AIREACHT UM GHNÓTHAÍ DÚITHCHE: REPORT.

¹ informed the Dáil that he intended to ask for £5,000 to pay Brigade police officers, as these men would be whole-time officials. The Relief Bureau had been established to co-ordinate the work of the White Cross and other relief societies. He asked the Deputies to forward any cases they had to this subdepartment and every effort would be made to expedite the payment of relief.

1. Austin Stack.

With regard to emigration, they had got the shipping agents to sign an undertaking that they were observing the regulations issued. He regarded the returns for recent months very satisfactory. These returns had been largely advertised by the British government which must be with the object of enticing young people out of the country and to give the idea there was a rush of people from the country. The facts were the other way. The emigration from Ireland in June 1914 was 1,208; in July 1921 it was only 787. In June 1914 [sic] it was about the same. The figures the British reports quote for the last year are about half the average for the ten years before the war. That figure was 30,000 people and the figure for last year was 15,000, and that notwithstanding the fact that 150,000 to 160,000 were held up during the war unable to get away.

He said he would be bringing in a Decree at a later stage regarding enemy court officials and others. If it was not passed now it might not be possible to meet again for some time. Its enforcement could be held up till it was considered advisable.

proposed the adoption of the report. He was very glad to see that the police duties would be carried out in future by whole-time officers. It was absolutely essential that these officers should devote their whole time to the work and it was necessary for the people to understand that the Decrees of the Republican Courts could and would be carried out. He said he was acting on the Prisoners' Dependents' Fund Committee and he would like to know if those depending on men on active service with the I.R.A. were entitled to receive relief, and to whom application should be addressed.

He thought it very essential that shipping agents should be impressed that they must carry out the Dáil regulations relating to emigration.

seconded adoption of report. In reference to emigration, he pointed out there was a big discrepancy between the figures the Minister for Home Affairs quoted and those the British government gave. He heard there was a large number of Irish slipping out of the country by subterranean channels.

He wished to remind the Minister for Home Affairs with reference to appointments in the new police force that a great number of the earlier police officers were now in jail and their claims should not be forgotten when a permanent arrangement was being made.

informed the Dáil that the enemy contended the holding of Republican Courts was a breach of the Truce. He considered it was not, and no agreement had been arrived at. He understood that the Minister for Home Affairs intended issuing an order to have the courts held as they were before the enemy activity became so strong as it had been for the past twelve months. In some cases where courts were to be held the enemy warned the parties concerned they would break the courts up by force if any attempt was made to hold them, and they were not held. Another point was, if decisions were given and could not be carried out it would be better the courts were not held. The enemy said they had no official knowledge of any force like the Republican police. If those police go to enforce a Decree by interference with person or property, they are liable to arrest by the enemy forces and trial as criminals. He asked if courts were summoned were they going to hold them in spite of the armed forces of the Crown? If the police are instructed to make a seizure, how are they going to do it? As far as he saw, if the courts were held in a public way the enemy would not back down from his position of opposition.

He understood an agreement might be come to. What the enemy complained of was that we wanted to do things now that we could not do during the war. That was justices who were afraid to sit before were now anxious to sit publicly. The enemy objected strongly to that. He thought it was possible there might be an understanding that the courts could be held in private, as they were previous to the Truce, and do their work efficiently in such a way that the enemy police might pretend they did not know anything about them. Otherwise a very serious situation would arise and would undoubtedly lead to the breaking up of the Truce.

THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE

disagreed with Deputy Duggan. He said there was a condition in the Truce terms to the effect that the British police and soldiers could not interfere with any Irishman during the Truce. If that guarantee had not been given there would have been no Truce.

believed they could settle this matter very quickly. When the Truce was arranged there was an understanding that there would be no ostentatious demonstrations on either side. He thought the courts could go on as they did before, and in the same method, without being ostentatious. As regards the police, there would be a difficulty there, but he did not see the necessity of enforcing decrees overnight and they could be deferred for the time being. He felt strongly that the courts should go on, but should go on quietly, as before. This was a time for reorganising and doing work.

said he did not see any difficulty in carrying on the courts. His principal objection to the courts was that they were too centralised. In times of stress the organisation was not able to meet the circumstances. It should be decentralised as much as possible, first because the District Court area was altogether too large to have in a court area. They found they could never summon a District Court during the war without attracting the attention of the enemy. They had to go back to the old system of getting Parish Courts together. They found the next appeal should be, not to the District Court, but to a court comprised of four or five parishes, and they found this worked very well and stood the stress of a very difficult period in their history. He had in his mind that there should be another appeal to something like a County Court from that as it was altogether impossible to have an appeal carried through to Dublin during the war.

Another objection he had was the handicap it would be on the poor people who wanted to appeal against local decisions to be forced to send the case to Dublin. He was not familiar with the judicature nature of this central body in Dublin but they found the second appeal was necessary to settle cases. There were a few people down with them who did not accept the decision of the superior court and who if there had been a County Court would have been satisfied. People who were well off secured in Dublin reversals of the local court decisions.

He objected decidedly to the control of the police force from Republican headquarters here in Dublin. He thought they should not have a second Dublin Castle working here but at once follow the procedure of other countries that had their own government and decentralise the police authority and hand it over to the county authorities to control these forces.

said from his experience the court areas fixed by the Minister for Home Affairs so as to have a constituency area for each district was the most expeditious and best. The amended scheme by which one District Justice could act with two parishes covered any difficulty which might have arisen owing to enemy action.

With regard to the police, he thought it was inadvisable to pay them at present. His principal reason for making that suggestion was he could not see how these chiefs of police could be whole-time officers especially if the military activity was resumed. A good deal of stress might be laid on the fact that a chief of police was essential, but he took it, and he thought it was the experience of many Teachtaí that the working of a court depends on a good registrar. It was on him they had to rely solely for the carrying out of the courts and in parts where there was a good registrar the courts never cease to function.

He strongly favoured the promulgation of a Decree against the enemy courts. The fact that no such Decree had been made up to this led people who were more or less favourably disposed towards the Republic to go into those courts.

said he welcomed the proposal to appoint whole-time police officers to enforce Decrees, etc. He would like to mention a case in connection with the Increase of Rent Decree passed by the Dáil some time ago. A very big housing corporation in Dublin increased their rents according to the Decree and the present position was that less than half the tenants were paying the increased rents. The remainder, about five-eights, are paying no rent, have been taken to the enemy courts on two occasions and have been beaten, and he understood they were going to take it to the House of Lords now. He was concerned in so far as he was approached when the increase was made and he advised the people they should and must obey the Dáil Decree. It would have been a very popular thing to do to say "pay no rent". He was very glad to say all the tenants in his constituency obeyed but they were being constantly assaulted and blackguarded by the others who said no such Rent Decree was passed by the Dáil and that they had this from their own member. He suggested that the Dáil should insist upon each Deputy who is affected by this rent dispute going to his constituents and advising the people as to whether this was a Dáil Decree or not. The matter was becoming a regular scandal and he appealed to the Minister for Home Affairs to give every protection he could to the tenants who obeyed the Decree.

agreed with Deputy Duggan re the holding of courts in public. Courts came out now because there was no danger. During the war there was no proper effort made to keep them going. There was no court held in South Cork for eight or nine months. It was no good their getting up against a situation now they had not faced long ago. The courts broke down for the reason that the machinery was not held together. There was not enough work done locally or at headquarters. He would like to know how many courts were held.

He protested against the payment of police chiefs. They were not necessary for the enforcement of Decrees. He objected also to the remark passed about the Prisoners' Dependents' Fund. There never was a case brought before the Prisoners' Dependents' Fund that was not seen to within two or three days.

said he could bear out what the Minister of Finance said re courts. Their great difficulty was to get courts at all. He had to constitute a court himself to prevent people going into the enemy courts.

asked what machinery the Minister had for ascertaining whether the courts were functioning or not. Since he came out of prison he had received one or two complaints that the courts in Limerick were not working satisfactorily.

With regard to the Rent Decree, the people complained the increase was very big and came suddenly on them. In many cases there was an increase of 50 per cent. People did not understand why they should be asked to pay such increases. It was felt there was hardship, and arbitration courts outside the Republic were set up which settled a great many cases at a lower rate than the landlord would have got under the Decree.

said he wished to make a personal explanation with reference to a statement made by the Minister of Finance that an attack had been made on the working of the Prisoners' Dependents' Fund. He certainly did not mean to do any such thing.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE

replied the reference was not to the Teachta for East Tipperary.

said he was aware of the splendid work done in Cork by the police but if it was intended to pay them how were they to be chosen, and who was to control them? He suggested they should be under local committees. The people in Cork were paying no rent to the Cork Corporation and he asked the Minister for Home Affairs if he had any remedy to suggest.

explained that the general idea for civil administration involved the decentralisation of the working and the problem of the smaller localities in the country. There was not yet definitely formulated in their minds what was to be the unit of civil administration in the country and they would not get out of a lot of petty little routine difficulties until they definitely defined what was their unit of area for civil administration. The army could not work harmoniously unless they had very clearly defined units. Now that the question of payment of police was raised this particular point was a very proper one for consideration. He thought they should regulate their courts and police to fit in with the unit for civil administration, so that the local councils would be a petty government for that area. This matter as far as decentralisation of powers was concerned was a matter of organisation and now that there was a necessity for re-organisation on different lines he thought that they should at once endeavour to define what would be this unit for local administration.

He thought the courts should go on, and to go on properly they should go on in an unobtrusive manner. Their police, he thought, should be able to control their areas without force just as the D.M.P. control traffic here. There was no reason why it should be difficult to carry out Decrees now no more than before the war.

With regard to the objection by the Minister of Finance to paying the police, at the present moment it was a question purely of finance. He thought it was absolutely necessary to have these special officers, and he thought the areas should be adjusted before appointments were made as the present military brigade area would not suit. He was in favour of payment of police. He believed they would always require to have the forces controlled from Dublin.

referring to Deputy McGrath's complaint about the Rent Decree said when that Decree was passed he thought everyone understood it would be the maximum amount the landlord could increase rents. Deputy McGrath advised his constituents to pay up to the full amount, and it was not fair for him to say people who offered to submit the matter to arbitration refused to submit to the Decree. After that there was a conference at which Deputy Cosgrave was present. He thought the matter was fixed up long ago. He did not agree the tenants should be blamed for any action they took and he was prepared to go and see them if the Dáil thought any good could be done.

DEPUTY FITZGERALD

¹ said he thought the Court system an excellent one. He had twelve months' experience and if the courts did not work well in other districts the fault must have been with the people themselves. In his area they conducted courts right through the war. They had over 300 cases in all, and during the past six months they dealt with 60 cases. When the enemy pressure became great the constituency was slightly altered which enabled them to continue to do a good deal of work. He thought the present scheme of organisation an excellent one and the Minister should push it on to the utmost limit.

1. James Fitzgerald, a member for East Cork.

He asked was there any scale of fees laid down for solicitors practising in the District Courts. He had found solicitors charging the exorbitant fee of £20 for ordinary civil suits.

With regard to emigration, he said the present passport system had broken down. It was too clumsy and it took too long with the result that in many cases the applicants had gone to America before the passports had been issued. He submitted that the present system should be decentralised and local offices established in the country with the police in charge. There was going to be a great deal of unemployment around Cork Harbour. The type of workmen round there were wanted in Ireland. If they had a decentralised passport office and sent on adequate particulars of applications to the Minister for Home Affairs he might get in touch with the Minister for Trade and Commerce and try to devise some scheme whereby employment might be provided for these men.

, said he was at the conference re Rent disputes referred to by Deputy Staines and Deputy McGrath. The tenants who were agitating and refusing to pay their rent were not the best of the tenants. The particular corporation in question had conferred untold benefit on Dublin. It had provided for 5,000 tenants. It was established in 1879 and consisted of very rich Dublin merchants. It most reluctantly accepted the assistance of the Dáil in the matter but were brought into it by a particularly able member of their staff. He went into the matter of those tenants who refused to pay and their whole case was that they would not assist capitalists. This corporation had saved Dublin £100,000 a year and then they were faced with this kind of thing. It had absolutely disgusted him with having anything to do with the Housing Acts. The corporation had been promised and assured of the assistance of the Black and Tans to eject the tenants and it refused it. Deputy McGrath's case was a very good one and he thought the protection asked for should be given to those tenants who really paid what was an honest rent. Dublin Corporation was losing £20,000 a year on housing 2,000 tenants and one of those tenants refused to pay 1/6d. a week rent and £4 10. 0. wages a week coming into the house.

2. William T. Cosgrave.

remarked that he did not like to see Cabinet Ministers showing divided counsels before the Dáil. The point was there had been a necessary clash between the civil and military sides of their work. That was only very natural; they could not expect as much butter from churned milk as out of the cream. Hence, it was the Minister for Home Affairs had a very difficult task; they could not expect from that Department as much efficiency as from the military. It was absolutely necessary for the civil administration to decentralise. The military side could operate from a centre because of their excellent communication system. It was a wonder to him how the Local Government Department had been able to do work. They deserved great credit for the way they had been able to hold the country together. Recently the member for Clare (B. O'Higgins) mentioned the matter of decentralisation to him. He (the President) could see no way to get efficiency in civil matters unless they decentralised. The natural unit for that would be the county council area. He would suggest the House would set up a committee of members acquainted with local affairs, together with representatives from the Home Affairs Department and the military side, to go into the matter and it would be the best day's work they could do for the organisation of the civil administration of the country. There were three possible units—the county council areas, the Sinn Féin area and the military brigade area. The Sinn Féin organisation had a certain claim to have this unit made the unit because they originally hoped that the Sinn Féin organisation would be the channel through which the civil administration would flow. Taking the three units into consideration he was inclined to think that as the representatives of the county council were chosen by the people in a regular manner, the unit of administration should be the county council unit. He thought it was a question for the Government largely to decide upon. He thought before they made their proposals the Ministry would like to have the opinions and advice of members from the cities, members of the House who were county councillors or members of corporations, and Ministers closely associated with the civil side of affairs and one or two from the army should be on the Committee which should be called together by the Minister for Home Affairs for Saturday morning instead of a sitting of the whole House. The whole of their civil administration would depend upon this scheme of decentralisation and he believed if they adopted such a scheme there would be no complaints about the working of the Home Affairs Department.

He could not understand the complaint about the increase of rent. The Dáil Decree was a maximum sum and there was no compulsion that anyone should pay any rent as far as he could see. If people who refused to pay rent were brought to court, he felt sure they would be dealt with.

The police, he thought, were necessary and particularly necessary in the interests of the army. It was not fair to have the army doing police work and they should not be asked to do it in future. They did not want a big police force but a small one under the control of the Minister for Home Affairs for seeing that orders of the Court were obeyed and Decrees carried out without calling in the Army.

When the Minister had replied he proposed the House would adjourn till Monday. Tomorrow they wanted to have a conference with their foreign representatives, and Saturday would be given to the Committee on Decentralisation to draw up a proposal to submit to the Dáil next week.

considered the question of decentralisation should not be taken up in the manner suggested by the President but in connection with the drafting of an Irish Constitution.

said he was very glad to see discussion on his department. In the first place he wished to point out it was a gross mistake to speak of the District Court areas as the member for Sligo did. The area of the District Court was the constituency, and besides the District Court there was a court in every parish and sometimes parishes grouped. In addition to that, for some months past he had framed a District Court area by which one District Justice and two Parish Justices could carry on the work. Deputy MacCabe told the Dáil he could never get into communication with headquarters. He (the Minister for Home Affairs) had never been able to get any communication from Sligo. Deputy MacCabe spoke of corruption at appeals in Dublin. Well, he (the Minister) could dispose of that complaint very easily by informing the House that never yet was there an appeal from Sligo heard or listed for hearing in Dublin.

(Sligo) interrupted to say that owing to his imprisonment and that of his colleague's also, they were not aware of the new scheme for courts.

continuing his reply said there was a suggestion that his department was responsible for the courts falling through in places. No doubt under ordinary circumstances he would be responsible, but several organisers he had sent out were arrested and he saw no good in sending out others in places where the courts were established but allowed to fall through by the local people.

The Rent Decree Act was brought in on a motion of his to meet urgent cases arising out of the operations of the English Government. In his draft Bill he provided for an increase of 10% plus increase in rates. The Bill was referred to committee who fixed amount of increase at 15% plus increase in the rates and 6% on certain improvements. That was a definite fixed sum and could not be altered at all unless by agreement amongst the parties concerned. If anyone came to court for an increase of rent, the court should give them that amount. The Deputy for Limerick City (M.P. Collivet) spoke of an increase of 50%. That was an exaggeration, as the increase was seldom, if ever, over 30%.

With regard to the rent dispute mentioned by the member for St. James' area (Deputy Joseph McGrath), the matter was out of his hands as the parties had refused to come into the Republican Courts and had gone into the enemy ones. But with regard to the question of protection for those tenants who were being abused, he assured the member for St. James they would receive all the protection his police force could afford them. All he was sorry for was that the landlords did not bring in a test case in the Republican Courts which, he was sure, would have disposed of the matter satisfactorily long since.

Regarding the Truce and the working of the courts, he was strongly of opinion they must carry on even without the sanction of Dublin Castle. They were no more bound to cease functioning than the British were, and it was the intention of his department to carry on with the courts and improve them as much as possible with the approval of the Dáil. Of course, he said, if the Dáil thought otherwise it would not be done. He did not think there would be many Decrees to be enforced, but he would prefer to hold over any case that would be likely to be tough. At the same time he did not want the hands of the police to be tied in any way. So with the understanding that they were not going to bring about complications if they could help it, he asked the Dáil for a free hand to carry on the courts as usual.

He had considered the question of payment of registrars over and over again— and he was afraid it would cost too much money at present, but any court that functioned properly could from its revenue easily pay its own registrar. It would cost £30,000 to pay the registrars from Dublin and he could not recommend that.

The registrars were the people on whom he had to depend for reports. Many of them neglected to supply him with proper reports and he took it as evidence the court was not working when he got no reports. One registrar came to him the other day and told him his court was working all the time though it sent up no reports.

In reply to the Lord Mayor of Cork (Deputy O'Callaghan), he stated that the police officers were elected by the army and handed over to his department.

He admitted there was a grave scandal in some places regarding solicitors' fees. If cases were reported to him he would try and take some action against those solicitors who were charging exorbitant fees. Locally he would suggest that they should be prevented from entering their courts at all. If solicitors formed a ring and attempted to keep up an exorbitant scale amongst themselves, he would suggest and give instructions to the courts to hear pleaders who did not belong to the legal profession.

Referring to the Relief Bureau, he said that was a matter put into his hands by the Ministry. He did not desire to make any attack on the Irish Republican Prisoners' Dependents' Fund Committee. The Relief Bureau was included in his department by order of the Ministry and with the approval of the Dáil. He intended to carry it on and keep the people in touch with the White Cross, Prisoners' Dependents' Fund, and any other existing bodies dealing with relief funds.

There was the question of emigration permits. If the Regulation that application for a permit must be made a month before date of sailing was adhered to, there would be no fear that the permit would not reach an applicant in time. He saw no reason for establishing any other headquarters for issue of permits. The suggestion with regard to the enforcement of the Decree against emigration and shipping agents was one that had been anticipated. The new police had those matters in hands and it was through them future enquiries would have to be made.

That finished all the questions and he would like to add that at any time any member had a complaint to make he might communicate with him and he would be only too glad to deal with it and any fair criticism he was only too glad to hear it.

asked if any fee was charged to solicitors or barristers for practising in Republican Courts or any licence issued to them. He understood they had to pay in the English courts and he thought they should be made pay in their courts.

replied that matter had never yet come up for consideration and he did not believe the stage had been reached in which they could exact licence duty or pass their own men.

Report was then adopted unanimously.

, proposed:—

(a) That the Dáil adjourn till next Monday at 11 a.m.

(b) That a Ministerial Committee on Foreign Affairs would sit tomorrow.

(c) That on Saturday a Home Affairs Committee on Decentralisation would sit, to consist of Minister for Local Government, Minister for Home Affairs, Secretary for Sinn Féin, Chief of Staff, Teachtaí who were members of the corporations of Dublin, Cork and Limerick and members of county councils, and any other Deputy who was interested in the matter.

He said he was very anxious to have the discussion on the peace question taken first thing on Monday as it would be well to have the reply sent before the British House of Commons adjourned.

asked how long did he propose to give to the peace discussion.

replied that was a matter for the Dáil.

asked if the President's ruling in regard to foreign appointments was definite.

replied that the Dáil was supreme and anything the House wanted to insist upon it could do so. He thought those appointments should be ministerial appointments. If there be a policy for the Government, it must be able to select its own agents to carry it out. The House was supreme and if there was a motion to any other effect it could be discussed.

said he would put a motion down to that effect.

The President's motion was put and agreed to unanimously and the Dáil adjourned till Monday at 11 a.m.