To ask the Minister for Home Affairs when it is proposed that the Civil Government shall proceed to function in the country districts of Ireland.
CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - CIVIL GOVERNMENT.
That is a question so broad that perhaps it could more suitably be covered in statement from the Minister concerned, than by way of direct question and answer. If I wish to be pert or flippant with the Deputy I suppose I would say as soon as possible, but that would not be a satisfactory answer either to the Deputy or myself, and it is right that the House should have information on this subject. I only regret that the matter was raised in this way. The position at the moment is that certain areas in the country are ripe for expansion and consolidation of Civil Government, and it is proposed at an early date to send out the Civic Guard through the country, following up the Army in those areas in which the Army has restored conditions which will enable the Civic Guard to function. The history of that Force, it is right to say, has not been a particularly happy one. There was certain trouble which delayed training, which delayed the time when the men could be sent out through the country. That trouble, I am now well satisfied, is well on the way to being retrieved. Certain resignations were tendered and were accepted. A new Chief Commissioner has been appointed, and I am satisfied that this particular Force will become an efficient and self-respecting Force and that the members of it will become worthy servants of the people. Following on the Civic Guard Stipendiary Magistrates will be appointed. The British-appointed R.M.'s have been withdrawn. It was recognised, and they recognised themselves, I think; that there was no useful future for them in the administration of the. country, Stipendiary Magistrates will be appointed, drawn from the two legal professions; their jurisdiction will be, for the moment at any rate, the jurisdiction of their predecessors. It is proposed to set up a Judicial Committee to review the entire system of justice in the country, with a view to reconstruction. I do not wish to prejudice or forecast the report of that Committee, but at present it is a matter of simply saying there will be available through the country a summary jurisdiction which will hold foundations together, at any rate until the process of reconstruction can be embarked on. As to the time when this will be possible, which is really what the Deputy asks, I think it will be possible within a fortnight or three weeks to have the Civic Guard out through very large areas of the country, and once the Civic Guard are out and have established themselves, and are in a way to be an efficient Executive machinery, with the Stipendary Magistrates following up they will help in restoring law aud order. I could not send out men who would be, so to speak, figures of fun in their area; they would have a theoretical jurisdiction, but they would not have at their disposal the Executive machinery that is necessary to see that what they say goes with their decrees and that their sentences are enforced. If the Deputy, is satisfied with that statement I would confine any elaboration of it to a general statement of the case.
I am quite satisfied.
On a point of general information, do I take it the Minister for Home Affairs will set apart a time for general discussion on the Civic Guard?
Personally, I think it would be highly desirable.
I will try to arrange it with the Minister.