I propose that the Report of the Department of Publicity be adopted.
REPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLICITY.
I second that.
My criticism is not altogether friendly criticism. My criticism of the Report is that it is rather too meagre a Report. Substantially, it amounts to a description of the work done in connection with Belfast, and the exposure of the atrocities up there. I should be the first to congratulate the Minister in that respect. I think the work of his Department in the north and the information that they have been able to give to the newspapers of the actual situation up there has been very valuable indeed, but I think that his work in connection with his branch up there and that his distribution of the intelligence here is hardly sufficient to tax the whole of the time and labour of his department for which a considerable vote is put down. I should like to ask him whether he has been able—possibly he has—to put in train the very important work of collecting the public records which we now have of the war period and prior to that. An enormous amount of information must be at his disposal as to the history of the war and so on. I think that must be so and could he tell us whether he has been making preparations to give to the world a regular history of what has happened. For example, there has been no list of casualities incurred in the war, a grave defect in my opinion. There are also other records which, as a definitely Republican Minister acting for the Republic, one would have thought that he would be glad to get before the world. For instance, there was a series of pamphlets initiated at the time he took over office from me describing the constructive work of the Republic during the war, under what immense difficulties it worked and what splendid work it had done. It took the various departments —Trade, Courts, Home Affairs, Commissions of Inquiry and the other Departments—and it showed what definite constructive work during the war had been done by the Irish Republic. I think by this time the world might know all about that. Then there is another matter which might be more controversial perhaps. We all know that since this controversy began regarding the Treaty there has been an enormous amount of definitely anti-Irish propaganda as distinct from propaganda on one side or the other in this controversy. The source of that propaganda must be pretty well known— British. It has been definitely anti-National and anti-Irish in the sense that it has condemned Ireland as a nation unworthy of the right of self-government. That is on account of the various disturbances which have gone on as a result of the Treaty, which the Minister has referred to in his report, although he refers to it in a controversial sense, laying the whole blame on the anti-Treaty Party and leaving it at that. The Continent and America has been flooded with propaganda which is definitely intended to discredit Ireland before the eyes of the world in consequence of this controversy arising out of the Treaty. Now I think he might have work there. As Minister of the Republic, an individual holding as we know he holds, very strong views that the Republic is not compromised by this Treaty or at any rate that the Republic can be got through the Treaty, it is his duty to definitely counter all that anti-Irish propaganda in the best way he can, and not let it be used as it is used against the Anti-Treaty Party here. He might run a propaganda here designed to point out that whatever may be said about disturbances in this country arising out of the Treaty, there is really a broad deep fundamental issue upon which men equally noble and equally sincere can be divided and that it is not a criticism against Ireland itself that this unhappy division that has taken place should have led to the results to which it has led. There is another matter, I think it is in his own interest to contradict much of the publicity that there is a Free State in existence. It is repeatedly quoted in the Irish papers. I think as a Republican Minister, he ought to regard that as mischievous, in that he, as representing the Republic, should uphold the Republic until it is disestablished. A most remarkable example happened in which a head of the Provisional Government in his own Gazette issued notices in connection with postal matters. It was to this effect— that all letters posted or parcels posted in the Irish Free State must go through certain formalities. In other words, the Minister of the Republic stated that the Irish Free State existed. That, in the view of the Minister opposite, is a seditious notice. That is all I have to say about it.
I would like to say a word with reference to the Report of the Minister of Publicity and especially to stress what the previous speaker has said upon the matter with regard to America. I think that the Minister of Publicity has distinctly neglected his duty towards the Republic. He is Minister to the Republic and the Republic only. He was appointed to spread abroad the light about the Republic. Until the Republic ceases to exist, he has absolutely nothing else to do but to look after the interests of the Republic pure and simple. Part of that work only he is doing and that is with regard to Belfast. He has been devoting, as he tells us, his entire attention to the exposure of the atrocities carried on there. The vast amount of labour that was spent in the past few years in propaganda abroad for Ireland and Ireland's Republican Government it seems to me he is destroying rather than improving. Now in spite of the fact that the Minister in question is a supporter of the Treaty, he is still the Minister of the Republic. If he cannot do the work of the Republic he should get out and let somebody else do it. In his Report and the Report of the Minister for Foreign Affairs the same arguments are used—that the Republican Party were bringing discredit to our country abroad. That, of course, is absolutely untrue. It is childish, absolutely childish, to say such a thing. The Press abroad is working in England's interest as the Press of Ireland is working in England's interest. England has been able to control the Press in most countries of the world, except perhaps in France at the present time. She is able to work that Press against Ireland, and is doing so and instead of fighting that tooth and nail, as he is appointed to fight it, the Minister of Publicity is helping in this and casting the blame on the only people in this country who are still fighting for the honour and independence of Ireland. That is unworthy, besides being absolutely false. We have been told we are losing our prestige abroad. We are perhaps temporarily, owing entirely to the support of certain people in this House of the policy of dependence on England. It is because certain people have turned their back on the Republic that our prestige has been lost. Those who have come back from the Continent and America know that perfectly well, and the news papers of this country do not publish it. While the policy of our Government was for independence pure and simple, then the people abroad respected us and the cause for which it stood and they are respecting still those who are maintaining that cause. We could win back in a few months the prestige we are supposed to have lost. It has not been lost by those who stand for the Republic. Prestige has been lost by those who want Ireland to become a Free State under England. The Minister of Publicity is not doing his duty and therefore I propose that his Report be not adopted. He went to London last year to uphold the cause of the Republic. Day after day reports appeared in the English papers that we were going to take this, that and the other thing, which it was his business to deny? He did not do it. Why?
Was he then prepared to accept the surrender which he has supported since the 6th December last? I am talking of this simply and solely from the point of view of his position in this assembly. The position he holds here is Minister of Publicity for the Irish Republic. He will now call it Minister of Publicity for Dáil Éireann. That was not the position to which he was appointed. He was appointed to hold the position in the interest of the Irish Republic and nothing else. Now what could he do in the present instance, while being a supporter of the Treaty, in the interest of Ireland? In addition to his good work for Belfast in exposing the state of affairs there, he could stress the attitude which even the Pro-Treaty people declare is theirs, that they are pro-Treaty Republicans, although, as I have already said, I think that is an absurd name to give themselves. It is like Henry VIII calling himself a Catholic. He could, at all events have said that this Treaty was signed under duress, and that the Irish people, if they accept it, would do so because of the threat that accompanied it of immediate and terrible war. Either that threat is a fact or it is not. Either the threat was made or was not made to some of the Deputies. At all events, he, as a Minister of the Irish Republic, should stress that in all the countries of the world, because it was an outrage that such a threat should be made. It was a pistol pointed at the heads of our delegates at two o'clock in the morning. If there was a threat of terrible and immediate war, it was his duty to say so and tell the people of the world that although there is more heroism and endurance in the Irish nation—I make that claim for the Irish nation—than in any other nation in the world, still the Irish nation has a horror of war having had more terrible experience of war than most other nations of the world. You cannot take a people like ours who have been through such terrible experiences and expect them to go through war rather than avail of a halting place when the threat was put up to them.
We know very well that the threat was a make-believe, and we know that it is a pity that the delegates did not refuse to sign it. The Minister of Publicity, even though he believes the Treaty should be accepted, if he was doing his duty, would stress that abroad instead of wasting time by telling us how very sinful we are in sticking to our opinions and not changing them at the threat of Lloyd George or anybody else. He would tell them abroad that the Irish people are Republicans and would accept the Treaty only under the threat of immediate and terrible war. If the Republic was disestablished under the threat of terrible and immediate war, he would be able to point out to the people of the world that it is not fair to say that our people willingly entered into the British Empire. According to what the Minister of Publicity is giving to the world at present, and according to the Report which the Minister for Foreign Affairs gave us, the Irish people are at each other's throats like a parcel of Kilkenny cats. That is not true. There is nothing in their reports to show it is true. We want the world to know the truth. We are not afraid of the truth. The truth is that this country will never willingly walk into the British Empire and give the oath of allegiance or fidelity, if you like it better, to the English King. Why do not the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Publicity to the Irish Republic spend their time in their respective offices doing their duty to the Irish people in that sense? That is all we ask of them. We believe that they mean what they say—that they expect to get the Republic back through the Treaty. Why do not they say that openly to the world instead of trying to slander those of us who have not changed our coat even temporarily. That is why the Report of the Minister for Publicity should not be adopted by this House. I suggest that, at all events from this out, he should take up the defence of the Irish nation as a whole from the suggestion which England is spreading abroad that we are not capable of governing ourselves. When we spoke about publicity abroad, we were asked what did the world ever do for us, did the world recognise our Republic? No, it did not, it is quite true, but the fact that the world did not recognise the Republic did not make us give up the Republic. It was largely the opinion of the world which caused the ruination of England's prestige and that forced her to come to terms and ask or beg for a Truce, as she did. Remember that the Minister of Publicity never stressed that fact, that it was England asked for the Truce and not Ireland that asked for negotiations. Instead, he spends his time telling the world "We all let the Republic down last July." We did nothing of the kind. The Republic was not let down until that document was signed on the 6th December last. If the Minister of Publicity did his duty, he would point out that it was England asked for the Truce, because Ireland's gallant fight made her do it and ask for negotiations.
The Minister for Publicity is not doing his duty to the Republic in which once upon a time he believed and he is not doing his duty to Ireland, because he could stop a great many of the slanders that are going around in the world at the present time. Ireland will get over these slanders when the world sees that neither threats nor cajolery will make her give in. Then the world will come round. Remember the respect of the world is with those who have not surrendered and will not surrender. They are able to distinguish very well, even though it may suit their Press for the time being to side with England on the matter. If to-morrow America wanted to fall out with England, the first thing she would do would be to recognise the Republic. We are all aware that nations act in their own interest. It is for the Minister of Publicity to spread abroad the light to the world and let it be known that the Irish people are not as England would like to make them out a lot of foolish people who are only anxious to be at each other's throats. I must say that the conduct of certain people, who side with the Minister for Publicity, in trying to slander those of us who do not agree with them, has not done much good to Ireland abroad. As far as the Minister of Publicity is concerned he should do his duty to the public abroad, and let them know that if the people of this country accept that Treaty it would be simply and solely because of the fear of immediate and terrible war. He should stress that in season and out of season in every country in the world. If he and the Minister for Foreign Affairs did their duty abroad, there would not be so many slanders against Ireland at present. For that reason I oppose the adoption of the Report.
Cuidím le tairisgint Mháire Nic Shuibhne. Ní dó líom go bhfuil aon ghá in aon chor leis an Aireacht so. Ní theastuíonn uaim sli bheatha do bhaint d'éinne ach do mholfainn post éigin eile do thabhairt don Aire. Níl sé ag cabhrú leis an bPoblacht agus má tá gá leis an Aireacht so cad chuige í ach chun an Phoblacht do chur ar aghaidh. Níl san á dhéanamh ag an Aire. Ní raibh aon choinne agam go ndéandfadh sé an cabhrú san, mar tá a fhios agam go dteastuíonn uaidh an Phoblacht do chur ar neamhní. An Tuarasgabháil atá os ár gcóir níl inti ach tuarasgabháil chraobhscaoileacháin do Shasana agus ní thugann sí aon chabhair don Phoblacht.
Deputy Childers has asked me a number of questions with regard to the war. I do not think it is quite timely to publish war records. He spoke about anti-Irish propaganda abroad. It is difficult to deal with the mischief that is going on abroad, because it is on the principle that only the man who beats his wife gets his name in the paper. It is the lawless acts in this country get publicity and although the reports in most cases are correct or approximately so, the general effect was that an atmosphere was created which was injurious to the good name of this country. If there were no such acts, it would be a perfectly simple matter to prove that Ireland was a law abiding country. In the publication of incidents in this country, even though the publication is strictly accurate, the sum total of the effect is bad for this country. That is the difficulty we are up against. I have done my best to correct that and I am sure that the Deputy for Wexford will understand how difficult it is to explain in the circumstances that Ireland is not an anarchial country but that it is a country where people can live quite safely. Our propaganda during the war was based on democratic principles—what the people stood for was what we should advertise. In my department I tried to make it as non-contentious as possible. I agree with the member for Waterford that the department, if not done away with, should be renamed, for the thing most urgent is to conceal certain facts rather than to advertise them. The experience of the lady Deputy for Cork of foreign opinion is the direct opposite of mine. That is all I can say about that and I think I have had a fairly good opportunity of judging it. England does not control the Press of the world. If she does, she did it very badly when the war was on here. I must say I am thoroughly irritated by this cavilling at the Press. The Press is a commercial institution which does its best. Our experience during the war was that the Pressmen who came here were honest men, even with limitations. To turn around now and denounce the Press as British agents is unfair to the Press and calculated to make us a laughing-stock. My Department does its best to hold up Ireland's good name irrespective of Party in this country. We are doing our best to overcome the bad effect of the lawless acts in this country. Unfortunately that is a much more difficult matter now than it was in the past. The lawless acts in three-fourths of Ireland make it more difficult for us to bring the truth out as regards Belfast.
Report put and adopted.