AIREACHT OIBREACHAIS: REPORT

asked how this Department came to spend £5,357 which seemed very large in comparison with amount spent by Defence, Agriculture and Fisheries Departments.

referring to the paragraph re Relief of Distress said it would be well if the Minister gave some idea of the relation between the Labour Department and the White Cross Department. The report referred to a particular scheme in a particular district. If that scheme were worth taking up, to help industrial revival, as it was stated, it should be taken up in a proper manner. He put that to the Minister and asked that the department should, if possible, get in touch with the White Cross Committee. The reason he suggested that was that in some districts the work of the White Cross was not properly co-ordinated.

, DEPUTY JOSEPH MACDONAGH², replied with regard to the expenditure of £5,357, that when the Belfast boycott was taken over on the 25th January last he asked the Dáil for a sum of £2,500 for a period of 13 weeks, and he explained then that it was necessary to appoint at least 12 organisers and set up offices in Dublin and at least 600 committees throughout the country. In addition it was found necessary to appoint two extra organisers for Dublin City and to pay secretaries in Derry, Belfast, Limerick and Cork. The result was that in salaries alone £140 per week was spent. They had to go into a very strenuous press campaign and put advertisements into the Dublin papers and into 20 or 30 of the leading provincial organs, the bill for which amounted to over £100 per week. A million circulars and 50,000 posters were got out. He asked £5,000 for a further six months and he was well inside that sum and he thought that the Labour Department had achieved what it had set out to do and that the money, in view of the success of the boycott, was very well spent.

2. Joseph MacDonagh was substitute Minister for Labour. Countess Markievicz was Minister for Labour.

With regard to the question put by the Teachta from Cork (L. de Róiste), he was a member of the Executive Committee of the White Cross but he had not been able to attend any of the meetings till the Truce started. At the first meeting he attended the question of relief of distress was discussed and Dr. Kennedy had the rough draft of a scheme for giving employment to people in different parts of the country. The scheme was for the conservation of water power and Dr. Kennedy hoped it would mean this, an equivalent for coal at 6/- per ton. Dr. Kennedy had shown him enough to convince him there was something good in the scheme. He hoped to have it before the committee very soon. It was suggested the sum to be spent would be £60,000. That was no haphazard measure but a step in the right direction; it would give money to people for work instead of doles and would help to put industries on a proper basis.

wished to know what instructions were given to organisers of the Belfast boycott when appointed. Some of them had exceeded their orders and traders were informed in some places that the embargo was placed on the whole Six Counties. He complained the paid Secretary in Limerick had not done his duty and that a certain institution in that city had repudiated the Decree of the Dáil. He had reliable information that a certain commercial firm there had got permission to sell Belfast goods while one he was interested in was refused leave to sell £100 worth of Belfast biscuits which they happened to have in stock before the declaration of the boycott, and had to give them for pig-feeding. If the Dáil Decree was to be carried out it should be respected.

in proposing adoption of the report said he failed to see where Deputy O'Mahony had a grievance against the Labour Department. He presumed if a certain town refused to trade with another one which had the reputation of acting as a dump for Belfast goods and actively concerned in attempting to defeat the boycott, the Labour Department could not be blamed.

seconded the adoption of the report and said he was not happy about the boycott. He would be very sorry that the intolerance of Belfast should spread through the rest of Ireland. He was in favour of the boycott but he was afraid the banking industry of Belfast was not properly boycotted. The small deposits in local branches had not been withdrawn. He would impress upon the Minister of Labour to get his organisers to induce the farmers and those small depositors in the Belfast banks to withdraw their accounts.

considered the Deputy for Fermanagh (J. O'Mahony) was labouring under a misapprehension. The incident of the shutting out of Portadown goods occurred before the paid secretary was working. The people of Limerick decided to exclude the goods of all the Six Counties. He thought it would be a good thing to have it adopted generally. On very few occasions have the Dáil given a lead to the country in any of these things. The shutting out of Portadown goods in Limerick was done very successfully and he sympathised with Mr. O'Mahony to the extent that perhaps due notice was not given with regard to the Six Counties and individual manufacturers and agents who sent goods there chanced getting let down. He considered Limerick was perfectly justified in doing what it had done.

explained when the Ministry here decided on the Belfast boycott they discussed the whole situation, the position of the Six Counties and whether it was wiser to cut off that portion of Ireland. Now, he said, it was the considered decision of the Ministry that the boycott should be confined to those areas that drove out the Nationalist population and that the areas where that was not taking place should not be touched. If the city of Limerick started on its own behalf to boycott the Six Counties, it was acting in defiance of the Dáil. It was no use for the Dáil to pass a Decree against Belfast if Limerick decreed a boycott against the Six Counties. Portadown was expressly excluded because the Portadown people got frightened and there was no pogrom or driving out of Catholics there and their action in confining the boycott to Belfast had kept two-thirds of the Six-County area free and open to the Nationalists and Catholic workmen. If Limerick was going to act against the Six Counties they were playing the game of Belfast. What they wanted to do was to make Belfast and two or three other towns be ostracised by their own people. The action of Limerick in extending the boycott was absolutely indefensible. He thought it was the duty of Mr. Collivet to go back to Limerick and tell the citizens that what the Dáil ordered was what they should do.

explained that the Decree was carried out and in addition the citizens considered they were quite right in saying they were not going to buy any goods from the rest of the Six Counties also. Was the Dáil going to tell them they would have to buy goods from the Six Counties? The thing had been going on for six or seven months and the Dáil never pointed out it was wrong.

said this was the first time he had heard of it. If it had come to his knowledge in time he would have told them they were acting just as much in defiance of the Dáil as if they refused to carry out the Decree at all.

THE MINISTER FOR LABOUR

¹ said he specifically wrote to the Limerick committee telling them the only towns included in the boycott were Belfast, Lisburn, Dromore, Banbridge and New-townards, and that anything outside that was outside the Dáil Decree. He was not so much concerned with the Six Counties as that he got instructions to carry out the Decree to the letter. With regard to Deputy O'Mahony's statement that a Limerick firm got leave to sell Belfast biscuits, he had it in black and white from Mr. Casey, the local secretary, that Deputy O'Mahony was misinformed. Limerick did more to prevent Belfast goods getting through than any other town. Woolworths had a series of conditions put upon them and have put up a fine of £50 to be forfeited the first time they were caught breaking any of these conditions.

1. This appears to be the substitute Minister for Labour, Joseph MacDonagh.

With regard to the Belfast banks, they had done a great deal. In general, they issued notices not to have anything to do with the Belfast banks. In Limerick, out of 450 accounts in the Ulster Bank there were now only six and in a few days there would only be five. He did not agree that the banks were far more important than the commercial business. To destroy the distributing trade would be a very strong lever to bring Belfast to its knees. In the year 1919 Belfast got in about £23,000,000 worth of drapery and distributed 17 or 18 millions of it to the rest of Ireland. In the first half of 1920, it got only £5,000,000. The result was a great deal of unemployment in Belfast.

He referred yesterday to the number of bankruptcies which was the result of the boycott of the Belfast distributing trade. Mr. McBride's constituency was one of the worst in Ireland as far as the boycott was concerned. If the counties in the West of Ireland did only half or quarter as much as Limerick, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford or Clare, they would have gone much further with the boycott.

He tried to impress upon the Deputies why the boycott should be confined to the five towns decreed by showing that Belfast was the heart of the Six Counties and if they destroyed Belfast they would destroy the trade of the Six Counties. It was far better to aim at one objective than at five or six. It would be unfair to put on a boycott on people who had not been guilty of the crime for which this boycott was put upon the others. The rest of the Six Counties did not victimise the Catholics or drive them out of their business and therefore they were not subjected to the boycott. Referring to Portadown, he said it was not altogether spotless with regard to this boycott. There were a number of "dumps" for the five boycotted towns and if they could get proper inside information from Portadown they might find that a number of traders there were acting as distributors for Belfast firms. He had stated before there were four towns acting as "dumps" but he did not indicate they should be boycotted. He got no complaint from merchants in Portadown. In one case a letter stating a particular trader was not within the area was requested from him and he gave that letter.

He was not concerned with the politics of any traders, he was only concerned with carrying out the boycott in the five towns. Any boycott outside that area was done without his consent and he could not be responsible for anything done by people not under his control.

With regard to Deputy MacEntee's asking for the boycott area to be extended to the Six Counties, he thought it would be very unjust to do so. In the first place it would destroy the boycott, secondly it would be unjust and thirdly it would be a recognition on their part of the Partition Act.

asked if it was the intention of the Ministry to put an embargo on importation of English cloth and leather-goods, but the Ceann Comhairle ruled the question out of order.

Ceist curtha agus aontuithe.