Committee on Finance. - Vote 65—Army (Resumed).

Thursday, 14 July 1938

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 72 No. 8

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Colonel Ryan: Information on Col. Jeremiah Ryan  Zoom on Col. Jeremiah Ryan  With reference to what was under discussion last night, [797] I want to impress on the Minister that there is a duty imposed upon him, because of what he and the Taoiseach have told the House from time to time, to keep those officers in the Army for some time at least. From what we heard from the Minister and the Taoiseach, it seems that we are day after day preparing for war. If we are I think that those men who have spent their lives in the Army, and spent some time previously in the service of the country when there was urgent need for such men, ought to be kept on. I ask the Minister to consider the matter seriously before he shoves those men out with a pension of two-thirds or something of that sort. The whole trend of what the Taoiseach and the Minister for Defence have said is that we are fast preparing for war. What are we going to defend? Are we going to defend this country, and against whom? These are questions I would like the Minister to answer.

What is going to be the cost in the future? We have no idea; we have not even got a plan from the Minister; there is nothing in detail as to what is going to take place in regard to defence during the next 12 months. We would like to know what is in the Minister's mind so far as defence is concerned. I should like him to tell us whether there is going to be co-operation with the British forces. I am sure that no one on this side of the House will blame the Minister if he tells us the truth now, before there are any further commitments. One must assume from the existing position that there are going to be many more commitments, and we should like some definite assurance on the matter from the Minister. I should like to put some questions to the Minister with reference to the Military Service Pensions Act of 1934.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That may be raised on the next Vote—Army Pensions. All military pensions come within that Vote.

Colonel Ryan: Information on Col. Jeremiah Ryan  Zoom on Col. Jeremiah Ryan  I am quite satisfied; that will suit me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The House might desire an assurance from the [798] Minister that all military pensions do come within the ambit of Vote 66.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Aiken): Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Yes.

Colonel Ryan: Information on Col. Jeremiah Ryan  Zoom on Col. Jeremiah Ryan  In conclusion, I shall ask the Minister to keep in mind the welfare of the country. Think of the country and forget about political matters. The people in the country have to live, and that is the point that should be foremost in the Minister's mind. If the Government think along those lines, perhaps they will do better than in the past.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I wonder if it would be apposite for a person who, in this matter, primarily represents the tax-paying community, to say a word? This Estimate is naturally one in which technical knowledge plays no small part. Nevertheless, apart from the technical interest that soldiers and military men may take in the defence problems that present themselves at the present time, the people of the country must ultimately pay, and we must keep in our minds, when we are looking at these problems, the fact that in certain countries in Europe to-day the people are being required to choose between guns and butter. In some of those counties it is regarded as high treason to choose butter. If you choose butter you go to an internment camp. Now, we are all aware, whether we are technicians in this matter or not, of the modern development in armaments and of the immense growth of armaments in the last five years.

The primary problem of defence in this country is what we would do if our territory were threatened by a foreign invader. I would be very much obliged to the Minister for Defence if he would tell us now what is the general policy of the Government in that contingency. Is it to resist invasion? Is it to build up armaments here which would give an invader a formidable fight before he got in, because, speaking purely as a citizen and as one inexperienced in military technique, I submit that is an entirely unattainable objective and that our attitude before the world should be that we have no desire to [799] invade any country, that we have no desire to acquire any territory, that with our resources, we are not in a position to resist any invader who proposes to enter our territory, but that we fix all and sundry with notice that no matter how powerful they are, if they invade Ireland they embark, not on a 100 years war, but on a 700 years war, if necessary, and fix them with notice also that we were invaded by Britain in the year 1172 and that though it took some time to get them out, we shifted them finally in 1921. Accordingly, we should inform them that if anybody wants to invade us in 1938, we do not propose to bluff or pretend for a moment that we have resources effectively to resist the modern army of a powerful State, but that by invading us they start a 700 years war, that we will start mobilising the Irish race from one end of the world to the other, that we will use our immense spiritual empire all over the world to assail them from every quarter we can and that we are prepared to take our chances in the long run. It may take time, it may involve suffering, but by the time they have digested us they will have indigestion, and they will be well advised not to undertake the invasion of this country at all.

Now, in my judgment—and I submit this with respect to the Minister who is a military man—in the existing state of the world that is a far more effective defence for this country than for us to be blustering round and suggesting that we are able to repel an invader fully equipped, because we are not. We have not got the money or the resources to purchase the requisite materials to repel such an invader. I think we are standing on the soundest defence that any small nation could have if we are able to say to an invader: “If you want to invade this country you are going to start a war, not only in Ireland but in every country all over the world where there are Irishmen. It is a war that will be carried on, on the economic front, on the propaganda front, and on every front on which we think we can carry it on. We have demonstrated very cogently before the world our ability [800] to carry on such a war against a most powerful military Power located 30 miles away. If any Power, 500 or 600 miles away tries the same game they will find it much more difficult and even less profitable, if that were possible.”

A second situation arises. If we take up that position I believe that we are in a very strong position, because we immediately discharge ourselves from the obligation of spending countless millions on futile defences, because the best that we could afford would be futile in the face of a wealthy nation's attack. We deliver ourselves from the deplorable obligation of ever having to ask our people to choose between guns and butter. We simply turn to the big guns and we say: “We decline to enter that race; it is a race we cannot win; it is a race we do not want to win, and it is a race we do not have to win, because we can fight any war that starts, and we will last longer than the other fellow in the heel of the hunt.” But then a second consideration arises. The Prime Minister has said here, and said, I think, with the approval of all sides of the House, that this territory will not be used as a jumping-off ground for attack on Great Britain. He said that very explicitly. That undertaking has been very warmly received in Great Britain. It made a great impression in Great Britain and I have no doubt contributed to the improved feelings that exist between the two countries at present.

Suppose Great Britain comes to us and says: “While we admit that your best defence is to fix the world with notice that anyone who invades your territory embarks on a 700 years war, that is not going to be convenient for us. If one of our potential enemies is waging that 700 years war on you, we shall feel the breeze through our back-door and we do not want to feel that breeze. We do not want any powerful nation to get a foothold in your territory.” Our reply, it seems to me, should be: “Neither do we, but we cannot stop them. We should get them out sooner or later, but we cannot stop them coming in.” Great Britain then says: “Well, we want you to stop them. We want you not only to concern yourselves with the [801] ultimate vindication of your own sovereignty, but we want you to concern yourself with the interior protection of our flank. It would greatly jeopardise that flank of ours to have this foreign enemy on your territory.”

I think we are entitled to say to Great Britain in these circumstances: “We have made our plans for defence. We have considered our resources. We have made up our minds that the only effective way to defend our territory is by a combination of arms, propaganda, economic pressure and a mobilisation of the Irish race throughout the world. You want for your protection an entirely different line of defence, but it is for your protection, and if you ask us to equip an immensely expensive armed machine, immensely expensive gun emplacements, immense stores of ammunition, in fact, an adequate force to repel an invasion until such time as your army can come to our aid and drive the invader out, then you ought to pay for it. That is a scheme of defence primarily concerned with your safety and not with ours. We are quite prepared to help you in pursuance of the Prime Minister's undertaking that this country will not be used for a jumping-off ground. We are quite prepared to help. We are quite prepared to enter into some kind of negotiations with you but we are not prepared to authorise you to come in and take over the defence of this country under any circumstances, any more than France would permit you to come in and take over the defence of her country. But, if you say to us, `In addition to the plans you have in mind for the protection of your territory, we want you to equip yourselves to repel an invader, we want you to create an Irish Army and Irish bases from which to conduct resistance to a foreign invader, our reply is, `We are quite prepared to do it, but you must pay for it because that part of the defence would be primarily designed for your protection and if that part of the defence is an essential part of any joint plan that may emerge from consultations between your general staff and our general staff, then, while we are quite prepared to finance the expense of the [802] defence that our general staff think requisite for the protection of our territory; if there are further measures that the joint general staffs consider requisite for the protection of your territory, albeit that they are to be taken by the Irish Army and Irish Government and that their maintenance and development are to be an Irish responsibility, if they are to be done for your protection then you ought to pay for them.' ”

I put it to the Minister that that is not a chiselling or mean or unreasonable attitude for this country to take up. Our obligation is to defend our own territory. I think, very wisely, we realise that it is not in the interest of this country, nor in the interest of democracy, nor in the interest of individual liberty anywhere in the world, to see Great Britain or the Commonwealth of Nations destroyed. I say quite definitely and plainly that the interest of the Commonwealth of Nations is Ireland's interest. I say quite definitely and plainly that the preservation of the sovereignty, independence and integrity of the Commonwealth of Nations is Ireland's interest. But in the joint problems of defence there should be joint responsibility for expense. Each of the sovereign States-members of that Commonwealth has the obligation to defend its own territory. If any one of those States-members turns to a fellow State-members to ask for its aid, then it should be prepared to finance at least part of the cost.

So far I have referred to the defence problem arising out of the possibility of invasion—a remote possibility, not completely remote, not so completely remote as some Deputies might perhaps imagine. But there is another aspect of defence upon which I should like to hear the Minister when he comes to reply. Apart from the actual prospect of invasion, there is the modern technique of demoralising the community by aerial attack, striking at vital points by aerial attack. We are in future going to have in this territory the Rhynana air base, we are going to have the oil refinery in Dublin, we are going to have Ardnacrusha, and we may have one or two [803] other tactical factories of that kind which might become military objectives which a foreign Government at war with Great Britain or at war with this country might be seriously concerned to destroy.

What do we propose to do to meet that? I think we ought to face that problem for ourselves. I would be interested to hear from the Minister what the Government's view is, first, on the cost and feasibility of adequate anti-aircraft defence. I am told of a new gun which the British Government have just evolved and are at present equipping their vital centres with—I think it is called the 3.7— which is a great advance in efficiency on any anti-aircraft gun yet produced. I will be interested to know whether the Minister has entered into negotiations with the British Government in order to secure supplies of that gun for our defence here and if he thinks we will be able to get supplies from the British manufacturers, or a licence to manufacture, if he proposes to establish the munition works here of which he was speaking some months ago. Secondly, I should like to ask the Minister, if we contemplate any expansion of our armed forces at all, whether we should not concentrate on our aerial arms rather than on infantry or land forces.

It is manifest, with our population, that if it becomes a question of mere numbers we cannot compete with any European nation at all. But, if it be a question of courage, daring, and skill, such as is involved in aerial warfare, then I think we can put up as good a show as any of them, and I would be happy to think that our anti-aircraft defences were supported by an adequate air force. After all, if we had a fairly good air force in this country, we could advance to meet any invading fleet of bombers that was advancing upon our territory and put up a very good show; put up so good a show that we might make it extremely difficult for any advancing air fleet, which had to cross Great Britain to reach this country at all. If, having treaded its way over the British defences, it had to meet a really [804] formidable Irish air fleet over our own coast, I think we might reasonably hope to repel that type of aggressor who was trying to violate the integrity of our territory.

I do not think that can be done overnight, but if we plan to do it ultimately, the sooner we put our hand to the task the better. Aeroplanes take time to get, but difficult as it is to get supplies of aeroplanes, it is infinitely more difficult to train pilots. I would be interested to hear the Minister's expert view, but I should imagine that the really vital difficulty about building up an air force is not so much getting machines as training the men and having supplies of well-trained pilots. That will certainly take time, but I am sure the material is there, and if we approach it in the same way as the British Government has done and make it an attractive profession which would draw the best type of men, I do not see why we should not have as good an air force here, in proportion to our resources, as any country in the world.

There is one small matter and another matter of wider import to which I should like to refer before concluding. How much importance should we attach to the appearance of troops who are not on formal parade? All of us are jealous of the high reputation of the National Army. All of us would be anxious that the Volunteers would present a creditable and dignified appearance. No one expects men to come off manoeuvres as neat as a pin; no army could, and they probably would not have done their duty at manoeuvres if they did.

But, ordinarily, when troops on the move, not at manoeuvres, but on the move from barracks to barracks, are walking in uniform, they are generally appearing as members of the State forces. Is it a desideratum that their appearance should be as neat and tidy as one would expect the appearance of a member of the Gárda Síochána to be? I suggest that it is, and I would be interested to hear from the Minister if, in his judgment, the troops and the Volunteers recently have come up to his expectations in regard to that matter.

[805] I know, and am glad to say, that one does meet fellows wearing both uniforms who arrest one's attention by their admirable appearance, and I am sorry to say that the way they look causes one sometimes to think how much better others might look if they took as much care of their external appearance as these fellows do. It may be that the Minister will reply that that is not a primary consideration in the Army: that the men in the Army have more to think of than keeping themselves as neat as pins. But I think it does matter. I think that from the general point of view of morale and discipline it must help them. I admit that I know little of the internal affairs of an army. On that matter, the Minister is qualified to speak where I am only fit to ask the questions.

The last thing I am interested to hear the Minister on is this: if we are to turn our backs, as I think we must turn our backs, definitely on the proposal to build up a vast army in this country simply because we could not pay it, maintain it or equip it, should we not concentrate on building up an immensely efficient army of small units which would excel in their particular sphere. If we are to do that, can we afford to dispense with some of the officers who have helped to build that army up, hold it together and establish its morale during the difficult years through which we have passed? I would very much like to see our army of the future built up into a small efficient organisation, consisting of a number of units, each one specialising in its own particular sphere—there are now so many spheres in ordinary army life—and each one being the very best of its kind. I think that would be an ambition worthy of the country. I think that is the kind of army of which we might be legitimately proud. We can never stage military reviews like Berlin, Rome or Moscow, and I do not think that we want to. I do not think that we should be proud to be able to do so, but I do think it would be something of which we might be legitimately proud if we had a comparatively small body of technicians who would be equal to any military problems that might be propounded to [806] them, and from whom could be drawn a general staff second to none in Europe. That would take time, and involve some difficulty in giving them the kind of training requisite to reach that degree of efficiency. But, unless we set some objective before us, we will get nowhere at all. We will simply be running round in circles and wasting our time.

I would be interested if the Minister could tell us what exactly he envisages as the ideal towards which the Irish Army should aim. My ideal would be to see a series of small units, the best of their kind in the world, concentrating on the technical sides of military science, and proving themselves to be a body from which a general staff might be drawn that might compare favourably with the general staff of any army in the world. I do not think that is impossible. In fact, I think it is quite possible if we put our minds to it. That is the road along which, I think, we should travel, definitely rejecting as technically and politically unsound all “ballyhoo” and “hullabaloo” about building up a mighty defence force in this country calculated to repel all-comers. That should not be the line of country that we should travel. If, as a result of consultation, it becomes desirable to meet the threat of invasion by forces adequate to repel it until such time as our allies are in a position to throw irresistible assistance into the field, then our allies should be consulted as to what they are prepared to do to foot the bill. If that is not the plan, then we should turn our back on that kind of thing altogether, realising our impotence to resist violence by violence in the existing state of the world, and take refuge in the absolute safety that we ultimately have by our record as being able to carry on a war of independence for ever, if that were necessary, but, in fact, to the point of exhaustion of anybody who attempts to conquer this country.

Mr. Brasier rose.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Chair deprecates the use of the designation [807]“Prime Minister” in debate. Article 28 of the Constitution, Section 5, sub-section (1º), runs:—

“The Head of the Government, or Prime Minister, shall be called, and is in this Constitution referred to as, the Taoiseach.”

Throughout the rest of the Constitution, the Head of the Government is so styled. In accordance with that Article Standing Orders were considered at a meeting of the Committee of Procedure and Privileges. The Standing Orders were amended, submitted to, and approved of by the House. Taking a few examples at random, Deputies will find in Standing Orders Nos. 16, 22 and 81 that the Head of the Government is referred to as the Taoiseach.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I wish to add my voice to the appeal made by Deputy Hurley to the Minister for consideration for those sections of the civilian population now disemployed by the change over. The Deputy referred to Crosshaven, at the extreme end of the constituency which we both represent. Fort Camden and Fort Carlisle have now been taken over. It was the procedure with the British when they held these forts to carry on work of very considerable importance. They carried on works of maintenance on which large numbers of the civilian population on the mainland were employed. As a result of the change over, these people are now very seriously affected, apart altogether from the loss of the very considerable sums of money which used to be spent by the officers of the British forces in Cobh and other places abutting on the forts. That represents a considerable loss. If the Minister is to disregard the position in which these people, already severely hit, have been placed, their position, of course, will become very much worse. A number of widows and other members of the civilian population are seriously affected. It is urgent that consideration be given to their position.

I should also say that there is a very well-equipped hospital on the island, and that up to the time of the change over skilled medical services [808] were provided. I would like to know from the Minister if it is the intention to maintain that hospital. If there is to be a considerable number of the national forces stationed there, then I think this well-equipped hospital should be maintained. I would also like to know if it is the intention of the Minister to spend money on the upkeep of works of maintenance at the forts. The forts must be considered, I suppose, as a national asset from the point of view of defence. It would be advisable, I think, to keep them in a state of repair. One of the things I should also like to know is if our Army authorities have acquired the steamers and other equipment necessary for carrying on communication with the mainland or if they will have to provide new equipment if the British remove the equipment that was there. The provision of such equipment would involve considerable expenditure and it would be interesting to know whether the expensive equipment there has been acquired by the Defence Department.

The Taoiseach, in his speech, described our relations with Great Britain. Although his references were very vague, I hope for the best, having regard to the cordial send-off to the British Troops when the No. 2 Army Band played the British national anthem. These are courtesies which one section of a brave people pay to a section of another brave people, and it indicates cordial relations. I sincerely hope that these cordial relations will be maintained and that the fears of the Taoiseach—that we would have a dispute with Great Britain and that we might have to contemplate the defence of our shores against a British invasion—will not be realised. In the event of our having to face a foreign Power, the co-operation of Britain would, I take it, be assumed by this country. It is probable that some division of the expenses would have to be arranged in such an event. I take it that this division would be somewhat on the lines of those in relation to the Great War as laid down in the Act of 1920. The expenses of this country would then be about £18,000,000 a year. I do not think that [809] any of us would feel happy at the invasion of this country by a very large Power if we had not the co-operation of a neighbour with whom we hope to have friendly relations. The Taoiseach left the position in a very vague way, and perhaps the Minister would be more precise. The Army is, as a general rule, looked upon by a large section of the taxpayers as a rather expensive luxury. In time of war, its numbers would probably have to be considerably increased in the same way as the British regiments were strengthened by the addition of a number of battalions. In any event, we must expect a greatly increased Vote for the Army in future as we are taking responsibility for extra equipment for the ports. We must also, to a certain extent, rule out the possibility of co-operation from Great Britain which we would, undoubtedly, have if they possessed these ports and if they had their gun-boats in our harbours. We do not know what the future of the navy will be in this country, and a little more explicit information would be appreciated by the general public.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  I am very glad that most of the old soldiers of the Republican and National Armies took part in this debate. The debate should be taken very seriously because we are really at a turning point in Irish history. In the past, we had the cry that England's difficulty was Ireland's opportunity. That day has gone. Britain and Ireland are friends and, in the future, England's difficulty will be Ireland's difficulty, so that in our present position we have a grave responsibility. I believe it is the duty of the whole House to combine in putting up a plan of defence so that we shall all be able to move together. We cannot have our defence plans properly defined until Ireland is united. I think that a united effort should be made in the near future— at least before a European war breaks out—to have Ireland a nation once again. I think that the goodwill between Britain and Ireland will bring that about and that we will have an Ireland strong and vigorous, friendly [810] with our neighbour across the water and able to help her in her difficulties, because her difficulties in the future will be our difficulties.

In the past, England behaved brutally to this country, but we would prefer to-day to see England where she is, to seeing Germany, France or Russia there. The safety of these islands—the British Isles and Ireland—depends on definite co-operation and agreement, and I think there is no reason why we should not have that co-operation and agreement. If England goes down, we will certainly go down with her. I should like the Taoiseach to declare openly that he is part and parcel of the British Commonwealth of Nations— that he is out to get what he can out of it, and to give what he can to it. That is the attitude I should like to see him adopt in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy should have raised that matter on the Vote for the Department of External Affairs.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  If we knew where we were, a good deal more could be done. I think we all do agree that we are part and parcel of the Commonwealth, and, that being so, must take our part in Imperial defence. However, Ireland is a poor nation, and is not able to contribute very much to that defence scheme. If we are to share in Imperial defence, it is Britain's duty to give us the money to defend the country—to give us back some of the £400,000,000 which the Taoiseach said she had robbed us of. She should give us at least £50,000,000 of that sum, and thus give us the means of putting our country in a state of defence.

Another thing the country should do is realise what it owes to one man—a man who lies in his grave to-day, the first Commander-in-Chief, General Michael Collins. His name is not heard to-day, although he served the country nobly, faithfully and well. He was the friend of members of the Fianna Fáil Party as he was of us. He died while going on a message of peace to comrades in the country. We have had a civil war since then, but I am glad to [811] say that the bitterness of that war is over. We are united in declaring General Michael Collins our great Commander-in-Chief, and his anniversary should be properly celebrated because of the great work he did for the country. Due respect should be paid to his memory in that way. If we did that, we would be uniting the old Republican Army and encouraging them to serve Ireland as they served her in the past.

I am satisfied that the old Republican Army, or the remand of it in the country to-day, should be consulted on this matter of defence, because we must realise that we are sitting in this House solely by reason of these endeavours and the deeds of these great men. They are to-day a scattered force. Some of them belong to my side and some of them to the other side. Nobody seems to want them, but we should remember that we are sitting here because of their valour. I think they should be brought into a united body and asked to assist in the defence of this country. We have seen that we can agree on several things. Why not agree on giving this remnant the lights which are its due?

With regard to the Army, I think that what is necessary at the head of the Army are seasoned and veteran soldiers. I understand that the Minister has a plan whereby he is going to get rid of the old warriors who have reached the age of 45 or 50 years. That would be the most serious blunder the Minister could make because recruits are useless in wartime. What you want, then, is the seasoned soldier, the man who will stand up to his responsibilities, and, if necessary, die facing his responsibilities. We have in our Army lieutenants and captains, veteran and seasoned soldiers who went through many campaigns in the Republican Army and the National Army, and who did their duty fearlessly and well. When we had a change of Government here, many thought that the Irish Army would be shaken to its foundations, but it was the army of the people, and at the change-over, it stood loyal to the people and they will stand loyal to-morrow. I think it [812] unfair that the Minister should think of changing those men at this stage in our history. I tell him to leave them there and, in addition to bring in more seasoned soldiers, so that he may build up a proud little army that will do credit to itself and will always be loyal to the Government in power. It is a grave injustice that the Minister should put these men out on a small pension at this hour of their lives. They are men who are too old to make a start in private life and their pensions will be small, and, like the old Republican Army, they will be thrown on the scrap-heap. I ask him to keep them on for five or 10 years more until we have built up an army that will defend this country, and I appeal to him to withdraw the order he is about to issue and allow those men to continue to serve their country, as they have served it, faithfully and well.

We have heard a great deal about the ports but, to my mind, they mean nothing. We all know that they are useless for defence, but they are of vital importance to Britain and if Britain wants those ports we will man them, but let her pay for them. The most serious problem in this country in the event of a European war would be the Shannon scheme works. It is the pivot of the entire industry of the country, and one bomb from a Hitler aeroplane could blow those works sky-high and disable every industry depending on them. If we want a proper defence scheme we must first see that the Shannon scheme works are properly defended. Another matter which we must seriously consider is the position of our civil population. I am not satisfied that we have made any headway in the matter of their protection. There is no use in saying that we can keep neutral in the next war. We cannot, because if it suits Hitler to attack England through Ireland, or England to attack Germany through Ireland, that attack will come. To-day you have an imperialist world, as you had in the old Roman days, and mighty nations care not a snap of the finger about small nations.

We are glad to-day to be able to say that we are free after 700 years, but how long are we going to be free? [813] We do not know if we are going to hold our freedom for another 12 months, but while we have our freedom let us make the best use we can of it and devise means for keeping that freedom in the future. The only means of getting our position of freedom properly established is by friendly relations with England, and you will never have those friendly relations and real co-operation until Ireland is united, free and strong, and definitely taking its part in the Commonwealth of Nations. We are in the Commonwealth of Nations, whether we like it or not. We can give something to it and we can also get something from it. I think it a good place to be at present and I say that as an old Republican soldier, because there seems to be no other hope for this country except in a combination of those people who stand for the Cross and Christianity, and you have that in the Commonwealth. You have Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Ireland—all people who are proud to fly the flag of Christianity. We should endeavour to retain that combination, because with out it the Hitlers, the Stalins and the Mussolinis will certainly sweep across Europe and swallow us all. The Minister need not be ashamed to say that he is in the Commonwealth and proud to be in it, and that he will do his part to build it up as a great Christian empire.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Thomas Mullen  Zoom on Thomas Mullen  Listening to this debate yesterday evening, I was struck by a statement made by Deputy O'Higgins in reference to confused ideas. I have listened to speakers from the Front Opposition Benches who have totally disagreed in their ideas as to what should constitute our defences. I have listened to other speakers who would like to turn back the hands of the clock of history to zero hour, to the time when we should buckle on our armour and go out attacking other countries. I listened to another speaker who was more concerned with settling Spanish quarrels than with fighting our battles at home. I think the Taoiseach introduced a note of practical sanity into the debate when he stated that the job in front of the [814] Dáil was to discuss and make practical arrangements for the building up of an efficient defence force. It is my opinion that the most practical work we could do would be to organise our manhood so that it could be most easily converted into a weapon of defence in times of national stress. I have a few practical suggestions to make as to the lines along which this development should take place. In connection with my first suggestion, I want to draw attention again to the fact that Deputy O'Higgins advocated a navy, while Deputy Dillon advocated concentration on our air force. I am in agreement with Deputy Dillon rather than with Deputy O'Higgins on that point. I think it is commonsense to face the fact that an air force in modern days is more important than a navy, and I think the countries which have had very powerful navies are also evidently of the same opinion.

On the technical side of our defence forces, I suggest that such services as air and artillery services should be increased. There should be intensive training in these special services by all ranks, whether officers of the regular Army, the reserve or the Volunteers. I was glad to see that provision is made in the Estimate for an increased Volunteer force, and I think the time is now opportune for an intensive drive towards a Volunteer force which would be worthy of the manhood of our country.

I am afraid, in this connection, we have to recognise that in modern days it is not sufficient to appeal to the patriotic instincts of our youth in order to have them join the armed Volunteer forces. Modern enticements have brought about that state of affairs, and I believe it will be necessary to make that force more attractive. I will come to that point in a moment.

In connection with the actual training of Volunteers I do not think that the present arrangements whereby you have weekly drills and annual training for a fortnight or a month is sufficient to make effective soldiers of the Volunteer force. I think that the leaders of industry in the country and employers in general should be induced to [815] realise that facilities should be granted to the members of their staffs who are in the Volunteer forces. They can, I am sure, realise that the possession of an efficient defence force is the greatest insurance policy which they could have. In addition to that whatever loss they sustain by reason of the absence of these Volunteers during their period of training will be more than compensated for by the increased efficiency of these men when they return to work.

In regard to training, I think it would make for more efficiency if when the annual camps are being established officers who have had intimate acquaintance with Volunteer units, and preferably Volunteer officers themselves who know the personnel of these units, were in charge. The officers certainly should be in these camps, say, for a couple of days before the Volunteer units arrive to make sure that adequate arrangements are made for their reception. I think, further, when Volunteer troops are under canvas, especially in inclement weather—and the weather is very inclement at times—that there should be boarded floors provided. So far as food for the Volunteers is concerned, it is generally good, but I think there could be improved arrangements for the serving of the food. In addition to that a bounty on the most generous scale possible should be granted to the Volunteers.

There is much work that an increased Volunteer force could carry out. The previous speaker, Deputy Giles, touched on the fringe of air-raid precautions. I think the person would be an optimist who would expect immunity for this country, especially for the South-east and eastern parts of the country in the event of a European conflict. I am glad to see that the taking of precautions has been recognised in the Estimates. A sum of £1,000, which, of course, would not be adequate to deal with the problem, is being provided. At all events the existence of the problem has been recognised. The most suitable force for taking charge of anti-air-raid precautions [816] appears to be the Volunteer force because that force is scattered throughout every part of the country. That force can co-operate with other people in carrying on the precautions necessary whether these precautions will be dug-outs or the training of the people to deal with air raids when they occur.

An increased Volunteer force will naturally require an increased number of officers to carry out their training. There are officers being trained in the Volunteer force. There are other officers also. I am aware that the officers in the Reserve have offered their services for the training which goes on at the moment in the Volunteer forces. Many of these units are members of the old Officers Training Corps. These are highly distinguished graduates of our universities. They are efficient soldiers and they are efficient also in the use of the Irish language. They are available and I take it when the question of promotions arises that they will get equal treatment with the other officers.

There may be objections to the cost of an increased force of the type which I suggest. On this question of cost I put it that if even more than the £600,000 which is being debated here on this Vote is required in order to provide an adequate defence force, the House should consider that problem of defence as not one for this generation alone. This generation has done quite a lot and has made many sacrifices in order to achieve the position which we have achieved, a position which we must now guard, not alone for ourselves but for posterity. We will not only maintain the position which we have attained but we will go the rest of the road. I put it that if money is required for that type of expenditure, posterity could fairly be asked to bear their fair share. At any rate whatever capital is expended at the present time on the Defence Forces and especially on increasing the Volunteer forces, will, in my opinion, return generous dividends to this nation. These dividends will be in disciplined youth who will be stronger in body and saner in mind perhaps and will be able to increase production in their [817] ordinary avocations in life. In the next place, they will give us a defence force which will make it decidedly costly for any enemy that may at any time in the future attack us.

Mr. Hughes: Information on James Hughes  Zoom on James Hughes  Listening to the Taoiseach speaking on the defence policy yesterday, one could not help being struck with the air of artificiality, make-belief, hedging and attempting to hide the real conviction in his mind by his talk of the necessity to tackle a defence policy for this country. We got no notion whatever of the Government's policy or plan for the defence of our territory in the light of the new situation that has arisen under the Agreement. One could understand from Deputy Childers' speech that he knew a little about modern European history, particularly the history of the European small nations. But he lacked completely the necessary application to tackle that question in a sound and practical manner. What is the position here? This country since the Treaty seventeen years ago has been protected from outside attack by the British Government, not because of her interest in this country but because of the fact that in order to defend herself she must defend us. I think, independent of our taking over the ports, that that policy is going to continue. In so far as this country is in any danger from outside attack in the future, I think we will have to rely to a very large extent on the protection that the British Government can afford us. Any sensible man must realise that we are not in a position to defend ourselves from any big European power. We lack man-power; we lack national resources; we lack the financial capital to build up sufficient forces to defend this country of ours.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Who is going to attack us, anyway?

Mr. Hughes: Information on James Hughes  Zoom on James Hughes  There is little or no danger of our country being attacked here by a big European Power for the sole purpose of keeping this country as a possession, because no one is going to attempt to take this country so long as Britain remains one of the strongest Powers in Europe. I think [818] that the only danger of attack here would be because of the geographical position of our country in relation to England. As I have said, we will not be attacked by any country merely for the sake of taking this country as a possession, because so long as England is strong enough no other country would attempt to take our country merely for the sake of possessing it. Therefore, the only danger of attack that we may anticipate here would be an attack for the purpose of attacking England. On that account, I say that if any money is to be spent here on defence at least 90 per cent. of that cost ought to be borne by the British Government.

We were told by the Taoiseach that in the Agreement there was no understanding whatever, no undertaking of any sort, nor any commitments as to the equipment of the three ports that had been handed over. Now, I think that behind the mind of the Taoiseach yesterday, all the time, was a definite appreciation that we must have a definite understanding with the British Government with regard to defence, that we must have co-operation in defence with the British Government, and that we must have expert advice. A number of Deputies, in speaking here, have anticipated that those ports that have been taken over during the week are going to be equipped. What purpose can those ports or those forts serve now that they have been taken over if they are equipped? What sort of equipment is going to be put in, and what is the purpose of the equipment? I remember reading a book a couple of years ago by a man who commanded Spike Island during the War. He described the importance of that fort, and I came to realise that it was probably one of the most important forts under the British flag, because it commanded the big shipping and the big trade routes across the Atlantic. There was a tremendous amount of submarine activity on that particular route during the war, off Spike Island, and the British Government maintained that fort for the purpose of sheltering a section of the Navy that operated for the protection of her shipping and [819] trade routes across the Atlantic. Ships were brought in there for refuelling and for minor repairs that were carried out there, and thus these ships were enabled to go to sea again, and thus I realised that these ports were not for the purpose merely of coastal defence, but really for the purpose of sheltering the British Navy, and for the purpose of serving as an operating base for the British Navy.

Now, do we propose to have a navy of our own here, and to use these ports as an operating base, or are we going to have an understanding with the British Government which would allow the British to operate their Navy from those bases? If that is the intention, then I submit that 90 per cent., or even more, of the cost of equipment and maintenance of those forts, ought to be borne by the British Government. What other purpose can these forts serve? If we are not going to have that understanding with the British Government, or if we are not going to have a navy of our own, then I believe that the three ports concerned are absolete. If we are to regard the ports merely from the point of view of coastal defence, they are worthless or useless, and should not be equipped, because I do not see what other purpose they will serve. Even if you were to man them with guns, I do not see how they could have any effect on our shipping. One of these ports might be able to command the seas within, say, a few miles of our coast, but it would certainly not be able to protect us against any submarine menace against shipping connected with this country, and certainly would not protect this country from an attack from outside if an attack is contemplated from outside by a big Power, because, after all, three-fourths of our coast are unprotected, and these particular forts would only command a short distance along the coast. For that reason, I believe that, unless there is a definite understanding and co-operation between the British Government and this country, any money spent on the equipment of these forts would be money wasted.

Now, as I said, the only danger of attack on this country, to my mind, is the danger that we may be made the [820] medium of attack on the British, and the weakest point in British defence is her food lines that stretch across the world, and her most vulnerable point of attack is her food lines. Britain is a big manufacturing country, and she is not able to supply her own requirements in food, and, therefore, has to import annually huge quantities of her food requirements. Hence, in time of war, the importation of food into England is a very serious problem for the British Government, and the necessity for the equipment and maintenance of a powerful Navy can be recognised on that account. That Navy is equipped and maintained largely for the purpose of controlling the food lines of the world. Britain's Navy must protect her food lines if she is to remain supreme. Any Power, then, that succeeds in blockading England and destroying her food supplies, would immediately starve her out and bring about her defeat.

Now, I agree with the policy, or the suggestion, that has been made here to the effect that, if any money is to be spent on defence, it ought to be spent on defence from aerial attack, and I think that where we are open to attack here is through our ports of embarkation—not the three ports that we are talking about now, but ports such as the ports of Dublin, of Cork, and all the other ports from which we export live stock and food to England. I think that, in a time of war in which England might be involved, if there is any attack on England, there would be a corresponding attack on us, because we are a supplier of food to England, and that attack would be made directly in order to paralyse the possibility of this country supplying food to England during the war. If England is involved in a war, it will be to our interest to maintain that supply of food to the British. I think it will be acknowledged that it has been a great asset to this country in the past.

On all sides of this House we have realised the importance of keeping that market. The value of that market would be enhanced and increased during any war in which the British are involved. Hence, I [821] realise that our one vulnerable point, the one place in this country which will be open to immediate attack if England is involved in a war, is our ports, our ports through which we send foodstuffs to England and through which we supply the British market with live stock and other products. They would immediately, I think, be open to an aerial attack by an enemy country. I think if we are going to spend any money on defence the first thing we ought to spend that money on is the defence of our ports, the defence of the ports of Dublin, Cork, Waterford and so on. There ought to be some anti-aircraft guns erected at those ports to defend them from aerial attack. We ought to have better means of defending ourselves from an aerial attack than we have at the present time. We ought to have an improved air force. In that way we are weak, as well as in probably every other branch of defence. We cannot possibly hope to improve our strength in any other line of defence. I believe we can greatly improve our strength in the air, and that it would be quite possible for us, within our financial power and our man power and our resources generally, to stave off an aerial attack. I think money spent in that direction would be money well spent in the interests of the country. I believe that there ought to be definite understanding and co-operation between this country and the British Government as far as the equipment of the ports of Berehaven, Lough Swilly and Cobh, which have been taken over in the last few days, is concerned. I think it would be wild foolishness to think of building up and equipping a navy here. I think from the point of view of the taxpayer in this country it would be money wasted. The burden of taxation on the country at the present time is a very serious one. Due consideration ought to be paid to any money that is going to be spent in the defence of this country. We ought to have expert advice on the matter. We must have the co-operation of the British, and we probably must have their advice as well in regard to any defence policy which we may adopt.

[822]Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I am glad to see that there has been greater provision made for the Volunteer force in the present Estimate, because I consider that the Volunteer force will play a very important part in the future defence of this country, and I think it is the natural line of the Army to develop. I have heard it suggested here that the Volunteer force is politically partisan; it has been suggested in this House that there is nobody a member of the new Volunteers unless he is also a member of Fianna Fáil. Well, I can definitely state that, as far as I know, the Sluagh Committees in the West are comprised of people of all shades of political opinion. The Volunteer force, as far as the West is concerned, has absolutely no political affiliations whatsoever, and is comprised of members with all shades of political opinion. I think the Volunteer force is not large enough at present. I should like to see it spreading. I would even suggest that the Minister go further and establish a younger force. I do not suggest that the Minister should go so far as to establish some of those Hitler Youth Movements or anything like that, but I do suggest that if there were some movements started in co-operation with the schools, whereby the youngsters would get some idea of military training, it would certainly be no burden to them. It would help to develop them physically, and when they came to a certain age they would be eligible for admission to the Volunteer force.

I cannot see wherein lies the logic or the weight of the argument I have heard advanced in this House that because we are a small country we have no business making any attempt to defend ourselves. I cannot see wherein lies the logic of the argument which says: “Scrap your ports, because we are so small any of the great Powers could wipe us out. Scrap your Army, because we are so small it would be absurd for us to try and fight anybody.” If that argument had been used by the people of this country for centuries past there never would have been no I.R.A. force, and we never would have achieved the amount of freedom we have achieved. If the people believed [823] in 1916: “It is ridiculous for us to try to fight the British Empire; the British Empire is too great for us to break,” would they ever have gone out and fought? If the Irish people believed in all those years during which they struggled against that Power that simply because we were so small and weak, and they were so great and had such military strength behind them, we could not fight them, if they had listened to and believed the kind of argument we had here in this House, where would we be still? I suggest that during the last Great War we had a shining example of what small nations can do. We all know of one small nation which held up possibly the greatest military Power on earth for quite a number of days, and I know that military experts believe that that may have been the turning point of the German fortunes, and may have been the cause of Germany losing the Great War. It may be suggested that we have not a lot of man-power or a lot of wealth with which to defend ourselves. It can also be suggested that we have not a big lot of territory to defend. Surely it is our duty and should be the policy of the Army to defend our country as well as possible from all invaders. There have been suggestions here that nobody would attack us except some outside Power trying to get at England. I did not hear any Deputy dealing with the possibility of England coming back here again. It may be suggested that that would never happen. Possibly it might never happen, but I would remind the House that if England were involved in a great war in the morning she might consider coming back here again and stopping us from doing anything we might possibly be doing, or thinking of doing. Is there not as great a possibility of this country being attacked by her, to protect her own interests, as there is of our being attacked from any other side in order to attack England?

I suggest that our Volunteer force should be developed as strongly as possible, and that we in this country should, at all events, make as strong an attempt as lies in our power to [824] render it unprofitable for anybody to try and come in here. If the Government say: “We will not try to re-arm; we will not try to build up our forces,” we are simply inviting invasion from every quarter. It is all very fine to use propaganda, to rely on the fact that we are defenceless and ask all the nations to respect that position, but everybody will realise that, in the past, the guns were much more effective than propaganda. I am sure everybody here will realise that in our age-old struggle it had to come to the guns; propaganda failed in this country. I suggest that propaganda would fail in the morning if we had another war. I suggest to the Minister that he should proceed with the Volunteer force, in particular, and make it as effective an army unit as it can possibly be made.

Mr. Benson: Information on Ernest Edmondson Benson  Zoom on Ernest Edmondson Benson  Deputy Dillon's vision of a 700 years war is very alarming, and I think it must remain a vision, but the aspect on which he turned later is the right aspect, as to what war can be to-day, because we must remember that this country could be very severely dealt with without a single individual ever landing on any part of our territory. With present high-speed bombers and heavy bombs, it is possible to do such damage as to make the country practically a wilderness. Deputy Dillon referred to Rhynana and to the oil refinery, but I am more inclined to agree with Deputy Hughes, that the first objective of any foreign power that desired to attack Great Britain would be the ports in this country. We must remember that in the last war Germany spent considerable time and money on a U-boat campaign in an attempt to starve Great Britain. If, by dropping a few bombs, they could deal with the ports here, so as to prevent any considerable quantity of food being exported to England, that would be very much more effective than the U-boat campaign, and less costly. To my mind one of the difficulties about this Estimate is to discuss it intelligently, because we seem to have so very little knowledge of what the policy of the Government is going to be in these matters. We do not know whether they have provided, or are about to provide suitable anti-aircraft defences [825] for the ports. As far as I am aware we have no knowledge of the Government's policy on the question of mechanisation, a policy which is being carried on in practically every other army in the world. Certain information can be had from the Estimates, which show that some £2,000 is to be spent on the purchase of horses, while £14,000 is allowed for the purchase of armoured cars. There is more in mechanisation than armoured cars. I am not at all sure that we should proceed too far with mechanisation.

If guns are to be used it is probable that horse transport will be as effective as mechanised transport. After all this country has a certain reputation for its horses, and the Army should do everything possible to maintain that reputation. The Army jumping team is doing its part. Deputy Dillon referred to the appearance of the troops when off duty. I wish to refer to the appearance of the troops at a Castle ceremony some two or three weeks ago. I was very impressed by the appearance of the few horses that were there, but two or three of them did not seem suitable. I hope there will be an increase of ceremonial displays. The position has been very drab in that respect, and there is plenty of room for such displays. If there is to be an increase in ceremonial displays, steps must be taken to train the cavalry horses, so that they will become accustomed to noise, shouting and flag-waving, as some of them on that occasion were extremely restless.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am not quite clear what we have to defend ourselves against from the military point of view, but I am quite clear that the first thing we ought to make some attempt at defending is our intelligence. There is no use in frightening the lives out of people in an impoverished country, where the position is already bad enough, by making us convince ourselves that we can be half blown out of the sea by a foreign fleet, or that we can be half bombarded out of the country by aeroplanes bombing the City of Dublin and other places. I take the other extreme, [826] whether as a matter of tactics or not, and I say that I do not believe this country runs any danger of being bombarded by a foreign fleet, and I do not believe the City of Dublin runs any danger of being bombed by foreign aeroplanes. If that is pure, dangerous ignorance on my part, I submit that, as we are paying £1,700,000 yearly for the Army at the present time, and promising to pay more for it, we ought to get, at least, some return for that £1,700,000 and, the first thing we ought to receive is information. From persons whom we may regard as the best technically informed people to give advice, we ought to receive it, as to what our dangers are. We have no such information at present.

If the Army is to be congratulated on anything or, if we, as a nation, are to be congratulated on anything in connection with the Army, it is on the fact that the men in the Army and their officers have kept their morale and their intelligence during the last few years, because the Army has been prevented being trained, and has been prevented being equipped and, so far as the higher officer ranks are concerned, they have been prevented thinking professionally, and educating themselves in the way that they ought to be educated, by the political susceptibilities of the present Government.

I do not think anyone would claim that a real defence staff has been developed in this country. The reasons for that go back a certain number of years and we do not want to place the blame anywhere but, as far as this House is concerned, we get as little information as to what our defence problems are as we get, say, on the question of our foreign affairs problems.

I think the first thing we want in the new circumstances—and we can all welcome the new circumstances—is to be assured that general officers are being developed in the Army. There is no use talking about your Volunteer scheme. There is no use in saying: “Thanks be to God, we are spending more money on our air services.” There is no use saying: “Thanks be [827] to God we have recovered the forts, and can now defend the freedom of this country.” All these are simply costly toys, unless we have in this country men who are soldiers of general rank who are capable of advising us as to what our problems are and capable of using whatever resources we are able to gather together to meet any of these dangers when they arise. I would almost like to confine myself on this Estimate to pleading with the House not to believe that you have any defence dangers, but to realise that you are paying £1,700,000 for being advised as to possible dangers and the means of meeting them.

In a country where the consumption of bread is going down and men and women are flying the country and unemployment is as rife as it is, any responsible member of an Irish Parliament should halt for a moment before in these circumstances he rushes blindly into an expression of gratitude to the Lord that we are spending more money on our defence problems. Let us find out what is worthy of defence in this country, what we are defending this country for; then what we are defending it against. I sympathise with the Minister in the problem he has in front of him, but I do not think that the Minister should be satisfied to face his problems by simply saying he is going to spend more money. It is all very well to say the citizens of Dublin would like to be protected from attack by air, that we would like to get instructions as to what we are to do if there is an air attack on this country. The Minister may feel he would be blamed if in a year or two's time anything went wrong and there was no preparedness. I do not think anybody is going to blame the Minister, and the only thing that in my opinion he could be blamed for is that he would go along spending increasing amounts of money on an army that was not facing its real problems and, therefore, was not either making any arrangements for defence against attack or was simply wasting and frittering away the country's money at a time when it could be used for other things.

Some Deputy has suggested that we [828] want more discipline, and that the Volunteer scheme would be a fine place for disciplining our people. I do not want to criticise the Volunteer scheme, but I do say it is no addition to our military strength. It might perhaps be an addition to our military strength if it had direction and guidance, but I do not think it has that at the present time, and I think the absence of that is reflected in the very small percentage of the Volunteers who actually come up for their training. I do not think that the solution of either the disciplining of our people or the adding to our military manhood strength lies in the Volunteer scheme, but I do not think it is worth discussing until we know what our military problems are. If our people want to be disciplined, and I agree a little of it would do a lot of good, instead of spending additional money on the Army to give our men the discipline, I would spend additional money on increasing the staff of primary teachers in the country, many of whom, particularly in the cities, are smothered even in their educational efforts under classes of an enormous size that would not be tolerated in any other country. I would use some of the money to increase the teaching staffs, and give us a chance of getting a sense of discipline in the place where it best can be given, and that is in our schools. It is wasteful and unproductive, and it is a cure rather than a prevention to be looking for the creation of a disciplined nation by bringing our people into the Army.

I do not think, when our military problems are looked at by people qualified to look at them and qualified to look at them without any political bias, but simply in a detached and professional way, that our defence problems are going to be great, and I do not think the expenditure that is necessary for our Army need or should be increased. I feel, in fact, that not being able to provide an odd war to give our people something in return for their expenditure on the Army, the people in this country will look rather askance at a continuation of the present expenditure on the Army without some greater understanding of what the Army is going to contribute to this country in peace time. It is [829] when you compare the amount of money that is spent on the Guards and the daily services that are rendered by the Guards, with the amount of money that is spent on the Army, and the small contact that the Army has with the national life, that that question is definitely going to arise. When our people really know what their defence problems are, they may consider that we are spending too much on the Army. That danger is likely to arise. I think it is very necessary that the prestige of the Army should be saved. It is absolutely necessary as a national institution, but it stands out pre-eminently as a national institution that could contribute something to the intellectual and the cultural life of the country and the Army itself because of the number of educated and disciplined men who man the officers' ranks, and the amount of leisure they necessarily have.

The machinery of the Army, if it is going to be the real machinery for gathering the strength of the nation together, cannot be as much out of touch with the life of the people as the Army is to-day. There are many ways in which in the past it was attempted to keep the Army in touch with both the ordinary life of the people and the cultural development of the people. The Irish-speaking battalion was a thing that it was thought might be used to contribute to the rapidly growing use of the Irish language in the normal daily life of the people. I do not believe the Irish-speaking battalion has ever been a battalion in the real sense. We have never had a report as to how it is recruited or what its position in the Army is or whether it is in fact a real contribution to the use of Irish in the living everyday way.

There was a time when an attempt was made to have the Army School of Music effect musical development in the country, but the Army School of Music is no longer a school of music. It is a band. There are a certain number of bands in the country, but any idea of their making any definite contribution to increased appreciation of music in the country has gone by the board. There have been developments of one kind or another that [830] have been choked off or have choked themselves off or have failed. The Minister has done something to develop the physical culture side of things in the Army, but physical culture developed in the Army alone is not going to do anything for the country generally. What we do want to have is a contribution made by the Army so that it will send properly instructed physical culture men to our schools. When the primary programme conference sat in 1925, one of the things pointed out was that there was a rather good and thorough medical inspection beginning in the country. But it was very little use to take adenoids, teeth and tonsils out of children to a given age if something was not done through the regular machinery of school life to set these children up. One or two attempts were made in the past to set up physical culture schools, such as were set up through the Carnegie Institute in Leeds, but nothing has materialised in any way, and in ordinary circumstances the country would look to the Army to provide such a machinery of instructors as would enable physical instruction of a sound kind to impress itself on the primary schools system. It is there it is badly wanted. The secondary schools are doing something. The Army engineering and medical services are away entirely to themselves.

The point I should like to make here is that no case at all is made in a technical, a professional or really convincing way that this country has any defence problem worth the expenditure of £1,700,000 a year. There were reasons why in the past we did not get full and complete advice on what our problems were. That time has passed. It was understood there were six or eight positions in the Army that might be filled by men who might be regarded as capable of attaining general rank. It was suggested there should be a periodical rotation of the men occupying these ranks, the positions going from one to the other. Unhappily, again, for particular reasons the plan for changing the Chief of Staff and the members of the Defence Council [831] every three years in a rotational way was never carried out. There is in the defence scheme an arrangement for having an Inspector-General who, for the time being, would be a designate Commander-in-Chief, and that position has been let fall into abeyance. It is not occupied at all.

I would strongly recommend to the Minister the facing of the question of how and where his general officers are going to be trained, and in what way they are going to be induced, after the passage of so many years, to regard themselves as people on whom this Parliament relies for the last word in technical advice. I say that is our main defence problem at the present time and, if that problem is not faced, then we are only toying with money and wasting money by spending even the amount of money we are spending at present on maintaining an Army.

Mr. Costello: Information on John Aloysius Costello  Zoom on John Aloysius Costello  I will not keep the House very long. I am only impelled to make some observations on this Estimate by the remarks that fell from Deputy Childers last night. It appeared to me, listening to this debate, that it was being carried on very largely in an unreal atmosphere and that that unreality arose from what Deputy Mulcahy has called the political susceptibilities of the Minister, and also from the fact that we were very largely discussing theoretical matters of constitutional law and the constitutional position. The high light of unreality was given to the debate by Deputy Childers' speech. The more experience I have of political life, the more I am convinced that the ordinary people will believe anything, and it is in case anybody might believe the remarks thrown out by Deputy Childers last night that I propose to make some observations on the matters he referred to.

As I understood Deputy Childers, he made the point that, by reason of the recent taking over of the forts under the London Agreement, we had acquired some sort of an additional characteristic as a small nation which rendered us less susceptible to attack from big nations than we were before the taking over of these forts. That particular type of argument was rather [832] of the debating society type, and more or less of an academic description. In my opinion, as a realist, there are only two types of small nations. Deputy Childers seemed to think there were several types of small nations and, according to whichever category you happened to fit into, in international law, you were more or less immune from attack or more and more susceptible to attack from the large nation. He appeared to me to suggest that because we had acquired some additional measures of outward sovereignty, we had therefore come within some, category of a small nation which rendered us less liable to attack. I cannot find in international law or practice, or in the facts of life, anything to justify such a contention.

There are only two types of small nations from the point of view of international law and from the point of view of war. In one respect, it is such a small nation that it is not worth while for the big nation to attack it. In the other respect, because of the existing circumstances it might be well worth while for the big nation to attack the small one. So far as we are concerned, we may fall into one or other of the categories. For instance, it may be well worth while for some nation at war with Britain to say: “We recognise the wording of the Irish Constitution, that they are entitled to remain neutral and they cannot engage in a war without the consent of Dáil Éireann.” If that occurs, it will occur because it happens to suit the cards of the big nation that is attacking the Commonwealth of Nations. On the other hand, if it suits any big nation that is making war on the British Empire or the Commonwealth of Nations to attack us, they may say that they are not obliged to consider our constitutional position; that no matter what is in our Constitution we are part of the Commonwealth of Nations and, therefore, we must be regarded as at war. Then they will attack us and bomb us from the air and sea and land, if it suits them.

We have to face that position when we are considering the question of the defence of this country. We have to [833] face the position that we are going to be attacked if it suits some big nation to attack us, and we are not to be attacked if it does not suit them. No amount of waving our constitutional provisions or talking about the type of sovereignty we have is going to prevent us being attacked if a big nation thinks it is expedient to attack us. If we were seriously to consider Deputy Childers' extraordinary observation, we must visualise a preliminary sort of hearing by constitutional jurists, who would consider the Treaty of 1921 and the present constitutional provisions, and we could make the argument that was made, and that is in the records of the Government, that on the construction of the Treaty itself once this country decided to take over its own coastal defence the provisions in the Annexe to the Treaty no longer become operative and they are entitled to take over these forts. It could be said: “We have these forts now and, therefore, you have to recognise that we have some sort of sovereignty and, therefore, do not attack us, because we are a particular type of small nation.” Visualising the facts as they exist to-day, such a situation is absurd.

I think that is the first consideration that we have got to bear in mind when we are considering problems of defence, that we are going to be attacked if it suits a stronger country to attack us, and that we shall not be attacked if it does not suit such a country to attack us. If a country wants to attack us, it will find ample reasons for doing so, and if it does not suit it to attack us, it will find equally cogent reasons for not attacking us. It may decide, as has been urged here, that we are a sovereign and independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and that therefore we should not be attacked. On the other hand, if it is expedient for a country to attack us— and expediency rules in war—we are going to be attacked.

The second consideration, in my view, is the fact that we are not able adequately to defend this country by reason of the expense necessarily involved in equipping the country with [834] modern armaments. We simply cannot complete against the big nations, who are arming themselves with all sort of engines of war, and expending colossal sums of money in preparing for defence or in preparing for offence, as the case may be. The taxpayers of this country cannot bear very much more taxation than they have to bear at the present moment. The taxation that would be necessary to equip this country with any sort of a defence machine whatever would be beyond the capacity of the Irish taxpayer to bear. The real fact of the matter is that, just as Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are dependent on the British taxpayer to provide the money to defend them, in the last resort that is our position. We are, as Nature put us, close up beside England. I think the Prime Minister himself has said very frequently that England, in order to defend herself, must defend us. We have got to take advantage of that position, and if we are to co-operate at all, we should co-operate in a measure of defence best suited for our purposes. I believe myself that is the policy of the present Government, that we are going to co-operate with the other nations of the Commonwealth in the matter of defence. I think that that is the realistic view of the situation, and that the Government, if they were not so afraid of the peculiar electorate we have in this country, would frankly say so. That they have been converted to that policy I am convinced.

The facts of the situation are perfectly clear, and while we may have a certain sympathy with them from a political point of view, one cannot see the force of the arguments that there is a theoretical right to remain neutral, or that that right will save us from attack if England happens to be attacked. If Britain is at war with another country, we shall want to supply food to Britain, and we cannot remain neutral in that event for very long. We can, of course, if we like, remain theoretically neutral, but we are going to have our ships bombed and our harbours attacked. We have not sufficient resources to enable us to put up an adequate defence against these attacks. We have got to face the [835] practicalities of the situation, the fact that we are going to be attacked if it suits another country to attack us, that our resources are small, that we cannot afford to equip ourselves for modern warfare, and that therefore we shall have to depend on some nation which has a common defence policy with us, to assist us.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  I want to ask the Minister one or two questions before he replies. A considerable amount has been said about the cups and prizes won by the jumping team abroad. I should be glad if the Minister would tell us how many cups have been won and, secondly, the amount of stake money which has been won.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  One would think from Deputy Costello's speech that somebody has suggested that we are in a position to beat the world. His solution for our not being in a position to beat the world militarily, I suppose, is the same as that offered by a number of other Opposition speakers, that we should have some sort of offensive and defensive alliance with the British Government. Now, I do not propose to go into the whole matter of external relations. That was debated on the Vote for External Affairs. Somebody, however, said that there was one natural strategic unit for defence in Great Britain and Ireland. Well, I think there is one very much more natural strategic unit for defence and that is the whole of this country and until we get to the position when that military strategic unit is also a politically free unit we cannot exert the full strength of our people, either for our own defence or for the defence of any interests we may have in common with any other people.

As I said, I am not going to debate external relations at all. My duty as Minister for Defence is to try to make the best possible use of the money which the Dáil gives me in order to see that there will be as effective a military force as possible to carry out any scheme of defence the Dáil imposes upon it from time to time. The attitude of the Dáil will change from year to year, as Governments [836] will change from year to year, on the question as to what is the most important military situation that is likely to arise. As far as I can see, there are three possible contingencies against which the Army should provide. I put them in a certain order. Anybody else can put them in whatever order he pleases. First of all, I think the Army should use the money that the Dáil gives it in order to put its best foot forward in case the Dáil should call upon it to defend the neutrality of this portion of the country. It should also put itself in a position to put its best foot forward in case the Dáil should call upon it to co-operate with some other country, say with England, in the defence of common interests. It should also be prepared in another contingency. In case our near neighbour attempted to attack us, it should be in a position, or should try to put itself in a position to put up as good a resistance as possible. Those are the three contingencies for which the Army should be prepared, and for the number of years I have been in charge of it I have done my utmost to try and utilise every penny we got from the Dáil in order to make the Army an effective military force, as effective as possible for the carrying out of any policy the Dáil might impose upon it in that regard.

General Mulcahy spoke as to the advisability of having a good sound training among the higher Army staff officers. I think that is being done. For the last seven or eight years, since the Military College was established, practically every senior military officer has gone through the staff college. A very big number of the junior officers have also gone through it. That college is carried on by men who studied in foreign staff colleges and, as far as I am advised at any rate, officers get as good a training in our own staff college as they get in any other country in the world. As well as our own staff colleges, our own military colleges, Deputies will see even in the Estimate this year, that there is a certain amount of money allotted for officers going abroad for courses. Every year for the last six years at any rate, a certain number of officers have gone abroad. This [837] year some of them are already abroad and others are going abroad in the near future. Every effort is being made to ensure that, in the unfortunate event of the Army being called out on active service, it will be controlled by officers who know their job. I think that we need not have any inferiority complex about the Army at all. For its size and equipment, if it were called out, I think it would give as good an account of itself as any similarly trained or equipped army in the world. It is not very big, but it can be bigger.

A number of Deputies put forward various views as to what branch of the Army we should concentrate upon. Deputy O'Higgins thought we were foolish not to have a navy, and others thought we should concentrate upon the Air Corps. Personally, I vote for the Air Corps. This year, even in the normal Estimate, we have a certain amount extra for the Air Corps. Over a number of years we have been trying to get a number of officers trained through our instructors in case we decided to expand the Air Corps. We are in the position to-day that, if we decided to expand the Air Force five or six or ten-fold, we have a nucleus of highly-trained officers who will be able to instruct the pilots required. We can pay more attention to that part of the matter when the Supplementary Estimate is being considered. But I can say this, that it is quite possible that a very big proportion of the £600,000 will be spent on the development both of the Air Corps and of anti-aircraft defence.

Deputy O'Higgins also alluded to the retiring ages fixed for officers of the Army. He painted the lily, as he said, and, as far as I remember, laid it on pretty thick about the disastrous consequence that were going to follow the application of the retiring ages. We had to draw the line somewhere. It is true, as he said, that practically all the Army officers, with the exception of those who came in during the last few years, are about the same age, and if no steps were taken to retire them, according to rank and in rotation, we would reach a situation in five or ten years when they would all be [838] elderly. Something had to be done in order to make way for young men coming along. It is just as true of this country as of any other country that a big number of officers in the junior ranks could not find vacancies in the higher ranks. That obtains in England and in every country in the world, except where you have a very rapidly expanding Army during a time of war or of active preparation for war. We found ourselves in the position, as I say, that all the Army officers were growing old together and that, if we did not take steps to make room for young men, they would all be elderly men and not suitable to give an active lead to an army in the field.

Before these retiring ages were brought into force, I got several lists prepared showing the operation of the retiring ages on the various ranks in order to see how it was going to affect all the officers and at what point there would be new blood coming into the lower ranks. After every consideration was given to this problem it was decided that the retiring ages decided upon were the best we could do in the interests of the Army and in the interests of providing this country with as effective a defence force as was possible with the money that the Dáil provided. I do not think that the retiring age terms can be called harsh, and I have not the slightest doubt that Deputy O'Higgins knows they are more favourable than the terms suggested six or seven years ago—the terms that were agreed upon at that time. They are not princely, but they are fair, having regard to the general situation in the country and the average standard of income of the country. Deputy Norton joined Deputy O'Higgins in criticising these retiring age terms and said that we were doing something frightfully harsh with the men whom we were retiring. I wish to goodness we could retire a lot of people in other walks of life on £4 or £5 a week when they come to 45 years of age. I think it would not be bad at all.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  Ministers, for instance.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Even Ministers—it might not be a bad idea. We certainly could [839] do with retiring a lot of Deputies long before that time.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  If you got the chance.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Even at double the pension, it would pay the country sometimes. I do not think that, having regard to the general economy of the country and the standard of life of its people, we are doing any hardship to the officers whom we propose to retire at 48, 50, 54 years of age, and so on, according to rank, on the pensions outlined. That is not to say that the retiring pay is princely or anything like that, but, having regard to the general standard of life in the community, I think it is fair and it is much more favourable to them than the scheme which I found when I took over the Defence Department.

Deputy Norton also alluded to the marriage quarters and I think also the marriage rates. Deputy Norton gave the impression that I was the greatest rack-renting landlord in the country in my capacity as Minister for Defence. He said that we were charging 10/6 a week for three rooms. But the 10/6 a week is not for three rooms; it is for three rooms with light, fuel, furniture, repairs and everything included, and a plot as well. Back in 1929 there was an examination of the problem as to whether the 5/3 per week that was charged for these facilities was sufficient. A committee went into the whole matter, and it decided that the economic price to charge for the facilities that were being given was 10/6—that is for a free house, free fuel, free furniture, free light and free water. If we want to put our married soldiers in a better position, I think the honest way would be not to go back to the 5/3 per week, but to increase the marriage allowance. It must be realised that for this 10/6 they are getting good value for their money, very much better value than the vast majority of the people get in regard to rent, fuel or heat.

That brings me to the question of the marriage allowance. Up until very recently the marriage allowance here was more favourable than the marriage allowance given to British soldiers across the water. I am [840] quoting the British Army because I have the figures and because it is always held up to us as an organisation that is very generous to its members. But up until quite recently, until the British Army failed to get recruits, and had to go out and increase pay and allowances all round, our marriage allowance here was more favourable, and even to-day, after the British Army authorities in an effort to get recruits have increased their pay and allowances very much beyond what they were, in certain respects our marriage allowances are better than the British. The British, for instance, only give an allowance in respect of four children. If there are more than four children in a soldier's family no allowance is payable for the number above four. We make no differentiation. If there are more than four children in a family we continue to make the allowance in respect of the number above four. Again, while the marriage allowance is not princely, I think that having regard to the general standard of life for artisans or other skilled men throughout the country, by comparison our standard of marriage allowance is not bad. I wish we could say that the same thing applied to other people who are working for their living throughout the country. As regards our marriage allowance, a soldier, when he gets married, gets 1/- per day for his wife; he gets 1/- per day for the first child; 6d. a day for the second child; 3d. per day for the third child, and 3d. per day for every other child that may be in the family. They are not the sort of allowances that a millionaire would make to his son on his marriage. I wish to goodness that we had as good marriage allowances for a lot of the farm workers and other workers throughout the country. I think that, in our circumstances, they are far from bad. These were the two points that Deputy Norton spoke on.

Deputy Gorey says that we cannot provide an adequate defence against Germany, France, Italy and all the rest of them. I agree with him, but we can, within our resources, in my opinion, provide a defence that will make any of those countries hesitate [841] before attacking us if they are engaged in attacking anybody else. The last straw breaks the camel's back, they say. We can, without any undue burden on the country, on the standard of life, on education or anything else, provide, in my opinion, such finances for the Army that, If properly used, they will provide the country with an Army which will make anyone hesitate about attacking us if they are in trouble with anybody else.

Deputy Hurley referred to the maintenance staff in Cobh and in the ports there. Deputy Brasier and Deputy Corry also alluded to that. The position is that we are keeping, as far as we can, as many of the Irishmen who were there as we require. We have already employed 67 men who were formerly employees of the British. If any vacancies arise, then the men alluded to by Deputy Corry will have their cases considered.

Deputy Childers said that the new Agreement, and particularly the abolition of Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty had created a new defence situation for this country. Notwithstanding what was said by Deputy Costello, I agree with Deputy Childers. The abolition of Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty, and the getting back of the possession of our ports, have created an absolutely new situation altogether. Up until the present time the whole defence situation was a nightmare to the Minister for Defence and, in general, to the staff as regards making any defence plans, in view of the fact that the British might utilise their legal rights to demand any portion of our country. The abolition of these two Articles, and the getting back of our ports, leave us in a position to plan as to what we are going to do in regard to the Twenty-Six Counties at any rate.

Deputy Linehan alluded to air-raid precautions. This was a matter that was also referred to by a number of other Deputies. He asked, in reference to the £1,000 for air-raid precautions, as to what was actually being done. Up to the present what we have been doing is to try and get a staff trained that will be able to handle any air-raid precaution scheme—when the [842] Dáil gives us the money—that is to be put into operation. We set up a civilian section about a year ago. It is in charge of a principal officer. We have a major on the Army section with a doctor and a number of other officers. They have been going into the whole problem. They have been studying the problem in other countries and have been drafting schemes to put into operation when we get the money from the Dáil. I anticipate that we will be asking the Dáil for money for that purpose, and that a Supplementary Estimate will be laid before the House. The £1,000 is merely a token sum to indicate that, while we are not doing as much as a number of people might wish in regard to air-raid precautions, at least we had not overlooked the matter, and were making preparations to meet that particular problem.

Deputy Linehan also alluded to the custody of civilian prisoners and said we were this year providing £5,400 for that purpose. As a matter of fact it was last year that we provided £5,462 for expenses in connection with the Constitution (Amendment) Act. That related to the custody of civilian prisoners. When the old Constitution went out of operation, the title of the sub-head was changed to “Custody of Civilian Prisoners,” and we proposed to spend £1,600 in respect of that this year. We shall not spend half that amount as we have no civilian prisoners at present.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  That is in the Estimate this year?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  It is.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  You said last night it was a mistake.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Deputy Linehan said it was not in the Estimate this year.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  I said it was amazing that, for this year, the sum of £1,628 was estimated under sub-head AA in view of the fact that there was no such provision last year. The Minister said that, if that was so, the figure was in the wrong column.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  The sub-head had a different title last year.

[843]Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  I gave the title of the sub-head.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  The Minister has explained how the title of the sub-head was changed.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  The title of sub-head A.A. has been changed since last year, and it is now at an end. Its services are no longer required. Deputy Linehan made an admission with regard to certain men who were discharged from the Army a few years ago—that the only thing they did was to be members of the League of Youth. Deputy MacEoin indignantly denied that such men in his district were members of that organisation. Some men were dismissed from the Army in 1934 because their services were no longer required, and if, as Deputy Linehan says, they were members of the League of Youth, then they were definitely breaking an Army regulation, a copy of which every one of them had received.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  Is the Army regulation being broken now?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  No member of the reserve—officer or man—and no member of the Volunteer reserve is precluded from taking part in normal politics. No man was ever interfered with because he was a member of the United Ireland or Fine Gael organisation. Men were discharged from the Army under a certain section of the regulations because they were members of the League of Youth when they were forbidden to be members of that organisation. Any member of the reserve is quite entitled to express his opinion on politics when not called up for training or for service. The same remark applies to the Volunteers. The situation is well known to many members here. Members of the reserve stood as candidates for Opposition Parties at the election.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Was membership of the League of Youth forbidden by name?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  It was forbidden under the first couple of names under which [844] it operated. It changed its names several times, as the Deputy knows.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  That is smart, but it is not correct.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  It was smart enough to change its name every other day and try to get away with it.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  If it was too smart for the Minister, it would be very smart, because his smartness is more pronounced than his ability.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  The thing is that they did not get away with that particular game.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  You got away with your game—victimisation.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I had no game to get away with. I simply stated, by regulation, that no member of the Army Reserve was to be a member of any other military or semi-military organisation, whether it changed its name every five minutes or not. Any man I knew to be a member of that organisation, out he went.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  “That” organisation, but he could belong to others.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  Was attention called to that regulation?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Every member of the Reserve was personally served, through the post, with a copy of the regulation and had to sign for it.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  The regulation stated that he was not to belong to a military or semi-military organisation?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Yes.

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  That is the trick you got away with.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Is it in strict accordance with the regulations that an officer of the Reserve should appear on a political platform in uniform?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  He should not.

[845]Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  It depends on what platform he appears.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  That happened recently.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  It should not have happened; that is all I say. He has the right to express his opinion. A member of the Reserve, for instance, had the right to get up on the Labour platform and say things he should not have said in any capacity.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  How long have these regulations been in force?

Mr. Linehan: Information on Timothy Linehan  Zoom on Timothy Linehan  Since the establishment of the League of Youth.

An Leas-Chean Comhairle:  Deputies should allow the Minister to conclude. They can then put questions to him.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I saw a member in uniform in the Westmeath election. He was driving voters and I won a few pounds from him.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  An officer or soldier of the reserve or of the Volunteer force has every right to express his opinion on politics, but he certainly should not attend political meetings in uniform.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  That happened in the last election.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  It may have happened, but it should not have happened. Deputy Brodrick alluded to a matter which I had not proposed to refer to in any way, either inside or outside the House. Seeing we have such innocents abroad as Deputy Brodrick, who will use the stuff which is put out by certain scare-mongering rags for the consumption of the under-cultured and under-intelligent, I have to say something about it.

Mr. Brodrick:  You used them during the election and were glad to have them.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  You have a certain number of papers which are not concerned with the truth, and which simply want to dish up stories, as I said, for the under-intelligent.

[846]Mr. Brodrick:  What did you really say?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I shall tell you all that, and if Deputy Brodrick, or the representative of the Daily Mail, or anybody else, had wanted to know the truth about the matter, all they had to do was to ring up and ask about it. Certain of these papers want to get the world to believe that the dirty Irish do not know how to behave themselves, and this is the sort of stuff they give to their readers. I think that we should have one agreement amongst all of us if we have no other—that we would not use against one another the sort of stuff dished out by those papers.

Mr. Brodrick:  We will read “Truth in the News,” and then we will be all right.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Or any other Irish newspaper. It would be better than those rags.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  That paper was telling a lie?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Yes.

Mr. Brodrick:  Will you tell us what you did say?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I shall. In accordance with ordinary international custom and Army regulations, when I invited certain British officers to dinner in Cork, to return some of the courtesy which they had shown our people when they were engaged in negotiation as to the handing over of the ports, I proposed the health of the head of their State, and, in return, their senior officer proposed the health of the head of our State. That is all that happened.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  The King's health.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I proposed it in Irish first and then in English.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  And the King got sick in the meantime.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  It turned his stomach.

[847]Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I am quite prepared to drink his health every time he hands us over a lump of territory, and if he hands over the Six Counties, I will drink his health six times.

Deputy Brodrick also had another piece of information to the effect that we were imposing some sort of conscription on railway drivers. I do not know where he got the information, but I do not know anything about it.

Mr. Brodrick:  Were the drivers notified?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I asked the Deputy where on earth he had got the information——

Mr. Brodrick:  Did you not hire the railway lorries?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  We hired the lorries and we paid for the lorries.

Mr. Brodrick:  At £3 a day, I believe, and they were to supply petrol and oil. Were the drivers of the lorries not asked at the same time to drive them during the manæuvres as soldiers?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  That was not what the Deputy said. What he said was that we had tried to conscript railway drivers by saying that if they did not drive troops, they would not be allowed to drive beet. Was that not what the Deputy said?

Mr. Brodrick:  What I did say was that the drivers of beet lorries during the beet season were taken from their normal employment to drive the lorries during manæuvres.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  The manæuvres were held in June and Deputy Brodrick must know that there is no beet lifted until October.

Mr. Brodrick:  If a man refused to drive during the manoeuvres, is he debarred from driving a beet lorry in the following November, December and January?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  If he is, I do not know anything about it. I have no control over the Great Northern Railway.

Mr. Brodrick:  If he refused to drive a lorry for the railway company during [848] the manæuvres, will he be debarred from employment next November?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  When they were driving the lorries for us on manæuvres, they were soldiers.

Mr. Brodrick:  Were there not drivers on the lorries who were merely temporary employees during the last beet season?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I do not know anything about it, but I would advise the Deputy, if he wants to know anything, to ask about it. I think he must have got that story out of another of those papers.

Mr. Brodrick:  I did not. I got it from a man who drew up a lorry on the last occasion and who got an inquiry as to whether he would drive during the manæuvres as a soldier. He was an ordinary civilian.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  The Deputy is very mixed in his information. A couple of Deputies, including Deputy Dowdall, raised the question of the pay and expenses of the officers of the Equitation School. The expenses of the officers of the Equitation School have been the subject of some comment in the daily papers, and often by some of the Deputies. As a matter of fact, their expenses have been continuously under review and subject to change since the Equitation School was set up. It is not very long since certain increases were made, and I think that, taking it all in all, and from the case I saw put up by the officers themselves, they are pretty fairly met. I know that the country owes a good deal to the energy and good spirit of the officers of the Equitation School, and of the soldiers who attend the horses, and the country as a whole has acclaimed them as heroes for the many awards they have obtained. I think we dealt with them pretty fairly, but for the information of Deputies, I am going to give the details, and I should like to hear from any Deputy afterwards if he thinks the arrangements are not fair. Whether a man is at home or abroad he gets his pay and his marriage allowance If he is married. If he goes abroad on normal [849] Army purposes or State purposes he gets a subsistence allowance amounting to about 25/- a day. In some places it is 22/6, and in other countries, where the rate of exchange is lower, it goes up. It also varies according to rank. In addition to pay and allowances which he would normally get at home, when the equitation officer goes abroad, he gets free hotel accommodation if it is not given by the country to which he goes. He is given 25/- a night from the Army authorities for that purpose.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  Is that over and above the first payment?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  He gets his pay and allowances as at home and he gets 25/- a night if his hotel expenses are not paid by the country to which he goes. In most cases the officers are the guests of the country from the moment they set foot on shore and their hotel expenses are paid. In addition to that, when an officer goes to the United States he gets from us 35/- a day for expenses.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  Over and above the 25/-?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Over and above the 25/-, but he does not get the 25/- if his hotel expenses are paid by the country to which he goes. In America and Canada he gets 35/-; in Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Milan, and Berlin he gets 30/-; and in Brussels and Switzerland he gets 25/-. The grooms get, over and above their keep and their regular pay, 7/6 per night. To make matters clear in regard to the officers, the subsistence allowance they get if they do not have hotel expenses is 35/- in America and Canada; 30/- in Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, and the other cities I have mentioned, and 25/- in Brussels and Switzerland and, in addition to that subsistence allowance, where it is payable, they get 35/- in United States and Canada and £1 on the Continent, but that £1 on the Continent is exclusive of taxis and other things which are given in addition. [850] In America the 35/- is to cover taxis and tips.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  Are our officers supposed to entertain?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  If they take my advice the less entertaining they do the better.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  I agree, but are there any instructions on the matter?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  If there are any entertainments they cannot avoid we give them 35/- in America and £1 on the Continent.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  That seems generous enough, as generous as the ordinary decent man could afford.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  From the cases which have been put up to me and which I have examined, the allowance is no over-generous, but the officers can get by fairly decently on what they are getting at the moment. If I were convinced that that was not so I would be willing to recommend an amendment. I think they should be pretty well satisfied with it.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I think so.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I believe the officers themselves are satisfied with it. There are only a few people who are trying to raise this matter in order to create a difficulty for me. These people have no interest in it.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Hear, hear.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I think the officers themselves are satisfied in the matter.

Mr. L.J. Walsh: Information on Laurence Joseph Walsh  Zoom on Laurence Joseph Walsh  Might I put it to the Minister to tell us whether the officers themselves have made any representations to him with regard to the allowances granted them?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  From time to time the matter of their allowances was discussed with the officers. Particulars of their expenses were got from them, and it was in view of these particulars that the allowances were fixed. They are fixed on a different basis in America from the basis on which allowances are made when on the Continent because [851] things are dearer in America. Deputy Dillon said in effect that we should fight no more wars; that we are to tell everybody who comes along to fight us that they will get the hell knocked out of them for 700 years from to-day. I do not think that will stop anybody from attacking us.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  And neither will the other.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I do not know about that. If we think anything of our freedom we should be prepared to defend it. I think that Deputy Dillon and Deputy O'Higgins who expressed more or less the same idea said that we should not make life not worth living by making costly preparations for defence. Yes, but we should have a balance about the whole thing. If we have freedom and if it is doing us any good and if we think anything of it, then we should be prepared to put some of our national energy into defence. We are not putting a pistol to the people's heads, telling them that they must choose between guns and butter. We want them to have a fair complement of both. It is the Government's policy that while not disregarding the needs of social service or the general economic wealth of the country to make such general provisions for defence as we think will serve the national purpose. The national purpose to be served is to make foreign countries hesitate before they interfere with us in our business here. No matter how big foreign countries are, they will hesitate before they will attack a virile people though only a people of three million. Foreign countries will not be very ready to engage in trouble with us. I do not believe in the policy of threatening any foreign country with another 700 years' war. We had one 700 years' war and we do not want another.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  It is not all over yet.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  It is coming towards its close, I think. There is another part of Deputy Dillon's policy in which I do not believe, that is when he says that we should only be prepared to defend ourselves if Great Britain pays for it. We want our defence against all comers. As I say, if we think anything [852] of our freedom we should be prepared to defend it and pay for it ourselves. I think the people of this country are prepared to pay a fair sum as an insurance against foreign aggression.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  A fair sum for a fair defence?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Yes.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  A defence against something about your own weight, not a case of bantams and heavy weights.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  It may not be heavy weights only that we may have to defend ourselves against. Deputy Dillon said that the most likely form of attack that we would have to meet would be air attack. What we have been doing in the way of air raid precautions, in preliminary training and the sum of money that the Dáil will be asked to vote in the near future, will indicate our policy for increasing our defences in that regard.

Deputy Dillon alluded to the appearance of the troops off parade. I think, generally speaking, that the regular Army troops off parade are quite smart. I do not think the Deputy could have been alluding to them. It is a very much more difficult problem in regard to Volunteers who live at home and who have their uniforms at home. In the regular Army the men have two uniforms, one for service and one for walking out. In order to keep down expenses we have provided these Volunteers with only one uniform and when they use that for a few months in training it is not as smart and as spick and span as the uniform of a man who takes his out of a box. However, we are trying to encourage the Volunteers to keep themselves as neat and tidy as possible. As for the regular soldier, first of all if his buttons are not up to the scratch he will not get past the military policeman at the gate, and if caught down town in a uniform that is not all right he will be marched back to barracks. It is not possible to exercise the same discipline in the case of the Volunteers.

Mr. Brodrick:  Does the Minister allow the Volunteer reserves to cut turf in their uniforms?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  No.

[853]Mr. Brodrick:  It is done every day down the country.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  These may be old uniforms, not their ordinary wearing uniforms. Deputy Dillon also wanted to know what, in my opinion, was the ideal type of army. I do not know what the ideal type of army may be. The army that we are trying to develop is an army in which the regular troops will be composed of technicians who are highly trained in the technical branches, supported by the reserve forces who would also be highly trained and supported again by the Volunteers, who are as well trained as possible under the circumstances.

Deputy Mullen spoke about the Volunteers and said that the employers should be got to realise that they should facilitate the Volunteers when these men are going for their training. Well, I should like to see more support given to the Volunteers in that regard. It is sometimes difficult to get employers to release them for training and it upsets the work of training very much when men are held back and will not be released for training. I wish we could get some such system of pre-Volunteer training, as has been suggested. I do not know that I would go to the schools with it at all, but if it were possible to reduce the age limit for joining the Volunteers and thus give a longer initial training, then the annual training might not be so long, and it might even reduce it by eight or nine days and so fit it into the ordinary holidays that men get in factories and all sorts of employment.

Deputy Moran also alluded to the same subject, and on more or less the same lines. I think that I have dealt with practically all the questions that were raised by the various Deputies, and all I can say is that we will be in a better position to deal with some of the bigger questions of policy that have been raised when the Supplementary Estimate comes along. I hope that that Supplementary Estimate will not be very long delayed. We are trying to get out the facts and figures for it, and as soon as they are available, we will bring the Supplementary Estimate along.

[854]Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  Will the Minister tell us something further about the taking over of the equipment of the forts?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Six of the launches have been taken over as well.

Vote put and agreed to.


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