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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 26 Jun 1923

Vol. 3 No. 34



In moving the second reading of this Bill I would ask the Deputies to take stock, briefly, of the situation which confronts the Government at the moment, and the situation with which the Government is likely to be confronted for some months to come. We are passing out from a year of turmoil and strife—I hesitate to call it war—a year of organised crime and sabotage on a scale unprecedented in this country, and we are passing out from that without any explicit submission to principles upon which this State must rest, and upon which all civilised Society rests. Arms have not been surrendered; they are secreted throughout the country, and we are told by people of eminence in the ranks of those who had been opposing the Government that those arms are not by any means definitely put aside; that there is no submission to the principle that the policy of this country must be decided by the majority of the electorate; and that if the will of the majority of the electorate fails to coincide with theirs in the coming elections, then this thing which they euphemistically call war, this campaign of crime, will recommence. There seems to be very little appreciation of the fact that liberty won by such methods would be a contradiction in terms; that a Republic, assuming it were possible to secure it by methods like those, would be a Republic only in name, and would be a Republic of slaves; but contradictions are the stock in trade of these people. They say in effect, "We must win liberty through tyranny; we must build by destruction, we must ennoble and redeem by degradation." We must win for Ireland a glorious name amongst the nations by acts which constitute the very negation of Christianity, and by acts at which any self-respecting pagan would stand appalled. Well, it seems to me that it is very necessary finally to convince these people that they cannot have it both ways, and that they cannot have the protection of the Courts when, in fact, their attitude is one of challenge to the whole basis of the State and to the Courts.

We ask in this Bill power to continue in internment such people as it is considered necessary to continue interned, in the interests of public safety, even after the date at which the Court may have decided that a state of war or armed rebellion no longer exists, because the peace, such as it is, is a false peace The calm is a calm of exhaustion and not of peace, and not of submission to the will of their fellow-citizens, and not in any way a recognition of the right of their fellow-citizens to decide in their collective wisdom the national policy. There are many thousands of prisoners interned, at the moment, and I have no doubt that many thousands of these could be released without serious prejudice to the public safety. Equally I have no doubt that many thousands of these could not be so released, in the existing condition of things in the country, without serious danger to the general public. Now, it will be in the recollection of Deputies that an offer was made that if arms were surrendered, and if an undertaking were given that the majority will of the citizens of the country would be the sheet anchor for the future in our political affairs, the prisoners would be released—all prisoners. There would be an amnesty even for men against whom it would be, no doubt, possible to secure proof of serious crimes—even these men would be released.

That offer was labelled "disappointing"; it was emphatically rejected, and I want Deputies to concentrate for a moment on the fact that that simple undertaking which embodied the minimum demand which the State could make upon a citizen—an undertaking to refrain from unconstitutional action against the Government, and to refrain from illegal onslaughts on persons and property of one's fellow-citizens—has been rejected, and very emphatically rejected by the great mass of the prisoners. In drawing it up, in the early stages of the hostility, the Government was anxious to boil down its demands to the minimum. It asked for no abandonment of principle or political conviction; it simply asked for an undertaking that political action in the country would be within the limits of the law, and that the legal rights of all citizens would be respected. That undertaking, as I say, has been refused. It embodied at once the maximum and the minimum that this Government has been standing upon since its institution, and that the Provisional Government before it stood upon.

Is the Minister referring to individual refusals? Is he referring to undertakings called for from each individual prisoner?


I am referring to that form which was customary to present to prisoners, and the signing of which was a condition precedent to any consideration of the question of their release. There were some hard names slung out, on the first reading of the Bill. A Deputy said it was out-Heroding Herod. Now, as far as I remember, Herod was responsible for the slaughter of the innocents. No slaughter is proposed by this Bill. Six months detention, six months internment, under conditions that we have read of recently in descriptions from people who have undergone it, is proposed.

Will the Minister guarantee that they will be all out at the end of six months?


I guarantee that this Bill asks for no more than that. Herod, I think, dealt with the innocents. I do not know that it will be claimed for these people that they are innocent— innocent of serious crime against their fellow citizens and against the country as a whole. Now, I quite appreciate that there is a mentality which considers that any stone is good enough to throw at a Government dog, and if he happens to be a dog whose duty it is to do a good deal of barking, and a certain amount of biting, so much the better. There has been talk here of lámh láidir and die-hardism, but no country ever won out to greatness by pettifogging or mealymouthedness; and we have a grave duty to discharge to the people—to those now living in this country and to the people who have yet to live in this country; and from the day when we first met round the Cabinet Table we have endeavoured to discharge it. This Bill is brought forward in strict conformity with what we regard to be our duty to the people of the country.

What is the alternative? To release upon the country, which is barely finding its feet, barely passing out from a stage of national hysteria to conditions of peace and order, and to some kind of appreciation of civic responsibility, thirteen thousand men—or the great majority of them at any rate—who throughout the last year have been engaged in the most heinous and disgraceful campaign of crime that ever disfigured the pages of this country's history—turn them out to man the hidden guns again, if the people's vote in the coming election fails to coincide with their particular fancy or political preference. It would not be a conscientious discharge of our duty. We ask for power to hold such of these men as we consider advisable, in the public interest, to hold, and we ask for power to intern people who are abusing their liberty in a manner detrimental to the public safety.

Section 1 of the Bill provides that the Minister shall have power, on the report of a responsible officer, to intern three classes of people, people in respect of whom there has been received a report from a responsible officer that there is reasonable ground for suspecting (a) such a person of being or having been engaged or concerned in the commission of any of the offences mentioned in Part I. of the Schedule to this Act, or (b) in respect of whom such a Minister shall have received a report from the Military Authorities that the detention of such person is a matter of military necessity in the present emergency, or (c) in respect of whom such Minister shall have received a report from the responsible officer or from the military authorities that the public safety is endangered by such person being allowed to remain at liberty.” The “Responsible Officer” is defined in the Act as “An officer of the Military Forces of Saorstát Eireann not below the rank of Captain, or an officer of a police force established by or under the control of the Minister for Home Affairs not below the rank of Superintendent.”

There is further in this Bill, a provision dealing with two particular offences for which the Court shall impose the sentence of whipping. The offences are the crimes of robbery under arms, and arson. These are the crimes which strike at the root of society, at the root of peace and security within the country, and, if the country is to go forward in peace, it is absolutely necessary that crimes of this kind, cowardly, heinous crimes, should be stamped out. The punishment that ought to be attached to particular crimes has always depended and must always depend upon the prevalence of that particular crime. In one set of circumstances this penalty, for instance, might be excessive and might be properly described as retrograde; in another set of circumstances it is eminently justifiable, for the penalty to be attached to these crimes must be a penalty that will be effective as a deterrent. There are other crimes to which, if they became general, it would be a fitting thing to affix this penalty, crimes that fortunately for ourselves seldom occur in this country, and when they do occur are admittedly a disgrace. Within the last year arson has become the stock-in-trade of the idealist. Robbery under arms became routine, almost normal, and the partition between robbery under arms and murder is a very slight partition indeed, depending purely on such accidental circumstances as the courage, or lack of courage, of the individual whom it is sought to rob. We had seriously under consideration the question of attaching to that particular crime the capital penalty. If the people's homes are to be made secure, if a man can go into his house of an evening with any kind of confidence that he will be undisturbed throughout the night, we must stamp out that offence, the offence by which a man with a gun, and by virtue of his gun, seeks to rob from his neighbour the fruits of his thrift or of his enterprise.

Now this is a world of facts, and we have to face them, and we face the fact that throughout this country within the last year, the moral standard has been lowered and there has been such a wave of degradation that many people have lost all rudder and compass to guide them in matters of right and wrong; they have thrown the moral law to the winds, the law of God as well as the law of man, and there are throughout this country at the present moment more arms and explosives hidden away to be accessible to people than there ever were before. Now you have that combination of facts—a plentiful supply of weapons and a very general demoralisation—and in face of these facts one can draw unfortunately only one deduction, and that is, that this particular crime of robbery under arms will be common here unless the Parliament of the country, facing the facts, affixes a penalty that will be an ample deterrent. Men will try to live by their guns; men have lived by their guns for the last year, and men have got out of the way of work and have lost the spirit of work, and will attempt henceforth to secure the fruits of labour, without labour, unless they are checked.

I come in a responsible spirit to this Dáil to point out these facts, to give an intelligent anticipation of the state of affairs that will prevail here in this country, and as the Minister primarily responsible for law and the observance of law, for order and for decency of life here between man and man, I ask for these special penalties to attach to these particularly heinous and cowardly offences, and I record my opinion that lesser penalties will not suffice. Imprisonment as a punishment, and still more as a deterrent, has become blunt. There are further provisions in the Bill. In Section 6, power is asked where there is wholesale and flagant defiance of the law in the matter of the seizure of land, the wrongful and illegal seizure of lands by placing stock upon them, to enable the Executive to have such animals seized and sold, devoting the proceeds in compensation to the person whose rights are infringed and providing that the surplus shall revert to the Exchequer. There is no intention of using these powers where there is a dispute as to title, or in any case of purely casual trespass, but in many counties throughout last year you have had numerous cases of flagrant defiance of the law, a direct challenge to the State, by people with no pretext whatsoever of legal or moral title, but as simply going in on property, and saying that law or no law, State or no State, they wanted that property, and meant to hold it. That constitutes a problem that is of concern to more than the individual owner whose rights are infringed.

It is a challenge to basic things. It is a direct challenge to the State, and the State, whilst such a situation exists and while challenges of that kind are the commonplace rather than the exception, must take and must ask from its Parliament very full powers to deal with people who go out in that spirit to seize with a strong hand what is not theirs. As I have said on a previous occasion, if the property laws are wrong let them be amended here or repealed here; let there be new legislation. But the people must rule themselves. They must rule themselves through their representatives. Without order there can be no progress, there can be no security. It is little use talking of huge unemployment figures and endeavouring to rectify that truly deplorable state of affairs if we fail to take steps that will conduce to a feeling of reasonable security in which men may invest their capital in undertakings with a reasonable prospect of securing a return. We cannot condone or connive at challenges of that kind to the whole property code of law, or fail to stamp out once and for all illegalities which bring about a situation where every man who has £5 or £10 or £20 is holding on to it, is afraid to let it out, to put it into any enterprise because challenges of this kind are so common, because he knows not what day he will be told, "You do not own that at all except by virtue of some antiquated British Act of Parliament; I own it, and the man round the corner owns it; anyone but you owns it."

There are Sections in the Bill—I cannot say to what extent they will be effective, though I agree that they are proper —which enable steps to be taken to secure the restitution of stolen property. Section 9 provides punishments for persons found in possession of stolen property, and Section 10 lays down provisions which might enable stolen property to be traced:

If and whenever an Executive Minister shall apply to a District Justice and allege that any land, investments or other property (including money) in the possession or under the control of any person was bought by such person with or otherwise represents or is directly or indirectly derived from—

(a) any stolen property or funds; or

(b) any public funds, or funds which ought to be in the custody of a Minister or a Government Department,

the District Justice shall, unless the person having possession or control of such land, investments or property, satisfies him that such allegation is untrue, order the transfer of such property, in so far as it consists of land, to the Irish Land Commission, and in so far as it consists of investments or other property, to the Minister for Finance.

There are, as we know, through the country people who have blossomed out into affluence that is at least suspicious, people who 12 months ago were men of straw and who have bought farms on the proceeds of their plunder. Deputies are aware of it, and Deputies have spoken to me personally about it. It would be a public scandal if steps were not taken to deal with a situation of that kind and to make people who have blossomed out into that kind of affluence account for their sudden good fortune and show cause why they should not be considerably poorer than they seem to be. Banks have been robbed throughout the country, Post Offices have been robbed, private individuals have been robbed, and so far as is reasonably or humanly possible the Executive proposes to get after the robbers and to secure that the stolen property will be returned. Section 11 is simply an extension of that principle to enable bank accounts to be held up and payments suspended at the request of the Minister for Finance until such time as investigations have been held showing the source of the money and showing the ownership.

Section 12 of the Bill provides for a change of venue in criminal cases on the certificate of the Attorney-General that he believes that a fairer and more impartial trial can be had at a Court and in a county to be named in such certificate. It enables the venue of a particular trial to be changed in the case of criminal offences. That, unfortunately, is likely to be necessary. There are still counties where such a state of terrorism and intimidation prevails that a jury cannot be found to convict, and juries have acquitted in the teeth of absolutely overwhelming evidence of guilt. The hidden arms will, no doubt, be a factor in the situation in intimidating weak jurymen whose public spirit is not sufficient to overcome their private fears. In fact, the hidden arms may be taken to be a factor in the whole situation which one cannot afford to ignore, and if it becomes necessary to bring it finally home to certain people, who rather take delight in quibbling, that they cannot have it both ways, that is one of the objects of this Bill.

We are at the moment responsible to the people of the country for their peace and order and prosperity, so far as it lies in the power of Parliament to bring about prosperity, and we ask for power to continue in internment people who have been bludgeoning their fellow-citizens for a year, who have been burning their homes, who have been wrecking the railways, who have been trying by any and every means to garrotte the country. We cannot see fit to turn loose in a single day on the country, after the Courts may have decided that a state of war is at an end, 13,000 people of that kind. There will be releases. Steps are being taken to sift the prisoners, to say who amongst them could be safely returned to his home and to his occupation, but anything like a wholesale release of these 12,000 or 13,000 people is not in the interests of public safety, and we would not be discharging our duty to the people if we did not come here to the Dáil and ask for powers to continue such of these in internment as we may think it advisable to continue in internment.

We could not agree that it would be in accordance with our task and our responsibilities simply to release these men the day after the Courts would have decided there was actually no state of war or no state of armed revolt. We have at the moment no statutory power for their detention. Their detention has been based throughout the last year on a military situation; they have been detained as a matter of military necessity, and that military necessity would end when the Courts would decide there was no state of war in the country. Now, Deputy Gavan Duffy dealt with this matter on the First Reading, and, rather as if he were making a brilliant discovery, he positively chortled over it. This wicked Executive, he says, wants to forestall Habeas Corpus, which ends when the Courts will some day say they have no legal power to hold these prisoners. Precisely, the Court will some day say we have no legal power to hold these prisoners unless the Dáil meanwhile enacts that those of them whose liberation is considered dangerous shall be held. The Courts have held that they are precluded by the military situation from inquiring into the legality of the acts of the army, but presumably the day will come, whether near or far, when the Courts will not hold themselves so precluded, and if the Dáil in the meantime has not given to the Executive legal and statutory power to detain these people, the Executive will have no alternative but to order their release. That is the position, and there is no dark secret about it.

The Minister omitted to make that clear at the opening. It is only in reply to me he admitted it.


I endeavoured to make that position perfectly clear. There is, as I say, no secret about that. Thirteen thousand people are at the moment held by virtue of military necessity based on a war situation. We have not legal power to hold them, but we consider that it would be highly dangerous and highly disastrous for the future of this country that these people should be released en bloc a day after the Courts would have decided that the state of war, strictly speaking, had come to an end. We have been building, or endeavouring to build, for the last year. There was a good deal of wrecking, a good deal of wantonness, crime and irresponsibility, and, to a large extent, we were placed on the defensive. Even on the defensive we have been endeavouring to build, endeavouring to lay the foundations for the future peace and stability of this country. We have forged from out the provisions of the Treaty a Constitution for the country, a Constitution which gives the Irishman in Ireland as much power, and as much control in the management in the affairs of his country, as the Englishman has in England. We have had to build and organise an army, a police force, and a measure of land purchase is now in course of receiving legislative sanction. We have overhauled the Judiciary, and we are prepared to table a Bill providing new machinery of justice more in accordance with the needs and requirements of the people. We have been building, but the edifice, such as it is, is not secure.

The country is at the moment only half policed, and it will take some time before the normal police establishment is out through the country in the 807 stations it is proposed to set up. We would not be doing our duty by the people of this country, or doing our duty for the future of this country, if we did not tell the Dáil that we consider it is highly dangerous to release within a couple of weeks, perhaps, or within a couple of months, all those people who have been challenging democracy here for the last year, and challenging democracy by the most criminal, the most cowardly, and the most dastardly means. Words are misleading. We cannot talk of this thing as war. War is a clean thing by comparison. To burn a man's house over his head at night is not war. Simply to hack at the economic life of the country is not war. These people had all the weapons perfected by Germany in the late European war, but they were not used against the armed soldiers of the State. They were used to bludgeon, cow and terrorise the unarmed population of the country. That was not war. It has been called war. At Kilkenny recently we were told that if the people decided in such and such a way at the elections the war must go on. Habeas Corpus was never intended to be a mere trick or device to enable people who had been endeavouring to cow the civil population into subjection to their will, more effectively to man the hidden guns. Every Deputy knows that the people of this country want one thing more than anything else; they want peace, they want security, they want stability, they want a clear recognition of the fact that one man is as good as another, even if one man has a gun and the other is without it; a recognition that the unarmed man has as great a right to control the destinies and the policy of this country as the armed man, and that such arms as are in the country ought to be subject to their control and only in the hands of people who are amenable to them through the Parliament.

They do not want an election under circumstance when they can be told: "If so-and-so does not get in, very good; the arms are up the hill and they will come down very quickly." Or, again, we are told: "If you work against so-and-so, your house will be burned." Forms of Government exist for the people. What has been won here belongs to the people. No man has the right to throw it away. No man has the right to jeopardise it without the endorsment of the people of that policy. Lámh láidir and Die-hardism! If that is Die-hardism, if it is Die-hardism to say that the people of this country own what has been won by their own efforts and by their sacrifices, then some of us would be proud to own up to Die-hardism. If it is Die-hardism that no man has the right to bludgeon the people in the matter of how they will vote, or how they will decide, then some of us are not ashamed or afraid to toe that particular line. The people must rule here—an educated, self-reliant democracy, not a camarilla of gunmen or criminals. If it be necessary to secure peace, to secure stability, or to continue those men in internment for another six months, is that too much to ask from the representatives of the people whose interests we are bound to safeguard, and to whom we have a stewardship? This Bill was not conceived in any spirit of vindictiveness. Men have been led wrong; men, who were decent men, and who will again be decent men, have been led wrong along dark and criminal paths, by people to whom they gave habitual obedience. Some of the best, and a great deal of the worst in the country, rallied to that particular call. We have to deal with things in the rough. We have only to face the situation that these men are at present in an organisation, and that that organisation has at its disposal through the country weapons of war and explosives, and the means of again attempting to bludgeon and terrorise their fellow citizens. We have no guarantee that they will not be again, on their release, called along those criminal paths, and that they would not again answer to that call. In the absence of any explicit recognition of the right of the people to decide their policy, rather in the absence of an expressed denial of it, we would not be justified in releasing those thousands of men, with a criminal past, upon the country. We can make a selection. The process of releasing them will go on in an orderly way, and after proper and critical investigation; but anything in the nature of a wholesale release, merely because the Courts would come to a decision that a state of war is technically at an end, is something we do not contemplate and would not stand for. We consider that every section of this Bill, every provision of this Bill, is one, not merely that we are entitled to ask for from the Dáil, but that we are bound in a conscientious discharge of our duty to ask for. All through the last year we have endeavoured to hold the reins that were put into our hands, to hold them sanely and wisely, without bitterness and without anything in the nature of personal vindictiveness; but, at the same time, without weakness and without quailing from duty, though that duty might be stern. We find ourselves now, at the end of that year, in a period of comparative calm, a calm that may lead to a period of definite peace and stability, but we will do nothing that would risk or jeopardise the prospects of future peace and stability. On the contrary, we must do everything possible that lies in our power to secure that.

I beg to second the motion.

If one wanted to trace the genealogy of this child, one would go to Belfast to look for the father. About a year ago there was introduced into the Belfast Parliament a Bill of a similar kind. It was introduced by a speech of a similar kind. Perhaps the Minister was a little more vigorous and resolute. But the Minister there had little fear of any criticism in that House, because the people who might be expected to doubt the wisdom of a Coercion Bill of this kind, did not think it well to attend that Parliament. So, the Minister there, introducing the Flogging Bill and the Internment Bill, spoke even more resolutely about the duty of the Government, about their lack of vengeful thoughts, than the Minister for Home Affairs did. Everything that is said in favour of that part of the Bill which deals with internment, the duty of the Minister to take such powers, for fear that people at present interned might, if released, take action against the safety of the State, or that there are people at present free who ought to be interned for fear they might at some time take action against the safety of the State—those arguments are a very kindly gift to the Minister for Home Affairs in the Belfast Government, when he is asked why he is keeping the prisoners in the "Argenta" and the Larne Workhouse: "They may, if they are released, take up arms against the State. They were arrested on suspicion. They might be in sympathy with people who are enemies of the Government. Therefore, they are interned. If they are released how are we to know that they will not take up arms again? How are we to know that they have changed their hearts and minds about these political matters? No. We must keep these men in the `Argenta.' We must keep these men in prison, until we are satisfied that there is no possibility of these prisoners on their release having anything but the most kindly thoughts of the Government that has interned them." I say it is a kindly gift which the Minister for Home Affairs in the Belfast Government will appreciate to the full. I wonder what their friends will think. I wonder what Deputies will think when they are appealed to, to see if anything can be done on behalf of the Northern prisoners? I wonder what Deputies who support the Government will say when they are appealed to, to see if anything can be done to assist the Northern prisoners? Their mouths are closed. The Minister for Home Affairs has given the answer: "We cannot release these prisoners." Peace prevails, no doubt. They are boasting that peace prevails, "but we cannot release these prisoners because if we did so peace may no longer prevail. True, they have not been tried, true, we have no proof that they are guilty or likely to be guilty, we merely suspect them, because of their associations, their political friendships, because they had in years past something to do with Sinn Fein agitation, because they used to post up bills on the walls advocating the claims of Sinn Fein candidates, because they undertook actions on behalf of Sinn Fein, and it is a likely thing that these people who indulged in such heinous offences may, if they are released, take action against the safety of the State; therefore, we must keep them in internment." That is the case made by the Northern Minister. That is the case made by the Minister for Home Affairs.

Now, I am going to deal in some detail with the arguments used by the Minister and with the Bill. First of all I want to say that the Minister has repeated the statement about all they require of the prisoners being a simple undertaking. That has been repeated so often that the country has got to believe that all these people who are interned might be released immediately, provided they signed an undertaking that they would not take up arms or assist in any movement against the established Government. True, when reminded of the facts, Ministers admit that such an undertaking is merely a condition precedent to an inquiry into the question whether they are fit to be released. True they admit that when challenged. But it is repeated very often in the form that all that is required is that these people shall give a simple undertaking, which is surely the duty of every citizen, not to take up arms against the State. So often has that been repeated that people have come to the conclusion that that is the only condition that is required to ensure release—to have this undertaking given. Of course we know that it has practically nothing to say to release. It is a condition precedent to an inquiry That is to say a person is arrested, and is interned because somebody, somewhere, sometime thought that that person may be likely to take part in a movement to overthrow the State. And then they say, having interned the person, "We will, provided that this person—probably innocently arrested—signs this undertaking, inquire into his case." That is all the Minister's promise amounts to. It is well that the public should be disabused of the idea that once a person bona fide gives an undertaking of that kind that release follows, and that that impression which has been created by the frequent statements from the Government benches is quite wrong and contrary to fact. Now it will be noticed that the Preamble to the Bill makes no claim that the military operations have succeeded in bringing peace. Had such a claim been made the case for the Bill would have gone by the board. But the absence of such a claim raises the question at once, why the necessity for the Bill? If peace has not been obtained then there is a state of war or armed rebellion, and it is under the powers which the Ministers have assured us are inherent in the State that the prisoners have been interned. If that state continues, even as the Government has insisted, that the fires are raging underneath, though they do not show on the surface, that people are still in rebellion with arms available though hidden, then it is not claimed, is it, that the Army has succeeded in bringing peace? In this case there is no need to look for greater powers or extend the area over which those powers may be exercised or by whom they may be exercised. The Preamble tells us that for the purpose of suppressing such rebellion military advance forces were entrusted by the Executive Government with the task of securing the public safety and restoring order. They were entrusted by the Executive Government. Presumably the Executive Government had powers to entrust to the Army, which powers the Army had been exercising. The Minister for Home Affairs told us some months ago that the Army had these powers automatically apart from any Act of this Oireachtas. When will they cease to have those powers? At what point will those powers be withdrawn? It is not suggested that they are to be withdrawn on the passing of this Bill. We are told on the contrary that the powers are to continue and that they are to be duplicated.

These powers which the Executive has handed to the Army are not to be withdrawn. They are to be continued. They are inherent in the State. These powers of arresting and detaining without trial are inherent, we are told, and, I presume because of that, they have been exercised. They are not to be withdrawn. Why? Presumably, because a state of war or an armed rebellion continues. Hence, there is no need to duplicate these powers and hand over similar powers to the Minister for Home Affairs. Then, we are told, in a further clause in the Preamble:—"Whereas it is desireable that the civil authority should be endowed with such powers as will enable them lawfully to co-operate with the military forces in the work of maintaining order, re-establishing the supremacy of law, etc." Have they not had these powers hitherto? Is it something new that is required—that we should "endow the civil authority with power to co-operate lawfully with the military authorities." To co-operate lawfully with the military authorities, mark you. It is not now that the military authorities are executing the work entrusted to them by the Executive. No, but now the Executive, the civil authority, is to generously co-operate with the military authorities and to have their powers extended. It is a most extraordinary state of mind, I submit, for the Ministry to get into when they will come to the Dáil, ask for powers of the kind that are sought for, and preface that request by an admission that the Executive Government handed over authority to the military defence forces, and further they ask for powers to co-operate with these military defence forces, and to have handed over to them the power to govern every individual of the State, to intern, as they wish, every person because it was inherent in the State. They said, "Please give us equal powers to those which you have already condescended to agree to in the case of the military authorities."


And which the Courts will recognise.

And which the Courts will recognise, the Minister says—the powers of internment. Ministers entrusted to the military authorities powers which were inherent in the State because there was a state of armed rebellion. No law was required. The Courts had nothing to say to it. It was inherent in the State. They handed over this authority to the military. They are not withdrawing that authority. Bear that in mind. They say "We also want similar powers, but we want them in such a way that the Courts will recognise them." Is there a state of war or armed rebellion? Yes. Then, the military may do this dirty work as there is a state of war. Armed rebellion? Yes. Then the Minister for Home Affairs may do this dirty work. I say it is a most extraordinary proposition to bring before the Dáil, not merely extraordinary, but outrageous. There are some things that the military authorities did not request the Dáil to endow them with power for. The military authorities refrained from asking for power to inflict legal torture. The Minister for Home Affairs does not blush to come to the Dáil and ask for powers which even the military refrain from asking for. This idea, that having arrested ten, twelve or thirteen thousand people in a time of stress and strife and armed rebellion, when the State was attacked, and having detained those prisoners with a view to breaking the rebellion, then, having broken the rebellion, that the prisoners should be detained at the discretion of the Minister for Home Affairs, is a proposition which, I am very sorry, indeed, has been brought to the Dáil. We passed the Constitution. It was passed at a time when strife was raging, but we had the idea that it was not a good thing to detain citizens without charge, that it was not a good thing that the Executive authority should have powers over the bodies of the citizens, and we followed the example of nearly all the modern States in framing their Constitutions to ensure that a citizen arrested would be speedily tried. It is a very precious heritage, and it ought not to be treated lightly, as I fear the Minister is treating it. It is a defence against Executives and all the arguments that the Minister has used, all the protestations that it is from a strong sense of duty, could be paralleled by statements in defence of every tyrannical act, in every age in every country. The same arguments have been used at all times for coercive measures of this kind to cover up, partially, the fear that the tyrant has, and, partially, to secure his personal ends. I have not the remotest thought or suspicion that there is anything but a sense of duty inspiring the Minister, but I believe he has got on to a wrong track. I believe that his conception of the relations between citizen and State, of the responsibility of the citizen towards the State, and on the other hand of the State towards the citizen, can only be understood by a reference to ages that have passed when the monarch was a soldier and a soldier was the ruler, and all the people were not merely his subjects but serfs, at least owed feudal allegiance to him, and the Minister, consciously or unconsciously, and those acting with him have brought themselves to the state of mind which conceives of the citizen entirely subordinate to the Executive. The Executive may use their power over the persons of the citizens in such a way as they may think well, and may come to Parliament to have that power confirmed. The Bill is not really dealing with the present internees. The Army has succeeded in securing the persons of 13,000 people, we are told, and amongst those 13,000 people are a number who may be safely liberated. A great number of others may not be safely liberated, so they have to remain interned, at the discretion of the Minister for Home Affairs, or of the Minister for Defence or of both. They may not be released, because they may take up arms against the State, or they may conspire with others who may take up arms against the State. It is apparent to the Minister that there are many others at present at liberty who may conceivably take action against the State, and the Bill empowers any Army Captain of whom there must be several hundreds, and any Police Superintendent, of whom the Estimates provide for nearly 100, to arrest any person on suspicion of being, or having been engaged, or concerned in the commission of an offence against the public safety. He need not be charged with any offence. He can be detained for a week at the discretion of a military officer of not less rank than a Captain. He can be detained for a week without charge, and then the Executive Minister may think, "Well, no doubt the Captain has some reason for arresting this person, and I have no time to inquire into the case thoroughly. I trust the Captain's judgment, and I will issue an order for internment." Once arrested, there is no guarantee that the prisoner will ever be placed on trial, or even that his release can be obtained by applying to the Appeal Courts. An Appeal Court is to be set up, and the prisoner may appeal, that is to say, he may apply for liberty to prove his innocence. Now, I do not know how any person is going to prove his innocence of an offence which may consist of a secret desire to conspire against the public safety. If a Captain in the Army or a Police Superintendent says he has reason to think that this prisoner has, in his secret heart, desired to conspire against the public safety, how are you going to prove his innocence of a charge of that kind? I think we are following too closely the procedure of the Restoration of Order in Ireland Regulations. We were told that they no longer operated in Ireland, and apparently it is to the regret of the Ministers that they have not been able to say that this British law, at any rate, is one which we ought to have taken over with the rest.

Now we come to the second part of the Bill, and I want to draw the special attention of Deputies to the provisions contained in Section 5. In Section 5, Sub-section (2), we have a reference to Courts of summary jurisdiction: "Every person convicted by a Court of summary jurisdiction of any of the offences mentioned in Part II. of the Schedule, shall be sentenced to suffer imprisonment with hard labour for the term of twelve months, and to pay a fine of fifty pounds." I wonder whether Article 72 of the Constitution has anything to say to that. "No person shall be tried on any criminal charge without a jury, save in the case of charges in respect of minor offences triable by law before a Court of summary jurisdiction." Is it a minor offence that merits a sentence of twelve months with hard labour? Is that the sentence that you are prepared to give power to a Court of summary jurisdiction to inflict? I think, surely, it is not the intention of the Oireachtas to say that the Constitution had in mind minor offences of a kind which would merit twelve months' hard labour. Take Sub-section 4: "Every male person who shall be convicted of" certain offences "shall (unless the Court is of opinion that owing to the state of health or advanced age of such person, corporal punishment could not be inflicted on him without permanent injury to his health) in addition to the punishment prescribed in the foregoing Sub-section, be sentenced to be once privately whipped." There is no discretion to the Court. If guilty of robbery under arms or arson, it is mandatory upon the Court that the prisoner shall be whipped. It is not unknown to Deputies that juries find reasons for pleading for a merciful view of a case, but prisoners who are found guilty in this case shall be once privately whipped. Now, it sounds very simple, and Deputy Gorey, I am sure, would be quite delighted to act the part——


Of hangman.

Not of hangman; there is not yet capital punishment—to act the part of the man who wields the knout, and I commend Deputy Gorey to that honourable gentleman in the Northern Parliament who, when discussing this question, desired nothing so much as to employ an artist—an artist to undertake this duty of flogging. Deputy Gorey, no doubt, would be an artist in this operation. If an artist is employed in flogging these criminals there will not be much of them left to go to prison. No doubt that is a notion that would commend itself to Deputies who feel that nothing is too severe for a person who is guilty of either of these offences. I am not going to allow anybody to think that I condone in the slightest degree the offence of robbery under arms, or the offence of arson. I agree with those who say that robbery under arms is very nearly equivalent to murder, but I disagree with those who think that the revival of flogging will so change the minds of those who are capable of taking arms into the operation of theft as to make of this country a country of quietude and peace. After all, one has to think not merely of the prisoner in these matters.


Hear, hear.

One has to think not merely of the property which is stolen, or of the person from whom it is stolen: one has to think also of the public, of the person who is called upon to inflict that flogging, of the magistrate whom you compel to inflict that sentence of flogging, and of the public sense of decency in regard to the person of the citizen. For some good reason surely modern States have relinquished this form of punishment. Surely it is some good reason that has led to States abandoning flogging as a method of punishment. There has been some development in the sense of humanity, and I wonder, when it is so salutary, as the Minister suggests, as a deterrent against these two forms of crime, why is it not extended and why is it confined to male prisoners? Surely there are other persons engaged in offences against the State. Does the Minister think that this is merely an easy way of getting a resumption of this form of flogging. If it is such an efficient deterrent why confine it? Perhaps the Minister would be able to enlighten himself by reading up the Debates in the British House of Commons in 1879 and 1880 on the abolition of flogging in the British Army and Navy. Sound reasons were then adduced in favour of the abolition of that form of punishment.


For arson and robbery under arms.

Does the Minister say that it is only those persons who are capable of committing that particular kind of offence that might be deterred by a flogging penalty? Is that the contention? There is a particular type of man or woman who may rob under arms, a type which can be affected by a particular form of punishment, such punishment being lacerating the flesh. I wonder whether any examination of human nature can lead to a conclusion of that kind. If I were satisfied that the reinstitution of flogging was likely to limit or abolish this crime, I would say that it would be equally likely to limit and abolish any other form of crime. There were some good reasons, as I have said, for moving away from this particularly hideous and cruel form of punishment, particularly obnoxious to the person who is obliged to inflict that form of punishment. Not much more than a century ago the British law allowed, and not merely allowed but carried out, flogging upon women as well as men. Perhaps the Minister will be encouraged by a reference to Judge Jeffreys, who, after sentencing a woman to be flogged, said to the hangman: "Hangman, I charge you look well to this lady, scourge her soundly, scourge her till the blood runs down her back; it is Christmas and it will be cold weather for madam to strip; see that you warm her shoulders." Why confine it to men if it is a deterrent? For the good reason that it savours of inhumanity. But inhumanity may be applied to men; that is the logic of the position. I will remind Deputies that it is the Court which is to decide not only the number of strokes to be inflicted, but the instrument which is to be used. I am sure the Minister will be able to nominate some judges who would be afraid to use anything more severe than a school-master's cane, but I think he would also be able to nominate judges who would be very anxious to do what the member of the Northern Parliament advised, scourging artistically with a barbed whip. He is to decide what instrument is used. I have heard Deputies, and I have heard public men and men in private use their imagination in a way which some of these judges would be very glad to take a lesson from, and use their ingenuity in devising new forms of instruments for this operation of whipping. The Boers used to talk about the sjambok, the Russians about the knout, and the English magistrates and judges used to talk about the cat o'nine tails. We are talking about a whip. I wonder what form it will take, and whether it is the Minister's intention to bring in a schedule describing the instrument, making limitations of the kind of instrument that he intends shall be used upon these prisoners. "I prescribe copious blood-letting upon strictly therapeutical principles," John Mitchel put into the mouth of the ego in his dialogue. Copious blood-letting for the offences of arson and robbery under arms. I ask the Dáil to have patience, but whether they have patience or not, I am going to read an extract from the "Jail Journal," which is wonderfully topical, extraordinarily topical. It was written in his cell on board the "Dromedary" hulk—outside the jurisdiction.

It did not refer to this particular measure, did it?

It did very directly: "Three prisoners escaped last night from the `Coromandel,' close to my residence. They were sought for. One of the three was caught; the two others are still at large." Deputies might be familiar with this; they are certainly familiar with many incidents of a similar kind.

"If they had once got clear of the islands they would probably have reached Charlestown, or Chesapeake (as four convicts did in a common gig last year)—but their boats stuck fast upon a sand bank and she was found there abandoned this morning. The men must still be upon the islands, because no other boat is missing. To-day the pursuit is very hot; the several telegraph stations have the signal hoisted all day `Prisoners escaped.' All boats are now put under surveillance; and I suppose the unfortunate scoundrels must be taken. They will be simply flayed alive."

Then we have the entry for the next day:—

"No trace or intelligence of the fugitives. The Governor has now ordered out the troops and every cove, cavern and cedar wood in his dominions will be thoroughly explored within twentyfour hours.... They are caught and brought back in heavy irons. One of them was found dressed in woman's clothes. The Governor came this morning in give special orders about the mangling of these culprits to-morrow. It is to be a most solemn and terrific butchery. Heretofore, every delinquent was flogged on board his own hulk, but these three men are to be flayed on all the three hulks, one after another, receiving twenty lashes in each; sixty lashes in all."

The Minister says that they will be only lashed once, but the delinquent may get sixty lashes at once under the Bill. That men were lashed on three separate occasions in 1848 and can only be lashed once to-day is, I take it, evidence that we may claim to have advanced somewhat.

"Mr. Hire, the Governor's Deputy, is highly important to-day."

I did not quote that as being topical.

"He always presides on such occasions and is said rather to like them ... and holds that the Palladium of the British Constitution is a good cat of nine heavy cords, and on every cord nine hard knots.”

That might do for the Schedule of this Bill.

"On this point of Constitutional Law I differ from him. The true Palladia of that immortal Constitution are suspended Habeas Corpus and a pretended trial by jury.”...

"The laceration is finished. The gangs are sent out to their work after being mustered to witness the example; the troops who were drawn up on the pier have marched home to their barracks; quarter-masters and guards have washed the blood gouts from their arms and faces and arranged their dress again; the three torn carcasses have been carried down half dead to the several hospital rooms. Though shut up in my cell at the time I heard the horrid screams of one man plainly. After being lashed in the Medway they had all been carried to this ship with blankets thrown over their bloody backs; and the first of them, after receiving a dozen blows; with miserable shrieks, grew weak and swooned. The scourging stopped for about ten minutes while the surgeon used means to revive him, and then he had the remainder of his allowance. ... The other two men took their punishment throughout in silence, but I heard one of them shout once fiercely to the Quarter-master: `Don't cut below the mark, damn you'; I have been walking up and down my cell, gnawing my tongue."

And unfortunately John Mitchel, Tory as he showed himself frequently, did not think it wrong "to flog convicted felons when needful for the preservation of discipline, but when even felons are getting mangled, I would rather," he says, "as a matter of personal taste, be out of hearing."

I want to draw attention to the impression on the mind of a man like Mitchel and the impression created upon other people who had the mangling to do and witness the suffering and the mangling of the bodies of the prisoners. The humiliation is horrible enough, but the humiliation of the people and the machine that orders this other humiliation is more horrible still. The Minister says that this is to be a private flogging. Why? It is to be a deterrent. Would it not be a greater deterrent if you made it public? But you dare not make it public. But who will say it would not be a greater deterrent, if it is a deterrent at all, by having it public?

You are not thinking only of the individual who receives the flogging. Your whole argument runs that it is by the fear of the flogging that all kinds of people would be deterred. These people if they have not imagination enough to know that it is better to be honest citizens than to rob under arms may require their imaginations to be stimulated by the sight of prisoners being flogged and bleeding. Why do you not make it public? It would be a greater deterrent. It is because you know that it is inhuman and contrary to the spirit of the age, and because you feel that you have to fall back upon the feudal ages not merely for your policy of punishment, but for your public attitude towards prisoners of this kind. The Bill is a most retrograde step. It is in conflict with every one of the highest thoughts about the treatment of criminals. You have to recast your thoughts in regard to the purpose of punishment in prisons. Europe and America has been steadily getting away from the idea that punishment was vengeance and that imprisonment should be accompanied by physical sufferings.

To me the two parts of this Bill are in violent conflict. You have in the first part the contention that persons shall be interned, and that within certain limits they shall be allowed freedom of movement, that they shall not be punished within the internment camp, and that the internment is a preventive against the risk of persons who are suspected of being anti-social in their outlook, allowing their anti social intentions and thoughts to be made operative. You used the internment camp as a preventive with the idea, I assume, that a course of treatment there in a narrow confine, away from the common life of the country, will not only have prevented the possibility of anti-social acts, but will have modified their thoughts and changed their intentions. The idea of the internment camp is that you will assist the prisoner to come to a better state of mind in regard to his environment, in regard to the society in which he lives. In the other case you go back to that state of Society in which the prisoner is fighting against Society and Society is fighting against him. Society must make the prisoner's flesh suffer pain, to show that Society is greater than the prisoner. If you are going to make a man a good citizen by frightening him into citizenship, I say that that is reactionary and contrary to the spirit of the age, and I say that the passing of this Bill will be a foul blot upon this Session of the Dáil.

The Minister objects strongly to government by the automatic. So do I, but I did not observe the same objection to government by the automata—government by the automatic bell. When the Minister himself was speaking we had in the Dáil some eight members of his party sufficiently interested to listen to his speech, and those of us who would like to appeal to the remnant of his party who are interested in this measure find it now so small that it is not fair to put upon that remnant the onus of converting their erring brethren. Government by the automatic bell! We know that when the bell rings they will flock in to vote whichever way the Minister directs them. The Minister's speech reminded me vividly of those Saturday spasms, now happily interrupted, to which we used to be treated periodically in order, lest there should be any mistake about it, that we should know what the Ministerial mind really was. Now, I ask the Dáil, and the remnant of the Ministry's supporters, seriously to consider whether this is going to achieve the object they themselves have in view. The Minister recognises that what the country wants above all else is peace, settled conditions and stability. Does he really think that this measure is going to produce anything of the kind? I apprehend that it can only produce more bitterness and more ill-feeling than heretofore, and more determination against the Government. We are told that it is not safe, that it is unsafe, to release the prisoners. Will it be more safe six months hence? Every man knows that prison intensifies the convictions of those who have convictions, and that the best men who are in prison will be more determined the longer you keep them in. You do not change men by putting them in prison, and if it is unsafe to release these men now, it will be more unsafe six months hence. I tell the Ministry that it never was safe, in any period of history, to release a body of political opponents, and it never will be safe, if safety is to imply a guarantee that there will be no disturbance after their release. Has statesmanship been reduced to this, that the question of the liberation of prisoners is to depend upon the "more or less of safety." It never was safe and never can be safe to release a body of prisoners politically opposed to you, and I ask—is that a reason for keeping them in? I regret that the Minister for Education is not here, because I should like to ask him to give us any examples which he could draw from his vast knowledge of history, examples of repressive legislation of this kind ending in advantage to the State instead of disadvantage. I could remind him of what happened in South Africa. During the Great War there was a very serious rebellion there by Dutchmen against the British. It was put down by Botha, and I invite Ministers seriously to study the treatment that General Botha meted out to those who had risen in arms against him, and to reflect upon the effect of that generous treatment and upon the cordial relations in South Africa between all those who are in political disagreement. That was statesmanship. We were brought up to believe that the Star Chamber disappeared with the Stuarts, that lettres-de-cachet were never to be heard of after the fall of the Bastille. We were wrong. In our ultra modern civilisation we are going around the circle, and have come back to the pre-Star Chamber and the pre-Bastille stage, at which we proceed to try again the same methods that ancient history found so futile.

This is medievalism in its worst form, medievalism without the chivalry of medievalism. Where is it to lead? I could understand the Minister's attitude if this were going to lead anywhere. Let us assume the same Minister to be in office six months hence. Is there one solitary argument that he advances in favour of this internment, this continued internment, on suspicion of untried men and women which he will not be entitled to advance this day six months with as much force as he advances it to-day? Where is this leading to? Yet the Minister echoes the same desire that we all have to arrive at peace, stability and settled conditions in this country. This is not the way to get that. The Minister made a great deal of the fact that the recent peace negotiations broke down. I desire to say nothing bitter about that, but I am very deeply convinced that if during those unfortunate months that followed Christmas a greater will to peace had been shown by Ministers, and a better temper, it would have been very much easier to come to agreement with the Irregulars. I do not forget that the Archbishop of Cashel's proposals were turned down even before the Irregulars——


You would not be in order to go into the question of peace. It does not arise out of this.

I am not going into the question of peace at any length, but the Minister pointed out that the peace proposals had broken down. I am saying that that is no reason for internment, that another temper would have secured the acceptance of it. However, that is a matter upon which Deputies, I think, can very easily form their own views. We all know the facts, and we all know the deplorable failure in which the negotiations ended. I do not think it is very difficult to draw our own conclusions from those events. But I object, and object strongly, to the failure of these negotiations being made the reason for keeping men in internment for another six months and interning more men, who are at present at liberty, on the same suspicion. The Minister told us that no country ever won out to freedom by pettifogging. This, I rather gathered, was a thrust against those of us who professed to have some liberal ideas. I wonder if any country ever won out by the system of lamh laidir, by Die-hardism in excelsis, as we see it in this Bill. I have yet to learn of the country and it will be interesting information. Ministers ask that they should have the discretion. I think that in any democratic State—and we claim by our Constitution to be a democratic State —that is to begin with a bad principle. Is it not a worse principle when one knows that Ministers take these strong and bitter views that Ministers in this Dáil have expressed? How can they be fair to their political opponents? Granted they had the best will in the world, how could they fairly judge of men against whom they have hurled the epithets we know? It is more than human nature is capable of. Men whom they believe to be worthy of the title of “wild beasts” and other epithets of that kind; men against whom they cannot themselves pretend to be unprejudiced, how can it be fair that those Ministers should be the persons to judge whether or not these men shall stay in?

There is no legal independent tribunal proposed in the matter, but there is an Appeal Committee. I invite the Dáil to examine that Appeal Committee. The Clause dealing with that particular matter is enough in itself to damn the whole Bill. This is the Clause that the Dáil is invited to agree to. There is to be an appeal, if you please, to an Appeal Committee by the prisoner who does not wish to be interned, who does not think he should be interned. He goes before the Appeal Committee and what then? The Bill tells you what will happen then. When that Appeal Committee has made up its mind that a man ought to be kept in prison, then he will be kept in prison. When the Appeal Committee has made up its mind that a man ought to be let out, then the Minister can keep him in all the same. Does the Dáil realise what a fraudulent appeal this is? Whenever an Appeal Council, says Section 4, has inquired and reported on the case of any person under this Section and either (a) such Council has reported against the man, or (b) the Executive Minister having considered the report of such Council is of opinion that the public safety would be in danger by such person being set at liberty, he may be detained in custody. That is your Appeal Committee! Those unfortunate prisoners are to be told to go before a Committee which may say that they are unjustly detained and then will have no power to let them out. I would like to see some precedent for that proposal. I can quite understand that the Ministry are in difficulties over this matter, that they should have legislated long ago. But the way to get out of their difficulties is not to create fresh and greater difficulties, to take power to intern more uninterned people, and to give bogus appeals to bogus Appeal Committees. If the interests of this State require legislation of the kind I should much prefer military dictatorship. I should prefer open and naked government by authority and no Dáil at all. At least we should know where we were and would not pretend to be acting constitutionally. I may be pardoned for reminding the Dáil of what Burke once told the English Parliament, that in statesmanship it is never a question of what you have a right to do, it is always a question of what is just and politic and farseeing. I stress that word “farseeing.” I invite the Minister to take the Dáil into his confidence and to tell us frankly what he himself thinks will be the position six months hence when, if this Bill goes through, he or his successor will be compelled to come before the Dáil with precisely the same arguments we have heard to-day. No; that is not the way to cure the sore.

"It is never a question of what you have a right to do," says Burke. Has the Dáil considered whether we have a right, even assuming that were the question, of putting into law this proposed Bill? Heaven knows our Constitution is mangled enough, but, as it is, it did purport to give us some liberties. Let me remind the Dáil of one or two of them. We set out with all the solemnity of people enacting a National Constitution, that the liberty of the subject shall be inviolate. The liberty of the subject, moryah! No man shall be deprived of his liberty, except in accordance with the law. Then there was a long provision about applying to the Courts for habeas corpus. That is in our Constitution which we maintain is the basis of the law of this land. But we were not content with that. We went farther. I recollect that we inserted a provision to the effect that justice should be administered by the judges appointed pursuant to the Constitution, not by any Minister of the Executive—that justice should be administered in the public courts established under the Constitution, and not in the back parlour of any Minister. That is what we said six short months ago. Justice was to be administered by our judges in public, and we emphasised it by stating that they should have power to inquire into every matter or thing, civil or criminal. Now we, the same people, who passed this pious Constitution are asked solemnly to repeal it, and say that people shall be tried, or if trial is an inept word, shall be detained in custody, their cases privately investigated by a Minister acting on private information, privately communicated to him on the suspicions of this or that officer. It is a flat, a direct negation of the Constitution that the Dáil passed. I could understand scrapping the Constitution. I could understand it if the Minister could come to the Dáil, and show that he was going to advantage the country by so doing. The Minister talked with great indignation against the crimes that have been committed, and about the designs of those who have committed them, or those suspected of being their friends, but he did not tell us where this measure is going to lead us. I tell him that it can only lead to further bitterness, to further instability and to putting off the peace that we all want. I look upon this measure as an open confession of failure of Die-hardism, their open confession of failure, because they told us the lamh laidir was going to win the fight. Now that it is won, so far as arms can win it, we are presented with a perpetuation of strife in this Bill that would have done honour to King John. Yes, I see some Irish Baron coming along one of these days and exacting another Magna Charta from our new rulers.

I do not want to say anything upon the flogging question with which Deputy Johnson has dealt so fully, beyond reminding the Dáil of the Ruhr where the French have had to deal with every kind of sabotage, and where, as everybody knows, they have been acting with considerable bitterness against an enraged population. I am not now concerned with the merits. Although very severe measures have been taken, and although the French are a militarist people, no attempt has been made at anything of this kind, because the French have too high an opinion of the value of world support. I know this flogging is defended on the ground that it is the only effective means. I deny that it is effective, and I deny that it is the only means. I invite the Minister to give to the Dáil the opinion of American criminologists who have gone into the question of deterrent punishment. I invite him to examine the statistics proving that this kind of punishment makes the kind of criminal out of whom you can get nothing, whom you cannot make into a normal man. I invite him to read the evidence that has been collected in America as to the proper steps by which to take out the kink from the criminal. They are not steps such as these. Let it not be said we have soft hearts against criminals. It is not a question of soft hearts. There is something in human dignity after all which ought to prevent even a Ministry in distress from adopting measures of this kind. That is also going back to the middle ages. Before the Minister asks the Dáil to accept such a measure he should give evidence that this kind of thing is going to do what he says it will do, whereas we know it is against all the expert evidence that has been collected across the water as to the right method of dealing with criminals.

The best amendment that can be proposed to that part of the Bill is to have the flogging done in public, when there would be such an outcry that the Government that would persist in it would be hurled from office the next day. Let the Minister put "public" in and we will see how long his Bill will last. I feel that, in the interests of peace, this Bill is certain to create so bad an atmosphere as to make a settlement much farther off, that it is our duty standing, as we Deputies do, between the Government and public opinion, to do everything possible to protest against it and prevent it passing into law. Ministers may take the other view. They say, and have said from the beginning: "We represent the people." Let me make them this offer, this challenge if they like. Will they tell us here and now that they will put nothing in the way of submitting this Bill to the people by way of referendum? I know what the people will say. Ministers may say they have different knowledge. Very well. If they represent the people let them put this Bill to the people by way of referendum and we shall see the result.

Deputy Johnson has pretty extensively analysed the Bill in its main features. With his criticism of it, and with Deputy Gavan Duffy's criticism, I am in entire and hearty agreement. I do not intend to go over the exact ground that both those Deputies traversed, but I do want to remind the Dáil that when, under another regime, repressive measures—or, as we used to call them, coercive measures— were brought in, they were brought in because the ordinary law was considered by the Government of the day to be insufficient to deal with certain things that were happening in the country. I do not intend to discuss the merits or demerits of those Coercion Acts, nor am I going to discuss whether it was right and natural and proper for the Irish people to resist them and to persist in the course of action those Acts were designed to frustrate. That is altogether outside my intention. I do want the Dáil to remember that every Coercion Act that was brought in to deal with any agitation or any massed or individual action on behalf of the people here in Ireland, was brought in on the excuse, at all events, that the ordinary law dealing with particular offences did not inflict sufficient punishment upon the people in Ireland who were committing those offences. The Minister does not even allege an excuse like that. I want to ask the Dáil, as I asked before, whether there is not in the very big code of laws the Saorstát has taken over, a law sufficient to deal with all the things that are likely to happen within the next three or four months, or at the present moment. What evidence has the Minister that certain measures he is taking, certain powers he is giving, nay, certain commands the Executive is giving, to judges and jailers, are going to have the effect that he suggests? I think, in spite of all that the Minister has said, that if you take the two offences specifically named, which are to be punishable by whipping, you will find that within the last twelve months, and perhaps the last two years, and if they occurred again within the next year or two, they have been or will be committed by two classes of people. I know perfectly well that the Minister wants to say they are committed only by one class of people—criminals against the law. I submit that is not correct. I submit they are committed, or have been committed, in the first place, by people who, however mistaken their tactics, however perverted their patriotism, have been actuated by a political motive. I submit that those people have gone and burned certain houses and seized certain moneys for the furtherance of a political movement which had taken arms unto itself and was advancing its aims by arms and by means which, without any shadow of doubt, were illegal. Taking advantage of all that, there were, there are still, and there probably will be, many people simply actuated, not by any such motives, but by a desire merely to feather their own nests, to carry out, perhaps, some personal revenge, or to make big banking accounts for themselves. Now, if whipping is going to be a deterrent, its only hope of success would be in the case of the second class of people. Deputy Gavan Duffy has said that if a prisoner has got strong convictions, imprisonment or internment generally strengthens those convictions, if anything. If I know anything at all about political prisoners, it is that any kind of personal ill-treatment while a prisoner, instead of persuading the prisoner to desist from the course he has adopted, only strengthens him in his intention to resume what he has been at. I have not any doubt at all that whipping or flogging will have that effect on those who are being punished for one or other of the crimes committed with political objects. It may have some chance of success with the other type. I do not know. Even had it, I should be opposed to it, because I think it is inhuman and indecent, and I think a fair test of it has been put by the two Deputies who have spoken. One Deputy asked why it should not be done publicly. Because there would be such a howl of indignation from one end of the country to the other to find the Executive authority of the State abusing the body of one of its prisoners in that way, that the punishment could no longer be continued. Another test was suggested by Deputy Duffy.

It might have been well if the Minister had not left to the judges to determine the particular instrument that would be used. If the draftsman of the Bill had defined the instrument in the Bill, we would have got at the back of the mind of, at least, the draftsman, if not of the Minister who is proposing the measure. I think that nowhere, except in Belfast, has any Minister come forward in recent years with such a vicious proposal as this particular proposal. It was not unexpected in Belfast, and yet the very supporters of the Ministry up and down Ireland—inside the six counties and outside the six counties—were unanimous in their condemnation of that particular measure. The Minister turns round and says "Things were done under the British Government and things could be done under the Belfast Government but they are different things altogether when they are done under an Irish Government." It makes them all the worse when they are done under an Irish Government. How many cases of arson, may I ask, have occurred within the last five or six weeks? There have been some cases of robbery under arms, but how many burnings of houses have there been? How many does the Minister contemplate will occur in the next four or five months? And has not the Minister got powers under the ordinary law to deal with these things? Of course he has. The laws of the land stand. Some of those laws are pretty severe. Under one Act, indeed, arson became a felony and is punishable with flogging. That is no reason at all why we should adopt that particular measure.

It is, I think, true that amongst modern States the British system is the only system that permits such a method of punishment. The British law allows it, but the French law, and the German law, and the Italian law do not. The United States Federal law does not allow it, but I believe some of the State laws of America do. There are, however, things that happen in some of the States of America which are not at all to be copied by this State. I do not think even the Spanish law allows this form of punishment. It is part and parcel in the modern world of the British system. We are asked not only to accept the British system, but to accept the very worst features of the British system. God knows we have got bad enough features of the British system in our country, and we should, at least, keep out those we are not compelled to bring in. We are not compelled to bring in a system of this kind at all. The Minister has not given us any reason why we should adopt this particular method of punishment. I do not suppose that to-morrow morning the "Freeman's Journal" will dare to republish the cartoon which it published twelve or eighteen months ago when the Flogging Bill was brought into the Belfast Parliament. No! this is the Parliament of the Saorstát and that was the Parliament of the Six Counties. You can fire artistic bombs at the Parliament of the Six Counties but do not touch the Parliament of the Saorstát. Deputy Gavan Duffy referred to the Appeal Councils. He pointed out that although a Council may decide that a prisoner should be released, yet the Minister can still detain that prisoner. I need not repeat his argument that that is going outside at least the spirit of the Constitution. Why cannot the Ministry entrust that to the judges? Are the judges so untrustworthy altogether that that work cannot be entrusted to them. We know that running through the mind of the Minister, and at the very base and foundation of this Bill, is the position that may be created through the action of the judges. Surely, when he is making the new Act, he could allow the judges to be the interpreters of that Act as of all other Acts. Surely, when he doubts the judgment of the Appeal Councils specified in the Act he could trust the judges of his Courts to deal fairly and squarely with the doubt. Certainly, I could not trust the Minister who would father that Bill to deal fairly and squarely with the doubt.


What doubt?

The doubt whether a decision come to by the Appeal Committee to release a prisoner or not should go in favour of the prisoner or whether it should go in favour of the Executive. Now who are to be the Appeal Councils? There is to be one legal gentleman and he is to be certified by the Attorney-General as a gentleman of legal knowledge and experience. Who are the others to be? Are they to be Judges, are they to be Ministers, are they to be responsible officers as defined in the Bill? We do not know. Nobody knows. I wonder if we are even to hear their names. Are they to be a permanent institution or are they to be ad hoc Councils? Are they to be appointed now and to carry on and to await the appeal that will be made to them or are they only to be appointed when a prisoner decides that he will make an appeal? We do not know. Deputy Johnson has referred to that part of the Bill which imposes upon a prisoner the onus of proving his innocence. I do not think that is known to the law anywhere, can be known to the law anywhere, and I do not know that even the Attorney-General could certify that it is known to the law. Whatever excuse there may be made for it when the Courts find themselves unable to enquire into the actions of and the arrests by the military there can be no excuse for embodying it in a piece of deliberate legislation. A responsible officer certifies that he has a certain suspicion about somebody else and the Minister is empowered to act on this suspicion. The prisoner has to prove he is not guilty, or going to be guilty, of what the responsible officer suspects. I wonder if the responsible officer suspected that the Minister had purchased a hat out of money that the responsible officer suspected that the responsible Minister had stolen, what method of proof that he was innocent would the Minister adopt? I put the question fair and straight to the Dáil or to any Deputy in the Dáil: how, in a case like that, is he going to prove his innocence? The thing is impossible; it does not work. It has so long been recognised as impossible in all codes and under all jurisdictions, that it has been decided practically everywhere that the onus of finding guilt is on the prosecution because you cannot, in practice, prove a negative. It cannot be done. Come again to a feature which bobbed up in an earlier piece, not exactly of legislation, but of repressive action, “such person might be detained in custody in any place within or outside the jurisdiction of the Saorstát.” Deputies will remember when the Military Regulations came before the Dáil that there was provision made for internment outside the Saorstát, and a responsible Minister told the Dáil that the Ministry were in negotiation, I think he said, for the purchase of an island. I do not know whether the purchase ever came off. I do not think that anybody was sent outside the Saorstát, but it comes in again unless the Ministry is intending to take another leaf out of the book of repression of Belfast, and perhaps bring the “Helga,” when she is repaired, back to the Saorstát, and send her out on the high seas with a cargo of internees, such as Sir James Craig has in Belfast Lough on the “Argenta.” Or have the negotiations for the purchase of the island, mentioned by the Minister previously, been completed?

If they have, I am sure that the Minister would not be sorry to accept an amendment to this that would enable flogging to be done in that island, and not within the sacred jurisdiction of the Saorstát. It might at least remove that indignity from the Saorstát. I have been searching the second part of the schedule to the Bill to find out what offences in that schedule come under Sub-section 2 of Section 5, that Sub-section which permits the conviction by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction. Deputy Johnson has referred before to that, and pointed out quite rightly that the Constitution contemplates only what may be called minor offences being dealt with by a court of those particular powers. Now, Part 2 of the Schedule refers to "having possession without lawful authority of any article of clothing, equipment or accoutrement or any arms or ammunition belonging or issued to any member of the military or police forces of Saorstát Eireann; of putting on or assuming without authority the uniform or any part of the uniform of any branch of the military or police forces of Saorstát Eireann; of assuming the name, designation or description of any rank, or of any member, of the military or police forces of Saorstát Eireann for the purpose of doing or procuring to be done any act which the person assuming such name, designation or description would not by law be entitled to do or procure to be done of his own authority; of wrongful entry on and retention of possession of land without colour or pretence of title or authority; of robbery under arms—that is to say, robbing or attempting to rob while armed with any offensive weapon or instrument; arson—that is to say, unlawfully setting fire or attempting to set fire to any house or other building whatsoever, whether public or private; unlawfully injuring or destroying or attempting to injure or destroy any property whatsoever, including standing trees and crops; of interfering with or preventing, without lawful authority, the lawful occupation, use or enjoyment of any land or premises; of illicit distillation, or having possession or control of any illicitly distilled spirits or any illicit still or any articles or materials for illicit distillation; of selling or offering, exposing, or having for sale any illicitly distilled spirits; of aiding, abetting, assisting in, or encouraging the commission of any of the offences mentioned in this Schedule, or helping in the concealment or escape of any person guilty of any such offence."

Which of those offences, referred to in Sub-section 2 of Section 2 are likely to come before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction? Some of them, it seems to me, are not minor offences, and the punishment for them, certainly I think in effect, produces a new definition of the powers of Courts of Summary Jurisdiction. There is another Section—Section 11—referring to the recovery of money in bank, representing stolen property or funds, if there is suspicion that such funds are directly or indirectly derived from any stolen property or funds, or so forth.

at this stage took the chair.

How is anybody to arrive at proof that any money he has got has not been indirectly derived from stolen property or stolen funds? How many hands must the sum of money pass through from the original thief before the derivation of it becomes not an indirect derivation from theft?

Ask the Minister for Agriculture.

He seems to know. There is no definition in the Bill, but it is quite open to any responsible officer to say that the particular sum of money or particular piece of land which has come into the possession of a particular person, say in the County Cork, is derived from theft because he suspects it was money taken out of the bank, some time or other, perhaps 12 months ago, in the County Dublin. It is not to be supposed that monies stolen like that are going to be kept out of circulation by the thieves. Now we come in Section 12 to the change of venue. It was one of the measures the British in their Coercion Acts had to adopt in Ireland because they could not trust juries in one county, and they took care to go into a county where they could get a reliable jury from their point of view to mete out punishment to the alleged criminal.

The Minister says it is because some counties are so much disturbed that you cannot trust the people. There has been no trouble for a considerable time with the Courts anywhere, and, as Deputy Doyle remarked yesterday evening, such a state of peacefulness over most of the country has given confidence to the general body of the people, and, I have no doubt at all that if the Ministry only attempted to show the people that they were going to administer the ordinary law, the people would rally to the administration of that ordinary law, and that the Minister could have perfect trust and confidence in the citizens of any county in the Saorstát exercising their duties. But, no. He must have this old coercive measure, because he is afraid to trust them, just the same as, in other respects, he is afraid to trust the people of one county and has got to change the venue to another county. Then there is the Responsible Officer. He is defined as "someone not below the rank of a Captain in the Army, or of a Superintendent in the Police Forces." I am not prepared to give everyone in the Army of the rank of Captain a responsibility of this kind. I know many of them; I know that the judgment of many of them is as good as the judgment of the Minister. I should not have any hesitation in advising, in many cases, anybody to entrust themselves to their judgment, but it does not apply, and, from the very circumstances of the case, it cannot apply to every Captain in the Army. It is not their job, and it has not been their job. Their job has been of quite a different kind. A number of them did particular jobs while the Army was exercising its full power, but now you require for that responsibility a type of mind and of judgment that must proceed much more cautiously than at any time within the last twelve months. I think I should be inclined to say the same about Superintendents in the Civic Guard. I do not think that, as a body, they should be entrusted with this great responsibility. Then, we come to the last Clause, and, like the last Clause in a certain previous Act, it is about the only one that anyone can welcome. It terminates the Act in six months. But the Dáil has no guarantee that its like will not be continued after the six months in some way analogous to the way in which the life of the Bailiff's Bill was continued. It may not be possible to sandwich it in between the clauses of the Finance Bill.

The Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

The Deputy suggests it might come under the Expiring Laws. That would be about six months from now, so that there is every chance that we might see it embodied in the permanent legislation of the Saorstát. I should think it would be as safe an event to bet on as to bet on the favourite to-morrow at the Curragh; and, indeed, if it has all the virtues the Ministry ascribe to it, it would be a virtuous act on the part of the Ministry to put it into permanent legislation. Why not give an example of good government for the whole world? Why not teach these barbarian Frenchmen and Germans and Italians that they are out of date, that they do not know how to conduct government, or how to deter criminals? I suggest that the Minister improve it by something even better than the sections that are in it, and ask the Minister for External Affairs to be good enough to draw the attention of other peoples to this magnificent achievement of the first Session of the Dáil! Now, seriously——


Hear, hear.

I know perfectly well that the Minister thinks I am incapable of thinking, and yet the Minister knows perfectly well that I am not incapable of thinking. I will leave it at that.