Ba mhaith liom cupla focal a rá i dtaobh ruda seo. 'Sé mo thuairim go mba cheart go mbeadh an Dáil saor chun an Bun-Reacht do chur i bhfeidhm. Dubhairt an Teachta Figes go raibh an sgéal céadna ag an bTólainn. Ach bhí an Thólainn ag troid gualain le gualain le na daoine a chuir Connradh Idir-Náisiúnta ar bun. Ní dubhairt an Teachta Figes an rud sin. Connradh idir-náisiúnta a bhí ann; Connradh do rinneadh idir chó-oibritheoirí. Ní Connradh idir tír mhór agus tír bheag do rinneadh. Dubhairt sé an rud céadna mar gheall ar an nGearmáin. Bhí an Ghearmáin buailte. Mo náire an Teachta! Is mór an difríocht atá idir an dá rud agus an dá bhun-reacht. Do rinne sé tagairt do Czecho-Slovakia leis, agus bhí an chuis chéadna acu-go mbeadh comhacht agus congnamh ag an dá náisiún, na Gearmáini agus ua Austrians, do throid. Ach níl sé mar sin linne, náisiún amhaín, agus ní rabhamar ag troid ar thaobh na Sasanach. Bhíomar ag troid in a n-aghaidh nuair a rinneamar an Connradh seo.
I have just been saying that there is no analogy at all between the case of Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, which Deputy Figgis referred to, and the case of Ireland. It is perfectly true that these countries, as Deputy Figgis reminded us, and also Germany, drew up, enacted, and prescribed Constitutions, and although they were bound by the infamous Treaty of Versailles, that in the first case was an International Treaty. It was not a Treaty between one big State and a little State, but in the case of Germany it was the case of a State beaten to the ropes that was down in the dust, smashed almost into one thousand fragments. Ireland even yet is not smashed into one thousand fragments. There is no parallel between Poland and Germany and Ireland. If there were a parallel between the case of Poland and Ireland, then the President of Poland would have gone to Moscow to draw up certain clauses which he would have brought back and which he would explain, as the President explained to-day we must have. The President of the Polish Republic did not do anything of the kind. The Poles drew up the Constitution within the four walls of the International Treaty; they acted as a Sovereign State and a Sovereign people in enacting and prescribing their Constitution. I was sorry to hear the Minister for Foreign Affairs saying that the Ministry was not going to apply for membership to the League of Nations just now. My friends and myself have no cause at all to be proud or fond of the League of Nations. It is far from perfect, but in this particular it would have furnished a test of the status of this State of ours. It would have furnished a test of the status of the State that is going to be built up on that Constitution, and whether it is in any sense of the word, even in the sense in which the term is applied to the British Dominions, a new State or a Sovereign State. It would also have applied a test of the genuineness of the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, and a test of the genuineness of other things as well. I am sorry for another reason that this Constitution has been brought forward to us in this way. Unless my reading of things has been very much astray, there has been a movement amongst what I might call the most liberal and generous students of what is rather, I think, generously referred to as the British Commonwealth, to procure what is called, I believe, a Declaration of Constitutional rights. Now I am not one of those who are going to argue, as some members of the late Dáil did, on the legal authority and sovereignty of the British Parliament, or Crown, or anything else. The Constitutional position might be good enough for me provided that Constitutional position was made clear and defined. It seems to me that now that there was to be an opportunity of making that Declaration of Constitutional Rights clear and explicit in this document of the draft Constitution of the Irish Free State, that opportunity has not been taken advantage of by the Committee which drafted that Constitution, or the party on the other side of the water which agreed with the Provisional Government on this draft Constitution. There must be in ordinary human relations limitations and restrictions on the acts of any Assembly, as there must be on the acts of every individual; otherwise we would have nothing but philosophical anarchism. There must be restrictions on the acts of this Assembly, but I submit the restrictions and limitations which the President and Minister for Home Affairs mentioned to-day in connection with this Constitution are a stultification of the rights of this National Assembly, and that we have no right to submit, without some kind of a protest, to these limitations. I need not go back to the incident between Deputy Milroy and myself. Deputy Milroy was not able to show that the 6th of December comes into the Treaty or the Free State Act of this Constitution. He refers to Mr. Kennedy, K.C., the Legal Adviser to the Provisional Government—a very eminent authority, no doubt, but we are the Constitutional Authority. This Dáil is the Constitutional Authority and not Mr. Hugh Kennedy or any other legal gentleman. This is the Constitutional Authority, and if it is not, better then put an end to the farce, walk out and make an end of the pretence of being the authority, the supreme authority, the sovereign authority, representative of the people's will. If it is to be a question between this Assembly and the Constitutional Authority of this Assembly and the legal eminence of any gentleman in England or Ireland, we have got a right to stand by the Constitutional Authority of the National Assembly, no matter what the pains or penalties they might inflict upon us. There has been mentioned, and we have been told, that the Constitution is necessary for the implementing of the Treaty and that this particular draft Constitution is necessary for the implementing and carrying into operation of the Treaty. We have not been told why. We have not been told why some other Constitution may be a better Constitution or a worse Constitution, but on Constitution except this particular one, or rather no Constitution except the Constitution embodying certain particular clause which we are not allowed to change, is necessary for the implementing of the Treaty, and the Treaty has made no mention, I think, of a Constitution at all, much less of this Constitution. Some of us have always considered, so far as the Treaty is concerned, that there can be more than one interpretation of the Treaty. Some of us are honest enough to think that the late Provisional Government has been, to a certain extent, blameworthy, and that there can be an Irish interpretation of the Treaty, that we in Ireland should interpret that Treaty, and give it the widest possible limits. We should like that to be done, being our own interpretation of the Treaty. The British, we see, are confining it to the narrowest limits and are making it, I think, narrower than the ordinary common English interpretation, by squeezing it into this draft Constitution, minimising it.
If there is an Irish interpretation, and if that interpretation differs from the British interpretation, or if the expression of the Irish interpretation brings a clash between the Government of Great Britain and the Government of Ireland, surely there is a reasonable way out? Surely the Irish people and an Irish Assembly will not be so unreasonable as not to submit the matter to arbitration? But we might be told from the Government benches, "No such thing would be submitted to arbitration, because Great Britain would not allow it to be submitted to arbitration." If that is the position, it is the end of the alleged generosity, of the fair and square dealing of the British Government. If the Ministry were wishful to enable the Irish State to claim arbitration on such matters as a clash between Great Britain and this State, then that opportunity, if it arose, came in an application to a body like the League of Nations. There is a provision made for arbitration by British citizens within the British Commonwealth—or British Empire, as l prefer to call it. There is a vision in the Treaty itself on the arbitration question, so that the argument against arbitration on the interpretation of the Treaty does not carry us very far. Deputy Milroy has made what I might call a Treaty speech, that might have been delivered between the 6th of December and the 7th January. Now we want to have finished with all this, because we want to get down to business and get things done, and don't want to be debating and arguing the question of the Treaty all over again. But Deputy Milroy and some Ministers on the other side of the Dáil went as far as this: the throwing of bombs—intellectual, verbal bombs, if you will—at people who are outside this Dáil. We should not allow ourselves to be bullied into doing anything in this Dáil by bomb-throwing at other people outside this Dáil. Deputy Milroy and others have put it to us that by objecting to certain clauses of this Constitution, by opposing certain clauses, we are torpedoing the Treaty. If that is not the attitude of "Hit me now, and the child in my arms," I don't know what is. We have had a good deal of talk, and I could go on for a long time talking about the Constitution, the legal position and the Constitutional position of the British Dominions, and when, I am speaking about them I think it would be well for the Dáil to know that one of the things round which the whole discussion ranges, the Constitutional position—the Constitutional status—of the Dominions, is the question of appeal to the British Privy Council. Now the Canadian Constitution, the Australian Constitution, and even, though of more recent date, the South African Constitution, were all Constitutions of the old time—if I may put it, of the time previous to the great European War. Anybody who has made any study at all of the history and events of these last few years, and particularly of British Constitutional history, knows that the whole face of things, the whole Constitutional history of the British Empire, changed between 1908-'09 and 1919; changed particularly and specially during the years of the great European War of 1914-1918. Now in this draft Constitution where the Dominions who have been claiming and who will ultimately get the abolition of the right of one of their citizens to appeal to the British Privy Council, this draft Constitution could have made that secure and fast by leaving out that Article, but it didn't leave it out. It is one of the provisions which President Cosgrave, or perhaps the Minister for Home Affairs will tell us we must accept, although the sons, the grandsons, and the great-grandsons of British Colonists are claiming and demanding, practically unanimously, to have this thing done. We who are not, and never have been, British Colonists, are told that we must swallow it holus bolus. Now the whole thing could be put in a nutshell; it comes down to the thing whether this Dáil is the Sovereign Assembly or whether it is not. I do not want to quibble with words, but you must have certain words to define certain, things; you cannot, and nobody not even this Dáil, can deliberate or argue or deal with certain things unless these things are put down in definitions and unless we use words that have a common acceptation. We want to know right at the beginning what the Ministry means by "prescribing and enacting a Constitution," an act which I say is the Sovereign act of a Sovereign Assembly. I claim that this is a Sovereign and Constitutional Assembly and Authority in Ireland, and I think the Ministers and Deputy Milroy will find that out if they make enquiries. I will quote one, and I am not, if you will notice, putting this discussion at its highest level. If I were putting it at its highest level I should put it as separatist, pure and simple, thinking only of the relations between one State and another State. But because certain things have happened, because certain acts were done, because a certain instrument was agreed to, we must bring it down from that higher level and consider it from a lower level of the relations between one State and another within the British Empire Therefore I will wind up by quoting a gentleman who, I think, is of some authority in these things. Perhaps this gentleman's statement may have some effect, if not on the Ministry—I don't think anything could have any effect on the Ministry—on some private members of this House. Now, the statement is:—"That a general declaration of Constitutional rights as described elsewhere would fully qualify the Dominions for separate membership in the League as Sovereign States will become clear if we compare the status thereby secured to them with the definition of a Sovereign State given hy authorities on international law." That shows the importance of the question which the Ministry shirked—the question of whether they could or could not apply for membership of the League of Nations at this moment. This authority quotes Halleck, and says: "By a Sovereign State is meant a community or number of persons permanently organised under a Sovereign Government of their own, and by a Sovereign Government is meant a Government, however constituted, which exercises the powers of making and enforcing the law within the community and is not itself subject to any superior Government." That is a question which we want resolved by this Dáil in the enactment of this Constitution, whether in the enacting of this Constitution we are to act as a Sovereign Parliament or whether we are to act as an inferior to a superior Parliament. The Minister for Home Affairs said that we had got this draft Constitution.