Censorship—Motion.

Thursday, 27 January 1944

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 28 No. 10

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Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I move:—

That the Seanad invites an explanation from the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures in regard to the attitude adopted towards the censorship of the book entitled The House of Gregory.

I find among certain Senators and members of the public who have seen this notice of motion considerable ignorance of what it involves. That, perhaps, is natural, but I should like to say at the outset that it involves matters of very grave Constitutional import, and I do hope that I shall have the attention and the sympathy of the House in what I have to say. In that connection, I make an appeal that members of the House will approach this matter more in the spirit of jurymen than from any standpoint of Party allegiance. I think you [711] will find that those remarks are justified when you hear the case as it develops.

Now, it has been suggested that I, on account of my rather bad reputation, am about to make another attack upon our moral stronghold. I can assure you that there is nothing of that kind in this motion. My case has no more to do with book censorship than—what shall I say—the Daily Mail has to do with the Book of Kells. Those of you who have seen the book may say that it is not a work of any great importance, and you may wonder why it is brought forward in this motion at all. You may fail to see, at first sight, that the issue is of very grave importance. Well, I hope to show you that, if the author of this book is judged on the treatment he has received, it would justify his name going down to history. It is as important as that of John Wilkes, who created big constitutional issues in Georgian politics in the 18th century, who made and unmade Governments, if I am, or my history is, correct, and who, largely on account of the notoriety he obtained by his martyrdom, so to speak, and by his treatment, was made Lord Mayor of London. I think that the issues involved here are so great that the author of this book, Mr. Vere Gregory, may claim to be almost as important as Captain Dreyfus, who, apart from the cause for which he suffered, was a comparatively unimportant officer in the French Army. Captain Dreyfus was a man who, by reason of his race, would not naturally receive much sympathy, but the treatment he received convulsed Europe, one might say, and almost led Europe into international complications. In the same way, you have the case of John Brown, whose treatment largely led to the American Civil War.

You may think I am exaggerating in setting up such examples as compared with a small country like this. The country in which these things take place is small, but I think that the principles involved are just as grave and important. All these men stood for the vital principles of liberty; their names stand inscribed [712] in the roll of famous men, and I feel that Mr. Gregory's name would deserve to be so inscribed.

Now, what I am setting out to prove is that the treatment that this author has received in reference to this publication is, first of all, a violation of literary freedom; secondly, that it constitutes a gross act of personal injustice, and thirdly, that it also constitutes an inroad into Parliamentary rights, and I suggest that it is a rather serious triple bill which the Minister will have to meet. I rather welcome that this has come up in a specific form, because it is always difficult to get these matters convincingly stated in the form of generalities. I understand that we may possibly be having a debate, some time in the future, on the whole general question of Press censorship, and if that follows I feel that this specific case will be a fitting prelude to that general debate because it will show you in detail what is happening, and what has happened in at least one specific case.

I should like to say a word about the author. The author served a career in the service of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and when he retired, like many retired men, he felt rather lonely and at a loose end because of the lack of occupation. Now, I feel that we ought to have sympathy with men who, in their retirement, are looking for something to do. We have heard about the dangerous age. That age, in most people's minds, is associated with a climacteric, but in this case, I think, the dangerous age, very often, is when a man becomes out of occupation and feels that he has nothing to do with his leisure. It is well known that men rapidly deteriorate when they are in that position. One can easily imagine this man saying to himself: “I shall write a book on my experiences, and around my family history, with illustrations of my active life,” and he wrote the book which is now in question. I have no doubt that he said to himself: “It will cost me a bit of money to write this book; you cannot expect publishers, in the case of a probably unknown person, to take the risk of publication, and I want to safeguard myself as far as possible against [713] loss.” Accordingly, knowing, or having heard, possibly, of the ways and dangers of censorship in this country, he said: “I will safeguard myself, and I will submit this book to the Censor.” In due course he did so. I have not got the date on which the proofs went to the Censor, but I do not think that that is material. At any rate, they were returned on 29th June, stamped “Passed by Censor”. They were recalled by the Censor, for some reason which does not appear, on 22nd July, and were again returned by the Censor on 24th August, without comment.

Now, put yourself into that position. Would you not imagine that, your book having been censored, you could expect publication without restriction, and that you could more or less safely take at least the commercial risk in the sales and costs involved; and so the author went ahead. I do not, of course, know what explanation or what defence the Minister will make, although I think that the Minister is on trial in this matter, and I use the word “defence” advisedly. He may say that this man departed from the instructions of the Censor, that he put in certain additional matter, and that he also put in certain matter which had been deleted. Well, on the face of that, one might say that that was an offence, but I will ask you to address yourself to what the matter was. After all, this thing is not a question of law, but a question of facts. I agree that if the matter inserted was really obnoxious, it would be all right. I will have to weary you by reading this matter that was deleted by the Censor and inserted by the author. The author was very anxious to place on record the services of his son who was in the British Navy, and, together with a large number of deletions, certain references to the services of his son had been deleted. They were not really inserted at the same place in the book, but in another place. In the original manuscript they appeared in connection with certain criticisms of the absence of adequate life-saving appliances on British warships.

I will concede to the Minister that perhaps it was desirable—not that I can see that it matters very much now [714]—that the book should not comment on the adequacy of life-saving apparatus, although it took place in the early days of the war. However, these are the remarks:

“My son, Commander Gregory, R.N., was a naval officer on the Royal Oak when she was torpedoed, and would undoubtedly have lost his life along with 800 companions who perished, but for the fact of being a very powerful swimmer. Fortunately for him, he was still on deck when the first torpedo struck her. When three more came for her in rapid succession, he knew that she was doomed and would sink in a few minutes. Accordingly, he stripped to his underwear, and when the ship heeled over he clambered up her side; and so, when she turned turtle, he found himself sitting beside the keel. Three stoker ratings had followed his example. One of them at once produced a packet of cigarettes, and another a box of matches, and all four began to smoke. While discussing the novel situation, an ominous movement of the vessel told them that it was time to look for a better hold. After swimming a short distance they were all picked up by a pinnace already overcrowded. Hardly had they been packed into her when several other men tried to clamber on board on the same side, with the result that she capsized, and nearly all on board were trapped underneath. Most of these unfortunate men, obeying a natural instinct, just struggled upwards and were caught in the tangled mass inside the upturned boat.

My son dived down and outwards, and so came up clear, but saw no more of any of his late companions. He was then faced with two alternatives—to swim for the shore, a matter of about half a mile, or to remain where he was until daybreak, then about four hours' distant. Most men would have struck out for the shore at once, but my son realised that all the thick oil from the engines was setting that way with the tide, and that he would be choked before getting half-way to land. Accordingly, he resolved to remain floating [715] around, and after about two hours he thought he heard a boat moving near at hand, and hailed her. Happily his surmise was correct. She proved to be a ship's whaler searching for survivors, and he was taken on board.”

That is the extent of the deleted matter which reappears in the book. Considering the censorship as a means to protect national security or to secure better relations with friendly Governments, I need hardly say that no one could see how any possible harm or any possible violation of any safeguards could be contained in that reinsertion. The Minister may say that that is all right, and that there is no harm in that, but that the author has put in certain additional matter which was never submitted to the Censor. This may weary you, but I must read it, in view of the fact that the matter is important, considering the gravity of the whole case.

Minister for Co-ordination of Defensive Measures (Mr. Aiken): Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  If the Senator is going to read all that out on the basis that I am going to object to it, he need not trouble.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I am very glad because it will save the time of the House. I think, however, it is necessary, in order to see the background to this whole thing, to go very briefly through the deleted matter, because it is only right in approaching the question that we should have some idea of the class of matter which the censor is deleting—and it is not only in this book but in many other cases. I will read you certain extracts from the deleted matter. You may be satisfied with the deletions, but I can see no justification on the grounds of national security or that they might jeopardise our relationships with other Powers that such matter should not be published. I, personally, do not think that any of this matter that I am going to read should be deleted, but I am giving the Minister the benefit of the doubt in certain criticisms of British politics before the war, and I am only bringing out certain extracts.

[716]“I think it is generally admitted that the winning of the battle for Britain in the summer of 1940 by the Royal Air Force was only rendered possible by the strong patriotic stand by Sir Hugh Trenchard, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, who flatly refused in the years before the war to agree to any sacrifice of quality for quantity in the matter of planes, when the Government were anxious to save their face by showing a substantial increase in the number of planes without a corresponding increase in expenditure. But for the courageous stand he made, the R.A.F. might have been overwhelmed by the Luftwaffe with disastrous consequences, and it is not too much to say that he saved England from invasion.”

Mr. O'Loghlen: Information on Peter Joseph O'Loghlen  Zoom on Peter Joseph O'Loghlen  On a point of order, I want some enlightenment on this. The motion says that the Seanad invites an explanation from the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures in regard to the attitude adopted towards the censorship of the book entitled The House of Gregory. The Senator is quoting something that is not in the book at all.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: Information on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  Zoom on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  It was taken out of it.

Mr. O'Loghlen: Information on Peter Joseph O'Loghlen  Zoom on Peter Joseph O'Loghlen  The motion says The House of Gregory, but this is not in the book.

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I think it is involved in the censorship of the book entitled The House of Gregory. I do not see how the subject could be debated without going into the antecedents of the censorship.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  The attitude of the Censor towards The House of Gregory surely covers the deletions. I have read a long passage and I am now reading a passage which, if it had not been for the action of the Censor, would have appeared in the book and I am asking the House to be given an indication of how the Censor works, because we are very much puzzled, and we do not get very much opportunity [717] of ascertaining the mysterious manner in which the Censorship operates.

“On his retirement”—this is referring to Sir Hugh Trenchard—“at the close of a long and distinguished career spent, not in the interests of a political Party, but in the service of King and Country, he was created a Baron, the lowest rank in the Peerage, and one which after the Great War was usually reserved for beer and newspaper magnates, and similar merchant princes, who were willing in return for such honours to assist in materially replenishing the depleted coffers of the Liberal Party war chest.

Again, quite recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury retired after a long life spent in the service of his God and his country. His tenure of office embraced the critical period of the abdication and the successful completion of the steps necessary to give effect to that distressing event was in a great measure due to the Archbishop's personal influence and tact.

I say this without wishing to detract in any way from the high praise which is undoubtedly due to Lord Baldwin for the efficient and tactful manner in which he discharged his painful duty in the national tragedy.”

I skip one paragraph so as not to weary the House unduly. It is all more or less on the same line. It continues:—

“As Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, Cosmo Lang ranked in precedence next to the princes of the Royal Family and above all the members of the Peerage. As Baron Lang, he now ranks much lower than an ex-Army Captain, sitting above him in the House of Lords as Viscount Margesson. A strange anomaly not very flattering to either the Church of England or to the Royal Air Force.”

That is not very profound matter. I do not know whether I agree with it, but what right has the Censor to delete that? In what way does that sort of [718] writing jeopardise our national security or our relations with friendly Powers? Does the Minister think the British are going to take objection to that? They have many other things to do, but, even if they had not, they would pass it over with a smile and that would be the end of it. I think the Minister has to tell the House why that was deleted and in what sense our national security is jeopardised by writing of that kind. Otherwise, anything the Minister himself may not approve of as a literary effort, or may not agree with from some political standpoint, will come out and literature will be mutilated and destroyed in an entirely wanton manner. The country will not know what it is deprived of, and what literary efforts may never come to life.

I have given samples of the class of deletions which are taking place, and I now come to what is the main indictment of my case: that, having been censored, those deletions having been made and the additional matter having been substituted—and apparently the Minister does not object—the next thing the Press and the publishing houses know is that no reviews or advertisements are to be allowed in respect of that book. One publishing firm submitted an advertisement in its Christmas list and was told “no”. Two newspapers that I know of had their reviews returned. I hope the House at this stage is as puzzled as I am as to why the Minister took that action. We have to try to seek as best we can, and, in making my case, have to try to seek for some explanation of why the Minister acted as he did. He certainly must have acted as he did because he did not approve of the book. He may say: “I did not approve of the book on reconsideration. After all, what did I do? What I did was a matter of very trifling importance. I allowed the book to circulate, and if you go down Grafton Street or along Nassau Street, you can see this book in shop windows.” But does the Minister allege that to deny all reviews and all advertisements of a book is not a grievous injury to the author? Of course it is. How do people in the country get to know what books are available? Do they not depend largely [719] on reviews and advertisements? We cannot all of us flatten our noses at a few shop windows where books are sold in order to know what books are available. A few of the libraries issue notices of their books. I do not know what view the Minister might have taken if libraries had issued notices of this book, but those reviews and advertisements were stopped.

I do not think I need labour it any further. Any man of common sense must know that action of that kind is a grave injury to an author, and doubly grave when he thought he had unrestricted freedom after the censorship. I admit that there might have been a serious oversight, and a mistake might have happened. It reflects very badly on the whole department of censorship that such a thing should occur, but in the best regulated families mistakes may occur. I do not deny that something might have got through, because the reader might have nodded, which did grievous injury to our national security or to our relations with friendly States. Those are the only grounds, apart from the moral censorship, which does not arise here, on which books can be censored. Let that be perfectly clear. The Minister has not got under any power full and unrestricted licence to cut out anything he likes, though it rather appears that he claims it, or he acts as if he did.

I understand—I need not tell the House how, but the Minister can correct me if I am wrong—that the portion of the book by which he justifies his extraordinary behaviour is the reference to the incident in Croke Park, and I shall have to read that so that the House may judge of the matter. The House knows that the Croke Park affair followed the unfortunate shootings in Mount Street—I have to be careful about the words I use because I am speaking in a neutral assembly—of the courtsmartial officers. This is the passage:—

“The wholesale slaughter——

That refers to Bloody Sunday. I do not like to use the word “murder” and I do not know what word to use. The elimination—that is a good word [720]—of these officers is described in those words:

—caused absolute consternation in Dublin Castle and it was considered essential that immediate steps should be taken to try and make amenable some of the perpetrators before they left the city.

That afternoon a Gaelic football match between teams representing the Counties of Tipperary and Dublin was to be held at Croke Park, and as it was considered highly probable that many of those who had taken part in the murders would be present at the match it was decided to send a detachment of Black-and-Tans to the ground to search the spectators for arms or incriminating documents.

When the first lorry load of Black-and-Tans entered the ground, they alleged that some shots were fired at them. They then opened fire killing 12 people including Hogan, a stalwart member of the Tipperary team, and wounding about 60 others. A large number of revolvers were picked up on the ground, but no one was caught with a weapon on his person.

The officer in charge on this occasion subsequently served under me, and I discussed with him the incidents of Bloody Sunday, as I wanted to know what he hoped to achieve by taking a lorry load of men to search a crowd of 10,000 men on a football ground.

He told me his orders were to search the crowd, and that if any opposition was offered he was to return the fire and to shoot as many of the Tipperary team as possible, and on no account to let Hogan escape. Accordingly he included in his party a man whom he knew to be a dead shot with the rifle. He asserted that on arrival at Croke Park some shots were fired at his party as soon as they entered the gates, and he accordingly ordered his men to return the fire. Hogan was pointed out to the marksman, who put his rifle to his shoulder, pressed the trigger, and Hogan dropped dead. One of his companions exclaimed: [721]‘What a damned fluke!' ‘Was it?’ he replied. ‘Watch the ball.’ Up till then very few people were aware of the drama which was being enacted before their eyes and the ball was still in play. As it bounced across the field, the marksman again raised his rifle, fired, and the football collapsed literally like a pricked bladder.”

I think myself that is a rather tall story, but I go on:—

“The crowd now fled in terror across the field, mingling with the players and effectually screening them from the Crown Forces. Seeing that there were many women and children amongst the spectators, the officer in charge ordered his men to cease fire.

Even if this story is true I am quite sure that the orders did not emanate from any responsible official, military or civilian, in Dublin Castle. It may be wondered why Hogan was marked down for special attention. Some months earlier two policemen had been shot in Tipperary, and as it was suspected that one of their assailants was named Hogan, it was thought possible that the football player of that name might be the wanted man. It was an unlucky name to bear at that time, for several Hogans were shot ‘unofficially' in the hope that one of them might be the guilty man, but as a matter of fact the real culprit got clean away to America while the going was good and his unfortunate namesakes suffered for his crime.”

That is the passage which I understand —the Minister may have other passages—has caused the Minister to act as he has done. Let me make this point first. If the desire is to avoid animosity with friendly Powers, they have only got to read the book and their animosity is created. If the passage is likely to create animosity or to endanger our national security the book is in circulation. I understand that the Minister says that he will not have an unseemly newspaper controversy provoked by reviews or advertisements of this book. Examine it. Is there any reason whatever to assume that any reviewer will necessarily [722] dwell on that passage at all? There has been one review of the book which the State Censor passed. That review makes no reference whatever to the Croke Park incident. Assuming that some other reviews did refer to it, has the Minister not got power straight away to stop an unseemly controversy? Has he not used that power already to delete references to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir Hugh Trenchard? Surely if he has justification for that, he has justification for censoring what he considers a dangerous newspaper controversy. My point is that if that is what the Minister is afraid of, he should have waited until the newspaper controversy had arisen and that he should not have done the great injustice he has done to this author by refusing to allow reviews or advertisements of this book to appear.

I understand further that what the Minister objects to is this suggestion that the British acted in a dastardly manner, as the author suggests, by attacking several people and shooting indiscriminately into the crowd. I am glad to see that the Minister is concerned for the good name of the British. Times have moved since the previous censorship debate, when I brought up the question of the deletion of the Royal Arms from the background of a photograph in which he appeared. He said he had been taken in that position, with the Royal Arms behind him, with the purpose of humiliating him. So much to the good, therefore, that he now values the good name of our former rulers, and is prepared to defend it.

We have also to examine other publications that have been allowed to appear without any restriction whatever. I do not object to that, not for one moment, because I want everything to appear. I want no censorship of any kind except of pornography or of blatent indecency. Do not think that I am asking for censorship; I am merely asking the Minister to explain the extraordinary inconsistencies of the censorship department. I should first like to refer to a rather minor case, that is, to certain passages in Bowenscourt, about the burning of barracks, the actions of Irish troops, [723] and the conflict between different sections of the Irish Army which, to my mind, are just as objectionable from the Minister's standpoint as the passages that I have read out that have been deleted. There is a rather amusing passage here in reference to the late Mr. Bowen, who came to live in Dublin. He went to a restaurant——

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I am afraid the Senator is rather widening the scope of the debate.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I do claim the right to examine the consistency of the censorship department. I shall not be very long on this, but at least I claim the right to refer to one publication, because the Minister says he wants to prevent the publication of anything provocative or dangerous to the public interest or the national security. I have here an extraordinary publication called Orange Terror. I am not going to wade through Orange Terror; the House need not be afraid. I am going to read only one passage from Orange Terror that is certainly provocative and that is not calculated to make for better relations with a friendly power. Here is the passage:

“In other words, Britain—the contriver and maintainer of a mutilated Ireland—Britain who utilises astutely the envenomed ascendancy of the settlers as an instrument for holding our Six Counties to serve as a second Gibraltar for her Empire——”

Then later on in the same publication we read this:—

“How can any amelioration of the Irish Catholic helot's lot in Northern Ireland be secured but by political action?”

This appeared over the signature of a gentleman called William A. Magennis. The name was familiar to me and then when I looked at the table of contents, I saw that it was Senator William Magennis who made these remarks, and these remarks have been allowed to pass uncensored. I would have expected at least from a man of his literary eminence and undoubtedly close knowledge of language something [724] a little more temperate than the word “helot”, which I understand signifies a condition of absolute slavery, as applied to our countrymen across the Border. There is also a book called the Irish Citizen Army. I am not going to read from that publication, as the Cathaoirleach has suggested that I should not widen the scope of the motion, but there are references in that book to happenings in 1916 which are every bit as provocative as the description of the Croke Park incident—remarks about women being armed in the battle line—and if somebody wanted to raise a newspaper controversy on them, there is ample matter there which would be just as fertile of trouble as a discussion on the Croke Park scenes.

I reach this conclusion here—I have to examine it very briefly; others, I hope, will do it in more detail—as to the question of the Minister's powers. The Minister has very wide powers, as we know, under the Emergency Act. More specifically his powers over Press censorship are contained in Order 151. I will put this briefly, because others will, I hope, do it in more detail, that once a book has passed the Censor—a publication, which includes a book is the definition—it cannot be seized. It does not say reviews and notices cannot be forbidden, but surely, in equity, if passing the Censor exempts from being seized—and, after all, we do approach these things in the spirit of equity— exemption should also apply in other directions; there should be freedom to circulate and there should not be any restrictions in the matter of advertisements and reviews.

Whatever lawyers may say, I consider that the Minister's action in respect of this book is definitely illegal. It might be said, “If it is illegal, why not take him to the courts?” Would that be a serious suggestion, that a man like the author, with his financial resources, should take the Government to court, possibly to the Court of Appeal? This is the court, and I hope it is the court that will give judgment in this whole matter. If the Minister's action is not illegal, I consider, and I will use the words [725] advisedly, that his action was dishonourable and unjust.

Having reached this stage, the Minister must have felt that he might be able to get away with it; but worse, in my opinion, is to come. This matter got talked about a lot; some of us got interested in it. I made inquiries, and I felt it was certainly a case that should come before the House. Accordingly, I put down a motion in the terms now on the Order Paper. What happened next? In the case of one paper, at least, that motion was deleted by the Censor. I suggest that in doing so the Minister has made a flagrant attack on our Parliamentary rights and privileges, and that is the most serious aspect of the whole indictment.

I understood that this is the first time any notice of motion has been censored. The Minister and the officials of his Department know more about this than I do, and he may tell me I am wrong. I understand there was a notice of motion submitted by a former Senator, Mr. MacDermot, dealing with the question of better relations or some understanding with America arising out of our neutral position. It was a motion bearing on a rather delicate situation, and some of us pressed the Senator not to bring it forward. For a few days that notice of motion was withheld from publication, but subsequently it appeared. I am afraid the Minister's use of powers was growing in audacity. In this case the blue pencil went down and the notice was censored—in the words of the Press, it was “killed”.

This is a matter which requires rather closer examination. When these emergency powers were being taken in the early stages of the war, we all realised that they must be very wide, that our national security must come first, and we could not allow reckless speech or reckless publication and, in these circumstances, the Oireachtas gave the Government very wide powers. But, whenever any Deputy or Senator stressed the danger of giving wide powers, what were we told? We were [726] told: “You always have the Parliament in the last resort; you can always come back to the fountain-head of power, bring the matter up and get the Government to explain.” Does the Minister suggest that a Parliament without publicity is an adequate safeguard of our public rights, or, otherwise, that we had better meet always in secret session?

A large portion of the value of Parliament is that the public shall learn fully what has been said in our Legislature. I claim that a member of Parliament, a member of either House, has full right to put down a motion to debate any subject he wishes to bring forward and he has a right to full publicity. I claim the right, if I wished to do so, to put down a motion that we should enter the war or that we should hand over the ports to the Allies, and I claim that the Government has no right to censor that motion.

In view of the Minister's new-found friendship, he may have some sympathy with the attitude of the British Parliament in this matter. I will tell him, but he probably knows it, that the one body that is free from any overhaul or analysis in the matter of censorship is the House of Commons. That was the position in the last war and the position also in this. However indiscreet may be a statement made by a Member of Parliament there, the Press Censor cannot delete it. I have no doubt there is the protection of the Members' conscience—Members of Parliament, patriotic people, do not use dangerous language. I have no doubt whatever that if statements are made which might benefit the enemy, the Government would go to the newspaper editor, the Press Association, or whatever the body may be, and would say: “I think you ought not to publish the statement made by X,” and they would say: “Certainly, it will not be published.” This is the point I want to make. If the editor of any paper said: “No, I think that ought to be published in the public interest,” the Government would have no power to stop it. That is the way the thing has worked, and is worked still. A book written on this subject throws an interesting sidelight on that aspect. [727] The indiscretions that occurred in the last war in the British House of Commons—they were few in number—were made by Ministers. They had certain information in their possession and we all know it is very easy in making a speech to give a hint which may appear innocent but which may be of great value to the enemy.

I want the Minister to answer this definite question: does he claim the right to censor notices of Parliamentary business or the debates of Parliament? If he does, the matter is not going to end there. I would not press this matter and I would not appear to be so emphatic if I did not feel that this was not an isolated case. This is symptomatic of a lot that is going on in the censorship department to-day. I feel, and it is only natural, that this dictator attitude grows very easily in an unrestricted atmosphere. The Minister has got these very wide powers little by little. He uses them, and at last the time has come when I feel he has grown intoxicated by the use of power. I feel that it is in the interests of all sections in this House, and especially the Labour section, who may one day find itself under the blue pencil of our rulers——

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Donal OSullivan  Zoom on Donal OSullivan  They have already.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I think the time has come when the Minister should go back to his political primer and should realise the proper attitude to Parliament. The Minister should realise that Ministers are the servants of Parliament. It is time he was told that its rights cannot be recklessly overridden, and that he cannot use his position to favour his vanity, his amour propre. He has a duty to his office in the nature of a judge, and has got to balance carefully the factors of public security as against personal liberty. Above all, he has got to reflect that he has to pay every respect—meticulous respect—to the rights of the representatives of the sovereign people—that is the Parliament. Really, it is rather sad that after 25 years of political independence we should now have to emphasise these elementary rights of a [728] free people. In so far as we have to do it, I feel this debate may have been of advantage, and if it is published I feel that it will show the country that this House, at least, is vigilant in the protection of the rights of a free people.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Donal OSullivan  Zoom on Donal OSullivan  I am seconding the motion. In view of the importance of the subject I cannot promise to be short. It is now 6 o'clock. I am in the hands of the House as to whether Senators wish me to go on or move the adjournment.

Senators:  Move the adjournment.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Donal OSullivan  Zoom on Donal OSullivan  I move the adjournment.

Business suspended at 6.5 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Donal OSullivan  Zoom on Donal OSullivan  I have seconded the motion which has been moved by Senator Sir John Keane. I should like to say that, owing to circumstances beyond my own control, it will be necessary for me to leave the Chamber almost immediately after I have concluded my speech, and therefore I should like to apologise for the seeming discourtesy to you, Sir, to the Minister, and the House. I have never met Dr. Vere Gregory, the author of this book, except casually and accidentally in the ante-room of this House, nor have I ever had any correspondence with him; but I have read this book with great interest, and I have had the advantage of seeing the letters which passed between his publishers, Messrs. Browne and Nolan, and the Controller of Censorship.

I want to say at the beginning that this is the kind of book that is altogether to my taste. It is the sort of book that I have often encouraged other people to write, and have occasionally assisted people to write. That is to say, it is largely a history of a family that has been domiciled in this country for many generations, and that, in the person of Dr. Vere Gregory, who lives in Donegal, is still here. He is a cousin of Sir William Gregory, the celebrated husband of the still more celebrated Lady Gregory, who was one of the [729] founders of the Abbey Theatre. His book contains an account of the Gregory family in Ireland, interspersed with the writer's own reminiscences and comments on current affairs. The author was a County Inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary during the closing years of that force. Hence, he had personal knowledge of the disturbed and difficult period leading to the Treaty of 1921. Naturally, in these personal reminiscences, there are a few stories about murders committed by both sides. Now, these are not picked for their sensationalism, but because they came his way or for some particular reason—for example, the shocking tragedy of Sir Arthur Vicars, of Kilmorna, near Listowel. Another case, of which he had not personal knowledge, he tells—and the fact does him great credit—because he wished to clear the name of Lady Gregory, his kinswoman, of an absurd charge of collusion with certain people that had been made against her. On this question of atrocity and counter-atrocity, I want to make this point—it is the kind of thing that is unavoidable in revolution. Arthur Griffith said at a time when such things were beginning to happen—and these are, I think, very important words:

“The military mind is the same in every country. Our military men are as bad as the British. They think of nothing but their own particular end and cannot be brought to consider the political consequences of their proceedings.”

An astonishing fact—but it still is a fact—is that Dr. Vere Gregory is just as severe on the Black-and-Tans as he is on the Irish Republican Army—perhaps more severe. For example, he says:—

“Such methods have failed to achieve their purpose in every country in which they have been employed. They certainly failed in Ireland. During the Great War, they failed in Belgium. In the case of Kevin Barry, the only result was to add another name to the roll of Irish martyrs.”

Including these occasional reminiscences and taking the book as a whole, [730] one might say that it is the book of a man whose heart is overflowing with charity and kindness. He has no harsh word for any side. Further, these passages form only a very small part of the book. Any reviewer concentrating on them to the exclusion of the rest of the book would be writing a grossly unfair review. I myself have seen no such review. I doubt if any responsible reviewer in this country would write such a review.

Now, I come to the question of the law on the subject. Senator Sir John Keane mentioned that, but not quite in the way I should like to do, though there was nothing specially inaccurate in what he said. The law is the Emergency Powers (No. 151) Order, 1942, Statutory Rules and Orders (No. 45), 1942, made by the Government in exercise of the powers conferred on them by the Emergency Powers Act, 1939, on the day that Germany attacked Poland—1st September, 1939. The relevant provisions, in so far as books are concerned, are contained in Articles 4 and 5 of the Order. I shall read the part of Article 4 which is applicable:—

“Whenever an authorised person——”

that is to say, the Minister or the Controller of Censorship or any such officer as defined in the Order—

“is of opinion that the publication of any matter contained in any document or the public exhibition of any document would be prejudicial to the public safety or the preservation of the State or the maintenance of public order or would be likely to lead to a breach of the peace or to cause offence to the people of a friendly foreign nation, he may, subject to the provisions of this Order, direct the seizure of such document.”

Those are the five causes or grounds for seizure and, in effect, “seizure” means what we call “banning”. Note the five grounds—public safety, preservation of the State, maintenance of public order, breach of the peace and the causing of offence to people of a friendly nation. Those are the only grounds. Otherwise, any seizure— that is to say, any banning—of a book. [731] would be ultra vires the Order. Of course, there is no legal redress for any action taken ultra vires.

Next I quote Article 5:—

“Where (a), a person who proposes to print, publish, distribute or sell any publication, submits such publication to an authorised person before so doing, and (b) such authorised person permits such printing, publishing, distributing, selling, no direction shall be given under Article 4 of this Order in respect of such publication.”

That is to say, if a person submits his manuscript or typescript of a proposed book to the Censor and the Censor permits such printing, then the writer and the publisher can go ahead in the knowledge that, under this Order, the book cannot be banned, because no direction can be given under Article 4 in respect of it.

Now, I come to the actual time-table with regard to Messrs. Browne and Nolan's book, written by Dr. Vere Gregory. According to the dates given to me, Messrs Browne and Nolan sent the galleys to the Controller of Censorship on the 18th June, 1943. That is to say, they complied with Article 5. On the 29th June, the proofs were returned, stamped “Passed by Censor,” with the exception of certain passages marked “Stopped by Censor”. I shall not go into the question raised by Senator Sir John Keane as regards certain deletions. I understood the Minister to say that, so far as he was concerned, they were unimportant. My friend, Senator Kingsmill Moore, points out to me that, in the concluding paragraph of the letter sent to the Managing Director of Messrs. Browne and Nolan on the 29th June, returning the galleys, the Controller of Censorship said:—

“I have delayed dealing with this matter in order that I might have an opportunity of consulting those who are wiser than myself. This I have now done, and perhaps it was as well because my personal view was that Mr. Gregory's autobiography was too unimportant to matter, and I think that if I had been depending on my [732] private stock of wisdom I would not have bothered to make any changes.”

When he writes in that way, he is not offering criticism. What he means is that, from his special point of view as Censor and in view of the number of copies proposed to be published, the question was too unimportant to matter. But Senators will note that the controller wished to have an opportunity of consulting those who were wiser than himself: Who they might be is rather left to speculation. The proofs having been passed subject to deletion, the book came within Article 5. That is, any power that might have existed to stop its sale had come to an end. I am sorry to have to go through some of the points that have already been mentioned by Senator Sir John Keane but this is very necessary and important. On the 22nd July, the proofs were asked for again. In the absence of the controller on holiday, a telephone request was received from his deputy that the censored proofs be returned for a few days. Actually, these few days lengthened into three weeks. They were returned without any comment on the 14th August. Now, this strikes me, and must strike any reasonable man, as very odd indeed. The book had passed through the machinery provided in Article 5. It had passed the the Censor. The Censor was functus officio in regard to that book, if words mean anything, and yet it was requested that the galleys be sent back and they were kept for three weeks. I am coming back to that point again. I will leave it there now.

The book was published on the 20th October. The Censor's action in passing it under Article 5 having prevented its suppression, all possible steps were taken to prevent its sale. As Senator Sir John Keane told you, the very mention of it in the publisher's catalogue was deleted. Advertisements for it were not allowed by the Censor to appear. So innocent a notice in the December number of The Bell as this: “The House of Gregory comes from Browne and Nolan, Limited, at 15/-” was blue-pencilled; and the reviews were stopped. The managing director of Messrs. Browne and Nolan, Limited, [733] very properly, wrote to the Minister on the 3rd December, 1943:—

“Dear Sir—On 20th October, 1943, this firm published on behalf of Dr. Vere Gregory, Laputa, Bally-shannon, County Donegal, a book entitled The House of Gregory at the published price of 15/-, being the story of the Gregory family in Ireland.

Before publication, we submitted the book in galley proofs formally to the Controller of Censorship, who passed the work for publication, subject to certain suggested amendments all of which were, of course, gratefully accepted and carried out. Mr. Gregory paid the expenses of printing and publication and a limited edition of 1,000 copies of the book was produced.

We have now learned, to our very great surprise, that certain reviews of the book have been censored, and have been refused publication, and in addition, that even references to the book in advertisements and book lists have been censored. We are enclosing for your information a proof from the current issue of The Bell which the publishers of that magazine, as a matter of courtesy, have sent to us. We have also been advised by the Censor that no mention of the book in the public Press will be permitted from now on.”——

I repeat that—

“We have also been advised by the Censor that no mention of the book in the public Press will be permitted from now on.

It is extremely difficult for us to understand why publication of the book should be passed by the Censor, while references to it, even in so bald a form as ‘Vere Gregory's autobiographical The House of Gregory, comes from Browne & Nolan at 15/-' have been forbidden.

Had we been advised by the authorities when the proof pages were submitted that publication was thought to be against the principles of the State, it is unnecessary to say that we would have loyally abided by that decision and not proceeded with publication. The position now, however, [734] is that Dr. Gregory has incurred an expenditure of between £300 and £400, and, owing to the action of the censorship, as publishers we are unable to give him the service which is due to him to enable him to sell his book. You will appreciate that a book essentially depends upon advertising and reviews, and to stop this is really to throttle at the source the sales of the book.

We are enclosing for your information a copy of the book in question, and would with great respect submit that there is nothing in it which is in any way likely to affect the interests of the State. We would also stress that the edition of 1,000 copies is a limited one. There will not be a reprint of the book owing to the paper shortage, and in these circumstances we would appreciate if the decision of the authorities could be altered so as to permit the necessary reviews and advertisements.

This appallingly drastic action, confessedly, that no mention of the book in the public Press of any kind would be permitted from then on, was taken under the same statutory rule and order, but not under the same article. In the articles referring to newspapers there are no grounds given, but common sense suggests that the grounds are the same five grounds, because they cover everything that could be relevant: the security of the State, public safety, the preservation of the State, the maintenance of public order, a breach of the peace or causing offence to people of a friendly nation. Though even the bare title was deleted from The Bell, and though the Censor's own ruling was that nothing would be permitted to appear in the papers, even there they are not consistent, because the following review did appear in the Cork Examiner of the 15th November, 1943, that is 12 days later. I am going to read this because it is a typical review and it has been allowed to be published. It is a review by an anonymous reviewer of the book. It [735] says in it nothing at all likely to cause a breach of the peace or at all likely to cause embroilment with the people of a friendly nation:—

“The family of Gregory originated in England. Members came over and settled in Ireland, where they acquired estates. One of them took a considerable part in the defence of Derry, and afterwards settled in Kerry, while one of his sons preferred Galway. The latter was father of Robert Gregory, who became chairman of the East India Company. It is said he left Galway as a stowaway, but he had introductions to prominent persons in India, and through these obtained a writership and clerkship in the company. He managed to amass a fortune, and when little over 40 he returned to England, and thenceforward lived a life of affluence. A descendant in the last century who served as Governor of Ceylon, and an English M.P., was the husband of the famous Augusta Lady Gregory who, having survived her husband for several decades, died only a few years ago. The author of this family memoir was a cousin of Sir William Gregory. He became a student of Trinity College, and graduated there in Arts and Law, and joined the old R.I.C. as a cadet. He was stationed in North Kerry during part of the ‘Troubles', and subsequently in Antrim. While in Kerry he had a day's fishing under the protection of an I.R.A. leader. Unfortunately, he landed not a single fish. If he did, he would have it preserved as a fish poached by a police officer without a licence or the permission of the owner, under the auspices of an I.R.A. man. In the North he did not find people so accommodating. He was asked by a fly-tying fanatic to secure feathers of a game-cock killed in November. As a police officer, Mr. Gregory's duty was to put down cock-fighting. But he could not let the angling friend down. He made approaches to the proper quarters through the proper channels, but there was nothing doing. The Northern cock-fighters were not as trustful or obliging as the Kerryman. The book contains grim and [736] humorous reminiscences of troubled times in Ireland, as well as memoirs of the author's ancestors.”

I know that reading material like this in a speech is apt to be boring, and I will only do it in so far as it seems to be necessary. I have given the whole of that review in regard to this book which is regarded with such suspicion by the Censor that he attempts to kill it. Either I am mad or the people who have censored the reviews of the book are mad. There is only one clue to the reason for the Minister's action, and that is contained in the corresponence that passed between the Editor of the Irish Independent and the Censor with reference to the review of The House of Gregory which was written and suppressed. I propose to read that review and also the correspondence. These will be the last documents I shall read. I know it is troublesome to hear documents read, but I think it is desirable that I should read these now. The review in question was held by the Censor on November 9th, six days before the other review was published in the Cork Examiner. If I skip any part of it it might be suggested in good faith that I did so for some purpose. Therefore, I shall read it all.

“Mr. Gregory, now in the seventy-third year, joined the Royal Irish Constabulary after he had taken his M.A. and LL.B. degrees at Trinity College, Dublin. He served as an officer in the force until it was disbanded, and has since spent some of his years of leisure compiling a history of the Gregory family.

The Gregory tree traces its roots back to medieval Leicestershire and sent some of its branches to Ireland with Oliver Cromwell. None of the off-shoots made any great mark in history, though a few of them played more than a minor part in affairs at home and abroad. Perhaps that explains why the present author, having set out to recount the family fortunes, found his pen hampered by lack of material, and decided to fill up the vacant spaces with his own memoirs, and his comments on such things as occurred to him, following no set plan, and little concerned [737] about order or relevancy. One can only regret that he did not give us more of himself and less of his forbears.

It was a cousin of his, Sir William Gregory, M.P., who in 1861 forced the Royal Dublin Society to open the Botanic Gardens to the public on Sundays. He secured his object by moving in the House of Commons to strike out the Parliamentary grant for the gardens, thus forcing the Royal Dublin Society to give way. Two years later he tried to secure the same rights in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, but failed, one Protestant clergyman declaring at a meeting of protest against the proposal that it was ‘a painful thing to have the Scotch Sabbath interfered with by the representative of an Irish Papist constituency, one of the most degraded communities in the world.'

One incredible story in connection with the Croke Park massacre in 1920 shows what a simple-minded man Mr. Gregory is. He says that the officer in charge of the Black and Tans who raided the ground served under him at a later date. ‘He told me his orders were to search the crowd, and if any opposition was offered he was to fire and shoot as many of the Tipperary team as possible, and on no account to let Hogan escape. Accordingly, he included in his party a man whom he knew to be a dead shot with a rifle. He asserted that on arrival at Croke Park some shots were fired at his party.... Hogan was pointed out to the marksman, who put his rifle to his shoulder, pressed the trigger, and Hogan dropped dead. One of his companions exclaimed: “What a damned fluke!”“Was it?” he replied. “Watch the ball...” The ball was still in play.... The marksman again raised his rifle, fired, and the football collapsed, literally like a pricked bladder.’ Mr. Gregory has good sense enough not to commit himself to belief in this fantastic story.

Mr. Gregory, however, does vouch for the truth of the following story: On the eve of his execution, Kevin [738] Barry was taken to the spot where the gallows stood, and told he would get a free pardon if he betrayed the names of his comrades: ‘Whether this offer was officially authorised or not I cannot say. In any case, Barry is said to have made no reply, but to have continued to examine the gallows. Then, putting his hand on it, he remarked: “It seems strong enough to bear my weight, anyhow.” '

How the poteen traffic provided a quaint industry is related in the author's memoirs. The local blacksmith made the stills. At intervals the blacksmith, by way of blackmail, reminded his customers to buy a new still. They did not dare to refuse. The blacksmith would then conceal the old still on a bog, inform the police, and collect his reward. Each of the police in turn would then get their reward for the capture of the still.

Mr. Gregory's pen is steeped in charity. He writes without any tinge of bitterness of the events during the troubled years, and he is outspoken in his condemnation of the murders and the outrages committed by the Black and Tans. It is an old-world kind of book, dull in patches, but for the most part readable and even entertaining. But at 15/- for 200 pages, it is far too dear.”

That was completely obliterated by the blue pencil of the Censor. The Editor of the Irish Independent, in which the review was due to appear, wrote to the Controller of Censorship on November 15th as follows:—

“Dear Sir,

“For my guidance, I would be glad to know the reasons for prohibiting the review of the book The House of Gregory, submitted on the 9th inst.”

On the 17th November this reply —the only one I know of—was received:—

“Dear Sir,

“In reply to your letter of the 15th instant, I have to inform you that your review headed ‘R.I.C. Officer's Memories’ was stopped because its publication would inevitably lead to [739] controversy harmful to national security. No useful purpose could be served at the moment by stirring up bitter memories of the Black-and-Tan atrocities.

I expect, the Editor rubbed his eyes when he read that. He replied as follows, on November 18th:—

“Dear Sir—I have your letter of the 17th instant. You have on a former occasion made a ruling that references to the Civil War of 1922-23 would endanger our neutrality. I note that you have now decided that references to the Black-and-Tan period might also endanger ‘national security'. For our guidance will you please let me know at what period we are to stop in making references to events in Irish history if we are not to endanger ‘national security'? May we safely refer to the Land League, the Fenian period or the Insurrection of 1798, without imperilling our neutrality in 1943 or 1944?

I am, of course, presuming that it was for the same reason, viz., to protect our neutrality that you banned the reference to the opening of the Botanic Gardens in 1861, the reference to the poteen traffic of 50 years ago, and the incident which was cited to show the bravery of Kevin Barry on the eve of his execution 23 years ago.

I should like further to know why if a few extracts from the book are likely to lead to an invasion of Éire the whole book itself was passed for publication by you, as I presume it was.—Yours faithfully,

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  No reply to that?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Donal OSullivan  Zoom on Donal OSullivan  There was no reply and there never has been a reply. Courtesy also demanded a reply to the letter sent by the managing director of Browne and Nolan. There has been no reply, according to my information, to that letter either. Another review was written for another paper. [740] The editor was told over the telephone that the review was completely unobjectionable, but that it could not be printed, as all reviews were banned, and there were some words conveying the impression that the book had wrongly been passed by the Censor. Now, that has no evidential value whatever, because this Emergency Powers (No. 151) Order provides that directions by the Censor may be given in writing, verbally, or by telephone.

There is nothing in writing about that, and so the poor wretches of journalists who have to work under this abominable system cannot follow the sound maxim laid down by Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes—“Always get it in writing”. In that letter I have quoted from the Controller of Censorship to the editor of the Independent, he says:

“Publication would inevitably lead to controversy harmful to national security.”

I want to examine this in the light of what I have said. The deletion of the title of this book, which had been passed, from the publisher's catalogue —how is that harmful to national security? Or this deletion from The Bell:The House of Gregory comes from Browne and Nolan at 15/-.” How can that be harmful to national security?

References to the Black-and-Tan period in the book are incidental, and in any review that chose to mention them they would almost certainly be incidental. References in the banned review in the Independent were incidental—a mere short bit of the whole review. Why, then, should not the Censor merely delete those passages from the review and let the rest of it stand? Surely to goodness, blue pencils are not in short supply in the Censor's department? Is it not the universal custom to censor a word, to delete a sentence, or even a paragraph? But here, the whole review is deleted, and described as objectionable matter. It does not make sense, and, of course, it is grossly unjust. He says:

“Publication would inevitably lead to controversy harmful to national security.”

[741] Now, what does that mean? Does it mean a threat to internal order? If so, it is quite unnecessary for me to deal with that, because, of course, it is plain nonsense. Does it mean a threat to good relations with a friendly people, namely, Great Britain? These are questions I want the Minister to give a reply to, in accordance with the terms of the motion. Does it mean a threat to good relations with Great Britain? If so, the book itself should have been banned. The second point is that English people will see English reviews of the book, which the Minister has no power to censor. English people will not see the Irish reviews. Therefore, they are unlikely to be affected en masse by any review, however strong, which the Minister might allow to appear in an Irish paper.

If the Minister does not know it, I tell him, out of a lifetime's experience, that the British are a large-minded and tolerant people. What stopped the Black-and-Tan atrocities? Public opinion in England—the Manchester Guardian, men like J.L. Hammond. They were the people who finally stopped the atrocities here. At the moment, public opinion in England is not wholly preoccupied with Irish affairs. Certain stories in the book, when one considers the Englishman's mentality, might conceivably do good. There is a story in the book—I am not going to go into the details—describing an act of gross cruelty by the Black-and-Tans, and the writer leaves us in no doubt as to his opinion of that gross cruelty. I say that stories like that would influence an Englishman into admitting that we have something to growl about even though it was 25 years ago. Otherwise, if you start telling an Englishman of things which occurred 25 years ago—the ordinary kind of Englishman in Liverpool, Manchester or Birmingham—he would probably answer between his yawns that we had had a bad show but that there is no use in worrying about it now.

Here is another point. About five or six weeks ago there was an acrimonious debate in the House of Commons after the release under Article 18 (b), Defence of the Realm Regulations, of Sir Oswald Mosley, the [742]soi-disant Leader of the British Fascist movement. References were made in that debate by Members of Parliament to the tragic end of Terence MacSwiney. British M.P.s in the House of Commons strongly contrasted the treatment meted out under Article 18 (b) to this millionaire Mosley with his Black Shirt, with the fact that the British Government let Terence MacSwiney die. Now, Sir, in this free institution, the House of Commons, one of the greatest free institutions in the world, that statement was made. It was quoted in full in the Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Birmingham Post, and other strongly conservative and in past years anti-Irish papers. I heard it myself in the naturally short summary of Parliamentary news given by the B.B.C. at 9 o'clock. This point about Terence MacSwiney was brought out and stressed by the British themselves. They are able, after an interval of 25 years, to deal with these matters in that way, and we are told childishly that a review of a rather non-controversial book is to go, lest, presumably, England should fall on us. It sounds ridiculous, but that is a fact.

Sir John Keane referred to a very excellent book on the Citizen Army. I shall say nothing about that except that it does point the contrast. I will quote another reference—it is my last quotation—and it will be very short. It is a sentence, picked literally at random, from a book published by Messrs. M. H. Gill and Sons in 1942, pages 94 to 95. This book was not banned and was not censored, so far as I have heard, and it was certainly reviewed without censorship. I shall give you the name of it—The Life of Cathal Brugha by Seán Ó Ceallaigh, that is “Sceilg”. I think everybody in this House knows who Cathal Brugha was. He was Minister for Defence in the first Dáil Eireann. He sided with the Party that went against the Treaty in 1921. He was prominent in the civil war that followed, and he died gallantly in O'Connell Street during the civil war. Now, that man lived through the troubled period. His biographer, Seán O Ceallaigh—“Sceilg”—is of his political way of thinking, and, very naturally, his book is bound to be prejudiced against the [743] Black-and-Tans and in favour of the I.R.A. In that biography, there is no such balance as there is in the book written by Dr. Gregory. I am afraid that it would be putting too much strain on human nature to expect “Sceilg” to say a good word for the Black-and-Tans or to say a bad word against the I.R.A. However, in that connection, I should like to give a quotation from the book written by “Sceilg”. It is written in Irish, and I shall quote it in Irish, and give a short translation in English of it afterwards. The quotation is as follows:—

“I dtosach an Abráin dhein an Crón-stoc slighe nuadh dunmharbhtha do nochtadh: tógadh beirt fhear as a leabaidh agus lámhchadh iad i gCondae na Gaillimhe; deineadh amhlaidh le ceathrar i Ros Comáin is le triúr i dTír Eoghain, agus dhein lucht Conganta an Chróin-stoic beirt bhreitheamh de chur i n-a dtost. Deineadh Tráighlí do shuathadh ó bhonn arís de bhrígh gur lámhchadh feadhmanach de'n Chrón-stoc ann, agus tugadh athshuathadh do Bhéal an Atha fá cheann seachtmhaine. Deineadh mna do lámhach nó do leónadh go minic, deineadh gruag chailínidhe do bhearradh, is móran daoine do ghabháil.”

Now, I shall roughly translate that:—

“At the beginning of April....

that would be April of 1921,

“...the Black-and-Tans devised a new method of murder. Two men were taken from their beds and shot in County Galway. The same thing was done with four men in Roscommon and with three in Donegal, and the Auxiliaries silenced two judges. Tralee was thoroughly beaten up again because an officer of the Black-and-Tans was shot there, and a renewal of the beating up, lasting a week, was given to Ballina. Women were shot or wounded frequently. Girls' hair was cut off, and numbers of people were seized.”

Now, that is a perfectly straight quotation from a book dealing with that period, and I am sure that you will see [744] the extraordinary contrast between the treatment given by “Sceilg” to that particular period and that given by Dr. Gregory. I am coming now, Sir, to a conclusion. My object in all this was to try to get behind the Minister's mind in regard to his action in this matter. I am afraid I must say that I am driven to the conclusion, and it is my belief, that after the book had been passed by the Controller of Censorship —and you will remember that the book was recalled for three weeks and then sent back to the author—the Minister came on the scene and resented, not references to atrocities committed by the Black and Tans, but those mentioned as having been committed by the other side, and determined with spiteful petulance to prevent the sale of the book by every and any lawful means in his power—he having estopped himself from banning the book. I have mentioned both the Black and Tans and the I.R.A., but I should like to say that I did not mention these matters by way of drawing a red herring across the track. The final verdict must be left to the historian of the future. It must be left to a time when all of us here have passed beyond these voices, and we must await the charity and the tolerance such as living men are not always prepared to extend to each other, and certainly not prepared to extend to each other in the measure shown by the author of this book. We may hope, too, for a measure of reconcilement in the whole territory of Ireland at some time in the future, although, perhaps, not in our lifetime, and if we do not get that reconcilement, then, as a student of history, I tell you that there is no hope for unity in this country.

Now, in conclusion, I am going to ask the Minister certain questions. Was it at his request that the galley proofs, after having been passed by the Censor, were returned to the Censor on 22nd July and retained for three weeks? Why were the trivial deletions made from The Bell, the catalogue, and so on; and what potential infringement of the rules of censorship was occasioned by the publication of reviews? That is to say, in connection with the maintenance of public order or the prevention [745] of a breach of the peace or any cause of danger to the people. On which of these grounds is the Minister electing to stand? Why were not the objectionable parts of the reviews blue-pencilled, leaving the rest for publication? In other words, why was not the ordinary day-to-day practice of the censorship followed in this case?

Finally, I should like to ask whether the debate that has taken place to-day in this House will be censored in to-morrow's newspapers. Will the gentlemen of the Press behind me in this House be free to publish whatever part they wish to publish of what was said to-day in this allegedly free Assembly in their papers to-morrow? I want an answer to those questions, and I think we are entitled to ask for a reply. If the Minister's replies are unsatisfactory, or not frank, then I think I am entitled to conclude that the Minister was not acting in his quasi-judicial capacity as the Minister in control of censorship, but that he has retained, though I state it with great regret, the mentality of a former Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army. In that case the only thing left for me is to apply to him this line from the famous Sixth Satire of Juvenal: “Hoc volo, sic jubeo, stet pro ratione voluntas.”“This I wish; thus I command; let my will stand in place of a reason.”

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Frank Hugh ODonnell  Zoom on Frank Hugh ODonnell  It seems to me that our proceedings now are far removed from the case that was made by Senator Sir John Keane. The principle involved here—that is, the suppression of publications after publication—is one that greatly interests writers and authors in this country, and, as one who is interested in that matter, I should like to refer to it. Certain organisations of authors and writers, such as the P.E.N. Club, who are very much interested in this matter, have been considering it for some time, and writers and authors are very much afraid of what may happen to publications of any sort if the statements made by Senator Sir John Keane are correct. Personally, judging by what was deleted from the book in question, I think it would have been wiser if the Minister, on the very [746] first day, had completely censored the whole production. There are things mentioned in the book which might not be in the best of good taste, because many of us who are still alive were there in Croke Park on that occasion, known as Bloody Sunday, and I think that many of us probably would be disturbed, to say the least of it, by the author's seeming flippancy in dealing with the death of Seán Hogan. I do not say that he meant to be flippant, but I believe in the same ideal for which Seán Hogan died, and I think that any possible chance of a misinterpretation of that ideal, through any publication of this sort, is a thing that the Minister, as the Minister in charge of censorship, should guard against.

My trouble about the whole matter is that it would be better probably the first day that the book were never published. Irish authors had for a very considerable time many difficulties to contend with. They had censorship in one form or another, on the merits or demerits of which I am not going to dwell, but the position is that literature in this country, whether we think it is good, bad, moral or immoral, has to a certain extent been stifled by the fear that the publication of a work to which a man has given considerable time and effort in the writing of it and in surmounting the difficulties of publication may come under the censorship ban. If it is true that subsequent to the publication of the book the Minister did suppress in any way reviews on this book, I would say that it is highly undesirable in the interests of Irish literature.

But I understand also that the Minister has very wide powers in relation to censorship, and if he felt that, on reconsideration of the printed matter, it was not in the national interest that it should be reviewed, I suppose there is a case to be made for him, too. I am only trying to point out that whatever action he did take is going to have a serious reaction on the production of Irish literature, and I am quite sure, knowing the Minister as I do, that he would have as little desire as I would that any reaction of that sort should [747] take place. I am in a peculiar position, because Senator Sir John Keane asked us to look upon this matter as jurymen and not from the standpoint of Party allegiance, which to me was a most extraordinary statement coming from an old member of the House who must be aware by this time that there are no Parties in this House. I will admit that as a young member I had not discovered it.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  You will find them out in time all right.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Frank Hugh ODonnell  Zoom on Frank Hugh ODonnell  But looking at it from any point of view, I must say I am not convinced entirely by the case Sir John has made.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I would not expect you to be.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Frank Hugh ODonnell  Zoom on Frank Hugh ODonnell  Of course, Sir John has that type of mind that I cannot recreate at this late hour of his life. At any rate, he does assume the worst in this matter. I agree with him that if the Minister did act, as he suggested, after the publication of the book; if he did suppress the reviews and newspaper reports upon it, he did something that I think is undesirable from the point of view of the furtherance of Irish literature, and is going to have severe reaction among Irish writers.

On the other hand, I cannot help relating the fact that possibly even Ministers make mistakes, and that perhaps, realising that he made a mistake in allowing publication in the first instance, that that was the reason that he forbade it. I am prepared rather to listen to his defence than to convict him as a juryman. Irish writers are considerably perturbed about this matter. Whether he has a good defence or a bad one, I do not know, but Irish writers are beset by all sorts of difficulties, and if they are now going to face the position that, after publishing a book, reviews can be suppressed and the means of sales stopped, it is going to be a bad day for Irish literature. I am quite certain, knowing the Minister as I do, and that he is as literary-minded as most men in this Assembly, that he is not one who would stand for it.

I am rather worried as to the way [748] he carried out this form of suppression. I am not so much interested in the matter as in the principle involved. If it is as Sir John Keane says, it is a violation of literary freedom, and it is, in this case at any rate, a personal injustice. I would like to hear the Minister because I am of opinion that he may have a good defence, and I am further of that feeling because the very deletions which Sir John mentioned were enough to my mind for the complete suppression of the book.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  Might I suggest that it would be a great help to the House if the Minister could intervene now, because it would help whoever speaks afterwards to know what his explanation is.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  On a point of order, Sir John Keane's motion clearly and unmistakably is that the Seanad invites an explanation from the Minister. I submit that that as what we are to vote upon—whether or not the Seanad demands an explanation from the Minister. Sir John Keane now asks you to invite the Minister to give his explanation and is therefore substituting an entirely new motion from that on the Order Paper.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  The matter of intervention in the debate and the point at which he should do so are considerations for the Minister. The motion simply invites an explanation from him.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  No, the motion is the Seanad invites the Minister. Therefore if a division be taken it must be whether or not the Seanad is of a mind to require an explanation from the Minister. The Seanad must first decide whether in fact we are going to ask the Minister for an explanation.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  The motion is in the form usually used when explanations or statements of policy are desired. The debate will proceed, and the Minister can decide whether or not he will accede to the request.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  That should be submitted to the Committee and Privileges procedure, and with all due respect to you I will challenge that decision. [749] What is on the motion paper is that the Seanad invites not the Chairman, not the proposer of the motion, not anyone for any motive, explained or unexplained—it is for the House I submit to decide whether or not it requires an explanation from the Minister.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  Might I say that we have had the request only from Senator Sir John Keane, Senator Donal O'Sullivan and Senator Frank Hugh O'Donnell—the Seanad has not yet decided to invite the explanation.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I do not see any reason why we should depart from the usual practice applying to motions. The debate is carried on and the Minister usually replies, and the mover of the motion concludes the debate.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  This is a case where the mover of the motion has not drafted a motion to express his mind. Senator Sir John Keane has failed to put on the motion paper what is in his mind, and it is not within his province to alter it now.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  Order, the Cathaoirleach is on his feet.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  I am quite in order.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  This motion, as I have already stated, is in the usual form. It invites from the Minister an explanation for taking a certain course of action. I fail to see why we should depart from the usual procedure of allowing the debate to continue. The Minister can then reply in the usual way, and we achieve the result for which we came here.

Mr. O Máille: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  What question do we vote on if the Minister replies now? Does this not necessarily demand a vote?

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  The Minister may then have to make two speeches.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  The Seanad will decide whether to accept the motion or to reject it, when the Minister replies.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  To call upon the Minister to reply now——

[750]Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  I am not doing so.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  ——is to postulate that the motion has been carried.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  The Minister is not being called on to reply now. The Minister can intervene at any period he wishes during the debate.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  Might I suggest that it was as a result of the request of Senator Sir John Keane that this point was raised? The Senator said it might be better if the Minister replied now to to enable later speakers to deal more adequately with the matter.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  The debate will proceed, and when no other Senator offers himself, the Minister will, I presume, reply.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: Information on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  Zoom on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  Apparently there is still some doubt in the minds of Senators as to the necessity for an explanation of the Minister's action. I hope I shall be able to clear away that doubt by reminding them of a few salient points. Mr. Gregory, a man who had retired after a long and active life, has devoted his time, his leisure, his experience and his money to compiling a history of the very remarkable family of which he is proud to be a member. He has started from the twelfth century, through that Gregory who was the standard bearer of Simon de Montfort who died at Evesham down to the Lady Gregory of our own time, a lady whom some of us were proud to know, her son who inspired three of the noblest poems of the noblest poet the Irish nation has ever produced, down to himself and the last male descendant of the race, his son, now serving in the Royal Navy.

Such a book might have been dull. It might have been a collection of pedigrees and genealogies, but fortunately the Gregorys do not lend themselves to dullness, and so we have a book which is not merely a pious family record but a book which holds out great promise of entertainment to the people of Ireland who read it. They will read there of cock-fighting and of duelling, of horse races, of fishing and of shooting—things [751] which the Irishman likes. They will read of an Irishman who left Ireland as a cabin boy or stowaway and who rose to the position of head of the East India Company. They will read of an Under-Secretary who kept office for twenty years and of another Gregory who was for twenty-five years a most remarkable member for Irish constituencies. And these are only some of the characters. I say without hesitation that it is not merely from the point of view of Mr. Gregory that I think the Minister has to make his explanation, but from the point of view of the Irish public who are entitled to know about the past history of Ireland, who are interested in the manners and modes of the people of this country and who are entitled also to know the experiences of people who have lived through portions of history and can testify the truth for themselves. All that is to be found in this book.

When Mr. Gregory had finished this book, having expended his time and his labour, and having put down a sum of £500 to publish it, he submitted it to the person whom the Minister has nominated as the judge of whether a book contains anything objectionable or not. It came back with certain passages deleted, and they were deleted, save for one passage which was transposed to a place where it could not be objectionable, as the Minister admits. The book was sent back to be considered by higher authority, apparently the Minister. It was returned with no further comments and no objection. To the labour of the author was added the labour of the publisher and his workmen, and finally the book saw the light, having received from the Minister and his Department not merely the nihil obstat, but the imprimatur. And then everything is done to garrotte this book.

What would Senators say if, in an ordinary matter of business, one man were to encourage another in a course of action, knowing that he was spending a considerable amount of money —perhaps more money than he could afford—and were to say to him: “Go on with your course of action. If you make a slight modification, you may [752] fear nothing from me”; and then when the enterprise is launched, having imposed his conditions upon him, were to say: “No; I will step in and do everything I can to kill your enterprise”? If that were to be done between ordinary business men, what language would be used by any Senator to describe such a proceeding? I cannot suggest it because such language would be unparliamentary. That, however, is what the Minister has done and that is one of the things of which I call upon the Minister to give an explanation—encouraging a person to spend money and then trying to prevent him from reaping the fruits of his expenditure.

It is no good saying, as has already been suggested: “But the Minister has not killed the book.” I believe he has not killed it; I hope he has not killed it; and I hope he never will be able to kill a book by such methods. Although you can censor books or papers, you cannot muzzle the tongue of the people of Ireland, and so long as methods, such as these, so exceptional, so extraordinary, so inexcusable, are used by the Minister, the tongue of the people of Ireland is going to wag, and if there is any man who has any curiosity in his nature he will find out, or try to find out, the reason for such methods. If there is left in this country one man of an independent character, with a spark of human independence, with the power in him to feel resentful that anybody should interfere with his right to investigate history and to know facts, I hope, and I believe, and I pray to God that such an action will be resented and will be resented by people who will read the book, despite any attempts to ban it. I owe a certain amount of thanks to the Minister. But for the action of the Minister, it is most unlikely that I should have heard of the book and still more unlikely that I should have read it. Now, I have had the pleasure of doing both. It does not matter that the Minister has not been able to kill it—the important matter is that he has tried. I want an explanation as to why the Minister has tried to kill this book.

This is a matter which some people [753] may take lightly. I confess that I do not. There must be in these matters some principle. When I first heard that the book was banned, I assumed that the Minister had banned it for a very good reason, and that he could enunciate here some principle upon which he was entitled to ban it. I got the book and I read it twice. I could see nothing in the book on which anybody in Ireland or in England—to quote the old phrase, wet or dry— could justify its banning; but I, still assumed that, although there might be no reason which was obvious to me or which would be obvious to the normal man, there was a reason which the Minister himself believed to be a good reason.

Realising that the Minister might have different views from mine, I waited to hear what was his reason which would not commend itself, as I believe, to me, but which might commend itself to the Minister as a good, honest and adequate reason. I was very much shaken as to the possibility of the Minister believing in his own reason, when I found that the notice of the debate had itself been censored, and that, when it appeared, it was only in a mangled form. It struck me that, if the Minister believed in his case, he would have been anxious to advertise the fact that this debate was being held, and anxious to avail himself of this opportunity to put forward his reasons for the action he had taken; but when the Minister used his thunder, I began to have suspicions that, in his own heart, the Minister knew he had no case. I was reminded of a pleasant story by one of the Greeks—I think it was Lucian—in which he described how Jove came from the mountain-top down to talk with a countryman. They discussed about it and about for some considerable time. Jove admitted that the countryman was often right, and the countryman admitted that Jove was often right, but when it came to a final judgment on some warmly disputed point, the irate Jove turned to the countryman and said: “There will be no argument on that or I will use my thunder”, whereupon the countryman remarked: “When Jove uses his [754] thunder, it is because he knows that he is wrong.” When the Minister censored notice of the fact that there was to be a debate on this question in this House, and allowed it to appear only in a mutilated form, then, remembering the old story, I said to myself: “Jove has used his thunder and he has used it because he knows that he is wrong.”

I put it to the Minister, is he going to go further? Is he going to censor facts which have come out in this debate? Is he going to censor what I am now saying or is he going to give the Press full liberty to publish a report of these proceedings? Is he going to proceed from excess to excess? Let the Minister who is responsible for censorship, read something of the history of censorship and he will find that it has been a universal experience that censorship proceeds from excess to excess in an attempt to cover up its own blundering faults. This was a blunder or a mistake made by the Minister. Is he going to try to cover up that mistake by preventing the publication of the report of this debate? This much I say without fear of contradiction, that unless censorship is used with the greatest possible caution and the greatest possible discretion, it becomes a monster and turns on those people who are responsible for it—a Frankenstein monster or, as was suggested to me, a Frank-aikenstein monster. In all earnestness, as a person who has at heart the liberty of the subject and liberty of speech more than anything else on this earth, I do implore the Minister to use this weapon with prayer and fasting because if he is not careful this monster will turn upon him and entirely devour him.

These are some of the reasons why I desire that an explanation should be given; but most of all do I desire that Senators, authors and editors should know what is the principle which governs the Censor in the exercise of his powers. We are entitled to know it. If this book and its treatment can be taken as a test, you are not going to find it within the four corners of the Emergency Order. The only principle which I have been able to ascertain [755] which covers the case of a book which is passed by the chief Censor, passed by the superior authority, whoever that may be, and subsequently subjected to an attempt to strangle it, is the principle which has been enunciated by Senator Donal O'Sullivan: “My wish is my command; my caprice is all the justification you can demand or you can get.” That is the only discernible principle which can govern the action of a Department which says at one time “You may publish” and afterwards tries to prevent the author from getting sale for his book. That is a very well-known principle and there are a number of people who approve of it. It is the principle of unlimited autocracy, a theory of government widely held on the Continent, though not so widely held now, perhaps, as a few years ago. It has also been widely held in the countries of South America, though I observe there have been some defections recently from it.

Let us be clear what the principle is: you can sanction a thing at one moment and then go back on your decision. That is the principle of unlimited autocracy, tempered neither by reason nor by any popular restraint. If we want it, let us have it, but let us know where we are. Let us face the fact that that is what is being nakedly done in this case. I do not imagine that the Irish people are going to take kindly to a Government of Ministers sitting upon a private Olympus from which they distribute showers of Emergency Orders to fall as a kind of bewildering snowstorm on the heads of the populace. That is what is implied in actions such as this, that the Minister's order by itself is sufficient, and that we are not entitled to call on the Minister for an explanation——

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  Nobody has suggested that.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: Information on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  Zoom on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  I beg your pardon, Sir. If I have in any way misinterpreted the Senator, I apologise. May I approach it in this way: it has been suggested that a sufficient case has not yet been made——

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  No. May I on a point of explanation, try to save the [756] Senator from further mistakes? I desire that the orderly procedure of this House be observed on this occasion as heretofore. Formerly we had motions of this type, to wit, “That the Seanad is of opinion that X is Y”, and, when the question was put from the Chair, what was voted on and determined was whether or not the Seanad was of opinion that X was Y, or that the Seanad had the reverse opinion. Now, owing to the Parliamentary ineptitude of Senator Sir John Keane in drafting this motion, the motion as it stands reads: “That the Seanad invites an explanation.” Apart from the merits or the demerits of the case, or any correctness or incorrectness in any speech made, all I ask is that the vote be taken on the question: “That the Seanad invites the Minister.”

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I think that that question has been already ruled upon by the Chair. The ruling was that the debate should continue.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  That the debate can continue. You may not have been present, Sir——

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It was not necessary for me to be present, but I was in the House and heard the ruling that the debate could continue. I now rule that the debate can continue.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: Information on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  Zoom on Theodore Conyngham Kingsmill Moore  I appreciate at once what has been said. May I say that I realise that I was guilty of a terminological inexactitude? The way I put it is this: apparently when all the speeches are over, a vote will be taken in this House as to whether in the opinion of this House an explanation is called for. All I am suggesting now is that on the facts laid before this House that vote should be unanimous when it is called for. I am asking this House to say that if it finds a man encouraged to spend his time and money on a tacit, if not expressed, representation, that he will be allowed to reap the fruit of his labours, and if subsequently an effort is made to prevent him doing so, that it at least requires an explanation. I am asking this House to vote unanimously that if the official Censor puts his stamp “Passed by the Censor” on a book, save such portions as are subsequently [757] excised, and if the proofs so marked are returned for consideration by a higher authority who makes no further comment, then when that book is published it should be allowed to have the ordinary publicity which every publisher of a book expects.

If it is the intention of a higher authority when the proofs are submitted for the second time to take an action like this in the future, it would at least be consonant with the principles of elementary fairness to give some indication of it. I ask further for an explanation how there can be such a divergence of policy. I ask for an explanation on principle as to why matters are censored. I ask for an explanation as to how this action can be brought within the framework of this Order, and I ask, in the name of all the people in Ireland who are writing or reading, that we should receive plain simple rules for our guidance.

We have, in this House to-day, been treated to one classical quotation, and I add to it the words of the dying Ajax: “En de phaei kai olesson”—“If you are going to destroy us will you give us light as to why you are doing it?” I call again upon the Minister for explanation. I call upon this House to leave the matter beyond doubt, and to say that this is a thing which on the face of it is inexplicable: that it not merely requires an explanation but unless adequately explained, it redounds to the eternal discredit of those who are responsible for it.

I do hope that Senators, by their vote, are going to show their sympathy with the ordinary man who is earning his living, and who demands that he should not be unnecessarily interfered with, and their sympathy with the man who wants to write those things which seem good to him, and with the people who are entitled to inform their minds on questions of fact, whether the Minister, or the Minister's representatives, do or do not agree with either their accuracy or the point of view expressed.

Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures (Mr. Aiken): Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Senator Kingsmill Moore gave me a bit of advice—that the censorship [758] should move with the greatest possible caution. Well, I think that the censorship moved with the greatest possible caution in this particular case, and that is why we have got into trouble. There were two things that could have been done when the proofs of this particular book were submitted for censorship: one was to stop it, and the other was to pass it. I got the impression—I do not know how it arose, but it has been borne out by some of the things said here to-day—that this was the reminiscences of a rather old gentleman who wanted to put his family history on record while he was in retirement. I have sympathy with anybody who wants to do that sort of thing. I got the impression that this was a book which was for private circulation. I was wrong there.

We tried, in dealing with the book, to allow the author to do what it seemed he originally set out to do: that was to tell the story of his own family—his own history—and matters of that kind, and we only deleted from it those passages in which the author sought to tell another country how they should run the war, and how they could have won it. I have no objection to an ex-British civil servant or officer of any kind telling the British Government how they should run their affairs. But if I had allowed it in this particular case, instead of being criticised for stopping the reviews of this book I would probably have had to face criticism here to-day from exactly the same speakers, as to why we allowed criticisms of the British Government to be published here.

We do not run the censorship, as Senator Sir John Keane indicated here to-day, in the way that he thought we do—because of what other countries may think of us. I do not think that actions of other countries are going to be conditioned by what we do here in the line of publication. If other countries wanted to take action here they would base their action on what they would make out would be very good grounds, notwithstanding what was allowed or prohibited publication here by the Censor. Now, we allowed the book [759] to be published with certain deletions. We have not banned the book as a couple of speakers alleged. The book is not banned, and anybody who is going to pay 15/- for it on the understanding that it is a banned book, well, he will not be getting a banned book. The book is on sale for anybody who has 15/- to pay for it, and who wants to pay that sum for it. When I heard Senator Kingsmill Moore's enthusiasm about the book, I thought that he was losing his time here, and that it would be well worth his while going over to Hollywood as a good writer-up of publicity puffs for films. Anybody who wants to pay 15/- for this particular book can go down the city and get it. It is not banned and it has not been killed.

But what was done was that, even though we allowed this book to be published, we stopped the reviews which, from the first review that appeared in the censorship office, showed quite clearly that it was going to lead to bitter controversy here, one side holding that the Croke Park massacre was one of the bloodiest items in British Imperial history, deliberate and cruel, and the other side trying to contend that it was, as Mr. Gregory's subordinate made it out, a deliberate murder of a single man in football togs.

I do not think that a controversy on these lines is going to do anybody any good at the present time. If we are to have a very hot controversy here on what happened in the Tan war, we may split the unity of our people, and the net result will be that the people will lose their balance on the whole affair, and it is not neutral a lot of them will be. We, as a neutral people, are prepared to allow the four main contending parties in this war to fight it out among themselves without interference by us. We do not want to interfere either in their propaganda war, for or against any of them. I certainly do not want to see our people losing their balance and forgetting that the issues of this war, as stated by any of the belligerents, have not commended themselves to them by the stirring up of bitter memories of the Black and Tan war.

[760] We had one very slight indication here to-night of how some people would regard the callous way in which the story of the Croke Park massacre was told in the book, and how they would regard the author of this particular book consorting with and having this man as a subordinate for some time after he had, as he said himself, told the author he had taken charge of the British guns at Croke Park. The people of this country feel very bitterly about that, and there were quite a number of people at Croke Park, who fought in the last war, who would be jumping into print to say that the Croke Park massacre was not a single shot fired at a single individual, but was an indiscriminate machine-gunning of all who were there that day, irrespective of whether they fought for freedom and democracy in the 1914-1918 war.

I think Senator Sir John Keane was very amusing when he tried to sell the idea here to-day that this ex-R.I.C. officer, even though he may be a very estimable gentleman, was a martyr for freedom, something like John Brown—“John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on”. The idea that because we prevent reviews of an ex-R.I.C. man's book here, reviews that might tend to disrupt our unity at the moment, we are in any way making him into a John Brown—John Brown who was the martyr, whose name was used when Lincoln was fighting to preserve the unity of the country—could only be put forward by somebody like Senator Sir John Keane, who is completely divorced from and who has a very bad appreciation of both Irish history and American history.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  What about Parliamentary publicity?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Now, the American Civil War was fought on the issue whether there was to be union or disunion. Lincoln fought and the Northern troops fought that war for the unity of America with the name of John Brown on their lips and on their banners. The Senator spoke to-day about the banning of views and news here. There is no other [761] country in the world at the present time, I maintain, where the people have had a better and a clearer opportunity of getting all the news of this war in an unbiassed manner. There has not been a single bit of news from the beginning of the war that was worth talking about that has been banned in our papers.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  Does that apply to domestic news?

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Domestic news is not banned unless it cuts across national security. There has not been a single word uttered by any of the leaders of any country, whether they were Prime Ministers or sovereign heads, that has been banned by the Irish Censor—not a single one. I should like to know in what other country have the people an opportunity of reading every word that has been said by these people without the censorship operating. What we have objected to, and what we have stood firmly against, is our people being oppressed by a barrage of propaganda from one side into taking a completely unbalanced view of what is going on in the world. That is what is objected to, not the censorship.

Senator Sir John Keane reminded me that his mind was conditioned by what he read in Milton. Milton, so far as I know, was for freedom of the Press and freedom of the individual when he wanted to write an article in favour of divorce after he fell out with his wife; but when he was appointed as Cromwell's secretary, or under-secretary, he was against the freedom of the Press and he became the censor of the Press. When Cromwell insisted that every clergyman should not only be appointed by the State, by him as head of the State, but that he should obey every State order, his secretary was the great Milton, who was supposed to be the principal champion of freedom. There are some gentlemen of that type who want to be free to do just what they like, but they do not always exercise their freedom in such a manner as will not oppress the majority of their fellow-beings.

Now, we had Senator Sir John [762] Keane talking about Orange Terror. We allowed Orange Terror to be published here and we allowed every comment upon it to be published here. The people who most object to the censorship that was established here in order to keep this country out of the war and in order to defend the country—the people connected with one of the papers in this part of the country—are the very people who themselves exercise a censorship. You have only to look at the papers of the other day to see how one important bit of news was censored, when the Under-Secretary of State up in the North thought it was a good job to kick a man out of the Orange Lodge because he went to quench his thirst in a Catholic public house, and he also thought it was a good thing that members of his religion should not employ members of any other religion. That was cut out, censored by one of our papers here.

That is the sort of editorial censorship that goes on all the time. The editorial staff of that paper saw to it that the Irish people would not get the facts in the news. We have allowed all the news to go through but we stopped the propaganda and we have enabled the Irish people to keep their balance during this disastrous war.

I agree with Senator O'Donnell that the steps we took in this particular case were undesirable from the general point of view. I explained the reasons why those steps were taken. We want to have as much freedom for writers as is possible. In this case, we took it that this was an old gentleman who wanted to record his reminiscences for his relations and we allowed publication of the book. When the reviews which came in showed that the book was going to cause trouble for us here, we stopped those reviews without withdrawing the book from circulation. You can have a very violent controversy, leading to trouble, in a paper that is published every day for 2d. or 3d. but you are not likely to have a very violent controversy if people have to publish 15/- books at one another. We have taken quite a different line with books from that which we have taken with daily papers because of that fundamental [763] difference in their general function. I can assure Senator O'Donnell that, so far as I am concerned, a similar incident will not arise again. If we allow a book publication which, we think, is suitable only for circulation at 15/- a time, we shall warn the people concerned, if we think that a controversy on the book may lead to trouble, that release of the book for publication does not necessarily mean that all reviews of the book will be permitted publication.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  The poor Irish publishers!

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I do not think that Senator Sir John Keane can be so interested in the Irish publishers.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I am interested in justice for every man. I want justice for rich and poor.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  If the Senator was so interested in the publishers, it is strange that it was not the publishers' interests he was worried about when he spoke. I think that I have dealt with virtually all the matters that were raised. I want to say that, in dealing with this book, as in dealing with a newspaper, we did not act as we did to please anybody outside this country, but so as to give the greatest possible freedom to the citizens of the country, while preventing any bitter controversy arising which would destroy the balanced outlook of the people on the affairs of to-day. I am sorry that the publishers concerned do not seem to have been fully aware of the law and of the Emergency Orders in this matter. I am sorry for any inconvenience that has been caused them. But, in the [764] last analysis, I am afraid that, in some cases, we may have to inconvenience individuals for the general good. If we can achieve success in these matters, even by inconveniencing individuals, we shall not have done badly.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  The Minister stated that he had dealt with all the questions raised. There was one point to which he did not refer. Senator Sir John Keane alleged that the Censor actually interfered with the publication of the agenda of this House. I should like to know whether that is a fact or not.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  I forgot to allude to that point. When Senator Sir John Keane put down a motion on the Order Paper, it was submitted to the censorship by the newspapers and was stopped pending a meeting of this House. We have prohibited newspapers, generally, from criticising in their editorial columns matter that has been refused publication in their news columns. We have, generally taken the line that, when censorship is being brought forward for debate in the Dáil or Seanad, we should not allow the matter to be completely misrepresented by prior publication. I think it was Senator Sir John Keane who made the point that there was no interference with the British Hansard. That is not my information. Anybody who has been closely watching the matter knows perfectly well that that is not the situation.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  I move the adjournment of the debate until the next sitting day.

Debate adjourned accordingly.

The Seanad adjourned at 9 p.m. sine die.


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