Adjournment Debate. - Constitution (Declaration of Unlawful Association) (No. 2) Order, 1933.

Wednesday, 13 December 1933

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 17 No. 28

First Page Previous Page Page of 16 Next Page Last Page

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  It is with no sense of satisfaction that I am raising this matter. If the Dáil were in session it would undoubtedly be much more appropriately dealt with in that House. The Dáil has adjourned until the end of next January, and the trend of events and the nature of those events make one speculate sometimes as to whether or not the Dáil will meet at the date appointed on its adjournment, or whether it may not be the policy and the intention of the Government to see that after that time, perhaps, neither that House nor this House of the Oireachtas shall be in session. I cannot speak with anything more than conjecture in that matter, but certainly this Government moves in a mysterious manner its wonders to perform, and we are entitled to evince curiosity which is perhaps of a somewhat unusual nature in dealing with the meanderings and exploits of an unusual Government. However, although the Dáil is adjourned, the Seanad is in session and I think it is not only wise but the duty of this House to consider and, if necessary, [2084] pass judgment upon public events, or events affecting the public, such as the one that I am going to refer to this evening, especially when this matter, as I think I shall be able to show, is of grave and urgent public importance. On last Friday a proclamation was issued by the Government which reads:—

“Whereas it is provided by sub-section (2) of Section 19 of Article 2a of the Constitution that an Order made by the Executive Council declaring that a specified association is, in the opinion of the Executive Council, an unlawful association shall be conclusive evidence for all purposes that such association is an unlawful association:

Now, the Executive Council in exercise of the powers conferred on them by sub-section (2) of Section 19 of Article 2a of the Constitution and of every and any other power them in, this behalf enabling, do hereby declare and order as follows:—

(1) The Association styling itself and generally known as the Young Ireland Association (also known as the Blue Shirts) is, in the opinion of the Executive Council, an unlawful association.

(2) The Interpretation Act, 1923 (No. 46 of 1923), applies to the interpretation of this Order in like manner as it applies to the interpretation of an Act of the Oireachtas.

(3) This Order may be cited for all purposes as the Constitution (Declaration of Unlawful Association) (No. 2) Order, 1933.”

Dublin. This 8th day of December, 1933.”

That proclamation raises matters of a very grave nature. It goes to the roots of the constitutional rights and liberties of the citizens of this State. I have here this Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act, under which the Government have acted. Section 19 is invoked as their authority. I want to recall to the attention of the House what is the nature of this section, what authority it grants to the Government. Undoubtedly, it does grant to the [2085] Government the power to proclaim certain organisations as unlawful associations, but it sets out in very specific and clear language the grounds upon which their action in that respect must be based. I want to prove before I sit down that the Government, in issuing that proclamation, have exceeded the authority conferred on them in this section of this Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act. Part IV deals with unlawful associations. Sub-section (1) of Section 19, to which this proclamation refers, reads as follows:—

(1) Every association which does any of the following things shall be an unlawful association, that is to say:—

(a) has amongst its professed objects, or advocates or encourages, or professes to encourage the overthrow by force of the Government of Saorstát Eireann or the alteration by force of this Constitution or the law; or

(b) without lawful authority organises or maintains or endeavours or purports to organise or maintain an armed force; or

(c) promotes or encourages the unlawful possession of fire-arms by its members; or

(d) engages in, promotes, encourages, or advocates any act, enterprise, or course of action of a treasonable or seditious character, or promotes, encourages, or advocates the attainment of any object of a treasonable or seditious character; or

(e) promotes, encourages, or advocates the commission of offences or the obstruction or interference with the administration of justice or with the enforcement of the law; or

(f) promotes, encourages, or advocates the non-payment of moneys payable to the Central Fund or any other public fund whether by way of taxation or otherwise or the non-payment of local taxation.

Sub-section (2) states:—

An order made by the Executive Council declaring that a specified association is, in the opinion of the Executive Council, an unlawful association [2086] shall be conclusive evidence for all purposes that such association is an unlawful association.

Common sense will surely make it clear that sub-section (2) is governed by sub-section (1). If it was not qualified or governed by sub-section (1) then it would confer upon the Government most arbitrary powers—powers that would jeopardise and subvert the rights and liberties of any organised section of the community—the Church or any other organised body, such as the Knights of Columbanus. I presume, however, that the Minister is going to argue that their opinion that such an association is an unlawful association is based upon the commission of some of the offences enumerated in this sub-section (1) by the association in question. I for one shall listen with great interest to the Minister in his efforts to demonstrate that. I assert emphatically that not a single one of the provisions of sub-section (1) from (a) to (f) can be made the basis of a charge against the association which was proclaimed last Friday night.

If the Minister contests my allegation, I want him to give us proof that my contention is wrong. I want him to give proof that that association— the Young Ireland Association—advocates or encourages, or professes to encourage, the overthrow by force of the Government of Saorstát Eireann, or the alteration by force of this Constitution or the law. I want him to give us proof that this organisation, without lawful authority, organises or maintains, or endeavours or purports to organise or maintain an armed force. I want him to give us proof that it promotes or encourages the unlawful possession of firearms by its members. I want him to give us proof that it engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates any act, enterprise or course of action of a treasonable or seditious character, or promotes, encourages or advocates the attainment of any object of a treasonable or seditious character. I want the Minister to give us proof that this association promotes, encourages or advocates the commission of offences or the obstruction or [2087] interference with the administration of justice or with the enforcement of the law. I want him to give us proof that this association promotes, encourages or advocates the non-payment of moneys payable to the Central Fund or any other public fund, whether by way of taxation or otherwise, or the non-payment of local taxation. I challenge the Minister to prove that the Young Ireland Association can be indicted on a single one of these counts. I assert that if he fails to prove that he will show himself guilty of misusing the authority conferred upon him for the purpose of striking, not at an association which was a danger to the State, but of striking at what his Government considered to be a formidable political force opposed to their own organisation. I have challenged the Minister to do that. I may be able to assist him in making his case, if there is a case.

On 30th November, the Government set out, presumably, to discover the grounds upon which they were to proclaim this organisation. They made numerous raids and “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” On the evening when these spectacular events took place, this search for treasonable evidence against the Young Ireland Association, there was a discussion on the adjournment in the other House. I presume that the Minister on that occasion stated as fully as he could the case he had to make against the Young Ireland Association. He made a great parade of documents. His words, in introducing some of these documents, seemed very ominous—as if he had something that would damn the association for all time. When one reads over this statement of the Minister for Justice, when one weighs up all that he said on that occasion—I think I am entitled to presume that he presented the most effective case he could; if not, he did not treat the House to which he was speaking with the full confidence which the occasion merited—there is not one iota of evidence that could be construed as a semblance of conspiracy to effect any [2088] of the objects set out in Section 19 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act. The Minister had one great find, apparently. I pass no comment upon the manner in which this search for evidence was conducted. I should like, however, to refer to its results. The Minister said on that occasion: “Arms were got and ammunition was got.” He did not tell the House—I do not think there has been any disclosure from Government quarters yet —the extent of the supply of arms and ammunition got in these raids. I am informed—I should like to know if my information is correct—that the arms that were secured in that series of raids consisted of one old revolver in an isolated village in the Midlands. I am informed that the ammunition that was got consisted of two boxes of sporting ammunition in Commandant Cronin's office which Commandant Cronin denies having any knowledge of and alleges was planted in his office. I should like to know if that is a correct estimate of the amount of arms and ammunition captured in these heroic raids. At all events, a serious step has been taken by the Government—the proclamation of an unarmed, non-military body. If what I am asserting to-night cannot be rebutted, then the Government stand convicted of acting in an arbitrary manner and of prostituting the powers they possess for Party political purposes. That is a serious charge to make and it is only the gravity of the possible consequences of this action by the Government that impels me to make it. They will have to justify their action by facts, not by mere assertions. There is no security of constitutional right for any citizen of the State if constitutional rights and liberties are to be the plaything of any Minister.

This Act to which I have referred was introduced for very serious reasons at a very serious time in the history of this country. Public memory seems to be rather limited in its duration, and it may not recall the circumstances of the time; it may have forgotten that when that Bill was introduced there was an atmosphere, an environment, of outrage, assassination and violence [2089] which was taking a stranglehold upon this country, and which threatened to smash not only the morale but everything that was worth while in this State. Some months ago a discussion was initiated here on a motion by Senator Sir John Keane. At that time I recalled a statement made by the President of the Executive Council in 1931 when introducing this measure. Because of the length of the speech I did not inflict it upon the House; I merely made certain brief references to it. I should like, however, to make more lengthened references to that statement to-night in order that we can get a clearer, a more graphic picture of what were the circumstances and conditions that necessitated the introduction of that measure and contrast them with the conditions of to-day which are alleged to have necessitated the action of the Government on last Friday. It might be well if Senators would consider how far the conditions on both occasions compare.

The then President of the Executive Council, Mr. Cosgrave, made an important statement on 14th October, 1931. I will read certain extracts from that statement, extracts which give an idea of the general tenor of his remarks:—

“When the Bill becomes law no hardship or disability of any kind will be imposed on any law-abiding individual or section of the community whatever his or their political opinions may be. Nothing in the Bill forbids the advocacy of any political ideas. We only ask that the advocate shall not speak with a gun in his hand.”

Further on he made this statement:—

“Since the commencement of the present year—that is, during a period of less than ten months—numerous dumps of arms and ammunition have been discovered by the police; several murders and attempted murders have been effected; drilling has become common all over the country and numerous miscellaneous crimes perpetrated. Let me give a summary of the crimes during that period.

“On the 30th January, Patrick [2090] Carroll was murdered by armed men at Captain's Lane, Crumlin. He was a member of the I.R.A., but was discovered by that organisation to have been giving information to the police. Deputies will remember that an attempt was made to attribute this murder to the police, who were in fact attacked during his funeral. On 21st March, Superintendent Curtin was murdered by armed men at Tipperary as he was returning home from duty at night. He had conducted a local prosecution for illegal drilling shortly before. On 20th July, John Ryan of Tipperary was taken by armed men at night from the house where he was employed, and murdered on the roadside and the body left there. He had made statements to the police in connection with the same drilling charge as led to the murder of Superintendent Curtin. John Ryan was murdered because he refused to commit perjury. For these crimes it has been impossible to make any person amenable.

“On 23rd April, at night, two young men crossing the Dublin mountains were fired upon by an armed drilling party and one of them was severely wounded.

“On 1st August shots were fired into a dance hall at Drumreilly, County Leitrim.

“On 12th September Mr. William McInerney, of Kilrush, was fired at when entering his own house and seriously wounded.

“On 15th September shots were fired into the house of the State Solicitor for County Clare.

“On 18th July warders from Mountjoy Prison were attacked, whilst off duty, by armed men and one of them was handcuffed to an iron rail and chained by the neck and legs.

“On 11th October, an attempt was made by armed men to release the brothers Gilmore from Mountjoy Prison. Five or six armed men entered a house adjoining the prison and held up the occupants.”

There are two columns of these events and outrages. I do not want to [2091] weary the House unduly, but these were the circumstances that necessitated the passing of that Act. It was the necessity of facing up to, grappling with and smashing an organisation out to intimidate citizens, not merely by violence but by murder and assassination; it was to grip, to strangle and end for ever such a conspiracy that the Act was put on the statute book.

Is the Minister going to tell us, will anyone who speaks for the Government tell us to-night that the circumstances surrounding the Young Ireland Association have any parallel with the circumstances existing in 1931 which necessitated the introduction of that measure? Will anyone here have the temerity to try to make that comparison or parallel? I am fully aware that we are not free yet from violence, from acts of intimidation and outrage. But there is this peculiarity. These incidents—these events; they are something more than incidents—have been very numerous indeed, but there is this singular aspect of these events, that in so far as the members of the Young Ireland Association have been identified with them, they have been the victims, not the perpetrators, of these outrages and acts of violence. I have here a list, only a partial list, of acts of violence, many of which have been attacks upon the members of the Young Ireland Association. I am quite prepared to go through this list if that is deemed desirable.

In last night's Evening Mail there is a record of

“an extraordinary tale of a holdup on a lonely country road in County Waterford told to-day to the Civic Guards at Kill, a village situated between Tramore and Bonmahon. After midnight a man named Bolton, a native of the Kill district, entered the Civic Guard Barracks in apparently a very excited and agitated condition and lodged a complaint of having been held up by armed and masked men. Bolton stated when he was returning home from Kill, sometime after 11 o'clock, he was challenged by four men who wore black masks across their [2092] mouths and noses. They were apparently, according to the man's story, lying in ambush.... Bolton stated that they questioned him at length regarding his movements and were particularly anxious to know if he was a member of the Young Ireland Association known as ‘Blueshirts.’ Bolton stated he vigorously denied he was a member of any association.... Apparently they would not believe his statement and, failing to get an affirmative answer as to his alleged connection with the ‘Blueshirts,’ they turned upon him and beat him severely about the body with clenched fists.”

That is last night. Possibly they were trying to implement the Minister's proclamation against the Young Ireland Association or, perhaps, it is only what Judge Meredith would call one of the instances in the economic war that another country has forced on us. We have in to-day's papers the decision of the Military Tribunal regarding one of the men who was the driver of a motor car which was engaged by men for the purpose of inflicting an outrage upon one Daniel Welsh, who was beaten, taken away in a motor car and tarred. This man has got nine months suspensory sentence.

“On the 7th October, 1933, several young men going to a Fine Gael dance in the Mansion House were attacked. Henry Doyle and John C. Mulvey alighted from a Rathfarnham tram at Hume Street and were set upon by a number of men carrying sticks from which nails protruded. Both sustained head wounds and were treated in Mercer's Hospital.

“On the 17th October a barn belonging to Mr. Henry Goonan, secretary of the Fine Gael branch, Ballingar, Woodford, County Galway, was attacked by armed men and shots fired through the windows and doors, wounding five of the dance party. Two men were seriously injured.

“On October 30th, at Bandon, Denis O'Leary, member of the Fine [2093] Gael, was taken from his home at night by armed and masked men, beaten, escaped and fired after. His father was struck and felled by a blow on the head from a cudgel by one of the raiders. Hugh O'Reilly, of Innishannon, near Bandon, was also taken from his home on the same night by armed and masked men and beaten severely.

“On the 30th October, there was a raid on the house of a Fine Gael supporter (John Hanlon in Kilrooskey, Roscommon) by 16 armed and masked men. Three of the party were taken out, Herbert Tracey, John T. Tracey and —— Casey. A scuffle took place and John Hanlon received a bullet in the lung. William Tracey was badly injured about head and body.

“On November 22nd, Henry Mongan, aged 70, vice-chairman of a branch of Fine Gael who presided at a meeting addressed by Messrs. P. Hogan and John Brodrick was set upon and assaulted by a number of men, ten or 12 (some of whom it is alleged fired in the air) when returning home about 9.30 with his brother Thomas, aged 63. Mongan got a black eye and an injury to his ear. When the Mongans arrived home they found that their home, in which their sister was alone, had been attacked and the windows broken with stones.”

Now, sir, I could go on reading for the next hour incidents or events or outrages of that kind. I do not propose to stand too long between the Minister and his opportunity of explaining or justifying the action of the Government. I want to draw the attention of the House to this and I want to repeat that in every event of disturbance with which the members of the Young Ireland Association have been connected, they have figured either as victims of the disturbance of the peace, or as those who wish to preserve law and order, and prevent a disturbance of the peace. I have here a most illuminating extract from a speech by the present Minister for Justice. It was uttered on the 14th October, 1931, when he was denouncing this Act which he now undertakes to support:—

[2094]“You might at least make some attempt when you are bringing in a measure of this sort to give some concrete example rather than the vague, indefinite vapourings about the conditions of the country. One would imagine that the Minister for Justice at any rate would try to keep to some definite statement— some definite facts—and that he would have something to put before the House in the way of definite evidence.”

I am challenging the Minister to-night to produce something in the way of evidence to justify the action taken on last Friday. I am asking him to produce something in the way of evidence much more convincing than the statement which he made on the evening of November 30th. If the Dáil, instead of being a House of the Oireachtas, had been a court of law and if the Minister was indicting his opponents acting as counsel for the prosecution—if he were indicting his opponents before a jury and presented the statement that he made on November 30th, as a statement to convict the prisoners, I venture to say that, just as in the case of the Official Secrets Act, the jury would have returned a verdict of “not guilty” without leaving the box.

The Minister must not imagine either that he is dealing with children or that we have any belief whatever in the infallibility of the members of the Executive Council and especially the present Executive Council. They will have to take responsibility for their actions and they will have to prove before this State that these actions which they have taken and which have affected secretly the constitutional rights of the citizens, are taken in the interests of the State and not in the interests of Party manoeuvres. What is this body that has been banned? It is the Young Ireland Association, an association which I say again, and say with all the emphasis that I can command, is a non-military, un-armed association. It stands for the preservation of the State and for safeguarding the institutions of the State. It stands for the observance [2095] of the law and respect for the institutions of the State, for securing freedom of speech and the preservation of public order. It stands to give the rising youth of Ireland a clean, manly, healthy environment in which to exist and it stands, not least, for the end for ever of the rule of the gun bully in this country. That is what Young Ireland stands for. Speaking broadly, these are the objects of the association which was proclaimed last Friday night by the Executive Council.

I ask what conclusion are we to draw from the action of the Government in proclaiming such an organisation? If the preservation of the State, the maintenance of freedom of speech, the preservation of order and securing respect for the institutions of the State, and assisting in putting an end to the rule of the gun bully be crimes in the eyes of the Government, then we can only conclude that the Government do not wish the rule of the gun bully to end, that the Government do not wish to have freedom in this State for any except their own spokesmen and supporters, that the Government do not wish to have the preservation of order in the real democratic sense, and that they do not want this State to be preserved and maintained. If that is the conclusion that we are to draw, then all that one can say is that it is not the Young Ireland Association that has been engaged in a conspiracy against the State or that is engaged in a conspiracy against the State, but that it is the Executive Government itself which is engaged in a conspiracy against the State. If that is so, then I say that this proclamation of last Friday night is a challenge not to Young Ireland alone but to the whole civic sense of this State, to every decent man and woman who stand for honour and for constitutional liberty in this State. It is a challenge to these things, and it is a challenge which the Minister and his Government and his colleagues will find answered fully and well when they take that issue to the people. As I expect I shall have to make some further observations at the conclusion of the debate and as I wish to give the Minister an opportunity [2096] of vindicating his proclamation, I do not propose to say anything more at the moment.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I shall be very brief in the remarks which I wish to make. I consider that Senator Milroy was quite justified in moving the adjournment to discuss this matter which, to my mind, raises for the citizens of this country one of the most serious issues which we have had before us for many years. Senator Dowdall stated here quite recently that the passing of the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act by this House was one of the worst things that this House ever did. I was somewhat inclined to agree with him, but I think that before very long I shall be in complete agreement with him. But that, sir, is not the issue which we have now to decide. I am not at present a member of either the Fine Gael Party or of the Young Ireland Party. The way that I view this proclamation, and the reason why I regard it as of such seriousness, is that I can only see two possible explanations for it, and either of these explanations, to my mind, is about the worst thing that ever happened this country. One explanation is that the late President, that General O'Duffy, Mr. Dillon, Mr. MacDermot and their colleagues have completely given up their belief in constitutional action and have accepted responsibility for an organisation which is endeavouring to arm itself against the State. That, to my mind, would be one of the worst possible things that could happen to this country. We would have no constitutional opposition. If that is true, then the Government are perfectly justified in this proclamation. If it is not true, and that the leaders and their executive have accepted responsibility for this Young Ireland movement, then this Government have abused the powers handed to them in the worst possible manner for which no language would be strong enough.

The reason why I have spoken at this stage is that I want the Minister to tell us, does he agree that there is no choice between these two points of [2097] view? I cannot see any between them. It may be, for all I know, that some individuals who are members of this Party have been found with arms. I think it is quite possible that some members of the Fianna Fáil Party may be found with arms. The group that I belong to is a very small one, but I do not think you would find any of them with arms. But, for all I know, you might. That, however, would not prove for one moment that they were an unlawful organisation. It would be a first-class reason for taking action against individuals, but it would be no reason for proclaiming the Party. The organisation which has been proclaimed is an organisation for which responsibility is accepted by the leaders of the constitutional Opposition, or of the opposition which seeks to be constitutional in the State, and when it is part and parcel of their scheme and of their plan for organising the country against the existing Executive, then I say that no possible grounds can exist, if you believe in democracy at all, for the suppression even under this Act of that body, but one ground only: that is, that there is conclusive proof that it is a body which is organised in violence and arms against the State itself. On no other grounds that I know of can such a body be properly suppressed. Even if it be true—I have no knowledge of it—that certain individuals have foolishly bought or been found with or have taken arms, unless their leaders are supporting them and backing them in that, which I personally refuse to believe, then there is no case for this proclamation. If we are ever going to get real constitutional government in this country, both the leaders and whatever Party be in power will have to respect the absolute right of their opponents to organise and take political action against them.

Any Party which, in organising itself as a political force, that is foolish enough or, shall I say, wicked enough to encourage its members to carry arms or to procure arms is doing definite harm to the future of the State. Equally bad with that [2098] would be an attempt to suppress an ordinary political organisation. I will not say that one is as bad as the other, but both are certainly detrimental to the future of the State. The reason I feel so strongly about this proclamation, far more strongly than about the previous one, is that whatever views people might have about the position, and I have none, that when the responsible constitutional leaders made this effort for a United Irish Party, and to bring the Young Ireland Party into the United Irish Party, they meant one or other of two things. They meant that it was either strictly constitutional, carrying on its work in a political way or else that it was to overthrow the State they stood by in the past. Have the Government, in these circumstances, proof that General O'Duffy, Mr. Cosgrave, Mr. MacDermot, Mr. Dillon and other people of that character are people against whom action should be taken? I go further and say that if the Government have proof that these men have been working a revolution against the State they would not require this Constitution (Amendment) Act. They could bring them before the ordinary courts in Dublin, and if they are able to convince a jury that they have such objects that jury would find them guilty. If I were on such a jury I would not hesitate to do so. And that is the attitude of the people supporting them to-day. They support them because they believe they are acting in a constitutional manner. The Government have no need of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, if they can prove that these people have taken armed action against the State, or that they are supporting, or aiding, any men or any body of men to take up arms against the State.

The seriousness of this Proclamation is that the Government have placed us in a dilemma. We have either to believe that the late Government and the leaders of this Association are guilty of this lawless action or we have to believe that the Government are using their powers in a most outrageous manner.

[2099]Mr. Crosbie: Information on George Crosbie  Zoom on George Crosbie  I would like to say a few words upon this question. I remember very well what brought about the institution of the organisation which is now suppressed. It was, I think, precipitated by a meeting in Cork, at which the ex-President of the Free State, and the senior member for Cork, was refused a hearing. On a subsequent occasion he came to Cork and was refused a hearing, also by the action really of a handful of people. I do not complain of the protection he got from the Civic Guards. He got every protection possible, I believe, but a very small number of people who had been lashed into a state of fury by having been persuaded by some other people that the ex-President of the Free State, and those associated with him, in the City of Cork, were more interested in England than they were in their own country, assailed us with the cries that we were traitors and spies. I think the Minister will have to realise that the only course open to us was to come together and to see what was to be done about it. We represent the majority of the City of Cork and, in fact, the majority of the County of Cork, but because a number of imported youths were let loose in our city freedom of speech had ceased. Now where you have no freedom of speech you have no liberty. Some of us quite determined, at considerable cost perhaps, that we will have liberty. There is nobody in Ireland who is more anti-militarist than I am. My detestation of soldiering goes so far that I hate boy scouts and girl guides. But, in present circumstances, I would ask the Minister, seriously, what a political organisation such as the one I belong to is going to do. We are a peace loving people. We want to have our views put before the public, and we want to have our views heard by the public.

I think it is an extraordinary thing that a number of men who declare that they are unarmed, and who I think have been proved, in the majority of cases, where searches have taken place, to be unarmed, and where every Guard and soldier in the country can recognise them by what they wear, are [2100] the people who are to be hunted and driven from political platforms. I think that is wrong, and I believe the Minister will find it extremely difficult to defend such a position. He is unable to deny, he cannot deny, that until this organisation came into being we were unable to have free speech in the country. It was only after great trouble and great care exercised on their part that this political organisation was able to establish political free speech which, but for them, would have disappeared in Ireland. Is that a situation which any one of us wants to see continued? I do not believe that any member of the Fianna Fáil Party who has any respect or regard for the reputation or position of his country would agree that such a thing should happen. I ask the Minister a simple question. If these Blue Shirts—who cannot be called conspirators, because the trouble with conspiracy is that it is hidden and secret, whereas everyone can tell whether a man is a member of this organisation or not—are disbanded, what guarantee will be given by the Government that public meetings can be held in any part of the Free State and that those who attend them will not be in danger of losing their lives?

Dr. Gogarty: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  This action of the Government does not surprise me in the least because it is evident that it is the outcome of their ruinous commercial experiments. As the country is impoverished, the question of £6,000 a week spent upon the factoryless and unemployed Dublin poor increases beyond £300,000 a year, it is evident that a certain amount of misery must be borne by the citizens. While the sea-green incorruptible President is looking for tyrannies in England and is afraid—as if any Irishman ever was afraid of controversy with Mr. Thomas and Lord Hailsham—while he is looking for tyrannies at the ends of the earth and while Senator Connolly is telling us that the Seanad does not represent the wishes of the Irish people although he is still a Senator—including that amongst his multiple ministerial occupations—he has some doubts whether a peaceful organisation, or at any rate an organisation which is not [2101] proved to be a military conspiracy, should be allowed freedom to assemble and freedom further to develop. It seems to me that there is something wrong in the State when we have to seek for tyranny without being able to understand the ordinary amenities of life among our own citizens. The temper of some of the Ministers in these matters is illustrated by the conduct of Senator Connolly. Some time ago he warned the Seanad that if they voted against his proposal something worse might happen to them and to me in particular. And when I asked him did he mean murder he said to me: “Interpret it as you like.” It is high time that the country should begin to prick up its ears and listen to what is coming because I think this is only a taste of the tyranny to which the Government's commercial policy is driving us. You cannot deprive a country of £17,000,000 of its income without providing some alternative. We know that the alternatives provided are about as hollow as the guns and documents that were found in the Blue Shirts' premises, about as hollow as the promises that were made to this benighted country. If this were a bar of justice, and if it were possible to arraign public men for false pretences, there is no sentence, I think, in terms of years, that would be equivalent to the wholesale confidence trick that was played on this unfortunate country. Now we have half of the country potentially prison-worthy, if we raise our voices or try to organise an alternative to gun-bullying in the absence of free speech. It is perfectly impossible, when the country is informed by the usual channels of the further ruin that must emerge from the Government's policy, to keep the country quiet without insurrection, even if it be only the insurrection of an organised and quite worthy opposition without turning the whole machinery of government into the mockery of liberty that is in Ireland.

It comes about now that Ireland, with all its mouthings and its self-pityings of tyranny, with its President abhorring the faintest tinge of coercion, and with his mandate from the people of which we have heard so [2102] much—that is, the people and Tom Johnson—their mandate means now that the Government, without putting it to any public issue, can turn the machinery for obstructing conspiracy and for crushing insurrection into crushing an absolutely innocent movement; at any rate, it should have the benefit of innocence until it is proven to be an armed conspiracy. That is what we have got, during a period of over a year and a half, from a commercial policy which is equivalent to all the enterprises which the author of the commercial policy has achieved himself. Senator Connolly, as we all know—it has appeared in print and has not been contradicted—is the commercial adviser of the President. He has been endeavouring to turn Ireland into a Garden of Edenderry with the President as the upright snake warning us what will happen if we eat the forbidden fruit.

Cathaoirleach:  I think, Senator, this is hardly relevant.

Dr. Gogarty: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  It arises out of the condition that the Government's policy has brought about. I merely say that this is not the end; it is only the beginning. We were told that there would be no surrender. I was quite prepared to hear that there would be no surrender, and I also knew that there would be no success for his commercial policy, but until they climb down from this condition of the enforced penury of this country, we cannot expect them to understand that we only ask for freedom to live in a little prosperity in our own land.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  I wish to join my voice in support of this motion. I am one of those intimately associated with the Young Ireland movement, especially with the women's section, and I am proud to say it. No crime of murder, robbery, violence or intimidation has been committed by the Blue Shirts. Everybody knows that, and neither the Minister nor anybody else can prove the slightest tinge of these crimes against them. Everybody knows the reason for this proclamation. Senator Gogarty has hit the nail on the head in one direction. It is one of [2103] the “stunts” of the Government to try to cover up the ghastly and colossal failure of their economic policy. It is one of the “stunts” organised for the purpose of taking the people's minds off the realities of the situation, and that is the reason for their anxiety to penalise their political opponents. The Blue Shirt movement was gaining rapidly in the country. Every young man of honour and decency was rallying to its standard. Of course, the Government were frightened of it and of course they want, with the flimsiest of excuses, to put it down.

Senator Milroy has gone into all the details and I shall only mention one instance. As he said, we could stand here all night giving instances of the Blue Shirts being subject to violence, and of the marvellous control and self-discipline by which they have gained the admiration of every liberty-loving person in the country. The one instance I bring up is what happened in my own county town. A man who had offended nobody, who had broken no law, was going home on a Sunday night in a perfectly peaceable manner. He was attacked from behind a wall. Six shots were fired at him. Four shots hit him and it was only his colossal strength that saved his life. There is no doubt in the world that these people were potential assassins. A group of men, armed, avowedly Communistic, I.R.A., living in community, living together, were known to be personal enemies of this man. No action has been taken against them. There is one instance of the impartiality of the Government. That man has been maimed for life. Only his colossal strength saved his life and enabled him to struggle home when four bullets were fired into him.

Side by side with the suppression of this perfectly legal body we have the organisation of a volunteer force of 15,000 men. We see that certain men have been chosen to be the organisers of this force. I do not know the records of all these men but I do know the record of one. I know the number of cold-blooded murders committed, the number of banks he robbed, the [2104] houses of decent citizens he burned or which the gang he led burned. I know the amount of public damage he did, amounting to thousands of pounds. This is one of the men who has been chosen to organise what is to be a political army, paid by the State. There is scarcely any doubt that the aim behind that movement is to set up a dictatorship in this country when the people will have come to the conclusion that this Government ought to be put out of power. So much has been said that I do not wish to say any more. I believe that the honourable and decent people of the country know perfectly well what is behind the suppression of the Blue Shirts, and they will judge the Government when their time comes. Senator Milroy read out one of the clauses in the Public Safety Act. It deals with the intimidation of people in order to prevent them from paying their public debts, land annuities, rates, etc. The present Minister for Justice, who sits here, was notorious at one time in his campaign to prevent people from paying these debts.

Mr. Kennedy: Information on Raphael P. Keyes  Zoom on Raphael P. Keyes  Hear, hear.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  That is well known. I wish to say no more on the matter, but I support the motion.

Mr. Staines: Information on Michael Staines  Zoom on Michael Staines  Recently in this House I described the present Government as a Government of sops and stunts. To-night I call them a shocking Government. When I read the proclamation I thought it was shocking. I decided that the Government had come to the conclusion that a shock a day will keep the critics away. If anybody disagrees with me I ask them to read the Irish Press posters. Every morning I find there is a shock. If it is not one thing it is another. In proclaiming the Young Ireland Association the Government is “seeing blue.” They proclaimed the Blue Shirts, but they might as well have proclaimed the blue ash bowls that are in Leinster House. There is nothing to prevent me or anybody else coming in with a hair shirt or a hair “dickie” which would cost less. There is nothing to prevent me coming in with one side of my shirt [2105] blue and the other side white. That would be only a half shirt. The Government should get down to fundamentals. On behalf of the Opposition what I claim from the Government is what we conceded when they were in opposition—security. The real thing to get down to is that there must be freedom of speech. It does not matter what party a man belongs to if he can go out in public and express his feelings. If the people do not want to listen let them not come to the meetings. Within the last two days the newspapers stated that the supply of electric light was cut off in Donegal, because meetings of the United Ireland Party were being held there. Years ago when certain employees of the Corporation threatened to strike and to cut off the water supply to the city, I said at a Corporation meeting: “That is an act of war. Stop the meeting, Lord Mayor, and I will turn on the water.” Cutting off the electric light supply to a town is an act of war.

It is unnecessary to talk about the present time at all. The Government has really to get down to this, that there must be freedom of speech. I was on the Cumann na nGaedheal side during the General Election in Galway and other people were on the Fianna Fáil side. Two big meetings were held. President de Valera was to have been present at one meeting but could not attend. As well as I remember he sent his son and the Minister for Defence to represent him. That was all right. Certain people on our side were going to go to that meeting as they wanted to hear what was said. I warned them that, while they could go if they wished, they were not to interrupt. The meeting was quite orderly. Some of our supporters were there, but they said nothing. A week afterwards, Mr. Cosgrave, the ex-President, held a meeting in the same place, and a mob attempted to break it up. The Guards prevented them. An attempt was made to cut off the electric light by throwing 50 feet of a wire clothes-line over the two wires which conveyed electric current to the section of the town in which the meeting was to be held. Those who did that knew all about the section to cut off. They did [2106] not succeed. The clothes-line only went over one wire instead of over the two wires. The line reached down to near the ground, and during the night a cow was nosing about and was killed on coming into contact with it. The owner of the animal, Mr. O'Gorman, a printer, sent a man down to the field in the morning to see what happened to the cow. When the man touched the wire he was killed. The field was close to a grave-yard. The man who was killed was in the grave-yard the following day. Nobody was ever brought to justice for that. Twice during the last week wires have been cut in Donegal and, as far as I know, nobody has been brought to justice. That is what the Government should get at instead of getting after the Blue Shirts.

The proclamation is one against a political party, simply because they are in opposition. I stated several times that there is room in this country for the Government and for the Opposition. That ought to be understood. There should not be, however, any room for people who break the law, who cut wires in Donegal or Galway, and who sent people into eternity without having an opportunity even of having a priest. These are the people the Government should get after, and not after people who claim the right of free speech and who are prepared to give their lives in defence of free speech. After all, there is very little difference between Fianna Fáil and Cumann na nGaedheal. Cumann na nGaedheal accepted the Treaty in 1922 and Fianna Fáil accepted it in 1926. Leaving these things aside, we have to “carry on,” and if wires are cut, water supplies interfered with, or if there are similar acts of war, those who commit them are the people to get at, and not people who are prepared to stand by the Guards in carrying out the law.

Mr. Bagwell: Information on John Philip Bagwell  Zoom on John Philip Bagwell  I wish to support the motion and to associate myself with the censure which is attached to it. censure of the action of the Government in misusing the Constitution (Amendment) Act by the proclamation of what is known as the Young Ireland Association, but much better known as [2107] the Blue Shirts. I am not a member of that body, or of any similar body. I think that is perfectly well known in this House. I speak entirely from what I consider to be a neutral position, as a responsible citizen. As a responsible citizen I cannot help feeling disgusted with what I look upon as governmental farce, because, to my mind, to proclaim a body like the Blue Shirts, and not a body like the I.R.A., is farcical. Where there are two bodies in a constitutional country, no neutral person who has any knowledge of what goes on can have any illusions on the subject of their relative dangers. Whatever danger the Blue Shirts may be to this State, the I.R.A. to a constitutional State are a very much greater danger. That being so, to proclaim the Blue Shirts and not to proclaim the I.R.A. is, in my opinion, an action which is open to the accusation that it is pretence, that it is humbug and that it is very undignified on the part of the Government. The Government have laid themselves open to the accusation of partiality, if not of tyranny, and as they are the Government of my country, I very much resent that. I think it quite right to adjourn the House for the purpose of discussing this question, and I associate myself fully with the censure of the Government.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Ruttledge): Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Some Senators have referred to the statement that was made when this Act was first brought into operation. I recollect quite well a statement that was made by Deputy Professor O'Sullivan at that time, that law-abiding citizens need have nothing to fear from it. From the way it has been operated since we were compelled to bring it into operation, I do not think any citizen who obeys the law need have any fears that he will be interfered with. Some play or criticism was attempted to be made with regard to our attitude to this Act originally. One of the first things we did as a Government after coming into office was to suspend the operation of that Act. No people were more reluctant than we were to bring [2108] it into operation again, but it is very easy for people to understand that if there is a conviction that we are not going to take certain measures, people of certain dispositions may very easily force the Government, no matter how reluctant they may be to do them, to do certain things. We saw a position developing in this country, a position which no political Party would have any need for and a position in which a body, admitted by themselves to be a semi-military body, and described by themselves on their circulars as a semi-military body, but which we believe, and have reason to believe, is a body in possession of arms, being set up. If we are to judge by the statements which I quoted here before and the statements that have been quoted here since in another place and the statements that have been made in United Ireland which, I believe, is the official organ of the former National Guard and, afterwards, the Young Ireland Association, we know what their tendencies along constitutional lines are. We know what respect they are going to have for free speech. They are not going to allow any discordant propaganda, they say. I remember one particular quotation in it:—

“Freedom of speech and freedom of the Press are not good or bad in themselves. Everything depends on the use made of them.”

I referred here before to how they are going to set up a “diast” in this country. I referred here before to the respect they had for the Constitution for which so many lives were lost in this country. After the Civil War and all the rest of it, the respect they had for that Constitution was that the people who drafted it should be thrown into boiling oil. That is the view of those people. That is their view as expressed in their organ known as the United Irishman.

I gave numerous quotations before and I could give numbers of them now. I will give anybody who wishes the references to the various dates in that paper from which these quotations can be taken—the issues of [2109] 1/4/'33, 15/4/'33, 15/7/'33, and again, the issue of 15/7/'33, all trying to lead the people along a certain line to a dictatorship in this country. Elected Governments, as we know them in this country, they say, are of no use; they are past their time. Why did they not discover that eleven years ago? There was no word about it while certain people were in office in this country, but when two elections went by and as I quoted the other night, and as I will quote again to-night from another letter, they felt that their Party was finished—as one of their own people expressed it in a letter at the time to people outside this country, “the Cosgrave Party is finished”—we see them turning very enthusiastically in favour of a new method of constitutional dictatorship in this country. If that was going to be brought about by constitutional methods, nobody could see anything to quarrel with in it. If we saw that being brought about by people who said “We are going to put our policy in regard to that particular thing clearly before the electors and we are going to get their views clearly upon it” no Government could have any quarrel with that.

If they go before the people at a free election and put a clearly defined policy before them by which they would say: “if you elect us, then it is probably the last Government you will ever elect in this country, because you are going to elect us to be dictators to frame a constitution which will deny you the right of votes in future”; and if the people were prepared to accept that, I see nothing wrong in it. It is a constitutional way of putting it, but we see forming up here, side by side with that, a body of ex-officers and others in this country assuming or, at least, having the veneer of acting in a philanthropic way and for philanthropic objects and developing along certain lines, and we hear Deputy Doctor O'Higgins, who was then the leader of the A.C.A., declaring that a position may be reached where circumstances will control policy. I have mentioned that fact in the other House and I have tried to get some idea from him as to [2110] what are the circumstances which will control policy. He is talking to a body of men who, as I have said, are composed mainly of ex-Army officers. They come along at a later period, and we have the National Guard formed with a great flourish——

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  Was that statement made prior to the formation of the National Guard?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Prior to the formation of the National Guard. We have the National Guard formed and we see therefore, that the lines on which this body is to be conducted are to be purely and simply a copy of military lines. You have General O'Duffy at the top as director-general. He has the appointment of officers throughout the country, and you have that all down the line. You have the company O.C., the quartermasters, and so on. The method is purely and simply the method of selection as obtains in the Army, and not as we do in a democratic country by election in the ordinary way. It may be to some people a very clear indication of what the people would get if they put a party like that or a person like that in control of the reins of government. He was to be the judge, and not the people, as to who were best fitted to look after the destinies of this country.

They are not satisfied to come along in the ordinary way if they are a constitutional body. They are not satisfied until they get a uniform. I know it has been said, and a great point has been made about it time after time in the other House, that this is not a uniform, that it is a blue shirt. I have documents to show that they have described it as a uniform themselves. Even the other day they sent out instructions in Cork that the description of treasurer must cease in future and that the treasurer of a company must be referred to as quartermaster. People are talking about this being a political body. I want to know where in this country or any other country there has been a political body where the treasurer is described as quartermaster?

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  Is it illegal?

[2111]Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  So far as this point of legality is concerned, the expression is not illegal, but it is a military expression. That is the point I make. While I am on the question of uniform it is just as well to have this matter clearly out, when we hear so much talk about what we are doing, prostituting government, and all that kind of thing. What would the previous Government have done in such circumstances? What would the previous Government have done if people paraded in uniform? I heard Senator Bagwell objecting on this question. Does he know that General O'Duffy in 1928——

Mr. Bagwell: Information on John Philip Bagwell  Zoom on John Philip Bagwell  On a point of explanation, the Minister is not fair in taking me up like that. I was very careful to say that why I objected, and the reason I associated myself with the motion of censure, was because the Government suppressed one body and did not suppress another body against whom all the arguments, and even more arguments, could be used with much greater force.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I shall deal with that later on. Senator Bagwell, or certainly some other Senators in this House, would have much interest in or would know something about an organisation in this country known as the British Legion. I am sure it would surprise some of those people to know that in 1928 General O'Duffy advised the Government of that time not to allow people to parade calling themselves majors or calling themselves by other military terms. That was when the British Fascisti paraded in uniform. I propose to read the memorandum. It starts with a letter from the Crimes Branch to the Commissioner on the 7th November, 1928, from Colonel Neligan, who was then Chief Superintendent. Attached to the letter from Colonel Neligan is a cutting in which several paragraphs are underlined. He underlines terms such as “Major” and so on. Also attached is a cutting showing a small group of British Fascisti marching in uniform through the city. Colonel Neligan in his letter states:—

[2112]“The Commissioner,

To see attached cuttings, please. Please note marked portions.

This ‘commemoration’ is becoming the excuse for a regular military field-day for these persons. I direct your attention to the formation of companies under persons calling themselves captains and majors, and the companies are going to march in military formation. I think attached programme gives these men far too much scope, and certainly if the irregulars adopted these tactics they would be arrested under the Treasonable Offences Act, 1925. The position this year is far worse than any other year because they are being allowed far more latitude than formerly.”

General O'Duffy writes to the Department of Justice on the following day, the 8th November, 1928, and states:—

“I agree with Colonel Neligan. The attached military order is similar to what would issue from a recognised Army Headquarters, and such military activities as detailed should, in my opinion, be confined to the Forces of the State.”

That is what we are trying to do.

“This is intended much more as a military display than a bona fide commemoration service for the dead, to which latter there can be no objection, though there appears no necessity to perpetuate this form of ceremony in the Saorstát. If we allow this military display in Dublin we cannot very well object to similar displays elsewhere on the occasion. I am aware that in certain quarters these activities are looked upon as provocative, particularly in view of the fact that similar activities are prohibited, and punished by imprisonment if indulged in by other organisations. Were I in a position to do so I would very definitely prohibit all military activities, other than by the recognised Forces of the State. No section would then have a grievance, and the work of the Police would be made easier. There can be no doubt [2113] that companies of Baden Powell Boy Scouts marching through the streets in uniform lead to increased activity on the part of the Fianna Eireann, and similarly these 11th November displays lead to drilling and other activities of a military nature on the part of the Irregulars. I suggest that the Secretary of the British Legion here be very definitely informed that the parade is to take the form of a procession and that no recognised military words of command will be allowed. I attach a cutting from the Independent of 5th instant, showing British Fascisti marching in uniform. I consider this should not be allowed.—Eoin Ua Dubhthaigh, Commisineir.”

That was the position the previous Government took up. I wonder when, where or how they found the British Legion at this Armistice celebration a menace or a danger? Did they find them in any way a public body who were likely to overthrow the Government of the time? Despite all that, I do not blame the Government if they felt obliged, as the present Government has, to inform people that only the recognised forces of the State have the right to wear uniform. As far as the British Fascisti were concerned there were only about 19 of them. I was trying to count them in that cutting. There were 19 British Fascisti who marched through the streets in that celebration and General O'Duffy said it should not be allowed. True, it was a black shirt, not a blue shirt they were wearing. I can quote a reference in a letter where, however, it is very clearly termed a Fascisti shirt. That is how it was described by Commandant MacManus in a letter read in the other House.

A Senator:  Read it again.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I shall read it and I read the whole of it. It is not a letter to his brother. That is the position as far as the uniform is concerned. Then the instructions which they sent out from this Young Ireland Association are in the form of “orders.” I have never heard of political parties issuing [2114] what they call “orders.” This is a letter of the 23rd November, 1933, to Eugene A. Riordan. It states:

“Divisional Orders, Cork City and County.

A Chara,

I desire to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 21st instant together with copies of Divisional Orders issued from your headquarters and to say that I shall be glad to have copies of all such orders forwarded to me in future.

There is a letter from Eugene A. Riordan on the 23rd November, to Commandant Cronin which states:

“We are now issuing Weekly Divisional Orders in this Division and I have made arrangements for a copy to be dispatched to Headquarters every week in future for your information. Trusting the same will meet with your approval.”

They were divisional orders for Cork City and County Division by Professor James Hogan, D.Litt., B.A., Divisional Commander, issued from 98 Patrick Street. He makes a reference to the Company Treasurer. At least, it is attached to a letter which is sent out from Eugene A. Riordan on the 21st November, 1933. The following is the reference:—

“Company Treasurer.—The foregoing rank is abolished as from this date. Any treasurer at present in possession of funds will disburse same. In future they will rank as Company Quartermaster. They will be held responsible that every Volunteer in their Company is in possession of the Regulation shirt.

“Organisation.—In future members of the Young Ireland Association will be known as Volunteers.”

It has been stated several times that anybody is entitled to wear this Blue Shirt. The people who make that statement know that it is perfectly untrue. It is all right to make that [2115] statement outside on a platform and say that anybody could wear this regulation Blue Shirt. Those who make that statement are trying to deceive the people who have not an opportunity of knowing otherwise. They know that that is, to say the least of it, not even fair or middling fair politics. Nobody can wear a Blue Shirt of this regulation type except he is a member of the Young Ireland Party. This is a letter dated 20th October, 1933, to M.J. Doolan, 2 Park View Terrace, Emmett Street, Mallow, from which I want to quote one particular thing:

“I am instructed by the Director-General to acknowledge the receipt of your report dated the 18th instant, and to say that I am very pleased to observe that you have succeeded in forming a Ladies' Branch in Mallow. You refer to the formation of a Ladies' Branch of the ‘United Ireland Party’ in your report; it is presumed you mean a Company of the Ladies Section ‘Young Ireland Association.’ You should interest yourself mainly in your own Association, i.e., the Young Ireland Association, and it should be distinctly understood that only those belonging to our Association can wear the uniform.”

That is signed E.J. Cronin. Why say then that anybody can wear a Blue Shirt? You dare not do it according to their rules and the position they have taken up—it is a uniform.

This matter was debated both in this House and in the other House when this Bill was introduced. Surely any arguments that might be put forward now would be to some extent a rehash of the arguments we had at that time. We were told immediately after the ban that the ban would be accepted and acted upon properly in the spirit and the letter. These people who make those statements know that that is not true. It has not been accepted in the spirit. I quoted in the other House, and I shall quote now, a letter written by Mr. Seán Ruane of Kiltimagh to Commandant Cronin to show that [2116] there has been no change, that the same body is there except that it has changed the name or changed it on its notepaper. The words “National Guard” are used in the text of the letter itself. I quoted this letter in the debate on 30th November, 1933, in the Dáil:

“Are we to refer in public to the National Guard as the Young Ireland Association?”

“In public” it says. Commandant Cronin writes back and states:

“The National Guard may be referred to (in public) henceforward as the Young Ireland Association.”

“In public” is in brackets. But at the private meetings and at the meetings of the inner circles is it referred to as the Young Ireland Party?

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  What's in a name?

Mr. O'Hanlon: Information on Michael F OHanlon  Zoom on Michael F OHanlon  What does it matter?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  It is the object.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  It is never referred to as the Young Ireland Party.

Cathaoirleach:  The Senator has had an opportunity of speaking and should not interrupt the Minister.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I want to deal with one or two other matters, one with regard to the letter that has been questioned that I read in the Dáil from Commandant McManus. I have seen a reply to that afterwards saying that it was a personal letter to his brother and that it was not sent to anybody else. The letter I quoted in the Dáil may have been sent to his brother. I do not want to question that at all, but in other copies that we got his home address is struck out and 5, Parnell Square is put in and there is a note on the margin to have copies made and carbons kept. He asked why I did not quote the whole letter. I stated definitely in the Dáil that I was making that letter available to go on the report and that everybody could read it, otherwise, according to the rules I could not quote it at all. It was obviously intended to have a number of copies made of this letter [2117] I am going to read—it says so at the top. This letter is addressed to “Dear Hannon.” There are some alterations in it. He does not seem to be so hard on some people as in the previous one.

“I want to tell you about the Army Comrades' Association over here, with which I am intimately connected. I enclose a circular I am sending out, so that you will see more or less what we are.

“Before the recent election, recruiting everyone who came along, we reached a strength of some 80,000; but since then the out-of-works, ne'er-do-wells, and those ‘on the make’ have either left or been thrown out. We have now about 45,000 really good reliable men. At first we existed to resist the gun-bully and the reign of terror that was commencing. We did so very successfully. We forced de Valera to use the police to keep order at meetings and we prevented intimidation on polling day.”

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  Hear, hear.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I always thought we got in by intimidation. The letter goes on:

“But it was clear that the Republicans' greatest strength lay in the youth of the country, of whom they had a monopoly. Every band, every dance hall and every football club in the country is in the hands of the Republicans—particularly of their left wing, the I.R.A.

“There is nothing at all wrong with the youth; all they want is leadership, and something by which they can get away from boredom. We have now begun to compete for them, and we are doing so very well, starting clubs and all sorts of activities. They are coming in to us rapidly and enthusiastically, but it all costs money to organise, and that is what we lack.

“Further than this, it has become more and more clear as we progress that we have a bigger destiny still to fill. To put it bluntly, Cumann na nGaedheal (Cosgrave's Party) is very demoralised, and has lost the confidence of the country. Its future [2118] is, under the circumstances, very shaky. It largely does not exist in the country districts, except in an election, when a patchwork affair gets together and muddles through, very open to intimidation and even to bribery. The more permanent part of it is—he has struck out the reference to cliques and other things —generally weak and inefficient, Cosgrave's personal influence and good work being constantly countered and wasted. In fact the Party, as a whole, has no real confidence in itself.

“The Centre Party, that many of us had such hopes in, is in a bad way too. Frank MacDermot, though very nice personally, has no real knowledge or experience of Irish political life, and is not a good psychologist. He is like a child in the hands of the extremely astute de Valera, who is fooling him most successfully.

“It is imperative to bring back the fight to the clear-cut and vital issue between socialist republicanism on the one hand and economic sanity on the other. We—alone—can do this, and stiffen the backbone of the flabby.

“No one can deny that the Irishman makes one of the finest soldiers in the world, though when ‘on his own’ he too often makes a fool of himself. What is the reason for this apparent paradox? The answer is discipline. Under discipline he can do anything—without it he is lost. It is on this principle that we are basing our organisation. The Republicans have made use of the enthusiasm of a bogus Nationalism, and a spurious attack on England— our best customer, and a useful friend. We have behind us the enthusiasm of discipline and of service and loyalty to a virile organisation, no mean driving force, if you look at the history of modern Europe.

“We intend to build up to a strength of 100,000 ordinary members and another 50,000 inner members or ‘storm troops,’ picked men, who are being issued with a blue ‘Fascisti’ shirt.”

[2119]Mrs. Costello: Information on Eileen Ellen Costello  Zoom on Eileen Ellen Costello  What is the date of that letter?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I explained already in the other House that the letter was undated. It was issued from 5 Parnell Square. Storm troops being issued with blue Fascisti shirts again, called an inner circle, are something that I have not heard of in political parties. We may be living in a strange country and we may not be surprised at anything that happens, but this is the first time we have seen growing up in this country a body known as “storm troops” and an inner circle, who are not under the control of the State and who have been allowed to go out in uniform. I can assure the House that while this Government is the Government of the State that is a thing they will not be permitted to do.

When I was quoting from one of these documents in the Dáil the other day, I was asked, I think by Deputy MacDermot, what the answer to it was. That referred to a report sent up here to headquarters by a man who said he was on the track of some guns. I was asked what answer he got back. I shall tell you the answer he got back-not the answer in that particular case, but a typical example of the answer he would have got back. This is a letter of the 23rd October, 1933—it is not the letter that I quoted in the other House, and to which I have just now been referring. It is addressed to Commandant E.J. Cronin, 3, Merrion Square, Dublin. I can read the whole letter if the House wishes. The writer says that “there is a lot of private business being carried on in the Mallow Company and only the officers know the extent of same.” Then he says:—

“Recently two members of the district succeeded in procuring two ——. They were purchased for the organisation, not as a private enterprise. I want to know if I am justified in claiming the possession of same, and not to allow any man to remain in possession of same with sufficient reason. One of our volunteers claimed the right to keep one, simply because he was in the purchasing of it with a District [2120] Secretary. I consider it safer to keep them and to hold an officers' meeting before supplying one or two of them to any man.”

That letter is signed by Michael Dolan. Commandant Cronin replied on October 25th:—

“Regarding the question of material recently purchased on behalf of the Association, it should be perfectly understood that in your capacity as District O.C. you are responsible for the custody of such. material.”

Certainly any military officer in charge of a company is entitled to hold the arms any member of the company got. I say that Commandant Cronin is quite right in that; nobody is going to dispute that. But what I call attention to is this, that there are people trying to suggest that Commandant Cronin has sent out no instructions and given no indication to people in the country to try to get arms in every way and as quickly as they can.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  That is not true.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Why does he issue instructions with regard to them? He says “You are responsible for the custody.” I suppose that Deputy MacDermot would, in his foolishness, imagine that Commandant Cronin would reply “We are purely and simply a political organisation. What business have we with guns? We will not have guns in our association. Hand back the guns wherever you got them.” But his letter bears out what everybody knew. Why did that officer, when he got guns, write up for instructions to Commandant Cronin as to what to do with them? Why did Commandant Cronin write back and say that he, as O.C., was responsible for the material, as he was? If we had a little more straightness, it would be much better for everybody. People have been caught with guns. I am not going to refer to that. If I did, I suppose it would be urged that I was trying to influence the trial. That is for the court to decide and it is not for me to make any reference to it. Neither am I going to make [2121] reference to documents found on any of those people who are being charged. There is a large number of arms available, at any rate, in the country, if we take General O'Duffy's words, which I quoted already in the other House. A complaint was made about that time by General O'Duffy that I had no right to quote what was a confidential report. I felt that it was in the interests of this country that the people should know what he knew in 1932 and what he conveyed to the Government then—that as he said:

“a membership of 30,000 is now claimed for the organisation. Regarding armament, it is believed the organisation, as such, has no arms under its control but there is no doubt that a considerable number of individual ex-army officers are in possession of revolvers, and even rifles, held surreptitiously as souvenirs of the pre-truce period. Further, many ex-army men, when leaving the army in 1923-25, brought arms with them. I have, however, been informed, as already reported to the Minister, that certain members of the organisation hold extreme views and would be prepared to urge the use of force in pursuit of their policy.”

That was General O'Duffy's opinion on the 30th September, 1932. He talks again of a report he has got from Tipperary; “It is certain, however, that Mr. Jerry Ryan, could, should occasion arise, muster a fair number of the arms taken from Templemore Military Barracks during the mutiny.” He knew of that. He comes out to-day and he tells the people that this is an unarmed body. He has in his organisation the people who, he says, took away these guns as souvenirs. He has as one of the leaders of his organisation down in the country the man who, he says, could muster a fair number of arms. These people are in his organisation and still we are asked in the most gullible way as if we were the most gullible people, simply because a statement is made by General O'Duffy, or somebody else, that this organisation is purely and simply a political [2122] organisation. It is nothing of the kind. I should like to hear from Senator Milroy, in his reply, some explanation of even that one document —the reply of Commandant Cronin to this Mr. Doolan, district secretary in Cork. I was taunted in the Dáil and asked what reply this gentleman got back. Of course, the answer he got back was that he should give back the guns, that he should not have them in the organisation. And we should be expected to believe that. General O'Duffy took a very serious view in 1928 regarding the actions of people that, I think, and feel that I can still safely think, are law-abiding people who are trying no stunt of marching on Dublin, as General O'Duffy talked about the other day. He said he was going to have a march on Dublin. There was a march on Rome and we should expect that he would have something out of the ordinary, that he would not be always copying. You would imagine that there would be somebody in his organisation with some originality. Could he not say a march outside Dublin or a march on the Dublin mountains (Interjection by Mr. Milroy). General O'Duffy is not taken very seriously amongst his own people but those who do not know him might take him seriously. He took up that position in 1928—that this organisation, known as the British Legion, were people who should not be allowed to issue orders of command even for one day. These were simple orders of command—to form in and to march off in fours. Those are all the commands I have ever heard issued by them and that was all that was indicated to me when I was approached about this parade. That matter had no difficulty for me because it had been settled by General O'Duffy in 1928— before my time.

Nineteen British Fascisti in black shirts—these other people wear blue shirts; they call them also a Fascisti shirt—marched to church in 1928. General O'Duffy said that that should not be allowed. I am not disagreeing with him. I agree with him entirely that no people in this country should be allowed either to march or assemble or anything else in a uniform unless [2123] they are under the control of the State. But General O'Duffy was going further; he was indicating his viewpoint even with regard to the Baden-Powell Scouts; he intimated that they were not going along proper lines and their uniform was rather an incentive to irregular activities in the country.

It has been said by Senator Crosbie and, I think, by other Senators, that this organisation was got up for the purpose of preserving peace at meetings. It is the duty of a State to preserve its own peace and order.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  Why do you not do it?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  We are doing our best to do it. Certain things happened when the other Government were in office and you did not say “Why do you not do it?” People were let get out of this country after they had committed very heinous crimes under the other Government and nobody on these benches asked them why they allowed that. We did, and we are doing, our best. I challenge here and now any person on the benches of the United Ireland Party here to deny that, previous to the last election, General O'Duffy was sent to by the President of the Executive Council and was told that he was to get all the resources of the State, military as well as the Civic Guards, to ensure the right of free speech at public meetings. I challenge General O'Duffy to deny that that was the instruction given to him very explicitly and with no ambiguity about it.

There is always an attempt being made by jaundiced politicians—I refer to their jaundiced views—to try to create the impression that this Government is rather trying to encourage disorder at meetings and to encourage intimidation. I challenge the one man who can say yes or no to that. General O'Duffy was the Commissioner of the Guards and he was told explicitly that he was to secure the whole resources of the State to ensure that there would be freedom of speech.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  And he was removed from office because he did it.

[2124]Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  We are not going to get into that subject now. It is not relevant at this stage. We could go into a very long argument about it if we wished to, but it is not desirable to raise it now. Everybody will agree, I think, that so far as we acted, we acted wisely. Since he became so very quickly a politician, he must have had some leanings that way before he left.

Mr. Staines: Information on Michael Staines  Zoom on Michael Staines  The statement of the Minister is quite true—instructions were issued to General O'Duffy to preserve order at public meetings. But there is a man dead, he lies in the cemetery in Galway, and the Guards were not able to prevent that. They did their best, but that thing went on all the same.

Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  Will the Minister dispute the fact that in Tralee, in the presence of a Sergeant and five other Guards, General O'Duffy was struck on the head with a hammer and the Guards refused to budge—they refused to interfere with the man who struck him?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  These people in Tralee have been dealt with as far as we were able to deal with them.

Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  Where is the man who struck General O'Duffy on the head with the hammer in the presence of the Guards?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I would have refrained from speaking until later if there had been any attempt on the part of Senator Fanning to address the House; but, apparently, he is more notorious for his interruptions than for his speeches; he very rarely speaks.

Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  I speak when there is occasion to speak. I repeat now what I have already stated. A Sergeant and five Guards witnessed General O'Duffy being struck on the head and not one of the persons who assaulted him was arrested and brought to justice.

Cathaoirleach:  Senator, you will have to sit down.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Reference has been made to the Tralee case. Is it suggested that there is any interference [2125] with the Guards of this country in the performance of their duties? Is there an effort being made to get in obliquely by Senator Fanning that we have indicated to the Guards that they should encourage disorder rather than preserve order at these meetings? I would like to be clear on that matter.

Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  I have not stated that. I have indicated what actually occurred.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I would like to be clear on that point. Instructions to the Guards have at all times been explicit; they have been told that it is their duty to preserve peace and order at those meetings. I think the Tralee people, numbers of them connected with incidents there, have been dealt with as the incidents justified. It is all very well to ask “Why was he not identified?” General O'Duffy said he could identify them. Did we not give him an opportunity? We paraded a large number of men and we arranged for General O'Duffy to try to pick out the men he said he could pick out and he was not able to do so. There is no use in people trying to make mean little suggestions that we are not trying to administer the law and preserve order.

Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  My point is that the Guards saw a man being struck and they refused to do their duty; they refused to arrest the ruffian.

Cathaoirleach:  The Senator made no effort to address the House on this matter and he must not interrupt now.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I do not think his point is worth bothering about. Senator Milroy referred to a number of things that have happened in the country. I am not saying that a number of things have not happened in the country, but I want to assure this House that we have done and we are doing all we can, and the police are trying to do everything they can, to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. The main case made here was about a man named [2126] Bolton. I happen to have got a report on that case. That sort of thing will go around as wild propaganda through the country, being believed by people who might think there was some foundation for it. Here you have a responsible Senator making a statement to the effect that this man was assaulted. I will read the police report that I have received. It is from the Leas-Chomisineir and it is dated 13th December, 1933. This is the 'phone message from Inspector Harte, of Tramore, sent at 12.30 p.m. on 12th December:—

“At 6 p.m. on 10th December, 1933, Patrick Bolton, aged 24 years, labourer, residing at Knockaun, Kill, County Waterford, reported to the Sergeant at Kill that at 8 p.m. on 9th December, 1933, when he was going from the village of Kill to Knockaun that he was held up by four armed and masked men who assaulted him and questioned him about his associations with the Blue Shirts. He stated that two shots were fired at him.

Bolton has been interviewed by police and in a statement made to Inspector Harte on 11th December, 1933, after a lengthy questioning, has admitted that the story of the hold-up was a fabrication.

It appears that Bolton was sent for messages on the evening of 8th December, 1933, to the village of Kill. Instead of attending to his business it appears he spent the time otherwise. He arrived late at his employer's house and when questioned about the delay invented the story of the hold-up. He was then directed by his employer, Mooney, to report the facts of the hold-up to the Gárda.”

You will get people, who think they are responsible, ready to jump at any little report. They will go to no trouble about questioning it or verifying it so long as it may be used as a dig at the Government in office. It does not matter what it is so long as that can be done. Blacken it as much as you can; what does it matter about the country if you can succeed in [2127] having a dig at the Government. That was the main case elaborated by Senator Milroy.

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  The main case? Why, it was the most trivial of the whole lot. Deal with the others.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  It was a strange thing that the Senator started off with it and read it most fully.

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  It was the most recent.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  If the Senator would give me a note of the various cases that he was to raise here, I would be able to deal with them.

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  The Minister would have to work overtime.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I say that those sort of statements should not be made. They do not do any good. I might refer also to the system which this organisation is building up in the country, a system of intelligence. They call it military intelligence. Anybody who refers to the report of the proceedings in the Dáil, where I dealt with this matter, will find from the facts I gave—and I am not going to repeat them at length to the House—evidence as to the intelligence that was directed. In building up that military intelligence they say that they are to select their men and they must try to secure such men as postmen and postmasters. The letters that we have captured are simply signed “D.O.” The people will not sign their names to these letters. There is “D.O.” at the end, sent in a covering address and a certain place to go back again. Those letters we have found. “D.O.” means Detective Officer or Director of Intelligence. I do not know what is the particular position of the men in the organisation, but I want to know do Senators in this House approve of servants of the State, whom one would regard in a way as civil servants and who are in a position somewhat analogous to civil servants— postmasters, at any rate—being utilised in this way? Do Senators approve of this organisation utilising the servants of the State and State officials for the purpose of building up a military intelligence in this State? [2128] Anyhow, how would it have been dealt with by the previous Government if it had been done then? We know that those people would not remain one day in occupation of these offices, and I might say here and now that any people acting for any banned association, or who allow themselves, while they hold State positions, to be utilised for this military intelligence or any other intelligence that is dealt with by this organisation, will not be very long in the service of the State.

What is this necessity for military intelligence for a purely political body? What is the object of it? What is the object of this association with its quartermasters and those other officers? What is the object of it, if this is a purely political body? What is the object of storm troops? Do not be trying to put across people the blue bluff of asking us to take certain things on trust. You cannot take bucket-shop trust in this country. It cannot be done. The Government has realised its position, it has anticipated a development in this country. We hear people using and people copying methods that may be useful or not in another country—methods that may be good for a particular country or not. We hear of people copying these methods that have been adopted in modern times. We see tactics that we would consider illegal in this country according to the Constitution. These are the tactics of General O'Duffy who said the other day that he was going to have a march on Dublin. When we hear all this it is no use to say, as some people say “You would not mind what he says, he says lots of things.”

There are poor unthinking dupes under those people who may take them a bit too seriously. That is the position. We are satisfied that this body is developing in this country not for a political purpose but purely and simply to bring about a position in the State by which they can overthrow the Government. Political Parties will not be interfered with, but will get every protection that the Government can afford them, and if necessary the forces of this State will be augmented in order to secure this protection for them.

[2129]Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  A pious hope.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I know what it is to have meetings broken up and I get plenty of it. I know how I would be sneered at if I rose up in the Dáil and complained of it. There is no use in people suddenly acting in this strange way and talking of being fair to people. We had plenty of experience of our meetings being broken up when we were in Opposition. There is plenty of room in this country if people have political objects. There are plenty ways and means open to them to secure control of the Government of this country. Is it because it is their opinion that “the Cosgrave Party is finished,” as the statement by Commandant MacManus puts it, is it because “the body at the top has become a hot-bed of cliqueism and jobbery,” is it because you regard this Party as being finished and at an end when you yourselves are satisfied according to him that the body at the top has become a hot-bed of cliqueism and jobbery——

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  Nonsense.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  He stated that. So he told lies when he wrote to his brother.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  We do not know anything about him, but it is not true.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  It is because he knew that and it is because you in your hearts know that that we have these speeches. That is the reason why you are now trying to form in this country a militant body and trying to secure power when you have no chance otherwise of regaining it.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  That comes well from you, the head of the armed revolt against the former Government in your own country. Tell us about the I.R.A. before you sit down. Tell us about the number of arms you captured from them.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  We will deal with the I.R.A. and any other body who gives trouble in this country.

Mr. O'Hanlon: Information on Michael F OHanlon  Zoom on Michael F OHanlon  I would say at once that the Minister's speech is remarkable [2130] for its main omission and nothing else. He was asked a specific question and he never said one word about that question. He completely failed to deal with the main matter submitted to him. I am surprised even at him for his evasions and I am surprised at the steps he has taken to bolster up his case. He is relying upon the McManus letter, a very stupid and to my mind a very ignorant letter, a letter coming from a man who knew very little about the Cumann na nGaedheal movement——

A Senator:  Do not let him down so badly.

Mr. O'Hanlon: Information on Michael F OHanlon  Zoom on Michael F OHanlon  I will every time. This is something upon which no Minister should rely. He has also talked about the mandates which the present Government got. They got a mandate to remove the Oath. They got a mandate to retain the land annuities. So we are told. But there is one mandate they got and there is no question about it, and that is a mandate to administer the law equally between all the citizens and that is what they are failing to do. Perhaps the Minister would answer a question now if I may put it in this form——

Cathaoirleach:  The Minister cannot speak again.

Mr. O'Hanlon: Information on Michael F OHanlon  Zoom on Michael F OHanlon  Well, it is a very necessary question and it is rather a pity he cannot answer it, because I wanted to give him an opportunity of clearing up the matter. The Minister spoke about Bolton's case. We had Bolton's first statement and the Minister has given us his later statement. I am not contradicting the Minister, but there is one inference that anybody would draw and that is that possibly he got a little afraid of his skin——

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I will hand the Senator the police reports.

Mr. O'Hanlon: Information on Michael F OHanlon  Zoom on Michael F OHanlon  I do not mind the police reports. The Minister will believe anything except the actual happenings. Everything is all right in the country! Who is the judge there? I wonder if certain men came along [2131] and showed their wounds would he believe that certain things happened? If the wounds be shown will he believe it? Apparently it is rather difficult to rely upon the words of any persons now. The Minister said that every law-abiding citizen need have no fears. I hope that is true, but there is another fact to which the Minister did not refer and that is that there are certain citizens of this country who are not law-abiding and who also have no fears.

We are looking for a dispensation of equal justice as between all the citizens of this State. It is a thing which we demand from this Government, a thing which this Government must give and a thing for which this Government is responsible to the people. The Minister sees in connection with the Blueshirts a certain position developing; he sees certain tendencies in certain directions. Would it not be more sensible for the Minister to wait for actual developments, for acts of lawlessness on the part of this organisation before taking such strong action as to proscribe the organisation? Would not that be more logical and more reasonable, and would it not be fairer? No, the Minister is depending on tendencies. He is depending on such things as a letter which General O'Duffy wrote five or six years ago and on a very foolish letter, referring to storm troops, written by Commandant McManus. Would it not be better if a different attitude had been adopted by the present Government? You may have had the A.C.A. and the National Guard, but I do not propose to deal with either. You have at the present time in this country a political wing, called the Young Ireland Movement, of a political party called the United Ireland Party. In connection with that you have the assurance of Mr. Cosgrave, Mr. MacDermot, General Mulcahy, Mr. Dillon and of others that this organisation is under the control of the executive of the United Ireland Party. I think it would be more in keeping with the decencies of public life if the word of men who have held responsible positions in the Government of this country were accepted and acted on rather than to rely on foolish [2132] personal letters discovered, in many cases, in raids on private houses to bolster up such strong action as has been taken by the Government. Personally, I think that the decencies of public life should be observed. It would be much better for the State. I think we should set up a proper tradition in this country.

We are rather perturbed, in a way, by the absolute failure of the Minister to deal with the position in the country. He dealt with the Blueshirts. We could all argue the case as to whether the Blueshirt is a uniform or not. But we will let that pass. This Government has singled out one organisation in this country and has proscribed it. The Minister never said a word about the I.R.A., or about the activities of Communists in this country. He might have said something about these things. The Government's main activity at the present time seems to be in the recruitment of a territorial force which will be officered by men whose crowning military achievement is that they took up arms against the duly constituted authority of this State. That is not very much to their credit. There are lots of other things that they might give their attention to.

If I had much to say—and I have not—to the national policy of the country, I certainly would ban the Blueshirts. I would have no such organisation. I would ban the I.R.A. and have no such organisation. I would ban Communists and their activities. I would drop this idea of a territorial force and would depend on the National Army and on the Gárda Síochána to preserve peace and order in this country, and if these two forces were not strong enough to do that, then I would strengthen them so that they could do it. I would set up a tradition that only the forces of a State would be used for maintaining peace and order and for preserving life and property. I would put the responsibility on the Executive and on the Executive only in connection with these matters and I would hope, ultimately, if I were removed from office, to be able to leave a proud tradition of observance on the part of the [2133] people of the authority of people as represented by the Executive which they themselves had elected to office. I think that would be something to aim at, but as it is, God only knows where we are going, we have so many armies. In certain respects I agree with a great deal the Minister says, but I do not like servants of the State being used for any such purposes as he mentioned. I would prefer that there was no occasion to have any Blueshirt section for the purpose of securing and maintaining a hearing for speakers. I wish that the Government would take its courage in its own hands and deal with all those whose activities may be objected to by reasonable citizens. Some of us will say that the Government which preceded the present Government in office acted fearlessly and governed well. I cannot say that the present Government is governing without a certain fear. I am one of those who wanted to give Mr. de Valera's Government every chance, but if one wants to be as impartial as one wants to be one has to sum up, basing one's deductions and judgments mainly upon what occurred last week, that this Government is not acting fairly and that is a tremendous tragedy. I wonder where it is all going to end.

Cathaoirleach:  Senator Milroy to conclude.

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  I think the speech of the Minister this evening was less lethargic and more energetic than most of the speeches that I have heard him deliver in the other House, but it was also the most unconvincing I have ever heard him make. I would have liked if, instead of this Chamber, the arena had been a law court with the Minister in the witness box and that it was my task to cross-examine him on the evidence he gave here to-day. In that event I think the Minister would leave the witness box without a shred of credibility attaching to his statements. Senator O'Hanlon referred to the outstanding feature of the Minister's statement: his point blank refusal to face the issue upon which I challenged him. It was a definite and unmistakable refusal to show where, when and [2134] to what extent the Young Ireland Association had come within the forbidden grounds outlined in sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act. The Minister did not make a single attempt to show that. I venture to say that, even if he had the slightest iota of evidence or proof, he would have played up that evidence for all it was worth. He tried to make play with a paragraph that appeared in the newspapers, to which I referred, about the man called Bolton. I only happened to see that last night. I do not believe all that I read in newspapers, but that case struck me as typical of many incidents that have happened. The explanation of the Minister is one which I do not intend to question, but will the Minister give a similar explanation with regard to this piece of news which appeared in the Irish Press? It is a resolution passed by the County Kerry Executive of Fianna Fáil, and it says: “The masses of the people feel that freedom of speech and of the Press have their just limits, and that when used in time of war or of national crisis to sabotage one's own country those just limits should be defined and enforced.” Do those people now speak the mind of the organisation in Kerry and of the national executive of that organisation?

Do they not speak the mind of the Ministers whom they support? At least I have seen nothing yet of repudiation of such an attitude towards freedom on the part of the present Executive Council. Not only did the Minister fail to answer my challenge but he tried to side-track it. First he introduced General O'Duffy's report in 1932. I ask him what has that to do with the Young Ireland Association? He made a rehash of certain arguments used against the National Guard. If he wishes to raise the propriety and wisdom of banning the National Guard that is an issue upon which I shall be very glad to meet him, but that is not the issue to-day. The National Guard were banned, and a body of decent, straight young men who formed that organisation believed that they had been [2135] treated unjustly. I believe so too. They endeavoured to comply with the law, and, at the same time, maintain an organisation that would carry on legitimate, worth-while work. The Minister brings up a rehash of these old arguments to deal with an entirely new situation. I am not surprised the Minister has referred to such things as these. It is very difficult for the Minister, and I think it would be indiscreet of him, to give the really true setting of the Government's attitude in an accurate form. It would be indiscreet and would give away the issue.

The present Government has indulged in a series of antics and exploits which judged separately seem to be chaotic and irrelevant and, sometimes, savouring of imbecility as unrelated to each other. The only way I can illustrate this is that taken separately they seem meaningless but when pieced together they fit in and form a definite picture and carry a definite idea. Since the Minister has failed to give that explanation I would like to endeavour to supply what he omitted. This suppression of the Young Ireland Association is only a part of a definitely considered and deliberate policy on the part of the Government. Certain matters which would seem to be an explanation or revelation of their policy take one back some time. There has been for some time past a definite policy carried on by certain Ministers to defame the leaders who are the spokesmen of their opponents in politics in this country. That policy is definite and unmistakable. The Minister for Finance speaking on 19th September last said:

“I am sorry to say that while we have the support of every thinking Irishman, there are unfortunately reactionary and imperialistic elements in the country with the help of a reactionary and imperialistic Press, spreading the spirit of faction amongst us, and in this connection I recall the old saying: ‘It never was the Sassenach that beat us, it was the Gael that beat us.’ Ireland's cause has often been [2136] betrayed before; but never except when public life in Ireland has been as degraded as in the days of Castlereagh has Irish treachery flaunted itself in the public eye. In the past we have had Sham Squires, Leonard McNallys and Captain O'Sheas and a host of other furtive secret hypocrites, posing as patriots. But until Cumann na nGaedheal gave the lead such men did not dare come into the open. How long will the true Irish farmers, the working farmers, the class whose courage and endurance won the Land War and the Black-and-Tan War allow their name to be dishonoured by such as these? ‘Knaves and traitors stand aside, way for Ireland—Fág an bealach.’”

That was the beginning or at least it was one of the initial episodes of this campaign. On the 20th January, referring to Mr. Cosgrave's promise that if elected he will reduce the annuities payable by the farmers by one-half, Mr. MacEntee asked “if the people would have faith in the oath of a Judas. Would they be misled by the pledge of a Pitt or the promise of a Castlereagh?” On the 28th September the President intervened with his false charge against General Mulcahy. When questioned subsequently it was perfectly clear, and was of course admitted, that there was not a single shred of truth in that charge. What was still more striking was that not the faintest means had been taken to ascertain the truth or otherwise of this charge before giving publicity to it. Just before that President de Valera made his charge in Dundalk against the Waterford farmers. He said it was made generally, but the facts and circumstances made it clear that there was no other case to which he could have been referring except that of the Waterford farmers. These men were then brought before the Military Tribunal and acquitted on that count. Let me give one more quotation from Mr. MacEntee against Mr. Cosgrave:

“That man challenges us to put him in jail. Well, we are asking the Irish people to jail him in the pages of Irish history. And we will have [2137] his name spat upon as the names of Carey, Nagle, Leonard McNally, Pitt and Castlereagh and every other man who betrayed the Irish people.”

I shall give one last citation. This is from the Irish Press of last Monday—propaganda by suggestion. The headline across the page reads: “Blueshirt Scenes. Bombs and Destruction.” The bombs and destruction, of course, were in Spain, but to the average casual observer, the headline associates the bombs and destruction with the Blueshirt scenes. What I want to suggest is that this action of the Government in regard to the Young Ireland Association is simply a part of this policy. They have so worked themselves up to a pitch of hysteria in regard to opponents of their policy that they are determined that if, by this kind of denunciation, their opponents cannot be silenced, their policy of stifling them shall be pursued by any means that come to their hands until that object is secured. They were quite satisfied to have the operation of political opposition when that political opposition was met with intimidation and violence and was gradually becoming afraid to open its mouth. They could say, as President de Valera said, that the Government cannot make people or a cause popular. That kind of freedom of speech is not the kind of freedom of speech the Government would have sponsored, of course, but when that situation was developing and when there arose the organised effort of the youth of the country to cope with these disturbers of public peace and to secure that there would be freedom of speech for the critics of the Government and for those who stood for democracy in this State, then the Government discovered that their idea of freedom of speech, which means in the net result freedom of speech only for the Government and its spokesmen, was something which was likely to disappear. Accordingly, the suppression of this organisation must take place.

I am almost finished now but I have something to add which, I think, is important. There is one piece missing from this jigsaw policy of the Government. That piece which was missing [2138] and which has not yet been supplied was the letter which President de Valera expected to get from Mr. Thomas and which would create the atmosphere that would enable them to stampede the country into an election under the cry of definite and avowed aggression from England. That was the piece of jigsaw puzzle that was missing. President de Valera, the other night, thought that he would try to substitute Lord Hailsham's rather——

Mrs. Clarke: Information on Kathleen Clarke  Zoom on Kathleen Clarke  Stupid statement.

Mr. Milroy: Information on Seán Milroy  Zoom on Seán Milroy  ——well, stupid and inaccurate statement for the reply from Mr. Thomas which was not forthcoming. Well, it was no effective substitute, and they realise that now. They talk about maintaining peace and securing freedom. Mr. de Valera has insisted time and time again that before this country can have peace the nation must have freedom of choice to decide its destiny. I venture to say that if there is one thing that stands out clearly it is that the electors of this country are not going to have freedom of choice at the next General Election if the present Government can prevent it. Before you hope to get freedom of decision as between Ireland and England, at least let us have freedom of decision for the electorate of this State in their own internal affairs. I have one last and brief word to say. President de Valera, in an interview with the Sunday Chronicle last Sunday, said:

“The fact is, there can be no good relations between the two countries until the Treaty goes nor real peace in Ireland.”

His challenge to the people is that there will be no peace in this country while the Treaty lasts. I want to say this, that if the Treaty which we stood for in 1921, 1923 and since, and which I believe the vast majority of the people of Ireland are standing for since, was worth in its beginning all the sacrifices it cost to bring it about and to maintain it, it is trebly worth it now as a result of the expansion of freedom we have secured through it.

[2139]Cathaoirleach:  Senator Milroy has moved the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a question of national importance. The question is that the House adjourn and it is for me to put the question now. If the motion is carried the House adjourns instantly. If not, we proceed to the [2140] next business. The question is that the House do now adjourn.

Question put and declared carried.

The Seanad adjourned at 9.10 p.m. until Thursday, 14th December, 1933, at 3 p.m.

Last Updated: 17/05/2011 15:31:37 First Page Previous Page Page of 16 Next Page Last Page