Before the Dáil adjourns there is a very serious question to consider. Visitors are here by courtesy of the Dáil, and by special courtesy individual Members of the Dáil are given tickets. Each Member receives only one ticket, and it must be made quite clear that when the Deputy gives that ticket to any person he will take no risk whatever that that person will interrupt the proceedings of this Dáil. That must be very clearly understood, and if it is not understood it would be practically impossible for me, as representing the whole Dáil, to maintain suitable decorum during the proceedings. I would like to hear some explanation of this whole matter. I would like to hear the views of the Dáil upon it, as we have some little time left.
ADMISSION OF VISITORS.
I have pleaded guilty to having given a ticket for admission, the recipient of which helped in the disturbance this afternoon. I am prepared to accept all the responsibility, and all the punishment that may devolve upon that person for the breach of decorum. I took all the precaution that one could take, short of a written pledge, but, as in so many other cases of the kind, the promise was broken. I have nothing more to say.
I think that a certain amount of risk was taken in connection with some of the invitations to be present here which were given. It is quite possible at any moment for persons — and by persons I suppose I would be entitled to include those involved in the term "ladies"— to lose some slight control, and be tempted to say something, but that the particular performance which took place this afternoon was a concerted movement on the part of the three particular persons I have no doubt whatever. And I think the Dáil will agree that the presence of persons so inclined cannot in future be tolerated by the Dáil. They belong to an order of people who pride themselves outside this Dáil that they do not recognise the Dáil, and they come here thinking that their presence here is not a recognition of the Dáil, and give an exhibition which is not a credit to the nation or to themselves. I think the Dáil may rely upon it that all members will combine to prevent anything of this sort happening again, and that very exceptional discretion will be used in the matter of issuing these tickets. I think the matter may be left at that.
I take it that the persons who took part in the disturbance will be refused admission for the future.
During the rest of this Session.
I am responsible for the issue of one of the tickets, and I will explain how it occurred. Last Monday, at the Corporation, one of my colleagues, Councillor Mrs. Sheehy-Skeffington, sent me a letter saying she would be obliged if I could get her a pass for to-day's meeting. I put the letter in my pocket, and came down to the Dáil on Monday evening. I recognised there was a certain amount of responsibility in the matter, and I sent the letter of application, with a note, to Mr. Speaker, asking his decision upon the matter. Mr. Speaker wrote to me, and said that this was a matter for myself; that he had nothing to say in connection with it at all. I there and then went to the ticket office and handed in the letter of application from Councillor Mrs. Sheehy-Skeffington, and left it there for some hours. Yesterday, when coming out, I asked was there any decision upon the matter, and I was told it was being discussed inside. I came back in a quarter of an hour, and was told that a decision had been arrived at, and I was handed a ticket made out in the name of Mrs. Sheehy-Skeffington. I gave her the ticket, and I was not aware that she or anybody else would make a disturbance. I have nothing further to say, except that I took all the precautions necessary.
I agree that in the case of the three Deputies who gave tickets, blame does not arise. Deputy Johnson says he got a very definite promise that his courtesy would not be availed of to create a disturbance. That promise was clearly broken. The Minister for Foreign Affairs told me that the person who got the ticket on his behalf gave similar very specific assurances, and in the case of Deputy Alfred Byrne, when he asked me the question, I had no desire in any way to interfere with any privilege of any Deputy in this Dáil, and I therefore said if he desired to give a ticket to a colleague of his in the Dublin Corporation he was at liberty to do so even if that colleague of his had views with which neither he nor any member of this Dáil agrees, and when that ticket given by Deputy Byrne was taken and abused, I think he must be exonerated from any blame in the matter, as must also the other Deputies. It is desirable, it seems to me, that the public should have access to this Dáil, and that members should be able to bring in members of the public, but that position will have to be reconsidered unless great care is exercised, and I would like a decision as to whether these persons expelled this afternoon should be allowed again to enter during this session. I do not wish myself to interfere with anybody's privileges.
There is just one observation I would like to make on the subject that the President has touched upon with delicacy, namely, the distinction to be properly made between those who undoubtedly come here with the special and specific purpose of creating disturbance, and those who might be led by excess of emotion at a particular moment into a demonstration of sympathy. I think there is a distinction, and that it would be a matter of justice to have that observed. With regard to the main question I think that has already answered itself. The fact that Deputy Johnson and the Minister for Foreign Affairs should have sought for an undertaking in writing from those persons, and the fact that Deputy Byrne should have taken such express precautions as he would not have taken in other circumstances, clearly indicates that each of the three imagined something might occur, and I think their suspicions in respect of these persons were well grounded, and would have been felt and appreciated by anybody else to whom the application was made as being made with the conceivable intention of being used for other purposes, and rejected. I say that with great pain because of associations in the past which one looks back upon with considerable feeling; nevertheless I think if these persons come here again they will only come for the purpose of creating a disturbance and they should not be allowed in.
Would it be possible to make such a change on the tickets of admission as would ensure that persons availing of them should give an undertaking to abide by the rules of decorum?
The unfortunate thing is that people give undertakings and then break them.
I ask that Deputies exercise more discretion. We know there has been a campaign about the treatment of prisoners. We know the ladies who are conducting it, and two of the ladies who are very prominent in that way were removed this afternoon.
I think the matter has been sufficiently gone into now.