PRIVATE BUSINESS. - THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION.

After the rather warm topic that has engaged the Dáil for the last ten or twelve minutes, I think it will be a relief to come to the tranquil subject of the Boundary Commission, and in order to secure that, I am proposing the motion which stands in my name, and which reads as follows:—

"That Dáil Eireann expresses dissatisfaction with the course pursued in dealing with Article 12 of the Treaty and calls upon the Executive Council to cease participation in any further negotiations regarding the matter pending the setting up of the Boundary Commission; and, further, calls upon the Executive Council to fix a limit to the time to which it will assent to the constituting of the Commission."

I have seen in the Press, and it has come to my ears, that this motion is regarded in Ministerial circles as a motion of censure upon the Executive. I wish to state most emphatically that such is not my intention, and that it is in reality no more a motion of censure upon them than the action, let us say, of a steward on a ship awakening the captain at a certain time would be regarded as a reflection upon the captain's knowledge of navigation. If I desired to introduce a motion of censure I think I could find a topic upon which the armoury of the Ministers would be much more vulnerable than the question of the Boundary Commission. I have raised this question rather with the intention of strengthening their hands than of weakening their position; rather with the desire of making it clear to the representatives, or the spokesmen, of Britain that we are determined to test the sincerity of their professions in regard to this Boundary question. I think it was Mr. Joseph Chamberlain who, during the Boer negotiations, said that when you sup with the devil you must use a long spoon, and I am beginning to wonder if the spoon that our Executive has utilised in its negotiations with, I will not say the devil, but certain of his family relations, has been of quite sufficiently lengthy dimensions. The main reason for this motion. I think, should be perfectly clear. The reason is that I consider it is high time that a protest should go forth from this assembly, an emphatic protest, against the long series of evasions on the part of Britain in regard to Article 12 of the Treaty, and not merely a protest in that respect but a disclaimer, the significance of which cannot be ignored, a disclaimer of any responsibility, for a continuance of the delay which those evasions have involved. We of the Saorstát have kept full faith with Britain in the matter of the Treaty, kept faith at a terrible cost in blood and money, and I think it is time that we gave some indication that we intend equally well to keep full faith with those of our people who are in the Six Counties, even at the price of a little plain, straight, blunt talk to the politicians and the spokesmen of Britain. Whether the fulfilment of that faith to our people in the North who look to us for assistance will involve graver steps than merely plain, frank speech to the politicians of England is really a matter that depends and is more contingent upon the good faith and the honour of Britain in the matter than on our volition. Certainly we must keep our minds clear as to whither we are tending, and be very sure that the steps we are taking are being taken on the path that will lead us to the objective we have in mind. It is now two years since the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty were signed in London. It is 18 months since Article 12 of the Treaty became operative; it is almost 12 months since the representatives of the Saorstát on the Boundary Commission were appointed, and yet we have not got definitely to grips with the carrying out of Article 12 "without which," as the Governor-General says in his despatch of the 15th March last, to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, "the Treaty would never have been accepted."

Now what has happened since then? What have we had in the interval? Conversations, conferences, diplomatic correspondence—all conducted with exemplary tact and courtesy, and it is not my desire to mar, if such could be avoided, the tranquil atmosphere which has pervaded these occurrences. But I am somewhat doubtful if that can be avoided. I realise how necessary it is in dealing with delicate transactions into which elements of suspicion have been imported to use the utmost tact and courtesy. What I object to is the tact and courtesy which is being utilised to wheedle us out of a position of strategic advantage, and so render us impotent to assert our rights under the Treaty. I am quite sure that when the wolf has his eye on the lamb, and finds the lamb in a position which is difficult to attack, he will be very cautious, tactful and diplomatic, until he succeeds in coaxing the lamb out into the open, and then God help the lamb. Once we relax our grip on the strategic position which we hold under Article 12, the diplomatic, courteous and tactful language of those we are contending with will, I think, cease, and we will be told pretty abruptly and pretty sharply that if we do not like the position—well, we can do the other thing. What has happened in all that period? Every move in the game has been practically to our disadvantage. Those in the North-East of Ulster have been disputing the validity of the Treaty, and they have been using the time that has passed to their political advantage, and to the disadvantage of their political opponents, creating a position which has acute difficulties, and which did not exist when the Treaty was signed in 1921. There is the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, under which the Parliament of what is termed "Northern Ireland" received its reason for its existence. I contend that there has been a deliberate and serious violation of that Act, and that, too, without any remonstrance from the British Government, or the British Parliament, to which this Parliament in Northern Ireland is subordinate. Section 5 of the Government of Ireland Act says:

"In the exercise of their power to make laws under this Act, neither the Parliament of Southern Ireland, nor the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall make a law so as either directly or indirectly to establish or endow any religion, or prohibit or restrict the free exercise thereof, or give a preference or privilege or advantage or impose any disability or disadvantage on account of religious belief."

Those of us who have been in contact with the operations of legislation in that section of Ulster know that there has been a continuous series of Acts passed which do impose disabilities and disadvantages on account of the religious beliefs of a certain section of the citizens up there. That has been done without any remonstrance from the British Government, which is the overruling authority in respect of that body. Were we of the Saorstát to indulge in that kind of legislation I think we would have very sharp and striking remonstrances from the British Government with respect to that. Now, what is the position to-day? While the spokesmen of Britain acknowledge the binding authority of the Treaty on them, they seem to be exercising their minds as to whether or not the action, or inaction, of certain gentlemen not contracting parties to the Treaty, will disable Britain from fulfilling her obligations under it in respect of Clause 12.

The British Premier, speaking in the British Parliament on June 5, said:

"On the 29th April we informed the Government of Northern Ireland of the steps we were taking to appoint a chairman, and requested them to appoint their representative. On the 10th May the Governor replied that his Ministers respectfully declined to appoint a representative. This refusal naturally created a situation which His Majesty's Government were bound to take into serious consideration. It was a reply which made it necessary to consider what were the legal and constitutional powers which His Majesty's Government are bound to exercise. It must be held in mind that under Article 12 of the Treaty the boundary between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland has to be such as is determined by the Commission. A question may, therefore, be subsequestion raised in the courts as to whether a valid award has been made, involving the further question whether the Commission was legally constituted. His Majesty's Government have, therefore, decided to avail themselves of the power conferred on them by Section 4 of the Judicial Committee Act, 1833, to ask the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to advise them as to their legal and constitutional powers to constitute the Commission."

I have no intention to question the competence of the British Government to seek for information in whatever quarter they may desire which may elucidate what appears to them to be a constitutional dilemma, nor am I concerned as to whether the course they have adopted is expedient from their point of view or not. What is really of serious concern to the Dáil is how such matters affect the position of the Saorstát and when the British Premier states that the Judicial Committee to which he looks for guidance in the matter involved will not sit until July, then I contend that the delay involved in the procedure adopted by the British Government does affect us in a way and to a degree which we cannot ignore, and which calls for sharp remonstrance from us. I think it would be well that we should recall and that Britain should realise, if she does not already, the vital importance of Article 12. It is as vital a part of the Treaty as any other article, and its non-observance on the part of Britain will, in effect, be a denunciation of the Treaty, and will, in my judgment, have the effect of cancelling our contractual obligations under it, and of rendering it open to us, and moreover necessary for us, to revise the Constitution of An Saorstát, in which eventuality the probability is that several provisions of that Constitution would be altered and others deleted. Whether British statesmen are cognisant of that eventuality or not I cannot say. But it seems to me to be precisely the position for which they are heading, if the present unwarranted procrastination is persisted in.

The question seems to me seriously to have arisen of whether or not the subordinate Parliament, exercising from Belfast jurisdiction over a section of Ulster, is competent to denounce the Treaty between Ireland and Great Britain or to place the British Government in a position which virtually involves such a denunciation by them. If that position arises the responsibility will be Britain's, not ours. It is the duty of those who are concerned with the future and the honour of Ireland to see that such responsibility is placed on the right shoulders, as it is, one may assume, the duty of British statesmen to avert the advent of circumstances which would affix to their country the stigma of having dishonoured its bond.

I wish to refer now to the correspondence which has taken place between the Governor-General and the representatives of Britain and which has been recently circulated to Deputies. I take it that all the Deputies have perused this document, which throws invaluable light on the situation, and which discloses the fact that all through the negotiations or correspondence those who spoke for the Saorstát, through the Governor-General, did maintain an attitude of rigid insistence upon the honouring of this Treaty by Britain. In page 17 of this document there is a long despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. J.H. Thomas) to the Governor-General in which he indicates the reasons why this investigation by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is being set up. As I presume most Deputies have read this it is not necessary for me to delay the Dáil by reading the despatch, save the interrogation or question with which the despatch concludes. It says:

"If the answer to all the preceding questions (that is, the questions presented to this Committee as more or less its terms of reference) is in the negative, whether there is any constitutional method of bringing the Commission into existence so long as the Ministers of Northern Ireland maintain their refusal."

I am not concerned with the phraseology of British Ministers in addressing those they seek advice from. But I am concerned with the implication that lies in this document, that these gentlemen in Belfast are competent to denounce the Treaty. I ask the Dáil to mark the phraseology:

"Whether there is any Constitutional method of bringing the Commission into existence so long as the Ministers of Northern Ireland maintain their refusal."

If it had been "what is the constitutional method," then the matter would be clear. But there is an implication in that language which has some vital concern for us, I think, and therefore I draw the attention of this Dáil to it. To assume, as seems to be the underlying assumption of the sentence I have quoted, that the decision of the subordinate Parliament in Belfast affects adversely the carrying through of Article 12, or that such decision can diminish the responsibility or relax the commitments of Britain in the matter, seems to postulate that some party, other than the contracting parties to the Treaty, are competent to denounce or terminate it. That I consider to be a highly dangerous doctrine for Britain to countenance and one which would shake the moral stability of any international Treaty which in future might be concluded.

Mr. Ramsay McDonald in the speech from which I have quoted, said:—

"We have by no means abandoned hope that the two Irish Governments may reach an agreed settlement before the Commission is constituted, though even in that event the Commission will be necessary to give formal effect to the agreement."

I believe his colleague, Mr. Thomas, some time ago also made a similar statement in which he dwelt on the desirability of Irishmen settling their differences amongst themselves. I, for one, am not in the slightest degree impressed by language of this kind. It seems to indicate a continuance in the minds of Englishmen, regardless of what particular political faction they represent, of the position that they are the keepers of the ring in which two Irish factions are having a family row. That is not the role which Englishmen have to play, and the sooner they realise it accurately and acutely the better for themselves, in the interests of their own country. Their role is not that of the benevolent peacemaker, but that of the repentant sinner, and their task is that of contributing their share, by adhering to the undertaking given in the Treaty, to the ending of the unhappy consequences of a malignant policy of centuries duration by their country towards ours.

I have taken up more time than I really expected to take, but there are one or two things I want to say in addition before I conclude. We have had a great amount of quibbling about the meaning of Article 12. I think it is time that we made it perfectly clear that quibbling is not going to settle this matter. It will have to be settled in accordance with the spirit of the Treaty and with the spirit of those who signed the Treaty, or it will never be settled rightly. We are told it simply means the rearrangement of the line of the Frontier, taking in a little here and a little there, to make the Boundary more symmetrical and more in accordance with local interests. It meant nothing of the kind. The men who signed the Treaty, the men who made the Free State—the late General Collins and the late President Griffith— would never have put their pens to it if that had been the understanding. The understanding was expressed in the terms of Article 12, that the Boundary Commission was to decide the new Frontier in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants.

When you speak of the wishes of the inhabitants you indicate that there must be some area in which these inhabitants live. You cannot simply speak of the inhabitants who live along a certain line, whether it be straight or crooked. I think it ought to be very clear, that that interpretation of Article 12 is going to be insisted on, and will not be deviated from. To those who are looking to us for assistance and help in those areas, who desire that the will of the people shall have effect there as well as in the Twenty-six Counties, I think we ought to send a message from this assembly that we have not abandoned either the hope or the determination that such will come to pass.

I received to-day from an unknown friend a copy of the "Belfast Telegraph" of June 9, in which there is underlined a sermon preached by the Rev. John Redmond, B.A., in St. Patrick's, Newtownards Road, Belfast. He says:—

"It is a very grave thing to look forward to, and a very grave thought to give expression to, but should we be deserted by the British Government, and, if there should be a determined effort on the part of Southern Ireland to wrench from us the two coveted counties and the other parts of our territory, it would be your solemn duty, and mine, to resist such a thing, in defence of the reformed faith, and the well-being of the Empire, by resorting even to the extent of arms."

There is also another passage in this sermon:—

"The Boundary Commission has been raised in an acute form of late, and they knew quite well that Southern Ireland was anxious to get the two coveted counties, and the other parts of Ulster territory. The reason was that, if the Free State succeeded in wrenching that territory from the Ulster Government, it would make their independence impossible, and so compel them, whether they liked it or not, to seek for union with Southern Ireland."

I cannot understand the mentality of any man, North or South, who does not seek for the union of the North and the South. We seek and we are striving for the union of the Saorstát and the rest of Ireland, or to recover the territory of the Saorstát that has, for the moment, been separated from it, not because we wish to exercise political domination over what happens to be the majority in that particular area, but because we want to bring to an end the hideous line of cleavage that centuries of artificially engendered spite has brought about.

These gentlemen in the North have said that they refused to be coerced by Southern Ireland. In this Parliament of the Free State, in which we have had many discussions on the question of our relations with the North-East, I have never yet heard one single syllable, suggestive of any desire on the part of the Saorstát, to coerce those who wish to keep out of it. But if their argument is good that it is right for them to refuse to be governed by an authority which they resent, equally effective is the argument on the part of those whom they govern against their will, at the moment, within the Six Counties, and who desire to be again joined with the Saorstát. That argument is equally conclusive on the part of those in the Six Counties who are now coerced. We must, I think, realise that whenever the Boundary Commission meets, and whatever it decides, it is quite unlikely to bring about that ideal of National unity for which we are striving, though it may take steps that will bring it much nearer than it is possible to hope for, under the existing circumstances.

Whatever be the decision with regard to territory, there must be something done to secure that those groups of Nationalists and Catholics, who are left under the control of the Northern jurisdiction, must have some guarantee of civil and religious liberty, and equality of citizenship. There must be some reciprocity. Those who differ from the majority in the Saorstát enjoy full civil, religious and civic equality. I think we should demand, emphatically, that one of the decisions of the Boundary Commission, when it sits, should be that guarantees of such sacred things will be assured to those who are living under the authority of the Government of Northern Ireland.

As I said at the beginning, I did not intend this motion as one of censure on the Executive. I think what I have said can be analysed thoroughly without finding in it one word that could be so construed. I think it is time it was made perfectly clear that we are going to stand no more unnecessary delay, that the time for talk must finish, and that this question must be grappled and dealt with. Many people in the Six Counties have looked forward to the decisions of the Boundary Commission as likely to restore to them the status of citizens of a civilised nation. To many of them the whole question has become a miserable long-drawn-out farce, and they are abandoning hope that any good can come from the Boundary Commission, or that the Commission will sit at all. I have never shared that outlook. I have always tried to instil into their minds the belief that they are not going to be let down; that there was going to be no betrayal of them by the Saorstát; that we look upon Ireland still as one and indivisible; and that we are going to see that the dream of generations of our people should not be denied or extinguished, or its realisation impeded, by a set of fanatical politicians, whether in the South or in the North.

I have raised this question to-day to try to refresh that hope in the minds of our people in the North, to try to rekindle the belief that we will stand by them, that we will stand by Article 12 of the Treaty as being vital and essential, and that if those who share with us from another country responsibility for that Article do not fulfil their share of the Treaty, the consequences, the responsibility and the shame will be theirs. It may make a change in the existing relations between the two countries, but it will not impede in the slightest degree the march of this nation to ultimate freedom in the fullest sense of the word.

I rise to second Deputy Milroy's motion not because of any particular action recently taken by the British Government in relation to Article 12 of the Treaty, but because I feel, as I have felt for a considerable time back, that every day lost in giving effect to the vital clause of the Treaty is a day that must be counted to our cost from the national, economic, and financial point of view. This appointment of a Judicial Committee really only brings this matter of delay to a head. It is one of a long series of quibbles. The first quibble was the postponement over a change of Government in England. The next quibble was the indisposition of Sir James Craig. The next excuse was the cooing of Sir James Craig. To-day it is the Judicial Committee. To-morrow probably Mr. Coote will go to Mass, or something like that, and so on. The merry round of quibbles is going to run its length until this Government and the people of the Free State put down their foot and demand an immediate putting into effect of Clause 12 of the Treaty. On the question of the Judicial Committee, I think that is a matter for England. It does not matter whether they bring people from Timbuctoo, to use a phrase resorted to by Sir Edward Carson, or whether they bring people from the ends of the earth to endeavour to deliver them. What matters to us is not the why, but the when. The when is what counts with us, because, as can be seen by the conditions in the North of Ireland and in the neighbouring counties, it is a very vital matter to us that the question of territory in the border areas, especially in those two counties, and the municipality of Derry, which are to be made the subject of inquiry by the Boundary Commission—that the alignment of these districts, should be settled, once and for all, and settled immediately. Conditions in those areas are such and the arrangements of the Government of those areas are such, that if any more postponement takes place, or if delay in giving effect to Article 12 goes on indefinitely, or is permitted to go on much further, the time will come, I have no doubt, when if it does come to a vote in some of these territories, we would probably lose them.

I saw the remarks of a Northern member of Parliament the other day to the effect that the Northern Unionists were gradually attaining a majority in the areas that are in dispute. Now, that is probably a fact, and he mentioned County Fermanagh, and said that the probabilities were that Northern Unionists had a majority there at the moment. Give me the control of the County Councils, give me the patronage, give me all the privileges that are associated with the giving of jobs, and everything else in those areas, and give me a Black and Tan Organisation behind me and in the course of a few years I will secure where there is a large majority against me to get that majority in my favour. That is what is happening in the border counties and in Derry, and it has probably already happened in Fermanagh, because of this disastrous delay in making the English deliver the goods under Article 12 of the Treaty. I think Deputy Milroy has covered most of the arguments in favour of the immediate giving effect to Article 12 of the Treaty. We do not want to see this struggle between the North and South of Ireland perpetuated. It is as much in the interest of Northern Ireland as in the interest of Southern Ireland, in my opinion, that this boundary question be settled once and for all. If the country is to be operated on, it is better to have it operated on at once. As it is, the boundary question is an open sore, and it is keeping both sides apart and embittering people and preventing those in the North and South, whom economic factors would probably draw together, from associating in any way for the benefit of the country as a whole. As long as that question is kept open, and as long as that open sore is there I believe you will have no peace in Ireland, North or South. As it is you have not peace, and, for a change, it may be better to see what effect the operation of Article 12 of the Treaty would have on the country and on the minds of the people who are willing to come together, North and South. What I would like to see is a time-limit for the delivery of the goods promised under Article 12. That is one reason why I am speaking here, not because I protest against the setting up of this Judicial Committee, or because of any other act of the British Government—that is their business—but because there is danger in delay, and because I see that the one disastrous thing that can occur over Article 12 is to have it indefinitely postponed.

If this Article 12 is not given effect to within a certain time I, for one, and other people with me have made up our minds to a very definite course. We are not going to say what that course is, but it will not be to the benefit of the Treaty, and probably it might not be to the benefit of the relations between Great Britain and Ireland. It may mean an interruption in the era which the Treaty initiated, and which we all like to see continued on, an era of free association and friendship between the two countries. That, to my mind, would be a disastrous thing for both countries, but a Treaty is a Treaty, and there is a time-limit to any treaty I have ever heard of, and if we find that this Treaty is not given effect to, in its entirety within a certain period, we have made up our minds to a particular course of action.

The Deputy has used the term "people from Timbuctoo or from the ends of the earth." I think it is due to the House that he should state whether he meant any reflection on Dominion Judges, invited over to the Judicial Committee or to the Chairman of this Commission. I did not want to interrupt the Deputy when he was speaking, but the House should be free from any doubt as to what was in his mind with regard to that reflection.

I was only quoting from Sir Edward Carson.

The Deputy did not mean to associate himself with the idea.

Not in the least.

Deputies JOHNSON and WHITE rose.

Deputy Johnson to speak. What is Deputy White's intention?

I do not want all the credit for this boundary debate to be given to another Party.

Would Deputy Johnson allow Deputy White to speak before him?

Is it intended to follow the debate on the main question?

It is better procedure, in general, when an amendment is proposed to a motion that the amendment should be disposed of in order that the Dáil should know what exactly the question is that it is called on to decide. If Deputy Johnson has no objection, I think I would be inclined to let Deputy White speak first.

I do not know how long Deputy White will take.

I am quite satisfied that Deputy Johnson should take precedence of me.

Amendment proposed (Deputy Johnson):—

To delete all words after the words "Executive Council," where these words first occur, and to substitute therefor the words:—

".... to insist upon the fulfilment of Article 12 in respect both to the provisions relating to the Council of Ireland so far as they relate to Northern Ireland, and to the appointment of a Boundary Commission; and further calls upon the Executive Council to fix the limit to the time to which it will assent for the constituting of the the Commission.

I am going to ask the House to listen with some patience and care to what I have to say, and though Deputy Milroy, in proposing his motion, very distinctly and repeatedly dissociated himself from the idea of censure of the Executive Council, I have no such qualms. What I have to say in the main is censure upon the Executive Council because the Executive Council appears from the evidence, tendered in this House by the late Attorney-General, to have failed to see that Article 12 of the Treaty is made operative. The motion moved by Deputy Milroy, and spoken to by him, deals not with Article 12 primarily, but with the proviso to Article 12. I want to deal in the main with Article 12. It will be remembered that the ex-Attorney-General, on May 28th, during the discussion of the Railways Bill, stated that certain agreements had been entered into whereby, as I propose to maintain, Article 12 has been abandoned. The Treaty, I must remind the House—and it is essential I believe when discussing the question of the Treaty, always to remember—was a Treaty made between an Irish delegation, signed by an Irish delegation, delegated from Dáil Eireann, representative of the whole of Ireland. The Treaty was made in respect to the whole of Ireland. Article 12 of that Treaty deals with certain things that must happen in a certain eventuality. The Treaty was not to be enforceable over a certain area for a period of one month. If, during that month a certain event happened, that is to say, if the Northern Parliament passed a resolution, then the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Free State, the whole of Ireland, were no longer to extend to Northern Ireland, and the provisions of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, including those relating to the Council of Ireland shall, so far as they relate to Northern Ireland, continue to be of full force and effect. To make quite certain that there should be established a Council of Ireland and that it was intended that that Council should have certain powers and authorities, Article 13 was inserted, which said that for the purpose of the last foregoing article, the powers of the Parliament of Southern Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, to elect members of the Council of Ireland shall, after the Parliament of the Irish Free State is constituted, be exercised by that Parliament. It is clear from those two sections that it was contemplated by signatories to the Treaty that the Council of Ireland was to be constituted, and that its powers should be continued so far as they relate to Northern Ireland. What were those powers? They were varied. Certain things were to be done by agreement between the two Parliaments of the 1920 Act. Certain things were to be done inevitably, not necessarily, awaiting agreement. Section 10 of the Government of Ireland Act, says:—"With a view to uniform administration throughout Ireland of public services in connection with railways and fisheries and the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act, any powers exercisable by any Department of the Government of the United Kingdom on the appointed day with respect to railways and fisheries and contagious diseases of animals in Ireland and the power of making laws with respect to railways, fisheries and contagious diseases of animals shall, as from the appointed day, become the powers of the Council of Ireland under the Parliament of Northern and Southern Ireland."

Now, the Treaty makes it quite clear that these powers granted to the Council so far as they relate to Northern Ireland are maintained and shall continue with full force and effect. But it is suggested by the ex-Attorney-General that the very grave result of setting up the Council of Ireland considering it as a Unit would be to give the Northern Government representatives a voice in ruling our railways, our Fisheries and in our Diseases of Animals Act and other matters reserved for the Council of Ireland. That was a most extraordinary pronouncement from the Attorney-General. I do not pretend for a moment to presume to controvert him on a matter of law, but I stake anything on this: that not a single member of the Dáil that ratified the Treaty, or of the signatories to the Treaty, ever contemplated any such thing and I am supported in that by quite a number of authorities. It will be remembered that there was a Railway Commission set up by the Provisional Government. And first let me say here that it was contemplated that that should be a Joint Commission to report to the two Governments. It was contemplated that the Commission should take account of the respective responsibility and authority of the two Governments. I and those who were in conference with me regarding representation upon that Commission definitely declined to act upon that Commission in these circumstances. We did not believe for a moment that there was any doubt as to the powers and responsibilities of the two Governments. That is by the way. But the Commission was set up finally to inquire into the question of Railways in Ireland and a statement was made in the Belfast Parliament by Sir James Craig. He said: "The Chairman of the Railway Commission for Southern Ireland is in complete error when he states that the Southern Ireland Commission has any authority to deal with railway matters in Northern Ireland."

The Chairman of the Commission was Lord Justice O'Connor and he took great pains to write out the following statement in reply to that:—"There is no error in any statement of mine; there is error in the statement of Sir James Craig. The Railway Commission set on foot by the Provisional Government is asked by the Provisional Government to advise them on the Irish railways as a whole—north, south, east and west. I stated that it was our intention to advise and report on the railways as a whole, but in order to avoid controvesial matter, I added that I expressed no opinion as to the power of the Government to deal with the matter when our report came before them."

"But, now that the question of power—and by that I mean legislative power—of the Provisional Government has been raised, and that the statement has been made in responsible quarters that I was in error as to the position, I think it is as well that I should state the legal position so far as the railways are concerned.

"Under the Peace Treaty the Provisional Government and their successors, the Free State Government, when established, are the sole authority and the supreme authority over railways in the portion of Ireland which for want of a better term, is called Southern Ireland. The Free State Government, even if Northern Ireland votes out under Clause 12, will continue to be the sole and supreme authority over the railways and everything else in the Southern area. Thus, for example, the Free State Government can, if it pleases, purchase, control and manage every foot of Irish railways inside the Twenty-six County area, including the Great Northern Railway so far as it is inside. Conversely, the Northern Government has not now, and under the Treaty scheme never will have, any power, direct or indirect, over a foot of railways in the Twenty-six County area."

"Now, I come to the Six County area. This is provided for by Clause 12 of the Peace Treaty, which preserves the Council of Ireland (on which the Free State Government will, of course, have equal representation) and its powers. It follows that, even in the Northern area, the Northern Government has not now and never will have exclusive jurisdiction (save as to the construction which the Act of 1920 provides for) over the railways in the Six County area. For example, the Northern Government has not and never will have any power to purchase, manage or control a foot of railway in the Six County area. The Free State Government has, and always will have, at least as much control and authority over the railway lines within the Six County area as the Northern Government."

"This Commission, therefore, has, in the Six County area, as much interest and authority as the Commission which the Northern Government proposes to set up; and in the Twenty-six County area the Northern Commission has no interest or authority whatever."

And in reply to a further statement he said: "I am clear about the legal position. It is clear and beyond question in the terms I already set out at this table. There can be no possible controversy, and I would not have mentioned it except the statement was forced from me."

Now, the ex-Attorney-General, in the course of a discussion in this Dáil, on the 28th May, spoke of the jurisdiction that was substituted for the Council of Ireland in Northern Ireland. He went on to say that "The operations of the Council of Ireland provisions were by agreement postponed for the period of five years." He was asked by agreement with whom. He said: "The two Governments—the Provisional Government and the Northern Government.""It was given effect to in a statute," he said. Then later on he said: "But so far as the Six Counties were concerned the setting up of the Council of Ireland was postponed for five years and the jurisdiction was to be exercised by the British Government. That has been given effect to in an Act that was passed by the British Parliament at the same time that it gave statutory recognition to the Constitution that we had passed here. It is an Act called the Irish Free State Consequential Provisions Act." And later on he said: "It only needed the Northern Government to assent to the powers of the Council of Ireland being exercised by the British Government, and in so far as joint action would be taken with reference to a railway affecting both parts of the country it would be a matter for agreement between the British Government and our own Government." Further on he said: "The British Government has power to legislate for so much of it as is within the jurisdiction of the Six Counties." [Official Report, May 28th, 1924, Cols. 1498-9.]

I deny that the Provisional Government had any right, power or authority to enter into any agreement to vary the provisions of the Treaty or to enter into any agreement to postpone the operation of the Council of Ireland or to postpone the transfer of powers to the Council of Ireland. I deny that the Provisional Government had that anthority—if it is contended that under the Government of Ireland Act there was power given, respecting the transfer of any services, to the Governments of Southern and Northern Ireland jointly to request that the transfer "may be fixed at a date later than the coming into operation of this Act." There was no other way whereby the operations of the Council of Ireland respecting the railways, diseases of animals, and fisheries could be legislated for or administered than by the Council of Ireland, except by agreement between the Governments under the 1920 Act of the Northern and Southern Parliaments, and under the Treaty between the Governments of the Free State and Northern Ireland. Is it contended for a moment that the Provisional Government had power to do this thing, and enter into this agreement? If that is the contention, then I ask this further question: Is it claimed that the Provisional Government was the Executive Authority set up under the Government of Ireland Act for the administration of affairs in Southern Ireland? If that is the contention, then I ask a further question: Are we to say that the Provisional Government entered into all the obligations that were required by the Government of Ireland Act before they came into effective power, which obligations included that they should be members of the Privy Council of Southern Ireland. I do not believe that the Provisional Government became the Government that was contemplated in the Government of Ireland Act to administer the affairs of Southern Ireland.

I do not believe that the Provisional Government or the members of the Provisional Government entered into the necessary obligations which enabled them to act as the Government of Southern Ireland under this 1920 Act, which obligations require all the ceremonial and all the declarations to the Lord-Lieutenant and the like. The Provisional Government, as contemplated in the Treaty, certainly by those who supported the Treaty, was no such thing. It was an authority given power to administer affairs in Southern Ireland for a certain period. If I am right in acquitting the members of the Provisional Government from assuming the position of the Executive Authority of the Southern Parliament under the 1920 Act, then I want to know whether the Executive Government of the Free State, after the setting up of the Free State Constitution, entered into any undertaking or agreement with the Northern Government to postpone the coming into effect of the Council of Ireland. If not, why is the Council of Ireland not operating? Why is the Council of Ireland respecting the railways, diseases of animals, and fisheries not operating and not legislating? Why has the Government acquiesced in the British Parliament legislating at the present time in respect of railways in Northern Ireland which was a function under the Treaty handed over to the Council of Ireland on which the Free State was to have equal representation?

Let me ask Deputies who are interested in the ratification and in the approval of the action of the delegates that went to London, if they remember the circumstances? We all remember that there was very great perturbation, very great doubt and hesitation because of the boundary provision, because of this very Article 12, or rather, shall I say, because of the proviso in Article 12, or the two together. Many of us thought that we knew that there was contained in that provision an instrument which would ensure the essential unity of this country at some future time, that would ensure immediately the essential unity of the country and the predominance of unified Government over the whole country in respect of certain functions. I would ask the Dáil to recognise that it is of even more importance to have unification of authority in respect of functions, than in respect of territory. In respect of functions over the whole of the territory, that was provided for inevitably in the Treaty. You had set up a Free State Parliament and a Government with absolute authority over the whole of its internal affairs. We had agreed because of difficulties and of differences in respect of the North to allow of a contracting out, or opting out, with limitations. We allowed, as I say, that the authority of the Free State Parliament and Government over the Six Country area would be in abeyance, but that in respect to fisheries, railways and contagious diseases of animals the Council of Ireland would begin to operate. It may be said that the Council consisted of representatives of the two Parliaments, and it may be asked if the Northern Parliament refused to appoint representatives on it what then would happen? There I say was the value of this instrument. There would be no authority functioning in respect of railways, diseases of animals and fisheries in the Six County area, and no authority with power to legislate unless with the sanction of the Government of the Free State. You had there the instrument, the grip, and it was the fact that that was there in the Treaty, that enabled the Treaty to pass and be accepted because in it there was a certainty of ultimate unity. But now let us see what the people representing the Northern Parliament, or rather the people representing the Northern constituencies in the British Parliament, said in respect of this very thing. Mr. Thomas Moles, who is not unknown in journalistic circles and who is the Vice-Deputy Speaker of the Northern House of Commons said:—

"See what will happen in the Council of Ireland. You are setting up here, not as you originally contemplated, two Parliaments, equal in status and power, you are setting up one Parliament supreme and indefeasible, as it is described, and on the other hand, you are setting up the Parliament contemplated by the 1920 Act. The Council of Ireland supposes that 20 are to be elected by the Northern Parliament, and 20 by the Southern Parliament, and one by the Imperial Government, to deal with matters that are common, but in so far as Southern Ireland is concerned, there are no matters that are common—it is supreme—and what we are going to do is this: that while Southern Ireland is to be supreme in these various matters remitted to the Council under the Act, and we must not touch them, they nevertheless, are to come in and deal with those matters in respect of our area."

Perfectly true. And it is because of that that the Treaty was accepted. Then, later in the year, Captain Craig said on the same question, speaking on the Consequential Provisions Bill in the House of Commons:—

"The Under - Secretary for the Colonies explained that part of the Schedule dealing with the Council of Ireland........ Honourable members who were members of the last Parliament, will remember that there was considerable heated discussion on the proposal contained in the Treaty in reference to the Council of Ireland which was set up under the 1920 Act to deal with other matters which affected both Northern and Southern Ireland—railways, fisheries, diseases of animals, and other matters of that kind.... When the Treaty was passed there was an extraordinary clause which provided that the Free State, for the purposes of this Council, should take the place of Southern Ireland under the Act of 1920, and should appoint the necessary members to form the Council of Ireland. The anomaly and absurdity of the position is that under the Treaty such a Council would have no power whatever to deal with matters in Southern Ireland, while it would have power to deal with matters in Northern Ireland. That is a position which no self-respecting Government, such as that of Northern Ireland, could tolerate for a moment."

To go back a little to an earlier debate on the Free State Bill in the House of Commons. Mr. Winston Churchill, speaking of the Council of Ireland, said:—

"There is the most important question of an alteration in the form of the Council of Ireland. The Council of Ireland cannot be altered except by the mutual consent of the two Irish Governments."

Then it appears there was an agreement, confessed to shall I say, by the ex-Attorney-General, entered into by the Provisional Government, the Northern Government, and the British Government, an agreement which I say the Provisional Government had no right or authority whatever to enter into. But there was a discussion on the Second Reading of the Consequential Provisions Bill of the Irish Free State in the British House of Commons, and let me say is only because of the consternation which the ex-Attorney-General's statement, made here a fortnight ago, created in my mind, that I inquired into this question in this way. I have doubted and hesitated and wondered what was the matter and why was not the Executive Council using its authority under the Treaty, until the Attorney-General explained what had happened, that the whole show had been given away by the Executive Council and the value of the Treaty had been denied and decreased by an enormous extent. The Under-Secretary for the Colonies, Mr. Ormsby Gore, speaking on the 27th November, 1922, on the Second Reading of the Consequential Provisions Bill, said:—

"The various consequential enactments necessary to bring the Act of 1920 into full operation in Ulster are set out in the First Schedule. There is only one on which I propose to say something, because it is important and constitutes a variation of the Treaty." Mark the words: "Because it is important and constitutes a variation of the Treaty."

Then he goes on to say:—"It is paragraph 3 which deals with the Constitution of the Council of Ireland. The proposal which appears in the Consequential Bill is a variation of the Treaty, but it comes to this House for its consideration as an agreed clause, agreed between the Provisional Government of the Free State and the representatives of the Government of Northern Ireland and of the British Government."

We have been contending that the Treaty in all its sections, in all its provisions, was sacred ——

And we still contend it.

Well, it is a pity some notice was not taken of that.

I make you a present of that.

I presume the Minister for External Affairs does take some account of the statements made by Ministers in the House of Commons affecting Irish matters, and it is a pity some public notice was not taken of this very extraordinary and important statement. He went on to say: "The proposal which appears in this Consequential Bill is a variation of the Treaty, but it comes to this House for its consideration as an agreed clause—agreed between the Provisional Government of the Free State and the representatives of the Government of Northern Ireland and of the British Government. The three parties, as it were, have agreed to this solution of the problem of the Council of Ireland, namely, that it shall be left without any further intervention from this Parliament to the Parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland to come to a fresh arrangement, other than was originally proposed by the passing of identic Acts. A time-limit has been put in of five years. It is presumed that something must happen within that five years. If not, of course, fresh legislation will be required here, but it is unthinkable that some arrangement will not be come to by the passing of identical Acts for the North and South, or that they will not be able to come together and thresh the matter out. The Government are anxious to invite Parliament to leave it free to Ireland to make the best possible arrangement."

I have said that the ex-Attorney-General confirmed a fortnight ago the statement of the Under-Secretary for the Colonies in the British House of Commons that an agreement had been arrived at between the three Governments. I stated also that the Provisional Government had no authority to enter into such an agreement for the variation of the Treaty. The only authority that could be claimed for it lies in the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, which says that the Executives of the two Parliaments under that Act could come to an agreement for postponing the transfer of powers. Now, it is for the members of the Provisional Government who may be present to say whether they claimed that the Provisional Government was, in fact, the Parliament of Southern Ireland under the 1920 Act, and had they conformed or not to the requirements of the Ministry to be set up under that 1920 Act. If they did not so conform, then they were not empowered to act by agreement with the Northern Government in respect to any delay or postponement of the transfer of those powers. I say that the question of the enforcement of Article 12 in respect to the setting up of the Council of Ireland, and the transfer of authority respecting railways, Contagious Diseases of Animals Acts, and Fisheries and so on so far as they relate to Northern Ireland, to that Council, is infinitely more important than fixing the Boundary between the two areas. If you have secured unification of control, or rather if you have secured for the Free State such authority in respect to railways in the Northern Area, you have ensured ultimate unity and it matters much less in such a case whether the boundary is fixed to-day or in three months' time, though I think it is desirable in every respect that some limit should be put to the time for settlement.

I say it is of comparatively slight concern where the boundary is, if you have given away those rights. It is comparatively immaterial if you have decided by the surrender of those rights which the Treaty guaranteed to Ireland and the Free State. If you surrender those rights then partition is decided, then the chances of unity are very, very much smaller, and it is only a question of at what point the partition will take place. You would not have secured the Treaty unless Article 12 had been there and the provisions relating to the Council of Ireland had been operating; but having got it, it appears to me, if the ex-Attorney-General's statement is right, if there has been no denial of this statement by the British Minister, if there has been no protest against the action of the British Parliament trying to legislate in respect to railways in Northern Ireland, that you have given away the rights won by the Treaty, and this motion ought to be turned into a motion of censure of the Government.

I beg to second.

It is now 3.45, and we have had three speakers and three speeches, taking up an hour and three-quarters. I do not propose to do any more than to wind up the debate. I move the adjournment of the debate until Wednesday next.

The debate to be adjourned until Wednesday next, in Private Members' time; is that understood?

Yes, unless some other Deputy wishes to speak now. Three Deputies have occupied an hour and three-quarters.

Does the Minister suggest that it was too much for such a subject?

I say that fifteen minutes is rather a limited period in which to expect an answer to two speeches which lasted an hour and three-quarters. Deputies may have plenty of time; I have not.

Debate adjourned to Wednesday.