Thursday, 26 March 1942
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum, not exceeding £5,961,052, be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1943, for the Army and the Army Reserve (including certain Grants-in-Aid) under the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Acts, and for certain administrative Expenses in connection therewith; for the Expenses of the Office of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures; for Expenses in connection with the trial and detention of certain persons, (No. 28 cf 1939, No. 1 of 1940 and No. 16 of 1940); for certain Expenses under the Offences Against the State Acts, 1939 and 1940 (No. 13 of 1939 and No. 2 of 1940), and the Air-Raid Precautions Act, 1939 (No. 21 of 1939); for Reserve Medical Supplies for Civilian Hospitals; for certain Expenses of the Local Defence Force (including Grants-in-Aid) (No. 28 of 1939); and for certain Expenses in connection with the special Commemoration of the 1916 Rising.— (Minister for Defence).
Mr. Hickey: The Minister for Defence stated that some new regulations had been made regarding allowances to newly-married soldiers. I should like these regulations to be published, because public assistance boards have had trouble for some time with applications for allowances which they claimed should come from the military authorities. I hope the Minister will publish these new regulations. It is  felt in some circles that if a man is good enough to join the forces and gets married within a short time, there is no reason why his wife should not get an allowance because of her husband being in the Army. I do not know what the new regulations are, but I should like the Minister to publish them. I should like to know, also, if anything can be done to save the use of petrol by the Army. Many people feel that a good deal of petrol could be saved in respect of military lorries. Very often, two lorries are seen together and it is felt that there is a wastage of petrol involved in the way lorries are running around.
I have to mention again a case which has occasioned some comment in Cork. It is the case of a soldier who lost his life a couple of years ago travelling on leave from Limerick to Cork. I have been with the Minister about the case and he tells me that he is, more or less, tied up by rules and regulations and that he cannot give anything to the widow and dependents of this soldier. This man travelled by military lorry when he should have travelled by train. On the way, the lorry met with an accident and he and two other soldiers were killed. This man had a wife and four children. A fifth child was born after his death. Several representations were made to the Department with a view to getting the soldier's widow some compensation but, up to the present, she has not got a penny. The only consolation she has got is that she has a widow's pension of £1 7s. and, if she got a pension from the Army for the loss of her husband, she would receive only £1 8s. I feel that the State has an obligation to this woman and that it should give her some gratuity for the loss of her husband, I can understand how the Minister is tied up by rules and regulations, but I think there is an obligation to give this woman a lump sum out of some fund. She has undergone a trying time since her husband was killed and she has five children living with her in a small corporation house. She is in receipt of the maximum pension for widows and orphans, amounting to £1 7s. The Minister is probably as keen as anybody else to deal with this case, but I think that nothing should  stand in the way of giving the woman some compensation for the loss of her husband. The technicality that he was killed while not travelling on duty could, very well, be overlooked. The case I refer to is that of Mrs. Menton, and I suggest that rules and regulations should not stand in the way of doing justice in her case. Personally, I feel that the community has an obligation to her and to the orphans.
I heard the Parliamentary Secretary speak about the amount of land tilled by the Board of Works. I often wonder whether the military authorities have the lands in their possession tilled. I have in mind Ballincollig barrack field, the lands at Fermoy, and other places. Speaking of Fermoy, I saw where the Minister for Defence was sued by the people who own the military grounds there for £22 for trespass by soldiers who were playing football and hurling on the grounds. The State is paying £224 a year for these grounds. The deed covering the land is 135 years old. It goes back to 1809, and I saw where the State was paying £224 for exercising the military on these grounds. Because the soldiers were playing football and hurling there, the Minister was sued by the owners, or the sub-owners, and a decree was given against him for £22. I am glad the Minister contested the issue. I hope the time will soon arrive when we shall be in possession of these grounds rather than anybody else. They should be vested in the Government, and it is a strange commentary on the present state of affairs when men who join the Army to fight and, if necessary, die for the country, cannot play football and hurling on grounds for which we are paying £224 a year, without liability to an action for trespass. That is a scandalous state of affairs and I hope the Minister will take the matter further.
Mr. Dillon: When this Estimate first came before the House, I asked the Government to arrange for a private session, because I did not think that the Defence Estimate could be properly discussed in public at the present time. Every Deputy is, by the Government's decision to refuse a secret session, presented with a serious dilemma. He has to ask himself whether the open discussion of defence affairs would be more harmful than suppression of vital facts from the people's elected representatives assembled in this House. I cannot take upon myself alone the responsibility of directing Deputies' attention to and discussing vital facts in the light of the Minister's decision, that an open discussion of defence affairs would not be in the public interest. I am bound to give way to that view because, while I, personally, may have some information, the Minister may have, and probably has, more. I deplore the decision because I am convinced that certain matters relating to the defence of our country require to be discussed here. Certain facts relating to the defence of our country which are not known to the legislators of this House ought to be known. Many of the facts which are not known to the members of the Dáil, and which ought to be known, are well known to the military attaches of foreign legations in this city. It seems to me to be a grotesque situation in which the trustees of the people are forbidden to hear facts that are the subject of common conversation in every military attaché's office in the foreign legations accredited to this State.
Despite some criticism of the size of this Estimate, its size would not dismay me if I were satisfied that it was going to provide for the effective defence of the country. All that and more should be readily found by our people if such were necessary effectively to maintain the sovereignty and independence of this State. But, in that conception, Deputies should remember that, in modern understanding, an army no longer consists of its men alone. If it did, I think it no exaggeration to say that we should have, probably, the finest army in Europe, because we have the last volunteer army in  Europe. Every man in our Army is a picked man and a volunteer. He is in that Army, to a greater or less extent, from a sense of public duty. All continental armies are conscript armies, the members of which have been called from their several tasks and enrolled in the ranks of the Army, whether they so willed or not. Unhappily, in modern times, an army consists not only of its men but of its equipment. Character and physique avail nothing against tanks and tommy-guns unless these qualities are themselves supported by tanks and tommy-guns. I shall not pursue that question here because the Minister says it is more expedient not to discuss it in public now.
But let no Deputy be under any illusion. That topic is the subject of daily discussion in the office of every military attaché of every foreign legation accredited to this State. They have all the information that Deputies ought to have. On these topics, every elected Deputy is entitled to fuller information and an opportunity of free discussion in a secret forum where the truth can be openly spoken on (1) the question of the rifle versus the Thompson gun; (2) the time taken by armoured forces to deploy for battle 200 miles from their bases; (3) the range at which fighter aircraft can fight in the air from their bases; (4) the difference involved for the Irish people between meeting invasion on the beaches and repelling it on the banks of the Shannon; and (5) the precautions that are requisite, and the precautions that have been taken, to provide against the devastation of surprise attack, and the question whether the lessons of Pearl Harbour, Crete and Singapore have been learned by those responsible for the defence of this country, and the way in which our strategists propose to apply these lessons to our particular problem. Deputies in this House, responsible for the safety of this country and of our people should be told frankly and freely for their own information and in secret session of the possibilities of the transport of armoured forces by air, the possibility of maintaining those forces by air and the plans which, it is common  knowledge, are proceeding on the Continent of Europe for the transport, use and maintenance of such forces. Deputies are entitled to ask whether the demonstration of that possibility that is being given in the battle of Staraya-Russa has been noted, and whether the strategy of our High Command has been adapted to that possibility.
Those, Sir, are all questions that ought to be discussed here, and those are all questions that are not going to be discussed here because the Government do not want a secret session and will not take the Deputies of this House into their confidence about vital matters of that character. If the Leaders of the Opposition, or the Leaders of the Government and the Leaders of the Labour Party are in a position to tell me that they have secured full information on those subjects from their respective delegations on the Defence Conference, and if those delegations have communicated that information in confidence to the members of their several Parties and have secured the assent of those Parties for the policies determined upon——
Mr. Dillon: ——then, so far as I am concerned, the application for a secret session would be supererogation; but, in the absence of any such undertaking, I say that the Deputies of this House ought to get somewhere the confidential information which they are entitled to have. The Government's failure to grant a secret session, which has been made available in every other legislative assembly in Europe, should put Deputies of this House upon their guard to satisfy themselves that they are fulfilling their trust to the people who havs confidence in them and who sent them here to see that that confidence would not be betrayed.
There is one matter of detail of which I would like to ask the Minister to say something when he is concluding. The L.D.F. is a remarkable body with a record beyond praise. I, however, am not satisfied that all the  units of the L.D.F. are functioning in the manner described in the reports rendered to the Government, because if the Government fully appreciated what I believe to be going on in some parts of the country, I cannot but think that steps would have been taken to correct them before now. It has been reported to me from various parts of the country that there, are units of the L.D.F. which have a paper strength of, say, 50 men, of whom 15 are turning up regularly, and have been turning up regularly ever since the unit was formed, for training and exercises, and that of the remaining 35 half of them turn up at perhaps 50 per cent. of the parades, and the other half never turn up at all except on some formal parade, occasionally. It has been represented to me by the earnest and public-spirited members of that body that if this situation is allowed to continue, in the event of an emergency the well-trained minority of the unit will take up their post of duty only to find themselves accompanied by that part of the personnel who were, in fact, never in effective training at all, and that they will have by them in the hour of danger and of crisis uniformed men who, instead of being a help, will be a hindrance to them.
Now, I recognise the incalculable value of the voluntary element in the L.D.F. in its initiation and up to now, but surely the time has come, or is at least near at hand, when the authorities ought to make up their minds that those who really mean business in the L.D.F. must attend a minimum number of parades and exercises, in order to ensure that any person wearing that uniform has received the training which the authorities consider to be the minimum necessary to ensure not only his own safety but that of his comrades as well, should they be called to go into action. I think all Deputies in this House will agree that the public spirit and energy of the regular members of the L.D.F. are beyond praise.
It often astonishes me to see young men who have done a hard day's work, instead of going to some legitimate amusement in the evening, putting on their uniform and attending the often  laborious and almost always tedious routine exercises of an L.D.F. unit. It is not fair that their splendid work should in any degree be rendered nugatory by the less public-spirited members of that organisation who wear the uniform but do not do the work.
I appreciate that a great many people may feel that it is unpopular and even politically dangerous adversely to criticise any section of the L.D.F. owing to the ubiquitous nature of its existence in the country at the present time. Fortunately, I no longer need worry about being a politically popular man and, therefore, I say to the Minister that this question is one of vital importance, not only for the safety of the energetic members of the L.D.F., which is important, not only for the safety of the less industrious members who are not turning up and, therefore, are inadequately trained and unfit for service, but, more important still, this question is vital to the safety of the State because, if the Army authorities are left under the illusion that there are 50 active, trained and effective men in an L.D.F. unit in a particular area and are depending on the active and effective co-operation of those men in an hour of crisis and find that when the crisis occurs all they have is 15 effectives and 35 fellows who require more to be looked after than to be depended upon in defence of the particular post to which they are allocated or the discharge of the duty which has been put upon them, the whole Army strategy for the defence of that particular area may be thrown into confusion.
I am not satisfied that the authorities are getting accurate information and I put it to the Minister that something of this kind is happening: you have an Army officer responsible for an area; you have a Gárda officer responsible for a unit. The Gárda officer is asked to report to the Army officer as to the regular parade strength of his unit. The Army officer relays that information to the Command authorities. Is it not human nature that if the district leader of the L.D.F. takes a somewhat optimistic  view of the regular attendance at his parades, the Gárda officer will accept that optimistic view and pass it on to the Army officer because, if the L.D.F. district officer reports that his men are not turning out, his superior authorities immediately have a duty devolving upon them to get rid of him and find a district leader who will succeed in getting his men to turn out? If the police officer fails in that and reports to the military officer that here is a unit or group of units whose members are not turning up regularly, the Army officer is bound to say: “If this Gárda officer is unable to engender that enthusiasm in his area which is to be found in other areas, we must get rid of him and get somebody who can do it.” Similarly, if the Army officer passes on to the headquarter's Command information that throughout his area the L.D.F. will not turn out on parade, ultimately the Command authorities are bound to say: “If this man cannot get the job done which many others have succeeded in getting done in other parts of the country, we must find somebody else to do his job.”
There is no use propounding difficulties if one is not prepared to suggest a solution. I suggest to the Minister that the training parades of the L.D.F. should be held on fixed days, the details of which will be in the hands of the headquarters; that headquarters, in addition to the ordinary surveillance, should make unannounced inspections from time to time, so that they may ascertain what are the average attendances at each particular unit. I think it right to say to the Minister that these inspections cannot be deemed to be effective until they have been in operation for some time. If it becomes notorious that such inspections are due to take place, you are likely to have an entirely fictitious attendance. If, however, these inspections become a permanent feature of the organisation, over a protracted period, one can get a true picture of L.D.F. parades. It is quite possible that if these regular inspections were set on foot, the evil of which I complain might disappear, but it is quite certain that if it did not disappear the Minister and his general  staff would be fully informed of what the true situation was and would be in a position to take such steps as they thought necessary to correct it and, in any case, to make such dispositions as the existing facts demanded.
Colonel Ryan: It is impossible to discuss this Vote publicly. The country is wondering what the £9,000,000 is for. The ordinary serious minded man in the country has come to the conclusion that, whatever the cost, we must be in as good a position for our defence as any country in the world. It is awkward for anybody in this House to discuss this Estimate in detail. There is no detail in the Estimate. We have received no information in the Estimate as to what is ths cost of the Army and what is the cost of the subsidiary bodies, such as the L.D.F. That makes it awkward for any Deputy to discuss the thing at all. The ordinary man in the country views the Army as a means of defence. He observes the L.D.F. week after week. He has been interested in it, especially in its early stages, and he looks upon it as a weapon of defence. He is afraid that he is not going to get value for his money.
I have been very closely observing the L.D.F. and I would like to see realities faced in the matter of defence in this country. I fear that the Minister and his Department are not facing realities. I feel that the Department of Defence know as well as I and every other Deputy in this House know that the L.D.F., to a great extent, has become a farce. For instance, I am sure the Minister knows that there is a syllabus of training prescribed for members of the L.D.F., to be carried out from week to week, for which the group leader is responsible. How is that syllabus carried out? I do not know anything in the world with which it might be compared. Take, for example, a group where there are 160 enrolled. The group leader, perhaps, has done a course of training in Cork or in the Curragh or somewhere else. He has learned the rudiments of the Army training prescribed. On Wednesday or Thursday of a particular week 20 men out of the 160 turn up  for parade. He puts them through some features of training. The following week 30 men turn up, two of whom may have turned out the week before. The next week ten turn up. The group leader has to go from exercise to exercise. How can he train men? The Minister knows there must be some sequence in training. Why try to fool the country? Why try to fool the people that we have an L.D.F. being trained in Army methods? We have an L.D.F. without any enthusiasm, without the slightest idea of bothering their heads about what is happening, who are in the fores because a certain number of people are in it and because it seems to be a good thing to be a member. No training can go on in that manner. Nobody should know better than the Minister for Defence that you cannot train a group of 100 men in any proper sequence if you have not regular attendance. Then, of course, we have the Minister praising the L.S.F. on some platform and the next thing is there is an issue of new uniform. When it comes to the issue of new uniform you have a 75 per cent. attendance. Some members are left without uniform and that gives rise to bickering. The district officers with their motor cars are going from one company to another trying to settle up differences of opinion between the members of the companies. That is happening all over the South of Ireland, anyhow. The military officers know it. There is no question about it. The whole thing is being turned into a complete farce.
The people of the country are willing and anxious that money should be spent on the best possible methods of defence, but when it is spent in this haphazard and foolish way they are inclined to get a bit sick of it. I am not opposing the Army Vote, nor would I dream of opposing it, because I am satisfied that we must use every effort to ensure that our defences are good, but I am directing the Minister's attention to those matters in order that they may be put right. A week or a fortnight ago I was speaking to a person who is highly interested in the L.D.F., and I said to him: “It is very extraordinary  how the people are appointed to certain jobs.” His reply was: “I am so disgusted and so ‘fed-up’ that I do not care what happens. The organisation is so rotten that the people responsible do not care what takes place; they put their men into the positions, no matter what happens to the country.” I do not know whether that is right or wrong, but I am putting it to the Minister for what it is worth, and it appears to me that there might be something in it. During this time of emergency, when it might be necessary to ask men to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the country, surely it should not matter what those men did during the past 20 years or what side they took. Surely the most efficient men ought to be placed in the responsible positions, voluntary or otherwise, in order that the job may be well done, regardless of political kudos.
I would advise the Minister to see to it that the L.D.F. is so organised that it will be of use to the Army, because I hold that without some sort of local defence force the Army is going to be of very little value to the taxpayer. When it comes to a question of defence, the Army is not worth much without some local force behind it, and our L.D.F. will be a nuisance rather than a help if it is not put under some sort of proper control. The military officers are doing their best in that regard, but I am afraid that the Minister and his Department are not doing their job as far as the L.D.F. is concerned. The people of the country are looking askance at the whole thing. They are looking at the L.D.F. as the criterion of what the Army might be like in case of trouble. They are looking at realities. I do not know whether or not the Minister is looking at realities, but the ordinary decent man in the country can see for himself what the L.D.F. are doing in his local parish. He has his eye on the number of cars leaving district headquarters to visit the various groups, and he knows or is made aware of the fact that an officer or an N.C.O. may go to visit a group and find that nobody has turned  up. That means that the officer or the N.C.O. has to go again during the following week, when he may find only ten people there. The whole thing has become a farce. Then we have the Minister getting up on a platform and lauding the L.D.F. It is time that the Minister and his Department took some practical steps to see that this force is put on a proper basis. It is likely to be the backbone of the defence of the country. Without such a force, the Army, with all, its modern technique, would be of very little use. As I said, the Minister should see to it that the L.D.F. is put on such a basis that it vail be of some use to the Army. The Minister should see to it that the portion of this £9,000,000 which is spent on the L.D.F. is not wasted. It is farcical that one man in a group should get a uniform to-day, that another should get a uniform to-morrow, and that some members should be supplied with boots while others are not. That is the sort of thing which is causing differences all over the country. I say that the Minister and his Department are responsible for these things, because I am satisfied that the Army officers dealing with the matter are doing their best.
I ask the Minister to see that the machine will be made effective and that he and his Department will tighten up things. Instead of throwing bouquets at certain people, they should try to make some use of these people for the defence of the country. They should cease issuing orders designed to terrorise civilians and intimidate them to join the Defence Forces. For instance, the last Order issued was that those who were in the Defence Forces should go around and collect the names of all able-bodied men in their district and warn them that they might be called up for service as auxiliaries to the Defence Forces. In this way you are putting into the hands of certain people a weapon that may be used to terrorise their neighbours, against whom they may have certain feelings of spite or jealousy. If I were a section commander in a particular group I could walk in to my neighbour  against whom I had some spleen, take down his name and say to him: “You are for service blocking bridges or cutting down trees.” If that is the way we propose to build up the Defence Forces in this country, the sooner we get rid of the whole Defence Force the better. If the Defence Force is to be used as an instrument to terrorise the people I would prefer to have neither an Army nor a Defence Force of any kind.
Dr. Hannigan: I do not know whether the observations made by Deputy Dillon on our defence measures were prompted by an inside knowledge acquired by him as a member of the Defence Conference or whether what he had to say in regard to defence measures was mere conjecture on his part.
Dr. Hannigan: I had no intention of making any such insinuation and if, inadvertently, my remark contained that innuendo, I withdraw it without reservation. In any event, I feel that I am in a position similar to the vast majority of members of the House inasmuch as I know nothing whatever about the details of our defence policy or in regard to the general principles by which it is governed. I feel it would be far better in the circumstances that there would not be, or should not be, a debate at all on this Estimate. Clearly, the Book of Estimates contains so little data that it is impossible to have anything in the nature of an intelligent debate. Apart from that altogether, I believe that Deputies feel that they are under certain restrictions in discussing matters of this kind so that the debate on this Estimate, having regard to all the circumstances, is a mere sham.
If the members of the various Parties feel that our defence policy should be debated, I hold with Deputy Dillon that the proper way of doing that would be in secret session. I am afraid, if the position remains as it is,  that before long members of the Government will delude themselves into the belief, if they have not already done so, that they are above criticism in matters relating to defence policy. I am sure that many Deputies in this House would have very interesting things to say to the government in regard to the defence policy, but no suitable opportunity has so far arisen upon which these things might be said. I think it no harm, however, to remind the Minister on this Estimate that there is no visible evidence of any attempt whatever to conserve petrol or avoid waste of petrol in the Army. Army lorries are still careering the streets and tlic countryside with no apparent useful object. These things involve not only the loss of a valuable commodity like petrol, but inflict wear and tear on types of vehicles which I am sure the Government will have great difficulty in replacing.
There is just one further point which I wish to mention. I am quite well aware that the Minister has very great sympathy for the victims or the dependents of tile victims of the Glen Imaal explosion, but the Minister must know quite well that the pension awards to the widows and orphans of these victims were totally inadequate. Of course I know that the Minister for Defence is tied up by regulations as far as the award of Army pensions is concerned, but I am sure he will be very perturbed to know that the widows' and orphans' pensions of these people have been cut down to next to nothing because of the application of the means test, embracing the miserable pittance they have got from the Army by way of pensions. In one of these cases a pension which in ordinary circumstances would have been provided at the rate of 9/- a week has been cut to 2/-. I think the widow in that case has two children—not less than two anyway. I would ask the Minister to look into this matter. I am sure that he has no desire to shed himself of responsibility in regard to it. The very least I would expect him to do is to make some representations to his colleague, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, to exclude from the means test the Army  pensions awarded to the dependents of soldiers who have lost their lives in the service of the country.
Mr. Hughes: When one examines the Book of Estimates and reflects on the volume and burden of taxation that it represents for our people, and when one bears in mind that the House is now asked to vote in bulk form a sum of approximately £9,000,000 for the Army, one is forced to agree with Deputy Dillon that the Dáil is at least entitled to facilities to discuss that matter fully and that there is a responsibility on the Minister to convince responsible Deputies, public representatives in this Parliament, that that money has been spent to good purpose for the adequate and effective defence of this country.
The system, which has obtained for the last two years of accounting for and discussing Estimates at the Defence Conference is unsatisfactory from the viewpoint of the ordinary Deputy. When one remembers that in Britain, a belligerent country, where a National Government exists, they can have very critical public discussions at times, and that where it is not advisable to have public discussions of the Army, the defence of the country and the war effort, provision is made for secret discussion, one must agree that it is not an unreasonable request to ask that this House should be given an opportunity of discussing such matters in secret. If Deputy Dillon is correct when he says that the military attaches of foreign legations in this city have full information as to the strength and equipment of our Army, information which is not available to members of this House, it is a grotesque situation. When that request was made, the Government should have carefully considered it and should have given Parliament an opportunity of a full and free discussion in secret session.
We must all agree that this sum of £9,000,000 is an enormous sum for a poor country like this. Nevertheless, the House must be deeply concerned for the preservation of our sovereign rights as a nation and for the preservation of this country as a national  entity, and, in respect of that very responsible consideration, one cannot overlook the necessity for making adequate provision for the country's defence. On the question of adequate and effective defence, I suggest the House is entitled to more information. We got somo vague hints from the Minister that the one-time dribble of arms into this country was now becoming a flow.
Mr. Hughes: Let us hope that will be the case, because what would concern me more than anything else is the portion of this sum of £9,000,000 which is to be spent on effective equipment for the Army. I feel that, in relation to the Army and its auxiliary force, the L.D.F., a great portion of that sum is spent on uniforms and equipment of that type—ineffective equipment, one might say. If a number of our young men are not properly equipped and properly armed in the event of hostilities, the sooner these young fellows get into “civvies” the better, because it is absolutely unfair and unjust to recruit young men into a military force, to put them into uniform and to mark them as combatants if they have not got the means of defending themselves in the event of hostilities. Obviously men who are not equipped to defend themselves in such circumstances would be far better off, from their own point of view and from the point, of view of the country, in civilian clothes.
That is a matter on which the House is entitled to full and free information in secret. For that reason, I protest, with Deputy Dillon, against the method adopted of asking responsible Deputies to hand over, by their mere vote, £9,000.000 of the taxpayers' money without sufficient information. However, I do not want to develop that point unduly. I am faced with the dilemma with which other Deputies are faced, in that one does not know how far one should go in criticism, what one should say or what one should leave unsaid. For that reason, it is better to err on the right side and not to say too much.
 A matter which has already been referred to by all the Deputies who have spokon is the difficulty in respect of attendance at L.D.F. parades and training exercises. Members of the L.D.F. who are really keen on their work and who take a very serious view of their duties and responsibilities feel very aggrieved by the fact that the percentage of attendance is so very bad. It has been stated to me by a number of men who are regular attenders that it is most disappointing and that a big percentage of absentees week after week has a disastrous effect on attendance generally. Again I feel that it is the type of training being given which is responsible. Because we unfortunatsly lack sufficient equipment, the training done consists of marching, formation drill and such types of exercises rather than training in the use of arms. Possibly in that respect there is a handicap which the Minister or anyone else cannot get, over. I may be wrong in my feeling in this regard, but I think that training in the use of arms and practice at the rifle ranges would be far more interesting. If training of that sort could be adopted, it would give a great fillip to attendances, because one can understand how monotonous marching and formation exercises become when it is the only form of training given week after week and month after month.
Another matter which has been referred to is the question as to whether there is wastage of petrol in the Army. It is a matter which has become a hardy annual since the emergency. Watching the voluafe of Army transport all over the country, it would appear that there is a good deal of wastage; but, on the other hand, if we are to have effective training in the Army, a certain amount of what might be regarded as wastage is inevitable. The Minister, I am sure, has given the matter the attention it deserves, because it is very serious in view of the fact that one of the biggest problems this country has to face is that of transport and if economies are to be effected by the general public, I feel sure that there is room for economies in the Army.
 The Minister dealt with the question of indefinite leave. I think that a very good system, especially in relation to taking skilled agricultural workers from the land, training them, making them useful soldiers in the event of an emergency, and, on completion of their training, sending them back to the land for indefinite leave during certain periods of the year, the sowing period and again at harvest time. On the question of inderinite leave, I should like to draw the Minister's attention to this, that he may later on be faced with a problem; the Government may be asked to allow men from the Army to help to save the next harvest. Certain representations will be made to the Government—I feel that these representations are inevitable—that a considerable number of men from the Army will be required in order to save the harvest. Already we have had a substantial drain from the agricultural workers throughout the country. For a considerable time past, but more particularly in recent months, large numbers of agricultural workers, and some skilled workers too, have gone to England. I know that that is the position in South Kildare, an intensive tillage area. Numbers of men, tractor drivers and others, have gone to England because the wages and conditions of employment there appear to them to be more attractive. Those are valuable men to the agricultural industry, and they are probably lost to it for the remainder of the emergency period.
We expect to be faced this year with the biggest harvest that this country has ever had to save, and I think it is inevitable that the Minister will be asked to release men to carry on the harvesting operations in various districts. It will be ail to the good if the Army is in a position to serve a dual purpose. Of course, the most essential duty of the Army is as a defence force, but there can be no doubt if the need arises it would prove to be an effective unit in helping the agricultural community to save food for the nation.
The Minister may not be aware that last year in County Kildare the Construction Corps worked on Lullymore and other bogs. Large numbers of men  were encamped on lands in the vicinity of the bogs while the turf cutting and saving was in progress. Certain claims have been sent to the Department seeking compensation in this connection and, so far, only a formal acknowledgment has been received. I have received letters in relation to those claims. I have submitted them to the Department and I have been promised that the matter will be investigated. The Minister should see that a settlement of these claims is expedited. They are claims for damage caused last summer and autumn and they ought not to be left outstanding any longer. They should be settled this financial year, and I hope the Minister will see that a settlement is expedited.
The Minister referred to the need for more recruits. How far additional numbers are necessary the House is not in a position to judge, because Deputies have not got adequate information. In the auxiliary forces there are large numbers of men, many of whom lack uniforms and equipment. In these circumstances I think it is unnecessary, and indeed it would be unfair and wasteful, to ask more men to join the Army. Of course, as I have indicated, we are not in a position to judge, because we have not sufficient information to go upon. So far as I am concerned, if I had an assurance from the Minister that a considerable portion of the huge sum we are being asked to vote will be spent on proper equipment for the Army, I would be far more satisfied in approving of that expenditure.
Mr. Byrne: I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to the tragedy that occurred in the Glen of Imaal, for the purpose of making a suggestion with regard to the treatment of the dependents of the persons who lost their lives or were injured there. I suggest that if any unfortunate accident of that kind ever occurred in the future, and if men are severely injured and rendered blind, as at least three were in that explosion, when they are being struck off the pay-roll before being discharged from the Army they ought immediately  to be given some pension or allowance and so avoid a broken period in which they might suffer from hardship and want.
I wish to join in the appeal made to the Minister that the allowance in such cases for the dependents of men who are prevented from earning their-living should be sufficient to enable them to live in reasonable comfort. The pensions or allowances made to them should reach a reasonable level. If these men are injured in the service of the State, the State should see to it that they will be given a sufficient amount to live in comfort. If men are killed in the service of the State, their dependents should be adequately provided for. As regards the men who were rendered blind in the tragedy to which I have referred, I do not know what the allowances are, or will be, but they ought to be no less than what these men were receiving when they were in the service of the State or when they were in civilian life.
Where a man loses his life, the widow should be compensated to the extent that she would be enabled to occupy the same position as if the bread-winner were alive. It would be unfair, when a woman loses her husband in the service of the State, to allow her only one-third of what he used to contribute towards the upkeep of his home. I will ask the Minister to bear that in mind. We all earnestly hope and pray that no such accident will occur again.
I am aware that the Minister has done much, and is most anxious, to make the Army happy and contented. On another occasion I suggested to him that in order to make a man happy and contented it would be no harm to make his wife also happy and contented. Perhaps it would be possible to consider the proposal of paying the marriage allowance weekly instead of fortnightly? That would permit the soldiers and their wives to pay ready cash for whatever they buy. At the moment they find the fortnightly system unsatisfactory. Some of them, at the end of seven or ten days, have to get credit and they do not get the best value at all times when they are working on credit. If  they have the cash they can go to other places and get better value for their money. I believe the Minister has a certain sympathy in that direction and if it is possible to have the allowances paid weekly he should see that that is done. If the cost of living goes any higher ho should see that the dependents and relatives of serving soldiers will not suffer in any way. Perhaps he could assist by granting some increase in their allowances.
I would like the Minister to make it more easy for young men in the Army to get married. Some cases were brought to my notice where young fellows were anxious to get married while serving in the Army but facilities would not be afforded them. Having done so much to make the soldiers happy and contented, I hope the Minister will consider these little domestic points I have mentioned. Perhaps he could see his way to make some of them operative.
If a soldier serving in any part of the country, or a country soldier serving in the towns or cities, gets a telegram indicating that there is a death in his family, he is usually released and lie gets a voucher to go home. There ought to be some system whereby that soldier, under such circumstances, would be given a week's pay, or some amount which would allow him to have pocket money when he arrives home. Whether it is a christening or a death, if he is permitted to go home he should be allowed some money to pay his current expenses. I do earnestly appeal to the Minister to consider the points, I have made. They may appear to be very small when compared with other matters in this connection, and I am quite satisfied to leave the matter entirely in the hands of the Minister.
Mr. Corish: I should like to stress the arguments made by Deputy Hughes in connection with the release of men for agricultural purposes. I know that the Minister, from time to time, when representations were made to him, has released men for agricultural purposes, but I think that there is more necessity for that to be done this year than in former years. What I am concerned  with is the length of time that is lost in endeavouring to get a man released to do agricultural work. The general procedure is that a man makes representations in his own behalf first, and then he goes to the Deputy of his area, who also makes representations in order to-get him released. I find that, invariably, it takes from four to five weeks to have a man released, and in the-meantime the period during which he would have been wanted most urgently has elapsed. I would ask the Minister, so far as this year is concerned, to have men released for agricultural work, where genuine applications are made to him, as quickly as possible. Apart altogether from farm labourers, there is a large number of farmers' sons in the Army at the present time, and it is absolutely necessary that they should be released when their applications are made.
The Minister, in the course of his address, said something about agreeing to pay allowances to men in the Army who have been recently married. I did not catch all the Minister said, and I should like him to tell us the details of this matter when he is replying, because there is a large number of young men who have recently got married and who are not in receipt of separation allowances. There have been complaints because a sufficient number of recruits were not offering themselves for the Army, and to my mind that particular question is responsible to no small extent for the small number of recruits who are offering themselves. There are numbers of married men who would offer themselves to the Army to-day, young, active men, who, so far as I understand the position at the moment, would not be accepted, and I would ask the Minister to go into that matter. I would also ask him to give us complete details as to what he proposes to do and as to when these new regulations regarding the payment of separation allowances are coming into operation.
There is one other matter to which I want to refer, and that is the matter of supplies for the Army in different areas. There are people in towns like-Wexford, Kilkenny, and other similar  towns, who are of the opinion that more of the articles required by the Army should be bought locally. In the old days it was the custom to get supplies from the local shopkeepers, and I would ask the Minister what is the objection to that. I know that there are difficulties sometimes in getting a lot of supplies from Dublin or from whatever other place the contracts are placed, and I do think that the local merchants should get an opportunity for tendering for supplies for the Army. My information is that they do not get that opportunity, and I should like to have an explanation as to that. I think that every person in the country, whether in Dublin, Cork or any other place, should have an opportunity of tendering for supplies for the Army. I do not know whether an opportunity is given to people in various parts of the country or not, but it would appear from the amount of goods that come from Dublin and other places, that the small, towns do not get an opportunity of tendering. Again, I would ask the Minister to see that people are released for agricultural work as speedily as possible when applications are made, especially during this year.
Mr. Esmonde: I am in entire agreement with the decision that has been taken to discuss this Estimate in as circumscribed a manner as possible, in view of the position, and I am also in entire agreement with the refusal to grant a secret session to discuss the Estimate. We must assume that this sum of money that we are asked to approve of is necessary and essential for the defence of this country and that there is in existence a body, representative of all Parties, who discuss the question of the defence of this country. I am agninst dictatorship in any form, whether in private life or in business, or dictatorship by Government or by Government Departments, but any person who at any time had any connection with the active end of warfare must realise tliat in times of stress and emergency there is one form in which dictatorship must exist, and that is in the Department of Defence.  That is the Department that should be free of any form of political interference or interference from the Legislative Assembly, in times of emergency.
It has been put forward here as an argument that the Parliaments of large democratic countries which are active participants as belligerents in the great struggle now raging in the world, have had full-dress debates on military matters and on military strategy and tactics. I think, however, that if an examination were made of those countries in which such discussions have taken place it would be found that they are on the losing side at the present time so far as military warfare is concerned, and that the countries that are successfully prosecuting their war are those in which the legislatures have had least to say, and where, so far as policy has been dictated and strategy evolved, these matters have been entrusted solely to the military leaders of the countries concerned. For that reason, I think it is a very wise decision to deal with this Estimate in the present manner, and I hope and trust that the money is being wisely expended.
Deputy Dillon mentioned here that discussions go on in foreign legations here, among the military attaches in legations here, on matters that we know nothing about. Now, I assume that if our Department of Defence is alert, and if that branch of the Defence Forces dealing with intelligence is alert, they will be equally aware of any anticipated moves or any future developments that might be likely to occur or that are occurring in foreign countries, which might be of any menace to us or of any interest to us. Therefore I leave the whole question of defence, as every responsible citizen should, in the hands of those who are charged with the defence of this country, in the hope and, I may say, the belief that they arc doing their duty to the citizens.
It is a matter of regret to me, as I am sure it is to other members of the House, that the law as it exists at present prevents a member of this House from becoming an active member of the Defence Forces of the State.  I think that in most of the belligerent countries, if not all, members of the various legislatures are entitled to share in the defence of their countries, but, so far as I can judge, the rule here is that a member of this House is not entitled except, perhaps, by joining the L.S.F., to take an active part in preparing for or in the actual defence of this country. I would be glad if that prohibition could be removed in some way.
With regard to the question of petrol, there is no doubt that the general impression in the country is that there is waste of petrol. I do not know if that is true or not, but we all know how easy it is to waste petrol, to have overlapping and to have two lorries where one would do for a certain journey. In that respect, I think there is a certain amount of justifiable complaint, particularly where petrol is so scarce at the present time.
I was very glad to see on the streets the other day the new uniform of the L.D.F. If there is anything that will stimulate recruiting and improve the morale and efficiency of that force, it is the new uniform. I have questioned some of those who have been wearing it, and find there is no comparison between the new uniform and the old one. The old was disadvantageous from every point of view, and I congratulate the Department on having introduced at last a soldierly uniform, a very picturesque uniform and a very useful uniform.
I am very glad that the discussion has been short on this Estimate, and that it has been taken in this way. I feel quite certain this Parliament and nation can place full reliance and trust in those of our fellow-citizens who have joined the Defence Forces, and that they will do their duty according to the highest traditions of the fighting qualities of the Irish race.
Mr. Cogan: I agree with other Deputies that this debate has been unsatisfactory, inasmuch as the members of this House have to approach this Estimate without any detailed knowledge of the purposes for which this money is being expended. We realise that the functions of this House, to a  very large extent, have been delegated to the Defence Conference. That would appear to be quite a satisfactory way out of our difficulties, if we were sure that the Defence Conference was adequate to deal with the situation. and that the members of the Defence Conference were satisfied that they had the complete knowledge of all the details of defence to which they are entitled. But, when we remember that the chief Opposition Party is represented on the Defence Conference, and when we have a statement such as that made by the Leader of the Opposition Party, to the effect that he is not satisfied that this money is being spent to the best advantage, then every member of this House has reason to feel grave uneasiness.
The Leader of the Opposition Party undoubtedly is a man, not only of ability, but of wide and long experience of administration, and a man with a deep sense of national responsibility. When he has made the statement that he does not consider that this huge sum of money is being spent to the best advantage. Deputies have a right to feel uneasy. Beyond expressing that fear and uneasiness, however, there is very little that we can contribute to this debate. We can ask the Minister if he does not consider that, if the Defence Conference has not adequate information—and the statement of the Leader of the Opposition would seem to indicate that—it would be better if the Leaders of the Opposition Parties were included in the Government during this period of emergency. We would then have a National Government to deal with this national question of defence and all the other dangerous and difficult questions which arise during this emergency. I am also inclined to agree that a private debate in this House would not serve any useful purpose. It might have this danger, in addition to others, that it might be taken by the belligerents as an indication that this nation was considering action of, perhaps, a hostile or dangerous nature to such belligerents. I suggest again that it is better that the responsible Leaders of the other Party should be taken more closely into the confidence of the  Government and, if that is not possible under the present system of government, then they might be taken into the Government altogether.
I agree with the statements that have been made—and I think it is right that other Deputies should support these statements—that the Army which we have is, as far as personnel is concerned, perhaps the finest Army in the world. It is certainly an Army of which this nation can be proud. Anyone who comes in contact with the members of the Army, of all ranks, must be impressed, not only by their fine physique but by their fine sense of discipline, their courtesy towards the civilian population and their general demeanour, which reflects nothing but credit on themselves and on their officers. There have been a few cases, which have received some publicity in the Press, in which members of the Army have been involved in offences of a serious nature, and in action which did reflect some discredit, on themselves at any rate; but, having regard to the size of the Army and the numbers of men at present enrolled, I think these are isolated incidents, and may be treated as such, and they should not reflect any discredit on the Army as a whole. It is right that members of this House should impress upon the Minister that they take serious notice of such offences and expect that their repetition will be prevented by every possible means.
As far as farmers are concerned, the statement of the Minister that members of the Army will be allowed leave to assist in harvesting operations is very important. We hope that, in granting this leave, elaborate and carefully prepared plans will be undertaken to ensure that the right men are released and that men are released to districts where they are most urgently needed. If the details of the granting of such leave are to be carried out in a satisfactory manner and to give the best results to all concerned, it is necessary that steps be taken at once to find out the men who have agricultural experience, the numbers of farmers who require help, and the districts where such help is most urgently required for  the harvest. Such statistics should be prepared long before the need arises.
The tragedy which occurred in County Wicklow last year should bring home to the minds of the citizens the risk which the average soldier takes, even in peace time. That should be an incentive to every citizen to respect members of the Army and the uniform they wear. They should remember that the risks ordinary soldiers take in handling high explosives while carrying out their duties in times of peace are very great but, of course, these are the normal risks which soldiers take when they enlist in the National Army. For that reason the Army should be treated with the greatest respect by the people, and everything possible should be done, not only for the welfare of the men in the Army, but to make them as effective as possible in case their services are required for active military operations.
Another matter to which I want to refer concerns married soldiers in the Army who are at present receiving no separation allowance. Having regard to the fact that the emergency may continue for a long period, and that the services of these men may continue to be required, I do not think any serious disadvantage should be placed on men marrying while in the Army. I understand the Minister is preparing to provide separation allowances, and if that is so it would meet with the approval of every Deputy.
Mr. Mullen: I was surprised to hear a Deputy referring to the L.D.F. as a farce, a statement that was repeated twice. I think it right not to allow that statement to go without contradiction, because it is very far from being the truth. From personal contact with members of that force I know that such a statement is untrue. I think the military authorities are well aware of the fact that the statement is not only untrue but that the L.D.F. has proved itself to be a very useful adjunct to our military plans and military strength. I have no doubt that if the occasion arose these men would give just as good an account of themselves as civilian soldiers ever gave in our history. It is generally appreci-  ated that attendance in the L.D.F. is inclined to drop off.
Everyone who has had any experience of a voluntary military organisation realises that it is a very difficult task to keep such an organisation up to concert pitch and to retain enthusiasm. Previous speakers stated that indefinite leave was to be given to certain members of the Army for agricultural purposes. Why could not that be done with men who have done their military training for the last couple of years but found it impossible to turn up for drills? I have had in my mind for some time the idea that some sort of reserve should be created, and that attendance should be required for specific drills, say once every month or for whatever period would appear to be suitable. On these occasions there would be a full parade, and there would be the encouragement that men feel in serving with each other when parades are good, as against the discouragement that is likely to be felt at present when men, for genuine domestic reasons perhaps, absent themselves from parades. Undoubtedly, some men do not turn up for training because it is not sufficiently interesting. Practically all men in the L.D.F. know how to use a rifle and have probably fired the course. They should now be instructed in the use of other weapons. I know that it is not necessary to arm every man in the L.D.F., because live or six others in different services are required to support the fighting man in actual warfare. However, in order to make the training more interesting, instruction in the use of other weapons should be given to men who are desirous of further training. It might be a useful idea to encourage holiday clubs in the L.D.F., so that for a week or a fortnight during the summer groups could go either on foot or awheel through their area, and perhaps through the next area, and while combining pleasure with military training, get a knowledge of the country which would be useful if fighting broke out.
Regarding the Construction Corps, I consider the granting of a gratuity to have been a mistaken idea, because as soon as some men qualified for it they  availed of the opportunity to resign. The dole, which was adopted here as a temporary expedient, in view of the unemployment that prevailed, prevents recruiting both for the Army and the L.D.F. and has been in many ways demoralising. The time has come to consider whether the dole should be given in any circumstances to men fit to bear arms in this emergency.
Mr. Mullen: We have to face the fact that the young people of to-day are different from those of previous generations. This is an age of speed, when young people require attractions that their predecessors did not want. That should be borne in mind and every effort should be made to attract young people to the Flying Corps or the Tank Corps, as these appeal to modern youth. It is true that certain local authorities are slow in regard to A.R.P. arrangements. It often appeared to me that there was an amount of Fifth Column activity amongst certain members of that organisation, because they oppose anything in the way of expense, and jeer at any preparations that are made. At the same time I have not the faintest doubt that some of the people who act in that way would be the first to cry out and to seek the aid of others they decry if an emergency arose. In cities or large towns fire watching should be made compulsory. Where a city has been badly “blitzed” it is generally discovered that most of the destruction was due to fires in buildings and stores containing inflammable material, and that as these places were locked at night, the fire brigades found it necessary to break into them.
If these incendiary bombs had been dealt with in the beginning by fire-watchers  placed there by tlie firms concerned, the destruction of millions of pounds worth of property would have been prevented. I think that the Minister for Defence should look at this matter—I am sure he is doing so— along these lines in a city like Dublin.
It has been said that this Estimate is not justified. I do not think that any Estimate presented has greater justification than this Estimate if only for the fact that the expenditure of moneys on this service has preserved us in comparative immunity so long. It is an earnest that, if we are confronted with actual fighting, the best fight the resources of this country are capable of will be put up. With regard to the young people, I think that it is our duty to do everything we can to show them where their duty lies and to try to get at the root of whatever is preventing them from coming forward. If we fail by ordinary methods, I think they should be told that the day will come when they will have to realise what their duty is. I agree with Deputy Esmonde that it was unwise to prevent Deputies from having contact with the L.D.F. or the Defence Forces in the country. I hope we have now reached such a position of strength and unity that members of this House will be allowed to take what should be their proper place in the Defence Forces with their fellow-countrymen.
Mr. Linehan: May I begin by disagreeing completely with the last speaker in what he has said about members of this House being members of the Defence Forces? The worst thing that ever happened the L.S.F. was having anything to do with Deputies. The farther away Deputies keep from military organisations, or semi-military organisations, the better for the organisations. Everybody knows the unfortunate history of this country so far as these matters arc concerned. One cannot get away from human nature and one cannot overlook what Deputy Mullen or I or any other Deputy might be, perhaps unintentionally, guilty of—that is, when you associate with an organisation of that kind you are not going to be averse from  using it to the best possible advantage for yourself. Everybody knows that one of the things which damaged the L.D.F. in some parts of the country was violent political activity amongst local leaders for control. They could not have effective control but they said: “If So-and-so is to he district director, I am not going to be in it.” That has not been helped by the attitude of the Department of Defence in selecting military officers to take charge of particular districts. If a military officer whose political leanings are well known, whose membership of the Army is short and who, prior to entering the Army, was a well-known political partisan, is to be in charge of the L.D.F. in any area, he should be in charge of an area very far removed from the scene of his former activities. I do not think that it is in the interest of the L.D.F. that a person who is now, and has been for four or five years, an Army officer, but who happened to be a candidate at a general election a couple of years previously, should now be in charge of the L.D.F. in the area in which he stood for the general election.
That is utterly ridiculous. Even though he might be the best and the decentest man in the world, a person who has a personal or political grievance against him from older times is not going to feel very happy serving under him. It is not a question of objecting to that particular man in his capacity as an Army officer or of questioning his fitness to be in charge of an L.D.F. area. If he is to be in charge of an area, do not put him in charge of one where he will be in contact with people with whom he was in violent political conflict a few years before.
Deputy Mullen spoke about unity. I am sick of this talk of unity during the past few years. There is no reason to talk of unity. Obviously, any country is united in its people and in itself in so far as its sovereignty is concerned. Unity does not mean that everything that has happened is to be forgotten forever. The sooner we get over that idea the better. It is silly to talk of that type of unity and to suggest a secret session for the consideration of  the Defence Estimate. What good would a secret session do? Are not the people entitled to be told what this vast sum is to be spent upon? Suppose we had what is described as a secret session, would it be secret? I believe that it is too much to ask of human nature to bring 138 Deputies together and to hold a session which will be practically as secret as the confessional. Is it not to be feared that, when these Deputies went back to their constituencies and were met by people to whom they have to explain their actions, they would mention what happened in the secret session and the information they got? If the secret session were merely to enable us to hear the Minister's views and his explanation of the Estimate, it would be of no value. A secret session might be of value if a serious situation arose in which certain people thought it necessary to make statements to the Minister which it would not be in the public interest to make in public. Until that happens, I see no necessity for a secret session. Surely secrecy is carried far enough when the House is asked to vote this sum en bloc, without any discussion of the details. That sort of talk about secret session and unity and Deputy Cogan's talk about a National Government is pure waste of time.
I have not heard anybody on these benches advocating the formation of a National Government. I have not heard anybody on the Labour Benches doing so. But there are several persons who are not members of the Government Party, or of Fine Gael or of the Labour Party who seem to be very anxious that we should have a National Government. The Leader of the Opposition, on one occasion, said that a National Government was impossible under present conditions and the main reason was the existence of the present head of the Government. I believe that that is so. So far as I am concerned, there is this much against the proposal for a National Government—that I am not at all satisfied that a lot of this hinting about a National Government in the country, in newspaper articles, in letters to the papers, in speeches by various respectable and influential people is not the last resort at which  this Government will jump when the time comes. Having sunk themselves sufficiently in a mess during this emergency, if the time comes—which I hope it will not—when they have to face a really grave crisis, they will got out of it by offering the formation of a National Government. It is very useful to the Government at the moment to get those people who are so anxious, in the interests of the country, for a National Government, to make that statement, so that different Government spokesmen like the Leader of the Government Party in the Seanad, can get up and make sarcastic speeches about the proposal and so that the Minister for Finance can get up, as he did in the Seanad, and make a speech saying that the country has a National Government in the present Fianna Fáil Government.
Deputy Mullen complained about the young men not doing their duty and said they must be taught to do their duty. It is hard to blame young people for not doing their duty when you have all this talk about unity by Government spokesmen, suggesting that the people are marching side by side with the Government, and when the spokesmen of the Government do not hesitate, as in the case of the Minister for Finance in the Seanad not long ago, to try to get in a little pin-pricking, political propaganda and political sarcasm at the expense of their opponents.
That mistake will persist as long as we continue to vote large sums of money like this without adequate explanation. In 1939 the Opposition mistook national unity for political unity. The Opposition, in order to give the Government a chance of meeting the emergency, allowed the Government to carry on for practically two years without criticism. Did the Government Party use that freedom in the interests of national unity? They did not. Instead, they used it to suggest that every member of the House, whether they belonged to the major Opposition, to the Labour Party or to the Independent group, had sunk his political opinions and was now in agreement with the Government. But  worse than that, whenever there was any criticism of the Government the attitude they adopted was this: they said that there were now certain people in contact with the Government through the Defence Conference to whom they had to give way occasionally, the inference being that when everything turned out well it was due to Government policy, and when the opposite happened it was due to suggestions made either by the Fine Gael or the Labour representatives on the Defence Conference.
Deputy Mullen referred to Fifth Columnist activities in local authorities, and talked about people who object to every type of expenditure. That is a kind of remark which it is very easy to make. There is no such thing as Fifth Columnist activities in the local authorities. There was some agitation among local authorities in the County Cork, whose financial position was bad, when they were asked to bear the cost of A.R.P. charges which really should be a national charge. They felt that they could not impose that burden on the ratepayers. I think Deputy Hickey and Deputy Hurley will bear me out when I say that, so far as Cobh and Passage West are concerned, the local authorities concerned could not find the money to meet these extra charges. I understand both have been in arrears in meeting the demands of the county council, so that if local authorities are not able to collect the ordinary rate it is surely unreasonable to expect them to levy an extra charge of this kind on the ratepayers. They simply asked that this particular expenditure should be made a national charge.
That does not justify any member of this House calling the members of a local body Fifth Columnists. I do not think the Deputy was justified either in saying that the young people of this country are not doing their duty. In my opinion, one of the reasons why the L.D.F. in some areas is not a success is the fact that the people put in charge were well-known political partisans. I believe that from the very beginning it should have been put in charge of the Army. There should be  no such thing as the appointment of local officers, or the silly type of elections that took place at the beginning. It would have been much better to have sent a soldier in uniform to each town with authority to get all the men between the age of 18 and 40 together for training in the evenings. In connection with local organisations, there is always the danger that some local people will attempt to use them for their own ends. Human nature being what it is, there is no use in anybody thinking that people are going to become so good suddenly that everything like political activity is going to be forgotten.
Deputy McMenamin referred to the use of petrol by the Army. The complaint that I have to make about the Army lorries engaged in drawing turf in the County Cork is that they were not properly loaded, certainly not to the extent that the ordinary carrier loaded his lorry. There were no high rails used on the lorries, and the turf was not properly clamped.
Mr. Linehan: I agree, but there was a good deal of criticism about this, especially when you saw local carriers taking perhaps six tons of turf on a three-ton lorry, while the Army were only taking two or three tons on a fine four-ton lorry.
I want to put it to the Minister that there is a good deal of time and money wasted when a soldier is charged with some offence in the local courts. He may be only charged with selling an Army cape or something like that. The offence may have taken place at a camp where soldiers were cutting turf. Subsequently the soldier returns to his barracks. The case comes up for hearing in the District Court which may be 50 miles distant from the barracks. When the case is called, an Army officer turns up from a station 60 miles away and a corporal from another station about the same distance from the court, while the soldier, who is charged with this minor offence, does not make his appearance at all. The point that I want to put to the Minister is this: that it looks very bad  in the eyes of the public, when a case of that kind comes before the District Court, that the soldier charged either does not turn up, or, if he does, is not properly represented. If he is not to he represented by a member of the legal profession some provision, I think, should be made to have him represented by an Army officer. The officer attends the court but does not represent the accused. I suppose he is there holding a watching brief for the authorities.
All that looks very bad in the eyes of the public, and what I suggest to the Minister is that some arrangement should be made for the defence of the accused. For the sake of the Army and so that there would be no grounds given for public comment, I hope my suggestion will be acted on. It creates a bad impression when a soldier is charged with some offence if he does not turn up in court, or, if he does turn up, informs the court that he has no one to defend him. The public get the idea that a man in that position is an undesirable character and that he has been, so to speak, thrown over by the Army.
Would the Minister, by means of publicity or otherwise, have it made quite clear to a lot of people in the country that it is unsafe at any time to buy anything from a soldier? The Minister will understand what I mean. Occasionally you get a cute gentleman in the Army meeting an equally cute one who is not in it, and he sells to the latter an Army cape or a pair of boots. The defence invariably put up is that the soldier told the other fellow that the articles in question were second-hand and were no longer the property of the Army. I think the Minister should have it made quite clear to the public that once equipment of the kind I speak of is issued to a private soldier it always remains the property of the Army, and that it is unsafe for the ordinary members of the public to have anything to do with it. The capes are very attractive. They are very fine capes. If a soldier suggested to, we will say, a labourer in the country who was working in the bog with him that such a cape was out of date and no longer the property of the Army, that he was being issued with a  new one, it is naturally very tempting to buy the cape for 5/-. I have known cases where people did walk into the trap. I am so sure they walked into a trap because they went to the Guards, when they made inquiries, and identified the soldiers. People do not do that unless they have been codded. I think it would be wise if the Minister made it quite clear that Army property should not be touched by anybody.
Mr. Bartley: I would like to ask the Minister to put before his Department the possibility of placing one of his patrol boats at Galway. In the last two or three years poachers have always been operating in the waters off Galway, and there have been consistent rumours of poaching. Very occasionally they are caught in the act. There is constant complaint about it, and I think if one of the patrol boats were placed at Galway it would reduce the incidence of the offence considerably.
I would also like to point out the inadvisability of sending young members of the Construction Corps who have been reared in Dublin City to a place like the Cloosh Valley, in Connemara, and leaving them there for months on end in the winter. I think it has not had a very good effect on the morale of the particular members of the Construction Corps who were sent there. If it is possible to get men who were reared in country districts to do work of that kind I think it would be advisable.
I have heard complaints recently in Galway about lack of co-ordination in the control of the Red Cross activities. I know that the Minister is not responsible for the Red Cross Society, but there are various sections of the Red Cross. You have the Army proper, the L.D.F., the L.S.F., and then you have a very large personnel in the Red Cross Society itself. There have been complaints in Galway with regard to overlapping in the matter of control; personally, I do not think the personnel is too large or anything like that; possibly it is not large enough. If the Minister can do anything so that no friction will arise in the control of the various Red Cross activities I think it would be for the good of the Red Cross service in general.
Captain Giles: In normal times we would be very critical of such an Estimate as that presented by the Minister but in the exigencies of the moment it is only right to keep our patience because, after all, the only guarantee of our future existence as a nation is our Army. Though we all agree that there is bound to be waste in an Army of such proportions, at the same time we ask the Minister at all times to keep a watchful eye on expenditure and to see that every penny is wisely spent. Of course, we agree that it is a very high estimate and I suppose, if we went into the fine points of it, we would be able to reduce it by a few million pounds and, at the same time, have just as good and efficient an Army. I do hope that our Army, unlike some of the armies throughout the world to-day, is left free and independent to do its own work, that it is self-controlled and that there are no outside men, who are not of the Army, interfering with the affairs of the Army as a militant and fighting force.
In connection with our L.D.F., I am proud to say that it is a very useful force, and is a good link between the people and the Army, but from my experience of the L.D.F., I think we are not giving the youth of the country their fair share of responsibility in it. As far as I can see, the old veterans of the past wars of the last 25 years in nearly all cases are in control. It is certainly good to see that they have a national spirit still, after all they went through, and that they are rushing to fill the breach; but at the same time, if it comes to active warfare these men, in their declining years, would be very little use to lead a military force. The Minister is a man who went through the mill, and understands that a man who is 40 or 50 years of age is more or less on the decline, and not able to take his part in active service. We have not enough young people, people of the present generation, who should have the responsibility of defending this country to-day, taking over the key positions in our L.D.F. As I have said, the leaders are doing their best, but they are too old for active militant warfare. I see them all through the Midlands, in my own county, men up  to 50 years of age, taking over full responsibility, going out on manoeuvres. The unfortunate men are doing their best, but they are hardly able to walk the day after they have been out on manoeuvres. What we want at the moment is young militant men who will be able to do the work and continue to do it. Warfare of to-day is different from the warfare of yesterday. It might be all right to have a few generals from the older veterans who could direct operations from behind the line, but we should have young men at the front. I would ask the Minister to see that a good many of the older veterans, who certainly at great inconvenience to themselves did volunteer for this useful work, will step back now and let the younger people take their place. It would be a very good and patriotic thing for them to do and would be in the interests of the country also.
I am satisfied that our Army in general is giving satisfaction. We have had, of course, throughout the country some very unfortunate incidents where irresponsibles got into our Army and, of course, being irresponsible all their lives even the Army could not make proper men of them. We had an unfortunate incident at Drogheda a few months ago where a soldier deliberately shot an unfortunate civilian through pure cussedness and ignorance of his duties as a soldier—taking up a rifle and aiming at somebody without knowing whether there was a bullet in the breech or not, with the result that a girl lost her life. I would ask the Minister to continue the weeding-out of that type of person from the Army. In the Midlands, for the last 12 months, there has been a large number of petty thefts and villainy of all sorts by a certain type in the Army, a very small minority. Some of them are in the Army still. I would suggest to the Minister that it would be far better if they were sent home about their business. They are more of a danger to the Army and the country than anything else.
I think all this talk we have heard in the last few weeks of a National Government is very dangerous. It is  more or less a type of fifth column activity, intended to destroy authority and to destroy the existing unity. As we stand at the present moment, we are satisfied that with the Government and a vigorous Opposition this country is all right. There is not the slightest necessity for this talk of a National Government because, after all, a vigorous Opposition is next to a Government, and a Government cannot go too far wrong where there is a vigorous and strong Opposition to keep it on the right road. It is also very useful, if a Ministry or the Government should fail in its duty and find that they must vacate office, that we have in this country a Party, ably led, ready to step into the breach. At the present moment we have in this country a leader and a Party who have been tried through many generations and found not wanting. In a country where you have such a Party I think the people should have perfect confidence and perfect security in a Government and a vigorous Opposition. After all, if we were to combine the two or three different Parties in this House into a National Government, what guarantee would the people have that everything was going to be all right? What guarantee would they have that there would not be bribery and corruption and rottenness in such a Government? What is it that keeps the Government on the right road only the fact that there is a vigorous Opposition there to see that they go right, whether they like it or not?
Our only hope is too keep a vigorous Opposition in existence which will be there to do its job if called upon. This whining for a National Government always comes from people who are either irresponsible or disgruntled. Probably something went wrong in their past lives and they think that if they could only start a little Opposition Party of their own now, it would be for the good of the country. I think they should leave well enough alone and the country will right itself.
As regards the future of the youth of the country, my belief is that a large number of our youth are irresponsible at the present time. They stand more for pleasure and pleasure-seeking than for giving responsible thought either  to themselves or to the country. I think it would be a good thing if the Government provided some class of training for the youth of the country so that they would be subjected to three or four years' discipline to give them a proper outlook for the future. As things stand at present, some of them do not mind if they never get a day's work. They would prefer ferreting rabbits to doing an honest day's work for a fanner. The generation of 25 or 30 years ago gave them a good lead and showed that they, in their day, were prepared to do anything necessary in the service of the country, but the present generation do not seem to be of that mind at all. I think the only solution is that the Government should see that the younger generation are trained in the interests of the future welfare of the country. If they do not want to do certain things, they will have to be made to do them, because we do not want to have irresponsible youths growing up who in future will be a source of a great deal of trouble. I would ask the Minister to see that some plan is devised under which the younger generation will be taught their duty to themselves, to their families and their country.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Traynor): In concluding the debate, I should like to assure Deputies that if, by any chance, I should fail to deal now with some of the points they have raised, all the points raised in the course of the debate will be very carefully examined and considered by me afterwards, and, wherever necessary, appropriate action will be taken to deal with them. I think that the best method of dealing with the various points raised would be for me to begin where Deputies left off. Following that plan, I would say that I agree thoroughly with the observations of Deputy Giles about the necessity for having the youth of the country in the Local Defence organisation. Of course Deputy Giles realises, as I also realise, that the veterans to whom he referred were an inspiration to the young men who followed the lead of these veterans.
Probably out of hero worship, these young fellows elected these men to the responsible position of leadership of  their units. It is quite possible some were not physically capable of taking on such a heavy task. As Deputies will have seen in the Press recently, the Army is considering a reorganisation, at least in the large towns and cities, of the L.D.F. Arising out of that reorganisation, it will be necessary for those persons who will have control of units to undergo a course of training in the conduct of the particular type of unit of which they will be likely to take charge—that is the administration of a company or battalion. If they fail to come, up to the standard required by the military authorities, then other individuals who have passed the course successfully will be appointed to take control. That will not mean in any way that the men who, filled these positions previously had failed to do their duty. It will merely mean that the standards which the military authorities are now seeking are much higher than had existed heretofore, and until these standards are reached by the particular individuals concerned they cannot be given the responsibility of handling such units.
I doubt very much if Deputy Giles, I, or anybody else could reduce the expenditure on the Army by a couple of millions. It is a debatable question and one man's opinion is as good as another, but personally my own feeling is that, as a very large amount of the expenditure consists of pay, the only way an which Army expenditure could be reduced would be by reducing the personnel. I do not think that Deputy Giles or anybody else would be prepared to advocate that form of economy.
Deputy Bartley raised the question of the Construction Corps in Cloosh Valley. It is true to say that a company of the Construction Corps, mainly made up of young Dublin boys, spent last summer in the Cloosh Valley, doing what. I believe, was very useful work. They have constructed a road in the valley which, in my opinion, will be a monument to their energy and their efforts during the  period they were there. The road is excellent. It has been built over wild mountain bogland and it will be there for the future use of the people of the valley. A peculiar feature is that I had complaints from a number of people to the effect that these boys were in effect exiles from their native city. It was represented that the city was too far away from where they were stationed and I was asked to arrange for their return. I brought these representations to the attention of the military authorities, but the extraordinary feature about it is that these boys themselves signed a petition to the officer commanding the unit asking to have them left there for some longer period. They named a certain date. As a matter of fact, I was anxious to get them out of it at the beginning of November. I thought it desirable to have them out of that particular atmosphere by that time of the year, but they signed a petition asking to be left there and I could only assume therefore that the boys were happy. With regard to the Deputy's point about the boat, I shall have that examined with a view to seeing what the position is. We are having some difficulty in regard to that particular type of vessel.
Deputy Linehan raised the question of the purchase by civilians of Army property from soldiers. We are, at the present moment, drafting an Order to meet that, because we believe that many of those petty thefts which are taking place in the Army at the present could not possibly take place but for the fact that there is outside a mean type of receiver who is prepared to pay a ridiculous price for some piece of valuable property such as the cape described by Deputy Linehan, and we want to get after that type of receiver. If we get this particular type of Order through, we will be in a position to get after the receivers and punish them as severely as it is possible to do in the circumstances.
Deputy Linehan also deplored the fact that the selection of military officers for the L.D.F. was made by  what he described, I think, as the Ministry of Defence, possibly meaning myself. I do not want to misrepresent him by saying that that was what he meant; he may have had something else in his mind. I want to assure the Deputy and any other Deputies who may have similar ideas in their minds that the selection of such officers is made solely by the military authorities, the General Headquarters Staff of the Army; that they are selected for their efficiency and their ability, and with no recognition, good, bad or indifferent, of what their former political leanings may have been. I presume that the types of officer the Deputy was referring to are temporary officers. I have had representations from some areas about officers who were described to me as Blueshirts being selected and put in charge of the Local Defence organisation, but the fact remains that they were selected by the military authorities, as were officers who were formerly in some way or other regarded as being connected with the Fianna Fáil organisation. I did not interest myself in those affairs. It is the responsibility of the military; if they no not do their job properly, I will get after them to discover why. If I were to interest myself in those matters it would be quite impossible for me to bring the Army authorities to book for any failure that might be brought to my attention, such as the failure of the unit to which those people might be sent.
I am afraid I have to disagree with Deputy Mullen in respect to the desirability of having Deputies of this House closely connected with the L.D.F. I myself saw what I believed to be a danger of that in the beginning, and I was responsible for the Order that all Deputies would have to sever their connection with the L.D.F. I believe it had a beneficial result. Some Deputies endeavoured to prove to me that it was the reverse. All I can say is that they are entitled to their opinion, but I am still prepared to differ with them; I feel that they can do very much more valuable work by endeavouring to induce young men to get into the force rather than by being themselves members of it. I think  Deputy Esmonde expressed a similar opinion, and a similar reply fits his case too.
Several Deputies referred to the granting of leave to Army personnel. It may be desirable for me to explain just what the position is in respect of the type of leave which we afford to members of the Army. In the first place we established last year what we described as “agricultural leave”. We gave agricultural leave to various soldiers in the spring for the purpose of helping in the preparation of the land. I think the period allotted to the individual soldier was something in the nature of a month or six weeks. We gave a similar period in the autumn for the purpose of collecting the harvest. A soldier desiring to secure agricultural leave should apply to his commanding officer. The delay to which some Deputies referred in respect to a particular soldier making that application was due, I believe, to the fact that, instead of making application to the commanding officer, it was made to a Deputy, believing that the Deputy could expedite it by getting after me or someone else.
The fact remains that, however anxious I might be to expedite that leave, the application still has to go to the commanding officer, and the commanding officer has to make certain investigations in respect to it. We all know that there are individuals who would be only too anxious to take advantage of getting out of the Army even for a month, and we have to ensure against that sort of thing. The result is that, when an application for agricultural leave is made, the Army authorities apply to the Gárda authorities to discover whether the statement made by the individual is correct. If the statement is correct, there is no delay in granting the leave asked for. If, on the other hand, it is found that the statement is a fiction, then the leave is not granted. The other type of leave, is called indefinite leave. A man who is fully trained, and who makes application for indefinite leave, will have his case examined. If the  authorities are satisfied that indefinite leave can be granted to that man, it will be granted, on the understanding that his services are there to be called on in time of emergency.
Mr. Traynor: It must be made to the commanding officer, and again there will have to be certain investigations. Where it is possible, we are anxious to grant leave. I think Deputy McMenamin mentioned the case where the son is in the Army and the father is old and beyond his labour. In such cases we have on every occasion released the son with little or no delay. As far as possible, we expedite it where we know that the situation may be critical. We have cases where the father or the mother dies, and the son is in the Army, and if he is a fully trained man we release him. It has a further advantage for ourselves in that it gives us an opportunity of filling the vacancy by another recruit, and getting another fully-trained soldier for the Army. If we follow that up in the way we would like to follow it up, we will in due course have a very large reserve of fully-trained soldiers throughout the country, and, at the same time, have our Army at the present strength, so that in time of greater emergency we will have the present strength of the Army, plus all those individuals who had been granted indefinite leave as fully-trained soldiers.
Several Deputies also referred to the abuse of petrol. I can assure the House that the question of excessive use of transport which was raised here last year in a manner similar to that in which it has been raised this year has been sot after and that there is no excessive use of transport or petrol. It is true that lorries have to go from one  spot to another and it is true they may have to travel empty from one spot to another, but they travel empty in order to bring back a loud of stuff, and I can see no way, nor can the Army, in which that can be obviated.
Mr. Traynor: I went into that question and I was assured that the position was that the particular type of lorry was taking its maximum load and that, until certain things were done with it, it could not take a load in excess of what it was carrying. I was just as concerned about that matter as anyone else when it was brought to my attention and I wanted to know why such a thing should happen. That was the explanation given to me. The position has since been rectified by the installing of certain springs which were necessary to enable that type of lorry to take a particular load. It was a four-ton load, while the lorries which the Deputy has in mind were not capable of taking more than three tons, with the springing they had at the time.
The question of marriage allowances was raised by many Deputies. We are increasing the marriage allowances, as I think Deputies know, for soldiers' wives and children. The point was raised on many occasions in respect of young men in the Army who married without authority. The wives of these young fellows were not entitled to marriage allowances and I was very perturbed by the situation, because I could see large numbers of young men marrying and large numbers of wives suffering the hardships attendant on endeavouring to live on tho amount of money at their disposal. After a considerable amount of difficulty, in which I was very much helped by the Defence Conference, I got to the stage at which marriage allowance is now granted to the wives of all young soldiers who are over 23 years of age—formerly the age was 26 years—and who have at least two years' service. There is one alternative to that arrangement.
 It is within the Minister's jurisdiction to grant a similar concession in certain other cases, where he deems it desirable to do so, but that discretion would have to be used sparingly. The fact remains, however, that practically every young man in the Army who is married will be on the strength. I do not think it is desirable—and I am sure that Deputies will agree with me—that we should have an all-married Army, and, therefore, the provision in regard to two years' service is desirable.
Mr. Traynor: It is generally known in the Army, and that is all we need worry about at the moment. Deputy Byrne, as well as Deputy Hannigan, raised the question of the people affected by the Glen of Imaal tragedy. I am endeavouring to do whatever is possible in respect of those people.
Mr. Traynor: I shall do that. As a matter of fact, I am going further, because I am trying to bring them in under the provisions of the Bill dealing with bomb damage. I do not know whether that is possible, but, if it is,  we might get them a little more than they are getting at present. With regard to the point raised by Deputy Byrne as to making weekly payments to wives of soldiers, I should be very glad if that could be done, but we have to face the problem that if we are to make these payments weekly, we should have to double the staff of the finance section of the Department of Defence, and whether Deputies would deem that desirable or not in present circumstances I do not know.
Mr. Traynor: We have given the increased allowances. Other Deputies raised points as to the expenses in connection with uniforms for the L.D.F. I think everyone will agree that it was very desirable to get rid of the old type of uniform and to give them something which would keep them warm in the winter. These men are giving their services voluntarily and they are prepared to take all the risks that the regular trained professional Army is prepared to take, and the least we can do is to see that the conditions under which they serve are as good as it is possible to make them. I think that whatever expense was involved—and it was a very large additional expense—was well spent. With regard to equipment for the L.D.F., we are doing all that is humanly possible to secure such equipment, and I believe that no man in the L.D.F. at present will be without some piece of equipment, whatever it may be, should the evil of attack come upon us.
I come now to Deputy Dillon. I am sorry that the Deputy is not here, because the House should know that I never asked that the Army Estimate should be discussed in the fashion in which it was discussed last year and this year. That suggestion came from Deputy Dillon himself last year, and we must remember that Deputy Dillon last year was second-in-command to Deputy Cosgrave and was a very influential Deputy. When he made the suggestion that this Estimate should not be discussed in detail, as was formerly the case, it was decided that that course  should be recommended. The recommendation was put to the Government, duly considered and agreed to, and his suggestion was put into operation. Deputy Dillon on that occasion, when the question of the rights of the Independent Deputies was raised, said that all the members of the Defence Conference would safeguard the rights and privileges of those members.
I cannot understand Deputy Dillon's present attitude. Now, when he has reverted to the Independents, he seems to have lost faith in his colleagues on the Defence Conference. He does not seem to think that the rights and privileges of the members of the Independent Party in the House will be safeguarded in the same way as heretofore. I can assure all concerned that they will be safeguarded in identically the same way as they were when Deputy Dillon was a member of the Defence Conference. I regret the passing of Deputy Dillon from that conference, because I must certainly say that he was a man who gave very valuable service to it. He was sound in everything he advised at the conference, and he dealt with everything there in a very businesslike and very logical way. He was not, on the conference, the Deputy Dillon who is the Deputy Dillon in this House.
Mr. Traynor: Yes, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as it were. I can only assume, of course, that in one place he was using his gifts in the interests of the nation, and in the other place he was just using his powers of oratory for the purpose of propaganda for his Party. However, the fact remains that the Defence Conference examined the Estimate this year for a very considerable time and examined it in a very meticulous manner. I think the members of the conference spent about two and a half hours considering it. Any information which they asked for they  were given, and they were satisfied, in so far as it is possible to satisfy a group of men who are super-critical of all these things.
Deputy Hickey referred to petrol, and I think I have already dealt with that matter. He also mentioned the sad business of the soldiers who were killed in an accident between Limerick and Cork. I can only say that I am powerless to deal with that. The man to whom he referred was in the lorry without my authority. He was off duty. Apparently the poor fellow took a cheap trip to Cork. He was going home on leave and he should have travelled by train. He discovered a lorry was going to Cork and availed of the opportunity. The result is that he has placed his unfortunate dependents in their present position.
Mr. Hickey: Surely the State and the community as a whole have an  obligation to the man? Apart from whatever rules and regulations are involved, surely something could be given from a contingency fund to compensate the poor woman for the loss of her husband? If he was in the pay of the Army, is it not strange that she would not be entitled to compensation?
Mr. Traynor: That is agreed; nobody will dispute that, but the facts have to be faced. I have dealt with practically every point that has been raised. As I have already indicated, if there is any point which I have left unanswered, I will deal with it through the medium of the Official Debates. I will look into the points raised by Deputy Hickey, especially in regard to tillage. The Army is exempt from having to till Army ground, ground over which they may have to fire courses or use for general Army purposes. I think I can assure Deputies that the efficiency of the Army is being continually watched. Our soldiers are, I believe, better trained to-day than they ever have been in the history of the country. All ranks have reached a higher stage of training. The officers have completed courses which were never available to them before. Their knowledge is much more extensive than in the past. They have  been continually carrying out theoretical exercises during the winter months and they will be putting those theories into a practical form in the summer.
While it is true that the expense of the Army is high, the Defence Estimate is a large figure—the fact remains, nevertheless, that there is no way, which I can see at present, by which it could be reduced, other than to reduce the Army itself, and I do not think that that is possible, nor do I think that any sane Deputy in the House would suggest that means of economy. Whether we are getting value for the Army or not—that question was raised by Deputy Cosgrave—is a very debatable point. I believe the Army is giving the fullest possible value for the money which is being expended.
Deputy Cosgrave may believe that it is not, and he is entitled to his opinion just as I am entitled to mine. I do not know how either of us could evaluate that, but I do believe that we are doing everything that it is possible to do to meet whatever may be in store for this country in the future; and should this country, unfortunately, be involved in this suicidal conflict which has inflicted itself upon the world, all I can say is that our Army will shake to the boots whoever may come in here. I am not suggesting that we are certain of doing what does not appear to have been done in any country in the world to-day, but I am saying this: I believe that the young men of this generation, the young men who make up the Army of to-day, the young men who make up the L.D.F., will prove that the tradition of the Irish soldier is as good to-day as it has ever been. In saying that, and I am not saying it in any bellicose manner, I merely say what I believe to be true, that if our freedom is attacked we will defend it with all the vigour and the ability that has been shown in former years by our fighting race.
Mr. Traynor: The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures will be moving a token Vote some time  after we have disposed of this Vote, and anything coming up under that will be debated on that subject.
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