This new Order of the Army Council is intended to be a Stand-Clear Order, and to make people definitely stand clear of the National destruction that is going on at the present time, if they do not want to be chargeable with it, and if they do not mean to be punished for it. To hear some of the talk that we hear at the present time, as regards what should or should not be done as a matter of policy to meet the present situation, and some of the talk that there is as to the present Government and the Army not justifying itself by the success of its efforts—one would think that nobody's memory went past to-day or yesterday. I wonder if there is anybody whose memory carries him back to 1916—to the Post-Rising period of the year, and to what were the circumstances of that year, and to what were the circumstances of that time, and what were their own thoughts and their own convictions, and to the circumstances of 1917, 1918, and 1919. In 1920 I was challenged by two members of the then Cabinet as the result of the death in ambush of three policemen down in Cork. I was challenged by them that I would have to answer for my very great responsibility in allowing such a thing to happen. As late as 1920 it was the conviction of certain responsible public men then that the Irish Volunteers would never be to England any more than a threat, and I was told that by my, it was alleged, giving my sanction, at that time, to the killing in ambush of three policemen in Cork, that I was permitting action that would bring disaster on the whole of our people. That was 1920. In 1921, the people who a little more than 12 months before did not think that the Volunteers could be anything but a mere threat to England, headed by one who considered in the beginning of 1921 that we were going too fast, that as we had not the elements of victory by force in our hands that we should play for time—headed by one who thought like that—these people told the country in 1921 that they were fit to beat England and that they should tear up this present Treaty and that they should accept war as the alternative. By a very narrow majority the representatives of the country saved the country from making a declaration to that effect and involving the country in the consequences of that statement.
The result was that the minority turned to harass the people. If your memory goes back to the early days of last year, to the conditions that obtained in Clonmel and in other parts of the country where private property was interfered with to a very grievous extent, to the conditions that obtained in Dublin when your public buildings were occupied, your public property was being interfered with, and your property was being accumulated to meet the war with England, when the pinpricks on the Irish people had developed such a state of affairs here that the English would have to step in again. Contrary to the very clearly felt opinion of the people and to the clearly stated opinion of its representatives a minority in the country were driving the people into war and have taken an attitude which is perfectly plain to the Government, and, I am sure, perfectly plain to this Dáil, that if the people were not satisfied to go to war well they were going to make war on the people until they would put them into a position that they would have to accept war. Every means, by threat of force or otherwise, that could be thought of to press young men into their ranks to take up that particular attitude were adopted. As I say, young men were threatened to side with and to take part in the irregular forces. This is a specimen of one of their letters. It is addressed to the Irregular Captain of his Company and it is written by a young man who is now in Richmond Lunatic Asylum. He said:—
"I regret very much at my having to resign from the I.R. Army, for which reasons I here state:
"(1) As the Bishops and Clergy of the R.C. Church, to which I belong, have proclaimed that any man using fire-arms, raiding or entering premises, are committing murder, robbery, etc.
"(2) I would not take up arms against my fellow countrymen until such time that the majority of the country would point out that they were wrong. I am not going to join anything until that is proved, and then I am willing to take up with the right again. But if I am by the I.R. Army entitled to punishment for refusing to carry out such duty, I am prepared to meet with it, even death itself would be preferable rather than to shoot down my countrymen, which it has to be proved whether they are in the wrong yet and that will be proved by coming vote of the country."
That young man, having written that letter, was subjected to such methods to get him to destroy the lives and the property of his countrymen that the effect has been to drive him into a lunatic asylum. Another letter from a person so circumstanced is:—
"I'm a prisoner here and was wounded about 6 weeks ago... It's no use in going into details as you're aware of the facts of that ambush long ago. Well, sir, there is one thing I am innocent of and that is the blood of a National soldier or civilian didn't stain my hands or trouble my conscience. I always asked the Mother of God to save me the greatest of all crimes, the taking of human life. I'm interceding to you who have the power over life and death to show mercy to me and may the Great God be mereciful to you when your time comes. If I am spared I intend going into some Monastery to serve Him Who died to save us all. I've paid for my experience as I am suffering pain and have spent many a sleepless night. I ask you for God's sake not to make this appeal public as I know my life would not be worth much to me then. I'll never again handle a gun, and oh, sir, I again ask you for mercy, and I ask you for the love of God not to expose me. I am prepared to take my most solemn oath for the truth of any statement I make here."
Gradually we are beginning to know by what methods young men are held by the Irregular Forces and young men are driven to do the appalling destruction which is being done in the country. We are challenged that the results of the Order introduced here in September and put into force by us since have not been such as to justify themselves. Well, that is a matter of opinion. The results have been that in many districts men have thrown aside their arms, and they tackle their work of destruction now with one or two of them carrying a revolver or two to fire shots in the neighbourhood of places where they are carrying out the destruction to hold up any parties that may be in the neighbourhood whilst the rest of the party throw tins of petrol into a house to put it on fire or lift a rail in the darkness to let a train run off the rails. We have got a number of men to surrender their arms; we have a driven a number of arms into the earth where they will rust, and we have, in our opinion at any rate, been justified in recommending to the Dáil that these steps were necessary. We are, in our opinion, justified in recommending to the Dáil that additional powers be given to us.
In one of the recent memoranda issued by Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff, the following paragraph occurs:—
"The maintenance of discipline is the first duty of Officers and they will take special care to see that no matter what tactics the enemy descend to, the honour of the I.R.A. will be preserved inviolate."
Mr. De Valera in one of his recent Proclamations states:—"The principles which Republicans are defending are by their nature irreducible and not open to compromise. Victory for the Republic or utter defeat and extermination are now the alternatives." Now the principles that guided us during the last three or four years—the fundamental principles—were that no Englishman and no man other than an Irishman had a right to interfere with us in the management of our affairs. I am not an historian, or a very deep student of history. History was not allowed to present itself to us in a very attractive form long ago, but I do remember a French writer writing of William Tell and saying that Tell had not as his objective the freeing of his country from the foreign yolk; that he did not know whether Austria had or had not the right to rule Switzerland; but that he knew that a man had been unjust to a man, and that a man had been forced to cast an arrow close to the heart of his child, and he knew that the perpetrator of a deed like that should be killed. It was then that he conceived the thought of killing Gessler. Our own experience of the last four or five years, or longer, without wishing to exalt our reason or our thoughts into eternal verities, is enough to let us know that it is proximate injustices that touch and enter into the lives of the individual members of our people—that it is only these proximate injustices that in the case of a nation subjected to the government of another country are able to drive the people to the very terrible alternative of arms for the freedom of their country. It was only the proximate injustices of the R.I.C. and the English military here in Ireland that drove our people to accepting the arbitrament of arms. We find ourselves here to-day the Government of a country in which the proximate injustices that our people are up against by being in the hands of a minority endeavouring not to rule this country, but to drive it into war, are greater than the proximate injustices that were up against our people at any time during the period of British occupation. The reaction of those injustices must be, and will be, and is, the reaction to those injustices in any other cases in history and the steps that the people are taking to-day, and the steps we are taking to-day, to crush that injustice against the individual lives of our people and against the life of our nation as a whole, are the natural reaction to such injustices. If you take a country town of four or five hundred or four of five thousand inhabitants, with a certain amount of wealth to keep the life in its people—wealth dependent upon the property in the neighbourhood and the railways running into it—and you have half a dozen of the young fellows of that town, by whatever ideal illuminated, going out at night to destroy the railways and destroy property, and if some local wiseacre advises them to do it, and draws sketches of how rails are to be taken up and how the bomb is to be made and exploded, and if a couple of women in the place copied these diagrams for them and carried their messages and helped them in their work, what are the inhabitants of such a town to do with such a body who cover themselves by arms and threats against individual members of the community, and go out to destroy the means of living of that community? They cut the town away from being any part of the life of the country; and what can these inhabitants do to crush these people out? Faced with the ruin and the destruction that is definitely being brought on our country by people who are committing the destruction round us at the present moment there is only one thing you can do with them, and no other thing has been shown either to the Government or to the people of the country, and that is to crush them out. Now, every step that has been taken by the Irregulars in their work of injustice and in their work of destruction has driven us to take further steps to conquer them, and the only alternative to taking these further steps is to let these Irregulars have a free run of the country, let the people suffer without interference, and leave the country to be put into the position of accept ing war with an outside country. It has been stated that within the past few days there has been very serious destruction all round the country, and that it is a reflection on the Government. It may be a reflection on the Government, but it is certainly a warning to the Government that very serious steps have to be taken to deal with it. In every part of the country practically, within the last few days, the workers on the railways have been threatened in various ways and by various modes.
"Notify your union that unless a guarantee is given within two days from date of delivery of this note that the following are not conveyed by train, crews on military engines will be fired on by our troops:—(1) Enemy troops, whether armed or unarmed; (2) enemy intelligence officers; (3) supplies of all kinds intended for armed troops; and (4) communications with the enemy.—(By Order), O.C."
These have been served in Dundalk, Gort, Clonmel, and practically all over the country. The idea is that a more determined effort is to be made to destroy railway communications in the country, and in the words of the Assistant Chief of Staff of the Irregulars, "to make the people squeal for peace." Yesterday's report on the railway situation contains such items as these:—"Great Southern and Western Railway —Molahaffe and Gortatlea stations have been burned to the ground, and it is understood other stations have also been burned, but the company are unable at present to obtain confirmation. The Newmarket branch which was opened this week is again closed, owing to the line being broken. The Carrick and Tipperary branch is also again closed. Rails removed and chairs broken between Ballyhale and Thomastown—night 13th and 14th inst. Similar damage to permanent way between Ballyhale and Mullinavat—night 14th and 15th inst. Attempt made to burn bridge between Borris and Ballywilliam, 13th inst. Permanent way damaged at following places:—Between Tubber and Gort; at Cahir and Clonmel stations; between Tipperary and Cahir; between Cahir and Clonmel; at three places between Clonmel and Kilsheelan; at two places between Carrick and Fiddown. Kilsheelan signal cabin has been burned down. Ardsollus station raided, 40 yards of permanent way blown up. Permanent way damaged between Charleville and Buttevant, and overbridge between same stations damaged. Two rails taken out of line, 150 chairs broken and approach walls of bridge knocked down and the stones built across the line between Dundrum and Limerick Junction.
On the West Clare Railway—The Manager reported that on the night of the 15th instant Corofin station was raided, all books, invoices and documents being burned. The flooring of two cattle wagons was burned and an attempt made to burn the signal cabin. Lahinch station reported to have been completely burnt down. Telegraph instruments taken away. Two lengths of rails and sleepers taken out at Moyasta.
Midland Great Western Railway— The 8.25 train, Mullingar-Clara last night was stopped by armed men at Streamstown station. The passengers were taken out of the train and the train crew taken off. It was then sent into the break previously reported and where an engine was derailed. The engine is badly damaged and some of the carriages broken up. Hoseleap and Balla stations have been raided.
The other night at Lisduff, before the up mail train arrived, the under bridge was blown away. The train carried about 150 passengers, but by one of those miracles which happen to heavy, fast moving bodies from time to time it actually jumped the break. The whole train jumped the gap where the under bridge had been blown away. That war is being made on the railways. It is denied from time to time that members of the Government are to be killed. On the 30th November, six days before Sean Hales was killed in Dublin and before the Deputy Speaker was accidentally shot, this Order was issued by the Chief of Staff:—
(1) All members of Provisional "Parliament" who were present and voted for Murder Bill will be shot at sight. Attached find list of names.
(2) Houses of members of Murder Gang and active supporters of P.G. who are known to support Murder Bill decision will be destroyed.
(3) All Free State Army officers who approve of Murder Bill and are aggressive and active against our forces will be shot at sight; also all ex-British Army officers and men who joined the Free State Army since the 6th December, 1921.
And there is the following note:—
"On day of first execution an order to shoot at sight members of P.G. was issued in Dublin 1/2 Brigades, since an opportunity was not got to put same into effect."
With regard to the Civic Guard it says:
(1) On and after the 1st December, '22, you will take measures to prevent Civic Guard functioning in your area. Tactics will be adopted according to local circumstances that will force them to leave area or get armed, when they will be then dealt with same as Provisional Government armed forces.
Transport is to be interfered with. No one is to be allowed to have a motor car, a motor cycle, a motor lorry, or a push bicycle, without a permit from the Irregulars, and if they keep them without a permit from the Irregulars they will be confiscated. These are the circumstances under which the Government are called on to govern. We have already the powers for dealing with people caught in the direct carrying out of these acts, but we have not and we want powers to enable us to prevent and to deal with people whom we catch sitting in a back kitchen four or five fields away from the roadway in the County Clare or the County Tipperary writing out instructions to kill people, to burn property and to destroy railways. These communications, as you see, are of the utmost importance, and on this account I will impress on you to give them your very careful consideration. We want powers to deal with people who draft imposing diagrams of railways and issue instructions as to how they are to be destroyed and who say: "You will find that it will be easier to get your men to do this work if you provide them with copies of these diagrams and these instructions." We are dealing with a situation in which a large body of people are out on a campaign of destruction. There is no alternative to deal with those drastically and it is not too much to say to people who are luke-warmly but definitely assisting Irregulars in their campaign, "You must stand clear as a matter of discipline, seriously affecting the life of the country; you must put away from you all fire-arms; you must put out of your possession all documents inciting people to destroy the country, and put away things like uniform that have been taken and are being used to gain treacherous access to our posts." The Army has been referred to frequently in English papers. English papers are generally out for a definite purpose, to attack the credit of this country whether by attacking its Government, its financial position, or its Army, and statement have been made with regard to the Army purely for the purpose of painting the Government outside Ireland, where it wants to have its credit strong, as weak and leaning upon broken machinery, and creating inside in Ireland a distrust of the Government and Army, and internally in the Army creating suspicion and division. The Army is in the position at the moment that we have come to a point in which according to our planned arrangements we are able to perfect its organisation. That does not mean we have found the material that we have been used to rely on in the Army inferior and unsatisfactory and that we are looking for material which has been trained outside Ireland and away from an Irish atmosphere. We are come to, in the process of the development of the Army, the colour point at which we get suddenly the reframing of our organisation. We are dealing quietly with the matter. We have come to the point when you handle the solution drop by drop, but none of the drops we are handling come from the East. You are not asked to put those powers in the hands of different people from those in whose hands the previous powers have been. You are not asked to put them in the hands of people who have lost confidence in themselves or who are not perfectly satisfied that there is much to be satisfied with, considering the extraordinary position in which we find our country—much to be satisfied with in the Army and in the way in which the Army is developing, and in the grip the Army is getting on the situation. Acts are being committed that flash themselves in the Press. Acts have been committed which are very destructive to the material wealth of the country and very upsetting to the routine of the country's life, as in the destruction of the railways, but if any of you know anything of how easy it is to do those acts of destruction you will not be surprised that the Army cannot always have its fingers here and its fingers there. Nevertheless, I am satisfied that there is much to be satisfied with in the Army and in the arrangements and reorganisation we are carrying out, and which will be announced in due course, but which will not be wrong from us either by gibes or criticism or even polite enquiries. I am satisfied that the Army will deal well with the situation. We have already made arrangements that certain units of the Army will be placed definitely at the work of assisting the civil departments of the Government, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Local Government and Agriculture, to secure that their work goes on, that the decrees and orders which they issue will be definitely carried out; and if we do propose later that, in view of the extreme steps which the enemies of our country here are taking to destroy the country, and, as they say, "to prevent any other Government functioning in Ireland except the Government of the Republic," or what they call the Government of the Republic; that if, having in view the length they are going to to destroy the country, we recommend that you employ an additional number of Army forces to deal with the matter we will be able to show you that those Army forces will be handled by men who are capable of doing their work.
We are quite aware that in asking you for these powers we are asking for very wide powers, but we are quite aware also, and I am sure that you are aware, that in the exercise of the powers given to us already if we erred in their use at all we have erred on the side of clemency, and I am satisfied that in one or two areas we have so erred. But you may be satisfied that while we cannot come forward to you with the certificate of wisdom that the proposer of the resolution asked us to bring we shall deal as wisely and as clemently in the exercise of these new powers as it is in us to do. The Government know that they are facing people, and that they are dealing with people, to whom, perhaps, the threat of death is nothing, or very little, and that they are dealing with people who are used to facing death, but considering that these people are definitely out to destroy, materially, this country in order to force it into war with an outside people, then you have all the more reason to give the Army drastic powers to deal with the situation if these people who are destroying the country are not afraid of death.