I would like to say at the outset that it was my intention, until the President stated he would not give any more time to private members, to put down a Motion to discuss the question of the further detention of the prisoners. As a result of his statement I have to be satisfied with raising the question on the adjournment, but I will not keep the House very long with what I have to say regarding the matter. Needless to say, I, no more than any other Deputy in the House, am not anxious that any criminal should be released one minute before his time is up. I recognise full well that on occasions of strife such as we have passed through, from experience I have had in the past, it is certain that a number of undesirables, apart from what you might call the political element, will get into gaols and internment camps. That is naturally understood, and it takes some time to weed out those. From the reply of the President to-day it appears there are 123 persons interned. I am quite satisfied if that list is produced to me or to other Deputies in the House that we could point to seventy or eighty per cent. of these who are well-known to the Deputies and to the people of Ireland not as criminals but as a purely political class. There may be some very special reason for keeping them interned. If there is, I certainly would like to know it and have it definitely stated. I mentioned the case of Austin Stack to-day. I have no brief for him. I have no doubt that they will be very annoyed to know that I am speaking here for them. His is the only name I can think of, except De Valera, as a really political case. I do not know of other individuals at the moment. It cannot be that the Government are afraid that the release of individuals such as the Stack type will cause any outburst in the country. If that is the case I must say that they are being wrongly and badly advised. When one can see the Acting-President of the Republic walking about quite openly and no effort being made to arrest him, surely there cannot be any fear of De Valera or Stack being released.
We will take the other type of individual who might be classed as a political, the dangerous gunman. Surely when a man like Frank Carty can wander around quite openly and do even more than that, can even threaten at the present day, without being molested by the forces of the State, there cannot be very much fear that the release of men of that type who are held in prison would cause an outbreak. Some releases took place nine or ten months ago of men far more dangerous than any man at present interned. I can back my opinion against any of the member of the Executive Council in what I say. You had the man who was responsible for the blowing up and the burning of the picture houses in Dublin released nine or ten months ago, while others were kept in. When I stated it was a shame to have him released, I was told that he was not out by the then responsible Minister, but I knew he was out at the time. That being so, unless some very definite reason is given to me, I must believe that there is some other reason that has not been stated for keeping in those prisoners than fear of an outbreak. I can walk through the streets, the same as any of you, and actually see the principal of the I.R.A. in Ireland, the most wanted man of all, walking the streets within thirty yards of this House, four times within a month. It is not for want of touts, because I can say definitely that there are more touts now in the military intelligence in Dublin than there were at any period of the past two years. If these men can walk about freely, in spite of the fact that these touts are supposed to be looking for them, there is something wrong somewhere. I suggest in this case it is not the fault of the Executive Council, but rather it is the fault of their advisers. They are advised that certain men of these 123 should not be released for one reason or another, and they are accepting their advice. Three weeks ago I intervened for the first time on behalf of a prisoner. It was the only case in which I was asked to intervene. I knew from my own personal knowledge that the particular man in question would not kill a fly, and that he never handled a gun in his life. I knew exactly the suspicion he was in on, because at one time he happened to be employed in the Department for which I was directly responsible. That man would still be in were it not for the fact that I intervened. He was probably classed as a dangerous man, or as one who would not be released till the last. In view of these facts, I think we ought to hear from the Executive Council what is the real reason for detaining the prisoners further. To my mind, there is no fear that is understandable in view of the releases that have already taken place, and in view of the fact that the really dangerous men, if there ever was any danger, are walking about quite openly the streets of Dublin. I have not the slightest doubt that on yesterday at the meeting in Ballina at which the anti-Treaty candidate was selected, that the anti-Treaty candidate, who is a wanted man, was present, and also that the Acting-President of the Republic was present. That can happen in a small place like Ballina, and there was no attempt at arrest.