Appropriation Bill, 1934—Second Stage.

Wednesday, 4 July 1934

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 53 No. 11

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[1352]Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Mr. O Ceallaigh): Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  A very considerable sum of money is being appropriated under this Bill. It includes increased cost for the Army, increased cost for the Civic Guard, increased cost for the Secret Service. Different aspects of these have been discussed on the Estimates. The general policy of Ministers has been discussed and the very small results that are coming from the enormous amount of effort that they are putting, in a legislative way, into the development of industries. We hear that a factory for the manufacture of boot laces is to be established in Ennis; a factory for electric wires in Enniscorthy; and for vegetable oils in Drogheda. The Press can be informed officially that all these things are going to be done, that five new factories are to be established; four with known whereabouts, and one for buttons, as to which it is not known yet where it is going to be set up. While official information can be given to the Press and to the country as to five factories which are going to be built, no information can be given as to where the 100 factories are that the Minister for Industry and Commerce told the House the other day had been set up during the last 12 months. The half-yearly return as to employment in certain industries, tariffed under the previous Administration, has been choked off. Where information is available as to where the employment is, the Minister for Industry and Commerce now refuses to tell us in respect of how many factories that information is collected; and in the greater number of these industries the Minister informs us that he would be very glad to give us all the information given in the past, but that the manufacturers do not give him that information now. The whole thing, together with the unemployment we see outside and the vain search for work in new industries which we see going on, is a commentary on the industrial policy of the [1353] Government into which, as I said, so much legislation is being put. The agricultural industry talks for itself, but all over the country the endeavour is being made to cloak the condition of things that exists by the type of policy that the British Government pursued here so effectively and so determinedly for so many centuries— that is, divisions and bitternesses. Partial justice is being administered in every part of the country, and that is resulting in the stirring up of feeling, the developing of disturbances, all hiding what the actual economic and social facts in the situation are. Incidentally, it is taking, I might say, from every Party in the State, a very considerable amount of energy and attention that ought to be given in a peaceful and straightforward way to dealing with the problems that confront the country.

It is to some aspects of what is going on in that way that I would like to address my few remarks on this Bill. We have the increased cost of the Army, the new definitely partisan force that is being organised, and the fact that the men are being thrown out of the Reserve week after week because they do not belong to the Party the Minister for Defence belongs to. The Guards have been increased in numbers. The Secret Service Vote is being increased, and the policy of the Minister for Justice, who declared in County Mayo two years ago: “Get the accursed crowd out of our way,” has been gradually developed in a very ruthless way, and we see the effects on the people generally. The Minister told us to-day that in connection with the violence and disturbance that took place in Drogheda on 27th May only three persons have been charged. The Minister protested very definitely that the police had no information as to who the disturbers were, that no persons were being charged, but that two individuals who were injured were pursuing charges themselves. It required repeated questions here to get the Minister for Justice and the Guards to pursue very definite and organised and serious crime.

There was a meeting in Drogheda on 27th May last. It had been advertised [1354] for some time that the Fine Gael Party were having a large meeting in Drogheda. We were told that certain classes protested against the Fine Gael Party being allowed to hold that meeting in Drogheda. They organised a protest meeting. There were no steps taken on the part of the Guards or on the part of the Minister to warn the persons organising the protest meeting that they would be held accountable for any disturbance that took place. The Minister, however, took precautions. He brought 250 Guards into Drogheda. Notwithstanding that, a series of the most disorderly events took place. A large number of houses had their windows broken; motor cars had their glass smashed. There was no success in interfering with the meeting itself, but persons who left the meeting to go to refreshment rooms in the town were beaten and the windows of the refreshment rooms where they went were broken in. Twenty persons were injured and, generally, over a protracted period, particularly after the Fine Gael meeting was over, there were scenes of violence and disorder, and a considerable amount of destruction was caused to persons and property in Drogheda.

On 7th June, I asked the Minister “Are the police in a position to identify anybody in connection with this violence?” and the answer was “No.” That is one instance. There were 250 police brought in to deal with a situation in which there was very definite warning of disturbance, because a certain Party was organising a protest meeting against persons who were merely exercising their normal rights. There was no warning that anyone would be held responsible; no arrests; no identification by 250 Guards and then, only when persistent questions arose here, the Minister for Justice is driven in a shame-faced kind of way to do something and there are three persons to be charged in connection with this.

In Waterford there was a scene of further deliberate and organised disorder directed against a political party because there are parts of that political party in formal opposition at the moment. The Irish Independent of 30th April says:—

[1355]“The disorder began when several prominent members of Fine Gael were attacked as they were leaving the headquarters of the League of Youth in Lady Lane. Though outnumbered, the men defended themselves, but were forced to retreat to their headquarters.”

The Guards arrived, but there was no interference and no identification. Persons attacked members of the League of Youth; they entered their hall in Waterford and had to be ejected by the members of the League of Youth by force. Instead of taking action against the persons guilty of the disorderly conduct and the outrageous attack on the political club, the club was searched for arms. The Minister for Justice said the search of the club was because of information received. Members of the League of Youth in Waterford that night were searched for arms. The Minister, when he was questioned as to what was being done to identify and charge persons responsible for this attack on a political organisation in Waterford City, said that no one had been identified. The Minister implied that he got no assistance to identify the persons who were guilty of these offences. I think as late as a week ago he said that he had not had information. The facts are that on the following day, 30th April, a statement was made to a responsible sergeant in Waterford and the names and addresses of some of the persons responsible for the outrage were submitted.

The Guards themselves, as the Minister is aware, saw a considerable amount of the whole business. Again, pressed in connection with the matter, he tells us to-day that charges are being made, but it required pressure by question from the end of April until now to drag from the Minister an admission that he was prepared to shoulder his statutory duties and to see that the Guards identified and prosecuted those people. He completely misinformed the House, however, when he told us that he had no information or that the police had no information as to who the persons were. The police were informed the [1356] day after of the names and addresses of some of the persons, at any rate, who were responsible for those attacks. Let us turn then to County Leitrim. The Fine Gael Party proposed to have a public meeting in Mohill on Sunday, the 29th April. The circumstances that attended the holding of that meeting were detailed by the State Solicitor, by the chief superintendent of police, and by the District Justice himself before the court in Carrick-on-Shannon on the 20th May. At any rate, a platform was set up in Mohill for the holding of this meeting, and on the night of Saturday, the 28th-29th of April a mob invaded Mohill, proceeded to paint up the town and destroy the platform. When police interfered arms were produced and shots were fired. The State Solicitor, in putting the case before the District Justice, said, as quoted from the Irish Times of the 21st May:

“A shot was fired, and an attempt made to take possession of the Civic Guards barracks, while at the same time the platform for a U.I.P. meeting was seized and set on fire with petrol.”

Superintendent Ryan said to the District Justice:

“I have no hesitation in saying, from information in my hands, that there was an organised attempt to seize the barracks and run the Guards out of Mohill.”

The District Justice declared at the end of the case that the Guards' barracks would have been taken and burned to the ground but for the superintendent's action.

Now, a shot was fired and an attempt made to seize the barracks, and we have the declaration from the superintendent that from what he knew it was their intention to seize the barracks and drive the Guards out of the town. After hearing all the facts, the District Justice is driven to make the statement that the Guards' barracks would have been taken and burned to the ground but for the action of the police. When the persons guilty of this offence were charged and brought before the District Court, the State Solicitor says that if the defendants [1357] agreed to be tried by the District Justice the conspiracy charge would be withdrawn, as also the charge against one of the defendants of having in his possession a revolver with intent to endanger life, and also the charge against the other defendants of aiding and abetting him to have in his possession a revolver.

Here we have the Attorney-General stepping in and following the Minister for Justice in a flagrant shirking of their responsibilities. Large sums of money are being voted for increased Guards. Additional moneys are being voted for the Army, and additional moneys are being sought for secret service—all, I believe, to continue and develop the kind of position that is being brought about in this country by the policy already pursued both by the Attorney-General and by the Minister for Justice, and, under the Minister for Justice, by the Guards; that is a very definite shirking of their duty—not putting down disorder, and a partisan application of the law.

Taking these three cases alone, I should like to hear from the Minister for Justice, why, when a definite challenge is issued in Drogheda to an important political party exercising the constitutional rights of the people in holding a public meeting there to discuss Irish public affairs, and when he is given notice, as he is very definitely given notice, that that right is proposed to be challenged by another party in the country, he does not definitely prevent that challenge being given effect to. If he will not offer any particular reason, and in a way that will stop that challenge being issued and made, will he tell us the reason why, and will he tell us the reason why, if, taking another line of action, he sends 250 Guards there to keep the peace, he allows people to be beaten, houses to be attacked, windows and cars to be broken, and no identification or no charge until he is shamed into some kind of action by persistent demands from these benches that he shoulder his responsibilities and take the necessary action? Three men are to be charged in connection with these Drogheda outrages. Will [1358] he tell us why it is that actions such as took place in Drogheda are allowed to take place, and why, when there is a flagrant attempt to challenge the whole institutions of the State as well as the ordinary constitutional rights of the people, such as took place in Leitrim, the Attorney-General steps in and says to people guilty of that criminal action—cutting at the very roots of order in the State—that if they will only go before the District Justice and get the little sentence that the District Justice will give, he will withdraw all the serious charges?

These are only instances, but they are instances that are symptomatic of the policy that is being pursued from the benches opposite. The Minister has only to look from one end of the country to the other to see the fruits of his policy. The Minister is unable to tell us to-day anything about the destruction of dance platforms in Cork or Kilkenny. He seems unable to tell us anything about the persons who robbed the post office in Galway or about the burning of a hall in County Cavan. That hall was built by the people of the area there, and as far as I remember, when it was being built the constitution of Sinn Féin was being put into its foundations. Now, under the latest brand of a freedom-loving Irish Government, this hall is burned down because it is being used by the people generally, even if some of them do not agree in their political opinions with the Minister's Party, and the Minister knows nothing about it, the Guards know nothing about it, and nothing is being done to find out.

The sinister thing about a lot of this neglect is that the Guards know well who are the parties responsible for the actual carrying out of the work. They know who are responsible for directing the organisation and seeing that turmoil and destruction are carried out in these areas. Only this morning we were told that on Saturday night or early on Sunday morning an attempt was made to burn the League of Youth hall in Bridgetown, that tables, chairs, and doors were destroyed and the roof damaged. I suppose we will be told, as in the case of the Cavan hall, that the persons guilty of these offences are not know to the police.

[1359] We can gaily go on voting additional sums of money for police and additional sums of money for persons who are supposed to be the eyes and the ears of the police, and no indication from the Minister or the Government to show that they are going systematically to tackle these matters. We get a sample in one part of the country of the conditions to which the police are reduced. There is an area in South Leix, Ballacolla, and in that place for the past six or eight months the position is that no supporter of the Fine Gael organisation can pass without being insulted, jeered and molested by a small group of persons who take their seat on the sill of the local Gárda Síochána barracks.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  What is your authority for that statement?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I have the authority of the person who has been repeatedly interfered with by them.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I know the area better than you do. Will Deputy Finlay confirm that?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Deputy can get up here and make a speech about how order is flourishing in his area.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  There is no disorder in it anyway.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I do not know what the Deputy's standard for order or disorder is. The Deputy's standard of order here at the moment is not 100 per cent. I would like to see the Deputy dealing with the statements that I am making here, and dealing with them in a manner that would be 100 per cent. orderly from the point of view of this House, because that would be the most efficient way in which the Deputy could show his conception of what order was.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Quote your authority.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Give us 100 per cent. order here. I am telling this House of the general conditions and of the morale to which the Gárda [1360] Síochána have been reduced in South Leix.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Wrong.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am?

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Yes.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am saying that Ballacolla is one of the spots that is indicative of what the general conditions are—that no known supporter of the Fine Gael organisation can pass through Ballacolla without being interfered with by a group of disorderly persons who sit on the sill of the Gárda Síochána barracks, or who hang around the corner a few yards away. Their conduct has been commented on by the priest, but his comment has not influenced the Gárda nor the sergeant. Only on Friday last a group of Fine Gael supporters were passing through Ballacolla. This band of people sat there on the sill of the Gárda Síochána barracks and challenged the members of Fine Gael organisation to fight. Then one of the Fine Gael party said: “Very good, if you want fight I will give any one of you fight.” The challenge was accepted. There was a man to man fight. And when the fight went against the person who started it, his supporters turned on the man who was beating the fellow who looked for fight. Naturally there was a general mix-up, and then the sergeant came out and he told the Fine Gael man who had been dragged into those difficulties by the people standing at the corner, that “he would damn soon shift him.” He went into the barrack to get his baton.

Ballyroan is another place where Fine Gael was attacked. There were no Guards there during the attack. When a responsible person on the Fine Gael side wanted to make a statement to the Gárda officer who came afterwards, the officer refused to take that statement; he said he had no pencil. The officer refused to take the statement because he had no pencil. But arising out of the attack of that meeting some members of the League of Youth were prosecuted, and they were prosecuted on the evidence of some Fianna Fáil followers. The usual evidence was sought for and hunted up by the local Gárda. In Drogheda 200 [1361] police can satisfy the Minister by reporting to him “That is all right about Drogheda; there are two fellows above there and they are going to prosecute; there are two shopkeepers up there who are going to prosecute the people who broke the windows.” In Ballyroan the police officer refused to take a statement from a Fine Gael supporter, but he took evidence, and evidence can be taken from some people who came there to attack the meeting, and in that case a prosecution will be taken directly by the police. Ballyroe is another of these spots near Abbeyleix where there have been repeated attacks on Fine Gael supporters. General O'Duffy had a meeting there, and on returning home the people were attacked by a mob. There was only one Guard there to deal with the mob. He saw the mob gathering to attack the people who came to Ballyroe from Tullamore. A number of prominent people in the town, including the priest, tried to get the mob away. Everybody in the town tried to get the mob to stop except the Guards. The mob attacked the people, and there was no prosecution there. There was a dance in the main street in Rathdowney and the row went on for several hours——

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  What did Deputy Finlay say there?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Give us 100 per cent. order and let the Deputy tell us afterwards.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Tell us about North Dublin?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I must ask the Deputy to allow Deputy Mulcahy to make his speech.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  The new recruit.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It is because of the people who would lead labour and who want to control public expressions of opinion that we have these scenes of disorder——

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  You are creating it.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Deputy is cooperating with the Minister for Justice and his Party in pursuing that policy. He is refusing to accept responsibility [1362] for the Government in their failure to deal with crime and this disorder in the country. The Deputy is doing it for a purpose. It is the only type of action that the present Government can pursue—to distract men from their ordinary avocations, that naturally their own constructive work in the country should call them to.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Get Deputy O'Higgins to say that about Laoighis.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I will say it about Dublin.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Deputy O'Higgins will say what he has to say without prompting by Deputy Davin.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Will he have the courage to say it one of these days?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Perhaps Deputy Davin will allow me to say something. Deputy Mulcahy is entitled to make his speech without interruption. If Deputy Davin wants to make a speech he can get up afterwards and make it.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I do not know whether this policy that is being pursued is a policy that is the outcome of the fortnightly consultations between the Labour Party and the Fianna Fáil Party. At any rate, we are pursuing a policy that is the policy of a tyrant— the policy of a tyrant who does not know where he is going nor what he is doing. We are seeing operating in this country an Oliver Cromwell policy; the policy of people who want to keep themselves on top; who do not know what institutions they want in this country; who do not know what social policy they want to pursue. While they talk of peace and equality and that kind of thing they have one set of enemies that they are implacably out after, and that is the people who want freedom in this country—freedom of speech, freedom of expression of opinion, and direction of the country's policy by the best kind of speech; on the other hand they have no enemies to the left. That is the policy we are discussing here. The police force in South Laoighis is a police force that is [1363] being directed by the Ministry, and affected in their attitude to their duties by the example they get from the Ministry. I say that in Rathdowney a dance party was stoned in the main street. A mob row went on there for several hours, but there was no prosecution. A motor car, the property of a Fine Gael organiser, was taken and smashed up near Wolfhill. The police were present at the time, but there was no prosecution. A number of members of the League of Youth were attacked at Borris-in-Ossory. When near Wolfhill certain stores were broken into, and broken into by persons who belonged to the followers of Fianna Fáil—who belonged to the I.R.A.— what is the action of the police? They searched nearly every Fine Gael person in the place in order to suggest that those stores were robbed by their political opponents. In Tipperary the Minister has admitted that quite a considerable number of cases of the discharge and the parade of firearms has taken place, but that he does not know anything about it. Yesterday we had a man sentenced in Dublin to 18 months' imprisonment on conviction for manslaughter. The man who lost his life in that row in Ennis lost it because of the policy that is being pursued by the Party opposite—the policy of tolerating and stirring up disorder. A young man lost his life in those tragic circumstances. Another young man is to spend 18 months in prison. The Minister knows that the people who were responsible for that row in Ennis on that date mobilised arms in Ennis to fire a volley over the grave of the young man who was killed. As regards the people who kicked up that row which resulted so fatally and disastrously in Ennis that night he tolerated the presence in Ennis of those people with rifles unlawfully held, and he expects that those rifles will not go off to-morrow, and that no other person in Ennis or in Clare is going to lose his life as a result of the policy of toleration of arms in the hands of anyone that stands on that Party's left, while they go out implacably after anyone who stands up to preserve here the [1364] rights which our people have so long been struggling for.

Here, as I say, we are asked to vote additional funds for the police to carry on that policy, and for the Army to do I do not know what. The Army were called out to stop a disturbance, or rather they were called out too late to stop a disturbance, in Cork the other night. Is the Army going to be called out when it is too late for the police to be of any use in this country? The Minister can certainly take this, that the people of this country who organised and fought to get their parliamentary institutions, to get their police and to get their Army, are not going to see the destruction of those institutions that were built up as a result of the work of generations of our people here, and moulded by the present generation. They are, at any rate, not going to see taken from them the rights which are theirs now, and only by the exercise of which they can direct their country upon proper lines. The Minister has seen how his policy “to get the accursed crowd” out of his Party's way has gone and is going. There is no doubt that increased disorder is the result of that policy. The Minister need not think that either by buying a few of his followers into an increased police force, or by an increased police force reduced to the morale that the South Laoighis police force has been reduced to, our people are going to be deprived of their liberties or going to be induced to let them slip away from them. Every scrap of tantalisation that can be given to the people is given to them. The Minister told us here to-day that Guards are not allowed to act in their own native areas. I take it he would tell us that Guards are not allowed to act as Guards in the place where their wives live, but that is not so in the City of Waterford. It is the sheerest hair-splitting for the Minister to tell us, as he told us this afternoon, that a Fianna Fáil candidate in County Waterford who promised all kinds of things to the farmers of County Waterford and left them in the position in which so many of them find themselves to-day, unable to pay their rates and unable to pay their [1365] annuities, is the proper type of man, drafted into the new police force with increased expense to the ratepayer here, to have attending the sale of some unfortunate Waterford farmer's cattle in Clonmel. When the Waterford farmer's cattle are taken from Ballymacarberry and brought to Clonmel, Clonmel is Waterford for the farmers of Waterford that day, and it is nothing but sheer provocation to surround a sale like that with the type of attendance with which the Minister admits they surrounded it if you judge by his answer here to-day. All this is being done, I submit, as a deliberate policy. It is the old British policy of starting up turmoil and disturbance and disorder here, in order to keep the energies of our people from co-operating and uniting to solve the problems of this country. It is a policy that is going to fail in the Minister's hands, but this generation may have to pay for it as much as any generation had to pay in the past as a result of the British policy. It is time that the Minister would look back over the last two years, consider the position that has developed around the country, and see whether the type of challenge that is being allowed to be made in every part of the country against freedom of personal movement and freedom of expression of opinion is going to be dealt with in any other way than the way it has been dealt with up to the present. If it is not, then the Minister may be prepared for this: that it is going to cost this country a terrible lot of human energy and a terrible lot of financial material, because this country is going to be dragged, by his policy, along the road of disorder that marked Drogheda, Leitrim, Waterford and Bridgetown, the other night, and every other spot he knows so very well in the country.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I do not propose to speak at great length on the Appropriation Bill, but there are one or two matters I am particularly anxious to raise in the presence of the Minister for Justice. I have always carefully refrained from making any criticism of the Gárda Síochána, except in respect of matters of which, I, myself, [1366] was witness. I think it is right that the House should be informed of certain events that took place in Ballina last Sunday, and while I have no doubt that similar things may have been happening elsewhere in the country in my absence, it is the first occasion upon which I have seen a situation which would justify me in saying that the police were prevented by their superior officers from doing their clear duty. The facts briefly are these. A Fine Gael meeting was announced for Ballina a considerable time ago. I drove there in a car and I entered the town about half an hour before the hour appointed for the meeting. At that time, the members of the League of Youth, with a number of prominent Ballina citizens, had gone, perhaps half a mile outside the town, with a view to receiving General O'Duffy and accompanying him into the town. I drove into Ballina and at the first street corner I came to, I encountered a mob of hooligans, to the number of about 150 persons, who had been shepherded there by the Civic Guards. They were standing around the corner with the obvious intention of assaulting anybody who passed who was not of their political opinion and as I passed in my car—it had slowed down lest it might strike anybody— this gang of hooligans did everything in their power to insult and intimidate me.

The Guards were standing by and made no endeavour whatever to restrain them or to disperse them. I think they should have done both one and the other. Shortly afterwards, the procession, which was a perfectly orderly procession, arrived in the town and I joined it. I was walking beside General O'Duffy and I can vouch for the fact that no member of the League of Youth offered offence to anybody. There was no outcry made and no taunts were offered to anybody, but, as we were walking through the streets of the town, we encountered another mob of about 150 persons and one of them attempted to strike either me or General O'Duffy. One of the members of the League of Youth threw up his arm, warded off the blow and struck the fellow with [1367] his elbow, whereupon the police promptly arrested that member of the League of Youth. I have not the slightest doubt that if that youth had not stepped between me and the hooligan who attempted to strike me or General O'Duffy—I could not really say whom he was striking at—one of us would have been reasonably seriously injured. He was promptly arrested and taken away in custody, while the assailant, so far as I could see, was not apprehended or interfered with. I believe that member of the League of Youth was subsequently released. I, of course, took immediate precautions to notify responsible persons in Ballina that I should expect to be called as a witness in the event of his being prosecuted. Whether that was conveyed to the Guards or not I do not know, but later in the day I was informed that member of the League of Youth had been released.

We proceeded to the place of meeting and the meeting began, whereupon about 200 people divided themselves into three crowds. The meeting was held in a market yard and one group took up their stand behind a wall on one side of the yard. Another group took up their stand behind a wall on the back of the platform and the third group at the gate of the market yard, which adjoins some fields. These three groups proceeded to hurl stones at the meeting. There were a considerable number of young girls present, and there were a considerable number of women present, and the moment the stones began to fall, the members of the League of Youth there moved as if about to attack these persons. General O'Duffy told them not to leave the meeting; that the Civic Guards were there and that they would deal with any disorder. They did not leave the meeting, whereupon the shower of stones was resumed and the scene was re-enacted in which the members of the League of Youth were asked to come back to the platform and to leave it to the members of the Civic Guard to disperse these people who were attempting to break up the meeting. The shower of stones was resumed for [1368] the third time. Many of the men who were firing stones were standing behind a cordon of the Civic Guards just outside the gate of the market yard and when, for the third time, the Guards allowed these fellows to pelt the meeting, which consisted largely of women, with stones, the members of the League of Youth went down, pushed aside the police cordon and in three minutes, dispersed that gang and drove them, perhaps, 200 yards away.

They were never able to catch them. I have no doubt that if they had been able to catch them, they would have given them what they deserved and that was a good beating, but, as a matter of fact, the hooligans ran with such amazing speed, having a start of about 150 yards, that the Blueshirts could not catch up with them. The Blueshirts then were obliged to make an attempt to get into the yard from which the hooligans were firing stones. They were unable to get into the yard and stones continued to come from it for at least half-an-hour, and, probably, three-quarters of an hour, and many of them fell on the platform. The stones continued to come from the yard behind the platform and throughout the whole of that day, I believe there were more members of the Civic Guard in Ballina than there were members of the hooligans' mob. Finally, the stones that had been hurled at the meeting were picked up by the Blueshirts and returned over the wall into the yard where the hooligans had gathered and, apparently, dispersed them eventually. When they were dispersed, a Civic Guard appeared and climbed up on the wall and there was no more stone throwing from that direction.

Tempers were frayed, and our influence to restrain these boys in their very natural indignation was strained. However, by the exercise of patience and by the strong exercise of restraint, General O'Duffy had succeeded up to that in preserving peace as best he could, that is to say, to the extent of avoiding bloodshed, by holding the members of the League of Youth in restraint. We then proceeded to walk from the place of meeting to the hotel, where it was proposed to entertain [1369] General O'Duffy, by the shortest possible route, and, in doing that, I think that General O'Duffy went very much, indeed, further than I would be inclined to go, in order to avoid the occasion for a breach of the peace. However, he decided that it was desirable to avoid any excuse for violence and that we should proceed to the hotel by the shortest possible route. Half of the company were obliged to go for their trains. Some had come from neighbouring towns, and I was glad to hear afterwards that when they were attacked on their way to the station by some of these hooligans, the restraint of their leaders having been withdrawn, they caught them, and it will be long enough before these hooligans attack another person. We, however, proceeded towards the Imperial Hotel, with which the Minister is acquainted, and when we got to the place—the Minister will recognise the topography of his native town—where one would ordinarily turn to the left to go down to the Imperial Hotel, the hooligans were standing behind a cordon of Civic Guards, and although the officer of the Gárda had been notified that we were proceeding to the Imperial Hotel, we were informed that we must now proceed in the opposite direction. That is almost incredible, but I myself was present. We were informed that we must proceed in the opposite direction.

Needless to say, those leading the procession were extremely reluctant to do anything which was so contrary to common reason and common justice. I myself went to the head of the procession and said: “Let us not be the cause of creating disturbance; let us not come into conflict with the Civic Guards; we will find our way around.” We turned off in the opposite direction to that in which we intended to go. We had not proceeded 50 yards before we met another cordon of the Civic Guards, who told us that we could not proceed in that direction. I said to the superintendent: “We have held these men in check under the most extraordinary provocation; I cannot hold them any longer, and if you do not clear out of the way there is going to [1370] be trouble, because it is absolutely impossible to ask men to suffer the indignities they have been asked to suffer to-day in the name of peace.” I said: “We have been stopped at the far corner, although we wanted to proceed by the left to the Imperial Hotel, and we must go this way.” To the credit of the superintendent, he said: “Very well,” and withdrew his cordon, and we proceeded. We were then marching in a direction opposite to that in which we should go. I then turned to the left, and to the left again, and when I turned to the left again I was met by another body of Civic Guards and was told: “There is a crowd at the foot of the street and you cannot pass this way.” I said: “Look here, I will give you two minutes to clear that crowd away, and if you do not clear it we will.” There was nothing else to do.

The Civic Guards were obviously acting under some invisible restraint. I got in front of my own men in order to give the Civic Guards time to clear these fellows away. It eventually became manifest to the Guards that we were going to act vigorously, and the procession proceeded to advance. Immediately the gentlemen at the foot of the procession realised that the procession was going, whether they liked it or not, they vanished as fast as they could go. Five Guards could have dispersed that crowd, but no step was taken to do so. Eventually, when the Blueshirts were allowed to advance upon them, the crowd melted away and fled. So long as they had a cordon of Guards in front of them, over which they could throw stones, they were valiant, and prepared to do so. Accordingly, when we had dispersed the crowd in that corner we proceeded without further trouble to the hotel.

I have deliberately chosen the language of restraint to describe the scene. More than one member of the League of Youth was struck in the course of that journey from the market-yard in Ballina to the Imperial Hotel. One man's forehead was split open with a stone. All that time the members of the League of Youth, who could have cleared the streets if they wanted to, kept their ranks and made what I [1371] considered to be a really heroic contribution to the preservation of law and order, and towards giving an example in good citizenship to the people of Ballina that day. Their reward was that they were informed when the meeting was proceeding that the supporters of the Minister for Justice in Ballina had gone into a hall which they had decorated for a dance that night, tarred the door and the floor, torn down the decorations, and smashed the band instruments. This was not in a city like Dublin, Waterford, or Cork, but in a comparatively small town where there was an enormous draft of Guards brought in, and where you would imagine it would be quite easy for the Guards to have a patrol in every street, quite apart from the men required to keep order, if you please, at the meeting. In fact, you would imagine that, knowing that a dance was to be held in a certain hall, the Guards would place a special patrol there, knowing the class of blackguard they had to deal with in the town of Ballina.

These are the facts of the case. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying from what I saw in Ballina that the members of the Gárda Síochána on Sunday received some instructions from somebody not to proceed vigorously against persons who would attempt to disturb the peace. Quite apart from the effect that that has on the country as a whole, the effect that it has on a force like the Gárda Síochána is appalling. It is extremely demoralising to the younger generation in a district like Ballina to see organised hooliganism allowed to proceed without let or hindrance in a town which is well known to be the home town of the Minister for Justice himself. It affords a sight to young people when persons who are well-known to be enthusiastic political supporters of the Minister for Justice indulge in hooliganism in the public street without any effective steps being taken by the Gárda Síochána to restrain them, and that on an occasion when the responsible officers of the Gárda Síochána have provided themselves with adequate forces to deal with any situation that could have [1372] developed there, much less the actual situation with which they were called upon to cope. From the point of view of the Gárda Síochána itself, from the point of view of the rising generation of the country, occurrences of that kind ought to be stopped.

The facts I have already outlined would be bad enough, but I have to add that, with all the occurrences of the day, with the full knowledge of the temper of the Minister for Justice's supporters in the town, the Civic Guards allowed the mob to gather outside or in the immediate vicinity of Deputy Davis's house that night, and when a friend of his went to the garage to take out Deputy Davis's car to go a couple of miles out of Ballina that mob was allowed to knock that friend down twice and, so far as I am aware, the Civic Guards never raised a hand to deter them. Eventually Deputy Davis was obliged to go down with an ash-plant and rescue that man from the hands of the mob, and get him into his own house.

Surely, those facts are in themselves sufficiently deplorable. Surely, they constitute a very grave reflection indeed on the administration of the Department of Justice and upon the headquarters of the Gárda Síochána. It is doubly deplorable that such occurrences should have taken place in the town of Ballina where, I believe, every one of these hooligans holds himself out as an enthusiastic and loyal supporter of the Minister for Justice for Saorstát Eireann. The significance of these events must be as clear to the Minister for Justice as they are to me. I could expand upon them and paint them in more lurid colours, but I do not think any useful purpose would be served by doing that. The good name of the country is of equal value to us all. Incidents of that kind can do nothing but detract from the good name of the country.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  From any side?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  From any side—I entirely agree. If the Deputy suspects my bona fides in the very least, let me at once here and now say that if any member of the League of Youth or any member of the Fine Gael organisation conducts [1373] himself like a hooligan in the public street of any town in this country, I sincerely hope and pray that he will be apprehended by the Gárda Síochána and made amenable to the law for his conduct. Will the Deputy say the same for his own Party?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  You may be sure he will.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Of course, I will.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I doubt if Deputy Corry will say the same. Deputy Corry takes the view that meetings of this kind ought to be broken up.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Do you dispute that the League of Youth have been doing these things?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It seems the voice of caution is being used on the Deputy's left.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Do you dispute——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Deputy Briscoe can intervene just as Deputy Davin can intervene. I have no doubt Deputy Smith and Deputy Corry——

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  He is not in as good form as he used to be.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Who is not in as good form as he used to be? The Deputy speaks in riddles. I hope he will give us the benefit of his counsel later on.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  It is not gas I speak, anyway.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Deputy is so easily drawn that I trust we will be able to draw him later on. It will be interesting to hear his view with regard to the preservation of order and the just administration of the law. I have no doubt he and Deputy Corry will both make valuable contributions to this debate. They will probably speak more sincerely than the discreet Minister for Justice. These facts I have outlined are deplorable, and I think they call for explanation. I am bound to say, looking back at these occurrences on Sunday, that the responsible officer in charge of the Gárda Síochána was either grossly remiss in carrying out the duties allotted to him, or else he was acting [1374] under orders from headquarters or from the Ministry of Justice, which made it impossible for him effectively to restore order and maintain the peace in Ballina. I think it was necessary to refer to that specific case on this Appropriation Bill.

There are one or two matters of interest to which I also desire to refer. This Appropriation Bill provides for the expenditure of a very large sum of borrowed money on bounties. I think it is time that the agricultural community had some indication from the Government in an official form as to what their ultimate intentions are about the economic war. President de Valera thanks God that the British market has gone and Senator Connolly declares that it is the greatest blessing that ever came upon this country that our foreign markets have been wiped out. He praises Heaven that what it took 100 years to build up can be extinguished in as many days. The Minister for Finance, when trying to justify his borrowing of the larger part of the money required to finance bounties, says quite blandly that he cannot believe that the economic war will continue, as it is contrary to commonsense. One finds oneself cordially agreeing with the Minister for Finance, but the embarrassing part of it is that in one's agreement with the Minister for Finance one finds oneself in striking disagreement with the President of the Executive Council and the Minister for Lands.

I think the condition to which the people are being reduced in rural areas by the continuance of the economic war is as well known to the Minister for Agriculture as it is to us. I do not believe he knows it of himself. To be quite honest, I do not believe he has the intelligence to apprehend the true situation in the country. I think his incompetence for his present office is so manifest as to make it clear to anybody that of himself he would be quite ignorant of what is really happening in every small farm in Ireland. But I have not the slightest doubt that the permanent officials who surround him and who have an intimate knowledge of rural life must have told him of the [1375] disaster which his supine incompetence is bringing on the fundamental industry of the country.

This Appropriation Bill authorises the Government to expend approximately £10,000,000 which they will derive from the imposition of taxes. The Labour Party will vote for it and the Labour Party will support them. The Labour Party, apparently, never stops to ask itself who is paying the tariffs. There are £10,000,000 of indirect taxation, every penny of which is levied on the poor.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  That is a tall order.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Every penny of it is levied on the poor.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Even the tax on a motor car?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Deputy Davin knows perfectly well that the incidence of the tariffs is upon the poor. The vast bulk of imported material which pays tariffs is consumed by the poor

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Nonsense.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The vast bulk of the £10,000,000 is paid by the poor.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What an imagination.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  That burden is steadily mounting. As I pointed out, that would be bad enough; not only is the burden of indirect taxation rising, but the burden of higher prices is rising at the same time and the accumulated burden in resting on the shoulders of the consuming public, the great majority of whom are small farmers.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The men who voted for us in the local elections.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The small farmers whom Deputy Davin represents in his own constituency.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I am surprised to hear that. That was challenged by your colleagues.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  That does not discharge the Deputy from his obligations to his constituents. One cannot expect from Deputy Briscoe any very grave concern for the burdens which tariffs are laying [1376] on the backs of the agricultural community. The interests which Deputy Briscoe represents are probably deriving considerable benefit from the tariffs. I quite admit that.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I have more poor people in my constituency than you have in yours and they are not paying the tariffs.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I quite admit that those who are borrowing money from the Industrial Credit Corporation and who are floating some of the noble industries which the Deputy can describe so well, are deriving benefits from the tariffs. Everyone who is able to raise the price of everything he supplies to the people under the protection of a tariff is undoubtedly deriving benefit from the tariffs.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Are those the people who are supposed to have voted for me?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I venture to swear that the list of people I read out voted for the Deputy.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The Deputy is mistaken.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I am not mistaken.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I am sure you are mistaken.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I have frequently pointed out in this House that the tariff weapon, used to protect industries which will provide a decent livelihood for working people in this country, and which will provide goods at a reasonable price, not necessarily at a price which will compete with the lowest price available in the world, can be justified, because while they may increase the burden of taxation, they may produce a far greater volume of goods; but I say that when tariffs are used as they have been and are being used in this country, without any regard whatever for the interests of the consumer, they become a growing evil. In that connection, I think it right to remind the House that the consumer in this country, by his very nature, is almost incapable of organisation and is absolutely incapable of the intensive [1377] organisation which is available to those who benefit by the tariffs. It should be the duty of Deputies in this House to protect the interests of those people who have no organisation to lobby for them, to persecute Ministers on their behalf, to agitate for them, and to use newspaper propaganda in order to get those trade advantages. It should be our duty to defend the interests of the consuming public and to see that justice is done between the two.

I say that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is being allowed to proceed along reckless lines that will cost this country a great sum of money in the end and that is, at the present moment, imposing a very great measure of hardship on those people in the country who are least able to protect their own interests, and at the same time that the industries he is building up under this Draconian tariff system have earned from Deputies on the Labour Benches such descriptions as that they would bring the blush of shame—as, I think, Deputy Norton said —to the cheek of a Babylonian king. Perhaps Deputy Davin will explain that to Deputy Briscoe, and perhaps Deputy Briscoe will tell Deputy Davin what he thinks of him after the explanation.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Life is not long enough.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Will the Deputy repeat what he said?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  In conclusion, I say that this Bill appropriates the largest sum of money that has ever been appropriated for public services since this State was founded.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Hear, hear!

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Deputy Briscoe says “Hear, hear!”—oblivious of the fact that when he was contesting a constituency in this city in which we are at present a poster was issued on his behalf to the following effect: “Fianna Fáil says that if you return Deputy Briscoe and, eventually, a Government drawn from his Party, it will reduce the taxation of this country by £2,000,000 a year.”

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  That poster was never issued. That is from your imagination.

[1378]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I have got it.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  You could not show it.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I can produce it.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I will give the Deputy £5, to be given to any charity in his own name, if he can show that that poster was issued.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It was published on behalf of one of the Deputy's colleagues.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  You said it was on behalf of Deputy Briscoe.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It may have been on behalf of Senator Mrs. Clarke.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Oh, that is different.

A Deputy:  There you are now.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I have no doubt that the Deputy will not repudiate Senator Mrs. Clarke as a colleague.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I will give the same sum that no such poster was issued on behalf of Senator Mrs. Clarke. Will you take it up now?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Yes.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  If you produce it I will give the sum for the benefit of the poor in my name.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is safe to say that that document can be produced and will be produced.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  When will you produce it—when you come back from your next Mediterranean trip?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  We shall settle that between ourselves, but not across the floor of the House. Perhaps the Deputy has forgotten, when he compliments himself on the largest appropriation ever made since this State was founded, oblivious of the fact that his Government were first returned to office on an undertaking that the national expenditure could be reduced by £2,000,000 per annum without any interference with the social services and without any reduction in the salaries of civil servants——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  We increased the social services.

[1379]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  ——that, in fact, substantial reductions were made in the salaries of civil servants and the burden of taxation increased to its present position. It would be tedious to go through each department of the Government's undertaking of their promises, but sometimes one is asked why one does not put up such a beautiful policy as Fianna Fáil put up at the first general election, and I think this is an appropriate occasion on which to answer that question—for the simple reason that it is extremely easy to write a policy, to print it on a poster and to get dupes to put it up, but unfortunately it is not consistent with the views of honesty that obtain on this side of the House.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  Says you!

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is not consistent with our views of honesty to make promises before an election and go back on them afterwards.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The local elections do not show that.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is considered not only honest but good politics on the other side of the House to do so. In fact, Deputy Dowdall says that they are not promises, but only statements, and that it is quite unfair to expect anyone to keep the promises.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Why did we win with a majority in 14 out of 23?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  As usual Deputy Briscoe forgets a very vital detail in the information he is prepared to impart to the House. Deputy Carty is not here to-day, and there was one county council in——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy Dillon is forgetting that what he is saying is not relevant. It is irrelevant and I shall not allow it.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Well, Sir, perhaps it might be made relevant by a reference to the Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Just a moment, Sir. I have submitted that in appropriating [1380] this sum of money the Fianna Fáil Government have failed to carry out undertakings they have given. In order to rebut that contention, Deputy Briscoe says that the public do not seem to say so because they voted against us at the election. I submit that to rebut that is not worth losing breath.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy Briscoe's intervention was irregular and should not have been made. It is not relevant to the matter under discussion and Deputy Dillon's remarks are just as irrelevant.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Very well, Sir, I shall content myself by saying that if Deputy Briscoe would have a chat with Deputy Corry on the general subject of information——

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Yes, we wiped the floor with both yourselves and the Freemasons together.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  The Deputy is feeling sore.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Some of you are feeling sorer.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Deputy Corry is emerging from his silence bearing on his back the marks of the castigation he received from his neighbours.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I will answer that too.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  So long as the Deputy will undertake to answer it when I am having my tea he may speak as much as he likes.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Deputy always runs away.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  We are appropriating to-day a greater sum of money for the Public Services than has ever been appropriated before in the history of Saorstát Eireann, and that at a time when we enjoy the unenviable distinction of being one of five countries in the world where unemployment has increased in the last 12 months, and at a time when our foreign trade has fallen to the lowest level at which it ever stood, I believe, since 1847. At a time when our adverse trade balance for one month this year was greater [1381] than our entire exports, and when our adverse trade balance for the past 12 months is within measurable distance of our entire export for 12 months——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  We are still a creditor country.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  These are for social services.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Fellows can be found shouting “social services.” There will be fellows who can be found taking protection for their failure behind some such silly shibboleths as that. The only value social services have is the ability of the Government to maintain them.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Otherwise they had to try starvation.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Government that reduces this country to a condition in which we will not be able to retain our social services, is a Government that will some day be cursed by our people. Social services are no good when their purpose is to buy votes for the Government. Social services are only good when built up by a Government for the benefit of all the people. Social services are no benefit unless there is behind them a real desire to improve the people and unless there is behind them a Government that is leading the people in a right direction. Social services are worth nothing when they are set up simply for the purpose of buying votes for the Fianna Fáil Party and jettisoned when these votes have achieved their purpose. If you deliberately destroy the resources of this country in the way in which the present Government is destroying them there is no good shouting social services because you are destroying the means by which they can be maintained. It comes ill from Deputy Briscoe and those of his kind to attempt to twist my words and to try and make it appear that the words used by me were that the poor are to be starved. That is not the first time that Deputy Briscoe applied dirty lies of that kind to statements made by me——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Better withdraw that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I ask the Deputy to withdraw the words “dirty lies.”

[1382]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I withdraw that expression. But I will say that Deputy Briscoe tried before by malodorous misrepresentation of that kind to misrepresent what I said, but we shoved it down his throat. The Deputy tries another malodorous misrepresentation to-day and we are shoving it down his throat.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Up the Bank of England.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I do not see why the members of the Labour Party particularly cannot see where this country is heading under Fianna Fáil. The Labour Party ought to know that the existence of the social services and anything worth getting that we have got in this country depends upon the preservation of the solvency of the State. It is a shortsighted policy to close your eyes to the future and to rejoice because of the present largesse that is being distributed. The prudent statesman and politician who really has the interests of his people at heart will try to increase social services to the utmost limit of the State's capacity, but he will increase them with a view to maintaining them, not for to-day or to-morrow or next week but for all time.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I want to say that Deputy Dillon tries a very humorous line when he thinks he is scoring points but when he sees he is not scoring points and he knows that somebody else is scoring points his mouth works out sharp and his teeth come to the front; he growls and becomes personal. If I misunderstood the Deputy I would be very sorry. I would be very sorry to put on the records of the House any misconstruction of what the Deputy had said but he has frequently stated in connection with this Bill that we are appropriating this year the very largest sum of money ever appropriated by the Government of this country since the Free State was established. I do not think I misunderstood him; he said that. The Deputy then goes on to explain that the reason is that we have extended our social services. Then he gets rather annoyed when one suggests that by not extending social services of the country the appropriations can be less [1383] but the Government cannot be able to give the benefit of these social services to the community.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I cannot at all accept the Deputy's phraseology as to what I said. I stand by what I said and it will appear in the Official Report. I cannot by my silence be taken as accepting Deputy Briscoe's interpretation of what I said here.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I understood that Deputy Dillon definitely made a statement that the extending of the social services by this Government was increasing the burden on the community beyond the capacity of the people to pay. I take that as a suggestion that we had no right to extend the social services, that we had no right to give the benefits which are included in this year's Budget. Then the Deputy gets very angry and purports to say that this is a misstatement and that one is simply and solely in a nasty manner trying to misconstrue his words into meaning something that they did not mean. I ask the Deputy now what do his words mean other than what I said? Are we to withdraw the provisions made for widows and orphans? Are we to take off again the shilling which his Party took off the old-age pensions? Are we to withdraw the free milk to the destitute poor? Are we to put the 4d. back upon tea? Are we to take away from the people the meagre assistance they get when unemployed and destitute? I do not know whether Deputy Dillon wants all or some of these things taken away. I would like to hear him suggest which of the social services he wants taken away or which of them does he want reduced, or how does he want them reduced.

I say this, and I believe the Labour Party feels the same way about it— that while this Government has gone very far to alleviate distress amongst the people of the country, if the country could stand it they would like to see increased social services. No one has said that the present social services are sufficient or ample. What we have said is that they are all we [1384] can guarantee under the present circumstances. I would like the Deputy to tell us what social service does he want taken away or reduced again? That is where the Deputy can get down and contribute something to the debate on the Appropriation Bill. It is all very well to make personal remarks about a person here or there, to suggest that I was interested; that my only interest in this House was to secure trade loans for persons who wanted to start industries under the tariff protection policy. I can tell the Deputy as far as I know no trade loan was granted to any person or persons on my application or recommendation. I want to tell the Deputy that I represent—and I am not a bit ashamed to say it, possibly the poorest of the poor of the Dublin community.

Those are the people whom Deputy Dillon says are contributing all the ten million pounds of money collected through tariff impositions. The Deputy said “the whole ten million pounds,” and when he said the whole ten million pounds be put such emphasis on the word “whole” that one heard it resounding around the Chamber a couple of times. “The whole ten million pounds is collected from the poor.” Did anybody ever hear such nonsense coming from a front bench member of what is supposed to be a responsible Party in this country? I do not know whether Deputy Dillon ever reads the details of the returns showing how much money is collected from the various items, but it is utter nonsense for a Deputy to get up in this House and to say in all seriousness that the whole of that ten million pounds collected by means of tariffs comes as an indirect taxation from the poor, and the poor only. I think if he reads his speech and reconsiders it he will find that he might have moderated it somewhat. The statements made by the Deputy are on a par with what he said about a supposed poster which was issued at my election. When he was challenged to produce it, and an offer was made by me—

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Oh!

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Maybe it was not the Deputy—possibly it was Mrs. Clarke.

[1385] In the same way those statements of the Deputy may be taken as being accurate——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The poster was here.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Produce it.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Deputy O'Higgins will produce it when he is speaking.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The Deputy made the statement and the Deputy should produce it. I will give way to him. In spite of the Deputy's saying that the poster is here, I may tell him that my offer still stands. I will give £5 to any charity in the name of the Deputy if he can produce a poster giving the words he used: “Put Deputy Briscoe in and the taxation will be reduced by £2,000,000.” That is the poster which the Deputy says was issued on my behalf. No such poster was ever issued. In spite of the Deputy's saying it is here, and that Deputy O'Higgins will produce it, I say it is wrong. I know what Deputy O'Higgins has; possibly it is the manifesto of Fianna Fáil, which would apply to every Deputy in the general election. There was no specific poster ever issued for Deputy Briscoe, except in the by-election of 1927, and that poster was not issued.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Deputy does not disown that poster?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What poster? I am speaking of the poster which the Deputy referred to here, and the wording which he said it contained.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Chair is very reasonably losing its patience.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I think the Chair will look after itself without Deputy Dillon's assistance. If the Chair feels that I am out of order, or bordering on it, the Chair will so rule, and I will bow to the ruling of the Chair without any assistance to the Chair by Deputy Dillon. To get back again to the Appropriation Bill, and the figures——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Hear, hear!

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I must repeat what Deputy Dillon says. I wonder how does it sound to Deputy Dillon to hear a person saying that every penny of the [1386] £10,000,000 collected by way of tariffs comes from the poor. Does Deputy Dillon wonder how it sounds? The Deputy also talked about disorder and hooliganism. As a matter of fact, we are supposed to represent the hooligans of the whole country, and the Deputies over there are supposed to represent the “class”—the genteel people who do nothing wrong. That is the construction which is put on it; that is how it is always referred to. I think it was always stated in this House that we are commanding the mob.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  The corner-boys.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Yes, the corner-boys. I wonder does Deputy Dillon ever examine the doings of his own organisation. Is he prepared to get up in this House and say that hooliganism, gun bullies——

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  Thugs!

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  ——do not exist in his organisation? Is he prepared to get up here and say that? I am prepared to say to him now that there are more gun bullies, thugs and corner-boys in his organisation than there ever were in the Republican organisation in this country. I ask him to deny it. He cannot.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I would not bother to deny preposterous allegations.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Very well. The times are advancing and we are not all with our heads in the sands. It has been known in recent months that members of the Deputy's organisation have indulged in shootings. They have indulged in beating up people. They have tried to usurp the authority of the police on many occasions. That has been known. If the Deputy wants to do service to this country perhaps he would expend some of that wonderful flow of language, of which he gives us the benefit here, in trying to teach the members of his own organisation that they should not indulge in hooliganism or go around with guns shooting people. That would do far more good for the country. I want Deputy Dillon to know this: as far as we are concerned on this side of the House we are very anxious to see [1387] peace in the country. We are not anxious to see anything of the kind which the Deputy has portrayed as coming exclusively from the ranks of Fianna Fáil. As a matter of fact we repudiate that any such thing does exist in the ranks of Fianna Fáil. I should like the Deputy to take a glance over a period of, say, a month, and study the daily papers from day to day, and mark up one against the other the offences committed by different people. He can see for himself how many of those offences are really offences committed by Fianna Fáil supporters, or followers or members of the Fianna Fáil organisation, and how many are committed by followers or members of the League of Youth. He will find that it is going to be a very close issue for him to get up here again and talk about hooliganism as being something that belongs to Fianna Fáil, and absolutely and entirely and solely to Fianna Fáil. The Deputy was away for a short cruise, recuperating, and I think he has somewhat lost touch with politics in the country.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  If he ever had any.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  When he talks about social services I ask him to get up here and say—I think he has suggested that one of our Ministers is incompetent—“Look here, Fianna Fáil, you are a lot of incompetents. Why are you doing this or why are you doing that?” I ask him to get up here and put his finger on the social service which he thinks is ridiculous or useless or should not be there. Before sitting down, I want to say this to Deputy Dillon, that I do not know any social service that could be cut down. In fact, as I said before, I should like to see them still further extended if the country could afford it. Deputy Dillon talked about keeping the flag of the country flying high. He was not going to do anything to damage the credit of the country and yet in his final words—in those thundering remarks of his which, mind you, mean: “I, Deputy Dillon, say this, and what I say I mean, and what I say is going to happen”—he [1388] said that the country was “going broke” as a result of our expenditure. The Deputy did his best to damage the credit of the country in the final words of his speech. Let me tell the Deputy that the credit of this country is as high as it ever was, and is continuing to remain high. The country is not short of resources. The resources of this country are of such a kind, if properly distributed and used, that the people will have sufficient to eat, sufficient clothing and proper shelter without the country “going broke.” The Deputy did his best to bring discredit on the country's credit. He did his best to try and make it appear that we were going fast to ruin—that very shortly everything would collapse. The Deputy knows he is making the greatest mistake. I do not ask the Deputy to accept my view, or even to accept the view of any member of this House, but I do ask him to wake up and realise that the people of the country are satisfied that Deputy Dillon is wrong, and entirely wrong.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I have listened to a great many speeches in this House, but I have never before listened to a speech in which a Deputy either consciously or unconsciously devoted so much time to attempting to misinterpret and distort the remarks of a Deputy sitting on an opposite bench. I think the exhibition we have just listened to is as foul an exhibition of parliamentary bad practice as ever was witnessed in this House before and I hope the like of it will never be witnessed again. It was what I call a particularly slippy speech. We had that type of hair-splitting and phrase-splitting from beginning to end; we had the wriggle about Fianna Fáil promises——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  It was no wriggle.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  ——and we had the challenge associated with the wriggle.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The wriggle was over there.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  If Deputy Dillon was making any point, the point he was making was that we were being asked [1389] to-day for a greater sum than possibly ever was asked for and that that sum was being demanded by a Government which had obtained and won office by a promise, not to increase, but to reduce the taxation of this country by £2,000,000. The Deputy interrupted with “Hear, hear,” and Deputy Dillon said that it was on that that Deputy Briscoe was elected, and that the manifesto on his behalf, meaning on behalf of him as a Fianna Fáil candidate, was issued.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Oh, I see! That is different.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Does the Deputy to-day repudiate Fianna Fáil?

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

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  We heard him a few minutes ago talking of himself as a republican, and he is sitting behind a Free State Ministry. Will we ever know where we stand with the people opposite? He comes in here to claim ownership of the republicans of this country, and the republicans of this country, as far as they are vocal, and as far as they appear in print, repudiate Deputy Briscoe and the whole Free State Ministry that is there at present. They are at least consistent in that. They carried out war to the point of death against a previous Free State Ministry, not because they were worse men or better men than those who sit there now, but because they were a Free State Party administering the Free State. Those republicans are still consistent, and the Fianna Fáil Party or Deputy Briscoe has no more right to claim them as supporters than any other Free State Party in this House. There is a Republican Party with a republican following outside this House, but the people administering the Free State on those benches and the people constituting the Free State Opposition on these benches are all Free Staters, and I would not charge any of the present Free State Ministers with being so corrupt or dishonest as to stoop so low as to draw salaries as Free State Ministers if that was not honestly the policy they stood for.

The quicker we get away from this [1390] kind of public dishonesty and the quicker each man on every side of the House stands pat on the ground that is under his feet and not on the ground that is under somebody else's feet, the steadier will we all be on our legs and in our heads. It is the grogginess underneath that leads to mental instability on top and one of the greatest curses over this country at this moment is that vacillating attitude as between Free State and Republic, as between the desire to trade with our neighbour and the refusal to trade with our neighbour, as between one Minister protesting that we must get back that market, and the quicker the better, and another Minister saying that we shall never have succeeded until we have renounced that market for all time— and the head of the band thanking his God that the market is so far gone out of our reach that it can never be brought back. The one thing we are entitled to expect from every Government, whether we support it or oppose it, is some clear-cut statement of policy on major questions, and that that Government, whether it stands or falls, will adhere to that declaration when made.

This kind of sloppy talk about a Republic, while drawing the salaries of a Free State, is most unworthy of any Deputy on any side of the House and is particularly unworthy on the part of those drawing the larger salaries. They are paid by the tax-payers of this country, under the Constitution of the Irish Free State, to administer the Irish Free State and to defend it from all enemies, internal and external, and if they are not prepared to do that in a manly, patriotic and courageous way, then, they should not draw those funds. Now, we have here, no matter how Deputy Briscoe may wriggle, a particular sheet of Fianna Fáil election promises——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  That is not my by-election poster.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  ——issued on behalf of the Fianna Fáil candidates seeking election.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Will the Deputy give way for a moment?

[1391]Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I say that this was issued on behalf of the Fianna Fáil candidates——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Will the Deputy permit me for a moment?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Certainly.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I do not want the Deputy to think that I am trying to take advantage of a wriggle or anything of the sort. Deputy Dillon, according to my view of it, distinctly spoke about my by-election or, alternatively, Senator Mrs. Clarke's by-election.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I will forgive the £5.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Oh, no! Did the Deputy say that or not? It was not a general election he spoke about. He spoke about a by-election which I fought or a by-election which Senator Mrs. Clarke fought.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  We cannot have this going on. Deputy O'Higgins.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Might I say, in order to settle the point, that I am talking about the general election and about the general election that made Fianna Fáil the Government of this country. Deputy Dillon, when he was speaking, referred to the election which made Fianna Fáil the Government of this country. No by-election ever made any Party a Government in this country. However, amongst that big mass of promises we have only two that are clear and specific, that are very detailed and that are calculated by their very language to give to the public the understanding and the impression that whatever about the vaguer promises, the promises that were given specifically and in detail and as a result of careful study, as mentioned in the poster, would be kept. We have the very phraseology designed to deceive:—

“We have examined with minute care”—

not in a rough-and-ready way, and not in globo, but with minute care—

“the Estimates of public services for the current year, and are convinced that a saving of many hundreds of thousands of pounds can be made, [1392] not including such items as £1,152,000 paid to the British Government in respect of R.I.C. pensions and other similar payments not required by the Treaty. The burden of taxation can be lightened by not less than £2,000,000.”

There is nothing rough-and-ready. Not that it can be reduced by about £2,000,000 and not a statement to the effect that we have looked into or examined the Estimates and believe or hope to reduce taxation. No; a clear promise: we have with care, with minute care, examined the Estimates and we can reduce the taxation of this country by not less than £2,000,000.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The word “burden” is left out.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Now, we are going to have another wriggle. If we only had Deputy Dowdall sitting beside Deputy Briscoe to explain the difference between a promise and a statement! Now, we are going to have the Deputy explaining that when you go to relieve or reduce the burden of taxation by £2,000,000, it, in fact, means an increase of taxation by £10,000,000.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I did not say that.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  The result of that promise was that taxation was increased by £10,000,000. The result of that promise was to secure the vote of everyone who believed that you were going to reduce taxation.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What is the date of that?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  February 5th, 1932.

Mr. Minch: Information on Capt. Sydney B. Minch  Zoom on Capt. Sydney B. Minch  Take your medicine.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  A number nine.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  And we won an election since then, too.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  You did, by saying that you had not time to carry out your programme and by saying, at that second election, that, during that year, you had to work on Cumann na nGaedheal Estimates and that one of your predecessors, the Minister for Finance, had left a debt so that no reduction [1393] could be carried out during the year 1932. It put us back again to all the old promises. That is what happened in 1933.

The Attorney-General:  What about the election the other day?

Mr. Davin made a remark which was not heard.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  His master's voice. When there is a vacancy for a speaker he is very mum, but when there is an opportunity for interruption he is very glib. I notice that when Deputy Mulcahy was discussing order throughout the country——

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Disorder you mean.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  It was disorder we had here. There were seven Government Deputies present and four out of the seven were continually interrupting. I am talking of when Deputy Mulcahy was speaking. Deputy Flinn was not here at the time or there would be five interrupters.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  And one very effective one.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  We had a discussion on the state of disorder throughout the country and the suggestion made was that that disorder was being encouraged by police officers here and there; by their inactivity, or by the only evidence of their activity being to prosecute and victimise the defenders of meetings and no action being taken about the attackers at meetings. We had various instances brought up by Deputy Mulcahy—some of them in my own constituency—and when Deputy Mulcahy was speaking, Deputy Davin, in his usual way, kept interrupting, “Who informed you?” There are very few Deputies who, when they are making statements in this House, would consider it fair on all occasions to give the names of their informers. That applies to Deputy Davin and to the Government Benches as well as these benches, and the Deputy, who has been in this House for 12 years, knows that better than a Deputy like myself, who has only been here for five years. He [1394] knows the foulness of that type of query to a speaker.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Did you report this case?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I am here following Deputy Mulcahy to give the evidence of my own eyes. I was present at the particular meeting in Ballyroan to which Deputy Mulcahy referred, an after-Mass meeting, when nobody wanted disorder; where disorder, coming from any section, was discreditable to the country and to the county and the religion to which most of the people belonged. When the meeting was in progress a gang or group came to interrupt and break up that meeting. As I mentioned in sworn testimony in a certain case arising out of that meeting, I myself remonstrated with them and said, “Nobody wants trouble here; you will only get a bad name for the village; if you do not want to listen to the speakers, can you not go away?” Subsequently, a stone came over the house opposite and hit one of the audience. There was a hunt after the stone throwers, a clash between the wreckers of the meeting and the defenders. Two of the defenders were “had up” by the police. The police officers refused to take a statement from one of these defenders. There on the spot, when the events were recent, when recollections were clear, when the witnesses were all around, there was a pointblank refusal to take a statement.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Did you report that to the Commissioner?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I swore it on my oath in the court. I am reporting it to a higher man than the Commissioner. Doubtless the Commissioner reads the evidence given in court. Three witnesses swore to what I am saying. The Deputy's interruption is an insinuation that this is for political purposes; that it is late in the day I am saying that. I am saying it because Deputy Mulcahy's statement here was challenged and because I was an eye-witness of the whole thing. I was more disgusted at the administration of the police in that area, and over that case in particular, than I thought I could be with any [1395] Irish police force functioning under any Irish Government. The Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice know that I have made many speeches with regard to the Department of Justice and the administration of the law since I became an Opposition Deputy.

Mr Cooney: Information on Eamonn Cooney  Zoom on Eamonn Cooney  Mostly bitter.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  On no occasion previously have I ever criticised the police themselves. I have placed the whole thing higher. I have criticised the Department of Justice and I have criticised the administration of the law from the benches opposite. But I have seen a very distinct and deplorable change in police administration in that county, in a portion of that county in particular, in the last four months. There have been various activities in one form or another there. There have been various rows. I never made any noise about the rows, such as they were. None of them was of major importance; none of them did very much damage. I am here, however, to say that the only persons from that county who ever found themselves in the dock in connection with any row were members of the Blueshirt organisation for defending meetings.

The Attorney-General:  In what county?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Leix. I raised the cases of persons from that county before and I got an assurance from the Attorney-General that they would be looked into and brought on a par with other cases. Nothing was done, however. The men served their full sentence. Two men in that county were found with arms in their houses. There was no evidence that they had ever used those arms since the civil war, but there was direct evidence that those arms had been officially issued to them by the military authorities during the civil war. The arms remained in their houses. There was no evidence that they ever used these arms subsequently. They were prosecuted by agents of the Attorney-General and they served their sentence. About the same time, others were found with arms [1396] and there was evidence that they had used them and that those arms had not been given up to the State. The agent or representative of the Attorney-General announced that he had come into court, not to press the case, but to demonstrate that arms should not be carried without permits, and no sentence was imposed on these men. They were openly supporters of Fianna Fáil, and the others were equally openly opponents of Fianna Fáil.

We have another picture depicting the same mental direction in the little village of Ballyroan, where there is a meeting being held, and people turn up to interrupt and break up that meeting, and actually threw stones at the meeting. Those who were there as part of the meeting hunt the stone-throwers, and there is a scrap. The police prosecute two Blueshirts, the very men who were hit by the Blueshirts having refused to prosecute themselves.

I must say that if ever I was disgusted with the administration of justice and with police activity and inactivity, it has been in the last six months in the County of Leix. It may be merely a coincidence that the particular officer responsible has got his promotion. I saw in the other half of the county a dangerous situation, a very dangerous situation, with major trouble about to develop, and I saw a type of police activity that I could not commend too highly. Not a man was struck, not a baton drawn. I have seen really dangerous and menacing situations turned aside, averted by a different type of police activity, by police who came out in the spirit that these people were holding a public meeting, that they were entitled to hold it under the Constitution, and according to some of the pronouncements of some Government Ministers, and that their function was to see that it was not disturbed. When the situation became menacing, they got the disturbers away a reasonable distance. They did not use force, and there was no clash between rival parties. There was no necessity for any force. There was prompt, efficient and commendable police activity.

In the parish of Ballyroan we had [1397] every evidence of the ambusher. We had no police in the village, but we had them in a parked saloon car around the turn, waiting for trouble to develop, as they guessed it would, and then out they came to snatch a Blueshirt from the melee. I want that looked into, and I want the sworn evidence in that case—I do not know how fully it is reported—looked into not only from the point of view of police partiality, but I want a higher examination from the point of view of the partiality or the impartiality of others. I heard an experienced lawyer who is not a supporter, lest anyone might think it, of this Party, say after the case that he was ashamed, and that he felt there was a young man inside fined and penalised for honesty.

There is something wrong with the police administration of late and it looks as if the terror that is spoiling and destroying a grand police force is affecting others than the police. I am one of those, and I have said it time and again, who are brought up in this belief, that trade or prosperity or education or anything else does not matter in a country if the law is marching through the land with a halt or if the scales of justice are weighted in favour as one as against the other. You have the double menace, as I believe, at the moment, that those scales are being weighted and that the march of the law is only carried on with a limp. The agents of the law are marching with that limp throughout the country because they are afraid to administer the law absolutely impartially. It may not be all the fault of those higher up. It may be because of the volume of organised complaints that are passed up about the man who does his duty impartially, charging him with being on one side rather than on the other. I have known and heard of very many police and the last suspicion I would have was that they were either friends of this Party, not to speak of being supporters, and because on occasions they acted in a determined manner against opponents of this Party and wreckers of meetings, the whole mill for turning out lying, slanderous statements [1398] against officers was put into operation and the mill turned all those complaints up on top. I say that, not by way of criticism of those on top. Probably if I were sitting over there myself and got hundreds of complaints about one individual, in the long run I would begin to believe that there must be something wrong with that individual. At all events, the easiest and the safest thing is to take him out of that area and send him somewhere else.

As I said before, it is that fear of the transfer that is paralysing your police officers more than anything else. There are a lot of lying charges being brought against good officers and these officers as a result are being made either weak or bad officers. This is one of the forces that I would be happy to be proud of, but the standing, the prestige of the Irish police force, and I say it with regret, is being undermined. Its stock is falling more rapidly than that of any other service in the State. The kind of statement that we heard, that there are as many people breaking the law on one side as on the other, gets us nowhere. If things are wrong it is no good for any of us to defend a wrong side. If things are wrong, without one scoring over the other we should agree they are wrong and join in trying to right them.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Start now.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  It was Deputy Briscoe who said there were as many crimes on one side as on the other. That is a situation I have been fearing for the past 12 months. It is fully 12 months ago since I said from this side that if this campaign of attacking meetings was allowed to go on, in the long run the Blueshirts would be forced to a policy of reprisal and that, personally, I could never approve of that. It would be nationally discreditable and nationally dangerous. Is it the rule or the exception for a Fianna Fáil meeting to be attacked, interrupted or broken up by Blueshirts?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The exception, I say. I agree with you there.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Is it the rule or the [1399] exception for a Fine Gael meeting to be attacked, interrupted or broken up?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Will the Deputy let me answer him? It is the rule, because Fine Gael brings a county into a parish; they let that county loose on the parish. If Fine Gael would leave their mobilised troops where they belong and not bring them into a meeting they would not have that kind of trouble.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  That kind of cheap evasion of a situation is the curse of your Party. What brought the A.C.A. and the Blueshirts into being? Was it not because free speech was trampled upon?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  No. Vituperation was used from your platforms.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Was it not because from Buncrana to Berehaven a meeting of those opposed to the Government could not be held without it being broken up? Was it not because the Irish Press placard of every Monday morning came out in four inch letters with the words “Mr. Blythe shouted down,”“Cumann na nGaedheal meeting broken up in Kerry”? Was it not because Fianna Fáil Ministers went out and, from Fianna Fáil platforms, referred to the political opposition here as knaves and traitors and told them to stand aside? They appealed to all the passions of the mob that no traitor should be heard in this land and that every patriot, or every brat who wanted to pose as a patriot, should attack the meetings of those traitors. It was because of that long, discreditable and anti-national campaign that the A.C.A. and the Blueshirts came into being in this country. Now we have the slick evasion that it is because you hold a county meeting in a parish. Of course, the President can hold a five-county meeting in a parish and the railway lines are not ripped up or his motor car interfered with. No, and it is just as easy to pull up a railroad going to Cavan as it is to pull up a railroad going to Tullamore. It is just as easy, if we were cowards enough to do it, to fire shots from a safe distance at a Fianna Fáil dance as it is for our opponents to fire shots at a safe distance at our dances, and it is [1400] just as dangerous whether the shots are fired into a Fianna Fáil dance room or a Fine Gael dance room. When all this is going on we have those glib phrases——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  That is the kind of speech that makes the trouble.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  ——those glib phrases: “Push the accursed crowd out of our path.” Is there any condemnation of those who trample on the constitutional rights and liberties of the ordinary people, whether they are with you or against you? Is there any clear-cut, manly and brave condemnation of this thing of trying to shout down any man in this country? When we hear talk about a mandate behind the backs of the majority, are the minority to have no rights in this country and are those who advocate the rights of the minority to be trampled on by the mob, to be stoned from behind a police cordon? My complaint is this— and it is not against the whole police force; I kept explicitly away from all reference to the head of the police force because it might appear that I was biassed—my complaint is that here and there throughout police areas you have either partisan administration in operation or weak administration in operation. Either it is that the police officer in question knows that one crowd are unruly and disorderly and may even shoot, and that it is safer to be behind the butt of the gun than looking down the muzzle of the gun, or it may be that there is official disapproval up above for the police officer who rough-handles or allows his men to rough-handle those who break up a meeting with shouts of “Up de Valera” on their lips. I would be ashamed to see anyone, whether in uniforms of blue, green, red or yellow that with cries of “Up Cosgrave” or “Up O'Duffy” would go and attack President de Valera or any Fianna Fáil Deputy. I would be ashamed of any supporters of ours who fired shots into a Fianna Fáil dance room, not caring whom they wounded and not caring whom they killed. I would be ashamed of any supporters of mine that, with cries of “Up Cosgrave” on their lips, ripped [1401] up railway lines so that those coming from a Fianna Fáil meeting might meet with an accident, or anybody else might meet with an accident who perhaps was travelling by train for business or private purposes.

My charge here to-day is that it is more than a coincidence that when the bag is counted in the evening there will be five blue birds in the bag and only one of green plumage. Read the accounts in the police courts. What have you? You have the case of two or three people in Roscrea coming from a committee meeting—one of them a priest—and the police previously informed that that group, on a previous occasion, was molested, and the police also informed that that group will meet again at a certain hour on a certain evening, and when that certain hour and that certain evening come, we have the priest and his two companions attacked—the priest beaten. We have absolute impartiality produced in the court a fortnight later! We have one of the priest's companions in the dock beside one of the priest's attackers. We have also the other type of weakness that I want inquired into, that the priest's defender was fined three times as much as the priest's attacker. In my remarks I am not speaking to-day as a politician.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  Oh, not at all, you never do!

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I generally do, but to-day I am talking of some particular facts of which I was a witness myself. By the process of insinuation and interruption it was implied to this House that Deputy Mulcahy's statement was not a statement made with knowledge or was not a statement made in accordance with facts, and I was a witness of the one——

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  What about Rathdowney?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I dressed a man's scalp in Rathdowney and in the interests of trying to prevent that kind of trouble from spreading I never yet mentioned it.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Tell the whole story.

[1402]Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I am telling that part of it, at any rate. Of course, the Deputy has arrears of Fianna Fáil to make up. The new recruit has to catch up with the veterans.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I will not make false statements, at any rate.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Cannot you be true to the label you carry? I would rather be an open member of a Party than a tout for any Party.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  You said there was no disorder in Leix-Offaly.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I said there was a little. Look up the records. Look up my exact remarks.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Why did you trot it out then?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Look it up and quote it, because if I am ever to be quoted by any Deputy of this House I would have more confidence in being quoted by any Deputy other than Deputy Davin.

The Attorney-General:  I have listened attentively to the speeches delivered from the Opposition Benches. I paid particular attention to the speech of Deputy Dr. O'Higgins because I find a difficulty, I confess, in diagnosing Deputy O'Higgins—whether he is really, as he said in the concluding part of his speech, speaking not as a politician or whether he is speaking as a very clever politician. However, I prefer to treat a man as putting forward his views honestly, if at all possible, rather than condemning him for attempting to make Party advantage. There were certain things that he said in the course of his speech with which I should like to agree. He asked, was there anybody in this Party who would come forward with a clear-cut denunciation of people who shout down speakers at meetings with cries of “Up de Valera” on their lips? I have no hesitation in denouncing such things, and I do not think, if the Deputy searches the records, he will find that I have ever hesitated.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  You have done it all the time. You have done it continuously.

[1403]The Attorney-General:  However, what, I think, ought to be admitted by the Deputy is that when any of those cases come before the courts, counsel acting on my instructions have denounced this type of outrage and have pressed for punishment for those who were responsible for it. I need not go any further in following the Deputy in the complaints which he makes about the lack of any clear denunciation by our Party of other outrages. I do not really believe that the Deputy means it when he says that we in this Party stand for firing shots into dance halls. I never heard anybody hesitating to denounce the firing into dance halls as an outrage which can do no good whatsoever to any Party and which is indefensible on any grounds whatsoever. It is neither good for the Party nor is it defensible on any ground.

The Deputy, I think, did try to make a reasonable appeal. But I think he and other Deputies who have spoken might have attempted to relieve the picture which they painted of disorder all over the country. He might have alluded to the recent elections. I personally confess that when the recent elections were approaching I felt that there would be outbreaks of disorder. After each week-end I was afraid that we would have very serious cases to deal with in the courts. I think it is reasonable to state, taking into account the fact that the election was fought on keen lines all over the Free State, that during the election the opposition meetings and meetings of all parties went on uninterruptedly with a few exceptions. I think the Opposition might at least have admitted that, in their review of the conditions in general in the country.

In his speech, Deputy Mulcahy followed a different line from other Deputies. That is a line which I think he has followed with rather a deliberate object. There is a line being followed in the weekly paper of the Deputy's Party and by some members of the apposition which seems to me to [1404] amount to an incitement to violence. I could answer the charges made. I could parallel instances of violence produced by the Opposition in this House and I could, if I liked, look through the list of cases which I have dealt with throughout the country and pile up an equal number of cases in which people who would be described as Blueshirts were involved. I do not want to do that. I do not want to take the line that one side is as bad as the other. I agree with Deputy O'Higgins that there is no good in saying that there are outrages on the other side or that there is as much on one side as on the other. What we want to do is to prevent these outrages altogether. To come back to Deputy Mulcahy's speech, the Deputy has been selecting a list of outrages for Question Time and in his speech to-night he piled one on top of another and he used them for the joint indictment of the Minister for Justice and myself. The Minister for Justice is very well able to look after himself. I can content myself with referring to the cases in which he seeks to show that I have been a party to a flagrant disregard of the law, that I have been definitely shirking my duty, stirring up disorder, and adopting what he calls an Oliver Cromwell policy.

Deputy Mulcahy made reference to one case. He referred to it here three or four times while that case was pending in court. That is with reference to the burning of the platform at Mohill. He asked questions about it. I think he ought to have realised that it was not proper to have it discussed here when proceedings were pending in the court. I tried to draw his attention to that aspect of the case and he dropped it. That case is, to a certain extent, now concluded and he has referred to it again. He has repeated his question as to who was responsible for reducing the charges at the District Court and so on, as if there were some sinister mind controlling the prosecution in the case or that there was some influence being brought to bear by me upon the State solicitor or whomsoever is in charge of the case.

[1405] I suppose I ought to deal in a little more detail than I otherwise would have dealt with this matter. I have here before me the reports of the hearing of both cases which arose out of the Mohill case in the District and Circuit Courts. In the District Court a number of persons were charged. First of all, a number of people were arrested. They were remanded and brought before the District Court. When before the District Court there were a number of charges against them. I am not going to read to the House my directions in connection with the case. If the Deputy on the opposite benches would like to look at these directions I would be happy to show them to him. Having read them carefully, I consider it would not be proper to read these directions to the House.

When the cases came on for hearing at Mohill, the prosecution was in charge of the State solicitor, who was an experienced solicitor and one who has been in office since the post was first established in the county. In dealing with these cases he condemned roundly the burning of the platform and the attempt to interfere with free speech and the outrages which took place on that particular night at Mohill. Having in mind all the circumstances of the case he did what, in his judgment, and, having regard to his experiences, he considered best. There ought be some discretion allowed to State solicitors. I am certainly not prepared to accept responsibility for directing every single step in a prosecution or every single action which the State solicitor takes in court. I cannot be expected to do that. I have State solicitors who are competent and who have a sense of their duties, and in the carrying out of these duties they have a sense of their responsibilities. If I did not allow a certain discretion to State solicitors the machinery could not work at all.

This State solicitor, having regard to the circumstances of the case, made an offer. He asked if there was consent to trial on the charge of unlawful assembly in the District Court. As has already been pointed out by the [1406] Minister for Justice, Deputy Mulcahy did not seem to be aware that it is only on consent that the charge of unlawful assembly can be dealt with in the District Court. Section 77 of the Courts of Justice Act gives that power. It is the most ordinary thing in the world where there is a charge that might be dealt with by consent to ask the accused if he consents. The accused consented in this case and the case proceeded. In the result the District Justice convicted a number of these men. Counsel (Mr. Lynch) told the District Justice before he gave his judgment that the Government looked upon these cases with great gravity. In reply to Mr. Rice, the District Justice, Mr. Lynch said that this was the view of the Attorney-General; that some parties were guilty in greater degree than others, and he asked that those be severely dealt with. In his opening remarks, Mr. Lynch said that he had been instructed by the Attorney-General to condemn in the strongest possible manner this unwarranted interference with public meetings, and he was instructed to say that if any similar cases happened in the future the parties would be arrested and brought before the court and the severest penalties asked for. Severe sentences were imposed and bail was taken.

Subsequently, another man who was alleged to have participated in the occurrences of that night was brought up and charged. When I was asked about it by the State solicitor, although Deputy Mulcahy had been making this fuss in the House, I said the man should be treated the same as the others, and if he wished to be dealt with by the District Court he should have the option of having his case tried there. He refused to agree, and was returned for trial. He was tried the other day and the jury acquitted him. The other cases came on for hearing on appeal, and Judge Sheehy, who is an experienced judge, considered that in the interests of peace in the district the proper course for him to take in connection with the cases was to adjourn them all to the next sittings. That is the history of the cases. You have an experienced [1407] solicitor and experienced police officers dealing with the matter. You have an experienced District Justice, and, finally, you have the action of an experienced judge. I do not wish for one moment to be taken as condoning what was done in Mohill. I know there have been complaints by the parties prosecuted in this case that they have been treated severely. In my opinion there is no justification whatsoever for people going out and burning a platform, or interfering with the holding of political meetings.

That is a case about which I say Deputy Mulcahy has raised trouble in the House on several occasions, with questions. It is a case to which he referred, particularly in his speech, and upon which he based a charge which I submit is a charge that ought not to have been made without very serious consideration by a member of the Front Bench opposite, and that was that the Minister for Justice and myself are deliberately acting partially, and are stirring up trouble by so acting. I believe myself from what I have seen and heard that those charges made in the House are having the reaction which one would expect upon the more excitable followers of the Party opposite. I do not want to add any fuel to the fire, but I think I could give some instances of trouble which I believe has been caused by the undercurrent of incitement which has been running through speeches in this House, running through the official organ of the Party opposite for some considerable time past, and which, as far as I can judge—attempting to view the matter in the detached manner in which I always try, as far as possible, to judge those things—is a deliberate policy on the part of some of those persons responsible for the speeches and writings to which I have referred. I say that Deputy Mulcahy is a man against whom I do not wish to make a charge of deliberately and consciously setting out upon a policy of incitement, but I do believe that he should not make those charges without due consideration and a proper weighing up of his words. I submit that this Mohill [1408] incident bears examination by any person, and will show on examination that far from there being the slightest weakness on my part in dealing with the situation, or a weakness on the part of the Guards in dealing with the situation, it will show a determination on our part that the Opposition here shall be allowed a free and fair opportunity of expressing their views and holding their meetings throughout the country. The Opposition can, I think, help. I have already in this House indicated and suggested ways in which we can be helped in this matter. They apparently fell upon stony ground, and I am not going to repeat them. There are certain members of the Opposition who will not judge our conduct fairly.

Deputy O'Higgins made a speech with which in some measure I have already expressed my agreement. On the whole, as regards the tone of his speech this evening I do not wish to make any complaint. I do not know about the incidents to which he referred. I hope he is not right in his inference drawn from what he said he witnessed with his own eyes—that there has been partiality on the part of the Guards. I should hate, just as much as he said he should hate, to see the police force in any way driven into the position of being afraid to do its duty. I hope that is not true. So far as my own experience in dealing with cases goes, and I have a good deal of experience in that way, I do not think it is true. I repeat that for responsible members of the Opposition to seize every opportunity they can to incite their followers by stating that there is partiality in my Department, or in the Department of the Minister for Justice, is something out of which only evil can grow. There can be only evil results from it. When we hear forecasts that this, that, or the other will happen, one can only think that in some cases at any rate the expression which is given as a prophecy is really a hope that the things will happen. I will give just one simple instance which I know is true. The Blueshirt organisation seem to me to have got it into their heads that if a man standing on the roadside or on the street, no matter [1409] how quietly he may be standing there, says, for instance, “Up Dev,” they are entitled to break their ranks and hammer the unfortunate man without mercy. I have known of instances in which that has happened. They seem to think they are entitled to resent a mere political cry in support of Fianna Fáil. I agreed a moment ago that for persons, under the guise of political catch-cries, to descend upon a meeting and break it up or try to drown the speaker, is indefensible, but I myself have known instances in which men were brutally beaten simply because while watching those Blueshirt parades they have made use of a remark such as I have mentioned. I do think that somebody is responsible for that attitude of mind. We had an instance here in Dublin the other day, where one of those men left a procession of Blueshirts, turned on a man and beat him so unmercifully that the District Justice in Dublin gave him a month in jail.

I hesitate to go into those things, but I could give several other instances which would not redound to the credit of the organisation of the Party opposite. I think that before they denounce us so vehemently, so vigorously, and so venomously, they ought to take some account of what is going on in their own ranks. I will close by simply stating that while I say that about the Opposition, and while there are other things which I could say too, I do feel that it is the business of the Government, and the business of the people who imagine they are behind the Government, to go beyond even reasonable limits in tolerating their opponents and allowing them freedom of expression of opinion. I believe that the onus and the duty are upon us as a Government to see that the Opposition and all persons who, acting within the law, attempt to organise their political Party to carry on constitutionally, are allowed to do so. There is no use in our repeating those things in this House, because there are some members opposite who will not believe anything we say, who seem to be only too ready to attribute to us evil motives, even though I think the record of cases and so on would make it quite [1410] clear that what I say is correct. That will not prevent the Opposition from getting up and saying that it is only part of a conspiracy to deprive them of their liberties, and prevent them from exercising their legal rights of free speech and all the rest of it. However, I certainly have no hesitation in saying that so far as I am concerned in any case, I will insist on seeing that the Party opposite, or any other party acting within the law, will have freedom of speech in this country.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  Unfortunately, I was not in for the earlier part of the Attorney-General's speech and neither was I here for the earlier part of this debate but I have listened to the latter portion of what the Attorney-General has said. He referred to one case—I do not know the details of the case— and he referred en passant to certain other things more by a sort of side reference than in detail and he expects us to deduce certain things from what he said. So far as I am concerned, I am satisfied that I have never in the last three years incited to any violence or done anything of that sort, but the Attorney-General says that only evil can grow out of charges of impartiality.

The Attorney-General:  Partiality.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I am so sorry—partiality. There is not much point to my mind in referring to individual cases because justice, as applied in this country, is what I would call more a matter of relationship than of actual individual fact. For instance, the Attorney-General may get up and refer to some incident—he talks about people who shouted “Up Dev” when a Blueshirt procession was going by and about somebody from the procession attacking that person—as a matter calling for disapproval. I quite agree with that, but he refers to something on the other side as though it evens things up. What we must do to judge the Government's fulfilment of its duty with regard to the administration of justice is to try to take a general view of what is happening in the country. I have seen the Government organ, when hundreds of outrages had been [1411] reported, referring to one breach of the law in which it seemed to be clear that the Blueshirts had broken the law. The Attorney-General is not going to get up and say—I think I know him well enough to know that he would not even attempt it—that if you examine the outrages in the country, you will find that 50 per cent. belong to one political side and 50 per cent. to the other political side. He would not attempt to do that.

With regard to partiality in the administration of justice under the régime of the present Government, I do think absolutely sincerely that this Government has shown, in one way and another, a partiality in the administration of justice which I can only call a prostitution of justice. I do not want, merely because I say that, to say that it is proved. The Attorney-General refers to incitements. I have heard the President in this House say that so far as possession of guns by members of an immoral, criminal organisation was concerned, he was not going to make the law effective and get after those people to take their guns from them. On the other hand, I have seen a case in the papers in which a man, who had been given a gun, officially, in 1923 I think it was, for the protection of a house in which a man had been murdered, was duly arrested, tried and sentenced. There is a complete partiality—a distortion of justice and prostitution of justice, although I do not want to apply it to just two cases. If anybody has taken the trouble to read the newspapers during the past 12 months, he will see, day after day, records of outrages, and more than 90 per cent. of those outrages have clearly been the work of supporters of the present Government. Less than 10 per cent. could conceivably be the work of those opposed to the present Government, but when Ministers get up, like the Attorney-General just now, they refer to one or two little cases, or, possibly, big cases, which have happened on the other side.

What have we left? My own experience is that during the early part of the régime of this Government, it was becoming impossible for us to [1412] hold meetings. Adequate police protection was not given. The Army Comrades' Association was formed and they made it impossible for those other people to break up the meetings. They did more, because when those other people came along to assault those who went to the meetings, they quickly discovered that the people who were going to suffer were those who tried to break up meetings. Then, the Government came along and sent enormous police protection. I have had them myself at meetings, very adequate police protection. The people who wanted to break up the meetings were handicapped to some extent, but they were actually protected by the police. Somewhere about last July or August, the Government proclaimed the Blueshirt organisation—at that time the National Guard. I was at a meeting on one Sunday and there were plenty of police there and members of the National Guard were there and the meeting went off quite peaceably. There has been, since this State was established, a State function in the form of an annual commemoration of the founders of this State, General Collins, Mr. Arthur Griffith and in later years, Kevin O'Higgins. Two of those men were murdered. When the present Government came into power they abolished that. Last year, there was to have been a commemoration of these three men. The Government, which is in charge of the State but which regards the people who founded this State as enemies, were taking no part. The Blueshirt organisation at the time undertook to organise it.

I believe it is quite possible that the Government, having made certain police appointments of men, possibly because they were likely to make reports that would please the Government, indicated, by innuendo or, possibly, by direct statement, to the people that they understood that this commemoration of the founders of this State was to be made the occasion of a coup d'état and they proclaimed that organisation. I was speaking at a meeting on the following Sunday and I think there were two policemen present, and those two policemen had to [1413] struggle with men who wanted to assault me. Those men had been very quiet during the previous period because members of the National Guard had been present at every meeting and the National Guard kept those people quiet. The Government came along and affirmed that, in its opinion, the National Guard was an unlawful association, that is to say, an association which fulfilled certain conditions of definition laid down in the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, as being an association which proposed to overthrow the Government by force, to change the Constitution by methods of force and to do various other things. Everybody knows that the National Guard did not propose the methods or set out to achieve the ends that are set out in that amendment to the Constitution as making an organisation unlawful.

In attributing motives one can only use one's judgment—one cannot prove it. There was the fact that the supporters of the Government, the lawless, hooligan class in this country, were going about breaking up meetings. The A.C.A. and the National Guard came into operation and prevented the breaking up of meetings, and occasionally prevented the breaking up of these meetings by dealing pretty severely with the blackguards who attempted to break up meetings. The Government came along and declared unlawful associations which, as everybody knows and as every member of the Fianna Fáil Party knows perfectly well, if they take the trouble to read that Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution and to find out what are the conditions laid down to make an organisation unlawful, were not unlawful. The Government, however, proclaimed them. The Government proclaimed them as a result of that one Sunday. It was not a very serious matter, but the opposition at their meetings became vocal immediately, and two unfortunate policemen had a struggle. All over the country we see, according to the newspapers, outrages day after day. Deputy Mulcahy has a habit of getting up here and asking questions. Occassionally when [1414] one is discussed the reply usually given is that the police are pursuing investigations. Very often one is unable to discuss the nature of these cases because they may be sub judice.

The question is: has the Government set out to establish the reign of justice in this country? I have on previous occasions referred to the case of Commandant Cronin. No one should suffer the penal sentence of the law unless it is clearly proved that that person had set out with malice to break the law. Time and again I have raised the point here, but the Attorney-General has never got up and attempted to suggest that Commandant Cronin did set out to break the law. He belonged to a perfectly lawful organisation. Suddenly the Government, regardless of truth, declared that in its opinion that was an association that fulfilled the conditions that made it an unlawful association. When the Government made that statement the Military Tribunal was bound to accept it from the Government as full and conclusive evidence without being given time to deal with it. I remember that on the following Wednesday we took the first opportunity to dissolve the body that the Government had declared in its opinion was an unlawful association. A prominent member of it was arrested and brought before the Military Tribunal. The Military Tribunal had no option in the circumstances but to find that man guilty, and he had to serve three months in prison. Can any member of the Government Party get up and say that that was an act of justice on the part of the Government? When I referred to it before the Attorney-General failed to get up to attempt to justify it. I belong to a number of organisations or associations at the moment, but I belong to none that, I think, are contrary to law, yet, the Government this afternoon may have proclaimed them to be unlawful. In that case it has power to have me arrested and to bring me before the Military Tribunal which is bound, because of that action of the Government, to find me guilty, although I have been quite unaware of the fact that the Government made the order referred to. I can give that as one specific outrage [1415] against justice, a specific case where the Government prostituted authority, not in the interests of justice, but against justice.

The Attorney-General says that the Government is determined that the Opposition shall be allowed to hold meetings. When we went out of office we handed over to the Government very drastic powers. The Government inherited in operation the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution. The first thing the Government did was to rescind the order putting that amendment into operation, and to let out of prison all those who were imprisoned under it. They thought that was not quite sufficient for one man they released. They gave him a very well paid job as an income tax collector. After some time the Government reinvoked the Seventeenth Amendment, apparently for the purpose of declaring organisations that supported the Opposition to be unlawful; not for the purpose of putting down unlawful associations, and not for the purpose of protecting this State. We saw that recently the man I referred to was arrested and charged with participation in the Mohill case. Time and again we see people brought before the Military Tribunal. We know that the primary purpose of bringing in the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution was this, that the jury system had failed in this country, because citizens who were called upon to act on juries, in cases that came before them, received threatening notices. They knew if they found according to the evidence that they were liable to be assassinated. County Leitrim is a county in which, from what I know of it, this terrorisation of juries could conceivably operate. I do not want to refer to specific cases, but some people have been brought before the Military Tribunal, which had no option but to find them guilty.

The case I referred to of the man who was in gaol when this Government came into power, who was released by the act of this Government, and who was given a well-paid job by this Government, was brought before the court and he was charged with participation [1416] in this outrage in Mohill. A man calling himself chief-of-staff of the I.R.A. in that district, speaking in that district a couple of weeks ago, referred to this man as Commandant O'Farrell. He said that although all the officers of the I.R.A. were arrested, still the I.R.A. was going towards its objective. In that same speech I think this leader of the I.R.A. said that their means were to be revolutionary—to establish the Republic by revolutionary methods. He said they stood for a certain social order and that there were plenty of young men—apparently satisfactory from the I.R.A. point of view —who were ready to take over land that at present belonged to farmers. The whole statement indicated what everyone knows to be a fact, that the I.R.A. is out to overthrow this State and Constitution, as at present established, by revolutionary methods; by methods of armed force, and that having done that it proposes to enter upon a new social system in which expropriation and denial of ownership will play an essential part. The chief-of-staff of the I.R.A. referred to this man who was released from gaol, and who was given a well-paid job, as a commandant in that organisation. The Government gives a job to a man belonging to an organisation which seeks to overthrow this State and which seeks to establish what most people in this country will consider to be a system contrary to Christian morality. You may say that the best thing to do is to buy off these people. Did it buy him off? We find more than two years after the Government has performed an act of clemency, and has acted generously out of the taxpayers' money, that this man is a commandant in a revolutionary organisation, an organisation which exists to overthrow this State by revolutionary methods, an organisation which, we know, has, as one of its aims, the procuring of perjury amongst juries and witnesses.

The Government inherited the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, the fundamental purpose of which was that there was a situation in this country in which juries were given the option practically between permitting perjury and facing assassination. The Government chose in that case to [1417] bring their darling, the man they released from prison, and to whom they gave a well-paid job, before a jury in County Leitrim, where, as everyone knows, it is possible for members of a jury to feel themselves in jeopardy of their lives. I have seen a document which was sent to members of a jury in Dublin from—I think the address was 23 Dawson Street, the Publicity Department of Cumann na mBan, a document which the President referred to in his speech in Tralee. That document warned the jury that unless they called upon eternal truth to bear witness to a lie, unless they broke their oath, they were liable to meet a traitor's fate. Was any action taken against that organisation? Was the building in Dawson Street from which that diabolical document emanated closed down by order of the Military Tribunal? Nothing of the sort. If we are going to judge the Government's distribution of justice we must know how it works out relatively There was a time when the Whiteboy Act prevailed, when it was an offence carrying with it a severe penalty to injure a fence, and when it was a capital offence to steal a sheep.

There was a time when it was a capital offence to steal a sheep, possibly arising out of the circumstances of the time. It might be, in a country, necessary to impose the death penalty for sheep stealing. That could, conceivably, be right but it could not conceivably be right that, whereas one man who stole a sheep would be made an income tax collector, another man, who was guilty of the same offence because he did not agree with the Government in power, would be tried and duly executed. That is what this Government did. If you go through the list of outrages committed in this country during the last two years, you will find that the vast majority of the perpetrators escaped scot free. You will find also that a great number who could properly have been brought before the Military Tribunal—I referred before to the case in Longford and I refer now to the case in Leitrim —have been brought before a jury, in counties in which the criminal organisation with which the accused was [1418] associated is strong. That criminal organisation was able to exercise pressure on the jury and to create amongst the jurymen a sense of terror. Is that compatible with justice? I cannot see that it is.

We had the Attorney-General saying that our statements are likely to add to the fire amongst our more extreme supporters. What does the Government do? Even this week I saw in the Government organ a reference to us as the worst Opposition that had ever blistered a country or a State or a nation—I have forgotten which. If we blister this nation what does that amount to?

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  It is not criminal to say that.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  In the circumstances of this country it certainly is. I remember one time at which the President got up here to express the same pious thoughts that he usually does, the same thoughts to which the Attorney-General has given expression now, and he said that he did not approve of calling us traitors and renegades. I said that one of his own Ministers had done it and he replied: “But I was not present.” We have Ministers denouncing us as traitors and we know that the organisations, with which members of the Government have been associated in the past, used to talk about a traitor's fate. When the Government does that, in the existing circumstances of this country, it really is an incitement to the lawless elements to take certain action. There is no doubt about it. The Attorney-General talks about certain statements of ours in regard to the partial administration of justice as calculated to do harm in this country. Anybody who has taken the trouble to read the speeches made by the leaders of the Government can see the harm which they are calculated to bring about. Take, for instance, the speech recently made by the Minister for Defence in which he clearly indicated to his audience that they might hope to have the lands belonging to their neighbours distributed amongst them. There was an appeal to the basest passions in this country, an [1419] appeal to the cupidity of those who support the Government.

If we look at the papers we constantly find reports of these outrages at meetings. It could quite easily be that the police had not the means of getting after these people. There is no doubt that in this country, even under our régime, and in every country in a greater or a lesser degree, there are crimes committed and the perpetrators are not brought to justice, due very often to the inadequacy of the means of detection or due possibly to a flaw in the law which gives protection to the criminal. But here this Government have invoked the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution. A week or so ago it voted £25,000 for Secret Service. It hardly needs money for Secret Service at the moment. It knows the whole headquarters staff of the I.R.A. It knows that the I.R.A. is an unlawful association. The Minister for Justice said, within the last few months, that anything that happened at meetings of the I.R.A. is known to him within 24 hours. The Government has power to arrest each and every member of these unlawful associations and to call upon them to make available to the police authorities all the information with regard to the organisation and its members that is in their possession. If they fail to do that, penal sanctions apply. The Government has not done that. Meeting after meeting takes place and the Government has ample means of bringing to justice the people who attend these meetings. The police can arrest these men and call upon them to make available the information in their possession, but they have not done that. I shall just refer to one case to which Deputy Dr. O'Higgins may have already referred. A month or so ago Dr. O'Higgins and I were in a place called Ballyroan. There were a number of Blueshirts there and certain supporters of the Government Party threw stones at our meeting. I do not want to pursue this matter if it is sub judice. Is it?

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  He told the story.

[1420]Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  The Blueshirts went after the parties who were throwing stones, as was their duty. You know that if you stand by if somebody is being assaulted—and I could quote you even a very high authority in support of this—you really share in the guilt of the assault. One of the stones thrown actually struck a girl at the meeting. Yet the men who followed the stone-throwers were arrested, but so far as I have heard none of the people who threw the stones and tried to break up the meeting, was arrested. That is one isolated case. One could invite the Government to state every case where a Blueshirt breaks out of a procession to deal with somebody who shouts “Up Dev”; one could take every case like that and give 100 cases on the other side. For every case of a breach of the law by our supporters, one could bring forward several cases in which the Government's leniency and its concern to save the breaker of the law on its own side has been clearly manifested. We had that case at Ballyroan, and yet the Government talks about incitement and the rest of it. Some time ago there was a fire in this building. What did the Government do? The Government was having a sort of Party——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That happened more than a year ago and so does not arise on this Bill.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I am very sorry, Sir. Of course if I might say so, I could make it relevant because, arising out of the suggestion that this was an attempt at incendiarism, the Government added to the numbers of the police forces, and the cost of the additional police forces is being voted in this year's Appropriation Account. However, I do not want to pursue that. The Attorney-General says that somebody is responsible for the fact that a Blueshirt got out of a procession and attacked somebody who shouted “Up, de Valera.” Of course somebody is responsible. What has happened for two years? The Blueshirt organisation, or our organisation, has been constantly subjected to outrage. There have been cases time and [1421] again in which everybody knew the men who had actually perpetrated the outrages, but the perpetrators were never prosecuted. There was a general feeling in the country, a well-founded general feeling, that the Government is out to save these people from the penalties of breaking the law because those people support the Government, and one can take that from the speeches of the very highest people in the country at the moment. As the President himself has said, he is not going to make himself so foolish as to collect the guns from the I.R.A. Yet a man who had a gun that was given to him officially for the purpose of protecting a house in which a murder had been committed previously, was prosecuted. But the I.R.A. are not to be interfered with. The Government has it in its power to arrest everybody that it thinks can give information which will enable it to bring people to justice. I think it was last year when there was a rail strike, a train was derailed, and in consequence of that, two men lost their lives.

Did the Government use the powers which it had in its hands under Constitutional Amendment Act No. 17, to the full, in order to get after those who were guilty of those murders? I doubt it very much. The Government, within the last 12 months, proclaimed an organisation which, to my own knowledge, made meetings possible in this country. Thus judging, post hoc procter hoc, it was only after the Blueshirts' organisation came into existence, and protected meetings, that the Government really attempted to protect meetings. Now the Government turns around and while not even the smallest thing can be said against the Blueshirt organisation, they make an attack upon it and bring its members before the Military Tribunal. Personally, I do not care what organisation a man belongs to, he should be made amenable to the law. If a member of any organisation breaks the law I am quite willing, and quite happy, that he should be punished. But I am not happy when I know of a hundred cases or more, where guilty parties, because they belong to the Government [1422] following, can do what they like because the Government simply neglects to do its duty. Take up the newspapers any day this week, and you will see where outrage after outrage has been committed, and no one brought to justice. The President and Ministers say that we, the Opposition, are holding meetings, and that it puts a great strain upon the police force. There would be no need for any such strain upon the police force if the Government only used their powers properly. It has power to get after the members of the organisation that causes all this trouble in the country. It has no legal power to get after the members of the Blueshirt organisation, because that is not an unlawful organisation. For the Attorney-General or anyone else to say that we are guilty of causing disorder because we referred to the partiality of the Government is simply outrageous nonsense. The promoters of disorder are those who have reasonable grounds for recognising that there is partiality on the part of the Government, and that the Government will not proceed against them.

We have had the case of Commandant Cronin, where he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in defiance of all justice. We have had others brought before juries in Longford, Leitrim and other places. It was clear to the ordinary man in the street that these men were found innocent, contrary to the evidence, because the jurors were suffering from pressure exercised on them from outside. There was no need for those cases to come before juries because Constitutional Amendment Act No. 17 was introduced for the purpose of saving jurors from such intimidation. Members of the Blueshirt organisation have been brought before the Military Tribunal. Is there any suggestion by the Government that members of the Blueshirt organisation would seek to protect their fellow-members from punishment by attempting to procure perjury amongst jurors? No such thing has ever been attempted. President de Valera, in his speech in Tralee, referred to cases where attempts were made to influence [1423] jurors. He produced a document calling upon jurors to commit perjury with an implied threat if they did not do so. The organisation that issued that document exists to-day. It has its offices, and no questions are asked about it. Whatever may be urged against individual members of the Blueshirts, it can never be urged that they use their organisation to cripple justice by bringing pressure to bear on jurymen to commit perjury. Yet, members of the Blueshirt organisation are brought before the Military Tribunal which exists because of the threat against jurors, and people who threaten jurors are brought before jurors and not before the Military Tribunal. Why is that? It can only be because the Government wish to prostitute justice.

I do not say that the Government now wish to see these attacks upon our meetings. It is a little bit annoying to them that their own loyal supporters should create these riots. It takes away somewhat from the respectability that the President loves to flaunt to the country. There is one way of dealing with that, that is by carrying out the law, but the Government does not do that. It is quite true, they may say, we do not want this interference with meetings. I do not contest that. But in its corporate position as a Government it is bound to act in the ordinary way that ordinary intelligence should act. I think the Government's whole policy is this: It clearly suggests that anyone who shouts “Up the Republic” stands for something so high and noble that special privileges must be given them. We have been denounced as “Imperialists.” The Government go round the country and pander to the ignorant clamour by saying “we are the Republican Party.” Personally, I do not mind what views a person has, provided they are the result of thought and reason, but I strongly object to the Government of the Free State for the manner in which they are acting. If anybody goes against the law of the Free State, or desires to overthrow the Constitution, the Government has the power and the right to deal with [1424] them. It has not any right to deal with the Blueshirt organisation as it has done, while it refuses to deal with an illegal organisation. I call that a clear case of injustice.

The Government proclaimed the Blueshirt organisation and the National Guard, but they did not proclaim the I.R.A. There you have a case of complete partiality on the part of those supposed to administer justice. The Attorney-General says that to say that there is partiality on the part of the Government is to incite to revolution. Very well, if that is true the Government has the responsibility for promoting this hectic revolutionary ferment of feeling in this country. There never was any attempt on the part of the Government to put an honest case forward with regard to the administration of justice in this country. I could refer to more than a hundred cases in which members of the organisation supporting the Opposition Party in this House have been pursued in the most vehement manner. The Government used loaded dice against them, on every possible occasion, and in every possible way, while their agents did everything possible to favour our opponents. It is no good to refer to individual cases and say why did the Government do this or do that? The truth is there is one kind of justice for one section of the community and another kind of justice for another section of the community. The Government in the eyes of every reasonable person, who has taken the trouble to watch the happenings of the last few years, must be utterly discredited. It has received authority for the promotion of justice but it has used that authority for the promotion of justice only to those who favour their authority and injustice to those opposed to them. Time and again the Leaders of the Fianna Fáil Party have got up and suggested that we have no right to criticise the Government. The President has a peculiar notion in regard to other men's opinions. With regard to the Treaty, he talked about an Irish reading and an English reading. With regard to our relationship with England, he talked about an Irish view and an English view. Personally, [1425] I do not care twopence about an English or an Irish view. I am only interested in the truth. The President suggests that we are not to consider the truth, that there should be an Irish view, that we should shout something regardless of truth and that anybody who refuses to do that is a traitor and an enemy of his country. The President, to my mind, has done more than anybody else in the history of this country to destroy this nation and everything it stood for. His every speech and the speeches of the members of his Government are devoted to condemning us for criticism which he does not attempt to refute. He sends his representatives around the country to try and excite the Corrys and people like that by saying that we are fighting England's battle and playing England's game. If to stand for the truth is playing England's game, then I am for playing England's game all the time. The President and his Ministers have implied that proper support of this country is incompatible with truth. I do not know of any greater condemnation of Irish nationalism which could possibly be made. He has definitely encouraged the I.R.A. and all these organisations. I know that, at the moment, they are a bit of a nuisance to him and that he would much rather the I.R.A. quietly dissolved and became merely Fianna Fáil clubs. He thinks that that is an argument in his favour. The truth is that if he disapproves of the I.R.A. as an organisation because he thinks it is against the interests of this country, he should, so far as he has power within the law, deal with that organisation. But he gets up and says he disapproves of the I.R.A., that they are foolish, that their actions are sometimes indefensible but he will not use the power and authority he has received for the purpose of being used against such organisations. He is doing a very dangerous thing. If one wants to know whether or not he is acting rightly in regard to these matters, the position can be judged by taking a hypothetical case. Suppose the I.R.A. organisation perpetrated some outrage in the Six Counties or Great Britain. That is not an inconceivable hypothesis because, some few years ago, when the [1426] President was associated with these organisations, some people went in a motor car to Cobh and, in a most diabolical and cowardly way, turned a machine gun on certain British troops down there.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  That was done by your own gang and you know it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  We are discussing the Appropriation Bill for 1934-35 and not the events of 1922, 1923 or 1924. The President and the Executive Council are responsible for their actions to this House since they took office but not for anything that occurred before that.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I thought it might be suggested that I was putting something which was inconceivable. I only referred to that incident to show that I was referring to what might possibly happen.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  You know who did it.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  If the Deputy knows who did it, it is his duty to give the information to the Government.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Good pensions you gave them for it.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  If the Deputy knows who did it, it is his duty to come forward and make that information available to the Government. If the Deputy has any information, he should make it available to the Government and see that justice is done. Nobody will be more glad than I shall be to see justice done, no matter who did the act.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The men you charged stood their trial and were acquitted.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  If you want to consider whether or not the Government is acting rightly in connection with the I.R.A., I suggest this hypothesis. Suppose that organisation used its organised power to perpetrate some outrage in the Six Counties or Great Britain. Remember, the Great War arose out of just such a situation. In the case of the Great War, it was known that the organisation guilty of certain murders had been [1427] favoured by a certain Government. That Government, so far as I remember, did not show any greater favour to that organisation than the present Government does to the I.R.A. If that happened, this whole State might very easily be involved in a very serious situation. Personally, I am satisfied that if such a thing were to happen, the offended Government would have, from the mere facts of the case during the last two years, ample grounds for saying that this Government shared in the responsibility by reason of its inaction with regard to this subversive organisation within the ambit of its authority.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Send up a couple of your Blueshirts.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  Shut up. There is, I think, a very bad feeling in the country. I am, I admit, a pessimist. I am not purporting to speak for my Party. In this country—let us admit it—we have very bad traditions in this connection. This is a country with a tradition of revolution. It is a country in which authority and power were not associated with legitimate government. We have, in our own time, and others had before our time, achieved political ends by extra-political means. We have not had that long tradition of stability which makes people automatically submissive to law. Now, this Government comes along and what does it do? If it had sat down to think out how it could make all the forces of this country revolutionary and subversive, I do not think it could have done better than it has done. The Communist Party are given quite a free hand. The I.R.A., the Cumann na mBan and the Congressists are all under the banner of extreme nationalism. We must regard them all as patriots and heroes. Though we disagree with their exact methods, we must admit that they stand for noble ideals. If you read the resolutions passed by Fianna Fáil clubs, you will see that these clubs are composed of people who are incapable of conceiving how a State should be run or how order should [1428] be maintained. There remain, then, the ordinary people of the country, farmers pre-eminently, who say that the Government is using its power to treat them unjustly. You have President de Valera going down to the City of Cork and suggesting that the land might be taken from the farmers. The Minister for Defence goes to Dundalk or somewhere else and there states clearly that the land should be taken from the farmers unless they use it exactly as the Government direct, unless the farmers recognise the Government as really the owners of the land and themselves as only in occupation. The farmers were owners of their land subject to their paying a certain amount annually until they had paid off a certain debt that remained on the land. That was the position up to the time this Government came into office. This Government made the farmers pay what they call an annuity but what is actually a tax or rent to the Government in relation to the land they hold. That, to my mind—I do not see how it can be argued otherwise—was an act of expropriation on the part of this Government. The farmers do not own their land as they did prior to last year. The Government say that it acted very generously in fixing a rent of half of what the farmers previously paid by way of annuities. With exactly the some power, if the Government thought it politically feasible, they could increase that rent to four times the amount. In the first part of last year, the farmers were debited with a half-gale of land annuities— £2,000,000. In the second part of the year, that was halved and they had to pay £1,000,000. That was £3,000,000. The British Government collected £4,550,000, which makes £7,500,000. The farmers paid that amount last year whereas previously, in annuities under all the Land Acts, they paid only £4,000,000. Last year, the farmers had to pay twice as much in land annuities as they were legally bound to pay previously. At the same time, the Government reduces the grant in relief of agricultural rates. By their policy in connection with the economic war, they have reduced the value of everything [1429] the farmer had to sell to such a point—I think it is hardly deniable —that the majority of the farmers at the end of the year had made more of a loss than a gain.

Mr. S. Flynn: Information on Stephen Flynn  Zoom on Stephen Flynn  They gave you your answer yesterday week.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I cannot hear what the Deputy says.

Mr. Flynn:  I said that you got your answer last week at the local elections. The results show that the people are behind the present Government.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I am talking about the fact that as far as I can judge the farmers last week indicated pretty clearly that they were not as pleased with the Fianna Fáil Party as they were in the beginning of last year say.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  What about the results of the 23 county council elections?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Fianna Fáil has a majority on 14 of them.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  Personally I have found the results of the elections quite satisfactory from my point of view.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  All Parties being satisfied, I think that we might get back to the Bill.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I am talking just about facts. Last year our farmers had to pay about twice as much in land charges as they previously paid, and they had to pay more in rates also. This Government, by its action, has reduced the value of what they possess. It has reduced the value of all that they are producing. Generally speaking, our farmers have been producing rather at a loss than at a profit. The Fianna Fáil dope was able to mislead them for a period, but sooner or later these people must recognise the fact that this Government is outraging justice with regard to them and is actually treating them in a way that justice does not permit. It is quite possible that at a given moment the farmer will see that not only is he being charged all this money, but that whatever little accumulated capital he may have had will be dissipated with the passage of time. President de Valera gets up and says that the Fianna Fáil Government, with its present policy, is [1430] going to stay in for the full period of three and a half years. That is practically inciting to revolutionary methods in this country. If a person sees that a Government, by its action, is denuding him of what lawfully belongs to him and he feels aggrieved and if the Government at the same time indicates that every constitutional way of stopping that is barred to him, he will tend, especially with our traditions, to think in a more revolutionary way!

The policy of the Government seems to me to be, on the one hand, dragging what every Irish nationalist has stood for in the mud, to degrade Ireland; and on the other hand, it tends to exaggerate all those evil traditions that we have, evil traditions that were not innate in us but arose out of historical circumstances—instability, the overthrow of order and, generally, a revolutionary tradition. This Government seems to me to be doing that. I am not saying that for Party purposes. I am gravely concerned about it. Personally, I do not care twopence about one Party more than another. If the Fianna Fáil Party embarked on any policy that I thought was for the moral and material betterment of the people, I would not feel that beautiful loyalty that my friend Deputy Eamonn Donnelly has. I would not feel called upon to act against them. But apparently the members of the Government cannot think in other than Party terms, as, for instance, when the President talked with regard to the Seanad. He said that he would love to have a Seanad of wise elders who would bring their accumulated wisdom on the various problems submitted to them. But he said that those Senators would be bound to be members of a Party so that if they supported one Party and backed up the Government they would not be worth having, while if they supported the Opposition they would simply be a nuisance. The President cannot conceive it as possible that people will form a judgment other than according to Party bias. To him it is inconceivable that a body of men should sit down and bring their judgment to bear on what they saw would be for the betterment of the [1431] country. He can only think that what they would do would be to say “Up, Dev.,” and what he stands for at the moment, or “Up, O'Duffy.,” and what he stands for. That attitude is innate in every action of his.

On this question of justice I cannot conceive anything more brazen than for anybody to get up and suggest that the Government have used all their powers in a most impartial way for the maintenance of order and for the putting down of lawlessness in this country. We had the case of one man who was quite properly sentenced under the previous régime. The first thing this Government did was to release him as an act of clemency and then to reward him with a job.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy should not repeat himself. This is the third time he has mentioned that case in his speech.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  There are so few cases that one can mention that are not sub judice.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The limitations on debate are not prescribed by me, but there is the limitation that a case cannot be elaborated three times in the one speech.

Mr. Flynn:  Would the Deputy tell us about the case of the egg dealer in Cavan and the treatment that he got from the Blueshirts.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  If there was any outrage in that county and that a Blueshirt had anything to do with it, then I would expect the law to get after him. I want to conclude my speech by saying that it is abundantly clear to everyone who has been reading the newspapers during the last two years that there have been an enormous number of outrages so far as supporters of the Government are concerned and very few so far as the Opposition are concerned. So far as the Opposition supporters are concerned the Government have got after them in every possible way to see that the accused persons got the full sentences that they could conceivably get. In some cases the Government used their powers to see that men got sentences [1432] that were incompatible with justice. As far as those who support the Government are concerned, more than 99 per cent. of them have gone completely unpunished, and with regard to the other 1 per cent. many of their supporters, instead of being brought before the Military Tribunal, as they should have been, have been sent before juries when the Government knew perfectly well that the organisations behind these men had repeatedly in the past, even under the previous régime, attempted to suborn jurors by the threat of death, and in that way succeeded in getting verdicts brought in that were not in accordance with the evidence. Because of that I say that this Government has prostituted justice. The people pre-eminently responsible for that are the Government, which has shown a marked partiality in its administration of justice.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I would not care to challenge the accuracy of the statements or allegations made by Deputy O'Higgins or Deputy Dillon concerning the scenes of disorder that are alleged to have taken place recently at Ballyroan and Ballina. But I very definitely challenge the wisdom of Deputy O'Higgins in coming out in the first instance and making complaints against officers and members of the Guards, who are not here to defend themselves. Deputy O'Higgins claims to be a model man in every respect. He claims to be infallible politically. I think that as a Deputy who pretends that he stands for the impartial administration of justice he should, in the first instance, as any ordinary Deputy would have done, have made his complaints to the Commissioner of the Guards and put them in writing, if necessary, if he had any charges to make against the members of the Gárda Síochána who were present at this famous meeting at Ballyroan on a recent occasion. During the régime of the late Government, and even since the Fianna Fáil Government came into office, I have on more than one occasion suspected that the Guards had not been acting impartially in certain matters, but I have never come to this House and made the allegations [1433] here. So far as I can recollect, I have never done so during the 12 years that I have been a member of the House. I have never made an allegation against an officer or member of the Guards across this House. On one particular occasion during the régime of the Cosgrave Government I did go to the then Minister for Justice, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, and made very serious allegations against the actions of certain Guards in a certain station in my constituency. An inquiry was held by the late Commissioner and every member of that station, whether a sergeant or an ordinary guard, was either fined, reduced or removed. That was in the interests of discipline in the area. I think Deputy O'Higgins should, in fairness to the Government, if he wants action of a proper kind to be taken, effective action to be taken, go to the Commissioner and state his case, or put it in writing, as ordinary Deputies have been in the habit of doing.

I resent and strongly protest against the action of Deputy Mulcahy—I thought he would have learned a lesson from the opinion of the people as to himself and his Party last week— in coming to this House and, in a Hamar-Greenwood-like fashion, making allegations about disorder which was alleged to have taken place in certain parts of my constituency. Deputy O'Higgins himself, when questioned by me in this House three weeks ago, admitted that there was very little disorder in the constituency of Leix-Offaly. I know of no disorder of any serious nature, and I cannot remember any disorder having been reported to me from that constituency since this Government came into office.

Deputy O'Higgins talked about the Ballyroan incident, and I shall leave it to the Minister for Justice to tell the House whether any complaints had been made to the Commissioner or to the Minister himself in connection with what took place there. Deputy O'Higgins did not know, I am sure, that police court proceedings were going to take place on the Monday after the meeting was held. Why, therefore, did he not go to the Commissioner of the [1434] Gárda, or make representations to the Minister for Justice, concerning the alleged partiality or partial action taken by the officer in charge of the Guards on that occasion?

Deputy Mulcahy talked about the disorder that is alleged to have taken place repeatedly on recent occasions in the village of Ballacolla. I am a native of that district and all my people reside in that part of the county. I know more about what is taking place in that district than Deputy Mulcahy will learn during the remainder of his life. It is certainly uncalled for on the part of the Deputy, who was at one time fired out of the Army Council and the Executive Council by his late colleagues, to come here with allegations of that kind.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That has nothing to do with the Bill.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I suggest that if anything wrong has taken place in Ballacolla and if complaints have to be made about what is supposed to have taken place, or what is taking place, the proper persons to make the complaints, if they are to be made in this House, are Deputies O'Higgins and Finlay. Deputy Finlay—I am sorry he is not here—lives within a very short distance of Ballacolla, and I believe he is a constant visitor there. Nobody knows better than Deputy Finlay what has taken place in that village in the past month or two or since he became a member. He is competent to express an opinion as to recent incidents in that place. Deputy Mulcahy alleges that the disorder there takes place as a result of certain sneering remarks made by people who sit on the window-sill of the local Gárda barracks. How many people could sit on the window-sill of a Gárda barracks in Ballacolla or anywhere else? Certainly not more than two. That is the assembly that is supposed to be responsible for the alleged disorder taking place in that peaceful village. I would advise Deputy Mulcahy, who goes on repeating those Hamar-Greenwood-like stories weekly in this House, to learn some lesson from the people's opinion of himself and his Party as expressed in the ballot boxes last week.

[1435] He also referred, and he is not a judge in the matter either, to an incident which is supposed to have occurred at a Blueshirt dance and whist drive in Rathdowney, my own native town. I understand that the Blueshirt ladies and gentlemen, to the number of 52, who wished to honour Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy Finlay in the usual League of Youth style on their visit to that whist drive and dance, which was attended by the depressed farmers of the surrounding district, paraded the town, starting from a certain place which I shall not mention, about 11 o'clock at night. Somebody boohed Deputy Finlay on his way to this dance and whist drive, and the rules of this House and of any other place would not allow me to repeat the inciting language used by Deputy Finlay as the result of some silly fool boohing him. That is the disorder which is supposed to have taken place at Rathdowney. I am sorry that the Minister or the Attorney-General does not send a shorthand notetaker to take a note of some of the speeches delivered by Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy Finlay at some semi-private whist drives and dances. It would be interesting to have them repeated in this House. I have a sort of idea, although I am not a lawyer, that the Attorney-General would be closely considering the language used, or alleged to have been used, by one or other of these Deputies on recent occasions.

There was a meeting some short time ago in the village of Errill, near Rathdowney. It was reported in the daily Press that a brawl had taken place there and that Deputy O'Higgins was refused a hearing. What really happened, as far as I am informed, and I have good information on the matter, is that the League of Youth, which contains members up to the age of 70 and 80 in this particular area—aged youths who never had an national outlook—advertised a meeting in this peaceful village where, as far as I can recollect since I was a boy, no trouble of any kind ever took place at any political meeting. They [1436] imported a Blueshirt band and blackguards from Cashel—a band which is parading around that part of the country attending every meeting organised by the Blueshirts for the purpose of entertaining the people with music of a kind they do not want to hear. The people in my constituency, and I think also the supporters of Deputy O'Higgins in that area, would be obliged if Fine Gael would not bring that band of blackguard Blueshirts into that area.

Mr. Holohan: Information on Richard Holohan  Zoom on Richard Holohan  What did they do that you call them blackguards?

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  The language they use is not used by decent people. What is the necessity for parading ladies and gentlemen, young and old, in blue shirts outside a chapel early on a Sunday morning when Mass is going on? The only meeting of any importance held in my area since General O'Duffy became commander-in-chief of the Blueshirt army was at Tullamore. I have to congratulate the intelligent people of Tullamore on having heard General O'Duffy in silence. At least those who did not believe in his policy walked out of the town and allowed the imported meeting, which was brought into Tullamore, with bands and banners, blue shirts and blue blouses, to be carried on in a peaceful manner. I hope they will treat him in the same way in every other part of my constituency that he frequents.

Deputy O'Higgins has in this House, and to me personally, expressed his desire on more than one occasion for the maintenance of peace at all public meetings in the constituency of Leix-Offaly. I am glad to say that nothing abnormal has taken place in that constituency during the past couple of years. Deputy O'Higgins would help to maintain peace in the future at meetings in that constituency if he would not, when addressing meetings, refer to the political opponents of the Government, as he has been reported in the Press, as corner boys, hooligans, blackguards and riff-raff. I do not think that anybody who wants to have a peaceful meeting, either in his own constituency or in another constituency, [1437] should use language of that kind when addressing the people of the area or, through the Press, those who may read his remarks. That kind of language is certainly unworthy of any person who proclaims himself to be the standard bearer of law and order and is certainly not going to encourage people to listen to him patiently. I hope Deputy O'Higgins will make his own contribution in the future to the peace of the constituency by refraining from referring to opponents in the language which I have just quoted and which is the language that Deputy O'Higgins has been reported in the local Press as having used on more than one occasion.

Deputy Mulcahy said the members of this Party are supporting the Government in the old British policy of stirring up turmoil. I do not think that anything remarkable has happened, except in a few areas, during the past two or three years. I regard the people who go to public meetings held under the auspices of the Blueshirts and who interrupt these meetings as the best organisers of the Blueshirt movement. They are foolish young fellows and girls who are incapable of realising the help they are giving to maintain that organisation. They would be well advised, if they are friendly to this Government and if they stand for real freedom in this country, to desist and not interrupt Blueshirt meetings. Let them keep away from the meetings if they cannot tolerate the views of their opponents.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  And if they cannot desist what should be done to them?

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  There is one thing that I must condemn and I am sorry to have to do it. I read remarks by General O'Duffy at a recent meeting in Tipperary and at another meeting in the West. He publicly condemned the chief superintendent of the area concerned. I wonder what would General O'Duffy, if he was still Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána, think of any politician, especially a leader of a political Party, who would use a public platform for the purpose of condemning [1438] the chief superintendent of the area? There is a proper way of making a complaint and that is to the Commissioner, who is responsible for the conduct of his officers. If the complaint is serious enough it can be made to the Minister for Justice. I understand that General O'Duffy, speaking about the chief superintendent at a Tipperary meeting, said that the man was to his own knowledge, when he was commissioner, unfit for the position he held and if he were now commissioner the chief superintendent would not be in charge of that or any other area in the State. That is most uncalled for, coming from the Leader of a Party supposed to be standing for the impartial administration of justice. It is particularly uncalled for coming from an ex-commissioner who had some responsibility for the position of the officer concerned.

Deputy Mulcahy, to my amusement and amazement, quoted at length here from what I regard as the secret service files of the League of Youth. I wonder who are the people paid for supplying this ridiculously wrong information to the Deputy? Can the Deputy be regarded as the head of the secret service section of the League of Youth, or the league of old men and women if you like? I advise him that when he thinks fit to go outside his constituency to rake up mud for the information of enemies of this country he should make sure of his information before he quotes it. He should go to the proper channel in order to make complaints and place responsibility on the Minister, if the Minister refuses to take proper action.

There is one thing that strikes me as being responsible for a lot of the political excitement of the past few years. It is a most extraordinary state of affairs to find three Parties attending commemoration ceremonies at the grave of Wolfe Tone, all of them claiming in turn that if Wolfe Tone were alive he would be the leader of their particular Party.

Mr. Curran: Information on Richard Curran  Zoom on Richard Curran  Have you a grievance because you were not there?

[1439]Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I do not believe in that kind of mockery being carried on by any Party, any more than I believe in those who go round wearing black clothes to mourn people they are very glad to get rid of, as very often happens in this country. There is a terrible lot of hypocrisy in people assembling around the grave of Wolfe Tone. If Wolfe Tone were alive to-day he might have done something far different to the people in office and who have power to-day. I will make the suggestion to Deputy O'Higgins, as the man who ran away from the A.C.A., and to General O'Duffy, who is the leader of the Opposition Party, and to the members of the present Government, that they should agree, if possible, to give up these commemoration ceremonies and demonstrations, which usually are accompanied by processions of Blueshirts or Greenshirts. They should give them up for a stated period. We have had enough of politics from public platforms. Inside two and a half years we have had two general elections and a local election and I think every Deputy, especially any Deputy who has fought as many general elections as I have, would be glad if there was no more necessity outside this House to ventilate political views. We should make up our minds to give up these demonstrations for a period and perhaps that might help to pave the way to more peaceful conditions.

I had intended dealing with other matters which, in my opinion, are more pertinent to a discussion on this Bill, but the Opposition appear to have made this a field day for dealing with matters affecting the administration of law and order and particularly the administration of the Department of Justice. Certain Opposition Deputies have been getting up since the last general election and, under cover of every major Bill, they have been making practically the same political speeches, the same kind of criticism against the Government. I would not mind if that criticism were published in this country, because the people would then know that most of it is unfounded. What I regret is that [1440] Irishmen, especially men who had responsibility in the past, men who sat on those front Benches, fired into them by the votes of a free people, think so little of the country that they make these unfounded allegations which are read by people outside the country, people who cannot know the conditions prevailing in the country. It is a disgraceful thing that speeches such as have been delivered by Deputy Fitzgerald this evening should be made. They will be read by political leaders in England and they may be taken—I hope they will not, because they are not correct—as an indication of the conditions in this State.

Whatever differences we may have, we should be proud of the fact that during the last two and a half years no serious crime, such as would warrant the execution of a fellow-countryman, has been committed. There have been cases of ordinary crime such as would be committed no matter what Government was in office. The only conclusion one would come to after listening to Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy Fitzgerald is that order, from their point of view, will not be restored until we have a repetition of the executions that they carried out when they were in office, and with no effect. I hope they will desist from making these speeches.

Mr. Curran: Information on Richard Curran  Zoom on Richard Curran  It would be better if you desisted from making such a speech now.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Let them listen to the voice of the people as indicated in the election on a limited franchise last week. They will then realise there is no possible chance that they will come back to office in the near future and the best thing they can do is to support the Government in the endeavour to settle our internal and external troubles.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Ruttledge): Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I do not intend to detain the House very long. As Deputy Davin has said, we have had this thing ad nauseam within the last three or four months. Every opportunity that arose it would [1441] seem to indicate that the only thing the Opposition is capable of discussing at present is this framed-up charge about the way law and order are being carried on. They do not seem to have any regard for anything else. Deputy Mulcahy at the very outset gave the House the impression that he had a long list of examples in order to prove the manner in which law and order, as Deputy Fitzgerald described it, were being prostituted by this Government.

When we come down to hard facts, or what he alleges are facts, he is only able to put before the House, I think, three or four cases. The Mohill case has been dealt with already by the Attorney-General, but I might add a word or two in reply to Deputy Desmond Fitzgerald as to why a particular individual there was not brought before the Military Tribunal. He was not brought before the Military Tribunal because the particular offence with which he was charged was not an offence which was triable by or which comes within the jurisdiction of the Military Tribunal. That is one reason. They allege opposite that he was deliberately sent before a jury for the purpose of having him acquitted and that it was through fear. If there was anything in that suggestion I submit that it would rather be through affection than through fear. He suggests that it is fear and goes back to some pamphlet or some statement by somebody in Dawson Street, which was a threat against jurors. I would point out that that man got a vote afterwards and that would seem to show that there was more of affection than fear.

Deputy Mulcahy referred to the Drogheda case. While it might be pointed out that there was only a limited number convicted, it might also be pointed out that if the Blueshirt organisation is, as we are led to believe, so very able and very well organised when it is a question of preserving peace and order, one would imagine that if any of them were from the town of Drogheda—although I suppose not, and that they were the usual importations—but there might have been a few locals there, and one surely might expect them to be able to identify some [1442] of the people who attacked them. Instead of that, when the Guards are occupied with a baton charge and are trying to clear away two opposing mobs, one attacking the other, they are expected to be able to identify every individual that is mixed up in those brawls, or to be able to identify them afterwards.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  There was no such thing as two mobs, one attacking the other. I was there—a witness of it.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  The court did not think that, because one of your own people was convicted.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Who knocked out Sergeant McGuinness? Who hit him with a bottle?

(Interruptions.)

Evidently, the blackguardism outside is being brought into this House.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  The Deputy will get plenty of time to make his speech.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I will, and I will make it. The Minister should stick to the truth.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I am sticking to the truth. I say that if a member of that organisation was convicted of having conducted himself in a way he should not and of having assaulted one of the opposing people—if that is not a clash between two opposing sides, I do not know what it is. I say again that it is not fair, nor proper nor just, to blame the Guards, the majority of whom, have to be brought in from the Depôt and outside districts to try to protect those people and that they should not be expected to be in a position of having to identify the people involved. If we have such a regard, or pretend to have such a regard—I am talking now from the Opposition standpoint—for peace and order, is it not reasonable to expect that the people composing that Opposition over there and their followers would try to assist the police in giving the names and identifying the persons concerned in those rows and assaults?

[1443]Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Is that an invitation?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  It is an invitation.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Then you want our assistance?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  If you complain that people have been assaulted and that you know the attackers, it is your duty to go to the Guards and give that information and have those people charged.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Justification for the Blueshirts!

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  It is the duty of any citizen to give any assistance he can in preserving peace and order. One would expect it more particularly if one took them seriously over there, but no one who knows them would expect it from that side of the House, where they are continually prating about law and order when we know perfectly well what little respect they have for law and order and when we know that one of the hopes that they have is to try to create as much turmoil in this country as they possibly can in order to bring about such disordered conditions in the country as they think may suit them and give them an opportunity of coming back into office. Another place that Deputy Mulcahy referred to was in County Laoighise and Deputy Davin also referred to a case. I do not know anything about them. I certainly got no complaint from Deputy Dr. O'Higgins or anybody else about the Ballyroan affair.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Did the Minister get any complaint from Deputy Mulcahy about Ballacolla?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I got no information with regard to those particular matters. I have taken steps since the statement was made to ascertain if such a statement was made elsewhere. I am not aware of it, at any rate. The next complaint that Deputy Mulcahy made was with regard to a certain Guard who was stationed in Clonmel when a sale was being carried out and it is suggested that a Guard who was [1444] from an adjoining county and had not been very long in the force should not be doing duty at a sale in the town of Clonmel. It was suggested that it was improper. If we go back to the time when the Guards were first recruited we would find the same thing obtaining all over the country. I was asked, in a supplementary question, by Deputy Cosgrave, if it was not against the practice that a Guard should be in his own county. It is not against the practice, but since we came into office we are trying to remedy that situation. I have tried to remedy it, and I think it is in the interests of the force and of the Guards themselves that they should not be stationed in places where their own people are or in their own counties. There was a good deal of that to be done after the last Administration and we are trying to do it as fast as we can and with as little hardship as possible to the Guards concerned. Here, however, was a Guard on duty during that time in Clonmel who was asked to carry out that particular duty on that particular date. It had no particular significance, but when he joins the Gárda he has to carry out the duties assigned to him and all the Guards there had to carry out their duties in regard to that sale.

Mention has been made that we are carrying out the British policy of stirring up turmoil. Deputy Mulcahy says that this generation may have to pay dearly for it. I do not know the meaning of that.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  They are paying already.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I do not know whether the Deputy means it as a threat or not.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Certainly not.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  The reason I say that is because it has been followed up by Deputy Desmond Fitzgerald making the statement that in conditions such as this where law, according to him, is not being properly administered, that is going to lead to revolution. However, I accept the Deputy's statement that that is not intended. But the British policy of stiring up turmoil [1445] cannot be assigned to this side of the House, at any rate. We have done our utmost to try to preserve peace in the country as far as we can. When, some time ago, we brought into this House a Bill to prevent the wearing of uniforms, we were told that if the uniforms of the Blueshirts were allowed to be used we would have peace in the country—peace and order and all the rest of it.

You wanted no protection, you wanted nothing then. To-day I am attacked in this House because I am not giving adequate protection! Do you want it both ways? “Thanks to the Seanad,” you say, “we have our blue shirts still.” You have your blue shirts still and yet every other day you are raising questions here that we are not giving you proper and sufficient protection although you told us that if you got those blue shirts and were allowed to retain your blue blouses you would have peace and order in the country. Every day you are raising the question that you are not getting protection. But this thing is symptomatic in every country where this thing of a uniformed body has come up. You have it in England; you have it in Belgium and in every country where people try to regiment politics—where people wear uniforms and copy Continental methods. It is the same thing here. It is one of the causes of our greatest difficulty in maintaining peace and order in the country. Before you had it there was very little difficulty in protecting meetings. There was very little difficulty in protecting Cumann na nGaedheal meetings held in any part of the country. I think anyone who is honest about the matter will have to admit that.

I am prepared to admit that there was disorder at meetings of the Opposition and we on this side of the House had it at our meetings as well as you had it. But since you started this new movement it is putting a strain on the police force which is becoming too heavy for them to bear. When the police try to baton people the matter is raised in the House here. Every move the police make is being questioned here in the House. After all, if we accept General O'Duffy's [1446] statements, it should not have been raised at all, because, according to General O'Duffy the other day, we were only batoning our own people because he says the ranchers in Kildare fought for Fianna Fáil. The idea which Deputy Minch had in raising this question about the ranchers is peculiar when General O'Duffy says they are not supporters of his. I cannot understand why Deputy Minch raised it.

Mr. Minch: Information on Capt. Sydney B. Minch  Zoom on Capt. Sydney B. Minch  In the interests of fair-play.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Oh, “fair-play!!” This is the first time that I have seen, so far as this House is concerned, a very clear-cut and definite attempt made to attack the Gárdaí. Deputy Davin seemed to regard this as, what he was inclined to excuse, a foolish attempt by Deputy Dr. O'Higgins followed by a rather foolish statement by General O'Duffy when he attacked the chief superintendent down the country. It is nothing of the kind. It is not a new thing. It is a well-thoughtout concerted plan of the people talking about law and order who are looking for a method of creating turmoil and undermining the forces of this State. It is not to-day nor yesterday it started. If you go back a short while you will see the truth of this. The Party opposite in their weekly paper, United Ireland of the 12th May, 1934, issued instructions that Blueshirt officers should

“note down the name, for example, of school teachers, who have inculcated or attempted to inculcate I.R.A. or Communistic doctrines to the children under their charge and that they should note down the names of Gárdaí and other public officers who have shown themselves insolently and grossly partisan.”

Anybody would be insolently and grossly partisan if he did not agree wholeheartedly with the Blueshirts and the people on the other side.

We come on, however, to find that some slight suggestions followed shortly after that statement was published. [1447] We find statements being made, very tepid at first, suggestions that the Gárda in certain places are not doing their duty properly—and to-day we have had, fully flaunted here, definite charges and definite attacks against the Gárdaí over a period. These charges were brought by Deputy Dr. O'Higgins. These were charges which he was very careful never before to refer to, though he had an opportunity of intervening in the course of two debates between the time when these alleged incidents took place and to-day's debate. He never referred to them.

Then there was a case in Tipperary where General O'Duffy attacked the chief superintendent. You have General O'Duffy in Ballina attacking the chief superintendent there. The excuse for these attacks was first made in this way:—Suspicions were set afloat that this Department or some unnamed individual or Department was responsible for sending out some secret instructions to prevent the Gárdaí from doing their duty. I can tell the House that no instructions, either secret or open, have been sent out to the Gárdaí by this Department or any other Department having contact with them, except instructions to do their duty fearlessly and fairly. There has been no attempt in any way to try and interfere with the Gárdaí in the prosecution of their duty through the country. There have been no instructions to them, except to do their duty fairly. There have been no instructions as to the use of batons other than those they got long before we got into office. No instructions have been sent changing or cancelling the instructions already sent.

There is a deliberate attempt in this House to-day to try to undermine the morale of the Gárdaí in the country and in that way to weaken them in the carrying out of their duties. You have had this threat about everyone of them being noted down and blacklisted. You left that for a little time to see how it would work. You are not satisfied with the way it is working. Now you come out and attack the higher officials. You will not [1448] report that to the chief superintendent or to the officer over them. It is easy for anybody to get up in a public platform and blackguard a man who is not in a position to defend himself publicly, and so these attacks are made. It is easy to do that. You know the effect that would have upon the discipline of an organised force. I believe that the attempts made by you will fail utterly. You will fail utterly in your attempt to break the morale of the Gárdaí force in this country. Since I came into contact with them the Gárdaí have been doing their duty faithfully and well. They have tried to interpret the instructions issued to them by the Commissioner. They have tried to interpret these instructions honestly. When in a certain situation they were compelled to resort to baton charges they have done it in the interests of peace and with the idea of preserving order. It is only in the last resort and in a desperate situation that that arose. The Gárdaí can realise that in the carrying out of their duty and in preserving order in this country they will have this Government wholeheartedly behind them, and any attempts made by the Opposition to undermine the force will have no effect.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  It is certainly a transformation to hear the Minister for Justice getting up here to defend the Gárda. It would have come much better from the Minister if he played more the part of the statesman and less the part of the politician. He tries to fight the battle of the Gárda by innuendo and insinuation. He accuses us of wanting to undermine the Gárda. Has a public man any right or duty to perform when he sees before his eyes the law not administered and no protection for the rights of the people? The Minister for Justice talked about two mobs coming into collision in Drogheda at a meeting held recently there. I was there; the Minister for Justice was not. The Minister for Justice smiles. That is the smile which was smiled in 1922 and which precipitated the Civil War.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Oh, no.

[1449]Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Let us be careful where we are drifting now.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Smiles did not precipitate the Civil War.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Cynicism did, and contemptuous smiles like what we see on the Front Bench of the Government precipitated it. It was matters which were not tightened up in time that precipitated it, and well the Minister knows that. If the Minister looks back on those years he finds himself in a queer position to-day, defending a force which he and his followers tried to assassinate. As regards that meeting in Drogheda, I am not going to blame the Guards for what happened there, but I blame the Ministry and the Government. A case was put up here that when our meeting was advertised for Drogheda a counter meeting was advertised in opposition, and what did the Government do? The Minister actually said here in his few remarks a moment ago that this mob in Drogheda, the opposition mob, were the usual mob that is imported. The Minister for Justice knows that it is usual to import a mob to break up a meeting, and he is doing nothing about it. Is that not a terrible admission for a Minister for Justice to make? Sergeant McGuinness was sent down from Coolock, and he was knocked unconscious with a blow of a bottle. I was standing beside a young fellow; I was on the footpath and he was on the street. He was holding a banner. A cowardly blackguard ducked out of the crowd, hit this fellow and tried to seize the flagstaff from him. It broke in their hands, and the blackguard ran away. What did the Guard do? He caught hold of the man who stood up to defend himself from the attack of the blackguard. If the Minister has any doubt about that I am prepared to swear an affidavit on it. He talks about two mobs. Deputy Corry smiles. Will this House not realise the condition that we are in to-day?

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  They know it well.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  They will know it better before you are finished with it.

[1450]Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I come to another meeting held in Balbriggan a few months ago. There was a lorry which brought Blueshirts there. I know a Peace Commissioner in the Fianna Fáil Cumann in Balbriggan who went around and took the name of the owner of that lorry and said he would have that man prosecuted. That man was prosecuted. On the 22nd of this month into a little peaceful part of County Dublin——

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Was he not committing an offence?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Very well; he was. The Minister will regret in a minute that he made that remark. The Minister's legal advisers, as usual, had the hare in the net, but the hare escaped through the inefficiency and incompetence of the legal advisers of the Minister. He got out on a technicality.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  That is not my Department at all.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  On the 22nd of this month there was an imported meeting brought in lorries into the quiet little village of The Naul. That meeting was organised by a Fianna Fáil candidate for the county council elections. Not by any human methods that Fianna Fáil could adopt would they get ten votes in that peaceful village, but they brought 200 or 300 of an imported meeting in there. I want to give this to the Minister before he goes; they were brought in in lorries, and I should like to know if there is any prosecution pending for the owners of those lorries which brought in those people to The Naul.

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  There are Peace Commissioners there——

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  We are not spies or felon-setters like that bench or that. Deputy Davin suggested that note-takers, as in the days of Buckshot Forster, should go to our meetings and take a note of what the speakers said.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  But not to those of the Minister for Finance.

[1451]Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  The Minister for Finance boasted here, while the local elections were pending, that if I went to such a place I would get what I got in Finglas. I am proud of what I got in Finglas. I topped the poll in Finglas.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Not at all. The Deputy was not at the top of the poll. He was beaten in his own chosen constituency.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  It is not my constituency.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It is not. They put you out of it.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  But I was not beaten in the county.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  There is not a word about it here, anyway.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  And the Chair of the county will not hoist the Fianna Fáil colours.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy can discuss that somewhere else.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Let the Minister consider the impartiality of that justice. It would be much better in a debate of this kind if the flames of hatred were not fanned further, and if some gesture of co-operation were made from all sides of this House, or at least that we should agree to differ, and agree to differ in peace. The outstanding fact shown at every meeting that has taken place is that all the interruptions are coming from the Government side, and from supporters of the Government side. The Minister for Finance on last Sunday fortnight spoke at a meeting in Balbriggan, which was advertised. He followed it up and spoke about three o'clock in the afternoon at a meeting in Skerries, which was also advertised. Our Party had a meeting advertised for an hour later. When we got there our time overlapped with theirs, and we waited for an hour and a half to let his Party finish.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  What happened?

[1452]Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  You can speak if you like. I will leave it to the Minister to contradict this. We allowed that meeting to finish. We went on to Balbriggan and held our meeting as advertised. What happened? His supporters from Skerries came and organised a mob in Balbriggan to try and break up our meeting. It would bring shame to the face of every Irishman to hear the language used by his principal candidates in the election against decent Irish womanhood in Balbriggan. We have nothing but laughter. Will Deputy Smith deny that he was laughing at that, as it was denied here when a murder was laughed at?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That statement is not true, and I think the Deputy should withdraw it.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  What statement is not true?

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  I do not know what you are talking about, and I do not care. Nobody in this House, takes you seriously.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy Smith will have to keep quiet. The conduct in Skerries does not come within the scope of this Bill. The conduct of the Minister for Justice in the maintenance of order certainly does.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  May I call your attention to the fact that the Deputy has stated that members of this side of the House laughed at a murder?

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  Surely I am not expected to know the kind of language used by local candidates at the County Dublin election? Surely Deputy Belton is not entitled to accuse me of smiling at language which he said was used by certain candidates? I have no knowledge at all of the County Dublin elections, or of the candidates who contested those elections. As a matter of fact, what I have said is quite right. Nobody takes the Deputy seriously in this House; we have to laugh at him.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I do not know what point the Minister is making with reference to Deputy Belton's remark about murder.

[1453]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  He said that Deputies on this side of the House laughed at murder. I say that statement is not true.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I think that finishes the matter. I cannot take any action.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I shall never go for a character to Deputy Smith.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  You had better not.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Or any man who has had any association with you.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  The only connection these matters have with the Bill before the House is that it is the Government Party which organises the disturbance.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Minister or the Executive Council— that is what we are discussing.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  And they do not take the proper steps to preserve law and order. The Minister for Justice said that when the Uniforms Bill was before the House, the plea put up by the Opposition was that if we were allowed to wear these alleged uniforms and to develop the Blueshirt movement, we would have full protection but now, he said, thanks to the Seanad, we were allowed to develop the Blueshirt movement and we were still crying to him for protection. It is his job to afford protection. That is what the Minister for Justice is there for. That is what we are paying the Civic Guards for; that is what we are paying the Defence Forces for; that is what we are paying the courts for; and it is no thanks to the Minister or the Government to afford protection. If protection had been afforded at public meetings, there would never have been the need for the Blueshirt movement in this country. It would never be there. We all know that it was a great boast that people could not go into certain areas and hold public meetings. Deputy Davin, who is not here now, knows that it was boasted in the local press in his constituency that our Party could not go into the town of Mountrath to hold a public meeting. Why is not action taken against newspapers or individuals who say that a [1454] political Party, which has at least 50 per cent. of the country, cannot go into a centre and hold a public meeting? That is where the Government fail in their duty. No action was taken against prominent members of the organisation of the Minister for Finance in County Dublin, who went out, during the local elections, with iron bars and attacked people on the roads —and no action will be taken. Has it not come to the knowledge of the Government that in the village of Dundrum, outside the door of a man who has given long and good service in local administration in County Dublin, was painted a coffin and a skull and crossbones? Deputy Corry laughs at that. Is that a laughing matter in a civilised country?

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  What about all the skulls that were found in County Dublin? I saw the Irish Press full of them to-day.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  That is a joke to Government supporters.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  It is you are the joke, Paddy.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  And then we are told in a condescending manner by the President that the Opposition should be allowed to hold meetings. If all people and all Parties in this country are not prepared to preserve freedom and to give the same measure of freedom to others as they want themselves, those people and those Parties and this country are not fit for freedom. We hear a lot from time to time about the necessity for cautious speaking in order to protect and preserve the credit of the country. There has been no credit in any country in which law and order are not impartially administered, in which freedom of speech is not preserved and in which the ordinary law is not capable of dealing with crime in that country. Talk of preserving the credit of this country by a Government that rules only by a Military Tribunal is farcical. If we have not got law and order, we cannot have national credit, and if we have not got national credit, we cannot have economic progress. [1455] The keystone of the whole national structure is freedom of speech and protection of the lives and property of the citizens. Are we getting those? Have we freedom of speech, when at every meeting the Opposition holds in any part of the country, the same systematic interruptions are carried out?

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  That is not true.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I have been all over the country and there is not a particle of difference between the method of interrupting meeting, and, scarcely, in the appearance of the fanatics and rowdies who interrupt our meetings, in County Dublin and in County Limerick, and I have seen the mobs in both places.

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  I would refer the Deputy to Deputy Broderick of Galway. Let them ask him if that is the case. That is why I say it is not true.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I am referring to incidents I saw with my own eyes.

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  You did not go west enough; if you did you would see a little more—although a lot of you went west in the elections.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  He was not in Ballina last Sunday.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Wait and see. We had the instance of Ballina, the constituency, the home and the birthplace of the Minister for Justice. Does he deny that stones were thrown across the house? We have Deputy Davin saying that we should not say these things here. Statements of Deputy Mulcahy which he twisted, would, he said, be printed outside this country, they would be printed in the foreign Press and they would do serious damage to the credit of this country. Unfortunately, they are true and whose fault is it? Whose responsibility is it to clear them up and to eradicate them? It is the Government's and when the Minister for Justice gets up here he plays the part of the little politician instead of [1456] playing the part of a statesman and recognising what everybody knows exists in the country—concerted attempts to break up our meetings to-day. The same people, if they had us out of the way, would break up your meetings to-morrow. They claim a certain brand of freedom for themselves, but they are unworthy of freedom because they would not extend a fraction of the freedom they demand for themselves to their opponents. The surest test of a freedom-loving individual, party or nation, is when that individual, party or nation is prepared to extend to others the same measure and standard of freedom they want for themselves. These Party fanatics do not want freedom for anybody but themselves. They do not come to meetings to ask questions. They come to start a racket, and to deny the right of free speech. Well, Ministers know that. What are they doing about it? We are asked why we did not identify the people in Drogheda. We are not Civic Guards. The Guards are there for that duty. When they see people coming along the streets with stones and bottles, what are they doing that for? What are they shouting and yelling for? Why do the Civic Guards not search and arrest such people? It is not a question of identification; it is a question of catching blackguards red-handed in such acts. If a dozen or two of these people were arrested and got what they deserved in the way of imprisonment for a year or two, for trying to deprive people of freedom of speech, they would stop. The Minister for Justice acknowledges that these things are done by the usual mob which is imported to deny the right of freedom of speech. There were from 15 to 20 thousand people at the meeting held in the Mall at Drogheda. It does not matter if there were only a dozen people present. As citizens why should they not have the right to hold meetings? It is acknowledged that the mob was imported. Why should that mob be allowed to deny to the people of Drogheda the right to freedom of speech? Deputy Davin said that General O'Duffy had condemned the action of a Superintendent [1457] of the Guards, and suggested that that should have been done in another way. Deputy O'Duffy——

A Deputy:  Never.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  It will not be long until he will be President.

A Deputy:  Says you! What a hope!

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  The ballot boxes have spoken.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  They have.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  We have twice the representation of Fianna Fáil. Plums of office and organised blackguardism got that Party 50 per cent. of its votes.

A Deputy:  Stranger things have happened.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Not many stranger things. It would come much better from the Minister for Justice if he acknowledged the situation that exists, that trouble takes place at every public meeting held by us. We do not interrupt our own meetings. The Minister for Finance held meetings all over County Dublin. I must say that in many instances he was provocative.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Were you there?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I heard it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Because I would not be in the same place with you after 1927.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I know you would not. I wish I had met the Minister until I put some statements down his neck.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Will the Deputy produce the pledge he signed?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  What pledge?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The one that got you into the Fianna Fáil Party?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I never signed a pledge I did not keep. I signed a pledge not to take any position involving an oath of allegiance to a foreign king. I never did so. The Minister signed a similar pledge believing that that pledge did not involve taking an oath of allegiance to a foreign king.

[1458]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  What about the Appropriation Bill?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  If the Minister thought of the Appropriation Bill instead of trying to get in a blow by a side-wind there would be nothing like this. The Minister swore he would jump into the Liffey before he would come in here. He did not jump into the Liffey, but he jumped in here, and he has no notion of jumping out. But we will jump him out yet. The Minister held meetings all over County Dublin and not once were they interrupted. He was peacefully received, even in Naul, where practically every other man wears a blue shirt and every woman a blue blouse. Not one of them appeared on the streets that night. Everyone of our meetings was interrupted. When the elections came on in County Dublin and when the ballot boxes were opened we had won. Not a single one of our opponent's meetings was interrupted, while every one of ours was interrupted. That is the answer of the ballot boxes.

We are in the majority in the county. We gave the right of free speech to all our opponents, but the minority party will not give the right of free speech to the majority party in the county. The Minister knows that what I am saying is true. I challenge him to give an instance where he was interrupted when speaking in the county, notwithstanding all the wild things he said. We will have another day for that. When he crossed the Tolka he found it is more difficult than the crossing of the Boyne. Before things go too far, is there any hope that the Government will take up this matter of interruptions at public meetings seriously? Young lives have frequently been lost. The only way to stop this drift into what might be called open conflict is by the use of the strong hand, by preserving freedom of speech for all Parties, and by carrying out the law impartially and firmly. The Government is responsible. They are masters of the situation. Are they going to instruct the Guards to arrest any persons who break the peace? If that was done, and if it was known that [1459] that would be the result, there would be no more interruption of public meetings by rowdies. Any man has a perfect right to go to a public meeting and to ask questions. I always welcome questions. But when a mob starts howling and boohing to prevent speakers being heard, it is a different matter. The mob goes there purely for blackguardism. The Government are aware that that happens. The Minister for Justice accepts it, that as a matter of course, the usual mob went to Drogheda to interrupt. I take it that the usual mob is also drafted into other places. What is the Minister doing about it? Has he given instructions to the Guards that the mob that prevents freedom of speech should be arrested? If he did I am quite sure that the usual mob would not turn up to interrupt meetings. The whole economic life and, perhaps, the destiny of this country depends upon the action taken to prevent such happenings.

All the money that is required by this Act cannot be got without borrowing. To borrow that money successfully, at a commercial rate of interest, there must be stabilised conditions in this country and the impartial administration of law and order goes to the root of stabilised conditions. Without law and order in this country you can have no stability; without stability you cannot borrow money; without borrowing money you cannot carry on the public services. If the Government turn the blind eye to the rowdyism that is going on, if they shelter it, well, then they will be responsible for instability in the country. That instability will be responsible for the impossibility of getting money to carry on the public services, the destruction of the economic life of the country, the want and the danger of famine that may arise from all these circumstances which find their root back in the maladministration of the law—the allowing of the blackguards to come in and interrupt public meetings, and to deny people freedom. The Government that tolerates that and allows it to go on, [1460] will be responsible for the whole calamity, apart from the danger of civil strife, to our economic life that will be inevitable out of that situation.

In conclusion, I should like to appeal to the Government to take a firm hand in this matter. Prominent clergymen are beginning to voice their opinions on the dangers that they see looming ahead throughout the country. It is time that responsible Ministers should take up this matter seriously. It is not a matter for levity in this House or outside it. Nobody can foretell what will happen if the law is not impartially, I might go further and say ruthlessly, administered in this country against every bunch of blackguards who try to deprive the people of the right of freedom of speech.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  There are two points which I should like to raise before the Minister replies. I have asked before whether any set of instructions has been given to the Guards in connection with the discharge of their duties arising out of the case that came quite recently before the courts, in which a police officer stated that he did not believe that he was entitled to observe a code of honour which was recognised by grocers. I have put that question before on one or two occasions and I received no answer to it. If that officer's view is correct, it would be a departure from what is the generally accepted opinion of how the Guards discharge their duty. The second matter which I wish to mention is that the Minister would be well advised to take the Dáil into his confidence in connection with these cases in which men are being discharged from the Army on the ground that their services are no longer required. If a charge were preferred against those men, one could quite understand that their services should no longer be retained but, from observation in this House, there is reason to believe that there is some reason for the discharge of these men other than that they are not giving satisfactory service. If the Minister is not in a position to answer my first question now, some opportunity to reply should be [1461] availed of before the Dáil adjourns. The Minister understands the case I have in mind, that in which Detective-Officer McNamara gave evidence before the Military Tribunal.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is sub judice.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  It is not sub judice. It is a question of a Guard's interpretation of his duty, whether he is to be straight with the members of the public. The public impression is that the Guards are straight, that every citizen can talk to them, that Guards are not employed to trap citizens. Whether the case is sub judice or not, that is a point upon which some Ministerial pronouncement should be made, as to whether the Ministry are standing over a Guard discharging his duty in that manner.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I am afraid that the point which Deputy Cosgrave has made will have to await a reply on another occasion. I intend to deal more specifically with the points raised by Deputy Belton and some other speakers in the course of the debate. Deputy Belton opened his speech by an appeal for co-operation, a request that we should agree to differ in peace. I wonder what sincerity there was behind Deputy Belton's appeal? Deputy Belton apparently enjoys the confidence of General O'Duffy. I doubt whether any former political associate of Deputy Belton would believe that the Deputy will continue to enjoy that confidence for long; but at any rate, such is the position at the present moment, that I understand General O'Duffy was personally responsible for Deputy Belton's promotion to the front bench. Deputy Belton is also a member of the Executive Council, I think they call it, of the Fine Gael Party and is, therefore, responsible for publications in the official organ of that Party and for its editorial policy, particularly its editorial policy as expressed, I take it, in the notes relating to the League of Youth section of the organisation which appear in the current issue of United Ireland.“Discrimination Needed” is the title of the paragraph and the contents are as follows:—

[1462]“Every Blueshirt who is an employer, or the son or daughter of an employer, or who is in a position to exercise any influence on an employer, ought to see that every vacancy which arises is, as far as possible, given to a Blueshirt or to a staunch or well-known supporter of the Blueshirts. Members of Fine Gael in making purchases ought to give preference to shops owned by those who are politically friendly and who give employment to Blueshirts. There is no use, of course, in going out of one's way to patronise a so-called Fine Gael shopkeeper whose assistants are I.R.A. men or Communists. I should not be inclined to recommend discrimination of this sort on our side were it not that the Government is doing everything it can to make it difficult or impossible for Blueshirt workers to earn a living.”

I say that Deputy Belton who pleads in this House for co-operation, for friendly agreement to differ, is responsible for the policy expressed in that paragraph, the official policy of Fine Gael. It is not a new policy. It is a policy which, as Cumann na nGaedheal, they pursued when they were in office in this country, when, of set purpose, they drove out of the public service every man and woman who would not subscribe to the principles of their organisation. They compelled the Civil Service journal to publish advertisements calling for funds for their organisation. They utilised the members of the police force to raid business premises and to harry supporters of our Party and members of other organisations that were antagonistic to them, in order that they might drive them out of the country. That policy of economic victimisation has been associated with the Party opposite since they first got power in this country. It is their policy to-day. In face of incitements of the sort that I have put before the House, Deputy Belton has the hypocrisy, because it is nothing else but hypocrisy, to get up and declare that he is striving to heal the wounds of our harassed people and to bring them together. How can there, possibly, be any [1463] common agreement, or any friendly relationship between political Parties in this country so long as victimisation stands as the avowed policy of the Fine Gael Party?

The Minister for Justice stated that, in his opinion, it was the carefully considered design of those in opposition to the present Government, to create conditions of disorder in this country. I am convinced that that statement is true. Deputy Belton referred to meetings in Balbriggan and Drogheda. The fact is that at a meeting held in Balbriggan, some months ago, a party of over 400 people were imported into that town where there is a majority, and a very considerable majority, of supporters of the Government. Four hundred people were brought down to Balbriggan, by rail, and those people conducted themselves in such a way as to outrage the sensibilities of every decent citizen in the town. The same thing happened to Drogheda.

In Mullingar, a fortnight before the recent elections, General O'Duffy held a meeting, which was largely imported. Many contingents attended from Clonmel, Cavan, Longford, Athlone and Dublin. They could not get a band in the whole of Westmeath to attend their procession, so they had to bring one from Cavan. These gentlemen when they got into the town of Mullingar conducted themselves as if they were an army of occupation. Every man who seemed to differ from them was set upon and assaulted. Men riding bicycles through the streets who did not return the Blueshirt salute—Hitler fashion, arm extended—was knocked off his bicycle and then compelled to do so and if he resisted was brutally beaten. The same happened in Newcastle West where exactly the same sort of conduct was repeated. Gangs of armed ruffians were imported into the town with the idea of terrorising the people and inducing them to believe that if their district was not in favour of Fascism at least every district in the Twenty-Six Counties was in favour of it. Most of these imported gangs came into these towns armed. What sort of weapons did they carry? I shall now quote [1464] from the “Blue Flag Notes” of the current issue of the United Ireland. These notes are headed: “Blueshirts' Right to Batons,” and in one paragraph appear these two sentences:—

“Of choice, only suitable weapons should be carried. Nobody will suggest that a Blueshirt ought of choice to carry a metal weapon or even a stick so heavy that it might endanger life.”

“Of choice, only suitable weapons should be carried.” If a man happens to find one of the other type lying about which is handy and convenient and easily disposed of; or if it be put into his hands by one of the unit commanders, he may take it— though not of course “of choice.” It might, indeed, be a rubber truncheon with a loaded stock or an iron bar, or any other of the mediæval weapons that characterise this reversion to conditions of savagery in this country. If any of these weapons were given to him by his unit commander, of course, the Blueshirt has no choice to take it or not, but has to take it as a matter of military discipline. It will then be his duty to knock off his bicycle anyone who does not extend his hand in the new salute that comes from Italy. He does not get these weapons of his own free choice, but if he happens to be on the spot he can carry with him a stick so heavy as to endanger life, or he may carry a Colt revolver, and use it, in such circumstances that he may be afterwards sent to prison for doing so. Who are these men who go to the four corners of the Twenty-Six Counties where General O'Duffy chooses to hold his meetings in order to terrorise people? I note from the United Ireland of Saturday, May 26th, under the heading “Behaviour at Meetings.” In the course of the article they state:—

“...Some members although pleading poverty through unemployment are at times seen to spend money lavishly and unwisely. Public meetings should under no circumstances be an excuse for becoming intoxicated...”

And further on, in the course of the article it says:

[1465]“...Some men make a habit of getting lost; all efforts on the part of the more conscientious comrades to find them prove fruitless. Eventually the delinquents arrive in a mood which is such as to prevent for the moment any reprimand by an officer.”

This is certainly a nice euphemism. They arrive in a mood which is such as to prevent, for the moment, any reprimand by an officer.

“In some cases such conduct by a few is the cause of trouble with political opponents”

These are the people who ask us to protect their meetings and preserve law and order.

“and is always a source of great delay to young men who are in a hurry home.”

Here is an organisation which incites its members to arm themselves. The conduct of some of its members is apparently so reprehensible that its own organ cannot be too nice in referring to it as I have shown by the quotations I have given. This same organ which refers to this Government as a gangster Government is compelled to come out and reprove the members of its own organisation because they cannot keep sober at meetings. There would be no disturbance at meetings if members of the Opposition Party dropped this military organisation. We are asked to protect an organisation the personnel, character and equipment of which are as set out and fully described in its own official organ. It is an association which the majority of the members of this House has decided should be suppressed in the public interest. We are asked to protect this organisation when the members go out on a deliberately provocative policy to create disorder and incite, in some cases, to bloodshed, because some of the articles which have appeared in the United Ireland are nothing short of incitement to murderous acts, if not to actual murder. Deputy Belton said there should be freedom of speech for the citizens. There ought to be freedom of speech but there ought to be [1466] some restriction on licence. What right has any man who gets up and refers to the President of this State as “Public Enemy No. 1” to be heard in silence except the right which the personal character of that individual earns for him of having the contempt of our silence? We can have freedom of speech in this country but when Deputy Belton speaks of the reception he received in the County Dublin, he is the man who ought to muzzle his tongue. We have heard the President of this State referred to as a Spaniard. Go through the County Dublin and see the inscriptions written up during the last election—inscriptions more scurrilous and more reprehensible than ever disgraced the dead walls or the roads of this country before. The same is true of other places. Passing over the bridge at Naas the other day, I saw the inscription “Vote for O'Duffy and put out the Spaniard.” The Spaniard, as he is referred to, is the chosen leader of the people and if the people in charge of the organisation responsible for these inscriptions want to secure a fair hearing, they have got to mend their ways.

Question put and agreed to.


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