Wednesday, 28 February 1934
Dáil Éireann Debate
While the Bill is very simple in its terms, and, I think, intelligible to every Deputy in the House, I shall just run briefly through the sections at the outset. Section 1 defines “uniform.” It might be stated or contended that these definitions are unnecessarily wide. These definitions have been made wide deliberately, but the definitions must be taken in conjunction with Section 2 and Section 5, which limit their operations to any uniform or badge which is indicative of membership of, affiliation to or support of a political party, or is definitely forbidden by the police. Sub-section (1) of Section 2 is a simple sub-section, but it is the keystone of the whole Bill. I do not think that Deputies can take any exception to Section 3. It is a prohibition of the use of military terms by political parties. Section 4 gives power to the Executive Council to make certain Orders. It might be contended that unduly wide powers are given to the Executive Council under that section, but a somewhat similar position had to be met or was met when the Seventeenth Amendment Bill was put through this House. Unless some such section as this is embodied in the Bill, it is quite possible that its intentions and operation might be completely nullified. It is not intended that all uniforms or all badges, with which it is the main purpose of this Bill to deal, will be prohibited, or that the bodies wearing them will be banned. There are in this country some bodies which the Executive Council would and must regard as innocuous. They must regard as innocuous bodies such as boy scouts and so on. I do not think that I could foresee that any Executive Council would act so contrary to all principles of justice as to interfere with such bodies. It has, however, to be  kept in mind that at various times bodies which at a certain stage might be innocuous, might become quite dangerous, and would therefore have to be dealt with.
Section 5 gives power to the Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána or the Chief Superintendents in a functional area to ban a particular body. There the section is not limited to political bodies. It has been definitely framed to prevent any quibble that may be attempted by people who try to nullify the effect of that section. It is quite true, and I am sure the Opposition could give us many examples to prove it, that you could bring this thing to ludicrous lengths. It might be contended that the wearing of the shamrock on Patrick's Day could be banned under that section. That is quite true, but so also, under the Seventeenth Amendment Act, could every member of the Executive Council be hauled by the police down to College Street police station and detained there for a certain time. The fact is that the police do not do these things.
Mr. Ruttledge: Since the Deputy concerned would not be so very anxious for the police to abuse their powers and, as apparently he seems to think that they have not abused their powers, I am sure that he will have no objection to this particular section. Our object is to give the police ample powers and I think it is a very good thing to give the police ample powers. If the police abuse these powers, the Executive Council can deal with them. I think that principle has been recognised by our predecessors, to judge by some documents. The principle is to give full powers to the police authorities and if they abuse them, you have somebody in authority who is in a position to deal with them. I do not think that anybody could object to Section 6. It prohibits the carrying of weapons at public meetings and so on.
Section 7 may be construed as interfering with the liberty of the Press. We contend that it is not. The Press is protected under the Law of Libel  (Amendment) Act, Sections 3 and 4. It is protected and it is privileged to publish all bona fide reports but if there is a difficult or tense situation in the country, much harm could be done, and much harm undoubtedly from time to time has been done, by sensational propaganda. It is to deal with that, that this particular section is framed. Section 8 requires no explanation or justification. It gives a power that is very necessary, a power that the police force should have so that they can exercise it in certain circumstances. The powers given under Section 9 are some of the powers which the police have already under the Firearms Act— Section 24 of the Firearms Act of 1925. Section 10 deals with the powers of arrest and detention. The only exception I see that could be taken to it is that the police will be able to arrest without warrant. That is a power, we contend, that it is necessary that the police should have. Certain circumstances may arise, something may happen in the streets, where it would be very difficult for the police to obtain these arrest warrants in sufficient time to deal with them. Exception may also be taken to the fact that the people who are charged will not be brought in the first instance before a peace commissioner. We must recognise the fact, whether we like it or not, that peace commissioners must be regarded as the key men or politicians of one side or another. I know that in the parts of the country with which I am familiar it was a regular thing, as some recognition of the services they had rendered to a political party, that such men were promoted to the dignity of peace commissioners. I think it is much better in the interests of the person concerned and in the interests of justice that they should be brought before a district justice.
Section 11 is a simple section and it gives power to the Gárda to seize uniforms and badges illegally worn. It gives the police a discretion as to whether or not it is proper, in the circumstances, to seize uniforms and badges. Section 12 deals with the punishments and trials. Exception may also be taken there that power is  given to the district justice to deal with the case and that he is really the final court of appeal in the matter. I would like to point out that those offences will be very simple offences and we have in this country competent district justices who are able to deal with those offences. If we are going to allow appeals in all those cases, writs of certiorari and so on, the whole effect of this Bill can be nullified; you can have legal arguments going on and parties who have ample funds may go from one court to another and, although that may have no result in the end, it will serve to delay and impede.
Mr. Ruttledge: The Deputy will get plenty of time to make the long speech he seems to be bursting to make. Those are the sections of the Bill, and, as I have said, it is a very simple Bill. The purpose of the Bill is clearly to prevent the wearing of uniforms. The justification that I propose to put before the House for the passage of this measure is that the wearing of uniforms in this country, as in other European countries, has resulted in the creation of disorders, and the creation of those disorders has imposed on the authorities a strain that the authorities cannot adequately deal with. It has created bitterness, and it tends to bring about a perpetuation of bitterness. When this Bill was being introduced last week one would assume from the reception it got that we were doing something here that was Draconian, and that there was no example for it in any other country. Similar situations have arisen in most European countries. No doubt, Deputies are aware that those ideas about uniforms and blueshirts are not original in this country. The uniform, and indeed the  objects of the organisation which dons the uniform, seem to have been copied, without practically a comma being changed, from similar organisations in Continental countries. Those Continental countries have had to deal with that situation. They have had to deal with what has been described as militarisation in politics.
You have had that in Switzerland and in the Netherlands. Some historians have claimed that these are the historic homes of liberty-loving peoples; that they are par excellence the democratic countries. They have had to deal with a somewhat similar situation to that with which we are trying to deal. There was militarisation of politics there and disorder arose at meetings and assemblies, and the Parliaments of those countries have had to pass laws in order to deal with the situations arising. They have had a similar state of affairs in the countries of the Scandinavian group, in Sweden, Latvia and the Baltic States. I will read for the Dáil some of the Acts—they are very short—that were passed in those countries. In the Kingdom of the Netherlands there is a law of the 15th September last amplifying the Penal Code in the matter of articles of clothing and distinguishing marks denoting a definite political aim. Article 1 sets out that after Article 435 of the Penal Code there shall be added a new Article 435 (a), reading as follows:—
“Anyone who wears in public any articles of clothing or conspicuous distinguishing marks denoting a definite political aim shall be punished with detention not exceeding twelve days or a fine not exceeding one hundred and fifty guilders.”
“(1) It is prohibited to use in public uniform, parts of uniform, armlets or other equally conspicuous badges which designate the wearer as a supporter of a political organisation or trend of opinion. (2) The King or one whom he authorises may issue a prohibition against the use of uniform, parts of uniform, armlets or other equally conspicuous badges which designate the wearer as a member or supporter of a private organisation, guard, association or confederation. (3) The Minister concerned is to decide in doubtful cases what shall be reckoned as uniform, parts of uniform and badges, etc. (4) Anyone who infringes this law or any prohibition issued under it, or who is instrumental in this being done is to be punished by fines or up to three months' imprisonment.”
“The King may where it is found necessary for the maintenance of public order and public safety prohibit the wearing of uniform or similar dress which serves to indicate the wearer's political views. Such prohibition shall apply equally to part uniform, armlets, or other similar distinguishing marks conspicuous to the eye. Breaches of such prohibition shall be punished by fines. Should any person continue to infringe the prohibition during the time in which he is charged with such offence he shall for each time a summons is issued and served be brought to judgment on the charge. The article unlawfully worn shall be forfeited. Infringement of the prohibition shall be subject to ordinary indictment before a police court wherever such is separately established,  but otherwise before a police office or before an ordinary court. Fines inflicted in accordance with this law shall accrue to the Crown. In the absence of access to the value of the fines they shall be altered in accordance with the common penal law. This law shall come into operation immediately and shall remain in force up to and including 30th June, 1935. Offences committed during the period of the validity of the law shall be equally subject to the provisions of the law after the expiry of the period in question.”
That is the Swedish law. By Article 27 of the Roumanian Law of the 11th September, 1933, “concerning the repression of new disturbances of the public order and matters relating thereto” the right to wear uniforms is restricted to the members of public authorities or members of institutions which, in accordance with the laws and regulations in force, possess the right to wear uniform, or to persons who obtain a special authorisation to wear uniform. A more recent Bill has been introduced in the Belgian Parliament to deal with the people there—not the blue shirts but the green shirts.
Mr. Ruttledge: The Bill was introduced into the Belgian Parliament by the Minister for Justice in Belgium, and has been, according to the procedure in Parliament there, referred to a Committee of the House. I propose to read some extracts from the speech of the Minister for Justice introducing that Bill in the Belgian Parliament.
The Belgian Minister began by explaining that the Bill was rendered necessary by the formation and development in Belgium of political groups which, in order to secure the success of their programme, were not content with speech-making and pamphleteering, with public meetings and processions, but had recourse to the wearing of uniforms. “These displays of uniforms,” the Minister continued, “amount to a demonstration  of force; there is implicit therein the threat of a resort to force at such a time as force is likely to prevail. The other parties soon begin to adopt the same tactics. Thus the rights of free association and peaceable expression of opinion were infringed, and the public security was continually in danger by the permanent threat of violent conflicts between the wearers of rival uniforms. Such a state of affairs was intolerable. No doubt, some of these groups cultivate the appearance of defensive or protective organisations, or claim that their object is simply to render assistance to the public authorities; but in such cases, too, the display of uniforms compromises the public security and order, because those who do not believe in the sincerity of the claim made by the uniformed organisations, or in their singleness of purpose in pursuit of their avowed object, reply to them with similar demonstrations. The preservation of order is the duty of the public authorities; it is for the citizens to respect it; it is not for them to start getting themselves up in uniform on the pretence of assuring it.”
The Minister then went on to talk of the danger which the wearing of uniforms constitutes. He said, “Apart from the fact that the wearing of uniforms by individuals is interpreted by their opponents as a provocation to adopt themselves a uniform also, it is the wearing of uniforms which enables political groups to rally their members without difficulty, to measure their own strength and the strength of their opponents in any given place, and thus to form a due appreciation of the chance of the success of violence; the temptation to have recourse to violence is particularly great when one feels oneself the stronger party, and when there is a prospect of securing a triumph for the uniform that one is wearing. The uniform reinforces the sense of solidarity of the members of a group; it puts them under a sort of moral obligation to take part in violence from which they would, perhaps, have abstained if, wearing no  uniform, they had been able to remain inactive without attracting attention.” Those words could, I think, be stated as aptly here as they were stated there; there are the same grounds, the same reasons and the same basis.
Some time ago, there was started in England, where we are told there is such a wonderful respect for law and order, a movement called the Blackshirts. If I had the two newspaper issues here—one of the Blueshirts and the other of the Blackshirts— (there was at one time, and I think still is, a newspaper issued by the Blackshirts in England), with the headings obscured, there would be no apparent difference between the two papers. The Blackshirts in England have not, so far as we can be informed, assumed any great strength. They have, according to the newspaper reports, made some attempt also to assume some of the duties that might be performed by the police. Questions have been raised recently in the British House of Commons with regard to this particular matter. The British Home Secretary, in answer to a parliamentary question of Sir John Gilmore as to whether the Government would introduce legislation prohibiting the wearing of uniforms by political parties, said: “Representations on this subject have reached me from many quarters. The aspect of the problem that has been causing me concern is the provocative effect of wearing such uniforms in the streets and public places, and the increasing number of street disorders as a consequence. The growing danger of public disturbances which the police attribute to the wearing of what may conveniently be called political uniforms is shown by the fact that the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis reports that in the first six months of 1933 there were in the metropolitan police district eleven disturbances of a political character attributed to this cause, while in the last six months of the year there were no fewer than twenty-two such disturbances. The whole question is engaging my serious consideration.” Now that is the position there, and it has not assumed much strength, nor  does it seem to be widely spread through England.
Some point was made by Deputy Dillon here the last day that we were trying to sail under false colours as to the object of this Bill. The object of it is, frankly, to deal with the Blueshirt position in this country. We want to be quite frank about it. That is our problem at the moment. It was never intended in any way to try to obscure that in the Bill, but the Bill goes further than that. Our problem at the moment is to deal with the disorder and to deal with the position that we allege arises from the fact that Blueshirts are here in the country, but this Bill is framed in such a way that if a similar organisation is started in this country in the future this Bill will be sufficient to deal with it. There is not, as may be pointed out, a specific mention of blue shirts in the Bill. It is not necessary to do that. The Bill is framed, as I said, in such a way that it could deal with any organisation which set out to usurp police duties and go about in a uniform. Let us go back to the beginning of this Blueshirt problem, or rather to the time before they put on those uniforms. We found here a body of ex-officers banded together for what one would consider philanthropic or social objectives; apparently perfectly harmless, and out, perhaps, to do good social work so far as their own members were concerned. With that nobody could disagree, nor could one disagree if those people go out to assert their rights as ordinary citizens and try to get representation in the national Parliament, in public bodies, or anything else. There is no dispute with them on that point. It continued as a social or philanthropic body for a considerable time. There might be some question of suspicion in a Government's mind with regard to the particular time of its formation.
Its formation came about at a rather peculiar time. It was, I assert—and I assert it without seeking to cause any bitterness in any way—a time when the tide was rising that swept the people opposite out of office. It  might be regarded by the Government that came in about that time with a certain suspicion, because it is composed of ex-Army officers. So long as these people had acted within their rights, no question could arise for the Government to deal with. It is true that from that time on, until it was taken charge of by General O'Duffy, it was being carefully watched by the Government, through its police authorities, that General O'Duffy kept that organisation closely under observation and that he regularly reported to the Minister responsible at the time. We know what General O'Duffy's views about it were at that time. I quoted here before a report. General O'Duffy, when he was the responsible head of the police, took a very definite and a very strong line with what we regarded in this country as private armies. Away back in 1928, when the British Legion were arranging for their November march, a certain report was made by Colonel Neligan to General O'Duffy. General O'Duffy took it up with the Minister responsible and, through him, with the Executive Council. I have quoted that report in the other House and I propose to quote it here. I will quote what General O'Duffy wrote at that time.
“I agree with Colonel Neligan. The attached Military Order is similar to what would issue from a recognised Army headquarters, and such military activities as detailed should, in my opinion, be confined to the  Forces of the State. This is intended much more as a military display than a bona fide commemoration service for the dead, to which latter there can be no objection, though there appears no necessity to perpetuate this form of ceremony in the Saorstát. If we allow this military display in Dublin we cannot very well object to similar displays elsewhere on the occasion. I am aware that in certain quarters these activities are looked upon as provocative, particularly in view of the fact that similar activities are prohibited, and punished by imprisonment if indulged in by other organisations.
Were I in a position to do so I would very definitely prohibit all military activities, other than by the recognised forces of the State. No section would then have a grievance, and the work of the police would be made easier. There can be no doubt that companies of Baden Powell Boy Scouts marching through the streets in uniform lead to increased activity on the part of Fianna Eireann, and similarly these 11th November displays lead to drilling and other activities of a military nature on the part of the Irregulars. I suggest that the Secretary of the British Legion here be very definitely informed that the parade is to take the form of a procession, and that no recognised military words of command be allowed.
That, at any rate, shows what view General O'Duffy held at that time when he was the responsible head of the police. He talks there about one parade encouraging other people who are acting illegally in strengthening and building up their organisation. He sends along a cutting showing a dozen or less British Fascisti marching in black shirts here in Dublin, and he puts it on record definitely that in his opinion that should not be allowed. That was his view then, and he bases all that on the disorders that may arise and the strain that may be put on the  police force. Does General O'Duffy think to-day that what he considered at that time should not be permitted by the Government must be permitted to-day, when he is out of the position of responsible head of the police?
I could quote various things here to show that the wearing of these blue shirts and the parading of these Blueshirts are putting a strain on the police which it is unfair to put on any police force. Those people are trying to usurp duties that were hitherto performed by the police—duties that any Government that wants to rule or govern must always keep as the duties of the police and allow no band or section in the country to take to themselves this discretion of the exercise of police duties. It is not admitted in any country. I wonder would Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, for example, when he was Minister for Justice, approve of some Deputy down the country getting up on a platform and saying: “If the Guards were not here to-day we would deal with those people”? Would any responsible Ministers take up that attitude? What is that but mob law? What else can it lead to? Yet that is the type of speech we have been listening to for the last few months. In other words, let them at them. A paraphrasing of the various reports I have received from time to time would be something on these lines:—
“There is no doubt that the presence of blue shirts and berets at meetings is a source of irritation to the majority of the people, and is mainly the cause of reviving bitterness and provoking disorder generally.”
“The organised exhibition of blue shirts and berets will doubtlessly continue  to compromise the public peace and security and further embitter the already strained relations between the association and other groups.”
“The general attitude and tactics of the Blueshirts were dictatorial and provocative. Numbers of them were armed with truncheons, and under the guise and pretence of helping the Gárdaí, they sought to commit acts of assault and battery on a section of the crowd that the Gárda had under proper control. Numbers of Blueshirts from time to time got out of the control of their leaders, and the Gárda were obliged to form strong cordons to stem their violent rushes. These rushes had as their slogan: ‘We are helping the Gárda,’ when the opposite purpose was being served. They seemed to be imbued and infused with an obsession that they alone had the duty to preserve order, and an order of a type that would prohibit and exclude the presence of any citizen except a Blueshirt or sympathiser in the town. Even when the meeting had terminated and some time had elapsed, parties of Blueshirts from outside the county were looking for trouble in the town, numbers of men no longer young—forty years and upwards—and weaklings pointing out to their more hefty comrades, people to be assaulted. These tactics were observable throughout the day, the big bully Blueshirts being used to serve the purpose of spite of the weaker element.”
Mr. MacDermot: I would like to point out that if we on these benches knew the name of the place, I am almost certain that it would be found that one of us here was present, and that we could oblige the Minister with information to confirm or destroy the force of that information.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: It is not a question on my part of interrupting. I did not interrupt the Minister, but I do feel that the information should be more fully given when a thing of this type is being introduced, and I asked when and where, and he has refused to reply.
Mr. Ruttledge: Deputies appear to be very suspicious about these reports or doubtful as to whether these things have happened or not. Can anybody point to a meeting where Blueshirts had appeared where these interruptions have not occurred? Can anybody suggest that everything possible to be done by the police was not done in the circumstances?
Mr. Ruttledge: I have not the facts about Kilmallock at the moment. But every time that that has happened you had police officers and other forces preserving order. All these meetings have caused a considerable increase in the police Vote this year. That increase is as a result of these things. I can only give the approximate estimate now and that increase will certainly be over £10,000 for supplying extra Gárda to these meetings. It will be sought to be suggested that the people who interfere with these meetings are hooligans and so on.
Mr. Ruttledge: To deal with a small number of people like that—if the people opposite want to use the word “hooligan” they can use it—would mean a very limited thing in this country. But I see more in it than a mere few who want to create disorder for the purpose of disorder. I see something like what has been created and what has arisen in other countries that have had to deal with it. The blue shirt itself is being used by the person who wears it, not being an expressed but certainly as an implied invitation to trample on his tail. That is being brought out definitely as a challenge to the people who oppose the Blueshirts. When we realise that in this country there have been division and bitterness going back for ten years, we can understand that it is very easy to stir up that bitterness and it is very much easier to continue to perpetuate it. If it were only a limited few that the police had got to deal with, it would have been dealt with and dealt with  effectively but there is more than that. These disorders are spontaneous. Reports from police officers have come to me which show how the position is being created. That had been referred to by General O'Duffy when he had the responsibility of the position. Activities on that side are bound to strengthen activities on the other side. It was for that reason that he would take a strong line. He took that line in 1928 and if he were in the position to-day that he occupied then he would have given the same advice. There is no question about that. It is not necessary to refer to the many scenes of disorder that have arisen through the holding of these meetings at which the Blueshirts have paraded. What is the necessity of parading in blue shirts?
Mr. Ruttledge: For ten years the people on the opposite benches were the Government of this country, and during that time they never turned their mind towards starting in this country a blueshirt movement. I can guarantee that if anybody in those times tried to start a blueshirt movement or a greenshirt movement that they would have been dealt with and not allowed to get away with it. The Government then would have seen in other countries a warrant for thus dealing with them; a warrant that anybody can see to-day. They would have recognised those people who say they are out to protect themselves and go out as the physical defenders of their leaders or of their politicians. The Deputies opposite know perfectly well that if they were the Government they would not tolerate anybody except the known forces of the State to preserve peace or order in the State. The day on which a Government admits that it cannot preserve order, and the day the Government admits that it is going to allow uniformed forces not under its control to preserve order, then when that happens it is time for them as a Government to get out.
Mr. Ruttledge: When we are dealing with people going out in uniform, and  who try to create that position here, we have to remember these things. People must not do this because they may get hazy or indeterminate ideas in a Mediterranean cruise about things that may be working differently in other countries. These things may be very useful. They may work all right in other countries, but you cannot apply them in this country in the same way. You cannot come along now and, quite innocently, suggest: “We are out to preserve the peace, and so on.” Somebody will look at your programme. Somebody will look at the objects of your programme. That programme and the objects in it are very different to anything we have heard in this country before.
We have heard about the corporative system and so on. Side by side with taking on the programme adopted in other countries, and that had to be dealt with in those countries, you take on a uniform—perhaps not the same colour—and follow on the same lines. You may tell us quite innocently, although other countries may have gone on certain lines, that having the same programme, and having a uniform, you have not the slightest intention of following them or doing what they have done. That may be suggested. But is there anybody so absolutely foolish as to believe it? Did these people who have adopted that ever think for a moment that they were going to get to a stage in this country where they could have built up a formidable army and that then they could dictate their will to the people they had to deal with and the people they had to get out of the way? In Italy, I think, it was stated that Fascism was not for export. It is not our business to criticise or praise or comment upon what has happened in other countries. We have to deal with our own position. Fascism arose to deal with a certain situation bordering on very serious disorder at that particular time.
Mr. Ruttledge: Before the Blueshirt organisation was started in this country on very definite military lines comparative peace existed in the country. A  very different summary will be shown in the police reports from the time the Blueshirt organisation was started from what existed for the six months before that. Is it unfair or unreasonable to suggest that it may be in some people's minds: “We will create in this country such a system of disorder as will make the ground suitable for us to have our march too?” In all that there was nothing original. All that was taken from those other countries, and not a single original idea was put into it. It was taken wholesale. We had even General O'Duffy, not very long ago, encouraging his people to have a march on Dublin. We know there was a march on Rome. It is a wonder that something original could not have been put into the system or the programme. As I have stated, the indictable and summary offences committed since the Blueshirt organisation definitely took shape will compare very unfavourably when published with the list of offences in a corresponding period previous to that. Can it be said then that they have preserved order in the country? Is it contended that Deputies are doing their duty when you have speeches made like the one I referred to by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney in Mayo, when he talked about the great job the Blueshirts made of some people who interrupted because the Guards were not there—lauding their efforts and showing how delightful it was that the Guards were not there that day? We had a speech last Sunday about hat pins from General O'Duffy himself. We have references in speeches every other day such as “Let the Blueshirts get at them.”
The Blueshirts are being supplied with batons. I have some of those batons over in my office and they are not very creditable to anybody who would use them. They certainly are lethal weapons. What was the purpose of handing those batons out? Was it not to use them? Was it not to get up in this country faction fights and an intention that might lead very quickly to civil war? We see that these disputes have even extended to the children in the schools down the country. Is that a position that anybody on the opposite side is proud of or wants to  encourage? Are we going to perpetuate and keep on this bitterness between people for ever by bringing it down to the children in the schools? You may complain of this Bill being unreasonable, but remember you copied your methods and your uniforms from other countries, and if we adopt the same methods, in order to preserve peace, that these other countries had to adopt to deal with the position, can you complain? Why should you complain if we have to deal with a situation such as those countries whom you copied from had to deal with? We will probably be told that this is a very severe Bill. Is it as severe as the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Bill? It is not. It is the duty of a Government to preserve and protect freedom of speech.
Mr. Ruttledge: That has been done so far as the resources of the State could be applied to secure it. When this Bill is through, if more forces are required, I am prepared to come to the House to get more forces and more money to secure that right.
Mr. Ruttledge: You know very well, no matter how you may put a veneer on it, that what you want is disorderly conditions in the country. You set yourselves out in every way to create those disorderly conditions in order to get along on certain lines when you failed to get along on other lines. You were put out of office on a wave of indignation in this country and immediately you start those other methods to try to get along on semi-military lines, to be able to put this private army under General O'Duffy with the same resources, as he said, at his command as he always had.
Mr. Ruttledge: It is something new in this House that a speaker has continually to keep looking at the Chair.  Deputy Dillon is an offender of that kind but, apparently, it is all right for Deputy Dillon and not at all right for anyone else.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy's point of order is that the Minister has been using the second person pronoun. The Minister obviously uses the word “you” in a general sense, not addressing any individual Deputy.
Mr. Ruttledge: I do not want to go further into that aspect of the question. Everybody here—and clearly no one more than the occupants of the benches opposite—realises that the tide that carried them out of office was the tide of indignation of an organised and disciplined people.
Mr. Ruttledge: A year later the same disciplined people, with the same indignation, again kept them out of office. What we want here is a disciplined people and a disciplined nation. What this country wants more than anything else in its economic struggle, and in its national struggle, is peace and, as far as it is humanly possible, to eliminate the bitterness and antagonism that are eating into the core of the nation, we are trying to secure that. When this Bill becomes operative, and when, as we hope, Deputies opposite loyally obey it, that will remove the source of incitement to trouble and the cause of disorder, and will allow the forces of the State to maintain order in their own way and in their own best judgment. It is their right and their duty. That right and duty is accepted by every Government in the world; that the forces under State control are the only forces that can be permitted, or be given the right to take on themselves the preservation and the maintenance of peace. That is what we want to secure under this Bill. I say it can be realised. Any people who want to be honest with themselves, and who do not want to see this country drifting towards civil war will give this Bill  the backing and the support that it merits.
Mr. Costello: While listening to the speech of the Minister in supposed justification of this measure, I wondered whether he was speaking of the motion we had five or six months ago, with reference to the policy of the Government in putting into force the hated, as they pretended, Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act, so called the Public Safety Act, or whether he was dealing with the measure which comes for consideration to-day. The speech he made to-day, and the reasons he gave to bolster up the introduction of this Bill, to justify its drastic powers, were almost precisely word for word, the reasons given last year for the putting into operation by the present Government of the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act, 1931. The whole justification—if justification there was—in any part of the Minister's speech, was the same justification he put forward last year for the putting into operation of the provisions of the Public Safety Act. The Government has had that instrument in their hands for many months. They have handled with loving care an instrument which they profess to hate. But they have not enough powers under that Act! They must introduce the present Bill to supplement these powers! They had not enough powers under the Act which, they say, gave omnipotent powers to the Military Tribunal, powers which they said a few weeks ago were such that the Courts of Justice set up under the Constitution in this country ought not dare to interfere with the exercise of these powers by the Executive Council, for fear of leading to a conflict between the Executive Council and the courts.
There are so many reasons why Deputies should vote against this Bill, why every possible effort should be made to prevent it ever becoming law, that it is difficult to choose between them. I propose to take two main reasons. In the first place, this is a Bill, as the Minister for Justice has frankly admitted—perhaps not in  so many words—brought in by a political Party which, for the moment forms the Government, against a political Party which, for the moment forms the chief Opposition in this State and in this House. It is brought in against this political Party by another political Party, to be operated, if it ever becomes law, by a political police force. That is my first objection to this Bill. My second objection is, if possible, perhaps a more fundamental objection, because it is a Bill which is an invasion of individual rights and of the constitutional freedom which was guaranteed to the citizens of this State by the Constitution which was brought into force on 6th December, 1922. Deputies should pause before they give any support to the precedent that is set up by this Bill. As I submit to the House and will show, it is an effort to prevent a lawful political movement, merely because that lawful political movement, as I mentioned on a previous occasion, menaces the political longevity of the Fianna Fáil Party.
Apparently the Minister for Justice ranged the Continent, and probably got the Consular and Ministerial services of the various countries represented here to dig up for him some information or the provisions of some Act in some country in Europe. As far as I was able to gather from the extracts read from the measures indicated by the Minister of powers as having been taken in certain countries in Europe, there was no mention in any one of these of the words “political party.” In this Bill, for the first time in an English-speaking country, there occur the words “political party.” In of no precedent in any country where any measure has been brought before any parliamentary assembly which is aimed, as this Bill is aimed, at a political Party. That is a very fundamental objection to this Bill. That is the precedent which Deputies in all Parties should set their faces against, because this Bill, not merely invades individual liberty and constitutional rights, but undermines— if it is passed into law and ever  becomes effective—the very basis of Parliamentary institutions in this State. It aims at getting rid of political parties operating, as they have operated in this country for many years. It is aimed at the lawful activities of political parties. The Minister for Justice made a speech which was an echo, as I have said, of the speech he made in reference to the Public Safety Act: as if there was disorder prevalent in this country.
This Bill aims not at putting down disorder. There is not a single word, from start to finish, in it about disorder, about illegal associations or unlawful associations. The Bill assumes, if it ever becomes the law, that it is to operate against a lawful political party, lawfully operating under the Constitution of this State, and that it is not to operate against those classes or associations that were supposed to come within the operation and scope of the Public Safety Act. That is the menace which this Bill contains. It is only one step from preventing a political party pursuing its ideas and aims by particular methods which are anti-phatic to the political party at the moment in power; to preventing a political party from functioning in a lawful way in this State merely because it is thought to be a menace to the political longevity of the political party in power. That is the real danger that lies in this Bill. Even if the Ministry were honest—I say and believe that they are not honest and their actions over the last 12 months have proved how dishonest they are—this is not a Bill that ought to be passed by this House. No matter what they may think, the present Government will not be there for all time so that another Government with this precedent in front of them—with the same ridiculous reasons that the Minister for Justice gave to-day to bolster up this measure—may use similar provisions for the purpose of stifling lawful political activity, the lawful expression of political activity in this country which was politically uneducated in 1922, which is still, in some measure, politically uneducated and  can only be politically educated along proper lines by the normal development of political parties and the clash of political ideas. This Bill is going to put an end to that. It is going to set a precedent for anybody who wishes to stifle for all time such portions of the right of freedom of speech and the right of free association as will be left to the citizen of this State when the present Government have been put out of power.
This Bill is only the culmination of the illegal activities of the present Government over the last six months, illegal activities which were brought to an end by the operation of the constitutional courts in this country. They are endeavouring to do by this Bill what they endeavoured to do six months ago illegally on their own until they were stopped by the courts, which are a guarantee, the only existing guarantee, against the unconstitutional and tyrannical action of the present Ministry. They were stopped by the courts from their illegal activities. I warned the present Government —I think it was on the motion dealing with the operation of the Public Safety Act—that the wearing of blue shirts was perfectly legal. I undertook to prove to the Ministry that it was legal, and I did prove it in the public courts of this land. The actions of the Government have brought the law, as administered by the present Government, into disrepute. For months and months the police authorities, acting on the instructions of the Executive Council, were preventing citizens of this State from exercising their legal rights. By the directions of the Government people were prevented from wearing blue shirts and going to meetings or addressing meetings in blue shirts. Police officers in fear of their jobs—because they knew that the present Government would summarily dismiss them if they did not do all what they were told, however much they themselves might think that it was illegal—committed assaults on private citizens of this State exercising their lawful constitutional rights. That went on for months and months. We threw down a challenge to the Government on that. Then they made  their fatal mistake. They were blinded by political hatred of the man whom they had summarily dismissed without reason—a man whom they had dismissed for the purpose of putting into his place a political police officer—a man who had been taken to themselves by the people of this country. Blinded by their hatred against him they directed the arrest——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not accuse members of the forces of this State of being political police or political soldiers. Charges of that kind should not be made against servants of the State.
Mr. Costello: ——in removing the Commissioner of Police who had been appointed by the previous Executive Council on a permanent basis, in order that there should be no suggestion that police activities in this country should be directed by political motives. They changed that system, and the only point that I wished to make was that they changed that system and put into his place a person who, presumably, would act upon the political views of the particular Government that happened to be in power. I was referring to the fact that this Government had brought the administration of the law, as administered by them, into disrepute.
Mr. Costello: If I did do so I have withdrawn them on the directions of the Ceann Comhairle. The illegal activities of the present Government were brought to an end by the action taken to the courts in General O'Duffy's habeas corpus proceedings. Two judges of the High Court determined that the Government had been acting illegally for months. We claimed during that period that we, and those associated with us in the Young Ireland movement, then known as the Young Ireland Association, were acting within our rights, were acting constitutionally and lawfully, and that we had no intention of countenancing, and did not countenance in any way, any overt acts by that portion of our organisation which were in any way unlawful. The Minister says he is afraid of disorder, and he has had the Military Tribunal at his disposal and has had the full benefit of the Public Safety Act at his disposal for upwards of six months. The Young Ireland Association has been, to use a popular but incorrect expression, banned for several months now, and the Military Tribunal has been almost out of a job. There have been no people from that Association brought up before the Military Tribunal in the last three or four months. We have sought the protection of the  law because we are lawful, because our aims are lawful, because our methods are lawful, and because we intend to use none but lawful methods to achieve our aims.
We wear a blue shirt, or those of us who happen to be members of the League of Youth, wear a blue shirt, and the girls wear blue blouses, not for the purpose of creating disorder, as the Minister for Justice would have us believe, but for the purpose of showing their comradeship and to indicate the decent people who are present at meetings and not the rowdies who are really the cause of disturbance at public meetings. The wearing of a uniform, so far from being provocative or unlawful, is adopted by our people so that we will be able to know that we have decent people, and so that, when there are disturbances in the crowd, the people who are creating the disturbance may be distinctly seen, and no one can say that it is the Blueshirts that are causing the disturbances at meetings.
The Minister gave extracts from various laws on the Continent, but he carefully refrained from drawing attention to the fact that the Blackshirts were victorious in Italy and that the Hitler Shirts were victorious in Germany, as, assuredly, in spite of this Bill and in spite of the Public Safety Act, the Blueshirts will be victorious in the Irish Free State. The Minister, however, in this Bill, has gone one better than the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He has gone one step further. They only banned uniforms. The Minister bans political emblems of all kinds, classes and descriptions. Every article, every token, every emblem of any kind that may be regarded as indicating support of a particular political party is unlawful. I want to repeat here what I said in another place recently—and it is relevant to the charge that I have made that the present Government, so far from upholding the law and bringing it into repute, is bringing it into disrepute—that it is a bad thing, as one writer on the relations between criminal law and morality has recently stated, that crimes should go unpunished;  but it is worse that that which the general sense of the community regards as no crime should be made by law into a crime. That is what is being done by this Bill. New crimes are being created which no single individual, beyond the Front Bench of the Fianna Fáil Party, believes are crimes. The general sense of the community is being revolted by this, and it will tend to bring the law into disrepute instead of respect.
If there were any justification at all for the banning of these so-called uniforms, it would be that they have created disorder, and it is on that basis that the Minister puts his case. He puts his case on the same basis, as, apparently, the Belgian Government puts its case, that in the wearing of a uniform there was implied a threat to use force and to use arms. He did not allege here to-day that the Blueshirt movement had implicit in it, or in any way connected with it, any intention whatsoever to bring about its aims, ideals and objects by the use of arms. He could not have done so, because it has been demonstrated to the people of this country for the last six months that the ideals of the League of Youth and the objects they hope to achieve will be achieved by lawful, constitutional methods, and that they are an unarmed constitutional body, seeking to attract to their organisation the young people of this country by the ideals and the objects which they put before them, and that they hope to achieve these objects by none other than constitutional means. With all the power behind the present Government, they have not been able to bring, even before the Military Tribunal, any evidence whatsoever that the League of Youth, or even the Young Ireland Association which they banned, was an armed organisation or was pursuing its aims, ideals and objects by other than lawful methods. They have combed this country for arms. Look at the statistics, and see how many people have been brought before the Military Tribunal. The Irish Republican Army is not a political party, and it does not come within the scope of the Bill. Therefore, it may wear its uniform if it  likes, and may wear its bandoliers and its leggings. Although, according to the constitution of the I.R.A., which can be bought for a penny or twopence at any stationery shop at the present moment, it is set forth in black and white that the means by which the Irish Republican Army shall endeavour to achieve its objects are (1), by force of arms they are not banned under the Public Safety Act and do not come within the scope of the Uniforms Bill now before the House. While the ideal of the Young Ireland Association, or the League of Youth, is the ideal of voluntary disciplined public service, the ideal of the Irish Republican Army is “to direct the thoughts of the people along constructive, revolutionary lines.”
The Minister for Justice asks can anyone point to a single instance where Blueshirts appeared that disorders did not occur. Can the Minister point to any single instance where he has brought Blueshirts before the courts or before the Military Tribunal for creating those disorders? Can he point to those shoals of Blueshirts who, according to himself, have been responsible for disorders, who have been brought before the ordinary courts or the Military Tribunal? We know why the Army Comrades' Association came into being. It was because the Leader of the Opposition Party in this House, Mr. Cosgrave, was unable to hold a meeting in his own constituency. He was shouted down by gangs of ruffians. That was why the Army Comrades' Association came into existence—to protect him and to protect us and to see that we got our rights which were being denied to us, not by the I.R.A., much as you may say about them, but by the followers of the Fianna Fáil Party. I am convinced, from my observations, that the people who are causing disturbances at public meetings in this country at the present time are not the followers of the I.R.A. but that the majority of them, at all events, are the followers of the political Party which now forms the Government of this State and which now attempts to bring this Bill into operation. Are the Blueshirts responsible for the land  mine in Dundalk? Are the Blueshirts responsible for the mob that attacked them with stones and bottles in Drogheda? Are they responsible for the death of Hugh O'Reilly? Is the wearing of the blue shirt to be put down as the cause of all the outrages that have occurred throughout the length and breadth of this country during the past six months? On the 11th January of this year, the Circuit Judge at Drogheda was presented for the third time with white gloves at the criminal sessions. The Judge said that the crimeless state of the area reflected credit on the people as well as upon the Guards, who had succeeded in nipping all crime in the bud. About a month afterwards there were prosecutions in Drogheda before the District Justice. It was not Blueshirts who were prosecuted at Drogheda before the District Justice or before Judge Devitt. What did the District Justice say—the District Justice who, in the exercise of his functions, is independent of everyone of us here under the Constitution and under the Courts of Justice Act? This is what he said, as taken from the Irish Independent of 24th February of this year:—
“If the Blueshirts who came off the train had not used such self-control there might have been murder done that evening, as they might have attacked the hostile crowd and nobody could say where it would all end.”
That is the District Justice commenting upon all the facts brought before him in reference to the attack with stones and bottles by the mob on Blueshirts in Drogheda. All the facts of that outrageous incident were before the District Justice when he made that comment. The Minister says that if these men had not been wearing blue shirts the mob would not have come out with stones and bottles. In order to prevent the mob of crimeless Drogheda from coming out with stones and bottles to attack Blueshirts, the Minister must prevent citizens from exercising their lawful, legal and constitutional rights. The District Justice went on to say:—
“Anybody was entitled to use the  public thoroughfare so long as they did not carry arms in their hands and were not an illegal organisation and no one was entitled to molest them. If this were an isolated thing, it would not be so serious but all over the country, every day, people whether going to or coming from meetings were followed by rabbles who tried to prevent them doing what they were legally entitled to do. This sort of disorder must be put down with a strong hand, as there would not be peace until every political party was allowed to travel the roads and allowed to hold its meetings without interference from any one.”
I do not propose to go through the various provisions of this Bill. The speakers who will follow me will show how ludicrous these provisions are and the extent of the powers given to an Executive which has proved itself unworthy to be given any such powers. I shall only refer to two provisions of the Bill. Section 8 provides that any assembly of people who, or some of whom, are committing an offence under this Act may be dispersed by force by members of the Gárda Síochána or defence forces of Saorstát Eireann. So that all that will be necessary if this Bill is put into operation will be for some of the rag, tag and bobtail that follow the present Government Party to come in blue shirts to a meeting of Fine Gael and then the police seeing that some of those attending the meeting are wearing blue shirts, will disperse that meeting by force. The only other provision I intend to refer to is that contained in Section 12, that there shall be no appeal from the district justice. I am not worried as to whether or not there is an appeal under this Bill from the district justice. The Minister is afraid that there may be legal arguments. His fears will be justified. The Minister is afraid to allow an appeal from the district  justice and he puts in the famous no certiorari clause about which we had so much talk recently. That is not worth the paper it is written on. The Minister can have a present of it. The attitude the Minister took on this matter I can only liken to the attitude of the “Queen of Hearts” in “Alice in Wonderland,” when she said: “Punishment first, verdict afterwards.”
Mr. Anthony: I wish to place on record my strong objection to giving this Bill a Second Reading. Deputy Costello's examination of the Bill was so exhaustive that I shall confine my remarks to one or two of the statements made by the Minister. Early in his speech he said that there were some associations or organisations which he considered innocuous. He referred to such organisations and institutions as the boy scouts but he forgot, apparently, that one of these organisations known as Fianna Eireann —a boy scout organisation—is a recruiting ground for the I.R.A. I am at one with the Minister in condemning the abuse of lethal weapons. So far as this Bill is concerned, while it deprives the ordinary citizen of the common defence of his stick, no suggestion is made as to disarming the persons who openly proclaim that they have arms and that they have resort to dumps. I also agree that any arms in this country should be under the direct control of the Minister for Justice and that the only persons who should be entitled to carry these lethal weapons should be the military or police and certain other persons authorised by the Minister.
The Minister also told us that disorder in other countries arose from the growth of the Fascist organisation. He then developed his argument by suggesting that the growth of the Blueshirt organisation would result in further disorders in this country. The Minister, apparently, forgot that there was considerable disorder in this country antecedent to the establishment of the Blueshirt organisation. Personally, I hold no brief for any organisation that is out to usurp the functions of the police force, or the  established and recognised military organisations in this country, namely, the Gárda Síochána and the National Army, respectively. But I would like to point out to the Minister that much disorder existed in this country before ever the A.C.A. or any such movement as the Youth Movement was established. I throw my mind back to a particular day in a great city in which the then President of the Executive of the State — President Cosgrave — attempted to address his constituents. Be it remembered that President Cosgrave headed the poll at several successive elections which he contested in Cork, thereby establishing the fact that he had the confidence of the people of that very important and ancient borough. But what happened? When the then President of the Executive of the Free State attempted to address a meeting of his followers in Cork, the hall was invaded by a band of hooligans and blackguards, with all kinds of weapons, and they, eventually, succeeded in preventing the then President from addressing his friends and followers. So that I think it is only a natural result and corollary of such conduct that a body of young men should organise themselves to prevent a recurrence of such a thing. That was the occurrence that brought about the establishment of the A.C.A. movement, and which developed into the Youth movement or the National Guard or something of that character. I was never associated with any of them, but a further development led to the establishment of the Blueshirts. It is the common experience that if we face up to facts and acknowledge established facts that that was so. It is common knowledge that in almost every parish in which an attempt was made to hold a meeting of Fine Gael supporters, or United Ireland Party supporters, no matter what name you call them, in 75 per cent. of instances these meetings were interrupted, and the interruptions came, not from I.R.A. men, but from followers of the Fianna Fáil Party, I have it on the authority of the leader of the I.R.A. in Cork—a man, perhaps, who is better known as the leader of the I.R.A. movement in the country— that specific instructions were given to their members under pain of expulsion not to interfere with meetings of Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, and I take it that these instructions were carried out. It has come within my knowledge, as an observer of men and matters, that the persons who usually interrupt, and usually attempt to prevent the ordinary citizen who is opposed to the Fianna Fáil Government or to Fianna Fáil doctrines or philosophy from expressing his views, are followers of the Fianna Fáil Party. How far the officials recognise these interruptors, condone them, approve of them or encourage them, I am not prepared to say.
The Minister, in the course of his speech, referred to some of General O'Duffy's reports to headquarters when he was Chief Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána. One of these reports dealt with an organisation that uses military terms, such as “captain,”“major,”“general,” and so on, and he pointed to the fact that the growth of the organisation was a danger to the State. Now at that particular period, Deputy Cosgrave was President of the Executive of the Irish Free State. I wonder what would be the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party if Deputy Cosgrave's Government prevented the mobilisation of the I.R.A. battalions. It was because of the menace to the country, a year or two before that report of General O'Duffy's was submitted, that this Dáil had to introduce an amending Bill to the Constitution known as the Public Safety Act, because at that time, as the Minister for Justice must know, there was intimidation of jurymen. The law did not run. There were several murders committed in the country, and the common law was not capable of dealing with such crime. We know there was objection, and refusal, in many cases, on the part of jurymen to serve on juries. Everyone knows that had to be put a stop to, and, eventually, was put a stop to, with the result that we had a period of peace and a period of some kind of industrial and commercial activity in the country. But after the operation of that Act was suspended, and many persons convicted under it were allowed to go free, we  again had the mealy-mouthed representations of President de Valera when he told us how you could kill all this kind of thing by kindness. To-day we have the effect of his policy, not alone the effect of his positive policy, but now, enshrined in this Bill, the effect of his negative policy. The President again suggested that mob law was encouraged, or created rather, by the Blueshirt organisation, and that the wearing of these blue shirts was a source of irritation to the people. Might I here suggest to the Minister that in my view, and in the view of many other people who observe these matters, the only time irritation has been created was when meetings were invaded by persons who forgot that the Blueshirts were present there. Surely it can hardly be suggested in our country, no matter how pious we may be, that we, all the time, are able, when we get a stroke on one jaw, to follow that Scriptural maxim of showing the other jaw for another swipe. I want to suggest to the Minister that if there have been disturbances at any of those meetings, those disturbances have not been created by the Blueshirt organisation, of which, by the way, I am not a member.
Mr. Anthony: There is nothing to prevent my becoming a member, and, let me say this, too, that there are such huge numbers, even in my own constituency, from day to day joining the organisation, that one factory alone can hardly cope—and mind you it is not one of the imaginary factories the Minister for Industry and Commerce talks about; it is a fairly old-established factory—with the demand for blue shirts. They are turning out these blue shirts by the hundred. That, to me, discloses a fairly healthy state of affairs, because it demonstrates very clearly that there is a limit to the patience of the ordinary electors in this country. You may break up a meeting here and there; you may go over for a while to the kind of mob law and violence that have been allowed to be carried on in this country, but they  are beginning to come to an end, due in a large measure to the establishment of the Blueshirt organisation, which made it secure and safe for the ordinary peace-loving citizen to have his views heard at a public meeting.
I could enumerate many instances in which, with the greatest possible respect to the police, there is a class of crime here that would almost baffle a Sherlock Holmes. A certain tradition has grown up in this country, though it might appear unpatriotic to state it here, whereby if a crime be called political, even if there were 20 witnesses to it, it is impossible to get evidence to secure a conviction of the offenders. The moral calibre of our people, that great sense of justice and moral courage that our people at one time possessed, has been so sapped of late years, particularly since Fianna Fáil took over the administration of the country, that there are people to-day in this country who, if they saw a brutal murder committed and if a political organisation was mixed up in it some way or another, would find it very difficult to give evidence to bring home to that murderer, criminal or assassin, the lawful effects that should follow because of that crime.
The Minister also suggested that there was ample police protection in this country to safeguard the peace at public meetings. There is not a man in this House, not even the Minister himself, who has greater respect for the Gárda Síochána or for any other institution set up by the State for the protection of person or property, than I have, but I want to suggest to the Minister that with the number of meetings that we have in this country— propagandist meetings, possibly, I may be told, but it does not affect the issue —it would be humanly impossible for the small number of Gárda scattered over the country to protect these meetings effectively. When I say “effectively” I mean effectively in the sense of ensuring freedom of speech and protection of the person. It would be almost impossible to scatter them all over the country where meetings are being addressed by the Minister and his followers and other politicians of this House. The Minister also made  some comparison between the period of the Blueshirt activity and the period of six months before the Blueshirts became organised and wore these emblems to denote their organisation. I want to suggest to the Minister that, even if he did disclose that state of affairs, it means nothing from the police point of view. It is simply because numbers of people, particularly numbers of nervous persons, were afraid to go to meetings because they had before them the daily Press and the weekly Press in which were recounted from day to day the beating and the man-handling of a number of persons who did not agree with the Fianna Fáil policy. It is quite easy to understand then, when a number of young men banded themselves together for the purposes I have mentioned a moment ago, that bodily conflict was bound to occur. I feel that there is at the moment no necessity for this measure. I feel that I can conclude with a phrase that has been quoted very frequently in other places: “Whom the gods seek to destroy they first make mad.”
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: The Minister for Justice, in introducing this Bill, was very frank, rather more frank than I thought he would be. This is a dishonest Bill, because it is a one-sided Bill. It is to be used against one party and one party only. I am glad that the Minister, at any rate, had sufficient moral courage to get up and say: “Yes, this is a political measure. We are going to use it against our political opponents. Anybody who likes may have any uniform he likes or any emblem of any kind he likes, any badge he likes, any flag he likes, provided he is a supporter of the Executive Council. If he is an opponent of the Executive Council, then he is to have neither badge nor armlet, neither emblem nor flag, neither banner nor device of any kind.” It is a frank effort on the part of the administration to break down constitutional agitation in this country. We have got in this country, at the present moment, two forces at work, just as  there are two forces at work in every other country in the world. We have got those who stand on the existing institutions and the existing arrangement of society, and we have on the other hand those revolutionaries who wish to destroy the existing social system and to set up in its place a system based on an entirely different social foundation. You have got these two forces at work in this country as they are at work in every country in the world. You have here on the one side, really illegal, really unlawful associations, which in their objects are directly hostile to the laws in this State and which, in their objects also, are directly opposed to the dictates and teachings of the Christian religion. You have those persons who wish to set up their views by physical force, and for a considerable time you had those men, by means of their physical force, in a position to dominate this country and able by intimidation to impose their will upon the people.
But you have another force now, an organised body of the best amongst the young men and women of our country, a body which is putting moral force against physical violence, and which is relying upon nothing else but moral force. You have an Executive Council putting a ban upon moral force and encouraging physical violence. That is what their object is and they do not deny it. They wish to encourage physical violence; they wish to encourage crime. That is the tenor of all their speeches. We had the Minister for Justice declaring in this House that the Constitution (Amendment 17) Act, otherwise called the Public Safety Act, should not be put in force. He said: “Put that in force and you are not going to lead to peace in this country; you are going to lead to crime.” You had exactly the same thing coming from President de Valera. “Use this measure,” he said, “use a measure like the Constitution (Amendment) Act of 1931 and it will not lead to peace but to crime.” Even after that Act had been put in force you had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance describing it as a public provocation Act and justifying  its use by the Executive Council in this fashion:—“You gave us the power, and no matter how much we mususe that power it was your own fault in putting such power into our hands.” We have it from the very mouths of the Ministers and from the President that they considered the putting into force of the Constitution (Amendment) Act would have the effect of increasing violence and crime and would not have the effect of restoring peace. Yet they put that measure into force. Now we have got this measure, and what is it for? You have a perfectly lawful organisation being carried on in the open light of day, concealing nothing, hiding nothing, its membership known and the members wearing the honourable badge of a great and honourable association. There is nothing secret about their doctrine. Every member of it is known, and yet the Government are endeavouring to drive that association underground. Here is a deliberate effort to make a lawful association a secret association. You are trying here by deliberate, provocative methods to drive the association of the best young men and the best young women into a course of crime. You may do your best to make that association a wrong-doing association, but you will fail. That association has always been above board. On the one side you have a secret society bound by oath, and on the other side you have an association operating in the broad daylight, every member of it being known, and every member being proud of his association. The Executive Council says: “By all means be secret, we will not allow you to associate or to have a badge.” They are violating every possible principle. They are violating the natural law and the Constitution of this State.
By the natural law—and we have it on the highest of all authorities, an authority which rests upon higher than human wisdom—there is a right in human beings to associate together for lawful purposes. It is in the nature of men to associate. Man, by his nature, is not a solitary individual, but an individual made for society and, being made for society, he is entitled to associate with his fellow man for a  common purpose, provided that that association be not for purposes which are unlawful. Article 9 of our Constitution sets out:
“The right of free expression of opinion as well as the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, and to form associations or unions, is guaranteed for purposes not opposed to public morality. Laws regulating the manner in which the right of forming associations and the right of free assembly may be exercised shall contain no political, religious or class distinction.”
If you have the right to form an association, then you have all the rights which flow from that. You have the right to have a badge for that association. Wherever you do find associations, no matter for what purpose they may be formed, whether for religious, social, philanthropic or political purposes, you will always find the badge of that association. Even in sport, if you see two well-known football teams entering the field you will find the supporters of both teams sporting their respective colours. It goes right through human nature. There is the right of men to form associations and to recognise each other by a particular badge. According to the Government there is now to be no badge, no armlet, no emblem, no distinctive mark of any kind. If people wear the same kind of cuff-links they may be told it is a political badge. We are going to have blue uniforms banned.
The Minister for Justice referred to the conditions in other countries. We have been brought on a sort of personally conducted tour by the Minister for Justice. He told us that we should not use our own judgment at all, that we ought in this country to take a certain course because that certain course is taken in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Latvia or somewhere else, or by Sir John Gilmour in England. We are supposed not to use our own minds or our own judgments in this House at all. Yet, contradicting himself completely, he tells us towards the end of his speech that what happens in other countries is not to be in any way imitated in this  country. As a matter of fact, if the Minister wants a precedent he could— as I am sure he knows himself—get a precedent; he has already got a precedent, and no doubt it was to that precedent he looked upon the statute book of this country. I remember when the Juries Protection Bill was being brought into this House President de Valera—Deputy de Valera as he then was—read us out a very long list of penal statutes which had been passed in this country, all of which, he said, had been completely unsuccessful in achieving their object. Therefore, I know that President de Valera is familiar with the penal laws of this country, and therefore, I think, I may very safely quote a law which this particular Bill resembles—a statute which was passed in the 28th year of the Reign of Henry VIII. It runs as follows:—
“That no perfon ne perfons, the King's fubjects within this land being, or hereafter to be, from and after the firft day of May, which fhall be in the yeare of our Lord God a thoufand five hundred thirtie nine, fhall be fhorn, or fhaven above the eares, or ufe the wearing of haire upon their heads, like unto long lockes, called glibbes, or have or ufe any hairs growing on their upper lippes, called or named a crommeal, or ufe or weare any fhirt, fmock, kerchor, bendel, neckerhour, mocket, or linnen cappe, coloured, or dyed with faffron, ne yet ufe, or wear in any their fhirts or fmockes above feven yards of cloth, to be meafured according to the King's standard, and that alfo no woman ufe or weare any kyrtell, or cote tucked up, or imbroydred or garnifhed with filke, or couched ne layd with ufker, after the Irifh fafhion; and that no perfon or perfons, of what eftate, condition, or degree they be, fhall ufe or weare any mantles, cote or hood made after the Irifh fafhion; and if any perfon or perfons ufe or weare any fhirt, fmock, cote, hood, mantle, kircher, bendell, neckerchor, mocket, or linenn cap, contrary to the forme above recited, that then every perfon fo offending, fhall forfeit the thing fo  ufed or worne, and that it fhall be lawfull to every the King's true fubjects, to feize the fame, and further, the offendor in any of the premiffes, fhall forfeit for every time fo wearing the fame againft the forme aforefaid, fuch penalties and fummes of mony, as hereafter by this prefect act is limited and appointed.”
It is pretty obvious where President de Valera went for his precedent. King Henry VIII objected to the colour saffron, and President de Valera objects to the colour blue, but the principle lying behind the two is exactly the same, though in some respects King Henry VIII showed himself a person with a greater sense of decency than President de Valera has shown in this Bill, as I will point out in a minute or two. Even Henry VIII made certain exceptions. I find none of them in President de Valera's Bill. This goes on:
“Provided alway, That this Act, ne any thing therein contayned, be prejudicial to any woman or any herdes, horfe boyes, for the ufing or wearing of any mantle, ne fhall extend to be hurtfull to any perfon or perfons, for or by reafon of wearing of any mantles, during fuch time as he or they fhall be in going, riding, or abiding in any hoftings, jorney or rode, or reifing out upon a cry, but that they, and every of them, fhall and may liberally and freely ufe and weare at their pleafures their mantles, during fuch hoftings, jorneys or rodes, or reifing out; any thing in this act before to the contrary mentioned or declared notwithftanding.”
So that even at public meetings a mantle was allowed; a saffron mantle would be allowed at hostings, but not by Presdent de Valera. He goes considerably further than King Henry VIII went. I presume the coat there was being worn to keep the persons who were at the meetings warm and free from the rain, but if you bring an umbrella to a public meeting now you are liable to three months' imprisonment, because an umbrella is obviously a stick, and  anybody who has a stick at public meetings is, under Section 6, liable to three months' imprisonment and, on the second occasion, to six months' imprisonment. This is the Bill you have before the House.
Since the President is so very interested in following up those precedents I suppose, now that he has tired of Henry VIII, he will go back after a short time to Henry VII. I commend to him an excellent statute which was passed in the reign of Henry VII, another nice Act to stifle freedom of speech, which the President might easily avail himself of. This is the twentieth chapter, in the tenth year of the reign of Henry VII:—
“Therefore it be enacted and eftablifhed by the fame authority, That no perfon ne perfons of whatfoever eftate condition, or degree, he or they be of, take part with any lord or gentleman, or uphold any fuch variances or comparifons in word or deed, as in ufeing thefe words, Cromabo, Butlerabo, or other words like, or otherwife contrary to the King's lawes, his crown, and dignity, and peace, but to call only on St. George, or the name of his Sovereign Lord the King of England for the time being. And if any perfon or perfons of whatfoever eftate, condition, or degree, he or they be of, do contrary fo offending in the premiffes, or any of them, be taken and committed to ward, there to remain without bayl or mainprife, 'till he or they have made fine after the difcretion of the King's deputy of Ireland, and the King's counfail of the fame for the time being.”
So I suppose we will shortly have some legislation making “Up Cosgrave” or “Up O'Duffy” a criminal offence, and nobody in this country will be allowed to do anything else but call upon St. George or Eamon de Valera. It is rather interesting to see that that chapter which I quoted to you a moment ago—chapter 15 of the 28th year of Henry VIII—is followed immediately after by chapter 16, the title to which is “An Act for the Suppreffion of Abbyes.” I suppose it was some of the Communistic  supporters of President de Valera, with their ideas that Catholicism should be driven out of this country, searching how Henry VIII set about the work and discovering chapter 16, went back just a little page further to chapter 15, to see how he dealt with the sort of apparel that persons should wear. Here in this Bill, as I said a moment ago, there is a thing which shows that even King Henry VIII himself had a certain sense of decency which is wanting to President de Valera and wanting to the Minister for Justice. This is a Bill to suppress the League of Youth, to prevent our young boys from wearing their blue shirts, to prevent our young girls from wearing blue blouses.
Whenever a member of the Gárda Síochána sees a person wearing a uniform or badge in contravention of this Act, it shall be lawful for such member, if he so thinks proper in the circumstances and whether he does or does not arrest such person, to take from such person and remove, if need be by force, such uniform or badge.
A Guard sees a girl wearing the banned blue blouse and that Guard has authority, there and then, to strip that article of clothing off that girl. There was a time in this country where there was a respect and reverence for the womanhood of this country which very few other countries could equal in respect of their womanhood, but here, on the orders of the Executive Council, the Guards may be ordered to tear the blouses off Irish girls because they wear this colour, blue, which President de Valera and his Executive Council object to. You may order your Guards and you may give them directions, but I believe that, by the old Guards, at any rate, you will not get public decency violated and these orders carried out. I am not so sure as to the members of your new force, but I do say that whether it be the old or the new Guards, to give any Guard the power to tear the clothing off a respect able, decent Irish girl, to tear off her  blouse in the public street or public place, is a monstrous power to put in any Bill.
Do not answer me with any quibbles. Do not tell me: “We will never do this, or we will never do that.” If you do not, why do you take the power? It would be the easiest thing on earth, if the Executive Council had given instructions to the Parliamentary draftsman, for him to draft the section: “Wherever a member of the Gárda Síochána sees a man, a male person or a person other than a woman,” but, deliberately and knowing precisely and perfectly what you are doing, you have conferred under this Section 11 powers on the Guards which should not be conferred upon any man in this State. Even in our prisons, there are women searchers, but here you are getting away from that principle, and you are putting the power in the hands of the Guards, and the Guards are under your control, to tear off girls' clothing in the public street, and that is the Bill which you commend to this House. There is no exception—and you come here and ask this House to pass a measure of that nature. What is the meaning of half of your Bill? The Minister for Justice, when introducing it, said: “We are taking terribly wide powers, but we can be trusted.” Who trusts them? I do not. We know what happened so far as the Constitution Amendment Bill of 1931 was concerned. We know that under that Bill two associations were declared to be unlawful which were not, in fact, unlawful, and in order to make these declara tions, in the teeth of all fact and in the teeth of all truth, the Executive Council had to prostitute its conscience, and if the Executive Council prostituted its conscience to get powers under one Act, are we to believe that, when it is given full and free powers, it will not exercise those powers—and they are wide powers indeed.
No emblem, no flag, no badge can be carried by anybody except a supporter of Fianna Fáil, because, as has been frankly told to us, this is a Bill aimed against the United Ireland Party. It  is not a Bill aimed against Fianna Fáil; it is a Bill deliberately designed to give every advantage and every power they have at the present moment to Fianna Fáil and to take it away from the United Ireland Party and from every branch of the United Ireland Party. We have it that the Executive Council can call anything on earth it likes a political body, and under Section 2 we have it that no one shall wear any uniform or badge “which is indicative of membership of, affiliation to, or support of a political party or an association ancillary to a political party.” Politics are completely dealt with. What is the meaning of Section 5? By Section 5 the Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána or, in his own area, any chief superintendent, can ban the wearing of any particular uniform or badge he likes. Those are not political badges. What are they? Political badges are dealt with by Section 2, and they can be dealt with also by Section 4. What is Section 5 for? It is to give powers to the Commissioner of the Guards and the chief superintendents of the Guards to proclaim any sort of association they like, political or non-political.
Nobody can associate together in this country with any badge or any emblem, but, at the mere wanton whim of the Commissioner or any chief superintendent of the Guards, the wearing of any single religious emblem or anything else can be prohibited. You say you are not going to use those powers for that purpose. Why not put that in the Bill, and why give those powers at all which cannot refer in any way to political matters, because political matters have been dealt with earlier? There is such a thing as the liberty of the subject; there is such a thing as the right of an Irish citizen to go about as a free man, and here, by every means you can, you are endeavouring to limit that right. In the statement of the Minister for Justice, when introducing this Bill, there was not a word of eulogy for one single section of it. There was an apology for this section; there is an apology for that section and for the next section, but not one word of eulogy of one single section of the whole Bill.
 The Minister for Justice is kind enough to refer to me and to a speech I made. He said that in a speech I made I expressed my gladness and my pleasure that the Guards were not at a certain meeting which I addressed and where an attempt was made to break up that meeting. I was quite glad. In an effort to incite the people of this country to violence the President of the Executive Council here declared that he could not prevent people being unpopular. We have been told that our meetings could not be held unless they were being held under the protection of the Gárda. They could not be held a year ago. At that time they could not be held and they were not held in a great many parts of the country.
But our meetings can be held now and they can be held all over the country. That particular meeting at which there were no Gárda demonstrated that they could be held without the Gárda or their protection. The persons who had been attending that particular meeting were stoned by persons outside the crowd. But when they were stoned they defended themselves and the attackers cleared away. I am very glad of that. It shows clearly now that there is a manly spirit growing up in this country. It shows that there are men in this country who are not to be browbeaten and walked upon, men who keep themselves strictly within the law, but who, when attacked, are going to act in self-defence, and I am glad of it. I would be very sorry if this country became a country in which bullies may attack as much as they like and that the decent people attacked have not the courage to resist the bullies. Well, I am glad of that. I repeat again that I am very glad of it. The Minister for Justice may make any point he likes out of it.
This measure before the House is a measure, as I have already stated, that is calculated, at least, in the minds of those who introduced it to lead to violence in this country. When the present Executive Council took over office in this State they took over the ruling and the Government of the country which was quieter and  more peaceful than any other country in the world or as quiet as any country could be expected to be. We had met violence with law. We had met with the forces of the law political crime by private methods. The law had shown itself stronger. When the Executive Council opposite took over office they took office in a perfectly peaceable condition in this country. So much was that the case that from his place in this House the Minister for Justice himself has been forced to admit that the General Election of 1932 was as peaceable an election as could possibly be held or wished for. Election times are times which stir up more excitement and bad feeling than are stirred up at any other period. Yet it is admitted by the Minister for Justice that the 1932 election was a perfectly calm and peaceful election. Crime had ceased.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: No, the 1932 Election. It was true of that election. He did not make the false statement that it was true of the 1933 Election where intimidation was rife. Even for a whole year under the fostering care of this Government these illegal associations that took murder as one of their methods of propaganda kept quiescent. They were quiescent for a whole year, even under this Government that allows persons without authority to keep arms, that allows persons who had dumps of arms to keep them without being prosecuted or even a search being made for them. This Government allows persons to have materials for the manufacture of land mines as we know and as has been admitted. It took a whole year of non-interference by this Government to get those people in the condition that they were willing to start their course of crime again. This is the main objection which I have to all that this Government has done—it has demoralised the Irish people—at least, it has demoralised a section of them and it is endeavouring to demoralise the whole people. But because there is an  association which is being attacked here in this measure, an association which wears blue shirts and blue blouses, they will not succeed in demoralising the Irish people.
Manipulative surgery has reached this condition at the present moment that if under an operation the patient's heart gives out and ceases to beat, by manipulation and massaging that heart can be put in motion again. That is precisely the thing which this Executive Council has done. They have massaged the heart of murder in this State. They made that heart beat again. We thought it had been stilled for ever. But now we are told that there were no offences against or attacks on meetings or anything else where Blueshirts were not present. The Minister for Justice made that statement here. Yet in the constituency from which I come, the very county from which the Minister for Justice himself comes, and about which he knows what has happened? The only serious attack that had been made on a public meeting in the county was the attack made in Balla upon a meeting of the United Ireland Party. It was not a meeting of the League of Youth. There were no persons present at it in blue shirts. That was an ordinary meeting of the local members of the United Ireland Party. That was the meeting attacked by a number of young men of the town of Balla and its vicinity led by the brother of a Fianna Fáil Senator—at least if not led he was prominent in it. He was in the party attacking that meeting. There was no provocation by people wearing blue shirts at that meeting.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: No, it is not. That case has been fully dealt with by the District Justice. The case has been adjourned for three months to see how these particular persons will behave themselves. There is nothing further for the District Justice to do. He is completely finished with the case, and the Attorney-General should know that.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: In that particular case the persons attacked were not members of the Blueshirt organisation and only that the Gárda did come upon the scene and did their work right well those persons' lives were in serious danger. What is the use of the Minister for Justice getting up here and saying that Fianna Fáil supporters in this country would be as gentle as lambs if there were no Blueshirts? It is the very opposite. The supporters of the present Government are very much more noisy and very much more rowdy when Fianna Fáil get a harmless and defenceless body of men whom they can safely attack but it is different when there is a body of men present who if attacked are capable of defending themselves. This Bill is bad all through. It is taking away or trying to take away from the members of a great political Party the right which the Constitution gives them, the right which the natural law confers upon them. The object of this Bill is plain. It is patent to every single person in the country. This association is sweeping the country. It is getting men and women recruits in thousands and tens of thousands. It is the great victory of everything which is best in the Irish people because it is the great victory of an association which is using moral force as its only weapon. You may try to put moral force down; you may try to break down that association; but the great moral driving power of the Irish people which is behind that association is a greater moral driving force than any forces you can command. It is a greater force than any force of physical violence that can be brought against it.
The Attorney-General (Mr. Magutre): Somebody has referred to the Deputy who has just spoken as “the gloomy Dean of the Dáil,” and I think it is a very apt description. He seldom has preached a gloomier sermon than he has delivered to-night, illustrated by ancient texts from old laws. He says the object of the Bill is plain. I agree that it is plain. I think, without any  speeches from this side of the House, that to the thinking man, who looks at this question dispassionately, ample justification for the Bill will be found in the speeches already delivered from the other side of the House. Deputy Costello, opening up the line which Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has followed, by saying that this Bill is an invasion of individuals rights and an attack upon the liberty of the subject, and so on, made one fatal slip in the course of his speech, and I doubt if the ingenuity of those who are to follow him will correct the error which he has made. Referring to the illustrations given by the Minister for Justice of similar legislation to this passed in other countries, he stated that the Minister forgot to tell them that in other countries the wearers of shirts, led by Mussolini in the one case and by Hitler in the other, had won. He followed that up by saying that in spite of this Bill the Blueshirts will also be victorious. Here we have it plain and clear that the Blueshirt organisation is here to be the spearhead of an attack upon democratic and Parliamentary institutions. I am afraid it will take more than the laughter of Deputy O'Sullivan to get rid of that implication. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney says that the Blueshirt organisation is to protect the present institutions. Nobody discussing this subject can shut his eyes to the fact that this is a movement imitated from other countries. Nobody can deny that this idea of garbing a political party in uniform is something new in the modern world, something the results of which are plain to be seen in other countries.
Frankly, what this Bill proposes to do is to prevent the Parliamentary and democratic institutions of this country being overthrown by an organisation such as that which is now growing up under the aegis of the Opposition. That similar steps had to be taken in other countries cannot be denied. Deputy Costello said, when illustrations were given of similar steps in other countries, that he listened to the terms of the legislation in these other countries, but that he failed to catch any reference to the word “political.” I wish to reassure him on that point, because the Minister did read, I think, the terms of the article of the Swiss Federal Decree, dealing with a similar problem, the first words of which are:—
“It is forbidden until further notice for members of Swiss or foreign political parties to wear on Swiss territory any uniforms or parts of uniforms or armlets or any easily observable external indications that the wearer is affiliated to a political organisation.”
Is there any serious difference between those provisions and the provisions of this so-called unprecedented Bill? I suggest that had we introduced a Bill some time ago, when similar legislation had not been thought of in other countries, we would have been attacked on all sides that it was unprecedented not alone here, but in other countries. That charge, at least, cannot be made now, because not alone have you that provision in the Swiss Decree, but you have similar provisions in the Belgian Bill:—“Whoever shall publicly wear any uniform or any part of a uniform or any armlet or any article of dress whatsoever belonging to a political party shall be punishable”, and so on. So that Deputy Costello's suggestion that this measure is unprecedented falls to the ground.
Again the Opposition have carefully avoided any reference to what is happening across the water, where a much less dangerous situation in a good many ways has already invited the attention of the Government there, and where a man like Sir John Simon, for whom, I am quite sure, the last speaker has very high respect, speaking at Glasgow some days ago, said:—
“When we reflect on some recent events abroad I do not think that it is untimely or out of place to declare that we do not want any private organisations for keeping order in this country. There is nothing advanced or up to date in drilling a set of uniformed recruits to uphold by their physical efforts a particular doctrine or to defend a special cause. The use of private forces was a feature of England in the Wars of the Roses, and it was the tradition of the Highland chieftain before you  Scotsmen settled down to live peaceably with one another. But nowadays if there is a threat of trouble or disturbances sensible citizens send for the police and rely upon them to do their duty.”
The Attorney-General: I am asking a rhetorical question. I did not intend that the Deputy should answer at the moment. Is not that what developed still later into the National Guard, a title which, in itself, I should say, was a deliberate source of irritation—a political body out of touch with the Government, formed by opponents of the Government—assuming to itself the title of National Guard, assuming, apparently as its mark and description, a title which indicated that it was out to preserve the nation, to preserve peace and order at meetings, and so on? Sir John Simon goes on to say:—
“There is this special objection to this sort of thing—the existence of one private and unauthorised force inevitably tends to call into existence another. If people start expressing their political ideas not only by the colour of their shirts but by preparations to demonstrate their physical force there will be more colours than one.”
That situation referred to by Sir John Simon is similar to the situation here—only unfortunately the situation has gone so far here that it may be very difficult, even with this Bill, to deal with it. A Deputy in the position of Deputy Costello gets up and proclaims  that despite this Bill—I suppose when he says that he means despite this Bill when it becomes an Act—the Blueshirts are going to come out victorious, having apparently modelled themselves on other countries where they came out victorious. We have that situation, and we have responsible Deputies following the line which I observe has been followed by their publicists and speakers for some time past, suggesting that everything this Government has done is illegal. I think Deputy Costello suggested that we were not entitled to call ourselves a Government at all, but a political Party that happened to be a Government. Therefore, he suggested to his excitable Blueshirt followers that anything done was justified. They have never settled down. While in office they lauded the institutions of this country as being the highest expression of democratic freedom. From the moment they left office and handed over the reins to this Party they have never accepted the institutions which they expected the Opposition to accept when leaving office, nor behaved themselves and allowed the Government a free hand.
The Attorney-General: I wish Deputy O'Sullivan would not continue to interrupt. I see by their weekly organ, run partly by Deputy Fitzgerald, and in their speeches in this House and on public platforms, that they set out deliberately on a career to excite people that they are roping into a uniformed organisation to believe that we have no right to do what we are doing, that we have no right to govern at all. They are fast creating a situation when it will be very difficult indeed to avoid very grave and serious trouble. We have it stated over and over again, until we are tired of hearing it, that this organisation is necessary to preserve order. The suggestion earlier was that the I.R.A. were out of control, and that this body was necessary to deal with the I.R.A. situation. I suppose some other Deputies will get up to speak in this debate, but, in the two or three speeches that have been delivered, we had the admission from  Deputy Costello and from Deputy Anthony that the I.R.A. were not responsible for the trouble at meetings at all. The suggestion was that it was ordinary supporters of ours were responsible. The suggestion has been made in one organ that the law has not been fairly administered. That is one of the great sticks used to beat us, and one of the great things to excite their followers, that the law is not fairly administered. I deny that. I say it is absolutely untrue.
The Attorney-General: Up to the present 80 persons have been before the Military Tribunal, and of these only 12 can be identified with the Opposition Party. I pick up the organ of the Opposition each week, in which charges of partiality are made, I suppose, against me in my office. On the other hand, I take up another organ, An Phoblacht, containing similar charges. Both papers make similar charges. I suppose that at least ought to quiet my conscience. Can it be said, since we came into office, that we have not lent the aid of the forces of the State to preserve public order? The charge is made over and over again that we have not and that something is necessary other than the ordinary forces to preserve order. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney referred to the peaceful election of 1932 and to the disorder at the election of 1933. I interrupted him deliberately and I suggested that whatever could be said about the election of 1932, the election of 1933 was an orderly election. The police force was under the control of the gentleman who is now in charge of the Blueshirt organisation. He cannot deny that. Apparently he has recently tried to suggest some new version of the discussion that took place when that election was about to take place, when the president brought him into his office and told him to put all the forces of the State at the disposal of those holding public meetings, to protect opposition speakers and, at any rate, to see that there was order.  There were no Blueshirts then. There was order at the election of 1933. Deputy O'Sullivan shakes his head. I suppose he will still keep on telling about one or two meetings at which there were scuffles. Was there any election in the world more peaceable than the election of 1933? I doubt it. That should dispose of the idea that seems to be held by a lot of people that there is a necessity for some organisation outside the forces of the State to maintain order. There is no need whatever for such forces. It is because there is no need for such forces, and because they can only lead to trouble, that we are bringing in this Bill.
Of course we have heard it stated that the Executive Council have strained the law in order to deal with political opponents, and the suggestion has been almost made that this Government has, at the present moment, at its head a dictator. That is a curious charge to come from people who, certainly at the outset of their movement, and before a political party took it under control and cut away some of the constitution and so on, deliberately modelled an association, with a director-general solely responsible for the appointment of all officers, whose aims and objects were closely imitating other dictatorial institutions. Everyone saw what was the next step. It is extraordinary that dictatorship from that side should be objected to. As a matter of historical fact, examining the history of the past two years, can it be suggested that we have in any way been untrue to our promises to the people, that coming here we would take and use as instruments the institutions of State, formed in circumstances which may have been highly objectionable to a number of us, and to members of our Front Bench who had been in arms? Have we not during that time respected the institutions we took charge of? It cannot be denied that the supreme test of the fairness of a police force was given at the election. At no other time, I suggest, can you test the fairness of the Government or its genuine impartiality better than at an election. It cannot be denied that we put the police force and  the Army at the disposal of everybody who wanted protection. When that can be shown, how can it be honestly and fairly suggested that we have in any way acted as dictators, or used the machines placed in our charge to attack our political opponents?
Then again Deputy Costello boasted about the courts: that we were embarking on a career until an end was put to it by the courts. We at least respect the courts. I am rather loath to go back and refer to past history, but there were times, you know, when some of the gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite did not pay very much regard to the courts. There was a very curious, a tragic and a sad incident, when a man was executed pending an appeal to the courts, and there were instances of people being dealt with without trial by the courts. We at least have respect for the courts. When the charge is made by the people opposite that the Executive Council proclaimed as unlawful associations that are not unlawful, I deny that charge. The Executive Council are entitled to form their own judgment on the material before them as to whether an association is unlawful or not.
Deputy Dillon will remember that after the National Guard had been banned, and after one of the consequential orders made in connection with it, a suggestion was made by Deputy Cosgrave that the premises in Parnell Square were the property of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, and had passed over to the new United Ireland Party. Notice was served on behalf of the Party of an application to the Military Tribunal that the premises be reopened. I may say that when I saw the statement in the newspapers by Deputy Cosgrave that those premises were really the property of the United Ireland Party, I immediately commenced an investigation to see if I could, in the circumstances, agree to let them have the premises before any application whatsoever was made. Deputy Dillon will know that when the application came on he put an affidavit on the file. I think he actually appeared in the application. We  fought that case merely on the documents which we got in the possession of the Opposition. We had there produced the internal workings of the Young Ireland Party, the National Guard and the A.C.A. We were able to show up to the Military Tribunal in their true light the internal workings of that organisation. I think that some of the documents which were there revealed have already been referred to in this House. They showed a closely-knit organisation with a military framework as rigidly constructed as any army. They showed details of companies, divisions, units—of all the military types. They showed the commanders; they showed that they actually had a secret service, and that instructions were issued to their members how to seduce from their loyalty to the State members of the various forces of the State.
Mr. Dillon: The Attorney-General has stated that a document was produced before the Military Tribunal on my application that proved that members of the League of Youth were trained to seduce from their loyalty to the State members of the forces of the State. No such document was produced.
Mr. Dillon: Some document may have been produced which suggested that a postman was the kind of person who knew the addresses of people in the district. If it is true for the Attorney-General to get up and say that that is evidence that there was a conspiracy to seduce from their loyalty to the State members of the forces of this State, then I do not know the meaning of the word “truth.”
The Attorney-General: I am not wriggling in the least, and if the Deputy had only observed he would have seen that I was looking for that particular document. However, before I come to that document we have this type of thing going on. This was written in September:—
“It has been observed during recent inspections of the National Guard throughout the country that certain units are not conversant with the elementary drill necessary for proper deportment on the march. Arrangements should be immediately made by all company captains to parade their men on one day each week for the purpose of instructing them in falling in, forming fours and marching in step. This is most important and should be undertaken at once. It is to be hoped that on the occasion of the Director-General's visit to your district the men will have received the necessary instructions in the foregoing and will acquit themselves in a smart and disciplined manner.”
The Attorney-General: And we have a document like this: It is dated October 2nd last. It refers to the Young Ireland Association, which is supposed to be a harmless association, an association merely for the support of a political organisation. It reads:
“I am instructed by the Director General to inform you that at every big parade of the Young Ireland Association, where companies from different districts and even different counties are brought together, the need for some means of readily distinguishing officers has been very strongly emphasised. It is obvious that no one can know officers who come from a distance, and it only leads to chaos if the officer in charge of a unit cannot be quickly identified. For this reason certain insignia or badges have been adopted, not only to distinguish officers as a whole, but also to differentiate between the different types of officers. It is not intended to mark actual ranks of officers, such as company officers, district officers and divisional officers,”
and so on. It then goes on to state that a different coloured strap will stand for each type of officer: that company officers will wear green shoulder straps; district officers, white; divisional officers, yellow, and headquarters' officers, red shoulder straps. This is the body which masquerades as an ordinary, normal, political organisation: the type which has been always accepted and always been contemplated as being a constituent part of a political Party. We had revealed from documents quoted in this House that, apart from having their units carefully regulated, monthly parades, reports by the officers, who varied its name according as the bans became effective, reports of the number of persons paraded, number of recruits, and so on—throughout all these documents military phraseology was used. We had, apart from all that, an inner secret circle in the different areas; and yet Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney lashes himself into a fury here because we are attempting to stop the wearing of uniform shirts in order to prevent an organisation growing to such a size as will enable it, perhaps, at some future day, to do what General O'Duffy said, have a march on the capital. I do not agree at all that this organisation is as innocent as it looks on the surface, and I am quite satisfied from what I know of it that unless something is done to  curb it we are rapidly getting into a very difficult and dangerous situation. It is suggested now that to prevent the wearing of these uniforms is to strike a deadly blow at fair political opposition.
The Attorney-General: The document I referred to is a document in which it was stated, in the opening sentence, that “as the usual means of communication will not be open to us it is necessary to form in each area other lines of communication, and that for this purpose certain types of individuals are eminently suitable, and amongst these are postmen.” There is one description of a type of person to be used for the purpose of secret communication. Does the Deputy deny that that is a correct version of one of the documents put in evidence?
The Attorney-General: I thought I had the document with me or I would not have referred to it, but I can assure the Deputy that I can produce it. We have this organisation masquerading as a peaceful organisation, but having about it, from all these signs, from the descriptions of its officers, from the way in which its orders are issued, from the manner in which appointments are  made to it, all the elements of an army organisation. We have, furthermore, the fact that it is not prepared to risk its correspondence being looked at. It must have its own internal, secret lines of communication.
The Attorney-General: When you have that organisation now adding to its appeal by the use of a uniform, it is something which a Government responsible for order in this country must very seriously consider whether it will allow it to develop or not. What is the purpose of a uniform? Everybody knows that uniforms are for the purpose of enabling members of a particular force readily to recognise each other. It is in order to give them the strength of knowing who is belonging to the same organisation and to enable them to know the strength of the people belonging to the same organisation in a particular place at a particular time. In all countries the right to wear uniforms has been the prerogative of the forces under the control of the State. Everybody knows quite well that it is not the rifle that is put in a man's hand at a moment's notice, or any other weapon put in his hands, that really makes a man an efficient soldier. What makes them efficient soldiers is careful drilling, careful preparation, and acceptance of rigid discipline. That is what is being attempted in that organisation. All these things are being attempted in that organisation. It may be that that is something that this country wants to allow to grow. The Deputies opposite suggest that it is something which has appealed to the country in such a way that the country overwhelmingly want it. If the people of this country want it overwhelmingly, they must have it.
The Attorney-General: But, if so, they must have it in the ordinary way, and that is through the machinery of this House. They are not going to be allowed to impose themselves on the country in the way they are now endeavouring to impose themselves. We are not going to allow the institutions here to be imperilled by this sort of thing if we can prevent it. Deputies opposite have announced in advance that this law-abiding Opposition, which has such enormous respect for law that it will obey any law, are not going to obey this law. That is the stage to which they have advanced now. That is a sad state of affairs, but when that situation arises we will see who gets the best of it.
We have brought this Bill in with hesitation. We have brought it in, and I am sure it appeals to the good sense of any person who has watched developments in the modern world. I am sure that we have the approval of any independent person, even here, who has watched events here and has seen how provocative it is to have an organisation like this parading itself in various places, and where we believe that all the protection necessary for our political opponents can be given to them by the ordinary organised forces of the State. I believe myself that Deputies, in their hearts—even some of the leaders of the Opposition—agree with that. I believe that, or else that they have accepted this as a desperate expedient. As I said before, a moment before, they refused to settle down to being an Opposition and taking the proper place of any Opposition in any democratic country, and that is at least to allow the Government a fair chance of doing its job. They have refused to do that since we came into office. They thought they would be able to sweep us out of office immediately. We gave them a chance of doing so within a year of our being returned to office, and they found that their obstructive tactics, instead of doing them good, had done them harm. Notwithstanding that, they have continued their efforts at obstruction in every way. Slander, vilification, and abuse of every kind has poured from their papers and from some of their speakers. Apparently, at last they  have discovered a man who gives them something new and, apparently, even a wiseacre, as one would imagine, such as Deputy Professor O'Sullivan, is attracted by this new toy—this organisation. Somebody said about this type of organisation that the appeal of a uniform to a political party is that it saves them the trouble of thinking. That is a great deal of the appeal— it saves them the trouble of thinking. Hook them together in an organisation, get them into uniforms and drill them, and then they will do everything they are told. They are being told now that everything we do is immoral and wrong. I believe that, deep in his heart, Deputy O'Sullivan cannot approve of this development in politics. A man familiar, as he is, with the recent and ancient history of the country and of other countries cannot but realise the dangers with which such a development is instinct. The word “dishonest” is flung at us from the Opposition Benches. The opposition to this Bill is, to a large extent, dishonest. Either that or members opposite have lost their reason.
Professor O'Sullivan: I gathered at least one thing from the speech of the Attorney-General — that the most offensive remark made by his predecessor in office was that, in spite of this Bill, the Blueshirts will win. That is a terrible confession of moral depravity—that a political party expect to be victorious! That is a thing which could not be tolerated by the Government. That is the Attorney-General's objection to the Blueshirts. That is the reason for the Bill. It is obvious even to the Attorney-General that this movement is going to be victorious. He regards it as a terrible crime that a political party should look forward to victory!
We had a great deal of talk about the obstructive tactics of the Opposition since the Government took over control, or, at least—let me be quite accurate—since the Government came into office. Where did the obstructive tactics come in? There was criticism, of course, but has there been any incident in which an effort was made, against the Constitution of this country, by anybody belonging to this Party,  to interfere with the Government? Like the Attorney-General, I am not going into past history, but the members of this Party have given a much fairer run to the policy of the Government than they ever got from them, in whatever capacity they opposed them. To justify the actions of the Government in trying to suppress various bodies, and to justify them in putting into operation what is known as the Public Safety Act last August, we had correspondence quoted—correspondence which took place in the month of October! What did that correspondence prove? That every effort was made to make that organisation efficient. It was alleged that this organisation had the insignia of an army. It had not one very important part of the insignia of an army—arms. It never proposed that at any period violence of any kind should be its weapon. No charge was ever brought against the members of that body, or against that body as a whole, of having used or advocated violence. Terrible crimes were committed, of which various bodies were guilty, but none of these was charged against this body.
One thing that almost reduced the Attorney-General to silence and gave him apoplexy was the suggestion that people objected to having their private correspondence read by their political opponents. That is really a new conception of the powers of Government and of the rights of an Opposition. We learned quite recently, in correspondence which was published, that the President appreciated an Opposition. It is evident to everybody that the President appreciated an Opposition only when he is allowed to lead it as well as lead the Government. He must dictate the tactics and policy of the Opposition as well as the tactics and policy of the Government. Under no other circumstances will he tolerate an Opposition. I must say that he is ably backed up by his Ministers—at least, so far as will goes—in their dealings with the Opposition.
We object to this Bill on account of its very nature and because it is another expression, however much the  Attorney-General may shout about it, of the gross partisanship of the Government in their administration of the law. Nowhere have they shown more partisanship than they have shown in dealing with this Blueshirt business and with the various associations mentioned by the Attorney-General in the course of his rambling statement. We have it openly acknowledged now that the government—or, as I prefer to put it, the mis-government—of this country is by the Party for the Party. That is what they stand for. It is what they profess—party government in excelsis, party government in the worst sense of that conception. That is what they are trying to introduce. That is the only thing within their horizon. Every day that is more cynically acknowledged and proclaimed by the members who constitute the Government and by their followers. Because this Bill is an expression of that particular attitude, and represents a cynical sacrificing of the country to immediate Party interests, we oppose it. I do not think that that policy is so cynically acknowledged and followed anywhere in Western Europe as it is here by the present Government. The Attorney-General spoke of a dictatorship. I often wonder whether the head of his Party is aiming at a dictatorship. I am quite sure that, if necessity demands it, he will allow himself to drift into it. He may not want to go to the left, but if there is any member of that Party with respect or love for the ordinary institutions of this country, he will find that ultimately his leader will drift to the left. In every situation that comes up, there is a drift to the left on his part, and it is probable that he will bring every member of his Government with him in that drift.
If there was anything illegal in the aims or objects of this Blueshirt phenomenon and the bodies that preceded it, as mentioned by the Attorney-General, how was it that not one test case was brought before the ordinary courts? Was there a single case brought before the ordinary courts in which the question could be tested and evidence given? Can the Government suggest that the ordinary courts were not functioning or that there was the  slightest hint of interference with them in the performance of their duty? Why were not the ordinary courts appealed to in this instance? Because the Government knew they had no case whatsoever to go before them. They knew that they had not even a case to go before the Military Tribunal. Have they proceeded in the cases brought before the Military Tribunal to prove that these organisations which have been mentioned were illegal? They have not. They have proceeded under a sub-section that debarred them, and debarred the accused, from giving evidence as to the character of these organisations. No court, civil or military, was allowed to investigate a single charge as to the legality of these organisations. If the Government were so clear about the illegal tendencies and purposes of these associations, why did they not have the matter tested, not in a partisan assembly, as this might be called by the Government, but in the courts? Did they bring a single case? They did not. Could anything be more ludicrous than the suggestion advanced by the Minister for Justice that the present situation is comparable to the situation in 1931 when the Public Safety Act, as it is called, or Amendment 17 of the Constitution was first introduced? Does the Government suggest that in August last year the courts of this country had ceased to function? that they were terrorised? that witnesses dare not come up and give evidence against this organisation? Have they ever made that case? As everyone knows who casts his mind back or who reads the debates in connection with the 1931 Act, no such case was made last August that the ordinary courts had broken down, or that juries were intimidated, or that witnesses dare not come to give evidence before the courts. Was there a single hint put forward at the time that the Government invoked this Act, in 1933, that the ordinary administration of justice had broken down? Yet they speak about their non-partisan administration of justice. The truth is they have no conception of morality where the administration of justice is concerned. They think that because certain powers are entrusted to them  they are justified in utilising these powers, no matter what the circumstances are, and without putting up a proper case. Nothing is more calculated to bring the law into contempt than the abuse of these tremendous powers that the Government now have under the Public Safety Act. Those people, when in Opposition, declared that they would rule without these exceptional powers, now even under these they have not enough power and must bring in another Bill giving them more power to suppress their political opponents altogether.
When we had to deal with the situation in 1931 we had to deal with a situation where an appeal to force was one of the primary methods of the people we were dealing with, where intimidation and murder were indulged in, and where the ordinary courts had broken down and ceased to function. Nothing of that kind is suggested here. We never struck at a political party simply because they were our political opponents. We did, it is true, advise the country as to the lamentable consequences of electing the Party opposite and enabling them to form a Government. We were entitled to do that; but we never went beyond that; we never interfered with the right of any portion of the people to put their views before the public.
Under this Bill, if the local superintendent of police wants to suppress a certain meeting, or the Government wants to suppress it, then there is no power in anybody to prevent the Guards suppressing that meeting. We are told that these powers will not be utilised for that purpose, but it is no use telling us that. The very people who told us that went, spectacularly, to Arbour Hill, and released from prison people who had committed crimes against the State. They declared that the Act under which these men were imprisoned would not be put into force; they would rule by the ordinary law. What were their promises worth? They brought into force the Public Safety Act without one single justification. Are these people to be relied on even though the Minister for Justice tells us that the terriffic powers that are given  even to the ordinary police will not be exercised, and that the Government will deal with any abuses. It is not the ordinary police officer that this Party, and the country, are nervous about. It is not their goodwill that the people are afraid of. It is precisely the statement of the Minister for Justice that makes them so uneasy. The Government is determined to use this power to put down their political opponents for the awful crime that their opponents are going to be victorious. That is the beginning and the end of the offence of this particular body. It is a trained and disciplined body. Oh, but, says the Attorney-General, they wear uniforms. That is an awful thing because it makes an appeal to the imagination of the people. It is terrible, and it is the aim of the Government to prevent that. Not a single case is made out for this Act, or for the oppressive operations of the Government policy of which this is only a part. It is an attack upon the rights of the people. So far as this Bill can manage it the rights of the public will disappear when it becomes law. The public thenceforth will be at the mercy of the Executive Council. The rights of the ordinary citizen, and the rights of ordinary political parties to hold political meetings disappear, and all we can rely upon is the goodwill of the Government and the supporters of the Government. I say there is no democratic constitution unless it gives the right to people of putting their views before the public and unless they have the right of going about freely, so long as they are not guilty of any offence against public order, but I protest against a prohibition to criticise the policy of the Government. The Government object to their administration of the law being called into question; they object to criticism. They want to be rid of our criticism of the Government. I am well aware that they profess to preach peace while their whole attitude is opposed to peace. They speak of their objection to bitterness though they have done everything possible to stir up bitterness.
 Reference has been made from the other side of the House as to interference with public meetings. Are we to rely upon the Government to see that there is no such interference? Are we to rely upon their allies and their followers—I cannot make the distinctions some people make—not interrupting public meetings in the country when everybody knows that they are encouraged by Ministers themselves? What is the meaning of the incitement we hear, not from ordinary Deputies but from Ministers who come along and say they will protect public meetings? When the Attorney-General spoke of public meetings going on during the election of 1933, I remember a great public meeting at which the bulk of the people could not get near the meeting owing to organised disturbance. I wonder did the Attorney-General hear of the various efforts that were made to prevent that meeting and to do a great deal more than to prevent that meeting. We heard many characteristic statements from the Government again and again, but the only interpretation put upon these statements by the ordinary followers of the Government was: “Don't allow these fellows to speak; they are traitors.” It had no other meaning; it could mean nothing else and their followers understood it in that way. The President went down to Kerry and read the people of Kerry a lecture about disorder. I might incidentally mention there were no Blueshirts at that meeting at which the disorder complained of took place. There were other quite harmless things such as land mines and bombs.
No doubt he read a lecture, but his followers in Dublin knew much better his mentality when they put on the walls here, certainly out in my direction, “Up Kerry, Up Dev.” What is the meaning of that? Were they taking his reverence for free speech so very seriously? They knew his mentality. They knew all that was meant for others, not for them. An Opposition is useful as long as it is silent and as long as it cannot efficiently organise, but let it efficiently organise, let it show any signs of bringing about that  horrible catastrophe referred to by the Attorney-General, that it is going to be victorious, and then it must be suppressed. There is to be tolerance but let us make this quite clear—no tolerance for those who do not bow the knee before the new idol for the people, that do not share the Messianic complex of the President, as it is called in Russia. There would then be tolerance but, unfortunately, not everybody can do that. There is to be under this Bill, as far as the Government can manage it, an effort made to prevent an efficient organisation of the people opposed to the Government. It is the efficiency of the organisation—and everything read out by the Attorney-General goes to show that—that is objected to. Although I am not taking his history as quite correct, this is, I think, what the Minister for Justice said:—“The tide”—you might think they had the support of 90 per cent. of the electors in that election—“of indignation that drove them out of office was a tide of the organised and disciplined body of the country”. Organisation and discipline is only to be on that side. I quite admit that in the years 1932 and 1933 the present Government and the Fianna Fáil Party got assistance from an effective organisation—
Professor O'Sullivan: With guns. That is it. Shirts make you see red. Guns are harmless things, you only shoot people with them! Land mines are harmless; you only blow up people with them! They are absolutely harmless. But shirts to maintain discipline——! Remember the complaint about shirts made by the Attorney-General is that they indicate who belong to the same Party, that the people who wear them know they belong to the same Party. Is not that appalling? This is meant as a serious contribution from the legal adviser to the Government— that they came to a meeting with these shirts, so that the people would know how  strong they were. It really passes imagination, how low it is! Then, as it is supposed to be a disciplined body, some person has to enforce discipline and objection is made to individuals who are in command of that particular body being marked out. This has to be shown in the month of October for the steps taken in August! What marvellous foresight the Government had in some matters.
As I say, the one thing that is clear is: an Opposition by all means so long as it is not effective, so long as it is no danger to the Government. It is because this organisation is effective, as the Government knows, that the Public Safety Act is not enough, that this measure has to be introduced. As usual, what have we here but the President's old habit of doing immoral things in a legal way? He does it in his use of the Public Safety Act. He is doing it here, but not all your legality can make things that are wrong right. You must have some moral justification for what you are doing, and you should have. We are still far in this country from accepting that philosophy that holds that morality can be dictated and decided in that particular way, that there is no such thing as fundamental moral right and wrong. It is on that particular theory that there is no such thing as fundamental right and wrong that the Government is acting. It does not follow, as I have often said here before, that because a Government have power they are justified in using it. They are not, and it is this abuse of power that has always led to chaos. Our objection to this Bill, and our objection to the Government is, that they have grossly abused their power. They have outrageously abused their power since they saw their position threatened. They must have a legal right for the wrong they are doing. If the Government has that they are satisfied. These people held they had a legal right as well as a moral right in 1922. They now want a legal right to do what is wrong against the people. Liberty! The people are to be sacrificed. The country is to be economically ruined and the liberty of the people is to be wholly destroyed. And all because  there is a danger that the country might turn against the Government.
It is not merely an enslavement of the body that is demanded in this. We are to have an enslavement of the mind as well. Nothing is more appalling I think, in modern times, than the immense power that is given into the hands of unscrupulous Governments to get control over the minds of the people as well as over their bodies. Here, at all events, we should not do so. Liberty! The country made a sad mistake in 1922 when it rejected the Deputies opposite. Liberty is not now going to be allowed make any more mistakes. It is the last mistake it has made, so far as that particular Party is concerned. To turn against them, to turn down their policy, for the people to open their eyes to the disasters the Government have brought upon the country—the country is to be denied that liberty. I have no doubt, if he thought of it, we would be told that there was freedom for the country as long as the country shows that it is contented to be fooled, but the moment the country sets an organisation going that threatens the political existence of the Government then the Public Safety Act—the Public Provocation Act, as it was called by the Minister for Justice, a member of the Government that is now putting it in force—is not enough, not nearly enough.
Further steps have to be taken against this Party that has been guilty of these terrible crimes, of trying to oust the Government. It has actually appealed to the courts against the illegal actions of the Minister. This Bill is a confession of the illegal acts of Ministers so far as some of their actions were concerned. So far as pulling people off platforms because they wore blue shirts is concerned, it is an absolute confession of the illegality of the Government's acts on that occasion. I wonder are we to be told that they were quite sure of the law, and that this is only to make it clear? That is generally what we are told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Clause 11 was read out by the ex-Minister for Justice. He pointed  out his objection. We will be told that of course it is not meant for that. I suggest that it is meant to promote a riot when used. Remember it is not enough to arrest a person there and then. I leave out the very grave case mentioned by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. There and then a man can be stripped in public at a public meeting. He can be stripped of his blue shirt. And that is for the promotion of order! A tremendous help that is to order!
Professor O'Sullivan: That was referred to by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, but, of course, we will be told they would not do that. Like the Deputy, I would not trust them. That is what the House is asked to legislate. There is an obvious reason for all this. Arrest is not enough. If you want a real riot you will get it under this clause. We will help them on in this particular clause, say the Government. That is the best meaning that one can give to this clause. Immense powers to the Guards! I should say so. But then we are giving the Executive power to check them if they abuse those powers. Our whole contention is that, as far as they could do it, this Government has broken the morale of the Guards in the performance of their ordinary duty. We are asked to rely on that Government to see that the law is properly administered and that the Guards do not overstep their functions. There is nothing in their career, nothing in the way in which they have called into operation the Public Safety Act, to allow us for one moment to rely with any confidence on any promise of the Government in that respect. Nobody I know of can be more reasonable in words occasionally than members of the Government. But it is their acts, the incitements they have been guilty of from public platforms, that count. These are the things we must judge, not their professions, not the attempt of the Attorney-General as the dove of peace pretending that he is between the two Parties. We know that one of the Parties is very much behind him. The  harmless people who have only guns, machine-guns and bombs—they are behind the Deputies opposite. They got them in in 1932 and 1933, and this is an open concession to them and to others.
What is the real purpose of this Bill? Does anybody believe that it is meant to bring peace? Not at all. This is the Government's way of saying to those people it has misled so often and who apparently have misunderstood the peaceful incitements of the Government, “Go ahead, boys; we are with you.” Perhaps some of the Ministers opposite were here when the President was defending his own Estimate last July. What was his message then? To his friends and allies—they were his allies yesterday and probably they are his allies of to-day; I do not know what conferences he may be having with them at present—he said: “I am not going after your arms, but do not parade them in public. Do not let the police see you acting ostentatiously. Remember, we are a Government, and there are certain numbers of uneasy supporters on our side who would not like us to allow that sort of thing to happen. We may lose their support. Therefore, do not parade your arms in public; do not be seen with them.” That was what he said to his friends, his allies; but to the other side he said there would be no toleration and this Blueshirt thing would be put down. Last summer, not in August or October, but long before then, we had that marked out for us. This is a belated attempt to justify an illegal action on the part of the Government.
What is one of their principal arguments? The Blueshirts are a provocation. I know of places where the wearing of a Roman collar is a provocation. I wonder whether the Government will take up the line that the people who wear a Roman collar are provocative, and that it is their business to see that the person who does it will be punished? After all, that is quite analogous to the situation they are taking up here. If the Blueshirts were not provocative, then something else we do would be provocative, as was made perfectly clear after the Tralee  attack, that glorious piece of military manæuvring where our opponents had not a distinctive type of shirt and where they only tried to kill people with bombs. The Guards told us in Tralee that we could not go from the hall to the hotel. They might protect us against hurleys, but they could not protect us against rifles. That was quite harmless; that was all right! It was after that we gathered from the Minister for Industry and Commerce that it was our very existence, the very fact that we held meetings, that was a provocation to the people. We had no right to stir up the people, and that is one of the principal excuses for bringing forward this Bill.
This association is provocative, but its provocativeness is to be found in its success, and well the members of the Government know that. Nothing upsets them more than that, despite all the efforts made to drive this particular body into illegal action, they have not succeeded. Despite the open attacks made upon them they have kept their discipline. That is the value of discipline. I have no doubt the Government would much prefer that there would be a real battle and that people would be killed in such instances as the attack in Drogheda. That would suit them. But it was the discipline of this body that prevented that, as was made apparent by the passage read out by the ex-Attorney-General. As the Government are going on with their maladministration of the law and their supreme disregard for the rights of the people there is no institution that can be considered safe where they are concerned.
It will be a complete avoidance of and a neglect and contempt for their duty if Deputies in this House consent to give this Bill a Second Reading. I put it to the people to ask themselves where it is leading to. As the Minister for Justice pointed out, it is a general Bill. There is no body against which it cannot be used. If the Government thinks fit, any body that is politically active or economically active, because at the present time economic action is the most important kind of action, can come under the provisions of this  measure. I have no doubt there must be some members of the Fianna Fáil Party who are getting exceedingly uneasy at instance after instance of the blatant partisanship of the Government and their failure to carry out their primary duty. How they can still rely on support is an indication of how much party can triumph over patriotism. I was well engineered. I was at many a meeting; I was at meetings, before the Blueshirts ever came into existence, where organised attempts were made to prevent those meetings. There was nothing spontaneous about it, and the inspirations came from the very highest quarters.
Then we are asked to trust this particular Government. The power is wide. Why? To prevent the ordinary courts from interfering; to prevent a fair trial of a body against whom no charge has yet been made; no effort made to prove they were illegal or that their objects or methods were illegal; no effort, only the mere expression of opinion by the Executive Council. That is all. Even, as I said, before the military court the accused is stopped from making the case that their aims are illegal; every court is debarred from listening to any plea of that kind. Militarism in politics! There is nothing militaristic about this, except discipline, and nobody can talk better about militarism in politics than three, at least, of the gentlemen that I see opposite me.
So long, we were told by the Minister for Justice, as a certain body kept within their rights no objection was taken. When they went what the Minister considered was beyond their rights, why did he not bring them into the courts? The courts were functioning. He could have tried them there. He brought them before what? The Executive Council—the partisan judgment of the Executive Council. There was no charge, just the mere ipse dixit of the Minister: “I think they are unlawful.” No evidence could be given in rebuttal of that charge. He deprived the people of making a case. He is going to do the same now. No  tittle of foundation has been brought forward for this Bill. The very best case he made was imitation, except he left out of account that this body does not rely on violence to attain its ends
Mr. Lemass: Anybody who listened to the reasoned and reasonable speech of the Minister for Justice in introducing this measure, must have been convinced as to its necessity. The Minister had no need to have recourse to any of the usual devices adopted in political controversy. His speech was a mere statement of the development of militarism in politics in this and in other countries, and the consequences of that development. It constituted an argument so unanswerable that the Opposition have not attempted to answer it. I have sat here and listened to the speeches delivered by three front bench members of the main Opposition Party, and by one external associate, but in not one of those four speeches was any solid argument against the Bill as such produced. The speech of Deputy O'Sullivan, the speech of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, like the speech of Deputy Anthony, was mere sound and fury signifying nothing. Deputy Costello alone attempted to frame a case against the measure, and in order to do so, he had to misrepresent its purpose, and even to misstate its terms.
In so far as I have been able to follow the arguments made by Deputies opposite, they appear to be directed towards establishing the case that this Bill has only one purpose behind it, and that is to hamper the development of their political organisation. Deputy O'Sullivan appeared to assume that it was necessary, in order that they might have an efficient organisation, that it should be organised and established on military lines, with companies, company officers, and all the other trappings of a military force. Are we seriously to take it that it is the considered view of the Party opposite that an efficient political organisation cannot be established except on militarist lines, and that, therefore, the adoption of militarist tactics is justified? It is rather a new line for them to take, and in taking  that line I want to assure them that they are wrong. I was one of those who had some association with the work of building up in this country the most efficient political organisation that it has seen. Even Deputies opposite have paid a tribute to that organisation. Deputy O'Sullivan did it a short while ago in the course of his remarks. In building up that organisation there was no necessity to adopt any particular coloured shirts; there was no necessity to have rifles; there was no necessity to have companies or company officers, and although we had a few generals it was not necessary to parade them as such; but we got an efficient political organisation. If Deputies opposite want an organisation efficient for political purposes—and by political purposes I mean the contesting of elections—they can get such an organisation in the same way as we did, but if they want an organisation capable of being adapted to other purposes then no doubt they will seek to continue the militarisation of their Party.
It is rather astonishing to hear men who were at one time members of the Executive Council of this State arguing here that a political Party is entitled to adopt a military organisation in order to protect itself against attack. Since when did they discover that? Deputy O'Sullivan would not have attempted to make a statement of that kind three years ago. Are we to take it now that it is the considered opinion of Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy MacDermot that any political party is entitled to establish a military force to protect itself against attack? If it is entitled to establish such a military force, how far in that direction can it go? Must it stop at the equipment of its members with shirts, epaulets and bérets, and officering them with captains, colonels and generals, or can it go further and provide its members with rifles and machine-guns in order to protect itself against attack? One does not usually expect logic from Deputies opposite, but they should at least attempt to work out, in so far as they can, the logic of the arguments they have been using here this evening.
 The contention that this Bill was introduced here for no other reason except that the political Party which supports the Government wants to spite its political opponents is a very interesting one, having regard to the information given to Deputies by the Minister for Justice concerning similar enactments in other countries. Is it suggested that the Government in Belgium, Holland, Sweden or Switzerland enacted similar legislation for the purpose of spiting its political opponents? Is it suggested that the British Government is contemplating similar legislation for that purpose? Not at all. Legislation was introduced in those other countries, and is being introduced here, because as a post-war development there has been a tendency in many countries towards the militarisation of politics, which it is very necessary to arrest if democratic institutions are going to be preserved. We are in the very fortunate position that we have had vivid examples given us of the dangers of such developments. It is not a matter of speculation with us. We can see in many European countries this development of militarising of politics at its various stages, its incipient stages, its half-developed stages, and its complete stage. We can see them there. First of all one Party adopts a distinctive uniform. It does so on the pretext that it is necessary to organise some body in that way to protect the interests of its members, and they have always proclaimed that the uniformed body they organised was to be available to assist the forces of the State in the preservation of order.
In making the claim that the Blueshirt organisation here had such a purpose, Deputies opposite were not original. They were merely conforming to the type of such organisations in all countries. That is the first stage. The second stage is the incitement of disorder, because the putting on of a distinctive uniform and the regimenting of the supporters of a political Party in a semi-military organisation has led to disorder in all countries. It is a fact that there is danger arising when it is possible easily to distinguish one's supporters and one's opponents. Deputies may pretend  that there is no force in the argument put forward by the Attorney-General in that connection. There is very great force. Not merely does the wearing of a uniform promote in the mind of the individual wearing it a desire to support others in the same uniform in any action they take, whether that action is violent or peaceful, but the presence of such uniformed persons on the public streets seems, almost inevitably, to provoke extreme hostility among the opponents of that Party. That has been the experience not merely in this country but in Great Britain and in every European country. It is useless to pretend that only irresponsible supporters of Fianna Fáil react in that manner. The supporters of Fianna Fáil are no different in their make-up from the supporters of any other political Party in this State or in any other State.
Mr. Lemass: I have traced the first and second stage in the development of militarism in politics. The third stage is the dangerous one when the opponents of the uniformed force decide to uniform themselves. I think that even Deputies opposite can see  the danger that arises when that happens and is there any reason why it should not happen? If Deputies opposite insist that their constitutional rights entitle them to organise this semi-military and uniformed body, is there any reason why other political organisations in this State should not exercise the same rights? And once that happens, civil war becomes almost inevitable. Once that happened in other countries, civil war happened. That is the next stage and the fourth stage can be seen in to-night's issue of the Evening Herald in the headlines “Critical Day for Austria. Nazi Ultimatum to the Government Expires.” That is the next stage. Surely Deputies, with these examples before them, with these lessons to be learned from the contemporary history of other countries, are not hoping to get away with the very foolish contention that the sole reason behind this Bill is a desire on the part of the Government to prevent its opponents developing an efficient organisation?
These dangers have appeared and have caused concern to the Governments of Great Britain, of Belgium, of Holland, of Sweden, of Switzerland and of other countries, although in these countries there has been nothing approaching civil war for many centuries, although in these countries there has been stable government for many generations and although in these countries there is deep-rooted in the people a respect for the existing institutions and the existing forms. Here it is only a decade since there was a civil war that divided our people, and however great the dangers might be in great Britain or elsewhere, the dangers here are ten times as great and that is the reason why it is all the more necessary for us to adopt here the same measures that more stable and longer established Governments have had to adopt to meet the same situation. I think it is true to say that the bitterness created by the civil war that took place here in 1922 has been more intense during the past six months than it was in 1924.
Mr. Lemass: The question of the responsibility for that is one well worth discussing. When the civil war was over, those who carried the guns, those who fought on either side, were quite content to leave their weapons out of their hands——
Mr. Lemass: ——and call the war over. There was between those who fought very little of that bitterness at that time. The bitterness was created by the loud-mouthed politicians, the Deputies Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald-Kenney, O'Sullivan, and others, who went around the country deliberately fanning the flames of bitterness for Party purposes, and they have succeeded only too well. Since the day they quitted office here, they have been deliberately endeavouring to defeat the efforts of the Government to heal the wounds of the civil war; they have been deliberately trying to keep alive the hate and bitterness created in that period, because they believed it served their Party purposes, and even to-day they are trying to instil that bitterness and that hate into their children going to school so that the memory of the civil war will not die even with this generation. That is the greatest crime they have ever committed—a crime for which they do not deserve ever to be forgiven.
That was not an accidental development. It was done by deliberate design, upon express instructions issued by the headquarters of their Party to their local branches throughout the country to put their children into their Party uniform, so that these divisions would be brought even into the schools. The men who planned that, the men who conceived that, the men who thought that was going to serve their purposes, are men, in my opinion, not fit to hold any responsible position in this State, even as members of an Opposition.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Costello's two reasons against this Bill were, firstly, that it was, in his opinion, a Bill brought in against a political party, and the first of its kind, and, secondly, because it was an invasion of individual rights. The Constitution and the law of this State guarantee to everybody the right of free association for lawful purposes, and Deputies opposite can exercise that right. As a political party they can organise themselves to the nth degree. They can establish their branches in every part of this country and no one is going to interfere with them. Nobody will attempt to arrest their director of elections a week before polling day; nobody will raid their Party offices or seize their Party literature. The only thing we ask of them is that they organise themselves as a political party for lawful purposes and not as a military organisation for some secret purpose which is occasionally revealed, but just as frequently contradicted. The only information we have about the purposes of the military organisation that these Deputies are now associated with was obtained from speeches made by the leader of that organisation. He talked of dictatorship; he talked of the reform of the parliamentary institutions of this State; he talked of abolishing democratic Government and instituting a new system upon which the people would be allowed to express an opinion after it had been in existence for five years. He talked of quite a lot of things in that strain from time to time. It may be that his new-found associates have instilled some sense into him, have taught him the futility of attempting to carry out any such programme in this country. But he has not said so himself. It is true that he does not appear to know very much about the type of political association he wants to establish in this country. As the Minister for Justice says, his knowledge of Fascism appears to have been acquired during a fortnight's cruise in the Mediterranean. But he has made  it quite clear that Fascism of some kind is the type of political association he wants to establish in this State.
Deputy Costello here to-day also made the same statement. He said the Blackshirts won in Italy; the Brownshirts won in Germany and the Blueshirts will win here in Ireland. That brings very forcibly before the Dáil another stage in the development of militarism in politics that I have not mentioned up to the present. I mentioned the first stage where political uniforms appear for the first time. The second stage where public disorder takes place; the third where an opposing uniformed force is organised and an attempt at civil war is created; the fourth, when one of these irregular private armies feels strong enough to dictate to the elected government as has taken place in Austria, and there is a fifth stage when one of these private armies succeeds in overthrowing the elected government and establishing itself in the position to dictate to the people of that country. It may be true that democratic institutions as we have known them in this country and as we have seen them operate in other countries are open to reform, but if they are to be reformed it must be by the deliberate and clearly expressed will of the people operating through existing institutions——
Mr. Lemass: ——not a reform imposed upon us in the manner in which it was attempted to be imposed in other countries. It is not for us to criticise the action taken in Italy or in Germany. The people of those countries are entitled to have whatever type of institutions they like. But we are going to see to it that in this country similar institutions are not going to be imposed upon the people and that if they come into existence it will be by the development of existing institutions and the free will of the people. If Deputies opposite have the same views they can strip themselves of their shirts, disband their military organisation and confine themselves to political activity of the ordinary kind,  because that is all that will be necessary. This Bill, we are told, is an invasion of individual rights. The Constitution guarantees to Deputies opposite the right of free speech.
Mr. Lemass: If Deputies opposite did not get free speech it was not the fault of the Government. We were told the A.C.A. was brought into existence because Deputy Cosgrave was not allowed to address a public meeting in Cork. Deputy Cosgrave can ascertain from General O'Duffy, at the time Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána, what were the instructions he got from the Government about the preservation of freedom of speech.
Mr. Lemass: I want any Deputy opposite to tell us what further instructions might have been given by any Government anxious and determined to secure the preservation of the right of free speech for all the people, even those politically opposed to them?
Mr. Lemass: Interruptions at public meetings took place before this Government came into office. There were often scenes of disorder at public meetings before this Government came into office. I think that it will be generally agreed that the elections of 1927 were in the main more violent than the election of 1933. The Government who were then in office had at their disposal all the forces of the State to preserve order.
Mr. Lemass: That is the type of sedition that is spoken around the country. That is the type of speech made up and down the cross-roads of the country by Deputies opposite in the hope that they will convince the poor mugs following them that in acting against the Government they are acting within the law. If there is another civil war or disorder the responsibility will rest on men like those on the opposite benches.
Mr. Lemass: As a member of the Government I have to say that every reasonable precaution that could be taken to secure the right of free speech at public meetings was taken and that, in fact, we provided for the responsible heads of the Gárda Síochána much more adequate resources to that end than our predecessors had done and we are continuing to do it. The right, the duty and the obligation of preserving order at public meetings is ours and we are not going to pass on that responsibility to any others and we are not going to allow it to be usurped by others either.
I am anxious to get some insight into the mentality of the Deputies opposite. Deputy Costello spoke here about this Bill being designed to prevent the normal development of political Parties in this State. He talked about our inadequate political education due to the fact that this State was a short time in existence. What would they regard as the normal development of political Parties? I hope some member on the opposite benches will tell us what exactly Deputy Costello meant when he talked about preventing the normal development of political Parties in this State. This Bill is designed to prevent an abnormal development taking place in the country, and to force all Parties to conform to what heretofore has been regarded as the normal course of development of politics.
Mr. Lemass: The only information I have about the I.R.A. was given in a speech by General O'Duffy, who said that they are all joining the Blueshirts. Deputy O'Sullivan says that the President wants to dictate not merely the tactics of his own Party, but the tactics of his opponents. If the President was allowed to dictate the tactics of the Party opposite they would be a lot better than they are. I suggest that the biggest mistake they ever made was opposing the introduction of this measure. I thought that responsible members of that Party would have been delighted to see this Bill before the House as affording them a way out of a very awkward situation into which  they allowed themselves to be dragged. I am quite certain that there are in that Party a number of men who do not like the course of events in recent weeks—a very large number of them who were never noted for the zeal and enthusiasm with which they sacrificed themselves for any cause in the past and who do not like the prospect of having to make a sacrifice for a new cause in future. I suggest to them that they should take the opportunity of securing the passage of this measure either by voting for it or taking the course which is more likely to commend itself to them, of staying away and not voting at all, because the passage of the Bill will not merely serve the governmental aim of preserving order and securing normal development in the political situation here, but will also help them to rectify some of the blunders made by their leaders and get out of a situation in which, I am sure, very few of them are comfortable.
Mr. P. Hogan: (Galway): Deputy Lemass is Minister for Industry and Commerce, but he will never be more than a Party politician, and he will never be more than a cheap-jack. Whatever brains he has, that is all he is.
Mr. Hogan: That is the sort of thing we have to put up with. I would rather have that from that Deputy than a compliment, because I regard him as nothing but a creature. Let me deal with this man who is going out of the House now.
An Ceann Comhairle: I do not want any veiled questioning of the Chair's ruling. Ministers in this House must be referred to as Ministers. I have listened to most of this debate and I have not heard any personalities introduced into it up to now.
Mr. Hogan: Better late than never. The Minister for Industry and Commerce stated that the difference between the people who followed him, or who followed the Fianna Fáil Party, and the people who followed us was that his followers were sensible and that ours were not. I did not get up to say anything bitter. The fact that I have been away from this House for some time, perhaps, has put me in a better position to judge and I say with all the experience of the last 12 years as a Minister and in Opposition and after seeing the Party opposite in Opposition and in power that the real difference between the two Parties and between their followers in the country is this, that we are fit for self-government and they are not. That is the distinction.
Mr. Hogan: I commend that to the Labour Party. To listen to this debate and to read this Bill would make any Nationalist in this country, or any man with a Nationalist tradition sorry—it would make him sad. The Minister for Industry and Commerce made, I am quite willing to admit, quite a clever debating speech. I have been watching him, however, and his persistent rôle in this country and in the politics of this country for the last seven or eight years is the rôle of a man who deliberately sets out to  darken counsel. I heard all these terms—militarism, militaristic, military organisations—thrown across the House. What is the idea of using those terms in an equivocal sense? Any one or two or three might differ on the definition of the words militaristic, militarism or military organisation. There is nothing to prevent any Minister getting up and accusing this Party of being a military organisation. There is nothing to prevent me from getting up and accusing members of the Party opposite or the I.R.A. of being a military organisation. Leave out those words. Is not the real issue here—and I put this to the Labour Party—that action is being deliberately taken against an organisation which is keeping within the law? Members of the Labour Party especially know well that the word “militaristic” is being prostituted in the mouths of Ministers. They were fed and suckled on militarism. The Fianna Fáil Party were fed on it; they got their inspiration and their strength from it. They used it—and well the members of the Labour Party know it—to destroy the State, to corrupt and intimidate the country. They did it and they gloried in it up to two years ago.
It does not matter about those words militarism, etc. They do not count. We can all use those words. Let us get down to the meaning of them. There is one principle in this country that we might all unite upon. We hear calls for unity in this country time and time again—unity on this issue and on that issue. Should we not unite on this issue—that every man in this country must keep within the law? I go further and say that every man in this country is entitled to exercise his legal rights, and that is even more important. If all Parties cannot join on that fundamental principle then face up to it that this country is not fit for self-government. That is the long and the short of it. All the jargon and the pettifogging and the equivocation of the Minister for Industry and Commerce or of the Attorney-General will not blot out that fact. I commend that to the Labour Party. It is not to-day or yesterday that I  stated that and believed in it and worked for it. I always believed in majority rule and I always believed in the rule of law. But I have enough civilisation, if you like, I have enough of international standards in me, of education, of ordinary decent instincts to know that there is no safeguard for the law if the law breaker on the one side is not dealt with and if the peaceful man on the other side is not allowed to exercise his legal rights. There is no safeguard for the law here to-day. What is the position we are in? I say here, speaking for the Party to which I belong, that we are not allowed to exercise our legal rights. We are subjected to every form of blackguardism, every form of intimidation. Every form of cowardly and dark blackguardism and intimidation is being used against us in the country, and well you know it, and the Labour Party are standing for it.
Mr. Hogan: You have not got your price. Whatever any one of these Deputies may think, I think I had always a fairly liberal instinct. I always gave fair play to Labour and I think I have a good genuine outlook on the matter. Labour has been prostituted for the last year, and is finished in this country.
Mr. Hogan: I remember the liberalism displayed by the then Deputy Johnson when the Public Safety Bill was introduced. Worse than that, and what makes me sick, is that I believe he meant it. I sympathised with him. I believe he meant it, and I believe the Labour Party  meant it. What does it come to now? I had differences with the Labour Party. I had a different outlook, a different philosophy, if you like, on all these things, but I believed they were serious then. What do we come to now?
Mr. Hogan: We have the Labour Party standing for the most obscure and illiberal tyranny existing in Europe to-day. The Minister for Industry and Commerce had the assurance to tell us that we have the full benefit of the law. Look at my own county, Galway. We have two organisers and we have been engaged, as we are perfectly entitled, in organising for the last year. One of our organisers, a local man, was a candidate at the last election. He is a thoroughly decent young Irishman. He went into two areas, out of many, to attempt to form clubs. He was received in one place by a considerable section of people, but they were all dispersed. With what? With a rifle. They were fired upon—not fired at. After all, you do not need to fire into civilians to intimidate them. Of course we are getting used to that now. That is the trouble. These people were fired on. That meeting was interrupted and people were not so anxious to come the next time. At the next meeting when they came out from the meeting the place was riddled with bullets. That took place, let us say, to-day. What was the reaction of the State forces to that? Our organiser's house was searched. That man applied for a gun. Has he got it? No. And the Labour Party is standing for that. That man has got no gun, although he has been fired on twice. The last time it looked pretty nasty, but he has got no gun. Everybody in the district knows who were implicated in the outrages. Have they been arrested? Have they been questioned? Have they been put through the rather severe cross-examination that they might be put through under the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act? Not a bit of it.
Mr. Hogan: The reaction to that was that our organiser's house was searched. Yet the Attorney-General has the impudence to say that we have impartial administration of the law. I will give an example from another part of the country. There is a semi-reign of terrorism at the moment in Cork city. By whom? The I.R.A. Who are the I.R.A.? I defy anyone in this House to draw any distinction between the I.R.A. and the Fianna Fáil mob. They are working in, and always worked in.
Mr. Hogan: No. If there was he would be in Arbour Hill. I am in politics for 12 years, and hardly ever did I address a meeting that there was not gross intimidation and blackguardism prepetrated against me or my supporters by your followers. It got worse for the last two or three years, and particularly so during the last year. Things are getting better now and I can go anywhere to address a meeting. Why? The Blueshirts. There is no other reason. Here is a true story from Cork, one that happened in this land of liberty where we have a Fianna Fáil Government—with the British Government gone. We have an Irish Ireland now, a Gaelic Ireland, the sort of Ireland you would get from Deputy Cleary and those other liberty lovers. A young man in Cork, who was in the university, against whom there has been no charge, was walking out of a lecture when he was arrested by members of the new force. Present at his arrest was a prominent member of the  I.R.A., who accompanied them to the barracks, where this young man was left for a long period. He was finally brought before the Military Tribunal, charged with having a baton, but was acquitted. This young fellow was a good citizen, who always kept within the law. He was a decent, honest citizen, the sort of man that would be looked up to in any other country. That is the treatment he got. He was pulled up and brought before the Military Tribunal and acquitted, but he had spent a week or ten days in jail. What happened afterwards? His house was raided three times. He is a hardy fellow and dealt with the raiders each time. I am willing to admit that the men who raided him have been brought before the Military Tribunal, and that some of them were sentenced to-day. Who are they? They are members of the I.R.A. Every one of them are strong supporters of Fianna Fáil. Incidentally, one is a well-known robber, a man whose record was stated in court to-day.
Mr. Hogan: The Minister always gets hysterical and loses his nerve. Here is the point. If I could I would like to bring before all Parties the fact that this man is in danger of his life. I believe that. People I respect and trust in Cork believe it. Remember the last time his house was raided it was raided with guns. Only he is a very tough fellow, and only it is believed he is not alone that man is in danger of his life. He has applied for a revolver. Will he get it? Not at all. If he goes down the streets in Cork amongst any of those blackguards the I.R.A., or Fianna Fáil, who are armed,  he will be assaulted and blackguarded. He cannot even keep a baton in his pocket to protect himself. Is not that true?
Mr. Hogan: That causes a laugh. That that situation can be received here with a laugh shows that Party is not fit for self-government. There you have a young man who never committed an offence, whose personal character is above reproach and who is a good, decent, Irish citizen. He has been attacked and blackguarded with impunity by your supporters in Cork. He himself has been brought before the Military Tribunal. He has been acquitted by the Military Tribunal, but his house has been raided on three successive occasions since by blackguards with guns. That man's life is in danger, or was in danger, and certainly would be in danger but for the fact that he is a tough man and a member of an organisation. He will not get a gun and he has even been penalised because he carries a baton. What is he to do?
Mr. Hogan: I will come to that. That man now will not get a gun. Why? He cannot even carry a baton. He is a hardy man and ready to put up with a good deal of blackguardism, but is it fair to expect an ordinary citizen of the country to have to put up with that sort of thing before he can exercise his legal rights and go into a political organisation? Is that your idea of liberty, and is that the liberty that we are to have in this country? That is the treatment that we are getting. I have addressed meeting after meeting in the County Galway within the last two years. At every meeting, before, during and after there were determined attempts  to intimidate our followers by your supporters, by Fianna Fáil supporters and by the I.R.A. They are both the same—they are mixed up and they are playing into each other's hands. A year ago, before a meeting word was sent round: “Do not go to that meeting; you are marked.” Their children were shouted at going to school; they were told they were traitors and that they were playing England's game.
Mr. Hogan: That is the sort of thing that we have to put up with in Galway. That is the way to get away from the civil war atmosphere. During our meetings, a year ago, what used to happen? You might have a meeting of 500 people at a cross-roads, or 1,000 or 2,000 people at a town meeting. Two hundred young fellows would be there. They would keep interrupting, causing confusion and blackguarding generally during the whole meeting: slinging stones and endeavouring to intimidate middle-aged people—endeavouring, in other words, to show that it is bad business to be identified with that other political Party.
Mr. Hogan: Has there been a single meeting of your supporters attacked? Of course you will find exceptions to the rule, but would I be right in going this far: that there has scarcely been one single act of blackguarding at the expense of your Party? Does all that arise by chance? It does not, and I will tell the House afterwards why. Now it was absolutely essential for our  political life that that sort of thing should stop. The Government were not stopping it, and the Guards were not stopping it. Why would the Guards stop it? What has happened? Take a big meeting like Castlebar. You had four, five or seven thousand people attending there and three or four hundred brats—that is the only word I can use. They kept up a constant din, throwing stones, trying to cut off the loud speakers and so on. What did the Guards do? They do what they are told and no more. They draw a cordon between these three and four hundred and the seven thousand people, so that the three hundred or four hundred people are free to interrupt the meeting, to create all the confusion possible and carry on this blackguardism under police protection. That is what it comes to. I do not blame the Guards. That is Government policy. I put this to the Minister for Justice: I have seen that occur time and time again at our meetings. I have seen meetings where we had five or six thousand people present and where there were two or three hundred people making it impossible for us to speak. Were we free to do so we would remove these two or three hundred people in a short time. It would not take much to deal with some of them. But we dare not because the Guards were standing between us and them. Is there a single Deputy who has not witnessed the same kind of thing? I wonder is all that by chance? On the few occasions when the Guards did deal with them, what happened? The local Fianna Fáil club met and passed a resolution so that the Guards did not do it again.
I assure the Minister for Justice that I am not trying to make any debating points. I am only stating what I have seen all over the country. That has been my experience. I say that there has been a grossly partisan administration of the law. I say that, so far as the Attorney-General is responsible for it, he is prostituting his office, and I say that deliberately. There has been a grossly partisan administration of the law, and, worse than that, it is demoralising the country. Everyone sees it. So far  from giving an image of law to the country, so far from teaching the lesson that above all should be taught in this country: that every man must keep the law and at the same time that every man can exercise his legal right, what are you teaching by your actions, by the way you are handling public meetings? You are teaching this, that it is blackguardism, confusion and militarism is the thing that pays in this country, and that is what the Labour Party stands for.
Mr. Hogan: Give the Blueshirts another year and there will be no blackguardism, and if there is no blackguardism it will not be due to the Government. I noticed the other day that there was a strike of school-children. Why not? What have they been taught for the last three years? That indiscipline and disrespect for authority is the thing. Is not that what they have been taught? What is the attitude of the Party opposite on this Bill? Your admitted attitude is this: you may be within your legal rights in doing certain acts, but other people object and we are not going to attack the other people; we are going to attack you. What lesson is that for the country? It is this: that if you want a man to refrain from exercising his legal rights, or one organisation exercising their legal rights, take illegal action against them and you will be supporting the present Government. We had the example quoted by a Deputy on the opposite side in support of this Bill—the example of illegal action being taken against people who were exercising their legal rights. That is in support of this Bill. What demoralisation that must mean to the country. But now who are really to blame? The country is in a sad state, I admit, at the present moment. There is no conception of law in the country. There is every sign of trouble, of anarchy, of confusion; but who are really responsible for that state of affairs? The people who are responsible for it—and I charge them with it—are the members of the  present Government sitting opposite there. Look at what they have done. They have gone round the country— especially the President—naming us as traitors and telling the country that there is a war with England, and that we are supporting the English enemy. They have not gone so far as to say “They are traitors and give them a traitor's death; give them the treatment traitors should get.” They have merely said “They are traitors” and have left it to their followers to draw their own conclusions. I say that the man of all others most responsible for the present blackguardism and confusion, and for the breakdown of law in this country, is President de Valera. I have far and away more respect for the little blackguard that went in to raid the house in Cork than I have for the President. He is a better man than President de Valera. President de Valera is the real father to that man; it is he who made him and who demoralised him. It is that campaign of branding us, who are better men than ever you were, as traitors that has caused all the blackguardism, confusion and demoralisation in this country at the present moment.
Then we are told: “Look at what the English, the Swedes, the Dutch, the French, and so on are doing.” We are told that England does not need a Blueshirt organisation in order to maintain the law. England does not need it, but remember that England is a great country.
Mr. Hogan: Is. Remember that England is, and always was, a country with a great democratic instinct. What made England great? Respect for the law—the law made by themselves. I am not talking now of her relations with outsiders. What made her a great country? It is laughable to have us talking about and criticising England—a country with 40,000,000 inhabitants that started the same as we did, and here we are criticising like a terrier barking at her heels. What made England great was a liberal, decent instinct and a respect for the law and a belief in the majesty of the law. That is the reason she  does not need her Blueshirts. What is the position here? Where is the respect for the law taught by the Government? We have only partisanship of the worst kind and tyranny of the worst kind. We are told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that we have committed the unspeakable crime of putting children in our uniform. What is wrong with putting children in our uniform? Is the uniform illegal? If so, take us before the courts. Is it immoral? If so, take us before the bar of public opinion. You say that the objects we state are not our real objects. If you find that, prosecute us. Is not that the guarantee of all liberty? What is the use of Minister after Minister getting up and saying: “Your objects and your actions, your overt actions, may be all right, but in your hearts and minds you think differently”? That is the case made for this Bill. If the uniform is wrong, take us before the courts. I am not baulking at the word “uniform.” If it is wrong, take us before the courts. If our objects are wrong, bring us before the courts. If they are right, why should not our children get into that uniform, and who are you to complain that our children are getting into it? Look back on the last eight or nine years. Look at the children who went into the Fianna and look at what they were taught there in the name of nationality, in the name of progress, even in the name of religion. Look at all the murder that developed out of that organisation in the last few years. I will put this to the Minister for Education. Look at the lesson they got. Was it respect for authority or for the law or for majority rule? No, it was the exact opposite, and during the last eight or nine years, for your own dirty, party, political purposes, you made use of that organisation and of the children who went into it. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. What lesson did the man who went into the I.R.A. in the last eight or nine years learn—the I.R.A. that the President announced even two years ago were the really legitimate authority in this country? What  lesson did they learn? Am I stating a word that is not true? They learned disrespect for majority rule—the most obscure and arrogant and, I might add, inefficient type of militarism, that was not even able to fight but had to resort to murder. Is not that what they were taught and who took advantage of it? You did; not only up to 1931 but up to the last election. Look at the manifestos—“Vote Fianna Fáil anyway.” You took advantage of it and you will do it again.
You could ban what you liked if you gave a fair crack of the whip all round. I do not expect liberty from you. One can hardly expect liberty in any country. It is always a matter of circumstances. But we do want fair play. Fair play is greater than the Republic; it is greater than any of your political shibboleths, and the only way to inculcate it is to give equal law to everyone. Is there a Deputy there on the benches opposite who says we have got fair play? Why should we not get fair play? After all, we have put an image of law before this country, both in office and outside. We have fought for majority rule and established it. While we were in office we did try to give equal law. What was I told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and by the Minister for Finance a moment ago in an interruption? I was told that we have been consistently inciting the people to illegal acts; that we have been endeavouring to sap the authority of the Government and that we have been suggesting to the people that the present Government is not the legitimate Government. That would be a serious charge. If I thought that this Party did this, I would leave it, and so would every member on these benches. When and where have we been doing that? Actions speak louder than words. We taught and we spoke majority rule and we did majority rule for ten years. It was said by you that our belief in majority rule would only last as long as we were the majority and that the moment we became a minority people would see what respect we had for majority rule. That was your jargon. That was your propaganda, and you tried to corrupt this  country with it. Well, we became a minority, and what did we do—no thanks to us and no thanks to anybody in a minority in any country? We walked out. That was easy to do, but what did we leave after us—and it is by that you have really to judge us? We left an army as disciplined as the English army, and I could not give them higher praise than that. We left an army that are as much your servants as they were ours, even though they fought against you. Was not that a magnificent performance? Was not that a fine example to the country, if the people could only profit by it? We left you a police force and a loyal Civil Service. They would be loyal, in any event. We walked out and, since then, all that we asked were our legal rights. Whether you pass this Bill or not, the principle for which the Blue Shirts stand, the principle of “equal law for every body and every man within the law,” is going to win in this country.
Minister for Finance (Mr. MacEntee): “The principle of equal law for every man and every man within the law.” When Deputy Hogan talks in those terms, one is uncertain whether he is a cunning hypocrite or only a mere hoodlum.
Mr. MacDermot: On a point of order, at the beginning of Deputy Hogan's speech he was rebuked by the Ceann Comhairle for alluding to the Minister for Industry and Commerce as a “Cheap Jack.” The Deputy has been alluded to now as a “hooligan” or something more offensive.
Mr. MacEntee: It is necessary that I should say, on the facts before me, of which Deputy Hogan is aware and of which every member of the Government which was charged with the administration of the law from 1923 was aware, having listened to the speech Deputy Hogan has made and having heard him say that he, when in office, stood for the principle of “every  man equal before the law and every man within the law,” I do not regard Deputy Hogan as having made anything else than a hypocritical statement in using those words. Deputy Hogan made, in the course of his speech, great play of the fact that there are blackguards in this country, as there are in every country, and that they sometimes—unfortunately, too often—get away. Every time an offence has been committed against the liberty of the subject, every time that there has been violation of the right of freedom of speech and nobody has been punished, Deputy Hogan put the blame on this Government. Does he wish the record of this Government and of its predecessors to be judged by the same standard? Whom did his Government punish in 1931 for the murder of Armstrong or the murder of Superintendent Curtin? Whom did his Government punish in 1923 for the murders of Kahn and Goldberg, for the armed raid on the offices of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company in May of 1923, or for the armed robbery in College Green in August of 1923? Whom did Deputy Hogan's Government punish for these crimes? Will Deputy Hogan answer me that?
Mr. MacEntee: The man who committed these crimes, as I have already stated to-night, is a member of the Blue Shirt organisation at the present moment. He was allowed to go free even though those charged with the administration of the law at that time were well aware of the crimes he had committed, even though a member of the detective division identified him in a public court in February of 1924. That detective, when he referred to headquarters to ask whether he could arrest that man or not, was told he should not arrest him until he got further instructions. He received no instructions to apprehend that man until December, 1924, ten months afterwards——
Mr. MacEntee: When a man was arrested in December, 1924, a brother of one of the two men implicated in the shooting not merely of the man called Kahn but also of a man named David Miller, and when that man, on 23rd December, 1924, made a voluntary statement in which he said that not he but his brother had been guilty of that dastardly crime and that with his brother there was associated another man, what action did the Government take—the Government which, according to Deputy Hogan stood always for the principle of “every man equal before the law and every man within the law”? Remember the then Executive Council had information who these men were, and knew that on the night of the 14th November the two of them were missing from Beggars' Bush Barracks and were driving around in an Army car through the city. A member of the detective division—a detective-ser geant—identified the two of them in Green Street Courthouse on 22nd February, 1924. I have it here on record that, when he communicated this fact to his superiors, he was told not to take action and not to dare to apprehend the men until he received further instructions from headquarters. He received no instructions from headquarters——
Mr. Dillon: On a point of order, I understand that the rules of this House provide that when a Minister purports to quote from a confidential document,  the document must be laid before the House. I assume that the rule will be applied in the present case. The Minister has drawn our attention to the contents of his file and he has stated that he is quoting from a document in that file. I submit that the Minister should in those circumstances conform to the rule and lay the document on the Table.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: When a document is quoted from and a demand is made that the document be laid on the Table of the House, the person using the document must either cease to quote from it or lay it on the Table. I did not understand the Minister to quote from a document. He said he had it on the file.
Mr. Dillon: The Minister held up to the House a confidential file and said “I have here on this file a categorical statement that two men left Beggars' Bush Barracks and travelled through the streets in an Army car——”
Mr. Dillon: I am making a point of order and I shall insist on making it. The clear implication was that the information the Minister was giving the House was contained in a document which is not at present before us. Having quoted so far from a confidential document, I submit that the Minister is bound to lay the document before the House.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There is a very material difference between quoting from a document and referring to it. Obviously, Ministers must have some source of information. These sources of information are contained in files. Unless the Minister gives us the exact words of a document, clearly he is not quoting it.
Mr. MacDermot: If the Minister says he has a document before him and holds up a file, the implication is that he is not giving the information which he purports to give from memory, but that he is quoting what is before his eyes.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: No. The Minister has not quoted any words from the document. He has merely stated that he has the information on his file. I might say that I knew something which is contained in this book, but if I did not use the exact words, I should not be quoting.
Mr. O'Neill: He has threatened the House that he has the information on a file and it is possible to take words out of their context and give them a meaning which they ordinarily would not have if the whole information were before the House.
Mr. Dillon: With great respect, I submit that the words are taken from a document upon their construction and, therefore, the rule of the House is that the whole document will have to be submitted. I submit that when isolated facts are quoted from a document in a Minister's hands the same rule should apply, and the whole document should be submitted to the House so that the House can see the facts in their proper surroundings.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Extracts were not quoted. The Minister did not quote any words from the file. He said “it is here in this file,” as I might say certain words were here in this rule book, but he did not quote the words.
Mr. MacEntee: I did not read a single date out of this file. The dates are fixed in my memory. If anyone read this file, as I have read it, the details of this horrible incident would never be absent from his memory; he could, if he desired, at any time recall them. They were recalled to my memory by the speech of Deputy Hogan, who said he was a member of the Government that regarded every man as equal before the law and that insisted that all men  should live within the law. I said a detective sergeant of the force recognised, within the precincts of a court, in this State, two men whose descriptions were given to the police authorities by one of the men attacked upon the occasion to which I have referred, and who, more fortunate than Kahn, escaped with his life. The detective communicated that fact to his superior officer and was told and instructed to do nothing until he received further instructions. One would think that he would receive such instructions by return with the telephone receiver still in his hands, but he was told to do nothing. Yet we are told now that all men were equal before the law. One would think that he would have been ordered to do his duty by the laws of God and the community and bring these men whose hands were red with the blood of their fellowmen to justice. He received no instructions, I repeat, until the 22nd December, more than 12 months after the date of the murder, and more than ten months after he had identified these men in court. Then he arrested one of them, the driver of the car, the brother of one of the murderers, who confessed he was there that night. I shall read the whole document if you like. There was now before them the confession of one of the gang that these two people had been implicated in this murder. Did they go then and immediately arrest these men? Not at all. They did not apply for a warrant until the 6th March, 1925. Then, when the essential witness in the case, the driver of the car, was brought up, and was acquitted of the charge of murdering Kahn, and when he had yet to stand his trial for shooting at with intent to murder Miller, instead of opposing bail and holding him in custody, as an essential witness, in the prosecution against the other men, what did the then Government that we are now told stood for equal and impartial enforcement of the law do? They allowed that man to get bail and abscond in July, 1925, so that the essential evidence in the case was wafted out of the country. Now the witnesses are gone, but the criminals came back and some  of those men—I am giving no names— are known. Deputy O'Higgins knows them well and knows some others who were accomplices in this crime as accessories after the fact, they made themselves that by destroying attendance books in Beggar's Bush Barracks in order that the police might not get to know them.
Dr. O'Higgins: As a matter of personal explanation, the Minister says I know the names of certain individuals whom he refuses to name. I wish to deny that most emphatically. That statement is not true.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: This is really a serious charge made against a member of this House. I want to know what the Minister is talking about. Does the Minister suggest that I was associated with the murder of Kahn or of anybody, or whether I sheltered, subsequent to the murder, a person responsible for murder? I would ask, in view of the position of members of this House, that the Minister should state here and now whether I was or not?
Mr. MacEntee: If the Deputy thinks I said so, I withdraw it. If  the Deputy wants more information he can put down a motion on the Order Paper, or he can get Deputy Cosgrave to put down a motion inquiring into the statements I am making now. Let Deputy Cosgrave put down a motion of that kind and we can have an inquiry. I am merely now dealing with the hypocritical statement of Deputy Hogan that when he was a member of the Government that Government regarded all men as equal before the law, and made certain that all men should live equally within the law.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am at a loss to know the relevancy of all this. I think the Minister has been allowed sufficient latitude in dealing with the statement of Deputy Hogan in reference to all men being equal before the law.
Mr. MacEntee: I am showing these men are Blue Shirts now and if there was no other justification for banning that organisation, but enlisting these men who must be known to men in that organisation, who knew that they were enlisting men who were guilty not of one murder but of more, that was more than sufficient justification.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: I feel that the fact of charging anybody with murder or with knowing that persons moving around the streets of Dublin with Blue Shirts were implicated in murder, is not what one should expect from the Government Benches. I think we are entitled to have it stated whether there are any persons wearing Blue Shirts in this country who were guilty of murder as the Minister has stated.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Let us be clear about this matter. In my opinion there is too much talk about  murder. There has been talk from the Opposition Benches regarding certain associations in this country. There has been talk of murder by the Minister for Finance regarding certain times without particular reference to associations. I think there has been too much talk of murder and we might get more helpful criticism if we followed the subject matter of the Bill.
Mr. Bennett: The Bill we are discussing is to deal primarily with a certain organisation. It is candidly admitted by the Government that the object of the Bill is to ban the Blue Shirts. The Minister for Finance has stated, as an argument for the Bill, that certain murderers have been recruited into the Blue Shirts. We now ask him to prove that false statement.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister has not indicated specifically any persons so that nobody can be recognised as the persons to whom he refers. The Chair has no function in the matter if nobody can be recognised. If the Minister had mentioned anybody I would ask him to withdraw.
Mr. Bennett: On a point of order, the Minister has said that we are recruiting murderers into the Blue Shirts. That is a statement that the Minister should not be allowed to make and we will not stand for it.
Mr. MacEntee: I do not remember that when Deputy Hogan said that whom he alleged was an I.R.A. man, was a well-known robber, that I heard any shouts of indignation from the Back Benchers. I did not hear Deputy O'Sullivan getting up and asking Deputy Hogan to withdraw, as I did not hear Deputy Bennett asking him to withdraw.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: I do not want to cause any scene in this House but I must say that I must leave the House if the Minister will not withdraw the statement that persons have been recruited into the Blue Shirts who are guilty of the murder of Kahn, as he said on Friday last. I would ask the Chair to ask the Minister to withdraw that statement because you know, sir, that the Minister and his associates are now responsible for the government of this country and if they think that a person is guilty of murder, they can have that person arrested. I certainly shall not be associated with any such statement. I think it is a cowardly statement for the Minister to make.
Mr. O'Sullivan: I said that it was a cowardly statement on the grounds that the Minister gets up and associates me and other members of the Party here and outside who wear blue shirts with persons who were, as he says, guilty of murder. If that is not a cowardly statement, I withdraw.
Mr. Bennett: On a point of order, until the Minister withdraws his statement I intend to take the same action as Deputy O'Sullivan. Unless the Minister is asked to withdraw, or withdraws of his own goodwill the statement made that the Blue Shirts are murderers, I shall not remain in the House and listen quietly to the Minister. Rather than upset the dignity of the House by interrupting the Minister, as I shall be compelled to interrupt, I shall withdraw.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: The fact has been mentioned that all men are equal before the law and that the law is above all men. It has been said that I have been associated with persons who have stood for that principle. I am sure the Minister does not quite understand what I have said, but if he does not withdraw I shall have to withdraw from the House. He has said that persons who were wearing blue shirts were comrades of murderers.
Mr. MacEntee: I am perfectly certain that Deputy O'Sullivan would never knowingly associate with a person of that type. That is as far as I am going. I am not going to allow my regard for Deputy O'Sullivan to throw a cloak over another person.
Mr. O'Sullivan: If you make that ruling I must accept it but I am sure that even his own Party realises that that is an unfair, indecent and, shall I say, almost a cowardly statement. I want to say that I personally do not know, and that I did not know in 1923 or 1924, when that man was murdered, who murdered him and I had nothing to do with the Beggar's Bush records.
Mr. O'Neill: On a point of order, the Minister stated that certain murders had been committed and that the people guilty of them had not been brought to justice owing to the connivance of Deputies on this side.
Mr. MacEntee: I am sorry that I had the misfortune to be in the House when Deputy Hogan was speaking, otherwise I should not have referred to this incident  at all, but I knew it was well within Deputy Hogan's knowledge. I do not want to say any more than that. I do ask what is the purpose of an organisation which would knowingly or unknowingly, wittingly or unwittingly, have men of that sort in its ranks? Let them expel them. We are told by Deputy Hogan about the I.R.A., and he states “There is no distinction between them and the Fianna Fáil mob.” There is no Fianna Fáil mob. There never has been a Fianna Fáil mob. Those who are members of the Fianna Fáil organisation are decent, law-abiding, honest citizens who, in putting a Government like this in power——
Mr. MacEntee: ——have given the fullest possible acceptance to the principle of fair-play without which, Deputy Hogan said, there could be nothing in this country. In what way can you accuse us of having violated that principle? Deputy Hogan referred to all the public services. It is quite true that we have no reason to doubt the loyalty of any one of these services, but can anyone say that we had any hand, act or part in manning these services? We came into office with our followers starved and hungry after ten years; many of them had been denied the right to earn a livelihood in their own land. We came into office after four years in which it was a common, everyday occurrence for the police forces of this State to be used to harry men, to arrest them in their employment, to take them from the bench or the workshop in order ultimately that employers would be compelled to dismiss them. We came into office after having seen hundreds of men brought before the Military Tribunal and convicted there. We saw an attempt made to sabotage the newspaper which we established.
The first thing the Commissioner of Police told us was that he had destroyed 20,000 files, some of them relating to members of the Government, many of them relating to our known supporters, 20,000 files in which we would have seen the names of every agent provocateur employed by our predecessors, the name of every intelligence officer and of every secret service agent. We could have told that man that we had no further use for his services, that he had been guilty of disloyalty to the Government elected by the people, the day after the result of the 1932 election was declared. Did we go back and try to open up any one of the things that we regarded as dead and wished to be buried in the past? No. Instead, we told the people that we were turning over a new leaf and that we were honestly seeking to end the bitterness and dissension of the civil war; that our desire was to bind together the people in one common effort, in one common toil and common labour for the common good of every man and woman in this country. I ask you if that was not giving practical effect to the principle of fair-play? The facts of the incident that I spoke about to-night were known to every member of the Government, and there are many more like it. It could be paralleled, but yet nobody has ever heard of it or found us trying to seek a mean Party vengeance for anything any one of us might have endured during the preceding ten years. What is the fair-play we hear so much talked about? I could tell stories of women who, when their husbands were in jail, were dismissed from their employment.
Mr. MacEntee: All the time that this Government has been in office they have tried to give effect to the principle of fair-play and there is nothing in this Bill that is contrary to the principle of fair-play. We have to take stock of the situation as we find it here, and it is a very dangerous one. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has already challenged the Opposition to answer this question: If you can put yourselves into uniform  for the purpose of protection, why stop at uniform? Why not revolvers and rifles and machine-guns? I would ask a further question in view of what appears in the newspapers this evening. Do your men not carry revolvers? Have they not rifles cached away and. God knows, don't we know that? Your own leader, General O'Duffy, has told us that Jerry Ryan and those others who left Templemore Barracks took a lot of military equipment with them. And if you are to wear uniforms and have rifles and revolvers are we going to put our organisation, and it is a more numerous organisation than yours, in uniform also? Are we going to give them rifles and revolvers and are we going to see the people of this country divided into two armed camps waiting for the day when one or the other, by a coup d'état, will overthrow the established Government of the country.
Mr. MacEntee: And yet that is the inevitable consequence of the policy which you are pursuing to-day. Either we agree that both Parties organise upon a militaristic basis or else we agree that the Bill now before the Dáil becomes law within the shortest possible time. That is the dilemma and there is no escape from it. We are told, and none of you deny, that the outcome which you are looking for in the present situation, in the situation which you are hoping will develop, is that which developed in Italy, is that which developed in Germany, is that which apparently is on the brink of development in Austria when the Party machine will dominate, not merely the Dáil and the Oireachtas, but will dominate the whole State and the whole people. That is the philosophy which is behind your movement, that it is inspired by introverted Communism which has been responsible for the development of a situation on the Continent in which every man must surrender himself to the State. Mussolini, we are told by Deputy Costello, has won; Hitler has won, and the Blue Shirts are going to have their victory, too. What sort of  a victory has been won in Germany? The most sacred rights of the individual are being made subject and inferior to the presumed advantage of the race and no man dare call his soul or body his own when the very foundations of Christianity are being assailed.
Deputy Cosgrave, last week, referred to the pronouncement of the Hierarchy, but I would ask Deputy Cosgrave to read the recent pronouncement of the Holy Father regarding this Hitlerism which, according to Deputy Costello, has won in Germany. We have Odin and Wodin-worship on the Continent, and there is an endeavour to establish an Eoinod cult here in Dublin. The great generalissimo is going to take the place of the pagan gods of Rome in the new mythology which is now being popularised. That is the sort of ideal that those people seek to attain, to establish here a corporative State, where a man will be no more in the community than an ant in a nest or a bee in a hive; where he will not be allowed to have a soul, to have nothing that does not belong to the great Magog that rules over him.
Mr. MacEntee: Those of us who are in this Party, in this Government, are here because we believe not merely in the principle of national liberty, but of individual liberty also. If this issue has to be fought out, whether it be fought out with private armies or public armies, fought out it will be before we will allow the situation which has developed in Austria to arise here.
Mr. Dillon: The Minister for Finance began his speech to-night with references to murder. The House should know and every Deputy should know that from every charge he made he ran away when he was challenged. Now, sir, I am not going to pursue the Minister into a discussion of events that took place ten or 12 years ago. I deplore their introduction here to-night and I think it is only right that the House should remember that in every single case where the Minister was challenged to produce his facts he ran away. The Minister began his  speech with talk of murder and he ended with talk of civil war. The Minister chose to say here, as a conclusion to his contribution to this most important debate, that if the policy of the United Ireland Party recommended itself to the people of this country——
Mr. Dillon: The Minister to-night alleged that the Blue Shirts were an armed force. If the Blue Shirts are an armed force this Bill is not necessary. If the Minister and his colleagues are doing their duty by this State, and can prove that the Blue Shirts are an armed force, it is their duty to suppress it and arrest its leaders.
Mr. Dillon: It is their duty to suppress it and to arrest its leaders, and that goes for the I.R.A. as well. If we are sponsoring in this country an armed force which carries arms without the authorisation of the elected Government of the people it is your duty to arrest us and make us responsible to the law. You are afraid to do that in respect of the leaders of the I.R.A. because the back benchers of your own Party are dependent on the I.R.A. to retain their seats by intimidation and they would not allow it; everyone knows they would not allow it. You are afraid to do your duty, which is to take the arms out of the hands of unauthorised persons in this country. You know we have not got arms, and that is the reason you have brought in this Bill. You have combed our records; you have searched our correspondence;  you have paid your spies; and you have been able to find absolutely nothing which would substantiate the case against us in any public court that we broke the law, that we assaulted any citizen of this State, or that we ever conspired against the institutions of this State. If you could find out any of those things you would not look for that Bill to break us; you would break us with the Public Safety Act; but you know perfectly well that there is sufficient public opinion in this country still to call you to render an account for doing that when you have nothing that you can prove against us. You can search our offices; you can search our letters; you can pay your spies; but you will find nothing, for there is nothing to be found.
Mr. Dillon: ——and I will challenge the Attorney-General that he knows there is nothing which justifies the suppression of the League of Youth; that he knows there is nothing, and that he has communicated that knowledge to his colleagues; that he is sponsoring this Bill in the knowledge that it is a tyrannical Bill—that it is a Bill directed to do an injustice against a law-abiding section of the community of this country. There was much talk here to-day about the endeavours of the Fianna Fáil Government to maintain peace and order at meetings. It was suggested by responsible Ministers that there was no serious disorder until the Blue Shirts appeared. I am sorry the President is not here. The President will remember standing in Glenties with me; he was addressing a meeting—it was at the time of the General Election of 1933—and I and my supporters deliberately kept away and avoided passing his meeting lest we should disturb it while he was speaking. When his meeting was finished our meeting began, and two of the most  prominent supporters the President had on his platform led a crowd down into the meeting which I was addressing and deliberately incited the people to shout me down. The President was sitting no farther from me while that was going on than that door is from me now. Two men who were standing on the platform with him ten minutes before I began to speak were two of the men who came down to interrupt my meeting.
Mr. Dillon: I will name them if the President challenges me. The President knows the names of both of them, for I took good care he should hear them. If you want those names ask the President to challenge me for them.
Mr. Dillon: Ask it when I have finished, and I will answer it. If the President challenges me for the names of those people, I will give them to him. That was the situation, and that situation was repeated at meeting after meeting all through the country. A small crowd of people, supporters of the President and of the Fianna Fáil Party, would come to our meetings and deliberately break them up. There is no use in maintaining the farce that it is possible for the Civic Guards to protect a meeting if an organised gang comes to break it up, because the very intervention of the Guards in endeavouring to peacefully  remove individual interrupters can effectively destroy a public meeting and prevent a person from addressing it.
I went, shortly after that, to Macroom. I there addressed about 700 people, and shortly after I began 30 or 40 supporters of the Government came down and started to shout “Up, de Valera” to prevent me from speaking. At that time the Army Comrades Association was in existence, but I had no connection with it. They stood for the right of free speech. About 60 members of the A.C.A. in Macroom went back and, in my hearing, said to those young men who had been interrupting “Now stop interrupting or go away and let the speaker address the meeting.” They would not do so. The man in charge of those A.C.A. looked up at me and said “Wait a minute, Mr. Dillon”; he then went back to those 50 men and wiped the square of Macroom with them, and there were no more interruptions. At the conclusion of that operation, when he had wiped the square of Macroom with them, there were no more interruptions, and I was able to hold my meeting, but if he had not been there not one word would I have been allowed to utter in the town of Macroom that day. It does not matter whether the people of Macroom were in my favour or against me. It was my right to go there and peacefully address a public meeting. That gang tried to stop me, and if it had not been for the A.C.A. that day I would not have been allowed to say a word and the Civic Guards could not have prevented the interruptions. What has been our experience during the last two months? When the Blue Shirts first gathered strength in this country we went down to Limerick, and one of the Fianna Fáil Deputies from Limerick, out with the crowd—I do not know what for—got a stroke of a baton.
Mr. Dillon: I do not give way. He got struck with a baton, in any case. I suppose he was going out picking  daisies in Limerick. I went up the main street in Limerick, and in every side street there was a Fianna Fáil gang pelting bottles at us.
Mr. Dillon: I saw men walking in blue shirts, with their heads split open and blood streaming down their faces and they never left the procession to strike a return blow so long as the march was going on to the place of the meeting. I saw that repeated here and there through the country until the beginning of this year and then I went to one meeting after another and there was not a stir or a whimper because the Blue Shirts were there. Until when? Until this Bill was published and the blackguards turned up at Kildare last Sunday. They are taking heart of courage again. They think that at last the Government has come to their aid after the Blue Shirts had wiped them out and restored the right of free speech, not only to me and everybody on this side, but to everybody on that side opposite, because no meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party has ever been interfered with.
Mr. Dillon: They have been revived by this Bill. We have heard to-night an attempt made to suggest that membership of the League of Youth is, in part, criminal. I have here a list of crimes, two or three outrages every day since the 1st of last October. I am not going to go into them——
Mr. Dillon: Here are the outrages and not one single one of those outrages can be brought home to a member of the League of Youth. Every single one of those outrages has been  directed against members of our Party or the property of members of our Party. They average two or three a day ever since the 1st of October. I am proud to say that in spite of the most savage provocation, there has not been one single act of retaliation by members of our organisation and I fervently pray that there may not be. I believe I can answer for the members of our organisation, that so long as they are given a fair chance, so long as they feel that the Government is not going to take the side of the blackguards and the murderers against them, there will be no act of retaliation. There has not been, and it is something we are proud of, but one would imagine that having a file of outrage and murder of that character before them, the Government would devote its attention to devising ways and means of bringing to justice the people who are responsible for these murders and for these outrages, outrages to which President de Valera referred not long ago. The President said:—
“The only names I can honestly apply to items in this list are outrages and crimes. The police, the guardians of order, have been attacked. Homes have been fired into. There have been several cases recently and it is a miracle that nobody has been killed.”
“Citizens have been assaulted. If a citizen does wrong, there is a way to bring him to justice. We want ordered society in this country, and if we have not that, then there is no future for the nation. Property has been wilfully destroyed. Organised groups have taken it upon themselves to decide, without any legal or moral right whatever, how much liberty their fellow citizens may enjoy.”
Every single one of those reproaches applies to the supporters of President de Valera himself and he went down to make them to his own supporters. It was to reproach his supporters in County Kerry that he went down to  Tralee. Having taken tea in Arbour Hill barracks the night before, he went down to Kerry the next day in order to tell them what naughty boys they were and this splendid high falutin' was indulged in. But how does the President evince his indignation at those outrages? How does he evince his resolution to deal impartially but courageously and strictly with the people who have been responsible for them?—by introducing a Bill to outlaw a body of young men in this country against whom he can bring no charge whatever except that they are opposed to his Party and opposed to the people who are responsible for the outrages which he condemned when he spoke in Tralee. How can any man with any sense of justice in him stand for something of that kind? Charles Lamb, the Essayist, divided men into two races—the men who borrow and the men who lend— but there is another division. There are the men who are born freemen and the men who are born slaves. The man who is born a freeman has a sense of justice and of liberty but the man born a slave has a sense of neither and it does not matter whether he is doomed all his life to be a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, he does not recognise injustice when he meets it—he lies down under it—or whether he is called to high office, he does not realise when he is doing injustice. He just does it whenever it suits his purpose.
I think it was the Attorney-General who said that the Government has got to bear in mind that organisations which, at first, seem quite innocuous may subsequently become very dangerous and that then the time has come for Government action. Dangerous to what? Where has there been any attempt made to prove before the bar of public opinion in this country that any section of our movement is dangerous to the institutions of this State? No attempt has been made because you know that you cannot prove it. There is no use charging us with desiring to set up in this country a pagan deity or a pagan religion. The Minister for Finance knows that that  charge is not true. It is just as futile and as silly and as imbecile as the charges that his meanest followers make down the country. He knows that the men on these benches have no such intention in their minds. What justification can there be then for introducing a Bill of this kind—the justification which the Attorney-General admitted by innuendo, that the Government has come to realise that if our movement is not a danger to the institutions of the State, it has become a formidable danger to the Fianna Fáil Government. It is no crime in this country to be a constitutional danger to the Fianna Fáil Government. The danger of it is that there is a frame of mind growing up along those benches and amongst the supporters of the occupants of those benches in the country, that any man who does not accept President de Valera's outlook is a traitor to Ireland instead of an opponent of Fianna Fáil.
There is all the difference in the world between a man who would not serve this country or who would help its enemies and a man who wants to deliver this country from the thraldom of Fianna Fáil. We are a danger and a growing danger to Fianna Fáil. It does not matter what Bill you introduce or to what lengths you go here in the way of coercion, you are done for and you know it. That is the situation: you are done for and you know it, and you are following the same old silly course that every British Government that was on the run in this country ever followed. You first begin to elaborate talk about conciliation. One can hear the accents of Buckshot Forster, “conciliate them,”“kill them with kindness.” Then you discover that you are dealing with people who cannot be dealt with in that way and then you get cold feet and you go for coercion. You explain your Bill and you say this Bill is not coercion but a shadow. You next find that the confusion you have brought about is worse confounded and you find yourself dragged down the slippery slope and that you are faced with the people rising up against you and sweeping you out of office. (Interruptions).
 Jeering will not help you; whistling to keep up your courage will not help you. It would be much better for you to realise that this country means more to us all than do our respective Parties. But you are disgracing this country in the eyes of the world. There is no country in the world to-day that has a Government practising tyranny on its people to the same extent to which you are. And you are holding up this country to the odium of the world. This country was maligned for generations by British politicians as a country not fit for self-government, not fit to govern itself. You as a Government are vindicating to-day all that these men said and you are plastering the reputation of every man who for generations staked his reputation on his faith in the fact that our people were fit to govern themselves. You are saying to the world that we are not fit to govern ourselves without instruments of tyranny being put into your hands in order to carry on the government of this country. It is nothing to be proud of. It is everything to be ashamed of. It is because you have forgotten that this country should mean more to us than any Party or Parties and it is because you are filled with fury against the Cumann na nGaedheal Government that you want to prove to us that they were murderers, dastards and traitors. What does it matter now if they were? What matters is the things we have before us. What consolation is it to the Minister for Finance to prove that the men who for ten years were the chosen leaders of this country, the chosen leaders of the Irish people, were murderers, dastards and traitors, even if it were true? I deny that it is true. Does it not redound to the shame of our people that for ten years they chose such people to lead them and to carry on the government of the country?
Is it a worthy thing to be flaunted before the world by a responsible Minister who, with the facts before him, comes here and before the world says that during the first ten years of Irish self-government, the government was carried on by murderers, dastards and traitors to the people? I  am satisfied that those gentlemen who constituted the Government of this country for ten years have very little to be sorry for, but it redounds little to the credit of the Minister for Finance to try to make such a case. The whole argument taken up by the Fianna Fáil Party and the whole line pursued by that Party and Government is calculated to blacken and disgrace the good name of the people of this country in the eyes of the world. And all that is being done for no reason except an attempt to get Party advantage.
Those Ministers know positively that there is no danger to the institutions of this State in any part of our movement. They know positively that not a single man sitting on these benches would continue in support of a movement that contemplated the possibility of the prospect of civil war in this country or aimed at upsetting the elected Government of the Irish people by a dictatorship. Not for one single moment. They know that. But nevertheless they want to destroy the rising tide of constitutional opposition. They hold up their own fellow-countrymen to the odium of the world. They hurl charges at us that we are conspiring to overthrow this State and that the only way in which to protect the State from us is by the introduction of coercion, which is unparalleled in the history of this country by banning the wearing of a blue shirt.
Mr. Dillon: We heard the Minister for Justice here when he asked leave to introduce this Bill. He rose and spoke in the most pious accents of his desire to restore peace in the country. Dismay was registered on the faces of his supporters when I drew attention to the fact that while Dr. Jekyll was expounding to the House the pious purpose of the Bill, Mr. Hyde was plastering out in the columns of the Irish Press that his purpose was to ban the Blue Shirts. But Dr. Jekyll is now thrown aside in this House and the Minister gets up and says: “I make no disguise about this Bill, it is not a Bill to preserve the public peace; it is a Bill to ban the Blue Shirts and I make no apology for it.” And then he tries to make a lame excuse and a lame case for the Bill.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce asks us why do we want to wear the blue shirts. The most potent answer I can make to him is this: six months ago his supporters, armed and unarmed, were able to go to our meetings and break them up. They were able to intimidate our people. They were able to threaten them, intimidate them and injure them in person and property. The Young Ireland Movement and League of Youth provided in their uniform a rallying point for the decent people of this country and after six months wearing of the blue shirts the Minister's supporters, armed or unarmed, are unable to face the boys who are wearing the blue shirts. That is why we are wearing the blue shirts. Because if the rights of public men or private citizens to go about their business undisturbed are to be preserved in this country, we need not look to the Government to preserve those rights because they failed to do so. We preserved these rights for ourselves and we will continue to preserve them. It is because we preserved these rights that an attempt is now being made to destroy our movement and to take away from us the rights we won with our own strong arms; rights which the Government has done nothing to preserve to the people.
Mr. Dillon: I used an expression which is perfectly clear to the Deputy. I said we won that right with our right arms. We carry no lethal weapons and we issued a challenge to the Government that if they found members of the League of Youth with arms let them arrest them. If they find that we are an armed body let them arrest us. I tell them here and  now that the I.R.A. is an armed body. It is their duty to take the arms off these people, but they are afraid to do it, because their own followers are in the I.R.A., their own followers here in the House are in the I.R.A. and they are supporting the I.R.A. and everybody knows it.
Mr. Dillon: Deputy Davin can intervene in this debate when I am finished and I will be glad to hear him. The questions which we have to consider here are nothing for jeers or jocularity. Deputy Davin will have to wake up to his responsibilities. He will have to give a vote and then we will see whether he stands for coercion or justice. The Minister for Justice has said that the powers in this Bill are no more than the powers which we put into the Public Safety Act and he asks why should there be any reluctance to give them the same powers as were put in the Public Safety Act. He says “we did not misuse the Public Safety Act.” He says that, while we have before us the flagrant misuse of that Act at Westport, was there not every attempt made to misuse that Act at Westport? Was there not an attempt made to arrest the leader of this Party at Westport and to hold him illegally in custody? But for the exercise of the functions of the courts which this Bill seeks to supersede the leader of our Party would be still in custody. Was it not the action in the High Courts which got him out of illegal custody? Why should we trust a Government that sought illegally to use the powers of the Public Safety Act? Why should the Oireachtas trust such a Government with the far more extensive powers of this Bill?
Mr. Dillon: I am going to finish what I have to say and then Deputy Davin can intervene to jeer or joke, whichever he likes. The last charge the Minister for Justice had to make to-day was that at every meeting where Blue Shirts appeared there was a disturbance. That is not true. It is  quite true to say that when the Blueshirts were growing in strength every meeting they appeared at there was a disturbance. There had to be a disturbance or we would not have been allowed to speak. There was just so much disturbance as was necessary to put the blackguards out of the crowd and to give the people who came there to speak the right to speak. There has been no disturbance of any kind at Blueshirt meetings for the last four or five weeks until this Bill was introduced. The moment the blackguards heard of this Bill or read of it in the Irish Press, they turned out again because they believed that the time had come for their immunity.
Mr. Dillon: I want the House to realise one or two points in this Bill which I do not believe most of the supporters of the Government have even bothered to read. All they wanted to know was that an effective instrument was being created to destroy their political opponents. They ought to read Section 7 (1) which makes it an offence directly or indirectly to incite, encourage or condone the commission of offences. So that any person now who dares to criticise a proclamation of the Chief Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána or the Chief Superintendent in his own area commits an offence under this Bill. We are now not only prohibited from doing certain things but we are going to be prohibited from thinking or saying them. That is Fianna Fáil liberty; that is the liberty which, no doubt, the Labour Party will play its part in ushering into this country. We have Section 11 under which every member of the Gárda Síochána is authorised to assault a citizen who he believes is committing a breach of the law. We have Section 12 (2) which withholds the right from the people of the country to appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction to review a decision of the District Court,  for no reason except that the Minister for Justice says that there will be too much time and money spent going from one court to the other. One wonders why he bothered to provide for the bringing of charged persons to court at all.
Mr. Dillon: If the Minister desires to dig up and delve in the memories of the past and model his court on what happened in this country in times gone by he is quite welcome to engage in that task, but I am not competent to advise him. I do not want to be dragged into a discussion of the Minister's past or the past of anybody else.
Mr. Dillon: I am not bit sorry for linking my fortunes with any colleague with whom I am associated. Any colleague I have got I am proud of him and I am glad and happy to be standing beside him. The Minister can set his mind at ease on that. So far as I am concerned, all I appeal to this House to do is to consider well what they are doing. Because the Government are afraid of the opposition which is growing up against them in this country this House is being asked to pass a coercion Act which leaves the worst of the British coercion Acts in the shade. This House is being asked to vindicate every enemy of Ireland who asserted that her people were unfit to govern themselves. This House is being asked to show the world that a Government elected by the Irish people is unfit to govern in Ireland without instruments in its hand that would bring the blush of shame to the cheek of a Czar of Russia. All that is being asked to be done while the Government cannot produce one scintilla of evidence against the League of Youth of having engaged in any sort of activity that constituted a danger to the institutions of the State. All this is being done while the Government have ample powers to deal with any danger that  might arise to the State. The introduction of this Bill is due to the one fact that the Government know, and I repeat again that the Attorney-General knows above all, that the activities and the programme of the League of Youth are legal, have been legal and always will be legal. This is being done while every member of the Government, and the Attorney-General above all, knows that this organisation has not, and never will, engage in any activities subversive of the institutions of the State. It is because they have that knowledge that they have to introduce a Bill of this kind.
They are asking the House without any reason, without any justification, with manifest injustice, to impose upon us the most ferocious measure of coercion ever introduced in this House. For five months we have stood disciplined and within the law in the face of intimidation, in the face of libel, in the face of assault, and in the face of murder. Those who perpetrated those outrages upon us are to go unscathed. They are to go uncondemned. They are to be looked upon by a great many members of the Party opposite as the real authority, the legitimate authority in this country. Those of us who have organised the young men of this country to go out unarmed, to go out bearing in mind always that the supreme authority in this country is the Government elected by the Irish people, are to be outlawed, to be coerced. We are the people to be dragooned while the others, who deny the right of this House to sit, who deny the right of the Government to be the Government,  are to be belauded as Irish patriots. We, who are working for Ireland and whose people were working for Ireland before a great many of the latter-day patriots were ever heard of in this country, are to be dragooned as the enemies of this country, as the servants of Great Britain and as suitable objects of Fianna Fáil coercion.
I know our record; I know what we have been doing and what we are doing for Ireland; I know what all belonging to us have been doing for Ireland; and if that is deserving of Fianna Fáil censure, I am proud to be deserving of it. You may pass all the coercion Bills you like; you may go to any extreme and hold this country up to any odium before the world that you like; but, sooner or later, by constitutional means and by the vote of the Irish people, we will clear your Government out. It will be a long and weary job to get the name of this country back where it ought to be. You have tarnished and disgraced it. But there are still sufficient decent people here to recover all the ground you have lost. I believe that, perhaps, sooner than most of you imagine, the people will give us the right to undertake the work; and when they do we will undertake it just as lawfully and just as solicitously for this country as we have been working for the last two years.
|Last Updated: 17/05/2011 15:19:44||Page of 16|