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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 11 Oct 1922

Vol. 1 No. 21



I suppose one ought not to raise any further question on this Preamble after the speech of the Minister for Agriculture, inasmuch as nothing in the Preamble matters twopence, though I suppose it cost more than twopence to put it into type. Nevertheless I think it is well to make any amendments that are possible, and I suggest this amendment in the literal sense to insert after the words "which are hereby given the force of law" the following words: "And nothing in the Constitution shall be read as lessening in any way the rights, powers, and authority secured to Saorstát Eireann/Irish Free State by the terms of the scheduled Treaty." Ministers have told us that the Constitution is a fair and full interpretation of the Treaty in their opinion. They have stressed that. I do not think it is asking too much of them to suggest that their opinion might not be approved or confirmed by every other authority on these matters, and that there is a possibility of difference of opinion. I think the term "repugnance" here is not sufficiently wide to include possible defections in the Constitution or the liberties granted in the Treaty. It is possible that someone at some future date may say the Constitution is less valuable from the Irish standpoint, and gives less freedom. It limits the freedom that is granted in the Treaty, inasmuch as the Constitution as passed by the Dáil, after the Treaty had been signed, reduces the freedom granted by the Treaty. Therefore it is the Constitution which shall prevail. And to avoid the possibility of that—quite apart from the question of something being definitely in opposition to the Treaty, that is repugnant to the Treaty, or that there may be something that may have escaped our notice short of the liberties granted in the Treaty— we should provide ourselves against that interpretation being made. I therefore suggest that not only are matters repugnant to the Treaty of no avail, but if anything at a later date is found in the Constitution to be less valuable than the Treaty, it is the Treaty shall prevail. That is conceded. Now, that is conceding everything that the Ministers had argued for in regard to the value of the Treaty. I am asking them to agree that the fullest possible value in the Treaty shall be secured, even though we have omitted something valuable in the interpretation of the Treaty in the Constitution. I beg to move the amendment.


This amendment, to my mind, adds nothing in substance to what is in the original preamble, i.e., the second part of the preamble. There is nothing objectionable in it practically except that it adds words without adding substance. From the point of view of form there might be some slight danger in it. This particular part of the preamble is an agreed clause, and, as you might say, it will be part of the British Act in its present form. It is an agreed clause in its present form, and if we add to it words specifically stating that nothing in the Constitution shall be read "as lessening in any way the rights, powers and authority secured to Saorstat Eireann by the terms of the Scheduled Treaty," the British might suggest that they shall add further: "and nothing in the Constitution shall be read as increasing in any way the rights, powers and authority secured to Saorstat Eireann by the terms of the Scheduled Treaty." I think it would be better to leave that part of the preamble as it stands.

Amendment lost.
Amendment 10:—"To delete the words ‘and the Executive Council' and ‘respectively' lines 9 and 10."


I move this because I want to understand what it means. I cannot understand the meaning of the words "Executive Council" in this matter, and also "to the extent only of such repugnancy be absolutely void and inoperative, and the Parliament and the Executive Council of the Irish Free State shall respectively pass such further legislation and do all such other things as may be necessary to implement the Scheduled Treaty." Does the Executive Council pass any legislation, or has it anything to say in the passing of legislation except helping it through the Legislature? The only meaning that I can attach to it, and I ask the Ministers to tell us whether this is the meaning of it, "that the Executive Council shall do all such other things."


indicated assent.

Amendment withdrawn.
Amendment 11:—"To add after the words ‘and the Parliament and Executive Council of the Irish Free State,' and before the words ‘shall respectively pass,' the following: ‘and the Parliament of Great Britain.' To add to same clause, at the end, after the words ‘the Scheduled Treaty,'‘the interpretation of any such repugnancy to be referred by the respective parties to the Scheduled Treaty to a conference representative of the different States of the British Commonwealth of Nations."—LIAM DE ROISTE.


This question has been raised several times in the discussion on the Constitution. I understood, from the Minister for Local Government a moment ago that this particular clause as it stands in the Bill is an agreed clause, and consequently cannot be amended. It is much like the Articles in the Constitution that deal with our relations with England, and are an interpretation of the Treaty from the British point of view as far as I can gather. The idea underlying this as it stands is that any amendment of the Constitution in any respect repugnant to any of the provisions of the Schedule of the Treaty shall ‘to the extent only of such repugnancy be absolutely void and inoperative, and the Parliament and the Executive Council of the Irish Free State shall respectively pass such further legislation, and do all such other things as may be necessary to implement the Scheduled Treaty." The assumption there is that it is only an Irish Government, under an Irish Parliament presumably, and Irish Courts will do things that will be repugnant to the Treaty, and that it will not be incumbent upon the Government and Parliament of Great Britain to pass any legislation if they think it should do some things which shall be repugnant to the Treaty. It is the British Ministers who will be able to say what is, or what is not, repugnant in the Treaty. Now, my amendment, which I simply put forward here for the consideration of the Dáil Ministry, is that something should be put into that clause which would ensure that if the English Government on its side at any future time did something which is considered repugnant to the Treaty that we have entered into with them that it would also be incumbent on the Government of England to pass legislation that may be necessary to act in accordance with the Treaty. Furthermore, I put for their consideration that some other body besides the British Ministers of the future should interpret as between the two countries. The suggestion which I make here is that the body frequently referred to in the course of these debates —namely, some body of representatives of the various States of the Commonwealth. It is not because one might, or might not, like particularly to deal with such Tribunal, but it is surely essential that the interpretation of whether Ireland does anything repugnant to the Treaty or England for that matter does, it should not be left to British Ministers on the one side or, perhaps the British Ministers might say, to the Irish Ministers on the other side. There should be some other Tribunal. I do submit the underlying idea of the clause, as it stands, is that it is only Ireland may do things repugnant to the Treaty, and that England may not do them, or shall not do them, and that the only persons who shall be competent to decide that clause, whether Ireland does anything repugnant to the Treaty would be the British Ministers who are in Downing Street. I suggest it should be amended so that there should be a right to some other Court of Appeal, and that it should not be left to British Ministers to interpret that Ireland has or has not done something repugnant to the Treaty. That is the object of the amendment.


Deputy de Róiste's amendment may be taken in two parts. First where he wishes to enact that the British Parliament shall pass certain legislation. Now, we cannot enact that the British Parliament shall pass legislation. The British Parliament unfortunately is not within or subject to the jurisdiction of this Parliament.




And consequently, in my opinion, that portion of the amendment falls through. If the British Parliament does not enact such legislation as may be necessary to implement the Scheduled Treaty, then the British Parliament breaks the Scheduled Treaty, and Deputy de Róiste and the rest of us can take any action we deem expedient in the altered circumstances, but we cannot go through the farce here of enacting that the British Parliament shall pass certain legislation. Taking the other part of his amendment. It is a proposal to submit all questions of repugnancy to a Conference representative of the different States of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is as well to examine the implications of that amendment. It practically binds this country and this Parliament to submit to the arbitration of the Dominions any matter at issue with Britain arising out of the Treaty signed last December. I do not know whether we are willing to take that step or not. I do not know whether we ought to take it. I have nothing to guide me to form an estimate of the timbre of the Dominion statesmen, whether they are likely to take our view rather than the British view on any matters that may arise, and I do not know that it is wise to set down in our Constitution that we are prepared to leave to a Conference of the statesmen of the Commonwealth all questions arising out of the Treaty. The Treaty is an international document. Some time ago there was a proposal that we should put in a kind of contingent application to the League of Nations for admission, but after careful consideration we did not accept the suggestion. Our failure to accept that suggestion did not in any way forecast that in the future Ireland will not apply for admission to the League of Nations. It was because we objected to the contingent nature of the application that we objected to putting ourselves in the position where we might quite easily, and, as we consider, probably, get a snub or a slight, that we did not accept the suggestion. A Tribunal that would be competent to decide the questions of repugnancy arising out of the Treaty in the future would be the League of Nations, when Ireland applies for and secures admission to that body. I do not think we should now in our Constitution state positively that we are prepared to leave all questions of repugnacy to the Dominion statesmen.


On a point of explanation, with regard to what the Minister for Economic Affairs has said——


On a point of personal explanation, I am not the Minister for Economic Affairs.


Excuse me. As regards implementing the Treaty and Constitution, the Constitution will have to go before the British Parliament, and I think what Deputy Milroy referred to a little while ago is very essential, and part of my amendment is directed towards that. Suppose certain things are put in which we consider a breach of the Treaty. What is going to be the effect? I know that it is a supposition, but it is as well for us in this portion of the Preamble, as all the interpretation is supposed to be on the side of the British Ministers, that something should be inserted from our side to safeguard our position as well. With regard to what has been said about the League of Nations and representatives of the various British Dominions, I would have inserted the League of Nations, but the Ministry have already turned down an application for admission to the League of Nations.

Professor MAGENNIS

May I draw the attention of the Minister for Home Affairs to something which seemingly at least he has overlooked? There must be some Tribunal. If ever, and we hope that "ever" will be "never," a question arises as to whether a future piece of legislation, or any part of it, is repugnant to the Treaty, before what Tribunal is it bound to come in the ordinary order? Before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. If Deputy de Roiste's amendment is adopted, it excludes the reference to the Privy Council. It does not exclude, I think the reference of any high question of dispute to the League of Nations. I think the Deputy who moves the amendment has misconceived the position taken up by Ministers with regard to application for admission to the League of Nations. I understood that they have not turned it down. They merely regarded the matter as premature; that the Free State is not yet in a position to make such an application as would be bound to meet with a satisfactory result. There are certain conditions that have to be satisfied. For example, to take one very essential one, that the authority of the Free State is exercised over such and such determinate territory. Furthermore that the majority of the people over whom jurisdiction is claimed, habitually give it obedience at the present moment. These two are not questions which could be satisfactorily answered, and I voted with the Ministry on that occasion in favour of postponing the application for admission. It would be very much better when your Constitution is enacted, and your precise status is determined, to make application, but what I fear is that in the absence of something to the contrary we may leave the determination of matters in dispute to the Privy Council. It is quite possible that by negotiation the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council might be made more suitable, I will not say amenable to pressure from Ireland, but more suitable for our purpose, and I daresay a pious hope will go up from the Ministerial Benches to that effect.


There is no reason whatever for assuming that the question of the repugnancy of any law will go before the British Privy Council, or that the validity of any law will come before the Privy Council. If a dispute arises before Ireland has entered the League of Nations, as it is the intention of the Ministry that Ireland shall, I presume the dispute will have to be arranged, as disputes frequently are, amicably arranged between Nations.

Professor W. MAGENNIS

On a point of explanation, I quite agree there are certain disputes that could be settled, and ought to be settled in the way that the Minister has just indicated, but there are questions where aggrieved parties, for instance big Companies or Syndicates, may impeach the law and insist upon having it decided. It was that sort of thing, rather than a question that could be amicably decided between two powers, that I had in view. I say that by way of explanation and not by way of argument.

Amendment lost.


The two Amendments in my name come next. We have so many amendments proposed to this Preamble that I want quite briefly to indicate what I judge to be the salient parts of these two amendments of mine to the two Articles, respectively, and to put them before the attention of the Ministry. Before doing so I wish to make reference to the statement of the Minister for Agriculture, that these questions are, after all, matters of personal preference and taste, and are merely questions of words. The Minister for Local Government referred to them as poetic or non-poetic in the degree in which a contest has or has not been carried to the point of successful victory. Actually, however, it is the case, as was proved in other countries, that more legislation is conducted in respect of the meaning of Preambles than almost of any other part of a Constitution. I think that too much attention cannot be given to getting the Preamble, both in the decorative and practicable parts, as good as possible. It is with a view to that practical amendment and improvement —where I think improvement and amendment are required—I move these two amendments. The first reads:—

"We, the people of Ireland, acknowledging that all power comes from God, and in our resolve to renew and re-establish our State and to found it upon principles of freedom and justice, in order that Ireland may take her place among the Nations of the Earth, do hereby declare Saorstát Eireann to be established, and we give it the following Constitution."

The second runs as follows:—

"Provided that the Constitution which follows shall be construed with reference to the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland thereto annexed (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Scheduled Treaty') which are hereby given the force of law. Any amendment of or any law made under the following Constitution repugnant to any of the provisions of the Scheduled Treaty shall, to the extent only of such repugnancy, be absolutely void and inoperative, and the Parliament and Executive Council of the Irish Free State/Saorstát Eireann shall respectively pass such further legislation and do all other things necessary to implement the Scheduled Treaty. Provided always that the Scheduled Treaty shall be deemed to include any modification thereof, or extension thereto, by mutual agreement or acceptance since the making of the Treaty, and also any further development or extension of the constitutional status or usage and of the self-governing rights and privileges of the several nations of the Community of Nations mentioned in the first article of the Scheduled Treaty."

The parts of these that I suggest are really of practical importance are that instead of saying the Dáil does something, it should be placed upon the ultimate deep foundation, and the old words consecrated in these matters should be used, "We the people." It is not merely a question of decoration; it is not merely a gesture, although it is an exceedingly important gesture. Actually in the United States certain laws have been interpreted in the light of the introductory words of the Preamble, which are, "We the people." If the words had been "We, Congress," the actual interpretation of certain laws— and I could give the Ministry references if they want them—would have been different. I think it would be an improvement in the Preamble if a statement were to be made to the effect that Ireland does take her place among the Nations of the earth. With regard to the second part of the Bill, the differences are these:—The second sentence runs: "Any amendment of, or any law made under the following Constitution repugnant to any of the provisions of the Scheduled Treaty," etc. I have eliminated the words "if any provision of this Constitution is in any respect repugnant" for this reason, that I assume it should be our business on each side now to decide what is repugnant in the Constitution and what is not, and when we have come to that decision, to let that, at least, be removed from the sphere of future legislation. The other part is the addition given in the words that I have at the end of my amendment. I will read them:—

"Provided always that the Scheduled Treaty shall be deemed to include any modification thereof, or extension thereto by mutual agreement or acceptance, since the making of the , and also any further development or extension of the Constitutional Status or usage and of the self-governing rights and privileges of the several nations of the community of nations mentioned in the first Article of the Scheduled Treaty."

Now, these words, or words equivalent to them, are of the first importance, for this reason: The Schedule becomes part of the Constitution. If it should happen, with more amicable relations in future, and with a certain amount of trust and confidence that I hope years will engender, that England were to decide to give over one of the four reserved parts of our territory to us, she would be unable to do it without compelling us to the necessity of a constitutional amendment, * because the Treaty has become part of the Constitution, and therefore an elaborate process of constitutional amendment is necessary before there can be any give and take in respect of what is not only at this moment a document of accommodation, but what will continue to be a document of accommodation for every year that passes hereafter. And in order that, subsequently, we may not require constitutional amendments, I therefore suggest that some such words should be included, and to them should be added what I have embodied in the sentence, a sentence by which any further progress in status, or any further attainment of privilege in any part of the community of nations should be made applicable to Ireland, and should be made applicable by expressed statement at this moment.


With reference to the first Clause of Deputy Figgis' amendment, I do not know that we can stand for it from the point of view of substance. For instance, I do not know exactly what it means to say, that we resolve to renew and reestablish our State. I do not know whether that refers to the Gaelic State or the Irish State of the time of Brian Borumha. Then coming further down, where we talk about taking our place amongst the nations of the earth. There is no doubt that we get near free nationhood through the Treaty and we have the means in it, I believe, of getting to free nationhood, but I think that the Clause as suggested by Deputy Figgis from the point of view of taste—and I think it really comes to that—is not so good as the first Clause of the Preamble, as found in the draft. It really is very much a matter of preference of words, and one can hardly say more about it than that a certain form is preferable to another form. With regard to the second part of the amendment any modification by agreement would certainly modify the Treaty. It is not suggested either in the Constitution that the Treaty, as it stands, is a thing for all time, and I think that all of us take it for granted that modification of the Treaty is possible. If the Treaty is modified by mutual agreement, I do not see that this Clause prevents us doing anything which would enable us to take advantage of the modification. The word "repugnant," which Deputy Johnson found to be a little weak, or which he thought might not cover absolutely every contingency, is perhaps a useful thing here. If the Treaty is modified by agreement, then any legislation in accord with that modification cannot, I think, be held to be repugnant to the Treaty. If the word was not as good a word as we would desire, it is very suitable from this point of view. I think that the amendment is unnecessary; I think that it does not provide for any difficulty that is likely to arise or that, in fact, can arise. The adoption of this second suggestion means the departure from an agreed form, and while changes and wording might possibly be got, by re-opening negotiations, to any agreed form, unless a very strong reason is put forward I think it is undesirable that the agreed form be altered. Now, in the first part of No. 2 this does not in any way improve the agreed form, and in regard to the second, it does not make an alteration that can be regarded as a necessary alteration. We do not want it to be taken that we regard the question of the Treaty as part of the Constitution being too rigid. I think that this desire to add commas and full stops, and to make something that is designed to be everlasting, is not in accord with the point of view that a great number of us have. The idea that we have in regard to "the law, practice and Constitutional usage of Canada," is that the status of Canada is a growing status, an undefined status, and a status that cannot be definitely ascertained without reference to the future. We think that there would be no amendment or no modification of the Scheduled Treaty, necessary to enable us to take advantage of future developments. Then the provisions of the Scheduled Treaty which have reference to various Territorial provisions are not actually part of the Constitution. They are undertakings which we make at the moment, but they have no reference to status of the Free State or to our Constitutional machinery. There is no need to put any proviso in the Preamble, having those particular undertakings in mind.

Professor WM. MAGENNIS

I regret that it was only just a few moments before Deputy Figgis moved his amendment that I had the opportunity to read it. When I did read it I found so much in the latter part of his amendment No. 2 that resembled what I had thrown out as a suggestion to the Minister for Home Affairs, that in consistency and fairness, I think I ought to support the amendment—at least to that extent. It is rather a pity that the Minister for Agriculture's visits to this Dáil are so much like angels' visits—few and far between. He delivers himself of his heavenly message, and withdraws before anyone has an opportunity to deal with it. There is a great deal of the "I am Sir Oracle" about his pronouncements, and "when I open my lips let no dog bark." He told us that all this discussion which is occupying our time this evening was merely a matter of words. What is any creed or article of faith but a matter of words. How many men have gone to execution for words and official interpretations of words? It is quite easy to say a thing in one form of expression which might be interpreted as the equivalent of another, and yet be wholly different. While he was speaking I thought of a well-known story, which I ought to apologise to you for repeating. Someone repeated to a lady, who was an aspirant for operatic honours, that A.B. had said of her that she had a heavenly voice, and the lady, flattered, asked: "How sweet of him: did he really say that?" And the other, who had a delicate conscience, said: "He did not quite say that your voice is heavenly; he said your voice was unearthly." Now, I would recommend the study of words to the Minister for Agriculture, especially when he intrudes himself into discussions of the high importance and consequence that we are engaged in now. I rather like the "poetry" of Deputy Darrell Figgis' first amendment, which excites derison in some of our colleagues. I like the poetry that declares all power comes from God. I should like to see in the Preamble something like what we have in some new Constitution of the European States—some such words as: "that whereas, under the blessing of Almighty God," and so on, a phrase that recognises that we are not altogether atheists in this Island of Saints. Furthermore, I might read this statement that "it is founded upon the principles of freedom and justice," as, indeed, the introduction of the element of the Gaelic State. I was reproached by a member of the Drafting Committee that he saw very few amendments from me on the paper intended to create the Gaelic State. Well, here is one of them. As regards the second part, "that the Scheduled Treaty shall be deemed to include any modification thereof or extension thereto by mutual agreement or acceptance," I quite confess that we could not very well put that into the Constitution, because we could not declare a subsequent Treaty to be embraced in the scheme of the earlier Treaty, because the later Treaty may be of a kind to make that impossible. But with the last part of the declaration I am in thorough agreement, because it is equivalent to that suggested by myself earlier in the evening, that is, "any further development or extension of the constitutional status or usage and of the self-governing rights and privileges of the several nations of the Community of Nations mentioned in the first Article of the Scheduled Treaty," shall accrue to Ireland. I still persist, unless that, perhaps, it is out of order to return to what is already being debated——


You are in order.


I think it is most essential to have the declarations of the Ministers embodied in this Constitution. On a previous occasion I have already heard the Minister in charge of the Bill declare that his interpretation of the clause, "the laws, practice and constitutional usage of Canada" was the interpretation that gave us any benefit. The Minister for Local Government, for whose pronouncements I have unaffectedly great respect, has said the same thing again. What I fail to understand is that Ministers stand up and declare in this place that the meaning they put on these words is such and such, and yet when invited to put that meaning into the draft Constitution they shrink from it. What is the reason? We are told that there are certain things that it is inadvisable to mention. Then why mention them? Why have this esoteric doctrine? Though they say England will be hampered, yet they declare in one breath that Ireland is entitled under the Treaty to whatever growth in Constitutional privileges that the Dominions shall develop, but we are not to go outside and say so. One Minister says he is tired of hearing apologies for the Treaty. And before he has done he apologises for the Treaty and talks about its limitations and the duress under which it was accepted. And a colleague of his gets up and repeats precisely the same thing. Now there should be no need of apology for the Treaty. But some such words as those of Deputy Darrell Figgis's amendments should go into this Preamble because it will be said that Ireland's status was fixed and crystalised on December 6th, 1921, that the Constitution which was enacted by virtue of the Treaty is a written Constitution; that such and such were the terms of that Constitution. The Constitution which was easy for Canada to develop is an unwritten Constitution because the population there was originally a colony which was an offshoot of the Mother Country; the men who made Canada were loyal British subjects. They were Scotchmen and in a smaller proportion Englishmen who developed the land in that colony, and they did in that colony precisely what in earlier years similar men who exiled themselves to America had done for the American Colonies. They developed it from a colony into a State, and they have made, by their British sense of constitutional right, a Constitution similar to that of the Mother Country. Now Canada, with a British population, always regarded as an offshoot of the Empire, and as a pillar of strength to the Empire, and so many thousand miles away from Downing Street, was able to develop an unwritten Constitution. But we are within 2½ hours' steam of the great naval stations of Great Britain, and it would be very difficult to develop an unwritten Constitution under these conditions. Therefore, it is all the more incumbent upon us, who, but a while ago were regarded as rebels, who have just concluded a Treaty of peace with Great Britain, and who are being watched carefully, and whose pronouncements as to rights are being examined closely with microscopic eyes, and whose wordings of the Constitution have been submitted to the closest consideration of the expert criticism of the best brains Great Britain has in her service, to take express pains now to declare what our interpretation is of our rights under the Treaty. I quote the words of the Minister for whose words I have so much respect, that in a case of certain disputes the thing can be settled amicably. If there be any dispute here, then let it be settled amicably. We are adjourning for a week. In less time than a week this matter could have British opinion expressed upon it. I shall be told, no doubt, that that is a slavish proposition. But it is not more slavish than to have had to bring this Draft Constitution over for the consideration and revision of the British Cabinet. That had to be done. I do not blame the Ministry for doing it. I never blamed the Ministry for doing it. I blame no one in this Dáil, and no member of the Ministry for that. It was an unpleasant situation for them, and they were forced by the stern logic of necessity to do it. But there is still room for negotiation on this point, and I do maintain, Sir, that if we let this go by default, we shall be accused hereafter of lacking in vigilance and lacking in spirit.


With reference to putting our beliefs about the interpretation of certain words into black and white I have only to say this: there is a certain door, and we believe it is open. We are not going to push, we believe here that if it should chance not to be open that pushing should cause it to be more securely bolted and locked.


That was not the matter that I was dealing with in this Amendment, which I will postpone, and ask the Ministry to consider it carefully; and I ask them to consider it carefully in respect of certain statements made by the Minister for Local Government. He stated that the Treaty was not a thing for all time. I agree. If the Treaty had not been brought in and made equally a Constitution document; it could be revised—it could, in his words, it could be possible by mutual agreement to do that. But when it is brought in, and brought in as part of the Constitution, you cannot modify it by a Constitution agreement. Subsequent to that Agreement, you have to go on and get new agreement, and that is what I am trying to prevent. He said the Treaty was not designed to be everlasting. I agree, and that is the reason I introduced this form of words in order that it should not be everlasting, but if you bring it in and make it a part of the Constitution, which is designed to be everlasting, as every Constitution is ever designed to be everlasting, it is bunreacht, it is fundamental, and it will be harder to change that, whereas by the very nature of the Treaty it should be easier to change it than ordinary law where it would be a matter of degree. I can give one practical instance. Subsequent to this Constitution being adopted Ulster, —that is, the Six Counties,—will have an opportunity of deciding whether they will come in or go out. A Boundary Commission will be appointed. It is stated in the Treaty that that Boundary Commission's findings will be obligatory. They need not be obligatory in the Treaty if we and the people in the North agree to make certain alterations here and there in order that there may be accommodation on each side, but by that time the Treaty will be put into the Constitution, and therefore when they, the Boundary Commission, will be obligatory, it will have to be down to the last comma. The Minister for Local Government says it is not easy. I venture to suggest if he looks carefully into this he will find it is easy, and if he suggests it is not easy I suggest, with regard to this very important question, that he should make assurances doubly sure, by any form of words that will at least give some protection in the matter and give some protection where I claim there is no protection needed. On another part of the question the Ministry says here, if any progress is made in respect of any of the co-equal members of the Community of Nations, that progress and that advantage made by them will naturally accrue to Ireland. It is not stated so here, and will not be unless we say so now, and I believe if we say so now we will have behind us not only our own claim, but the entire claim of the entire Commonwealth that desire to see such a thing brought about; and I believe that this proviso will be acceptable to the people across the water, and, at any rate, it ought to be suggested. But with regard to the Scheduled Treaty and the change of the Scheduled Treaty, I feel perfectly convinced unless we allow every latitude for alteration and modification we will find accommodation and modification have been precluded by making the Treaty part of the Constitution document.

I am not at all satisfied that the case made for this amendment is a case that ought to commend itself to the Dáil. It appears to me that there is a peculiar sort of suspicion about our actual status, and that in order to bolster up something which is insecure this particular Preamble must be put in. Now we have entered into this Treaty of agreement with England either in good faith or with certain reservations—that we have a certain suspicion about the goodwill of the English people in making this Treaty with us, and that we have in our minds a certain suspicion regarding the limitations that are in the Treaty or limitations which will be imposed, and that we have all the time at the back of the mentality that supports the amendment before the Dáil some sort of bulwark in the other Nations of the Commonwealth, and that upon them absolutely our whole security and our whole position rests. If they support us, and if we can get whatever developments, as they are called, equally that other nations get, then we will be safe. As far as my standard of position is concerned, it is that in the very first Article of the Constitution our stability is as a co-equal member of the Community of Nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations established. It is not that it was; it is not that it will be at some future indefinite date; but it is as a co-equal member, and upon that position of equality I am perfectly satisfied that nothing like suspicion regarding that fundamental principle that is given expression to there is justified unless you have in your mind some suspicion regarding that position; but there is no necessity for this, unless some agent of one or other of the Commonwealths desires that each one of them would get the position of development such as we will get, or such as any of them would desire to get in any future Conference that might be held. I am perfectly satisfied that any future development that comes to Saorstat will come by reason of the push which is in the Irish Nation, and not by reason of any step-motherly affection or solicitude that will be given us from any other members of the Commonwealth, and that is the situation, and that is they stand without looking for support to somebody else. The first part of the Preamble suggested does not appear to me to be any great improvement upon what is down here. In the one case it states "the people of Ireland." Now, we represent the people of Ireland; this is their organisation and institution which they have set up. It would be rather a difficult proposition to get the people of Ireland assembled all together in one plain and to listen to any one voice to represent the Nation, and the usual method in any country is to get an assembly together, and in this country the premier assembly is Dáil Eireann, and Dáil Eireann constituted as a constituent assembly acknowledges, if you like, on behalf of the Irish people, that all lawful authority comes from God. The second part I do not like, for reasons I have stated, that there is a sort of suspicion lurking at the back of our minds that the position we have got under the Treaty is an unstable one. I object to that. I take it our stand is in the first Article of the Constitution. I have implicit confidence in the Irish Nation and in the Representatives of the Irish Nation in the future working from that position to safeguard the national interest and to secure the integrity of the Nation. If it should happen that the Six Counties will opt out, and that they subsequently should express a desire to come back, no insuperable obstacle is presented in this Constitution to prevent that happening. There have been difficulties already in matters of that kind. The real difficulty of the present instance is solved by the Treaty. A very difficult situation was solved by it, and this would not be by any means as difficult a situation. We are living in times when, perhaps, respect for human life is not what it ought to be, and we are living in times when possible negotiations or suggestions or methods may come for modification of the Articles of the Treaty as they stand. I am against any such modification. If the Northeast should opt out, there is in the Treaty special machinery which will deal with the extension of the Saorstát. On that principle this Government is going to stand or fall, to get the last ounce out of the Treaty, in so far as that is concerned or as far as any other clause in the Treaty is concerned. No interference will be permitted with that clause in the Treaty which deals with the setting up of a Boundary Commission, in accordance with the Article which sets forth what should be done in the event of the North opting out. No modification of that should be allowed, and it would be quite easy, I believe, if this Article were passed, that such a modification could occur in the event of certain members of this Dáil being removed or any other such event happening. As I have said, I have perfect confidence in the Irish Nation working out its own destiny, with or without the help of any other Members of the Commonwealth, and I am satisfied that whatever real progress will be made will only be made by reason of the effort that will come from this country. I think that putting in this clause here would give rise to doubt in our ability to work out our destiny and for that reason I cannot support it.


Is the amendment withdrawn?


Yes. I do think that the Ministry should consider that the making of the Treaty a Constitutional document is very important and a very dangerous step to take. The President referred to what would happen if the Six Counties—to use his own word—opted out. I do not think it much matters whether they hop out or do not hop out. What is more important is that the President seems to regard it as an unmodifiable document, whereas the Minister for Local Government speaks about modification. I think it desirable that modification should be possible, by mutual agreement, but by making the Treaty a Constitutional document that cannot occur, and I think it should be made possible.


The Amendment is withdrawn by leave of the Dáil.


The last Amendment at this stage is, I think, with regard to the title. I have raised it before; certain Members of the Ministry and muself have discussed this matter.


There is no Amendment.


"To omit all the words after ‘A Bill to enact a Constitution for Saorstát Eireann.'" It is unquestionable that the Constitution does implement the Treaty, but the Constitution does a good many other things and I think it would be very invidious to choose one of these things to the exclusion of all others. It is not the main purpose of the Constitution as I conceive it and as other Members conceive it. The main purpose of the Constitution is to give a frame of government embodying freedom for the Irish people.


We are considering the Preamble. We will consider the title afterwards. We have covered the amendments on the Preamble. We will take the Preamble, therefore, as proposed by the Minister for Home Affairs, and then take the question of the title as a separate matter.

Motion made and question put: "That the Preamble stand part of the Bill."