It will be recollected that one of the first problems that confronted the Provisional Government after its establishment was the matter of organising a police force to take the place in the country of the Royal Irish Constabulary which it was agreed with the British Government would be disbanded. For that end a committee was set up to advise the Government. That committee having sat for some weeks recommended the formation of a new police force in Saorstát Eireann, excluding the Dublin Metropolitan Police District. They recommended that the Police Force would be centrally controlled, and responsible to the Executive Government. That recommendation was accepted and acted upon by the Provisional Government, and a start was made at the organising of the Civic Guard. This Bill is brought forward with a view to giving the Executive Council Statutory power to raise, train, equip, pay and maintain the Civic Guard, and from time to time to determine within the limits set out in the Schedule the strength of the Force. Subject to the general regulations to be made by the Minister for Home Affairs, it is proposed to vest in a Commissioner of the Guard general directions and control of the Force. The Bill provides that the appointment of the Commissioner and the other officers of the Force shall be made by the Executive Council. As the force is not local, but is an organised National Police Force, it is essential that it should not exist out of the immediate authority of the Executive Council. A provision that all officers should be appointed by the Executive Council will give a proper constitutional derivation to their authority, and a proper direction to their allegiance. I want to direct the attention of Deputies for a moment to Section 4, Sub-section 1 of the Bill. It reads: "The officers of the Civic Guard shall be divided into the several ranks specified in the First Schedule to this Act, and all such officers below the rank of Surgeon shall be appointed, and may at any time be dismissed, by the Executive Council, and may be from time to time promoted or degraded by the Commissioner in accordance with regulations made under this Act."
It is felt that to preserve strictly the theory that all Executive power and authority wielded in the country is, in fact, the delegated power and authority of the people, that commissions in this police force should be given by and on behalf of the Executive Council, and it is clear that commissions can be withdrawn only by the body that gives them. In the Executive Council is pooled the Executive authority in the country. The people delegate to their representatives in the Dáil their own power which in turn is entrusted to a Committee of the Dáil itself which is called the Executive Council. That Executive Council is a pool of the fountain head of the Executive authority of the country, and that is delegated out on well-defined conditions to individuals. The Act of withdrawing that Executive authority which is derived from the people must be from the body which delegated it. Therefore, the commissions to officers in this Force will be held as from the Executive Council, and the Executive Council must perform the Executive act of withdrawing these commissions, if withdrawal is considered necessary. I want to make this point clear. You cannot put a man at the head of a force of this kind and expect him to preserve proper discipline, and to attain a high standard of efficiency, and at the same time proceed to undermine his authority or to undermine the discipline of the force. I want to make it particularly clear to members of the public, and to members of the force itself that the Executive Council will act through well defined channels, and will in fact act on the recommendations of the person who is placed at the head of the force. It would be a fatal thing if members of the Guard or members of the force were to get any idea into their heads that by personal contact, let us say, with politicians, or otherwise, that they could provide for themselves a Court of Appeal from disciplinary decisions of their own authorities. That is not the position. It will be a disciplinary offence if any member of the Guard attempts to secure contact with the Executive Council, or with members of the Executive Council, otherwise than through the recognised channels of seniority and rank. In a young force it is necessary to stress and to emphasise things that are recognised as being a matter of course amongst older disciplined bodies, and consequently I want to dwell for a moment on that aspect of Section 4 Sub-section (1), that the Executive Council could not entrust to an individual the task of enforcing discipline and of maintaining efficiency of that particular force if his word did not go every time in matters concerning the internal discipline of the Guard. Therefore, what is maintained under Section 4, Sub-section (1) is that the withdrawal of the delegated authority of the people from any individual, must be an Executive Act, an Act of the Executive Council; but I want to make it clear that the Executive Council will act through well defined channels, and on the recommendation of its responsible official who is placed in charge of that particular force. Members of the force will be required to take a declaration pledging themselves to be faithful in their employment to the Executive Council. That declaration is set out in the Schedule, and states that they are to render true service and obedience to Saorstát Eireann and its constitutional Government. The maximum strength of the force is set out in the Schedule. The maximum estimated strength required is 4,119 ordinary Guards; the statutory maximum is 4,400, leaving a margin of about 200, if it should be considered necessary. There will be a small Reserve Force maintained in the Depot, a Reserve Force of about 200.
This force will be there to meet any calls that may be made for extra police from particular areas. If that number of 200 is kept as a floating number of men returning to the Depot from time to time, gradually in about three or four years the whole force will have passed back through the Depot, and the matter of keeping such a Reserve will not be a waste. Men who go on Reserve like that in the Depot can be taking special courses, and in any case it is perhaps to the good that the longest time that any member of the force would be away from his headquarters would be, speaking roughly, about three or four years. If you take it that there is a body of 200 men on Reserve in the Depot for three months, that would be 800 men passing through the Depot in one year, and in four years that would practically cover the entire force. It might be just as well that policemen would have an opportunity of doing special courses in that way when they are called back to the Reserve. Section 6 proposes to confer on the Minister for Home Affairs powers to make regulations to govern the general distribution of the Guard throughout the country. It is at present proposed to occupy 807 stations, but the ultimate scheme of distribution can be fixed only in the light of experience. The number of barracks in the occupation of the R.I.C. on the 1st June, 1914, exclusive of those situated in the Six North-Eastern Counties, was 1,129; the proposed total establishment of the Civic Guard provides for 807 stations. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to go into a comparison of the strength at this stage. If Deputies were interested I could, in answer to a question, give a comparison of the strength of the Guard with the actual strength of the R.I.C. in the twenty-six counties in 1914.
It is proposed that the rates of pay and allowances and the pension scheme of the Civic Guard should be regulated by orders to be made by the Minister for Home Affairs, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance. These orders will require to be laid before the Dáil, and the Pensions Scheme will not become operative unless approved by resolution of the Dáil. Provision is made in Section 10 for the holding of inquiries and the examination on oath of complaints of neglect or violation of duties which may be preferred against members. Members of the Guard are required to give one month's notice of their intention to resign, unless authorised to do so by a senior officer, and to deliver up, on resignation or dismissal, all clothing, etc., supplied to them. Provision is made for the creation of representative bodies to enable members of the Guard to bring to the notice of the Commissioner or of the Minister matters affecting their welfare and efficiency, other than questions of discipline and promotions affecting individuals. Attempts to cause disaffection amongst members of the Guard or to induce members of the Guard to commit a breach of discipline will be punishable by fine or imprisonment. Unlawful possession of clothing supplied to any member of the Guard will be similarly punished. In Section 18 there is provision that the costs and charges incurred in respect of the Civic Guard shall be paid by the money provided by the Oireachtas, and provision is made in Sub-section (2) of that section to preserve the existing liability of local bodies under any of the statutes mentioned in the Fourth Schedule in respect of the Food and Drugs Act and the Weights and Measures Act and the conveyance of prisoners and lunatics. It is proposed in Section 19 to create a Fund, to be called the "Civic Guard Reward Fund," for the reward or benefit of the Civic Guard in such manner as may be arranged. This Fund shall be composed mainly of disciplinary fines imposed on members of the Guard. It is proposed to repeal the provisions of the Constabulary Acts relating to the organisation or internal administration of the R.I.C. There are very numerous references in other Acts, such as the Summary Jurisdiction Act, to officers and other members of the R.I.C. The repeal of such Acts is not practicable, and it is accordingly necessary to adapt references of that kind, and that is covered by Section 20. Section 21 provides for the application of the Bill to the existing force known as the Civic Guard, and for giving retrospective statutory recognition to that force.