MOTION TO REPUDIATE GOVERNMENT STATEMENT.

I think it is not at all unsatisfactory from the point of view of members sitting on those Benches that a question of this kind should arise so early in the history of the Dáil, and in the history, as I say, of a Government which was appointed but yesterday. It is much more satisfactory to this particular group of the Dáil to deal with such a matter than with matters which are more germane perhaps to the interests of other parties in the Dáil than this. A statement appeared in this morning's paper, issued as it is said by the Home Affairs Department. It reads as follows: "The Government does not recognise the right of Civil Servants to strike. In the event of a cessation of work by any section of the Postal Service picketing such as is permitted in connection with industrial strikes will not be allowed. The Government has determined to offer the fullest protection to those Officers who, remaining loyal to the Government, continue to carry out their duties. The Post Office Service is a vital State service. The Government is prepared to use, if necessary, all the forces at its disposal to ensure that no official who continues his service to the State is subjected to interference or intimidation."

The motion that I propose to move is:—"That this Dáil repudiates the statement issued by the Minister for Home Affairs beginning with the words ‘that the Government does not recognise the right of Civil Servants to strike.'" Those are the words which I desire particularly to lay emphasis upon. We had earlier in the day a statement by the Minister for Home Affairs that he was a good democrat, and all his professions were in favour of what he considered to be Democracy. Now here we have a test. Here we have a test, a test not only of the Minister's democracy, but a test of the genuineness of the professions of human liberty which the Members of this Dáil have been protesting the last— how many years I do not know. We are going to test to-night whether the demand for National liberty was impelled by mere hatred, distrust, dislike, envy of England, or whether it really had its roots in the desire for emancipation of the Nation or of the people, or of an individual from tyranny.

We are up against the question of the rights of men to combine, the rights of men to refuse to work for an employer under conditions fixed by that employer; we are up against the question whether a man or a woman entering the service of any employer, be that employer a private person or a Government, thereby sells his soul as well as his body to that employer. We are faced with the question of the status of the human being in his social relations. The Ministry for whom the Minister for Home Affairs speaks in this matter evidently conceives that once a person enters the employment of a Government he is not only selling his bodily powers, and mental powers, but he is selling his liberty, selling his soul. I can understand men who have been protesting against the intervention of State in commerce and in industry trying to make it an object lesson. We have been told in evidence before the Railway Commission and in the public Press times without number, practically that the State is the very devil, and I take it that the Ministry wants to prove that the man or the woman who enters the services of the State is damnified hereafter, having sold his soul to that devil! I wonder whether the Democrats have considered how the working classes of these and other countries have arrived at the present stage of comparative freedom? Do they know anything about the development of the Industrial movement, the struggle against the combination laws, the struggle for the right to bargain collectively; the struggle for the right to strike: do they think that the workers of this country are going to accept the position which places one section of the workers obviously and clearly in the category of slaves? The Government does not recognise the right of certain Civil Servants to strike; it does not recognise the right of certain men to refuse to work and to take the consequences. If it is a crime, prosecute them. If it is an offence take it to the Courts; but to utter as a Ministerial statement that the Government does not recognise the right of Civil Servants to strike practically tells the Civil Servants that they have bound themselves body and soul to the State. We are classed as amongst those who would ask the Government to take possession of the bodies and souls of the workers when entering into Government service when we talk of nationalisation. Here you have the Ministry definitely laying down that those who have entered their service have given up their liberties. We repudiate that, and we say if you intend to pursue that policy we are going to get up against you every organised worker in Ireland. This is directed particularly against Postal Servants who have decided to withdraw their labour, because of an alteration by the employers in the conditions of their service. English law at any rate recognised the right of any body of workmen to withdraw their labour. It is not an offence. If it is an offence, prosecute. But the Irish Government's first act is to utter a statement to the effect that the man who has entered the State service has no longer the freedom to withdraw his labour. But what is the occasion for this statement? It is argued, it was argued officially on Saturday that the price of the labour these men have sold, or the price of similar labour in England, has gone down, that the price of similar labour in the North of Ireland has cheapened, and, therefore, it is said, "You postal men must reduce the price of your labour"; and when they decline to do that at the instigation, at the command of the Post Office Authorities and the Government, then they are told that they have no right to withdraw their labour, that the Government does not recognise the right to strike, and they are going to use all the force at their command to prevent them from exercising what has been allowed and is allowed in every organisation in these countries. We want to put it to the Minister and put it to the Dáil: is the future going to be whatever appertains in England with regard to wages, with regard to the conditions of labour, whatever appertains in the North of Ireland with regard to the wages and the conditions of labour must also appertain to this part of Ireland? Shall we go a little further and say if the price of labour is reduced in Germany, in Austria or China that the price of labour in Ireland must go down equally. We want to know definitely whether it is your intention to treat the Irishmen in public service on the basis of conditions in Ireland, and whether you are going to deprive the men and women organised in any combination to exercise the rights which they have won and their fathers before them have won, to secure improvements and to resist— and this is more important—declinations in their conditions of life. We heard a remark passed by one of the Ministers— the Minister for Agriculture—on Saturday about the slave mind. I tell him and I tell the Minister for Home Affairs that a much more undesirable state of mind is that of the slave-owner, and it is the slave-owner's mind that issues a statement of that kind as it was the slave-owner's mind that sent a telegram to the P.M.G. of England asking for black-legs last March.

We trade unionists are often taunted with seeking nothing but higher wages and shorter hours. That is a libel upon the Trade Unions of to-day. Here we have a test. We are thinking in this of the status of the human being and we deny the right of any employer to say it is an illegal thing or that it is not within the competence of any workman or body of workers to withdraw their labour. I submit that this right to strike is the one fundamental right, the one fundamental liberty which is left to the landless man, the proletarian. Refuse him that right and he has nothing left but slavery. You want to bind him to his employer on terms and conditions which you want to set yourselves; without consultation, without negotiation, and without consideration. I am not concerned with the issue of the strike at all, but I am concerned sincerely and honestly to save the Government in Ireland, to save this Provisional Government, this Dáil, to save these people from committing a cardinal error at this period of their history. We were asked by the Minister for Home Affairs in the last debate if we could not recognise their difficulties.

You do recognise their difficulties.

We do recognise them. We are ready to help them to govern and administer this country on principles of liberty and democracy, but we must criticise and oppose them and save them if possible from actions which will deny to the people of this country what liberty lovers in every country have been striving for for generations. I therefore move:—"That this Dáil repudiates the statement issued by the Minister for Home Affairs beginning with the words ‘the Government does not recognise the right of Civil Servants to strike.'" I would ask the Minister before the debate closes to consider seriously the contention which this document will raise, and trust that he will withdraw it.

I beg to second this, and I would like to call the attention of the Dáil to a statement issued on Saturday last on the cost of living figures in Irish departments and English departments. We are accused of having a slave mind because we saw something worse coming out of an Irish department than we saw coming out of an English department. Labour Members generally claim that the Minister for Home Affairs' statement was really meant as it reads. The person or persons responsible for it were really trying not alone to imitate the doings of British Government departments, but they were trying to be even worse than England, for in England and other civilised countries of the world there have been attempts by the workers to organise Labour Unions, and in all these countries there have been attempts by the Government on behalf of the property owners to prevent the workers organising.

For over forty years, according to British law, any man or woman of the working class has a perfect right, not alone to withdraw his labour, but to carry on picketing operations in order to persuade other workers from attempting to carry out the operations they refuse to perform for a certain definite reason. There was also, in what happened last night in Crown Alley an attempt on the part of one of the Departments of this Government to outdo the worst over done by a British Government Department. In any strike in England, there was never any attempt on the part of the British Government to interfere with ordinary picketing. It was only when the pickets attempted to molest strike-breakers, or would-be strike breakers, that the civil authorities, through the police, interfered, and, even in these cases, the civil police always made the first move, and it was only when the civil police found that, with their batons, they could not overcome the pickets, that they called in the military. In Crown Alley about 6 o'clock yesterday evening, before the civil police forces—the Civic Guard or the D.M.P.—had notified the pickets they were doing wrong, and even before the pickets knew themselves they were doing wrong, they were fired, upon—although the shots were fired over their heads— by members of the Free State Army. We claim that is hitting up against the rights of the working classes in this country, and we want the Minister either to withdraw that proclamation or statement that was issued, or, if not, we want the Members, generally, of this Dáil to repudiate the action, and to give an equal chance to the workers of this country to carry on their ordinary operations—as they have a perfect right to do—as is given to the workers of any other country. I, therefore, beg to second the resolution proposed by Mr. Johnson.

I was so much carried away by Mr. Johnson's enthusiasm over the right to strike that, for the moment, I was almost tempted to strike myself. He has raised the question as to why, so early in this native administration, we get up against a particular point. A fair question. There is the responsibility on us, just because we are beginning that the precedents we set, and the precedents we hand on to succeeding Governments, shall be sound precedents, healthy precedents, that will not re-act disastrously on the Irish State and on the Irish nation. And so, we have to be, in a sense, even more jealous and even more vigilant than old established Governments. There was a good deal of general talk about selling souls. In that particular market the Government are not buyers. I want that to be carefully understood. There was talk on generalities, as if it were the right of anyone to strike when challenged. I want it to be carefully kept in mind that is not the situation. There was general talk as if it were the right of picketing in any dispute, and I want it to be carefully kept in mind that is not the situation.

Not yet, quite.

We were told about the development, the gradual and painful, and sometimes violent development, of the rights of industrial workers. I know a little about it. I am sure I do not know as much about it as Mr. Johnson; but the position is now—let us face it—that under cover of special conditions here, Mr. Johnson is endeavouring to establish a principle which is not recognised in any modern civilised state. Some years ago in Birmingham—I quote this, not because of the particular country in which it originated, but merely as an example —there was a strike, of Civil Servants, a purely localised strike, and the result was that the ringleaders were arrested—the ringleaders were dismissed—and every striker taken back signed an apology.

What was the occasion; what class of workers?

Postal workers. Now, the Civil Servant is in a very special position. He is a servant of the State, a servant of the Parliament. He is carrying on vital executive functions. No State, with any regard for its own safety, can admit the right of the servant's of the Executive to withdraw their labour at pleasure. They have the right to resign; they have no right to strike. Because of the peculiar position they occupy, they have certain advantages— certain hours, certain tenure, certain pension rights—and every person joining the Civil Service knows well the conditions on which he joins. The question of the right to strike depends on the terms and conditions of employment, and Civil Servants are employed at pleasure. Suppose we take the position of a Police Force, or the position of the Army. Have they the right to strike? Could any Government recognise it, or has any Government recognised it? There is not a strict analogy, I grant you. The Civil Servant occupies an intermediate position as between the members of an army or Police force and industrial workers. In one sense the discipline is not so rigid; in another sense certain recognised rights of industrial workers are denied, and must be denied, if the State will preserve itself. Now, as to why this was raised so early. It was raised so early because it was vital. If Parliament wishes to change it Parliament can, no doubt, change it. It is sovereign in this land, and it can repudiate the act of any individual, or the act of any State Department. But I would ask Parliament to consider very carefully where this leads—to consider it in all its bearings, in all its reactions, in all its tendencies, and to remember that the State, as the supreme authority in the land, must hold for itself—must arrogate to itself—certain definite rights which are not conceded to individuals, and must have at its disposal an Executive and officials who, while they are perfectly free to resign, cannot, at whim, take advantage of circumstances which to them seem favourable to suddenly withdraw their labour. An incident has been mentioned in Crown Alley. Let me mention another incident. At Amiens Street telegraph office the wire's and machinery were smashed and the Press wires to theFreeman's Journal and the Independent were cut. Sabotage. Let me mention that this question of picketing is not unimportant. In the special conditions that exist in this country, the safeguarding of public buildings is a very real and a very serious problem, and we will not put Government servants— either military or police—in the position that a picket may be used as a screen for the sniper with bomb or rifle or revolver. The right to strike and the enthusiasm of it was very touching; but members should not be misled by generalities; members must not be misled by emotional talk; members must understand if this State is to be founded, if it is to live and flourish, it must be able to depend on loyal and constant service from its officials. In the position for which I am responsible to Parliament for the affairs of my Department, facing that position, I say I would have done a criminal thing if I had failed to issue that notice, and issue it promptly, the minute this problem arose. A criminal thing. Here, at the very birth and infancy of this State I would have set a precedent which, enlarged and acted upon later on, would lead to the destruction of the State.

I intervene in this debate to protest as strongly as it is in my power to protest, against the right of the Government to claim as employers a right which no other employer can claim or has claimed. I do not wish—I want to make it quite clear—we do not wish to discuss the merits of the present Post Office strike. It has nothing to do with the immediate question at issue. As we look at it, this is a dispute between employers and their employés, and the dispute is just an ordinary dispute about wages. If the Government has the right because it has the power, perhaps, to show that its employés should not strike, and if that is put into practice there is no reason why it should not go further. We may have, and we hope to see, in the future a system of localised Police under the control of the local, municipal or county, administrative bodies, and let us suppose that some of the services controlled by these municipal or county bodies—such as electric light or work on the roads—and that workers on these services decided to go on strike on the matter of wages pure and simple, are we to take it that the administrative body, because of their control of the Police Force, could instruct that Police Force to take action even to the extent of the action that was taken in this instance, to take action against those workers? There is no reason why it should not spread to the great industrial work, and there is no reason why, if this is agreed upon, why a huge concern like Ford's could not organise its own police force to deal with their employés when they insist on their right to strike in connection with their wages disputes. Now, it has been put forward by the Minister for Home Affairs that the Army have not the right to strike. Are we to imply from that that the same conditions as apply in the Army are to be introduced into the Civil workers; or the system by which Civil workers work for the Government? Is that the implication? If that is so, then as soon as they set about regimentalising them and drilling them and ordering them to do just as they do in the Army, the better. Then we will know where we stand, but that, I take it, is the implication, and if it is, it is Militarism naked and unashamed. I can see no difference really except the difference in degree between what the Minister for Home Affairs contends should be the attitude of the Government and this militaristic attitude. It betrays the militaristic state of mind on the part of those who issued it. Now it is to me a matter for great surprise that the Government which claims to be democratic, and rightly so claims to be democratic, should adopt this attitude, and that at the time when the tendency of the British Government with its workers is altogether the other way. We know that during the past few years the English Government has set up a special Arbitration Board to deal with claims of Civil Servants, and has met representatives of Civil Servants, and discussed wages and conditions with them, and has set up Whitley Councils to meet representatives of the workers and Civil Servants, and this is a thing which I understand this Government or some Departments of it have up to the present refused to do. Now why is a new Government claiming to be democratic afraid to deal with its workers and servants in a less democratic way than the Government which we have always been led to believe was an aristocratic Government? I would make a special appeal to all the Members of the Dáil to look at this matter from an independent point of view; it has already been declared in our statement, of policy here that we are not here to obstruct the Government in any way, but to criticise them and in a matter of this kind to oppose them as far as lies in our power to oppose them when they are doing what they should not be doing. And I would appeal to Members not to vote on this matter simply on a Party ticket but to express their independent opinions as to whether or not a Government a body of employers has a right to claim privilege which no other body of employers can claim or would be allowed to claim, and which the Government themselves would deny that body of employers.

Mr. Johnson began this debate by stating that this Government had taken up a certain attitude in regard to its Civil Servants, which no other Government would attempt to take up. Now the Minister for Home Affairs dealt with that, and he dealt with it so effectively that Deputy O'Connell takes up a totally different attitude. His grievance is not that this Government is dealing with its Civil Servants in a different way from any other Government, but that this Government is making a distinction between Civil Servants and employés in an industrial concern. It is well to have that much clear and to have taken the case that much far any way. The Minister for Home Affairs stated, and he has not been contradicted, that no Government in Europe recognises the right of its Civil Servants to strike, and recognises the inference from that, the right to picket. That is so, and it simply cannot be contradicted. Mr. O'Higgins gave you an example of an attempt in England on the part of Civil Servants to strike, and he gave you the result also, and that result is unchallenged and not protested against by the Labour Party in England. Now, Deputy O'Connell professes to be afraid that this principle will spread through the Civil Service to industrial workers. Well, there is really no fear. The principle has been spreading in the other direction. But the real fact is now that certain people think that this is the proper moment to extend the principle from industrial workers to Civil Servants in Ireland.

And in the 26 counties.

Yes, and in the 26 counties, as Mr. Walsh reminds me. There is no question in England, France, Germany, or in any other country of the right of Government Civil Servants to strike. In nowhere else is the claim made but in Ireland. I have been reminded that I referred to the slave mind. I meant no disrespect. I venture to say that neither Mr. O'Connell nor Mr. Johnson would have made any speeches of that sort in any other Parliament, because other Parliaments would be supposed to know something about their business.

A LABOUR DEPUTY:

And this one does not.

It is assumed that it does not. But we hope to persuade anybody who is malong those assumptions that those assumptions are unfounded, and that you cannot try it on us. Now, it is perfectly obvious, it is perfectly evident, that there is good reason for denying this right to Civil Servants. They have pensions, they have special hours, they have special conditions in other respects, and they have them as compensation for, if you like, this disadvantage; and they have that because it is universally recognised that the services which Civil Servants are engaged in administering are services which are vital to the State, and services which should not be jeopardised at a moment's notice or at a mere whim. The terms of their agreements are there; they knew what they were coming into. They thought that the compensations were worth those drawbacks, and they took them, and, as the Minister for Home Affairs has pointed out, we are not buying their souls and not buying their bodies. They have a perfect right to resign. They cannot have their pension, their special conditions, and all the other advantages which Civil Servants have, and have at the same time the other advantages which other workers have and enjoy. We were asked here, do we intend to slavishly copy England in all these matters. That is a perfectly fair question. We do not intend, and it is for that reason there is a different cost of living figure applied to the Irish Civil Servant and the English Civil Servant. And the Irish Civil Servants in the Post Office at this moment are better off than the English Civil Servants in any city corresponding to this, and better off—and much better off—than any corresponding place in the North of Ireland. And even if they accepted the terms which have been offered to them by the Postmaster-General, they would be still better off here, from the point of view of money and salary, than they are in England or in the North.

On a point of order, we did not raise that particular enquiry.

I am answering the point raised by Mr. Johnson. The conditions in Ireland are much better than those in England, notwithstanding that the Irish Civil Service is run at a loss and that the English Post Office is, run at a profit. The arrangement made in England by way of Departmental Councils for settling disputes in the Civil Service have been referred to by Mr. O'Connell. I assume he knows these arrangements are in existence in Ireland, and I assume he knows also that at the present moment there is in the Post Office a joint Departmental Committee for the purpose of settling wages, re-organisation, and that it will make recommendations to the Government in the ordinary way. Deputy O'Connell appealed to the House to treat this regardless of Party. I appeal to the Dáil to consider this matter very carefully, to consider that after all the experiences of other Governments—the experiences of other Governments are at least useful— all other Governments have found it absolutely necessary that the essential services of the State, which the Civil Service administers, should be administered by men with these disabilities and these privileges, and I ask you not to change them.

I have read for the past six months many speeches from the Ministry about the rights and liberties extended to Ireland, which we hope to receive through the power of the Treaty. My conception of national freedom either through the Treaty or any other document or arrangement, is that it should be based on the rights and full recognition of the individual citizen. You cannot claim, and no one can claim national freedom when he is denied the ordinary rights of the individual. Labour, I think, has contributed more than its quota to the fight that went on for the liberty and freedom of this country. I think it is a very poor return that at the establishment of this Parliament a section of the workers who are organised in the Labour Movement should be denied the freedom which they thought they were fighting for. I want to carry back the minds of the Ministers sitting on the front benches now, who pretended to be functioning as Cabinet Ministers under the Republican Government two or three years ago. You will remember at certain periods the Labour Party had taken up a definite national attitude in respect to the fight going on with England at the time. I refer to the fight against conscription in the first instance, and more particularly the two days' strike organised by the Irish Labour Party for the release of some of the men dying in some of the British and Irish Prisons. You will remember in that particular strike the Postal Workers came out with the rest of organised Irish Labour.

The Republican Ministers did not repudiate their right to strike when pretending to govern this country in the interests of the Republican Movement. Therefore, I cannot see any reason now that you have changed your clothes and turned over as Ministers of the Government established under the Provisional Government, why you should adopt an attitude different to that attitude adopted, two or three years ago, when the Postal Workers came out on strike for the release of the Irish Prisoners. The Minister for Agriculture laid great stress on the privileges—alleged privileges—supposed to be enjoyed by Civil Servants. I have been connected with the Civil Service, the Railway Service, which may be a national service. I am looking forward to it, but certainly not on the conditions you are laying down for your employment. I am connected with that Service, enjoying pension rights. I was warned when I was going on strike for the release of the prisoners that I was going to forfeit my position, just as you have warned the men who have struck for their rights. I went on strike, and I went back to work and never heard any more about the denial of pension rights. I suppose the Company I was working for thought it better not to come into conflict with the whole organised Labour Movement, and in fact, at the time, with the Irish people, on the question at issue at the moment. Postmen, as far as I know, do not enter the State Service through competitive examination, and I fail to see why that particular section should be classed as Civil Servants and deprived of their right to strike, if necessary, in defence of the privileges they have enjoyed. It may be strange to put forward the argument that you yourselves have already recognised the right to combine and the right that goes with that right, to strike and peaceful picketing. If the Deputies will carry their minds back to March when there was a threatened strike approaching, you entered into negotiations with the officials of the Trades Union, and rather than allow the strike you set up a Commission, and allowed the Trade Union representatives, the nominees of the Postal Workers, to sit on that Commission and determine the conditions and wages. The nominees of the Labour Party were the nominees of the Postal Workers. By recognising the right of the Postal Workers to combine through the Trades Unions and have representatives on the Commission I say you recognised the right to combine, to strike and to have peaceful picketing. We have in the City of Dublin dual police forces watching men who have never done anything wrong, since the strike took place. The statement has been made, and I am not prepared to accept it without proof, that the men left their work with the right to strike for better conditions.

I accept that statement that you have made. If they have done that work they have not done it at the dictation of this Party, as they never did that in any strike they were connected with. You also laid stress on the fact that this thing has never been attempted in any other civilised State. I always thought we were, or pretended to be, more civilised here than any other people in the world. At any rate, I hope any laws we make in this country will not be based on the laws made and carried out in other parliaments. I am looking forward to this Parliament making its own regulations regardless of what is done in any other country. At any rate the Birmingham incident referred to by the Minister for Home Affairs was merely a local question, but this is a national question denying that a section of labour had a right to combine in Trades Unions. With regard to the statement that the forces at the disposal of the Government will be used to keep down this strike——

On a point of personal explanation "the forces which the Government is prepared to use, if necessary, are the forces at its disposal to ensure protection for those wishing to carry on their work, will not be subjected to interference or intimidation."

As far as I understand them it is to deny the men the right of peaceful picketing. I do not admit the Government has the right to use forces for this purpose. At any rate, I say to the Deputies in this Dáil, in Ireland at the present time there is a lot of robbery going on in the name of Republicans and Irregulars by criminals, I say if you have any surplus police forces send them down the country to stop the robberies and give protection to the people, and do not use them against men who, I am sure, are not doing anything that is illegal. We put up the argument that Parliament has a Minister, and that any Minister doing it should be answerable to the Dáil. We challenge every member to show by his vote in this whether they are in earnest, if they recognise this right and liberty. They will show they are genuine or not, and show the trade unionists of the country whether they stand for the things you said you stood for. A document issued by the Minister for Home Affairs appears to me to be a statement copied from some of the documents taken out by you from Dublin Castle and handed down as historic souvenirs of things done by the Castle in the past.

It seems to me that this debate will lead nowhere. Notwithstanding the terms of the motion, I think that what we should discuss is: Is there a possibility of ending the strike? With regard to the general principles that have been put forward, I do think that the individual Members of this Assembly are altogether in favour of as much individual liberty as is compatible with having a State. There is a great difference between individual liberty and licence, and even in the Trade Union movement, as is known to members of the Labour Party, the individual has not the perfect right to do what he likes. He is controlled by the Trade Union movement. With regard to the question as to whether other Civil Servants have the right to strike, it is a moot question. There are arguments certainly on the side of the Government or the Ministry in this case, that if it upsets whole State organisation, neither to the Postal Servants nor to any other service of the Government, should the right be given to withdraw their services at a critical moment. On the other hand, I should think that if this State were firmly established, that there was no question whatever of what we may call the loyalty of the community to the State itself, when, indeed, the right to withdraw labour at a particular time may be admitted. The trouble in this country at the moment is that it is not a challenge to a particular Government or Ministry, or a challenge to this Assembly as an Assembly, but that there is a challenge in this country at the present tirne to any kind of Government. There is a challenge to authority of any kind in the country.

Are you referring to the Postal Service?

Yes, it is the duty of whatever Ministry is in power to take up any challenge given to it. I know many of the Postal Servants myself, and I know that as a body they have no desire to challenge the authority of the Ministry or the Dáil; and also I know, and I am sure the members of the Labour Party know it too, that there are sections in the country that are challenging the authority of this Assembly, and are taking advantage, or may take advantage, of any Postal strike or a strike by any other combination to forward their own ideas in challenging the authority of this Parliament. It seems to me that the more practical thing to discuss here is the question as to whether this strike can be ended or not. Our general discussion on the liberty of the individual member or of any combination at the present moment, I think, will lead nowhere. I may make the assumption that Members of the Ministry, and in fact every Member of this Assembly, is in favour of the fullest liberty of combination that can be accorded to societies and individuals. What we have to debate is: Is the strike to continue? Therefore I submit that what we ought to consider in this Assembly at the present time is, is there any way out by which this strike dispute can be finished and the State services in the Post Offices continued? That is far more important than a discussion on the rights of individuals or of combinations to strike.

I move that the question be now put.

It was agreed definitely that the debate should go on and the vote be taken at a quarter to nine.

I rise, not that I can add much to what my colleagues have said, but to answer some points made, and the first one I want to take up is, that an attempt is being made here and the attempt was made elsewhere to make it appear to the general public and particularly to the supporters of the Treaty, that this particular strike is a political strike against the Government. Now there is nothing of that kind in this strike. We do not want to discuss the merits of the strike at all. I do not want to go out from any Minister or any other Member of the Dáil anything that will belie the men and women who may be broken and crushed to-morrow. You said that there has been sabotage. Very well, if there has been it is the duty of the Minister for Home Affairs to find out those who committed the sabotage and arrest them, and, if found guilty, punish them. It is not his duty to cast these things in the faces of men when he cannot tell who did these things or not. Now a thing happened at Crown Alley, where the picket were driven off and shots were fired over them. I understand the officer challenged two other members of the picket, one of them a lady on a bicycle, with a revolver. Certain people contend that the right to strike did not apply to the Post Office Service and other Government services. These principles that apply to the ordinary employé apply to the Post Office, and its servants have the right to withdraw their labour. As to the question whether it is a right or wrong time to strike, the Minister for Home Affairs did not say it out straight, but he wanted it to be understood outside that the Government is a weak Government, and that is the time for us to take advantage of the weakness. If he could say these things out straight he could be answered. Mr. Davin quite properly made the comment that when it was a case of striking against the British Empire in Ireland or striking on behalf of the hunger strikers or for the National cause, these people, who were servants of the British Government, did go out and risked their jobs and more than their jobs. The Minister and everyone supporting the Government here applauded them as they applauded us. But now they must not strike because it is an Irish Government. It only shows that so far as the relations between employers and employés are concerned, Governments, whether in Belfast or in Dublin, have not an iota of difference between them and the Governments on the other side of the water. That has become known to the people up and down the country. The people are not so stupid as that they are not taking in these things, and those who sow those things now, bear in mind they will reap the harvest alright. There has been talk that because these people have got pensions and privileges of one kind or another, that therefore they should sit down, be good boys and girls, and do nothing that the Ministers do not like. I will just give the Dáil an instance of the change that has come over the whole outlook of the workers of Ireland in the organisation of the whole Postal Service. All the Postal Servants are linked up into a trade union, and bear in mind that this is the thing that the worker throughout the country would take note of. The very essence of trade unionism as distinguished from other organisations is the right to strike. I will give you an instance to show you the change. The freedom of the workers—their spiritual freedom—is becoming of much more value to them than any question of wages or hours, or conditions, or anything else like that. We had occasion before to tell the Minister for Home Affairs that he did not know what he was talking of when he spoke about the conditions of the working classes. We tell him again. I will give this instance. There is down at the North Wall a body of dockers employed by the London North Western Railway. As employés at the North Wall they have certain privileges of one kind or another which other classes had not, and which they were fighting for. They wanted to be put on the same footing exactly with their fellow dockers in the Port of Dublin. Fox that reason they were compelled to go on strike and they fought the strike for six months and they won. In this particular strike the Government and the Ministry may smash these particular unions because they have got the power and the guns, and whoever has got the most guns is going to rule in Ireland. All the fine talk about democracy and all the other things is not going to go anywhere. But all the guns and all the power and all the force in Ireland is not going to make the whole working class in Ireland lie down when the right to strike is challenged. A Minister has said that the Association referred to by Deputy O'Connell is established in the Post Office. I understand that that is not so. I understand that there is a joint Departmental Committee. The Deputy Minister says that that Committee's job is to settle disputes between the Post Office and the staff. I wonder why it did not settle this.

On a point of explanation, what I did say—I would like to remind you—is that there is a Joint Departmental Committee in the Post Office for the purpose of investigating conditions and wages.

I understand that the Departmental Committee to which the Minister refers is quite a different Committee. This Committee, to which he refers now, was appointed, I understand, by the Postal Commission, so that the Government could not claim any credit for it at all. Has the Government called this Committee into consultation on this particular issue of the strike? I understand it has not. Has the Government set up a Whitley Council, or anything corresponding to the Whitley Council? I am not particularly in love with the Whitley Council, but I understand it is the thing that Post Office employees wanted. They did not get it. They have not got it yet. There has been some question of interference and intimidation. Now, we would be very glad to have an instance of the interference or intimidation. Was there any interference or intimidation down at Amiens Street Station this morning when a D.M.P. sergeant, under no instructions except the orders of his Superintendent, placed under arrest a number of the pickets down there? Was there any intimidation or any interference with the I "scabs" going into Amiens Street Station? Whoever ordered the arrest was pulled up a couple of hours later by the State Solicitor, who went down to Store Street Station and informed them that, legally, they had no right to do anything of this kind at all. Deputy de Roiste has made a very good speech. I would sum it up like this, that those who challenge the Government are the friends, aiders, and abettors of the Republican troops. Let him understand that the challengers of the Government are not the aiders and abettors of the Republican troops. To sum up Deputy de Roiste's speech, I think it would be like this: As much individual liberty as possible for everybody except Civil Servants.

Question put: "That this Dáil repudiates the statement issued by the Minister for Home Affairs beginning with the words ‘that the Government does not recognise the right of Civil Servants to strike."
The Dáil divided: Tá 24; Níl 51.

  • Pádraig Mac Gamhun.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.
  • Liam de Róiste.
  • Darghal Figes.
  • Tomás MacEoin.
  • Seoirse Ghabháin Ui Dubhthaigh.
  • Lorcán Ó Néill.
  • Ailfrid Ó Broin.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Liam Ó Briain.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Tomás Ó Conaill.
  • Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.
  • Séamus Éabhróid.
  • Liam Ó Daimhín.
  • Pádraig Mac Artáin.
  • Seán Ó Laidhin.
  • Cathal Ó Seanáin.
  • Seán Buitléir.
  • Nioclás Ó Faoláin.
  • Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.

Níl

  • Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
  • Donchadh Ó Guaire.
  • Uáitéar Mac Cumhaill.
  • Seán Ó Maolruaidh.
  • Pádraig Ó Braonain.
  • Seán Ó Lideadha.
  • Seán Ó Duinnín.
  • Micheál Ó hAonghusa.
  • Seán Mac Haol.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seosamh Mag Fhionnlaoich.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • Seosamh MacSuibhne.
  • Peadar Mac a' Bháird.
  • Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.
  • Seán Ó Ruanaidh.
  • Seán Mac Garaidh.
  • Risteárd Ó Maolchatha.
  • Pilib Mac Cosgair.
  • Ddomhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
  • Earnán Altún.
  • Sir Séamus Craig, Ridire, M.D.
  • Gearóid Mac Giobuin K.C.
  • Liam Thrift.
  • Pádraig Ó hÓgáin.
  • Pádraig Ó Máille.
  • Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Piaras Béaslaí.
  • Fionán Ó Loingsigh.
  • Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoich.
  • Criostóir Ó Broin.
  • Risteárd Mac Liam.
  • Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.
  • Proinsias Bulfin.
  • Tomás Mac Artuir.
  • Sé Ó Dóláin.
  • Aindriú Ó Lámhin.
  • Risteárd Ó hAodha.
  • Liam Ó hAodha.
  • Proinsias Mag Aonghusa.
  • Éamon Ó Dugáin.
  • Peadar Ó hAodha.
  • Séamus Ó Murchadha.
  • Tomás Ó Domhnaill.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh.
  • Uinseann de Faoite.
  • Domhnall Ó Broin.
  • Séamus de Burca.
  • Micheál Ó Dubhghaill.
Question declared defeated

Tá.

Níl.

Pádraig Mac Gamhun.Tomás de Nógla.Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.Liam de Róiste.Darghal Figes.Tomás MacEoin.Seoirse Ghabháin Ui Dubhthaigh.Lorcán Ó Néill.Ailfrid Ó Broin.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Liam Ó Briain.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Tomás Ó Conaill.Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.Séamus Éabhróid.Liam Ó Daimhín.Pádraig Mac Artáin.Seán Ó Laidhin.Cathal Ó Seanáin.Seán Buitléir.Nioclás Ó Faoláin.Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.Risteárd Mac Fheorais.Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.

Liam T. Mac Cosgair.Donchadh Ó Guaire.Uáitéar Mac Cumhaill.Seán Ó Maolruaidh.Pádraig Ó Braonain.Seán Ó Lideadha.Seán Ó Duinnín.Micheál Ó hAonghusa.Seán Mac Haol.Séamus Breathnach.Seosamh Mag Fhionnlaoich.Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.Seosamh MacSuibhne.Peadar Mac a' Bháird.Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.Seán Ó Ruanaidh.Seán Mac Garaidh.Risteárd Ó Maolchatha.Pilib Mac Cosgair.Ddomhnall Mac Cárthaigh.Earnán Altún.Sir Séamus Craig, Ridire, M.D.Gearóid Mac Giobuin K.C.Liam Thrift. Pádraig Ó hÓgáin.Pádraig Ó Máille.Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Piaras Béaslaí.Fionán Ó Loingsigh.Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoich.Criostóir Ó Broin.Risteárd Mac Liam.Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.Proinsias Bulfin.Tomás Mac Artuir.Sé Ó Dóláin.Aindriú Ó Lámhin.Risteárd Ó hAodha.Liam Ó hAodha.Proinsias Mag Aonghusa.Éamon Ó Dugáin.Peadar Ó hAodha.Séamus Ó Murchadha.Tomás Ó Domhnaill.Earnán de Blaghd.Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh.Uinseann de Faoite.Domhnall Ó Broin.Séamus de Burca.Micheál Ó Dubhghaill.

Motion made and question put, "That the Dáil do now adjourn until 3 o'clock to-morrow." Agreed.
Dáil adjourned accordingly.