In view of the vote that was taken here on Saturday and which I had definitely to oppose as one that was tending to subvert the Republic which I was elected to my present position to defend and maintain; and as it appeared to me also to be a vote which would tend to subvert the independence of the country, I could no longer continue—as I was beaten in that —I could no longer continue in my present office feeling I did not have the confidence of the House. I therefore wish to place my resignation in the hands of the Assembly; and I think it is not necessary to add any further words in doing so, but simply to resign my office and the responsibilities of it; and the members of the Cabinet all go with my resignation.
RESIGNATION OF PRESIDENT DE VALERA
In that case is it your intention to proceed with the business?
No! I think the State cannot get on without definitely having somebody to deal with it. The first business would be to make arrangements for the business of the Government of the State and for its continuance.
In view of that, I suggest that my previous suggestion about forming a Committee would be put. My belief about the thing is this: that no one here in this assembly or in Ireland wants to be put in the position of opposing President de Valera. Well, the practical step in my estimation is to form a Committee, if necessary on both sides for some kind of public safety, as I said. Now, on our side we would form our own Committee to get on with the work, and in my belief what I said on last December twelve months applies now—to stop talking and get on with the work. We are faced with the problems of taking Ireland over from the English, and they are faced with the problem of handing Ireland over to us, and the difficulties on both sides will be pretty big; and it does not matter what happens so long as we are assured that we are taking over Ireland and that the English are going out of Ireland. My suggestion means that we form a Committee on both sides, if necessary, for the preservation of the public peace; and that on our side we form a Committee to arrange the details and to do all the dirty work—all the difficult work that has to be done. In other words, that we take upon ourselves the burthens of the practical difficulties; and practical people will know what these difficulties are, and they will understand them—they will understand all these things and we will try to do the best we can (hear, hear).
As far as I am concerned I think we will have to proceed constitutionally in this matter. I have tendered my resignation and I cannot, in any way, take divided responsibility. You have got here a sovereign Assembly which is the Government of the nation. This assembly must choose its executive according to its constitution and go ahead.
I altogether fail to see how this House could assent to the suggestion of the Minister of Finance. The formation of such a Committee and the participation in it of those of us who opposed the Treaty would mean that we acknowledge and have become willing to join in the subversion of the Republic for which we stand (hear, hear). It is absolutely and utterly unconstitutional to do what the Minister of Finance has suggested, for those who voted for this Treaty declare that they are going to pull down with their own hands the Republic they set up; or else they must stand with us—go back on the Treaty now and stand for the Republic.
This body, a representative body of Irishmen, on Saturday evening approved of the Treaty. In doing so they expressed the will of the people. That approval is going to stand, and that will of the people is going to be maintained. Now, President de Valera said, when he called this body together, there was a constitutional way of settling this question of the Treaty. It has been constitutionally settled; and now nothing is going to prevent that vote from being carried out and the people from having their will expressed.
Since President de Valera has signified his intention of not having anything further to do with the Government, and the Deputy for Monaghan says he cannot enter into any arrangement except on their ideas, I think the obvious thing for this House is to appoint a Premier or somebody else and try and get on with the work. There is no use in wasting two or three days over this. It is only for us to do the obvious thing and appoint someone to carry on the work we began on Saturday. May I ask that somebody responsible would propose some motion to this effect. I will not take the responsibility of making the proposal, but somebody must do it. If we start to make speeches again we will be here for three or four days. The country does not want that.
I wish to propose the re-election of Eamon de Valera, President of the Irish Republic, for the same position, for this reason: he is the one man, to my mind, who has maintained, in act as well as in mind, the Republic. I have great pleasure in proposing him for re-election as President of the Irish Republic.
I second that. On this occasion it is with great pleasure I rise to second the motion of Deputy Mrs. Clarke. President de Valera has stood to us. He believes in the Republic and is the symbol of the Republic. As that symbol he stood forth at the head of this nation—this nation which has gained a unique position within the last few years. As to President de Valera, there is no need for me to say anything about his qualities. President de Valera stands for us at the moment as the symbol of the Republic, and it is as such that I take pleasure in seconding the motion for his re-election.
Might I ask if this motion of Deputy Mrs. Clarke is in order? Certainly there is no motion on the Orders of the Day for the election of anyone and I would like to have your ruling before proceeding with this very serious matter which has been so suddenly sprung on the Dáil. I ask you to say whether it is in order?
I gave notice that I was going to resign; and it followed as a matter of course, having been defeated on a vital matter of that sort, that I should resign. I gave notice at the last meeting that I was about to resign.
I think to spring a matter of this sort on the Assembly is not fair; because in a grave matter of this sort there should be due notice given and a time specified. I understand there was a meeting of one party held here yesterday.
Even if there was——
We met in the Mansion House——
We did not know, nor did we get notice that you were going to spring this matter on the House. It is treating the Irish nation very unfairly—we are as strong for Ireland and as much for helping Ireland —and the country will not stand this kind of procedure.
It is only fair to say that we expected something like this; and that we discussed it; and that we would have been fools if we had not anticipated it. Naturally we expected it; otherwise we would have been mere children.
Well, the way I propose—or I should say—the way we propose to meet it is that we should have a Committee. We do not know what the opponents of the Treaty—I refrain from calling them the other side, because some of them are more for than against us, and some of us are more for than against them——
Why do you not come over?
Why do you not come over? If you elect President de Valera President of the Irish Republic I have no objection whatever to it; but let me say this much: everybody will regard us as being simply a laughing stock. ("No!") Yes they will, and the people are already regarding us as a laughing stock; and people are getting impatient at our talking here day after day. If we are going on this way much further the people will come in and turn us out; or they will ignore us and we can sit on here and talk as much as we like. What I feel like doing is to get a few people on our side to meet a few people on the English side and go on arranging for the taking over; and you go on here—remain here talking and watching us doing the work (applause).
With regard to the statement that the President's election is not in order——
I merely asked was it in order.
On that point I would like to say a few words. We believe, and we have given evidence of our belief, in the existence of the Irish Republic. That Republic is not dead. It was absurd for the other side to say, as Mr. Michael Collins has just acknowledged, that they did not know this was coming. On last Thursday or Friday the President wanted to resign and put one policy against the other in order to show the country how they stood. On Saturday he gave notice of surrendering his office this morning. In view of the vote on Saturday night there was no other course open to him. Now, let us be honest with each other. We have got to carry on the Republican Government of Ireland until this Government is disestablished by the Irish people. The vote of a majority of seven did not disestablish the Irish Republic. The suggestion from the other side, or whatever Mr. Collins likes to call his side, that there should be a joint Committee to carry on the work of the country is out of the question. No more could there be a joint committee with them to-day than we could have a joint committee with Castlereagh. We cannot have any working connection whatever which would be tacitly acknowledging on our side that they are in a position to subvert the Republican Government of Ireland— as they have shown by their vote they wish to do. The President was perfectly right in resigning because he was in a minority; and as he was not only the President of the Republic, but leader of the House, he had to resign being in a minority. We have to re-assert here to-day that this is a Republican Government and the Parliament of the Government of the Irish Republic; and we must have a President for that Republic. If the other side wish to elect somebody in opposition to President de Valera let them do so; but how can they be at the one time, or how can any man from their side be President of the Republic and supporter of the Free State? I maintain that and I take great pleasure in supporting the re-election of the President. We must have that symbol of office until the people have disestablished the Republic; and it is as clear for the other side as it is for us if they face the question straightly that that must be so. It is not a question of springing tactics on the country; that sort of thing has not been done. We believe in the Republic established by the people of Ireland; we believe that only by the people of Ireland can that Republican Government be disestablished; your majority of seven the other night could not disestablish the Irish Republic; and we, believing that the Republic still exists must have a head to that Republic, and therefore I have much pleasure in supporting the re-election of President de Valera as head of the State.
I feel, in the circumstances that the only alternative is a General Election (hear, hear). I see no other way out of it as there cannot be any working agreement. It would be impossible, apparently, for this Assembly to carry on—being almost equally divided—and the only way to settle the question is a General Election.
I should have great pleasure in supporting that President de Valera be re-elected President on one condition, and that is that he tell us clearly that he has at last seen the error of his ways (laughter). In any case it is absolutely essential that when a gentleman is proposed for election as President that he ought to tell the people who are to elect him exactly what his policy is. I think the House is entitled to know from the President where, and to what extent he proposes to give effect to the vote passed by the House on Saturday. We should not be asked to vote on this matter in the dark, and I should therefore ask the President to tell us what is the policy which he proposes to carry out in the event of his being re-elected?
I have asked that the terms of the motion be given in writing.
I think that is a fair question and no matter what anybody thinks to the contrary it is only right to the House that I should say distinctly where I stand. My position is distinctly this, and has always been this: I have regarded this House as the Sovereign Assembly, the sovereign Parliament of the Irish nation. You have even definitely called it the Government of the Irish Republic. Now, we need an executive here. The Executive must have the confidence of the House as a whole. It must have, at least, a majority. If the Executive is beaten on an essential question it must go out and the other side is the proper side to take authority; and if the other side has a definite policy that side should choose, in accordance with the Constitution, its President and so on. The difficulty I see is this: the Republic must exist until the people have disestablished it. So far as I am concerned my position is this action was taken here which, in my opinion, tends to subvert the Republic. I should feel in my conscience compelled to take every step I possibly could to prevent that subversion; but I recognise that at the present moment, not understanding, to my thinking, what that Treaty means for the Irish people, for the nation, they have been passing resolutions and think that this Treaty should be taken for the moment. I do not think—I do not believe that the Irish people if they thoroughly understood it would stand for it. In the meantime, until they are consulted in a way in which the issue can be explained to them, the Government of the country must go on. I am quite ready to do everything possible to do this fundamental thing—to maintain the independence of Ireland during the interval. I would say, should you as the result of the vote wish to keep me on, that the result would be this—I was beaten on a point of policy, but it was a particular point only though a fundamental one—that if the House wished I would carry on the Executive work and that the terms of that Treaty with the particulars—that the further steps have to be taken by those who came here and reported to this House—that those steps be taken by them; that we do not actively oppose, though in conscience I should actively oppose; but I am looking beyond my own personal feeling and seeing what the people of the country want—I have perfect confidence in the people of the country that when that Treaty is worked out in legislative form and put before them that then they will know what they have got; that then they will understand what they are doing by accepting this Treaty and not till then—that therefore these plenipotentiaries and others take the further steps necessary to have that Treaty seen to; that we carry on here in Dáil Eireann; that the resources of Dáil Eireann be here still invested in this House, and that we be entitled to use the funds and everything else for the preservation and independence of Ireland and for the maintenance of the Republic until such time as the Irish people have decided otherwise, and not decided on a vague and indefinite thing like the terms of this Agreement; but when they will have that Act to vote upon, and when they cannot be fooled, that then the Irish Republic can be disestablished if the people want it; but until then we go ahead. This House, by a majority vote, determined what the policy is definitely to be. Let the others go ahead and present the Irish people with that document completed. It is only a vague promise and when the people can see that worked out in black and white they will not have the general impression that is in their minds at present—that we will be all as free as in Canada. When the Irish people will see how much freedom they receive exactly, how much British authority they are going to root in this country, then they will have a definite issue to vote on.
How do you propose the power to be handed over?
We are finished with that Treaty as far as we are concerned. It has nothing further to do with this House. We have not passed any Act of Ratification of that Treaty. We have simply passed a resolution of approval which means that the Government of the Republic is not going actively to interfere with those who are to complete that Treaty. When they have completed that Treaty then they will have a definite issue before the Irish people, and not till then, and I challenge them on that.
I want to say how the position exactly strikes me as one Deputy, to say honestly what we mean, and honestly attempt to be frank. When it is all boiled down it means this: that President de Valera's policy is, in fact, that this Treaty is going to be fought in all details. That is what it means. Well, now, where exactly are we? What is the position? There was a resolution passed by this House on Saturday and I take it that it is a common case that that resolution was not a resolution for the dissolution of the Republic; but the resolution itself was in order; and it was regarded as a fundamental question of policy, and the House divided on it after a most elaborate and exhaustive debate. It was not a snatch vote; nothing like that; and they divided on it. The President, as Chief Executive Officer —his policy was beaten, and that is the position.
Now, we are asked to re-elect the President after he has stated, as I have said, that he is going to fight absolutely against the majority will as expressed last Saturday. Well, I do not care how the President is elected, or for what reason he is elected; I say that is tyranny, that is dictatorship; it is the same sort of dictatorship as we have been used to in history. That is what it comes to. Let us be honest the whole time. If you elect the President again on a policy of fighting the Treaty after the resolution that has been passed by this House, let us have no more talk of constitutionalism. Let us be honest about it now on each side of the Treaty. It is not a fair way to get out of it to say that though the people are in favour of it now that they will not be in favour of it when they see the details worked out, and when they see the Treaty in operation. The idea of that is plain; it is to enable this House to carry on under a minority for the next year. That is the idea of it. The people are entitled to be consulted on the issue now—absolutely. If, instead of doing that, this House elects a President who, on his own showing, is going to fight the Treaty that was approved on last Saturday night, then I say we are setting up a dictatorship, and in decency we should not talk of constitutionalism.
I am not offering myself to this House in the sense that I am not asking the House to re-elect me. I am thinking of it as the better and the constitutional and the right and proper way to do the work. This House can elect its President and can act constitutionally. Let the majority work it; I am handing over responsibility to the majority party. The majority party say they do not want to oppose my re-election. I was asked the question what would I do if elected and I gave you definitely what I would do: carry on as before and forget that this Treaty has come. Let those who wish to work it go on; the majority vote at any time can defeat any proposition I put up.
It is quite evident that any assembly could not carry on without a recognised head. We are at the present time in what may seem to some a transitional state. We want to have this issue placed before the public of Ireland in a fair and clear manner. That cannot be done until it can be given to them in black and white, when the Act comes back from the British House of Commons—if it will come back at all— authorising the setting up in this country of a Free State Parliament. Then the people will have a right to decide whether they will have a Free State or remain a Republic. In the meantime it will be the duty of the Government of the nation to see that law and order must be maintained, and that we must function as a Government until such time as the people will say of their free will just that they do not want us any longer. If we were to go to the country in the morning to put a definite policy before the people it would be this: "Do you want a Republic or what is in this paper, which is not a Treaty at all?" I heard people saying, in effect, that when we voted on Saturday for this piece of paper that we converted ourselves into a Free State. That cannot be done. And it is only just, I hold, in order to maintain the liberties of the people and to safeguard them and every interest in the country, and to prevent fighting and bloodshed that we will have a President who will be the Chief of the State and who will have the power of the State behind him to carry on the Government.
On Saturday night we took an important division here after a long Session and many speeches on each side; and it was put up to this Dáil that in that division they were either to accept the Treaty or not—that they were then deciding between a Free State on the one hand and a Republic on the other hand. I hold—and all Ireland holds—that that division accepted the Free State, and the world will take that view of it. We came to the parting of the ways on Saturday night, and we solemnly decided by sixty-four votes to fifty-seven to take the Free State road. And now we come in here this morning and we are asked to go to work as if we never made that decision at all. Is that vote to be regarded as inoperative and to have no results flowing from it, or are we to proceed and act on the decision arrived at on Saturday night? If our side were defeated, and if we decided to go on with the Republic, then I could understand that we met here to-day to see what we were to do. I say that if we mean honestly to act on the vote that we took on Saturday night we are to proceed to put the Treaty into operation and to act on it. I could understand the opposition here taking the part of General Hertzog and his supporters in South Africa. I could understand them watching developments of the Free State, and if our party falls into the mistakes that they predict for us I could understand them going to the country and saying: "This is the failure we predicted; you voted for the Treaty and you got it; you now see it is a fraud." But as we decided to take it, let us honestly take it before the world and work it. Let the other side criticise it. Do not let them come in here and say on the one hand, "Take the Treaty," and on the other, "Give us a weapon to destroy and defeat it." If we proceed on that policy we will be making ourselves a laughing stock before the world (applause).
It appears to me that if I were on the side of those who voted for the approval and recommendation of the Articles of Agreement that on behalf of the Irish people I would be prepared now——
Is a member entitled to speak twice?
This is the first time since this motion was moved.
The second time.
I am in opposition still.
I am sorry that you have not resigned like a manly man.
It appears to me that if I were on the side of those who stand for the ratification of this Treaty, and with my knowledge of Irish history, I would be prepared to support, merely as a precaution against English treachery, the policy which the President has declared he stands for in this House. We have not yet got the Treaty with England. We have got the heads of the proposed agreement which England may not honour when the Act is drawn up. We have not got the Constitution of the Free State. That Constitution has yet to emanate from the English Parliament; and with a prospect of a General Election in England within a very short period, when the man who is the chief signatory to these Articles of Agreement may quite possibly be defeated, or may decide, if it suits him, not to go forward at all—as Pitt did after he got the Union, and dishonoured his promise to give us Catholic Emancipation for the Act of Union—I certainly feel that if I had the interests of my country at heart, and if I did believe that our future depended upon the actual establishment of the Free State, I would consider the suggestion of President de Valera a very necessary act in order that the army of the Republic, the finances of the Republic, and the Government of the Republic could be maintained to take up Ireland's case again if need be. Now, I heard a Deputy —and it is an amazing thing to me that a man of the intelligence of Deputy Hogan should get up in this House and deliberately mis-state what President de Valera said. President de Valera did not say that he was asking this House to re-elect him to the Presidency in order that he might fight this Treaty detail by detail.
I do not want this debate to proceed on the assumption that I said something that I did not say, I did not say that he asked to be reelected.
You said that the President's suggestion was that the Treaty should be fought detail by detail. He said if he were elected he would give those who stood for the Treaty a free hand in order to secure that that Treaty should receive some concrete expression of form, and then that when they and the English Parliament had evolved it he would challenge it in the country as he was perfectly entitled to do; and no doubt it will, in due course, be challenged in the country. It appears to me that the proposal of the other side that a Committee of Public Safety be set up, and their refusal to nominate any candidate for the Presidency, and their attempt by a disgraceful manœuvre to prevent the re-election of the President—it seems to me that the other side are already afraid of the consequences of their act. I would suggest to them that the reason for that fear is this: that they see already a prospect of English treachery, and that like the old Irish Party and every other party that ever depended on British promises, rather than acknowledge manfully the shaky ground upon which they stand they would wish to bring us all into the bog with them. I suggest that there is a nobler and more honourable way than that. The President has said that if elected by this House he will ask for the control of the resources of the Republic. I think it would be a very good thing if the resources of the Republic should be at the disposal of a man like President de Valera, who, if this proposed bond should be dishonoured, will still stand with the Irish nation behind him to fight for Ireland. And I would suggest that, in their own interests, in order that they themselves may not be publicly betrayed, that they would support the re-election of President de Valera.
Does the Deputy who has sat down think that if England does not keep her promises that we are going to sit down and are going to fall in with England against Ireland?
No! but I wish you to maintain the machinery and the organisation and the finances in order that you might be able to fight England if England does let you down.
We will, not they.
I would suggest earnestly to the gentlemen on the other side that they would be doing the best thing to promote the interests they have at heart by keeping the Republic established as long as these negotiations are to go on with England at least. A certain number of men on the other side —I give them credit for being as good Republicans as on our side and I believe the declaration of these men that their ultimate aim and object is a firmly fixed Republican form of Government in Ireland. They claim that by voting for this Treaty they are taking a good step in that direction. On that point we differ; but I think they will agree with me that it would be a very unwise step now on their part to disestablish the Republic and all its machinery at this moment; and that is what it would amount to if the re-election of President de Valera were not carried. I would urge upon them —on those who are Republican at any rate—to re-elect, if possible unanimously, President de Valera and by that gesture show to England that they are determined to keep the machinery of the Republic safe and in good order to use at any moment—that they are rigidly determined to secure that every possible ounce that is in that Treaty will be got out of it. If they dismantle the machinery of the Republic they are leaving themselves without any weapon to be used against that enemy if it should act, as it has always acted towards us, in a treacherous manner. I appeal to them to stand by the Republic and re-elect President de Valera, and give him the resources to make their fight for them and to secure that the enemy will not let us down and let Ireland down as she has so often done in similar circumstances in the past.
May I ask through you, Mr. Speaker, if the President, in the selection of his Cabinet, will select from the majority or the minority of the House, or form a combined Cabinet?
It is quite obvious that a combined Cabinet will be out of the question, because no effort of mine could secure a combined Cabinet. It is also equally obvious that a Cabinet from the majority is out of the question. So that it would mean, in effect, that in that case you would have a Cabinet that would be composed for the time being of those who stood definitely by the Republic; that you would here in this House control the Cabinet and all its acts; that it would be responsible to you, and that the effect would be that those who brought this document would take the necessary steps to complete it, and that they would come here to this House if they wished to get any sanction for any act and tell the House what they wanted. If the House agreed with what they wanted well and good. For instance, if there was something that would be held by the members of the House to be against it you might have a crisis in certain cases. But I am thinking only of the best way to do two things—to carry on over the interim period, and to do what I told this House several times I would like to see done. We came together to a certain bridge. At that bridge for years I thought we might part. I am anxious at least that we should never be driven back beyond that bridge that we should entrench ourselves on that bridge and leave the final decision to the Irish people; and that in fairness to the Irish people we do not play party politics now any more than in the past. In fairness to the Irish people we will present them with an issue which will be so clear-cut and definite that they will not have any doubt on it. None of us would wish to see the Irish people giving away anything that they do not want themselves to give away; and therefore I hold, from the point of view of definitely safeguarding the nation, that the proposal I have made; and I would not have mentioned it, nobody here on my side knew anything about it—so that let nobody think it was a concerted plan. Every one of you will remember here at the Private Session that I said the same thing practically. Therefore you can see definitely that my proposal now is practically what it was before. I quite admit that there is a lot involved on the other side. If they do not want to take that risk they will have to choose their own Executive.
There is no doubt the older we are getting the more information we are getting. The latest interpretation of Constitutional practice is that the minority in an assembly is to form the Government and to carry out the various functions of Government in the country.
Remember, I am only putting myself at your disposal and at the disposal of the nation. I do not want office at all. Go and elect your President and all the rest of it. You have sixty-five. I do not want office at all.
We are here now an hour, and the President has spoken four times, and the little Deputy from Monaghan twice.
Once on the resolution.
And the first thing he has stated was we have got to take great care that the English will honour the Treaty. And he is himself taking the greatest possible care that we will not honour it. Now, I do not know whether I read in the paper that the Deputy from Monaghan was talking about resignation—first that he was going to resign before the vote, and secondly that he would resign after the vote.
On a point of order I never said I would resign before the vote was taken. The Deputy has stated a deliberate falsehood.
Did you say you would resign afterwards?
I said I would resign in due course when I had discharged my obligations to the nation. My public utterances are on record. I said that when I fulfilled my obligations I would resign. I never said I would resign when the vote was taken.
As I said before, the Deputy for Monaghan can speak until he is understood and, of course, it will take me a long time to understand him. Now, this is certainly the most unconstitutional procedure I have ever known. I am getting old; I am thirteen years in public life; I have never heard a proposition the like of which has been put before us this morning, and it is certainly the most exceptional procedure ever proposed. I think the President realises it too, and appreciates it—that the minority of this House takes over the Government of the country and takes over the resources of it.
Select your President.
The President dictates to the House what the policy is regardless of the decision of this House. The minority is to regulate whether a decision of this House is to be put into operation or not.
That is a deliberate misrepresentation, and you know it.
Let us have the exact representation.
The exact representation is this: I resigned. The majority can go and take over the machinery of the Republican Government as it is. The proposition was made that I should take office. I was asked by the Deputy for South Dublin that it was only fair to say what the policy was. I have given it to you. I do not ask you to elect me. Therefore I am not seeking to get any power whatever in this nation. I am quite glad and anxious to get back to private life.
Is the President withdrawing his candidature?
You are not his agent.
As an ordinary man who has been in public life, and who has generally managed to understand what people have said in public, it is this way: this is the interpretation I gather. I take it that the President does not want to be in this position where his advisers want to put him. He has stated he has no advisers.
I said I was not consulting anybody about it.
Strange I have heard these arguments before, and I know where——
In Private Session he stated so.
I have heard them before the Private Session.
It may be my own stupidity in the difficulty of understanding this. But, as I think anyone is aware, the position is—as it will appeal to the people of Ireland—that the advisers of the President seek to take advantage of his personal popularity and the respect in which the people of this Assembly hold him—that they desire to establish here an autocracy. Last week the vilest abuse was poured upon us. We were held up to public scorn and hatred. We were described as only babes could be described. This morning we are getting cheap advice. We are told that everything possible on the other side is being done in our interests—that it is our interests they have in view.
The interests of the nation.
Well we are just as anxious to do the best for the nation as the loudest spoken amongst you. We have been only able to give whatever was in us. And we gave that and we are prepared to give it again. I made it a point at the commencement here not to interrupt anyone. And I regret that those young people here have not been able to appreciate that good example (laughter). I have shown you an excellent example. Now, the people who do not want to see this Treaty carried out—and that is really the essence of the position of the other side—the people who do not want to see this Treaty carried out desire to have the resources of the Republic.
The people who are true to the Republic.
And the army and the finances of the Republic. That is what they want given them—that and you can blaze away. I have never heard in my life a constitutional proposition of that kind being put up in any assembly by the minority. It may be a new axiom. And I submit that the resolution for the re-election of the President is out of order, having regard to the fact that the majority party in every assembly in the world moves the motion. I do not know whether that is objected to or not. The new apostles of the new system of government may object to it. There was one other matter that I would like to refer to. Those who have taken on themselves the right to speak and censure the utterances of others have interpreted it that under the Treaty we become British subjects. I deny that, and I say positively that they knew they were not speaking the truth when they made that statement. I was reading last evening an American paper, the Boston Post, sent me by a friend a few days ago, and that paper stated that under the Treaty the Irish people are Irish citizens and not British subjects.
Of course some people would not agree to that. I can tell you that it would take a lot to prove a thing to you that you do not want to understand or do not want to see. I did not interrupt you. It is not a thing that can be proved, as I said before, to a man who will not see the proof.
Prove it to the Dáil.
The Dáil understands it. There are sixty-four sensible people in the Dáil, and the Dáil realises that (applause and laughter), and if you are the apostle of constitutional Government you will accept their decision, because it is a majority decision.
Deputies when speaking should address the Chair.
It happens that some delegates or Deputies are more bellicose than others, and that consequently some Deputies when speaking are subject to interruption. I did not interrupt the Minister for War (laughter). I submit that the motion for the re-election of the President is unconstitutional, and that it is out of order. That motion can only come from the majority party. I submit that the decision which has been taken here on Saturday cannot be rescinded on Monday. I submit that the President himself sees the position and appreciates it, and his own statement that he did not desire to set up a minority to run the country is evidence of the fact that he appreciates it. And I submit to you, sir, that the resolution is out of order, and that the only motion that can be in order is one moved from the other side—the majority party—to set up a joint Committee in order to carry into effect the resolution adoted by this Assembly on Saturday in accordance with every known axiom of constitutional law. That motion suggested by the Minister of Finance and supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs is the only one. Now, I was looking up the Constitution of the Dáil, and I was not dismissed yet by the President, and I say under the rules it is only by dismissal you can be put out of office.
Well, I dismissed you by my resignation.
I want to put this position before the Dáil—that there are letters going out from my department with my name on them. Is that stopped? Because if so I must stop work. I will send over to tell them besides, that no further letters are to go out to the country. What then is the position to be? Is my department dissolved?
It is to-day.
Well, then, I suppose I must send to my office to stop further communications going out. If the President is re-elected, and if the Ministers he puts up are defeated, where are we landing ourselves? We were warned by the Deputy from Monaghan that we will be in a bog. I think the only member of the Assembly who is in a bog is himself. Now, I put that position to you, sir, because you have a very responsible position as Speaker of this House. The Government of the country must go on. Nothing can change the vote that was taken here on Saturday last (cries of "No! no!"). There is a constitutional way of dealing with them. Are you afraid of the people? (Cries of "No! no!"). I am glad to hear that. because one of the Deputies said here that the fear of the people would get this Treaty ratified. I know them, and they are not afraid; and I know it is not the fear but the sense of the people that made them favour the Treaty. There was never as much fight in the people as when the terror was highest. The people of this country are not going to be coerced into accepting an instrument of this kind (applause).
You know they were coerced at Downing Street.
You were in the Chair a long time and you know what the order is. I am sorry I have been interrupted so often. I am interested in doing things in a proper way, and I am interested in this assembly as the first assembly of the nation. The one fact remains that we have the destinies of the country in our hands, and that we are responsible for restoring normal conditions. The enemy are now willing and anxious to clear out, and I believe they are making preparations to clear out. Are there to be no facilities on our side to get them out and to restore normal conditions? Is that an honest state of affairs? Are we to get away from the page of party politics and the page of party suspicion and party speeches and realise that this nation did not elect us to go on with this nonsense? And if the Government of the country is to be maintained it could only be done by establishing majority rule; and I believe the majority here would willingly get out tomorrow if you can get better men, and if those who are interested in the Republican form of Government—and I am not —I don't care what form it is so long as it is free, independent, authoritative, and the sovereign Government of the people, and that it will be respected. If they wish to put up this Republican programme of theirs I warn them that they are not taking the best methods. And those people to whom I have been speaking outside about the proceedings here are not impressed by the attitude nor by the bitterness of those opposed to the Treaty. It is not by bitterness that we succeed. Upon our shoulders rests more responsibility than any body of Irishmen ever had to bear. The world is looking at us now, having approved of this Treaty, and it is expecting some results from it. It is expecting ordered government from it and if you cannot have ordered government if you re-establish and reconstruct the government of the minority. Therefore I submit to you that it is not in order to receive the motion.
We have listened to the most extraordinary constitutional procedure that was ever listened to. I will state the case in a few words. The Government of the Irish Republic entered into negotiations with the British Government. They carried these negotiations up to a certain point. But Lloyd George chose to say that they were finished when he negotiated the Treaty. We know that they are not. We have reached a stage in the negotiations. Now, it seems the best way to continue the negotiations is through the Republican Government. The British Government is out to smash the Republican Government.
This assembly here carried on for a very long time—as far as my recollection goes—without having a President of the Irish Republic. We carried on here in the Dáil—as far as my recollection goes—until the re-assembling of the Dáil after the re-election for what was called the Parliament of Southern Ireland. We carried on to that date without a President. The suggestion is being made here that we cannot carry on the work properly without a President. Now, I could say that I feel that the future is with those people who are supporting the Treaty, or that the future is with those people who are opposing the Treaty, that is, the future is with ideas which demand its opposition, its rejection. But I would not be helping our work here. The job for the day, in my opinion, when we supported here the approval of the Treaty—our job was that we should lay our hands on those resources that were put within our reach under the Treaty, and that we should utilise those resources to strengthen the position and build up the Irish nation. The vote on Saturday evening confirms me in that opinion, and gives me costitutional authority for going ahead to the absolute best of my ability in getting Irish hands on these resources. Now, this Assembly, it has been stated, is the Government of the Irish Republic. It is the Government of the Irish people. And I agree with the statement that it remains that Government until the Irish people have set up another Government. Now, in the opinion of the majority of this Assembly, and in the opinion of the majority party which forms the Government of Ireland, our immediate job is to lay hands on those resources which are put within our reach by the Treaty. And I believe we would be false to our realisation of what the next job to be done by us for the benefit of the Irish people is if we did not use our whole weight and the whole resources and the whole constitutional position of this body for the carrying out of that end, and it is for that reason—however much I regret it—that I am opposing the proposition that President de Valera should be re-appointed President of the Irish Republic and President of this Assembly. It is for that reason that I must oppose such a proposition because we would be taking from the majority of this House, which realises it has to do a certain work, a considerable portion of the resources, if not all the resources that should be at its disposal for the carrying out of that work and placing them in the hands of other people who, no matter how they feel disposed to us, and no, matter how they feel that we do not run on parallel lines ultimately—by taking the line that we take to-day we may not converge upon that point upon which, in our hearts we all desire to converge. No matter how they feel with regard to us, or how we feel with regard to them, we would be putting ourselves in the position of hand ing over these resources to people who at the present moment, from their own point of view cannot co-operate with us in helping us to do the job which lies immediately at our hands, and which we are determined to do, just as in those days gone by we tackled one by one the different jobs that came in front of us.
I think when the public read in the Press this discussion and understand its full bearing the feeling of the public will be one of sheer exasperation. We spent a number of, weeks in Public and Private Session discussing a grave national issue. And we decided it last Saturday night after exploring every vestige of that Treaty, and after the public mind of the country had pronounced, as far as it was possible for the country to make itself articulate. Now, this morning we are confronted with a proposal, a motion, a situation which has, I think, no other object and can have, if carried, no other consequence than to reverse or nullify the decision of last Saturday. The President has emphasised the fact, from his point of view, that he is trying to end what appears to be an impasse by strict adherence to constitutional methods. I submit that he is not quite accurate or exact in his conception of what constitutional methods should be in this matter. The constitutional method for a party who is defeated in an assembly like this is to resign their power and let the majority take control (hear, hear). I notice there is great jubilation amongst the supporters of this motion, and I take it that they strongly dissent from this statement of the President that there can be no question of a Cabinet being selected from the majority of the House. Now, I suppose I am guilty of as many interruptions as anybody else, and I need not grumble. But when I was coming in during the course of this discussion I heard the Deputy from Monaghan speaking about a shaky ground. I do not know whether it was the shaky ground of his in Monaghan or the shaky ground of the President in this position that he was referring to. But it certainly is a most precarious position to stand in. President de Valera and those who stood with him were defeated on last Saturday night in this House. I submit that the constitutional procedure is that those Ministers who were defeated should hand in their resignations. Now, I know what the move is. The President says that he does not wish to go forward. If President de Valera will stand down on this question he will show you the majority. Do not let us confuse the issue that is before the Assembly with a personality— the great and honoured personality of President de Valera. Let us know where we stand. Are you who are opposing the Treaty that was approved of on Saturday night, are you trying to play the personality of President de Valera as a trump card to try and kill the Treaty? ("No!") It will take as much evidence and a good deal more evidence to prove that as it will require to prove the contention of the Minister of Agriculture that we are to be British citizens under this Treaty. I listened to President de Valera here one evening at the Private Session. And I suppose it is not proper to make anything like detailed allusions to what occurs in Private Session, but I gathered from him on one occasion— when asked what would be his policy in the eventuality of the Treaty being rejected, and in the eventuality of its being approved. The President made a lengthy and, I thought, a carefully calculated speech suggesting what would be the outcome of all these eventualities. And, so far as my recollection serves me, President de Valera stated then that he would regard the will of the majority in this House as the sovereign and binding authority in this House. The majority spoke last Saturday night.
On the Treaty.
On the Treaty. Are you going to honour the decision of the majority or are you going to make us, not merely a laughing stock, but something that is beneath contempt in the civilised world, by giving a decision one night and two days after reversing that decision? ("No!"). Very well, do not be playing the personality of President de Valera against the real sense of this House. I find it hard to speak with patience about this matter. We regarded the decision on Saturday night last—at least, I regarded it—as terminating a long and serious controversy. We regarded it as coming to the end of one stage, and that when that stage was reached we would begin subsequently to carry out what was the effect of that decision. If this motion is persisted in, if the policy connected with the Government is persisted in, it means that you are deliberately and with malice aforethought endeavouring to nullify the decision come to last Saturday night, endeavouring to reverse the decision of the House and to nullify the efforts made to bring some kind of independent staple goverment to Ireland. Now I would ask you who voted for the Treaty on last Saturday night to realise what you are faced with. Those who voted against it, of course, have not the responsibility that those who voted for it have. But every Deputy here who voted for that Treaty last Saturday night is as much bound to honour his vote as the plenipotentiaries were to honour their signatures. And I tell you, the man who votes to-day for the motion which will have the effect of destroying the motion voted for on last Saturday night—that Deputy will be as guilty of——
To the Republic, mar dheadh.
I prefer to choose my own words——
And your own crimes.
I will be responsible for my own crimes. I will not ask any Deputy here to take responsibility for them. And I say that every person here who voted for the Treaty last Saturday night and who votes for the motion to destroy the Treaty or to nullify its effects to-day is as much guilty of cowardice—I will say moral cowardice—it is, perhaps, a less reprehensible word than the Minister for Home Affairs selected for me—he will be as guilty of moral cowardice as the plenipotentiary who signed in London and will come back and vote against the Treaty here. This is no time for playing party politics or trying to score (laughter). I cannot understand the laughter that comes to the face of the Holy Roman Deputy from Tipperary. It may be a laughing matter to him if this Treaty is destroyed. But I tell you it will not be a laughing matter to Ireland, and there will be no smile on his face when Ireland calls him to account. This is a serious, a grave matter. And I ask every man who voted for the Treaty last Saturday night to remember, to realise, that the motion to-day to secure minority rule in this House is a motion intended to kill the Treaty, and to throw us back to the wrangling we were in before we came to the decision on last Saturday night (applause).
I want to get back to common sense and plain facts. The President offered to resign. He resigned on Saturday. It was at the suggestion—or almost request—of the opposition he withdrew his resignation until this morning, and I strongly resent then that he should be accused of any political trick.
Not by me.
Surely when the President's policy is defeated the obvious course is for the President to resign. Now, we want order and peace in the country. We do not wish to see disruption and disagreement which may lead to very serious results up and down the land. We listened to Mr. Collins' suggestion of a joint committee that from the President's point of view and from my point of view is an impossibility, because we disagree on fundamentals, that is, on the Treaty. Mr. Michael Collins stands for Saorstát na hEireann, and I stand for the Republic. As a person who stands for the Republic I cannot consider anything less, nor will I work with anyone who considers the case of Ireland from a lower standard than my own. Now, the President's name was put forward for re-election. Now, I ask, what do the opposition mean? Why do they not put up a man of their own a President—which I would consider the honourable way out of this? I myself believe that, except on the one question of the Saorstát as against the Republic— that is, the Free State or Cheap State, as the other Irish translation has it—there is a majority in favour of the Free State in this House, but I do not know that on any other of the points of President de Valera's policy that there has ever been any disagreement in this House. And, of course, the opposition are pre-supposing that this House is definitely divided. One of our party proposed President de Valera as President of this assembly. And I conclude Deputy Mrs. Clarke proposed that because, when the President resigned, the opposition did not, in their turn, propose a President. They, apparently, did not stand for the Republic. We then, as Republicans—or a member of our party—proposed our much loved and much respected President, the man who carried out the great fight in Boland's Mill with a gun in his own hands, as a Commander, in Easter Week; the man who fought elections, the man who went to jail, the man whom we have all known as the straightest, truest and most honourable man we ever had anything to do with. Even his opponents will admit there could never have been a criticism of the President's bravery, courage or honour. We proposed the President and they are refusing to elect the President. They are trying to overthrow the Republic. This is what I would put to them : we established our Republic; they have this Treaty. This Treaty has been passed by the House. They have a clear road in front of them. They go over—they take up the negotiations, they form a Constitution and then go on. But I say why should our side be supposed to end our opposition to the destruction of the Republic? Now, the members of the opposition here blame the President because, when he was put forward as President to be elected, he simply and frankly and honestly stated that, as President, he would continue his work as President of the Irish Republic—a protector and fighter for the Irish Republic. That was an honourable line, and a thing for which I respect and value him. We know to-day that England is in the tightest corner she was ever in. We know there is a paper wall around India and Egypt as big as there had ever been around Ireland before Easter Week. We do not know what straits England is in. We don't know what may happen in the coming year while the Provisional Government which Mr. Griffith and Mr. Collins are going to set up is functioning, and I say now it is necessary that the Republican interest should be held and the situation watched. And I say now : let this vote be a straight one. The Republic exists to-day. Let the President be elected and let him stand by his ideals and the world will know the man he is. I would say that those who stand for the ultimate Republic in Ireland, who believe in the Republic, and who work for the Republic, must support the President. What matters is that the Republic is not allowed to be overthrown to-day by any side-tracking, personal allusions—petty and mean—against brave and honourable men, and also by juggling and tricks. Again I repeat—it is very simple the outlook to-day—the state and condition at the moment is this: the President has resigned because he considers it his duty. The members of our party who wish for the re-affirmation of the Republic are supporting him. Let those who wish to overthrow the Republic vote that there ought be no President from this day in Ireland; and let them realise that they are using the little bit of authority, the one little piece, to pull down what Ireland has gained by centuries of fighting, of misery and of suffering. And that is the position to-day.
Is not this the present position before us? The English are willing to evacuate the country at the moment that we set up the Provisional Government. Their forces are ready to leave as soon as the Provisional Government is set up. All their Departments of Government to the number of fifty-six are to be handed over to the representatives of the Irish people. Now, is it not common sense that in the interests of the Republic of Ireland— which to my view is not a minority or a majority party; not this Dáil itself, but the people of Ireland—is it not common sense that in the interests of the people of Ireland that the sooner we give facilities to the British to clear out of the country the better? And the only way in which we can give these facilities at the present moment is by setting up a Provisional Government here. Those who are opposed to the setting up of the Provisional Government in this country are, as I said and as I consider it now, in favour of retaining, not alone the British Army and the armed forces in this country, but the thing which is an abomination in Ireland—Dublin Castle Government. That, I maintain, is the position, and we ought all to take the same view.
There is a way out, and a very clear way out. This is the Dáil the Republican Parliament for all Ireland. The members who were elected to the Republican Parliament know that the Republican Parliament will exist until the General Election will remove it.
And remove you, too.
That has nothing to do with this point. And by Article 17 of the Treaty we see: "By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the constitution of a Parliament and a Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith, steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and for constituting a Provisional Government, and the British Government shall take the steps necessary to transfer to such Provisional Government the powers and the machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties, provided that every member of such Provisional Government shall have signified in writing his or her acceptance of this instrument. But this arrangement shall not continue in force beyond the expiration of twelve months from the date hereof." We have not got these members here. This is not a Parliament of Southern Ireland. Now, our Government must go on—the Republican Government must go on. There is no reason why the members elected to the Southern Parliament should not, if they wish, form a Provisional Government as this instrument says, and proceed to take over. There is no reason why that should not be done and end our discussion and end the flight of oratory.
Mr. Mulcahy seemed to suggest that instantly we should enjoy the advantages given in the Treaty. Evidently that is not so. There has to be negotiations, conferences, and ratification of this Treaty in connection with England, and it is now what you mean to consider what views Ireland is to put before the world, and how she is to show herself an existing entity. Something should be done to show that we have not given up our separate existence, nor what we wish to get, an independent country. Therefore it seems to me a sort of misunderstanding to think that you can instantly now go and take the advantages of this Treaty. This has all to be settled.
I feel bound to contradict and resent one thing that I may safely describe as deliberate misrepresentation. I have listened to one of my colleagues from Cork seek to make a case. He said that those who maintain here to-day a particular line of action—that some members of this House desire to retain in Ireland the British Government and the British Army and British Departments. Now, I am satisfied that neither of us here nor any member of this House can believe that that is true. Consequently, I may safely call this deliberate misrepresentation. I hope this is not going to develop into a series of speeches. The central fact is that there must be a Government until such time as a certain form of negotiations has taken place. There must be a Government. It is also clear from certain statements that that Government must come from one side or the other. Now, the House is here and I think the House should decide now.
I am one of those who utterly dislike making any personal explanations. I rather agree with the motto "never explain." But in regard to my friend, the Lord Mayor of Cork, I did not mean that that was the intention of those supporting the election of President de Valera, but that it will be the effect of their action in opposing the setting up of a Provisional Government by delaying the evacuation of the British forces.
I hope this will not descend into politics. My good friend, the Deputy for Tyrone, referred to me. He used to consider himself a Party politician. What we want to do is to salve as much as we can out of the wreckage, and to do it for Ireland. He said I would be afraid to go before the Irish people. I am not. But I did hope that when the Chairman of the Delegation was concluding his speech the other night that he would have answered one of the Deputies from Mayo, Doctor Ferran, who asked him some very pertinent questions regarding this Treaty and its future. He did not deal with that nor with other things. But I hope he will now. He seems to know more about it. He had some correspondence from the Prime Minister of England, and he will know about its future. I have had this point from the English Press and the Irish Press— statements from the Prime Minister of England and by Lord Birkenhead that these are Articles of Agreement.
What is the Deputy speaking to?
To the election of President de Valera, and I want to answer, as far as I can, some statements made here that have really nothing to do with that (laughter). I appreciate that. I do say the position of Deputies in this House who are afraid to face the issue of electing the President for the Irish. Republic in the Parliament of the Irish Republic—they are afraid to face that issue straight and so they side-track They would not put up a candidate of their own. And they go on talking about constitutionalism. Would it not be more constitutional to here and now say: "Are you going to kill the Irish Republic? Can you do it?" No! You have not put up a candidate of your own. President de Valera has been put up and you cannot put up anyone against him. You had it from a very able Deputy who raised a laugh. But he did not deal with any constitutionalism. I have heard from one of the Deputies in Dublin that we had not a President in the first Parliament in Dublin. But that very Deputy seconded President de Valera as President of the Republic in the Mansion House. He was proposed by Deputy Seán MacKeown, and no quibble about it, President of the Irish Republic, and seconded by Deputy Muleahy, and I think the whole House agreed to it. Now he resigns that position, and resigns it before the whole body, and he is proposed and seconded for election. You cannot side-track that. You must face it. The other day when things were made unconstitutional he threatened to resign, and he put up his resignation and it was pointed out by the other side—it was said it was a political trick. And it was not. There is a hope here in the minds of a few that by insisting it is unconstitutional he will withdraw this. I hope he will not. It is time for us to face the issue. The Deputy from Cork knows well that we here had no right to ratify the Treaty. It was the Deputies elected to the Parliament of Southern Ireland. You would have men from Trinity here.
They might vote against it.
It was open, I daresay, to the Viceroy to call this meeting of the Southern Parliament, to call it for, say, Leinster House or somewhere else, and elect a Provisional Government. But I would appeal to you in the interests of Ireland, even in the interests of the Treaty that you have by a majority decided to accept here on Saturday night, to still maintain your Republic. It is a loose thing; it is only Articles of Agreement according to the English, and you know what they have done with treaties in the past. And one Deputy at some meeting here stated that the only hope you have of getting that Treaty is that we would stand out against it. Even the Deputy from Offaly stated it here one night. He voted for it. For goodness sake do not for Party purposes or Party politics go and destroy the ultimate aim you have, and that great opportunity you have, of saving your country. I know there are men on the other side as patriotic as I am. I always admitted that. I worked with them in the past. Some of them say they will take an oath every time they get a rifle. I do not agree with that. The oath is a thing that ought be respected and so is the Treaty, too. The Minister of Finance declared that this does not satisfy the aspirations of the Irish people; that this is not a final settlement; and in his final speech the Chairman of the Delegation agreed that anything might happen in ten years; though, unfortunately, in an interview he gave to some member of the Press Association after the Treaty was signed he stated that it was the end of seven-and-a-half centuries of fighting—that it was the liberty of Ireland. Now I ask you : it may be thought that I want to take a Party side in this question of supporting President de Valera. I told you here that I supported principles and not persons. President de Valera is the symbol of the Irish Republic. President de Valera holds a greater place in the hearts of the Irish people than any man in the public life of Ireland to-day. And I can assure you that if you turn him down in this Dáil you will not have peace in the country. If you elect him you will have peace, because he will see that you will have peace. He is not out for party politics. He urged every one of us not to say one word that would injure Ireland—that Ireland was above us all— and that is his feeling to-day. But I met here a supporter of the Treaty last night, a man of some influence in the city, who read in the Press that we seemed to want to turn the President down. He resented that. What he did say was that on the 4th December President de Valera went back from his Cabinet meeting and it seemed to be his Palm Sunday, and "now," he said, "are you going to bring him back and make it his Good Friday?" That will be the feeling of the people. Let us get out of the strife of last week. It is ended. We are here as the Parliament of the Irish Republic and you are asked to re-elect President de Valera as President. Are you going to vote against him? Are the young men who believe in the Republic going to go against him? I say not. And it does not matter if he is elected here by the majority. That will not stop the formation of obvious work, nor will it keep the English Army in Ireland, nor the formation of the Irish Army in Ireland. It will be the means of driving the English Army out of it. See what Thomas says about the forthcoming General Election, and what will happen. Realise your position. You cannot trust these English Ministers. And now they would turn down every one of those Articles of Agreement if you did not maintain the machinery of the Irish Republic that forced them to accept things as they are. In God's name I ask you this: abandon following Party politics; come back to the old spirit of comradeship, Ireland over all, and unamimously—if you can—elect President de Valera.
I move that we now adjourn for two hours.
(Opposition cries of: "Take a vote.")
I agree with Deputy Etchingham that it is time to face the issue. But my conception of what the issue is, is somewhat different from his. The issue is this : are we here as representatives of the Irish people or are we not? And I do not think we speak here the voice of the Irish nation if we do not represent, each one of us, our constituents. Then we are, more or less, able and enthusiastic exponents of a particular point of view. We have come to the stage when there is a question of the English evacuating Ireland, when there is a question of England handing over the Governmental Departments that formerly administered Ireland. Now, the evacuation of what? And handing over to whom? I contend to the Provisional Government—handing over to the Provisional Government. And there is a definite difference about it, too. Some people contend that there is, and must continue to be, here in Ireland a Republic. Some contend that there must be a Provisional Government and, following on that, the Free State. Now, I was of opinion, I will grant, that there is and must be a Republic. But there are some who merely seem to differ between one Free State and another Free State, and one form of association—that the community of association with the British Empire is again but another form of association. But to come back to the main point—are we speaking here the voice of our constituents or not? The sooner we take a plebiscite or General Election on this issue the better. It may be said that we have no machinery for dissolving. It is surely no great act of condescension on our part—we, who in the past, were twice elected on English writs—to get a dissolution. Very good. It is not, as I say, a great act of condescension on our part to get a dissolution——
Use your influence with Lloyd George.
That is worthy of Austin Stack to say that.
Any man who says the Republic is dead deserves it.
The remark is worthy of the man who made it.
What I am really anxious to ascertain is this: whether the spiritual Republic which we are told is in existence is to continue, or whether the people wish to set up a Provisional Government preparatory to establishing a Free State in Ireland?
What is in my mind is to assure you that anything that will be done here to-day will be something that will rather tend to prevent people who have worked together so long, and who are still out for the same ultimate end—to prevent them from arriving at a situation where they may begin shooting one another. Rather the opposite. I agree with President de Valera that a plebiscite now would not be as clear an issue before the Irish people as a plebiscite or General Election when the Constitution of the Irish Free State has been framed. And for that reason I am not one of those who desire a plebiscite now. I believe that the plebiscite now would go in favour of the Treaty. I believe that when the Constitution of the Irish Free State has been framed that the people will respect that Constitution and that they will approve of the Treaty and approve of the setting up of a Provisional Government. Because that that was one of the Articles of Agreement. Now, that Provisional Government will represent the majority in this Dáil: whether formally or informally it will have authority from this Dáil. And if we are going here to set up a Republican Government representing the minority of the Dáil and also having the authority of the Dáil, I think we are heading straight for a situation in which chaos of the worst kind will result.
To some extent President de Valera, by his first answer, met the situation. But he did not go far enough. Nothing that he said gave any assurance that we were not going to have the worst possible clash between two separate and distinct Governments, both having authority from this Dáil. And I think that the Dáil would be certainly shirking its duty and be guilty of a very grave crime against the country if it lightly or hurriedly created such a situation—because it has already approved of the Treaty—if it is going to set up two opposing Governments, and if there is no arrangement made by which there would not be a clash between them.
It is obvious that the arrangements would have to be made.
I wish to support the motion for adjournment.
If we do not accept the adjournment at this present moment I want to speak about this motion and its implications in every possible way. If we do not adjourn I want to speak about this motion and refer to it in all its implications.
Better adjourn now. It is one-thirty o'clock.
My statement about it will be rather lengthy.
Several speakers have intimated to me that they want to speak on the motion.
put the motion to adjourn for two hours and it was carried.
The House adjourned at 1.30 p.m., to 3.30 p.m.
On resuming after luncheon THE SPEAKER (DR. EOIN MACNEILL) took the Chair at 3.50.
A Chinn Chomhairle, I did not intend speaking on this debate, on this part of the debate at all, but unfortunately, the heat of the moment caused me to use a remark which I regret. I was rather galled by a statement made by one of the speakers which prompted me to suggest that, as a way out of a certain difficulty, our friends opposite should use their influence with Mr. Lloyd George to bring about a plebiscite. I wish to withdraw that remark unreservedly. I know that whatever influence our friends opposite have will be used for Ireland's good and not for her difficulty (hear, hear). As I am on my feet I wish to say a few words in support of the nomination of Mr. de Valera, who will be President, I hope, in future of the Republic. I simply wish to remark that the Republic was established by the people's will, and that it still exists; and that being so that a President and Executive are absolutely necessary. I support the nomination of Eamon de Valera because I believe the policy which he has propounded is the right and only policy for this country. I support his nomination also because I believe he is a big man, perhaps the biggest man in Europe this day. He is a man in whom I have always had the greatest confidence. And if I may say a thing that is fairly personal, I remarked during these negotiations when a friend of mine, a reverend clergyman, approached me and hoped that we would not be let down, I told him I was ready to commit suicide the moment Mr. de Valera let us down—and I am. With regard to the suggested plebiscite—it was on that subject that our friend opposite made the remark to-day, and I say that we on this side have no objection what ever to the voice of the people being made articulate. But it must be the people's free choice, and whatever referendum there may be must be between the Republic and this document. When I say free choice I am sure every member here will understand me. I mean the choice made in the absence of any element of compulsion. Then, and then only, will you have the true will of the people and, let the result be what it may, it will be government with the consent of the governed.
When I spoke, before I went away from here, I said I would deal with what I considered the implications of this present motion. Now, whatever we say—whatever any of us say, or whatever any of us think—we cannot conceal our own innermost thoughts from ourselves, and my innermost thought about this is: that in opposing it I am doing a greater service to Eamon de Valera than the people who put his name forward for re-election (hear, hear); and when I mentioned the other day that Eamon de Valera had the same place in my regard now as ever, he knows that I meant what I said. He knows it in his innermost mind, whether the dictates of policy force him to deny it or not. He knows it, and I am satisfied he knows it. Now, rushing a vote, on an issue like this, may be good tactics from the point of view merely of getting a vote, but it is bad tactics from the point of view of the nation. None of us want to see the Republic turned down, and some of us have not turned down the Republic. Some of us stand to work to the best of our ability—to work for the Irish nation, for a free Irish atmosphere, for the Irish people, Irish climate, Irish ideas and Irish ideals. That is the way we stand, the way we always stood, and we will try to stand for it and I will try to stand for it; no matter in what capacity I will try to stand for that ideal. To talk freely, squarely and fairly, that is what I think about this motion. I think about it what I thought and said in private about the plenipotentiaries. I think about it—and the suggestions that have accompanied it from the other side —I think about it as a move like this : that we can go on compromising, and we can go on negotiating, and we can go on giving away the position so long as the others have the authority to tell us afterwards that we have done so. Now, there is going to be an end to that, fairly and squarely. Many people on my side differ from me in my reading of the situation. In my belief the question of a plebiscite is not so simple as some people think (hear, hear). If the President is elected as President, and if he has his Executive, I can say now what my course of action will be. I will simply go down to the people of South Cork and tell them—most of them know me personally and intimately—I will go down to the people of South Cork and tell them that I did my best, that I could bring the thing no further, "and now you can elect a representative who will carry the Irish nation further" (applause). And I will help them in that, and the people in South Cork—the people in the cottages and the farms—they know me well, and I will speak to them as man to man. I will say to them : "perhaps I have failed;" and you know they would never question that I have done my best. I am more concerned about what they will say than about what anybody else will say, because they are the people who know me and who have been with me. I cannot see any way out of this present difficulty except in the manner I have suggested, and I have done my best to be constructive in my suggestions. I have done my best to see the difficulties and the real opinions of the other side. I have no other suggestion to make than the one I have made. And I believe if a Provisional Government is formed as Mr. Griffith intends to form it, I believe that if it is allowed to operate we can operate it on the lines we have mentioned. If it is not allowed to operate, it will be only because of difficulties put in our way. What we want is a chance—a real, genuine, proper chance—to prove our mark. We do not want to have difficulties put in our way by our friends, because you know that one friend, who does not quite agree with the way you are going on, can do you more injury in the fulfilment of your plans than all your enemies (applause). You know that and I know it. I recognise these difficulties. I recognised them from the day we went on the negotiations and I recognised them long before that, and the President knows that. I have discussed situations of this kind with him long before this. He knows that I recognised these difficulties two and three years ago. Whatever may be the tactics of the thing, we ought, at any rate, not to be governed by tactics in an hour of crisis like this. And if the situation has passed into our hands let us take the responsibility of it; and make us answerable for the responsibility of it, and do it in a worthy open way (hear hear). Now, if this motion is put for the President as. President of the Republic I will vote against it. I for one do not know or care what the people on my side will do; and I will vote against it primarily because of this : that it would be putting the President in a false position, and in a position in which he could not act as President of the nation. That must be known to him, and I am not going to put him into that position, or, if he is put into that position by this Dáil, I for one will say in the future what I am saying now—that you placed him in an impossible position; that you give him an impossible job. There is no use in coming back and saying that: "We put you in that position and you did not do the job." We know in our hearts it would be putting him in an impossible position. President of the Republic is a term that is known in many countries. Could the President get up and say: "Yes! I will be President of this nation, I will carry it on without interference from any other nation"? Could he say: "I will carry on our finance, I will establish our currency"? Could he say: "I will go on with the army, I will build submarines, I will build battleships, so that no nation will interfere with us"? Let us be honest with ourselves. We know we will be putting him in an impossible position, and I will not put him in an impossible position if I can help it in any way (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle, agus a lucht na Dála, ba mhaith liom a chur i gcuimhne dhíbh go ndubhart i dtosach go raibh socair agam gan aon rud do rá a chuirfeadh fearg ar éinne ach nár bhfoláir dom an fhírinne d'innsint. Tá socair agam anois gan aon rud a rá a chuirfeadh fearg ar éinne ach táim chun an fhírinne d'innsint agus ní dóigh liom go gcuirfe sé fearg ar éinne. It will be just as well for me to say at the start, having regard to what occurred on Saturday night, that I have decided to avoid saying anything of a contentious nature. I must, however, refer briefly to what occurred on Saturday night. Mr. Michael Collins might very well say "Save me from my friends." What occurred on Saturday would never have occurred only for Mr. Collins' friends. His friend, Mr. Arthur Griffith, made a statement in his opening speech here which showed me, so far as my understanding went anyway, that an attempt was being made to sway the votes in this Dáil, and possibly the votes of the Irish people when the matter came before them, by a statement, in connection with Mr. Michael Collins, which could not be truly said about anybody—that he had won the war. It could not be said truly that any one man won the war. It has not been won at all. I may tell you I am in a position to know, certainly as well as most people, and better than nearly all, that the men mostly responsible for bringing us to the invincible position we held before this Treaty was signed are men whose names, if I mentioned them here would not be known. I would ask you now not to be deceived by anything that takes place here. I knew nothing about political tactics until the question of this Treaty came up. I have seen too much of them, goodness knows, since, and I hope to heavens I will see no more of them, no matter how we finish this. We were one party before this occurred and, in God's name, let us be one party after it, in the Dáil anyway. You have all known that on many—too many—occasions, when Ireland or her representatives trusted England that Ireland was deceived. I can give you plenty of historical references starting from Sarsfield, the Treaty of Limerick, the Volunteers of 1782, not that I agree with Sarsfield's policy or Grattan's policy or any of these policies; I just bring them before you to show you cannot depend on England's word or the word of English statesmen. If the English people had a say in this thing, I am perfectly sure they would accept the offer we made them. It is English politicians and English statesmen whom we cannot trust. I am perfectly satisfied that the five men who signed this document thought that they did the best thing for Ireland. That is all right; that is their own opinion. Certainly, if they think they can absolutely rely on the word of Mr. Lloyd George and his friends they are not as sensible men as I took them to be.
Is it not better to have a signed cheque than an unsigned cheque?
Yes, but the money might not be in the bank after you endorsing the cheque (applause).
Even so you cannot put it there at all if your cheque is unsigned (applause).
Let us safeguard ourselves in any case—and this is a means of doing it. You say that in re-electing the President, by re-electing President de Valera, we put him in a false position. We do nothing of the kind. We have been given a mandate by the electors. That mandate, as you will admit, was to maintain the Republic. Until we go before the electors again and they turn us down, must not we carry out our mandate? Is not that so? We all know, prior to the 1918 Elections, what sagacity resolutions, what confidence resolutions meant. They were pouring in, snowball fashion, from all over the country, and when the people in whose favour these resolutions were made out and sent up to Dublin came before the electorate, do you not know what the electorate did with them? In spite of what has happened, and the resolutions from public bodies—we do not know that those public bodies speak for the country —the electorate gave us a mandate, anyway, and we have to carry out that mandate, until we go before them again and they say: "We want to change that mandate."
On the previous occasion they were going for the unsigned cheque.
In any case they have to be satisfied, and they are not such fools as some people are. When it comes before them they will give their decision on that. We must carry out our mandate. There is only one man in Ireland who can do that properly, and when we come to make a satisfactory arrangement with England, one that the Dáil before the sixth December would have been satisfied with unanimously, the only one man who can deliver the goods is Eamon de Valera (applause). Now, we are not putting him in a false position by re-electing him. You people, we do not want to interfere with you. You may go ahead with your Treaty and your Southern Parliament, but as far as we are concerned we are not going to co-operate with you, but we are not going to hamper you. Go ahead, but we are certainly going to see, so far as we can help it, that Dáil Eireann remains in existence until the electorate turns it down (hear, hear). There is only one man who can lead us properly and keep us all together. If Eamon de Valera did not happen to be President who would have kept Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and myself together? (laughter).
That is true. It was not to-day or yesterday it started.
I only wish to God we could be brought together again under his leadership. I only wish it was possible.
It is not, though.
Not until Saturday night's work has been undone, and with the help of God and the Irish electorate it will be undone. You have asked a question as to how President de Valera is going to function with his Executive, to build submarines, et cetera. We did it before and I do not see why we should not do it again.
We never built a submarine.
Let us, at least, have the goodwill of the people who are in favour of the action we have taken on this Treaty. Do not try to interfere with those people and we will not interfere with you. Go ahead, you will not have our co-operation. We cannot do it on principle, but we will not interfere with you, provided you do nothing that infringes on our principles; but we are going to carry out the mandate given us by the electorate. One of your speakers here to-day said he thought that after Saturday we had come to the parting of the ways. Deputy Sears of County Mayo conveyed that you could not agree with us in what we are doing—then you can clear out. There is no offence in tended. Let us go ahead and run the Republic (hear, hear). I will be satisfied for one when an election comes along. I am going to fight it. I will be perfectly satisfied if the Irish people tell us that they want to become British subjects and "you Republicans can go and mind your own business" (laughter and applause).
I would like to say one thing. There is no one man and no group of men can deliver the Irish nation to anybody (hear, hear).
As one who voted against this Treaty at the Public Session, I admitted in the course of my remarks I knew the majority of those who voted for the Treaty were out for the ultimate Republic. And it was only on that consideration alone that many of those who were fundamentally opposed to the Treaty bowed to the circumstances that compelled them to vote for it. The ultimate Republic is the concern of those too, and also the fact I trust they will have thought of this point for it is their concern—if the Treaty is the bird in hand they will want to see that it is well caged. They will also want to see that the Republic will not be disestablished until after the Treaty proposals are embodied in some definite form, and a Constitution set up, so that the people may ultimately decide on some clear basis. At present I am placing myself in the position of one who might have bowed to the force of circumstances and voted for the Treaty. That we do not throw away what we actually have, a Government of the Irish Republic, for what we are expecting from the Treaty proposals is a very fair argument. So we must hold ourselves in readiness for any possible treachery on the part of the enemy. The majority side have said that it will be their aim and object to make for the creation of circumstances towards the ultimate end of an Irish Republic. We may go on a different road, but we will also try to set up circumstances that will make for the ultimate end of an Irish Republic. When I see my way, when the circumstances that they create are such, when I think I can help to achieve that end of an Irish Republic, I will help them. Now, the circumstances, what are they? At the present time a large portion, I will be quite fair, of the army are against this Treaty. The point of view that I maintain is that rather than have it disbanded we must keep it united. I will make a suggestion later on as to how it can be maintained united. The army overwhelmingly are out for the ultimate Republic, and I maintain that they would be more unitedly prepared to continue under the direction of a Minister of Defence chosen from the minority side as being the one that had the Republican interests more immediately in view. A President and Cabinet from the majority side might, and could do so if elected, give guarantees that they would safeguard the interests of the Republic in the meantime, but these guarantees will not inspire the same confidence and respect. It is stated that if President de Valera is elected President of this Assembly it would be a ridiculous position to place him in. I think it would be a much more ridiculous position for the same body of men on one hand to set up a Provisional Government and, at the same time, to act as the Government of Dáil Eireann. I remind them that it is their duty to stand by the latter until the Free State Government is ready in all its details. The suggestion I make is this: that the majority party go ahead with their work in setting up the Provisional Government and that they do not interfere with the Dáil in its present functions, with the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Finance, et cetera. Secondly, that they should go ahead with the work of making arrangements for the withdrawal of the English troops with the English Government, and similarly with the police. On the other hand they could simply pass an Act to maintain peace, law and order when these troops are gone. They could back up their arguments with the English members by stating such. They are a majority in the House and they can do that. Thus the Dáil as a Republiean body will not cease to function until and when the Treaty proposals are properly embodied in a Constitution, and the possibility of treachery on the part of the English Government has not manifested itself. They could, from the point of view of the majority vote, cause the Dáil to again cease its functions and allow the people by popular election to disestablish the Dáil as a Republican Parliament. That is a square basis to put before the people.
When I came into the Dáil this morning and President de Valera handed in his resignation I thought he was doing the biggest thing of his life, but when President de Valera demanded re-election——
I did not demand re-election.
When he was put forward why did he not say he would not go forward? I say that he did not do the biggest thing of his life. We sought peace last week; we meant peace; we genuinely looked for peace; and this very suggestion was turned down by the President. I am speaking fair truths. The Treaty went out and the President put up a suggestion which he turned down the previous week.
Not the exact words, but the same thing.
I was asked a question about our policy and I state it again. I say that, as I put myself at the disposal of the country in the past in the belief that I could help the country, I am willing to do so now.
We, on Saturday last, accepted the Free State, like it or like it not. We do not like it. We took it because we thought it was the best we could get. We are going to work the Free State, and we are not going to have a Punch and Judy show with a Republican Government moving behind us. We are going to create a strong Government, and if the other side want to do a statesment-like thing, and the best thing for Ireland, let them assist us as far as they can without committing themselves to the Free State.
It cannot be done.
Then let the President withdraw his resignation.
That is not logic.
I am just as logical as you are. The people of this country want a government of some sort. They have—signed, sealed and delivered—a Treaty that gives them a government. They have as an alternative a scrap of paper, and I would not like to see my dog shot for the difference between the two of them (laughter). Go down to the country and ask them what they think about it. What will happen? I say this is what will happen and what must happen. I told a private meeting of our supporters yesterday when we discussed this, that if I was the sole man in this Dáil I would vote against President de Valera being re-elected and because one party or another must carry on the government. We would have the chief of a party that England would not work with (applause). Are we to make him our Chief Executive Officer and go across and ask England to evacuate Ireland? Are we to bring back a man who will never work this Treaty? That is the position, and I do not think the English Government is likely to accept that position. We are taking this Treaty for what is best in it and we mean to work it—and the only way to work it is by having one government. The man who should be the head of this government is the head of the majority party in this Dáil. We cannot take a man, the Chief of the opposite party, if we have to part company with him on essentials. We cannot go along and say "we work the Republic only, go and ask England to evacuate Ireland." They won't do it, and they would be fools if they did.
The last speaker argued very well against himself. He has told us he would not shoot his dog for the difference between the two. At the same time we are parting on essentials. The first thing I would like to bring before this Assembly is that we cannot disestablish the Republic, and if we do not elect the President and have a Republic here to-day, we are trying to disestablish this. It is ultra vires. The people of Ireland can alone disestablish the Republic which has been established by them. According to the Articles of Agreement those who voted for the Treaty and carried the resolution on Saturday night have merely to call together the members elected for the Southern Parliament to establish their Provisional Government. Let them call this assembly together, the members elected for the Southern Parliament, and let them establish their Provisional Government; and in doing that they have the assurance of the other party that they will not be interfered with. Now, they are out to do the best for Ireland and we are out to do the best for Ireland. And they can do the best for Ireland by carrying out the Articles of the Treaty in calling together this meeting of the elected members of the Southern Parliament and establishing the Provisional Government and, at the same time, leaving the Government that was established by the will of the people intact, leaving that Government where it is until such time as it is disestablished by the will of the Irish people. By leaving the Republican Government with its President as it is, those on the side of the Treaty will have the best guarantee that they will get the best and most out of this Treaty, which has been signed in London. We have always heard that what England gave away in her hour of weakness she would take away in her hour of strength. I say that those who honestly supported the Treaty in the belief that they were doing the best for Ireland will be doing the best for Ireland and doing the best for the Treaty by not attempting to disestablish the Republican Government. They will have the assurance, support and guarantee of this Government that England will not betray us again. If the Republic is disestablished then you will have chaos; then you will have the parting of the ways indeed. But I would ask you not to throw away this weapon which has brought us so far—this weapon of the Republican Government, of the Army of the Republic, which has brought us so far along the road to victory—I would ask you not to throw it away to the English wolves. If you disestablish the Republic that is what it amounts to. Do not throw it away, at any rate until you get the price for throwing it away, and the price that is being offered is the Treaty signed in London. That Treaty is not delivered. It is signed. And until such time as it is delivered do not throw away what you have won to the English wolves. In the ordinary course, when your Provisional Government is functioning and the country is in its normal condition, you can take the will of the people and let them decide whether they will disestablish the Republican Government or establish the Free State. Finally, when the will of the people is being taken at the General Election, we on the other side of the Treaty will fight the Treatyites—the pro-Treaty members at that election on the question of the Republic, but until such time as that comes about, for Heaven's sake do not throw away this opportunity, do not fling away what you have won by the fruits of the sacrifices that have been made, by disestablishing the Government of the Republic. It is not a question of personalities; it is not a question of Mr. de Valera and Mr. Griffith and Mr. Collins. It is a question of the nation, and each side of us profess sincerely to be doing what we consider the best in the interests of the nation. And I put it to you who have supported the Treaty and opposed the election of the President, that what I have put before you is what will prove to be the best in the interests of Ireland and in the interests of the ultimate goal we ought to have—the ultimate goal of absolute freedom (applause).
A Chinn Chomhairle, the last speaker has asked us not to dissipate our forces in one breath, and in the next he says we should continue here in Ireland the Government of the Irish Republic side by side with the new Government that would be set up for Saorstát na hEireann. Does anybody seriously tell me that is not dissipating our forces? If you say to the new Government: "Do not interfere with the Departments that have been set up." Take, for instance, that very big controlling department, the Local Government Department. Does anybody seriously tell me that the Local Government bodies of this country will still continue to function in the in-and-out way that has helped to bring us to the present position? And does anybody seriously tell me that we will not be dissipating our forces by having a Local Government Board for the Free State and a Local Government Board for the Republic? There must be a clash. People have sniggered at the resolutions passed by the local bodies all over Ireland almost unanimously. They all have declared—or, at least, ninety per cent. of them—in favour of the Treaty. There is one instance of the confusion that those people on the other side wish to throw us into. They tell us it will not be dissipating our forces and will make for more strength in the face of the enemy. The only way for this nation to make for strength, to get their last ounce out of this Treaty, is to back up the decision that this National Assembly came to on Saturday night when they decided to accept this Treaty, to work and get every ounce out of it. We are told by some of the speakers that we will be dismantling our machinery by not carrying on the Republican Government. I absolutely deny that we would be dismantling our machinery. I say we will be putting in up-to-date machinery to protect the interests of Ireland in working the Treaty, when we get control of the Government of this country in reality, not on paper or in theory, and dig into the many Government departments of this country, and when we are in position to have our army better equipped than it is to-day. Why should we consider that it will be a source of greater strength to have the Volunteers as they are to-day, smuggling in arms and smuggling in Thompsons? Why do you think it will be greater strength when we can buy them in the open market and they have the authority of the Irish people behind them? We will be in a position to get the last ounce out of this Treaty. If, even now, at the eleventh hour, those who have been opposed to the Treaty would look at it in a plain, practical commonsense manner as the man in the street looks at it, all would be well. Let them not be here, as the President of the Delegation has said, as if they were playing a game of chess, and if such and such would be a good move. You can get the last ounce out of this Treaty only in one way and that is to back up unitedly the decision you came to on Saturday night. I am glad to hear the tone of some of the speeches that have been made on the opposite side to-day. They say they do not wish to hamper the new Government in Ireland and that they wish to see the last ounce got out of this Treaty. I appeal to them, to their better nature, to look at things as reasonable sensible men, not as men tracing shadows, but as men grasping realities and dealing with political facts. I appeal to them to put their shoulder to our shoulder, to back us up and see that the last ounce is got out of this. The proposal before us to-day, of re-electing President de Valera, will, to my mind, if carried, make for absolute chaos in the country. I oppose it then with all my might and I appeal to the President himself to let his better nature get uppermost in him and let him stand down in the interests of the nation (laughter).
I rise to support the nomination of President de Valera for re-election, and certainly I am very happy to see we all enjoyed our dinner (laughter) and that a better spirit is developing in Dáil Eireann. I think the gentlemen on the other side should be very happy this evening that the issue is so clearly knit. On Saturday, by a very small majority, you overthrew the policy of the President of this Assembly, and to-day, following the recognised constitutional practice, the President resigned his office. It is up to the men on the other side who, up to to-day at any rate, have fought for the Treaty with the same courage and the same dash as they fought in the fight for the Republic, and I think they have a unique opportunity to carry on in this same spirit and put a man up who is in favour of their policy against Eamon de Valera. I am sure, and I speak from intimate knowledge of our late President, that his personality has never been intruded in this fight. Everything he did during his term of office was for Ireland and not for de Valera. I have had very intimate intercourse with him, and particularly outside Ireland. And I saw him in situations such as this, and never during the course of a very difficult time in America, did he waver in the tightest place. We are on one side and you are on the other side. You have a majority of this House. Accept your responsibility. If you throw out the man on this side by the vote, we are in honour bound to see to it that you receive from us all the resources that have been at the command of Dáil Eireann. I say the issue is knit. All we ask is that we be allowed to hold to our opinions. If you join issue now on this and put someone up in opposition Ireland will be happy with the result of these proceedings. You cannot have it both ways. If de Valera cannot receive two hundred votes, in one breath you cannot say that the nation cannot do without him. I say to our friends to join issue and have a straight vote, for or against. And then we will, on the first available opportunity, go before the Irish people and seek a further mandate for the Irish Republic, and if they in their wisdom decide against us we will be only too happy to obey.
It strikes me that we are in a very peculiar position indeed. Mr. Boland wants one Government, and he suggests that the other side set up another Government. The English Government is here yet, and there is a Government in Ulster. Where are we going to be landed in a few days? We gave a vote on Saturday and we decided this Treaty should be, at least, approved, and I hope it will be ratified. At the same time I think it is the duty of every man who voted for the Treaty that the majority should elect a Government in this case. It is the constitutional way to do things and I am greatly surprised that President de Valera has allowed himself to be put forward in this fashion. I think if his own personal views were taken on the subject that he would gladly allow the people in the majority to carry on the Government, and that they should watch to see that Lloyd George should not get on the inside of them. The Treaty should get a chance, and if the majority should not get the best out of this Treaty, I for one would kick them out and turn to the other side and see that they formed a Government. There should be no doubt about it. The President could see that the majority should do what they propose to do, and see that the country is cleared of British troops in the shortest possible time. If this is done we can see that the Treaty is carried into effect; and if it is not done we will be east into war. I am extremely sorry I will have to east my vote in this case against Mr. de Valera.
A Chinn Chomhairle, there is one point that is not properly touched on in this debate and it is this: a question was asked Mr. de Valera with regard to his action if he was elected again—with regard to the formation of a Cabinet—and he definitely stated that there could be no question of a majority Cabinet or a coalition Cabinet. Therefore, what we are asked to do is to place the control of the services of Dáil Eireann, finance, the army, et cetera, at the disposal, not merely of Mr. de Valera, but of a minority party which, on its own admission, is not only a minority in Dáil Eireann, but a small minority—at the present time, at all events—of the people of Ireland. Was ever such a proposition put up before a body of sane, sensible people? That, we are told, is to be done in the interests of Ireland. Does this mean he is going to see that Mr. Lloyd George carries out his undertaking? It seems to me to be the best way to ensure that Mr. Lloyd George would not carry out his undertaking. It is putting it to him not to do it. There is no man or woman who does not urgently desire to have the services of Mr. de Valera for Ireland, but we do not want to have this man, whom we have served and followed, simply as a means of wreeking the Treaty, for that is what it amounts to. That is what it amounts to, and you know it well. Everyone of you know it in your hearts and souls (applause). Having failed to carry the Treaty you want to wreck it in this way, and the man who proposed his re-election was no friend of Mr. de Valera.
Do you think I would take office admitting that would he sought to be done?
In common with a lot of people in this matter I am sorry that his judgment in this case is at fault. We are all sorry, but I must say what I think as an honest straight man. I believe, and I am sure I am right, that a great many persons, at all events, think it is a despicable thing for one to use any means to jeopardise the Treaty. Let them not pretend that it is in the interests of unity; that is simply to wreck the Treaty and nothing else. That is the reason why I shall have to vote against the man whom I honour and respect; simply in order not to have him put in a false and contemptible position.
There are a few suggestions I would like to put to both sides. I am one of those who did not vote for the Treaty, but against chaos; and to put an issue like this to the country again, you want to have a repetition of what occurred in the Parnell split. You have seen it here in the Dáil, and it will be intensified a hundred-fold throughout the country. Whether you elect Mr. de Valera again or reject him, do not put anything to the country at present; let the country settle down. Let the tension subside before this is put to the country. I cannot see Mr. de Valera's policy at the moment. I would like to be with him, it is my natural place, but I cannot see his policy now. I try to look at the situation as it is, not as we would like to have it. The situation is this: the Treaty was signed, it was a fait accompli, and we must try to make the best of it. That is the situation that presents itself. If it is possible to get back to the Republic I would like to see it; and if President de Valera is elected he is a greater man than I thought he was, and I thought he was a very great man, and I still think so.
Before you put the vote there are some words I would like to say. On Saturday night, after a long discussion, this Treaty was approved. Now, to-day a proposal comes forward which, if carried, in effect means a recision of that decision. It is put forward to us in a guise that is not straight. It is intended to sway the votes by appealing to the emotionalism of the members here who feel, and rightly feel, all the good services that President de Valera has done his country. It was said on the other side that this ought not to be a question of personalities. Very well. If it ought not to be a question of personalities, President de Valera when he resigned his position should not have gone forward. Some man on this side should have gone forward, because the issue sought to be made is between President de Valera and us, and personally, no man on our side wishes to vote against President de Valera. I say, therefore, it is a political manœuvre to get round the Treaty, and that the people who are using President de Valera for that manœuvre know what they are doing. We know what they are doing. We approved the Treaty on Saturday evening and by a side wind we get round it on Monday. What is going to happen the reputation of the country for commonsense and honour? There was no necessity for him to resign. We suggested that Dáil Eireann might continue until the Free State election came into effect. There is no necessity for him to resign to-day. His resignation and going up again for re-election is simply an attempt to wreck this Treaty.
It must be understood as that. Everyone knows how difficult it is for a man personally to vote against President de Valera. I do not understand this proposal. There was a proposal made from our side in the interests of unity. I think it would have helped unity. At all events it was rejected by the other side, and the proposal from the other side now is to constitute two Governments in the country. Are we to have two sets of Ministers for all the departments? If there are, there will be chaos of the worst kind. If I am mistaken about the interpretation I put upon it I am quite willing to discuss the matter with President de Valera. As it stands it is this: the proposal put forward is not bona-fide. It is put forward to use the personality of Mr. de Valera to wreek this Treaty. Therefore I shall vote against it with the greatest regret. It is not with an easy heart I shall do it, because I have worked with President de Valera for years and I regard him as a dear friend, and I do it only in the vital interests of the country. It is most unfair to this Assembly that the personality of Mr. de Valera should be used as it is being used (hear, hear).
I say it is put forward in good faith. It is put forward by myself. I put forward my resignation as a constitutional question, and the natural thing would be for the majority party to propose a President. It is the proper thing to do, the proper constitutional thing. Elect your President. I cannot be in a position of responsibility without having power to act. In allowing my name to be put forward the idea I have at the back of my mind is mainly this: that there was still a reserve there—following the idea why I did not go to London—the reserve for the nation is still there, the Republican forces would still be there. Dublin Castle has been functioning in some sort of a way. We have tried to prevent it from working. If the Provisional Government goes to Dublin Castle and takes on the functioning we will not interfere with them. Let them deal with their Government as they please. Dáil Eireann is here and its action with reference to the Provisional Government will be determined by any arrangement that this House will make.
Does not that imply there is going to be two sets of Governments with two sets of departments?
Not necessarily. There is no reason why this House should not make an arrangement with regard to the vital departments so that, if there was anything going wrong, we would have our forces intact as before. They can be preserved for the Republic, as, for instance, the Ministry of Local Government —I have no doubt we can conceive a means of dealing with these departments. This is a matter I would have to go into carefully. I regard the Provisional Government as only Dublin Castle functioning by permission for the moment.
Is not this Provisional Government a Constitutional Government to draw up a Constitution to carry on all the functions of the country? In any case, Dáil Eireann, which was established by the will of the Irish people, is there until it is disestablished, by the Irish people. It is there and can not cease to function.
The Provisional Government must take over the functions of the Government of this country pending the setting up of the Free State Government.
From Dublin Castle.
Any way you please.
Will not the same difficulty arise if a majority candidate is returned?
Is it absolutely essential that the Provisional Government should be set up by Dáil Eireann? Does not Article 17 of the Articles of the Treaty state:
"By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the period which must elapse between the date hereof and the constitution of a Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith, steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and for constituting a Provisional Government; and the British Government shall take the steps necessary to transfer to such Provisional Government the powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties, provided that every member of such Provisional Government shall have signified in writing his or her acceptance of this instrument. But this arrangement shall not continue in force beyond the expiration of twelve months from the date hereof."
Would it not be possible for the Chairman of the Delegation to ask those who voted for the acceptance of this Treaty to meet the other members elected for Southern Ireland, to ask them to set up a Provisional Government and still leave the Dáil to set up its own Republican Government? I am only asking that because it affords a way out.
With regard to what the President said about departments it requires a reply, and I think I should give the reply. The President has spoken twice and I suppose I may speak twice.
Are you President or equal to him?
If the President makes a point which, I think, requires a reply——
I do not make any point.
In my opinion the proceedings here this afternoon have deprived us of the possibility of having any kind of unity—any kind, not only of unity, but of having Ireland for the Irish. There is no doubt about it that the proceedings of this afternoon, whatever the result of the vote is, do constitute a defeat of the Treaty.
On a point of order, I suggest as no other candidate has been proposed that the President has been elected unanimously (applause).
Well, I am voting against.
If this side does not put forward any other candidate Mr. de Valera is elected unanimously.
I cannot, naturally, stand for that.
I will move an amendment if you allow me, a Chinn Chomhairle.
On a point of order, while there is no amendment and no one else nominated, I suggest that if the other side do not see their way to nominate anybody that they vote for or against the motion. Every man is entitled to vote for or against, even if there is no other proposition.
My amendment is this: that this House ask Mr. Griffith to form a Provisional Executive.
I second that motion. I have great pleasure in seconding it, but in doing so I must say that I regard with extreme regret the attitude of those people who are out to wreck the Treaty, or to do the work of wrecking. I have listened to this debate without saying anything. I have listened carefully to see if there was one man on the opposite side who would have courage enough to stand up and say: "Our duty is, once a decision has been arrived at by this Sovereign Assembly, to loyally support that decision." I find there is not a man with the courage to do it. Standing in the dock before British authorities I declared that this Government was the Sovereign Government of Ireland and that its decision was binding on the Irish people. That decision taken on Saturday evening is a binding decision upon the Irish people and upon every man here, and every man knows it, and any attempt to flout that decision—well, if this is government, if this is law and order, I was the damnedest fool that ever stood in a dock (applause).
Is that motion in order?
I think this motion will have to be taken separately after taking the vote on the other motion. It is not an amendment to the one before us. The motion you are going to vote upon is this: "That Mr. de Valera be re-elected President of the Irish Republic."
Article 2 of the Constitution is that all Executive powers shall be vested in the members for the time being of the Cabinet:
"(b) The Cabinet shall consist of the President who shall also be the Prime Minister and be elected by Dáil Eireann, and six Executive officers, namely,"—so and so—"each of whom the President shall nominate and shall have power to dismiss."
The President in this case means the President of the Ministry. I was present—and so was Gavan Duffy—when this matter was discussed, and it was clearly understood in this meeting of the Dáil in January, 1919, that it would be highly undemocratic for the Dáil to elect a President of the Republic. That would be solely and entirely the duty of the Irish people, and for that reason we made it clearly understood that the President simply means President of the Cabinet and that alone.
I am voting against it. I want, at the same time, to register a protest. I am not going to make a speech. We have no power here to elect a President of the Republic. The people of Ireland can elect their President. The point is this: I have no power as a representative man here to say who can be President of the Irish Republic. I am voting against the resolution.
A poll was then taken by Mr. Diarmuid O'Hegarty, Secretary of An Dáil, when the voting was:
For the re-election of President de Valera 58
The following are the names of those who voted:
Pól O Geallagáin
Seumas O Lonnáin
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 Uí Cheallacháin
M. P. Colivet
Seán O Ceallaigh
Dr. O Cruadhlaoich
Tomás O Deirg
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
Mícheál O Coileáin
Art O Gríobhtha
Seán Mac Giolla Ríogh
Liam T. Mac Cosgair
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
Caoimhghin O hUigínn
Seosamh O Loingsigh
Dr. Risteárd O hAodha
Liam O hAodha
Seán Mac Eoin
Lorcán O Roibín
Eamon O Dúgáin
Peadar O hAodha
Seumas O Murchadha
Saerbhreathach Mac Cionaith
Seosamh Mac Ghiolla Bhrighde
Liam Mac Sioghuird
Domhnall O Ruairc
Earnán de Blaghd
Eoin O Dubhthaigh
Alasdar Mac Cába
Seumas de Búrca
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
Mícháel O hAodha
when his name was called during the poll, said: "I will not vote."
, on being called to vote, answered: "I refuse to plunge my country into fratricidal strife." (Cries of "Vote!")
I declare the resolution lost.
Before another word is spoken I want to say: I want the Deputies here to know, and all Ireland to know, that this vote is not to be taken as against President de Valera (applause). It is a vote to help the Treaty, and I want to say now that there is scarcely a man I have ever met in my life that I have more love and respect for than President de Valera. I am thoroughly sorry to see him placed in such a position. We want him with us.
rose to speak.
(who rose amidst cries of "Order!"): Look here, Dev. will not speak until I have spoken ("Order!"). He will not. I voted, not for personalities, but for my country. Dev. has been made a tool of and I am sorry for it.
I want to assure everybody on the other side that it was not a trick. That was my own definite way of doing the right thing for Ireland. I tell you that from my heart. I did it because I felt that it was still the best way to keep that discipline which we had in the past. I did it because, as I said, that I can, in so far as the principal resources of the Republic are concerned —I would conserve them for the Republic. I do not think any side would think that I would take a mean advantage. I regard the Provisional Government as Dublin Castle for the moment—as Castle Government. They will take over the machinery, but we should not scrap our machinery before they take theirs. That was the only reason why I allowed my name to go forward. Now, I think the right thing has been done, that the people who are responsible have done the right thing, and therefore I hope that nobody will talk of fratricidal strife. That is all nonsense. We have got a nation that knows how to conduct itself. As far as I can on this side it will be our policy always. When the Volunteers split in Donnybrook—it was at the time of the rejoicings about the Home Rule Bill. We split and I went out in that Hall in which I had been elected unanimously as Captain. I went out with a small majority and I said: "You will want us to get that Home Rule Bill yet. And when you want us we will be there." I tell you now: you will want us yet.
We want you now.
Unfortunately, on the Treaty we cannot co-operate, you acting in this case for the majority—and I suppose for Ireland—have to do certain work. Even to get through that portion of the work you will need us. We will be there with you against any outside enemy at any time (applause). Meantime you must simply regard us as an auxiliary army with a certain objective, which is the complete independence of Ireland. Every step which we can believe that you are taking to help in that road we will feel it our duty to go behind you, in so long as we are not committing ourselves or our principles in co-operating. You know how hard I was working for peace, and how I was trying to prepare this Dáil, to try if we were able, having gone to the furthest limit we could go. I knew there would be a big minority against it and I would be glad to see the minority. I am against this Treaty on one basis only: that we are signing our names to a promise we cannot keep. It is beyond the nature of men and women and they cannot keep it. Some people talk of trenches and that we had got over other trenches. What is the good of having trenches if you are going to put up barbed wire entanglements to keep you from getting out of them? I would rather try to risk the other trench. The same spirit would have carried us on to the end. I am against you on principle. And I believe that to get the best out of that Treaty you need us in a solid, compact body. We will keep in a solid compact body. We will not interfere with you except when we find that you are going to do something that will definitely injure the Irish nation. And if we have two evils to choose from I hope it will be the lesser of the two, in the best interests of the Irish nation, that we will choose.
That is the first statesmanlike speech I have heard from those against the Treaty (cries of "Order!"). My respect for the President is one hundred and fifty per cent. higher than ever it has been before.
This goes in as an independent motion. I wonder what is its position now? Is it on the Orders of the day?
It is not on the Orders of the Day.
Does it go on as an independent motion?
That is the only way in which it could go on. It can only go forward by consent.
It is a motion of national importance which can be taken by you with the consent of ten Deputies, under Standing Order 5.