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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 11 May 1922

Vol. S2 No. 10


Se an ceud gno an tuairisg o'n gCoiste siothchana a cuir romhaibh. Glaodhaim anois ar Sheumas Ua Duibhir e sin a leigheadh. The first business is to have the report of the Peace Conference put before you. I now call on Deputy James O'Dwyer to read it.

It is my duty to read, and the Committee has agreed to the course, the Report which you have in your hands from the Pro-Treaty side of the Committee.

Mr. O'Dwyer then read the following:

"10th May, 1922.

"We desire to report that the Committee set up under the terms of Dr. Hayes' motion at the Session of An Dáil on Wednesday, May 3rd, has held in all eleven sessions. At the first session we arranged a meeting of the Army Officers of both sides with a view to an immediate cessation of hostilities and subsequent Truce.

"At the first full meeting of the Committee the Anti-Treaty Party refused to accept the document signed by the following signatories as the basis for our discussions:—Dan Breen, Tom Hales, H. Murphy, S. O'Hegarty, Seán Moylan, R.J. Mulcahy, Eoin O'Duffy, Gearoid O'Sullivan, Michael O Coileain, F. O'Donoghue.

"We pointed out that while we understood that we were not confined to the examination of the solutions outlined in that document, we had been brought together as a result of these Officers' intervention and of Deputy Hayes' motion based on that intervention. We were unable to reach agreement on this matter and after putting in from our side several alternatives, we put in as our final basis for an agreed Election the following Documents:—

"1a. Mindful of our obligations to the Irish nation and recognising that our common ideal is the good of Ireland, it is realised that the most pressing necessity at the present moment is unity of the forces that have worked together for the past six years. We realise further that practically the whole country has the strong feeling that peace and order must be restored and preserved, and that means must be found for looking after the urgent social and economic needs of the nation.

"2a. We are of opinion that the minority in Dáil Éireann can agree to our recommendations without sacrifice of principle, without prejudice to what they consider the best future interests of the nation, and without departing from their ideals.

"Our recommendations to the Dáil are:

"1. Recognising also that it is a fundamental duty of Government to make available for the people the advantages gained by the War for Independence, and that the people so desire, and accepting the fact that Dáil Éireann has by a majority approved of the Treaty which is the vehicle of these advantages, and accepting also the position created in the country by this approval, we are of opinion that a contested election now might be attended by civil strife which might result in a dissipation of these advantages and the worsening of our national position.

"Accepting this and desirous of avoiding such a conflict in the best interests of the nation, we recommend:

"(a) An agreed Election.

"(b) A Coalition Government after the election which will have the confidence of the whole country.

"2. At an earlier session we had put in our idea that an agreed election could be arranged as follows:—

"(c) That in each existing constituency under P.R. the pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty parties would nominate one additional candidate. Such candidate would go before the electorate without public speeches, without public meetings, and the elections would be carried out on one day throughout Ireland.

"In constituencies where vacancies have arisen or may arise from whatever cause, the party to which the retired member belonged in January, 1922, shall have the right to nominate the person to fill the vacant place on the Panel. No candidate to be allowed to appear on more than one Panel.

As a result of this Election a Government having the confidence of the whole country would be formed. We think it possible that such a Government might be chosen on non-Party lines, or at least that it might follow not very rigid Party lines.

"We had definitely stated that in our opinion agreement having been reached on the political side, that army unification could best be accomplished by the officers who are meeting at the present time representing the Dáil forces under G.H.Q., Beggars' Bush and the forces under the Four Courts command.

"Their numbers could have been increased if it were thought necessary by the addition of officers from each side, those officers to report direct to the Dáil on this separate subject.

"It is necessary that the Dáil should be clear as to how this final document came before us.

"Early in the afternoon session of Tuesday, 9th May, it was evident that we had reached a stage where a break was inevitable, and before breaking Deputy O Maille proposed that we invite the five southern officers who had waited on Dáil at Wednesday's Session, so that we might put them in possession of exactly where the difficulties lay and invite their assistance to find a solution.

"It was agreed to call these officers in, and the officers having heard both sides, Deputy McKeon proposed that the Committee adjourn for an hour or an hour and a half to give the officers before us an opportunity of considering the position. We agreed on this course and the Session was adjourned until 8 p.m. with that object.

"Immediately on resumption Comdt. Seán Hegarty, while pointing out that they had no desire to withdraw an inch from the position which they took up in their published statement, stated they had drafted this Clause 1 as an alternative to the Clause which was before the Committee at the moment.

"He expressed on behalf of the Delegation a desire to simply place this formula before the Committee, and without taking part in any discussion to recommend it to us for adoption. The Delegation of Officers then withdrew.

"The two sides of the Committee immediately separated to consider this draft as an alternative to our proposal (That is the pro-Treaty proposal) contained in Clause 1 of the Document which we had handed in at the Session held on the evening of Monday. [Appendix A].

"We came back again, and Deputy Boland asked us if we were prepared to put in this new draft as our proposal.

"Deputy O'Dwyer pointed out that as far as he was personally concerned he was not at all satisfied that it covered his position. Deputy Boland stressed the fact that since this document was not the work of any of either side of the Committee but of an outside body, it could not properly come up for consideration unless either side adopted it.

"In order to put this document in order for the Committee, without arguing on Deputy Boland's assertion, Deputy McKeon accepted the responsibility of putting it in himself.

"It was agreed by both sides that we should again separate until 11 o'clock that night, Deputy McKeon undertaking on his side to endeavour to get this new clause accepted by the other four as an alternative to the proposals which we had already put in.

"Deputy Boland speaking for the other side of the Committee undertook to let us know at 11 o'clock whether they were prepared on their side to accept it as a basis for an agreed Election.

"On the resumption at 11 o'clock Deputy McKeon put forward the Officers' Clause as our alternative, on which we were prepared to discuss this scheme for an agreed Election and a Coalition Government after the Election.

"It was quite evident that the anti-Treaty Party were not prepared to agree to this as a basis. Deputy Moylan was not present.

"Deputy Boland invited us on our side to immediately tackle the question of a scheme for an agreed Election and he pointed out that a certain advance had been made, asserting that we had on our side turned Clause 1 from "an article of Faith" to a "preamble."

"Deputy O'Dwyer immediately stated that as far as we were concerned on our side that this Clause was the basis on which we could consider a scheme for an agreed Election contested or uncontested, and that if the other side were not prepared to accept it as such that we could not discuss the scheme for an agreed election.

"On this statement the Conference broke down."

That report is signed by the five members of the Delegation on our side—Seán Hales, P.O Maille, Seamus O'Dwyer, Jos. McGuinness, and Seán McKeon.

Let me have a copy of that signed by each of the members of the Delegation.

We will.

Mr. O'Dwyer then read the following:—


"(a) We recommend that the Third Dáil be formed on the following basis:—

"(b) Acceptance of the fact that the Treaty has been approved by the majority of Dáil Éireann, and, in the circumstances is accepted by a majority of the people.

"Clause (b) was subsequently altered by us to:

"Recognising the fact that the Treaty having been approved by a majority of Dáil Éireann, would, in the circumstances, be accepted by a majority of the people if put as an issue at a contested election, and desiring to evade such a contest and its attendant conflicts we recommend that an agreed election without contests be held and a Coalition Government be formed."

"Note.—Clauses (a) and (b) followed on Clauses 1 and 2, page one of this report.

There is a note there which may mislead the Dáil. It says Clauses (a) and (b) followed on Clauses 1 and 2 of this report. That should read “Clauses (a) and (b) followed Clauses 1a and 2a of this report.”

(Report and Appendix were handed in).

It is not necessary for me to read Appendix B for that is Deputy Boland's draft. I wish to say that the Committee has agreed that I should propose and the other side of the Committee will second the proposition at the right time —that the Dáil adjourns now without discussion of the Reports until next Wednesday. We have agreed to meet in the meantime with the hope of finding a solution. We have also agreed to ask the Speaker to hand both Reports as coming from the Dáil and to secure for them equal publicity as far as he can.

Deputy Boland will read the report from the other section on behalf of Mrs. Clarke, the Chairman.

then read the following:—