Ní gádh dhom an t-abhar rúin do leígheamh anois, ós rud é go bhuil sé léighte cheana agaibh anso.
I do not know whether this motion that I have on the paper will be regarded as contentious or not, but I think that the subject matter is in itself hardly contentious. Although the resolution is somewhat long, the scope of it is very limited. Its object is simply to provide for the immediate compilation of a Register in which women will be entered on the same terms as men. It does not make any changes in regard to qualifications, except in removing a special sex disqualification that existed. It does not make any changes in regard to procedure, the qualifying period, the abuses that arise in elections, or anything else which may be necessary to deal with in an electoral law hereafter. The purpose of proceeding with these resolutions at the present time is simply this — there was prepared for the year 1921 the third Irish Register under the Representation of the People Act. The end of the qualifying period for that Register was the 15th October, 1920. That was a good Register and properly prepared, and the previous one was properly revised. In regard to the fourth Register for which the end of the qualifying period was the 31st August, 1921, this is the Register still in force, and it was the Register under which the recent election was carried out. That Register is not a very good Register, because the revision was not in all places properly carried out, and it includes many names of persons who are dead, or who are left the country. There are many people entitled to vote whose names are not on it. This year, when the qualifying period would normally have ended on July 20th, no steps have been taken to prepare a Register. Consequently, the Register that exists now must be regarded as very stale, indeed. If no steps were taken such as are proposed in these resolutions and we waited until an electoral law could be passed, it would be impossible, I should say, to fix the end of the qualifying period before the 31st January. When this matter of the removal of the disabilities under which women laboured in regard to the franchise was debated in the second Dáil, we were told that the period allotted for the compilation of a Register was three months. As a matter of fact, no Register has yet been compiled in a period of three months. For the fourth Register the period given for the compilation was 5½ months, and that Register was not, as I say, a Register which was in all respects properly compiled. The period given was 5½ months, and that period barely suffices. With the admission of something like 400,000 new Electors, apart from the people who would have been added to the Register, in the normal way, through coming of age, it certainly is not likely that the Register can be compiled in 6½ months. That means that with the passing of these resolutions it will be about the 15th of April before we have a new Register. If we waited until an Electoral law could be passed it might be certainly next August before there would be a new Register. As the Register was, last June, already very stale, it would be impossible to hold a general election on this Register, if it was found necessary to hold a general election. On the other hand it might not be possible to postpone the holding of a general election till, say, next August. It might not be possible to postpone the holding of a general election till the 15th April, or till very long after the 15th April. We feel that it is absolutely necessary to proceed at once with the compilation of a Register, on which an election can be held, which will be a sufficiently accurate Register to enable us to hold a general election. In the draft Constitution power is taken, if it is passed in the form in which it is, to continue this Dáil as the Lower House of the Oireachtas for a period of twelve months. Once the Constitution is through, we do not know what political developments there may be within the Dáil, and we cannot at all be sure that it would be possible, even if it were desirable, for this Dáil to continue without dissolution for twelve months after the passing of the Constitution. We feel that it is necessary to proceed at once with the compilation of a Register. If it should be found that it is possible to carry on till next August, or so, when a new Register might be compiled under any Electoral law that may be passed in the beginning of next year, it still would be undesirable to put off the work of dealing with the Register till then. Once the Constitution is passed and the Free State Parliament comes into being, a large number of vacancies will occur which ought to be filled. If there is not going to be a General Election, there will be a large number of bye-elections, and for the holding of these bye-elections there ought to be a Register, and it ought to give an electorate as closely representative of the whole people of Ireland as it is possible to do. That is our reason for bringing this forward. As I have said, the scope of it is very narrow. It simply authorises the compilation of a Register immediately, with a qualifying period ending on the 15th October, and it removes the disqualifications of women. That is, up to this young women could have a vote if they were over the age of 30. That is reduced by this resolution to 21 years. It was also necessary for a woman to be in occupation of premises of a certain valuation; by this resolution we remove that. A woman is entitled to be entered on the Register on a residential qualification only, the same as men. If the Dáil comes to pass the electoral law, it may decide, and I suppose it certainly will decide, if the provisions of the Constitution in this respect are not altered, that the business premises qualification should be done away with, because the Articles in the draft Constitution provide for one person one vote. That could be carried into effect notwithstanding anything that is in this resolution or in the existing law, because in the Register there is a mark opposite each name indicating the qualification under which the person is on the Register— that is to say, the letters B.P. opposite the name of any person qualified in respect of business premises. Now, if the Dáil decides it shall be one person one vote, and that the occupation of business premises has ceased to be a qualification, then the people who might be on the Register compiled in respect of this resolution in respect of business premises will not be able to vote. This resolution does not commit us to anything further than the compilation on the old lines. Women are included on the same terms as men.