Wednesday, 9 March 1927

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 8 No. 9

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Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I beg to move the Second Reading of the Merrion Square (Dublin) Bill, 1927, the Title of which is as follows:—

“A Bill entitled an Act to enable the Commissioners of Merrion Square to convey and transfer to the Trustees of the Irish National War Memorial Trust the ground within Merrion Square in the City of Dublin and other property vested in the said Commissioners as such; and to provide for the transfer of the said ground to the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of Dublin from the [410] said Trustees when the same has been laid out as a public park; and for other purposes connected therewith.”

Mr. TOAL: Information on Thomas Toal  Zoom on Thomas Toal  I beg to second that.

Sir BRYAN MAHON: Information on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  Zoom on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  As a subscriber to the objects of the Merrion Square proposal as a national war memorial I object—

Mr. BROWN: Information on Samuel Lombard Brown  Zoom on Samuel Lombard Brown  Perhaps I might be allowed, on the question of procedure to intervene. It is obvious that the Second Reading of this Bill is going to be opposed. At this stage of Parliamentary history in this country it is most important that a proper practice should be established at once in reference to opposition to the Second Reading of a Private Bill. A Private Bill is promoted by a private citizen or private citizens. It involves a question of private interest. The preliminary proceedings for the promotion of a Private Bill are often extremely costly. The promotion of a Private Bill involves very often, heavy fees. It involves the payment of heavy fees to our own officers in this House and all that trouble and all that expense, in some cases already in this country amounting to tens of thousands of pounds, have been incurred. A private citizen promotes a Private Bill on the faith that it will be allowed to come before a Joint Committee of both Houses who will hear evidence on oath for and against the Preamble of the Bill, and, if necessary, will hear counsel on both sides; and who will on the evidence and arguments put forward, report to the House afterwards as to whether the Preamble of the Bill, that is the principle of the Bill, should be allowed to pass. Now that being so, if you oppose the Second Reading of a Private Bill and carry that opposition, and if it goes to the country that the Second Reading of a Private Bill may be opposed, and may be successfully opposed, and that there is not any practice in this country to the contrary, I am greatly afraid that you will practically put an end to Private Bill legislation in this country. The private citizen will not take that risk.

[411] For that reason I would very strongly urge the House that they should allow the Second Reading of every Private Bill to pass—I am not referring to this Private Bill any more than to any other Private Bill—that they should as a matter of practice allow the Second Reading to every Private Bill. It would then come before the Joint Committee under our Standing Orders, and this House and the other House will have an opportunity at the next stage (when it comes back on Report) of dealing with the principle of the Bill and they can then reject it or pass it. They will have an opportunity to do that on the evidence that was taken before the Joint Committee. There is one other reason why I would urge this practice of not opposing the Second Reading of Bills in this House. If the pros and cons of a Private Bill are discussed on the Second Reading in this House, or in the other House, it will turn the members of the House into advocates, whereas afterwards if the Bill passes its Second Reading, they will be to some extent judges in the case. That is a very wrong principle, and it would be a very great pity if advocacy, on the Second Reading of a Bill by the members of this House, should practically incapacitate them from taking the judicial view they should take when the Bill comes before them at a later stage. I would, therefore, urge the importance at this early stage of our procedure where this Private Bill business is so new that we should now, once and for all, adopt the principle of not opposing the Second Reading and then when the Bill comes back we can go through its various sections.

Sir THOMAS ESMONDE: Information on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  Zoom on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  May I say that I am in complete accord with Senator Brown? I do not know that we have made any special regulations with regard to the treatment of a Private Bill in its initial stages. I do not wish to stress that point, but may I say that for a great many years when I had experience of Private Bills in another place the custom invariably was——

Colonel MOORE: Information on Maurice George Moore  Zoom on Maurice George Moore  Is it in order to have this general discussion now?

[412]CATHAOIRLEACH:  I was just going to intervene and see where we are. I do not know exactly what Senator Brown is at. Is Senator Brown moving a motion, or is he simply trying to suggest to the House that they should give this and every other Bill a Second Reading?

Mr. BROWN: Information on Samuel Lombard Brown  Zoom on Samuel Lombard Brown  I was simply suggesting to the House, for the reasons given, that they should not oppose the Second Reading. I was urging that Senators who are going to oppose this Bill should not press their opposition. I do not want to move a motion.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I do not think that is quite in order. Senators who want to oppose this Bill are entitled to be heard. Any other Senator can then get up and point out to them that it is unusual to prevent the passage of a Private Bill in its preliminary stage. They can do that in the debate, but I could not allow this debate to be used for the purpose of establishing as an invariable rule that in no circumstance is a Private Bill not to receive a Second Reading. I can quite understand that there are certain Bills to which this House would never consent to give a Second Reading. I am speaking now quite frankly. I doubt if a Divorce Bill would get a Second Reading. I doubt it very much. Be that as it may, I can understand a Bill coming up as a Private Bill which would be so repugnant to Senators as to make them say:—“Why put the parties to further expense? Let us dispose of it right away now.” That would be an exceptional case, but I do not think the House would be wise to tie its hands, and to say that under no circumstances can a Private Bill be thrown out on the Second Reading Stage. It would be most unwise to do that, and they certainly cannot do that without taking a more formal proceeding than intervention in the debate on this Bill now.

May I say that I do think they would be very wise as a general rule to allow any Private Bill of this character to receive its Second Reading. Whether this case is exceptional or not, I do not know. Remember that passing the Second Reading of a Bill pledges the House to nothing. When the [413] House has passed a Second Reading the Bill has got to go before a Special Committee at which, unlike Public Bills, the promoters as well as the opponents are entitled to be heard by counsel and to produce witnesses; and this House is turned into a sort of judicial tribunal to determine whether that Bill is to go through or not. Then, if it did come before the Committee and they report in favour of it, it comes back to you and you will have complete control over it. If you disagree with the action which the Committee has taken, you can still throw it out. I suggest that members ought feel very strongly about a Private Bill before they refuse an opportunity of having its merits threshed out before a Judicial Committee. That is all I have to say about it. I cannot stop the discussion on this Bill for the purpose of allowing a discussion as to the general practice which should apply to other Bills as well as this Bill.

Sir BRYAN MAHON: Information on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  Zoom on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  As a subscriber I object to the Merrion Square proposal as a National War Memorial. It does not, in any respect, fulfil the requirements of such a memorial, nor do I consider Merrion Square, in any way, a suitable site for a war memorial. Certainly we must have a war memorial, and nothing that we can erect will be magnificent enough to do honour to my comrades who voluntarily gave their lives for their king, country and liberty, but let us do our best in erecting something as nearly worthy of the occasion as possible. When honouring the dead we ought not to forget the living, and their wishes deserve consideration. Many of those who gave their lives left wives and families behind them. Thousands returned from the war who also risked their lives equally with those who lost them; many of them returned wounded and maimed for life, many broken down in health from the hardships of active service and unfitted for work.

Unfortunately, in these days we all know there is a great deal of unemployment, and men, incapacitated in any way, have a very poor chance of getting employment. Naturally the employers of labour look for fit and [414] active men. According to the Bill, there is a sum of money of about £45,000. I would suggest erecting a suitable memorial, and that the balance of the money, if any, be devoted to the benefit of ex-service men. I make no suggestion as to how. That is the business of the trustees, but do not spend it in making a public park of Merrion Square. No one subscribed for that purpose. The proposal to open Merrion Square to the public is an admirable one. I should like to see every square in Dublin open to the public, and if you want to improve the beauty, the health and everything else of the city have no railings around any of those public squares; have them open spaces like one sees in the Continental cities. Nothing could be more beautiful and have more effect, but as a site for a war memorial it is absolutely unsuitable, as I will try to explain.

The 11th November is a day in which my comrades assemble all over Ireland to honour the dead. In Dublin and district that assembly is very large, and wherever this war memorial is erected that is where the assembly will take place. It will be probably suggested that a second cenotaph should be put up in some other place more suitable, but I think I have had more experience of soldiers and Irish soldiers than any member in this House, perhaps with the exception of the Senator on my left, and again I repeat wherever you have this memorial that is where the assembly will take place on the 11th November. You will remember three years ago we had an assembly in College Green. At that time traffic and business had to be suspended for a certain time, causing certain inconvenience to citizens of Dublin. Two years ago a larger assembly, even, was in Stephen's Green; the same trouble and inconvenience occurred. Then last year a very much larger gathering took place in Phoenix Park. There, there was no trouble, no dislocation of traffic or any other inconvenience caused, and the Civic Guards had no trouble in organising or carrying out whatever duties they had to do. It would be impossible for them in the city. In large assemblies, such as I describe, there is always a possibility of disturbance. Is the [415] heart of Dublin, under the very walls of the seat of Government, the place in which to take that risk and the risk exists, as everyone in this House knows?

Another point is fixity of tenure. At any time in the interests of the city the Corporation may decide that Merrion Square may be wanted for some other purpose. I grant that is unlikely but it is a possibility. The Bill says “Merrion Square is to be laid out in flower beds, tennis courts, etc., and kept up by the Corporation.” As I have shown you the numbers assembling on the 11th November are increasing each year. If that memorial is erected in Merrion Square there will be, at least, 100,000 people trampling on the ground. I am afraid on the 12th November every year there will be very little left of the flower beds and tennis courts and the Corporation will have an expensive repair bill. The gift would be a white elephant to the Corporation. The proposal according to the Bill consists of gates and a structure, whether it is a memorial or cenotaph, and public garden. Strangers will say “what a beautiful public garden” if they see it prior to the 11th November, but will never recognise it as a war memorial. We have already in Dublin a war memorial gate. How many people recognise it or connect it in any way as a tribute to our fallen heroes? I venture to say there are members in this House that do not know, at this minute, where the gate I refer to is. I spoke to one Senator and he said he did not know it and he is a supporter of the Merrion Square Bill. I myself only discovered it a year ago. A war memorial ought to be an impressive and lasting structure whether in the form of a Celtic cross, cairn, a triumphal arch or anything else, standing by itself, unenclosed, where everyone can see it, everyone approach it and know what it represents. Such a structure requires no repair or upkeep. The longer it remains the finer and grander it will become. The Merrion Square scheme does not fulfil one of those conditions; in fact it is the reverse for there is nothing in the scheme that is permanent [416] or lasting. The Merrion Square site has to be purchased. I am certain, although I have no authority for saying it, that a free site could be obtained in a suitable place. Dublin is fortunately possessor of one of the finest, if not the finest, public parks in Europe. Why not take advantage of that and erect a memorial in the Phoenix Park and let it stand for ever as a memorial to 50,000 brave Irishmen who voluntarily gave their lives for their king, their country and for liberty? I oppose the Bill.

Sir WILLIAM HICKIE: Information on William Hickie  Zoom on William Hickie  I hope I shall be able to help some of the members of this House to come to a conclusion in the matter of this Bill. I do not claim to speak for the whole of the Irish ex-servicemen, but representing, as I do, the British Legion in the Saorstát I voice the opinion of the largest, if not the only organised body of soldiers. Some three years ago when it became evident that it was impossible to carry out the scheme for which this money was collected the Council of the Irish National War Memorial took legal opinion and, acting on that opinion, it approached the courts and got permission to substitute a feasible scheme. There were some twenty odd proposals received and the promoters submitted them to the Legion of British ex-servicemen and asked for their approval and support. The Legion circulated the 90 branches existing in the Saorstát and the consensus of opinion received from the men who had fought was that what the men wanted was a memorial of exceptional beauty in some central position in the city of Dublin where they could go on Remembrance Day annually and lay their wreaths in memory of their fallen comrades.

What is known as the Merrion Square scheme, which is the subject of this Bill was the only scheme which appeared to fulfil these requirements and I took this expression of opinion of my fellow ex-servicemen as a mandate from them to vote for that scheme at the Council of the Irish War Memorial. Time and circumstances, however, have changed the outlook of many of the men for whom I acted. [417] During the past year it has become evident that the opinion was not unanimous. Many changed their views and many of them had not had an opportunity of expressing them. At the annual general meeting of the British Legion in Ireland held in Dublin on the 19th February and attended by delegates from the twelve districts and 130 branches in the Saorstát a resolution was passed disapproving of this scheme and begging the Council to reconsider it.

That resolution was passed almost unanimously. There were only one or two speakers against it, and on the vote only one or two dissentients. The change of opinion as to why the scheme appeared unsatisfactory was chiefly because there was to be a cenotaph in some central place in Dublin where we could go annually to do honour to our dead. Remembrance Day was not officially kept in Dublin prior to 1924. It will be remembered that in that year a temporary cross was put up in College Green, and that a vast crowd of some hundreds of thousands of people and sympathisers assembled at the ceremony. The following year permission was obtained to hold the meeting at the Leeson Street corner of Stephen's Green, a crowd of 120,000 people being present. It is now held, I believe, by the authorities that it was not right that such a large crowd should hold up the whole business and traffic of the city on a working day for several hours, however orderly the crowd might be or however worthy their purpose. Last year as Senators are aware we held our meeting in the Phoenix Park. It appears to us that even if the City Commissioners were to allow it Merrion Square does not lend itself to accommodate the vast concourse that we have reason to believe will assemble in days to come. Some 50,000 people came all the way to the Phoenix Park last November. When we consider that the business men and women of Dublin and their employees can attend without long absence from work at a place where the Irish national war memorial is to be to men from the four provinces and as the crowd would greatly exceed the numbers that have [418] already been seen in Dublin, we must ask ourselves whether the city authorities or the Government itself would permit such a gathering in the centre of the city. Actuated solely with the desire to protect the business interests of Dublin's industries, and the general convenience of the public, we recognise that as only portion of the crowd would be under semi-military control it would be practically impossible to protect the trees, plants and flowers from damage. We felt it would be an anomaly, while possessing a cenotaph in one part of Dublin, if we were forced to go and hold our ceremony at a place two miles away. One other consideration which weighed heavily with the objectors was that though Merrion Square is to be given as a gift to the public a portion of it is to be reserved for lawn-tennis courts for the residents.

I am in a particularly difficult position with regard to this Bill. I am one of the signatories to it and have acted on the Council of the National War Memorial. It was only last February that the resolution to which I have referred was passed. It differed from the opinion given me three years ago. It was stated in a weekly paper published in Dublin last Saturday that I did not represent the ex-servicemen in sufficient numbers to speak for them. In answer to that I say it was a lesser number that gave me what I took to be a mandate, and that is the only expression of opinion I have received from any body of ex-servicemen. Thus far I have endeavoured to express the views of my comrade ex-servicemen. May I now give my own? I hold that the erection of an Irish National War Memorial to last for all time is a very serious and a very grave matter, that should have the closest consideration, and, above all, have the approval of the majority of our fellow-countrymen. I have come to the conclusion, at first most reluctantly, that the Merrion Square scheme does not possess the approval of the great mass of our countrymen. I believe it is possible to find a scheme that will do so. This is neither the time nor the place to make suggestions. We owe a tremendous debt to the 50,000 gallant Irishmen [419] who gave their lives. The people I hope before long will see a memorial erected to those who fell; a memorial that will be worthy of them, worthy of their sacrifices and worthy of our country. I do not consider that the Merrion Square scheme, in the light we see it now, will fulfil these conditions and I cannot support the Bill.

Colonel MOORE: Information on Maurice George Moore  Zoom on Maurice George Moore  I have more reason to consider this matter seriously than most of the Senators here, and probably as much as anyone else, for personal and family reasons. I attended the first meeting held in College Green. I was deputed to place a wreath on the cenotaph. I was appointed by the Government to do so. Anybody who knows anything about this matter knows that the centre of this city is not a suitable place for a memorial such as is proposed. Under present circumstances it would be nearly certain to raise adverse discussion, and perhaps even serious trouble. I am sure that those who had relatives killed in the war would not wish that there should be scrimmaging and trouble, such as occurred in Stephen's Green, and which may occur in the future. I, at all events, would feel very sore and bitter if any such thing happened over relatives of mine.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  Evidently this House only becomes concerned in the war memorial because it is necessary to put through a Private Bill. As those more concerned with the memorial than I am are opposed to the Bill, it would be a pity if the opportunity at the disposal of subscribers to the memorial should be lost sight of, and it is this: that a Government housing grant is available for a memorial in the proportion of £100 to every £50 that the war memorialists would put up. That should be borne in mind, because it is obvious that Merrion Square deserves improvement. It is also obvious that it may not be the best site for a war memorial. Roughly, one-tenth of the citizens of the Free State are deeply interested in this war memorial. A war memorial assuming the character of a cenotaph is one thing, but an annual harangue [420] is another. The centre of the city is not, as Senator Sir Bryan Mahon said, the best platform for annual panegyrics. A war memorial is a comfortless thing. I do not know of any greater monstrosity than the Wellington monument. There is not shelter on it for a sparrow. If the money subscribed for the war memorial is to be turned into stone, the best thing would be to provide houses for the ex-Servicemen. If the money were divided into shares of £50 each, then the Government would subscribe £100 for every £50 share, and that would give nearly £150,000 for housing. In Greece there is no war memorial to the Persians. The cost of the Wellington monument was subscribed by stoppages from the pay of the troops. The people associated with this proposed memorial who wish to honour the dead have subscribed £50,000. It would be a pity if the throwing out of this Bill would stop the erection of a suitable memorial, which, in my opinion, would be the erection of houses, towards which the Government would contribute in the proportion I have stated.

Mr. JAMESON: Information on Hon Andrew Jameson  Zoom on Hon Andrew Jameson  I feel strongly that it is a great pity we are debating this matter the way we are in this House. If there was ever an incident that would show how impossible it is to consider such a question before a full House before it was considered in Committee, we have excellent evidence of it to-day. Senator Sir Bryan Mahon and Senator Sir William Hickie told us that Merrion Square is a totally impossible place for ex-Service men to assemble. I do not suppose that that idea ever entered the heads of anybody who wished to promote the Merrion Square scheme, beyond the fact that it would be a place where those who lost relatives in the war could go to find the names of their deceased relatives recorded. It was not to be a place where thousands of people could meet and listen to the panegyrics that have been referred to. I agree that such gatherings could not possibly take place in Merrion Square. When the City Commissioners agreed to accept the Square and to take charge of it, I do not believe they intended to allow these gatherings to take place there, but that it would be quite possible [421] to have there something like the cenotaph that has been spoken of. The cenotaph in London is a small affair. and was not very costly, but there hangs around it all the sentiment and all the reverence for the dead that the two Senators have spoken of. It would be quite easy to put up in the Phoenix Park a cenotaph costing two or three thousand pounds, which would be a common ground for such gatherings, and would meet the requirements. To put up in the Phoenix Park a monument costing £45,000, where only few people would see it, would be, to my mind, an extreme waste of money. I hardly know what to ask the House to do. I have here a history of the steps taken by the War Memorial Committee. I have been waiting to hear someone say something for the people who put up the money.

General Sir BRYAN MAHON: Information on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  Zoom on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  I spoke as a subscriber to this memorial, not as a soldier.

Mr. JAMESON: Information on Hon Andrew Jameson  Zoom on Hon Andrew Jameson  I have not heard anyone say that the trustees who were appointed in 1919 to take care of this £40,000 to put up a war memorial should have a voice in the disposal of the money. The House, I think, will agree that that point has not been stressed. There is no wish to do anything wrong to the ex-Service men. I suppose there is not a member in this House who has not subscribed considerably to funds for the upkeep of ex-Service men. When we come to deal with the question of a war memorial and with the money subscribed by the people who wanted to see some national memorial put up to their dead relatives, we have to look at the matter from a different point of view. Having heard so much, I think the House ought to have an authoritative history of what happened in regard to the war memorial. Though I have to take up the time of the House, I think it is better that it should know the history of this fund, how it was inaugurated, how it was managed, and the proposals in regard to it.

In July, 1919, Lord French summoned a meeting at the Viceregal Lodge, which was attended by some of the most important people in Ireland. [422] A resolution was proposed by Sir Plunket Barton, seconded by the Right Hon. Lawrence Waldron. It was:—

“That we hereby approve of the proposal to erect in Dublin a permanent memorial to the Irish officers and men of His Majesty's Forces who fell in the Great War, and that a site be acquired for this purpose to erect a Great War Memorial Home, equipped to provide board and lodging and recreation for men who fought in the war and those serving in the Imperial Forces of the Crown.”

It was further decided that parchment rolls should be prepared, on which should be recorded the names of Irish officers and men of all services who had fallen in the war. An executive committee was appointed to carry out the project and to collect money for that purpose. They sent out certain circulars, and then a discussion arose as to the possibility of erecting a soldiers' home, and the soldiers present will remember probably that the decision which the military authorities came to was that we could not put up a thing of that kind, because they did not approve of men in the service being in a club with ex-soldiers who were not under discipline or control. For that and other reasons, events which as we all know happened soon afterwards, we were obliged to write off as quite impossible the carrying out of the scheme in regard to the soldiers' home. Then a leaflet was issued to intending subscribers, giving the objects for which the subscriptions were asked. Its objects were:—

“The memorial is to stand in the capital of Ireland, and is destined to keep alive in the hearts of the Irish people for ever the glorious memory of their heroic dead, who in the world's greatest struggle for freedom died for the honour of Ireland. The memorial will be representative of every class and creed. It will include not only the names of the dead who served in Irish regiments, but of all Irishmen who have fallen, no matter to what regiments they belonged. It is proposed to erect a building to include a record room, which shall contain the names of all [423] Irish officers and men of the army, navy and air force who fought and fell for their country. To make the memorial worthy of its lofty object, and a really national one, it is essential that contributions be received from all parts of Ireland.”

We received contributions from all parts of Ireland. We will deal with the money part of it later. At that time, as everybody here knows, affairs in Ireland became very unsettled, and it was quite impossible to go on with the scheme. In the meanwhile, some 16 or 17 different proposals were from time to time put forward. I will mention some of them:—

A monument or cenotaph be erected in some conspicuous place in Dublin; such monument or edifice (which might take the form of an arch, gate or fountain) erected in Merrion Square or Rutland Square, the square being acquired and opened to the public as a memorial; a memorial hall or building which would contain records of fallen soldiers, with or without suitable decorations, trophies or paintings by Irish artists. Amongst the proposals were:—Buildings for ex-Servicemen on the lines of Iveagh House; a park, say, at Leopardstown, for model villages and workshops for disabled ex-Servicemen; erection of halls or clubs at Killester, Cork, and Belfast; establishment in Dublin of a junior officers' club; schemes for memorial charitable funds for the benefit of ex-soldiers, etc.

Everything that could possibly be thought of was suggested. There was one part of it with which Senator Sir William Hickie was connected. It was proposed to contribute towards the erection of stone crosses to replace the wooden crosses in the battle fields of France, Flanders and Gallipoli in memory of the Irish Divisions. Then came the troubled years 1920-21-22, in which it was impossible to go on. We then proceeded to collect the records of the men who had fallen. We took some years to do that, and it was a very expensive proceeding, but eventually we got the names of practically all the Irish officers and men in any service who had fallen in the war. We had those records put into shape, and [424] had a few copies of them beautifully bound. One was presented to his Majesty the King, and I believe it is in the British Museum, and I think another copy was presented to His Holiness the Pope; and one to Saint Patrick's. They have been distributed in places where they are available to everybody. Copies were sent to clubs and other places where relatives of the soldiers can see them easily. That cost about £5,000, and meant years of work. When the times began to settle down, in November, 1923, a meeting of the General Committee was held to consider what form the memorial should take. After long discussion the following resolution was passed:—

“That the consideration of the application of the capital of the funds be postponed for the present, and that the Executive Committee be authorised to take such steps as are in their discretion necessary to ascertain and give effect to the wishes of the subscribers, and to enable the Committee in the meantime to apply the income to the purpose for which the funds were collected or to purposes similar thereto.”

In pursuance of this resolution a sub-committee was appointed consisting of Lady Arnott, Mr. Lewis Beatty, Mr. Serjeant Hanna (as he then was), Captain Harrison, Senator James Moran, and Colonel Steele. They were to consider all the proposals for the application of the funds which had been submitted to the Executive Committee. A letter was received from the Legion of Irish ex-Servicemen forwarding a resolution, and I take it that is the letter to which Senator Sir William Hickie referred. The resolution forwarded to the Executive Committee by the Legion of Irish ex-Servicemen was as follows:—

“That the National Executive Council of the Legion of Irish ex-Servicemen, having heard from their president details of the situation with regard to the National War Memorial Fund, wish to place on record the universal wish of the Council that the memorial should take the form of a statue, obelisk or cenotaph of exceptional beauty and [425] grandeur, sited in some central part of the City of Dublin; that such monument should include adequate recognition of the deeds of the 10th, 16th and 36th Divisions, and of all Irishmen who served in the Royal Navy, the Royal Artillery, Engineers, Air Force, Tanks, Machine Gun Corps, and all Corps and Departments of Armies in the field. They are unanimously in favour of the payment of a portion of the cost of the erection of the battlefield memorials in France, Flanders and Serbia.”

After full consideration the Committee recommended that the scheme for the National Memorial should be on the following lines:—

“(1) That a committee of trustees, not exceeding five in number, approved of by the Court be appointed and authorised to acquire, by purchase or otherwise, the interest of Lord Pembroke and the Commissioners of Merrion Square in the private park known as Merrion Square. (2) That the Committee of Trustees be authorised to convert the square when purchased into a public park or garden to be called ‘Memorial Park.’ (3) That the Committee of Trustees be authorised to erect in the centre of the park a memorial, monument or cenotaph of an appropriate and beautiful character; to erect at each corner of the park a wrought iron entrance gate of a suitable emblematic character, and to provide for railings or fences if considered necessary. (4) That the Committee of Trustees be authorised to take such steps by legal proceedings or Private Bill as may be necessary to enable this scheme to be carried out. (5) That the park, when completed, be handed over to the State for maintenance in pursuance of the scheme.”

With regard to battlefield crosses, the Committee recommended that approval be obtained for the expenditure of a sum of £1,500 for the erection of three battlefield crosses. A meeting of the Executive Committee was held on the 21st March, 1924, when the following [426] resolution, proposed by the ex-Lord Chief Justice for Ireland, and seconded by Senator Moran, was passed:—

“That the Executive Committee approve of the scheme recommended by the sub-committee and direct that it be submitted to a meeting of the General Committee to be held in the Shelbourne Hotel on the 28th March, 1924.”

Notices of the meeting were posted to all members of the Committee, and 250 were distributed. A meeting of the General Committee was held in the Shelbourne Hotel on the 28th March, when the following resolution, which was proposed by Dr. Storey and seconded by Major O'Hara, was passed:—“That this meeting approves of the scheme recommended by the Executive Committee.” A sub-committee was authorised to take all steps necessary to obtain the approval of the Court and carry the scheme into effect. We then approached the Minister for Finance. He said it was not a State matter, and that we should approach the Commissioners of the city. We did approach them, and they asked us to put in writing our proposals and they would reply to them. We then, in a letter to the Town Clerk, stated our proposals. They were:—

That the Committee acquire the interests of Lord Pembroke and the Commissioners of Merrion Square in the private park known as Merrion Square; that the Square when purchased should be converted by the Committee into a public park to be called Memorial Park; that in the centre of the park a memorial monument or cenotaph of an appropriate and beautiful character be erected; that at each corner of the park a wrought iron entrance gate of a suitable emblematic character be erected, etc.; that the park, when fully completed, be handed over to the Corporation for maintenance in perpetuity as a memorial park. In the event of the Corporation deciding to accept the gift it would be necessary for the Committee to obtain sanction of the High Court to the application of the funds in the hands in the manner proposed. [427] Owing to the constitution of the Merrion Square Commissioners they would have no power to transfer the Square without the passing of an Act of the Oireachtas, the expense of obtaining which the Committee would, subject to the approval of the Court, be prepared to undertake. Some of the inhabitants of the Square desire to have rights reserved to them in respect of the use of lawn tennis courts at present in the Square, and the Committee understand that the Corporation are not empowered to take over property subject to rights of this nature, and it is proposed that sections dealing with the matter might be inserted in the suggested Act.

Sir Frederick Moore went over the Square that year, and he advised us that it could be made into a beautiful park, and he estimated that the cost of upkeep would be about £1,200 per year.

The amount, at that time available, for carrying out the obligation was a sum of £40,000. This is the reply that I received from Mr. Murphy, the Town Clerk of Dublin, on behalf of the Commission:—

“I have to acknowledge your letter of the 4th instant, which I placed before the Commissioners, and to which they have given careful consideration. They have instructed me to inform you that they are prepared to accept as a gift to the city the ground now comprising Merrion Square, subject to the conditions laid down in your letter.

“The Commissioners have had before them a report from the City Engineer as to the state of the railings surrounding the Square, which, in his opinion, require an outlay of about £300 to put them in proper condition. The Commissioners are hopeful that the War Memorial Committee will see their way to undertake this outlay, and so hand over the Square in perfect order. The Commissioners desire me to add on behalf of the citizens their grateful thanks to the War Memorial Committee for this valuable gift.”

[428] And then they wrote another letter stating the conditions upon which they would accept the gift. The reason we are asking the House to pass the Second Reading of this Bill is because it is necessary if we are to comply with the wishes of the Commissioners:—

“That the sanction of the High Court shall be obtained by the Committee for the National War Memorial to the application of the fund in their possession in the manner proposed; that as soon as the approval of the High Court is obtained the necessary steps shall be taken ... empowering the Commissioners to secure Merrion Square and to transfer the property; that with reference to the desire expressed by some of the residents of the Square to have certain rights reserved for them in respect of the use of the lawn tennis courts in the Square ... the Corporation are not empowered to take over property subject to rights of that nature. It would be advisable that a section dealing with this matter should be introduced into the Act.”

We proceeded to act upon that, and entered into communication with Lord Pembroke's agent. Lord Pembroke could not give more than two acres as a free gift, but he charged the lowest price he possibly could, namely, £800, for the rest of his rights in the Square. So far as Lord Pembroke is concerned, he fell in with all we desired, and gave us the Square for a very small sum of money. Then there was an agreement made between Lord Pembroke and the representatives of the Irish National War Memorial. The names of the people who acted for the Irish National War Memorial may interest the House. I myself was one of the Trustees, then there were Mr. Lewis Beatty, Senator Moran, Mr. Justice Hanna, Lady Arnott, Colonel Steele, V. Brew Mulhallen, Capt. Harrison, and Major-General Sir Wm. Hickie; and the Standing Committee of the Irish National War Memorial. These are the people who carried through the scheme and signed the agreement. We made the necessary legal arrangements to [429] broke, and then we carried out the arrangements with the Commissioners of the Square. I do not think I need trouble the House with all the details of the Commissioners' liabilities.

They had certain debentures running out, which we had to clear off. We had to free the inhabitants of the Square from the Square tax, and as far as money matters were concerned, we entered into amicable arrangements with everybody affected. Then, after everything was in order, for we had taken great care first of all to get the consent of everybody connected with the putting up of the money and the subscribing of the funds of which we were trustees, we went to the Court and got the approval of the High Court. The President of the High Court heard the case; the Attorney-General appeared against us, and everybody who wished to oppose the scheme could have their case put before the Court.

After arguments were heard the President made an order which I am not lawyer enough to interpret for you, but I daresay if there is any further opinion required upon that, Senator Brown will tell us about it. At any rate, it was decided that the debentures, £3,786, were to be discharged and cleared off; the Square tax was to be removed. the employees were to be settled with and all arrangements completed. The Secretary's liabilities to the Commissioners were secured. Then we got Sir Frederick Moore's opinion as to what it would cost to carry out the scheme. Sir Frederick told us that to alter the Square somewhat on the lines of Stephen's Green, but without the water scene, we would have to spend something like £10,000 to make it a really beautiful garden square. We then took the opinion of Mr. Sheridan as to the cost of a memorial, and he said that we could erect a monument for another £10,000.

Merrion Square covers about eleven acres. To put the present railing round that into proper repair with four memorial gates, and to do all that is necessary to make it into a park like Stephen's Green, would cost another £8,000. I will give the figures now as to the amount of money we had and how we administered it. The total [430] sum collected amounted to £41,575. The trustees were Mr. Lewis Beatty and myself, and we handled the money for the last eight years. By investing in short-dated securities and other ways up to the spring of last year, we collected £10,490 by way of interest. That covered the expenses of collection and the cost of printing of the records. Our administrative expenses outside of this during these eight years amounted to £2,548. We had the aid, of course, of several members of our Committee, and Lady Arnott gave us the constant use of her house, and in that way we managed to avoid greater expenditure. In these eight years we spent about £300 a year on the secretariat, including the issue of leaflets.

We had our accounts audited by Messrs. Stokes Bros. and Pim last year. We now have in hands £42,000 in 5 per cent. National War Loan, worth about £44,500, and we have about £2,000 in cash, so that in all we have about £46,500 now. Taking the expenditure set out here as a necessary part of the Merrion Square scheme I think it would be quite possible to have enough money to put up in the Phoenix Park a monument that might rightly and reasonably be comparable to the London Cenotaph in answering all the requirements of the military authorities. I think it well to draw the attention of the House to the fact that our Committee has never thought it right, even if we could not carry out the Home for the reasons I have given, to leave out of view the utility of the appeal made to our subscribers. There is no difference between Senator Moran and myself and Senator Sir William Hickie as to the desirability of a memorial.

We all want a memorial, but we do differ in this that the Committee have thought it right that a lot of the money should not be spent in bricks and mortar on a monument like the Wellington monument, but that on the contrary we should try in spending it to benefit some section of the community. We believe in this Merrion Square scheme we have attained that object. On one side of Merrion Square and indeed all round there is a very [431] poor neighbourhood. Let anyone look at it now with its locked gates and huge palings and let them ask themselves what use is it to the inhabitants except to a few people who go there to play lawn tennis. It is deteriorating year after year and is a credit neither to the square nor tho the city, and I think the expenditure of this money for the purpose of turning it into a beautiful park, opening it up to the public and to the children in the same way as Stephen's Green is available is certainly a very useful object of which I believe the citizens of Dublin as far as we know will highly approve.

That will be accompanied undoubtedly with a beautiful building of a reasonable size in the centre as a war memorial where our records will be kept and where anyone can come and see the name of his dead relative. That can be accomplished and I should be sorry and very sorry indeed that the House should refuse even to give a Joint Committee of both Houses a chance of hearing this whole subject debated before them and hearing what real objections can be put up against such a useful scheme going forward. You have to look at the other side. Supposing the opponents of this scheme succeed, where are we? They cannot get the money. This scheme which has years of working behind it cannot go forward; if a scheme which is going to improve one of Dublin's Squares and make it a beautiful object instead of what it is; if the erection of a beautiful memorial accompanying it is going to be rejected now, what can we expect the Committee to do, except to say: “We have failed; the Seanad will not let us even consider our Private Bill”? We would be compelled then to get at the names of people who sent us money and return their money to them. We would be able, of course, to give them some little interest on their money. I have a record of one gentleman who sent up a sum of £500 because he was anxious that in a great national memorial his son's name should be recorded. After hearing of all this trouble and squabbling he wrote to say that he [432] would much rather get the money back, he would erect his own memorial in his own church to the memory of his son. I think that is a very fair expression of what must be in the minds of a great many of our subscribers and I must say that considering all the circumstances and the case put forward by the objectors and that put forward by the promoters the Seanad will in my opinion be stultifying itself if it refuses a Second Reading to this Bill now.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I hope the Seanad will not attempt to-day to judge the pros and cons of this question. As has been pointed out, the position in the case of a Private Bill is totally different from that of a Public Bill. It is generally recognised that in passing the Second Reading of a Public Bill you are, at any rate, approving of the principle. That is not the case in connection with a Private Bill. It is clearly laid down in the Private Bill Standing Orders, which I think very few members of the House read, that a Committee shall first receive evidence for the proving of the Preamble of the Bill, which means that the Committee must be satisfied of the merits of the Bill and of the demand for the Bill itself. I respectfully suggest to the House that without attempting to decide between Senators we should adopt the wise suggestion put forward by Senator Brown and send the Bill on to a Committee of both Houses, which has always been the case in connection with Private Bills, without attempting to judge the merits of the Bill. We had a case a short time ago in connection with the Apothecaries' Hall where a Bill passed its Second Reading Stage, but I do not imagine we thought that on that occasion we were thereby approving the Bill. The Bill was sent to a Select Committee, and its opponents made a case which enabled the Committee to decide that the Preamble was not proved, and no more was heard of the Bill.

I personally have not formed any opinion on the differences referred to. I know nothing about the whole matter. I am not in the position of Senators who have spoken, and I find it extremely difficult to form an opinion [433] on the merits of the proposals simply on the speeches heard here to-day. I should like to hear Senators Sir William Hickie and Sir Bryan Mahon cross-questioning Senator Jameson and vice versa before a Joint Committee. Further, I should like to hear the evidence of other people who are interested in the proposal. I understand the Commissioners have lodged a petition to enable them to appear before the Committee to give their point of view. Then, again, you have the residents of Merrion Square who are interested, and I should like to hear them before forming an opinion. I suggest that if there was ever a case where Private Bill procedure was desirable it is in this case. Judging by what we have heard, I think the better course is to send the Bill to a Committee without attempting to prejudge it one way or another.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  Is it in order to discuss procedure before a hypothetical committee?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  It is quite in order.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  I desire certain information about the sending of this Bill to a Committee. Not very long ago a Bill, not a Private Bill, came before the Dáil and the Ceann Comhairle ruled that the principle of the Bill could not be interfered with after it came back from Committee. It could be interfered with before being sent to the Committee but he ruled that when it came back the principle could not be touched. It is to the principle of the Bill, I presume, that there is great objection in this case, from what we have heard. I want to know if it goes to a Select Committee, are we forfeiting our rights to alter the principle of the Bill? If we allow it to go through now, shall we still have the right when it comes back from the Select Committee to speak or vote against the principle of the Bill?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  The Deputy Chairman is in charge of legislation dealing with Private Bills and perhaps he would answer that question. He, perhaps, would be better qualified than I am to answer it.

[434]Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  If it fails you sir

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I have not said that.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  This is a question of which I would like to get notice. I would not like to answer the question offhand as to whether Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power's point could be upheld or not. The question was certainly never put to me before and I should like time to consider it.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I can only give you the benefit of my own opinion but I do not accept responsibility because I think the responsibility for a decision attaches to my colleague by reason of the position he occupies. My own impression is that if the Committee approve of the Preamble of the Bill and that the Bill passes Committee in that shape, and comes back here this House has not lost its right to reject it. I would not like to pronounce that opinion as a definite opinion.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  May I point out that the procedure here is the same as in the case of an ordinary Bill, such as the Bill to which Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power referred. The House would have power to reject it after it emerged from Committee.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I understood that the case to which Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power referred was a Private Bill.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  It was not a Private Bill.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I think the case the Senator refers to was one where the Bill had passed its Second Stage.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  And it could not be rejected on Third Reading?

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  If we are going to send this Bill to a Committee and pass the Second Reading of it, do we forfeit the right to alter the principle of it afterwards?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I want to be quite clear about this. I understood—I may be quite wrong—from Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power that the Ceann Comhairle had ruled that where a Bill, an ordinary [435] Public Bill, had been read a Second Time the House was not at liberty to throw it out on the Third Reading of the Bill.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  Yes, if the principle had been approved on the Second Reading.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  It does not matter in what stage it comes here. It can be thrown out.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  It is extremely difficult to enter into the implications of Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power's question but I am inclined to think that there must be some misunderstanding because certainly in the Imperial Parliament there is no objection whatsoever that I ever understood raised to the House rejecting on the Third Reading a Bill which passed the Second Reading.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  If the principle of the Bill was not interfered with?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  If the Bill is thrown out everything is gone—principle and everything.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  Would I be in order in suggesting that a vote be taken?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  We shall have a vote later on if the motion for the rejection of the Bill is insisted on. We shall have to take a vote just as in the case of a Public Bill, but Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power, in order to guide her in voting, was anxious to get information. I am not in a position, definitely, to say, but my own opinion is, that it would be within the power of this House, after this Bill is returned to them, to reject the Bill.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  We were asked to take the Committee Stage before the Second Reading.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  Oh, no, not at all. We have got to say to-day whether this Bill is to be read a second time or not. If we agree that it is to be read a second time, then it goes to the Committee. If we say it is not to get a Second Reading then the Bill is dead.

[436]Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  I understood Senator Douglas to suggest that it should go to a Committee before Second Reading.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  No, he suggests that it should be allowed to pass the Second Reading, and that it should go to a Committee.

Mr. BRADY: Information on Patrick J Brady  Zoom on Patrick J Brady  May I on a point of order, say that although I do not claim anything like the Parliamentary experience of my friend on my right, it seems to me that in another place the practice in the case of a Private Bill is to allow the Second Reading without prejudice to the rights of the House when it comes back.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I think that is constitutional law.

Mr. BRADY: Information on Patrick J Brady  Zoom on Patrick J Brady  And practice.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  It is constitutional law. The House has always control up to the last minute, that it receives it for final consideration and passes it. On the very Fifth Stage, the Last Stage, at the eleventh hour of any Bill, public or private, the House can, in my opinion, reject it.

Mr. BRADY: Information on Patrick J Brady  Zoom on Patrick J Brady  May I suggest, arising out of that, that a discussion on this Bill, at this stage of the Second Reading—for circumstances it is unnecessary to dwell on—is perhaps undesirable.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  That is a matter for debate, not a point of order.

Mr. BRADY: Information on Patrick J Brady  Zoom on Patrick J Brady  I suggest, as a matter of debate, it is undesirable as there seems to be a difference of opinion as to the merits of the Bill. In order to meet Senator Brown's views that the Second Reading could be passed subsilentio, the Bill being referred to a Select Committee, further discussion on its merits at the present moment would be avoided.

Mr. KENNY: Information on Patrick W Kenny  Zoom on Patrick W Kenny  The Second Reading of a Bill, public or private, is for the specific purpose of approving of the principle or the Preamble of the Bill. We are limited to discussing the principles of the Bill—the Preamble. We [437] want to be clear if this Bill should be allowed to go through without further discussion and be sent before a Committee, as has been suggested by some Senators, whether, when it comes back here we will be precluded from taking up the discussion on the principle or Preamble of the Bill, or if by virtue of what we are going to do now when it comes back here, we can only interfere with it by way of amendment on Committee. I want to get this point clear. We are now dealing with this Bill on Second Reading. Will it still remain in the same position, and can we continue to discuss the principle of the Bill after it comes back to us from Committee?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I want to explain that I am not prepared to make a definite and orthodox statement on the subject. However, I can give you what I have understood from my own experience of eighteen years in the House of Commons. I cannot recall any case in which a Private Bill after it passed Committee was subsequently rejected. There may have been cases, but I cannot recall them. I cannot see, in the nature of things, how the control of this House, which is to operate on a Private Bill, by passing it through its subsequent stages—its control to throw it out if it wishes even at the last moment—is interfered with. There are cases—I want to be quite explicit about that—and there have been cases in my own experience where the House has declined to give a Second Reading to a Private Bill. There were cases in which, as I say, the opposition was so great that the promoters actually withdrew the Bill when it was up for Second Reading. There was a case like that the other day—the proposal to transfer the seat of Covent Garden market elsewhere. The Bill was introduced as a Private Bill, but in the meantime the opposition became so strong that the promoters withdrew it, and it never reached Second Stage. Undoubtedly there have been cases where the House, on principle, has rejected the Second Stage of a Private Bill, but they have been rare. It is quite wrong to say that they have not occurred. As to what will be the position of this House, assuming that it [438] passes the Second Reading of this Bill and that the Committee finds the Preamble proved, I am not in a position to declare with any satisfaction to myself, because I am not really sure of the position.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  Would you, sir, instruct the House how to avoid that predicament?

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  Do you not think the House might find itself in the position that it could not reject the Bill on Third Reading?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I am not going to take up the position of saying that that is not so, but I do not think that is the case. Possibly if the House would let the matter stand until tomorrow we could throw some light on it.

Mr. GUINNESS: Information on Henry Seymour Guinness  Zoom on Henry Seymour Guinness  Might I ask for some enlightenment? We are dealing with a Private Bill which is different to any of the Bills we discussed before, and there are certain rules applying to Private Bill procedure which are totally different to the rules applying to ordinary Bills. It is proposed now that we should pass the Second Reading of this Bill, and that it should go before a Joint Committee of the two Houses. When it comes before that Committee, has the Committee power to vary or alter by amendment the original proposal in the Bill? It seems to me to turn very largely on that. Are they only empowered to decide, yea or nay, as to whether there shall be a memorial in Merrion Square or can they amend the Bill?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  The first thing they have got to determine is whether the Preamble of the Bill is proved. If the Preamble provides for a memorial in Merrion Square, and they hold that proved, the Committee will not alter that.

Mr. GUINNESS: Information on Henry Seymour Guinness  Zoom on Henry Seymour Guinness  So that there cannot be an amendment to that brought in by other parties?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I do not say that. If the promoters and the opponents of the Bill were to agree, an agreed clause might be inserted modifying [439] the scheme, and the Committee would accept it.

Mr. GUINNESS: Information on Henry Seymour Guinness  Zoom on Henry Seymour Guinness  If it is passed by the Joint Committee would that apply to the further Stages in this House? Will this House have power, on the Report Stage, by its own action, to alter the Preamble of the Bill, so that the memorial would take some other form than that proposed in the Bill? As far as I can gather, the debate as we heard it to-day is inconclusive in that matter. The Bill deals with a single form of memorial and there is no machinery, so far as I can understand, to vary it.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I do not believe that any Committee would ever so re-cast a Private Bill as to make it a wholly different proposal from that which came before them. I think if they find the Preamble proved they are committed to the principles of the Bill. I go the length that it would be safe to assume that this House would be entitled at any stage to reject this Bill.

Sir THOMAS ESMONDE: Information on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  Zoom on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  May I inform the Seanad that on one occasion, at all events, I threw out a Private Bill in the English House of Commons by a majority of three after it had come down from the Select Committee. It was a Private Bill, and I succeeded in getting it thrown out. I think that Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power may be perfectly satisfied that our Standing Orders in relation to Private Bills are the same as the Standing Orders across the water, at least in substance——

CATHAOIRLEACH:  Substantially they are. They differ in some things, but in substance they are the same.

Sir THOMAS ESMONDE: Information on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  Zoom on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  Supposing the Preamble is approved and that it returns from the Committee, that does not interfere in the least with the authority of this House over that Bill in its further stages, and even if the Preamble of a Private Bill is approved by the Select Committee, there is no reason—if this House does not like the [440] Bill—why it should not throw it out, or amend it. The thing has happened over and over again, and there is no reason why, in this country, we should act differently from what is done in other countries.

Mr. BARRINGTON: Information on William Barrington  Zoom on William Barrington  In order to clear up the difficulties which occur to the minds of Senators here, may I ask if, whether from your experience, you could not tell the House, though it is out of their power to amend the Preamble of the Bill, and whether it is a fact that by agreement between the promoters and opponents of the Bill, it has not often happened that the whole object of the Bill has been largely altered by the Committee? For instance, to make my meaning clear, supposing that it was considered undesirable to expend this large sum of money, which is now available, in bricks and mortar, flowers and tennis courts—and it was thought more desirable to apply some of that money, which is there, towards housing, or something of that sort, and depart from the original resolution— it would not be possible by agreement to embody that in the Bill, if the Committee would not have the power to do so——

CATHAOIRLEACH:  Any Committee that would do that would be very foolish and ill-advised. They would be passing a Bill entirely contrary to the Bill sent up to them. Further than that this case is complicated because before they could come into this House at all the promoters had to go into court and submit a scheme and that scheme has got the approval of the court. They could not change that scheme into any other scheme without the approval of the court, that is the Committee could not change without the approval of the court. The hands of the Committee are tied in this particular case by the fact that the allocation of this money in this particular way or in fact by any purpose other than the original scheme is impossible. They could not do it. That is what creates the difficulty here. Curiously enough on looking into May's Parliamentary Practice on the subject, the way the author puts it leaves Mrs. Senator Wyse-Power's [441] point quite vague. What it says is this: “On the Third Reading verbal amendments only may be made. In other respects this Stage is the same as that of a Public Bill. The House finally approves of the entire Bill.”

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  That would imply doubtless that it disapproves.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  It does not say so. That is why I say it is vague. At the same time I do think that the House, if it is dissatisfied by what has been done by the Committee, will be in a position to deal with that in any way they like when the Bill comes before them at any other Stage. But so far as any substantive alteration of this Bill goes I do not think that that is practicable even by agreement if it would depart materially from the promoters' scheme, because it was that scheme, and that scheme only, that received the sanction of the court, and without the sanction of the court this money cannot be applied to any but the original purpose, and that original purpose has now become impossible.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  No other scheme was put before the court but this one.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  Do we preclude the supporters having an alternative scheme—if we pass the Second Reading do we make it impossible for the promoters at any time to adopt an alternative scheme or to allocate part of the money to some other scheme?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  Certainly, because the promoters have committed themselves to this. It will be their bounden duty to carry it out. If this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament they will have no powers but the powers conferred by the Act.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  So that any other relief of the relatives of the dead will be shut off by an Act of this House?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  Certainly not. That is precluded by the Bill.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I thought Senator Gogarty's point was rather that if we [442] passed the Second Stage we would preclude——

CATHAOIRLEACH:  No. The Senator's point is quite plain—that if we pass this Bill now on the Second Reading and it goes to the Committee, and the Committee practically sanctions the proposals of the promoters in the form in which they are now down on the Bill, can the promoters subsequently, after that Bill has passed, dispose of the money for purposes other than those in the Bill? I say not.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  Can they not go into court a second time?

CATHAOIRLEACH:  They can go back to the court and say, “Here is the Bill, and now we cannot apply it.” They could ask for approval for a new scheme and prepare a new Bill.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  Cannot the promoters withdraw the Bill at any time —could they not do so by not paying the fees? If they decline to pay the fees the Bill goes no further.

Mr. BROWN: Information on Samuel Lombard Brown  Zoom on Samuel Lombard Brown  If this Bill is rejected to-day the promoters will have to go back to the court.

Dr. GOGARTY: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  That is necessary at all events in any case.

Mr. BROWN: Information on Samuel Lombard Brown  Zoom on Samuel Lombard Brown  You will have to satisfy the court that the alternative scheme is cy prés, that is one near enough to the original one.

Dr. BARNEVILLE: Information on Henry Leo Barniville  Zoom on Henry Leo Barniville  I was very much interested in the remarks made by Senator Brown, but despite what he has said, I take it that the straight issue before the House is the question of giving a Second Reading to this Bill. Senator Brown has pleaded for a certain amount of leniency in the consideration of this Bill. He has pleaded for that leniency on certain grounds— grounds which I do not think are quite sufficient. He mentioned that Bills are introduced by private people, and that these Private Bills are entitled to consideration by the Committee. Now I enter a strong protest against this Bill as a whole. I do that personally, and I do it also as representing a very large body of the residents of Merrion [443] Square. We can deduce from the arguments used here the reasons for the opposition, but I think that in view of the reasons that we have heard from our soldier colleagues on this Senate, whose views should carry more weight on this matter than the views of other Senators, we should not pass the Second Reading.

I think that the consideration of the Second Reading of this Bill should be a straight issue. The residents in Merrion Square are opposed in this Bill for two reasons. There are two principles involved. The first principle is that we do not want that historic Merrion Square labelled with a tag around our necks, with the airs and graces of Lady 1927. She may have a certain amount of seediness and respectable daintiness; but that daintiness and seediness is a distinct asset in preserving her value. The second reason has been enlarged upon by Senator Sir Bryan Mahon. There is no doubt there are certain points of view still in this country which many of us regard as already old-fashioned prejudice; as bigoted, but still there is no denying that these points of view are there, and held very strongly indeed. We feel, and we are entitled to feel, that these points of view, particularly at times of political disturbance, would lead to commotion, demonstration and counter-demonstration in our Square, and even if those things do not lead to disturbance of the peace, we fear that the very fact that such disturbances might occur would lead to a depreciation in the value of our property. These are the two main reasons why we are opposed to the Bill. Senator Brown has pleaded for leniency with regard to the consideration of this Bill on the grounds that the matter should be more fully considered.

In that respect I want to enter a protest against the way in which the debate on this whole matter has gone. Senator Jameson has given an exhaustive description of the genesis of the whole movement from the point of view of the Legion and the War Memorial Committee. He told us of the amount of trouble that had been taken in regard to this matter. But it is strange that up to 1925 the residents of Merrion [444] Square had heard nothing at all about this. The first we heard of it was when we were summoned to a meeting in the month of December, 1925, not to discuss the project, not to consider the project, but to approve of it. It was put before us as a cut-and-dried project. The agreement was drawn up between the War Memorial Committee and the Commissioners of Dublin City. We were asked to approve of it. We, and now I am speaking for myself and some of the residents, refused our approval, and we said we would do nothing until the Bill came to be passed in the Seanad and Dáil. Now we are told when the Bill does come up to be reconsidered from the Seanad that we should give it a Second Reading, that we should give the promoters every opportunity and hear the pros and cons. I strongly oppose this Bill, and I ask for a vote on a straight issue to-day. I ask for a decision one way or the other, a dismissal or approval of the Bill. I think we are entitled to that. Personally, I think the Bill ought to come once and for all before the House as a straight issue.

Dr. YEATS: Information on William Butler Yeats  Zoom on William Butler Yeats  I do not like to speak in this House unless on things I have studied—letters and art. On this occasion, however, I have no choice. I am a resident in Merrion Square. I attended the largely-attended meeting of the residents of Merrion Square to empower the Commissioners to negotiate over this matter. I have no memory for the details or the numbers at that meeting. I do not know how many people were there. I cannot even tell you the date of the meeting. But there were large numbers of residents of the Square at that meeting. I understood, too, that the larger number of those present signed the document necessary. Those of us who are in favour of the opening of the Square to the public—having the Square opened by this memorial scheme—have, I think, certain very strong arguments in our minds. We are all familiar with the argument that there might be a demonstration. We do not believe it, but if we did believe it, it would not influence us. We were not so selfish as to allow our own interests for a few years to interfere with what we believe to be [445] the welfare of the children of Dublin for all time to come.

Very occasionally, perhaps once a year, I go and walk in that Square. We use it very little, and I notice that there are generally children there who have no legal right to be there. The railing is in bad repair and they go in. I should like those children to have a legal right to play in that Square. I should like the Square to be made available for them. Almost every day I go round the waters in Stephen's Green. I know the great delight that that Square and these waters give children. It must enter into their life and memory for ever, and just as I do not think one ought to allow our temporary but possible discomfort for a few years to interfere with the opening of this Square, I do not think we should take too seriously the interests, the fancies or desires of even those admirable men who want a great demonstration upon Armistice Day. Armistice Day will recede. These men will not live for ever. I hope it is not going to become a permanent political demonstration in this country, to be carried on by the children of ex-Servicemen. It will grow less and less every year.

Then you have this question of the monument. I am not greatly interested in the question of the monument one way or the other but I should be very glad indeed if a dignified monument is put up in the Square or wherever the Committee decide, with the names of the men who served in the Great War. That seems to be an entirely worthy and noble ambition. Their great great grandchildren, perhaps a century hence, will go into the Square and point out the names of their ancestors upon that monument. That is a different thing from the annual demonstration of thousands in the midst of the city. I was very much surprised by something in Senator Sir Bryan Mahon's speech. He said that no matter what these ex-Servicemen were told to do they would if they preferred it, go and demonstrate in the middle of Merrion Square. Now 100,000 men do not go and demonstrate anywhere without being organised. He meant that there are ex-Servicemen who are prepared to [446] demonstrate against the orders of their own leaders because I refuse to believe that Senator Sir Bryan Mahon and Senator Sir William Hickie would order them to demonstrate against the direction of the city and of the Government in the midst of Merrion Square. No, they would rather order them to go to the replica of the Cenotaph, an exact replica of the one in Whitehall, which I understand the promoters of this measure are quite prepared to erect in the Phoenix Park. They would, as loyal citizens, not annoy the citizens in this way, but Senator Sir Bryan Mahon thinks that there are men who will organise against that, against their own leaders and the State, will hold their own memorial service and trample down the flowers in the midst of the Square. I am sorry to say that I cannot believe Senator Sir Byran Mahon. I think he is misrepresenting the ex-Servicemen. I do not think there are such men amongst them. I think he himself has been carried away by the propaganda against this memorial. I have heard no argument against it from any resident of Merrion Square except, precisely, this argument that men would demonstrate in the Square and destroy the place, make a noise, annoy the inhabitants of the Square and make them uncomfortable. I support the scheme very heartily because I do not believe that in 100 years any monument erected now will be very important. Wellington Monument is not in a sense a very important monument. But I believe in 100 years the Square will be there if this scheme is carried out for the health of the Dublin children and the delight of all the citizens.

Sir BRYAN MAHON: Information on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  Zoom on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  Senator Yeats suggested that I said we would sanction or organise a demonstration in Merrion Square against the wishes of the Government. I did not say that, but I repeat that a demonstration will take place on the 11th November where the memorial is and no matter where you put it up. I could not prevent that. I do not say that I would try to prevent it.

Dr. YEATS: Information on William Butler Yeats  Zoom on William Butler Yeats  Why not the alternative of a cenotaph and a memorial?

[447]Sir BRYAN MAHON: Information on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  Zoom on Hon Sir Bryan Mahon  I repeat for the information of the House, what I said before, that no matter what alternative is in view or no matter what alternative you put up, an assembly and demonstration will take place where the memorial is, whether it is in Merrion Square, Stephen's Green, or Phoenix Park. That is my belief.

Dr. YEATS: Information on William Butler Yeats  Zoom on William Butler Yeats  But 100,000 men will not gather unless by organisation.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Before refusing to give a Private Bill a Second Reading one should give the matter great consideration. I have tried to give consideration to this Bill. This particular Bill is basically founded on the decision of the High Court, and I think that this Bill, in Committee, could not be amended outside the scope and decision of the High Court. That is the opinion I formed with considerable care during the progress of the debate. Most Private Bills could be amended and made very different from what was meant by the promoters of the Bills. I do not think it would be possible to amend this Private Bill in Committee and keep within the decision of the High Court when completely altering the character of the Bill and making it a new one. For that reason I think the wisest course for the House would not be to give it a Second Reading. We were advised on one side or the other by residents in Merrion Square. Some desire it and some do not. One learned member said he, forsooth, was solely guided, and those connected with him, by care and thought for little children living in the neighbourhood. That is excellent and sublime. But if they were so guided they were still trying to preserve, for themselves, certain amenities in the form of tennis courts, and this magnificent Square was to be disfigured by portion being cut away so that wealthy citizens of Merrion Square should be exalted to the position of playng tennis, thereby preserving the right to be enclosed from the public gaze. For those reasons I think that this Bill should not get a Second Reading.

We have the opinion of the men most concerned—two men who fought [448] in the Great War. They are the men concerned with the interests of those for whom the memorial is intended. It is their strong conviction that the memorial is not desirable. For those reasons I think the House would be wise not to give a Second Reading to the Bill.

Mr. MORAN: Information on James Moran  Zoom on James Moran  I support the Second Reading of this Bill. I was for years a member of the Corporation and agitated for the opening of the public squares of this city. When this project was launched I thought it was an opportunity to get in the thin end of the wedge to get one of the Squares opened and to give the little children, off the alleys and byways of Merrion Square, a chance to breathe God Almighty's fresh air. Another reason I had for supporting this scheme was that practically 75 per cent. of the money would go in wages. For those two reasons I thought this scheme was the best and only one we could sanction and, therefore, I support it.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  There is one point in connection with this whole project that was not touched on by memorial are buying out the Square. They are going to ring off tennis courts for the inhabitants of the Square. The little children will not play in the tennis courts. What I want to draw attention to is that out of this large sum of money none has been put aside for the maintenance of the Square.

Mr. BROWN: Information on Samuel Lombard Brown  Zoom on Samuel Lombard Brown  The Corporation have undertaken to do that.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  Yes, but the Corporation will not do it without money, and the money spent in Stephen's Green last year and, in fact, since the present Government came into office to keep Stephen's Green in order, is £4,000 a year. I have looked over the estimates. If it takes £4,000 yearly to keep Stephen's Green in order, it will take at least £3,000 to keep Merrion Square.

Mr. MORAN: Information on James Moran  Zoom on James Moran  The estimate was £1,200.

Mrs. WYSE-POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  Who made the estimate?

[449]Mr. JAMESON: Information on Hon Andrew Jameson  Zoom on Hon Andrew Jameson  Sir Frederick Moore.

Mrs. POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  It is extraordinary that Merrion Square is to cost only £1,200, while Stephen's Green costs £4,000, to which was added last year £1,500, making the cost about £6,000 for the year. That was because potting houses had to be built there. Bearing that in mind, I do not think it is fair to ask the ratepayers to subsidise a memorial of this kind. It will be a subsidy of at least £1,200, the amount of the estimate. Senators know what estimates are, and Senator Moran, who was long enough in the Corporation, knows how they work out. I would say that at least £2,500 would be required yearly to keep Merrion Square in the same order as Stephen's Green, where there are no tennis courts. If the Memorial Committee want to have Merrion Square as a memorial they should have put aside sufficient money to maintain it. I cannot vote for the Second Reading under the circumstances.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  I am now in a position to answer the question that was put by Senator Mrs. Power. If this Bill passes the Second Stage it will be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses. If that Joint Committee agrees on a report, that report has to be considered in this House on what is called the Fourth Stage of the Bill. The Fourth Stage is confined to this [450] House exclusively, and it has power, if it wishes then, to reject the Bill.

Mr. O'FARRELL: Information on John Thomas OFarrell  Zoom on John Thomas OFarrell  Those of us who have no feelings in regard to this measure, and who have approached the question with a perfectly open mind, have been swayed alternately by the arguments for and against the Bill. I was very much impressed by the arguments of Senator Sir Bryan Mahon and Senator Sir William Hickie regarding the objections to the Bill. I was also impressed by the very able arguments of Senator Jameson. My principal consideration is that, if possible, the money that is now available should be spent rather than returned to the subscribers. If it can be spent with some sense of public utility, I am in favour of enabling it to be spent. I would not be prepared, I think, to vote for the Bill if I thought it was incapable of being amended so as to meet the principal objections raised against it. I think that a case has been made, at all events for allowing the Bill to go to a Committee of both Houses, where the details can be fully discussed, the House reserving to itself the right to reject the Bill when it comes before it again, if it is not suitably amended. For that reason I am prepared to vote for the Second Reading, as I think it is, at all events, worth while to have the merits discussed by a Joint Committee, while reserving the right to vote against the Bill if it is not amended so as to remove the principal objections advanced against it.

Question put.

J. Bagwell.
W. Barrington.
Sir E. Bigger.
S.L. Brown.
J.C. Counihan.
Countess of Desart.
J. Douglas.
Sir T. Esmonde.
Sir Nugent Everard.
M. Fanning.
Sir J. Griffith.
H.S. Guinness.
A. Jackson.
Rt. Hon. A Jameson.
Sir John Keane.
C. Kennedy.
J. Moran.
John T. O'Farrell.
W.B. Yeats.

T.W. Bennett.
H.L. Barniville.
P.J. Brady.
W. Cummins.
J.C. Dowdall. [451]J. MacKean.
General Sir Bryan Mahon.
W.J. Molloy.
Colonel Moore.
J. O'Connor.
M. Duffy.
Thomas Farren.
T. Foran.
Oliver St. J. Gogarty.
P.W. Kenny. [452]M.F. O'Hanlon.
B. O'Rourke.
Mrs. Wyse-Power.
Thomas Toal.

CATHAOIRLEACH:  Having regard to the general principle that a Bill of this kind should have an opportunity of running the gauntlet in Committee, without pronouncing any opinion whatever on the merits, I shall give my vote in favour of the Second Reading.


That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of both Houses be appointed to consider the Merrion Square (Dublin) Bill, 1927, being a Bill entitled an Act to enable the Commissioners of Merrion Square to convey and transfer to the Trustees of the Irish National War Memorial Trust the ground within Merrion Square in the City of Dublin and other property vested in the said Commissioners as such; and to provide for the transfer of the said ground to the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of Dublin from the said Trustees when the same has been laid out as a Public Park; and for other purposes connected therewith.

Ordered:—That a message be sent to the Dáil accordingly.

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