Committee on Finance. - Vote 56—Defence (Resumed).

Friday, 29 May 1953

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 139 No. 3

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Debate resumed on the motion:—

That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.—(Seán MacEoin.)

[344]Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Before I moved to report progress last night I was advocating an improvement in the F.C.A. uniform. I understand that there are objections to the type of headgear at present in use, and I think that the ordinary Army type of headgear should be given to the F.C.A.

In connection with our Navy, I would urge that more attention be given to fishery protection by units of the Navy. It is a cause of complaint all along the north-east and south coast of Ireland that foreign trawlers are causing serious damage to our fishing and the fishing beds along the coast. Those foreign trawlers which engage in poaching should be apprehended by vessels from our Navy and more vessels should be put on that job.

Many of the young men who came out of the Army at the end of the emergency period were put into employment in private firms and in different branches of the Civil Service. I still find, however, that throughout the country very many of these men have not been placed in employment. These young men held various ranks in the Army from private to captain and they are still unemployed.

Apart from the first enthusiasm after demobilisation and apart from the first enthusiasm amongst employers and on the part of the State, I think that the ideals of that time have been forgotten. Anyhow, there must have been some laxity when we find that to-day men who are capable, who are young enough and who are willing to work—some of whom held responsible rank in the Army—are still without employment.

A serious matter concerning my own county is that it is practically denuded of members of the Army. During the past year, Fort Dunree has been practically closed down. At the moment there is only about a dozen soldiers there and I think that represents the complete total of the Army strength in County Donegal. That is a mistake. It is a Border county, the most northerly county in Ireland, and very strong units of our Army should be placed there. I will go further and say that strong units should be placed in every [345] county which borders the Six Counties. It gives a feeling of nationality and a feeling of pride to our people to find Irish soldiers in towns along the Border. We should consider seriously placing strong units in the Border counties; it will have a good effect on those who live there and will show the Nationalists in the Six Counties that we are preparing, that we are capable of defending our country, that we are not neglecting those people who, at the moment, are up against it in the Six Counties.

We should remember that an Army serves two purposes—one is defence and the other is attack. We should remember that an enemy coming into a country should be attacked, but we should also keep in our minds—and I am afraid very few of us have in our minds—the fact that part of our country is still occupied by the enemy. We seem to think that the right attitude at the moment is conciliation, friendship and so on. Knowing and having experience of how the ruling clique in Belfast works and their attitude as stated publicly and as put into practice, I have very little time at all for the new theory that this hard core, this ruling clique, will be persuaded to co-operate peacefully with the rest of the country. I suppose it is worth trying, but my mind is clear on the matter.

There is one point I specially stressed in the few minutes at my disposal last night, the different attitudes that have been taken during the Budget debate—that our armed forces should be reduced, that was the attitude taken by the Labour Party; the statement made by one of the Fine Gael speakers that money made available for defence equipment should be allocated to another purpose, like increasing the Civil Service pay; and a further statement made by a Fine Gael speaker that tinkers should be drafted compulsorily into our Army. These things will not help to build up an Army of the size and type we require and that I thought all Parties were agreed upon.

We should have an Army which would be reasonably effective in numbers, which would be very well trained [346] and very well equipped. That is the feeling that every man and woman in the country has. That is the feeling I thought all political Parties in the House had, but I was sadly disillusioned by the statements made, not on the Defence Estimate but on other occasions in this House.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  I was very surprised to hear from the last speaker the veiled suggestion that we may forget about the abolition of Partition by negotiation or agreement and that we should take the attitude that the only possibility of having Partition removed is by strengthening our Army and building up our forces here. It is generally agreed in this House that progress has been made on either side of the Border by peaceful methods and that when we strive at a common aim, the building up of this country as a unit, there will be general agreement achieved on either side.

The last speaker also said that there is a difference regarding the question of defence. There is no difference amongst any Parties here on that—the difference is on organisation and methods, and we differ very much from the Fianna Fáil Party in that respect. One remarkable fact that came from the Minister's statement introducing this Estimate was that 1,400 First Line Reserve men emigrated during the last 12 months. That is a clear indication of the conditions existing in all sections of the community and shows that emigration is not confined to outside sections of the community. It is an indication also of the damage that has been done to our economy by the present Government. Deputy Major de Valera will not dispute with me that a deliberate policy was embarked upon by his Government in relation to our economy, in relation to our credit, in relation to the cost of living and in relation to defence. We in the inter-Party Government carried on a vigorous campaign of recruitment and propaganda, but conditions were so good during the inter-Party régime that we were unable to get thousands of young men flocking into the Army as we have at present. We had a compact Army of something like 7,500. The figures show that we had a very [347] big proportion of professional Army men of the officer type who would be able, in the event of an emergency, to gather a huge army around them and have them effectively trained. We were satisfied that it was better to have a highly trained Army with modern equipment in relation to our resources and containing a high proportion of professional men, so that, in the event of an emergency, it could be expanded in a proper way.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Traynor): Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Will the Deputy tell me what amount of modern equipment was purchased during that period?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  I should have to put down a question to get that information——

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Why not do that?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  ——because the Minister did not give it to us. I am sure he is in a position to give it.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I presume that, when a Deputy makes a statement of that kind, he can back it up with evidence.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  We remember that a few years ago Deputy Major de Valera and others, when the Korean war flared up, exposed here very vital information concerning Army equipment, the type of equipment and ammunition which the inter-Party Government proposed to provide for the Army at that time. It was undesirable. Therefore there must have been equipment and ammunition coming into the country when Fianna Fáil Deputies were demanding information in the public forum about what should be regarded as a confidential matter at a critical time like that.

We have had the statement from the Minister that the force is at present 130 officers below strength. That is because the Army has been increased by 5,000 since the change of Government. Let us inquire where these 5,000 men would be working if they had not joined the Army. Let us remember that during the inter-Party Government régime our able-bodied young men were working in the fields and factories, and it was necessary for us [348] to carry on a vigorous campaign of advertising and propaganda, offering every inducement we could offer, including improved Army conditions, in order to get men to volunteer for the Army and leave the remunerative employment they were in.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  24,000 people leaving the country each year.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  It is 2,000 a week at the moment, 100,000 a year—a very big difference. The Minister can go down to Rosslare or to Westland Row any night and see the boat loads of people leaving the country.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  Why not the North Wall?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  And the North Wall. When he sees these fine young people leaving from these places, he will realise the damage done to this country by his Government.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  By the Army.

Mr. Colley: Information on Harry Colley  Zoom on Harry Colley  What about the 50,000 who went away under the Coalition?

Major de Valera:  Are we having a debate on unemployment or defence?

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  A free-for-all.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  We have a position now in which we have an Army which must be regarded as unwieldy in relation to the size of the country, our population and our resources. If these were all professionals, it would be a different matter, but the majority of them are ordinary men who could be trained at any time quite rapidly.

It was suggested earlier that young men should be given compulsory training and I think that is agreed on all sides. It would be a better approach to this problem of Army training to have an arrangement whereby young men would undergo a period of compulsory training before going into their various spheres in life.

Major de Valera:  Is that Fine Gael policy?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  It is my policy for the moment and statements have been made in relation to this matter on previous occasions. We consider that [349] that is the time to train the young men——

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  We? Who are we?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy Rooney must be allowed to make his statement without interruption.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  Could the Minister not have addressed that question to Deputy Cunningham a moment ago and find out what his policy was?

Major de Valera:  The Deputy has made a definite statement. We want to know where he stands. Nobody can know what the policy of the Party opposite is because they change every minute.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  The people knew what our policy was. We did not find then 1,400 men of the First Line Reserve emigrating in the space of 12 months. That is what has happened during the past 12 months. I know that Deputy de Valera has studied Army administration intensively. That is something I have not done, but I am entitled to give expression to my views in relation to the Army, our defence and our general economy and that is what I am attempting to do.

We see very large numbers of youthful recruits at the moment and I hold that a system should be adopted whereby training would be given to all youths and not merely to those who join the Army. The vast majority of them have not much chance of hitting the high spots in the Army and I think a system should be adopted of selecting the apt personnel amongst them and pointing out to them that it would be desirable for them to make a career of the Army, instead of the system at present being followed. I feel that too much stress is being laid on the danger of an emergency and the matter of defence. We know well that during the last war, if the British or Americans decided to violate our neutrality, we could have put up a defence against it for only a very short time— probably a shorter time than the period for which the people in the Netherlands defended themselves against the Germans. That is why we [350] should not build up our defence from the point of view of keeping out a huge flood like a flood of men, either from the British or the Americans.

It is quite right that we should have an army here which can put up a defence, but let us appreciate once and for all that, no matter how large an army we could get up here and maintain, we would not succeed in keeping the British or the American army out if they wanted to invade this country. The first man to admit that was the present Taoiseach. When he was asked in this House who, in his opinion, was responsible for the neutrality of this country his reply was that the persons who were responsible for our neutrality were Messrs. Churchill and Roosevelt. That statement was made in the House and I think it is a statement that would be agreed with by the majority of people.

Mr. Cogan: Information on Patrick Cogan  Zoom on Patrick Cogan  When was that statement made, or could the Deputy give the reference?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  I would advise Deputy Cogan to read the debates if he is interested.

Mr. Cogan: Information on Patrick Cogan  Zoom on Patrick Cogan  Would it be 1922 to 1953?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Roosevelt was not there that time.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Surely the quotation ought to be given for a statement of that kind. It is usual to give the reference.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy has not made a quotation. He has given what purports to be the subtance of a statement.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  He has given what purports to be a distortion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I cannot say. If he purports to give the substance, it is not a quotation.

Major de Valera:  Is it true that such a statement was made?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Yes.

Major de Valera:  In this House?

[351]Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Yes, and it was repeated.

Major de Valera:  What authority has the Deputy that that statement was made in the way he said? The Deputy said that the then Taoiseach said that. Is that the fact? If it is not the fact, the Deputy has been guilty of an untruth.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  This is not an untruth.

Major de Valera:  I am asking is it the fact?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  This is a fact.

Major de Valera:  There was a contradiction of something you said here about whiskey last night which is in the same category and there is a name for people who——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  If the Deputy says it is a fact, we must accept that statement unless it is controverted.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  As I say, I am only giving——

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  Arising out of that statement, it is a very far-reaching statement and no member of the House has any recollection of its being made by the Leader of the Government. The Deputy suggests that that statement was made by the Taoiseach. He should quote from the Taoiseach's statement to that effect.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy is giving what, it seems to me, he alleges is the substance of a statement made by the Taoiseach. He does not purport to quote. He says that statement was made. We must accept that statement until it has been controverted.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  I have even gone further to say that it was an expression of the opinion that could be got from the man-in-the-street.

Major de Valera:  You said it was said here by the present Taoiseach.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  That is correct. We could have in this country a very great number of physically fit persons who [352] could be trained in military matters. They could be trained, as they are at the moment, through the F.C.A. or in the regular Army. All those men could be engaged in civilian life and in the event of an emergency they could be called into the Army provided that we had a good framework of professional military men who would be in a position to manage these men, who would be doing the ordinary work of a private soldier if it was necessary to bring them in.

In this Estimate, which is a very important one, it is proposed this year to use a total sum of £1,800,000 made up of taxation and a carry-over from last year. We are told by the Minister that that money will be expended during the present year on defensive equipment. I am putting the case, and I do not think the Minister can dispute it, that it would not be possible to spend that amount of money in the present year. It would not be possible, for instance, to get all that defensive equipment from the only sources from which it is available. For that reason it is quite clear that this is an overestimate. It is an overestimate in order to confuse the public mind in relation to our finances and our general economy.

We are, in fact, going to ask the Civil Service to finance part of this purchase of defensive equipment. So far as the award is concerned, would not it be fair to meet that obligation before embarking on this proposition to spend so much money on Army equipment that may be out of date in a couple of years? I agree that we should stake our claim for equipment and make sure that it will be available to us when we require it, but I consider that it is a mistake to purchase equipment of a nature that will be out of date after a few years.

The professional section of the Army are quite capable of training men in the use of arms, using a limited amount of equipment instead of what must be regarded as an unmanageable quantity of equipment if in fact it can be obtained during the present year.

I should like to see the Minister adopting a defence policy somewhat [353] related to the system operated by the Red Cross. The Red Cross is spread throughout the country in small parish or local groups. It is a great voluntary organisation. We could have little defence units of a voluntary nature in various parishes so that young men would be physically fit and capable of operating in the Army if the necessity arose.

I want to refer to the question of compensation for Army personnel in the aviation section, and their dependents. A couple of years ago an Army man was killed when flying an Army plane. He left a widow and children. It was the first occasion on which that occurred. Recently another tragic accident occurred which resulted in the loss of the life of a young officer. No arrangement is made for the payment of compensation to dependents of persons who lose their lives when flying Army planes. It must be agreed that the risk associated with flying these Army planes is greater than the risks associated with other sections of the Army. Target practice or other Army activities might be regarded as hazardous, but they are not as hazardous as the flying of these Army planes, with the possibility of a crash in the course of training. For that reason recognition should be given to that risk by the adoption of a scheme which would ensure that some measure of compensation would be made available for the dependents of officers who may lose their lives in operating these Army planes.

I regret to note from the Minister's statement that no arrangement has been made for an increase of pension for officers' widows who get £90 a year with a grant of £40. Everybody knows that the high cost of living renders this allowance almost worthless, yet no arrangement has been made to scale up these allowances in relation to the cost of living and to the decline in the purchasing power of the £ during the last 12 months. It is well known that the purchasing power of the £ has dropped by nearly 2/- during the last 12 months, yet nothing has been done to compensate people whose incomes have been reduced by the policy [354] deliberately embarked upon by the Government.

When the Minister is replying I hope he will indicate a new policy in relation to the Army. There is a feeling that the Army as at present organised is not suitable for a country like this with a small population, and we ought at this stage to consider the possibility of changing completely the type of Army which we have and the organisation within the Army. We know that we are not preparing to invade Russia or even to invade the North of Ireland. Therefore, we ought to organise the Army on a peace-time basis instead of an emergency basis. The number of persons in the Army at present cannot be regarded as a peace-time number.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  Who suggested that?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  I say it. First of all, I consider that there are not enough officers in relation to the number of personnel in the Army.

Major de Valera:  Not enough officers?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  The Minister said that. We were in a position where, proportionately speaking, we had a very high number of professional military men in the Army when we had approximately 7,500 men. We hope in the future to improve our economy to an extent which will enable us to have a wellequipped army of professional men ready at any time for the expansion of the Army if necessary. As to the remainder, we would prefer that they should be given an opportunity of earning their living and working for the country in the fields and factories instead of going into the Army when there is so much opportunity here for work either on the farms or in the factories. We consider that the first thing to do is to improve the economy of the country before extending the Army. I am satisfied that the officer personnel would be capable of dealing with an expanded Army if the necessity arose and that we should not at this stage be taking away young men from civilian life.

It has been suggested that these young men had the option of emigrating, [355] queueing up for the dole or going into the Army and, to their credit be it said, they have gone into the Army to be trained for the service of their country if the necessity arises. It is unfortunate that young men are being forced into the Army, because that is what it amounts to, by the economic conditions created in the country generally. It is lucky that these young men did decide to join the Army instead of emigrating with the other 100,000.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I want to raise a few matters which relate to administration more than to defence policy. I take it I may raise on this Estimate a matter relating to Army pensions?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Both Votes are being discussed together.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The first matter I wish to raise is the position of applicants for pensions under the Military Service Pensions Act. I understood that the previous practice was that where an applicant sought a pension he had a right to be called for oral hearing. So far as my recollection serves me, I think that in pension cases which came before the courts it was held that an applicant was entitled to put his case orally before the board and the Referee. Applicants have applied for pensions under the Army Pensions Act and have been informed that, as they have not established prima facie that they are persons to whom the Act applies, it was not proposed to call them for oral hearing. That is unfair and is against the spirit of the Act. It is also in contradiction of the decision of the courts when they gave judgment on their interpretation of the Military Service Pensions Act.

It is quite possible that an applicant may not be a man of great literary talent and that he may have formed his own views as to what information is necessary in order to establish prima facie that he has a claim for a pension. If he fails to do that, I think there is an obligation on the board to bring that man before them for the purpose of enabling the board to elucidate by question and answer the basis upon which his claim rests. I should [356] like if the Minister would say whether the practice now operating of notifying applicants that they will not be called for oral hearing because they have not established prima facie a strong case for a pension is a new practice and, if it is new, as I think it is, when this practice, which is now superseding what I understand was the previous practice of calling an applicant for oral hearing, was adopted.

Another matter to which I should like to make reference is that the Army authorities at the Curragh Camp advertise annually for supplies of turf, which I think is a praiseworthy action on their part, but they usually ask for turf to be supplied in very large quantities. The result is that the small producer who wants to co-operate with his sons or brothers or other relatives in the production of turf for the Army may find himself cut out from the possibility of ever being able to place his turf with the Army authorities because of the fact that he is not able to produce the quantity of turf which the Army authorities specify they require. I am quite sure the Minister is personally sympathetic with the idea of encouraging the small producer to get into a market such as this. I would like to have from the Minister an assurance that this matter will be reexamined with a view to enabling the relatively small turf producer to compete for placing of turf in response to Army invitations to tender which appear in the newspapers each year.

The third matter I want to raise is the question of accommodation for soldiers and soldiers' wives. I speak with particular knowledge of the situation of soldiers and soldiers' wives in the vicinity of the Curragh Camp and Kildare town. In the military barracks at the Curragh Camp and at Kildare there is a substantial number of Army personnel. Many of those who join the Army are billeted in the military barracks in these two towns and in the course of time they marry and endeavour to settle down locally. Because of the fact that these two barracks, holding as they do a substantial number of Army personnel, attract a goodly number of soldiers whose normal homes are outside the [357] county, the situation exists in Kildare and the Curragh Camp, has existed down through the years and, in fact, almost down through the ages, whereby these two places get a rather artificial population, because people are attracted to them from many other places due to the fact that they are two military centres, and they carry all the time a large number of Army personnel.

The result is that these two towns have always had an acute housing problem. Some efforts have been made to satisfy the housing requirements there and commendable progress has been made in that respect, but so long as the Army at the Curragh and Kildare attracts soldiers there by reason of their terms of service, there will always be a problem of providing housing accommodation for the young married soldiers. What is happening is that a young soldier is stationed at the Curragh Camp; he decides to marry a local girl. There is no chance of getting housing accommodation and he starts off married life living with his mother-in-law or father-in-law. One need not dwell on the risks and terrors associated with that experiment. The fact is, however, that they start off in that way, very often living in overcrowded conditions. If they try to get separate accommodation in the form of a room or a flat in any local house, they are put in the position that because of the housing shortage in those places they are asked to pay exorbitant rents, and the pay of the young married soldier does not enable him to defray the high rents which could be charged for partial accommodation in any house in either of these places.

So far as the young married soldier is concerned—I am taking the soldier just married or the soldier with one or two children—it is almost impossible for him to get a house locally because he will not qualify for a house under the housing regulations of the local authority. He is not able to procure accommodation for himself because his pay will not allow him to do it, with the result that he must put up with all the hardships which are inseparable from endeavouring to find accommodation [358] in places circumstanced from the housing point of view in the manner I have described.

That brings me to what I think is the remedy for a situation of this kind. The Army authorities ought to build more houses for soldiers and their wives both at the Curragh Camp and at Kildare town. There is no shortage of space in those places; there is no shortage of demand for housing accommodation by soldiers and their wives; there is no shortage of skilled operatives in both places. I frankly think that the Army authorities ought to face up to the responsibility of trying to encourage young soldiers to marry, at the same time making sure, by providing adequate housing accommodation for Army personnel, that their married lives are as pleasant as it is possible for the Army authorities to make them.

Under existing housing regulations made by the Department of Local Government these young soldiers have no chance whatever of getting a local authority house. If, in the course of time, the soldier was likely to be discharged from the Army and had a very large family, he might manage to get a local authority house, but where he is a young married soldier with no children or one or two children, he has not a snowball's chance in Hell of getting a house in those places. The Army authorities could, with credit to themselves and as a means of attracting persons into the Army, provide decent housing accommodation. I know from personal experience — and I have brought my experience in this matter to the notice of the Department of Defence—there is need for a considerable addition to the present inadequate married accommodation in the Curragh Camp and in Kildare town.

I would ask the Minister to look into that matter, firstly, because I think it is the duty of the Army authorities to try to provide housing accommodation for married soldiers and their wives and children; secondly, because it would be a good investment for the Department of Defence; and, thirdly, it would be a useful medium for attracting into the Army persons who know—I say I speak from personal [359] knowledge—that if they go into the Army there is practically no chance of getting either married quarters on the one hand, because the married quarters accommodation is inadequate, or local authority accommodation on the other hand. Money spent in relieving the present plight of the married soldier and his wife in the Curragh Camp and in Kildare would be money well spent and I would like if the Minister would indicate that he will have the matter examined.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  There are just a few matters on this Estimate about which I wish to speak. During the course of the discussion reference was made to the small numbers of F.C.A. men offering themselves for annual training. I am told that the period selected for annual training for these F.C.A. men is absolutely unsuitable for such people as farmers' sons and rural workers. I would like the Minister to give particular attention to this. The suggestion has been made to me by many of these men that the period during the harvest is most unsuitable and were they to leave their farms or leave their employment during that time they would not be required when they came back. They cannot possibly offer themselves for annual training at the period selected and it is said that if the period was early December or the last two weeks of May a much larger number of F.C.A. men would offer themselves for service.

Generally speaking with regard to the F.C.A., I have felt for quite a long time that there is not sufficient interest taken in it by the Minister's Department or by the senior officers of the Army. It is a kind of cinderella and I feel that much more interest might be taken in that all-important branch of the Army, and more attention paid to it. I would suggest that the Minister should send out on his own behalf a small fact-finding mission to meet the present personnel and to find out what they think would increase the numbers and improve the general set-up of that volunteer section of the Army. I believe that many of those in the F.C.A. at the present time are over [360] age and should be retired. It is a young man's force and men should not be kept in it for a longer period than three years.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  There is a retiring age at which they must go and they leave at that age. It is not correct to say that they are kept on indefinitely.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  I believe that after a period of three years' service all the members of that force should be gradually retired so that there would be continuous retirement. If some system of that kind were adopted and the volunteer movement were stepped up amongst other sections of the community, it would add to the prestige of the force and be to the advantage of the country generally. I think no man should be kept in the force for a longer period than three years. After members of the force have done three periods of annual training they should be retired and new members recruited. You would have an ideal situation if you had the majority of the young men in the country between the ages of 18 and 21 joining the F.C.A. and coming forward for a period of annual training. In that way you would step up the numbers by many times in a few years.

An effort should be made to inculcate a better volunteer spirit amongst the young men of the country in regard to service in the armed forces. It is felt that over the period of the last 30 years, from the time when we had the volunteer force who won the independence of the country, too small a section of the population gave any service in the Army. The personnel of our volunteers was drawn all the time from too limited a section of the community. There were very large sections of our young men who never gave any service or offered to give any volunteer service in the Defence Forces of the State. It has been said that we should have compulsory training for our young men for a short period. Possibly there is a lot to be said for that point of view but it would be much better, I think, if we could get young men who are physically fit to come forward between the ages of 18 and 21 for a limited period of training. [361] We then would have a much better F.C.A. and a much better community spirit generally in regard to the defence of the country.

I absolutely disagree with the viewpoint of Deputy Rooney that the Army does not exist to defend the country, that it merely exists to surrender at the very first opportunity if there was any danger. That is Deputy Rooney's viewpoint but I hope it is not the viewpoint of the Opposition generally. I never heard the view put forward here before that the Defence Forces of this country are being maintained for that purpose and that purpose only. In other days to make such a suggestion would be considered high treason. The people of this country and the Army are quite capable of defending themselves, given an adequate opportunity, against any invader. That slave mentality of Deputy Rooney is, I am glad to say, very limited.

Dr. Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  I did not hear him say that.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  I was listening to Deputy Rooney and the Deputy was not, I think, in the House all the time while Deputy Rooney was speaking. With regard to military service pensions and the administration of the 1924 and the 1934 Acts, I want to suggest that a bigger effort should be made to step up the examination of outstanding cases. I think it is agreed on all sides that the matter has dragged on too long and if anything could be done to step up the organisation and to have outstanding cases attended to, it would be welcomed. There is no reason why it should drag on for so many years and it should be brought to an end within a limited time provided an adequate examination of all outstanding cases is afforded. It is a pity that it is not possible to increase or even double the personnel if there is any advantage in having decisions made quickly in cases outstanding. I would suggest to the Minister in all seriousness that a second board or a second referee should be appointed. There are many thousands of cases I believe still outstanding and there is no indication, from the rate at which [362] decisions are being made, when these cases will be finally dealt with.

I hope the Minister will give some consideration to the desirability of introducing a drive to secure more recruits for the F.C.A. I believe that if the drive were made by the heads of the Army all over the country and if the conditions were made better, more young men would join the F.C.A. I believe that the members of the force are paid only if they attend annual training and that if they attend all the parades but do not attend the annual training no payment is made. I think that if they were called to annual training at a time when they were not required for farm work or when they could be spared from their usual occupations, many more would attend annual training. I hope an effort will be made in that direction because it is the most important unit of our Defence Forces and it should be made more attractive for our young men.

With regard to the question of the strength of the permanent Army and the objection taken to the present number in the Army I do not believe anyone on any side of the House is capable of deciding the numbers necessary to form an adequate Defence Force for this country. We have skilled personnel in the technicians at the head of the Army and the aim of the Minister is to provide an adequate force after the advice of these skilled technicians has been tendered to him. When engineers or technicians are employed on a building job, their advice is usually accepted without question, and I believe the technicians at the head of the Army are in the best position to make a decision on this matter.

I think it is time that members of this House, no matter to what Party they belong, relinquished the idea that they, as civilians, are in a better position than the trained personnel to decide whether the strength of the Army should be 7,000, 8,000 or 10,000 as the case may be. We can have no special knowledge of such matters and we should leave the matter in the hands of the men who are trained and capable of coming to a decision on these matters. The defence of this country has been always a most important [363] matter and the question of deciding the numbers necessary to defend the country in any given period should be left in the hands of the trained technicians and in their hands only.

Dr. Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  In the debate last week some Deputies referred to the fact that when a serving soldier or a serving member of the forces contracts, say, tuberculosis, he is discharged from that service and on his medical certificate is written: “Medically Unfit” and that that militates against him in his efforts to secure further employment. It was suggested, in other words, that a certain amount of hardship was caused. It is a well-known fact that a person can contract tuberculosis, can be completely cured and in a position to take up any form of employment; naturally such a person could not be re-employed in the fighting forces because the fighting forces would cause hardship to such a person and the question of his being reinfected, or the disease breaking down, would inevitably arise.

I think it would be quite reasonable to have a medical certificate endorsed in some other way rather than “medically unfit” because medically unfit definitely prohibits a person from procuring employment whereas there is employment that such a person would have sufficient strength to take up. Instead of having a certificate marked medically unfit I suggest it should be marked simply “militarily unfit.” That would cover the case.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  That might be much more serious.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I think that would be worse.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  It would be more serious than medically unfit.

Dr. Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Medically unfit means that a man has some active ailment. Militarily unfit means that he is not up to the standard of modern warfare. I think everybody will agree that modern warfare taxes the system to the utmost.

[364]Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I agree we might get a better phrase, but I could not accept the one the Deputy suggests.

Dr. Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  If the Deputy can find a better phrase I will accept it. I am speaking as a doctor. If I saw on a certificate that an individual was militarily unfit I would ask that individual why he was unfit; if I was told he had contracted tuberculosis and I was satisfied he was perfectly restored to normal I would be prepared to pass such a man for any occupation in civil life. It is a matter of opinion. I merely mention it. I agree it is a very difficult question.

The aim of the Government is to have an Army of 12,500 and to spend a sum of £1,800,000 on procuring equipment for that Army. The organisation of our Defence Forces is extremely difficult because the country is dismembered. Any other country organising its defences is in the happy position of having complete control of all its territories and all its harbours. We unfortunately are denied that control and that makes the position extremely difficult for the Minister.

Apart from that our territory is in a sense a difficult territory to defend. I am not a military expert but I think an Army of 12,500 as our main line of defence would find itself in a very difficult position as an overall method of defence against invasion. We may be faced with amphibious operations. I would like to have a statement from the Minister as to the type of equipment it is intended to procure in so far as it is possible for him to give that information without divulging military secrets.

Every Deputy must accept that it is our first duty to defend our country and we want to be satisfied that this force of 12,500 will function in the most effective and efficient way. We will want a very mobile force. If we are invaded the enemy will not warn us beforehand that it is coming in. We might be invaded by air. We might be invaded by sea. For that reason our Defence Forces would want to be very mobile. Can we be satisfied that an Army of 12,500, even if it is a very [365] mobile force, will be sufficient to defend our country?

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  It was never intended that it should be. It is merely the cadre upon which an emergency Army will be built.

Dr. Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  I understand that. Every country will provide whatever defences it can within the limits of its resources. Our difficulty is that we cannot cater for the entire country. There are limitations to our resources. We are not a very big or powerful nation. I take it that 12,500 embraces the Air Corps as well. The Minister wants £1,800,000 to buy equipment. I take it that sum covers equipment for the Air Corps as well. I would like the Minister to give us some idea of the strength of the Air Corps. Is the equipment up to date? Are our planes equipped with radar? What is the strength? Perhaps the Minister can give us that information without divulging information which it would be inadvisable to divulge.

The air will play a very important part in the defence of our country. Some Deputies think an Army of 12,500 is not sufficient. Others think a smaller Army should do. I have read the Minister's statement. It is not clear from the statement as to what equipment he proposes to spend this £1.8 million on, as to how the forces will be disposed, as to whether they will be infantry or cavalry, as to whether or not they will be highly mobile. I would like the Minister to clarify the position for us. I think it would be to our advantage to have a smaller personnel, highly equipped. I think our land forces should be trained in commando and guerilla warfare. We have a proud tradition in that respect. It was guerilla warfare that drove out the alien forces in the past and, in the future, I think we should concentrate on that type of defence.

I would like the Minister to tell us when replying whether this sum will be expended on up-to-date modern equipment for the training of our troops in the use of modern methods of warfare. If we are attacked it will be easy enough to procure equipment because [366] it will be in the interests of other nations more powerful than we are to provide us with equipment. There is a certain risk in buying equipment at the moment inasmuch as we may find ourselves landed with the leavings of other countries. We know that equipment that is up-to-date to-day can easily be out-of-date to-morrow.

I regard our naval service as a very important unit. As an island we have a long maritime tradition. Through no fault of our own most of that tradition has been built up on service given to other countries. The greatest and the most powerful navy in the world to-day is the United States Navy which was founded by an Irishman. Our own naval service consists of three corvettes and some smaller vessels. One of the main purposes of the navy is harbour defence from a military point of view.

Another purpose is to be able to engage in swift action. Nowadays any ship that cannot travel at more than 25 knots is not much use in naval warfare. I am under the impression that our corvettes, using every available man on board and all the fuel they have, can only steam all out at 17 knots. Naval action is somewhat different from other methods of warfare. Very often it is diplomatic and necessary for a naval force to get out of action or to disengage action for the purpose of defending harbours. I do not see how the corvettes can be of any use for harbour defence. They have not the speed to manoeuvre or to disengage, if it comes to that, in order to draw the enemy away. In addition, they are an obsolete type of craft. Very few navies use corvettes now. There are very few harbours they can get into because they draw too much.

I think it would be advisable for the Minister to try to dispose of the corvettes and get in their place something more suitable for this country. I know that naval units cost a lot of money and that it takes time to build a navy but I do not think that the corvettes serve any function at the moment. Their only function in warfare to-day would be to engage in slow convoy work but the most modern [367] merchant ships travel above the maximum speed of which our corvettes are capable. The corvettes are quite useful for the training of sea personnel.

A stronger type of craft, more of the tug variety which draws less and which will be able to get into all our different harbours, manoeuvre and move faster than our corvettes, would be a more suitable type of vessel. I think we should be able to acquire one modern fighting unit, such as a modern destroyer, as the basis upon which we could build our Navy. We could build from that later on. The Navy, too, is responsible for the protection of our fisheries. In my opinion the corvettes serve no useful purpose in that connection. The officers and personnel carry out their work in a most efficient way and they do the best they can. It is quite obvious—and everybody knows—where the corvettes may be as they can be seen many miles away. If we want to protect our fishery fleet, we will require some sort of ship which will not be seen miles and miles away. On a clear day the corvettes could be seen 20 to 25 miles away at least and possibly more.

It is quite obvious that the foreign marauding trawlers can come in with impunity. Around the coast of Wexford they get away before a corvette can get near them. What we require is a faster type of craft, one which will be able to stand the hard weather experienced around our coasts and one which will be able to shoot out from a harbour. Such a craft would keep these foreign trawlers out of our waters. We, who represent maritime constituencies, receive continuous complaints about poaching by trawlers. At question time recently it was Deputy Dillon, I think, who suggested that the Air Corps could be used for the purpose of spotting these trawlers and communicating that information to our naval vessels. I think that is an excellent idea. I think the Minister agreed to consider that and I hope he has done something in the matter.

There is one other problem with which I should like to deal and that is in reference to the dependents of the [368] fighting forces. I think all Deputies on every side of the House are agreed that this State is not playing its part and is not doing its duty by the dependents of those who lost their lives, through accident or otherwise, in the service of the country. We recently had another tragedy off our coast. I think the Minister should draft some definite regulation whereby the widows and dependents of those who serve our country are fully protected in the event of a disaster, as is the case in every civilised country to-day.

With regard to military pensions— I understand we can mention them on this debate—I feel, like every other Deputy, that there is endless delay about these. We are all written to about these I.R.A. pensions and so forth. Eventually some of the applicants are called for interview but some of them are never called at all. The people are continually writing about them. I admit that the Minister is very courteous and always sends a reply saying that the matter will be looked into but nothing happens. I have several such cases in my constituency which have been outstanding since I was elected and the position in relation to them is just the same to-day as the day I first made representations. I would ask the Minister to speed up the machinery in that respect and ensure that these cases receive attention at a much earlier date.

Deputy Cowan rose.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I wonder whether the Deputy would allow me to provide a quotation? I understand that Deputy Rooney was challenged to-day about a quotation upon which he was not able to put his hand. The quotation in question appears in Volume 102, column 1465 of the Official Debates in respect of July, 1946. The Taoiseach said:

“. . . I would like our people and the members of this House to bear in mind that for six years of war the question as to whether our neutrality would be respected or not depended ultimately upon the will of, perhaps two men. It was on that slender thread that our preservation here [369] during the emergency period really depended. That was a very serious and a very anxious situation in which to have this country.

General Mulcahy: And these two men were not in this country?

The Taoiseach: No, they were not in this country.

Mr. Dillon: Does that answer mean the late President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill?

The Taoiseach: Yes. Ultimately, in my opinion, the question whether our neutrality was going to be accepted depended upon the concurrence of wills of two individuals.”

Major de Valera:  That is a very different quotation from the paraphrase that was made and that is why we asked for it.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I am very much obliged to Deputy Cowan for his courtesy.

Major de Valera:  And we are very much obliged to Deputy Dillon for his courtesy. I was looking for the quotation and could not find it.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I feel somewhat perturbed that, after 30 years of selfgovernment, we should have the type of debate on defence that we have had. I think we should have reached the stage long ago when we might be agreed upon fundamentals. As to whether or not we want a Defence Force is a matter that time should have resolved and as to whether or not we require a Defence Force, I feel that that should have long since passed outside the realm of political controversy. It has always been agreed by responsible people, whether they were inside or outside this House, that the Defence Forces should be entirely outside Party politics.

I have been rather worried by some observations that we have had in the debate, particularly from members of the Fine Gael Party, when they advance the suggestion that we are paying too much for the Army and that it is wrong to equip our Army with modern equipment. The suggestion made by Deputy Allen in regard to Deputy Rooney is true. I think it is [370] an absolutely scandalous performance from a Party that hopes, at some future date, to form the Government of this country. I think that those Deputies who speak in that fashion do not represent the ordinary people of this country. The ordinary people have gone through 700 years of struggle to recover the independence that we have got, and the ordinary man in this country is not going to let that independence be taken away lightly. The ordinary man looks to our Defence Forces, to the Government and to the Dáil to ensure that every step that can be taken to protect the independence of this country in the event of invasion or in the event of war will be taken.

I disagree entirely with those people who start off by saying that they know nothing about defence matters, but who suggest that the strength of our standing Army is too high. The Minister intervened, of course, to say that it is not the function of the 12,500 men in the standing Army to protect the country in all circumstances. The 12,500 men which we provide is the force that has been suggested by our General Staff as the minimum force that will enable them to provide the cadres for the non-regular or volunteer elements, and that will enable them to train instructors and train leaders so that, in the event of war or emergency, we would be able to put into the field several divisions of very well equipped troops.

I heard Deputy Desmond last night refer to the magnificent corps of highly qualified instructors that the Army was able to provide during the emergency. I think that if Deputy Desmond had pondered on that problem he would have asked himself how did the Defence Forces provide such a magnificent corps of instructors and such excellent leaders during the emergency? They provided that excellent corps of instructors and these excellent leaders that we had by long training in the permanent forces of this State prior to the emergency.

I want to say that I would wish to see our permanent forces larger, but unfortunately we have to operate within the capacity of the country to pay them [371] I am not satisfied that we are paying enough for our defence. I should like to see more money spent on defence, but I entirely disagree with the political viewpoint that is advanced here, for the purpose of gaining a vote here and there, that we are spending too much money on the Defence Forces. When I hear a Deputy like Deputy Desmond talk of the Navy, and the strength of the Navy that we ought to have to protect this country against invasion, I have only to look back a couple of years to the invasion of Normandy which was carried out in spite of a much bigger German navy than we have.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  Would you not agree that the size of the Army did not affect the result of the invasion?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I am going to deal with that. When I hear a Deputy talk nonsense of that kind, I should like very much to direct him into a study of the facts. What navy is going to invade this country at the moment, and what navy have we to protect this country against? Is not that the real question that might be considered? I have always held the view, in so far as a world war is concerned, that we, if we can, should maintain a policy of neutrality. There is no doubt whatsoever about it that the only two nations which could have invaded this country during the last war were the British and the Americans.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  Do you give them credit for that?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I do. They could have done it, and I believe, in so far as I have been able to study the records of that time, that we were within very short distance of being invaded, and that the British Government at the time, and the British Prime Minister at the time, Mr. Churchill, brought their influence so strongly to bear that the contemplated invasion was not carried out. I think every Deputy in the House knows the difficulties that faced the Government at that time when Mr. Roosevelt and the American Government [372] were being pressed very strongly by their military chiefs to occupy this country. So that our danger in the last war was not from Germany at all. Our danger of invasion in the last war was from Britain and America, and the British very wisely considered that it would be wrong politically and wrong morally, and unnecessary from the military point of view, to attempt to invade the country.

As I say, I have always held the line that if we can maintain a policy of neutrality we ought to maintain it. But the world situation is changing very rapidly, and it has changed very rapidly in the last couple of years. The alignment of forces in the world to-day is not the same as it was a couple of years past. There is not the same cohesion between Britain and the United States as there was. British statesmen are now considering their own future. The British nation depends on world trade. If they are to be denied that world trade then their hopes in the future are very small.

I think Britain is not the great world power that it was some years ago but nevertheless it has, in my view, sufficient statesmanship to enable it to maintain a strong position in world affairs. I for one am glad to see the British nation striking out, as it were, on its own. One of the greatest dangers to world peace would be the alignment of all the forces of the world into two camps and one of the strongest forces for peace would be the building-up in the world of a third force outside the Russian nation and the American nation. I may be wrong, but, as I see it, the tendency now is to create that third force.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  You are doing your best, anyhow.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  Surely this is a matter for the Estimate for the Department of External Affairs?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I hope I am right in the way I see it. I see that tendency and I see Britain taking a leading part in the organisation of that third world force. If that is so, if that third world force can be created, then I [373] think that our best hopes as a nation of maintaining our independence and our rights would be to become an active partner in that third world force. If we are to become a partner in that third world force then our contribution in the matter of divisions and in the matter of money and what steps we should take in regard to the furtherance of that idea are matters that will be the subject of discussion in Army Estimates in future years.

Everybody everywhere in the world wishes peace rather than war. The force that we have here, small and all as it is, is nevertheless so organised that, in the event of an emergency, it would enable us to provide a number of divisions of well-trained soldiers, of well-trained N.C.O.s and officers. In so far as our Department of Defence has been preparing and has been doing that work, then I say that they have been doing very good national work.

This Vote is used for the purpose of dealing with quite a number of minor matters in regard to the Department, to conditions of service, to recruitment and matters of that kind. I do not propose to dwell at any length on these but I shall take this opportunity of thanking the Minister for a decision he took recently in regard to T.B. in the Army. We had an Army regulation whereby soldiers who had completed a certain number of years' service and who became ill with T.B. were not entitled to receive sanatorium treatment at public expense. The matter was very forcibly brought to my notice in the case of one particular sergeant. It was only necessary to draw the Minister's attention to that when provision was made for the treatment of that particular non-commissioned officer at public expense—and the Minister indicated to me that the regulations would be amended to provide similar concessions for soldiers similarly affected in the future.

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  Will they get any allowance from the Army or the local authority?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  All that I know is that he will receive treatment at public expense.

[374]Mr. A. Byrne:  Will they get paid?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  They are still soldiers.

Mr. A. Byrne:  But will they get paid?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I hope so. I take it that the ordinary regulations with regard to pay will apply—that the soldier is in hospital at public expense and suffering from an illness which is not his own fault and that, consequently, he will be entitled to his full pay.

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  If he contracts tuberculosis in the Army.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I think this was an important decision by the Minister. I am glad he took it and I am glad to have the opportunity of congratulating him for taking such a quick decision on this important matter.

Mr. A. Byrne:  If he is paid.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I have no doubt that he will be paid.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  Surely he is just the same as a civilian and would be entitled to free treatment.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Under the old system, he would be discharged from the Army.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  I see. He would be retained.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  It is very important from the point of view of the N.C.O.s and men and the Minister ought to be congratulated on that decision.

There has been considerable talk here and every year in regard to conditions in the Army. I only want to mention a couple of matters. When the emergency ended, we had an effort to get out of the Defence Forces as quickly as possible. I think that, to a large extent, applies to the armies of every country. When a war is over the people serving in the Defence Forces are anxious to get out as [375] quickly as possible. Unfortunately, conditions during the emergency, as far as the individual soldier was concerned, were not all that they might be. A very large number of men left the Defence Forces dissatisfied with conditions. The result is that, since that date, the Department of Defence has had great difficulty in bringing the Defence Forces up to strength.

I have my own views as to things that occurred within the Army. I feel it is necessary that some of the bad old habits that grew up, particularly during the emergency, should be eradicated as quickly as possible. I have mentioned here on many occasions that no matter what his rank, a soldier is a human being and should be treated with all the respect to which a human being is entitled. Unfortunately, a crude form of discipline grew up which is completely alien to our ideas of the respect due to an individual. There are still traces—though not so many— of that, and I would ask the Minister, without going into greater detail, to make sure that some of those old ideas are radically altered.

Every year now we have regular officers and soldiers leaving on reaching the age limit. These men have had many years of experience. They are the most highly trained personnel that we have on military matters. Under our peculiar system here, the day they leave with their pension they are not liable to give another day's service to the State. I want to advocate what I have advocated several times previously, that a soldier or officer retiring on pension should be placed on a Reserve, paid as a member of that Reserve and kept on it until he reaches, say 65, when it is reasonable to expect he could not render efficient service any longer. In the building up of the force of fighting divisions I have mentioned, you need quartermasters, military police officers, camp commandants and 101 administrative personnel; and the only people I found— and this will be generally agreed—who filled these appointments adequately and properly were the men with long service and long experience.

[376] The effect of what I suggest would be that those N.C.O.s retiring on small pensions and those officers retiring on comparatively small pensions, particularly in the lower ranks, would have their income supplemented by the amount of the Reserve pay and at the same time they would be giving to the State services that would be invaluable, services certainly that would be more valuable than the amount of the remuneration they were receiving from the State.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  This would be on a voluntary basis?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Yes, on a voluntary basis. If he wants to avail of that, his services should be accepted. One of the wrong steps taken immediately after the emergency was the clearing out, as far as it could be done, of the officers who were primarily responsible for the successful building up of the big force we had during the emergency. An arbitrary age limit was laid down and out they went. About the same time or shortly after we were doing that, we found great nations like America adopting the opposite policy and retaining in the service men much older than we would retain here. I am afraid that that policy was advised to the Minister; it was a bad policy; I opposed it very strongly at the time, although I was not a member of this House then. The Defence Forces have suffered considerably by that policy of mass expulsions. I hope that, in collaboration with the general Staff of the Army and the Government, steps will be taken to save for the nation the services of those officers, N.C.O's and men who are highly qualified and skilled and who are under 65 years of age.

The Minister may say that we will get all those back in the event of an emergency to-morrow. Yes, it is possible that most of them will come back but they can only be built properly into the framework of a Defence Force by being available now and by being docketed or ticketed for the positions they would occupy in the event of a sudden expansion of the Defence Forces.

[377]Major de Valera:  And by being kept in touch with from year to year.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Yes, by being kept in touch with from year to year, by whatever form of instruction or course the General Staff might advise.

There is one other matter to which I would refer briefly, in conclusion. It is one which has caused me considerable worry. In our own Defence Act provision was made whereby an officer might retire at any time he wished. The same rule to some extent applied to the soldier, but there was this difference—that the soldier contracted to serve for a period, while the officer accepted a commission from the President to serve for such period as the Government wanted him to serve. In the British army and in our own Army up to the emergency, an officer had the right to resign at any time he wished. Even the soldier who was bound by contract for a specified period had an outlet, in that he could pay down a sum of money and “buy his discharge,” as it was called. During the emergency amending legislation was introduced which apparently—though I do not accept it—gave the President the right to decline to accept the resignation of an officer. An officer, then, who accepts a commission can apparently, or it is so held, be kept in the Army in spite of himself by the President, on the advice of the Government, refusing to accept his resignation.

Major de Valera:  Is not that the position in nearly all armies?

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  No, it is not the position in any army that I know of. It was introduced during the emergency. One could understand a provision whereby, in time of war or emergency, the President would have a discretion to refuse to permit an officer to resign. Everyone could agree that there would be grounds for that and that an officer who accepted a commission accepted it on the distinct understanding that he could not retire on such an occasion. But to say that in peace time an officer cannot retire is, in my view, absolutely contrary to every concept we have of ordinary [378] human freedom and liberty. I know of no place in this country where a man can be kept against his will, except in jail. If a man entered any profession he can resign from it, if he wants to. If he joins the Civil Service, he can resign, and, if he joins the Guards, he can resign. If he joins the Army as a private, all he has to do is to pay down the money prescribed and get out. In recent years, however—I do not know how many officers have been affected— the decision when an officer wants to resign is: “No, we will not allow you to go.”

My reason for mentioning this matter and the reason I am so worried and disturbed about it is that a young officer, anxious to resign, submitted his resignation and his resignation was refused. That young officer is not alive to-day. It is a very serious matter for whoever advised the Minister, in the first instance, that this young man should be kept in the Army against his will. I say it was wrong and I will tell the House where it can be wrong. If a young officer finds that he can better himself, somebody superior to him may decide: “You have no right to better yourself. You are in the Army and you have availed of the opportunity to take a technical course or to study this, that or the other. You have no right to go out and improve your position in outside life.” Take the case of a young Air Force officer who does his studies with a view to getting into Aer Lingus. He is accepted by Aer Lingus as a suitable person to be qualified by them as one of their pilots. The Army says: “We will not allow you to take up your position in Aer Lingus.”

That is entirely wrong and, as I say, there is no place, other than Mountjoy or the other prisons, in which a person can be kept against his will. Even within the Church, no person will be kept against his will. A girl who enters a convent can leave at any time she likes, but the Army has taken the line in recent years that an officer who joins for general service and who is subsequently transferred to a specialised corps cannot get out.

Dr. Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Can he not resign his commission and get out?

[379]Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  No. He did submit his resignation. He sent his resignation in and was told that he would not be allowed out.

Dr. Esmonde: Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  I agree that is quite wrong.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  The Deputy is not telling the other side of the case.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  I know there is another side, but there is no side which will justify what was done. I am not criticising the Minister. This is the first case of its kind that has arisen. The Act was passed during the emergency at a time when the Minister could get anything passed, because the House gave him anything he wanted, and that section was allowed to go through without anyone adverting to it. No one would ever say that, when the war was over, an officer who wanted to leave the Army should be kept there against his wishes. What is the other side?

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I will give it when I am speaking.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  The other side is that the State spends a lot of money training him and because they have spent this money on him, he will not be allowed to leave the Defence Forces.

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  Money is spent in the form of scholarships, too.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Even within the Department of Education, there is a provision that, if you want to retire from teaching within a certain period, you refund a certain sum to the Government and are able to leave. You cannot be kept as a teacher in spite of yourself, even though the State has paid for your training. I can understand the position in relation to an officer joining the Air Corps on a short-term commission—five years, seven years or ten years. He deliberately contracts to serve the State for that period—there is a lot of it in the British army and perhaps in other armies—and he does that with his eyes open. In that case, the Minister can say: “You will go when your seven [380] years are up, but not before”; but where a man accepts a commission in the ordinary way, the Minister has no right to say to him: “You cannot leave the Army.”

I am very worried and disturbed about this. I feel that if that section were not there, or were operated differently, operated in the way I think it should be operated, this country might be the richer by having a man alive who is to-day dead. It is a dreadful responsibility on the person who, in the first instance, says: “No; I will not allow this man to go.” I know that this matter went right up to the Minister, to the Government and to the President. There is no justification for it and I hope we will have a statement from the Minister that this enforced service, because that is what it is, will not be demanded. We hear about Siberia and about this, that and the other in other countries, but surely this Dáil or this country will not permit a man to be retained against his will as an officer in the Army. For the privates and N.C.O.'s, there is an outlet. They join for a specific period, but they have the outlet that they can pay a sum of money and get out if they are not satisfied. Many of them do pay it and get out.

I meant to fight this issue in another way, but circumstances have obliged me to mention it here this morning. If the Minister considers it in the light of the rights of a human being and an individual, he will realise that there is no justification for it. I should be very anxious that the Minister should let the House know in how many other armies in peace-time can an officer who accepts a commission from the President or head of the State be compelled to remain in commissioned service by the State, although he does not wish to remain.

I regret that I had to take up so much time on this matter, but it is a matter of fundamental importance. The rights and liberties of individuals are involved. What has been done is wrong and there is no justification for it. I do not think it could be supported in any way and I ask the Minister to say that the Government, having considered [381] it, agree that there is a fundamental defect in the legislation as it is, and that full advertence was not given to all the facts and circumstances when the President was advised to refuse a resignation tendered to him by an officer who had joined for general service.

Mr. Colley: Information on Harry Colley  Zoom on Harry Colley  I had hopes some time ago that we were reaching a stage in this House at which we were agreed at least on the fundamentals about defence. The last couple of weeks and even this debate have shown me that we are no further advanced than we were in any year since the emergency. I had hopes again, when I heard Deputy Collins, who led for the Opposition, saying (column 2372, Volume 138, No. 18):

“I do not think anybody in this House will deny to the Minister any money that may be needed to provide the Army with reasonable and adequate supplies of warlike stores.”

Since Deputy Collins said that we have had several members from the Fine Gael Party who disagreed with it entirely. Deputy Costello, the ex-Taoiseach, only the other day told us that the money provided for defensive equipment should be liquidated to pay the civil servants and that it had been the intention of Deputy McGilligan, when he was Minister for Finance, to do that by degrees. One can take nothing from that statement by a responsible man like Deputy Costello except that the policy was to leave the Army without the means of getting any defensive equipment.

Is there any use in having an Army if it is not equipped? It is high time that the Fine Gael people answered the question as to whether they think this country is worth defending, as to whether they think an Army is necessary at all. Instead of that we have, sometimes from the same member, the line that he is all in favour of defending this country. Then, apparently, he does not want to give the Army any chance of carrying out its job because he does not want to provide sufficient money. That is on the question of defensive equipment.

[382] During the debate on the Budget and during this debate several Deputies told us that the standing Army is too large, that it could be reduced to 5,000. At one time we all thought that a standing Army of 5,000 would be sufficient to carry it on through peace-time and to be able to expand to meet an emergency. One thing we are all agreed on, as far as I can see, is that we should keep the standing Army as small as possible and depend as much as possible on voluntary effort. It becomes a question of what standing Army is sufficient to do that job efficiently. We should all agree that it is a waste of money if our standing Army is not sufficiently big to carry out that job efficiently.

I do not think there are any Deputies who would agree with the suggestion—I wonder whether we should take it seriously—that our attitude if we were attacked would be that we would make a short gallant fight and then knuckle under. I think that is a fair summary of what Deputy Rooney said this morning. I do not think there is anybody else—I hope there is not anybody else—who takes that view. If I thought on that line, I would advocate no Army and I would be prepared to put up my hands immediately, if anybody should come. That is the only logical line to follow if that is the mind of the Deputy on that point. I do not think for a minute that he would get even a very small number of people in this country to agree with him. Our whole history shows the contrary. I hope for the sake of the country that we will have no repetition of such a statement in this House.

On the question of the number of men, again we had Deputy Collins saying, as reported in column 2367 of the same Volume:—

“One might argue on the question of cost. I am not inclined, nor have I ever been inclined, to quibble about the cost of maintaining the Army. If we are in general agreement in this House, as we seem to be, on maintaining an Army of a certain basic strength, I think it is reasonable to expect that we should [383] give all the encouragement we can to seeing that the Army is maintained at that figure.”

When I heard that statement by Deputy Collins speaking from the Opposition Benches I at any rate was inclined to think that at last we had reached a stage when we could discuss the question of defence in a proper spirit with the intention of trying to improve our Defence Forces. Instead of that, we had speaker after speaker from the Fine Gael Benches adopting a different attitude.

In the interest of the country, I think it is time that the Fine Gael members should come together and have a discussion on defence and arrive at some decision in the matter, because defence is too important for members of this House to be saying things which may have a very bad effect when reported in other countries. It is too important for members of the House, some of whom confess they do not know much about it, to put forward their views as regards the numerical strength of the Army against the views of the Army Council and the Army Staff.

The question of the present standing Army was settled after full investigation by the Army Council, the Army Staff and the Government after the emergency. At that time, the Government, just like any other Government at any time, did not want to waste any money. They were faced, however, with the lessons of the emergency and I think that any impartial man who was in touch with what happened at that time will agree that the Army of 5,000 odd which we had in 1939 was not at all sufficient for what is the main purpose of the Army here, to be able to expand and utilise in a proper military way the influx that will come into the Army in time of emergency.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  Did they not do a marvellous bit of work in a very short time?

Mr. Colley: Information on Harry Colley  Zoom on Harry Colley  Some of the men of the volunteer force who were called up at the outbreak of the emergency were put into barracks which were in such [384] a condition that no human being, much less an Irishman who was proud of the men who came forward at that time, would countenance the putting of men into such barracks.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  We have closed them all down in County Donegal.

Mr. Colley: Information on Harry Colley  Zoom on Harry Colley  Nobody would like to see his son living in such conditions when he was willing to do his training in his own time and come up when called upon in an emergency. That is not right and I for one will not countenance that men of that type should be treated in such a way. There is too much cheese-paring, too much economy, as far as the Army is concerned. Because of what happened between 1916 and 1923, when men were prepared to risk their lives and give their lives, as a number of them did, without any pay or reward, I am afraid the people of this country have got the idea that the freedom of this country can be very cheaply achieved and protected and as a result they are not prepared to pay for it. I have met people with plenty of money who thought that that should be done voluntarily. They even thought that public work, such as is done by officials of local authorities and civil servants, should be done voluntarily. That type of mind can develop and I am afraid it has gone so far that it has shown itself very much with regard to the Army in the last few weeks in this House.

I hope that we have seen an end to that. I hope that when it comes to a question of settling the strength of the Army we will be prepared to take, as we would in any other walk of life in regard to which we were not experts ourselves, the views of the experts. Having satisfied ourselves that the country could bear just so much and that the Army Staff and the experts were prepared to carry on in accordance with the policy of the country to have an Army which could be expanded immediately in an emergency, then I see no reason why any ordinary layman should put forward his view as against that expressed by the Army Staff.

Following on that, it is apparent that the First Line Reserve, and the [385] F.C.A., particularly, form a most important part of the Defence Forces of this country. It is not possible with an Army of the numbers we have to carry on a sustained defence. It is possible however if you have a good, well-trained and well-armed F.C.A. For that reason I want to raise some points I have mentioned before as regards the training of the F.C.A. I cannot understand why, because a decision was taken years ago that the F.C.A. would be rifle battalions, they are not trained in any other weapon but the rifle. I wonder if the Army, whom I have declared I am prepared to support in every way by giving them sufficient money, equipment and men, as far as we can, to carry on their job, realise their full responsibility? I am going to hold them to the responsibility of preparing this country for its proper defence if such is necessary.

In these times the F.C.A. should certainly be trained in other weapons besides the rifle. There seems to be no reason why they could not be trained in machine guns and in some of the modern weapons. Looking back on the old days and on things that happened then, one can see that it might mean all the difference in the world if you had some of those men capable of using other weapons besides the rifle.

I wish to bring this further point to the Minister's attention even as regards the training in the rifle in the F.C.A. Recently I came across a copy of a paper called Flash, which is issued and circulated among the F.C.A. Unfortunately I have not been able to find the copy since and I am speaking from memory. In the course of it some writer there was discussing the distribution of the limited supply of ammunition that the F.C.A. receive for practice. He wrote about some units carrying on as best they could, more units giving their men only a couple of practices and then reserving the rest of it for the teams going in for the shooting competitions.

To confine a man to a couple of rifle practices a year with ball ammunition —particularly if that is to be his only [386] weapon—does not seem the proper way to train. I do not think it could be that scarce. It can happen that a man who does badly in his first tests with the rifle and who in some of the units does not get another chance for 12 months, could become a very good rifle shot if given the practice. It has happened. I put it to the Minister that he should make some inquiries as to the amount of ammunition that is supplied to these men for the rifles. I also strongly urge that the whole position be revised as regards their training in other weapons.

If these matters were rectified, the members of the F.C.A. would be more anxious to carry on and their training would be more satisfactory and entertaining. There are men in the F.C.A. who have completed their courses and who just fall away; more of them just keep going there but there is nothing for them to learn. I feel that situation is undesirable. In spite of what the Minister has said, I think the Army do not look upon the F.C.A. as the important feature it is in the defence of this country. They do not give it sufficient attention and their whole concentration is on the standing Army. There is much room for improvement, improvement that is quite feasible at the moment, as regards the handling of the F.C.A. I know there are difficulties but those are some of the things that could be remedied. If that is done it will ease the other difficulties that exist.

I would be glad if the Minister could tell us how the civil defence arrangements that we heard of last year are progressing. I hope that those men who were trained are now well on the way towards training others and that if an emergency should occur, we will be provided for in that respect.

I would like again to congratulate the Minister on the Military Service Pensions Bill that he put through during the year. It was long overdue and I am glad that he was able to make such improvement in the conditions of the Old I.R.A. I hope that the new Bill that he is bringing in to deal with wound pensions, special allowances, and so on, will be equally good and [387] that it will also remove many of the grievances about these matters which have been mentioned time and time again, some of them even in this debate. In conclusion I would ask the Minister to give some attention to those points I have mentioned about the F.C.A.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  It is a good thing that this is a free Parliament and that there can be free expression of opinion. As far as I see, some Fianna Fáil Deputies think it is heresy for anybody to have an opinion of his own in this country. It is certainly very wholesome that we can have a clear picture of the different points of view. We all know that while this is a divided Ireland we will never have a proper defence and we may give up talking about real defence or real armies while the nation is divided.

When I look at this question I see it from the point of view of the condition of the finance of this country, a country that is up to its neck in taxation. Apparently we must spend millions and millions of pounds on a standing Army because we are told by Fianna Fáil that there is always an emergency around the corner. The State has been 30 years in existence and we have never had to fire a shot during that period.

Major de Valera:  Thank God.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  Thank God, but I should like to get away from all this nonsense about the existence of an emergency. I hold a strong view in connection with the Army but my viewpoint is the viewpoint of many others. I do not believe that we need a strong standing Army. I believe that all we need is the nucleus of an Army, a foundation upon which a strong force can be built should the necessity arise. I believe further that every young man, irrespective of class or creed, should receive a military training and should give a certain period of service to the nation. There should be a period of training for every young man when he reaches 16 or 18 years of age and he should be prepared to defend his [388] country if the necessity should arise. The nation would then be ready to equip him, if need be, but there is no necessity to have a permanent force of 12,000 or 15,000 men standing idle and costing millions in a small island such as this which is already overtaxed. It is beyond me how we stand for it. I quite agree that in a war situation such as developed some years ago, we should have a sufficient force to repel any invader and to prevent any outside nation taking over this country as we did when the last world war broke out, but I suggest that that can be accomplished without maintaining a strong permanent Army.

This country at the moment is not a country in which one can find a clean manly nationalism. There is too much “shoneenism” at present. There are too many snobs on the one side and too much ignorance on the other. The proper place to blend that ignorance and snobbery is on the barracks square under a system in which every young man, irrespective of class and creed, would undergo a period of military training. In that way our young men would develop a clean manly viewpoint. There are too many people in the country at the present who are inclined to sneer at the Army and at the idea of independence, whose sons would not be seen in an Irish army and who are inclined to look in the direction of another army. I should like to see these young men on the barracks square, the shoneens and the snobs, marching side by side. In that way you would develop a proper national spirit and a fine manly nation in which one would not be looking down on the other or looking up to the other, as the case may be.

We have had a spirit of shoneenism for the past 15 or 20 years. We have seen it in every walk of life, with a consequent decay in national culture and a failure to revive our language while emigration is rife. These things should be tackled from the national point of view with the object of developing a proper spirit in the nation. If such a spirit were developed, there are many people who to-day are flying over to England to earn a living who would refuse to go, even if it [389] meant that they might not enjoy quite as high a standard of living at home. These are the problems which I should like to see tackled in a courageous way so that we might have a clean manly viewpoint among our people. The shoneenism that has been so much in evidence for some years past, is the backwash of the revolution, the backwash of civil strife and the backwash from the period of easy living which we had during the war. As a result this country has become one of the softest nations in the world but it is a nation which has seen the light of freedom, that is advancing towards full freedom in easy stages and will, I am sure, attain that full freedom in our lifetime.

I have been attacked because in one of my speeches I suggested taking into the Army a type of people who at present are of no use to the country or are giving no service to the community. I mentioned gypsies and tinkers and, because I said that, the taunt has been flung at me: “Oh, Giles wants nothing in the Army but gypsies and tinkers.” Far from it. I believe however, that since Britain and the authorities in Northern Ireland expelled these people from their territories this country is overrun with them. Most of them are fine healthy young men and they are going around the country in hundreds and thousands. I want to see them giving some service to the community instead of lounging around, living in ease. For the most part, they are big healthy men who are, perhaps fairly ignorant and uneducated and who do not care too much about religion. If these men had to serve three or four years in an Army which had a proper Christian outlook and where they got a training of an educational type. I believe that when that period of training expired they would never go back to the caravan type of life but would settle down, marry and contribute to the wealth of the nation.

There are too many people living free easy lives at the expense of the community in this country. Nobody in my opinion should be permitted to lounge around, living a life of ease of that [390] type at the expense of the community. These people should be compelled to give some service to the community and the only way to do that is to put them under military discipline and give them a course of military training. I see nothing wrong in that. I do not stand for an Army of tinkers or gypsies but if we do not want to take them into the ordinary Army, why not put them into a military force where they can give service? France has its Foreign Legion which caters for all types and takes recruits from every land and they make fine fighters. It does not make any difference whether a recruit is a rich man's son or a poor man's son; he has got to fight when the necessity arises because he is led from the front and pushed from the back and he has to go ahead.

I am satisfied that for the last 30 years we maintained too big an Army. At the present moment we have men leaving this Army on full pension. I do not grudge them their pensions but I do not believe that we would have to provide these pensions if we had allowed them to leave the Army long ago. They could have been fending for themselves for the past 20 years. This nation is at the moment a nation of pensioners. There are scores and hundreds going out on big pensions; not alone that, but the brass hats can go out and walk into fine jobs. Many of them are walking into jobs already made for them. What does the rank and file think of that? Do they not say: “The whole thing is a cod. The bucks who are at the top get everything but we can get nothing but the emigrant ship.” I think it is about time that we faced this matter fairly and squarely. The fellow who is ready to bow and scrape can get anything he likes—big pensions, big jobs, etc. The thing has gone too far and the people are sick and tired of it.

So far as the purchase of Army equipment is concerned, I do not believe in this system of purchasing by a hole and corner method such as we had with parties going off to Sweden. We must face the situation in a practical way and consider the whole circumstances before we buy any equipment. We bought good equipment [391] in Sweden, I believe, as far as it went, but what in the name of goodness is the use of buying equipment in a war situation if we are neutral and if we cannot get even a refill for a rifle abroad? What is the use of a rifle or a machine-gun if you cannot get ammunition for it? I believe in buying equipment from the nations who are foremost in the defence of civilisation. I do not see why we should not have a proper manly approach to the American Government, for instance, as Franco did. Franco, to-day, is able to get his Army equipped on modern lines with the aid of America. I do not see why we should not send some members of our armed forces to America to get them trained in the use of modern equipment.

We are too damn cowardly to face up to realities. We have too much of faked republicanism; we are full of it. There is too much nonsense talked. The world situation to-day is very different from that in 1916 and 1921. We are living in a new era. Deputy Cowan has a strange make-up. He wants a third army here. He said much the same thing in Strasbourg. We know that our measure of freedom is hanging in the balance. Were it not for the might of Great Britain and America, Russia would have overrun Europe long before this and, had that happened, we would now be a subject people dominated by the Kremlin. Deputy Cowan is a disruptionist. We cannot change his make-up but we should not stand over his nonsense.

Neutrality is all very well, but it can be carried too far. It is a grand thing to be neutral when there are big nations to defend one. We were neutral in the last war because Britain and America honoured their obligations. Likewise, we honoured our obligations to them. We were the kitchen garden of the British army; we supplied food to a nation sorely in need of food. Because of that we were much more useful as a neutral nation than we would have been had we been a belligerent. Had we been a belligerent nation, one fleet of Hitler's planes would have levelled Dublin and Cork and Limerick in a few hours as [392] they levelled Belfast. From that point of view we might have been a liability to both Britain and America. These nations are realists. They knew our importance as a neutral nation. They had their bases in the North. That situation should be faced up to and the people should not be told that it was a few thousand men marching around a barrack square that saved us.

We need a new approach now. Thousands and thousands of Irishmen and Americans are pouring out their heart's blood on the battlefield of Korea to-day defending our freedom and the freedom of Europe. We should not sneer at them. It is their sacrifice and American money that is keeping us a free nation. We should laud the American nation instead of sneering and gibing at it; it is America that is carrying Europe on its back at an enormous sacrifice. Were it not for America's action in the past the Europe we know would have disappeared long before this and communism would be rampant here in Dublin as well as in London and Paris.

We must face facts. This is a divided nation. Whether we like it or not, we have accepted two Parliaments. There can be no question about that. Recently we sent the Lord Mayor of Dublin on a courtesy visit to Belfast; in the same way the Lord Mayor of Belfast visited us. We have been able to reach agreement on the harnessing of the Erne, on the Foyle fisheries and on the G.N.R. Why should we not have a pact of mutual defence with the North? During the war there was a definite link. Military roads in the North were known to our Army authorities here so that, should occasion arise, they could be used for mutual defence purposes. Our nation is dismembered, but time and the grace of God will give us a united country. The cost of defence in both North and South is more than the people can bear. Why not come to some agreement and ameliorate the position as between the two? If it can be done in the case of non-military objectives, why can it not be done equally in relation to defence in the face of a common enemy?

We play politics and, playing politics, [393] we have placed a gigantic burden on the backs of our people. There is a minority in the South which is not doing its duty so far as the nation as a whole is concerned. If we really loved our country, as we should, instead of hating England, we would get somewhere. I am one of the few who will honestly say these things. I answered the call when I was needed. I would answer it again to-morrow if it came, and so would my sons. I would be proud to see them shed the last drop of their blood in defending our country against an aggressor and in preserving the freedom of the democratic world. But freedom means nothing if it does not mean fairplay and justice for all.

There is not much justice in recruiting young men to the Army, keeping them there for five or six years and then throwing them out with no prospect before them other than the emigrant ship. Those who did not join the Army sneer at the men who did. That is why I say that all our young men should be compelled to do military service. Other countries have faced up to that situation. They are not afraid to take that step. We are the laughingstock of America and Britain. We whine and groan about partition. There is nothing about the partition of Poland, of Yugo-Slavia or of Germany.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  That does not arise.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  They are suffering ten times more than we did.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  That does not arise on this Estimate.

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  They are partitioned countries. They are suffering torture. We ignore the fact that they are suffering as much as we ever did. They are crying out for liberation. We cry about our little troubles. They are nothing compared to the troubles of the people in whose countries Christianity and the very name of God are blotted out. We have full freedom. We have freedom of religion and expression of opinion. There may be different points of view north and south but this is a free country. If we face the situation [394] seriously and manly, it is my belief that this will be a free, united country in the not very distant future with peace, concord and good-will.

We should face up to the position against the background of the whole world situation. We should not be insular, narrow and politically stupid. That may get us a few votes but otherwise it will get us nowhere. Year after year we are told there is an emergency and in Budget after Budget provision is made for the spending of £5,000,000, £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 on the Army. For the past 30 years £5,000,000 and £6,000,000 have been spent every year on the Army without a shot being fired. These armies have had to be disbanded and the people go to England. That is certainly a bad state of affairs.

I would ask the Minister for Defence and the Government to face the situation squarely against the background of the world position. We should not be always worrying about our own little troubles. Other nations have bigger worries and troubles. Other nations have made greater sacrifices and have suffered longer than ever we did. They are praying that the Irish people will make some effort to help them in their sufferings.

Freedom is coming slowly and surely, whether we have guns or walking-sticks in our hands. That freedom has been coming, not since 1916 or 1921, but over the last 200 years. It is advancing in the way God ordained it should and full freedom will come in God's own good time, but perhaps not in our time. We should get away from the tomfoolery that has divided the country, overtaxed it and always put us in an emergency when no emergency existed.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Donnchadh Ó Briain): Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  There is an agreement amongst the Parties that on Tuesday next questions will be taken at 6 o'clock instead of at the usual hour of 3 o'clock.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  What are the hours of sitting on Wednesday?

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  The House will sit from 10.30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

[395]Major de Valera:  It would have seemed, as Deputy Colley pointed out, that within the last three years we had reached some measure of agreement on the principle on which this Estimate and this problem in regard to defence was to be faced. One feels there is a certain doubt about it because in this debate some of the statements made are open to different interpretations. One is that the people who made these statements really do not believe in making any provision for defence at all and would consider that the economics of the situation demand that other things be given priority and that defence should simply not be considered. Another interpretation would be that adequate provision could be made on a narrower basis than is being made at the moment.

I think we cannot usefully consider these matters unless we get the basis of the problem clear. To do this will mean a certain amount of repetition of what has been said on many occasions such as this in the past. What is this problem of defence? Why do we want to spend money on it? Everybody realises—nobody more so than the the Government of the day that has to find the money—that the duty of defence is a burden and a problem for the community. It is a provision that has to be made at some cost. Quite obviously, the approach must be to make adequate provision, if that provision has to be provided, at the minimum cost. I think everybody would subscribe to that.

The first question that arises is what should be the provision or whether there is to be any provision at all. I think we should make the matter clear. Certain people, rather irresponsible to my mind, will go round the country and very naïvely point to the money spent on defence and say: “Look what is being thrown away. If we had that money it could be spent elsewhere.” These same people will not face the problem as to whether or not we have to provide for defence at all. Presumably, if we are going to provide for it we will want to provide for it seriously. There is no sense throwing money down the drain and voting [396] annual sums of money when you find you will not get a return for that money. It has been frequently mentioned in this House—it is now almost a hackneyed phrase—that defence is in the nature of insurance against a possible event. That is what it is.

It is a question of paying an economic premium on a policy that will give you a return when you need it. There is no sense throwing money down the drain on inadequate insurance. In that event you would have spent your money year after year providing against something but as you have not provided enough you have nothing on which you can get a return on maturity. The net result is that you are not only caught out when the event takes place but you have also thrown away money in annual instalments.

It is a very serious question to decide soberly in the interests of the community whether any provision is to be made for defence at all. I take it that everybody will agree—it is axiomatic—that if you are going to provide at all for defence, then you must make adequate provision. In fact, the first question one must ask oneself is whether there is a defence problem and whether there is a need to provide for the defence of this country. If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, as most of us believe it will be—I have heard nobody on the opposite benches, when taxed with that question, say otherwise—we have got to ask ourselves a second question. Can we do anything effective to meet that problem? I think we all agree we can, and experience has shown we can. The fact that in any particular event we will be dependent to a large extent on fortune, as must inevitably be the case, does not vitiate the point that, in expectation of certain factors, you can make adequate provision for defence. We have experience to prove that that approach is justified. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

When you have answered these two questions, it is then a matter of ways and means. I could quite honestly understand the attitude of certain people if they said: “Well, on some [397] details, you could do with a smaller Army in numbers.” I think I could argue that out with them on a reasonable basis, but I am prepared, I think, to show conclusively why it is not possible to operate completely on that basis. I cannot, however, understand people who say: “Do not buy the equipment that is necessary if you are going to have a Defence Force at all.” In fact, it all boils down to this, that as well as having these two general questions before which I have mentioned: (1) whether there is need for defence at all, and (2) even if there is, whether there is anything that we can reasonably do to meet the problem— whether, in other words, some method of approach is within our capacity— we have another question which can be put in a somewhat narrow way in relation to this particular Estimate, and it is: “Do we need a Defence Force at all in the sense of a Defence Force comprising various elements; and, furthermore, do we need to make provision for defence at all in the sense of national defence, or do we need merely an auxillary police force for the maintenance of internal order?”

Now, some of us have put that question before. I pressed it very hard when I was on the other side of the House and I understood that I got from one Minister, at all events, in the Government of that time, the statement that they were agreed that we wanted to approach this problem on the basis of national defence and not merely on that of having an auxillary police force. I am raising it now again because it is so hard to get down to a basis of argument on this. I can understand the man who says: “Forget about national defence; leave it to other people.” One can understand the approach of a man who says that, who argues on that basis and then goes on to say: “Have an auxiliary police force.” The man who takes that view can be understood. I do not agree with him, but I can argue with him, and I can also believe that he may be quite sincere in that point of view.

But you have got to face the consequences of that point of view. They [398] are all very immediate and important consequences that we should face here if that happens to be the view of any particular Deputy or a group of Deputies. If that is the view which they want to press, then they should press it unequivocally and definitely so that we may face the implications of such an approach. The first important thing about it is that if that is your approach I would join issue with you on two different bases: (1), as a general defence problem, the consequence of taking up that attitude means that in time of emergency, or in a time of crisis, if anything happens, you have surrendered the initiative immediately in the matter of defence to somebody else. Frankly, I do not think that the majority of Deputies in any Party in this House would accept that view. I am certain that the people outside do realise fully the implications of that view, and that they would not accept it at all.

That is one basis for argument with anybody who holds that view. The second is an immediate and very important question, particularly for anyone in Government. It is this. If you merely want an auxiliary police force, then the type of force you want is a different type from that which we have been maintaining in some form ever since the State was founded. It needs to be differently organised, to be differently trained and differently equipped, and it can be a much cheaper force. If that was to be our approach, and was the only way in which we were approaching it, that is to say to go on with the present system and to maintain a force designed to be merely an auxiliary police force on the present basis, it would be gross extravagance. The invitation which I would like to extend to anyone who wants to advovate that point of view is to say so unequivocably and clearly. When they do that, we can then join issue on these two points.

As I understand the situation after, if I may say so, years of probing, it is this: that national policy here, irrespective of the Government in power, is to be that we will make provision for our own national defence. That was accepted very clearly by the Coalition [399] Government, in principle anyway, as well as by the present Government. If we are to make provision for national defence, then that provision must be effective. It may be, as I say, dependent on the hope that certain fortunate factors will operate. We can be realistic and appreciate the fact that, in certain circumstances, any provision that we make for defence might be relatively futile, but weighing up everything and taking into account the fortunate factors that are likely to help—weighing all the considerations that are there—we decide that an effort to provide for national defence is worth while. If we decided that, then we have got to see that it is worth while.

That immediately brings us into the details of this Estimate as to what is adequate provision for defence. As I say, it is not a thing to be passed over lightly. There is a considerable amount of money involved, and no Government wants to spend any more money than is necessary on essentials. With regard to the Army, we are in precisely the same position as we are in regard to any other branch of the State service. Some Deputies have said: “Cut down the size of the Army and pay them more.” I will deal with that point specifically later from another aspect, but the fact is that the number of people maintained in the Defence Forces for defence are dictated essentially by the same reasons as those which dictate the number of people who are maintained in the Department of Industry and Commerce, the Department of Local Government or any other State Department. These people are maintained in the Civil Service presumably because they are essential. Presumably, we are not maintaining, and do not wish to maintain any more people in the Civil Service than the community can afford, or than are necessary for the work that is to be done.

We had an Estimate before us yesterday which gave us the relative proportions. The same thing applies in regard to the Army or to the number of Guards, or any other persons in the State service. Presumably, they are there because it is necessary to have [400] them in order to discharge the various duties assigned to them. We must take it that the numbers are the minimum numbers required to do the work which is necessary effectively. Deputy O'Donnell and others might as well come in here and say: “Halve the Civil Service and pay them more” as a solution for what they advocate in relation to the arbitration award. We would like to pay the Army—we would like to pay everybody—more. We would all like to be paid more no matter what calling we have.

Unfortunately, one is up against the hard facts of life, whether it is the Government who has to find the money or a private employer. You might as well come in here and say: “Cut the staff of the Department of Industry and Commerce by half. You will save money and then you can pay the remainder more.” You might as well come in here and say: “Cut the staff of the Department of Local Government and they will do the job just as well.” I wonder if any reasonable Deputy would come in here and say a thing like that? If people believe that we are carrying too many in other Departments, that is another day's work.

Mr. Gallagher: Information on Colm Gallagher  Zoom on Colm Gallagher  There are 63,000 civil servants.

Major de Valera:  The fact is that, presumably, all the officers and the people in the State service in other Departments are necessary.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  All officers?

Major de Valera:  I use the word “officer” for civil servants. I think they like to have that word used. I think they object to the word “official.” I meant all personnel of the Departments who are employed by the State. It would be a very easy solution, if you like, but there are two snags in it. Suppose I were to come in here, on some other Minister's Estimate, and say: “Look here, you are spending too much. Cut the staff by half. You will get better work and more work out of the remainder and you can pay them more.” That sounds well but the first snag is whether or not the work can be done, whether the job can go on and [401] whether the Department can function effectively. Suppose we were to come in here and say: “Halve the staff or cut by more than half the staff of the Department of Industry and Commerce”—a suggestion which was made by Deputy O'Donnell. Perhaps certain businessmen might not object to that.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  The Minister for Finance is going to save £3,000,000.

Major de Valera:  That is another day's work. That is not half or anything of the kind. But the work of the Department simply could not go on. That is the answer. Will anybody come in here and say: “Cut the staff of the Department of Local Government by half?”

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Did Deputy Corry not say that?

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  He said they were drones and that they are not needed.

Major de Valera:  That has nothing to do with the point I am making.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne  I agree. No reasonable Deputy would say it.

Major de Valera:  I am trying to bring home the fallacy of the suggestion that you can remedy everything by cutting the Army down to the figure mentioned by Deputy O'Donnell. That is really the point I am dealing with. I think this is one way we can see it.

Mr. Gallagher: Information on Colm Gallagher  Zoom on Colm Gallagher  Does Deputy Kyne suggest that, instead of 12,500 of an Army, we should have 12,500 civil servants and an Army of 63,000?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy de Valera, without interruption.

Major de Valera:  A Deputy dealt with the proportion of officers to men in the Army. It was a very reasonable point, but I think we can give an equally reasonable answer to it. Take, for instance, the Department of Local Government. From time to time I have heard complaints about the speed at which decisions and work can be got out of that Department. I wonder if Deputies think they would hurry it up [402] by cutting the staff by half or that that Department would function any more efficiently? I have said all that for this reason. One has got to decide the size of the Army in order that it can do an effective job with relation to what is there. There is no magic about this figure of a cadre of 12,500 that has been thrown around the House. The only magic about it is simply that the General Staff, after a survey, worked out a figure. I have some personal experience of the matter because I happened to have some association with it at the time. We all know perfectly well that it is very difficult to get money for defence from any Government.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Especially in peace-time.

Major de Valera:  Especially in peace-time, and this was during peace-time. Every effort was made to cut it to the bone. Actually, the figure that we worked out at that time was about 15,000. The Minister trimmed it a little more and the matter was adjusted further. The fact is that that figure is estimated to be the absolute minimum in the opinion of the people who studied it very soberly and of the Government who studied it soberly on the basis of the information given. They felt that if, in fact, you went seriously below it you would be codding yourself—doing what I mentioned earlier. that is, throwing money down the drain every year for eyewash, and when you wanted a return for that money you would not get it. That is the whole story—nothing more, nothing less.

As I am on that point, I wonder if I could get Deputies to appreciate one thing. There is no conflict about this point. I have heard a few Fine Gael Deputies talking in the following sense: “We want a small little Army that will be a cadre for a big mobilisation.” These Deputies seem to try to suggest that the Government is building up a strong standing Army that will provide for defence. All that was thrashed out long ago. Every rational person would approach the problem on the basis that we can only [403] maintain in this country a standing force which will be a cadre, a skeleton, for what is to be our Defence Force in time of emergency. We cannot afford to do anything else. That Regular Army that is being talked about is nothing more nor less than the cadre, the skeleton, upon which you are going to develop and maintain an Army in a period of emergency. It is the minimum skeleton that will carry the minimum effective force in time of emergency. It is the minimum cadre that [404] will enable you to provide the body in the time that you might anticipate. When I make these assertions I do so on the basis that, as I say, it is the opinion of competent people who have studied the matter. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

The Dáil adjourned at 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 2nd June, 1953.


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