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Address by Governor General to Dáil Éireann Members of Seanad Éireann invited to attend



Mr. Timothy Michael Healy

Tháinig Oireachtas Eireann le chéile ar 2.15 p.m. Bhí Mícheál O hAodha (Ceann Comhairle Dháil Eireann), 'sa chathaoir.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE(Mr. Michael Hayes): Iarraim anois ar an Oifigeach Teangmhála an Seanascal do thabhairt isteach. I now ask the Officer of Communications to introduce the Governor-General.

HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL then entered (the Ceann Comhairle and the assembled Deputies and Senators rising in their places) and delivered the following speech from the Dais:-

1. I greet you, Members of Oireachtas Eireann, assembled here after the first election by the people since the enactment of the Constitution which enshrines the authority and the powers entrusted to you. Your first Session under that Constitution was one of arduous labour for the building up of the State on secure foundations, and charged as I am by His Majesty to associate myself as his representative in your task of Government, I look forward to the labours on which you are now entering, full of hope that your efforts may bear ever-increasing fruit for the welfare of our country.

2. The most notable, as it is one of the most pregnant, of recent events in our history has been the entry of the Irish Free State into Membership of [2] the League of Nations with the unanimous assent of all the States' members and amidst the enthusiasm of their assembled representatives. The visit of your Delegation to Geneva will herald the revival of the ancient associations of this Nation with the other peoples of the world, will enhance our national prestige, and will enable our people to contribute in no small degree to the maintenance of world-peace.

3. Now, a further Conference of Nations has called for your participation, a conference of the States constituting that Confraternity of Nations with which, by virtue of your Treaty with Great Britain, you have become more closely associated. The representatives of your partner States have already accorded to your representatives a generous and whole-hearted welcome which promises a friendly helpfulness in consultation upon problems of common interest.

4. Your past Session was necessarily devoted to a large extent to the enacting of legislation complementary to your Constitution in order to supply the details of the political organisation of the State. The principal one of these measures was the Electoral Act, by which you have brought every adult citizen of the Saorstát into actual participation in the responsibilities of Government and cleared the way for all to play their respective parts and to discharge their duties in the ordering [3] of the life of the Nation. Further measures are necessary to complete our national institutions and to translate into realisation the desire of our citizens for national re-organisation and development. Amongst the measures to be submitted to you will be one providing for the organisation of the great departments of State, the distribution of their functions in a manner calculated to bring about greater efficiency in administration, and the regular Constitution of the Ministries charged with the administration of the various Departments of Government.

5. The Constitution made provision for long-desired reforms in the administration of law and justice. A measure has accordingly been laid before you for the establishment of a judicial system in conformity with the needs of our people, to which your urgent and earnest consideration is asked. Further measures in pursuance of the same object will also be presented to you, including provisions for the reciprocal enforcement of judgments and judicial orders as between this country and the other members of the British Commonwealth in the interests of mutual accommodation in matters appertaining to the administration of justice.

6. Time and opportunity in the past Session did not permit of any but temporary provision being made for a Civil Police Force, and for the Military Defence Forces. Your Gárda Síochána has already grown into an institution which has won the confidence of the people. A Bill will be introduced to give it permanent form and to better define its powers as a Civil Police Force for the protection of public peace and security outside the Metropolitan area.

7. Your Military Defence Forces are passing through a transition period after a struggle in which their gallantry rescued the Nation from chaos. As befits soldiers of the people, they now await the devising by you of their future constitution and establishment, for which purpose a comprehensive measure will be laid before you.

8. Emergency measures were found necessary in the past Session to deal with the existing state of armed rebellion which was, and to some extent still [4] is, supported by crimes of violence and disorder, and to make possible the transition which is happily taking place to normal conditions.

We acknowledge with gratitude the services of the various arms of National defence in putting down the cruel campaign waged against the people. We bear testimony also to the civic spirit which has borne with becoming fortitude the trials inseparable from that campaign. It is our earnest prayer that those persons who have been guilty of crimes against their country in an attempt to defy and over-ride the expressed will of the Nation, and without regard to life, property, or National honour, may be brought to a realisation of their responsibilities and that, desisting from their work of evil, they may apply their energies towards the reparation of the damage they have caused and the restoration of the Nation's resources which they have so sadly depleted.

9. A number of persons is at present detained for reasons of public safety. It is the general hope and prayer that the necessity for seeking extraordinary powers will disappear and that, with a return of goodwill and civic sanity and tolerance of differences of opinion, it may be found compatible with public security gradually to release the majority of those persons.

On your Government, however, devolves the responsibility of protecting the citizens of Saorstát Eireann from any renewal of disturbance or destruction, and they will, should occasion demand, ask your sanction for such legislation as may from time to time be found necessary.

10. The problem of unemployment which confronts us has had the special consideration of your Ministers. They are confident that with stable conditions, enterprise will find many opportunities in this country. Developments are at present hampered by disagreements between employers and employees, to the loss not only of those directly concerned but of the general community. It must be recognised that the conditions of the time prohibit the maintenance of the inflation caused by the European War and artificially prolonged by our domestic strife. High [5] prices, high profits and high wages can no longer be sustained by a country whose economic life has agriculture as its base and foundation. Those engaged in the production and sale of essential commodities must realise their responsibilities to the general consumer, and your Ministers will vigilantly scrutinise the discharge of this responsibility in the coming winter. A recognition of facts is of the first necessity if industrial friction is to be allayed. Such recognition alone will enable measures to give effect to various proposals for the absorption of labour on constructive work which are being examined to be laid before you. In particular, it is hoped that it may be possible to proceed with the reconstruction of the roads and to make provision for a larger scheme of housing. The legislation you have passed for compensating the owners of destroyed property has been so framed as to encourage expenditure on construction, and it is anticipated that the restoration of damaged or destroyed buildings will soon be generally begun. You will in due course be recommended to make such use of your fiscal powers as close and dispassionate enquiry shows to be best calculated to promote and diffuse prosperity. The practicability of these measures and their ultimate success depend on the co-operation of all parties, and on the sub-ordination of their private interests to the common good. The resources of the Nation are limited and the needs of many of its members great. In such circumstances your Ministers rely with confidence on a fair share of all present burdens being taken by each citizen to the full measure of his or her energy and powers.

11. The reorganisation of our railway systems has for a considerable time exercised the minds of your Ministers and of those charged with the management of the railways, and it is hoped that it may be possible during the present Session to submit proposals calculated to enhance the efficiency of that important service and to reduce its cost.

12. Urgent necessity exists for the enactment of laws relating to merchant shipping and for the adaptation and [6] consolidation of existing legislation, and a measure relating to this important subject will be submitted for your consideration.

13. The problem of land tenure, that great and, as it seemed, perennial obstacle to the economic development of Ireland, has been finally disposed of by the Land Law Act, which alone would have made your past Session notable. That Act makes generous provision for the completion, with the financial assistance of the State, of land purchase, and will secure to the agricultural community enjoyment to the full of the fruits of their toil. It will bring relief to the occupiers of uneconomic holdings and enable them to order their lives and bring up their families in reasonable comfort and security. The execution of the provisions of that Act will be an immediate charge of your newly-appointed Ministry.

14. The encouragement and development of agricultural industries next claim consideration. If existing markets are to be held and made more profitable and new markets opened up, and if the depression which has overtaken agriculture generally in Europe is to be combatted, such measures, with these objects in view, as due and competent consideration may suggest and as are compatible with the economic conditions of the country, will be submitted to you. At an early date your attention will be asked for a Bill for the establishment of a National Brand for butter of high standard, a Bill for regulating the methods of grading eggs and for licensing merchants engaged in that business, as well as a Bill for the improvement of the breed of cattle. You will also be invited to consider a Bill for enabling local authorities to provide land for allotments in urban districts, and a Bill to promote afforestation.

15. The future development of local government administration has been receiving most careful consideration. At a later stage it is proposed to introduce comprehensive legislation to ensure that the work of local authorities may be conducted more effectively [7] and expeditiously and with economies suited to the resources of the ratepayers.

16. Certain necessary legislation dealing with the regulation of Public Holidays, particularly in relation to Elections, with the dates of Local Government Elections, the date of the Revision of the Registers of Voters, the preparation of Jurors' Lists, the collection of Local Rates which have fallen into arrears, and the initiation, maintenance and management of Drainage Schemes, will also be laid before you.

17. The protection of inventions will form the subject of legislation, already promised, which will be introduced in the present Session, for the establishment of a Patent Office and for the Registration of Trade Marks and Designs. A measure will also be presented to regulate the copyright of original works and publications.

18. A Bill codifying and amending the law relating to the supply of Electrical Power and Lighting is in course of preparation.

19. You will be asked to consider proposals for the regularising of Commissions of Enquiry and the definition of their powers with a view to the facilitation of their proceedings.

20. Measures to improve the law relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors are under consideration, and it is hoped that legislation on this matter will be laid before you before the conclusion of the present Session.

21. The various problems connected with education are being closely studied. Many of the widely-demanded reforms in the existing educational systems can be effected by administrative action, and this is being done as far as possible. Legislation is, however, necessary on certain matters, as, for instance, school attendance, the re-organisation [8] of secondary education, the co-ordination of the present disjointed systems, and the provision of medical and dental treatment for school children. Measures dealing with these problems are under consideration and will in due course be presented to you.

22. Estimates of the sums required, for the service of Saorstát Eireann for the year ending 31st March, 1925, will be laid before Dáil Eireann in due course, and in accordance with the provisions of your Constitution, and will require your most earnest consideration.

23. The losses and devastation wantonly inflicted on the country dictate a policy of the most rigid economy in every sphere of national life. Your Ministers feel bound to urge not only on every department of State but on every citizen the compelling necessity of husbanding our resources, avoiding waste, and extracting the utmost value from every public and private expenditure.

24. Proposals will be submitted to provide for the repayment of monies borrowed at home and abroad for national purposes leading to the establishment of Saorstát Eireann-a matter which has been the subject of public guarantees-and in this connection to bring the surplus assets of the several loans into account in ease of such national obligation to make such repayment.

25. MEMBERS OF OIREACHTAS EIREANN, it is my earnest prayer that in the labours upon which you are now entering, you may be guided by Divine Providence in the discharge of your task and that your deliberations may redound to the credit, the prosperity, and the peace of our country.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The Joint Sitting is now concluded.