certainly dangerous, to advocate any policy that contravened in any way, the policy of the present Executive. We have freedom of speech enshrined in our Constitution. We have people mouthing about freedom of speech in the Fianna Fáil Party, but, in practice, it has been  found that when a member of a constitutional party in this House, a man, who was head of the Government at one time, ex-President Cosgrave, attempted to address a meeting in Cork, where he headed the poll with at least three or four quotas, and where he still enjoys the confidence of the people, a number of hooligans and wastrels were organised by Fianna Fáil to prevent him addressing his constituents. That was the position as we found it in Cork.
That is the position which gave birth to the Army Comrades' Association, which later developed into the National Guard. I feel, sir, that on the occasion of a general election there would have been no possibility of any person in opposition to the present Government addressing a meeting, without running the risk, either of being violently attacked, or perhaps maimed for life. That that spirit is not dead in the country has been made manifest within the last couple of weeks. We had a number of persons going about the City of Dublin smashing and breaking the property of the citizens. We had no sustained effort made to put down that practice. Yet we are told that we have a constitutional Government in office. It is quite a usual thing to read in the Press that persons have been violently assaulted, that houses have been attacked, that the homes of humble labourers and workers have been attacked, and at the end of the paragraph we find these words: “The Gárda have been active in the district, but so far no arrests have been made.”
Mr. Anthony: We read the caption: “Attacks on persons coming from Cumann na nGaedheal meetings,” and the concluding sentence runs, “The Guards have been active, but so far no arrests have been made.” I want to pay this tribute to the Guards. I believe, with Deputy The O'Mahony, that no finer or better force exists. But they would not be human if they did not react to the present state of affairs. When the Guards brought prisoners before justices, I have my doubts whether they would be regarded  at headquarters as efficient policemen, particularly if they indicted persons found disturbing Cumann na nGaedheal or other meetings, whose spokesmen or whose candidates were in opposition to those of Fianna Fáil. That is the natural reaction in a police force, and I want to say deliberately that I feel, with many other responsible citizens in this State, that the morale of the Gárda has been attacked, and that dry rot has also set in in the courts of justice. When I take up the daily press, what do I find? People charged with crimes of violence give the excuse that they were members of, or were in some way connected with Fianna Fáil, and they get off, either with a paltry fine or are let out. That is what has occurred in the country. As Irishmen, we must face up to the facts and not be ashamed to proclaim that there is that inherent weakness in our people at the present moment. That is the reaction of the forces of law and order to what is taking place here— to the sentiments given utterance to by responsible members of the Fianna Fáil Party.
It would be interesting, at this stage, to recall what some members of the Government Party and their hangers-on of the Labour Party said on the occasion of the introduction of this Act in October, 1931. On that occasion, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, then Deputy Lemass, said:
“The National Executive of Fianna Fáil has thrown out a challenge to the Government which it cannot ignore. We say we are satisfied that there is neither need nor demand for this Bill on the part of the public, and we ask them to test public feeling by going to the country on the matter.”
I wonder if the Minister for Industry and Commerce is of the same opinion now that he was on the day he made that statement. I wonder if he is prepared to go to the country, not alone on this question of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, but on the whole policy of the Fianna Fáil Executive.
“Would any member in this House who was formerly a member of the national organisation—I can see some of them here whose record is a brave and heroic one—in 1921 or 1922, when they were discussing the Treaty in the Dáil, tell us what was their attitude to that matter then?”
At this juncture, I might say that I felt then as many other public citizens felt at that period—when murders were being committed in the country, when Superintendent Curtin was shot and in his shooting were involved the deaths of two babies; when young Ryan was shot on the Tipperary hills by men wearing masks—that there was urgent necessity for a measure of this kind. The same reasons cannot be advanced to-day. So far as I know, up to the rather tragic occurrence in Kerry a few days ago, nothing has occurred that would justify the continuance of this measure. I pass from Deputy MacEntee, and I give a quotation from a more important person, the present head of this State—President de Valera. President de Valera then made what I considered a half apology for some of these murders and assassinations. I do not want to misquote him. I want to be quite fair to the President. He said:—
“These men are misguided if you will, but they were brave men, anyhow; let us at least have for them the decent respect that we have for the brave. They have done terrible things recently, I admit, if they are responsible, and I suppose they are. Let us appeal to them and ask them in God's name not to do them.”
I could, of course, quote some of the lesser lights of the Fianna Fáil Party who spoke on that occasion but, as I have already indicated, I do not want to weary the House by quoting too extensively from these speeches. It  will be no harm, however, to quote what a former leader of the Irish Labour Party, Senator Johnson, said in that connection:—
“I, for one, have been pilloried for quite a few years, attacked and threatened, for having said what I repeat to-day, that when a body of people ostensibly aiming at the overthrow of a Government, make an attack upon the social fabric, it is certain that the community which is attacked, if it has any self-respect, will retort in kind and will throw in its last ounce of strength, its last penny of resource to save the fabric of society.”
That is exactly what the A.C.A. and the National Guard did. The urge, as I have already indicated, came from the fact that any person who exercised the right of free speech, and who was in any way opposed to the present Government was belaboured with sticks or stones or bottles, if he did not get what the unfortunate man down in Kerry got—a bullet from a rifle which, apparently, is not under the control of the Government, as it should be. Senator Johnson continued:—
“I say that again and I say that the people who have threatened me, time after time, for asserting that sound doctrine, are quite free to take whatever revenge they wish or make such exposures as they will of my what they call traitorous activities towards the working classes. They are welcome to their denunciation. While I hold that view, I say this Bill, and all that is embodied in this Bill, is a greater danger to social stability because it establishes in the minds of the ruling classes a sense of absolute power, a feeling that no matter what may be the reason for agitation they, at least, are authorised by the publicly-elected legislature, to act as autocrats, to act ruthlessly, with the full sense that they are protected by the law.”
Senator Johnson is a member of the other House, and I do not propose to make any comment whatever, on that speech, delivered in 1931. But I shall certainly watch, as the people to-day  are watching, with interest the action of the Labour Party in the Dáil and in the Seanad on this question. I have already pointed out that there was very grave and urgent necessity, and that there were solid, valid reasons for the passing into law of a measure of this character, when it was first introduced into this House. We had one of the greatest men that this country ever produced assassinated, and still no trace of his assassins. We had a Minister assassinated—the late Kevin O'Higgins—and still no trace of his assassins. It is suggested, at any rate, that these assassins are known, but because of their association with a certain very powerful body the present Government is unable to lay hands on them.
Now we come to another reason why the use of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1931, has been unjust and oppressive. The position of the police force in this country is being rendered very difficult. I do not want to touch on any case that is at the moment sub judice, but I can quite understand a highly efficient police officer, who feels that it would be necessary for him to have a large force of police in evidence at some political meeting. I can also anticipate what could easily happen in present circumstances to that police officer. He might easily be reprimanded at headquarters for waste of energy and for having too many policemen present at that particular meeting. Let us consider the other side of the picture. If, in his wisdom, this police officer thought that a dozen or half a dozen policemen were only necessary, and that subsequently some disturbance took place, he might easily be reprimanded by his superior officer and told that he should have a larger or stronger force of police present on this particular occasion. It appears to me that the Government's want of action in certain matters where decent government is called for is having a very demoralising effect on those who are administering law and order in this country. In order to clear the air, if certain members of this House are not the dumb driven cattle—to use a peroration made famous in this House by Deputy Flinn—of Fianna Fáil or  their slavish followers of the present Labour Party, I want to ask them some questions which will be illuminating and certainly very instructive to the electors of the different constituencies which they represent. I can quite understand the attitude of Deputy Norton and Deputy Hogan (Clare). Deputy Hogan was a member of the Labour Party while I was a member of it, but Deputy Norton was not; he was not a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party at any rate. I can quite understand the attitude of Deputy Hogan and Deputy Norton, because they have all along been almost proclaiming themselves as followers of the Fianna Fáil Party.
Mr. Anthony: I could name occasions when the Deputy voted against party decisions when it suited him. I want to get a clear straight-forward statement. What does Deputy Corish, for instance, tell his constituents in Wexford? I believe the Labour Party intend to vote against this motion, but will they tell the people when they go back to the country that they did so, especially in the remote country areas where the daily newspapers are not bought, and let us have an end to this making Labour speeches at the cross-roads and Fianna Fáil speeches when they come to the Dáil?
Deputies Keyes (Limerick), I am quite certain, must have arrived at the decision that the Government's use of the Constitution (Amendment) Act has been unjust and oppressive, because he, as a member of the Labour Party, was one of those who were very emphatic that Deputy Morrissey and Deputy Anthony should be expelled from the Labour Party. Deputy Davin is ill and I am not going to say anything about him. Then there are Deputy Murphy and Deputy Everett. I am quite sure that Deputy Everett does not altogether subscribe to everything Fianna Fáil says. I hope Deputy Everett, who voted against this measure on a former occasion, will have the pluck and honesty—I know he is an honest man—to vote in favour of this motion now. Now we come to  a newer member, Deputy Pattison of Kilkenny. He may have been silenced, but he has not been expelled for a speech in which he said that he had no more confidence in the Fianna Fáil Party. We have had Deputy Corish stating that we had baby factories in this country. Let us boil all this down to common decency and honesty. What are they going to do to-day? If any member of that Party abstains from voting is he going to be expelled from the Party, or are they going to expel themselves automatically and do the decent thing and dissolve?
I could quote from the speeches of several of these Labour Deputies, both here and at the cross-roads, to show that they felt during the passage of this Act that, in any case, it would be unjust and oppressive. As I have indicated, at that particular juncture in the history of this country there was a necessity not alone for one Constitution (Amendment) Act but for 45 of them to put down the murders and assassinations. Some of them had not the guts to say so. When they went back to their constituents they said they were shot or put away, but they had not the guts to say that they were murdered. All of these members without exception—I suppose I might except Deputy Hogan—declared their attitude in relation to the Treaty. They knew as well as I do now and as I did then, and as every honest man must admit, that the task of a Government is a very difficult one. A Government, whether it be Fianna Fáil, Cumann na nGaedheal or Labour, will from time to time do unpopular things —unpopular being translated not in the strict dictionary sense. But if a Government intend to govern they become unpopular. We know they become unpopular because policemen have to do their duty. We know of various ways in which a Government may become unpopular. I put it to the Labour Party that if and when the Labour Party, as I envisaged and every other member of that Party envisaged, come to govern this country they will of necessity have to put down crime and disorder wherever it shows its head. Would they flinch from doing that? Would they flinch from doing it because it might mean more kudos for  them? That is what they will do to-day if they vote against this motion, because, not in all cases, but in most cases, they owe their election here to the extra preferences which have been scattered about, like pepper from a pepper pot, by the Fianna Fáil Party.
I do sincerely hope—perhaps it is a vain hope—that members, whether they be members of the present Government or their hangers-on of the official Labour Party, will at least do the straight, manly and honourable thing in this matter. I hope they will ask themselves the question: “Is there now the necessity for the invocation of this Act that there was in 1931?” I challenge any member of this House to show that there is any necessity for it. It has been said that a conspiracy not to pay rates was on foot. That has been successfully challenged in this House. So far as it relates to the City and County of Cork I know that there is no conspiracy in regard to the non-payment of rates. The records will go to show that every farmer and every householder there is endeavouring to pay his rates. Even if there were such a conspiracy on foot the ordinary law as it stands is quite capable of dealing with the people concerned without invoking the aid of this so-called Coercion Act.
A very useful argument—useful for at least some people—was made in this House on one occasion. It was to the effect that the operation of this Act would interfere with organisations such as trade unions. It was stated in reply that no decent or honest man in this country need be afraid of the operation of that Act. As far as I am concerned, and as far as any other decent or honest man in this country who respects the law is concerned, I feel that there is no grave reason to fall foul of this Act; but an organisation has been proclaimed, an organisation which has published its aims and its objects, all of them constitutional, an organisation which is all the time proclaiming that they do not want their members to carry arms. What has been the reaction of the Government to that? They proclaimed the organisation, because they knew it was a growing organisation. They proclaimed  the organisation because they want the footpad, the waster and the hooligan to prevail in this country. That is the reason that the Fianna Fáil Party are invoking this Act in order to suppress the National Guard. Suppress the National Guard by all means and the hooligans can successfully split up meetings. They did it successfully up to the time the A.C.A. was organised, and then your followers went behind ditches and shot men in the back.
Mr. Ruttledge: Deputy MacDermot, in introducing this motion, stated that no defence had been made, so far as he was aware, for the introduction of this measure. He was not satisfied that the defence I made in the Seanad carried any weight. It seems rather extraordinary, if it carried no weight, that in the Seanad itself—where the views, I think, of the majority at any rate, would be very similar to Deputy MacDermot's—that particular vote of censure was not proceeded with. It was withdrawn after the matter had been dealt with. Everybody, except those who are wilfully blind, or are anxious to shut out from them everything connected with the movement known as the National Guard, formerly the A.C.A., in this country, knows what the position is. There is no desire, and there has been no attempt in this country, to interfere with any political movement, but the Government has made it perfectly clear that movements which, under any sort of guise, carry on military activities, are not going to be treated by the Government as political movements.
If we go back to the beginning of the A.C.A., about February of last year, we find it started for social and perhaps philanthropic purposes. We find it with its aims and objects to secure the rights of its own members. With the lapse of time we find that movement in the country spreading. We find ex-officers at the head of it, and we have sufficient information to show that those men are being drilled and brought into companies through the country. Even then we should have been justified in interfering, but, in our efforts to try to carry on in this  country without resorting to any coercion or other extreme measures, we allowed things to lapse. The next thing is a badge is suggested, and the further step is the adopting of a uniform. I asked in the Seanad, and I ask here again, if people intend their movement to be a political one what advance do they think they will make by putting on blue shirts or putting on a uniform? Deputy MacDermot may have raised his ambition since he found himself on the seat over there, but I do not see him losing his head so much as to put on a blue shirt yet. I do not think it will be of any advantage to him in Roscommon or elsewhere to come out in this blue shirt. That blue shirt is intended, no matter how it may be described by those who imagine the people they are talking to are very innocent, as a military emblem. It is there for no other purpose. You have, as I pointed out in the Seanad, chevrons showing the various classes or ranks; you have your company directors; you have your district directors. Of course you must have at the head something in the way of a general, so you have him called a director-general. I should have thought that Deputy MacDermot at any rate would be more careful in what he would say about democracy, but I find to-day that he apparently does not take any exception to selection instead of election. That is a big change, even greater than I thought would take place through coming from that seat to that. I did not think such a thing was possible. If Deputy MacDermot is going to admit that selection is a good or democratic means of securing representation in this country then what is the necessity for having elections at all?
Mr. Ruttledge: We were led to believe, from what we read in the newspapers at any rate, that the National Guard and those other bodies, including Deputy MacDermot's Party, had all conglomerated into one body.
Mr. Ruttledge: I apologise to Deputy Kent. I do not want to mis-quote Deputy MacDermot but he approved of the objects and aims and of their constitution. That is very clearly, at any rate, set out in their constitution. It is to be selective and dictatorial rather than elective. People have joined these units. They are called “units,” a term that is not applied to political objects. It is purely a military term. The people who join those units are subject to district commanders or officers. The term is purely a military one and the organisation works all right from the bottom up to the top——
Mr. Ruttledge: Whenever anything becomes annoying to Deputy Anthony he can only take one side and not see the other side. When one is on the run cannot the Deputy leave him on the run? When General O'Duffy was elected as Director-General of this body—whether it was his inspiration or the inspiration of people associated with him—we had a statement which I referred to here on the last night I  spoke, and I have heard none of that statement recanted since Deputy MacDermot became associated with General O'Duffy. We had the statement that the constitution was an un-Irish one; that the people who drafted it should be thrown into boiling oil. We had never been told how he was to bring about a change, but he said a change would come through the National Guard; that the National Guard would bring it about soon. He was careful not to say by what means.
Mr. Ruttledge: Not at that time. If the Deputy can show that quotation I will withdraw, but General O'Duffy said no such thing at that time. Intensive organisation was undertaken by General O'Duffy after he had taken over the command. He went through the country and indicated that he was going to have this big procession or meeting here in Dublin in August. It was indicated to him that that procession, owing to the strain that it would impose on the police force in this country, would not be permitted. But General O'Duffy, the man who has such great respect for the law and who, with his new body, which also has such great respect for the law, or rather pretends to have great respect for the law, said “ban or no ban, that procession will be held.” He made another statement later on when he said “proclaimed or not, the National Guard will go on.” I am quite satisfied from the information that I have that every effort is made to have that National Guard go on.
Mr. Ruttledge: I knew that and I accept that. That National Guard through the different counties is drilling. It is drilling in various parts of the country. Reference was made here to-day to the crime committed in Kerry the other day. The unfortunate victim of the crime confessed, or rather stated to the police when arrested, that he had been out drilling his men at the time he was shot.  That is not an excuse for anybody to shoot him, and I am not giving it as an excuse.
Mr. Ruttledge: We have arrested some men and we are making no further remarks on it. I am only giving this as an example to the House that drilling is going on all through the country and particularly in the Munster counties. It is going on in every county.
Mr. Ruttledge: On the last occasion when I was speaking about this matter  I mentioned General O'Duffy's report when he said that a considerable quantity of arms was in the body known as the A.C.A. I should like to know whether Deputy MacDermot when he was associating himself with these people got any assurance from them that they were going to hand up the arms under their control? Was there any assurance given about that?
Mr. Ruttledge: Then General O Duffy reported wrongly to the Government. I do not want to interfere between General O'Duffy and the Deputies opposite. General O'Duffy reported a year ago that they were a heavily armed body.
Dr. O'Higgins: Is the Minister referring to the report from General O'Duffy previously read in this House? Because, if so, I want to point out that the report does not contain what the Minister is reading into it. He said that he knew that, following the mutiny some arms had passed into the hands of Colonel Jerry Ryan, who subsequently joined the A.C.A., and that presumably those arms have been in the custody of the A.C.A. That is very different from what the Minister has read into the report.
“There is no doubt that a considerable number of individual ex-Army officers are in possession of revolvers, and even rifles, held surreptitiously as souvenirs of the pre-Truce period. Further, many ex-National Army men, when leaving the Army in 1923-25, brought arms with them. I have, however, been informed as already reported to the Minister, that certain members of the organisation hold extreme views, and would be prepared to urge the use of force in pursuit of their policy.”
Dr. O'Higgins: I ask the Minister for Justice to tell the House if it is an offence for a person to be in the position of being able to procure arms? That is all that is stated there in that report. The report does not say that the organisation has the arms, but that Colonel Ryan could secure arms. Is that an offence? I ask the Minister to answer that question either as a lawyer or as the Minister for Justice?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There have been complaints on one side of the House that no members on the Government Benches have spoken. The Minister for Justice is now speaking, and surely he ought to be allowed to make his speech without interruption.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I have pointed out that the Opposition have been asking for a Government statement. A member of the Government Bench is now making a statement, and surely he ought to be allowed to proceed without interruptions.
Mr. Ruttledge: The point made by Deputy O'Higgins as to whether this individual, Mr. Ryan, actually had the arms, had control of them or could get control of them, is certainly a very thin point. I am sure Deputy Cosgrave knows the circumstances that existed around that time.
Mr. Ruttledge: At that time Colonel Ryan left Templemore Barracks with a considerable quantity of arms. I agree that the Minister for Justice or any other member of the Executive Council from that time down made no  attempt to get the arms back, notwithstanding the numerous reports they had got about them. Perhaps that seemed to them to be an impartial administration of the law. A party of men happened to take part in a mutiny against the State, and that party, with arms, are let go free. I would like to know from Deputy MacDermot, who has now associated himself with those people, whether he has any assurance that these arms are in the hands of those people, or under the control of people in the organisation with which he is associated. I would like to know if he has made any contract with them, as a part of his allegiance to them, now that he has become a member of that body, that they are going to surrender those arms to the proper Government of the State.
Mr. Ruttledge: I have here one quotation from the United Irishman of the 20th May last. It will show what a normal, law-abiding body this body, then known as the A.C.A., was. It says: “... Within the next year or so, democracy will be preserved in the Free State only by the strong hands and stout sticks of the citizens enrolled in the A.C.A.”
Mr. Ruttledge: Of course, there is nothing whatever wrong with that. There have been incidents: shots have been fired. I agree nobody has been brought to justice, and I do not want to place it on any particular organisation. As a result of activities in Tipperary, special patrols of Guards are patrolling the county for the last three months. People have been held up and have been beaten on the roads. There has been the case of an unfortunate widow whose house was entered forcibly by masked and armed men. I could give further particulars, but it might be suggested that I am trying to attack some organisation. I would be glad to show the particulars at any time to Deputy MacDermot.
I have been told there was no serious crime in this country since the A.C.A. was formed. Up to the crime that was committed in Kerry a week ago the only serious crime committed since the present Government took office was committed by an A.C.A. man, a man convicted as such. It may not be a crime in Deputy MacDermot's eyes, but you had an unfortunate man in Meath who was going into his own home, going in his own door; his gun was stolen by the leader of the A.C.A.; it was levelled at this unfortunate man, and his limb was shot off. That is not much, of course, but that was the only crime, the only serious crime, in which there was an actual shooting from the time the present Government came into office until this crime in County Kerry a week ago.
Mr. Ruttledge: If he swore what was wrong, I cannot help it. There is another aspect with which Deputy MacDermot dealt and that is with regard to the campaign against the payment of rates. When I say a campaign is in existence I am not referring to Waterford County and I do not want to go as near to the wind as Deputy Costello.
Mr. Ruttledge: I am now referring to a boycott in several counties. Such a campaign is in existence and I am surprised that Deputy MacDermot is so far removed from those who were formerly members of his Party as not to have ascertained that such a campaign is in existence. He is either a very innocent man or he is absolutely out of touch with them if he does not know that. I will ask him if there is not such a campaign in Kildare, if there is not an organiser in Kilkenny and if there is not such a campaign in Tipperary? Does he mean to say he knows nothing about that? With regard to Kildare, one matter is so very recent that I will ask him to consult with Deputy Minch, who may be able to tell him a few things about it. There is no use in making the statement here. “We have always asked the farmers to pay if they are able to pay.” Who is to decide whether a farmer is able to pay or not? What were the courts set up for in this country?
Mr. Ruttledge: It is the same as has been done by my predecessors on many an occasion. A special Act was passed  in 1926 called the Enforcement of Court Orders Act which provided that police could seize and sell cattle.
Mr. Ruttledge: Yes, when you had a market. The law in this matter, so far as we are concerned, will be enforced even if police officers have to be used to go there to see that the sales are carried out in spite of a conspiracy against them. We are going to see that that is done and we are going to secure that the conspiracy will not succeed.
Mr. Ruttledge: Was it not to your advantage that we were so long? I thought it was your complaint that this economic war is going on too long. The position is that an individual is at present evading arrest. Why should any individual be evading arrest?
Mr. Ruttledge: No, you may have to search for him. If the citizens of this country obey the law and do not try to break it there is nothing to fear under this Public Safety Act. That  was the attitude taken up by the Opposition.
Mr. Ruttledge: That, as I say, was the attitude taken by the Opposition, but there was this position We stated to the people that we were determined to avoid having recourse to any of those measures. We hoped that we would be able to carry on in this country without recourse to any coercion measures, but there were certain people who, relying upon that, were determined that they would go along to the last extremity and, in that way, would be able to evade their liability to come under the ordinary law. If we have had to bring this measure into operation it is because we were compelled by people who were determined to get around the ordinary law and set up in this country a military force that would be a menace to the Government and the people of this country. That is the sole excuse for bringing this measure into operation.
Mr. Ruttledge: It was stated, I think, by Deputy O'Sullivan at the time: “Anybody who is familiar with the movement in the last 15 years in this country knows how remarkably quickly the situation may get out of hand whatever the intention of the individuals.” That was the Deputy's statement at the time. We were not going to allow the movement here to get out of hand. We had got the information, which I have already stated to the House, that drilling was going on by an armed body whose leaders had declared that they were in a position to oppose the Constitution. They said it was not an Irish Constitution. They are the people who, as I have said, prepared the Constitution. With all that in our mind it is quite clear what the position was tending to. Did Deputy MacDermot want to allow drilling by an armed  body to go on? Did he want us to create in this country a situation that must inevitably, and would inevitably, lead to civil war if steps had not been taken to deal with it? In this motion he talks about the misuse and the maluse of this measure. I want to know in what way it is being mal-used. Complaint was made by Deputy Costello about men being arrested and thrown into prison and kept there for a time. When Deputy Costello was Attorney-General numbers of people were arrested at that time and thrown into prison and made wear prison clothes before ever they were tried, and yet the Deputy makes complaint about this. We have used this measure in the most sparing way that we could possibly use it, and I do not think anybody could say anything to the contrary.
Mr. Ruttledge: We have used it sparingly and we intend to so use it, but we will use it at any rate firmly to prevent people under any guise or under any name bringing up a military body in this country that is going to be a menace to the institutions of this State.
Mr. Norton: I regard this motion, not only in its terms but in the speeches which have been used in support of it as constituting nothing short of a national burlesque. This motion and the speeches used to support it might well be translated or converted into a play and acted as a comedy in some Dublin theatre, or in some Roscommon theatre, if Deputy MacDermot would prefer to take the show there. When I was listening to Deputy MacDermot's speech I noticed a smile on Deputy Cosgrave's face, and I began to think of a Limerick I read at one time:
Mr. Norton: The Deputy, in his new attire, has been responsible for more interruptions this evening than he has made during his whole career as a member of the House. I would suggest to the Minister for Local Government that he might consider the question of bottling the Deputy's shirt and administering it to people in low spirits if it is responsible for producing the exuberance that Deputy Davitt has displayed this evening.
Mr. Norton: One begins to wonder why Deputy Cosgrave did not move this motion himself. After all he is the leader of the so-called United Ireland Party in the House. Outside, there is another self-elected gentleman who does talk from the high stool, but in this House, at all events, Deputy Cosgrave is the leader of the new party. Deputy MacDermot has  been given the job of moving this motion to-day. One begins to wonder why he was selected for that particular job. It may of course have been that Deputy Cosgrave wanted to ensure that when he brought Deputy MacDermot into the Cumann na nGaedheal web he would at least give him the satisfaction of having a day out afterwards. That may be the reason, or it may have been that Deputy Cosgrave may have regarded the moving of this motion as a high honour for Deputy MacDermot. That honour may have been given to Deputy MacDermot as a quid pro quo because Deputy Dillon stood up while the National Anthem was being played in Thurles recently. Even though Deputy Cosgrave may have felt that he was honouring Deputy MacDermot by getting him to move this motion in return for Deputy Dillon standing up while the National Anthem was being played, still I think the Deputy himself might have moved this motion because he came into this House two years ago and made a long speech as to the necessity of the Government being armed with these powers. He believed it was necessary that the Government should be armed with these powers and he thought the Government should have these powers at its disposal. Supporting the case that the Government should have such powers, Deputy Cosgrave said: “The powers and machinery provided by this Bill are necessary not merely for this Government, but for any Government that may come into power if the will of the majority of the people is to prevail.” Did Deputy Cosgrave read that portion of his speech as well as the other portion of his speech? At the present time he is able to digest the Centre Party, but I am afraid he could not to-day digest that portion of his speech made in 1931. Is that the reason why Deputy MacDermot was chosen to move this motion? Deputy MacDermot takes up the role of acting as adviser to the Labour Party. The Labour Party do not require him as adviser; he has no qualifications for advising them. Let him dispense with that grandfatherly  role because his knowledge of the Labour Party, and the period of his residence in Ireland, do not qualify him to advise anyone in this country. The role of pretending to be an adviser to the Labour Party has given him his present position in the council of Deputy Cosgrave's wigwam.
Deputy MacDermot went on to talk in terms of lofty idealism. He said he did not expect too much idealism from politicians. That was a very unhappy phrase coming from the Deputy. He appealed to people whose minds were free to think. After talking about idealism, and minds free to think, he expressed his amazement that the Labour Party would not vote for this tricky motion submitted in his name. The Deputy need not talk too much about idealism or of people with minds to think. He need not talk too much about the Labour Party or the ideas he ascribes to them. It is no fault of his that he is not a member of the Labour Party. Will Deputy MacDermot tell us what he said to a member of the Labour Party in Belfast some years ago when he told him he was prepared to fly under any flag, whatever the party. The House would be interested to have that.
Mr. MacDermot: One thing at a time. Deputy Norton asks me to repeat some statement he said I made in Belfast. I cannot repeat a statement, of which I have no recollection, and of which Deputy Norton has given no hint as to the sense of it. If he will say what he says I said I will tell him whether it is true or not.
Mr. MacDermot: I am sorry to be taking up the time of the House with this matter, but as Deputy Norton brought it in, and laid so much stress on it, let me say this: I went to Belfast on the invitation of Mr. Devlin. I was introduced by him to some Labour men. Mr. Devlin was doubtful if the chances would not be better if I called myself a Liberal rather than a Nationalist. There was never any question of calling myself a Labour man. I said I preferred to stand as a Nationalist and although I was offered by the Liberal organisation £1,000 towards my election expenses if I stood as a Liberal, I stood at my own expense, and at a cost of £1,500, as a Nationalist.
Mr. Norton: It must have been a very inefficient mill. The statement I made in respect of Deputy MacDermot's views on Labour and his previous views on the Labour Party, as expressed in Belfast and elsewhere, entitles me to say that Deputy MacDermot is very ill equipped to advise the Labour Party about what they should do in this or any other matter. The Deputy should drop that line. If the Labour Party want advice it will go to one who knows them much longer than the Deputy.
Mr. Norton: The Deputy could talk about the appalling severity of the Constitution (Amendment) Act but he forgot to tell the House that it was introduced by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. Deputy Cosgrave then said that the Bill was necessary, not only for his Government, but for any other Government if the will of the majority of the people was to prevail.
Mr. Norton: That Bill was introduced in 1931 and was passed by this House and the Seanad with a speed that disgraced both institutions. I believe that the Act was actually in operation when Deputy Cosgrave left office. Deputy Cosgrave, apparently, visualised a situation where the Constitution (Amendment) Act which took junks out of the Constitution, and made inroads on the democratic rights which were in the Constitution, should be a permanent feature of municipal law in this country. When that Bill was before the House the Labour Party voted against it. When the Bill was discussed in the Seanad, Labour Senators voted against it and fought it in every possible way in the limited time put at their disposal by the Cumann na nGaedheal Party which used this House just as a registering machine for the views of its Executive Council which it decided must be steam-rolled in any manner on to the whole people of the country. At that time the big battalions which supported the Cumann na nGaedheal Party succeeded in having the Bill passed, but our position then was quite clear. We were opposed to the Bill; we disliked the Bill.
Our position to-day is equally clear. We are still opposed to the Act. We still dislike the Act. There are features in the Act which, in the circumstances of either 1931 or 1933, do not seem to justify it as part of the municipal law of a democratic country. That is our position. That was our position then. That is our position now. But if the Act exists at all, if there are these ugly, objectionable features in it, if this appalling  severity is associated with it, then the responsibility for all that rests on the shoulders of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, which was responsible for introducing the Bill into this House.
Mr. Norton: We still dislike that Bill. We hope that many of the powers which are in the Act will be shed even though Deputy Cosgrave said when introducing it that these powers were necessary not merely for his Government, but for any other Government which might follow it. We were told during the course of this debate by Deputy MacDermot that the National Guard was a peaceful and law-abiding body. If that is so it should have another kind of leader because the speeches made by the leader of the National Guard did not indicate that if he were to have his way it was going to remain a peaceful and law-abiding body. We are told by the leader of the National Guard that the parliamentary system in this country is un-Irish and must be replaced. That was a reflection on the parliamentary system in this country, a definite overt attack on the parliamentary system and a definite indication of that gentleman's contempt, not merely for our parliamentary system, but for the institutions which are set up under it. If our parliamentary system were so un-Irish, if our parliamentary system were so objectionable to that gentleman, why was it necessary to introduce a Constitution (Amendment) Act to maintain this un-Irish parliamentary system? If that statement, delivered definitely, delivered, perhaps, with the same deliberation as Deputy Costello states the President delivered his speech at Dundalk, represents the mind of the National Guard, or the mind of the United Ireland Party, then there is only one logical end to that Party and that is to scrap our parliamentary system, despise and trample on our political institutions and have, in this country, the system of political dictatorship that has disgraced  the pages of recent political history in other countries.
The leader of the National Guard wants a new scheme, a scheme which is not only primitive but extremely medieval. He wants a new system created, and if one is to examine the new system which that gentleman wants created, one will have no hesitation in saying that as compared with his system, the old scheme of an Ard-Righ in this country would be the last thing in modern parliamentary democracy, going back to a scheme of parish councils when a whole ring of people were to be consulted before something was finally decided. The boss of that system will make sure whatever is going to be decided will get lost on its way around the ring, while the leader of the party which expresses his viewpoint will make sure that he is safely ensconced in office, doing all through this dictator in the country, what dictators have done elsewhere, to the cost of democracy in other lands. One cannot merely judge that gentleman's declarations about an un-Irish parliamentary system without taking some cognisance of the military form which his organisation has taken, nor can one overlook that so far as the methods of salutation amongst the Party are concerned, they have gone to Germany to get the Fascist salute. He dislikes our Irish parliamentary system. He thinks it is un-Irish, that it has too much of the Irish character and Irish democracy about it and that it must be got rid of. He sets up a Party, presumably, to do away with our Irish parliamentary system and he wants to give this Party the emblem which has distinguished Hitler's storm troops in Germany. That is the attitude, if the leader of the National Guard really represents the National Guard.
I wonder during the negotiations whether Deputy MacDermot secured any promise from that gentleman that he now regards our parliamentary system as sufficiently Irish not to make an attack upon it? Is the position to-day that the leader of the United Ireland Party still thinks the parliamentary system un-Irish? If so, does Deputy MacDermot agree with  that viewpoint? Does Deputy Cosgrave agree with that viewpoint? If it is un-Irish, if Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy MacDermot agree that it is, in what way is that un-Irish parliamentary system to be replaced and by what other system is it going to be replaced? If one is to gather anything from the speeches of the leader of the United Ireland Party—and Deputy MacDermot knows it as well as Deputies sitting on these benches— it is that the speeches made by the leader of the United Ireland Party are speeches made by a person who is ambitioned with a desire to be a personal dictator in this country. The United Ireland Party may try to establish a political dictatorship in this country but speaking for the Labour movement and the Trades Union movement, I say that any attempt to set up a dictatorship will be opposed in the bitterest possible manner, with all the resources at the command of the Trades Union movement and at the command of the Labour movement. A dictatorship here would mean what a dictatorship means elsewhere—suppression, tyranny——
Mr. Norton: ——internment, theft, robbery, persecution. These are the distinguishing marks of dictatorships elsewhere, and these will be the distinguishing marks of any dictatorship that is set up here. At this very early stage in its career, this Party has found it necessary to copy the Fascist-Hitlerite salutation. Probably it would like also to copy their tyrannous methods. Let me pass on to refer to a remark which Deputy MacDermot made in the course of his speech. He said that he personally was opposed to lending his aid to any campaign to avoid the payment of rates. When I interrupted him in the course of that speech, I asked him if that statement also applied to a repudiation of any advice not to pay land annuities. Before Deputy Minch leaves the House, I should like to quote a speech which he delivered in Monasterevan and which is reported in the Leinster Leader of 26the August, 1933. Speaking  in Monasterevan, in a speech reported in that paper, Deputy Minch used these words:—
Mr. Norton: When the Deputy was out of this House I was listening to the speech of his deputy leader, and I asked his deputy leader whether he would also oppose and not lend any countenance to an attempt to prevent the payment of rates. He said that he was opposed to any campaign to avoid the payment of rates. I also asked him if he was also opposed to any advice to persons not to pay land annuities and he said he was, and Deputy MacDermot will not deny that statement made in this House. In any case, the Official Report will show what I am saying to be true. We get Deputy MacDermot saying that he is opposed to anybody advising people not to pay annuities, and we get Deputy Minch, in Monasterevan, at the end of last month, saying that not merely did he advise the farmers this year not to pay their annuities, but he advised them on the same lines last year and with Solomon-like wisdom, came back to tell them to stick to the same course.
Mr. Norton: Yes, thanks. If the Deputy gets off as well with Deputy MacDermot at the next Party meeting it will be all right. Deputy MacDermot told us in the course of one of his speeches that he was responsible for christening the new Party and that he had called it the United Ireland Party. In his first speech as deputy-leader of the Party, he tells us that he does not agree at all with many of the things said by the leader of the Party. He repudiates now any advice calculated to impede the payment of land annuities, which is another way of saying to impede the payment of rates. He disagrees on the one hand with the leader of the Party, and Deputy Minch has just recently come in to show that no matter what Deputy MacDermot's views are about annuities he has a policy of his own— and no new policy at all but started last year and continued this year. I would ask Deputy MacDermot now whether he will stand up and repudiate that advice given over the County Kildare by Deputy Minch. Is Deputy Minch right or is Deputy MacDermot right? It does not matter, of course, if Deputy Minch is wrong, but Deputy McDermot has a responsibility in the matter and the country is entitled to know whether Deputy Minch's policy with regard to the annuities is right or whether Deputy MacDermot's policy with regard to them is the right one. Which is the policy actuating the new Party? Which is the right kind of advice? I hope that Deputy MacDermot will deal with that matter when he is replying.
The Deputy, I think, was asked to-day in the course of his speech by the Minister for Justice whether he knew there was any campaign on foot against rates. If the Deputy likes to go down to my constituency he will find that there is an organised campaign being carried on by well-to-do farmers against the payment of rates in that country. Deputy Minch ought to know it.
Mr. Norton: Quite; but he ought to pay his way. Everybody who is not blinded by sheer political malice knows that any policy calculated to impede the payment of rates is a policy designed to end the whole system of local government as we know it in this country. A campaign against rates means the absolute demolition of the system of local government which we have in this country. It means, if it is successful, that there will be no work for the road workers; it means that there will be no houses built for local authorities; it means that there will be no public health work; that there will be no vocational education, no scholarships for the children of the workers and, in the end, it means that even the poor and the destitute will get no assistance whatever because, if rates cannot be collected, it will be impossible to provide them with any sustenance in their difficulties.
Mr. Norton: Talk to the lady, and do not mind the tiger. If it is necessary for this Government to have any extra powers to deal with a campaign calculated to impede the payment of rates and to bring to an end the system of local government we have in this country, so far as this Party is concerned, this Government or any Government in this country will get powers to deal with that situation sooner than see the system of local government collapse, because if it collapses it is not Deputy MacDermot who is going to suffer. It is the poor and needy people in this country who will suffer. As Deputy McGilligan told Deputy MacDermot recently, if this country went down the Deputy had no heavy moorings around him to prevent him getting the next train out. That is Deputy McGilligan on Deputy MacDermot. So far as we are concerned, if it is necessary to give this or any other Government powers to deal effectively with a campaign engineered for political reasons to bring to an end our whole system of local government, that Government, whatever its political complexion may be, will get those powers from this Party. I regard this whole motion, both in its phraseology and in the  speeches that have been delivered in support of it, as nothing more or less than a vote-catching device. It is nothing more or less than a trick designed to save Deputy MacDermot's political face. This motion will cut no ice when the people know that it was the very Party, of which Deputy MacDermot is now a member, was responsible for introducing this Act, which they now trickily and dishonestly pretend to dissociate themselves from. Notwithstanding all the wisdom of the political correspondents of the Irish Times and the Irish Independent there was not the slightest hesitation, as far as the Labour Party is concerned, in opposing this motion.
Mr. Norton: I will make my statement. The Deputy can go back on it to-morrow, but he will find it rather awkward. There was not the slightest hesitation in deciding on our attitude in this matter. As a matter of fact, and in order to give the political correspondents of the Irish Times and the Irish Independent some wise advice for the future, let me tell them that the person they stated presided at the Labour Party meeting yesterday is, I believe, not in the country at all. If that is any indication of their political wisdom, well they are entitled to the credit of it. The Labour Party have not the slightest qualms of conscience, and are not going to be tricked and trapped into voting for this dishonest motion, submitted by the Party that is responsible for the situation that they now pretend to deplore. Unanimously the Labour Party decided to oppose this motion, because they realised from the outset that it is designed, firstly, to catch votes; secondly, to attempt to put the Labour Party into a difficulty, and, thirdly, to provide theatricals for Deputy MacDermot.
I listened patiently to Deputy Norton. He spoke at length, but I listened with sympathy, because we can all sympathise with any man who finds himself in the humiliating position of having to make a public recantation of policy. That is exactly what we witnessed here this evening, and that is why we got such a deluge of long words. The Deputy was quite obviously muddle-headed and mixed up. He has shown so many political changes for the last eighteen months that we can sympathise with his state of mind. He started by walking in rather unfortunately and putting his two feet into an attempted joke. He followed it up by referring to persons “retreating with their legs between their tails.” The two things together are evidence of the state of mind that he unfortunately finds himself in.
Dr. O'Higgins: The tiger had swallowed the lady. The joke gave evidence of muddle-headedness in order to get over the undignified position he was in, in having to retreat from a policy held so steadfastly up to a couple of years ago. The men of moral courage and brains in his Party were expelled from it because they would not support him. I can sympathise with the Deputy, but I cannot sympathise with his effort to hide his disgraceful retreat, in the way he launched out into a violent attack on a distinguished servant of the State, a person who is not a member of this House. I think it was rather unworthy, and I think in that particular line of action Deputy Norton has not even the support of a section of Irish labour. I have too much respect for all sections of Irish labour, representative as they are of Irish athletics, and clean-minded Irish opinion, not to feel that they deplore the fact that Deputy Norton took that line as his mouthpiece this evening.
 This country for the past eighteen months has been subjected to a great number of knocks, and to a great number of shocks, in order that Ministers may pose before the country and the world as strong men, strong men anxious to assert the right of government. When the strong men are up against it we have a number of little rabbits sitting silent in their seats, or running here and there, in and out of the Chamber. For three long hours no one was put up to give a Government defence or to attempt to give a Government defence to this House for invoking the powers of an Act which was carried in a very different state of affairs some years ago. From the hysterical shrieks of passion of Fianna Fáil, and those who to-day ornament its front benches, not one word was heard in defence. After three long hours the Minister for Justice was put up. I have too much respect for the Minister for Justice, both as a parliamentarian and as a lawyer, to suggest that he should be judged by his form this evening. He stood up and made statements about an organisation which had ceased to be, in order to justify the application of this particular Act to other organisations, and to other individuals. Speaking as Minister for Justice, in his first breath, he announced to this House and to the world, his absolute ignorance of the subject he was pretending to deal with. He has all the facts relating to the A.C.A. and the National Guard in his custody—every file, every document—but his very first statement showed that he had not looked at the first files relating to that particular organisation. He started his case by making a declaration which is substantially different from facts. He referred to the date on which the A.C.A. was founded as February of last year, being just a couple of years out in his reckoning. He is the one man who has relevant documents that his agents have not seen. I merely point out that particular exhibition of ignorance in order to show the reckless spirit in which this Act was brought into being, and in order to point out the lack of knowledge, or  lack of correct knowledge, which that particular Minister was suffering from when the country was asked to suffer under this Act.
The Minister went on to make the case as the Government spokesman, and as Minister for Justice, why the operation of an Act that everyone on the opposite benches had cried out against with all their energy three years ago, should be brought into operation at present. Did he produce one scrap of evidence, or one quotation from the beginning to the end of his speech? I leave that to any impartial people inside or outside this House. He brought a report before this House from General O'Duffy as Commissioner of the police. He misread and misquoted that particular report. He took a section of the report and even misquoted that. He alleged that that report contained a certain statement. After saying that, when challenged to read the report, which never contained any such statement, he sprang from that into an airy ventilation of his own views, observations and opinions. But no case was made, nor did he attempt to make a case, for the application of the Public Safety Act to present circumstances. I feel I am at one with the Government in my opinion that in advocating acceptance of this motion before any impartial tribunal, I should be in the position of a man pushing an open door. I maintain that I am at one with the Government in that opinion and that that is evidenced by the fact that, with great theatrical management, with alleged conspiracies, with fires in Government Buildings, with the withdrawal of arms permits from everybody who obeyed the law and applied for a permit to keep a gun and with wild, hysterical speeches by the President of the Executive Council, the stage was set for the bringing into operation of this particular Act. Yet, they have not attempted to bring one member of the organisation the Act was supposed to deal with before any impartial tribunal since.
There was supposed to be a conspiracy and a plot to upset the Constitution of this State or to challenge  in arms the armed forces of this State. We had a plot manufactured in this country many years ago to be used against the Irish people—a thin, hollow plot. It was naturally distasteful to the Irish people and the people reacted and recoiled with such sheer disgust that the Administration responsible for the hatching of the plot lasted a very short time in this country. But that Administration was foreign, and the minds that hatched that plot to libel decent Irish people were foreign. Here, we have them imitated by Irish people sitting on the Government Benches of an Irish Parliament. If you wanted to get after particular men, to hound your enemies or political opponents out of public life after hounding them out of their means of existence in this country, you could have done it according to some Irish precedent or you could have done it according to some decent precedent. The way you went about it and the manner in which you did it was typical of your whole administration so far. The ordinary people—even those unaffected by your plots, your alleged conspiracies, your little fires at Fianna Fáil banquets—are beginning to see through the humbug and vindictiveness of the whole thing. Having brought that Act into being, having prepared the public mind by framing a whole series of plots, threats and menaces to the State, having hung round the shoulders of men, whose only crime was fearless defence of the State, portions of your own discarded mantle in order to try to put your political opponents in the same position as that occupied by your Party some years ago, you have libelled some of the finest and greatest Irishmen that ever lived. The ordinary man and woman up and down the country are aware of that and nobody is better aware of it than the electorate on which the Labour Party will rely one of these days for votes.
This Act, brought into being to meet an alleged conspiracy against the State—a formidable organisation of armed men plotting to overthrow the  Government—was, in its application, used against seven or eight brokendown little farmers, who were lodged in jail for three weeks without a charge. This Act was introduced in a way which showed the characteristic cowardice that has been the outstanding feature of all the acts of this Government. A date was chosen on which the Dáil would not be sitting. A time was chosen when the Deputies of the Irish Parliament could have no voice or say as to the circumstances existing or the justice or injustice of applying such an Act in present circumstances. Now, weeks after this particular device for bludgeoning political opponents was selected by the Government, we have a front bench populated by mutes, robot-men waiting for the button to be pressed by the great magician. There is not one of them to stand up and attempt to justify the operation of such an Act. But, relying on a clear mind and a glib tongue, a trained lawyer is put up to make the best possible case without any material. Even that trained man, that expert in such a type of debate, made no case that would impress any impartial person inside or outside this House. We have the statement made that a man was caught with a gun here and that a man was found armed there—two, three or four men out of an organisation of some 30,000, and that in a country which lately had a civil war, with practically every man in the population armed. I venture to say that if you take 1,000 clergymen or 1,000 St. Vincent de Paul workers or any ordinary class of the population, you will find, up and down the country, a higher percentage armed than you did inside what was known as the A.C.A. Would that be an argument for applying the Public Safety Act to the St. Vincent de Paul Society or to the clergymen of this country—because one of them here and one of them there had been found to have a gun? It is to be remembered that, from the top, there were the strictest orders that could be written to members of this organisation against the carrying of arms without a Government permit. I venture to say that if you look up your records and disclose the contents of the files with the same  amount of elation and irresponsibility that you do when these can be used against a political opponent, you will find that a bigger percentage of the permit-holders for arms were members of the A.C.A. than of the rest of the population. These orders are in your custody now, because every document has been taken over. I can quote from the documents in your custody the very strictest orders, issued right from the beginning, to those who had arms without permits, that they should either apply for permits for these arms or surrender the arms. Deputies on the Government Benches know that those orders were obeyed, that they applied for permits. I know that the holding of arms without permits by members of that organisation was true of a lesser percentage than would be the case if you applied the same standard test to the general public. Two years ago, we had the then Deputy de Valera and all the Deputies who now ornament the Government Front Bench in full cry against the viciousness of a Government that attempted to apply such an Act against organisations throughout this country that had openly gloried and boasted of their murders, referring to them as executions; against organisations that had for years attempted by murder and intimidation to tamper with the courts of this country; and an organisation whose sinful and criminal activities were so broadly and generally known that they were brought under a ban in a joint pastoral of the Catholic Bishops of this country. Hot upon the murder of a plain servant boy in Tipperary, who was hauled out of his bed and his mutilated remains found at a cross-roads next morning, identified only by the trousers he wore; hot upon the murder of a police officer returning to his young wife, whose orphan children were born three weeks after his brutal murder; in an atmosphere such as that, and following a ban which was the result of consideration by the Irish Bishops, when the Government of this State attempted to apply an Act of this kind to these organisations, every man who sits on that Front Bench nowadays was in full cry  against the undemocratic, brutal methods of Government as applied to the people.
The Labour Party were so horrified and appalled at the application of an Act such as this to a country such as ours, even in conditions such as those, that they expelled two members of their Party, one a Deputy who represented the constituency in which these two murders had taken place. They expelled them from membership of the Labour Party. Yet here to-day we have that Labour Party, and we have that Fianna Fáil Party applying that same Act to an organisation, whose only offence in the eyes of the Government is that the men at the top were big and brave enough for the first time in this country to go out and recruit young men, to go through the highways and byeways preaching respect for the law, and preaching to all they met that, irrespective of who was head of the Government, or of the Party that was the Government of this country, the State was bigger than Governments, that the State was greater than parties, and that it was the duty of the decent youth of Ireland to stand for support of the State, no matter what set of politicians was governing. Their aims and their objects were published throughout the land. There was nothing secret about that organisation. The Press and the police were invited to every meeting held. When hordes of journalists and trained detectives walked into the headquarters to put their questions—ten questions at a time—was there ever any of the ambiguity that characterises that Front Bench over there latterly? Was there any question ever asked that was not answered by a plain, blunt yes or no? All these statements, interviews, speeches, correspondence, all orders issued down to the country, and all correspondence and queries up from the country are in the custody of the Government at the present moment and in the custody of the Minister who spoke here an hour ago. Was there anything in all these documents, in those 18 months, of which any Irishman should be ashamed, or for which he should hang his head? If the same searching examination, if the same  magnifying glass were applied to the utterances of the men who sit over there now, if the same thorough investigation of their records, their letters, and their speeches, were made it might not be in the interests of this House, or the position of respect which this House should hold in the eyes of the Irish people, to have one-tenth of them produced or read.
Now when a ban has been put on that organisation of the youth of the country, put on by a Government misusing their powers and applying an Act, the qualifying conditions of which applied in no way to that organisation, and when by their propaganda and by their provocative acts up and down the country they have failed in one attempt after the other to provoke the men of that organisation into a breach of the law, they finally attempted one desperate expedient. Those men were organising to honour the memory of dead patriots who had been leaders of theirs. The organisation for that ceremony was going on for six months, published in the public Press, posters up at every railway station, advertisements on dead walls up and down the country. For six months the detailed organisation for that particular ceremony was going on and for six long months no action was taken by the Government, no hint that it should be called off. But, in order to demoralise those men, or, alternatively, seeing that young blood is hot blood, to provoke them into an open and violent breach of the peace, nine or 11 hours before that solemn ceremony was to take place, when men would have already left their homes, when all arrangements had been made, on the very eve of the ceremony, we got a Government proclamation, a Government ban.
I should like the Government to take notice of how that was accepted. Leadership of young men is difficult. Young men are hot, young men are fiery, young men do not understand bending even before pressure, young men do not like to be asked to turn from their path even because of authority. But what was the reaction of the man who is head of that  organisation, a man who was hounded out of the highest position in the police force of this country, a man who has been hounded ever since by Ministers, particularly by the President in his new role? He put his whole future, his name, his prestige, into the melting pot in order to stay within the law. He called off that parade. We are living in a country that often had big men, but the biggest act, the bravest act of one of the biggest men was that O'Duffy called off that parade. He played the game that Ministers thought he was not big enough to play, and the men behind supported him because the men behind him knew that there was no necessity for them to give any public demonstration of physical courage, because they felt that the men who had fought and bled for democracy in Kilmallock and other places up and down the country had given sufficient evidence of their physical courage. Through that movement and through that ban the organisation grew in strength. That organisation had been definitely non-party. In facts real or distorted quoted by the Minister for Justice in referring to the A.C.A., we heard to-day of information that he was getting with regard to the A.C.A., but there was no ban; there was no invocation of the Public Safety Act. The A.C.A. was a non-party body; it was not a political menace; but the A.C.A. changed its constitution to the extent that it would become a political party. Then a political menace grew up, and then we had the Public Safety Act invoked.
Dr. O'Higgins: We had the Public Safety Act because it became politically awkward, and in order to bludgeon political opponents. There had to be the same test as we had on that August Sunday; the same test as to whether we would further bend the knee; whether we would further bow to authority, administered by no matter what type of hands or what type of minds; a further test had got to be put on the members of the National Guard; a further attempt to provoke defiance of authority and defiance of  the law. That test again was faced up to by men whose only allegiance is to the State, and whose only attitude is respect for the law and hope for a clean administration. That organisation ceased to be; that organisation went out; but the vast majority of the members of that organisation—and I hope, in time, all the members of that organisation—joined the Young Ireland Association, the Young Ireland Branch of the United Ireland Party. But the vendetta had got to be kept up. The vindictiveness had got to be continuous. Those men who had dared to become a political menace had still to be bludgeoned up and down this country. The medium selected to identify those men, so that the full weight of Government passion might be vented on them, was the colour of their shirts. Men were beaten and victimised up and down the country because they wore a shirt of a particular colour, because they wore the emblem of the New Party, which happened to have been previously worn by the two other organisations.
We have an attempt by the President in his public speeches, and apparently by the Government as evidenced by police activity, to dictate to the Irish people not only as to what they will drink or what they will grow on their land but we have an attempt at dictation as to the colour of the shirt they will wear. Probably it would be all right if we aped degenerate dictators; if we went around in large sombreros and Wellington cloaks. Would that be admissible, or would that be accepted as a real Irish dress? We have this attempt at mimicking the actions of men who never were democrats abroad We have had every attempt to make illegal or drive out of public life a political opposition. It is time that the members of all Parties in this Dáil realised exactly what is going on. If they have any doubt they should at least investigate the circumstances, any type of investigation, but the fuller the better. We have no hesitation in saying that they would come away satisfied that the set of circumstances which the Government pretended was in existence never existed except in their own minds and  in their past records. I will wear my own shirt, be it blue, white or yellow. I will carry my own cloak, but I will never shoulder or carry even one corner of the discarded mantle of the President of the Executive Council. While all this is going on we have a lot of cheap talk about a Christian State. A Christian State has got to be founded on Christian principles. It has got to be founded on Christian justice and Christian charity. With cheap lip-service to a Christian State we have this kind of activity carried on, and this kind of biased and partial administration of the country and the law. When all this is going on we have people standing on political platforms and presuming to quote the Pope's Encyclical; distorting and misinterpreting that Encyclical with the abnormal and distorted vision of men who see red when they are faced with blue.
There is one thing I should like to say, and it is a tribute anyway to a portion of the Fianna Fáil Party. In regard to all the unjust, personal and malicious attacks that have been made on General O'Duffy since he came into public life—every phrase, examined under a microscope, twisted, distorted and hurled back in an attempt to injure that man—I should like to say that during all that jumbled and unjust attack on a great leader and a greater soldier the men in the ranks of Fianna Fáil who can lay some claim to a soldier's record have been silent. I think it is to their credit to say that. The attacks have come not from the Party as a whole. Those discreditable attacks have not come from those who can lay claim to a soldier's record. They have come rather from politicians who have grabbed the material gains of the sacrifices of soldiers.
Mr. Lemass: It is to be gathered from the speeches we heard from the benches opposite that the Deputies there resent the Government using the Act passed by them in order to suppress the activities of an illegal association of which some of them were members. As usual, however, the Party opposite is divided in its line of defence. The line of defence taken by Deputy MacDermot was that the Act  should not have been used, because there was no danger that the men who were behind the National Guard organisation were a menace and it should not have been assumed that they meant what they said. The second line of defence was taken by Deputy O'Higgins, who, having made it, cleared out of the House. His speech was so incoherent that it can only be explained by the deep resentment that he feels that the Government's action called the bluff of those associated with him and in doing so exposed their weakness and futility. A few months ago Deputy O'Higgins was going around the country telling public meetings that all the toughs in Ireland were under his command. We have got, he said, the toughest crowd and to-night he assures us that if we got 1,000 clergymen or 1,000 Vincent de Paul workers, they would be a tougher crowd——
Mr. Lemass: I withdraw nothing. What was the purpose of this speech made by the Deputy? Was it not to assure the Dáil and the country that the members of his association were so docile and meek that they could not be a menace——
Mr. Lemass: Well, the tough crowd that he was boasting about did not prove to be so very tough when the opportunity was afforded them. We called their bluff. It is the disappointment, anger and resentment occasioned by the fact that we called their bluff that led to this outpouring of abuse that we have been listening to.
Mr. Lemass: Let us get the history of this stated. First we have Deputy MacDermot, and next we have Deputy Costello, and thirdly we have Deputy O'Higgins. We are told that  twelve months ago free speech was threatened and that because free speech was threatened the A.C.A. came spontaneously into existence in order to defend the democratic right of public meetings and freedom of speech. If free speech was threatened here whose fault was it?
Mr. Lemass: Who was responsible for the maintenance of order at public meetings? The Civic Guards. At that time who was Chief Commissioner of the Guards? It was Mr. O'Duffy. He was responsible for seeing that the Guards kept order at public meetings. It was he, through the orders he got from the Government, who was responsible for that. Ask him to tell his associates in the Party opposite if he failed to carry out these orders either through unwillingness to do so or inability and incompetence to do so. The responsibility was on him and not on the Government.
Mr. Lemass: In so far as the Army Comrades' Association was an organisation brought into existence to protect the rights of its members we had nothing to say against it. In so far as it tried to arrogate to itself the functions of the police force it was merely a public nuisance. It was only when it set out as its chief objective to overthrow democratic institutions in this State that we suppressed it. The A.C.A. was organised on military lines. It prescribed a uniform for its members. It was officered by people who gave themselves military titles. It had arms at its disposal. If the object of that association was, as Deputy O'Higgins said, to go round the country preaching respect for the law, why did they require these titles, these uniforms and these arms?
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy is more gullible than even I thought. Subsequent to the development of the A.C.A. on the lines I have indicated it was transformed into the National Guard. It was given a new title, a more military title, and it was placed under the command of Mr. O'Duffy——
Mr. Lemass: Of course it is not. What does Deputy Costello and what does Deputy O'Higgins mean when they say that we used the power under the Public Safety Act to suppress political opponents? The National Guard was not a political organisation. It did not even pretend to be a political organisation.
Mr. Lemass: ——What is he General of apart from being a general bore? He is reported on the 11th of August as having given the following statement to the Press. It was the 47th statement that week. “Politics,” he said, “are barred in the National Guard. Any overtures made to them by the Cumann na nGaedheal or Centre Party had been rejected. The Fianna Fáil Party had tried to make it appear that they were associated with politics, but that was false. He believed that if a vote were taken to-day 99 per cent. of the National Guard would vote in favour of their remaining anti-party.” On the following day he made another statement.
Mr. Lemass: Here is his further statement: “It should be now clear to all who wish to see, that we are determined to keep the middle of the road, independent of all Parties. It was under these conditions that I accepted leadership. Those who allege that we are linked up with any political party or group of parties give us credit for very little intelligence.” Deputy O'Higgins said here a few minutes ago that he always sympathised with those who had to make public recantations. He has got to exercise his sympathy now with his own Party. That non-political organisation had an objective which it did not pretend to conceal. I quote this statement to refute those who said that the Public Safety Act was used by the Government against their political opponents. The people against whom it was used claimed that they were not politicians at all. They said that if they had association with the Party opposite they would have very little intelligence. What were its objects? “It plans to remodel the Irish Free State Parliamentary system upon rather revolutionary lines.” That was a statement by General O'Duffy, the Director-General of the National Guard.
Mr. Lemass: I am quoting from the Irish Times of the 11th August, the main page, double column, about half way down: “The present Parliamentary system was English. The  system he championed was closer to the old Irish method of government. After it had been tried for, say, ten years,” said the General, graciously— the word “graciously” is mine—“he would give the people an opportunity of voting for or against its continuance.”
Mr. Lemass: Yes, after they had ten years' experience. They were not to be given an opportunity of voting to bring it into existence. He made that quite clear. He was going to give an opportunity of changing the system after ten years.
Mr. Lemass: “The present Parliamentary system was English. The system he championed was closer to the old Irish method of government. After it had been tried for, say, ten years, the people would have an opportunity of voting for or against its continuance.” Here we had a military organisation, with a military title, organised on military lines, with a uniform, with companies and company commanders, with arms at its hand or in a position to procure arms, declaring its objective to be the destruction of the Parliamentary system in this country and its replacement by some fantastic system of dictatorship which General O'Duffy had evolved. Deputy MacDermot agreed to-night that Mr. O'Duffy was talking nonsense when he was talking in that strain. He realises himself he was talking nonsense. Is there any Deputy opposite who agrees with him that the Parliamentary institutions of this State should be replaced by a system of local Soviets such as Mr. O'Duffy recommends? He called them village councils, but so far as I know Soviet is Russian for a council.
Mr. Lemass: The only difference between Mr. O'Duffy's method and the Russian method is that in Russia Soviets are selected on a representative  basis, but under Mr. O'Duffy's system the members would be selected by Mr. O'Duffy. Is there any Deputy opposite who approves of that system of government?
Mr. O'Sullivan: On a point of explanation. I do not want, in any way, to interfere with the proceedings of the House, but I have raised the point that a word has been misread— it is a serious charge—into a statement.
Mr. O'Sullivan: The Chair properly objected to too many interruptions, but I think that mine is a proper one. A statement has been repeatedly misquoted. I have asked if one particular word can be found in the statement in any report, even the report in the Irish Press. Can any report of the statement be found using the words “village councils”?
Mr. Lemass: I can produce the reference to village councils if the Deputy wants it. There was a period of two hours between the statements, and there was a change of policy. Mr. O'Duffy said it was his ambition to introduce a system in which Parliament would consist of representatives of professional and vocational groups such as farmers, engineers, teachers and those engaged in labour. Women, he explained, would be attached to the groups of their husbands or fathers.  There might be something to be said for village councils but, for that——! I think on that alone any man could be certified.
Mr. Lemass: The Party over there have accepted General O'Duffy as their leader. Do they all agree with their leader's policy? Already he has been repudiated by at least two Deputies on the Front Bench opposite. Will they repudiate him generally in respect to this particular matter? I ask the Party opposite to formulate a policy, if they can, without bursting their Party. They might, at least, let us know where they stand.
or are we discussing the policy of the United Ireland Party? We are quite prepared to discuss either, but under the rules of order I think we are constrained to discuss only the action of the Government in invoking the Public Safety Act.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Dillon pays himself a compliment when he speaks about the policy of the United Ireland Party. Apparently he knows it, but he is the only one who does. I am speaking about the policy of Mr. O'Duffy when he was Director-General of the National Guard, when he had at his command a military organisation, in uniform, with arms at its disposal, an organisation that did not associate, and was not going to associate with any political party. That organisation had certain objectives. How did it intend to achieve them? Not politically, because it would not touch any political party, Mr. O'Duffy assured the country. When the Cumann na nGaedheal and the Centre Party approached them they rejected them with scorn. “Do you think,” he said, “we have no intelligence?” That military organisation was suppressed, and it was suppressed in the interests of public peace through the instrumentality of the Public Safety Act. Now, there are things in that Public Safety Act that we do not like, but we did not frame it.
Mr. Lemass: If Deputy MacDermot's point is that we are taking a sledge hammer to crack eggs, our answer is that the sledge hammer was the only weapon available. If the Act had been  less drastic in its provisions we might not have regretted it, but so long as it is necessary to secure that anybody who wants to change the Constitution of the State, should first of all, seek the mandate of the people for that change, we are going to use whatever powers are available to that end. The use of these powers has had its effect.
Mr. Lemass: Mr. O'Duffy has now abandoned all these notions which Deputy MacDermot described as nonsensical. The Centre Party has found its natural place in the ranks of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the National Guard has become a youth movement. We saw some of the youths on the benches opposite to-night. I want to tell Deputies opposite that any attempt to organise a military movement in uniform, with or without arms, is going to be dealt with by all the powers at the disposal of the Government. We have made this country a freer country than it was when we found it.
Mr. Lemass: It is open to everybody, no matter what sort of political constitution he wants here, to advocate his views in public and, if he gets a majority, to come on to these benches. Whether he wants union with Britain or the restoration of the old Constitution, the preservation of the new Constitution or some of those fantastic schemes which this nit-wit talked about in the days of his hilarity, it is open to him, if he gets a majority of the people, to give effect to his views but not otherwise. The public wearing of the blue shirt was symbolical of the National Guard. I would remind Deputies that under the Act which they devised the burden of proof on any person charged with being a member of an illegal organisation rests on that person, and that anybody convicted of that charge is ineligible to be a member of the Dáil.
Mr. Lemass: There is another matter, however, besides the National Guard which has got to be dealt with and that is the campaign for the non-payment of rates. Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Dillon said that as the leaders of the Centre Party they did not advocate the non-payment of rates. Of course, they did not. They took good care to save themselves but they sent the poor mugs, the simple-minded members of their organisation to do it. Their hands are clean but some of their victims——
Mr. Dillon: It is. Both the President and the Minister have been told that it is false and the Minister is now repeating it. I would like to know from the Chair if I am entitled to describe, in language that I should like to use, the statement of the Minister.
Mr. Lemass: I do not think that any other word would fittingly describe those who allowed men like Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Dillon to lead them into the situation in which they now find themselves.
Mr. Dillon: I am determined to bow to the ruling of the Chair in this matter. I have made a categorical statement denying the contemptible allegation of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Am I to take it that he is not going to be compelled to withdraw the false charges he has made?
Mr. Lemass: If you say so, I will accept his word. I am quite certain that Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Dillon did not advocate the non-payment of rates. They merely went out and made speeches inciting others to do it.
Mr. Lemass: Members of the organisation of which Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Dillon were supposed to be the leaders went around the country organising not merely a campaign for the non-payment of rates but a campaign to boycott those who did pay. I say members of their organisation did  that. They are supposed to be the leaders of it, but, of course, they are supposed not to be responsible.
Mr. Lemass: My answer to Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Dillon is that those who did go out openly and did advocate the non-payment of rates were better men than Deputy MacDermot or Deputy Dillon, even though those of them who are convicted of that charge will have to suffer punishment for their illegal action, while Deputy Dillon and Deputy MacDermot go free. Deputy Costello delivered an impassioned speech here this evening, in the course of which he asked if there was any member of the Dáil who could justify the action of the Government  in removing General O'Duffy from the commissionership of the Civic Guard. Is there any member of the Dáil even on the benches opposite who now doubts the wisdom of the Government in effecting the removal of a man who has proved himself to be a bitter political partisan and, what is more than that, utterly incompetent? His removal was, in fact, too long delayed. Not merely do Deputies know in their hearts that to be true but every citizen of the State knows it to be true. The Government could not expect efficiency and loyalty from a force officered by such a man as General O'Duffy has now publicly proved himself to be.
Mr. Lemass: His proved incompetence would have justified his removal. The use of this Act in order to ensure that the funds required by local authorities will be available itself justifies it. If there was no National Guard at all, and if there was no attempt to organise ex-soldiers on military lines for the purpose of achieving by military methods a nonpolitical objective, this Act might still have been necessary to deal with the much more insidious and dishonest campaign with which the National Farmers' and Ratepayers' Association is connected. Deputy Dillon and Deputy MacDermot took the right course when they ran for shelter in time into the broad bosom of Cumann na nGaedheal. Their Party was due for an exposure which would have made it impossible for them to stand up again before the Irish people, and so, as Deputy Norton said, they went for a ride on the tiger. The use of the Act has been justified by its results. Not merely has that justification been admitted by all those in the country who are supporters of the  Fianna Fáil Party but it is admitted by all those who are its opponents. On the date upon which the proclamation of the National Guard was published the Evening Herald, which is not a Fianna Fáil organ, in its leading article expressed the general feeling of relief which had been created by the action of the Government, followed by the calling off of the parade. Deputies opposite know quite well that if the Government did not act, and if they had got away with their proposals, there would have been, in Dublin and elsewhere disorder with which the ordinary police force would not have been able to deal. By taking action, at the right time, and to the extent necessary, we preserved the public peace and that result justified our action. The fact that those who gave, under cover, encouragement and sustenance to the no rates campaign now publicly repudiate it, is another result to justify the bringing of that Act into operation. This debate has served a useful purpose in so far as it made it quite clear to the men who are members of the National Farmers' and Ratepayers' Association that if they proceed in their campaign their leaders will let them down.
Mr. Dillon: Some considerable observation of the proceedings of this House has taught me one lesson: that President de Valera is about the most astute politician in this country. Whenever there is a debate in this House calling into question his conduct, as head of the State, he puts up the simpletons to get off their chest any kind of tomfoolery they like to pour forth. And when the Opposition have torn to pieces, and scattered these, the President gets up and really shows his hand, generally at an hour in the evening when there is no time for anyone to answer him. We heard the Minister for Industry and Commerce just now. He spoke for some considerable time, and his nominal purpose was to justify the Government in invoking the Public Safety Act when, and in the circumstances, they did. He began by saying they were told that free speech was threatened, and he scouted the idea.  Does President de Valera remember a day when he was in Glenties and addressed a meeting there? There were hundreds of supporters of the National Centre Party in the town who went quietly to his meetings and listened respectfully to what he had to say. Does he remember that, half an hour after he finished his speech, and while he was still sitting in his hotel in the town of Glenties, and I and a few of my side addressed my supporters in the town, his friends came along and broke up our meeting?
Mr. Dillon: The President himself was a witness of it. Shortly afterwards I went to Macroom. There were 1,500 people in the square to hear us. About 80 or 90 supporters of President de Valera came into the square and deliberately attempted to break up our meeting. The Civic Guards did all in their power to make an end of that disturbance. They went to these men and tried to get them out of the crowd, but every one who had to be ejected kicked up a row with the object of breaking up the meeting. Subsequently 50 members of the National Guard went over to those people and said to them perfectly peaceably “Will you go away and stop interrupting this meeting?” Then the National Guards withdrew for a while to let them go. And when they did not go away these 50 members of the National Guard simply wiped the square of Macroom with President de Valera's 70 or 80 men. If they had not wiped the square with these 80 men they would have made it impossible for the 1,500 people assembled there to hear us. There is no use in Ministers saying that there is no threat to free speech. Everybody knows that during the last election every meeting that was not in favour of Fianna Fáil was interrupted by followers of the President; and he knows that well himself.
Mr. Dillon: The Minister for Industry and Commerce went on to say that this movement of which  General O'Duffy was head was not a political movement. He knows perfectly well that that statement is not true. He knows perfectly well that General O'Duffy, on more than one occasion, said he was quite prepared to contest an election in this country, and to go into active political life if circumstances rendered that course desirable. He knows perfectly well, and everyone in the country knows, that as long as the A.C.A. presented no political menace to Fianna Fáil there was no Public Safety Act necessary. It was when the A.C.A. seemed to have got a germ of a great political movement that would show up Fianna Fáil, and eventually defeat Fianna Fáil that the Public Safety Act was invoked. We were told that the President had his heart rent, that his love of Ireland induced him to do things that made him weak to have to do them, and that it was only his high sense of duty that made him invoke legislation to put an end to such a national peril. There was no national peril but there was peril to the Fianna Fáil Party and their policy.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce began by saying that General O'Duffy was a Fascist — a kind of Mussolini and Hitler rolled into one. Then he told us that General O'Duffy was a Communist. It is the same old story. When a man is not here to defend himself peg mud at him, peg every kind of mud at him in the hope that some will stick. Then the Minister went on with a magnificent flourish, taking a lesson from the President in reference to what he said about the men who were to be charged before the military tribunal. He declared that these men were guilty of certain crimes and should, therefore, be punished. A member of the Executive Council, who could replace any member of the military tribunal to-morrow if he wished, gets up and gives judgment on the persons who are charged before the military tribunal — a tribunal which has the lives of these men in its hands. He says, in so many words, to the tribunal “Here are the victims; it is your job to execute them”. That is the departure for which the Labour Party stands. We used to talk of the poor  soupers when a person harassed by poverty and hunger sold his soul to satisfy his hunger. The people would sing of them “They sold their souls for penny rolls and lumps of hairy bacon”. That is what might be truly said of the Labour Party here to-day. They have sold their souls for penny rolls and lumps of hairy bacon. Perhaps they have no souls to sell. One would almost hope so because it is a pity to see damnation take place under your own eyes.
Every man in this House who loves liberty instinctively recoiled from the Public Safety Act when it was first brought before this House. I have no apology to make for saying that. The severity of its terms and its character generally shocked me. But it is well to remember that when that Act was introduced into this House there were men being murdered on the roadside. Members of juries were murdered; witnesses were murdered; members of the Gárda Síochána were being murdered and there was a time of grave difficulty when, as Deputy O'Sullivan said to-day, the ordinary process of law was breaking down and the jury system was being made impossible by the fact that jurors were liable to be assassinated in the public streets if they were faithful to their oaths. I doubt if even these desperate circumstances would have persuaded me to vote for the Public Safety Act. But here you have a movement to-day under the control of a man who was for 11 years Chief of the police force here and prior to that was a high officer serving in the force of which President de Valera was the head, and never on a single occasion was his integrity questioned. He was for 18 months the instrument of the preservation of law and order in this country for a Fianna Fáil Executive and he never let them down. He put into the hands of President de Valera every syllable of information that reached him about the Army Comrades Association, although he would be the last man to deny that he had many personal friends in its ranks. He felt, as a man like General O'Duffy must feel, that he had undertaken to do a job  for the State and that no matter how that might hurt him personally, it was his duty to do his work or resign. There never came into his office or possession one single word of information that was not immediately placed in the hands of the Government.
Mr. Dillon: Because you were asked time and again to name a single instance in which he let you down and you were unable to do so. The President on one occasion quoted a report, a confidential report, which he had received from him, although I have heard the President denouncing such a practice when it suits the President not to do it himself. He said that General O'Duffy had sent him in the name of every individual who was in the A.C.A. and reports naming every circumstance which was brought under his notice, whether he believed it or not. That is the man whom the people of this country are asked to believe was going to lead a bloody revolution, to carry out a coup d'état, to overthrow the Government and plunge the country into chaos. The Government expects the people to believe it. Well may Deputy Norton say, as he said on the last night the Dáil met in the last session, that the Executive ought to realise that they cannot gull and fool the people all the time.
I remember very well after Fianna Fáil came into office, I think it was Deputy Smith made a maudlin speech somewhere down in County Longford in which he said that it warmed his heart to look down into the eyes of the plain people and to see the light of liberty shining there since the Public Safety Act had been suspended. Upon my word, there is no use concealing it, when the President used to get up here saying that he genuinely felt that that kind of legislation was bad for the country I had a soft corner for him in my heart. I used really think that “Be he right or wrong in his general policy, that man is doing his best. He is really making a sincere endeavour to get away from that kind of thing and he is doing his best.” I used to think that a lot of  what he said was deserving of high praise. Then I made a strange discovery quite recently. I found that the President was a student of a certain political philosopher called Niccolo Machiavelli. I turned up that distinguished philosopher to find out what his advice was and strangely enough I found that Niccolo Machiavelli, in a book which he had written entitled The President, supplied instructions for Presidents who wanted to keep their jobs. These are the instructions:—
“Therefore, it is unnecessary for a President to have all the good qualities that I have enumerated but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious and that to appear to have them is useful—to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite. For this reason the President ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand because it belongs to everyone to see you but to few to come in touch with you.”
“For that reason let the President have the credit to conquer and hold his position. The means will always be considered honest and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it, and in the world there are only the vulgar for the few find a place only when the many have no ground to rest on.”
I must say when I read that combined with the knowledge that  it was not unfamiliar to the President I began to wonder if I had been a great deal simpler than I thought I was. Let us remember what President de Valera promised us. Broadly, we were to have benignity, prosperity and peace. Well we got a taste of the benignity the night he took down a lock of his hair and said it was the happiest day of his life when he made his political opponents drink gall and wormwood.
Mr. Dillon: If I have misquoted the President I withdraw unreservedly, but that is the impression that he left on me, that he felt on that occasion that the Opposition were drinking gall and wormwood, and that it gave him infinite satisfaction. We shall get the quotation — that is the fairest thing — and if I have misquoted the President I shall withdraw and apologise. Then we got the prosperity. There is no need to talk about the prosperity because it is all round us for everybody to see. The President has a monument more enduring than marble in the Fianna Fáil prosperity. Then we came to the peace. You see, the President was everything he should appear to be, but he was always ready, when the occasion called for it, to be something else just as well, and when the Fianna Fáil Party made up their minds that there were rocks ahead, and blue rocks, the President bethought himself of his old acquaintance, David Lloyd George, and discovered a German plot, and just as quickly as President de Valera was whisked away from the Mansion House 16 years ago, he planned to whisk away the leaders of the movement here. He ought to have remembered that there was nothing redounded more to his advantage in the election of 1918 than that he be whisked away under a Public Safety Act. He ought to have remembered that nobody on either side of the political fence in Ireland in those days believed the raméis about a German plot, and he ought to have remembered that if he took up those methods they would fail just as certainly. I want now to refer for a moment to column 1861 of Volume 48,  No. 5 of the Official Debates. The President there said:—
“That would be corruption, to my mind, and studying the attitude of the Opposition to-day and carefully studying some of the statements that they made at the time, there was just that danger, that there would be in office men who would abuse their office by making that discrimination. I know it is gall and wormwood to them that they are not here to do it and that is the whole trouble. They are not here to do it, and it is the great and supreme pleasure of my life to know they will have to digest that gall and wormwood.”
Mr. Dillon: I can well understand that a word might be spoken in heat which the President would be glad to withdraw and I do not want to saddle on the President any particular venom connected with that statement. If he feels that he wants to say now that he was carried away in a moment of heat and that that did not truly represent his point of view, I will be profoundly influenced but I will not be as deeply influenced as I was before I read The President, by Niccolo Machiavelli.
Mr. Dillon: Having made their absolutely futile attack on the National Guard and having failed to bring home one single charge that could provide a shadow of justification, they moved on to the allegation that there was a conspiracy to withhold the rates and the land annuities. That statement is false. There is not, and I do not believe that there ever has been, a conspiracy amongst the farmers of this country to withhold rates or annuities and at no time was it necessary in this country to bring in a Public Safety Act to make the farmers pay what was due. The farmers of this country paid land annuities and rates for the last 60 years and they never defaulted a penny until President de Valera became President of this State. That is a long and honourable record and they will not default, those of them who have the means to pay. I invite the President to remember that when Lord Clanricarde was evicting tenants in Galway he adopted exactly the same attitude as the Fianna Fáil Government adopts to-day. He said: “Are they not legally bound to pay these rents? Is that not the law? Does any one challenge my right to collect rents? I will collect them no matter what happens and I do not care whether there are 1,000 police or a 1,000 military, I will get my rents or the people will go out on the road.” He got them and the answer of the Irish people to that was the “no rent” manifesto and the Plan of Campaign. That was in 1881 and bear this in mind — and I have said it on public platform after public platform — what was justifiable in 1881 is not justifiable now. In those days, we had the British Government in this country and we could not put the British Government out no matter how unanimous we were and, therefore, when they determined to oppress our people we were entitled to avail of the best means at our hands to resist them. That is no longer the case and—I have said it repeatedly— if the Government adopts landlord tactics the only legitimate thing to do in this country is to put out the Government and put in a new one and, with the help of God, that is what the people are going to do. Remember this, however, that where there is a  man who has not got the means to pay and who has seven or eight young children in his house and a wife and the bailiff goes in to seize a couple of cattle that are providing milk for those children, I would spit on the man, who would go to the sheriff's auction and buy those two cattle and I would despise the Government and I would despise the Minister for Justice who would send down officers to take milk out of the mouths of children. It is not a crime in this country yet to be poor and if the Fianna Fáil Ministry imagine that they can persuade the people of this country to stand by while women and children are stripped of the absolute necessities of life they are wrong and the people would not be worth their salt if they did.
I say that if there is a man who has the wherewithal to pay his legal dues who attempts a conspiracy to withhold rates or taxes, the Government has every right to insist on getting them and to take any steps that may be necessary to get them. They have got to realise, however, that they have reduced a large number of the farmers in this country to a condition in which they are physically unable to pay and in the name of peace and in the name of good government, I appeal to the Government not to drive these people to madness because there are no leaders on God's earth who will be able to control them. If you drag eight men up to Mountjoy, one of whom is the father of 10 children, another of whom is the father of seven children, and another of whom is the sole support of a widowed sister who has a large family, throw them into jail and keep them there for three weeks without any charge, it is more than flesh and blood can stand to watch them, and if it happened to the neighbours of the President when he lived in Co. Limerick, his own people would be out on the roadside demonstrating against the man who did it. If you have a charge to bring against them, there was a court in Waterford beside their houses in which you could have brought it. You have a man in jail now who had to go home to his wife, in childbirth, from the Civic Guards' hands. You had him arrested and had  to let him go home while his child was being born and like the spirit that was in him, when his child was born, he took pen and paper and asked you to come for him again.
Mr. Dillon: The last Government in my belief would not have hounded down people who are not able to pay, but there is no use in talking in hypothesis. We are now discussing what the present Government has done and is doing and there is no use in wrapping the cloak of Cumann na nGaedheal around you and saying “If they would have done it, why cannot we”? I am discussing what you are doing and not what Deputy Cosgrave would have done 10 years ago. I do not care what he would have done. I am discussing now what you are doing and all I say is that if there are men in a conspiracy to withhold rates who have the means to pay them I have no sympathy with them.
Mr. Dillon: I did. I said it in Mullingar and in Monaghan, but I say that if the Government are going to continue driving people to desperation who cannot pay, who have not got the means to pay, they themselves are deliberately trying to break the peace. I say this system of harrying farmers with Civic Guards is, I will not say deliberate but is certainly calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, and is wrong. These farmers look upon the Gárda Síochána as their friends. Most of the men in the Gárda Síochána are farmers' sons. These farmers have no desire to be brought into conflict with the law, or with representatives of the law. If you are going to so handle the situation that on every possible occasion you will create a position in which there might be a conflict, be it upon your shoulders if there is a breach of the peace. I know most of these men, and I know that nothing is further from their minds than to have any conflict with the police. They do not want it, they are law-abiding  family men. It will take more than President de Valera to persuade the people that men with seven, eight or 10 children are engaged in any conspiracy to defy the law. Men so circumstanced do not go into conspiracies of that kind. No one knows that better than the Attorney-General. So far as we are concerned the Government need never be afraid that we will try to sabotage them, or hold them up for seeking to uphold the law. Never. Can he say the same of the five Deputies in Limerick who chose to go down to the public streets and to denounce the Gárda Síochána in all moods and tenses, when they knew that the Minister for Justice had the intention of instituting an enquiry into certain occurrences there on Saturday night.
Mr. Dillon: ——chose to go there. The Gárda intervened, but not more than was necessary, to prevent blackguards firing broken bottles at unarmed and defenceless men. I believe the broken bottles were deliberately prepared for the occasion. Where you had a gathering of from 10,000 to 12,000 men coming in peacefully to listen to their leaders speaking, you had about 150 supporters of Deputy O Briain and other Deputies from Limerick coming out to peg stones on the public streets at peaceful men. Astonishingly enough we discover that in the midst of the howling mob is one of the Fianna Fáil Deputies for the City of Limerick,  who has come forward and said: “Throughout the whole night I was with them. I saw what they were doing, and I got a whack of a baton myself.” Upon my word, if that warrior had not more control over his own followers than he seems to have had he deserved a whack of a baton. No man ever deserved it more.
I say that there was no single case of illegality brought home against the National Guard when in existence. There was no single statement in this House which would give a shadow of justification for the introduction of this Act. The worst thing that the Minister for Justice had to say was that the fact was that General O'Duffy had advocated strong arms and stout sticks to defend themselves. Thanks be to God, we had strong arms and stout sticks to defend us, both in Limerick and Macroom. There has not been a single suggestion that the National Guard ever sanctioned any illegal activity of any kind. There was a kind of suggestion from the Minister for Justice that the house of some widow had been broken into. I do not know who was responsible for that but the Minister for Justice was responsible for breaking into a widow's house in Waterford. I did not hear him talking about that to-night. He did not confine himself to breaking in and smashing her property. The Minister has no conclusive proof of who perpetrated the outrage on the widow to whom he referred. Let me say that if anyone commits an outrage on a widow or on a spinster the Minister may rest assured that the members of this Party will give him every support in enforcing the law, and in protecting every widow and any other citizen of the State from outrage at anyone's hands.
Attacks have been made on General O'Duffy. There is not a single instance in the career of General O'Duffy that he need be ashamed of, or that any man in this country need be ashamed of. I was on opposite sides to General O'Duffy for a good while. We differed, and differed strongly. He never did anything to which I could point the finger of shame. I believe in anything he ever did he acted in the best  interests of this country, according to his own convictions, and I have yet to find men on the benches of Fianna Fáil who can honestly get up and say otherwise. You have tried to justify the introduction of this Act on the allegation that there was a conspiracy to withhold rates and land annuities. There is not. There never was. You have eight men in Mountjoy Jail. It took you three weeks to formulate a charge against them. The President chose to go to Dundalk and to prejudge the issue.
Mr. Dillon: I am quite prepared to bow to any ruling of the Ceann Comhairle. The Ceann Comhairle heard the speech the President made read out by Deputy Costello to-day. I hold that I am entitled to interpret that speech as a clear prejudgment of the issue. The President may not so interpret it, but I certainly do, and 90 per cent. of the common people in this country so interpret it.
Mr. Dillon: I will briefly recapitulate in order that the House may judge again as to whether it was as I stated. The President chose to refer to what he alleged was a conspiracy to withhold rates, and chose to refer to the serving of boycotting notices on the owners of threshing machines, because of which eight men are lying in jail. Having announced that they were there because of a desperate conspiracy the Attorney-General charged them with boycotting and, I think, with serving boycotting notices on the owners of threshing machines. Is not that so?  Then the President gets up and says that he did not prejudge the issue. You have five intelligent men sitting on the Military Tribunal. I pay this tribute to the Minister for Defence, that I do not care how often the President prejudges the issue, I believe you have independent officers sitting there, and that these five officers of the Irish Army will give a fair verdict according to their judgment no matter what the President says. If and when they come up, which ever way it goes, it will be no thanks to the President that the eight men will get a fair trial. The President ought to realise that, because it was a desperate thing to do. Therefore I submit that the plea and justification for invoking the Public Safety Act has fallen to the ground. It has been introduced to smash a great political movement. Some “goms” were persuaded to subscribe to its introduction, because they were fooled into the belief that there was to be a coup d'état. They are now kicking themselves for having been led into such a ridiculous and preposterous situation. Some members of the Labour Party have cleared out. They could not bring themselves to vote for it. I do not blame them. I suppose they will be expelled from that Party. We will wait and see.
Mr. Dillon: I do not want to prejudge them. But I would not feel myself quite so safe if I were to be handed over for judgment to the five front-bench members of the Labour Party as I would in going before the Military Tribunal. Bad and all as the Public Safety Act is, I should prefer that form of trial. I do not envy Deputy Davin or Deputy Murphy.
The Government case has completely collapsed. There was no justification for the introduction of this Act. There was no threat to the State. There was no threat to anything, but there was a continuance of Fianna Fáil insanity in public affairs. Public Safety Act or no Public Safety Act, the movement General O'Duffy is leading will go on. Public Safety Act or no Public Safety Act, Fianna Fáil is breaking down.
Mr. Dillon: I am stating what is happening. Fianna Fáil is melting and Fianna Fáil does not like to think that it is melting. Despite the fact that it has taken a hearty meal to keep up its courage and its strength, that will not suffice. It will only serve to bring down the Labour Party with it. And it is a pity. However, you paid your price for the penny roll and the hairy bacon and the devil will exact his due in due time. The fact of the matter is that, from a political point of view, Fianna Fáil never more effectively exposed themselves to the public than they did on the day they invoked the Public Safety Act. We know now what their protestations of virtue were worth. We know now what Fianna Fáil justice means. Fianna Fáil mercy, faith, humanity, religion and uprightness— we know now what they are worth. The Irish people are beginning to learn that everything is not exactly what it looks. Give them another six months and there will be a story told which began with Fianna Fáil and which will end without even the mention of their name.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): Now, let us weep on each other's shoulders. Deputy Dillon says poor Fianna Fáil is gone. He is sorry, desperately sorry. That poor heart of his is riven with the thought. Let us see what has happened — 47, 54, 62, 77. Two general elections inside a year and the biggest majority that ever a Party had here given to this Government. What has happened to make us all weep on each other's shoulders because Fianna Fáil is gone? Nothing has happened except that Deputy Dillon has found a new seat on a new front bench. What other basis is there for the belief that Fianna Fáil is gone? How many general elections do they want before they learn their lesson, that this country is sick and tired of Cumann na nGaedheal and of all the permutations and combinations of names under which that discredited organisation still occupies a front bench? Deputy Dillon said we were  gone. Then, he said it again. Lest we might not be completely convinced by the argument, he said it a third time. That is the only evidence. He is not a prophet. He is only speaking with absolute certitude in relation to the future. He is inspired. He is not a prophet. All he can do is read the future absolutely. I am rather inclined to think that we have had some prophets on that front bench before this year. Last year, Ireland was to be bankrupt after two months, three months, four months, ten months, a year, two years and now it is put off for another six months.
Mr. Flinn: Why did Cumann na nGaedheal go to the country last time? Because it was a prophet, because it was perfectly sure that, under the cover of the Public Danger Act — this damnable instrument which they made, this lash which they are now feeling — they would come back. They went to the country because they were prophets. They were perfectly sure that they were coming back with a majority. They were perfectly sure that they were coming back with a majority this time. Did they? If we have another general election now and they are beaten, inside two months of Fianna Fáil coming back with a majority bigger than it has now, that exponent of sober justice on the other benches, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, will get up and call us “limpets.” After we had been two months in office, with two general elections in a year and with the biggest majority that ever a Government had received in this country, the sense of proportion and the sense of responsibility of the Party opposite is represented by letting Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney get up and call that two-months-old Government a Government of limpets. What sort of reliance can you place upon any statement of fact, let alone statement of prophecy, coming from that bench? Deputy Dillon accused the President of most horrible things — of saying that it was the joy of his life, to see men suffer the gall and wormwood of not being allowed dishonestly  to discriminate against their political opponents. Is there any man in this House who would not be glad and proud to find that a condition had been produced in this country in which no man would be in a position, unfairly and dishonestly to discriminate against his opponents? Is there anything wrong with that statement? It is an elementary statement of simple justice which most of us would regard as a platitude that nobody could possibly get up in this House and take the responsibility of repudiating or dissociating himself from.
I am told that they are going to win the general election in Trinity College. That will decide the issue. The Irish Times will come out with two Latin quotations and it will say “The great heart of the people is sound; the judgement of the Irish people has been given and Fianna Fáil is condemned by the intelligence of the people. We were told about a little chap called Machiavelli. I wonder if Deputy Dillon, who has departed—again simply a premonition ; I do not want to prejudge the issue but I would not mind making a bet on it——
Mr. Flinn: All right, I have made that offer. There was the raméis of the German plot. I want you to go back and see what the raméis was under which this damnable Public Safety Act was introduced. Ireland had gone Communist. Do you remember that, or have you tried to forget it? Do you forget that the whole of Ireland had suddenly gone Communist? Do you not know that they were going around whispering to Bishops and whispering to all sorts of people all sorts of terrible tales about this Communism? Do you not remember the terribly strained circumstances under which that Bill was introduced, when every member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party had to come up guarded by three separate C.I.D. men? Stunts! Do you remember the circumstances?
Mr. Flinn: The allegation was that this country had gone Communist. That was the stunt under which every member of this House had to come up guarded, and some of them had to change their guards because they could not keep up the pace of the Deputies.
Mr. Belton: On a point of order. I want to know if that statement is in order in this House as addressed apparently to some Deputy in the House—personally, to me, as I was the Deputy who made the remark. I am not going to be deterred from putting my question by any nationality on the opposite side.
Mr. Flinn: Would you not like that we should have done so? There is one  gospel I have in life—to find out what my enemy wants me to do and not to do it. That is why we did not withdraw the Public Safety Act. Under what circumstances was this bright young bantling of an Act introduced? It was introduced by a Government which had control of the Seanad. It was introduced by a Government which previously had introduced a Public Safety Act when it had control of the Seanad. It was introduced by a Government which after a year withdrew the previous Public Safety Act because they knew they still had the control of the Seanad. If Cumann na nGaedheal think so badly of their love-child why did they not destroy it before they went out? They had time to destroy 5,000 files. They had plenty of time to destroy a great deal of the evidence of the kind of thing which was behind the mentality which created the Public Safety Act. They had not the intelligence to destroy that before they went out.
Mr. Flinn: Why did they not? Because they were prophets again, like Deputy Dillon. They were as sure then, as Deputy Dillon is now, that Fianna Fáil was gone. Give them another general election and they disappear. Is anybody going to suggest they would have left in our hands the possession of that instrument, that they would have left in the control of the Government that was coming in that instrument if they had not thought that they themselves would be that Government? Let us assume for a moment that we had withdrawn that damnable creation of the mentality of Cumann na nGaedheal and that an emergency had arisen in which a Fianna Fáil Government desired extra powers. Is there any man in this House who is going so completely to wreck his reputation as a man of veracity as to say that we could have gone to the Seanad and asked them for any powers which would conflict with the continued domination in the Seanad and in the Dáil of the state of mind and the interests which were represented both by the Seanad and  by the Dáil? Now perhaps Deputy— what is his name?—Belton—
Mr. Flinn: Is the Deputy trying to give me the Fascist salute? We were called here, a Chinn Comhairle, to discuss a matter which we were told was of the greatest and most serious importance. The levity with which it is being treated is a fairly good indication of the value they set on it. Oh, but there were serious things happened to-night, things so serious that if I were Deputy Dillon I should find somebody's bosom to weep upon. A very serious thing has happened to-night. A threat has been made on the integrity and future of this country, a threat of a character that I never thought would be used in this House. A scandalous effort has been made to stampede this House into an action which its better judgment would prevent its taking. Deputy MacDermot has threatened to withdraw from public life!
Mr. Flinn: Another very serious thing has happened to-night—another of those things which make this very serious debate upon a vote of censure  an historic occasion; we have discovered that President de Valera once did possess, but has lost, the good opinion of Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon read to me something from an old friend of mine called Niccolo Machiavelli. The idea is that the President should speak deliberately, and all that sort of thing. Had he looked up anything about centre parties, united parties, conglomerate parties or anything of that kind, he would have found that they were told that while they must not do anything in the direction of liberty they must speak of liberty. They must speak of “law-abidingness”; they must speak of justice; they must speak of democracy. The Centre Party has done nothing else but talk about those things, while as a matter of fact they have as much belief in them—well, my imagination baulks at finding a parallel. Deputy Dillon asked the President to prove that any information that got into the possession of General O'Duffy —I understand it is rather doubtful as to whether he is a General or not— did not get into his hands. That is one of those things which it would be utterly impossible to prove, and Deputy Dillon knows it. I wish those amazing people who are full of all the wisdom and knowledge of the world would turn those great brains of theirs to the solution of some of the practical economic problems of the country instead of wasting their great talent upon things so unimportant.
Deputy Dillon said that the Public Safety Act, when it was introduced, shocked him. It shocked him into silence. We did not hear anything against it ; we did not hear a word against it ; he was shocked, but he let it go on. He said that there were the germs of a great political movement in —I am not quite sure whether it was the A.C.A., the U.I.P., the N.G. or the F.G., but there were germs of great advantage in one of those alphabetical monstrosities. It had youth behind it. Everybody pays a tribute to youth at the present moment. It is lip service that is being paid to youth on the other side. You remember during the last general election the slogan of Deputy Cosgrave was, “Youth is with me.” Youth was with Deputy Cosgrave, apparently, at the last election, until the votes were counted ; then everybody else was in favour of youth being with him. You remember that cartoon in which a whole lot of people “Sez he,” and there was only one person left to “Sez me.” Then you will remember that a body called Fianna Fáil, a Communist revolutionary tribunal called the Fianna Fáil Government, suggested that the franchise for local elections might be extended to youth. Perhaps the House has forgotten it, but that absolutely amazing and revolutionary proposal was made, and what was the Centre Party—I understand there is only one representative of it now——
Mr. Flinn: This is a youth movement—a germ that is going to grow. As soon as it was proposed to recognise youth and its responsibility in the matter of local government they were immediately described as a lot of hobbledehoys and flappers. That is what youth is when they do not think it is going to vote with them. That is what youth is when you take it in the mass ; when it is allowed to use its own judgement, and when you do not just get the handpicked, selected, sons-of-your-fathers youth, for the purpose of calling it the youthful branch of the United Ireland Party. This body is supposed to be non-political. I read with great care the 972 speeches of that strong silent man, General O'Duffy. He certainly said that the parliamentary system was wrong, and he was in favour of another and entirely different system. After it had ten years of trial then he would permit the people to choose. What was happening in the ten years? It was after this new system of his, which was non-political, which was not connected with any other Party, which was too intelligent to be connected with any other Party, had had ten years of  administration that he was prepared to give the country an opportunity. Deputy O'Duffy—I wish he were! I do wish he were Deputy O'Duffy. I think we ought to give a walk-over to Cumann na nGaedheal in any one of its own constituencies in Ireland in order to bring him in here.
Mr. Flinn: That strong silent man! He ought to be here. When Deputy MacDermot is telling one story about the policy and Deputy Minch is telling another story and when everyone else is correcting everybody else the man who is boss ought to be here. What is the use of sending an office boy and they are all office boys? Why not send over the boss? Let us hear what he has told them to-day.
Mr. Flinn: Ah yes, put him up for Trinity or put him up for Puck Fair. We had a public recantation of policy. I have seen three members of the Farmers' Party speak in this House and I have recollections they made precisely the same kind of speeches when they were in definite and inexorable opposition. The vanished Centre Party made the same sort of speeches upon these benches and of which Deputy Kent now alone remains. They were then all for economy and for every economy. Now they are out for cutting down expenses? Are they for that now? They were immensely efficient and they did transfer themselves into the possession of Cumann na nGaedheal. How did they do it and why? And what was the kind of person to whom they did transfer in the opinion of the tiger who absorbed them? There was a leader of the Farmers' Party here——
Mr. Flinn: I agree it is past. We will leave it at that. We are told this is an Act of appalling severity. When this Act was being introduced the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was warned that they could not possibly anticipate that there would be permanently upon the Government Benches men of the intelligence,  probity and patriotism of Cumann na nGaedheal. They were warned that there might even be a Labour Party there. Now let us assume that what is happening under this Public Danger Act is ten thousand times worse than you say it is. Who is responsible for it? Who is responsible for leaving the instrument there? Remember what you said about it. Lunatics! We are not all lunatics. That was the mildest word. We were thieves, liars and murderers. We were thieves and anarchists and yet you, very intelligent people, went out and left that dynamite in the hands of those whom you had called liars, murderers and anarchists. What can you expect?
Mr. Flinn: You are responsible. I tell you now that if you multiplied every evil thing which you say about our administration by ten thousand you will still have to say to yourselves: “It was we who put this into these wild men's hands, this horrible instrument of oppression!” And when it all boils down and the talk is over and the inspired angel of peace, Deputy Dillon, gets up, what does he say? He says: “I am perfectly satisfied that under the Public Safety Act as at present administered by the five officers in Portobello Barracks that justice will be done”! What is all the complaint about? What is all the growling about? The one testimony we have got as to the unimpeachable justice and the safeguarding of everybody in this country under the Public Safety Act has come from Deputy Dillon who tells us that the verdict which is going to come from those officers will be a just one.
I have no use for the Public Safety Act. It was a damnable creation of low and mean intelligence. It was created for the purpose, if possible, of steam-rolling out of existence the political opponents of Cumann na nGaedheal. I do not know anything low enough or mean enough on whom to use it except on those who created it. They made the lash. I hope the lash will not have to be used. I hope we will see a condition in which it will not be necessary to use it. But if there  is anybody in the whole world who has no cause whatever to complain of what has been done under it, it is the Deputies opposite who were the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and who are now a sort of mixem gatherem of God only knows what. I do not know if you would call them remnants of every sort of political intrigue that was ever created. If anything is done under it, so long as it is down there, there is no case for complaint by you and everybody knows it. But you the members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who ought to have consciences should feel that if the lash falls on any but yourselves the responsibility is yours. If it falls upon yourselves you are getting what you damn well deserve.
Mr. Kent: After listening to the cloquent speeches that have been made in this debate from lawyers and Ministers and from last but not least the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Flinn, I feel rather timid as a farmer and the representative of farmers in butting in on this debate. Nevertheless, I wish to put before this House a few important points as regards the attitude which I intend to take up on this Motion. As one who has had personal experience of coercion laws and coercion courts under the Balfour regime during the land war in this country I want to say that I do not like coercion. When I was a mere young fellow I was tried in one of these courts by two notorious Removable Magistrates known as Colonel Caddell and Colonel MacArdle now long deceased. I do not wish to be uncharitable to their memory, but I only wish to say that I hope they are not gone to the land of Terra del Fuego but to a far happier and nobler land. I have had personal experience of military tribunals too. I have been tried before them.
I strongly object to any coercion Act of Public Safety brought in by any Government or by any Party in this country. This Public Safety Act was brought in by the last Government. It has now been revived by the present Government. Does any Deputy here for a moment imagine that this Public  Safety Act will bring about peace and unity amongst the Irish people, that peace and unity about which we hear so much, which is so often talked about but which is never seriously considered? There is only one way as far as I can see in which this country will become prosperous and united and that is when we have the unity of all the big parties in this House. There is nothing impossible in the way of bringing that about.
What has been engendered for the past couple of years, particularly in the last two years? Nothing but bitterness and hatred amongst the members of different Parties and amongst the people in the country. The time has come when this pot of poison must be upset. The cup is overflowing with anger, hatred and revenge. It is time that that should be upset and that there should be brought about what we all desire, a united people, just the same as we were from 1916 to 1922 when we were the admiration of the whole world. There are two roads upon which we can travel. One is the thorny road that will bring nothing but misery and ruin to the country. The other is the road we will travel if we become, as good Catholic, Christian people should become, united. It is only then that we will make any progress and that we will have any peace and prosperity in this country.
I have a personal objection to this Public Safety Act. I have already given my reasons in that regard. I have also an objection to any conspiracy. It has been alleged by the Government that a conspiracy has been started with the knowledge of the Centre Party. Organisations and leaders may come and go, but the Farmers' Party will remain for all time. You must realise that under the present circumstances the farming community are being driven swiftly into the shifting quagmire of economic ruin. If the conditions that now exist continue, in the very near future this country will be in bankruptcy. The majority of the farmers are not in a position to pay rates or annuities; they are not in a position to  buy the necessaries of life for themselves or their families. As regards the payment of rates, I will vouch for the accuracy of Deputy MacDermot's statement. He never advocated the policy of the non-payment of rates. I agree with him that any man who is in a position to pay rates is not worthy of being called an Irishman if he does not do so voluntarily. If the rates are not paid who will be the sufferers? The sufferers will be the aged and infirm and the mentally afflicted.
The farmers have been in the front line trenches for the last 18 months. They have borne the burden of this economic war with very little assistance from other sections of the community. I think it is time the farmers were taken from the first line trenches and given a chance to maintain their families and an opportunity to pay their rates, which they are morally bound to do. Give them a chance to live in peace and comfort. This Government will never succeed, any more than any other Government, by putting into force drastic coercion laws or Public Safety Acts. So far as I can see, there is only one hope for the country and that is to have a united party, working for the welfare and prosperity of the people. I have been elected by the farmers and I shall do my utmost to carry out the trust they have reposed in me. I sincerely hope I will be in some way instrumental in putting all thoughts of civil strife and all the existing hatred to one side for all time and that I will be the means of bringing about a united Irish people.
Mr. Morrissey: If there is anything that would go to show the difference between now and two years ago, anything that would go to show whether there was any reason for this Act, it has been amply demonstrated by the debate this afternoon in the House. Those of us who were here two years ago, when the Act was introduced, can contrast the atmosphere and the tenor of the speeches and the way in which the measure was dealt with generally, with the proceedings here to-day. I have listened to the speeches delivered from the opposite side, and I  may say that I felt myself going from one degree of disgust to another. Deputy Hugo Flinn, the last speaker from the Government side, filled one absolutely with disgust. Does the President, or the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who gave us a wild outburst and, if I may say with all respect to him, the weakest speech he has ever made in the House, because he had a very weak case, stand over the speech of Deputy Hugo Flinn? Every time I listen to Deputy Flinn, and never more so than to-night, the more I am proud of the fact that he is not an Irishman. No man, I do not care whether he is Fianna Fáil or Cumann na nGaedheal, whether he is Labour or Centre Party, as it was, with Irish blood in his veins, could talk in the strain in which Deputy Hugo Flinn talked to-night. Deputy Norton talked about burlesque and Deputy Flinn, next to Deputy Norton himself, should take the chief part in that respect.
Deputy Hugo Flinn is a professional politician in the real sense of the word. Deputy Flinn has no more affinity with Fianna Fáil than I have— and that is very little. Deputy Flinn would feel really happy if he would be allowed into the Tory Club in London. Deputy Hugo Flinn has prostituted everything that is decent in upbringing, in education and in training. I am one who did not get a university education, but when I realise that Deputy Hugo Flinn is one of those who had the privilege, because of his father's wealth, not because of anything he earned himself, of going through some of the best schools in this country—and perhaps it is only fair to say of the schools in this country that the effect was spoiled by his long sojourn on the docks in Liverpool—I can recognise quite clearly that education does not mean anything.
Mr. Morrissey: It is very seldom that in this House, or outside it, I indulge in personalities, but it is very hard to sit here and listen to a person like Deputy Flinn—his name is spelled in his own peculiar way—talking about  men like General O'Duffy, or talking about any other decent Irishman, or talking about the lash being laid on, or talking about the fact that the last Government should not have left it in the hands of the present Government. There is one thing, anyway, about those who may be brought under the lash of the Public Safety Act. They will not make so contemptible and so ignoble a plea as Deputy Flinn made when he was going to be conscripted by the British Government, as he should have been.
Mr. Morrissey: So much for Deputy Flinn. I have said so much about him because there are some Deputies in this House who perhaps do not know him and who perhaps might be influenced, although I think that would be impossible, by his theatricals up and down the floor with his hands on his hips.
Mr. Morrissey: I do want to say this, that I feel in a rather strange position in this House to-night. The Minister for Industry and Commerce shakes his head, but I do not feel at all as strange as the Minister feels, and I am sure I am feeling much more comfortable than the President does on this matter. Let me say this, that I am absolutely in favour of the Public Safety Act, although I do not consider for one moment that in the way in  which it has been used by the present Government it is at all as necessary as it was in October, 1931. Let us review the position, and let me say, in passing, that I am sorry that all the eight members of the Labour Party who are privileged to sit in this House, and the other eight or nine who are not privileged to sit in this House— who failed to secure election in the country, but who could have a voice in expelling Deputy Anthony and myself from the Labour Party for voting for the Public Safety Bill—are not here to-night, because I want to ask them this: how can they say that what was black yesterday is white to-day?
Mr. Morrissey: But remember this, the Labour Party and the Fianna Fáil Party voted against a Bill that was brought in for what purpose? To deal with those who murdered MacCurtin and Ryan in Tipperary, to deal with Saor Eire and to deal with Communism. It was admitted that there was a conspiracy to uproot, by force, this State. The Labour Party could vote against the Bill and then could expel two members from the Party because these two members thought it was necessary in the interests of the country and in the interests of peace: that it was necessary to secure that every man would have the right of freedom of opinion and the right to earn his living in his own way. They thought it necessary that such a Bill should be put in the hands of the Government that was responsible and answerable to the people. To-day that same Bill is being used not to deal with Communism, not to deal with Saor Eire, not to deal with the I.R.A., and not even to deal with the National Guard. It was ostensibly reintroduced by the President to deal with the National Guard, but it has not been used for that purpose. It is being used to deal  with the eight or nine farmers in the County Waterford who are accused of being members of a conspiracy. They are brought and lodged in Mountjoy Jail for three or four weeks without any charge being preferred against them, and are then informed that they will be brought before the Military Tribunal, which can impose all the terrible penalties we have been told of. The President himself told us that it was the greatest piece of coercion since Cromwell's time. That is to be used against those farmers, but the men who are smashing private property, the men who spurned the President's advice when he told them that they were bringing shame on their country, the men who are going about the country smashing property inside and outside, and who are putting their fingers to the nose of the President and his authority are brought before a district justice. The eight or the nine men from Waterford, who cannot, because of the policy carried out by the present Government, pay their rates are to be hauled before the majesty and terror that the people opposite told us surround the Military Tribunal.
Mr. Morrissey: The President has made many twists during his political life. God knows he has made many, including the famous one when he and other members of his Party said they would be in their graves before they would take the Oath and come into this House, but I suggest that this is the biggest twist he has ever made in his life, but big and all as it is, it is nothing compared to the twist made by the members of the Labour Party. I want to ask Deputy Keyes who is now a Deputy in this House but who was not a member at the time that the Public Safety Act was introduced— he was a member of the body that voted for our expulsion—this question: How can what was right then be wrong now? I want to ask Deputy Everett, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and Deputy Norton this question: Are the six members of the Labour Party who are in the Dáil to-day going to vote for the expulsion of the two who are not here, or are the two who are  not here going to vote for the expulsion of the six? I will put it this way: that the man who rather than come in here and vote against this motion went home to his constituents this morning has a better right to vote for the expulsion of the six than the six have to vote for his expulsion or that of the Deputy who, according to this morning's newspapers is suffering from a nervous breakdown but who looked in the pink of health in the House yesterday. I hope that his nervous breakdown will only last as long as this Bill lasts. I do not want to go further than that. As one who has given a pretty long service, both in the country and in this House in the Labour movement, as one who has been consistently a Labour man from the time he left school and a practical Labour man at that, I am very sorry indeed to see the workers of this country let down in the way they have been let down.
Mr. Morrissey: I am not going to say that. I do not agree with that. I know some of the men who represent the Labour Party in this House and I know them to be decent, honest, straightforward men, but I also know others who are advising them outside, those who did most to put Deputy Anthony and myself out of the Labour Party, I know that they have forced them because of the grip that Fianna Fáil has got on them in the last two years. Deputies on the Labour Benches know that as well as I do.
Mr. Morrissey: Deputy Kelly knows nothing about it. I know a lot about it and I know a lot about what happened in 1927 but I am not going into that now. Deputy Norton, to-day, was obviously unhappy. He is usually very fluent if not very impressive. He usually tries a joke but it is not always a success. To-day he was so bewildered that he talked about a Deputy leaving the House with “his legs between his tail.” That is what the Labour Party have done. They have their legs between their tail and not their tail between their legs.
The President: I have sat throughout this debate and tried to learn what was the charge definitely made against the Government. I listened to the Deputy who moved the motion, and the only thing I could find in the charge is that we called in the Public Safety Act and have not used it. The suggestion is that we have not used it except to the extent of proceeding under it against persons who are charged with conspiracy. Now, I certainly feel much happier here, facing charges of that sort, than I would feel if Deputies on the other side were charging us with sitting idly by while civil war was being created, and while people were being killed, If we had sat idly by, that might very well have happened in Dublin, and if we had not taken the action we did, then, I think we would be seriously open to censure. It was because we felt it would not be right for us to take no action, and that we had a definite duty to preserve order, that we took the action we did. I might say, before I leave that, that I do not believe there is a single person in the country who does not believe but that we acted rightly upon that occasion. I do not care about the compliment paid to General O'Duffy by one of the Deputies on the other benches. I say that General O'Duffy did the right thing in calling off that parade. He certainly did the right thing, just as the Government did the right thing, in saying that the parade should not be held. Until we said that that parade should not be held he was making preparations for uniforms and sticks to carry it out. The preservation of order is not too easy a task. It is not an easy task, particularly in times of crisis, and what we would expect from Deputies who talked so much in the past about the preservation of order, is that they would assist us and not choose to be the people to incite to disorder.
Now the history of the A.C.A., or the National Guard, or whatever name you care to call it is rather interesting. It began with the organisation of trained soldiers, ex-Army officers and men. It was formed during the election of 1932.
The President: Perhaps the author will tell us the exact date it was formed, but that is my recollection. It was formed for what? The ostensible purpose was to preserve free speech. It was suggested, at that time, the police were unable to maintain order, and yet the person in charge of the police at that period was General O'Duffy. There are people who have been anxious to misrepresent this country on every occasion, to represent us as a lawless people and as a people who, at elections, are out to break each other's heads. The universal testimony of all observers of these recent elections is that they were particularly quiet elections, especially so if we remember the issues at stake and the tension that was obvious in these elections. We say there is no need and that there should be no need to organise a body to usurp—for that is what it was intended to do—the functions of the State forces. If the police are not sufficient then it is the duty of the Government to make provision, and to mobilise, if necessary, all right-minded people in the country to see that order is kept. It is not the function of those who want to make a private army to do that. We cannot make people popular. We were doing our best to prevent people interfering with those who are unpopular and we did give— and General O'Duffy knows well we did give—our political opponents that full protection—such protection that they objected to it as being more than sufficient. What, then, was the need for a private army? We did not bother much about it. We knew very well it had not anything in it that would make for its continuance. We knew it had no cohesiveness and we knew that inevitably it would fall asunder, and our general policy for keeping the peace was proving effective. But General O'Duffy comes along and says: “We have got to make this something very different from what it was. We have got to use the symbols  of Fascism—the symbols used on the Continent—to attract our young people. We have to bring parliamentary institutions into disrepute. We have to state that the only way for the country is to have a one-party movement.” In other words, get power by force and when we have got it by force, then, if there is a minority, break every head that opposes us. That is the policy General O'Duffy was holding up before the Party opposite.
The President: Read his original statements. We read them. They were quoted here to-day. It was quite obvious to everybody who read the original interviews when he took over the National Guard what his purpose was. I say it was quite obvious what his purpose was. What was the meaning of the uniform? What was the meaning of the salute? and what was the meaning of the drilling? Of course we are told there is the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They had arms and so had the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The people in this country are not fools and they know that a military organisation is proposed when they have arms at their disposal.
You might talk for a long time about its not being an armed body, but it will not carry any conviction whatever with it. Here you have a nucleus of trained soldiers. They were going to train the youth of the country. They were going to band them together in a military organisation. They got them to disapprove of ordinary representative institutions. They were to be in power, but they never suggested how they were to get into it. Having got into it, they were going to hold it for ten years, and at the end of ten years they would be good enough to allow the people to pass judgment on the system whether it was good or bad. They had arms at their disposal. They were trained. They had a nucleus of already trained soldiers, and young people were to be trained with them. I think it was stated that they denied  that they had these arms available to seize power. If we were dealing with a number of people like the Deputy who moved this motion, or the innocent Deputy Dillon, we might have allowed these things to pass and not worry about them, but we were dealing with men who had on a previous occasion brought off a coup, men who had on a previous occasion suppressed representative institutions, who on a previous occasion suppressed the Republican courts, when they were being brought before these courts for assuming power and preventing the Dáil from meeting. We were dealing with people who were involved in a civil war before and who were going about trying to incite another civil war. We would not be fit to be a Government here if we allowed these risks to continue. I will say further, and I will give the Deputy an opportunity of saying that it is true or untrue, that at the time all this was being done information came to us that a Deputy on the opposite benches, a former leader of the Army, a former Minister for Defence and Chief-of-Staff, went over to Glasgow and had in Glasgow a conversation with the British War Minister.
General Mulcahy: I will ask that any group of Deputies or any group of Irishmen anywhere be brought together by this House to take evidence on what the President now says. I offer that absolutely solemnly and seriously here, and I expect the President who made that charge to see that a tribunal is set up to deal with the matter.
An Leas-Ceann Comhairle: There is no use in engendering heat in the discussion. The President is proceeding to make his speech and Deputies should wait to allow the President to develop his speech in his own way.
General Mulcahy: I would ask Deputies to leave this matter at this stage between the President and myself. I would ask the President to give me now that assurance that he will set up a tribunal that will examine into this matter.
The President: As I say, I am delighted, because the last thing I wanted to believe was that in circumstances such as ours, such a thing could be done. I say such a report came to me on the occasion, and I mention it to give an opportunity to the Deputy publicly to deny it. I shall give him an opportunity to meet such a tribunal.
General Mulcahy: There are a certain number of Parties in this House and if the President finds he has any legal difficulty in dealing with this matter, will he set up a committee of one, two or three members of each Party and put the information before them and enable such moneys as will be necessary to be provided to bring any witnesses who may be required?
The President: The one thing we did not want in this country was to have any such position, but knowing the situation that we were dealing with, and having such a report, I was convinced that we should take the most extreme steps, if necessary, to see that no damage could happen to this community. We took these steps reluctantly. We brought that Act reluctantly into operation. It was part of the regular law of the country when we came into office. We suspended portion of it. If it were possible to save the State and provide against possible disorders by any other method, we would have adopted that. It was our duty to use every legal means that were at our disposal to deal with the situation as we saw it. We did that. We have possibly saved bloodshed. We are going to use it to deal with the type of campaign which was foreseen by our predecessors when they put a certain provision into the Act. Why is it, if you were only dealing with Communism or dealing with murder, that you put into this Act as one of the things that constituted an organisation illegal—why did you put into it this question of rates, the refusal to pay rates or other moneys due to the Central Fund? You have it as part of the Act. Why? Because you realised that it was the most dangerous type of attack that could be made on the body politic.
The President: ——that I spoke in public, I urged that, because that was the charge that our opponents were anxious to level against us. Listen to the speeches made during this debate. What were they? They were incitement  all the time to these people not to pay. Who is going to tell whether a person is able to pay or not? Is not that what the courts are for? What is the meaning of a conspiracy which intimidates other people who can pay from paying and getting them not to pay? Everybody knows that that campaign would not only bring the whole of the local government system into abeyance but would practically end our society as we understand it.
The President: I have said it at every time. I have listened to Deputies' speeches and some of them have been trying to discourage the Civic Guards at a time when they want all their courage to deal with the situation they have in hand. They are told that the Government will not be behind them. I say this to the Civic Guards, that every man of the Guards who does his duty impartially will be backed by us so long as we are the Government.
The President: General O'Duffy was removed because we could not have the confidence in him that we felt we should have in a man in that position. That is true. We did not wish to do him any injustice, but we were faced with the position that we had either to depend on a man who, we felt, had certain sympathies——
The President: Which were proved afterwards by events. One of the things that a man in that office had to do was to deal on the one hand with illegal activities by the I.R.A., if they were responsible for illegal activities, and, on the other hand, to deal with a similar sort of activity by the A.C.A. and we felt that there would not be impartiality. There would be, at least, a natural bias and because of that we felt it was not right to leave him in that office. Did we propose to victimise him? We did not. Against the strong public opinion of those who voted us in here we  brought in a Pension Bill. General O'Duffy was not strictly by law entitled to get a pension—he was removable without any charge stated —but because we wanted to be fair and because we had only a feeling, a natural feeling and a right feeling in the circumstances—and, as I say, a feeling that was proved correct by events afterwards—we thought that it would not be fair to dismiss him and to dismiss him without making some provision for him. Notwithstanding the popularity which the gentlemen opposite want to pretend that General O'Duffy has, we had to face a great deal of odium from our own people for the bringing in of that Bill. We brought it in and the first thing that this guardian of the law does is to try to make the carrying out of the law much more difficult than it had ever been before because it is quite obvious that if you have two bodies and both of them have arms and both are antagonistic and if you let one carry on it will be an incentive to the other to become strong and to build up and if we allowed that to take place we would eventually find ourselves in the same position in which we were before.
The President: We have not encouraged the other. We have tried by a policy of patience to allow a movement built in the past and having its roots in the past to die out. That is a very different thing from dealing with a new organisation that was got up for very new purposes and with new objectives. We tried by patience to bring about a situation in which the young people of the country would see that now they can put forward any policy they wish and can come in here and need accept nothing except the ordinary rule that the majority of the people's elected representatives should decide policy. The result was that the great majority of the young people of the country were supporting that policy and accepting it but our progress in that respect did not please Deputies on the opposite benches. We had here the  constant complaint over the last year that we were not doing this, that and the other thing; we were not following the road they wanted us to travel but I say that we had more success in our policy for keeping peace than they had. We have not encouraged anybody. Our whole policy was a policy of peace, a policy of trying to get the differences which had arisen in the civil war period bridged over, if possible, and if it was not possible to bridge them over, as seemed very likely, that the bitternesses would be assuaged. But this new movement, this National Guard, this new Fascist movement, as it was here, was reviving all the old bitternesses and it was our duty to see that progress along those lines did not take place.
We have no apology whatever to offer here. If we were defeated on this motion here, I should certainly go out of office gladly, believing that we had done exactly the thing that a Government should do but I do say that it would be a very grave mistake for the Dáil to defeat the Government on a motion of this sort under such circumstances, and I do not see how any responsible Deputy could vote for it. As I say, the circumstances in the country are difficult. The task of keeping order is going to be increasingly difficult and everyone who opposes us in using the means that were put up at our disposal by our predecessors will make that task still more difficult. When we set up a court we set up the same court as that set up by our predecessors and any member on the opposite side who believes that it was necessary then to endow the Executive with these powers and who now votes against the Executive for putting them into operaiton is clearly convicting himself. He is convicting himself of trying to promote disorder.
The Guards were attacked and we had incitements to those who wanted to believe themselves, or who wanted to adjudge themselves unable to pay rates that they should not pay their rates and meet their obligations. The court has been attacked here. I remember that on a former occasion we would not  be permitted to make reference to the court such as were made here.
Consequently, as I say, we face this charge without fears of any kind. As I say, if I were standing here as the head of the Executive and facing the charge that with these instruments at our hands, these methods of maintaining order, we had stoodidly by and allowed a situation to develop which had in it what we believed to be dangers—and not merely did we believe it, but the vast mass of the people believed that these dangers were there—if that parade had been held in Dublin on that day, and if there had been, as a result of that meeting, loss of life or serious injury either to persons or to property, then really we would be open to censure and feel that we had deserved any condemnatory vote that we got from the other side.
Mr. P. Hogan: (Galway): I do not want to import any bitterness into this debate, and I do not want to keep the Dáil long. I think I am expressing the point of view of nationalism in this country when I say that the people are getting absolutely disheartened and disillusioned with the present position. I agree with Deputy Morrissey when he says that he is in favour of the Public Safety Act. So am I. I think it is one of the best features in the Constitution. I believe in democracy; I have always believed in democracy. Of course, I know that a country must be up to a certain standard and a certain level before it can run democracy successfully and the real issue here to-day is whether we are fitted for democracy.
Mr. Hogan: I hope that you will. I hope the present Government will. We proved that we were fit for democracy because we established it here. Do not laugh. We established majority rule in this country. There is no doubt about that and no quibbling will get away from it. It is up to you to prove that you are fit for it and that you are good enough for the inheritance which we handed over to  you. Remember—and I mean this— that you have the whole nationalist tradition of this country in your keeping. Do not abuse it. I believe in the Public Safety Act. We have universal suffrage in this country and every man and every woman who has reached the age of 21 has the vote. We have Proportional Representation. We have the widest possible franchise and I believe in that. I am not one of those who share the belief that old people only should have the vote. I hear, and we all hear, no matter what Party we are in, statements by people that “it was a pity to give the vote to the flappers and to the young people” and so on. So far as I am concerned, if the young people of this country are not able to run it decently I do not care who runs it. You cannot have any of these expedients. I did believe—I was brought up to believe, and I was born in the tradition of those who believed—that the people were able to run the country decently, young and old, and that they were entitled to the chance of running it. If they are not able to run it, President de Valera can run it, the English can run it, or any other foreigners can run it. I do not care.
If you have that wide franchise, then you must have strong administration. You must have strong administration especially in a country like this which has no tradition in self Government, which has for years been in opposition and which has developed all the weaknesses of a country which has been for years in opposition and for that reason, I am all in favour of the Public Safety Act. I am in favour of the Public Safety Act because I believe in democracy. I was in favour of the Public Safety Act when the Government of which I was a member introduced it, and when the present Labour Party opposed it. I remember well that they opposed it at the time in the name of democracy. They said that they stood for the poor man, for the man without influence, the man without wealth, the man without any of the indirect means that we are all aware of, of influencing a Government. In the interests of free speech, of free  thought, if you like free expression of opinion, they were opposed to any such draconian legislation. I thought they were wrong. Deputy Morrissey thought they were wrong, but we both thought that they were sincere. I do not think that any longer. If there is a grain of character in any of you, you know perfectly well that I am telling the truth, that they are not sincere now, if they were sincere then. I do not believe any longer they were sincere. Remember the circumstances under which we brought in the Public Safety Act. I do not want to import any bitterness, but really in this country people ought to tell the truth and should call a spade a spade. Am I not right in saying that the Public Safety Act was introduced to deal with an organisation that was using murder as one of its methods, and which openly gloried in the use of murder? I am not in court now, so that I can talk out my mind straight. Remember that the I.R.A. had an organ, An Phoblacht, which referred to the murders.
Mr. Hogan: I do not mind the Deputy's interruptions. They were straighter than him in the matter. They admitted all the murders and ugly things they carried out, and what is more, Mr. de Valera, as he then was, justified them. Remember the country will never get over that. You justified them. I remember when foul murders were committed in this country you stated that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenny, who was Minister for Justice, was in the same position as Sir Hamar Greenwood. You stated that when you were where I am standing now. These were the words. What did they mean? You justified them, and because you justified them remember this, you have the major responsibility for everything they did.
Mr. Hogan: I will address the Chair. To-day President de Valera has the major responsibility, and he can never shed it, for everything that was done. Years ago in this Dáil I foresaw, as every man with the instincts of government by democracy foresaw, that we would reach the present situation. I said that it did not matter to me whether he was a coming President in this country or not. It did not matter to me whether he got a majority or not, but he would never speak for the Irish people, as he was at the mercy of a group of ruffians, who shouted publicly the word murder louder than any other group. That is the position you are in to-day. It was not you introduced the Public Safety Act. It was your masters. It was not at the behest of the Irish people, but at the behest of the I.R.A. Everyone knows it. Remember this, you will never have a conclusion until everybody in this country says what he thinks. I am sorry to have to talk so bitterly, because I think the situation is getting past us. I think the present position of affairs cannot last, and that this country cannot last, unless we all pull up and take stock of the situation. I do not care who rules in this country. I would like to think that there were men of character on the benches opposite who would get up and speak out, but they are only creatures. I am talking sincerely. Deputy Lemass has brains but no character. I listened to Deputy Flinn. Were you ashamed of him—a parvenu? Were you ashamed of him before the whole world in the present position of this country? Are you ashamed of the position to which you have brought this country, and every honest workingman in it? If not, I am, and so are the people behind us, because we have good Irish blood in our veins. Our fathers before us were Nationalists, and we do not like the English and the foreigners to be proved right when they said that we were not fit for self-government.
What is the position in the country? I agree with President de Valera that it is bad that any section should  advocate the non-payment of rates. I do not care who takes charge, but the next Government is going to have a terrible task, an impossible task, and everything that happened not only in our time, when we were the Government, but at present, is going to make it more difficult because of the waste of money. Money is important and is wanted for the poor, for the labourers, for the farmers and for social services. It has been wasted. I would not mind that. We would get over the loss. There are immense resources of wealth in this country. What we will never get over, if the rot is to continue much longer, is the demoralisation that has taken place. That is what we will not get over—the demoralisation. A businessman, a farmer or a shopkeeper may meet with losses or with difficulties, but he will get over them, on one condition, that he retains his courage and self-respect. That is what this country is losing. I know decent men, who now say that they do not intend to pay rates, who never dreamt of saying so before. I know decent men trifling about paying debts. Who started that damnable doctrine but the President of the Executive Council.
Mr. Hogan: I remember when farming was prosperous, when we were endeavouring to make it pay, and as efficient as it should be. When people were well able to pay the annuities, when they were willing to work and to employ labour, when there was an honest, decent tradition in this country you butted in.
Mr. Hogan: I think with great respect that I am dealing with a point that is very relevant. The justification for the introduction of the Public Safety Act now is that there has been a no rates campaign. That is what I am dealing with. That no rates campaign had its roots deep in the past, and if this country is demoralised at the present moment, and if there is a spirit against work and the honest payment of debts, I say the President of the Executive Council alone has the highest responsibility in that respect. It was he made it. This was a rich country in 1924, 1925 and 1926. It was a rich country when Deputies who are now Ministers went around the country in a flippant way, in a garrulous way like Deputy Lemass and Deputy MacEntee—I will not say in a garrulous way of Deputy Aiken, because he is almost incoherent and inarticulate— and they told the people that they were poor, down-trodden, and should not pay, as they were suffering under the grossest tyranny. They discredited democratic rule in order to find excuses for destroying majority rule. When they had done that they had sowed the seeds and we are now reaping the whirlwind. Honestly, if we do not all face up to it, I think this country is in danger. I ask all to try to save it, because it is a situation that will not last much longer.
Putting the Public Safety Act into operation against the National Guard will not solve the problem. Everyone in the country knows that that act was a lie. The typical excuse of the Minister for Industry and Commerce really amounted to this, that General O'Duffy practically established village councils. That is not sufficient justification for the Public Safety Act, even if he did  do so. After all, a threat to establish parish councils it not a terrible threat. There is a more serious situation in the country, and I ask the Deputy to pluck up his courage and to remember that loquaciousness and a certain amount of smartness are not going to get the country anywhere. If this country is to get anywhere, the people who run it must have a little bit of character, courage and common honesty. I ask the Minister to remember that when he thinks he is making a great speech and making clever points. That is what he lacks and that is what you all lack on the Front Bench. I know that there are honest men on the back benches of Fianna Fáil. They come from the people. They know, as I know, that the country is in danger at the present moment. They know that this thing cannot last. They know that we are facing bankruptcy. They know that this gross partiality in the administration of the law is only further demoralising the country. There is not, I suppose, any man in the country, no matter how illiterate, who does not feel the contrast. What has happened recently? A member of the United Ireland Party was fired at down in Kerry and there was a man arrested for it. I do not say he was guilty. The man arrested should be charged with attempted murder. Where was he brought? Before a district justice Every day there are, as we read in the paper, men committing the gravest possible offences. They have been brought before district justices while a few unfortunate farmers who, if you like to put it that way, have been demoralised or have been unable to pay their rates are hauled before the Military Tribunal.
So far as we are concerned, we shall obey the law. We made the law. We established majority rule. We hope by obeying the law, even when that law is abused, even when the Administration is guilty of gross abuse of power, we will teach something to the country. I do protest, in that connection, against the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to-night. It was a cheap speech. The principal point he made was that when they put the Public Safety Act into operation  the National Guard disappeared. Very well. If it did what is the lesson? It is a tribute to the National Guard and their respect for the law. Do not think they were afraid. They are the men who established majority rule in this country. They are the men who carried through the civil war, who established this Parliament and who did that in spite of guns and of propaganda. They did that and they were not afraid. They obeyed the law on this occasion and I hope they will always teach you to obey the law and that the people of the country will learn something from their action. But you must remember this—you cannot go on with this gross partiality, you cannot have this contrast for any length of time without completely demoralising the country. Everyone sees that in this organisation, the I.R.A., they are free to do as they like. The President makes the point that there has been peace for the last two or three years. I do not think there has but, so far as there has been peace, at what price has it been bought? I came to the conclusion that there has been peace because the President is carrying out any command that comes from this body that calls itself the I.R.A. The Governor-General was removed and the Oath was removed. All these things were done. Who dictated them? Was it these men behind the scenes—these young men without wit, words or worth and of all classes? A lot of them have no national tradition. Were they the people who dictated the present policy of the Executive Council? If they were, it is a terrible state of affairs. That was the reason you had comparative peace in this country. You can always have peace on these terms. But I suggest to the President that he is not responsible to these men. He is responsible to the majority of the Irish people and he has prostituted his high office and he is doing a great disservice to a very great and ancient nation in yielding to that body. In my opinion he has been doing that. What is the present position? He has been feeding them for the past three or four years and the more they get the more they want. The result is that they have got out of  hand and are carrying out their policy in spite of him. It was obvious that that would come. It is no consolation to me or to any man of goodwill that it has come—none whatever. It was inevitable and I hope worse will not come. The President can go on with the administration of the Public Safety Act, so far as we are concerned. We regard it as a gross abuse of power. We will always obey the law.
Mr. Hogan: I do not think you can. The President, I suppose, was referring to me when he spoke of the possibility of members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society having guns. Certainly— under licence. That is what I meant. You will find in any organisation an odd man who has a gun without a licence. That is inevitable. What counts is the official policy of the organisation—the view put before the organisation by its leaders. There is no doubt, as Deputies opposite must know, that the official policy of the National Guard, as it was, or the Young Ireland Party, as it is now, is a policy of peace, of civilian action, of banning the gun. That is the official policy and that is what counts. Deputy Killilea might be able to give me an example of a fellow who came into that organisation with a gun for his own purposes. That is inevitable, but that will not last long when the leaders have set their face against that sort of thing. That has always been the policy of the National Guard.
Can any Deputy opposite deny this? I have addressed many meetings since  1923. In 1923, we got the votes of 70 per cent. of the electors of this country. Yet, I never got up to address an election meeting in 1923 that there was not a determined attempt to shout me down. I suppose that is the experience of practically every Deputy on these benches. At a time when we had at least 70 per cent. of the country with us, there was a determined and organised attempt to prevent free speech. We lost a certain amount of support as the years went on. We had less than 70 per cent. in 1927 and less still in 1929. But the attempt to prevent free speech got greater. I have had considerable experience in addressing meetings throughout the country and my experience has been that since 1923 there has been a determined attempt to prevent free speech. The National Guard were organised for no other purpose than to try to combat that. The police cannot do it, as Deputies know very well. The police rush in through the crowd to arrest a man and that is enough to disturb the whole meeting. The only way to get free speech in this country is to get a number of young men into an unarmed organisation who will not be intimidated by any bully, whether he has a gun or not. That is the whole object of the National Guard. And that is the organisation that is being banned. Go on and ban it. You will not kill it. It will go ahead. You will be found out. We will obey the law. We have always obeyed the law.
Mr. Hogan: The movement behind the National Guard will go on. The movement to see that there is free speech in this country will go on in spite of anybody and none of these third-rate quibbles will confuse that point. I do not think any of us is very much concerned about putting this Public Safety Act into operation. We  have nothing to fear, we have no secrets. That Act is necessary—keep it there and use it against the people against whom it should be used. But it is a gross abuse of power at the present moment. I think I am expressing the point of view of every decent man when I say that that Act was put into operation not against a military organisation but in order to kill the political opponents of the present President. If there was anyone in this country who was aiming at a dictatorship, at one-Party Government, it was the President. But that hope has now died in his heart—he can give it up. This country will go on in spite of him.
Mr. MacDermot: In introducing this motion I said that it was up to the Government to prove that there was a prevalence of serious crime in the country and also to prove that it could not be dealt with by the ordinary law and that if they failed in either of those things there was not the slightest doubt but that the use of the Public Safety Act had been unjust and oppressive. I put it to every fair-minded Deputy in this House, have the Government established either one or the other, that there was a prevalence of serious crime or that the ordinary methods for dealing with crime had been tried and found insufficient? We are now where we were when we started. No serious case has been made for the Government's action. Not one of their speakers has even pretended to establish that they have administered this Act with impartiality. The President has put forward the remarkable view that infinite patience and brotherly love were appropriate to an organisation, which he admits to be of an undesirable kind, because it had been a long time in existence, but that no such patience and brotherly love were to be tried on an organisation that happened to be of more recent date; that no infinite patience or brotherly love was to be shown towards the unfortunate farmers who, if they were guilty of the things the President has suggested they are guilty of, might surely in the circumstances of the case have been treated with very considerable  restraint and a very considerable degree of mercy.
I listened carefully to the President's speech and I tried to see what points of substance there really were in it. As far as I can make out, the most that anyone can think he made any show of establishing was that it would have been undesirable to allow that parade to take place in Dublin to which he referred. Supposing that is true. Does that justify him in keeping the Public Safety Act in operation now? Does it justify him in using it in the case of the farmers? Another point he made was that what was so very undesirable about the establishment of the National Guard was that it gave further life and encouragement to the I.R.A. Is that true? I absodutely deny it. I say, on the contrary, and I am speaking from knowledge, that there were parts of the country where young men were being practically forced to go into the I.R.A., that these young men are no longer feeling under that obligation to go into the I.R.A. and that that has been entirely due to the National Guard. I say that definitely and with knowledge. I will say more than that. The President says, and I am prepared to accept his sincerity in saying it, that he regarded the I.R.A. movement as unfortunate and undesirable; that he regarded the members of it as being misled, and that he desired time and brotherly love to cure them of their false theories. That was his attitude. Of how many members of his Party was that the attitude? How many of his Party have welcomed the existence of the I.R.A. and welcomed the existence of those false theories? How many of them are anxious that that organisation should continue and, though they desire them to keep quiet while this Government are in, desire very much that they should not keep quiet if any other Government came in? That was stated plainly in the Seanad by one of the Fianna Fáil leaders there, Senator Comyn, who, in the debate there, said that he hoped the I.R.A. would continue to exist until the day that a Republic was proclaimed in this country.
I also listened attentively to the  speech of the Minister for Justice, and I found even less to comment on or to answer in his speech than in the speech of the President. He did say one thing, however, that I want to refer to. He said that I found his speech in the Seanad unsatisfactory and unconvincing and that that obviously was not the case with the people who heard it because the speech had been so convincing that the Senator who introduced the motion there had withdrawn his motion. I have taken the trouble since the Minister for Justice spoke of consulting that Senator as to whether that statement represented the facts and he has assured me that it does not represent the facts; that he did not find the speech of the Minister for Justice convincing and that he only withdrew the motion because his purpose in introducing it had been to get the matter ventilated and that he considered that when it came to an actual vote of censure on the Government, which was what it amounted to, the proper place for such a vote to be taken was the Dáil not the Seanad, and that is the only reason the motion was withdrawn.
The Minister for Justice referred in passing to one incident in Dunboyne,  with which I happened to be acquainted, in which he suggested that a leader of the A.C.A. had committed an outrage. It so happens that I know the priest whose servant that boy was and know that he was an uneducated young boy who was acting under a violent sense of personal grievance. The incident has absolutely no significance as having any bearing on the general policy or outlook of the National Guard.
Mr. MacDermot: Never mind about unanimously. If they came to it without the slightest hesitation, I say more shame to them. I cannot imagine how, if they had any sincerity in them, they could have come to that decision without the slightest hesitation in view of the outrage to all their principles that they have so frequently declared the Public Safety Act to be. I appeal confidently to every fair-minded Deputy in the House to support the motion.
|Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Broderick, William Joseph.
Burke, James Michael.
Cosgrave, William T.
Costello, John Aloysius.
Davitt, Robert Emmet.
Dillon, James M.
Dolan, James Nicholas.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
Finlay, John. O'Leary, Daniel.
O'Reilly, John Joseph.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Redmond, Bridget Mary.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Kent, William Rice.
McFadden, Michael Og.
McGuire, James Ivan.
Minch, Sydney B.
Murphy, James Edward.
O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
O'Higgins, Thomas Francis. Reidy, James.
Rogers, Patrick James.
Thrift, William Edward.
Browne, William Frazer.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
De Valera, Eamon.
Dowdall, Thomas P.
Flinn, Hugo. V.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Keely, Séamus P.
Kelly, James Patrick.
Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Lynch, James B.
Maguire, Conor Alexander.
Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
Pattison, James P.
Pearse, Margaret Mary.
Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
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