The next business on the Agenda is the election of President of the Dáil, and we will now-receive nominations for that position.
ELECTION OF PRESIDENT.
Before nominations are received may we hear from you what the intention is regarding proceedings generally; what are the functions of the President of the Dáil, and whether we shall receive any declaration of policy or reports of the past conduct of the Government before these officers are elected, and generally a statement regarding intentions for the future?
It is tor the Dáil itself to determine temporarily its own procedure. I see upon the Agenda here the appointment of a Committee to draw up Standing Orders which would determine the procedure. Some temporary measure must be adopted. That is for the Dáil.
For what period is the President of the Dáil to be elected, because the conduct of the past business of the country and the prospects of the future business will have some effect on the decision of the Dáil as to who maybe elected President?
That can be discussed on the motion for the election of President.
In reference to the election of President and the Ministry——
There is nothing before the Dáil at present except the matter of procedure.
I thought you were going on to the election of President.
No. Until we get this question of procedure adopted I would suggest that we temporarily adopt the Standing Orders of Dáil Eireann.
Temporarily, I take it, until the others are agreed upon.
Precisely. That is my suggestion.
Can copies of the Standing Orders be made available?
Copies can be available for the Dáil, but only a limited number, I am afraid.
I can facilitate with one copy, if that is of any use to the Dáil.
Will you permit me to move formally that for the temporary business of the Dáil we adopt the old Standing Orders until new Standing Orders are adopted?
I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that we should understand before going to No. 7 what is the intention of the Ministry of the Provisional Government in regard to giving information to the Dáil as to the course of affairs in the immediate past, or its intentions in regard to the future? It seems to me that we should understand at what point in the proceedings of the Dáil we are to be informed as to policy, and receive reports as to past conduct.
I think that will arise more properly when the motion for the Standing Orders has been dealt with. That question can be put on Question 5.
A Chinn Chomhairle, is it not clear that this Parliament has to elect an Executive, and is it not clear when this Executive is elected that the responsibility will be on it of deciding what its policy is, and if that policy is not such as will give the Dáil confidence, the Executive elected will have to change it, but until the Executive is selected there can be no statement of policy.
Má's fíor do Risteárd O Maolchatha, caidé mar is féidir le Teachtaí guthanna a thabhairt d'iarratóirí gan 'fhios aca an bhfuil clár oibre ceaptha ag an Aireacht atá ag teacht isteach? If——
Nuair a bheidh ainm duine éigin os comhair na Dála beidh cead ag gach teachta an sgéal a chur tré chéile.
Might I ask those Members who are qualified to speak Irish and who also speak in English to give us who do not speak Irish an opportunity of knowing what is going on. It is not fair that the questions asked, in Irish should be answered by you in Irish only.
I think that question properly arises when you are framing the Standing Orders.
I want to know what is the business on the agenda at the moment? Is it the question, of Standing Orders or the election, of a President of the Dáil?
It is the question of adopting temporary Standing Orders.
I think there is a misunderstanding on the point. The Standing Orders may arise shortly, but there is a proposal on the Orders of the day that there shall be elected a President of the Dáil. The new Members do not know what that means. We assume it means the Head of the Government, but we do not know how long that office shall be held by the holder. It is essential that we should have an opportunity of hearing from the present or prospective Head of the Government on what ground we are expected to elect any particular person to that office. If you rule—and perhaps this may clear the way—that on the nomination of any particular person we may discuss questions of policy past or in future, then the matter will be clear. I suggest that that is the orderly way of going about this business.
I want to supplement what has been said by the last speaker. Up to now we have been working upon what they call in America an inter-looking directorate. Will the President elected here be Chairman of the Provisional Government? Will the Ministers elected here be the Provisional Government. If not, what will their relations be?
There is no business really before the Dáil, therefore I will now take nominations on No. 5. The question may arise afterwards, and may be addressed to the President elect.
After he is elected?
Would I be in order in moving that whoever be put forward as President be riot put forward as President of the Dáil, but as President of the Council of Ministers. I thhik you yourself are President of the Dáil.
I am not President of the Dáil.
You are presiding over the Dáil with great distinction.
That question does not arise now, but when the motion is put we may consider possible amendments.
Molaim don Dáil seo go dtoghfar Liam MacCosgair mar Uachtarán ar an nDáil. Ón uair do bhí cruinniú againn cheana do cailleadh an bheirt fhear ab fhearr a bhí againn—beirt do bhí os ár gcionn ar feadh abhfad agus do shaoileamair a bhéadh 'nár measg go ceann abhfad eile. Do bhí duine acu ar an síoladóir do bfhearr do bhí in Éirinn, agus an duine eile ar an mbuanaí ab fhearr do tháinig riamh fós chughainn.
Cuimhnigheann muíntir na tíre seo ortha agus dubrón 'na gcroidhe. Tá orainn anois sa Tigh seo an obair do dhéanamh do shaoileamair a dhéanfadh an bheirt atá imithe. Tá ar an nDáil seo obair na tíre do shocrú. Le déanaí do dineadh Connradh idir an tír seo agus Sasana. Sé an chéad ghnó atá againn ie déanamh ná an Connradh san do chó-líona, agus obair na tíre, agus Rialtas na tíre do réir tsocruithe sin do chur chun cinn. Nuair iarraim ar an nDáil Liam MacCosgair do thogha iarraim ortha fear do thogha a dhéanfaidh an obair.
Tá orrainn an t-Arm do chosaint agus a chuid oibre do chó-líona. Tá orrainn é do chosaint ó namhaide iasachta agus ó namhaide atá 'nár measg, no ó dhaoine atá 'na ndroch-cháirde don tír seo.
With a view to meeting the wishes which have been expressed here and until tho Standing Orders are settled, let me say in English I propose to this Dáil the election of Liam MacCosgair as President of the Dáil. Since the last Dáil separated we have lost the two people who were the leaders, and to whom we looked, as the leaders of the future—one of them the greatest sower who lived in Ireland while we have been here, and the other the greatest reaper the country has ever had. Now in this country, without these two great leaders, we are faced with greater responsibilities thrown upon each particular Member of this Dáil, and very great responsibilities indeed thrown, upon certain Members who have to undertake the work which would have been taken up by the two great Chiefs whom we have lost. The life of this Dáil is understood to be a short one, as lives of Parliaments go. We have a certain definite work to do; we have first and foremost to implement the Treaty that was made recently between this Country and Britain, and made by, among others, those two Chieftains whom we have lost. We have to set up a Constitution for our Country that will be in accordance with that Treaty, and we have in the meantime to perform the work of governing the Country. The implementing of this Treaty will save our Country from outside enemies, and we have here in this Dáil to discuss and to arrange and to settle and to carry out means for defeating internal enemies, or very, very bad friends of our Country, whereby the National strength that lay in our Army has been seriously broken. That strength has been recovered. The National Party that was the strength of the work of the past few years too has been broken, but a sufficiently large section of it still holds together, and the ties that bound the Country and the whole of that Party, before it was broken, still exist, between, the Country and the greater portion, of what they would call that great National Party. The responsibility of shouldering the greater portion of the work of the immediate future is being shouldered by that Party, if I could call it a Party, considering its history. We have left to us a very great national responsibility, a national duty, to see that that National Party shall strengthen itself, shall solidify and recover its old national strength, to pull the Country through this crisis in the same way as the broken Party has pulled itself together and stood by the liberties of the Country in its own particular crisis. And in proposing Mr. Cosgrave, as head of the new Government, I propose him as a man who is the trusted head of that National Party, and I propose him as being in himself a man of sufficient strength of character to carry forward the work we place before him of securing the full freedom that is brought to us under this Treaty, and to carry out the work of implementing it, and of shouldering all the other great responsibilities. That work requires very great courage, very great tact, and very, very many other great qualities, to save our Country from those at any rate very, very bad friends of the Country who are endeavouring, with whatever motives, to destroy a, very big portion of that freedom which their own particular efforts helped us to get, not so very long ago.
I second the resolution for the election of Mr. Cosgrave as President of the Dáil. The position which he occupies is known to all the Members here. He is the leading representative of those on whom the main burden has fallen of carrying out the national policy of the people of Ireland, at present, that is to say, giving effect to the Treaty of last December. In proposing him for the Presidentship we speak of the Members of this Assembly in general. While we are undoubtedly placing him in the highest position which it is possible to occupy in the civil life of Ireland, we are, at the same time, imposing on him the heaviest burden that it is possible to impose on any person in the civil life of Ireland at the present, and we cannot conceal it from ourselves. My view of the Irish Government, under present conditions, or under any future conditions, is that no matter what its condition may be, when it becomes the Irish Government it is not the Government of a party, it is the Government of the nation; it is responsible to all sections of the nation, and that every party, every section, has an equal right to exercise its influence, its controlling influence, its, criticising influence upon the Government; and that, at the same time, the Government, when it is doing what is necessary under the circumstances for the good of the nation, is entitled to the co-operation and to the support of all parties without distinction. We know there can be no mystery about it how Mr. Cosgrave comes to be proposed to you. Upon him naturally, in the course of events, devolved the responsibility of taking up the burden of being Chairman of a Government after the blank created by the death of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins; and that being so, his name naturally comes before you at this juncture as the right and proper person to be elected to the Presidency of the Dáil.
Mar sin taim ag cuidiu leis an rún.
Tá abhar rúin os cóir na Dála go dtoghfar Liam T. MacCosgair mar Uachtarán ar an nDáil. Do thairg Risteárd O Maolchatha é agus d'aontuigh Eoin MacNéill leis. (There is a Resolution before the Dáil that W. T. Cosgrave be chosen as President of the Dáil, proposed by Mr. Mulcahy and seconded by Professor MacNeill).
I take it that the promise you gave to the Deputy and the introductory speech of the mover of the resolution indicates that this is the occasion to make some reference to public policy and even to a declaration of policy on the part of those who occupy the Ministerial benches, and who are expected to occupy the Ministerial benches in future. Alderman Cosgrave is being proposed for a very onerous office indeed —perhaps the most onerous that any man in Ireland's history ever occupied. He assured us a few moments ago that he was not a child in those matter; that we need not make suggestions, because they were not children. I didn't think he quite meant that, but I could not help but think that it was obvious that he, with his experience, was not responsible for the rules, procedure, and general conduct of affairs of the last Dáil, because of the fact that he is fully conversant and well experienced in all matters of this kind. Your own assurance covers the position. I am quite sure that Mr. Cosgrave did not suggest that any member of the Dáil was not entitled to make proposals with regard to the due order of the business of the Dáil.
I think, though, everybody is looking for a statement, not upon these somewhat trivial matters—we speak proportionately —but upon the general issues that are facing the country to-day. We on these Benches look upon ourselves rather as the inheritors of a situation—a constitutional position, if you like—that has been handed down to us and the country, to us, at any rate, by the other people who had the confidence of the country in the past; and, as we have stated m another place, we accept the verdict of the country. We take it that the party that had command of affairs, that was given a free hand, pretty well, in the conduct of affairs, did their utmost, and got the most out of the situation, and that their judgment has been accepted by the people. We feel ourselves not responsible for the present situation, but prepared to acknowledge that our predecessors did their best and, rightly or wrongly, they have handed to this Assembly—to this political generation—a heritage which we have to make the most of. But since the last meeting of the Dáil, very many terrible events have happened. My memory tells me that there was a decision to refer certain vexed questions to a conference. Conferences were held between Ministerial Members and active Opposition Members, and between Army leaders on the one side and Army leaders on the other side, and it might have been presumed the result of these conferences would have been given to the Dáil before any action was taken by the Government of the day. Up to this the public does not know what the result of these conferences, which they were charged with undertaking by the Dáil, was except the eventuality of civil war. We do not know why they failed, or on whom the responsibility for the failure lies. All we know is that within a very few days after the Conferences were held, within a very few days after Members of one party were in fraternal relations with members of the other party—the guns began to speak—three days before the date fixed for the meeting of the new Dáil. We are not going, as far as this group is concerned, to be captious critics of the Government. We intend to make what we can of this Assembly as an Assembly which will do the business of the country in the best interests of the country. (Hear, hear.) But when the seconder of the resolution says the duty of the country is to support the Government, when the Government is doing what is necessary in the best interests of the country, he does not indicate who are the best judges of what is necessary. For a very long time the Government has been allowed to be the judges of what is necessary. I hope the Government will be allowed to do many things. They will have to be allowed to do many things in the interim between one meeting and another— between one portion of a session and an other. They will have the responsibility of carrying out the Decrees and the Acts of the Dáil. But I hope it will be understood for the future that the Dáil is the master of the Government. Hitherto, I think, and perhaps necessarily so, in the circumstances of the past few years—I am not going to stress the criticism too strongly—perhaps it was necessary in a revolutionary period that the Government should take on itself responsibilities and not be accountable at that period to any Assembly for their acts. But when that particular portion of the revolutionary period has elapsed it is necessary for an account to be given to the people, and some responsibility taken by the people and the people's representatives for the acts of the Government. I think it is not enough for the proposal to go before the Chamber. It is hardly enough for the motion to go for the election of the President of the Dáil and then the nomination, presumably by the President, of the Ministry, without knowing something about the mitentions in regard to the future as well as some account of the proceedings in the past. It seems to me it will not be unreasonable, and it will not interfere with the business of the State, if we have a discussion on this question of policies, past or future, taking place before any vote is taken upon this question. We would like to know officially and authoritatively what the intentions of the Government are in regard to the discussions on the Constitution. We would like to know what the views of the Government are in regard to the powers and authority of this Assembly. We would like to know from the Ministerial benches what their intentions are in regard to the conduct of war-like operations in the country. Are we to assume that the Propaganda Department is speaking officially and with authority when it utters the Die-hard pronouncements which remind one more of the Morning Post or of Sir Hamar Greenwood in the pre-Truce days than of an Irish Ministry. We would like to know whether these pronouncements, coming from the Publicity Department presumably—certainly from the Propaganda Department of the Party which is acknowledging the Ministry—are official pronouncements or whether they really embody the considered intentions of the Ministry. We read phrases, which to those who have experience of the North of Ireland are very reminiscent of July 12th orations in the North—“dying in the last ditch,”“No surrender,”“No peace until the last gun and the last cartridge have been surrendered.” We know if we are willing to face realities that that kind of proposal is not going to be given effect to. We may pretend that there is the intention, but let us face realities; we know that we are not going to be able to disarm these people. If we are willing to face the fact no one will deny, least of all those who took part in the active operations of the last four years, that that is the situation. Is there no way in which a word can be uttered from the Ministerial benches which will give some kind of a hope to the country that something less than grinding in the dust is going to satisfy the Powers that be and the Powers that hope to be ? We have taken the view that the situation that faces the country arises from a different interpretation of the promises, the undertakings, the pledges, that men gave, and of the temperaments of those men. Those who had the privilege of attending the meetings of the Dáil during the Treaty debates know that the great majority of those who voted for the Treaty, the great majority of the positive and active minds of the country who had helped in the agitation that resulted in the Treaty, accepted the Treaty, not as a satisfaction of their claims for National Independence, but as the best that could be obtained as a result of that particular effort, as something that was being accepted by the people under protest; as something short of their legitimate demand— that it was the best that could be obtained at that time. I wonder whether it is possible to extract from the Ministerial benches the confirmation of that view of the intention of the Majority Party? No one who claims the right of Self-determination will assert that that has been conceded in the Treaty, and I am throwing out the suggestion that a way may be found— I do it entirely on my own responsibility-to peace in this country, if this threat of war to the last cartridge is not going to be undertaken and that the country accepts the present situation as something very definitely short of its rightful demands. I say that undoubtedly represents the minds of the masses of the people. I believe if we are going to be Masters in this Country, if we are going to be Masters of the future destinies of this Country, that we are to have actively in support of these Institutions the minds of the real democracy who are prepared to stand by the ideals of liberty and in the past also stood by those ideals. We might also like to have an expression of opinion from the Ministry as to whether they have given encouragement to the suggestions that are very rife, that the powers of Government should be entrusted in some degree, to new people, meaning, of course, old people; to a new set of Governors, meaning, of course, old Governors. We would like to know whether it is in the mind of the Ministry that we are going to revert to the position of having a new name with the old bodies with all the implications, social, commercial and industrial that that connotes? Are we going to stand on the protestations or professions of the past few years that the new Ireland would be a bigger Ireland and that democracy would not be merely a political democracy, but have some relation to the social combinations, the social authorities, the social relations generally of man and man? We all hoped that the new Ireland would mean a country in which the cash relations would be minimised, and human, relations magnified-that the motto would be service and co-operation rather than the commercial ideals that have made England great. We would like to have assurances on these points. We on these benches would perhaps welcome more than anything else a reassertion from this Dáil of the implication and intentions of the democratic programme of Dáil Eireann. I would ask that the discussion might continue to an extent that we might get an authoritative expression from the Ministry as to their attitude to the future of these questions, and perhaps, most of all, the great question that is affecting those for whoin we are closely in contact and for whom we are specially speaking. We know when we are speaking of unemployment, we will be told that the political and military situation is responsible, and we have no answer to that to a great extent; but this problem of unemployment that faces numbers of the people is a problem that existed before the outbreak of the present trouble. The present Ministry and the previous Ministry have known of the problem and presumably have been considering remedies that they would like to apply. We would like to have some indication of what their views are on that question, because we are coming to a winter which will probably be the most severe winter—quite apart from the military situation—of any winter we have passed through for quite a long, long time. We are not going to get through this winter without considerable commotion, if I can read the signs of the times aright—quite apart from the military situation—unless the Ministry is going to lead the country and say what was promised definitely in the democratic programme of Dáil Eireann, that anyone willing to work was to be assured of an opportunity of working. Can we have an assurance from the Ministry that that is their policy, that that is their intention? If we can the way may be eased. We may possibly find many ways of collaborating and assisting. If I might say so, coming back to the War problem, that problem, too, will be greatly eased indeed, but for this menace of unemployment and the danger that men would be brought out of the fighting areas to starve on the streets, on the roads and countrysides. We would like a declaration of policy on these matters, and I think you and the Dáil generally are willing to allow the discussion to proceed for some time before a vote is taken, as it might facilitate the business of the Dáil.
Now that the election of President has been carried out, I would like to know what has become of the Collins-De Valera pact, and by whom was it broken? Of course it will be in the memory of some people that this agreement was entered into, and as one of the persons present and a party to that agreement I would like to know what has become of that pact, who has broken it? If it is this side then I could not take any part in the election of President. I would also wish to know if the Ministry that is being appointed, whether it is to be a Coalition Ministry, and if not, why not? I notice a gentleman in the Ministry smiling, but this is a very serious matter to me. This was a matter of public faith, an agreement publicly entered into before the Nation. It is a very serious matter and I assure all present that the Nation is looking on, some people seem to think they are not. I would like the President elected to refer to this matter as it is a question I want to be enlightened on myself. The other points referred to by the Labour Members are matters I wish to hear explained, as it will decide my future policy.
An bhfuil aon Teachtaí chun labhartha?
I would like to ask the President to state definitely whether he proposes on election to unify the present system of dual government?
Perhaps it would not be out of place at this stage, with reference to the question of the pact, to point out that under the terms of the pact every party was free to go up for election: I would like to know who or what party attacked representatives of the Farmers' Party. I am one of those who were attacked. We were attacked with revolvers and machine guns. Perhaps that is an answer to Mr. O'Rourke. Who was the Party who did that?
Tá rún anois os cóir na Dála Bhfuil aon Teachtaí eile chun labhartha ?
Before the motion is put I suggest that the questions that Deputy Johnson has asked here should be answered. I think all the questions he has asked are of the greatest moment, and require an answer. The question of unemployment has been touched upon. It is perfectly clear to me that what is called military warfare is to an extent the result of a large amount of unemployment in the country. I see no programme before the Dáil for dealing with this, and I think the President should give us a statement of his policy before elected. I think that is the point Deputy Johnson wants to make, and I emphasise it strongly.
That question is, I presume, directed to the person who is to be elected President? I have no power in the matter, except to allow reasonable discussion.
Some of the questions dealt with by Mr. Johnson refer to the Constitution. Now, we are not discussing the Constitution. There are also questions directed to the Executive, but we have yet no Executive. It has not even been nominated. A lot of these questions are premature, and they cannot be answered because the Executive has not been elected. First go on with the election of President. When the President and Executive are elected, they will, no doubt, reply.
I wonder you did not think of that before you introduced the question of machine guns and revolvers.
The last speaker has said that some of the questions are rather premature and deal with matters some distance ahead. I think some of us hope that some of the questions raised will be dealt with a little ahead. That one, for instance, dealing with the Constitution. There are far more urgent and important questions before the country at present than even the Constitution. We must have answers to certain of the questions before the election because the President will nominate the Ministers who form the Executive, and how could anybody vote for a President or members of Executive before that President had declared the policy his Ministers would pursue ? There has been a certain amount of propaganda, and that propaganda has been contributed to by members of this Dáil, to the effect that the business of this Dáil is, to some extent, to be confined to dealing with certain documents, and not to dealing with the big life and death issues before the country at the present moment. In my opinion, the first thing the Dáil should address itself to is the question of civil war. Hundreds and thousands of people up and down the country are faced with starvation. And there are other questions. For instance, we want to get a definite answer from the Deputy nominated as President of the new Executive now about coming into power whether they are going to conduct war or police operations. If they are going to conduct war, we all know where we are. We know that war measures and finance will be called for, and that all the restrictions that accompany war will be called for. If this is to be a police operation, if we are going to have Constitutionalism, let us have a police operation, and not an operation which nobody can say is either a war or a police measure. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of non-combatants, civilians, who are in jails and in barracks, who have been arrested without authority, without any investigation or trial or intention of trial, or anything like that. Some of us, as far back as April, had occasion to go to heads of the last Executive to put a number of questions to them. One question we had to put at the time was whether there was a code of Army regulations which would govern the discipline of the Army. We were told then that there was no such code of regulations. Regulations between the civilian population and the Army should be defined, so that soldiers and officers should know their places and duties, and the civilians know their places and duties. These are questions requiring definition. You are getting from day to day into a state of chaos. You have been getting into that condition for the last few months. Largely the reason is that no one has sat down and thought these things out and the proper way to deal with them. It is for the President and Executive to deal with those questions. The Executive has the power of life and death over the whole population of Ireland. We must know, therefore, what is the policy of that Executive on these questions; otherwise, of course, we will be only getting into greater chaos. We want to know the relations between the Army and the Government. We do not know what are the relations between the new Executive and the Army, or whether the Army forces in the country are going to be responsible to this Dáil or not. These are the questions we want a reply to from the Executive. Another thing I want to stress which has been raised by Deputy Johnson, and it was hinted at elsewhere by a Teachta who is an old and respected worker in the National movement for many years, though we differ now, and that is that there is a certain minimising of the power and authority of this Dáil. We do not want to indulge in captious criticism, but there are statements being made that this Dáil will not have anything like extended powers of legislation; that it will be only to a certain extent a Constituent Assembly. Our view is that it has very considerable powers of legislation, and we want to know if that is the conception which the Executive has about it.
Ta rún anois os comhair na Dála. Bhfuil aon Teachta eile cum labhairt?
I would like to say a few words, but I do not propose to make an electioneering speech. If elected to this position it is my intention to implement the Treaty—as sanctioned by the vote of the Dáil and the Electorate, in so far as it was free to express an opinion, to enact a Constitution, to assert the authority and supremacy of Parliament, to support and assist the National Army in asserting the people's rights, to ask Parliament, if necessary, for such powers as are deemed essential for the purpose of restoring order and to suppress all crimes, to expedite as far as lies in the power of the Government the return of normal conditions throughout the country, and having established Saorstat on a constitutional basis, to speed the work of reconstruction and reparation.
The motion before the Dáil is that Mr. W. T. Cosgrave be chosen as President of the Dáil.
In view of the very unsatisfactory answer given by the nominated President to this Dáil, we shall have to vote against his election, and with great regret.
The motion was carried.
I have now to thank the Dáil for the very great honour that has been conferred on me, and to say that, with the help of God, I shall carry out the duties of the office to the best of my ability.