PRIVATE BUSINESS. - CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT NO. 6) BILL—FIRST STAGE.

I move for leave to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution by repealing Article 17 thereof. I will explain the measure fully on the Second Reading. I am sure Deputies will all agree to this Bill.

The First Stage of this Bill will be opposed.

The First Stage is being opposed. Standing Order No. 82, which is the Standing Order referring to the First Stage of a Bill, provides that the Deputy giving notice shall move for leave to introduce the Bill, and that if such motion be opposed, the Ceann Comhairle, after permitting an explanatory statement from the Deputy who moves, and an explanatory statement from the Deputy who opposes, may, if he thinks fit, put the question thereon. The Standing Order seeks to achieve that on the First Stage of a Bill no discussion shall be allowed except by way of explanatory statement. The number of such explanatory statements is left to the discretion of the Chair. Usually, in the case of a Government measure, only a statement by the Minister moving for leave to introduce the Bill and a statement by a Deputy opposing would be permitted. In the case of a Bill introduced by a private Deputy, and opposed by the Government, it has been indicated already from the Chair that a somewhat different treatment would be given and that somewhat more latitude would be allowed to the promoters. In the case of this Bill the promoters are Deputies Breen, Everett and Hall. In agreement, therefore, with the view already expressed, I am prepared to allow explanatory statements from two of the Deputies promoting the Bill, from Deputy Breen and one of the others, and a statement in opposition to the motion for leave to introduce. I will then put the question.

My principal reason for introducing this Bill here is that I am convinced that there will be no prosperity, there will be no political unity in the national affairs of this country until such time as the test which debars one-third of our representatives from attending here is removed. That is my principal reason for introducing this Bill. When I took my seat in this House, I explained to my constituents that I would do everything in my power to get Article 17 removed. I am now putting this Bill before the Dáil and I ask the Deputies for the sake of the country to give it full consideration, and I am sure when they do give it full consideration that they will realise the necessity for having the Oath removed.

I would like to make it plain, before I make any statement, that I am acting in an individual capacity in the matter of my promotion of this Bill and that it has no connection with the Party to which I belong. I believe that it is only right and proper that the Bill should get a First Reading in the Dáil, so as to give the Deputies an opportunity of considering the Bill when circulated and so that a broad and more intelligible view than that which could be expressed now, would be expressed in the next stage of the Bill. I believe that a Bill of this kind is essential either now or in the near future. I support it on its First Reading and I ask the President to allow it to get a First Reading in order that it may get proper consideration on the next stage.

I oppose the First Reading of this Bill in the name of the Government. I oppose it because it seeks to remove a fundamental provision of our Bun-Reacht, a provision which arises from and has its roots in the Treaty. It proposes to take out of the Constitution the Oath prescribed in the Treaty. That Treaty bears the signature of five Plenipotentiaries appointed by Dáil Eireann, and it was approved by Dáil Eireann. On the first occasion that the people had an opportunity of registering their opinion they returned a majority of representatives in favour of the Treaty. The proposed Constitution was published on the morning of the General Election in June, 1922. The Constitution was then considered, amended and passed by Dáil Eireann and during the passage of the Constitution Bill this very issue which the present Bill raises was made a matter of confidence by the Government. Within fourteen months another General Election took place on a new and extended franchise, and the result was an overwhelming majority for the Treaty and Constitution. We have had since then, twenty-one by-elections and the result of these may be summarised as 17 for the Treaty and Constitution and four against. In only one case was there an election for a seat vacated by an anti-Treaty T.D. and the anti-Treaty Party lost that seat to the candidate in favour of the Treaty. So much for popular opinion on the matter. I do not intend to discuss the political side of the question, or to enter into any explanation, defence, or criticism of the Constitution that was passed nearly five years ago in the Dáil. The Government opposes this Bill. We oppose its First Reading because we believe in honouring our bond, we believe in the sanctity of international agreements. We oppose its First Reading because our honour as the representatives of a nation which has approved of that Treaty is bound to the carrying out of our part of the transaction.

Question put and declared negatived.
Division challenged.
The Dáil divided:—Tá: 17; Níl: 47.

  • Pádraig Baxter.
  • Daniel Breen.
  • John Daly.
  • David Hall.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • William Norton.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Aodh O Cúlacháin.
  • Eamon O Dubhghaill.
  • Padraic O Máille.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).

Níl

  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Séamus de Búrca.
  • John J. Cole.
  • John Conlan.
  • Bryan R. Cooper.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Joseph Dwyer.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • John Good.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Risteard Mac Liam.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Mícheal O hAonghusa.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Risteárd O Conaill.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Tadhg O Donnabháin.
  • Peadar O Dubhghaill.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Luimneach).
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Caoimhghín O hUigin.
  • Seán Príomhdhall.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
  • Liam Thrift.
  • Nicholas Wall.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Breen and Hall. Níl Deputies Dolan and Sears.
Motion declared lost.
Leave to introduce accordingly refused.