In the personal explanation which I made last night I believe I left the Dáil in doubt as to my intention. I will now clear it up by saying that at the time to which reference was made I was engaged in recruiting but it was not for the British Army.
DEBATE ON TREATY
The following Notice of motion has been received:—Notice of Motion by Eoin Mac Neill, Deputy for the National University of Ireland and for Derry City and County: To move that "Dáil Eireann affirms that Ireland is a sovereign nation deriving its sovereignty in all respects from the will of the people of Ireland; that all the international relations of Ireland are governed on the part of Ireland by this sovereign status; and that all facilities and accommodations accorded by Ireland to another state or country are subject to the right of the Irish Government to take care that the liberty and well-being of the people of Ireland are not endangered."
Is that an amendment?
Might I suggest that that be handed to the Deputies?
I rise to speak against this Treaty because, in my opinion, it denies a recognition of the Irish nation. I said yesterday, and I repeat here, that this Treaty is not one for the consideration of Dáil Eireann, and not one for approval by Dáil Eireann, but by the Southern Parliament according to Article 18. I object to it on the ground of principle, and my chief objection is because I am asked to surrender the title of Irishman and accept the title of West Briton. I object because this Treaty denies the sovereignty of the Irish nation, and I stand by the principles I have always held— that the Irish people are by right a free people. I object to this Treaty because it is the very negation of all that for which we have fought. It is the first time in the history of our country that a body of representative Irishmen has ever suggested that the sovereignty of this nation should be signed away. We went before the people of Ireland on a clear-cut, definite issue. We protested against the men who spoke for the Irish people, and we said that if elected— in 1918—we would set up in Dublin, the capital of the Irish nation, a Parliament that we selected for our political ideal, and a Republic; and we said that if elected we would re-affirm the independence of Ireland and seek international recognition for that. When I went before the people of Roscommon I was in earnest when I said that I stood for an Irish Republic. Since I have returned I have received scores of letters from friends and constituents—men urging me in the interests of Ireland and of the people of Roscommon to vote for this Treaty. I had a letter yesterday from a reverend clergyman asking me to cast my vote for this Treaty, and this man gave me great support when I was going through Roscommon seeking the suffrages of the people. On one occasion, at a public meeting, this clergyman said: "Vote for Harry Boland and the Irish Republic and you will get a good Home Rule Bill." And I got up immediately after he had finished and had to undo the work of my clerical supporter. He is consistent to-day when he asks me to vote for the Treaty; and I am consistent to-day as I was in Roscommon. We secured a mandate from the Irish people because we put for the first time before the people of Ireland a definite issue; we promised that if elected we would combat the will, and deny the right of England in this country, and after four years of hard work we have succeeded in bringing Ireland to the proud position she occupied on the fifth December last. The fight was made primarily here in Ireland; but I want to say that the fight that was made in Ireland was also reflected throughout the world; and we —because we had a definite object—had the sympathy of liberty-loving people everywhere, if we were denied the support of the Governments. Most of my time since I became a member of Dáil Eireann has been spent in another country. We were sent out to secure international recognition from the Government of the United States, and to seek the support of the liberty-loving American people on behalf of a nation struggling to be free—and when we left this country Ireland was unknown—and people, liberty-loving peoples, and peoples who are free, had no concern with a domestic question between Great Britain and Ireland. They in America had been under the impression for forty years that Ireland and England were one and that there was a domestic squabble; and we found that the greatest barrier that we had to break down was that Ireland had acquiesced in British law, and all the American people knew was that we were fighting for something called Home Rule. As a result of the magnificent fight put up at home by the men of the army and supported by the people of Ireland, the American people soon realised that we were fighting for our own God-given right to freedom; and if we were not recognised by the Governments of the world we were recognised by the peoples of the world; and as for the Treaty, I can say this: that the power of public opinion—outraged public opinion—throughout the world, backed by the magnificent fight the men and women of this country put up, had brought Ireland to the position that she rightly occupied. We found Ireland in 1918 a domestic question of Great Britain; by the work that has been accomplished since, she is now a burning international question; and no one believes in this House that it is for any altruistic purpose that Great Britan has changed her hand and called the Irish people into conference. And I say that the tragedy of all this is that, while the men who favour this Treaty have adopted a defeatist attitude and pointed out the weakness of Ireland and asked how could it stand against the mighty British Empire, I am afraid that they have not considered the weakness of that Empire. I respectfully suggest that this conference was called because England found it impossible to carry on her work in Ireland and to preserve and carry on her Empire; and having failed to force British sovereignty on the Irish nation for seven hundred and fifty years, she has done it now by diplomacy. If any member of the opposite side can convince me that that is not an oath of allegiance— to swear that oath and "that I will be faithful to His Majesty King George V., his heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common citizenship——"
Which oath are you talking of?
The oath that you are asked to sign in the Treaty. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the American people for the magnificent support they have given us in the struggle; and I am doing this because in this House a few weeks ago a statement was made by my friend the Minister of Finance which places us in a very embarrassing position in America——
And which every true American appreciates.
We were sent back to America to strengthen the hands of the Irish plenipotentiaries in London; we were sent back to carry on a propaganda to demonstrate to Great Britain that should this fight be renewed we were prepared to carry on; we were sent back to float a Bond Loan of the Irish Republic; and we, knowing that negotiations were going on, decided that this Bond Loan should not be floated in a national campaign, but should be confined to two states. We selected the District of Colombo and Illinois because in Washington, D.C. were meeting the Great Nations of the World; and we thought that the best propaganda that could be carried on on behalf of the Irish nation, and a thing that would give strength and support to our men in London, was to demonstrate to England that if they wished to win the good-will of the American nation they must make a just and honourable peace with Ireland. Very well. I must say now that whereas in 1919, when we floated the First Bond Drive of the Republic in the State of Illinois we collected three hundred and ninety-seven thousand dollars in twelve months at a cost of eighteen thousand dollars—to demonstrate the feeling in America this year—in three weeks in the State of Illinois they subscribed five hundred and fifty-two thousand dollars at a cost of eighteen thousand dollars (hear, hear). No one knows better than my friend, Michael, that there were five thousand men in America ready to come to fight in Ireland, and they couldn't come as a foreign legion because it was against American laws (laughter).
Now you're talking.
But they were offered, and they came, and they fought. Just as President de Valera got back to Ireland, these men got back, and many of them did get back and they fought. I am only saying this, not in any way of finding fault with my comrades on the other side, but simply to thank the American people for the support they gave to us in the struggle. The cablegram that my friend Michael Collins took such exception to was suggested by me to strengthen his hands, four days before the Treaty was signed. I would be false to the position I hold from Dáil Eireann if I did not say that the great public opinion of America is on the side of this Treaty. I would be false to my position as a representative of the Government if I didn't fearlessly state that here—that, just as it seems the Press of Ireland has adopted a unanimous attitude in favour of this Treaty, so too did the American Press adopt that attitude. The people who subscribed the money to enable us to carry on look upon this as a betrayal; and it was only out of love for Ireland that an order of restraint was not taken out against us— an injunction against our raising money in the name of the Irish Republic. I know something of the situation in India and Egypt from the men who hold the same position in America for India and Egypt that I hold for Ireland; and while I am casting my vote prepared for war, so far as I am concerned I am convinced that there can be no war in Ireland. Allenby requires ninety thousand men in Egypt; India is in flames; and we are called in to buttress up the British Empire, not with the Connaught Rangers this time, forced by hard economic circumstances to join up to earn a living, but by virtue of our common citizenship (hear, hear). I don't want to detain this House. I stand to-day exactly where I have always stood. I want to ask a question of my friend opposite. Is this, in your opinion, a final settlement of the question between England and Ireland?
It is not.
It is not. Well then we are asked to sign a Treaty. What was it that made the fight in Ireland possible? The sanctity of Treaties— the invasion of Belgium that gave a great moral cry to the world that freedom was being outraged, and the whole world flew to the side of the Allies. Some of the best blood in Ireland fought with Great Britain in that war because Belgium had been outraged and her Treaty violated. You have the statement that the allied powers gave to the world—the moral cry which rallied all right-thinking people everywhere on the side of Belgium. If this is not a final settlement we have lost the good opinion of the world on the day we sign the Treaty with a mental reservation that it is not a final settlement. I have taken one oath to the Republic and I will keep it. If I voted for that document I would work the Treaty, and I would keep my solemn word and treat as a rebel any man who would rise out against it. If I could in conscience vote for that Treaty I would do so, and if I did I would do all in my power to enforce that Treaty; because, so sure as the honour of this nation is committed by its signature to this Treaty, so surely is Ireland dead. We are asked to commit suicide and I cannot do it. We are asked to annihilate the Irish nation. This nation has been preserved for seven hundred and fifty years, coming down in unbroken succession of great men who have inspired us to carry on. We were the heirs of a great tradition, and the tradition was that Ireland had never surrendered, that Ireland had never been beaten, and that Ireland can never be beaten (cheers). And because of that great spiritual thing we young men went out to follow our fathers, and we have fought a good fight together; and I am sorry that we are now divided, and I entertain personally nothing but the fondest memories of my old comrades; and I am sorry that we are divided but I am glad that we are divided on fundamentals. And so sure as we accept this Treaty and rise against it in another generation, the whole nations of the world will be against us and as they rallied to the support of Belgium so will they rally to the support of England. You cannot compromise the nation's honour unless you definitely agree in conscience that this is a final settlement. No man can speak for the dead. Our concern is with the living and with those who may come after us, and I for one am quite easy in my mind that those who will come after us will deal kindly with the men who vote against this Treaty. Our leader, Pádraic Pearse, said that liberty is eternal. It belongs to all. Liberty can't be bartered for trade. Either we are entitled as a nation to the full unlimited control of our own destiny or we are not. If we have common citizenship with Great Britain, then the Union is good enough for me. If we are a nation this Treaty is the very negation of nationhood and I vote against it. Our late leader, Pádraic Pearse, said that this fight for Ireland was like a divine religion. It has come down to us in apostolic succession. In his language, in his summing up he told us that the veterans of Kinsale fought at Benburb, the veterans of Benburb fought with Sarsfield in Limerick and the veterans of Limerick kept the fires of the nation burning from Limerick to Dungannon; the veterans of Dungannon of '82 fought in 1798; Robert Holmes, the friend of Tone, was also the friend of Emmet; the man who defended Emmet lived to be a Young Irelander; three veterans of the Young Ireland movement founded Fenianism, and the veterans of the Fenian movement stood with the Volunteers of 1916. We picked it up in 1916 and we brought the Irish Republic out of the backwoods, away from the dark rooms of secret societies, and preached the gospel before the Irish people; and we asked them to stand for an independent Republic. Many Deputies in this House know that my father himself had to fly from this country and suffer—as men in this House who know him—he had to fly away because he believed in a Republic. His son was privileged to stand on public platforms and to ask the Irish people to subscribe to the Republic —and they did. Whatever else we do let us not blame it on the people. The people have proved in this fight as strong as their leaders; and so long as the leaders remain strong no demand that you make on the people would be denied. Don't blame it on the wife. If we are prepared to carry on this fight the people of Ireland will support us. As we are divided so are the people of Ireland divided; but as a Parliament, as we represent the real opinion of Ireland and Ireland rallied to us, so surely will it come that the men who sign this Treaty will regret it. Now, in closing I say that this tradition has been handed down stainless; the national honour of Ireland has never yet been compromised; and if that document is rejected—come weal, come woe—this nation must survive; it can only be killed by the vote of its own representatives. We stand, therefore, where our fathers stood before us. If that Treaty is adopted we can never again ask the support of the world for our struggles, because the sanctity of Treaties will be invoked against us; and all honourable men everywhere will deny Ireland assistance. If I could accept that Treaty as a stepping-stone to Irish freedom I would do it; but I know that I would not be doing an expedient thing for Ireland, but doing what, in my opinion, would forever debar Ireland from winning her ultimate freedom. If we reject that Treaty England will not make war on us; if she does we will be able to defend ourselves as we have always done.
I am going to give a lead for the remainder of the day, if I can, with regard to making a short statement. I want to state at the outset that I am now as I always have been, an out and outer.
You mean a down and outer.
I am not a Republican of a latter day, neither am I a Republican since I was four years old; but I am one for the past fifteen years, when Republicanism was very low in Ireland; when some others on the other side along with me in the Dublin streets had to run from the population for attempting to do what we thought fit, in our own way, to try and bring about the Republican movement. I have been consistent all along, and I hope to prove by the few words I have to say that in taking the action I am taking to-day in supporting this Treaty I am still consistent. I was consistent when, as I said before, in the very early days I went into the homes of all classes and asked them to support the candidates that we put forward that time as Sinn Féiners, candidates who were known to be the "Kings, Lords and Commons," men; and I remember well in the slum areas meeting some of the poorer classes —the constituency which I represent is full of them—I remember meeting people of the working class type and after trying to convince those people that we were on the right track I had a man—I should say a hungry man—saying to me: "Oh, you are the same as the others. If you people get into power the workers will be just the same." I thought then—and I told them so—that, as far as I and those with me could do it, the worker would be put on the level that I think he should be put on. Now one thing that struck me when I came out of prison—and I suppose only because I was in at the time I would not be elected a member of the Dáil—was the democratic programme of An Dáil. It is stuck there all the time. I won't read it for you—it is too long, and I want to keep to my word of making a brief statement—but there is one passage I will read for you, just this one item in the programme: "It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children; to secure that no child shall suffer from hunger, cold, lack of clothing or shelter, but that they shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as citizens of a free and Gaelic Ireland." There you have it—our first duty. Now we come to the Republic that has been established; and I worked for and fought for that Republic. It is held here that a Republic was established in 1916; now, I did my best that week too, though I knew well when going out that we were not going to get a Republic as the result. I knew that thoroughly well. I am five years older to-day than I ever expected to be; I thought I was going out to go down, but if I did, I knew what I was doing; I went out to wake up the Irish people—as the men who died that week did. The Republic is established! Now the Republic that I visualised has not yet been established. I will tell you why. It takes a little more than a number of meetings of men and women—having been put there, not as Republicans, mind you—it takes a little more than their meeting and passing resolutions and stating the Republic is established. It is held by the people on the other side that the Republic was established in 1919, and we will take that year, when we were being left alone and allowed to meet in public. If that is the Republic they have worked and fought for it certainly is not the Republic I have worked and fought for. What powers has that Republic? Could they or have they yet carried out their first duty. Have they done so? Are they able to? I will tell you in the very plain words of the President's own statement—I am going to quote from the Dáil Eireann Parliament meeting in 1919. A question was asked by one of the first citizens of Dublin, Alderman Tom Kelly, who, I am very sorry to say, is not in a fit state of health as the result of the treatment he received, and is not able to attend— Alderman Tom Kelly, by the way, wants to vote for this Treaty; I have a letter from him in my pocket—well, at this Dáil meeting in 1919 we find Alderman Kelly, who always looked after the workers, particularly after the poor classes in Dublin, asking for "A statement from President de Valera regarding the social policy of the Ministry. In the Democratic Programme outlined at the first meeting of the Dáil it was stated that it would be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children; to abolish the present Poor Law System; and to take such measures as would safeguard the health of the people. He felt that if they separated after that Public Session without making some reference to what their Ministry deemed to be the right duty in connection with the social life of the people, that they would have done a wrong. Let them take the city of Dublin and see how its condition had been impoverished and demoralised from the time that the rapacity of British Imperialism became the creed immediately after what was known in history as Nelson's victories." He goes on to talk about Ireland's prosperity years ago. President de Valera's reply was "that it was quite clear that the Demoeratic Programme, as adopted by the Dáil, contemplated a situation somewhat different from that in which they actually found themselves. They had the occupation of the foreigner in their country and while that state of affairs existed, they could not put fully into force their desires and their wishes as far as their social programme was concerned." That is quite correct. Under this Treaty, which I don't hold is all we fought and worked for—I am using "fought" too often, but I didn't mean to use it—under this Treaty every single thing in this Democratic Programme can be put into force, and the democrats in this assembly know that well. Not one of those on the other side have referred to this matter. They have taken up their arguments against the Treaty, and not a single one of them has said that there is any one clause in the Treaty that is good for Ireland. Not a head of a department that has spoken has pointed out what could be done through their department under this Treaty. It strikes me that they are all very well disciplined; not a single one of them would say it. If they are against the Treaty they might point out some thing that they object to; but they could, at least, say it is good in some points—they could say to the plenipotentiaries: "At least you have done well in some way or another." As I said before, and as Deputy Mrs. O'Callaghan said on the other side, it is perfectly clear that they are well disciplined. With regard to the alternative proposals—if that document were not one that had already been turned down by the people on the English side, or if it did not contain clauses that had already been turned down; or if it were here before us now signed by the plenipotentiaries on both sides and we were taking a vote on it—my position would be this as one who took an oath fifteen years ago to establish an Irish Republic, I would have to get up and say exactly what I am saying about the Treaty. My friends on the other side know that very well, and that document that was put before us the other day does not bring us any of the things mentioned. It does not help to release them from the oath that they took along with me; let them be straight on it; let them get up and say so; but no, anything at all to beat the Treaty. Now, this is what I see wrong with that document: "That when acting as an associate the rights, status and privileges of Ireland shall be in no respect less than those enjoyed by any of the component States of the British Commonwealth," and "that for the purpose of the association Ireland shall recognise His Brittanic Majesty as Head of the association."
Again I ask you is it fair to have that document discussed in detail when I have been prevented from bringing forward that document and explaining it as an alternative?
I am not discussing it. I am only giving my reason why I would have as much objection to that document as to the Treaty.
The oath is not in the document.
It is there in the document. Now, I am swallowing a bitter pill in having to vote for this Treaty; as I said before it is not what I want. I have had to swallow bitter pills before; I will tell you things I had to do in my life; perhaps some of you had to do similar things. This matter I speak of now happened when the President was in jail. I was asked one night at twelve o'clock by two men who came to my house—this is not a personal matter— the two men asked me would I go and help in an election that was taking place at the time. I asked them what was the intention of the man who was going up. They said they could not tell me and I said: "I am not going to work for a man who is going to Parliament after what has happened, for I have been fighting these people for ten years, and have been in the scrap, and have seen the punishment that was meted out to my comrades." They said they could not promise whether he would go to Parliament or not; they had been sent to me to know whether I could lend a hand. At the time I was something of an election expert. I said I wouldn't go, and they said they were going up to Dan MacCarthy. I went up with them. He put the same question. They appealed to us to go and we went. I worked for four days there, and it was the hardest election ever I was in. I worked then for a man whose record at the time was one that I was not satisfied with. That was a risk for us to take, and not till after the election, when a small committee met with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Foreign Affairs present, did we find out whether the man elected intended going to Parliament; we found out he was not going to Parliament; that was a big risk we had taken, and I am going to take this in the same way. I believe in this Treaty; there is in it sufficient power, there is in it sufficient freedom to work out the ultimate freedom we all hope for. Well now, I am glad to see Deputy Harry Boland here; I am glad he came back. I was not here to-day when he asked about the "final settlement." It was well known that Deputy Boland and myself went to Gairloch on the famous last trip. I want Deputy Harry Boland to tell me now what Deputy Boland meant when he told me he was going back to America on the President's instructions to do an lawful thing—to prepare the American people for something short of a Republic.
Short of the isolated Republic.
Something short of a Republic: that was what he was going back for, and now he comes home to talk of sovereign status and giving away. When I saw the President's first statement regarding the Treaty—I was in London at the time—the very first thing I said was: "My God, what a position Harry Boland must find himself in presently in America." He told me, before we handed the document to Lloyd George, that he was going to America to prepare the people for something less than a Republic—I am deliberately not using the word "compromise." Well, consequently it surprised me to see Harry Boland's telegram stating that he was against the Treaty. I won't say what happened in the meantime.
He had another statement in America.
Will I be allowed to explain about it?
I am not charging you with the first one at all; what I know about the first one is that the dope had not reached there at the time. There has been of late a cry here regarding the people: "If the people have changed I have not!" Now that reminds me of a very similar cry a few years ago; that was exactly the swan song of the Irish Parliamentary Party when we had not an opportunity of turning them out; at meetings of their constituents they used to say: "If the people have changed, we have not," when they knew that the people had changed from their old ideas. The swan song of the Parliamentary Party of those days that "If the people have changed we have not," is now the swan song of the people on the other side to-day. One of the Deputies said here a few days ago that we were helping the British Government to send troops to India and Egypt; and that has been referred to in another way to-day. Such a statement, as I understand it, implies that we should sacrifice Ireland to save India and Egypt (hear, hear). Now, in conclusion, I would like to ask does that mean that, should a Republic be offered to you—an isolated Republic— does it mean that you would stop the British troops from leaving this country lest they should be sent to India and Egypt? (Applause).
There is something I cannot let pass because it is against the interests of the nation, apart from anything else; that is the suggestion that has been made with reference to Mr. Boland's instructions from me. Everyone knows that at the first meeting of the Cabinet and Ministry that I proposed a plan as the only chance I saw of getting, except by force of arms, an isolated Republic; and that chance was the plan of external association. I pointed out definitely that that was not an isolated Republic. I have not a face of brass as other people have, and when I had to go for the absolute isolated Republic I said so. It was because I was honest and wanted to be honest with the American people that I said that an isolated Republic would have to be changed into some sort of association, something that would be consistent with the position I was aiming at. I know no sort of association is agreeable to the Irish people, and I know a large percentage of the Irish people in America would not like to see Ireland associated in any way with the English.
I should not have wearied the Dáil by taking part in this debate, but the matters at issue are so vital that I do feel in duty bound to state exactly my reasons why I cannot accept the Treaty. I will do so in as few words as possible and I hope for the indulgence of this Dáil if I should merely strike a personal note in stating these reasons. I have not the temerity to say that anything I should say would influence in the slightest way any Deputy here; nor do I intend to criticise the actions of those who support the Treaty honestly, on the grounds that it is a stepping stone to freedom. That may be so; time will tell. For my part I feel some day they will have a very rude awakening; to my mind, when you get on that stepping stone you must drop fundamental principles; I cannot follow them, never more so than when that involves the sovereign independence of my country. The last speaker complimented those who were against the Treaty on the ground of their discipline, for he said that apparently none of them would admit there was anything good in this Treaty. Well, I for my part, follow no Party and no man; I follow my own conscience, and in this case, even if it be a breach of discipline, I will admit there are good things in this Treaty and plenty of good things; but are we to accept these good things at the risk of our own principles? I say we are not. Now, the point I go on is this: that by the first clause of the Treaty we give away the right of sovereign independence; and we accept dominion status I, for my part, always hated politics; in fact I shunned public life. It was a maxim of mine that if you once entered politics that, sooner or later, you would have to swallow your own principles. In 1920 I was drawn into it because I was for a mandate to secure a free and independent Ireland; I gladly accepted it. Had I been told that it implied compromise I would have positively declined to go forward, and I would have left the task to others. Subsequently in the Dáil, I took a solemn Oath of Allegiance in accordance with this mandate, and without any mental reservations. Am I now to be asked to break what I hold to be the most sacred oath, and that on the ground of expediency? I could never do so; with me it's a matter of conscience. Were I to vote for this Treaty it would be a cowardly act, done merely through fear of incurring public disfavour, while all the time in my heart I would feel I would have been wrong, and would have a sense of shame. I may be an idealist; perhaps I am super-sensitive; but I claim now—well, I claim to be honourable. Were I to act in that way I feel that I would be false to my conscience; that I would be false to the dead. I would be false to my country as I would be giving away the birth-right of the whole Irish nation. Under these circumstances I feel that I cannot possibly vote for the Treaty.
I shall not say much because everything I wanted to say has been said by either one side or the other. I might have said it better, but that does not matter (laughter). I support the Treaty for what it is; not for more than it is, and certainly not for less. This Treaty gives us freedom to achieve the ultimate liberty for which we all aim. That is enough for me. There are a few other things I want to speak about. Doctor English of Galway made certain insinuations against the Volunteers; she asked whether the Irish Volunteers would hold Ireland for the British Empire. Now, that is an insult to the Volunteers, who brought Ireland to its present position. The Volunteers will hold Ireland for the Irish people. Deputy Brian O'Higgins stated that he went down to Clare on Christmas Eve and came back with his mind unchanged; that the views and impressions of the people who command the best influence in Clare, as he stated, are against the Treaty.
Yes, right-o. I know all Clare, every bog and mountain; I don't know those wonderful heroes whom Deputy Brian O'Higgins met. I would like to know who they are? Is the Most Reverend Doctor Fogarty a representative of the worst influence in Clare? Is the Chairman of the Clare County Council a representative of the worst influence in Clare? Well, if they are they are the devil's children, for they have the devil's luck to be alive to-day—both the Most Reverend Doctor Fogarty and the Chairman of the County Council. It has been stated that the farmers have no right to express their opinion on the matters before the House. I am myself a member of the Irish Clerical Workers' Union; therefore I am a Trades Unionist. I don't speak here for any particular class; but the farmers of Ireland, of Clare, anyway, were never asked in vain by the army or the civil organisation of Sinn Féin for any assistance, which they did not give, in money and in men to the fight—they were never backward; these people have every right to express their opinions. I, too, have old memories of the Minister of Finance; I knew him twelve years ago in London, when he was an unknown, a silent worker; I knew him up to the day when he came back to Dublin, and he did not come back to avoid conscription; but he came back to take a man's part in the Rising—and he did take a man's part—and if Seán MacDiarmuda was alive to-day he would tell you why Michael Collins and the rest of us came from London to Ireland. I don't suppose the old Michael Collins has changed; I think he is the same Michael Collins, and I think he has only one aim and that is to achieve Ireland's independence (applause).
I beg to agree with the speaker on the other side, Deputy O'Duffy; I don't believe that our side has a monopoly of patriotism; I believe there is patriotism on the other side also. It is, as the President has said, a difference in fundamentals, a difference in what both parties believe to be right. The reason why I want to vote against the Treaty—the big reason —is because in voting against the Treaty I am carrying out the principle of government by consent of the governed. Now, I don't believe that the public bodies in my constituency, who were elected on the same ticket as I was, have any more right to speak for the people than I have. I can say a thing about my constituency that very few would believe—it might not fully or fairly represent the feelings of the people—I was five days in County Wexford and I never met a person who was in favour of the Treaty; I don't think that it is fair to the people of Wexford, for if I went to the trouble I could have met many; I was five days there and I never met a person who was in favour of it. I did meet one—a certain person; he was a man who worked hard for me during the election, and he came to me to ask was I going to vote for the Treaty and I answered "No." Then he said: "If I thought you were going to vote for that Treaty I would never have worked for you, and I would be a very disappointed man." Now, a man like him, believing in my oath, would have a more genuine grievance against me if I voted for the Treaty than the people who want the Treaty; because the people who want this Treaty have absolutely no grievance for they never had any reason to believe that our party were going to compromise in any way. I don't want to find fault with the Treaty at all; I think that Deputy MacGrath was wrong in saying we gave no credit to the Treaty; I believe our side has given as much credit as possible, and I think we have admitted the good points in the Treaty as far as finance and our own army and education and those things are concerned. They are all very good; but there is one big point that we cannot get over and that is the point of common citizenship. I don't think I have anything further to say. I think the most important thing of all at the present time is the decision.
May I make a personal explanation? I never said what Deputy Brennan accused me of: that the Irish Volunteers would hold Ireland for the English. What I said was: If this Treaty be accepted, and a Government put in power—if a Free State Government be in power—that they would have to use the army if they wanted to keep the Treaty, and keep true to it; that they would have to use the army to support the Treaty and to keep the Free State in power, which I consider is holding Ireland for England.
The same thing. Did I not also say to you "would go out and fight for the Republic?"
As a plain man, a soldier who has no claim to be a politician, but as one who in the Irish Republican Army did his best, I have a mandate from the Irish people to defend their rights and liberties. Which of our officers when making a fight against desperate odds did not ask himself: "Am I justified in sacrificing the lives of my men?" Well, he was justified, because he had authority then to fight for the rights of his country. We fought for Ireland's freedom; we fought to rid Ireland of the English Army of occupation; and we fought to secure for the Irish people control of Ireland's destinies. I hold we have won; if we accept the Treaty we have won these things. Now, we are asked to resume the war by some who have never heard the bark of an angry rifle—to bring further sufferings on the Irish race —and for what? Merely to alter a few words in the Treaty, words which do not vitally affect the national position of our country. This is rainbow chasing. I, for one, will not vote to sacrifice the lives of my comrades; I am voting for the Treaty.
I have no desire to speak; I, feeling as one who always fought straight from the shoulder, was anxious this House would come to an early decision; but I feel that if I were to take the line that I would have otherwise taken here that I would only add further to the difficulties there are, and the disunion that exists. For that reason I mean to confine myself and be as cautious and careful as possible. I was disappointed at, and I must say I resent the charge made by the Deputy from St. James', Deputy MacGrath, when he insinuated that we have been disciplined in our speeches. Nobody has spoken to me as to what I have to say or will say, and I resent any insinuation of that description. He has spoken of dope; nobody has doped me, and I refuse to believe that our President has any intention of doping anybody whatsoever. We have tried to be straight on this question and why not be straight on all sides? We who are against the Treaty are against it because we feel and believe, and conscientiously believe, that we are doing the best thing for Ireland in rejecting this Treaty, and when we believe that why should Deputies stand up here and charge the leaders of our side with doping us or doping anybody else? A lot has been heard about the will of the people. I will take the memories of those who are for years working in the movement—I will take their memories back a few years, as far back as 1906. I then, and those who worked with me, worked against the will of the people; the will of the people then was Parliamentarianism and Home Rule. We worked then for a Republic and all along to 1916; and the men who fought then fought against the will of the people, if you might so call it, because the will of the people was Parliamentarianism and Home Rule. I fought and worked against the will of the people in those days because I thought the will of the people was wrong; and should the will of the people go wrong to-day I will work against it also; but I refuse to believe that the will of the people is in favour of the acceptance of this Treaty. Self-determination has been flung around here, and "government by consent of the governed." I have met men in Cork city and also in Dublin city who are supporting the Treaty, and they have said to me: "For God's sake, why didn't you throw it out in Private Session and the whole country would stand beside you." What does that mean? That these people are prepared to accept this Treaty under duress, and that it is not the free consent of the people or self-determination. Self-determination means that you have a free voice to get what you select, and there is no selection in this Treaty. The question before them is: this Treaty or terrible and immediate war. In this Treaty promises of peace have been dangled before the people, and people have been intimidated by threats of war, or attempts have been made to intimidate them, but I say the people of Ireland are not afraid of war; the the people of Ireland were never afraid of war when that war was in defence of their own rights and liberties. Should England force war on us again in consequence of the rejection of this Treaty, the people of Ireland will stand as solidly, as unitedly as ever against the common foe in order to achieve the liberty for which we have always been fighting. I have listened with pain, and sometimes with disgust, to speeches that were made here from time to time which endangered the fate of the nation and gave our case away to the enemy. I had visualised when I first entered this Dáil a Government composed of men who, come weal or woe, would stand as firm as the Rock of Gibraltar for the Republic to which we swore allegiance; who would refuse to be disunited by any enemy, either from within or without this country. I believed at that time that each Deputy had the same end in view as I had, that he had the same thing in view as I had, that he had the same faith in the established Republican Government as I had, and that we were all one on the question of Dominion or Colonial Home Rule. But, alas! I have been mistaken. I have heard Deputies declare here that the Republic is dead, that this Treaty ends the seven centuries' struggle, that it gives us the freedom and what we fought for. I have never in all my life suffered greater agony than what I have suffered since this Session began. Charges have been made here against our noble President, that he let down the Republic; we have all been charged with letting down the Republic when we consented to negotiate. I deny that I ever deviated from the Republican path; I deny that acceptance of negotiations meant the surrender of our Republic; and the famous "paragraph two" in the President's letter to Lloyd George speaks for itself. Deputy MacCartan's speech I deplore; he told the enemy and the world that the Republic is dead, that the army is divided. I deny that the Republic is dead or that the army is divided; the army is as solid and as disciplined to-day as ever it was; it is as ready and willing to repel the attacks of the common enemy now as it was in the past, and it will defend Ireland's rights at all times with the same spirit, the same unity, the same determination. I would like here to refer to a pamphlet issued by Professor O'Rahilly of Cork; he said that fifteen-sixteenths of the army and the whole population is in favour of the Treaty. That is false propaganda; it is false propaganda and from honourable men we would expect better. The army, I say again, is as disciplined to-day as ever it was; the Irish people are as solid behind the national army and the national cause, no matter how they feel about the present Treaty. I deplore speeches which declare our cause is lost; such defeatist speeches are not worthy of any member of this assembly; we are not defeated; the Irish Republican Army is not and was not defeated; and why should we surrender, as was suggested by a Deputy in this House, like the surrender of Germany to the Alllies in order to save their country. We were winning, and we will win. I am against this Treaty because it denies the existence of the Irish Republic and the Irish nation: I will vote against it because if I were to do otherwise I would do wrong, and the Chairman of the Delegation in his golden moments says: "No Church, no religion admits that any man or woman is entitled to do a wrong even that if they did not do it, somebody else would." If the people in Ireland in their stampeded condition to-day would do wrong, that is no reason why I should. I will cast my vote for the Government to which I am pledged, and the only Government which I recognise; to do otherwise would be to subvert the Republican Government. We have been told by the Deputy for St. James' that we did not admit what material or social advantages were in the Treaty. The admission is contained in the other document; the good things in the Treaty have been included in Document No. 2, which is referred to, and I think that was an uncalled-for remark. We have been told that we have got freedom, immediate freedom, great freedom, and that through this Treaty we are to get great and good things to build up a strong nation materially. But in order to do that, to my mind, we must still have the spirit and soul of a nation; and again, in reply to the material advantages that are to be gained through this Treaty, I would refer you to the golden moments of Arthur Griffith: "Train up a child to estimate what it learns by the amount of bread and jam he is likely to gain and you train it by that to lose its soul. If he is taught that patriotism is to be despised if it does not bring material advantages he will ask to-morrow what are the material advantages of religion." That is my reply in the words of Arthur Griffith to the material advantages to be gained by this Treaty when we sell the soul of the nation by its acceptance. We are told what the acceptance of this Treaty means; and we are told that its rejection means that we challenge England to war; we are told that this Treaty is giving us all we asked for. I say that by the rejection of this Treaty we do not challenge England to war; we challenge England's sincerity for peace, and we express our own abhorrence of war by rejecting this Treaty because the Treaty means the perpetuating, the carrying on of war; and by its rejection we challenge England to make a genuine and honourable peace to which both the English nation and the Irish nation will subscribe, a peace with honour to which both nations can subscribe—that is the peace we desire. We all love peace, we pray for peace, and we are ready and willing to make peace with England on honourable terms; let England recognise our independence and we will be at peace; there will then be a definite end to the struggle between the two peoples and we will live as friends and good neighbours. We are anxious to live as good neighbours with the English nation if they are prepared to do the right thing by us (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a lucht na Dála, is le croidhe duaire eirighim anso iniu. Do shaoileas bliain ó shin ná beadh a leithéid de scéal againn sa tír seo agus sa Dáil seo choíche. Ba mhaith liom a rá fé mar adubhairt Séathrún Céitinn trí chéad bliain ó shin: "Mo thruagh mar atá Eire." Mo thruagh mar atá Eire iniu: í deighilte, briste, cráidhte; a teachtaí ag cáine a chéile, ag gearra a chéile, agus is eagal liom go mbeid ag marbha a chéile, sara bhfad. Tá mórán ráite anso cheana i dtaobh na hEireann agus anois táimse chun an méid seo do rá: táim ag obair le fada im' shlí féin ar son na tíre; agus riamh, níor dhineas aon rud i gcoinnibh mo thíre ach aon rud amháin—rud ná raibh leigheas agam air—sé sin gur chuas isteach i Civil Service Shasana. Sé an fáth go ndinim an tagairt seo ná gur chuir fear nú bean éigin é seo chugham "Ratify the Treaty and Save the Empire. England wants Volunteers to join the Free State Army to crush Egypt and India. Join up." Masla dhúinne atá ag cabhrú leis an gConnradh iseadh é sin. Le dhá chéad bliain anuas ní raibh éinne dem' mhuintirse in Arm Shasana, ná i Navy Shasana, ná i bPíléirí Shasana. Tá eagla orm, an bhean a chuir an "dope" sin chugham, ná raibh a fear ná a mac ag troid ar thaobh na hEireann, ach go raibh sé ag troid i gconnibh na Gearmáine—tír nár dhin aon rud i gcoinnibh na tíre seo riamh. Tá a lán ráite i dtaobh Seachtain na Cásca, 1916. Is cuimhin liom an oiche roimh an Cháise sin; bhí an Teachta ó Chathair Dhoire agus an Teachta ó Chathair Phortláirge ag cur an scéil trí chéile an oíche sin; bhíos-sa ann mar "soldier of the line"; ní raibh guth agam ach dubhart: "For God's sake go into action together or declare it off together." Chuas isteach sa troid; ní raibh mo chroidhe an oíche sin sa troid, ach nuair a chuaidh na buachaillí sa chath chuas-sa ann. Chuas isteach sa troid chun aigne mhuintir na hEireann do shaora. I defy any Deputy here to say or state or write that we struck at the British Army in Easter Week, 1916, for any other purpose than to save the soul of Ireland. If we had what we get under this Treaty now— if we had that army out of Ireland that week, what would be the result? We would not be fighting for one week; we would be fighting them for six months, at least. Now I rise to support this Treaty because it gives my country a chance to live; if we reject this Treaty I believe that Ireland will be thrown into the wilderness for a hundred years; and I make no apology to any man or woman in Ireland for voting for this Treaty. We have not been given by our Cabinet a fair run. First of all we were told that we are compromising, but I think that has been dealt with already. If we sent any message to Lloyd George claiming a Republic we had a right to state that in plain Irish or in plain English; but we did not do so. We sent over our plenipotentiaries with an answer to this message: "how the association of the Irish people could best be reconciled with the group of nations known as the British Empire." There is no Republic in that to my mind. The plenipotentiaries were over there for close on two months. They came back and whatever happened at the Cabinet meeting I don't know—I don't know any of the Cabinet secrets— but this much I do know, and the world knows it: that there were four members of the Cabinet for the Treaty and two and the President against it. Now, I say we are treated unfairly, and the people of Ireland are treated unfairly, and, as somebody said here, we, the back-benchers, should have been called together to discuss the situation; there was a serious division in the Cabinet, and we had a right to be called in; it is for that we are here at all. Now we are getting under this Treaty, control of education; and we are talking since 1893 about the Irish language; what progress have we made in that time? All the speeches and all the word-bandying and all our misunderstandings here are caused because of our using the English language. Now, I say that under the Treaty we can revive our own language in less than a dozen years. The President said on one occasion: "B'fhearr liom Eire fé shlabhraí agus a teanga féin aici ná Eire saor gan a teanga féin aici." If the Irish language once dies, as you all know, we can't bring it back; if freedom is lost we can bring it back. A lot has been said here about war; but I believe a lot of people are talking war now and I couldn't find these war merchants—I couldn't find them for the past two years (laughter and applause). And I make no apology for not being in the firing line for the past two years, for I was put into a position by the President, and in that position I carried out my duties to the best of my ability.
In that time, while our soldiers were fighting, the men and women on the civil side were helping the enemy. (Cries of "No! no!"). Do you deny it? Well, now, I say you were; you were trading with the enemy; and during that time you gave that enemy one hundred and thirty-two million pounds for goods that could be purchased and produced in this country; and you tell me that you were functioning as a Republic. Were there not English commercial travellers swarming all over this country, while our men were executed after the Coachford ambush? Were there any Englishmen in this country arrested, or did our Cabinet or this Dáil arrest or execute any English traveller? Every door you entered in this country—every shopkeeper in this country helped them (cries of "No! no!"). I say yes. Well, now, we hear sneering remarks about joining up in the Free State Army; but remember that we joined up in the English Army in 1912, in 1913 and in 1918; and we beat the Germans. Don't tell me that the Munster Fusiliers, my own neighbours, didn't beat the Germans. Don't tell me that the Dublins, the Leinsters and the Connaught Rangers didn't beat the Germans. If you ratify the Treaty there will be no Dublins, no Leinsters, no Connaught Rangers and no Munster Fusiliers. A lot has been said here about the farmers of Ireland——
The North Cork Militia.
Don't mind about the North Cork Militia. I believe that some people have said that the Republic was functioning from 1916 on, and that the people of Ireland were told we were Republicans; well if they were they should have kept their own money in the Republic. Should they not? The Minister of Finance is not here. Now, the Banks of Ireland lent to the British Empire during the war—to win the war—fifty-and-a half million pounds. I want to go through the different points. Somebody said here the other day that the Republic was dead; I deny that; the Republic is not dead; the Republic is in the distance if we accept this Treaty. I compare Ireland to a bather perpetually in togs, prepared to take a dive. A lot has been said here about the will of the people; I don't think it counts now; other methods will be used, I am afraid, to try and stifle the will of the people ("No! no!"). I hope I'm wrong. Ninety-nine per cent. of the people of Ireland—with the exception of the counties of Munster where they would be about ninety-five per cent.—are in favour of the Treaty; I certainly say that ninety-five per cent. of the people of Leinster are in favour of that Treaty; and if they are not they are the biggest hypocrites I know of, because when our men were fighting in Cork for six months, aye for twelve months, I appealed to the Minister of Defence to take the pressure off Cork and to bring it up to Leinster—to Rathdrum—and that was not done; and why was it not done? Because Leinster wouldn't fight. Now, if we accept the Treaty we save the nation—and I take the nation to be the men and women in it, the good and the bad, the soldiers and the ex-soldiers. If we accept Ireland as the nation we will have to accept with it the good and the bad. The population of the County of Cork in 1841 was eight hundred and fifty-four thousand; in 1911 it was three hundred and ninety-two thousand; so that we lost in Cork during seventy years four hundred and sixty-two thousand, or fifty-four per cent. of its population. The whole of Ireland lost in that period three and three-quarter millions of people. We will save our population in future by accepting this Treaty. Now, I am not going to give you any dope; I have no right to give it; and besides it's no good; but I would appeal to Ireland, to Irishmen and Irishwomen, to do the best they can in their day for our common country. The curse of this country is—I will put it in the words of Geoffrey Keating:—
"Eigceart na n-Eireannach féin Do threascair iad do aon chéim Ag spairinn fá cheart ghéar chorrach Ní neart arm na n-eachtrannach."
The Deputy for St. James' said that in Private Session I accused his side of being disciplined. Am I in order in explaining what I did say? At the Private Session on December 17th, certain Deputies who said they were army men got up, one after another, and made certain statements about the army which I will not repeat. I sat here all day and listened to them. I noticed, as they went on, that every one of these soldier Teachtaí used the same three or four arguments, in practically the same words; and at the end of the day I got up and said—it was not in accusation of them, it was in praise of them—I said, whatever is right or wrong, that the army, obviously, to judge by the members here, is well disciplined. It was not an accusation; it was a matter for praise.
As every officer in the army is in the one boat and has the same facts before him, consequently each and every one of them had substantially the same statement to make and they naturally used the same words.
I wish to make a certain explanation with regard to the army as the matter has arisen here and is arising in other places——
The Minister of Defence is not here. He will be here in the afternoon and it can be raised then.
I don't intend to detain you long; I am just going to state in a few brief sentences why I am going to vote against this Treaty. I, like a good many here, have got sheaves of resolutions from public bodies in my constituency; some of these have been mild and reasonable; others of them are undoubtedly very strong—if I may so use the word. They have put it up to me in these words: "ratify or resign" (hear, hear). Well, I am here now to say that I am not going either to ratify or resign. Those public bodies with whom I have been in close touch for the past three years— those bodies were called together to a public meeting last September and my co-Deputy, Gearóid O Sullivan and I were present on that particular occasion. Now, I consider his speech on that occasion was, at least, a strong incentive to induce those public bodies to pass the resolutions which they have passed during the past week; he declared to those public bodies—and I am sure those men looked upon him in his dual capacity, and the word he conveyed to them went home to them—he declared that if he were in charge of the English Army that he would smash the Irish Republic in a fortnight here in this country. He used these words to the public representatives of my native county. It is not wonderful then that the public bodies in my constituency, and in view of the Press campaign that has been going on since the Treaty appeared in public, it is not wonderful that these public bodies would send me these resolutions. I have absolute respect and love for these public bodies and for each individual in my constituency; but it is because I have absolute respect and love for these people that I will not vote for the ratification of this Treaty. Today the people of my constituency and the people of Ireland are citizens of the Irish Republic. To-night at seven o'clock if a vote is taken and if this Treaty is ratified by a majority of this House, the people of Ireland will be no longer citizens of the Irish Republic; they will be citizens of the British Empire.
Not quite so soon.
I will not vote or cast my vote to bring the citizens of the Irish Republic whom I represent, to bring these men into the British Empire, no matter how many sheaves of resolutions I get to the effect—ratify or resign. My co-Deputy also issued what I consider a challenge to me here last night, possibly it may also be applied to my co-Deputy, Deputy Aylward; but I will deal with him in the county—the county in which I have been born and reared, and in which I am living and have lived all my life. I am prepared to take him up on that challenge when he declares that they who speak for the ratification of this Treaty in my county—that they would beat me five hundred to one. I am prepared to accept that challenge, and I will stand on the principle of the Irish Republic in facing my co-Deputy, Gearóid O'Sullivan, on that question; and I further declare that if my co-Deputy had come down last May and declared and called for the votes of the people of Carlow on the strength of the fact that he was going to support this Treaty I doubt if he would have got the thirty-two votes that he now declares that I would get in my constituency. I have a resolution here from my Comhairle Ceanntair in which there was an amendment carried on last Sunday by nine votes to six, and that amendment is this: "That we, the members of the Carlow Comhairle Ceanntair call upon the members of the Dáil for unity in the present crisis and that we ask all our members to use their influence to bring about that unity which we desire." There is the Comhairle Ceanntair of Carlow though I am told that there are only thirty-two men in the county who stand for an Irish Republic; yet the names of nine men are there who stand firm on that principle. I went forward as a Republican in 1918; I was elected as a Republican in 1921; and yet there are people here who say the Republic is dead; I hold the Republic is not dead; and I say that when the Republic sent plenipotentiaries over to London the Republic was, undoubtedly, not dead; but I hold that the Republic never got right into its stride into the hearts of the Irish people until the delegates went over to London. The people looked to the Republic for guidance and for assistance; and I consider that if I vote for the ratification of this Treaty that my life for the past three years would be an absolute negation and an absolute lie. I am not going to vote for the Treaty; I am going to stand on the principles I stood on in 1918 and 1921, and I am going to vote solid for its rejection.
said he had received the following letter from Deputy Thomas O'Kelly:
"Dublin, 22nd December, 1921.
"To the Speaker of Dáil Eireann.
"I am unable to attend the meeting and I wish my vote to be recorded for the ratification of the Treaty.
"Mise do chara,
I have very little to say; and what I have to say is rather by way of personal explanation than in support of the Treaty. When I came here first I was opposed to the Treaty; and on principle I am opposed to it still. I was elected without my knowledge; the first thing I knew about being elected a member of Dáil Eireann was to see my name in the public Press; had I known my name was to be put forward I would have objected; I want to make that clear. Until I came here I didn't know how matters stood; when I found out how things happened I must say I did not like, and I do not like, the idea of the plenipotentiaries having signed without having brought back the Treaty for consideration. That is my opinion, although others who vote for the Treaty are against me in that. My great ambition and prayer was that unity would be achieved by some means. I was prepared to vote for Document No. 2 provided a substantial majority of the House was for it; my reason for doing so was to secure unity; I am quite prepared to do anything for unity because I realise that the curse of this country has been disunion. I say I will do anything yet to achieve unity. If a division had been taken before Christmas I say, undoubtedly, that I would have voted against the Treaty. That is my position. I returned to my constituency at Christmas and I went there to the people—not the resolution passers— to the people who had been with me in the fight, the people whose opinion I valued, the people who are, I believe, Die-Hards; and I consulted them about this question and I must say that unanimously they said to me that there was no alternative but to accept the Treaty. Everything that is personal in me is against this Treaty; I yield to no man in my hatred of British oppression, and in my opposition to any symbol of British rule in Ireland; but I say I would be acting an impertinent part by putting my own views and opinions against the views of my best friends, the men who are the best fighters with me. I have taken only one oath to the Republic—that was the Republican Army oath; the oath to the Saorstát was not a Republican oath. My oath to the army I will keep; I will not join the Saorstát Army and I don't care who takes exception to that. I will join no other army but the Irish Republican Army; when the fight begins for the Republic again I will take my part in it. My only hope now is that when this decision is taken there will be unity; that there will be a meeting afterwards; that the members of the Dáil will come together and come to some common understanding to work our country in the interests of the people. I say this for myself: that while I would vote for the Treaty I am just as well pleased if the Treaty is thrown out; but I will not take the responsibility of doing what I consider would be driving the young men of the country, and all the country, into war for I know what war has meant. I would not vote to bring war upon those people; but if this Treaty is rejected, and if war is the result, I promise I will do everything I possibly can to unite the people to fight the common enemy; and I promise to fight to victory or death to secure the Republic (applause).
On a point of personal explanation, I understand my co-Deputy from Carlow made a statement here in my absence that I said a certain thing at a public meeting in Carlow. I did not make that statement. All the time since the Truce was established I spent in preparing, to the best of my ability, the country for war, I worked overtime. I will not say—it is for others to say—what I did. I wish to say now that the statement as alleged by Deputy Lennon was not made by me; it is not true.
I made that state ment; I stand over it.
I was at the meeting at Kilkenny and my co-Deputy made no such statement as Deputy Lennon has said—not a single tittle in the nature of what he has stated.
He made it at the public meeting—at a meeting of the public men at Carlow that met in the Town Hall; I forget the day. The statement I made I stand by.
Were you there?
I hope that I will secure this record in brevity that is so much talked about here but so little adhered to. Now, the very little that I have got to say on this question at this hour of our Session will not, I believe, influence anybody here. I do not think at this stage that it is possible to influence anybody, any more than it would have been possible to influence myself even before this Dáil came into session to consider this question. At the outset, therefore, I will explain my own attitude to this Treaty or this so-called Treaty. Immediately on the publication of its terms in the public Press my mind was made up in an attitude of direct and definite opposition to this so-called Treaty; at that particular time it was made up, I should explain, in this fashion: even if there was not another single Deputy in the Dáil to oppose it, I would. In doing that I had my own conscience to consider, and also the electors who sent me here. I will come later to deal with the question of the electors; a good deal has been said about them here because it is sometimes useful for us to discover that we have got the like. Well, now, with regard to my conscience; I have been a nationalist for a very long time; that nationalism took a definite form twelve years previous to Easter Week; that definite form was Republicanism, as being the most feasible form of Government in which our people ought to live. At this stage I would like to refer to a remark made by one of the Deputies here some days ago; Deputy Dan MacCarthy said that the 1918 election was not fought on Republicanism, but on self-determination. Now that statement is true in a sense, but it is true only in a sense. The electors in my constituency understood as clearly as I did—and at that time I made it my business to explain to any of them who might be in doubt— that our attitude was a definite one; that we were definitely following out the proclamation issued in Easter Week—the proclamation to the public of the existence of the Irish Republic. Now, with regard to the constituents, I have been a good deal among my constituents; I have worked a good deal amongst them in all phases of this work, both civil and military, under their Republican Government. They have done their share of work in the last three years very well; they definitely understood that they were doing that work with the authority of a Government that I and they had made up our minds had come to stay; They subscribed to the Republican Loan pretty well on that understanding; they subscribed to all other activities on that definite understanding. Recently at the Christmas holidays I went amongst them. I will not say, as some Deputies have said here—because I am not in a position to say—that I got resolutions. I have got one—if I might so call it—a resolution subscribed to by a few individuals whom I know, whose attitude towards Ireland has been pretty well known for a long while; these people call themselves members of the Farmers' Union; they have been known to us, and they have been, in reality, members of this body about which we have heard a good deal recently—the Southern Irish Unionists. These are the people who are calling on me to ratify the Treaty; these are the people who have been working against us in every step that we have taken, and in all the different phases of our activity in this Republic of ours. I did not get resolutions; I did discuss the question with a number of my constituents; they did not think it necessary to pass any resolution; they definitely stated to me that they knew what my action has been from the very start, and they said that I and the other members of the Dáil were the best possible judges of this matter, and to decide it without interference. Now, at this hour of the day, at this hour of our Session, it seems to me a very vain hope to expect that we can have on this question—that we can have unity. For the sake of that unity I would be prepared to contribute anything that I possibly could, consistent with my principles; but I wish it to be definitely understood here that I would not, or could not, contribute one iota to anything that would mean the lowering of our national standard; and if there are people here who are really anxious, and disagree with my view on the question of this Treaty, it is for them and not for us—those who stand on principle cannot and will not sacrifice—but those who stand here and on any other platform on what I might call expediency—I hope I am not insulting anybody when I call it expediency——
It is for those to come up to our standard and then we can have unity. Now, with regard to that Treaty itself, one Deputy, my friend for one of the Dublin divisions here, stated this morning that nobody on our side had yet discussed the Treaty on its merits. Well, I will attempt to discuss some merits of the Treaty just as they appear to me. The first is this: there are some things in it which we—which the Irish people might take if they got them from Lloyd George, driven down their throats with a bayonet—they might take them then; but the Treaty is not a thing for which we can sacrifice our national honour; it is not sufficiently good; and no matter how good it might be, when it involves that sacrifice of principle after our years of struggle here to try to drag this country of ours outside the British Empire—are we now, as a willing sacrifice, to come into it with its lovely history and tradition? If some of our people are anxious to participate in that tradition and that history, we, at all events, will do all in our power to save our country and our traditions—the traditions that have given us strength to do all we have done in the last few years. Now, just one other word, and one only, and I have done. We have learned a great number of new words here and nice phrases, and one gentleman mentioned visualising the future. I have attempted in my own peculiar way to visualise the future; and, in a personal way, I must say I have taken rather a gloomy picture of it, because under this future state there has come forcibly to my mind the conclusion of my sentence received from a British Court-martial, and the conclusion of a number of other sentences of honest Irish Republicans—under this Free State; we Republicans will probably spend the rest of our lives in jail as rebels under the Free State, with this difference— that we will have a greater difficulty in getting out under our native Government than under the foreign one. Another, and a chief merit I have seen in the Treaty—the chief merit that anybody in Ireland can find in the Treaty— is to be discovered by viewing it through Lloyd George glasses, if you like; there is to be found the chief merit of this so-called Treaty; and here in this assembly we find what used to be regarded as a national assembly of the Irish people turned into a semi-political assembly since this Treaty was introduced. Here we have the first fruits of the Treaty; we have dissension, bitterness and malice for the first time that I have seen any of these things displayed in this Dáil—we find these have been introduced on the introduction of this so-called Treaty. These are the first fruits of it and they will be spread through the country no matter how we try to prevent it, and that is the chief merit I see; and from the British point of view it has done more for them and their power than all their bayonets and all their military preparation has been able to do. Therefore, finally, if it is not yet too late, I would make a last appeal for unity to these people to save their country; and they can only unite on the basis on which I and a number of Deputies in this Dáil stand and that is the basis of an Irish Republic (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a lucht na Dála, is beag atá agamsa a rá ar an gceist seo, go háirithe taréis an méid atá ráite cheana. As I am, I think, to be the last speaker amongst the private members I hope to make a record. It seems to me that we have talked at great length on the merits and demerits of the Treaty; but I believe that a good deal of that talk and a good deal of the arguments used would be more appropriate on the hustings later on. The Treaty has not been examined, and has not been given fair play for the good things that are in it; and because of the good things that are in it I am in favour of it. I have, during the past three weeks, done what I could in a private way to see if, in any way, the two sides could be brought together, if any arrangement could be come to that would preserve the unity of this Dáil; and on the Committee of which I was a member we had almost succeeded in doing that. People who are against this Treaty, for some reason which I cannot understand, refused to allow that document which we had drawn up to come before yesterday's Private Session of the Dáil. Instead of that a bombshell was thrown in by the resignation of the President; that is the President's own business; but I can say as a member of that Committee that the people on this side literally went on their knees to President de Valera to try and preserve the unity of the country.
One of the objections I had to that Committee coming along was that they were bringing forward a thing that was impossible; and they were trying to put me in the same position as was attempted in America.
That's a very unfair attack on the Committee.
I did not mean it for the Committee. What I mean is when that proposition—I do not care whether it is published or not— when it was being put to me it simply meant that we would let the Free State take existence and take root, and then try to pull it up again. That is the substance of what it amounts to.
I move the adjournment now; and both sides have agreed that there should not be more than two speakers, exclusive of what we might, in courtesy, call the principal speakers. Mr. MacGrath has agreed that there should be two speakers on each side—private members—and after that the debate will be summed up or wound up by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and by the Minister for Defence; after which the division will be taken.
Who will speak last?
The gentleman who winds up the debate—the Minister for Foreign Affairs. You will remember that Committee—which, unfortunately, was not able to reach agreement as to finding a way out—that Committee had certain notes and it was agreed here in the Dáil—as there was no agreement come to by the Committee, and as certain of us insisted that these documents were not before the Dáil—it was agreed that they should not be published. Now, it has reached our ears that some of these notes have been given by somebody to the representatives of the Press; Mr. MacGrath and I have agreed that you ask the Press to regard these documents as confidential.
I should like to say now, as it might be my last opportunity to speak in this House, that an attempt has been made by the other side to try to make out that I am trying to split the country when they did it themselves—when the Minister of Foreign Affairs brought over the document that meant splitting the country— and then trying to put on me, as was done in America, to represent me as trying to prevent unity in the country.
That statement should be made in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I met last night a representative of the Press outside, and he told me he had got a copy of the decisions arrived at by the small Committee.
There were no decisions arrived at.
I told him in no circumstances was he to publish them; I reported this matter then to the chiefs on this side of the House and we took particular precaution and sent two men to the Press—theFreeman and Independent—to tell them under no circumstances were they to be published.
Well it is understood that these documents and notes of that Committee which met in private are confidential.
I presume that the publication of these documents will be regarded by this House as a breach of privilege, and that if they will be published——
I have been listening for five minutes to the debate which went on on the assumption that some of the Committee are trying underhand methods to get out these things—that somebody is trying to get out documents which are confidential. Is that a fair statement?
That statement has not been made.
I say on behalf of this side of the Committee that we are doing our best to the contrary.
I never made any remarks of the kind. I would have kept silent on it were it not for the remark of the Deputy for Longford that they went down on their knees to get unity.
To anybody who was present yesterday it will be clear that what I have said is absolutely true.
The House adjourned at 1.40 p.m.
The Dáil Eireann Session was resumed at 4.10 p.m. on Saturday, 7th January, 1922, with THE SPEAKER (DR. MACNEILL) in the Chair.
On a point of information, there is a notice of motion here by Doctor MacNeill. Is that in order?
In order? Well, it is.
Should we not get twenty-four hours' notice?
It is not put before you yet. Very likely you will have forty-eight hours' notice of it.
Is that a vote of confidence by the people who are voting for Saorstát na hEireann?
It can't be discussed now.
At the request of the Speaker the Secretary, Mr. Diarmuid O'Hegarty, called the roll, when 122 members answered.
I rise to vote against this Treaty; I believe if I voted for this Treaty I would be voting against the independence of my country; I am not prepared to do that. I believe, also, if we go into this British Empire we will go in there as a prop to hold up a rotten Empire. We have heard a lot here of the alternative to this Treaty— terrible and immediate war. Well, I have the honour of representing Mid-Cork in this Dáil, and I think this guerilla warfare was started in Mid.-Cork; I believe the first lorry was attacked in Mid.-Cork; the people have been with us all the time up to the Truce and they never flinched though they often heard the angry crack of the rifle and machine gun. The people down there do not want war, but they are not half as much afraid of war as the people from other counties who have not fired a shot yet. I am against this Treaty.
I am sorry to admit that I have lost; this was the shortest speech yet.
All through this long debate I have listened to the arguments on every side and, as one who has risen for the first time to speak in this assembly, I wish to state the reasons why I am going to vote for the approval of the Treaty; not because I hope to convert even any one Deputy here, but for the purpose of explaining to my constituents the reason for my action. I am in the position of one of the Deputies who spoke before lunch—Deputy O'Rourke; and I make no apology whatever to any man for changing my opinions. I came here to this assembly opposed to this Treaty, as I believed then that the Dáil, by a big majority, would be opposed to it. It was not what we were fighting for; it was not the end the ultimate end—of what I had in view when I joined Sinn Féin; but, as I have said, I have listened here without interrupting any man, and I have formed my opinion from what I have heard, and from what I know are the facts of the situation. I have not been impressed by anybody on either side; nor has my opinion been formed for me; I have formed it myself. Now, I was opposed to the Treaty because it was not the thing for which we were fighting. I have heard a lot here about the Republic as if it were not acutally existing; about what we fought for; and I have heard from various members that this Treaty gave us what we fought for. I don't agree with that. The election of 1918 may have been for self-determination; but when I stood for the election I had to fight a bitter one; I stood for the complete independence of this country—total separation from England—and the placards are still on the walls down in Tír Chonaill. It was not for self-determination I fought the election, it was for independence; and it will come to pass yet that the Irish people, if given a free choice, will vote for independence. Now, the fight was begun then, or in 1916, if you will; it has gone on since; we have had only one thing before us and that is the independence of this country—complete and total separation. The Republic was set up here in 1919; but we had not independence although the Republic was set up; we were fighting for it; and that fight is going on yet, and will go on in the future. Now, this Treaty was signed; but how it was signed, or by what means it was signed, is a matter with which I have nothing to do. It is here before us; and we have not to judge of this Treaty by how or why or the manner in which the signature was obtained; we have to deal with facts, with the facts of the situation as they are at the present moment. I believed when I came to this Dáil, and I believe it now, that if this Treaty had been rejected practically unanimously by the Dáil we could have obtained unity in this country and have the people behind us, and we could have won our case. I was opposed to the Treaty up to Christmas; I went down to my constituency, and I may say here that I know my constituents perhaps as well as any other man in the Dáil; I have travelled throughout the length and breadth of my constituency; and I have been in practically every Sinn Féin Club during the two months before this Treaty was signed—we have twenty-four of them. At Christmas every Sinn Féin Club debated this Treaty amongst themselves; I went to the Comhairle Ceanntair and I endeavoured there—because I wanted to save them from themselves—to prevent them passing a resolution against acceptance; and the Sinn Féin Clubs, by seventeen to three, asked that this Treaty be ratified under protest; and they stated that they could see no alternative. Now, that was the voice of my constituency; it was the voice of the best elements in that constituency. I will not speak of what the army thinks—I know that the army is prepared to fight as before—for it is the civil population that decides this question now; and of the civil population that is the voice, and the answer they gave to me. Now, I told them there at that Comhairle Ceanntair meeting that I did not hold that I was necessarily bound to vote for the ratification, because I held that the mandate they gave me was to secure the independence of Ireland, and that if I thought it better and wiser to vote against this Treaty I would do so; but what I did pledge myself to was this: that I would vote at this meeting of the Dáil for what I thought was the best way to obtain that independence of Ireland for which we were fighting. Now, those people down the country, so far as I can understand, can see no alternative but to take this Treaty as a step—that is their voice. I have not met one man who was in favour of the Treaty but was in favour of it only as a step to the independence to which we were making. I have met some that were against it, as I have told you, but the majority were in favour of it as a step towards that independence because they could see no other way out of it. As I said, I could have seen the other way out when I came to this Dáil, if this Dáil had made up its mind to stand for it; but now, when it has come to the final day for decision I have to make up my mind as to the wisest course and the best way to obtain the independence of my country. Now, we have heard here members talk of an alternative to rejection; some have told me privately that they based their decision on the belief that Lloyd George would not go to war with the Irish nation; I do not know what grounds they have for that view; I can only form my own opinion on English politics and one point in that matter is this: I do not know that any change has come to England since after that final note came before the Dáil for its approval— when the answer was being sent back to England that we would not accept her terms we were told that rejection of them would mean immediate war. I am not aware that any change has taken place since in Lloyd George's mind so that the rejection of this offer might not mean war, too; I do know that it has been said here that at that Session the members of the Dáil, when they let the plenipotentiares go to England, compromised. I only asked one question on that occasion; I asked the President what he meant by association with the British Commonwealth of nations in his letter to Lloyd George, and I did not receive any direct reply. Even if this Treaty were rejected, and the President's document accepted by Lloyd George, I hold there will not be a lasting peace with England until we are absolutely separated from England and the British Empire. Now, the probable consequences of rejection have a different light in every Deputy's mind here, I suppose; but in my mind the consequences, if the Treaty be rejected, are that now Lloyd George is in the position of knowing that this country is absolutely disunited, and that he is in the happy position of knowing that if he makes war now—if he only threatens war on this country—that the people of this country do not want to fight. I know that may not be as it appears to you; but I have talked with the people, and I know their minds, and I know the view point they have; they are war-worn; they have come through a strenuous fight and they want peace. Now they see the prospect of peace, and they have not the smallest scruple about it; they are willing to take that prospect; and they, at the same time, are willing to take it as a stepping stone. I have no scruples about it either; I am willing to take it as a stepping stone, and I do not care how Lloyd George views what Deputies say here; so far as I am concerned, I will only vote for this Treaty as a stepping stone to put this country into such a position at some future time— when the opportunity does come—that it will claim the total separation that it is entitled to as a separate nation. Some members have said that this Treaty should be put to the people of this country whichever way it goes, and some even have said that, so far as their constituents are concerned, their constituents would support them in its rejection. I do not know about their constituents; so far as my own constituency is concerned, I have men there who are opposed to the Treaty, and I am glad these men are there; perhaps if I were in their place I would be opposed to this Treaty; but I am here with the responsibility of either accepting this Treaty or rejecting it, with the consequences to the country. What these consequences are is in the future; you may see them in one light, I may see them in the other; but I will not take the responsibility of rejecting this Treaty with the probable consequences to the country, because one thing that may happen if this Treaty is rejected is this, and I regard it as the worst: we have got certain things here from Lloyd George and from the British Government in this Treaty which, if utilised to the full force, will benefit this country; but if this Treaty is rejected that gives Lloyd George an opportunity of backing down from these terms. Now, there are things in it that are not palatable to us and not palatable to Lloyd George and his associates, and they would be only too anxious and too glad to get rid of all this; and then, when he has an opportunity of backing out from the Treaty he has signed, he can put worse terms before the people of this country; and what I say is this, that the people of this country, in the state in which they are in at present, would take worse terms. You may like that or you may not. It is because the people of this country are disunited, because they have expressed their views on this Treaty, that I am voting for the Treaty. I do not want the Treaty myself; I do not like it; but I know very well that you will not be able to wring anything more out of Lloyd George with the state the people are in now in the country; you will wring no more, and you will have to take less. The other consequences are that you will go on in this state for years to come before you get as far as you are at present. Now, I have said nothing personal on one side or the other; I regard it as disastrous that there should have been such a split in the Dáil; if there had been unanimity the situation could have been saved. However, that is my own opinion. I make this explanation for the purpose of explaining to my constituents why I vote in this way, because some of them know I was opposed to it, and strongly opposed to it, when the Treaty came out first; I do consider that this Treaty, if it ever comes into operation, will give a chance to the people at some future time to obtain full independence. Now, I won't detain you very much longer. I am a lawyer, but I do not think I have employed any argument on this, or legal quibbles, or constitutional law; and I think if the lawyers who did speak first were to speak now they would not use these arguments either, for this matter is too big for chess-playing. We have to swallow a bitter pill in this; one Deputy has said that to-day, and nobody likes to swallow pills; but if we honestly think that it is for the best interests of our country I think we are doing then what our conscience directs; and in taking this step I consider I am doing what is best for my country. I will vote for the Treaty under protest— not under protest in a sense, because I have a free will—but I will vote for it only as a stepping stone, and when the time comes I will be just as ready to take a part in the fight for independence as I have been in the past. After all, we here are split, as far as I can see, on which is the better way; that is the only thing that divides us. I told my Comhairle Ceanntair that I would vote for what I thought was the best way to gain absolute independence in the end; I consider that if I voted for rejection I would be putting back the fight for independence for years and years to come; whereas if I vote and swallow the pill and take the Treaty I consider that I will bring that absolute independence nearer by years; how many years I do not know. I do know, however, that the people of this country have not changed their national aspirations, and I consider that their national aspirations will be brought nearer by acceptance of the Treaty.
When I read the terms of the Treaty signed in London everything that was in me that I can call good revolted against those terms. Like my co-Deputy from Tír Chonaill I came to this Session of Dáil Eireann with a mind that was open to conviction against these prejudices that I had; no argument that has been produced by those who are for this Treaty has made any influence on me; I see in it the giving away of the whole case of Irish independence; I see in it, not the coming nearer of the day when liberty will be throughout the land, but the going farther away from that day; and I can't be a coward, and I would be a coward if I said anything else; and I can't be on the side of those who are swallowing pills and taking the backward step in the hope that in the near future they will find themselves in a better position than they are to-day. Each man here has to interpret the mandate he got from his constituents. I come from a constituency in Tír Chonaill; when I went into that constituency I went into it on the invitation of the man who was then Secretary of the Comhairle Ceanntair, and who now sits in this Dáil; I at first refused the invitation to stand because I had no desire to enter public life. When he proposed me, the Comhairle Ceanntair, he said, was in a hole, a difficulty; and he proposed me and I consented to stand for the Republic. I went into the constituency, and you, a Chinn Chomhairle, accompanied me to the first meeting; and the Chairman of the Comhairle Ceanntair took me behind the wagonette and he said he and the Comhairle Ceanntair wanted to win the election in North Donegal and that the election could be won if there was no mention of the Republic. "Very good," said I, "you are entitled to your opinions, but you can get another candidate." I am prepared to admit that the mandate I got from the constituents of North Donegal was one of self-determination; and it is a terrible thing and a terrible trial to have men in this Dáil interpretating that sacred principle here against the interests of the people.
I know that the people in North Donegal at the present moment would accept this Treaty; and I think it is fair to the people of North Donegal that I should make that known; but they are accepting it under duress and at the point of the bayonet, and as a stop to terrible and immediate war. It is not peace they are getting; it is not the liberty they are getting which they are told they are getting, and they know it; and I will tell them honestly if I go to North Donegal again, what they are getting. I have my ideals of the people's will; and at this stage of the proceedings I have no intention of saying anything bitter about any man or body of men in this assembly; but I hold that the people's will was flouted in London when that document was signed. I have sufficient data for my mind to prove that the men who signed it knew that there would be a split in the Cabinet, that there would be a split in the Dáil and a split in the country, and, notwithstanding that, they accepted the document which embodies in it no clause or phrase which enables them to bring it before the people whose will they have such regard for. I say if they have the people's will, the sacred will of the Irish people, before their minds, they, at least, knowing the consequences of their signatures, should and could have demanded that if the Dáil turned it down the Irish people could have a final word. They have not done that. I am not afraid to go into my constituency and fight the question Free State versus the Irish Republic against any man, from a Cabinet Minister down; and my mind is not small enough to deny that there is a big difference between Document No. 2 and the Treaty that was signed; it is not a question of tweedledum and tweedledee, as I was told the night before this Session opened, and as I have heard repeated often since then. It is the great question of Irish sovereignty, and as long as I have a weapon to fight for that cause I shall not be a party to voting away the sovereignty of this nation (applause).
The claim is made by men who are opposing this Treaty that we have a Republic established in this country. The delegates, in signing this Treaty with England, could not vote away that Republic if we had a Republic in this country in the sense in which they mean to convey. I, as one plain man, want to know why were delegates sent to London at all? Was it to arrange for the evacuation of the English forces out of this country? Was it to arrange an alliance with England? Why were they sent to England at all? To my mind the isolated Republic was let down when the reply was sent to the letter of Lloyd George to President de Valera on the 29th September, in which he stated that: "In spite of their (the British Government's) sincere desire for peace, and in spite of the conciliatory tone of your last communication, they cannot enter a conference upon the basis of this correspondence. Notwithstanding your personal assurance to the contrary which they much appreciate, it might be argued in future that the acceptance of a conference on this basis had involved them in a recognition which no British Government can accord."
I ask that my reply be read now.
The reply, no matter how carefully read—in my opinion the sending over of the delegates was an abandonment of the isolated Republic.
It would be very important to have my reply read.
We all read the reply and we know it.
I don't want to read the reply. The point for me is this: we have not a Republic functioning in this country; we have a paper Republic; the people of Donegal are sick of this paper Republic.
And paper Republicans, too.
If we have a Republic, how is it that the British institutions are functioning in this country as well? Every honest man in this Dáil must admit that; and are not British troops in Ireland and British institutions functioning in Ireland? We have got no national recognition from any country in the world, despite Harry Boland's talk. Their sympathy was not enough; the sympathy of the people in other countries, even in America, was not strong enough to compel them to recognise our Government. That was the test of it.
The people recognised it.
It might be said that our men might have got better terms in London. Perhaps they might, but I can tell you the people of Donegal, anyhow, have the very greatest confidence in the ability of Arthur Griffith and the sincerity of Michael Collins; and they believe that, taking all the circumstances of the case into account, they did what was best for Ireland. Now, President de Valera has stated that rather than sign this Treaty he was prepared to see the Irish people live in subjection until God would redeem them. I may as well say at once that that is not my creed; that is a doctrine that never was preached in the history of the world before: that a country, if it could not get absolutely what it was out for, should fight to the extermination of its people. I, as one man, can't take the responsibility for committing the men and women who sent me here to a war of extermination which, I think, would result if this Treaty were rejected. I have no qualms about the oath which I took on coming into this assembly; the people sent me here to get absolute separation if I could—I am for absolute separation if I could see a way out—but they sent me here to use my own free will; and if I could not get absolute separation at the present time I was to take something by which we could work out our own independence in the long run. I think in voting for this Treaty I am voting according to the mandate which my constituents gave me when sending me here. That is all I have to say.
I rise to say a few words; perhaps if I did not do so some people might say that I had not the courage to voice my opinions in this assembly. I vote against this Treaty because I am a Republican; I was elected on the Republican ticket; I came here and took the oath to the Republican Government and I am not going now to destroy that Government. If the people do not agree with me they can get rid of me at any time and in any way that they like. Finally, as a Republican, I could never recognise the Government of George V. of England in either internal or external association.
I was not going to speak one word here in this Public Session; I spoke what I had to say in the Private Session; I don't retract one word from that, nor have I one word to add to it. I have travelled down this stormy road since 1916 and it is conviction that leads me to vote for this Treaty; I know my friends and fellow-soldiers on the other side are equally convinced; but I can feel no other way out at the present moment. I did not want to make a speech; I was not going to say a word in addition to what I had said in the Private Session, but lest, as my comrade here says, that some one might say that I had not the courage of my convictions, I now state publicly that I am going to vote for this Treaty.
A Chinn Chomhairle agus a cháirde Gaedhal, mo sheana-chara, an Teachta ó Chiarruidhe Thoir, dubhairt sé i dtosach an méid cainte do dhin sé anso go raibh socair aige gan aon rud do rá a chuirfeadh fearg ar éinne. Tá socair agamsa anois gan aon rud do rá a chuirfeadh fearg ar éinne; ach tá socair agam an fhírinne d'innsint agus deir an sean-fhocal go mbíonn an fhírinne searbh; ach nuair innsim an fhírinne má chuireann sí fearg ar éinne ní hormsa atá an locht. Ní chun fearg do chur ar éinne a neosfad-sa an fhírinne anois; ní mór dom an fhírinne d'innsint mar is léir go bhfuil daoine ann ná tuigeann an scéal. Níl éinne is mó go bhfuil meas agam air imease na ndaoine atá i bhfabhar an Chonnartha so ná mo sheana-chara ó Oirthear Chiarruidhe agus mo sheana-chara ó Chontae na Gaillimhe—Piaras Béaslaí agus Pádraig O Máille. Iarrfad ortha éisteacht go cúramach le n-a bhfuil le rá agam. Dubhairt Pádraig gur mheas sé gur ghéill an t-Aire um Ghnóthaí Dúiche agus mise do Shasana sarar chuaidh an Toscaireacht anonn; is truagh ná fuil sé anso; ach dubhairt sé, agus dubhairt daoine eile atá anso, gur ghéilleamair do Shasana ag cruinniú den Aireacht le linn na cainte do bhí ar siúl idir sinne agus an cúigear do chuaidh anonn. Déanfad-sa a dheimhniú nár dhineamair agus iarfad ar Art O Gríobhtha an méíd a bheidh ráite agamsa a bhréagnú má's féidir do é. Now, my friends, there are some people who— from a few questions that they put, some of them have written them out for me—do not, apparently, understand the whole position at present. My friend, one of the Deputies from Dublin, Seán MacGarry, put a question the other night—I would have answered him, but I thought it a pity to interrupt the flow of his eloquence—he asked what would the Minister of Defence say to an ex-member of the British Army about the oath when that member would be about to join our forces—what he would say to him about the oath he had already taken to England. The only oath that concerns me is the Oath of Allegiance to the Dáil, and as long as every member of the army abides by the oath which he must take when he enters it I am satisfied; if he does not abide by it, as long as I am at the head of the army, I will have him dealt with in the proper way. My friend, the Deputy for one of the Mayo constituencies, sent a question in here which, in effect, is this: If the Minister of Defence had been made an offer two months ago to have the British forces clear out of Ireland would he, instead of accepting that offer, say: "No! I prefer to drive them out."? That, I understand, was in effect the question. Certainly not, I would let them go out; I do not want any fighting unless it is absolutely necessary; but if the conditions were that our people must become British subjects I would say: "I am not going to agree to that; clear out if you like." A Deputy from Tipperary and Waterford, one of my own colleagues, has sent me in a question which I will read. "In view of the fact that many members and several people are biassed in favour of this proposed Treaty because the Minister of Finance is in favour of ratification, and in view of the fact that many of these people, and many of these members, are of opinion that Mr. Michael Collins is a leader of the army and has fought many fights for the Republic, I think it is of great importance that an authoritative statement be made (a) defining the real position Mr. Michael Collins held in the army, (b) telling what fights he has taken an active part in, provided this can be done without injustice to himself or danger to the country; or can it be authoritatively stated that he ever fired a shot at any enemy of Ireland?”
Is that in order?
That is a matter which I approach with great reluctance; and I may tell you I would never have dealt with it, and this question would never have been asked, but for the statement made by the Chairman of the Delegation when he was speaking here; he referred to Mr. Michael Collins as the man who won the war.
So he did.
And the war is won and we are talking here. Very well, I will explain to you how that is done.
I would like to rise to a point of order. Are we discussing the Treaty or are we discussing the Minister of Finance? I think we are discussing the Treaty.
The Minister of Finance does not like what I have got to say.
Anything that can be said about me, say it.
Tá go maith.
If things are to be said about the Minister of Finance are we at liberty to say anything we know about other people? I mean it is becoming personal.
I think Cathal Brugha ought to respect the chair.
Táim chun rud éigin le rá anois; tá san socair im' aigne agam, agus má chuirtear isteach orm táim canncarach, crosta, agus ní aingeal in aon chor mé.
Ní chuirfeadh éinne é sin id' leith.
It is necessary for me to define Michael Collins' position in the army. Now, I have my department divided up into sections. I have the ordinary Ministerial part of it; the civil part of it; the liaison part of it; and then the Head Quarters Staff. The Head Quarters Staff is divided up again; at the head is the Chief of Staff; and at the head of each section of the Head Quarters Staff is another man working under the Chief of Staff. One of those heads of the subsections is Mr. Michael Collins; and to use a word which he has on more than one occasion used, and which he is fond of using, he is merely a subordinate in the Department of Defence.
Has he been an efficient officer?
Leig dom anois agus neosfad san duit. While the war was in progress I could not praise too highly the work done by the Head Quarters' Staff. The Chief of Staff and each of the leaders of the subsections—the members of the Head Quarters' Staff—were the best men we could get for the positions; each of them carried out efficiently, so far as I know, the work that was entrusted to him they worked conscientiously and patriotically for Ireland without seeking any notoriety, with one exception; whether he is responsible or not for the notoriety I am not going to say (cries of "Shame" and "Get on with the Treaty"). There is little more for me to say. One member was specially selected by the Press and the people to put him into a position which he never held; he was made a romantic figure, a mystical character such as this person certainly is not; the gentleman I refer to is Mr. Michael Collins——
The Irish people will judge that.
Now we know things.
Now we know the reason for the opposition to the Treaty (applause).
During the war, on one or two occasions, people came to me and asked me why I did not stop this kind of thing; here was a man being described as Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Army, and on another occasion he was Field-Marshal-General, I believe. My reply was that Mr. Michael Collins could not be responsible for what people said of him in the Press: and consequently I never took any notice of these things, and would not have done so only for what the Chairman of the Delegation said; because it seems to me, when the Chairman of the Delegation made such a statement as that, the people who were whispering fairy tales into the ears of the Press correspondents must have been at the Chairman of the Delegation too—that Mr. Michael Collins had won the war.
The Chairman of the Delegation thinks the war is won, so far as he could win it, for England.
Bravo, Cathal, bravo.
Go maith. Now, so much for what the Chairman of the Delegation said about Mr. Michael Collins; but when Mr. Michael Collins was speaking here in support of the resolution in favour of the Treaty, he told us that during the war he compelled respect and also during the negotiations.
Well, the modesty of that is such that I will not spoil it by comment; but it is just a continuance of the other fable. He also referred to some mysterious incidents that he says the people were excommunicated for, and he said he was responsible for that; a lot of people applauded it; and I wonder what those people who applauded thought they were applauding. I know of only two instances for which people during the war were excommunicated; one was an ambush, it was a fair ambush, and in charity to Mr. Michael Collins I will not repeat here what a participant in the ambush said about Mr. Collins. His remark about his being responsible for it—if it was to that he referred—suffice it to say——
I respectfully suggest that the Minister for Defence——
Too late. Let him carry on now.
The damage has been done.
No damage is done.
The damage is done.
In any case you all understand now——
Well, what exactly am I going to say to you? (Laughter). That Mr. Michael Collins does not occupy that position in the army that newspaper men said he occupied.
I never thought he did.
I think we have enough.
I must protest against the Minister of Defence being interrupted. He is making a good speech for the Treaty (applause).
Deimhneochad é sin ar ball. Now, I finish with that, so far as Michael Collins is concerned. Now, in the article which appeared a few days ago in theFreeman's Journal, the one in which a most dastardly attack was made on our President and on Deputy Childers, Mr. Michael Collins was also referred to; and it was stated that when our President was arrested and released there was a reward of ten thousand pounds offered by the British Government for the corpse of Michael Collins.
I wonder how theFreeman's Journal got that information?
Because it is not in accordance with the tale that was being circulated at the time by a very intimate friend of Mr. Michael Collins. He told it to me, and I asked him where he got it, and he said he got it from Mr. Michael Collins himself, and he told him that it was forty thousand pounds.
He was worth it.
Now, Deputy Childers was attacked in the same article, and you know the way he was attacked. It is only fair for me to say now that I know, of my own personal knowledge, that Deputy Childers, amongst other work that he did for Ireland, has done as much as most men, and more than nearly all men who are working for Ireland, to arm the people of Ireland. I will turn now to what was said—some of the nice things that the Deputy for Tyrone, Seán Milroy, said —about the Minister for Defence; he said, amongst other things, that the Minister for Defence did not want peace. Now, I don't like to refer to anything that was said by a member of this House as being nonsense; but I ask you this: does any man contemplate with equanimity a renewal of the conditions in this country in which his wife will be dragged in the dead of the night out of her house, hustled along through the garden, and put into a motor lorry, and kept there in order that she will not be present while her husband is being murdered if the English cut-throats can get him? Does any man look forward with pleasure to having his little children frightened out of their lives by the spectacle of armed men rushing in and running through the house, some of them breaking their way down through the ceilings? But apparently the Minister of Defence does not want peace, but prefers that kind of thing. I am against this resolution because I know this Treaty can't achieve peace. You know how those who are opposed to it, how keenly they feel the thing, and how much they are against it; but some of the best men on the other side, the men who count, some of the fighting men, have said that the reason that they are in favour of it is that they will be able to get in arms. Deputy J.J. Walsh told us the other day—and he is in favour of this Treaty— that if he got a rifle and ammunition each time he would take this oath that he would keep on taking it.
Hear, hear; I would.
And what is Deputy J.J. Walsh going to do with the rifle?
What I did before. I said I would take indefinite oaths for indefinite rifles and ammunition. I stand over what I said.
Yes; and this gentleman is in favour of the Treaty. Now, we are told that this Treaty, if passed, is going to achieve peace. Well, when people who are in favour of the Treaty are going to get rifles, and take oaths to get rifles, and going to make use of them, we will say that we have little to say against this Treaty but to answer where will the peace come in? And it is because I know that you are not going to have peace that I am against the Treaty. Now, another statement made by this gentleman, the Deputy from Tyrone; he said he was taking off the gloves; he said that he had let the cat out of the bag when he made reference to the oath. Now, it is in keeping with some of the tactics referred to by our President yesterday that this use should be made of an alleged oath, a second oath. Mr. Deputy Milroy could only have heard about the discussion on that oath from some member of the Cabinet, because there was absolutely no note taken of it, because there was no decision come to on that oath. Our friends on the opposite side now know that since the start of these negotiations on all vital matters we found it necessary to have unanimity in the Cabinet; and when we found we could not have unanimity the particular matter was dropped. Now, this oath question came up before us and it was clear from what was said that we could not have unanimity on it. Therefore, so far as the Cabinet was concerned, it was dropped; and the President, so far as my recollection went, said something to the effect that, if nothing else was between us, he would be in favour of taking a certain oath and he spoke out some words. However, that was only his own personal opinion; so far as the Cabinet were concerned there could not be unanimity; and it was dropped. The ungloved orator from Tyrone said he let the cat out of the bag when he made reference to the oath.
The oath is on the Cabinet minutes.
There are no records.
There is such an oath on the Cabinet records.
There was no such oath agreed to by the Cabinet; and anybody who knows anything about it knows that. This Deputy from Tyrone made another very personal remark to which I will not refer here as it is beneath contempt; consequently I will take no further notice of it. I will now turn to the Deputy from Offaly; he told us that the Republic was betrayed; he said it was betrayed when we decided to send delegates to England; nevertheless this delegate was present at the meeting of the Dáil at which this decision was come to and he sat silently by and he allowed us to betray the Republic. Of course you all know, everybody with the exception of this Deputy, that by sending delegates across to London the Republic was not betrayed. This Deputy also said that the Republic was dead. Well, I tell him that if it depended upon faint hearts to keep it alive it would have died long ago, and if it depended upon faint hearts to bring it into existence it would never have been born. He tells us he will not vote for it or against it; that's a nice position for a man who has taken upon himself a certain responsibility— that's a nice position for him to adopt. Now, this Deputy and another Deputy, the Assistant Minister for Local Government, both took it upon themselves to speak for the army—as to the condition it was in and what would happen. They are both men of military age, and when they make a closer acquaintanceship with the army by joining its ranks, and putting themselves into the position of fighting, they may earn the respect of military men; and if their merits ever raise them to the position in which they would be entitled to speak for the army, I hope they will have learned sufficient sense then to keep silent about army matters when it is not necessary to refer to them. We come now to the jocular gentleman who represents Kilkenny; were I in the vein I might follow his jokes. However, I am not in that mood; but I suggest to him that this is too serious a matter to be dealt with by flippancy and levity. Now, the Deputy for South Kerry, Fionán O Loingsigh, stated here that he spoke for the people of South Kerry.
And I still maintain it.
There was an interjection from the body of the House telling him "No!" and he answered: "Yes, a minority of one." I had in my pocket at the time, only I did not wish to interrupt him—just the same as on the contrary he has again now tried to interrupt me—I had in my pocket——
If you use personalities you will be interrupted.
I had in my pocket a document signed by people who are entitled to speak for the young men, the fighting men, the men who count and who are ready to make sacrifices in his constituency, and that is the Brigáde Commandant in his area—the two Brigade Commandants that cover the area in which his constituency is in. In this they say very respectfully to the Government that they are absolutely against the Treaty. Since Deputy Lynch has made that statement he has been repudiated in the papers.
I will come now to the distinguished Chairman of the Delegation; and I don't refer to him sarcastically as the distinguished Chairman of the Delegation, for I, as much as anyone in this House, appreciate the political sagacity and patriotism of the Chairman of the Delegation; and I considered he was an acquisition, too, when those who were called the physical force movement joined with him four years ago. I considered it was an acquisition to have such a man with us. Now, he has said he has been a student of Thomas Davis all his life. So was I; but I take different lessons from the teaching of Davis; and I must remind him that when Davis wrote it was for an Ireland enslaved and demoralised after forty years of the Union; but, anyway, those of you who saw the first edition of the new paper, theRepublic of Ireland, saw the quotation in it from Davis in which he says: “in a just cause a nation is justified in going to war.” Now, I will defy the Chairman of the Delegation to point out to me in any readings of Thomas Davis where he advocated the sacrifice of principle in favour of expediency. In the Secret Session, in some interchanges that there were between Arthur Griffith and myself, he asked me to repeat at the Public Session the answer that I gave to him at a Cabinet meeting that was held on the Saturday before the plenipotentiaries went away to England for the last time; and he told us at that Cabinet meeting that he would not break on the Crown. There were some rather heated passages between us and he put the question to me: Could I, or could we, could I with the army which we had here in Ireland, drive the English forces out—I am not exactly certain if he added something about the navy. I answered that I could not undertake to do anything of the kind; I did not think it was necessary; and I do not think it is necessary for us to be able to beat all the resources in the shape of an army that England can put into Ireland in order to maintain our independence. We maintained it when we had not an army at all; it is not necessary. Now, Mr. Griffith has referred to the difference between this Treaty of his and the alternative that we have as being only a quibble; and yet the English Government is going to make war, as they say they will, for a quibble. The difference is, to me, the difference that there is between a draught of water and a draught of poison. If I were to accept this Treaty and if I did not do my best to have it defeated I would, in my view, be committing national suicide; I would be breaking the national tradition that has been handed down to us through the centuries. We would be doing for the first time a thing that no generation ever thought of doing before—wilfully, voluntarily admitting ourselves to be British subjects, and taking the oath of allegiance voluntarily to the English King. Now, I hope it is admitted by everybody in favour of this Treaty that that oath constitutes an Oath of Allegiance to the English King (“No! no!”). Well, then, it is not admitted (“No! no!”). Well, I will prove that it is; it has been proved before and I thought that was sufficient.
It was not proved.
You swear to bear true allegiance to the Constitution of the Free State of Ireland as by law established; that is, in itself, if there was not a word about the King to follow, and there is—that, in itself, would be an Oath of Allegiance to the English King, because he would be the head of that Constitution. Agus tá sé sin maith a dhóthain. Now, the third objectionable feature, the fundamental thing, even if there was no question of becoming British subjects and taking the Oath of Allegiance, this third objection would be so fundamental that I say it would be equivalent to my taking poison if I accepted it: that was allowing the British to say to us, "We will not allow you to carry out your coastal defence, you will not have permission to do so until we are satisfied, we must first agree to it." That is putting us in a humiliating position. Now, no matter what happens we would not agree to the Treaty in which these three fundamentals are included. There has been a body of opinion in this country, as I had occasion to write a week ago in Irish, that has always repudiated English authority in this country. Each generation had that body of opinion in it, and whenever they found themselves strong enough they went out in insurrection against England and English authority here. The last one, as you know, was in 1916 when we established our Republic; it was ratified in January, 1919, and we have carried on our functions with ade jure and de facto Government since; and here, when we are in so strong a position and we so strong and England so weak and with so many enemies as she has now more than ever, we are asked to do such a thing as this. Why, if instead of being so strong, our last cartridge had been fired, our last shilling had been spent, and our last man were lying on the ground and his enemies howling round him and their bayonets raised, ready to plunge them into his body, that man should say—true to the traditions handed down—if they said to him: “Now, will you come into our Empire?”—he should say, and he would say: “No! I will not.” That is the spirit that has lasted all through the centuries, and you people in favour of the Treaty know that the British Government and the British Empire will have gone down before that spirit dies out in Ireland. Now, how are we going to reconcile an agreement between the people who have that spirit in them and those who are in favour of the Treaty. We have in this alternative of ours the means of doing this. Now, seeing that some people are in doubt as to what our alternative is, especially one man for whom I have great respect—though, unfortunately, he made an error in a statement he made in his speech—who said our alternative had not been treated fairly and that he did not understand it—that is, Deputy Mulcahy—I presume that those in favour of the Treaty have no objection to my explaining briefly what our alternative means. We are prepared to enter into an agreement, an association with the British Commonwealth of Nations as it is generally called, on the same or similar lines as that on which one business firm enters into combination with another or several others. The thing is not uncommon now; such combinations are made for certain specific purposes; the combination appoints a managing-director to carry out the business of the firm, but it is only for a specific purpose; each firm remains independent except for this one particular business. Say the purpose would be to do foreign trade; each firm would carry on, independently, its own internal trade; and the combination would, under this managing-director, carry out its purpose for foreign trade; each firm would give a stipend to the managing-director. Now, by entering into combination no firm sacrifices its independence as a firm. We are prepared, on the same terms, to enter into an association with the British Commonwealth of Nations, and for the purposes of that combination we are prepared to recognise the English Government as the head of the combination (cries of “Oh!”).
Now, by entering into such arrangements we are not going into the British Empire; neither do we take any oath whatsoever; and there will be no representative of the British Crown in the shape of a Governor-General in Ireland. We are entering into that arrangement, into this association as external associates. Now, what does that mean?
Tá go maith Ní thuigean tú anois é do réir dheallramh. Míneochad duit é. Now, instead of becoming British subjects or British citizens we will have reciprocal citizenship, that is, an Irish citizen or British subject will have the support of this group in any part of the world where he may find himself where he will require help. He will have the power of the new group behind him.
Reciprocal citizenship. Apparently the Chairman of the Delegation does not understand the difference between common citizenship and reciprocal citizenship. Common citizenship will mean that we are British subjects, and reciprocal citizenship will mean that we will remain Irish Republicans. There is no letting down the Irish Republic there, and I defy the Chairman of the Delegation, when he is speaking after me, or anybody else after him, on any platform in Ireland, to prove that we have deviated by one hair's breadth from the Republican position by making such a proposal. Now, one of the greatest fears that the British Government have from the Irish people is, that at any time they would be in a position, were England at war, to interfere with the food supplies of the population of Great Britain; they must safeguard the food supplies of forty millions of people; we appreciate that fear, and we realise how necessary it is for them to safeguard the food supplies of the English people. Consequently, we are prepared to agree not to build submarines unless in agreement with the British Government; the only use that submarines would be to us would be to attack English transports or food ships if England were at war; they would not be of very much use to us. Now, we are willing to give England that safeguard that we will not attack her foodships, and that we will not put ourselves in the position to do so. We are prepared to give her certain facilities in our ports for a period of five years; and at that time, or any other time, that we here consider that we are in a position to carry out our own coastal defence, then we take it over; but for five years we give her certain facilities in our ports. Those are fundamentals. There are other details which appear in our proposals, but it is not necessary for me now to go into them. The things that really matter are the fundamentals; upon these fundamentals we can make a free peace with England. Now, why can we not be unanimous in this matter. So far as I can see, at the start when this document was signed there was only one man really in favour of it and that was the Chairman of the Delegation; there might have been a couple of others favouring it, but the man who really wanted it was the Chairman. Our President yesterday narrated to you a little modern history; I will supplement what he said; and I might say that when he spoke before—early in this Session—before Christmas, he stated that if Arthur Griffith had told the electors of East Cavan that he was not going to stand by the principles that were enunciated by the speakers at that election, that he would not have been elected. I tell Mr. Griffith that only for a certain arrangement that he made in 1917, that he would not be now in public life any more than he was in 1916. I have here the Sinn Féin Constitution as passed by the Ard-Fheis held in October, 1917; there is a clause in this resolution which took us three nights to get passed—to get Mr. Griffith to agree to it—this is the Clause: "Sinn Féin aims at securing the international recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish Republic." Mr. Griffith objected to that, but eventually we came to an agreement by adding this: "Having achieved that status the Irish people may by referendum freely choose their own form of Government." These are the vital clauses in the Constitution of the Sinn Féin movement. In that Constitution we forged the weapon by which we produced the Dáil. If Mr. Griffith had not agreed to that, and it took him three nights before he would agree, I say he would not be in public life to-day any more than he was before 1916. Mr. Griffith, in 1916, was in prison for some time; he was released in 1917; we came together some months before that Ard-Fheis—and Mr. Griffith himself, now this is some modern history, will correct me if I make a mistake —Count Plunkett held a conference in 1917 and, as a result of that Conference, there was a Committee brought into being to form a new political party; I was asked to go on that Committee; I had never been in politics before; the work that I had done, so far as I was able to do work for Ireland, was, in addition to my little efforts to revive the language, preparing for Easter Week for years before. Now, I consented to go into this, to go on that Committee that had been selected, with Mr. Griffith. I put the question to him: "Suppose the League of Nations agrees that Ireland should be independent, and that England should say ‘I will not give her her independence,' would you then," said I to Mr. Griffith, "would you then be against our going out and fighting?" And he said: "No! I will not.""Very well, then, we will," said I, "go into it, and the fighting men will go into it, and the men who are prepared to make sacrifices will go into it, too." If he did not give that undertaking, we would have to form Republican Clubs; he gave the undertaking, and then agreed to that Constitution. Now, instead of abiding by that, Mr. Griffith has come back from England with this Treaty; instead of abiding by this which he undertook—we see that instead of the Republic he brings back that Treaty. He tells us now the war is won. The men who are prepared to make sacrifices would never have come into this movement; they would have formed a party of their own. Mr. Griffith's policy was a well-thought out policy, but it would not work; we know what little progress it made until 1916; but for these men who have been with us in every generation that policy would never have succeeded. It was the fact of these men working with their own ideals and on that policy, it was only on that fact that we were able to bring the Dail into existence, and function as a Government; though not recognised it is,de facto and de jure, the Government; it is that up to now and, please God, it will remain so. Now, why can we not regain the position that we held prior to the signing of the Treaty? It can be done if Mr. Griffith, for one, will consent to it—I may tell you that. A lot of you Teachtaí, already know that I was against ever sending men across to England; not that I considered that we were giving the Republic away by doing so, but that I knew the terrible influences that would be brought to bear upon them there—influences that I thought might be too much for them— but I hoped, especially when there were certain instructions drawn up, that the influences would not be too strong to get the better of them, and that they would abide by those instructions that were drawn up for them and to which they consented before they went. I, at any rate, was against these negotiations because I considered they were part of a manœuvre on the part of Lloyd George to get the better of us; Mr. Lloyd George, in the autumn of 1920, told us at Carnarvon, and told the world, that he had murder by the throat in Ireland; and he told us what he was going to do with us. He had no sooner made that declaration than his Black-and-Tanism and militarism started here in the country; it was not long after when he had Balbriggan sacked, the people taken out of their houses and murdered; the revered pastor of that parish in a public statement said that the two men who were murdered presented the appearance of people who had been done to death by wild animals instead of human beings. This campaign of terrorism went on round the country; there is no necessity for me to go into details; one of the worst—worse even than Balbriggan— was the massacre at Kerry Pike, outside Cork, in which six men who had surrendered were done to death; during the inquest the bodies of some of them had to be kept covered so that the way that they were mutilated would not be exhibited; these men were under torture before they were killed for two or three hours. In spite of all that terrorism Lloyd George could not beat the Irish nation, and when he found he could not do so, he resorted to wiles and manœuvres; he came along with the suggestion of negotiations. Now, we agreed to send our delegates. As I have said, and as has been said already here on a few occasions, certain instructions were drawn up to which they agreed, one of which was that they were not to come to any decision without notifying us here the remainder of the Cabinet at home here—and waiting for the answer from us; another was that they were not to sign any Treaty without first submitting it to us. You know how these instructions have been carried out. I may tell you that when the negotiations were about a month in progress some of us became very suspicious when we saw what was going on; we found that the five men, the five delegates, the team of five that we had selected, was being divided up; that two members of it, and two only, were being brought into what they called a sub-plenary conference. For more than a month before the signing of this Treaty there was, I think, something between fifteen and twenty sub-conferences. Our team of five men was divided up and only two consulted when important things, the vital things were discussed; there was not even a secretary allowed to be present. Some of us became suspicious; I did; I became very suspicious and I drew attention to this. I was told that there were certain instructions given to them, and surely there was no use in causing friction by supposing that they would not abide by those instructions; consequently I was satisfied. Now, they came back on that fateful Saturday. When Mr. Griffith told us that he would not break on the Crown I made what he might consider some rather heated remarks; I asked how it was that our team of five had been divided up? Who was responsible for it? His answer was—the British Government; the British Government had divided up our team. I asked him who was it that selected the two particular members— the two particular members were Mr. Griffith himself and Mr. Michael Collins —who was it that selected them? What was his answer? The British Government. I then made an answer which he insisted should be put down on the minutes, and I said: “Yes, the British Government selected their men.” In saying that I did not mean to cast any reflection on the honour of those men; but before these men were selected at all I told them—at the Cabinet meeting at which their names were suggested to be put before the Dáil—I told them what I thought of their ideals of freedom from the utterances that I had heard from them; and I said at this Cabinet meeting on that fateful Saturday: “Yes, they selected their men.” My meaning was this: because they knew they were the two weakest men we had on the team; and Lloyd George and his friends pretty soon discovered that; and that is how they came to select them out of the five; and they allowed the British Government to divide them up and select their own men to carry on an important Conference with them. They had the thing, apparently, settled with these men and they knew what they would agree to; and until the last hour they did not call in the other two men; when they intimidated—on the admission of the other two—the other two men into it. As far as the third man is concerned I will make no reference to him whatsoever; I prefer not—charity above all things. In any case you see the result—you see the result of this manœuvre. Negotiations were suggested after terrorism had failed; they find out who are the weakest and they select them to carry on important negotiations; and they intimidate the other two, and then there is this Treaty. No wonder there was jubilation in London when it was signed, and congratulations from the English King to Lloyd George. This was the end of the fight, and Ireland, at least so far as these men could help it, anyway, had consented to go into the British Empire. Now, I hope that you members of the Dáil will see through this manœuvre of Lloyd George, and that you will not consent to be a party to it. I put it up now to the five men, the five members of this Delegation, that they are not to vote at all for this Treaty. They gave a certain undertaking to Lloyd George and his friends when they signed that they would recommend; that undertaking went no further, and in honour they need not go any further; and this is such a vital matter that I think it should not be necessary for them to go out of their way by voting for it. I put it up to them that they should leave it to the Dáil— that they should not vote for it; and I put it up to you, members of the Dáil, that you ought not to allow yourselves to fall into the trap that was laid for Ireland by Lloyd George, and that you should not fall into it. Finally, I put it up to Mr. Arthur Griffith to fall in with this course; and I tell Mr. Arthur Griffith that when in 1917, at the Ard-Fheis, he stepped down in favour of Eamonn de Valera as President of the Sinn Féin Organisation of which he had been head since its inception—certainly for years— I tell Mr. Griffith that when he did that, he earned the respect of men to whom his name, prior to that, was no more than the name of any other man. However, when he did that, and since that, these men have respect for Arthur Griffith second only to Eamon de Valera. If Arthur Griffith will fall in with this suggestion now I tell him—and I need not take upon myself to be a prophet to foretell it—I tell him if he does this his name will live for ever in Ireland (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle, I crave your leave to make just one personal reference. It has been suggested by the Minister for Defence that I, in my statement, said I was responsible for a certain ambush. I did not say that, sir; I said I took responsibility for a certain incident; I took that responsibility as a member of the Government.
The House adjourned for tea at 6.25 p.m., and resumed at 7.15 p.m., with the SPEAKER (DR. MACNEILL) in the Chair.
With your permission I wish to raise one small point; the front public bench was reserved for the members of the Standing Committee of Sinn Féin; a member of the Standing Committee who came in and took his seat there a while ago was ejected to make room for a person who is not a member of the Standing Committee; and the member, the gentleman who was ejected from his seat, has left his seat under protest. I think the seat should be vacated and he should be invited in.
Give instructions to the officer in charge of the door.
Call in Mr. Little.
Immediately following my speech to-day my colleague, Mr. MacGrath, thought fit to bring a personal conversation into the debate; and in order to clear my record I will take this opportunity to state that I was the servant of this Government, representing it in America, and when I was recalled to Ireland on the peace discussion I was informed by the President that the very minimum would be external association. I was instructed to go back to America with this definite objective in view; and I made whatever provision was possible, so that in the event of Ireland's minimum being accepted we would have no trouble from our friends in America. Now, with that in view, on the Tuesday night on which the Treaty was signed in London I stepped off the train at Washington, and when I read that the Treaty had been signed I understood that the men who went to negotiate for Ireland had followed out the instructions of their Cabinet, and that the minimum had been achieved. I thereupon issued a statement in which I said that Ireland had come within the comity of nations. On the following morning, Wednesday morning, the Treaty ap-appeared in the American Press; and when I read the terms of the Treaty I was opposed to it. On the following Thursday night Mr. Stephen O'Mara, the fiscal agent to this Government, and myself attended a meeting in Washington where invitations had been sent out to wealthy Americans inviting them to subscribe to a million dollar Bond Drive for the Republic; and the men turned up, and we cancelled the Bond Drive, and they turned the meeting into a meeting of rejoicings. Senators were present and they sang hallelujahs; and I, myself, spoke against that Treaty. On the following morning my speech was reported in theManchester Guardian because their representative in America was among the invited guests; that was on record five hours before President de Valera came out against the Treaty. Apart from the propriety of introducing a private conversation I find it necessary to make a personal explanation; I certainly hope we won't reproduce any more private conversations.
You cannot stand them, Harry, you stood for the Treaty first. ("Order, order.")
No! and you know it, Michael (laughter).
I cannot accept the invitation of the Minister of Defence to dishonour my signature and become immortalised in Irish history. I have signed this Treaty; and the man or nation that dishonours its signature is dishonoured for ever; no man who signed that Treaty can dishonour his signature without dishonouring himself and the nation (applause). As to what the Minister of Defence said about myself I have nothing to say; it may be that I was unknown in public life before 1916; and it may be that I am only known in public life since through the Minister of Defence. That is not a matter I am interested in. There is one thing I want to say; a suggestion was made that my colleagues and myself are going to be immortalised if I take a certain course—to dishonour my signature and the nation. It was said that I was a weak man in the negotiations in London, and that I and that my colleague and friend, Michael Collins, held back our conversations with the English Ministers and gave something away. We were asked why we went to see these Ministers without the full body of the plenipotentiaries? For the same reason that President de Valera met Lloyd George alone when he went to London; and because there are certian things that are better discussed by two or three men than by eighteen men; and we both agreed on that. One other reference will I make to what the Minister of Defence has said; he spoke of Michael Collins; he referred to what I said about Michael Collins —that he was the man who won the war. I said it, and I say it again; he was the man that made the situation; he was the man, and nobody knows better than I do how, during a year and a half he worked from six in the morning until two next morning. He was the man whose matchless energy, whose indomitable will carried Ireland through the terrible crisis (applause); and though I have not now, and never had, an ambition about either political affairs or history, if my name is to go down in history I want it associated with the name of Michael Collins (applause). Michael Collins was the man who fought the Black-and-Tan terror for twelve months, until England was forced to offer terms (cheers). That is all I have to say on that subject. Now, we have been in London as plenipotentiaries, and when we were going across it was stated to us that there might be scape-goats, and I said I was prepared to be a scapegoat if one per cent. more could be got for the Irish nation. We came back. We thought, at all events, we had done something that was very good for the Irish nation. We were indicted here from the day we came back; we were told that we let down the Republic; and the Irish people were led to believe that we had gone there with a mandate to get a Republic and nothing but a Republic, and that we had violated that mandate. Sir, before I went to London I said at a Cabinet meeting—when every member of the Cabinet was there—that: "If I go to London I can't get a Republic; I will try for a Republic, but I can't bring it back." And we tried for a Republic, though I knew we could not get it. One Deputy here said yesterday that we were guilty of treason against the Republic. Well, if we were guilty of treason against the Republic let us be tried for treason. I, at all events, have nothing on my conscience; what I did, I did for the best interests of Ireland; I believed I was doing right; I believe now I did right, and I would do the same thing again (cheers). Now, we have been told, and we were told after we came back, that we were in violent conflict with what the Irish people had expressed in the three elections; very well. The documents and letters that passed between our President and the Premier of England are all before the public; in which one of them was a demand made for the recognition of the Irish Republic as a condition before we went to London? If we were to get a Republic, and nothing but a Republic, the thing could have been dismissed in six lines by writing to the Premier of England and telling him that we would meet him on the condition that he recognised the Republic. We were sent to make some compromise, bargain or arrangement; we made an arrangement; the arrangement we made is not satisfactory to many people. Let them criticise on that point, but do not let them say that we were sent to get one thing and that we got something else. We got a different type of arrangement from that which many wished; but when they charge us or insinuate that we went there with a mandate to demand a Republic, and nothing but a Republic, then they are maligning us; if we got that mandate we would have finished up in five minutes in Downing Street. Now, after the General Election, at a meeting of the Dáil in August last, President de Valera made a speech which covered the ground on which we went there; he said, speaking on the General Election: "I don't take it that the answer was for a form of Republican Government as such, because we are not Republican doctrinaires as such; but it was for Irish freedom and Irish independence." (Hear, hear). We went there to London, not as Republican doctrinaires, but looking for the substance of freedom and independence. If you think what we brought back is not the substance of independence that is a legitimate ground for attack upon us, but to attack us on the ground that we went there to get a Republic is to attack us on false and lying grounds; and some of those who criticise on that ground know perfectly well the conditions under which we went. "We are ready," said President de Valera—"We are ready," he said—"to leave the whole question between Ireland and England to external arbitration." What did that mean? Need I comment on it? Is that saying you will have a Republic and nothing but a Republic. Is not that that America or any other country might decide between us whether we would have a Republic or not?
In another letter he said: "We have no conditions to impose, no claim to advance but one—that we are to be free from aggression" I hold that what we brought back from England frees us from agression. It gives us the power to mould our own life, and it frees us from the only permanent form of aggression we can have—the occupation of Ireland by the army of another country. I have listened here for days to discussions on the oath. If you are going to have a form of association with the British Empire, call it what you will, you must have an oath; and such an oath was suggested and put before us and not rejected, and put before the plenipotentiaries when going back to London. The difference between these two oaths is the difference in the terms. I am not going to speak in terms of theology or terms of law about them; we have had quite a considerable discussion on that point; but what I am going to speak about is this: that in this assembly there are men who have taken oath after oath to the King of England; and I noticed that these men applauded loudly when insulting or slighting references were made to the young soldiers here on account of the oath. If a man considers an oath such a momentous thing, what did these gentlemen who took the oath to the King of England— what, I ask, has become of their oath at the present time? I have an arrangement of oaths here, seven different oaths taken by different members of this assembly to the King of England. These were the gentlemen who unsheathed their swords against the liberties of the people —these gentlemen sat on English benches —all of whom are going to vote against this Treaty because they will not take the oath. Ah! this hypocrisy that is going to involve the lives of gallant and brave men is damnable—the hypocrisy of the men who hung their flags out when the King of England came to Ireland, the men who received him, the men who fought in his army, the men who sat on his benches, the men who try to cut down the brave young men of Ireland—this is damnable hypocrisy. When we came back with this Treaty that has been called by many names—we have heard a selection of adjectives for that Treaty that have not been parallelled since the days of Biddy Moriarity (laughter)—when we came back with that Treaty there was, at least, one thing that might have been done. Our colleagues in the Dáil who disagreed with us might have met and discussed that Treaty on its merits. The President and myself made an appeal that no personalities be indulged in. I have been sitting here for days, and the more I sat here the more I wondered at the smallness of my imagination that I had never been able to realise the heights of my own villainy (laughter). Well, that Treaty could have been discussed on its merits; it could have been dealt with without any reference as to whether the men who brought it were honourable or dishonourable men—call us what you like. You say we are dishonourable men; this does not affect the fact of the Treaty which has been discussed on the basis of the failure, at least, of the plenipotentiaries, and not discussed on what was in it. It has been discussed in the way that Carlyle once described—and I have thought of this many times while listening to the criticism of the Treaty—he describes the fly that crawled along the front of the Cologne Cathedral and communicated to all the other flies what a horribly rough surface it was, because the fly was unable to see the edifice. Now, as to that Treaty, an effort has been made to put us in the position of saying that this Treaty is an ideal thing; an effort has been made to put us into a false position. That Treaty is not an ideal thing; it has faults. I could draw up a Treaty— any of us could draw up a Treaty which would be more satisfactory to the Irish people; we could "call spirits from the vasty deep," but will they come when you call them? We have a Treaty signed by the heads of the British Government; we have nothing signed against it. I could draw up a much better Treaty myself, one that would suit myself; but it is not going to be passed. We are, therefore, face to face with a practical situation. Does this Treaty give away the interests and the honour of Ireland? I say it does not. I say it serves the interests of Ireland; it is not dishonourable to Ireland. It is not an ideal thing; it could be better. It has no more finality than that we are the final generation on the face of the earth (applause). No man is going, as was quoted here—I have used it all my life—"no man can set bounds to the march of a nation." But we here can accept that Treaty, and deal with it in good faith with the English people, and through the files of events reach, if we desire it, any further status that we desire or require after. Who is going to say what the world is to be like in ten years hence? We can make peace on the basis of that Treaty; it does not for ever bind us not to ask for any more. England is going beyond where she is at present; all nations are going beyond where they are at present; and in the meantime we can move on in comfort and peace to the ultimate goal. This Treaty gives the Irish people what they have not had for centuries; it gives them a foothold in their own country; it gives them solid ground on which to stand; and Ireland has been a quaking bog for three hundred years, where there was no foothold for the Irish people. Well, reject this Treaty; throw Ireland back into what she was before this Treaty came—I am not a prophet, though I have listened to many prophets here, and I can't argue with prophets; but I know where Ireland was twenty or thirty years ago, I know where Ireland was when there was only a few dozen of us up in Dublin trying to keep the national ideal alive, not trying to keep it alive, because the Irish people never deserted it, but a few of us who had faith in our people and faith in our country, stood by her—you are going to throw Ireland back to that; to dishearten the men who made the fight, and to let back into Irish politics the timeservers and men who let down Ireland before and who will, through their weakness, if not through dishonesty, let down Ireland again. You can take this Treaty and make it the basis of an Irish Ireland. You can reject this Treaty and you can throw Ireland back into where she was years ago, into where she was before —well I do not like to speak about the dead—before the sacrifice that the dead men have made raised her up; the men who died for the last four or five years made this Treaty possible; without them it could not have been done. You are going to give away the fruits of their sacrifices, and to condemn the other young men of Ireland to go out on a fruitless struggle. Certain disclosures have been made here about what happened at Cabinet meetings; well, there was a certain Cabinet meeting at which I asked a question as to what the alternative was as nobody held that we could, by military forces, drive the English out of Ireland—I would not refer to this except that it was already referred to this evening, and part of the conversation was reported—and I was told: "No! This generation might go down, but the next generation might do something or other." Is there to be no living Irish nation? Is the Irish nation to be the dead past or the prophetic future? Have we any duty to the present generation? I say we have. I say it is the task of political leadership, and statesmanship, or whatever you like to call it, to adopt the weapons and circumstances of this time to achieve the best possible result for the country while keeping the honour of the country safe; and I say if leadership does not devote itself to that task it is not leadership. We have a duty to our country, and our country are the living people of Ireland; we have a duty to our people; we have a duty at least, so far as our judgment goes, not to lead them astray, not to tell them something will happen "if you do this"—when you know they cannot do it—in order to save our faces at the expense of our countrymen's blood (hear, hear). I have preached this Sinn Féin doctrine in years past; at that time the leadership of Ireland was in the hands of the Parliamentary Party; I felt the doctrine I preached was the right one; but I felt also a duty to the nation in that if anything could be got through these leaders I thought it was not my right to obstruct the way. In 1912, when the late Home Rule Act came in, I had a certain support in the country; I could have embarrassed Mr. Redmond if I wished; but I could not have effected any good for the country by so doing, because the country was overwhelmingly against us; and I said to my colleagues in Sinn Féin: "The country has declared for that thing; it is not what we want; but we have no right to stand in the way of the country when we are not able to get them better." We of Sinn Féin stood down; and we tried to help Mr. Redmond to get his Home Rule measure. He got it. It was not our duty to obstruct. If he and his party failed to get it they failed to get it, and the failure did not lie with us. I say to-day that any man or body of men that obstructs what the nation wishes, or what the nation desires, no matter though they might think themselves right, no matter though they were right, are culpable against the nation unless they can show as quick and as good as way. I can see no better way than this Treaty; no better way for the Irish people. If the Irish people are to have an alternative let the alternative be put down straight before them. Now, many questions were raised, many questions were asked me or referred to me; one by Madame Markievicz, who was perturbed over the letter I wrote about the Southern Unionists; she drew from that letter the idea that I was going to treat them as a privileged class; she wanted to know why I met these men. I met them because they are my countrymen (applause); and because, if we are to have an Irish nation, we want to start with fair play for all sections and with understandings between all sections (applause). I would meet to-morrow on that basis the Ulster Unionists, to seek to get them to join in the Irish nation (hear, hear). I met these gentlemen and I promised them fair play; and so far as I am concerned they will have fair play (applause). I met them in the same spirit that the President met them, when he invited them to meet him at the Mansion House, because they are members of the Irish nation, and their lives and fortunes are as much at stake in the settlement of the Irish question as are our own and those of the people who are supporting us. If we are to start as an Irish nation we want to start on these lines, obliterating all that kept us apart before. We are to have different parties in the Irish nation; we do not want these parties ranged on the lines of pro-English versus pro-Irishism; we want them ranged on national lines, and the person who thinks that you can make an Irish nation, and make it successfully function, with eight hundred thousand of our countrymen in the North up against us, and four hundred thousand of our countrymen here in the South opposed to us, is living in a Fool's Paradise. You want every Irishman in this Irish nation; you want all of them, and the way we are going to get them is to ensure them that they are to have absolute justice and absolute fair play in the Irish nation (applause). Now, I might go into many things. I do not wish to go into things that would arouse any personal contention; I will merely go into certain statements about another document, Document 2—the Minister of Defence gave a description of another alternative doctrine—well, all I can say is: these proposals, so far as they differ from what we signed, were put up by us —they did not emanate from us—we put them forward and they were turned down; we put them up again and they were turned down absolutely. The alternative proposal was simply to put up a third time what had been turned down twice. But it appears that from these alternative proposals some extraordinary measure of greater freedom accrues to Ireland than from the Treaty; that Ireland, somehow, is not to connect with the British Commonwealth of Nations; that Ireland is outside it; that it is not a question of Dominion status. Well, here they are: "That for purposes of common concern Ireland shall be associated with the States of the British Commonwealth, viz., the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa." If that is not a claim for Dominion status I do not know what the meaning of words is. Here is the next paragraph: "The rights, status and privileges of Ireland shall be in no respect less than those enjoyed by the component States of the British Commonwealth." The next paragraph says: "That the matters of common concern shall include defence, peace and war, political treaties, and all matters now treated as of common concern amongst the States of the British Commonwealth and that in these matters there shall be between Ireland and the States of the British Commonwealth such concerted action founded on consultation as the several Governments may determine." We are outside the British Empire according to this explanation in this document, but we happen to be inside it for peace, war, defence, treaties, and for all vital concerns. Again: "That in virtue of this Association of Ireland with the States of the British Commonwealth, citizens of Ireland in any of these States shall not be subject to any disabilities which a citizen of one of the component States of the British Commonwealth would not be subject to and reciprocally for citizens of these States in Ireland." I have heard about common citizenship; what is that? Reciprocal rights? Is that over a change of words? And then we have this: "That for purposes of the association Ireland shall recognise. His Britannic Majesty as head of the association."
Why did Lloyd George turn it down?
It is not allegiance.
Is that a Republic or is it not? I say it is not a Republic. Is that allegiance or is it not?
That's a Constitutional Republic (laughter).
That's a Republic.
There is a little item left out of that which we were empowered to put up in London—an annual payment to the King of England. The Irish people have been told that we let down the Republic; and that that document is a Republic. I say that is not a Republic. You said you were elected for a Republic; were you elected for that document? Well, that document is the question between us and our colleagues on the opposite side. Now, whatever the difference is between us this thing is too grave for the Irish people to have them befogged by words. If they are going to be asked to go out and put their lives and fortunes in danger; and lose their lives; and again go through what they have already gone through; let them know that what they are going out for is the recognition of His Britannic Majesty—for a payment to His Britannic Majesty—and for association.
There is no oath.
The document is there. It is on the Cabinet records. (Cries of "No! no!") No! you kept it out of that record—out of that document.
I have been prevented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs bringing forward my amendment. The people in this assembly do not understand what is contained in the Treaty. We have got no opportunity.
If the people in this assembly do not understand what is in the document they are not fit to be representatives of the people of Ireland (applause). Now, the Irish people are going to know, so far as I am concerned, what is the difference. I belong to the Irish people; I have worked for them because they are flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone (cheers); I have never deceived them, at all events, whatever I have done; I may have misled them or given them bad advice; but I have never concealed from them anything that is vital to their interests. It is vital for them to know what we are up against and not to be misled and not to believe that we, plenipotentiaries, went away with a mandate for the Republic and came back with something else. I have heard in this assembly statements about the people of Ireland. The people of Ireland sent us here—we have no right and no authority except what we derive from the people of Ireland—we are here because the people of Ireland elected us, and our only right to speak is to seek what they want. I am told that the people of Ireland elected us to get a Republic. They elected us in 1918 to get rid of the Parliamentary Party; they elected us in 1921 as a gesture, a proper gesture of defiance to the Black-and-Tans: they elected us, not as doctrinaire Republicans, but as men looking for freedom and independence. When we agreed to enter into negotiations with England with the object of producing a Treaty we were bound, I hold, to respect whatever the Irish people—the people of Ireland —thought of that Treaty. I have heard one Deputy saying here that it does not matter what his constituents say. I tell him it does. If representative government is going to remain on the earth, then a representative must voice the opinion of his constituents; if his conscience will not let him do that he has only one way out and that is to resign and refuse to misrepresent them; but that men who know their constituents want this Treaty should come here and tell us that, by virtue of the vote they derive from these constituents, they are going to vote against this Treaty that is the negation of all democratic right; it is the negation of all freedom. You are doing what Castlereagh and Pitt did in 1800; you are doing what these two men did when they refused to let the Irish Parliament dissolve on the question of the Union, and to allow the people to be consulted. You are trying to reject this Treaty without allowing the Irish people to say whether they want it or not—the people whose lives and fortunes are involved.
You will kill Dáil Eireann when you do that ("No! no!"). You will remove from Dáil Eireann every vestige of moral authority, and they will no longer represent the people of Ireland. It will be a junta dictating to the people of Ireland, and the people of Ireland will deal with it. When our President was in America he honoured the memory of Abraham Lincoln; and Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest men of the last century—he was one of the men who upheld the rights of the people—and Abraham Lincoln's words are words I recommend to you now. When Abraham Lincoln was elected as representative of the American people he said: "If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sagamon"—the constituency he represented—"my constituents, as well those who oppose me as those who support me. While acting as their representative I shall be governed by their will on all such subjects on which I have the means of knowing what that will is" (applause). You know what the will of the Irish people is (cries of "No!" and "Yes!"). There is no man here who would go down to his constituency and stand on a platform before his people and say he is against this Treaty.
I would do it; and will, and so will others.
We are prepared to do it.
They had an opportunity during the recess; I have not read of any of those who stood up now having gone before their constituents.
There was an undertaking we were not to do it.
We were forbidden by an undertaking with Mr. Griffith.
Therefore you did not do it. You may interrupt me as much as you please, but there is no power in the junta to intimdiate me. The people of Ireland are, you know— every one of you—ninety-eight per cent. for this Treaty ("No! no!" and "Yes! yes!"). Now, everyone of you knows that; they have told you to vote for it.
They did not tell me. They told me to vote against it.
Your constituents told you to vote for this Treaty. The Irish people will not be deceived. They know. They have made their voice heard. Some of you will try to muzzle it; but that voice will be heard, and it will pierce through. The most contemptible references I ever heard made to the people of Ireland have been made in this Dáil; I have heard people in this Dáil say that if the people of Ireland had been able in 1921 to accept the Southern Parliament and get rid of Black-and-Tannery they would have done so. Now, I say that is the falsest libel ever uttered on the people of Ireland; the people of Ireland stood, throughout, against that terror, and against the terrorism which would seek to suppress their nation; they will stand again (applause). But they are not going to stand for a fight against what gives them the substance of freedom. If an attempt be made to mislead the Irish people on this question a Deputy here said something about me last night, and about treason. But I tell you the people who commit treason are the people who try to prevent the Irish people, by force or otherwise, from expressing their opinion (hear, hear). Distrust the people, muzzle the people, where then is gone self-determination for the people? Where is gone the platform on which we were elected to this Dáil? (hear, hear). Ah! democracy is, to some minds, very good in theory when democracy fits in with their own ideas; but when democracy bends the reins contrary to their own ideas they get back into a casuistic vein. Now, this country is going to be governed by the Irish people or by the English Government. I am equally opposed to my countrymen being governed by any body of men who flout their wishes and opinions as I am opposed to their being governed by Dublin Castle. We have heard of usurpation. The usurpation that would set itself up against the will of the Irish people is as great a usurpation as Dublin Castle and, so far as I am concerned, my voice and power will be used against that usurpation. You have heard expressions in this Dáil that were rather unfortunate, perhaps. We have representatives in different countries—I happen to be Minister of Foreign Affairs—two of these representatives, immediately this Treaty was signed, started out on their own behalf and made public statements about the Treaty; they did not communicate with me; they thought it right that they should publicly state their views before either the Dáil Cabinet or the Dáil had the power to consider it. They have also represented that the opinion of the world was with them against that Treaty; I say the opinion of the world is that this Treaty constitutes a victory for Ireland; and while I am Minister for Foreign Affairs—perhaps I may not be there much longer—I take the liberty, since these gentlemen took it on themselves to attempt to jump the decision of the Dáil, to read the views of another of our representatives. He may, of course, be dismissed, but he has told me he does not mind; he is a man who has done more for us on the Continent than any other man—Captain MacWhite of the French Army, now representing us in Geneva——
When was he made a Captain? He is a Sergeant-Major in the French Army.
Mr. MacWhite is our representative in Geneva. He wrote me a letter on this subject and he told me I might use it if I wished. In this letter he says: "To refuse to ratify the document which you brought back from London would be to put a millstone on the neck of posterity, and to condemn unborn generations to perpetual slavery and poverty. To pretend that we could again revive the sympathies which were so ardently expressed in favour of the Irish cause during the past few years throughout the whole civilised world is nothing less than a monstrous imposition on the credulity of the Irish people. All the sympathisers which we had in France —and they were legion—look upon the opposition to the Treaty as nothing less than insanity. Those French newspapers which, through thick and thin, fought the battle for Irish freedom believe that in wringing such a Treaty from the powerful British Empire you achieved the inachievable. In Italy our most enthusiastic supporters—and in no other part of the world was there so much popular enthusiasm behind our cause— are of the opinion that we have won a magnificent victory, and there deception will be all the greater if we do not exploit the victory as any sane people should. Amongst our friends in every other country in Europe the same opinion prevails. Only a few days ago I read of a society at Zurich ‘Pro Irelande,' whose object was the advocation of Irish liberties, being dissolved as theraison d'être for its existence had disappeared. Should Ireland, through the fault of her elected representatives, revert to disorder and chaos, then it will be said again—with some foundation this time—that we are unfit for freedom and that we handsomely deserve whatever fate England may reserve for us in the future. The Treaty admits Ireland to membership of the League of Nations. In order to give that document its true international character I do not see any reason why it should not be submitted to the League once Ireland's membership is officially recognised. The Constitution of the League requires that all Treaties entered into by its members or between one of its members and an outsider should be notified to it. Of course England may protest that the Irish Free State did not exist until after the ratification of this Treaty, but once ratified she cannot any longer pretend that is not an international instrument. In future any modification of that document should likewise be submitted to the League and its intervention could be solicited for the regulation of disputes which are not specifically reserved under the articles of the Treaty.” I quote that simply to correct the idea that some of our representatives abroad gave as to the Treaty, that it was their view was held by the European nations. Now, you have heard all that might be said against this Treaty; you have heard even that it is not a Treaty at all. You have been spoken to as if you had a Republican Government functioning all through Ireland, and that you were asked to give up this Government and functioning Republic for this Treaty. You all know here that, instead of governing through Ireland, the most we could do was to hold, and to barely hold, the position we were in. I heard it said in this assembly that we had driven the British Army into the sea: but I walked down O'Connell Street and I saw them there in hundreds afterwards. What is the use of so deceiving ourselves? The British Army into the sea; but I walked country; and the British Army can be got out of this country to-morrow by the ratification of this Treaty; those who vote against it are giving a vote to keep the British Army in Ireland. If you expect that when you reject this Treaty you will drive the British Army out, then you are even more credulous than I believed you to be all the time (laughter). You have got to give the Irish people something substantial if you reject this Treaty; you have got to tell them where you are going to lead them. But you are not leading them anywhere; you have no objective. You have as I was told—as one very prominent man told us—you have been told that this generation is going to die but that the next generation will get something; that is not sanity; that is not politics; that is not statesmanship. Any of those who come and tell the Irish people: “Let this present generation immolate itself and, please God, the next generation will get something,” are not talking in the voice of sanity. This generation in Ireland; and this generation has got the right to live for itself as past generations had the right; and future generations will have the right to live for themselves. We, as I said, have been put into the position of defending this Treaty, of making this Treaty appear as if it were a bigger thing than it is; the attacks on us have been designed to force us into the position of saying that this Treaty is an ideal Treaty. Well, it is not. It is the utmost Ireland can get; and it is a Treaty Ireland can honourably accept; it gives us a way of working up to our fullest development. We speak here—some of us speak here—as if there were no Irish people outside of these doors as if there were no economic questions; as if there were not tens of thousands of unemployed; as if there were not tens of thousands of struggling farmers and of labouring people through the country; as if we could go on indefinitely making this kind of fight against England. I tell you what is going to happen to you if you reject this Treaty. The Irish people are going to sweep you out as incompetent. We have got to deal with the people; we have got to believe that we are not superiors; we have got to remember that they are our flesh and blood; we have got to remember that we are not sitting at a table playing chess with Lloyd George. It is our countrymen and country women whose lives and fortunes we are dealing with. As John Mitchell said: “One Irish peasant's life is as dear and as sacred to us as any other man's life in the country is, be he who he may.” We want to see this country placed on its feet; we want to put the English tax-gatherer out of the country; we want to hold our ports and harbours and commerce; and we want to have the right and power to educate our people as they ought to be educated. We have got all this in the Treaty. Reject the Treaty and what have you got? A few years ago I found, when I saw the misery and degradation and poverty of my country—when I saw her name forgotten in Europe—I found that the cause of all that was the infamous Act of Union. From the day that Act was passed Ireland became a chaos. In the one hundred and twenty years since that was passed we have lost twelve millions of our people; our country has been ravished and ravaged; we have had the emigrant shin and the famine and the prison cell and the scaffold all through that one hundred and twenty years, because you have had the English Army in occupation here; and by your vote are you going to keep the English Army in occupation here, because that is what it means? Are you going to put out the English Army, the English tax-gatherer, the English West Britons; to build yourself up as a nation again and stand as this Treaty gives you power to stand—on equality with the other nations once again—and get your fair name in the world? Or are you going back, without hope of success in this generation at least, to the position in which we were until the heroism and capacity of these young men made England offer terms in July last? That is what you have got to decide; and I say that any man who is going to ask the young men of Ireland to go out again, and fight and suffer as before, has got to tell them where they are going (applause). Here, a few days ago, reference was made to Michael Collins and to the young men who would follow him to hell. Well, I know young men who went through hell with him; and because they went through hell with him you are here this evening; and this assembly would not be here, and we would not be discussing these terms with England, unless the army—unless these young men had gone through hell with Michael Collins. Well, so far as my strength and voice and vote are concerned, I will not let my countrymen be led on a false track; I believe they will be led on a false track if we reject this Treaty; I believe they will be led on a straight track if we accept this Treaty. My colleagues and I have tried to meet the difficulties in the way; we have tried to get a united Dáil. Michael Collins made a suggestion. I regret that suggestion was not adopted; I believe we could have kept united if that suggestion were adopted; and if people had difficulties in their minds over what they considered principles I believe these difficulties could have been solved. I regret that that suggestion was not accepted; I regret it because I believe we could honourably have peace on this.
What is it?
Mr. Collins' suggestion that you had before you recently.
Please read it so that we may all know it.
It was in the Press.
That we should let this Treaty pass and hold the views we had. What would it mean for Ireland?
I do not mind reading it if President de Valera wishes.
I do not want to ask anybody to break any confidence. I simply want to know if a suggestion was made by Mr. Collins, if it was in the Press?
What I thought you wished me to read was the decision the Committee came to the other night.
Anything that should go to the Irish people let it go. Please let us hear the whole thing now. I did everything I did for unity. If there is anything else read it out then, if it is agreeable.
I am not agreeable.
Very well. I am not going to read any document so.
What about Mr. Collins' offer?
It was in the public Press.
Well, I regret, therefore, that we cannot go into that. I regret we are not going to have unity; but there is true unity and false unity. I will not sacrifice the Irish nation on the altar of false unity; I will not agree, in order to preserve the semblance of unity in this Dáil, that we should flout the people of this country; I will not agree that the people of Ireland should be sacrificed on a formula.
We had much talk of principles, of honour, and of virtue here. It seemed to me all on one side; we on this side, had lost all the effulgence of virtue that emblazoned the faces of the people on the opposite side. Well, I have some principles; the principle that I have stood on all my life is the principle of Ireland for the Irish people (hear, hear). If I can get that with a Republic I will have a Republic; if I can get that with a monarchy I will have a monarchy. I will not sacrifice my country for a form of government. I stand in this exactly where every leader of the Irish nation stood from the time of O'Neill to Patrick Sarsfield. Owen Roe O'Neill said: "I do not care whether the King of England is King of Ireland so long as the people of Ireland are free." I do not care whether the King of England or the symbol of the Crown be in Ireland so long as the people of Ireland are free to shape their own destinies. We have the means to do that by this Treaty; we have not the means otherwise. I say now to the people of Ireland that it is their right to see that this Treaty is carried into operation, when they get, for the first time in seven centuries, a chance to live their lives in their own country and take their place amongst the nations of Europe (applause).
Before you take a vote I want to enter my last protest—that document will rise in judgment against the men who say there is only a shadow of difference——
Yes, that's all.
If every thing is in this Treaty that seemed to be covered by it—but it is not—I say that the Irish nation will judge you who have brought this Treaty—if it is approved they will judge you by comparing what you got for the Irish people out of it with the terms of an explicit document where there is nothing implied but everything on the face of it. It is the same position exactly as in the case of Grattan and Flood; and I suppose the Irish Volunteers are to be disbanded next.
Let the Irish nation judge us now and for future years.
We will take a vote now in the usual way by calling the roll. The vote is on the motion by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that Dáil Eireann approves of the Treaty.
then proceeded to call the roll.
(on being called for the second constituency): The people on the other side need not have objected. I have already voted.
(on being called): I can only give a casting vote.
(on being called for the second constituency): I wish to register my protest against any constituency being disfranchised. I understand that is your ruling. There are five members here who represent two constituencies each—the President and four other members. Those constituencies that the five of us represent are disfranchised.
The question of what happens the constituency is not the question for me. I can only rule that each Deputy present shall vote once.
I wish to enter my protest against the County Tyrone being disfranchised.
(at the conclusion of the Roll call): I claim the right to speak first after the figures are announced.
I want to make a statement, too.
The result of the poll is sixty-four for approval and fifty-seven against. That is a majority of seven in favour of approval of the Treaty.
Mícheál O Coileáin
Art O Gríobhtha
Seán Mac Giolla Ríogh
Pól O Geallagáin
Liam T. Mac Cosgaír
Gearóid O Súileabháin
Pádraig O Braonáin
Seán O Lidia
Seán O hAodha
Pádraig O Caoimh
Seán Mac Héil
Seosamh Mac Suibhne
Peadar S. Mac an Bháird
Dr. S. Mac Fhionnlaoigh
P.S. Mac Ualghairg
S. Ghabháin Uí Dhubhthaigh
Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt
Seumas Mac Doirim
Seumas O Duibhir
Pádraic O Máille
Seoirse Mac Niocaill
P.S. O hOgáin
An t-Oll. S. O Faoilleacháin
Fionán O Loingsigh
S. O Cruadhlaoich
Criostóir O Broin
Seumas O Dóláin
Aindriú O Láimhín
Tomás Mac Artúir
Dr. Pádraig Mac Artáin
Caoimhghín O hUigín
Seosamh O Loingsigh
Dr. Risteárd O hAodha
Liam O hAodha
Seosamh Mac Aonghusa
Seán Mac Eoin
Lorcán O Roibín
Eamon O Dúgáin
Peadar O hAodha
Seumas O Murchadha
Saerbhreathach Mac Cionaith
Seosamh Mac Giolla Bhrighde
Liam Mac Sioghuird
Domhnall O Ruairc
Earnán de Blaghd
Eoin O Dubhthaigh
Alasdar Mac Cába
Tomás O Domhnaill
Seumas de Búrea
Dr. V. de Faoite
Risteárd Mac Fheorais
Seán Mac Gadhra
Mícheál Mac Stáin
Risteárd O Maolchatha
Seosamh Mag Craith
Pilib Mac Cosgair
Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh
Liam de Róiste
Mícheál O hAodha
Seumas O Lonnáin
Eamon de Valera
Brian O hUigín
Seán Mac Suibhne
Seán O Maoláin
Domhnall O Corcora
Seán O Nualláin
Tomás O Fiadhchara
Seumas Mac Gearailt
Seosamh O Dochartaigh
S. O Flaithbheartaigh
Bean an Phiarsaigh
Seán O Mathghamhna
Liam O Maoilíosa
Dr. Brian de Cíosóg
Próinsias O Fathaigh
Aibhistín de Stac
Conchubhar O Coileáin
Eamon de Róiste
P. S. O Cathail
Tomás O Donnchú
Art O Conchubhair
Domhnall O Buachalla
Bean Mhíchíl Ui Cheallacháin
M. P. Colivet
Seán O Ceallaigh
Dr. O Cruadhlaoich
Tomás O Deirg
P. S. O Ruthléis
Enrí O Beoláin
Seán Mac an tSaoi
Dr. P. O Fearáin
Seumas O Daimhín
Próinsias Mac Cárthaigh
Seosamh Mac Donnchadha
P. S. O Maoldomhnaigh
P. S. O Broin
Eamon O Deaghaidh
Seumas Mac Roibín
Dr. Seumas O Riain
Seumas O Dubhghaill
Seán T. O Ceallaigh
Pilib O Seanacháin
Bean an Chléirigh
Constans de Markievicz
Cathal O Murchadha
Máire Nic Shuibhne
Domhnall O Ceallacháin
Dr. Eithne Inglis
An t-Oll. W.F.P. Stockley
It will, of course, be my duty to resign my office as Chief Executive. I do not know that I should do it just now.
There is one thing I want to say—I want it to go to the country and to the world, and it is this: the Irish people established a Republic. This is simply approval of a certain resolution. The Republic can only be disestablished by the Irish people. Therefore, until such time as the Irish people in regular manner disestablish it, this Republic goes on. Whatever arrangements are made this is the supreme sovereign body in the nation; this is the body to which the nation looks for its supreme Government, and it must remain that—no matter who is the Executive—it must remain that until the Irish people have disestablished it.
I ask your permission to make a statement. I do not regard the passing of this thing as being any kind of triumph over the other side. I will do my best in the future, as I have done in the past, for the nation. What I have to say now is, whether there is something contentious about the Republic—about the Government in being—or not, that we should unite on this: that we will all do our best to preserve the public safety (hear, hear).
Now, in all countries in times of change—when countries are passing from peace to war or war to peace—they have had their most trying times on an occasion like this. Whether we are right or whether we are wrong in the view of future generations there is this: that we now are entitled to a chance; all the responsibility will fall upon us of taking over the machinery of government from the enemy. In times of change like that, when countries change from peace to war or war to peace, there are always elements that make for disorder and that make for chaos. That is as true of Ireland as of any other country; for in that respect all countries are the same. Now, what I suggest is that—I suppose we could regard it like this—that we are a kind of a majority party and that the others are a minority party; that is all I regard it as at present; and upon us, I suppose, will be the responsibility of proving our mark, to borrow a term from our President. Well, if we could form some kind of joint Committee to carry on— for carrying through the arrangements one way or another—I think that is what we ought to do. Now, I only want to say this to the people who are against us—and there are good people against us —so far as I am concerned this is not a question of politics, nor never has been. I make the promise publicly to the Irish nation that I will do my best, and though some people here have said hard things of me—I would not stand things like that said about the other side—I have just as high a regard for some of them, and am prepared to do as much for them, now as always. The President knows how I tried to do my best for him.
Well, he has exactly the same position in my heart now as he always had (applause).
I claim my right, before matters go any further, to register my protest, because I look upon this act to-night worse than I look upon the Act of Castlereagh. I, for one, will have neither hand, act, nor part in helping the Irish Free State to carry this nation of ours, this glorious nation that has been betrayed here to-night, into the British Empire—either with or without your hands up. I maintain here now that this is the grossest act of betrayal that Ireland ever endured. I know some of you have done it from good motives; soldiers have done it to get a gun, God help them! Others, because they thought it best in some other way. I do not want to say a word that would prevent them from coming back to their Mother Republic; but I register my protest, and not one bit of help that we can give will we give them. The speech we have heard sounded very beautiful—as the late Minister of Finance can do it; he has played up to the gallery in this thing, but I tell you it may sound very beautiful but it will not do. Ireland stands on her Republican Government and that Republican Government cannot touch the pitch of the Free State without being fouled; and here and now I call on all true Republicans; we all want to protect the public safety; it is our side that will do its best to protect the public safety. We want no such terrible troubles in the country as faction fights; we can never descend to the faction fights of former days; we have established a Government, and we will have to protect it. Therefore, let there be no misunderstanding, no soft talk, no ráiméis at this last moment of the betrayal of our country; no soft talk about union; you cannot unite a spiritual Irish Republic and a betrayal worse than Castlereagh's, because it was done for the Irish nation. You may talk about the will of the Irish people, as Arthur Griffith did; you know it is not the will of the Irish people; it is the fear of the Irish people, as the Lord Mayor of Cork says; and to-morrow or another day when they come to their senses, they will talk of those who betrayed them to-day as they talk of Castlereagh. Make no doubt about it. This is a betrayal, a gross betrayal; and the fact is that it is only a small majority, and that majority is not united; half of them look for a gun and the other half are looking for the fleshpots of the Empire. I tell you here there can be no union between the representatives of the Irish Republic and the so-called Free State.
All those who have voted on the side of the established Republic, I would like to meet them say at one o'clock to-morrow; the sooner the better; perhaps we could get the use of this building or of the Mansion House, say twelve-thirty to-morrow.
Whatever we may say, whatever we may think, I do believe that some kind of an arrangement could be fixed between the two sides. Even though our physical presence is so distasteful that they will not meet us, I say some kind of understanding ought to be reached to preserve the present order in the country, at any rate over the week-end.
I would like my last word here to be this: we have had a glorious record for four years; it has been four years of magnificent discipline in our nation. The world is looking at us now——
(The President here breaks down).
So far as I am concerned I will see, at any rate, that discipline is kept in the army.
The House then adjourned at 8.50 p.m., until 11 o'clock a.m. on Monday, the 9th January.