Thursday, 2 December 1948
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Aiken: I take exception to this amendment for several reasons. I object to the day on which this Bill comes into operation being called Independence Day. This Bill makes no fundamental change in our status of independence. The independence which we have here to-day will not be altered or improved in any way by the passing of this Bill. When this nation becomes united, and when the writ of the republic, which has been in existence for the last 11 years, runs over the whole Thirty-Two Counties, it will be appropriate for the Dáil at that time to name an Independence Day. Certainly, the nationalists of the Six Counties, and the people of the Irish race throughout the world who are interested in the reunification of our nation, would strongly object to the Dáil whose writ runs over only TwentySix Counties, nominating an Independence Day at this time. I trust the day will come when, by the united efforts of all Parties in this House and of the people of Ireland and the people of  Irish descent, we will have a reunified country, and when the Dáil will then probably nominate an Independence Day.
Secondly, I want to object to the day on which this Bill comes into operation being declared a national holiday. Deputy Fitzpatrick, in moving the amendment last night, said that the people should rejoice on the day on which this Bill becomes law. Personally, I will be delighted at this Bill coming into operation if the prophecies of the Taoiseach in regard to it are fulfilled. He said that he recommended this Bill to the people and to this House on the grounds that it would take the guns out of politics. I would like the Taoiseach to give us some reassurance that it will take the guns out of Deputy Fitzpatrick's dumps.
Mr. Aiken: If the people are to rejoice properly at the passage of this Bill, they will rejoice with very much greater fervour if they have an assurance from the Parties that form the Government that the guns which have been used in recent years against the servants of the State will be handed over to the State.
Mr. Aiken: I asked, on the Second Reading of this Bill, for an assurance from the Minister for External Affairs that, on its passage, he would use his influence to see that what the Taoiseach prophesied would come about, and that the guns would be taken out of politics.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has been told that that is out of order. It is his third time repeating it. What was said on the Second Stage is not  relevant and should not be introduced on this amendment.
Mr. Aiken: We will discuss what was said on the Committee Stage by Deputy Fitzpatrick. He said that the people should rejoice. Will one of the reasons why they should rejoice be that before it comes into operation Deputy Fitzpatrick, who announced here that he was engaged in revolutionary activities up to a few months ago, will urge his companions——
Mr. Aiken: I do not intend to repeat anything. All I am trying to do is to get for the country the greatest possible benefit out of this Bill. If this Bill does what the Taoiseach prophesied it would do, no one in the country will welcome it more fervently than myself.
Mr. Aiken: Ever since the Oath of Allegiance was first put down our throats there has been a state of turmoil in the country. I want to see that ended, and I want to see that the people who have been promoting the turmoil ever since 1937, and particularly during the war. will do something now to make certain that that turmoil and all these murders that occurred during the war will not occur again. They will occur again if some effort is not made by the people who were in control of those organisations during that period to use their influence to see that these arms are collected and put at the disposal of the State. The Minister for External Affairs has a particular duty in this regard, and so have certain members of his Party who supported these organisations during the war. I want to know now from them if any body of men in this State is entitled to attack the republic. Have they the right to hold arms and to use them?
Mr. Aiken: I have not touched on the civil war. I have touched only on the period since this republic came into operation in 1937. I am referring particularly to the seven years following 1939 when guns were in politics here and were used by a certain section of  the people to murder the officers of the State.
Mr. Aiken: In conclusion, I would ask the Taoiseach to speak authoritatively for the Government on this matter and to assure the House and the country that he is speaking for all sections that compose the Government. I would ask him on this one vital issue to say that this republic is entitled to have control of all the arms in the country and that no section of the people is entitled to take life in this republic unless authorised to do so by the Government.
The Taoiseach: I gave as the reasons for this Bill my hopes—not my prophesies. I gave as the fundamental reason for the initiating of these proposals the hopes and beliefs that I had that the guns would be taken out of Irish politics. I do not propose to enter upon that any further. I think Deputy Aiken's speech has been deplorable. I have the greatest sympathy with the idea underlying Deputy Fitzpatrick's suggested amendment. The only objection I would have to accepting it is the fact that there may be difficulties in declaring a national holiday—difficulties such as those referred to by Deputy de Valera last afternoon. I indicated in a reply I gave to a Parliamentary question yesterday that all these factors were being considered in connection with  the proposals that have been made to declare a national holiday. Deputy Fitzpatrick also wishes to have this declared Independence Day. With that desire I have the fullest sympathy. The reasons for my sympathy I shall give in a few moments. The real fundamental objection to this amendment is that it provides that the day on which this Act comes into operation shall be declared Independence Day and a national holiday. The trouble, as I have already explained, is that we do not know when precisely it will be possible to bring this Bill, when it becomes an Act, into effective operation. That depends on circumstances over which we have no effective control, but we do intend to have the Act in operation as soon as possible.
There is a difference of opinion as to whether the 21st January or Easter Monday or the 24th April would be the appropriate date on which to declare a national holiday or to declare Independence Day. I have had numbers of communications from different people suggesting these three different dates. Deputy de Valera indicated his preference yesterday evening for Easter Monday if it were to be a national holiday. These matters have to be considered in the light of what has to be done in the way of clearing up details before the Act can come into operation. I hope Deputy Aiken was not being hypocritical when he said that nobody in the House would be more pleased than he if what he calls the “prophesies” that I have made were fulfilled. I always regard anybody who prefaces his remarks with the cliché “Nobody would be more so and so than I” with the greatest suspicion. I hope that the Deputy was sincere when he said that he hoped that when this Act comes into operation it will confer great benefits on all sections of our people. That is our desire and intention in bringing in this Act. I would prefer, instead of putting down in a Bill or in an Act, a specific day—no matter what day it is—to be called “Independence Day” and proclaiming it a national holiday, that it should evolve from the people themselves. When the people see this Act in operation and when they experience  the effects of it—when they have forgotten the disputes and the discussions and the endless controversies that have gone on as to what our constitutional status is—they will then of their own wish give a verdict on this portion of this Act; and, if they are pleased with it, they then will spontaneously and of their own volition call a particular day independence day.
Mr. de Valera: Might I say a few words in clarification of statements I made last night in regard to a particular day being designated? The point has been mentioned as to the fact that our people abroad might possibly be confused. The Six Counties are still outside the effective jurisdiction of the State. That must be borne in mind in this connection. There was a previous occasion on which there was rejoicing, and it took us many years subsequently to make it clearly understood that we had not yet achieved our national goal.
The Taoiseach: If I might trespass on the patience of the House on a matter which I overlooked. It is in connection with Deputy Aiken's suggestion apropos the Six Counties. We all know—to use the phrase used by Deputy Aiken—that our writ does not run in the Six North-Eastern Counties at the moment. I take the view that it is not for us to put any stop or hindrance to the march of progress of our nation by reason of the fact that we have not yet control of the Six North-Eastern Counties. I am strongly of the view that our first duty is to look after our own people in this part of the country while, at the same time, doing all in our power to integrate the country as a whole. We must not put any hindrance to the march of progress of our nation because of the fact that we have not yet got the Six North-Eastern Counties. I assert here in all solemnity that the Six North-Eastern Counties are being used improperly in this debate for the purpose of bringing in irrelevant and  extraneous considerations, and I think that that is to be highly deprecated.
Captain Cowan: We discussed the Bill at great length upon the Second Stage. Every possible aspect of it was discussed then. It was unanimously approved by the House, and I understood that there was agreement that the Government would get all stages of this Bill yesterday evening. Unfortunately, this Third Stage has been utilised by the Leader of the Opposition and by ex-Ministers of the Fianna Fáil Government for the purpose of——
Captain Cowan: Then I shall state that this particular amendment has been used by Deputies on the opposite side of the House for the purpose of whitewashing their own past. Let them whitewash their own past if they want to. Let them waste time doing that if they want to.
Captain Cowan: I do not think that we should discuss on the passage of this Bill anything in the nature of a public holiday, as Deputy Aiken said. I agree with him to that extent, but for completely different reasons. If this Parliament were to declare a national holiday, I could immediately get 20,000 people, living in the slums and who have been unemployed for years, to attend the public rejoicings. Would not that be a grand type of republic for which to have a public holiday? These people would enjoy that. It might whitewash some individuals in this House to declare a particular day a public holiday. There are many other things that have to be done before the reintegration of the national territory. Deputy Fitzpatrick has put his suggestion to the House in the form of an amendment. That amendment has been dealt with by the Taoiseach.
Every one of us is anxious that this Bill should be finished and done with so that we can get down to work in real earnest. We want to build houses and to end unemployment. I would appeal to Deputy Fitzpatrick to withdraw the amendment now so that all stages of the Bill might be passed. If the amendment is persisted in, I shall have to vote against it, because, until such time as we are in a position to have a 32-county republic, founded on the ideals of James Connolly, it is my submission that we are not in a position to have anything in the nature of a public holiday—a public holiday which might serve the purpose of whitewashing the past of certain individuals in this House and throughout the country.
Mr. Aiken: I want to disagree as violently as I can with the Taoiseach's attitude when he states that the foreign relations of this country are not to be conditioned by the fact that there  are still six counties held by the British. The Taoiseach made a couple of statements in regard to Partition with which I thoroughly agree. He stated that we would enter into no alliance with the British while they held six of our counties; he stated that we would not enter into a western defence pact to which the British were a party while they held six of our counties. One thing that disturbed me recently was a Press communiqué issued after one of these conferences in Paris, in which it was stated, or alleged, that the Taoiseach was softening in that regard.
The Taoiseach: I know nothing whatever of the substance or content of this communiqué of which the Deputy is speaking. I cannot take cognisance of every statement that is made about me in the newspapers. I would have a very bright time if I did.
Mr. MacBride: By way of clarification, Deputy Aiken asserts that there was some reference made in a communiqué issued after one of those conferences in Paris. Is the Deputy suggesting that there was a communiqué issued by a conference at which any Irish representative was present?
Mr. Aiken: I will deal with the communiqué issued by the Minister for External Affairs if I am in order. I will refer, first of all, to a communiqué that was issued after a conference in which the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Finance participated.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: On a point of order, this discussion arose out of an amendment that I put down. There is nothing in that amendment about external affairs or communiqués issued anywhere. The amendment has been used by Deputy Aiken and others for the purpose of attacking me and my past as a soldier of the republic. If Deputy Aiken is ashamed of his past and as a soldier of the republic, that is not my business.
Mr. Aiken: I want the Taoiseach to assure the House and the country and those members of the Irish race elsewhere who are interested primarily as a political objective in the reunification of this country that he will, in the management of our external relations, have regard, first and foremost, to the reunification of the country and that he will not ignore that and act here as if  this republic were completely free and had no major difficulties to solve with a lot of people with whom we will have external relations.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: When I introduced this amendment I did so in a few words. I suggested that people outside should be taken into our confidence and should know exactly what we are doing. I am inclined to think that what happens here is that there are some people too long in the House, some people who have been in office too long, and they think that when they come to a decision and pass something, what is passed is accepted by everybody outside.
Speaking on the Second Reading of this Bill, I stated that you cannot dictate to the people; that freedom is something that is born in the hearts and minds of the people. I put down the amendment merely to give the Government an opportunity of taking the people outside into their confidence, thus being able to show that we are all agreed that we have a republic. The last Administration declared a republic, but they did not tell anybody about it; they locked it up in a Statute Book or perhaps in some dictionary. There are some regrettable features about this discussion. I do not mind anything Deputy Aiken said about me—that is not worrying me— but I think it is a pity that the Taoiseach did not reply to me after I introduced the amendment. I wanted an assurance from the Government that they are taking the people into their confidence. Having got that assurance now, I am perfectly satisfied to withdraw the amendment.
Mr. de Valera: I should like to say something in connection with a statement that was made. Having been anxious that an Independence Day would be agreed upon and having given a good deal of consideration to it, my view is that what the Taoiseach said at the end was the wisest course, that we should not try to declare by statute any day but should wait until such time was reached when we would have real rejoicing by all the people in  the fact that complete independence had been achieved. In the long run that is the wisest course.
Mr. de Valera: Section 5 sets out that “This Act may be cited as the Republic of Ireland Act, 1948.” In my opinion, this would be much more accurately described as a Description of the State Act. The only advantage I can see in the other title is that it does bring into prominence certain facts and that perhaps it is desirable to give the necessary prominence to them. Notwithstanding what the Minister for External Affairs said— that this came from the draftsman's office in that form—from my experience I would be greatly surprised that a Bill purporting to do what this Bill does would be described as a Republic of Ireland Bill.
Mr. de Valera: Yesterday we had a long legal discussion which helped perhaps to hide away some of the realities. I am anxious to get away from these legal points and to deal with the things that are immediate and concrete and that can be handled as such. We are going to pass this Bill now, and the Minister for External Affairs said this:—
“Broadly speaking, the passage of  this Bill will achieve four main purposes. In the first instance, it will place our status and sovereignty completely above question or dispute. Hitherto the position was undoubtedly anomalous, despite what has been said from the Opposition Benches. We were in the extraordinary position of having a head of State possibly for internal purposes but having no head of State for external purposes; we had a President and we had no President; we had a King and we had no King; we were a republic and we were not a republic; we were in the Commonwealth and we were not in the Commonwealth. At no stage throughout the last 12 years since this Act was passed was any member of the Opposition Benches, who then occupied these benches, in a position to say yes or no, whether we were a republic or whether we were in the Commonwealth or not.”
Mr. MacBride: I ask you, Sir, to rule whether the Leader of the Opposition is entitled to accuse another member of this House of deliberately trying to mislead the House, or to misrepresent the position.
Captain Cowan: I have no intention of being disorderly, but, if a Deputy says that another Deputy is deliberately misleading and if the attention of the Chair is called to it and if, then, the Deputy mends his hand and says that what was said was calculated to mislead, is that a withdrawal of the allegation?
Mr. de Valera: To satisfy the rules of order, I will withdraw the words “deliberately intended to deceive,” if I did use these words. What I say is that this piece of rhetoric is calculated to mislead, that is, that the effect of it is to mislead, and I have no doubt whatever in my mind that it is misleading.  There is, first, the question of placing our “status and sovereignty” completely above question. There has never been any question of our sovereignty. The sovereignty of this State has been completely and fully acknowledged. It is true that that sovereignty does not at the present moment extend effectively to six of our counties. “Status and sovereignty” are very cleverly put together. What is the meaning of it? The suggestion is that status has something to do with regard to sovereignty. The only way in which status could come in here is in relation to what particular class or type of category this State of ours should be put into. I do not know what is the meaning of “status.” The suggestion is that up to the present our State had something of a lesser status than that of a sovereign State. If it is a question of the particular class or category of States into which it falls, to me, that is a very small matter. There are certain classes of minds who are never satisfied, unless they can find some pigeon hole in which they can put or classify some facts of nature or other facts of life. I do not think it necessary that every fact of life should be capable of falling into some particular existing category or other.
We have here, too, the word “anomalous.”“Anomalous,” of course, is also calculated to give a wrong impression. If “anomalous” means that something which is usual does not occur, it is all right, but to put forward the suggestion that, because a thing does not fall into some particular category, it is a monstrosity, as was suggested on one occasion by the Taoiseach, is completely wrong. Whenever anything is done for the first time, because it does not fall into the categories existing up to that time, it may very well be unusual, but the fact that it is unusual does not mean that it is bad, wrong or something to be despised or condemned. The first man to put carriages on rails was, I suppose, doing something anomalous at that particular time, because it had not been done before, and the first man who flew the Channel was doing something anomalous because it did not fall into the particular category of methods  of transport or locomotion that existed up to that time. But the fact that it was unusual was no reason for suggesting that it was bad, or wrong, or something that might not be in the national interest.
The Minister said that we were in the extraordinary position of having a head of State, possibly, for internal purposes, but of having no head of State for external purposes. I say for one, and I believe it to be true, that if there is a single head in this country, if it is possible to single out any one of the powers we have got where you have a legislative executive and a judicial power, each being relatively sovereign in it own particular domain, it is the Government with the powers given to it by the Constitution which is best entitled to be regarded the head of this State.
He said: “We had a President and we had no President.” Of course, we have a President. The powers given to that President were defined in the Constitution like the powers given to other presidents are defined. The fact that our President did not get every particular function which in some other cases would be given, does not mean that we had not a president and it is playing upon words, playing upon credulity, playing upon people who are not likely to study these matters for themselves to make contrasts of that kind. It is a very pretty piece of rhetoric, as I have said, but it is not fundamental truth.
Mr. de Valera: The Minister can read his Acts for those who do not study them. We know what it means. There has been no King in this State since 1936, and certainly there has been no King in this State since 1937. If we used the President of the United States for some purposes as an agent, as could happen, he would not be president here.
The Minister's next point was: “We were in the Commonwealth and we  were not.” That is the only one of these points for which there was any basis in truth. That, I explained yesterday, was due to the fact that although we had, as is now stated, gone out of the Commonwealth in 1937 by our Constitution and previous Acts, yet those who in their previous conferences had drawn up the rules of the association, if you like, the criterion by which it was to be judged whether a State was a member or was not, said that we were a member. I, therefore, was in this position, that I could not of myself say that we were in or that we were out. There is in this country a large number of people who will not be satisfied with being out and there is a large number of people who will not be satisfied with being in. There is only one place, in such a set of circumstances, in which the two contestants could possibly be satisfied, and that is on the boundary. The moment, however, you choose a point on the boundary and say: “There, that is the only solution that is possible”, both sides turn upon you and each then, because they have not got the victory, attacks. You then have the same sort of unnatural combination in the attack by the two extremes, that we see represented in the benches facing us. The position with regard to the Commonwealth, then, was simply that it was possible, because of the statement made by the British Government and other Governments at that time, that they were going to change their fundamental conception of the bond, so to speak, of the States of the Commonwealth. That is the only point in which there is any basis for these rhetorical contrasts.
“At no stage within the last 12 years since this Act was passed was any member of the Opposition Benches, who then occupied these benches, in a position to say ‘Yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether we were a republic or whether we were within the Commonwealth or not.”
When I was asked specifically here in this House whether we were or we were not a republic, I said we were a republic. Then I went further to  prove it, and the only way you can prove whether a description or term properly applies, is by taking the standard books of reference in which these things are discussed. I took them extensively, but I had for my pains a jibe-nothing more. It is a very simple thing, when people cannot argue against the points that are made, to make a cheap jibe. That cheap jibe is one of the things causing the difficulties with people like Deputy Fitzpatrick, who says that the Government must have kept the republic locked up all the time, as we did not know of its existence. Four or five days ago, I answered that question as far as it is possible for any human being to answer it—that is the question with regard to the Commonwealth.
Finally, with regard to my attitude during all the years of 1936 until this question was specifically put to me in my official capacity, as to whether we were a republic or not, my hope and my aim was to prevent this particular question as to names being a matter of public controversy. I did not think it was in the national interest that it should be so. I believed it was very much better that we should go on with our job which, from the broad national point of view, at that particular time was to try to seek for the reintegration of our country. That was the first job, that was the reality—these are simply descriptions and names. I know that people fight about names on labels more often than they fight about the real substance. I was anxious that every effort should be made to avoid that discussion. I knew perfectly well that we would have Deputies like the present Minister for External Affairs coming along and showing an Act of Parliament and giving his interpretation of it, and then coming along, when he is faced here and has to argue it out, and saying: “Is it constitutional or not?” If it is not constitutional, it does not exist as a law. All I can say is that, in practice, there was none of this peculiar sort of being that seemed to haunt the minds of some people when this External Relations Act was passed, some sort of a tenuous wraith of a King. We had no such thing in our practice. Our practice  was simply, since 1937 or so, that five or six letters of credence were signed, of which the last I saw was in Irish, an Irish text signed by the King of Great Britain and Canada in his capacity as our agent and as a mark of our association with those States. That was the only practical thing that was done and as he was doing that as an agent he was in no sense a King of our country.
Mr. A. Byrne (Junior): On the Second Stage I put forward the views of a large section of our people. I wish now on this stage to say that I feel that those very many citizens would wish me to say that they wish that the Act, as it will become shortly, will give the Government all they had hoped for and that it will turn out to be a stepping stone in the right direction and that it will help to bring Ireland nearer to peace and unity.
Mr. Dockrell: Deputy de Valera has said he did not agree with the Taoiseach that the status of this country was not beyond dispute—that there was a President, that there was no King in this State, that we were a republic. I am not very certain what he said about the Commonwealth. Be that as it may, all that does not matter, whether we were a republic or not. Certain people were not clear on that. Young men were not clear on that, young men went out and died and loyal servants of this State died, too. That has now been remedied and, to my mind, that is the big thing which this Bill is doing. What matters is, not whether we were or were not a republic but that this country was being torn asunder and would continue to be torn asunder, on what was merely a constitutional quibble. This Act puts an end to that, and the country now can concentrate on what the great body of the citizens consider to be of far more importance—namely, housing, health, work and finance.
We have had enough men dying for the constitutional status of Ireland. I believe that they now have an opportunity, clearly and unequivocally, to work for the good of Ireland, and for that reason I think that this Bill is of very great importance to the future of  Ireland. I do not think it matters a whole lot, except perhaps from some small political point of view, what we were in the past. It is the future which is of importance and this Bill has cleared that issue.
Captain Cowan: When this Bill was mooted at first, I expressed the opinion that it could be put through this Parliament and occupy no more Parliamentary time than approximately two hours; that as no section of Parliament and only a very small section of the community was opposing it, we ought not, in view of the very serious problems that confront us, waste any more public time on it than two hours. But we have spent days and days on it, and even on this stage the Leader of the Opposition says that it was his hope that this question, as to whether we were a republic or not, as to what our status was, would not be debated. That is an extraordinary admission to make in the Parliament of the nation, that the man who was Taoiseach——
Captain Cowan: I certainly would not like to misinterpret the Deputy. I understood that for a considerable period the Deputy would have preferred that there would have been no question as to what our status was, that there would be no debate on it and, consequently, no debate in public in that regard. That is what I understood.
The fact that the establishment of a republic in this country has been before the eyes of the people for almost 40 years is within the memory of people who are now living. As Deputy Dockrell has said, there were considerable sections of the people who believed we were one thing and others who believed we were other things. If there is one merit in this Bill at all— and it is a substantial merit so far as I am concerned—it is that other people who might contest our sovereignty and contest our position, the British Government——
Captain Cowan: —that these nations, the British Government, the Dominions of Canada, New Zealand and Australia, India, whatever its status is, Pakistan and Ceylon, all accept the position now that on the passing of this Bill into law, we become a republic. I think that is a substantial advance.
Captain Cowan: I do not want to put it any stronger than that, that on the passage of this Bill, all these independent nations accept the position that we are undoubtedly a republic. That is a matter of substantial consequence.
Captain Cowan: I am putting it no stronger than that. To that extent, it is undoubtedly a great constitutional development for the Taoiseach and for the Government, deserving of the complete support of this House. I would have much preferred if that support were given in a more generous way than it has been. Every unworthy motive that could be suggested against the Taoiseach and against the Government has been put forward in this debate. That is unfortunate. I am perfectly sure that if there had been a reverse position last February, that if we had come into this House on the 18th February last, appointed Deputy de Valera to be Taoiseach and reelected the Fianna Fáil Government, within three months, Deputy de Valera would have introduced a Bill to repeal the External Relations Act and, in the middle of the debate that would have taken place on that, he would have dissolved this Dáil, gone to the country and asked the country to give him a clear majority so that he would get beyond this last milestone on the way to a republic.
Captain Cowan: The Leader of the Opposition will agree with me that it is a reasonable interpretation of modern history. I have seen six elections in a number of years. I have seen the people expressing their will, and within 12 months there was an appeal to them by the ex-Taoiseach, the present Leader of the Opposition, and on each occasion he got a clear majority.
Captain Cowan: I say and I think it will be agreed that the real reason why there is so much bitterness in regard to this measure on the benches opposite is because they have been deprived of something that would have been invaluable to them if ever they had an opportunity of coming across to these benches again.
Captain Cowan: One has only to use one's commonsense and to have taken part, as I took an active part, in public life in the last 15 years, to see the moves that have been made. I have seen the people fooled. That may be democracy.
Captain Cowan: However, I think I have nearly passed this Bill now. I only want to say at this stage that we have spent all these hours of public time in regard to it, and these hours of public time have been occupied for one purpose—the purpose of whitewashing the past of certain individuals.
Captain Cowan: All I want to say is that we have had a situation in which Deputy Fitzpatrick and other Deputies up to recently were members of an organisation which did not recognise the authority of this Dáil. Deputy Fitzpatrick has now said that he welcomes this Bill and I am quite sure that those people in the country who accept Deputy Fitzpatrick's point of view, welcome the Bill also. In so far as that attitude tends or leads to a unification of thought, in so far as it leads to a determination to go the whole hog to bring about a republic for the 32 counties, I suggest that it  was necessary that this Bill should be passed, and that it should be passed quickly. I hope, therefore, that the Bill will receive the unanimous support of the House.
Dr. Maguire: I do not intend to discuss the question as to whether we had or had not a King or a President because, in my opinion, the man who conceived the Constitution should be acknowledged as a better exponent of its meaning than even the constitutional lawyers of whom the Taoiseach said yesterday that we already had too many.
Dr. Maguire: I would like the Government to remember that in the repeal of this Act they have only achieved the removal of the shadow of our imperial connection, as I said last night, but, unfortunately, the substance of that connection still remains.
Dr. Maguire: In this connection I read with a certain amount of dismay in last Sunday's Independent the suggestion that all pressure in connection with the abolition of Partition should now be relaxed and if I am correct in assuming that this sinister suggestion represents the policy of the Government——
Dr. Maguire: If I am correct in assuming that this sinister suggestion represents the policy of the Government, then I am going to tell them this much that, should that be their policy, there are men in this country still, men, I admit, whose love of country may on occasions, if it requires, outweigh their discretion and men who, in order to achieve the unity of their country, will adopt other than peaceful means.
Dr. Maguire: There is nothing that would convince these people more in their assumption that it has put the seal on Partition than the celebration  of the declaration of the republic for the Twenty-Six Countries. Not only would it do us damage at home but in the world generally, and particularly in the nations who, formerly, were friendly to us. It will also give the impression that, at long last, the agelong aspirations of the Irish people have been realised.
Dr. Brennan: As I listened to Deputy de Valera, I must confess, I felt very much the truth of the words of the Taoiseach that he had some doubts regarding the bona fides of the arguments which had been advanced here by the Opposition. When I heard Deputy de Valera muttering something that he did not know what “status” was, I began to ponder.
Dr. Brennan: I wonder does he think that this House, which knows his ability to play with words, can give credence to the statement that he does not know the meaning of the word “status”—the status, I presume, of the republic, the republic that he says existed, existed with a King for external association, for some reason or other.
Dr. Brennan: There is no republic in this world that I know of that is in any way associated with a monarchy. If there is any playing upon words, Deputy de Valera can take a very high place in that art of jugglery. I was not in the House when he said this was a republic—that the State in which we live, I suppose, in which we now live still, was a republic. There was not a single Act of this Parliament, as far as I know, to state that this was a republic. The only authority on which this announcement was made was the authority of Deputy de Valera himself when he was Taoiseach.
Dr. Brennan: The only authority for the existence of a republic was that which he enunciated again in the House  this evening—derivation of words. As far as my recollection serves me, those words depended on two Latin words, Res Publica. If my knowledge of history is correct, Res Publica referred to the Roman Republic, the Roman Res Publica, because it was not a republic in the true sense. At any rate, if that derivation of words was the authority for the existence of our republic, then Deputy de Valera took a very bad headline, because the Res Publica of Rome——
Dr. Brennan: I would not have referred to it except for the fact that this evening Deputy de Valera chafed the members of this House because they did not respect the value of the derivation of words. At any rate, if the Res Publica was the basis on which our republic is to be built it is nothing to be proud of. The republic that we know or that we are about to know or that we are about to see re-integrated is something which is explained in the Bill we are now considering. We are at the stage when the motion is “that the Bill do now pass,” and we are held up by discussion on some things which have taken  place and on which, I agree with Captain Cowan, a lot of time has been spent in white-washing. When Deputy de Valera was addressing the House, apart from referring to the heads of States, another difficulty he had was the Commonwealth. He said that there were some grounds for the extract which he read from his piece of rhetoric: “We are in the Commonwealth,” and he said there were some grounds for that. What are the grounds for that? If we are in the Commonwealth except for this link with the King which is in the Act and which makes us a member of the Commonwealth——
Dr. Brennan: Some of the members of the Opposition have been vociferous in expressions in reflection on my colleagues. I am one of these terrible members of Clann na Poblachta who has spent his life in trying to save life, and I would like to tell the Deputies who spoke in the terms in which they did speak that we are the sole reason for their dissolution, and that our action and our advent here is the result of the fact that they have failed in their duty to reintegrate the republic that they were sworn to establish.
Mr. MacBride: I said in my speech on the Second Stage of this Bill that I supposed it was only human to want to justify one's past actions, and that that tendency was more marked probably in public men than in other walks of life. I realise now that I should have added to that that that tendency was more marked in one particular public man, namely, the Leader of the Opposition, than in any other public man. I can well understand the desire to justify one's past actions. I can well understand wanting to make clear what one's past attitude was upon certain matters, but I think that if it is to be of any effect it has to be convincing. It cannot go against either the facts or the past statements made by the person  who is trying to indulge in self-justification.
The Leader of the Opposition worked himself up to a great state of agitation and fury a few minutes ago talking here and saying that I had misrepresented him, that I had misrepresented the whole position, that I had said falsely in addressing the House on the Second Reading that under the position as it was we had a King and we had not a King, that we were in the Commonwealth and that we were not in the Commonwealth, that we were a republic and that we were not a republic, that we had a President and a head of State for internal purposes and no head of State for external purposes. The Leader of the Opposition has told the House that each one of these statements of mine was untrue and misleading. Let us take them one by one. The Leader of the Opposition himself gave evidence to-day that we had no King. He said that it was a scandalous suggestion to say that we had a King, and, therefore, the statement I made that we had no King was correct. There is not much use, however, in making a statement which is contrary to the facts, contrary to the printed facts which are set out in the very Act we are repealing, unless it is hoped that by constant dint of repetition of a falsehood that falsehood would gain credit, especially when it is judicially published in the newspaper which is controlled by the Leader of the Opposition. It is clearly an untruth to say that there was no King.
Mr. MacBride: I do not know the difference between a King as such and a King not as such. It would take the mind of the Leader of the Opposition to make that distinction. There is an Act of Parliament which was introduced into this House by the Leader of the Opposition. It deals in every section with a King.
Mr. MacBride: As I have pointed out, and as anyone who has taken the trouble to read the Act can see, this Act made the King of Britain King of Ireland, and made him the head of this State for external purposes. There is no doubt that anyone who is interested in ascertaining the reliance which may be put upon the words of the Leader of the Opposition has merely to purchase a copy of this Act which is being repealed.
Mr. MacBride: Will you allow me to finish? You got very indignant when I interrupted you during the course of your speech. I ask to be allowed to  proceed without interruption. Therefore, I was correct when I said that the position was that we had a King and we had no King. In 1936, the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy de Valera, introduced an Act of Parliament bringing in the King. In 1948, he says we had no King. Therefore, the position was that we had a King and we had no King. Then I said that we had a republic and that we had no republic. That, of course, was a falsehood, according to Deputy de Valera. Unfortunately, as I pointed out before, some of his utterances are published from time to time, and the records of these remain in print. In 1938, Deputy de Valera stated:—
“There is no legal obstacle to your declaring a republic in the morning. Dáil Éireann has only got to repeal the External Relations Act, 1936, and you have a complete republic in fact for this part of Ireland.”
Mr. MacBride: I will tell you what the context was. It was this. Some branches of his organisation, who apparently took the words “Republican Party” in brackets in the title of Fianna Fáil seriously, sent up resolutions to the Ard-Fheis asking to have a republic declared and Deputy de Valera explained that it could not be done because of foreign difficulties and that all that would have to be done at some future date was to repeal the External Relations Act and on that day you have a republic.
Mr. MacBride: Kindly refrain from interrupting when I am speaking. You took it in very bad humour when I interrupted a few minutes ago. You must allow me to conclude. That was in November, 1938. But then we had another speech, reported also in the Irish Press, in December, 1938, in which again he was dealing with the question of a republic and said:—
“I for one am sorry, because I feel that if we were able to say we are an independent republic there would be none of this confusion which exists at the moment which is helping to cause dissatisfaction and is, in a sense, a source of danger.”
Accordingly, in 1938 Deputy de Valera thought he was not able to say that we were an independent republic and that if he had been able to say we were an independent republic there would have been no confusion; that the confusion that did exist then was in his view a source of danger and was helping to cause dissatisfaction. That was in 1938. We had no republic then, according to Deputy de Valera, but all that we had to do was to repeal this Act in order to have it. Deputy de Valera, apparently, when he indulges in justification, suffers from a short memory in this matter. A few years later Deputy de Valera came into these benches here, escorted by some of his officials carrying dictionaries, and, lo and behold, we had a republic out of the dictionaries, though in 1938 we had no republic.
Mr. MacBride: All right. If you want to ask questions and interrupt, let me ask this: What happened between December, 1938, and the date when you came in with your dictionaries to change the position?
Mr. MacBride: Therefore, you thought you could go to the Ard-Fheis and tell them something that was untrue, tell them that we had not a republic and keep it locked up in your heart until 1946, when you came in here with dictionaries.
Mr. de Valera: Not at all. There was a misunderstanding of the effect of the External Relations Act. I knew the simplest way to deal with the argument was to satisfy those people who would not be satisfied by my view of it. There was one way in which it could be done and, because it is being done to clear the confusion, that is the only reason why I am voting for the Bill.
Having deliberately created confusion in 1938, then it was necessary to bring in dictionaries in 1946 to undo the confusion created by the Leader of the Opposition then. I leave that to the people to judge whether it makes sense or not. It is all a misunderstanding on his side.
Now, I said that we had a head of State and that we had not a head of State for external purposes. As the House knows, the credentials of Ambassadors and Ministers are signed by the head of State. Every single credential issued by the Leader of the Opposition, while he occupied my present position, for an Ambassador or a Minister, was signed by the King of Britain, was sent over by the Deputy and signed by the King. We had a President in the Park, and I am not  aware that he signed any credentials. Was I misleading the House when I said that we had a head of State and we had not a head of State? The Leader of the Opposition thinks that by reading words and talking about statutory instruments, organs, and statutory agents he is able to confuse the people sufficiently to prevent the people from appreciating what the position in fact was. You only have to read the Act, you only have to understand the facts, to understand that from 1936, while the Leader of the Opposition was in my office, he utilised the King of Britain as Head of State for external affairs.
Mr. MacBride: All right. We have heard a lot about the President of the United States. It is quite true that there is no reference in the Constitution of the United States to the Republic of the United States of America, but then the United States of America do not go and use the King of another country to sign their heads of States treaties or to accredit their Ambassadors and Ministers.
Mr. MacBride: I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition did not  maintain the attitude that he adopted at the outset of this debate. At the outset he adopted a reasonable and constructive attitude. He tried to justify himself.
Mr. MacBride: After all you do not own this Parliament at the moment. I am surely entitled to conclude my remarks. He approached the matter, as I said in a reasonable way, and then indulged in a good deal of selfjustification, but that was inevitable. I am afraid that in the last day or two the Leader of the Opposition and some members of his Party have been deliberately trying to do as much mischief as they could in the national situation. One of the hopes that I had, and one of the hopes which, I think, everybody on this side of the House had, was that this measure would result in a greater degree of unity. Deputy Aiken has done his level best to try and revive the bitterness—and to try and revive the events—of the past, events that I think were tragic events, and that we do not want to see repeated.
Mr. MacBride: I am sorry that that note was introduced. I would like to make an appeal now, on this, the Final Stage of the Bill. We have discussed the civil war backwards and forwards. We have had endless discussions on the constitutional position. We have had the discussions that we have wallowed in over the last few days. Might I appeal to the Opposition as a whole, to the Leader of the Opposition, and to the other members, now to leave that alone and to face the future, to help us to achieve the greatest degree of unity possible, so that we can tackle the one remaining task which remains of a unified nation with some sense of  self-respect and national dignity? I appeal from the bottom of my heart to Deputy de Valera and his Party——
Mr. MacBride: I do not think it matters very much now, but if there is a question of truth or untruth, then on every one of the statements I have made in connection with this matter I am prepared to prove that I have stated the truth, and that Deputy de Valera did not always state it, even according to his own statements.
This Bill is now nearly through. As I have said, we have wallowed for days in these discussions. Jibes and insults have been flung from one side of the House to the other. I do not think that helps the nation or helps us to move forward towards the achievement of our ultimate objective. I think that if we could now make up our minds that, with the passing of this Act, we would refrain from these arid discussions in the future it would be a good thing from the point of view of the nation.
Mr. Aiken: All that we can do, if we pass this and other measures, is to clear the decks for future action. We have one job of work to do as a nation, and that is to restore the unity of our country. One of the things that bedevilled our efforts over the last number of years was the fact that there were a number of politicians in this part who wanted to misrepresent completely the political status, the national status of this country. It might very well have been that if the truth about our constitutional status had been admitted by these politicians the Act which we are repealing to-day would have formed the bridge to the reunification of the country. However, that is past. Because of the way in which it was treated by certain gentlemen it became ineffective for its purpose. All that it served was an excuse for murder.
Mr. Aiken: It was most discreditable to this nation that we had for the last 12 years certain gentlemen who were encouraging youngsters to use guns against this State on the plea that we were not a sovereign, independent nation entitled to be described as a republic if we wanted to be so described. Why is it possible to introduce and pass this measure? If this State had not been a republic for the last 12 years, since the Constitution, it could not constitutionally be described as a republic without a change in the Constitution.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This debate has been conducted at a certain level, and Deputies on both sides of the House have made a certain effort to keep it on a fairly decent level. I ask the Deputy now to follow that precedent, and not to allow this debate to descend from that level.
Captain Cowan: I submit, with respect, that for a Deputy to make allegations against other Deputies in this House, to the effect that they made money out of defending murderers, is a foul thing which should not be allowed to pass without protest.
Mr. Aiken: We will get this matter cleared if we can. The Attorney-General of this State said 12 years ago that we were getting rid of the King and that we were, in fact, having a republic. The other day the Minister for External Affairs calmly announced to us that the Taoiseach and himself had got together and discovered that we had left the Empire 11 years ago. A number of young people in the country were encouraged to bear arms, to get arms, to seize arms, to make war on this State in order to get a republic and to get out of the Empire, and there were certain legal gentlemen who could have advised them at that time that we were out of the Empire and that we had a republic.
Mr. Aiken: I am talking about what is in the Bill. In one clause of this Bill it says that “The description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland.” If it had been described as it could have been described by the gentlemen opposite 11 years ago, or during the war when we had all these murders, we would not have had all these murders. I ask the Minister for External Affairs one very simple question. Will he—in order that we get some good out of this Bill, the most good we can get out of it—state clearly and unequivocally that this republic is entitled to the allegiance of the citizens of this State, is entitled to enforce discipline on the citizens of this State, and is entitled to collect their arms? Will he state categorically that in reference to Article 15 of the Constitution of this republic——
Mr. MacBride: I have been asked a question. When I made an appeal in 1943 to people who were then resorting to physical force to desist from acts of violence that appeal was suppressed from the newspapers by Deputy Aiken. Any steps I take in the matter will have more effect than the steps Deputy Aiken ever took.
Mr. Aiken: The Minister for External Affairs referred to an appeal which he made in 1943. Deputies will note that the year mentioned was 1943—after all this stuff had ceased. Since 1943 there has not been a murder——
Mr. Aiken: The Minister for External Affairs introduced this—I  did not. In regard to the statement he made, my clear recollection is that it was an incitement to these young men to carry on unless we got out of the Defence Conference Deputy Dillon, Deputy Dr. O'Higgins and Deputy Mulcahy and brought in instead Deputy Fitzpatrick and a couple of his friends.
Mr. Aiken: What does this Bill do? It declares that “the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland”. I, for one, thank God that that particular section will put it beyond dispute for the future, as far as these particular Parties are concerned, that this republic is a republic. They cannot solemnly pass a Bill in this House describing the State as the Republic of Ireland and deny that it is a republic. What interests me is not the water that has flown under the bridge; it is what is going to happen in the future.
Mr. Aiken: Are the people with whom Deputy Fitzpatrick and the Minister for External Affairs were associated in recent years going to accept that? Will they accept it and obey Article 15 of the Constitution?
Unfortunately we have had until this very day, in spite of a free Constitution and a free republic for this Twenty-Six Counties, armed forces being maintained which are not under the control of the Oireachtas. At this moment down in Dundalk—and if any Deputy cares to go down there he can verify this, because I am speaking of the one place that I know—citizens are being held up at night by an armed force. That armed force is drilling in Dundalk and men armed with rifles are on the doors of the public halls. These same gentlemen fired shots at funerals attended by Ministers.
Mr. Aiken: The Minister for Justice has a duty in this regard to this republic, which is now recognised by Deputy Fitzpatrick. The Minister for Justice has the duty in regard to Deputy Fitzpatrick's friends, who are still carrying arms in Dundalk and in Dublin and other places, to see that those arms are collected and brought within the authority of this State and the control of this State.
Mr. Aiken: I trust that the Taoiseach, in concluding this debate, will inform the House unequivocally that in his opinion it is unconstitutional, illegal and anti-national for Deputy Fitzpatrick's friends still to hold arms and to continue drilling and to maintain an armed force not under the control of the State. If we get that much out of this Bill it will be all to the good. I shall be delighted.
Mr. Aiken: In the future of this republic, and I am interested in seeing that such conditions will be established in this Twenty-Six Counties as will more quickly bring about the unification of our country.
Mr. Aiken: I believe it would be disastrous if a certain section of the community were allowed to organise here and to carry arms, and to say that, because we are only a 26-county republic, they have the right to shoot Guards, Ministers, Deputies or whomsoever they like.
Mr. Aiken: It is only right and proper that those Deputies and Ministers, who were so lately associated with these organisations which make the claim that they have a force independent of the Oireachtas of this republic, should make a clear and unequivocal statement here that these people have no right to exist as an armed body; that they have no right to hold arms and that they should forthwith give up those arms—even though they did not do it 12 years ago.
Mr. Norton: I would not intervene in this debate were it not for the deliberately mischievous speech which Deputy Aiken has just made and which is typical of all his contributions towards this Bill. We had a declaration from Deputy Lemass some time ago, when he heard of the Government's intention to introduce this Bill, that he and those with him in Fianna Fáil would share a regret that this Bill was not being introduced by a Fianna Fáil Government. At that time Deputy Lemass, professing to speak on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, said that he and the Fianna Fáil Party shared a regret that they were not the architects of this Bill. We have passed a long way from the regret stage to the stage which we have reached to-day and the stage that we reached last week. Is it not perfectly clear now, having listened to the speeches of Deputy Aiken and Deputy MacEntee, that Fianna Fáil is not stricken with the least tinge of regret but are actuated by open malice towards the Government because it is piloting this Bill through the Dáil?
Mr. Norton: Deputy de Valera is a good specialist in nonsense in matters of this kind. I understand that yesterday Deputy de Valera said, in characterisation of what I said on behalf of the Labour Party when the External Relations Bill was introduced in 1936, that we were only making a show against the Bill and that we were not sincere or honest in our opposition to the Bill. I challenge Deputy de Valera to produce whatever records he kept, when he was Taoiseach or President, and to read to this House what I said to him on behalf of the Labour Party prior to his decision to call the Dáil by telegram to pass the External Relations Bill in December, 1936, within a matter of 12 hours. On that occasion I told Deputy de Valera—and this can be taken in juxtaposition with what he said the other day—that we ought not to introduce a Bill of this kind to please the British. I have no doubt in the world the Bill was introduced to please the British. I have no doubt from the atmosphere of that time and from the sensationalism of that time and the phone calls which  passed between Dublin and London at that time that the External Relations Act was passed solely for the purpose of getting the British out of the difficulties created for them because of the unusual manner of the King's abdication.
Mr. Norton: The King was put out at the front door and the back window was left open to bring him in again. That was the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the External Relations Act at that time. Deputy de Valera can pour any balm he likes on his political soul or take any consolation he likes now as to whatever he intended to do under the External Relations Act of 1936, but I have no hesitation in saying—and the memorandum which I wrote at that time clearly proves it—that Fianna Fáil then would have liked to have been able to get away from the External Relations Bill of 1936.
The External Relations Act of 1936 was opposed by the Labour Party, firstly, because we did not believe it was necessary to introduce it and, secondly, because we were doing what an Irish Government had never previously done, namely, voluntarily appointing a British King of Ireland for the purpose of our external relations with a foreign country. Since 1936, through the medium of the External Relations Act, we, alleging to be a republic, have used a British King to accredit the representatives of the so-called republic to other foreign countries throughout the world. That is a circus-like performance that has been repeated in no other republic in the world.
Deputy de Valera, notwithstanding the fact that all that position is cloudy and misty to everyone else in the country, is the one person who can not only see clearly through all that constitutional fog, but he stands up and looks aghast at anybody who cannot see through that cloudiness and mistiness with the same clarity which he displays. The External Relations Act of 1936 was a fraud on the people of this country. It was a dishonest measure. We may have put the King out of the Constitution  by the Constitution (Amending) Act, but we brought him back again described as an organ or an instrument or a statutory instrument through the medium of the External Relations Act. Since 1936 we have used the King for that purpose, used him in a way that made our constitutional position cloudy at home and still more cloudy abroad.
Deputy Aiken says that for the past 16 years certain people engaged in certain kinds of activities, engaged in activities which brought them into conflict with the law, engaged in political agitations with which the Government of the day felt it necessary to deal. Has not one of our big difficulties over the past 12 years been due to the fact that nobody knew what the constitutional status of the nation was? The Minister for External Affairs has quoted speeches made by Deputy de Valera when he spoke as Taoiseach at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis. Do not all those speeches make it perfectly clear, as well as his speeches on the External Relations Bill, that we were not then declaring a republic in 1936, and that we were not a republic in 1938? From 1938 until that fateful evening about two years ago, when Deputy de Valera arrived in the House, surrounded by copies of dictionaries, to tell us what our constitutional status was, not a single change had been made in our constitutional position. We were not a republic in 1938 and nothing happened to the Constitution between 1938 and 1946 except this, that in the meantime Deputy de Valera had taken to research in dictionaries and had discovered in 1946 that we were, he thought, a republic under what the British said in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and it was just a fortunate accident that the Encyclopedia Britannica described what a republic was and we managed then, according to Deputy de Valera, to be a kind of a republic by attrition.
If these people took certain action down through the years in pursuance of an ideal which was once the ideal of all our people, I am not too sure that this House and the manner in which our constitutional position was dealt with did not provide an abundant excuse for those people to misunderstand  the real constitutional position. Do we not all know that over the past 25 years the constitutional status of this nation has been an issue over which there has been more political strife than any other single issue? Do we not know that we had a civil war on it? Do we not know we had almost worse than civil war when the civil war concluded? Does anybody recollect a time during the past 25 years when one could say with honesty and truth that the people were of one opinion as to what the constitutional status of the nation was?
Strife and muddiness and cloudiness have been the three chief characteristics of our constitutional status over the past 25 years. Now for the first time an effort is being made to clear up the position. Should not that be an occasion for joy? Should not that be an occasion on which all Parties could agree? Should not that be an occasion which ought to provide the cementing force between each and every Party to pool their energies and enthusiasms so as to bring about a solution of the only remaining problem between this country and Britain—the abolition of Partition and the reunification of the Six Counties with their motherland?
At a time when all that muddiness and cloudiness is being dissipated, when the constitutional position is being made clear to our people at home and abroad, Deputy Aiken's masterly contribution on the Fifth Stage of this Bill is to say that this is being done to justify the past association of people with murderous activities within the State. Does Deputy Aiken think that that is a statesmanlike contribution to make vis-á-vis the British and the world on an issue of this kind, that this Bill is only such a justification and does not represent the strivings of a united Parliament for the attainment of an ideal which was once the ideal of a united nation?
I think Deputy Aiken has reduced this debate to an exceedingly low level. I do not think he has done anything in the contribution I listened to this evening except to bring joy to the hearts of Partitionists in this country and outside it and joy to the hearts of all those who are only too willing to embrace any excuse they can find for  indulging in anti-Irish propaganda. Surely the passage of a Bill of this kind ought not to occasion any strife or friction amongst our people? Surely we ought all to embrace the opportunity provided of clarifying the constitutional position of the nation? Surely it ought to be a source of gratification to all our people, both at home and overseas, to know that this is being done, in relation to the British and the other countries with which we have certain close ties, in a manner which will not cause strife, which has not caused bitterness and which may, if opportunities are taken of the situation now presented, provide a pathway through which we can march, not to a Twenty-Six County republic, but to a Thirty-Two County Republic? I think there are possibilities in this Bill in that connection which are greater than many Deputies have so far appreciated.
Whatever other differences may exist between one Party and another, we ought at least to show to the world that this Bill represents the united desires of a united Parliament and that it expresses before the world the ideals and aspirations of our people to-day, just as it represented the ambitions of every Irish nationalist movement in the past. I wonder what objective Deputy Aiken was trying to achieve when he sought to create the impression that even after the enactment of this Bill opportunities will still exist here for persons to doubt the constitutional status of the nation.
Mr. Norton: Except by violence, by executions, by repression and by shootings. That is the only way that could  ever be accomplished, here or anywhere else. But in the long run, is it not much preferable from a national point of view that, instead of one group of Irishmen fighting against another for the establishment of a constitution to which they can all give loyalty, they should all unite, as I thought we would on this Bill?
Mr. Norton: If that is so, Deputy Aiken's mouth does not adequately represent either his heart or his mind, because the speech the Deputy has made was not a statesmanlike contribution towards demonstrating before the world our unity on this issue.
Mr. de Valera: Might I ask if Deputy Aiken's speech was not intended to elicit one single thing, that is, that any arms in this State at present held ought not to be held but should be given up, now that every Party is agreed that this country is a republic? That is the only thing, so far as I understand, at which Deputy Aiken was aiming.
Mr. Norton: Let me say this: In my view, once the constitutional position of the nation is clear and permits of no ambiguity, as is the position now, nobody can doubt that there is a republic in this part of Ireland. We can make it a de facto republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. Whatever excuse anybody might have had in the past for taking up arms and engaging in political strife to establish in the Twenty-Six Counties an Irish Republic, there is now no excuse whatever for the use of arms or the perpetration of violence for the achieving of that objective. This Bill does it, and, if anybody in the future takes up arms for use against the Irish Government in the Twenty-Six Counties on the pretence that the constitutional status of  the Twenty-Six Counties is not clear, he will be committing a dastardly crime against the whole Irish nation.
Mr. Norton: It is quite understandable that, in a debate of this kind, there will be cut and thrust, that, under provocation, sharp words will be spoken and that, on such an occasion as this, people may say things in an unduly virulent way and with the injection perhaps of an undue measure of vinegar, but ought we not to make this clear to the whole world and to our own people, that we all join gladly in helping to enact this Bill? We do not want to say that this is an inter-Party Government Bill and I do not suppose that Fianna Fáil, notwithstanding what Deputy Lemass said, could have any special or logical pride in saying it was a Fianna Fáil Bill. I should prefer to look on the Bill as an implementation, so far as we can ensure that implementation, of the ideals of the Irish people, as representing the consummation of what guided every nationalist movement in the past. If we were only wise before the world and before our own people at home and abroad, we ought to pass this Bill through this House with an acclamation and joy which would resound around the world and make it clear to the British, to the Commonwealth and to everybody else who wants to see and read that it represents a triumph for Irish nationalism and that is was discussed,  not in any sordid way, not by raking the ashes of the civil war or the strife that followed it, but on a high level in consonance with the ideals which actuated, guided and inspired every Irish nationalist movement in the past.
Mr. de Valera: It is a matter directly and immediately personal. The Minister has suggested that the External Relations Act was introduced into this House at the instance or instigation or otherwise of the British Government. I say that is completely and absolutely untrue, a complete falsehood from beginning to end.
Mr. Norton: Let me say this—surely Deputy de Valera will not be allowed to get away with that, without my being permitted to make an observation? I say that the 1936 External Relations Bill got the British out of a difficulty that they could not have got out of without the Bill and that it was passed to please the British. That is my view.
Mr. Con Lehane: In the period that elapsed between my election as a Deputy and first coming into this House, I approached the future discharge of whatever duties would devolve on me here with a good deal of diffidence and quite a considerable amount of timidity. After the exhibition that has been given to-day by Deputy Aiken I feel that any diffidence or timidity on the part of any newcomer to this House was misplaced. Even though I disagreed violently with them, I always gave credit to the Deputies who comprise the Fianna Fáil Party for sincerity and nationality according to their own lights. After the mischievous, malicious and wantonly disruptive efforts of Deputy Aiken to-day and of others of his colleagues during the course of this debate, I feel perfectly entitled to say that I have radically changed my opinion. As the Tánaiste said already, we thought we could approach the consideration of this Bill in a frame of mind indicative of the unity of our desire to put this final seal on our freedom. I felt that the interpretation of past history was not something of any great moment in the consideration of this Bill. I believed, and still believe, that it was more important that we should look forward rather than backward. However, it has been made impossible to approach the consideration of this measure in a calm, objective way, by the performance of the Deputies on the front benches opposite.
I must confess that I have for them a considerable amount of sympathy. Having perpetrated a fraud on the people for the past 12 years, having talked about freedom and about the republic ad nauseam, having kept “Republican Party” in brackets under  the name Fianna Fáil, it must undoubtedly have been a bitter pill to swallow for those Deputies to realise that another group of Irishmen could come together and could form a Government and could have the courage, which they apparently lacked, namely, to get rid of the English King. Yes, from that point of view, I must confess to a good deal of sympathy for the people on the benches opposite. Deputy de Valera treated us to an attempted justification of every political line taken by him in the past 25 years. I would submit, a Chinn Chomhairle, that we are not concerned with the justification of past attitudes by Deputies on this side or on the other side. In so far as personal justifications are concerned, two particular points of view have been put forward here. Perhaps there is a third. We in Clann na Poblachta welcome this Bill because, in our view, it removes a major restriction which was placed upon the freedom of this nation. In our view, the republic was never lawfully disestablished. The effect of this Bill is to restore the republic, or at least to remove the restrictions on its sovereignty which have operated since the Treaty.
Points of view have been expressed on both sides of this House and I would not like to be taken, in so far as an interpretation of past events is concerned, as agreeing with either of them in full. What is important is not the consideration of what took place during the past 25 years, but that there should be achieved the greatest measure of unity possible in this part of the country, in order that we could move forward to the establishment of the republic de facto for the 32 counties. Here in this part of the country we have now—or will have after the passage of this Bill, after we have removed the King, the externally imposed King, the externally related King—a de facto republic. I submit that this Bill does claim for the nation the de jure status of a republic for the 32 counties. However, as the Taoiseach has already said, there are six of those counties in which our writ does not run.
The Taoiseach: Deputy Aiken throughout the evening has kept up a constant rain of interruptions which have led to counter-interruptions. I respectfully suggest that some steps should be taken to prevent the Deputy interrupting.
Mr. Lehane: Deputy Aiken has sought to address to myself and my colleagues questions which he thinks embarrassing, but I would say, in reply to Deputy Aiken, that had our status as an independent republic been acknowledged by him when he was on these benches, acknowledged de facto for the Twenty-Six Counties and de jure for the 32-county area, the use of arms by Irishmen against Irishmen would not have taken place, and I want to go on record as saying that.
Mr. Lehane: Had that step been taken, had that acknowledgment been made, had there been that frank acceptance of the republican position that apparently there is to-day from  the Deputies opposite but which was not present in 1938 when Deputy de Valera, leader of the Fianna Fáil Party was not prepared to acknowledge the claim that we were a republic, had there been that acceptance of the republican position, had there been even what has been described during the course of the debate as a label—I feel the expression was used rather jibingly but perhaps it is quite an adequate expression—had the Party opposite when in office been prepared to use even that label to show they had a republic, had they claimed the right de jure to legislate for the 32 Counties, had they got rid of the King whom they imported into the life of the nation in 1936—had they done these things, then the terrible events which have taken place since 1936 would not be in our history to-day.
I do not want to indulge in any way in recrimination. I do not want even to allow myself to be provoked by Deputy Aiken into a bitter or recriminatory attitude. Even at this stage, I think it is not too late to ask that this Bill should be passed by this House in such a manner and in such an atmosphere that it will go out to the world as an indication of the united attitude of the nation. But if the attitude of Deputies opposite is to be governed by the malice they feel towards the Government which has succeeded them, if it is to be dictated by selfish motives of jealousy and envy, if it is to be conditioned by what apparently amounts almost to a psychopathological hatred for the people on the Government Front Benches to-day, then it leaves one with very little hope for any progress towards the achievement of a 32-county republic. If it is a fact that Deputies opposite were so long in power that they now feel that for anybody else to exercise Governmental authority is an abuse of that authority, then it is time, I think, that they examined their consciences and realised that they are sitting on those benches opposite because they failed as republicans, because they lost the confidence of the people and that they are likely to remain on the benches opposite for quite a long time.
Mr. Seán Collins: When the Leader of the Opposition spoke on the Second Stage of this Bill, I felt that possibly in presenting this Bill to the House, the Taoiseach had, as he had hoped, brought into this House a new note of unity, a new note that would add a spirit of hope to the major problems of national reintegration that are facing this country now. When I spoke then I spoke in the honest belief that the Opposition were prepared to meet in a manly, chivalrous way in the national interest the questions raised by this Bill. I would not intervene at this stage of the Bill were it not that I am forced in honesty to myself, as well as to what I represent, to deprecate in a very emphatic way, the hypocrisy, the humbug and the nonsense that have been enunciated in an alleged support for this measure. Fianna Fáil purport to support this Bill. They do it in such a vindictive, malicious, distorted and twisted way that I would love to have been able to welcome an honest opposition rather than a queer, malicious support. If we have descended to the level in this House that on a matter of major importance, a matter that, if it is to achieve anything, must be achieved in a spirit of goodwill and in a spirit of unity in this House, we can have nothing but distortion, malice and deliberate provocation such as we have had during the course of this afternoon, then I say it would have been more courageous, more manly in every sense, for Fianna Fáil either to have supported the Bill in silence or to do in fact what they are trying to do by malice, oppose it.
We have heard in this House to-day jibes and counter-jibes about a period of history that I have appealed to the House to use as something we could look to for guidance so that we might avoid any of the tragic bitternesses and disunion of the past and that we might come here to-day manfully and well to get together in a spirit of doing our best for a country that we all put first.  No matter in what particular direction our political belief may go, we all put our country first. I had hoped that we could get on this Bill and restore to this House a measure of unity that was lost on a tragic day during the Treaty debates, get it back now in 1948, so that we might work together, not talk together, for a 32-county Irish republic.
Mr. S. Collins: All the interruptions of an empty vessel are not going to stop me from putting on record in this House what I believe should arise in this country as a result of this Bill. I am glad on this occasion to follow. Deputy Con Lehane, as I did on the Second Stage of this Bill. I feel that there is a point of view to be argued and I possibly will not accept in full the arguments of the other two points of view, all Deputy Lehane's approach to the republic or all Fianna Fáil's approach to the republic but I do say that in all three views there has been a wealth of honest work, a wealth of work that should be coalesced now in a solid effort to march forward to a goal that is still ours. To have petty, miserable, vicious, malicious, tinkering little speeches about an emblem that is sacred to our dead, as it is to ourselves, is reducing this House to the level to which some Deputies would love to reduce the country.
I am not afraid to say, and I do not care whom it hurts, that unless we can be big enough in ourselves to efface and forget any division we may have and to get together on the question of solving Partition, we will not solve it. There is strength in unity and for the future of Ireland—I would say this publicly in this Dáil and to the country —and in the interests of this country, I hope that, no matter what differences or bitternesses I might have or  should have, I would be able to lay them aside and to shake hands with a de Valera, a MacBride or anybody else when it comes to a question of the onward march for the benefit of the country.
That is the plank on which this Bill is presented to the House. It is a plank on which, if we are Irishmen worthy of our tradition, we should now be able to stand, irrespective of Party or irrespective of politics. We should be able to stand together now and get back in Dáil Éireann a unity that was once disrupted in Dáil Eireann. We should get it back here first and then it will not take us long to get it back throughout the length and breadth of the country. Let national issues be put on a higher plane than the economic policies of any individual Party. There is one big national problem remaining, one that can be solved only when people of all opinions can get together to march on from the Republic of Ireland Bill, 1948, to that Independence Day that Deputy Fitzpatrick hoped for, an Independence Day for a 32-county republic of Ireland, a republic of Ireland that can come only if we stop disgracing ourselves and making small children of ourselves in petty, vulgar, malicious abuse such as has been going on in this House during the course of this Bill.
My final remarks are these: I welcome this Bill. I do not care to whom or to what Parties the measure of credit is due. I welcome this Bill because it clarifies a position that no verbal badinage of Deputy de Valera can get around. It clarifies a position for the ordinary plain thinking man of this country and it gives a platform on which men of different specific political or economic outlook can get together for a national objective. It gives us in our time, if we are men enough and have courage enough to take it, a platform on which we can all unite on the question of the solution of Partition. This Republic of Ireland Bill gives us a hope that the younger generation may not be tainted with the bitterness, the mistakes, or the hate of the previous generation.
Mr. R. Walsh: I do not intend to make a very long speech at the conclusion of a very lengthy debate. The  thing that amuses me about the Bill— and it is amused I am—is all the fuss. What is all the fuss about? It is because we have ceased, or propose to cease, using an English King as a rubber stamp. That is all the External Relations Act did. There were constitutional developments in this country for the past 25 years. We heard a great deal from the last speaker about harmony, unity and all that sort of thing. It would be a very good thing if he and some others on the Government Benches—and I include members of the Front Bench—would practise what they preach and have less of the recriminations and less of the abuse that we have been treated to here for the past two or three days. I have this much right to speak in this debate that I did a little in my own way for the national movement and certainly if the men I worked with at that time were to come back here to-night they would not feel very flattered. This recriminataion and abuse was started by the Taoiseach when he opened this debate.
Mr. R. Walsh: I am not going to travel round bit by bit or word by word. We heard Deputy Con Lehane to-night doing the very same thing, trying to justify the action of Clann na Poblachta. If the Clann na Poblachta people feel that they were justified in their action, they do not need justification by any Deputy in this House. It is a matter for their conscience. One or two very pertinent questions were asked during the debate. It was stated again and again since the debate started that out of it we were going to get peace throughout the country and that there would be no more resorting to the gun for political reasons. I hope that is true. I think any Irishman would wish it to be true, but certainly after listening to the debate to-night, I am not so sure that it is true. A definite question was put to the people on the Government Benches: did they assert as the elected Government of  the people that they had the right to control all the arms in the country? That was a very simple question but it was not answered as far as I could hear, and it came out in the course of the debate—it was Deputy Aiken who mentioned it—that it was known that in two or three places in the country people who put up to be a military organisation were drilling and training for the purpose of using their arms against the Government.
Mr. R. Walsh: Arguments have been put up that this Bill brings about a republic in this country for the first time. It does not. In the very early days of my life when I was concerned in the national movement, neither I nor the men who worked with me were very concerned or very worried about whether we should be called a free, sovereign and independent State. What we were worried about was that the country should be free, call it what you like. That is the chief thing we were worried about. We heard a justification, as I said, from the Taoiseach to-day and we heard another justification of Clann na Poblachta, and for the purpose of justifying themselves they started to vilify Fianna Fáil. They  take up the attitude when anybody says anything to them—to use the famous phrase which was used many times in this House against us when we were in the Government Benches—“For God's sake don't hit me and the republic in my arms.” That is the attitude these people take when any word at all is spoken that throws a doubt on the bona fides of their case and they shout: “Don't hit me.”
I am glad that this Bill is being passed. It will at least prevent the people in the country from getting up and pretending that there is a state of affairs here that does not exist. We have had various examples of that within a short period. We had here to-night the old story, the descriptions of the terrible tortures in our prisons. A couple of years ago a man came here and took those statements as being true and helped to vilify this country across the water. This country is free and independent. It can do anything it likes as far as internal and external affairs are concerned. Anything the Parliament of the nation decides can be done. They can either go to war or remain at peace. The only qualification to that is that the Parliament has the decision. Why make out that that did not exist until this Bill was brought in? It simply stops the use of the British King as a rubber stamp. Has anybody on those benches beyond the cheek to say that there is anything that we could not do that this Bill enables us to do? Any exercise of our sovereignty? We already had the power to do anything we wished but we are told to-night that that is as a result of the Bill only. At least that is the implication. I am glad that the Bill is being passed and I support the Bill not that I believe it gives us a republic for the first time for we have had a republic for at least ten years or that it enables us to make a further advance towards the objective to which we all should march, a United Ireland. If I could see that this Bill was going to enable us to march more quickly and more firmly towards that great objective, then we would all certainly be in a great state of jubilation and enthusiasm as Deputy Collins wishes us to be, but it does not and certainly it will not help if this spirit displayed here to-night  is any indication. It is no use for the people on the Government Benches to pretend that they are the purists. Prominent members on those benches and even Ministers to-night and last night gave, in my opinion, anything but a creditable display of good manners or the courtesy of debate.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I think, perhaps, that Deputy Walsh is not one of those members of Fianna Fáil who pay any very great attention to the utterances of their leader. He is certainly not a Deputy—apparently, at any rate —who pays any attention to the records of the utterances of his leader. Deputy Walsh wants to know why there was this confusion and what this Bill does that was not done before. I have listened to the debate for a number of hours now. Claims have been made here from the Fianna Fáil Benches that this Bill is doing nothing. I had no intention of speaking until I heard that statement made and reiterated time and again until it became quite obvious to me and to others sitting on these benches that that was the Party line to be adopted down the country. I get up here in the interests of ordinary honesty again to place on record some of the reasons why it was necessary that this Bill should be introduced and why it should be introduced in the interests of honesty in public life and honest dealing with our own people and with those across the water.
The Constitution of 1937 was discussed in this House before it was put to the people at a plebiscite. Every section of every Article in that Constitution was discussed at length. Mr. Frank MacDermot, then Deputy MacDermot, in dealing with Article 5 of the Constitution, which declares the State to be a free, sovereign and independent State, asked to have any doubts that might be created in the future cleared up there and then and he put down an amendment asking that that Article of the Constitution be altered to read: “That Éire is a free, sovereign and independent republic.” He was quite frank with the then Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, as to the reason why he put down the amendment, and he stated, according to the  Official Debates, that he was putting down the amendment for the purpose of eliciting the reason why the President, as he then was, refused to take this opportunity of declaring a republic.
That amendment and that blunt question from Deputy MacDermot drew one of the very infrequent clear statements from Deputy de Valera. His reply was quoted here in this debate already and I intend quoting it again. In reply to that question, which was asked by Deputy MacDermot as to why he was not using the opportunity of the Constitution for declaring a republic, Deputy de Valera stated:
“I told the Deputy, when he put an amendment down here in quite an opposite direction, that the thing to be aimed at in this Constitution, in my opinion, as there is an acute difference of opinion of such a character that it would mean that we would not get acceptance of this Constitution by a large section of the people, was to leave this matter to be decided as a separate and independent question.”
“Whether you take one view or the other view, you will have against this Constitution a number of people who, otherwise, would not be against it. In the same spirit as we try to meet Deputies on the opposite side, where it is at all possible, I think we ought to leave this matter also outside it.”
I do not think I am misrepresenting Deputy de Valera when I say that either yesterday or to-day he claimed that this was the occasion on which it was being put as a separate and independent question. I will stand correction on that, because I have not got the quotation with me. I had only just come into the House at the time and I heard a phrase of that sort coming from Deputy de Valera's lips. I was very glad because I thought that now at last we are going to get a clear, honest admission  from Deputies opposite that this Bill is doing something and that it is doing something which they did not do. That was when the Constitution was being discussed in this House. It was later voted on by the people and passed.
Deputy MacEntee and some other Deputies on the opposite benches have thought fit to jeer at the attitude adopted by members of the Fine Gael Party when that Constitution was being discussed. I say quite frankly that, whether we opposed the Constitution or not, there is not one Deputy opposite who will say that any member of this Party did not accept fully and loyally the Constitution when it was enacted by the people. That is as it should be and that is as it was.
I quoted Deputy de Valera's words in this House in 1937. In 1938, he made the matter even more clear, if it were necessary to make it any clearer. Peculiarly enough, he did this at that time at the behest of a cumann in County Donegal. That cumann asked the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis in 1938 to assert: “That this Ard-Fheis believes that the time is now opportune to declare Éire a free and independent republic”, that in 1938, the year after the Constitution was adopted, the time was opportune to declare Éire a free and independent republic. Apparently, the members of the Fianna Fáil Organisation who sent up that resolution for discussion did not believe that they had a free and independent republic at that time. Deputy de Valera did not believe it either, because he spoke on that resolution. Perhaps some of those opposite who attended that Ard-Fheis will correct me if I am wrong, but I think it is correct to say that the opposition of Deputy de Valera to that resolution secured its withdrawal and that it was not necessary to vote upon it.
Deputy de Valera, in his opposition to that resolution, set out the fact that there was no constitutional obstacle to declaring a republic; that you could have a republic provided you repealed the External Relations Act. As the Minister for External Affairs stated, later in the same year, he made another  declaration, again a clear declaration, and again in language which could not be misunderstood that, in his opinion, we were not an independent republic; that perhaps it would be better if we were. Time went on, and in 1945 he declared we were a republic.
I say that it is that type of attitude, that type of mental jitterbugging that caused any confusion which was created. It is because Deputies opposite took up one attitude in 1937, the same attitude in 1938, and a completely different attitude in 1945 that confusion was created. Any confusion that exists is there because of that and, more particularly, because of the apparent inability of the present Leader of the Opposition in his public pronouncements to be consistent and to hold the same opinion at different times.
Apart from the merits of this Bill as outlined by the Taoiseach when introducing it, I believe that it is absolutely essential in the interests of public honesty that something of this sort should be done. When speaking on the adjournment in this House last August, I stated that we were being left in a most undignified position; that if any foreigner coming over to our country and talking to any of us as public representatives asked us what were we, what was our constitutional status none of us could give him a straight answer, an answer that we ourselves would fully believe. I believe that that applies with equal strength to every Deputy on the far side. I said last August that it would be more in accord with our dignity as a nation that the doubt should be cleared up.
I think that this Bill, at any rate, is clearing up doubts. It is a very great pity that the Deputies opposite, in their speeches both inside and outside of this House, should adopt the tone that they have. I resent, particularly, some of the speeches made by Deputy MacEntee. I think that any Deputy on these benches owes a duty to his constituents to repudiate publicly the foul suggestion made by that Deputy that this Bill was being introduced here——
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: With regard to the suggestion that was made, I think that, as an individual Deputy, I am entitled to make my attitude clear with regard to it. If I am not allowed to do it here, I shall certainly do it outside. There was the suggestion made, a very foul suggestion, that this Bill was being introduced because this Government was subject to Communist pressure——
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: If that is so, I want to show where the Deputy stands before he tries to substantiate it. According to the Deputy—he says he intends to attempt to substantiate the suggestion that he has made—this Bill has been introduced under Communist pressure, and the Deputy and every Deputy behind him is going to walk into the division lobby in order to hold up the hand of the Government to do that.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Are there always going to be questions of cheap politics and attempts to divide and split our people into different sections, attempts to divide the people, first of all into Catholics and Protestants and to stir up trouble against this Bill by one section of our people, and then  when the Deputy has done enough in that direction, to try and stir up the feelings of the vast majority of the people of this country who are Catholics under the suggestion that this is a Communist-controlled measure? I hope that the Deputy will have the common decency before this debate concludes to withdraw that suggestion, and that he will be manly enough to do it. I know that he has withdrawn equally slanderous and scandalous suggestions that he made in the past.
I had hoped that all that kind of talk, all that type of cheap political trickery, would be indulged in only outside this House. I know the political advantages that the Deputy, in a personal way, hopes to gain out of that type of speech. I know also the political advantages that the Deputies opposite as a Party hope to gain by their extraordinary support of this Bill. I congratulated Deputy Sheldon on the speech that he made in opposing the Second Reading of the Bill and on the manner in which he did that. I said that if every other Deputy opposing a measure did so in the same way as Deputy Sheldon had done, that this would be a much more pleasant and much more orderly Assembly. I go further now and I say that if every Deputy supporting this Bill supported it in the same way that Deputy Sheldon had opposed it we would have a very much better and a much more orderly Assembly. Do you think that anybody listening to these discussions or reading the record of them, will believe for a second that the Deputies opposite are supporting this measure? If they are supporting it, it is the queerest kind of support that a measure like this could get.
Appeals have been made from these benches by the Taoiseach, by a number of his Ministers and by a number of other Deputies to try and keep this debate on some kind of a high level. That has not been done. I think it was Deputy Con Lehane who said: That the time is not too late yet to show every section of our own people, and every section of our people outside this country, that the Government has the support of the Opposition in repealing  the External Relations Act. I am quite certain that the impression given abroad—I do not say that it was done deliberately; I think it was done mainly in ignorance—by the type of support that this Bill has received from the Deputies opposite is that, in fact, one of the major political Parties in this country, namely, Fianna Fáil, is violently opposed to this repeal. If they are supporting this Bill, why not try and do it in a decent way? Why not approach it in the manner in which the Taoiseach approached it when he introduced the Bill? The Taoiseach gave credit to all Parties who had done anything in building up this State, and in enabling it to arrive at the stage it has now reached. Why will not the Deputies opposite, at least, conclude the debate on the same level as that on which the Taoiseach started it? If they do that, even at this eleventh hour, they will be doing a good service to the people of this country. They will be lending some type of solid support to this or to any future Government in this country in trying to remove the sore of Partition.
Mr. MacEntee: We have been asked by Deputy Collins, in what was to me a moving and impressive speech, and one which I might have yielded to if I did not know the company which he had been keeping: we have been asked to jubilate at the introduction of this Bill. Well, if it gratifies him to know it, we do, but we do it because we hail the return of the prodigals. We are all republicans now, thank God; those who overthrew the republic and the Commonwealth, and those purblind politicians who could not see the republic which they acclaim to-day standing before the world and formally established by the votes of the people in 1937.
We take, as I have already said, great joy in this Bill, because it is a vindication of everything that we stood for and of everything that we did, and if the measure had been introduced in that spirit, it would have been received on these benches with a generosity and a response that would have been fitting to the occasion. But that is not how it was introduced. It was brought in as a political manoeuvre,  brought in for reasons which I think have not yet been disclosed to the public. The Bill has been ushered in with the beating of burst drums and the blaring of cracked trumpets——
Mr. MacEntee: ——as a vindication of all that was done in 1921, 1922 and 1923, and of everything that was done thereafter to prevent the re-establishment of the republic. It is a sorry thing to see a man who fought to maintain the republic in 1921 now permitting himself to be led around as a hostage to grace the Fine Gael triumph. The Minister for External Affairs is in that position. He has appeared on public platforms as a reformed rebel, wearing sackcloth with his head sprinkled with ashes to justify the betrayal of 1921. Everything that Cumann na nGaedheal did, he has raised his voice to vindicate. We are asked to accept an occasion which requires that sort of self-abasement to justify it as something which the Irish people can be proud of.
We, for our part, are not going to turn our backs on the past. We have nothing to be ashamed of in it. If you are declaring in a Bill that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland it is due to us who stood faithful to our republican principles and who had the wisdom and commonsense and political sagacity to see how they could be realised—to see how the position which had been given away could be retrieved and to see how, in fact, we might all be united once again as we are to-day united on the platform of the Republic of Ireland.
This Bill was unnecessary in order to clarify the constitutional position. If it had been necessary it would, as one of your own supporters has told you, have been brought in as an amendment to the Constitution, because it is only an amendment to the Constitution that can change the character or nature of this State. It has been brought in, you told us, to clear up confusion about the nature of the State, confusion which has been of your own creation. It is you who have beclouded the position. It is you who have tried to conceal the  truth. No one can deny that our State is a republican State. No one can deny that this State is a republican State if he is true to the conclusions which the exercise of unbiased intelligence will compel him to reach. It is true that some have denied it. The Tánaiste alleged here to-day that we had not got a republic because, he said, the External Relations Act which this Bill repeals had brought the King back into Ireland. The Tánaiste, whatever other attributes his vanity may confer on himself, is not a constitutional lawyer. However, sitting beside him as he made that statement in the course of this debate was a lawyer who has appeared in the courts of this land and pleaded for and against the Constitution—a lawyer, therefore, who is experienced and versed in constitutional law.
What did that lawyer say? He was not then a Taoiseach; he was Deputy Costello, former Attorney-General, drafter of the famous amendment to the Constitution of 1922, known as Article 2A, an eminent lawyer who was glorified with the title of King's Councillor. What had he to say, this King's Councillor——
Mr. MacEntee: I see. Well, I do not know when the Taoiseach was called to the Inner Bar, when he received his patent of precedence and so on, but I know that in the Telephone Directory for the year 1947 he has described himself as John Costello, K.C. That is beside the point, perhaps, except that it does show that he is a member of the Senior Bar of long standing. He has been Attorney-General in this State and he is now head of this Government. Therefore his opinion——
Mr. MacEntee: You will concede that to me I hope. Here is what the Taoiseach, Deputy Costello as he then was, had to say on this issue when speaking just 12 years ago, almost to the week, on the Executive Authority (External Relations) Bill—the Act which is now being repealed—in answer to Deputy Norton's speech in the course of the same Debate. I am quoting from the Official Reports, Vol. 64; col. 1431:—
Later in the course of the same speech Deputy Costello—I am speaking of him as he then was; I do not want to refer to him as “the Taoiseach” in this context in case I might be taken as ascribing to him now the opinions that he expressed then—proceeded to say this about the Bill which Deputy Lehane, the Tánaiste and the Minister for External Affairs have told us brought the King back into Ireland:—
“Section 3 is a most extraordinary section and I am not at all sure that on its strict legal construction it may not have the effect which would, I am sure, be very welcome to some members of the Fianna Fáil Party”—
That was what the Taoiseach, as  Deputy Costello, had to say on the 12th December, 1936, Vol. 64, col. 1433 of the Official Reports, about this Bill which we are told by Deputy Lehane —I was not here for the speech of the Minister for External Affairs—was a justification for all the force that was used against this State, for all the lives that were taken and for all the crimes that were committed by those with whom Deputy Lehane was then associated.
“We propose solemnly to pass an Act of this Dáil stating that we will allow the King to act for us in external affairs so long as the other nations recognise him as the symbol of their co-operation. But they do not recognise the King as a symbol of their co-operation. Therefore, this Act never can come into effective operation and, therefore, the King cannot act at all in external affairs with the authority of this Bill, when it becomes an Act.”
There we have the position. We had on the preceding day, by amending the Constitution of 1922, and by cutting out all the references to the King and Crown that had been inserted therein under the Treaty of 1922, completely removed the King as a constitutional component from our internal policy. We had, according to the then Deputy Costello—and he was quite right—removed the King as a constitutional component from all participation in our external affairs. We used him, as I said yesterday, if he had to be used at all, as our agent. We used him as we might employ a lawyer or as we might employ a scribe to write a letter.
Mr. MacEntee: There, on the plea and on the justification which Deputy Norton offered for bringing in this Bill, we have him in diametrical conflict with his leader, the Taoiseach. There we have a man, who professes to be and who is a lay man in legal matters, in conflict with a lawyer who is recognised as one of the leaders of the Irish bar and who is acknowledged to be a man of great experience and great learning in matters of constitutional law. He completely contradicts not only what the Taoiseach has said in relation to this matter but also what his Minister for External Affairs has said in relation to it.
Then we had Deputy Lehane stating his reasons—I do not know whether he was or was not justifying the introduction of this Bill. The Bill does not require any justification except perhaps to clear away the fog from Deputy Lehane's mind and help to make that great intelligence work with some degree of rationality. In any event Deputy Lehane asked: “Did the Party opposite recognise the republic?” Do we recognise the republic—who established it in 1937? We never denied the existence of the republic. The only Parties who denied the existence of the republic are the members of the Coalition. Each of them, of course, were at that time in their several and separate tents. Now they are all under the one umbrella. At that time there were some of them who would not so far associate with the others as to be even seen within the precincts of Leinster House.
When the question was put here in Dáil Eireann to the then Taoiseach as to whether we had or had not a republic, the then Taoiseach said that we were a republic. Who was it who gibed at him? Admittedly, Deputy Lehane was not here at that time. He was endeavouring to serve the nation by celebrating the anniversary of the Russian Revolution down in Jury's Hotel. He was not here. But there  were other members of the inter-Party Government here in the House on that occasion. The Minister for Agriculture was here; the Minister for Defence was here; the Tánaiste was here; and the Taoiseach was here.
When Deputy de Valera, then Taoiseach, declared that this State was a republic, did they receive that declaration with the acclamation with which Deputy Collins wants us to receive this Bill? Did they throw their hats in the air? They had not their hats with them; but did they even throw their papers in the air and cry: “Hurrah! at last 1921 has been vindicated?”
Mr. Aiken: I do not know if the Deputy has ever been trepanned but certainly he would want to get some of the weight off his mind, because he seems to be suffering from some type of pressure on the brain.
Mr. MacEntee: On the contrary, they set themselves out to try to disprove the assertion. That declaration by the head of the Government at that time was as solemn and binding as anything that is written in this Bill. They would not accept that declaration of the then head of the Government and Minister for External Affairs that we were a republic. They did not accept it. They rejected it with scorn because at that time they were still hankering after the fleshpots of the Commonwealth. The present Taoiseach was still at the stage at which he felt he could tell the electors in Dublin that, if he were elected, there would be no  change in the constitutional position vis-a-vis the Commonwealth.
Mr. MacEntee: We do not think there is. You are telling us that there is. We do not think there is. There is no change being made under this Bill really. We were outside the Commonwealth before this Bill was introduced and we will still be outside it after this Bill has passed into law. We have been outside the Commonwealth since 1937. Your own leader has told you that. Deputy O'Higgins has put a question to me. Let him put that question to his Taoiseach: does the Taoiseach think that there is any change in the Constitutional relationship between the State and the Commonwealth now? If he does think there is a change how does he reconcile that with the pledge he gave to his constituents in Dublin in the last election?
Mr. MacEntee: I have not got it by me now, but the Taoiseach wrote it. Perhaps when he is closing this debate he will disclose to the House what he did say to the electors of Dublin South-East on this particular issue.
Mr. MacEntee: Of course, pledges and promises that are meant to deceive are very often effective. Sooner or later you will have to face the issue and give an account of your stewardship to your constituents and answer  for the pledges and promises which you so blithely gave blithely broke.
Mr. MacEntee: I was reminding the House how the assertion that we were a republic was received when it was made by a former Taoiseach. But there were others who were not quite so blind as Deputy Lehane, outside the House, and the Taoiseach and others inside the House, as to what our exact position was and as to what the true character of our State was. I am sure that the then Secretary of State in the United States of America might be taken as a person who could speak with some authority. When the late Mr. Cordell Hull, then Secretary of State to the President of the United States of America, arrived in this country in the year 1938 the first thing he did when he stood on Irish soil was to send a message of welcome and congratulation from the “Oldest—though he was not quite right in that—“and greatest republic of the West, to the young republic that had been newly born here in Ireland” and came into existence in December, 1937. That was a message which might, if they had not shut their ears to it, have carried some sort of conviction to Deputy Lehane and his friends.
The Party then in opposition had set all their hopes on this, that we would be compelled one day or other to yield and accept the Treaty of 1922 and march, as they said they did, into the British Empire with our heads up. If we had gone into it, it would have been with our tails down. I am not going to say that so far as they were concerned Mr. Cordell Hull's pronouncement fell on their receptive ears, but there was something more significant that these people who denied the existence of the republic for the past 11 years might have adverted to. We were talking on the Second Stage about the position of the President as the head of the State.
It may be that the effective head of the State, the executive organ of the State, is the Government, but the Constitution does declare that there shall be a President of Ireland. Though it  does not say he is head of the State, it does say that he shall take precedence over every other person within the State. We could not claim that he could take precedence over every person outside the State. We could not say that he would take precedence over the President of the United States, the President of the Republic of France or the President of any other country.
Mr. MacEntee: I am not stumbling at it. Is the King of Great Britain so dear to the heart of the Minister for Industry and Commerce that whenever one mentions the head of the State he is the first head of State that springs to the Minister's mind?
Mr. MacEntee: He never functioned as the head of this State, but he did function as the head of the State which the Minister for Industry and Commerce tried to sustain here in 1937 and asked the people to adhere to, because this Constitution of 1922 is stuffed with references to the King and the Crown as head of the State, as the source of executive authority, as the person who appoints the judges, the Prime Minister and everything else.
Mr. MacEntee: Our President is internationally recognised, and it is on that question I am going to join issue with everything that has been said before. Our President is internationally recognised as the head of this State. There is a practice long established as between nations that messages are exchanged only between heads of States. As they say in the official jargon—it is a phrase of civil service jargon that has come into common use —correspondence is conducted on the same level. When you want to go from the official bureaucratic level to the  political or governmental level, you go to a higher level, and the highest point in this hierarchy is that of head of the State.
We used to hear a lot of talk about the nations of the British Commonwealth being co-equal and not subordinate to each other in any respect. The heads of States are co-equal and are not subordinate to each other in any respect and when they exchange messages they exchange them as co-equals. Here are some of the things that have happened in the lifetime of this State, when Deputy Lehane and his colleague the Minister for External Affairs, and Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy Cowan and the rest of them are trying to deceive the people as to what our true position was to have regard to them.
There was an exchange of messages between our President and His Holiness Pope Pius the XI on 12th March, 1947, and if any person doubts that he can verify it by consulting the Irish Press, the most reliable newspaper in the country. On the 17th March an exchange of messages took place between General Franco the de facto head of the Spanish State and our President, de jure and de facto head of this State, and again that can be verified by referring to the Irish Press of 20th March of last year. On that same date, long before the Taoiseach dreamt he would be Taoiseach or Mr. MacBride believed that the Ministry of External Affairs was within his grasp, the President of the Swiss Confederation exchanged messages of greeting with our President.
I do not think there is any significance to be attached to the power, might and authority of the State. If I had to consider whether one State ranked higher than another, the older the institution the more august it might be and the higher prestige it might carry. But at any rate, the President of the United States, President Truman exchanged messages with President Seán T. O'Kelly, the head of this State, on 18th March of this year, long before this Bill was brought in, long before any intention to bring in this Bill was disclosed to the people.
 The President of the Argentine exchanged messages similarly, as did the President of France. The provisional President of Italy exchanged messages with the President of Ireland, Uachtarán na Éireann, on 8th July, 1946, and the President of France on 3rd February, 1947. More significant than any, in view of the arguments used here in this debate to justify the contention that the republic is not in existence to-day—and, if it is in existence to-day, it must have been in existence since September, 1937—King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as he is styled, exchanged messages with our President on 19th November, 1948. Here are the heads of States recognising our independence, recognising our sovereignty and recognising our President, as co-equal with them. Yet Deputy Lehane comes in here and tries to justify the line which he and some of his associates have pursued in Irish life for the past 11 years, by saying that this Party on these benches, the Party responsible for bringing the republic into existence, did not recognise the republic.
Over the years, the only people who have denied the existence of the republic since 1937 have been those who wanted a different type of State here from that which has been in existence since 1937. Over the years, there has been, of course, a Party who wanted us to be a monarchial State, who wanted us to be a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and who, because it seemed to suit their particular policy and seemed to them to be politically expedient, denied that we had a republican State here, denied it because they wanted to try to create that confusion in the public mind, which I think they did to some extent succeed in creating, in order that they might be able to say that there was little difference between this Constitution of 1937 and the Constitution of 1922 which they imposed on the Irish people by force of arms.
Mr. MacEntee: On the other hand, over the years, the existence of our republic has been denied by those who  were endeavouring “to organise commitees of action amongst industrial and agricultural workers behind a revolutionary Government for the establishment of a workers' and working farmers' republic”. They, of course, denied the existence of the republic because they wanted to make it appear to their deluded followers that they still had something to fight for, that they still had something which justified a resort to arms and to force and the denial and the abandonment of legal and constitutional means in order to secure their objective.
Nobody in this State—let me make it clear—under our Constitution, is denied the right to advocate the establishment of the Soviet system here. Nobody in this State is denied the right to advocate the nationalisation of industry, of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Nobody in this State is denied the right to advocate the confiscation of private property and nobody in this State is denied the right to try to convert the electors of the country to their point of view. If they secure the support of a majority of the electorate upon any one of these proposals, they are, when they become the Government of the country, entitled to give effect to their particular programmes. But it is unlikely I think, that any of these proposals will meet, or would have met in earlier years, with the acceptance of the majority of the Irish people. Therefore, the men who could not hope to persuade the Irish people to their point of view by argument and reason took up another line.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy has said that there is no reason why they should not follow constitutional means. Having said that he is not to tell us what was done. It is not relevant to this debate.
Mr. MacEntee: No. I am trying to throw my mind back and to put myself in the position of Deputy Lehane who has said that the reason certain things were done was that we had refused to recognise the republic. We refused to recognise the republic! Of course that is not true.
Mr. MacEntee: There has been a lot more than that said in this debate and I think I am entitled, with all respect to you, Sir, to proceed to ask a question. We have got this republic now universally accepted by those who opposed its establishment and by some of those who took up arms against it since it was established in 1937. I think I am quite entitled, in discussing what is in the Bill, to ask where we go from here. I know that there are arms in this country which have been used against the republic and there are men in this House who profess to speak for those who have these arms. Deputy Fitzpatrick, for instance, said on the Second Reading that he was in a position to speak for these men. I know that the Minister for External Affairs did speak for them. I know that he did speak for them on most critical occasions. I know that he spoke for them in September, 1939, and I know that Deputy Lehane is in a position to speak for them. I want to know from these Deputies, where do we go from here? The question has been put to them separately and jointly. What is their attitude towards men who may take up arms against this Republic of Ireland?
Surely I am entitled to put that question. I am putting it because I think it is of vital importance to the future of this country that we should have an unequivocal answer to it. We have had no answer so far—that is the significant thing. The Minister for External Affairs has spoken in this debate and he has not answered it. Deputy  Lehane, the deputy leader, I believe, of Clann na Poblachta, has spoken in this debate and he has not answered it. I do not regard the statement of the Tánaiste as being sufficiently weighty, sufficiently authoritative, to carry weight with these men.
The men who must speak in this debate and answer that question are the men who have been the comrades of those who have carried the guns. We should get that answer to that question before this debate concludes. It is of vital importance to the future of this country. Everything that has been done—some terrible things have had to be done—will be justified, if we can get a plain and unequivocal declaration from those who organised against the republic or used arms against its servants or tried to undermine its authority abroad—they did that when they served a declaration of war on Great Britain in 1938.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy has already said that there was full room within constitutional methods to proceed. I have asked him to stop at that and not to enter on another line in any fashion.
Mr. MacEntee: I am not going to proceed further on that line except to say this, that we must have an answer. Otherwise, since the issue has been raised, men outside this House may be deceived and deluded by the silence.
Sir, it is essential that we have an answer, for another reason. A member of this Government, speaking in a public place in Dublin, gave what, to my mind, was an act of indemnity to any person who might attempt to resort to force in order to secure his political objectives in this country.
Mr. MacEntee: I do not know if the Chair was entitled, in a matter of this sort, to say that, because that is a constitutional fallacy. That is the excuse which the Taoiseach has offered in justification for his Ministers. That is how he has endeavoured to justify inaction in this matter. There is nothing in this Constitution which says that a Minister may speak otherwise than as a member of the Government. There is no article in this Constitution which says that a Minister may strip himself of all the attributes of his office and all the responsibility of his office any time he wishes to permit his tongue to run away with him or any time he may wish to give consolation and encouragement to his friends. That is not in this Constitution. What is in this Constitution is that there shall be members of the Government and they are members of the Government for every one of the 24 hours of the day.
Mr. MacEntee: This Bill we are discussing now is the Republic of Ireland Bill and I am asking what sort of republic we are going to have. Is it going to be a republic according to this Constitution? If so, is Article 40 of this Constitution still going to continue to subsist? Is it going——
Mr. MacEntee: We have a reference here to the State. This Bill declares that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland. I want to know what State. Is it the State set up under this Constitution, which declares, among other things, that among the personal rights of the citizens——
The Taoiseach: Section 2 of the Bill says “The State”. That is strictly following the Constitution and the Constitution cannot be amended in any way except by referendum. Accordingly, I respectfully submit that this line of argument is merely for the purpose of wasting time.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I have allowed Deputy MacEntee to go very far. I have allowed him to elucidate what he considers could be done under the Constitution, in respect of altering the position of this country. I have asked him not to proceed any further on the lines on which he is proceeding now, but he has continued to ignore the ruling of the Chair. I am repeating that request. He should comply with it, otherwise I will have to ask him to discontinue his speech.
Mr. MacEntee: Sir, you will forgive me, but I must, of course, accept your ruling in a matter of this sort. However, I think, for what it is worth, as a person of long experience here, who has listened to many debates and  listened in particular to some of the speeches made here to-day, it would be quite in order for me to ask the Taoiseach, before this Bill is passed, whether the State to which this Bill relates is going to honour its obligations to its citizens. If it is not going to do so, what is the use of passing a Bill declaring that the State shall be the Republic of Ireland? What is the use of putting a label on a State which has ceased to exist? I want to know, and I think I am in order in asking that question, whether the State referred to in this Bill is going to honour its obligations to the citizens of Ireland, whether it is going to preserve to them the right to express freely their opinions; and if it is, I am going to ask why no action has been taken against those who endeavoured to prevent me from exercising that right and what justification the Minister for Justice has for his inaction in that regard?
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: We have heard, on this Stage of the Bill, either a deliberately mischievous speech from Deputy MacEntee or a very silly speech from a very silly man. He has endeavoured now to have an inquest into 25 or 26 years of Irish history and he has been very anxious to make some apology for the actions and inactions of his own Party opposite and of other Parties in this country. I regret very much—and it has been said time and time again by Government Deputies in this debate—that the tone of the debate should be deliberately and consistently lowered by Front Bench speakers in the Opposition. I repeat the appeal that was made this evening by at least two or three Deputies speaking from these benches, asking the Fianna Fáil Opposition, on this important measure—and it is important, despite that Deputy MacEntee is trying to conceal the fact that it is an important measure—that they should conduct themselves as responsible Deputies in an Irish Parliament and not like corner-boys.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: I am very sorry that Deputy MacEntee has gone. He has sorely tempted me, as I am sure he has tempted other Deputies on this side, to wash with him his dirty linen for 25 years back. I do not propose to do that. I am certain that if every word spoken in the Dáil were taken down and recorded, we should have all many black marks against us. I do not think, as Deputy de Valera has said, that there was ever complete unanimity, in the early days of the national movement, as to the republican form of State which this country will have when this Bill is passed. I know there were certain fighters or quondam fighters in the War of Independence who believed that the economic and industrial future of our country could best be secured by such status as was enjoyed by His Majesty's free Dominions. There were some people who held that view in the fight for independence. One of them held that view in 1916 and that person was Deputy Seán MacEntee. The view was also expressed by different people in the country from time to time who were appalled at the use of anything so lawless as the gun, by any effort of an unconstitutional kind, according to some quarters, to forward the cause of national independence. People were so appalled by that, that they might describe, and did describe, the Rebellion of 1916 as an unfortunate insurrection. A Deputy who did that was Deputy Seán MacEntee. If Deputy MacEntee were a more forceful speaker than he is, I might well attempt to wash with him his dirty line, but I do not propose to do so. Deputy MacEntee held views contrary to those he professed to-day concerning the republic of the past.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: But never let Deputy MacEntee or anybody on his behalf claim for him the right to speak here because he fought for the republic. He is a Deputy who, when charged with fighting for the republic, made as an excuse the fact that he had applied for a commission in General Persons' British division.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: I regret that the tone of this debate has been very much lowered and I regret that Deputies have not tried to follow the lead which the Taoiseach tried to set in introducing this measure. I must say that I found it very hard to be patient with the hypocrisy that we heard from Deputy MacEntee, proclaiming himself as a republican through the years, clapping himself on the back as a consistent exponent of republican principles here, the man who when he was in danger, because of his principles, was the first to declare——
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: I regret that certain Deputies in this House have reduced the debate to the level which it has reached now. It is distasteful to us to have to sink to this level but if one person chooses to roll in the mud, he must not object if other persons join in that proceeding with him. The Taoiseach set an example in introducing the Bill when he asked those Deputies in opposition to join with him in keeping the debate at a high level. He paid tribute to every person in every part of this country who, by their contributions to the struggle for independence, made it possible to introduce the measure we are about to pass to-day. His fairness and generosity in doing that has not won from certain Deputies on the Opposition Front Bench the recognition it should have won. We have heard from Deputy MacEntee this evening another effort to stab this Bill in the back. I say that deliberately because I think no other Deputy could have taken up the attitude he adopted in regard to the Bill. He says: “I am supporting this Bill” and, at the same time, he attempts to divide our people by turning one section against the other. That is stabbing this measure in the back. I can well understand how sentiments like that are re-echoed up in the North and across in England. I can well understand how sentiments like that find a very welcome audience amongst the Warnocks and the Basil Brookes of the North.
I do not want in anything I say here to pursue at any length the old question posed here from time to time as to whether we were a republic or not. The Taoiseach has given his opinion so far as that is concerned. The Minister for External Affairs has also given his— that we became a republic on the passing of the Constitution of 1937. That is one view on it. There are other views but I think all these discussions and queries are well summed up by what the Taoiseach said in introducing the measure, that they are part and parcel of an arid, barren discussion. I think any Deputy who heard some of the contributions to the debate last evening will recognise what “arid” and “barren” mean. Deputies in this House tied themselves up in sections of Acts of Parliament in a vain endeavour to show that the republic become a republic on a particular date and on no other. The very fact that we have confusion of this nature in this country is something that should concern us all very much. The very fact that so much thought is being given to this question and that so much time has been wasted over a period of 11 years, is surely the justification of the Bill that we are debating here to-night.
The Bill was brought in by the Taoiseach with very high hopes that it would not only clarify our national position but bring peace and unity to our people. I trust the campaign that has been carried on in this House, and indeed outside it, by Front Bench members of Fianna Fáil, will not prevent that hope coming to fruition. We have had far too much talk about guns, far too much talk about violence, far too much half-hearted incitement in this debate, and I hope that when this Bill is passed we can turn another page in Irish history and forget all that went behind it.
In a matter like that, there is no side or no Party in this House that can claim to be completely right. There is no side and no Party in this House that can say in relation to the maintenance of law and order in this country that they have been consistently right. Any person who thinks that recent Irish history commenced in 1936 is a person who is making a case and is not telling the truth. It is regrettable that, since 1921, police officers in the execution of their duty were murdered and killed. It is not the purpose of this Parliament to pass judgment on who was right or who was wrong in  that ten years from 1922 to 1932 and in the years that followed. The purpose of this Parliament, as representing the Irish nation, is to carry out the will of the people. Speaking as a younger Deputy, I feel that the will and wish of the younger generation is to get away from all that type of thing, to let us forget all the unfortunate pages of our history from 1921 to 1948. Let each man, each person, or each Party, believe that they were right. They are entitled to their belief but let history judge and let us, at least now, forget it all. I do feel sincerely that the contributions to the debate made by Deputy Aiken, by Deputy MacEntee, and, at an earlier stage, by Deputy Lemass, are not helpful to that cause.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: But let them appreciate this, that the people are judging them now, the people are watching them and they cannot get away with harmful support of any measure in this Parliament. If they are supporting this Bill, let them do so in an honourable and courageous manner, but do not let them part the Taoiseach on the back with one hand and try to harm him with the other. The Government, the Taoiseach in particular, in introducing this Bill, have given this country a chance that was lost in 1921. I hope and trust that no man, no politician, no leader of a Party that played any part in those times 27 years ago will now, by any act he might do or any action he might commit, again prevent unity in this country. The Bill holds out that hope.
If this debate is to be any criterion of the matter, so far as the Government  is concerned, it is going to be exercised in that spirit. It was introduced by the Taoiseach giving credit to everyone who helped towards this day. It has been supported by Government Deputies of all Parties in the same spirit. If the hopes are not realised, the responsibility will be on the Opposition in this House to-day.
I commend the measure to the Dáil and I trust that before this debate is concluded an effort will be made by some member of the Opposition to state clearly that they are supporting this measure without misgiving and without any effort to deprive the measure of the unity it can possibly achieve. If that is done, we, in passing this Bill, will have achieved something. We will have cured a great wound and a great wrong, and we will have enabled our nation to close its ranks and step together, on certain issues at any rate.
Mr. Timoney: I feel called upon, as a member of the Clann na Poblachta Party, to answer specifically the specific question which was put by Deputy MacEntee. I do not know how to describe that question. It was a poisonous one and poisonous to Deputy MacEntee's knowledge. But the answer to Deputy MacEntee's question is that no member of Clann na Poblachta will ever take up arms against the Irish Republic. Deputy MacEntee knew that answer well when he was putting the question. It should be unnecessary to make that declaration from these benches but, lest there be any misunderstanding, lest there be any doubt about it, I am now making that declaration.
This question as to whether or not this is a necessary measure is surely answered by the days of debate and the arguments advanced from the Fianna Fáil Benches. Every Party in the House, save the Fianna Fáil Party, agrees that it is a necessary measure. They are the only people who say it is not necessary because we already had a republic; that we have it now. Surely there could not be that awful doubt about such a simple matter and, when there is that doubt, surely it is  a most necessary measure to bring into this House and pass into law. The speakers on the Fianna Fáil Benches know full well that, not only the people down the country, but Fianna Fáil members in this House and members of the Fianna Fáil Party did not know what on earth we were. Members of the Fianna Fáil Party have themselves, since this measure was introduced, confessed so much. I can understand Deputy MacEntee's venom towards us on these benches. He knows well that Clann na Poblachta played a very great part in putting him where he is to-day, but what a pity it is that in a measure of this importance, a measure which has brought joy to the heart of every good Irishman, Deputy MacEntee should allow his venom to find expression as it did. All Ireland is rejoicing at this measure, I believe I can say, even the people in the Six Counties.
Mr. Timoney: Yes, because they see that this is a definite, positive step towards the realisation of our ideal, a 32-county Irish Republic. Any doubt that there was—and there was grave doubt—is about to be cleared up and consequently the people of the country are glad. Deputy MacEntee wants to know what kind of a republic this will be. It is, I hope, going to be an Irish Republic of Ireland because declaring in this measure the form of the State which we have is not enough to satisfy the aspirations of the Irish people and every one of us, I am sure, in approaching that question has in mind the Ireland that Pearse dreamed of, an Ireland not only Gaelic but free, not only free but Gaelic. That is the reason why I said that the republic we are about to pass will not be satisfactory to us if it just has the form of the Republic of Ireland. It must be an Irish Republic of Ireland.
Mr. Moran: I could understand this Bill more clearly if it were confined to the repeal of the External Relations Act. I think that in spite of all the doubts that this Bill is supposed to remove, in certain instances it really makes the position of confusion more confounded. The necessity for the section of the Bill we are passing declaring  this to be the Republic of Ireland Bill is beyond me and is to my mind a misnomer. It seems to be admitted now—it is very lately that it has been admitted—by the Taoiseach and his colleagues that we have that position since the passage of the Constitution of 1937.
Mr. Moran: If the Taoiseach has not given such an admission, the Taoiseach, might possibly explain what he meant by the expression that we were out of the British Commonwealth since 1937, the passage of the Constitution. Perhaps the Taoiseach will be more explicit when replying as to what our position was here since the passage of the Constitution. Perhaps the Taoiseach will tell us now, if we were not a republic and if we have not been a republic of Ireland in fact since the passage of the Constitution, what in fact we were.
Mr. Moran: The Taoiseach is deliberately vague on this matter because it suits the Taoiseach's book to be so, and as otherwise he cannot explain the attitude of himself and his colleagues over a great number of years. I suggest that the title of the present Bill is a misnomer because we recognise now that we have had in fact a republic since 1937, the passage of the Irish Constitution. Probably a better name for the Bill which is now before the House would be “The Removal of Smoke Screens Bill, 1948”. In so far as those people who created the smoke screens as to the Constitution are now coming into this House to remove those smoke screens, I welcome the Bill. If those who created the smoke screens since 1937, if those people who opposed the Constitution bitterly when it was being passed and who, prior to the Constitution, opposed every national advance to repeal the old Treaty of 1921, if those people are  prepared to say, after the passage of this Bill through the House, that we have an Irish Republic recognised at home and abroad as such, this Bill justifies itself because it removes for all time from Irish politics that particular smoke screen. While holding that view however, I think that we should not let the occasion pass without pointing out those people who created the smoke screens, without pointing out the fact that we had this position since the Irish people passed the Constitution.
I am sure that the Taoiseach and his colleagues will admit that that Constitution is binding and legal. I am sure that the Taoiseach and his colleagues will now admit that anything we are doing in this Bill is not, and cannot purport to be, an amendment of that Constitution in any way. I am sure that the Taoiseach will now admit that the source of our law is our 1937 Constitution which was passed by the people. What we are doing therefore in that particular section of this Bill is putting on a label and telling the world that the Republic of Ireland is in fact the Republic of Ireland.
It appears to me there are a couple of matters about which this Bill raises doubts. I do not know whether these matters have occurred to the Taoiseach and I do not say this in any carping way. The name of our State in the Constitution is, as the Taoiseach is aware, Ireland. The description of our State under our Constitution and incorporated in certain official documents under statutes passed by this Dáil is Ireland. For instance, we have recently passed the District Court Rules of 1948 which specify that in certain official forms the State must be described as the State of Ireland. There have been judicial decisions in court—one that comes to my mind is a decision of Judge Gavan Duffy—that the State must be described in certain official documents before the court as the State of Ireland. The Bill purports to change the description of the State, the description incorporated through the statutory law of this country while there are certain forms which have to take that description in our courts. Does therefore this Bill purport, in so  far as it describes the State as the Republic of Ireland, to repeal any of these statutes? Does it purport, as far as it describes the State as the Republic of Ireland, to repeal or infringe upon that Article of the Constitution in which the State is named? If so, in so far as it does that, this Bill is unconstitutional.
If the Bill purports to repeal any of these statutes and in particular if it purports to repeal the District Court Rules of 1948 which have statutory effect and substitute this description of the State for the description formerly held by the courts of Ireland, then this Bill should say so, and there should be some schedule in the Bill specifying the statutes which it was going to repeal. As the Bill was introduced here for the express purpose of removing smoke screens, I hope that it will not create further smoke screens and that we will not have any of the trouble I have visualised after the passing of the Bill. I think that the suggestion that the status of our State was completely misunderstood has been completely erroneous, but if the Taoiseach believes and if the Government believe that this Bill will remove any doubts as to our status either at home or abroad, in so far as this Bill purports to do that, I welcome it.
At all events, I want it to go on record that the only people in my opinion who misconstrued the status of the State or who had any doubts as to the status of our State since the passing of the Irish Constitution were those people who wanted to create those doubts for their own purposes. We have had many of these doubts deliberately expressed and many of these misrepresentations in this House through the years, misrepresentation when the Oath was being removed, misrepresentation when the Irish ports were recovered for our people, misrepresentation of and bitter opposition to the very measure that is now quoted as the gospel of Irish constitutional law, the Constitution passed by our people. In so far as we can get away from that and fundamentally accept, at all events in so far as it goes, the Constitution for this part of the country until we  achieve our final aim, then if this Bill helps these people to remove those smoke screens from their own minds, I welcome the Bill. As to the suggestions that were made during the discussion of this Bill about having a public celebration of some kind at the time that this Bill will come into force, I appeal to the Government and to the Taoiseach——
Mr. Moran: Yes, Sir, but there is another matter that is not in the Bill and that is the date when the Bill is to come into force. That matter has been left in abeyance, at least we have not been told when the Bill is to come into force. There may be good reasons why the Taoiseach is silent on that matter. I do not know what difficulties there may be as to the time when this Bill shall come into force. Once the Bill passes this House, we will not have an opportunity of stating our views as to what shall happen on the date this Bill comes into force.
Mr. Moran: The Taoiseach stated, I think, that he could not say at the moment on what date this Bill will come into force. The Taoiseach might, when replying, give us an idea as to when it will come into force.
Mr. Moran: If it is going to be left in abeyance for some time, I do not see the reason for it. If we are going to remove all these smoke screens and stop any misrepresentations as to the status of our State, then the sooner the Bill becomes law and that is accepted by all, the better. But all the people on these benches do not regard this  Bill as doing anything except removing those smoke screens which have been created. What the people on these benches stand for and what they want is unity and a 32-county republic. I do not know that this Bill is going to bring us one inch further on that road. If the Bill is going to lead to unity, well and good.
I cannot see how the claims which have been made from the opposite benches for unity under this Bill have been justified. From the point of view of the main issue that confronts the nation, I cannot see that this Bill is going to bring us one step farther on that road. At all events, it should be clear to everybody now that, irrespective of this Bill, the importance of the Irish Constitution seems to be realised by every Deputy. Even if to-morrow we had a united Ireland, the Constitution which was passed by the Irish people can stand in its entirety, and not one letter or word or syllable in that Constitution need be changed if we got back the six lost counties of Ireland to-morrow. That being accepted by every Deputy on the opposite benches is the best justification for the Irish Constitution passed in 1937 and should remove any doubts in the mind of anybody as to the effect of the Constitution, doubts created by some of the people who opposed it bitterly. The fact that that is now accepted by all sides is something at least that has been achieved by this Bill.
The Taoiseach: In the course of the remarks I made in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, I referred to the fact that I recoiled from the prospect of spending an indefinite period in what I described as a constitutional purgatory if something like this measure had not been enacted into law. If there were any justification required for the passing of this Bill, the purgatory that we have gone through in the last few days justifies it. When I described the prospect which faced us or any Government in this country in the next few years, if this Bill or something like it had not been passed, as a constitutional purgatory, I understated the position. Deputies can understand what it would mean if, year after year, on the Estimate for the Department of  External Affairs, we had—and undoubtedly we would have—a discussion very much along the lines that have taken place in the last few days.
I do not intend to go through the various points which have been raised by the Leader of the Opposition in stating what he described as the truth, but what I would prefer to describe as a point of view. Accepting it as such, I recognise that he has the right to put on record his point of view in reference to the constitutional changes effected from 1932 onwards. That is not a point of view that is accepted by everybody. It does not necessitate my giving my point of view or showing that my point of view is necessarily correct. All I do want the Deputies to understand and the people to realise is that there are various points of view. Let us admit and go on the assumption that these points of view are sincerely held. I do not require to add that they can be argued at great length, because we have had very sufficient demonstration of that here in the last few days. Let us face the position that we have now by admitting that there are various points of view, different interpretations of history, as the phrase has been used throughtout this debate, and then, having admitted that, let us agree, as Deputy Moran has stated, that at least there is some point of dispute, controversy and difficulty which is causing trouble to our people. Let us then admit that this Bill at least eradicates a cause of difficulty, dispute, controversy and, unfortunately, turmoil.
Deputy de Valera states as his view of what he wants to be accepted as the truth of the constitutional position and of the various changes that have taken place in the last 12 years, that all that time we have had a republican State here, that there has been no King in this State since 1936 and certainly since 1937, and that is why he admits there was difficulty in saying whether we were in or out of the Commonwealth. I think he ultimately came down on the fact that we were outside the Commonwealth all the time. That is the position that he wants to maintain. I have no objection to his main taining it. Whether that is accepted or not does not make any difference now. What does make a difference is  that there was a very serious state of affairs here in this country which existed during the last 12 years.
The aim of this Bill is to eradicate the causes of the evils from which we have suffered in the last 12 years. If the position was, as Deputy de Valera says, that we had no King, that we were a republic and that we were almost certainly outside the Commonwealth of Nations, why was there all the uneasiness around the place for months past when we announced that we were going to bring in this measure? Why were personal attacks made upon me by at least one person and one newspaper and by Deputy MacEntee if we were doing nothing except clarifying the position? Why was there the suggestion that something frightful was going to happen and that we were aliens when we went to England? Why, unfortunately, did young Irishmen, certainly acting illegally, but I suppose sincerely, go out to create an Irish republic in this country, and go to England to create disturbances over there? Why were there difficulties, shootings, hangings and executions here in the last seven or eight years, if not before, if there is not something to be quarrelled and disputed about?
Deputy de Valera has stated that, in his view, we had a head of the State— that the Government is the head of the State. Incidentally, he stated on various occasions during the last seven or eight years that the President was head of the State. To-day he says that the Government is the head of the State, and Deputy MacEntee comes forward and purports to establish the proposition that this State was internationally recognised, and that the President is the head of the State, but between them it is. I do not know whether the President was head of the State or not, or whether the Government, as Deputy de Valera says, is the head of the State or not, but I do know whether the President was head of the this that at least there could be very great controversy on the matter. I am not going to go into that. All that I am saying is that there was, and could be, the greatest possible controversy on that. The incontrovertible fact is this, that since the enactment  of the Constitution in 1937 the President did not carry out one single function of an international nature, and he could not by reason of the External Relations Act of 1936. That fact is incontrovertible. In addition to that, he could not do it by the External Relations Act.
The Taoiseach: I am coming to that. He could not do it by reason of the existence of the External Relations Act of 1936. That is incontrovertible, and I think that even Deputy de Valera will agree with me there.
The Taoiseach: Very well. I will argue that before anybody, although I am not trying to argue it by coming down on one side or the other. I am merely stating that there are difficulties for which extensive arguments, the most prolix arguments there could possibly be, could be put forward on both sides. The fact is that since 1936 the King of England has been used—I employ words which I take from Deputy de Valera—as the statutory agent of this State. Now, what would outside people think of that arrangement? Deputy MacEntee tried to establish the proposition from two or three examples that he gave that the President was internationally recognised as the head of the State. Really, one of the examples that he gave was a most amusing one. He gave the example that the President of this State—the President of Ireland—sent a telegram to his Majesty on the birth of his grandson a few weeks ago. That was done precisely because we were bringing in this Bill, and it could not, and would not have been done before.
The Taoiseach: That is the point, and that is the principal reason why it could be done and would not have been done if the Bill had not been brought in. I mention that to demonstrate the ridiculous arguments put forward by Deputy MacEntee.
Now let me, for the information of  Deputies, read some of these letters— I will not read the whole of them—by which foreign States accredit their representatives to us in order to demolish further the argument of Deputy MacEntee that we were internationally recognised by those people. There is no doubt that the question of a country's status in international affairs under international law in the comity of nations, depends not on the State or on any individual in it, but on the recognition it gets from the various members in the comity of nations. When the President of the United States of America was accrediting a representative to us he used, of course, a statutory agent. The name of the President is given at the top of the letter in which he is described as “the President of the United States of America”. The letter is addressed to “His Majesty, George VI of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Emperor of India, etc.” It says:—
There is the document by which the United States of America accredited its representative to this country. Can anybody suggest for one single moment that the United States was accrediting a representative through the ordinary diplomatic agencies and the ordinary diplomatic practice between one head of State and another when you have there “the President of the United States of America to the King of England.” or that by that document  there was the slightest recognition of this as an independent Irish Republic?
When we sent our representative to Washington it was the King who did it. In sending our representative to Washington, the King addressed the President of the United States as “Our Good Friend” and then proceeded to say:
“The Government of Ireland, being desirous of maintaining the bonds of friendship between Ireland and the United States of America, have advised Us that they judge it expedient that (here the name of the individual is given) be accredited to You in the character of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Ireland.... We therefore request on behalf of the Government of Ireland, that You will give entire credence to all that (the individual is again named) shall communicate to You in their name.... We take this opportunity of renewing to You the assurance of Our esteem and regard and We commend You to the protection of the Almighty.
In the same way, Deputy MacEntee stated that His Holiness the Pope had addressed a communication to the President of Ireland. When we were sending an ambassador to the Holy See, it was the King of England who addressed His Holiness the Pope. The document was in Irish and I shall now read a translation of it:—
Being desirous of maintaining the relations of friendship which have existed since the fifth century between Ireland and the Holy See, the Government of Ireland have advised me that they have judged it expedient that.... be accredited to Your Holiness in the character of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ireland.
I, therefore, request, on behalf of the Government of Ireland, that Your Holiness will give entire credence to all that.... shall communicate to Your Holiness in their  name and I take this opportunity of renewing to Your Holiness the assurance of my sincere friendship and of the unfeigned respect and esteem which I entertain for Your Holiness' person and character.
I want to direct the attention of Deputies, particularly those who have any qualifications, aspirations or beliefs that they are constitutional lawyers, lay or otherwise, to the fact that this document discloses that the Government advised His Majesty the King to appoint the ambassador. That is the very thing that is appropriate under British constitutional law and theory. The King is advised to appoint them— is advised under this law we have here, the External Relations Act—precisely the same as he would have been advised if the External Relations Act had not passed and the original Constitution of 1922 had been in operation. That is the position now in fact and in practice. For anybody to assert, as has been asserted here, that this country was internationally recognised as an independent republic is to say something which I think any sensible person cannot accept. At all events I can say, and I do not want to go any further than this, that that is a point that can be argued. Deputy de Valera can argue till the cows come home—and I do not think the cows would ever come home by the time we would have finished this argument that he is right. All I will say is that somebody at some time may hold that he is right. There are equally cogent arguments that can be put forward, very cogently and very shortly, contrary to the views he put forward. The net result is that we have been faced with a condition of affairs where there has been, again I repeat, arid, barren and futile controversy over this thing, bedevilling the whole situation and bringing about a grave situation. I stated here when I was introducing this Bill that as a result  of that controversy there had been a situation where the guns were out; where the law was in operation against those who had the guns—and those who had the guns stated that they were trying to bring about the establishment of an Irish republic—and those who had to enforce the law formed the Government of this country enforcing, what they were bound to do, the law as it stood at that time.
I am not interested in these high-falutin theories of constitutional law whether they emerge from the brains of lay constitutional lawyers or whether they emerge from the ingenuity of expert constitutional lawyers. I am not interested in the least. As I said when I was introducing this measure, the reason which impelled me and all my colleagues to take this step we are taking now was not primarily these arid, futile and barren controversies. We saw that we had not merely a chance, but a certainty, of getting the guns out of Irish politics and of establishing clearly and beyond all controversy the status of this State. That is why we brought in this Bill. That is what we hoped for.
Mr. de Valera: We all do.
The Taoiseach: Every person in this Assembly has spoken in favour of the Bill. Those on the opposite benches, the only Party in opposition to this Government, have made speeches which are almost impossible to understand. The speeches of Deputy Aiken certainly were a disgrace to this Assembly.
Mr. de Valera: In what respect?
The Taoiseach: They had something which I believe will impede the object which we and all the Parties supporting the Government have, that this measure will put an end to the bitterness between Irishmen and an end to this frightful controversy that has been going on here for the last 26 years.
I want to make one other observation before I deal with the main purpose as I have stated it in bringing in this Bill. Every single one of those people on the benches opposite who have, one after the other got up and said that they were supporting this measure—I think with the exception  of Deputy de Valera—made speeches which, if they had meant anything, meant that they ought to be going to the Division Lobbies against this Bill. They may possibly explain that to the people or else they may explain and posterity may form its own judgment upon their action in reference to this measure. I do not understand it. It is neither honest nor decent. Whether it is honest or whether it is decent it is quite clearly contrary to the best interests of the Irish nation. The general chorus that was put up here by those people who were speaking for the Bill but who were making speeches against the measure was that really this thing was doing nothing at all; it was merely giving effect, statutory recognition if you like, to something which was already in existence. The whole case that was made by these people was that really there is no genuine change effected by this Bill at all. I want to make it clear that the distinction which exists and which is fundamental to the whole consideration is that if the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, is one thing it is a statute of this Parliament.
The Constitution of 1937 is an entirely different affair. If Deputies want to get from me a confession of faith on this Constitution I will give it to them. I gave it to them down in University College, Cork, shortly after this Constitution was enacted. There are certain parts of this Constitution to which I am opposed. There are certain parts I still do not like and that I should like to see changed but I will assert here—if it gives any pleasure to any people on the other side, if it gives them any ammunition to throw against me here afterwards, they are entitled to have it—that this is the Constitution of Ireland and it is accepted by us as such. Now, is that categorical enough? I said in University College, Cork, before this Constitution was ratified by the people, that once it passed through this Dáil I accepted it as a fundamental law of the State. I objected to the machinery by which it was put through. That is past history. I have accepted this Constitution, so far as it matters to anybody what I do, as the Constitution of this State for the  past 12 years. I can criticise certain aspects of it. There are even certain arguments of a very dangerous character which might be advanced against it. But I have never mentioned those in connection with this Constitution. There are certain arguments, which I have never mentioned, in connection with this Constitution which might possibly throw doubt upon its validity. But I have never mentioned them. I have accepted it. I accept it as the Constitution and as the fundamental law of the country in the first place. I accept it and I have always accepted it as a republican Constitution.
Is there any ambiguity about both or either of those statements? If there is I will clear it up. That is the fundamental law of this State and that is a republican Constitution. But when you have superimposed upon a republican Constitution a statute of the type of the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, which provides in accordance with an Article in the Constitution itself that the machinery of a monarchy can be used in reference to international affairs, then my view is that that State which has that particular machinery there, so long as it has that machinery, is not really a republican State. I am not going to arguethat. A number of people hold that view. Deputy de Valera holds a different view. The people who went out with guns and who went over to Coventry and other places were not satisfied; and until this Act is gone they would not be satisfied.
Mr. Traynor: They were looking for a 32-county republic.
The Taoiseach: If Deputy Traynor would keep quite I could deal with the matter.
Mr. Traynor: Ask Deputy Fitzpatrick.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Are not you looking for it?
An Ceann Comhairle: Order, please.
The Taoiseach: Whatever these people were looking for, whether it was a 26-county republic or a 32-county republic, they were looking first of all for a republic and, secondly, they were not satisfied that, even in respect of  the Twenty-Six Counties, they had a republic.
Now, these people are satisfied with this Bill. Their spokesmen here in the Dáil have stated that. They have said that not merely are they satisfied, but they have stated that they are satisfied that it is a cause for joy and should be a source of jubilation to the Irish people. That in my view is something to have achieved. That is something of which we are proud. That is the reason why this Bill was brought in. It was not primarily brought in to try to stem the tide of senseless controversy about our constitutional status. I emphasised at the Second Reading—and I shall do it here again to-night and do it so long as I am called upon to speak on this subject—that, in my view, the reasons governing the clearing up of our constitutional difficulties are only subsidiary in relation to the view that I take of this measure and in regard to the forces that compelled me and my colleagues to bring in this Bill. We brought in this Bill not primarily to end all this controversial talk and constitutional discussions. What we are doing here will have the incidental effect of doing that. But what we really wanted to achieve was to put an end to the bitterness and to bring about unity in this part of the country.
I ask Deputies on the opposite side of the House, notwithstanding all that has been said here to-day, to accept the position that I am putting now. They are entitled, if they wish, to put their point of view on record. Now that they have had an opportunity of stating their point of view, they ought at least to take a proper view in the interests of all sections of our people and particularly in the interests of our young people.
The members of the Clann na Poblachta Party have given their point of view on this measure. Deputy Timoney very clearly and specifically stated his point of view to-day. Deputy Timoney very clearly and specifically Dockrell made a speech which was at once both courageous and statesmanlike. Is it too much to ask the one Party here which has apparently still retained the bitterness of the past 25 years to forget the past now once this  Bill goes through, as apparently it is going through with the honest approval of every Deputy in the House? Is it too much to ask for that?
I do not know what political kudos or what political capital I can get out of this measure. Deputy MacEntee has been utilising one organ of the Press, with the assistance of one particular individual, to throw mud at me and to make personal attacks upon me. I do not care two thraneens about any of these things from my own personal point of view. I do not care what my political future is going to be. It would be hypocritical of me to pretend that, because of these attacks made in an endeavour to take away some of the people who are alleged to have voted for me in the years gone by, I am going to stand here as an altruist and say that I am going to bring in this Bill notwithstanding the fact that it will ruin my political career. For every one of those votes that will go from me I will gain 100 from the decent people of the country.
I want to put on record here to-day in the last speech that I am going to make in this House on this Bill and in the last speech that I hope will be made on this very controversial topic that, if I achieve nothing further in the course of my political career other than to have behind me, as Taoiseach and as head of the Government of the Irish nation, the men forming an inter-Party Government and particularly Clann na Poblachta, led by Deputy Con Lehane, I am proud that I have achieved that position and that the task has fallen into my hands of recommending this measure as an instrument which will heal the wounds that have been inflicted on the Irish nation in the last ten years and be the means of ending all our bitternesses.
That is the main purpose of this Bill. I ask now for the co-operation of the Deputies on the opposite benches. My colleague, Mr. MacBride, asked for the same. I ask it in the interests of ending bitterness. I ask that all Parties will support this measure. I ask that when they go to the country they will forget what has been said here and so put an end to all these barren controversies. I want to have the position  here where we can create our own institutions, institutions which will command the allegiance, the affection and the love of all our young people now growing up and in the generations to come and who know nothing of the bitterness of the past 25 years. I suppose everybody who has anything to do with political Parties knows how difficult it has been in the past to get the young people to interest themselves in politics.
It is a source of great pride to me that the political Party to which I belong has succeeded in attracting a number of young people into its political camp. You will never get the young people to take a proper interest in Irish life or Irish politics unless there are institutions around which they can rally. This Bill will give those institutions. This Bill will give them a State which will, I assure Deputy Aiken, command the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. That is something which is worth while working for; it is even worth while throwing away one's political career and submitting for a time to personal attacks from certain in dividuals.
If the Opposition Party persists in the poisonous attitude, typified by the speeches and the continuous and constant interruptions by Deputy Aiken here in the past two days, then there will still be that uneasiness in our young people. There will still be that feeling that they have no institutions about which they can cheer in the same way as young America cheers its institutions and its State. When this Constitution was passed 12 years ago Deputy de Valera in a tour throughout the country asked everybody to read it, to study it and to learn it by heart. I venture to assert that that appeal fell on completely deaf ears. I want now the co-operation of every section of the community and of every political Party. What I want is the co-operation of every section of the community, every Party, so that that Constitution of which he is the author, if you like, or the sponsor, will be revered by our young people and that it will be the Constitution of a State in which  they can have pride and around which they can rally without the poisonous bitternesses infused into this debate by Deputy Aiken and his colleagues.
Question put and agreed to.
|Last Updated: 18/05/2011 11:58:27||Page of 25|