Before going on with it I wish to deal with Standing Order 54. It is possible that the debate on this motion may absorb more time than is allowed, and it may encroach on some of the time of private Deputies. I want to know if this is the time to move that Ministerial business should take precedence. We do not wish to closure any motion on the Agenda, but we wish this discussion should be allowed to continue, and at the end these motions could be taken up. In order to make way for that I move that Ministerial business get precedence.
PRECEDENCE FOR MINISTERIAL BUSINESS.
Under Standing Order 54 it is stated that questions and Ministerial business shall be confined to Tuesdays and Thursdays during the Sitting, and on Wednesdays until 7 p.m. and on Friday until 6 o'clock. Next week the Dáil will sit until 8.30 in order to give an hour and a half to motions by private Teachtai.
If this is not decided at 6 o'clock, the debate should be continued and the private business appearing on the Orders of the Day taken after that.
As one of those whose names are down for private motion, I have great pleasure in seconding that.
The private motion I have down is one concerning the Constitution, and I am anxious to convenience the President in every way I could, but if I give way, the motion should come on to-morrow before the Constitution. In many ways it affects a good many parts of the Constitution, and I think it is fair that we should take it before the Constitution.
I should say that is a matter for the Dáil, if the Dáil is prepared to sit on to discuss this motion. I could not give any guarantee on behalf of the Dáil that they would take these motions at the end of Ministerial business. I am prepared to sit on until we have disposed of them should it be the wish of the Dáil.
Of course the matter does not arise yet.
The understanding is, that the Ministerial motion will be debated after 6 o'clock if necessary, and the private members' business will then continue, by sitting late if the Dáil so decides.
Can we decide now to sit late? It might be better to decide it now in case of necessity.
If the Dáil is agreeable we would be willing to sit on until 8.30 or 9 o'clock.
I think it would be as well.
It would be well if the business is not disposed of that the Dáil should sit until 8.30. The President's idea perhaps could be put in a motion of that kind.
I would move that after the Ministerial business is completed, that we should continue until 8.30 to-night to deal with private business.
I second that, and if the President will agree to the motion I put forward to have half an hour before the Constitution comes on again.
I could not guarantee anything that is not in the Standing Orders. There is no provision for that in the Standing Orders. We should keep to the Standing Orders as far as possible.
I should like to make it clear that the change in the Standing Orders such as suggested can only be made by consent.
The motion proposed is that after Ministerial business is completed, the Dáil shall continue to sit until 8.30 if necessary to deal with private members' motions.
ABHAR RÚIN ON AIRE UM CHOSAINT.
(Motion by the Minister for Defence.)
DE BHRÍ gur chuir an Rialtas mar dhualgas ar an Arm an pobal do chosaint ó bhaol agus dea-órdú do bhunú arís ar fuaid na tíre agus gur chuireadar de chúram ar an Arm údarás an Rialtais do dhaingnúi i ngach páirt den tír ina bhfuiltear ag cur i gcoinne an údaráis sin le fóiréigean.
WHEREAS the Government has entrusted to the Army the duty of securing the public safety and restoring order throughout the country and has placed on the Army the responsibility for the establishment of the authority of the Government in all parts of the country in which that authority is challenged by force.
AGUS DE BHRÍ gur chuir Lucht Ceannais an Airm in úil don Rialtas go bhfuil sé riachtanach chun an dualgas agus an cúram do cuireadh ortha do chó-líona le héifeacht go mbeadh comhacht ag Lucht Ceannais an Airm chum Cúirteanna no Coistí Airm do chur ar bun ag a mbeadh lánchomhacht chun cúiseanna do scrúdú agus daoine do phionósú ar iad d'fháil ciontach i ngíomhartha do thiocfadh trasna ar no do mhoilleodh údarás an Rialtais do lán-dhaingniú agus go mbeadh comhacht ag Lucht Ceannais an Airm daoine do tógadh na bpríosúnaigh ag Lucht Ceannais an Airm do chimeád in áiteanna atá laistigh no lasmuich de líomatáiste dlí an Rialtais agus fós go mbeadh comhacht acu deighleáil agus seilbh in airm theine do rialú.
AND WHEREAS the Army Authorities have represented to the Government that in order to discharge effectively the duty and responsibility so placed on them it is essential that the Army Authorities should have power to set up Military Courts or Committees with full powers of enquiring into charges and inflicting punishment on persons found guilty of acts calculated to interfere with or delay the effective establishment of the authority of the Government, and that the Army Authorities should have power to detain in places whether within or without the area of the jurisdiction of the Government persons arrested by the Army authorities and power to control the dealing in and possession of firearms.
AGUS DE BHRÍ gur soiléir don Rialtas fírinne na faisnéise sin agus gur thoiligheadar go ndéanfadh Lucht Ceannais an Airm gach no aon cheann de sna nithe agus na rudaí seo leanas.
AND WHEREAS the Government recognising the force of such representations has sanctioned the doing by the Army Authorities of all or any of the following matters and things.
(a) Cúirteanna no Coistí Airm do chur ar bun chun cúiseanna i gcoinne daoine i dtaobh aon cheann de sna cionta a luaidhtear 'na dhiaidh seo do sgrúdú, ar choiníoll, ámh, go mbeidh mar bhall de gach Cúirt no Coiste Airm dá leithéid duine amháin ar a luighead a ainmneoidh an t-Aire um Chosaint agus a dheimhneoidh an DlíOifigeach bheith 'na dhuine go bhfuil eolas agus taithí dlí aige.
(a) The setting up of Military Courts or Committees for the enquiring into charges against persons in respect of any of the offences hereinafter mentioned provided however that every such Military Court or Committee shall include as a member thereof at least one person nominated by the Minister of Defence and certified by the Law Officer to be a person of legal knowledge and experience.
(b) Na Cúirteanna no Coistí Airm sin do sgrúdú cás daoine go bhfuilaon cheann de sna cionta so leanas curtha 'na leith sé sin le rá.
(b) The enquiry by such Military Courts or Committees into the cases of persons charged with any of the offences following, that is to say:—
(I.) Bheith páirteach i no do chabhrú le no do chur suas chun aon ionsuidhe do dhéanamh ar no fórsa d'úsáid i gcoinne an Airm Náisiúnta.
(I.) Taking part in or aiding or abetting any attack upon or using force against the National Forces.
(II.) Creach tóiteán lot gabháil seilbh no aistriú no díobháil mhí-dhleathach do déanamh do mhaoin phuiblí no phríobháideach.
(II.) Looting arson destruction seizure unlawful possession or removal of or damage to any public or private property.
(III.) Bheith i seilbh gan údarás chóir aon bhoma no aon rud de nádúir bhoma no aon dynamite gelignite no aon stuif phléasgach eile no aon phiostal, rifle, gunna no arm teine cile no arm marbhthach no aon lón d'aon arm teine dá leithéid.
(III.) Having possession without proper authority of any bomb or article in the nature of a bomb or any dynamite gelignite or other explosive substance or any revolver rifle gun or other firearm or lethal weapon or any ammunition for such firearm.
(IV.) Aon ordú no riail ghenerálta a dhéanfaidh Lucht Ceannais an Airm do bhrise.
(IV.) The breach of any general order or regulation made by the Army Authorities.
Agus na Cúirteanna no Coistí Airm sin do thabhiart bhreith bháis no bhreith phríosúin ar feadh aon téarma no do chur fíneála d'aon mhéid le no gan phríosún ar aon duine a ciontófar ag aon Chúirt no Choiste mar sin in aon cheann de snacionta roimh-ráite.
and the infliction by such Military Courts or Committees of the punishment of death or of penal servitude for any period or of imprisonment for any period or of a fine of any amount either with or without imprisonment on any person found guilty by such Court or Committee of any of the offences aforesaid.
(c) Lucht Ceannais an Airm d'aistriú gach no aon duine atá tógtha no cimeádta na phríosúnach ag an Arm Náisiúnta go dtí aon áit no áiteanna laistigh no lasmuich de liómatáiste dlí an Rialtais agus aon duine mar sin do chimeád no do chur don phríosún in aon áit no áiteanna laistigh no lasmuich den líomatáiste dlí roimh-ráite.
(c) The removal by Army Authorities of all or any person taken prisoner arrested or detained by the National Forces to any place or places whether within or without the area of jurisdiction of the Government and the detention or imprisonment of any such persons in any place or places within or without the area aforesaid.
(d) Díol seilbh aistriú agus deighleáil i bpiostail riflí gunnaí agus airm theine eile do rialú agus do riara.
(d) The regulation and control of the sale possession transfer of and dealing in revolvers rifles guns and other firearms.
ANOIS deimhnigheann agus molann an Dáil seo déanamh gach no aon cheann de sna gníomhartha agus na nithe roimh-ráite ag Lucht Ceannais an Airm agus an cead atá tughta ag an Rialtas uatha mar gurb é tuairim na Dála gur riachtanas Airm déanamh na nithe uile roimh-ráite ag Lucht Ceannais an Airm.
NOW this Dáil being of opinion that the doing by the Army Authorities of the several matters aforesaid is a matter of military necessity doth hereby ratify and approve of the sanction given by the Government and of the doing by the Army Authorities of all or any of the acts and matters aforesaid.
This motion is regarded by the Government and the Army as of very great importance. A perusal of it will disclose that it is a matter of very great importance to this Dáil. In entering into the reasons why this motion is put down one must enquire what the cause was and what the effect of the irregulars' armed opposition to the National Army really means at this moment. It is an attempt to overthrow Parliament, and it is a direct challenge to the authority of the people; and one of the reasons put forward for this armed opposition is that the Treaty was accepted under duress, and the question naturally arises as to whether or not the people had a right under the circumstances to accept the Treaty. It was open to them to accept war if that was the alternative; but the minority in the country had no right to say that the people were bound to accept war, or bound to accept their opinions, when their opinions were not the opinions of the majority of the people. And the next question that occurs is, what is the political machinery available if this irregular onslaught were to succeed. As far as this Dáil knows, there is no political machinery available. If this armed minority were to succeed in their attacks on the National forces, in other words if they were to succeed, the liberties of the people would be entirely at the mercy of the gun. Those who support, if there be any public representatives who support, these armed forces, do not come here in the place which the people have set up in order to put forward the views that they have got with regard to supporting these armed bands. It is unnecessary to enter into the disadvantages which the country has sustained by reason of this rebellion. It restricts trade, it attempts to destroy the industry of the nation, it delays the progress of public administration, it destroys life, damages public and private property, it shakes public security, it defames our nation, injures the people's health, and endangers the future generation as it helps to destroy the people's peace; it delays the departure of the British troops, and it has given rise to new propaganda which violates divine and human law. I have been shewn two publications which have been issued by those who support this particular mode of warfare which is going on, and one is amazed to know the degree of satisfaction which is felt by those publicists when troops acting under the authority of this Parliament are injured or maimed in the street by attacks or ambushes of one sort or another. This particular rebellion with which we are dealing now attempts to set up, attempts to create, a new order in the community. Highwaymen loot and commandeer property, and raid and destroy to such an extent that in certain places people's means of livelihood are practically destroyed. Now going back over the last two or three months, and considering what the effect of the seizure of the Four Courts is, one is forced to come to the decision whether or not that was a military or a political action. If it were military, the people who took part in that seizure might claim to be treated as soldiers; if it were political, there ought to be some body of opinion in the country supporting the act. Examining it on the basis of a military proposition, what has happened there? The collapse of the place after all the precautions that had been taken. The collapse of the place after 60 hours does not entitle those people to much consideration as a military proposition, and the newspapers have revealed in more than one instance that when people grumble through the country about the attacks made upon them by irregulars, they stated "this is your reward for voting for the people you elected at the recent election." A document has been issued recently, addressed to the Minister of Defence and myself, signed by a gentleman, Norbert O'Connor. One would expect on reading it that that is a brother of the gentleman who seized the Four Courts, and it appears that this gentleman has so much shed his military glory and prestige that he is afraid to leave his cell in Mountjoy, fearing that he will be accidentally shot. On one occasion within the last week or ten days this gentleman, or agents on his behalf, attempted to bribe the guards at Mountjoy with a view to getting him out; and if he or any other prisoner at present held in the custody of the National troops attempts to escape, and if the only means of preventing his escape is that he be shot, the Government is taking every responsibility and giving authority for shooting such escaping prisoners. This gentleman, who has lost his military glory and prestige, is now afraid to leave his cell, where his plans fail and his courage flags, and he commences to cry, for he is afraid of being accidentally shot. Compare his present position with that of Lord French, who at least went through one very severe ambush. At any rate, Lord French was not afraid to stir out of his house for fear he would be accidentally shot.
And he had opportunities of using a Press, if he were so advised, and of telling the people of England, and some of the people of Ireland, that he was afraid to leave his house, fearing that he would be accidentally shot, and he did not do it. Now, this military experiment, of those people, who are really a very small minority in this country, has been forced upon us. The representatives of the people accepted that military experiment, under duress, but they accepted it. Every possible effort that we could make to end this matter in a peaceful way, and in a way which would leave no bitterness, and which would, as far as we were concerned, save the faces of those whose political form would not have allowed themselves to save their faces was made. When all that failed, and only force could be brought to bear upon the situation, we brought that force to bear upon it; and even now, two or three months after it has occurred, we are prepared, even at this hour, to have peace, but there must be no armed truce. If there be a truce now it must be a peace truce; and they can have it, at this moment, on the surrender of arms to this Parliament—the Parliament of the people, and this Parliament can be generous, but it must be just. After the election we are not entitled to barter terms with those people, because we had no hesitation in putting to the people what exactly the position was, as we saw it at that time, and saying to the people what we were prepared to do. There must, and there will be, in this country political freedom and there must be liberty, but it must be liberty without licence; there must be obedience to the Parliament, and there must be no armed force in this country outside of the control of the people's government. In this resolution the Government asks for certain powers for the army, which the responsible Army authorities consider are necessary for the protection of their soldiers. If murderous attacks take place, those who persist in those murderous attacks must learn that they have got to pay the penalty for them. Just now those people think, and as far as our action is concerned, up to this, it has looked as if they had perfect liberty to attack our soldiers, to maim them, to wound them, to kill them, and to suffer no greater penalty than internment. Those people not alone take part in those things, but go away silently smiling and laughing at the destruction they have wrought. They must be taught that this Government is not going to suffer their soldiers to be maimed and ruined, crippled and killed, without at least bringing those responsible for such destruction before a tribunal that will deal out justice to those people. Those soldiers that we have at present in the National Army are the sons of the people. At great personal risk, and in some cases leaving comfortable positions behind them, they have taken up a position of great danger in order to secure for the people the rights they have won. In the earlier days of the Volunteers, the pledge that had to be taken by the Volunteers was "to secure and maintain the rights and privileges common to all the people of Ireland." The people of Ireland have now got certain political rights, recognised generally throughout the world. We are the immediate custodians of those rights. We have got to see that the machinery we set up, and the armies we equip, and the people we entrust with the charge of those armies will get the full power and support of the Government of the people in carrying out their duties. The Resolution that has been submitted is submitted in order to show that there is a Government prepared to take the responsibility of governing. And the Government is prepared in connection with the publication of any Army regulations which should be issued in connection with these resolutions to place them on the table of the Dáil, and to allow a time—two, three, or four days, as the case may be—to elapse after leaving them on the table before these Regulations will be put into force and before action will be taken on them, which is outlined in the resolution. We have felt for a very considerable time past that the Army authorities were entitled to get the powers which it is proposed to give them under this Resolution. It was hoped from the beginning that we might possibly be able to crush this rebellion without resorting to such stern measures of justice as are outlined in this Resolution, but the absolute disregard of life and of suffering that is evidenced by the continuance of the irregular attacks plainly indicated to the Government that protection is due to their soldiers, and for that protection we have put down this resolution, and we ask the Dáil to pass it. I, therefore, formally move the resolution.
Mr. Chairman, I beg to second that resolution. At this moment this country is fighting for its life in a way possibly that it never did before, because its life is threatened more imminently now than at any time of its history. When this Nation's life is threatened it is the duty of everybody in Ireland, without distinction, to take up the work of defending their country. We, for purposes of efficiency, and for the general running of the country, delegate the work of protecting the life of this country to a body of men known as the Army. That body of men is responsible to us, and inasmuch as they are responsible to us, we are responsible to them; and it is our duty unflinchingly to put every power in their hands which is necessary for them to carry out the work they have in hand, and not only to carry out that work, but to carry it out as expeditiously as possible. All over the country ruin is being spread, and the longer that continues the more disastrous the state the whole country gets into. On an occasion like the present there is no opportunity, and there is no justification, for any quibbling about legality or anything else. To quote a certain well-known book: "If the needs of time be pressing, Courts and Constitution may have to give way —Salus Reipublicae Suprema Lex. Above that supreme written law stands the safety of the Commonwealth. It will be secured, if possible, in conformity with the Constitution, but if that be not possible, then by evading and even over-riding the Constitution." We are faced with the grim fact, and legal quibbles or humanitarian catch-cries and things like that have no meaning and no place in the present situation. This Nation is more important than any face-saving or any consideration of the things that may be said about it. That is the stand we take. This work we have in hand has to be grappled efficiently, and to grapple it efficiently we have to put full powers in the hands of the Army. That Army is responsible to the Dáil; this Dáil has control of its action. When we put that work into their hands it is up to us to see that they have all the powers they require for carrying it out. In the late war against the British we had to put more or less unlimited powers into the hands of our soldiers, and these soldiers were up against a situation in which they fought the enemy, and they had no alternative but to escape him altogether or to face death. The result of that was that a very high moral standard was maintained in the ranks of the Volunteers during that period. Men were up against a grim reality; they had no time for such side issues as loot or taking steps to improve their financial position when the war was over. Now we are faced with bands of men undertaking a comparatively safe job. Their general lines are to maintain the Republic as long as possible and, when no longer possible, to see they are in a sound financial position. They fight as long as they can inflict damage upon the troops and the civilian population, and as long as they can injure the economic life of the nation; and up to the present it might be said that we have given them every possible encouragement by the fact that we have allowed them to inflict as much damage as they can; and then within a few hours of their surrender they threaten us to go on hunger strike and injure their health unless given every comfort that they think they ought to have. Now when a nation is in grips with death, as this nation is at present, and that it is an even chance, you may say, whether this nation which has struggled for seven hundred and fifty years against an alien foe, is going at last to succumb before her own domestic foes—when we are faced with that situation we are not going to quibble or shirk any responsibility that we feel we have to face, and we are determined to leave no steps undone which may be necessary, not only for the efficient carrying out of the present task we have in hands, but for the expeditious carrying out of that task. We are going to make it plain to the people who think that the law is a thing which existed in the past but is no longer going to exist, inasmuch as the reign of law is necessary for this country's existence, that the reign of law is going to be enforced, and we are not going to be turned aside by any mawkishness or any other consideration. The governments of every country in a similar position have had to take up these extraordinary powers. We propose giving these powers to the Army, and we will exact from the Army an account of the use they make of them. We expect the Army will realise the responsibilities we have put upon their shoulders, and we intend to see that they carry out their work in a suitable way. But there is one thing perfectly clear and that is that if we are going to save this country we can only do it by putting our backbone into the work we have on hands and going along unflinchingly. It is no good for Deputies—if they propose doing so—to get up here with pious emendations and restrictions. We are sitting here and sending men out to face death, and it is up to us to give these men every protection and put every possible weapon in their hands, and we propose to do so.
I do not know whether it is intended to take the amendments before we discuss the motion.
It occurs to me it would be better to have the general discussion, which might go on for an hour or so, and to have speeches from two or three Deputies, and then to take the amendments.
If the general principle were discussed first and the amendments taken afterwards, perhaps that would be the better course.
The speech of the President in introducing these momentous resolutions was trifling with a very serious position. We had an introduction dealing with the character of Mr. Rory O'Connor, and one would imagine that we were dealing with a casual resolution in a debating society. Then the Minister for Foreign Affairs comes along and says that the real reason is that the life of the nation is at stake and that it is in the balance. Surely such a position, if it is the case, ought not to have been introduced into this Dáil by the trifling persiflage of the President. One, I think, had a right to expect that there would have been a review of the military position and a thorough examination of the military position in the country, before such a resolution was placed before us. But we are again asked to confirm certain things that have been done by the Ministry without any information as to the reason why these things should be done. We are told "Whereas the Government has entrusted to the Army the duty of securing the public safety and restoring order throughout the country: And Whereas the Government, recognising the force of such representations has sanctioned the doing by the Army authorities of all or any of the following matters and things, including the setting up of military courts or committees for enquiring into charges against persons in respect of any of the offences hereinafter mentioned, and including punishment by death or imprisonment for any period, etc." The Ministry has sanctioned the Army doing these things. When was it sanctioned? Will you produce in writing in what form that sanction was given, and what has happened since that sanction was given to necessitate the bringing of this resolution forward? When we are dealing with so serious a matter as doing what is in effect that which has been demanded by the section of the Army that has ceased to be under the control of the Government, that is to say, giving that Army military power over every person in the country— the setting up, by the vote of the Dáil, of a military dictatorship—we should at least have some reasons given us and some thorough examination and disclosure of the military position throughout the country. Anybody, I am quite certain, reading the resolution would say it was a sign, not of strength, but of weakness—an S.O.S. signal that the Army was not capable of dealing with the situation in the country, and that it would need to have powers over all men—civilians as well as soldiers— during peace or war in any part of the country. I wonder is it understood by Members of the Dáil what really is happening on this occasion. The Government is entrusting to the army power of life and death over every citizen. We have a right to know the reasons why that is necessary, and we have a right to examine them and we will have to be candid here to-day. We have a right to know what is the relationship between the Army and the Government, under what authority the Army is acting, and what are the responsibilities of the individual soldier in that Army to any citizen under the law, and also what law are they acting under. They have been granted power, and we are asked to confirm that grant of power to the Army, to set up Military Courts to try any cases that that Army wishes, to punish by death any civilian who breaks a general order or regulation made by that Army in the future. Military dictatorship indeed! You have denounced, every one of you, military dictatorship in other countries—in Russia, for example, but they had the grace to set up a special court to try their cases. Conceivably, it may have been necessary in certain times in the history of certain countries to hand over all power to an Army; but, at least, that Army should have been working under regulations which were known. That Army had a tradition and an experience, and an understanding of civil life. We do not want to decry the character of the Army, but no one will claim that an Army of novices, everyone of them recruits in practice, shall have this power of life and death over civilians and over soldiers without public trial. One wants to know when this sanction was given by the Government to the Army to set up these Courts; if anything has been done in recent weeks to make it necessary that these powers should be sanctioned, and thereby make them to some degree legal. I predict with very great sorrow, that if this order is passed, we will learn of very many more cases of Colleys and Nevilles, and the other men who have lost their lives, for which no explanation has been given in the Courts or to the public. There is very grave danger indeed that in that authority you are going to multiply that state of things indefinitely. You have not got within your Army to-day that perfect discipline and control which would prevent a fearful disaster coming upon the good name of this country. The Army has done valiant work in the past; it has done good work; but it has done work which has been very hard for most of us to understand and therefore to stand over. But you are going to make it possible for many dark deeds to be done by an Army which is not in the public eye, which has not command over all its units, and in which the discipline is not satisfactory, and no one will claim that it is. A certain man was taken out of his place of employment, taken into the country, and shot. An ordinary murder, motive unknown, one might say. He lies in the Morgue; his friends come to visit him; they pray, and military forces come up in lorries and armoured cars and arrest these men and denounce them, and threaten them, and say: "If that man had not ever handled a gun, he would not have lain where he is." That is what happened in the case of this man Neville. That is an act of indiscipline. I am confident that the Minister of Defence will not defend it. But if that kind of indiscipline is possible at present, how much more will similar things happen under these Orders and Regulations? The Dáil is supposed to have power and authority over the Government. The Government is supposed to have power and authority over the Army. The Army has been handed over by the Government all the authority and all the power it likes to assume in this country—all the authority and power it cares and wishes to assume. If I were what I have been alleged by certain foolish people to be—if I were a true revolutionist—a revolutionist with a backbone, as somebody suggested, I would welcome this proposal. I am of two minds on it; but I would welcome this proposal and I would advocate men getting into that army, because it is a proletarian army in the main, and using these powers against the Government, and setting up its own dictatorship. That is what you are opening the way to if you pass this motion. You may not mind; you may be satisfied. The Army's quality is good enough to hand over government to. All right; let us say so frankly. Let us disband this Dáil and say all power derived from the people is handed over by this Dáil to the Commander-in-Chief for so many months. That would be an honourable, and frank, and open way of doing business. Let us do that if we intend to do it. We are not doing that. We are pretending to govern through this Dáil. We are supposed to have a Government which is responsible to this Dáil. The Government hands over that responsibility to an Army which is not fitted for this particular kind of work—entirely unfitted for this particular kind of work. The British Army, with a long tradition, a long understanding of Military Regulations, has said, through its exponents, many times, that it is the most experienced officers, the most capable of its troops that should be engaged in any question of Military Courts or trials, or jurisdiction over any civilian. That is trebly the case in the present circumstances here, and if we have not got that particular type through the peculiar circumstances of the time, surely it is possible to find some other way of securing the resumption or the taking over of law and power in the country in some other way than handing over all these extraordinary powers to an immature Army. One wonders whether we ought not to think more of the ludicrous position this Dáil is in—the hypocritical position we are in? On the same Orders of the Day we get a motion of this kind and a motion, by the same Minister, to pass a Clause in a Constitution reading thus:—
"No one shall be tried save in due course of law, and extraordinary courts shall not be established. The jurisdiction of Courts Martial shall not be extended to or exercised over the civil population save in time of war, and for acts committed in time of war, and in accordance with the regulations to be prescribed by law. Such jurisdiction shall not be exercised in any area in which the civil courts are open or capable of being held, and no person shall be removed from one area to another for the purpose of creating such jurisdiction."
We are asked to pass that, on the same afternoon, as we are asked to pass those Orders empowering the Military Authorities to do anything they wish without the authority of this Dáil. It is proposed that these Courts are to be provided with a person of legal knowledge and experience as one of the members of the Court. We have the President's testimony to the fact that many lawyers have proved themselves unreliable from his point of view but I want to know what code is going to govern these Courts? Are these Military regulations which are promised to us something that have evolved out of the mentality of the Minister for Defence, or are they based on the practices of other Armies in other countries or other Armies in this country, or what are they? Is this authority being given to the Army without any regulation, and are we now going to hear of Army regulations, and does the Army know nothing of the regulations yet? Surely you are not going to allow a motion of this kind to pass on the promise that some regulations are going to be placed on the table within a few days, of which, with the goodwill of the Ministry they may be discussed. But it will not make any difference. You are not only authorising the Army to punish by death any offender against the Regulation or Order issued by that Army, but you are authorising that Army to deport or transport overseas any citizen of this country for any indefinite period. Is that a power that we are willing to hand over to the Minister for Defence or to his subordinates, most of whom have not one-tenth of the appreciation of the responsibilities of their position that he has. "Transport overseas any offender against any Regulation that the Army may in its wisdom devise." Are we going to stand over that? It will be a sorry day for this country if any Regulation of that kind is going to be enforced, and we will be blamed for it for having even considered it. The President told us the other day that for everyone of the people that has been arrested and imprisoned there was evidence of a kind to be found somehow but that it could not be produced.
I did not say it could not be produced.
These are the President's words:—"It is because evidence cannot be produced, perhaps, which would justify the Court or be looked upon as evidence sufficient to justify the Court in arresting people, and which cannot be produced by reason of the non-acceptance of information and because of causes over which we have no control. The rich are enabled to buy off evidence. I am positively convinced that has been done in some cases that came before us, and that persons and people who have revolvers and other implements or resources at their disposal are in a position to prevent other evidence being brought forward. The evidence is there, and we have not arrested, so far as my information has gone, one single person without satisfactory and sufficient evidence being before us of the absolute guilt or complicity in some way or another of every person we have in our hands." It is the evidence that cannot be produced in a public Court that is going to be produced before a Military Court, where personal spleen and spite may very often affect the situation; and it is on that evidence, that kind of evidence, that a man may be transported, that a man may be executed, that a man may be imprisoned for as long as the Court decides. Who will defend that honestly? I challenge any lawyer to do it. This Dáil has the right to demand a full explanation of the military position. We have a right to know what is happening in all parts of the country. We have a right to know something about this Army—its position, its numbers, its organisation. We have a right to know everything about this machine to which we are handing over authority. Since this Dáil sat nothing has been placed in our possession in relation to the constitution of the Army— of the relations between the Army and the Government. Is it a private contract between a body of men and the Government to do certain police work or certain military work? Is the Army the organ of the Government? If it is so, why offer this authority to that subordinate institution? If it is a dependent organisation with a contract of service, infinitely less is it desirable that we should hand over this authority to that organisation? It is not honourable, it is not reasonable, that such powers should be asked for from this Dáil, unless there has been a full explanation of the reason. Is it the only alternative? Are you not able to enforce law and order by any other means than by handing over all authority to this Army, of which we know practically nothing? We have all the right to know what the situation in the country is. And I claim that before we proceed any further with this discussion that we should have a full and candid exposition of the military situation from the Minister for Defence.
I find myself in entire accord with the last Deputy in his appreciation of the gravity and the seriousness of the proposals that are now before this Dáil. I am not, however, entirely in accord with his interpretation of the situation. Though I am not without some understanding of his attitude, and were these normal times that we are living in, were these the conditions of a country that had the security, the full stability, of Constitutional authority, and that some such proposal and that some such circumstances as these were brought before us, a speech like that of the Deputy who has just spoken would be one which would find an echo of sympathy in the mind of any right-thinking democrat. But we have got to realise that we are not living in normal times. This is not a country that has got securely-founded the bulwarks of liberty in the strongholds that guard the Constitutional rights of the citizens of this country. We are a country that is just emerging from a period where the strength and illegal authority of an alien despotism has been shattered. We stand to-day amongst the ruins of that foreign despotism trying to remove the debris and to erect the pillars of the nation's security, and dig deep the foundations of the nation's Constitutional rights. And while so engaged in that work the nation and the people of Ireland are assailed not by a foreign despotism, but a certain section of the people in whose interests the Government of the country are trying to erect a fabric of Constitutional protection. If we want to get a true perspective of the present situation, and what these proposals lead to, we have got to consider what is the function of this Assembly and what is the objective towards which it directs its energies. I think we have some clue to the functions of this Assembly in Clause 2 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State, which states: "All powers of Government within Ireland, and all authority, legislative, executive and judicial, are derived from the people." I presume that this Assembly, acting for the people of Ireland, has been entrusted with the safeguarding of those powers, and that such action as the Government takes is intended to try to safeguard and to hold securely in trust for the Irish people those powers. I presume that the objective of this assembly, and also the objective of the proposals which the Government has laid before the Dáil is the safety and the welfare of the citizens of the State. Deputy Johnson has practically from the beginning to the end argued, so far as I could interpret his statement, that the purpose of these proposals was not to safeguard the safety and welfare of the citizens of the Irish State, but to subvert that safety and that welfare. That is an opinion which I, for one, do not and cannot share. Because it seems to me that if the safety and welfare of the State and of every citizen of the State is to be protected, the first start is to put an end to these conditions, which make every hour from morning until night, one in which the conditions of the lives of the citizens has been one of alarm, insecurity and grave peril. From the very beginning to the end of the speech of Deputy Johnson there was not the slightest allusion or reflection of the fact that the lives and security of every man, woman and child in Ireland is in hourly peril from morning until night under the present conditions —not a single allusion. We might have gathered that some stranger, a visitor from Mars dropping down through the dome there and listening to Deputy Johnson's speech might have imagined that this assembly was an ancient and stable assembly that had long generations of stability behind it. And he would have looked in vain from the beginning to the end of Deputy Johnson's speech for the slightest indication of what are the actual conditions in Ireland to-day— the conditions which the responsible government must take into consideration in framing proposals to lay before this Dáil. I say it is not fair to the Deputy himself to detach himself so absolutely from the realities of life in Ireland to-day, and to occupy the attention of this Dáil for the time he did with a dissertation upon abstract conditions. As I said at the beginning were we living in normal times, were the conditions such as would warrant a speech like Deputy Johnson's, no one would be stronger in insisting upon the declarations of the government which he demanded than I would myself. But I am trying, at least, to face what are the facts that are confronting Ireland to-day. And the fact that is confronting Ireland to-day is this, and let no man try to ignore it or obscure it, that those who defy the constituted authority of the nation and who are endeavouring to overthrow that authority are engaged in an attempt to pass sentence of capital punishment on the economic life of the nation. That is an absolute fact. It is not a figure of rhetoric; it is a plain, hard fact; and those who in this Dáil are supposed to represent those sections of the community whose daily hours of labour are spent in these occupations which they consider the real basis and kernel of the nation's economic life, ought to realise that this is what they are confronted with to-day—an attempt to sentence the economic life of this country to death; and they of any section of this country, or of this Dáil, ought to be most strenuous in support of any effort on the part of the Government to prevent that fell design being encompassed. Now, I do not know whether I should introduce anything that is not exactly embodied in the resolution. It might be, perhaps, not irrelevant to re-echo a certain classification made by the Minister for Defence some days ago, when he spoke of the complex elements amongst those who are opposing the Government; and we, I suppose, all recognise that in conditions of turmoil, such as the country has been confronted with at the present time, there will be possibly miscarriages of justice. That is one of the penalties which every State has to pay as the price of getting through horrible conditions of social turmoil such as the present. But I have every hope, and I have confidence too, that those miscarriages of justice that may occur—and they occur, and it has defied the ingenuity and the wit of man to prevent them from occurring—will be reduced to a minimum under the control and guidance of those who are in charge of the military forces of this country. I hope that the impression will not go out from this Assembly and from this discussion that these proposals are intended to be anything in the nature of a process of vengeance or a war of vendetta. I have already stated here on a previous occasion that against that I stand firm and adamant. The purpose, I take it, of these proposals is to restore order and to enable the people of this country to live the lives of civilised beings, without being jeopardised at every hour and every moment of their lives by the terrorist, the idealist gun-bully, or the looter. We want to know where we stand in this Assembly. Is there any section in this assembly that stands for the rule of the idealist gun-bully? And remember, when a man presents a gun at your head and you protest, and he says his justification is that he is a great idealist, I want to know is that any consolation to you if he takes your purse?
No; ideals or not?
Very well. I take it the task of this Government and this Dáil is to try to end for ever in this country at least in our day and in our generation the rule of the gun-bully, the looter, and the terrorist. Well, I presume, that in drafting these proposals the Government had no other object in view than to bring to an end, an effective end, the rule of this kind of thing. It has not been pointed out by Deputy Johnson that these will fail to secure this end, nor did he in the slightest degree point out the course of action by which the Government can secure that end more effectively than by the proposals they have submitted to this Dáil. He speaks about the rights—he did not use that phrase the "rights of the subject," but does he and those who are with him in this Dáil not realise that the rights of the subject, the liberty of the subject, the lives of the citizens, are to-day in a state of suspense not as a result of action of the Government of the Irish nation, but as a result of the action of those who are defying the authority of the Government and the people of this country. Now I think we must realise that at such a time, when the very life of the Irish nation is in peril, when its very existence is jeopardised, and jeopardised too at the very moment that it might enter into the splendour of newborn freedom, at such a moment as that it is the right of any Government that realises its responsibilities to arm itself with every power that may enable it to defeat that effort to subvert these liberties, and destroy the fabric of democratic principle and Constitutional government in the country to which it is responsible. I presume that that is precisely the object which this Government has to-day, to arm itself with effective powers to cope with the forces of disorder and arm itself efficiently to bring to an end the reign of terror and allow the beginning of peace to be established on firm and permanent foundations. Deputy Johnson also spoke of militarism. He denounced these proposals, I think, as something of the acme of militarism. There is a great deal of muddled thought about this subject of militarism—a great deal—and nowhere have I found so conspicuously muddled thought as in the ranks of those for whom Deputy Johnson speaks.
The armed soldier is not necessarily a symbol of militarism. If the armed soldier stands as a symbol of a force for overawing the people or overthrowing their rights then he is a symbol of unadulterated militarism, but if the armed soldier stands as the symbol of authority to protect the rights of the people then he stands not as a symbol of militarism, but as the enemy of militarism. That is the position of Ireland's army to-day. That is where it stands, and not as a force to overthrow, diminish, or subvert the rights of the people they sprang from. It stands sentinel over these rights to see that before these rights are overthrown each and every man of that National Army will go down to his death in defence of those rights. I think it is about time this Dáil paid some tribute to the men who are averting from Ireland that great and terrible catastrophe, the return of the British Army of Occupation. The guiding principle of the Army was to save Ireland from that catastrophe. They have saved Ireland from the loss of her newly-won liberties, and to secure which many of them have paid their life's blood. Hardly a day passes but this Capital of the Irish Nation sees one or more of those fallen heroes going to their last resting-place. Since this Dáil opened, and it has been enabled to meet as a result of their sacrifices and valour, not a single word has been spoken in recognition of the great services they have done for the Nation. It is about time that the Army understood that Ireland stands by them. That Army has had a great and formidable task to perform, and it has performed it well and valiantly. It is discharging the functions set to it by the Government of the Irish Nation. Are we sitting here as a National Legislature going to stand behind that Army in its effort to safeguard the liberties won by this Nation, or are we going to let that Army down in the throes of its fight to safeguard freedom. I think if any message goes out from this Dáil to-day as a result of this discussion it should be that Ireland's sovereign assembly recognises the merits and deeds of its soldiers and is not going to let them down. I have spoken longer than I had intended, but there are one or two other points to which I wish to refer. This question is one entirely apart from the merits of the discussions that have ensued in this Dáil and in the preceding Dáil. It is not a question of whether the Treaty is right or the Constitution is right. The issue before this country at the present time is an issue which might confront any Government in any form of Constitution. If the ex-President, De Valera, had won the position he tried to win in the Dáil, he might be confronted with the same position—the assertion of the authority of the nation. I venture to say, if he had been in the position to secure the majority of the Dáil and had formed the Government, and was confronted with obstruction, his efforts to subdue that obstruction would have been just as readily undertaken, if not more so. But I venture to think that in doing so he would have met with infinitely less criticism; and if the gentlemen in the Opposition benches—the representatives of Labour—ever assume the role of custodians of government in this Assembly—if they sit as the authorised spokesmen of the Government—if they are confronted with armed resistance to the authority they wield as representatives of the National Government, I venture to think they would face the responsible task and take adequate measures in defence of their authority. It would be very difficult for them to devise ways and means to deal with that opposition that would not meet with some criticism from some section of their opponents in the Assembly. I remember the late Mr. Griffith asking on a momentous occasion in the last Dáil, is the living nation never to get a chance—must there always be the prophetic future or the dead past? That is the question we are confronted with to-day—is the living nation, this generation, not to get a chance? Are the hands of the Government to be tied when they attempt to give the living nation, this generation, a chance, or is all the odium to be piled upon their heads, and is there no mead of responsibility meted out to those who are attempting to overthrow the authority of the nation? This is not the occasion for small, petty criticism. It is a moment and an issue for every man in this Assembly, who has before him the ideal of a nation that has got rid of its obstructions to progress to see that conditions of social happiness and social salvation prevail. It is an occasion when people who get these conceptions of what may be Ireland's future will, instead of turning to mischievous criticism of the efforts of the Government to obtain these objects, sink all these petty differences. Let them think of giving that nation a chance of living, not the idealism of the idealist gun-bully, but in the direction of staple and ordered government. If they get that idea in their minds, there will be, I think, one consideration in the mind of every Deputy in this Dáil—how to help the National Government to get through its work and give this nation a chance to live as a civilised nation.
Is mian liom a iarraidh ar na Teachtaí gan glaca leis an rún so. Iarraim oraibh an cheist seo do chur oraibh féin-an bhfuil an rún so atá os bhur gcóir chum deire do chur leis an mí-ádh atá ar an dtír anois? 'Sé mo thuairin-se ná fuil. Deirim-se go gcuideóidh sé leis na daoine atá ag troid i gcoinne an Rialtais le gunnaí. Deirim-se libh an chéad rud a dhéanfaidh an rún so, déanfaigh sé nios mo maitheasa do sna daoine atá ag troid in agha na Dála agus in agha an Rialtais ná einní is féidir leis na daoine sin do dhéanamh asta féin.
Ní fíor a rá, mar adubhairt Teachta Ó Maolruaidh, na fuil focal molta amháin ráite sa Dáil seo i dtaobh an Airm atá ag troid. Ní fíor é. Molaimíd go mór iad. Do mholamair go hárd iad nuair a bhíodar ag troid i gcoinne na Sasanach. Ach deirim-se libh nach ceart an chomhacht atá sa rún so do thabhairt dóibh. Táim cinnte na fuil Teachta amháin, ach seisear nó mar sin, sa Dáil seo toilteanach chun na cúirteanna san do chur i láimh na mbuachailli seo. Tá fhois agam go maith go dtroideann siad go calma, ach ní hé sin an fáth gur cheart an chomhacht so do thabhairt dóibh. Ní saighdíuirí coitíanta iad, nó níl oifigigh choitíanta ortha. Níl rialacha acu do tháinig anuas chucha leis na céadta blian.
Is docha go ndéarfaidh an Rialtas arís go bhfuilim ag rá filidheachta ach ní haon filidheachta an rún so. Ba mhaith liom labhairt os árd leis na Teachtaí sa Dáil seo agus ba mhaith liom a iarraigh ortha an rún san do chaitheamh amach. Níl aon cheart ag an nDáil seo dul isteach sa cheist seo. Do chuireas ceist ar an Aire um Chosaint an chéad lá do tháinig me anso—cad é an bhaint atá idir an Arm agus an Rialtas? B'fhearr liom gan a tharrang amach fén spéir sa Dáil seo cad é an dualgas atá ar na saighdiúirí. Ach an é Arm an Rialtais nó Arm na Dála an t-Arm? Bhí ceist anso i dtaobh an Bhun-reacht, i dtaobh focal, coiníollacha; i dtaobh bannaí do bhí ar Theachtai agus ar dhaoine eile. Cad iad na bannaí atá ar na saighdiúirí agus ar an Arm? Iarraim ar na Teachtaí gan an rud so do dhéanamh. Má's maith libh dul isteach sa cheist seo go hiomlán béidir go dtiocfadh as an ndiosbóireacht rud na tiocfaidh as an rún so.
A Chinn Chomhairle, in opposing this motion of the Ministry there are some things I want to add to what my comrade, Deputy Johnson, has been saying. One of the things is this. Neither I nor he, nor anybody supporting him on these benches agrees with, or supports, or would lend any assistance to many, indeed any, of the things that are condemned in this motion. We do not stand for ambushing. We do not stand for murder. We do not stand for arson and looting. We have said so before, and we were prepared last week, when a Deputy brought forward motions to legalise action against all these things. We were prepared to take that legislation. The Ministry gave a promise then that they would take some steps that they would do some such thing. They come down now with this resolution, and they want the Teachtai and the people in the country to believe it is the best method of legalising measures against murderers, or looters, common or uncommon. I question very much the validity of passing a resolution like this by this Dáil, and I challenge the legal gentlemen in this Assembly to justify it from a legal and Constitutional point of view.
Now, in as flippant a way of speaking as ever I heard, the Minister told us not to quibble about legalities. We do not want to quibble about legalities, or anything else. We want to stick to the realities of things, and here we are getting them in their clearest fashion. I have said in Irish that we have a great admiration for most of the men and the officers of the Army, and while I do not want to single him out from his colleagues, at all, as my friend Deputy O'Brien said a couple of weeks ago, there are very few men in this Assembly for whom we have more respect than for the Minister for Defence. I want you to remember that with all their great qualities, with all their good qualities, that the composition of this Army and the origin of this Army are practically much the same as the composition and the origin of the Irregular army. What do I mean by that? I mean that the old Irish Republican Army was trained to fight in a particular guerilla way. The necessities of the time compelled it to do that. A guerilla army requires certain definite qualities that are not the qualities that go to make a good soldier in the ordinary, long established, regular, army. To a large extent those exceptional qualities are required from the regular troops, in this fight, and just because of that and because these young men—and most of them are young men—have not the training, the ability or the experience in decisions, involving big questions of law, constitutionalism and everything else. They are not fit to be the judges in courts that have power of life and death over tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people in this country. I know very many of them myself. I have very great personal admiration for them, both as men and as soldiers, but there are very few of them, in my opinion, who are of the clear, calm and deliberating type that the Minister for Defence is. I do not want to make that merely as a debating point at all, or to flatter the Minister for Defence. There might be some excuse for handing this power into the hands of these young men, if their type was of his type, but it is not. We asked, the first day the Dáil met, for the code of Army regulations. We have not got it yet. The President promised, if we are good boys, and pass this resolution, it will not be put into effect until we have those army regulations. There are many things, the Minister for Defence knows, happening in the ranks of the National troops, that ought not to be happening. To my eternal shame and horror, as an Irish citizen, I looked to-day on the hands of a man, who was two hours a prisoner, and on his arm are branded two letters. He told me these letters were branded by National troops, in the town of Drogheda, No charge was made against him at all. He told me there were two or three other prisoners who were branded there too. I shall never vote that the power of life and death shall be put into the hands of the officers who ought to have been controlling these four or five soldiers who did that act. We are told not to indulge in petty criticism and when we do not go into detailed criticisms and give chapter and verse, incident by incident, the Ministry tell us, we are making generalisations, broad general statements, and that we do not back them up by assertions of fact. I have got a friend, an organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, a young man, not of the faith or the politics of most of the people in this Dáil, but I know him for many a long year to be a truthful, straight and upright man. I know he was taken, beaten and kicked, by a Brigadier-General of the National troops. That Brigadier-General I am ashamed, in this Assembly, to be compelled to say not only treated him as an enemy, but he and an alleged Police Officer went into him and threw his very faith up in his teeth. Another friend of mine, while he was not beaten, was treated in exactly the same way. There was this allegation that because he was not of our faith, therefore he was an enemy. It was made when he was arrested in an hotel at four o'clock in the morning and taken up to Portobello Barracks. Now, I am not willing to trust officers who do this kind of thing with the power of life and death over anybody in Ireland, even over the worst Irregular in Ireland. They are not fit to be trusted with this great and grave power. Instances of that kind can be multiplied, and they must be brought out in a discussion of this kind. The President says, of course, we will have the Army regulations, and we can discuss them here for three or four days. Those of us who have been sitting here know this thing is just on a par with everything else that has been done here and probably with everything else that will be done here. If I have any understanding of the theory of this establishment it is that this Dáil is the Government. The Minister shakes his head. If the Executive is the Government, then we certainly shall know where we stand; but this, I say, is on a par with everything that is done here. The Executive or the Government comes to a certain decision. It may consult with the army chiefs on that decision. It comes here, and all we have got to do is to register our votes in favour of it; and if we do not register our votes in favour of it, we are told—and the people of Ireland are bluffed—that we are trying to kill the Treaty. Everyone who is elected here, if he does not agree with the Ministry or any Minister, is told he is trying to torpedo the Treaty. You have a Deputy standing up here and saying this measure has nothing to do with the Treaty or the Constitution, that it might be necessary under any government, whether there was a Treaty or whether there was no Treaty. That is perfectly true. A situation of this kind might arise; but if it arises, and it has arisen now, let the Ministry put the big stick of the Treaty aside and leave their followers free to vote as they wish, as their consciences and souls dictate to them, and I guarantee that not more than a half-dozen of them will vote honestly for this measure. I support Deputy Johnson's plea that a full review of the military situation shall be given before anything like this is embarked upon. We asked for that review at the beginning. We did not get it; we have not got it yet. We have got to get it before we are done with this. Deputy Milroy says it is the intention of the Ministry that matters. It is not so much the thing that is in the resolution, but the intention of the Ministry, because the Ministry wants to put an end to certain things. Will any officer who gets these powers into his hands give a "twopenny damn" what the intention of the Ministry is so long as he has got the powers. He will not. If the military situation is so bad that this kind of thing must be, why not tell the people that it is that bad. The President has been telling us all along—and a deputy the other day echoed what he said—that this was not a war at all—it was disorder, it was a riot, civil commotion, and so on. At the very beginning we asked the Ministry to tell us whether they were going to deal with these disturbances and disorders as police operations or military operations. But they did not tell us. They pretend this is not a war. Even the Press Censor—before he was practically extinguished—cut out the words "civil war." I suppose he thought he would end the war by cutting out these words. Now here you have a war measure of the first order, and I doubt whether, if you go through all the provisions that ever existed in the whole of the twenty Constitutions you have been looking over, or not looking over, during the past week, there will not be found in any of them any such extraordinary law as this. I want the Ministry to tell us where they are going to deport the prisoners to. They are giving these courts the power of sending these prisoners beyond the area of the jurisdiction of this Government. Where? Surely not to put them into hulks lying off DunLaoghaire? I am not sure but they would be still in the jurisdiction of the Government if they are kept there. Is it to Great Britain they are going to be sent? Or, if Belfast contracts out, are they going to be sent to the Six Counties? Or is it to the United States they are to be sent? Take care some of those into whose hands these powers are given do not send some of these prisoners further than the United States. We do want the restoration of law and order, and I want the Ministry, if they are going to be honest and sincere, to tell us what measures they are going to take to find out who shot Neville and the others. Neville and the others may have been irregulars, and they may have bombed and killed and murdered; but if they did, and if they have to go before their Maker, they have a right to go before their Maker after they got their chance in due process of law. This is not due process of law. All of us have objected to military courts. The best of military courts are not, on the whole, as good as ordinary courts in normal times. But those Teachtai in this Dáil who know anything about British Army courts and regulations know that there were distinctions and differences which were not looked after in this resolution. They know that the British soldier under the Army regulations and the military laws combined has certain rights, and they know that at the worst period of the great European War, when the most stringent regulations that the ingenuity of Great Britain could invent were in operation, that, for a long time at all events, there was a pretty fair run for the civilian prisoner who fell into the hands of these courts. There were minor courts, higher courts, and still higher courts. There was provision made for the defence of the prisoner; the courts were held in the open; it may be that many Irishmen did not escape from the clutches of these courts, but I personally can testify to one case when the evidence failed, the general courtmartial released the prisoner, although he was notoriously guilty of the act of which he was accused. Does anyone believe that the military courts in Ireland, when there is not enough of evidence, that they are going to release a prisoner if they get half a chance —half of a bit of evidence—of convicting him? Of course not, because blood is up in Ireland in the last four months. Deputy Milroy spoke of militarism. We have denounced militarism, and we have told you the root cause of the militarism in Ireland. The military spirit is as deep in one section of the Army as it is in another, and the reason is that both came with prestige out of the guerilla warfare against England, and they have got such swelled heads that the only authority they have is the authority of the gun. The President has said that there is an attempt by the Irregulars to overthrow Parliament altogether. That is so; and by handing over all power of Government and all authority to the Army and to the Army authorities, this Ministry is overthrowing this Parliament. The President says, furthermore, that if the seizure of the Four Courts was a political act, there ought to be some body of opinion behind those who seized the Four Courts. He probably meant there ought to be a greater body of opinion behind them. I am not one of those who support them. I say they had no right there at all—none at all. But there was—and there is—a body of opinion supporting the Irregulars, and I doubt very much whether at this moment there is power and authority in this Dáil to order or approve of executions in Ireland, but if there are executions under this resolution, be sure the ranks of the Irregulars and the body of opinion behind them will swell. In a mean kind of way the President referred to the fact that it only took sixty hours to bombard the Irregulars out of the Four Courts. Quite true. And he said that that was proof that it was not a military operation that they were conducting: but it only took one week to bombard Padraic Pearse, Jem Connolly, and Sean McDermot out of the General Post Office, and the whole position of Ireland to-day is based upon the bombardment of the Post Office during Easter Week. There is not a Teachta here in this Dáil who was imprisoned or interned after Easter Week, who has not said over and over again that if they had only dealt leniently, if they had only kicked us out of the jails after they had arrested us, if they had only slapped us on the hands and sent us in disgrace and ignominy back to our own people, there would not have been the rising tide of national feeling behind the Sinn Fein and Independence movements. The President says there must be liberty, but not these things. There must be no armed forces outside the control of this Parliament. If the Executive can go to the Army authorities and say: "We hand over all authority to you and all responsibility to you," and the Army authorities go back to the Executive and tell the Executive: "In order to discharge these responsibilities you must give us all the power over life and death and everything else into our own hands." The Executive agrees and comes down to the Dáil and says: "Vote for this." What is that but handing over to an armed force, outside the control of this Dáil, all authority? The Ministry is compelling these things to be dragged out into the open light of day, and the Ministry knows as well as I do, that there are many things that neither they, nor a good many members in this Dáil, want dragged out into the open light of day. They know it, but you are compelling us, by this kind of thing, to drag them out. If we are going to be forced to drag those things out, make no mistake about it, we will not fear to drag them out. The Teachtai need not smile at that; the Minister need not smile, because if he is not one of the Ministers who sent out occasional S.O.S.'s he knows where he will find those Ministers. Now, you are dragging out things which you want buried, and which you do not want raised. Go on, and let us have them all out, and then the country and everybody will find where we already stand. I am opposed to this in certain particulars. I am opposed to the whole thing, and I say deliberately that if any Teachtai in this Dáil wants to stand by what the President has reminded them of—the obligation they took upon themselves in the old Volunteer days to secure and maintain the rights and privileges common to all the people of Ireland.
Rights and liberties.
Rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland. I want to ask them was one of the rights and one of the liberties they were to maintain, the liberty and the right to hand over to this armed body all the powers of life and death over everybody in Ireland? It was not. Such a thing was never conceived. Therefore the President has no right to use it in order to whip up a majority for this regulation. I am opposed to this whole regulation. I may be opposed to it even after I see the Army regulations; but I am opposed to it because it is not going to do the thing that the Ministry says it is intended to do. The President tells us they hoped at first they might be able to crush this rebellion without these drastic measures. That, I submit, is a confession of the incompetence and the inability of the Ministry. I may not have the wisdom or the foresight of the Ministers, but from the moment that the two sections of the Army got into grips, long before the 28th June, I, at least, foresaw that that particular armed movement of the seceding Republican troops would not be crushed for a long time, and would not be crushed without very drastic measures indeed. We know the people of the country were fooled after the 28th June, because the propagandists went up and down and all around saying that the thing would be over in two or three weeks. Any man who knew anything about the Army, anybody who knew anything about the situation up and down the country, knew it would take not weeks, not months even, but maybe years to crush the insurrection that has arisen. You are not going to crush it by telling people you are going to hang them or shoot them. The Ministry should have enough experience of Irish history to know that is not going to get them anywhere. So strongly do I feel against these regulations, and against the whole system of coming down and shaking the big stick at the majority in the Dáil and getting this Dáil to be merely a machine for registering decisions that are given elsewhere, that I think the time is coming when, if I have any little influence at all amongst my colleagues and amongst those for whom I speak, I will use that influence for the purpose, if I can carry it, of putting an end to the sham that is being carried on here, and giving you plenty of opportunity, without criticism or opposition or anything else, to pass as many regulations as you may please. That may please you; no doubt it will please you. It may come to it, and if it comes to it, other things will come behind it.
I cannot undertake to follow everything that the previous speaker has said, and that his colleague before him said; but in case I should forget it, I want to correct the misapprehension under which he is labouring with regard to the Army regulations. The regulations which the President said would be laid on the table of the Dáil were the regulations prescribing certain things which might be done, or which might not be done, by people other than soldiers, and for the breach of which regulations they would be liable.
So much the worse—no Army regulations.
Nearly all the talk we have heard in opposition to this resolution has been entirely in the air. The entire speech of the last speaker was in the air. It was all in the way of wilful misunderstanding, and wilful exaggeration and misrepresentation. It was a speech of the sort that we beard very frequently last January and last February. This Government is the servant of the Dáil. Because this Government serves the Dáil, it is the duty of the Government to make proposals to the Dáil, and to make recommendations to the Dáil, and if this Government did not propose a policy to the Dáil, it would be failing in its duty. Every Government must do that; every Government must put up its proposals, and let the House vote on them. It certainly would be the grossest negligence if any matter of importance arose, and we failed to put our proposals before the Dáil.
On a point of order or explanation. May I point out that the phraseology of this leads us all to understand that this has been done. It reads thus:—"That this Dáil being of opinion that the doing by the Army authorities of the several matters aforesaid is a matter of military necessity, doth hereby ratify and approve of the sanction given by the Government"— already given.
I was dealing with the general aspect of the case. Coming to the particular: this thing that the Government has done, it has done as a matter of duty, because it is charged with the administration. It was charged primarily with the keeping and the restoration of order. It submits what has been done to this Dáil for approval, but it has done the thing because it was its duty to do it in the same way as it was the duty of the Government, when it found that the very existence of Parliament was being menaced, to launch the attack against the Irregulars. You were asked what was the relationship between the Army and the Government? The Army is the organ of the Government. It is the instrument of the Government as representing the people. The Army took action against the Irregulars when the Government decided that action should be taken. No important departure in Army policy is taken without the consent and the order of the Government. The Army is the agent of the Government, and it is as the agent of the Government that it is being invested with power to carry out the duty which the Government has entrusted to it. There is no suggestion that all power and authority should be handed over to the Army.
That is one of the wilful misrepresentations that are so frequently made. The Army is given power to do a certain work. It is ordered, directed, to do a certain work. It is given certain powers which it considers necessary, and which the Government considers necessary, for doing that work. It is not this resolution or the sanction of the Government which it covers that gives the power of life and death to the Army. The power of life and death was given to the Army when it was directed to proceed against the Irregulars. It is not in virtue of those regulations that life will be taken.
Read No. 4.
Life is being taken by the Army every day in the week. Those officers who will preside over the Courts are directing the taking of life, are engaged in the taking of life, for the purpose of asserting the authority of this Parliament and this Government. A suggestion was made that once it was armed with these powers, the Army would proceed to make a holocaust of the civilian population. That is a ridiculous suggestion, and the men who made the suggestion knew it was ridiculous. If there is anything that has been noticeable about the attitude of the Army since the beginning of the year it has been the desire of the Army, not only the High Command of the Army, but of the local officers and of the men to spare life as much as possible. It was that desire to spare life and to avoid the shedding of blood that caused the delay in operations as long as it was. It may be that their delay will bring and has brought additional bloodshed, but nobody will regret that delay because the whole purpose of it was to do everything to avoid settling this matter by killing. Since then the Army has consistently—the High Command of the Army and every Unit—shown a desire to avoid bloodshed. If there had been any blood lust in the Army we would not have had the Army accepting the surrender of men who treacherously slew soldiers with dumdum bullets, for the use of which in normal times, under the rules of civilised warfare death would have been the penalty. There have been hundreds of cases of that. Every sort of provocation has been borne by the Army without shooting. That comes not from very definite instructions, because definite instructions could effect nothing if there was a blood-lust in the Army, but from the desire that is all through the Army to do this thing that had to be done with the minimum amount of bloodshed. Just as the Army had carried out the military operations which involved killing with the minimum amount of killing and with every desire to avoid bloodshed, so we know that the Army will carry out these regulations with every desire to save life, to avoid bloodshed, to use the powers of killing as sparingly as possible. It would mean an entire change in the whole attitude and feeling that has been in the Army, not only at the beginning but right up to the present if anything else were to be the result of the passing of these resolutions. The fact that the Army consists so largely of recruits, of new men, of men of not very long experience hardly affects the matter when that is the spirit. Perhaps the only result of that will be that they will not have the hardness, the rigidity, the callousness that you will find in professional officers of long standing, and soldiers who had a long and hardening experience. And the suggestion that this thing will cause dark deeds to be done is also a ludicrous suggestion.
If there were anything that would cause dark deeds to be done it would be the failure on the part of the Government to provide any effective means of meting out punishment to those who engage in dastardly attacks and dastardly murders—most of the killings are murders—of the soldiers of the National Army, and that is a matter which will be apparent to anyone. We were asked if we were going to send those whom we might imprison, outside the area under our jurisdiction. We are in negotiation for the lease of an island with a suitable climate at a suitable distance to which those men may be sent.
Have some respect for the nation, if you have none for yourselves.
It is necessary to put those men somewhere where it will be apparent to them that they are not going to get out any day they choose, and where it will be apparent that they are not looked upon as people who have done no wrong, and were to be put in in comparative comfort for a week or two, or a month or two, and might get out before there was an end to the present situation and before their power of doing damage to the country was at an end. It is easy to make a speech in the high tone about this matter. But it would be equally easy, and much easier, to make a speech in a high tone about the things that the Irregulars have done and are doing and the things that their leaders have stood for. All matters like this must be viewed in their relation to the facts of the case and to the situation which exists. I certainly have found no body of opinion which thinks that the Government has taken more stringent action than was required. And I am confident that what Deputy Shannon said about this Dáil might almost be reversed when he said that if the Members of this Dáil acted according to their hearts and consciences there would only be half a dozen to vote for this resolution. I think that, on the contrary, if the Members voted according to their hearts and consciences, if they voted by ballot, there would probably be not more than half a dozen to vote against this resolution.
Let us have a ballot, then.
Ballot. Everyone on our side of the Dáil is free to vote as he wishes.
I did not intend to join in this debate, and I would not do so except for certain statements that were made about an alleged outrage supposed to have been perpetrated in Drogheda. Now, I understand that the senior Deputy for Louth, Deputy O'Shannon, has made those statements. I regret I was not present when he made them, and I wish to make the position as clear as I possibly can. To begin with, I come from Drogheda, and I spend a great deal of my time there. I am there from a quarter to eleven every night to a quarter to one on the succeeding day, even when the Dáil is in session. And I keep in very close touch with all the activities in my area. Some days ago a friend of mine placed the following sheet in my hand. It is headed "Freedom: 24th September, 7th year of the Republic. Price 2d." And here is what the sketch says: "Branded. I have seen the arm of James O'Reilly, an escaped prisoner, arrested in the street of Drogheda by Free State forces. On his arm is a `P' two inches long, branded so deeply that when cicatrisation is complete I fear some of the muscles of the forearm may become involved. There is another `P' deeply burned on the underside of the arm. James O'Reilly states that on the 10th September an officer and several men entered the room where he and three other prisoners were confined. The officer gave some order which O'Reilly could not hear, and withdrew. One of the Free State soldiers brought in two branding irons, apparently made of copper, with wooden handles. Two soldiers seized each of the prisoners in turn, and bared and extended the victim's arm, and the brand was applied—the letter `P' (prisoner) to the three I.R.A. men and the letter `R' (release) to a tramp, who was afterwards allowed to go. The uniformed torturers were practised hands at the work, and had needles ready to pierce the blisters which rose up round the edges of the burned flesh. The agony was intense; one man fainted. How many prisoners are already branded in this way? Is this the reason for the secrecy maintained? the refusal of all visits? the hoardings erected round the gaols? the shooting of even women and children who approach too near? How long will the Irish people allow Mulcahy, O'Higgins and Cosgrave to continue bringing shame on the name of Ireland?" On the top of this is a drawing of a man's arm with `P' branded on it, and on the bottom the iron for branding the arm. Now, when this was placed in my hands I confess I was absolutely shocked. But, knowing the character of the officers and the men of the National Forces stationed in Drogheda, I felt absolutely certain that this was the usual diabolical propaganda which was being circulated through the country. Now, no man, I am sure, knows better the character, the efficiency and the humanity of the O/C of the 9th Brigade than Deputy Cathal O'Shannon does. I am sure he will agree with me that he is a man of whom the Army may be proud. When I got this in my hand I asked the Brigade Adjutant to make the most minute inquiries and see if anything at all happened which would give rise to this report. Before I came away this morning I saw him, and he told me he made inquiries at every post in the town. He looked up all the files connected with the prisoners. At no time did the National Forces in Drogheda arrest a man named James O'Reilly; no man bearing the name of James O'Reilly, he informs me, has ever been arrested by the National Forces in Drogheda. Undoubtedly men named O'Reilly have been arrested from time to time, but James O'Reilly has never figured in the list of prisoners. In addition to that he vouches that no such outrage was ever perpetrated. He could find no trace of it in any of the reports in Drogheda, and I am perfectly satisfied that his statements are correct. I am perfectly satisfied that this is a dose of the diabolical propaganda which is being circulated through the country, and which I hope the Government will use the powers which the Dáil will confer on them to deal with. Now, there is another point worth noting about this matter. The publication in which this article appears is called "Freedom." In that this alleged outrage is given as a fact. That issue is dated for the 24th September. It is given as a fact—something that there is absolutely no question about—on September 24th. Yet I find in a sheet placed in my hands by a colleague. It is called "Poblacht na hEireann," and dated 27th September, three days later, and it says: "We have received a detailed statement describing the branding with hot irons of four prisoners by F.S. officers in Drogheda. One of those branded is Vol. James O'Reilly, who was arrested in that town and had the letter `P' burned into his arm on September 10th. We shall give further details of this when all the facts are confirmed." That is worthy of note. Now, I simply wish to state this, that if this had happened, nobody would be quicker than I would to come here and demand proper punishment for the perpetrators of such an outrage. Any soldier, any officer of the National Army who would perpetrate such an outrage, would deserve very exceptional punishment indeed. And certainly I would be the first to come here and demand it. And if Deputy O'Shannon, or any other Deputy, or anybody competent to go and inquire into the matter, satisfies me that this has happened, I promise the House and Dáil that, personally, I will leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to justice.
On a point of personal explanation I think I am entitled to say something. I quite agree that Deputy Murphy, who has spoken, would do all that he has said. I also quite agree that those of the officers in Drogheda, whom I personally know, would not tolerate or allow anything of this kind. I know some of them personally, and I must say for them I don't believe they would allow it to be done. But on the statement that has been made I have this much to say. The statement was made to me on Saturday about this case. I refused to believe it. I pointblank refused to believe it or have anything to do with it, because I said I could not credit it. And from my personal knowledge of some of the officers in Drogheda I couldn't believe it. And, to convince me, the man concerned himself turned up to me about ten to two to-day and showed me his arm. Now, it may be that he, or some of his companions, have branded him. But his statement to me is the one I have told the Dáil. I said that he made that statement to me. Two others of my colleagues saw his arm to-day, and I hold in my hand a photograph. It is not a faked photograph. I have seen the arm, and I intend, after this week's proceedings in the Dáil to go down to Drogheda and see some of the officers in Drogheda, whom I know well, and make inquiries into it. And I would suggest, if I may, the appointment of a Committee, if the Deputy wishes, and I will try to produce the man. Two of my colleagues saw the man to-day, and if the Dáil will put a Committee to inquire into it, I will be glad to help the Committee all I can. I could not credit it until I saw it with my own eyes.
I have also seen the man with my own eyes.
If it is propaganda, the Dáil will agree that if it is disproved, the reaction will do much more harm to these people than to the Government.
And when it is disproved, this man with the branded arm should receive the punishment which he deserves.
I quite agree.
In the first place we have raised again, and I do not know why, as we have heard it before in Gaedhilge agus beagán de'n Béarla tríd, the question what is the status of the army and what is its connection with the Government, and I had hoped that I made that definitely clear when speaking here some days ago. I hoped it was clear that the army was the army of the Government, set up by the Government and financed by the Government; there at the will of the Government, and there to be cleared away if the Government reached such a time when it could clear it away or could, say, adopt a smaller army in its place, or adopt any other machinery. The army is to the Government what the army of any other established country is to the Government of that country. And our position at the moment is that the army was asked on a certain date to take military action against forces working in this country for the downfall of the Government, and for what would definitely be the destruction of this country. The army took that action. And as far as that particular danger that was uppermost in our minds at that time was concerned—that is the danger that the Treaty would be destroyed and that the country would lose the freedom that it had achieved as a result of those exertions, and that it had established on the terms of the Treaty—the fear that was uppermost in our minds was that the Treaty would be destroyed and its liberties lost. As far as that fear is concerned the army has by the exertions that it has made since it was called upon to act, cleared the country of that fear. The forces that were thrown against the Government then, have been deprived of what you would call military effectiveness. And the people of the country and this Parliament and Government here by using common sense, using their ordinary wits, making use of the energies that they have, opening their eyes and seeing what is going on around them, can clear the country of any other dangers that lie before those forces. I have been through a small portion of the country lying from here to Limerick and up to Boyle and back to Dublin, and as far as the main centre of the country is concerned there is no work in it that an Army as such should be called upon to do. And I believe that in that portion of the country lying east, say, of that triangle there is not any work that the ordinary Army of a country should be called upon to do. But the work that is there, in dealing either with disorders or in dealing with irregularities in that portion of the country, is being done by the Army at the present moment, because there is no other machinery to tackle it. We are asking for certain powers to be given us formally. We have asked the Government, and they have given them to us, what any ordinary Army in the field dealing with conditions in which there is no civil administrative powers, the very necessity of their condition makes necessary for them to have. We are asking for these powers that certain steps may be taken against people who commit murder and burn down property, people who are aiming at the life of the country. We are asking for powers to deal with these things, as there is no civil machinery to deal with them. The Army is simply standing in the gap, as it stood in many a gap on many different occasions before, and we are going to stand in the gap, and dealing by our Army machinery against those who commit these crimes against the safety of the country, until such time as this Government is in a position to set up a different type of machinery to deal with it. The position generally in the country is that, as far as the military problem is concerned, the military problem is confined to a limited number of some of the out-of-the-way districts. The big problem that lies before the country, and that lies before the Army at the moment, is to deal with the opening up of these arteries in the country that it is so necessary to open up if the country is not to be choked. All over the south of the country we have railway communications running from here to Waterford, from here to Mallow, and in a day or two to Limerick. But the country lying lateral between these points is practically without transport. There are no railways running there, because those forces that have thrown themselves loose on the country have smashed up the railway. Practically the whole South of Ireland is without means of transport and communication necessary to business. We did not send out the Army on an offensive campaign. We sent out the Army on a defensive campaign, and at no step of the journey that the Army took around the country did they act in what you would call an offensive spirit. They went out to protect our towns in the country from the invasion of looting bands; they went out to protect our railways and our roads from being smashed up by people who simply sought to bring disorder and destruction on the country in order that they might bring the English back, and we are still confining ourselves to that work of protection, and to that work of semi-construction. We are setting ourselves definitely with resources—and the resources we have are small resources—to keep going the life of the country. We set ourselves now definitely to opening up the whole railway system of the south. These are the military operations that the Army is engaged on, and that is the militarism that is in the minds of the Army, and we do point out that in other parts of the country, you have bands, small bands, that the Army, as such, cannot very definitely deal with, rushing around the country, concentrating here and concentrating there, taking life and destroying property, and destroying the economic system of the country, for the idea more of destruction than the doing of these things. A week or so ago I visited the area in the Roscrea-Limerick line to see what could be done to effectively reopen up the services there, and passing by on a Sunday evening one of our posts that we had sent out for the guarding of that railway, I called in. I found that 17 of them when going to Mass that morning had been caught in a small mountain country there, and absolutely mown down—nine of them had been wounded. Afterwards, I visited three of them lying dead in Nenagh. I saw these men in that little post there. What will any Deputy putting himself in the position, say, of the Commander-in-Chief, say to himself, if he stands before these men? What is he going to say is to be done? Is he going to say, our troops are to be sent to towns around the country, to be fixed up in little posts, and they must fight whatever little group that comes upon them in any way they can fight them, or are they going to adopt a more intelligent way? We have put on the Army the responsibility of going around and protecting our country, the services and lives of our countrymen, and we have again and again told them that in order to do that, you must take life if necessary. In order to do that life must be taken if necessary, and it is the responsibility of this Government to say that it must be taken. Are we going to stand before these men and say life must only be taken by you, going out and exposing your own lives? Or are we going to say, you will only be asked to do and to bear the responsibility of that particular type of killing which may be necessary to round up these people who are destroying the country. The Government will remove from you the responsibility of doing any of that additional killing, or any of that additional work necessary to do in order to preserve the life of the country, and it will remove that from you at the earliest possible time. Put yourself before these men, standing there in those barracks, and say that you have a prisoner, the man who was in charge of that operation. And are you going to explain to these men that you are going to take him and send him to Gormanstown, and leave him there until all this is over; and are you going to leave the second in command there feeling that he can go on with the same work ambushing these men as they go to Mass on Sunday, and that he can, if he falls into their hands, go to Gormanstown; and when he is in Gormanstown, that the third in command can do the same, and have another ambush and killing and be sent to Gormanstown. It is a necessity that these people in the country who are committing murder, who are committing arson, looting, and destroying the life of this country, should know that they shall forfeit their lives if they continue to do that work, and the Government must set up machinery for taking that forfeiture. The Army is acting as that portion of the machinery, as far as going and engaging these forces where they go freely over the country and capturing them; and it is prepared to do the work of executing these people whom it is necessary to execute until such time as the Government sets up that machinery it ought to have, and in the circumstances under which it has grown it has not yet had. The Army will step into the gap until this Government is on its feet, and do any type of work that it is necessary to do for this Government to keep it on its feet; and it is the servant of the Government.
The point has been raised that we cannot do this because we have not years of tradition in our blood as to how to do it, and because young men in our Army are not men that have years of discipline behind them. Unfortunately we have to deal with the situation that exists. We have to deal with it as the men are, to get the young men in the country to deal it. You must not drop your hands by your side and say that you must leave your work undone or that you must leave another person to take advantage of you because you have not a tradition in your blood, or have not got that great machinery that a well-established country would have. Some of the deputies speaking here asked for a report on the whole military situation. Well, the whole military situation is that the work of the Army to a very great extent, as far as the Army work proper is concerned, has been done. We are applying ourselves now to making the life of the country normal. The life of the country over a great portion, with the exception of snipers or the men who throw bombs, is normal. We are able to deal with that portion of the country where circumstances are not yet normal. But as well as understanding the military situation, it is absolutely necessary to understand the political situation, and to understand the forces that are at work in the country. We have explained here the circumstances which have led up to the present position. We have the country looking to this Government here on one side and a section of the people in the country looking to the political party in opposition to the Government on the other side, a party headed by leaders who have given great services to the country in times of stress, and the people have not yet had their confidence broken in these leaders. The dangers that we are running economically are not as great as the dangers that we are running politically. When we find the responsible Deputies standing up in this Dáil and saying that if the Government passes this or that or the other type of legislation that they do not agree with, that, in effect at any rate, that they will leave the Dáil, and that if they leave the Dáil God knows what will come after.
With reference to that, what I said is that this Dáil is merely a machine for registering the decision of the Executive, and that it is not a deliberate assembly at all.
As I was saying, we have people in the country who are looking to those leaders of yesterday, who are in opposition to the Government, for guidance and looking to them for some sign of sanity some time or other. We should be very clear that we are not to expect it. We have a political side and a military side in what I will call this Irregular opposition. In the political side there is a certain responsibility, and it is looked on with a certain hope, but they are not worthy of it. We have here some notes. The first is from Liam Lynch, who was in charge of the Irregular forces. He is writing to the political leader, and he tells him that he would be only too pleased to have his views at any time on the general situation, and that matters arising out of it would have his earnest consideration. We have the political leader saying: "This is a good thing, and won't do," and he goes on: "The position of the political party must be straightened out. If it is the policy of the party to leave it all to the army, well then the obvious thing for members of the party to do is to resign their positions as public representatives. The present position is that we have all the public responsibility, and no voice and no authority." Then the political leader who writes like that on 12th September writes on the 13th that the position as he sees it is that the Republican Party must take control and act as legitimate Dáil, and that the Army Executive must take control and assume responsibility, and that a Joint Committee should be formed to decide policy for both. In dealing with it he says: "Even if we had the allegiance we have not the military strength to make our will effective, and we cannot, as in the time of the War with the British, point to authority derived from the vote of the majority of the people. We will be turned down definitely by the electorate in a few months' time in any case." He chooses as the way out that the Army Executive take control and assume responsibility. He says he does so because it is most in accord with fact, and that the Army Executive must publicly accept responsibility; and there must be no doubt in the minds of anybody on the matter. The pretence that they were inciting the Army should be ended by a declaration from the Army itself that that was not so. The natural corollary to this was, he added, that they as a political party should cease to operate in any public way—resign, in fact. Then he continues: "This is the course I have long been tempted to take myself; and were it not that my action might prejudice the cause of the Republic, I would have taken it long since. Our position as public representatives is impossible. As far as Number 4 is concerned—that a Joint Committee be formed to decide the policy for both—I fear this is impracticable. The political party has to justify itself in a way that is not expected from the Army. If the Army wishes to elect some of the personnel of the Party for its Executive well and good; but I am afraid the task of riding two such horses as the Party and the Army will be too much for any Executive." That was on the 13th September. Then on the 14th September a meeting was held at which were present Count Plunkett, Miss McSwiney, Tomas O'Donoghue, Cathal O Murchadha, Mrs. Clarke, Derrig, Countess Markievicz, J. O'Mahony, Frank Fahy, Dr. Jim Ryan, Brian O'Higgins, and they agreed that the military would take over control and that they as a party—that is, a political party—would co-operate. The Army position was stated: "Intend putting policy before us and taking over control, we to work with them." Now here you have the position in which people are looking, some of them with the affection that comes with the remembrance of the fact that they were leaders in the time of their great stress in the country. You have to look to the leaders for hope, for some kind of sanity; and you have the leaders saying that they have absolutely no right to talk as public representatives. You have them telling the Army that they can get on, as they will not be expected to justify themselves in the eyes of the people in the same way as an honest political person would. So that from the point of view of the political side and from the point of view of dealing in any kind of way with these people who are opposed to the Government at the present moment, I say you cannot have it. We demonstrated it to ourselves with broken hearts during the Army negotiations, and we did feel even ourselves that some kind of hope would be held out that the political leaders would throw up the sponge some day. Well, we have very definitely to get rid of that hope and we have come to realise that these words and phrases which characterise the position between the Army and the invading enemy were so clear in this country that we shall not allow these words and phrases to influence us, when this group of people are fighting against the will of the country without any mandate, and threatening the whole life of the country. We shall have to deal with the situation which is around us as if there was no past. Charged with the organisation of the country and the setting up of its administration we have a certain group of people, who, by murder and burnings and every type of destruction, are trying to ruin our people. We certainly shall have to deal with these people when they have taken up that attitude. If there are people who are soft-headed about it, and they include public representatives, too—we cannot blame them very much because we have been very slow in realising the facts ourselves—some of us at any rate. That state of things throws all the greater responsibility upon some of us who do realise the state of affairs to be very clear and straightforward with regard to the action we shall take and see that the actions we take are right and shall be performed to the utmost degree of firmness. Where we say that sentences of imprisonment and death must pass upon those who are killing the country we are simply stating what the ordinary civil machinery of the country would do if it were there. We are not asking that they should be done in a spirit of revenge. These punishments were not provided for that, but there were certain people doing certain acts and they had to be punished for them. These proposals are framed as a preventive against the destruction going on in the country. You have been told that the powers you are asked to sanction as between life and death will not be put into the hands of anybody but one of our General Officers Commanding in a particular district, and the putting of these powers into the hands of such a General Officer will give him greater authority over his men, and when he stands before a group of them who have three of their comrades dead by the hands of Irregulars he will not stand with his finger in his mouth and say, "Well, you will have to be more careful when you are going to Mass next Sunday." The Army just now, like any other branch of the Government here, is treated as a thing that people have no faith in. Men coming here accept public responsibility, and they should have faith in the Government and in themselves, for if they do not they are putting a great responsibility upon the Government machinery. Are we going to send out the Army and say "We have faith in you" or say "We have no faith in you"? You must have faith in the Army for the Army has done things certainly that will warrant the Government in having faith in its judgment, faith in its courage and faith in its ability to realise the positions both of the Civil and Military sides. We have had difficulty in the Army from a disciplinary point of view, but you must remember that the Army is no better than the people it comes from. You know the extent to which the Irish people is a disciplined nation at the moment. The biggest danger we run is national indiscipline, whether it arises in the Parliament or the Ministry or the Army or the People. You have the indifference of people in many parts of the country to what is going on. A train can be derailed; it can be looted of its goods, and the goods can be brought around and left with a farmer, and the farmer takes the goods and uses them, feeling that the Irregulars will be around some day and he will have something for it and something to feed them with. Take another case—say there is a tree felled on the public road to obstruct it. There is so little public spirit evinced at present that it will be left there and if a fellow with an ass and cart comes along he will only just cut sufficient of the tree to enable his ass and cart to pass, and then, if a man in a motor car comes along he will do likewise and remove only sufficient to get his motor past. There is very little outlook. Everybody minds his own business and many people take their little bit when it comes their way. You will see from that that generally speaking the whole moral tone of the country is very bad, and I say the Army is no better than the country. But there is not in the Army anything like the indiscipline of Irregulars which ends in brigandage. In asking for legislation like this and for powers like this, we ask it in order to prevent men from taking upon themselves authority to execute people in an unauthorised way, and the dangers that without this legislation such executions will take place is great. They have happened in one or two instances and they would happen in thousands of instances if the men of the Army had not the control over themselves which the vast majority of the Army has. You get particulars of a case of this sort between Swinford and Ballina, when a tough fight between eight or nine of our men with thirty Irregulars resulted in our capturing five of the latter. As these prisoners were being brought along they saw one of our men dead in a sitting posture on the roadside and when they saw the body they sniggered and laughed, showing an almost fiendish delight at the fact that one of our men was killed. It was then with the greatest difficulty that the officer of our party prevented the five of these being killed. Then you have the case in Macroom recently where eight men were blown up with a bomb, and during the course of this action some of the companions of these men who lost their lives refused to take the surrender of a man who offered himself as prisoner, and killed him. We want to save our men from being in the position of being driven to that, and never departing from the attitude of chivalry and gallantry they have always shown. If the Government take the responsibility of saying, we shall not suffer to live in the country men who are a danger to the whole life of the country, who are taking lives and destroying property—we shall not allow people to get clear with their lives who do that. We shall set up the proper legal machinery for the doing of it and in the meantime impose a hard duty on the Army of seeing that that is done until such time as civil machinery can be set up. Then our men will have some chance, even among the very difficult and dangerous circumstances under which they work, of being chivalrous soldiers, who will continue to show, to those who are fighting in such an ugly fashion against them, and against the country, the chivalry and kindness and the manly disposition they have shown to them invariably, in the past few months.
A Chinn Chomhairle, as is usually the case, the Minister for Defence has put before this Dáil certain essential facts which it is very necessary that we should have had brought before us in the quiet, measured, way that he has arrayed them before our attention. It would be better, I think, and I suggest to the Ministry, if more Members of the Ministry had confined themselves just to that statement of facts, that are within the knowledge of the Ministry, instead of dealing with the personalities of those who are against the will of this people that do not very materially affect the issue. We are dealing, at the present moment, in Ireland, it is acknowledged, with a state of affairs so severe, so unusual, that unless it is dealt with, necessarily, by some Draconian method, the health of this country might be permanently destroyed, the sanity of this country might be permanently destroyed, and the welfare of this country undoubtedly will be permanently destroyed. It is recognised, I think, by every Member in this Dáil, and I imagine from the Labour Benches recognition would be equally given, that there is a state of affairs present in Ireland to-day, if not handled in some vigorous way, by some very drastic method, we will have brought into our social system, what is at the present moment, let us hope, only a passing evil, but might eventually become a permanent habit of the national character. It is to prevent such evil that this task is imposed upon us, of restoring not merely order, but a different point of view altogether in the Nation at large. With that I suggested, and I repeat, I think every Deputy in this Dáil would be in agreement, It also follows, as a necessity, it seems to me, that the circumstances of the country being what they are, and as they are, there being no civil machinery with which this state of affairs can be handled, there being no Courts, there being no ordinary Judges, there being no ordinary Police, owing to the downfall of the system, due to which downfall this Assembly is sitting here,— it has always been so in every country— the Army must be put to a task that is not usually put in charge of an army. The Minister for Defence read a letter from De Valera in this House which I think we would all recognise as very characteristic of that side, in any case. It is the case that the leaders on the political side have handed over authority to the military side. I think all would agree that that is an example that we would be wise not to follow. Then in that case, what is to be done in the present situation where we have no civil police competent to take in hand the task of restoring order, circumstances being as they are, and no Courts? I believe it is inevitable, and I believe it would be inevitable, that some method of the kind suggested in this Resolution, would be adopted. But I am not in agreement that the best method has been chosen by what I can only describe as a blank cheque. I wish to make my position in this perfectly clear. The Minister for Local Government said that many people in this country believe that a great deal of more stringent action should have been taken in the past than had been taken. I go further, I say a great deal more stringent action might be taken at the present moment than is being taken. But the only thing I urge upon the attention of the President, not in any spirit of hostile criticism—it is not an occasion that merits hostile criticism— not in any spirit other than one of helpfulness and friendliness, such as the occasion merits and demands, is not to come here and ask us to pass a Resolution which permits the penalty of death to be imposed on certain persons, unknown, in respect of unspecified offences, but to come down here and specify the offences for which that sentence will be given and perhaps it might prove that some of us who are a little doubtful of the Resolution, as it reads, and as it stands, may be prepared to go a great deal further than perhaps the Ministry itself would be prepared to go.
We have the case referred to by the Minister for Defence. We know such cases have occurred where men have been ambushed, and when a salvo or two have been fired those who conducted the ambush have at once surrendered. If the Minister for Defence were to come here and ask the authority of this Dáil that in a case of ambush no quarter will be given, I say here, having thought this thing over, and recognising exactly what I say, I would be with any such decision. If the Ministry were to come here definitely and to state in respect of one other offence that on and after a certain day any person found in possession of arms, when proved guilty of that offence before a competent court be found guilty of a capital offence I say, recognising exactly the words I use, I would be with the Ministry in that case and I go further still. I think it is also time that certain persons who have helped, and who are known as having helped, the forces of treason in this country, and who are known to be persons of a considerable amount, or of an indefinite amount, or a certain amount of property, I would be quite prepared to go back and not merely attaint their persons to prisons, but attaint their property.
I mention these three kinds of instances to show the President that in venturing to criticise this resolution in some small features, and in some main features of it too, that it is not out of any hostility. It is because I and a large number of persons who still regard this resolution with hesitancy, and with the gravest possible doubt, if we had the definite offences before us with specified instances, and an invitation given to this Dáil, which is the Goverment of this country, to attach to these definite offences the death penalty, if required, or such other penalty as might be judged necessary, would be prepared to support the Ministry in an event of that kind. I shall urge that we be not asked, as in one part of this resolution here we are asked, to commit to military courts or committees the charge of the punishment of death in respect of offences which we do not know, and in respect of persons whom we do not know. Let us, if we are asked to give this grave sentence, and to give it with the full acknowledgment of its gravity, for offences that we do know, where we do know what we are being committed to, but do not put before us the grave alternative of having to commit the penalty of death in respect of some offence that has not yet been defined. There are certain amendments that I believe would help to regularise all this. Some of them may appear to deal with matters of words; but they deal with a great deal more than matters of words—matters that are fundamental to the whole of this resolution that I bring before the attention of the Ministry and of the President, and if he requires my assurance, I give that assurance that they are brought forward in a desire to help. I trust he will not require that, because under circumstances in the past, he knows exactly what my views are with regard to the social disorder with which we are faced, and he knows what my views are in respect to the necessity of the severest action, if we are going to recover national sanity and steadiness upon which the whole future of this country and this Nation depends. The first amendment I am suggesting is—(1) "Wherever the word `Government' appears, to substitute the word `Ministry."' Deputy O'Shannon said here earlier to-day that the whole Dáil was the Government, and the Minister for Local Government contradicted him. I am going to quote here a very high authority in favour of the amendment I am suggesting.
AN LEAS CEANN COMHAIRLE:
Are you proposing Amendment No. 1?
Could I not deal with them all together? It would simplify and shorten the thing, I believe. The Minister for Local Government contradicted the suggestion that the whole Dáil was the Government. Well, I am going to quote the very high authority of the President. The President stated on the 25th of September, in this House: "The Assembly of the Dáil is unquestionably the Government. The Executive Council carries out the orders and wishes of the general body of the Dáil."
On a point of procedure, the Ministry would be glad to have a vote one way or the other on the spirit of this resolution, and we could go into Committee afterwards to discuss points of detail. We are subject to your ruling on the matter. If amendments are brought up here, then you will really have cross-voting, and confusion will ensue.
That suggestion would rather mean an invitation for further amendments. After all, we got notice only last night of this motion, and the idea of amendments being offered was rather distant from our minds, I think. If the motion is to be moved, and then amendments are to be discussed, I think we ought to require that there should be further discussion of these amendments, and that more time should be given so that notice could be served.
On a point of order, I would like to point out that I am not moving these amendments now. I am just running through them seriatim with a view to defining my position with regard to the resolution. At a subsequent stage I would be willing to move them all together, or withdraw them for Committee.
AN LEAS CEANN COMHAIRLE:
Better settle this question definitely. I understood that at 7 o'clock we were to take up the other questions on the Agenda.
No, unless this were finished.
AN LEAS CEANN COMHAIRLE:
If it is intended to propose amendments to this motion, what time would you suggest the Dáil would go into Committee on the other business?
I suggest that you should wait until we have a full attendance; I do not think we have a Dáil at the moment.
I take it the discussion must go on until some motion is made with regard to the taking of the Vote.
I have not moved an amendment, you see. I am only dealing with this not in the form of an amendment, but rather in the form of sentences that subsequently may become amendments, and the first sentence deals with the suggestion that the word "Ministry" should appear wherever the word "Government" appears. The next change is, I think, more material still, and that is that, wherever the words "Army Authorities" appear we should substitute the words "Minister for Defence." There is a very bad precedent for the words "Army Authorities." Not only is it in itself not easy to be defined, and very questionable in its use in such a document as this, but we do remember, not very long ago, there was a certain person, described in certain documents which were plastered about the streets of this city, who was known as the Competent Military Authority. I think it would be well to avoid that. But the real reason that I think the words "Minister for Defence" should be substituted for the words "Army Authorities" is this: the Minister for Defence is a Minister of this Dáil, and is answerable to this Dáil. The Army Authorities are not answerable to this Dáil, but to the Minister for Defence. Therefore the person to whom any powers of this Dáil can be entrusted can only be some Minister of the Dáil, who can appear here and answer for the trust that has been put in his charge. My alteration later on, in the third sentence, is of the same kind. The sentence as it stands in the resolution is that "every such Military Court or Committee shall include as a member thereof at least one person nominated by the Minister for Defence and certified by the Law Officer to be a person of legal knowledge and experience." Now, some of us do not know who the Law Officer is. We have the greatest respect for him, but he is not responsible to this Dáil and his certificate cannot be recognised by this Dáil. I therefore suggest that, in the third paragraph, at the end of Sub-section (a) it should read “one person of legal knowledge and experience appointed by the Minister for Defence,” he in all cases being made the responsible person for carrying out the charges and trusts committed in any resolution passed by this Dáil. The fourth sentence, which would become the fourth resolution if it were to be moved in that form, is more material, and is, perhaps, the only part of this sentence that would arouse a certain amount of opposition on the part of the Government. It is a very considerable simplification. It only commits to the military courts the power of detention. In other words, that the power of the punishment of death, or of imprisonment, or fines, is taken away from that sentence, not because I think it ought not to be exercised, but because I think it ought not to be exercised unless the agreements in respect of which it should be exercised have first been specified and drawn to the attention of this Dáil, and that these Committees or these Courts, or any other Courts or Committees have been charged that certain penalties shall be attached to certain crimes when these crimes have been proved, and I earnestly suggest to the Minister for Defence he should not ask this Dáil, or should not urge this Dáil, that into his charge should be committed an undefined possibility, and the death penalty or indefinite imprison-being charged for crimes that are not specified. The last sentence deals with a matter, whether it is a period of fourteen days or one month is immaterial to me, but I think it is a right procedure, and the procedure that in any other place would be adopted, as it is proposed to be adopted here. The resolution having already read that the Ministry gave that sanction, and having gone on to say—“Now, this Dáil being of opinion that the doing by the Minister for Defence of the several matters aforesaid is a matter of military necessity doth hereby ratify and approve of the sanction given by the Government and of the doing by the Minister for Defence of all or any of the acts and matters aforesaid,” proceeds as set out on the paper, because unless such a sentence were to appear, the whole purpose of the resolution would have failed. Some carrying of the approval into the future is clearly required. How far into the future, at once becomes the question, and I have suggested it in this form:—
"And it confirms such sanction for a further period of fourteen days from the date of the passing of this resolution, subject to the renewal of such sanction for further period of time, in no one case to exceed fourteen days, as and when the Minister for Defence shall show cause on a report to the Dáil on the state of the country under these powers hereby granted to him."
These sentences—whatever you may adopt with regard to the question of procedure—I would be prepared to move as amendments. As I say, and as I have said before, recognising the difficult circumstances with which this country is faced, knowing that exceptional times require exceptional remedies, and that we cannot be expected to deal with the same calm and deliberate procedure, however much we might have liked it, however much our inclinations ran in that direction, we have to recognise the fact to-day that over large parts of this country there is no machinery to deal with what is not patriotism, but what is crime. Someone said to me the other day of those persons of whose actions we were complaining, that it was always necessary to remember that they were imbued with a love for Ireland, and my answer was that I hoped I would never live to see the day when they would conceive a dislike for the country. But these are crimes. These are not the acts of patriotism. In some cases they may be misguided, and I believe they require strong action, but I say this, and I urge it upon the attention of the Ministry and the President. that we should not be asked in this Dáil to commit to anybody, no matter how wise, the responsibility of giving the death sentence in respect—for this is the gravity of the whole resolution—of an act or offence that has not been specified in advance.
It is perhaps the proper thing that the Minister who, if conditions were normal, would be solely responsible for order in the country should speak to this motion. My object in speaking to it is to stress the fact that we have not in the civil Government at the moment the power or the machinery to deal adequately with the situation with which we are presented, and we have not at our disposal the tribunals necessary to deal adequately with crimes that are so abundant throughout the country. If we had the normal civil machinery that an old-established Government has at its disposal, the Army might be spared this particular task, which is not a pleasant task to place upon the Army, and I would ask Deputies here to believe that this particular motion does not spring from any blood-lust of the Cosgraves, the Mulcahys, or the O'Higginses, but springs from the realisation on the part of the whole Government of the urgency and gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves. This is the highest Court in the land, and we come to this Court to ask for an injunction—a very definite injunction— against certain acts; and we ask for a very definite penalty in the event of a breach of that injunction; and the acts against which we ask this injunction are acts which are making steadily, which are making rapidly, for national death. There has been talk here, with much of which I agree, of the gravity of taking human life. I do not think that any of us hold human life cheap; but when, and if, a situation arises in the country where you must balance the human life against the life of the nation, that presents a very different problem, and we, at least, do seriously consider that such a situation has come to pass in Ireland, and that we are presented with a spectacle of a country bleeding to death, of a country steering straight for anarchy, futility and chaos, and we feel if there is to be a check to that we must take measures much stronger than any that have been taken up to the present. The life of this nation is menaced. It is menaced politically, it is menaced economically, it is menaced morally. It is menaced politically because vital things, fundamental things, are challenged. If the day comes when the majority will cannot be asserted here, if the day comes when the majority must bow to the armed minority, then this country will have ceased to be a nation, and will have become instead a rabble dictated to by idealists with guns, perhaps. The life of this country is menaced economically; we all here know it; no one knows it better than the men who sit opposite. There is a time limit. This thing cannot go on indefinitely, and to a large extent the task of the Government is a task against time. Last December there was, we were told, 130,000 people out of employment up and down through the country. I do not know to what figure that unemployment has since swelled, but I do know that the threads and ties which bind society, ties which bind the ordered fabric of this State, are strained to snapping point, and I do know that the able Englishman who is leading those who are opposed to this Government has his eye quite definitely on one objective, and that that is the complete breakdown of the economic and social fabric. So that this thing that is trying so hard to be an Irish nation will go down in chaos, anarchy and futility. His programme is a negative programme, a purely destructive programme, and it will be victory to him and his peculiar mind if he prevents the Government coming into existence under the terms of the Treaty signed in London last December. He has no constructive programme, and so he keeps steadily, callously and ghoulishly on his career of striking at the heart of this nation, striking deadly, or what he hopes are deadly, blows at the economic life of this nation.
On a point of information, may I ask to whom you are referring?
I am now referring to the Englishman, Erskine Childers. I trust the Deputy did not think my words were capable of being applied to anyone else
I had that doubt, when I asked the question.
I did not mean there should be any doubt. He keeps on, as I have said, striking deadly blows at the economic life of this Nation, and it is quite definitely our duty to face that fact, to realise that there is a limit, to realise that it is very largely a question of time, and to take what we consider are the most effective steps to check this headlong race to ruin. Now, it would perhaps be a generous estimate to say that 20 per cent. of the militant opposition to this Government is idealism. I know that there is a percentage, whatever that percentage is. It would be, perhaps, a generous estimate also to say that only 20 per cent. of it is crime. And between those 20 per cents. there flows 60 per cent. of sheer futility, that is neither one thing nor the other, but that will go on until some very definite reason is put up to it why it should not go on. We hope to put up such a reason, and we do think that such a reason is embodied in the terms of the Government Resolution. If this country fails to get through, if this country fails to win out to Democratic Government, that will be unfortunate. But if this country fails to win out to Democratic Government because of any lack of clear thinking on the part of those who had the primary responsibility, that would be criminal—criminal for us. It would be a shifting of responsibility. It would be putting a certain mawkish sentimentality before the thing that the people look to us to do, and we will not do that Deputies must not let the softness of their hearts spread to their heads in considering this Resolution. Deputies must keep strongly in mind, and steadily in mind, that the men who are striking hammer blows at the social and economic life of this country are striking those hammer blows because up to the present they have been able to strike them with a fair prospect of comparative immunity Even from the point of view of doing the best thing for these men themselves, even from the point of view of any prospect there is of their ever again becoming decent citizens of this State, we should not encourage them in the belief that they can continue to do these things with impunity. We should not encourage them in the belief that we are so soft, or so sentimental, that the penalty for these hammer blows to the country's life is only going to be internment under very comfortable conditions. Certain things have been spoken of here. They were referred to as acts of indiscipline, and Deputy Johnson made the extraordinary remark that by setting up this machinery which this Resolution embodies that we are taking a step which is likely to lead to an increase of such acts of indiscipline. Now, I join issue on that. We are taking a step that will ensure the disappearance of such acts of indiscipline. We here are placed in a position where we must carry more of the load than the ordinary citizen of the country. When a very murderous ambush took place some time ago in Leix, and when three very gallant officers of the National Army lost their lives in that ambush, we know the comment that was on the lips of the people from one end of the country to the other. I do not endorse that comment. But we know what it was, we know that it was said: "Why were those twenty-five men taken prisoners—those twenty-five men who surrendered to six, after they had fired their murderous volley and killed these three officers?" Now, there was no act of indiscipline there, but the thing went on, and it may be that there were acts of indiscipline elsewhere. Really the net result of the opposition to this Resolution is, to say that the people were right who said after the Leix ambush that these men should not have been taken prisoners. You are putting to the unfortunate soldiers themselves the task of deciding when, and in what circumstances, they should refuse to take prisoners—if there are any circumstances in which that would be right. It is really shifting off your own shoulders the responsibility which properly belongs to there, and trying to put it on the shoulders of some unfortunate soldiers down through the country to say that no machinery whatever must be set up by which a proper penalty can be enforced on those who are taking action which is killing this country. It has been said that Deputies have a right to know what the situation in the country is. Surely, Deputies have a right to know what the situation in the country is, and surely Deputies ought to know, and ought to study it very carefully. It is part of their responsibilities to their constituents to so study it. It is a mathematical certainty that this country cannot continue indefinitely to endure what it has been through in this black year since December last. It is also in the knowledge of Deputies that this Government has duties and has responsibilities out of all proportion to the machinery which it has at its disposal. It is within the knowledge of the Deputies that this Government at the moment has only 1,500 police. It is within the knowledge of the Deputies that the civil tribunals of this country are peculiarly placed at the moment. On the one hand, you have Courts which so many are ready to call British Courts, and to say that they are not deserving of the confidence of the people. On the other hand you have Courts that from end to end of Ireland within the last year have been the subject of very severe criticism and very severe condemnation. And so, we ask you to entrust to the Army the task of holding the ties that bind the ordered fabric of the State, that bind the ordered fabric of society in this land, to prevent that complete collapse on which the Leaders of the Irregulars base their hopes —in so far as they have any hopes—base their negative hope, I should say. We are inviting this Dáil to trust the National Army to hold the gap until such time as civil machinery can be forged, and a civil police force sent out through the country that will be a protection and a service to the people. And I certainly do not think this Dáil should have misgivings in trusting the National Army with that task. They have not shown in the past few months any particular blood lust, they have not shown that they forgot that these men who are pitted against them are to some extent, at any rate, men who fought along with them in the past, and they have not shown that they forget that they are dealing all the time with their own people. I do not think sufficient attention was paid to the safeguard that this Resolution contains with regard to proper trial and fair consideration of evidence. There was a question of at least one person nominated by the Minister of Defence and certified by the law officer to be a person with legal knowledge and experience.
Is it proposed that he will be President of the Court? Is that the intention?
Not necessarily the President, but he would be there to assist the Court and help it to appreciate the value of the evidence that was placed before it, and this Dáil can be very sure that such a person would regard it as part of his duty to make representations to the Government, if evidence that was inadmissible or unsound was in any danger of being acted on. Further, I am asked to say that these are not courts of summary jurisdiction. They are not simply drumhead courtmartials with execution following shortly. That is, with execution following shortly after if execution was the result of the trial. The confirming authority will be the general officer commanding in the particular area—that would be the officer in charge of the command. You can take it that people who are in charge in the different areas are people with a very real sense of their responsibilities, probably as real a sense of their responsibilities as any Member of this Dáil.
Before the Minister goes on, may I ask another question, which might save difficulty. Will the regulations governing each stage —Army trials, Courts Martial and the rest—be placed before us?
With what particular object in view?
To understand what authority we are giving, the conditions under which we are giving it, to whom we are giving it, and why.
May I remind the Dáil that the President said in his opening statement that the regulations would be laid on the table of the Dáil and would remain there for three days.
The regulation the President referred to was Paragraph 4 in B—"The breach of any general Order or Regulation made by the Army Authorities." What the President said was, when any such Order had been made by the Army Authorities it would be laid on the Table of this Dáil.
And would stand unless objected to by the Dáil.
I think what Deputy Johnson wants to know is whether the arrangement of these Courts and the general conditions governing them and the arrangement for the confirmation of the sentences would be placed before the Dáil.
And the rights of the prisoners, and so on.
The impression is this, which some of us have got from the statement of the Minister for Defence, that the regulations under this particular Resolution will not be put before us.
The text of any general order or regulation made by the Army Authorities will be laid on the table, and if not objected to after four days will stand. That is the undertaking I gave with regard to the matter.
We are asking here for a policy to inflict certain punishment, for certain offences. Instructions will be issued to the different Officers Commanding, explaining the procedure to be adopted in connection with the setting up of these Courts and the infliction of these punishments. It is not the intention to lay these instructions before the Dáil.
Is it not?
Is that denying the authority of the Dáil?
No, it is not the intention, but they will be official documents connected with the Ministry for Defence, which any Member may ask for, if he wishes to see them, but we do not propose holding up dealing with the authority we have got in order to put the simple matter of procedure before the Dáil.
We are setting up a Criminal Code. We are not going to have any explanations as to how this Code is to be applied.
Will there be a Judge Advocate to review the sentences before they are carried into effect, somewhat as there is under the British regulations?
There is a Judge Advocate General, but it is not the intention that these sentences will go to him as the confirming authority, for any sentences that will be imposed will be by the General Officer commanding the area.
We are not to know anything of the rights of the prisoners in these cases?
Who is not to know?
Are we not to know if the prisoner is to have any rights in regard to his defence?
Can he call witnesses?
Certainly. You will have to deal with it as a Military Court, pure and simple, in some areas. In some areas where, say, an action takes place witnesses will only be available on the spot and the witnesses will give evidence on the spot at the preliminary inquiry, and the prisoner will have the power of cross-examining such witnesses, on the spot, in that particular case. At the subsequent trial he would only have power to make a statement with regard to his case. The cross-examination which had been already taken down would be before the Court. It would be obviously impossible in certain cases to bring witnesses from a war area to the Court.
Is there any right to reprieve? Is it the intention of the Ministry to place this right in the hands of the Minister for Defence, or is some imaginary person, whom we are not aware of, to have that right?
I would point out that this is not question time. I do not know of the imaginary person Deputy Davin is referring to. If he means the G.O.C. I should assure him the G.O.C. is a very real person.
George Windsor I am referring to.
This resolution can be taken as evidence, at any rate, and can stand as a record of the fact that we put our responsibilities to the people of Ireland and our responsibilities to the future generations before any personal feelings of our own. Harsh things and uncharitable things are being written in the Press of the Members of the Cabinet at the moment. The Members of the Government consider that is perfectly natural, in conditions like the present, and a certain allowance has to be made for propaganda, and so on, but I think it is realised that no man in the Government would conceive, or expound to his colleagues, a project such as this from any other motive or out of any other belief than the National situation demanded action of this kind and that in no other way could the National life be saved. It is in that conviction and not from any blood lust that we put this resolution to the Dáil. Each Deputy must take his responsibility in accepting or rejecting it, and he should in dealing with it try to bring his mind to a stage as if this thing depended on his vote and he were going to say "yes" or "no" to it and that "yes" or "no" was to be the final decision on the resolution. We ask the Dáil to say "yes" to it, and we do not want Deputies to vote because they imagine they will be in a comfortable minority by voting against it. If they think it is right, if they think it is necessary, if they think that the Government, without it, would not be able to save the National position, then I trust they will have the manliness to vote for it, whatever threats may be made outside this Dáil as to the consequences to themselves if they do so. We should be pretty good judges of the requirements of the situation. If we are not our ignorance is inexcusable, because we have given time and thought and study to the situation. We also hope that we are pretty good judges of the future economic endurance of the situation, and we hope we have fairly well sized up just how much more time there is left in which the situation can be saved. If men are allowed to go on in the way they have gone on for the last three months and for the last nine months for that matter, in the belief that at the end of all there is a comfortable camp bed at Gormanstown awaiting them, I see no chance of these men coming back to a realisation of the position and an appreciation of the fact that in every country that claims to be a Nation, that claims to be democratic, the majority rules and the minority drops back into a Constitutional position and endeavours to bring back the majority to their view. To-morrow, or next day, we will be dealing with the question of a particular Oath, and it has always seemed to me that any Deputy in the future Parliament who takes that Oath is acknowledging, not the majesty of any particular person, not the majesty of a foreign king, but rather he is bowing his head to the majority will of his own countrymen, and there must be that bowing of the head if this country is to be saved. If this country is not going to be saved, if this country is going to go down a futile thing, then we of the Ministry are determined that that will be not through any fault of ours.
Strictly speaking the Dáil adjourns without question put at 7.30, but a motion was proposed and carried earlier to the effect that after the Ministerial motion has been disposed of the Dáil shall continue to sit until 8.30, if necessary, to deal with private Members' motions.
So far as my motion is concerned, I do not want to press it now in view of the importance of this discussion.
I must, after what the Minister for Home Affairs has stated, vote with the Ministry upon this motion, but I will do it with the most profound misgiving, and I shall be very greatly relieved if some Minister, before this debate closes, can give some answer to the questions put by the Senior Deputy for County Dublin.
The promise is that the regulations in connection with the Courts and the rights of prisoners, and so on, will be placed upon the table.
If the President will allow me to continue for a moment I think I could make the position more clear. Deputy Johnson asked at the beginning whether any lawyer could get up and stand over this resolution. The only ground on which any lawyer could get up and stand over it is that "necessity knows no law." The Minister for Home Affairs has told us that the Government is satisfied that law and order cannot be restored and that the present rebellion cannot be put down without the assistance of these regulations, and it is upon that assurance from the Government, and on that alone, that I feel myself coerced to support the Government upon the present motion. I do appeal to them before they pass it to define in some shape or form by a resolution of this Dáil what are "Army Authorities"? For all I know, under this regulation the Army Authorities who may do anything that is authorised by this resolution, who may make any general order, or regulation, may be some subaltern in command of some small military area. So far as this resolution is concerned, that is possible. We hardly ever knew—indeed we never did know—what was the Competent Military Authority or Naval Authority under the old regime, but at any rate that Competent Naval or Military Authority was appointed, and his appointment before he exercised his powers was put in some Gazette, and you could find it out and also find out what his powers were. It seems to me, before this resolution is finally adopted, Ministers should see their way to put in some definition of what the Army Authorities are. They can put in that the Army Authority is the Minister for Defence, or, if there be an Army Council, the Authority may be the Army Council, but it ought to be defined, so that it may not be in the power of anyone in some corner of the country to stand up and say: "I am the Army Authority and I am going to make certain Military Regulations." I am certain the Government do not mean that, but as far as this resolution is concerned that state of things might arise. Before asking the Dáil to pass this resolution I think we ought to have something to show that the Dáil to has not authorised anything like that. There is one other proviso that might be fairly added, and that is to show who may authorise the infliction of the death penalty. It is a very serious thing even for the most serious offence. I do not say in the present state of things it might not be justifiable to inflict the death penalty for any of the crimes set out in the three paragraphs of Section B. But then there comes the fourth paragraph, which would inflict the death penalty for a breach of any of the Regulations made by the Army Authorities, and we do not know who the Army Authorities are. The President has promised us that Regulations made in connection with them will be laid upon the table. At any rate I think he made his meaning perfectly clear, though it seems to be misunderstood by other people. I understand that when general orders are circulated they are laid upon the table. I think it ought to be provided that in cases where the death penalty shall be inflicted, that these Regulations shall not come into force and be acted upon until this Dáil has had an opportunity of disallowing them, because it is very little use to lay the Regulations upon the table of the Dáil if some man has already been shot for the infringement of them. Therefore, I think whatever is done about that ought to provide that no such general order or regulation shall come into force unless and until it has been brought before the Dáil and laid upon the table for at least four days, and four days upon which the Dáil is sitting. That is, that we should have the opportunity for four days of considering them, and that these should be days upon which something could be done, and we should have the opportunity of disallowing the Regulations, if necessary, before any man is executed under them. And I think it is not unreasonable to provide that before any death penalty is actually inflicted that the sentence should be submitted, and that no sentence of death should be inflicted unless and until it is submitted, and submitted to the Commander-in-Chief after the consideration of the evidence advanced at the trial. Before the death sentence is inflicted it ought to be confirmed at least by the highest Military Authority. I trust the Ministry will do what they can to relieve the burden they are placing upon independent Members by this motion, because I decline to be regarded as a cog in the Government machine, but I must support them when they tell me that these resolutions are essential to the absolute restoration of the country from the state of chaos in which it is at present involved by the civil war raging here, Their position is comparable only to that of Lincoln in the American civil war. This is civil war, and the Government are faced with the worst position, because, as the Deputy for Cavan (Mr. Sean Milroy) told us, the Government has not yet a Constitution, and therefore we are worse off in this country than Lincoln was in his country, that had a Government but which was split up by civil war. I must support the Government when they say they cannot carry on without a resolution like this, but they might do what they can to spare the consciences of independent Members by saying that no one can be executed until the sentence is confirmed, and that no one can be executed under the regulations until this Dáil has had an opportunity of seeing them.
I think the views expressed by such an eminent lawyer as Deputy Fitzgibbon as to the legality of a resolution of this kind justify the fears that have been expressed by Deputy Johnson, which were stated in the debate this evening. The Government in introducing this motion to ask the Dáil to ratify a thing that the Dáil had not been consulted about, have taken quite the opposite point of view of what they are taking in the resolution we have to deal with to-morrow evening. In my opinion the bringing in of this resolution to give authority to the Army to deal with certain things and to ask us to-morrow that they should be allowed to proceed with the motion on Civil Administration is putting in effect the cart before the horse. There was the hope, at any rate, that the Minister for Defence would be able to tell the Dáil that the forces of the Irregulars had been cleared from certain areas, with a view to re-establishing the civil administration of the country, and again, that the Minister for Defence could tell us something about the work of the Army in certain areas. And in view of that you will think that there is something wrong in the matter. We are being taunted with being inclined to prop up the action of the Irregulars in the action they have taken up in this country. I stand for every word of the declaration of the Labour Party, and I hope, that having read this declaration, you will have no more doubts about the attitude of the Labour Party. The Labour Party said:—
"Not only do we consider the political claims of the Republican party to be irrational, but their method of warfare is such as must be strongly denounced. Ambushes in the city streets, the destruction of bridges, railway tracks and buildings are tantamount to a war upon the people, as these acts are certain to hurt the civilian population more than they damage the opposing military forces. `Military necessity' is offered as an excuse, but that doctrine that `military necessity' justifies every act of destruction that an army chooses to commit leads direct to barbarism. It can be used by both belligerents with equal force as providing a moral justification for outrage and civilisation will be shattered if such a doctrine prevails."
That is the attitude of the Labour Party, to which I subscribe. Now we have the Minister for Home Defence, and I quite agree with him it is the duty of every Deputy to study the situation as it is supposed to be in Ireland to-day. How are we to study the situation and the steps which should be taken in Ireland at the present time? How, in the name of goodness, are we to consider the circumstances which are published in the papers, after the admission in this Dáil that the papers as published in Ireland are subject to censorship by the Military. We are entitled to have every bit of information, if we can. If we cannot have it in public session, then, if it is in the interests of the Irish Nation, we should have the whole of the information in a private session of the Dáil. We are told we do not know whether this is a fact or not. I hold that we are entitled to all the information with regard to the whole military situation at the present moment before they ask us to pass any legislation of this kind. The Deputy for Trinity College stated he did not see any legal status for this resolution, and he admitted that he was being coerced into voting for it.
On a point of explanation, I did not say I could not see any legal status. I said it was legally justified by the necessity of the case.
You used the words "necessity knows no law," and when I saw the Deputy get up I thought I would hear from him some legal grounds upon which the motion might be justified. When I went forward at the last election I said I was prepared to work the Treaty, and as a Member of the Dáil I am prepared to work the Treaty. I am also prepared to support the Government in establishing the authority of this Dáil, as long as the Government is prepared to do it along Constitutional lines. I am as much opposed to military dictatorship, such as this resolution will set up on behalf of the Government, as I am to the military dictatorship which describes the conditions of the Irregulars in Ireland to-day. I am prepared to support the Government in all the measures they are taking to preserve order. The President has referred to the action of the Irregulars in taking the Four Courts. Now, we all know the President, previous to the last election, was associated with the party which agreed to the Pact. And so far as I understand the party now in power did not assert any position at the time, except that the party in the Four Courts had no right to be there. I do not see why you should ask for these present powers of military administration. I do not consider it right that the Dáil should be asked to hand over its powers to a military dictatorship, which has no legal status at the present time.
When I came into the Dáil, I intended to support the motion. In spite of the eloquence of Labour Deputies I still hope to be able to support it substantially, because of the fundamental fact that the other side to this dispute have chosen the arbitrament of war. If it is war, we must recognise that fact; also, I want to support the Government because this measure aims in the direction of a military dictatorship. I have been in favour of a military dictatorship from the beginning of the war, because I trust military guidance in a matter of this kind and I entirely mistrust any kind of political control, because political control is not only a sham but is often mischievous. There is, however, I should say, another matter which makes me very anxious to support the motion, and it is that every Member in this Dáil, more particularly the Labour Deputies, should welcome the sign that the Government at last are anxious to legalise some of their operations. Even if this does not legalise things as they should be legalised, still it is a step in the direction of restoring proper conduct of the forces. There are one or two difficulties. Mr. Fitzgibbon's plea I warmly support. Secondly, I cannot bring myself to agree with the Spitzbergen Policy of getting some desert island in the far North or a desert island in the Pacific. I cannot in my own mind justify a policy which apparently hopes to end a state of civil war by deporting our Irish people to some distant island. I would beg the Government to think twice before they thrust that part of their resolution on the Dáil. I would also ask the Minister for Defence whether he would consider the advisability of separating military from police measures. I think the proposal to give the right of internment over suspected civilians, which is involved in this, is a separate matter and should be governed by different considerations and should be surrounded by more safeguards. I have proposed an amendment which aims at giving some kind of clearness and definiteness in our dealing with people who may be taken prisoners. I hope that the Minister for Defence will receive these suggestions with favour.
To my mind, there is only one possible justification for a resolution like this. It was indicated by the Minister for Defence that it was to prevent indiscriminate murder or executions or whatever you like to call it on the part of the Army Authorities. If such have taken place, as the Minister admitted, perhaps a resolution like this is better than indiscriminate executions. If Irregulars are to be executed, we should ask what is the status of the Irregulars and of the Government. The other day a Habeas Corpus motion came before one of the Judges. It was refused on the ground that there was a state of war. If they are prisoners of war, they have no right to be executed unless they have committed some crime after being captured, or some crime against the usages of war before being captured. It is possible that men using dum dum bullets or scooping bullets, so that they would inflict damage similar to the dum dum bullets, commit an offence for which they should be punished, but if a man is fighting a clean fight as a soldier he should not be executed. I am surprised that the Minister for Defence, who was Chief of Staff in the war against England, and who arranged ambushes, could sit in judgment on men who fight in the same way as they fought against England. I do not agree with Irregulars, but you must look at it as they look at it. They think they are fighting for a Republic; I do not think they are. You will never change them by executing them. You will drive them on instead of back. You will never frighten any Irishman, North or South, Catholic or Protestant, by the threat of execution. The British have tried it and failed, and if you try it you will fail and the Free State will fail with you. I do not like to say what will be the results of this if it is put into force. Very often if you say a thing may happen it will bring it about. I do not like to say or think what the effect of this resolution will be. I think it will have a terrible result, and I think the Government should consider this resolution seriously before they ask us to vote on it or bring it into force. As soon as you execute one of the Irregulars, your Free State is gone. I am not very enthusiastic about the Free State. It is a sham and does not give liberty or freedom to this country. We are not free and the fight will have to go on in the future for a Republic and for a united Ireland. I believe the wrong time has been selected by the Irregulars to fight for it, but the fight will have to go on, and I hope it will be on a much larger scale and that it will succeed.
I think there is something said that ought to be answered. The last speaker, I think, omitted to consider the fact that when General Mulcahy was acting as Chief of Staff he had the authority of the people behind him, which is very different to the authority the Irregulars have behind them.
That is their contention. I do not agree with it.
Like a great many more of their contentions, it has no support behind it, good, bad or indifferent. If the people of this country want to be stampeded by Irregular propaganda into getting rid of the Free State that is their responsibility and they are welcome to it. If my recollection is correct, when listening to Deputy Johnson I do not remember him expressing any sympathy or concern with the soldiers who are being murdered by the Irregular bands, a remissness which was corrected by Deputy O'Shannon. There were attacks by Deputy Johnson in connection with three cases. I know nothing whatever about those three cases. I might just as well attack Deputy Johnson on cases of people who have been threatened in the present Postal strike. I expect he would not say that is any affair of his, and that he did not control every Trade Unionist in Ireland. It is equally unfair to expect the Minister for Defence to control every single member of the Army. The Army has shown considerable restraint; and foreigners, and people of the country, and newspapers correspondents admit that they have never seen such restraint on the part of an army. These resolutions we have put down here are for the purpose of securing some sort of justice. One case mentioned by Deputy Johnson I have been reading in Irregular propaganda, and I find this particular individual fought for the Republic since the Four Courts. I have heard nothing of him before. I did not know he was alive, but that is the sort of thing we have to put up with. It is time that a strong hand should be shown against such an individual. The first three items are the items we mean, or that I meant, at any rate, when putting down this resolution. This would entail the death penalty if the death penalty was advised to us by courtmartial or by the military courts set up to try these cases. As regards the regulation that was mentioned, at the moment I do not know of any regulation outside of this that would be mentioned, which would entail the death penalty, but I would hand in this:—
"Provided, however, that as regards such general order or regulation as aforesaid the same shall be laid on the table of this Dáil and shall take effect on the expiration of four days thereafter unless this Dáil shall have previously passed a resolution disallowing the same."
A thing that has struck the Ministry, and not alone the present Ministry, but the previous one—I mean by the previous one the late President and the late Commander-in-Chief—was, that as soon as an area had been cleared, such as Dublin, of Irregular troops, we would decide to take this action on a given date. Now notice is given to-day for this. There is no justification in any way that I know of, or that is subscribed to by any body of people in the country, for these ambushes on our troops. I think that will be admitted. It will also be admitted that, in the present state of society, verdicts would be rather difficult to get, and then any body of malcontents in any country could hold up the administration and say: "It is impossible for you to get verdicts, because we have swept away the means, the normal circumstances, by which these verdicts are got." Now, these people have got to learn that if they so agitate against society and declare war on society, there is an alternative method of bringing them to justice, and that is the method that is outlined here. So far, the military authorities have not executed one single person, and the war is now almost three months—perhaps to-day or to-morrow it will be three months —in operation. I would like to know where, in the history of any country, such a record as that can be shown.
The objection does not lie in that; the objection lies in handing the whole of the authority into the Army's hands.
The handing of that power to the Army Authorities in this case is occasioned by reason of the fact that people cannot be brought to justice by reason of the Irregulars' activity. And we are setting up alternative machinery to deal with that. The first Clause reads:—"Taking part in or aiding or abetting any attack upon or using force against the National Forces." Now night after night we hear shots being fired. Sometimes some fellow fires out of fun, and sometimes, perhaps, at a sentry. It is admitted—I believe the Dáil is of opinion—a man like that, properly convicted before a military court, should be sentenced to death. Is that admitted? A person "taking part in or aiding or abetting any attack upon or using force against the National Forces." Is not that man guilty of a crime which merits the death penalty?
Is it a state of war, and are you prepared to treat the prisoners as prisoners of war?
Certainly not. We are not going to treat rebels as prisoners of war; and when you are speaking of a state of war, a state of war as set out in the Courts the other day is wrongly interpreted, at least by Deputy Gavan Duffy—a state of war, or rebellion, or what is described in France as a state of siege. Are we going to lay a precedent in this country? If in fifty or one hundred and fifty years time a body of, say, 100 men take up arms and lay waste a street, or two streets, or a countryside, are they going to be treated like prisoners of war? Why, if they were, the whole social fabric would totter.
Have one or the other—civil courts or war.
According to Deputy Johnson you could never have a rebellion—there would be always war. Deputy Johnson well knows that only for this Army, and the actions the Army have taken, that he would not be sitting here.
The next clause says:—
"Looting, arson, destruction, seizure, unlawful possession or removal of, or damage to, any public or private property."
In one case it is known that where an Officer commanding troops issued a Proclamation setting out that looting or arson or anything of that sort was punishable by death, practically all the property stolen was returned, and normal conditions were restored in that area. That is for the benefit of Deputy McCartan, who does not think that stern measures bring people to their senses. I maintain that if stern measures had been adopted in the very beginning, you would have very much fewer people in the ranks of the Irregulars, and you would have fewer people getting four meals a day and hot water for shaving. Yes; one gentleman who is responsible for the death of one of our best and most brilliant officers, in a certain jail demanded hot water for shaving. Now, the third clause reads:—
"Having possession without proper authority of any bomb or article in the nature of a bomb or any dynamite, gelignite or other explosive substance or any revolver, rifle, gun or other firearm or lethal weapon or any ammunition for such firearm."
These three I take my stand on, and although I have always objected to a death penalty, there is no other way I know of in which ordered conditions can be restored in this country, or any security obtained for our troops, or to give our troops any confidence in us as a Government. We must accept the responsibility. I do, and it is not right to say that for anything the Ministry bring in here there is a machine. Turning to the particular Bench from which that statement came, the Deputies on that particular Bench have not voted at any time but together, whereas there have been some defections even in the Ministerial ranks.
They are free to vote as they like here—quite free.
You will see that later on, perhaps.
Very good. Those are the three vital matters which we consider in this resolution. We put them to you, convinced that there is no other means of restoring ordered and normal conditions in the country. We are prepared to give every safeguard to prisoners and to give them all the rights of prisoners. We ourselves have had experience of Courtsmartial and we know also, having been in a position of defence such as the Irregulars are in now, how largely exaggerated propaganda sheets are.
Hear, hear; that is why we do not use them.
You know that very well in these Benches.
I should like to state that down the country an order has been issued in my name warning farmers if they used reapers and binders, and so on, they would be done so and so with. I was never responsible for anything of the kind.
They have been broken down in your area.
Touching on the personnel of these Courts, we have not got, of course, what is described in other countries as the officer caste, but we have here an officer class which, I think, is well thought of by the men under them, and which ought to be well thought of by the people, having regard to the very high percentage of casualties amongst them. They are drawn from the people; they have suffered injustice; they have gone through a hard, trying, gruelling time. They may not be possessed of legal knowledge, but deep down in these men's hearts there is a sense of justice which I would trust, and I believe every prisoner can trust and bank on. And, furthermore, I believe these men are so soft-hearted that if a man had a good Army record in the pre-Truce period, even though he was now guilty of a crime that those men would now stretch their consciences out of a fine brotherly love for these men and the circumstances in which they are placed. I am perfectly satisfied that there would be justice given by those officers, and if at any time they should happen to change they will be advised by the Irish people, who know the drawbacks of the situation, and all prisoners charged with serious offences will be given a fair trial. The army authorities, as such, we are prepared to have described as the Minister for Defence. We are prepared to have every one of these sentences brought before the Ministry and have them sanctioned by the Ministry. We do not want those people's lives taken away, and we are, even at the eleventh hour, prepared to give them peace, but only on the condition that there is absolute obedience to the will of the people, and that all arms are surrendered to the Parliament of the people.
I would like to ask if you would give an opportunity to the men on the hills to come back to normal life before this proclamation would be brought into effect? They may not have an opportunity of knowing about this proclamation.
Are we to be assured that in those regulations that are likely to be issued for the conduct of the Courts there will be time allowed so that there will be no possibility of a trial and execution in hot blood.
Most certainly. Hold on; may I ask you to repeat that question?
Can we have an assurance that before a trial takes place there will be some delay, so that decisions may not be come to in hot blood?
You mean that if a man is arrested, say, now, at 25 minutes past 8, that he should not be tried until to-morrow.
I am not going to fix the time.
But we must get to exact terms.
I would say that is too soon. A man must have time to make a defence, and call evidence. You are only thinking of death penalties.
I am thinking of more. That is the most important.
The prisoner has a right to defence and time to prepare for it.
I think the Dáil generally has taken this matter generously. Thy have been a bit hard on the Ministry, but we are getting used to it. I would suggest that we go into Committee on this resolution to-morrow, if that would meet with the approval of the Dáil.
Is the suggestion that the Dáil adjourn, and that we go into Committee to-morrow after questions?
I take it that the general principle is agreed to; it is not exactly a first reading, but the general principle is accepted.
I cannot accept the principle that we must hand over this authority to the Army, but I believe if we do go into committee on it, and consider it, we are going to remove very much of the gravity of this bad principle.
I gather from the debate that the Dáil has accepted the principle of Military Courts. There are some Deputies who would not accept the principle under any circumstances. And then, with regard to how the principle should be put into practice, those who favour the principle are divided on points of practice and on matters of safeguards, and so on; so that before you adjourn you should be quite clear as to what we are to discuss to-morrow.
I simply move that the Dáil endorses the principle outlined in the resolution. That will get us down to business, anyhow.
Would it be asking too much if the President could let us know, amongst the offences that are outlined in the resolution, if it would be possible to define which of them——
It has been done already.
On the question as to the Military Courts to be set up——
The principle of Military Courts does not concern that at all.
But it is material who are the defendants. Are they prisoners of war or military prisoners?
Largely they are people whose mental balance is bad.
Are we not anticipating the debate to-morrow?
What I want to be clear about is what the debate to-morrow is to be about. If we are to take up and generally debate the principle of the establishment of Military Courts, we could get no further than to-day. But if we take the principle as accepted, and then debate the resolution clause by clause, we would be quite clear.
Take the matter clause by clause.
In that case we should be considered as having dealt to-day with the First and Second Reading.
The President has moved, and I second, that the Dáil approves in principle of the resolution brought forward to-day, and agrees to go into it to-morrow and work out details. I would ask you to take a vote of the House on that.
Motion made and question put: "That this Dáil approves of the principle of the resolution submitted by the President, and goes into Committee to consider same to-morrow."
On a division the motion was carried, the voting being 48 for and 18 against.
Liam T. Mac Cosgair.Donchadh Ó Gúaire.Uaitear Mac Cúmhaill.Seán Ó Maolruaidh.Seán Ó Duinnin.Micheál Ó hAonghusa.Domhnall Ó Mocháin.Seán Ó hAodha.Liam de Roiste.Séamus Breathnach.Pádraig Mag Úalghairg.Peadar Mac a' Bháird.Darghal Figes.Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.Seán Ó Ruanaidh.Micheál de Duram.Seán Mac Garaidh.Ristéard Ó Maolchatha.Pilib Mac Cosgair.Micheál de Staineas.Seosamh Mag Craith.Domhnall Mac Carthaigh.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Earnán Altún.Sir Séamus Craig.Gearóid Mac Giobuin.Liam Thrift.Eóin Mac Néill.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Pádraic Ó Máille.Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Piaras Béaslaí.Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoich.Criostóir Ó Broin.Risteard Mac Liam.Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.Séamus Ó Dóláin.Proinsias Mag Aonghusa.Éamon Ó Dúgáin.Peadar Ó hAodha.Séamus Ó Murchadha.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Tomás Ó Domhnaill.Earnán de Blaghd.Uinseann de Faoite.Domhnall Ó Broin.Séamus de Burca.
Pádraig Ó Gamhna.Pádraig Ó Gamhna.Tomás de Nógla.Riobard Ó Deaghaidh.Tomás Mac Eóin.Seoirse Ghabhain Ui Dhubhthaigh.Liam Ó Bríain.Tomás Ó Conaill.Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.Séamus Eabhróid.Liam Ó Daimhin.Pádraig Mac Artain.Seán Ó Laidhin.Cathal Ó Seanain.Seán Buitléir.Nioclas Ó Faolain.Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.Risteard Mac Fheórais.Domhnall Ó Ceallachain.
On a point of order, might I ask does it affect Deputy Gavan Duffy's amendment?
Of course not.
All the amendments I presume come on at the Committee stage to-morrow, and also any other amendments that may be proposed.
But we have disposed of the principle beforehand. I think we are forestalling the amendment.
No; we are not knocking out a single amendment. Each one of them can be considered in Committee to-morrow.
I have no intention of ruling out any amendment tabled to-morrow.
Are not the amendments from that view an improvement of the principle?
How do we stand with regard to the rest of the business of the day?
I think the Dáil will adjourn after this.