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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 17 Aug 1921

Vol. S No. 2


Glaodhaim anois ar Aire an Rialtais Aitiúla chun a thuairise a thabhairt dúinn.

A Chinn Chomhairle, tá orm tuairisc a thabhairt uaim anois fé Aireacht an Rialtais Aitiúla.

Is mó constaic a bhí i gcoinnibh obair na hAireachta so i rith na bliana so caithte. Bhí cuid de sna comhairleoirí ab fhearr fé ghlasaibh, agus bhí tóir ar chuid eile acu.

Chimeád an Rialtas Gallda milliún go leith púnt den airgead a bhí ag dul do sna Búird Puiblí, agus dhineadac iarracht ar fhineáil throm do chur ortha de bharr na leirsgriosa d'eirigh as an gcoga a bhí ar siúl ar fud na tíre.

Bhí furmhór na mBord dílis dúinn, ámh, agus tá fós, agus d'eirigh go mhaith linn in ainneoin na gconstaicí go léir.

It was necessary to review the circumstances of the last three or four years when presenting the Report on Local Government before the Dáil.

As the President explained yesterday, the General Election of the First Dáil in 1918 disclosed a preponderating majority for Republicanism throughout the entire country, and some inspiration appeared to have come to the British Cabinet and the British House of Commons to protect minorities in this country, and there was then introduced the Proportional Representation Act which, it was thought, would seriously affect the Republican representation in this country.

The elections were delayed for some time, hoping that the Peace Conference might seriously interfere with the strong Republican feeling throughout the country, and when the first elections took place for the townships the result was that 10 cities returned majorities of Republicans, one city had a mixed Republican and Nationalist majority, and only one city in Ireland was pro-English. There were 62 townships with Republican majorities, 25 with mixed Republican and Nationalist majorities, and 24 for the pro-English party. Immediately after the elections, these Republican Councils declared their allegiance to Dáil Eireann, agreeing to accept the direction and control of the Dáil in connection with Local Government administration.

Some time after these elections, when the military activity of the Republic became pronounced, the English Government passed an Act which entitled members of the Crown forces who were injured in public to claim compensation for the loss of life or limb or private property.

This violated every fundamental principle of Local Government, and placed liabilities on local authorities for which no money had been levied, and put the English Government in a position to seize public money for Crown forces.

As another sample of English propaganda in the country, a Housing Act was put into operation, and in that connection the Government had got considerable assistance from the representatives in the north-east of Ireland. These great economists and financiers staked their reputation upon the success of the scheme. But it was rather significant that, after a period of over two years, not one dozen cottages had been erected in any part of Ireland on the strength of that Act. The passing of the Act was to show the Irish people in particular that the authors of it could do more for the Irish people than the Irish people could do for themselves.

In the subsequent elections that took place for county, urban, and rural councils, out of 206 rural councils only 19 declared for England, and of 163 boards of Guardians 137 declared allegiance to the Republic.

Shortly after these elections, at the Dáil Session of June last year, the Dáil appointed a Local Government Commission to inquire into the relations which should exist in future between local authorities and the Dáil, and during the time the Commission was sitting a further Act of the English Parliament declared inquests illegal, and declared forfeited to the Crown all monies raised by taxation by the English Government in Ireland, making these monies payable at the direction of the English Governor-General in Ireland. The Dáil Commission's recommendations were adopted in the September Session of the Dáil, and since the 1st October, with the exception of some of the local authorities in four counties in Ireland, practically every local authority in the country had acknowledged the Dáil. The Local Government Department has had a staff of Medical, Engineering, and Accountancy officials operating throughout the whole of the country supervising, and, in some respects, reorganising the work of local authorities, and generally achieving remarkable results in the machinery of Local Government throughout the country.

The Dáil will be asked in Private Session to undertake to restore to the local authorities whatever sum has been withheld during the last two years by reason of the action of the British Government when in the ordinary course of events the Irish Treasury will be free to disburse its monies in accordance with the directions of the Dáil. Some of the difficulties which had confronted the local authorities were due to British military activity throughout the country; and some of the ablest and most energetic local representatives had lost their lives or their health or their freedom in carrying out the duties of their offices. The first casualty was that of the late Lord Mayor of Cork, Alderman McCurtin. Immediately previous to the elections they had lost to Dublin City one of the best-known and widely-respected and most vigorous public representative in Ireland, Alderman Tom Kelly, who, while he was in prison, was Lord Mayor-elect for the City of Dublin.

During the Local Government Commission, one of those who gave considerable time and attention to the affairs of that Commission was the late Lord Mayor MacSwiney of Cork. Amongst other irreparable remarkable losses which had been sustained by the Local Government Department were the Mayor of Limerick and the ex-Mayor of Limerick, Alderman O'Callaghan. The latest loss they had to deplore was the case of Seán Wall of County Limerick. He thought that no public representatives in any part of the world ever gave their time so willingly and so unselfishly to the service of the public. Amongst the difficulties which they had had to face were raids on their offices and public buildings, and arrests of their doctors and nurses and all classes of officials, while in one county the enemy went so far that, having arrested the Chairman of the County Council and the Secretary, they issued a proclamation making it an offence for ratepayers to pay their rates to the collector, and two ratepayers were actually fined for doing so.

The constructive side had been confined almost exclusively to the abolition of the workhouse, as it was known in Ireland. Workhouses were institutions which our friends and neighbours had endowed us with, and at the time they were established in this country not one single public representative in north, south, east or west was courageous enough to accept them on behalf of the nation. Smith O'Brien and O'Connell spoke against them. O'Connell said the problem in Ireland was unemployment, and that the people of Ireland were willing to work for twopence a day. These institutions had bred a peculiar race, peculiar to themselves—people who had got no civic pride or sense of civic responsibility. Through the public boards and public representatives a great and real attempt was now being made to wipe out of existence the workhouse as it was known, and to provide district hospitals and county homes for the aged and infirm who could not be boarded out.

English financial houses had, he said, refused to lend money to public bodies in Ireland. In the Irish capital three great public capital expenditure works were at present going on financed by Irish banking houses. That money was raised at a time when it was thought the credit of Republicanism, and the existence of the Republic were not likely to last very long. The Dáil would be asked to sanction the extension of the subscription which the County Councils and Boroughs contributed towards the General Council of County Councils.

Tairgim go ndéanfar díospóireacht ar an gcuntas so ag Siosón Príomháideach na Dála.

Aontuím leis sin.


Cuirim anois an rún so go ndéanfar díospóireacht ar an gcuntas so ag Siosón Príomháideach na Dála.

Glacadh leis sin d'aon ghuth.

The Report circulated to the Teachtaí was as follows: