I am going to try to set a good example at this renewed Session of An Dáil by being very brief in what I have got to say. I shall not attempt any fire-works in my speech, because if I were to pose as a bellicose individual I am afraid I should be very much as a damp squib. All my activity and all my work has been more or less of a civil nature. I know nothing about the military side of our movement except what I have been able to judge by the results that were achieved. And I must say that both at the Public and Private Session I was very much struck by the statements of the soldier Deputies on both sides. I shall direct myself solely towards the civil points of view. I must say that the Treaty has suffered from its advocates both within this assembly and without it. I have been listening to the debates for several days and I have been unable to discover whether the Treaty is a Treaty by consent, or whether it is a Treaty signed under duress. To my mind it would make a big difference to this assembly if we knew definitely which was which —whether this assembly is being asked to go into the British Empire with its head up or whether it is being forced into the British Empire. I say, too, that it has suffered from its advocates outside, because the people who, during the recess, have been howling at us and telling us where our duty lay, were, for the most part, people who never did a solid hour's work for the country, and were anxious to drop down on the right side.
DEBATE ON TREATY
Some of them were in ambushes with me.
There are some very good people in the country supporting the Treaty and there are some of the very worst, and the people on the opposite side know it too. It seems to me that we are very much like a spectrum as we went along during the last two weeks. You know what a spectrum is like. When it is split up into various fragments you see the different sorts of colours. Well, I think Lloyd George has shown a spectrum here. The colours have veered from extreme purple to extreme red, and those who wore the purple mantle now arrived at the Royal Courts and were anxious to settle down there. Some professed Republicans on the other side said: "We will rest a little while at the Royal Court and furbish up our arms so as to be in a better position to advance." And those on the other side, extreme revolutionists, say: "If we linger at all there is danger that we may be contaminated by Royalty, and there is danger that we may not be able to advance at all." If I could feel in my heart and mind that the Republicans were only digging themselves in——
We never dug ourselves in.
——that they were only going to use this business as a stepping stone or post from which to advance, I might be able to step along with them. But I am afraid it is not a matter like that—that it is a step backward and not forward. I hold and agree with Connolly when he said that it is not the extent of the step at all that matters, it is the direction of the step——
That's the stuff. Hear, hear. Good for Connolly (cheers).
Yes, you can applaud that because you think it suits your policy or is your policy. Yes, wrap as much of that soft solder in as you possibly can because the result will prove that it is a step backward. It is a step off the solid rock. You are in the swamp, and you will be swamped.
I was often in a swamp and I did not get many to pull me out.
I would like to give you a long stick to pull you out, because I am sorry you are in it, and going into it. Now it seems to me that this Free State is going to be a very good and sweet thing for a class of people in this country who have never been conspicuous for their love of country. The head of the Delegation when in London wrote a certain letter, promising certain things to the Southern Unionists. I would like to know exactly what these promises were.
Because Lloyd George stated that the Free State would be able to hammer out its own Constitution, subject to guarantees given to Southern Unionists. I would like to know what do these guarantees mean. I would like to know what it does mean. Is it fair play? Because I can assure the head of the Delegation that if it means more than fair play, if it means giving these people place and power, and giving them a controlling influence in Irish affairs, and giving them more than their heads or individuality entitle them to, the Irish people won't stand for that. These people have been here as our previous enemies. These people have stood in our way every time we tried to make a little advance, and it would be a poor thing now for the Free State—if it was established—if these people are to be put upon the necks of the Irish people. The people won't have them there.
No one suggested what the Deputy is alleging.
Why make promises? Why not be honest with them? Why throw out a bit of grain to attract those fellows in? Why not say: "You will get the same treatment as the people of the rest of the country"? We know where our duty lies. We knew it before we heard a word from those Southern Unionists, and we will know it long after they are heard of no more. And we will do our duty too, without any directions from those new come-rounds, those new Free Staters. But anyone who accepts the Free State will be a Southern Unionist, because you will all accept the King. So far as I can make out it is only an exchange from one Unionist to another. The old Union was a Union of force and this is a Union of consent. You take the boot off one foot and put it on the other. I was amused here last week listening to threats —to threats of war. Did the men who were trying to make us believe so, really believe that bluff themselves? If they did it would not be bluff. I have here a little clipping from a newspaper of the 28th November in which Lord Birkenhead, one of the plenipotentiaries, made a rather interesting statement in which he said: "If the only method of securing peace in Ireland was by force of arms, it would be a task from which neither this nor any British Government would shrink, but the question was this, when it was attained at great expense of treasure and blood, how much nearer were they to a genuine and contented Ireland? Therefore he expressed his earnest hope that their efforts and exertions might not——"
It was I asked that question of Lord Birkenhead in Downing Street.
Was the Birkenhead of Downing Street so different from the Birkenhead of the public platform? Why did he not show the cloven foot in Downing Street as well as on the public platform, and not be trying to deceive the world by pretending he was giving a genuine peace to the Irish, when he was giving them a peace thrust down their necks with a bayonet? Why could he not be honest with us as we would be with him?
Would you? (Laughter).
I would, I can assure you I would. I have no desire to be at variance with England or with the English people. Any English people I met were rather nice decent people, but the English people in their political institutions are rather a different proposition. But it is the English people in their political institutions that I am thinking of. I would like to have a genuine and proper peace between the Irish and the English people, so that we would be free to go along and work out our own life in our own tinpot way, and have no fighting or arguing with them.
The English people are more loyal than their King.
It seems to me that some of the Irish people are more loyal than the English people— otherwise where does the common citizenship come in? Since when did Munster become as loyal as Yorkshire or Suffolk? And the fealty to King George in virtue of the common citizenship— where did the common citizenship come in between Cork and Yorkshire?
Where do your constituents come in?
Where do my constituents come in? I will answer that question. My constituents gave me a definite mandate in 1918, and they renewed the mandate last May. And my mandate was that to the best of my ability I should support the Republican Government in this country. I have not changed. I told them they could change. Perhaps they have changed, but I will not change. I told them a couple of months ago when I spoke to them publicly that I would not change; that they could change if they chose. I will vote against this Treaty because the acceptance of it would mean the death-knell of this Dáil and Republic. They are perfectly entitled to change. But there is a new element being introduced into Irish affairs which is not a good augury to the gentlemen of the Treasury Bench opposite. If at any moment people in a certain locality find themselves out of sympathy with one of their Treasury actions—and suppose they got a snow-ball resolution going, and suppose they got a venal Press to support it, will you obey the snow-ball resolution? Will they do what their honour and judgment dictated to them not to do? I say that the heart and mind of the people is not changed. I say that the heart and mind of the people is not reflected by the resolutions from the Farmers' Union and people of that ilk—who never did an honest day's or honest hour's work.
They did; they supported us in the fight.
I have been rather surprised at some of the names I have seen presiding at some of the meetings.
If you saw some of the houses I saw—the farmers' houses burned down all over the place—as I have seen lately.
The men I am referring to are not farmers at all. I wish to the Lord they were; but they are masquerading as farmers. It is just like this Treaty masquerading as a Treaty. It would be comic only it is likely to be tragic. It was a masked ball—a masquerade. The pity of it all is there was a little grain shook over the poor people. Lloyd George had set a trap very nicely and they walked in, and he pulled the stick and got you all in. Not alone did he get you within the crib, but he got some of us too (laughter). When I say this, I say it of our genuine Republicans.
Where are they?
Instead of uniting their strength to lift off the crib and get free again, they started to try and persuade themselves that, instead of being within the crib, they have, genuinely, the grandest freedom that could be possibly enjoyed, because they are going to be very well fed under it. Now I have nothing further to say except that I hope that none of the Deputies in this assembly will be swayed or misled by any of those extravagant resolutions that have been passed during the last fortnight. Every one of us was sent here with a definite mandate. If the people didn't mean the mandate—I say it with all sincerity and fairness to the people—the people should never have given us the mandate. I believe that the people mean us to work out for them an independent sovereign state. Under this Treaty we have not got an independent sovereign state. We have got three-quarters of a state. We have got a state with its principal ports controlled, with a jumping-off ground next door to us, from which an army can be jumped in at any moment; and, in a word, we have not got the essential thing for which a struggle for the last 750 years has been going on. It has been contended that it was necessary to accept this thing at the last hour, and the last minute of the last hour, of the 5th December. I say it was not necessary. The struggle that had lasted so long, the discussion that lasted a couple of months, could have lasted a couple of days or hours longer; and I think that this assembly would be dishonouring itself, and it would not be fair to itself, if, at the bidding of Lloyd George or any of his minions, it votes to surrender the sovereign independence of the Irish people.
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a lucht na Dála, ós rud é go bhfuil a lán daoine eile chun cainte, agus ná fuil a lán aimsire le spáráil againn, cé gur mhaith liom labhairt as Gaedhilg is gá liom labhairt as Béarla ar fad, ach déanfad mo dhícheall chun gan éinní do rá a chuirfeadh gangaid im' chaint. I will do my best to avoid introducing any element of bitterness or personality into this debate. I am sorry the debate has gone to a considerable extent on the lines it has gone. This is a debate of vital concern to the Irish nation. I don't think it right to endeavour to make points against a man's reasoned statement on a matter of vital national importance. I had hoped to hear from the opponents of the Treaty something that showed a sense of realities, something of a vision, something of sympathy for the poor, prostrate Irish nation, the great reality of the situation, beside which we 120 odd members with our formulas and politics pale into insignificance. I had hoped for some sign that they had considered alternative policies of peace, or of war; that they had constructive ideas to put forward, based on a robust faith in the Irish nation. No such note has been struck by the opponents or critics of the Treaty. I have heard much talk of what are called principles, but are really political formulas. Although the Irish nation in its struggle for 750 years, to which the Minister of Agriculture referred, fought for the one national principle, it adopted a dozen different political formulas at different times. Members have entertained us with accounts of their consciences and the political formulas which they call their principles, as if those were more important than the solid reality of the Irish nation. I have heard much high-pitched rhetoric and emotional appeals and references to brave men who did what we all, I hope, were ready to do—and some of us came very near doing—died for Ireland. As a contrast to this we have had elaborate expositions of the marvellous value of words and phrases and formulas, constituting the difference between internal and external association. In all this flood of dialectics I have not been able to find what I anxiously looked for—one hint of a suggestion of an alternative policy, one sign of constructive statesmanship. None of the opponents of the Treaty have even given an indication that they have even considered what we are to do next if this Treaty is rejected. Some say airily that they do not believe that the rejection of the Treaty will mean war anyway, as though that were a question to be gambled on. But I have listened in vain for the slightest suggestion or hint as to how they think war is to be avoided, how the impossible situation of an indefinite truce with no objective can be maintained, or how either we or the other side could keep our armed forces for an indefinite period with their hands behind their backs and governmental activities held up thereby. I cannot understand how people entrusted with the fate of the nation can be so much obsessed by formulas and so blind to realities. The opponents of the Treaty are not even united in their formulas. With some the formula is isolation, with some external association. Meanwhile the lives and fortunes of the Irish people are being gambled with in the name of formulas. After all, the Irish people who have stood to us so loyally and suffered with us have some rights. One would think, to listen to some of the speeches, that we were solemnly asked to choose between an independent Republic and an associated Free State. What we are asked is, to choose between this Treaty on the one hand, and, on the other hand, bloodshed, political and social chaos and the frustration of all our hopes of national regeneration. The plain blunt man in the street, fighting man or civilian, sees that point more clearly than the formulists of Dáil Eireann. He sees in this Treaty the solid fact—our country cleared of the English armed forces, and the land in complete control of our own people to do what we like with (hear, hear). We can make our own Constitution, control our own finances, have our own schools and colleges, our own courts, our own flag, our own coinage and stamps, our own police, aye, and last but not least, our own army, not in flying columns, but in possession of the strong places of Ireland and the fortresses of Ireland, with artillery, aeroplanes and all the resources of modern warfare. Why, for what else have we been fighting but that? For what else has been the national struggle in all generations but for that? The biggest guarantee of England's good faith in this matter is the evacuation from Ireland of her army. The problem all along for 750 years has been just this —the occupation of our country by the armed forces of England. All our evils, all our grievances were derived from this. The peaceful penetration of our Gaelic civilization, the gradual demoralization and denationalization of our people were ultimately due to the prestige derived by England from its superior force and its military. The reason why we found it necessary to send out our young men half armed, half equipped, to attack the enemy was not because we hoped to drive him from the country by force of arms—we were not such fools—but simply to break down that prestige which the enemy derived from his unquestioned superior force. That was the true motive of the war, and now that the British forces are preparing to evacuate our country without being beaten, some people want to fight again and retain them here. They want to keep the Black-and-Tans here. They want to keep 2,000 Irishmen in British prisons—a number of them in the shadow of death. They want the colleges and schools to continue manufacturing West Britons and our language to die out and the thousand signs of British dominance which we see on every side of us—to have all these retained, rather than to agree to a certain formula. The trouble is that many of us, many Irishmen bred in this hateful atmosphere of foreign occupation and foreign ascendancy, eternally struggling against it, have never visualised freedom. They have not realised what it means to our unfortunate country to breathe an invigorating atmosphere of national freedom and security, backed by our own force. They have not dreamed of the great work of national reconstruction, of healing the wounds, of substituting healthy national food for poison. They have been accustomed to think of a subdued, slavish and demoralised nation held in control by foreign force, and requiring the efforts of a few stalwarts like themselves to keep it right nationally; and they think that an Ireland from which the British forces are gone will be just the same. They lack faith in the nation. They seem to imagine that some shadowy representative of King George without a vestige of real power or authority, or a soldier to back him up, will be a great deal more formidable to the country than the 50,000 British troops and the 15,000 R.I.C. who are here at present. I tell you when the British have evacuated our country the Free State will be just what we make it; and we can make it a great and glorious land, the home of a fine Gaelic culture, of a highly developed agricultural system that will rival Denmark; with industries developed perhaps as some people advocate, on co-operative, non-capitalistic lines; of brave and beautiful ideas worked into practice. When I hear your dry formulists wrangling over words and phrases, and enlightening the world as to their political formulas which they call principles, I find myself thinking on a line from Pádraig Colum's play, The Land:“The nation, the nation—do you ever think of the poor Irish nation which is trying to be born?” I have accused the opponents of the Treaty of a lack of the sense of realities. I have accused them of a lack of faith in the nation. But the worst of all defects I have now to accuse them of is a lack of vision, a pitiable lack of vision. They don't realise what this means to the nation. They are more concerned with their dry political formulas than with the living nation. For a barren victory of formulas they are prepared not merely to plunge the nation into chaos and blood-shed—for that is only a temporary evil —but to check the one great opportunity God has granted us for the work of national reconstruction. The President said the truth when he said that the men who brought us back this Treaty from an unbeaten enemy acted as they did from intense love for Ireland (hear, hear). There are still some people who say they love Ireland. But to them it seems to be a name, an abstraction, a formula. To me, Ireland is the Irish people. Not the pure souled Republicans alone, but the plain men and women that live in the cities and on the hillsides of all Ireland, including North-East Ulster. Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins have the national vision to sense that people. They see and know the country as it is— the old women by the fireside, the young men working in the fields and the girls in the shops, the Orange working-man of Sandy Row and the Molly Maguire of South Armagh, the men on city tram cars, all types and classes, good, bad or indifferent; and they stand for them all. Remember those people are Ireland. Ireland is not a formula but a fact. You cannot love Ireland without loving the whole Irish people, without sympathetically considering the state of a people reared in slavery, a nation that never got a fair chance in the world. (Hear, hear). People are trading in the names of dead men in an indecent fashion—saying they would vote against this Treaty. Well, I won't presume to say how anybody would have voted, but I will say this, that my dearest friend, Seán MacDiarmuda, loved Ireland just as Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith love Ireland—with a love the formulists can never understand. Like Griffith and Michael Collins—it seems out of tune to call Mick Collins the Minister of Finance (laughter)—he knew the plain people well, all types, sailors, fishermen, farmers, labourers, shopkeepers, cattle-dealers, as well as university professors and international law experts (laughter). I think I knew his mind well, and it was just such a mind as Collins's and Griffith's. And I will not presume to say —I can only have my opinion— as to how the issue would have presented itself to him. A nation is not an arid abstraction. It is a living thing of flesh and blood made up of men and women; and the tragedy of the Irish nation has not been unsatisfactory formulas, but that she has been held in subjection by the military occupation of a foreign nation. Think of the evacuation of Ireland by foreign troops. Why, it seems like a fairy vision. All the old Gaelic poets sang of the going of the foreign hosts out of Ireland as an unreal dream of far off happiness. They did not sing of a Republic. They sang of a Gaelic monarch as symbol of association between the three kingdoms. “Ní iarrfad acht trí Ríoghachta le Móirín Ní Chuilionáin.” To see Seán Buidhe clear out of Ireland, and the country handed over to us, that is the prospect offered to you—and you object to the formula under which he goes out. So long as he goes out, what does the formula matter? When a proud unbeaten enemy surrenders, cannot we at least grant him the honours of war? Historically, the doctrinaire Republicans have not a leg to stand on. The Irish people did not fight for a Republic. They fought for Ireland for the Irish. They fought to have the British forces out of control of Ireland. As John Mitchell said: “I do not care a fig for Republicanism in the abstract.” A great many members have been entertaining us with accounts of their consciences and the principles they stood for and their national record. I can only answer for myself. From boyhood I have been a worker in the Gaelic League, Sinn Féin, the Volunteers and other organizations. I was one of the men who founded the Irish Volunteers, and I have served in the army ever since. I have taken oaths to the army and the Dáil and I have always been perfectly clear on the point, just as clear and emphatic as the President himself has been. I can even quote his words—that in taking the oath I was pledging my allegiance to the Irish nation, to the people of Ireland whom I have always loved and served, to do my best for them. Like the President I was no “Republican doctrinaire.” I only wanted to get the British out of Ireland, and the country in our hands. But my thoughts went further than that. I hoped to see a Gaelic Ireland, the home of strong and happy men and women in which a thousand splendid things could be done. The dreams of Davis, of William Rooney, of Pearse—men who saw Ireland with a prophetic vision and imagination—could be realised in a Gaelic State unchecked by foreign influence. But the formulists have no vision, no imagination, as they have no sense of realities. The reality of the situation is our bruised and bleeding country in a state of economic ruin; our people trained in slavery under the shadow of British force with all the demoralisation it implies. As the Minister of Finance has said: “Is Ireland ever to get a chance?”“The nation, do you ever think of the poor Irish nation that is trying to be born?” I appeal to you —give it a chance. Who knows what the child will be when it grows up outside the shadow of British force. The Minister of Education told us recently that it would take twenty years to get Irish taught in every school in Ireland——
I said ten years. I ought not be misquoted.
Twenty years that is in this report of your speech. No matter, say ten years. I tell you if you reject this Treaty it will not take ten years or twenty years or forty years, for you will never see the day when it will happen. But if the British Army clears out you will have a real Irish national education in twelve months, and you can have all Ireland Irish-speaking in two generations. Pádraic Pearse advised the Irish people to accept the Irish Councils Bill because he considered it gave the Irish people control over education. But the finest education of all will be the bringing up of our boys and girls outside the shadow of the British armed forces. We can have our national theatres and municipal theatres, music halls and picture halls redolent of a national atmosphere in place of the demoralising institutions now influencing the people's outlook. We can have a development under state protection of that system of co-operative agricultural development that has already done so much good. We can have our fisheries organised on a national basis so that the poor fishermen of Ireland, in most cases the chief representatives of our historic Gaelic Ireland, will be able to compete on fair terms with the wealthy, state-aided foreigner. We can have our marshes and waste lands turned into plantations and our hillsides covered with trees. We can have our national sports and pastimes developed under the ægis of the state. We can have industries built up, not on the sweating system, but in accordance with our Democratic Programme of the 21st January, 1919, on lines which will assure the worker of a fair share of the fruits of his labour. We can make our land the home of the fine arts which will rival the great big and the great small nations of the world. All this we can do. And the poor Irish nation that is trying to be born, that never got a chance before, is to be denied this chance because of a question of formulas. I appeal to those opponents of the Treaty who have done great and good work for Ireland in the past, are they going to be responsible for crushing this frail and beautiful thing in the chrysalis? I am afraid that as a Dáil we are a body of small people, dry formulists and politicians, and without imagination. We cannot rise to a great occasion in a manner worthy of us. We have not the vision. We have not the imagination. I have accused the opponents of the Treaty of a lack of faith in the nation, of a lack of a sense of realities and of a lack of vision and imagination. I have now to accuse them of a further lack of sense of their own representative capacity and responsibility to the nation. There is one thing that a great many of us seem to forget: that whatever authority our present government possesses rests solely on the support of the people of Ireland. If you act contrary to the will of the majority of the nation, then you have lost their moral support and your effective authority is gone. The President talked of a Provisional Government being a usurpation. Well, if this Dáil acts contrary to the will of the majority of the Irish nation its continuance in office is the greatest usurpation of all. There were talks of threats of war. Well, England has no need to threaten war. She knows that if you reject this Treaty then the power and authority of Dáil Eireann, whatever it be in theory, is gone in practice, for we will not have the big bulk of the people behind us. It was that popular support that gave Dáil Eireann its strength in the past, and even though you do not like the Treaty you must face realities. There is no conceivable alternative to the acceptance of the Treaty but division, faction and chaos. When we have a divided, chaotic Ireland, England has no need to make war on us. She can just leave things as they are, and she can dissolve Dáil Eireann any time she likes by simply dissolving the British Parliament. If she does that you will have to fight a general election or go under. And do you think you can win if you go against the national will? The point of view of the non-ratifiers is so unreal, such a resolute attempt not to face realities, that I find it difficult to understand it. We, the members of Dáil Eireann, must realise that the nation was not made for Dáil Eireann, but Dáil Eireann was made for the nation. I will go further and remind the republican doctrinaires that if there was an Irish Republic in the past three years it consisted, not in an abstraction or a legal formula, but in the people of Ireland. The state is the people organised in a coherent form, and no matter whether you call it a Republic or a Free State, my allegiance is to the people of Ireland and to the state which represents the national will. If we do not represent the national will we are a usurpation, and your airy edifice of a Republic crashes to the ground. I implore you to consider this point—that if you reject this Treaty the people of Ireland, the poor nation that is trying to be born, will never get a chance of considering it. If you reject the Treaty, even by a majority of one, the British are no longer bound by it; and your country with whose future you are gambling so unfairly, so recklessly, in the name of political formulas which you call your principles, will not be able to say yes or no to it. But the country will let you know what it thinks of you; and what is left of our Gaelic nation in future generations will curse your failure to rise to a great opportunity. There is no need to talk of the danger of war. Perhaps even war would be better than division, and if this Treaty is rejected you will have a helpless, prostrate country. Nothing more effectively illustrates the unreality of our theoretic dialectics, our discussions of principles and oaths, than a consideration of the actual position of Ireland— Truce or War. The Minister for Home Affairs stated that if this Treaty were signed the Irish Free Stater who went abroad would get his passport from the British Foreign Office and be described in his passport as a British subject. Deputy MacCartan says this is not so, that the Canadian is not required to do this; but even if it were so, let me remind you of this—a great many Irish men and women have left Ireland for America during the past few years. Some of them went with passports from the Minister for Home Affairs, but all of them went, had to go, with British passports in which they were described as British subjects.
Some of them were smuggled out.
By the Minister of Finance.
A little fact like this is a douche of cold water on the idealists and on the unrealities of the formulists (laughter). Some of those who oppose the Treaty have claimed to be idealists and take a superior pose against those who speak of plain realities. I say it is those who vote for the Treaty that are the true idealists. They have the vision and the imagination to sense the nation that is trying to be born—the poor, crushed, struggling people who never got a fair chance, the men and women of all Ireland, the Orangemen of Portadown, the fishermen of Aran, the worker of the slum and the labourer in the fields, that nation whose fate lies in your hands and whom you are dooming to another and, I fear, a final disappointment if you reject the Treaty. Save that poor nation, give it a chance to be born, have the courage to throw away the formulas which you call principles. Seize this chance to realise the visions of Thomas Davis, of Rooney and Pearse, of a free, happy and glorious Gaelic state. Do not have it said of your work what was said of the doctors who performed an operation—"The operation was a complete success, but the patient died."
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a lucht na Dála, táim im' sheasamh go láidir agus go fíor anso iniu i gcúis Phoblacht na hEireann d'eirigh i Seachtain na Cásga, cúig bliana ó shoin. I rise to-day to oppose with all the force of my will, with all the force of my whole existence, this so-called Treaty—this Home Rule Bill covered over with the sugar of a Treaty. My reasons against it are two-fold. First, I stand true to my principles as a Republican, and to my principles as one pledged to the teeth for freedom for Ireland. I stand on that first and foremost. I stand, too, on the common sense of the Treaty itself, which, I say, does not mean what it professes to mean, and can be read in two ways. I would like first to take the Treaty, to draw your attention to clauses 17 and 18 and to ask the delegates what limiting power England and the English Parliament will have on the Constitution which they are prepared to draft. I would also like to ask them what they mean by number 17: "Steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of Members of Parliament elected for Constituencies in Southern Ireland since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920." What do they mean by that? Is that a meeting of the Southern Parliament, or is it a sort of Committee which is to be formed, or what does it stand for? It is not An Dáil; it is not called a meeting of the Southern Parliament. It is called a meeting of members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland. What power has England to set up such elected representatives as a Government? She has power under the last Bill, I believe, to set up Crown Colony Government, but I doubt whether she has power to set up this as a Government for Ireland. That is a thing I would like to ask the Plenipotentiaries if they have thought about it. Then I see in that letter that Mr. Griffith quoted with regard to the setting up of this Constitution for Ireland—discussing the Second Chamber, Lloyd George says: "The establishment and composition of the Second Chamber is therefore in the discretion of the Irish people. There is nothing in the Articles of Agreement to suggest that Ireland is, in this respect, bound to the Canadian model." Well, Mr. Griffith published the letter which he wrote to the Southern Unionists. It was dealt with to-day by Mr. Art O'Connor. This is the letter: "Sir, I write to inform you that at a meeting I had with representatives of Southern Unionists I agreed that a scheme should be devised to give them their full share of representation in the First Chamber of the Irish Parliament, and that as to the Upper Chamber we will consult them on its constitution and undertake that their interests will be duly represented." Now I want to know by what authority the Chairman of the Delegation said this? And I want to know also what it means. Does it mean that the Chairman of the Delegation wishes to alter the form of representation of this country by some syndicalist representation, or representation by classes, or by trades unions, or by public bodies, or something else? Mr. Griffith, surely, does not mean that they would merely get their proper representation or the representation they are entitled to. It must mean something special. Now why are these men to be given something special? And what do the Southern Unionists stand for? You will all allow they stand for two things. First and foremost as the people who, in Southern Ireland, have been the English garrison against Ireland and the rights of Ireland. But in Ireland they stand for something bigger still and worse, something more malignant; for that class of capitalists who have been more crushing, cruel and grinding on the people of the nation than any class of capitalists of whom I ever read in any other country, while the people were dying on the roadsides. They are the people who have combined together against the workers of Ireland, who have used the English soldiers, the English police, and every institution in the country to ruin the farmer, and more especially the small farmer, and to send the people of Ireland to drift in the emigrant ships and to die of horrible disease or to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic. And these anti-Irish Irishmen are to be given some select way of entering this House, some select privileges—privileges that they have earned by their cruelty to the Irish people and to the working classes of Ireland; and not only that, but they are to be consulted as to how the Upper House is to be constituted. As a Republican who means that the Republic means Government by the consent of the people (hear, hear) I object to any Government of that sort whereby a privileged number of classes established here by British rule are to be given a say—to this small minority of traitors and oppressors—in the form of an Upper Chamber as against all, I might say, modern ideas of common sense, of the people who wish to build up a prosperous, contented nation. But looking as I do for the prosperity of the many, for the happiness and content of the workers, for what I stand, James Connolly's ideal of a Workers' Republic——
——co-operative commonwealth, these men who have opposed everything are to be elected and upheld by our plenipotentiaries; and I suppose they are to be the Free State, or the Cheap State Army, or whatever selection these men are, to be set up to uphold English interests in Ireland, to uphold the capitalists' interests in Ireland, to block every ideal that the nation may wish to formulate; to block the teaching of Irish, to block the education of the poorer classes; to block, in fact, every bit of progress that every man and woman in Ireland to-day amongst working people desire to see put into force. That is one of the biggest blots on this Treaty; this deliberate attempt to set up a privileged class in this, what they call a Free State, that is not free. I would like the people here who represent the workers to take that into consideration—to say to themselves what can the working people expect in an Ireland that is being run by men who, at the time of the Treaty, are willing to guarantee this sort of privilege to a class that every thinking man and woman in Ireland despises. Now, there are one or two things that I would like an answer to. It strikes me that our opponents in speaking have been extraordinarily vague. We had Mr. Hogan, Deputy for Galway, before the recess talking a great deal about the King, and he was rather laughing and sneering at the idea of the King being head of a Free State. In fact his ideas about the King amounted to merely one thing—an individual's ideas of a modern king. What he lost sight of is this: that the King to-day in England—when you mention the King you mean the British Cabinet. Allegiance to the King like that does not even get you the freedom that is implied —a dual monarchy. The King to-day is a figurehead, a thing that presides at banquets, waves a flag, and reads his speeches some one else makes for him; which mean absolutely nothing but words put into his mouth by his Cabinet. Also the same vagueness comes into the question of the oath. As a Republican I naturally object to the King, because the King really stands in politics for his Prime Minister, the court of which he also is the head and centre, the pivot around which he turns—well it is not one of the things that tends to elevate and improve the country. It tends to develop all sorts of corruption, all sorts of luxury and all sorts of immorality. The court centre in any country has never, in the history of the world, for more than a very short period proved anything, through the centuries, but a centre from which vice and wrong ideals emanated. Now, with regard to the oath, I say to anyone—go truthfully and take this oath, take it. If they take it under duress there may be some excuse for them, but let them remember that nobody here took their Republican Oath under duress. They took it knowing that it might mean death; and they took it meaning that. And when they took that oath to the Irish Republic they meant, I hope, every honest man and every woman—I know the women—they took it meaning to keep it to death. Now what I have against that oath is that it is a dishonourable oath. It is not a straight oath. It is an oath that can be twisted in every imaginable form. You have heard the last speaker explain to you that this oath meant nothing; that it was a thing you could walk through and trample on; that in fact, the Irish nation could publicly pledge themselves to the King of England, and that you, the Irish people, could consider yourselves at the same time free, and not bound by it. Now, I have here some opinions, English opinions, as to what the oath is; but mind you, when you swear that oath the English people believe you mean it. Lloyd George, in the House of Commons on the 14th December said: "The main operation of this scheme is the raising of Ireland to the status of a Dominion of the British Empire with a common citizenship, and by virtue of that membership in the Empire, and of that common citizenship, owing allegiance to the King—— (Mr. R. MacNeill: Owning allegiance.) and swearing allegiance to the King." For the moment I will confine myself to the statement that there has been complete acceptance of allegiance to the British Crown and acceptance of membership in the Empire, and acceptance of common citizenship; that she (Ireland) has accepted allegiance to the Crown and partnership in the same Empire. Mr. Winston Churchill in the House of Commons on the 15th December, 1921, said: "In our view they promise allegiance to the Crown and membership of the Empire. (Hon. Members: No, no.) That is our view. The oath comprises acceptance of the British Constitution, which is, by Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution, exactly assimilated to the Constitution of our Dominions. This oath is far more precise and searching than the ordinary oath which is taken elsewhere. (Hon. Members: No, no.) It mentions specifically membership of the Empire, common citizenship, and faithfulness to the Crown, whereas only one of these matters is dealt with in the Dominion Oath." Now here is a curious thing. Sir W. Davidson asked why should they not take the Canadian Oath, and the answer by Mr. Churchill is this: "The oath they are asked to take is more carefully and precisely drawn than the existing oath, and it was chosen because it was more acceptable to the people whose allegiance we are seeking, and whose incorporation in the British Empire we are certainly desirous of securing.""Sir L. Worthington Evans: What does ‘as by law established' mean? It means that presently—next Session—we shall be asked in this House to establish a Constitution for the Irish Free State, and part of the terms of the settlement will be that the members who go to serve in that Free State Parliament will have to swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution as passed by this House of Commons. How is it possible to say that within the terms of that oath they can set up a Republic and still maintain their oath?" Now here is one important extract I want to read to you on this point: "Sir L. Worthington Evans: Then it was suggested by the hon. member for Burton that this oath contained no allegiance to the Throne, but merely fidelity to the King. I have not time to go into the history of the oaths which have from time to time been taken in this Parliament, but I did have time while the hon. member was speaking to look up Anson on Constitutional Law, and I extracted this: ‘There were at one time three oaths. There was the Oath of Allegiance'—and this is how Anson defines it—‘it was a declaration of fidelity to the reigning sovereign.' That is precisely what this is, a declaration of fidelity to the reigning sovereign. ... But Anson's description of the Oath of Allegiance is that it was a declaration of fidelity to the throne, so that in this oath as included in the Treaty we have got this: we have got the Oath of Allegiance in the declaration of fidelity, ‘I will be faithful to His Majesty King George V., his heirs and successors by law.' And we have got something in addition—a declaration of fidelity to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established: and in further addition, we have the declaration of fidelity to the Empire itself." Now, personally, I being an honourable woman, would sooner die than give a declaration of fidelity to King George or the British Empire. I saw a picture the other day of India, Ireland and Egypt fighting England, and Ireland crawling out with her hands up. Do you like that? I don't. Now, if we pledge ourselves to this oath we pledge our allegiance to this thing, whether you call it Empire or Commonwealth of Nations, that is treading down the people of Egypt and of India. And in Ireland this Treaty, as they call it, mar dheadh, that is to be ratified by a Home Rule Bill, binds us to stand by and enter no protest while England crushes Egypt and India. And mind you, England wants peace in Ireland to bring her troops over to India and Egypt. She wants the Republican Army to be turned into a Free State Army, and mind, the army is centred in the King or the representative of the King. He is the head of the army. The army is to hold itself faithful to the Commonwealth of Nations while the Commonwealth sends its Black-and-Tans to India. Of course you may want to send the Black-and-Tans out of this country. Now mind you, there are people in Ireland who were not afraid to face them before, and I believe would not be afraid to face them again. You are here labouring under a mistake if you believe that England, for the first time in her life, is treating you honourably. Now I believe, and we are against the Treaty believing, that England is being more dishonourable and acting in a cleverer way than she ever did before, because I believe we never sent cleverer men over than we sent this time, yet they have been tricked. Now you all know me, you know that my people came over here in Henry VIII.'s time, and by that bad black drop of English blood in me I know the English —that's the truth. I say it is because of that black drop in me that I know the English personally better perhaps than the people who went over on the delegation. (Laughter).
Why didn't you go over?
Why didn't you send me? I tell you, don't trust the English with gifts in their hands. That's not original, someone said it before of the Greeks—but it is true. The English come to you to-day offering you great gifts; I tell you this, those gifts are not genuine. I tell you, you will come out of this a defeated nation. No one ever got the benefits of the promises the English made them. It seems absurd to talk to the Irish people about trusting the English, but you know how the O'Neills and the O'Donnells went over and always came back with the promises and guarantees that their lands would be left them and that their religion would not be touched. What is England's record? It was self-aggrandisement and Empire. You will notice how does she work—by a change of names. They subjugated Wales by giving them a Prince of Wales, and now they want to subjugate Ireland by a Free State Parliament and a Governor-General at the head of it. I could tell you something about Governor-Generals and people of that sort. You can't have a Governor-General without the Union Jack, and a suite, and general household and other sort of official running in a large way. The interests of England are the interests of the capitalistic class. Your Governor-General is the centre for your Southern Unionists, for whom Mr. Griffith has been so obliging. He is the centre from which the anti-Irish ideals will go through Ireland, and English ideals will come: love of luxury, love of wealth, love of competition, trample on your neighbours to get to the top, immorality and divorce laws of the English nation. All these things you will find centred in this Governor-General. I heard there was a suggestion—there was a brother of the King's or the Queen's suggested as Governor-General, and I heard also that this Lascelles was going to be Governor. I also heard that there is a suggestion that Princess Mary's wedding is to be broken off, and that the Princess Mary is to be married to Michael Collins who will be appointed first Governor of our Saorstát na hEireann. All these are mere nonsense. You will find that the English people, the rank and file of the common people, will all take it that we are entering their Empire and that we are going to help them. All the people who are in favour of it here claim it to be a step towards Irish freedom, claim it to be nothing but allegiance to the Free State. Now what will the world think of it? What the world thinks of it is this: Ireland has long been held up to the scorn of the world through the British Press. According to that Press Ireland is a nation that lay down, that never protested. The people in other countries have scorned us. So Ireland can bear to be scorned again, even if she takes the oath that pledges her support to the Commonwealth of Nations. But I say, what do Irishmen think in their own hearts? Can any Irishman take that oath honourably and then go back and prepare to fight for an Irish Republic or even to work for the Republic? It is like a person going to get married plotting a divorce. I would make a Treaty with England once Ireland was free, and I would stand with President de Valera in this, that if Ireland were a free Republic I would welcome the King of England over here on a visit. But while Ireland is not free I remain a rebel, unconverted and unconvertible. There is no word strong enough for it. I am pledged as a rebel, an unconvertible rebel, because I am pledged to the one thing—a free and independent Republic. Now we have been sneered at for being Republicans by even men who fought for the Republic. We have been told that we didn't know what we meant. Now I know what I mean—a state run by the Irish people for the people. That means a Government that looks after the rights of the people before the rights of property. And I don't wish under the Saorstát to anticipate that the directors of this and the capitalists' interests are to be at the head of it. My idea is the Workers' Republic for which Connolly died. And I say that that is one of the things that England wishes to prevent. She would sooner give us Home Rule than a democratic Republic. It is the capitalists' interests in England and Ireland that are pushing this Treaty to block the march of the working people in England and Ireland. Now, we were offered a Treaty in the first place because England was in a tight place. She wanted her troops for more dirty work elsewhere. Because Dáil Eireann was too democratic, because her Law Courts were too just, because the will of the people was being done, and justice was being done, and the wellbeing of the people was considered, the whole people were behind us. You talk very glibly about England evacuating the country. Has anybody questioned that? How long did it take her to evacuate Egypt? What guarantee have we that England will do more than begin to evacuate Ireland directly the Treaty has been ratified? She will begin to evacuate, I have no doubt; she will send a certain number of troops to her other war fronts. Now there is one Deputy—not more than one, I hope— who charged that we rattled the bones of the dead. I must protest about the phrase of rattling the bones of our dead. Now I would like to ask where would Ireland stand without the noble dead? I would like to ask can any of you remember, as I can, the first time you read Robert Emmet's speech from the dock? Yes, it is all very well for those who now talk Dominion Home Rule to try to be scornful of the phrases ——voices of men from the grave, who call on us to die for the cause they died for. I don't think it is fair to say what dead men might say if they had been here to-day. What I do think fair is to read the messages they left behind them, and to mould our lives with them. James Connolly said, the last time I heard him speak—he spoke to me and to others— a few phrases that very much sum up the situation to-day. It was just before Easter Week in 1916. We had heard the news that certain people had called off the Rising. One man wishing to excuse them, to exonerate them, said: "So and so does not care to take the responsibility of letting people go to their death when there is so little chance of victory.""Oh," said Connolly, "there is only one sort of responsibility I am afraid of and that is preventing the men and women of Ireland fighting and dying for Ireland if they are so minded." That was almost the last word that was said to me by a man who died for Ireland, a man who was my Commandant, and I have always thought of that since, and I have always felt that that was a message which I had to deliver to the people of Ireland. We hear a great deal of the renewal of warfare. I am of quite a pacific mind. I don't like to kill. I don't like death, but I am not afraid to die and, not being afraid to die myself, I don't see why I should say that I should take it for granted that the Irish people were not as ready to die now in this year 1922, any more than they were afraid in the past. I fear dishonour; I don't fear death, and I feel at all events that death is preferable to dishonour; and sooner than see the people of Ireland take that oath meaning to build up your Republic on a lie, I would sooner say to the people of Ireland: "Stand by me and fight to the death." I think that a real Treaty between a free Ireland and a free England—with Ireland standing as a free sovereign state—I believe it would be possible to get that now; but even if it were impossible, I myself would stand for what is noblest and what is truest. That is the thing that to me I can grasp in my nature. I have seen the stars, and I am not going to follow a flickering will-o'-the-wisp, and I am not going to follow any person juggling with constitutions and introducing petty tricky ways into this Republican movement which we built up—you and not I—because I have been in jail. It has been built up and are we now going back to this tricky Parliamentarianism, because I tell you this document is nothing else. Pierce Beasley gave us to understand that this is the beginning of something great and that Ireland is struggling to be born. I say that the new Ireland was born in Easter Week, 1916, that Ireland is not struggling to be born. I say that the Irish language has begun to grow, that we are pushing it in the schools, and I don't see that giving up our rights, that going into the British Empire is going to help. In any case the thing is not what you might call a practical thing. It won't help our commerce, but it is not that; we are idealists believing in and loving Ireland, and I believe that Ireland held by the Black-and-Tans did more for Ireland than Ireland held by Parliamentarianism—the road that meant commercial success for those who took it and, meaning other things, meant prestige for those who took it. But there is the other stony road that leads to ultimate freedom and the regeneration of Ireland; the road that so many of our heroes walked, and I, for one, will stand on the road with Terence MacSwiney and Kevin Barry and the men of Easter Week. I know the brave soldiers of Ireland will stand there, and I stand humbly behind them, men who have given themselves for Ireland, and I will devote to it the same amount that is left to me of energy and life; and I stand here to-day to make the last protest, for we only speak but once, and to ask you read most carefully, not to take everything for granted, and to realise above all that you strive for one thing, your allegiance to the men who have fought and died. But look at the results. Look at what we gain. We gained more in those few years of fighting than we gained by parliamentary agitation since the days of O'Connell. O'Connell said that Ireland's freedom was not worth a drop of blood. Now I say that Ireland's freedom is worth blood, and worth my blood, and I will willingly give it for it, and I appeal to the men of the Dáil to stand true. They ought to stand true and remember what God has put into your hearts and not to be led astray by phantasmagoria. Stand true to Ireland, stand true to your oaths, and put a little trust in God.
Before I proceed to speak I think it would be well that the Dáil should consider the advisability of adjourning for lunch. I intend to speak for perhaps an hour—I may speak for two hours. It is entirely a matter for myself at the moment. But if you desire I should begin now, very well.
(The House signified its wish that Mr. Walsh should go on).
A Chinn Chomhairle, agus a cháirde, is gá dhom focal nó dhó do rá in ár dteangain dhúchais féin. Sílim gur cheart dúinn an díospóireacht so do dhéanamh go breá réidh agus gan aon duine do chur éinní i leith aon duine eile anois ná as so amach. I have been, perhaps, noted in the past for a certain amount of bluntness and directness which has made me unpopular with a great majority of the Dáil (cries of "No! no!"). Well, I certainly have interpreted that feeling in my own mind, and I am now glad to hear that it is not the feeling of my co-members. But I must confess that there were certain principles on which we were all in agreement, and these principles, if I correctly understand them, have been pretty sharply turned down by the members of the Dáil in opposition here to-day. I have since my advent into the political arena understood that we were here to express the voice of the people; that we were here to typify the consent of the governed; that we were here to speak for the majority of the people. Now, my friends, I have, unlike other people, made it my business to visit my constituency in the interval since the adjournment over Christmas. The City of Cork has played a not unimportant part in the events of the last four or five years; and though I have not counted heads, nor taken a vote of the people, I will honestly, as a plain, honest man, say that I feel that nine out of every ten people in Cork City are in favour of the ratification of this Treaty. I have met prominent public men in my constituency and they assure me that they themselves have not met one single human being in Cork City opposed to the Treaty. Now I am stating what is an honest, straight fact. Some of you assume that if you voted, or if you should vote for this Treaty, you are violating your own conscience. I don't know that you have any right to intrude your conscience on the question of the lives and the liberties of your people. Your people have not asked you to take this oath, but they have asked you to ratify the Treaty. And be very clear on these two points. You need not necessarily take the oath if you don't want to; but you are certainly bound in conscience, and more strictly bound than by any oath the British Government can impose, to follow and execute the will of the people, the will that you swear you can't carry out, when you were elected by the strongest oath you could take. We hear a lot about unity. The majority of the Boards of the country have made it clear that, regardless of unity, this Treaty must be ratified. (Opposition cries of "No!") I will venture to say that 95 per cent. of the people of this country who have had an opportunity of expressing themselves have definitely asserted that it is their view that the Treaty meets with their requirements for the time being. (Opposition cries of "No!") Yes (laughter). It is not the Southern Unionists who have asked you to support the Treaty. The Comhairlí Ceanntair are not Southern Unionists, the Sinn Féin Clubs are not Southern Unionists, the County Councils of the country are not Southern Unionists. The whole nation and all the public bodies of this country are not Southern Unionists; but they are as good Republicans as you are, and you know it. They see an opportunity of expressing themselves on matters which mean the life and death of the nation.
Take the 1916 Rising for example.
Now we hear a lot about unity. The Cork City electorate in the Municipal Elections of 1920 only voted 50 per cent. for the Republican candidates—slightly over 50 per cent.— twenty-eight or twenty-nine candidates. If we were to ask the people of Cork to vote for or against the Treaty we would have 90 per cent. voting for it. That is a unity that this country, neither for a Republic nor at any other stage of its history, ever enjoyed. I have met a number of men who have said that this Dáil has spent too much time discussing oaths. I have met one man who reminded me of a certain imperishable phrase which the predecessor of the present ex-Kaiser used with regard to the lawyers in his country. Frederick the Great, on his visit to France, was asked how many lawyers he had in Germany, and he said: "One, and when I go back I will hang that one" (laughter). Now, there are a great many pro-Germans in Ireland to-day. The Irish people are thoroughly fed up with this ju-jitsu exposition and things of that nature. I may tell you that I have a very elastic mind on oaths. I do not say that oaths are not a very forceful issue with me as between me and my country. If, for instance, a British soldier during the last half-dozen years offered me a rifle on condition that I would take this oath, I would take it. I assure you I would keep on taking it for a month if I could get a rifle and ammunition by taking this oath. The taking of a meaningless and harmless oath would not prevent me. Now, I hold my own individual view on that, and I don't ask other people to hold that view. A similar question arose at the G.A.A., a few years ago, and I expressed a similar view. War knows no principles, and you who have lived through the last half-dozen years will not deny the truth of that statement. There are certain points troubling very seriously genuine friends of this Treaty—points which I desire to deal with here to-day; but before I introduce that matter, I would like to say in fairness to myself, and in fairness to my constituents, that there is one thing in the Treaty that I dislike and that is the retention of our ports. Now, nobody has told me how we are to rid ourselves of that. The British Army and Navy alone dominate the situation. There are certain points which, undoubtedly, are troubling genuine friends of this Treaty. One of them may be summed up in this. They say now that when Ireland regains some material prosperity, when she gets on her feet, when the people get rich, that they will lose the grádh for independence. Now I heard the very same arguments when I was very young. I heard it said—I happened to be a country boy—there are a great many country boys here and the country boy differs very materially from the city boy—and I remember when a youngster going to school being told by my companions that the Land Legislation which was then being passed would mean the downfall of the national ideal, and that the extension of the Local Government powers would do the same. Now it was not the country boys said that, but the London Times. Now, I ask you, did any of the farmers of Ireland prove the truth of that? Were they not the back-bone of the fight through which we have gone—notwithstanding that they have enjoyed a prosperity which they didn't anticipate? Indeed, the well-to-do farmers were the great backers of our fight. You may as well say that it is essential to reduce one's body to proverty to save one's soul. I never heard any theologian advancing that argument, and I don't suppose I would be an enthusiastic backer of it, nor do I suppose that those who are opposed to me would follow it (laughter). It is not necessary to pauperise the body to save the soul, nor to pauperise the body of this country to save the soul of this country. Others of those opposed to the Treaty say that when the old feud would terminate our country would be drawn closer to England. I say that instead of being drawn closer that we will be drawn further away from England by virtue of being drawn closer to the universe. If this Treaty is adopted this country, instead of being cut off, will be opened up through its trade routes, its consuls and ambassadors, and through its various means of communication through the whole world. So much for that point. I have heard quite a lot of play with the unfortunate or, perhaps, slip phrase used by the Deputy from Offaly some time ago. He said that this nation is going into the Empire with its hands up. Well, I ask you, are we out of the Empire under our Republic? (Cries of “Yes!”). To begin with, my friends, you talk of a Republic for all Ireland. Your Cabinet has told you by virtue of the fact that you exclude North-East Ulster that you only recognise the Republic for three-quarters of Ireland. Now let us keep to facts. You say that you are marching into the British Empire with your hands up— you say that we who are favouring the Treaty are doing so. Let us consider the position we are in to-day. We have in this country been forced, under an ideal Republic, to utilise the Postal and Telegraph service of the British Government. We have been forced in order to get claims endorsed to go into their law courts, to carry their soldiers, police and sailors on our railroads. We have come here under a British Act of Parliament, and we meet here to-day with the consent of the British Government. That is the position, and you call yourself a Free Republic. You have an ideal, and an ideal only, and anything provided in this Act does not rob you of that ideal; and I say to you that you who oppose this Treaty are inconsistent in this, because we propose to remove the inconsistency which I have mentioned and make it consistent. It has been mentioned here to-day, and I certainly felt very keenly when making up my mind with regard to the outlook of the people in India and Egypt. We feel that because they have travelled a hard road with us that it would be unfair to abandon them without just cause. Now, have we abandoned them? Take your memory back to August last. How much fighting had you in Egypt and India in those days? And how much to-day? It is not disaster but success, and it is the success of the Irish Free State which has made the position in India and Egypt which you find to-day. We have not heard a great lot about Ulster since the opening of the proceedings. I wonder if any of you Deputies ever thought it possible, under any set of circumstances as long as the British Empire existed, to establish a Republic for Ireland? (Opposition cries of “Yes”). Well, I am sorry that in my highest flights of imagination I can't come up to your level. Now, assume that you hadn't, and the affirmative was lacking in that emphaticness which I expected—at any rate I assume that the most you people had in your minds at any time was a Republic for three-fourths of Ireland. (Cries of “No, no!”). Now that was what you had in reality asked, and you have endorsed it by the fact that you have thrown NorthEast Ulster overboard. Now, I assume there are individuals here who don't agree. I am honest enough to admit that. But the one thing that you had to face is, the alternative for a Republic for three-fourths of Ireland was the unity of all Ireland, and you could never get that unity you insisted on. A Republic would definitely alienate the North-East Ulster corner and divide our unfortunate country into two separate and distinct areas and into two races for all time. That's the programme you have brought forward. I hold that Ulster is the very important clause of the Treaty which we consider, and to this our opponents have not, in any single instance, given any consideration. They have taken it for granted that our plenipotentiaries were jockeyed by the Prime Minister into that position. I believe the situation was otherwise. Had I believed that this Treaty would leave Ireland a permanently divided nation I would vote against it. Now, some of you took sufficient interest in the Boer War. Those who were rebels in those days took sufficient interest in the fate of the Boer Republics. At their surrender they specified four conditions: (1) Foreign relations; (2) to accept a Protectorate of Great Britain; (3) to surrender the ports and territory of the South African Republics; and (4) to conclude a defensive alliance with Great Britain. England refused to accept these rather humiliating conditions made on the part of the Boers; and insisted on unconditional surrender. At the same time she gave a verbal guarantee that, provided the Boers didn't resume the fight, their nation would not be destroyed. Now, the Boer soldiers were in as good a position to resume the fight as we are, and they could continue the fight and bring about a state of hari kari, and submit to the inevitable. To save the nation they accepted England's conditions. And what do you find to-day? You find the hitherto divided states sealed up into a solid Boer bloc in South Africa, one solid force in a position to re-assume the Republican ideal at any time they like. What did the Germans do when pressed by the Allies in the late war? Did the Germans say to the Allies: “Because of the principles which we have to abandon by your occupation of any part of our territory, and by your limitations on our finances, we refuse to come to any terms with you. We will continue to resist your army through every part of Germany, even if it means the destruction of every man and woman and house in Germany?” No, they did not. They said: “The thing, the programme for us, is to save as much as we can of our territory, and on that territory we are to rebuild and make the fatherland.” And what happened? In the brief interval of three years Germany has brought about no less than seven modifications of the Treaty of Versailles. That is what we ask you to do. It has been mentioned here that our Parliament is to some extent like Grattan's Parliament, and it was suggested as a very good thing that this Grattan's Parliament was discontinued or abolished. Now, if Grattan's Parliament with all its limitations had continued in operation, would our country have gone through the famine period? Would our country have suffered the humiliations of '48 or '67, or would it have needed them? Or would our country have been lying helplessly in its grave a few years ago when we took up the cudgels? No, it would have saved the population, saved its industries, conserved its manhood, and when the time came during the Crimean War, or the Boer War, or any other of the shaky positions in which the British Empire found itself, the Irish nation could have regained its liberty. That is what Grattan's Parliament would have done, and that is what this Treaty now provides and will do for the Irish nation. Instead of that you propose that it should simply commit suicide— wipe itself out and remain helpless for all time. You say: “Why should we follow in the rôle of a Dominion?” There is no reason if we could help it, but we can't help it. Is there any alternative? Will any member of this Dáil guarantee to me that those Dominions at which some people have laughed so heartily during the last fortnight—will anybody guarantee that they will still be Dominions or that they won't be Republics within twelve years; and will anyone say to me that Francis Feehily in Australia, or Laurier in Canada, are going to be definitely deferred or dispelled by anything that you can enlighten us on to-day? And if they can become Republics in our lifetime, what about us? I don't blame the Cabinet for breaking away from the Republican position. Our country and England had to face a definite situation, and this situation which is brought about by the Treaty is purely the resultant of opposing forces. The feelings of the Irish people are responsible for that departure, because the Irish people would not resume war, nor consent to the resumption of war by anybody standing on the bed-rock of the Republic. The opposing opinions here, though in no way proportionate to the feeling of the country, are, in my opinion, based on a frank and perfect honesty. We find ourselves as a body of men at the cross-roads. We see the objective at the distance. One party determines to go right through to that objective though a mighty and impassable gulf intervenes. They say it does not matter, even though it does mean hampering, so that it is a short road. The other people say: let us take the long road; it is the surer. Similarly, if we proceed on the assumption that we are military tacticians—I don't claim to be a military tactician—I have done very little fighting in my life, but as an ordinary civilian I will put it this way to the military tacticians. We found ourselves in 1914 with a dozen strong entrenchments separating us from complete victory. In the interval we have brought down eleven of these impediments, and we find that by rushing the twelfth and last one that it means our annihilation, our defeat and demoralisation, and instead of those of us who are voting for the Treaty—instead of submitting ourselves to that demoralisation, we are entrenching here; we wait for reinforcements and we wait for supplies, and at an opportune moment we march on. I was once in America on a holiday. It cost me three pounds to get over and three pounds to get back. At any rate I have seen the Continent of America. I found myself on one occasion on the southern bank of the Niagara. Now I wanted to get across; there was a bridge a little distance up; a Yankee who came along offered to enlighten me on the best way to get there. “What's the best way to get across?” I asked. “Well,” said he, “if you mean the shortest, the most direct way, jump in and swim.” That is what the opponents of this Treaty proposed to the people of Ireland.
Adjourned at 1.30.
On resumption the SPEAKER took the Chair at 3.30 p.m.
I crave just a couple of minutes to make a personal explanation. When the Deputy for a Division of Dublin was speaking to-day I was not present. She made reference to my name and to the name of a lady belonging to a foreign nation that I cannot allow to pass without making this reference to. Some time in our history as a nation a girl went through Ireland and was not insulted by the people of Ireland. I do not come from the class that the Deputy for the Dublin Division comes from; I come from the plain people of Ireland. The lady whose name was mentioned is, I understand, betrothed to some man. I know nothing of her personally, I know nothing of her in any way whatever, but the statement may cause her pain, and may cause pain to the lady who is betrothed to me (hear, hear). I just stand in that plain way, and I will not allow without challenge any Deputy in the assembly of my nation to insult any lady either of this nation or of any other nation (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle, tá beagán agamsa le rá agus ní bhead ach cúpla nóimeat á rá. As I have no doubt the other Deputies are as speech weary as I am, you will be glad to hear that what I have to say will be said in a few moments. I am not going to dictate to the Deputies on the duty they owe to their constituents or any thing else like that. I am not going to charge any man with betrayal, or impugn any man's honour, because I look upon every Deputy of Dáil Eireann as my comrade, and no word or act of mine, either here or outside, will, I trust, break that bond of comradeship (hear, hear). I am against the Treaty on principle, and on principle alone. I have heard it stated that we should vote as our constituents wish us to vote, because they are our masters. I agree that they are the masters of our political thought but they are not and can not be the captains of our souls. Is it seriously put up as an argument that if, say, 90 per cent. of our constituents at any time during the past two or three years were to have told us that the interests of Ireland could best be served by our going across to the British House of Commons, we should have gone there?
They did not do that.
If tomorrow or next week our constituents were to order us, with a view to securing Ireland's material interests, to become Freemasons, are we to immediately begin to save up the price of a trowel and apron? (Laughter). I have as great a respect and as a deep a regard for my constituents as any Deputy in this assembly. I admit they have a perfect right to deride me, to repudiate any action of mine, and to kick me out at the first opportunity; but I deny absolutely that they have any right to direct or command my conscience. I have a few resolutions here in my pocket—just four from the whole County of Clare—and I know how some of these resolutions have been passed.
I know this also: in my opposition to the Treaty I know that I am not misrepresenting those who have the best influence in the constituency.
I am not. I have made it my business to find out and I know what I am saying.
So do we.
Interruptions will not make me say one word more than this on that particular point: I went down to Clare on Christmas Eve fully satisfied in my mind that in opposing this Treaty I was doing what was right. A week later I came back from Clare doubly satisfied I was doing right (hear, hear). I am against this on principle alone. I suppose that is a sentimental reason, a hopelessly ignorant reason, a reason of the heart but not of the head, the reason of a man without vision. Principle has been sneered at in every generation by those who have abandoned principle, and earnestly I ask the Deputies here not to sneer at those who stand for principle in these days, because the history of these days has yet to be written.
I am for the Treaty on principle alone.
When I speak of principle and conscience I must necessarily speak of the oath embodied in the Treaty. In my sentimental, hopelessly ignorant attitude towards it, I must be guided, not by lawyers or Doctors' of Divinity, or the Press, or by my constituents, but by my own conscience. My conscience tells me the oath embodied in the Treaty signed in London is an oath of loyalty to the English King; an admission that the King of England is King, also, of Ireland, that I am a British subject, that my children are British subjects; and such an admission I never intend to make so long as I have control of my will and reason, no matter what material advantage it may be supposed to gain for Ireland. I am not going to assert that the dead would do this or that. I have too much reverence and too much love for the dead to make such an assertion, or to drag them into this debate at all; but I will say one word about the men of Easter Week, living and dead. It has been suggested it would be no more dishonourable for us to take this oath and go into the British Empire than it was for the men of Easter Week to surrender. When we laid down our arms in O'Connell Street on the Saturday evening of Easter Week, we did so in duress, but we surrendered only our arms and the military position we had taken up; we did not surrender the Irish Republic, nor the historic Irish nation. We did not swear to be loyal subjects to the English King, nor acknowledge him as King of Ireland. That was war on a grand scale, in the Mount Street Bridge area, in Stephen's Green, at the South Dublin Union, in the General Post Office, and other places during Easter Week. But when these positions were surrendered the Irish nation was not asked by the leaders of the rising to swear loyalty to King George, his heirs and successors; so it is an insult to the men and women of Easter Week to compare their honourable surrender with the surrender proposed to us now. I should like to pay a tribute to one Deputy in particular who has spoken here, Deputy Robert Barton. He admitted he was weak in London, and broke his oath to the Republic——
Did we? Answer me that question. Did we break our oaths to the Republic? (Cries of "Order, order!").
I am paying a tribute to Deputy Robert Barton.
When the threats of terrible and immediate war were held over his head——
We did not give a damn for terrible and immediate war.
If Mr. Barton was weak in London he has been strong here (laughter and cheers). He has revealed the strength of a true man (laughter). And his statement will be the most thought-compelling page in the history of these proceedings (hear, hear, and renewed laughter). I cannot claim to have done anything worth talking about for Ireland, but during twenty years I have tried in a minor, fifth-rate way to convey to the common people of Ireland—my own people—the message of the brave men and women of our race who have stood for right against wrong. I shall continue to do so as long as God gives me strength to do it, whether this Treaty be ratified or not. I have taken only one oath in all my life, and I cannot now take another that, rightly or wrongly—it may be wrongly—I believe would make me a perjurer. I won't surrender the one ideal and dream of my life—an independent Irish Ireland, and so I mean to vote against the Treaty. (Applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a cháirde, ní choiméadfad abhfad sibh. An chuid is mó atá le rá agam tá sé ráite ag na Teachtaí cheana. Ach is dócha nách díobháil dom labhairt chun a innsint cé an fáth go bhfuil mo thuairimí fé mar atáid. I would like to agree with the last speaker that it would be much more seemly if there was no attempt to bring in in any way into these discussions, which are rendered sometimes exasperating, the names of those who made the supreme sacrifice for the freedom of Ireland. And I would like particularly to say that I hate the phrase which has been used here—that of rattling the bones of the dead. In this matter that is before us I recognise only one principle. That principle is an obligation in making my choice here to choose that which, in my judgment, will be best for the Irish nation both in the immediate future and ultimately. I believe that I must exercise my judgment freely in that matter. I believe that in making my choice I am not fettered by the oath I took as a member of this Dáil. I believe that if I hold myself back from doing what I believe would be best for the Irish nation because it conflicted with the terms of that oath, it would be doing wrong, because I took that oath as President de Valera took it—as an oath to do my best for the freedom of the Irish nation. That was the purpose that I bound myself to by that oath, and I would be false alike to the oath and the purpose of the oath if I held to the mere terms of it against my judgment of what was best for the Irish nation at the present time. Republicanism is with me not a national principle but a political preference. I am against monarchy, because I believe monarchies in the world as it is to-day are effete and out of date. I believe the Irish people, when they voted for a Republican majority in this Dáil, and when they declared themselves for an Irish Republic, were not thinking of constitutional privileges very much, but were thinking of the complete freedom of Ireland (hear, hear). I think that is the ideal for which the Irish people have declared. I think that, like myself, they have a preference for the Republican form of Government, because I do not see how anybody could, at the present day, prefer any other form of Government; but I believe the main thing that was in their minds was the securing of the complete independence of Ireland. As far as I am concerned, I wanted the Irish Republic, as I believe the people of Ireland did, in order that Ireland might be free. With me the Republic was a means to an end and not an end in itself.
I believe in one sense the Republican form of Government which has been set up was a machine for the securing of Irish freedom (hear, hear). And I believe there is no more harm, if the interests of the nation demand it, in scrapping that machine than there is in scrapping any other machine which may be devised for securing the freedom of the country. I do not hold myself fettered in making my choice either by the oath which I took as a member of the Dáil, or by the fact that a Republic was declared, or that a Republican form of Government was set up in this country. In point of fact, I believe that the choice before us is not a choice between this Treaty and an Irish Republic, as it is understood by the majority of the Irish people. In actual fact, I think that the choice that has been before the Dáil, not only in this present Session, but since the negotiations began, has been a choice between —at any rate, the thing that has been before the Dáil since the negotiations began has been practically, and certainly for the majority of the members, the matter of external association. I am sure a good number of the members of the Dáil stand for nothing but the real Irish Republic—an isolated Republic. I think, undoubtedly, when the process of battering down the wall of the isolated Republic was begun, that by a majority of the Dáil the isolated, or, as I would call it, the real, Irish Republic was abandoned as being immediately unattainable. For me there is very little difference between external association and what we get in this Treaty. I realise very well how far short this Treaty falls of the ultimate ideals of the Irish people, and what its defects are. I stand for a Gaelic State. I realise the difficulties that are before us in arriving at a Gaelic State. I know how far Anglicisation has gone in this country. I know the close relationship there must be between this country and England in any circumstances on account of Trade and Commercial interests. I know our difficulties in arriving at a Gaelic State will be great enough without any close, friendly and intimate political relationships with England. It seems to me we will have practically the same amount of close, friendly and intimate political relationship with England under a scheme of external association as we would have under this Treaty. It seems to me that, while under external association we may retain the form of a Republican Government, if not the name of a Republic, we would have under it abandoned as much of the political control of the destinies of the Irish nation as under the Treaty. In fact, people who are willing to agree to external association and refuse to accept the Treaty seem to me to be the people who have swallowed the camel and are straining at the gnat. We have before us the alternatives of ratification and rejection. What would follow rejection is, I think, to a considerable extent, a matter of speculation. We would have chaotic conditions, certainly. If a bitter split on the Parnellite lines showed signs of developing, I do not think we would have war. The British would prefer a split; it would be better for them. If there were no split, or a split did not develop sufficiently, we might have war. As this is largely a choice of alternatives, more time might have been given to those who favour rejection of the Treaty to framing some idea of what would follow rejection. As to what would follow ratification, that largely depends on the idea—on your interpretation of the Treaty. I do not believe ratification would be followed by anything like the split, or could be followed by anything like the split that would follow rejection. I am not competent to expound the Treaty, or to interpret it from any sort of a legal point of view. The Treaty has not been really sufficiently expounded. Mr. Childers gave a very long and, as far as it went, a very fair interpretation of the Treaty. We were blamed for not listening to him with more avid attention. It seems to me that one of the reasons why he did not hold us was that practically all of what he said was common ground; he explained what the law was in Canada, and then, though with a good deal less emphasis, said that was practically cancelled by the phrase "practice and constitutional usage." And the main part of his argument was not of a constitutional nature at all, and not the sort of argument in which he could claim to have any sort of particular authority. He was arguing that the British would not keep to their terms of this Treaty, but of some other Treaty that might be signed.
That was really his argument, and I don't think it deserved—although it was very good (laughter and applause). Although not a lawyer at all there is a phrase in this first clause which has not been mentioned by any of the lawyers who have spoken, and it seems to me to be of considerable importance. It is in the second last line and reads: "A Parliament having power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Ireland, and an Executive responsible to that Parliament." Now an Executive responsible to the Parliament is more than, I think, in theory at any rate, they have in England. It seems to me if we take that phrase in conjunction with the rest of the Treaty it does away completely with the idea that the representative of the Crown could take any action whatever except on the advice of the Ministry of the Free State. I do not say he could not refuse formal assent to a Bill or anything of that sort, but it seems to me to put the representative of the Crown in the same position here, in regard to the Government, as the King of England occupies in England with regard to the British Cabinet. It seems to me that there is some ambiguity as to whether or not this oath is obligatory at all. It certainly, to my mind, is not made obligatory by Clause 4, but it may be made obligatory by Clause 2. Clause 4 only specifies the form of oath to be taken, and it quite differs from the clauses you see in the Canadian and other constitutions, where it says that every member of the House of Representatives, and the Senate and so forth, before taking a seat, shall take oath in the following form, and the form is then given. That has been departed from here. It may be held Clause 2 makes the oath obligatory, but Clause 2 seems to me only to relate to the position of the Irish Free State—"Subject to the provisions hereinafter set out the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and Government, and otherwise, shall be that of the Dominion of Canada, and the law, practice, and constitutional usage governing the relationship of the Crown or the Representative of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament to the Dominion of Canada, shall govern their relationship to the Irish Free State." That clause certainly states the relationship of the Crown to the Free State shall be that of Canada, but it does not state that the Constitution of the Irish Free State shall be the same as the Constitution of Canada, and it has been specifically stated it need not be the same. It is straining that clause to say that it specifies that a certain particular clause in the Canadian Constitution shall also be in the Irish Constitution, or that the clause puts on a member of Parliament a certain duty. Whether or not the oath is obligatory is certainly a matter that could be disputed. In regard to the oath there has been a lot of argument—and there have been some arguments, I think, not worthy of this assembly. There was one Deputy from the West who made a long oration about the manacles of slaves. That Deputy must have known that faithfulness was not the same as fealty. He is a lawyer and if he found the word "vehicle" in a document he would not proceed to argue it was a gig or a rickshaw. There has been a good deal said about the clauses in this Treaty in regard to North East Ulster. I think we abandoned the possibility of getting an absolutely united Ireland—that is, getting it immediately—when the President's letter of the 10th August was sent. In it he stated he would not use coercion, and said we were agreeable to outside arbitration. I did not like this, but I think in the situation that had developed nothing better could have been got, and I am the only member of the Dáil who comes of the people who are going to exclude themselves, or may exclude themselves, from the Free State. I know them. I have always believed that by suitable propaganda these people amongst whom the roots of nationality still exist, although you might say the stem and foliage have been sapped away—these people could eventually be brought to the side of the Irish nation, as they were a hundred years ago (applause). I also believe that they might be coerced, and I would stand for it that we have the right to coerce them, if we thought fit, and if we have the power to do so. But you can not coerce them and comfort them at the one time. As we pledged ourselves not to coerce them, it is as well that they should not have a threat of coercion over them all the time. I have no doubt under this business and under these arrangements, and the necessity they will feel for material reasons for union, combined with propaganda, these terms will lead in a comparatively short time to the union of that part of the country with the rest of Ireland. References have been made to the circumstances under which this Treaty was signed, and the fact that it was signed under a threat of war. I say these circumstances and that threat of war are necessary to make the Treaty acceptable to me, because, as I said, even external association is a good way short of our full right. I believe even if a better Treaty than this had been forthcoming, the plenipotentiaries would not have been entitled to sign it until it was clear that the alternative was war. A reference has been made to Mr. Barton. I do not want to be offensive at all, but it is as well that I should say what I have to say. I believe that the plenipotentiaries should have realised all along that a break might, and probably would, mean immediate war, and the plenipotentiaries should have made up their minds as to the exact point to which they would go rather than face immediate war. And I think if any plenipotentiary was put in a hole by the short time for making up their minds that was given on that last night by Mr. Lloyd George, that plenipotentiary was in a difficulty only because of his own negligence in making up his mind as to the distance to which it would be right for him to go, and the place at which he was prepared to choose war.
Again I say I do not want to be offensive, but it was either that or the plenipotentiary was so impressionable as to make him by temperament unfitted to bear the responsibility of a plenipotentiary. That is really how the matter stands, and I think the circumstances under which this Treaty was signed, except in so far as all the plenipotentiaries were convinced that the alternative was war, and no more was to be got, have no bearing on it at all (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a lucht na Dála, ba mbaith liom labhairt as Gaedhilg toisc gurb í an Ghaedhilg teanga oifigiúil na Dála, ach tá a lán anso ná tuigfeadh mé agus tá beirt anso ná tuigfeadh mé go h-áirithe agus ba mhaith liom dá dtuigfidís sin mé. Through many weary days of speech-making I have listened with patience, sometimes with pain, to many arguments about this Treaty. It grieved my very soul to hear some Deputies question the rights and authority of certain of our colleagues to sit and vote in this assembly. Let us recognise that we all have the same status here, and all are actuated by the one great motive, our country's good, but that we may reasonably come to widely different conclusions. We cannot get back to the position in which we stood on December 5th, 1921. The signing of the Treaty has completely altered the circumstances at home and abroad. Pity it is that these Articles of Agreement bear the signatures of our plenipotentiaries. Had this instrument been submitted unsigned to Dáil Eireann I feel convinced it would have been rejected by an overwhelming majority. The signing of it does not make it more acceptable, but we must base our arguments and our decision on a jait accompli. Let me not be misunderstood. I do not wish for a moment to impugn the honour or integrity of our plenipotentiaries. I feel that if I had been placed in their unenviable position in London I would have signed the Treaty. Having signed, I would, conscious of having done my best, bow to the decision of this assembly as to whether the Treaty were acceptable or not. That, I take it, is the position in which our plenipotentiaries find themselves to-day. Two problems have long confronted the Irish people—North-East Ulster and the British occupation. Did the Treaty offer a satisfactory solution of either problem with a probability of settling the second in a reasonable time, I think it should and would be accepted. The Treaty, however, does not conclusively settle either problem. It will not make for peace, domestic or international. The terms violate our territorial integrity; they make us British subjects and impose on us a Governor-General whose social circle will militate against the restoration of the Gaelic State which we must all endeavour to re-establish, if we are not to become West Britons. Is not the declaration of the Republic also a fait accompli, or have we been playing at Republicanism? Were we not in earnest when we sent ambassadors to claim the recognition of the world for the Republic?
With British passports and under the British flag. (Cries of "No interruptions").
We are told that we have secured the flag. What flag? Would there not be serious opposition to the adoption of the tri-colour as the flag of the Irish Free State? I much fear so. How is such opposition to be overcome, and if not overcome, whither does it lead? Will such opposition, suppressed or unpunished, make for stability and that peace we all so earnestly desire? In many debatable and vague clauses of the Treaty, especially the clauses relating to allegiance, financial adjustment, and North-East boundaries, lie the fruitful seeds of misunderstanding and strife. There is no use in disguising the fact that this Treaty, if accepted, will be ratified because the alternative is the dread arbitrament of war. I have been down among my constituents chiefly in South Galway. The Comhairle Ceanntair of that Division at a recent meeting, at which I was present, voted unanimously in favour of ratification. But the delegates stated, one and all, that this Treaty does not meet the nation's demand, and that they so voted because they believed the alternative to be a war of extermination. 'Tis hard to blame the war-weary people for clamouring for peace. But it should be put clearly on record that such votes are given under duress. Can a Treaty based on fear, naked and unashamed, be a sound basis for friendship between the two peoples? It is my opinion that lasting peace and friendship between the two peoples was feasible as we stood on December 5th. Whether such peace is practicable now is, at least, questionable. The bond of brotherhood is broken; the comradeship and unity that stood the severest test and won the admiration of the world have been sundered through the machinations of the cleverest of the British statesmen, Lloyd George. Can this national solidarity be restored and restored without delay? Can Dáil Eireann again command the unswerving loyalty of the people and their undivided support, moral and material? We are told that Dáil Eireann can no longer hope for this. The people have been stampeded. A venal Press that never stood for freedom and now with one voice advocates ratification has, by suppressio veri and suggestio falsi prejudiced the issue and biased public opinion (hear, hear). I attended a meeting of the East Galway Comhairle Ceanntair at which the voting was 18 to 8 in favour of ratification. The report in the metropolitan Press the next day would give one to understand that there was a unanimous decision in favour of the Treaty. Such sharp practice gives one furiously to think. The Chairman of the Delegation and the Minister for Finance made a strong case for ratification. This Treaty undoubtedly confers wide powers on the Irish people, far greater powers than were ever even demanded by our former representatives in the British House of Commons. But some of us believed that the time had gone by for seeking concessions. Under the terms of this Treaty we can undoubtedly develop the material resources of the country. But nations, like individuals, may fill their purses by emptying their souls. What is the nation? It is of yesterday, to-day and to-morrow. How the generations of our martyred dead would act at this juncture it is vain to argue. Few in this assembly were as intimately acquainted as I was with those who fell in Easter Week, '16. Of one, and only one, of those heroic men could I confidently assert that he would oppose ratification. I need scarcely state that. I refer to Tom Clarke. Can we of to-day, bowing to force majeure, accept this Treaty without dishonour in view of our oaths and of the Republic declared before the world? Those Deputies who have spoken in support of the Treaty maintain that this is not final settlement. Some of them advocate its adoption on the ground that it contains the seeds of future development, that it will broaden slowly down from precedent to precedent until we reach the goal of unfettered freedom. Their attitude is comprehensible and their sincerity unquestioned. I might suggest to them that this road under other guides may also lead rapidly to the sacrifice of principles to the Imperial ideal, to smug prosperity, and obese content. Other Deputies would use the powers obtained as an immediate level to secure full independence. Honour cannot stand rooted in dishonour, and maintain that such action is dishonour able even in dealing with England. Faith unfaithful to England's King cannot make us falsely true to Republicanism. Let at least our word be our bond. If we pledge our word, let us keep it in the letter and in the spirit. Honesty in politics and in international relations will eventually prove the better policy. We must, then, consider this Treaty on its merits, and as affected by existing circumstances. The great majority of the people are in favour of acceptance, lest worse befall. The views of our constituents should certainly have great weight with us, for they are our masters, they are the ultimate judges. There are, however, other circumstances to be considered. Had a vote been possible prior to the Rising of 1916, does any Deputy imagine that we would have received the sanction of 10 per cent. of our people? Yet the people now admit that our action was justified. Then again should a demand inspired by terror be hearkened to as the real voice of the people? It may be argued that in obtaining this Treaty we have done sufficient for our day, that our action does not bind coming generations. But then, can the path to freedom be thus conveniently arranged by stages? Those best qualified to judge hold that the economic situation makes it impossible for us to carry on the war for a year or two longer, even with a united front and the moral support of the people. This may be truly called a defeatist argument, but then the acceptance of this Treaty is an admission that once again we have been worsted in the game, that material might has vanquished moral right, that the weak must bow to the strong. We are not called on to decide between the Treaty and Document No. 2. Incidentally, it should be borne in mind that Document No. 2 was submitted to us, in confidence, for the specific purpose of achieving unity of action. This document contained no oath of any description.
The Cabinet Minutes do.
It is not signed by the British representatives.
Document No. 2 contains no oath whatever.
But the Minutes of the Cabinet do.
There were no Minutes; they were never kept or signed.
The many insinuations made to the contrary would awaken doubts as to the virtues of the Treaty that has to be supported by such methods, neither should a good Treaty need to be supported by revelations of verbal statements made at Cabinet meetings, especially when these revelations are made by one who was not a member of the Cabinet——
Mr. Erskine Childers.
Especially when these revelations were made by one who was not a member of the Cabinet, but was admitted to certain meetings as an act of grace. Such points, however cleverly put, are not relevant to the issue. We are concerned with the release of our country from a dilemma, not with liberating a cat from a bag.
On a point of order. Reference has been made to a person being admitted to certain meetings as an act of grace. I would like the President to say whether that is a correct description of the reasons for my attendance at certain Cabinet meetings.
It is not a point of order. That matter may arise afterwards as a personal explanation.
We are, as I said, concerned with liberating our country from a dilemma, and not liberating a cat from a bag. The immense labour of the latter performance may give us some idea of the task before us. As the eloquent Deputy for Tyrone was speaking a few days ago I recalled the words of the Latin poet "parturient montes et nascetur ridiculus mus.” I thought that, at least, a caterwauling litter would have come forth. The liberated cat must have been a tabby, such a chorus of welcome came from the supporters of the Welsh Wizard. The photograph of the gallant liberator adorned the pages of the English illustrated papers, and I scanned with disappointment the New Year's List of Honours. Let us eschew such special pleadings and such party tactics reminiscent of other days, and decide the question safely on its merits. Let no Deputy be influenced by any outside associations, no matter how sacred such associations might be in other circumstances. Guided by the light of conscience, the best interests of our country and the honour of our nation, let us, in God's name, lay aside personalities and do our duty fearlessly. (Applause).
What about the Welsh Wizard?
I have been asked what about the Welsh Wizard. I may say what I like about any English politician without offence to any member of the Dáil.
Mr. Frank Fahy has described me and others as followers of the Welsh Wizard, and he has just sat down saying "lay aside personalities."
I never said anyone here was a follower of the Welsh Wizard.
You described us as followers of the Welsh Wizard, and you won't get out of it.
What do you mean, Mr. Fahy?
We heard what you said, Mr. Fahy.
Yes, we heard all you said. Stand by your words.
I desire to make a personal explanation in connection with a remark in Mr. Fahy's speech; the reference could only be to me. He spoke of a person who attempted to make disclosures of something that took place at Cabinet meetings. That was more objectionable because the person was admitted to Cabinet meetings only as an act of grace. I did not think it would be necessary for me to explain why and how I came to attend Cabinet meetings, but as the question has been raised I will now explain. At the first meeting of the Dáil following the last election the President announced that he would have to have an inner Cabinet; that the large Ministry that was formerly admitted could not deal with matters of policy and the matters of these negotiations; and that therefore he would have to have an inner Cabinet of seven. I was seated behind him, and he turned to me and said: "I want you to attend Cabinet meetings and express your views on a position of absolute equality with the rest of us. If, in the unlikely event of a division, you, perhaps, had better not vote, but with the rest of us express your views quite freely." How does Mr. Fahy consider that as an act of grace? I never asked the President why he made that arrangement, and did not want to know, but I want to ask now is it fair to say that I was admitted to the Cabinet meetings as an act of grace, when I attended on the instructions of the President? (Hear, hear).
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a lucht na Dála. I suppose I am in the unenviable position of being the last lawyer that will speak in this assembly (laughter), but if I am I will not give you much law, constitutional or otherwise. I have often heard it said that the last leg of mutton is the sweetest. Well, I hope this will be something sweeter than what you have got before (laughter). I am not going to go into constitutional law, but I may say that I have been down with my constituents, and they have been talking a lot about constitutional law since the Dáil met. One of my constituents was speaking to me, and he used these words to me: "We are bewildered and moidered with high faluting talk about constitutional law. This constitutional law plus Magna Charta to whose right as ‘British Citizens' we were late entitled, did not stop the Crown forces from burning Cork and performing other acts into which we need not enter now, but which were certainly against constitutional law and Magna Charta. But we do feel certain of one thing; that is, if we once get the British forces out of Ireland, it will require more than constitutional law to get them back (Hear, hear). I can tell you, speaking for one of the largest constituencies in Ireland, that is how the people feel, and for that reason I made a solemn promise that I would talk no constitutional law when I came here. But I will talk common sense, and in trying to talk common sense I will try to be as brief as I can. I won't quote any law or any constitutional lawyer, but I will certainly say this: I am amazed at the tactics that have been adopted here by the opponents of the Treaty who say: "Don't trust Lloyd George,""Don't trust England or any English statesman," and, mind you, I greatly sympathise with them, but when they want to overwhelm and crush us, they get up and read long quotations from speeches of Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Worthington Evans, and others I know nothing about. That strikes me as rather peculiar. I say here as a lawyer that the slave mind seems very apparent there, where these men are quoted, and their words apparently, regarded as binding on us, and that we cannot go behind what they have said. I will certainly say this—I say I would back the opinion of the Minister of Finance on constitutional law against any Deputy who has spoken here, although one Deputy was held up as apparently the only man who knew anything about constitutional law. I would stake the opinion of the Minister of Finance before any tribunal, either national or international. We are told that the English when they give us this Treaty will humbug us, and that we won't be a match for them when it comes to framing a Constitution. In my opinion the Treaty has brought us a complete surrender, or a practically complete surrender, from England. Everything she said she would not give she has given. The Constitution that will be framed under the Treaty will be framed by Irishmen in Ireland, and the men who are able to meet Lloyd George, Worthington Evans and the other English delegates over there, and beat them at their own game, when it comes to framing a Constitution here I guarantee they will be able to beat them at their own game again (hear, hear). There was one point that was inclined to carry weight with me when I heard the Treaty discussed. Great capital was made out of the fact that four coastal towns would be reserved as naval bases. That is done in a clause of the Treaty. I would like to know if the clause was not there what would be done. I have to face my constituents again, although some people may never have to face theirs (laughter). I want to know one bit of information, and part of it can be given by the Minister of Finance, and portion by the Minister of Defence. The question I would like to ask is: If we are to take over immediately all our own coastal defences. I would like to know from the Minister of Defence whether and how we are to raise the fortifications that will be necessary to defend the coast; and what batteries, dreadnoughts, submarines, etc., will be necessary. When I have got that information from the Minister of Defence I would like to ask the Minister of Finance where the money is going to come from that is going to provide them and carry on the work of the rest of the country (laughter and applause). This Treaty does not give us completely what we want, but it brings us very near to what we want. I think that when division has come— and there is no good in saying it has not come—when the Cabinet is divided and the country is divided without any possibility of its being united in toto— where you have 95 per cent. of the people wanting the Treaty—it is our duty and our highest principle to accept the Treaty and work it. In a short time, by working that Treaty, not only would 95 per cent. of the people be satisfied, but 100 per cent.—the whole people of Ireland (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a lucht na Dála, is beag atá le rá agamsa. Leanfad dea-shompla na ndaoine nár fhan abhfad ag labhairt iniu. Táimse, agus tá furmhór na Dála, agus furmhór na ndaoine tuirseach de bheith ag éisteacht agus ag léigheamh óráidí lucht na Dála. Nílimse chun óráid do dhéanamh. Is beag atá le rá agamsa ar fad. Like most members of the Dáil I am thoroughly wearied of those speeches and appeals made on the question of the ratification or approval of the Treaty, and I think so are the people of the country. For my part I shall follow the example set to-day by, I think, most of the speakers, by being very brief. I am not going to appeal to any member of the Dáil, or to seek to influence the views of any member of the Dáil. I am concerned only with the views of and the vote of one member of the Dáil, and that is myself. I rather resent, myself, the series of lectures and appeals to which this House has been treated by all, or both, sides in this matter. I take the view that every member of the Dáil has sufficient brains and sufficient intelligence and a sufficient conception of his responsibility from every point of view to decide for himself or herself what the course of action to be taken is. There are just two things I want to make clear, and I shall finish—my position for myself, and my position with regard to the people I represent here. I may say, while I have deplored and do deplore the keen difference of opinion— the disruption—which has taken place in our assembly, which was wont to be so harmonious, I deplore perhaps still more the spirit in which it has been done. I deplore the fact that we, the members of the Dáil, could not differ —even on a question of the importance of the present one—without introducing bitterness or ill-feeling, and without charges or suggestions, either in public or in private. For my part, I take the view, and I should be very sorry if I took any other, that every member of this Dáil is actuated solely by a desire to do the best thing in the interests of Ireland, and the best thing in conformity with his or her adherence to the ideal of absolute Irish independence. I think it is perfectly clear that on no side of this question is there a monopoly of patriotism, a monopoly of common sense. Why we cannot here take different views without levelling charges at one another is beyond me, and is one of the things I regret, at least as much, if not more, than the difference itself. To-day, while a member was speaking, I heard an interruption from a member of the House near him. The Deputy was speaking against the Treaty, and the member said: "The country will fix you, too." Now I say what my constituents will do to me, is not a matter of indifference to me, but it is not a consideration which can influence me in my action in this matter. For my part, I am voting against the Treaty. I cannot, in conscience, do anything else. Now with regard to the result of that, and with regard to the people whom I represent, I have had for some time the honour to represent the people of Cork in more than one capacity. I represent them as the Lord Mayor of Cork, and as the Chairman of their County Council, and I represent them here. The people of Cork did not elect me to any of these positions because of any ability of mine, real or supposed, or because of any statesmanship of mine, or because of any political ability. They elected me simply and solely because I believe in absolute freedom for Ireland, and because my views on that question were well known and established. If the people of Cork have since changed their minds—indeed I maintain the people of Ireland have not changed their minds but if they have decided, as is absolutely of course within their right, that a halt may be made on the way, and that rather than hold out for the full measure of Irish freedom, entailing as it probably would still further war and suffering, I have no means of gathering that fact. I have no means, I repeat, in the first instance, nor am I, no matter how my colleagues here may differ with me, going to accept it, even if it were so available. The people of Cork have the right to decide that, and I here and now suggest, and I regret it has not been suggested earlier, that the people of the country ought to be given a deciding voice in this question. My position is probably, in this matter, the position of many other members of the Dáil. I have no desire to record a vote if the people who sent me here desire it to be otherwise; but if a vote be taken, and no other means be provided the electorate, I certainly, as an individual, cannot cast my vote in any but one way. Then the electorate can only repudiate my action and recall me or replace me. I, naturally, will be perfectly content to abide by their decision, but that is my position. That is the position I state to you and to the members of the House, and through you to my constituents. With regard to my personal position, I regret the members of this House in favour of the Treaty have not confined themselves to supporting the Treaty. I regret an effort has been made pretty generally to establish the fact that this House as a whole had agreed to accept something less than freedom. Now, a Chinn Chomhairle, it is of no importance, perhaps, to members of the House, but it certainly is to me and to the people, or in my opinion to my constituents. I want to make it clear here publicly at this Dáil that my views to-day—and in this respect let me be absolutely fair to the members of this House who favour the Treaty—are the same as when returned to this House. I do not mean to suggest that the views of members who differ with me on this question are not the same. I personally believe that they are in the main, if not entirely. At all events my views are the same now as then, and nothing, a Chinn Chomhairle, transpired at any meeting of this Dáil which justifies any other assertion. It will be in the recollection of this House when, in the course of the correspondence which preceded these negotiations, the British Prime Minister had refused to accept the status which was laid down as necessary by our President for our plenipotentiaries. When the President decided or suggested a particular reply, before sending that reply a special meeting of the House was summoned, and each member was supplied with a copy of the proposed reply. Furthermore, the President himself read it, and directed the special attention of the House to the now famous paragraph 2. He further impressed on the House before they agreed that he should send that reply, that they should realise a possible and I think he said a probable result would be the breaking off of negotiations and the immediate renewal of war. There was not a suggestion that that reply should be altered by even a comma. The House was unanimous. After deciding that, there was a feeling of absolute relief in the House that there had been such a clear decision taken. When at a later meeting of the Dáil the plenipotentiaries were appointed, the one fact of all others which weighed with me was the possibility of a compromise. In connection with the possibility of compromise was the mention of one particular name. I mention it now without suggesting any reproach—far be it from me—that was the Minister of Finance.
The Minister of Finance has not compromised.
I do not mean a compromise in the sense of definitely deciding to change the stand from the Republic, but to accept something less as a means to it. I want to be absolutely fair to every man. I do not wish to suggest that any member here has in any way acted in such a manner as would deserve reproach. I trust I have said nothing that would in any way interfere with them. I certainly had no intention of saying anything that would hurt the Minister of Finance (hear, hear). I also make it clear that some of us in the Dáil have visualised an independent Ireland. I have learned to-day, I must say with considerable surprise, from one of my colleagues in the representation of Cork that he never did. I can only say——
That is not a correct interpretation of my speech.
Very well, I withdraw it. For the rest, I regret very much the manner in which public boards and other institutions through the country have been divided up on this question. That there should be a division in this House is and would be in itself regrettable. There was a hope that it might have ended there and that division would not be forced through the country—but the country has been lined up for and against. The people of the country, even those who desire the Treaty ratified, are still keener about avoiding the return of days of internal divisions and party turmoil. I think, and still hope, that such a result, which would be so deplorable, may still be avoided, be the result what it may, for some time at least. I would furthermore suggest to those in favour of ratification that they should place it on record, saying that its acceptance by those who favour it is based on the desire of the people that it be accepted, and that their view also be placed on record in connection with it. That is, formally, that they desire the ratification of the Treaty, not as a case of absolute freedom, but that in view of the circumstances of the moment they desire its ratification rather than embark at the moment again in war to secure what remains, and what was withheld from them, of their liberty. I would ask those in favour of ratification to place that on record because that is a fair representation of those of our people who do desire ratification. For the rest I will close by regretting the strained feelings which have been visible in this House, and by hoping that when the vote has been taken here—if a vote be taken, and if my suggestion for a plebiscite be not accepted—then at least the bitterness and strained feeling and animosity that has so suddenly arisen in a House where there was wont to be such friendship will end with the division (applause).
I will make a suggestion now whereby we can avoid a division. Rightly or wrongly, Deputies or no Deputies, the Irish people have accepted this Treaty. Rightly or wrongly, I say——
We do not know; how do you know? (Cries of "They have," and counter-cries of "No, no; they have not.")
The notes are very feeble.
They are not.
I will make a suggestion which will not take away from the principle of any person on your side——
Is all this in order?
It is not. It can only be done by permission of the House.
I do not care whether it is in order or not. (Cries of "Chair").
I appeal to the Chair. Is it in order?
I have tried to do things for Ireland for the last couple of years; I am trying to do this thing for Ireland now to avoid division (loud applause). Are the Deputies going to listen to me or not? (Cries of "Yes!").
If there is an objection——
My suggestion is——
In the interests of unity he should be heard, I think.
Members can only speak out of their turn by the courtesy of the Dáil.
I beg to more formally that permission be given to the Minister of Finance to speak.
I beg to second that. As something I have said may be taken differently, I now wish to say that I have long since, before this House met, told the Minister of Finance privately, and I now say it publicly, that when he arrived at the point when he was satisfied to recommend the Treaty as the best thing in the interests of Ireland, I quite realised the magnificent moral courage that required from him. I told him that privately, I now say it publicly. I am not aware of having said anything which would have riled him, or injured or hurt any of his feelings.
I would suggest that you ask the President to give permission to the Minister of Finance in speak.
With all due respect, it is not the President can decide——
It is the Chair.
I have no objection, of course.
Permission is given, I take it.
Well, the suggestion is this: I have my own feelings about the Treaty. I have feelings about it perhaps very much keener than Deputies who are against it. Well, I believe that the Treaty was inevitable, and this is the suggestion: that the men and women in the Dáil who are against the Treaty may continue to be against the Treaty, but they need not cause a division in the Dáil, and they need not cause it by falling in with this suggestion. We cannot be weaker if we accept this Treaty, provided some of you—and I give you all the credit of standing on principle and standing on nothing else against ourselves—as I have said we cannot be weaker, and you cannot have compromised yourselves by allowing this Treaty to go through; and I want to insist that, in my opinion, rightly or wrongly, the Irish people have endorsed this Treaty. Now, if the Treaty is rejected, what happens? The English are absolved from their bargain. You have all said strong things against the English, but they will be absolved from their bargain, and it is not a question of a Treaty or an alternative Treaty. There is neither a Treaty nor an alternative Treaty in the circumstances, and I say the opposition can redeem the country in that way, and they can take all the kudos. They may have all the honour and glory, and we can have all the shame and disgrace (applause).
What is the proposition?
That you allow the Treaty to go through and let the Provisional Government come into existence; and if necessary you can fight the Provisional Government on the Republican question afterwards.
We will do that if you carry ratification, perhaps.
I thought you said ratification would be ultra vires.
It is not ratification. There is a question whether approval is not in a sense ratification. It is unfortunate that the papers of the country are taking it up as ratification. It is a very strange thing we get a proposal like that here, when it is obvious if you were to approve of the Treaty that very line of policy could be followed, anyway; and when there is a suggestion to make a real peace, a peace that we could all stand over, that simply because certain credits were involved it should be turned down.
I rise to support the adoption of the motion by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and before going on to speak on the merits of the motion, I would like to say that I am sorry our President has put the construction that he did on the suggested way out—that way out that was suggested by the Minister of Finance.
What way out?
He said that that course could be adopted when the Treaty was ratified; but remember we are here faced with the possibility that this Treaty may be defeated (hear, hear). Then the point that the Minister of Finance makes becomes a reality. The country has accepted the Treaty. (Cries of "No!"). The country has accepted the Treaty, I say. (Cries of "hear, hear," and "No!"). What position then would this Dáil occupy? Where is your constitutional usage or your democratic government? Where is your Republic? Where is government by the consent of the governed?
Wait for the next election.
I have listened to all the arguments that have been advanced against the ratification of this Treaty, and I must say they have all left me cold. I expected when the Lord Mayor of Cork rose to support the rejection of the Treaty that he, at least, would have some sensible alternative proposal. He had not. There is no alternative to this Treaty, as all the speakers on the other side have plainly pointed out, but chaos, and a gamble and a chance. There is a good deal of good—there is very much good in the Articles of Agreement that are embodied in this Treaty. I stand for this Treaty then, knowing all the circumstances that I do, knowing what led up to the negotiations when we sent our plenipotentiaries to London. I stand for it on its merits, and I say that in the knowledge of all these circumstances our plenipotentiaries have done exceptionally well. It is to the substance of what they have brought back I allude; and I say when you examine this Treaty and visualise the possibilities in working it, there is a big substance in it, and there are great possibilities of developing it for the Irish nation. As some of the other speakers have said, our ideal shall be a Gaelic State. There is nothing in this Treaty to prevent us building up from within, and developing under our own constitutional usage to the advantage— and to the sole advantage—of the whole people of Ireland. It is said we will be dominated by English interference in the working out of our Constitution. It is said that certain things in this Treaty mean an advantage to England. But what I say and believe is that the men who frame the Constitution, and afterwards the men who work the Constitution, will say we shall interpret all these things in the Irish way to the benefit of the people of Ireland that we are serving here in this legislature. Now, it is said England is conferring on us concessions by this Treaty. I say by this Treaty England is abdicating the grip and the hold that she had on all our life here in Ireland, and she is withdrawing her armed forces from our midst. I see big possibilities in the carrying out of our Constitution, when our Irish soldiers are protecting that Constitution within even the strict limits of the Treaty. In fact—I am not speaking of law, I do not want to get up against Mr. Childers, because I am not a lawyer—but in fact we have in the body of this Treaty sovereign status. It remains for us to grasp the good that is in the Treaty. Have the courage to go in and use it. Have the courage to undertake the development of our country, and to make it possible for our country to advance still further to the goal that is now before her. There has been great play made about the words internal and external association. I see and realise the difference, but in the alternative proposals where external association is mentioned it is not stated by those who advance that argument that our delegates pleaded, worked, and worked energetically for external association, and it was turned down, as the isolated independent Republic was also turned down. Our plenipotentiaries had to face facts, and facing these facts—I say it deliberately —they interpreted as fairly as it was possible for ordinary human beings the instructions that we know they got, those of us who have read the Cabinet records. There was great play also made of the objectionable features of the Treaty. One of them that was mentioned to me—I have not heard any speaker refer to it at all—was what a terrible thing it was that we under took to pay the pensions of the old R.I.C. Well, I think when the Minister of Finance is the Paymaster of the old R.I.C. they will be much safer in his hands than if they were paid by external association.
Speaker after speaker on the other side has got up and stated they were elected here on a particular mandate, and that so far as they were concerned they had no changed, and that until the mandate was withdrawn from them they could not see their way to make what they call a compromise on the Irish Republic. It has been stated over and over again, and we all know that it is ridiculous for those men to say that there was no compromise, that there was no lowering of the mandate, or no lowering of our declared principles, so to say, when we agreed to send plenipotentiaries to London to negotiate some kind of association with the British Empire. One Deputy said his conscience was eased by some particular clause in a formula that was read to him. It is not of formulas I am speaking now. I wish to refer him to facts. Was not he a party, and was not every man in the Dáil a party to the fact of sending our plenipotentiaries to London to negotiate some kind of association with the British Empire? I do not look upon this Treaty as final and everlasting. I recognise that all countries are developing, and I look on this as only a stage in the development of Ireland. I believe in the saying that "no man has the right," et cetera. Now let us, in the name of God, lay aside all this talk of formulas and face facts. Look at the facts and realise what facts will be staring us in the face if the Treaty is rejected. Realise the chaos in the country, and realise the possibilities of the future. Let us then go in and grasp this opportunity; use it for all it is worth, and let no man here attempt to put a stop to the onward march of the nation. (Applause).
Just a personal point I would like to introduce. If any words of mine could bear the interpretation that any of the plenipotentiaries were followers of the Welsh Wizard, I beg to withdraw those words, and say I never meant any such thing. I would be very sorry to say it of any member of the Dáil or of any of the plenipotentiaries. I accept fully the explanation of the Assistant Minister for Local Government that he was present at the meetings of the Cabinet by the express orders of the President. I am sorry for the statement made that he was there by act of grace.
I am going to be as short as I possibly can. If I wished I could spend about two hours raising points about this Treaty, but, in the first place, I would have you all bored to death, and, in the second place, there would be very little chance of changing any man's opinion (laughter). The country seems to require that each of the Teachtaí should give some reasons why he is voting in the particular way he thinks on the subject. Another reason why I do not wish to go into debating points is this: there are, in the main, two sets of interpretations to be taken of this Treaty. One is what I might call the interpretation of the Irish point of view, and the other the Imperial point of view. In debating against the Treaty it would be my business to examine how far the Imperialists could drag or interpret the points of that Treaty to their views, and to point that out as the effect of the Treaty. In so doing I would, in the possibility of this Treaty being passed, be piling up munitions for the common enemy, and if this Treaty does pass it would be to our interest and to our ambition to see, if there is any interpretation at all, the Irish interpretation wins (hear, hear). Much has been said about constituents. As far as my constituents are concerned, what I do here is a question between me and them, and concerns no other member of the Dáil, and I am prepared to settle with them what I do here. I was selected on the principle of the Republic. The Republic was formally declared three years ago, and for three years has been functioning to such an extent that not only have soldiers and policemen, but men of our own race, as spies, met their deaths on the moral authority of that Government. I am now asked to throw out the Republican Government and accept the status of a Dominion within the British Empire. Many men can find it within themselves to reconcile such with their previous views and opinions whether they were expressed in oaths or in any other form whatsoever. That is their business. I am only concerned with mine, and my point of view is, I cannot do that thing. I have declared myself a Republican, and have been elected a Republican, and I will never willingly become a subject of the British Empire. I do not put forward my conscience or judgment as infallible. Probably the judgment and conscience of the plenipotentiaries and those voting with them may, in history, prove to be sound; but sound or unsound, I am only responsible for acting on my own, and I am not going to be swayed from that by any cloud raised by the national Press as regards such words as "government by the consent of the governed." I thought we had left all these catch-cries behind. "Government by consent of the governed." Self-determination, to my mind, means this: that the people will be asked to say what they want, with the firm understanding that what they say they want they will get.
Give them a chance.
It is a question now of "Will you have this or not? If you do not, you will get a rap on the nut." Is that self-determination? I do not regard it as such. If the people say they want the Treaty because the result will be war, that is not self-determination. Call a spade a spade, but that is not self-determination. In reading over the speeches of the last Session there was one reference in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the plenipotentiaries by Mr. Lloyd George in which he referred to the pledge given in respect of the minority by the head of the Irish plenipotentiaries. "The framing of the Constitution will be in the hands of the Irish Government subject, of course, to the terms of the agreement, and to the pledges given in respect of the minority by the head of the Irish Delegation." On reading that I could not remember of any explanation being given. Perhaps it was given. I would like that, at an early stage, the Chairman of the plenipotentiaries would inform us what these pledges are. They may not be of any importance or relevant to what we are discussing. I think we should know if there is anything else besides this Treaty which we would be bound by. Let us know what are the personal pledges he has given, and which, I presume, if the Treaty is passed, he will endeavour to point out to a future Government. (Applause).
I have listened to this debate ever since it started, and I never heard anything so unreal. There are three parties in the Dáil. There are the uncompromising Republicans, the Treaty party, and the Document No. 2 party. The uncompromising Republicans can no more support President de Valera than us——
Let them judge for themselves.
I went to the country during the Christmas recess and consulted with my constituents as to their views about the Treaty. I have got a unanimous vote from my Comhairle Ceanntair. They asked me what President de Valera's alternative was, and I was tongue-tied—the President had me tongue-tied. I say it is a grave injustice to the country that I and men like me, trying to argue for the Treaty, are being tongue-tied. There was some opinion in the country that President de Valera had some mysterious card up his sleeve. Every member of the Dáil knows there is not.
May I be permitted to give an explanation? I am ready at any time to move Document No. 2 as an amendment.
I am only pointing out——
I am ready at any time to make that proposition publicly, and then you will see whether any uncompromising Republicans will support it or not. It is very important that there should be no misrepresentation.
I deliberately refrained from dealing with Document No. 2. I am giving my own opinions as a member of the Dáil. I am not mentioning any clauses.
It is to suit the will of the other side.
It is not to suit the will of the other side that Document No. 2 was kept from the public.
You asked for a straight vote on the Treaty. I am ready at any time to make my proposals in public in substitution for your Treaty.
Our position in the country is absolutely artificial, because the country does not know what we are rejecting as an alternative and I have found that out all along. We have had duress hurled at us. I say the real duress is that any part of Ireland is left out of the Irish nation. The people in my county care nothing about formulas or oaths; they do care a lot about Ulster being kept out. That is the biggest question. Anything that ever mattered to the people of Ireland was the unity of Ireland, and I was surprised to hear Deputies getting up and talking about Mr. Griffith and the Southern Unionists. We want the Southern Unionists and we want every Irishman (hear, hear). I never believed more in Mr. Arthur Griffith and never believed him to be more of a statesman than when he sent his message to the Southern Unionists (hear, hear). The Southern Unionists are Irishmen, and, as Parnell once said, we need every Irishman. These people have been in a false environment. They are not English anyway, and it is for us to win them if we can, and if any man gets up and tries to draw them nearer to Ireland he is a statesman and should not be criticised (hear, hear). I resent the remarks made by the Minister of Agriculture that the opinion behind this Treaty in the country is manufactured. The men I went to when I was down in Westmeath were the men who gave me loyal support ever since I went on the run, and I can also say they gave loyal support to Sinn Féin. They were men who suffered most—Volunteer Officers, and not Southern Unionists or Nationalists either. They are all Irishmen who believe in ultimate Irish freedom. They do not care a whole lot about formulas. When I went through Westmeath we never talked about theoretical Republics. We said we were out for getting Ireland into the hands of the Irish (hear, hear). We stood where we did to get Ireland into the hands of the Irish. If the Mikado of Japan came over, it did not matter so long as Ireland belonged to the people of Ireland. The people of Westmeath do not care twopence about theoretical Republicanism, and neither do I. They had certain ideas in their minds, but they had one great idea; they want England out and Ireland in; that is their idea (applause). And any man who comes along to them and talks about a Workers' Republic, a theoretical Republic, or the nebulous Republic that we thought we had for the last two years, is talking foolishly. They do not understand. What the people of Ireland want is getting the soil of Ireland back to the hands of the people of Ireland, and they believe in getting the foreigners out and our own people in. Nothing else matters to them or ever did matter to them. That is what they always wanted. You would think by the talk of some people that we had a Republic here for 750 years. Red Hugh and Sarsfield were ex-officers of the British army. Tone was a member of the United Irishmen which was at one time, and was all along, a constitutional movement, and he became a Republican because he thought there was no other way out to freedom. Owen Roe was prepared to make a Treaty with the Puritans. The Irish Federation with Davis and Mitchell was prepared to accept the King, Lords and Commons of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is only two years old, and it was a very weak infant all the time. I was working for it, and I know how it was able to function. Republic. For God's sake get back to facts. We were able to hold on by the skin of our teeth, and we are taking this Treaty because we could not hold out twelve months longer, and right well every man in the Dáil knows it. We have never been offered an alternative to the Treaty. We are not told how we can obtain freedom except by accepting the Treaty and making it better. Damn principles, but give us Irish freedom by any road we can get it. That is my view, and it is the view of the average man in the country. You would think we were a crowd of theologians instead of Irishmen (hear, hear). How are we to win freedom except by taking the Treaty and making the best we can of it? The people of the country have their own plain views about Irish history, and I must say, with all respect to the Dáil, they have ten times the brains and wisdom of the Dáil (laughter and applause). They know the realities of Irish freedom. They know every time we rose in our history we were fighting an all-powerful enemy with inadequate weapons. They believe we are going to get an Irish Army and that we can make the best-armed small army in Europe. It is not often I agree with the Countess, but she said a thing I quite agree with, and it was this: "England would not give this Treaty if she could avoid doing so." Lord Salisbury laid down a principle: "What England gives in her weakness she takes back in her strength." I myself have a dash of English blood in me. I quite agree England will take back this if she can. I will give my reasons why I vote for the Treaty. I do not care threepence about so-called oaths. I believe in ultimate Irish freedom. I am voting for the Treaty because we are getting an Irish army, and if we get an Irish army armed to the teeth, it is for England if she wants to take it back to take back the Treaty by force of arms; that is why I am voting for the Treaty. (Applause).
I am against the ratification of the Treaty on several grounds, one of which is that it is a permanent barrier against the unity of Ireland. I am a Republican and I can in the Treaty pertaining to naval defence, submarine cables, wireless stations in time of peace or war. I also oppose the Treaty because of the partitioning of Ireland. As Deputy Sean MacEntee has said, it leaves a permanent barrier against the unity of Ireland. I object to the Treaty because of the liability for the British National Debt; but the main objection I have to ratification is because of the fact of swearing fealty to the English King. I believe and regard the Treaty as an ignoble document, unworthy and inconsistent with our national ideals. Now the Anglo-Irish Conference, as you are aware, sat in London. We understood that the two nations were going into that Conference with a certain independent status, and for the express purpose of a settlement of the age-long difference. This would have been achieved on voluntary and reciprocal lines, but what happened was this: the Irish Delegation signed the Treaty under a threat of force and under duress, a distinct violation, to my mind, of the Truce, and that destroyed the hope of a friendly acceptance of the Treaty by the people of Ireland. Much criticism has been made of the Irish Delegation both individually and collectively. I am not going to criticise them at all because I firmly believe they tried to do their best. But what I will do is criticise them in conjunction with the British Delegation—criticise the Anglo-Irish Conference as a body. I believe they missed the supreme opportunity of settling the Irish question for ever. The blame for failure rests on the shoulders of the English representatives in the Conference, for, instead of rising to the plane of a voluntary and reciprocal agreement on which our delegation stood, they succeeded in forcing our representatives down to Britain's customary materialistic level where the hopes and the wishes of both countries were wrecked in dishonour and disgrace. The next step was when the Treaty, signed in London, was placed before you for consideration. The pro-Treaty Deputies place eulogies upon it. They told you the reason they signed it was because of the terrors of immediate and terrible war. The Press took up the cry, and then we have heard the changes being rung on this threat of terrible and immediate war. That went on until our Speaker Deputy Eoin MacNeill, went speaking from the body of the House and made reference to the fact that the appeal to force was a bad argument, and then I noticed both the Press, the country and the Deputies here dropped the use of this threat of war, and they refer to it now as that it will bring chaos upon the country. Deputy Etchingham gave us a very lucid description of the meaning of the word "fealty," and I would suggest he would take up the meaning of the word "chaos," and search in Webster's Dictionary for the various meanings of the word "chaos." As regards the reference to substance and shadow, I think Deputy Miss MacSwiney dealt very clearly with that when she described one as expediency and the other as principle. The next thing in connection with the Treaty was where they described it as a bird in the hand, and praised it so highly, I thought it was a Bird of Paradise with lovely green, white and gold plumage. Then the anti-Treaty Deputies began to criticise it, and judging from what they said, they thought it was not a bird at all—at least not yet. It was only an egg, originating in the British Cabinet, and classified in accordance with the oath of fidelity as belonging to the order of the O.B.E. The Governor-General will assist at the hatching-out process in the Irish Free State, and it might produce an ugly duckling, not a game chicken anyway. The Anglo-Irish Conference missed the greatest opportunity in modern history because they failed to give effect to the principles of self-determination which the great war so clearly emphasised as a world demand. A world conference is being held in Paris this month to uphold it. The political philosophy of Europe to-day is Machiavelian and Troitsckean, which means political cunning and bad faith combined with the unscrupulous use of force, and England in Europe to-day is its outstanding protagonist as far as Ireland is concerned. But England's day of reckoning is not distant. If she wishes friendly relations with Ireland it must be on voluntary and reciprocal lines. Britain will have to settle the Irish question according to the true wishes of the Irish nation, or the Irish question, as General Smuts has said, will settle the Empire. The Irish question is to-day a world question, a great human question. For centuries we have been, and we are to-day, allies of all the oppressed peoples of the earth. Our fight for freedom and against oppression has given them heart and courage. We have no quarrel with any other nation but Britain, and we owe no ill-will to any other nation. All Ireland wants, as President de Valera stated, is to be allowed to live her own life in peace, with freedom to accomplish her own destiny. With our national freedom will come power to help to secure, in conjunction with other Christian countries, world peace and prosperity for all the suffering peoples on the earth. Ireland's glorious mission is to help to spiritualise and to civilise the world. When Ireland secures true freedom, she will rise to the spiritual and intellectual heights which she attained in the 14th century, when she gave to Europe at her best, and adopted from other countries what she found worth adopting. This Treaty will not bring peace. Fealty to Britain's King symbolises the shackles of slavery. The manhood and womanhood of Ireland repudiates it. Fling it back in the faces of those who falsely said they wished this, age-long difference between the Irish and the British peoples ended. The one vital issue—the right of Ireland to full national freedom—they burked and declined to face though that would have solved the difficulty for all time. They were not great enough to trust themselves; they were not honest enough to trust Ireland; and now the only thing for British statesmen to do is to play the role of political hypocrites before the world and endeavour to still further fool Ireland and to fool the world. Reject this ignoble document and keep the Republican flag flying and refuse to fasten the chains of slavery and fealty on the proud spirit of the unconquered Irish nation. (Applause).
I am going to endeavour to make a record for brevity. I am supporting the motion for ratification of the Treaty and I make no apology to anybody for doing so, I did not wait until I became a member of this Dáil to become a Republican. I have worked in the Republican movement for twenty years. I am a Republican to-day and I will be a Republican to-morrow. I vote for the Treaty as it stands. For that I do not need the opinion of a constitutional lawyer or a constitutional layman or a Webster's Dictionary or a Bible to tell me what it means. I put on it the interpretation of the ordinary plain man who means what he says. I am not looking for any other interpretation from Webster's Dictionary or anywhere else. I know what the Treaty means, and the man in the street knows what it means. I vote for it as it stands. We all know what it is. I do not see any reason for any argument, or making a pretence that it is less than what it is. I realise what its acceptance means, and I also realise what its rejection would mean, and it is because I realise these things that I am voting for it. If I did not realise them I would probably be voting against it. I do not want to make this an excuse for voting for it. Another thing is this: I feel as much committed to the ratification of the document as if my signature were on it and I will tell you why. I want to bring you back to the meeting of the Dáil when the Gairloch correspondence was read, and when President de Valera gave us an interpretation of what the oath meant to him, and Deputy Miss MacSwiney—she will correct me if I am wrong—I can recall the impression she made on me. I think, if I am not mistaken, she challenged the members of the Dáil that if there was anything in the nature of a compromise, or something less than a Republic contemplated, to say so, or else for ever more to hold their tongues.
I think I said that outside the Dáil I was told the negotiations meant compromise and therefore, inside the Dáil, I begged to be informed if they meant compromise. I did not think so, but outside the Dáil I was told they did mean compromise; I was assured they did not.
I did not hear any assurance given. She challenged the members of the Dáil to speak then or for ever hold their tongues. The members did not speak then, but God knows they made up for it since (laughter and applause). If talking would have got us a Republic we would have it last week (laughter). What did we think we were sending to Downing Street for? Did any of us think we were going to get an Irish Republic in Downing Street?
Of course you could.
A Downing Street made Republic? (Laughter).
No, a Downing Street withdrawal from Ireland.
Downing Street are withdrawing from Ireland.
No, they are not.
Several Deputies protested very strongly and very loudly that they were standing on the bedrock of the Irish Republic. A week before they were standing on the slippery slopes—to borrow a phrase of the Minister of Finance—the slippery slopes of Document No. 2. Document No. 2 was pulled from under their feet and landed them with what must have been an awful jerk on the bedrock of the Irish Republic. They will be standing on that until the proper time—I mean the time when Document No. 2, or perhaps Document No. 3 will be given to us.
You can have it immediately if you like—whatever your side agrees.
There has been theorising in some of the speeches made here by Deputies about Government by the consent of the governed— self-determination. You can have government in Ireland to-day by consent of the governed with this Treaty. You can have self-extermination without it; but you cannot have war without the consent of the Irish people. And the only reason you carried on war for the last two years was because you had the consent of the people. Several other. Deputies talk about going back to war. I put it to them now they believe they are not going back to war. They are gambling, they know they are gambling, and they think they are gambling on a certainty. I have done a little bit of gambling myself—not very much—but I was never on a certainty yet that did not let me down (laughter and applause). They are quite right, they are not going back to war; they are going back to destruction (hear, hear). I think it was the President quoted the famous dictum of Parnell, that no man can set bounds to the march of a nation. Parnell said a lot of wise things. Parnell never said anything wiser than that. No man, or body of men, can set bounds, or should attempt it. There were two factors in Ireland within the last hundred years that set bounds to the march of the Irish nation—the British Army and British control of every nerve of our national life, education, finance, customs, and excise. They set bounds to the nation's progress. Now it is the people who vote against the Treaty are setting bounds to the march of the nation's progress. I do not like talking about this question of oaths, because you are tempted to say things which you might be sorry for. But I would like to ask the Minister of Defence whether he has had, or has still in the I.R.A., people who have already sworn allegiance to the King, as soldiers of the British Army? They have done good work, and we did not ask them when they were joining up: "What about the other oath?"
And some of them are in their graves.
I am sorry to have to refer to the dead. Several Deputies have come to me and told me I was letting down the dead I worked with for very many years. One said: "You worked with so-and-so for many heartbreaking years when to be called a Republican was to be called a fool." I say no man of all the dead who died for Ireland was ever in this position. Would to God the men I worked with had to face this proposition and I believe they would be with us to-day (hear, hear). The Deputy for Kildare, the Minister of Agriculture, quoted to-day a passage from the work of James Connolly. I am sorry Deputy Childers is not here because I wanted to ask him why he did not insist on the whole document being read. The Minister of Agriculture read a passage from Labour in Ireland——
I did not read anything from Labour in Ireland.
Well, I beg his pardon. He certainly did say that James Connolly said: "In this, as in the political and social world generally, the thing that matters most is not so much the extent of the march, but the direction in which we are marching."
These are words of James Connolly, the man who, twenty years ago, taught me to be a Republican. He probably taught Republicanism from a different angle, but he was always a Republican. But the Minister of Agriculture did not tell us that, when Connolly wrote that, he was enthusing about the Local Government Act of 1898. Is the Local Government Act of 1898 better or worse than this is now? I am going to conclude. I think it was Charles Lamb told us about the Chinaman who burned his house to roast a pig. He at least had something to say for himself. After all it was his own house, and he got roast pig (applause). Then again I heard about Samson. The Deputy from Wicklow might tell us more about that (laughter). It was Samson who pulled down the pillars of the Temple. That was his funeral. I do not want to attend the funeral of the Irish nation. (Applause).
The House adjourned until 11 o'clock on Wednesday morning.