I beg to move the Motion standing in my name —"That the Dáil approves of the action that the Government has taken and is taking to assert arid vindicate the authority of Parliament." The statement of the President yesterday, clear and business-like, showed that the Cabinet fully realises the difficult task in front of it, that no doubt or confusion is in its mind as to what is its duty to-day, and that it is determined to do it. That statement was received by the majority of the Members of this Dáil with the deepest satisfaction, and I am sure it will give the same satisfaction to the majority of the people outside. It will increase the faith of the people in the judgment and the courage and the steadfastness of those who are now in charge of the country. Following that statement, my task in submitting this resolution to you should be a very easy one. I ask this Dáil to endorse the action taken by the Government when the voice and vote of the people of Ireland were scouted, and when the authority of its executive was challenged. If we cast back our minds to the months of spring and summer one may well ask what other action could any Government take that had the faintest perception of its responsibility. The representatives of this Nation had accepted the Treaty and under the Treaty they had set up a Government, and that Government was challenged. Its authority was challenged by a minority of the people. The anti-Treaty minority out-voted in the Cabinet, out-voted in the Dáil, refused to accept its three-fold defeat. It was pointed out to them that the majority of their countrymen and women were opposed to this, and they only expressed the most supreme contempt for the views of the majority, and in order to prevent the views of the majority prevailing they had no hesitation in resorting to arms. The constitutional methods of settling our differences, which were often referred to by anti-Treaty leaders, were scouted all over the country. Members of the Dáil dare not go down to their constituencies and hold meetings. The people were afraid to assemble because of the revolver. The President told us yesterday of the outrageous proceedings which took place when Cabinet Ministers went down to certain areas in Ireland to explain their policy. Roads were blocked everywhere, and the rails were torn up. In Castlebar Michael Collins was torn from the platform, and Arthur Griffith's life was threatened if he dared to go down and address his people in Sligo. I mention these particulars to recall the reign of terror that then prevailed. Newspapers were intimidated, raided and suppressed. Appeals came to the Government from all parts of the country for protection of life and property, and for a long time this Government, elected by the majority of the people, was in the humiliating position of being unable to afford that protection. The people were in a state of panic. The officers of the Government could not cross the borders of certain areas. The Wild West atmosphere was spread about by the gunmen at the bidding of leaders more culpable and a lot more foolish than themselves, and as a result of this the bonds of restraint common to-civilised communities were torn asunder. Widespread brigandage made its appearance. Banks were robbed. Post Offices were raided. It was open to every man to take what he could. Some took houses and land. Others, more modest, only took motor cars. There was no insult or indignity that misguided ingenuity could devise that was not heaped upon the Government, and there only remained one further crowning insult when the Four Courts was seized by a handful of foolish young men, whose brains were fired by the word-spinning of the Dáil. That building, the Four Courts, perhaps was selected because that building, more than any other, stood for orderly Government, for fair and just administration. I say that was the darkest hour for Ireland. It seemed that our country had escaped from the throttling hand of England only to perish by suicide. We were near the very edge, and if at that moment there were feeble hands at the helm the ship of State would have foundered on the rocks. The country would have gone to pieces. Every county would have had its revolt and its leader, and the English would be back again, and back for ever. But thank God there were men in Ireland then—and there are some of them left still—brave enough to grapple with the situation. The men who fought the English and won the war were equal to the new situation. The men who founded the Sinn Fein Movement and piloted it to success so far were not willing to allow its fruits to be destroyed, and future generations will be grateful that these men were strong enough to save that fruit and pass it on to them. There is no need to consider what the Government of any other country would have done in such a situation with their authority flouted. What would be done in France, or in England, or in the United States? Would not immediate action be taken, and even where the workers rule, even in Bolshevist Russia, attempts have been made in those places. The Bolshevist likes to rule as well as the Capitalist. But in Russia, when revolts were attempted, those who attempted them were not put into gaols but in their graves. I am not saying that any sane man who knows human nature will say that any country can be run without an Army, and I say that talk about militarism should be more specific, more defined. There is a fine body of sentiment against militarism, and on this side of the Dáil you will find the fullest sympathy for it. But let us understand what it means. Let me speak for a moment on what militarism up to this meant. Let us be clear about it. If anyone comes and defines a proper objection to militarism, I will go as far with them as any man in any part of this Dáil. But we say our position is this: If we were to reduce our military forces down to one man or one gun, or increase them to one million men or one million guns, the people should have control of that Army, and not a section of the people. Let us try not to escape the proper comment on the horrible situation, and not by any platitudes about militarism that do not apply to the present situation. Our Government had no doubt, from the moment that their authority was challenged, what should be the action. Some people thought they should have moved earlier. Some people thought, they moved too soon. But I think the majority of the people in this country will say that Michael Collins, God rest his soul, was right when he waited until every means that was possible was exhausted to find a peaceful solution of this difficulty. There were conferences, one after the other; there were offers of peace; the people believed that the peace efforts were carried from the point of prudence to the point of danger. All the efforts failed. The efforts of the Joint Dáil Committee came to the ground. The efforts of the Archbishop of Dublin and the Lord Mayor failed; and the efforts of the Cork Army officers failed. Every effort failed to bring peace with those men who evidently meant war or ruin, or both; and at the last hour, when it was plain that nothing short of the destruction of the Treaty—nothing short of the ruining of the country by the bringing back of the English—would satisfy those men, it was only then that the Government, reluctantly and sorrowfully, but with decision and, I must say, firmness, decided to move. They decided to bring the rightful force of the majority of the people of this country into action against the unlawful forces of the minority. They, were compelled by the facts of the situation to take that action, and I say it is the duty of this Dáli to endorse that action, because, in taking the action, the Government defended the principle of majority rule, upon which all Parliamentary Government is based. If that sheet anchor is to go by the board, there is nothing left but chaos, but the people of Ireland are grateful to the Government for that action, because it meant the saving of the Treaty—that great settlement achieved by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. We value the Treaty because it gives us control of the vital interests of the country, because, under it, we can reconstruct the economic life of Ireland and set it on the road to prosperity; because, under it, we can foster and preserve more surely, than ever we could before, our National ideals. I say in connection with this settlement, about the foolish word finality, as Arthur Griffith said: "This is not the final generation of the Irish people," but anyone who knows the courage and persistence of our people in the long road they have travelled should feel confident that this Treaty has brought them to a position from which it is easy to advance and from which they need never retreat, except through their own folly. No people in the world have been more loyal to a national movement than the Irish, and they ill deserve the martyrdom they are now suffering. If this patient and longsuffering people send any message to this Dáil, it is "get on with the work, in the name of God; unload the cargo of the Treaty; distribute its benefits; there are men and women idle, and there are children hungry; there are lands to be divided; there are a thousand wounds to be healed, and a thousand projects ripe for action." That is the cry of our people, and it is for us to give it effect. We must restore order; we must get back to common sense. That is what this Government proposes to do. I was glad, and we were all glad, to hear the President say that the door was open for peace. There is no one in any part of the Dáil who wishes to close that door. If those young men want to come in they are welcome. They have made their protest. It is no disgrace for them to take their stand with the majority of their fellow countrymen. Because I believe the majority of the people of this Dáil on both sides mean to do in this little Parliament the best for their country, and because I believe it represents the good sense of the nation, I submit this resolution with the greatest confidence.
MOTION BY MR. WM. SEARS.
I beg to second the resolution proposed by the Deputy for South Mayo and South Roscommon, and I do so because of the democratic principle which he enunciates—the supremacy of Parliament. Parliament must be supreme in the land. It must control the Ministry. It must control the civil affairs and the military affairs of the nation. Parliament, must have the army as its servant, and Parliament must not be the slave of any army. It must own but one master, and that master must be the people, whose will it must be Parliament's duty ever to execute. It must recognise that the will of the people is supreme law, and when we speak of Parliament, we must ever remember another democratic principle that by Parliament is meant the majority vote of the Assembly. I fully recognise and maintain that minorities have rights, rights well defined and unquestionable, any aggression on which by the majority Party is tyranny. Much more so do I hold that there are rights created by the principle accepted by majority rule, aggression on which by any organised band of men, or body of men, by force is indefensible and inexcusable. As the ex-President of the Second Dáil stated: "There is a constitutional way of resolving our National troubles, by submitting the question, at issue to the tribunal of the people." By this method the minority of to-day becomes the majority of to-morrow, and I would, if I could at all, appeal to the young men of the country to weigh well what that means. There is a constitutional way open to them to put their case before the country, to win the majority of their countrymen to their way of thinking, and to come in here in a majority to this Parliament and take over the control of the civil and the military Government; and then we will promise them that all we now who are opposed to them will back them up, because they will then stand for the will of the people. Yesterday the President in making his statement of policy was quite clear and explicit. He stated he did not want to fire the last shot or to shoulder the last gun. He stated the basis on which peace may be had at any time, and I think it is the basis on which, any democratic country will accept peace—that the Parliament set up by the people must control the arms of the country. In supporting the resolution I feel confident, in whatever steps the Government may take to establish and assert the will of the people and of the People's Parliament, that the Government will have to respect the rights of the minority, and be ever mindful that it is dealing with brother Irishmen. I do feel equally confident that the generosity and the magnanimity of the Minister for Defence will ever ensure justice and considerate action in the Army. The civil authority must be supreme. Neither Army— Regular or Irregular—can be allowed to dictate to Parliament. The Government must carry out the mandate of the people expressed through its Parliament, or the Government must give place to a Ministry that will ensure the whole nation the right to live. I support and second the resolution because I am convinced that the policy of the Ministry which this Dáil has set up is to ensure that the whole people, without distinction of class, shall have that right to live, because it means to ensure that the will of the people in this country shall be the supreme law.