I suggest that if there is any matter that requires clarification in the minds of members that they should ask questions. Now I would like everybody clearly to understand, and the delegation on the one hand and we on the other have agreed to this, that the plenipotentiaries went over to negotiate a Treaty, that they could differ from the Cabinet if they wanted to, and that in anything of consequence they could take their decision against the decision of the Cabinet, but of course they would know the consequence. They would know what they were deciding against. If I was on the delegation I would have taken a different view from Mr. Griffith on one point. Now I wish to explain to you that a Cabinet team has to work so well together that at critical moments like this it should be unable to act together as one man when you have fundamental differences that you cannot get rid of. I have only one thing to say, one thing I feel hurt about, with respect to the delegation, and that is that a Treaty was signed in London, and when I heard of it first the signatures were appended to it. As I came in the door of the Mansion House I was given a signed copy of the document, and it had already been given to the Press in London. It was then about 7.15. Now it probably would not have altered the final position a bit, but what I did feel was that if I was of any use to my country it was that I was able to keep the two groups together. I considered myself of no other avail. I considered at least I might have the chance of getting that unanimity which was so essential at the moment. My tactics would have differed from those of the delegation. I stood away from the delegation because I thought the tactical position was stronger. I do not hesitate to admit to anybody that I went out for peace from the moment of Lloyd George's letter to me. I went out for peace if I could secure it honourably, and I felt it my duty to do so. I struggled for it. I battered down the wall of the isolated Republic to do it. I saw that I would have to batter down that wall. I said when I was elected as President that as far as I am concerned my oath was taken to the Irish people I mean my oath was taken on the Irish side it was referred to this morning in the Independent. Some of you I know voted for me as President because I was for an independent Republic, that in the eyes of many meant an isolated Republic and I was also voted for by people in the country who thought that if there was anything like that which is now before the country I would not use my influence to get it rejected. I therefore represented two groups. When I went down to Clare I primarily represented the Republic and I felt that my first obligation was to the group in which I stood, and everybody knew that I stood definitely for the Irish Republic. I have tried to keep the country together as well as the members here together, and I have also showed that I never made a statement that I was altogether for the Republic or nothing. I was careful on that point if you go through anything I have said at any time. I have been perfectly consistent. I have been classed as a moderate. So I am. I believe I am a moderate. I frightened some members here in the Dáil before I was elected as President when I said, "This oath to me is not going to bind me to do anything but what I consider right and honourable and best for the Irish people". It was on that consideration you took me, and on that consideration I am going to stand. I felt at the same time in honour bound if I could by any honourable means to get an isolated Republic. It was my duty to the people to do it. That has been my effort all the time to get that, and if I could not it was a question of tactics to leave it in the hands of others who might be able to do it. Expecting peace by negotiation I started to break down that wall. I opened a path. The plenipotentiaries were sent because they were likely to be people whom the British Government would be induced to try and do business with. I knew the men perfectly. It would not be quite the team I would have sent were it not there might be personal differences among members of the Cabinet which would prevent them working together as a team. I suggested they were the best team I could get, and I felt that we could do the work here because we were in constant communication. At a certain stage a certain question was being put to the delegates. I saw that the question was coming. I do not like hobble skirts. I would have opposed the oath for this Assembly if I could because I do not believe in binding yourself up in hobble skirts, for human nature is such that you come to the time when you kick them off. Then this question had to be decided. I was here and I was considering the whole circumstances. I would have said "No", though I might not have said "No" before. I would have said "No" in the circumstances because I felt I could have said "No" with advantage to the nation. On October 25th I wrote this:
"I received the minutes of the seventh session and your letter of the 24th. We are all here at one that there can be no question of our asking the Irish people to enter an arrangement which would make them subject to the Crown or demand from them allegiance to the British King. If war is the alternative, we can only face it, and I think that the sooner the other side is made to realise that the better."
That decision was taken with the full knowledge of the consequences and I took it that time because I said to myself if they publish their proposals we will put up ours and stand behind, and let them go to war if they dared. If they did we would be perfectly right. If I am in prison and a man says to me you can go out and walk round the roads if you give me your parole that you will not escape I would say I will not give you my parole. I will use my chance to get out of the prison house anytime I can. If you ask me to give my parole I would say no and do your downdest.