Committee on Finance. - Vote 32—Office of the Minister for Justice (Resumed).

Wednesday, 30 June 1948

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 111 No. 13

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Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  As the House was adjourning on last Thursday evening, the Minister, in replying to a suggestion which I had thrown out in regard to parking places, stated that that particular question did not come within his Vote. That statement, of course, is technically correct. I am not going to dispute that fact but I do want to point out to the Minister that I made that suggestion and that numerous Deputies in this House made similar suggestions for the specific purpose of strengthening the Minister's hands with regard to this question which is causing a tremendous amount of consideration to those motorists and businessmen who have to take their cars down the city in the course of the day. There is no question of embarrassing the Minister in any respect, and I relate that suggestion to the fact that the Garda Síochána are responsible for the enforcement of the regulations in respect to the parking of motor cars within the restricted areas of the city, and that has become a very difficult question. I know that the enforcement of these regulations against the people they have to enforce them against is distasteful to a number of the Guards. It is impossible for a businessman who is allowed only 20 minutes in which to park his motor car to go into a premises and conduct his business. As everybody in the House who has ever had to undertake business of one kind or another knows, it is impossible to conduct important business in the course of 20 minutes. If the 20 minutes are exceeded, the Guard on duty, unless he is a sympathetic Guard using good commonsense, is more or less compelled to serve a summons on that particular businessman. I suppose there is no more law-abiding section of our community than these individuals, no people with greater respect for the law than these people, and yet, an extraordinary [1819] thing, they find themselves in court much more often than another type of person. Something will have to be done somehow. I have thrown out one suggestion; other Deputies have thrown out other suggestions; some of these suggestions will eventually have to be tackled with a view to bringing about some relief of this particular problem.

That brings me to the question of the temporary withdrawal of the acceptance of recruits to the Garda Síochána. I think that is a false economy and that it is folly to continue that policy at the present time. If it is part of the economy plan which is being adopted by the present Government, then I say it is carrying that policy to a ridiculous length to stop the recruitment, especially in the city, of that particular body. I must confess that I have no knowledge of the strength or weakness of the Garda Síochána in the country, but I do know that here in the city the metropolitan section of the Garda Síochána is regarded as being well under strength and the duties they are compelled to perform cannot be properly undertaken by the present numbers. The situation regarding the observance of the law in the city—while I am not suggesting that it is worse now than at any previous time—has probably deteriorated in proportion to the increase in the population. I cannot say if the metropolitan section of the Garda Síochána has risen in proportion to the rise in the population, but the fact remains that I think the Minister will be reinforced by the opinion of the various Deputies who have expressed their disapproval, in the course of this debate, on the question of the cessation of recruitment. I would strongly plead with the Minister, whatever it may be necessary to do with respect to the rural areas, that certainly as far as the metropolitan area is concerned, recruitment should not only continue but should be intensified until the situation is completely and entirely under control.

That brings me to another matter. A number of Deputies have made reference to the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána and called for its disbandment. [1820] I sincerely hope that the Minister will not listen to that plea. In the course of the debate, Deputy Con Lehane stated:—

“During the régime of his predecessor there was attached to the Department of Justice a section of the Garda Síochána whose function it was to exaggerate the differences of opinion that existed amongst certain sections of the community. I think it is a pity that the present Minister has not taken the step already advocated here by Deputy Dunne, namely, the disbandment of that special branch.”

Now that special branch was not the creation of the last Government. It was there when the Fianna Fáil Government came into power and it was accepted as part of the machinery——

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  I think the Deputy is not being helpful on that. I suggest that he should not travel that line.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I am merely making a plea to the Minister in respect of an appeal that was made to him by a Deputy of this House, and surely if one section of the House is allowed to make certain statements, another must be allowed, if possible, to controvert these statements, and that is all I am doing. I am asking the Minister not to give ear to these statements. The Minister must know from his own experience, as we know, that it was not the function of that body to exaggerate the differences of opinion that exist among certain sections of the community. That is a most amazing charge coming from the Deputy. To me it appears more amazing still coming from a man of the professional qualifications of that particular Deputy. I certainly say that they should never have been made.

Then the Deputy went on to refer to a promotion that the Minister had apparently approved of. I do not know whether it is necessary for the Minister to approve of a recommendation of the Commissioner. The Deputy went on to say:—

“I think it is a pity that there was [1821] appointed as titular head of the Special Branch of the Garda an official whose activities, as known to a good number of Deputies in this House, Deputies other than members of the Clann na Poblachta Party, were calculated to provoke disorder rather than to preserve the peace. I think it is a pity this appointment was made.”

That, again, is a rather astonishing statement to have been made by a Deputy. The reference to Deputies other than members of the Clann na Poblachta Party might very well apply to me as a member of a Party other than the Clann na Poblachta Party, because in my time I did come under the review of members of that particular branch, very much more so I would say than it applied to Deputy Con Lehane. The only difference between Deputy Con Lehane and myself is that he continues to bear malice to these men and I do not. I must admit that at the time to which I refer they, because of their official standing, did get the better of me. That is no reason, however, why I should continue to hold malice against them.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  On a point of personal explanation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  If the Deputy gives way.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I have no objection.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  I think Deputy Traynor, when he quotes from the Official Report, should have regard to the fact that everything which I said on the occasion to which he referred was governed by the initial remarks which I made and that I directed the Minister's attention to the fact that I was speaking not with malice, but with a view to the Minister's conduct of the Department of Justice so that unity, peace and order would be preserved here.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I am glad the Deputy reminded me of the fact that he prefaced his opening statement with the remark that he was going to express a point of view not frequently expressed in this House in the past. I [1822] certainly agree that the Deputy's point of view is luckily one which it is doubtful has ever been expressed, much less frequently expressed in this House. He went on to say that he was going to make that statement without bitterness and without recrimination. Surely he cannot suggest that there was no bitterness in a statement which appealed to a Minister to disband, first of all, a very efficient section of a unit of this State. When the Deputy came into this House I presume he came in accepting all the conditions that applied to membership.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  The Deputy came into this House as an Irish republican and will remain in it as one.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  The Deputy was enabled to come into this House as an Irish republican because of the fact that Fianna Fáil made 26 of these counties an Irish Republic.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Because of the fact that the people sent me here.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  That is how the Deputy was able to come here without any test of any kind.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That does not arise.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Deputy Traynor is trying to impose one.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  If the Deputy makes statements in this House that I think it necessary to controvert, I am entitled to controvert these statements that he makes, just as he is entitled to make these statements.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Certainly.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  In the course of that statement the Deputy made this remark:—

“There are Deputies sitting opposite who know perfectly well the great temptation that there is for some of us with regard to the bitter and tragic things that happened during the past ten years.”

The implication in that statement is that the bitter and tragic things that happened in the past ten years were brought about as a result of the régime of the Fianna Fáil Government.

[1823]Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  That is what was intended.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Deputy Lehane must not interrupt. He must give as good a hearing as he got.

Mr. Boland:  He will get plenty.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I want to ask Deputy Lehane was one of the bitter and tragic things that happened in the past ten years the death of a young detective officer who had given service in the Irish Republican Army?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  I served under him.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  He was mowed down by a Thompson gun, his wife left a widow and his children left fatherless. Was that one of the tragic things to which the Deputy referred?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  That was one of the incidents caused by the policy pursued by that Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Deputy Lehane must not interrupt.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Was it one of the tragic things that a 1916 veteran, who was captain of a company throughout the Black and Tan war, who was a sergeant in the detective force, and who fought against overwhelming odds, was eventually murdered in the precincts of his own home? Was that one of the bitter and tragic things that the Deputy referred to?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  It was.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Was the shooting of a young army officer who was called out to lend aid to the police force of this State and left maimed another of the tragic things?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Deputy Traynor is in possession.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  On a point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  What is the point of order.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  I wish to ask the occupant of the Chair if these are to be regarded as rhetorical questions or [1824] will the Chair allow me to reply to them?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  They are rhetorical questions.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Was the shooting of a detective officer in Cork another of the tragic things? Were the wives who were left widows and the children who were left fatherless not part of that tragic ten years? Was it Fianna Fáil who initiated these shootings?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Yes, certainly.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  When the Fianna Fáil Government came into office in 1932 its first act was to open the jail gates and to give all these men who had been imprisoned under a former régime their liberty.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  That is deliberately provocative.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy is answering statements from the other side of the House.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  With all respect, Sir, he is asking a series of questions, none of which, to my recollection, was raised by the Deputy. This is a deliberately provocative speech.

Mr. Boland:  He is refuting the statement that Fianna Fáil was guilty of repressive action against a certain section of the community.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  The Minister for Justice cannot be asked to answer these questions because the events did not happen within the last 12 months and that is the period for which I am responsible. I would appeal to the Deputies on both sides of the House to observe——

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I am not asking the Minister to deal with these questions. I am refuting the insinuation that the tragic and bitter happenings of the past ten years were brought about by a Fianna Fáil Government.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Which they undoubtedly were.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  The Deputy knows in his heart and soul that that is not so.

[1825]Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  The dead body of Seán McCaughey is proof enough for me.

A Deputy:  You should be ashamed to mention his name.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  All I want to say to the Minister in respect of the request by these responsible Deputies who asked for the disbandment of that Special Branch is that he should turn a deaf ear to the request. I do not know whether these Deputies were speaking merely as individuals or whether they were speaking as the voice of a certain section of the inter-Party Government but I would ask the Minister not to allow any pressure to be brought to bear on him in respect of the suggestion that that particular branch should be disbanded.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Did Deputy Traynor not recruit that branch?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I shall give no further warnings to interrupters.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I am not interrupting.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy is interrupting.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Deputy Traynor is making a case in regard to the Special Branch.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  And he is entitled to do so.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  But he himself recruited that Special Branch.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That is a disorderly interruption.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  It is a fair question, I submit. He is defending his own branch.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I made it clear at the beginning of my speech that that Special Branch existed when the Fianna Fáil Government came into being.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  It did not.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  It did.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I even pointed out that I had come under its survey.

[1826]A Deputy:  Deputy Cowan never did.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  In this particular matter I would ask the Minister to stand firm and to see that the detective officer, referred to as the titular head of that branch, will be retained in his position and in his promotion. There can be no question whatever about the courageous service he gave to the State, which defeated the gentlemen who are now clamouring for his removal. These men have come into this House, having been elected by the people of their various constituencies, to accept all the commitments which representation in this House means. One of the commitments is the acceptance of the machinery of State which exists at the present time. That particular section is part of that machinery.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I hope the Minister will continue the good work he is doing in bringing about peace and understanding among all sections of our people. There is a general feeling of appreciation and satisfaction in regard to what he has done since he came into office. I am not going to refer to the tragic incidents of the immediate or the remote past because I believe that every Deputy in this House and every true Irishman regrets what has been done in that respect. None of those tragic incidents would have taken place, and none of those patriotic self-sacrificing men have lost their lives, if the British Government had not committed the terrible crime of partitioning our country. It is not too much to ask the present British Government to undo that crime now——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That is far away from this Estimate, Deputy.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  ——and allow the people of Ireland, from Belfast to Cork, to enjoy that harmony which is the right of every Irish man and woman. I would like to say a word about the Garda force. They are a force of which any Irishman should be proud. Their efficiency, integrity and honesty are beyond reproach. I do feel that we have scarcely done justice to these men as far as remuneration and other things are concerned. I know [1827] I am speaking to the Minister as a man who has a deep appreciation of our force, and I would ask him to make some effort to help them in that direction.

Another matter which I should like to bring to his notice is that of the housing of Gardaí throughout the country. I know of cases where these Gardaí, having been transferred to certain areas, have to travel long distances in order to get a house. I would suggest to the Minister that the question of making some provision for housing the Gardaí throughout the country is a matter of which he should take serious notice. I would also suggest that the Gardaí, as I know them, are not sufficiently paid for the onerous work they are doing and for the responsibilities they have day in day out among our people.

There are a few things I would like to mention in connection with our prisons and the places where the youth of our country are detained. That is a matter which the Minister should go into seriously with a view to bringing about a more humane atmosphere in these institutions than exists in them at the present time. I should like him to consider the question of the segregation of certain prisoners who are in for not very serious crimes from those in for more serious crimes. I have heard from men who have visited those prisons where young boys are detained that they were not at all impressed by the way things are being run. I am quite satisfied that I need not stress those points with the present Minister because I have knowledge of his views in this matter.

I consider that some of the fines that are imposed by our District Justices for offences such as selling milk deficient in fats, are not sufficiently severe. There are too many recurrences of those serious offences and fines such as 5s. and 7s. 6d. are not severe enough to stop those people from committing those offences. Finally, I would stress that, as far as our Gardaí forces are concerned, I am inclined to think that these men are entitled to much more consideration [1828] than they are receiving at the present time.

Mr. M. O'Reilly: Information on Matthew O'Reilly  Zoom on Matthew O'Reilly  I should like to point out to the Minister—I am sure he fully appreciates it—that he is in charge of the most important Department we have here. The most important duty the State has is the protection of the individual. I am sure every Deputy in this House agrees that that is so. In view of that fact it is lamentable to find Deputies coming into this House and trying by every means in their power to belittle and weaken the force at the Minister's disposal for the protection of the individual. I thought that when Clann na Poblachta were on the hustings they had commonsense or, at least, a sense of citizenship. At that time they proclaimed on almost all their platforms that they were leaving the past behind them. They come in here to this House and on this Vote— the first opportunity offered to them— they open up again national cankers which would be better left without comment. If that principle is going to be adopted every new Party coming into this House, because possibly Clann na Poblachta themselves have paved the way for another Party, will raise the very same questions ad infinitum.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  The Deputy should read the debates for 1927 and 1928.

Mr. M. O'Reilly: Information on Matthew O'Reilly  Zoom on Matthew O'Reilly  It is time that we in this House had a little commonsense so far as these matters are concerned. It is our duty to assist the Minister. It is our duty to make the Guards as strong and as powerful as possible for the safety of human life. That is the first duty of every one of us. No good purpose will be served by making irritating statements. I think it is time we dropped that.

I want now to take this opportunity of complimenting the Guards. They are an excellent body of men. Sometimes they work under grave provocation. On many occasions they have worked with great danger to themselves. As a disciplined body I think they can hardly be surpassed. That is all to the good. In a few days' time there will be motions before this House under which we will either beg or [1829] borrow money from other countries. We cannot expect to get that money unless we can show that we have here a certain element of security. It is not the security of machinery, factories, businesses or ships that counts. It is the efficiency of our police force that is the vitally important matter in the long run. That is how the international moneylenders judge the suitability of prospective customers. How can we expect to have a loyal and efficient Garda force if we continue in the irresponsible way in which we have carried on in the past?

I suggest very seriously to the Minister that road traffic has become a most important problem here. That has been adverted to by many Deputies. To those of us who travel by night the most dangerous hazards we meet on the road are lorries with only one light or lorries which, having two lights, can dim neither light. I know that that happens with quite a number of motor cars as well. It makes road travel very, very dangerous and some steps should be taken to ensure that lorries and cars using the road should have the proper equipment. I have noticed, too, that recently there is a continuous passing out around turns. All motorists know that that is exceedingly dangerous. Possibly that does not happen here in the city but it does happen on an extensive scale in the country districts. The only way to combat it is by having a sufficient number of Guards. It is obvious that we cannot control traffic unless we have a bigger police force.

One of my main objections to this Estimate is because of the fact that under it recruiting has been stopped at a time when we actually need more Guards. Without a vastly increased number of Guards it will be impossible to enforce a speed limit. I am not asking for a limitation of speed. I ask that commonsense and courtesy should be used by motorists taking turns. Where commonsense and courtesy are not used some compulsion will have to be introduced. The second grave peril confronting users of the road to-day is that of motorists driving while, as the law puts it, under the influence of drink. I know that such motorists have been severely punished and I hope [1830] that that will continue. I would advocate, too, that every motorist convicted of driving while under the influence of drink should have his licence suspended for all time. That would be one of the best deterrents. We all appreciate that the Guards should be non-political. In dealing with this Estimate for the Department of Justice it is rather a pity that the Guards should have been made so acutely political by the Leader of Clann na Poblachta.

Mr. Roddy: Information on Joseph Roddy  Zoom on Joseph Roddy  I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister the sorry plight of some of his employees. I refer to the District Court clerks and the clerks in the registrar's offices. These men have responsible positions and they are compelled to keep up a certain appearance of respectability. The labourer can go to work in a pair of dungarees. The men in these offices must wear their collars and ties. The labourer's wage is very often equal to theirs. These men entered these posts full of ambition. They looked forward to setting down some day and making homes for themselves and their families. Many of them now have wives and families. Their financial difficulties are so great that they cannot afford to give to their wives and families the ordinary comforts of life. They would like to give their children the same upbringing and education as they got themselves. Because of their financial limitations they are unable to do so. I would appeal to the Minister to give these men an adequate salary. I know that that may mean additional expense, but those men are as much part of the machinery of the State as is the President, who is drawing £15,000 a year. That is an exorbitant salary. If it were reduced by at least a half——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That does not arise on this Estimate. The Minister for Justice is not responsible for that.

Mr. Roddy: Information on Joseph Roddy  Zoom on Joseph Roddy  Half the money spent on his establishment could usefully be employed in giving these men adequate salaries. The difficulties in regard to parking places have been mentioned in this House. The problem of parking is just as acute in the country towns [1831] as it is in the city. I would ask the Minister, when he is considering this problem, to take steps to ensure that parking places will be provided in the country towns.

During the course of this debate great praise has been meted out to the Civic Guards. I know that they deserve it. All that praise was somewhat marred in Sligo town last Sunday owing to the sudden death of one of the Guards there. He was going to the barrack to report for duty when he fell dead.

For the past two years that Guard was in very indifferent health. He was in Dublin for six or eight months because of heart trouble. Someone must have been at fault when a certificate was issued that that man was fit to go on duty again. I was speaking to him after he came back from Dublin and he told me that his heart was in a very poor condition. When they discovered that this man had a weak heart they should not have asked him to continue on duty. Already he had given 23 years' service and he should have been retired on full pension. I hope the Minister will see that such an occurrence will not be possible again, and I hope that this unfortunate man's dependents will get adequate compensation.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  I should like to make a few observations before this debate concludes. I do not want to tax the Minister's patience unduly. The debate has dragged on almost to an alarming extent, despite the appeal made by the Taoiseach at an early stage in it. Unfortunately, that appeal fell on deaf ears so far as some of the Minister's supporters are concerned. One of them treated us to no less than three hours of bilge, three hours of abuse, three hours of mud-slinging.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  Three hours of the truth.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  It would be much better if the bulk of the Deputy's speech could be left out of the debate.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Birds of a feather!

[1832]Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  I did not catch what Deputy Commons said.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  Three hours of the truth.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  We will deal with that subsequently—I ask the Minister to deal with it. I would like to draw attention to the serious position which has been developing in recent times regarding road accidents and to the necessity which exists to try to avoid road casualties such as have been occurring. The great cause of many of these accidents is that many people drive motor cars while under the influence of drink; at all events they have taken more intoxicants than are good for them. In this condition they drive a car on the public road to the danger of other road users—people whose business brings them on the roads, whether as motorists, cyclists, pedestrians or children going to or coming from school.

The Minister must take the steps necessary to prevent road accidents. I know that no matter what he or any other Minister can do; accidents will happen, but he should take every step humanly possible to avoid them. In a case where a man is convicted of driving a motor while under the influence of drink, his licence should be suspended for all time. A few examples of that nature will have a very salutary effect on others who may wish to emulate his example. It should not be merely a question of a fine; there should be penal servitude for every person found guilty of driving while under the influence of drink.

There should also be a speed limit, particularly in towns and cities where every motorist has to be so careful, because there is contributory negligence on the part of cyclists and pedestrians. The campaign which was started by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government in the last administration should be continued. He made a great effort to educate road users and teach them their obligations.

I would also like to see a resumption of recruiting for the Garda Síochána. If the present suspension on recruiting lasts for a number of years, many [1833] of the men serving in the Garda and nearing the termination of their service will not be easily replaced. If it is left until these men have to retire by the thousand on attaining the age limit, the Department will be confronted with a tremendous task to secure fresh recruits. It would be far better to select a few hundred a year and in that way prepare to replace the men who will be due for retirement. The Minister may rest assured that any expense that may be involved will not be begrudged by the taxpayers, because they know it will be to these men they must look for protection for their lives and properties. Recruitment to the Garda should be seriously reconsidered.

As regards Guards on point duty, these men have to stand at busy street corners for four hours and that is too much to ask of any man. I do not know how they have patience, considering all they have to put up with at busy street corners. If it could be arranged that they would have two hours on and two hours off, that would be only fair and just to these men.

There is one matter that I think should be regarded as above Party politics. Allegations were made by one speaker on the Government Benches concerning the judges in our courts. These observations have been carried out over a long period, more by way of insinuation than direct charge. The suggestion is that at least two Ministers of the former Government interfered with judges in the discharge of their duties. Nothing could be more calculated to undermine the State or the confidence of the people in the Government than such allegations made by a responsible Deputy. It may be argued that the Deputy concerned is not responsible, but any person elected by the people to sit here must be regarded as responsible. I submit that allegations of that nature are calculated to undermine the confidence of the people in the administration of justice. Such allegations should not be made, and I hope when the Minister is concluding that he will point out that no person, whether he be the Taoiseach or any other Minister of State, should dare to [1834] interfere with the judges of any of our courts.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  That is right.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Chair does not allow any allegations to be made against judges.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  I quite agree that the Chair reproved the Deputy, but nevertheless, in an oblique way, the Deputy still continued, despite the reprimand from the Chair, along the same lines. In that way he endeavoured to get home allegations he was making that two Ministers of the previous Government had interfered with these judges. Not merely that but no fewer than four Deputies on the opposite Benches charged the former Minister for Justice with yielding to political influence in transferring a Garda sergeant from County Dublin to somewhere in the West of Ireland, and in eventually locating him in Offaly. These allegations are either founded on fact or are falsehoods. If they are founded on fact, I think some tribunal should be set up to inquire into them. If they are founded on falsehoods, the falsehoods should be withdrawn. It is a bad state of affairs for this country if allegations can be flung against Ministers, present or past. If any Minister is deemed to be guilty of these charges, the necessary machinery is there to have an inquiry into them. It is bad for the country and bad for the interests of the people generally that such charges should be levelled without cause. I would appeal to the Minister when he comes to conclude the debate, to deal with these particular matters.

Mr. Pattison: Information on James P. Pattison  Zoom on James P. Pattison  I agree with the last speaker that some things have been said in the course of this debate that were better left unsaid in the interests of the prestige of the House, and of the State. I think it is to be deplored by everybody that any reflection should be cast on the judiciary because without the judiciary we might as well live in conditions of open anarchy. I want to make a few observations in regard to this Estimate. First of all, I think the time has come when the Minister for Justice should have a complete review of the whole organisation of the [1835] police system here. Much has been said in relation to the City of Dublin and a great deal of what has been said about Dublin applies also to the city from which I come, Kilkenny. We find that the force there is most inadequate and that the personnel are not able to devote much time at all to what might be described as police work proper. Most of the men are engaged on clerical work of some kind or another, keeping records and dealing with applications which should be dealt with by organisations directly under the control of other Ministries. Certain work which really belongs to the Department of Industry and Commerce is handled by the Guards. The same is true also of work connected with the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Social Welfare. I think that work connected with the Department of Justice is the only type of work which the Guards should be called upon to do. I hope it will be possible for the Minister and the Government to review the whole position in regard to the proper functions of the Garda force. Other ways and means should be found to deal with work which comes mainly under the control of other State Departments.

The question of housing for the Garda has been referred to. That is a matter which I also wish to stress, because I find that the corporation in my native city is the only body to which the Garda can look for shelter. When a married Guard arrives in Kilkenny he can find no house to live in and he is obliged to stay in lodgings until such time as the corporation is in a position to provide him with a house. That means, of course, that we are depriving some other family of that house. Most of the houses built by the local authority are intended for the working-class but the corporation also feel that we must have the police force provided for although really it is not their responsibility to provide housing for the Gardai. We are often faced with that embarrassing situation. It is about time, after a quarter of a century's control of our own affairs, that the State should be able to devise some scheme of providing quarters for [1836] married members of the force. In the case of the Army a certain amount of housing accommodation is provided for married soldiers.

With regard to traffic regulations, I think the authorities are giving serious consideration to the matter at the moment. I have not very much to say in that regard so far as Kilkenny is concerned because we recently had a conference with the superintendent and we are satisfied that the scheme which is to come into operation is reasonably satisfactory, having regard, first of all, to the safety of human life and also to the needs of business and other interests in the different parts of the city.

As regards the suspension of recruiting, I think that is a step which will be regretted by everybody. I do not think it is an economy. In fact, it is a slander on our economy proposals to suggest that recruiting should be suspended at the present time. It is admitted, I am sorry to say, that there is a good deal of certain types of crime in the country, housebreaking and offences of that kind. We therefore require additions to our police force to suppress such crimes. The force has now reached an age when many of its members are due to retire on pension year after year. Even in the days when there were no retirements on pension, and the only vacancies were due to gaps caused by death or illness, there was a certain number recruited annually to the force. I think the Minister for Justice should shake up his colleague, the Minister for Finance, on this question. I am not satisfied, nor I think is anybody here satisfied, in regard to the present position. In connection with recruiting, I heard of a case not very long ago of a fine young man who passed all the examinations some time last year and was recently called for medical examination. When he got the result, not only himself, but everybody who knew him, including a couple of members of the medical profession, were surprised. He has been certified as being medically fit by a very eminent member of the profession since but he has no way of appeal. The gentleman in the Depôt who issues a certificate to the Minister seems to be the first and the last court in the [1837] matter. I do not think that anybody could agree with that system. I have the greatest respect for the medical profession but in this case there was a conflict of evidence and I think there should be some way of determining who is right and who is wrong. We have heard a good deal about political victimisation in regard to the last Government and surely here is a case which would give rise to suspicions of that kind. In this case an eminent doctor certified the young man as being in perfect health, but a gentleman up in the Depôt does not certify that, so I think that the Minister should look into that. I do not know any other case of it. I only came across the one. I do not know if other Deputies or the Minister have other complaints in that regard. I would not have made a complaint only that the evidence in the matter is so definite.

With regard to houses for married members of the Guards, I raised the question time and again over a number of years. The problem of houses has been recently discussed on the Estimate for Local Government. Everybody realises how big that problem has been made by the late war, so the Minister for Justice should at long last assume responsibility for dealing with the problem throughout the country.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  I sympathise with the Minister in the impatience he has displayed over the protracted character of this debate. He cannot place the blame for its protracted nature on this side of the House as there has been a good deal of loquaciousness on the benches behind him and particularly from Deputy Flanagan who found his voice again after a silence of a considerable time, I suppose because he was disappointed that nothing came his way in “the sharing of the spoils.”

There has been a good deal of discussion on appointments which came within the purview of the Department of Justice, or their salaries at any rate. The old insinuation of corruption was made against the previous Government. I think one Deputy characterised it as “administrative [1838] corruption.” That is a very dirty word, a very nasty word. Some appointments were made since the present Minister for Justice assumed office. I think a couple of State solicitors and a county registrar were appointed and, I think, a Circuit Court judge.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  The Minister has nothing to do with them.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Their salaries are carried on this Vote. There is somebody responsible to this House for it anyway.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  All right. I will carry it.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  The Minister, I think, understands what I am getting at. I have not very much blame or very much criticism to offer regarding the appointments he made in themselves. The point I am getting at is something different. It is simply that the system in regard to appointments in operation during the previous Government's régime is being adhered to, and the system that Government took over is being adhered to. The Minister made sure that he got dyed-in-the-wool supporters of his Party but I do not blame him provided he got good men. One of the appointees was a Fine Gael candidate in the last election and in another case one of the appointees was, I understand, a Fine Gael election agent. I do not know that any of the other Parties in the Coalition have shared any of the spoils. I did not hear that they did, but what I do care about is that it is damned hypocrisy to talk of corruption, “administrative corruption”. That is all damned hypocrisy. It is not a bad system and I would be prepared to defend any appointment made by the previous Government. They were not always political supporters of the previous régime either. I can point to a case where a man was taken out of the Opposition Benches here and made a Circuit Court judge. I can point to another case where a member of the Oireachtas, a member of the Fine Gael Party, was given another important appointment by the previous Government. I wonder will the present Government have the same thing to say when they go out of office? Will they [1839] display the same leniency towards their political opponents, as the previous Government did in regard to these appointments? There was one appointment made, however, which I think was a regrettable one. The Minister will know which one I refer to. I do not want to say anything hurtful, but in view of all the mud that has been slung here, I think that one appointment was unsatisfactory from the point of view of the previous record of the person appointed, and I will say no more. The Minister will understand what I mean and other colleagues of his on the Front Bench will understand also.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Was the appointment made by the Minister, by the way?

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  That is a very slick question. The Minister has to be responsible for it and the Government has to be responsible and take responsibility if anything serious occurs hereafter as a result of it.

There has been a good deal of talk about Garda administration and the old chestnut of interference on the part of Fianna Fáil cumainn with the transfer of Guards, during the administration of the last Government. One would think from all the talk that went on here that the previous Minister for Justice and the Commissioner did not run the Gardaí at all, but the Fianna Fáil organisation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am for 15 years a Teachta Dála, representing Limerick constituency, and during that time on only one occasion was I approached by a Fianna Fáil cumann in Limerick to approach the Minister for Justice to have a Guard transferred. That cumann came to me with good and sufficient reasons in that case— I remember it distinctly—but the Guard was not transferred. I was approached again and again, however, by Fianna Fáil cumainn or by individual members of cumainn on behalf of Gardaí who were in trouble with the Department or their authorities because of disciplinary charges and things of that nature, and to stop the transfer of Guards who were being [1840] transferred by their superior authorities. That was the only way in which I experienced any intervention on the part of Fianna Fáil cumainn, and I think that would also be true with regard to other Fianna Fáil Deputies. There is no truth whatever in that allegation that has been slung in this House for years and all over the country that there was interference by the Fianna Fáil organisation in the running of the Garda Síochána. We had an admission from the Fine Gael Deputy from West Limerick that in his hurry to interfere in regard to the transfers of the Garda Síochána, he got a Guard into trouble and in danger of being proceeded against in a disciplinary manner because of his policy of interference.

There is one other matter for which the Minister for Justice is responsible and to which I should like to refer, and that is the appointments of peace commissioners. I know the system that operates, but there was a recent appointment made in Newcastle West district, County Limerick, which was a disgrace. A person with a very shady past was appointed a peace commissioner. I think the Minister should look into that again and get all the information that is available locally and undo it if he can do so. After all, peace commissioners should be men of standing, men of responsibility, and men of character in the community. They have very important functions to fulfil nowadays with regard to the filling of forms and the various other duties which they perform for the people. Men of character attached to all political Parties can be got in abundance for these positions.

I should like to add my voice to the appeal made on behalf of the District Court clerks. Their case has been put forward for a number of years past, particularly since the emergency. As the position stands at present, they have nothing to look forward to in the future. Their occupation is a blindalley one. They are growing older in the service and I should like to see their position made more secure. The previous Minister did something to improve their condition and I understand that last year he had some other [1841] ameliorative measures under consideration for the benefit of these District Court clerks. I should, therefore, like to add my voice to the appeal made by several Deputies on behalf of this deserving section of the public service.

Do labhair an Teachta Pádraig Ó Cuinneáin—is oth liom nach bhfuil sé anseo anois—i dtaobh ceapacháin áirithe a rinneadh le déanaí i dTiobraid Árann agus ghearán sé nach raibh Gaeilge ar bith ag aoinne díobh siúd a ceapadh. Ní foláir nó is fear anashimplí an Teachta Ó Cuinneáin má mheasann sé gur féidir “Aon mhaith do theacht as Israel”. Más dóigh leis go dtabharfaidh an Rialtas seo aon áird ar an nGaeilge maidir le líonadh post den tsórd so, tá breall air. Ní thabharfaidh an Rialtas so aon áird ar Ghaeilgeoirí.

C. Ó Liatháin: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Tabharfaidh, agus i bhfad níos mó ná mar a thug Fianna Fáil.

D. Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Más mar sin atá, is ait an tslí ina bhfuiltear á theaspáint. Cad tá le rá ag an Teachta Ó Liatháin i dtaobh an Rialtas a bheith ag cur deireadh le hobair an Choimisiúin Logainmneacha? Cad tá le rá aige i dtaobh an tslí ina mbíonn ceisteanna i nGaeilge anseo sa Dáil dá bhfreagairt i mBéarla?

C. Ó Liatháin: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Níl leigheas air sin.

D. Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Sin leathscéal deas! Tá leigheas ar gach rud, má tá fonn ar dhaoine an leigheas d'fháil. Níl an toil ann chuige. Sin mar atá an scéal.

C. Ó Liatháin: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Ní dhéanfaimid aon ní a chuirfeadh Fianna Fáil ar ais.

D. Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Tiocfaidh Fianna Fáil ar ais in am tráth agus ní bheidh tásc ná tuairisc ar an Teachta Conchubhar Ó Liatháin.

Bhíos ag tagairt don chainnt a rinne an Teachta Ó Cuinneáin. Má fhéachann sé siar thar dhromcladh na mblian, faid a bhí Fianna Fáil mar Rialtas, gheobhaidh sé amach gur líonadh cuid mhór phost den tsórt atá i gceist aige. Geobhaidh sé amach freisin gur Gaeilgeoir a toghadh gach aon uair a raibh [1842] Gaeilgeoir oiriúnach le fáil do gaci sórt poist.

Bhí an ceart ar fad ag an Teachta Ó Cuinneáin sa mhéid a dúirt sé agus aontaím go láidir leis, ach is eagal liom gur saothar in aisce againn a bheith ag caint.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  I would not have risen were it not for some statements made by Deputies. I join in the tribute paid to the new Minister, because he is the right man in the right place. I should also like to pay a tribute to his predecessor who had a hard and difficult job and did it very well. I was very pleased at the tributes paid to the Guards. For many years I know they got nothing but bricks and bullets for doing their duty. That day has passed and the Guards are now coming into their own. All Parties recognise the usefulness of the Guards. Deputy O'Reilly accused the Clann of attacking the Guards. I am their speeches and they were good and satisfied that the Clann did not attack the Guards. In fact I heard most of their speeches and they were good and satisfactory speeches. Deputy O'Reilly is one of the last men who ought to say anything on this matter. If he brought his mind back to what happened a few years ago in the town of Trim he would keep very quiet. Something happened there which was no credit to him or any of those connected with it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  How far back is that?

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  Only last year. At that time a band of drunken hooligans came into Trim from a local colony and created a shindy and started to beat up people there. To their credit, the local people struck back and gave them a trouncing which they will never forget. Deputy O'Reilly tried to interfere on behalf of the men from the colony and he was told by the Trim people to mind his own business. He very quickly took himself away then. Shortly afterwards, the sergeant who was responsible for seeing that peace and order would prevail in Trim got a very quick move. I am satisfied that he got that move because of political influence. I do not think that Deputy O'Reilly [1843] was 100 miles away from that influence. The people of Trim think he had a big hand in it. The Civic Guards are a splendid body of which we are all proud. From 1932 to 1945, however, a great deal of damage was done to the force. A certain type of people called Broy Harriers were brought into it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That has nothing to do with administration.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  Many of these were a public disgrace.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That has nothing to do with administration.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  Some of these men did a great deal of injury to the force. Some of them are still in the Guards.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I cannot allow the Deputy to go beyond one year's administration. The present Minister has no responsibility for that.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  I shall leave it at that. I am satisfied the Civic Guards to-day are not the force they were in the past. In many cases they have got lax, chiefly because of political influence brought to bear all over the country. They cannot do their duty fearlessly and well. They say to themselves: “What is the use? If I do my duty, I will be sent to Hell or to Connaught”. That is what happened to the police force. We have not the efficiency now that we had in the past. I hope the police force will be tightened up, because it needs tightening up. I am sorry to have to say these things, because the majority of the members of the force are a splendid body of men who do their work very well. But we have some men in the force who are no credit to it. In fact, most of the police force say that they would rather these men were not in the force. I know many of these men who are too fond of the publichouses. Plenty of them can be seen staggering back to their barracks. That is a thing that should not happen.

I know that many publichouses throughout the country can remain open all night, while other publichouses in the same town cannot stay [1844] open five minutes after closing time or the owners will be summoned. I should like to know how that happens in certain towns. I believe that will not happen in the future, because the change of Government will bring about a change of conditions and these things will be stopped. I know owners of publichouses who have made thousands of pounds' profit by remaining open after hours. They could keep their houses open all night if they liked. That was a disgrace and I hope it will not happen in the future. I am mentioning the matter to the Minister so that he can get it cleaned up.

The trespass by animals on the roads is a public disgrace. Horses, cattle, goats and asses are allowed to trespass on the roads and I have never heard of any of the owners being summoned. I know that Guards pass these animals on the roads and they never summon the owners. I do not want the Guards to summon the owners, but they should see that the owners take the animals off the roads. That is a duty which the Guards should carry out. With the present motor traffic on the roads, this trespass by animals should not be allowed. On top of that I see endless wagons of gypsies and tramps parked on the public highways. Some of these highways are quite narrow, and these gypsies, with perhaps 15 or 20 horses and donkeys, park there for four, five and even six days at a time. It would take perhaps 20 minutes to get by the string of them with all their horses and donkeys straying on the road and some of them lying asleep on the grassy edges of the road. One has to drive very carefully when one is passing those people and their animals. That state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. Gypsies and tramps should not be allowed to park on the public highways. They should be put into some byway where they will not interfere with the traffic.

I am satisfied that under the School Attendance Act there is a great deal of laxity. There are many cases of children mitching for weeks and, although the cases are reported, nothing seems to be done. The school inspection officer should do his duty conscientiously. At the same time I [1845] may say that I am proud of the Garda force. The majority of the members of it are splendid men of whom we can be proud. I know that they are doing their job well. Now that the force is clear of political entanglements I hope the Minister will give an order to the Gardaí to do their job without fear or favour and, if they do that, they will be respected. The force wants tightening up and the members of it know that well. They will be proud that I brought this matter up in the House to-day because they want to do their duty but they never got a chance.

Mr. McGrath: Information on Patrick McGrath  Zoom on Patrick McGrath  Some months ago the Cork Harbour Commissioners were informed of the immoral conduct on the Quays of Cork when the shipping returned at the end of the war. The clergy and others approached them and a committee was set up to advise on the matter. The Chief Superintendent of the Gardaí was a member of that committee too. He was very sympathetic and willing to help in every way he could but said that he had not sufficient Gardaí to put them regularly on the quays with a view to putting down this conduct. On the other hand we now find that the recruitment of Gardaí is being stopped. We, in Cork, hoped that with the advent of a lot of young Gardaí over the past few years there would be renewed activity by them in such matters as that which I have mentioned. I add my voice to the appeal made by the other Deputies to the Minister to review the question of recruitment.

Another matter which has been brought to my attention is the fact that Garda barracks are too far away from the new housing schemes that have been built around all the cities. My remarks in this connection would apply to Dublin City as well as to Cork City. There is a necessity for Garda barracks in the areas where those large housing schemes have been built. Like all the other speakers I must say that my experience of the Gardaí is that they have always attended to their duties and been helpful in every way. I do not believe that they were influenced by any political [1846] Party. I think they were far above that. I do not agree with the last speaker when he said that Fianna Fáil had an influence over the Gardaí. They were intelligent men and they carried out their duties efficiently.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Normally I do not speak on this Vote except when a matter arises in regard to which I think it is necessary in the public interest that those members of this House who feel strongly about certain fundamental principles should indicate precisely where they stand. The Minister for Justice holds perhaps, from the point of view of the ordinary citizen, the most important office in this State—for the first obligation of government is to preserve public order. Unless that be done there could be no security for life or property, no freedom and no safety for the individual. For that reason particular responsibility falls upon the present Minister. Personally, apart altogether from the policy which his Government represents and the Party for which he stands, I am glad that an old comrade has secured public office. That does not make me unmindful of the fact that he owes a particular obligation to this State. He is taking office at a time when respect for life and property is higher and more general than it has been for many years. That is due in no small measure to the courage and public spirit of his predecessor. The Minister has courage, energy and intelligence. He will have to use all those gifts to the full in order to discharge the heavy obligations that lie upon him. He will have to use them to the full in order to ensure that that respect for life and property which was made widespread in this country under the régime of his predecessor remains unimpaired.

I have no doubt that the present Minister will leave nothing undone that he can do to preserve that condition of affairs. No doubt, like his predecessor, he will have to do many things that in charity and in humanity he would wish to avoid. His task will be at all times difficult, and to sustain him he will require the loyal and steadfast support of all sections of this [1847] House. Not least will he require it from all those who claim to be his supporters and upon whom he depends for office. His predecessor was fortunate in that regard. He had the unstinted and unflinching support of every member of his Party. He was strong, as the present Minister will be strong, in having support from other quarters of the House as well. The present Minister is perhaps more fortunate than Deputy Boland was because there will be unanimous support from this side of the House for everything that the Minister does in order to preserve the peaceful condition of this country and to ensure the safety of the State.

Unless the Minister gets that support through thick and thin, particularly from those who sit on the benches behind him or on the benches to his left, it is doubtful whether, with all the desire in the world, he will be able to fulfil the obligations which the law imposes upon him. The Minister for Justice is responsible for the control and administration of those services in connection with law, justice, public order and police, and all powers, duties and functions connected therewith. According to the law these obligations include, in particular, the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and offices of the public services specified in the second part of the Schedule to the Ministers and Secretaries Act; and the first of these services is that of police. As I was saying, if the Minister does not get the unstinted, unflinching and steadfast support of those upon whose votes he depends in this House for his office, then I fear that he will be unable to do his duty by the people and by the State. Unfortunately for the Minister, unfortunately for the people, and unfortunately for the State, things have been said in the course of this debate by those who spoke for the Clann na Poblachta and Labour Parties which indicate that that support is not likely to be given to him without serious reservations.

Deputy Lehane is, I understand, Deputy-Leader of his Party. In the course of his speech he virtually accused a branch of the Garda [1848] Síochána of provoking crime and, larding his speech with references to “agent provocateur”, he went on to demand that the Minister, when the duties of his office permitted him—

“should set up a small and impartial tribunal, judicial or otherwise, to consider and examine the activities of that police force during the past 15 years.”

The reference is to Dáil Debates, 24th June, 1948, columns 173 and 174. That is a demand which is not calculated to help the Minister in dealing with those elements that still refuse to accept the verdict of the people and the Constitution of this State.

The Minister is well aware of the fact that there has been an attempt made during recent months to recruit for these organisations, organisations which a previous Government had to ban as illegal and unlawful. Deputy Cowan, speaking prior to Deputy Lehane, demanded that the Minister should make a special Order whereby, when public demonstrations in support of these illegal organisations are being held, demonstrations at which appeals are made for recruits to these organisations, the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána should not be permitted to go near the place where these demonstrations are being held.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I would appeal to the Chair that, if I am being quoted in this House, I must be quoted correctly.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  And fully.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  As far as I understand the Deputy is making a paraphrase. He is not presuming to quote.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I have no objection so long as he quotes me correctly.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  It is the report of the Irish Press.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not know what Deputy Cowan has in mind when he makes that demand.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  What demand? Quote the Deputy.

[1849]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  “I would say to the Minister that he should make a special Order that when these national commemorations”—that is what the Deputy described them as, but every person knows under whose auspices these national commemorations are being held. We all had the opportunity of reading recently in the newspapers the report of a speech which was delivered at one of these national commemorations.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  I am very glad to learn that Deputy MacEntee stigmatises national commemorations as illegal commemorations.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I know that for a number of years anniversaries, in which all Irish people take high pride, have been utilised by an organisation which was acting as the enemy of this State for a considerable number of years past and which was engaged in activities subversive to the State, as a cloak to enable these people to make a public appeal for recruits for its ranks.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Hamar Greenwood used to say that.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  He was only trotting after Deputy MacEntee.

Mr. B. Brady: Information on Bryan Myles Brady  Zoom on Bryan Myles Brady  Anyhow that organisation has repudiated you people.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  They had good reason to repudiate you.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We all know that these occasions are made use of by the people whom I have in mind, and about whom Deputy Cowan and Deputy Lehane appear to be so tenderly concerned, in order to recruit young men and boys into organisations which have been declared by successive Governments of this State to be unlawful and illegal organisations. They are organisations which we, as members of a former Government know, were at one time actively engaged in plotting to bring about an invasion of this country.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  That is not so.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Deputy presumably speaks with the authority of [1850] one who was within the councils of these organisations.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  The Deputy knows that is not so. Dr. Ryan and Stephen Hayes probably know more about it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Unless Deputy Lehane is in a position to disclose to the House the fact that he is in the confidence of these organisations, or unless he is in a position to assure the House that he knows no less about their activities than those of us who were members here during that critical period, then I suggest that his word in regard to these matters carries no weight.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Deputy MacEntee's view on the Republic does not matter.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It matters a good deal more than the view of Deputy Lehane, who can no longer call himself a Republican.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Deputy Lehane did not desert his post during the fight against the British, anyway.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Let us keep to the debate. Deputy MacEntee is in possession.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  He did not hide in a convent.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I never hid in a convent in my life. You were not even in your cradle at the time so keep quiet. I know the purpose of these interruptions. It is somewhat unpleasant for Deputy Cowan and others to listen to what they said in this debate. I am not worried about what was said except for the effect which these statements may have upon members of the Garda Síochána, and upon members of these organisations whose activities it is the duty of the members of the Garda Síochána to supervise, and for the difficulties which they may create for the latter and for the Minister himself, whom these Deputies purport to support, in discharging the obligations of his office. It is about these things that I am concerned.

I was saying that Deputy Cowan had gone so far as to request; we know the request—an ultimatum with a veneer [1851] on it. Deputy Cowan had gone so far as to request that the Special Branch should not be permitted to go near the place at which these so-called commemoration ceremonies are being held. Deputy Lehane, following suit, went even further. I will say this for Deputy Cowan: he did not at all suggest that the members of the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána were acting as agent provocateur, or that they were endeavouring to create crime, or manufacture crime, as Deputy Lehane suggested, to justify themselves in their jobs. He did not make an attack upon the officer upon whom has been placed an onerous and dangerous responsibility as head of the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána. That was left to the deputy leader of his Party, who had as an ally Deputy Dunne, who suggested that it is time this force should no longer be maintained. He was modest, but still there they were, the great triumvirate, hunting together, and not for the first time, trying to induce or persuade or coerce the Minister to disband a branch of the Garda Síochána which deserves well of the people of the country.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I must remind the Deputy of 1932.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The circumstances that exist in 1948 and those which existed in 1932 are very different, and that difference is due entirely to the leadership given to the Irish people by the Deputy who was then Taoiseach.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  This is totally irrelevant.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I know it is, but Deputy Cowan has endeavoured to make a parallel between the circumstances which existed in 1932 and the circumstances which exist to-day. The Deputy is sitting in this House now, but he had not to subscribe to any test when he came into it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy ought to come back to the Estimate.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  He came here under a Constitution that cannot be challenged [1852] in any court except the Supreme Court of this land. The Deputy is doing that because of what was done by the Deputies who sit on these benches in order to rectify the Constitutional position. I am sorry that I allowed myself to be led into a digression, but it is necessary that we should make it quite clear in the mind of Deputies here, and of people outside this House who might be misled by such interjections as that for which Deputy Cowan has been responsible, that there is a very great difference, a vast gulf, between the Constitutional position to-day and the Constitutional position of 1932.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  The subject of the adjournment debate to-night shows where we are Constitutionally.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Deputy Lehane suggested that the activities of the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána would justify the Minister in setting up a special tribunal, judicial or otherwise, he said. What sort of tribunal it would be if it was not to be judicial, or a tribunal which could approach a question with judicial impartiality, I do not know. Perhaps it might be that sort of tribunal which exists in other countries towards which some Deputies are popularly believed to have certain hankerings, and for whose systems they are supposed to cherish a special affection. The tribunals in those countries, when they are set up, do not consider the question presented to them in a manner which is judicial.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  We are not concerned with what sort of tribunal is set up in other States.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  The Minister could use the military court.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I know we are not concerned with tribunals set up in other countries, but the Deputy advocated the setting up of a tribunal here, judicial or otherwise.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Is it necessary to tell the House about the tribunals that are set up in other countries in order to illustrate the Deputy's argument?

[1853]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No, I do not propose to do that, but I suggest there might be one country——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  This State is the only State to which the Deputy must refer when he is speaking about setting up tribunals.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Deputy Lehane said we should set up an impartial tribunal, judicial or otherwise, to consider and examine the activities of what he describes as “that political police force” during the past 15 years. Deputy Lehane is a lawyer and I suppose he must have read the Garda Síochána Act. He knows that this House, when it passed that Act, took pains to ensure that the police force would not be a political force, and that the control and administration of the police is vested, not in the Minister, but in the commissioner. The commissioner is responsible to the Minister for the efficiency, the organisation and the good conduct of the police force, but, as has been testified here time and time again during the debate, the Minister has no power over any single element in that force.

I can say that, during the period when we were in office, every promotion to commissioned rank in that force, while it was made by the Government, was made in full accord with the recommendation of the commissioner, and the commissioner, in making his recommendation, was guided by a promotion board which sat to consider the qualifications of candidates for promotion. The commissioner invariably, as far as I know, accepted the recommendations of that promotion board, and the Government invariably accepted the recommendation of the commissioner, unless—and I do not recollect a single case——

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  You dismissed the commissioner.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Precisely; when we were satisfied that a change was necessary we did, because that is where a duty and an obligation lie on the Government. If the Government of the day is not satisfied with the condition [1854] of the police force under the control of the then commissioner; if it is not satisfied that the force is impartial, that it is efficient and well disciplined, then it is the solemn duty of the Government to make such change in the commissionership as will ensure that these deficiencies in the Garda Síochána will be rectified. Whenever over the 15 or 16 years we were in office, we had to make changes, the people whom we selected were people who could not be accused of having any Party affiliation with us.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  How does this arise?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It has been suggested that by changing the commissioner the Government could exercise political influence over the force. That statement is not well-founded and there is no justification——

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  There was no commissioner changed in the last 12 months. It is true that you sacked two, but I am not responsible for that.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Precisely.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  In the administration during the last 12 months no commissioner has been sacked.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  All I can say is that if there is any content in the interjection for which Deputy Cowan is responsible, it is to suggest that the present commissioner is a person who is politically biased.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  That is what they call MacEntee logic.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is the implication which is carried by the interruption for which the Deputy was responsible.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I should like to point out that every interruption of Deputy Cowan is not in order. As a matter of fact, every interruption is disorderly.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I agree, Sir, except that it did raise an issue which I think it is necessary to clarify—that is to make it quite clear that as far as the [1855] Legislature could secure it, ours is not a political police force.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The administration of the Minister for the last 12 months—that is the only thing that it is necessary to clarify.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think that in a debate of this sort, if I might respectfully say so, touching the Department of Justice, it is important that the public should not be left——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Everything that is important is not relevant. The Deputy should remember that. There are many things of importance that are not relevant to this debate. The Deputy must confine himself to the administration of the Department for the last 12 months.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  A little more than that, I respectfully suggest. Are Deputies not entitled to answer criticism?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  If the Deputy were to answer all the interruptions the debate on this Estimate would never conclude.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I am not dealing with interruptions. I am dealing with the statement made by Deputy Lehane that the Minister had set up a political police force——

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  May I suggest that the Minister in introducing this Vote made a certain statement in regard to policy for the future and policy within the last financial year? I suggest that an experienced Deputy like Deputy MacEntee should address himself to that.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  What we are concerned about, and the Minister knows it, is that, not merely is the policy of the Minister——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  There is no reference to policy in this Vote.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Very well, then, it must be on the question of administration. Is the police force, under the present Minister and his predecessor, part of whose administration is covered [1856] by the Vote of last year, a political Party police force? That is the issue which has been raised by Deputy Lehane.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  It was never suggested.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Of course. Deputy Lehane's words are as light as air and have as little substance.

Mr. Lehane:  The reference was to the special section set up by the Deputy's colleague.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  In view of that, am I not in order in dealing with the special section which Deputy Lehane calls a special Party police force? Why does he say that? Why have Deputy Lehane, Deputy Cowan and, to a much lesser extent, Deputy Dunne, chosen to attack the Special Branch in this way? Have they done it to undermine the confidence of the people in the bona fides of the force? Why do they want to do that? I cannot, of course, do more than surmise what is in their minds.

Deputy Cowan's speech, however, was in that regard rather illuminating. He said that not merely last year but over a period of years there was a serious conflict between the citizens and that branch of the Gardaí. I am not aware that there was any conflict between the general body of citizens and the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána. On the contrary, I think that so far as the general body of the citizens were concerned, they held the Special Branch in high admiration and esteem —admiration for their courage and esteem for the men who were as zealous to the public service as the members of this branch had shown themselves to be in trying and difficult circumstances.

When these members of the Special Branch were maligned and vilified, the general body of the citizens condemned those who were responsible for the slanders on them and commended the members of the Special Branch for the way in which, regardless of any personal feelings, they acted with impartiality, and with a strict sense of justice towards all men. Not only however are Deputy Lehane and those who have [1857] been associated with him concerned to undermine the confidence of the people in the integrity of the special branch but Deputy Lehane went further and, in order to undermine the discipline of the police, commented on the activities of one of the officers who had been promoted to the onerous and highly critical position of superintendent in charge of the special branch. I want to refer the Deputy to column 173 in which he is reported in these terms:

“I think it is a pity that there was appointed as titular head of the special branch of the Gardaí an officer whose activities, as known to quite a number of Deputies in this House, were calculated to provoke disorder rather than preserve peace. I say it is a pity that this appointment was made.”

I would ask any responsible Deputy or any responsible citizen in this country to consider that statement and to ask themselves how it is going to react upon the discipline of the members of that special branch? How it is going to react upon the facility with which the superintendent of the special branch is going to be able to discharge his duties? Is it not quite clear that if there happen to be insubordinate and unruly members in that force as there may be—I do not know—they can look over the head of their superior, whose invidious duty it may sometimes be to enforce discipline and maintain order, to Deputy Lehane, who is here in Dáil Éireann, and on whose vote the Minister for Justice depends if he is to retain office? They can say: “If my superior officer, if the superintendent in charge of my branch, reports me for any type of infraction or breach of the regulations, if he intends to punish me for them, I can go over his head, because Deputy Lehane is sitting here in Dáil Éireann, and one or two or three or four Deputies who are all vital elements in the majority that maintains the Government, can make representations to the Minister on my behalf.” If there is any element in the special branch, any single member of the branch, who is likely to be disloyal, who is mercenary, who is capable of being bought, will he, if he is guilty [1858] of any active disloyalty, any act of treachery to his comrades— as, remember, during the period of the emergency one or two were— will he say that he has some devil's advocate here to whom he can turn, who will be prepared to come up here and say that the superintendent who is responsible for ensuring that such a man will not remain in the special branch is a person whose activities “were calculated to provoke disorder rather than to preserve the peace.”

Sir, the officer who is being attacked in those terms is an officer who deserves well of the people of this State.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Since when?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  He is a man with as good an I.R.A. record as any one, in the times when the I.R.A. was a name to be proud of, before it was used as a cloak to cover a multitude of crimes. He was not a political supporter of ours, as far as I know, at any time. He is a man who was loyal to this State and to the Government of this State, a man who was prepared to serve it to the utmost extent of his ability without any regard for himself, for his safety or for the safety of his family. He is a man to whom this country owes a great deal. He and those who were associated with him in the special branch, at a time when many people here would have invited many strange guests to our shores, when there was plot and counter-plot going on here——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  This is leading to——

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Sir, I am entitled to deal with this matter since the person to whom I refer is being attacked. This man who has been attacked by Deputy Lehane in the terms I have recited, is a man who, with his colleagues, prevented these plots from coming to fruition. If we came safely through the war, if the dangers were much less than, in fact, they might have been, if we were preserved from many of the horrors of war, we owe it in no small measure to the services given by “the present titular head” as Deputy Lehane describes him, of the special branch and to those other officers and men associated with him [1859] in that particular branch of the Guards.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  And to the cordial relations between Fianna Fáil and the British Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy must be heard without interruption.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That, Sir, should be known to every man, woman and child in this country, because they owe a great debt to these men, a debt which I hope we shall never forget. If their character or integrity is called into question without reasonable cause— and there is no cause that I know of —one of us should at least stand up and testify on their behalf.

It has been urged by three Deputies, Deputy Lehane, Deputy Cowan and Deputy Dunne, that the special branch should be disbanded. I think that would be a great mistake. The need for a special branch is greater in my view than ever. The Minister must know that, as any person who has had intimate contact with what is going on in this country and going on in the world outside must know it, there is a world-wide organisation infiltrating into every State, infiltrating agents who come in many guises, sometimes posing as extreme patriots, sometimes as advanced humanitarians, lovers of their country, friends of the workers, champions of the poor. That is what they hold themselves out to be, while all the time they are acting here on behalf of a power which hopes to encompass the world in its influence, of a power which is operating through what some people describe as a new religion. It has its agents in every country and it has them here no less than elsewhere, and in many guises.

It is the special responsibility of the Minister for Justice to be responsible for public order. We have operating in this State an organisation existing under many forms, an organisation open and secret. As an open organisation it exists under all sorts of harmless aliases. It may appear at one time as a social club; at another time [1860] it may appear as an advanced workers' organisation; at another time as an organisation operating for the advancement of a particular form of culture, but the agents are all associated with each other. They are all linked up with each other in a very peculiar way, in a way which will be familiar to those who have been members of a revolutionary organisation. They do not all know each other. It is only the chosen few at the top who have a fairly full knowledge of who, in fact, are in the organisation and who are not in the organisation. The organisation contains many people who pretend and purport in public not to be in it, who purport to be opposed to it. Their general technique is that of infiltration. They start by bringing people in on the outskirts, but they permeate these societies and send their agents in. That technique is being pursued in this country and I say that the Minister cannot deny that. Those who have studied the matter are as positive of it as I am in making the assertion that I am making. It is well known; ecclesiastics have spoken about it and others have spoken about it.

It is all very well for Deputies in the House to jibe and jeer, but we have the experience of other countries to guide us, even if we had not the knowledge which, in fact, we have. We know what was exposed in Canada by a judicial investigation and what was exposed elsewhere. We know that on the other side of the water, even a Labour Government have had to take special measures to ensure that their public services will be free from those elements, those elements which, let me repeat, are as active in this country as elsewhere. They have one idea, to overturn the established order of things here by revolution or by evolution. But, one way or the other, it does not matter which, they are working for the overthrow of this State and everything that the State stands for. One of the special obligations of the Minister for Justice is to maintain and preserve public order here. He is responsible in particular for all the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches of the public service which are concerned with the preservation of public order.

[1861]Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  On a point of order. Is the Deputy entitled to repeat the speeches that used to be made by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney about 15 years ago word for word?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Or Deputy MacEoin. I am not making the speech that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney made 15 years ago. I am a little bit better informed than he was 15 years ago, and a great deal has been done over that period to bring the gravity of this menace home to us than it was then. It was only in its infancy at that time. It has grown since. Admittedly, it has grown with the power that has been responsible for this world-wide organisation. However, that is not the point. The point is that this is a subversive movement, that these subversive elements exist in this community, that they are operating in this community, and that it is the duty of the Minister who is specially charged with the preservation of law and order to ensure that these elements will be kept under observation and control. That is his particular function. That is what the special branch exists to do, to enable him to keep these organisations under observation, and, with the help, if necessary, of the other forces of the State, to keep them under control.

A demand has been made that the Minister who is charged with the preservation of public order should divest himself of the instrument by which these agencies to which I have referred are kept under observation. The Deputies who have demanded that the special branch should be disbanded must no doubt have reasons of their own. I do not know whether they speak in ignorance or in malice. If they speak in ignorance of what has happened in the world around them, I am astounded. The other alternative I can leave to the House to weigh up for itself. But that is, in fact, the issue that has been raised in this debate. Let me repeat that Deputies are asking that the Minister for Justice should deprive himself of those agents or instruments by means of which he can keep those subversive forces and organisations under observation. They are asking [1862] him, in fact, to deprive himself of his eyes and ears—the Minister who should be alert in the public interest to everything that is going on in this country.

The Department of Justice has not been created and the Minister for Justice has not been appointed merely to administer judicial patronage or to administer the police force. He has been called to that high and onerous office because he has a particular duty to perform in the interests of the safety of this State, a duty which affects every citizen in his daily life and every minute of it. Therefore, we cannot talk lightly about this matter and we cannot take lightly the issue which has been raised in this debate. The Minister is not going to be misled or fooled or cajoled or even coerced by Deputies Lehane, Cowan and Dunne. I have no doubt whatever that he will recognise, as all sensible, reasonable and loyal citizens must recognise, the need for maintaining the special branch in the highest state of efficiency; the need to support it if it should happen to have to discharge difficult and dangerous duties in the future as it had to do in the past. So far as the Minister is concerned and those members of the Government opposite and those members of the Parties opposite who support that Government, in so far as they require our moral or active support to deal with the forces to which I have referred they are assured of getting it fully and without any stint.

Minister for Justice (General MacEoin): Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  I want to thank Deputies on all sides of the House for the many points of view they have expressed on this Vote. I assure them that I appreciate very fully the many points they have brought to my notice. Perhaps I might be permitted to thank the Deputy who has just sat down for giving me a fine lecture upon what my duties are in regard to the maintenance of law and order. I suppose the best thing I can do is to thank him for it and say that it is a great thing that we both think the one way. In my opinion, the tributes to the Garda Síochána are well deserved. So far as I am concerned, while I am Minister for Justice everything that I can do to assist them in [1863] carrying out the duties and obligations they have undertaken I will do. The special branch are a section of the Garda which has been established to perform certain functions. It is true that for a great number of years their activities were directed towards one section of the community. I think that that day has gone. There are other duties, however, which they must perform and which the Government and the people expect them to perform. I hope that they will perform these duties efficiently and loyally.

I have been criticised for the suspension of recruitment for the Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána were established about 25 or 26 years ago, and they were thrown rapidly into a gap that had to be filled. For many reasons there has not been from that day to this a systematic survey of the whole question of recruitment. I, therefore, suspended recruitment when I came into office in order to give myself an opportunity to make a survey of the whole situation of the Garda Síochána. It is only a temporary suspension and recruitment will be opened up at the earliest possible moment when I see the road clearly before me. I am perfectly satisfied that a Garda force of proper strength is very essential and can never be eliminated. I must take notice of the many duties thrown upon the Garda. There is hardly a Department of State for which the Garda do not do some work altogether outside their police duties. I am having that matter examined so that I may be able to make the life of a policeman a little bit better than it was last year or the year before or 20 years ago.

Recently I gave an interview to the representative body. They certainly made a case which deserves and demands from me sympathetic and careful consideration relating to pay, pension, hours of duty and so on. I am having that matter examined and I can assure the representative body and the Gardaí that I will do everything possible to meet their requirements and to see to it that they will get a fair deal from the State to which they have rendered such good service.

On the question of discipline, I agree [1864] with Deputy Cowan that it would facilitate matters if there was an orderly. Of course, the orderly room relates to the Army. There are so many men in a battalion that a commanding officer can almost call the men and, if they have been bad boys the night before, say: “Four hours' pack drill will do this. Half-a-crown fine will do that”. With five Gardaí in a station, to put it in plain language, it would be very hard to give any one of them five hours' pack drill when he has already done 100 hours in the week.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  My suggestion to the Minister was confined to Dublin.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  I am going to examine that matter and leave it to the commissioner who is fully responsible for discipline. It would be a good thing in the City of Dublin, Cork, or Limerick, where there is a fair number, but the old file system is a good one, because, notwithstanding what Deputy Cowan says, the Garda does get a fair opportunity of seeing what is against him in black and white. Unless he is a fool he should take a copy of what is written against him, and when he is replying he should keep a copy of what he said. In every case I have been up against so far when you ask him what the file charged him with he says that he does not know, and when you ask what he wrote in reply he does not know. That is just putting one too much over on me. I cannot accept that view. If that were true he would not be a good policeman. It would be a charge in itself to show that he was not fit for his job. I am not going to develop the point of the patrol system in Dublin. I have had a report on it. It is true to say that a great deal of the crime in this city happens between certain hours. The commissioner or the deputy commissioner of the Gardaí came to the conclusion that by spreading out this system the city would be better covered by a patrol system. While there has been a reduction in crime during that period and while there has been success as a result of that measure, it is, however, too soon to approve of it, and it is too soon to condemn it. Therefore, I must wait [1865] a bit further until I have the system fully examined.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I should be glad if the Minister would look into the question of the hours as well.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  The grand hour for the fellow who wants to smash the crib is between 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock in the morning. Therefore we have to try to make it impossible, if we can, for that individual. Please do not ask me to develop that point any further.

I do not think that there was any degree of attack upon the special branch or upon the officer who is the titular head of that branch. This Government promoted that officer after full consideration of his merits, on the recommendation of the commissioner. The Minister for Justice has only what is known as a very nominal duty to perform in that regard. I can assure Deputy C. Lehane and every Deputy in this House that that man would not. like myself, grace a drawing room well but that he is a good officer. It is true that the eyes of the unit are now in another direction. He can serve and render service of a very important type and I am satisfied with his honesty and ability. I hoped and believed firmly that on the day on which I opened the gaol gates it was the last time in the history of this country that such a situation would arise.

Mr. Boland:  Hear, hear.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  I am not going to follow this matter of victimisation out. I do not believe anything happened in the last 12 months. Whatever step I may take in that regard does not arise now.

The matter of road traffic, as the Deputies know, is one for the Minister for Local Government. However, I will bring the matter to his notice and perhaps by a little co-ordination we might do something to reduce the loss of life on the roads at the present time.

On the question of prisons, it is true that the housing conditions for the warders of the prisons are not as good as we should like them to be. There is only one house with a bath in it. That is true. But we are only a few months in office and, for goodness' [1866] sake, do not ask us to do it overnight. There is also the point that there is no place for a bath in the houses. We will have to do something about it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Will it be done before this time next year?

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  Well, I do not know. All I can do is this——

Mr. Boland:  The Minister is not a prophet.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  If the Deputy would like one of the houses which I will have next year I will give him a present of one.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  You will be a few months longer in office then.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  He will make improvements before 16 years are out.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  I will do my best within the year to improve conditions for all these warders.

Now again the question of bars and dances, I would point out that is not my responsibility. The law is quite clear. I should like to avail of this opportunity to appeal to everybody concerned to use discretion in the powers that the Oireachtas has given them in the granting of these licences, because in my opinion it is a situation that can be fraught with grave danger.

I should like to say a word upon counsels' fees in the Circuit Court. As I said in reply to a question, this matter is being examined. I have the rules with the Attorney-General at the moment and I hope that a decision will be given at an early date.

Land registry fees have given me a good deal of trouble and concern. I think it is very desirable that land registry and everything connected with it should be simplified. Because the fees are high the inclination is to do nothing. At the present moment two-thirds of the farms—and that is, I admit, a very high number—are unregistered or not properly registered in their present owners.

The patience of the District Court clerks must be nearly exhausted. I want to assure them that their present position is no fault of mine; nor do I think it was the fault of my predecessor. [1867] We have reached a stage now when a decision must come. I cannot say any more at the moment except to assure these officers that I appreciate their patience very much and that I hope their patience will be amply rewarded in the very near future.

With regard to jurors' expenses, this is a very important matter. I am examining into it but I think it would be a pity to depart from that tradition of every citizen doing his duty in the interests of all. The right of a man to be tried by his own peers is an important one. Once the element of payment enters into it jurors will be regarded, as it were, as officials of the State. I do not want to prejudge the issue but I think it would be a pity to change now from a system that has prevailed for so long.

There are many other points to which I would like to refer, but I do not think the interests of the State would be served by travelling too long or too far. I regret some of the things that have been said in the course of this debate on both sides of the House. I do not think it was in the interests of the State that such references should have been made. Ours is a great country and we have a great tradition behind us. I think we can hold that tradition and hold the country against all comers. I want the support of all Deputies on both sides of this House in maintaining that great tradition of ours.

Vote put and agreed to.


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