The Republic of Ireland Bill, 1948—Second Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 25 November 1948

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 113 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 29 Next Page Last Page

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I will not disagree with those Deputies who, speaking here yesterday, said that what is happening now is important. I think, however, that some of the speeches which were delivered from the benches opposite may confuse the public mind as to what is happening. I think the important feature of these discussions is not so much the Bill which is before the House, the name or the form or the purpose of that Bill, as the fact that a Bill with that name and purpose has been introduced here by a coalition Government, led by the Fine Gael Party. I think it is important that there is now an acceptance by that Party, by the Clann na Poblachta Party and the other groups making up the coalition, of the republican status of this State, which was established by the Constitution. I think it is important that this step which they are now taking should bring to an end, as it must bring to an end, the opposition to that Constitution which was maintained since its enactment: that it must end the misrepresentation of its provisions, because it is obvious that from this date forward such misrepresentation [479] will not be possible. That is important. It may, in the course of time, prove to be very important.

So far as the Deputies on this side of the House are concerned, it is also very welcome. It is welcome because it removes an impediment which may not have been a very serious impediment, but it was serious enough, to the proper working of this State. It puts outside the limits of party controversy the constitutional basis for political action. Those who opposed the Constitution, who urged its rejection by the people in the plebiscite upon it, whether they did so from a misunderstanding of its provisions or merely from party motives, are, by withdrawing from that position now, contributing to the national welfare, and I am prepared to give them full credit for that. I may say also that I do not want to ask them to make any public act of regret or repentance—so far as I am concerned the introduction of this Bill by them is good enough—but when I say that I want to add that they must not ask us either to concede, by speech or by silence, in fact or by implication, that we think that their opposition to the enactment of that Constitution was justified on any grounds whatever.

I want to deny as emphatically as I can what I think were the three basic contentions in the speech delivered here yesterday by the Taoiseach. First, I deny that our development to republican status was inherent in the Treaty of 1922, or consequential on the acceptance of that Treaty, or in any way facilitated by that Treaty. I deny, despite the many self-righteous speeches we heard from Deputies opposite yesterday, that the present attitude of the Fine Gael Party on these matters is consistent with the past actions or past declarations of that Party which we opposed and which we asked the people of this country to repudiate. I deny also that there is now, or ever was, any ambiguity or doubt concerning the republican character of our Constitution, except such doubts as were created by Deputies opposite for party purposes.

[480] The Taoiseach gave us here yesterday a picture of constitutional developments proceeding continuously, proceeding in unbroken succession, from the acceptance of the Treaty—for one period, under the guidance of the pro-Treaty Cumann na nGaedheal Government, and, for another period, under the guidance of the anti-Treaty Fianna Fáil Government. I say that that picture is false, that it is in complete conflict with known historical facts. I have no desire to revive any of the controversies about that dead Treaty, but, if the Taoiseach thought it desirable, from his Party point of view, to put on record here yesterday an interpretation of the history of those controversies, which I consider to be false, then I will briefly put on record the true interpretation. I say that the picture which the Taoiseach presented here yesterday was made plausible only by reason of the fact that he suppressed from his recital of events the most significant of them and selected for reference only such as would help to build up the picture he was presenting.

It is not true, as I said yesterday, that the Treaty gave us freedom to achieve freedom. I will admit that many of those who voted for the Treaty in the Dáil and many of those who accepted the Treaty in the country may have done so in the belief that it gave us freedom to achieve freedom. I know that that argument was advanced at the time, and I know that it influenced many people, but it was not true. It certainly was not intended by the British to confer any such freedom on this country. It was, so far as the British were concerned, the maximum concession to Irish national aspirations which Irish resistance and world opinion forced them to concede, and was intended by them as a final settlement, the acceptance of which by our people was ensured by a threat of force. Whatever may have been the case advanced for its acceptance, however, whatever may have induced members of the Dáil at that time and the people throughout the country to vote for its acceptance, it is an historical fact that the Treaty was not used as an instrument to help us to achieve [481] freedom. It is an historical fact that those who accepted it, whatever their original intentions, ultimately came to the point at which they used every method, every force and every guile to make it effective, and to prevent its being used even by those who had been associated with them in its acceptance as an instrument to achieve freedom.

The Taoiseach represented the effect of the Treaty as putting the State which the Treaty established, the State which replaced the republic which they had destroyed, in a position to benefit by the constitutional progress of British Dominions and he referred specifically to the Statute of Westminister, an Act of the British Parliament which defined the powers by which these Dominions might make constitutional progress. It is surely relevant to the case he was trying to make, the case that the Bill he is now proposing to the Dáil is consistent with what Deputy O'Higgins called the national traditions of Fine Gael and a logical consequence of the Treaty, to refer to what happened here when the Statute of Westminister was under consideration by the British Parliament. When that statute was before the British Parliament as a Bill, an amendment was proposed by Mr. Winston Churchill to make it clear that the statute could not have the effect of giving to this Dáil the power to alter the position created by the Treaty.

When that amendment was proposed, the then leader of Fine Gael, the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State of that date, wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, in which he gave him an assurance that the Statute of Westminster would not be used to alter the Treaty position, that they regarded the Treaty as an international agreement, binding upon this country, an agreement which could not be altered except with the consent of the British Government. The case which was presented here on the basis of the Statute of Westminster, the case that because, subsequent to the enactment of the Treaty, the Statute of Westminster made it possible then, if it had not been possible before, to use the instrument of the Treaty as [482] a means of securing a greater measure of freedom here, falls to the ground once that fact is remembered.

Surely, if there was any validity in that case at all, the Taoiseach could not have said what he said here yesterday in relation to the Bill for the repeal of the oath. He said that he and his colleagues in Fine Gael opposed that Bill in the Dáil, even though they knew it represented the will of the vast majority of the Irish people, because they regarded themselves as bound in honour to do so on account of the acceptance of the Treaty. The Taoiseach quoted various speeches which were made during the constitutional debates of that time, culminating in the Twenty-Seventh Amendment of the Free State Constitution in 1936, in an effort to show that the attitude of his Party then was consistent with their action now. He stated that they felt themselves bound to maintain the Treaty, bound to resist every move to amend the position created by the Treaty, until in 1937 the British Government admitted that the Treaty was dead. If any Deputy takes the trouble of going back to the record of those debates, he will find, however, that that was not the case that was made by the present Taoiseach and his Fine Gael colleagues. They did not argue then against the changes which were proposed on the ground that, however desirable they might be, we could not make them without breaking the Treaty. They argued in favour of preserving the position established by the Treaty as better than the position that would result from the changes.

The Minister for External Affairs issued a public statement yesterday or the day before—a controversial public statement, even though it came from the Government Information Bureau— in which he purported to set out evidence that members of all Parties in the present Government had in the past opposed the External Relations Act and therefore were acting consistently with their pasts in seeking to repeal it now. Everybody knows that that statement was false, that while it is true that there was opposition to the enactment of the External Relations Act, that opposition was a consequence of the Constitution [483] Amendment Act with which it was associated. That Act, at the time it was made, was the most considerable constitutional advance that had been made since the Treaty. They were opposing the advance which that Act represented. They were not in opposition to it because they wanted to declare a republic, they were not in opposition to it because they thought we were limiting in any sense the national advance: they opposed it because they thought it was going too far; and to represent that opposition now as being consistent with their action in supporting the introduction of this Bill is to strain public credulity.

It is true that the Fine Gael Party, and the Government which from 1922 to 1932 it constituted, was bound by the Treaty. It is true that they resisted every move, both from those who opposed the Treaty and those who had genuinely accepted it as a possible stepping-stone to freedom, to alter the position which was established. That situation ended in 1932. We did not regard ourselves as bound by a Treaty imposed upon the country by threat of force and we set out to remove, one by one, the shackles upon national independence which it imposed. They disappeared completely with the Twenty-Seventh Amendment of the Free State Constitution. The final and formal ending of that whole Treaty position followed on the approval of the present Constitution by popular vote. That act of the people destroyed the State which the Treaty established and substituted for it this republican State which we now have.

It may not be very important to show that the present attitude of the Fine Gael Party is inconsistent with their past. If it has any importance at all, it arises from one aspect of it and one aspect only. Deputy de Valera said here yesterday that, when we take a step of this kind, we must take it with determination that we will not retrace it. We, who have seen in our lifetime a republican State proclaimed and betrayed, and anxious that under no circumstances should the difficulties which resulted reappear here, must size up the situation, and in doing so take note of these previous declarations [484] of policy made by the Fine Gael Party before they entered the present Coalition. The Taoiseach set out to prove yesterday—he had a difficult task, but he did the best he could with it—that this step is not inconsistent with his own past declarations or with the past policy of his Party. I think he would have been far straighter with those who elected him and elected his Party colleagues if he had not made that attempt. They could not possibly wipe out the written word of previous years.

I mentioned yesterday as one significant fact which destroyed the whole case that he was trying to make, that when in 1937 that process of constitutional change was coming to an end, in the election of that year in connection with which the plebiscite on the Constitution was conducted, the Fine Gael Party published, by means of paid advertisements in the newspapers, a declaration of their policy in the following words: “To restore”— again I emphasise the use of the word “restore”—“the position of this State as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.” I refer to Deputy Mulcahy's declaration as President of Fine Gael at the 1944 Convention, that his Party stood unequivocally for full membership of the Commonwealth. These statements are on record. They cannot be ignored. Because of them, there is no doubt whatever that many hundreds and thousands of Irish citizens gave support to that Party and support in the belief that they intended to adhere to those declarations.

It is undesirable that there should appear to be any breach of faith. If the Fine Gael section of the Government has in fact now decided that its past policy was wrong—and I admit they are entitled to change their policy —if, seeing the national position from the viewpoint of Ministers, they decided that their policy when in opposition was nationally undesirable, it is much better that they should publicly announce the change, state all the facts which led to it and justify making the change rather than they should attempt now to deny that any change had occurred. If there has been a [485] change—and I take it despite the Taoiseach's attempt yesterday that is beyond question—then we are glad, but we would much prefer that the change was justified by arguments, the validity of which we ourselves could recognise and approve.

The Taoiseach spoke at considerable length about newspapers which were attacking him and his Government because of their decision to introduce this Bill. Let me say, straight away, that I have no sympathy whatever with the Irish Times, or with any of the people who were induced by the Irish Times to give their political support to Fine Gael. The Irish Times supported the establishment of this Coalition Government although they must have known, as everybody else knows, that it has no merits——

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Wait and see.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  ——except one merit, in the view of the editor of the Irish Times, that its formation put Deputy de Valera out of office. They must have known that it is in the nature of coalitions that the Parties comprising them must forget their election promises, must, in greater or lesser degree, betray those who elected them as independent groups. There was very little grief displayed by the Irish Times, very little shedding of editorial tears, because they thought that Clann na Poblachta in joining the Coalition had been induced to break faith with those republicans who supported them and still far less tears because they thought the Labour Party in joining the Coalition were breaking faith with the workers. Even when talk began here of the repeal of the External Relations Act there was at first very little evidence of perturbation on behalf of the Irish Times because they thought it was merely a Coalition stunt to dish “Dev,” and so long as the aim was to dish Deputy de Valera, then the editor of the Irish Times was prepared to shout “Up the Republic” as loud as any Deputy opposite. So far as the Irish Times and all those who take their guidance from it are concerned, they can stop bleating. They are getting exactly what they deserve.

[486] May I say this, that any anxiety which may have been aroused in commercial circles or elsewhere by suggestions that the change which this Bill will effect—the general recognition of our republican status by all Parties— will be detrimental to our economic welfare will, I am convinced, be allayed by events. It has always been our view, and even the editor of the Irish Times may come round some day to realise its truth, that the economic and social progress of the Irish people can be assured only in conditions of full political freedom. Nobody who wants to live, to work or to trade here need have any anxiety because of our republican status or of any further developments there may be towards the realisation of the full national goal.

The Taoiseach yesterday spent a great deal of his time endeavouring to establish the point that there was misunderstanding concerning the status of this State under the Constitution. He referred mainly to international jurists, but, as Deputy de Valera stated, there was very little misunderstanding amongst international jurists worthy of that name or amongst foreign statesmen as to our status. There was deliberately fostered misunderstanding at home. I will admit that the campaign which Deputies opposite undertook, particularly the campaign of the Clann na Poblachta Deputies, to create doubt and misunderstanding concerning our republican status, achieved some measure of success, that some section of our people were misled by that campaign into believing that there was doubt or genuine cause of misunderstanding. It is because there is an advantage in our internal politics in removing any such doubts and any misunderstanding still left, that we welcome the action of the Parties opposite in getting away from that position by the introduction of this Bill.

This Bill does not change anything in the Constitution. It is nothing more than a formal announcement by the Parties comprising the coalition that they have now discovered that things were all right, after all. During the ten years since the enactment of the Constitution they refused to face facts. [487] During these ten years the Taoiseach, the Minister for External Affairs and other lawyers in this Government of lawyers concentrated their public efforts upon keeping alive these doubts to which I have referred, but when they ceased to be Opposition politicians, when they became Ministers of a Government charged with responsibilities, when they had to deal with realities, when they could not longer play the political game upon which they had previously been engaged, when they had to come down to interpret facts and to interpret them finally, they found that there could be only one decision possible for them to take, and that decision was announced here yesterday by the Taoiseach—that this State has been a Republic since 1937 and has not been a member of the British Commonwealth since that year.

There was one reference in the Taoiseach's speech, however, which caused me personally some concern. The Bill declares that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland and it seemed to us that that was intended to be the formal declaration of Deputies opposite that they had now discovered that to be the case, but the Taoiseach rather suggested that the reason why that section was inserted in the Bill was merely one of convenience, a device to ensure that it would be easy to distinguish between this 26-county State and the whole of Ireland, and thus to avoid the use of the word “Éire” as meaning only this portion of Ireland. I find there an indication of the circumstances which made us hesitate to use in connection with the enactment of the Constitution of 1937 the term “Republic of Ireland”. That name had for us a sentimental connotation. It signified not this 26-county State but the whole of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland, as proclaimed in 1916 and ratified in 1918 by the people, was a 32-county republic and there was a reluctance to use that name in relation to any other State, a reluctance which, I confess, did not take into account the possibility of misunderstanding being created by Party propaganda. If I understood Deputy Con Lehane yesterday, he wanted to [488] substitute for “Republic of Ireland” the term “Poblacht an hÉireann”. I would ask him not to press that.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  In the Irish version.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I admit that the objection is largely sentimental but I think it is nevertheless of value and it will, at any rate, help to keep before the minds of Deputies and the minds of the people that there is a substantial part of the national programme yet to be fulfilled.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  The Deputy misunderstood me.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I am glad of that. Deputy de Valera, as leader of this Party, said that we were not opposing the Bill. I want, however, to put upon record, because I think it is important that it should be on record, our strong disapproval of the methods adopted by the Government in reaching, announcing and implementing their decision to enact this Bill. If I understood the Taoiseach correctly yesterday, he himself, without consultation with his colleagues, before he left for Canada, decided on this measure and announced that decision in Canada.

Minister for Education (General Mulcahy): Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  He never said any such thing.

Mr. M. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  He did not say any such thing.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins  Zoom on Seán Collins  The Deputy may have read it in the Irish Press.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Am I to understand then that the decision to introduce this Bill was in fact taken by the Cabinet before the Taoiseach left for Canada?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Taoiseach said so yesterday.

Mr. M. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  He said so before.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  He said he had arrived at a decision.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins  Zoom on Seán Collins  No.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If that is so, why were not the Irish people told in Ireland? What consideration of national policy made it, in the minds of members of the Government, desirable that the announcement of the intention to introduce [489] this Bill should be made, not here in the Dáil, not here to the Irish people, but to a group of Press reporters in Canada?

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government (Mr. Corish): Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  The Tánaiste announced it in August.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Tánaiste did not announce it in August.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  He did—if you look up the debates.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Parliamentary Secretary can look up the debates and he will find I am right. I am always right in these matters. I take the precaution of reading the debates before I quote them.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  I listened to it.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If Deputy Corish did the same thing, he would be wise.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Deputy Corish is all wrong.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The announcement was made in Canada. So far as the public of this country is aware, the decision of the Government was first communicated to them through a foreign Press agency and it was immediately followed by a campaign of speeches by members of the Government and their supporters in this Dáil which appeared to make it evident that the sole reason for the decision was to gain a political advantage at home. I ask any Deputy on the benches opposite to read the speech made here yesterday by the Taoiseach in justification of this Bill and compare it with any speech made by any other Minister or any Deputy of the Coalition in the weeks immediately following the announcement in Canada that the Bill would be introduced.

The Taoiseach here yesterday endeavoured to make a highly partisan case behind the cover of a declared intention of avoiding controversy, but the Deputies who sit behind him did not attempt to cover up their partisanship in their campaign throughout the country, until one Parliamentary Secretary reached the point of challenging [490] the Fianna Fáil Deputies to vote against the Bill. What sort of statesmanship is that? Did they not then realise the importance of having this Bill enacted by this Dáil without opposition? Was it that they desired for purely Party ends to irritate or provoke Fianna Fáil Deputies into displaying opposition? Do they not realise, as Deputy de Valera told them yesterday, that the one advantage they have which we never had is that they can bring forward a Bill of this kind and be certain that it will not be opposed by their Parliamentary Opposition? Is there any single member of Fine Gael or any Party opposite who doubts that if a Bill of this character had been proposed last year by the Fianna Fáil Government there would not have been opposition to its enactment expressed in the Dáil and organised throughout the country for Party purposes? I concede that only Party aims would have been in contemplation.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  You would have had to satisfy pro-British Deputy MacEntee first.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Do they understand now, if they did not understand before, what that type of opposition, whatever its motives, however base its motives, might have produced in the way of danger to the national interest?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  It is a pity that the Deputy does not address his remarks to Deputy MacEntee.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I am addressing my remarks where they are needed. May I hope that the speeches, the highlypartisan and provocative speeches made by Coalition Deputies in the weeks after the announcement in Canada of the Government's intention to introduce this Bill, will not be repeated after the Bill has been enacted and that we will get at least from its enactment that one advantage which it can give, that these matters of constitutional development are and will remain outside the realm of Party political controversy? However and why ever, the members of the Government and their supporters in this House have got into the present position, the fact that by their act they [491] are putting the definition of the political aspirations of our people, the realisation of a republic for 32 counties, beyond controversy here, then whatever else it may do, the act must have beneficial results and for that reason we are supporting the Bill.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  If we are to regard the speech we have just listened to as a speech in support of this Bill, then I suggest that we are witnessing the new look in politics. It was about as obstructive and deliberately mischievous a speech as I have ever listened to in any Parliament. It is regrettable that the deputy-leader of the Party opposite could not in a debate of this kind follow the example of his chief and leader. This Bill was introduced in a very comprehensive statement giving all necessary and all relevant details by the Taoiseach. It was a magnificent speech, generous in every respect and in tracing up the historical steps and stairs that led us to the particular position we have reached to-day, unquestionably he gave credit where credit was due to two succeeding and opposing Administrations. That speech, let me say, to a very, very great extent was re-echoed and repeated by the extremely dignified speech which we listened to from the Leader of the Opposition, but last night and to-day we have the tone of the whole debate debased and bedevilled by a kind of rivalry as to what Party cockerel will crow the loudest. To listen to the speech we have listened to to-day, one would imagine that it was the intention of that particular Deputy to reopen all the feuds of 26 years ago, to fan the flames of the passions and the hatreds that existed 26 years ago. This stage-strutting——

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  And in January last.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  ——as to who was right and who was wrong——

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  You should read your own speeches in the past.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  It is bad enough to have mischievous interjections from lower down without having stupid ones from higher up.

[492]Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  There was no stupidity in that. It was the truth.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  In the speech delivered by the Taoiseach he pointed out the evolution of a free, sovereign and independent State. The credit due to any particular party at any particular time he gave in unmeasured terms. He pointed out that from the beginning, the early days, when all were moving together for the freest and most unfettered type of an Irish republican State, a point was reached at which something substantial was on offer and that the people, no matter how they divided subsequently to that, had a common goal and that the goal, the stimulus and the guiding light of all those parties that divided subsequently was the position we are in reach of now. In the judgment of one section that got the approval of Dáil Éireann and of the people, it was considered unnecessary to reject what was there and no matter how spectacular or heroic the gambol or the effort to secure more, the faith, the hope, the confidence and the trust of the people who accepted that instrument was that the subsequent evolution and development of an absolutely free and independent State without implications or subordinations could be achieved by contact, by discussions, by harmony, by concord and by getting little by little, with perseverance, with diligence and with ability, greater people outside our shores to see the justice of our case and help us along the remainder of the road. That position may have been challenged; others may have seen a quicker road to go, but the aim and the objective of all was similar.

It is true to say that considerable progress, considerable evolution and considerable development took place to those that adhered to the belief that by perseverance, by persuasion and by on every occasion trying to increase and consolidate friendship between ourselves and other countries in the Commonwealth, that it was through the instrument of friendship, co-operaation and understanding they would go to the end, the very end of the road, not with any of these nations opposing us, but with the assistance, the blessing [493] and the co-operation of those other nations. That was the path that was trod in difficulty and danger from the period 1922 to 1932. That was the road that was being trod and described by the Taoiseach last evening, as a via dolorosa. There were milestones all along that road, milestones of evolution, landmarks of development on the path of progress. The removal of the Privy Council, the appeal to the Privy Council, the Statute of Westminister, the alteration in the title of the King, the clearly expressed right of any one of the Commonwealth nations to stay out of the war, and be directed entirely by the votes and the will of their own Parliament—those were the steps that were being taken, and let anybody who is nervous or doubtful or uneasy at the present moment throw back his mind to the conditions under which those steps were taken and the result of the steps when taken.

You had during all that period the nervous people, the uneasy people, the people who were in doubt as to the terrible consequences for the country that might arise because the Irish team were insistent on always going forward towards the goal that was there some way ahead. But, as each one of those steps was taken, let them look back as to what the effect and the result was. Every forward step taken, far from leading to strained relations, to a set back in connection with harmony, friendship and trade as between the different countries, cemented more closely the friendship between the different countries concerned and increased to an unbelievable degree the understanding and desire for co-operation between those countries.

That was the path followed and that is the justification for the men who blazed that trail and those who marched behind them. But there was one over-riding consideration that had to be taken into account, and had to govern the conduct of people charged with a responsible position in Government, or a responsible position in Parliament, and that was the bond of honour that a treaty entered into between two countries or a bilateral bargain between two countries, could [494] be repudiated by either without dishonour, but could not be mutilated by either without dishonour. Our successors, if they so desired and regarded the Treaty as being an obstacle in their path, were free to repudiate and brush aside that particular Treaty in toto, but were not, in our opinion, free to mutilate any sections of it. Subject to that, as we considered, bond of honour, our desire was within the four corners of that arrangement, or with full agreement from the other side to keep going forward steadily, progressively and proudly.

Deputy Lemass thinks well to hurt back statements or actions in those particular times. I merely mention that particular bond, which we respected as long as ever it existed, as the justification put forward, and put forward proudly, for the attitude adopted during those particular times. But we did reach a time when, as a result of developments here, it was not only clear here but clearly accepted on the other side of the water that that particular Treaty was not only altered but that it was completely gone and dead. That was claimed here and was accepted across the water. There were then no limiting bonds on anybody sitting on either side of this particular Parliament. There was no reason then why, free from that bond, each one could not proceed as far as they could to fulfil in full the aspirations of the great majority of the people of this country.

The Administration that was here before us took very, very considerable strides forward and they did, within a very short distance, go to the end of the road. But, undoubtedly, in that last step, no matter how loud the verbal protestations may have been that an absolutely Irish Republic had been established, there was misunderstanding. There was misunderstanding and confusion at home. There was misunderstanding and confusion abroad. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that abroad there was little misunderstanding compared to the amount at home and the reason was that in foreign countries our representatives were accepted with the document [495] they carried as representatives of the King.

Mr. de Valera:  I disagree. That was not the position.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  I think it is a good many years since the Deputy and myself did agree.

Mr. de Valera:  I suppose it is.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  The very small extent of the misunderstanding abroad was because they accepted our position as a position other than a republic. But here at home there was a degree of misunderstanding and confusion. I would say that the person who typified that misunderstanding more so than anybody else was the present Leader of the Opposition in his statements here as Taoiseach. There was no single statement ever made by him on that particular point that did not add to the amount of confusion that was there, even in the ranks of his own Party. When he was asked in 1938 why he had not established a republic he gave reasons why he had not. He said, however, that anybody that wanted to establish a republic had nothing to do but repeal the External Relations Act; that he had made that possible and that he had brought us to that point of the road. So he did. But having made that statement that if anybody wanted a republic they had only to repeal the External Relations Act, then it was merely sheer nonsense to say, in the absence of such repeal or a rescinding of that Act, that in fact there was a republic. We had confusion on that point and no little of the confusion was caused by the two different directions in which the Taoiseach of that time faced the contradictory declarations by him on that particular question.

We had the same degree of confusion and misunderstanding with regard to whether we were in or out of the Commonwealth. But clearly we reached the point where on both sides of the water we were regarded as then being out of the Commonwealth, and out of the Commonwealth for a considerable number of years back. I mention that merely in this respect. If, according [496] to British authorities and if according to Irish authorities, we have been out of the Commonwealth for ten years back, then certainly there is no reason behind nor no justification for the fears that are being expressed as to what will happen ourselves, our trade, our finance, our nationals if we pass this particular Bill. Whatever was to happen because of departing from the Commonwealth should, according to authorities on both sides of the water, have happened ten long years ago. Nothing, in fact, happened then, and nothing, in fact, will happen now. But we had that confusion, and we had that uneasiness certainly more pronounced at home than it was elsewhere.

We listened to Deputy Lemass to-day disassociating himself verbally from certain newspapers, but having listened to his speech it was clear to those here this evening, and to any reader of those particular newspapers, that practically every line and every word of his speech was culled from the columns of such newspapers, and that the papers he was repudiating were his mentors in the line he took in this particular debate. Where did he get his phrases from? Where did he get his alleged facts from? Why did he forget himself so far, and forget political decency and Parliamentary courtesy to such an extent, as to throw around the floor of Parliament phrases like “betrayers” and “betrayal”? That is the new look of the way in which proposed legislation is to be supported—by political opponents branding the others as “betrayers” and classifying the particular piece of proposed legislation as “a betrayal.” I could swop hard words with Deputy Lemass, and I could do the ghoul just as efficiently and, perhaps, just as effectively as Deputy Lemass, but I would consider it entirely untimely, unbecoming and un-national to be tempted by the provocative lead that was given by the Deputy in the course of his particular statement.

We did hope, and republicans in the ranks of the Deputy's Party did hope, that there was only one ex-Minister and only one leader of the Party opposite who would adopt that particular tone. There are, apparently, two counsels at work: one across the House, one that definitely appreciates the step [497] that is proposed to be taken, and the other that resents it because it is being taken by others. Now, we are taking the line to have this country officially recognised as a republic. We are taking the only line that was indicated by Deputy de Valera, in order to make that clear, when he laid it down to his own Ard-Fheis that if anybody wanted to establish the republic the way to do it was by rescinding the External Relations Act. We are following the line to establish that republic that was indicated by him, and we are removing the one obstacle that was indicated by him as an obstacle. We had discussion and we had confusion with regard to the particular part that was played by the Crown in the past as the symbol of association, and in recent years as the symbol of our accrediting representatives to other countries. If I had to choose between the Crown in full as the symbol of association, and the Crown partially and surreptitiously to be used for the purpose of sending or receiving representatives to and from foreign countries, I would much prefer to have an open acceptance of the Crown as the symbol of association. If I may put it this way, I would say that Éire with the Crown on her brow certainly looks a more dignified figure than Éire with a half crown on her brow, but better than either would she look unadorned by any such symbol or ornament.

That is exactly the proposal contained here. The misunderstanding, the confusion and the distortion will be removed by the particular proposal made here to-day. In making that proposal, as everyone now clearly understands, it is being done not as a gesture of disrespect either to the Crown or to the person holding the Crown, not as a gesture of defiance or repudiation either to Great Britain or any other of the members of the Commonwealth. It is being done because historically and sentimentally the Crown here is a symbol that leads to division; the Crown here is a symbol that leads to a certain amount of inhibition, a certain amount of subtraction from the full strength of the nation either to help herself or to help [498] others in times of danger and emergency. It is being done because of the historical association, because of the sentiment that the symbol of the Crown is a barrier and an obstacle to the very full and firm friendship which we would like to see develop between the people of this country and the people within the nations now comprising the Commonwealth of Nations. It is in that spirit that this particular action has been taken. It is in that spirit that it has been put forward by the Taoiseach.

We have had references here to the minority view and to minority sentiments. Any one of us must respect and, at the same time, sympathise with minority views and with minority sentiments, but are we going to have that mental and that verbal sub-division of our people up to the end of the world? This State is now 26 years of age. There has been a spirit of fair play; there has been close co-operation; there has been dove-tailing together of people and classes that had a different historical background, and there has been immense development in the way of co-operation and mutual understanding. It is entirely foreign to the intentions of the leaders of this country, both Protestant and Catholic, that all the time, all along the road, we should examine things in the light of the majority and of the minority. Let the majority appreciate the fact that the minority is as nationalist as any of us, and that if we trace back the history of the country, we will find that those whom we regard now or refer to as the minority were, perhaps, leading the majority along the road that we propose to go now. Let the minority take their place with the majority as brother and sister Irish men and women. Let them join their influence and their contacts with ours and nothing but good and blessing and further progress, further development and greater friendship will grow out of the Bill which we are recommending to the House this evening.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I want to say first and foremost that I welcome the Bill. I welcome it because it proposes to do what the Taoiseach, when he was in [499] Canada, said he was going to do, namely, to repeal the External Relations Act of 1936. On previous occasions in this House and elsewhere I have referred to the scandalous and humiliating position in which we were placed by the External Relations Act. I felt that it was objectionable that we should have a system whereby our representatives abroad were being accredited by the King of a foreign country and whereby representatives to this country were accredited to that particular King. I am glad to see an end of that situation. I am quite sure every Deputy in this House is glad that this Bill will end that humiliating position for all time. I stated during the course of the general election campaign that if the Party to which I then belonged became the Government one of our first actions would be to repeal the External Relations Act.

Now that this Bill is before the Dáil I can see no justification whatsoever for Section 4, which provides that: “This Act is to come into operation on such day as the Government may by Order appoint.” In his opening speech in support of the Second Reading the Taoiseach said there were mechanical difficulties in the way of putting this Bill, when it becomes law, into operation at once. I had hoped that the mechanical difficulties and obstacles would have been explained to us before now by the Minister for External Affairs. I have not been told what these difficulties and obstacles are. Consequently, I should very much like this Bill to take effect the moment it has been signed by the President after it has been passed by the members of this House in all its stages. We are all anxious to get rid of this External Relations Act. We should not have it for one day longer than we can help it. Unless there are very substantial reasons why it should not take effect immediately, I shall oppose that section of the Bill on the next reading.

This Bill has given an opportunity to quite a number of people to speak about the history of this country over a period of 26 years. It is regrettable that that line should have been pursued. It is regrettable that the [500] bitterness of that particular quarter of a century should have been resurrected here during the debate on this measure. What the purpose of it was I do not understand. What useful purpose it is going to serve I do not understand. I do think that Deputies who have been members of this House for some years, who have carried the responsibility of government on their shoulders, would have set a headline to those of us who are new to the House and who have not been tempered by the responsibility that office, or membership of this House over a period of years, imposes. I was glad that some Deputies, particularly Deputy Alfred Byrne and Deputy Byrne, Junior, Deputy Sheldon and Deputy Dockrell came into this Assembly and put forward the views which they sincerely hold in regard to this matter. I can appreciate and sympathise with the views of Deputy Sheldon and Deputy Dockrell. However, I am sorry to find, after a quarter of a century of experience of fair play to every section of the community by our own Government in this country, a Government irrespective of the Party in power and irrespective of the head of the Administration, that there is still a section of the community that is not prepared to advance step by step with the rest of the country.

I would have preferred if Deputy Dockrell and Deputy Sheldon had in this debate given some leadership to that particular section of our people rather than take the line of following a certain element in that section. I believe that there have grown up in the last quarter of a century here young men and women with a different faith from ours, young men and women who are as genuinely national and progressive in outlook as any other sections of our community. It would be a magnificent stroke if leadership along the correct national lines were given in this debate by both Deputy Dockrell and Deputy Sheldon. At the same time I recognise and admire the courage of Deputy Dockrell in taking the line he did, a line contrary to the line adopted by his own Party. He took that line on a matter of considerable [501] national importance. I hope that if Deputy Dockrell's action in this House on this occasion is taken up by his own Party he will get a fair trial.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Not like you.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I can well imagine that in a Party which has been so long in politics liberty of opinion and the right to express a contrary opinion would be recognised and appreciated.

This Bill has been described by some Deputies as a justification of the line taken by both Collins and Griffith 26 years ago. Anybody who examines the Treaty of 1921 and the Constitution that came into being as a result of that Treaty, together with the 27 amendments to that Constitution, and examines the Constitution now in force and the amendments that have been made to it, must be satisfied that there has been a definite constitutional development from the Treaty right down to the present time. Every step that has been taken has been taken legally and lawfully in accordance with the constitutional authority. I think every person who examines this matter in an impartial way must be satisfied that that is so. They must be satisfied with this Bill in so far as it proposes to repeal the External Relations Act as part of the constitutional development of this country over the past 26 years. There is no necessity for me to advert to the Statute of Westminister, or to the decisions taken at the various imperial conferences in the years prior to 1932; but all those played a part in the constitutional development of this country. This latest Bill is one further step in that direction.

No matter from what angle one regards the Treaty of 1921 one has to admit that it colours a tremendous number of our political views, our political relationships and our political utterances. In the very early days of this State, I as a young man, took the line of supporting the Treaty. Of the people who founded the Clann na Poblachta Party I was the only one who had taken that particular line. I accepted the declarations that were then made that the Treaty of 1921 gave freedom to achieve freedom. Because [502] of my belief in that, I wore the uniform of this country and I risked my life to establish the Constitution born of that particular Treaty. Over the years I have given considerable thought to this matter. I have always had the greatest sympathy and, in the main, I have always believed in the honesty of the people who took a different line from that which I took. The line that many of us took at that time was to a large extent influenced by our own particular circumstances and influenced by the personalities under which we served. It was not an uncommon occurrence for someone who held views in opposition to that Treaty to fight for it because his superior officer fought for it, or vice versa. That is why I detest the introduction of any note of bitterness in regard to that period in the debates in this House. I took one particular line. Had I been stationed in another part of the country I could quite conceivably have taken another line. We all ought to be honest in regard to that, and, in so far as we can, we all ought to forget the bitterness, the tragedies, of that particular period.

Deputy Lemass talked yesterday about his comrades who died. I had comrades who died. I thought a good deal about those comrades and I regret that I lived to see a period in our history in which we butchered one another, our comrades and brothers, in the way in which we did butcher them. Why did Deputy Lemass try to recreate that spirit of bitterness in the speech he made on this Bill, in view of the fact that it was announced that the Party he belonged to would support the Bill? It was clear that he was using this Bill for a particular Party purpose, to drive a wedge between people who are in the inter-Party Government, people who supported the Treaty and people who opposed the Treaty 26 years ago. He introduced the tragedy of Sergeant O'Brien in the course of his remarks. No one regretted that tragedy more than I did; nobody abhors shootings of that kind more than I do. In that period I took a very active part in an effort to save the life of the man who was condemned to death for shooting him. I was satisfied as a lawyer [503] that there was not sufficient evidence on which he should be convicted.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Was not that a decision reached by the court?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I am giving my opinion as a lawyer. I am not concerned with the decision.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am concerned with it, because the decision of a court must not be raised here or discussed.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I only mention it incidentally. I took every step that could be taken within the Constitution, and with all respect for the law of this country, to appeal to the President to save that young man's life. My objection was that notwithstanding that great demand to save a life, charity was not permitted to intervene and save that life.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Blame Deputy Jerry Boland for that.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I am not blaming anybody. I do not want to blame anybody, but it was regrettable that that tragedy should have been mentioned at all. This House is not divided on the basis of whether you were Treaty or anti-Treaty in 1921. The Leader of the Opposition, when he founded Fianna Fáil, founded it for the purpose of ending past bitterness. He made an appeal to every element in this country to march behind him in a constitutional way towards the achievement of an Irish republic. There are many people in the Fianna Fáil Party to-day who were supporters of the Treaty in 1921. There are in the Fianna Fáil benches across there men who voted for the Treaty in 1921. Why, then, should Deputy Lemass try to take the line in this House that Fianna Fáil were anti-Treaty and Fine Gael were pro-Treaty in 1921?

If we could once and for all end these recriminations, if this Bill will help to end them, and if we would all have charity and respect for one another's views and principles, we might be able to do very good work for the people we represent here. No amount of talk [504] by Deputy Lemass or anybody else in this House will decide the rights or wrongs of that particular period. That is a matter for history and history will decide it. Let history decide it.

Deputy Lemass made an approach in regard to the Constitution under which we live, and he was perfectly entitled to make that approach. He denied that it was a self-righteous approach, but self-righteousness was exuding from him while he was speaking about it. The Constitution was placed before the Irish people during the general election of that year. In the campaign in regard to that Constitution I opposed it as strenuously as I could in every part of Ireland and I voted against it. I make no apology to anybody for doing so. Why did I do that? Because the Constitution as it was submitted to the people was to a large extent sham and humbug. I wanted to see a Constitution that would guarantee rights to individuals, that would guarantee freedom of opportunity for every person in this country. I would have liked to see a Constitution which would guarantee a decent livelihood and a proper division of the wealth of the country amongst the people of the country.

The Constitution did not contain these rights or guarantees. We saw during the emergency a military court operating here the like of which they had not in any of the countries engaged in the war. We could clearly see what individual rights were granted in that Constitution. But that Constitution is the law of the country now and because it is the law I respect it and obey it and I fashion all my actions in accordance with it. I have a proper respect for all the institutions set up under that Constitution, but that will not prevent me, whenever I have the opportunity, advising the people to get rid of that Constitution because it does not guarantee them their fundamental rights. When I do so I hope nobody will consider that it is traitorous or treasonable to do it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  It is irrelevant here.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  It may be, but it was very relevant last night. Deputy [505] Lemass can give to that Constitution what he is entitled to give it and nothing more. Having said so much in regard to the Bill in so far as it relates to the repeal of the External Relations Act, I want to say that it does not, in so far as the other sections go, achieve the ideal we had in front of us. This Bill does not declare this country to be a republic and that is one of the difficulties and one of the troubles that confront us in respect of quite a lot of the constitutional legislation that we have had over the years. Article 4 of the Constitution provides:—

“The name of the State is Eire, or, in the English language, Ireland.”

Article 5 says:—

“Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic State.”

In the Constitution, we have the name and we have the description of the type of State Ireland is, and the people who drafted this Constitution— and, according to Deputy MacEntee, the Leader of the Opposition was the chief draftsman—the Parliament that passed it and the electorate that adopted it were very clear at the time as to the significance and meaning of these two Articles. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but, if we have gone to the trouble of writing into the Constitution the name and description, it would appear to me that this declaration in Section 2 of the Bill is one which, if it is to be of any value whatsoever, should be written into the Constitution and should be adopted by the people through the machinery of a referendum. If that is unnecessary, then I say that clearly it does nothing more than, as somebody said, put a label on a bottle. I should like the Minister for External Affairs, when he comes to deal with this, to deal particularly with that aspect.

As I say, I welcome the Bill, and my only reason for drawing attention to that matter is that, if some citizen goes into the Supreme Court and gets a declaration that that section of the Bill is unconstitutional, I do not want to appear before the public as a fool who did not draw attention to the point when I should have done so in the [506] Legislature. In my view, it was necessary, to give effect to this decision, to have brought in a Constitution (Amendment) Bill and submit it to the people by referendum, because we must not overlook the fact that, when this Constitution was going through the Dáil, a specific amendment to Article 5 was put down by Deputy MacDermot at the time. Deputy MacDermot wanted to insert in Article 5, which states that Ireland is a sovereign, independent democratic State, the word “republic”. The present Leader of the Opposition opposed the proposal to insert the word because he knew at that stage that this Constitution was not a Constitution which established a republic; but now we are told, 11 years after, that we did establish a republic the day we adopted that Constitution. I say that it is necessary that the declaration that this country is a republic should be adopted as an amendment of the Constitution, that it should be so introduced here by the Taoiseach and that it should be submitted as a referendum to the people. Then nobody in any part of the world could have any doubts about the declaration of the people of Ireland with regard to their own Constitution and the type of State in existence here, whether republican or otherwise.

Everything that could be said in favour of this declaration of a republic has been said by Deputies on these benches, and it has been stated that we have broken with the British Crown. I accept that, and I am glad that we have broken with the British Crown, but there is this important matter which must not be overlooked, that, until we have broken the financial shackles which bind us to Britain, we will not be as free as has been stated by different speakers in this debate. If we are to achieve our freedom, we must go further than this Bill and must break all the controls that are exercised over us by Britain or British institutions. The Taoiseach, in opening on this Bill, said that the connection with the Crown is gone, that our membership of the British Commonwealth is gone, that our association with the British Commonwealth, or the Commonwealth, as it is now called, is gone. But there is to be established in [507] its place a special relationship, a factual relationship. In other words, in legislation in regard to citizenship, mutual arrangements will be set up between ourselves and Canada, between ourselves and Australia and between ourselves and New Zealand— in fact, I gathered from the Taoiseach that these mutual arrangements will be entered into with every nation then a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, so that these relationships may be valuable and good. I should not like to criticise them in advance. I would like to know from the Minister for External Affairs, or from the Taoiseach when he is replying, whether in the discussions that the Ministers had with the British Ministers and with the Ministers of British Dominions, there was any agreement about these arrangements to establish this special relationship between Ireland and those members of the Commonwealth and that those steps would be taken by this country? Was there any agreement between our Ministers and those Ministers that this arrangement would be made? If such arrangements were made, I should like to have particulars of them.

Partition has loomed largely in the debate. Deputy Byrne and Deputy Byrne (Junior) both expressed the opinion that if this Bill is passed into law it will retard the unity of Ireland. I would like to say this—and it is repeating what I have said before, in the House and elsewhere—there has been too much talk in regard to Partition in this country and not enough action. Talk in regard to the achievement of real freedom has never achieved anything for us. I have listened since 1921 to talk about the ending of Partition. I have heard Ministers of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government talk about the objections to Partition—the fact that the majority of the people of Ireland do not want it, the fact that no representative of Ireland approved of it or voted for it, the fact that it was forced on this country by Britain. Every word that could have been said along those lines was said by Ministers of the old [508] Cumann na nGaedheal Government. These have been repeated by members of the Fianna Fáil Government and now the same words are being repeated by Ministers of the inter-Party Government.

In the days from Parnell down to 1916, we always had this point of view expressed—that if Ireland were given Home Rule she would be a great friend of England, that the two countries could grow up on the very best of relations, that bitterness and enmity would die. From the day of Parnell, and probably from the time of O'Connell, right down to 1916, we had that talk from many platforms. But it required the determination of the men of 1916 and the men of the subsequent years to achieve the measure of liberty and freedom that we got in 1921. As far as I am concerned, the six northern counties of Ireland belong to us; they are being kept away from us by Britain; they are being kept away from us by British influence; they are being kept away from us by Irish people living in those six counties who have been led astray over generations, and who look on their own country in the wrong light. No amount of talk, no amount of propaganda, will ever solve that problem. I want to repeat—and I do not care if the Minister for External Affairs declares it to be mischievous, as he has already done—and I want to declare now, that the only way we will solve the Partition of this country is by marching across the Border and ending it. That can be described as mischievous by anyone who likes to describe it so; but I want to see an end to Partition in my time, and the only way we can end it is by force; and if the young people of this country get the opportunity they will take the opportunity and end it—and end it very quickly.

As to whether, under this new position we will be in when this Bill is passed, we are to set ourselves up in isolation or whether we are going to take on international responsibility, that has been mentioned by several people. There is a grave danger that this acceptance of international responsibility may be interpreted in a completely wrong way. It may be interpreted [509] that we are going to allow ourselves to be used by the remnants of British imperialism in whatever designs they may have in the future. That is the danger I see in this talk about taking on international responsibility. We are a small country and we have a Defence Force that is hardly big enough to defend this House—and we talk about taking on international responsibility.

Mr. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  What about the Border, so?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  That is not the point.

Mr. Breslin: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  That was the point the Deputy made.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  That is not the point of the argument I am now addressing to the House. Deputy Oscar Traynor, who was the Minister for Defence, will agree with me that our Defence Force has been reduced to a dangerously low level.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  That is so.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Is not that perfectly correct?

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  It is perfectly correct.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  But we could build up in this country the force big enough to solve the problem of the Border; and I am surprised at young Deputies querying this.

Mr. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I have not queried it.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I am dealing now with this question of international responsibility. We talk as if we had an Army of several divisions, as if we had atom bombs stored above in the Park in the Magazine Fort. I do not know how safe they would be there. However, we talk in that strain. The world is changing and there are new ideas spreading right over the world from end to end. We have just finished the celebration of 1798. In 1798, this country took its place with the progressive line of thought and with progressive opinion throughout the world. Unless my reading of history is wrong from 1798 right down to 1916 and to 1921, we did take a lead in association with progressive thought all over the [510] world. There is the danger now that this idea of international responsibility is going to involve us in becoming allies of the remnants of British imperialism. That is the danger I see and that is why I think this House will have to be alive to every move that is being made in the international sphere. We are told now that America is the saviour of the world. It well may be so, but they would have to change quite a lot before I could imagine them the saviour of this or any other country.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy is travelling very far—across the Border, now to America, and I am wondering where he will land next.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  He got a good lead, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I am following the line of the debate. I am sorry the debate was not restricted at the beginning. If it were, I would have restricted my remarks. I am following the line of the debate that has taken place in the last few days and I have touched on no topic that has not been touched upon by some other speaker. I want to have it made perfectly clear, so far as I can extract any information, that there is no foundation for the rumours that have been going around in regard to our international position after this Bill is passed, and that this country, in any international situation that may develop, will do what this country considers right and not what the remnants of British imperialism, as I term them, may think right. That is my contribution to this debate. I have availed of this stage of the Bill to make my own position clear in regard to these topics, but, as I said in the beginning, I welcome the Bill and I shall vote for the Second Reading. I do think that Deputy Byrne (Senior) and Deputy Byrne (Junior) should listen to the appeal that has been made to them to withdraw their amendment. This undoubtedly is some step forward in our constitutional development, and it would be a grand thing if the Bill could be passed by this House unanimously. I am glad that the Bill has been brought in at such an early date, and I hope the motion for the Second Reading will [511] receive the unanimous support of the Dáil.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Before calling on any other speaker, I should like to inform the House that the Minister for External Affairs has received certain communications from other States and he desires permission to be allowed to put them before the House, without making any further contribution to the debate at this stage. With the permission of the House, I shall ask the Minister for External Affairs to intervene now.


Minister for External Affairs (Mr. MacBride): Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  I intervene merely for the purpose of making available to the House any information there is concerning some of the consequences of the Bill under discussion. A statement was made by the British Prime Minister in the House of Commons this afternoon, in the course of which he detailed the discussions that had taken place both at Chequers and at Paris. He then stated:—

“As a result of these discussions, the United Kingdom Government has been able to give the most careful consideration to the relations between the United Kingdom and Éire, when the Republic of Ireland comes into force. They recognise with regret that Éire will then no longer be a member of the Commonwealth. The Éire Government have, however, stated that they recognise the existence of a specially close relationship between Éire and the Commonwealth countries and desire that this relationship should be maintained. These close relations arise from ties of kinship and from traditional and long-established economic, social and trade connections based on common interests. The United Kingdom Government for their part also recognise the existence of these factual ties and are at one with the Éire Government in desiring that close and friendly relations should continue to be strengthened.”

The South African Government in [512] the course of a statement issued by the South African Department of External Affairs to-day state:—

“The Union Government welcome the understanding reached between the United Kingdom and Ireland and particularly the fact that the proclamation of Ireland as a free independent republic has given rise to no estrangement between the two countries but rather a rapprochement. The Union Government are prepared also for their part to recognise the Republic of Ireland as such when it comes into being and to make concessions with regard to rights of citizenship on a reciprocal basis, as may be mutually agreed, on the understanding that the existing position will be maintained in the meantime.”

The Canadian Government has issued a statement in the course of which it is stated that the Canadian Government has given consideration to the position which will result when the new enactment comes into force. The statement goes on:

“The Prime Minister of Ireland yesterday stated that Ireland recognises and confirms the existence of a specially close relationship with the nations of the Commonwealth. Mr. Costello went on to express the firm desire that this relationship should be maintained and strengthened. The Canadian Government also desire that close and friendly relations between Canada and Ireland should be maintained and strengthened, and is studying the measures which may be necessary and possible to give effect to that desire.”

Mr. A. Byrne:  In view of these expressions of goodwill and concord, I ask the permission of the House, in the interests of unity, to withdraw the amendment moved by Deputy Byrne (Junior) and seconded by me.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. de Valera:  Is the Minister going to make any further comment at this stage?

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  I shall conclude the debate.

[513]Seán Ó Loinsigh: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Fé mar is eol don Tigh, tá sé beartaithe ag Fianna Fáil cuidiú leis an mBille seo. Is mór an trua é, áfach, nár dhein an Taoiseach úsáid den Ghaeilge nuair a bhí sé ag cur an Bhille fé bhráid an Tí. Is beag an chúis mórtais é Poblacht a bheith againn don chuid seo den tír, mar a bhí le dhá bhliain déag, gan ár dteanga dhúchaise a bheith dá labhairt ar fud na tíre. Cé go mbeadh Poblacht againn don tír go léir, ní bheadh náisiúntacht cheart againn go dtí go mbeadh an Ghaeilge i mbéal na ndaoine ar fud na tíre go léir.

As a Deputy who was not born at the time of the 1916 Insurrection, to which reference has been made, and who was too young during the 15 years that followed that event and the Treaty to appreciate properly at the time the significance of these events, I consider that by reason of my age I am qualified to examine the situation that has led to the introduction of this Bill from an objective point of view. From my own examination, I have decided that the adoption of the Treaty in 1921 was a stop-gap and an obstruction to the onward march of this nation. I am further convinced that, as a result of the policy adopted by the Party who assumed office following that Treaty and as a result of their basing their attitude and policy on the repulsive terms of that Treaty, we were nationally static for the ten years that followed the signing of that Treaty.

I consider that it was when the Fianna Fáil Government assumed office in 1932, then and only then, the nation proceeded on the onward march towards the attainment of our national ideals which had been halted in 1919.

The Taoiseach has referred to the various changes that took place in our political status. He mentioned the abolition of the oath in 1933. That was the first milestone in the march. Since 1932—I forget if he mentioned it or not—the land annuities were retained in Ireland. Our ports were recovered. It was to me a source of great joy when our ports were finally handed back on that Monday evening in June, 1938. I was, as a young boy, playing around the shores of Cork [514] Harbour and I saw the badge of subjection, the Union Jack, flying over part of our own territory to which we were denied admittance. Young as I was, I appreciated the significance of that particular attainment.

That passive spirit which the Cumann na nGaedheal Government maintained during the ten years prior to 1932 has been maintained up to quite recently, and their policy seems to have dictated to them that the onward march of this nation was full membership of the Commonwealth. That is a situation that I consider no nationallyminded people could tolerate. The Taoiseach has suggested that the Treaty was just part of the development and evolution of our national progress. I consider that that is completely unacceptable and must be unacceptable, not only to Fianna Fáil, but to the Clann na Poblachta Party here. However, that is not the only upheaval in the policy of the Party the Taoiseach now represents. The Taoiseach, during the course of the debate on the External Relations Act, which was passed in 1936, referred to the Crown, as he has referred to it during the course of this debate, as simply the symbol of our free association within the Commonwealth of Nations. However, he went further during the course of that debate when, at column 1304, Volume 64, he said: “It is the symbol of our freedom. It is more than that; it is the instrument by means of which we achieved our freedom.” That is a statement entirely inconsistent with the Taoiseach's attitude here yesterday. and entirely unacceptable to the point of view held by the majority in this country, the point of view which seems to have been driven home to the Taoiseach and his Party.

I would ask the Taoiseach to explain his attitude in regard to that statement. He has tried to convince us that their support of the Treaty was part of the national advance and the national objective, and which has been attained, he suggests, by the enactment of this Republic of Ireland Bill. That is unacceptable to us. I would like him further to explain what he meant by telling us then that the [515] Crown was the means by which we achieved our freedom.

Down through the years, since 1937, we have listened to a malicious form of propaganda about dictionary republics. The Taoiseach, during his address, admits now, having examined the situation, that we have had a republic since 1937. The present Attorney-General, Senator Lavery, when he was a Deputy said in the debate on the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 1936: “Having examined the Bill, it would seem to me that the effect of it is to remove the King from the Constitution, and to give this country a republican Constitution.” That is the second authoritative statement we have had from members of the Government.

The Taoiseach, during his address, quoted some statements made by Professor Wheare, an eminent professor of political science and constitutional law. I have read the opinion of Professor Wheare as regards the status of this country in which he says that, from his examination, we have been a republic since the enactment of that Constitution. The previous speaker called the Constitution a mere humbug. That Constitution has been acclaimed at home and abroad as the ideal form of Constitution for a Christian State. The Taoiseach himself has acclaimed the Constitution in his address to this House yesterday. It is a peculiar fact that, through the efforts of the Taoiseach and his Party in 1937 they procured the vast majority of the 500,000 people who voted against the Constitution to oppose it at that time. It is just possibly another phase of the evolution of this State, not normal evolution, but upheavals in the constitutional history of this State.

This Bill, then, purports to declare a republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. In view of the statements I have put before the House, I think it would be ridiculous that the idea should get abroad that it creates a republic. The republic was created and was there since 1937 and it needed no enactment by any Government to declare it. It was the process of constitutional changes that led up to the position in 1937 that made this republic [516] that we now are about to declare. The Taoiseach, Mr. Costello, as he was then, in the debates on the External Relations Bill, tells us that he stated, when discussing the Statute of Westminster in 1929, that if we were ever going to declare a republic in this country we were not going to do so by an Act of Parliament. We have not done it by an Act of Parliament. This to my mind is no more than an External Relations Bill No. 2. Deputy de Valera said in 1933 much the same as Deputy Costello said in 1931, that by the ordinary process of evolution we would find we were a republic after the various enactments and constitutional undertakings which Fianna Fáil had envisaged. That is what happened. We have had from Senator Lavery, from the Taoiseach, supported by the Minister for External Affairs whose opinion the Taoiseach seems to value, that since 1937 we have had a republic. Therefore it is not from the view that we now have a republic that Fianna Fáil welcome and support this Bill. The welcome and support forthcoming from Fianna Fáil is that the Fine Gael Party have at last seen the light, at last realised that the will of the majority of the people of this country is the attainment of an independent sovereign republic. For that reason I am glad and I hope, as somebody else has said, that this conversion is sincere.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  I wish to welcome this Bill because for a long time we have been under a misapprehension. The question was put down in the House to the then Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, were we a republic or were we not, and we never knew until yesterday. We were a republic but you could not have a republic and have the King in the Constitution as he was under the 1936 Act. Now could you do it?

Mr. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Where is the King in the Constitution?

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  He has gone now.

Mr. J.J. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  He is gone for years, man.

Mr. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Where was he up to yesterday in the Constitution?

[517]Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  In the External Relations Act and that is why this Bill was brought in. What I would say to the Fianna Fáil members is: your thunder was stolen. That is really what is annoying the ex-Taoiseach.

Mr. J.J. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  Shame.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Because he slept too long. We had to have a change of Government to change that. Now the people outside the House know that we have a republic.

Mr. J.J. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  Since last night?

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  You were saying in your campaign “Vote Fianna Fáil, the Republican Party.” That was your slogan. No one else was republican only you in the elections. I am glad to be here when this change is taking place. I remember when the Treaty was signed, and we know the attitude that was taken by the Fianna Fáil Party then. We know that people were shot down.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  There has been no discussion on the civil war until now, and the Deputy should not have started it.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  I was talking about the Treaty.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I will put it to the Deputy this way, if he will allow me by sitting down. The Taoiseach yesterday went through many aspects of the history of this country for the last 20 or 22 years, quite legitimately. Other speakers followed that. None of them tried to raise bitterness about the civil war. All sides are entitled to give their view of the historical events of the last 20 years, but, in my opinion, this House is the worst place to pass final judgment on these events.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  I agree with you there. We know that it took a change of Government to change the External Relations Act. It was never mentioned since I came to this House in 1934 by the then Government that had a majority. It is only since the general election took place in February that that change was brought about which [518] makes it clear to the Irish people that we are a republic. It is passing now through this House, and that should satisfy Deputy Lynch. It will have gone through this House after to-night.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  It has not gone yet.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  You are not going to vote against it?

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  It has been there since 1937.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Yes, but the King and the Crown are gone now.

Mr. J.J. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  Thanks be to God.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  And I hope for the future. I regretted here yesterday when I heard young men opposing a republic for Ireland—Deputy Byrne (Junior) and Deputy Sheldon. I was surprised when I heard young men like them opposing this as Irishmen because——

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  They were not in favour of it——

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  You might not favour it either, only your Leader told you he was in favour of it.

Mr. J.J. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  We were born republicans.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  We have got a republic now——

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  You must have been asleep since 1936.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Order.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  The Fianna Fáil Government were asleep for 16 years and what is annoying them to-day is because that has been changed now by the Coalition Government which is working in harmony and sinking their differences for the good of the country. Fianna Fáil, perhaps, ought to do the same now and work in harmony for the good of the country and not be trying to put a spanner in the works. I would like to be dealing with something else, representing the people of the working class, because to my mind what we want in this country is plenty of work.

[519]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy will have to confine himself to the measure which is before the House at present.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  The measure which is before the House, to my mind, is not encouraging for the unemployed or for people who are looking for something from the Government. The External Relations Act or any other Act is no good to these people. Let us hope now that we on this side of the House will get the co-operation of the people on the far side of the House and that it will be for the betterment of the people as a whole.

Dr. Maguire: Information on Patrick J. Maguire  Zoom on Patrick J. Maguire  I am afraid that it is with rather mixed feelings I speak on this Bill. While approving the repeal of the Act, I am not entirely satisfied that the time is opportune, in view of possible repercussions on the efforts which are being made and which will be made to end Partition. If no such danger exists— and I assume that this aspect was thoroughly probed—then the repeal of this Act will be harmless and, in fact, of minor importance, compared with its predecessors, such as the abolition of the oath, the retention of the land annuities, the return of the ports, the Constitution and the other milestones of Fianna Fáil.

Let us remember that these enactments of Fianna Fáil which have gone such a long way to make the repeal of this Act possible were bitterly opposed by the very people who to-day unashamedly take advantage of them and brazenly gloss over their opposition to them. When I remember the quiet, unassuming, shall I say, way in which Fianna Fáil erected its milestones, I am nauseated by the fanfare and ballyhoo attendant on the repeal of this Act. When you consider that the severing of this slender thread of union with the Commonwealth will scarcely send a thrill through many of the citizens of this country and, particularly, when one remembers that the whole thing is merely a question of putting a name on an already existing status, all I can say is that the mountain has again brought forth a mouse.

[520] Mark you, I am not in any way belittling the achievement of Clann na Poblachta in their mass conversion of their Commonwealth, die-hard colleagues, and only hope, but can hardly be blamed for doubting, that this conversion will be permanent. Incidentally, I also give Clann na Poblachta credit for having included the repeal of the External Relations Act in their election platform, if given a mandate by the people. But, of course, they did not get this mandate.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  We will next time.

Dr. Maguire: Information on Patrick J. Maguire  Zoom on Patrick J. Maguire  Therefore, the circumstances surrounding the decision to repeal this Act confirm me in the view I have always held concerning the inherent weakness of a Coalition Government, and illustrate effectively the potential influences of minor political Parties in a Government elected in bits and scraps. The Taoiseach has described this legislation as a political and peaceful evolution, and I noted with pleasure the inclusion of the achievements of his predecessors in his meed of praise of those men and women, some of whom, unfortunately, are not with us to-day to see the partial consummation of their efforts in the declaration of a republic for the Twenty-Six Counties.

If, however, Britain imagines for a moment that the differences which have existed between us for so many centuries are ended—and, mark you, she may one day have occasion to say: “Surely your ambitions are now satisfied”—I suggest that at the first opportunity, if it has not already been done, the spokesmen of this country should give the British Government to understand that, in the words of Arthur Griffith quoted here yesterday by the Taoiseach, repeal of this Act has “no more finality than that we are the last generation.” The Taoiseach also said, and rightly so, that despite the Commonwealth relations, internal and external, which have existed between this and other countries for so many years, and despite the gesture which Deputy Eamon de Valera made or was prepared to make, no gesture or no softening of their attitude was forthcoming from the Belfast junta. I am [521] sure, however, that the Taoiseach has sufficient knowledge of the irreconcilables who hold the reins in that puppet police Parliament not to expect it. I think we are all agreed that the time has come when we should cease throwing political kisses across the Border which have not a hope of resulting in courtship, to say nothing of a marriage.

I have listened to the views expressed by Deputies Sheldon and Dockrell and, although I was not surprised that they should have acted and based their decision on the traditions of the people whom they represent, I was nevertheless surprised that, if an excuse were needed to support this Bill, that excuse was not forthcoming by a public reference by them in this House to the unparalleled generosity with which successive Governments in this country have treated the minority which these Deputies have the honour to represent here, a treatment, by the way, to which I am glad to say generous acknowledgment has already been made on numerous occasions by eminent churchmen of their persuasion. But I certainly never thought I would see the day when youthful Deputies like them with Deputy Byrne would deliberately stand in the way of the onward march of this nation.

What, may I ask, do Deputies Sheldon and Dockrell fear? The Taoiseach said that we are out of the Commonwealth since 1937. I would ask Deputy Sheldon what we were in since 1937 if not in a republic? The Taoiseach has paid a tribute here to the friendly attitude shown by the various Commonwealth Nations towards this country in the various negotiations that have preceded the introduction of this Bill. He has also declared, and rightly so, that the onus for the ending of Partition is solely England's responsibility. I need hardly remind the House that this assertion has already been made on numerous occasions by Deputy Eamon de Valera to the English people on their own soil. In my opinion, it is in the continued friendship of the other Commonwealth representatives that lies the sole hope of bringing sufficient pressure to bear on the British Government to release [522] this country, once and for all, from the shackles which have so long bound our people. If I may ask a question, for what it is worth, it is this: if such an occasion should arise that these friendly representatives should try and induce the British Government to restore the Six Counties to the rest of the country, is it possible that this tenuous link, this slender thread, could serve as a useful lever in the hands of those people who might be glad to avail themselves of this Commonwealth link, such as it is, as an inducement to our Protestant fellowcountrymen in the north-east corner to come in with us?

When this Bill is signed, I presume we will call ourselves, and will be termed, an independent republic, but, when one applies that term to the Twenty-Six Counties, I often wonder if a country which is economically dependent can consider itself politically independent? While I support the Bill, I do not expect anybody to whoop for joy at the repeal of the Act. Let us remember that nobody has lived for, and nobody has died for, a republic for 26 counties, for this satisfies neither the ambitions nor the aspirations of those who dreamed for and worked for, and are now more than ever determined to achieve a republic for the entire 32 counties.

I feel I should ask the question: in what way is the repeal of this Act likely to help us in the solution of the Partition problem? As I say, I am supporting the Bill, but I do not like to think what history will record of us if, by repealing this Act, we retard the realisation in our time of a complete and absolute independent republic.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  I propose to be very brief in my remarks on the repeal of the External Relations Act. I speak here as one who was not yet born when the turbulent events prior to 1922 happened. Let me, as such a one, put my point of view before this House on behalf of the new generation. A remark was made here to-night by a Deputy to the effect that no amount of talking in this House is going to decide the right or the wrong of the Treaty question, because the men who [523] are in this House were so actively connected with the events of that period that they are not fit judges to decide who was right and who was wrong. I will say this, that our advance towards the freedom which we all desire—towards a 32-county republic —and our advance towards economic independence has been terribly retarded by the bitterness and the quarrelling that have existed for the past 25 years over this question of the Treaty.

I would say that the young men and women of my age, no matter what their political outlook may be, will welcome the repeal of this Act, because it will show definitely that the aim all through, of all the political Parties, was the same in spite of misrepresentation and whatever else may have been said about it. The people of my generation, the young men and women, have a great love and respect for those men who took part in the fight from 1916 on, but it is a terrible thing that to-day those ideals that our generation have are being rudely shattered by both the actions and the words of those men who have survived that turbulent period of our history.

I am no lawyer. I have no aspirations to be an expert on law of any description, except to keep within it. I would say that, in my view, the External Relations Act was simply a lawyers' feast. We were treated to the spectacle in this House of hearing prominent men on both sides of the House, some arguing that we were a republic and others that we were not. The ordinary man or woman down the country looks to the leaders of his Party, be they in opposition or on the Government side, to let him know what our status is. Yet, on one hand, he hears we are a republic and, on the other hand, he hears a direct denial. I welcome this Bill on the ground that it is going to do away with that. We are no longer going to have men, either here or elsewhere, arguing on legal matters and technicalities to justify their position, when our whole attitude here should be concerned with the good of our country and not with the justification of our own political standpoint for the last 15 or 20 years.

[524] I do not intend to add my quota to the spate of words used here in the last two days in discussing the technical points of the External Relations Act. I say in all sincerity that we must welcome this Bill. Whether there was a need for it or not, we all know that representatives to this country had their credentials signed by the King of England and yet we were supposed to be a republic. We had the sorry experience of seeing our accredited representatives carrying letters of credence signed by the British King. The ordinary man and woman are going to welcome the repeal of this External Relations Act. Heretofore if I, as an individual, or anybody else, were to assert abroad, as we would have asserted to outsiders, that we are a republic, what answer can we give to a Frenchman or an Italian or a Belgian when they say, “Well, if you have a Republic in Ireland how is it that if our representative goes to Ireland the King of England signs his credentials?” I know perfectly well that genuine supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party were hurt and puzzled over this External Relations Act. There is no denying the fact that we may have tip-toed into a republic in the Twenty-Six Counties; we may have tip-toed into a republic under Fianna Fáil. I do not think, however, that that is the way the men who died for Ireland would like to see us getting it. When it goes through this House, the repeal of this External Relations Act will mean that as far as all political Parties are concerned they can now be on the one platform both at home and abroad to achieve the ultimate aim, namely, a 32-county republic. No longer can any one political Party take unto itself the right to say that they and they alone are republican. In future, although political Parties may never see eye to eye on domestic issues—and they never will; no Party, I should say, will agree with another on how to achieve our economic salvation—they can all agree on the ultimate aim of the republic. I think that the majority of our people will rejoice when this measure has been repealed, because they can then let slip from their memories the bad nightmare of bitterness that has existed here for the past 25 years.

[525]Major de Valera:  This debate, so far, looked backwards rather than forwards. For my part, before looking back, I should like to look forward. What is the present position from which we look forward? It is that we now universally acknowledge in this House that since 1936 this country has been separated from the old arrangement and that constitutionally we are completely free and that the free Constitution is effective at the moment only in portion of our territory. But also, of course, that Constitution asserts its claim unreservedly to the remainder of the national territory. This Bill, in its first part of its enactment, simply declares that the description of the State shall be that of a republic. The description of what State? Obviously, as I think Deputy Lehane has already pointed out, that must be taken in conjunction with the——

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present,

Major de Valera:  I was placing myself in our present actual position, and, as I said, I wanted to look forward. The actual position, as the Taoiseach pointed out, was that as from 1936 this country had ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth and had a Constitution which was effective in 26 counties of the national territory, but asserted its claim and in no way sacrificed the claim to sovereignty over the total territory of the nation. That Constitution—I shall deal with this in a legal sense afterwards, but for the moment I will content myself with the assertion that that Constitution was republican in form and in fact—is a sovereign Constitution enacted by the people directly, deriving its power and force directly from the people, is republican in nature, and that we proceeded with our everyday life thereunder until the present time.

What does this Bill do? It does two things. It declares, first of all, the nature of what we already have. Note, no statute could abrogate or modify any provision directly enacted by the [526] people as a whole in a constitutional plebiscite such as that under which our present Constitution was enacted. No power could change even one word of it. This legislation is merely descriptive. I do not think the Government would even try to pretend that it was not descriptive of an existing status and an existing fact. I do not think, however, that it is any harm that that should be asserted. It is a welcome and pleasant thing for us to find the whole House unanimous that this is the Constitution of the Irish Republic. If it were not for one remaining blot one could almost feel that our task was done and one would think that the time had come when the State could be handed over to a younger generation to continue the building of it. That is the first part of the Bill. It does no more than I have said. It does no less. I do not seek to minimise it in any way when I say that. I welcome the Bill even though it is merely declaratory of our existing position.

I come then to the second part of the Act. I think this is the substantial part of the enactment, and this contains the real substance of the Bill. The first part was hardly necessary even though it may have been desirable. The second part of the Bill deals with the change in our machinery in regard to external relations. Lawyers in the past have sought to throw up a certain amount of fog around this. It is typical of lawyers with a bad case that they are notoriously involved; when lawyers have a good case clarity is a decisive factor. In the past a certain amount of fog has been thrown up by the lawyers. One can judge for oneself as to the merits or demerits of that fog. The position was simple. In 1936 the final step in the abrogation of the old Constitution took place under the Constitution amendment No. 27. At that stage the King was obliterated for all purposes from the Constitution. In fact, the old Free State Constitution was attenuated and completely changed from what it had been. Immediately then a Bill was passed providing specifically for external relations. Under the Bill this House adopted a certain device— admittedly a novel device—of using the King of another State for purposes [527] of external relations. It is unnecessary for me to go into the reasons for that. In column 1243 of Volume 54 of the Dáil debates Professor O'Sullivan, an ex-Minister of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government and a member of the Fine Gael Party, said: “As a kind of roving consul-general, that is the only capacity in which he has brought it back.” That was a pretty accurate description. The device may have been unusual, but there is nothing unusual in appointing a citizen of another country as a consul. I understand that we have here many honorary consuls who are citizens of our own State. I think I am right in that.

Minister for External Affairs (Mr. MacBride): Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  One only.

Major de Valera:  We have consuls accredited here for, say, some South American or other States, though they are citizens of this State. This was the same device. We merely chose the King of another State, to use Professor O'Sullivan's words, as “a kind of roving consul-general”. That in no way affected our constitutional position. The King was thereafter used merely as an organ for external relations.

At that stage we become virtually a republic here. The Taoiseach is an eminent lawyer. The Attorney-General is an eminent lawyer and the Minister for External Affairs is an eminent lawyer. They have come unanimously to the conclusion that we ceased to be members of the Commonwealth in 1936 or 1937 and that the King was gone, except for external relations. I could not quote three better legal opinions in this country. The position after the last Constitutional Amendment Act in 1936 was in many respects fluid. For a period, until the enactment of the draft Constitution, it would have been very difficult to say what precisely was the constitutional position of the country in the interim. Then the precise document, Bunreacht na hÉireann, was presented to the people. It was voted upon by them and enacted directly by them to be the Constitution of the State. It enacted:—

“The national territory consists [528] of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas.

Pending the reintegration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstát Eireann and the like extra territorial effect.”

Then, in relation to external relations, “the executive power of the State in connection with its external relations shall in accordance with Article 28 of this Constitution be exercised by and on the authority of the Government.” Article 28 provided for the Government in particular. That information is available to Deputies and I shall not delay the House by reading these articles in extenso. I shall, however, advert to Article 29, paragraph 2:—

“For the purpose of the exercise of any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external relations, the Government may to such extent and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be determined by law, avail of or adopt any organ, instrument, or method of procedure used or adopted for the like purpose by the members of any group or league of nations with which the State is or becomes associated for the purpose of international co-operation in matters of common concern.”

That Article leaves the responsibility, and the power, in the Government. The words “determined by law” in it are to be interpreted as meaning law consistent with the Constitution, which is paramount in overriding law of its nature.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins  Zoom on Seán Collins  Good.

Major de Valera:  I ask Deputy Collins, if he will admit, as a lawyer, that the Constitution is of paramount importance? I am talking purely legally—it does override?

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins  Zoom on Seán Collins  I refuse to be questioned.

[529]Major de Valera:  I thought the Deputy was making some relevant observation, though it was sotto voce.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins  Zoom on Seán Collins  We were discussing the possibility that you would still be talking while Deputy Sir John Esmonde was having his tea.

Major de Valera:  That enactment in the Constitution did this and no more, it threw the responsibility and vested the power in regard to external relations equally with internal relations on the organs of the State. That is provided for explicitly in the Constitution. The responsibility and power are in the Government. But, for the purpose of exercising powers in respect of external relations, that Article authorises the use of certain external organs. It merely authorises—it is permissive—and it says nothing about a King. If, for instance, this State were to find itself in association, for the purpose of international co-operation in matters of common concern, with a totally different group of States from those with which it was associated—say, as some people would have liked prior to the last war, if it were associated with certain other groups than the groups with which it was associated, then, under that Article, it would be competent for the Government to choose an external relations machinery comparable to the one which existed up to now, but using the head of another State.

That being the position, what are we doing under this Bill? We are changing our method of foreign representation, of representation abroad. Many people think it is a good thing. For my part, sentimentally at any rate, I think it is. There was one argument of any force against doing what we are doing to-day. It is an argument that has weakened, but it was the only one of my force. What we are doing is changing an old arrangement for a new one which admittedly is more in accordance with the usual practice of States. Legislation is not necessary to discontinue the old arrangement, but legislation is necessary in order to vest the functions in the President, since the Constitution provides that powers can only be vested in the President by [530] law. We are in no sense setting up a new State or declaring a new State. It is declaratory of the position as it is. It changes the machinery for external relations. Nobody can suggest that it is the setting up of a new State because, if there was a fundamental change of the nature of declaring the Twenty-Six County area to be a republic, it would meet with serious opposition from many quarters. There is none of us who will forgo the claim to the other six counties, to the whole national territory, that the people asserted when they enacted the Constitution of 1937.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins  Zoom on Seán Collins  Did they not assert it a long time before that?

Major de Valera:  They did, but I am taking the more recent assertion by the people. I do not see that it is necessary to argue that this is declaratory of the present position. It is declaratory of the State as it exists under that Constitution and it is not intended, as undoubtedly it will be misrepresented abroad, to be merely a 26-county republic or in any way a recognition of the Border. We here are so clearly of one mind on that, I think, that one point may escape us and I want to draw attention to it here and now. Every one of us here implicitly takes it that when we are describing the State as a republic we mean a 32-county republic, to which we lay claim and to which the people laid claim in the Constitution of 1937.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  That is right.

Major de Valera:  The Minister does not even have to assure me on that. I am quite clear that it is the attitude of every Deputy. But the Minister will also agree that just as up to now the British had their own interpretation of our constitutional position, particularly up to 1936, and just as the Six-County Government chose to misrepresent our constitutional position, even now an effort will be made to pretend that this Irish Republic is a republic for the Twenty-Six Counties only. I, for one, in voting for this Bill want to make it perfectly clear that it is for the 32-county republic that I am voting and [531] I think every other Deputy in this House feels the same.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins  Zoom on Seán Collins  Certainly.

Major de Valera:  You know the name that is in this Constitution. The name of the State still continues to be in it and pending the reintegration of the national territory the word “republic” was not used up till now, possibly for fear of misrepresentation.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Does the Deputy say we can make legislation now for the Six Counties?

Major de Valera:  We claim all Ireland.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  But can we do it under the Constitution?

Major de Valera:  Read the Constitution. I say the name “Éire” was misrepresented in popular usage and in some places it was maliciously used to designate the Twenty-Six Counties and not the Ireland of the Constitution. I want to appeal to all Deputies here to co-operate in securing that the usage of the words “Republic of Ireland” or “Poblacht na hEireann” will not degenerate into merely a description of the Twenty-Six Counties as a republic.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Did the Deputy read Article 3 of the Constitution?

Major de Valera:  The Deputy has made a speech. Will he allow me to make mine?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Very well.

Major de Valera:  We can have no equivocation on that point. It would be completely foreign to all our aspirations and contrary to our intentions, so that, in the passing of this Bill, I ask all here for their co-operation in ensuring that an honoured name—yes, to the people of this country, a holy name — will not be allowed to degenerate into merely a description of part of a partitioned Ireland.

So much for the present position. It is going to go through this House practically unanimously—I hope, unanimously. The next thing is to look to [532] the future. Looking back, we can see that now we have been able to establish, after a painful road, the complete sovereignty of the people of this country in Twenty-Six Counties. The big task of getting in the other six remains, but, beyond that, the task of consolidating the position and making sure that there is no sacrifice of the sovereignty already gained is one which is not light. I must confess that I have certain fears for the future. Many people outside have been anxious to know the nature of the discussions that took place, and have been apprehensive about any agreements. The Minister for External Affairs is to reply, and undoubtedly we will hear details from him. We must insist, however, that there will be no sacrifice of anything which has now been gained.

For my part, I am more afraid of the dangers of drift for the future than I am afraid of the dangers of positive agreement, at least at the moment. We can very easily drift into a position in which our sovereignty can be endangered by not taking the necessary steps at the moment to preserve ourselves than in any other way. Where are we? I do not want to touch upon subjects which are in their detail foreign to this debate, but it seems to me that the duties of nationhood and the duties associated with national sovereignty demand that we place ourselves in a position to account for ourselves. The world is not in a very happy position at the moment. It may be that a crisis could come upon us, a criss either leading to hostilities or involving hostilities between other States. In these circumstances, where do we stand? This State, now described as the republic of Ireland, is located in a particular geographic position which cannot be ignored.

It is located in a position which makes it necessary for us to take into account what is going on in the world at large between other nations. We must account for that unit of territory and are we doing it? What does accounting for that unit of territory mean? It means that we are in a position to feed our own people to as great [533] an extent as possible, to have our own Defence Force, to garrison ourselves to as great an extent as possible, and to build up the morale of our people to the extent that they will say: “We will account for our own unit of territory here and preserve our sovereignty.” To-day we pass a declaration, but what are we doing about to-morrow to implement it, to make it a reality and to see to it that what we declare to-day is not jeopardised by want of action to preserve it to-morrow?

It is foreign to this debate to go into details on these matters, but the danger I see here is the danger of drift. You can drift into a situation where your power of decision is taken away from you, where, because you have not got the food or the disposition to account for your own territory, you have to bow to the decision of somebody else and so are deprived of the value of your sovereignty. In other words, you have to bow to the sovereignty of somebody else. We could drift into that position and there is no use in blinking the facts. We are jubilant to-day that we have got so far. Not only have we to embrace the Six Counties in our programme for the future, but we have to ensure that what we have got we do not lose, and lose by default rather than by positive action.

I will, perhaps, be pardoned if I go into a few details, without trying to expand the nature of the debate, in order to make quite clear the point I am making. Suppose we go on and leave ourselves completely dependent on food supplies from elsewhere; suppose all our grain has to be imported from America—where are we to be if hostilities commence and we depend on the transatlantic crossing, which may become as precarious as it was during the two wars that have gone? Where would we be if we let ourselves drift back to the position in which we were completely dependent on England's coal? Two of the major factors in surviving the last war were the fact that we had got to the stage at which we could produce such a quota of our own food and our own fuel that we were able to surmount the difficulties created by the cutting off of supplies. The supply of coal was completely or [534] very largely cut off and the supply of grain was very largely cut off. Even if they had been completely cut off we were still in a position to make a free choice regarding our own neutrality. Where would we be in future if we did not preserve that freedom by preparing for food supplies and making arrangements regarding fuel to take only two examples? If you are leaving yourself completely dependent on foreigners as the present Minister for Agriculture would seem to suggest, you are open to dictation the moment a crisis breaks. They have only to say to you: “If you do not toe the line we will cut off your food and fuel. You have no arrangements made and so you had better line up”. I put that up purely as an example. It is not sufficient to declare the existing state of independence as far as the 26 Counties are concerned and to reiterate our claim to the 32 Counties; we must take positive action here to preserve that for the future and above all things preserve our freedom of action in any future emergency. I am not so foolish here to-day as to commit myself to any particular line to be taken in the case of an emergency and I am not to be taken in any sense as saying now what we should do if such an emergency breaks.

It is a foolish man who will say what he is going to do before he has seen round the corner. They are only examples to hammer home my point about freedom of action. Whatever decision the people of this State take in a time of emergency, it must be taken by the free will of the people and of the Government on their behalf. To make a free decision it is essential to preserve freedom of action and to attend to all such preliminary preparations as I have indicated. If any Government in Irish history will be open to the reproach, to the condemnation and the curses of the people, it will be that Government, if any, who will fail to look ahead and take those precautions to preserve what has been won.

There is another point I would touch on that is important. In detail it will come into another debate but the point is as a corollary to that—we must be in a position here to garrison our country. When I say garrison, I [535] mean it in the broadest sense. We must garrison our own unit of territory whether we are in co-operation or strictly neutral. The particular premises on which you face the emergency is not at issue on that point. You can tabulate under a few heads the possible alternatives open and each can formulate his own judgment as to what course is to be taken. The alternatives are few, but whichever you choose it is desirable that we should provide here for the defence of this country to the extent of being able to garrison our own country whether we are in with anybody else or whether we are out.

At a time of crisis, if we do not do that, we are at the mercy of outsiders, and for some, perhaps, no matter how good their will towards us, it may be a matter of military necessity to supply a garrison here if we are negligent in that first duty to ourselves as a sovereign State. I hammer that point home because we can rejoice that we have reached so far. I do not think that there is any member of this House who has not agreed as to what is the ultimate step which is all that is necessary to give us Poblacht na hÉireann in all its glory and in all its reality. It is a big step, but that one step is all that remains. We are united; we are determined and we see clearly what the objective is. But the danger is that having reached that point we might go backwards rather than forwards through inaction, through failing to take, at this stage, the steps which the dignity of our nationhood demands. I view with alarm some of the present developments in that regard, and to the Minister for External Affairs I would appeal particularly to be on his guard because it is absolutely apparent on our history that we can, through inaction, slip backwards more easily than we can drive forward through action. The present Minister for Agriculture has been advocating the separation of the whole of the western powers, as they are called, into groups on a strategic plan. I notice here that he talks of England and the position of these islands from a strategic point of view. At the same time he is [536] advocating the dependence of the eastern portion on the western for grain. That to my mind is a very dangerous step. It seems to me that these are the first steps to commitment.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Surely you might quote it fully if you are going to criticise.

Major de Valera:  The quotations can be very easily got if the Deputy wishes. He said that the only such invulnerable base was the island citadel of Britain.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  What did he say about it?

Major de Valera:  I can read it for you.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  If it is there by all means, but if it is not do not.

Major de Valera:  Unfortunately I have not the complete quotations in the newspaper report. He said that the only such invulnerable base was the island citadel of Britain and therefore the cause of liberty demands that Britain should not be borne down by burdens greater than she can bear. This is the Irish Press of November 24th.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  Is there any reference to Ireland?

Major de Valera:  I am dealing with the general situation.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  The Minister does not read the Irish Press. He only reads the Irish Times or the Irish Independent or maybe the Daily Express.

Major de Valera:  The Minister will appreciate that I am dealing with a view——

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Which is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  I may be wrong but I understood the Deputy to say that the Minister for Agriculture has made a statement in America concerning Ireland's position in a war. The quotation the Deputy has read deals with the position of Britain.

Major de Valera:  I said “these islands.”

[537]Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  I have not heard the words “these islands.”

Major de Valera:  If the Minister will permit me, I will get the quotations later.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  I do not know whether the thing is relevant.

Major de Valera:  I was developing an argument and it appeared to me that some people here think—the Minister for Agriculture in particular—in terms of our being in a western union scheme and that part of that scheme would be that England should be the citadel and I was going to develop from that this one point.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  May I take it then that what the Deputy is driving at is that Ireland should have nothing to do with western union?

Major de Valera:  I shall repeat what I have said already. I am not in any way saying what should or should not be done in an emergency.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  Does the Deputy suggest——

Major de Valera:  Will the Minister let me get to the point I want to make, which is this——

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  You are a long time coming to it.

Major de Valera:  The point is whether you are in or out——

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  Of what?

Major de Valera:  Any association— western union or anything else, it is essential for us in this country to preserve our freedom of action, our freedom of choice to do the best for ourselves. Whether you are in a defence scheme or whether you are not, it is obviously desirable to develop your own defence forces so that you yourself will garrison your own country, or by default you will be compelled to submit to an arrangement whereby your country will be occupied by foreign troops. The Minister will please understand——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I shall [538] allow the Deputy to develop this point as I am anxious to see its relevancy.

Major de Valera:  I am only making the point that for the future we have to take steps here to see that our freedom of action is preserved and, to my mind, that means the maintenance of the ability to meet a crisis where you might have to feed yourself and find your own fuel, on the one hand, and where you might have to garrison your own country for security purposes on the other hand. These are three essentials to the preservation of the reality which we are declaring to-day.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I have allowed Deputy de Valera to develop that point because I understood that his thesis was that we should be careful not to slip back to the old position. The considerations which he has put forward however would arise subsequent to the passage of the Bill and subsequent to the coming into operation of the Republic of Ireland. The relevancy of these points is not very clear to the Chair.

Major de Valera:  I bow to the Chair's ruling. I have made my point and I want to make it no further or no less. The Minister will appreciate this, subject to the qualifications I have made. The examples I took were purely illustrative. I think I can leave it at that but there is something to be guarded against.

To come to the Taoiseach's speech, the Taoiseach himself lightly reviewed history and there have been certain reviews of history since. I, for my part, feel that certain glosses have been put on the debate heretofore. I think the Minister for External Affairs will agree with me that it is unnecessary to go too far back but, since certain claims have been made here, he will also agree that no republican has any apologies to offer for the past. I think as a one-time soldier of the republic himself, as a member of the Army of the republic which was the root of the movement which has got us so far, I think he will agree with me. It is only necessary for me merely to assert that fact without going back. Certain claims have been made and they have gone back to pre-Treaty times. I content myself with saying that there are [539] no apologies for the republican attitude and that the claim that has heretofore been made is in no way abrogated.

Passing over the civil war, we can look at some of our history with advantage. The first thing to note however is that, for whatever reasons, this Treaty was accepted under the threat of immediate and terrible war, was accepted reluctantly by at least four—I think I can say by all of those who signed it—as the lesser of two evils and it, was hoped that it would be a stepping stone. It led, in fact, to disastrous consequences which perhaps were not clearly foreseen. As I say, I pass over the civil war.

The most disastrous consequence of the Treaty was Partition. It provided itself explicitly for Partition and led to the Boundary Commission; to the Agreement of 1926 which made Partition a reality. The Agreement of 1926 also led to agreements that were kept secret from this House—the agreement in regard to the annuities for instance. On the other hand, one must concede here that there were representatives of the pro-Treaty Party who did make valiant efforts at Westminster, at least to try to maintain the idea of the sovereignty of this people even though they got themselves into a cleft stick. I want to be objective in this and to give credit where credit is due. While doing that, it is necessary to advert to the principle.

The Taoiseach has time and time again laid stress on the fact that the Statute of Westminster, in his claim, was the charter of our liberty, that in other words, the Treaty was enlarged by the Statute of Westminster and that our liberty has its roots in that statute. Now that is a thesis to which no republican can subscribe. We never did owe allegiance to the British Crown, and if we did not owe allegiance to the British Crown, we could not derive our title from the Statute of Westminster. I feel that the Taoiseach and other people in adopting that argument have hardly been fair to their colleagues who fought on that issue and perhaps I can do no better than to quote the Minister for Finance to make my point in this regard.

[540] The position was that they accepted the Treaty. They did not sacrifice in principle the sovereignty of this people. They approached it on the basis that they had entered into a Treaty. That was their legal point of view, so they could not have derived any title from the Statute of Westminster and in trying to represent our freedom, such as it is, as derived from the Statute of Westminster, we would be in the words of Deputy McGilligan, now Minister for Finance, forswearing all the past. He dealt with that problem pretty specifically on the Constitution (Removal of Oath) Bill, 1932 Second Stage, as reported at column 996 Vol. 41. Having dealt with the Statute of Westminster, he says, referring to it:—

“But where are we in relation to the Treaty under that Statute? Bettered in no way in regard to the Treaty.”

That is Mr. McGilligan at column 996, Volume 41. Then, at column 997, he continues:—

“The Treaty obligation still subsists. The Statute of Westminster can only be imported into the argument by us on one thesis. I was glad, for the sake of the State, that the President did not adopt that thesis. If we adopt the thesis that the country holds its Constitution by an Act of the British Parliament, that it is the creature of the British Parliament, then, undoubtedly, the Statute of Westminster gives you power to rewrite that statute, but the dangers and the pitfalls before any nationalist in this country in accepting that thesis are so obvious that nobody who desires the name of nationalist could ever adopt it. If we adopted the thesis that this country holds its legislative powers through an Act of the British Government would we not be forswearing all the past?”

Therefore, it is obvious, on these very arguments, to which I subscribe, we cannot say we derive our sovereignty from any British statute. Our attitude has been that the sovereignty of this nation is derived from the people of this country and from nobody else, [541] and that was the attitude of the Minister for Finance as well and, if there were any doubt about it, a similar quotation is to be found from Professor O'Sullivan on the same occasion, column 727:—

“On this side of the House—I cannot speak for those on the other side—we never pretended that the authority of this Oireachtas was derived from any Act in Westminster.... If an Act of the WestMinster Parliament is to be looked upon as in any way the foundation of our liberties, it is an Act, of course, of the Westminster Parliament and it can be repealed as well as passed. Our attitude has always been that that does not affect us. Our position is based on the Acts of this Parliament. We are bound by a Treaty.”

The attitude of the whole Party, in fact, at that time, was that there was an obligation and they adhered to the Treaty. I am quoting that in order to dispel this argument of the Taoiseach's that our liberties were in fact enfranchised by the Statute of Westminster.

There were two possible stands open to them. One was to rely on the Statute of Westminster, in which you got caught in the pitfall that you derived your sovereignty from it, something that no nationalist, as Mr. McGilligan says, could ever accept. On the other hand, if you adopted the stand that sovereignty was derived from our people but that you adhered to the Treaty, then you had the extraordinary position that you were adhering to a voluntary sacrifice of your sovereignty which, apparently, was to exist for all time. So, therefore, the position in 1932 was this that here you had a State set up in which, by the Constitution Act, the Treaty was part of our constitutional law and, under Section 2 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) Act, 1922, the overriding provision in our law, and under that Constitution, there was a King in whom all executive authority was vested.

All executive authority was vested in the Crown and, under that, there was an Oireachtas consisting of the King [542] and two Houses of Parliament and under it every member of that Parliament was to swear allegiance to that King. The State was declared to be a member of the British Empire and everything was subservient to a Treaty which provided, on that view, contractually, but nevertheless, in that view, obligatorily, that allegiance was due to the foreign King, that special defence facilities would be given in time of war and a provision with the potentials of Partition in it. But Partition, of course, by that time—1932— had been a reality and must be read in conjunction with the 1926 Agreement which struck out the proviso in the Treaty, which might have been some assistance—the proviso to Article 12— and which accepted in effect the Boundary Commission's gift of six counties away. Now, there was your position in 1932.

From that time, constitutional evolution continued. It seems to me that it is beside the question as to whether one had power or not to do these things from the Westminster standpoint for you have to throw over the Westminster standpoint immediately, on Mr. McGilligan's argument. The issue, therefore, was between republicans and a Party which at that time stood on the Treaty and said it was sufficient and that that should be the position, a Party which later went further, to declare themselves to be a completely Commonwealth Party. In face of that, the oath went first and with the oath went Section 2 of the Constitution Act and the effect of that was, of course, to remove the Treaty from itself being overriding law. If anyone doubts that opinion, he can take the opinion of the then Minister for Justice, Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney, K.C., regarding the matter, at column 654-5:—

“In consequence, if the whole of Section 2 is taken away, not portion of it, then the Treaty has no longer got the force of law in this country. .... In other words, you will have brought about a position of affairs that the Treaty is not ratified and is abrogated. You could have taken no choicer or better way to proceed to denounce the Treaty than you have taken by this measure.”

[543] Mr. Fitzgerald, an ex-member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, said, at columns 601-2:—

“In this we are removing Section 2 of the Constitution Act. I do not pretend to be impeccable on the legal side, but as far as I understand it, the effect of the Constitution Act, among other things, was to give the force of law to the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty. Consequently, the Treaty up to this moment has had the force of law here.”

That, therefore, was the position: The then Government, in 1932, commencing to get away from the Treaty position; the ex-Government and the Opposition, with the exception of Labour, opposing that. This went on. Every single measure was opposed here, up to the Twenty-seventh Amendment, which finally got rid of the King, as now admitted. These were all opposed and voted against by Fine Gael. They voted, however, for the External Relations Act. Then came the Constitution. They opposed that too but that was the break in the Treaty position.

I would not have gone back on these things at all were it not for the fact that the Taoiseach, first of all, sought to derive, if I understood his argument correctly, the present position from the Statute of Westminster. In principle, at any rate, no such case should be made, or if the case is made it is one which, in Deputy McGilligan's words, “no nationalist could subscribe to.” I would not have raised it or gone back on that were it not that it was necessary to correct that matter of principle. One would equally concede, of course, that in the British view of the case, which would be the Westminster view, and in their adopting that view, it was, easier in practice for us to go ahead here. That must be conceded. But they obstructed what they helped to facilitate. Historians will pay great credit to the Irish representatives in their re-forming of the British Empire, because the real achievement of the Irish representatives before 1932 was the reorganisation of the British Empire. They played a large part in that and towards the enfranchisement [544] of the members of the Commonwealth. However, that is beside the argument here, except in so far as it gave the British an erroneous theory and an easy way out for not opposing any further progress.

It is difficult to understand why, when the situation was so, and when the principle of the root of our sovereignty was recognised as it was, the developments over those years should have been opposed and retarded. If one accepts the Taoiseach's argument, once the Treaty was broken and the British did not object, they were released. The Treaty was broken in 1933 by the removal of Section 2 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State Act, 1922. Why did not the co-operation come then? At latest, the Treaty was broken in December, 1936. Even if the argument which the Taoiseach advanced was valid, valid up to 1936, we could go forward then; but, the situation having completely changed, they still opposed the enactment of the Constitution. That is a difficult thing to understand. Let us leave it there in history. We are apparently all united here to-day in the one move forward. Let us be united and I, for one, am very glad to see that Fine Gael have taken the attitude they have taken in this regard, and I appeal to them, as to every one of the rest of us in the House, to co-operate in that effort, which I am sure everyone will make, to see that there is no slipping back. I would ask particularly, since they have the majority in the Cabinet, to look seriously to the matters I have indicated in questions of economics and defence, with a view to securing our freedom of action for the future.

That has brought me to 1937. It is still necessary, in view of some of the things that have been said, to go back on some other points of the debate. One development after another left us in the position where we were able to make a free decision in 1939 and we decided to remain out of the war. Fine Gael, equally with other Parties in the House, accepted the decision of the majority of the people of this country to be neutral and co-operated in the effort to mind our own business here and keep our people from being embroiled in the war. We had immediately [545] the difficulty that situation gave rise to. First of all, you had some people whose efforts, whatever their motives were, were likely to commit us in one direction. In December, 1939, the Magazine Fort was raided. If that had happened in April, 1940, it might have involved us in hostilities. Such efforts were made at that time and right through the war. On the other hand, there were some efforts made by other people to involve us on the other side. If one refers to the memoirs of Mr. Cordell Hull, one will see what I mean precisely—something that actually culminated in a declaration in this House afterwards. There you had a position where the people of this country had to steer between two opposite things—one dragging one way and one dragging another. I hope that, for the future, there will be no dragging except in one direction, in our own interest altogether.

I am reluctant to go further into detail on that point at this moment, reserving to myself the right for the future to develop it. In the hope that we are now facing a new era, I will simply ask everybody to accept the State as we have it now and accept the law and the order of the State. There is no oath to bar anybody, no foreign allegiance to bar anybody. Accept that as it is and then let us have order in the State. There is an irritant in the Border, but that is no justification for any unlawful organisations or unlawful movements down in this part of the country.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Hear, hear!

Major de Valera:  I am hampered by the fact that I could be very much more explicit on that point, but in the interests of all of us, trying to get forward instead of looking backward, I am trying to be restrained. The Government of the day, whatever Government it is, whether it be the present Government or their successors, must be the Government. They are the Government of the State which we have now declared to be the Republic of Ireland and they must rule and in their hands must be the organs of government and the means of implementing [546] government and of keeping order. No other persons have the right to arrogate to themselves any of these functions, which are the Government's by right of the Constitution and their election in this House by the representatives who have been freely elected by the people. That must be the principle. Conversely, it is the responsibility of the Government to enforce that order and that law. I think I can content myself with that remark. If I, as a younger member, have restrained many of the thoughts that are in me to-night, if I have been restraining myself as I have—there are many things I would have said and could have said and that my feelings would make me say as a republican—I insist simply to-night that there are no apologies to be made and no forswearing. If I have made that sacrifice, in a sense, of my own feelings, I made it because I think we should look forward. I ask every Deputy of the younger generation like me to face it in the same spirit.

Mr. M. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Do you not include Deputy MacEntee?

Major de Valera:  Deputy O'Higgins might be wiser not to say anything. As I said, in spite of many other things that I might have replied to, I am being very restrained. I do so in the hope that we can look forward rather than anything else, though, as I have said and the Minister will appreciate, no republican has anything to be ashamed of in the past. Let us look forward. We should like to know from the Minister what he has to offer us in the way of information about those conferences. If he can secure benefits for this country and security for us as we are and perhaps move towards what we want, we are all with him. I will not give voice to fears. Let me hope these fears are not well-grounded, but I ask him and the rest of the Government to see that what we have we hold and that in the realms of economics and defence steps are taken immediately to see that our sovereignty is preserved by preserving our freedom of action for future decision and that we are not allowed to slide into a position where we shall have no choice when a crisis is forced on us.

[547]Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  The Deputy can sleep easily.

Major de Valera:  I hope so.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  It was not my intention to intervene in this debate and I do not propose to detain the House for any length as there has been a very lengthy debate on this Bill. I have been a little longer a member of the House than Deputy de Valera, Junior, and have been mighty inquisitive in the past. On more than one occasion when in opposition I was very anxious to ascertain exactly what our position was so far as the British Commonwealth of Nations was concerned.

Within the past six or seven years I have repeatedly addressed questions to Deputy de Valera when he was Taoiseach. Everybody who has any lengthy experience of this House knows that Deputy de Valera, Senior, has been a very difficult individual to get a straight answer from on any occasion. It is not my intention to be personal and I would be very sorry to be abusive, but I can say without fear of contradiction that if Deputy de Valera swallowed a nail it would immediately turn into a corkscrew.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  These remarks should not be made.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  On one occasion I asked the then Minister for External Affairs “whether he was aware of a statement made in the British House of Commons by the Under-Secretary for Dominions that Éire is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations; if this statement is correct and, if not, if he will consider a public denial of it”. The then Taoiseach replied in the usual fashion. His reply was:

“I can only say that this matter was settled back in 1936 and in 1937 by the External Relations Act on the one hand and the Constitution on the other hand. It has not been changed since, and we do not propose to change it.”

He made that statement on the 29th November, 1944. I then addressed a supplementary to him and this is the report in the Official Debates:

[548]“Mr. Flanagan: Then we are a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations?

The Taoiseach: Make up your mind about it.”

That was the sort of answer that was given to citizens who did not know exactly whether they were in the Commonwealth or not; he asked them to make up their own mind about it. Was it not very difficult for a citizen living, say, either on the top or on the slopes of the Macgillicuddy Reeks to make up his mind whether we were inside or outside the Commonwealth? So far as the last Government was concerned, we never at any time got any information as to whether we were or whether we were not. For that reason I extend a welcome to this Bill because it certainly will clear the air and I congratulate the Taoiseach and the Government on its introduction. I am glad to see that it is being welcomed by Fianna Fáil. When they were the Government, the then Taoiseach clearly admitted in 1944 that they had no intention of changing it. I believe that if this country were unfortunate enough to have a Fianna Fáil Government to-day the External Relations Act would not be repealed. For that reason I, as one Deputy supporting the Government, in my own small way pledge them whole-hearted support and welcome the introduction of this very necessary legislation which will let us see exactly where we stand. Deputy de Valera, Junior, has made an appeal for unity. He has asked us all to step together and to step forward.

Mr. M. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Now he stands alone on the Fianna Fáil Benches.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  It might be no harm if Deputy de Valera would sound the same note to his colleagues in his own Party. I have heard the civil war being dragged into this debate. I admit I know nothing whatever about the civil war. I want to know nothing about it and the majority of the young men in this country desire to know nothing about it. It would be a good day for this country if the bitterness that still prevails arising out of the civil war was deeply buried and forgotten.

[549] It was extraordinary to hear Deputy de Valera appealing for unity and to hear his colleague, Deputy Lemass, rapping at the civil war, speaking of murders and speaking of the discontent that certainly has prevailed in this country in the past. In my own small way I, like Deputy de Valera, claim to be a republican. I owe allegiance neither to King nor President.

Major de Valera:  Then you are an anarchist.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  And as for the Commonwealth of Nations, I do not give two thraneens about it. While we are wasting our time—probably it is necessary and I believe it is—discussing a Bill of this kind, when it is passed we will in future be known as the Republic of Ireland. But we have two further steps to go. One is the ending of Partition. I believe that we were never as near to the ending of Partition as we are to-day, thanks to the good work and the happy relationships brought about by the Taoiseach and the present Government. I believe that, under the leadership of Deputy Costello as Taoiseach, and in the lifetime of this Government, the question of Partition will be solved to our satisfaction, because a genuine and serious effort is being made to do so. But there is a further and very necessary step that we must take in order to complete our independence, and that is to break the link with sterling. If we are to be a complete independent republic, a sovereign independent State, I hold that this Government, or some Government, will have seriously to consider tackling the present banking system whereby we are completely tied down to British sterling, and that some consideration will have to be given to the question of setting up our own monetary system. These are two mighty important steps for the future of this country. I believe they are two questions which the men in this Government are intelligent enough, big enough and capable enough of concluding to our complete satisfaction.

We have had in the past men fighting for, men imprisoned for and men dying for a republic in this country. When this Bill is passed we will have [550] in Southern Ireland all the freedom that we can have, and there will be no further need, as Deputy de Valera pointed out, and rightly so, for any further disorder or disunity or for any further demands for the establishment of a republic. Every public-spirited Deputy must bear in mind no matter on what side of the House he sits, that he has a responsibility. That responsibility is to contribute his share, however great or small, towards bringing about the complete unity of our country.

I believe, as the Taoiseach said yesterday, that the ending of Partition is a matter which rests completely with the British Government. They were responsible for its birth, they are responsible for its continued existence and they must be responsible for its removal. It is up to this Government and to the Opposition and to every Deputy to see that no stone is left unturned for the bringing of proper pressure on the British Government for the ending of Partition. I believe that the British Government will be slow in doing so unless the pressure which the present Government has put on them is continued, because at the present time England secures £10 millions worth of poultry from Ulster, 340,000 tons of potatoes per year, 180,000 fat sheep and cattle, 18 million gallons of milk per year and 300 million eggs per year. In addition during the recent war very valuable and able assistance was contributed by Ulster to England when she supplied her with 140 warships, 123 merchant vessels, 200 million yards of cloth, 1,500 heavy bombers and huge supplies of foodstuffs. These were welcome and very valuable at the time to Great Britain. England does not know at the moment when there may be another war. I hope we are far from it, but, nevertheless, they are going to bear in mind for the future the kindness and the generosity and the good necessary contributions contributed by Ulster in the past, and they are going to say: “Ulster played its part by us in the past and we will hold them there if, for no other purpose, than to secure the major support that they contributed to us during the years of the war.”

[551]Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  On a point of explanation. When you speak of Ulster, do you mean the northern interpretation of Ulster or our interpretation of it as a geographical unit?

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  If the Deputy is a school teacher, which he professes to be, he should know what I mean.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  I know that my own interpretation of Ulster is the nine counties.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I am speaking of the portion of Ulster controlled and administered by the Ulster Government —the Six Counties.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  We do not recognise it as such.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I call it Ulster, and that is what suits me and not what suits Deputy Kitt.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael F. Kitt  Zoom on Michael F. Kitt  If you recognise the Northern Parliament's declaration of it, then I walk out of this House as a protest.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  It does not worry me where the Deputy walks. I am satisfied that I can refer to the Government of the six north-eastern counties of this country as the Ulster Government, and I believe that I am quite right in doing so. For those reasons that I have given I believe that unless very great pressure is brought to bear on the British Government they will be rather slow in consenting to the removal of the Border and an end to the Partition of our country. I certainly welcome the measure. I am very pleased to see that support has been pledged even by the Opposition to bring about the complete unity of our country, and I believe that support will be appreciated. I can say that this Bill, when passed, will let us know exactly where we stand. It is a welcome measure which certainly clears the air and it is one on which the Government, especially the Taoiseach, is to be heartily congratulated.

I am very sorry that members of this House, especially members of the Opposition, saw fit to endeavour to undermine as far as possible the confidence of the people in this legislation by lying, malicious and damaging propaganda. The real judges of such conduct [552] are the people. Deputy MacEntee saw fit to speak in a very loud tone of voice on the subject of this Bill within the last few weeks. I believe he uttered the most destructive type of criticism he possibly could with the intention of damaging this Bill and of arousing discontent in the minds of our people. When Deputy MacEntee spoke in this House in April, 1932, on the removal of the oath—Official Reports, Vol. 41, col. 596—he said:—

“If there is to be any argument based upon the history and tradition of the majority of the people of the Six Counties, then I say that the republican form of Government would offer on historical and traditional grounds, a greater inducement to the Presbyterians of the North, to the descendants of those who fought and died for the republican cause in 1798—provided that the economic circumstances were favourable, and this Government is going to make the economic circumstances favourable— to throw in their lot with the people of the Twenty-Six Counties, and make once again a united Ireland.”

That was a different Deputy Seán MacEntee from the Deputy Seán MacEntee we heard last Sunday. That was a different Deputy Seán MacEntee from the Deputy Seán MacEntee we heard last night and from the Deputy Seán MacEntee who spoke to the Yeats Fianna Fáil Cumann. I hope that since Deputy MacEntee saw fit to scourge and attack this measure he will not lose this opportunity of letting this House hear his views to-night. Let him repeat in this House the accusations he made outside the House concerning this legislation. When we hear and read so much about Deputy MacEntee being so courageous and so plucky, I believe that he will not sneak out of the door of this House to-night without letting us hear his views in full on the External Relations Act which is being repealed by this Bill.

Deputy de Valera, Senior, addressed the House yesterday on this measure. He has on many occasions both in this House and outside it claimed that we are a republic and that we have been a republic. At an Árd-Fheis which was held in 1938 a motion was put forward [553] by a Fianna Fáil cumann in Ardara, County Donegal, asking the Árd-Fheis to call on the Government to repeal the External Relations Act. During the lively debate that took place on the motion from this district Deputy de Valera said:

“There is no constitutional obstacle—there may be obstacles of facts or on material or other grounds, but there is no legal obstacles,” he continued, “to your declaring a republic in the morning. Dáil Eireann has only got to repeal the External Relations Act, 1936, and you have a complete republic....”

That extract is taken from a report published in the Irish Press of Wednesday, 23rd November, 1938. Therefore, in accordance with Deputy de Valera's own words when he addressed his supporters in 1938 it is only now, when this Act is repealed, that we shall have a republic. I believe that this is one of the best Acts that could possibly be introduced. It will enable every Irishman to realise exactly where he stands. He will now know exactly that we have no connection with the Empire, the Commonwealth or the Crown. For that reason I welcome this measure and I support it.

I join in the appeal that has already been made to every Deputy in this House to assist in every way possible towards bringing about a state of affairs whereby, within the near future, we shall be in the proud and happy position of being able to say that our republic has stretched to the Six Counties of Ulster.

Mr. Cogan: Information on Patrick Cogan  Zoom on Patrick Cogan  I have frequently advocated in this House that matters affecting our external relations should be decided by mutual agreement among ourselves and should not be the subject of division among Parties. I think it is fundamentally wrong that we should present to the outer world a divided front on important matters of foreign affairs. When the Government introduced this Bill and when the Opposition Party agreed to its enactment, I think it is highly desirable that there should not be any division or any dissent in regard to the measure. I cannot share Deputy Flanagan's wild enthusiasm for this [554] particular Bill. It has been described as a measure of clarification. As such it may be useful. As such it may be essential. But in regard to the procedure adopted in its introduction and to the announcement of the decision of the Government to introduce it, I feel that there was another approach to this matter.

This is a measure that affects not only our own country but Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations. It affects the problem of Partition. It affects our relations with the other democratic nations with which we have been in close association. When it was proposed to introduce such a measure as this I think it would have been advisable that there should have been a conference with the nations affected and some agreement should have been reached with them before the Government announced its intention of introducing this Bill. To most of us it came as a complete surprise. We were generally under the impression that a matter of this kind would be left in abeyance until other more pressing and urgent problems affecting our social and economic life would have been satisfactorily solved. Perhaps that reaction is one of the penalties, or the advantages, of being an Independent Deputy. An Independent Deputy has to make up his own mind. An Independent Deputy cannot leave his thinking to his Party leaders. He has to work out each particular problem in his own way and come to his own conclusions. There are many important considerations which influence Deputies in making up their minds.

It has been said that this is a clarification Bill. I am aware that there is considerable need for clarification. As I see it, however, the position for the past 11 years has been that we have had a republic in relation to our internal affairs. As far as the British Government and the Commonwealth of Nations were concerned they did not recognise the fact that we had a republic. This Bill has one major effect. It deprives the British Government of the excuse they formerly had for pretending that this nation was part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In that way it creates special problems. It is my earnest hope that these problems [555] will be successfully solved. They are problems affecting the citizenship of our nationals abroad, problems affecting external trade and vital matters of that kind. I welcome the statements made by the representatives of the Governments of Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations that they are prepared to make reciprocal arrangements which will help to satisfactorily solve any problems that may arise.

One matter which has caused considerable anxiety in the minds of a great many people is the question as to how this Bill will affect the solution of the problem of the Partition. Since the decision of the Government was announced to introduce this Bill I have repeatedly asked myself why Deputy de Valera, when the Taoiseach, did not introduce a measure of this kind; why did he not undertake the repeal of the External Relations Bill? Viewing the matter objectively, I am forced to the conclusion that he refrained from taking that step because he considered it to be in the national interest not to do so. He could not have had any personal or Party interest in refraining from its repeal.

In fairness then we must assume that he acted in the national interest. Immediately the question is raised in one's mind as to whether he was mistaken in considering it was in the national interest that this small link should be maintained between our country and Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations. Did he appreciate from his experience that there was a possibility that this link might in some way bring about the unity of our country? When we consider how strong the influence exerted upon him must have been to repeal the External Relations Act and how strong the temptation must have been, I think the fact that he preserved that Act would seem to indicate that he at any rate believed it possessed some value in relation to the solution of Partition. It may be that he realises now he was mistaken or, on the other hand, it may be that he realises that since he has not the responsibility of Government and since the Government have announced their intention to repeal the [556] Act, there is no possible alternative for him but to support the Government's decision. Whatever considerations may have influenced him, it certainly has given him very considerable thought that he, at least for 11 years, preserved that link.

The reply of the Taoiseach on that matter is that the link of the Crown, which was preserved in the External Relations Act, did not succeed in removing Partition and, therefore, there is no reason why we should continue to preserve that link any longer. That is a very drastic decision to take, the fixing of a time limit beyond which the inducement contained in this Act may not be held out to the Six Counties. But the decision has been taken and it has been announced to the world and very little can be said about it beyond making the best of the situation that has arisen. It is our duty to take all possible means within our power to use the new position which will arise when this Bill becomes law, to utilise our national status for the solution of the problem of Partition.

Can we, in passing this Bill through the House, do anything or add anything to what is contained in the Bill to strengthen the position in regard to national unity? Can we do anything more than offer to the Six Counties, to Great Britain and to the nations of the Commonwealth, anything more than a promise of friendship and goodwill? That is a question which this House has got to consider. The world, as we know, is hanging perilously between peace and war. The nations of the world that are still free are in grave peril of having their freedom completely destroyed. Can we not, as a free nation, small and weak though we are, give an assurance even now to the other free nations—the United States, the nations of Western Europe and the nations that were formerly associated with us in the Commonwealth of Nations—that in any effort that they may make in the future to preserve their independence and their own way of life, this small nation will be with them wholeheartedly right to the end? That is the only way in which the peace of the world can be preserved. The unity of all the nations that are still free and their determination to stand. [557] together, are the only things that can preserve the peace of Europe and the peace of the world.

There were statements made here to-night in regard to this question. A statement was made by another Independent Deputy in which he advocated complete isolation and in which he spoke of the danger of this nation being dragged behind the heels of British imperialism. He omitted to mention that there is another imperialism in the world behind which this nation could also be dragged. He talked about using force to solve the problem of Partition. He did not follow that suggestion to its logical conclusion and indicate how far the use of force in that connection might lead us into becoming allies of another imperialism which would be more terrible than British imperialism has ever been in the past. I think that when this Bill becomes law it is essential that this nation should give a clear indication not only of friendship and goodwill, but of a willingness to co-operate with other free nations.

I think the talk of utilising force against our fellow-countrymen in the six counties of Northern Ireland is foolish talk, mischievous talk, and I think that we can contribute more to the unity of this country by standing for peace and justice, by standing for good government here, by developing the resources of our Twenty-Six Counties to the utmost and by offering to the people in the Six Counties a guarantee of good government, of security, of justice, progress, prosperity and fair play.

Mr. Boland:  Before I make my contribution to the debate on this Bill, I would like, with the permission of the Chair, to deal with something that was said by Deputy Cowan this evening in connection with the trial of a person who was executed. I may say I am sorry that this matter was brought up, but I certainly am not going to back out of any responsibility I had in the matter. The Deputy said that he was satisfied as a lawyer that there was not sufficient evidence on which he should be convicted. Of course, the Deputy is entitled to his opinion. I would not be so much perturbed by the Deputy's [558] statement if it had not been for the fact that the second head of the Government, the Tanaiste, was reported in the Press last September as having said that the Fianna Fáil Government executed people without sufficient evidence. I very much regret indeed to have to say that I read into the speech of my successor, the Minister for Justice, last Monday in Carndonagh, an implication of the same kind. In view of that, I propose to read what was said by the Court of Criminal Appeal in this case which lasted three days.

Mr. MacBride: Information on Seán MacBride  Zoom on Seán MacBride  On a point of order. I do not know if the Ceann Comhairle was in the Chair at the time, but Deputy Cowan was ruled out of order when he was on that same topic. I am just mentioning that he was dealing with the topic Deputy Boland is now proposing to deal with.

Mr. Boland:  Before the Chair makes any decision, I would like to mention that Deputy Cowan said these words, which are on the records—taken down here. In view of what was said by Ministers, I think I am entitled to make the position clear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I can only deal with what was said by Deputy Cowan, if Deputy Cowan's remarks are on record.

Mr. Boland:  They are; they were taken down by my colleague, Deputy Traynor.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  If they are on record.

Mr. Boland:  They are. He used those words here this evening.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  What was said elsewhere by others does not arise.

Mr. Boland:  I want to make the position clear. Deputy Cowan may be a very reputable lawyer, but I am not concerned with that. I am, however, concerned that the previous Government should be charged with having executed people without evidence and for that reason I want to read what was said by the presiding judge at the Court of Criminal Appeal.

[559]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy does not propose to read columns of it?

Mr. Boland:  No, not columns—on the point that there was no evidence. I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the hearing of the appeal lasted for three days and that the present Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs represented the accused on that occasion. This is what is stated in the Irish Law Reports, 1945, at page 358:

“On a careful review of all the evidence and of the facts and circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime, we are of opinion that the evidence before the Special Criminal Court was amply sufficient, in law, to justify the verdict. There is no indication that the court misdirected itself in point of law, nor is there any indication of anything in the nature of a miscarriage of justice. The verdict seems to us to have been arrived at after a careful and patient trial, during which every consideration was shown to the applicant. In the result we are of opinion that none of the grounds relied upon is sustainable in law, and that this application for leave to appeal should be refused.”

That is all I propose to read. I am not reading it in the hope of convincing all the people who are making these allegations, but so that it will be on record for those who may take some notice of the decision of a court.

With regard to the Bill, I do not know if other Deputies feel in the same position as that in which elderly people like myself who were privileged to take part in the independence movement. I dare say we have all had occasion to examine our consciences, especially when coming to the evening of our lives, and have wondered whether we were justified in the actions we took in the past. If other people do not feel like that, I certainly do, and, when a matter of this kind comes before the House, I feel that I should saw how I felt at the time of the Treaty. I want to say that my opinion then was, and still is, that, when the British Government succeeded in establishing two States in this country, [560] our movement was given an almost fatal blow. I did anything I could to prevent that decision being given effect to, and I am not going to attribute any wrong motives to those who beat us in arms. We were beaten.

I am not going to say we were betrayed, and I am quite prepared to say and to believe that those who defeated us in the field believed they were acting rightly. I held my views strongly, however, and that was my justification for the part I took in the civil war. Any action I took subsequently was not taken of my own volition. If other ways had been open to me, I would have taken them, but they were not. Having been beaten in that civil war, I saw no other means than that of making whatever use we could of the opportunities that presented themselves and the action which the Fianna Fáil Party took, to my mind, has justified itself.

I am supporting this Bill, not with enthusiasm. Our Party has decided to support it—our leader has said so— and we are supporting it. I myself, as a democrat, accept the majority decision, but my personal view is that this country will never make proper progress until it goes ahead as a unit. I, personally, would not be one bit disturbed about our status, provided we had a united Ireland. This is a time when empires are falling, and when, as Sir Stafford Cripps said recently, even the British Empire is in course of liquidation, and if we could get the unity of this country, it would be no time—probably within the lifetime of elderly people like myself—before the full republic for the entire 32 Counties would be attained. That is the view I take, and if this External Relations Act would have been a help in that matter I think we should have left it there.

That is my personal view. I doubt whether we are wise in repealing it. I admit that we got no sign from the other side, from the Six County people or the British, that this External Relations Act did provide any bridge over which the two parts of this country could come together, until an announcement was made that we were about to repeal it, and then, I think, for the first [561] time, we get an indication both from Mr. Churchill—he is not in office now— and certain Ministers in the Six Counties, that we are putting up a barrier that will make it impossible to bring about the removal of Partition. Whether they are only playing politics or not, I do not know, but it is certainly the first time we have heard anything of that kind.

I stood for this External Relations Act and I never apologised for it. I thought it was a good via media and would prove to be so in time. It was misrepresented and I heard the Minister for Defence to-day talking about misrepresentation and misunderstanding, but if he examines his own conscience—I admit he made a pretty decent speech to-day—he will find that he cannot disclaim responsibility for some of the confusion. In this House, he has not said what he has said outside. He has been constantly saying that this was a sham and a fraud, as have all the members of the Government, and that we have been living a lie. He does not say that now.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  That is the view.

Mr. Boland:  Is he still saying that? He did not say it to-day. He took quite a different line and so did the Taoiseach last night. There was none of that at all.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  The Taoiseach described it as a political monstrosity.

Mr. Boland:  If he did, I do not know what to make of him. I cannot follow the working of a lawyer's mind. Thanks be to God, I am not a lawyer. I never tried to prove that black was white or that right was wrong. All I am saying is that we now have a sort of indication—maybe it is too late—and, to my mind, it is a justification for the line we took when we passed that External Relations Act. The other members of this Commonwealth never regarded it as a sham and a fraud. They were satisfied and they ought to know whether it was or not. By the way, those who are so fond of calling people shams and frauds are, some of them, very good judges of shams and [562] frauds, because they are not very much else themselves.

In the course of his speech, the Minister for Defence spoke about the Treaty and said that there was something substantial on offer. The division of our country was on offer. He said that we had made considerable progress and he spoke about mutilating the Treaty, but he conveniently ignored the first mutilation that took place when Article 12 was taken out of it, when the Boundary Commission clause was removed from the Treaty. That was a fatal move. I feel a certain amount of responsibility for that myself, because at that time I belonged to a Party which, very foolishly—I was in jail at the time—committed us to a mad policy of abstention, and consequently we did not throw our weight in here against that Ultimate Financial Settlement, as it was called, about the time the Boundary Commission was wiped out. I did my best to try to get that Party to come in here and defeat it. Anyway, that was one of the worst things that happened in this country because the greatest tragedy that could have befallen in my lifetime was to separate this country into two sections. It has always been troubling me that the more we get ahead in our way and try to Gaelicise the country and so on the more the other people try to go in the opposite direction. The tragedy is that we may have a real division in the country not a geographical one only, but a psychological division that would be a most awful tragedy. None of us no matter what our opinions may be of the older generation ever dreamt of a 26-county republic. Deputy de Valera said that anyone who wants to declare a republic can do so. But who wants to take the step? Is there anyone here who wants a 26-county republic? Certainly not. Therefore what is the talk about? We have to do our best to get first of all the unity of the country. I am satisfied that having done so other things will follow.

I am voting for this Bill with a certain amount of misgiving and anything but enthusiasm. I certainly hope that the outcome will be good for the nation. I am not the best judge. I have my own views and have had them for a long time. I have been in this [563] movement for a long time and have held certain views and I hope I have an open mind on these matters. I am not saying that my judgment is the soundest one but I have a certain feeling that the time we have chosen for this and the manner in which it is being done was certainly ill chosen.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Roderick James Connolly  Zoom on Roderick James Connolly  As one who is closely related to a signatory of the Proclamation of 1916 it would hardly be fitting that an occasion like this should pass without a brief comment from me. It is extremely difficult at times to understand the nature of the support that is being given to this Bill by the Opposition. The last speaker, Deputy Boland, assured us that he supported it with misgivings, that he did so without enthusiasm and though he supported the Bill he thought that it would be better to leave the External Relations Act as it was. This is a peculiar measure of support indeed and it is due I take it to the extraordinary position in which the House finds itself in relation to this Bill. It would have been more natural I suppose to all of us that this Bill would have been introduced by a Fianna Fáil administration if ever they made up their minds so to do. But personally, for a reason I propose to give, it would give me equal joy to see it introduced by either side of the House, by Deputy Éamon de Valera as the Taoiseach or by Deputy Costello as the Taoiseach. So long as it is introduced, so long as it achieves what it is intended to achieve by this Bill, it is a good day's work for the country and for that reason I support the Bill as a member of the Labour Party and personally I support it as a republican.

Deputy Vivion de Valera said that there was no need to be ashamed of being a republican, and in that he is eminently right. I am not ashamed of being a republican. In fact, I glory in it that I am. In the Labour movement I have had the peculiar position, perhaps, of being considered as too much of a republican.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Certainly, in that company.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Roderick James Connolly  Zoom on Roderick James Connolly  My position in regard to that matter is that I never accepted the view often held by members of the [564] Labour movement that in the question of the republican struggle in this country the Labour movement should cry: “A plague on both your houses.” I believe—and I substantiated my belief by my acts—that the Labour movement should be as republican as ever its chief founder and philosopher was, that the correct position for the Labour movement would be to head the republican struggle and not be leaving it to other elements who in the past have not done right by the common people of Ireland, have not carried out and given effect to their aspirations, have not given the common people of Ireland the equality of opportunity, the freedom from want, the economic freedom which alone makes political freedom real. That was my position, and I still maintain that position.

Deputy Éamon de Valera gave a warning and urged that there should be no disestablishment of the republic. My personal stand would be that, despite any differences between republicans on questions of policy, economics or matters of that sort, on the question of the establishment of the republic, whether it meets with all our views as to finality and so on, having gone so far along the road as we now have gone, there certainly should be no disestablishment, no bargaining for that disestablishment, no putting up a republic or a declaration of a republic in order to gain anything that is against the national dignity and heritage. On that basis, I would stand with any Party on one or the other side of the House. I have no fear that in the present situation there can come any such disestablishment or betrayal of the republic. I am convinced that that time is past. This Bill may not give us everything that we wish or desire. It may not give actuality to that for which Pearse and my father fought and died, but it is another step on that long road towards Irish freedom.

Credit has duly been given by the Taoiseach to the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, credit with which I agree, for steps that they took along that road. To others they may have appeared to be rather dilatory in their proceedings and rather hesitant in taking certain action. They may have [565] had justification for that within their own Party, their own policy and their own outlook on what is best for the country; but whether that is so or not, there certainly has been a steady development. Without giving credit or discredit, without attempting to summarise or estimate history correctly— which none of us can do who stand too near to it to get the correct perspective and who are not able to see fully what is right and what is wrong, no matter how clearly we may have our own opinions—there has been a steady development from 1916, when the Easter Week Rising first made popular the words “the republic”, which first drew it down to the broad masses of the people as something concrete, to crystalise their ideas, their national aspirations and their achievements. From that on, we have gone backwards and forwards. We may not have pursued the correct straight path all the time, but every step such as this step which concretises it and which removes misunderstandings and misconceptions is worthy of support of all republicans, and worthy of that support without misgivings and without hesitation but in full, in order to give full effect to it.

A great deal has been said on the unity of the country and on the question of Partition. It is well, in relation to this Bill, to examine the position in the North of Ireland very briefly and to estimate how that situation will be affected by the passage of this Bill. In the north-eastern counties, the Northern Ireland Government consists of a small group of industrial and financial magnates who control that Government. As everyone knows, the basis of their power is a very narrow and vile sectarianism which is boosted and maintained by a continuous system of propaganda whose chief ingredient is misrepresentation of the situation in the other parts of Ireland—in the South, as they call it. Very little indeed is done by us to counter that misrepresentation which they spread abroad among the masses of the people in the North-East. This ascendancy propaganda, as we may call it, to our regret permeates even the ranks of the Labour movement in some parts of the North. It is to such sections of [566] the Labour movement in the North we should look for assistance and support in achieving the unity of this country by the only practical means that can be found and that is by the constitutional overthrow of the present Northern Ireland Stormont Government.

Unfortunately, as I have said, sections of that movement have been permeated with the false propaganda emanating from the sectarian Government in the North. We have the far-from-edifying spectacle of many of the Labour supporters, while recognising the Stormont Government as the last remaining stronghold of Tory power in this island, yet failing at the same time to disassociate themselves from what is called the pro-Partition type of policy and action in the north-east, failing to rally on the side of the Labour movement the most important and the only really available force for the overthrow of that Government and, that is the large and growing nationalist majority in that area. These elements in the Labour movement in the North are unable to find any effective answer to the false propaganda that has gone on for the last 25 years which is a misrepresentation of the whole position here down South. They have been unable to lay the bogeys that have been raised by the members of the Northern Government, as to all the terrible things that take place down here in regard to the minority of their co-religionists in the South. If this Bill does nothing else, it may provide those elements with an effective answer to all that propaganda of the Unionists in the North-East in this way, that the basis of the propaganda there against the unity of Ireland has been one of raising shadows and fears, pointing out to the masses in the Unionist camp what fearful things will happen in the South as the people here go from one step to another; becoming worse and worse in their disloyal attitude, as it is called up there.

If by common consent from all quarters—from the British Government, from the Governments of the Commonwealth—it is recognised that there is a republic established at least for this portion of Ireland, if the republic [567] of Ireland becomes much more than a sentimental thing, if they can see that there is reality in this republic and that all these fears do not amount to anything, in fact that nothing worse is taking place, that there are no pogroms breaking out, that there is no attempt to worsen the position of their co-religionists in the South, that the economic position is not deteriorating as a result of the declaration of the republic, that there are no privileges such as are enjoyed by the minority here taken from them, if through the sheer passage of time we can demonstrate that all these fears and bogeys on which the Unionists of the North-East counties rely are false things, that they have no reality in fact, then we shall do a great deal to establish in the minds of large sections of Unionists, apart from the upper hierarchy or clique, that this fearful thing of a republic of Ireland is not the menace they thought it was. In that way I think this Bill has some tangible reason for support.

There is another matter to which I want to refer briefly. This Bill also claims my support in so far as it may bring to a head perhaps the question of the British control of unions in this country. I do not want to introduce this subject at any length but if we have a definite form of a republic in this country, if we have cut off the last links, tenuous as they may have been, with the British Commonwealth of Nations, we may be able to get a re-examination of this question of the control of these unions in this country. To that extent, unwittingly perhaps, this Bill may further the cause of Irish Labour unity which is to some extent bound up with, and may be a prelude to, the unity of the whole country.

In conclusion, I may say that none of us who are realists in the Labour movement, believe or imagine that this Bill when it becomes an Act will do more than clear the ground for an attack upon the real economic problems of this country, problems which most vitally affect the people of the country. We know quite well the long traditions behind this struggle for republicanism and nationality in this country which have a sort of headship in this Bill. We [568] know of the two streams of nationalism that have gone through this country. The constitutional stream led by Grattan, O'Connell, Parnell, Redmond and Griffith represented one tendency. Then we had the other tendency, the more republic and active tendency led by John Mitchel, Davis, Connolly and Mellowes. We know these two streams and as far as we in the Labour movement are concerned, in so far as it is possible for this Bill to clear the way for the furtherance of that tradition of nationhood in a republican form, giving us real economic freedom as well as political freedom, as far as this Bill tends towards putting us this one step further on the line of that tradition, we find it worthy of our support.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  At the start I would like to state that I agree with Deputy Vivion de Valera that, in taking part in this debate, no republican offers any regret or apology for any action he has taken during the struggle for independence. I support this Bill because I believe that it will help in some way to remove the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the past quarter of a century.

In this House there are three schools of thought. We have on one side those who accepted the Treaty as a steppingstone or as freedom to achieve freedom. Secondly, we have those who defended the established republic during the civil war and, thirdly, we have those who continued to organise armed resistance in defence of the republic during the past 25 years. Personally, I am very grateful to Our Divine Lord that I was allowed to live to come here and hear all sections discussing and agreeing on this question of the republic. Thirty years ago there was one definite Party, one Republican Party, in this country. It is regrettable that fate divided them but there is some satisfaction in being allowed to live to see a great attempt being made to reunite all sections on a republican basis. Though the Fine Gael Party claim that they accepted the Treaty as freedom to achieve freedom, I admit that I never accepted or agreed with that theory but it certainly was a great relief to an old soldier to be here yesterday and to hear the young men of [569] that Party declaring that the time had arrived to get down off the steppingstone and that they were prepared to come into the republic with their neads up. Fianna Fáil and the Fianna Fáil Government have claimed that they accepted the Treaty as a means to advance the national cause.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  They never did.

Mr. Davern: Information on Michael J. Davern  Zoom on Michael J. Davern  We never accepted the Treaty.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Well, you used the Treaty.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  Speak for yourself.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  I am speaking for myself and I am trying not to speak in any terms of antagonism.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  You are.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  You are doing it, actually.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  When I say I am not, I ask you to accept it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  You are actually doing it.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  I will be capable of looking after myself, I assure Deputies on this side or the other side of the House. I have taken a very definite stand in the republican movement in this country for the past 25 years, that was not approved of by either section of the House. I am delighted to see them all more or less agreeing on this republican principle now. I am merely trying to explain that all of them came in here long before me. I am new to the House and I have not absorbed the atmosphere of the House so far. I cannot agree with everything that was done and accept that everything that was enacted in this House during the past quarter of a century was right or that there was much justification for it. I do state that the Fianna Fáil Party came in here and used the Treaty to advance the position, the national cause, and I am not criticising them for that. I am giving them credit for it, that is, if they want credit for it and I am inclined to think that some of the Fianna Fáil Party do want credit for the actions they have taken in this House. They cannot deny that these actions were within the framework of [570] the Treaty that their predecessors had accepted and handed over.

They removed the Oath of Allegiance to the King. We have no criticism and possibly nobody has any criticism of that. They put before the Irish people the Constitution, which was passed, and which the Opposition Party claim gave us all the freedom that was necessary, gave us the freedom to declare the republic. For that we also thank them. The only regret that we who have been termed diehards and extreme republicans and other things as well that are not in keeping with the republican thought and tradition, have is that, when they passed the Constitution they did not insert the words “the Republic of Ireland” or, at a later stage, when the second World War was declared, did not avail of the opportunity to declare the republic, when all Parties inside and outside the House were in favour of neutrality.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is all you know. Ask Mr. Dillon about that.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Again I am just making a statement but I would say to Deputy MacEntee that, unfortunately, I am one of those who know only what happened outside the House and I am inclined to think, that, unfortunately for the country, many Deputies and the Government in power from time to time are absorbed with what happens and with what they hear inside the House. I know that here you have three different approaches to the republican position but, outside, there is yet another section of thought who insist and who believe that the republic established by the men of 1916, confirmed by the votes of the Irish people in 1919 and declared by the Dáil in January, 1919, is still the legal constitutional authority in this country.

I have no knowledge of constitutional authority and I am not going to worry or delay the time of this House discussing it. I will admit that my views on that are the views of thousands of ordinary soldiers of the Irish republic who had no time or place for constitutional authority, who did not understand it and who did not believe in it. We regret and always have [571] regretted the divisions that took place. Our position was and still is that after our leaders and some of our comrades had left us and believed that freedom could be achieved by constitutional means, we continued in armed resistance. While Fine Gael can claim that they took the right road by accepting the Treaty and using it as the stepping stone to the republic, and Fianna Fáil can claim that when they came into this House they removed some of the objectionable clauses and gave us a Constitution and, as a number of them have stated to-day, a republican one, we can claim that were it not for the militant action of the members of the Irish Republican Army neither one Party nor the other would have advanced to the position we are in to-day.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Did you not oppose the Constitution?

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  We can claim it with as much justification as the other Parties. There are Deputies who disagree with this Bill and oppose the stepping stone. Fine Gael opposed Fianna Fáil when they introduced the Constitution but the Lord has given us all the privilege to live so can we not meet this question with tolerance and drop the petty idea of claiming for ourselves for one Party or another all the credit. I am not claiming the credit, but we should all rejoice together in looking forward to tomorrow and forgetting yesterday. A lot of things have to be said that will offend Deputies on both sides of the House and may offend Deputy Boland who brought in law reports to defend his position. We accepted his explanation in silence but we must at the same time warn both sides of the House that those of us who remain with the militant movement will not accept in silence any criticism of the actions of the Irish Republican Army during the last 25 years. 25 years ago we were all together and Deputies from both sides of the House were leaders. It is with great pleasure I say that we have gone a long way and meet to-day in this position that some of us never thought possible, that all Parties should unite and try to establish [572] a basis where we can look to the future and the bitterness of the past will disappear.

I agree with Deputy Boland that a number of the people here have reached the evening of their days. I may not have reached the evening of my days but I am certainly past the noon and the forenoon was not made very easy. I was branded an outlaw and a criminal by both parties but I take part in this discussion without any bitterness or resentment. I appeal to all Parties to agree in passing this Bill and in passing it unanimously in a way that the younger men, the younger generation, will not have a continuation of this bitter disagreement that was handed down to us. It is possibly very hard to forget it, to forget the years of civil war and the division that took place after the Treaty. As far as the leaders, the older men, of the Fine Gael and the Fianna Fáil Party are concerned it is hard, but it is equally hard for us who continued on what we believed to be the straight and narrow path. It is very hard for us to forget and forgive all that happened during that time, but after all we were all trying to serve Ireland as best we could and it is a great privilege that we should come to-night to the position where this is at last about to be granted. Deputy de Valera said yesterday that if he had introduced the Republic of Ireland Bill he would have met with opposition. Fate decides these things. Some of you whose colleagues died for the republic have now the privilege to come in here to vote for the republic. I do not know whether it is more convenient or more comfortable or a greater thrill to come in here and vote for the republic rather than to go out and fight and die with the smoke hanging out of your gun. If I had my life to live again, I know that I would take the straight and narrow path. Some Deputies said that there was no great thrill or emotion now about declaring the republic. We know how we would have all taken it 30 years ago, the Leaders of the Opposition and even yourself, a Chinn Comhairle. We would have all rejoiced at the establishment of a republic and would have defended it with our lives.

I claim that I was a humble soldier [573] of the republic who knew only one thing, the establishment of a republic, come what may and count not the cost. We have in this House people of completely different views. Deputy Sheldon and Deputy Dockrell here yesterday advocated continued co-operation with what they claimed to be the Commonwealth of Nations. Deputy Dockrell more candily stated that in the Commonwealth of Nations England was the predominant partner. I would like to say that if the school of thought they spoke for yesterday can approach such matters with the same temperament, the same spirit as they did, if the followers of that school of thought could come in here and sit down they would approach these matters better. They discussed their views in a free and friendly manner and gave their views with their explanations and suggestions and they were reasonably considered and listened to by all sections of the House without any attempt at interruption. If the Unionist element in the country, north or south, wish to come in here and put their views before the House I believe that they will always be accepted in the same way. I think, however, that it is difficult to expect Irish republicans to stand for a connection with the Commonwealth in which England is the predominant partner because our connection with England, the predominant partner, during the past 700 years has been a bitter and a tragic one. No republican wants it to continue and no republican will stand for its continuation. We rejoice that the last link which binds us with the British Empire will be broken with the repeal of the External Relations Act.

I do not know what we will all call ourselves next week or next month when this comes into law, but I sincerely hope we will all be republicans and that we will call ourselves republicans. I admit, so far as political Parties are concerned, that the declaration of a republic is going to take the wind out of a lot of our sails, both Fianna Fáil and Clann na Poblachta. We will possibly have to shift our ground and come down to more definite terms as to how best the republic can be administered in the interests of the people of Ireland.

[574] The future unity of this country is the most important problem facing us to-day and that will face us in the future. Deputy Byrne and his son brought forward an amendment asking that the Bill be rejected. I was out of the House this afternoon when the senior partner to the amendment withdrew it. I congratulate him on his courage and foresight and I believe it is worthy of a man who has had a long political experience, that he would not be responsible for any action or amendment that might divide this House or let it go forth to the world that even at this eleventh hour we were not all unanimous on this declaration or confirmation of the republican position. I have wavered as to whether to use the word “declaration” or “confirmation”, because I agree with Deputy de Valera that the republic actually exists, that it was declared in 1916, was confirmed by the votes of the people in 1918, and declared by An Dáil in 1919.

I believe I am correct in saying that the Constitution which was introduced by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1936 was a Constitution for the whole 32 counties. If I am correct in stating that it was a Constitution for the whole 32 counties, and it is by virtue of that Constitution that we give expression to our meaning when we declared the republic, then we are declaring the republic, not for 26 counties, as was mentioned several times in the debate, but for 32 counties. I sincerely hope that some of the people who will follow me will explain more definitely if my suggestion is correct. I have heard it repeated over and over again that the Constitution was a Constitution for the 32 counties. The position is now that we are giving expression in this Bill to the fact that the Constitution was a Constitution for the republic of Ireland. Consequently, we are declaring or confirming the republic of Ireland for 32 counties.

I think it is regrettable that the Fianna Fáil Party and their able and eloquent leader and spokesmen were not more definite with regard to it in the years that have passed. I think Deputy de Valera said that if he were to live his life all over again he would like to be spared the tragedy of the [575] seven years from 1939. I agree with him that possibly there is no Party or group in Ireland which would not have given everything they possessed to be spared the tragedy of these seven years.

I do not want to be responsible for introducing something of a controversial nature. I prefer to look forward to to-morrow, when the younger members of all Parties, especially, can sit down together in this House or elsewhere and work out a programme for the benefit and uplifting of the people. If the Republic of Ireland was not declared the position was not clarified. The unconquerable and irresistible spirit of young Ireland will never be satisfied until Ireland is completely and definitely free, and the last link, however slender it is, that binds us to the British Empire is broken for ever. I am glad that some of us are not faced with the tragedy of having to hand that tradition over to our sons. I can see days in the future when the young men of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael can work together.

It is regrettable that able and intelligent men like Deputy T. O'Higgins, Deputy M. O'Higgins and Deputy Vivion de Valera cannot get together and work for the uplifting and betterment of the people without being hampered, barred and impeded by the tragedy that divided their fathers politically in the past. I am glad that I can look forward to the day when my sons and the sons of other people here will be spared that; that they can at least get their heads together and say: “Our fathers brought the position a certain distance. They have not succeeded in going the whole way. Let us get together and do it.” When we have declared the Republic of Ireland, even though our writ or our authority does not extend over 32 counties, the portion of Ireland under the authority of the Dáil will be accepted and regarded as the Irish Republic and will be known as that. There will be no further ambiguity or confusion about it.

The position of North-East Ulster, however, remains to be dealt with. I sincerely hope that the unification of [576] our country will come in our own day. If our task is not completed, we shall hand over to the young men who are coming into political Parties all over the country, a united Southern Ireland with a definite objective of completing the work started over 30 years ago. Where we have failed, we sincerely hope they will succeed. If the attitude adopted by our present leaders is continued, and if the good-will they have spoken about exists between the partners of the Commonwealth of Nations —whether it is the British Commonwealth or the Commonwealth of Nations it is all the same to me—then these partners, if they are sincere in their good-will towards Ireland, will have a very definite task before them, and that is to remove the barrier that was created here and keeps this small country divided. Undoubtedly, this country is too small to be divided. We are an independent unit. The only justification that the men in the North-East can have or claim to have to keep their continuity with the British Empire is, that during some invasion, their ancestors came over here, conquered the mere Irish and got the privilege of acquiring certain territory and that, due to the success of their ancestors, they have a right to preserve the continuity with the British Empire.

They are Irishmen the same as we are. We want to regard them as such, but at the same time we would like to remind them that, while they are claiming extraordinary rights for a minority and within a section of the country over which the Northern Government has control, there is also a minority who are in favour of joining with the majority of the people in a United Ireland. The privileges they are demanding for themselves they should extend to others. They could not under any circumstances hope to maintain their position in Northern Ireland were it not for the co-operation that they are continually getting from the British Government. Financially, they are supported by the British Government. The British taxpayers are paying for an army of occupation there. While the different partners in the Commonwealth of Nations have always [577] objected to the armies of foreign countries occupying the territory of other smaller nations, I cannot see what justification they can put forward for keeping an army of occupation there and thus keeping this country in the position in which it is to-day.

It has been suggested that during the war sections of the Irish people, possibly meaning the republican section, were endangering the neutrality of this country. Endangering it in what way? Am I to understand that sections of this country were anxious to bring us into the war on the side of England? Possibly, and I would not be a bit surprised. Judging by the expressions of view which have come from certain sections, particularly during the last fortnight, there are people here who advocate very close co-operation with the British Empire. Are we to understand and accept it that it was those people the Government were afraid who would involve the country in the war? If that is so, I will forgive them. If, on the other hand, the suggestion or the threat was that the republican movement endeavoured or intended to involve this country in the second world war on the side of Germany and her allies, there may be and there may not be a definite justification for it. There is this justification for the attitude in any case that we were always led to believe that England's difficulty was Ireland's opportunity. I regret very much that the Government of this part of the country did not accept the opportunity presented by England's difficulty concerning the declaration of an independent republic. If they had done that they would have had the support of every man and woman worthy of the name republican.

On the other hand, the suggestion has been thrown across the floor of this House from time to time towards these benches that there was a small group or party in the country that would have involved the country in war, and that that group or party were republicans. There was, however, this great difference, that there was a system which the Governments of Central Europe were trying to force on their peoples which was not acceptable to republicans in general in this country or to those who, in other circumstances, [578] might be prepared to accept co-operation from Germany, following the old tradition of England's difficulty being Ireland's opportunity. It is well to recall, in connection with the Wolfe Tone commemoration ceremonies, that Tone accepted co-operation and help from France in his struggle for the independence of Ireland, and that in our own time—30 years ago, we would have accepted co-operation and support even from Kaiser Germany during the first World War. Those on the other side have given an explanation as to why they sent representatives to certain countries which I will not mention, because it might be thought that I was making an excuse for a trip that I myself made to the Continent, but they solicited co-operation for this country and would have accepted it from continental countries in the struggle for Irish national independence. Our whole tradition is that we would have accepted co-operation to help us break the link that bound us to the British Empire.

I want to state quite definitely, so far as the last world war is concerned, that if an attempt had been made to invade this country the majority of the Irish people—those who had joined in the ranks of the auxiliary forces as well as those who were known as “irregulars” or in the underground army—would have met that invasion. They would have met it on our shores like Robert Emmet with a torch in one hand and a sword in the other.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The evidence is to the contrary in the case of some people.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  As regards the position to-day, and as to whether it is wise at the present time to declare a republic in this Dáil for 26 counties only, I want to say that we are in favour of it. I can speak with a certain amount of authority on the feelings of Irish republicans because, like Deputy Vivion de Valera. I am a republican and proud of every action that I ever took. I can speak with some knowledge and authority of the aspirations and outlook of the Republican Army. I had the privilege of holding every rank in the Republican Army and have had [579] an unbroken record of more than 20 years' service. I was also Chairman of the Army Council and of the Army Executive, and I am proud that I also occupied the position of Chief-of-Staff.

Mr. T. Brennan: Information on Thomas Brennan  Zoom on Thomas Brennan  What made the Deputy change his mind and come in here at all?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  To put you out. That is the sole reason.

Donnchadh O Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  To be the tail of Fine Gael.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  The tail is wagging.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Deputy Brennan should know that he did not come in here for Board of Works contracts.

A Deputy:  No, and he never got them, either.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  I had better explain. My one ambition was to see the Republic of Ireland declared and I am now perfectly satisfied. I have no other outlook or ambition.

Donnchadh O Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Is it in abeyance?

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  I did not intend to butt in on Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. I was merely explaining our position. It was that at any time during the whole of our existence—even back in 1918 or during the civil war or during the years afterwards—apart altogether from the 26 counties, if we could have established a republic in a village or a town or a city or a province in Ireland we would have done so and advanced day by day until we would have the 32 counties under our control. We were prepared to fight for it and to die for it. That is still our position. We would have raised the flag of a free independent Ireland as did the men of 1916. They did not believe that by hoisting the flag in Dublin they would control the 32 counties at once but they did believe that if they could hold Dublin they could then move to Meath and to Louth and to Wicklow and to Wexford and in that way extend to Cork and to Belfast.

That was the spirit that animated us during the last quarter of a century [580] and that is the spirit in which we approach the situation to-day. We declare the republic and we will defend the republic where the jurisdiction of this Dáil extends and we will use all the influence in our power to see to it that the writ of the republic will extend to the 32 counties. We have accepted the position that the Constitution is for the 32 counties. The republic may extend for the time being to the Twenty-Six Counties only but, like the Constitution, it is meant for the 32 counties. Eventually, please God, with the combined help of all Parties and with the influence which the Ministers of the present Government can bring to bear on the British Government and with the influence and co-operation that is promised to us from the other partners of the British Commonwealth of Nations I see no reason in the world why that objective cannot be achieved.

Meanwhile I shall not sit down without issuing a word of warning to those people in the Six Counties who are maintaining a state of affairs that the large minority there do not approve of. I should like to warn them that we of the Twenty-Six Counties, who express and who claim to have inherited republican ideals, will never surrender our right or acknowledge their right to rule over and keep that portion of our country connected with England. Any help, co-operation or encouragement that we can give to these people who are struggling under the yoke of tyranny in the Six Counties to continue their resistance shall be given to them freely and willingly. To the British Government who are maintaining that position by keeping their army of occupation in our Northern territory we state that in the eyes of the world they must be held responsible for any acts of violence that may be committed by the adherents of the Six-County junta to the nationalist republicans in North-East Ulster.

If there is any sincerity in the claim by the British Government that they believe in the right of people and of countries throughout the world to rule and govern themselves they should remedy the grievance that this country has against them—the wrong that seemingly was perpetrated on this [581] country before the enactment of the Treaty. It was stated here yesterday that the division of Ireland is the outcome of an Act that was enacted by the British House of Commons in 1920 and that Act provided for a Northern Ireland Parliament. If that is the position that has been caused it is wrong and misleading for British statesmen to state that the future of Ireland now rests with the Irish people. As far as we Southern Irish republicans are concerned, we are prepared to co-operate with our Northern brothers in every way we possibly can. We are prepared to give them every assistance and co-operation in developing their resources. Deputy Flanagan reminded the House to-night of all the chickens, all the eggs, all the cattle and all the potatoes we sent to England during the last war. As far as we extreme republicans in Southern Ireland are concerned we have no objection in the world to continuing that support and co-operation with England if she is prepared to accept us as a free and independent nation. We want to sell our surplus eggs, poultry, cattle and potatoes and we will sell them to England if England offers the best market. We shall put no barriers in the way of the people of Northern Ireland if they come in with us.

They can continue building ships for England or for any other country in the world that is prepared to pay for them and guarantee them prosperity. On the other hand, we are not prepared to allow the position to be confused by the suggestion that if the people of Northern Ireland should come into the republic there would be any attempt by their political opponents to impede them in their achievements, to control their industries or to stem the onward tide of prosperity that is supposed to be in Northern Ireland at the moment. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.

Last Updated: 18/05/2011 12:03:00 First Page Previous Page Page of 29 Next Page Last Page