I noticed a document posted up when we assembled here today and I was going to direct the Clerk of the Dáil to remove it, but I see it has been removed already. Under the circumstances I do not propose to make any inquiries as to how it came there. I take it for granted no member of the Dáil is in any way connected with the putting up of that document. Had it not been removed I would have directed the Clerk to remove it.
I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, that nobody has heard you.
I will now ask Mr. Michael Hayes to give the statement of the committee with regard to the documents.
As arranged by the committee eight documents¹ were prepared and they are ready for distribution amongst the members. The documents are typed and, while they can be circulated amongst the members of the Dáil, they cannot be given to the press or to anybody outside the Dáil. Therefore the documents are distributed to the members of the Dáil on the express condition that they shall be returned after perusal and examination by the members. It will be clear to any member who gets these documents that he is getting them on the express condition that he gets them from the Clerk of the House and will return them to the Clerk of the House. They are got ready in bundles at the end of the table and the arrangement made by the Clerk is that the members will go down and get the documents and make sure that they have eight documents, and their names will be ticked off. Later on they will return the documents in the same way. There will thus be a check on the distribution and return of the documents. You will get the documents immediately if you go down in file for them. In addition to these there is also another a letter from Mr. Lloyd George to Mr. Griffith. It will be given out later; it is a separate thing. Every member should make sure he gets eight documents on the clear understanding that he has got to give them back and regard them as private.
1. Printed in Appendices 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14.
On a point of order, I should like to draw attention to a note at the foot of this paper we got stating that those who wish to speak on the motion for ratification at the public session should hand in their names to the Whips. I would suggest that every member of the Dáil has a perfect right to speak. I presume three-fourths of the Dáil will wish to speak and give their reasons in public for their vote for or against (Hear, hear).
With regard to that, I cannot read into it that there is any suggestion that anyone should not speak. As I understand this note it is made entirely in the interests of the members of the Dáil and to enable them to make the most effective arrangements for speaking. If it conflicts with the rights of the members of the Dáil to speak in any way I would be very glad to receive communications on the point from any member. I am quite certain it was not intended to conflict with the right of the members to speak.
I will take your assurance on that. There was another point I wanted to refer to regarding those documents. A good deal of information has got to the press in one way or another and, while not wishing to impugn the honour of any member of the House, I would suggest that as regards every member he or she should put their names on the document.
I beg to second that. As regards handing in names I object because it is so inefficiently done. I handed in my name to speak to the suggestion of the President and I was not called upon.
If we handed in our names the particular member whose name would be called would have to speak at a particular time. I would much prefer it would be left to the members who could stand up when they heard another member making a statement and perhaps contradict or give his views on it (Cries of No, no).
I would like to know who are the Whips. Does it mean one has to take sides in advance? Are there Whips this side of the House and that side of the House? I feel there are plenty like myself who do not belong to either side.
With regard to the speeches, I notice my name is down as having a desire to speak. I am quite sure it was not the only one. I think I had temerity to suggest to the Speaker that if possible it should be arranged that I should speak towards the end because my speech is mainly an appeal to this Assembly for unity. I also feel I have expressed my views more than once and it is up to every private member of the Dáil now to express his or her view before I give my views again.
The names of the Whips are Deputies Liam Mellowes, Seán T. O'Kelly. Michael Staines and D. McCarthy. It does not matter to which of them you give your names as far as I understand.
It was I suggested this programme to Mr. Griffith last night and I would like to explain my intention. The point is there will be at the public session a set debate. There will be a programme arranged. The motion is to be proposed by Mr. Griffith and he will have to make some arrangement for seconding and so on. He will have to get speakers. Similarly on our side that is the side for the rejection of the Treaty we will have to make arrangements for the principal speakers. That is all that is intended to give those who intend to speak adequate time for preparation.
It will facilitate matters if as many members as possible will hand in their names.
That is the idea exactly.
Before we go on with the business today I want to bring a note that has been handed to me before you. I have been asked as the Minister of Defence what I intend to do as regards rumours that are going around to the effect that certain Deputies of this body from Cork City and County are to be shot if they do not vote against the ratification of the Treaty. I would like everyone to realise that I cannot deal with rumours. The sensible thing for everyone who hears such a rumour is to tell the person or persons who tells him or her to keep his or her mouth shut and not be circulating the rumour further. The tale-bearer is as bad as the tale-maker. If anyone can give me evidence that any particular officer or private of the army has made any such statement I will deal with that officer or man. I can do nothing else. I cannot deal with rumours but let nobody continue to circulate for goodness sake.
Arising out of
The Minister for Defence has answered the question.
But I have a matter to bring before the Dáil.
The Minister of Defence has answered a question and satisfactorily. We cannot take up a discussion.
I do not think he has yet told us whether or not he is going to deal with the person or persons responsible for the warning issued to the Cork members.
I will certainly deal with them.
I think that is satisfactorily settled.
I want you, Mr. Speaker, to have that document read to the House. I would also ask if the official shorthand writer has it written down.
I will read that document now.
Was that document read to the House? Has the Clerk of the House a shorthand note of it?
Mr. Speaker, I did not state that the document was read to the House. The answer I have given now was in connection with a question put to me with regard to rumours. This particular document was handed to me now by a member. It was not my duty to the House but I will read it to the House now and it will be just as well to do it and I am going to deal with the man responsible for it whether he agrees with my views or not. As long as I am Minister of Defence there is going to be discipline in the army (Hear, hear). This is the document handed to the senior Deputy for Cork City: "To all T.D.'s in the Cork No. 1 Area: (1) On December 10th the Staff of the First Southern Division and all Brigade Commandants met and sent forward to G.H.Q. a unanimous demand for the rejection of the Treaty proposals. (2) You are reminded it is your duty to support this demand. (3) To act otherwise would be treason to the Republic to which we have all sworn allegiance." Now I have given you my assurance that I am going to deal with the persons responsible for sending out that.
I have a question to ask the Minister of Defence. Can I put it?
As the member who handed in the document I must confess I am perfectly satisfied the Minister of Defence is quite prepared to do his duty. I have no doubt about that and no one else should have nor do I think that the men who collaborated [sic] the document really intended to do any harm.
I fear you are going into a discussion now; we must keep in order.
I am perfectly satisfied, to cut it short, that the Minister of Defence is going to do his duty in all respects.
Will we have any guarantee that the army will be protected from people spreading rumours about it?
Now, we must proceed to business. Are these eight documents that are ready private and confidential?
Therefore it is necessary those who receive the documents shall hand them back. I should like to know what is the duty of individual members in another respect which has not been mentioned at all, that is to say with regard to making copies or extracts from these documents.
From what I understand the members have not a right to make extracts or copies of the documents or even to bring them outside this room.
There is a further matter. The members should undertake not to speak about them.
That is covered by the statement that the documents are absolutely private.
There was a mutual agreement that there would be no disclosure or publication of the documents connected with the delegation unless both sides agreed to publication and therefore if we published any documents outside here we could be charged with a breach of faith.
It will take some hours to read over the documents; will any other business be proceeded with while we are considering them?
We will see what the course of the proceedings will be when the arrangements are made for giving out the documents. Will the member for the University state the course the members are to take with regard to receiving the documents?
Each member will go around the table where there are two clerks and they will get the documents.
They had better go in some particular order.
The documents having been duly distributed
There is nothing in the documents before us which shows clearly what are the differences the substantial differences between the document which was before the Cabinet at its last meeting before the Treaty was signed and the Treaty that was eventually signed. May I suggest it would be useful if the four or five points of difference between the document as shown to the Cabinet and the document as signed were stated before the House so that you will have a clear idea of the differences between the two? I have here the document showing the sequence of events and I could in three or four minutes tell you, if you think it would be useful, what in fact are the differences between the documents before the Cabinet two or three days before the signing of the Treaty and the Treaty as eventually signed. You have all now before you copies of the document before the Cabinet and the Treaty. When you have these two typed out it is not easy to see the differences at once. I think I can make it all plain in a few words. It is necessary the House should know how the matter stands.
Mr. Speaker, there is a vital document missing. There should be, in full, the exact document presented to the Cabinet.
It is here.
Oh! is it?
One of the documents before you is the document to which the Secretary's notes refers "S.F.C.29", it is headed. The first alteration between what I may call the document before the Cabinet and the Treaty is in clause 3. It provides for the representative of the British Crown. As before the Cabinet that clause stood: "The representative of the Crown in Ireland shall be a Governor-General appointed in like manner as in Canada". The words Governor-General are left out in the Treaty. It is open to you to give that gentlemen whatever name you think proper. The next deals with the Oath. The main difference between the Oath as before the Cabinet and the Oath as in the Treaty is this. As before the Cabinet, the Oath read, "I ... do solemnly swear to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State and the community of nations known as the British Empire, and to the King as head of the State and of the Empire", instead of the form in which you have it in the Treaty. The next thing is in clause 5 where there is a small alteration. The Government had proposed that the Irish Free State shall contribute towards the British public debt and that was altered to the less objectionable phrase, "shall assume liability". In the following clause, clause 6, there is a slight improvement as to defences and ten years was reduced to five. The word "exclusively" which was objected to was cut out. A substantial alteration was made in clause 9 which does not exist in the Treaty at all. In the document before the Cabinet it provided that we could not impose any custom duties on the English goods or vice versa. We have to thank Mr. Barton for the fact that that was not included in the Treaty. In the following clause where you now have. "The ports of Great Britain and the Irish Free State shall be freely open to the ships of the other country on payment of the customary port and other dues", that clause was completely recast. As before the Cabinet it read, "Neither Great Britian nor the Irish Free State shall impose restrictions for protective purposes upon the flow of transport, trade and commerce between Great Britain and Ireland". That has been narrowed down so and the ports of each country shall be freely open to the other. Then we come to Ulster. In clause 11 which in the Treaty begins. "Until the expiration of one month from the passing of the Act of Parliament for the ratification of this instrument, the powers of the Parliament and the Government of the Irish Free State, etc.,". That clause as presented to the Cabinet was not one month but twelve months. There was a subsequent clause arranging for the possibility of the exercise of the Ulster veto for six months but the main alteration is this: as finally signed, instead of our not knowing for twelve months what the people of Belfast intended to do, they are cut down to one month from the ratification. The same applies to the following clauses. But the most important alteration of all is that in regard to what the English call safeguards for Ulster. In document presented to the Cabinet, instead of having a list of possible safeguards which Ulster cannot get unless we agree to them and which are mentioned as headings, you have in the document presented to the Cabinet detailed clauses setting out in full every safeguard that the English proposed and setting them out under the edicts of the British government as being what they consider we could reasonably give away to Ulster. You have a long clause about patronage, clause 15 I think, in the Treaty. It is only a list of headings. In the document before the Cabinet you had, "No export duties shall without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland be imposed on any manufactures of Northern Ireland". Then you have this, "That the organization and control of any part of the local military defence force which is raised or stationed in Northern Ireland shall be in the hands" I beg your pardon, that is not it. You have a very pernicious clause to this effect, "It shall be lawful for the Government of Northern Ireland to raise and maintain in addition to and for the purpose of the support of any police force raised by them a local militia, so however that the establishments thereof shall not exceed in size such proportion of the establishments of any local military defence force maintained by the Government of the Irish Free State as that which the population of Northern Ireland bears to the population of the rest of Ireland, and no part of any local defence force raised by the Government of the Irish Free State shall be stationed in Northern Ireland without the consent of the Government of Northern Ireland". In other words you are putting these people into a military position which would be surely dangerous to us, and putting them there with the edict of the British Government saying, "this is the right thing to do and this is the thing we are standing for". Now all that is changed into a suggestion of some military defence force which might be a safeguard. I am not sure whether I have already mentioned that they were to have a most extraordinary power over customs in Belfast, proposed by the British government, and to be set up by the British government as a condition of settlement if these terms were accepted by Ulster. They were to be given the right to collect all the customs coming into Belfast and to keep them until the end of the year. Then, if and when they agreed to do so, a balance was to be handed over to us. They might be good enough to hand it over. They require something like three millions over and above what they collect to run their district and this proposal of the British Government was giving them thirteen or fourteen millions. I mention these things because perhaps many of you know I am not enthusiastic about this Treaty although I am going to support it. But I do want the position to be put fairly before everybody. It is necessary that you should know that some of the most substantial concessions that were obtained were obtained at the last moment in the evening and afternoon of the day on which the Treaty was signed. These were matters on which these people refused to give in until the last moment which may prove that they were bluffing all along; but that is a matter of opinion. At all events some of these most substantial concessions came along at the last moment.
I am sure you will convey to the House that the draft document, or no part of it, was approved by the Cabinet at the meeting.
I do not for a moment mean to suggest the Cabinet accepted the English proposals. Far from it. In fact if you like to look at the notes you will see we all rejected them. I am not suggesting that the Cabinet accepted. The terms eventually signed were undoubtedly very much better in certain respects than the terms before the Cabinet.
I think the Dáil is entitled to know how far the Cabinet agreed with document 3.¹ 1. It would appear that Deputy Hogan was referring to the document printed in Appendix 10.
I suppose as chairman of the Cabinet it is my business to answer that question. I have here my own copy with my own markings on it. I ought first of all to say and I know the mind of the Cabinet that there was no chance whatever of the acceptance of this document. I had it before me and went through it as you would go through the text of any matter and pointed out the objectionable things as they went along and made suggestions as to the things that might possibly be accepted. I have number three marked showing that the representative of the Crown was one of the vital things that should be got rid of; otherwise it could not be accepted. Then again I have "Head of the State" marked. I pointed out the external association for which we are aiming would be inconsistent with having the King as the head of the state. We were willing to regard him as head of the association. We went through it pointing out these things and we all agreed these were impossible; so really there was no agreement of any kind except the document was unacceptable and we mentioned the particular points such as with regard to the Oath. It was a destructive criticism of the document. I pointed out the sort of oath you could and the oath you could not take. I pointed out I for one would be quite willing to swear some sort of an oath like this. It was simply an immediate an impromptu statement of the type of oath I would be willing to swear. I did it in order to point out the difference between the oath and the Oath you would have to swear to the King. We did not want the King as the monarch of Ireland; that was the main thing. Mr. Gavan Duffy was taking down my impromptu statement. I said the Oath as it stood would not do because it was dangerous and there was another interpretation to it. Now a definite answer to the question is that this document was, without discussion, rejected at the Cabinet meeting. I pointed out to the Cabinet the objectionable points. In an impromptu manner I stated the type of oath I was willing to take. There was destructive criticism of the document.
This Cabinet meeting was called to consider the document dated December 2nd. That was the document which the plenipotentiaries brought back and the Cabinet was to meet the plenipotentiaries and advise them on the document. Now this document professes to be what the plenipotentiaries thought was the advice and instruction which they got from the Cabinet on that occasion. That may be wrong but in order to make it more definite
Will you please definitely state the number and section of the document; we are perhaps talking about different documents.
I am dealing with the set of documents dated December 4th. It is headed, "Amendments by the Irish Representatives to the Proposed Articles of Agreement, December 4th."
That document professes to be at least the plenipotentiaries' idea of the advice which they got from the Cabinet at the meeting specially called to give them advice on a most critical occasion. It professes to be that at least. We are entitled to know here how far the Cabinet say that document is an accurate summary of the advice given to them, how far the President is prepared to stand by it and how far the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Defence are prepared to stand by it. Take paragraph 5, the Oath, "I do swear to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of Ireland and to the Treaty of Association of Ireland with the British Commonwealth of Nations and to recognise the King of Great Britain as Head of the Associated States". That was written down by one of the plenipotentiaries and is, I assume, what the plenipotentiaries agreed to as the nature of the oath that the Cabinet instructed them they were prepared to accept. That certainly is the plenipotentiaries' idea of it and President de Valera has very fairly stated that he verbally, across the table, made that suggestion himself and President de Valera is borne out by the Secretary's notes of the meeting.
To say it was a mere verbal suggestion carries us nowhere. The whole transactions were verbal. It was a verbal suggestion made at a Cabinet meeting held for the purpose of hearing suggestions made.
Did the Minister of Defence or the Minister of Home Affairs hear the suggestion? Did they object to it? Are they prepared to stand by it? It should be cleared up now (applause).
Will you please remember, to start with, that at the back of our minds in the Cabinet was that any documents that would be submitted to us we would go line by line through them and change them before we would agree with them. Now really a treaty is not a thing you would take down across a table.
On a point of order we can discuss afterwards the question of whether the plenipotentiaries were right in signing or not signing it before they came back
Let the President finish his statement.
I am speaking now so that you may understand the circumstances of the Cabinet meeting. First of all I got a document from Mr. Griffith which I said I will never sign. Mr. Griffith knew that. Therefore the document came before us at the Cabinet purely from the point of view of destructive criticism. But, as my mind is not the destructive but rather of the other type, I wanted to give an indication to the plenipotentiaries of the sort of thing you could do. The thing you could not do was to swear allegiance to the King as the monarch of Ireland; but you could promise to be faithful to your word and to the Treaty. I paraphrased the oath in the form that would be consistent with our position. I did so and I was not aware it was being taken down until I saw Mr. Gavan Duffy in the middle of it and I was not taking any care of my words. I did say something like this, "I do swear to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of Ireland" and so I would have said if I had got this before me "and be faithful to the treaty of association of Ireland with the commonwealth of nations". If we signed the Treaty we meant to be faithful and I would be faithful to it. I objected to the association of states the first time I saw it. There are two ways of looking at it. You can look at it as a collective or distributive noun. It is ambiguous. I would not object to the King as chairman or head of the association. As a matter of fact, to show you what I had in mind, I started trying to get some sort of oath. Here is the oath I refer to, "I, so and so, swear to obey the Constitution of Ireland and to keep faith with His Britannic Majesty, so and so, in respect of the treaty associating Ireland with the states of the British Commonwealth". I for one would be quite ready to swear that; if I thought it was right to enter the association I would be quite ready to swear it. I do hope you understand "S.F.C.29". That was the document before the Cabinet. The plenipotentiaries went back to London and, as a result of the destructive criticism and perhaps some of the verbal suggestions I made across the table, they tried to produce some document which I never saw. The Treaty was signed before I ever saw that document. Now you ask me to what extent is that a faithful representation of what transpired. I would have objected to that document as I would to the other one. The Oath itself I would not take it in that form. I would have amended it. As regards 1, 2 and 3, that I stand for them ought to be obvious from the document I put down before you already. About the other parts of it, these were only suggested, where other parts would be objected to. I do not know because I had never seen the document. I knew there were other articles which neither the Minister of Home Affairs not the Minister of Defence would ever agree to. As I have rejected it on other grounds the document had no significance except to get the negotiations farther.
One point is this, the delegation came over from London for a very definite, certain Cabinet meeting. We spent the whole day of Saturday at that meeting. I think we had to go back and to get the boat in the evening. If that is to be considered at this stage a casual thing, with the oath in paragraph five read out three times by the President he gave it out three times it is strange. Mr. Barton took the oath down twice and Mr. Duffy once. Then we had to go back and make up our minds. We had to put a document in writing and we could not alter it afterwards. We put in a document as being the united opinion of the delegation and as being what happened, as far as we could put into words, what happened at the Cabinet meeting. We have to stand by it now the same as any other document. We could perhaps say that did not represent now the oath we were prepared to take then but it is there on paper. If we were prepared to take it then we have to say we were prepared to take it then.
This is too important to allow of any ambiguity. The President says he is not prepared to take the Oath.
Because of the word
I do not want to make any point on words or make any debating point. I do not think he denies this oath is the oath he stated that day to the plenipotentiaries as his idea of the oath that should be taken. I would not make that point at all. It is important in its other implications. If he does not deny that was the oath he suggested across the table, I think it is quite clear if that was the oath and the Ministers of Home Affairs and Defence were present and heard it, I want to know did they ever repudiate it?
I want to try and get the Dáil to try and understand the circumstances. Do not on little points try to make difficulties. I want clearly to have it understood. They were responsible for initiation at the other side. The Cabinet meeting was called for one purpose, whether we would accept the Crown or not, and we said we would not. This document was before us for destructive criticism mainly. The plenipotentiaries were the people to make proposals not the Cabinet. The Cabinet was the final power before it came to the Dáil to criticise the proposals, and say whether they would accept them or not. This document was unacceptable on hundreds of grounds. One was sufficient for us. We were ready for external association, ready to recognise the King as head of a group of states and we wished to embody that in an oath. Neither myself nor the Ministers of Home Affairs and Defence ever saw that in writing and we could not say definitely. It was an attempt to show how the head of the state came in and how objectionable it was, "I do solemnly swear to bear etc." that would be alright, but as regards "community of nations" I never would swear to be faithful to that. That did not represent my view
You are reading out the wrong oath.
I am sorry. "I do swear to recognise the King of Great Britain as head of the associated states". That was the way I expressed it verbally meaning the association of states. Well now I am anxious merely that every member here should realise what happened at the Cabinet meeting. The delegation went back. I never knew I never saw the document until it came here. The Treaty was signed before I saw the document. There was a definite assurance at the Cabinet meeting there would be no question of signing the Treaty unless the Dáil got it back. Therefore I did not give, nor did the Cabinet give, any instructions to the delegation as to any final document which they were to put in.
I would ask you to read the documents very carefully. I have not the time to read them all. I read most of the documents but the one of December 4th I did not see at all. I have not the time to read all the documents you have got in your hands because I have a lot of business here which is very urgent dealing with my own department and with which I have to deal. It is more urgent so far as I am concerned than these documents. If there is anything in any of these documents from which it would seem that the Cabinet or any individual member let down the Republic, now is the time to take notice of it and ask questions. When it comes to the proper time I will explain my position pretty clearly and I will prove to everyone that the Republic was never let down by those who remained behind in any case by the three here anyway or even those who remained behind. I defy anyone to prove to the contrary. If they think they can when I have spoken let them prove it. With regard to the oath, I never agreed to take any oath and when the President made this suggestion of his own I said, "Nothing doing; there is going to be no unanimity on such an oath as that" (applause).
I too will be anxious to make it clear to the House the genesis of the document of December 4th and circumstances of the Cabinet meeting of that Saturday. You will remember that Mr. Lloyd George, as early as the week before, had written to Sir James Craig stating that "either the negotiations will have broken down by Tuesday next or I will have further proposals to make to your Government". The plenipotentiaries came home with the same final proposals from the Government and they met the Cabinet on Saturday. I do say these amendments put in by the plenipotentiaries after they went back were put in as representing the views of the Cabinet of the Dáil and that they do represent them and that the plenipotentiaries were certainly entitled to consider they represented them. The President stated a Governor-General was an insuperable obstacle as a representative of the Crown in Ireland. I remember a Cabinet meeting in October in Fitzwilliam Square. The plenipotentiaries were not present. I was present, the Ministers for Local Government, Home Affairs and Defence were present and I remember the President stating there that under the external association idea, his own scheme, there would almost certainly be a representative of the British Crown in Ireland.
I can contradict that at once.
It is absolutely false.
I said I considered it objectionable. No matter who this person might be he would be here with his little court and coterie and all the West-British element would rally around the court and it will have this effect: it may put on your higher social circles a distinctly English standard, and it may further be the centre of intrigue against the State, and a constant pull towards England (Hear, hear). The President said "Yes"; he saw all these objections and realised that, and no one would feel it more bitterly than he would if our higher social circles would take civilization and culture for all time from England. "But", he added, "what can you do?" The Minister for Defence made a statement and I for one was very surprised. He said he would not take the oath, or any oath, that there was "nothing doing". There was everything doing. He did stick to one point and that was the point of contribution to the Civil List. It savoured of tribute absolutely none on the question of the oath. I would say here I believe that any of these three men opposite would have taken an oath something as follows: "I do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State, to the Treaty of Association and to recognise the King of Gt. Britain of the Associated States" [sic].
I for one
For goodness' sake let us have this thing settled. This is a very vital matter. If a man tells me black is white if a man has such mentality I cannot persuade him to the contrary. It would be impossible. If a man says black is white, very well, let him think so. Let this gentleman show any document or any writing, secretary's notes or otherwise, to the effect that I ever consented to take any oath
A question has been asked.
Take the secretary's notes, page three. The President took his stand on the last Irish proposals which meant external association with the Crown. We will read the President's view "Meeting of Cabinet... In the course of a lengthy discussion of the Treaty the President gave it as his opinion that it could not be accepted in its then form. He personally could not subscribe to the Oath of Allegiance nor could he sign any document which would give N.E. Ulster power to vote itself out of the Irish State... "The Minister for Defence is in perfect agreement with the President, the only matter upon which he could disagree would be the question of recognising the King of England as head of the Associated States" (laughter). My impression
We are finished with your impressions so far as I am concerned.
On point of order I should like to ask the President whether he did not ask the Minister for Defence would he take the oath, whether the Minister for Defence said, "No", and the President said, "Surely Cathal you can't object to taking an oath if you agree to association."
I will explain this. I said in answer to that "Well, you may as well swear". Include the whole document, or what we agreed in the document, and that was not very much.
I withdraw my remarks in so far as they regard the Minister of Defence to say that they apply in full force to the Minister for Home Affairs.
Let me give a conversation I had with the President. I can't give you the date; it was some time previous to this and the President then deliberately told me what the oath was and he made diagrams on the table to show me what outside association meant.
On a point of order, we can't have a conversation. I object to it.
I wish to speak.
I object to that. We can't have a conversation (Chair, chair).
I don't know what all this is about at all. I personally refuse to
Countess Markievicz is in possession.
I made that statement because, as one of those people who was asked to stand down from the Cabinet to form a War Cabinet, I think [recte thought] that the question should be put to the President and the President told me a matter of some importance, because if I had at any moment not been certain that the President would have taken that stand. I would have created some trouble outside the Cabinet. That is why I consider, because of my position standing down from the Ministry, that I have a right to state why I remained quiet.
I suggest, as chairman of the committee which got these documents together, it was in the interests of some order in our proceedings that we got these documents together. We consulted everybody I think and we satisfied everybody with the documents we have got. If we are going to discuss anything more let it be something which is relevant to the documents and let us not take any account of expressions and of conversations which have no reference to the documents before us. Let us have a question relating to the documents, for my part as a private member who wants information. The recent discussion clears my mind on some points. If it goes on like that with people quoting from the documents before them we get some distance. If we depart from that we get nowhere.
I had no time to read the documents. I have only gone through four of them. It is a momentous thing for our country and we must know what is going to happen beyond what the President is going to say to us. We can't risk this thing. I have not a legal mind. Some have a prior knowledge of these documents on which to start a discussion. I want to get through them. I have here a document I am interested in where Lloyd George claimed he was let down and where the Chairman of the Delegation said he did not let him down. I want to go through them and I want time to discuss them.
The last speaker said he hadn't a legal mind. This is the first time I saw the documents. I was a member of the committee and I never laid eyes on one of them. I asked a question of President of the Cabinet and of the Ministers and I would ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to answer my question because I regard the question as most important, and for this reason I say that an attempt has been made here to show that the issue is on one side of the House as against the other side, is a Republic versus Dominion Home Rule, and I want to put the issue straight and know where everyone here stands and not to vote because I think so and so is on one side and so and so is on the other (applause).
I would prefer to wait until another violent and false attack is made on me as was made on the Minister of Defence. I have no hesitation in saying that, so far as I was concerned, I was perfectly in agreement with the President in his suggestion that we could frame a form of oath which would be honourable to the nation and preserve our independence and I certainly would be with him in the form of oath which he suggested.
May I ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether he agrees with the Cabinet record of the oath as read by President De Valera three times?
The oath was never seen by me in writing. I never took it down in writing and it was read out by the President. As read out by him I certainly approved of it and, what is more, I tried to convince the Minister for Defence that he ought to agree in order to give our people going over to London a chance of manoeuvering the British Cabinet; and, what is more, the suggestion made of the President going over was that the British Cabinet should be manoeuvered into a position of suggesting that form of oath.
Might I ask whether he agrees with the Cabinet record given by yourself to me in the presence of the Minister for Home Affairs that the words of the oath as given in the Cabinet record, December 3rd, page 3, paragraph B.
I have said before that my idea is what the President read out.
I did not read it out. I said it.
Spoke it or whatever it was; I know very well that he had nothing written about the thing. It is certainly not in accordance with my recollection. What happened was that he said that he would recognise the King of Gt. Britain as head of the association.
I was present at this Cabinet meeting and I was one of those who took down the President's words. As a matter of fact the President made two sketches of the oath; Mr. Gavan Duffy says three. I took down two. Unfortunately I have only one with me; but when I got back to London, with the assistance of Mr. Childers I drafted a formal oath from the oaths on the memoranda which I had taken down of the President's; and anything which is in that original draft, which I made with Mr. Childers alone without the collaboration of any other person, must have been in one or other of these statements which I took down from the President's own mouth; and the original which I wrote down and which Mr. Childers had typed had not been seen at that time by anyone, but Mr. Gavan Duffy had agreed with it and it was afterwards altered. I will read to you now the one which we made up from the two. The one which I have down here is this so far as I remember the President's words were something like these, "The oath will be something like this "
That is just it, "something like that".
"Allegiance to the Constitution of Ireland, association of Ireland with the community of nations". Now I have got "Com." I don't know whether that means a Commonwealth of Nations or a Community of Nations. I don't know. "Association of the 'Com' of nations and recognition of the head of that 'Com' ". Now the President gave another. My memory of it is that instead of a Community of Nations he said, "the head of that association" and after I got back to London I drafted this oath with Mr. Childers' assistance, "I do solemnly swear to bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of Ireland and to the Treaty of Association of Ireland with the British Commonwealth of Nations and I recognise King George V as head of that Association". Mr. Childers and I drafted that oath. Mr. Gavan Duffy came in later. He had been to Mass. We asked him whether he agreed with this and as far as I remember he said he did. We then met later, the other three members of the delegation coming in. There was some discussion then as to whether the oath should read, "Association" or "Associated States", and it was changed to "Associated States", but in my opinion the President said "Community of Nations" or "Commonwealth of Nations" or "Association" and nothing else.
Did he say, "King George V"?
He did not say King George V. I drafted that with Mr. Childers' assistance.
I never suggested King George V being in the oath.
He suggested the King. I don't know what King George is if he is not the King.
I rise to corroborate what Mr. Barton has just said. Exactly what he said has taken place. I have looked over my own records and have a typed copy which I gave the typist to type containing the word "Association" and not "Associated States". I myself did not attach any importance to the alteration because it never occured to my mind that there could be any real difference between the two phrases owing to the fact that the oath of course must follow the form of the political constitution of the country; and in that connection I would like to point rather an important omission from the secretary's notes bearing somehow on their reliability as a record of what took place, namely that at the end of the discussion on the oath I expressly raised the point myself as to whether scrapping the oath in the British draft meant scrapping of the first four clauses of the British draft, that is to say the clauses setting out Dominion status. The answer was that of course the oath did, all the clauses went and Dominion status was scrapped.
On a point of order there was a question asked about the oath not about a constitutional point. I am not a constitutional lawyer. Everyone knew that before I went away. Is my point of order conceded?
I don't want to carry it any further.
I couldn't limit the speakers in that way. They may make their points to bring them into touch with what their argument is. I can't rule out every point simply because it does not appear for the moment to be that under discussion.
You will see in the amendment of the Irish representatives to the proposed articles of agreement. You will see at the end of that oath occurs the word "Associated States". That is not the word Mr. Barton has said we brought away from the Cabinet meeting. The word was "Association". They must mean the same thing because obviously clause 1 of the amendment does away with the King of Ireland altogether. Consequently they are not giving an oath to him as King of Ireland.
I rise to move the closure of the debate and this particular matter for this reason that it is now perfectly clear that the only substantial difference between the people there present is as to whether the President used the words "Associated States" or "Association". That may be a vital matter. As far as I can make out the only reason of the difference is that some people may interpret "Associated States" distinctively. Now, is it worth while wasting the time of the House as to whether the President used the particular words "Associated States" or "Association" taken down by Mr. Barton?
May I make my statement?
I have not asked you to speak yet. It is almost 1.30 now. This portion of the Order of Procedure will end at 1.45, and with regard to the Order of Procedure what I would like to know would be what conclusion in what form is a conclusion to be reached arising out of the discussion that has been carried on today. It seems to me that the discussion, which is as I put it plainly to you an impeachment, is on the question of responsibility for various terms in the Treaty, to ascertain who is responsible for the various terms in the Treaty. When that is ascertained what is going to happen, if it can be ascertained? I doubt if it can be ascertained. It would take a very careful court of law to ascertain where the personal responsibility is in all these things and how far one person is responsible and how far another. Assuming that is ascertained I should like to know what is going to come from it.
I should like
May I say that a most important position has been reached.
Part of my office here is to direct the minds of the members to a practical conclusion. We are reaching no nearer that and, if we are going to reach a practical conclusion by the consideration of documents and the other questions, I think it should be embodied by one or other positive motions laid before us. It would be better for us completely to drop this part and come to the question of ratification or non-ratification.
I will make the whole thing clear in a few words. From the time I went into the negotiations I went out to make peace by negotiation if I could an honourable peace. I used the word in the terms of reference to the delegation, to find out the way in which Irish national aspirations could be reconciled with association with the British Commonwealth. You all knew that that was the purpose for which the delegation went across. Now I set myself the constructive task of trying to work out such an association in detail. We gave to the plenipotentiaries a rough draft of a treaty that was the basis of their proposals, the basis of their standpoint, and the British put forward proposals which from the first day were Dominion Home Rule proposals. All their line of action was dictated from that point of view, whereas, from our point of view we were trying to get the idea of external association with the British Commonwealth. That was the main objective. To get an association of that kind you had to give up no Republic because there is not a single line in these proposals that I have given you which is not consistent with a Republic. There is not a line of that Treaty that France might not make if it wanted to with Britain or that Spain might not make with Britain and therefore I say that from my standpoint I keep an absolute Republic as an existing fact in mind, a Republic ready to make an association outside. I was proposing, therefore, that the Republic in association [sic]. There are objections to a Republic in association, I don't deny; there are objections such as the United States would have to entering into a League of Nations, but if we were to get anywhere by negotiations we are to have some objective like that. One end of the Cabinet wanted an absolutely isolated Republic. My task was to try to get by negotiations something which would satisfy Britain, something which would satisfy what I may call the left wing of the Cabinet and something which would satisfy the right wing. Everyone of these documents will be found to be consistent with that statement and any assumption that this question is not a question between a Republic and Dominion Home Rule, you can judge that for yourselves. The issue you will find is that document of mine is a Republican document, a document of association. That was my position. The left wing of the Cabinet was for an isolated Republic for the most part but I pulled them over a bit. I pulled them along. I say in fact what happened, while I was pulling along that wing, the other wing got away from me, not that they were anxious to be pulled but pulled by threats of force and the danger of war. My statement might be accepted as inferring that they were anxious to be pulled. We know that every one of these wanted a Republic as much as I wanted it and everyone here wanted it and therefore what happened was that over there a threat of immediate force upon our people was made. I believe that that document was signed under duress and, though I have a moral feeling that any agreement entered into ought to be faithfully carried out, I have no hesitation in saying that I would not regard it as binding on the Irish nation. If it was to be put into force for one instant to weaken [sic] against ratification because it is giving away a moral basis.
Will you give me two or three minutes? I will ask the indulgence of this body to listen to what I have to say without interruption. I can forgive the five men who have landed us into the present position because I realised before ever they went there mind you I was against their ever going to England, I said this conference should be held in a neutral country I realised before ever they went there the terrible influence that would be brought to bear upon them. We have got the proof of that.
Where is it?
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman please, I must insist on this. It is for us to explain our mental condition in London, not for somebody else (Hear, hear).
Will you kindly listen to me without interruption and anybody who has any explanation to make can do so at the proper time. I have heard Mr. Lloyd George referred to as the "wizard from Wales" without properly understanding what was intended by it, but I have got a proof of his wizardry in what has happened within the last fortnight. We have the chairman of the delegation an honest man as I know him to be coming along the day before yesterday and telling us that this thing was freedom. I say that Mr. Lloyd George, who is the wizard, has cast a spell over the chairman of our delegation and has put him into such a stupor that he does not know the difference between this document and freedom. It is obvious no offence intended. We heard the Minister for Finance confess yesterday that he was in a fog
That is not so.
Well if our friends who are taking down notes refer to them and, if they have taken down all, the Minister of Finance yesterday confessed that he was in a fog. With regard to the third member of this delegation he has remained silent up to the present. He has not attempted to justify his action up to the present and therefore I will extend to him the charity of silence. With regard to the other two members, you have already seen Mr. Barton's notes and you know the intimidation which was resorted to to get his signature. You will get a statement from Mr. Gavan Duffy at the public session if not at the private session which will show the tactics they resorted to so far as he was concerned. I have said that I quite forgive them because I know the influences that were brought to bear upon them to get their signatures to this document, and I can even respect them, though God knows I realise how weak they be; but there is one thing that I can never forgive and I find it hard to forgive any man and I certainly will find it hard to respect a man who came into our meetings of the Cabinet and, so far as he thinks from a statement he made yesterday, so far as he thinks, the Cabinet let down or, as he said yesterday, gave away the Republic. The man who listened to that being done had taken an oath of allegiance to the Republic and he did not say a word against it. According to his statement yesterday the Cabinet gave away the Republic. Now the man who had taken an oath of allegiance to the Republic and who listened to that being done and did not protest against it because he thought it was being done I say I can well find it hard ever to forgive him and to respect him. In fact I will never respect that man until the fight starts again as I am afraid it has been made inevitable by what has taken place within the last fortnight. Prior to that from the way these people over in England were yielding to us, I was beginning to believe that we might come to an arrangement which would be satisfactory to everyone, to what may be called the most extreme people and I am supposed to be one of those myself that we could come to an arrangement without any fighting but I am afraid that this thing which has happened within the last fortnight makes a fight inevitable. However, I will respect this gentleman not that my respect will be of any value to him but I will respect him when the fight starts if he follows the lead that I will give him. Now I have a very clear conception of what the people who are called extreme people want and from the very start of those negotiations I took care that those people would not be let down, and I may tell you if we were not let down there were some suggestions which came along and it seemed to me that they bartered or were sailing close to the wind, anyway that they bordered upon the letting down of the Republic. I gave my opinion and I found that such was not intended. Now this gentleman who has made the statement yesterday that the Cabinet let down the Republic, I want to ask him before I speak again and I am going to make my position pretty clear in this matter to come along with his proofs. He has tried to prove, by the way he has made an attempt to-day already, to show that I agreed with this oath or any oath, and when I asked him to submit his proofs he had to withdraw what he said. Now let him prove by any document, any act, or even by the evidence of any friend of his who was present, that the Cabinet ever let down the Republic. The first attempt that was made to let down the Republic was this Treaty and I have said that I forgive him [recte them] knowing the circumstances which were responsible, knowing the influences that were brought to bear upon them, but the man upon whom no such influences were brought to bear I certainly cannot forgive him.
There was, I think, an understanding arrived at that we should avoid personalities as much as possible in this place.
There were statements made about me.
There has been a gross personal attack made here on one man. There has been most offensive statements made about members of this delegation. I say I do not need his forgiveness. I do not ask his forgiveness. I have done nothing that I have not a right to do and I have done nothing which I believe is inconsistent with the honour and interests of my country. I shall not ask or seek any man's forgiveness for the action which I took. An attempt has been made undoubtedly to represent the Cabinet as standing firm and immovable on the rock of the Irish Republic and to show that we were the people who went to London and let them down. Now the documents are before you. Base your judgement, not on what any man says, but on these documents (Hear, hear). That is what I ask you to do. In one document you find the form of oath given by the President. There is the oath. In the minutes of the 25th November, 1921, you will find the following formula was unanimously approved, "That Ireland shall recognise the British Crown for the purposes of the Association as symbol and accepted head of the combination of Associated States." That was the unanimous minute of the Cabinet recognising the British Crown and further a vote of an annual voluntary sum to the Civil List was unanimously approved. I stand on that document. If anyone wants to make the charge against us, who seek to put us before the country in the position of going away and deliberately giving up what they were standing on are not entitled to do that. I ask you simply to use your own estimate of the documents and don't allow personal statements either from ourselves or the other side.
We must settle this thing satisfactorily. Let there be no heat or as little heat in doing it and please God we will all come to the proper conclusion and be friends and put Mr. Lloyd George where he should be (Hear, hear). Now, there is no offence intended in what I am going to say in regard to the Minister of Finance now. Certain things happened, things only to be known later, to let everyone understand how things stand. Now the same gentleman to whom I have already referred when I was speaking a few minutes ago, the same gentleman to whom I referred already when I was speaking this morning, said that this matter regarding the vote of an annual voluntary sum to the Civil List was swallowed by the Minister of Defence. Now, I swallowed it eventually and I will show you how I did swallow it. The Minister of Finance came over one week-end and we had a Cabinet meeting on the Sunday and this suggestion of a voluntary sum to the Civil List, so far as my recollection goes, had been made in a memorandum submitted, if I mistake not, by Mr. Chartres. If I mistake not it was he who submitted it. Well, we discussed the matter, or rather the others present discussed it, and eventually I said, "It is not going to settle the matter; I don't believe we are going to settle it on that". And so far as I was concerned then I was finished with it. Now, the Minister for Finance misunderstood what I said. I have not the slightest intention of saying he deliberately misunderstood me because I don't believe he would do such a thing. What I say now can be corroborated. I did not agree. I said it would not settle the matter and there was no use discussing it then as far as I was concerned and it ended there. Then at the end of the same week, or the following week, the chairman of the delegation and the Minister for Finance came over and it was stated at the meeting we had then that a document agreeing to this had been handed in that morning or that they thought it would have been handed in that morning. They were not exactly certain. I pointed out that I had not agreed to that and eventually, after a discussion, the President put it to me, "Well, can we have unanimity or can we not? I put it down that it had been agreed to, with one dissenting. This means now that we have not unanimity in the Cabinet and the object all along in these negotiations was to have unanimity, to prevent a split as far as it could be done." It was under these circumstances I said, "Very well, if it has been handed in I am agreed", in order to preserve unity to the finish.
Mr. Speaker, I have risen a couple of times. One statement was made that I said I was in a fog. That statement is incorrect. What I did say was that I was constantly being befogged by constitutional and legal arguments on cases and points which I did not understand, which I do not now understand. With regard to this £100 payment I would ask the President one question, whether when I came back on the following week he did not agree with me that it was the impression that the Minister of Defence had agreed to this £100.
I can answer that both statements are correct. There is no incompatibility whatever between them. The point is, as I explained at a previous meeting, I had tried to get unanimity. My position was association because I did not see by negotiation any other way we could manage. Whenever I made a proposal consistent with this association, of course I had the Minister for Defence who would have nothing but an isolated Republic and he, like a number of others, could not conceive that you could have a Republic in association. In any case I had to pull him along in a case like that and he threw up his hands, but it is not right that he said, "I will take it and get done with the whole thing".
I am not going to stand much more of this and I don't believe the country will stand much more of it. I want, in the name of this Dáil, to tell those people who have come here to vindicate themselves that it is not their vindication we want at all. Let them wait for a month or six months and vindicate themselves. It can be done just as well then as now. Is the question of the vindication of persons? Is that the question that is going to go out to the nation from this Dáil because, if it is, you are going to rend the nation in two inevitably, if it is the vindication of persons. I am not going to be responsible for that. You go on with it, I will walk out. I won't be responsible for it and I will tell the people of Ireland my view about this thing, the vindication of persons. No matter how important that may be, no matter how important their honour is to themselves, no matter how necessary it may be in the future for them to vindicate themselves, this is going to go from here to the nation. It is going to split the nation inevitably and the man who carries it out from here, we ought to tell him here he is going out with the purpose in his mind of splitting the nation. I spoke about it yesterday to try and explain the position. I am going to say one word to explain it. I am an Irish Republican now and I am going to remain one. So are we all. Isn't that so? (applause). Yes, and there are no Dominion Home Rulers here, not one, and there is not going to be one (No), no matter what any person reads out of it. Isn't that unanimous? (applause). Very well then, aren't we wasting our time with a lot of nonsense? Well, if we are going to end this business respect for any man on either side is not going to lead me one inch further in this. I am perfectly certain you have heard enough of this and if you have not heard enough of this adjourn the whole thing for a month and adjourn this for a month.
You have started your statement with a question and it must be answered. The question is not the vindication of anybody here. The question is that all of your people, before it goes to the country at all, should understand exactly what has happened and if there is any possibility of misconception arising out of any statement in the document it should be settled here before we go to the country.
Let it be settled and let us come to some conclusion.
If we are to get back where I naturally agree with the Speaker of the House we are all Republicans and we shall be Republicans whether we accept or reject this Treaty (Question).
I must protest here as President against the Speaker of the House making a speech which is prejudicial to what is a most important question because he tried to make it a question of persons.
I leave the Chair then. Before I leave the Chair you will carry out your arrangements you have made already with regard to handing back those documents.
Sure, we haven't read them.
Before you leave the Chair may I try to say what I think is at the bottom of this discussion (No, no, adjourn).
The meeting then adjourned for luncheon at 2 o'clock.
On resuming after luncheon the Deputy Speaker took the Chair at 4.10 p.m.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I gather that the Deputies are to express their views freely on the general situation. The Whips have a number of names and I will call them in a certain order and I trust that there will be no interruptions and that when a speaker is on his feet he will be allowed to speak. When any Deputy takes exception to any remarks that may be made surely he can make a short note of it and speak afterwards. We cannot possibly get on if interruptions are to be flung across from one side of the room to the other.
Arising out of something that happened yesterday when the Minister of Finance was informed of something that had happened in his office the information was, I think, conveyed to the House by the Deputy for North Cork I have here the police report with regard to the happening and I think I ought to get liberty to read it. It is with regard to the raid on the office of the Minister for Finance.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I say here there is no objection to that being read.
The following is the report:
"ROBBERY AT DÁIL FINANCE OFFICE.
A Chara, I beg to report having in conjunction with the Deputy Director of Intelligence investigated the above robbery. From examination it is quite apparent that the person or persons who entered the office secured keys by some means or other, as from examination there appears to have been no force resorted to, as the doors and locks are not damaged in any way. So far as the staff reports that no documents were removed but a small portable safe which was in a secret recess in the room, and which, I believe contained ten or eleven hundred pounds is missing. It is suggested that it was taken away in a leather case, which is also missing from the office. It is said that the safe would have fitted in this case. Apparently the intruders were very well informed, as it would be very hard for a stranger going into the office to discover the recess, and as it was opened and manipulated without force being applied it would suggest that the intruders were very well acquainted with the office routine. We interrogated some charwomen and others who have access to the building but without any success. No member of the staff can throw any light on the affair. I am informed that the sum of money removed was in fifty pound notes and the banks have been instructed in the matter with a view to tracing the robbers. Numerous documents were strewn round the floor of the office and the drawers of one desk were forced open as if the intruders were looking for documents or money. We interviewed the contractor who supplied the lock; he states that originally he supplied six keys. So far only five of those keys can be accounted for and we have failed as yet to discover who received the sixth key. This man also states that it would be impossible to pick the lock or open it by any other? [sic] device other than the key made for the lock. The only conclusion we can come to is that the intruders had a key, or else that the office door was left open by one of the staff the previous night. The whole thing is a most mysterious affair, as the staff reports no documents were missing and it is an extraordinary thing that ordinary burglars would resort to entering an office of this description in search of valuables or money. The police are still pursuing investigations. I enclose notes of Deputy Director of Intelligence".
The notes of the Deputy Director of Intelligence read:
"The Yale lock was not forced. Entrance to office could only have been obtained by duplicate key or door was not locked when staff were leaving yesterday evening. The walls seemed to have been sounded as the paper in some places was torn off.
One open press was searched and the contents strewn about. The staff informed us that so far they have not discovered if any papers or correspondence is missing. The small safe which was kept in the recess was possibly taken away in a leather bag belonging to one of the staff. The drawers of the Cabinet desk were forced open and contents scattered. But O'Connor informed us that six keys are accounted for which are in the hands of the staff. We interviewed all the staff and they can throw no light on the matter."
That is the information that was asked for by the Deputy from North Cork last evening and now when it came to my hands I thought it better to give it.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
If any Deputy for North Cork or Minister for Finance wishes to speak they can do so.
The reports agree exactly with the views of the man in charge of the office, Mr. George McGrath, except I think they have got information with respect to the sixth key. Just now a report will be coming along about that.
Now my friends, as there are a number here who cannot speak Irish, I will try and repeat what I have said. I am glad that those papers were submitted to us today because in my humble opinion, and the common ordinary man is entitled to his opinion, your attitude and your actions here today will be judged by the man in the street. It is the man in the street who will pass judgment on you and not the logicians who are twisting words. In my humble opinion this document of President de Valera's is a far greater enemy of Republicanism in Ireland than the Treaty itself, because this document tries, as it says in the beginning, "to bring to an end the long and ruinous conflict between Gt. Britain and Ireland by a sure and lasting peace honourable to both nations." This document is trying to tie every man, woman and child in Ireland and to take them away from the Republican ideal. If the Treaty is passed tomorrow there will be a large minority in the country against it and that party will be the nucleus of a Republican Party. In this document it is proposed under clauses 5 and 7 to form a treaty with England, an offensive and defensive treaty, and if this country is to be invaded, say by the United States, we according to this document of President de Valera's are placing ourselves in the unfortunate position that Belgium was placed in during the late war. Now my friends, there is a great deal of talk of conscience in this. Every man is entitled to his own view in that matter and we here in this Chamber are supposed to represent the views of the people who sent us here, and if we back down from their views and give votes contrary to the feelings of the people how does our conscience stand after that? I think, Sir, that as an honourable man you (the President) ought to stand down and not to vote away the lives of the people of Ireland. I think you have a grave responsibility before you and every man of you. The delegates were sent across to England, they were placed in a very awkward position, and I think instead of pillorying them here now you ought to congratulate them on the magnificent fight that they made under the circumstances. Now there is talk of reality and shadow-chasing. This document of President de Valera's is like looking for a bit of glow in the rainbow, but when you look for the rainbow you won't find the glow.
Is mairg a bhíonn go hole agus a bhíonn bocht na dhiaidh. And does any man say here that if you put this document of President de Valera's before the people of England it would be accepted in its entirety? I say there is not a man, woman or child who would believe you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I would like to remind you to speak as short as possible. I don't like to restrict time but as there are a great many Deputies who probably wish to speak it would be well if each Deputy would speak as briefly as possible.
I am in rather a difficulty in rising to speak now and I thought in view of the indefinite state we left the discussion this morning that we would have to consider the documents which were placed before us and to see how far they were relevant to the matter under discussion. If I tried to deal with that issue now I must necessarily restrict myself and the time of the other delegates in dealing with the Treaty itself, but since the delegate or the Deputy from Galway who has just sat down has made a reference to this document it might be no harm if I tried to place the discussion which has opened very informally and so inert and so inadequate, upon something like a proper basis in regard to those documents. Those documents are very relevant and very pertinent to this issue. They are relevant, are pertinent to it in this way, because it is those documents that are to determine whether the Cabinet of the Dáil, irrespective of what the Dáil itself may do and I hope if the Dáil Cabinet were to go wrong in this matter that there would be still left in this Assembly sufficient intelligence and strength of character to reject that Treaty upon grounds which I hope in time to have an opportunity of placing before you. These documents I say are relevant to this issue, whether the Cabinet is bound to honour the signature of the delegates or plenipotentiaries, to give them their proper title. There are those documents. Out of the mass of documents there are three that are pertinent to the discussion. First of all there is the fundamental document a document from which all the delegates' actions and powers issue the copy of the instructions to the plenipotentiaries. And the most important clause in that document is clause 3 of it which says, "It is also understood that the completed text of the draft treaty about to be signed will be similarly submitted to Dublin and reply awaited." Now, Sir, that was not done and I think it has never been held by any person in this Assembly that the complete final draft of the Treaty was submitted to the Dáil Cabinet. There may have been a semi-final draft, but what is here nominated in that form is the final draft and that was not submitted. When it was not submitted the Cabinet cannot be in honour bound to honour the signature of the delegation. They may not be bound in the letter some might say, but it might possibly happen that they might be bound in the spirit and if they were I should say that in order to secure unanimity in this Dáil it might be a good thing for the Cabinet to consider whether they might not adopt the Treaty. But there are two other documents which we have to weigh and consider in order to decide how we shall stand upon that question. The first of these documents are the records of the secretary of the Cabinet. Those records may be a fair record but I ask you to remember this that they are necessarily not records. There is not one member of the Cabinet who has pledged himself by his signature that these are absolutely and exactly accurate minutes of what happened at these meetings. The great point that has been made is in regard to a certain oath. In connection with that oath I ask you also to consider the memorandum which was prepared, I believe, by the Minister of Economic Affairs at the instance of the chairman of the delegation. That memorandum purports I believe and I am subject to correction if I have gathered a wrong impression to express as definitely as it is possible to express it the collective impression of the delegation as to what were the views of the Cabinet upon the proposals that have been set before them what were the views of the Cabinet as to the proposals which they wished to be laid before the British plenipotentiaries. Now, Sir, there is here in this document an oath which appears in exactly the same form to that which was recorded in the secretary's minutes and we have already heard that that oath is included in the document which is entitled, "Amendments by the Irish Representatives to the Proposed Articles of Agreement." The oath as included in that document is only one of three drafts which were if you like not exactly laid before the Cabinet but, if they were laid, certainly not discussed and accepted as the final and considered views of the Cabinet upon the matter. But that oath appeared as part and parcel of other essential conditions, other essential clauses, which qualify every word of that oath, and that oath must be taken in context with that and cannot be taken apart and considered apart from that. Those, Sir, represent, I dare say, represent the view of that what has transpired today of one section of the delegation as to what were the Cabinet's views upon the matter; the draft treaty represents the views of the other section of the delegation as to what were the Cabinet's views upon the matter. Now, Sir, in so serious a matter as this and particularly in view of this written instruction which governed every action, I of [sic] the delegation itself was not unanimous in its view as to what were the decisions of the Cabinet that Saturday afternoon. And I say that lacking that unanimity of impression they are not entitled now and mark my words to sign any treaty, much less to come back here and demand as a right that the Cabinet of the Dáil should accept it. I don't say that in the very, very difficult position in which they were placed they had not certain rights. They had the right to exercise their own discretion. They had the right to append their signature to that document upon their own responsibility but then they had a right the only right they have in the House as I contended first to come back and submit it here before the Dáil not as the instrument of the Cabinet, not as an instrument which the Cabinet is bound in honour to accept, but as an instrument which the Cabinet may consider and reject and would ask this House to reject if it so thinks fit. Now, Sir, I am afraid I shall have to deal a little longer in view of the fact that I have to try to deal with this document, and I will have to take up a little more of the time of this Assembly than I wish today, but I am going, if I may here in private, to give you the reasons why I am against this Treaty. I do not wish that anything I should say should hurt anyone here. I may say hard things about the Treaty but I do not wish and I could not if I did to say one hard thing about those who have signed it because it is not in my power to say it. In this matter every man must be a conscience unto himself and every man must act true to the truth as he sees it, but I say this, that everything connected with this Treaty shows that the delegates were hurried to the signing of it. In the short space of about 17 hours it was conceived, adjusted, written and signed. They were sleepless, travel-worn and care-worn men. Whatever the consequences of this Treaty and I believe they will be very consequences [sic] indeed the verdict of the future, when the extenuating facts are known, will indemnify the delegates, but as regards ourselves it is a very, very different case. We have time to consider. We have had time to take counsel. What we do now we do after grave and weighty deliberation and, from the consequences of our act, for us there will be no relief. I cannot think, I cannot believe, that when such consideration as that is placed before you men who have by their devotion, by their suffering, by their valour, honoured by a glorious place in our country's history I cannot believe that when such consideration as that is laid before them, that they will not weigh carefully every word of that document, search every clause, examine every clause and when honour and expediency conflict let honour triumph and thus remain steadfast and true for ever, the dauntless guardians of this nation's soil. It happened that last night, stung by a reference which the Assistant Minister for Local Government made to our President, I interjected, in the course of a very cutting and incisive speech, which, if he will permit me to say, made me think that the mantle of a distinguished relative of his who has played his part in Irish history
On a point of personal explanation, I am not a relative of Mr. Healy's.
This has nothing whatever to do with the matter before the House.
I only wish
I was not alive when Mr. Healy married my aunt.
If you will permit me in the best of good humour to say so, I must say that I am very very sorry that he was not alive when Mr. Healy married his aunt, otherwise he might not be here now. However, as I was going to say, stung by a reference which the Assistant Minister for Local Government made to our President I interjected a remark. That remark I freely admit was in the very worst of bad taste. I know it had absolutely no relevance to any gentleman here. I don't believe that [of] any member of this Dáil, and I wish therefore most sincerely to express regret and to apologise for it. But Sir, when I made that remark and perhaps it was a fitting punishment for me the member who was speaking spat out one word, "reminiscences". And some members here thought themselves fit to take it up and cast it in my face. Well that word did awaken recollections in my mind. I remember some years ago, when a rash and impulsive boy, I applied for a commission in the British army. There are other men who held that commission who thought they were doing the best for Ireland. Something, however, made me withdraw my application. It was afterwards produced at my courtmartial and it was one of the most damning testimonies they brought against me because the construction placed on it was that I applied for it in order to be a spy in the ranks.
We are not trying Mr. MacEntee for anything he did for the last 20 years.
I am afraid he is wandering from the point.
If you will permit me to develop this in my own way. If a man is insulted to his face may he not have the right of reply? Is there one here who will take the same attitude towards me? Sir, something happened to change my course. I therefore threw myself into the Volunteers and I served very loyally there. There is a Deputy in this House who will tell you that with his brother I worked day and night in that corps. When a certain document was published countermanding mobilisation for the King [recte Rising] I rode from Dundalk to Dublin and saw the first President of the Irish Republic, received his orders and left Dublin at five minutes past twelve on Easter Monday, got to my men three miles from Dundalk and brought them out. And when our petrol ran out my men got through the enemy's lines, got into Earl Street, into the Post Office, left the Post Office under the order
On a point of order. If we are going to have the history of the action of every man since 1916 we will be here until tomorrow morning.
I say it is relevant and I will show you the relevancy in a moment. I change my course and find myself inside the enemy's lines in Dublin
I fear I cannot allow the Deputy to continue in that strain. It has nothing to do with the subject.
It has. I tell you it has.
Is it the wish of the House that he continue?
If some people will not have enough patience to hear me speak for the first time really on this question, well then it is not worth while considering the position of the country at all. I left that Post Office under the O'Rahilly's orders. I was second last in the file entering Moore Street. I rallied my men there, put a house into a position of defence and prepared to stand then, as I am prepared to stand now, for the cause of Ireland and the Republic. That was a significant change in the space of six years, and when the word "reminiscences" is spitten at me memories like that rise up to me and make me say, "Well no man can say that I am not worthy to be a member of this Dáil and to speak in this matter and put my views before you." Now I said I would show you the relevancy of this matter later. What was it changed me about 1914? It was simply this, that Redmond in 1914 asked us to join an Irish Brigade in order that we might secure the unity of our country. When it was apparent that Redmond was about to be betrayed and that England was going through with its policy of Partition, seeing that touchstone of national unity, much nobler men, greater men, inspired me. I saw where my duty lay and, as I decided upon John Redmond's policy by this touchstone of the national unity, so I test and condemn Mr. Griffith's policy now. There are two problems with which those who try to serve their country are always faced. The first and the transcendental problem if you like is how to secure her national independence, but there is another, and I have held always that it comes first in point of time, and that is how to secure her national union. Men may differ from me that it is not a question of principle at all but a question of expediency. I, Sir, contend that you will never have by the very fact of it an independent nation until you have secured a united nation upon honourable terms. It was said the other day yesterday by a very eminent member of the House that he was an opportunist. So am I an opportunist who tries to serve his principles and to seize opportunities to serve and not to subvert his principles. I saw in this conference an opportunity not to secure a Republic, or even to secure Home Rule, but an opportunity to secure the union of the Irish nation. I was a strong supporter of the conference from the first. I said many things about the conference but no one can say I ever said I would accept anything from that conference that did not bring Irish union. That was to be my test. I would not have taken the oath of allegiance to the Assembly to act otherwise. They say they did support it in order to obtain Irish union. I said I would never sit in an Assembly based on that conference if it entailed an oath of allegiance to the English King, and this conference and these proposals have secured neither Irish independence nor Irish union. So far from securing independence if it lies in the hearts of men in this generation to make this glorious achievement impossible
He is speaking on the main line of the Treaty and we will be getting confused now on the genesis of the Treaty and then on the Treaty itself. If this is to continue we will be here for a fortnight.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I understood that private members were to express their views on the general situation.
I am against the proposal because I believe article 12 of the Treaty, so far from securing Irish union, makes it for ever impossible to obtain it. There are many grounds on which I might base an objection but I refer you to a speech of the Prime Minister of England on Wednesday afternoon. In that he said, in reference to article 12, that they considered and that the friends of Ulster thought it desirable that if Ulster was to remain a separate unit it was desirable that some alteration should be made in her boundaries, and he went on to define what in his view the alteration should be. He said it would be to remove from under her jurisdiction certain people and districts over which the Government of Northern Ireland can never rule and substitute for them certain other districts, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. That is what is meant to Ulster delegates certain other districts over which a new Order in Parliament can be made effective and which will give to the Northern Parliament a population which is essential in order that here should be planted or established in Ireland a second race and people who will be the inveterate and relentless enemy of the indigenous nation. I heard the remark. "Nonsense". Let him who made that remark refer to the debates in the House of Commons and he will see plainly stated in article 12, if it is accepted by this nation, can be done in the spirit of the man who is forcing the Treaty on us and can also force his interpretation on us. If that is to be interpreted in Lloyd George's spirit, and it will be so interpreted, we are going to erect in Ulster, and we are going to give to the Ulster people the title deeds for a fortress of Orangeism and Unionism that will hold Ireland for England as surely as Gibraltar holds the Mediterranean for them. And that is my great objection to this Treaty. I ask you to consider and weigh it. We have been told in this House that there is a certain element which was not represented here. The eminent gentleman who occupied the Chair had taken that as his especial charge. I wish to speak of the same elements but with a closer intimacy with their real views on this matter. I was born and lived in Belfast until six months ago. Do the people of Belfast and those six counties know the real object and purpose of this Treaty? I don't say, mind you, that it is the purpose of the chairman of the delegation, but it is the purpose of the men who fashioned this Treaty and wrote the draft of it, the English Prime Minister, that man who said they could not deal with the Irish situation until Ireland was faced with the accomplished rights of Ulster, and that man who kept this country in a swelter of blood and suffering for the last eighteen months, when long ago public opinion in England was ripe for a settlement, in order that he might set up an Ulster fortress. That, Treaty or no Treaty, is going to bind Ireland to England forever. I speak for the people near Belfast and if they knew the inwardness of that Treaty, no matter what you in Ireland would do, there would come from them a cry that you might save them. Reject the Treaty for ever, not to save the people of Belfast, but your own country which will be destroyed if this Treaty is honoured by you.
I rise as due in public opinion in support of the Treaty, and I wish to explain in the first instance my personal position. It seems to me that you have come to this in this Assembly that we must all explain our personal position. I deny here that in a public interview which I gave to the press I I praised the terms. I defined the issue and by that I stand. The circumstances under which I got the outline are quite simple. I had not the draft Treaty before me. I got it from a newspaper office. I made no comment and gave no consideration to the three or four first parts of the Treaty as outlined to me but when it came to the point that the British forces were to be withdrawn from this country within a short time I said to the man who asked for my views, "I will give you my views now." Apart from all walls of words about states or international situations or interpretations in the minds of English or Irish delegates or the Cabinet or the Dáil the concrete fact in my mind is that for 750 years there have been armed forces holding this country, and if they get out, as I said to myself, I don't mind saying it in the Dáil, in vulgar words, "the English can go to hell." I want to say also, as our personal positions are challenged, that I hold the same opinions now as since I was about four years of age.
You must be childish.
I don't know whether, in my childish imagination, in building sand castles I always had Finn MacCool driving the English out of Ireland. When I said that in an outline of what would be the effects of this Treaty was the fact of coming to an agreement that the English armed forces would get out of this country, I said that is the idea we have been looking for. Further, and I find now particularly in the last three or four days that I was living in a fools' paradise. I understood always that the people were our masters and I understood in my ignorance that the Dáil were the masters of the Cabinet, that they are the Government of this country, and with that idea in my mind I considered that what was brought before us in Dáil meetings in the last session, and in the session prior [to] that particularly, were the instructions which we as a body were giving to our plenipotentiaries who went to London. I knew of no divisions in the Cabinet or of what I held to be the Government of the country. All I knew is what this Dáil, looking at it as the sovereign Assembly of the nation, has instructed our delegates to accept. Had a thunderbolt from heaven fallen at my feet I could not have been more surprised than when I read the statement of President de Valera last week in the papers. I can understand the attitude adopted by Miss MacSwiney and Mr. MacDonagh in cavilling at or controverting anything that the delegates did, because those two Deputies at the last session of the Dáil and the session prior to that wanted the hands of the plenipotentiaries tied. All the rest of us in this Dáil accepted what was put before us by the united Cabinet and I presume it was united then. We accepted the idea definitely and it was put to a vote that the plenipotentiaries be given a free hand in the negotiations. I myself in fact was responsible at the session prior to the last session for putting that to the Dáil and I did so having the greatest confidence in the Cabinet of the Dáil. The President asked that the motion I put be accepted as a vote of confidence in or censure on the Cabinet, and he stated that the Cabinet, though elected only that morning, would resign if the motion was not carried. The motion was quite clear in my own mind and, as I thought, in accordance with what the President and the Cabinet wanted, namely, that the delegates or plenipotentiaries should go over to treat with the English and do the best they could under the circumstances in which they were placed. I hold therefore that this Dáil gave in that motion, and subsequently when the point was raised, the instructions to the delegates. What was done by the Cabinet, whether it split or did not split, whether one man had one view and another man had another view, is in my view quite irrelevant to this issue; it is nothing to us in the Dáil, as ordinary representatives in the country, all this thing which has gone on during the past three days, what these men say or think, or what letters were sent or were not sent. We sent our plenipotentiaries with certain instructions from the Dáil on very general lines and we must accept the consequences ourselves. The private session went on last evening and for an entirely different purpose. No matter what disagreements of opinion are here, if the Cabinet of the Dáil is to regard itself and I speak of it as the one body who is to regard itself as the Government of this country it should take immediate steps now to govern the country. What I refer to is this. We are passing through a crisis. We were plunged and the public were plunged at once, they thought, into wild differences of opinion which I, even now after three days' whirl of words, I don't understand. The Government of the country is being plunged at present into wild whirling statements which are leading to acts, and unless we have some authority in this country, some direction from the Cabinet, which in our view stands as the Government of the country, this country, whether we ratify or reject the Treaty, is going to be plunged into chaos. And I ask, in order to get rid of that, at this private session which will not be stated at the public one I ask and appeal, if the appeal of a private member is of any importance, now to the members of the Cabinet as a body to take steps. Even now to try and in some way reassure the public mind so that the Republican party at least although other parties in the country may do and armed forces may not be split into two fractions. I should have thought it would have been their duty to do that first before presenting us here with this Treaty. Now, Mr. Speaker and members of the Dáil, we look at this as the Parliament. That has been our attitude. In the circumstances of the country in the last few years it was a justifiable attitude when we were fighting the English. But I should also like to remind the members of the Assembly that there is no assembly in the world, and I don't suppose there ever has been, composed simply of one party and I maintain that this Assembly is still composed of only one party and that is the Republican Party of Ireland. If we are divided because of our opinions on this Treaty with England it is not so much the country you are dividing, it is the Republican Party of Ireland that you are dividing. There are different sections and different parties in this country still. We are failing to realise that there are still what used to be termed constitutionalists and unionists and we are failing to realise that there are labour elements in the country, that this is still a nation with its different parties and different sets of ideas. If we split into different opinions on the Treaty it is not so much perhaps the country in that sense as the Republican Party in Ireland. Every man in this Assembly has a dual capacity; he has personal ideas and opinions and ideals and wants to try and square what we are presented with with those ideas and opinions. If that were the only consideration we could divide quite easily, I should think, because I believe, having still faith in the declarations we have made, that every man is honest and that we have all only one opinion. But the more paramount interest is not our own personal prejudices or ideas and personal principles. The paramount interest is what are we going to do for the people who sent us here. Some of us who stood at the 1918 election stood against other parties and by a majority of votes were elected, and it is in the interest of the people that elected me that I am concerned with and not with my own personal ideas or that I said one thing at one time and another thing at another time. I know their feelings and views on the Treaty as it appeared. They may be wrong feelings and views because as I see now they did not have the full facts before them. But before we come to an actual decision on this Treaty in public or private I should like to impress on every member of the Dáil who is not already prejudiced I am not using the word "prejudice" as any term of reproach but perhaps it would be better to use the term "leaning on one side" what I should like to impress on each member is that the paramount interests on which we must decide the question are the interests of the people, the interests of the majority of the people. You can have no order in the country if you don't have democratic rule, that the majority rule must prevail, otherwise you have chaos in every country. You will have chaos unless you have in every country some kind of rule to apply and the rule of balance should be the rule of the majority and it should be the object to consider only the people; and it is the interests of the poor, the weak and the lowly of the people who have been crushed down that I consider first and not my own ideas, prejudices and biases. What I fear most, and that is why I ask as a humble member that the Cabinet to whom we have looked for guidance in the affairs of this country should consider some method of preventing what we shall term a split. What I have most at heart is this, that we should not be put in the position, whether we accept or reject the Treaty, that the Republican Party and the other parties and the people should be put fighting amongst themselves with armed Orangemen in the north who would care to take advantage of that, or with armed, as we used to say, Bolshevists trying to take advantage, and with the English as good lookers-on trying to defeat each separately that they might defeat us all by and by. These things are of some consideration for the Cabinet of this country; and the Dáil, whether a letter was written one day or another or whether this was interpreted this way or the other, should as one stand independent between one side of the Cabinet and the other. I say the Cabinet was wanting in its duty to the Dáil and to the country when it did not consider those things before the plenipotentiaries were sent as to what would be the consequences either of acceptance or rejection or of a break over in London itself, and I think it may not be too late yet for them to consider the consequences whether we accept or reject, because as I have said the paramount interests for them as here should be consideration for the whole people of the country and not points of phrases and words. We came up here from the country, many of us, many like myself, knowing nothing of differences in the Cabinet we came and in the first public session we were plunged into a whirl of words which was not to the honour of the Dáil or the Cabinet as a body, or of the whole people, that we should be presented the very first day in the public press as such a disorganised and disordered body no rule of procedure, no ordered debate, words bandied across tables and things like that before the people of Ireland and the world. These things should have been considered beforehand. We came prepared to discuss the Treaty on its merits, at least I did, and instead of that, for three days, first in public and afterwards in private, we have not been discussing this Treaty at all; we have been hearing opinions and views privately. It might have been well for the Dáil and for the country had we heard all the private views previously. We hear them now for the first time. Those are not the relevant questions. The good order and government of this country through any crisis whether we are faced with the English forces in the country ready to fight again or with the clearing out of the English forces in this country, and perhaps our own people ready to fight among one another, that is the relative [recte relevant] question, and the other relative [recte relevant] question which I presume will be placed before us tomorrow is the acceptance or rejection of the Treaty.
I wish to state in the first place the attitude I take between the Treaty and the document put in by President de Valera. To begin with the Treaty, I shall not say much about it but I want to say a word first because I cannot discuss the other without mentioning it. When I saw the first copy of the Treaty it came to me like a bolt from the blue. I had no more expected that the plenipotentiaries would have agreed to the Oath of Allegiance to the King of England than that I should have agreed to it myself. I believed too that going as they did as envoys from the Irish Republic such a thing would have been impossible for them to agree to without ratification of it on the larger scale ratification from the country. That is where I take my stand as to that document taking it as a whole, and that is precisely where I will have to consider President de Valera's document. I am a Republican, I won't say a die-hard, I say an undying Republican, and to me, in that Treaty, you absolutely and deliberately by swearing an oath to the King of England, put the Republic behind you. You, as it were, pledge yourself to an authority other than the Irish Republic. In the document that the President puts forward there are many disagreeable things but there is no giving up of the Republican position. As a Republic you can make treaties, and [are] in a position where it is quite fair to discuss beforehand the sort of treaty you are to make with England, a sort of limitation of sovereignty of Ireland, to discuss such bitter pills as Spain had to discuss when she gave up Gibraltar to the English. We in such a way ought to discuss the giving up of our ports and other things to England. But that is a totally different thing from swearing an oath of fealty to the English King and I say again that will never do. I will swallow any humiliation but I will not do a thing which I would consider dishonest, first, before God and my own soul and, secondly, before the men who died for Ireland in all the generations and, thirdly, to my constituency in St. Patrick's and the poor and the humble. They are nearly all poor now and each one has said to me, "You will be true to the Republic." I have expressed my opinion without going into details of the two documents why I could consider that of the President and could not consider that of the delegation. I am not making any personal allusion to anyone in Ireland and I wish to say that I hope that the end of this long disagreement in which we have all taken part will be that we can all work together for the good of Ireland. I hope the delegates will realise that, while I disagree with them, I understand and can sympathise with them, for they did their best in a difficult position to do what they thought right for Ireland, and that I will not try to do anything mean or underhand in my attitude, that I will put aside everything but principle in trying to work with them whichever way the matter goes and, while I express loyalty to President de Valera as President of the Irish Republic by which I stand, I can only hope that they on their side will exercise some leniency towards Ireland. If we don't get now some compromise, some loyal pledge that we can stand all together in the name of the dead and of Ireland, we shall break up all that has been done, ruin the cause for which so many have risked their lives, for which our men died and were tortured, and I appeal to the Dáil, let us clean our dirty linen in private, and if not get to the bottom of things, try to get into some position from which we can fight the enemy. I have stated my position and I hope we will be able to do the best we can for Ireland, to work for Ireland together, being loyal to the points of view that God has given us. I ask you to be quite loyal and true to what you believe is right and if we do that I think we shall throw the enemy out of our country. I shall have more to say on the Treaty tomorrow, but this is not the time to say it.
I may say at the outset that I admired very much the sentiments expressed by the last speaker and I compliment her on the effort she is making to secure a united effort by the representatives of Ireland to secure the country against a split or against the consequences of a split in Dáil Éireann. My opinion, my views always were Republican. I always had the greatest faith in the leaders and the members individually and collectively in the Cabinet, the men we entrusted with carrying out this fight to success. Until today I had some doubt in my mind as to what the issues really were. A good many of us thought that on one side were the people for ratification of this Treaty and that on the other were the uncompromising Republicans. I may say that on reading some documents submitted to us today I am completely disillusioned. Now I know what most of you in the Dáil know, that the people who are honestly and sincerely out for accepting the goods as delivered by Lloyd George are on one side and on the other side are a number of people, a number of Teachtaí including Madame Markievicz. The great majority possibly [are] people honestly and sincerely devoted to the ideal of an Irish Republic and are going to be consistent in pursuit of that ideal to the very end. I admire these people and none of the people who are in agreement with me or have the same views as I have on this Treaty have anything else but sincere admiration for them. Another part of the opposition is made up of people who accept President de Valera's alternative scheme. There is no use in describing that scheme and telling the intelligent people that he represents that if it is realised that it is a Republic. I deny emphatically that any state in which the legislature or members of the legislature or members of the Cabinet or of the Government have to swear allegiance to a foreign potentate or monarch is by any stretch of the imagination or could by any stretch of the imagination be described as a Republic. My views as I say were, I don't think, properly made up until I saw this document but now I think that it is up to us to face the facts as they are, and my decision is, I have taken it now, is that I shall vote for the acceptance of the Treaty, and I do it for these reasons. Before I go on to the Treaty I must explain my position. I regard myself still, and even after I vote for this Treaty, as a Republican and an uncompromising Republican. I may be inconsistent by voting for it or in taking the Oath but I am not sacrificing my principle and I refuse to concede to anyone who says that I am giving up the ideal of a Republic. I refuse to concede it. I don't agree with anyone who says that by voting for the acceptance of this Treaty that it compromises in any way the chances of Ireland ultimately securing a Republic. As regards my views on the question of the delegation and their action in London my views are these, that Dáil Éireann gave these people the instructions when they voted on the motion, that Dáil Éireann entrusted these people with full powers as plenipotentiaries when they sanctioned their appointment and sent them across to negotiate with Lloyd George. Everyone present at that Dáil meeting clearly understood what that meant and no one put the question as clearly and forcibly as the President himself when he said that he himself would face the country on the proposals these delegates brought back from London, that he would take responsibility for putting them himself before the country. There is a lot of talk about the question of whether the delegates exceeded their instructions. These delegates were in a very difficult position. There is a tide in the affairs of nations as in the affairs of men which when taken at flood time often results in a great advantage to the country.
It takes you out to sea sometimes.
I say there are some courageous men with minds of their own and I admire them because they have the courage and genius to seize this opportunity, because they secured a number of vital concessions by affixing their names to the Treaty at that moment.
Damn your concessions, we want our country.
On the question of whether there was morality or otherwise in following the instructions given to them by the President, as men that we entrusted I think they had a perfect right to affix their signatures even despite the instruction given them by the President. There is a famous occasion on which a British admiral gave instructions to his commander of a second fleet to withdraw from the battle. We know that the admiral of this second fleet, when he saw the signal to retire from the fight, turned his blind eye to the signal and went into the battle and won it and saved the British Empire. These men were in something the same position as this commander of the second fleet and though he acted despite the order of the admiral and contrary to instructions, the commander was right. In the same way history will justify the action of these men in taking the tide, as I call it, at its flood. I will come to the matter of the Treaty. With regard to Mr. Childers' comment on President de Valera's alternative scheme, he spoke about guarantees. I think we have guarantees under this arrangement which are much more substantial than any guarantees under the alternative arrangement. Here are three guarantees I think any of us can accept. One is a British colonial conference. He asked what people were to arbitrate in case of a dispute regarding the reading of the terms of this Treaty. There are three courts of appeal you could have recourse to. One is the British colonial conference which for the sake of their own interests and not to jeopardise their own position will be always on the side of Ireland wherever Ireland's rights are questioned by England. The second is the League of Nations and we have the assurance from Mr. Lloyd George given to Mr. Griffith that Ireland will be admitted to the League of Nations. In any case by her position and status in the British Empire she is entitled to that beyond yea or nay without recommendation from Mr. Lloyd George. Immediately she enters the League of Nations she secures unquestionably international status which will permit of all differences between Ireland and Gt. Britain being referred to an international court. Thirdly, we have the most effective and reliable guarantee of all, and that is the army which is going to take possession of this country when the British forces leave in a month's time. I am not a great admirer of the Treaty but the one thing which has brought conviction to me and has appealed to me is the fact of the Free State of Ireland passing over into the control of the armed forces of the Irish Free State into the armed forces of Ireland. Mr. Childers referred to the use of one word which I have no doubt about for myself in this Assembly. The word was that when speaking about a peaceful nation he used the word, "Never". I say that a famous Irishman used the words that no one can put bounds to the march of a nation and that word is as true today as ever and as true after this Treaty is signed because nothing we will do will ever retard the advance of Ireland towards the ideal she has set herself to achieve, namely an Irish Republic. I vote for this Treaty but I will be a Republican and will continue to pursue the ideals of a Republic as long as I am in public life. On the question of principle there is another principle which has greatly influenced me in coming to this decision and it is the principle of faithfully representing the views of my constituents. I took great trouble to ascertain those views and I found that they were almost unanimously in favour of ratification. Before this Treaty was signed, before these goods were shown to the country, we might have secured the help and cooperation of the country in fighting it out to a finish. Now that the goods are delivered and that they are good goods under the circumstances I have no doubt whatsoever but that the country would accept them, if they were placed before them, by a majority of ten to one. That is all I have to say about it.
It is mostly in reply to a statement made by the Deputy for Cork, Liam de Róiste, that has compelled me to speak. He stated that at the last public session in August I tried to stipulate that the hands of the Deputies [recte delegates] should be tied. I never stipulated anything of the sort. What I did stipulate was that terms of reference should be drawn up for the plenipotentiaries.
I should like to ask if these are to be regarded as private members of the Dáil?
He is not a minister of the Cabinet but by private members it was intended to distinguish those responsible for policy from other members. Ministers who are not members of the Cabinet should be included in this debate.
He said private members' views.
We agreed last night on private members and I think Mr. Griffith meant the same thing.
I might point out to the member for Longford that the Minister for Labour has spoken and no objection was raised. It was stated by the member for Cork that I tried to stipulate at the last session in August that the hands of the delegates should be tied. I tried to make no such stipulation. I did say that the terms of reference should be supplied to the plenipotentiaries by the Dáil and in making that stipulation I said there were two questions which were outstanding and which the Dáil would never agree to no matter what the plenipotentiaries brought back, and that these two questions were allegiance and partition. That is what I said. However it was decided unanimously that the terms of reference and instruction I am open to correction on this would be given to the plenipotentiaries by the Cabinet
And I absolutely agreed with that and at the last meeting when the plenipotentiaries were actually appointed I remember a speech made by another Deputy from Cork. Miss MacSwiney, who made it very definite as to what terms of reference the plenipotentiaries were concerned. She stated definitely that they went as representing the Irish Republic and that the status of the Irish Republic should not be interfered with and she asked those who were prepared to compromise to state their views on it, or for ever remain silent, and not one man or woman in the Dáil opened his or her mouth. Mr. de Róiste states that the thing that is going to affect him most is that the British forces will clear out of Ireland. I don't admit that what he states will happen. So long as our harbours are kept by the English, so long will they maintain forces to defend them. They may bring in thousands of troops to the different ports that are mentioned. And he states he does not want Ireland put in the position of Belgium. If he does not I cannot understand what he is thinking about when he says so in view of the fact that in time of war England might utilise such harbour and other facilities as she deems fit in order to protect herself from any foreign foe.
Mr. DE RÓISTE
I didn't say that.
Then it was some other member. I am certain if England requires it under this Treaty she will be able to run trains, take up transport and take up the whole resources of this country, and in every foreign war we will be as much involved as Belgium was in the late war. Mr. MacCabe made one unhappy quotation. He made two, but I will only refer to one. He referred to Nelson putting his blind eye to the telescope. It was a good job it was not the blind eye he put to the microscope which we were told we were to look through for principle. It is extraordinary when a man talks about principle that he should talk about putting a blind eye to the telescope. We want our eyes open to look at this Treaty. You stipulate it would be the blind eye he would look through. Mr. MacCabe tells us he is an uncompromising Republican willing to take the Oath of Allegiance to a foreign King. That is the most extraordinary statement ever made. He talks about principle and he is talking about being an uncompromising Republican. I think he should follow in the footsteps of another speaker who said that he was an uncompromising opportunist. He also states that no matter what we do Ireland will achieve her independence. It is not by abandoning principle we will achieve our independence. It is not by doing nothing and giving way at the first blast by England that we will achieve anything. We have heard enough talk in the last forty years about Ireland getting her independence by Redmond and people of that sort and we are getting back to the idea to give way, compromise, climb down, abandon principle and leave it to other generations of Irishmen to achieve independence. For the sake of duty everyone should take the Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Republic and you cannot compromise on that by talking another oath with reservations and every honest man and woman should keep an oath and they cannot keep it if they are going to take another. Which are you going to abide by? If you abide by the Treaty, do it honourably or not at all. Don't say that you are going to take one oath and at the same time take another one.
What about Hertzog?
I am not worrying about Hertzog. I am worrying about this country. Mr. de Róiste also talks about the Republican Party being split up into two natural divisions. There is no split on the question of principle it is neither principle nor expediency. Anyone who is a convinced Republican cannot adopt the expedients offered in this Treaty. I am against the ratification of the Treaty.
Could not such speeches as that be made more profitably in public? Is there any reason for such speeches in private? I thought they were only going to say things about the Treaty.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I am only following the agenda for this meeting. The third item on the agenda is that private members can express their views on the general situation.
I thought we all understood it was the Treaty. I don't see any reason for a speech like that to be made in private and again in public. It is a most important speech for the public session. I should like everyone in Ireland to hear it.
Other members were allowed to state their views on the Treaty. Mr. MacCabe and Mr. de Róiste went into a discussion and I don't see why I should be prevented.
I raise the point of order simply. It should have been made before.
I am not conscious that I touched on questions of acceptance or rejection.
To my mind the question most laboured by Mr. MacDonagh on principle and expediency does not arise on the two treaties that have been put before us in this Dáil. Both of these treaties give away a certain amount of principle. When we appointed our plenipotentiaries at our meeting in September I at least understood what were the terms of reference and what we sent these men to London to do, and I am not going to rise now and turn on them and say they did not carry out the instructions they got. They were sent by this Dáil in connection with the form of association that is the British Empire, to find how best the national interests of Ireland could be served in that association, and I maintain that we made no mistake in the choice of our delegates. They have done their duty nobly and well. I am not in love with all the terms of this Treaty. I don't say that and I am sure it is not what any of us would take if we were free to get a better form, but we must remember what we were up against and what we decided to do. Let us not now be rounding on the men we put into that position because they have done what we sent them to do. Now there is great talk here about the Oath that has been inserted in this Treaty and which the members of the Government of the Free State are asked to take. There is great argument made on this Oath. I will read the Oath in order to refresh the memory of everybody. "I do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established and that I will be faithful to H.M. King George V, his heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain and her adherence to and membership of the group of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations". To my mind that Oath is no different in substance to the oath suggested by our President when giving his last recommendation to these men going to the council chamber to tussle with the delegates of the British Empire. There is no difference in substance. There may be a difference in words and [recte as] we are told by the President here when he first spoke against the ratifications of this Treaty in this Assembly. We are told that the difference was very little, merely a shadow, but that he was prepared to make or break on that shadow. I put it to you, the representatives of the people of this country, are you prepared, as the Minister of Defence has said we will have to do, are you prepared to ask the men and women of Ireland to stand up and fight for what? for a shadow? For a quibble of words, I say, not for a principle. There is an oath in any form of association with Ireland and the British Empire it is agreed by all the spokesmen here and our friends and representatives abroad. The member for one of the Dublin constituencies has said that he was an uncompromising Republican from boyhood and it is a way out for him. This new form of association proposed was a way out for our representative in France. I say it is only a way in for men who are afraid to face the facts as they are now put up to them. In any form of association that Ireland is connected with the British Empire it is agreed by this section that the King would be recognised as the head of it. To make it light some of them said he would be a king or chairman, but in any case they recognise that he is the head of it and the king of it. They also make light of that point. But in any association Ireland is there and I am sure that the representatives of this country and the men and women of this country will still be loyal to the Irish Constitution. They will be faithful. They have sworn allegiance to the Irish Constitution. If we are faithful to the Irish Constitution by our oaths and if Ireland is associated in any way with the British Empire, or with any association in the Commonwealth, are not the people of Ireland committed to that Constitution and to the head of it? The country is as much committed in any association put before us in this Treaty and I say that the men who worded or secured the wording of this Treaty in difficult debates and negotiations are worthy of the trust we placed in them. I say more. They interpreted the instructions they got from the Cabinet as published for us in these reports. In plain reading these reports will say that they got a mandate from the Cabinet to accept what they have accepted. As I said at the start I don't like this Treaty and if we had conquered England I would not accept it, but we must recognise the fact that we have not yet beaten England to the ropes and we were all agreed that we would enter into association with England and I maintain that the association proposed to us in this Treaty is an honourable association for us to accept. There are many points I should like to make but perhaps they would be best left unsaid to the public session. A few of them might not be out of place now in reminding the members that the difference between the signed Treaty and the proposed treaty is very little. But the main fact is that one Treaty is signed by the representatives of the British Government and the other will not be signed I believe until the blood of the men and women of Ireland runs red again. Now, we have been speaking of the Constitution of Ireland and what limitations would be put on it or what construction would be put on it by what is the constitutional usage. Like the Minister of Finance I am satisfied to leave the interpretation of these constitutional words to be solved by the high constitutional lawyers and to accept what is the plain meaning of them as a fact which has been said by one of the opponents of this Treaty. Mr. Erskine Childers in a very laboured statement took this point as a strong point against the ratification of the Treaty, but he was fair enough to point out that altho' constitutional law might be one thing fact and act and what happens every day in regard to Canada was possible and must happen in reference to the Irish Constitution that we are getting by the terms of this Treaty. Constitutional usage then is a term that will apply I say in the interests of Ireland and the acceptance of this Treaty does not make the ideal of a Republic impossible, but I say the acceptance of this Treaty makes it more possible than the rejection of it. We will have freedom to establish here a Gaelic state. We can build up on the traditions of the past within this Constitution which is now offered to us by our plenipotentiaries. We can build up from within on this good and sound structure, and in the framing of our constitutional law within the terms of this Treaty there is nothing to prevent us from becoming an isolated Republic even within the association of the British Empire.
I may be under a wrong impression and there are certain points I should like to have cleared up for my benefit. Am I in order? I want a point cleared up. This morning we heard a great deal about oaths, but to my mind the oath that matters to us is the Oath in the Treaty. That Oath says that we swear allegiance to the Irish Free State and an Oath to be faithful to King George in virtue of our common citizenship of Great Britain and membership of the British Commonwealth group.
It is not that we swear it but that members of the Free State swear it.
It is for information I am looking. I am not going to say what I will do tomorrow but I will be quite clear. I understand that that Oath of Allegiance to the Free State was the oath of subjects that we would take in honour of the Free State except that it was an oath of fidelity in virtue of common citizenship to the head of the Government. I find that Mr. Lloyd George in his speech on Wednesday says that under the Treaty he has secured an Oath of Allegiance to the British King and the British Empire. I want to know what to do about it. Mr. Churchill says the same. How are we to interpret article 4?
Refer it to a constitutional lawyer as to our position under the Treaty and the application of the Oath. It is a reasonable suggestion. We are not lawyers.
Before consulting any external lawyer we might do the common courtesy to our own lawyers who have been intimately associated with us and who will discuss it in all the details. There were two of them associated with us and they will be kind enough to consider the question.
The constitutional lawyers associated with the plenipotentiaries were Mr. John O'Byrne, Mr. Nolan Whelan and Professor Murnaghan. They are the constitutional lawyers.
Professor Murnaghan was quoted as one. He explained to me that point Mrs. O'Callaghan raised.
I think Mr. Duggan took a legal opinion from him on it. He could give the opinion.
I did. It was my own opinion also. Members of Parliament are required to swear an Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State. This is the one thing absolutely clear about the Oath. They then say they will be faithful to the King and his successors, not absolutely and unconditionally, but by virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Gt. Britain and her adherence to the group of nations forming the British Commonwealth. That is the legal interpretation. It is the opinion of one of the lawyers working with us in connection with the delegation.
Professor Murnaghan is the man who refused to take a brief for our side in connection with the proceedings which we intended to take to challenge the legality, according to British law, of martial law. I have taken the opinion of Mr. Arthur Clery on the Oath. He is a man whose nationality cannot be questioned and whose bravery cannot be questioned because he has acted as one of our judges from the commencement. His opinion was to the effect that this Oath was at least as binding in allegiance to the English King as the simple oath that is taken by the members of Parliament at the present day.
I have taken Mr. Crowley's opinion on it.
And here is the opinion of Mr. Winston Churchill.
There is a personal reference [by] the Minister of Home Affairs to a member of the committee and in contrast with him he has put up the opinion of another gentleman. Is it the fact that the other gentleman who has taken that oath of allegiance to the Republic as a judge of our High Court, as a matter of fact has practised in the English courts and signed by virtue of the King's writ?
Certainly the same as any lawyer the same as Mr. Duggan every time he issues a writ.
Mr. Duggan has not been appointed a supreme judge of the court of the Republic.
And Mr. Duggan is one of our delegates and issues the writ of King George every day.
I have had an opinion on this Oath too.
If we are going into public session at eleven o'clock in the morning some of us will not be here for the evening session. I for one cannot be here. There will I suppose be pretty heavy responsibility on a few of us tomorrow and I don't know whether it would not be better to adjourn now until eleven o'clock tomorro
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
There are several speakers a fairly long list of Deputies who have expressed a desire to speak.
I have not heard a single word this afternoon that might not be said more profitably at a public session.
It is a matter you need not decide here now. If you intend not to come back this evening you had better give a decision on this, whether all the documents that have been placed at the disposal of the delegates have been properly digested in order that some opinions may be based on them. I think it would be very much better to postpone the public sitting until Monday and give everyone plenty of time. The decision is so vital to this nation that everyone must have all the information available and plenty of time to consider it before he makes up his mind what he is going to do.
The public have been kept waiting already a very long time, and even if we have to stay until midnight or two o'clock in the morning I don't think it is fair to keep the country on tenterhooks any longer.
The country is going mad about the secret business. We are absolutely fed up.
When we speak we can keep as clear as possible from anything that can be discussed in public tomorrow and we can get over the difficulty in a couple of hours.
I have no objection to postpone the public session until Monday.
The meeting adjourned at 6.20 p.m. for tea.
On resuming THE DEPUTY SPEAKER, BRIAN O'HIGGINS, took the Chair at 7.30 p.m. and said:
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
There are several names on the list of speakers, of people, of Deputies, who wish to speak this evening if we are not to continue in private session tomorrow. I would again ask those Deputies who are about to speak to be as brief as possible. I asked that before and it could be done by some of them with very great benefit. I hope what I am saying will have some good effect now.
I suggest that we should discuss now whether we could have a public session tomorrow or postpone it until Monday.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I now call on the Teachta for Luimneach M. P. Collivet.
I wish to make an explanation. This morning the Chairman spoke of a bill which was posted at the door. Nobody down here could tell exactly what he said. However to clear the matter I want to say that I put that bill there and if I put it at the wrong side of the door I am sorry.
I think this is a matter that is urgent. Within the past three days there have been six members of the British Crown forces shot in different parts of the country. Two of these were killed a British officer was shot at Ballybunion; on the 14th an R.I.C. sergeant was shot dead and a constable wounded near Kilmallock. That thing is spreading and reprisals will ensue and if we adjourn over the weekend I think you will agree that some action should be taken on the matter by our Government. The Castle authorities have written:
The circumstances which in the opinion of His Majesty's Government made [the] issue by them of an official statement immediately after they learned of the bomb outrage at Thurles on the 9th instant apply with equal force to the two cases of deliberate murder which have occurred in the last three days at Ballybunion and Kilmallock. I have, therefore, to urge upon you the necessity for a widely published statement of repudiation by official Sinn Féin of these crimes, which are, you will agree, atrocious breaches of truce if the perpetrators are members of your forces.
I must warn you that the frame of mind of police who see these men with whom they were 'at war' a few months ago walking openly, protected by the Truce, while they themselves feel that they are not immune from attack and assassination is a source of growing anxiety, and I have to press upon you consideration of the view that the statement for which I ask would be not only a clear warning to the men who are taking upon themselves the responsibility for such acts of violence, but would have to some extent a calming effect upon the police.
I am, Sir
Your obedient servant
MARK STRUPIN [Recte STURGES]"
Continuing Mr. Duggan said, I would be glad if that matter should be discussed. I certainly think some statement should be issued in the press which would steady the country during the few days we are discussing this matter here.
I propose that tomorrow's session be private and that tonight the President and members of the Cabinet issue a statement to the press pointing out that as we waited for seven centuries that we can wait for a few days longer. That will enable the public to understand the situation and it will have a great calming effect on them. They will be prepared to wait over until Tuesday or Wednesday.
That was just what I had in view when I spoke a while ago.
You must have these things separate. The question of issuing a statement is a distinctly different thing as to whether you will adjourn the public session over tomorrow and continue on in private session.
I am willing to omit from my motion reference to the private session. Let the manifesto stand.
I would like to hear some persons' views on the matter and then perhaps one or two can be appointed to draw up a statement on the matter say Mr. Stack, Minister for Home Affairs.
I would be willing.
The proper thing is to issue a statement through the press that if any member of our forces is found guilty of any acts of violence they will have to be dealt with by the Republican Government any members responsible for acts of violence will have to be dealt with.
I think now that the Cabinet should be got together to deal with this matter. If in the opinion of the chief liaison officer any of our forces have been guilty of them, or even if they have not, there is a state of unrest that is perhaps likely to grow if there is no statement from the Cabinet. I think the Cabinet ought get together and draw up a statement which could be issued in the name of a united Cabinet. I don't know whether the motion for a private session tomorrow is before you
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I would urge upon the Cabinet to consider this. I think the suggestion should go from Dáil to the Cabinet.
I think the obvious thing is for the Cabinet to meet and deal with the question. That's the wish of the House.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
This is the motion moved by Deputy Collivet: "That tomorrow's session beginning at 11 a.m. be private and that tonight the President and the chairman of the plenipotentiaries issue to the press a joint manifesto over their names calling for calmness and patience and pointing out that as we have waited for seven centuries we can wait a few days now."
I think it was agreed to that the matter of the breach of the Truce should not be put with that.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
No, no. It's an appeal to the people and to the country for calmness and patience.
I don't think we should suggest the precise phraseology of it.
It seems to me that the question of the breach of the Truce and the private session in the morning are two separate things which should be taken separately.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
We take the first part of this motion that tomorrow's session beginning at 11 a.m. be private.
I would like to urge that the private session be continued for another day. There are a number of people who haven't spoken yet and who wish to speak.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
We must wait until it is moved as a motion.
I move the first motion separately that tomorrow's session begin at 11 a.m. and be private.
I am not convinced of the wisdom of deferring the public session but I am not going to move an amendment. When do you propose to have the public session? Perhaps tomorrow we may have discussions that could be taken at the public session. There are other matters that we should discuss in private. But we may go on in this way indefinitely.
There is no hurry.
There is considerable hurry. What has occurred what has been referred to by the Deputy for Meath indicates that there is a grave urgency for a definite decision upon this very serious matter. And I think we should have, before that is passed, some indication of the time, some date mentioned, when the public session will begin and that there will be no further question of deferring to a later date the public session. If the public session is deferred after this week and no Deputy here, no member of the Dáil, will avail of any functions that may intervene between now and the public session to make any public pronouncement.
I suggest that we ought make tomorrow's private session the last private session because it is having a demoralising effect upon ourselves. It is bad for our proceedings to be closed to the press and public and I think the public deserves some consideration. I think we ought have a definite understanding that tomorrow's private session be the last or that at least Monday morning's be quite definitely the last private session.
One particular reason I would like it not to be public for tomorrow, Saturday, is from the point of view of the public and press not the best day to start a public session which will probably not finish in one day, and Saturday evening from the point of view of the public and press is the least convenient day for a public session. I would earnestly suggest that we adopt the suggestion of the Minister for Finance that it be definitely fixed now that the public session be opened at 11 o'clock on Monday morning.
I want to say the English Parliament have adjourned until Monday and they don't say what they are going to do. I suppose they are waiting on us and we are rushing this. We are doing good work here I believe (laughter). Well now, this is not a trifling matter. I have said here before this evening it is a momentous thing for our country and we should not rush it. We should not take it lightly. I think the vast majority of us, myself included, are not capable of taking up the Treaty and discussing it as was Mr. Childers and I have heard men who were in favour of it say they didn't understand the Treaty until they heard him. That's no reproach to them. We are elected here because we stood for an ideal. I don't believe that we should rush this thing. We should not bind ourselves to any particular time. At least if we adjourn until morning we should not fix any particular time. There is no reason why we should hurry.
There is. There are serious reasons.
If this thing is issued to the country tonight I mean this statement to be issued in the name of a united Cabinet
The country knows there is no united Cabinet.
They will not think so when they see this manifesto issued under the names of President de Valera and Mr. Griffith. I say adjourn the public session. Don't rush it.
Again it was said to me yesterday that I wanted to rush it. Let us talk about this thing in public for the next ten years if we like, but let us talk in public.
I suggest our plenipotentiaries should be taken out of the dock. They are there long enough now four days.
I certainly would not be for postponing the public session beyond Monday. I know by the indications I get from the last telegrams from the country how uneasy the people are, and the English Parliament is meeting in public and we can't justify meeting in private. I am in favour of having it on Monday in public. I don't think we should go beyond that in private.
I agree entirely with that. The main thing is that everyone should understand everything that is worth understanding about this question before he or she makes up his or her mind. A committee was appointed to select vital documents. Those documents are now in your hands. I realise that you could not digest those documents and be certain of coming to a proper conclusion if we had a public session tomorrow because we would not have time to do it. During the last half hour I found people down at tea who didn't understand what this Treaty means. Nevertheless you will have plenty of time between now and Monday to make up your minds.
In view of the very strict orders that were given to us about these documents I would like to suggest to you and the Deputies that, as it is not very late, we might read those documents very carefully before we leave this hall tonight. Because it is a serious thing for over 100 people to take away private documents, personally I should suggest to read them for an hour and then give them up before we leave the hall tonight.
I propose that the session adjourns now.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
The mover and seconder are willing to let the motion go in the form, "That tomorrow's session be private and that the public session start on Monday at 11 a.m."
Have an agenda drawn up tomorrow.
The only speech that was made here this evening was not a speech for or against the Treaty. Is it possible to keep to our resolution without discussing the ratification of the Treaty? But practically all that was said here this evening could be said in public session for or against the Treaty. And therefore if we make the rule that speeches for or against cannot be made tomorrow we can get business done. I suggest one important thing that we can discuss namely what is going to happen in this Assembly when you have taken the vote? Consider the two things and make up your minds. Many members of the Dáil have not come to any conclusion as to what they are to do in the event of a certain vote. Now, the Minister for Finance has stated that if he is beaten he will loyally support the Government and he has said that if they will go to war he will fight. I presume
That is not fair comment
What I want to point out is this the Minister for Finance is definitely committed to certain action if he is beaten. If he wins a different situation will arise and it will be very important for members of the Dáil to know what action is to be taken. And I don't know whether it is possible for us to come to any conclusion. In my consideration of this whole question of the Treaty this is a matter of grave concern. In either case you have disorder in the one case war, in the other chaos. If the Treaty is ratified what are the people who are against the Treaty going to do what action do they intend to take? It would be a great calamity if the President, whom we all know and for whose ability we have such regard, took certain lines of action which are obvious to retire altogether and leave the Government to do what they like themselves and if everybody who thinks with him did the same thing we all agree that it would be a disaster, a very serious thing, and I don't suggest to any man what he might do. It would be better before we go into public session to have some idea as to what is going to happen rather than we should have a prolonged debate in public session before taking a decision on it. It might be necessary, for example, for some men in this House who hold high rank in the army to be at home the time the decision is taken in the one instance to be home to prepare for war, and on the other hand to see that their men observe discipline. They are all much more important questions in private session than the debate on the Treaty and I suggest that we devote our time to these questions. It grieves me to see these differences. I know men on the two sides of this question a long time and I would consider it a grave disaster to lose any of them and therefore I would like to know whether it is possible for us to come to an agreement.
If I might from our side state I am against it definitely. I am absolutely against the ratification of the Treaty. It is necessary for me in order to defend the position I take up to say what I would suggest to do. If the whole fate of the nation was in my single will I would vote against the Treaty and reject it on the basis I do this now to explain my further attitude. I would reject the Treaty, demonstrate to the world that this little nation was going to stand for liberty in this particular respect, that it had a right to live its own life, that we didn't go into negotiations without having a purpose and that we honestly intended to make peace with them. And I would put forward mind you that document. I would never sign that Treaty. I expect you would have to break. And I was prepared personally to run the risk of breaking in order to see when they publish their document we would publish this. A lot of delegates were saying here today there was no difference between the Treaty and this document. Now remember, this was what our delegates would have tried to have got and they couldn't. And they took their own document only because they didn't have material backing in the way of armies to back up their will. Therefore let nobody say that this document which I substitute here is a document which is inferior to the other document. And their only excuse for not bringing a document like that is that the others (English plenipotentiaries) would not accept it. The only difference between us I would take the risk of war and break. And my countermove would be to publish the whole matter. It would not split the country and I would have an answer to offer a document like this and I would tell the world, "Here is a basis for a lasting treaty, here is association with the British Empire which is compatible with Irish aspirations."
The delegates' judgment was that war would ensue. I hold my own judgment and believe that with such a countermove war would not ensue. If I had at this moment and if it depended on my will and mine only, I would say so and I would reject the Treaty and make a magnificent demonstration all over the world of a little nation with all the power against it being able to say, "We will not do this". And I would say, "Here there is a thing which we can do". If I could induce the Dáil to do a thing like that I would. There is no likelihood that I can. I would say, "Reject the Treaty". For a flat rejection would be dangerous but here you could not go to London there would be no further question of plenipotentiaries or anything else. Here is a definite thing which the nation's representatives will stand over. It is not a politician's peace. No politician in England would stand by them. Because they would have the same difficulty in legally ratifying this proposed Treaty that I hold our delegates have in ratifying it here constitutionally. It would not be a politician's peace but a peoples' peace. Now the other alternatives. Suppose the Treaty is ratified we have the position in this House. As far as I have personally considered the first position all who would wish to have this Government established I would have no interest in continuing in public life. In fine I am willing to serve in any position in which I would be of any use (applause). I regard this House as the sovereign Government of this nation. I regard the majority of the House as determining the will of the House and I say that every true Irishman [is] in bounden duty bound to obey the majority of this House whatever way it goes as the Government of the nation until the Government is disestablished. The Republic will not be disestablished until it is disestablished by the will of the people and if this thing is ratified it would be an outrageous thing. I would not take that Oath if I could help it. We talk of all this in private session. It is obvious that that is not something to go outside. I at least this is what my idea is we have got to the bridge and I knew for long just that we had to pass that bridge before we got to the goal of an independent isolated Republic. I hold, as far as isolation and association is concerned, I suppose isolation is the ideal thing, but I don't see myself any tremendous objection to association. If you have a certain weakness you have a certain strength. They balance each other. I am not particularly keen whether it is isolation or association. Now before we cross the bridge, we could all come together to that bridge. The only use I consider myself is that I had helped to bring the two forces together up to that bridge. And now we are at the bridge and my determination is that, whatever way we go, England is not going to force us back. Therefore I will act all the time in accordance with that. There is only one thing and I hope you will not consider it a personal matter though it might seem so. I hold in myself two offices. In my own person I combine two offices one is President of this Assembly. And I have been by courtesy anyhow and I don't know whether it is legal I am also President of the Republic. Now it is obvious that if Mr. Griffith if the Treaty is ratified and, if Mr. Griffith is allowed to govern it is obvious that he could not very well be called President of the Republic. He could be Prime Minister here. My point is this that there are dangers. There may be tricks played by the other side. I want to say that we are here in reserve. I know that most of you will vote for the ratification of the Treaty. You are voting for it because you don't mean to obey it. I could not do that. I don't think that is the right thing to do, I am dead against it. My conscience is against it. I don't think these methods ever succeed in the end. On the other hand I am standing on the other principle on which I believe it will succeed. I am against it because I fear that it won't but I assume that most of you take that because it is a Treaty it will be forced upon you under duress. I have taken the oath. You don't intend or wish that the nation would abide by it. You believe that it is forced upon you by force and that it is not binding upon you. You have a bird in the hand for the first time and the difference between your Treaty and mine is a bird in the hand. I have even said before that birds that were in the hand were better than in the bush. And it is not quite in the hand yet, it is only in the shell. So will you please remember now that there are dangers in the way. You have only one ground to fight upon and that is a Republic. You will never get the nation to fight for anything else. Therefore I want, until the Republic is disestablished by the people of Ireland, I want to see that there shall be some real ground in which we can all unite again to fight for the Republic and win. In three or four or five years one acquires a reputation. It is often through mythical grounds a person gets a reputation. Sometimes they are acquired and they are as valuable to the people as if he deserved it. I believe I have got a certain reputation. I don't deserve it. I don't know that I do. But the reputation for honesty, I want to preserve that for the benefit of the nation until such time and I hope that all of you who vote for the Treaty will be knocked out and beaten at the first election and I want at least to preserve that reputation and the value I might be to the nation and the Republic in the position I have, and I believe that I would be able to rally the men and say that we would not be driven back across the bridge. I have always felt, far from making a split, I have taken the only action that is consistent with the nation's safety. Even though my opinions were not what they are I consider that it would be a lasting disgrace for all time that the man who is put in the position as I was of the first Irish citizen would stoop for a moment to be anything less than what he is anything less than President. It is the most glorious title that any man could have. I would not give it for all the world of honour. But suppose I was a pure opportunist I mean an opportunist for the nation I would take the stand I am taking, and very far from running the nation into danger I am doing the best thing to safeguard the nation. I am sure that everybody here is able to stand as I am standing and say that he will [sic] by the majority of this House this is the Government of the nation. There is no other way. We will be simply a divided, helpless, useless people except we make up our mind that there is a sovereign authority that is what I mean when I state there is a constitutional way of settling our political differences. It can be settled here and settled for the nation. And therefore, if it goes the other way to make those who think like me take that course I will but further everyone in this House is entitled to their own line of action. I have also other things that can be done in that connection. These things have to be kept locked in my own mind. I have taken one alternative to united ratification of the Treaty non-ratification of the Treaty which is the ideal one to my mind. If you don't ratify we will make this proposal it is this we will watch and try what will happen next. If they make war I know all that involves. I know our comparative weakness with respect to the enemy. We had that weakness before. If I was in prison and could go and have my freedom as a ticket-of-leave man I would rather sit inside and die in prison than give my parole which would bind me on my own word of honour to stay there.
I think we have advanced a great deal since we came from tea. I think we should continue that advance. There is a different spirit on both sides of the House and the President said that we should not be forced across the bridge. And I think we should use the private session tomorrow and see how we could get across the bridge unitedly. Personally I am not inclined to vote for it but if this House asked me to vote publicly for the Treaty I would swallow my opinions in the interests of the nation. The suggestion is that we take up President de Valera's proposal tomorrow. I think it would be a great advantage if it were unanimously accepted. But if not I have no faith in it at all. On the other hand I think that the men who signed the Treaty in London would welcome here a large minority against the Treaty. I feel if we were to act in the same spirit as heretofore we would see what the minority is and, if it is not enough, that we would take a bit from the majority and increase that minority for the sake of our national and international standing in the future. I think, if we went in that friendly spirit tomorrow and took stock as it were, that we could face the future unitedly and without any harshness to the other side and I think, under circumstances like that, the President and Michael Collins and Mr. Griffith could work together as in the past. I would like to develop that suggestion much more. I would like to work it out longer in the morning.
Is the issue of the joint manifesto agreed to?
Here President de Valera rising to leave said, I must beg leave to go.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I think there is no necessity now for the second part of that motion.
I take it that the Cabinet will do that.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
The Whips inform me that there is still a list of speakers who are anxious to speak (Cries of Tomorrow).
The Deputy from Cork made the suggestion that if the House stood adjourned the Deputies would remain to read these documents (submitted by the Committee). Some of us have seen too much of these damned documents and we don't want to see them again. In my opinion they ought not be taken away. The danger would be too great. It is not that I mind a bit these documents being published. We were at any rate binding the honour of the nation not to publish them. That is the only point of view I have been speaking on with regard to these documents.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I think it would be a very unwise thing to take these documents out of the House.
Are we to presume that the matter raised by Deputy Duggan will come up at the private session tomorrow?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
It is being dealt with at present by the Cabinet.
Before the House adjourns, as I didn't speak today I have a suggestion to make. I understand there is a practice in vogue in America that the members of the Senate or Congress hand in their speeches and whoever wishes to read them can read them. Have we any chance of getting that done here so as to save some time? (laughter).
It should be made absolutely clear that if this House adjourns and people who want to read these documents should leave them here after them, the result is achieved so far as the Committee is concerned.
Not so far as the country is concerned. Let them read them now and sleep on them.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
There is a motion for the adjournment of the House before us. It has been moved and seconded.