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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 26 Jul 1927

Vol. 20 No. 13


The title of the Bill to which I am asking that a Second Reading be given is an Act to make further and better provision for the maintenance and preservation of the State and the public safety.

The assassination of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is still fresh enough in the public mind to make it a comparatively easy task to establish that the State and the public safety are endangered to such an extent as to throw the duty upon the Government of bringing forward special legislative measures, designed to deal with the danger and to throw upon the Oireachtas the duty of protecting the representative institutions of the State by granting the powers sought. It will, however, be useful to give in some detail and in the light of the Vice-President's assassination a retrospect of revolutionary movements in the country. We have always been aware of the existence of such activities. Ever since the days of the civil war the Government has not been ignorant of the existence of disappointed and vindictive revolutionaries, who have sought, by every means in their power, to subvert the State, its representative institutions and the public peace and security. Measures such as the Treasonable Offences Act, 1925, were passed to enable their activities to be dealt with by ordinary process of law within the Constitution. Sometimes it was difficult enough to induce sections of the Dáil to agree to the passing of such legislation. At all times we have people who live in a fool's paradise or who stick their heads in the sand like the ostrich, persuading themselves that if they do not see certain facts then those facts do not exist. I doubt if there are many who have not been shocked into a sense of the reality of the position by the brutal and cowardly assassination of the late Vice-President. Lest there be any, however, and for the better information of others, who have not always fully appreciated the responsibilities of the Executive Government in dealing with dangerous movements, I propose to show how revolutionary organisations have developed since 1923.

I start with 1923, because I think everybody is familiar with the revolutionary elements responsible for the civil war. The attack on the State, and the challenge to its institutions, which occupied a large part of the years 1922 and 1923, were undoubtedly largely the enterprise of a body of men who had banded themselves together, at least in a loose kind of way, in a military organisation with a definite headquarters control of a military character subject, nominally at least, to the alleged political control of those members of the Dáil who, having voted against the acceptance of the Treaty in January, 1922, formed themselves into an irresponsible political group. This political group appears to have had sufficient influence with the main body of irregulars to induce them to cease armed activity in May, 1923. By that date the National Forces had quelled the revolution to such an extent as to induce the leaders to abandon further armed activity. There was, however, never any surrender of arms, and there remained throughout the country numbers of irresponsible youths who, whilst dumping their arms, still regarded themselves as attached to companies, battalions and brigades of an irregular army organisation.

In the year 1924 efforts were made to reorganise the broken forces of the irregular army and paid organisers went round the country endeavouring to stir up revolutionary enthusiasm, inspecting dumps of arms, and enjoining the irregulars to train themselves in military duties. Pseudo courts-martial were set up to try various internees and others for having recognised the Government of the country by signing forms of undertaking, surrendering arms, giving bail, etc., and various persons including some very prominent irregulars were expelled from the irregular army organisation as a result. The headquarters staff and others were paid a weekly wage for their work.

The office where a lot of these activities were carried on was found by the police in August, 1925, in Roebuck House, Dublin. Many papers were captured there indicating who was Chief of Staff, Adjutant General and so on. The papers also indicated that efforts were then being made to purchase artillery in Germany and rifles in Italy and France. In or about the same time the whole intelligence records of the irregular forces were captured and a so called Director of Intelligence arrested. He was tried, refused to recognise the court, was found guilty and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. About the same time a very elaborate office with elaborate records was discovered at Dunboden House, in the Midlands, and a person arrested who, from the papers found, was, known as the Officer in Charge of the Midland Division of the Irregular Army Organisation.

I might perhaps add that this organisation extended its activities to Northern Ireland, a Belfast battalion being in existence. This Irregular Army Organisation was nominally under the control of Mr. de Valera, who at that time was regarded as the President of the Irish Republic, Mr. Sean Lemass being Minister for Defence and Mr. Frank Aiken Chief of Staff. At that time the organisation might be said to have been merely potential in its danger to the State; the gentlemen whom I have mentioned appear to have been able to maintain some degree of control and having half surrendered in May, 1923, did not deem it expedient to embark on any armed attack on a big scale. There is reason to suppose that certain elements of this organisation were anxious to establish some kind of secret society within it, the function of such a society being to control and direct policy and the manner in which the military organisation should be utilised. There is also reason to suppose that the more politically minded persons scented danger in such a departure and, as far as is known, they were successful in preventing any development on such lines.

Throughout 1925 the police seized large quantities of arms and ammunition and treasonable documents of all kinds, and succeeded in making it difficult for the irregular organisation to carry out any unlawful enterprises. In November, 1925, in the course of a search for arms and treasonable documents an important document was found on a prominent irregular leader who was known as Quartermaster-General. From this document it was clear that it was proposed to hold what was called an Army Convention, that is, a meeting of representatives from all over the country of the various units of the irregular army organisation. Notices of motion for such a convention were given in the document, many of which showed that in the organisation there were dangerous irresponsible elements. For example, one brigade said that the irregular army could not be maintained as an organisation if no policy other than that of constitutional agitation could be put forward; another that the army should not be subject to any political party whatsoever; another that "the Government," meaning Mr. de Valera's party at the time, should not accept any proposals affecting the independence of the country without first having the sanction of the then existing army council. Others advocated a coup d'etat; others that the age limit for recruits should be reduced to 16 years; others that the irregular army should be empowered to deal effectively with any public representative who solicited the support of any section of Republican opinion in any compromise with any foreign usurping authority—usurping authority being, of course, intended to refer to the Saorstát Government; others advocated the establishment of a fund or war chest for the purpose of financing a revolution; others that the organisation should get in touch with all revolutionary organisations within the British Empire with a view to joint action, and so on.

I will quote three of these notices of motion in full. They were as follows:—

(1) That a limited number of picked men be sworn into a Secret Military Organisation, the majority of its members being in Ireland, with others in England and America. That a clause be inserted in the Constitution of the Secret Organisation whereby all its members in whatever part of the world they may reside shall be liable to be called upon for active operation when and where required. That an open organisation on the same lines as the Irish Volunteers be formed, but its members to know only as much army policy and secrets as are absolutely necessary for them in the discharge of their duties. That both organisations be directed and controlled by a governing body or Supreme Council of, say, ten members of the Secret Organisation in Ireland, with one each from England and America, who could define army policy. That this Governing Body or Supreme Council choose one of its members to act in the position of Dictator to direct military policy.

(2) That a powerful Secret Military Organisation shall be built up in England, directed by about ten members of the Organisation sent over from Ireland for the purpose, with the intention of waging active military operations there in the event of England waging war against us or assisting the enemy of the Republic in time of war or revolution.

(3) We are of the opinion that the present policy of passive resistance is destroying the spirit and discipline of our army, and that the policy mentioned is not an effective way of making the enemy realise that they have a strong opposition in the Republican movement. Furthermore, we are of the opinion that the Free State Government completely ignores us as an opposition and believe that our army is being held only as a menace to their party, and consequently is quite harmless, and to combat this return of our menace, compliment us by passing Treason Bills which are to them very inexpensive. In view of this we request resort to other means which will have the desired effect. We are unanimous in adopting this resolution, and recommend it to the Army Convention for consideration. We may add that G.H.Q. has our full confidence as a Company.

At the Convention held on the 14th November, 1925, the constitution of the Irregular army organisation was completely altered. The army withdrew its allegiance from the "Government" (the Government meant Mr. de Valera and his confreres), and an Army Council with supreme authority and dictatorial powers was set up. At this stage, therefore, the Irregular army which had carried on the civil war under Mr. de Valera's direction and had remained nominally under his direction up to the end of 1925, now cut itself adrift completely from all control of any body who pretended to represent politically any section of the electorate and the various motions of a violent and revolutionary character, to some of which I have referred, were referred to the Army Council for decision without any comment from the Convention at large. We have a copy of the Constitution agreed on on this occasion. Membership was open to anybody over the age of 16 who accepted the objects as stated. These objects were to be secured by force of arms and military organisation to that end. An Army Council was duly constituted. We have the names of the first members of this Council. The Irregular Organisation subsequent to this date appear to have drifted away completely from Mr. de Valera. Amongst the various activities were, rescue of prisoners from Mountjoy, armed attacks on police stations, firing on police patrols, firing on military patrols, blowing up picture theatres and robbing banks— for example, at Ballinamore, where one of the raiders was shot by the police in a bank robbery, the raider was identified as a member of the Irregular organisation. In Cork a trap-mine was laid to murder members of the police force; attempts were made to intimidate jurors. The "O.C." of the Midland division whom I mentioned as having been captured in Dunboden House was amongst the prisoners rescued in Mountjoy and was later found in London with 16 revolvers in a suit-case. Armed raids on money lenders were carried out in Dublin, Limerick and other centres. The leaders in each case produced what they called official authority from the I.R.A. In November last a number of police stations were raided and two policemen were murdered. An Irregular paper published what they called an official statement in which the Irregular army organisation accepted responsibility for the raids.

We have many other indisputable proofs of the existence of an organisation with revolutionary objects to be achieved by force of arms—an organisation which grew out of Mr. de Valera's civil war, but, having grown up to a certain stage, cut aloof from his control and direction. The split in the Sinn Fein Organisation which gave rise to the formation of the new Fianna Fáil Party seems to have had certain repercussion effects in the ranks of the dictatorial Irregular army organisation, and we have information to show that a meeting of the so-called army council discussing the possibility of Mr. de Valera's Party entering the Dáil suggestion was made that any representative T.D. who took the Oath should be shot as a traitor. The army council however, despite their previous break away from any political affiliations, seem to have formed the opinion that the split in the Sinn Fein organisation was something that should be avoided and they appear to have taken upon themselves the rôle of peacemakers. We have already published the document issued by them on that occasion to the various units of their organisation when their efforts to secure cooperation between the various republican elements had failed. It will, perhaps, be useful to repeat the contents of that document:—

1. The Army Council directs that the following statement be issued on the above matter, and that the same be transmitted to Volunteers of all ranks:—

"For some time the Army Council had under consideration the situation existing in the Republican movement which was created by the division which arose in the Sinn Fein organisation over a year ago, and which led to the defection of a considerable membership of that organisation and the creation of a rival organisation known as Fianna Fáil.

"The Council realised that as the date of the General Election in the Free State drew near, the differences between the two organisations would be accentuated, and that it would be inevitable that these differences would involve volunteers; that morale, discipline and comradeship of the Army would in the result be affected detrimentally. The council was of opinion that if disunity did not exist, or if unity could be restored to the extent of getting the two political organisations and the Army to agree to such an arrangement as would enable them to work together at the elections, and to agree in advance as to the policy which would be pursued in the event of a majority of Republican Deputies being returned, there were indications that the present Imperial Colonial authorities could be defeated."

2. "It would only be to secure the return of a majority of Republican Deputies that the Army Council would consider it worth striving to get the necessary agreement. In its opinion the return of a minority only would not advance the Republic, but that on the contrary the existence of such a minority would be a factor of danger."

"In view of the advantages that would accrue from the election of a majority of Republican Deputies, it was felt that every effort should be made to achieve this result. The Council accordingly decided that the Chief of Staff should summon a meeting of the full General Headquarters Staff and of the Commanders of Independent Units, and ascertain their opinions. This meeting of Officers was held on the 9th of April."

3. "The Army Council placed before this meeting for its consideration, proposals which it believed would constitute a basis for agreement between Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Oglaigh na h-Eireann, and which would be acceptable to all Republicans."

"These proposal were considered in detail by the Officers, and the proposals which were to be submitted to the other organisations were agreed to." The following are the proposals:—


1. That all bodies stand for the restoration of the Republican Government as the de facto Government of the Republic of Ireland.

2. That as a means to achieve this end at the forthcoming elections, and to prevent clashing and overlapping, a panel of candidates shall be agreed to by the bodies.


1. That for the purpose of this agreement a National Board shall be constituted, consisting of:—

(Here would be inserted names of personnel to be agreed on.)

(a) All panel candidates must be approved by the National Board before being adopted.

(b) The Board shall remain in constant session during the election.

(c) The Board shall deal with cases of friction arising out of this agreement and shall give decisions on any matters requiring them.

(d) The Board shall see that the Pact is faithfully observed.

(e) The Board shall ensure co-ordination of all necessary activities.

(f) The Board shall before the election select the personnel of the Executive or Cabinet.

(g) The Board shall in all cases of doubt in the interpretation of this agreement be final interpreters and in all cases its decisions shall be binding on the members of the Board and on the parties to the agreement.


1. A joint appeal or manifesto shall be issued by the parties to this agreement appealing to all voters to support the panel candidates. This appeal or manifesto shall either be issued by the National Board or shall have its approval.

2. Each party shall be free to issue one election address each for all panel candidates who are nominees of its party. These election addresses shall be submitted for approval of the National Board. The following must be explicitly stated in each such address and in the public pronouncements of the candidates:—

(a) The repudiation of the Treaty.

(b) The repudiation of partition.

(c) The repudiation of all financial and other arrangements or obligations entered into with the Government of Great Britain.

(d) The abolition of a standing army and the organisation of the defence forces on a territorial basis.

3. Each panel candidate shall sign a pledge and an undertaking, pledging undivided allegiance to the Republic of Ireland proclaimed on Easter Monday, 1916, and by law established on the 21st day of January, 1919, and undertaking that he or she will not take an oath or make a declaration of allegiance to the British King or his representatives or to the Constitution of the Irish Free State or to any other imposed Constitution.


1. The successful panel candidates shall meet immediately after the election.

They will elect the Executive or Cabinet previously selected by the National Board.

They will then adopt the Ministerial policy for urgent economic matters.

The Executive or Cabinet will then proceed to the necessary administrative steps to give effect to this policy.


1. The military situation shall be dealt with in accordance with the following line of policy:—

(a) The removal from Dublin and vicinity of all enemy military forces, and this being done, that they be disarmed and demobilised.

(b) All armament to be placed under the control of Oglaigh na hEireann.

(c) The maintenance of Oglaigh na hEireann, and the placing of the Organisation on a Territorial basis.

(d) That the Army Council of Oglaigh na hEireann shall be the Advisory Council to the Minister of Defence.


1. The Second Dáil Eireann and the present Republican Government shall retain their present position until a Government functions as the de facto Government of the Republic of Ireland.


1. The signatories to this agreement shall solemnly bind themselves both by oath and in writing to carry out in every way and to do their utmost to secure the carrying out by their followers and colleagues of every clause of this agreement and every decision of the National Board, and, if they in any way fail to do this, to resign and retire from public life.

4. "The proposals were submitted by the Army Council to the Standing Committee of Sinn Fein Organisation, and to the National Executive of the Fianna Fáil Organisation.

"The following are the official replies received from these organisations:—

"FROM SINN FEIN:—`The Standing Committee is prepared to accept your invitation to send two delegates to meet two delegates from your body and two delegates from Fianna Fáil in conference, on the understanding that our delegates' powers are limited to the extent of the guarantees of which a copy is enclosed. Unless this basis is accepted the Standing Committee cannot see its way to send delegates.'

"The following are the guarantees set forth by Sinn Fein:—

1. That members of Fianna Fáil should give a guarantee that they will not enter any foreign controlled Parliament as a minority or majority, with, or without an oath, or other formal declaration.

2. That in the event of getting a Republican majority the representatives of all Ireland will be summoned immediately, and the Free State Constitution and all Imperial commitments will be repudiated.

3. That the Government of the Republic is recognised as the only lawful Government of the country.

"FROM FIANNA FÁIL:—`The memo. on suggested basis for co-operation between the Republican parties for the general election was placed before the National Executive at its meeting on yesterday. It was unanimously decided that the proposals were not acceptable as a basis for discussion.'

"In acknowledging this communication to Fianna Fáil, the Army Council asked: `As you do not indicate that the objections were to any particular proposal, is the Council to take it that the entire proposals were unacceptable?' To this communication Fianna Fáil replied: `We have to inform you that the proposals were not discussed in detail.'

5. "In view of the reception accorded to our proposals by the two political parties the Army Council decided that nothing further could usefully be done in the way of endeavouring to achieve co-ordination, and so cease their efforts in this direction.

6. "The Army Council reiterates the view that the election of a majority only of Republican Deputies, who would repudiate the so-called Treaty, and all Imperial commitments entered into as a sequel to it, is really worth securing; that while the present division exists in the Republican movement there is little hope of such a majority being returned. The energies of Volunteers if elected as Deputies are therefore in danger of being frittered away in futile political agitation, calculated to divert their minds and activities from the means set forth by Oglaigh na hEireann to achieve our object. Having done its utmost to secure co-ordination between the different Republican bodies and having failed, the Army Council feels it its duty to impress on Volunteers that the chief object of Oglaigh na hEireann, i.e., to establish and uphold a lawful Government in sole and absolute control of the Republic, can more surely be achieved by the means set forth in the Constitution, namely:—

1. "Force of arms.

2. "Organising, training, and equipping the manhood of Ireland as an effective military force.

On these means it directs that Volunteers must mainly concentrate, and genuine national activities directed to the creation of a revolutionary situation favourable for military action should be supported actively by Volunteers. With many citizens the contesting of elections is regarded as an end in itself. With us doing so can only be a means to an end. After the overwhelming Republican victory at the polls in December, 1918, a war had to be fought. That electoral victory undoubtedly put us in a strong position to wage war, as also would such a victory help us again. It is the impossibility at present, without co-ordination, of gaining it that influences the Army Council to urge concentration on other methods.

7. "In conclusion, the Council demands that each Volunteer will give undivided allegiance and unquestioning obedience to the Army authority and to officers. When Army orders may be held by any party to be in conflict with its policy or programme, and with which a Volunteer may be affiliated, he must obey such orders. A Volunteer who gives conditional allegiance is of no use to Oglaigh na hEireann; he may prove to be a positive danger in times of difficulty or crisis."

8. "You are hereby ordered to have the above statement of the Army Council transmitted to all ranks in your unit without delay. You will order the holding of Council meetings and parades at which it will be read at once. Have sufficient copies made and circulated."

We have now, in May, 1927, reached the stage where the Irregulars had finally broken with all political affiliations following on the rejection of their overtures for co-operation between themselves, Sinn Fein and Fianna Fáil. It may be assumed that all those vicissitudes led to many defections from the organisation as it existed in the civil war, and as it existed after the Convention held in the end of 1925, when the new Army Council was constituted, and we may assume that the men still left in some kind of organisation with revolutionary aims, and based on force of arms, were the more desperate, irresponsible and dangerous elements. This is the organisation, however, which repudiated the assassination of Mr. O'Higgins. Whilst it is assumed that this organisation as a whole did not plot and carry out the assassination of Mr. O'Higgins there is very little doubt that some section of it did, and that is a matter which remains to be investigated. It is clear, however, that this revolutionary organisation is a menace to the peace and security of the people, and to the lives and liberties of the people, and steps must be taken to break it up and to make its continued existence impossible or at least difficult. So long as you have such organisations you will have young men joining them and learning to acquire the adventurous revolutionary outlook. Many of these young men will not have known the horrors of civil war, will be inspired with some false romanticism, some species of heroism, and will be filled with a desire to emulate the deeds of others who went before them.

The members of this organisation who have taken upon themselves the rôle of assassin will, if steps are not taken to cope with them, plot to carry out more hideous and violent crimes. There is no shadow of doubt whatever that the assassination of Mr. O'Higgins was not the work of some individual or individuals inspired with some personal hatred or some desire for revenge—Mr. O'Higgins was assassinated because he was Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for Justice. The men who committed this hideous and brutal crime will commit other crimes if steps are not taken either to capture them or to deprive them of that moral assistance, which persons, who are not prepared to go as far as they do, will give them. There is no doubt that many activities carried on and many statements made by various people who dislike the present Government or the present Constitution encourage more desperate men to embark on evil deeds. The dissemination of seditious literature, the formation of societies to preach sedition and violence and hatred of the State and its institutions, all inevitably provide the soil from whence the more thoroughgoing revolutionary and assassin springs.

The Public Safety Bill contains the minimum powers which the Executive feels are necessary to cope with the present position, and I think that Deputies would be lacking in a sense of responsibility, lacking in a proper regard for the stability of the State and its institutions, callous of the personal safety of the Ministers of State and of public representatives if they declined to give to the Executive the powers now asked for.

I now come to the Bill itself. When dealing with a civil war position experience has shown us that the Constitution imposes no undue limitations on the Executive Government. In normal peace times the Firearms Act, the Treasonable Offences Act, and the general criminal code are perhaps not inadequate; but for dealing with a position midway between these two conditions we have at present no suitable powers. To deal with the remnant of the organisation which was responsible for the Civil War, and in particular that portion thereof which has now made up its mind to resort to assassination as a political weapon, we require something more than a direct attack on those immediately concerned. We must deal with the insidious and poisonous propaganda which their camp followers delight to indulge in. There are persons in the country who perhaps would not adopt assassination as a political weapon to attain their ends, but when that end happens to be the same as that of the assassins it will happen that the assassins will not be altogether denied moral support, if not directly at least by innuendo.

To preserve, in particular, the youth of the country, the hysterical, the morbid, the neurotic and the impressionable elements of the country from inoculation with poisonous doctrines and ideas, it is, in our judgment, absolutely essential that the Executive should have power to suppress all associations of persons who set out to achieve a particular object, whether lawful or not in itself, by violent or criminal means. If such associations are allowed to flourish they will inevitably breed assassins and criminals. The Bill, therefore, proposes that the Executive should have power to declare associations which advocate or suggest violence to be unlawful, and membership of such associations will then become criminal, to be punished as such.

The possession of documents relating to unlawful associations will be a criminal offence, and will also imply membership of such associations, punishable accordingly, unless the contrary is proved.

To deal with young persons under 16 who are at present being educated in violence, a special place of detention will be established, wherein such young persons may be kept for a period, not longer than one year, and the parents and guardians of such young offenders will be held responsible.

It will be an offence to publish any matter concerning associations which have been duly declared to be unlawful, and the printers of such documents will be liable to have their printing machinery forfeited. Newspapers or other periodicals may be suppressed on an order of the High Court on proof that the paper has published seditious matter, or matter emanating from an unlawful association, and power is taken to prohibit the importation of newspapers of a dangerous character.

Power is also taken for the expulsion of dangerous persons. It is contemplated that the Executive would be in a position to form an opinion as to the persons responsible for plotting against the State, but in certain circumstances it may be difficult to produce evidence that would satisfy a court. It may be quite clear that certain persons are a menace to the public security, but yet it might be difficult to have them dealt with by a court. In these circumstances it is a reasonable precaution to make it more difficult for such persons to carry on their conspiracies.

Power is also taken to enable persons to be detained pending the investigations of serious crime. When a serious outrage takes place it frequently takes a considerable time for the police to complete their investigations. It is an entirely unreasonable thing to expect them to make their case the day after the outrage. It is equally ridiculous that dangerous persons who might reasonably be suspected of having some connection with the outrage should be allowed to move about at large, free to conspire to carry on further crimes. I understand that in other countries it is a part of the normal law that persons should be detained without remand pending the investigation of serious crime.

To deal with insults to State authority by criminals who refuse to recognise the authority of the court, such refusal is made a crime in itself, duly punishable. It is perfectly absurd that persons who enjoy the protection and security of the Constitution and the State should openly flout its authority when charged with serious crime. It may satisfy certain neurotic people, but I think it would be healthy to give these neurotics less opportunity for satisfying their desire for the sensational.

Power is also taken in the case of persons found guilty of offences under the Treasonable Offences Act or the Bill to make them ineligible for employment under or for pensions from certain public authorities.

By way of provision for the future, in case further outrages take place, and also by way of warning to persons now contemplating such outrages, power is taken to set up a special court which, at the option of the Executive Council, will be a military court. I propose to take out the provision in the Bill for an alternative court of three judges. These powers will be invoked if secret organisations continue their plan of violence, or if any attempts are made to interfere with the ordinary courts. In the event of such special courts having to be set up the death penalty will be imposed for treason or murder, and may be imposed for the unlawful possession of firearms.

Let me repeat that the assassination of the Vice-President was the work of a section of the remnant of the armed organisation which was responsible for the Civil War. The assassination was plotted and carried out as a blow against the security of the State, and those responsible will attempt to carry out further deeds of violence if special steps are not taken to show them that they have no chance of success. To apprehend and punish the actual assassins, or the conspirators behind them, would be of the utmost value and importance, but it is equally important to make it clear that the people are not going to be overawed by violence, and that revolutionary changes in the Constitution are not likely to be achieved by deeds of violence. We regard the present Bill as moderate. It is not panicky. No law-abiding citizen has any reason whatsoever to be afraid of its provisions. It is the minimum that any government entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the State or preserving the public peace or security could ask for. It is, possibly, too moderate in parts.

I ask the Dáil to give the people a chance to live their lives in peace and security, and to consider the disastrous economic effects, including much unemployment, which are likely to ensue if powers are denied to the Executive to deal effectively with the menace to stability which is indicated by the assassination of the Vice-President. We feel that we are doing our part to protect the public, and we ask the Dáil for full co-operation in our heavy task.

The question before the House is: "That the Public Safety Bill, 1927, be read a Second Time." The amendment on the paper in the name of Deputy Johnson is not in order in its present form and it could not be so moved.

I was informed by you that the amendment in its present form was not in order. Perhaps I should say that I did follow the advice that you have given so many Deputies and consulted the staff before putting it on the paper. But even they, strange as it may seem, are not infallible. However, after consultation with you I propose to alter the amendment with a view to securing that the Bill, instead of being now read a second time, should be read a second time this day fortnight, which, in effect, means that the Dáil, having discussed the measure and the policy embodied in the measure and in its associated measures, would ask the Executive Council to take this Bill back and to reconsider it in the light of the discussion, the criticism and the public opinion that has been drawn to its extraordinary and most drastic powers. I say most drastic, in reference particularly to the powers that are sought to be granted to the Executive. Perhaps I should say that on the 8th July there was no proposition, then for every man that is struck of these Bills. The President has told tion to introduce into the Dáil either us that the occasion for the introduc-Kevin O'Higgins, the Vice-President. I think it is no harm to repeat that the assassination of any statesman is not going to bring down the State, that any body of people who may think that a policy of assassination is going to be effective in destroying the State misunderstands the whole mentality of the people and misunderstands the reactions of any such policy. I think if such people have any idea at all as to the healthy mind of any community living in this country they ought to understand that the result of the assassination of a statesman is most certainly bound to rally to the State all healthy-minded citizens.

There was no heroism, there was nothing but what was ignoble, cowardly and vicious in the assassination of Kevin O'Higgins. The people who were guilty of that crime will not be recorded in history as heroes; they will not be the subjects of future admiration; they will be execrated in the public memory. If this act was, as the President has suggested, the initiation of a new policy of political assassination of this Bill was the murder of Mr. down there will be one, or as many as necessary, to take his place, and unless we have that view it is foolish to talk of the State having been established, and it is foolish to talk of the success of the Oireachtas and the Executive Council in their attempts to bring law and order into normal operation. Popular government, such as has been guaranteed by the Constitution, removes every vestige or trace of excuse or justification for political assassination.

I want to say, too, that in taking the view I do of this Bill I, and those who are acting with me, are quite ready and prepared to give to the Executive whatever powers are necessary for the prevention of crime, for the suppression of criminal activities, and for the arrest and punishment of criminals. When I speak of criminals I am including people engaged in treasonable activities, the possession and use of arms. But this Bill goes very much further than that, and I shall deal with that in a little while. I think we cannot consider this Bill satisfactorily without having regard, not merely to the professed intentions of the Bill: to seek out and punish criminals, but to the necessity for the Bill, having regard to the powers that the Executive already possesses, and the increased effectiveness that will be granted if the Bill were passed, and also to the effect on the public mind. It was suggested to me, in the course of the President's speech, that all the damage that one feared might be done by the introduction of this Bill has been done by his speech, and that all the damage that he professes to have a desire to prevent in the way of loss of confidence and public disquiet has been effected by the introduction of these Bills and emphasised by the speech he has made to-day. But on examination it might be found that there is not so much justification for that conclusion, because those of us who have been in the House know that much of the record that the President recited in justification of the introduction of this Bill has already been recited to the House to justify the introduction of the last Bill passed in December—the Emergency Powers Bill—and he has repeated to-day much of the evidence which he presented to the House at that time. So that while the statement might be disquieting as indicating a very serious state of insurrection under the surface throughout the country, it is not anything like so bad as the President would have us believe. If it were so, after five years of authority, it is a sad comment upon the claims made by the Ministry in regard to their success in the suppression of disorder and criminal activities.

I do not doubt that there remain elements in the country who are organised in a conspiracy to bring down the State by force of arms, and that they are quite prepared to use the weapon of assassination, quite prepared to use any other weapon, whether individual assassination or the assassination of groups of people, or the destruction of public buildings, to bring down the State. I am willing to admit they exist. Is the detection and prevention of that class of crime going to be benefited by the many sections of this Bill? That is the question. Is this Bill going to add to the effectiveness of the Executive arm in seeking out criminals, in detecting crime and in bringing the offenders to justice? The policy of the Government seems to have been that, having had a blow by the assassin, it is a rightful, necessary action of the State to respond by one hundred times a severer blow at nothing, a blow at nothing, but a blow—to make a shot at something, at the air. That resulted in the introduction of a Bill ostensibly aimed at the secret military forces, and other Bills openly aimed at the suppression of a rival political party. I think, as a matter of public policy, the introduction of those three Bills is about as blind and as impotent an action as any Executive Council were ever guilty of. They will not add to the quietude of the State. They will not add to the growing sense of political responsibility in a very considerable section of the people. I think that had we had an Executive with the proper regard for the necessity for encouraging a return to political sanity, they would rather have attempted to encourage that movement than turn it back into courses of violence and disintegration.

The President read out certain documents which, in themselves, were evidence of the steady progress towards ordinary normal political activities on the part of the Party which has the support of one-third of the electorate. That body sought the confidence of the people and were defeated by two to one. That defeat in itself was, in my opinion, an extremely valuable lesson to that political Party, a lesson which was being learned, and we should have had in due time, I am quite confident, the result in a complete disavowal of interest in or support of any political movement which may be allied or associated with revolutionary armed activity. I think one might say, even at this stage, that the Fianna Fáil Party at any rate have clearly dissociated themselves from revolution by armed force and they are, as is obvious, turning their attention to what they think to be a constitutional right. I suppose the occasion will come for discussion in a more detailed aspect of this question, but it is necessary in considering the Bill before us to have regard to its association with the other Bills, all of which are introduced as part of the policy of the Government and the effect of which is to associate in the public mind the political Party which is using the normal political measures guaranteed by the Constitution with the revolutionary element which is clearly out to use force. I say that the very fact that such a combination of Bills is introduced simultaneously is evidence of a state of mind in the Ministry that makes it dangerous to arm them with these powers.

The President has told us that these powers that are sought for are the minimum which they need to cope with the present situation. I really am surprised and sorry to think that, with the evidence in their possession, Ministers have come to the conclusion that these are the minimum powers they require to cope with the present situation. It seems to indicate that the conspiracy against the State is very much more widespread and has very much more support in the country than I or any other member outside the Executive Council believes or believed. We have heard it said many times in the last fortnight how valuable and necessary it is to have public opinion expressing itself as abhorring and detesting crime, and that the fact in itself that there is a general public opinion of detestation against crime and criminals is the best means of bringing to naught any such criminal conspiracy. I believe that is the truth, but the inference one can draw from the President's statement is that this state of mind is not so very widespread at all, but that the country, to a very great degree, is, in fact, in sympathy with this criminal conspiracy. I, for one, do not believe it. It is because I do not believe it that I think the picture painted by the President is over-coloured and has been painted simply for the purpose of inducing the Dáil to give the Government the powers they seek.

I get periodically copies of an international circular, which is circulated, I suppose, all over the world. Yesterday I received a copy, and it contained an article by a prominent European statesman, from which I will quote:—

"No one will contest the right of the Soviet Union to lock-up spies and conspirators, but is it necessary to do what is done by no other Government in Europe, namely, to shoot them? In times of acute civil war, executions may be unavoidable as a means of revolutionary self-defence. At present, however, there is no civil war in Russia, and the Soviet régime is far too firmly established to need defending by a bloody terror which does it far more harm abroad than can be compensated by the intimidation of opponents at home."

With necessary alterations, it seems to me if this Bill becomes law and is made operative a not dissimilar statement may be circulated, with the result of giving the Irish Free State a character similar to that which is being given to the Soviet Union.

In December last the President read certain documents in introducing the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Bill, 1926. In the course of his statement he said: "It may be possible to trace the misguided individuals who actually took part in the raids, but the chief instigators, the real criminals, though they are well known to the police, are very careful to avoid as far as possible leaving evidence which would secure their conviction in a court of law." Power, therefore, was given of arrest and internment. That power was given to be used only when a state of emergency had been declared. I do not think a state of emergency has been declared since the first period elapsed, and such people as were interned were released. I asked the President when we were discussing that Bill, in view of the very considerable powers that were given to the Executive, whether he was not prepared to consider the continuation of such powers from year to year rather than to make it a permanent enactment, and the President said: "I gave that matter the most careful possible consideration, and I do say that in my judgment the bringing in of a measure such as this disturbs public confidence and upsets people." Later he said: "We will suppose for a moment that at the end of twelve months there will be no necessity to utilise this measure, but that some incidents occur later which would make necessary the introduction of a Bill such as this, that Bill would be introduced and public opinion would be shaken. If the Deputy were in possession of the information on matters of that kind which is in the hands of the Government I am sure he would not need any persuasion to convince him that public confidence is very easily shaken and upset, and that the smaller the number of measures that have to be put through the Oireachtas in order to ensure public safety, the better."

The powers that were granted in the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Bill, following on the Treasonable Offences Bill, appear not to have enabled the Government to succeed in suppressing this insurrectionary movement. To what degree they have been applied I cannot say, but it seems to me that the necessity is rather to use the powers with the efficient police that you have than to introduce a Bill containing the powers which are sought in the Public Safety Bill, 1927. I wonder do Deputies realise what is meant by these minimum powers? The Ministers ask us to trust them, that they will only use these powers for the suppression of physical force organisations that are aiming at the overthrow of the State by force of arms, but the powers in this Bill are immensely wider than that. To begin with, we are asked for a period of seven years to negative, to annul, some of the most important provisions of the Constitution.

In the same speech in December last the President said: "In the Constitution are found safeguards for the liberty of the citizens. Those who endeavour to endanger that liberty so definitely guaranteed must be shown that that which has been dearly bought and dearly prized will be stoutly defended." We are now asked to hand over for seven years those liberties which were guaranteed by the Constitution, to consider them of no effect, and the Constitution which we have been preaching is one that guarantees liberty for the individual, which ensures public rights, is automatically, by the enactment of this Bill, annulled and brought to nothing. Any combination of persons, whether or not they have a distinctive name as an association, which the Executive may declare to be an unlawful association—which means that any association of any kind whatsoever, whether it has a form of constitution or not— any number of people whom the Executive Council may consider in any way whatever associated, may be declared an unlawful association, and then may be subject to the provisions of this Bill. It is not, as the President has suggested, confined to associations which have as their object the alteration by force of the Constitution, or the encouragement of any physical force organisation, but to any organisation which the Government may think at any time, in any circumstances, may come under the description "seditious," which promotes, encourages, or advocates the commission of offences, becomes at once an unlawful assembly, and every person who cannot prove that he is not a member of it may be sent to a military court to be tried.

That is not in the Bill.

That is the Bill, sir.

Read the Military Court Section.

As soon as these special courts are established, every person arrested and charged can then be sent forward for trial for any of the offences stated in this Bill or the Treasonable Offences Act or the Firearms Act and will be triable by a Military Court.

As soon as the courts have been established.

As soon as the courts have been established. For seven years without the establishment of any special courts the greater part of this Bill will be in operation in relation to the associations and bodies declared by the Executive Council to be unlawful associations and certain penalties are incurred by membership of the unlawful associations, or for failure to prove non-membership of an unlawful association. There is an interesting section of the Bill which I ask Deputies to take note of, as indicating the quality of the powers which are the minimum of what are necessary.

"Any member of the Gárda Síochána may stop and search and may also arrest without warrant any person whom he believes to be carrying any treasonable or seditious documents, and may search any such person, and, whether arresting him or not, may seize and detain all documents carried by him which appear to such member to be treasonable or seditious."

Now, we have Guards in large numbers throughout the country, many of whom have not had a great deal of experience, many of whom have come through revolutionary organisations and activities and find themselves now in the Guards, with good intentions, no doubt, but to put that temptation into a Guard's hand and tell him he is authorised, whether in uniform or not, to hold up any person anywhere and take from that person any books or papers he wishes, and then let the person go on, is a power we have no right to give to any authority of the kind. That is the power we are asked to give in these minimum authorities the Government asks for.

Then we have the power of expulsion. This is not waiting for a state of emergency; we are not dealing with times of revolution or disorder in the State, but the normal operation of the law for the next seven years is to give to this Government, and any succeeding Government, the right to say to any citizen of this country "clear out, get off the earth, and if you do not, you are bound to serve six months' hard labour." There is no alternative; six months' hard labour is the penalty for a citizen of the Free State living in the Free State. Where is he to go? Will the Ministry of External Affairs issue a passport to such a person?

On payment of a fee.

I wonder. Dare they issue a passport signed by the Governor-General asking that every care and consideration be given to this citizen of the Free State? Obviously they will not issue such a passport to that person, and the only country that person may go to without a passport is Northern Ireland or Great Britain. Do you think he will go to Northern Ireland and remain there very long?

The effect of this is that these conspirators will find their way, if they leave the country, to Great Britain. I wonder if there has been any compact with Mr. Joynson Hicks with regard to this deportation. Is it agreed that Mr. Joynson Hicks is going to welcome the conspirators from the Irish Free State, and is going to take care that these conspirators will act as simple innocent citizens when they land in England? Is it not much more likely that these deported or expelled citizens who are alleged by the Free State Ministers to be undesirable citizens should form themselves into cliques, secret organisations for the purpose of carrying on armed activities against the Government in Ireland under the cover or protection of the British police?

The President read out a document which appears to make certain suggestions, or proposals, from one of the companies or brigades—I do not know what the term was—one section of the Republican Army, a proposal that they should have a secret body actively engaged in Great Britain. The Minister responds by helping to organise that body of secret conspirators and by deporting the very men he knows, or professes to know, are the powers behind the assassins. I suggest that under this power it is not only conspirators of this nature who are going to be deported. Any inconvenient public man is to be deported, or may be deported, by this Government, or its successors, at the will of the Government. There is to be no constitutional protection against that sort of thing. We, at least, ought to bear the pains that our own citizens impose on us. We have no right to throw out the undesirables and impose them on another country.

They may be induced to fix up a colony for themselves somewhere.

The Minister asks for this power and for several other powers, which will probably come under discussion, as the minimum powers required. It has been said that these penalties will not be suffered until special courts have been authorised. Let me point out that the special courts are not being set up when a state of emergency has been declared; they may be set up, and presumably will be set up, immediately this Bill is passed; and when they are set up any person who is being charged with any of the offences which are contained within this Bill, within the Firearms Act, within the Treasonable Offences Act, will be immediately triable by military court. Again, we have some of the protection of the Constitution thrown over automatically. A military court is much more liable to be influenced by the Executive Council than the regular Judiciary, and persons are sent to a military court with the expectation that they will act somewhat outside the regular course of trial, and some, perhaps, with a little less regard to the niceties of the law and the reasonable protection of the citizen.

The impression is being created through certain newspapers which I have read that these trials by military courts are only to be trials of men engaged in military activities. That is not so. Any of the offences under this very wide range of offences—and anything can be called sedition—is to be tried by a military court on the instruction of the Executive Council. I hope that the House will not agree to this Bill. I hope the House will make up its mind that the powers sought here are wider than are necessary to protect the State, that they give too much power into the hands of the Executive at any time within the next seven years as the normal procedure, and that they deprive the regular citizenry of the country of the protection which they have hitherto been proud to claim as a result of the first act of self-government. Some of us hoped that the almost universal public protest and the expression of abhorrence of the crime of assassination would have evoked something different from these measures as a reaction; that you would have rather sought to aim at securing the co-operation of all sections of the public outside the actual criminal conspiracy itself, to seek out the criminals and, in furtherance of that universal compaign, to protect the State on behalf of the populace; that you would gather together a general sentiment of sympathy with efforts for rebuilding, reconstruction, and strengthening. Instead of that, however, I am afraid that the opportunity has been lost, that this proposal, coupled with the other two proposals, is merely out to embitter, to create a feeling of antagonism to the State in the minds, not of those who are going to be affected, the treason-mongers, but the other people who are rapidly coming away from treason, or thoughts of treason, from sedition, or thoughts of sedition. You will throw back these people into feelings of animosity intensified against the State. If the House agrees to my amendment, postponing the Second Reading of this Bill for fourteen days, the effect of it would be an instruction that there should be a new Bill brought in with powers confined to increasing police measures, having to deal with arms and armed forces which will not destroy the protection which the Constitution has given us. That would make a bid for the support of large sections of the people who would wish to support the State, but who are being repelled more and more by this kind of vindictive proposal. I, therefore, will ask the House to agree that the motion be amended by the introduction of the words "fortnight from to-day" instead of having the Second Reading of the Bill taken now.

The main question was "That the Bill be now read a second time." Deputy Johnson has moved an amendment "to delete the word `now' and insert at the end of the motion `this day fortnight.' " The main question will then read: "That the Bill be read a second time this day fortnight."

To-day we have Deputy Johnson in his worst form. We have him fighting shadows, alarmed at shadows, talking about dangers which, I think, he knows very well have no reality, and making little of the dangers of which we have had ample proof. He talks about this measure as being vindictive—he used that word in almost his last sentence—and when a man talks about measures, aimed solely at preventing a repetition of crimes such as we have had recently, as vindictive, he surely has not considered what the facts of the case are at all. We do not want to disturb confidence. We have always tried to foster confidence. We have put the best aspect on things consistently, because we do not deny that Couéism has its value, and if you say that things are well and that things are improving, it tends to help them to improve. On the other hand, when we are up against real danger to the State and to the people, we must not refrain from taking adequate measures merely because we will disturb public confidence. It is a very short view which thinks that public confidence will be disturbed by measures such as this. What would really disturb public confidence would be allowing Ministers of the State to be shot down by political assassins, who are aiming at the overthrow of the State. We are taking no measures that would disturb confidence and disturb people who are well-disposed and who wish things to progress here.

Public sentiment is very important, but public sentiment, unless it results in action, will not suffice. Deputy Johnson laid great stress on what would be thought of these men in the future who shot down Kevin O'Higgins, and he talked of the public protest and the abhorrence that is felt for this murder, But the men who committed the murder, and the men who conspired to have the murder committed, are not going to be influenced by talk like that. The man who, when Kevin O'Higgins lay on the ground, put his pistol to his ear and fired a shot into it, and then got over him and put his foot on his prostrate body, is not going to be influenced by public protest nor by loose talk about public sentiment.

When you are dealing with that sort of conspiracy positive measures are necessary. We propose the positive measures in this Bill. Deputy Johnson said—and I do not know what warrant he had for saying it—that presumably special courts would be set up forthwith. We have no intention to set up special courts forthwith. We only intend to set up special courts if it is necessary to set them up in order to secure that justice is done. If these three men who did the shooting could be arrested and brought before a jury of the city of Dublin and duly hanged, it would be the best thing that could be done. If we can get them we are going to try it. But we just want them to know that as the State cannot be brought down by assassination neither can the administration of justice be stopped by assassination, and that whatever happens about the taking of these men, the best thing for them and for those who are with them is to let the ordinary administration of justice go ahead.

You have English radical writers talking about the folly of what this Government is doing. If there is anything that would convince us that we were right it would be the comments of these radical journalists, whose Party always made a mess of everything in this country. We do not want a policy of refusing to take measures in time, of letting the situation get worse and worse, and taking no powers until it is almost too late to take them. We propose, instead of tempting these people along the course, by refraining from taking the powers that we believe will be adequate, to take those powers now. We will not use the powers unless it is necessary to use them, but they will be there as a warning and as a preventive.

Deputy Johnson said that the need for these measures—the need for any measure in fact, so far as I could gather—against this new menace was an indication that no progress has been made in restoring stability and order, that there is no justification, because we find this necessary now, for the statements that we made about progress. But it is just because progress has been made that this new menace has arisen. This new menace arises out of the breaking up of the Irregular military organisation. It arises out of the conviction, which has grown in the minds of some of those associated with that military organisation, that they can no longer carry it on, that there is no hope and no possibility of any general armed attack against the State, and since we have been successful in finding arms and, to a very large extent, in breaking up that organisation, these men have determined to resort to assassination.

We had some hopes that we would get over the danger-point—that no assassination would take place. If no assassination had taken place until the political situation resolved itself, as it is resolving itself, then assassination, I believe, would not have taken place. But once the campaign has been started, the very start of the campaign, the firing of the first shot, brings about a new situation, and makes the menace a real one. There are men who would not have fired the first shot, who would be willing to fire the second. We all know that there are men who would have held back, but when this has been done will regard it as the breaking of the ice, and, consequently, we have not to minimise the menace but to realise what it is and take our steps.

The State is not going to be overthrown by assassination—there is no danger of that. But what you can do by refusing to take adequate steps is to give the State a trend of development from which it would be very difficult to bring it back. If no adequate steps were taken there is no doubt in the mind of anybody who has examined, and who is at all in touch with the situation, that further attempts would be made, and if any further attempts were made, and successfully made, there is grievous danger that a situation would arise which could not be easily controlled. It is not in the interests of democracy to refuse to make preparations in advance that would prevent things going wrong. We are doing this in the interests of the individual. It is often more in the interests of the liberty of the individual to take adequate steps to defeat criminal conspiracy than to put high-sounding things on paper in our Constitution and to leave them there, perhaps meaning nothing. Because what matters to the individual is how he is enabled to carry on his life and his work. What is in the Constitution is important, but if it does not go down to the life of the individual, it is of very little consequence, and if you reach the position where adequate steps cannot be taken for the protection of the elected representatives for the democratic government of the people, then any guarantees of liberty to the individual would be of very little value.

Deputy Johnson dealt with many of the details of the Bill. He dealt with the question of expulsion and said we could not give passports to those people. I see no reason why passports should not be given to them. They are people whose danger is here and perhaps in England, but if they were elsewhere they would not be a danger, and I see no reason why passports should not be given to them. In any case, we all know that there are men here whose records, activities, expressed beliefs and associates indicate them to be men whose presence here is dangerous, and it is reasonable to give power to have them expelled, in view of what has happened, even if nothing can be proved against them. We have already power to put people in internment against whom we can prove nothing. It is a less thing to tell a man that he must live elsewhere than to put him behind barbed wire and put a sentry over him, so that the power that is being asked is not as drastic a power against the individual as the power which has already been granted by the Dáil. But you cannot keep men interned for any considerable period, and you must let dangerous men out again. You can, if you expel them, keep them out of the country, and out of the places where they can do damage, for a considerable length of time.

Deputy Johnson read some opinions about Russia, and said that we had only to alter words and the same position would arise here. He must have known that there was no justification for that remark of his. Presumably he has read the Bill. There is no suggestion that people be put to death for anything other than offences that in normal times merit death and are punished by death except only that of carrying arms.

Treason is punished by death.

By the Teheka, or the new military courts.

The Deputy talks fine and large about sympathy, and the efforts which should be made to rally to the State, but when we come down to details he is willing to do nothing except to throw a false light upon what is proposed. When we are at large, Deputy Johnson talks about his instructions to bring in the new Bill, but whatever Bill we might bring in, he would say it was a damnable assault upon the rights of the individual, and that it should be withdrawn and that we should trust to public sentiment. Now, I think that the Dáil will not accept that view. The Dáil will accept the view that when a menace appears we shall take steps to prevent its growth; that we do not hide our heads in the sand, and do not bother about the opinions of some radical writers in English papers, but that we do the thing which will protect the ordinary individual. Deputy Johnson talks about the danger of entrusting powers to the Executive. The present Executive, I do not think, has ever abused the powers entrusted to them, and I am confident that any Executive that may follow and get support in this House, will not abuse the powers that might be entrusted to them. In fact, I think that if there is any feeling in this country, it is a feeling for leniency, and that there is no danger in giving these powers which are necessary to meet a menace against the life of the State itself.

The trend of the Vice-President's remarks seems to be that there is really no alternative open to the Executive Council in the present circumstances but to ask for those powers or do nothing. There I venture to disagree with them, and the attitude of the Nationalist Party, with which I have the honour to be associated, in these matters is determined by certain simple principles which form portion of the heritage from the past. Inasmuch as we claim to be Irish Nationalists, our principal preoccupation is with the safety and welfare of the State as by law, natural right and by the people's declared will, established—the State which represents and comprises all these diverse elements, racial, political, social and religious, of which the people of Ireland are composed. We are preoccupied not so much with the protection of the fabric and the structure of the State and of its several institutions, but with the need for consolidating its forces, moral as well as material, and for blending together in a unified whole the very diverse elements of which it is composed, so that the wholesome processes of normal development and healthy growth may tend, in an ever increasing degree, to heal the open wounds which past troubles have left still raw and rankling upon the body politic.

This House meets to-day still under the shadow of the dreadful crime and dastardly murder which robbed the Irish Free State and the Irish people of a most highly-valued Minister and a most distinguished Irishman. A fortnight ago, in referring to this, I ventured to express the hope that out of this national calamity there might arise a spirit of appeasement and reconciliation which would lead to a better state of things in this country in the future. As far as we upon these benches are concerned, we have not yet abandoned that hope, and we are not prepared to abandon it until we have some evidence, at least far more evidence than we have had to-day from the two Ministers who have spoken, that the time has come for counsels of despair. We have faith in this country, faith in her destiny, and we have faith in the generosity of temperament and in the essential patriotism of her people. That faith has maintained us in trying times, and it is in the light of that faith that we shape our course to-day.

The Government comes before us with three Bills which are linked together closely by the circumstances of their origin, and although the motion before the Dáil only strictly deals with this Bill, at the same time the policy underlying the proposal in this Bill cannot, to my mind, be adequately considered without some reference to the other Bills. When the Government asks this Dáil for extended facilities or powers for the prevention and punishment of crime, or for the protection of the State, its demand undoubtedly carries unanswerable force so long as it furnishes at least a prima facie case of necessity, and so long as the measures proposed fall within certain clear lines of principle. So long as the Government is established and maintained in office it must be armed with adequate powers to enable it to perform its duties and the responsibility for suppressing crime and for protecting the citizens of the State lies upon the Government. It must, therefore, be given every reasonable latitude in devising the measures which it thinks best suited for that purpose. I am sure that there is hardly a Deputy in the House who does not sympathise with the Government in the origin of the present problem and the difficulties with which its proper treatment is surrounded, but I think the Government has fallen into a grave error in its method of approaching the problem.

Surely, of all countries in the world, there is in Ireland least excuse for confounding politics with crime. The whole history of the constitutional movement in this country during the last half century teems with instances of the unwisdom and the injustice of harassing, persecuting and punishing politicians engaged in constitutional political action, because somewhere, away perhaps upon their extreme left, there are other persons who seek to serve similar or parallel aims by the perpetuation and the perpetration of crime. Over and over again it was attempted by exceptional legislation and by special tribunals to make the constitutional politicians responsible for crime and agrarian outrage, or for the actions of several secret organisations, of which perhaps the Invincibles are best known. The lesson always was that that type of coercion defeated itself, because the conscience of the people was revolted by the unfairness of it, and the administration of the law was deprived in consequence of its strongest aid and its truest moral sanction.

I am not going to draw any parallel between Mr. de Valera and his party and Parnell and his party. The distinctions are obvious. Mr. Parnell never dealt in violence, and was an avowed Constitutionalist. Mr. de Valera has dealt in violence and is an avowed opponent of the Constitution, but so far as we are aware, he appears to have abandoned counsels of violence and certainly seems to have embarked upon elaborate plans for legal and constitutional action. To that extent, and perhaps to that extent only, the parallel exists. I can see no good reason for shutting the door upon his constitutional activities, and I am bound to say that I see no good reason for doubting his sincerity when he hastened publicly to condemn the murder of Mr. Kevin O'Higgins. We are prepared to assist the Government in obtaining increased powers and facilities for the prevention and punishment of crime, but we are not prepared to countenance political repression, or the prevention of constitutional action, even though it is directed to the achievement of an unconstitutional end.

A simple instance will illustrate my point. In the Dominion of South Africa there has been a Republican Party which has for some time abandoned the methods of armed rebellion in favour of those of a constitutional kind. I see no reason why the path that was left open for General Hertzog in South Africa should not be left open to Mr. de Valera and his colleagues in the Free State.

Has it not been open since 1922?

I can say that with the greater freedom, because, as everyone knows, neither my friends nor myself have ever at any time been associated with Mr. de Valera; we have been absolutely opposed to his policy continuously and consistently. For these reasons I say that we are opposed to the linking together of the Public Safety Bill with the Constitutional and Electoral Bills.

Different considerations may apply with regard to the Public Safety Bill. I assume that there is necessity proved for a grant of increased powers to the Government. I admit that I am not wholly satisfied as to the necessity, but, when Ministers, who have detailed information at their disposal, come here and give us that assurance, I, for one, am not disposed to resist it. But when we come to examine the Bill what do we find? It is a proposal to have in certain events neither civil law nor martial law, but an extended criminal code, administered by special courts freed from every kind of legal or constitutional restraint, which will, at best, be wholly irresponsible, and, at worst, mere pliant tools in the hands of the Executive. It is an amazing proposal, and it is quite appropriate that it should be served up with an express provision for the abrogation of portion of the Constitution.

In all well regulated States the true, the best and perhaps the only guarantee for the fair treatment of the individual by the agents of the Executive is to be found in the civil law, and in the independent jurisdiction and authority of the judiciary. What earthly justification has the Minister shown for abolishing, even conditionally, the function of the jury and judges as protectors of the ordinary citizen from arbitrary action by officials and Executive agents? It may be, and possibly has been, said that juries might be intimidated and perhaps be unwilling or unable to perform their duty. But can any case be made out for exempting our Irish judges from the performance of their proper functions in a time of stress? Speaking, if I may, as an humble member of their own profession I venture to assert that the judges of the Irish Free State will make no claim to be relieved of their duties in a time of public stress, and that it is unfair to suggest that they are any less ready than any other class of the community to do their duty, even though there might be, conceivably, inconvenience and perhaps danger.

On these benches we are ready to strengthen the law, but we are not prepared to abrogate the law. We cannot believe that the best way of protecting the State and the Constitution is to abolish every guarantee which the Constitution affords in the way of safeguards against error or abuse of power by the Executive in dealing with the people. We cannot grant to the Executive powers to repress without the possibility of legal restraint, nor the power to deal out punishment without any possibility of legal review. We are not prepared to grant powers of life and death, expulsion and imprisonment to amateur judges and to abolish the bulwark of civil liberty, the judiciary. When I say the judiciary I mean above all the independent judiciary. We cannot, therefore, on the broadest and most elementary grounds of principle, accept the Public Safety Bill as it stands.

There are, of course, minor points, important enough, but relatively of subsidiary importance, which can be dealt with in Committee. Some of these have been already referred to this afternoon. For our part we intend to vote for this motion for an adjournment of the Second Reading for a fortnight so that an opportunity may be granted for reconsideration both of the scope and the nature of these proposals, so as to attempt to bring them into something like conformity with public opinion.

I must add that, under no circumstances, either to-day or a fortnight hence, can we support the grant of any exceptional powers which comprise the abolition of all Constitutional guarantees and the abrogation of the functions of the independent Judiciary. The arm of the law can be most abundantly strengthened, in my view and in the view of my colleagues, without having recourse to such an objectionable and dangerous expedient. If the Government make a case—and they have made some case—for the extension of existing powers within the bounds of reason and of principle, we shall support them. But they will have to show far more cause than they have shown if they are to expect support from these benches for a proposal such as this—a proposal which, in my opinion, is an abrogation of the fundamental rights of your own Constitution —a proposal for which no necessity has been shown and which, if it became operative, would not, so far as I can see, secure the public safety one whit better. There is no party more anxious for the safety and security of the individual than those who sit on these benches. But the rights of the individual must be spared. They must not be wantonly and unnecessarily taken away. If that is to be done, there must be the gravest, urgent and immediate necessity. It is true that some portions of this Bill need not necessarily be brought into operation at once. But that does not get away from the extraordinary powers that the Executive are asking—powers for which, I respectfully say, they have shown no necessity.

If the Vice-President thinks that I desire to give no extra powers to the Government, he is mistaken. I desire, with my colleagues, to give any necessary powers, whether by strengthening the police in the performance of their duties or by strengthening the methods of punishment for crime. But I am not prepared to allow the individual citizen of this State to be brought, on a charge grounded on suspicion—as many of these charges will be—before a court not composed of independent judges but of military officers. Some of these officers may merely hold the rank of commandant. They will be the nominees of the Government—and, no matter what they may do—whether in error or otherwise, their actions can never be questioned. There should be and there must be some power intervening between the actions of the Executive and the people. If an individual were to be brought before one of these courts as now proposed and if that court wantonly went out of its way to condemn that man unjustly, he would have no redress of any sort. I do not suggest that that state of affairs will take place. But we, as public representatives, should not allow a Bill to pass which would make it possible for an individual citizen of this State to be subjected to such treatment.


took the Chair.

It is very difficult, in debating the motion by the President and the proposal by Deputy Johnson, to say exactly the things which would please everybody in this country. The Farmers' Party, so far as the present question is concerned, are going to disregard Party position in the best interests of the country. They are not going to try to put any other party which claims to stand for the maintenance of law, the protection of life and the punishment of crime, in a more difficult position than that in which they themselves would care to be placed.

Let me say at the outset that we deplore the introduction of this measure as much as any other representatives, or any other Party in this House or in this country can. We deplore it just as we deplore the terrible crime which gave it birth; and let me say that it is impossible to separate this Bill from the murder of the Vice-President. I am not going at this stage to follow the lines of Deputy Johnson and Deputy Redmond, and debate three Bills in one. We are going to discuss the first motion before the Dáil and decide it on its merits, and then face up to the others when we have to take a decision on them.

In the past I was one of the few Deputies in the Dáil who pleaded on many an occasion with the Executive to deal temperately, and with toleration, with the people whom they had taken as prisoners. I was hopeful then that a kindly spirit would be reciprocated. I faced up oftener to the late Vice-President on this matter than probably any other Deputy here. I often wonder now if I was justified in the high hopes I once held. I think, however, that the majority of the people of this country do not stand for the extermination of a Government composed of Irishmen duly elected by the people of this country through their votes in the ballot boxes. I think they do not stand for their extermination by the gun. Whatever risks there are for constitutionalists, be they leaders or followers, they, too, must stand up against such a policy. The methods adopted against one Party to-day may, and probably will, if they are successful, be applied against another Party to-morrow. Under such circumstances, what would be the prospects for ordered government in this country? That is a question we have to ask ourselves.

We were all appalled by the tragedy at Booterstown, but our sorrow was not only for the family of the late Vice-President, great as that sorrow was. Our sorrow was not for the green fields and the bogs of Ireland. Our sorrow was for the people, the dwellers in the bogs and in the green fields and in the slums of our cities. We sometimes hear regrets about the boundary and sorrow is expressed that our Motherland is torn in twain. One goes up to Ulster and, in the green fields there, one sees the line of demarcation between the North and South. These fields there are undergoing no pain because of that line of demarcation. What we are troubled about is the suffering and disadvantage and trouble to the citizens who live in a common country. What did the assassination of the Vice-President mean to us? What does it mean to me? I might, perhaps, be pardoned for putting it in this way, but I consider my own constituency. There we require, perhaps, £100,000 to carry through the necessary drainage schemes for the farmers in the country. I wonder what the cost of this foolish crime is going to be to my constituents. That £100,000 is going to cost our farmers in the new circumstances six per cent. instead of possibly five per cent., or less, as we hoped to get it before the 10th July. That is to say, it will mean £1,000 more to our farmers than it would under the old conditions. That is the kind of trouble that came before my mind, and that is the kind of trouble that is created for us by what happened at Booterstown on the 10th July.

Within the last three weeks I have had inquiries from all over the country as to when the new Agricultural Credits Corporation is to function. I was not able to answer those inquiries, and when I tried to find an answer I thought again of the difficulties in securing the money that the farmers of this country want, and I thought how much more it was going to cost us under these new and unfortunate conditions than it would have cost before the 10th July. I went on to think of the Barrow Drainage and the beet factory, the work on the Shannon and the new creameries that are to be built all over the country, some of them in my own county. These are the problems that we have to face. These are the problems that we are brought up against by the crime of a couple of weeks ago. It is there that the action of individuals against the State has its reactions on the people of the State. I say beyond doubt that the murder of the Vice-President is responsible for this debate here to-day.

We come right up against the proposition of the Ministry. What is to be our attitude towards this proposition and towards the Ministry? I will be quite frank. I can have no enthusiasm for this measure. There are sections in it that I dislike as much as either Deputy Johnson or Deputy Redmond dislikes them. But I think we must either not pass the measure or approve of it. If we do approve of it we might as well approve of it to-day as in a fortnight's time, and if we mean to oppose it again, a fortnight hence. I say let us do it to-day.

I take exception to some sections in the Bill. I think Deputy Johnson has made a very strong point against Section 14, and so has Deputy Redmond. The procedure in the past with regard to any measure that contained sections that were objectionable was to try to amend these sections at a later stage during the passage of the Bill. The duties of the representatives of the people to-day, or at least some of the elected representatives of the people, are onerous and thankless, and, we might say, they are dangerous. But we have our responsibilities. These responsibilities have been put upon us and we must have the moral and physical courage to face up to the obligations that the electorate have asked us to carry. When the Executive tells us that these powers are necessary for the preservation of the peace and for the protection of life, as well as for the punishment of crime, what is our answer?

I am not prepared to agree that all the powers they seek are necessary to attain their end; but let me say that our Party do not see the alternative. Let us, let other parties too, face this proposition. I think there is hardly any doubt whatever that if parties other than the Government Party, are prepared to agree on this amendment moved by Deputy Johnson, the Second Reading of the Bill is going to be rejected. My Party feels that if this measure is rejected, and if the future of the country should be so unhappy that another Minister or a member of the Oireachtas should meet the lamented fate of the late Vice-President, we would have to accept our share of the responsibility for that act, and I am afraid that some of the blood would be on our hands.

I am not prepared to say that giving these powers may be effective in preventing that taking place.

They are not drastic enough.

Some Deputy says the powers are not drastic enough. I do not even suggest that the most drastic powers that a draftsman could put on paper would be sufficiently effective, and the interrupter knows that as well as, and perhaps better than, I do. We know that statesmen, representative men in other countries, have met the same fate as our late Vice-President. Abraham Lincoln, with his guard beside him in the box, was assassinated, and the history of France and other countries that have passed through series of revolutions teaches us that it is almost impossible to afford the protection that is essential for preserving the life of a man if other men mean to get him. There is the question whether, after an offence has been committed, the crime can be punished. Now, that is what we have to face up to. We might try to dodge the issue, too. Let us suppose that as a result of a combined vote of, I may say, the anti-Government members in this House, the Government is turned out on this, and let us suppose that a General Election might follow—I do not suggest it would necessarily follow, but that it might follow—and the Party across there go to the country, with the country in its present frame of mind, asking for further powers to preserve the lives of the members of the Executive Council or, for that matter, any member of the Oireachtas who wanted to do his duty by the people, I wonder what would the country's answer be? Frankly, I say that if the sympathy that has been expressed from north to south in connection with the murder of Kevin O'Higgins was anything like as real as it appeared to be, the men across there would probably come back with sufficient authority to put through a measure like this and, perhaps, even a more drastic measure, in spite of all opposition.

I confess that I would rather see this measure debated in an atmosphere here when all Parties would recognise that a great tragedy had come upon the country, and that under the circumstances it was not the responsibility of one Party alone to take what measures would be deemed effective measures to prevent a repetition of such a crime. I would rather, as I said earlier, that every constitutionalist in the country would face his responsibility and take his fair share of that responsibility. Through the combined good sense, citizenship and patriotism of all these people we might get a good measure. It might be, as I suggested elsewhere, perhaps less drastic than this, but, given that spirit which I would like to see advanced here from all sides of the House, we would have a measure which, for the preservation of the State, for the security of life, and for affording facilities to enable citizens to pursue their ordinary occupations amid the kind of conditions we would like to see existing, would be really more effective.

Is this it?

Given under these conditions, such a measure might be more effective than one that is more drastic.

You will vote for it.

Deputy O'Connell is at liberty to interrupt. I do not know if he will challenge my candour or honesty or my Party's courage in this matter. Perhaps I should not pursue that point any further. We are faced under the circumstances with something we would rather not face; we regret we have to debate this Bill here to-day. Now, I have heard certain criticisms of the Bill and I am in agreement with some of the criticisms; but I will urge this, that I want to see the Dáil adjourned as soon as possible.

Is that the reason you will vote for it?

I and members of my Party have given very regular attendance here when, perhaps, some of the interrupters were not in attendance.

They were here as often as you.

Deputy Johnson's amendment asks us to adjourn this for a fortnight. Deputy Johnson did not indicate what he expected could be achieved in that fortnight which may not be achieved on the Committee Stage of the Bill if the House faces that Committee Stage in the proper spirit. Neither did Deputy Redmond. I hope the Dáil is as anxious to get done with this kind of thing as we are. We all want to get a rest from legislation. It is the attitude of our Party that the sensible, practical course to take—and I do not know that other Parties are in such disagreement with it, because none of the Deputies who have spoken has indicated that he is against the Public Safety Bill—is to consider seriously this measure. Other Parties indicate that they are in favour of some such measure—just as definitely for it as we are.

They all indicate that every one of them is for it just as definitely as we are. I say that I want a less drastic Bill than this. I hope on the Committee Stage that we will get a less drastic Bill, with which we would all be in agreement, that the Executive Council would accept that point of view and indicate their willingness to make concessions which, in my view, would give them all the powers they require and, on the other hand, would do a good deal to satisfy people who are not in their position, who have not their point of view, who may be excused for not having their point of view, that the Executive will not be given unlimited powers, and given these powers when, perhaps, they are not necessary. I would urge the President on the Committee Stage to accept the sense of the House on those sections that have been particularly criticised. After all, when this tragedy came upon the country, it must be admitted that every Party recognised that it was not a loss for one Party alone, but for the country as a whole. If the country suffers either by too drastic legislation in this form, or because of the fact that sufficient powers have not been given to the Executive, then, if on one side of the House there are men who prevented these powers from being given which might have been more adequate safeguards, they will have, at least, to a great extent, to share the responsibility for what may happen. I think it would be really better under all the circumstances if the President could see his way to get as much agreement as possible on this, and it would be much more effective.

Deputies of other Parties should not stress the point too much that they are looking at this from the point of view of the country, because the implication is that we are not. I do not believe that implication is meant. Everybody takes the trouble to state that the assassination of the late Minister for Justice must not be regarded as the assassination of an individual, that it must be regarded as a blow to the State. But I wish Deputies would realise that, and I wish they would also realise that that is our position. We would be saved a good deal of confusion if Deputies would realise that once for all. You are not protecting Ministers as such, or individuals as such. It is the duty of every Party to protect the State, and it is from that point of view that we are approaching this Bill. The Bill is considered necessary by the Government for the protection of the State. Deputy Redmond said he was a Nationalist, the leader of the Nationalist Party, and that as such he had the completest confidence in the country. Deputy Johnson suggested, without giving the same reasons, that he had complete confidence in the country, in the people of the country and in the good sense of the people of the country. So have we. We have every confidence in the people of the country. We got the co-operation of the people in 1922 and 1923, and it was with their co-operation that we finished the Civil War. But we have no confidence in the gang of organised, perverted criminals who are doing this sort of thing. That is our position; that is the distinction, and Deputies really ought not to be trying to force us into the position that this Bill is aimed at the country. It is not. It is not aimed at the majority of the people of the country, and it is not aimed at the vast majority of people of good will in the country. It is aimed at the secret organisation which the President spoke of, which is fairly widespread, and which is prepared to use political assassination as its weapon.

I would have been much more impressed with Deputy Johnson's speech had I not heard it so often in previous Dáils. I remember the years 1922 and 1923; I remember emergencies in these years, and I remember that we had to take very stern measures—we had to bring forward very drastic proposals, and I remember having heard the very same speeches from him time and time again. His consistent line was always this: "This Bill is going to be used against the citizens of the State; it is not to be used to suppress disorder." The implication was that it would not be used necessarily to suppress disorder, that it would not be used only against organisations that were endeavouring to subvert the Constitution, that we ought not to look at it even from that point of view, but that we ought to examine it from the point of view of whether it is adequate for the purpose for which it would be used, that we should look at it entirely from this point of view, that it may be used against decent, law-abiding citizens. That has been his consistent position for five years in every emergency. We got our measures. Were they effective? I am well aware that I could get a debating answer on that, but we got them, and everyone knows they were effective, and everyone, including Deputy Johnson, knows equally that these measures were used with discretion, and that at no time did we turn them on the people.

We are asked what guarantees there are that we will use these wide powers with discretion. We were responsible for carrying on this Government for the last five years. We were responsible for it under difficult circumstances. We had to take drastic decisions. Did we ever abuse our powers? Did we ever turn our powers on the ordinary law-abiding citizen? Should you not take that into account? Are we going to change now? It was said that the people have no safeguard. Deputy Johnson knows perfectly well that that is nonsense. He takes the first section and points out, rightly, that the Executive, at its discretion, may suppress an organisation which they declare is illegal. He says that the most harmless organisation in Ireland may be suppressed, that it has no safeguard, and that this will hand the whole thing over to the Executive. Is that the position? The Deputy knows perfectly well that it is not, and there is no use in trying to make our flesh creep on those lines. What about the Parliament? Is not this Parliament in existence? The Deputy must have very little confidence in his own Party or in the other Parties in the House. Does he really believe in his heart that if we use this particular provision in the way he suggests we could exist here for twenty-four hours?

We would not let you.


Of course not. That is what you are here for. I could go down the whole Bill in the same way, and I could ask Deputy Johnson if that guarantee is not there the whole time.



Not for the next three months.


So that all the pother has been about the next three months. The Deputy might have stated that. Take the last section, which he dislikes so much, but which I regard as a very necessary and very valuable provision —that is, the provision for military courts. The proclamation which would bring about the emergency under which military courts would be established would necessarily bring the Dáil together, and the proclamation would lie on the table of the Dáil for a certain number of days. Is there a guarantee there? And yet in a historic speech protecting the rights of the individual and the Constitution, Deputy Johnson's whole point was that the Bill was aimed at the people of the country, not at the assassin—that is what it came to—and that there was no guarantee that all the liberties of the people would not be filched away under the Bill.

Might I point out that nineteen sections of the Bill will be in operation, even if no special courts are set up.


Certainly, and as I pointed out to the Deputy, Parliament is always here, and he answered me by saying that it might be adjourned for three months. I will accept that. During the three months, or whatever time the House may be adjourned for, the Government may run riot, but at the end of that period Parliament will have effective control of the situation, and I do state that that is a very effective safeguard against arbitrary use by the Executive of any of the powers that are asked for here.

Will Parliament or any other body have any control over the decisions of the courtsmartial?


I never said they would. First of all, before the section can be brought into operation the Parliament must automatically be summoned, and, in fact, it will be for them to judge, within seven or eight days, in any event, as to whether such a state of emergency exists as to justify the setting up of courtsmartial. The Parliament will be there whilst the courtsmartial are operating, and I do say that is some safeguard, and it is idle to deny it.

Will the courtsmartial be public or private?

Will not the procedure be the same as that in the Central Criminal Court?


I ask Deputies who are prepared to face this in a sensible way, who are prepared to realise that an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous situation for the State does exist, and who are prepared to give some credit to the Executive for some discrimination and, may I say, some patriotism, to assume that this Bill will be used in the way that it should be used against the organisations and individuals that it is intended for. I ask them also to assume that they have an absolute guarantee of that in the existence of the Parliament and of the other Parties in Parliament here. I put it to all Parties and to all Deputies, is deporting not good enough for the gentlemen who are members of this organisation? Is the State at any loss by deporting them? Will the country be any better for their absence? The Deputy complained of giving this power to the Civic Guards to search for documents. I would remind him that they have the same power to search for arms. Have they abused that power? If they had we would have had instances brought up here. If they are to search members, known members of this organisation, their houses and their persons for documents, is that something that the country should shudder to think about? I ask Deputies to go through the Bill in that spirit, and to realise that they must give the Executive in times like these some discretion, and to realise the safeguards that they have got in the presence of Parliament; in the fact that there is a Parliament sitting here. I ask them further whether these provisions are too drastic for the organised body of criminals that they are intended for, and to cut out all this nonsense.

Deputy Johnson said this was a stroke in the air at nothing, just a blind swipe. Is it? I do not think it is, and I am certain that the parties against whom this is aimed know perfectly well that it is not, and that they know perfectly well that it is aimed at them. I would ask Deputies to remember that we are not dealing with fanatics. Remember, we have had a civil war; remember we had a revolution first and a civil war afterwards, and that these always leave a criminal residuum and that you have got to deal with that. Do not approach this problem as if you were dealing with misguided, well-intentioned fanatical idealists. You are not. You are dealing, as the President stated, with a secret organisation. You are dealing with a gang who are prepared to use assassination as their weapon, and remember that you will only convert that gang by making it too dangerous for them to use it. Remember, too, that they are very likely to come to the conclusion that it is extremely dangerous for them to use that weapon if we get these powers. Have some confidence in your Parliament and say that we will not abuse these powers.

There is just one other matter that I wish to deal with. Deputy Johnson made a most unworthy point when he talked about aiming at the political extinction of a rival party. I characterise that statement as most unworthy. No one knows better than the Deputy that the political extinction of that Party is going to bring no grist to the mill of the Party to which we belong. No one knows that better than the Deputy, and notwithstanding that, in this situation he comes along with a cheap gibe of that sort.

The Minister is aware that they are the chief opposition to the Government.


I am not going into that. Every sensible man knows perfectly well that if they were extinct, if they did not go up for election at all, it would be no advantage to our Party.

And if they had the sense to come in they could beat the Government.


Quite so. I wish we would have an end of the charge that this was an attempt to bring grist to our political mill. Everyone knows that it is not. Every other Party would benefit more than we would, and every Deputy knows that, and yet on this occasion the gibe is used. I am surprised.

I said political opponents.


The words were "rival political opponents," and the implication is quite clear.

I stand by it.


Deputy Redmond drew a lot of analogies between Mr. de Valera and Parnell. Mr. de Valera was this and Parnell was this, and they had this and that in common, and there were various things that they had not in common. In spite of the fact that the Deputy is a Nationalist and at the head of a Nationalist Party and never loses a chance of telling us what a Nationalist he is, he does not seem to be aware of the fact that the one big difference between Parnell and Mr. de Valera is this: that Mr. de Valera has persistently challenged the majority will of the Irish people whereas Mr. Parnell persistently challenged the majority will of the English people.

Did the Minister hear me say that there was an analogy between Parnell and Mr. de Valera?



I said the very contrary. I said that Mr. de Valera was against the Constitution, and that Parnell was always a Constitutionalist, the same of which I cannot say for the Minister or his friends.


The Deputy went on to point out not only the differences but the similarities.

There are no similarities.


I am pointing out, as I am entitled to point out, that a Nationalist leader like Deputy Redmond should be aware that there was one big distinction, and the reason that I point out that is that it is at the root of the whole thing. We were told that we are blocking the Constitution. We are asked: why bring forward these other Bills, that we are turning the minds and the actions, I presume, of the Fianna Fáil Party in an unconstitutional direction and that we are blocking constitutional paths. Are we? I have come to the conclusion, listening to this sort of thing, that language has no longer a meaning and that people do not mean what they say. Will anyone tell me what constitutional paths we are blocking?


That is the initiative— the Referendum. The Deputy knows perfectly well that the use which is intended to be made of that Article is entirely unconstitutional. He knows that perfectly well, no one better. We have been told that for the last three or four years they have been constitutionalists. Again, I ask Deputies to remember that it is the State and not Ministers that are to be protected, and that that Party is at least as great a danger to the State, and that their activities are at least as dangerous to the State as the activities of the gunmen. Have they not been persistently and steadily attacking the Constitution for the last three or four years?

Then the Bill is directed at that Party?


There is one Bill directed to that Party, but there are two other Bills. I am dealing with two Bills, with this one, the Public Safety Bill, and the Electoral (Amendment) Bill.

Let us have one at a time.

The Deputy will have to come into the Chair to decide that.


I would prefer to have one at a time, but apparently the Dáil thought otherwise. We are told that this is not the time to bring forward that Bill. Will Deputies agree with me, or are they deceiving themselves, that the strongest, the most persistent and the most insidious attacks on the Constitution have come from that political Party; that they have been endeavouring for the last three or four years to prostitute the Constitution. Is that so? The Constitution is the State, and if we are here to protect the State why should we not do it now, and not defer it for three or four months? If the State is in danger let us take all the measures necessary for its protection. We are told these people have gone back to constitutional methods. Have they?

On the eve of the election.


I am not going back to 1922-23. I remember what happened before the election. Six months before the election their leader said that the issue of majority rule and minority right would have to be bloodily fought out. Deputies know that as well as I. Then he went to the elections on the oath and the oath alone. It was stated persistently throughout the country that oath or no oath they would go into the Dáil. When the elections were over they got back to the rock of the Republic. Surely the whole history of that period for the last three or four years has been one of oscillation between one extreme and the other. What guarantee have we if circumstances made it possible for them that at the end of six months their position would not be dissimilar to the organisation that is responsible for this new departure in politics which we have had recently. We cannot afford to trust the lives and liberties of the majority of the people to any political group. That is our position. We are barring no constitutional step. We are making it impossible any more to defeat the Constitution. We are leaving open every constitutional method, and our position is this: that there is no short cut or half-way house between constitutionalism and assassination. The day that Party walked out of this Dáil, that day their gunmen got busy and everyone knows it. You cannot play with fire like that. Notwithstanding the Constitution and every safeguard a democracy can have here we are at the end of it with the Government held up and tried as traitors, an illegal junta, by that Party and then people throw up their hands because the gunmen shoot. People should face up to the situation once and for all and realise what we are defending here is democracy, and that we are the real defenders of the Constitution. If the other Parties in this Dáil think we are not entitled to the weapons, the measures, which are provided in these Bills and which we require, then in all decency the other Parties should be prepared to take the consequences.

The Minister for Agriculture stated in the course of his speech that Deputy Johnson was guilty of a most unworthy statement when he said that the Government, in these measures, was aiming at the extinction of rival political Parties.

Aiming at the extinction of "a rival political Party."


Very well. We are quite aware of the Party mentioned. Then the Minister went on to denounce that Party and to say that its activities were as dangerous to the State as those of the gunmen. He put that Party in the same position as the gunmen.


I stated that the implication was clear, that the use of the words "rival political Party" was intended to mean we were out for that Party, and in our own Party interests.


The Minister cannot get away with that.


That is what I said.


Deputy Johnson suggested that these measures were aimed at the extinction of a rival political Party.

For our advantage.


As I have said, the Minister has clearly and definitely put the rival political Party in the same class as the gunman.

Can the Deputy point to any clause in the Bill which does that?


I am referring to the speech of the Minister for Agriculture as indicating what is in the minds of the Government in introducing this Bill. The Minister talked, too, of the defence of the Constitution, and said that the Government were the real defenders of the Constitution. As far as I can see, the manner in which they are setting out to defend the Constitution is to remove from it any clause which happens to be awkward from their point of view. They are removing Article 48, and according to one of these Bills anything in the Constitution which is contrary to the Bill must be removed. The Minister, when speaking, showed his respect for the Constitution, to which the members of the Government and every public servant has sworn to be loyal, by saying that it is all very well to write high sounding things into the Constitution. Then the Constitution is not a reality; it only consists of high sounding platitudes; and the political party in power, and by implication any party that follows, must be free to treat the Constitution as a very insignificant document. Deputy Baxter is not pleased with this Bill. Although he is going to vote for it he thinks a less drastic measure would suit the circumstances. I do not see any difference in principle in the attitude taken up by the Deputy and that of Deputy Johnson. He hopes, and urges, and begs that this Bill be made less drastic in the Committee Stage. His hopes lie in what will be done in the Committee Stage, although he heard the President and the Vice-President state that this Bill contained the minimum powers the Government consider necessary. Any indications given as to what would happen in Committee were in the direction that the Bill would be made more drastic, because one saving clause in it is to be taken out; that is, the setting up of a court of three judges and substituting for it a military court. That is the only indication we have as to what is to be done in the Committee Stage.

There has been talk of facing up to realities and taking responsibilities. No Party has a right to say that they alone are the only people who are facing up to realities and prepared to accept the responsibilities that devolve on them owing to their position. It has been admitted that this Bill or any Bill like it is bound to lead to disquiet and disturbance in the public mind, but the Vice-President says that even though it disturbs confidence it is necessary to prevent a repetition of crime. It strikes me that the best and most effective way of preventing a repetition of a crime such as the dastardly murder of the late Vice-President is to hunt out the murderers and punish them.

And the organisation behind them.


No one has shown me yet that there is a single clause in the measure that will aid in the discovery of those guilty of that murder.

Will it hamper it?


That is not the question. Will it hamper another similar murder? Has that been shown?

What does the Deputy think? Has he any idea?


I do not see how it will be done. There is not a line in it that would enable that to be done. The Vice-President said, and I agree with him, that the man or men who shot the late Vice-President and fired into him while he was on the ground would not be affected by public reprobation or statements of abhorrence of the crime. No, he will not, and he will not be affected very much by the Government's Public Safety Bill or any measures under this Bill. These measures are not going to affect him very much.

Will a fortnight's postponement of this affect him?


The Minister knows very well what the objects of the fortnight's postponement are.

To weaken the Bill.


To take out of the Bill the things that are not necessary in it, for the purpose of detecting those who are guilty of this dastardly crime or the people who would be guilty of similar crimes in the future—that is the object of the amendment. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture made great play of the fact that Deputy Johnson opposed similar measures. Very well. Granted that point, he has his measures and he has not abused them. I am not going to make any charge, either general or particular, to the effect that the Government have abused these measures. They have got their measures of Public Safety and their measures have not been sufficient to prevent the murder of the late Vice-President.




What additional powers are in this Bill that are going to prevent that kind of thing happening? They have not abused their measures. To what extent have they used the measures which they have got? That is a pertinent question. To what extent have they used the powers given them by the Dáil? The President in his opening speech read out a long statement showing that they have had the most intimate knowledge, apparently, of these illegal organisations. What action has been taken by the Government to repress these illegal organisations in accordance with the powers which they had under the Treason Act, under the Firearms Act, and under the Emergency Act passed last year? We know what has been done instead. The Government and their supporters have gone to the country and have claimed the confidence of the country once more on the plea that they have succeeded in restoring law and order, that everything is grand and peaceful, and that there will be no more trouble in the country. At the same time that they did this they knew of this unfortunate story that the President has revealed to us this afternoon. That is the position.

The President in the course of his remarks quoted some statements which, I think, are significant. For instance, he gave a quotation from one of these revolutionary documents in which it was pointed out by those people that what was killing them as an organisation, what was breaking up their morale as an organisation, was not the repressive, so-called Public Safety Acts but the fact that the Free State Government was ignoring them. That was what was breaking up their morale and organisation. There is no one who has any knowledge of organisations, even peaceful organisations, but knows that to be ignored by the person whom you are up against, to be treated with contempt, always has that effect. I have no hesitation in saying so, and that this Public Safety Act, this new reply in this form to the dastardly act of July 10th, is going to put new spirit and new life into some of those organisations. That is the effect it will have.

Deputy Baxter in the course of his statement hinted that those who are opposing this measure are simply dodging the issue. That is what the Minister for Lands and Agriculture would call an unworthy statement.




What he would call, in other circumstances, an unworthy statement. The Deputy hinted even that there was a certain want of sincerity in the expressions which were given here and outside by all parties with regard to what was done in Booterstown. I would like to say that some of the men who were most sincere in their expressions of reprobation of that act are those who are most opposed to the policy which the Government are adopting at the present time. I take the view that the Ministry have already the powers under various Acts to deal with the organisations with which they say they are anxious to deal.

Why postpone it?


Why have not the Ministry used the powers they have?

Why not vote against the Second Reading? Why postpone it.


The Minister for Education knows very well that if the Ministry are in a position to show—I am expressing my point of view from what I can see—that greater powers are needed to put down the use of force, the use of the gun, that this party, no less than any other party, will not be slow to give them those powers. That has been pointed out by Deputy Johnson. We are making no mystery about it. To say that it is necessary, in order to do that, that a man should be stopped in the street and searched, his documents taken from him—thus opening a beautiful avenue to the pick-pocket who will walk up to you and say "I am a Guard" or "I am a C.I.D. man, I want to search you, and see what documents you have"—or to say that a persons, no matter how many men he employs or how many men frequent or use his premises, when a document is got there will be regarded as in possession of that document, as committing an offence, and will be put to the trouble of proving his innocence —to say that that is necessary to put down armed force or the use of guns is something I do not agree with. I am in agreement with Deputy Baxter when he says that we are all here and every party should be here in the interests of the State to support the State. So far as the Labour Party are concerned, they are as anxious for the stability of the State as any other party in this Dáil. There is every reason why they should be because when the State is unstable, they suffer more than any other party and they are anxious to do as much as Deputy Baxter or any other party to support the State. I am in agreement with Deputy Baxter when he says that a less drastic measure than this should be brought forward.

I listened with great interest and attention to the arguments of Deputy Johnson when moving his amendment. I must say, I did not hear one thread of argument in favour of the adjournment of this Bill. If the Bill is necessary, I do not see why it should not be considered now; if it is unnecessary, I do not see why the House should not say so now. When I take that view, I do not support the Bill as it stands, because the Bill, as framed, seems appropriate only to a state of civil war or armed rebellion. The Minister did not say, and we know, the country is not in a state of civil war, or armed rebellion. It is proposed to suspend some of the most vital provisions of the Constitution. Article 70 of the Constitution provides that military courts shall not be used except for their appropriate purposes, that is, the trial of military prisoners, except when the country is in a state of civil war or armed rebellion. Only then can a military court be set up to try civil prisoners. Even with these conditions existing, the military courts are not to be allowed, under the Constitution, to try civil prisoners if the civil courts are functioning. I have not heard any argument to satisfy me that conditions exist that would justify the setting up of these courts for the purposes of trying crime. There was a safeguard in Section 22 of the Bill, which provided that there should be an alternative court for trying these crimes, but that has been taken away, because the President has stated that he will withdraw it.

The clause had it: "At the option of the Executive Council."

Yes, but I understood the President informed the House that he intended to withdraw this form of court. Then it is to be purely military courts and nothing else. I do not think the conditions, bad as they are, and they are very bad, would alone justify the setting up of military tribunals. I do not propose to vote for Deputy Johnson's amendment, because, as I say, if powers are to be given, now is the time to give them. There is no virtue in postponing them for a fortnight. This country is being kept in a state of unrest; its economic position has been affected by a constant state of political agitation, and I do not see that you can do anything but evil by postponing consideration of this measure for another fortnight. When I say that, I wish to add that I will not vote for this measure as it stands, because, to my mind, there are a number of things in it that are wholly unjustified by the prevailing conditions. I do not accept the proposition of the Minister for Agriculture that you must trust the Government to administer the measure fairly and properly. I trust the Government to administer it fairly and properly, but at the same time no measure should be on the Statute Book which contains restrictions and limitations on the liberty of the subject, that no constitutional people can stand for.

When the Bill comes into Committee, I intend to propose a number of amendments. It is against my traditions and training to see Civil Courts suspended from operation, and to put arbitrary power in the hands of a Minister, no matter how much confidence we or the public may have in that Minister. Let me take one or two sections in that Bill. Section 13 deals with expulsion orders, and gives power to the Minister for Justice to expel, on his own motion, any person whom he considers to be unfitted to be allowed to continue to reside in this State. I think that is a section the House should not support as it is framed, because it puts complete arbitrary power in the hands of a single Minister, and while I do not suggest or believe that the Minister would misuse that power, I do not think it is a power which should be vested in any individual. As a constitutional people, we should look, as the final safeguard of our liberty, to the Courts of Justice. If any measure like this is to be introduced for expulsion I shall submit to the House, when the appropriate time comes, that the further power to be given to the Minister in this connection should be that he would be entitled to serve an Order on the suspected person to show cause before the court why he should not be expelled from the State, because if you have a system, under which persons are expelled when the public do not know on what grounds they are being expelled, the public conscience will be disturbed, and there will be rumours that it was done without justification. This should be done in a manner as just as possible, and the public conscience should be satisfied by giving the party charged the right to produce evidence in defence of himself. The public should be satisfied by evidence of that kind that the Order is a just and proper one to be made. The Minister for Agriculture asked you to trust the Government to carry out the provisions properly.

Section 4 deals with unlawful association, but under sub-section (f) a perfectly legal organisation might be declared to be illegal, and the penal consequences of this section would ensue.

"The Executive Council may by order declare any association which in the opinion of the Executive Council promotes, encourages, or advocates (f) the non-payment of moneys payable to the Central Fund or any other public fund whether by way of taxation or otherwise or the non-payment of local taxation to be an unlawful association."

There was an interesting case before the courts recently in which a Deputy, who is in this House, quashed the rates for the County of Limerick. If the Limerick County Council set up a new rate it would be a local rate, and if the Deputy formed an association to oppose the payment of that rate, that association would be, under the terms of this section, an unlawful association. I do not like the provision in the Bill that the Constitution is to be suspended, in fundamental and vital respects, for a period of seven years.

The Articles of the Constitution it is proposed to interfere with here are provided in language than which no language could be more significant as showing a scrupulous regard for the rights of the public and the preservation of liberty. It is proposed to suspend a number of these Articles for a period of seven years, and I do not think the Government have made any case for the extension of the Bill to that period. I do not propose to take up the time of the House in going through a number of these sections, but when the Bill comes to the Committee Stage I will not vote for it unless a number of amendments are accepted to the sections which I think objectionable.

I think the Dáil is indebted to Deputy Rice, because while defining the normal attitude of his Party by refusing to vote——

I did not say that I was not going to vote.

I accept that, but the Deputy certainly stated that he could not vote for the amendment and could not vote for the Bill.

I stated that I could not vote for Deputy Johnson's amendment, but I did not say that I was going to vote against it, as I intend to do.

I apologise if I misunderstood the Deputy. I shall only detain the Dáil for a few moments. A great deal of what I wanted to say has been said by Deputy Baxter. The only point on which I disagree with him is that I am not sure that it is reasonable to ask the Government to indicate that they are going to accept amendments at a future stage which they have not yet seen. I may have done that myself when I was inexperienced, but mature wisdom taught me that that is not right. Deputy Johnson's amendment really is a motion to disapprove of the Bill. If the Bill is necessary, there is no reason why it should be postponed. If it is not necessary, there is no reason why it should be given a Second Reading. Deputy Johnson reduces that argument to bedrock when, in proposing the postponement of the Bill for a fortnight, he expressed the hope that it would be withdrawn and another Bill brought in. The question which we have to ask ourselves is—Are the powers in this Bill necessary or unnecessary? Like Deputy Baxter, I dislike some, though not all, of the proposals.

If these proposals were brought forward in normal times I would oppose them very strongly. These are not normal times. If it is not an Irish bull, I would say that we very seldom have normal times in this country. The normal conditions in this country are abnormal. Most certainly we are not debating this question in the atmosphere in which we might have debated it a month or six months ago. We have to take into consideration the immediate past. There is another factor which we have also to take into consideration. What is important in law is not so much the literal text of an Act as the spirit in which it is administered. We have to judge this Bill not only by the provisions it includes, but by our experience of the past, as to the manner in which the Executive Council have administered other similar Bills. On the whole, they have come to the last Dáil, and to the Dáil before that, and asked for unusual and exceptional powers from time to time to meet a certain crisis in the State. They have, on the whole, exercised those powers with moderation. I remember, before entering the Dáil, reading speeches of Deputy Johnson protesting against what was called the Flogging Bill, but I do not remember, when that Bill became an Act, any action of Deputy Johnson, or any other Deputy, protesting against its administration. It was administered with sense and moderation.

Would it be possible for Deputy Johnson to protest against the administration of the Flogging Act?


By the judges?

It would be possible to debate it on the Adjournment or on the Estimates of the Ministry of Justice. I will go further. I do not remember any speech of Deputy Johnson in the country, where he was not bound by rules of order, protesting against the administration of that Act, because, of his common knowledge, it was not administered to crush the whole of the people. It was only administered in very serious cases where the general opinion of the country was that the person sentenced to flogging deserved it. That is what we know of the past. I hope and believe that this Bill will be administered in the same moderate spirit, that the wisdom of Kevin O'Higgins has descended on his colleagues, and that the Bill will be used only in exceptional cases.

Deputy Rice stated that we had no information by which to judge whether military courts are to be set up. They are not to be set up until the Dáil is called together and has received information to enable it to judge whether they should be set up. I do not agree with some of the criticism directed against military courts. I wish that the Government retained the alternative provision. When I was a young man in the British Army it used to be said: "If you are innocent be tried by court-martial; if you are guilty be tried by a civil court." That will outrage Deputy Rice's professional feelings. I do not believe that officers in military courts have a less sense of responsibility or fair play, though they may not be tied as much by technicalities, than members of a civil court. I believe that they will conscientiously try to do their duty fairly. If Ministers have the spirit that wants to get convictions they can get them without exceptional powers. The safeguard of our liberties—the courts of justice—sometimes have the dice loaded in them. There is such a thing as a challenging of jurors likely to be in favour of the accused.

It is impossible to do it now.

Because of the legislation of the present Government?

If they chose they might have taken the path of eyewash and security, and instead of legislating to prevent jury-packing, they might have left in the old provision enabling a jury to be packed and have appointed judges noted for their subservience to political parties. While preserving the forms they might have distorted justice in this Bill. I am not in a position, and Deputy Johnson and other Deputies who do not sit on the Executive Council are not in a position, to judge of the necessity of the Bill. We have not sufficient information from those who are charged with the preservation of law, order and public peace. We have not, at least, I have not, the same knowledge as they have of the persons, the comparatively small number of persons, against whom this Bill is aimed. When we come to the question as to whether we are to allow this Bill a Second Reading or postpone it for consideration there is one question which comes home to everyone, namely, our individual responsibility as to whether we are to refuse to grant these powers which the Executive Council asks for in the Bill. I do not believe that under this Bill any person will be put to death unless there is a clearly-established case that he has sought, either by carrying arms or by organisation, to take the life of some individual or, greater homicide of all, to kill the State. I do fear that if we refuse the powers that are asked for in this Bill there may be a repetition of the tragedy of a fortnight ago. Ministers say that they require these powers to safeguard themselves and to safeguard the State. They might have said more—not only to safeguard themselves but to safeguard a great multitude beyond themselves. I am not sure that after Deputy Baxter's speech he will be too safe. I am not very sure but that Deputy Belton stands in some jeopardy at this moment. It is not a laughing matter.

It is not.

He has had the courage to act, and in the ideal aimed at by the persons whom the President described, any person who has the courage to act upon his own conscience and his own convictions stands in danger, if that conscience and those convictions run counter to those self-appointed dictators of the State. I am not sure that some poor man called from his home to act as a juryman at a trial might not be in danger if this Bill did not become law. The possibility of another atrocious murder of this kind is a danger that I for one am not prepared to meet. If I were to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill, and such a tragedy were to recur, I should never escape from the shadow of that for the whole of my natural life. I speak only for myself, but speaking for myself I am not willing to incur that responsibility, and therefore I must vote for the Second Reading of the Bill.

In dealing with this Bill, the first thing we have to consider is whether it is going to attain the object intended or not. Last Wednesday, when Deputies came to this House expecting that a Bill of this nature would be discussed, they found that it was deferred. I then thought it was deferred for the purpose of having some sort of an agreed Bill presented to the House to-day. I was certainly disillusioned when I read in the newspapers on Saturday the sort of Bill that was to be introduced. I should say, lest people who do not know me misunderstand my point of view, that I never was a gunman or had any sympathy with gunmen. What we have to consider in dealing with a measure of this sort is not the question of whether drastic measures are necessary or not, but the evolving of a Bill which will make law that will be respected by every individual in the State. There is a very strong feeling in the country against this measure, not because the Government seek wider powers to deal with the present situation that is quite reasonable, but because the Government have gone too far, and because they have conceived this Bill in an atmosphere of panic. There is no question but that the Bill has been conceived in an atmosphere of panic. If I were looking for an argument to sustain that fact, I have it from the speech of the Minister for Finance, who went so far as to give a graphic description of the murder of our late Vice-President. It shows you the state of mind of the Ministers when drafting this Bill. They drafted it at Booterstown—they did not draft it in the Dáil. I say that Bills drafted under such circumstances invariably miss their goal.

It has been stated that nobody has put forward a suggestion why this measure should be deferred for a fortnight. I think it would be a very prudent thing to defer it for a fortnight— to remove the Bill out of the atmosphere of panic, to give the Government an opportunity of evolving a Bill giving them the powers they require, and, at the same time, not alienating the sympathy of the people, which has gone out to them whole-heartedly in the loss they have sustained by the murder of the Vice-President. There is not a voice or a pen but has been behind the Government in the loss they have sustained, and I am greatly afraid that if this Bill is passed in its present form a great deal of the sympathy that has already been poured out will be lost to the Government and that a Bill evolved under present circumstances will be a Bill that will not be respected by the law-abiding citizens of the country.

I do not intend to deal with the Bill in detail, because I am more concerned at the moment with the spirit than with the letter. We can deal with the details in Committee. But there is one section in the Bill dealing with the suppression of the Press which naturally has a rather intimate concern for me. Freedom of the subject has already gone; we have, then, the freedom of the Press attacked. I think the Government will admit, and with all truth I can say, that the Press, particularly the provincial Press, has always tried to back the Government in maintaining law and order. Under this Bill, newspapers are liable to be suppressed by an order or to have their machinery confiscated, and the country left at the mercy of rumour—one of the most dangerous things that could be set loose in any country. Once you muzzle the Press you muzzle liberty, because rumour is a very much more dangerous thing than anything that might slip into the newspapers and that might be regarded as seditious. The Press is not seditious. For ten or fifteen years there never have been less seditious publications than at the present time. I think the Press might very well be left to take care of the public weal, and to be guarded, as it would be guarded, in dealing with matters likely to do any harm to the State.

The Minister for Agriculture mentioned that we should divest ourselves of cant. He said that this was not the time to talk cant. I did not intend, until he mentioned that, to refer to another aspect of this Bill and what led up to it. The President, in justifying the introduction of the Bill, read us a long history of an illegal and seditious organisation, winding up on May 27th, when he said it was known to the Government that within a certain organisation there was what I might call an inner ring of assassins. This Bill is intended to get at that inner ring of assassins. Although we had various differences at the General Election, there is one thing upon which all Deputies were agreed—that law and order must be maintained, and we will assist the Government in every way to get at this ring of assassins. But if there was a ring of assassins in this country in May, 1927, and that the result of their operations has been that a Minister of State was murdered on the 10th July—murdered when he had nobody to protect him—I should like to know what the Government were doing in the meantime in leaving the Minister for Justice unprotected from May until July, and then when the harm was done coming in with panic legislation to cover up their tracks.

I say it was the duty of the Government, above all, to have protected the Minister for Justice, first, and, in fact to protect all the members of the Executive Council. Here we find the late Minister for Justice left a prey to the assassin when the Government was aware of the existence of an organised gang of assassins out to murder the Minister or anybody else. That is the reason, I say, that this Bill was conceived in panic. I think the Government should consider what Deputy Baxter suggested and try and get a measure that would be acceptable to the House and to the people of the country, that will have every citizen in the Free State behind it and that will not close up the wells of information where information is required. If the Government produce too drastic a measure the wells of information will dry up. Their Intelligence Department will not get the assistance otherwise they would get from the ordinary citizen of the country.

I do not think anyone who has spoken in this debate has suggested, for one moment, that the Government should not get reasonable powers, and powers that would commend themselves, above all, to the people of the country. That is what we want. I say the two outstanding things in connection with the murder of the Vice-President are the wonderful sympathy which it evoked from this country, and from every other country, and the disappointment of the people by the production of a Bill like this to menace the liberty of the people who are full of sympathy for the Government. I think the Government would be well, advised to reconsider this Bill. We may go into Committee and spend a very considerable time in debating the various points in the Bill. It would be much better to adopt Deputy Johnson's suggestion to sleep upon it for a week or a fortnight, evolve a better Bill, and get an agreed measure, and we would be much better when all is over than we would be with a measure of this kind to remain in force for seven years.

No, I did not say that. I can read the exact words if the Deputy wishes.

I rise to support the amendment and to oppose the Bill. Let me say, by way of preface, Deputy O'Hanlon has struck the proper note in supporting the amendment, when he suggested that this Bill was framed in Booterstown and not in a cool atmosphere. The reasons, I am sure, that animated Deputy Johnson in asking that the consideration of the Bill should be adjourned for a fortnight were to enable the Government to consider this matter in a calmer and cooler atmosphere with a view, no doubt, that a Bill containing less drastic provisions should be brought before the House. I confess to a sense of disappointment at the tone of the President's speech and, still further, at the tone of the Vice-President's speech and that of the Minister for Agriculture. I also want to say, notwithstanding the warning of Deputy Cooper, that we, who have been filled with horror and who have condemned in private and public the brutal murder and assassination of Mr. Kevin O'Higgins, will give every support that is necessary to the Government to hunt down those assassins, and it is my earnest desire and hope that those assassins will some day be found and meet with their just deserts.

In opposing this Bill, I want to ask Deputies on the opposite benches how many of them have read the provisions of the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Act, 1926? If I thought for one moment that the Government wanted to be empowered to do anything that would add to the safety of the Executive or to the stability of the State, I, personally, and I believe the Party to which I belong, would give them every possible support. But already in this Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Act, 1926, adequate protection is given and adequate measures are taken to see that most of the things sought to be protected in the new Bill are already provided for in the 1926 Act. The Executive must be aware that all Parties in this House, and public bodies and institutions outside it, are with them in their efforts to put down crime, and I submit that most of these things are already provided for. What greater powers do the Government require than are provided for in Part I. of the Act of 1926, where it is stated—

"If at any time the Executive Council is of opinion that a national emergency has arisen of such character that it is expedient in the public interest that the provisions of Part II. of this Act should be put in force, the Executive Council may, by proclamation, declare that a state of national emergency exists."

Or again, in Part II. of the Act, which provides, under Section 3:—

"It shall be lawful for an Executive Minister to cause the arrest and, subject to the provisions of this Act, to order the detention in custody in any place in Saorstát Eireann of any person in respect of whom such Minister shall certify in writing that he is satisfied that there is reasonable ground for suspecting such person of being or having been engaged or concerned in the commission of any of the offences mentioned in the Schedule to this Act."

I do not want to take up the time of the House by reading out the Schedule, but amongst the things provided for in the Schedule are any offences such as

"having, without lawful authority, any lethal firearm or other weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged; or any ammunition for any such firearm or weapon."

Now, these things, as I said, are provided for in the 1926 Act. In this Bill a very serious and grave responsibility is thrown on the parents and guardians of young people. Section 18 says:—

"Where any person (in this section referred to as the offender) under the age of 16 years is convicted of the offence under this Act of being a member of an unlawful association the parent or guardian of the offender shall, unless he satisfies the court that he has not conduced to the commission of the offence by neglecting to exercise due care of the offender, be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months."

There is a general consensus of opinion amongst Deputies that, while every effort should be made to safeguard the State and the lives of our citizens, there are many objectionable sections in this Bill, and the pity of it is that the Government appear to have been so panicky that they rushed into this legislation after the lamented death and assassination of our late Vice-President.

There are many provisions in this Bill with which even those who have stated, as Deputy Baxter has stated, that they are going to vote for the Bill are not in agreement. Those Deputies have as much objection to many of the provisions of the Bill as I have. I do not find myself in agreement with them when they say that they are prepared to accept the Bill simply because it contains one or two provisions which are agreeable to them. At a later stage, when we go into Committee, I hope to have something to say on the clauses which I consider too drastic. Deputy Johnson's amendment embodies, very largely, responsible opinion throughout the Saorstát and was designed to help rather than to retard stable government in the country. I support Deputy Johnson in his amendment.

Deputy Rice this evening indicated his disagreement with Deputy Johnson on the subject of this amendment. He suggested that he did not understand the reasons for the amendment. In so doing, he revealed to some of us who have been in this House somewhat longer than he has that he knew very little about Deputy Johnson. If anything, we have seen to-night an advance on Deputy Johnson's attitude on a similar type of measure, when the occasion demanded that a similar measure should be introduced previously. For five years we have had the spectacle here of Deputy Johnson daily, in session and after session, lusting after humanitarianism, objecting to powers that the Executive Council thought were needed at certain times, pointing out the abuses that might occur if the Executive had these powers conferred on them. Never once have I heard those abuses particularised, nor have I been able to find from the records of the House that Deputy Johnson was able to point to any abuse of the measures he so vehemently assailed at the moment of their introduction. To-night we get an advance——

Does the Minister challenge an exposure?

Why did not the Deputy give it in his Second Reading speech.

The Deputy has had his opportunity of speaking. I had occasion to criticise before the amount of speech the Deputy contributes in this House. The Deputy is surely able to put up his points without being reminded by speakers who come later of the points he missed.

The Minister ought to know that we have refrained, out of deference to the Ministry, from exposing matters that have arisen in this House for which the Minister for Justice was responsible.

This is the first time any Deputy of this House has heard that statement. It is the first time it has been put to me, and I hesitate to believe that the Deputy has refrained from exposing anything he thought could be exposed.

That is just like you.

I make Deputy Johnson an offer—that the Deputy should expose what he refers to now. Let him give us the whole thing.

I make another offer—let him expose it when I am finished. The Deputy has proposed now that we delay for a fortnight. The Deputy has delayed for five years in making up his mind as to what is to be done when the State is confronted with a critical situation. After 1922 —a very critical year—Deputy Johnson came into this House and made a confession as to what the electorate had thought of his actions during that year. That was after the election of 1923. The Deputy came here disappointed with the result of the 1923 election.

As you came back disappointed with the result of the 1927 election.

We came back in bigger numbers than you ever did.

If I came here in 1927 and made the abject confession that Deputy Johnson made in 1923, let it be quoted against me. I shall quote now from the records Deputy Johnson's opinion in 1923 of what the electorate thought of his action during 1922 on measures such as this which were brought before the House. He said, in dealing with a question as to the treatment of internees and prisoners:

I think it is the duty of someone to be here to deal with those questions and to raise them and to criticise the policy of the Government with regard to them. But, for my part, it has been intimated fairly and clearly by the electorate that they do not desire that we, of the Labour Party, should take the responsibiliay of criticising Government action on these matters.... Questions of this kind have, if we interpret the intentions of the electorate rightly, been relegated rather to the Deputies of the Government Party and to the Deputies of what is known as the Republican Party, and I have the right to assume that both these Parties will accept the responsibility which has been imposed upon them....

That was the Deputy's view of the verdict of the electors upon his attitude on this type of measure when it was considered necessary to be brought forward in 1922. That is his own confession as to what the electorate thought of him. If Deputy Rice only knew, there is a tremendous advance in Deputy Johnson to-night, brought about, no doubt, by the electorate in its criticism of his weakness in dealing with matters of this kind. At present, he only proposes an adjournment for a fortnight. I am sorry he did not get permission to move his original resolution. His original resolution provided for an adjournment for a week. That would be more appropriate—a week for weaklings, a week that they might consider what they would really do when up against a situation, a situation that we, at any rate, have to bear the responsibility of dealing with.

Deputy Johnson has not yet learned the difference between having a seat on the stand and a stance in the arena, when there are important and dangerous matters proceeding. Deputy Johnson took care at the last election that he would not enter a team to compete in the arena. As the Minister for Justice cynically expressed it, the Deputy put forward just a sufficient number of candidates not to be forced to accept any responsibility for dealing with people who are out to attack the State. We have that long-drawn-out performance again—an hour of this washing of the hands and evading of responsibility in connection with this measure, which is brought forward not in panic, but after great deliberation. "Extraordinary and most drastic powers" are sought in this Bill, according to Deputy Johnson, and then we have the peculiar tag: "powers which would not have been sought for on the 8th of July." Possibly not. But has nothing happened since the 8th of July to make us take a new view even of what the President revealed to-night?

Deputy O'Hanlon believes, having misunderstood the President's version, that after May, 1927, we knew there was in fact a conspiracy by armed assassins against Ministers. There was no such knowledge. The President has stated that there were documents to show that the old I.R.A. was breaking up and that there had been proposals for assassination. But there was no achievement of assassination until after the 8th of July, and there was no necessity for these measures until after the 10th of July. But once the 10th July had come, there was every reason for these measures. If these measures are not going to pass, will those who occupy seats in the stand realise their position if they have to take up their stance in the arena at some later time?

This resolution, as it appears on the paper, has been ruled out of order. I doubt if anything more cynical has appeared on the Order Paper than is contained in the resolution on to-day's Paper, and Deputy Johnson, according to the resolution, proposes to confer upon the Executive "such additional powers as may be shown to be necessary for the purpose of preventing crime and bringing criminals to punishment," but he "is of opinion that any measures for these purposes should be of such a character as to reassure rather than to alarm the people." It is a pity Deputy Johnson could not have impressed that point of view on the assassins. Knives would have been the weapons. A quite and easy death for the late Minister! Something that would not have alarmed the populace, something that would have enabled him to be buried "darkly at dead of night" without saying anything as to how he came by his death! Reassure the people! Reassure the people after the deed of the 10th of July! We want to reassure certain people and we want to alarm certain other people. And these are the measures which will produce the reassurance and the alarm. We want to assure the people behind the State that they have a Government who are going to tackle the problem which is put up to them, and we are going to alarm the people who are engaged in a conspiracy and indulging in a career of assassination and crime against the State. We are told that the assassins will not be heroes, but that they will be execrated. We are supposed to remain quiet in the belief that these people will not be heroes but that they will be execrated. We are to carry on. Further tragedies will occur, and Deputy O'Hanlon will then get up and ask: "Why were not precautions taken; had you not got warning through one death?" There was great public reprobation of the deed. There was a great outpouring of sympathy here and elsewhere. Presumably, we should be satisfied with the public reprobation of the deed, the funeral and all the attendant expressions of condemnation, but the Executive should not be armed as it thinks it is necessary to have itself armed to hunt out——

I never made such a statement.

I had got away from Deputy O'Hanlon a long time ago. The Executive is not to be armed with the powers it thinks it should be armed with, firstly, to track down the assassins and, secondly, to prevent potential and would-be assassins from getting any other achievement to their credit as that which happened on the 10th of July. This, we are told, is "a blow at nothing; a blow in the air." Again, I must emphasise the phrase used by Deputy Johnson: "aimed at a rival political Party." If Deputy Johnson means that in fact, that a rival political Party is in some way connected with the assassins and that this Bill is aimed against it— then, if that be so and if it has that aim, I say it is a good aim. If that was not Deputy Johnson's meaning— I do not presume it was his meaning— what was the meaning of his argument at all? It was surely this—that this is a Bill to make political capital. What political capital is the Executive or the Government Party going to get out of any of these three Bills? Is the blow of the assassin going to be turned aside from the Government or the Government Party and directed against other people by reason of their attitude on these Bills? If the political Party that everybody knows is being referred to, is not allowed to take further part in elections, is there going to be a great flow-over of Fianna Fáil votes to the Government Party? Or is there going to be any accession of strength to other Parties that are not supporting us in the strong measures we think it necessary to take? There is a certain aim at certain other political Parties. The people are aiming at them, not the Government. Certain other people are aiming at them for support, or are rather aiming at those people who would ordinarily support Fianna Fáil candidates, and who may not be able to vote for them hereafter.

We had certain quotations from the President's speeches—that certain Public Safety measures "disturb the public conscience and upset things," that "public opinion might be shaken" and that "public opinion is very easily shaken." Why bring forth all these platitudes with regard to this Bill? Is there any disbelief that public opinion was shaken before this Bill made its appearance at all? I have seen no evidence that public opinion has been shaken by the appearance of the Bill. Public opinion was very severely shocked by the crime which preceded the Bill, but I have seen a very definite accession of strength to those who are banded together in defence of the State by reason of these propsals having been mentioned. Deputy Johnson has glossed over the details of the Bill and has given a misinterpretation of one of its provisions.

He said that special courts will be, presumably, set up immediately the Bill is passed. What is the meaning of Part I. and Part II. of this Bill if that is to be the case? Is that all camouflage? Is it simply intended to "gild the pill"? The moment the proclamation part of the Bill comes into effect the proclamation calls this Dáil together. I ask Deputy Rice, whose training should, perhaps, definitely and obviously lean against what is proposed in the last section of the Bill, is he able to say that he cannot envisage circumstances in which it might be possible and necessary to have special courts of a military character? Remember, I do not make the point which Deputy Cooper made—I think incorrectly made—in a detail, that the Dáil is to be summoned before the tribunals are set up. That is not the case. But the Dáil follows so quickly on the establishment of the tribunals, that Deputy Cooper's point is right, inasmuch as the Dáil will have the fullest opportunity to discuss the reasons which led to the setting up of special tribunals, what type the tribunals are going to be, and what justification there is for them. Remember that the Party bringing forward this measure does not, at the moment, command a majority in the House. If it brings forward a proclamation which calls the Dáil together and proceeds to establish military courts in a certain emergency that demands this course, and the House does not agree with that, there is an end of the matter.

The President has indicated one departure from the Bill. Let us realise what the departure is. It was laid down here that the special tribunals, when they came to be set up, were to be, at the option of the Executive Council, either three judges or a military tribunal. We could leave that provision in and determine that it was our duty to set up special tribunals that would always be military tribunals. Is it not more honest to declare here and now that we see no reason for bringing in these judges, but that we are going to trust to the jury system until we see reason to depart from it, and that then we shall have no half-way house? The amendment to the Bill is an amendment in a very small point. It is not material to the Bill and it does not give the Executive Council any greater power than they had previously intended to ask the House to give them.

Deputy O'Connell has talked of the Constitution as one expects to hear the Constitution talked about by the Labour Party. I am not in a mood to see this State go down in wreck and ruin simply to preserve a Constitution which the Oireachtas has a right to change at any moment.

The Constitution is capable of change. The Article providing a special method for changing the Constitution was inserted at Deputy Johnson's request. It was originally proposed that the Constitution should be rigid and subject to change only by means of referendum. Deputy Johnson was the man who put the elasticity into the Constitution. It is that Constitution, with that elastic method of change, which we have sworn loyalty to—to every single Article, including that which provides for change in certain contingencies. We believe the occasion can be envisaged when that change will be necessary by the method laid down in the Constitution. We are not proposing to amend the Constitution at the moment, though it may be argued that we are allowing for the amendment of the Constitution in a contingency. The Dáil will have an opportunity of saying, not immediately but three or five days later, whether or not the crisis is such as to warrant that being done.

Deputy O'Connell indulged in a jibe that we said we restored law and order and yet we had the story that was revealed here to-day. I make the same answer to that that I made to Deputy O'Hanlon previously: You have proposals for certain things and we know, too late, with regard to the assassination of one man, that the proposals were going to be carried into effect; he and Deputy O'Connell then go on to make the definite point that the documents themselves reveal, that ignoring these people had broken up their morale; hence the proposal that we should continue to ignore them, in Deputy Johnson's limited phrase, "for a fortnight." We should continue to ignore them in the hope that nothing further will happen. Is that going to be the attitude of sane and reasonable men brought about by the occurrence of the 10th of July? By ignoring them we "broke up their morale," and as nothing has happened since we are to forget all about what has taken place. We are to believe, with Deputy Johnson, that the measure should be such as would reassure rather than alarm. We should not take any measures for the safeguarding of the people; we should not take any measures if they "retard progress towards normal methods of resolving political differences" or if they "tend to prolong the alienation of large sections of the population from the State." I deny that any measure brought forward to-day tends to "alienate large numbers of the population from the State." It may tend to alienate a certain number of Deputies who, under a misdirection to the people, were elected to take up a certain position in the State, and they refused to take up that position; but it will not alienate the people who voted for those men under a belief which those men were very ready to encourage as the election went on.

Deputy O'Connell is annoyed because a man may be put to the trouble of proving his innocence. Surely any well-conducted citizen in the State in a moment of crisis will not object to give proof of his innocence if he is suspected of something and if suspicion seems attached to him on good grounds for something. Is that a great reward for the protection a State ordinarily affords to a citizen—that in a moment of crisis he is asked to prove his innocence, reversing the ordinary rule that he is innocent until proved guilty? That is the grievous complaint Deputy O'Connell has to portion of this measure. Deputy O'Hanlon asked us to get away from cant, and then he talked about the liberty of the Press.

I was referring to what the Minister for Agriculture mentioned.

The Deputy used a quotation about getting away from cant, and then he talked about the liberty of the Press. He has no sense of humour, I fear.

I did not mention it in that connection. Your notes are a bit mixed.

The Deputy talked about the liberty of the Press and then talked of cant. That was the order; I am quite certain of that. The liberty of the Press! The liberty of the subject is generally considered to be safeguarded by the fact that a judge and jury, or sometimes a judge alone, have to pronounce a verdict before any sentence of imprisonment is imposed, or before any offence can be brought home to a man or any punishment inflicted upon him. What is the proposal in regard to the Press that Deputy O'Hanlon objects to? That it has to be proved to the satisfaction of the High Court that a paper is guilty of certain things. Do we want any further liberty of the Press than that?

There is nothing about proof in the Bill.

"A Judge of the High Court, on the application in a summary manner of the Minister for Justice and on being satisfied..."

That is not proof.

The judge is going to be satisfied without proof! The Deputy has a more peculiar conception of the judges of this country than what the Executive Council has. The judge has to be satisfied. That is the best guardianship of the liberty of the Press. We are told the Press has been averse to sedition; that there has been no sedition. That being so, the Press has nothing to fear for its liberty.

I did not say there was no sedition. I said there was never a period in Ireland for ten years in which there were fewer seditious publications than at the moment.

And if that period continues then there is no fear for the liberty of that type of Press. Deputy O'Hanlon made an appeal with regard to sympathy. We are quite convinced and satisfied with, and we quite appreciated, the wonderful outburst of sympathy there was at the outrage; but sympathy is not very deep unless it goes a little bit further than mere sympathy.

Lip sympathy.

Sympathy is not very much good if that is the only safeguard the people are going to have with regard to the future. Sympathy is all very well after an event, and if one were to take the sympathy expressed after the outrage, if one were to take the sympathy at the moment when sympathy was most deeply felt, what would the people who expressed that sympathy have done? What safeguarding would they have given to the Executive Council and what further powers would there be granted for public safety? Would there be any challenge from those who expressed their greatest sympathy; would those powers that we seek be regarded other than as simply obvious powers for any Executive to ask and would they be regarded as powers sought by people in a panic who bring them hastily before the Dáil? We are asked to postpone this measure for a fortnight. Presumably, at the end of a fortnight, as Deputy Anthony thinks, after the consideration of what has been said here there will be brought forward a measure which can be described as one not at all conceived in a moment of panic. It will probably be, in Deputy Johnson's words, a type of measure that will re-assure rather than alarm the people. I do not confess to anything in the nature of panic with regard to this Bill; panic could not be applied to any detail of this legislation. But I will confess that after the speeches I have listened to to-day I would approach that new measure with feelings of rage and disappointment at the way in which this very moderate measure has been received by the Dáil in the face of the crisis the country knows is upon us.

I certainly am not going to allow Deputy Johnson or his followers to put me in the position of having to re-assure certain people whom I do not want to give reassurance to, and of having to fail to give alarm to those to whom I would wish to give alarm, simply that Deputy Johnson may occupy Opposition Benches, and that colleagues of mine will be forced to carry a load which they offered at the very first meeting of this Dáil to give over to any collection of Deputies who cared to take it from them, but they found no answer to that appeal. It is a different thing to have a seat on the stand from a stance in the arena. Those of you who are sitting on the stand and are considering those things should make up your minds as to what you would do if you were to take up your position in the arena. The Executive Council may not be the very best. The Executive Council you have may be, perhaps, regarded as the best of a bad lot, but remember that the safety of the State depends upon some Executive Council, and the election of certain men to an Executive Council means that they are better than some other set in the Dáil. They are entitled to be given confidence, and the measure of the confidence we ask you to give us is this measure, and every clause of it. If that Bill be not given to us in the strength in which we ask for it, then we will refuse to have any confidence in the Dáil; we will refuse to have any further confidence in this Dáil as a proper one to face any emergency, and the Dáil can take the consequences thereafter.

If any Deputy in this House had any doubt whatever as to the wisdom of Deputy Johnson's amendment, that doubt should have been dispelled by the speech to which we have just listened. It has been stated that this was a vindictive Bill. Deputy Johnson stated that, and the Vice-President rose to it immediately and said that it was not vindictive. Every word uttered by the Minister for Industry and Commerce supports the view put forward by Deputy Johnson.

Vindictive against whom?

A more vindictive, a more bitter speech has never been delivered in this House.

Should not one be vindictive against assassins?

The Minister was vindictive not only against assassins but against anybody who had the temerity to give expression to views that did not coincide with his own. A more vindictive or meaner attack on Deputy Johnson I have never listened to. The Minister said to the Deputy "a week for weaklings," and that we shirked everything that was important and dangerous. Deputy Johnson and some members of his Party were here and did their duty in this House when there was danger, and when the Minister was not here. We are not shirking our responsibilities. We have to stand up to those dangers just as much as the Minister or any member of his Party; we are prepared to shoulder our responsibilities, and we have shouldered them for the last five years. But are we to be accused of shirking our responsibilities because we are not going to see eye to eye with the Minister and his colleagues upon every subject which they care to introduce into this House?

Those of us who know the Minister for Industry and Commerce are not a bit surprised at his speech, and I am afraid that this Bill bears the stamp of the Minister for Industry and Commerce right through it. If the same frame of mind and the same attitude obtained in the framing of this Bill that we have just been treated to here now, then it is easy to understand the Bill. The Minister said that there were people in the country that they wished to reassure just as there were people that they wished to alarm. Hence, the Bill. I can only speak for a part of my own constituency that I was able to get in touch with since this measure was introduced, and I can assure the Minister and the House that the people whom the Minister would wish to re-assure are the people who are alarmed by this Bill. In my opinion, and I may be wrong, the only people who welcome this Bill are the people that he would wish to alarm. I have heard nothing but condemnation of this Bill and the other Bills that have been brought in with it, and not only for what they contain but the circumstances in which they have been introduced, and that condemnation has come mostly from people who are his supporters and who voted for the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. Condemnation has come from people in all walks of life. The Minister turns aside as worth nothing any expressions of sympathy which we gave over the murder of the Vice-President.

I said I appreciated it.

That sympathy was as sincere and as heartfelt as the sympathy expressed from the Minister's own benches or from any Deputy in the House.

I am quite sure it was.

The Minister has taunted us with doing nothing, of trying to shirk everything, always being on the safe side of the fence. There is no such question in our minds. If the Minister will bring in a Bill here to get the powers that, in our opinion, are necessary in order to put down crime and to put down murder and to put down assassins, and to put down the organisations that are trying to overthrow this State through force of arms, he will have the support of our Party. But the bringing in of a Bill which is treating the Constitution as if it were a scrap of paper and expecting the Dáil to swallow it without any protest, is asking too much.

We hear a lot of talk about the stability and about the necessity for giving the country a good name. We were told how necessary it was that this country should have a good name, particularly just before the floating of a new loan. It was said, and quite truly said, that the murder of the Minister for Justice would have a bad effect. But the introduction and passing of this Bill through the Oireachtas will give an impression to people both in this country and outside this country that conditions are seven times worse than they really are, and this action of the Government is doing more harm to the credit and stability of the country than all the assassins that we ever reared in this country could do.

I find it unnecessary to say anything about the actual merits of this Bill, but one would think, after listening to the speeches from the Government benches, that the speeches made in opposition to this measure were fundamentally opposed to it. Let us clear the air for a moment. What has been the nature of the speeches made against this measure from the Opposition benches? Merely, and very simply, they are that the terms of this measure are too drastic for the conditions existing, and I was surprised and astonished on listening to the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who has just sat down. One would think that every Deputy who spoke against this measure refused to grant to the Government any powers which they require to protect themselves and the State and the State officials. No such speech has been made here this evening. There have been no speeches of that kind made—except speeches criticising the measure simply on the grounds that it was too drastic in the circumstances. The Minister for Industry and Commerce tells the House that if he were to consider this measure in the light of the speeches delivered here he would approach the consideration of that measure with rage. Let him go and consider it with rage. Let him go to Merrion Street and consider it with rage. We will not sit in this House and not discharge the duty of criticising any measure that comes before this House. I am speaking for my colleagues and myself. Has there ever been, at any time, a more modest consideration and criticism of any measure than we have heard here to-day? The measure has simply been criticised from the point of view that in the circumstances it went too far. That was the length to which the criticism went, and in face of that the Minister comes up here in a towering rage at the idea that any Deputy should dare open his mouth to criticise the measure. That is atrocious.

That is a despotic state of mind that I would certainly oppose, and that is the state of mind the country has in view, and which we are here expressing when we heard the introduction of this measure which has been brought in to protect the Ministers, the State, and the State officials from the assassins. But we have here the introduction of three measures whose aim is to take away their liberties from anybody who dares to express any opinion on current affairs in this country. While I think this measure was necessary and everybody agrees that it was necessary to some degree—every rational being who wishes to stand for the stability of this country agreed after the assassination of the Minister for Justice that some extra powers were necessary to be given to the Government in order to defend themselves and to defend the State—yet surely when they introduce a measure seeking those powers and when the House considers that those powers are too drastic, the Deputies should be treated with greater consideration than they have been by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Be that as it may. There are one or two matters which occurred to me on listening to this discussion. There has been an impression left, at least on my mind, after this discussion and that is that there is no distinction between the various sections in this country who refuse to recognise the Constitution. Really, I think that is a mistake. I further think that a thing of that kind is unjustifiable and that it is not prudent. For example, Deputy Cooper has stated that Mr. Belton's life may be in danger through his entering the Dáil. Does Deputy Cooper suggest and does he want to convey to the country that the Fianna Fáil organisation that has declared itself Constitutional—I will not put it any further—will assassinate Mr. Belton for entering this House? I think that is an unfortunate statement, very unfortunate, and I think, perhaps it is only a slip on the part of Deputy Cooper. I wish to draw attention to it as a highly improper statement. There is another matter that I would like to draw the attention of the House to and I do not do it in a spirit of hostility or criticism. There is no doubt that it is the feeling of all elements in the community who stand for stability, law and order that it is an unfortunate thing that these measures dealing with giving extra powers to the Executive Council, dealing with the imposition of the Oath as a condition precedent to being nominated as candidate, have been introduced. That is my view. I think it is a grave error. I think that if the Government at this moment met the House in a reasonable way they would have no difficulty in getting this measure. I appeal to the Government to drop any implication of retarding the constitutional developments of a certain party in this country.

I think the Government should drop that measure, at least for the present, because the Bill we are discussing and the Bill with regard to the Oath, there is no doubt about it—let us not deceive ourselves—will create a universal impression in the country and among these people that the House is deliberately taking a step to prevent them from returning to constitutional methods. Let us leave the door open for them. I am not here to make a special plea for them. It is unnecessary for me to say that I have never been unconstitutional, that I have never been a gunman, but I want to see a return to universal constitutionalism in this country, and I do not want the House to do anything that would frustrate the development of that. It is all very well to say that the door is open for them, but surely we must agree that people who, a few years ago, were absolutely unconstitutional and revolutionary, have taken a great step when they at least said that they were going to work in the future on constitutional lines and by constitutional agitation. Let us remember, further, that while they are not actually in this House, they have been at the door of the House, and that also was, I think, an advance. I think in face of these things that the President and, the Government would be wise in agreeing to the modified measure that the House would give them, but that for the future happiness and for the peace and prosperity of this country they should drop the other measures.

I may perhaps be suffering a bit from stage fright on this, my maiden speech, on what is practically my maiden visit to this House. I support Deputy Johnson's amendment, but not because it is the best in the circumstances of the two points of view that are before the House. I would like Deputies who have gone through the fight of the last ten, twenty and thirty years to remember that this measure is aimed directly at the hearts of their old comrades-in-arms. The people who have gone to the country at the last General Election, who have told the country that they brought law and order, peace and stability, have come here with this Bill, which is a complete confession of failure and of instability. The Minister for Industry and Commerce betrayed the feelings that are in the minds of the people who drafted the Bill. He made a wonderful statement; he admitted a principle which I would strongly appeal to him to put into practice, and to use the respite that this fortnight's delay would give him to do so. If he does—if I cannot speak for any members of a Party outside myself, I certainly can speak for the overwhelming majority of Nationalist opinion in the country—I can say that if the present Ministry go halfway to meet the position in a fair and peaceable way, the country will back them, and I for one will become one of the strongest of their supporters. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said that he was not prepared to let this State go down to rack and ruin in order to obviate a change in the Constitution. I suggest that a change should be made and that the removal of the obstacle which is keeping out of the House a large Party would be the greatest Safety Bill that could be passed by this or any succeeding Ministry. It would bring more stability into the country than a million of these Safety Bills.

I have not had the advantage of reading this measure in detail, but certain points that have been raised are worthy of note. It states:—"An association that promotes, encourages or advocates the non-payment of moneys payable to the Central Fund or any other public fund, whether by way of taxation or otherwise, or the non-payment of local taxation." I thought they had sufficient power under recent legislation to put into prison people who defaulted in the payment of rates and Land Commission annuities. If people object to the financial settlement made by the Government behind their backs and behind the backs of this House they can for the next seven years, be put into prison. I wonder how that squares with the action of these very men in carrying out that deal with the British Government and keeping it dark from the House and the country for eight or nine months.

I associate myself as much as any other Deputy in this House with the condemnations of the murder of Mr. Kevin O'Higgins. That has been condemned by leaders of political parties, and it is not fair to be accusing political parties with being responsible for that murder. I am sure that the President accepts the statements of responsible leaders of parties, even though they may be opposed to him, and that he takes it that they are honestly given.

All that the President's speech contained was certainly news to me, as I think it was to the majority of this House. With all the facilities at the disposal of the Executive Council, with all the police—and we have been told more than once that the Civic Guards and the C.I.D. are efficient bodies, and I am not casting any aspersions on them, and we have been told that the Army is efficient—why do they not track down the murderers of the late Vice-President? Why has the Executive Council been so lax in its duties if it had all the information contained in the President's statement, which went back covering the years 1924, 1925, 1926, and up to the present time?

Up to May, 1927.

Well, that is near enough to the present time. I think that some sort of rapprochement should be made between the different Parties that claim to be constitutional. There was an armed insurrection in this country from 1916 to 1921, and England showed its mailed fist in a blunter manner than probably at any other period of her history, and a truce was called in July, 1921, just six years ago. After a few months an agreement was come to that was accepted by the majority of the people of this country, and we have had the word of the President that England has honourably carried it out.

Does the President consider that it is harder to compose differences with his own fellow-countrymen who, he claims, have been in arms against the State for five years, practically the same period that the armed fight went on here from 1916 to 1921, and at the end of which we were able to settle our differences with the British. Now are we not able to settle the differences amongst ourselves, differences that have gone on only for the same period of five years? He has claimed that. Other speakers have pilloried Deputy Johnson for giving the same speech in 1922 and 1923 as he delivered here to-day. He did not then support the measures that the Executive Council asked for. Do not Deputies think the fact that the Executive Council are asking for similar measures to-day is a justification for Deputy Johnson's opposition to the request for these measures five years ago? These measures failed, not because you had not power, but because you had too much power. You sowed the wind and you reaped the whirlwind. If you sow the wind again you will reap the whirlwind. There are Deputies on the front Bench who, from my personal experience, know a lot about secret organisations. They know this: that if you do not provide a safety valve for political opinion you will drive that opinion underground and increase, rather than diminish, secret organisations, which are a danger to the life and the limb of the State.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce stated that if the Dáil does not give the Executive Council the powers sought for under these Bills that the Executive Council will place no confidence in the Dáil. I wonder what that means. Does it mean that if the Dáil does not give the Executive Council the powers they are seeking that it is going to act on its own and set up military dictatorship? This is not a matter to laugh at. It is a matter that requires explanation, and I, for one, would like that it be explained in a peaceable state of mind and not in the vindictive way in which the words were originally uttered. If this measure becomes law in its present form it will boil down to an attack upon a political party and there will be no line of demarcation between what is called a Constitutional political Party and the gunman, as he has been described here. I would suggest for the serious consideration of the President and the members of the Executive Council that they should act on the principle underlying the statement made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and to weigh up the present situation, asking themselves: Not have we had enough medicine for the malady that the country has been suffering from, but have we applied the right medicine, and have we diagnosed the patient properly? You diagnosed the patient as suffering from an insurrectionary fit, an attack on the State in 1922, and you asked all the powers you needed for that. It is too late now to express an opinion on how those powers were used or abused.

There is one thing which I hope Ministers in future will refrain from, and that is boasting about the excesses that were committed in 1922 and 1923. If disgraceful things have to be done a public platform is not the place to say that we have done so much, and that we would do it again seventy times or seven hundred times. Remember, that wild talk of that kind may have made many a gun speak. Ministers should be more circumspect in the future, far more circumspect than they have been in the past. If they diagnose the patient properly they will find that it is not force that will settle the present malady the country is suffering from. They may consider that we are economically prosperous. It has been said that we were economically prosperous when we were never so economically depressed. They may reach a time when there will be nothing, perhaps, in this country but one man and a dog looking over a ranch in the middle of Meath. That fellow may be prosperous, but then it may be that if there is an Executive Council it will have to deport him for having a gun.

Let the Executive Council consider seriously the people that gave them support when they wanted support, let them consider the people that, if this country is ever engaged in external wars, will give them support. They will find support from the people who are urging them to hold out the hand of peace on this occasion, and not from those who want to show the mailed fist to their own fellow-countrymen. The time was when the small working farmers and the labourers of this country were called upon to do their bit for the country, and they did it. These are the people who are suffering to-day, and who are not able to pay their way. They are the people who have to send their children, as they grow up, to a foreign country, and in all this suffering and depression they are met with callous indifference from the Ministry, from the gentlemen on the front benches. These people are crying out for peace. They are crying out for a union between Messrs. Cosgrave and de Valera. When Messrs. Cosgrave and de Valera were together they appealed to these very people to stand with them for the country at a time when these other people that are urging President Cosgrave to-day to use the mailed fist and to deport these men, were working for the British Government and the Black and Tans.

The Vice-President smiles, but this is not a smiling matter. He and I walked the cement track in Belfast gaol together, and he should remember that we are the people who helped the national movement then and not those who are now clamouring for the blood of Irishmen, for the blood of men who were then brother leaders in the fight, with President Cosgrave and Mr. Blythe. Let them cast their minds back over four or five years and ask themselves is it more difficult to make peace between brother Irishmen, and in some cases between brothers and sisters, than it was to make peace with John Bull after 700 years of hate? Let President Cosgrave hold out the hand of friendship now and let this suggestion of Deputy Johnson go through. The President has got protection, but we who are, perhaps, as much exposed to danger, have no protection, and if there are bullets going for members of the Oireachtas there may be some coming our way. If I am correctly informed, even some of those people whom the Government are legislating against have got protection whilst the rank and file, the back-benchers, have no protection. The President was able to live during the last fortnight when feelings were at their height, and surely he should be able to live for another fortnight. Surely he has not the wind up so much as that.

I suggest that we should give a chance to those who want to pursue peaceful constitutional methods. Whether we agree or disagree with the Treaty and with the Constitution, or with certain matters done under that Treaty and under that Constitution, we have had to put up with them up to this and we could put up with them for another fortnight. I appeal to the President and the other Ministers to wait one more fortnight, as suggested in the amendment. I would like as a gesture in the right direction that that should be done unanimously by this House, and I make this promise that if I am then alive I will support this measure if a reciprocating gesture is not made by the other side. We want peace. It does not matter whether it comes from Cumann na nGaedheal or Fianna Fáil, or from the Labour Party or any other party. It does not matter what Government we have if we do not get peace soon for we will have no country, and then you can have a present of your Safety Act, for you will have no one to save as the people will have all deported themselves of their own free will. I may say in passing that there has been criminal folly in legislation in allowing England's grip and policy to function in this country. That policy Griffith spent his life teaching us was wrong. More people have been deported than could be deported under the Public Safety Bill. There is no use in bantering or trying to make political capital out of this crisis. The party that does the right thing now is the party the country will back. The people are as well aware as the leaders of the political parties that we are face to face with a crisis.

There are people in this country with very bitter memories who will forget these memories if the leader comes forward now and does the right thing. I appeal to the leader, whom I do not follow and probably never will, to do the right thing now. It does not matter who will follow him; he will find the country with him. If he makes a gesture and if that gesture is not reciprocated the fault will not be his. It is a very simple matter, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce stated that it can be done. Why is it not done? You can change the Constitution in the way desired by removing the oath, if it is an oath, and, personally, I do not think it is, but there are people who do, and they will not come in here until it is taken away. It is well known on the front bench that that oath was not mandatory in the Constitution. Get it out of the Constitution, and get the people to come into the House. That is the Public Safety Act you want, and that the country is clamouring and praying for. I suggest that should be done instead of setting up military courts, for reprisal will beget reprisal, and if any of us are alive in five years' time, or whoever will be here in five years, will be doing what we are doing, or rather trying to prevent being done. Five years ago the same thing was done and with disastrous consequences. The whirlwind of that time has to be reaped.

I fought the late Vice-President politically over the same ground. I regret his death as much as any Deputy here, but I regret still more the circumstances of his death, and that there should be anyone in this country or any circumstances that would bring about the death of a public man in such a way. Any of us may die to-morrow or the next day, but it is the circumstances and mentality responsible for this crime that are shocking. The way to eradicate the mentality that is responsible for this crime is by unity and fellowship. There is one man here who can bring that about, and I appeal to him to do that big thing and he will have the support of the country, and will stand out as the biggest man in its history. In saying that I do not want to flatter him, and I do not care whether it will bring him kudos or not. I hope someone will make a gesture to save the country from the gun, from military tribunals, from coercion, and this foolishness of two-thirds of the representatives of this State meeting here carrying out a certain legislative programme, with the other one-third fool-acting on the Quay at this moment, and probably, as has been pointed out by the President, another group somewhere else plotting the assassination of us all. That is the position.

Electricity becomes strong by the mere resistance you put to it, and the electricity of these political machinations will become stronger the more resistance you give them. The President in his statement admitted that the information his officers captured was to this effect that while the Department of Justice ignored certain societies these societies were dying out, but when it attacked them the electric resistance came along and they grew apace. That principle applied to what the President knows a great deal about and what I know a little about, the little rising here in 1916, which grew apace until it swallowed everything in the country simply because of the resistance put up against it. If such notice had not been taken of the movement it would not have grown to be the force it did.

The statement has been made that certain people are playing with fire. I throw that back, and I tell the President that he is playing with fire, and care should be taken that we will not all be burned in the conflagration if the situation is not handled properly. I do not agree with Deputy Johnson on many things, but I agree with him on this matter, if it was for no other purpose than to allow passions to cool, to allow people to read and digest the terms of the Bill and the full powers that are being asked for. Give us this fortnight's respite and if some progress towards peace cannot be made in that time well then in my opinion there will be a much better case made for the Bill as it stands. I am sure that Ministers will not slacken the guard they have for themselves at the present time even though we should go unguarded and that they will be able to look after their skins for the next fortnight whatever dangers ours may be in of being punctured.

After the brilliant maiden effort of Deputy Belton I am sure the Dáil is in no humour to listen to a dry-as-dust old stager like myself. I would like to congratulate the Deputy on what he has said and to subscribe, to some extent, to the gesture he has made for peace in the country in the hope that whatever suggestions he has thrown out may bring about a real safety, rather more safety than the Safety Bill that is before us at the moment will. I was glad that the Minister for Industry and Commerce more or less exhibited his true philosophy this evening. It is sometimes very hard to get into close contact with his philosophy. He is very well able to cloud it in words of ambiguity—something one cannot get in touch with. He said that Deputy Johnson's greatest crime was his hankering after humanitarianism. I think any one of us on those Benches who know anything about the Minister for Industry and Commerce will never be able to charge the Minister for Industry and Commerce of hankering after humanitarianism. His lust is quite in the opposite direction and if it is not commendable for Deputy Johnson to hanker after humanitarianism well, we know at least that the Minister for Industry and Commerce thinks that hankering is something that should not be developed but that the Minister's hankering in another direction is something that is worth sustaining. I disagree in toto with that, but it exhibits the mind of the Minister and it probably exhibits to some extent the mind of the Executive Council on the matter before us. There are other lusts besides lusts for humanitarianism. Perhaps it is a blood lust and once a blood lust starts we do not know where the circle will end. We do not know what will be the circumference of the circle. I suggest that at the outset we should get to grips with realities.

Hear, hear.


Deputy Gorey approves of getting to grips with realities. Most people approve of things with which they fail to get in grip themselves. I suggest that Deputy Gorey might get in touch with realities before he approves of this measure. One of the main realities is—what is this Bill going to achieve? What is it going to achieve in the diminishing of crime? What powers do Ministers desire that they have not at the present time for the punishment and suppression of crime? How much easier will it be to detect and check criminal inclinations by the passage of this Bill? How much easier will it be to apprehend criminals by the passage of the Bill? Not one Minister who has spoken has given us any proof, has even endeavoured to give any proof, that this Bill will add anything to their ability or to the ability of their officers to detect or to apprehend the criminals. Not one iota of evidence has been adduced to show that this measure is going to give them any greater ability. That is one of the great realities we have to face. I disagree in toto with what Deputy Cooper has stated. One would imagine from what Deputy Cooper said that there is danger lurking at every corner. One would imagine that there are men with guns at every alley and cul-de-sac ready to blow out the brains of somebody they disagree with.

The position is that the country is not understood by many people. I know the country just as well as anybody else, and I do not see that terrible danger we are told so much about by Deputy Cooper. I do not see any danger lurking anywhere. We are told, and it is an unfortunate statement, I agree, that probably Deputy Baxter is in danger. We were told that Deputy Belton may be in danger after his speech this evening. Those are statements that should not be made in an assembly of this kind. There is no danger to any Deputy in this House for expressing his opinion, and there is no use in spreading that report, and broadcasting it not alone to this country but to every country in Europe and in America—that a Deputy in this House after a general election has been gone through—a Deputy elected on the suffrage of the people, is in danger because of expressing his opinion in the National Parliament. That is a statement that should not be made simply because the statement is not in accordance with the facts.

Of course Deputy Baxter told us that he was more concerned with the people than with the green fields of the country. That is a sentiment that one would like to hear oftener expressed. It is the people that matter. That is the reason I am opposing the Bill and supporting the amendment. I am concerned with the drainage of the Barrow, as Deputy Baxter is. I am concerned with the continuation of the Shannon scheme. I am concerned with the finding of money to continue arterial drainage schemes just as much as any other Deputy, but is this Bill going to help the finding of money for the maintenance of these schemes? Is this Bill going to help the finding of money for the starting and continuance of drainage schemes? Is this Bill going to act as a gesture of confidence to those people who are likely to lend money for those schemes? I submit this Bill is going to have quite the opposite effect, and if Deputy Baxter is concerned with these schemes, if he is concerned with the welfare of the people, he will not raise this cry, that there is danger lurking everywhere, and that the Executive Council has not sufficient power to deal with the menace that is threatening the country. It is not by raising the cry of a menace that you will be able to continue the condition of the country as it should be continued. I am not minimising what has happened. I should like to say that the death of the Vice-President of the Executive Council cannot be considered a loss to his Party or a loss to this Dáil. It must be considered a loss to the entire State. That is the expression of opinion that has been given widely. That manifestation of the menace is something that cannot be ignored, but can we say that that manifestation of the menace is sufficient evidence that the Executive Council need the power they demand? I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 8.30 till 3 p.m, Wednesday, 27th July, 1927.