Thursday, 18 February 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
An Ceann Comhairle: Two reasoned amendments have been submitted to this Bill, one in the name of Deputy J.M. O'Sullivan and one in the name of Deputy Belton, which I have accepted in the circumstances. The motion, of course, is that the Bill be now read a Second Time. To that there are, as I have said, two reasoned amendments. The motion and both amendments will be discussed together and the question to be put will be
An Ceann Comhairle: As soon as the President, who I presume is taking this measure, has moved that the Bill be now read a Second Time and has made any statement that he desires to make in so moving, I shall call on Deputy O'Sullivan to move the amendment in his name and then on Deputy Belton to move the amendment  tabled by him. All three will be discussed together.
The President: The object of this Bill is to give effect to the agreement reached at the International Non-Intervention Committee on the 17th of this month, namely, that the Governments who are parties to the non-intervention policy should, as from midnight on February 20th-21st—that is Saturday—
“extend the non-intervention agreement to cover the recruitment in, the transit through or departure from, their respective countries of persons of non-Spanish nationality proposing to proceed to Spain or the Spanish dependencies for the purpose of taking service in the present civil war.”
It will be remembered that in August of last year, on the initiative of the French Government, the International Non-Intervention Committee was established. The Government of Saorstát Eireann became a member of that Committee in the belief that the policy of the Non-Intervention Committee was best in the interests of Spain itself as well as in the interests of European peace. The Governments represented on the Non-Intervention Committee decided, towards the end of September, to prohibit exports of arms and ammunition to Spain from their respective countries. It is common knowledge that the prohibition of the export has not been strictly adhered to. It is also well known that during the last three or four months, considerable numbers of volunteers from various countries have joined the armies of the two parties in Spain. No matter what side in the present conflict one's sympathies may lie—and there can be no doubt on which side is the sympathy of the vast majority of the people of this country—there must be a general desire to see the present conflict in Spain brought to a speedy conclusion. The Governments represented on the Non-Intervention Committee realised that so long as arms and ammunition  were imported into Spain and that Volunteers from various countries could join the ranks of either party, the present war in Spain was likely to continue almost indefinitely. Apart from the fact that the continuance of the war would entail increasing loss of life and property, the presence of foreign volunteers in Spain greatly increases the danger of an international incident which might seriously affect the peace of Europe.
The Governments represented on the Non-Intervention Committee accordingly agreed that they would prohibit their nationals from taking part in the civil war on either side. They also agreed to a system of supervision of the land and sea frontiers of Spain in order to prevent the exportation of arms and ammunition to that country. The Government of Saorstát Eireann have agreed to the proposals of the Non-Intervention Committee because they believe it is the only contribution the Saorstát can make towards bringing the present conflict in Spain to an end and preventing that conflict from spreading beyond Spain, thus endangering the peace of Europe. The Government of Saorstát Eireann also believe that it is better that the Spanish people should settle their differences free from outside interference and work out for themselves the form of Government most suited to their own ideals and needs. Clearly, it is only such a Government that can last there. It is for these reasons that the Dáil is being asked to pass the present Bill.
It is quite clear from the text of the Bill itself what steps it is proposed to take and I do not feel that any explanation of the various sections is called for. There is one section, however, to which I should like to draw particular attention. I refer to Section 10 which gives power to the Executive Council to prevent the export from Saorstát Eireann of articles which, in its opinion, are implements of war or war material. Deputies may be aware that by Section 16 of the Firearms Act, 1925, the export of arms and munitions from Saorstát Eireann is prohibited unless licensed by the Minister for  Justice. The Firearms Act, however, does not cover all implements and material of war. The International Non-Intervention Committee are anxious that the prohibition regarding the export of arms and war material should cover all classes of arms and war material They have, accordingly, requested all Governments represented on the Committee to take steps to prohibit the export of all types of war material. As Saorstát Eireann does not manufacture arms or war material, it is unlikely that this section will have to be used but the power to prohibit the export of such material is taken in order to carry out the request of the Non-Intervention Committee for uniformity regarding the classes of material the export of which is prohibited in the various countries.
For the reasons I have indicated, I propose the Second Reading of this Bill. Before I sit down I should like to ask the House to enable us to meet the wishes, so far as it is possible, of the Non-Intervention Committee, to make this Bill effective and to give us the necessary powers to prevent the enlistment of volunteers and the export of war material, as from Saturday. From the manner in which I was met last night I had reason to hope that I would be facilitated in this matter. I would like to know as soon as possible from the Opposition whether they can give us this Bill to-morrow. I do not like to ask the House to come back on Saturday. I know that a large number of Deputies have arrangements of various kinds made, but we would like to fulfil our obligations and do our part in making the Bill effective as from midnight on Saturday.
General Mulcahy: I would like to ask the President a question. We have come back after the Christmas recess. The Spanish war has been on for a long time. The President, no doubt, has been in touch with the situation through channels from which he may have got information, but he has not communicated any information to this House or to the country. We have done very little Government business and now we are asked to sit late,  longer than the ordinary parliamentary week, for the purpose of bringing about a certain state of affairs on Saturday that does not appear to matter twopence as far as the position in Europe or in this country is concerned, and that could quite as satisfactorily be done next week in the ordinary parliamentary time. What business is going to be done during the ordinary parliamentary time next week that would prevent this matter being finally concluded after we have had more time to consider it than the President now suggests? I would like to ask him what is going to be the effect on the situation in this country and its relation to Spain, or what is going to be the effect on the position in Europe of our not passing this Bill until, say, Wednesday or Thursday next?
The President: I thought I made it clear that our only desire to get this Bill through by Saturday is to fall in with the agreement that was reached at the Non-Intervention Committee. It may not matter a great deal here, but it may matter a good deal to Spain and other countries in Europe that all the Governments concerned should uniformly have come to an arrangement by which recruitment and the export of war material to Spain could be prevented. I do not want at all to rush the House. If the Opposition are opposed to my doing it now, we can, of course, deal with this on Wednesday, but I think it is my duty, anyhow, as Minister for External Affairs, to ask the House and urge upon Deputies that we should co-operate with other nations in getting this thing made effective at the time agreed upon. If the Opposition are not prepared for that course, I will simply have to give way.
General Mulcahy: We are asked to sit specially in this country to bring ourselves into direct line with a group of statesmen in Europe who, from our point of view, have been botching the situation in Europe and who have been playing for their own ends in different ways. The President may have information that would take that impression from our minds. The President  is being asked, in amendments put down here, to meet the wishes of the House and the wishes of the country in certain ways. If the President meets the House in the way in which the reasoned amendments are asking him, then it might be quite easy to wind up the discussion of this matter quickly. Even if the attitude of the President is that he is not prepared to meet the Opposition in the reasoned amendments put down, I think he will admit that, in justice to the House and the country, we ought to have the period between now and Wednesday to think further over the matter and that nothing is going to happen in Spain by reason of the fact that we take three or four more days to do a bit of work that is rushed before us in such a way that it was not even on the Order Paper yesterday, all in order to be in line with a group of people who do not seem to be doing their own business very well or very speedily.
Mr. MacDermot: Is the President aware of the statement made to-day in the public press—I do not know with what foundation—that a German ship is expected off our coast within the next couple of days to collect a new contingent of Irish volunteers for Spain?
Mr. Belton: Deputy MacDermot was out of this country during the era of felon-setting and he should not start it now on his return. I wish to support the plea made by General Mulcahy that there is no need to rush this Bill. The President is asking us to forego what we were taught at school, that is, to defend our religion with our lives if it were threatened. He wants to drag the State in, in connection with our freedom of action, where we are prepared to defend with our lives the Faith—Christianity and the Catholic religion—and it is to defend that that 2,000 Irishmen are to-night in the trenches before Madrid.
Mr. Belton: That is all, and the President nor no representative of this country has any seat on this committee, and yet he wants us to rush this measure because we have been ordered or he has been ordered, and presumably has given a promise. He wants us to rush this now. We can take our time at this, even with the danger of volunteers going to Spain, as indicated by Deputy MacDermot. Good luck to them, and I hope they get there. We can do this next week instead of sitting late to-morrow or sitting on Saturday, and nothing terrible will happen. I hope the President does not fear the wrath that is rising in the country against this Bill and against his attitude in quietly supporting the Red Government in Spain.
Professor O'Sullivan: I suggest that we can hardly take the President's request seriously. The Government responsible for the business of this House, with the whole day before them to-day, put down this Bill so that it was reached at 8.30. It is impossible to believe that there is either a proper conduct of business or any serious intention behind the President when he puts a request like this before the  Opposition, except it be the one desire that the Bill shall not be fully considered by the House or the country. There was, I suggest to the President, ample opportunity to-day for this Bill to be taken, but it was not taken. Other Bills, the urgency of which I cannot see, were taken to-day. In these circumstances, I am sure the President will see the unreasonable attitude he is adopting—if it is possible for the President at all to see the unreasonable attitude he does adopt.
The President: I have no doubt that if I had brought this Bill on as the first business this afternoon, it would have been objected to by the Deputy on the ground that he had not had time to prepare his speech or properly to consider the Bill.
The President: It was quite obvious that we should give a reasonable time, so far as was possible, to the Opposition to study the Bill—it is not a very long one—to prepare any statements they wanted to make and to look up any newspaper clippings or anything else they wanted. Evidently there is a great deal of difference of opinion on the opposite benches as to what to do about the Bill. Last night I got the impression that we were going to have no difficulty with this Bill, that the need for it was recognised on the opposite benches, and that everything possible would be done by the Opposition to make it possible to have the measure in time. We have all day to-morrow to consider it. I think Deputy Mulcahy misunderstood me. I do not wish to bring the House back on Saturday. I stated that I felt it my duty as Minister for External Affairs to implement my promise, as far as I could, without using the majority here just to pass the Bill, without giving those who  are opposed to it a fair opportunity to give their views on the matter and to discuss it. As Minister for External Affairs and the person responsible for the Bill I am anxious, so far as it lies in my power, reasonably to implement that promise. I believe it is important that all the Governments should have powers at their disposal by Saturday next to prevent recruitment and to prevent the going of volunteers to either side in Spain, and also to prevent—it would be more a matter for other countries than for this country—the export of war material. If the Opposition is opposed to that, the only thing I can do is to give them until Wednesday. Then on Wednesday I will expect to have all the Stages of the Bill finished. That is, that we can discuss this again to-morrow and on Wednesday. At the same time, I would ask if it is at all possible for the Opposition to facilitate us by making it possible for us to line up with the other nations. There are 27 nations. All the nations of Europe are represented on this Non-Intervention Committee—all of Europe. I am anxious that we should play our part in trying to shorten this conflict in Spain by preventing the export of arms to the combatants and also by preventing recruitment for the various sides who are fighting out in Spain—a fight which for most of them, at any rate, is not the sort of fight that we think it is, but is a fight for one “ism” against another.
Mr. Anthony: Might I indicate to the President a means by which it might be possible to get the Bill through by Monday? I suggest that with the exception of the mover of the motion and the mover of the amendment—who I hope will not take more than two hours—there might be a common agreement limiting the speeches to 30 minutes. The President, for once, might break precedent and suggest to the Ceann Comhairle, or the Ceann Comhairle suggest to the House that all  Deputies who want to speak on the matter should confine themselves to 20 minutes, because I can foresee, judging by some of the marathon speakers we have in the House, that we might otherwise have to go on until Wednesday month. I make the suggestion seriously because it is a very serious matter. As a matter of fact, I feel, as one who can fairly interpret the feelings of the community at large in matters such as this, that there is considerable opposition to this measure in the country. For that, if for no other reason, I feel that the President should give a little extra time. At the same time, I feel that we should at least have that much respect for the President and the high office he holds as, in a matter of this kind, to submit at least to the curtailment of speeches so that full and free expression can be given to views on every side of the House.
The President: If I might intervene on a point of order. I am to take it then that we are not going to be facilitated by the Opposition. I just want to be clear about that. I give notice accordingly that I will put down motions which will enable us to finish all stages of this Bill on Wednesday.
Mr. Belton: That is all right for men of leisure like Deputy MacDermot, who has nothing else to do, but we who have business to look after during the week-end, and who have to see about paying our men, cannot very well afford to sit late on Friday evening and on Saturday. Deputy MacDermot is  an armchair politician and an armchair citizen of this country, and no more.
To delete all words after the word “that” and to substitute therefor the following: “the Dáil declines to give a second reading to the Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Bill, 1937, until the Government have broken off diplomatic relations with the Caballero Government in Spain.
I hoped that the mere handing in of the amendment might have been utilised by the President to depart from his usual practice, at least that it might have conveyed to him that this Bill was not, in its present form, and in the present circumstances that surround it, by any means the non-contentious measure he seems to imagine it is. I thought he might have availed of the opportunity in introducing this Bill to make the position of the Government clear, or at least somewhat clearer, and in another way than I am afraid he has made it—I say afraid because there were some remarks dropped by the President which I do think did make the President's position rather clear. That particular remark is one to which I shall have to refer later; that the fight in Spain is a fight between “isms.”
Professor O'Sullivan: Exactly. There are few things ever said by the President that, being listened to, have not one interpretation, and a long time after get another interpretation that seems to be exactly the opposite. I am going to quote from other members of the Party more definite views expressed to that same purport. I  was hoping that the President would make a decision on our attitude towards the Spanish civil war, or as I prefer to call it, the war now going on in Spain, because it is much more than a civil war and there is a great deal more involved in it. I have no objection if in the Short Title it should be hurriedly referred to as the Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Bill, but I wish to make it quite clear from the start that I am convinced now, and have been convinced for months, that the civil war aspect is the less important aspect of that particular struggle. It is, if the President likes, a struggle between “isms,” between Communism and Religionism, I suppose it might be called. That is what it is essentially, and that is why we thought last November, and in the questions put to-day to the President, that he might avail of the opportunity given him to make clear, at least to the people of this country, and to any other people that may be interested in our views, what our attitude was towards this struggle between “isms” in Spain. What is the Government's policy as regards this struggle? The President said in a very vague and guarded way that we should not mind what our sympathies might lead us to do. He was equally vague and equally guarded, with nothing definite, as to where the sympathies of the Irish people lay.
What does it matter what the majority of the Irish people think? What does it matter what their sympathies are? The President is going to do the “correct” thing. Perish the idea of what the Irish people may think. What does it matter about their sympathies? Does that influence the President? No. He is going to be “correct,” because he suggests that this is a measure that will help to bring an early end to the struggle in Spain. Apparently he is not interested in what the end will be. Why should he be, in this struggle between “isms”? The main thing is to bring the struggle to an end. He thinks this Bill will facilitate that. Surely the Minister for External Affairs should, at least, have had various opportunities, since the question was first raised in this House,  and even before it was raised here, to give us, on behalf of the Government, some account of what is happening as regards the policy of non-intervention. The President says that this State, whose foreign policy I gather is not guided from any outside source, is a member of the Non-Intervention Committee; that there are 27 States in all, of which admittedly we are one. Can he tell us to what extent that policy of non-intervention has been a success, to what extent the engagements entered into by his 26 colleagues have been honoured? These are matters on which he could have given us information. He preferred not to say a single word about that, except to suggest that there was bad faith on the part of some other members of the Committee. Does the President deny that interpretation of what he said as regards other members of the committee? Did he not convey to the House that members of the committee had entered into commitments which they did not observe? The President could have made a case. He did not make it. I can see that a case could be made, and that there are sound grounds for the policy of non-intervention, if that policy could be made a reality. He did not bother to make that case. He has never made that case. I think the only words said in favour of that case were not said by the President but, by the Opposition. All the President has done is to hide himself behind the skirts of the Non-Intervention Committee. So far as the people of Ireland are concerned they require no information. What do they matter? This wretched little people off the shores of the Continent! Need they be told? No! He and other people— unnamed as far as the bulk of the Irish people are concerned—have come to an agreement. Why have they come to an agreement? Nobody knows. Each man can think it out for himself. He will get no help from the Minister for External Affairs in that particular matter. Is that the way to administer the Department of External Affairs? Is that the way to treat the Irish people, to keep them absolutely in the dark, when a measure is being passed, that the  President, by implication, acknowledges outrages the feelings of the people or, in case I misinterpret him, is not in accordance with the sympathies of the people? Surely if that is so, the President should have put the case. Even if he has the contempt for this House that he has often shown, ought he to have the same contempt for the Irish people? He may have the view that we are a paltry people off the shores of Europe but, at least, we have to decide our own conduct in this matter, and worthless as our sympathies may be, to be contemned as they may be, at least the people deserve better treatment and more information than they have got in this matter.
The President in the course of a little essay gave us really no information. Does the President pretend that he gave us anything except what was in the newspapers for the last few days? He spoke about the failure of the Intervention Pact on arms. He is now entering into an agreement which he can enforce in this country. Has he any guarantee that the same agreement is to be enforced by other countries? How is it to be enforced? No indication. The President said there were 27 members. May I ask one question, the answer to which will help? Is Mexico a member? Surely the President can answer and help the debate to that extent. Will he answer? He refuses. That shows the help given in democratic parliamentary institutions by the most recent convert to democracy—not the most recent convert as Russia is more recent. He will not tell us. Supposing Mexico is not a member what is to prevent the passage of volunteers from, say, Russia to Mexico and their then coming back to Spain. Have the Non-Intervention Powers power to blockade the ports of Spain against States that are not members of this committee? I do not know why the President will not give us any information. He is a member of the Non-Intervention Committee. I admit that he is not a member of the Select Committee—he is not select enough for that—but he is a member of the Non-Intervention  Committee. What part did we take in this whole discussion? What care has the Government given to this whole question? Had they any evidence to show that they have ever thought over the matter one way or another? If there is such evidence, I put it to the House, is it before the House? I put it to the country, is it before the country? Surely those are reasons why the President must see that it is an outrage to try to rush a Bill of this kind, riling the sympathies of the majority of the people. I presume that is what the President meant. I presume he meant that the majority of the people are on the side of General Franco. I wonder did he mean that, because he was careful not to state it. What he stated was that there is no doubt where the sympathies of the majority of the people of this country are. I have never got a clear indication from that particular Party as to where they think the sympathies of the majority of the people of this country are. At present I know only one what I can call official statement, apart from the “isms”, which I have unfortunately misinterpreted, on the part of the President. Here is a quotation from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Hugo Flinn. I take it from the Government organ—excuse me, the Fianna Fáil organ. At Gort, on Sunday, 2nd August, 1936, we had this contribution from the Government Benches: “Systems of Government in parts of Europe were in a state of flux. They had dictatorships in Russia, Italy and Germany, and at the present time in Spain the struggle was concerned with an attempt to change the system of Government. There was a struggle going on between Fascism and democracy. Fianna Fáil had no use for Fascism.” I give that to the President as a gloss on his “isms”. According to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, the struggle in Spain is a struggle between “isms”— between Fascism and democracy.
Professor O'Sullivan: Quite; I have dealt with that. And Fianna Fáil has  no use for Fascism. We have had many boasts in this House as to where the views of the majority of the people of this country were represented. Am I to assume that the Minister for External Affairs—I gather that he spoke altogether in that capacity this evening—can believe for a moment that the sympathies of the majority of our people are on the side of what the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Hugo Flinn, calls democracy in Spain? Is that what the President meant to convey? I have appealed to the President before in this matter, and so has my leader, Deputy Cosgrave. Last November we introduced a resolution here. Owing to the peculiar tactics, owing to that great respect which the President has for parliamentary institutions and the extraordinarily peculiar way he has of showing that respect, the Opposition was practically limited to those two speeches. At least one thing characterised those two speeches. The President might agree with them or disagree with them, but I challenge any fair-minded man to examine those two speeches and say that they did not go as far as was possible to avoid raising anything in the nature of purely Irish party politics in reference to that matter. We tried to keep that entirely out of the dispute, and the only answer we got from the President was a Party political speech of the characteristic type. Knowing the seriousness of this particular case, knowing that the fate of Europe, and, therefore, the fate of this country was involved, we tried to lift that particular plea that we were making out of the ordinary realm of Party politics. I do not think there was a word that could be taken as having reference to the politics of this country; yet the only answer we got was a Party political speech of the worst type, and there was no attempt to answer our questions.
One of the reasons why we did that in November, and why we are doing it now, is this—just to do our best to contribute to the defeat of a certain type of propaganda that is going on all over Europe—in this country, in Great Britain, and in every country in Europe—a propaganda that tries to make the suggestion that the struggle  in Spain is a struggle between Fascism and democracy. The very thing that the Parliamentary Secretary for Finance accepted is the thing we are anxious to combat; we are certainly anxious to deny that this struggle in Spain is merely a struggle between “isms”. It is nothing of the kind. But I will say this: I have always had an extraordinary admiration for the power and cleverness of the propaganda of the Communist International and of the Soviet Government. I do not know if its success has ever been more clearly demonstrated than in the present case. When this revolt broke out in Spain last July, I think the general opinion in Europe was against the Communists. The Communists and Anarchists had put themselves out of court by their conduct. But by subtle propaganda, by raising false issues, by suggesting that this was a struggle between Fascism and democracy, between Fascism and anti-Fascism, that this was a struggle on the part of the people against military dictatorship and Fascist dictatorship, they have been able to win over a large bulk of public opinion in Europe. This has been done by raising false issues. They have done it in an unmatched manner. They have changed the names of their journals in different countries, dropping Communist labels and substituting popular front labels. They have changed the names of their organisations, dropping the Communist labels and substituting other labels—all for what purpose? To get it across, as apparently they have got it across to the Fianna Fáil Party, that this is a struggle between Fascism and democracy. It is nothing of the kind. Here was an opportunity, as we pointed out to the President before, to show that it is not. We asked him to do it. There was no censure involved. We asked him to do it—to show that there was a Government in Europe which nobody could accuse of not now being a Parliamentary Government, whatever its ultimate aims might be, a country with democratic parliamentary institutions, that was against the Communist Party in Spain. The President had an opportunity of doing that. He failed to avail himself of that opportunity  last November. He has failed to do so now.
Can anybody explain the obstinacy with which he goes against what I at all events hold is the sympathy of the great bulk of the Irish people? I interpret it in a way different from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance; I have no doubts as to where the sympathy of the Irish people is. I have no doubt as to the strength of that sympathy. I believe that the great bulk of the Irish people know perfectly well what is at stake. Here we had an opportunity for at least doing our little bit. The President may not think we are much; at least we had an opportunity of doing our little bit to counteract that propaganda—one of the most successful things that have been carried through by the Communist International. The President brings in a Bill of this kind; it is unfortunate but at least he did not have to remedy that. But at the precise moment that he is bringing in this Bill his Minister accredited to the Caballero Government goes back to resume his functions, goes back to the place where most of the diplomats of Europe are. I think everybody will admit that the answers given by the President to-day in that respect are a revelation, and not the kind of revelation that the country will like. He tried to convey as little information as possible, but there were certain things which slipped out and to which I should like to call his attention. To the first question, as to terminating diplomatic relations and assuming relations with other people, I am not aware that there is any particular time at which States determine to recognise Governments. The President seems to think that a time suddenly comes when, almost of itself, recognition comes from all Governments. That is not so. The same Government has been recognised by different Powers at different times, and there is no hard and fast rule as that behind which the President tries to shelter himself. He need not pretend that there is. See the length of time it took the different Powers of Europe to recognise the  Government of Soviet Russia. It is the same with other Powers.
He speaks of established Governments. Is the Caballero Government the established de facto Government of Spain? Over what portion of Spain does it rule de facto or de jure at the present moment? Can he explain why he keeps his representative with that particular Government, ruling over a small portion of Spain, de facto, and refuses to send him to the Government ruling over the larger portion of Spain? Or are his views represented in this particular Bill as to the people warring in Spain? Section 3 sets out that the word “belligerent” means one of the Governments or organisations in the nature of Governments between whom war is being waged. Perhaps the President will explain what he means by that? Are there Governments in Spain? This Bill recognises that there are. The President introduces a Bill here which recognises different Governments in Spain. Otherwise there is no meaning in that particular drafting. There are other juntas, too, apparently, namely, “organisations in the nature of Governments,” but there must be more than one Government in Spain, according to the President's own Bill. Why is it he recognises one and only one?
How can the Irish people interpret his action? I pay very little attention to the words “There is no doubt as to where the sympathy of the majority of the Irish people lies.” The Irish people will judge by his action, and how can they interpret his action in any way except this, that he regards, and that this country is held to accept the view, that this is a struggle between Fascism and Democracy and that he has his representative with the democratic Government? I fail to see how the Irish people can interpret the action and words of the President in any other manner but that. Then, in so far as this country is known in Europe, and I will agree with the President that perhaps there is not much known about it in Europe, there are certain things known about it there. I think it is known in Europe that we  have certain ideals and beliefs in this country. How can Europe, in so far as Europe is interested in us, any more than the Irish people, interpret this combined action of the Minister for External Affairs and of our Government in bringing this Bill in and in sending its diplomat back to the Caballero Government? How can it interpret it otherwise than that this Government has made up its mind that this is a struggle in Spain between “isms,” between Fascism and Democracy, and has made up its mind that the anti-Franco cause is the cause of Democracy?
I do not see how the President's action can be interpreted in any other way, and it was to prevent that, to prevent misinterpretation of that kind, that we moved our amendment. We made it quite clear at the time. We gave an opportunity in Questions to-day and we give an opportunity to the President now of at least getting rid of that misconception on the part of our people and any other people who are interested in our views. Deputy Dillon to-day, in reply to the first answer, put a very pertinent supplementary question. In that question he suggested the undesirability of this country holding itself out amongst the nations of the world as one which considers it desirable and expedient to maintain diplomatic relations with a Government which is notoriously Communist, and which is primarily concerned in Spain at present to drive religion out of that country, and to deny the very existence of God. It was a very definite and clear question. What was the illuminating answer the President gave to the House and to the Irish people? “My answer explains the question.” That is a serious treatment of a serious question!—“My answer explains the question.”
Deputy Dillon, possibly owing to the lack of subtlety that prevails on this side of the House, being unable to understand precisely what the President is talking about, asked: “Does the Minister for External Affairs decline to answer that supplementary question?” and we got the very enlightening words: “I have nothing to add to my answers.”
I quite admit that it is a matter  for laughter for the Fianna Fáil Party. I quite admit that for the Party that thinks this is merely a struggle between Fascism and democracy, it has its humorous side; but we have maintained, and still maintain, in this House that a great deal more and much more vital issues are involved. It is absurd to try to get away from that issue. Then when he was asked in a second question about accrediting a Minister he then did what is, I am sorry to say, quite characteristic of the President, he tried in some extraordinary, back-stairs way to suggest that this man had been in touch with Franco. Why did he not answer straight out that he was not accredited to Franco? Why? Because he was ashamed to say that straight out. Is there any other explanation why when the question was deliberately put—was our Minister who is at present in St. Jean de Luz accredited to Franco, he refused to answer? Why did he refuse to answer? There is only one explanation. He knew perfectly well to what side the sympathies of the Irish people strongly lean and he tried just to pull the wool over Irish eyes; there is no doubt about that.
Look at the seriousness with which he treated the question! He was asked a very serious question. It is not the professor of mathematics who is giving us a lecture. It is the Minister for External Affairs who, we are asked to believe, takes himself seriously, very seriously, indeed. He is most anxious that a “correct” attitude should be adopted by the Government of this country. He was asked what did he mean when he said that our representative was in St. Jean de Luz and that there he would have an opportunity of observing what occurred on both sides. He was asked a straight question—did he mean to say that the Minister was accredited to both sides, and his reply was that if Deputy Dillon would look at the map he would see that St. Jean de Luz was nearer to Burgos than to Valencia. Well, now, this is a very serious Minister for External Affairs! This illustrates  the serious mind we are asked to bring to bear upon this question— this is the President who is so overcome with the seriousness of the question that he wants to rush this Bill through. That is the way he treats the House. I will say this: the President is running true to form.
Professor O'Sullivan: I need not stress the vital character of this struggle. I have done so already and I do not intend to repeat it. This is a struggle in which the very defence of our European civilisation is involved, and the President need not shut his eyes to it. Personally I do not think he minds what the result may be. I have never found any indication that he does. No doubt he will get up at the final speech on this Bill and say he does, but up to the present he has abstained from giving any definite opinion that he does mind how the struggle will end. But let him not as President but as Minister for External Affairs in the few moments he devotes to that office ask himself this question: Suppose this struggle does end in one way, with the victory of the Communist Party in Spain, does he ever consider what that means for Europe—giving Communism a foothold in one of the oldest states in Western Europe—does he ever ask himself what will that mean for Western Europe? If the struggle should end that way it will be far the biggest victory the Communist Party have gained since the winning over of Russia to Communism. It will mean that Communism will have come to the very gates of Western Europe, and, threatened as Europe is at present, it will then be in the grip of Communism as in a pincers. Still we are told that Communism is only a question of “isms.” How can we have any confidence in a Government; how can we have any confidence in a Bill they introduce or in their proposals to the Dáil; how can we have any belief in a Government that treats an important question in the way that the President has always treated this question, as if the Reds were harmless  playboys who had to be treated kindly? There ought to be some sense of responsibility in the Government.
If the policy of non-intervention could have been carried through there is a great deal to be said for it. I even doubted myself the prudence of a certain line of action. I doubted it for this reason, and I want to make it quite clear:—First and foremost, because I thought that the policy of intervention would be used to a far greater extent—because one of the countries was in a position to so utilise it—on the side of the Communist Party in Spain than on the side of their opponents. I wish to know from the President who asks the House to pass this Bill has he evidence that the frontiers of Spain will be rigidly guarded against the ingress of volunteers to Spain? Is he convinced that the arrangements will be more satisfactory than the arrangements already entered into and that he himself has condemned as being faulty? Certain frontiers can be guarded by fleets. Again I do not know how far they can get different nations such as Mexico who are not parties to this compact to observe this non-intervention. How far can they go to keep the people coming through from Mexico to Spain? Is the President convinced that he or those in league with him in this matter can effectively guard the frontier between France and Spain? Is he convinced that the machinery to be set up will be adequate for that purpose? Is he convinced on that matter? If he is, he has not put a particle of evidence before the House.
As usual, the President asks for a blank cheque. Some time ago he asked for a blank cheque on his own behalf, now he asks it on behalf of the 26 other Powers that he himself has confessed had failed to carry out the agreement into which they had entered. Surely the President knows the difficulty of carrying out such an agreement as this. It may be that his information is confined to information from one side. He may have heard information that thousands of Italians and thousands of Germans have landed in Spain and that war material has  been landed in Spain from Germany and Italy. But anybody who listens to the wireless broadcasts of other countries, not merely reading the English newspapers, would be easily convinced that there is a strong opinion on the part of others of his colleagues that thousands of Russians and tens of thousands of Frenchmen are crossing the frontier into Spain to assist the Communist Government there, and that the very people who made most propaganda—and I again pay a tribute to their cleverness in this matter—are the very people who themselves violated most the principle of non-intervention. What guarantee has the President that the same thing is not going to happen in this matter?
What steps did the President take before he committed himself to this agreement? Did he examine it at all? I do not believe he did. We are asked to give him a blank cheque following that already given by him to others who, as he himself confesses, have not up to the present honoured their agreements. The President can enforce this Bill here. Undoubtedly he can. Again I say that a great deal can be said for that policy of non-intervention in regard to Spain. I was convinced in the long run that intervention would be stronger on the side of the Reds than on the side of their opponents. For this reason I thought a great deal could be said for non-intervention. The President put forward no reason for non-intervention except that the others had agreed. Therefore, let us honour what the President has done without examination! That is the position of this country. What we object to is this: There is a measure brought in here with no justification, without any proof of the effectiveness of the means proposed. I see that his colleague—no, it is the Home Secretary—is going to prosecute all British citizens. Is there identical legislation being introduced in all countries? Apparently not. We are going one step better than the British. We are going to prosecute people of all nationalities if they do certain things. The British, I gather, are going to prosecute “British subjects,” whatever they may be.
 I wonder has the President asked his colleague in one of the intervention Powers what exactly was meant by that phrase: “British subjects passing through England.” That is one of the little questions that apparently he did not think worth bothering about. I understand that he is getting back document No. 2. Is he also getting back to the Cuban position? It is not unlikely. There is no information and no justification for this Bill. You have, as I have already stated, the unfortunate coincidence—I will put it no stronger than that—of the return of our Minister. He could not get a diplomatic illness. No. The return of our Minister coincides with the passing of this Bill.
Why this haste to accredit to the Caballero Government? Is the position with regard to that other Government to which our Minister is not accredited, shall we say, that of an honourable spy? Is that the position? I gather that is the actual position, so far as the President's statement to-day gave information to the people. The country cannot help being extremely uneasy and very perturbed at the whole attitude that the Government has adopted in this matter. I have never seen them so contemptuous in a matter that is dear to the hearts of so many of our people as on this particular question. There is no justification attempted and none offered on the various opportunities that the President and his Department had to put matters before the country.
I have already referred to the success of the campaign, and the President and his Party are contributing to it, for the view that this struggle in Spain is between Fascism and Democracy. Everyone knew at the start of the struggle that it was a contest between Communism and anti-Communism. Now what do you see practically in most of the papers printed in English both here and in Great Britain? (As regards Ireland, I am speaking of the principal Dublin daily papers; the majority of them imply that this is a struggle between Fascism and Democracy.) They have got the lie across. Why should not they get it across when the President's  own Party and one of his colleagues, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, state that this is a struggle between Fascism and Democracy and that the Fianna Fáil Party have no use for Democracy.
Professor O'Sullivan: Occasionally, by mistake, even the truth can be told about the Fianna Fáil Party. Unfortunately I was giving my own views for the moment about the Fianna Fáil Party, and I forgot that I was quoting what Deputy Hugo Flinn had said. One of the most heartening things in the whole of this is the conversion of the President to democratic principles. It is almost as touching, as I have already said, as the conversion of the Soviet Union to the same democratic principles. A couple of years ago we were told that the majority had no right to do wrong. A couple of years ago the Soviet Union had nothing but contempt for democratic principles. Now, it is the great upholder of democratic principles. Some of their colleagues in the Non-Intervention Committee are careful to speak of the union of democratic countries. The President shows that he has overlooked these particular matters. I regret that a Bill for which, in the abstract, a great deal could be said, should be brought forward in this atmosphere. If this Bill had been introduced at the very start, a good deal could be said for it if the policy it embodies had been put into force from the very start. Then, I think, it would have been beneficial to Spain and to Europe. I can see quite well the dangers of a conflagration in Europe if intervention on a large scale is indulged in. I am sorry that the President has not utilised his opportunities to make the attitude of this country, on the question of what is going on in Spain, perfectly clear. He could have done that without in the slightest way endangering this question of non-intervention. If he had done that he would have the whole people behind him. So far  as this country counts for anything, we could have been behind him.
He knows well that there are two striking exceptions. How does he get over these exceptions? Germany and Italy have accorded recognition to Franco, according to the President, but they have accorded recognition from clear and immediate political motives. As for the other nations of Europe, they are quite innocent, I suppose, of base political motives. The only scoundrels in Europe that allow their high conduct to be interfered with by political motives are, unfortunately, the two Governments that have decided against Communism in Spain. It is unfortunate, but that is the President's view. Furthermore, I would like to suggest to the President that there are higher things than political motives; and even if the President is convinced that Russia and France and some other States are motived by nothing else except the highest possible motives of humanitarianism, that there is nothing political behind them, and that everything that the Soviet have said has nothing to do with the spread of their particular gospel, there are higher things to be considered. That he may have forgotten, but he could remember even if we were convinced that Germany and Italy were merely actuated by political motives, that this country might be actuated by something higher than political motives. He refused to do that. He refused to take the opportunity offered to him last November. He refused to take the opportunity offered to him to-day. He prefers to stand in with Russia and France and their purely altruistic motives.
Professor O'Sullivan: Perhaps when Deputy MacDermot has the opportunity we may find that we are going  to get the support of all his Party or only 50 per cent. of it. We get 50 per cent. of the support of his Party in almost every debate, the other 50 per cent. going generally to the Government. I presume that on this occasion we will have 50 per cent. of the support of the Party and that the other 50 per cent. will go to the other side. I quite admit there is only one member in the Party, but that cannot be helped.
Professor O'Sullivan: No. They are the only two countries that have given recognition to the Franco Government, and the President has refused to follow their example because they were actuated by political motives. Now, Deputy MacDermot will have an opportunity of speaking on both sides when he gets up and I have no doubt that he will avail himself to the full of that opportunity.
Professor O'Sullivan: I had not addressed Deputy MacDermot. I had spoken to him in the third person. Mind you, I think he would also like to stand in judgment between the two parts of him that are voting different ways, if he possibly could. Why cannot the President go in for the higher motives? What is there to be lost by taking up the line we ask him to take up? Here, on the very day almost that our Minister returns, this Bill is introduced. There is only one way that can be understood in the country, and only one way in which it can be understood in any portion of Europe that is  interested in our views, and that is that the sympathies of the President are certainly not where the sympathies of the bulk of the Irish people are.
To delete all words after the word “That” and to substitute therefor the following words:—“the Dáil declines to give a Second Reading to the Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Bill, 1937, until the Government has formally recognised the Franco Government in Spain.”
I must certainly say that I was astonished at the opening statement of the President, and I am sure that the whole of the Free State, and not only the Free State or Ireland, but Irish men and women the world over, will be astonished at the statement made by the head of the Government of this country. If I understood him aright, he said that this Bill was to give effect to an agreement entered into with the Non-Intervention Committee. Yesterday we were informed that we, the people of the Free State, have full power over our own foreign policy. Why has the Minister for External Affairs not exercised full power over our own foreign policy? Why has he handed over the conduct of our foreign affairs to a Non-Intervention Committee, to a European Committee, on which he has no representative?
When they crack the whip, evidently, he comes in here to this House and says, in effect, that a piece of legislation must be rushed through without the elected representatives of the Irish people getting a fair and full opportunity to consider that piece of legislation, or without giving the people of this country an opportunity to analyse that legislation, particularly in the light of the President's acting to-night as Minister for External Affairs. It is beyond my ability, at least, to make two persons out of one as dexterously as Deputy O'Sullivan was able to do it when he was addressing the House.
Mr. Belton: Even though the subject at my disposal may have two or many personalities—even though he has two offices—I cannot dissociate an important statement made in one capacity of that person from his acting in another capacity. Although he is Minister for External Affairs here to-night, he is President of this Dáil, which means Dictator of this country in present circumstances, for there is not a Deputy behind him there who dares question any public or private utterance or any decision of the President. There is no Senate, there is no Governor-General, and so, what the President says is law in this country. The President has said here to-night that now that he has got his orders from the Non-Intervention Committee—that he has got his orders from John Bull—he is here to-night to carry them out. These are the plain, simple facts of the situation, and the sooner we get down to them the better.
The President says that the Government agreed to the Non-Intervention Pact. The Government has agreed to everything that has been introduced in this House here to-night, asking this House to consider what we are considering here to-night on the authority of the President, which has been agreed to already by the Government of this country. If there is any doubt about that, and as this is a most important measure, and a most important decision will have to be taken to-night, to-morrow or Wednesday— some day very soon, at any rate, a very important decision will have to be taken on this matter—will the President call off the Whips and let the Deputies of this House vote according to their conscience on this? There are Deputies of his own Party, who, I know, are anxious—more anxious perhaps than any other Deputies in this House—for the recognition of General Franco's Government, but they will not be allowed to vote according to their conscience and they are not men enough to act up to the dictates of their conscience.
 The President said: “Well, we have decided, or a decision has been taken by the Non-Intervention Committee, that Spain should be left to fight out this civil war; that Spain should be left to decide its own destiny. We want to fulfil our obligation to the Non-Intervention Committee. The fight in Spain is merely a local fight, a fight between two ‘isms,’ and we should have no concern in them.” That was the statement of President de Valera in this House to-night. Now, apart from the humiliation of our Government, our representative of External Affairs, to my knowledge, not having uttered a word on this conflict in Spain since it started; having allowed, for some reason or another, our Consul or our Minister or representative in Spain—whatever the name of his office may be—to return home here and, trying to keep a leg on two horses, to keep him at home here so that he would not have to explain that we have no representative with the Caballero Government if we have no representative with the Franco Government, now, when he thought this job was near its consummation, this Minister gets orders to go out and reside in France, near to Burgos, but acting and accredited to the Caballero Government —accredited to the Prime Minister of the Government of anti-Christ. These are not my words. They are the words of the Cardinal Primate of Spain, used in my presence in his little bed-sittingroom at the foot of the Pyrenees in Pamplona, on the 24th November last. The room in which he was accommodated was a combined office, sittingroom and bedroom.
President de Valera can get up in this House and say that the fight in Spain is a fight between two “isms,” but the Cardinal Primate of Spain, a second dignitary of the Catholic Church, the Church to which the President and I belong, and the Church, therefore, to which we should give respect and credence, does not say that it is a fight between two “isms.” He says it is a fight between Christ and anti-Christ that was started and is being waged on Spanish soil. Does the President deny it? If he does,  here is the pastoral written by the Cardinal-Primate of Spain. Here is the original in Spanish with an endorsement to myself signed by the Cardinal himself in Pamplona. President de Valera, in substance and in fact, by his statement here to-night, has said in effect that the Cardinal Primate of Spain is a liar.
Mr. Belton: Our friends on the opposite side will not stand up to it when it is put under their noses. They will sneer, laugh, grin and make fun of this whole matter until they are brought up against it. Is this war in Spain a war between two “isms”? Is it a war between Fascism and democracy, or is it a war between those who believe in God and those who do not? The Government of this country has recognised since July last a Government that does not believe in God and which openly has declared this war on God and on religion. The authority you have for that description is the authority of the Cardinal-Primate of Spain. Do you deny his word? Do you believe him? You must either believe him or disbelieve him. President de Valera apparently does not believe him. He has looked into his own heart and he has seen the answer there, just as ten or fifteen years ago he said that he had looked into his own heart in regard to Ireland and had seen the answer there.
I have here another endorsed document by the Cardinal-Primate of Spain, an open letter to Signor Aguirre, the leader of the Basque Nationalists. I have here also an endorsed copy of his pastoral letter dated 12th February, from Pamplona. Here is documentary proof of the nature of the fight in Spain. This country has now got to stand up to it in face of the evidence here produced. We have got to say whether we stand for Christ or anti-Christ. That is the issue, nothing else. I am not the author of this evidence. The Cardinal, who is on the spot, is one of the authors of it. He is Cardinal not only of Burgos, Salamanca, Malaga, Cadiz,  Alegciras and Pamplona, but he is Cardinal also of Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona. His Private Secretary is Canon Despojol, who was a Canon in Barcelona when the trouble broke out. For two months he had to masquerade as a commercial traveller. He showed me a photograph in which he was shown with a moustache and wearing an ordinary lounge suit.
There was a long struggle—I remember it in my young days—for higher education for Catholics in this country. I was sorry to notice that a representative from the university smiled or grinned when I was making these remarks. Higher education and education generally is going to be put to the test now. We have got to drive Communism out of this country, whether it be in the National University, Trinity College or in a “snug.” Why was the Cardinal-Primate of Spain, if this was a fight between two “isms,” on that November night accommodated in a little room in a convent in Pamplona instead of living in his palace 400 miles away in Toledo? I had been in Toledo a few days before that and his palace was shut up. Why was not the Cardinal of Spain in his palace in Toledo, if it is a fight between two “isms” and not a fight involving religion?
From whatever line of approach you come to examine and analyse the subject, there is not a shadow of excuse for the President coming to the decision to which he states he has come or a shadow of excuse for the statement he has made here to-night. I am not surprised that he wanted to rush this Bill. I am not surprised that he did not want to hear the literature, the exhaustive literature, exhaustive ad nauseam, to prove the real nature of the war in Spain. I saw before I went to Spain, and so did my colleagues, that no matter what evidence we would get, it would be countered. We knew where that was coming from. Now we know why all the mud that was flung by a certain organ of the Press against a certain non-political movement in this country, alleging that it was political, was flung at it. I had always a doubt that the Fianna Fáil Party was “pink” but, after the disclosures made here this evening  through its chief spokesman, I am now afraid it is “red.” The President was anxious to get this Bill through quickly but, when he expressed himself as he did here to-night, he must go slowly. If he has not studied the Spanish problem, or the problem of the Spanish war, we shall have to take him over some of the evidence, some of the incontrovertible proof that we have, as to the cause and the nature of the Spanish war.
I ask Deputies here, and I ask the people of this country, to say whether on this matter they are going to accept the statement of the Cardinal Primate of Spain or the dogmatism of President de Valera, given 1,500 miles away from the scene of this war.
“It is not a fight for or against a republic, as some partisans of the republic would pretend. The dynastic question is not an issue, for the moment the form of government has been relegated to the background....
“This sanguinary war is at bottom a clash of principles, of doctrines, of a concept of life and of one social order against another. In brief, it is an armed clash between two totally opposed civilisations. It is a war which the Christian soul of Spain has undertaken against that other soul or spirit—if such it can be called— which would wish to lay Marxist materialism as the foundation of all human activity, from the loftiest aspirations of the intellect to the trifling events of our every-day life. On one side are ranged men who, in varying degrees, represent, wholly  or in part, the old tradition and history of Spain; on the other side is an ill-assorted conglomeration of types whose object is, even more than the conquest of the enemy, the destruction of all the monuments of our old civilisation.”
“The fact was that religion and fatherland were in the gravest peril in a country dragged to the edge of the abyss by political action totally at variance with our national sentiment and history. Hence it was that the reaction was more intense where the religious and patriotic spirit was best conserved. For the reasons stated this movement has assumed a religious character, which has manifested itself so clearly in the fields of battle where our soldiers fight wearing sacred emblems openly, and in the outburst of deep religious feeling among the non-combatants at home.
“That the religious aspect plays such a part in the actual war is amply proved by the fact that the present struggle, without the religious impetus, would be straightaway enervated. Certain it is that the patriotic motive has also been a great stimulus in the ranks of the national army; but nobody acquainted with the facts is unaware that it was those regions precisely, where the Faith was most deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, that gave the largest number of volunteers in the beginning, and that it was the religious ideal which rendered these volunteers the bravest in the patriotic army. We can go even further and say that the war would have been lost for the patriots were it not for the stimulus of religious fervour. The Christian soul of both the soldiers on the battlefield and the non-combatants at home, who were supporting them with their encouragement and help, thrilled with fervour at the remembrance that the fight was one in defence of their Faith. We omit the consideration of any other supernatural motive.”
“I am anxious that we should play our part in trying to shorten this conflict in Spain by preventing the export of arms to the combatants and also by preventing recruitment for the various sides who are fighting out in Spain, a fight which, for most of them, at any rate, is not the sort of fight that we think it is, but is a fight for one “ism” against another.”
Mr. Belton: I have no desire to misrepresent the President at all, but the President occupies an important office in this country and in this grave moment he speaks for all Irishmen and women the world over and he should speak; he should not half speak. Do not tell us what some people believe the Spaniards think is an issue in this fight. What do you think is the issue in this fight? That is what we want to know. Do not half speak. Speak as the representative of the Irish people and do not be ashamed or afraid of it.
Mr. Belton: Not for the President. We have to shoulder responsibility for this and the President in his high office should shoulder his. Do not tell us what the Spaniards think this is a fight over; do not tell us what people in this country think it is a fight over; tell us what  you, as representing the Irish people, as representing the Government of the Irish people, think this is a fight about. And we should know it. The President has not yet made up his mind as to what he will say on this matter. He wants to have innumerable lines of approach and retreat so that, if he is attacked on any front, he can escape in another direction. Now, we are going to make a decision from which there cannot be escape and the decision is whether we in this country are going to stand by the Government of Christianity or the Government of anti-Christ in Spain. Let me quote further:
“And let it be here laid down as a certain fact that, even though the actual strife appears to be of a purely civil nature, fought out on Spanish soil and by Spaniards, in its essence it should be recognised as a real crusade for the Christian faith, which has vivified with its spirit the history of Spain for centuries and has constituted, as it were, the core of its organisation and life.”
“Let us here dispel a prejudice which might have most dire consequences in time to come. A war against Marxist Communism, as is ours, is not against the proletariat, corrupted as it is in great part by the Marxist agitators. In the defence of religion we have taken up the sword. We fight not for the humiliation of the working classes or to perpetuate old abuses which should not have lasted to our day. To say that we do so is a calumny and a crime, which has in it the seed of future class war and of religious disturbance.”
Mr. Belton: The remark is worthy of  the Deputy who made it. It is a disgrace. I have many times and in many places, in the last six months, said: “It is a great battle that is going on against Communism in this country; but where is the Communism?” There is some of it.
Mr. Belton: If my pronunciation is at fault, will the President correct it? My facts are not at fault. The President does not like to hear them, but he is only at the beginning of hearing them. The translation of this is vouched for by Canon McMahon, Theological Censor, and has the Imprimatur of his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, and I do not think it will be questioned. The pastoral goes on:
Mr. Belton: A deliberate attempt is obviously being made to prevent me from making my speech and to get me to lose my temper, but it will not work. You are only encouraging the President to sharpen the guillotine sharper by delaying tactics of this kind.
“Nobody in Spain to-day is unaware that Communism had prepared a coup d'état after the best Muscovite model, to be staged during  the very days in which the national movement began. It was to be one bold stroke by which would be overthrown everything that could serve as a bulwark or support or social bond of our old civilisation. The religion, the family, property, authority, the fundamental institutions of the old order of things were to suffer the terrific smashing blows of the revolution, which had been organised to destroy them all and to raise on their ruins the Soviet régime. Five years of propaganda, of inconceivable toleration by the Government, of organisation and acquisition of war material made it possible to foretell the outbreak almost to the day... The first onslaught of the revolution was against the great fact of religion itself, which constitutes a basic element in every civilisation and in every nation, and which, moreover, in Spain presented a social programme surpassed by none. Religion is the support of all civilisation, giving to it its force and peculiar character. Everyone who remained staunch to his Faith and dared to show it suffered accordingly.”
That is the “ism” recognised by our Government then and since, with which a special trade agreement was made and has been since preserved, and the monopoly of that trade handed over to a group who are in the main publicly acknowledged and avowed Communists.
These are not my words. I could have collected the information and brought it home and published it here, and perhaps be paid for its publication. But if I quoted it in this House to-night, certain Deputies, seeing how they are conducting themselves, would only laugh and say: “These are wild stories; what do you know about Spain? You were only there a few days.” I am too long on the road not to know what I would be up against, so instead of collecting the information I got it collected from authoritative  sources. Not only is it published over their names, but they have actually autographed copies of the pamphlets which they sent here. I have these autographed copies here and will show them to any Deputy who doubts it.
“....many of whom perished midst scenes of obscenity and with unheard of torments. The priest is ‘the man of God’; to destroy God, those men who call themselves the ‘Godless’ and the ‘anti-God’ must naturally eliminate from society His representatives. When the world learns the facts—for to-day they lie hidden in the regions not yet reconquered—this hecatomb of God's anointed will cause horror and confusion. As well as ‘God's ministers,’‘the Houses of God’ have also suffered. Innumerable churches— many of them works of art in themselves, historical monuments containing many priceless gems accumulated by the faithful throughout the centuries, and living centres of the traditional faith of our people—have been razed to the ground.”
For what purpose? Is it for the defence of democracy, as we understand it? Is it for such people as we are who, before we start our business here at 3 o'clock, get up and say a prayer, while our representative is accredited to a Government of that kind? On the Adjournment Debate in August last, I drew attention to the fact that the House was adjourning for a few months, leaving the trade routes open to the Reds in Spain. I asked if we were not going to discontinue our trade agreement with that country. I was laughed at then. I warned the President that perhaps before the House reassembled the people of this country would have spoken on the question. They have spoken on it, as over 100,000 citizens gathered in College Green to cheer for the success of the arms of General Franco. Has the President not heard of that? That was more than all the machined organisation could get  together, even before to-night. After this the numbers who will do that will be five times as many as he will ever see together again at his call. Those of us who have families and responsibilities want to leave this country as good as we got it, for our children to bring up their families. I am not preaching religion here.
Mr. Belton: There is as good a field for missionaries in the Dáil as there is in China, and some of them would be harder to convert than the Chinese. The Cardinal Primate goes on to say: “We cannot but blame the treachery of the authorities.” Is there not a terrible similarity? I saw loud speakers cut down and the air thick with bricks while hundreds of Civil Guards stood around not daring to interfere. We see the mentality revealed here to-night. The sooner that mentality is revealed all over the country the better it will be for the country, though it will be a rude awakening for the people.
“We cannot but blame the treachery of the authorities, the ignorance of the masses, the passions inflamed by war, and the spirit of vengeance and rapine, for the part they played in causing this terrible disaster...”
An Ceann Comhairle: I do not like to interrupt the Deputy, but I should like to know if he proposes to read all the pastorals and the other documents before him. It would be scarcely fair to the House, and would not be in accordance with good procedure, to do so. To read portions of the pastoral in support of his arguments is, of course, legitimate.
Mr. Belton: I am only reading passages from this document. I did not  intend to read it until I heard the President's statement. It was news to me to hear the quotation given by Deputy O'Sullivan from a speech made in Galway last August by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Flinn, in which he stated that the fight in Spain was a fight between Fascism and democracy. That is what the Communists all over Europe are saying. Honestly, I did not believe that any Deputy would stand up anywhere and make such a statement. I felt that before I could make a case for my amendment I had to prove beyond yea or nay that the fight in Spain was not a fight between Fascism and democracy; that in reality it was a fight between democracy and Communism; a fight for freedom against the tyranny of Communism. Fortunately I have at my command what is perhaps the most authentic document available on the question. I have a document that I saw signed by his Eminence Cardinal Gomá Tomás. I can identify his signature on the documents he sent me for publication in connection with the civil war. I think it is absolutely necessary, with your permission, Sir, that there should be no shadow about the real issues of the war in Spain.
“What has caused the corruption of the Christian spirit of our country, and made possible that catastrophe already referred to, was the unremitting work of infiltration for years of doctrines abroad, impious legislation passed at the behest of international secret  societies, Soviet propaganda assisted by the gold that has been pouring into Spain unceasingly, which has made possible the bribery of those in power, and the perversion of the masses by the false allurement of the Communistic doctrines
“The spirit of Russia, the genius behind international Communism, is that which has supplanted the Christian spirit in a large portion of our people. It has caused them to turn wildly against that Spain which, formed at the ‘Counsels of Toledo’——”
“Let Spain prove both a warning and a lesson. Do not consider yourselves immune from the evil that has anguished the soul of our nation, and has led it to the brink of ruin. There is no body politic that does not present a favourable field for the growth of Communism if it is unfaithful to God, Who gives life and union to souls, and to His law which is the only guarantee of justice and of the social order. And it is God and His law that are being cast aside in nearly every country of the world to-day.”
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