I think it is not fair to the country or to this assembly that the anomalous position which we have been in since the Articles of Agreement were signed in London should be continued any longer. When these Articles of Agreement were signed the body in which the executive authority of this assembly and of the State is vested became as completely split as it was possible for it to become. Irrevocably, not on personalities or anything of that kind or matter, but on absolute fundamentals. Since then we have been trying to keep nominally as a unified Executive, but the time has come when that must be ended. If I, for instance, am to keep the Chief Executive authority here in the Republic, in duty bound to preserve the Republic and to use all the means at the Republic's disposal to preserve itself, I cannot be handicapped. I cannot have responsibility without the right to use all the resources of the State to defend itself and its existence. Very well; we have the position now in which I and a certain section of the Cabinet stand for one Fundamental policy, and another section of the Cabinet stands for a fundamentally opposite policy. One side of us means the preservation of the Republic and the existence of our country; the other means the subversion of that independence. We have black and white so far as we are concerned. Now I stand here ment. I believe fundamentally in the right of the Irish people to govern themselves. I believe fundamentally in government of the people by the people, and if I may add the other part, for the people. That is my fundamental creed. Anything that would take away the Executive or fundamental authority of the people, whether executive, legislative or judicial, is absolutely against my principles and I hold that would be a subversion of nationality as I understand it, for this nation. Now, the position which has been created is this—a little history will make the whole position clear to every member here and to the country—I entered politics as a soldier, as one who stood for the principles of those who proclaimed the Republic in 1916. I went down to Clare the first time I went as a political candidate; I read the declaration of that Republic and I said to the people of Clare: "I stand for that; and I hope to he able to establish this for the world: that the men who proclaimed that, though they were said to be a minority of the nation at the time, they truly represented the heart and feeling of the nation." And we proved it, thank God. Those who said we had no right to "rebel" as it was called, because we didn't represent the views of the people, were proved to have told untruths. Whatever may have been said about the chances of success and other matters there is one thing that stands proved historically— that these men did represent the hearts and souls and aspirations of the Irish people. I say that no election taken under duress or anything else will disprove that to-day. I say, therefore, that there will never he a peace which neglects that fundamental fact because it is the fact of the whole situation. The want to live their own lives in their own way without any outside authority whatever being imposed upon them; whether it is the authority of the British Crown or any other authority whatever. Now for the historical part. After my imprisonment, when I came out after leaving Dartmoor—I came out and I found here on the one hand the old chief of the Sinn Féin Organisation, at the time working politically—our present Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Arthur Griffith—and I found at the head of the Irish Volunteers the Minister for Defence, Mr. Cathal Brugha. I found that they differed then as fundamentally as they differ to-day. I found that I was a sort of connecting link between the two, and at the first Convention of Sinn Féin, or a night or two before it, we devised a basis on which we have worked so successfully for the past four years: the basis of the Sinn Féin Constitution. Since then I have been the link between the two. On the one hand the political leader at the time, as I might say, of Sinn Féin, surrendered at the Convention his Chairmanship of the Sinn Féin Organisation, surrendered it to me, and I was elected political head unanimously. Before that time the Minister of Defence had surrendered to me, as Senior Officer in the Army at the time, the headship of the Irish Volunteers. I combined therefore in myself for the time being, the political headship and the military headship; and it was the combination of these two—the military headship which represented the true aspirations of the Irish people, the headship of those who stood definitely for the Republic which was established in 1916 unequivocably, and the political headship—which enabled the two sides to work together. When I went to America to try to get recognition for the Republic that was established, I, as it was my right, nominated as Acting President or as Political Chief the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I should have said, in giving this little historical summary, in order that it might make the position clear—I should have said that when Dáil Eireann met at its first session and proclaimed its independence, the Minister for Defence was chosen as the first Chief Executive Authority. He formed the first Cabinet of the Republic and he surrendered it to me when I came out of prison. Again I became the connecting link. In every Cabinet I formed I took care to have those two sides properly represented. And I felt that if I was to be of any use to the country, and it there was to be unity in the country, it was by trying to harmonise these two voices as far as was possible. I had a difficult task to play for four years, to try, so to speak, to hold the balance even in public discussion, no matter what my own personal views might be; and privately, and certainly in public never did I do anything which would tend to lead to the disruption of these two forces. I felt that the unity of these two forces was absolutely essential for national success; and until the sixth December I succeeded in my task. On the sixth December a document was signed which irrevocably sundered that connection. On October twenty-sixth I think it was, I saw the danger on account of following the British negotiations in London very carefully —I saw the danger and I found it my duty, dealing with the Home members of the Cabinet, to send to London to the delegation what I regarded as a warning. It was an expression of the views of the Home members of the Cabinet who were five at the time, whilst three were away. There were at home four members of the Cabinet and the Assistant Minister for Local Government. Those of us who were here were the Minister of Defence, the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Local Government, the Assistant Minister for Local Government and myself. We were a definite majority in the Cabinet and on the twenty-fifth of October I wrote this as "I received the minutes of the Seventh Session and your letter of the twenty-fourth. We are all here at one that there can be no question of our asking the Irish people to enter an arrangement which would make them subjects of the Crown, or demand from them allegiance to the British King. If war is the alternative, we can only face it, and I think the sooner the other side is made realise that the better." That was definite. On December second or the night before, I think, the plenipotentiaries came back with a document which represented the proposals of the British Government at that stage. That document was clearly one, to me, inconsistent with our position. My position and the position of the Cabinet was that which we expressed in the now famous paragraph two at Gairloch, which caused a number of telegrams to be exchanged. That was that we had no right or authority to act on behalf of the Irish people except as representatives of a Government of a sovereign state. That is the only basis, and I hold that anything that is inconsistent with that isultra vires so far as we are concerned. Now, I therefore rejected that document on that basis, and made it quite clear, as far as I was concerned, to the Chairman of the Delegation that that would be unacceptable and impossible for us in our position. At the Cabinet meeting following a similar discussion arose and it was pointed out by the Minister of Defence who represented, as I have said, the traditional view—the fundamental Irish Volunteer view—it was pointed out that it meant definitely a split in the country if such a document was signed. The Chairman of the Delegation held that he would not break on the Crown. In view of the definite, clear certainty of a split, a promise was given that a document of that sort, involving the making of Irish citizens British subjects and allegiance to the Crown—that such a document would not be signed—whilst the Chairman of the Delegation would not take the responsibility of breaking on that question—that such a document would not be signed until it was submitted to this Dáil. So certain was I of that promise being fulfilled to the letter that when I heard an agreement had been reached I said: “We have won.” And when I saw in the newspapers that the agreement that was reached was one absolutely incompatible with our position—a subverting of the State as it stands—I knew that a step which was practically irrevocable had been taken. There was but one way to try to save that; and it was this: we had been working definitely for peace—for a peace that would be consistent with our position, and I believe definitely that such a peace was possible. I had pinned, personally, my efforts to get the idea of any association whatever with the British Empire—or the States of the British Empire—to try to make that palatable, so to speak, to those who thought, not merely of an independent Ireland in the sense of being a sovereign state, but thought of Ireland as a sovereign state absolutely isolated, such as Switzerland. I had attacked it as a political problem. I had kept myself detached, so to speak, calmly, coldly weighing the factors in the situation; and I kept clearly in mind all the time the fundamental fact of all, that is, the satisfaction of the aspiration of complete independent Irish nationality. I saw nothing in the proposals which we had made that was inconsistent with that; and when I made a rough outline of the proposals to the first Ministry meeting, after the members came out of prison, which was a sort of duplicate Ministry meeting at the time, I got it unanimously accepted in the main outline. It was difficult to work it in detail, but as the Conference went on and the British proposals were made on the one hand, and adjustments on our side, we made something like a State arrangement to curtail power in a definite shape; and when this document and Articles of Agreement with Great Britain were signed, I got a document which was practically the last proposals which our plenipotentiaries made—counter proposals. I put these together as quickly as I could before the first meeting of the Dáil. I produced a rough draft document. It was nothing else, and it was put before this House for the purpose of eliciting views, not of those who had accepted the Treaty. Any man who stands up and says he can object to the other document, I say he is not objecting on the grounds of nationality, anyway. Therefore I take it for granted, and any fair or impartial member of this House is entitled to take it for granted, that anybody who agreed to the Treaty could not find objection to that document. The best proof of that was that the plenipotentiaries themselves had already tried to get these particular proposals accepted by the British Government. I therefore put it before the meeting to get the views, not so much of those who stood for the present—the Articles of Agreement, as of those who stood for the Republic in its simplest form of isolation. The document was presented in the same way as I would present it to the Cabinet. We had Private Sessions here during the war. These Private Sessions were respected and no one spoke outside of anything that happened at the Private Sessions. I put that document before them. It is only when I have got general agreement that I look after it from the point of view of form and wording. I didn't want the world to see it because I didn't want the world or the Irish people confused. And I didn't want the British to see it because I didn't want them to see the changes that would be made in it by this assembly. I asked it to be kept as a confidential document. It was the first time that confidence was broken. Therefore, as head of the State, I cannot get further work done, as I cannot have that confidence in the members of the Cabinet. The position, therefore, is this: at that stage my last effort to secure unanimity and to secure co-operation was destroyed because that document was treated most unfairly; and it was treated unfairly because then, at that stage, I saw at once that we had for the first time in this Dáil got parties. I withdrew the document. I saw it could serve no good purpose at the time to be used as a red herring across the track; but still I see that through that means, and through that means only, I could be of any use to this assembly or to the nation; because it is only by combining these two forces that you can keep the nation united. It is not personal, because that document was mainly evolved through the delegates in London. I had very little to do except to take those final results of their labours and the Treaty as it actually was presented, and put them together. I was anxious to keep as close to the British Treaty as possible; because, as we were genuinely anxious for peace, there was no reason that we should make any changes that were not vital. I felt that I was doing a big thing, a thing that was necessary not merely for Ireland but even a bigger thing in a sense, and that was the reconciliation of two peoples. I believe that that is possible still on one basis and one only, because as sure as this other Treaty goes through so sure will there be rebels against British authority— because they will not be British subjects. We will be living an absolute lie. Neither technically or otherwise am I a British subject, and please God I will die without ever being one. Now, I have definitely a policy, not some pet scheme of my own, but something that I know from four years' experience in my position—and I have been brought up amongst the Irish people. I was reared in a labourer's cottage here in Ireland (applause). I have not lived solely amongst the intellectuals. The first fifteen years of my life that formed my character were lived amongst the Irish people down in Limerick; therefore, I know what I am talking about; and whenever I wanted to know what the Irish people wanted I had only to examine my own heart and it told me straight off what the Irish people wanted. I, therefore, am holding to this policy, first of all, because if I was the only man in Ireland left of those of 1916—as I was Senior Officer left—I will go down in that creed to my grave. I am not a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, but I hope when I die I will get a Fenian grave. Therefore from that point of view I would be that but I would not let personal considerations of that sort have anything to do with the situation. I am doing this and acting on this principle because I believe it is the only policy that can save Ireland at this moment. I am coming therefore before this Dáil to laydown now definitely my office and, as I have the right to get from all the Ministers their resignations, I lay it down definitely here in this House; and this House has got to decide before it does further work, who is to be the Chief Executive in this nation—and it will have to do it constitutionally—so that the Chief Executive Officer, if he is going to have the responsibility of office, will also have the powers of the Government to enable him to execute the duties of his office properly—it does not matter who he is. There are two rival policies then and you will have to decide between them. One policy is this: I stand definitely for the Irish Republic as it was established—as it was proclaimed in 1916—as it was constitutionally established by the Irish nation in 1919, and I stand for that definitely; and I will stand by no policy whatever that is not consistent with that. Now if you re-elect me (cries of “We will!”)— steady for a moment—I will have to have the right to get a Cabinet that thinks with me so that we can be a unified body. Next, I will have to have the full use of all the resources of the Republic to defend the Republic—every resource and all the material that is in the nation to defend it. If you elect me and you do it by a majority I will throw out that Treaty—if we have a majority, if this Cabinet goes down. Next, I will bring from our Cabinet a document such as that, and we will offer it to the British people as a genuine peace Treaty—to the British peoples, not merely Lloyd George and his government, but to all the States of the British Commonwealth—of the British Empire. This is going further than any one because I have spent years —because one of my earliest dreams, next to securing Irish independence, was that there might be reconciliation between the people of these two islands— this is a genuine offer of peace, a peace that can be as lasting as human peace can be. We will offer them that, and if they turn it down, then we will, as in the past, stick to the Sinn Féin Constitution; we will deny the right, we will oppose the will of the British Parliamentary power to legislate for Ireland; and we will make use of any and every means to render impotent the power of England to hold Ireland in subjection by military force or otherwise. Now, if you re-elect me that is our programme. We have not been afraid notwithstanding—we started this even before 1919; we started in 1917 that programme. If there was not a gun in Ireland we could carry out that programme. If we were bound hand and foot we could still, by our voice and our will, stand by that programme. Let the British put us in their jails and they can't stifle our will. That human will of ours will stand up to Lloyd George and say, like Terence MacSwiney: “No! we will not be British subjects.” (Applause). Very well then, I offer to this House my personal resignation, and with it go the Ministers. You have to elect the head of the Government. If you elect me I will pursue the policy I have outlined. As to the policy opposed to it I propose to let the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell you about it.
DEBATE ON TREATY RESUMED
On a point of order I would like to know whether this statement involves a discussion on Document 2 or on Document 3? Because I will put forward arguments about that document that will stand against anything. I want simply to know whether this involves a discussion on that document, because I can't allow a statement about that document to which there is an answer, a good answer, a true answer, to pass unchallenged.
What I do formally is to lay before the House my resignation. Definitely, as Chief Executive authority I resign and with it goes the Cabinet. Do not decide on personalities—on my personality. It is not a question of persons. That has nothing whatever to do with it. As I say, it is not a question of persons because where personality is concerned we are all the best friends. We worked together as one team. Now we are divided fundamentally, although we had kept together until we reached this Bridge. My object was that we don't part before we come to this Bridge. We are at the Bridge. This House has got my Document No. 2. It will be put before the House by the new Cabinet that will be formed if I am elected. We will put down that document. It will be submitted to the House.
The President referred to me. I want to make a short statement. I won't go into the speech of the President now. The President and I agreed that this motion should go on, and that a vote should be taken. Also he agreed that I should wind up this debate. Now, I submit that the order of the day is that we are discussing this motion: "that Dáil Eireann approves of this Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland"; and I submit that until that is decided we can't discuss the President's proposal. We are still on the orders of the day. And if any attempt is made to bring in another issue it is an unfair attempt to bring in another discussion, and to closure discussion on the motion before the House.
I can't take the responsibility of being defender of the Republic unless I have all the material resources of the Republic at my disposal, and I won't take the responsibility no matter what anybody asks me to do.
I have a serious statement to make. On a point of order no Treaty has been made. The motion of the Minister for Foreign Affairs——
What's the point of order?
I submit that the word "Treaty" there is inappropriate.
That's not a point of order.
I submit that the Treaty is not yet concluded.
Well, now, that is yet not a point of order.
Would it put matters in order if I moved a motion to suspend the Standing Orders in order to discuss the President's resignation?
I submit until that motion before the House is disposed of we can't discuss anything else.
I second the proposal to suspend the Standing Orders.
The Government can resign before everything else. There must be an Executive; and you must have somebody to see that the work of the House is carried out.
I want to say this: the nation is bigger than any man and bigger even than the Dáil, and we ought to carry out the orders of the day.
The order is perfectly clear. The Dáil itself is the authority. That is to say that this body is supreme, and any other body in the country is subordinate to it; and especially with regard to the carrying on of its own proceedings, it passes its own authority. The orders of the day is the motion that is before us tabled here; that is the motion by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
I decline to take the responsibility for defending the Republic when I have not got the ordinary means of doing it.
Have you accepted the motion for the suspending of the Standing Orders?
The motion to suspend the Standing Orders is in order.
On that point I submit that the order of the day is before you, and it is a motion to discuss approval or disapproval of the Treaty. The Dáil is in session. Remember the discussion on it, and every sitting or meeting of this body was a continuation of one session, and not an ordinary meeting of the Dáil during which questions to Ministers and ordinary business, and the discussions which would arise at a single sitting would come up for consideration. This discussion here is out of the ordinary. It is one whole and entire sitting and I submit with great respect that it is not open to you to receive a motion—during the middle of a discussion—to suspend the Standing Orders.
As you have ruled, there is no going back of your ruling now.
I suppose we can discuss this motion on the suspension of of the Standing Orders (Cries of "No! no!"). I am in possession. I suppose we may discuss the motion to suspend the Standing Orders?
There is nothing against it.
Well we will discuss the motion to suspend the Standing Orders. The position is this. If you reject the Treaty the President of the Republic can, in ten minutes, have a Government for the Republic. Now there is another way of getting a Cabinet that will be a united Cabinet. As one member of the Cabinet I have offered already to put my resignation into the President's hands and let it go before the House. I have offered that and it was refused. Well, now, if the members of the Present Government who are opposed to the Treaty—if those members, with the President at their head, ask for our resignations, well and good, let them come before the House. This now is a second way to get a Government to carry on. Let the President, having all the resources at his command, ask for our resignations; and let our resignations come before the House. There is a motion on now to suspend Standing Orders. That comes queerly at this time. I asked a question as to whether a speech which the President had made involved a discussion on Document No. 2 or 3, I don't care which. I have an answer to this document and I want to give that answer to the Irish people. Now, under the motion suspending the Standing Orders I take it that discussion on this document is ruled out. Is that right, sir?
Well, that is ruled out. The other side may say what they like, and they may put in any motion that they like, and they may take any action that they like, but we must not criticise them. That is the position that we have been put into. That is a position I won't accept from anybody; and no matter what happens to-day it won't be accepted by me. We will have no Tammany Hall methods here. Whether you are for the Treaty or whether you are against it, fight without Tammany Hall methods. We will not have them. A Committee was appointed by the House and the House was prevented from receiving the report of that Committee—it was prevented by three or four bullies (applause). Are you going to be held up by three or four bullies?
Is that a proper thing?
I ask the Minister of Finance to withdraw that term.
I can withdraw the term but the spoken word cannot be recalled. Is that right, sir? (Applause and laughter). This motion to suspend the Standing Orders is a motion to draw a red herring across our path here. And it is because of that that I, for one, cannot agree to it. We can have what we have been discussing for several days— we can have a straight vote for or against the Treaty. Have a straight vote and I am satisfied, whichever way it goes; because then we have shown that we can come to a decision. But don't try to employ those methods. The meaning of the suspension of the Standing Orders is nothing less than a red herring. On the motion before the House we can take a vote on the Treaty, and then the President can have his Cabinet that will work with him and for him.
Not for me.
I don't know whether or not we mean to have a discussion on the President's speech— there are things in it which I can tear to tatters—but under the Standing Orders I dare say we can. But on this, as on anything else, if you are going to strike a person about anything I say strike, and strike hard and strike and hear— hear first, anyway, the other side. This is an endeavour to put the other side into a position that we don't occupy and this motion to suspend the Standing Orders is simply a political dodge to put us in a false position.
As I raised the motion to suspend the Standing Orders I—— (Cries of "Order.")
The Minister of Finance has made a statement that the result of a meeting of eight or nine members of this body within the last twenty-four or forty-eight hours was prevented from being brought before us, and that this was the work of some bullies. He was asked to withdraw that. You have seen the way in which he withdrew it. I don't know to whom he referred when he mentioned this word "bullies." Possibly he may have referred to me as being one of them. In the ordinary way I would take exception and take offence at such a term being applied to me, but the amount of offence that I would take at it would be measured by the respect or esteem that I had for the character of the person who made the charge. In this particular instance I take no offence whatever. Now, the Minister for Finance says something about Tammany Hall methods. I know nothing about them. Possibly he does. He says that on this motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders he and his friends are precluded from discussing the statement made by the President in the speech which you have just heard. That is so. But when the Standing Orders have been suspended he and his friends can discuss any statements that have been made by the President. That's all I have to say.
In that case I am satisfied.
I would like to say I did not move it as a political dodge or as a red herring across the track. But as a private member I am sorry the President has resigned. I would prefer he had stayed until we had a vote on the Treaty.
I don't think you can put the motion. We are not going to have the rules of this House played and trafficked with to suit the political manœuvre of any Party in this House. There is a proper time for the step the President has taken, but this is not the time.
By Standing Order 5 it is laid down that: "The Chairman shall, at the request of a Deputy, suspend the orders of the day for the discussion of a special matter of national importance provided that, on a show of hands, the request has the support of ten Deputies." I submit that it does not require that there should be a formal motion to suspend the Standing Orders if any Deputy can secure the support of ten Deputies.
You have already ruled that the discussion upon the Standing Orders is permissible, and I want to resist the suspension of the Standing Orders, and I do it for this reason——
It is not the supension of the Standing Orders but the suspension of the orders of the day.
It is the same thing.
The point I would make if I were allowed to proceed—if those authorities on constitutional usage hadn't intervened—would be this: that the step that we are asked to take seems to me entirely out of harmony with constitutional usage. There is a time when it would be quite proper and quite opportune though, perhaps, regrettable for the President to take the step. That moment would be when he was defeated in this House upon the question which we are discussing—on the major issue, not now. I presume, sir, that that is a perfectly legitimate point to make. And therefore I suggest that to suspend the Standing Orders to discuss an unexpected pronouncement of the President is really an attempt to keep the Irish people still in the dark as to what is the real mind of the Dáil on the issue that is before us (cries of "No! no!"). Well why was this intervention of the President—so unfortunate, so unhappy, so regretted by every one of us, so premature—why was it made? He talks about trying to keep unity. Is there any step more calculated to split not only this Dáil, but to split the whole Irish nation and the whole Irish race than that which the President has now taken up? Is there any step more calculated to bring about that result? I think that this Dáil will be well advised now to refuse to suspend the Standing Orders, and continue the discussion on the question—the main point—whether this Treaty is to be ratified or not.
I rise to support the suspension of the Standing Orders. I do it on exactly the same grounds as the last speaker, and these are: that it is absolutely essential for the Irish people to be enlightened once for all on this matter, and that nothing will enlighten them so well as a direct policy on one side for the Republic, and on the other side for the Treaty, and I think it most essential that this motion should be put for that very purpose. The people in the country with all this talk of Documents 2 and 3 and now of X have been misled about the attitude of the President who, I think you will all agree with me, is the one supremely honourable man in this Dáil. And I think it is just because it is so muddled that a fair issue should be put before the people and the country. And for that reason I think it better to have the President's resignation with all it involves, with his clear statement of policy on the one side and, on the other side—then if the House defeats that policy, let them elect another President with a different policy, and then the issues are clear before the country.
Is it simply a question of policy—the question between the President and the Treaty? Will it be a vote between the Treaty on the one side and President de Valera on the other? (Cries of "No! no!")
I will explain clearly. I don't like to be misunderstood. I have done this in the interests of order both here in this House and all over Ireland. We can't keep up a Coalition of that kind. It is impossible; because Cabinet documents have been brought out. How could I carry on the Cabinet work if private drafts were exposed to the public? I want, therefore, to safeguard the nation by having a definite head and Government for the nation. We will have parties here if we continue. I don't know whether I have the confidence of the House or not, but at present I can do nothing.
I strongly protest as a private member against this motion.
I support the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. I presume the remarks of the Hon. member for Cork were intended for me. I am sorry that he has seen fit to make such a suggestion. I will say this: that I don't know anything about Tammany Hall except this, that if he had a little training in Tammany Hall, and reserved some of his bullying for Lloyd George we would not be in the position we are in to-day.
Now we are getting the dope.
If he had he would not have us in the position we are in to-day. I came back to this country to vote against the Treaty. I support the President of this Republic, and I am particularly glad he has knit the issue. Either we are a Government or we are not. If we are a Government we must have a head; and as we have lined up now in parties, I think that the resignation offered gives this House the opportunity to say whether it stands for a Government of the Irish people—a Government that was created by the will of the Irish people, and a Government that can only be destroyed by the power that created it—or whether it stands with the men who have come back to this Dáil with a Treaty which denies the existence of the Irish nation ("No! no!") and denies, in my opinion, the fact that we are a Government. We sent those plenipotentiaries to negotiate a Treaty; we sent them from Dáil Eireann. They returned with a document, not to Dáil Eireann, but to the Southern Parliament. Here is their opportunity now to have the issue clearly knit. I maintain that if the orders of the day be suspended, if the President's resignation be accepted and if he goes forward for re-election on a definite policy which he has clearly expressed, that that is proper and constitutional. As we are at present we are divided and he has taken this opportunity to place himself where he belongs. An attempt has been made and has succeeded in placing him, as the head of this nation, in a position that he does not occupy. It has gone out to the world that there is no question of principle dividing this House, and an attempt is being made to place the head of this nation in a false position. By his statement to-day he stands square on the Republic of Ireland; and he comes before us now for a vote of confidence. If he is elected the work of the Irish Republic will go on; and if the men who maintain that there is no Government of the Irish Republic, and that there never has been, want to knit the issue, now is the time to do it.
Is this in order?
If the men on the other side wished they could take this document to the Southern Irish Parliament and not to the Parliament of the Irish Republic. At a time like this I intended to move the re-election of President de Valera. I can't do that now. I have just spoken in support of suspending the orders of the day.
Cuirim in aghaidh an rúin go dian. Bhíomair anso ar feadh trí seachtaine, agus bhí an fáth céadna ag an Uachtarán le heirghe as i dtosach agus tá anois. Cad na thaobh nár dhin sé an uair sin é? I am here to protest strongly against the suspending of the Standing Orders; I think this attitude of our present President is treating us unfairly. An effort is being made to put us in the position of a lot of schoolboys, with us private members having no right here at all. The very same situation for the resignation of the President existed at the beginning of the Session as exists to-day; and why was it not brought forward then instead of being brought forward now? Why it was not brought forward then instead of now was to try and prejudice the issue on the vote on the Treaty. This is a question placing the personality of President de Valera on the one side and the Treaty on the other.
I want to interrupt on a point of order, that is, the regulations governing the procedure of this House. Paragraph 5 of the Standing Orders says: "The Chairman shall, at the request of a Deputy, suspend the Standing Orders for the discussion of a special matter of national importance provided that on a show of hands the request has the support of ten Deputies." Now I submit that your duty is to call for a show of hands and ascertain whether ten Deputies are in favour of the suspension of the Standing Orders.
I would like to say one word on that. The position is this: that the document has been under consideration since the 5th or 6th December last, and this "matter of urgent national importance" has lasted successfully up to the 6th January of the following year. This "urgent matter of national importance" is just as urgent now as on the 6th December, and no more urgent now than then. We are within, at most, forty-eight hours of a decision on the matter; and on the orders of the day it can be decided here and now. That settles the point; and I claim that this is not a matter of national importance within the meaning of the words, and the debate should be continued without interruption.
I maintain this motion is not treating the members of this Dáil fairly, nor is it treating the Irish nation fairly. When I spoke here on a previous occasion I said that ninety-five per cent. of the people of Galway were in favour of the Treaty. Now I can speak definitely and I say that ninety-nine per cent. of the people of Galway are in favour of this Treaty. Why should you here turn right round against the country and ignore the people? The people have some rights in this matter and they must be heard (hear, hear).
We have been here now, as Deputy Cosgrave said, for a considerable number of days and the question of the resignation of the President is no more urgent now than it has been for a considerable time past. I think if anyone wants a vote of confidence from this House he should have it, but let this debate proceed. We must be treated as we have a right to be treated in this House; and I would appeal to the Deputies to continue this debate or take a vote now, if you like, with no further speaking, unless the Minister for Foreign Affairs should wind it up. Let us have done with this wrangling—we are becoming a disgrace to the nation. I am Chairman of a Board of Guardians and if this wrangling went on there I would feel I was absolutely disgraced. The nation is tired of this wrangling; and I hold if we proceed any further we will be the laughing stock, not alone of Ireland but of the world. I appeal to the members and to the President. Let us have a vote inside of an hour if you like.
I have been asked by one of the Deputies to decide—that I should call for a show of hands as to whether this is a matter of national importance. My decision is, that for many days we have been discussing a matter of national importance and that that is the matter of national importance before us. I am not going to give any decision that would interfere with the taking of a vote upon the issue discussed up to the present. We will take a vote now on the supension of the orders of the day. The motion is as follows: "I beg to move the suspension of the orders of the day to deal with the President's resignation."
Before you put that I want, at least, the Irish public to know this: that the motion here discussed for a month past is "That Dáil Eireann approves of the Treaty signed in London by the plenipotentiaries." The terms of that motion were agreed upon between President de Valera and myself, and he agreed that I should wind up the discussion. I have listened here for days —during all that time—to arguments and attacks on my honour and the honour of my fellow-delegates and I have said nothing. I have waited to wind up this discussion. President de Valera now says he must have a Cabinet that works with him, but at the end of the last session of the Dáil—before Christmas —he asked the Cabinet to stand and work together. We are standing together. There has been no trouble so far as I am aware. I remained Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michael Collins for Finance and Mr. Cosgrave for Local Government. I want to know why this matter is sprung now instead of letting the motion be taken in the ordinary course. If the vote is adverse to us, well and good. If it is adverse to the President he can do what he suggests to do now. Why we should be stopped in the middle of this discussion and a vote taken on the personality of President de Valera I don't understand; and I don't think my countrymen will understand it (hear, hear).
I am sick and tired of politics—so sick that no matter what happens I would go back to private life. I have only seen politics within the last three weeks or a month. It is the first time I have seen them and I am sick to the heart of them. Now I am told this is a special political manœuvre. Mr. Boland came back from America, and then there is talk of Tammany Hall; but I make up my mind for myself, now and always. Mr. Boland didn't know anything about it until I myself told him this morning. Only I see mean things. It is because I will not keep the responsibility of doing things if I am not to work as in the past; and therefore, if you decide to have a vote on this Treaty within forty-eight hours, have it or have my responsibility for doing things that I can't do. For instance there is the case in to-day's papers. Some one was kidnapped, and the Minister of Finance sent some one to make enquiries. He had no right to send anybody. There is a Minister for Defence and a Minister for Foreign Affairs. There should be a Government where some one man would be responsible.
I sent these men off under the orders of my superior officer.
The persons responsible are the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence. These are the people responsible for that. There must be undivided authority and undivided responsibility. I will not hold office with divided responsibility. That is a matter that anybody who has done Executive work will understand. If this House wants to take a vote on a straight issue I don't want to draw any red herring across. It is because I am straight that I meet crookedness with straight dealing always, and I have beaten crookedness with straight dealing. If I tried to beat crookedness with similar methods we are undone. What matters to the nation is, always to stand in that we are able to face the enemy. If you have crooked methods there is always the back door to them by which you will be taken in the rere. Truth will always stand no matter from what direction it is attacked. I detest trickery. What has sickened me most is that I got in this House the same sort of dealing that I was accutsomed to over in America from other people of a similar kind—because, holding the position that I do, I don't want to see it tarnished. If the people of Clare wanted me to resign they could say so. I got telegrams telling me how these motions were passed and I could read them to the House.
Do read them.
Insinuations about me have hurt me—because every man and woman who has dealt with me here knows that I am standing exactly where I stood. I tried to reconcile very difficult things and tried to solve the problems as far as I was able. I know what others didn't know: where the verge of the precipice was, and nothing would have pulled me beyond it —not even Lloyd George and all his Empire could have brought me over it. Therefore, I am straight with everybody and I am not a person for political trickery; and I don't want to pull a red herring across. If there is a straight vote in this House I will be quite satisfied if it is within forty-eight hours.
President de Valera says a vote within forty-eight hours. I quite agree. Let us have a vote on Monday morning. (Cries of "To-morrow.") I don't want, as I said, to prevent anybody from speaking here, but let it be to-morrow if the House wishes it.
I suggest that private members can get until lunch time to-morrow to explain their views and after that that the discussion be wound up by the Ministers.
By arrangement with the Whips the Minister for Defence was to speak last, and if you come to an arrangement to take a vote to-morrow, let the Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs wind up the debate. Carry on till ten o'clock tonight and take a vote to-morrow.
I take it, in view of what the President and the other Ministers have said, that the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders is withdrawn and that the discussion proceeds. (Cries of "Yes!")
I was out of order, it seems, when endeavouring to raise a point of order in connection with this motion. The point is this: I say distinctly that no Treaty has been signed— that we have not signed a Treaty. If a Treaty has been signed at any rate it has not been produced to us. We have seen a document which, as I understand, is of the nature of practically an agreed agenda for a discussion which is to take place in London between our plenipotentiaries and the British plenipotentiaries if this Dáil approves. Now, I will read on that point an authority of a sufficiently distinguished constitutional lawyer, with whom our plenipotentiaries came into intimate contact in London. It is very regrettable, I think, that we should have to go to Hansard for information of this kind. The Irish people have been told that there is a Treaty before them when there is no such thing. There is no such document in existence. There is such a document to be prepared if this Dáil vote away its existence as the Government of the Irish Republic and not until then. Lord Birkenhead, answering a question by the Earl of Midleton on the 16th December, said: "If and when the representatives of Dáil Eireann approve of these Articles of Agreement it will be necessary that there shall be meetings in order to deal with matters which are supplemental, and must necessarily be added in order to make the document a complete one." Now, we have been instructed here that we have a complete and unalterable Treaty before us. It is distinctly told us here that there is no such thing; that there are to be further discussions and alterations in this Treaty over which this body will have no control. These will be agreed upon after discussion between the negotiators. Lord Birkenhead continues: "I most sincerely hope, and have every reason to believe, that when that part of the subject is reached which concerns the noble Earl (Earl of Midle ton) he and his colleagues will be consulted, and that which has been agreed upon will, of course, be presented to Parliament in the form of an agreed Treaty. Only then have we the Treaty in front of us." It is very regrettable that this Dáil hadn't that information all its disposal and that we had to go to Hansard to get most vital points like this cleared up. If any of you will take the trouble again to look over the Treaty you will find that there are only three or four points definitely determined. One important point is the oath; there are other subsidiary points, such as the ports, religious endowments and one or two things of that kind, but the rest of the body of the Treaty and signatures of the Treaty about the law and the "subject"—all the rest is to be investigated and decided without the knowledge of this House. Now, I want to make a personal explanation before going on to speak on this matter. I heard, I don't say whether with regret or not, under the very tragic circumstances, the President tendering his resignation as President of the Irish Republic—nothing else could be done. I am ashamed to say that during the Secret Sessions of this Dáil—in August I think it was—I heard some whispers going round about the position of the President and I raised the question, though absolutely raw and new to the House—I raised the question in the form of a suggestion. I said, in reference to the motion brought forward by the Minister of Defence, that if it came to a question between the President of the Republic and the Republic that, much as we were attached to the President, we were still more attached to the Republic. Now I want to make a most full and complete apology for that. I have to say that, during the course of all those discussions behind closed doors, I never heard a single word let drop by any person on any side—we had only one side then—no single word was let drop which suggested that the Republic was going to be turned down, and I, for one, knew nothing about the possibility of the Republic being turned down until I read in the newspapers the Articles of Agreement. Now, we have been united in this Dáil in one of the most splendid comradeships—and before we met in the Dáil—I have had very little part in it, but we have been united in one of the most splendid comradeships in an unselfish endeavour of any fight for liberty that was ever seen. It is the most tragic thing, I think, in all our history that that comradeship should be broken as it has been. I heard a suggestion, a horrible suggestion, that the President of the Republic was prepared to plunge Ireland into a terrible and immediate war for a quibble of words. I think that that is a most atrocious statement. A quibble of words! Now, there has been a lot of talk about quibbles of words. I would like definitely, once and for all, to pin down these anti-quibblers to one horn or to the other horn of their own dilemma. They can't continue to sit between them. They say in one breath that the difference between the two things is a quibble of words and then, in the next, that it is so immense as to involve terrible and disastrous and immediate war. Now that is a dilemma. I say that England does not fight for quibbles. She fights for realities. If this thing is a quibble of words it is a folly to talk of war, and if it is a reality it is dishonest to talk of quibbles. There are times when antipathy to quibbles may be pushed too far. And I think it was pushed too far when these Articles of Agreement were accepted in Downing Street and presented to us as though they were Holy Writ itself or the Ten Commandments, incapable of alteration or improvement. I don't want to labour unduly the circumstances of the signing of these Articles. We are told that they were signed, by some delegates at least, under threat of immediate war. Now, what was the issue? The issue was not it didn't lie between the acceptance and rejection of these terms. The issue was simply this: that our delegates should take twenty-four hours to go back and consult their Cabinet as they had promised to do, before signing. Upon that issue we are told that Lloyd George was prepared to hurl the thunderbolt of war, not only on Ireland, but on his own people in England and on the world. I can't realise any man with a grain of sense coming here and putting such a suggestion before the people. It was said that there was a plea of urgency, and that Sir James Craig was waiting in his parlour for a letter from Lloyd George and he could not wait twenty-four hours. Well, Sir James Craig had been waiting the Dáil's answer for more than twenty-four hours because, until the Dáil approves of the Articles he has to wait, and he is waiting for more than twenty-four hours. The issue was not a bit more urgent when the document was signed than it is now. But I say that if Lloyd George endeavours to hasten the the deliberation of this assembly by one hour under threat of immediate war he will get his answer, or I don't know the temper of this Dáil. Now, I am sorry —I probably should not speak at all because there is really nothing to say. However, I hope to discuss the examination of the Treaty in a new light afterwards. But it has been put up to us that what is good enough for Michael Collins is good enough for Ireland. Well, I don't know whether it is good enough for him or not. But the real situation is, if you pursue that line of argument, that what is good enough for Lloyd George is good enough for Birkenhead, and what is good enough for Birkenhead is good enough for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and what is good enough for the Minister for Foreign Affairs is good enough for the Minister for Defence and, finally, good enough for Ireland. Now, it was stated on the opening day by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that ninety-five per cent. of the Irish people desire this Treaty. Well, I say that there were more rejoicings in the camp of the enemy when this Treaty was signed than amongst the Irish people. We never heard such a clang of joybells of the Empire since Waterloo. Over there in Mayo—and God bless Mayo as always— over there now there were no joybells. There were no fires. There was not a candle lit to celebrate the Emancipation —the Emancipation of the Irish nation after seven hundred years. But when one poor prisoner who had been suffering was liberated and returned to the home that he knew, the whole countryside would be ablaze. One was liberation, the other was not. And when the people know—because the instinct of the people is always sound, as some people may learn—perhaps I am not quite correct in the last statement or in the penultimate statement. I said there were no fires. As a matter of fact there was one bonfire lit in the town of Swinford, by the R.I.C. and the Black-and-Tans, to celebrate the victory for the wonderful liberty.
Your old friends of recruiting days.
That is a most disorderly remark and it should never have been made.
I withdraw it.
I am very glad that that has been said here in this House. I heard it said last night that I was on a recruiting platform. I am not going to contradict it. There is one explanation of that. I presided in 1918 at Foxford at an anti-conscription meeting. It was addressed by Mr. Griffith, and for presiding there I got four months in jail. In addressing that meeting I said, because I knew the people to whom I was talking understood the reference, I said that the last time I had been at a meeting in Foxford it was at a recruiting meeting. They knew what I meant. They knew that a meeting which had been held outside the Chapel gates as we were leaving—held by the organisers sent down by John Redmond—was the recruiting meeting I meant; and now I am taunted with being on recruiting platforms.
Now I hope we will have no more interjections of this kind from any quarter during the remainder of this discussion. They are most improper, and the points which the people who are making these interjections are trying to make are never worth making.
With all deference I say I have some respect for the men who go on making insinuations here. But I have no respect for the men who are sending insinuations all over the country through subterranean channels where they can never be seen again.
I am glad the Minister for Foreign Affairs agrees. I am quite sure he is not responsible for any thing of the kind. Now, the people of Ireland don't like the Treaty. They may acquiesce in it for a time, but when they learn—they don't know what it is yet—but when they do find out I think that some people now who have come here and told us that we must take this Treaty as Holy Writ, that these people will find their constituents complaining that they didn't enlighten them a little further about it before they got this unknown quantity. I would like to believe, and I still do believe, that the majority of the supporters in this House, of the Teachtaí supporting the Treaty, are only play-acting. Fancy, if you can, Commandant MacKeown tolling the death knell of the Republic. And fancy the Minister for Foreign Affairs coming here and in his opening speech re-assuring this House on four separate vital points, re-assuring them on the authority, of all persons, of Lloyd George. I wondered if he had ever read the pages ofNationality or of Young Ireland. The young soldier Deputies are supporting the Treaty because they think they can equate it in terms of decimal 303. That is grave play-acting. If you take the Treaty as a jumping-off point to give you an opportunity of attacking England in the dark under cover of friendship, I say it is unfair to the Irish people to pretend that this is a Treaty of peace. I hold that it is not legitimate, as was suggested, to deceive your enemy under all circumstances. I hold it is not legitimate now, but it is never legitimate to deceive your own people. Now, the position is this: the Irish people are being told that this is a Treaty of peace. The Army, some of them anyhow, are being told that it gives an opportunity of striking again. The English people are being told that it will bring an abiding peace. I think that it is pretty clear that somebody is going to be let down. If you use the Treaty as an instrument of war it will justify every brutality that England can inflict upon you in crushing Ireland out of existence. You will go to war, you will go to fight, self-confessed rebels, having sworn your fealty to your King. You will go to war as perjurers having broken your oath; and I don't think that the world will have much sympathy for perjurers, whatever treatment they get.
We got a lot of sympathy up to this.
Well, I think we did. I think we got a lot of sympathy up to the 5th December. I don't think we have much now. If you think you can reach a Republic or liberty by a breach of this Treaty afterwards you will range the opinion of the whole world for the first time on the side of Great Britain against Ireland; and I think if you realise that the opinion of the world had, at least, a deterrent effect upon England in the last fight—fight clean or don't fight at all. We desire, and I am sure in reality all the parties in this House desire, to walk if possible side by side with England in a real friendship. That, of course, would be the simplest and most honourable and pleasant path for us all. We don't want war with Britain either now or hereafter. We don't want war as an alternative to the Treaty as has been suggested; but we want an alternative to this Treaty as an alternative to the inevitable war that will follow its acceptance. The Treaty or immediate war has been used to stampede the Irish people. I hold it was a dishonest threat. It was dishonest in its source from the beginning at Downing Street; but people here in Ireland, some of them at any rate, are using it honestly now. Now, in reference to the Treaty itself: we couldn't be too careful in examining the document which, I hold, is in effect, the assignment of the sovereign rights of Ireland to Britain. We owe it to Ireland to examine at least what is left for ourselves. Even the Republicans have a duty in that respect. If the Treaty is to be forced upon the people the Deputies ought to make it the best possible Treaty. Now, I was going to suggest a way out of this by which we can have some kind of unanimity. Since we have been told—since we know definitely what these Articles of Agreement are— only preparatory to the Treaty, I think that the Republican side of the House might possibly be induced to refrain from voting against the Treaty on one condition: and that is: that the acceptance should be given conditionally upon the Treaty being, in reality what it has been pretended by Lloyd George to be, and what it has been represented as to the Irish people. They say that they give us the same liberty as Canada. Well, in a sense, Canada is completely free, because she is a daughter of the Empire; and she has complete internal freedom now. But I would like to know are the supporters of the Treaty prepared to make it a condition of their acceptance that Ireland shall have the same real freedom as Canada has now? That we shall have complete freedom; that, in fact, all legislative, Executive and judicial authority in Ireland shall spring from the Irish people? I think that possibly there might be a way out by which some people might not vote against the Treaty if they would put it forward in that conditional way. But I am greatly afraid that they won't do so. I don't say that Britain would necessarily accept it, but I think she might. However, that is only a suggestion put forward, because I hold that if Ireland is going to be plunged into this thing that she shall not be plunged any more deeply than is quite necessary. Now, as to the Constitution of Canada. I want to examine the Treaty as briefly as I can. We get the constitutional status of Canada. Now, that is a very different matter from the liberty of Canada. Under that status, as defined in the terms of the agreement, the British Parliament is supreme over the lives, the liberties and fortunes of every Irishman and Irishwoman; and no Irish Parliament that you can set up under the Free State can protect them. The authority of the British Privy Council is higher than the authority of your Government under these Articles of Agreement. That is not a very pleasant predicament. We know something of the doings of the Privy Council in the past. Why not insist, at any rate, before you put your names to these Articles of Agreement that you see the Treaty? Why not postpone the motion until you would have the Treaty put in front of you? We would know then where we were. You have not done so. About the Governor-General—we have heard nothing about him. I heard it suggested to-day that the Governor General was to be called the Tanist of Tara as a concession to Irish sentiment, because we are such a sentimental people. They brought back the flag— another concession to sentiment. They brought back the substance of the flag— not a shadow, not a symbol. They left the symbol behind in Downing Street where they had no authority to leave it. They brought back a yard of calico and a couple of packages of Diamond Dyes. That's the flag of the Irish Free State, but it does not stand for liberty. Now, I wonder do all the Deputies by now realise that the Governor-General has the full powers of the British Government in Ireland. It has been suggested that under the saving clause of constitutional usage these powers, which are obsolete in Canada, shall not be exercised in Ireland; but have we forgotten—we in Ireland—have we forgotten how often has England dug deep in the debris of centuries for obsolete weapons against the Irish people? She has never used them against Canada. It will be poor satisfaction afterwards, when Ireland is stabbed through the heart, to say that the weapon was rusty, obsolete, antiquated. Then there is the oath— but if there is anything we are tired of it is oaths. I want to view the oath in a new light. I am sure that we are all convinced now that oaths are the lightest things on earth, and conscience the toughest thing in creation. The Irish people don't care a word about conscience. All it concerns them is the effect it has on themselves. It is not the people who take the oath and break it. The Irish people are bound down within the four corners of this oath and they can't escape from it. People come here and say they will drive a coach and four through the oath; but they won't release the Irish people from their obligations. The metaphor is very appropriate. In the one case it is really four-in-hand. You have the Oath of Allegiance to the Act of Parliament which sets up the Irish Free State. You have the declaration or promise—a provisional promise, somebody said—fidelity to the present King of England. I never heard before of this kind of conditional partnership between a subject and his sovereign. That is certainly a new constitutional status. Again, well you have common citizenship. I would like to ask whether the Minister for Foreign Affairs arranged with Lloyd George as to which was which; as to whether Mr. Lloyd George became an Irish citizen or the Minister for Foreign Affairs became a British citizen. You can't have a hermaphrodite citizen, partly one thing and partly another. I wonder do the Deputies realise the obligations that are imposed on Ireland by this British citizenship. The victory that we have won after seven hundred and fifty years' struggle is to become citizens of Great Britain. I don't like the odious phrase that has been used here: to rattle the bones of the dead. But do we realise that, by declaring that the people of Ireland are British citizens, that we declare also that every man who died for Ireland is a rebel? That is a thing we never admitted before. Then, of course, there is the four-fold allegiance to the King as head of the British Empire. That is the latest of allegiances. To deny altogether this oath—that needs some breaking. We are not to have any navy. I confess that was not such a terrible grievance. I was not much moved by the complaint of Deputy Milroy that President de Valera's proposal was worse than the Treaty, because he robbed us of our submarines. I hold that the submarine is a mean and a treacherous form of attack, and I hope that in our relations with Britain we shall have no necessity for mean or treacherous action at any time.
You have great faith in her.
That is a different thing from leaving Britain in permanent control of our defences. I hold we have a right to absolute freedom to protect the people of the country—by our land defences at least. Then there is the question of taxation. I see that theFreeman's Journal said yesterday that the difference between the two—the Treaty and Document Two or Three—was that Document Two or Three did not provide for evacuation. Now I would like anyone to show me a single line in the Treaty that compels the British Government to withdraw a single soldier from this country. There is a promise read to the Dáil in answer— a reply on the day of the first sitting— by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the evacuation will begin within a month. But there was no talk of when it was ending. I suppose, as a matter of fact, it is wrong to quibble between the beginning and the end. But it makes a very important difference to the Irish people. It strikes me as one of the peculiar ironies of the situation that the Ulster constituencies are proposing double-barrelled resolutions that their members should have double-barrelled votes to shoot them out of the Irish nation, for that is what it comes to. You believe that under the Articles of Agreement you are to get a fair delimitation of boundary. I hold that England is going to trick you in that article; that Sir James Craig will be left with an equivalent of six counties and, as history stood here in Ireland, there is not a single guarantee that that will not be so. You think the wishes of the population, you think geographic and economic conditions will count. I know how the map is read in England. We remember that argument well enough— geographical propinquity. England can translate her geography as she pleases, but I say it is a desperate thing that you should commit this Dáil to blindly binding themselves to accept provisions which are capable of only one interpretation, that which would mean a loss of hundreds of square miles. They are only entitled to three-and-a-half counties on the basis of population. But those double-barrelled members—I don't say they are anxious to do it but they will do it— they will place these two-and-a-half counties permanently in the possession of Craig and his successors—permanently in the possession of a hostile state, for he won't be there for ever. I don't think I have any more to say, but I would, at least, urge the supporters of the Treaty to insist, before they sign it, that England shall not be allowed to put her own hostile interpretation upon the words of the Treaty; that you will bind her down in some way or other in your resolution, should it pass this House, to deliver the goods according to the specification. That much, at least, you owe to the Irish people.
I will be very brief. During the recess I went down to the country to my constituency. Some people there said: "You are taking a long time to discuss this matter." Others said: "You are quite right in taking a reasonable time in discussing this momentous question before coming to a final decision"; and with the latter I agree, only I would make a suggestion that perhaps it would have been better at the very beginning if there had been a time limit to the speeches of the various Deputies. However, as the cordon is about to fall, it does not matter much now. Recently we have heard a lot about Press tyranny, about the metropolitan Press; and one would imagine that the metropolitan Press of Ireland had only to print anything, under any head or any article, and that the article would be swallowed with avidity by the Irish public. Now I state that such is not a fact, and I state this: that no Irishman or Irishwoman will venture to tell me, I think, that during the last four or five years the Press of Ireland, the metropolitan Press, have been unanimously with our programme. In view of the fact that we have not had a daily Press—I know of only one provincial newspaper, theWaterford News, that has been Sinn Féin, though there may be other daily newspapers—how can any man say that the country is being stampeded by the Irish Press? Now, as regards the public Boards I think that the public Boards have a perfect right to express their opinions either for or against the ratification of this Treaty, because, if the public Boards do not speak, how are you going to get the opinions of the Irish people except, perhaps, by a plebiscite or a referendum? I am not in ecstacies over this Treaty; at the same time I consider that it deserves very careful consideration; and I go so far as to say that it deserves ratification. We have heard a lot about birds. We have, undoubtedly, a bird in the hand; the other day we had a bird in the bush but I don't see him there now. There is a third bird there now; I have not, as yet, had a good look at him; but if he is a good alternative to the ratification of this Treaty then I am willing to consider him. Now, we have heard a lot about accentuating feeling in this Dáil between the members, but I refuse to believe that there is any undue acrimony or bitterness here; and I go so far as to say that we are not in a state of strained relations. Now, the Treaty has been discussed over and over again, clause by clause, then word for word; and it is a very difficult thing to get any new ground to break. However, perhaps a very brief look to see what conditions we derive from this Treaty will not be out of place. I have, in Private Session, stated that I am voting for this Treaty and I state publicly here now that I am voting for it. If first we look at the financial arrangements, we get complete fiscal autonomy; we have complete charge and complete powers; and it is not necessary for anyone to endeavour to point out what a sympathetic native Government can do for the country and for the people. There is one other point on the financial question which I don't recollect any Deputy to have spoken about. Seventy years ago the population of Ireland was, roughly, double what it is to-day. Our people had to fly the land, because there was no work, because all the laws which may have been good in themselves were unjustly administered—the people had to fly because there was no work for them. Now each of these people who had to fly our land was of a certain financial value to the country; I think that, roughly, the loss to the country can be estimated at about one or two billion pounds; and I think that is a point that will be recollected when the Financial Committee of England and Ireland will meet. I think this Treaty deserves ratification and I support this Treaty because there is some finality in it; and I support it because, when I went to my constituents in Waterford during Christmas, they suggested to me that it deserved ratification. Now, I have very carefully listened to the various Deputies both for and against the Treaty and I must say, as has been already said here, that neither side can claim a monopoly of patriotism. Many of those speeches appealed to my heart and not to my reason. We have in this Treaty, not the shadows, but the substance; and if any one can show me any other way out which is better for the Irish people and the Irish nation I am ready and willing to listen to him. We have complete control over our trade and commerce. We are entitled, if we so wish, to have a standing army of between thirty-five thousand and forty thousand men; and, finally, we have the evacuation of the British forces, bag and baggage, from Ireland. I submit accordingly that we have in this Treaty a solid foundation on which we can place a fulcrum and on which fulcrum we can place a lever— a lever to self-determination—and I am sure as time progresses we will have an opportunity of finally having an Irish nation as God intended us to, and of being in the premier rank of the nations. I think it was Parnell who said: “We fight for freedom and not for faction.” United we stand and divided we fall. I wish to say, in conclusion, that if there is any alternative that can lead us to better things than this Treaty forces upon us, I, for one, will be very delighted and very glad to hear of it.
In my own plain, direct, if not too lucid way, I would like to fire a few shots at this Treaty—metaphorically speaking. To begin with, it seems to me that the Republic is at stake. Ratifiers should remember that we poor, benighted Republicans have not yet seen the light. They themselves did not see the light two months ago. If we lose our tempers a bit and think terrible things of them it should be charitably remembered that the ratifiers have changed, and it is their duty to listen patiently to us and then try to answer our questions. The Deputy for Clontarf, Deputy Mulcahy, sees no alternative. It is the Republic. The Republic is at stake and I don't care a rap whose reputation is torn up for bandages. This is the same man who often before declared to me that there was no danger of compromise. To my mind this compromise has been lurking in the ante-camera of many a cerebrum for the past three years. It was conceived when the Volunteers were denied a general convention three years ago; it passed through the embryo form when the Volunteers began to be controlled solely from Dublin Headquarters; it became a chrysalis when Dublin H.Q. became a wage-earning business, when District H.Q. were set up by General H.Q. and paid to control men who fought the war, aye, and won it, without any appreciable assistance from Dublin Headquarters. One division in the South refused this money and they were told that it would be made a point of discipline if they did not accept. On the night prior to the Tuesday morning on which the Treaty was announced in the papers, the Chief of Staff laughed at me for again expressing to him and the Military Officer in Limerick, the fear that all these mysterious goings-on in London foreboded nothing but compromise—for truth and straight-dealing flourish in the light. Yes! Now we have got our beautiful compromises hatched out—just like all compromises, like the mule—it is barren. Our Chief Officer stated, and the Minister for Finance and others maintained, that the acceptance of this invitation amounted to an attempt at compromise. All I would say about that is this: that we trusted him, and it is hardly fair for him to blame us for trusting him. Now, the appeal to humanity is: are we going to give our moral or immoral support to England in her efforts to crush Egypt and India, which countries have given us the sincerest form of flattery by imitating us? For my part I would give no support to any attempt at association with England, either politically or economically, while she is suppressing with brute force any people—much less such splendid peoples as the Hindoos and Egyptians. Men who call ideals and symbols shadows and unrealities are, to my mind, defective human beings. I would ask the Irish people—yes, and the English people, too—for our quarrel is with the few English ruling families only —I would ask these peoples can you ever again trust these men, shall you trust them now? I will say this to the English people: do you not think that if you wish an honourable world peace, it would be better for you, for us, and for humanity as a whole that you fix up a humane peace—if I may put it like that —with all your present subject peoples. Why not call a conference of these peoples and the British peoples and hammer out anentente cordiale—a workable confederation of sovereign states into which other nations could be invited if we saw fit. I think there are great possibilities in that suggestion and I wonder it has not been suggested by someone who could attract attention. What I am going to say now may appear on the surface to be a contradiction of what I have just suggested—I wish to state emphatically that no people have the right to go into any empire, much less an Empire that is based on a big section of downtrodden humanity. They have no right because it would mean slavery of some type; and no form of slavery is a fit state for free-willed human beings; therefore, if we are in the minority of one, there will be one to fight against it. I wish to state that this Treaty does not mean peace; and I think that should be fairly obvious by this time. Chaos would be better by far than degradation. It may not seem to be degradation to many people, but it does seem so to some and these some may not have it. Those who are breaking away can come back; we cannot change, we who regard ideals and symbols as something worth while. I say that chaos can be avoided and peace will be at least possible if those who have changed return to the Republic; if not we will have chaos and war. This paper which I will now read for you will prove the serious view that thousands of Volunteers take of this thing that appears to be a betrayal. It is a copy of a letter received by me to-day. Here it is: “In view of the false rumours that have been circulated about Dublin to the effect that we, the undersigned, have declared ourselves favourable to the acceptance of the proposed Treaty of Agreement between the Irish plenipotentiaries and those of Great Britain, we desire, first, to enter our emphatic protest against the use of our Division of the Army to influence public opinion and the opinion of members of Dáil Eireann in the direction favourable to the Treaty; and we desire, secondly, to state that we maintain unimpaired our allegiance to the Irish Republic and to it alone. The Divisions comprise the following Brigades: 1st Southern Division: Cork, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Brigade. Kerry, Nos. 1, 2, 3 Brigade; West Limerick Brigade; Waterford Brigade. Dublin Brigade. 3rd Southern Division: Tipperary No. 1 Brigade; Offaly No. 2 Brigade; Leix Brigade. Signed on behalf of the above mentioned Divisions and Brigades, Liam Lynch, O.C. 1st Southern Division; Ernán O Máille, O.C. 2nd Southern Division; Oscar Traynor, O.C. Dublin Brigade; Micheál MacCormaic, O.C. 3rd Southern Division.”
That does not speak for East Limerick and I don't know that it speaks for the other Divisional Commandants either.
I think it is scarcely right for any officers to be using the name of the army at all.
It is done now.
It may seem a terrible thing to do.
Who signed for the Brigades?
There is no signature.
I would ask that the army be allowed to keep its discipline.
The army has always been regarded as the army pure and simple. I submit that it is not so. If we had no political outlook we would not be soldiers at all.
I know that they are citizen-soldiers. The point is that bringing them up as Brigades is not wise.
I think the Volunteers have been very badly treated. The Volunteers demand a veto on the change of our country's constitution. We are not a national army in the ordinary sense; we are not a machine pure and simple; we have political views as soldiers. For the purpose of this veto I here demand a general convention of the Volunters who are not Truce Volunteers. The Volunteers never gave up their right to a general convention— the Oath of Allegiance in this weak, in this changeable Dáil was not sanctioned by the general convention. If this convention is granted I, with I am sure all Volunteers, would refrain from certain terrible action that will be necessary if the Treaty is forced on us without our consent as an Army of Volunteers. There is no fear of the outcome of a renewal of war.
Our war is not a war between two ordinary nations such as England and Germany; England had no German subjects. Our position is unique; we can, and will if necessary, strike the Empire where and how no other people could do it—except the Scotch and Welsh if they should so choose. The English ruling families know this well; one of their delegates declared our war to be a peculiar war— enough said! We are not a definite objective to the British, while they will always be a vulnerable objective to the Irish Empire, because one thousand effective shots and one thousand effective fires in Britain would ruin England for ever; while we could recover any damage in five years—we have no debt and no great factories, comparatively speaking and their destruction would mean comparatively little to us. We could fight the English for three years—the English themselves could not fight us for longer than six months, especially if we took the fight up seriously in England as well as in Ireland and India and Egypt. Perhaps we will be told again and again that we would be exterminated. There will always be ten Irishmen who will even up matters some day, should it be ninety years hence. Dr. White says England would lose India and Egypt and England itself—every man—rather than lose Ireland. Does the doctor, does not every Irishman care as much about Ireland as the English do? Irishmen, are you working for your country? There are many people in the Dáil and in the country and all over the world, who can not understand big questions of such complication as this Treaty, and haven't time to form an opinion, and who, naturally, will form their opinion on, or rather take their opinion from, their pet hero. There are many thousand people enthusiastic supporters of the Treaty simply because Michael Collins is its mother—possibly Arthur Griffith would be called its father. Now, it is only natural and right that many people should follow almost blindly a great and good man. But suppose you know that such a man was not really such a great man; and that his reputation and great deeds of daring were in existence only on paper and in the imagination of people who read stories about him. If Michael Collins is the great man he is supposed to be, he has a right to influence people and people ought to be influenced by him. Now Dr. MacCartan said that he could understand many people saying: "What is good enough for Michael Collins is good enough for me." Arthur Griffith has called Collins "the man who won the war." The Press has called him the Commander-in-Chief of the I.R.A. He has been called "a great exponent of guerilla warfare" and the "elusive Mike" and we have all read the story of the White Horse. There are stories going round Dublin of fights he had all over the city—the Custom House in particular. If Michael Collins was all that he has been called then I will admire him and respect his opinions, if my little mind cannot comprehend his present attitude towards the Republic and this Treaty. Now, from my knowledge of character and psychology, which I'm conceited enough to think is not too bad, I'm forced to think that the reported Michael Collins could not possibly be the same Michael Collins who was so weak as to compromise the Republic.
On a point of order. Are we discussing Michael Collins or the Treaty?
Or are we impeaching him?
The weak man who signed certainly exists and just as certainly therefore, I believe the reported Michael Collins did not ever exist. If Michael Collins who signed the Treaty ever did the wonderful things reported of him then I'm another fool. But before I finally admit myself a fool I want some authoritative statement. I want, and I think it all important that the Dáil, the country, aye, and the world, got authoritative answers to the following questions: (a) What positions exactly did Michael Collins hold in the army? (b) Did he ever take part in any armed conflict in which he fought by shooting; the number of such battles or fights; in fact, is there any authoritative record of his having ever fired a shot for Ireland at an enemy of Ireland?
Is this in order?
I don't want to interrupt but I think it is as near not discussing the Treaty as possible.
Now, so far as I know, Michael Collins came over from London as I came from Glasgow to avoid Conscription.
That's not true.
and to fight for Ireland instead of for England; and if Michael Collins says—and he has said it here—that the fight that we have been waging for two-and-a-half years is an impossible war, well it gives me furiously to think—bluff, coercion, duress, treachery and the lot. Somebody used the word "impeach"—well, that is true. Delegates are in the dock to some extent at least; they have done something that at first sight, at least, appears to be—well, treason. I maintain that they have been guilty of the act of high treason and betrayal; I believe they were guilty deliberately but not maliciously. In fairness to themselves they must clear themselves for they will be judged through all the coming years. I'll try to confine myself to facts and obvious points mostly. I will try to draw a few fair inferences: (1) Remember Lloyd George is a past master in political stage craft. (2) Remember Wilson and the London atmosphere. (3) Remember Arthur Griffith could hardly be bluffed nor Michael Collins. Arthur Griffith is a match for Lloyd George and Lloyd George is a match for Arthur Griffith. (4) Remember when these two men came together it is possible that they both soon realised that if they fought neither would win; and they realised also that there might be a way in which they could both win a victory over their respective Cabinets. (5) There is clear proof that two delegates signed under duress and that two delegates and one say that there was no duress. (6) Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins declared they really did not sign under duress though they speak of the time limit and the threat of terrible and immediate war. By the way, let us take Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins at their word and believe they were not forced to sign; then they must have done this with, shall I say, malice aforethought; and must have aided by their signatures and demeanour to bluff and stampede the rest of the delegation into signing too—that is how the matter strikes me, anyhow. Arthur Griffith declares he would not break on the Crown. I suggest Lloyd George knew this, too; and our Cabinet knew it; and in order to safeguard themselves and the Republic they gave the delegates instructions not to sign any final draft before submitting it to the Cabinet. Remember that Lloyd George probably knew—must have known—that the Republican Government would have rejected the Treaty as it stands had it come unsigned. Remember Arthur Griffith would not like to lose the child of former dreams of his life's labour, more especially when, as far as he could see, there was no chance of getting his newer step-son or foster-child—the Republic. I submit Lloyd George knew this, too; and that he probably saw—I'd say he did see—the possibility of satisfying Arthur Griffith and of making himself appear the greatest of British statesmen in eight hundred years by giving us Dominion Home Rule. Would it be too much to say that these two men came to an agreement to force, gently, this Treaty, down the necks of their respective Cabinets—with Michael Collins a willing backer the thing would not seem too difficult. Remember, Lloyd George and Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins had meetings at which the other delegates were not present. Remember that now these men—Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins—declare that they want substance, that they are not idealists; could they not have been of the same mind before, that is, previous to signing the Treaty? Remember that if Lloyd George, Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins thought that if they had a right to put their scheme on their respective countries—after all they could say and justly so: "We know this is the only, and therefore the best way Irish co-operation can be reconciled with the British Commonwealth of Nations"—they would know also that it would not be a success unless it could be bluffed on us and slipped on us; and would require very careful handling and a judicious amount of realistic stage play —a chance for Lloyd George here. Hence I submit this is the origin of the time limit, the immediate and terrible war threat, the appearance of armed auxiliaries rushing around Dublin and the making of camps all over Ireland just previous to the time for signing the Treaty. Look here, all this was not arranged in a couple of hours. Remember that negotiations were going on for eight weeks, was it. All the talks must surely have been on details only, they must have been leaving essentials,i.e., the oath and status to the end. It seems a strange way of doing business, and I'm afraid the Cabinet as a whole are not altogether without blame for this. Again, I submit that to recommend their scheme of Dominion Home Rule effectively to the country they would naturally fix up details first. A decision on essentials too soon would be disastrous—at least a decision on essentials would be disastrous if it were known too soon. Then, when all would be ready, a time limit and an immediate war stunt could be requisitioned to carry the remaining members off their feet. Remember, they were carried off their feet by this, coupled with the sight of the signatures of the two formidable men of the delegation. What is good enough for Michael Collins is good enough for me—what is a terror to Michael Collins ought to be a terror enough for me. Finally above all things considered, there is a prima facie case, I think, for the charge of treason against the delegates, Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. No doubt they will give a satisfactory explanation of their efforts; and I would be more than delighted to withdraw any imputation that my words may unjustly convey. I think they should thank me for saying openly what is in the minds of many. They will have a chance to-morrow to answer this.
I rise to support the motion for the ratification of this Treaty, and I, too, will attempt a record in brevity. There are three reasons why I am inclined to support the Treaty. The first is its own intrinsic value. I don't believe that the acceptance of this Treaty by the people of Ireland is dishonourable. I don't believe that when I recommend to the people of Ireland that they should accept it that I am guilty of any act of national apostacy. We have heard a good deal during the past few weeks of seven hundred and fifty years' fight with England. That fight I take to be a fight of the Gaelic State against the foreign sovereignty which was being forced upon it by England. That fight was not always a fight for an isolated Republic or an isolated monarchy. In fact one of the hardest fights in Irish history was made against that great Republican, Oliver Cromwell. It was, as I say, an attempt, an effort of Gaelic Ireland to assert its own right to live in its own way. Now, that sovereignty was not beaten; it was not defeated; the Gaelic sovereignty is not yet defeated and never will be defeated; it will not be defeated by the exponents of this Treaty. I hold that it will be advanced and strengthened, not by the Treaty itself, but by the amount of freedom and liberty which the Irish race has got to work out that civilization in their own way. England did not control this country entirely by her military or police forces or her judiciary. She has fifty odd Boards and Departments which govern this country. These Boards and these Departments are the inlets or outlets through which English civilization has been forced into and forced through this country. The acceptance of this Treaty means the withdrawal of these fifty-seven Departments —the fifty-seven swords which have been eating into our Irish nation will be removed. They can be replaced, and these boards which were working in Ireland for England and by England will be working in Ireland for Ireland and by Ireland. That is why I say the Treaty gives the Irish people a chance of living their own lives in their own way. Our President said a few days ago that he was anxious, not only for the good of Ireland but for the good of humanity that this strife should cease. I am also anxious not only for the good of Ireland, but for the good of the whole human race that this strife should cease; and I would like to draw your attention to the effect of Gaelic culture and Gaelic civilisation on the world. What has it done? The greatest Anglicisers of the world have been the Irish. We, the Irish people, have been Empire builders for England all over the world. We have built her railways and her roads; we have shot down troops who attempted to secure freedom from that Empire; we have taken up the whip and flogged the slaves for England. Our people have done it, and remember, it would not have been so—we would not have been turned in that direction if those many inlets through which English and foreign civilisation was able to get at our people—if these inlets didn't exist. The Irish people collected customs for the British Empire all over the world; the Irish soldiers shot down the Indians in the Punjab; nobody can say that Sir Michael O'Dwyer is not an Irishman; and Sir Michael O'Dwyer making the Indians do the crawl is nothing for us to be proud of.
Referring to an interruption by Deputy Miss MacSwiney, Mr. O'Sullivan said: I would ask that I be not interrupted, especially by the Deputy who is sitting so very near to me.
We can look upon him (Sir Michael O'Dwyer) with no less feeling of bitterness because he is an Irishman any more than any decent Englishman would look upon Maxwell. Another proof that the Gaelic races and people have been stunted and stopped in their development to live their own lives in their own way is this assembly. We have not been able to discuss the question before this assembly in the language of our own country. I challenge the ablest speakers of our language in this assembly, beginning with you, sir, and running down to the last—I challenge them all to debate the vexed and intricate question of constitutional usage and the other points raised in this debate—to debate that in our own language. All our thought has been running in the——
We would do it in three months' time if we started on it.
We will start on it when the Treaty is ratified, a Chinn Chomhairle. All our thoughts have been controlled, have been directed by the English outlook, by the English language, by the English sovereignty. The same can be said, not only for our language, but for our music, and games, and Irish life. That is the first reason I give for supporting the Treaty. The second reason is that those who advocate its rejection have not, in my opinion, given me any reason why I should conscientiously vote for its rejection. The Minister for Labour, I think, objected to our association with England because England oppresses Egypt and India. I have already said that there are many Irishmen at present oppressing India; and if Ireland accepts this Treaty the opinion of the Irish people on British rule in India and in Egypt will be expressed—not as it is expressed at present by Ireland shooting down those people, but by the representatives of the Irish people speaking at the Councils of the League of Nations or at the Imperial Conference of either the British Empire or the Commonwealth of Nations, whichever they have decided to call it; and, furthermore, the world would have the advantage of what, at least, is left of the mellow influence of the Irish outlook, in having a representative of Ireland on the League of Nations. I would ask the assembly to remember that England is not the only Empire that oppresses small nations, though I believe she is the worst. The Minister for Agriculture said that he was anxious that England would allow us to live our own life in our own tin-pot way. Well, we have great ideals about old Ireland and about our fighting race and about our great culture; and our hopes are not for a national life in any tin-pot way. We believe that the Gaelic-Irish outlook of civilisation and culture should permeate and influence the life of every nation in the world. At present we are only the slaves of those nations; we are only the tools of those nations. Though we are told that the Irish is a world-flung race, remember that what really counts in it is being eaten away and sapped away at the core here at home in Ireland by the terrible influence of the presence in our midst of enemy troops, officials, police, judiciary, and everything enemy. Thirdly: the reason I give in support of the ratification of the Treaty is that I believe it is the wish of the people who sent me here that I should support it; and I am sorry Deputy Stockley is not present because I want, as one of the persons responsible for sending him here, to say that in doing so I did not believe that he could flout the opinions of his electors. The constituency which I represent has a population of one hundred and eleven thousand odd. Finally, I would challenge my co-Deputies who do not agree with me—I challenge them to any kind of plebiscite to that hundred and eleven thousand; and I believe and I will lay any odds that I will beat them five hundred to one.
I propose that we adjourn until eight-fifteen p.m. and that we then continue the debate until eleven o'clock to-night—what I would compare this debate to is an old woman's wrangle on the Coal Quay of Cork—and that we take a vote to-morrow at four o'clock. Now, the Irish people are just sick of us talking about this thing and I think and tell you that I know the people of Ireland better than any man or woman in this assembly—you can laugh at me if you like, but I have Irish aspirations and Irish blood in my veins and I know the people of Ireland as well as any man or woman in this country—and I say that we ought to take this vote to-morrow evening at four or five o'clock and get finished with it; and I say that we ought to adjourn now until eight o'clock. I move that.
I second it.
There was a definite arrangement made that the Whip would conduct this business; and the chiefs on both sides don't want to go on until eleven o'clock. We can adjourn at seven and start at eleven o'clock in the morning.
I am only a back-bencher, a plain member, but if I am I am sent here as well as anybody else. (Cries of "Order!")
We can adjourn at seven and go on in the morning.
I tell you that the back-benchers have been too long silent; and if we spoke out in June 1920 we would be better off to-day. I am speaking and the member for St. James has interrupted me and I won't be interrupted and I won't sit down. I am on the rock and I won't get off the rock.
I told the Deputy he is out of order. I call on the next speaker.
I second the motion put forward by Deputy O'Keeffe that we adjourn until eight o'clock and go on then till eleven.
The motion was subsequently rejected.
A Chinn Chomhairle, is mian liom cúpla focal a rá i dtaobh na ceiste seo. I have great respect for the wishes of Deputy O'Keeffe and I don't want to delay the debate in any way. My views on this subject are homely. The situation is so important that I think it is right for every Deputy to give his views. I cannot vote for this Treaty because the unity of Ireland is not secured; and I can't see any prospect in the future that we can get Ulster in. In the second place, I feel, while it is absolutely necessary that we should take a step forward in the direction of securing control of the Government, that we might also take a step backward; and I feel that in accepting this Treaty we are taking a step backward. I feel that we are going over the cliff and giving away the sovereignty of our country. Professor O'Rahilly says that we will regain it by constitutional evolution; the Deputy for Carlow says that the Constitution will develop a Gaelic State; I contend that within the British Empire we cannot have a Gaelic State because the whole tradition of our people will have to be moulded in an Imperial way. The interpretation of this Treaty is also to be interpreted to safeguard the strategic interests of the British Empire. There are a number of articles in the Treaty which are very vague and I think we cannot look upon it as a Treaty. We are told that a Constitution must be drafted; and this Constitution must be legalised by the British Parliament. In my view there can never be an Irish Constitution until Irish unity is first secured. There has been a good deal of talk about the question of military settlement. In 1881 President Kruger had a peace forced upon him and he accepted it with the following reservations: "Eventually he understood the Treaty was accepted with the reservations that we are yielding to force; and that we trusted that, in view of this forced acceptance, the British Government would see their way to alter the Treaty and to remove from it the points which made it unacceptable to the Volkstrad; notably the imposition of the suzerainty and the unjust curtailment of territory." There is no proof that the people of the Republic are taking the Treaty under these terms and the military situation is discussed here in public and provided it does not give you sufficient power to accept it without that reservation. There has been a good deal of talk about the material advantages in this Treaty. Lord Birkenhead has already written in the American Press; and our people are under the impression that the English Government has agreed under the Treaty to pay for the damage done in this country for two years. Lord Birkenhead and Winston Churchill have asserted that under the Treaty England has us economically in the hollow of her hand—a most illuminating statement. A gentleman is able to point out to me what the exact meaning of Clause 10 is. It is—though I don't want to go into figures—that we shall have to pay about two million pounds in order to get rid of the army forces. We have to guarantee to pay off these but there is no guarantee in the world that England will ever entertain our claim for over-taxation. I have an article here by Harold Cox, who represents England in Financial interests. The conclusion of the article is this— it first stated certain facts that, in the opinion of English business men, make out a case that Ireland, instead of being owed money by England, owes her a good deal; for instance, we owe her for the protection she has afforded us for one hundred and twenty years: "When these and other facts are taken into account it will be found that the Irish alleged over-taxation not only does not exist but that a heavy debt is due from Ireland to Great Britain for subsidies paid out of the common Exchequer for purely Irish purposes such as, for example, Land Purchase, Harbour Developments, Light Railways and so on. For several years during the present century Ireland's contribution to Imperial expenditure has been a minus quantity. Ireland has received the full naval, military and economic advantages of her union with Great Britain and has, during these years, received these benefits entirely at the cost of the tax-payers of Great Britain, in addition to a contribution from them to her domestic expenditure. By all means let us strike a fair financial bargain with the Irish Free State; but the first step towards the attainment of equity is to get rid of the baseless legend of Irish over-taxation." We have always told our people that in any settlement we would make a claim for over-taxation. I understand, however, from some Deputies who support the Treaty that we are going to make a claim for two billion pounds. Well, the arbitrator will not consider that claim and there is nothing in the Treaty to show that he will consider any claim at all. The economies effected by the change of Government will completely disappear in paying the interest on the sinking fund created in the country. After all economies have been made the surplus in the Irish Exchequer will be completely absorbed by the payment of the interest on the sinking fund. In other words, anything that is left to us, supposing that we maintain the high rate of taxation, I maintain, after all economies have been made and all Irish services maintained, that the surplus will be absorbed by the interest on our share of the national debt. We have not had, therefore, in this Treaty, anything to show that the Boundary Commission or Financial Commission means anything. Professor O'Rahilly says that some clauses in the Treaty mean nothing and I believe they have left us nothing. There is not sufficient difference between the Treaty as it stands and the proposals which were unanimously rejected by the Dáil; there is not sufficient difference to show that the negotiations have been successful; and there is not sufficient difference for us to go back to the Irish people and tell them that the difference was worth the losses which the Irish people have suffered during the last two years. There has been a good deal of talk about evacuation and it is dealt with in Lloyd George's letter and not in the Treaty. The second portion of Clause 7 of the Treaty completely does away with the evacuation argument. In my opinion it also completely nullifies our sovereignty. While I believe that the Treaty would confer great material advantages on this country and that there might be a serious effort made to develop the Gaelic State I realise that we have completely lost our position before the world. After all, this movement is not the Gaelic State. This movement ought to be based on the traditions of the men of '67 and 1916: and I think these are the ideals we ought to stand for. I came up here with an open mind; the mandate I got from my constituents was to try and do whatever I could to bring about an agreement; I am afraid now that there is no chance of substantial agreement. I know this: if there was an agreement with regard to the immediate future we would ultimately have the Hertzhog period and the Smuts period in this country; and I certainly would not stand for anything which would bring the Republican Government down to that level; we would be simply starting all over again. To my mind the alternative to this agreement can be got; the only alternative that I can see is rejection. I am very greatly concerned with the levity with which some Deputy spoke of sending this question to the country; I have never heard a question like this put to the people; the only issue that can be placed before the people is war on the one hand and on the other hand you can do it by the consent of the Irish people; but you are not giving the people their choice. Finally, I don't believe that we can be in a better position in five years' time than at present; we had attained a magnificent position throughout the world; the position throughout the world does not demand that we should make a peace now that they did not think fit and proper. I have great faith in Ghandhi and his two hundred and fifty million people, and in Egypt; I don't think the Deputy from Cork is right when he says the Free State is responsible for the movement in these countries; I think it is the Irish Republic is responsible for them. If this question is brought before the country it is not alone that it will cause a split in the country but in the ranks of the army; and I earnestly ask every Deputy here to do what he can to preserve the integrity of the Army. Whatever we do with this Treaty let us do the best for the country.
Since the fourteenth December I have listened to lectures, sermons and speeches Well, I won't lecture you, I won't preach; I will just say a few words. I will be brief for two reasons. The first is that I don't want to import any bitter ness into this discussion; I want to have the Dáil and the country united if possible; if they are not united I sincerely hope that no word or action of mine will be responsible for disunion. The second reason is that there are two thousand Irishmen in Irish and English jails; they have got to stop there while we are talking and repeating the same things over and over again; there are forty-one of these men in jails in this Republic of Ireland under sentence of death. I don't want, and I am sure these prisoners don't want me to bring up their case here in order that it would decide the vote one way or another; I am speaking for myself; but anyway for their sakes I think we ought to hurry up and finish this debate. I am declaring for the approval of the Treaty between Ireland and Great Britain; and in doing so I do it in accordance with the dictates of my own conscience; in accordance with the wishes of the majority of my constituents; and in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the people of Ireland. My conscience, my constituency, my country; these are the three rocks— dove-tailed one to the other—these are the three rocks I stand on. There are no slippery slopes and there is no betrayal; I never betrayed my country; I am not doing it now and I never shall betray my country. At the meeting of An Dáil at which the plenipotentiaries were appointed—they were appointed by An Dáil at the suggestion of the President or the Cabinet; they were sanctioned by An Dáil, anyway—at that meeting we gave them full plenary powers; I think practically every member of An Dáil at any rate knew when the plenipotentiaries were going over that they could not bring back a Republic in their pockets. I think it was the President who stated that anyone who expected them to bring back a Republic expected them to do something that a mighty army and a mighty navy could not do (hear, hear). The other side—I don't know what side to call it—according to orders of the day the President is going to move a motion with reference to a document; that document is not a Republic, that document is not signed; the Treaty is signed. To-day the President made a statement in which he said he is going to stand by the Republic; I am glad he is a Republican again, and I am very sorry he ever left the rock of the Republic (Cries of "Shame !").
If that could be proved——
President de Valera will understand me; he will admit that I don't want to say anything to hurt his feelings or the feelings of anyone in this House; we know each other a good many years; we have been always good friends, and I hope we will remain good friends to the end.
Show where the document is inconsistent with the Republic.
First, as to your leaving the British Navy in possession of some ports.
For five years.
In discussing the Treaty can't we keep to it.
At any rate what we have to do now is to decide what is best for the country. This Treaty is before us; certain members want to turn it down; and what is the alternative they offer? According to the President he is going to stand for a Republic; he has admitted that a mighty army and a navy can't get us the Republic. How is it going to be done then? Is it by political action or by negotiations? Well, supposing the President goes to Downing Street and takes four or five plenipotentiaries with him and asks the British Cabinet to give us a Republic, what will happen? The negotiations will go on as they did before; perhaps they may refuse to negotiate, but suppose they do, will the President bring back the Republic? He will not. I say the only chance Ireland has to get her freedom is to take this Treaty. This Treaty gives us a political weapon and, backed by the military and other resources, it is a weapon that in the hands of the Irish people, will get more freedom for them than a mighty army or navy can ever do. One Deputy said that the Canadian form of Government is not liberty; several Deputies said, in effect, that they did not give a fig for self-determination; well, I will have to quote the President again. I am quoting from theIrish Press of Philadelphia of December 3rd. In a message to the Canadian Convention President de Valera sent the following through Mr. Harry Boland: “President de Valera sends greetings to the National Convention. He is certain that the people of Canada, who so much appreciate their own liberty, will support the people of Ireland in their resolve to face exterminaation rather than abandon the right of freely choosing the path they shall take to realise their destiny (prolonged applause). Ireland's freedom cannot menace the freedom of any nation, but as the principle of national self-determination is admittedly just, its denial will never be acquiesced in (applause). And in the case of Ireland the denial is a menace to the peace of the world.” Still Deputies here don't give three straws about self-determination. We heard from the last Deputy a good deal about the financial clauses of the Treaty; well, I would remind this House that the same financial clauses are in the President's document. Consequently whatever number of millions the Treaty is going to cost Ireland the alternative is going to cost the same number of millions.
Hear, hear. That is right.
We have heard from the legal gentlemen of the assembly.
And illegal (laughter).
Well, we heard from them several speeches on law and on international law, constitutional law and common law. Well, as an ordinary common man, the only law I was ever up against and made feel in this country— the law that every Irishman has been made feel—was the law of force and the law of might; constitutional law did not matter; international law did not matter; the thing that is going to matter is that the country is going to get the evacuation by the British Army and your own army is to be put in its stead. It depends on the Irish people then what class of freedom they will have; they can have whatever class of freedom they can make for themselves. I will vote for this Treaty because it stands for Irish freedom against English oppression and Irish sovereignty against English slavery.
I was elected by the people of South Kilkenny; and the people who elected me know what views I had because at that time I was fighting for the realisation of those views. I was elected a Republican to uphold the Republic of Ireland, and I shall do that to the best of my ability. Should my constituents change their mind then they can remove me at the next election and put in a politician; but they cannot change my personal opinion or my principles. Those Deputies who are supporting the Treaty, and some of the plenipotentiaries even, say they have not compromised any principles; if they had not compromised their principles it must be because they had no Republican principles to compromise; if their willingness to become British subjects with a British Governor-General to look after them, and to take their allegiance to the British Government and all that—if that is not compromise I don't know what compromise is. Not only do they become British subjects but they take an oath to a British King. I shall read an extract from a leading article written by the Chairman of the Delegation in June, 1917; it may throw some light upon the present case: "‘The Home Rule Act 1914,' exposed by Mr. William Martin Murphy is a clear and trenchant exposure of that fraud upon people. Mr. Murphy would settle the Irish question in the same way as the Canadian, South African and Australian questions were settled. This assumes that the element of nationality and the status of nationhood do not enter into the Irish question. Australia, for instance, possessed no rights except those it derived from England. England founded it, England fostered it, and England possessed the undoubted right to rule it. Ireland does not derive from England. She is not a colony. She has never been a colony. She can claim no colonial rights such as Australia, Canada and South Africa assert. If she be not a nation then she has no more title to independence of English Government than Kent or Middlesex or Lancashire or Yorkshire. If there be English politicians who really believe that they can settle the Irish question on colonial or semi-colonial lines they live in a fool's paradise. The first step to a permanent Irish settlement is the recognition of the Irish nation" (applause). Well, the Chairman of the Delegation is trying to put the whole lot of us into a fool's paradise now. If I had come up here to this assembly undecided as to what course I should take, the very tactics adhered to by the other side would make me vote against the Treaty. Deputies have tried to misinterpret in every possible way the issue before us; they say the result of the non-ratification of this instrument is war—terrible and immediate war. I would like to know who endowed these men with the gift of prophecy? They say that the difference between this Treaty and the President's proposals is only a shadow. They can't have it both ways. Will Lloyd George go to war for a shadow? The Deputy who first introduced this so-called alternative oath in Public Session gave the impression to the public that this oath was contained in the President's alternative proposals; and that Deputy knew absolutely and perfectly well that there was no oath contained in the alternative proposals.
It is implied in paragraph six.
Again it has been put forward that we all let down the Republic. I absolutely deny that. I did not take it that the Republic had been let down at any time until I saw the terms of the Treaty in the public Press, and then I knew it had been let down by the delegates at least. These men who say that the Republic was let down as soon as the Truce was proclaimed, and who seem so bitter about it now, had a right to protest against it then. If they thought it was being let down they were more to blame than anybody else. But the Republican ideal has not died, nor will it die, even though there be but fifty men left in Ireland to carry it on. Such misrepresentations as these would, I say, be almost sufficient of themselves to make me vote against the Treaty, because it is a weak thing which requires misrepresentations to keep it on its legs. Again I say I was elected because I was a Republican soldier and I will remain a Republican and I will vote against that Treaty.
A Chinn Chomhairle, agus a mhuintir na Dála, I rise to speak in support of this Treaty, not because it is entirely in accordance with the views I held and expressed up to this, but because I think it is the best thing for my country at the moment; and because the people of my constituency want me to vote for it; and I think it would be a bad state of affairs in this country if the representatives of the people were deliberately to flout the people's wishes (hear, hear). It would be an end, once and for all, to representative government. Now, there has been much said about the plenipotentiaries sent to London; they have been placed in the dock in this assembly from the beginning of the Session. Now, they were in close touch with the Cabinet from the moment they went to London until they brought back this Treaty, and if they were going wrong they surely went wrong before the fifth or sixth of December; and it must have been patent to everybody that they were going wrong—if they were going wrong; and I hold that if things were not going better, or as they should go according to the views of the people on the Cabinet, that Dáil Eireann is entitled to regard all the views of the Cabinet—that Dáil Eireann is entitled to regard what they did as the views of the people of the Cabinet. I hold that it is the Cabinet that is to blame—the Cabinet that was left behind in Dublin that is to blame for the state of affairs that exists to-day (hear, hear). Now, a lot has been said about the mandate given by the people for the Republic. To my mind the part the Republic played in the December elections of 1918 was small. I took a man's part on behalf of Doctor Ryan here, in the South Wexford Election in 1918, and, so far as I could see, that time the principal plank in the platform of Sinn Féin was to get shut of the Irish Party—nothing more or less. In May of last year Dáil Eireann declared its independence—it was declared already in January, 1919—but in May of last year our President issued a manifesto asking the people to take part in the elections on behalf of the Republic. Now, everybody might not have seen eye to eye with that document at that moment; but it would have been an injudicious thing to question the President's action because of the presence in our midst of our enemies, the Black-and-Tans. So I think it should not be rigidly adhered to that the people of Ireland have given a straight mandate for the Republic (hear, hear). Now, I think it was the second last speaker on the other side who talked of Egypt and India: and he said if we were to associate with the British Empire that we would be responsible for the crushing of the Indians and Egyptians. Now I hold that under the present state of affairs we are far more responsible; because we are sending the Connaught Rangers, the Munster Fusiliers, the Dublin Fusiliers, the Leinsters and other Irish regiments into India and Egypt year after year to crush these peoples; and we are doing this under the Republican Government. Now, if we are not able to stop that are we functioning as a Government? I hold that we are not; and I believe, as I said before, that the proper thing, at the moment, for this Dáil to do is to accept the Treaty. (Cheers). Now the last speaker has spoken of the oath; he said it was not in Document No. 2. I know that the oath was not in Document No. 2, but we have it in another record. The oath was mentioned at a Cabinet meeting and President de Valera recited the oath to which he would agree; and one of the plenipotentiaries took it down across the table; owing to President de Valera's position as head of the nation I hold that the delegate had a right to interpret his views as to what the oath should be; and he took down the exact oath and in the exact words that the President used. Now I think that everybody will agree with that (hear, hear). Now, I have said practically everything I wanted to say. I only wish to add that I hold that under this Treaty Ireland's national status has been raised (hear, hear). Ireland is entitled to representation at the League of Nations and she will be there, of course, taking her place with the other nations of the world. The fact is that she will be represented there. These views are not in accordance with those which I held or expressed up to this; but I believe the Treaty is the best thing for my country and I will vote for it (cheers).
The House adjourned at 7 p.m. until Saturday morning.