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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 27 Apr 1922

Vol. S2 No. 5


I beg to move that the report of the Minister for Foreign Affairs be adopted. Let us get on with the business.

I second that.

That is a very important decision. It means that in future whether a statement is accepted by the House or not, there is no opportunity of having a decision taken on it or of having it questioned. That it has not been done up to the present was to a large extent due to the fact that we had a unanimous House here in the past.

I am following the precedent established in this House. The President has made a statement. That, I take it, is a totally different thing from these Departmental reports. And there never has been a vote taken on the President's statement. If there is any vote to be taken on that it must be by notice of motion.

Will the Clerk of the House give us the Standing Orders on the reports.

Gabhaim párdún agat. Nílím críochnuithe fós. Tá rud anso ná fuilim ar aon aigne leis. Léighfead é.

"The Provisional Government, which came into existence consequent on the approval of the Treaty, functions in complete harmony with and by the authority of Dáil Éireann."

Deirim ná fuil sé i gcomhacht na Dála é sin a dhéanamh in aon chor agus conus a chuirfimíd san i dtuigsint dos na daoine mar a bhfuil slí againn chun a chuir os a gcomhair ná fuilimíd sásta? Níl ach aon rud amháin le déanamh.

On a point of order, I want to know is this discussion ended or is it not? Is a member entitled to come in at any time and raise a discussion? I want to say, as far as that particular item is concerned, that that paragraph is right.

You had already called the next business.

I disagree with this clause entirely.

You can't speak on that now.

I beg your pardon. Listen to what I have to say. This body has no power whatever to bring a usurping Government into existence.

You will have time enough to say that. It is not in order now.

Conus a fhéadfad é dhéanamh mar sin? Nách é seo an t-am chun é dhéanamh?

It is not for me to advise you.

There is a motion before the Chair.

When shall I get the opportunity of explaining my views on this matter with regard to this usurping Government, that has been brought into existence by the majority?

It is possible to put down a motion.

Seeing that Dáil Éireann has no authority to bring it into existence——

There was nothing to prevent anybody saying that while we were discussing it for two hours.

The way I submit it should be done is to allow the Deputy for Roscommon to bring forward that motion.

I think it should come up on notice of motion.

It is a very important thing that this should not be a precedent, because of the fact that there may not be any other opportunity for raising a matter of this kind after the Executive policy is stated. If in the past there has not been divisions it is because we were practically unanimous here on most matters.

The adoption of this report has been moved.

Pardon me, I said nothing about the adoption of my report. I said the adoption of the Foreign Affairs report has been moved.

Of course, you could put down a vote of non-confidence, disagreeing with the President.

I moved and Mr. Robbins seconded, the report of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

As I had been Minister for Foreign Affairs during the large portion of this time, there is a part of this report to which I strongly object. It is part, unfortunately, of the present policy of the Executive to try to win their way by the natural anxiety of our people to preserve the credit of our nation and, as far as possible, to let minor matters of importance go. As far as our anxiety to preserve the credit of our nation abroad is concerned, in the report the following appears:—

"The spectacle of fierce disunion at home, its manifestations abroad, particularly in the United States of America, and at the time of the Irish race Congress in Paris, the publicity given by the foreign Press to reports, true and false of violence in Ireland have shocked many of the friends of this country abroad and have given an appearance of justification to the persistent propaganda done by England during the war. If we are to retrieve the splendid position we held, we must take steps at home without delay to prove that we are a nation and not a rabble."

There is further, in the statement made by the President, which is supposed to cover the reports, the suggestion that Opposition, to whom the President attributes the present condition of affairs, is also responsible for, as he says, the position in the U.S.A. I want to say about that, that the members of the Republican Party went to America after repeated invitations by the organisation in America which stood for the ideal of the recognition of the Republic. The delegation from the other side was sent over with no constructive proposal but to destroy any work which they might try to do there. There is a reference to the Irish Race Congress in Paris. I would like to ask whether the report of the Committee which was set up by Dáil Éireann to examine into that question is available—that is the report of the special committee.

It is on the Agenda.

I say that in Paris the course of the proceedings of that Congress was in every way worthy of the nation. If certain members, when the Congress ended, made charges which they did not make during the Congress, that is not to be taken as an exhibition or manifestation of the forces of disunion. I think it is not right to be defaming our people by reports of this sort. I am against further things myself in this report.

I want to ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs one or two questions—the reason for the dismissal of Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly and for the dismissal of Deputy Boland the envoy to the U.S.A; what special work is given to Mr. Denis McCullough to do as second Envoy U.S.A.; what were the terms and conditions of Mr. McCullough's appointment and the remuneration; and is any other envoy or emissary getting this rate of remuneration?

I should like to say a word or two on the general character of this report, apart from the question of the details. I have never seen a report from anybody representing Ireland in foreign countries, or from any Minister connected with Irish propaganda in other countries which began by an insolent attack on the Irish people themselves. From this document, which is presented to the Dáil and given to the Press, it will be rightly assumed that the Irish people themselves have to admit that they deserve the slanderous stigma that they are not a nation but a rabble. I think this document shames the men who issued it and, in particular, the man who is responsible for it. I think it is a gross insult to the Dáil and not only that but to the Irish race at home, and the Irish people abroad, that a responsible Minister should produce a thing like that, which could be used readily as an instrument of England to belie and belittle Ireland.

I move that my motion be now put.

I am sorry to say that evidence reaches me from all sorts of people—from our own people abroad and from our friends—that our prestige abroad is not at all what it was. The men who have been our representatives on the Continent during recent months can well bear that out in whatever country they have been. Now this report was carefully worded, because I did not want to have foreign affairs made a question of Party politics. It was carefully worded but, dealing with the motion, I say that we have unhappily gone a long way to losing the position we held in the estimation of the world abroad. People are constantly writing home, or reporting on their return to Ireland from abroad, that it is positively painful to have to discuss Irish affairs with foreigners. I mentioned the U.S.A. particularly and specifically because I have been reading Irish-American papers, as well as some American papers, and there is no question but that the bitterness which we have seen displayed in Ireland is nothing to the bitterness which some of our friends across the water are indulging in. The bitterness in the U.S.A. is worse than it is here. Things are less clearly understood there than they are here. The effect of the disorder in Ireland, in whatever country it is reported, is deplorable upon the good name of Ireland—absolutely deplorable. You must remember that this happens at a time when the foreign Press has been well trained to give extended reports about Ireland— much more than about any other small country. I could read sheaves of cuttings on this matter and anyone who has been abroad lately will bear me out. That is why I asked the members of this House to give serious consideration to this matter.

I have been asked one or two questions which I think should have been put in the form of questions in the ordinary way about Mr. O'Kelly and Mr. Boland and Mr. McCullough. If the gentlemen concerned wish those questions raised —I don't know whether this is raised with their authority or not—I will be glad to answer them. If these questions are put on the paper in the ordinary way, I shall be glad to deal with them. I may, in conclusion, call attention to the fact that the Bishops of Ireland, who are in a position to know what is being said abroad, allude in the statements published this morning to the danger of dragging the fair name of Ireland in the mud.

Oh! the excommunicators of the murder gang.

Is the discussion closed now?

I am sorry.

A vote was then taken, when the motion was carried by 57 votes to 50.