THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS.

The Dáil agreed to take the Motion:
"That it is the opinion of this Dáil that Ireland should join the League of Nations, and further that application for admission to the League should be made forthwith."

I do not think there is likely to be much dispute about the first part of the Motion. There appears to be a dispute about the second. I do not come forward as a champion of the League of Nations. I do not think that it can be said it has, as yet, justified itself. But to my mind the question as to whether the League of Nations has or has not made good in the short time since it was created is not the immediate question for us. The question for us is whether there are strong reasons to impel us to apply for admission at the present time, whatever the future of the League may be. I think I need do very little more than to read two or three of the Articles of the Covenant of the League of Nations to satisfy you that both from the point of view of National dignity and from the point of view of increasing, in every way we can, our security, we should apply for membership of the League. The portion of the first Article of the Covenant reads as follows:—"Any full self-governing State, Dominion or Colony, not named in the annex" (that means not an original member) "may become a Member of the League, if its admission is agreed to by two-thirds of the Assembly, provided that it shall give effective Guarantees of its sincere intention to observe its international obligations and shall accept such regulations as may be prescribed by the League in regard to its Military, Naval and Air Forces and armaments." On that particular clause I have only to observe that I presume nobody will be found to contend that Ireland is not within the category described, since an Irish Government has taken over the power that the Provisional Government has to-day. I understand that the best opinion in official circles in Geneva for many months past is that Ireland would be admitted without question, and that no one could challenge her right to admission, and further than that Ireland's admission would be exceedingly welcome to the other powers. I should like to ask the Minister when he replies to give us the benefit of the information which the Irish delegate in Geneva presumably brought back when he was in Dublin the other day. I should like to ask whether he advised this, and if so, what are the weighty reasons which caused his advice to be set aside? Article 11 and Article 12 are also material as removing, so far as the League is effective in removing, Wars and threats of Wars—a matter of very considerable importance to any small state in Europe. Article 11 says:—

"Any war or threat of war, whether immediately affecting any of the Members of the League or not, is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations. In case any such emergency should arise the Secretary-General shall, on request of any member of the League, forthwith summon a meeting of the Council.

"It is also declared to be the friendly right of each member of the League to bring to the attention of the Assembly or of the Council any circumstance whatever affecting international relations which threaten to disturb international peace or the good understanding between nations upon which peace depends."

Article 12 says:

"The members of the League agree that if there should arise between them any dispute likely to lead to a rupture, they will submit the matter either to arbitration or to an enquiry by the Council, and they agree in no case to resort to war until three months after the award by the Arbitrator or the report of the Council."

And Article 10 says:—

"The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and political independence of all members of the League. In case of any such aggression, or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression, the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled."

You will remember that that Article 10 was one of the principal motives for American abstention from the League on the ground that Article 10 at that time, which was two or three years ago, guaranteed to England the possession of this country. Article 10 to-day would be a guarantee for us. The only objection I know to Ireland's admission to the League is that it might be misinterpreted by our friends in America. They put up a constitutional fight against the League of Nations Covenant on the ground that it strengthened the influence of the British Empire against nations like Ireland all over the world. The argument to-day from the Irish point of view must necessarily be a different one. To-day admission to the League for Ireland would be of very great value to us, because the very fact of admission is considered in international law to be a pre-eminent test of sovereignty, and you will find such authorities as Keith and Hall, who are the two principal authorities on British Dominion status, holding that the fact of the admission of the British Dominions to the League has proved more than anything else the assertion of the sovereignty they have acquired isince- the war. Our application would be the test of the sincerity of England in this matter. Personally, I think England has observed the Treaty faithfully, save in one respect. If England were to oppose our application for admission, now her action in so doing would require very considerable explanation if she means sincerely to abide by the terms of the Treaty signed last December. I entertain this suspicion which I hope the Minister for Foreign Affairs will be able to remove that the strange decision he announced this morning must be motived by information that our admission would not be aoceptble to Downing Street. I entertain the suspicion that this is another surrender to English interests. I should be glad if that suspicion can be disabused, because if you look at it from the point of view of Irish interests, I cannot see any answer to the claim that we should make our application for membership. It is worthy of notice, I think, that this particular matter of admission to the League is one of the few things that are not governed by the Excutive Council of the League. It is one of the things which, according to the Covenant, are to be decided by the General Assembly of the League. And, in point of fact, the General Assembly can out-vote the Council; in other words, the little Powers can out-vote the Big ones. Something of the kind happened in the first Assembly of the League, when it was proposed that Albania should be admitted, and here admission was objected to by the English representative, whereupon Lord Robert Cecil, who, I think, represented South Africa upon that occasion, mobilised the small States in the Assembly against his own country, and England seeing she would have been beaten in the vote in the Assembly withdrew her objection. I know, and everyone knows who has any acquaintance at all with the affairs of Geneva, that our-application would be extremely popular there, I do not say that there might not be objections raised upon some small point or other, but I am saying that inasmuch as there could not be any right of objection in the Covenant on any point of substance I have very little doubt about the success of the application, and I have no doubt of the extremely warm welcome the Irish representative would receive. And let me remind the Dáil that we were one of the ancient Nations of Christendom. Let me remind the House of the Council of Constance in 1415, when the King of England applied for admission, and was told he did not represent one of the ancient nations of Christendom, and could not be admitted. Whem he found himself in that position he said, "but I have another string to my bow, I am also King of Ireland, and in that capacity I claim the right of admission," and in that capacity they let him in. I think it is time now when we are emerging from English bondage that we should assert our national position before the world, and here is a clear and definite opportunity of doing so. Why even if the Government looked at it from a Party point of view they should see that they would be increasing their own prestige as well as increasing the prestige of the country in the eyes of the whole world by gaining admission to the international Forum from which we were excluded so long, and it would require very strong reasons to convince me that Ireland was doing the right thing in standing aside from what was her manifest right, or thereby adding to the high repute in which this Nation is held. It is necessary for Ireland to realise that she is a Nation and a live Nation. The procedure, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs knows, is exceedingly simple. I need not go into that at the present moment. If objection is raised, and I can think of no reason for objection, by the Ministry on the ground that if we apply England would not like it, I question whether that objection is well founded; secondly, I think it may be fairly obvious to the Ministry that there are high reasons of State, shall I say, without going into details, which should have made England very glad to see us in the League; and thirdly, whether England objects or not, it is our right to go in, and I feel strongly that it is the duty of the Government to see we go in, especially at a moment like the present. I therefore move this motion.

In seconding the motion, Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to speak at any length, because Deputy Gavan Duffy has covered the ground pretty well, and I referred, to it myself in the last debate. There are many things most of us here in this Dáil and especially my friends at my side might object to in the Covenant of the League of Nations and most of its organisation especially at its creation as the disappointed child of the allied Governments, and its inspiration which was very largely the British Government and British propaganda. But there are some things in it that make it desirable at the present moment that application should be made from Ireland. The point raised about Article 10 does, I think, at the moment stand good for us, though it stood bad for us some time ago. Most of the articles, and particularly the obligation which membership imposes upon a State, rather cuts both ways, as I think Deputy Gavan Duffy will agree, but at the same time I think it is highly desirable, because it would, undoubtedly fix the status of this State. It would be a guarantee that we had got international recognition of our State. The thing that does matter to us is the recognition, of our Statehood and our exercise at home and abroad of that Statehood. It would also test the sincerity of the British and other nations as to our Statehood, and it would make clear many things which at the moment are dark. For that reason I have pleasure in seconding Deputy Gavan Duffy's motion.