The next item is the motion of the President that the Dáil declares an election for the constituencies set out on the Orders of the Day. There is no need for me to read them.
STATEMENT BY ARMY OFFICERS. - DECLARATION OF ELECTION.
A Chinn Chomhairle, the motion standing in my name is as follows:—
"That Dáil Éireann declares an election for the constituencies of (1) Mid. Dublin, (2) North West Dublin, (3) South City, Dublin, (4) Borough of Cork, (5) Cavan, (6) Donegal, (7) Monaghan, (8) Dublin, (9) Offaly, Leix, (10) Kildare, Wicklow, (11) Wexford, (12) Carlow, Kilkenny, (13) Longford, Westmeath, (14) Louth, Meath, (15) Clare, (16) East Limerick, Borough of Limerick, (17) Kerry, West Limerick, (18) East Cork, North East Cork, (19) North Cork, Mid. Cork, West Cork, South Cork, South East Cork, (20) Tipperary, East Waterford, Borough of Waterford, (21) North Tipperary, Mid. Tipperary, South Tipperary, (22) Galway, (23) North Mayo, West Mayo, (24) South Mayo, South Roscommon, (25) East Mayo, Sligo, (26) Leitrim, North Roscommon, (27) National University, (28) Dublin University.
"Dates as follows—Nominations, 6th June, 1922, Polling, 16th June, 1922."
Over six months ago the plenipotentiaries duly appointed and vested with full powers by Dáil Éireann, signed a Treaty with Great Britain. They brought that Treaty back here and Dáil Éireann approved of that Treaty. The next step, as there was a considerable minority in the Dáil opposed to it—or even if there had not been—was to put it to the people for their approval or non-approval. Six months have elapsed since then, and the people of Ireland have not been afforded an opportunity of saying whether they accept or reject that Treaty. In the beginning, it was said the people would have an opportunity of doing so. Various objections were made from time to time and eventually an agreement was come to to postpone the elections for three months. Objections were then made as to the state of the register and other points were raised. Those who honoured the signatures of the duly appointed and duly empowered plenipotentiaries agreed to postponement —agreed to the declaration on the other side that the people should have time to think and decide. After that agreement, the question was raised about the register. The register happens at the present time to contain fifty thousand more names than it had in the year when Dáil Éireann was first elected. In response to these objections, we offered a plebiscite of the whole people of Ireland, and that plebiscite was rejected. Now the people of Ireland have been for the last six months kept in a state of suspense, kept in a state of being muzzled, kept in a state of being denied the fundamental right of the people of any country to decide whether they will or will not have a measure that affects their lives, that affects their property, and that affects their destinies. The time has come now to end that state of affairs. We have here a Provisional Government, functioning under the authority of the Dáil, attempting to carry on the business of the country and obstructed at every turn. It is denied at every turn the right or the power, so far as those obstructing can deny it the right or power, to carry out the business of the country in the interests of the people of the country. The people of Ireland are a very long suffering and a very patient people——
They have suffered for six months under an insolent denial of their right to say whether they, the sovereign people of Ireland, will accept or reject that Treaty. They must suffer no longer, so far as we are concerned. The responsibility lies on our shoulders. I acknowledge no authority in the country higher than the people of Ireland, and I never will acknowledge any authority higher than the people of Ireland. If the people of Ireland be against me, I will still hold my own views and opinions, but I will not attempt by intimidation or violence or threats, to prevent the people following the course they decide to follow. If I cannot persuade them by arguments or reason, I will not persuade them at all. There is nothing more insolent in the history of this country, or in the history of modern civilization, as it appears to me, than the claim that any body of men, or any minority of this country, should tell the Irish people that they have no right to decide upon an issue which affects their whole future and affects the destiny of the country. I thought when this issue of "Treaty or no Treaty" was being placed before the people, it was the biggest issue that could be placed before them. But a greater issue has arisen now—an issue that strikes at every right we struggled for, every conception of nationalism we ever had, and every right of a civilised people. The issue that is before the people is that they have no right in their own country to determine their own future. If that is so, all of us who have been all our lives struggling against England, have been a pack of fools. Now, the attitude I took up during my life against this foreign nation that established itself in this country and attempted to dictate to the people of Ireland, was this: That the people of Ireland inside their own country were the authority to decide on their own form of Government and anything that came from an extraneous source was tyranny. I see no difference between English Government in Ireland and the attempt of a minority in this country to deny the Irish people the right of expressing their opinions. The man who stood up at any time against the English Government on the grounds of democracy and the right of the people, and that now, when English Government is gone from the country or is going, would stand up to say to the people that they must not determine for themselves, is as great an enemy to the Irish people as any English Government ever was. He is a greater enemy, because he dons the habiliments of patriotism to conceal the weapons of tyranny. It is time this humbug ceased (applause). I am glad to hear the supporters of humbug cheer that. I hope it is a sign of repentance. It is time the humbug ceased. These men who would deny to the people the right to vote on a vital issue are the enemies of the Irish nation. Let them call themselves what they will and disguise themselves as they may, they are the enemies of the Irish people, the enemies of democracy, and the enemies of civilised government. If this country or any other country is going to submit to the rule of the revolver, then civilisation is scrapped at once. I read some time ago a declaration from one of the leaders on the other side to the effect that a man with a revolver is worth a hundred men with votes. The man who puts forward a principle of that sort is an anarchist of the worst description. All civilisation and all modern progress depend upon the fact that men substitute the vote for armed force, and the rule of the ballot for the rule of the bullet. We are going to have the rule of the ballot, and we are going to have an expression of the people's opinion, no matter what intimidation is used against us and no matter what methods are attempted to be employed. We would be poltroons of the worst kind if, after having stood up against England and painted her as a tyrant, which she was, we should now submit to a tyranny just as mean and less supportable. Now, it is all very well for gentlemen to stand up here and talk of their beautiful and immaculate principles. We know what these principle mean and where the working of them would lead to. What we know is: there is one sovereign authority to which Irishmen must yield, and that is the will of the Irish people. That will we are going to ascertain.
And the men who stand up with armed force to attempt to prevent that will, will be treated, and ought to be treated by the Irish people, as enemies of the basest kind. There are men here to whom we have offered every possible thing— everything that could be offered. Knowing they represent less than two per cent. of the people of this country, they have taken up an attitude like highwaymen with pistols demanding: "Your lives or your votes." Well, we have come to the end of the tether now. They are not going to have our votes, and they will find some trouble in having our lives— at least our collective lives. We stand here for this issue: That the Irish people must decide on this question and nobody will be allowed, so far as in our strength lies, to interfere with their decision. I have never heard, and I know something of Irish politics in an experience of over thirty years, so much dishonesty, so much chicanery, and so much humbug as I have listened to during the last five months in the attempt to prevent people from expressing their view and ascertaining their will.
What is the Irish nation? Does it consist of the people of Ireland, or a minority of gentlemen, largely coming by birth and descent from the adjoining country, who are going to tell them all about their souls and their future, and all about what they ought to do, or ought not to do? We thought that when we struggled through the last century we struggled to make the people of Ireland masters in their own house, and not to be merely exchanging one ascendancy for another ascendancy—not to drive out one minority in order to put up another minority. The policy of democracy has got very unfashionable since democracy declared, or was shown to be, in favour of the people of Ireland taking back the powers wrested from them—since the foreign flag, that we have seen all our lives, disappeared from over Dublin Castle and the Curragh, and since the English soldiers went out and the Irish soldiers came in, and since the English Treasury ceased putting its hand in our pocket, and we are getting our own taxes, and since the people began to become again masters in their own land after hundreds of years. We were told the soul of Ireland was lost. There are men who believe the Irish people are a foolish people and a gullible people; but the effrontery of men—many of whom spent their lives against the Irish people —coming along now, when the Irish people are on the threshold of victory and telling them that the disappearance of the foreign flag and the reappearance of their own, that the disappearance of a foreign army and the appearance of their own, is the death of the Irish nation is beyond the conception of anybody, unless those who know what the effrontery of an Englishman could be. We are going to see that the people of Ireland garner the fruits of what they fought for. We are going to see that no intrigue is going to lose what has been gained and bring back to this country a foreign authority with a mandate and sympathy from the world. We are not going to see this country thrown back to where it was five or six years ago. We are not going to see it wrecked as it has been for years past. We are going to see that what men struggled and fought for and died for—the substantial independence of the Irish people—is placed on its proper footing, that Ireland is free to go ahead, and that the Irish nation is going again, for the first time in 300 years, to secure a firm foothold in its own land and to carve out its own destiny.
Now, A Chinn Chomhairle, I have said that we offered to those who opposed us in the Dáil and who misrepresent their constituents in that position, every possible thing that could be offered, short of denying the right of the Irish people to be the arbiters of their own destiny. We offered them a double election, a plebiscite a division of seats that would give them five seats to the one they could possibly win. We offered, as a last resort, to give them even their present proportion, provided they did not obstruct the Irish people in working out the Treaty. They have refused everything; and they have refused everything with the insolent threat to us of civil war. No man wishes to see civil war. It is an abhorrent thing. But the Government of a country that would be held up, having gone to the last limit—the last extreme—by a threat of civil war from any small body of men representing not two per cent. of the people—any government that would allow itself to be held up by a threat of civil war made against it, while advancing the interests of the people, and without giving them an opportunity of expressing their opinion, would be condemned for ever as a Government of poltroons. We will not be held up by that threat. We are making war on nobody. We are asserting the right of Ireland and the Irish people to express their opinion on the Treaty, and let the threat be what it may, and let the following action be what it may, we will assert that right.
In moving this, that is all I have got to say. We have gone now through months and months of talk and talk, while the nation is being destroyed, while brigandage and robbery and murder and the destruction of our commercial life are going on. We have offered everything that could be offered short of giving away the indefeasible right of the Irish people to pronounce on the issue before them. That we cannot give away. If we did we would go down as the basest cowards in Irish history. That we will not give away. If men will come with force of arms against us to attempt to prevent the Irish people expressing their opinion, all we can say is we are prepared to meet them on that issue, and those who will take up that issue and attempt to shed the blood of the Irish people rather than let them vote on the fundamental and vital question, will go down to Irish history through future generations, branded with a brand worse than the brand of Dermot MacMurrough. I am speaking not alone to those who are here, but to the people outside, and to those who will come after us, when I say that the men who prevent, or attempt to prevent the people of Ireland, by force of arms, from exercising their fundamental right will go down to future generations branded with the brand of Dermot MacMurrough—as the greatest traitors in Irish history. Now, I have nothing more to say except this: the fight now being forced upon us is a fight for the fundamental rights of the people. It transcends the issue of "Treaty or No Treaty." It is the issue of whether the people have a right, or have no right, to decide on the issues which affect them and the country. Abraham Lincoln said:
"While acting as the representative of the people, I shall be governed by their will on all subjects upon which I have the means of knowing what their will is, and upon all others I shall do what my own judgment bids me to best advance their interest."
We know what the Irish people's will is. Everyone knows it is that the Treaty be taken and worked. Let those who, having refused every offer and advance, and every attempt we made to find a way to save their precious faces—to give them what they were not entitled to have—now turn round and threaten the Irish people —let them take those words to heart. We are prepared on that issue to meet them. The Irish people are going to pronounce on the Treaty, and no matter what force is attempted against them, we are prepared to stand by the fundamental right of the people before the nation is delivered back into the hands of its enemies. The people of Ireland shall pronounce their view, no matter what force is brought against them. I beg, therefore, to propose this motion in accordance with the right of the people and the terms of the Treaty entered into between Ireland and Great Britain.
A Chinn Chomhairle, looking back over the controversy we have had in Ireland since. December last, it seems to me that the wisest words that were spoken in the course of that controversy were spoken by the Deputy for East Clare:
"There is a constitutional way of settling those differences of ours; in God's name let us not depart from it."
Those were the wisest words that were spoken in this six months' controversy. Would that the speaker had adhered to them. Would that he had not gone later to Killarney and Thurles and told excitable young men there that if they continued to go forward to their objective, as he hoped they would, it would be necessary for them to wade through Irish blood, including that of some members of the Government——
I beg once more here to deny that. It is an absolute misrepresentation.
I have generally found my memory reliable.
Memory in these matters! These misrepresentations should cease. Since this controversy started, misrepresentations and misquotations of that kind have been brought forward without any proof and without anything to substantiate them.
I have generally found my memory reliable——
Remember what you said in Offaly about 99 per cent.
If on looking up the Press reports I find that I have misquoted the Deputy, I will——
I publicly denied it as a misrepresentation. I deny it now. It is a misrepresentation. I deny it now, and let that end it.
I am willing to accept the denial.
I denied in the Irish Independent that I made this statement, and the thousands of people who listened to me know it is a lie.
I, as one who listened to him, know it is a lie.
Can I take it that I quote properly about the "constitutional way"?
Yes, and I for one never departed from it. I am the one in this House who paid the respect to the Assembly that it deserves.
We are going to afford you a constitutional way of settling these differences——
All right; if you do it then we will accept it.
In the course of the debate yesterday, or the day before, we were asked: "Is this Treaty of yours worth civil war?" Perhaps it is. The Treaty confers, in my opinion, very great benefits, very great advantages, and very great opportunities on the Irish people and I would not declare off-hand that it is not worth civil war. But if civil war occurs in Ireland it will not be for the Treaty. It will not be for a Free State versus anything else. It will be for a vital fundamental, democratic principle—for the right of the people of Ireland to decide any issue, great or small, that arises in the politics of this country. Never before in Ireland by Irishmen has that right been challenged. That right is sacred. That right, in my opinion, is worth defending by those who have a mandate to defend it. We have a representative character here. From that comes our authority; from that comes any power we have; from that comes any moral strength in our position or in the things we do. In so far as we carry out the will of the Irish people, we have authority; if we flout that will, we have none. It was well said lately by a Bishop whose support in our struggle is well known, that the man who kills without a mandate from his people, without a constitutional democratic mandate, is a murderer——
And that the man who steals, who takes the goods of his neighbour without such a mandate is a thief. Lately in Ireland we have had rather a crude and localised application of the dictum: "The country is yours for the taking; take it." We have youths going about with revolvers stealing their neighbours' monies from the Banks, and stealing their neighbours' motor cars, because, forsooth, the country was theirs for the taking. Now we have got to know where we stand—where everyone in this Assembly stands. We have got to know whether he denies or acknowledges the sovereign indefeasible right of the Irish people to decide on political issues in Ireland. We are going to settle those differences, I hope, in the constitutional way recommended to us by the Deputy for East Clare. Men went around and raised the bogey of civil war, and it seems to me they have succeeded in frightening themselves by that bogey more than they have anyone else. Now, they come to us on their knees and say: "Won't you agree to this, and that and everything else, so that we may be saved from civil war." We agreed to quite a lot of things. Then there was criticism of the register. A plebiscite was refused. It was called simply a "stone-age plebiscite" and thrown on one side. Every man and woman in Ireland of 21 years of age was free to pronounce for or against the Treaty. But the register was not good enough. As far as I see, the register is pretty good. It is a better register than the register on which most of the members here were returned. That was good enough for them then, and they claimed they had a democratic, constitutional mandate. Now, if they like, they are free to go to the people and seek a renewal of the mandate. The people are presented with a set of circumstances which neither we here on these benches nor you, on the Opposition benches, are capable of altering. The people in these circumstances are entitled to declare their will, and the people will get an opportunity of declaring their will. Those who are opposed to the Treaty have not explained to the Treaty supporters how they can dig trenches to keep the British Navy away, or snipe at it from behind a ditch. The people, at any rate, are capable of judging the facts with which they are presented, and of examining the set of circumstances, and they have the right to declare their will within these circumstances. They will be asked shortly to declare their will. There were offers here that we, officially as a Party, should contest only a certain number of seats. Personally, I think we ourselves went near trifling with what is fundamental, trifling with a thing that cannot be outraged without serious reactions, trifling with the absolute right of the people to chose their own representatives and their policy in any given set of circumstances. We were threatened with "terrible and immediate civil war" if we did not ram certain gentlemen down the necks of their reluctant constituents. So we, at last, went the length of saying we would only contest a certain number of seats that would ensure a working majority in the future Parliament, so that the Treaty which the Irish people would take and work, would be taken and worked in security. That was waived aside. With no undertakings, or pledges, or guarantees that the people would not be jockeyed and their will flouted, it was suggested that the present representation in the Dáil should come back to the next Parliament. Personally, I am glad that no such oil-and-water and wolf-and-lamb Coalition was agreed upon——
It would not be very good for you.
Now we get down to fundamentals. We are going out now to the final court of appeal. We are going to the sovereign people. We are going out to try that constitutional way which was so wisely and so eloquently recommended to us by the Deputy from East Clare. It gives me great pleasure, and real, solid satisfaction, to second the motion moved by the President of the Dáil, declaring elections for the constituencies as set out, nominations to be on the 6th June and polling on the 16th June.
As I am well aware that the two gentlemen who have spoken—two Irishmen—do not understand their own language, I will speak to them in the language of their masters. Now if this election is persisted in, and succeeds, Ireland will be divided into two states—two British Dominions. Listen to what President Griffith—then Mr. Arthur Griffith—said in his pre-Free State days:
"There can be no two states in Ireland and the Irish nation yet persist. If such there were, then, like Poland, the name of Ireland would pass from the roll of nations and this Ireland become the Vistula province of the British Empire."
President Griffith has also spoken about the minority—with contempt for the minority. I will give you President Griffith's opinion of minorities in his pre-Free State days:
"The Provisional Committee of the present Volunteer Movement has surrendered unconditionally to Mr. Redmond. It has broken faith with its various political sections and with the individuals of the rank and file. It took the priceless trust of youth and it has betrayed the trust. We are sorry for those men who, in the hour of peace, prate of war, and, in the hour of war, prate of peace. Ireland, like all enslaved countries, breeds them in abundance. Of them we shall say no more. Let those who scoff at Ireland because of this unprincipled surrender remember that one-third of the Committee remained faithful to their trust, and that it is minorities that saved Ireland from national destruction from the day a minority sustained Owen Roe O'Neill to the day when a minority upheld Charles Stewart Parnell."
Does President Griffith say "Hear, hear!" to that?
President Griffith never wrote those lines.
Those lines are taken from Sinn Féin, July 20th, 1914. They form part of a leading article——
I never wrote them.
They are part of a leading article in a paper of which Mr. Griffith was the editor. Now, President Griffith has referred to the negotiations. It is just as well to review the whole situation, so that we will be able to estimate the position exactly, especially owing to the way in which it has been misrepresented—the whole position. We all know that the Truce came as a result of the war. When the British could not beat us by force of arms, they resorted to trickery. The Truce was called. We appointed delegates to go to London. Here are the credentials given to our five delegates——
Well, our five plenipotentiaries. The credentials read:
"To all whom these presents give greeting. In virtue of the authority vested in me by Dáil Éireann, I appoint Arthur Griffith, T.D., Minister of Foreign Affairs (Chairman); Michael Collins, T.D., Minister of Finance; Robert C. Barton, T.D., Minister of Economic Affairs; Edmond J. Duggan, T.D., and George Gavan Duffy, T.D., as envoys plenipotentiary from the elected Government of the Republic of Ireland to negotiate and conclude on behalf of Ireland with the representatives of His Brittanic Majesty, King George V, a treaty or treaties of settlement, association and accommodation between Ireland and the community of nations known as the British Commonwealth. In witness whereof I hereunto subscribe my name as President—E. de Valera, Dublin, 7th October, 1921."
These gentlemen were, therefore, the envoys plenipotentiary of the elected Government of the Republic of Ireland. And what did they do? So far as they could do it, they turned the Republic into a British Dominion. We were not beaten in the war. Germany was. Did the German delegates or plenipotentiaries turn Germans into French subjects? Those delegates attempt to turn Irish citizens into British subjects. In addition to these credentials, they accepted their position as our plenipotentiaries with the following instructions:—
"(1) The plenipotentiaries to have full powers as defined in their credentials.
"(2) It is understood, however, that before decisions are finally reached on the main questions, that a despatch notifying the intention of making these decisions will be sent to the members of the Cabinet in Dublin, and that a reply will be awaited by the plenipotentiaries before a final decision is made——
"(3) It is also understood the complete text of the draft Treaty about to be signed will be similarly submitted to Dublin and reply awaited——
Nuair a bheidh deire againn leis an Uachtarán beidh sé fuiriste leabhairt leis.
"(4) In case of a break the text of the final proposals from our side will be similarly submitted.
"(5) It is understood the Cabinet in Dublin will be kept regularly informed of the progress of the negotiations."
Now, President Griffith and his co-plenipotentiaries, instead of abiding by those instructions, signed this document without submitting it to us. Moreover, on the Saturday before they went away for the last time, President Griffith gave the Cabinet an undertaking that he would not sign any document involving allegiance on behalf of Irishmen to England's King, or the inclusion of Ireland in the British Empire.
My respect for this body prevents me from giving President Griffith his proper name. If President Griffith did not give us that undertaking neither he, nor the others, would ever have been allowed to go away again on that Saturday.
They were sent by the Dáil.
Who would prevent them?
Mr. Michael Collins, on that Saturday, after some rather heated passages between him and me, made an offer on behalf of himself and, so far as I understood it, on behalf of the other four, that if we were dissatisfied with the way they had conducted the negotiations, that we should keep them in Dublin and get another team. I for one would have insisted upon that offer being accepted only that President Griffith gave this under-taking——
As I have said before, my respect for you, A Chinn Chomhairle, and this House prevents me giving President Griffith his proper name.
The minutes of the Cabinet will give you the answer to that.
When I come to them later I will read them out.
What I am about to say now is most important for this body here, and for the Irish public. It was bad enough that our plenipotentiaries, representing the Irish Republic, should let us down, and do their best, so far as they could, to turn Irish citizens into British subjects by signing this document, but the sordid tactics to which they have resorted since they came home, and especially to get a majority in this Dáil, were worse. First, the Proclamation of Easter Week, 1916, speaks of a body known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood being used to bring the Irish Republic into existence. Noble men, such as the seven immortals who worked all their lives to bring the Republic into existence, made use of this body—a body up to this of noble patriots who carried on because they considered themselves the custodians of the Fenian tradition. This body, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, was used to get a majority in this Dáil, and the majority of seven by which this Treaty was approved of in this Dáil could never have been got only that the Irish Republican Brotherhood was used in this way. A set of dastards calling themselve "The Supreme Council" sent a document to each member of the Dáil who was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, telling them it was their opinion —the opinion of those dastards, as I call them—that this Treaty should be accepted. In other words, the body that was used to bring the Republic into existence has been prostituted in order to disestablish the Republic. There is only one way that the dastards responsible for this can ever expiate this crime, and it is by dying for Ireland. And when we take the field again against England, as I daresay we will have to before we get what we want—although there was a great possibility before this was signed of our getting what we wanted without having to resort to arms again—when we take the field again against England, if I am to the fore, I will see that those dastards get an opportunity of dying for Ireland, and though I have never committed any crime against Ireland, I will not ask them to do anything I am not prepared to do myself. Moreover, here are some more of the tactics they resorted to in order to get this passed: they sent people around to the hotels to meet the country delegates—the country Deputies—coming up for the Dáil meeting at which this thing was to be discussed. A certain slanderous sneak met two Deputies from County Mayo—Dr. Crowley and Dr. Ferran—and he poured vile lies into their ears regarding President de Valera and the two Ministers who stood by him in the action that he took over our men having signed this Treaty. I think Dr. Ferran, who is present—Dr. Crowley, unfortunately, is unwell—can bear testimony to that. I will not lower the standard of the Dáil by repeating the vile slanders this slanderous sneak poured into their ears. In any case, they got their majority. Now, this election, if it be persisted in and goes through, means partition and it means that we will henceforth be known to the world as British subjects as long as the thing lasts. I have already read you some extracts, one of which President Griffith has repudiated, though it appeared as an editorial in his own paper. I will give you some more of his ideas on partition:
"Ireland is the sole proprietor of Ulster, not the generation on Ulster ground. No generation has the right to barter or alienate any part of the national heritage. The nation does not only exist in the breath of the living generations. It is the trust transmitted to it from the past generations which it in turn must transmit to the next generation. No living men on the soil of Ulster to-day possess the right to say that by their assent to alienage from Ireland they can confound all generations of the Ulster nationalism that went before them, and exile all the generations yet to be. In a word, the people of the country cannot barter its independence in consideration of a gain to themselves. This country belongs to them for their generation and for no longer."
President Griffith, in his speech just now, spoke about humbugs. He now asks that we should have an election, which means partition. And that was his view of partition, as published in his own paper on April 19th, 1914. Moreover, he says again:
"If Ireland were an independent country worsted in a foreign war, she might be forced to pay a heavy price. But there is one price she would never pay while there is virtue in her heart—the alienation of a square foot of her territory. If she paid that price, her independence would be gone."
That is all right.
Go maith. This election means partition and President Griffith says it is all right. Listen to what President Griffith said in a leading article on March 21st, 1914:
"National principle has been sacrificed by those who accepted the proposal to alienate Irish soil, whether it be for a day or for eternity. Let Ireland not sacrifice its commonsense also."
And listen to what President Griffith wrote on April 11th of the same year. Doubtless he will say it is quite right too:
"In a partitioned Ireland England will be stronger than she is to-day."
President Griffith nods his head. Therefore he wants England to be stronger than she is to-day.
"On any question affecting English interest in Ireland, she will be stronger to play off the north against the south than she is even now."
President Griffith again nods his head; he wants England to be stronger to play off north against south——
I stand by my words. Will you stand by your words that you will never coerce Ulster?
Address the Chair.
I stand by whatever I said.
And to continue President Griffith's article:
"She will be the stronger to play off the north against the south than she is even now. She can play them off against each other far more powerfully when they are incorporated as separate legislative or administrative entities."
Document No. 2.
And President Griffith talks about humbugs. President Griffith says he wants this question to be decided by the people of Ireland. I agree. His way of getting the people of Ireland to decide it is by disfranchising the people of six counties in Ireland, and also by having the election fought on a register that everyone, even including the Minister for Local Government admits to be wrong. Is not that so?
Address the Chair.
I did not address the Minister for Local Government. I addressed the House and the Chair, A Chinn Chomhairle. I ask again does the Minister for Local Government admit that the present register is wrong? Silence gives consent.
If I may say so, Sir—I believe I am entitled to interrupt in a case like this—I did not admit it.
This question of the register was tested in a little village within a couple of miles of Dublin quite recently. It was found to be 26 per cent. wrong. Now, I would like to hear what the Minister for Local Government has got to say about that. There is absolutely no doubt about it that the register is wrong. If the Minister for Local Government had admitted what everyone, including himself knows to be true, I would not state what I am now about to state. And it is this: It is owing to the fact that we have an incompetent official in the shape of a Minister for Local Government that the register is wrong. The Minister for Local Government approximately some 15 or 16 months ago —in or about—got instructions from the Cabinet to issue an order that no jurors' lists were to be made out. We were in a position to carry out all such functions ourselves in our own courts and we were not going to allow jurors to participate in any of the functions of the British Courts. Consequently, we gave instructions to the Minister for Local Government to issue an order that no jurors' lists were to be made out. What does this incompetent official do, on his own admission, and he did not report it to the Cabinet until approximately eight or nine months afterwards? He sent out an order that no jurors' lists or voters' lists were to be made out. Hence the register in its present condition. But apart altogether from the register, this vital matter should be decided by the Irish people. President Griffith himself has said so. It should therefore be decided on adult suffrage and in the whole 32 counties. If that be done and if the same undertaking be asked for from England which President Griffith himself suggested should be asked for when Mr. Lloyd George invited the Sinn Féin Executive to participate in his Convention—that is that the Irish people are free to declare their own absolute independence, and England will give a guarantee to the United States for one (we can decide upon the other Powers if this be agreed to) that she will abide by the decision of the Irish people—then I will be in favour of the election. I am not in favour of such an election as this, and I ask all you people who have the interests of your country at heart—even though you have approved of the Treaty, I do not believe you want to have your country divided and I believe, moreover, you really want to see that your countrymen and countrywomen should have a voice in this matter—not to vote for this proposal of President Griffith.
A few sentences in President Griffith's statement occur to me. They are, first of all, that the people of Ireland should be allowed to vote freely for any form of Government which they desire. That is the fundamental principle of democracy in every country in the world, and if the people get their free choice, unhindered and unhampered, we are prepared to face the election immediately. There is something else upon which I agree with him, and it is this: that no person, or body of people, should produce their revolvers and threaten the people for expressing their free will. The proper place for President Griffith to make that suggestion was before Lloyd George when he was speaking to him, and when he was selling away the birthright of his country. I also wish to tell him when he mentions that no threats will prevent the people on his side from carrying out the elections, that no threats, and no bullying, and no revolvers or machine guns will prevent the people from expressing their will or force some of the people of Ireland, at least, to go in as willing subjects to the British Empire. The people for 750 years have been fighting against inclusion in the British Empire, and surely the people of 750 years ago or even in more recent times were not such mighty fools when they could have prevented all the bloodshed by doing what President Griffith wants us to do now—go in with our heads up into the British Empire. They could have done that, but they would not go into the Empire. Why have there been those centuries of bloodshed, and why the bloodshed of the last three or six years? We could have got, two, or three or six years ago, or last December, what we have now. But there is the inviolable principle we must stand on— the ancient birthright of the Irish people, and their right to vote for any form of government which they desire, and to go in unhindered and unhampered. If Mr. Griffith is anxious to avoid fresh struggle and strife, he has the means at his disposal immediately, and he can easily use them. It is useless for Mr. Griffith to pretend that he has 98 or 99 per cent. of the people with him. He declared he had 98 per cent. of the people with him during the past six months. I wonder what can the people of any country think of a man who has to admit that 98 per cent. were not able to govern the other 2 per cent.? Surely the people are not fools. On his side, I know there are brave, determined men. Surely, they do not consider they are such cowards? If there is any humbug at all on any side in this House, I think Mr. Griffith can find easily that it is on his side when he tries to make the people of Ireland believe they are willing to go into the British Empire. If he wants an election free and unhampered, he can have it in the morning. I for one would not advise the people to go in willingly with their heads up into the British Empire.
There have been a good many smart things said since the beginning of this debate and I think that really the time has come to address ourselves with not quite so much heat and passion to the merits of the case. The point that has been made up to the present is that this election divides Ireland into two states. Well now, that is not so, and I should have thought at this hour of the day—at this stage at least— that Deputies would really know what the Treaty was. If we are arguing about the Treaty, we should know what it is. If we are arguing about some other document or some other condition of affairs, we are losing our time. The Irish Free State, brought into existence by the Treaty, comprises the whole of Ireland. A certain concession—a very small measure of autonomy, of self-government—has been given to certain counties in the north. But, while that is so, the powers of the Irish Free State, even if these counties are to take these concessions, are, so far as the general interests which are common to both sides, exercisable by the Irish Free State. For instance, railways, transit, fisheries —all these in the northern counties—are controlled by the Government of the Irish Free State. They are controlled by a body which is equally representative, and which has the same number of representatives of the Irish Free State and the six northern counties. So that for most important matters—for the general matters which concern the whole of Ireland—there is a body equally representative of north and south, which deals with them in the six counties. And remember, these counties have absolutely no control over any services in the south. That is just a fact which I want to bring to your notice. What strikes me as peculiar is that at this, the eleventh hour, there are objections on principle to special concessions being given to the north. What is the meaning of "We will not coerce Ulster"? What was the significance of that statement? Why is the coercion of Ulster, or North-East Ulster, or a few counties in Ulster, made a principle now? Why is it that when this difficulty had to be met and when Deputy de Valera put forward one solution of it that that solution contained exactly the same terms as the Treaty——
I have been charged on a good many occasions by Deputy de Valera with misrepresentation, but this is in the memory of the House.
It is here on paper, on the programme they got going over, and which I will read out when I come to it.
I was charged last week with misrepresentation, but the records are there. I saw them. I do not give twopence about these charges. I do not rush into the Press when misrepresentations are made. The records are there. Let them be examined by the other side, if they have not the decency to withdraw these charges. Everyone here read Document No. 2 and we know what is in it, and the same terms were made in it for North-East Ulster as are in the Treaty. I read them no later than last night.
Read them now.
I did not bring it here. And yet Deputy de Valera tells us it is a misrepresentation.
I will deal with that when I come to it.
I hope you will. I want to know if that is so, why is it the principle now that there should be no concessions made in the circumstances to a few counties in Ulster? Are we trying to get to the merits of the case, or merely scoring points over each other in the most important crisis in the history of our country? I could go behind that. How many members from the six counties have been returned to the Dáil? Was there one-fourth? When the Dáil declared the Republic how many members were elected to it from this area? Why does it become suddenly necessary that the whole of the six counties should have a say now? Why should that become necessary? I will tell you why. When you are out for destruction, anything is good enough. Destruction is easy. It is irresponsible. But construction is not.
Now about the register. We debated that. For a quarter of an hour Deputy Brugha spoke about the register. The register was supposed to be deficient because certain people were not on it. For the purpose of deciding this issue, we offered to put these people, and a lot more, on it. We offered a plebiscite. But that was turned down. And yet here we are—most of us over the age of twenty-one—coolly arguing the register question at this hour of the day. Is this a debating society, or is it expected that that sort of thing will deceive anybody? I heard an argument even about guarantees from England. When I heard it first, I really did not believe it was serious. We are not to have an election in this country until England gives certain guarantees. Now, what is the meaning of that? It means that we could not, and should not, have an election in this country for the next two or three hundred years. That is what it means. That may be begging the question, but that is the best way to put it. This is advanced as a serious argument against the election. It seems to me that we are looking at Ireland as a sort of geometrical problem. We see it before us on a map, and we are making all sorts of abstruse calculations and geometrical calculations in regard to it. We are talking about partition and drawing a line between one part of Ireland and another, and pumping up a lot of passion about it which I cannot understand, when all the time, as every man who views the real problem in Ulster knows, that passion should be reserved for the people in Ulster and for the real problem in Ulster. The Ulster problem is not a mere problem in Euclid. It is a problem of how best to preserve the lives and liberties of nationalists in Ulster, and finally achieve the unity of Ireland. If there is any passion to be expended, that is the real problem. We are going to have an election on this question, and I am not going to debate the merits of the Treaty again. I said here, like many another man in the Treaty debates, that this Treaty was an acknowledgment of our independence. I believe that, and I had not my tongue in my cheek when I was saying that. I believed it, and I believe it still, and I believe every day makes it clearer. As such it is our absolute duty to put this Treaty to the Irish people, and the sections, big or small, who are trying to prevent us putting this Treaty to the Irish people are—I will use no adjectives—tyrants.
A Chinn Chomhairle, agus a mhuintir na Dála, níl aon fhonn ormsa labhaire anso indiu, mar urchóid sea é dár dtír. I as an humble member of the Dáil would like to know why we were kept here all day yesterday while the Minister of Finance and Mr. de Valera were discussing peace negotiations in the outer hall. I would like to know, for the benefit of this Assembly and the Irish people, why these negotiations broke down, and I would like, as one member of the Assembly, that these discussions would be put on the records of this Assembly, because I know, if we are going to assert the right of the Irish people to pronounce on this question what is going to happen. I know there will be thousands of Irishmen and Irishwomen less in this country on the 15th July next, because I know that in certain areas in the country there is going to be civil war. We all know what civil war means, and it is all very fine for some of the Deputies who voted against the Treaty to smile. I know the heart of the country and I know the way the people are divided and the way families are divided. I know this thing will not end in July, or in July fifty years hence. At the end of that time, when you have a general election, you will not have the Treaty or the Republic. You are going to have the British back here: make no mistake about it. I think we here ought to know in very plain English or in very plain Irish, why these negotiations broke down. We do not want the people, or the Teachtai who voted for this Treaty to go down to history as national apostates. We do not want the people who voted against the Treaty to go down as the Republicans and the men of great principle. Now there is no use in discussing who is at fault, whether it be Deputy de Valera, in accepting the greatest shot that was ever put into a cannon, in June 1921, or President Griffith, in signing the Treaty. That is all immaterial to the Irish people. It is all equally immaterial to the man in Donegal and the man in the Dingle peninsula. All we want to know is how our own country, Ireland, is going to get out of this terrible trouble. We know when the Treaty was brought back that four members of the Cabinet voted for it and two voted against. That was majority rule. We know that in this Dáil, free and unfettered, the majority were for the Treaty. We want to know now if this country is to be denied the right to pronounce on that Treaty, or if civil war is to be proclaimed. Does it mean that if the people are to exercise their right to pronounce on the Treaty, it means their destruction? A lot has been said here about the state of the register. I say, and let any Deputies contradict me if they like, that the register is up to the standard of 1918—1921. The figures for 1918 are in Thom's Directory for that year for every constituency in Ireland. They are also in Thom's Directory for 1921 and the biggest day Ireland ever saw in Parliamentary elections was on the 13th May, 1921, when we returned 124 Teachtaí to the Dáil unopposed. The register was sound then. If it was sound then, it is sound to-day, and I hold that in every constituency in Ireland the same number of electors is on the register to-day as on the 13th May, 1921. Now we are entitled to know here why these negotiations between the Minister of Finance, Mr. Michael Collins and Deputy de Valera broke down. That is the issue, and we are entitled to know it. I for one claim for my constituents that they are entitled to know it in any case.
My chief reason in asking that the Reports of the two committees should be discussed in the Dáil was to obviate this question of the election. Since it has been decided to bring the matter up, I want, if I possibly can, to approach this question from the point of view of the Treaty. In my opinion, the Treaty is not an accomplished fact until one month after the Constitution of the Free State comes from the British Lords and one month after that Ulster has the option to go in or remain out. In the event of Ulster deciding to go out, under the Articles of Agreement it is laid down that a Boundary Commission shall be appointed to rectify the boundaries. It was my clear understanding of that fact that led me to make proposals at the peace conference that would at least keep the forces of the Republic united until there was a definite proposition put before them. I say here now deliberately that this decree of Dáil Éireann is a violation of the Treaty. The Treaty admits the unity of Ireland in principle at least, but by our own act, as the Government of the Republic, we partition it by that election and I appeal to Mr. Griffith and the men on the other benches not to cast that slur on this Assembly. I, for one, stated here the other day that I recognised our position in this House becomes impossible if we deny the right of the people who sent us here to decide on our actions. I still stand for that. I also stated another very well recognised practice by peoples, and that is the way of revolution. But I want to see, if possible, out of the stress and struggle of the past six years, a constitutional method of winning the Republic without sacrifice of any Republican principles. When I say that I mean that any Constitution drawn up for the Parliament of Ireland should not have an oath of allegiance to a British King. I know, from one of the majority, of men who voted for the Treaty because it was expressly stated by men, whom they have no reason to doubt, that when the Constitution was put up no Republican could find fault with it. Therefore all my work on that Peace Committee has been to conserve the forces of the Republic until such time as there is another alternative placed before us and the Irish people. I ask and I appeal to the men on the opposite benches not to proceed with this election decree by Dáil Éireann. This Dáil was the first Dáil so decreed by the Irish people. We took advantage of the British electoral machinery to constitute the Parliament of the Republic. I was at that time Honorary Secretary to Sinn Féin, when most of the leaders were in prison, and I remember well the question being debated as to whether we should contest the elections in every constituency in Ireland, or not. It was pointed out then that we recognised Ireland as a unit and every constituency in Ireland should be contested. Every constituency in Ireland was contested and in so far as we could make it then and in so far as the Dáil could hold it since, a united Ireland is represented here. So long as the Deputy for Fermanagh sits in this House, and the Deputies for Armagh, Down, and Tyrone sit in this House, long do we preserve, in so far as we can, the unity of Ireland. I am not approaching this question as if there was not an Ulster difficulty. The reason I am against this Treaty is that if it be carried out in the letter and the spirit, this Treaty will place a third obstacle in the read of those who will continue to fight for the Republic. We have two obstacles at present to our complete independence, one in Ulster and one in Britain. You men who signed the Treaty, if you do not draft a Constitution that will give the Republican ideal in Parliament will be guilty of a crime against the Irish nation, and you will commit this country to endless wars and revolution. I know thoroughly well there is an Ulster difficulty. I do not expect the President or Cabinet can get over that difficulty. But I ask, in so far as this Assembly of the Republic is concerned, that any decree emanating from it as such, should be a decree that an election be held throughout Ireland.
On Tuesday last the representatives of the Opposition side agreed that an election be held throughout Ireland on the one day. What has happened from Tuesday to Friday that we are now asked to vote for an election for the twenty-six counties? In the proposals we placed before you, we gave you a way out and I urge again that the House of Parliament of the Republic should not, by its own act, decree an election for the twenty-six counties, thereby admitting partition. Sir James Craig has stated he did not want a Parliament in the north —that it had been forced upon him. We have never recognised the Northern Parliament or the right of the British Government to make laws for this country. But if the British Government find it necessary to give the force of British law to their Articles of Agreement to have an election, we, consistent with our practice in the past, can avail of that without stultifying our position. It was our clear understanding of the situation that confronted us going into that conference that led us to base our proposals for a coalition as they are based here. I am sorry the President persists in bringing forward his proposal for an election here before the House, until such time as the House has an opportunity of deciding as between the two reports. I am not going to throw any heat into this, but I state the Coalition is possible and can yet be achieved if the men on the other side will put their Constitution up and let us see if in this Constitution the independence of the country can be gained by Parliamentary methods. I warn them and would ask them to think well on it. The course I advise, if there is a possibility of a break with England on the Constitution, is the best course. It is the issue of the break that will be appreciated by the world, and if the Constitution be such that England cannot accept it, I hold that with the forces of the Republic in the field, when the break comes, we can force England to accept a Constitution satisfactory to all. I appeal to the House, before they vote on this question, to realise that the President of the Dáil is asking the Government of the Republic to decree an election which from the point of view of the Republic, recognises Partition, and further that by doing so, it is a deliberate breach of the Articles of Agreement, signed by the President and his colleagues in London. Do not let it be said that this Assembly partitioned Ireland, and gave Sir James Craig and the British Government a weapon that can be used against Ireland for all time.
I want to protest very earnestly against the futility of this debate and the inclination to return to bitterness, which is getting back into this House. We passed the last day or two here with a hope in our hearts, and with reason to know there was hope in the hearts of our people, that some of the gathering bitterness and intensity of feeling that had gathered around the two political parties in the country, would be smoothed away and that the people would be protected from the dangers and disasters that were going to come upon them—dangers, and disasters, and disorders that have been gathering day by day, and month by month for the past three or four months, until now they are culminating in things at which every man and women in Ireland has to bow their heads when they contemplate what they mean. I simply want to protest against the lines upon which this debate is going and I want to suggest that we depart from all the little points of argument, on this, our 47th debate on the Treaty, and that we go back and find out for the information of both sides in the House on what particular point in their discussions yesterday, Mr. de Valera and Mr. Collins disagreed. As far as I can feel, they came to some small thin dividing line of difference, and whether that line can be pierced or whether it cannot, the important thing for our dignity, and for the safety of the people whom we represent here, is that we should know simply and clearly and without any oratory or any rhetoric, what are the broad points upon which disagreement has arisen and which still keep this House sundered, without any common objective that they can unite and work on, and that keeps the two Parties in this House divided perhaps by some small difference, but yet divided so completely that they are able to slip back to the futility and disgrace which is apparent here in this House.
Ba mhaith liom aontú le na bfuil ráite ag an teachta a labhair anois romham. Ní dhéanfainn é sin ach ar eagla fé mar a thuit amach go minic cheana, na deanfaí beart da réir. I entirely endorse the speech to which the House has just listened. I wonder if I may have the temerity to suggest that the unfortunate course of events to-day is entirely due to what I may describe as the very unfortunate ruling given at the outset.
This House, day after day, and week after week, has appointed Committee after Committee to enquire into the possibilities of securing an arrangement. The most promising of these Committees, and the one which took us most along the road which we desire to travel, brought in two reports. It was impossible to bring in a united report and two reports were placed before the House, and at that time the House felt there was very little dividing the parties in that Committee and that a working agreement, compatible with the position of both sides, was a possibility. Owing to some technicality of procedure the House was prevented from discussing the Reports. I think that is all the more unfortunate when one remembers the hours which members of this House have been allowed to spend on comparatively trivial and unimportant matters. Even if there were not still a possibility of a satisfactory arrangement, I agree with the Deputy from North Cork that the House and the country are at least entitled to know the position. You are faced with a far more marked departure from this strict correctness of procedure than on the question which arose at the assembling of the House to-day. I submit to you, A Chinn Comhairle, and through you to the House, that questions of procedure and Standing Orders— although we have a great many experts on them in this House—pale into insignificance while we are discussing an election here. It does not matter what we think about the right or wrong of any particular course. While we all realise that the most serious results may follow, and while we still have an opportunity of preventing these terrible results, are we going to be prevented from considering the matter owing to some finicky point of order?
I am going to deal with that, but not because my conduct in the matter has been impeached. The question of whether I was right or wrong is one of no importance at all. But I would suggest to the various Deputies that they gave me very little assistance in the conduct of the business of this House. This motion to go into a discussion on these reports was sprung upon me. No Deputy who has things of that kind to bring forward, which he thinks would be of importance, and which he thinks would facilitate the business of this House, has ever found me unapproachable. I think it is the duty of Deputies, when anything of the kind has to be introduced into the Orders of the Day, especially if they wish me to do something which may be exceptional and about which my ruling might be uncertain, to consult me. We were going to have a prolongation of a discussion and new issues raised and a matter which had been before the House already in another form. To prevent a departure into an entirely new matter—we have seen these prolongations before—I did not allow it. If the Lord Mayor of Cork, or Deputy Boland, or Deputy de Valera had shown me how this matter was going to assist the business of the House, I think they would have found I would be the foremost person here to co-operate with them in that way.
There is a Standing Order here dealing with rules of debate. No. 8, head G, says:
"No Deputy shall make a personal charge against another, nor use offensive remarks about another."
I am going to deal with that, because, in future, I hope for your assistance. Without your assistance I cannot do it. I hope for your assistance in having that rule enforced. For one thing, I hope none of you, no matter from what side it comes, will show any sympathy with any breach of that rule. The Prime Minister has broken that rule and broken it very seriously, and the reason why I say that is because he is the principal member of this House, and because when I here reprove him for breaking it, I put myself in a better position before the rest of you. It is difficult, indeed, to restrain Deputies from violating that rule. It can be violated more by innuendo, sometimes, than directly, and it is very difficult for one in my position to draw the line. I do not want to go back on previous incidents but I think the Prime Minister made a mistake to-day at the close of his speech and I will refer to it now. It was when he spoke of the names of Deputies who would take a certain line, being associated with the name of Dermot MacMurrough as traitors. I am perfectly certain there is tremendous tension—and it is no wonder—on all our minds. I hope it is no greater on the mind of anyone present than it is on mine. There is tremendous tension, and the greater the tension the greater the reason for self-control. I do not think the Prime Minister meant that remark seriously. I am of the opinion that if he believed anyone was a traitor to Ireland, he would cut the person off from all communication with himself. These figures of speech are the most serious offences against the Standing Order, because they are the most difficult to restrain. We have enormous issues before us. We all believe that. They are issues in comparison with which any personal issue is a mere trifle. I take the opportunity of mentioning that now, as my ruling was called in question, in order to appeal to the whole of you, from the Prime Minister right through all the ranks of the members of the House, to assist me in every way you can in keeping the personal element out of these discussions in future. I hope now my ruling on that matter has been explained. If people have matters to bring forward, they ought to take some opportunity of mentioning them to me in advance.
You, A Chinn Chomhairle, have referred to me specifically. You are against personal attacks in this House. Now, I have been for the last six months sitting here at sessions of the Dáil, and you have heard me continually called a traitor, and you have heard me called other opprobrious names, and you never once interfered. You single me out to-day because I said those who, by force of arms, oppose the will of the Irish people will go down in history with Dermot MacMurrough. He was the man who brought the English in. They are the people who are bringing the English back. I repeat what I said. I can have no objection to any man by constitutional means, by following the laws of the Dáil or by every constitutional means, opposing the will of the people. But any men who stand here or outside and say that, by force of arms, they will prevent the Irish people expressing their will, I repeat will go down in history as the men who brought the English in, because they are bringing them back.
MR. J. O'DWYER:
I want to explain, in justice to Deputy Boland, what occurred before the assembling of the House. I saw Deputy Boland with reference to the fact that the negotiations had broken down. He suggested to me that the course we would take would be this: That the Dáil should go into a discussion of the two reports and decide as between them, and I went straight to you, Sir, and I asked you— you will remember, the Secretary of the Dáil was with you at the time—how we stood, and you told me there was a motion before the House, which I had forgotten, and only remembered then. Now, I believe in the Standing Orders, and I simply respected them. As far as the Standing Orders and Rules of Debate are concerned, I try to follow them. I accepted that then as absolutely putting the course of conduct that Deputy Boland suggested to me out of court and I went no further with it. It is perhaps more my fault than Deputy Boland's that you did not get an opportunity of discussing with the two of us, his idea of what the procedure should be. I mention that to set the House right in regard to Deputy Boland, in view of the suspicion that he tried to spring this on the House, and also I hope to clear myself, and leave you where you ought to be left, not having been apprised of the facts.
We will go on with the Orders of the Day.
"That the Orders of the Day be suspended to enable a debate to take place on the question of negotiations."—Mr. D. O'Callaghan.
I want to know what is the meaning of that. Now we are in the middle of a discussion on the question of the elections, and we are asked to stop that discussion and go on to something else. I absolutely protest against the House being treated in this fashion. It is against all precedent.
This motion to suspend the Orders of the Day is not one that can be subject to discussion; you have to take a vote on it.
I ask for a definite ruling, and for a precedent under which, in the middle of a discussion on one thing you go on to another. The people of Ireland will want to know why the discussion on the election is going to be burked.
The proper way to deal with that is to vote against it. The provisions in the Standing Orders for a motion to suspend the Orders of the Day are put in exactly for the purpose of doing an exceptional thing. If the Dáil does not desire that, then they must only decide against it. The provisions are made for the purpose of doing a thing that is contrary to the Orders of the Day, and contrary to what is usual.
I do not want any speeches from Mr. de Valera or Mr. Collins as to what were the points of difference; I want in black and white what they agreed on and what they disagreed on. The House should have it that way. We should get it in writing— exactly what the agreement was, and the points of disagreement.
I suggest as a matter of order that the motion, as put to you, is not one which you can accept. You cannot suspend the Orders of the Day in the middle of a discussion. You can suspend them at the end of a particular matter. You can get over the problem, however, in this way, if you think fit: I suggest that the subject which it is proposed to introduce, the statements by the Minister of Finance and Mr. de Valera, is sufficiently germane to the discussion which we are having for you to allow them to make their statements on the main motion which has been introduced by the President, without allowing this special motion to suspend the Standing Orders.
There is nothing in the Standing Orders to prevent what the Lord Mayor of Cork has proposed. The Standing Orders very definitely say that the Chairman shall at the request of the Deputies, suspend the Orders of the Day for the discussion of a special matter of national importance provided, on a show of hands, that request has the support of ten Deputies. You can raise the matter any time, I submit—in the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, or at the end of the day, or in the middle of any discussion.
The object of those who have made the proposal is to try to achieve peace and prevent civil war, and it is a strange thing that the proposal is opposed by the two gentlemen who never fought and when fighting was to be done were never in the fight.
It is altogether out of order to have this discussion.
If this motion is carried can we go back to the discussion we are on at present?
Is the proposal to go back to a discussion of these reports or is the proposal that a report of a conversation between Mr. de Valera and myself should be given to the House? I think there is a very great difference in the principle between these two things. As far as the ruling of the Chair would go, I would like to know which is intended.
On a matter of explanation, what I intended was that there must be one or two or three definite points capable of being compressed in a certain limited number of words on which Mr. de Valera and Mr. Collins broke yesterday. We want these points.
The suggestion of Dr. McCartan is that it should be submitted in writing.
It is a pretty wise suggestion. It would be well for the Minister for Finance and Deputy de Valera to meet and let them agree at any rate and say where they disagree.
That cannot evidently be done immediately.
Táim sásta. Béidir gur fearr mar sin é.
The motion to suspend the Orders of the Day is withdrawn.
I move that we get the report in writing on the points of agreement and disagreement. I beg to move the adjournment of the House.
I would second the motion that we adjourn until 10 o'clock to-morrow morning. It is 6 o'clock now. If you like we could adjourn until 8 o'clock to-night and we could then have an agreed statement as to what transpired between the Minister of Finance and Mr. de Valera.
It is most unusual that an adjournment be moved without consulting the Government and the Whips. As far as I am concerned, I think the reports offered by both sides went just as far as Deputy de Valera and the Minister of Finance have got, or ever will get. I think these reports should be taken on their merits. We were a Dáil Committee. In going into that I asked were the House to decide it, or were the leaders going to come between us again. Let the House take the reports on their merits and vote on them. We should get on with the business. If the Government is going on with the elections, the issue has to be faced. We have wasted enough time already. We brought the issue to a very narrow point after fifteen days' discussion. The issue is there. Let us face it now. If the Government want to go ahead with their policy, let them, and I presume the Opposition will go on with theirs.
I think we should confine ourselves to the point on which Mr. de Valera and Mr. Collins broke. We have discussed the other reports at great length and there is no need for a fresh discussion on the negotiations. The House should confine itself to the points on which these two gentlemen broke down.
Would it meet the wishes of the House if Mr. de Valera made a speech on the matter, and the Minister of Finance did the same. Then we could carry on.
My suggestion was that the statements would be allowed as a matter germane to the debate.
Is it not our desire, if we possibly can, to have peace The points in the negotiations on which they broke down could be put before the House and voted on by the House as a whole before the vote is taken on the election. That is why I say the suggestion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs would not meet the case at all.
We may continue these discussions for a long time but the business way in the matter is this: That the House adjourns for two hours and that Mr. de Valera and the Minister of Finance come together and issue a report to this House at 8 o'clock. It could be debated then, because it is on that question we are going to have civil war. We allowed these men seven or eight hours yesterday in private session, to remain away from this Assembly, and the House and the people of Ireland are entitled to know what transpired there, because on that issue the country is going to sink or swim. I move we adjourn until eight o'clock.
Is it necessary there should be long written reports? It is very easy to make the statement we have got to make. I may be misrepresented by the Press of the country but I am dealing with the House and I cannot be misrepresented to them in any case, because what I will say, you will hear. I do not know whether I would be in order.
I understand the question was raised about speaking now, and speaking again in the debate.
Yes. I said I would make two different sorts of speeches, because they would be touching on two different questions. If there was any chance of agreement, or if the Dáil took any action on the result of our talk and the result of the negotiations, I might preclude the contentious question of the elections. I am compelled time after time to protest against misrepresentations of the position. I have not looked on this matter from the personal point of view, but from the point of view of influencing public opinion on the issue the nation has to face. If I have to speak again, I will have to keep the House for a long time and I intend reading a number of documents that up to the present have been kept private. If I have to speak again on the question of the negotiations, I will have to deal with a different subject altogether.
I am sorry I have not received an answer to the question I put and which I think deals with a matter of importance, in regard to the conversations which we had yesterday and again to-day. I suggest that if it is required, we could agree upon a report. I do not believe we could agree upon recommendations. I suggest each of us should make his report to the House with his recommendations for dealing with the situation. I for one have no desire to keep from the knowledge of the members of the Dáil anything that transpired. I am certain Mr. de Valera also does not want to keep from the members what transpired. We had pleasant conversations, but they did not result in anything. Now, there must be some consideration for those of us who have administrative work to do. I for one cannot be here at 8 o'clock to-night. If we have an adjournment, adjourn until three o'clock to-morrow afternoon, and we can have a similar session on Sunday, if necessary. I suggest that, because I would like to see most of the Deputies at it for a couple of days as I have to be at it every day and every week. Ministers who have to perform their administrative duties must do so in the mornings.
The understanding then is that whatever reports will be made in regard to this conversation will come before us at our meeting to-morrow?
At 3 o'clock to-morrow, I have suggested.
If the Minister of Finance wants a written report, very well, but as far as I am concerned what I have to say could be said in five minutes.
The discussion on the President's motion is not likely to be ended by 7 o'clock this evening. It is now ten minutes past 6 o'clock.
I have listened with some misgiving to the tendency of the debate. I agree with what the Deputy for Clontarf has said. Fortunately, I was not subjected to the misery of listening to all the speeches. If we are going to present reports, let us not be faced with the possibility of a continuance of the debate as it appeared in the speeches to-day. Let us adjourn. The fifty minutes are not going to be the cause of stopping civil war.
I beg to second the motion for the adjournment.