I move "That a decree be passed having for its object the admission of Irish women to the Parliamentary Franchise on the same terms as Irish men." Ba mhaith liom an rún so do chuir os bhúr gcomhair. The women did their own part in the war during the last five years and I think they should be given the franchise now and I hope there is no Teachta here against it. The brave men who put their names to the proclamation of the Irish Republic in Easter Week wanted to put the men and women on the same footing on the voting register. I feel that I have not been treated fairly on this motion. This is the Bill which I now rise to propose.

REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE BILL MEMORANDUM.—This Bill has for its object the admission of Irish women to the Parliamentary franchise on the same terms as Irish men.

REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE A.D. 1922—A Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1918.

Be it enacted by Dáil Éireann by and with the authority of the Sovereign people and with the consent of the Honourable President, as follows:—


1.—For Section one, and sub-section (1) of section 4, of the Representation of the People Act 1918 (herein called the principal Act) the following Section shall be substituted:—

"1.—(1) A person whether male or female shall be entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector for a Constituency (other than a University constituency) if such person has attained the age of 21 years and is not subject to any legal incapacity, and:—(a) has the requisite residence qualification or (b) has the requisite business premises qualification.

"2.—A person in order to have the requisite residence qualification or business premises qualification for constituency

"(a) Must on the last day of the qualifying period be residing in premises in the constituency or occupying business premises in the constituency as the case may be; and

"(b) Must during the whole of the qualifying period have resided in premises, or occupied business premises as the case may be, in the constituency, or in another constituency within the same Parliamentary Borough or Parliamentary County, or within a Parliamentary Borough or Parliamentary County contiguous to that Borough or County or separated from that Borough or County by water not exceeding at the nearest point six miles in breadth measured in the case of tidal water from low-water mark.

"3.—The expression business premises in this section means land or other premises of the yearly value of not less than Ten Pounds occupied for the purpose of the business, profession or trade of the person to be registered."

For Section two and sub-section (2) of section four of the principal Act the following section shall be substituted:—

"2.—A person whether male or female shall be entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector for a University constituency if such person has attained the age of twenty-one years and is not subject to any legal incapacity and has received a degree (other than an honorary degree) at any University forming or forming part of the Constituency."

Sub-section (1) of section 8 of the principal Act shall have effect as if the following words were substituted therefor:

"Every person registered as a Parliamentary elector for any constituency shall while so registered (and in the case of a woman notwithstanding sex or marriage) be entitled to vote at an election of a member to serve in Parliament for that Constituency but a person shall not vote at a general election for more than one constituency for which such person is registered by virtue of a residence qualification or for more than one Constituency for which such person is registered by virtue of other qualifications of whatever kind."

Sub-section (11) (a) of Section forty-four of the principal Act shall have effect as if the following words were substituted therefor:—

"The qualifying period shall be a period of six months ending on the 15th day of March and including that day."


(1) A register of electors (under this Act) shall be prepared in this and in every succeeding year and shall be made out for the qualifying period ending on the fifteenth day of March in each year.

(2) The register shall come into force on the commencement of the fifteenth day of June in each year and remain in force until the fifteenth day of June in the next following year.

(3) If for any reason the registration officer fails to compile a fresh yearly register for his area or any part of his area the register in force at the time when the fresh register should have come into force shall continue to operate as the register for the area or part of an area in respect of which default has been made. Sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of section eleven and sub-section (11) (b) of section forty-four of the principal Act shall be modified accordingly.

The registration dates shall be the dates specified in the second column of Part One of the Schedule to this Act, and the documents specified in Part Two of that Schedule shall be kept published until the dates specified in the second column of that part of that Schedule.

The Representation of the People Act 1918 and all Acts incorporated therewith and Orders made thereunder shall have effect save as hereinbefore provided and also subject to the following modifications:

(1) References to the Parliament and to the House of Commons and House of Lords shall be construed as references to Dáil Éireann.

(2) References to the United Kingdom shall be construed as references to Ireland save where the provision of the Statute or order or any special enactments relating solely to Ireland are repugnant to such construction.

(3) References to persons and officers shall be construed as references to persons and officers holding corresponding or the like positions under the authority or with the concurrence of Dáil Éireann.

(4) References to Councils Courts Boards or Offices shall be construed as references to corresponding or the like councils, courts boards or offices acting or maintained under the authority or with the concurrence of Dáil Éireann.

This Act may be cited as the Representation of the People Act, 1922.






End of Qualifying Period

15 March

Publication of Electors Lists

1 April

Last Day for Objections to Electors Lists

15 April

Last Day for Claims

18 April

Last Day for Claims as Absent Voters

18 April

Last Day for Notification of desire by Naval or Military Voter not to be placed on Absent Voters' List

18 April

Publication of List of Objections to Electors Lists

21 April

Publication of List of Claimants

24 April

Last Day for Objections to Claimants

5 May

Last Day for Claims by Out Voters

5 May

Publication of Lists of Objections to Claimants (as soon as practicable after)

5 May

Register comes into force

15 June





Electors Lists

18 April

Notices as to mode of making Claims and Objections

6 May

Corrupt and Illegal Practices Lists

18 April

List of Claimants

6 May

List of Persons to whose Registration Notice of Objection has been given

6 May

List of Claimants to whose Registration Notice of Objection has been given

14th day after publication


Date of coming into force of next Register

The discussion concerning other items on the Agenda has prejudiced the matter beforehand and has contributed to give the measure a Party tone and I feel it is useless to make any statement about my sincerity here. Still I want to assure you, a Chinn Comhairle, that I am acting in good faith in this matter, and in sincerity. One Teachta remarked in Tuesday's discussion that I could not have the measure very much at heart since I only sent in notice of motion at the last moment. The delay could be satisfactorily explained but I do not want to weary you. I want you to understand however that the conclusion that the Teachta came to is not correct. I have the cause very much at heart. I was in a Suffrage Society ten years ago. It is not a measure or cause I am espousing to-day for Party purposes. The Bill, copies of which in English have been supplied to the members, has for its object the admission of these women for the first time as Irishwomen to the Parliamentary franchise. In other words, it is a Bill to enfranchise Irishwomen between the ages of 21 and 30. I thought at first that I would explain the clauses of the Bill. Second thoughts showed how unnecessary that would be to a House containing so many legal lights. The points will, I hope, be dealt with and explained satisfactorily in the discussion. I will confine myself to a statement of the general principle. The civilization of a country is marked by the position of its women and, by that test, Ireland stands high. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916 was addressed to Irishwomen as well as it to Irishmen and guaranteed equal rights to all its citizens. It promised the people a national Government, elected by the suffrages of Irishmen and Irishwomen. I cannot believe that there is in this Parliament of the Irish Republic a single Deputy but holds with me that we ought now to remedy this injustice to a section of Irishwomen. During these last years of war and terror, these women in the twenties took their share in the dangers. They have purchased their right to the franchise and they have purchased their right to a say in this all-important question before the country. Without their votes or their voice, nobody can say that the will of the whole people of Ireland will have been ascertained.

Mr. Griffith, President of the Republic, in reply to a women's deputation last week on this matter, while declaring his belief in equal suffrage for the sexes, put forward some objections. He said it was a mistake to say that the Dáil had the power to alter the Franchise. Since when has there been a limit to the power of the Dáil in Ireland? I understood that this was the sovereign authority in Ireland, deriving its power from the sovereign people. And I have yet to be convinced that that is not the case. The second objection he put forward was the difficulty of compiling the Register. I have no expert knowledge on this point but it seems to me absurd to say that it would require eight months. Three months is the time allowed for the general register to be compiled. Surely if this decree was passed by An Dáil, the work could be speeded up and brought into the time. The third objection is that if it were passed Great Britain would not recognise it and the fate of the Treaty would be affected, as President Griffith says. And when he says a thing I believe he believes it. But if President Griffith says that ninety-five per cent. of the adult women voters of Ireland are solid for the Treaty there is his best argument in the world to make this Bill welcome across the water. I had hoped before the Session opened, when I was thinking of this, to get the support of many members of the Dáil for this measure, irrespective of Party. Now I am not so sure. However if any oppose it I only ask them one thing —not to accuse me of insincerity, of trailing a red herring, torpedoing the Treaty or anything like that. It is time I think in the Dáil that we tried to escape from the tyranny of the phrase. To cry "red-herring" at the measure does not in any way impair its nature or essential justice. I now propose this Bill and I ask the Dáil to pass it into law.

I have great pleasure in seconding the motion that has been proposed by Deputy Mrs. O'Callaghan for enfranchising, on equal terms, men and women. We have heard for the last three months in the Dáil a great deal about ascertaining the will of the Irish people. We who are in favour of this Bill hold that it will enable the will of the Irish people, and all the Irish people, to be ascertained without fail. At the present time, on the old register, it will be impossible to ascertain fully what is the exact will of the Irish people with respect to this Treaty and with respect to the Constitution which those who are in favour of the Treaty propose to bring before the electors. The Register of Electors, which purports to have come into force on the 15th February, 1922, for the qualifying period of six months ended the 31st August, 1921 (called the Fourth Irish Register) is illegal, because it does not include lists of the persons who became qualified in the period between 15th May, 1921, up to which date the Third Irish Register was made out, and the 31st August, 1921, up to which the Fourth Irish Register purports to be made out; and it does include all the electors who died and all those who ceased in other respects to be qualified during that period. In many Urban Registration and in all Rural Registration Units no lists were made out as required by law of (B) "newly qualified electors" and (C) "persons no longer qualified as electors." It was the duty of the Clerk of the Peace for each Registration area to cause a house-to-house or other sufficient enquiry to be made and to prepare electors' lists (sec. 13 of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and par. 6 of the First Schedule to the Act) and each Clerk of the Peace was entitled to call upon Secretaries to County Councils, Clerks to District Councils, Clerks of Unions and Collectors of Poor Rate to assist him in his duty as Registration officer by preparing lists for their registration units (pars. 7 and 44 (4) of First Schedule). After the end of the qualifying period, i.e., after 31st August 1921 the clerks of the Peace sent out requisitions to the Secretaries of Co. Councils, Clerks to District Councils, Clerks of Unions and Rate Collectors in their respective Registration Areas, requiring them to prepare returns or Lists (B) of newly qualified electors and (C) of persons no longer qualified as electors. In some Urban Registration Units the officials concerned complied with the requisition and sent in the Lists (B) and (C) above referred to; but in many urban units and in all the Rural Registration Units default was made by the officials concerned and no lists were furnished of newly qualified electors or of persons who had died or had ceased to be qualified. On the 15th October, the Clerks of the Peace purported to publish the Electors lists as required by Statute, and Order of 14th July, 1921. These electors' lists consisted of a Copy of the Old Register and Copies of Lists (B) and (C), and were to be the basis of the New Register. In some Urban Units, as for example in the Registration Unit of Pembroke East, Polling District of Sandymount the List (B) and (C) were genuine lists containing the names of newly qualified persons and persons no longer qualified, but in all rural registration Units (for example Dundrum and Miltown) and in many Urban Units (such as Donnybrook) Lists (B) and (C) were merely sheets of paper containing no names but with a printed statement on each sheet in the following words:—

"Owing to the fact that the requisite information has not been supplied to the Registration Officer, he has been obliged to leave this List blank."

On a point of order, may I ask what this has got to do with the question of woman suffrage?

I am coming to the point, if the President will allow me to do so.

He is discussing an entirely different question.

I am discussing this because President Griffith the other day in reply to a deputation said it would take eight months to prepare the Register. I am trying to prove that the Register at present is bad and that it is not possible on it to obtain the will of the Irish people and, secondly, that a new Register could be prepared which will include the women between 21 and 30, in three months. This shows that the new register is necessary if the will of the people is to be ascertained. It can be made out within three months. Three months is the period allowed by the Representation of People Act for compiling the Register. If three months is the time given by Representation of the People Act for making out a new Register and if three months is the time that is agreed to between the two parties at the Ard-Fheis, I see no reason whatever why a new register cannot be made out in the interval that must elapse before the elections take place. I cannot see if the time for making out the new Register is three months—I suppose that the people who gave that time knew the difficulties that were there—why the President states it would take eight months to make a new register. For instance, take Clare. You have there on the inside pages of the register simply 1920 and outside they simply put "Clare Register 1922." I submit that any election on that register will not give the exact record of what the people's will is. There were a good many men and women who were not in a position, through their activities, to get their names on that Register and I think it is wrong to exclude these men and women, some of whom were, I am sure, interned for the last year, simply because they were not available when the new Register had to be made out. The President, at a Deputation, stated that there were 280,000 women between the ages of 21 and 30 who would be admitted to the franchise if the new Register were made out. If that is so, that represents roughly one-seventh of the total electorate of Ireland. When the President of the Republic states that he wants to ascertain the will of the Irish people, I am sure he wants to ascertain the whole will of the Irish people and not the will of six-sevenths of the Irish people. Some few years ago, when the women were being admitted to the suffrage, the Irish Party opposed it very strongly. I hope that those who are for the Treaty will not oppose every adult man and woman getting on the register and registering his or her vote as to whether the Free State shall be set up or not. In Easter 1916, when the Irish Republic was proclaimed, equal rights for Irishmen and Irishwomen were guaranteed. This will give equal rights to every Irishman and Irishwoman. This Dáil as a democratic body and as a body which has endorsed that proclamation of independence, if it is consistent must act up to that proclamation. The excuse that there is no time cannot hold, because there can be no election for three months and three months will be ample time in which to make up that Register. Another point that may be put is that the Dáil is not competent in any matter concerning the franchise. Well, in view of the fact that the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis was competent to have the elections postponed, I think that Dáil Éireann should be at least competent to have it insisted on that the new register shall be prepared so that the will of the Irish people, as required by the President, shall be ascertained.

You will break the Truce then.

You will not break it anyway.

I would break it before you in any case.

It is time we talked to the Irish people straightly from this House. This is one of the 15 plans by which our opponents boasted they were going to torpedo the Treaty. They included strikes and several other things and they include this——



Keep your shame to yourself, Miss MacSwiney.

I did not speak to you. I spoke to the Chair.

Well, please do not. These people talk about the will of the Irish people. What are they doing at the present time? By every means of obstruction in their power, they are trying to prevent that will being ascertained. What are we here on, except on the franchise that these people now want to repudiate? I can speak on this subject, because when there were men here who were opposing Woman Suffrage I was in favour of it. And there are two men here who are going to vote for this who told me over and over again that no woman should have a vote. I never varied in my opinion. I never varied in advocating woman suffrage.


Why vary now?

I do not vary now. I still advocate it. But I am not going to let this trick be played on the Irish people. This is a dishonest trick. We had Joseph McDonagh with his carefully prepared speech. They mean nothing by it all. They did not want to obstruct the election. Their hearts are beating with enthusiasm for the Franchise of Irishwomen. (Interruption). Count Plunkett is persistently interrupting me. I was advocating women's Suffrage in Ireland when Count Plunkett was hanging out flags to receive the King of England——

I did not pull down the Irish flag.

You received him in Cork and you swore allegiance to him.

Maintain the dignity of the Dáil.

Keep this man whom you know to be a humbug from interrupting me.


I ask you to withdraw that, Mr. President. I ask you to withdraw the expression "humbug."

In deference to your ruling, I withdraw it.

In deference to the man who died in Easter Week when you would not.

This is a trick on the Irish people to prevent the Irish people going to an election. The sudden enthusiasm for the vote for women between 21 and 30 years of age suddenly arose after three years of the Dáil. It is intended to torpedo the Treaty and I tell the people who bring it forward that they will not torpedo the Treaty on that issue. I believe in and I have always advocated equality of voting power between the sexes. I advocated it in my papers when there were no other journals in Dublin to do it. But I am not going to allow this trick to be used by people who are no more believers in woman's suffrage now than then. We are told now that we can pass here a new Franchise Law. Have we not been here for three years or more in the Dáil and no attempt made to pass or introduce this? The fact that I am sitting here for two seats, Mr. Collins for two seats, Mr. de Valera, Messrs. Milroy and McNeill for two seats each means that we have disfranchised these constituencies, because we had no power to deal with the matter except by applying to the English Parliament for resignation, which we could not do. When my colleague, Pierce McCan, died and we all tried to fill the vacancy we found we had no way of filling the vacancy. We were "cribbed, cabin'd and confin'd" by the fact that we were elected under British Law, under a British Act of Parliament, under a Franchise which comes from a British Parliament and, therefore, we must act on that Franchise. The only body that can pass such an Act as this is the legislative body which can be set up in Ireland under the Treaty. I hope the enthusiasts for Woman Suffrage will be as enthusiastic when the Free State Parliament comes into being as they pretend to be now.

When this deputation of the various Societies was sent to me, knowing that they were sent—or most of them—not in enthusiasm for Woman Suffrage but in enthusiasm to destroy the Treaty, I told these ladies exactly what the position was. They were there representing certain bodies that wanted to queer the pitch of the Treaty. I told them then what I tell you now—that you are not going to queer the pitch of the Treaty. You are not going to get off on that false issue. You are not going to go out and pretend that we, on one side, are against Woman's Suffrage and that they, on the other side, are for it. As I said, there are two members here who are going to vote for this who, over and over again, told me that they would never vote for woman suffrage if they had the power. They are going to vote falsely here to-day in order to try and queer the pitch of the Treaty. What do I find in this motion?

"For section one and sub-section (1) of Section four of the Representation of the People Act 1918 (herein called the principal Act) the following Section shall be substituted."

What Act is that? An Act of the British Parliament which you are pretending not to recognise. And you come along and you ask us in a few minutes to pass an Act repealing or amending an Act of Parliament which you profess not to recognise. One of the biggest humbugs which has been attempted to be played on the Irish people is this motion.

We have been humbugging the Irish people a long time then.

I propose as an amendment—

"That in the opinion of Dáil Éireann the women should have equal rights in the Franchise as men under the Constitution of the Free State."

If the people here are sincere about Woman Suffrage they will accept that and if they are not sincere they will try to torpedo the Treaty by pressing on this motion.

If I am in order, I wish to second this amendment. Am I in order?



I wish, in seconding the amendment, to say that I personally have been for a number of years and am now absolutely in favour of women's suffrage. I am thoroughly satisfied that, as Mr. Griffith said, some time ago, ninety-five per cent. of the women of Ireland would be and are, as a matter of fact, in favour of the Treaty.

Give them a vote then.

I will tell you about the vote. Mrs. O'Callaghan said she had no knowledge of the time it would take to compile the Register.

Expert knowledge.

And President Griffith has stated that it would take eight months. Deputy McDonagh who seconded the motion never said one single word in favour of Woman Suffrage—he did not state why women should have the same rights as men. He simply read out a long list of figures, dates, et cetera, for the Register and said it could be compiled in three months. I wonder where he got his expert knowledge. I have some knowledge of compiling a register and working a register for a number of years past—when Mr. McDonagh and a number of Deputies here were working against us. ("No"). There has been too much winking at things here in the Dáil. We stood it too long.

Take the gloves off.

I will take the gloves off. We have men here in this Dáil who were opposing us when we were very small numbers in the Republican movement. We have men standing on the platform with Deputy de Valera to-day who led the attack on me and my colleagues in Smithfield five or six years ago and threw lime in our eyes.

I will name him if it is asked—Councillor Paul.

Where is he? He is not here.

I made it plain that he was on the platform. I have spoken of him as standing on the platform with Deputy de Valera.

Put the gloves on again.

As I said before, I am thoroughly satisfied in my own mind that the women as well as the men are in favour of this Treaty. I have been asked would I be in favour of giving votes to women after what occurred in the Dáil and I said "Yes, certainly, even though some of the women in the Dáil who voted against the Treaty stated that it was a fine measure until they were ‘got at.'"

I will name them if it is pressed. I have more respect for the women in women's clothing than for the women in men's clothing. That is my view. And there are a number of them in the Dáil. There are a number of them that changed their minds ten times in a fortnight. I know it. I was a Whip. I will give the names of those too if they are wanted. I also want to say this much in conclusion—that I hope that those who will get up and speak now for the women who advocate it are sorry for what they said about the women who fought in Easter Week.

I remember a long time ago, a Chinn Comhairle, when a women's organization here in Ireland was working—I think most of them in association with the women's Association in England—about getting Bills to enfranchise women passed through the British House of Commons, a deputation of them came to the Dublin Corporation asking that body to pass a resolution in favour of having these Bills adopted. I was one who took an active part in opposing the resolution on that occasion. I stated then that I was opposed to passing a resolution of that kind in the Dublin Corporation, because it asked that we, the Corporation of Dublin, should ask the British Parliament to pass a resolution enfranchising women. I objected then—and it is a long time ago—to asking any public body in Ireland to recognise in that fashion the British House of Commons. I stated, at the same time, that if ever we in Ireland had a Parliament that could enfranchise women that I would be one of the first to advocate the passing of such a measure. And in fulfilment of that promise, which though made long ago has not been forgotten, I rise to support this motion. I would not care which side of the House suggested such a motion. I am glad that it is the progressive side of the House that has introduced such a motion here to-day. I do maintain despite what President Griffith and Mr. McGrath have said that we have the power. I will make them a present of this statement, if they like, that by virtue of the Treaty you have the power to pass such an Act. I make you a present of that and use it where you will and when you will—by virtue of the Treaty which you have signed you have the power to pass such an Act and bring it into force. You can do it in three months. If you wish, you can make this law operative before the election takes place in three months time. All the use you wish to make of that statement you can, and I defy you to do it. You can have at least every woman in Ireland between 21 and 30 who would be entitled to come upon the register given a vote and I would urge you to take this step for your own reasons. Not that I am anxious to see the Treaty pass. In fact, I would use any and every means and, for myself—I make you a present of this statement also —I would not stop at any legitimate means, in bursting up your Treaty. I would do anything legitimate to torpedo it. I have done as much as I could in the past.


You will not succeed.

I may not succeed but I will do my best, and I will not be a bit afraid to face here or outside those who take an opposite view. I stood on the same platform with our friend Deputy McGrath, when the lime was thrown in our eyes here in Dublin for advocating Republicanism. He was not afraid then. I was not afraid then, and I am not afraid now, to preach the doctrine and to stand for principles which I hold strongly. I hold that the Treaty is a subversion of the Republican principles and—I make you a present again of this —I will do everything I can, even if you claim that my advocating of this measure will assist—to torpedo your Treaty. I am not standing here to advocate this measure for that reason. I say that I believe the pledges I gave years ago, to stand for woman's rights whenever we had an opportunity to put them into operation, should as far as I am concerned be carried out. And I also claim that I would do anything, as I have said, to maintain the Republic as against those who are actively subverting it. If you say—and I am sure you believe it—that ninety-five per cent. of the women of Ireland are in favour of your Treaty, well then what is your objection to giving them the vote? There will be a bigger flood of votes for your Treaty and we will be snowed under all the more if you are accurate in your estimate. I do not believe you are and I can only judge by the votes that have been given by the organised womanhood of Ireland. Take the vote of the Cumann na mBan convention recently —419 votes against your Treaty and 63 recorded for it. That does not look very much like ninety-five per cent. However, on your own statement that ninety-five per cent. of the women are in favour of your Treaty, I would urge you to act by the principles that Mr. Griffith himself has often proclaimed in his paper. I make him again a present of saying that I, as one individual, was largely guided in my views in this matter, as in many other matters, by his political teachings. From that point of view— now that they claim they have ninety-five per cent to vote for them—I think that Mr. Griffith should give the women the vote. As to the people in this Chamber who may have changed their views, I believe there were many who changed their views during the discussion on the Treaty over and over again. After all, what is the use of arguing and argument and discussion if people are not allowed to change their views? Why are we here? Why is any Committee ever called into existence if people are not allowed to change their views? I also know, as a Whip, as Deputy MacGrath has said, when I was making up my lists, there was not a day that I came in here that I did not have to change some people who were on the lists as voting for the Treaty who turned over against. There were certain people you could not rely on. If you like, that is an argument as to the honesty of such people. They listened to the arguments for and against. They may not have done as clear thinking as others on the matter. They waited to hear both sides freely express their views and decided accordingly. I do not think it is any discredit to either side to change its views.

I would appeal to the other side not to make this a Party matter. Personally, from a Party standpoint, I would say it would be a good thing for us if we could succeed in getting the votes of a few independent people on the other side. It would help us in going before the women electors. On the other hand it would be more creditable to this body if this Act were passed by a non-Party vote. President Griffith—yesterday I think it was—complained of nothing constructive being brought here by the opposition.

I claim that there is evidence of the will to construction here. We have shown that we are anxious to help the Government by bringing forward measures of this kind. This is evidence of it—a constructive measure that will be for the benefit of the country in the days to come. It would certainly add very considerably to the authority of this body, or whatever representative body sits as the Government of Ireland, to say that we represent the whole people of Ireland —the adult manhood and womanhood of Ireland. If you refuse to pass it, you hold an election with a very considerable part of the people of Ireland who have made this Treaty possible and who will, we hope, maintain the Republic, disfranchised. If you pass this measure you can claim, if you get your Treaty, that the whole manhood and womanhood of Ireland were with you. If you refuse to pass it, you cannot claim that the election was won and a vote given in favour of your Treaty by the voice of the majority, because there will not be enfranchised the vast majority of the young and fearless men and women who put you in the position of putting your names to that Treaty and have put us in the unfortunate position of having to be in opposition to you to maintain the Republic to which you had sworn your allegiance.

I move that the question be now put.

I was up before you and I claim that I get a hearing as the oldest——

An O'Keefe will never yield to a Gore-Booth. I move that the question be put.

Put him out!


I do not wish to closure discussion on this important matter. Therefore, I rule that Madame is in order.

I rise to support this just measure for women because it is one of the things that I have worked for wherever I was since I was a young girl. My first realisation of tyranny came from some chance words spoken in favour of woman's sufrage and it raised a question of the tyranny it was intended to prevent —women voicing their opinions publicly in the ordinary and simple manner of registering their votes at the polling booth. That was my first bite, you may say, at the apple of freedom and soon I got on to the other freedom, freedom to the nation, freedom to the workers. This question of votes for women, with the bigger thing, freedom for women and opening of the professions to women, has been one of the things that I have worked for and given my influence and time to procuring all my life whenever I got an opportunity. I have worked in Ireland, I have even worked in England, to help the women to obtain their freedom. I would work for it anywhere, as one of the crying wrongs of the world, that women, because of their sex, should be debarred from any position or any right that their brains entitle them a right to hold. In Ireland we have been in a rather difficult and complicated position. It has been the habit of our tyrants over in England to use Woman's Suffrage as a Party cry. Each Party when it suited them ran the Suffrage Question for all it was worth. But when they were in a position to help the cause of Women Suffrage, the cry then was "Oh! there is something more important before the nation." Now, I am sorry to accuse Mr. Griffith of taking up that English attitude here in Ireland. Mr. Griffith supported the Woman's Suffrage cause and he never varied when women suffragists were throwing axes at his political opponent, Mr. Redmond.

Mr. Griffith in those days spoke his opinions very freely as to woman's suffrage. In those days women felt that they did not want to seek representation at Westminster. I have a vote myself now to send men and women to the Dáil, and I wish to have that privilege extended to the young women of Ireland, whom I count in every way as my superiors. With the glorious innocence and intuition of youth they fixed their eyes on high ideals. They had the education that was denied to me in my youth and they have proved their valour during the years of the terror in a way that we, the older women, never got a chance to do. There was a dastardly remark about women in men's clothing made just now by the Teachta who spoke. I would challenge the men of honour, the other men who did not even require women's clothes to get out of the way when shots were being fired, and I would ask would any man of the I.R.A. turn down the girls who stood by the men in the days of the fight for freedom and did what the women did in the gap of danger? It is for these girls that I speak to-day and it is the experience that these girls had in the last year that has brought to birth in them a great desire for this small privilege—the right of citizenship in Ireland. Many years of organisation, of speechifying and talk did not enable our Franchise Society of noble women to put these ideals into the young women's hearts. But it is the work they have done during the last couple of years, where they have been dragged out of their shells and made to take their place as citizens at the polling booths, helping at the elections and helping the men on the run, that has put this desire into the hearts of the young women. This desire is voiced from every quarter in Ireland—this desire which I find re-echoing strongly in my heart. No one can say that with me it is a Party measure, for I have always done it, always pushed it and always tried to get the women their due and their rights. We have been in a difficult position in Ireland because we were on the run. When our Dáil was held in secret, it was impossible to bring forward measures like this. War measures were the only measures that were attended to and, naturally, the women did not push forward at the time when asking for their rights might have delayed people in a house where they would be in danger of murder. The women realised that. I realised it. I even wished to put this forward before in the Dáil, but there were so many difficulties in the Dáil— too many other subjects to be discussed —that I did not bring it forward. I have brought it forward before in different places. One Deputy here seems to think that Cumann na mBan would torpedo the Treaty. In the name of Cumann na mBan I thank him for his appreciation of their valour and strength and I can tell him that it will be up to them to do it whether they get the votes or not. To-day, I would appeal here to the men of the I.R.A. more than to any of the other men to see that justice is done to these young women and young girls who took a man's part in the Terror.

I wish to move that the question be now put.


This is the most important matter in the Assembly. It is so important a matter that in looking over Deputy Mrs. O'Callaghan's motion I was inclined to act. But I did not wish to take any responsibility on myself for fear I would be accused of tyranny or tyrannical methods. It was my inclination to consider this as the first reading in this Dáil as it would be in any other National Assembly. I did not wish to take that responsibility and consequently I am allowing the discussion to continue.

I recognise the importance of the discussion but I do not think it is honest.

I want to protest. I am not a party to any trick in this House. I brought forward this Bill quite honestly.

It does not refer to you at all. I know what I am talking about when I say it is not honest. What I ask of you, a Chinn Chomhairle, is to carry out the Standing Orders. If a member moves that the question be now put it must be immediately put from the Chair. These are the Standing Orders.

Táim ar thaobh na mBille seo——

Do you rule against me?


According to the Standing Orders I have no option but to rule that the motion be put.

Ní gádh duit é a dhéanamh i n-aghaidh do thoil fhéin. You said already that this was an important measure and that it should be discussed before the Dáil.


I say that now again but the Standing Orders are there. Now my ruling on the matter is I will allow two further speakers, and then if the question is moved I will put it.

Cuidighim leis an rún so. Tugadh an geall so i rith Seachtmhain na Cásga agus is orainn anois é a chur i bhfeidhm. Rinne Cumann na mBan a chuid oibre fhéin chun an Poblacht a chur ar bun agus ins na blianta ó shoin cuidigheadar leis an Phoblacht agus le cúis na hÉireann.

I must say at the start that it is most regrettable that almost every proposal that comes from this side of the House should be treated in a Party spirit by the gentlemen opposite. And, unfortunately, this Party spirit is initiated by the gentleman holding the high office of President of the Dáil. We have seen that in the display that he has made here to-day, when you had to insist upon his withdrawing an insulting expression that he made to a member of this body. Moreover, yesterday, you saw that this gentleman who should act in accordance with the position he holds——


Speak to the motion.

As the first man in Ireland, the first gentleman in the land. Certainly the holder of that position, the President who preceded him, was so regarded. Yesterday this gentleman so far forgot the dignity attaching to his position that he referred to a member of this body as the late member for Monaghan.

I am not surprised at his saying, "Hear, hear."

I understand that it has been the rule in this House that the President, when referred to, is referred to as President, not as "this gentleman." The gentleman on his feet is talking about insults and I leave it to the House to decide now which is using insulting language.

Ní gá dom freagra thabhairt air sin.

Agus ní fhéadfair é leis.

I support this Bill because those of us who took part in the establishment of the Republic in Easter Week, are bound by the promise which was given in the Proclamation. There are several other reasons, in addition to that, but the part taken by the Cumann na mBan and other women during Easter Week deserves some recognition from us. The cheery word of encouragement given by the wives and daughters and sisters of the men who went out in Easter Week deserves recognition. Moreover, most of you know that that enterprise was not received too popularly by the Irish public during Easter Week or immediately after. But it was the women, when they organised their public Masses and their public meetings as far as they could, who kept the spirit alive, who kept the flame alive and the flag flying. For that too they deserve recognition. Moreover, from my knowledge of women in public affairs, I say that at least they have as true an insight in national matters as men. I remember a dozen or more years ago, when we were agitating for compulsory Irish in the National University, we had considerably less trouble in converting the women, in showing them how necessary it was to have Irish compulsory in the National University, than in the case of the men. We had to do that in order to get this thing done. That is another reason that I say the women deserve this little recognition. Moreover, our friend on the opposite side has made a statement that ninety-five per cent. of the women of Ireland are in favour of their Treaty. I am not going to say for or against that. But, if what they say is true, or if they think it is true, why should they resist such a motion as this? I consider now that if the people of Ireland want this Treaty they are entitled to have it. But the whole people of Ireland who can understand what an effect this Treaty will have on the country should be given a voice in saying whether we will have the Treaty or not. I at all events think so.

Ba mhaith liom——

A Chinn Chomhairle, you said you would allow two more speeches. I simply wish to ask if it is two for and two against or if you are going to confine the speeches to those who are going to speak in favour of the motion.


Well in justice to both sides of the House I will have to allow arguments presumably for and against. That is what I have been anxious to do all the time. But I would appeal to the Deputies to see that we do not continue the discussion too long upon any one matter. If the whips had come to some arrangement regarding this matter, it would have been simpler.

The whips had no opportunity.

If the rule as to two speeches is going to be observed by those in favour of the motion, I will have to ask you to decide between Deputy de Valera and myself.

I am quite willing to give way.


The arrangement I would make is this—I do so to see that the rights of the minority are maintained——

The side of the proposer has a right to wind up.


I am only anxious to preserve the order of the House and to see that the House does not continue too long at any one measure. Now I understand that Deputy de Valera wishes to speak. I will allow him speak, and the Minister for Local Government after that.

My anxiety to speak on this is due to the fact that I believe that both sides are agreed on the principle. If there is any question between the two it is ways and means. I am convinced that if the President has the will he can find a way to have this thing done.

It is absolutely impossible.

We will see. Recently there was a change made in a certain measure very rapidly in another place. I feel that it is our duty here to pass the Bill. If, as is anticipated by some on the other side, some other institution comes into existence I, for one, would like to see this Dáil fulfil the pledges that were given to the women of Ireland by the men of Easter Week, even though you never were able to put it into operation and get it used in the next election. The most heart-breaking thing for the last few days was to see this institution, which was Irish of the Irish, decried by members who should be proud to be members of it. The natural weaknesses of this institution were shown up, when everyone should have been very careful of it as something that was sacred and dear to them. We all know that it had weaknesses: that we had not the machinery to do everything we wanted. But, anyway, the work for the last three or four years showed that good work could be done with it yet. Good work can be done by passing this Decree. I say we are all agreed as regards the principle. It is a question of ways and means. As regards ways cannot see that we should make any and means, and the President's policy, I apology for claiming from that policy the best that that policy gives, because I for one do not take it that the theory of Government is that when the majority has got a policy and is carrying it out, that it must keep it all for itself and that the minority cannot get any advantage out of that policy. We have a perfect right, even though we are a minority, to get the full benefit of any policy that the majority have and to do our best to secure it. Now, undoubtedly the President has the power to get this amendment passed.

You know perfectly well I have not.

I believe that you can. If I were in your position, with your policy, I believe I would do it.

Where is it to be done?

I say the President's policy will enable him to do it. I am only asking the President to do what his policy enables him to do. And I say if I had his policy and were using it I would do it, but the machinery of this election—if it is to be an Irish election— ought to be dictated by the people of Ireland and by the representatives of the people of Ireland. The President claims that his majority here gives him the right to speak in this place for the majority of the people of Ireland —for the Irish people. He has the right to claim under his policy that the wishes of the Irish people in this election be respected, and that if it is the desire of the Irish people to have the women enfranchised they should be enfranchised. It is suggested that there is some difficulty about the Register. I will repeat again, by way of emphasis, the argument put forward by the seconder of the motion: "You will have to get a new Register." You will have either to disestablish the Republic legally or you will not disestablish it at all. The present register is illegal, even according to the rules we have had here. We have legalised British machinery, and this is not legal even according to British machinery. We ourselves, here in the Cabinet of Dáil Éireann, on one occasion, determined that there would not be jurors lists compiled. We had good reasons for that. The present Minister and the then Minister of Local Government bungled the matter and prevented the voters' lists being compiled as well as the jurors' lists and the President immediately they came out was the most anxious of all. We were discussing it in the Cabinet. We were all anxious about having this Register made right. It should be made right and it must be made right.

The ex-Minister of Defence put a question to me which I did not hear.

I say the President was interested in having that Register made right. It is illegal because it has not been compiled properly. The information that should be given to those who were in charge of compiling it was not given because of the orders of the Minister of Local Government, with the result that the usual method of compiling the Register —namely, the elimination of names that should not be on it and the addition of names that should be qualified—was not followed. That is a serious matter. If we take one example that we have before us, where Registration was properly done, Sandymount—one of the few instances where it was done— we find that only one name in six is right. Rather I should say that the two Registers differ by one name in every six—the old Register comparing it with the new. There is a difference of one name in six. Therefore, it is fair to conclude that one name in six is wrong in the Registers throughout the country, where the old Register is kept. But we have not even the old Register. The rule says you get the old Register. We have legalised for Irish purposes by a decree of Dáil Éireann certain machinery. Therefore, I said we have not even got the old Register, because in some places where a very small list came in they say that there was so little difference they used pages of the old Register to save printing. And you have not the old nor the new now. Therefore you have no accurate Register. It is not even uniform in its inaccuracy because in some places it is done.

This is a point of order. The speaker is not speaking to the motion, but is in his usual manner rambling away from it. Are you not speaking on votes for women?


Keep as close to the motion as you can.

I am keeping to that. You will have to get a new Register. Therefore, when the new Register has to be compiled it will make little difference to include the women. You have three months and it is not that we want to put off the elections. You know that perfectly well.

You did not raise this at the Ard-Fheis when we were coming to an agreement. You had not the courage to raise it.

You know perfectly well it is not to put off the elections.

You know it is.

We do not want to put off the elections.


It looks like it.

The agreement is there and the purpose of it. We want definitely that the Constitution which you are going to propose to the Irish people will be proposed with the Treaty; and that you won't have the Irish people in the position that if they disestablish the Republic they have nothing instead. It is to give you time to get the Constitution before the Irish people and you yourself know it. The Minister of Finance himself, it was, who proposed the three months in the Ard-Fheis before you came to agreement at all in the matter.


What about votes for women?

I tell you that you cannot put forward the excuse that you have not time to compile the Register. You have plenty of time—the time that is normally taken. I say if the President has the will, he has the way.

You know that to be untrue.

I wish to say, in reply, that the President failed absolutely in his duty, if I bungled any such important matter as the Franchise, when he did not report me to the Dáil. If I did not do my duty any day, his duty was to put me out and he is just as much to blame as I am. The ex-Minister of Defence and the ex-Minister of Home Affairs are just as much to blame as I was. They were present at a meeting at which the matter was brought up and decided.

It was I raised the question that he had bungled it.

There were differences of opinions as between the President and the Minister for Home Affairs on the matter.

Because I always tried to keep personalities out.

The charge was made against me of bungling. I have never made any claim to infallibility like other people. I tell him, and I tell the Dáil, and every man that I make mistakes every day, and that I do my level best to correct them. But that is a mistake I will be able to answer for when I appear before my constituents. I am a longer time before my constituents than you are and I came back every time. There are several questions involved in this business, and I will deal with them as best I can. My first recollection of this business of Woman Franchise had to do with the Irish Women's Franchise League. I got a letter from them this week. Having a fairly good memory I recollected a similar subject being before the Dublin Corporation years ago. I found, however, when I looked up the records, that on one occasion three ladies addressed the Corporation of Dublin. That was in 1911. Mrs. Sheehy Skeffington, Mrs. Connery and Mrs. Weldon Palmer were there at the time the Conciliation Bill was before the British House of Commons. The next record that I find in connection with it is a letter from the Hon. Secretary of the Irish Women's Franchise League asking the Corporation of Dublin to present a petition at the Bar of the House of Commons in favour of the Conciliation Bill. At that time Seán T. O'Kelly earned the contempt of these women by pointing out that the Women's Franchise League was debasing itself by asking the Lord Mayor of Dublin to perform before the House of Commons in this business. Now mark this: that Conciliation Bill was not a complete instrument. It did not enfranchise the tenement dwellers of the City of Dublin. The very same difficulty arises, as far as I can judge—and I am taking a correct perspective—in this particular Bill. I do not make any charge against the Deputy who introduced the Bill, because I am certain that Deputy Mrs. O'Callaghan has not compiled the Bill that is before us. But the very same mistake is running through this Bill. You notice that though the Parliamentary Franchise is mentioned, there is not a syllable about the Local Government vote.

We have it already.

In Section 4 subsection (3) of this Bill—"Where she is the wife of a man entitled to be so registered in respect of premises in which they both reside and she has attained the age of 30 years and is not subject to any legal incapacity."

Do you propose an amendment?

I am supporting the amendment, as I believe it is a sensible proposition. I have dealt, first of all, with the indiscretion of Deputy de Valera in mentioning about bungling and I have dealt with his duty. I put up a proposition which would not be accepted. Instead of that, the Cabinet at the time committed itself to the illegality Deputy de Valera now denounces. The Secretary of the Sinn Féin organization sent out instructions as to what the branches should do. Now there is such a thing as compounding an illegality and if that is not compounding an illegality I don't know what is. I am satisfied that this is not an honest attempt upon the part of the opposition. Directly the Provisional Government commenced to function, I brought up this matter and pointed out that if it were possible it would be wise to get a new Register. I dispute with any person in this House or outside of it the statement that has been made that you can have a Register in three months. I have information in my hands from a person who is in the closest possible touch with such matters. The time allotted in accordance with the programme that I got from this person —whose name I will give if you desire it——

Give us the name.


The name is the name of the Assistant Town Clerk of Dublin—Mr. J.J. Walsh, B.L.

I never heard of him before.

If you mean by that anything offensive——


Not at all.


I take it he means by that that I could get him to do something wrong. My instructions were to him—"Get me the time it takes to make out the Register, cutting down the time to the last moment, taking the published Register of Electors as it is as being the Register last published." That in the city of Dublin takes from four to six weeks to compile with forty men working on it. You can send for Mr. Walsh and ask him as to whether these were the instructions. The figures are here:—"From the 1st February to the 4th May to compile this Register." In the ordinary way six weeks must be added to that for getting the list that is required. In addition to that, as everybody knows, when a new Act of Parliament or Decree is passed, it means the issuing and printing of extra instructions, particulars, details and so on. Now, I am positively certain that the people who are bringing this forward have no idea of the complications that are involved in connection with it. Evidently those who were framing the Decree or Bill have no idea of the difficulties that are in the way.

Will he tell us how it is that the normal legal period is three months for doing this and that that is followed out year after year? How, if it is not possible, could it be a general rule? Answer a straight question.

Precisely. I want to get the exact question.

The exact question is that three months is the normal period allowed. It has obviously become the normal period, because it was found to be sufficient, and the best test of this is that it has been possible to do it. People who get on with the work so rapidly ought to be able to do this.

The three months take place from the date "the long list"—as it was formerly described —is published. I know what I am talking about. I got the information from experts, and I am giving it to you exactly as I got it.

It is here a regular rule laid down by law.

Even last year it was four months. I will give you the dates. They are there. Before there was any talk about this enfranchisement it was brought before us, and this is unquestionably a partial enfranchisement.

We will accept any amendment.

The opposition is absolutely incapable of bringing forward a decree that will hold good-Rather a remarkable change took place within the past twelve months in the constituencies. Take, for example, the district that I represent—Kilkenny and Carlow. Now a person is not entitled to vote in respect of Kilkenny and Carlow at one election. And you can understand the difficulty of dealing with the matter where a constituency has been altered. Those are the points put before me by experts who have been dealing with these matters. The Dáil, as such, did not bring out a register of electors. It was done under what was formerly called the Local Government Board which functions from the Custom House. It is now under the Provisional Government. And the thing that is peculiar about this Dáil Session is that while nobody will recognise the Irish Provisional Government everyone is willing to lap up the milk.

On a point of explanation. Three months only count from the time of revision. The long list has got to be prepared before that. The inspection is made for months and then the revision starts and it takes three months from that.

I do not agree at all. I read the thing carefully.

As a matter of fact it can be proved.

Does this mean the closure comes after I speak?


Unfortunately, yes.

I had hoped that there would be more discussion on this point and I am sorry that you have ruled that way. I also want to ask you what you mean by talking of three Readings. Is that your ruling in the House?


No. The Dáil has no constitutional procedure which could guide the Chairman in the course of these Decrees. I am only giving a personal opinion in this matter, and have to be guided by the present Cabinet and the members of the late Cabinet as well. In war time, Decrees were passed and immediately became Acts. In normal times in any Assembly a Decree would be read at least a second time and probably a third time. It would be introduced and referred probably to a Committee to discuss each clause and item and then it would go back to the House again for amendment. I have no rules of Procedure. The only rules before me are the rules governing debate and I do not wish to take upon myself the responsibility of saying that this is only the First Reading and that it should again be brought up.

In winding up the case that has been made for the extension of the Franchise, I would like to stress the point that has been brought up by other speakers upon the necessity for a new Register. I know what was done. I know what was done in Limerick. We have no new Register for the last period. We would be working on an out of date Register and it would be very unfair. Now as to the enfranchisement of women, I would really like if the Dáil could see its way to pass it. In the last resource, even if the Register would not be in time for the next election, I am very sure that the women who fought for the Republic and helped the Republic would like this measure to be passed by this Parliament of the Republic. I would appeal to you all on that ground. That is all I have got to say.


Now, in accordance with the previous ruling, I propose to take a vote. I presume we had better call the roll.

It is not an amendment. It is a direct negative.

The motion that the question be now put was before you and you allowed two more speeches before deciding and now you have taken Mrs. O'Callaghan's closing speech on the motion. It strikes me that the whole proceeding is out of order and that the motion is being most irregularly closed.


The fault is not mine; it is the fault of the rules of procedure. I have only the standing orders to guide me. If we had constitutional procedure for the conduct of the business, I would know what to do in the matter. I have only to take it is as a motion for and against, or a vote on the amendment.

I submit that that amendment is not in order. It is not an amendment to the Bill. It is only putting it in an ambiguous way so as to confuse everybody.


The amendment is that in the opinion of this Dáil the admission of women should form part of the Constitution of the Irish Free State.

I rise to object to the wording of that amendment. We are not here to say what the Constitution of the New Free State is to be. This is the Dáil.

I think the time to take exception to the amendment was when it was handed in.


I am getting it re-written.

That amendment must now be withdrawn and you will have to re-open the whole thing.

Since these gentlemen have shown that their anxiety for votes for women is not sincere and since they do not want to have this vote under the Constitution of the Free State, let us have it the other way. When the Constitution of the Free State comes along I will see that it is embodied. But I think the attitude they take up now is insincere.

The only thing before us, if passed, would not be a Decree for votes for women.

The motion was then put. There voted for it 38 and against 47.